Steven B. Wilson

Steven B. Wilson

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In his 11th season with Toyota flagship Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR), Kyle Busch, driver of the No. 18 SNICKERS® Almond Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR), returns to Atlanta Motor Speedway this weekend, the place where the winning began in 2008 with JGR, the SNICKERS® brand of Mars Inc., and Toyota.

 

Back in 2008, his first year with JGR, Busch headed to Atlanta for the fourth Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race of the season aiming to bring home those maiden victories for the team’s two new partners – Mars Wrigley Confectionery U.S. and Toyota.


After leading a race-high 173 laps, the Las Vegas native broke through for the SNICKERS® brand and also for the first time in NASCAR’s top series for Toyota, which was in its second year of Cup Series competition and its first year with JGR.

 

The win also marked the end of a 147-race drought for JGR’s No. 18 team, and it was Busch’s first of 39 Cup Series wins for JGR to date. Busch now has 162 overall wins among NASCAR’s top three series driving Toyota vehicles – 39 in the Cup Series, 80 in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, and 43 in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. Add his 21 wins prior to joining JGR at the beginning of 2008 and Busch is at 183 combined Cup, Xfinity and Truck Series wins, and counting.

 

It was déjà vu all over again for Busch and the No. 18 team at Atlanta in 2013 as he led 36 laps en route to his 100th career win in a Toyota and his 24th Cup Series win with JGR.

 

This weekend, Busch will debut the SNICKERS® Almond scheme. Available at retailers nationwide, SNICKERS® Almond Bar handles hunger with a satisfying combination of roasted almonds, caramel and milk chocolate. For more information on SNICKERS® or the Almond variety, fans can visit SNICKERS® on Facebook or Twitter.

 

Busch and his entire No. 18 SNICKERS® Almond Toyota Camry team hope to add to their winning ways at Atlanta by rolling up their collective sleeves as they try to rekindle the magic from 2008 and 2013 in Sunday’s Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500.

 

So, as the Cup Series heads back to Atlanta, Busch and the SNICKERS® Almond team will undoubtedly be feeling just a bit nostalgic with the SNICKERS® colors on the racecar, all the while recalling those 2008 and 2013 race wins at the 1.5-mile oval where the winning all began.

 

TSC PR

When it comes to iconic NASCAR car numbers, your first thought is probably Dale Earnhardt, Jr. when you see 88, Jimmie Johnson when you see 48, and Richard Petty when you see 43. Each one a motorsports legend now and forever, they’ve given meaning to those numbers through countless memorable performances over the span of their careers.

As for the No. 9, it’s without a doubt the Elliott family from Dawsonville, Georgia who immediately comes to mind. Both NASCAR Hall-of-Famer, Bill, and son, Chase, have made the 9 synonymous with success through two generations of racing, touching parts of six decades along the way. In the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway this Sunday, Chase will reignite the legacy of the Elliott 9 racing in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series in Atlanta for the first time in nearly 15 years.

The elder Elliott used No. 9 when he arrived on the NASCAR scene in the spring of 1976. Building a legacy from the very beginning, he used the now iconic number in both of his Daytona 500 wins in 1985 and 1987, his 1988 Winston Cup Series championship, his 2002 Brickyard 400 victory and for seven of his record 16 Most Popular Driver seasons.

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Though he ran different car numbers at different points throughout his career, the unassuming driver from the North Georgia mountains will always and forever be associated with the 9. It became more or less a trademark that carried with it an air of a true family racing tradition.

When Chase burst onto the racing scene not much more than a decade ago, he took after his father both with his innate skill as a driver, and with the same number festooned to the side of his car. Beginning with karts and then Bandolero cars in Atlanta Motor Speedway’s Thursday Thunder program in the late 2000s and continuing up through Legends racing, late-model competition, the ARCA Racing Series and eventually into the lower levels of NASCAR, the younger Elliott always sported the No. 9 or a variation of it, just like his Dad.

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In 2014, Chase won three XFINITY Series races, Rookie of the Year honors and the overall series championship with the 9 on his door and did similarly well in the same series a year later in 2015. By that point, as far as anyone anywhere in the motorsports world was concerned, Chase had done plenty to carry the legacy of the Elliott 9 well into another decade and another generation, with lots of racing still left to do.
    
