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Veteran driver Kevin Lepage will make his 2013 debut in the JD Motorsports with Gary Keller No. 4 Chevrolet in Saturday’s Nationwide Children’s Hospital 200 Nationwide Series race at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.
The series is racing at the 2.70-mile road course for the first time.
Lepage has raced in six Nationwide races this year, but Saturday’s run will be his first with JD Motorsports.
“Kevin has been a strong racer for a long time,” team owner Johnny Davis said. “We’re glad to have him in our car this week. We’re looking for a good weekend out there.”
Lepage has a top finish of 19th in Nationwide events this season.
The No. 4 car will carry the Gary Keller name prominently this weekend as JD Motorsports celebrates that association. “We’re fortunate to have Gary along for the ride with us every week,” Davis said. “He has meant a lot to this race team, and we’re proud to have his name on our cars. It’s going to be a big weekend at Mid-Ohio.”
With the series at the Mid-Ohio course for the first time, NASCAR has scheduled two practice sessions on both Thursday and Friday before Saturday’s qualifying and race.
JD Motorsports PR
TMI (Team McClure, Inc.) announced today that due to an undisclosed illness that has left Eric McClure hospitalized, he will be sidelined for Saturday’s inaugural race at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. In McClure’s absence, Jeff Green, former NASCAR Nationwide Series Champion and teammate to McClure at TriStar Motorsports, will pilot the No. 14 Hefty®/Reynolds® Toyota during the Nationwide Children’s Hospital 200.
McClure’s status on returning to competition is week to week.
U.S. Army veteran and Purple Heart recipient David Balestrino Jr. has been named honorary starter for the Pure Michigan 400 being held this Sunday, August 18, at Michigan International Speedway. Balestrino was the winner of a fan contest on the Pure Michigan Facebook page, receiving the highest number of votes for his entry on why he wanted to wave the green flag on race day.
Balestrino, of Youngstown, Ohio, served as a Combat Engineer in the U.S. Army from 2003-2009 and received a Purple Heart during his service in Iraq. In his entry, Balestrino said he would like to drop the green flag in honor of his six year old son.
“While serving in Iraq I missed the entire first year of Brady's life,” Balestrino said. “That was the most difficult thing I ever had to go through. I still can't believe that I was picked for this awesome honor and I hope that I can make everyone who has served or is still serving proud.”
As honorary starter, Balestrino will also have the opportunity to receive a pace car ride from NASCAR’s official pace car driver and attend the NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers’ meeting.
“We received many great entries from fans excited about race day at the Pure Michigan 400, but David’s submission really brought together a passion for racing and a terrific story that speaks to the spirit of Pure Michigan,” said George Zimmermann, Vice President of Travel Michigan, part of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation.
For the Facebook contest, fans submitted entries of 50 words or less explaining why they should be selected as honorary starter. Fans of Pure Michigan voted on their top entries. Balestrino’s entry received more than 800 votes and was chosen by Pure Michigan from the 10 entries with the most fan votes.
“We are honored to have David here to wave the green flag on the Pure Michigan 400,” said MIS President Roger Curtis. “He will truly experience the thrill of the start of the race as the cars pass under him. We want to thank our friends at Pure Michigan for giving David the chance to become an integral part of the NASCAR experience.”
TV star and Traverse City native Carter Oosterhouse is serving as the Pure Michigan 400 grand marshal. Fans will also have one last chance to register to win the Pure Michigan 400 pace car on site race weekend at the Pure Michigan tent on the New Holland Fan Plaza.
With series sponsor Nationwide Insurance using this weekend's inaugural visit to Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington to raise awareness and funds for Nationwide Children's Hospital, many drivers will share the experience with "champion patients" from the pediatric hospital located in nearby Columbus, Ohio. The hood of Parker Kligerman's No. No. 77 Bandit Chippers Camry will feature a picture of nine-year-old Payton Julian from Mansfield, Ohio, who in his own words "kicked cancer's butt" after defeating Wilms' Tumor, a type of kidney cancer that occurs in children, while a patient at the facility in 2008. Julian will be on hand and get to be Kligerman's guest at the driver's meeting, driver introductions and sit on the No. 77 team's pit box during the 90-lap race.
