Wednesday, Oct 04
Speedway Digest Staff

Speedway Digest Staff

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The final five contestants have been selected! Now it’s time to vote on who will become Darlington Raceway’s next Lady in Black!

Starting today, Nov. 11, fans can visit and cast their vote for the next Lady in Black. Voting will conclude on Wednesday, Dec. 11, with the winner being announced in mid-January (exact date TBD).

The position is an integral part of Darlington Raceway’s efforts to focus on the fans and represent the track in the local community, which has supported it since 1950.

“We have narrowed the field to five quality candidates for our Lady in Black position. We feel that any of these five finalists could represent Darlington Raceway as the Lady in Black in 2014,” track President Chip Wile said.

The final five selected were Kaitlyn Bailey of Darlington, S.C., Cydney Gandy of Darlington, Kaitlynn Jessup of Hampton, Va., Nicole Kinder of Hemingway, S.C. and Hayley Taylor of Darlington. More information on each candidate can be found on the voting page.

The five finalists were selected from over 50 candidates that submitted an online application for the contest. The finalist were introduced last Friday at the track’s inaugural Speed & Feed BBQ Cook-Off and Car Show presented by Piggly Wiggly event, which drew thousands of fans to the track Too Tough to Tame.

Darlington Raceway PR

Next week, Charlotte Motor Speedway will welcome holiday revelers of all ages for the Eggnog Jog 5K and opening night of Speedway Christmas, a spectacular wonderland featuring a drive-through holiday light park, Christmas Village and so much more, all at the legendary 1.5-mile superspeedway.

Speedway Christmas is returning to Charlotte Motor Speedway bigger, brighter and better in its fourth year, with a new route of 3.1 miles, more than 3 million LED lights in 800 displays and a drive-the-track experience that always delights visitors.

Visitors can get a sneak peek of the lights during the Eggnog Jog 5K fun run on Friday, Nov. 22. Open nightly from Nov. 23 through Dec. 30, excluding Christmas Day, the Speedway Christmas drive-through light show will also feature a life size Bethlehem-themed village, photos with Santa, marshmallow roasting pits and more. Speedway Christmas will also screen holiday classics like “A Christmas Story,” “Polar Express” and “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” every Friday and Saturday night beginning Nov. 29.

Here are some essential facts about Speedway Christmas, by the numbers:

More than 3 million LED lights will be a part of Speedway Christmas. The highly efficient LED lights use nearly 90 percent less energy and produce a brighter light than incandescent bulbs. During the 38-night schedule, Speedway Christmas displays will use less energy than 37 typical North Carolina households in a given month.

More than 100,000 people are expected to visit Speedway Christmas in 2013.

300,000: feet of animated LED lights will be strung along the speedway’s frontstretch grandstands as part of a crowd-pleasing display set to music.

800: different light displays will line the Speedway Christmas route, including displays depicting a NASCAR Christmas, a Penguin Winterfest and the fan-favorite Patriotic Alley.

80: new light displays that Speedway Christmas fans have never seen before.

10: movie nights, featuring holiday classics like “A Christmas Story,” “Polar Express” and “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” playing on the world’s largest HDTV. Admission to the movie night is included in the price of the light show ticket.

38: nights that Speedway Christmas (including the Eggnog Jog 5K night) will be open to the public, from Nov. 22 through Dec. 30, excluding Christmas Day.

1,900: pounds of marshmallows that are expected to be roasted during nights the Christmas village is open.

2,000: photos expected to be taken with Santa in the Christmas Village.

17: The number of days it will take to set up the lights and displays for Speedway Christmas. Crews are working 12-hour days, around current track activities, to complete the set-up in time for the Nov. 22 Eggnog Jog 5K. Set-up started on Nov. 5 and is scheduled to be complete by Nov. 21.

384: volunteers that will be on hand to help with all aspects of Speedway Christmas.

This year’s newly designed Speedway Christmas light show course measures 3.1 miles in length, winding through the infield of the legendary superspeedway. Speedway Christmas goers will have the unique opportunity to drive their vehicle around the track at Charlotte Motor Speedway for nearly one mile after entering the infield at Gate 26.

