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Eric McClure Posts 26th-place Finish at RIR
Racing in “prime time” at Richmond International Raceway, Eric McClure battled a car that was primarily loose throughout the 250-lap event. However, he was still able to overcome his 41st qualifying position to finish the Virginia 529 College Savings 250 as follows:
26th-Eric McClure, No. 14 Hefty®/Reynolds Wrap® Toyota
Starting the race from the 41st position, McClure quickly worked his way through the field and was scored in the 32nd position by lap 10.
In an effort to help the car’s loose-handling condition on exit of the turns, McClure brought the orange and blue Camry to pit road, under the event’s first caution period on lap 36, for four scuffed tires, fuel, and a track-bar adjustment. When the race resumed on lap 44, he was scored in the 31st position.
Although McClure was able to advance one position on the restart, he wasn’t able to further advance his position over the next forty laps as the car was still loose on exit of the turns.
A caution on lap 110 allowed the team to visit pit road for four scuffed tires, fuel, and a chassis adjustment to help the car’s drivability on exit of the turns. After the quick stop, McClure was able to restart the race from the 28th position and remain there through the halfway point.
As the race progressed, the car’s handling greatly improved, and when the caution flag waved on lap 143, McClure was in position to take the “wave around.” The team decided to forfeit this opportunity as they discovered they could complete the remainder of the event on one final pit stop. If the event stayed under green flag conditions, this would be to the benefit of the No. 14 team, but if a caution flag was displayed, the chance to advance more positions would be lost
The team’s plan didn’t work out as hoped, as the caution flag waved just five laps later for a two-car incident, which would bring out the red flag. Once the red flag was lifted, McClure remained on track to restart the race in the 25th position.
Just as the race resumed, the 33-year-old driver quickly slipped to the 28th position and informed the crew of a possible flat tire. After receiving assurance from both the crew chief and spotter that all tires looked inflated, McClure remained on track and went back to work regaining the positions lost.
In the end, he was able to regain two of the position lost to post his best finish at Richmond Int’l Raceway, marking his second track-best finish in as many weeks.
Eric McClure Quotes:
“I am really happy with the way I ran tonight. After practice and qualifying I didn’t think we were going to have a good night, but the guys made some adjustments to the car and we were respectable. This is the best I have ever run at Richmond. We performed better than the finish and are just a few little things away from having consistent, solid results. I am proud of my team and the progress we have made the last few weeks.”
TriStar Motorsports PR
No. 43 Farmland Ford Debuts at Chicago
Aric Almirola will take to Chicagoland Speedway this week with a new look and a new team. His No. 43 Ford will sport the Farmland paint scheme for the first of four races. The Kansas City, Mo.-based producer of pork products is part of the Smithfield Foods family, with which Almirola and Richard Petty Motorsports have celebrated a successful relationship all season.
Sunday's GEICO 400 will also be the first race with new crew chief Todd Parrott atop the No. 43 pit box. Richard Petty Motorsports switched crew chiefs and team members between the Nos. 9 and 43 teams earlier this week.
Farmland's sponsorship of the No. 43 Ford coincides with its 2012 launch of a series of innovative pork offerings, including Oven Perfect Fresh Pork, dry rubbed seasoned and marinated fresh pork that cooks right in the bag; 35% Lower Sodium 33% Less Fat Hickory Smoked Bacon; and Twin-Pack Hickory Smoked Bacon - two half-pound bacon packages, sealed for freshness so one pack can be used immediately while the other half stays sealed for freshness.
"We feel like our partnership with RPM and NASCAR is a perfect fit," said Brendan Smith, Farmland vice president of marketing. "We know how passionate fans are for the sport and how much pride they have when their driver wins the race. We have that same passion and pride when it comes to our pork products. That's why we work side by side with our farmers, hand trim our cuts and use only hardwoods like hickory to smoke our signature bacon for more than seven hours."
The Farmland colors will also adorn the No. 43 Ford at Kansas, Texas and Phoenix this season.
