Steven B. Wilson
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Blaney was running the famous No. 21 solidly in 14th place (he had run as high as seventh throughout NASCAR’s longest race) when the engine let go in a spectacular white cloud during lap 282, which caused him to hit the wall.
“It sputtered and started to go maybe a half lap before and then it really went up,” Blaney said standing outside his garage. “I didn’t expect it to really explode like that.”
Blaney and company were hoping to continue the progress made in the team’s fourth-place finish at Talladega earlier in the month.
“I hate it for these guys,” Blaney said of his Wood Brothers teammates. “They work so hard and they gave me a good piece and we were getting it better all night. I really would have liked to see where we ended up.”
Blaney qualified the Wood Brothers Ford Fusion in 16th position and was in 18th after 50 laps. He was back to 16th after 100 laps and 11th after 150 circuits. At the half-way point, Blaney was in 12th but slipped back to 14th at the 250-lap mark before the engine let go on lap 282.
“I thought the Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Fusion was pretty good,” he continued. “(Crew Chief) Jeremy Bullins and everyone on the team did a great job of working on it all night getting us better, and it really took off on one restart and I thought we were going to be pretty good. We had great take-off speed all night, but we just struggled for grip late in runs. I thought we made a good change to help that for this run and unfortunately the motor let go on us. That’s just unfortunate.”
The next stop for the Motorcraft/Quick Lane team is the Quicken Loans 400 on June 14 at Michigan International Speedway.
“I’m excited for our next outing in this thing and we can always look at the positives and say we had a good run going,” Blaney said. “Everyone is working really well together on this team, so we just need to get running a little bit more and I think we’ll be OK.”
Ford Performance PR
The Colombian outlasted fellow Team Penske teammate Will Power and Chip Ganassi Racing drivers Scott Dixon and Charlie Kimball in a thrilling battle over the closing laps, putting his No. 2 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet in Victory Circle to give Roger Penske a record-extending 16th "500" win as an owner.
Montoya took the lead on Lap 197 from Power and held on by 0.1046 of a second over the No. 1 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet in the fourth-closest finish in race history. Kimball finished third and Dixon, the polesitter, finished fourth in a 15-lap sprint to the finish that featured five lead changes among the Verizon IndyCar Series stars.
"I don't know what to say -- this is too much!" Montoya said after the victor's swig of milk. "This is what racing in IndyCar is all about, awesome racing all the way down to the wire."
Montoya won as a rookie for Ganassi in 2000 and did not race again in the "500" until last year, finishing fifth; during the years in between he drove at IMS on the road course in Formula One and on the oval in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. With Sunday's victory, he set a record for most years between two "500" wins, Gordon Johncock previously held the mark with nine years between wins in 1973 and 1982. He also became the 19th driver with multiple Indianapolis 500 victories.
Montoya qualified 15th for Sunday's race, well behind his three Team Penske mates, and had problems at the start of the race. On Lap 7, Simona de Silvestro ran into Montoya's rear under yellow, forcing Montoya to pit for new rear wheel guards. He fell back to 30th in the running order. On Lap 41, Montoya slid through his pit box on a stop and had to be pulled back by his crew.
But the 39-year-old was clean from that point on and worked his way into a position to win at the end.
"Our guys stayed in there, and Montoya coming from all the way back ... I'll tell you, you give that guy the bit and put it in his mouth, as you know, he doesn't give up," said Penske, who ended a six-year drought at Indy following Helio Castroneves' win in 2009. "I'm just so thrilled for everyone who works for us, all the people who support us and all these race fans - what a great day."
For five consecutive years, the "500" has had a winning pass for the lead in the last four laps of the race. Sunday's race also tied last year's record with 20 cars finishing on the lead lap.
Gordon's day: Pittsboro, Indiana's Jeff Gordon led the 33 drivers to the green flag in the Chevrolet Corvette Z06 and enjoyed what he called a "huge thrill and a huge honor."
The four-time NASCAR Cup champion and five-time Brickyard champion spent a few minutes in the morning with childhood hero and four-time "500" champion Rick Mears and talked to a few drivers in the field before embarking on the first half of his Memorial Day weekend "double."
