Tuesday, Dec 05
Speedway Digest Staff

Speedway Digest Staff

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John Wes Townley and the No.7 Zaxby's Toyota Tundra qualified for the 150-lap event in the 15th-place. There are too many variables in racing and most of them are completely out of the driver's control. On a restart with 31 laps to go the Zaxby's tundra was involved in an accident with another competitor that ultimately ended Townley's day. At race's end, the team was scored 27th.

This was in no way indicative of John Wes' season in that the past seven races, Townley has finished 13th or better, with four top-10 finishes on all different types of tracks.


John Wes Townley talks about his race at Phoenix International Raceway:

"We had a really good Zaxby's Toyota Tundra. We were stuck back in traffic and never really were able to capitalize on track position. Unfortunately, we got taken out and it ended our night. Really disappointing for how well our team has been performing. Hopefully we'll go get one in Homestead."



Timothy Peters driving the No. 17 Parts Plus Toyota Tundra came to Phoenix International Raceway driving chassis No. 10 which has proven to be a real workhorse for Peters. Peters was having a good qualifying run when the truck got loose and he proceeded to demonstrate what an experienced driver does. Rather than fight the truck and possibly wreck, he settled for the 18th spot and felt confident that the Red Horse pit crew would do their job and get him near the front.

Peters battled tight with competitors gaining ground on the leaders each and every lap. On lap 80, the Peters brought his Tundra to pit road for service. This was when Butch Hylton and the rest of the team worked their magic and brought the No. 17 Parts Plus Toyota Tundra up to 4th. Peters remained inside the top-10 until he spun with another truck making slight contact with the wall. The Red Horse crew put 4 tires on, tried to utilize some creative hammering and bare bond on the body, but aerodynamics reared its ugly head and Peters settled for a respectable 16th-place finish.


Timothy Peters talks about this race at Phoenix International Raceway:

"Unfortunately, qualifying put us back in dirty air for the majority of the race. We put our Parts Plus Tundra inside the top-five and were looking good for a solid finish when we got spun. We battled back and finished 16th."



German Quiroga in the No. 77 OtterBox/NET10 Wireless Toyota Tundra was the highest qualifier for the Red Horse Racing stable qualifying for the Lucas Oil 150 in the 11th-place. When the green flag dropped he proceeded to drive a savvy race and managed to stay out of trouble. There were few, if any, opportunities to capitalize on track position during the course of the 150-lap event. Quiroga crossed the finish in the 12th position.

Germán Quiroga talks about his race at Phoenix International Raceway:

"We were put behind early on with an accident on pit road with one of our crew members. Then, unfortunately we had an equipment failure on the second stop. We had a fast OtterBox Toyota Tundra but fought track position all night long. We managed to come back to 12th. We'll head onto Homestead."



Joey Coulter, driver of the No. 18 GunBroker.com Toyota Tundra entered the 21st race on the 2013 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) schedule on a mission to make it three in a row for Kyle Busch Motorsports (KBM) at Phoenix International Raceway (PIR). Tying his track-best starting position of 10th and running as high as fifth in the first-half of the event, Coulter felt optimistic about his chances. However, a break issue with just over 40 laps remaining in the 150-lap event relegated the junior year driver to a 26th-place finish in the Lucas Oil 150 on Friday night.


"We ended up breaking a pinion, not sure what happened exactly," Coulter said. "I know we've seen them get hot for a couple races now, but this time it didn't hold together and we ended up blowing it. It was just a really bad ending to what we thought was going to be a really good night for this GunBroker.com Toyota Tundra team. We struggled in practice, but fought really hard and got it pretty good for qualifying. We were able to start in the top 10 and we pretty much stayed up there all night. I truly felt like we were one adjustment away from being able to hit it hard and contend for the lead, a couple more restarts and we would have been in good shape. It looked like it was going to be a good night for all three KBM trucks - I'm glad one of them came out unscathed. Congrats to Erik (Jones), and we will head down to Homestead next week to give it one more shot."


Starting on the outside of row five in the 10th position, Coulter worked his way up to ninth before being slowed on lap 36 for an accident in Turn 3 involving the 32 truck of Miguel Paludo. Complaining of a Toyota Tundra that was, "snug but manageable," Harold Holly brought the GunBroker.com machine down pit road for right side tires, fuel and a trackbar adjust. Solid work by the KBM pit crew allowed Coulter to gain three positions for the lap-40 restart.