Sunday's race will be Almirola's first Sprint Cup start at Chicago, but he has three starts at the track in the Nationwide Series, including two top-five finishes and one pole. He also has two Chicago starts in the Camping World Truck Series - both top-10 finishes.
Comments from Farmland Ford Fusion Driver Aric Almirola:
"We've done some programs with Farmland already this season, so it feels like we're old friends by now. But it will be great to finally get that paint scheme out on track. They're a cool company, really passionate about what they do, and they recognize that NASCAR fans are really passionate about their teams and their drivers and their sponsors. So they're really excited to be getting involved and we're happy to welcome them.
"I like Chicagoland Speedway and I've always run well there in other series, so I'm looking forward to going back there. It's a mile-and-a-half track similar to some other tracks we go to, but it has its own character. We've learned some things at the last couple intermediate tracks we've gone to, and I know Todd (Parrott) has made good progress with Marcos (Ambrose) on the intermediate tracks, too, so I think we can combine all that information to have a fast Farmland Ford come Sunday."
Comments from Crew Chief Todd Parrott on Chicago:
"Chicago is one of the tracks on the schedule that Aric has not been to in a Cup car, but he's had good results in Nationwide and Trucks, so we've just got to get him acclimated to the Cup car on the track. It's also a track that we now only go to once a year, so it's a rare race in the second half of the season where we don't have notes to look back on from a first race earlier in the year.
"A lot of these mile-and-a-half tracks get referred to as 'cookie-cutter tracks,' but they really all have their own unique characteristics. So it's not like you can take the same set-up to each one of them. Chicago has its own unique shape and has kind of a rough surface to it, so we'll need keep the ride from upsetting the car and also pay attention to tire wear."
Labonte and JTG Daugherty Racing Making Strides with BUBBA burger® on Board at Chicagoland
This weekend BUBBA burger® returns as primary sponsor of JTG Daugherty Racing’s No. 47 Toyota Camry for the GEICO 400 at Chicagoland Speedway scheduled Sunday, September 16.
“BUBBA burger is a great brand and we are fortunate to have them back on our car at Chicagoland Speedway,” said driver Bobby Labonte. “They do a great job of using NASCAR as a platform to promote their brand to our loyal fans.”
President and CEO of BUBBA foods agrees with the 2000 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion.
“NASCAR fans are indeed very brand loyal and being part of NASCAR helps introduce our new product lines,” said Billy Morris president and CEO of BUBBA foods. “Our JTG Daugherty Racing relationship allows us to partner with national brands that work well with our high quality BUBBA products. Our long-standing relationship with co-owner Tad Geschickter and his racing organization brought us back to the team to promote our brand. We’re looking forward to being a primary supporter at Chicagoland.”
In 11 races at Chicagoland Speedway, there have been eight different race winners and 10 pole winners. Labonte’s best finish is 12th with Petty Enterprises in 2002. His best start is 11th, which occurred with Joe Gibbs Racing in 2004 and JTG Daugherty Racing last season.
“Chicagoland reminds me a lot of Kansas Speedway where we ran well until we had a mechanical problem,” Labonte said. “It makes us feel encouraged heading into this weekend. We’ve also had some wind tunnel time and spent time at the seven post rig. We learned some things that we can apply at Chicagoland. We haven’t had good past performances there, but we’re hoping to change that this weekend.”
The Corpus Christi, Texas-native’s immediate goal is to continue to improve results and ultimately find victory lane again. Entering Chicagoland Speedway, he has 21 career wins and his manufacturer Toyota owns 47. His first victory came at Charlotte Motor Speedway during the Coca-Cola 600 in 1995. His last win took place at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 16, 2003.
“Obviously, we’ve got 10 races left this year and we’ve shown better results and had good runs the past few weeks with Brian Burns as crew chief along with Bobby Hutchens being here,” Labonte said. “We’re making strides. We’re a notch ahead of where we were eight weeks ago. The shop is gelling and the communication has improved. Saying all that, really good things are happening.”