Fans can get a sneak peek of the light show and enjoy a concert by Charlotte, N.C.-based Charity Case during the Eggnog Jog 5K on Friday, Nov. 22. New for 2013, the fun run is a unique way for fans to see the lights and kick off the Christmas season. Participants are encouraged to dress in their most festive attire and bring friends. For registration details and more information, visit

Operating hours for the drive-through Speedway Christmas will be 6 to 10 p.m., Nov. 23 through Dec. 30, excluding Christmas Day. Tickets are available online or at the gate nightly during event hours for drive-up traffic. Admission is just $15 per car on nights the Christmas Village is closed and $20 per car on nights the village is open. Group packages are available.


On Dec. 12, 2013, fifteen lucky donors will get to strap in next to 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champion Brad Keselowski in his Race 2 Recovery Ford Fusion as he takes them for qualifying-speed laps around Charlotte Motor Speedway. Even better, it's all to benefit veterans through Keselowski's Checkered Flag Foundation, which supports severely wounded heroes and their families.


"With my Checkered Flag Foundation, we look to provide once-in-a-lifetime experiences for men and women who have served our country honorably and sacrificed greatly for the rest of us. We do that, primarily, through our Race 2 Recovery program," Keselowski said. "We are going to replicate that ride-along program for 15 couples with this Ride 2 Remember event to allow them to not only have a great experience, but also have the opportunity to directly support the Race 2 Recovery program in 2014."


Individual or corporate donors have the opportunity to join Keselowski, Penske Racing driver Ryan Blaney and the rest of the Brad Keselowski Racing team with a first-come, first-served donation of $5,000 per couple or $2,500 per individual.


This exclusive, premium package includes:

·       A full-dress, full-speed ride-along with Brad Keselowski in the 2013 R2R Ford Fusion for   one guest

·         A full-dress, full-speed ride-along with NASCAR driver Ryan Blaney in the 2013 R2R Ford Mustang for the second guest

·         Behind-the-scenes tour of the cars and hauler with Brad Keselowski Racing team personnel

·         Meet-and-greet and autograph session with Keselowski and Blaney

·         Catered dinner

·         Silent auction with unique Keselowski and Penske Racing memorabilia

·         Small-group setting to offer guests one-on-one interaction with the drivers and team

·         Premium gift bag filled with Keselowski and CFF memorabilia

·         Custom professional still & video imagery provided for each guest, including in-car ride-along video.



Ryan Blaney (@RyanBlaney22), driver of the No. 29 Cooper Standard Ford F-150, will make his second career start at Homestead-Miami Speedway in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) during the Ford Eco Boost 200 on Friday night.

Last season, in Blaney's first start at Homestead, he started 16th and finished 28th after getting caught up in a late race crash after having a very quick Cooper Standard BKR Truck.

Doug Randolph will be calling the shots for Blaney at Homestead.

The No. 29 BKR team currently sits sixth in the NCWTS driver points standings, 98 points back from first.

Currently, Blaney is second in the Sunoco Rookie of the Year race with 216 points entering the final race of the NCWTS season.

"I'm looking forward to getting back down to Homestead and finishing the 2013 season strong. Our Cooper Standard team has very high expectations to close out the year. I am so happy to have the opportunity to race for Brad Keselowski. It's a great organization and proud of what this team has done all year long." - Ryan Blaney


Ross Chastain (@RossChastain), driver of the No. 19 Melon 1 Ford F-150, will make his 14th start for Brad Keselowski Racing (BKR) and his second start Homestead-Miami Speedway during Friday night's Ford Eco Boost 200.

Chastain will be making his third start at the South Florida track after having a very solid finish there one year ago, where he started 18th and finished 10th.

Chastain will have quite the Melon 1 support at the track this weekend, as he grew up in nearby Alva, Florida.

So far in 2013, Chastain has an average finish of 12th at mile and a half tracks.

Crew chief, Chad Kendrick, will call the shots for Chastain.

The No. 19 BKR team now sits fifth in the NCWTS owner points standings, 53 points back from first.

"This is a huge race for me since I'm from South Florida and I will have quite a bit of family members on hand. I can't wait to get out there with one goal of putting the Melon 1 Ford in victory lane. I am so grateful of the opportunity Brad Keselowski has given me this season to drive his Truck." - Ross Chastain


When the green flag waves at Homestead-Miami (Fla.) Speedway for the 150-lap Truck Series finale on Friday night, it will have been 21 races and 267 days since Joey Coulter, driver of the No. 18 Toyota Tundra made his debut for Kyle Busch Motorsports at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway. Although it has been a year of many challenges, Coulter would like to cap off his junior year with a strong run in the final race on the 2013 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) schedule at his home-track.