Passing the 19 of Ross Chastain on the restart, Coulter was able to maintain his ground inside the top-five for three laps before surrendering to the seventh position for the next 39 circuits.


When Ron Hornaday brought out the fourth caution of the night for an accident in Turn 4, Coulter brought his GunBroker.com Tundra to pit road for four tires, fuel and a trackbar adjustment to help aid in the "tight" condition that plagued his Toyota machine. Due to pit strategy with the leaders, Coulter would take the lap-93 restart from the 10th position.


In the next 15 laps, Coulter would work his way up to the seventh position before radioing into his crew that he had a problem on his GunBroker.com machine. By lap 108 the No. 18 Toyota Tundra was behind the wall and his KBM team spent 16 laps repairing a broken pinion in the brakes. Coulter returned to the track with 25 laps remaining in the 27th position.


The GunBroker.com Toyota Tundra would gain one position on track in the final laps to finish 26th in his third start at PIR.


Erik Jones of KBM won the 16th Annual Lucas Oil 150, his first win in five career NCWTS starts, making him the youngest winner in the Truck Series. Ross Chastain (second) started from the pole and led 63 laps en route to his first top-five finish at PIR. Brendan Gaughan (third) scored his ninth top-five finish of 2013. Ty Dillon and Matt Crafton rounded out the top five finishers.


KBM driver Darrell Wallace, Jr. qualified 13th but had to drop to the rear of the field for unapproved adjustments when he was forced to a back-up in the final stages of practice on Thursday night. After making his way up to the top 10, a late-race accident in Turn 4 relegated the rookie driver to a 20th-place finish.  


There were seven caution periods for 42 laps and six lead changes among three different drivers.


Coulter remains 14th in the 2013 NCWTS driver point standings with 588 points; 60 points behind 10th-place Timothy Peters, 102 markers behind fifth-place Jeb Burton and 192 points behind series point leader Matt Crafton.


The Truck Series heads south to Homestead-Miami (Fla.) Speedway next weekend for the Truck Series season finale on Friday night, Nov. 15. In two starts, Coulter has two top-five finishes. Catch all the action live on FOX Sports 1 at 8 p.m. ET.



Race Highlights:

  • Richard Childress Racing teammates finished third (Brendan Gaughan) and fourth (Ty Dillon).
  • Because of those results, Dillon moved up one position to second in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series driver championship point standings, 46 markers behind the leader; while Gaughan moved up two spots to seventh in the standings.
  • The No. 3 Chevrolet team is third in the Camping World Truck Series owner championship point standings, with the No. 62 team ninth in the standings.
  • According to NASCAR's Post-Race Loop Data Statistics, Gaughan maintained the third-best Average Running Position (3.460), while Dillon had the fourth-best (4.280).
  • Gaughan earned the third-best Driver Rating (115.7), while Dillon was ranked fourth (114.3).
  • Combined, RCR teammates Dillon and Gaughan posted 19 of the Fastest Laps Run, with 12 and seven, respectively.
  • Gaughan had the second-Fastest Speed in Traffic and was the third-Fastest Driver Early in a Run and third-Fastest on Restarts.
  • Dillon was the second-Fastest Driver Late in a Run and had the third-Fastest Green-Flag Speed.
  • Erik Jones took the checkered flag and was followed to the line by Ross Chastain, Gaughan, Dillon and Matt Crafton.
  • The next scheduled Camping World Truck Series race is the Homestead 200 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Friday, Nov. 15. The 22nd and final race of the 2013 season is scheduled to be televised live on FOX Sports 1 beginning at 8 p.m. Eastern Time and broadcast live on Motor Racing Network and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio, channel 90.



Dillon Earns Top-Five Finish at Phoenix International Raceway


Ty Dillon and the No. 3 Bass Pro Shops team finished fourth under the lights at Phoenix International Raceway on Friday night. Starting the 150-lap event from the 12th position, Dillon immediately reported his Chevrolet was too tight. Relief came for the driver as the field slowed for a caution flag on lap 35. Crew chief Marcus Richmond called the Richard Childress Racing driver to pit road for two tires and fuel. The two-tire pit strategy boosted Dillon in the running order, allotting him the fourth spot for the ensuing restart. The 21-year-old driver ran as high as second during the race. Dillon slipped back to fourth on the final restart of the night where he would cross the finish line. The fourth-place result advanced Dillon one spot, to second, in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series driver championship point standings with one race remaining in the season.