The next few weeks are busy for Labonte as he will be making store appearances in race markets. This Thursday, he is stopping by Dominick’s at 950 Brookforest Avenue, Shorewood, IL 60431 to sign autographs for fans from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. ET.
“We really enjoy being able to go into town and visit the stores and meet the fans,” Labonte said.
Labonte is not the only one that is hanging out with the locals this weekend. Jackman Mike Klein hails from the Chicago area. With no off weekends remaining on the schedule, it makes it challenging for crew members to visit their hometowns unless the race falls in the area where they grew up. This weekend is such the case for Klein.
“We’re on the road from February to November, which makes it hard to visit our hometown,” Klein said. “We take advantage of any opportunity we have because for most of us we’re only able to see our family a couple times a year. It is great coming home and being able to visit your family and go to the local spots. It’s also nice to have my uncles and cousins come out to watch the race. They race locally themselves at Rockford Speedway. It’s always nice to see them.”
JTG Daughtery Racing PR
Ryan Newman: Being the Best He Can Be
Ryan Newman and his No. 39 Stewart-Haas Racing team have one goal over the final 10 races of the 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season – to be the best of the rest.
Last Saturday night at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway, Newman and his No. 39 team staged a valiant effort in the final race before the Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship, even leading laps for the first time since their win at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway on April 1.
But the solid eighth-place effort wasn’t the win Newman & Company needed to earn a coveted wild-card spot in the Chase, so Newman and his No. 39 Workshops for Warriors/Gene Haas Foundation Chevrolet are relegated to the outside looking in during this year’s battle for the championship.
While Newman and his team don’t have the chance to make a run for the championship, they still have the next 10 weekends to prove they are the best of the rest, starting with Sunday’s Geico 400 at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Ill.
Newman’s team can’t dwell on the “what-ifs.” Instead, they’re focusing on their goals over the final 10 races of the 2012 season. They want to finish 13th in points, making Newman the highest non-Chase driver in the final standings.
In addition to Newman’s eighth-place effort at Richmond, the No. 39 team has earned six finishes of 11th or better in the last eight races. Newman and his team want to build on their top-10 finish at Richmond and their recent efforts. And, more than anything, they want to contend for wins the remainder of this season.
In 10 starts at Chicagoland, Newman has one pole (2002), one win (2003), two top-five and six top-10 finishes. Four of those top-10 finishes came in his last five starts at the 1.5-mile oval. That’s just the kind of performance Newman wants this weekend at Chicagoland in order to make a run at being the best of the rest as the 13th-place driver come season’s end.
Incidentally, that’s a role Chicagoland Speedway has successfully played in Newman’s career once before in 2003. During his sophomore season, Newman entered the Chicago race with two wins, seven top-10 finishes and five DNFs. He was 16th in points.
That weekend, Newman qualified what he termed a disappointing 14th for the 400-mile event, but determination and strategy played into his team’s favor during the race. In the end, Newman led twice for 67 laps, including the final 58, and won the race in near-dominating fashion. He beat now-teammate Tony Stewart to the checkered flag by more than 2.6 seconds.
For Newman, it was his third race win that season but, more importantly, it gave him and his team a burst of momentum for the second half of the Sprint Cup campaign. The win sparked a run in which Newman collected six victories in just 13 races.
In fact, starting with that Chicago race, Newman finished outside the top-10 only four times during the second half of 2003 (a total of 19 races including Chicago).
That’s just the kind of surge Newman is looking for in this season’s final 10 races.
While Newman’s goal is to be the best of the rest, his No. 39 Chevrolet carries a special paint scheme this weekend that recognizes an organization whose goal is to assist veterans in job training and helps them create the best post-military-service life possible. It’s called Workshops for Warriors and it was founded in San Diego, Calif., by U.S. Navy veteran Hernán Luis y Prado, who recognized and acted upon the need to help veterans find jobs after leaving military service.
