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PHOTOS COURTESY OF: HAROLD HINSON FOR TEAM CHEVY
Sauter ran a total of 26 laps in his No. 98 Carolina Nut Co. / Curb Records Toyota and ended up 18th on the first practice sheet, 10th on the second and 10th overall -- which is critical because the overall compilation of the four practices scheduled between Friday and Saturday will determine the session drivers enter in Coors Light Pole Qualifying on Saturday.
"There's no substitute for track time and the more comfortable we get the truck and the more comfortable we get the driver the better off we're going to be," Sauter said in the CTMP paddock, which serves as an open-air 'garage area.' "We've got more learning to do, but we made great progress on it (Friday) and we made some good adjustments and got the truck faster virtually every time we went on the racetrack."
Indeed, Sauter turned his fastest lap of the day, in 83.014 seconds, an average speed of 106.637 mph around the up and downhill 2.459-mile road course, on his next-to-last lap in the closing moments of practice.
Crafton ran a total of 17 laps and was 11th in the first session, 16th in the second and 16th overall. Crafton ran his best lap, in 83.582 seconds, an average speed of 105.683 mph, on his eighth of 12 laps turned in the final practice.
"This is all about speed and we need to find more of it," Crafton said after final practice. "We've been battling a push in our truck. We need to get it to turn better without sacrificing forward drive off the corners."
Road racer Mike Skeen, a Virginian living in Charlotte, N.C., who won both Pirelli World Challenge races last season at CTMP, was fastest in both Friday sessions with a best lap in 81.449 seconds, an average speed of 108.686 mph, in the No. 6 Chevrolet.
Both Sauter and Crafton tested NASCAR Canadian Tire Series stock cars earlier this month at CTMP and Sauter said everything he experienced Friday was exactly what he expected at the high-speed, variable-elevation road course.
"The two vehicles are very different," Sauter said, grinning. "The truck is much more throttle-on, so it's considerably faster and it has better brakes. So far we've figured out we need to get more front-end response without hurting the transition off the corners.
"The biggest positive about the test was that I was extremely comfortable with the track, where I needed to be on it and where it was going right from the start of the day."
This weekend is the first Truck Series road race since 2000, at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International. None of the drivers entered this weekend competed in that race, but Ron Fellows, a co-owner of CTMP, finished third in that event at the track where he won five NASCAR races, two in the Truck Series and three in the Busch Series.
On Saturday, two practices are scheduled, from 9:30-10:30 a.m. ET and 12-1 p.m. A public driver autograph session, in which both Sauter and Crafton are scheduled to participate, is scheduled from 1:45-2:45 p.m. in the infield. Coors Light Pole Qualifying is at 5:05 p.m.
Chevrolet Silverado 250 TV coverage on FOX Sports 1 begins at 1 p.m. Sunday with The Setup pre-race show. The green flag, which will also be covered on MRN Radio, with live timing and scoring on NASCAR.com, is set for 1:30 p.m.
JoJo Helberg took advantage of lapped traffic to pass Brian Gingras with three laps remaining to capture the win the Tim Smith’s CLIMAX Moonshine Sprint Car Shootout Friday at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
“I knew if I closed the door, I had a really good car, especially in traffic with all the lapped cars,” said Helberg about the late-race pass. “I think I muscled through traffic better than (Gingras) did. To race at a place like Atlanta Motor Speedway during Cup weekend is amazing.”
Gingras finished second in the winged sprint car debut at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
Reliable Heating and Air powered by Trane will be aboard the No. 19 of Mike Bliss for Saturday night's Great Clips / Grit Chips 300 at Atlanta Motor Speedway. The number one HVAC service in Atlanta will serve as the primary sponsor for the Nationwide Series veteran as he makes his eighth start at Atlanta.
Local and family owned Reliable Heating and Air is located in Woodstock, Georgia. The No. 19 Reliable Heating and Air powered by Trane Toyota will take to Atlanta's 1.5-mile oval, for the first time, during Nationwide Series practice at 5:00 p.m. (EST) today.
Tune in to ESPN2 for the 22nd Annual Great Clips / Grit Chips 300 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on Saturday, August 31st with coverage starting at 7:30 p.m. (EST).
