Steven B. Wilson
Follow us on Twitter @SpeedwayDigest
According to Richard Childress, it goes back to Austin and Ty Dillon’s days racing Bandoleros. Their mother had to separate them in the back seat during a long ride home from Cincinnati, Ohio to North Carolina. Their competitive nature overwhelmed sibling love, at least for the moment.
That competitive nature has served the duo well at Martinsville Speedway, a half mile that demands a willingness to ruffle the feathers of teammates, siblings and rivals alike.
Recently etched into the history books as winners of the 2018 Daytona 500, Austin and Childress are now focusing on the STP 500 at Martinsville Speedway, a race that has seen the 27 year-old post top-5 finishes in consecutive seasons.
“Martinsville is awesome. It is all the drama in the world,” Austin said. “You can’t get enough of it. I wish there were 1,000 Martinsvilles. Beating and banging is a lot of fun.”
Childress noted that Austin’s background on dirt tracks has helped him adapt at Martinsville.
“Austin really likes Martinsville. I think a lot of that comes from running short-tracks back in the day and running a lot of dirt,” Childress said. “You have to have a little car control at Martinsville, especially how to work the throttle and work the brakes and I think he just got accustomed to that from other styles of racing. He really enjoys it. He has a good time there.”
That sibling rivalry could lead to an interesting moment for Richard Childress the grandfather if Austin and Ty ever find themselves up front during the late stages of a race at the Half Mile of Mayhem.
“I think that when it came down to the end of the race if those two were racing each other they’d be aggressive with each other,” Childress said. “They’re very competitive.”
Austin and Ty confirmed Childress’ suspicions when asked if they would spin each other with a grandfather clock trophy on the line.
“If I’m behind Ty with three (laps) to go am I dumping him for the win? I’d wreck about anybody for the win,” Austin said. “Especially at Martinsville to get one of those grandfather clocks and put the 3 back in victory lane. Mom probably wouldn’t talk to me for a while, but maybe she would get over it.”
Ty’s answer was also definitive, and came before the end of the question.
“I’m going to move Austin to win the race. Sorry. He knows it. I know it. It’s going to happen,” Ty said. “No doubt. I don’t care (if mom is mad). Sorry mom, you’ll get over it. Austin, you’ll get over it. But I am going to win the race.”
When it comes to Childress wearing a car owner hat, however, he said he always looks forward to the quick trip across the border from his home in Welcome, NC to Martinsville.
“I’ve always enjoyed going to Martinsville. I always think about the fun trips. It was always just fun,” Childress said. “All our cars have run pretty well up there through history.”
The Dillons and Childress will arrive in Martinsville in just a few weeks with their sights set on a victory in the STP 500.
The STP 500 weekend presented by whosyourdriver.org is March 23-25.
The weekend starts with a practice day for the truck series on Friday, followed by the cup series Hauler Parade.
On Saturday, the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series is in action with the Alpha Energy Solutions 250. Following the race the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series will qualify for Sunday’s STP 500.
The STP 500 is the first Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Race on the East Coast, after the “West Coast Swing” and the first short-track race of the season. Last year, Brad Keselowski won the race, becoming the first driver to win in a Ford at Martinsville since 2002.
Youth 17-and-under are free on Friday and Saturday and $25 on Sunday.
Tickets to both races are on sale and may be purchased by calling 877.RACE.TIX or online at www.martinsvillespeedway.com.
Martinsville Speedway PR
Next month, NASCAR is making its only stop in sunny Southern California, so there is no better time for Auto Club Speedway to name Southern California-based SPY Optic as the Official Sunglasses of Auto Club Speedway and the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Auto Club 400 race weekend scheduled March 16-18, 2018.
“SPY is a recognizable lifestyle brand and our shared passion to create memorable experiences makes this a great fit for us,” said Dave Allen, President of Auto Club Speedway. “Adding SPY to our infield supports our efforts to add value and unique activations for our NASCAR fans to enjoy all weekend.”
SPY Optic will have a large infield activation to interact with the thousands of avid NASCAR fans that make Auto Club Speedway home for four-days during the NASCAR Auto Club 400 weekend. Along with daily giveaways, they’ll host tailgating festivities for infield guests with food, games, and a place to relax and escape the sun.
“Motorsports played an integral role in the creation of the SPY brand and continues to be an important part of our culture today,” says Curtis Ellis, SPY Brand Director. “We’re excited to partner with Auto Club Speedway on a race in our backyard where we can get back to our roots and connect with fans face-to-face at one of the most exciting events of the year.”
