Steven B. Wilson
Steven B. Wilson

Steven B. Wilson

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Jack Beckman ended a 54-race winless streak by racing to the Funny Car victory Sunday at the NHRA Four-Wide Nationals at zMAX Dragway.

Antron Brown (Top Fuel), Larry Morgan (Pro Stock) and Andrew Hines (Pro Stock Motorcycle) also were winners at the unique event that features NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series teams racing in a four-lane configuration.

Beckman powered his 10,000-horsepower machine to the quickest run of the weekend to take the victory over rival finalists Del Worsham, Chad Head and Tommy Johnson Jr. Beckman pulled away from the pack with a final round performance of 3.983 seconds at 308.78 mph at the controls of his Infinite Hero Dodge Charger R/T.

Beckman’s last victory came in St. Louis in 2012. It was his second win at this event, third win at this track and 16th career victory.

"I can't guarantee we'll win another race this season,” said Beckman, the 2012 Funny Car world champion. “I think we will, but I can't say for 100 percent. But, I know for sure we'll be better than we were today. Jimmy [Prock, crew chief] and the team will be even better the rest of the year because they're getting better every race. All the little things are coming together and now the car is doing what they hope it will.”

Beckman moved to seventh in points with the win. He also won in earlier quads, beating Ron Capps, Johnson Jr. and Paul Lee in the opening round and then defeating Johnson Jr., John Force and Robert Hight in the second round.

Worsham moved into the series points lead with his second runner-up finish of the season.

In Top Fuel, Brown claimed his second consecutive victory at this event when he defeated Steve Torrence, Richie Crampton and Clay Millican. Brown crossed the finish line first in his Matco Tools dragster with a 3.749 at 319.90, to take his 48th career victory. By joining Beckman in the winner’s circle the duo gave team owner Don Schumacher his 44th multiple-title event.

"It's been an incredible run at this race," Brown said.  "You have to dig deep to win races like this. We've had a long road with a new combination. We've had some gremlins, but in the final we laid down the gauntlet to bring the win home. It was also huge for the bossman [Don Schumacher] to double up. I hope we can keep that streak going for him."

Brown won his opening round quad against Dave Connolly, J.R. Todd and Shawn Langdon with a 3.771 second run and then earned a wild pedal-fest victory in the second round over Torrence, Doug Kalitta and Connolly.

Brown moved into the series points lead with the victory, ahead of reigning world champ Tony Schumacher and third-place Langdon.

Veteran driver Morgan ended a 120-race drought from winner’s circle in Pro Stock when he held off Greg Anderson, Vincent Nobile and Jonathan Gray in the final round. He drove his FireAde Chevy Camaro to a career-best 6.464 at 214.52 in the winning effort.

"I knew I was still good enough to let the clutch out,” said Morgan of his 11th career victory, and his first win since Las Vegas in October of 2009.  “I knew I could still drive. I just needed to get the right financial backing and hook up with Johnny Gray to get some horsepower. Jerry Haas built me a new car in 30 days, and a lot of other great people helped me get to the winner's circle today. I've surrounded myself with good people, and that's how you win. It wasn't just one guy who won today, it was a team effort."

Morgan advanced with a second place finish in the opening round against Jason Line, Rodger Brogdon and John Gaydosh. He finished first in the second round match against Vincent Nobile, defending event winner Jimmy Alund and Line.

Line moved into the points lead and Morgan jumped from ninth to seventh in the standings with his win.

In Pro Stock Motorcycle, reigning world champ Hines claimed his first win of the season and 39th of his career by outrunning Eddie Krawiec, Scotty Pollacheck and Hector Arana Jr. Hines claimed his second Four-Wide victory and his fourth at this track with a winning performance of 6.805 at 196.30 on his Screamin’ Eagle Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson.

"We got on the dyno last week and tried a few things," Hines said. "We followed through and my V-Rod got us to the final round. We just went out and did what our team does best.”

Hines won his first round quad over Mike Berry, Brian Pretzel and Karen Stoffer and also finished first in the second round quad by outrunning Scotty Pollacheck, Berry and Matt Smith.

Krawiec moved into the series lead with his second consecutive runner-up finish of the season and Hines is second overall in the series standings. 

The NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series continues April 10-12 with the NHRA Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in Nevada.

* * *

CONCORD, N.C. -- Final finish order (1-16) for professional categories at the Sixth annual NHRA Four-Wide Nationals at zMax Dragway.  The race is the fourth of 24 events in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series.