Start - 12         Finish - 4          Laps Led - 0          Points - 2nd



"We didn't get the qualifying spot that we wanted. We really had to dig ourselves out of a hole starting from 12th. Marcus (Richmond, crew chief) made a great call for two tires and helped us gain track position. This Bass Pro Shops team has a lot to be proud of, we're going to fight until the end."




Gaughan Earns Third-Place Result at Phoenix International Raceway


Starting from the third position, Brendan Gaughan and the No. 62 South Point Hotel & Casino Chevrolet team picked up their eighth top-five finish of the 2013 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series season under the lights of Phoenix International Raceway on Friday night. The Las Vegas native maintained a position within the top five for the majority of the 150-lap affair and battled a tight black and gold machine during the early laps of a green-flag run. The South Point Hotel & Casino pit crew made slight air pressure adjustments during scheduled two and four-tire pit stops on laps 37 and 89 to help with the handling of the Richard Childress Racing-prepared machine. Armed with a fast Chevrolet, Gaughan was able to maintain a position near the front of the field and cross the finish line third. The top-five finish allowed Gaughan to move up two positions, to seventh, in the Camping World Truck Series driver championship point standings.


         Start - 3          Finish - 3          Laps Led - 3         Points - 7th



"This was a great run for our South Point Hotel & Casino team tonight. I had to be careful at the end when I was racing Ty (Dillon) because you don't want to do anything that could jeopardize your teammate's run, but I knew we were a little bit faster at the end, and I really wanted the extra position. I was really hoping for a slightly better finish, but my team put forth a great effort and we'll continue to fight for position in the championship point battle all the way to the end."



Country music superstar Dierks Bentley will take the stage at Homestead-Miami Speedway for an hour-long concert prior to the start of the Ford EcoBoost 400 on Sunday, November 17. Homestead-Miami Speedway President Matthew Becherer made the announcement.

The multi-platinum and 11 time Grammy-nominated artist will headline the popular pre-race concert on the track’s frontstretch just before NASCAR’s biggest and brightest stars settle the season-long Sprint Cup Series championship.

Bentley has forged his own artistic path in an industry built predominantly on formula. He has mixed elements of modern country, classic country, bluegrass and rock, maintaining an unmistakable identity while constantly reinventing his sound. His most recent album HOME debuted at number one on the Billboard Country Album Charts and spawned three consecutive chart-topping hits, marking 10 career number one songs for Bentley as a singer and songwriter. His five previous studio albums have sold more than five million copies and earned 11 GRAMMY nominations and an invitation to join the Grand Ole Opry. Bentley recently released his new single “I Hold On” off his upcoming album RISER.

Taking a break from his self-titled tour, Bentley will be sure to leave fans with the thought of “What Was I Thinkin’” if they miss out on his pre-race concert. The concert will begin at 12:30 p.m. EDT, and fans with any Sunday Ford EcoBoost 400 ticket will be able to watch the concert.

“Dierks Bentley is a dynamic performer and multi-talented musician - he will certainly deliver a thrilling performance before the start of the Ford EcoBoost 400,” said Becherer. “Race fans will receive a first-class, heart-pounding show that will serve as the perfect primer for this NASCAR series-crowning race.”

Homestead-Miami Speedway PR

Is there a game plan for defeating Jimmie Johnson in a head-to-head battle for the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup title?

Brad Keselowski seems to think so. And he should know, having outlasted Johnson for the title in last year's Chase.

Forget race day. The way Keselowski sees it, the time to start putting pressure on Johnson is the moment the cars hit the track for their first practice session, typically on Friday before a Sunday race.

That's what Keselowski said he did last year at Phoenix International Raceway, site of Sunday's AdvoCare 500, the next-to-last race in the Chase.

"There were some practice sessions where I got by him and ran him really hard and had a lot of fun with it," Keselowski said Thursday night at the Penske Racing Museum in Scottsdale after the induction of his 2012 championship car. "And in the race, he drove the car too hard until it blew out a tire.

"You can look at it and say, 'Oh, it was a tire failure,' or whatever, but those in the garage who know how the tires work know that it was reaching too hard and a failure that was caused from that. I feel quite confident in that."