Across the NASCAR circuit, Auto Club Speedway’s infield has been described as a “mini-city” with over 1,900 RVs decked out with NASCAR décor, thousands of bicycles cruising, and fans sharing their passion for racing. In addition to NASCAR race weekend, Auto Club Speedway hosts over 300 days of track activity including racing schools, club racing, car shows and other motorsport events.
For a chance to win prizes daily from SPY Optic, stop by their activation area in the infield during race weekend.
out SPY Optic and their therapeutic Happy Lens™ sunglasses, visit www.spyoptic.com.
The 2018 Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 NASCAR weekend in Atlanta gets underway this Friday, Feb. 23, as all three NASCAR national touring series make their highly anticipated return to the historic high banks of Atlanta Motor Speedway. With on-track action all three days of the weekend and a plethora of fan-friendly activities happening both inside and outside the oval, it might be tough to keep track of the many attractions available to fans.
With so much going on and just three days to experience it, AMS has compiled its top-10 can’t-miss attractions for fans attending this weekend’s Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 Weekend.
10. Frontstretch Victory Lane
Continuing a tradition inspired in 2011 when Jeff Gordon scored his 85th career victory at AMS, fans will be able to experience the Victory Lane celebration up close and personal with Sunday’s post-race festivities taking place once again on the speedway’s frontstretch. Once the checkered flag flies for the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500, the winning car and driver will return to the start/finish line, the new home for Victory Lane on Sundays, where fans will be allowed onto the track surface to see and hear the celebration firsthand.
9. Sign the Wall During Pre-Race
Fans interested in setting foot on the famed AMS racing surface will have the unique opportunity to do so, as well as sign the outside wall near the start/finish line on the frontstretch, during the pre-race activities prior to Sundays’s Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500. Like the Victory Lane celebration, fans will be permitted to enter the track via the catchfence gates, where they can autograph the wall and enjoy the pre-race activities in a dedicated area on the frontstretch.
8. AMS Fest
After the on-track action winds down on Saturday, the AMS nightlife heats up. Now in its third year, AMS Fest offers fans and campers alike an opportunity to let loose in a fun, upbeat atmosphere in preparation for Sunday’s Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500. The party, located in the AMS Fan Zone and free to anyone with a ticket to Sunday’s race, will feature NASCAR’s Trackside Live with guest driver appearances, live music, the Speedway Children’s Charities Championship Cornhole Tournament, video racing, air hockey, go-karting, carnival games and tons of free stuff. The after-hours bash kicks off at 6 p.m. following the Active Pest Control 200 Benefiting Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta.
7. Featured Concession Items
Race fans will NOT want to miss some of the specialty concession items at AMS in 2018. You’ll definitely feel like you’re in Georgia when you bite into the famous Clark’s Cluck sandwich. Named after AMS president Ed Clark, this delectable dish is a fried chicken breast served on a potato roll and topped with Applewood bacon, lettuce, spicy ranch and sweet pickles. Plus, new to AMS in 2018 are the Smoked Pork Egg Rolls from Gouda Boys and the mouthwatering barbeque from the food-truck-famous OooWee BBQ.
6. Fan Experience Center
Back by popular demand in 2018, the Fan Experience Center will serve as the main hub for all things race weekend to enhance the at-track experience for fans attending the race. Beyond the wealth of information available for inquiring fans, the Fan Experience Center, located in the Fan Zone, will live up to its name with a full-size replica flag stand, an interactive 10-foot-tall banking display mimicking the angle of AMS’s 24-degree turns, a tire-changing station a gallery of iconic moments in AMS history, and of course, an interactive selfie station.
5. Chris Janson Pre-Race Concert
Platinum-certified country music recording artist Chris Janson will bring his fun, casual country style to the AMS pre-race stage prior to the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 on Sunday for a one-of-a-kind performance full of energy on the frontstretch. Fans can gain stage-front access to see the “Buy Me A Boat” singer perform live with the purchase of a pre-race pit pass, which also offers access to Pit Road, where the entire lineup for Sunday’s race can be viewed and photographed up close.
4. Hauler Parade
While the on-track action gets underway Friday morning, the AMS NASCAR weekend officially kicks off Thursday night in downtown Hampton, Georgia, home of Atlanta Motor Speedway, with the annual Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Hauler Parade. After cruising up East Main Street and back through downtown Hampton, the all-new route for 2018 will take the haulers right through the heart of AMS’s 840 acres, past both the campgrounds and the Fan Zone, for fans on property to enjoy the show. NASCAR Hall-of-Famer Darrell Waltrip will be honored with an induction in to the City of Hampton’s Speedway Lane Hall of Fame at 6 p.m. at Depot Park, before the parade gets underway at 6:30.