TOP FUEL: 1. Antron Brown; 2.  Steve Torrence; 3.  Richie Crampton; 4.  Clay Millican; 5.  Tony Schumacher; 6.  Doug Kalitta; 7.  Brittany Force; 8.  Dave Connolly; 9.  Spencer Massey; 10.  Pat Dakin; 11. J.R. Todd; 12.  Larry Dixon; 13.  Ike Maier; 14.  Shawn Langdon; 15.  Leah Pritchett; 16.  Chris Karamesines.

FUNNY CAR: 1. Jack Beckman; 2.  Del Worsham; 3.  Chad Head; 4.  Tommy Johnson Jr.; 5.  John Force; 6.  Robert Hight; 7.  Cruz Pedregon; 8.  John Hale; 9.  Tony Pedregon; 10.  Ron Capps; 11.  Dale Creasy Jr.; 12.  Courtney Force; 13.  Alexis DeJoria; 14.  Paul Lee; 15.  Tim Wilkerson; 16.  Matt Hagan.

PRO STOCK: 1. Larry Morgan; 2.  Greg Anderson; 3.  Jonathan Gray; 4.  Vincent Nobile; 5.  Jimmy Alund; 6. Chris McGaha; 7.  Jason Line; 8.  Erica Enders-Stevens; 9.  Allen Johnson; 10.  Drew Skillman; 11. Shane Gray; 12.  Rodger Brogdon; 13.  Buddy Perkinson; 14.  V. Gaines; 15.  John Gaydosh Jr; 16. Mark Hogan.

PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE: 1. Andrew Hines; 2.  Eddie Krawiec; 3.  Hector Arana Jr; 4.  Scotty Pollacheck; 5.  Chaz Kennedy; 6.  Mike Berry; 7.  Matt Smith; 8.  LE Tonglet; 9.  Freddie Camarena; 10.  Katie Sullivan; 11. Angelle Sampey; 12.  Brian Pretzel; 13.  Hector Arana; 14.  Karen Stoffer; 15.  Shawn Gann; 16. Jim Underdahl.

CONCORD, N.C. -- Sunday's final results from the Sixth annual NHRA Four-Wide Nationals at zMax Dragway. The race is the fourth of 24 in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series:

Top Fuel -- Antron Brown, 3.749 seconds, 319.90 mph def. Steve Torrence, 3.847 seconds, 317.57 mph and Richie Crampton, 4.030 seconds, 277.15 mph and Clay Millican, 5.526 seconds, 128.02 mph;

Funny Car -- Jack Beckman, Dodge Charger, 3.983, 308.78 def. Del Worsham, Toyota Camry, 4.012, 314.24 and Chad Head, Camry, 7.455, 92.95 and Tommy Johnson Jr., Charger, 12.177, 40.68;

Pro Stock -- Larry Morgan, Chevy Camaro, 6.464, 214.52 def. Greg Anderson, Camaro, 6.475, 214.93 and Jonathan Gray, Camaro, 6.498, 214.72 and Vincent Nobile, Camaro, 6.508, 214.25;

Pro Stock Motorcycle -- Andrew Hines, Harley-Davidson, 6.805, 196.30 def. Eddie Krawiec, Harley-Davidson, 6.812, 195.19 and Hector Arana Jr, Buell, 6.804, 199.88 and Scotty Pollacheck, Buell, foul;

Top Alcohol Dragster -- Mia Tedesco, 5.503, 263.26  def. Jake Allen, 5.663, 227.61.

Top Alcohol Funny Car -- Jonnie Lindberg, Chevy Monte Carlo, 5.406, 269.94  def. Steve Harker, Monte Carlo, 14.450, 69.80.

Super Stock -- David Rampy, Chevy Camaro, 10.879, 96.09  def. Dan Fletcher, Camaro, foul.

Stock Eliminator -- Joel Warren, Pontiac Firebird, 10.294, 129.52  def. Russell Linke, Chevy Camaro, 10.414, 123.78.

Super Comp -- Andre Nunez, Dragster, 8.900, 173.09  def. George Caheely, Dragster, 8.896, 172.06.

Super Gas -- Jim Perry, S-10, 9.900, 172.45  def. John Labbous Jr, Chevy Corvette, 9.853, 160.73.

Top Dragster -- Lynn Ellison, Dragster, 6.361, 212.43  def. Jeff Burns, Dragster, 6.670, 199.97.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Final round-by-round results from the sixth annual NHRA Four-Wide Nationals at zMax Dragway, the fourth of 24 events in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series:


ROUND ONE -- Steve Torrence, 3.799, 314.24 and Doug Kalitta, 3.912, 252.52 def. Spencer Massey, 4.101, 313.29 and Ike Maier, 6.797, 169.25; Brittany Force, 5.041, 184.85 and Richie Crampton, 7.020, 111.34 def. Pat Dakin, 7.188, 88.47 and Chris Karamesines, 10.782, 54.11; Tony Schumacher, 3.720, 319.37 and Clay Millican, 3.755, 318.09 def. Larry Dixon, 8.328, 87.10 and Leah Pritchett, 9.436, 92.86; Antron Brown, 3.771, 313.58 and Dave Connolly, 3.944, 301.07 def. J.R. Todd, 7.389, 84.37 and Shawn Langdon, 8.257, 85.87;

