Wednesday, Dec 01
Speedway Digest Staff

Speedway Digest Staff

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TREVOR BAYNE, No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Fusion

TOUGH DAY FOR YOU, WHAT HAPPENED? “I didn’t even get to break a sweat. It seems like nothing like this happens on a day you are running bad. As soon as you have a fast race car and feel like you are in the hunt, something comes up. I feel like we were okay and hanging in there and running top-10 so it is pretty disheartening. It is tough when you have a day like t his. I know these guys work so hard on the engine program at Ford and I don’t know what happened here. I know we put some extra miles and extra heat cycles on it yesterday. I don’t know if that has anything to do with it. Maybe we would have just expired later in the race. It is tough. I hate it for my guys because it isn’t like we are here every weekend and we want to make the best of every weekend that we can. At least we were running top-10 when it happened. It is a tough day for us. I wish we were out there making laps and getting better and getting experience and running up front.”

JOSH WISE, No. 26 MDS Transport Ford Fusion
WHAT HAPPENED “I have no idea what it was yet. Something went through the pan and that is all we know right now. It was a pretty big boom. It is a bummer. This motor we have run it quite a bit so it is not like it is a new motor that is blowing up or anything.” 

DID THE EXTRA PRACTICE HAVE ANYTHING TO DO WITH IT? “No, I don’t think so. Obviously we would have run a few more laps today if we hadn’t practiced yesterday but I don’t think that had much to do with it. I am sure they will get it apart and see what caused it.” 

IS IT AS CRAZY OUT THERE AS GUYS THOUGHT IT MIGHT BE? “Yeah, there are just a lot of unknowns. A lot of the cars aren’t really balanced for this tire. We only got a pretty small amount of time yesterday to adjust our cars and then with the rain all morning there is no rubber on the track and it is really slick out there.”

Ford Racing PR

Momentum is high as the Kyle Busch Motorsports (KBM) team continues to prove they are competitive in the NASCAR Nationwide Series. In only 13 weeks of racing for the young program, built by NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Kyle Busch, and with a third-place finish by Kurt Busch in yesterday's event, KBM now records eight top-ten and six top-five finishes.

 

Busch started the Alliance Auto Parts 250 from the 15th qualifying position and jumped six positions within the first lap of the race. In that same lap however, the No. 54 Monster Energy Camry sustained damage to the lower nose and hood of the car when the No. 7 car spun suddenly in front of Busch, leaving no room for him to maneuver away from hitting the No. 22 machine. While the yellow flag was out for track clean up, the KBM team repaired the car by taping down the damaged areas.

 

The team restarted in the 36th position and in Busch fashion, was back in the top 15 by lap 15. Initial feedback from the driver was that the car was, "a little snug into three with a tailwind pushing us down the back." Despite windy conditions, race speeds were high on the newly paved two-mile speedway, reaching the 190 mph mark in some cases.

 

A race caution on lap 25 allowed the No. 54 Toyota team to visit pit road for adjustments to the car. With air pressure and spring changes, crew chief Mike Beam was hopeful the car's handling would loosen up for the veteran driver. While in the 12th position going into pit road, a slow pit stop to check tape and front-end damage from earlier in the race, caused the team to restart in the 25th position.

 

"The race car was just coming around to us, but still a little loose," explained Busch as the next race caution-flag waved on lap 48. Reversing adjustments made on the previous stop, Beam and crew set the car back to how it was at race start. By lap 58 of the 125-lap event, the Monster Energy Athlete was in the third position and began to run his fastest lap times, telling the crew he was able to run the car "wide open" across half the racetrack. "We are good in turn four, that's where we are beating them," relayed Busch. Radio communications from the spotter and crew chief encouraged the No. 54 driver with lap times recorded faster than race frontrunners Paul Menard and Elliott Sadler, timed 3.8 seconds ahead.

 

The only green-flag pit stop of the day came at lap 88 with further car changes to the Monster Energy Camry and after the field cycled through pit road, the KBM No. 54 returned to the track and regained third position. Three more race cautions would occur through the final laps of the event including one red-flag session where cars were parked on the backstretch for cleanup efforts from a two-car incident.

 

Knowing the race was winding down, competitors became anxious on the final two restarts. Busch himself was caught in traffic and dropped back as far as eighth, but made an aggressive recovery with an outside pass around the field. The No. 54 Monster Energy team would complete their first Michigan NNS event in third place.

