Steven B. Wilson
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Autotrader to Sponsor No. 2 and No. 22 Team Penske Ford Fusions for 2018 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series21 Feb 2018
Autotrader enters its fifth season with Team Penske as a primary racing sponsor for four Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series races during the 2018 season. The Autotrader brand will be featured on both the No. 2 and No. 22 Ford Fusion cars driven by Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano, respectively.
Keselowski will drive the Autotrader No. 2 Ford Fusion at Atlanta Motor Speedway on Feb. 25, going for back-to-back wins at the track. Keselowski will also race the Autotrader Ford Fusion on Sept. 16 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, while Logano will have the familiar Autotrader orange No. 22 design on Apr. 15 event at Bristol Motor Speedway and the Autotrader/Shell-Pennzoil co-branded car on Apr. 29 at Talladega Superspeedway. Autotrader will continue to be an associate sponsor on both cars for the full MENCS season.
"Our longstanding relationship with Team Penske allows us to engage with millions of racing fans and educate them on the tools Autotrader offers to make the car buying process easier and faster," said Jessica Stafford, senior vice president and general manager of Autotrader. "The 38-week season is a highly targeted way to reach the most loyal and brand-conscious consumers out there."
Autotrader makes it easier than ever for consumers to find the right car and the right deal. Plus, the convenient Autotrader Save Car tool keeps an eye on a car that a shopper has saved and will send email or text alerts with important details like if the price has dropped, if there are new incentives offered like cash back rebates, 0% financing and more, providing immediate notification if the deal has gotten even better.
For more information and news from Autotrader, visit press.autotrader.com, follow us on Twitter at https://twitter.com/Autotrader_com (or @Autotrader_com), Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/autotrader_com/ (or @autotrader_com), like our page on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/autotrader/, add us on Snapchat (@Autotrader_com), and get updates at Google+ at https://plus.google.com/+Autotrader.
When Paul Menard driver of the Wood Brothers’ No. 21 Menards/Moen Ford Fusion, talks about the racing surface at Atlanta Motor Speedway, site of this weekend’s Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500, he uses terms like old, worn out and hard on tires.
But to real racers, those are positive attributes.
“It’s one of my favorite race tracks,” he said. “It’s fun.”
Menard said the old surface gives drivers several options for racing grooves and puts a premium on driving skill.
“It’s a great surface,” he said. “I know they will have to repave it at some point, but I hope I’m retired when they do.”
The excessive tire wear caused by the worn surface at Atlanta causes drivers to want fresh tires at every opportunity, but crew chiefs having to play a tire-management strategy so they won’t run through their allotment of tires before the checkered flag falls.
“After you run two laps at Atlanta, you want four tires,” Menard said. “But you have to have a plan so you won’t run out of tires.”
Atlanta’s 500-miler also marks the first race of the season on the downforce tracks that dominate the Monster Energy Cup Series schedule.
“Daytona is kind of its own animal,” Menard said. “Atlanta is the first normal race of the year on one of the tracks that are the bread and butter of our season.
“Having a good car at Atlanta can be the start to having a good year. It’ll be a good chance to see what these Ford Fusions have for this year.”
Menard and his No. 21 Wood Brothers team is already off to a good start to the season thanks to a sixth-place finish in the Daytona 500 and 15 Stage points earned during Speedweeks. He enters Atlanta fifth in the championship standings.
“We had a good points day at Daytona,” he said. “Obviously we wanted to have a shot at the win there are the end, but we dodged a lot of wrecks and got a good finish.”
After carrying the orange and white colors of Omnicraft in the Daytona 500, the No. 21 will be painted neon yellow and carry the logos of Moen at Atlanta.
Moen is the No. 1 brand of faucets in North America and offers a diverse selection of thoughtfully designed kitchen and bath faucets, showerheads, accessories, bath safety products, garbage disposals and kitchen sinks for residential and commercial applications each delivering the best possible combination of meaningful innovation, useful features, and lasting value.
Qualifying for the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 is set for 5:15 p.m. Eastern Time on Friday, and the race is scheduled to start just after 2 p.m. on Sunday with TV coverage on FOX.