SEMIFINALS -- Brown, 5.817, 185.00 and Torrence, 6.019, 200.95 def. Kalitta, 7.786, 100.73 and Crampton, 3.741, 324.12 and Millican, 3.801, 310.77 def. Schumacher, 4.109, 242.98 and Force, 8.096, 98.46;

FINAL -- Brown, 3.749, 319.90 def. Torrence, 3.847, 317.57, Crampton, 4.030, 277.15 and Millican, 5.526, 128.02.


ROUND ONE -- Del Worsham, Toyota Camry, 4.040, 306.26 and Chad Head, Camry, 4.464, 227.96 def. Dale Creasy Jr., Chevy Impala, 7.691, 89.70 and Courtney Force, Chevy Camaro, 8.579, 80.65; Robert Hight, Chevrolet Camaro, 4.027, 304.05 and John Force, Camaro, 4.250, 278.69 def. Tony Pedregon, Camry, 5.386, 142.85 and Alexis DeJoria, Camry, 10.200, 80.97; Jack Beckman, Dodge Charger, 4.051, 304.05 and Tommy Johnson Jr., Charger, 7.803, 92.73 def. Paul Lee, Charger, 11.704, 77.05 and Ron Capps, Charger, DQ; Cruz Pedregon, Camry, 4.167, 299.46 and John Hale, Charger, 4.219, 244.56 def.

Tim Wilkerson, Ford Mustang, 12.157, 99.80 and Matt Hagan, Charger, DQ;

SEMIFINALS -- Beckman, 4.000, 309.34 and Johnson Jr., 4.132, 301.20 def. J. Force, 9.267, 81.00 and Hight, 8.104, 81.89; Worsham, 4.067, 288.64 and Head, 4.080, 303.09 def. Hale, 16.578, 50.85 and C. Pedregon, broke;

FINAL -- Beckman, 3.983, 308.78 def. Worsham, 4.012, 314.24, Head, 7.455, 92.95 and Johnson Jr., 12.177, 40.68.


ROUND ONE -- Jonathan Gray, Chevy Camaro, 6.465, 214.11 and Greg Anderson, Camaro, 6.467, 215.13 def. Allen Johnson, Dodge Dart, 6.463, 214.42 and V. Gaines, Dart, 6.626, 209.17; Vincent Nobile, Camaro, 6.479, 213.74 and Jimmy Alund, Pontiac GXP, 6.536, 213.27 def. Drew Skillman, Camaro, 6.491, 214.04 and Mark Hogan, GXP, broke; Jason Line, Camaro, 6.455, 214.48 and Larry Morgan, Camaro, 6.501, 214.42 def. Rodger Brogdon, Camaro, 7.919, 125.44 and John Gaydosh Jr, GXP, 12.365, 71.09; Erica Enders-Stevens, Camaro, 6.521, 214.42 and Chris McGaha, Camaro, 6.481, 214.28 def. Shane Gray, Camaro, 6.524, 213.37 and Buddy Perkinson, Dodge Avenger, 6.550, 212.19;

SEMIFINALS -- J. Gray, 6.488, 214.18 and Anderson, 6.478, 215.48 def. McGaha, 21.771, 28.79 and Enders-Stevens, 22.958, 26.43; Morgan, 6.477, 214.25 and Nobile, 6.480, 213.77 def. Alund, 6.525, 214.01 and Line, 9.255, 100.14;

FINAL -- Morgan, 6.464, 214.52 def. Anderson, 6.475, 214.93, J. Gray, 6.498, 214.72 and Nobile, 6.508, 214.25.


ROUND ONE -- Eddie Krawiec, Harley V-Rod, 6.818, 193.07 and LE Tonglet, Suzuki GSXR, 6.849, 195.76 def. Freddie Camarena, GSXR, 6.842, 197.16 and Shawn Gann, Buell XB9R, 7.057, 172.10; Matt Smith, Victory Gunner, 6.865, 191.38 and Scotty Pollacheck, Buell XB12R, 6.895, 192.44 def. Angelle Sampey, 6.938, 191.97 and Hector Arana, XB9R, 6.948, 191.59; Andrew Hines, V-Rod, 6.815, 194.77 and Mike Berry, XB9R, 6.887, 192.03 def. Brian Pretzel, Buell GSXR, 6.940, 187.86 and Karen Stoffer, Suzuki TL1000R, 6.963, 184.17; Hector Arana Jr, XB9R, 6.860, 198.12 and Chaz Kennedy, XB9R, 6.823, 194.66 def. Katie Sullivan, TL1000, 6.911, 195.42 and Jim Underdahl, GSXR, 7.490, 147.10;

