Monday, May 23
Speedway Digest Staff

Speedway Digest Staff

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Saturday night’s NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway will mark the 12th appearance in the annual classic for Furniture Row Racing driver Kurt Busch.
 
The drive to win the prestigious non-points race and the $1 million payday is something that Busch has experienced with his win in the 2010 All-Star Race.
 
“We feel confident that our Armed Forces Day Furniture Row/Sealy Chevrolet SS could be the magic piece to take home the million bucks,” said Busch. “The Sprint All-Star Race is always one of the highlights of the season.”
 
Busch’s overall All-Star Race record is: 11 starts, one win, four top-fives, six top-10s, one pole and 30 laps led. His average start is 8.1 and average finish 10.8.
 
Busch followed his 2010 All-Star Race win with a victory the following week at Charlotte in the Coca-Cola 600. He is one of four active drivers to have won the Charlotte double. The others are Jeff Gordon (1997), Jimmie Johnson (2003) and Kasey Kahne (2008).
 
Busch qualified for this year’s Sprint All-Star Race as both a former winner of the event and as a former NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion (2004).
 
The All-Star Race format will include five segments for the 22-car field. The first four segments will be 20 laps each at the 1.5-mile oval with the final segment totaling 10 laps. The starting position for the final segment will be based on the driver’s average finish in the first four segments.
 
“It comes down to the final 10-lap segment,” stated Busch. “You have to act like it’s qualifying for 10 laps and you have to ignore the other cars on the track because you have to get all the speed you can out of your own. You just have to lay down a bet if that guy is going to slide up high because you have to be in the gas digging hard if you’re going to try and get by him.
 
“You have to anticipate when people are going to bobble or make a slip or when you have an advantage to take care of it early. There’s a lot of gambling -- that’s what I‘ve noticed. I passed five guys in two laps to win the All-Star Race three years ago. It was because I found the speed in the car for the final segment and I went into the corners attacking the track and it seemed like the seas parted for me.”
 
FRR PR

Hey now, you’re an All Star. Get your game on. Go play. Hey now, you’re a Rock Star. Get the show on. Get paid.” The members of the rock band Smashmouth didn’t have the Sprint All-Star Race in mind when they wrote the lyrics to their song “All Star,” but it certainly fits for Jimmie Johnson as he and the rest of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series circuit pull into Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway for Saturday’s non-points-paying event, the Sprint All-Star Race.

While Johnson is most certainly an all-star, having won the race three times – May 2012, 2006 and 2003 – a victory Saturday night may put him on the road to rock star status. He would surpass Dale Earnhardt and Jeff Gordon for most wins in the event.

Drama is always at a premium during a race where the competitors have a million reasons to go to victory lane. And Johnson has had his share of all-star theatrics. His battle with Kevin Harvick in 2007 resulted in a runner-up finish but included a last-lap attempt to get around the leader that produced final-turn excitement.

With his No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet painted a patriotic red, white and blue, and appropriately ringed in stars, there’s sure to be some more excitement this weekend in a race “where all that glitters is gold.” And where “only shooting stars break the mold.” Johnson will certainly have some gold in his pocket should he go on and break the mold by becoming the most successful driver in All-Star history.

TSC PR

Five-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson selected the final two fan charities to be featured on the 2013 Jimmie Johnson Foundation Blue Bunny Helmet of Hope.

Peach's Neet Feet and MISS Foundation were chosen to appear on the helmet that Johnson will wear during race weekend activities at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn on Aug. 18, 2013. Each organization also will receive a grant of $10,000 and a special Blue Bunny ice cream party.

Peach’s Neet Feet donates custom, hand-painted shoes to children living with disabilities and fighting serious illnesses. Every shoe is designed to complement each child’s life, interest, and courageous fight. They have donated nearly 700 pairs of shoes to children around the country in just two years.

Peach's Neet Feet was nominated by Misshay Smith, whose son received a pair of shoes while in The Children's Hospital located in Oklahoma City, Okla. “My son loves his Spiderman shoes,” shared Smith. “They give him the courage to fight and make him smile when he wears them.”

Madison “Peach” Steiner is the founder/president of Peach’s Neet Feet, which started in Steiner’s bedroom with a spark of fierce desire to make a difference. "Madison doesn't just paint shoes, but she becomes part of the team that helps these kids fight" said Smith.

