Steven B. Wilson
Follow us on Twitter @SpeedwayDigest
Kevin Harvick heads to Kansas Speedway in Kansas City for Sunday’s Hollywood Casino 400 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race having earned a 63-point advantage over the ninth-place driver in the standings heading into the final race of the Round of 12. But, he still must earn at least a 26th-place finish to advance to the Round of 8.
The driver of the No. 4 Busch Light Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) has earned it all season long. The team leads the series with seven wins, 20 top-five finishes, 25 top-10s and 1,606 laps led. It also ranks second with a 9.3 average finish and is tied for third with an average starting position of 9.2 and three Busch Pole Awards.
The No. 4 Busch Light team also has performed well at Kansas Speedway since the team formed in 2014. It has compiled a series-best two wins, six top-five finishes, seven top-10s, an average finish of 5.2, three Busch Pole Awards, and it ranks second with 454 laps led in nine starts at the 1.5-mile Kansas oval.
Harvick has four Busch Pole Awards, three wins, eight top-five finishes and 14 top-10s with an average finish of 9.6 and 675 laps led in his 25 career Cup Series starts at Kansas. Two of his wins came from the pole position, including his most recent win in May 2018, when he won the Busch Pole with a lap of 28.600 seconds at 188.811 mph, led 79 laps and finished .390 of a second ahead of runner-up Martin Truex Jr.
The 2014 NASCAR Cup Series champion has won at Kansas Speedway twice during the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs in the month of October. His first October win came in 2013, when he won the Busch Pole, led 138 laps and finished 1.140 seconds ahead of current SHR teammate Kurt Busch. His most recent playoff win at Kansas came in a must-win situation in 2016, when he started 11th, led 74 laps and finished 1.183 seconds ahead of Carl Edwards.
Since the start of 2018, Harvick and the No. 4 team have compiled an impressive resume on 1.5-mile tracks. They lead the series in laps led with 614, are tied for the series lead with three wins, rank second with six top-five finishes, and have six top-10 finishes. However, in their two finishes outside the top-10 during that span, they finished 40th at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway in the Coca-Cola 600 and 39th at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in the South Point Casino 400 – both the result of cut tires that ended their day early.
The No. 4 team enters Kansas ranked first in points with 3,128 – 63 ahead of the ninth-place driver and 45 points ahead of the eighth-place driver. If anyone but Brad Keselowski, Ryan Blaney, Kyle Larson or Alex Bowman wins, the No. 4 team is automatically locked in.
For Harvick and the No. 4 team, the focus this weekend is on starting up front, leading laps, winning stages and winning the race – but the big-picture goal remains advancing to the next round of the Cup Series playoffs and winning a second championship. The quickest way to reach that goal is to win this weekend at Kansas.
The Pro All Stars Series (PASS) Commonwealth Classic originally scheduled for October 19-20 at Richmond Raceway (Richmond) has been postponed.
“While we are disappointed with the postponement of the event, we feel we have made the best decision for the series, teams, and our fans after looking at the unfavorable weather forecast and the distance many teams were scheduled to travel from the northeast, south, and Canada,” said PASS President Tom Mayberry. “We look forward to continuing to work with the staff at Richmond Raceway to continue to promote this event on a new date in 2019.”
Officials are currently looking at a new date of March 30, 2019 for the PASS Commonwealth Classic. This date with provide much more flexibility with scheduling if weather should once again become a factor. This date will be confirmed within the next few weeks.
PASS Racing Series PR
It’s going to be an incredibly busy week for 18-year-old Cole Glasson, who is scheduled to make his ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards debut this Friday at Kansas Speedway.
After welcoming Frederic Gabillon at the Grand Prix de Trois-Rivières in August, Canadian driver/owner and Spectra Premium ambassador Jean Francois Dumoulin is about to cross the Atlantic and make his Euro NASCAR debut this weekend at the historic Circuit Zolder, in Belgium.
Dumoulin will drive the #04 Spectra Premium Toyota Camry fielded by RDV Competition to complete the first ever driver exchange between International NASCAR series that Euro NASCAR created with Dumoulin Competition and Spectra Premium to provide yet another opportunity for NWES drivers and promote Spectra Premium’s hi-performance radiators on the European market.