SEMIFINALS -- Krawiec, 6.839, 193.54 and Arana Jr, 6.795, 199.26 def. Kennedy, 6.889, 193.24 and Tonglet, 6.970, 191.21; Hines, 6.816, 195.34 and Pollacheck, 6.869, 192.28 def. Berry, 6.906, 193.43 and M. Smith, 6.899, 191.67;

FINAL -- Hines, 6.805, 196.30 def. Krawiec, 6.812, 195.19, Arana Jr, 6.804, 199.88 and Pollacheck, foul.

CONCORD, N.C. -- Point standings (top 10) for NHRA professional categories following the sixth annual NHRA Four-Wide Nationals at zMax Dragway, the fourth of 24 events in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series -

Top Fuel: 1. Antron Brown, 354; 2. Tony Schumacher, 328; 3. Shawn Langdon, 312; 4. Spencer Massey, 286; 5. Doug Kalitta, 238; 6. Richie Crampton, 232; 7. Steve Torrence, 213; 8. Brittany Force, 192; 9. Clay Millican, 189; 10. J.R. Todd, 180.

Funny Car: 1. Del Worsham, 305; 2.  Matt Hagan, 303; 3.  Ron Capps, 279; 4.  Tommy Johnson Jr., 239; 5. Robert Hight, 230; 6.  John Hale, 224; 7.  Jack Beckman, 208; 8. Cruz Pedregon, 206; 9. Courtney Force, 198; 10. Alexis DeJoria, 193.

Pro Stock: 1. Jason Line, 359; 2.  Rodger Brogdon, 316; 3.  Greg Anderson, 299; 4. Chris McGaha, 283; 5. Erica Enders-Stevens, 268; 6. Drew Skillman, 266; 7. Larry Morgan, 234; 8. Shane Gray, 199; 9. Vincent Nobile, 193; 10.  Allen Johnson, 176.

Pro Stock Motorcycle: 1. Eddie Krawiec, 192; 2. Andrew Hines, 180; 3.  Karen Stoffer, 148; 4. LE Tonglet, 128; 5. Hector Arana Jr., 116; 6. (tie) Shawn Gann, 103; Angelle Sampey, 103; Scotty Pollacheck, 103; 9.  Matt Smith, 94; 10.  Hector Arana, 88.


Ray Black, Jr. and the No. 07 ScubaLife Chevrolet Silverado team finished 13th on Saturday afternoon at the historic Martinsville (Va.) Speedway. After a mid-race spin, great pit strategy and strong driving helped Black quickly return to the lead lap of competition and allowed him to race back through the field.

Making his first return-visit to a track on the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series circuit, Black made his second career-start at Martinsville Speedway on Saturday afternoon. The ScubaLife team made over 140 laps in practice to notice that their lap times were able to remain consistent, even on old tires, and knew their Chevrolet Silverado would be exceptionally strong on long runs.

After qualifying 25th for the 250-lap race, Black struggled to gain track position on the narrow short track where passing can be exceptionally difficult. However, a decision to stay on the track during the lap 143 caution period moved Black inside the top 15 and allowed him to return to the lead lap of competition. A second caution just 10 laps later both solidified Black's position in the top 15, and allowed him to visit pit road for tires and fuel without losing a lap.

Another caution flag waved on lap 187 as Black spun while exiting turn two. After driving in the corner deep, Black knew he was going to spin, but opted to spin himself rather than taking out any additional competitors. The decision proved to be the right choice, as Black was able to correct himself and continue on in the event without any contact. Continuing with a strong pit strategy throughout the rest of the afternoon, Black and the ScubaLife team were able to maintain the track position needed for a solid finish. By the time the checkered flag waved, Black was scored in the 13th position.

"Our ScubaLife team had a lot of fun at Martinsville Speedway this weekend," Black said. "We ran a lot of laps during practice, and knew that we would have a very strong truck during the long runs. We didn't qualify as well as we had hoped, but knew we could make up for it during the race. Jason [Miller, crew chief] made some great calls during the race that helped keep us in contention all afternoon. I've learned a lot over the last few weeks, and to know that we're currently inside the top 10 in both the owner and driver standings with our ScubaLife Chevrolet is awesome. Our goal this season is to finish inside the top 10 in the season-long point standings, and it looks like that goal is within our grasp. I can't wait to get back in the truck in just a few weeks in Kansas."

