Speedway Digest Staff
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No. 55 Aaron’s Dream Machine Toyota driver Elliott Sadler and his Michael Waltrip Racing team visit Phoenix International Raceway this weekend for the penultimate race in the 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup season.
Both Sadler and the No. 55 team have enjoyed success at Phoenix. Sadler claimed the pole for the Nationwide race in March 2012 and the No. 55 team won the Sprint Cup pole with driver Mark Martin earlier this year. Sadler hopes for similar success this weekend on the fast, mile oval.
SADLER ON PHOENIX: “I won the spring Nationwide race at Phoenix last year so that was pretty good. I finished fifth there this year in the spring, but I wrecked there last fall. So, let’s hope we have more of a spring result than a fall result. I haven’t been in a Cup car in Phoenix in a long time -- not since the repave -- so I know it’s going to drive a little bit different. I feel like the MWR program is pretty good. I know the 55 sat on the pole there last year, so they definitely have a good short track program. We’ll go there and see where it takes us, but I can’t really give you an honest answer what to expect because I haven’t been there on the new pavement in a Cup car. Two of the last three races that we have been there in the Nationwide car is a win and a top-five so I feel pretty good about that.”
SADLER ON GOALS DRIVING THE NO. 55: “We’re going to look at it as we have nothing to lose. We’re not trying to battle any points or anything like that, so we can really try different setups, we can try different pit strategy. To sit here and tell you that I just want to go be competitive and not do much is a lie. I want to come out and try to qualify good each week and run good each week and put ourselves in position to be there at the end of the race. I’m a competitor no matter what I play and no matter what I race. I want to be involved and competitive in a good way. This is what we come for whether it’s Phoenix or Homestead. It can happen. That’s the attitude we have. My guys are working their butts off to get the cars good for these final races and I’m going to do everything I can to give them the information to make the car as good as we can and get me as good as we can. We’re going to go after it.”
Penske Racing announced today that AutoZone will join the organization as an associate sponsor for the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season.
AutoZone and Penske Racing will embark on an extensive business-to-business relationship as the company’s logo will be prominently featured on the C-post of the No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford Fusion driven by 2013 Chase driver Joey Logano beginning next season. AutoZone will also work with other Penske Racing partners to increase its presence in the racing community. In addition, the Memphis, Tenn.-based company will launch a marketing campaign focused around Penske Racing and Logano.
“We are very excited to welcome AutoZone to the Penske Racing family,” said Roger Penske. “We take great pride in the companies like AutoZone that invest in our organization. This partnership will help us continue to grow at Penske Racing and provide an opportunity for the rest of our partners to work with yet another great company in AutoZone.”
AutoZone is the nation's leading retailer and a leading distributor of automotive replacement parts and accessories with more than 5,000 stores in the US, Puerto Rico, and Mexico. Each store carries an extensive line for cars, sport utility vehicles, vans and light trucks, including new and remanufactured hard parts, maintenance items and accessories. Since opening its first store in Forrest City, Ark. on July 4, 1979, the company has joined the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE: AZO) and earned a position in the Fortune 500.
AutoZone has an extensive history in motorsports, including various sponsorships in NASCAR, powerboat racing and regional racing series around the country. This marks the automotive company’s first sponsor relationship in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.
“When you decide to enter into an agreement like this, you want to work with a company that everyone respects and that’s what Penske Racing is, especially in the motorsports world,” said Bill Rhodes, President and CEO of AutoZone. “We are all really excited to form this new partnership with Roger Penske and his first-class organization. Already from the beginning, they’ve made us feel very welcome. And to get to work with an up-and-coming driver and a car guy like Joey Logano is about as good as it gets.”
Logano, who is in his first season driving the No. 22 Ford Fusion for Penske Racing, has posted career-high numbers in 2013 with one win, two poles, 11 top-five and 17 top-10 finishes. He qualified for his first Chase for the Sprint Cup this season in his fifth full-time year competing in the series. Logano has also won three races in the NASCAR Nationwide Series in 2013, giving him a total of 21 wins in the series since 2008.
