Speedway Digest Staff
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Martin Truex Jr. will make his 300th career Sprint Cup Series start in Sunday’s Kobalt 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
When informed about the upcoming milestone, the Furniture Row Racing driver said he was both surprised and grateful.
“I had absolutely no idea that my 300th start is coming up,” said Truex. “I’ve been blessed to be with some great race teams and have enjoyed plenty of fond memories.”
Truex, a two-time NASCAR Nationwide Series champion (2004 & 2005), started his first Cup race on Oct. 31, 2004 at Atlanta Motor Speedway. He became a full-time Cup driver in 2006.
“Looking back it seems like a long time ago that I made my first start but it really wasn’t,” stated Truex.” They say when you’re having fun time flies, and in my case that is so true because I have had an incredible amount of fun over the years.”
Truex’s career starts to date include 117 with Dale Earnhardt Inc., 36 with Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing, 144 with Michael Waltrip Racing and two with Furniture Row Racing. His statistical totals include: two wins, 31 top-fives, 90 top-10s, seven poles and 1,889 laps led.
When asked if he sees another 300 starts in his career, Truex didn’t blink as he quickly responded to the question.
“Oh yes, absolutely,” said a confident Truex. “I am only 33 and have a lot more years in me. I feel the best is still yet to come as a driver.”
Truex’s career has been marked by resiliency while growing into a Chase-caliber driver.
“I’ve had some tough breaks throughout my career, a lot of ups and downs,” noted Truex, a two-time Chase participant. “As I have said I’ve been with some great teams but it seemed like every time we were getting to where we wanted to go something bad happened to make it come to an end really quickly. Hopefully Furniture Row Racing will be my new home for a long time and we can get to where we want to go.”
Regarding favorite races or moments in his Cup career, Truex said, “The wins are big in my book and making the Chase for the first time in 2007. I have a lot of favorites.”
Truex, whose most recent Sprint Cup win came last year at the Sonoma, Calif. road course, is looking to make the Las Vegas race a memorable 300th start in his No. 78 Furniture Row/Denver Mattress Chevrolet.
“Las Vegas will be another good test to see where we are at with the new rules package for the 2014 car,” explained Truex. “The first two races have not turned out the way we had expected, but we’ve also had some positive signs. It would be nice to look back and remember how successful the 300th start was.”
In eight career starts at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Truex has had two top-10s with an average finish of 16.2. He has completed all but four laps in his career at Las Vegas for a completion record of 98.8 percent (2153 of 2157).
Ryan Truex and the No. 83 Borla Exhaust Toyota Camry team finished in the 35th position at Phoenix International Raceway on Sunday afternoon. After spending the race fine-tuning the handling of their Toyota Camry, Truex was able to avoid any trouble on the track to bring home a solid finish.
Truex rolled off 34th for The Profit on CNBC 500 at Phoenix International Raceway. During the opening laps, Truex called into his BK Racing team to report the car mishandling around the one-mile oval. After closer observation, the team diagnosed the splitter making contact with the racing surface on fresh tires and after restarts and decided to add a spring rubber during their opening pit stop of the afternoon.
The Borla Exhaust team spent the rest of the day working on the balance of their Toyota Camry while ensuring that the car both handled well and the splitter avoided contact with the track surface. With the leaders setting a blistering pace and few caution periods to regroup the field, Truex worked hard to maintain his track position. By the time the checkered flag waved, Truex was scored in the 35th position.
"I feel like our Borla Exhaust team made progress today working on our communication," commented Truex. "We had a lot of conversation back and forth about how our car handled and changes that I needed made. It was a good experience for us to learn how to communicate with each other, and we were able to get a better understanding of each other. I think it will help us a lot, not only as we go into Vegas next weekend, but throughout the entire race season."
BK Racing PR
Alex Bowman and the No. 23 Dr Pepper Toyota Camry team finished in the 41st position at Phoenix International Raceway after racing inside the top-30 in Sunday's 312-mile event in the Arizona desert. Bowman suffered a broken spindle in the right front suspension, which required a long trip to the garage area mid-race and removed the team from contention.