Leavine Family Racing (LFR) and Kasey Kahne will sport a special Procore Technologies paint scheme at Atlanta Motor Speedway in conjunction with Habitat for Humanity.
Habitat for Humanity, a non-profit organization dedicated to building affordable housing, has partnered with Procore Technologies for the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 and will be LFR’s charity of choice throughout the 2018 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS) season.
"It’s an honor for us to be able to support Habitat for Humanity and help promote the positive work that the international nonprofit is involved in,” said director of Procore.org, Darryl Kysar. “Extending our partnership with Habitat for Humanity by teaming up with our partners at Leavine Family Racing is a great opportunity to get more people aware and interested in Habitat for Humanity’s mission."
Kahne, who has recorded three wins in the MENCS at Atlanta Motor Speedway, looks forward to the first intermediate track of the season after a successful pre-season test in Las Vegas.
“I can’t wait to get to Atlanta.” said Kahne. “We had a great test in Las Vegas at the end of January. It’s a much different race track, but it’s still a mile and a half and I feel like we can apply some of those things at Atlanta. I feel like we made some gains there, so it should be exciting. We have a great car – Habitat for Humanity in conjunction with Procore, so it’s going to be a neat paint scheme. It’s a great charity to support, so we are just really looking forward to that weekend.”
Although Atlanta Motor Speedway is due for a repave, Kahne still enjoys competing at the mile and a half oval.
“I love Atlanta the way it is,” continued Kahne. “I know eventually they’re going to have to repave it just because it’s an old surface, but it’s a lot of fun to race on. It wears the tires out, it’s fast but has a ton of fall-off, and that’s something that us drivers enjoy.”
The Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 will take place on Sunday, February 25th at 2:00pm ET. Race fans can tune-in to FOX for live coverage and follow @LFR95 on Twitter for weekend updates.
Local Country Trio, Temecula Road To Perform National Anthenm and Pre-Race Concert At NASCAR Xfinity 300 Race21 Feb 2018
Local country artists, Temecula Road, will perform the National Anthem prior to the start of the NASCAR NXS 300 on March 17, 2018 with pre-race activities starting at 1:30 p.m. at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana. In addition, they will headline the pre-race concert at 12:00 p.m. in the O’Reilly Auto Parts Fan Zone. The young stars are a perfect fit to kick-off the NXS 300 race which features young NASCAR drivers battling for the checkered flag on one of the fastest and oldest two-mile oval tracks on the NASCAR circuit.
The country music trio is comprised of sisters Emma and Maddie Salute and longtime friend Dawson Anderson. With talent far beyond their teenage years, Temecula Road has an impressive online following with their series of song covers. A mashup video of the trio singing portions of 2016’s top 20 country songs in a mere 3 minutes garnered them over 7 million views online.
Named after nearby wine country where they grew up, Temecula Road is signed to Buena Vista Records and has released three songs to date — “What If I Kissed You,” “Hoping” and “Everything Without You” all of which combined have surpassed over 3.6 million streams. The band was named one of Huffington Post’s “Top Country Artists To Watch” as well a Radio Disney “NEXT BIG THING” artist, putting them in great company with previously featured acts Shawn Mendes, Fifth Harmony and fellow country artist Kelsea Ballerini.
Temecula Road has opened for Martina McBride, Josh Turner, Joe Nichols, Sara Evans, Eli Young Band and Love And Theft and joined Jessie James Decker on a nationwide, sold out tour. Their covers have earned praise from Carrie Underwood, Brett Eldredge, Dan + Shay, Cam, and RaeLynn.
With a race ticket, fans will receive access to the O’Reilly Auto Parts Fan Zone including the Temecula Road concert, NASCAR driver appearances, autograph sessions, Monster Energy activations, celebrity appearances and other family fun.
Kids 12 and under with a Lefty’s Kids Club membership get free general admission showing their membership card to the NXS 300 race with a paid adult. Tickets start at just $30. Gates open to the O’Reilly Auto Parts Fan Zone at 9:00 a.m. and the NXS 300 race starts at 2:00 p.m. PT and airs on FS1. For more information go to www.autoclubspeedway.com.