Kligerman, who's racing teeth were cut on road courses in the Skip Barber and Formula Renault Series, has turned heads in the first two road-course events this season. The Connecticut native qualified third, led four laps and finished third at Road American in Elkhart Lake Wisc. in June and last weekend qualified ninth, led seven laps and finished sixth in a field that included several Sprint Cup Series drivers at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International. The former road racer's average finish of 4.5 is equal to that of Justin Allgaier and Brian Vickers and the trio rank second to Sam Hornish Jr.'s average result of 3.5.
The talented youngster feels that he could've improved last week's result at "The Glen" by being more aggressive, but knew it was in his best interest to keep the team's primary road-course chassis in one piece. Now the team can once again unload KBM-01, the first Nationwide Series chassis built at Kyle Busch Motorsports, which is the Toyota that has tackled each of the five road-course events on the schedule since the team debuted last season. The Camry has finished inside the top 10 in all five events, producing an average finish of 6.6.
With Mid-Ohio being the final road-course race of the season, Kligerman can be more aggressive this week as he seeks the first win of his Nationwide Series career. While it isn't on the official agenda, he hopes to be celebrating with Julian in victory lane after Saturday's Nationwide Children's Hospital 200. Then, the two can say they "kicked Mid-Ohio's butt" together.
Justin Lofton returns behind the wheel of the Sharp-Gallaher Racing No. 6 Chevrolet Silverado on Aug. 21 to battle in the NASCAR Camping World Series under the lights of Bristol Motor Speedway. The Westmorland, Calif., native is scheduled to compete in eight of the final ten 2013 Camping World Truck Series events.
SGR and Lofton have had success together in the past winning the 2009 ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards Championship, earning two Keystone Light pole awards and the winning in the Camping World Truck Series at Charlotte Motor Speedway en route to an eighth-place finishin the 2012 championship point standings.
Lofton drove the No. 6 SGR MadVapes Chevrolet in the 2013 season-opening event at Daytona International Speedway. He started the 250-mile race on the front row (second) and finished in the fourth position. Lofton returned to the MadVapes Silverado in May to post another stellar performance at Charlotte Motor Speedway, starting sixth and finishing 10th.
Eddie Sharp recently announced his partnership with California businessman Bill Gallaher, forming Sharp-Gallaher Racing. With the return of Lofton, the No. 6 team is poised once again to challenge the Camping World Truck Series field for the remainder of 2013 season.
"I'm pumped to get back in the No. 6 SGR Chevrolet as that's been my home the past few years," stated Lofton. "Because of the limited schedule, we are not racing for championship points, but we will be racing for wins! I know Eddie and the team are ready to run the No. 6 Chevy on a consistent basis and I'm thrilled to be back in NASCAR competition."
Team Owner Eddie Sharp commented, "Justin is on top of his game and we couldn't be happier to have him back where he belongs. Justin and the Lofton's are like family so when we needed to put someone in the No.6, he was clearly our go-to driver."
Lofton returns to competition starting at the UNOH 200 in Bristol, Tenn. on Aug. 21 and will run the remaining Camping World Truck Series races with the exception of the event at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park. The season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway could be added to the schedule pending additional sponsorship.
Veteran crew chief Bryan Berry will lead the No. 6 team. Berry has over 200 starts as a crew chief in the NASCAR Nationwide and Camping World Truck Series, working mostly with veteran driver Brendan Gaughan.
You can catch all of the Camping World Truck Series action live on the new Fox Sports1.
It had been 43 years since Richard Petty piloted the No. 43 Plymouth to victory on the dirt surface of the North Carolina State Fairgrounds in Raleigh. It was the last time that one of NASCAR's national series compered on a dirt track.
That was until July 24, 2013, when Austin Dillon returned to the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series to win the 1-800 CarCash Mudsummer Classic Presented by CNBC's Prime the Profit at Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio.
Less than a month after that historic Wednesday night, Dillon ventured to the NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte, N.C., with his crew in tow to unveil the race-winning truck in the Great Hall. The exhibit will be on display for a limited time.