3. Driver Autograph Sessions
No sport offers fans the kind of access that NASCAR does, and Atlanta Motor Speedway’s Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 Wweekend is no different. Drivers from the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series will be signing autographs for fans in the AMS Fan Zone at 8:30 a.m. on Saturday, while Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series drivers Joey Logano, Kasey Kahne and Jamie McMurray will also take part in the Kids Autograph Session in the Kids Zone later that day at 10:25 a.m.
2. Speedway Children’s Charities Auction
The Speedway Children’s Charities auction will offer fans the chance to bid on and win an opportunity to take a lap around the 1.54-mile AMS oval with a Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series driver during pre-race activities on Sunday. Those drivers include Chase Elliott, Jamie McMurray, Kasey Kahne, Austin Dillon, Ryan Newman, David Ragan, Kevin Harvick, Clint Bowyer, Martin Truex, Jr., Kyle Busch, Darrell Wallace, Jr., Joey Logano and Denny Hamlin. Other auction items will include pieces of stock-car sheet metal signed by Kurt Busch, Kasey Kahne and Tony Stewart, an autographed wine bottle from the Andretti Winery, driver-signed wall signs and much more. All proceeds from the auction will go towards benefiting local Atlanta-area children in need. The bidding begins at 10 a.m. Sunday morning in the AMS Fan Zone.
1. AMS Fan Zone
The ultimate fan experience at the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 Weekend – other than the race, of course – takes place in the AMS Fan Zone. Open all weekend long, the Fan Zone is the place to be for live music, vendor displays, celebrity appearances, free giveaways, and tons more. Plus, catch Trackside Live on the Folds of Honor QuikTrip Fan Stage, challenge your friends to a go-kart race, play a variety of carnival games by Old Time Carnival and visit the Kids Zone, a place for fans of all ages to enjoy. And the best part? Admission to the Fan Zone is absolutely free.
For more information about the 2018 Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 Weekend or to purchase tickets today, contact the Atlanta Motor Speedway ticket office at (770) 946-4211, (877) 9-AMS-TIX or visit www.atlantamotorspeedway.com.
On the heels of his first-career top-10 finish in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) last weekend at Daytona International Speedway, Justin Fontaine will be sponsored by Superior Essex in Saturday afternoon’s Active Pest Control 200 benefiting Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta at Atlanta (Ga.) Motor Speedway.
Superior Essex (SuperiorEssex.com) is a leading manufacturer and supplier of communications cable and accessory products serving the communications industry and related distribution markets for over 80 years.
“I’m very thankful to have the support of Superior Essex for my Atlanta Motor Speedway debut,” said Fontaine, a native of Asheville, N.C.
“Superior Essex was an instrumental partner during my first full season of ARCA competition last year and I’m grateful they have decided to continue our relationship with a primary role with Niece Motorsports for Saturday afternoon’s race.”
Fontaine, 20, enters the second NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race of the season 11th in the championship standings, just one point from 10th and seven points from fifth.
“I’ve never been to Atlanta, but we’re optimistic,” offered Fontaine who will make his fifth career Truck Series start this weekend. “My crew chief Darrell (Morrow) and the guys on the Niece Motorsports team have been working hard on preparing our No. 45 Superior Essex Chevrolet, and I think start to finish from practice to qualifying and to the race, we’ll make significant gains so that we can contend for another strong finish.”
ProMATIC Automation Inc., the team’s primary marketing partner for Fontaine will serve in an associate role for Atlanta.
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).
For more on Justin Fontaine, please visit JustinFontaine.com, like his Facebook page (Justin Fontaine) or follow him on Twitter @driverFontaine.
Niece Motorsports PR
JD Motorsports with Gary Keller announced today that for the Rinnai 250 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on February 24th and the Boyd Gaming 300 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on March 3rd, Garrett Smithley will drive the No. 15 Chevrolet Camaro and Matt Mills will drive the No. 0 Chevy.
“Matt and Garrett are both very talented drivers with great potential, so I want to give them both the best opportunity to race as competitively as possible,” said team owner, Johnny Davis. “This change will positively affect our entire organization, and all of the drivers and crew chiefs believe that this is the best for our company. We had a fantastic race at Daytona, and I’m ready to follow that up with an incredible weekend in Atlanta.”
JD Motorsports heads to Atlanta with momentum after the No. 0 Flex Tape Chevy finished in the top-five and the No. 4 Flex Seal Chevy finished in the top-ten in the Powershares QQQ 300 at Daytona International Speedway.
