Tuesday, Dec 05
Speedway Digest Staff

Speedway Digest Staff

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NTS Motorsports has released Ron Hornaday, Jr. of his driving duties, following the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Phoenix International Raceway. The driver for the No. 9 NTS Motorsports truck will be announced prior to the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway.


"We at NTS Motorsports appreciate everything Ron (Hornaday) has done this year to help build NTS Motorsports in its first year competing at the national level in NASCAR," said team owner Bob Newberry. "Ron has been a great asset to our organization and we wish him the best in his future endeavors."


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In his track debut at Phoenix International Raceway, Jeb Burton showed improvement as he learned the ins and outs of the track, but trouble in his qualifying effort left the 21-year old rookie in the 24th position for the start of the Lucas Oil 150.


Following a tough finish at Texas Motor Speedway last weekend, Burton and his No. 4 Turner Scott Motorsports team came prepared and even more motivated to finish the season on the right foot. Relying on his crew, teammates and footage from last year's NSCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) race at Phoenix, Burton hit the track for 24 laps during the weekend's first practice session. After getting acquainted with the 1.0-mile loop, Burton and his team made several adjustments to the No. 4 truck before becoming fourth fastest on the speed charts in the final practice session. In his qualifying effort, however, the young driver struggled with handling issues, which placed him in the 24th position for the start of Friday night's race.


As the green flag dropped for the Lucas Oil 150, the track quickly went yellow after a spin occurred on the first lap. Burton gained several track positions on the restart before reporting to crew chief Mike Hillman Jr. that his Arrowhead Chevrolet was free on entry. Continuing to make passes, spotter Kevin Hamlin told Burton that he noticed his struggle on entry, but other than that, he was running extremely smooth. Under the second caution, Burton came to pit road and gained eight spots after receiving two right-side tires and fuel. Restarting from the seventh position, Burton battled to gain position, but ultimately settled in eighth for a long green-flag run.


Burton, dominating Turns 3 and 4 but still struggling on entry, made his way back to pit road when the track went yellow on lap 87. While other competitors took only two tires, Hillman called for four new Goodyear tires along with fuel, which placed Burton in the 10th position on the restart. Settling into the eighth position once again after another caution, the No. 4 truck faced loose-handling conditions for the duration of the night. After a final caution left the field with a 10-lap race to the finish line, Burton and two competitors went three-wide, causing the No. 4 truck to drop track position with just two laps remaining. Although the rookie driver hoped for a single digit finish in his track debut, Burton ended the night in 11th place as the checkered flag waved.


"We'll take an 11th-place finish tonight but we should've ended in eighth," said a discouraged Burton. "The restarts at the end killed us and when we went three-wide, I had to either give up track position or go into the wall. Overall, it was a solid points night for us though. We'll try to hang on to it next week in Miami and finish this season off right. Next year will be a whole new ballgame for our team."



Miguel Paludo started the weekend strong at Phoenix International Raceway, running in the top 10 in both practice sessions and showing the promise to visit victory lane at a track known for first-time winners. Unfortunately, bad luck struck the No. 32 AccuDoc Solutions team early when Paludo blew a tire on lap 34, which sent him into the wall and relegated him to a 31st-place finish in the penultimate race of the 2013 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) season.


With a brand-new, new generation chassis, Paludo appeared to be a contender after finishing sixth and seventh, respectively, in the weekend's first and final practice sessions. Laying down a 27.300-second lap in the afternoon qualifying session for the Lucas Oil 150, Paludo was disappointed with a 17th-place starting position. However, the No. 32 Turner Scott Motorsports team was confident that they had a truck that would be competitive in race trim once the sun went down.


After taking the green flag, Paludo's truck took several laps for the tires to heat up, which resulted in a tight condition and caused the No. 32 to drop to 23rd by lap 13. With the handling of the AccuDoc Solutions machine beginning to come to him, Paludo reported that his truck was neutral and "very good" on lap 25. Advancing to the 22nd position, the No. 32 crew was already planning the adjustments they would make when they got the opportunity to visit pit road.


Unfortunately, the team would never get that chance, as Paludo experienced a right-front tire failure on lap 34, sending him hard into the outside retaining wall. The No. 32 truck was able to limp back to the garage, but upon inspection, it was determined that Paludo would be unable to return to the racetrack for the conclusion of the 150-lap event. Retiring from the race, Paludo was ultimately scored in the 31st position.


"There aren't even words for nights like tonight," said Paludo after the race. "You come to the track with a great team and a great truck and you have the potential to perform really well, and then you're out of the race before lap 50. I'm proud of the fact that we come to the track every weekend capable of winning the race; sometimes things like this just happen. I don't know what it's going to take to get the luck we need to win a race, but I'm hoping we can pull it off next week and finish this season strong."