"To come down that front straightaway the first time and hear that crowd cheering for the cars, the drivers and this amazing event ... to be able to hear that from inside the pace car with the windows down is just amazing," said Gordon, who shortly after his driving duties left for NASCAR's Coca-Cola 600 in Charlotte, North Carolina.
He also relished the chance to have his wife and two children on hand for the start of the race.
"I want to see them see how fast these cars go through the corner," Gordon said.
Gordon will be back at IMS in July for his final drive in the Crown Royal Presents the "Your Hero's Name Here" 400 at the Brickyard, where he will try for a record-extending sixth win on the oval.
Street work: The three members of the Indianapolis 500's most exclusive club are newly honored on streets inside the Indianapolis Motor Speedway oval.
Drive around the infield now and you might find yourself on Foyt Drive, Unser Lane or Mears Way, named, of course, for four-time "500" winners A.J. Foyt, Al Unser and Rick Mears.
Foyt Drive runs north-south just west of the "N" Lot and connects Sixth and Seventh streets. Unser Lane is off of Tunnel 7 and Seventh Street in front of spectator mounds for the IMS road course. Mears Way is off Tunnel 10 on the north end and connects to Shaw Drive just west of the Turn 3 infield parking lot.
Each street is marked with new signage. To see the legends photographed with their new street signs, click here.
One year 'til the 100th: The historic 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race will be May 29, 2016. Merchandise featuring the 100th logo went on sale immediately after Sunday's race at retail outlets at IMS, the Indianapolis International Airport and shop.IMS.com.
For more on the 100th, watch this video.
After qualifying 21st, Cassill ran in the teens all afternoon, led four laps and finished on the lead lap.
“It was a nice run for the Flex Seal Chevrolet,” Cassill said. “The car was comfortable all afternoon, and we hung in there with the lead group all day.”
Cassill has finished in the top 20 in the past four Xfinity races. He advanced two spots to 13th in the series point standings.
JD Motorsports PR
Chastain completed 187 of the race’s 200 laps but failed to be around at the checkered flag.
“Nothing you can do when you have engine trouble,” Chastain said. “We had a good car but couldn’t make it last. We’ll pack up and move on to Dover.”
Chastain, a rookie, dropped from 14th in driver points to 16th.
JD Motorsports PR
A rookie in his first full season in the Xfinity Series, Rhodes drove the Vecoplan Chevrolet Saturday at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
“It wasn’t the kind of afternoon we wanted,” Rhodes said. “I was hoping to get another full race under our belts, but the car ran well until we had issues.”
Despite the finish, Rhodes gained a spot in the Xfinity driver standings to 23rd.
Austin Dillon won the race, and Chris Buescher remained atop the point standings.
JD Motorsports PR
After qualifying 23rd on Saturday morning at the 1.5-mile oval, the 25-year-old Townley from Watkinsville, Ga. knew he would face an uphill battle later in the day against a 40-car field stacked with Sprint Cup veteran drivers and teams in their own backyard.
The start of the 200 lap race didn’t appear to be very promising for Townley, as he ran just outside of the top 20.
But near the halfway point of the event, Townley’s No. 25 Zaxby’s Chevrolet came to life and began running similar lap times as many of the leaders.
However, the cause for joy was short-lived after he radioed to crew chief Mike Ford that his Chevrolet engine had developed a sputter. After pitting on the next caution, it was determined that the alternator was on its last leg.
Following a lengthy stay for a battery replacement and electrical repairs on pit road, Townley would be forced to settle for a 29th-place finish.
“That was a topsy-turvy afternoon,” Townley said. “The car was handling the best it had all weekend and then all of a sudden the alternator goes out. I had no gauges working and I was losing power.”
Townley and his Athenian Motorsports team will regroup and head north to Dover, Del. next weekend, where he will pull double-duty in Friday’s NASCAR Camping World Series race and Saturday’s XFINITY Series event at the one-mile Dover International Speedway oval.“Dover has always been one of my favorite race tracks,” said Townley, fifth in driver points in the Truck Series. “For some reason, I just like the layout of the racing surface. I think we’re in store for two good runs at the Monster Mile.”