The Gene Haas Foundation, formed in 1999 by SHR co-owner Gene Haas, has announced a grant of $50,000 to Workshops for Warriors, which assists the transition of veterans and injured veterans into civilian life through mentorship, training, and education.
In addition to the grant, Haas Automation has also entrusted the program with four Haas-CNC machines and made a donation of eight training simulators with a value of $444,000 to Workshops for Warriors. The money and the machines will be used to establish a machinist training program for military veterans.
Workshops for Warriors is a board-governed nonprofit organization that provides vocational training to veterans of the U.S. Armed Services. This hands-on training, as well as classroom education, ranges from hobby-level skills and access to common tools to fabricating commercially viable products on state-of the art machining systems.
Even though there are still 10 races remaining in the season, Newman and the crew chief Tony Gibson-led No. 39 team are looking ahead only as far as the next race. They know that knocking off the best possible finishes one race at a time will ultimately put the team right where it wants to be when the checkered flag flies at the final race at Homestead-Miami Speedway in November.
Walmart Stores Bring NASCAR Fan Events and Unique Race Time Experiences to Chicago
As Chicago prepares for the upcoming GEICO 400, select Walmart stores will offer authentic NASCAR merchandise and host exclusive fan events starting Sept. 13. Customers are invited to attend these special events and enjoy show car and simulator displays – perfect to safely get behind the wheel and feel the power of NASCAR – Sept. 13-15 from 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., depending on the location.
"Walmart is the champion of the racing fan, and we are committed to providing customers with savings on authentic merchandise, as well as unique race time experiences," said Walmart market manager Paul Feiden. "We want to give fans affordability and accessibility, so they can enjoy race time with their families and friends."
Race Time at Walmart
In addition to the fan events happening in Walmart parking lots, area Walmart stores will feature savings on all the food and snacks you need to enjoy the race, plus authentic NASCAR merchandise such as T-shirts and racing flags, with an even bigger selection of exclusive products available at Walmart.com/NASCAR.
Participating stores near the Chicagoland Speedway include:
Thursday, Sept. 13
Events free and open to the public include the Scott Products Ultimate Tailgate Truck, Budweiser Show Car, Hefty Show Car Simulator, Coors Light Show Car, Wheaties Show Car and Oreo Ritz Show Car at:
333 E. U.S. Route 6
10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Events free and open to the public include the Hellmann's Show Car Simulator, Cheez-It Show Car Simulator, No. 24 Pepsi MAX Chevrolet, No. 88 Diet Mountain Dew Chevrolet, 5-hour Energy Show Car, M&M's Show Car, Sim Pod and Trophy Display, Miller Lite Show Car, Coca-Cola 2-Seat Simulator and Shell-Pennzoil No. 22 Dodge Charger at:
16241 S. Farrell Road
11:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Friday, Sept. 14
Events free and open to the public include the Scott Products Ultimate Tailgate Truck, Budweiser Show Car, M&M's Show Car, Sim Pod and Trophy Display, Coors Light Show Car, Wheaties Show Car and Oreo Ritz Show Car at:
16241 S. Farrell Road
10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Events free and open to the public include the Hefty Show Car Simulator, Cheez-It Show Car Simulator, No. 24 Pepsi MAX Chevrolet, No. 88 Diet Mountain Dew Chevrolet, 5-hour Energy Show Car, Hellmann's Show Car Simulator, Miller Lite Show Car, Coca-Cola 2-Seat Simulator and Shell-Pennzoil No. 22 Dodge Charger at:
2424 W. Jefferson
11:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Saturday, Sept. 15
Events free and open to the public include the Scott Products Ultimate Tailgate Truck, Miller Lite Show Car, 5-hour Energy Show Car, Cheez-It Show Car Simulator, No. 24 Pepsi MAX Chevrolet, No. 88 Diet Mountain Dew Chevrolet, Coca-Cola 2-Seat Simulator, Hellmann's Show Car Simulator and Shell-Pennzoil No. 22 Dodge Charger at:
501 E. Lincoln Highway
New Lenox, Ill.