Paludo's early exit from the Lucas Oil 150 drops him to ninth in the NCWTS Driver Point Standings. The NCWTS next heads to Homestead-Miami Speedway for the final race of the 2013 season. The Ford EcoBoost 200 will air live on FOX Sports 1 at 8:00 p.m. EST on Friday, November 15.


Making his third career NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) start at Phoenix International Raceway (PIR) on Friday night, Cale Gale looked to get back to racing and build some momentum in the Lucas Oil 150. Gale and his No. 33 Ruud team started the day by qualifying sixth at the 1.0-mile oval. Gale was able to battle and keep his Ruud Silverado in the top 10 all night, crossing the finish line with a solid sixth-place finish.


Shortly after the green flag dropped at PIR, the first caution of the day came out on lap two for a spin in Turn 3. After a quick caution, Gale and the rest of the 36-truck field settled into the 150-lap race. The Mobile, Alabama native would maintain his starting position until the second caution of the day came out on lap 36. During the caution, crew chief Chris Carrier called Gale down pit road to change two right-side tires and add fuel to the No 33. Ruud Silverado. With other teams on different pit strategies, Gale gained three spots and restarted the race in the third position. Gale would continue to battle and maintain a top-five running position until the third caution of the day came out on lap 87. During the caution, Carrier again called Gale down pit road for the last pit stop of the night to change four tires, add Sunoco race fuel and make a track-bar adjustment to the No.33 Turner Scott Motorsports machine. Again, with teams on different pit strategies, Gale restarted in the seventh position.


A few laps after the restart, Gale radioed to his crew that his Ruud Silverado was a tick tight in Turns 3 and 4, but overall, he was happy with his truck. Battling a tight truck, Gale slipped to the 11th position when the fifth caution of the day came out on lap 112. With track position being too important at PIR, Carrier decided to keep the No.33 Silverado out on the track during the caution, telling his driver that it was going to be a 40-lap shootout. Quickly after the restart, Gale made his way to the front, and would continue to battle for the remaining portion of race, bringing the No. 33 Ruud Silverado home with a sixth-place finish.


"I would like to thank everyone at Turner Scott Motorsports for working so hard on the Ruud Silverado," Gale said. "We had really fast truck coming off the hauler and it was really fun to drive. We got a little tight during the middle portion of the race, but we all continued to battle and came home with a solid top-10 finish. I really enjoy racing in the Truck Series and I am looking forward to making my next start soon."



After a surprising qualifying lap for James Buescher, the No. 31 Rheem team started the Lucas Oil 150 in the fourth position. Once racing began, Buescher quickly pressured for the second running spot. On the first pit stop of the race, the Rheem team opted to take four tires, fuel and make a chassis change by adding a spring rubber. Dropping back in the running order due to differing tire strategies, Buescher lost valuable track position and as the race unfolded, he was unable to regain position. Despite their struggles, Buescher was able to bring his Rheem team their first top-10 finish at Phoenix International Raceway and their 14th of the season.


After two practice sessions on Thursday afternoon, the No. 31 Rheem team concentrated on making their Chevrolet Silverado better in race trim, opting not to make a mock-qualifying run in the final session. Unsure of where they would fall in their qualifying lap, the team was pleasantly surprised when they qualified in the fourth position for the Lucas Oil 150. When the green flag released the 36-truck field, Buescher was turning fast laps and quickly worked his way into the second position. When the second yellow was displayed, Buescher brought his Silverado down pit road for four tires, fuel and a spring-rubber adjustment with hopes of loosening up their truck. Under the same caution period, some teams throughout the field opted to take only two tires, putting the No. 31 back in the running order. On lap 45, while running ninth, Buescher radioed to the crew that his truck was now "wrecking loose," which would cause Buescher to slip back into the 13th-position. Just past the halfway mark on lap 89, Buescher gave up the ninth position to duck down pit road for four fresh tires, fuel and removal of the spring rubber that the Rheem team added during the first stop.


Restarting in the 13th position with the original setup that the team started the race with, Buescher radioed to the crew, "Let's get back to work." With the second half of the race plagued by yellow flags, Buescher couldn't get a much-needed long run to gain track position back. With fewer than 30 laps to go in the 150-lap race, Buescher was running back in the top 10 for the first time in nearly 70 laps and receiving heavy pressure for the ninth position. Buescher, however, was able to hang on and score a ninth-place finish.


"In the opening laps of the race I thought we had a really good truck, but we were just slightly tight," said Buescher "We tried to set ourselves up for the late-race run during that first pit stop, but track position proved to be key tonight. We just weren't able to get it back after our first stop but we were still able to get our first top-10 finish at Phoenix. We'll move on to Homestead and hopefully end our season on a high note."