Athenian Motorsports PR
For more than 30 years, Coca-Cola and Speedway Motorsports have brought race fans together, enhancing event experiences and providing countless wonderful memories. The partnership renewal celebrates the longevity of their partnership as Coca-Cola and Speedway Motorsports continue to create the ultimate race day experience for fans across the country.
In the renewed agreement, Coca-Cola, along with an array of sparkling and still beverage options, will continue as the "Official Soft Drink," "Official Sparkling Beverage," "Official Water, "Official Sports Drink" and "Official Enhanced Water" for seven Speedway Motorsports facilities including:
• Atlanta Motor Speedway (Hampton, GA)
• Charlotte Motor Speedway (Concord, NC)
• Sonoma Raceway (Sonoma, CA)
• Kentucky Speedway (Sparta, KY)
• Las Vegas Motor Speedway (Las Vegas, NV)
• New Hampshire Motor Speedway (Loudon, NH)
• Texas Motor Speedway (Ft. Worth, TX)
The agreement retains all non-alcoholic beverages at Atlanta Motor Speedway, Charlotte Motor Speedway and New Hampshire Motor Speedway. The renewal also includes title sponsorship of the Coca-Cola 600, the longest continuous sponsorship of any race in NASCAR, at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Coca-Cola, along with Speedway Motorsports, will ensure all of these tracks remain premier destinations for NASCAR fans across the nation for years to come.
“For more than 30 years, Coca-Cola has been refreshing fans at the world’s greatest speedways. What better place to share a Coke over our renewed partnership than at the Coca-Cola 600 on Memorial Day Weekend,” said Ivan Pollard, Senior Vice President, Connections, Investment and Assets, Coca-Cola North America.
“Coca-Cola and Speedway Motorsports share the same passion for entertaining fans and providing the ultimate race day experience. Our partnership renewal celebrates the heritage of this relationship in bringing fans closer to Coca-Cola and the sport they love the most.”
“Coca-Cola and Speedway Motorsports have been making memories together for more than 30 years by honoring our troops, celebrating our passion for racing and creating spectacular experiences for our fans,” said Marcus Smith, chief executive officer of Speedway Motorsports, Inc. “Coca-Cola is the world’s most-respected and recognizable brand, and it’s an honor to extend our partnership into its fourth decade. We look forward to serving our fans refreshing excitement both on and off the track for years to come.”
Coca-Cola is a global brand with deep roots in local communities. Through this partnership extension, Coca-Cola and Speedway Motorsports will continue to create programs that engage race fans at Speedway Motorsports facilities in the local markets and regions where the speedways are located. By creating these unique experiences, Coca-Cola will connect with race fans at every level -- locally, nationally, at the track, in store, at home and elsewhere.
Walter “Bud” Moore, World War II hero and NASCAR legend, turns 90 years old on Monday.
Moore, a life-long resident of Spartanburg, S.C., is like many a member of America’s Greatest Generation. He grew up during the Depression, went off to war as a young man to fight for the United States in World War II, then returned home and built a thriving business.
Moore was the second-oldest child in a family of ten and was the son of a farmer in the grocery business.
As soon as Moore finished high school, Uncle Sam came calling.
“I got out of school on June 1, 1943, and I got my draft papers on June 2,” Moore said last week as he took a break from mowing the pastures on his cattle farm.
He was soon in training, and after a brief furlough that allowed him to spend Christmas at home, he was off to England to prepare for the invasion of Normandy. It would be the largest sea-born invasion in history, with 150,000 troops hitting the beaches.
The ship carrying Moore, whose job was to fire a water-cooled machine gun, left Liverpool and headed into the English Channel for what they were told would be a dry run.
When Moore saw the number of ships at sea, he knew better. “I told some of my buddies that this ain’t no dry run,” he said.
After a day’s delay because of rainy weather, Moore and his fellow troops found themselves a mile off the Normandy coast at 4:30 a.m. At that point, the Navy’s big guns began firing at the defenses on Utah Beach, where Moore and his fellow soldier soon would be landing.
“When those doggone guns started firing, it looked like they were going to blow the coast up,” he said. “It looked like it would be a piece of cake, but how wrong we were.”
Moore made it through D-Day relatively unscathed. “The Good Lord was looking after me,” he said.
