Speedway Digest Staff
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As the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season nears its conclusion, a star-studded list of drivers have already punched their ticket for next season’s first event -- The Sprint Unlimited At Daytona scheduled for Saturday night, Feb. 15 at Daytona International Speedway (TV -- FOX Sports One, Radio -- MRN Radio and Sirius XM Satellite Radio).
Twenty NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers have earned starting positions in the 2014 edition of The Sprint Unlimited, the 75-lap non-points event that kicks off the stock car portion of Budweiser Speedweeks 2014.
For the second straight year, eligibility requirements for The Sprint Unlimited will consist of the previous season’s pole winners and past winners of The Sprint Unlimited who have attempted to qualify for at least one NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race during the 2013 season.
Seventeen drivers have earned their starting spots by winning pole positions while three others will qualify as past winners of the event. Here’s a current look at the eligible drivers for The Sprint Unlimited:
· Denny Hamlin (4 poles)
· Kyle Busch (3)
· Joey Logano (2)
· Jimmie Johnson (2)
· Matt Kenseth (2)
· Ryan Newman (2)
· Dale Earnhardt Jr. (2)
· Jeff Gordon (2)
· Carl Edwards (2)
· Marcos Ambrose (1)
· Kurt Busch (1)
· Kevin Harvick (1)
· Brad Keselowski (1)
· Mark Martin (1)
· Jamie McMurray (1)
· Danica Patrick (1)
· Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (1)
· Terry Labonte (past winner 1985)
· Ken Schrader (1989 and 1990)
· Tony Stewart (2001, 2002 and 2007)
More details on the format, competition elements and the at-track experience opportunities for race fans will be announced in January.
The Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) show in Las Vegas features a who’s who of the auto industry. And Michigan International Speedway boss Roger Curtis will be a panelist at the annual trade show Tuesday.
Curtis is part of a panel on innovation and fan experience at NASCAR events.
“It is an honor to be asked to be part of this prestigious event,” Curtis said. “The SEMA show brings the best of the industry together in one location to discuss all things related to the automobiles. I look forward to sharing our plans about enhancing the fan experience initiatives in NASCAR and how we can work together to make it successful.”
Curtis joins NASCAR Vice President of Innovation and Racing Development Gene Stefanyshyn; Jim Campbell, Vice President of General Motors Performance Vehicles and Motorsports; Jamie Allison, Director, Ford Racing; Beth Paretta, Director SRT Brand and Motorsports, Chrysler; Wilfried Eibach, Chairman Eibach Group; Yves Morizot, Chairman Stand21.
NASCAR President Mike Helton will serve as keynote speaker during the Racing and Performance session.
Michigan International Speedway has implemented several fan experience initiatives over the past years, including installing WiFi for guests. With the help of ISC, the free WiFi hotspots around the racetrack are available to all cell phone carriers. Fans are able to stay up to date on the latest happenings in NASCAR and set their fantasy line up right from the track. They can use the app, download interactive maps, buy tickets and stay in touch with loved ones back home – all using free WiFi.
In addition, ISC last week unveiled its plan to provide race fans with the sport’s first fully-integrated multi-media race-day experience across all its motorsports facilities over the next few years. ISC and its partners have committed to complete fan enhancements through 2015 at all its facilities, including installation of digital high-definition video screens, unique, at-track content and enhanced connectivity.
MIS has been instrumental in opening the 1,400 acres of the facility to auto manufacturers as a neutral testing ground. Located in the heart of America’s automobile manufacturing and testing, the track has multiple intersections, a road course that goes through remote areas to offer real life situations in a secure environment, obstructions and a recently repaved road course in the infield. In addition, the large skid pad on the back stretch offers an opportunity to test how cars talk to each during quick braking, scalability and other evasive maneuvers.
The racetrack is a perfect, neutral testing location for manufacturers and suppliers.
SEMA consists of a diverse group of manufacturers, distributors, retailers, publishing companies, auto restorers, street-rod builders, restylers, car clubs, race teams and much more. The SEMA Show is the premier automotive specialty products trade event in the world. In addition, the SEMA Show provides attendees with educational seminars, product demonstrations, special events, networking opportunities and more.