The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series heads to Homestead-Miami Speedway on Friday, November 15 for their season finale. The Ford EcoBoost 200 can be seen live on FOX Sports 1 at 8:00 pm EST. The race can also be heard live on SiriusXM Satellite Radio, channel 90 and MRN Radio.



Richard Childress Racing has hired Mike Coughlan as the team's new Technical Director, effective immediately. Coughlan, a native of Surrey, England, brings to RCR more than two decades of motorsports experience, with a heavy concentration and success in Formula 1.


During his 15 years in F1, Coughlan was a chief designer with teams such as Arrows, Benetton, Ferrari, McLaren and Williams; earning more than 20 victories. He has also served as a chief engineer and technical director with several teams. Coughlan also has prior NASCAR experience, having worked with Michael Waltrip Racing in late 2010 and early 2011 before returning to his F1 roots.


The addition of Coughlan greatly adds depth to the RCR competition organization. That area will now be managed with two major approaches and perspectives: race operations and engineering. Mark McArdle, who joined RCR full-time in August 2013, will continue in his role as Director of Race Operations, with Coughlan now serving as Technical Director. Both will report to Dr. Eric Warren, RCR's Director of Competition.


Their combined depth of experience and established leadership with championship winning teams, in multiple forms of racing, provides even more strength to RCR's culture of rapid performance development and efficient execution at the track.


"I have known Mike Coughlan for many years and have a tremendous amount of respect for both his personal skills as an engineer and as a leader of people," Dr. Warren said. "He is a tremendous talent and has a rare combination of experience in leading teams and development programs in Formula 1, along with prior experience and exposure to NASCAR.  To be successful in any form of racing, you have to push hard to find performance gains and his experience will strengthen RCR with regards to our competition."


Coughlan is looking forward to applying his combined experience, success and knowledge with his new role.


"This is a great opportunity for me to become involved with a team like Richard Childress Racing," Coughlan said. "This is one of the great teams in NASCAR and their commitment to winning is second-to-none.


"I feel with the increased technical focus of the Sprint Cup Series and the direction that the sport is moving, it makes a perfect fit for me. I look forward to helping Eric Warren, and the rest of the team, in bringing more success to the organization through the next few years."



The November Issue of the Smithsonian Magazine features Richard Petty's famed No. 43 stock car as a part of a feature entitled, 101 Objects That Made America. After sourcing over 137 million artifacts held by 19 different museums, the Smithsonian selected 101 items to be featured. Included in the list is the 1984 No. 43 Pontiac Grand Prix that carried "The King" Richard Petty to his 200th NASCAR Sprint Cup Series win at the Daytona International Speedway in July of 1984. The fact that Petty won the race with President Ronald Reagan in attendance, the first sitting United States President to visit the track, helped carry the moment, the car and "The King" into American history.


The STP-sponsored, red, white and Petty Blue machine is featured along other iconic American objects such as the Bald Eagle, the Discovery Space Shuttle, the Model T, the Barbie, the U.S. Olympic Hockey Jersey and more.


Writer Jeff MacGregor writes about the car and Petty in a look at what made the No. 43 stock car make this exclusive list. MacGregor points out that the "genius of this car lies not in what it is, but in what it did." He also singles out Petty as a "throwback" with his signature jean and cowboy look as he explained Petty's place in the history of stock car racing. Petty himself is honored to be featured in the magazine.


"I just think the fact that it's the Smithsonian, and they had all these pieces of history or objects to look at, and they picked our car is what makes it special," said Petty. "That just made us feel pretty good that they include the car and mentioned a little about what we did. You look at everything on that list, it's our history, and it's humbling that they think we're a part of that."


You can find the complete list and read more by visiting www.smithsonian.com.



Veterans Day, an annual federal holiday on Nov. 11 that honors America’s military veterans for their patriotism and service to the country, takes on a special meaning for Furniture Row Racing, which will be competing in this weekend’s AdvoCare 500 NASCAR’s Sprint Cup Series race at Phoenix International Raceway.
What makes the Phoenix race special for the Denver-based Furniture Row Racing is that seven members of the team served in the United States military – David "Bugzee" Hicks (Navy), Charlie Krauch (Army), Chuck Lemay (Navy), Andy Morgan (Army), John Parks (Marines), Craig Phillips (Air Force) and Barney Visser (Army).
“I want to first thank all veterans past, present and future for their bravery and sacrifices in preserving our freedom,” said Furniture Row Racing driver Kurt Busch. “I urge American citizens to make an extra effort on Veterans Day to thank those who served. It’s pretty special to have seven team members who are veterans, including our team owner Barney Visser. I am very proud of them as I am of all of our veterans.”
Busch, who is actively involved with the Armed Forces Foundation (AFF), spends considerable time fundraising for the nonprofit organization as well as being an AFF spokesman in educating Americans about the hidden wounds of war, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and traumatic brain injury (TBI).

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