The worst of the war lay ahead of him. By the time Germany finally surrendered he’d received five Purple Hearts, four for being struck by shrapnel from enemy artillery and the fifth from a shot through his hip from a machine gun.
But injuries didn’t keep him out of action for long. And fighting under Gen. George Patton meant that he stayed on the move, never looking back.
“Patton didn’t believe in taking ground twice,” Moore recalled, adding that the legendary General also had his own way of leading his troops. “Others would be two or three miles behind the lines giving orders. Patton was up there with us.”
Staying on the move with Patton led to one of the Bronze Stars that Moore received for valor. He was awarded the honor of being on the front lines for nine months and fourteen days without a break.
He got the second Bronze Star after he and his Jeep driver captured a German regimental headquarters and eighteen enemy personnel, including five officers.
Moore started the capture by firing his machine gun at the concrete block structure, the second building he’d attacked that day. Then, fearing a heavier attack was coming, the German garrison surrendered.
When Moore delivered his captives to his superior officer, that officer responded by saying “Moore, what in the heck is going on?”
Moore’s reply: “We’re fighting a war.”
Moore tells of some great experiences, but some; however, didn’t have happy endings. In some cases he still doesn’t know the fate of friends and fellow soldiers he knew along the way.
“We lost a lot of them,” he said, adding that in the heat of battle he often never learned whether his fellow soldiers who fell during battles were injured or killed. “We just hollered for the medic and kept going. How many we lost I don’t know.”
When the war was over, soldiers were sent home in an order determined by a points system, with points awarded for things like Purple Hearts and time spent on the front lines.
Not surprisingly, Moore was one of the first to head home, ahead of some who had been in the service six or more years. And he’s not been back, despite many offers to return to the scenes of the battles he fought.
“When I got on that ship to come home, I told the Lord that if he’d get me that 5,000 miles back home I wouldn’t be back,” he said. “And I haven’t been back.”
“I don’t want to go back. I left too many friends over there.”
When Moore returned home, he and long-time friend Joe Eubanks went into the used-car business. Before long, they traded a 1939 Ford for a race car, and the rest is NASCAR history.
In 37 years as a car owner in NASCAR’s elite series, Moore’s cars won 63 races, 43 poles and two championships of the series now known as Sprint Cup. He also won numerous sports car races and was the crew chief for Buck Baker’s championship run in 1957. In 2011, he was inducted into the second class of the NASCAR Hall of Fame.
Among the people who have come to know and respect Moore over the years are several generations of the Wood Brothers racing team.
During Moore’s time in NASCAR, he and the Woods worked together to develop racing technology for their Ford race cars. Among other things, Moore showed second-generation Wood brothers, Len and Eddie, how to use a slide rule to calculate horsepower while using a dynamometer. In the days before calculators came into common use, the slide rule was necessary to do multiple math exercises to arrive at the final result.
During a rainy practice day at Atlanta Motor Speedway, Moore gave the Wood boys some slide rule lessons.
“I couldn’t use one now, but once he showed us how to use a slide rule we went out and bought one,” Len Wood recalled, adding that Moore often worked with the Woods on technical innovations, much like the Ford teams collaborate today.
Despite all the cooperation in the world, just like today, that takes a backseat when the green flag drops.
“Come Sunday, it’s every man for himself,” he said.
Eddie Wood said the greatest thing Moore has given him, and everyone else today, is his service in World War II.
“Hearing what Bud Moore has said about his experiences at Normandy really makes you think how lucky we all are that people like him did what they did,” he said, adding that there really should have been a movie made about Moore’s life.
“If they had ever made a movie, there’s only one actor who could have done him justice, and that’s John Wayne,” Wood said.
That’s because Moore truly is a shining example of America’s Greatest Generation.
“Beyond all the racing and the wins and the championships, I look at him as a hero of World War II and a great friend,” Wood said.
Wood Brothers Racing PR
|Pos.||Car #||Driver||Manufacturer||Laps||Running / Reason Out|
|1||2||Juan Pablo Montoya||Chevrolet||200||Running|
|16||98||Gabby Chaves (R)||Honda||200||Running|
|19||29||Simona de Silvestro||Honda||200||Running|
|25||4||Stefano Coletti (R)||Chevrolet||175||Contact|