Ray Black Jr. PR

Danica Patrick recovered from being a lap down and made a strong return at the height of tax season to finish seventh in the No. 10 TaxACT Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) in Sunday’s Martinsville 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway.

Patrick’s effort marked her first top-10 of the season and the fifth top-10 of her 88-race Sprint Cup career. She is now tied with Janet Guthrie for the most top-10 Sprint Cup finishes by a female driver.

Sunday’s race was not without adversity for the team, however. After starting 16th, Patrick fell back to 26th by lap 50 as she struggled with a car that lacked rear grip and was tight in the center of the corner. Crew chief Daniel Knost called for wedge and air pressure adjustments on the team’s first trip to pit road at lap 56. The team made similar adjustments on the following pit stop at lap 74.

When the caution flag waved at lap 94, Patrick was scored in the 28th position, and Knost made the call not to pit in an effort to gain track position. Patrick restarted second at lap 98 and remained in the top-10 until lap 119. Each time she got stuck in the outside line Patrick lost several positions, falling from 20th at lap 123 to 30th by lap 130. After going a lap down to the leader at lap 150, Patrick radioed to the team that the car was “a little loose in, tight rolling and needed more drive off” the corner.

The team pitted under caution at lap 165 for air pressure and wedge adjustments, fresh tires, fuel and a piece of tape added to the grille. The changes improved the handling of Patrick’s No. 10 TaxACT Chevrolet SS, and she was able to work her way into the “lucky dog” position, then back onto the lead lap when the caution flag waved at lap 207.

Knost continued to direct the team to make air pressure and chassis adjustments to the car over the course of the next few runs, and Patrick was able to race her way into the top-15 at lap 302. At lap 368, Patrick narrowly avoided the No. 27 car as it spun just ahead of her in turn four. Over the course of the following run, Patrick worked her way into the top-10 at lap 395 and remained there throughout the final laps of the race before taking the checkered flag in the seventh position.

“At the start of the race we had those yellows early, so it was deceiving to know how good the car was or how bad it was,” Patrick said. “We really were very tight in the center, which ends up making you lose drive off because you have so much wheel in it and you’re just trying to fight it. We just weren’t very good to start. We got a lap down, we got it back luckily, and we moved forward from there. And we made a couple of good changes in the middle of the race that really made the difference, and I said if we could just do a little bit more and make me just a little bit better, we’re going to be good. And that’s what we did. I’m proud of everyone for not giving up and for keeping their head in the game today.”

Patrick’s seventh-place finish in her No. 10 TaxACT Chevrolet SS led the four-car SHR contingent Sunday at Martinsville Speedway.


Casey Mears arrived at Martinsville Speedway looking to continue his run of solid finishes in the young 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season. A favorite track of the GEICO driver, the Germain Racing team has always experienced success at the paperclip-shaped half-mile oval.


Mother Nature caused a little ruckus in the way of rain on Friday, which resulted in the delay of Sprint Cup Series practice. Once the cars hit the track, Mears and his No. 13 GEICO Chevrolet SS looked good as the weekend got underway. They ended up 13th on the speed chart when the opening practice concluded, leaving them excited for the impending qualifying session that would take place later that evening. Mears was fast in qualifying before a broken transmission would relegate him to the rear of Sunday's starting field. 


Starting from the rear at Martinsville Speedway can be a harrowing task, but Mears was able to keep the No. 13 GEICO Chevy clean as the STP 500 got started. He soon found himself as high as the 13th position, having hustled his way safely through nearly the entire field. Things seemed to go well until the caution flag on lap 228 involved Mears and his GEICO Chevy. He was seen spinning on television after cars checked up in front of him, resulting in contact from behind. He sustained only minor damage and continued on.


Crew chief Bootie Barker was masterful in his management of the sets of tires allotted by NASCAR, putting Mears in position to have fresh Goodyear's at the end of the race. The Germain Racing pit crew was also strong on pit road all day, which assisted in Mears' ascent through the field. As the race wound down, the GEICO Chevy was riding solidly in the top-15. When the checkered flag closed out 500 laps of racing, Mears had traveled all the way from the rear of the field to cross the finish line in the 15th position and hand Germain Racing their third top-15 finish in the season's first six races. Mears' unheralded journey through the field is a feat not often accomplished successfully, given the dangers of racing on a flat half-mile racetrack.


"We're glad we were able to make it through the field and survive the incidents that we got a piece of and get out of here with a top-15 finish," Mears said after the race. "The GEICO Chevy was strong on the shorter runs today, but we struggled a little bit on longer runs. Bootie (Barker, crew chief) did a nice job of managing the tires, while the pit crew was quick today, which really went a long way in helping us gain track position. We're looking forward to a weekend off to get refreshed and then get back after it in Texas. A lot of our guys were on the road for three straight weeks during our west coast swing, so it will be good for everyone to step back and catch their breath. I can't thank these guys enough for all of their hard work."