“The No. 9 being what it is, is special to me just because of the history I've had with it,” said Elliott. “Obviously, I would have never chosen that number to start racing with if it wasn't for my dad. I have a lot of history with it myself with our XFINITY Series championship in 2014, and all my short track races were all in that number. It's just kind of home to me.”

So it was somewhat strange when, in 2016, Chase Elliott stepped into the No. 24 car for Hendrick Motorsports in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series after four-time series champion Jeff Gordon called it a career at the end of the 2015 season. Of course, though, it was an immense honor for a young rookie driver to inherit the number the great Gordon had made eternally famous over the course of his highly lucrative career.

“I’m just very honored that he is supportive and is OK with me driving that number that he’s done so much to make it what it is,” said Elliott at the time. “I think it’s an honor for me more than anything. Jeff wanted the 24 car to stay at Hendrick Motorsports, and for a guy who has been around and has done everything he’s done to make this place (HMS) what it is, how can you not have respect for that?”

And so for two years, Elliott drove the No. 24 car at the top level of NASCAR competition. And despite going winless through both of those seasons, he excelled as a young driver taking on the best of the very best, racking up 38 top-10s, 22 top-fives and even winning the pole position in each of his first two Daytona 500 appearances.

Still, Elliott lived under the shadow of “Gordon’s” No. 24 and the legacy he had left after more than 20 years at the top of the sport.
 
Then, in 2017, when it was announced that Kasey Kahne would not be returning to Hendrick Motorsports in 2018 and that William Byron would replace him at the four-car Cup Series team, an opportunity presented itself for Elliott to reassume more familiar numerical territory. In an announcement leading into NASCAR’s “throwback” weekend at Darlington Raceway in the fall of last season, the Hendrick shop revealed plans for Byron to take over the No. 24 the following season and for Elliott to return to his roots and the venerable No. 9.

“I wasn’t sure I’d ever drive the 9 again, Elliott said. “It’s a huge deal to my family and everyone back home (in Georgia), and I hope all of our fans will be pumped to see it back on the racetrack. There’s a legacy attached to that number, and I want to carry it on. I think it’s awesome that Hendrick Motorsports wanted to do this. It’s impossible not to be excited.”

Combined with the opportunity to revivify a longtime family tradition and a release from the pressure of running the renowned No. 24, Elliott was glad to begin a new chapter as he entered his third season in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series in 2018.

“It’s a great opportunity for me,” he said. “It’s definitely home for me in that number. It’s what I started racing with. It’s the number I have really always run except these last two years, so it’s pretty special. The history is certainly there, and I am excited to carry it forward.”

His Hall-of-Fame dad couldn’t agree more.

“It was a great opportunity for us to have Chase use Jeff’s (Gordon) number the last couple of years,” said Bill, “but for me, it’s fun to see him in the 9 car. I grew up driving the 9 all of those years and I’ve watched Chase drive the 9 at the short tracks and then through the XFINITY Series and then on to drive the 24 in the Cup Series. I think it will be fun. I think it will be really well received from the fans. I’m really looking forward to it.”

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The funny thing, though, is not only will Chase be following in his father’s footsteps as far as the number on the side of his car, but he has, in many ways, mirrored the start of Bill’s Cup Series career when it comes his results on the track.

Though both were formidable foes and could run alongside the best drivers on the track in their early years in the series, the wins did not – and haven’t – come easy for either Elliott in Cup Series competition.

It took Bill 116 races and eight runner-up finishes before he visited Victory Lane for the first time in 1983. Similarly, through 77 Cup Series starts over two-plus seasons, Chase has finished third or better 13 different times – and has had his fair share of bad luck after great runs – without scoring a win.

“Actually, there's some similarities in how he (Bill) got started,” said Chase. “He finished second a lot before he won a race too. Kind of weird.  But I think I've run second almost as many times as he has before he won his first race. I think that's probably the biggest similarity we've had so far.”

It must run in the genes.
  
But whether or not his naturally modest demeanor will allow, he knows that first win is well within reach. With his superior on-track abilities, a strong history of winning in the Hendrick Motorsports shop and some of the best in the business putting fast race cars underneath him week in and week out, it’s never been a matter of “if” he’ll win at the Cup Series level, but when.

