Sunday, May 28
Speedway Digest Staff

Speedway Digest Staff

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Trevor Bayne and the No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Fusion will be in the starting field for the Aaron’s 499 at Talladega Superspeedway, but that prized spot had more to do with good fortune than it did with the speed of the car.

Normally, when Sprint Cup qualifying is rained out the field is set according to the rule book, which means the top 36 teams in the car owner points standings get starting spots, with the remaining 7 spots going to car owners based on owner points and race attempts.

With 44 cars entered and just 43 spots available, one part-time team would miss the show.

Because team owner Glen Wood has more attempts this season, his No. 21 Ford Fusion will race while the No. 81, owned by Joe Gibbs and driven by Elliott Sadler, will miss the race because that car has made just one attempt to qualify this year, but had the No. 19 of Mike Bliss not withdrawn from the race earlier this week, he’d been racing and the Motorcraft/Quick Lane crew would be absent from the starting field.

“We’re really fortunate to be able to race,” team co-owner Eddie Wood said, adding that since the Wood Brothers’ team only runs a limited schedule, every qualifying session brings more drama than one might expect.

Once it was determined which cars made the race, the starting line-up was based on speeds in the first practice session on Friday, and Bayne’s best lap of 198.372 miles per hour earned him the 15th starting spot.

Like nearly every other driver and team in that practice session, Bayne and his Donnie Wingo-led crew knew that qualifying likely would be rained out, so they were going for maximum speed.

“Almost everybody was out there trying to run in the pack or catch the pack to get a fast lap,” Wood said. “Trevor was running with Carl Edwards, who wound up on the pole, and they had a really fast lap going but the No. 42 (Juan Pablo Montoya) pulled down, and Trevor had to check up at the last moment.”

Given the circumstances, Wood wasn’t too disappointed, and as a bonus, spending time drafting that otherwise might have been spent getting ready for a qualifying run should allow Bayne and the crew to be better prepared for actual racing conditions.

“I think we’re in good shape for the race,” he said.

Wood Brothers Racing PR

Aaron's, Inc. (NYSE: AAN), a lease-to-own retailer specializing in the sales and lease ownership of residential furniture, consumer electronics, home appliances and accessories, will sponsor the Aaron's Dream Weekend at Talladega Superspeedway for the 12th year, May 3-5. The weekend's events will include special guests serving as Grand Marshals for the Aaron's 312 on Saturday and the Aaron's 499 on Sunday, a tribute to University of Alabama's BCS championship with a custom paint scheme on the No. 55 Aaron's Dream Machine, and a partnership with the Community Food Bank of Central Alabama to collect cans to address hunger in Alabama.

Former Atlanta Braves star and Major League Baseball icon, Chipper Jones, will deliver the most famous words in NASCAR – "Drivers Start Your Engines" – for Sunday's Sprint Cup Series race. In tribute to the nation's military, Saturday's honor has been given to four members of the Wounded Warrior Project – David Boggs, Marine Corps Lance Corporal; Brad Ingram, Army Sgt.; Chris Crawford, Army Sgt. and Andrew Coughlan, Army Specialist.

Other VIP guests include honorary starter and winner of the Aaron's Weekend of Your Dreams sweepstakes, Jim Bauerle from Carmel, Indiana; 2012 NCAA Championship University of Alabama quarterback, A.J. McCarron; renowned motorsports artist and trophy designer Sam Bass; President of the Armed Forces Foundation, Patricia Driscoll; National Anthem performer, Robin Meade; Ron Allen, Aaron's Chairman, President and CEO; and Andrea Freeman, Aaron's VP of Marketing.

The weekend's events will also feature a tribute to current BCS Champion, the University of Alabama. Aaron's No. 55 Toyota Camry, driven by two-time Daytona 500 champion Michael Waltrip, will hit the track for Sunday's Sprint Cup Series race and will feature a custom University of Alabama paint scheme.

New this year at Aaron's Dream Weekend, the more than 200,000 NASCAR fans that attend will have an opportunity to help the hungry in Alabama by bringing cans to the Aaron's Corporate Display at the speedway. Throughout the weekend, Aaron's associates, representatives from the Community Food Bank of Central Alabama and can drive volunteers will be collecting non-perishable food items such as canned meat, dry cereal, canned fruits and vegetables, paper towels, toilet paper and hygiene products.