The 2013 Truck Series season was one for the history books before the checkered flag was ever thrown in Florida nine months ago. The series visited 15 states and traveled north of the border to Bowmanville, Ontario, Canada for the first time in series history to take on their 2.459-mile road course at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park. The NCWTS also made history in July when the first NASCAR national series race was held on dirt for the first time in more than 40 years at Tony Stewarts Rossburg, Ohio track, Eldora Speedway. Coulter, who has a background racing dirt late models, was the highest-finishing Truck Series regular in the Mudsummer Classic, finishing fourth. After 21 races, Coulter ranks 14th in the 2013 NCWTS driver point standings with three top-five and five top-10 finishes.


A highlight to Coulter's season would be his second-place finish at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City back in April. The 23-year-old driver led 15 laps and finished in the runner-up position in a head-to-head battle with now series point leader Matt Crafton. The Florida native is hoping to add another highlight to his season by winning Friday night's Truck Series finale in front of his friends and family at "Home"stead. In two starts at the South Florida track, the driver has never finished outside the top-five.



It was difficult for Max Gresham and everyone else on the Sharp-Gallaher Racing team to leave the Phoenix International Raceway Friday night without a look back over their entire body of work in the 2013 season.


A 15th-place finish in the Lucas Oil 150 fell short of what the team wanted, but it also said a lot of what they accomplished in the No. 8 Scottsdale Insurance Company Chevrolet throughout the two-day event.


"It's amazing how far we've come from unloading the No. 8 Chevrolet until now," crew chief Chris Showalter said.


While Gresham completed his seventh lead-lap finish in a row, he wasn't happy about being part of an early-race accident that included another Georgia native. Although both recovered to post lead-lap finishes, Gresham believed the bump he instigated may have cost him a top-five finish.


"We had a top-five truck tonight," the 20-year-old driver from Milner, Ga., said. "I hate that I caused that caution and put us a lap down. I really believe we could have run with the top five."


Throughout the 150-lap event Gresham's lap times were faster than the leaders as he worked his way through the traffic. The proverbial third time was the charm as Gresham battled for the Lucky Dog, and he received it on Lap 87 after his third attempt of the night.  


Gresham qualified the Scottsdale Insurance Company Chevrolet in fifth, marking his best career starting position on a track of one-mile or shorter.


"We made incredible improvements between practice and qualifying, and those improvements carried over into the race," Gresham said. "It's a shame we got a lap down early in the race, but we battled back and posted another lead-lap finish.


"I can't say enough about the way Chris [Showalter] and everyone else on this Sharp-Gallaher Racing team set this Scottsdale Insurance Company truck up. We have everything in place to win a race. It's just a matter of putting all the pieces together."


The team's final chance of the 2013 season will come Friday, Nov. 15, with the Ford EcoBoost 200 at the Homestead-Miami Speedway.


Max Gresham PR

Jeff Gordon wants to soak in Miami through off-season.

The 36-race 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season comes to an end this weekend with the Ford Ecoboost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway, and it's three months before the 2014 season begins in Daytona Beach. What could possibly make that time off more enjoyable?

"A win this weekend," said Gordon. "Don't get me wrong - all wins are special. The win we had at Martinsville a few weeks ago was great, but our focus quickly turned to the next race.

"It's really cool to win before an off-weekend because you get to enjoy the victory a little bit longer before your attention turns toward the next race. A win going into the off-season? Even better because you are the most recent race winner for a few months."

In 14 starts at the South Florida track, Gordon has seven top-fives and 11 top top-10's. Last year, Gordon led the final 13 laps en route to his first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series victory at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

"It was great to finally get a Sprint Cup victory here," said Gordon, driver of the No. 24 Axalta Racing Chevrolet SS. "It also was cool to call into the office at Hendrick Motorsports during the offseason and be placed on hold. While on hold, the closing laps of that race is what you heard.

"And I didn't tire of hearing that radio call."