The GEICO Racing team will enjoy a much-deserved week off before returning to action in Texas.


Casey Mears and the No. 13 GEICO Chevrolet SS will hit the track at Texas Motor Speedway for the weekend's opening practice session on Friday, April 10th, at 11:30 AM (ET). Qualifying will follow at 6:45 PM (ET).


Tony Stewart: The Best Laid Plans…

Published in Sprint Cup Series News
Sunday, 29 March 2015 20:37

Tony Stewart hovered in and around the top-10 throughout much of Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway. But when a late-race bid for track position didn’t work out as planned, Stewart finished 20th.

The result was not indicative of the effort. Stewart qualified sixth on Friday in his No. 14 Code 3 Associates/Mobil 1 Chevrolet for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), and then Saturday saw two solid practice sessions that had Stewart and his racecar dialed in for 500 laps around Martinsville’s .526-mile oval on Sunday.

Stewart held steady in the top-10 through the race’s first 100 laps. He dropped to 15th as his car was tight early in a run, where it lacked the forward bite necessary to power off the track’s scant, 11 degrees of banking. But Stewart and crew chief Chad Johnston kept adjusting the car’s handling to where they were 10th by the race’s halfway mark.

Stewart again dipped in the running order, all the way to 16th, but with 60 laps to go he had clawed his way up to 11th and was within striking range of the top-10.  

But when the caution flag waved for debris on lap 461, Stewart and Johnston had a decision to make – stay out and pick up valuable track position or pit for four tires and fuel in a bid to make a late-race charge.

With only 19 laps of green-flag racing on their tires, Stewart and Johnston rolled the dice and stayed out. They gained track position, but everyone else on the lead lap pitted for tires. While Stewart restarted in first place, he had his work cut out holding off those behind him in the race’s final 34 laps.

But with 16 caution periods already on the day, Stewart and Johnston believed another caution was inevitable, which would force everyone back to pit road anyway. By that time, at least in theory, Stewart’s track position would be strong, and with another solid pit stop by the Code 3 Associates/Mobil 1 crew, Stewart would rejoin the field among the same drivers he had been racing.

Stewart led the field to green on the lap-467 restart and paced the field for a total of eight laps before those with fresher tires began motoring past him. Stewart gamely made each driver work for the position, but the caution Stewart and Johnston had been banking on never materialized. The race went green to the finish and Stewart dropped to 20th by the time the checkered flag waved.


RCR Post Race Report - Martinsville 500

Published in Sprint Cup Series News
Sunday, 29 March 2015 20:36

Race Highlights:

  • Richard Childress Racing teammates Paul Menard, Ryan Newman and Austin Dillon finished 23rd, 27th and 41st, respectively, in the Martinsville 500 at Martinsville Speedway.
  • Newman ranks sixth in the Sprint Cup Series championship point standings, trailing current leader Kevin Harvick by 83 points, while Paul Menard ranks seventh and Austin Dillon ranks 23rd.
  • Denny Hamlin earned his first win of the 2015 season and was followed to the line by Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano, Matt Kenseth and David Ragan
  • The seventh race of the 2015 Sprint Cup Series season is the Duck Commander 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on Saturday, April 11, 2015, which is scheduled to be televised live on FOX beginning at 7:30 p.m. Eastern Time and broadcast live on the Performance Racing Network and SiriusXM NASCAR Satellite Radio, channel 90.


Mechanical Issues Relegate Austin Dillon to 41st-Place Finish at Martinsville Speedway


Sporting the yellow and black colors of Cheerios on Richard Childress Racing's No. 3 Chevrolet for the first time this season, sophomore NASCAR Sprint Cup Series competitor Austin Dillon raced as high as 13th in the Martinsville 500 before developing a mechanical issue and finishing 41st. Dillon started the 500-lap race from the 22nd position and raced inside the top 20 for the first 100 laps before developing a loose-handling condition and dropping to 31st in the running order. As Dillon struggled with a lack of forward drive, he fell one lap down to the race leader, but found relief to the handling issues following a pit stop on lap 166 for four tires, fuel and a wedge adjustment. Restarting 30th on lap 170, Dillon spent the next 50 circuits battling for the "Lucky Dog" position and earned his lap back when the caution flag was displayed on lap 218. Once back on the lead lap, Dillon quickly raced his way into the top 15 driving up to 13th in the running order. As the laps progressed, Dillon started to report a loose-handling condition and the No. 3 Chevrolet began smoking shortly after lap 300. The team made an unscheduled, green-flag pit stop on lap 331 to evaluate the issue, ultimately retiring Dillon and the Cheerios Chevrolet to the garage area 200 laps before the advertised finish. Dillon and team were forced to take a 41st-place finish.