"Aaron's is proud to recognize so many outstanding organizations at this year's races, including the Wounded Warrior Project and the Community Food Bank of Central Alabama," Freeman said. "Over one weekend, we have the opportunity to bring the excitement of NASCAR racing to millions of race fans while giving back to local communities and our nation's military in the process."

Aarons PR

After two days of testing the No. 78 Furniture Row Racing Chevrolet NASCAR Sprint Cup car this week at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Kurt Busch left the track knowing he was going to get more seat time at the famed oval before the Crown Royal presents the "Your Hero's Name Here" 400 at the Brickyard in July. But this time, the additional seat time will be behind the wheel an IZOD IndyCar Series car.

2004 Sprint Cup Series champion Busch will test a Chevrolet-powered Andretti Autosport Indy car Thursday morning, May 9, just two days before IMS officially opens for practice for the 97th running of the Indianapolis 500. Andretti Autosport team owner and IMS legend Michael Andretti will be on hand to provide driver coaching and assist in getting Busch up to speed quickly.

"I have always enjoyed racing at Indianapolis, and when IMS and Michael presented me with the opportunity to test an Indy car prior to opening day of practice of the Indianapolis 500, I jumped at it," Busch said. "The Indianapolis 500 is an iconic event and having an opportunity to go through the testing process with Michael and Andretti Autosport, the defending series champions and two-time winners of the race, is pretty cool."

Said Andretti: "I had the chance to get to know Kurt last year when we were working on another racing project. I respect his talent and am happy to give him the opportunity to experience the raw speed of an Indy car. It's a unique feel and perspective - it will be totally different than what he is used to driving each week on the Cup circuit."

Busch left open the door to compete in "The Double" - racing in the Indianapolis 500 and Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on the same day - in the future.

"I am looking forward to this test and experiencing IMS at the speeds the Indy cars run," Busch said. "Let's see how the test goes, and then I can look at the opportunities that could be beyond this coming Thursday. Running the Indianapolis 500 would certainly be a highlight, and doing another 600 miles in a Cup car on the same day would make for a special weekend."

Only three drivers have attempted the Memorial Day weekend "Double" - John Andretti, Tony Stewart and Robby Gordon.


Old National Bank has been named the title partner of the annual Armed Forces Bump Day on Sunday, May 19 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway during the 97th Indianapolis 500, Old National and IMS officials announced May 3.

Old National Armed Forces Bump Day is the final day of qualifying for "The Greatest Spectacle in Racing." All active members of the military in uniform or who show military identification at the gate will be admitted free.

Gates open at 7:30 a.m., with practice from 9-10 a.m. and qualifying from noon-6 p.m.

The partnership between the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Old National brings together two longstanding Indiana-based companies.

"We look forward to joining with Old National in saluting the dedication and sacrifice of our nation's armed forces and hope the military members enjoy a fun day at the track," said Jeff Belskus, Indianapolis Motor Speedway president and chief executive officer. "We are grateful to Old National for this partnership and for their support of this special day."

Headquartered in Evansville, Ind., Old National Bancorp is the largest financial services bank holding company headquartered in Indiana, boasting a 178-year history. Old National is a top-100 insurance broker and the 10th largest bank-affiliated insurance brokerage in the U.S.

"As Indiana's largest community bank, Old National is honored to partner with the icon of Indiana sports to salute our veterans and all the brave men and women who are actively serving in the United States military," said Bob Jones, Old National Bank president and chief executive officer. "We hope many of them and their families will join us at the Speedway for this special day of fun and festivities."

Fans can get a free, souvenir-sized American flag at Old National kiosks located around the IMS Pagoda Plaza, while supplies last, to salute America's military heroes. Old National also will offer discounts on admission tickets for Old National Armed Forces Bump Day to customers at its Indianapolis-area bank locations through Friday, May 17.

An extraordinary collection of military vehicles and equipment will be on display around the IMS Pagoda Plaza during Old National Armed Forces Bump Day. The exhibit will include an MRAP (Mine Resistant Ambush Protected) vehicle, an M117 Armed Security Vehicle, an MTVR troop carrier and large cargo truck, an M1117 Armed Security Vehicle, an M1200 Armored Knight, an M966 TOW Weapon Carrier High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle (or Humvee) and an M113 Humvee.

Special activities during Old National Armed Forces Bump Day will include an Armed Forces Enlistment Ceremony for new members entering all branches of the U.S. military at 11:10 a.m. at the base of the Pagoda on the Yard of Bricks.