“You never know what tomorrow brings, much less a couple years down the road,” Elliott said about his career outlook. “But I think I'm fortunate to be in a situation where (car owner) Mr. (Rick) Hendrick has put a lot of trust in me to do well. He's had a reputation – his company – of winning, winning championships, winning races. I haven't really done that for him, but I'd love to do my part.”

Will being in the No. 9 going forward be that magical missing piece he needs to push himself over the edge and finally into Victory Lane?

“I don’t think so,” he said frankly. “I can’t see the outside of the car from the inside. So, at the end of the day, is it going to make me go any faster? No, probably not. Do I think it looks better? Yes, I do. Is it my favorite number? Yes, it is. Has it always been my favorite number? Yes, it has been. So, all those things are great. I’m very luck and honored to carry the number that I’ve carried for a number of years before this year, so it’s like getting back home to me from that sense. But no, I don’t think it’s going to make me go any faster or slower.”

Still, it’s can’t hurt to try something new, especially when it means so much to so many people, driver and family included.

“I think anybody that’s followed me for any period of time probably associates me with that number, and I think it just fits. I mean, if you could choose your favorite number to race with, I think everybody would, wouldn't you?

Good point.

His father won three times at Atlanta driving the No. 9 car in the 1980s, and if Chase has anything to do with it this weekend, he’ll follow yet again in the footsteps of Awesome Bill and put the 9 back in the same Victory Lane he did so many times in a Bandolero car not all that long ago.

AMS PR

The 2018 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season is off to an event-filled start for Aric Almirola and the No. 10 Smithfield Ford Fusion team. After a busy week and a half in Daytona Beach, Florida, the season kicked off Sunday with the 60th running of the Daytona 500. Almirola found himself in the middle of a thrilling finish in “The Great American Race” and, after an 11th-place finish, he now turns his focus on this Sunday’s race at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
 

The Tampa, Florida, native was leading heading into turn three on the final lap of Sunday’s Daytona 500 before contact from behind from the racing-winning car of Austin Dillon sent Almirola into the outside SAFER Barrier. Despite the last-lap accident, Almirola feels he’s already off to one of the best starts in his Cup Series career.
 

This weekend at Atlanta marks the start of NASCAR’s bread-and-butter style of tracks – 1.5-mile ovals. The intermediate tracks fulfill the majority of the 36-race-weekend schedule and it will be the first true test for the No. 10 Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) team. In January, Almirola and the team led by crew chief Johnny Klausmeier participated in a Goodyear tire test at Texas Motor Speedway for their first unofficial track time as a unit. With a solid 1.5-mile test under their belt, Almirola and the Smithfield team look to carry that momentum into the second race of the 2018 season.
 

Almirola will hit the old Atlanta track surface this weekend looking to improve his current highest finishing position of ninth at the Hampton, Georgia track. The 33-year-old has made seven Cup Series starts from which to glean experience at the 1.54-mile oval and he’s completed 98.2 percent of the possible laps.
 

Smithfield, a brand of Smithfield Foods, which is based approximately five hours northeast of SHR headquarters in Smithfield, Virginia, enters its seventh season with Almirola and first with SHR. The company will once again adorn the No. 10 Ford Fusion this weekend at Atlanta. Founded in 1936, Smithfield is a leading provider of high-quality pork products, with a vast product portfolio including smoked meats, hams, bacon, sausage, ribs, and a wide variety of fresh pork cuts.
 

In addition to his Cup Series starts, Almirola has three Xfinity Series races under his belt at Atlanta. In his Xfinity Series career, the newest SHR driver completed 550 of 553 possible circuits around the track. Almirola also has made four starts in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series at Atlanta with two top-five finishes.
 

Although several mile-and-a-half tracks have gone through track surface repaves, Atlanta is one that officials made the decision not to repave. The current rough and aged surface facilitates several racing lines and allows more passing opportunities than freshly repaved tracks, making for a more entertaining race for fans.
 

Almirola knows the importance of every race weekend and is looking forward to the second stop of the year on the NASCAR Cup Series circuit with the No. 10 Smithfield team. “It’s incredible to have a team like this that has had so much success and won championships and won races,” he said. “To have all of that at my fingertips is really a dream come true. I’m so excited about getting the season going. I’m a firm believer in talk is cheap and actions speak louder than words, and I just want to get in the racecar and go race.” 
 