                                    Start - 22          Finish - 41      Laps Led - 0    Points - 23                 


"We worked hard today on the Cheerios Chevrolet team. It was shaping up to be a pretty good day. We raced up to 13th after getting behind and were running pretty competitive lap times. There's a lot of bumping and grinding at Martinsville Speedway, so I am sure the fans loved it. We had a mechanical issue in the engine at the end that the guys are evaluating. Not the finish we were hoping for at Martinsville, we'll just keep working hard towards our goals."

2011 CC Team Icon 27 NSCS Menards,

Paul Menard Finishes 23rd in Caution-Filled Race at Martinsville Speedway


Paul Menard drove to a hard-fought 23rd-place finish in Sunday's 500-lap NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event at Martinsville Speedway. Menard started from the 13th position and maintained a spot in the top 20 for 52 laps of competition. When the caution flag was displayed on lap 53, Menard reported the Pittsburgh Paints/Menards Chevrolet was loose through the center of turns. Crew chief Justin Alexander made the call for four tires, fuel and removed a spring rubber from the right rear. Through the next 164 laps, Menard fought a loose-handling condition and chatter in the right rear which brought him to pit road four times for fresh tires, fuel and wedge adjustments. The Wisconsin native was caught up in a multi-car incident on lap 227, forcing him to pit road for damage repair to the nose of his Chevy. The Alexander-led team confidently made repairs and kept Menard on the lead lap after five stops on pit road. Once under green-flag conditions again, the Pittsburgh Paints/Menards Chevy driver raced his way from 23rd to the 10th spot on lap 363 with lap times faster than the leader. Menard was caught up in an incident on lap 366 and sustained minimal damage to the nose. The Richard Childress Racing team fought hard for the remainder of 263-mile event and crossed the finish line 23rd, which moves Menard up to seventh in the driver point standings. Up next for the No. 27 team is the Saturday night event at Texas Motor Speedway on April 11th.


Start - 13            Finish - 23             Laps Led - 0              Points - 7



"We had a good car today and I appreciate my team for that. We just got caught up in some stuff that we couldn't control. There at the end, I'm still not sure what happened. I may have just been on the brakes too hard. The guys did a good job making fast and good repairs on pit road. I'm looking forward to the off weekend then we will be ready for Texas."



Ryan Newman and Team Endure Rough Ride to 27th-Place Finish at Martinsville Speedway


Ryan Newman and the No. 31 Quicken Loans Chevrolet SS team started the 500-lap race at Martinsville Speedway with high hopes and aspirations after starting on the outside pole for Sunday afternoon's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race but ultimately secured a 27th-place finish. Early in the race, Newman raced in the top five and led two of the first 20 laps. After pitting under the second caution flag for tires, fuel and minor chassis adjustments, he restarted second on lap 60. However, through the next long run under green, Newman was caught in the outside line and freight trained by other cars causing him to fall in the running order. Then, the rear tires were not responding to track conditions and caused an even farther fall, placing him in 37th-place by lap 120. Two more pit stops under caution allowed the team to move into the top-20 by lap 284. More bad luck ensued for the Luke Lambert-led team as the left-rear quarter panel and side received damage when the No. 31 Chevrolet was run into from behind in a multi-car wreck. From there, driver and team did what they could to maintain track position through several more pit stops only to be saddled with a 27th-place finish. Newman is sixth in driver championship point standings as the Sprint Cup Series takes a weekend off for the Easter holiday.


Start - 2            Finish - 27             Laps Led - 2             Points - 6


"This is not how we saw our race going for this Quicken Loans Chevrolet team at Martinsville Speedway. We were good in all the practices and qualified on the outside pole. We started out pretty good, then something wasn't feeling right in back end of the car. We started go get good again, then got tagged in the one wreck and were never able to recover. I'll give credit where due, this No. 31 RCR team never gave up. Hope everyone enjoys their Easter weekend."


Harvick Finishes Eighth at Martinsville

Published in Sprint Cup Series News
Sunday, 29 March 2015 20:34

Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Budweiser/Jimmy John’s Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), finished eighth in the Martinsville 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway on Sunday.

The eighth-place finish ended his streak of consecutive races finishing in the top-two at eight, dating back to November at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth. Harvick did, however, maintain his streak of nine straight top-10s dating back to the same race last season.

The defending Sprint Cup champion started 17th and raced his way into the top-five within the first 50 laps of the race, then raced to the lead for the first time on lap 134. Harvick maintained his position toward the front of the field and led eight times for a race-best 154 laps en route to his sixth top-10 finish of the season.