Bowman started the race in the 35th position, but quickly began his charge through the field picking up five positions in just the opening 10 laps. As the race unfolded, Bowman worked closely with his Dr Pepper team to fine-tune the handling on his Toyota Camry. With minor air pressure adjustments, the BK Racing team had Bowman's car handling to his liking by the halfway point.
Nearing lap 200, Bowman called in to his crew to report something amiss in the front suspension. Just eight laps later, Bowman brought the No. 23 Dr Pepper Toyota Camry down pit road and ultimately to the garage as the team diagnosed a broken spindle in the left front suspension. An intricate fix cost the team more than 50 laps on the track and removed Bowman from contention for the afternoon. In a race where few teams suffered problems, Bowman was unable to regain the track position lost during his visit to the garage area and finished the race in the 41st position.
"Some days racing can be a lot like riding a roller coaster-there are a lot of highs and lows," commented Bowman. "To qualify for my first Daytona 500 last week was huge for my racing career. We came to Phoenix this week and again qualified for the race, which was a great accomplishment, so this was not the way we wanted our weekend to end. My BK Racing guys built me a great Dr Pepper Toyota Camry and we were able to race through the field. There's nothing that we could have done to prevent a broken spindle; sometimes parts fail and there's nothing you can do to change that. We got back on the track and regained the positions we could. That's all we can do-just not give up. I'm proud of the effort of my team today, and I'm looking forward to racing in Las Vegas next week."
BK Racing PR
Michael McDowell scored a 33rd-place finish at Phoenix International Raceway on Sunday afternoon, driving the No. 95 Leavine Family Racing Ford for Leavine Family Racing (LFR). The Glendale, Ariz. driver started the 312-lap event from the 26th position. In the opening laps, McDowell reported a loose-handling condition to crew chief Wally Rogers, and after the competition caution on Lap 35, Rogers gambled, making the call to take the wave-around. Laps later, McDowell pitted for fuel, four tires and chassis adjustments under green flag conditions. McDowell made minor contact with the No. 7 on Lap 187 due to a spinout in Turn 2. The team continued to make chassis adjustments during routine pit stops under both yellow flag and green flag conditions, but handling continued to be an issue. In the closing stages of the race, McDowell wrangled in his car, and was posting lap times competitive with lead lap competitors, ultimately finishing 33rd.
It was a busy weekend for McDowell, as his schedule was marked to the minute with sponsor appearances, meet-and-greets, and a tweet-up where he helped Phoenix International Raceway celebrate the race track's 50th "Golden" anniversary.
Next Sunday, McDowell and the No. 95 team will compete at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Start - 26 Finish - 33 Laps Led - 0 Points - 11
Michael McDowell QUOTE:
"It is fun to race here in front of my hometown crowd. It wasn't the day we ultimately hoped for, but it was still a solid day, and a good rebound from last week. We have something good to build on now. There have been a lot of changes this year with the new car, and this was my first race with this team. So we'll go back to the shop and improve some things, but most importantly, it came out to be a good day for us. We don't have a torn-up car so that is good. Time to move on to Vegas.
No. 55 Aaron’s Dream Machine Toyota driver Brian Vickers and his Michael Waltrip Racing team visit Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Sunday for the 400-mile NASCAR Sprint Cup race.
The No. 55 raced well in the first two races of the 2014 season, but with little result. A multi-car accident at Daytona and a melted tire bead at Phoenix damaged the car leaving Vickers with 30th and 25th place finishes.
Jeff Burton joins Vickers and teammate Clint Bowyer this weekend driving MWR’s No. 66 Let’s Go Places Toyota. Burton and Michael Waltrip will run in limited races in 2014 but lead an extensive testing effort.
BRIAN VICKERS ON LAS VEGAS: “It’s been a few years since I have raced at Vegas in a Sprint Cup car. I think because of the progressive banking it should be a little easier to pass than it was at Phoenix. But how much is debatable. I think you will see a good race.”