LINE-X, the country’s leading vehicle bedliner company, will ride along with JD Motorsports with Gary Keller driver Landon Cassill for this weekend’s Great Clips/Grit Chips 300 Nationwide Series race at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
LINE-X is celebrating the arrival of LINE-X Platinum, its newest product. Platinum uses pure polyuria technology for a combination of strength and flexibility to create a product of superior toughness – a full 300 percent tougher than previous applications.
Cassill’s No. 4 Chevrolet is being sponsored by LINE-X of Lanier, Alpharetta and Atlanta.
The nation’s leading provider of spray-on protective coatings, LINE-X is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year. Saturday’s race will give Cassill and his team the opportunity to give LINE-X one of its “fastest” tests yet.
JD Motorsports PR
After 15 years of airing races on Speedvision and SPEED, the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards will make the transition to FOX Sports and their new FOX Sports 1 and FOX Sports 2 all-sports networks in September.
For most viewers, SPEED became FOX Sports 1 on Saturday, Aug. 17, amidst much fanfare and promotion. Simultaneously, Fuel TV became FOX Sports 2, giving parent company NewsCorp a pair of 24-hour sports channels, and an opportunity to compete against the self-proclaimed worldwide leader in sports coverage, ESPN.
"We're excited about the transition from SPEED to the new FOX Sports networks," commented Ron Drager, ARCA President. "As FOX transforms into a broader sports outlet, the opportunity to maintain live programming via FOX Sports 1 and FOX Sports 2 provides us the platform to bring live ARCA Racing to our fans."
The network has announced its ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards lineup for the remainder of the 2013 season. First up is the Sept. 7 ARCA Racing Series event from Iowa Speedway, which will air live on FOX Sports 2 at 9 p.m. ET. The Prairie Meadows 150 will also re-air on Sunday morning at 8 a.m. ET on FOX Sports 1.
FOX Sports 1 will broadcast both the Sept. 20 ZLOOP 150 from Kentucky Speedway and the Oct. 4 Kansas Lottery 98.9 races, live. The ARCA Racing Series will crown its 2013 season champion following the Oct. 4 race in Kansas.
FOX Sports 1 is available in nearly 90 Million homes, and unlike SPEED, is offered on most cable systems basic package. Fox Sports 2 is available in nearly 40 Million homes, including distribution on Time Warner Cable and satellite (DirectTV and Dish Network).
Time Warner Cable Inc. is the second largest cable company in the U.S. operating in 29 states with 31 operating divisions. Time Warner Cable serves customers in the following 29 states: Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia and Wisconsin.
The Automobile Racing Club of America (ARCA) is among the leading auto racing sanctioning bodies in the country. Founded in 1953 by John and Mildred Marcum, the organization administers more than 100 events each year in multiple racing series, including the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards, the ARCA/CRA Super Series, the ARCA Truck Series and the ARCA Midwest Tour, plus weekly racing at Toledo and Flat Rock Speedways.
ARCA Racing PR
Hooters of America, LLC, and Chanticleer Holdings, Inc. (NASDAQ: HOTR), a franchisee of international Hooters locations, today announced Hooters is sponsoring Nelson Piquet, Jr.'s No. 30 Chevrolet Camaro in the NASCAR Nationwide Series (NNS) race at Chicagoland Speedway on Sept. 14. The No. 30 car sponsorship celebrates Hooters 30th anniversary year, honoring the iconic legacy of the brand and continued growth as one of the most successful dining destinations in the world.
The 27-year-old driver, who is competing in his first full season in the NNS for Turner Scott Motorsports, became the first Brazilian to win in one of NASCAR's top-three national touring series events when he took the checkered flag last year at Road America. Piquet Jr. went on to win two more races in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series in 2012, while also earning the series' Most Popular Driver and Most Improved Driver awards. Piquet Jr. is a former Formula One driver and is the son of three-time Formula One world champion, Nelson Piquet.
Part of the Hooters evolution is the expansion of the casual dining restaurant brand into international markets. Chanticleer Holdings, which secured exclusive rights to operate Hooters restaurants in parts of Brazil earlier this year, plans to announce its first Brazil location in the near future.