 

Explained Busch post race, "I felt like we did the best we could with the damage from that first spin by Danica (Patrick) -- I didn't see where she was in the top groove and a bunch of us were on the bottom side racing hard. I hit the back of the 22 (Brad Keselowski). Keselowski had some damage and we had to work our way back up from all that repair work and worked our way back up a couple times from starting in the back and brought the Monster Energy car home in third today. A little too much damage I thought when I got out of the car and looked at it I was like, 'Woo, that was definitely slowing us up on the straightaway a little bit.' The hood wasn't sealed to the nose so it was a great finish all in all with all the teamwork that went into it -- good, solid pit stops. It was great to bring Kyle's (Busch, team owner) car home with a top-three finish and just kind of keep building on what KBM (Kyle Busch Motorsports) is doing."

 

Joey Logano recorded the first win for Toyota at a Nationwide Series race at Michigan, which was his fifth victory in the NASCAR Nationwide Series this year and 14th of his career. James Buesher followed .208 seconds behind in the second-finishing spot while Busch, Cole Whitt and pole-sitter Austin Dillon completed the top-five finishers. There were seven caution periods for 26 laps of the race along with fourteen lead changes across 10 drivers.

 

The No. 54 Monster Energy team remains ninth in the Owner's Point standings, 95 points from the leader.

 

KBM PR

Mike Wallace and the No. 01 Carl Ent/Bank of Ann Arbor Mortgage Dept Chevrolet team had a longer weekend than normal at the two-mile oval of Michigan International Speedway.

With the track being totally repaved since their last visit in 2011, all NASCAR Nationwide Series teams were taking to a new-feeling surface looking for positive results. Three practice sessions on Friday gave them their first indications of what to expect.

During those sessions, Wallace and the Newt Moore-led team posted the 23rd, 28th and 25th times, respectively, on the scoring chart. Their teammate, Danny Efland in the No. 4 Tradebank Chevrolet, didn’t go out for the first session, but was 35th and 33rd in the second and third practices.

When the race started, Wallace was lined up 30th with Efland in 33rd place.

And, as he does for every race, the veteran experience Wallace brings to the table proved its value as he settled into a product rhythm right from the start. As a four-time NNS winner, he knows it’s important to be there at the end rather than burn up your equipment early.

The first caution took place just two laps into the race, which didn’t require a pit stop. But, a pre-scheduled competition caution for lap 27 allowed a trip down pit road for tires, fuel and adjustments.

From there, Wallace would race his way around the big and wide oval in search of the best line on the new pavement. Handling conditions would continue to be addressed on future pit stops as the teams tried to get their cars better for a good finish.

More cautions allowed for drives to get the Lucky Dog and get back on the lead lap. Wallace, unfortunately, never was in the right position at the right time to take advantage as he raced one lap down to the leaders for the latter portion of the race. He was one of six cars just one lap down, while the rest of the field was two or more.

A wreck on lap 119 brought out the red for just less than nine minutes. It also set up a four-lap shootout to the checkered flag. When that waved on lap 125, Wallace came across the Start/Finish Line in 20th place. He remains 13th in Driver’s Points, trailing 10th by 23 markers as the NNS heads to the left and right turns of Road America next Saturday.

Efland brought the No. 4 Tradebank Chevrolet under the double-checkered flags in 27th place.

Mike Wallace Quotes: “I have to give credit to the folks at Michigan; they did a good job repaving this track. It was smooth and had a ton of grip.

“We weren’t too far off from where were needed to be, but with a track this big it gets so tough to keep up with because everyone is strung out so much. Some of the cautions fell to our favor and helped us make adjustments at the right times.

“I’d like to thank Carl Ent from the Bank of Ann Arbor Mortgage Department for jumping on board with us for this weekend. This is his third year being a part of this race and we appreciate his efforts very much.”

JD Motorsports PR

Eddie Wood, co-owner of the No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Fusion, wanted to see some speed on the newly repaved Michigan International Speedway, and he hasn’t been disappointed.

On Saturday, his driver Trevor Bayne turned a lap at 201.444 miles per hour to secure the seventh starting position for Sunday’s Quicken Loans 400. Trevor was part of a group of four Ford Fusion drivers in the top seven on a record-setting day at Michigan. Every driver who qualified and one who didn’t all bettered the old track record of 194.232 miles per hour.  

Qualifying results at Michigan are closely watched as the track is the home venue for U.S. automakers like Ford Motor Company, the long-timer backer of the Wood Brothers race team.