“It’s pretty cool to see a new company come into our sport and to get involved at the level that AutoZone is planning to do next season,” said the 23-year-old Logano, who won at Michigan International Speedway earlier this season. “To have a company come in and be really excited about working with you and your team, it really makes you feel good. Having AutoZone on board starting next season is great for our sport and Penske Racing and it makes me want to go out there and win even more races for them.”
Penske Racing PR
Jeff Burton, driver of the No. 31 @CATMining Chevrolet, will make his 1,000th-career NASCAR start when the Sprint Cup Series heads to Phoenix International Raceway on Sunday, Nov. 10, 2013.
"It's hard for me to imagine that I have driven in 1,000 NASCAR races," said Burton. "I've been lucky and blessed to have family and friends that have given me all this support. I also have good relationships with everyone that I've worked with over the years to show for it, which is most important to me."
Overall, the 46-year-old driver has made 689 Sprint Cup Series starts along with 306 starts in the Nationwide Series and four starts in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series driving for Richard Childress Racing, Roush Fenway Racing and the Stavola Brothers among others. Burton is the last driver to lead 100 percent of the laps in a NASCAR-sanctioned event, pacing the field for all 300 laps en route to victory at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in 2000 and was the 2007 NASCAR Illustrated "Person of the Year." He currently sits 19th in the 2013 Sprint Cup Series driver championship point standings on the strength of two top-five and six top-10 finishes.
"It makes it even sweeter to reach this milestone at Phoenix International Raceway where we have had a lot of success over the years," added Burton. "The No. 31 @CATMining Chevrolet team had a top-10 finish in March at Phoenix and tested there recently. We expect to contend for the win this weekend."
Aric Almirola looks to end the 2013 season with momentum from the last two races. Heading to Phoenix (Ariz.) International Raceway this weekend, his goal is to score a solid finish in the No. 43 Smithfield Ford as the team competes with a different tire from when they raced here in the spring.
Almirola has 14 NASCAR starts at the one-mile track in all three National series. In five Sprint Cup starts, he scored his best finish of 12th in the 2012 spring race. This season, he brought home a 15th-place finish in his first start in a Gen-6 car at the track. He tallied his best track finish of third in the truck series in 2009 and scored a pole in the Nationwide Series in the fall event in 2011.
Comments from Smithfield Ford Fusion Driver Aric Almirola:
"Phoenix is certainly losing grip. Goodyear is bringing a softer tire for this race, so that should make it better for us. We should have more grip which should put on a better race. Hopefully, the tire will wear out so you won't see us taking two tires or no tires like we have been on this new surface. Hopefully, it will be more like a typical short track race where four tires will mean something. I like the new configuration. I think it will just get better and better as it gets older, wore out, loses grip and Goodyear is able to bring a softer and softer tire. I think it will be a lot of fun this weekend.
"With two races left this season, it is really important that we end the season on a high note. We are really focused on these last two races. We did really well at the end of the year last year and that momentum really helped this season. Our goal is to do that again this year and start next season on a high note."
Comments from Smithfield Ford Fusion Crew Chief Greg Ebert:
"We had a pretty good race here in the spring. We raced in the second spot for a good portion of the race. We struggled a little with the harder tire and are excited to see what the new tire here brings. We have had mixed results this season short track and look to turn that around this weekend. Our biggest goal for the last two races is to get some good momentum leading into the off-season, and I think we can do just that starting this weekend at Phoenix."
Marcos Ambrose returns to the West Coast for the final short track race of the 2013 season at Phoenix (Ariz.) International Raceway. Ambrose hopes to contend for the win in the No. 9 DEWALT Ford and cap off the short track races on a high note.
Ambrose has 10 Sprint Cup Series starts under his belt at Phoenix. He scored his best finish of eighth with the No. 9 team in the fall of 2011. This spring, he posted an 18th-place finish in his first short-track start in the Gen-6 car. Crew Chief Drew Blickensderfer isn't a stranger to Victory Lane at the one-mile track. He scored a win in the 2008 Nationwide event with Carl Edwards. In his 14 NASCAR starts at the track, he tallied three top-fives, four top-10s and a pole.
Comments from DEWALT Ford Fusion Driver Marcos Ambrose:
"In the spring, track position was key. We'll work really hard to get a good starting spot for the race, so we have that advantage. With the softer tire, I think it will be easier to pass this race than in the spring, but I still think track position is very important here. That will really weigh on our decisions throughout the race.