MISS Foundation provides Counseling, Advocacy, Research, Education and Support (C.A.R.E.S). for families experiencing the death of a baby or child at any age and from any cause. They are a place where families can feel connected to others during their darkest hours.

MISS Foundation offers free family packets, HOPE mentor matches, support groups, counseling, and more. "Without their help, I am not sure where my wife and I would be right now," states Brian Bobier. Brian nominated the MISS Foundation after losing their first-born daughter. "I believe this would be a wonderful charity to promote since losing a child happens far too often in our society" said Bobier.

Peach's Neet Feet, located in Farmington, N.M., and MISS Foundation, located in Phoenix, Ariz., join International FOP Association, Ruth’s Reusable Resources, Denver Kids, Inc., Miracle League of Pensacola, Chelsea's Hope, Me Fine Foundation, Against Abuse, Inc., Cincinnati Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired and Make-A-Wish Iowa as charities that will be featured on the Blue Bunny Helmet of Hope.

TSC PR

The speeds are sure to be fast and the action non-stop on June 16 when the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series rolls into Michigan International Speedway for the Quicken Loans 400.

But on Thursday the excitement will be high for a different reason at Gleaners Community Food Bank of Southeastern Michigan. Gleaners welcomes 70 volunteers from Quicken Loans and MIS to help kick off its virtual food drive program that allows Michiganders to contribute with a simple click of the mouse. The food drive will begin on Thursday, May 16 and end at midnight on Thursday, June 13.

“We take pride in giving back to the community and supporting those who may not be as fortunate,” MIS President Roger Curtis said. “Today will be special to join with Quicken Loans to volunteer at Gleaners and make a difference. Then to have Jeff Gordon in town to help us start a month-long virtual food drive and AARP make a matching contribution added to the excitement.”

Gordon, driver of the No. 24 Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet, will make a pit stop to help promote the Quicken Loans 400. But more importantly, he is in town to help wave the green flag on Gleaner’s virtual food drive to help feed the hungry in Southeastern Michigan.

"So much has been done to help the nearly nine million older Americans battling hunger, but so much more still needs to be done," said Gordon. “Thanks to Michigan International Speedway, this virtual food drive is another way to assist in that effort.”

The virtual food drive makes it easy for fans to join in the challenge and feed the hungry in Michigan. To donate, simply go towww.mispeedway.com/fooddrive and select the amount you would like to contribute.

Quicken Loans has been at the forefront to help revitalize downtown Detroit. In fact, Quicken Loans team members gave more than 10,000 hours of their time to volunteer with Gleaners food bank, and several other charities in 2012 alone.

MIS and Quicken Loans are two great Michigan-based companies that have taken leveraged the race weekend to make an impact that lasts the entire year. It was a natural connection to team up with Gordon and his support of Drive to End Hunger to help feed those in need in Southeast Michigan.

Additionally, AARP has agreed to match the first $10,000 donated through this virtual food drive – multiplying the impact of each individual donation.

While the economy shows signs of improvement, many of our most vulnerable still need help with the basics. Health care, loss or lack of a partner and unemployment are the top three reasons for hunger, making certain populations, namely seniors, particularly vulnerable.

It’s a slippery slope. When seniors skip meals to pay medical bills, they run the risk of needing more medical attention, as hungry seniors are more likely to be hospitalized and to have chronic conditions such as heart disease and diabetes than their well-nourished peers.

The number of older adults is projected to increase by 36% over the next decade and continue to rise in the following decade. In 2030 there will be 72.1 million older adults, almost twice as many as in 2008. Additionally, the senior population is becoming increasingly diverse. These changing demographics will have profound impacts on the demand for social services.

Founded in 1977, Gleaners is one of the oldest and largest food banks in the country. Today it distributes more than 46 million pounds of emergency food annually, equivalent to 100,000 meals per day. Headquartered in Detroit, Gleaners operates a total of five distribution centers in Wayne, Oakland, Macomb, Livingston and Monroe counties, which provide food to 558 partner soup kitchens, food pantries, shelters and other agencies throughout southeastern Michigan. Of every dollar donated, Gleaners uses 93 cents for food and food programs. One dollar provides three meals for a hungry neighbor. Learn more atwww.gcfb.org.

MIS PR

In a ceremony held at Sapona Ridge Country Club in Lexington, NC, legendary NASCAR team owner Richard Childress received an Honorary Doctor of Laws Degree from the University of Northwestern Ohio (UNOH) on Wednesday, May 15.