Johnson's tire problem at Phoenix turned the Chase race upside-down. The five-time champion had entered the race with a seven-point lead over Keselowski, the same margin he holds over Kenseth with two races left this year.

Keselowski's advice to Kenseth? Race Johnson as hard as you can.

"For them (Johnson's No. 48 team), I wouldn't want to have to race somebody that's going to race me hard, because that's not their wheelhouse," Keselowski said. "I think that was one of our strengths last year. If I was going to give Matt a piece of advice, I'd say 'Use the (crap) out of him.'

"Run him hard, because that's his weakness."

Before opening NASCAR Sprint Cup practice at PIR on Friday, Johnson took issues with Keselowski's comments.

"I guess we need to ask Jeff Gordon, Mark Martin, Denny Hamlin, Carl Edwards -- Who else have I raced for a championship -- how we race," Johnson said. "We race hard. That's not a weakness of ours, by any stretch."

Johnson, however, did acknowledge that he learned something from last year's Phoenix race.

"Last year here, they (Keselowski) were better than us, for sure," Johnson said. "We worked real hard to play catch-up through the course of the weekend. Sure, we had a tire failure, and yes, we overworked the tire. We created an issue for ourselves. We were lacking some speed.

"The No. 2 had us covered the entire time here, and that particular run where the tire blew, I look back on it and think, 'Man, if I would have preserved my tire a little bit more and didn't overwork my equipment and didn't speed up that tire blowing and create that issue, we would go to Homestead with a much smaller deficit and have a much better chance of racing (for the championship).

"So that's the lesson I take from last year's race here."

No worries for Kenseth

Saturday, Nov 09

Jimmie Johnson built his seven-point advantage with a dominating performance last Sunday at Texas, where he scored the maximum 48 points to fourth-place finisher Kenseth's 41.

Though Kenseth would prefer to be the Chase leader, he's not one to worry about it.

"I don't sit and worry about the next race track coming up, because worrying is just a waste of energy, a waste of time," Kenseth said. "Certainly, I try to be as prepared as I can when we come to the track … try to look at what you've done in the past, what you can do better coming back and try to improve on the things you did good, try to improve on the things you did bad and try to be better at that.

"Kind of go over a plan for what we're looking for, what we want to accomplish, that type of thing. I wouldn't say 'worry' is the right word. I haven't worried at all, really. Just trying to be as prepared as we can and as ready as we can when we get here."

Kenseth has reason for optimism. In his first open-motor event with Joe Gibbs Racing, on March 3 at Phoenix, Kenseth finished seventh, his best result at the one-mile track since 2010.

"We had a good run here in the spring," Kenseth said. "It was my first race with the team, really, besides plate racing. We had a really competitive car, and we've been good at these kinds of tracks.

"I'm looking forward to the weekend."

Helping the heros

Saturday, Nov 09

With a donation of $50,000, NASCAR Chairman & CEO Brian France and wife Amy France helped raise nearly $1 million in support of the families of military service men and women wounded in action.

The Frances attended the "Stand Up For Heroes" benefit Wednesday at Madison Square Garden in New York City, an event presented by the Bob Woodruff Foundation and the New York Comedy Festival to raise money for post-9/11 service members and their families.

"Brian and I were honored to make this donation to support our military servicemen and women and their families, who make incredible sacrifices each and every day to help protect our nation," Amy France said.

Renowned musicians Bruce Springsteen and Roger Waters performed at the benefit, as did iconic comedians Jerry Seinfeld and Bill Cosby.

Matt Crafton finished fifth in his No. 88 Splash / Menards Toyota Friday night in the Lucas Oil 150 at Phoenix International Raceway and in the process all but claimed his first NASCAR Camping World Truck Series drivers' championship -- leaving only ThorSport Racing's quest for the series' owners' championship in question.

Crafton had his series-best 19th top-10 finish in 21 races this season on a night in which Toyota clinched its sixth Truck Series manufacturers' title in its 10th year racing in the series. He now only has to take the green flag next Friday night in the Ford EcoBoost 200 at Homestead-Miami Speedway after he finished the PIR race 46 points ahead of Ty Dillon, who finished one spot in front of Crafton to leap over defending series champion James Buescher in the standings.