8 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Events free and open to the public include the Oreo Ritz Show Car, Coors Light Show Car, M&M's Show Car, Sim Pod and Trophy Display, Budweiser Show Car, Hefty Show Car Simulator and Wheaties Show Car at:
2424 W. Jefferson
9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Return to Chicagoland
Kyle Busch will make his 16th start behind the wheel of the No. 54 Kyle Busch Motorsports (KBM) Toyota this week at a track where he has won twice in eight starts in the NASCAR Nationwide Series. Busch is eager to tackle the 1.5-mile intermediate-size Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Ill for the second time this season. The Monster Energy team is coming off a strong run last week at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway, where fellow driver Kurt Busch led the field for 25 laps late in the event. A final event caution unfortunately bunched up the field, and forced the elder Monster Energy NASCAR driver to fight traffic at the end in order to salvage a third-place finish. The positive run was enough to keep this team energized, though, going into week 26 of their 33-event season.
In July, a fast No. 54 race car topped the field several times during practice and team owner-driver Busch yielded a fourth-place qualifying spot. Car conditions changed quickly, however, for the veteran driver and his first-year team, as they were unable to find their sweet spot during the Chicago competition. That, coupled with a late-race accident, relinquished the young team to a 27th-place finish, eight laps down, their fourth DNF of the season.
KBM and the No. 54 crew look forward to another opportunity to change the end result and continue to improve their intermediate-track program. Busch, after all, has five wins in 18 races at the mid-west facility, across NASCAR’s three premiere series. In his time at Chicagoland in the Nationwide Series, he also holds the record for most laps led (397). Not a stranger to being competitive and leading in the ‘windy city,’ Busch is eager for Saturday’s Chicagoland return as he continues to seek that first victory with his team, as the owner and driver of the No.54 machine.
Iowa Speedway is a ‘Track of Dreams’
Growing up in a family that makes its living in the agricultural industry, a race track nestled in the confluent corn fields of Central Iowa serves as a fitting site for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series debut of 25-year-old Drew Herring. Herring - who in July of 2010 made his Nationwide Series debut at Iowa Speedway in Newton - returns to the .875-mile track this weekend, where he will be driving the No. 18 Toyota/Dollar General Tundra for Kyle Busch Motorsports (KBM) in Saturday’s American Ethanol 200.
While getting a feel for the differences between a Nationwide Series Camry and Camping World Truck Series Tundra will pose a challenge for Herring when practice begins Friday night, finding his way around the Rusty Wallace-designed short track shouldn’t be an issue. The North Carolina native has finished in the top 15 in each of his three Nationwide Series starts at Iowa Speedway. In two USARacing Pro Cup Series starts there, he collected two top-10 finishes, including capturing the pole and leading 128 laps en route to a runner-up finish in the 2009 race.
Herring, whose resume includes Late Model championships at two different short tracks, has been able to showcase his driving talent over his three Nationwide Series starts at Iowa. He qualified 15th, made his way as high as fourth for several laps and finished 15th in an impressive series debut in 2010. When qualifying was washed out for last May’s Nationwide Series race, Herring inherited the pole and went on to lead the first 37 laps of the race. He surrendered several positions when he stalled the car on pit road during the first round of pits stops, but was able to battle back to the front and regained the lead on lap 209. The youngster fell back in the late stages of the race and was forced to settle for a 12th-place finish. Last August, he produced his Nationwide Series career-best qualifying effort of fifth and went on to finish 11th.
Although the 25-year-old hasn’t made any starts in 2012, he practiced Kurt Busch’s No. 54 Monster Energy Camry for KBM during last month’s Nationwide Series race at Iowa and qualified the same machine for the May Iowa race. Additionally, he has participated in testing for Joe Gibbs Racing, so he should be able to shake off the rust fairly quickly.