 

With more than 100 people in attendance, including his wife Judy, daughter Tina Dillon, son-in-law Mike Dillon, and grandsons Austin and Ty Dillon, the 14-time championship race team owner was bestowed the honor by Dr. Jeffrey Jarvis, president of UNOH.
Dr. Jarvis presented the degree based on Childress' achievements in the high performance/motorsports industry, his commitment to assist in the school's goal of achieving educational excellence and his lifetime achievements in the field of auto racing.

 

"Obviously, Dr. Childress is an icon in all of motorsports," said Steve Farmer, vice president of corporate development for UNOH. "We are recognizing him for his accomplishments on and off the track, what he has done for all of motorsports and the great relationship we have with Dr. Childress and RCR.

"He is very deserving of this honorary degree. This is a relationship we want to see continue for many years. When it comes to people like Richard Childress, he is second to none."

During the presentation, his many racing achievements, successful business ventures and commitment to various charitable causes were named off. They included his six NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championships, five NASCAR Nationwide Series driver and owner championships and two Camping World Truck Series championships.

His work with the Childress Institute for Pediatric Trauma, the Congressional Sportsmen's Foundation and numerous outdoors conservation causes, were among other accomplishments mentioned. Childress was also recognized for his success with Childress Vineyards, Yadkin River Angus Farm and Sapona Ridge Country Club and his race team, RCR.

"This is a great honor to receive this honorary degree from UNOH," Childress said. "I would like to thank everyone in racing, the vineyard and CIPT for being part of this, too.

"I can't thank the people from UNOH enough for all they've done with their motorsports programs. They have changed the lives of so many young people's lives and careers with what they teach at their fine school.

"I have had many great moments in my life, but this one ranks right up there as one of the highest honors I have ever received."

RCR PR

The NBA has Kobe Bryant, Kevin Garnett and Shaquille O’Neal on its list with 15 All-Star appearances. Baseball greats such as Brooks Robinson, Ozzie Smith and Yogi Berra each played in 15 All-Star Games. And proving how elusive 15 is, no NFL player has played in 15 Pro Bowls. The only one to come close is Merlin Olsen with 14.

Saturday night at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway, Tony Stewart, driver of the No. 14 Bass Pro Shops/National Wild Turkey Federation Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing, joins this exclusive club of 15 by making his 15th appearance in NASCAR’s All-Star event – the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race.

By definition, an All-Star event is an exhibition featuring the sport’s best competitors. In basketball, baseball and football, participants are selected by a combination of votes from fellow players, coaches and fans.

The process for All-Star selection in NASCAR is quite a bit different. It’s a win-and-you’re-in model, with the starting field consisting of recent NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race winners (2012-2013), All-Star Race winners from the past 10 years and former series champions from the past 10 years.

It’s a model that has worked very well for Stewart, who has been an All-Star Race regular since his rookie year in 1999.

A win in what was then known as The Winston Open – the undercard race to The Winston, which was the original name of the All-Star Race – propelled Stewart into The Winston. He started last in the 21-car field, but rallied his way into the lead before Ironman Terry Labonte took control and drove to the win with Stewart crossing the stripe in second.

Stewart has since solidified his place in the annual event by winning each of the necessary qualifications for the All-Star Race. He’s a three-time Sprint Cup champion who has won at least one race every year he’s competed in the series. And in 2009, Stewart etched his name on the list of All-Star Race winners by besting the best of the best. He led only once for two laps, but they were the most important ones, pacing the final two circuits of Charlotte’s 1.5-mile oval after getting by Matt Kenseth for the lead on lap 98 of the 100-lap contest. Stewart’s margin of victory over the 2003 Sprint Cup champion was .971 of a second.

It was Stewart’s first victory as a driver/owner with Stewart-Haas Racing, making him the first driver/owner to win a Sprint Cup-sanctioned event since Ricky Rudd won a point-paying race in October 1998 at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway. Stewart became the second driver/owner to win the All-Star Race, joining Geoff Bodine, who accomplished the feat in 1994.

Along with the 2009 win, Stewart has scored an impressive eight top-fives and earned an average finish of eighth in 14 career All-Star Race starts.