This weekend’s event is the eighth Cup Series race Almirola has participated in at Atlanta and it marks his 246th Cup Series start in his young career.

 

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A year ago, Kurt Busch and his No. 41 Monster Energy/Haas Automation Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) arrived at Atlanta Motor Speedway fresh off the biggest victory of his illustrious Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series career.

 

And the newly anointed 2017 Daytona 500 champion took a rather circuitous route to the outskirts of Atlanta, having crisscrossed the nation on the traditional celebratory media tour for the days leading up to last year’s Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500.

 

This year, Busch’s thoughts and those of the rest of his Monster Energy/Haas Automation teammates made a beeline to the 1.54-mile Atlanta oval upon stepping out of his wrecked racecar during the closing laps of last weekend’s renewal of the Daytona 500.

 

Understandably so, a small part of Busch and his teammates arrive for this weekend’s race knowing that, with just a lap and a half to go last Sunday in “The Great American Race,” they were in position to be the first to win back-to-back Daytona 500s in almost a quarter of a century, and for only the third time ever. Busch and his team mounted a solid defense of their 2017 Daytona 500 win, having scored the Stage 1 victory and leading three times for 16 laps to bring Busch’s career total of laps led on the 2.5-mile superspeedway oval to 307. He firmly held his position among the top-three during the closing moments, leading laps 195 and 196 of the scheduled 200-lap event and eyeing a final sprint to the checkered flag. But, coming to turn two on lap 198, Busch was clipped from behind and spun out of contention in the multicar melee that ensued. He was credited with a 26th-place finish.

 

With Atlanta next on the schedule, this year’s Daytona disappointment quickly turns to confident anticipation for Busch as he long has lauded the track referred to as “Hotlanta” as his favorite. He’s scored two of his three career Atlanta wins during the month of March – in 2009 and 2010. In addition to that pair of wins, Busch also won there in October 2002, and his overall record at Atlanta is certainly noteworthy, featuring six top-five finishes and 12 top-10s in 26 starts. He’s led at least one lap in 12 different races for a total of 749 laps led, has failed to finish a race on only three occasions, and has completed all but 629 laps run in his 26 starts for a lap-completion rate of 92.5 percent.

 

Most recently, Busch has finished outside the top-10 just twice – 13th in both 2012 and 2014 – in his last eight Atlanta outings, recording one pole in 2016, and scoring one win, four top-five finishes and six top-10s.

 

So, with an oh-so-promising but ultimately disappointing Speedweeks at Daytona in the rearview mirror, it’ll be a welcome breath of fresh air for Busch and the No. 41 Monster Energy/Haas Automation Ford Fusion for SHR on the outskirts of Atlanta this weekend.

 

TSC PR

A dramatic, runner-up finish in the 2018 DAYTONA 500 by the first full-time African-American driver in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series since 1971 will be chronicled in the final two episodes of “Behind the Wall: Bubba Wallace,” the new docu-series on Facebook Watch.

The final episodes in the original series will post at 12 p.m. ET on Thursday, February 22, and can be viewed by following the Behind the Wall: Bubba Wallace show page. The first six episodes, which premiered last week, are available now on demand. 

In his first start in the Great American Race, Wallace edged out 2016 DAYTONA 500 champion Denny Hamlin to take second place in the sport’s most prestigious event, which was won by driver Austin Dillon. The result marks the best-ever finish by an African-American driver in the DAYTONA 500.

Both the lead-up to Wallace’s debut in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, including a third-place finish in his Can-Am Duel qualifying race, and his emotional press conference after the DAYTONA 500 will be featured in the series’ final episodes on Facebook Watch.

“The whole experience of my first DAYTONA 500 was amazing,” said Wallace. “Through Facebook Watch, fans are going to be able to see what I went through leading into Sunday’s race and after it. It’s really cool to be able to share those moments and emotion with all our fans. Everyone needs to check it out.”

The first six episodes of “Behind the Wall: Bubba Wallace,” produced by NASCAR Productions, follow Wallace’s road to Daytona International Speedway – from his earliest racing days to his debut as the new full-time driver of the No. 43 Click n’ Close Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 for Richard Petty Motorsports.