Wish For Our Heroes, a national, non-profit organization based in Noblesville, Ind., that provides tickets to active United States military or veterans for Indianapolis Motor Speedway events, will offer fans the opportunity to participate in the Hero Zone during Old National Armed Forces Bump Day. Hero Zone military training exercises include a tire jump, a culvert crawl, a simulated grenade throw, a low crawl and the opportunity for fans to experience physical training in military gear.

Admission for non-military members on Old National Armed Forces Day at IMS is $15, with children 12 and under free.


Sean Corr and Empire Racing will start today’s International Motorsports Hall of Fame 250 from 13th, and on the #82 Warriors In The Workplace Ford Fusion, they carry a message for Team Manager, John Bellesfield. “We are all wishing JB a speedy recovery and are looking forward to having him back at the track with us” said team owner, John Corr.

“JB is such a huge part of our team, we are really missing him here at Talladega. We just wanted to do something that would let him know he was in our thoughts here at the track” explained Corr, pointing out the message “Get well soon J.B.!” that is now on the rear bumper of the #82 Ford Fusion.

Bellesfield underwent emergency back surgery two weeks ago and is currently undergoing rehabilitation. While down, but not out, Bellesfield has been keeping in touch with the team through phone calls, emails and texts leading up to the race. The Empire hauler has been frequented by members of the ARCA Racing Series sending well wishes to John.

Talladega marks Empire Racing’s first race with Jamie Jones as crew chief and a return to the track with the Daytona superspeedway car that Sean Corr earned an ARCA career high 5th place finish in this February. “Really looking forward to today’s race. At these superspeedways races it is important to keep your nose clean, so that’s what we are going to try to do today. We worked really well with Frank Kimmel during the Daytona race and plan on doing the same today in the draft” said Corr as he prepares for today’s 5pm (ET) race, to be televised live on SPEED.

Empire Racing PR

During a ceremony at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, N.C. on Thursday night, Richard Childress Racing received the Family Business of the Year Award, Large Business Category, from the school's Family Business Center.


The award was based off the economic impact and contributions RCR has made in their community through the years. RCR was recognized for the race team's efforts, plus the Childress Winery, Sapona Ridge Country Club and Childress Institute of Pediatric Trauma.


"It is an honor and privilege to accept this award on behalf of our entire Childress and Dillon family," said Judy Childress, wife of RCR's president and CEO Richard Childress. "Wake Forest University stands for leadership and progress for our future. Only in America can those dreams come true.


"Wake Forest is building our leaders for tomorrow, and generations to come through a four-year plan. We are doing the same thing at RCR, but we try to get it done in 500 laps."


The ceremony was held at the Porter B. Byrum Welcome Center on the WFU campus.


"There is such a great story behind RCR and the Childress family," said Kathy Baker, Director, Family Business Center for WFU. "They have had such a great economic and growth impact on their community through the years.


"When we were going through the nominations, it became clear we needed to recognize RCR for all they've accomplished on and off the race track as a family."


Richard Childress offered his thanks via video as he was in Talladega (Ala.) Speedway getting ready for this weekend's NASCAR events. Representatives from RCR and the Childress Institute for Pediatric Trauma attended the event with Mrs. Childress.



Travis Pastrana earned his first career NASCAR Nationwide Series (NNS) pole for Roush Fenway Racing (RFR) Friday at Talladega Superspeedway, with a lap of 176.5 mph.  This is the first NNS pole for car owner Jack Roush at Talladega.

“Bringing the guys to the line at the green flag at Talladega is awesome, so I’m definitely excited,” Pastrana said.  “This Roush Fenway team has worked so hard.  It’s just awesome to be able to show the work these guys are putting together and I’m definitely really happy to be here.” 

The pole comes in just his 17th NNS start.  Pastrana’s previous best qualifying effort was a fourth-place start at Daytona International Speedway in the season opener.  The No. 60 team brings the same chassis that Pastrana raced to a 10th-place finish in Daytona.

“Winning the pole at a restrictor plate race also means that you’re going to have a lot of people that are willing to work with you come race day, so I’m excited about that,” Pastrana said.

RFR teammate Trevor Bayne also laid down a fast lap, qualifying his No. 6 Ford Mustang in third with a lap of 176.071 mph.

Pastrana and the No. 60 Ford Mustang will lead the field to the green flag Saturday at 3:00 p.m. ET for 117 laps from the 2.66-mile Talladega Superspeedway.



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