Follow @AutoClubSpeedway on Facebook/Instagram and @ACSUpdates on Twitter and tag photos using #FastestSunday and #AutoClub400.
Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Jimmy John’s Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), knows how to deliver a dominating performance in the Folds of Honor 500 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series event at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
In 2017, Harvick displayed one of his most commanding performances of his Cup Series career when he led 292 of 325 laps at the 1.54-mile oval. Unfortunately, he came up just short of victory lane after a late-race speeding penalty on pit road led to a ninth-place finish.
Harvick has had this event circled on his calendar since leaving the racetrack last spring. He plans to add a second NASCAR Cup Series victory to his Atlanta resume at the site of his first career win.
That first Cup Series win at Atlanta came in only his third career start on March 11, 2001. The circumstances surrounding the month leading up to it make it all the more remarkable.
Following Dale Earnhardt’s death on the final lap of the 2001 Daytona 500, Harvick was named the driver of the No. 29 car for Richard Childress Racing and made his series debut the following weekend – Monday, Feb. 26 – at Rockingham (N.C.) Speedway, where he finished 14th in the rain-delayed event. Two days later, Wednesday, Feb. 28, as the series headed west to Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Harvick married his wife DeLana. The following Sunday, March 4, Harvick scored his first career Cup Series top-10 finish. The following Sunday, less than one month since his debut in NASCAR’s top series, came Harvick’s landmark win at Atlanta.
Harvick’s first Cup Series win didn’t come easily. He was in third place with five laps remaining and chased down NASCAR Hall of Fame driver Dale Jarrett for second place, then overtook Jerry Nadeau for the lead. Once in front, Harvick had to hold off another future Hall of Fame driver, Jeff Gordon, to secure the win. As he and Gordon raced door-to-door to the finish line, Harvick prevailed by .006 of a second.
Since that maiden NASCAR Cup Series win, Harvick has reached victory lane at Atlanta on five other occasions, four times in the NASCAR Xfinity Series – including three of his last four Xfinity starts – and once in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series.
Harvick came close to adding a second Cup Series win at Atlanta in each of his last four starts. In September 2014, he won the pole and led 195 of 335 laps before late-race tire strategy by several drivers led to a multicar accident involving his No. 4 car. He started from the outside front row in 2015, led 116 laps and finished runner-up to race-winner Jimmie Johnson by 1.802 seconds. In his 2016 Atlanta start, he began sixth, led a race-high 131 laps and finished sixth after being shuffled back on a late-race restart. The 2017 performance was the most dominant, but the late-race penalty cost him his second trip to victory lane.
To put his recent Atlanta performance in perspective, Harvick has led at least 100 laps in five of the last six Cup Series races at Atlanta. He has accumulated a series-best 835 laps led in those six races. The next closest driver during that span is Joey Logano with 165 laps led.
This weekend, Harvick will attempt to add that elusive second Cup Series win at the 1.54-mile oval in Sunday’s Folds of Honor 500. He will also race Saturday, piloting Stewart-Haas Racing with Biagi-DenBeste’s new No. 98 Hunt Brothers Pizza Ford Mustang in search of his fourth Xfinity Series win at Atlanta in six years.
|NASCAR Camping World Truck Series|
|2/16/2018 (post-race inspection)||Daytona||No.41||L1||Section 220.127.116.11.2.2 Post-Race Rear Body |
Note: Post-Race height measurements were outside NASCAR allowed tolerances.
|Crew chief (Eddie Troconis) has been fined $5,000 and suspended from the next NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Championship Points Event. Team assessed with the loss of 10 driver points and 10 owner points.|
Officials from Rick Ware Racing (RWR) confirmed today that NASCAR Next alumnus Cole Custer will make his Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS) debut March 2-4 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Custer, a native of Ladera Ranch, California, will drive the team’s No. 51 Ford Fusion while also competing in the NASCAR Xfinity Series race for Stewart-Haas Racing.