“Doing my first race in NASCAR Whelen Euro is very exciting! My expectations are to perform really well, learn the track and do well with the car,” said Dumoulin, who will make his debut in the Euro NASCAR Finals, the event that will crown the European NASCAR Champion on October 20-21. “Obviously I don’t want to interfere too much with the championship battle, but for sure I want to compete and also have fun. The level really high as in our NASCAR Pinty’s Series. The main goal is to perform and do a great appearance with Spectra Premium.”
At RDV Competition, Dumoulin will drive both the ELITE 1 and ELITE 2 Division and complete a stellar lineup for the French team together with Frederic Gabillon and NASCAR legend Bobby Labonte.
“I was very happy to have Fred with us during the Grand Prix de Trois-Rivières and meet Franck, Team Owner of RDV Competition. To be part of that team, with Fred Gabillon and Bobby Labonte, is an honor for me. Franck has been a really good help to put a good program for me and he knows that I will do everything I can to perform well on track,” said Dumoulin.
Zolder will not be the first race outside North America for Dumoulin, who can count on a vast experience in Touring Cars and Endurance Racing alongside NASCAR. The 42-year old Trois-Rivières native won the 24 Hours of Daytona in 2004 and 2007 in two different categories and is among the veterans of the Canadian NASCAR Series having competed in it since its inception in 2007.
“I have raced in Monza before, also in England with a scholarship and practiced in Spain. I have been a little bit all over the place, but never been to Belgium, neither to France where I am looking forward to visiting the RDV shop and NASCAR Whelen Euro Series office,” said Jean-François. “Zolder is something very special to me as Gilles Villeneuve is one of my idols, as for many Quebecers and racing fans.”
Dumoulin is coming to Zolder after his brother Louis Philippe won the first Canadian NASCAR title for Dumoulin Competition, the team they co-own since two years. L.P.’s title was the second of his NASCAR career.
“We had a great season, I had really good road course races, few issues with the oval races which we are working hard on for next year,” said Jean François, who finished the season with 3 top-5s and 5 top-10s in 10 starts. “My brother L.P. won the championship. He obviously did an amazing job as a driver and with myself as Team Owners. It is a team effort with everybody involved around us. We are pretty excited with this first championship of Dumoulin Competition!”
The European campaign for Jean François Dumoulin will start with a visit to the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series headquarters at Blois and RDV Competition’s shop at Chartres in France at the beginning of the week. The team will the move to Belgium, where Dumoulin will take part in the traditional parade in downtown Zolder on Thursday. The Trois-Rivières native will get down to business on Friday with practice, followed by four exciting 16-lap races during the weekend.
“I think that with the amount of track time that the European Series have compared to ours, I should be able to get up to the speed quickly and learn the car and feel the difference with what I’m used to. Obviously, we will see all of that pretty soon!” concluded Dumoulin.
The NASCAR Whelen Euro Series weekend from Circuit Zolder will be streamed live on Fanschoice.tv, the Euro NASCAR Facebook page, Youtube channel and Twitter profile, on Motorsport.tv and on a vast network of websites and social media profiles.
NASCAR Euro Series PR
During his XFINITY Series off weekend Gase would team up with StarCom Racing in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series piloting the #00 Chevy Camaro. Last weekend was Gase's 6th Cup Series start of the 2018 season and 4th with StarCom Racing.
They kicked off the playoff weekend with one practice session Saturday afternoon. On his second run out in the PFK Foundation #00 Gase was coming through the tri-oval on the front stretch and heard a loud pop. The car started to wander back and forth as he made his way through turns one and two. Luckily Joey was able to hold on and slow the car down quick enough. It was later determined that the left rear tire had about a one inch cut right in the middle which caused the tire to go down. Crew Chief Rick Bourgeois relayed the information to Gase as he sat in the car while they were assessing the left rear. He applauded him saying "Good catch there Joey. That could've been really bad. That pop you heard was definitely the tire." They would throw a fresh set of Goodyear's on and work on the cars handling while drafting. Once practice was all said and done he would end with the 28th fastest lap.
Later in the evening they were all set for single car qualify for Sunday's 1000Bulbs.com 500. Gase would be the 14th car out on the track to make his lap. After all 41 cars had taken a lap; he ended up putting together the 37th fastest lap.
Sunday had finally come and the team was ready to build on their 27th place finish from the spring race. The green flag would wave and just 10 laps into the race they would see their first caution. Under the caution, Gase would report that his PFK Foundation #00 was free all the way around. With the information provided CC Bourgeois told the crew to drop the track bar one round. He would bring it to pit road for fuel only to get him to the end of the 55 lap stage.