"We've had some really good runs at short tracks this year and with the chassis we are bringing this weekend. Hopefully, we can use that to get a good finish this weekend and cap off our short track races with good momentum for next year."
Comments from Crew Chief Drew Blickensderfer on Phoenix:
"These last two races of the season are extremely important. It really help going into the off-season with some momentum. We've had an up and down year and are working hard to make sure we end on the up-side. Phoenix is a tough track. Track position means a lot, but you also have to have a good handling racecar. We'll work really hard in practice to get ourselves a good starting spot and car setup to help us during the race."
Rely on Ruud...Ruud will adorn the No. 33 Turner Scott Motorsports (TSM) entry at Phoenix International Raceway. Ruud, part of the Rheem family of quality brands, provides heating, cooling and water heating products for residential and light commercial use. Founded more than 100 years ago by the inventor of the water heater, Edwin Ruud, Rheem acquired the Ruud Company in 1960. Today, Rheem continues developing Ruud products in its tradition of quality, reliability and durability. For more information, please visit www.ruud.com.
Chassis Info...The No. 33 team will bring Chassis TSM-215 with them to Phoenix International Raceway. This particular chassis won the pole at PIR in 2012 with Nelson Piquet Jr. behind the wheel. Piquet Jr. ultimately finished eighth in that race.
Last Time Out...The last time Gale was behind the wheel in the NCWTS was at Kentucky Speedway back in June. Gale started in the 18th spot and quickly worked his way into the top 10. After a late-race restart, Gale sought to bring home a solid finish for his TSM team, earning a 13th-place finish in his 2013 NCWTS debut.
Come Meet Me...Gale and his TSM teammates will be signing autographs on Friday starting at 12:30 p.m. local time at the Roll-Bar hospitality area, which is located behind the Turn 1 grandstands.
Watch and Listen...The NCWTS returns to Phoenix International Raceway on Friday, November 8 for the second-to-last race of the 2013 season. The Lucas Oil 150 can be seen live on FOX Sports 1 at 7:30 p.m. EST. The race can also be heard live on SiriusXM Satellite Radio, channel 90 and MRN Radio.
Cale Gale on returning to the Phoenix International Raceway
"I don't have a whole lot of experience at Phoenix, but we have plenty of practice, so I should be able to get accustomed to the track. I also have full confidence in my Turner Scott Motorsports team that they will prepare us a strong Ruud truck for Friday night's race."
Rise Like A Phoenix...The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) makes its final trip west in 2013 for the penultimate race of the season, the Lucas Oil 150 at Phoenix International Raceway. Miguel Paludo has two previous starts at Phoenix, with his best finish of 14th coming in 2012.
Green Means Go...The No. 32 Chevrolet is once again going green, sporting the colors of AccuDoc Solutions this week at Phoenix International Raceway. AccuDoc Solutions is based in Morrisville, N.C. and provides billing-statement printing and processing to hospitals and hospital-based physicians. In addition to paper-based billing statements, ADS enables patients to choose electronic statement delivery and make payments through secure online payment portals. Notable North Carolina based clients include Carolina's Healthcare System, the UNC Healthcare System, Sentara Healthcare, Baptist Health Care Pensacola, Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center, Memorial Healthcare System and WakeMed. To learn more, visit www.AccuDocSolutions.com.
Be Aware...November is American Diabetes Month, with World Diabetes Day falling on November 14. Paludo, who was diagnosed with the disease at age 21, is especially focused on bringing awareness to the cause this month. The No. 32 AccuDoc Solutions Chevrolet will sport a special American Diabetes Association 'Stop Diabetes Now' decal on its tonneau cover in support of the 26 million people living with diabetes in the United States.
Here's Your Sign...Paludo will join his Turner Scott Motorsports teammates at the NCWTS driver autograph session on Friday, November 8 from 12:30-1:30 p.m. local time. The autograph session will be held next to the Budweiser Roll-Bar behind Turns 1 and 2.
Vote For Me...The polls are still open for the 2013 NCWTS Most Popular Driver fan vote. Fans can vote once a day from each device: laptop, desktop, tablet, smart phone, etc. Be sure to place your vote for Paludo every day from now until November 15 at www.nascar.com/ncwtsmpd.