"It's so cool to be in here right now in the Hall of Fame," Dillon told Winston Kelley, who served as the emcee for the event, and the crowd gathered at the facility for the unveiling. "You know, these are all my heroes, so I'm sitting in here with these cars that I'm blown away by and to have one of the trucks at RCR put in here … it's a very special moment for all of our team at RCR."
In addition to the No. 39 American Ethanol Chevrolet he drove to Victory Lane at Eldora, the unique trophy Dillon received for winning and a jar filled with dirt he collected with a gold shovel the track provided shortly after the race are also part of the exhibit.
"The track was really hard, so it was kinda tough to get to shovel down in the dirt, but we got it out of there," said Dillon, the current NASCAR Nationwide Series points leader. "There is dirt inside the trophy, so on the way back in the car there was actually moisture got in the top of the dirt. So, we had to dry it out for a few days, but it's a great trophy. It's really cool."
Dillon, who grew up honing his racing skills at dirt tracks like Eldora, had competed on the half-mile track before in other series. In 2010, he won the pole for the World 100, a dirt late model race.
Dillon will pull double duty this weekend, racing at the inaugural Nationwide Series race at Mid-Ohio while also subbing for the injured Tony Stewart (who, coincidentally, owns Eldora) in the No. 14 Chevrolet in Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race in Michigan.
When the idea was first mentioned to him about putting the truck on display at the NASCAR Hall of Fame, he was a little taken aback that the hall would be interested in showcasing his vehicle -- just as it was at the end of the race. The decision to loan it to the hall, however, had already been made by the time he returned to the garage the following week.
"I walked in the truck shop on Monday and they already had a sticker right on the front -- I think it was my grandfather's handwriting '' that said 'Do not touch, this is going to the hall of fame.' So, I thought that was pretty special and it hadn't been touched since. It's still got the bear bond on the track from kissing the wall a few times and dirt all over it."
No. 15 5-hour ENERGY Toyota Camry driver Clint Bowyer heads to Michigan International Speedway for this weekend’s 400-mile NASCAR Sprint Cup race with a 110 point lead over 11th place in the standings with four races remaining before the start of the Chase for the Sprint Cup.
Bowyer and his team need to finish 34 points better than the 11th-place driver this weekend in order to punch their ticket into the NASCAR playoff. The 34-year old Emporia, Kan. native finished runner up for the 2012 championship, but has no interest in talking about his 2013 championship run until he clinches a Chase spot.
Bowyer learned Tuesday that Brian Vickers will pilot the No. 55 Aaron’s Dream Machine full time in 2014. Vickers will join Bowyer and Martin Truex Jr. to fill out the three car lineup for Michael Waltrip racing.
ON THE CHASE: “We are in a good position right now on the points side, but to be honest I’m pretty superstitious when it comes to talking about anything related to (the Chase) until I know for sure if I’m going to be there. I like our chances, but at the same time a lot can happen in the next couple races. One or two things go the wrong way and we’ll be back fighting for our spot. If and/or when we are fortunate enough to be racing for a championship I’ll answer any questions you have, but right now I’d rather just focus on the race at Michigan this weekend and trying to get our 5-hour ENERGY Toyota to victory lane. Michigan is big for 5-hour ENERGY since they are based in Michigan and that is my focus right now more than anything else.”
ON VICKERS: “Brian Vickers is a great teammate and Aaron’s being back on board is paramount to everything going on. To have these cars funded and funded well with good sponsors and everything that comes with it is huge for all of us. He has done so much in a part time role with the team, which is not easy to do by the way, and he has done it well and even got a win. He has gone through a lot over the last couple years, but he kept at it and came out the other side. That shows you the kind of determination Brian bring to the table. And I can’t say enough about the job that Mark Martin and done and what he has brought to the table over the last two years. He is a machine on and off the track and to call him a teammate and be able to learn from him has been a privilege.”
For the past 21 years, Sam Bass' artwork has been brought to life onboard the No. 24 Chevrolet with Jeff Gordon driving to championships as well as numerous victories together.