After the field would get the green flag once again they would finish out the remainder of the stage. Gase picked up 6 spots and would end the first stage in 31st. Between stages he would tell CC Bourgeois that he still needed to be tightened up a bit. Therefore when he brought it to pit road and he would adjust the tire pressures on his fresh set and add some wedge to help tightened him up.
Shortly after the second stage would get under way, the races second caution would come out for the #48 of Jimmie Johnson. He would bring it back down to pit road for tires and fuel only. They would stay green for another 40 laps before the next caution would come out. Under the third caution of the day, Gase said that the car was pretty decent that run. So he would only take four tires and fuel to get him to the end of the stage. He would ultimately end the second stage in 22nd.
Since they had taken fresh tires their last stop before the end of the stage; they decided to only take fuel between the stage. In doing so, he picked up nine spots and would restart the final stage in 13th.
The final stage would begin on lap 115 making it a 73 lap dash to the checkered. They would stay under the green for about 21 laps before another caution was drawn for the #1 of Jamie McMurray spinning into the grass on the front stretch. CC Bourgeois would make the call to come down pit road under caution for tires and fuel to set up a "gas-n-go" later on in the race.
They would get the green on lap 141. A couple laps later Gase had climbed his way back into the top 15 sitting in 14th with 40 laps remaining. On lap 159 another caution would come out but this time it was for an uncontrolled tire on pit road that had rolled all the way out to the infield grass. This would set up Gase for his "gas-n-go" stop on pit road.
With about 20 laps remaining Gase had put his PFK Foundation Chevy in the 12th position. He would struggle to find drafting partners and would drop back to 21st. With only two laps remaining a big wreck would collect a couple of cars right in front of Gase, but he and his spotter did a great job avoiding any damage. This wreck would extend the race into overtime making it a green-white-checkered finish to determine the winner of the 1000Bulbs.com 500.
The last two laps were just as crazy as expected. The field was three and four-wide for a majority of the two lap shootout. On the very last lap another wreck would collect more cars right in front of Gase once again. He sustained a little nose damage but he fought through and ended up bringing it around to the checkered in 18th.
After the race Gase said over the radio, "Great job today guys! It feels so good to finally finish one of these damn things." Gase has showed lots of speed on all of the speedway races this year in both his XFINITY and Cup Series rides; but just hasn't had luck on his side. This weekend he had a sigh of relief as he finally had luck fall his way.
Sunday's result would be Gase's career best finish in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series and would match StarCom's best team finish. Gase returns to his full time XFINITY ride next weekend as his Go Green Racing team heads to Kansas Speedway.
Joey Gase PR
Nobody in NASCAR is counting on the power of home cooking more than No. 14 DEKALB Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) driver Clint Bowyer this weekend when the NASCAR Monster Energy Cup Series races Sunday at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City.
Bowyer is a native of Emporia Kansas, a town of 25,000 people about 110 miles from Kansas Speedway. He rightly calls the 1.5-mile oval his home track.
“Obviously, you want to win the Daytona 500, a championship, things like that, but winning at your home track is right up there,” said Bowyer, who owns two top-five finishes and six top-10s in 20 starts at Kansas.
“It’s always fun to go home. It’s always busy to go home. Going back to Kansas Speedway, you have so many people who have made a difference and got you to where you are, you owe it to them, just like you did when they were helping you on that racecar, to go see them. To see how they’re doing, see their kids now. Things have changed a lot since I’ve moved away and moved to North Carolina and got into this Cup racing. But, to be able to go back and see family, friends, peers, people I used to race with, businesses that used to sponsor you, it’s important to me to go back and see all of those.”
Bowyer will debut a new primary sponsor at SHR when he drives the No. 14 DEKALB Ford Fusion onto the Kansas track. DEKALB announced its partnership with Bowyer and SHR in August at the annual Farm Progress Show in Boone, Iowa inside its “Fuel Your Yield” tent. DEKALB will serve as primary sponsor for Bowyer and the No. 14 team this weekend with the brand serving as an associate partner at all other races. DEKALB has been helping farmers ensure a future of performance with industry-leading corn seed products for more than 100 years. And while driving a purpose-built racecar that puts out more than 850 horsepower is his day job, Bowyer is also a farmer in North Carolina.
“I grew up in farm country and saw firsthand the hard work that goes into growing crops and taking care of livestock,” said Bowyer, who literally began his racing career on Kansas dirt by racing motocross and then Late Models at Lakeside and I-70 Speedways in Kansas City. “Farming takes time, energy and incredible attention to detail. DEKALB understands all of that, and they know what farmers need to take care of their crops. It really is an honor to represent DEKALB and spend time with their customers.”