"I think I'm alright with that," said Crafton, who was grinning a lot after he exited his Tundra on pit road. "It's going to feel damn good to go to Homestead and forget about everything and race like hell." 


But the owners' title is another matter for ThorSport owners Duke and Rhonda Thorson, who already have two major stock car titles in hand via the drivers' and owners' championships Frank Kimmel won last month with ThorSport's Ansell / Menards Toyota in the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards, plus the drivers' title Crafton will claim.


ThorSport came into the Phoenix race with a 32-point lead in the owners' championship over Kyle Busch Motorsports. But KBM's Erik Jones led the most laps Friday night then won the race with a stunning pass of another impressive youngster, Ross Chastain, with just nine laps left.


Thus, ThorSport's lead going to South Florida for NASCAR's championship weekend is 23 points. Crafton, by finishing 18th or better at Homestead can claim ThorSport's fourth 2013 championship even if KBM owner/driver Kyle Busch equals Jones' PIR accomplishment at Homestead -- winning and leading the most laps, worth the maximum 48 points.


The Thorsons' odds would go up if Busch fell down the finishing order. 


"It's beyond gratifying to win this championship, especially for Duke and Rhonda and ThorSport -- and for Menards -- who have all meant so much to my career," Crafton said. "But our work's not finished. We have one more battle on our hands and I'm confident, with what my team's accomplished already this season, we'll be equal to the challenge at Homestead."


Menards, the Midwest home improvement store chain that had previously won an IndyCar championship with three-time NASCAR champion Tony Stewart, had never won a stock car championship prior to this season, its 13th backing ThorSport. It, too, now has three.


Crafton's phenomenally consistent and competitive season -- he's the only series driver to have completed all 3,243 laps raced in 2013 -- has also been marked by competently overcoming challenges. And Friday offered some more of those.


Crafton started the race ninth and in 150 laps was never scored outside the top 10. But that wasn't without a couple scares.


"I wish we were a few more spots ahead," Crafton said ruefully of his finish. "But we just had a brake problem all night. I could run about 15 laps and would lose like 90 percent of my brakes and I would have to pump and pump and as soon as I came off Turn 4, I would probably pump the brake pedal 10 times by the time I'd get into (Turn) 1.


"I could run hard for about five laps, then I was done -- I was a sitting duck. I would have to lift just past the start/finish line. We did what we had to do."


Crafton actually picked up positions after several of the six restarts in the race and really never lost many positions. But the brakes were a challenge and in the end, prevented Crafton from making any aggressive moves on Dillon that might have presented the possibility of a Phoenix clinch, which would've required a 49-point lead.


"We came here to do what we've done all year -- just race our butt off," Crafton said. "We were three-wide and I was on the outside going three-wide and was thinking 'this probably wasn't a smart thing.' But to heck with it, we were three-wide doing whatever we needed to do to get a position.


"But I was scared because I didn't have any brakes."


That was nothing compared to what Crafton felt while circulating under caution with less than 15 laps to go. A striking hammer -- basically a foot-long miniature sledgehammer used for emergency bodywork -- had apparently fallen out of a truck but was on the racetrack.


The FOX Sports 1 TV coverage plainly showed several trucks ride around or over it... Until Crafton's yellow Tundra passed by and the hammer was gone!


"I was real, real scared," Crafton said of his concern, for the second time in the night. "Whoever blew a tire and had all that debris -- I ran over something and I felt it hit the right front and I was going, 'Oh my God, I don't know if that's a piece of metal.'


"I didn't say anything (on the in-truck radio), I just sweated."


Without cause, it turned out, because on the final restart, at lap 141 with 10 laps left, Crafton continued to keep pace with Dillon, with high hopes for a better finish, but in the back of his mind, a greater comfort.


"I wanted to go fight with Ty (Dillon) and it would have been cool to lock the whole deal up (Friday) night, but like I said all we have to do is start Homestead. I can't thank these guys -- Menards, Toyota Tundra -- can't thank them enough."


But Crafton finally revealed the starkest relief of his championship drive in a season in which no one but a ThorSport driver ever led the standings -- from Johnny Sauter winning the season's first two races to Crafton leading after the last 19.


"Just being able to sleep, that's the coolest thing (about virtually clinching)," Crafton said. "I'm not going to lie, for the last month-and-a-half, it's been tough."


Thorsport PR


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