This Week's Silverado...Paludo and the No. 32 AccuDoc Solutions team will unload chassis TSM-604 this weekend at Phoenix International Raceway. TSM-604 is a brand-new, new-generation chassis, which will make its first laps this weekend in the Lucas Oil 150.
Watch And Listen...The Lucas Oil 150 can be seen live on Friday, November 8 with pre-race coverage beginning at 7:30 p.m. EST on FOX Sports 1. The race can also be heard live on MRN Radio as well as SiriusXM Satellite Radio, channel 90.
Previous Race Recap...Paludo was a threat early on in the weekend as the NCWTS prepared for its second battle of the season at Texas Motor Speedway. After leading the first practice session and qualifying in the top five, Paludo appeared to have the truck to beat in the WInStar World Casino 350. However, early contact and a free condition hurt the No. 32 team early on, preventing them from bringing Anderson's Maple Syrup to victory lane in their first race with Turner Scott Motorsports.
Miguel Paludo on driving at Phoenix International Raceway
"Phoenix is an interesting track and always a fun place to go back to; it isn't like anywhere else we go. The dog leg on the backstretch makes it unique and no two turns are the same. I think the key is not over-driving Turn 1 and track position. You'll see a lot of different strategies to get track position throughout the race. We're bringing a new truck, one of our new generation trucks, so I think that we have the ability to be really competitive when we get there. We're so close to the end of the season and it's so important to me that we finish 2013 strong."
Two to Go...With just two races to go in the 2013 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) season, James Buescher and his Turner Scott Motorsports (TSM) team sit 46 points behind the leader in the NCWTS Driver Point Standings. In their last running at Phoenix International Raceway (PIR), Buescher and his No. 31 Rheem team were running just outside of the top five until a tire failed and sent him into the outside retaining wall with just three laps to go. Buescher looks to close the points gap and remain in contention for the championship for the season's final race at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Gotta Have a Rheem...The No. 31 TSM team will have their familiar Rheem colors back on board for this week's Lucas Oil 150. Rheem Manufacturing Company (www.rheem.com) is privately held with headquarters in Atlanta. In its 87th year of operation, the company manufactures a full line of high-quality residential and commercial heating and cooling systems; tank, tankless, solar, and heat pump water heaters; swimming pool heaters and commercial boilers throughout North America and world markets. The company's premium brands, including Raypak, Ruud and Rheem, have been recognized with countless industry and consumer awards for reliability, innovative design and high quality. Rheem, now in its seventh consecutive year as a NASCAR sponsor, is the official heating, cooling and water heating supplier to Turner Scott Motorsports and Richard Childress Racing. Rheem also sponsors RCR's No. 29 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series car driven by Kevin Harvick and the No. 33 NASCAR Nationwide Series car driven by Paul Menard.
Chassis Info...The Rheem team will bring chassis TSM-601 for this weekend's race at PIR. This particular chassis visited victory lane at the fall Iowa race back in early September.
Previous Race Recap... Hometown hero Buescher didn't go down without a fight when he returned to Texas Motor Speedway, the track where he first cut his teeth in racing. Starting in the sixth position for the WinStar World Casino 350, Buescher fell back just a couple positions in the early going, but after some stellar pit stops by his Rheem crew, he gained valuable track position which kept them in contention. The battles on the track heated up between Buescher and his closest competitors, but a tight-handling Rheem Chevrolet caused for her and the No. 31 team to slip back in the running order. Buescher battled until the bitter end, bringing home a sixth-place finish at Texas Motor Speedway.
In Case You Missed It...While at Texas Motor Speedway, Buescher spoke to nearly 3,000 elementary school students for the "Speeding To Read" program. A video recap can be viewed at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3dFVfn8DRHc. Also, Buescher and his wife Kris sat down with Krista Voda for a one-on-one interview about their life as new parents and their journey through adoption. The feature can be viewed at: foxs.pt/181Fctx
Get Your Sharpies Ready...Buescher and his TSM teammates will be signing autographs on Friday, November 8 starting at 12:30 p.m. local time at the Roll-Bar hospitality area, which is located behind the Turn 1 and 2 grandstands.