Working with veteran crew chief Eric Phillips, who called the shots for Mike Skinner’s dominant win in the inaugural Iowa truck race, and an experienced KBM crew, should help ease the transition to the seat of a truck for Herring. After a slow start to the season, the 2010 Truck Series Owner’s champs have registered top-10 finishes in eight of the last nine races and the No. 18 Tundra has led the most laps in two of the last three stops on the circuit.
Iowa Speedway has been the site of many firsts during the early stages of Herring’s NASCAR career. When the checkered flag waves at the conclusion of Saturday’s 200-lap race, the youngster is hoping to achieve another milestone at the ‘Track of Dreams’ – his first NASCAR win.
Greg Biffle is from Vancouver, Wash., but he found a second home in Martinsville Tuesday.
Before a large and loud Martinsville High School student body during a pep rally in his honor, Biffle became an “official” Bulldog and was presented with a Martinsville High School football jersey adorned by his car number. He listened as officials from the City of Martinsville and Henry County proclaimed Tuesday “Greg Biffle Day” in the two communities. And he was surprised when it was announced a scholarship had been established in his name to be awarded to a student at the end of the school year.
“It was fun for me to come out and see the 16 on the scoreboard and the cheer the cheerleaders had been working on and all the people in the stands,” said Biffle, who is one of the 12 NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers gunning for the Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship over the next 10 races. He was in town to help kick of the promotion for the Chase for the Sprint Cup and the TUMS Fast Relief 500 at Martinsville Speedway on October 28.
“It was a lot of fun and it was a satisfying feeling to go back and see the excitement and get to talk to the students. It was different from things we usually do and we really enjoyed it.
Biffle made a grand entrance, landing in a helicopter on the 50-yard line of Martinsville High School’s football field. Then, along with the Martinsville Bulldog mascot, he rode around the track in the back of a Ford pickup truck to the front of the stadium stands, packed with screaming students waving signs and banners. He left the truck and entered the stage through a line of Martinsville cheerleaders, performing a special “Biffle” cheer.
Once on stage he was welcomed by Martinsville Speedway President Clay Campbell and then the awards began. Henry County Administrator Tim Hall read a proclamation declaring it Greg Biffle Day in the county, followed by a similar proclamation from Martinsville Mayor Kim Adkins.
Martinsville High School principal Aji Dixon declared Biffle an “official Bulldog” and football co-captains Darius Simmington and Chris France presented him with a Bulldog jersey emblazoned with the No. 16 to match his car. Bulldog officials had to bring the number out of retirement for the occasion. The last time it has been worn was back in the 1980s by quarterback Shawn Moore, who went to be an All-American quarterback at the University of Virginia.
Biffle vowed “I will be wearing this jersey at Martinsville race weekend.”
Martinsville School system superintendent Pam Heath surprised Biffle by announcing a scholarship to be awarded in his name. When Biffle learned Campbell had donated $500 to the scholarship fund, he immediately matched that amount.
Biffle also spent a little time later in the day talking racing, and more particularly racing at Martinsville Speedway.
He admitted his record on the half-mile oval hadn’t been the best.
“This is a fun race track for me, but it’s a challenge. I love challenges and this happens to be one of the most challenging tracks for us.”
He also acknowledged it could get a bit rough in the tight Martinsville turns.
“It’s kind of funny, when we (the drivers) all show up here we basically apologize to each other before hand. We say ‘I know this is not going to go well possibly.’ There’s just so much contact, such close quarters here.”
Martinsville Speedway PR
Martin Truex kicks off chase in Kansas City
To help kick off the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, NASCAR driver Martin Truex Jr. visited Kansas City today and took time to meet with members of the Kansas Army National Guard and also recognize series sponsor, Sprint, for their efforts behind the “Heroes for Hire” program. It was especially meaningful today for Truex, who is a New Jersey native.