Bayne was the best of the go-or-go-home drivers, and even though he had to keep in mind that any mistake could knock him out of the starting line-up, he kept his foot on the gas when he had to.

“I am still shaking,” he said after climbing out of the Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Fusion. “Man, that is fast out there.”

Still, he knew his car had a little speed to spare.

“I wish I could have driven in a little deeper,” he said. “I think I could have got another tenth or so. It isn’t a bad starting spot though. We will take a top-10 here.” And he had praise for his crew, led by veteran crew chief Donnie Wingo.“It is a cool place.”

Wood Brothers Racing PR

A.J. Allmendinger (No. 22 Shell/Pennzoil Dodge Charger R/T) Qualified 20th
“That was slower and I don’t know why.  I guess I’ll just go with the answer that I don’t know (smile).  It felt okay, I guess I maybe used a little too much brake, I guess, I don’t know.  I thought it was going to be faster than yesterday.”

HAS THE CAR BEEN TOO TIGHT OR TOO LOOSE?  “We’ve been fighting both.  We just don’t have enough speed in the car.  We’ve got to keep working on the balance.  We’ve fought tight and loose in general.  We’ll see what happens with the new tire.”

WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE NEW LEFT-SIDE TIRES?  “We’ll see what the tire feels like and see what it does to this racetrack.  Obviously there’s a blistering problem so they did the right thing ‘cause it’s scary as hell out there as it is anyway (smile).  It’s good that they fixed it.  We’ll just see what we’ve got and just keep working on the balance.  That’s all you can do.  We know we don’t have the speed that we need right now but we’ll just keep trying to make the balance best as possible.”

Brad Keselowski (No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge Charger R/T) Qualified 25th
“I thought my lap was really good and it didn’t show up on the charts as being that good.  Definitely a gain from where we were yesterday so I’m proud of that.  That was the best the car had been by far and I thought it would run faster but it wasn’t meant to be.”

YOU DID THE TIRE TEST HERE.  WERE YOU SURPRISED AT WHAT PEOPLE WERE SEEING?  “Yes.  I thought that the tire at the test was very good and that tells me there’s probably some real aggressive setups going on out there and that’s probably most of it because I’m not having any issues.  We’ve got to have safety in the sport, we’ve got to make sure that we don’t have another Indy issue and I’m proud of NASCAR and Goodyear for reacting.  Obviously you’d like to get it right the first time and that didn’t happen.  I’m that there is a backup plan to keep it from being a bigger problem that what it is.”

SRT PR

CASEY MEARS, No. 13 GEICO Ford Fusion

“It was pretty bad really. We were really tight. I don’t think that is going to be very good. We were out of the throttle a lot.”  HOW ABOUT THE TIRE SITUATION?  “Well, we didn’t do long enough runs because we were battling the handling on our car. We were doing short runs trying to make it better. A lot of guys were getting blisters and when you have a situation like that you have to do something and that is what they did. I think that is the right decision based on the information they were getting. It will be interesting to see how practice goes tonight.”

MARCOS AMBROSE, No. 9 Stanley Ford Fusion

“I left a little bit out there. I got greedy into turn three. The Stanley team at Richard Petty Motorsports did an outstanding job for us. This is a really great hot rod and I am proud to represent them. We get to start in the front and that is all you can ask for. We are going to try the tire change tonight and see how our car adapts to that.”  DID THE CLOUD HELP YOU? “I hope it goes away pretty soon for everyone else. This track is so fast, it is just reactions out there and my car was good. I have to be thankful for the lap I put down.”

ARIC ALMIROLA, No. 43 Medallion Ford Fusion

“We were too loose right there. We made a lot of changes between practice and qualifying and that was a lot better. The car had a lot more front turn and did a lot of things better. We just didn’t adjust quite right for how much better the car turned. We were a little loose right there but I am proud of Mike Ford and all the guys on this Medallion Financial Ford. We made big improvements there with that run.”  TOMORROW IS A BIG UNKNOWN ISN’T IT?  “Yeah, it is. We are going to get an hour and fifteen minutes to try to figure out all that we can figure out.”

CARL EDWARDS, No. 99 Fastenal Ford

WHAT DID YOU FEEL FROM THE COCKPIT? “First, a disclaimer about this whole thing. This has nothing to do with last season. It has nothing to do with finishing second in points. Man, this is frustrating. I think it is a fuel issue. It almost feels like there is an air leak or something in the pickup for the fuel. It is running but it acts like it is running out of fuel. I wanted to run this lap so badly. Our Fastenal Ford is really good. I told my wife before that I was going to get this pole and I wanted to be the fastest guy in NASCAR for the last 25 years. That would be very special. I am very frustrated we didn’t get to run it, but it is better now than in the race. We know this car can compete for the win and now we just have to make sure – the people asked if we can pass on this track or not but I feel like we are going to be able to pass and it is going to be good and we will have to make it happen.”