Veteran driver Joe Nemechek survived a wild NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Daytona International Raceway to finish in 23rd place driving the No. 15 Fleetwing / D.A.B. Chevrolet Camaro for team JD Motorsports with Gary Keller.
Nemecheck qualified 16th for the Powershares QQQ 300, ran in the top-ten and top-five for much of the race, and had a chance at the win. Unfortunately, the No. 15 Chevy was the victim of one of the record number of crashes in Saturday’s race. Hard work by the JDM pit crew kept the car on track, and Nemechek was able to salvage a top-25 finish.
“I had a great run in Daytona in the No. 15 Fleetwing / D.A.B. Chevy fielded by my friend Johnny Davis,” said Nemechek. “I had a lot of fun out there. It was nice to have a car that was competitive, was fast on the race track, and was very race-y. It was fun to be able to go to the front anytime I wanted to, and I very much thought that we had a shot at a top-five if not a win. It’s unfortunate that we were involved in a wreck there at the end because it was going to be interesting to see how it all turned out.”
Next up for the NASCAR Xfinity Series is the Rinnai 250 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on February 24th, 2018.
Racetracks across the Monster Energy NASCAR Sprint Cup circuit have embarked on ambitious capital improvement projects in recent years to make the country’s most popular form of motorsports even more entertaining for fans and competitors.
Tracks committed tens of millions of dollars toward more comfortable stands, track reconfigurations, new fan zones, better cellular and Wi-Fi signals and improved traffic to make for the ultimate experience. So it’s funny when No. 14 Haas Automation Ford driver Clint Bowyer said drivers and the 70,000 fans attending Sunday’s 500-mile race at Atlanta Motor Speedway will be the biggest winners from an action the track’s management decided not to do in 2018 – repaving the 21-year-old racing surface.
“I thought it was a great idea to patch the up girl and hold on as long as possible because a lot of us aren’t fans of repaves,” said Bowyer who speaks for a majority of the drivers when it comes to a vote on whether to repave the 1.54-mile track in Hampton, Georgia. “Ever since I have been in the sport it seems like Atlanta is the most worn-out track but always produced some of the best racing.”
New track surfaces usually create much better grip and faster speeds that often result in a one-groove race track where passing is difficult resulting in single file racing – something Bowyer says neither drivers or fans enjoy for 500 miles. He says the Atlanta track where the Cup Series will battle on Sunday is just the opposite. It’s slick surface is hard to navigate, but offers several grooves and plenty of passing opportunities.
Bowyer said it doesn’t take long to remember he is racing at Atlanta.
“Atlanta is just one of those places where you get on the track and after the first lap you are like ‘oh my something is drastically wrong’ and you almost want to pit. Then you look up and you are like third on the board and it felt like 53rd. It’s crazy how wore out the track is, but that is what makes for good racing and it puts on such a great show for a long time.”
Bowyer and Stewart-Haas Racing’s (SHR) No. 14 team led by crew chief Mike Bugarewicz hope to improve upon their 15th-place finish the team posted at last weekend’s Daytona 500 where Bowyer suffered engine issues midway through the race. Bowyer showed his No. 14 Ford was one of the fastest on the track and after avoiding two multicar accidents appeared ready to race for the lead in the final stages.
“That’s last week and we are on to Atlanta now,” said Bowyer. “It’s a very long season but we’re confident. We had a good Speed Weeks in Daytona and I think that will continue this weekend in Atlanta and on the West Coast swing in the coming weeks.”
Bowyer is still looking for his first top-five at Atlanta, but that isn’t indicative of his performance history at the track. He led 52 laps at Atlanta during the March 2008 race before finishing sixth. The most heartbreaking moment there came in September 2013, when he led 48 of the first 192 laps before engine failure. In total, Bowyer has led 115 laps at Atlanta but only has four sixth-place finishes to show for the effort. Last year he started 25th at Atlanta but quickly showed he had one of the fastest cars on the track by driving to third with just 85 laps remaining. Fender damage led to a cut tire and a brush with the wall with 50 laps remaining. Bowyer dropped to 15th but climbed to 11th by the time the checkered flag fell.
With the combination of SHR, Ford and a strong No. 14 team, Bowyer is a good bet to better that finish Sunday.
“We showed speed last year. If we are that fast again then I think we’ll have something for them.”
Noted as North Georgia's No. 1 fall family event, the seventh annual Wings Over North Georgia Air Show returns October 13-14 at Rome's Russell Regional Airport.