Watch and Listen...The NCWTS returns to Phoenix International Raceway on Friday, November 8 for their second-to-last race of the 2013 season. The Lucas Oil 150 can be seen live on FOX Sports 1 at 7:30 p.m. EDT. The race can also be heard live on SiriusXM Satellite Radio, channel 90 and MRN Radio.
James Buescher on Returning to Phoenix International Raceway
"My whole Rheem team is heading into Phoenix with nothing to lose. We are continuing with our never-give-up attitude and looking to get that checkered flag. We are bringing our Iowa truck with us and I think we'll have great shot at accomplishing our goal."
Let's Try This Again...Leaving his disappointing finish at Texas Motor Speedway behind, Jeb Burton and the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) will head west to Phoenix International Raceway for a night of racing in the desert. With a lot on the line, the 21-year-old rookie will make his debut at the 1.0-mile track with hopes of keeping his top-five spot in the NCWTS Driver Point Standings.
This Week's Silverado...The No. 4 Turner Scott Motorsports (TSM) team will unload chassis TSM-602 this weekend in Phoenix. No stranger to sucess, TSM-602 has brought Burton one pole award (Chicagoland Speedway) and two top-10 finishes (Chiagoland Speedway, Las Vegas Motor Speedway) this year.
Come On By...Stop by and meet Burton, along with fellow TSM drivers, at the NCWTS autograph session on Friday, November 8 from 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. local time located next to the Budweiser Roll-Bar behind Turns 1 & 2.
Don't Forget to Vote...Time is running out! Don't forget to vote for Burton as your favorite driver in the 2013 NCWTS Most Popular Driver poll. Vote once a day from now until November 15 at www.nascar.com/ncwtsmpd. #TeamBurton
Don't Miss the Action...The Lucas Oil 150 can be seen live on Friday, November 8 beginning at 7:30 p.m. EST on FOX Sports 1. The race can also be heard live on MRN Radio and SiriusXM Satellite Radio, channel 90.
Previous Race Recap...What appeared to be an impressive day for Burton turned into a disappointing night when his No. 4 Arrowhead Chevrolet ran out of fuel with only six laps remaining in the WinStar World Casino 350 at Texas Motor Speedway. Receiving his seventh Keystone Light pole award of the season, Burton and his TSM team felt their brand-new truck had a real shot at returning to the Texas-sized victory lane for a second time this year. However, a combination of handling and fuel issues resulted in a 26th-place finish at the No Limits track, taking Burton to fifth in the NCWTS Driver Point Standings.
Jeb Burton on Racing at Phoenix International Raceway:
"This weekend will be interesting at Phoenix. Going into the final two races fighting for a top-5 position, well, this isn't the predicament we saw ourselves in. We're taking a good truck that's been successful this season, so I'm hoping the familiarity and confidence I have in the truck will help me tackle this track as a rookie. I know that this team isn't going down without a fight, so like every weekend, our game face is on and we're ready to give it another shot."
Erik Jones will be "Awake at the Wheel" sporting a new campaign for Wake UP Narcolepsy (WUN) when he takes the green flag Fridaynight for the Lucas Oil 150 at Phoenix (Ariz.) International Raceway (PIR). Making his fifth and final appearance for Kyle Busch Motorsports (KBM) behind the wheel of the No. 51 Tundra for the 2013 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) season, Jones will be giving WUN - a leading nonprofit dedicated to speeding narcolepsy diagnosis through greater awareness and funding research for a cure - their first appearance onboard a Truck Series entry.
Although the dream of clinching the 2013 Truck Series owner's championship may now be lost for the No.51 team, Jones has the chance to put a KBM Tundra into victory lane for the third year in a row at PIR. If the 17-year-old were to follow suit of Brian Scott's 2012 victory and owner-driver, Kyle Busch's from 2011, he would complete the trifecta as well as become the youngest driver to win a NCWTS event. So far the Byron, Michigan native has yet to
Since Jones' last appearance in the NCWTS in September at Iowa Speedway in Newton, he has been driving KBM's No. 51 Super Late Model - bringing home a victory during their first event together, the 42nd Annual Winchester 400 at Winchester (Ind.) Speedway. Jones now joins boss, Kyle Busch, and only four other drivers who have been able to win the most prestigious Super late Model events in the country, the Winchester 400 and Snowball Derby.