Bowyer’s heart is still in Emporia, where he’s a big part of the community. In March 2013, he bought the Clint Bowyer Autoplex car dealership on U.S. Highway 50, where he once worked as a lot attendant, dent specialist and detailer. Across the street sits the Clint Bowyer Community Building, constructed in 2012 thanks to a $1.5 million donation from his foundation. Inside are 25 computers at the public library. There is a scoreboard at the aquatic center, a video camera at the auditorium, shoes for the Big Brothers-Big Sisters program, backpacks for kids, Christmas trees for needy families. And, in nearby towns, playground equipment and the reconstruction of a tornado-ravaged community center – all of it and more paid for by Bowyer’s foundation, or out of the driver’s own pocket.
Emporia appreciates its native son, having renamed the street on which the family towing business resides as “Hon. Clint Bowyer Boulevard.”
Bowyer needs a good run in Kansas much like he did at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway last weekend when he finished second in the first two stages and the race. The performance put Bowyer 21 points ahead of the ninth and final cutoff position for those drivers advancing out of the Round of 12 that ends at Kansas. SHR teammate Aric Almirola’s victory at Talladega marked the 56th overall win for SHR. It was the organization’s milestone 50th points-paying Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series win and its first victory at Talladega. All four SHR drivers – Bowyer, Almirola, Kevin Harvick and Kurt Busch – have won races in 2018.
“We had a great weekend as a team and company in Talladega,” Bowyer said. “Now, we’d like to do the same in Kansas.”
LaJoie Concludes the 1000.Bulbs.com 500 with a 32nd Place Finish in the Winn-Dixie No. 72 at Talladega Superspeedway16 Oct 2018
Martinsville Speedway’s wildly popular FanFest will return this fall, giving fans an up-close look at some of the sport’s biggest stars, off the track.
Following Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series qualifying for the First Data 500 at 4 p.m., FanFest will pit drivers against each other in games and contests and will rely heavily on fan participation and interaction.
“We want to give fans the best experience possible throughout the weekend and FanFest is one way that we are doing just that,” Martinsville Speedway President Clay Campbell said. “I can’t think of any other sport that gives fans free access to some of its drivers this close to an event.
“From the Truck Series autograph session and Hauler Parade on Friday to FanFest on Saturday we are giving fans opportunities to make their experience at Martinsville Speedway the best in sports without even having to break out their wallet.”
FanFest will begin at 5:00 p.m. on Saturday, October 27 and will run until approximately 7:30. Cup Series drivers will participate in the event throughout the evening with on-stage activities planned with heavy fan involvement and participation.
This year David Ragan and Denny Hamlin will face off in a NASCAR Trivia contest, Clint Bowyer and Jamie McMurray will play Pictionary and Paul Menard will be joined by the Wood Brothers to take part in a roundtable discussion about the longest continuously operating team in motorsports.
FanFest will be free of charge to fans and will take place in the Drivers’ Meeting tent, located just outside Turn Four. There will be special accommodations made for youth in attendance at the event so that they may experience FanFest front and center.
The First Data 500 is the first race in the Round of 8 of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs. If the winning driver is in the Playoffs, he or she would be the first to clinch a spot in the Championship race at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Youth 17-and-under are just $25 for any seat on Sunday and are free on Saturday.
Tickets for the First Data 500 are on sale and may be purchased by calling 877.RACE.TIX or online at www.martinsvillespeedway.com.
Martinsville Speedway PR
For the past five years, we have been fortunate to have had a wonderful partnership with Ryan Reed and Roush Fenway Racing. Together, we have increased awareness among NASCAR fans about the importance of managing diabetes and have inspired people with diabetes to live the lives they want to live. Moving forward, we have decided to shift our focus to other initiatives that support the diabetes community and, therefore, our partnership with Roush Fenway Racing to sponsor Ryan will end at the conclusion of the 2018 NASCAR season.
We are grateful to Ryan for his dedication to the diabetes community, and we admire all he has accomplished. We wish him all the success in the future as we turn from sponsor to fans. We also thank Jack Roush and the team at Roush Fenway Racing for their exceptional partnership. As the Official Diabetes Health Partner of NASCAR, we look forward to continuing our support of fans impacted by diabetes through our educational initiatives that raise awareness of the importance of diabetes management and overall good health.