The U.S. Air Force. F-22 Raptor and A-10 Thunderbolt demonstration teams are featured performers and will serve as co-headliners for the two-day event.
"As the premier Air Show in the Atlanta area, we're all about the roar of loud engines and high-speed events," said John Cowman, president of JLC Air Show Management. "The Wings Over North Georgia Air Show is incredibly excited to partner with JJL Motorsports to sponsor the No. 97 Ford driven by Jesse Little.
"The sponsorship of the truck during the Atlanta Motor Speedway Camping World Truck Series race weekend couldn't be more timely as we will open ticket sales for our seventh annual air show just prior to the Atlanta race."
Saturday's Active Pest Control 200 will mark Little's 14th career Truck Series race and first at Atlanta's 1.5-mile speedway.
The 130-lap race is the first of eight to 10 Truck Series races for the Sherrills Ford, N.C.-based organization this season. Longtime veteran industry expert Matt Noyce will serve as crew chief for the double-header event this weekend.
JJL will also debut their manufacturer switch from Toyota to Ford at Atlanta.
"We're really excited about Atlanta," noted Little who holds a career-best Truck Series finish of ninth at Iowa Speedway last year. "We've made a lot of changes to our team and I think everyone will quickly see the benefits of them, especially our on-track product.
"I'm also very honored to represent the Wings Over North Georgia Air Show. I'm a fan of anything when it comes to speed and aviation is no different. The fitting of this partnership is right, and I hope we can have a strong run on Saturday afternoon to help drive more attention towards their event.
"I'm hoping I can attend."
In addition to Wings Over North Georgia Air Show, Mid Valley Engineering, Performance Friction Brakes, Penske Shocks and Racing Electronics will all serve as associate marketing partners for Atlanta.
Little and his JJL Motorsports plan to be active on their social media channels leading up to Saturday afternoon's race to offer free tickets to the Wings Over North Georgia Air Show and official JJL swag.
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).
For additional information on JJL Motorsports, please visit JJLRacing.com.
Stay tuned for a new JJL Motorsports website, but in the meantime, find JJL Motorsports on Twitter @JJL_Motorsports.
South Florida has always been known for being one of the most diverse and culturally rich communities in the world. Last week prior to the 60th running of the DAYTONA 500, one of South Florida’s leading philanthropic organizations was recognized for its work in expanding opportunities for minorities. The Jason Taylor Foundation’s Omari Hardwick bluapple Poetry Network was honored at the 2018 NASCAR Drive for Diversity Awards in Daytona Beach, Florida.
The foundation was acknowledged for their continued commitment in helping kids in South Florida excel in school through the “Write Track Poetry” program. The non-profit organization, which was founded in 2004, received the Institution Award for their efforts in exposing minorities to motorsports and encouraging the pursuit of opportunities within the motorsports industries.
Since 2016, the bluapple Poetry Network has partnered with Homestead-Miami Speedway and Miami-Dade County Public Schools to hold the Write Track Poetry competition. Throughout the two years of the program, the Write Track Poetry competition has challenged students to write and perform a spoken word piece based on a NASCAR-championship theme. As part of the competition, the bluapple Poetry Network and Homestead-Miami Speedway held pep rallies at the schools in an effort to get students excited about the program.
“Write Track Poetry not only broadens the horizons of youth and introduces them to a space and community they may have never been exposed to previously, but it also validates their stories and affirms them as students, writers, artists and people for years to come,” said Marnino Toussaint, bluapple Poetry Network’s Youth Engagement Coordinator. “As an organization, we are humbled by this Drive for Diversity Award and celebrate NASCAR for recognizing the importance of inclusion and those who work to consistently impact diverse populations.”
In 2017, a total of 13 Miami-Dade County Public Schools participated in the Write Track Poetry competition. During the two years of the program, more than 4,500 students were introduced to spoken word poetry and more than 1,000 students wrote and submitted poems.
In addition to the competition, the Write Track Poetry program has provided a select group of students the opportunity to have their NASCAR-centric writing pieces professionally recorded and produced. The videos of the students are then played prior to the Ford EcoBoost 300 XFINITY Series championship race at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
“The Jason Taylor Foundation’s bluapple Poetry Network, has made a profound impact on the youth of South Florida, and the Write Track Poetry program is a prime example of that,” said Homestead-Miami Speedway President Matthew Becherer. “Poetry is a powerful instructional tool in the classroom that helps students build upon their creative skills, while also expanding their cultural horizons and providing them a platform to express themselves. We are thrilled to have the opportunity to continue our partnership with the bluapple Poetry Network for this great initiative.
Homestead-Miami Speedway PR