Haas Automation, Inc., America’s leading builder of CNC machine tools, will continue its support of Custer and serve as the primary sponsor of RWR’s No. 51 Ford in the March 4 race.
Starting his racing career at the age of four, Custer has been successful in every form of motorsports competition. From quarter midgets to Late Models to the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and Xfinity Series, the 20-year-old has proven himself as a winner.
Some of Custer’s NASCAR accolades including becoming the youngest Truck Series pole winner ever at Gateway (Ill.) Motorsports Park. Five events later, he became the youngest winner in the history of NASCAR’s national touring series at 16 years, 7 months and 28 days when he won at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon.
Custer also scored his first-career Xfinity Series win with a dominating performance in the 2017 season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway, leading 182 of the event’s 200 circuits in his 38th career series start.
“This is a dream come true to compete in the Cup Series,” said Custer. “I can’t thank Rick Ware Racing and Haas Automation enough for the opportunity to race at Las Vegas. It’s going to be a new experience for me, but I feel that we can have a productive day by completing all the laps and seeing the checkered flag.”
Ware, a mainstay in motorsports competition for 27 years, says Custer is a superstar in the making and is grateful for the opportunity to work with him.
“I’ve been watching Cole a long time and he’s a fine young man,” Ware said. “I’ve been friends with the Custer family for a while now and they are truly are amazing people. Over the last couple years Cole has grown into a stout race car driver with a fine finesse for speed and rhythm.
“The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series is home of someone of the greatest race car drivers in the world and Cole definitely fits into that category. I think our expectations as a team are realistic and achievable. Getting Cole to the checkered flag is our top priority as a race team.”
Custer has two career starts at Las Vegas – one in the Truck Series and one in the Xfinity Series. He finished third in the 2016 Truck Series race and 11th in the 2018 Xfinity Series race.
To commemorate Custer’s Cup debut, RWR through Lionel will offer a die-cast of the No. 51 Haas Automation Ford Fusion available for purchase to the general public in the coming weeks.
In December, RWR announced that they had secured a charter from Richard Petty Motorsports securing the team a berth not only into the Daytona 500 but the remaining 35 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series events in 2018 as well.
For more on Rick Ware Racing, please “like” them on Facebook (Facebook.com/rickwareracing) or visit WareRacing.com.
Rick Ware Racing is on Twitter. Follow them @RickWareRacing. RWR PR
In his 11th season with Toyota flagship Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR), Kyle Busch, driver of the No. 18 SNICKERS® Almond Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR), returns to Atlanta Motor Speedway this weekend, the place where the winning began in 2008 with JGR, the SNICKERS® brand of Mars Inc., and Toyota.
Back in 2008, his first year with JGR, Busch headed to Atlanta for the fourth Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race of the season aiming to bring home those maiden victories for the team’s two new partners – Mars Wrigley Confectionery U.S. and Toyota.
After leading a race-high 173 laps, the Las Vegas native broke through for the SNICKERS® brand and also for the first time in NASCAR’s top series for Toyota, which was in its second year of Cup Series competition and its first year with JGR.
The win also marked the end of a 147-race drought for JGR’s No. 18 team, and it was Busch’s first of 39 Cup Series wins for JGR to date. Busch now has 162 overall wins among NASCAR’s top three series driving Toyota vehicles – 39 in the Cup Series, 80 in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, and 43 in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. Add his 21 wins prior to joining JGR at the beginning of 2008 and Busch is at 183 combined Cup, Xfinity and Truck Series wins, and counting.
It was déjà vu all over again for Busch and the No. 18 team at Atlanta in 2013 as he led 36 laps en route to his 100th career win in a Toyota and his 24th Cup Series win with JGR.
This weekend, Busch will debut the SNICKERS® Almond scheme. Available at retailers nationwide, SNICKERS® Almond Bar handles hunger with a satisfying combination of roasted almonds, caramel and milk chocolate. For more information on SNICKERS® or the Almond variety, fans can visit SNICKERS® on Facebook or Twitter.