The series follows Wallace in the months and weeks leading up to the 2018 season, including encounters with team owner and NASCAR Hall of Fame driver Richard Petty, Charlotte Hornets rookie Malik Monk and close friend and fellow NASCAR driver Ryan Blaney. 

In the final episodes, the cameras capture Wallace as the clock ticks down to the biggest race of his life, including a surprise, pre-race phone call from pro baseball legend and fellow Alabama native Hank Aaron.

Following the dramatic final lap and Wallace’s second-place finish, the series documents a teary-eyed reunion between the driver and his mother as she interrupts his press conference to congratulate him.

“For years to come, fans will remember Bubba Wallace’s performance in the 60th running of the DAYTONA 500,” said Evan Parker, NASCAR managing director, content strategy. “On Facebook Watch, we’re giving fans unfiltered access to a NASCAR star in the making – straight from the perspective of Bubba himself.”

Prior to graduating to NASCAR’s top series, Wallace competed in the NASCAR Xfinity Series. In October 2013, he won the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Martinsville Speedway to become the first African-American driver to win a NASCAR national series race since NASCAR Hall of Fame driver Wendell Scott in 1963.

In 2012, Wallace became the first graduate of the NASCAR Drive for Diversity development program to compete in a NASCAR national series race. Since then, he’s won six NASCAR Camping World Truck Series races.

Facebook Watch is a video platform created to bring episodic content, community and conversation together on Facebook. The platform is home to a wide variety of sports shows, including reality, documentary and live sports.

NASCAR PR

In a move toward attracting more young people to racing, South Boston Speedway announced today a restructuring of youth ticket prices for the 2018 season.

Beginning with the season-opening Danville Toyota Twin 100s on March 24, children 12 and under will be admitted free to all South Boston Speedway events. Youngsters must be accompanied by a paying adult.

“Everyone in racing needs to do everything we can do to get more young people involved in our sport” said South Boston Speedway General Manager Cathy Rice. “This is a way for us to make race night more affordable for parents. With our new pricing, a night of racing at South Boston Speedway will be one of the most affordable nights of family entertainment anywhere in the area.”

In the past, children six and under were admitted free while admission for children 7-12 was $5.

With a new playground unveiled last year, Rice said youngsters have something to keep them busy if they need a break from the racing action.

“We know that sometimes children have short attention spans. That’s the reason we built the new playground. Now if they get tired of watching the race, they can head over to the playground and have fun playing,” said Rice.

Racing returns to South Boston Speedway on March 24 with the Danville Toyota NASCAR Whelen Late Model Twin 100s featuring twin 100-lap races for Late Models, a 50-lap race for the Limited Sportsman Division, a 30-lap race for the Budweiser Pure Stocks and a 15-lap race for the Budweiser Hornets.
SOBO PR

The Monster Monument at Victory Plaza, presented by Smithfield, is known around the sporting world as the symbol of Dover International Speedway, one of the unique venues in all of motorsports.

Now, charities and non-profit organizations have the opportunity to promote their causes using one of the mid-Atlantic’s most recognizable landmarks.

A handful of months per year, the Monster Mile will light up the Monster Monument in the dominant color of certain organizations, causes or special community events and holidays.

“We consistently receive tremendous feedback when we light up Miles,” said Dover International Speedway President and CEO Mike Tatoian. “We have decided to make it an ongoing effort so we can, literally, bring light to so many organizations, causes, events and holidays.”

Colors already scheduled in 2018 include:

  • Green – (Philadelphia Eagles win Super Bowl, St. Patrick’s Day; February and March)
  • Blue – (Autism Awareness; April)
  • Pink – (Breast Cancer Awareness; October)

Organizations can make suggestions and requests in several ways, including using the hashtag #LightUpMiles on social media and sending recommendations to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Please note that there is no application process but the Speedway will keep a list of appropriate requests and use those suggestions whenever appropriate.

If an organization is selected, in addition to lighting up the Monster Monument, it can receive the following:

  • Tickets to upcoming NASCAR tripleheader weekends
  • An ad in the Dover souvenir program
  • Table space along the vendor midway on NASCAR weekends
  • An auction/donation item

Built in 2008, the Monster Monument stands 46-feet tall and is the largest fiberglass statue at any sporting venue in the world. The base of the monument pays tribute to race winners at Dover International Speedway and features dedications to legendary drivers who are recognized for their special accomplishments earned on the Monster Mile’s high-banked, one-mile concrete oval.