A few weeks ago, Gordon and the Hendrick Motorsports organization tested here in advance of the season finale. The four-time NASCAR Cup Series champion left the test with high hopes.

"I believe we've elevated our intermediate track program," said Gordon. "The test here went well, so I really believe we can have a strong performance and battle for the victory."

A victory he would love hear about often in the months to come.


Phoenix International Raceway was the site of a huge display of muscle by the Germain Racing crew and GEICO driver Casey Mears in the Spring race earlier this season. At that point, the team was looking for vindication from rough luck at Daytona. This weekend, the team could have used a reprieve following the deflating flat tire experience of last week’s race at Texas. Just as earlier in the year, any beacon of light at Phoenix would be one hard-earned, not handed out.

The GEICO Ford Fusion ranked 33rd in first practice and landed 30th in the starting lineup for Sunday’s 312-lap race. In the final practice sessions, Mears was again 30th and 32nd.  The lap times throughout the sessions were within a half-second. From his qualifying position of 30th, Mears moved up to 26th in the opening laps of the race and settled into 27th by lap 15.

“I can’t really put the power down coming off the corners,” said Mears as he fought to find a line that might work better for the GEICO Ford, 15 laps into what would be a long race, slowed by several long caution periods.

“Good job, you are pulling away now,” called crew chief Bootie Barker from the pits at lap 18, while he made plans for adjustments to the GEICO Ford.

The chance to work on the No. 13 car finally came following the lap 49 caution brought out by Denny Hamlin’s spin. The GEICO Racing crew went to work on lap 50 on the 26th place GEICO Ford, installing four tires, fuel and making a couple of adjustments to help Mears fight the loose handling condition of the car. Thanks to the quick work of the Germain Racing pit crew, Mears restarted the race one spot to the good in the 25th position at lap 56.

Loose was the term that echoed up and down pit road on Sunday. Many drivers complained of their cars not having enough grip off the corners. Barker and the crew managed to make some headway fighting this condition for Mears, but, according to Mears, the adjustments might have hurt the handling through the center of the turns. He shared this information with Barker while racing in 22nd position at lap 75.

Over the remaining laps, the crew made changes to the car and fought their way into the top ten during the race’s long, 82-lap green flag run. As the final green flag pit stops were completed, Mears was shown in 24th position, one lap down, on lap 273. He pulled to 22nd before the final caution flag of the race flew at lap 283, and restarted in this position, in line to be the Lucky Dog if another quick caution flew. For this reason, the team stayed out, and didn’t take fresh tires, hoping for another quick caution to allow them to get fresh tires while back on the lead lap.  The yellow didn’t wave again and the cars that pitted under the final caution, showed fresh rubber was much faster at Phoenix.

The GEICO Ford was credited with a 27th place finish after a day of consistent lap times, strong pit work from the Germain Racing pit crew and a worthwhile gamble. Next up for Mears and the GEICO team is the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway!


Actress and Hollywood Records recording artist Zendaya will present the National Anthem prior to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship race, the Ford EcoBoost 400, at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Sunday, November 17. Homestead-Miami Speedway President Matthew Becherer made the announcement.

Zendaya recently released her self-titled debut full-length album featuring her hit single “Replay.”  She also stars as Raquel “Rocky” Blue, one half of the comedic duo of young dancers trying to dance her way to stardom, in the hit Disney Channel series “Shake It Up!” Zendaya was the break out star and runner-up on Season 16 of ABC’s Dancing with the Stars.

“One of the hallmarks of a NASCAR event is the entertainment surrounding the race,” said Becherer.  “Zendaya rounds out an already stellar entertainment lineup and will make the day that much more memorable.  I’m sure she’ll give a stirring rendition of ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’ that our fans will enjoy.”

The Los Angeles resident has performed around the world, including at the White House and in the 2011 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.  She is currently touring select cities with her Z-Swagg Dancers and Singers. Zendaya is also featured on numerous soundtracks including Shake It Up: Break It Down, Shake It Up: Live 2 Dance and Shake It Up: I <3 Dance.

The green flag for the season-ending race is scheduled for 3:00 p.m. on the 17th.  The race will be broadcast live on ESPN-TV, MRN and the SiriusXM NASCAR Channel.

Homestead-Miami Speedway PR


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