VICKERS ON WHETHER IT IS GETTING HARDER TO PASS DURING RACES: “I don’t buy into the whole racing has gone bad because of aero. Aero has always been there. I don’t know what people are talking about. I have been watching races for 20 years and I don’t ever remember the competition ever being this good. Aero has always been there it’s not like it just got invented five or 10 years ago. I think the reason you are seeing less shuffle on long green flag run is the tires don’t fall off as much. The reality is that the competition is closer than it has ever been. During practice the top 30 guys running by themselves can run with a tenth of each other. How am I going to pass someone when we are running the same lap times? I think as a sport we chase parity so much that we have accomplished it. The cars are so even and the box is so small that you could take the bodies off and the reality is that I am going to still have a hard time passing someone when I am only hundredth of thousands second faster.”
VICKERS ON JEFF BURTON: "It's fantastic having Jeff (Burton) involved and what he can bring to this team. His level of experience obviously, what he's been able to accomplish in his career, the insight from all the teams that he's worked with over the years. I think just having him on board, especially for me this past off-season, just being able to have two drivers in cars testing when I wasn't able to be in a car has been huge. We couldn't ask for a better guy to be in that role, in my opinion."
Dover International Speedway and Pocono Raceway take their yearly rivalry on to the field for the for the Third Annual Celebrity Softball Game, featuring NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers Kasey Kahne and Jamie McMurray. The game will be played on Wednesday, April 30 at the home of the York Revolution in York, Pa.
Kahne, driver of the No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet SS, will captain Team Pocono, while McMuray, who pilots the No. 1 Ganassi Racing Chevrolet SS, will lead Team Dover. The softball series is currently tied at one game a piece, with Team Pocono coming from behind to win the inaugural game in 2012 and Team Dover evening the score with a walk-off victory last year.
Access to the celebrity softball game is free with a ticket to that night’s baseball game. Tickets for the York Revolution game start at just $8, and all children ages 12 and younger that wear their NASCAR gear receive free admission. For tickets, call 717-801-4478 or visit www.YorkRevolution.com.
In addition to Kahne and McMurray, the rosters from each team will be made up of members of national and local motorsports media, as well as other local media personalities, and a few other special guests.
As rosters are announced, they will be posted and updated at DoverSpeedway.com and PoconoRaceway.com, as well as on Facebook.com/DoverInternationalSpeedway and Facebook.com/PoconoRaceway, and on Twitter at @MonsterMile and @poconoraceway.
Gates for the softball game will open at 4 p.m. with the event beginning at 4:30 p.m. Following the softball game, time permitting, Kahne and McMurray will throw out the first pitch for that evening’s 7 p.m. baseball game between the York Revolution and Lancaster Barnstormers.
Throughout both the softball and baseball games, both tracks will be promoting and giving away tickets to their respective NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races which take place on Sunday, June 1 at Dover and Sunday, June 8 at Pocono.
Pocono/Dover Motorsports PR
Governor Pat McCrory and the NC Division of Tourism, Film and Sports Development announced today the recipients of the Winner's Circle awards, given annually since 2004 to people who have made significant and continuing contributions to the growth and success of North Carolina's tourism industry. The 2014 honorees include: Richard Petty, charter member of the NASCAR Hall of Fame, Horace Holden, Aurelia Kennedy and Payson Kennedy, founders of the Nantahala Outdoor Center, and Ron Kimble, Charlotte Deputy City Manager.
"We congratulate this year's recipients for their lasting impact on tourism in the state," said Gov. McCrory. "Tourism is such an important economic driver for us, and it's visionaries like these who have helped develop all the diverse and unique attractions we enjoy in North Carolina. Tourism is an industry that touches every county in North Carolina."
Gov. McCrory participated in the Winner's Circle awards luncheon in Charlotte today as part of the three-day Governor's Conference on Tourism. The state's largest gathering of the tourism industry brings together nearly 500 leaders from resorts, attractions, destination marketing organizations, hotels/motels, real estate rental companies, restaurants and retail outlets each year to learn about the latest trends and issues facing the travel industry.