GREG BIFFLE, No. 16 3M/Salute Ford Fusion

“I think the car drove really good but I tell off of four down the front that this wind now that seems to be coming up, I didn’t feel that when I walked out tot pit road. It felt like three-quarters of the way the car was good and then lost a lot of speed. It didn’t feel like it accelerated from turn four to the start finish, like something was wrong with the motor. I got out of the car and feel this strong wind and that could have had a little to do with the lap time. I got about all I could get I think out of the car. I thought there would be more grip in one and two so I backed it down a little bit in three and four and it might have cost me.”

MATT KENSETH, No. 17 Ford EcoBoost Ford Fusion

“We just missed the balance. We were tight in our mock run yesterday and tried to make it better but we are still really tight. I am really impressed with the speed for how much I had to get out of the gas and how tight it was to still run that lap time is pretty encouraging. I was honestly going for it hoping to run for the pole today and didn’t have enough grip to do it.”

TREVOR BAYNE, No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Fusion

“It wasn’t bad. I am still shaking man that is fast out there. I wish I could have got a little more out of it but I just didn’t trust it on entry. It got a little loose on me and was more free than yesterday. Not sure if that is the track or the heat. I wish I could have drove in a little deeper. I think I could have got another tenth or so. It isn’t a bad starting spot though. We will take a top-10 here. We haven’t been at the track in a little bit so these guys are doing a great job keeping up with these full time people. It is just a good opportunity for Ford and for me to be out here on this race track. It is a cool place.”

GREG BIFFLE PRESS CONFERENCE

YOU ARE THIRD QUICKEST TODAY, YOU GOTTA FEEL GOOD ABOUT THINGS. “I am telling myself that the track slowed down after Marcos and Kevin went. It seemed like it was awful slick when I went. Boy, I got all I can get down there in turn one. I drove it around turn one and two and it felt like I had all weekend. I was really happy because I barely made it off the corner. It was chattering the front and sliding the back. It felt like I got all I could down there. In three and four it felt pretty good but I came off turn four and the car really kind of slowed down a little bit off of turn four. When I got off the car on pit road there was a fair amount of win. It plays a little havoc with the cars here. To be third and running that fast is certainly nothing to shake a stick at. We are real happy with that. The change in the tire, we didn’t have a lot of tire trouble. I guess there was a lot more tire trouble around the garage than what I knew of. Even when I came in here and did the interview last night I had no idea that some guys were – I had heard maybe one tire was blistered and that is typically low air. We are going 200-some miles per hour and guys are trying to run 15 lbs of air in them and it hurts the tire. That is typically the issue. I guess there was more to it than that. Some guys had right rear trouble on long runs. Denny Hamlin on the other hand said he ran a fuel run plus and didn’t have any issues. Different cars are having different issues. Certainly we need practice time to see how this thing drives and make proper adjustments to how thing drivers. Maybe a different shock or bump stop too. The other thing we are limited on is mileage on our engines. The engine shop is certainly not excited about another practice session. We are real narrow on laps on the engine so we are going to have to get it done quick.”

AFTER CARL HAD HIS ISSUE, WERE YOU CONCERNED TO GO OUT AND TAKE YOUR LAP? “Not really. A lot of times things like that are isolated car incidences. Whether it is wiring or a mechanic left something undone or a plug didn’t get plugged in. It could be a number of things. I wasn’t that concerned. I was after qualifying concerned to find out exactly what did happen and I think they are still working on what exactly did happen to it.”

IS THERE ANYTHING WITH A FAIRNESS ISSUE IN REGARDS TO THE TIRE SINCE YOU HAD NO ISSUES AND YET THEY STILL MADE A CHANGE? “You always want a leg up on the competition. I am saying, ‘Oh yeah, lets stick with this tire because we haven’t had any trouble.’ Certainly safety comes to mind at the speeds we are going. You know, I am not a tire specialist but it seems like a tire from 2007 blowing the dust off it and putting it on a car going 200 might not be the best. I don’t know if that would have been my first choice as a driver, let me put it that way. Maybe something with a little more grip than that. You know, I could say we want to stay on that tire but guys are having troubles and if it isn’t going to make a tire run – I have to admit, I didn’t run more than 10-12 laps at a time. I ran an entire fuel run but coming in and out. Quite possibly, if I ran straight 30-40 lap runs, maybe we would have an issue too.”