In 27 previous Sprint Cup starts at Martinsville, Harvick had led a combined 364 laps prior to Sunday.

The Bakersfield, California, native raced securely inside the top-five until, during a restart on lap 440 as he ran in fourth, he got stuck in the outside lane, unable to get to the bottom, and quickly dropped to the 10th position.

“I just got hung on the outside and couldn’t get back down,” said Harvick, who previously won the Sprint Cup race at Martinsville in April 2011. “By the time I got down I was 10th or 11th.  It still was a good day for everyone on the Budweiser/Jimmy John’s team. Everybody did a good job, just lost track position at the wrong time.”

Harvick had one final attempt to gain ground on the final restart on lap 467, where he ran 10th and gained two positions before the checkered flag on lap 500.

The No. 4 Budweiser/Jimmy John’s team has led a series-best 670 laps through the first six races of 2015. Harvick has led more laps in a single season on only two other occasions – in 2014 when he led 2,137 laps and in 2006 when he led 895 laps. He has led at least one lap in five of the six Sprint Cup races to start this season. Joey Logano and the No. 22 team have led the second-most laps this season with 305.

A strong team effort propelled Martin Truex Jr. and the Furniture Row Racing team to a sixth-place finish in Sunday's STP 500 Sprint Cup Series race at Martinsville Speedway. 

It was the sixth straight top-eight finish to start the season for Truex, who set a career best of six consecutive top-10 results. He remains third in the driver point standings as the NASCAR circuit heads into an off weekend for Easter. 

The top-10 finish also surpassed the five top-10s that Truex posted in 2014, his first season with the single-car Furniture Row Racing team. 

After starting third at the .526-mile oval, Truex encountered a power steering leak in his No. 78 Furniture Row/Denver Mattress Chevrolet. The problem resulted in three unscheduled pit stops to secure the leak following a Lap 54 caution. The issue sent Truex from 11th to 39th in track position. 

"I can't believe I lose the power steering in the first run and come back to finish sixth," said Truex. "It was not any fun to drive the car at that point. I felt like my shoulder was going to rip off. The guys did an awesome job fixing the leak and fought all day just like we always do. I can't say enough about this team. It shows we never give up. It sure feels good to have a strong run at one of my worst tracks. Just can't believe we stayed on the lead lap after the power steering deal."

Truex not only stayed on the lead lap, he quickly came back and took over the lead for 23 laps (from Lap 97 to 119). 

"We believe in each other and always feel we're never out of it," said Truex. "We've had fast cars all year and an incredible team chemistry."

Truex and crew chief Cole Pearn were quick to praise the over-the-wall crew for an outstanding job on the final stop of the race.

"They nailed it on the money stop and that's what you need if you're going to finish up front," stated Truex. "I was very proud of them."

Pearn, who is in his first season as crew chief with Furniture Row Racing, was equally proud of the team effort. 

"We had a good car and that makes it easier to do the right things," noted Pearn. "The pit crew stepped up at the end and that's what really made the race. Before that we were pretty good but just got stuck on the outside. After the last pit stop we started on the inside and everything was good in the closing laps."

The final stop lifted Truex from 12th to ninth in track position. He gained another three spots by the time he took the checkered flag on Lap 500.

STP 500 results from Martinsville

Published in Sprint Cup Series News
Sunday, 29 March 2015 18:01

Saturday afternoon was special for Joey Logano.


In a career already filled with trophies and fond memories, Logano (@joeylogano) scored his first NASCAR Camping World Truck Series victory in the Kroger 250 at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway and added a grandfather clock to his trophy case.  The driver of the Cooper Standard Ford F-150 won for the first time in seven starts in the series and in his first Martinsville race. 


But it wasn't easy.


Logano started from the pole (also a career first) and led 106 of the first 110 laps.  But his truck developed a loose handling condition forcing him to briefly slip back in the running order.  He was running third when the third caution of the race came as a timely break for Logano, allowing him and crew chief Chad Kendrick to pit for four tires and needed adjustments. 


Great pit work put Logano second for the restart when the race went green on lap 148.  Logano and Matt Crafton took turns exchanging the lead until Logano grabbed the top spot on lap 206 and stayed there for the next 39 laps. 


On lap 245 Crafton nudged Logano out of the bottom groove and took the lead but two turns later Cole Custer pushed both Logano and Crafton out of the way for first place.  Crafton caught Custer on lap 248 and aggressively pushed his way past.  The contact forced Custer to spin and brought out the ninth and final caution of the race - setting up a green-white-checkered finish on lap 257.


Logano lined up third for the final restart and quickly jumped inside leader Crafton and second place Erik Jones as they raced into Turn 1.  He cleared his rivals at the exit of Turn 2 and quickly pulled away over the final two laps to collect the victory.