Now, All-Star Race No. 15 looms for Stewart under the lights at Charlotte Motor Speedway. And like Stewart’s All-Star counterparts in the stick-and-ball realm, it’s another chance to shine.

TSC PR

Kurt Busch and Trevor Bayne spent the past two days at Michigan International Speedway testing NASCAR’s Gen-6 Car for their respective Furniture Row Racing and Wood Brothers Racing teams.

The drivers have been preparing for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Quicken Loans 400 on June 18 and the Pure Michigan 400 on Aug. 18.

“Raw speed,” Busch said. “This place is fast. It’s fun. You always pull the belts down tight for your first lap out.”

The speeds were once again fast as both teams continued to work on the setup of their cars on the two-mile oval, continuing MIS as NASCAR’s fastest track.

Busch’s top average speed around the two-mile oval was 195.865 mph with a top speed of 212 mph down the back stretch.

Bayne was nearly as fast on the second day of his test. He clicked off a lap at 193.500 mph with a top speed of 211.500 mph.

Michigan International Speedway became NASCAR’s fastest racetrack in June 2012 when Marcos Ambrose qualified at 203.241 mph for the Quicken Loans 400. It was the 11th-fastest pole-winning speed in NASCAR Sprint Cup Series history and the first time the pole winning speed was faster than 200 mph at a track other than Talladega Superspeedway and Daytona International Speedway.

Wood Brothers Racing is looking to take the new Gen-6 car to victory lane to add to their impressive 11 total Sprint Cup Series victories at Michigan. The Wood Brothers history seems fitting given the location, as it is in the back yard of the Dearborn, Mich.-based Ford Motor Company, who has supported the Wood Brothers for many years.

“This would be one of the biggest wins for the Wood Brothers,” Bayne said. “It’s a big deal to run good here.”

MIS PR

NASCAR announced today the postseason awards dates for the annual NASCAR Nationwide Series and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, set for Monday, Nov. 18 at the Loews Miami Beach Hotel in Miami Beach, Fla.

For the fifth consecutive season, the NASCAR Nationwide Series and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series will share the awards stage, honoring the series driver and owner champions as well as the top-five drivers in each series.

“Winning a NASCAR championship in one of our national series is a remarkable accomplishment, and the reason why the postseason awards shows are such significant dates on the NASCAR calendar,” said Steve Phelps, NASCAR chief marketing officer. “Returning to a major market such as Miami for the Nationwide Series and Camping World Truck Series Awards will shine a bright spotlight on the special and unique achievements of our champions.”

For the first time in two years, NASCAR will crown a new champion in the NASCAR Nationwide Series, as reigning two-time titlist Ricky Stenhouse Jr. now races full time in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. JR Motorsports driver Regan Smith currently owns the top spot in the standings, followed by three-time IndyCar champion Sam Hornish Jr., last year’s championship runner-up Elliott Sadler, Justin Allgaier and Brian Vickers.

Reigning NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion James Buescher returned to the series in 2013 to defend his crown, and currently ranks sixth after four races. Johnny Sauter leads the points, followed by Matt Crafton and a trio of young rising stars Jeb Burton, Ryan Blaney and Ty Dillon.

NASCAR previously announced the date for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Awards – Dec. 6 at Wynn Las Vegas.

The next NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race will be the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Saturday, May 18 at 7:30 p.m. on SPEED, Motor Racing Network Radio and SiriusXM Satellite Radio.

NASCAR PR

odd Bodine's won more than half of his 22 career NASCAR Camping World Truck Series' victories on 1.5-mile tracks, but never at Charlotte Motor Speedway, one of NASCAR's showplace venues and site of Friday evening's North Carolina Education Lottery 200.

 

Ironically, Bodine has owned Charlotte's sister track, Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, where he's won six times. So after a four-week break for the Truck Series and with Mattei Air Compressors' signage gracing his No. 13 ThorSport Racing Toyota for the second time this season, Bodine figures there's no time like the present to add to his 12 career victories on 1.5-mile tracks.

 

"It feels good to be going back to the track because you know I'm always ready to race," Bodine said, chuckling. "But that's especially true at Charlotte because it's a track I've always enjoyed and run well at and obviously we have the comforts of home -- sleeping in my own bed -- and you can't discount what that means."

 

Bodine's won at Charlotte, and with the Truck Series racing this weekend in conjunction with the Sprint All-Star Race, it's fitting those victories came in the Winston Open -- formerly the All-Star Race's qualifying event.