“It’s been great meeting with these military men and women today,” said Truex. “I’m so appreciative of what they do every day for us and how they allow us to go out and race cars for a living and the sacrifices they make.”
The Guardsmen and women, Sprint employees and local fans were excited to see Truex, who finished second at Kansas Speedway in April, and wanted to know his thoughts on everything from the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, to the Kansas Speedway reconfiguration, to who the up and coming drivers are, to Twitter.
On the Chase: “I really felt like this was our year and hopefully over the next 10 weeks we can go out and take advantage of the hard work we put in this winter. These final 10 races are going to be a huge challenge. Any of the 12 drivers could get hot at any time. Look at Tony (Stewart) last year – he won five races and won the championship.”
On Kansas Speedway: “Our cars have been good at all kinds of tracks this year, including repaves. We were good at Kansas before they repaved it. I have so much confidence in my team right now, that I’m not concerned about the repave. I feel like we can go anywhere and run well. I’m excited to go back to Kansas and see the changes. I know they added banking to make the high side better and it should be a lot of fun.”
Kansas Speedway PR
Kurt Busch: Sixes and Eights
Luck – good or bad – can wield major influence in the eye of the beholder. It’s a sentiment that has been around since the beginning of time. It exists in a variety of forms and methods and will be associated with actions, inanimate objects, symbols and signs. At the end of the day, luck is simply a name given to events after they have occurred, whether they are fortuitous or calculated. Despite its ambiguous nature, there are those who believe in luck in every corner of the world.
The term “luck” is one that is used in the daily vernacular of a NASCAR driver. A driver and team may experience a bout of bad luck one week and reap the fortunes of good luck the next. Beyond the instances of chance, drivers also believe luck is a result of routines and objects. One driver may eat the same thing for breakfast each race morning in hopes of eliciting good fortune while another may seek good luck via a specific pre-race ritual. Other drivers may carry special trinkets considered to be lucky, or associate themselves with numbers they consider to be lucky, or even find special meaning in things such as starting position or pit-road assignment.
While NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Kurt Busch doesn’t have a lucky number, his past performance at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Ill., indicates a level of fondness for the numbers six and eight. The driver of the No. 51 Phoenix Construction Services Chevrolet for Phoenix Racing goes into Sunday’s Geico 400 at Chicagoland with a total of six top-10 finishes in 11 starts at the 1.5-mile oval. Each of those top-10 finishes have either been a sixth- or an eighth-place effort. One of Busch’s better performances at Chicagoland was one year ago, when he qualified third and led a race-high 64 laps before settling for a sixth-place finish. Ironically, that performance was almost identical to the one Nationwide race Busch ran at Chicagoland during the 2006 season. After qualifying third and leading a race-high 79 laps, Busch ended up with a sixth-place finish when the race came down to fuel mileage that season.
Although he has yet to win a race at Chicagoland, Busch has a great deal of affinity for the facility and the nearby city of Chicago.
Busch is a baseball junkie – a fact that has been well-documented with stories describing his passion for the sport and the fact he has visited every ballpark in the country. Busch is a life-long fan of the Chicago Cubs and has visited historic Wrigley Field numerous times. While Busch is a Cubs devotee, he’s also a fan of the Chicago Bears, who kicked off their season with a 41-21 win over the Indianapolis Colts last Sunday. Busch will be looking for more of the same from his beloved Bears as they take on the Green Bay Packers Thursday night, only he’ll have more on the line as he has a bet on the game with fellow driver Matt Kenseth, a devoted Packers fan. Should the Packers win, Busch will wear a Packers jersey to Sunday’s drivers meeting. If the Bears win, Kenseth will sport a Bears jersey to the meeting.
Although sixes and eights aren’t necessarily the ultimate goals for NASCAR drivers, either finish is considered a good day in the ultra-competitive world of Sprint Cup racing. And multitudes of scores involving sixes and eights will go a long way in helping Busch win his friendly wager on Thursday night.