Busch and his entire No. 18 SNICKERS® Almond Toyota Camry team hope to add to their winning ways at Atlanta by rolling up their collective sleeves as they try to rekindle the magic from 2008 and 2013 in Sunday’s Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500.
So, as the Cup Series heads back to Atlanta, Busch and the SNICKERS® Almond team will undoubtedly be feeling just a bit nostalgic with the SNICKERS® colors on the racecar, all the while recalling those 2008 and 2013 race wins at the 1.5-mile oval where the winning all began.
When it comes to iconic NASCAR car numbers, your first thought is probably Dale Earnhardt, Jr. when you see 88, Jimmie Johnson when you see 48, and Richard Petty when you see 43. Each one a motorsports legend now and forever, they’ve given meaning to those numbers through countless memorable performances over the span of their careers.
As for the No. 9, it’s without a doubt the Elliott family from Dawsonville, Georgia who immediately comes to mind. Both NASCAR Hall-of-Famer, Bill, and son, Chase, have made the 9 synonymous with success through two generations of racing, touching parts of six decades along the way. In the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway this Sunday, Chase will reignite the legacy of the Elliott 9 racing in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series in Atlanta for the first time in nearly 15 years.
The elder Elliott used No. 9 when he arrived on the NASCAR scene in the spring of 1976. Building a legacy from the very beginning, he used the now iconic number in both of his Daytona 500 wins in 1985 and 1987, his 1988 Winston Cup Series championship, his 2002 Brickyard 400 victory and for seven of his record 16 Most Popular Driver seasons.
Though he ran different car numbers at different points throughout his career, the unassuming driver from the North Georgia mountains will always and forever be associated with the 9. It became more or less a trademark that carried with it an air of a true family racing tradition.
When Chase burst onto the racing scene not much more than a decade ago, he took after his father both with his innate skill as a driver, and with the same number festooned to the side of his car. Beginning with karts and then Bandolero cars in Atlanta Motor Speedway’s Thursday Thunder program in the late 2000s and continuing up through Legends racing, late-model competition, the ARCA Racing Series and eventually into the lower levels of NASCAR, the younger Elliott always sported the No. 9 or a variation of it, just like his Dad.
In 2014, Chase won three XFINITY Series races, Rookie of the Year honors and the overall series championship with the 9 on his door and did similarly well in the same series a year later in 2015. By that point, as far as anyone anywhere in the motorsports world was concerned, Chase had done plenty to carry the legacy of the Elliott 9 well into another decade and another generation, with lots of racing still left to do.
“The No. 9 being what it is, is special to me just because of the history I've had with it,” said Elliott. “Obviously, I would have never chosen that number to start racing with if it wasn't for my dad. I have a lot of history with it myself with our XFINITY Series championship in 2014, and all my short track races were all in that number. It's just kind of home to me.”
So it was somewhat strange when, in 2016, Chase Elliott stepped into the No. 24 car for Hendrick Motorsports in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series after four-time series champion Jeff Gordon called it a career at the end of the 2015 season. Of course, though, it was an immense honor for a young rookie driver to inherit the number the great Gordon had made eternally famous over the course of his highly lucrative career.
“I’m just very honored that he is supportive and is OK with me driving that number that he’s done so much to make it what it is,” said Elliott at the time. “I think it’s an honor for me more than anything. Jeff wanted the 24 car to stay at Hendrick Motorsports, and for a guy who has been around and has done everything he’s done to make this place (HMS) what it is, how can you not have respect for that?”
And so for two years, Elliott drove the No. 24 car at the top level of NASCAR competition. And despite going winless through both of those seasons, he excelled as a young driver taking on the best of the very best, racking up 38 top-10s, 22 top-fives and even winning the pole position in each of his first two Daytona 500 appearances.
Still, Elliott lived under the shadow of “Gordon’s” No. 24 and the legacy he had left after more than 20 years at the top of the sport.
Then, in 2017, when it was announced that Kasey Kahne would not be returning to Hendrick Motorsports in 2018 and that William Byron would replace him at the four-car Cup Series team, an opportunity presented itself for Elliott to reassume more familiar numerical territory. In an announcement leading into NASCAR’s “throwback” weekend at Darlington Raceway in the fall of last season, the Hendrick shop revealed plans for Byron to take over the No. 24 the following season and for Elliott to return to his roots and the venerable No. 9.