More on the 2014 Winner's Circle recipients:
Richard Petty, a charter member of the NASCAR Hall of Fame and co-owner of Richard Petty Motorsports, is the most decorated driver in NASCAR history with a record 200 career wins and seven NASCAR Cup championships. Born in Level Cross, Petty began his NASCAR career when he was 21 and drove 1,184 races. "The King" has been elected to the National Motorsports Press Association Hall of Fame, International Motorsports Hall of Fame, North Carolina Auto Racing Hall of Fame and the North Carolina Athletic Hall of Fame. A decade ago, Petty donated 84 acres to establish Victory Junction, a camp for chronically ill children, in honor of grandson Adam Petty, who died while practicing for a race. Petty's NASCAR history, his race shop and museum, and his unwavering support of tourism in Randolph County mark the significance of his contributions to tourism in North Carolina.
Horace Holden, Aurelia Kennedy and Payson Kennedy founded Nantahala Outdoor Center in 1972, the year the movie "Deliverance" was released and whitewater kayaking debuted as an Olympic sport. Before long, the Atlanta natives had turned their visionary venture into one of the world's premier guide services, inspiring a generation of outdoor adventurers and producing more than 20 Olympic athletes, including Horace Holden Jr. Fueled by ideals and a passion for the river, the enterprise grew to include treks on the Nantahala and six other rivers, a paddling school, kayak tours, fly fishing, hiking, a zipline adventure park, bike rentals, retail and, just a stone's throw from the Appalachian Trail, the River's End Restaurant, which Aurelia Kennedy nurtured as a destination in its own right. In 2005, Payson Kennedy earned a spot in the first class of the International Whitewater Hall of Fame. The trio's labor of love reached new heights with the NOC's successful bid to host the ICF Freestyle World Championship in the Nantahala Gorge in September 2013, and coming in 2015, the IFC Wildwater Canoeing Junior World Championships.
Ron Kimble, Charlotte Deputy City Manager, has been a force in establishing new signatures of Queen City tourism. Kimble, whose responsibilities encompass hospitality and tourism, economic development, redevelopment and intergovernmental relations, joined the city staff in 2000, while Governor Pat McCrory was mayor. Kimble has led initiatives including the NASCAR Hall of Fame, the Levine Center for the Arts, AAA Baseball, the US National Whitewater Center and the NC Music Factory. Most recently he helped negotiate to bring the 2014 Triple-A National Championship Game to BB&T Ballpark, the Charlotte Knights' soon-to-open stadium. Kimble, who earned degrees in Accounting and Business Administration from University of Kansas, served 10 years as Greenville's city manager before moving to Charlotte.
NC Department of Commerce PR
Brennan Newberry and the #24 Qore-24 Hand Purifier Chevrolet Impala team left the jewel of the desert, Phoenix International Raceway, proving to everyone that they have what it takes to bring home wins in 2014. For the Bakersfield, California native the good run came close to Newberry's west coast roots and in front of hometown friends and family, as well as the Qore-24 executives. Newberry and Crew Chief John Monsam led the 24 troops to a runner-up finish that gives them plenty of momentum going into their next event at Bristol Motor Speedway.
The Talking Stick Resort 75 was a spectacular one day show, with both practice sessions, qualifying and race all being held during the heat of the day. After the first of duel 60 minute practices, Newberry and Monsam knew that they a strong Chevrolet Impala with a lot of speed. The NTS Motorsports #24 team recorded their fastest lap of 27.687 and sat fourth on the speed charts following both practice sessions.
For qualifying Newberry rolled off of Pit Road 12th of 29 cars to take time. After two green-flag circuits Newberry posted a time of 27.846, which would give the team a start on the outside of the fourth row in eighth. "Although we didn't grab the pole in qualifying, the track changes so much as the sun goes down, in the race and I knew we would be fast toward the end", said Newberry going into the event.
The green flag was displayed at 5:15PM and, after starting eighth, Newberry had already worked his way into sixth when the first caution was displayed on the second lap. Restarts would prove to be the No. 24 team's strong suit throughout an event that would see several cautions and one red flag condition. "We had a car that was great on short runs so I had to make sure that I made every restart count", said Newberry after the race.
With the Arizona sun still shining, Newberry was saving his equipment and waiting for the car to come to him as the racing surface cooled closer to sunset. Working lap 15 of 75, Newberry found himself in seventh working lap traffic while staying in contact with the leaders. Caution would be displayed for the second time on lap 28 and Newberry radioed into his team; "We started out a little bit free but the car is really coming to me now".