 

"But I've never won a points race, in any division at Charlotte and I think that it's finally time we brought that situation to an end," Bodine said. "Sometimes I've just had bad luck. I had a shot to win a Truck race, spun (Ron) Hornaday out and got put to the back...

 

"Just some dumb things like that, and I've never gotten the whole thing done. But now, with this ThorSport team with Mattei behind us again -- and as good as we've run this season -- I think it's time to get it done."

 

Bodine, who was one of three ThorSport drivers in the top seven of the standings until he hit a rough patch in consecutive races at Rockingham and Kansas, would like nothing better than to get back up in the points neighborhood with his teammates, who are currently one-two in the championship.

 

Matt Crafton's No. 88 Fisher Nuts / Menards Toyota is leading the points by 13 over a two-man tie for second between ThorSport teammate Johnny Sauter, who drives the No. 98 Carolina Nut Co. / Curb Records Toyota and rookie Jeb Burton. Bodine is currently 16th in the standings, but only 19 points outside the top 10.

 

Bodine does have four top-five finishes in nine Truck Series starts at Charlotte, including a second-place run in 2010 and a third-place last May, so there's some cause for optimism bolstered by the reappearance of Mattei as the team's sponsor. Bodine gave Mattei's guests a show at Daytona as he pushed Sauter to the lead, from which Sauter won the race.

 

"Their compressors are state-of-the-art and Mattei knows how to make this program in NASCAR work to achieve their goals," Bodine said. "I've had a lot of fun working with them and we're looking forward to this weekend."

 

NASCAR has scheduled a 4.5-hour open-practice session Thursday split from 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. ET and 2-4:30 p.m. That roughly equates to Friday's only official practice, from 10:30-11:50 a.m.; and also relates to Friday's 4 p.m. qualifying session. But with ThorSport crew chief Jeriod Prince and Bodine having had only four race weekends together, every lap is precious even if the Thursday test's timing doesn't really match the race schedule.

 

"For Jeriod and myself it's definitely a good thing, because we're still getting used to each other a little bit," Bodine said of the additional practice. "Jeriod's still trying to figure out what I like and how I like the truck to be set up. We just need to learn how to fine-tune the set-up and get what I like onto the truck.

 

"It's not like we have a notebook from the last three years of going to these racetracks together and figuring all this stuff out. We're starting from zero and we're having to work all this out, so that extra practice is definitely a good thing for us, to move that process along."

 

The season's fifth race, 134 laps and 201 miles, is scheduled for an 8 p.m. start Friday, with live television on SPEED Channel beginning with "The Set-Up" pre-race show at 7:30. MRN Radio has live radio coverage, also beginning at 7:30.

 

Thorsport PR

Watkins Glen International” by Michael Argetsinger and Bill Green will be a topic of conversation on Saturday, May 18 at the International Motor Racing Research Center at 610 S. Decatur Street, Watkins Glen. Track President Michael Printup will be on hand to introduce the duo responsible for the Arcadia Publishing book that begins with the race through the streets on Oct. 2, 1948 and continues through present day at The Glen.

The 127-page pictorial format book, includes more than 200 photos capturing this history of Watkins Glen International and is the second in Arcadia’s series of books featuring tracks that host NASCAR. “Watkins Glen International” will be on sale at IMRRC and both authors will be on hand to sign copies.

Beginning at 1 p.m., the presentation is part of the ongoing Center Conversations speaker series and is free of charge. This presentation also features Philippe Defechereux and Clark Lance, discussing “Watkins Glen, The Street Years 1948-1952, Glory, Drama and the Birth of American Road Racing.”

If Watkins Glen International fans are unable to make it to Saturday’s program, “Watkins Glen International” is available for purchase in The Shop at 2 North Franklin Street. Open from Monday through Saturday 10 a.m. – 4 p.m., fans are encouraged to pick up their copy while in town at anytime.

Located in the Finger Lake Region of New York, Watkins Glen International is the premier road racing facility in the United States. Tickets for all 2013 events at The Glen are available now by calling 866.461.RACE. Gift certificates, licensed merchandise, Thunder Road Tours and tickets are available for purchase at The Shop, located in downtown Watkins Glen at 2 North Franklin Street and online at www.TheGlen.com. The Shop is open Monday-Saturday 10 a.m.-4 p.m.

WGI PR

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