"Hooters is such an iconic brand and has a rich history in the sport of stock car racing," Piquet Jr. said. "It's truly an honor to celebrate Hooters' first 30 years and also the brand's growth in global markets like my home country of Brazil."
The official No. 30 Hooters car design was first revealed to the NASCAR world today via Piquet, Jr.'s Twitter account@nelsonpiquet. After a series of Hooters clues, Piquet, Jr., unveiled the sleek design that will hit the racetrack in Chicago with the new, modern Hootie owl logo. The design is an intentional nod to the past, painted in the iconic Hooters orange and white color scheme and modeled to pay homage to the famous No. 7 car of the late NASCAR champion and Hooters-sponsored driver, Alan Kulwicki.
This year also marks 20 years since a tragic airplane accident took the lives of Kulwicki along with Hooters executives Mark Brooks, Dan Duncan and Charlie Campbell. Dedicated to preserving their memory, Hooters will host the 20th annual Hooters Memorial Cup Golf Tournament on Sept. 16, two days after the Chicagoland race, in Marietta, Ga. This special fundraising event has helped generate more than $8 million to-date for the Hooters Community Endowment Fund (HOO.C.E.F.), which contributes to many of Hooters philanthropic endeavors.
In November 1992, just months before the accident, one of Hooters fondest NASCAR memories occurred as Kulwicki took second place in the season-ending Hooters 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway to clinch the Winston Cup Championship by a mere 10 points, the closest margin in NASCAR history at the time. The race is often regarded as one of the best in NASCAR history, marking the final start in the career of legendary driver, Richard Petty, and series debut for future champion, Jeff Gordon.
It is 4,448 miles – or 7,157 kilometers, if you will – between Paris, France, and Daytona Beach, Florida.
The gap between European racers and their NASCAR dreams, though, has grown considerably smaller thanks to the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series.
In its second year under the NASCAR banner, the European-based stock-car series is not just making enormous strides with its on-track competition, but it’s become a gateway for drivers looking for the opportunity to pursue their dreams of racing in the highest levels of NASCAR.
For Max Papis, who has experienced open-wheel and every level of NASCAR in addition to winning GRAND-AM Road Racing Rolex Series’ Rolex 24 at Daytona, the European series provides a perfect setup.
“Six years ago, nothing like our NASCAR stock cars existed over in Europe,” Papis said. “What the series is bringing is a perfect training ground for an Italian kid who maybe doesn't have the money to travel all the way to America to get his experience. He can get his experience driving a NASCAR-type car on a track where he's more familiar and prepare himself to go run a Watkins Glen or a Mid-Ohio.
“They've got a really good thing going there, and they've got room to grow.”
And the driver experience works both ways.
Rick Crawford, a longtime fixture on the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, became the next in line to join the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series across the pond for a race in the only NASCAR-sanctioned series in Europe. He competed in the July race at Tours Speedway, along with NASCAR K&N Pro Series West rookie Giles Thornton and Papis. Last year, NASCAR K&N Pro Series driver Ben Kennedy, the great-grandson of NASCAR founder Bill France Sr., won the inaugural race at Tours.
What Crawford remembered most about a 108-lap event around a temporary quarter-mile oval bullring in Tours, France, was not his 14th-place finish – it was the entire experience there.
“One thing I really commend them on is all of the activity they had for the fans,” said Crawford, who has more than 350 Camping World Truck Series starts on his resume. “There are no garages – they've got big awnings and tents, and they work on their cars right beside the haulers. The fans get to see all of this go on; they get right up close to all of it.
“It was some great racing all weekend, and it was like a big festival. I was proud to be part of it and be an ambassador to NASCAR over there. I had a really nice time, and I would go love to go back again.”
While Crawford got his first taste of the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series this summer, some European-born drivers were getting their first taste of NASCAR stateside.
From France’s Anthony Gandon making his NASCAR Nationwide Series debut at Watkins Glen to 15-year-old Thomas Ferrando of France competing in NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Sportsman division races at Bowman Gray Stadium, 2013 has been something of a coming-out party for the European stock car racing. Spain’s Ander Vilariño competed in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series portion of the UNOH Battle At The Beach in February, earning the spot by winning last year’s title in Europe.