“I wasn’t sure I’d ever drive the 9 again, Elliott said. “It’s a huge deal to my family and everyone back home (in Georgia), and I hope all of our fans will be pumped to see it back on the racetrack. There’s a legacy attached to that number, and I want to carry it on. I think it’s awesome that Hendrick Motorsports wanted to do this. It’s impossible not to be excited.”
Combined with the opportunity to revivify a longtime family tradition and a release from the pressure of running the renowned No. 24, Elliott was glad to begin a new chapter as he entered his third season in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series in 2018.
“It’s a great opportunity for me,” he said. “It’s definitely home for me in that number. It’s what I started racing with. It’s the number I have really always run except these last two years, so it’s pretty special. The history is certainly there, and I am excited to carry it forward.”
His Hall-of-Fame dad couldn’t agree more.
“It was a great opportunity for us to have Chase use Jeff’s (Gordon) number the last couple of years,” said Bill, “but for me, it’s fun to see him in the 9 car. I grew up driving the 9 all of those years and I’ve watched Chase drive the 9 at the short tracks and then through the XFINITY Series and then on to drive the 24 in the Cup Series. I think it will be fun. I think it will be really well received from the fans. I’m really looking forward to it.”
The funny thing, though, is not only will Chase be following in his father’s footsteps as far as the number on the side of his car, but he has, in many ways, mirrored the start of Bill’s Cup Series career when it comes his results on the track.
Though both were formidable foes and could run alongside the best drivers on the track in their early years in the series, the wins did not – and haven’t – come easy for either Elliott in Cup Series competition.
It took Bill 116 races and eight runner-up finishes before he visited Victory Lane for the first time in 1983. Similarly, through 77 Cup Series starts over two-plus seasons, Chase has finished third or better 13 different times – and has had his fair share of bad luck after great runs – without scoring a win.
“Actually, there's some similarities in how he (Bill) got started,” said Chase. “He finished second a lot before he won a race too. Kind of weird. But I think I've run second almost as many times as he has before he won his first race. I think that's probably the biggest similarity we've had so far.”
It must run in the genes.
But whether or not his naturally modest demeanor will allow, he knows that first win is well within reach. With his superior on-track abilities, a strong history of winning in the Hendrick Motorsports shop and some of the best in the business putting fast race cars underneath him week in and week out, it’s never been a matter of “if” he’ll win at the Cup Series level, but when.
“You never know what tomorrow brings, much less a couple years down the road,” Elliott said about his career outlook. “But I think I'm fortunate to be in a situation where (car owner) Mr. (Rick) Hendrick has put a lot of trust in me to do well. He's had a reputation – his company – of winning, winning championships, winning races. I haven't really done that for him, but I'd love to do my part.”
Will being in the No. 9 going forward be that magical missing piece he needs to push himself over the edge and finally into Victory Lane?
“I don’t think so,” he said frankly. “I can’t see the outside of the car from the inside. So, at the end of the day, is it going to make me go any faster? No, probably not. Do I think it looks better? Yes, I do. Is it my favorite number? Yes, it is. Has it always been my favorite number? Yes, it has been. So, all those things are great. I’m very luck and honored to carry the number that I’ve carried for a number of years before this year, so it’s like getting back home to me from that sense. But no, I don’t think it’s going to make me go any faster or slower.”
Still, it’s can’t hurt to try something new, especially when it means so much to so many people, driver and family included.
“I think anybody that’s followed me for any period of time probably associates me with that number, and I think it just fits. I mean, if you could choose your favorite number to race with, I think everybody would, wouldn't you?
His father won three times at Atlanta driving the No. 9 car in the 1980s, and if Chase has anything to do with it this weekend, he’ll follow yet again in the footsteps of Awesome Bill and put the 9 back in the same Victory Lane he did so many times in a Bandolero car not all that long ago.