WHEN YOU SAY THE TIRE WILL BE HARD TO DRIVE, DO YOU THINK IT WILL LESSEN THE CHANCES OF A GOOD RACE? ALSO, JACK ROUSH SAID YOU WERE USING A TALLER GEAR IN THIS NIGHT PRACTICE, WILL YOU BE ABLE TO LEARN MUCH? “Well, you read my mind because I am lobbying to run the race gear because of that issue. Number one, if we slow the cars down two or three miles per hour, you are going to want more gear. So, we are going to slow the cars down two or three miles per hour and put a taller gear in. Those two combined is a giant negative. I think the car is going to slow down enough with the tires that you will be able to run the same gear and relieve some RPM on the engines. They are just trying to get less miles on the engine and a taller gear means it thinks it is going less of a distance. I can’t argue with the engine shop. Some guys on our team are out of mileage. We have like 30-some laps left on normally what we get handed out. I know a couple guys have zero or two or three. They are getting extensions on their mileage. That is about what we have to deal with. The harder tire will mean it could be harder to pass, that is a possibility. If the tire doesn’t have as much side bite, which is what slows the car down, sometimes it is harder to race side by side with a tire that has less side bite because it could take off on you. A lot of times a little bit slower lap times almost make a little bit better race sometimes. The cars become a little less aero dependant and the slower they start dropping down. I would say there is a direct correlation, you just don’t know.”

GREG BIFFLE CONTINUED … THIS TRACK WAS GOING TO BE NICKNAME THE FASTEST TRACK IN NASCAR AT THE END OF THE DAY. HOW FAST DO YOU THINK YOU WILL GO OUT THERE AND HOW DO YOU COMPARE THIS PLACE TO INDIANAPOLIS? “The speeds are kind of similar but the corners are totally different. Indy is real straight and then two corners and then another long straightaway. I would say this is the fastest track. Yesterday we went 220 mph and a 204.7 average. Definitely fast, faster than any track out there and probably I would say that I can nearly guarantee that is the fastest that any car has gone at a down force, non restrictor plate – take Talladega and Daytona out of it – that is faster than any car has gone at a non-restrictor plate.”

WITH ALL THE CHANGES, DOES IT CHANGE HOW YOU FEEL ABOUT WHERE YOU QUALIFIED? “I am extremely happy with where I qualified. I just go into turn one and bump Marcos out of the way (laughter). No, I am extremely happy I just don’t know about this tire that we are going to. I am nervous about it until we get out on the race track. The driver in you doesn’t know what to expect. You hope your car is as good as it is now. Maybe just a little slower. Hopefully the balance is good and I pick the right shocks and we don’t have to change a whole lot. We just don’t know til we get there. We hope it is not real skatey, we just don’t know.”

Ford Racing PR

Congratulations to Chad Johnston, crew chief of the No. 56 NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and his wife Stacey.

Last night, Johnston received an early Father’s Day present as his son, Chase Allen Johnston, arrived at 10:32 p.m. ET.  The baby boy weighed in at nine lbs. and 20.75 inches long. He joins big sister Sydnee into the family.

Plans are for Johnston to remain in Mooresville, N.C. with his family for the remainder of the weekend. Serving as interim crew chief for driver Martin Truex Jr. and the NAPA Racing team for Sunday’s Michigan 400 at Michigan International Speedway is Scott Miller, Michael Waltrip Racing executive vice president of competition.

MWR

 

Goodyear will make a tire change for Sunday’s Quicken Loans 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Michigan International Speedway. The decision was made Friday evening after teams had tires that were blistering following Friday’s practice sessions at the newly-repaved 2.0-mile track.

Goodyear will bring a tougher left side tire from Charlotte that the teams will use in Sunday’s event. The teams will qualify Saturday as scheduled at 1:10 p.m. ET with the tires previously allotted by Goodyear. Following the NASCAR Nationwide Series race, the teams will be given a 75-minute practice session with the new left side tires that will start at approximately 6 p.m.    

“With the new repave here at Michigan, coupled with the high temperatures we’re seeing this weekend, we feel this change will help us put on the best race possible on Sunday,” said Robin Pemberton, NASCAR Vice President of Competition.

NASCAR PR

 

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