“It's very important for us to create this bridge and give drivers this experience,” said Jerome Galpin, the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series director. “It's very big for the series in Europe. The more we can come closer to the U.S., the better it will be for the series. We cannot do exactly the same things here, but the most important thing is that the series shares the same values.”
Papis pointed to his experience at Tours as a prime example of the series’ potential.
“They're using the right concept,” Papis said. “I really love the fact that when I showed up there, we had over 20 cars, the field was packed, a lot of people attending the event. Considering that everything else in Europe – with the exception of Formula 1 – is basically a non-success, to me it showed there is room for that series to grow.”
Though the success of NASCAR in Europe – and vice versa, with the success of European drivers in NASCAR – would bring with it more interest for the stock-car racing globally, such a bridge does hinge on the infusion of new talent.
Crawford believes he saw plenty of talent in the Euro Series.
“There is some young talent in Europe that can make it in the United States if they get the right break,” Crawford said. “I'd like to see some come over here and try a K&N Pro Series car, a Nationwide car, a Camping World Truck – because I really think they have some great young talent. A lot of them could go to the United States and really become a young star in this sport.”
When Crawford, a Mobile, Ala., native, got his start on the short tracks of the southeast, the concept of racing in Europe wasn’t even on the radar. Now he’s been embraced in France as an ambassador of the sport.
“I thought NASCAR had always been a good old boy sport, and we're going to start out in Daytona and North Carolina and just barnstorm around on asphalt and dirt tracks and have a good time,” Crawford said. “All of a sudden, we branch out to California, the northeast, the northwest. You've got these untapped markets that want NASCAR.
“Well, you've got an untapped market in Europe, too.”
Of course, Crawford made sure to impart a little grassroots, stock-car knowledge on the Euro Series teams before he left.
“I was doing some work with some of the teams, teaching them about this left-turn thing,” Crawford said. “I loved going there and can't wait to go again, and I see it from those guys looking at me, they want to come over here and work in NASCAR. It can work hand in hand.”
Which is exactly what the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series is hoping happens.
Reigning ACM & CMA “Vocal Duo of the Year” Thompson Square to perform free concert for fans on Sunday, Sept. 29 in Victory Plaza
Reigning ACM & CMA “Vocal Duo of the Year” Thompson Square will perform a free concert for race fans the morning of the Sunday, Sept. 29 “AAA 400” NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race in Victory Plaza.
Husband and wife Keifer and Shawna Thompson introduced themselves to the country music scene in a big way in 2011 with their self-titled album, as Billboard named the duo the No. 1 New Country Artist of 2011 and No. 6 All Genre New Artist of 2011. Their breakthrough No. 1 single, “Are You Gonna Kiss Me Or Not,” was the most played song on country radio in 2011 (Mediabase), with more than two million singles sold. It was named the iTunes 2011 Country Song of the Year and was nominated for two GRAMMY awards.
Thompson Square’s new album, Just Feels Good, was released earlier this year and has spawned two hits to-date, including the No. 1 Gold-selling single, “If I Didn’t Have You” and current Top 40 hit, the playfully scandalous “Everything I Shouldn’t Be Thinking About.”
In addition, the duo released its first novel, Are You Gonna Kiss Me Or Not?, a fictionalized account inspired by their double-platinum selling song.
Thompson Square is currently supporting Luke Bryan on his first-ever headlining tour, the Dirt Road Diaries Tour. For full tour dates and more information, visit www.thompsonsquare.com
Ann Marie, Kristin Moore to sing Friday and Saturday anthems
Nashville’s hottest, rising female singer-songwriter Ann Marie will perform the “Star Spangled Banner” prior to the Friday, Sept. 27 “Drive Sober 150” presented by the Delaware Office of Highway Safety NASCAR K&N Pro Series East race. She has opened for Darius Rucker, Josh Turner and a host of other country stars, and just released her debut single “Cowboy Up.”
The following day, Kristin Moore, proud military spouse to Col. Rick Moore, Commander of the 436th Airlift Wing at Dover Air Force Base, will sing the National Anthem to kick off the Saturday, Sept. 28 NASCAR Nationwide Series race.
Dover Motorsports PR