Dover International Speedway is hosting two NASCAR tripleheader weekends in 2018, on May 4-6 and Oct. 5-7.

In the Spring, the “AAA 400 Drive for Autism” Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race is set for Sunday, May 6, preceded by the “OneMain Financial 200” NASCAR XFINITY Series race on Saturday, May 5 and the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race on Friday, May 4. In the Fall, the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series playoff race is set for Sunday, Oct. 7, preceded by the NASCAR XFINITY Series race on Saturday, Oct. 6 and the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East race on Friday, Oct. 5.

For tickets or more information, call 800‐441‐RACE or visit DoverSpeedway.com. You can also keep up with the Monster Mile at Facebook.com/DoverInternationalSpeedway, or on Twitter and Instagram at @MonsterMile.

Dover Motorsports PR

Veteran racer Akinori Ogata (@AkinoriOgata) returns to the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) trail this weekend at Atlanta (Ga.) Motor Speedway driving the No. 63 MB Motorsports Chevrolet Silverado for Saturday afternoon’s Active Pest Control 200 benefiting Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta.

The Kanagawa, Japan native is set to embrace his seventh career NCWTS start and first since an appearance at Atlanta’s fast 1.5-mile speedway last March.

“I’m very thankful to be competing back in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series,” said Ogata who resides in Mooresville, N.C.

“I’m grateful to be back with Mike Mittler and MB Motorsports and look forward to a solid outing on Saturday afternoon.”

Motorsports veteran Rick Ren will serve as crew chief for the second Truck Series race of the season.

Four of Ogata’s career Truck Series starts have come for the St. Louis-based MB Motorsports.

His career best Truck Series finish also came with the mainstay organization at New Hampshire Motor Speedway (NHMS) in his team debut in 2015.

Rewinding back to Atlanta last year, the 44-year-old drove for Beaver Motorsports, started 32nd but finished 30th after exiting the event due to an oil leak. This year, Ogata has high hopes for a better result.

“Even though I didn’t have the chance to run the entire race, the track time at Atlanta was priceless,” he explained. “It’s a very sensitive track because of its worn surface. I’m relying on my team and crew chief to help me get into a comfortable and competitive rhythm, so we can make some gains during the race and have a solid finish.”

Ogata’s efforts this weekend at Atlanta will be supported by Nisshinbo.

Nisshinbo Automotive Manufacturing Inc. (NAMI) is part of the Nisshinbo Group, consisting of 59 subsidiaries and 40 affiliates worldwide. Nisshinbo was established in 1907, when it was producing yarns and threads.

In the 1940s, Nisshinbo was called upon to manufacture automotive friction materials and developed a process using woven fabric embedded with friction material. As the automobile has evolved, so have Nisshinbo brakes and friction materials to serve diverse applications in the global transportation market. Nisshinbo continues the evolution with a library of more than one thousand different recipes, each specific to customer applications.

North American operations are dedicated facilities serving OEM transportation manufacturers in the NAFTA market. NAMI is Nisshinbo's state-of-the-art facility located in Covington, Georgia.

Additionally, SEAVAC, a supplier of PVD coatings and other surface technologies will serve as an associate marketing partner for the 130-lap race.

“I’m very grateful to have Nisshinbo and SEAVAC support me this weekend at Atlanta,” sounded Ogata. “We didn’t have the best result last year at Atlanta and I owe to both of them to see the checkered flag on Saturday afternoon to express my appreciation.”

Ogata began his racing career in Japanese Motocross at age 14. After a decade of riding that included around 30 feature victories, he shifted to Dirt Midget Car racing, becoming a winning driver at Twin Ring Motegi.

Ogata's assimilation to American racing began in 2003, driving Late Model Stock Cars at North Carolina's Hickory Motor Speedway. He continued in Late Models after moving to the United States in 2010 and later graduated to the NASCAR's K&N Pro Series East, where he competed in 12 races over three years, scoring five top-20 finishes.

Since graduating from the K&N Pro Series East, Ogata has competed in at least one Truck Series race since 2014.

For more on Akinori Ogata like his Facebook page (Akinori Ogata Racing) or follow him on Twitter @AkinoriOgata.