With 25 laps to go, Newberry worked his way into the top five and was catching the leaders while laying down lap times that topped the charts. As the track cooled, the Qore-24 Chevrolet heated up and began picking its' way to the front. After an extended cleanup in turn one, the red flag was displayed with fifteen laps to go. After thirteen minutes of cooling on the backstretch, Newberry would restart inside the top five with twelve laps to go.
With only three laps of scheduled competition remaining, Newberry had placed himself inside the top three when a caution would be displayed to set-up a green white checkered finish and just two laps to catch the leader. Trouble for the second place car would set Newberry on the outside of the front row for a restart in overtime.
Coming to the white flag after the restart, Newberry kept in close contact with the leader and had four corners to make the pass with one mile left to go. Newberry made his way to the bumper of the front runner but raced him clean going into the turn three. With the checkered flag coming at lap 80, Newberry finished a very strong second place. "Phoenix is my favorite track", he said, "We've had a lot of speed in the cars this year and came in with a lot of confidence. At the end, though, I wanted to race the leader clean, so we are happy with second tonight."
Brennan Newberry's Post-Race Thoughts:
"After Phoenix we have a lot of positive momentum going into our next event at Bristol. I knew our car was going to be fast in Arizona and I have to thank John Monsam and my entire NTS Motorsports crew for the Chevrolet Impala they gave me to race. Coming close to the end of the race, having a shot at the win against Cole Custer was amazing. Putting on a great show in front of my family and Arizona based sponsor, Qore-24 Hand Purifier, makes the trip back to the east coast even sweeter."
John Monsam's Post-Race Thoughts:
"It was a great trip for the Qore-24 NTS Motorsports team. I am so pleased with the progress that Brennan, the team, and I are making with our communication. We have taken a big step in our progression this week and our goal is to always be a top five team. With that comes the opportunity to win race and with wins comes championships. I have thank Bob Newberry, Dwayne Gaulding, Doug Howe, and everyone at NTS Motorsports. I look forward to being a part of Brennan's first win."
NTS Motorsports PR
Gray Gaulding and the #02 Krispy Kreme Chevrolet team's day ended unexpectedly early when they lost an engine on lap 2 of the 75 lap Talking Stick Resort 75.
Gaulding who had high expectations after winning last time out at Phoenix International Raceway (PIR) was devastated. "I hate it more for my guys," said Gaulding. "They travel from North Carolina out here to go for the win. We're not racing for points, but we find the positive in everything, if this would have happened at Bristol it would have hurt us in the east (NASCAR K&N Pro Series East) points."
The Krispy Kreme team paced the 9th quickest time in Thursday opening 60 minute practice session with a time of 28.099 at 128.118 mph. "The car had a good balance" said Gaulding, "we just need to fine tune a few things in race trim."
Gaulding set the 5th quick time in final practice only .02 behind NTS Motorsports teammate Brennan Newberry in the 24 with a time of 27.715 at 129.894 mph.
For the 9th time in his career, Gaulding posted a top-5 qualifying effort with a time of 27.745, Gaulding would roll off on the inside of row 3 for the evening's Talking Stick Resort 75.
At 5:15 p.m. MST when the green flag dropped, Gaulding immediately headed forward and moved into fourth by the exit of turn two and was looking for third on lap 2 before coming over the radio saying "we just lost the motor." Gaulding immediately moved to the apron but only made it to the entrance of pit road before the car stopped.
Once cleared from the infield care center, Gaulding joined his fellow NTS Motorsports team in cheering on Brennan Newberry to a second place finish.
Gray Gaulding's Post-Race Thoughts:
"I hate it for my guys, they work so hard week in and week out to prepare the best cars on the track unfortunately something that was out of our control cost us today. Congratulation to Brennan and the entire 24 team on their strong run, he drove and awesome race and was in position at the end. We will move on and I am pumped about heading back to Bristol."
Ryan McKinney's Post-Race Thoughts:
"Sometimes things happen that is not under our control. We will take a better look at everything on Monday to get a better diagnosis as to what the problem was. These guys did an excellent job and I know Gray felt like he had the car to win. I was glad to see Brennan and the 24 car run up front and we will take what we learned and come back in the fall."