The Active Pest Control 200 benefiting Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta (130 laps / 200.2 miles) is the second of 23 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series races on the 2018 schedule. Practice begins on Fri., Feb. 23 from 2:00 p.m. – 2:55 p.m. A final practice session is set for 4:00 p.m. – 4:50 p.m. Qualifying is set for race day, Sat., Feb. 24 beginning at 10:35 a.m. The 32-truck field will take the green flag shortly after 4:30 p.m. with live coverage on FOX Sports 1, the Motor Racing Network (Radio) and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio (Satellite Radio, Channel 90).

Akinori Ogata PR

Brendan O'Brien, public relations and marketing professional, has been named Marketing Specialist for Memphis International Raceway (MIR).

O'Brien brings seven years of experience to MIR, including a broad marketing background with specific expertise in digital and social media. Throughout his career, he has helped a variety of brands and companies establish and expand their digital marketing efforts, maximizing results through strategic marketing solutions, analytics, social media and brand engagement.

O'Brien graduated from the University of Arizona with a bachelor of arts in 2010. He worked as a Client Associate with Merrill Lynch in Phoenix, and served as Senior Digital Manager for the online marketplace LivingSocial.com in Tucson, Ariz., for four years. In December 2015, he moved to Memphis after accepting a position as Email Marketing Specialist for Archer Malmo, a leading public relations agency with offices in Memphis and in Austin, Texas. He is an avid motorsports enthusiast who is excited to bring his skills and experience to the team at MIR.

He will report directly to MIR President, Pam Kendrick, in his new position.

"Brendan is a motivated individual who is determined to build strong relationships and doesn't shy away from leadership roles," Kendrick said. "His experience with social engagement and analytics, strategic marketing and brand engagement is valuable in making sure our racers, fans and partners receive maximum value from our events."

Among his duties, O'Brien will maximize the presence of Memphis International Raceway through social media and create marketing strategies at the grassroots level, as well as working with both local and national media.

MIR PR

Race fans and music lovers will come together again this summer to celebrate three weekends of world-class entertainment at Iowa Speedway. The NAPA Auto Parts Concert Series returns for the fourth consecutive year, featuring a star-studded lineup complementing seven thrilling races. As in seasons past, each installment of the NAPA Auto Parts Concert Series will take place at the Party Pavilion following the conclusion of the first race of each event weekend.

“This lineup of music heavy-hitters for the fourth NAPA Auto Parts Concert Series is a testament to our mission of offering a compelling racing product while enhancing the overall fan experience,” said Iowa Speedway President David Hyatt. “The return of the NAPA Auto Parts Concert Series is simply another way for fans to enjoy a full weekend at Iowa Speedway beyond the racing.”

The 2018 NAPA Auto Parts Concert Series kicks off on Saturday, June 16, following the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Iowa 200. After the stars of the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series find the “Eye of the Tiger,” Iowa Speedway fans will see “The Search is Over” as rock legend, Survivor, takes center stage at the Party Pavilion overlooking Turn 4 immediately following Casey’s General Store’s Victory Lane celebration.

Ultimate guitar-shredding showman, Ted Nugent, will keep fans cheering following the conclusion of the ARCA Racing Series Iowa 150 on Saturday, July 7. INDYCAR will speed things up the following day with the 12th running of the Iowa Corn 300, as the stars of the Verizon IndyCar Series solidify Iowa Speedway’s affirmation as the Fastest Short Track on the Planet.

The NAPA Auto Parts Concert Series will close out in style on Friday, July 27, highlighted by rising country music star Dylan Scott. Scott’s friendly charm and rhythm and blues-inspired music will be on full display following the NASCAR K&N Pro Series Casey’s General Store 150.

Anchoring the 2018 season is the NASCAR Xfinity Series U.S. Cellular 250 on July 28. After the roar of the engines has subsided, Iowa Speedway will host its fifth annual Post-Race Party on the Frontstretch. A tradition born in Iowa – opening the catchfence for fans to party on the track – has become universally revered by everyone.

Season, Weekend and Individual Event tickets are on sale. Payment plans are available and offer great flexibility to fans who want to pay over time. Iowa Speedway is committed to maximizing the value of the investment made by our fans. To that end, there have been no price increases for the 2018 season; all products and packages have retained their 2017 season prices.

Iowa Speedway PR