THE END IS NEAR: The 2013 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series season has taken the white flag and is coming to the checkers. The Lucas Oil 150 at Phoenix International Raceway will mark the second to last race during the 2013 season and Red Horse Racing's driver Germán Quiroga has something to prove. Quiroga is seeking his first victory in the Truck Series and first for a Mexican in a national division of NASCAR. What better place to accomplish this feat than near his home country of Mexico?
Quiroga will make his second start at the one-mile oval after making his first appearance at the track last fall in only his fifth Truck Series start. This weekend, the driver of the No. 77 OtterBox/NET10 Wireless Toyota Tundra is looking to improve his finish and put a stamp on his 2013 season.
JOINT VENTURE: The shared primary sponsorship between OtterBox and NET10 Wireless will race one last time this weekend at Phoenix International Raceway. The No. 77 Toyota Tundra team has had combination paint schemes between hoods, TV panels and quarter panels. It's a perfect pairing with the no-contract cell phone leader, NET10 Wireless featuring the Samsung Galaxy, and the No. 1 selling phone case protector OtterBox.
CHASSIS HISTORY: The No. 77 OtterBox/NET10 Wireless Toyota Tundra will utilize chassis No. 008 this weekend at Phoenix International Raceway. Quiroga ran this chassis back at Chicagoland Speedway and Michigan International Speedway. Quiroga tied his highest finishing positions (third) for a Mexican in a national division of NASCAR at Pocono Raceway in August. This chassis was also raced at Texas Motor Speedway where Quiroga initially made history with his third-place finish. The chassis also scored an 11th-place finish at Kansas Speedway earlier this year. The notebook for Chassis No. 008 started during the 2012 season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. There, the chassis earned Red Horse Racing's 10th pole position and took home a seventh-place finish.
MEET & GREET: Don't miss Germán Quiroga alongside teammates John Wes Townley and Timothy Peters as they join the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series drivers for an autograph session on Friday, November 8th from 12:30-1:30 PM at the Roll-Bar hospitality area, behind the Turn 1 grandstands. The trio will also appear at the on-site Camping World store at Phoenix International Raceway on Friday afternoon in the Cotton 3 RV Parking Lot at 4:00 PM.
REARVIEW MIRROR - TEXAS MOTOR SPEEDWAY: Germán Quiroga returned to Texas Motor Speedway looking to once again make history in his No. 77 NET10 Wireless/OtterBox Toyota Tundra. Quiroga qualified for the WinStar World 350 in the 20th position and was eager to gain on the competition during the 147-lap event. Quiroga immediately found speed making his way into the 12th spot on the lap 28 restart. During the lap 99 caution period, the NET10 Wireless/OtterBox team visited pit road for service and was served a penalty for having equipment out of the pit stall. The three-time Mexico Series champion started at the tail end of the longest line in the 21st position on the lap 106 restart and drove his way up to secure a 14th-place finish at race's end.
Germán Quiroga on Phoenix International Raceway:
What are your thoughts about racing at Phoenix International Raceway?
"I'm excited to go back to Phoenix because it was the first track where I started to feel more comfortable with the Truck compared to Mexico Series. Unfortunately, we had a poor finish last year. My goal this year is to return and do well with my No. 77 OtterBox/NET10 Wireless Toyota Tundra team. Of course, I'm going after my very first NASCAR victory.
How do you embrace the Latin Community when visiting Phoenix?"I think Phoenix is going to be another track where we will find a lot of Latin's in the stands. It's going to be good to see them and have their support. The Truck Series is very fun and hopefully I can start bringing more and more fans to the stands to cheer me on."
TWO TO GO: Timothy Peters had no problem adjusting to the brand new pavement at Phoenix International Raceway last fall when the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series got their track time on the repaved surface. The No. 17 Parts Plus Toyota Tundra driver qualified inside the top-10 and was able to capitalize on a fourth-place finish, his best finish at the track. In four starts at the one-mile oval, Peters has finished 16th or better and has an average starting position of 10.2 with an average finishing position of 11.2. Look for Peters to be a factor in the Lucas Oil 150 as he states this is a track that fits his driving style.
PARTS PLUS: With only two races left in the 2013 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series season, Timothy Peters and the No. 17 Toyota Tundra will carry out the Parts Plus primary sponsorship at Phoenix International Raceway. The Memphis-based warehouse distributor originated more than 56 years ago tracing back to a series of jobber programs. Since 2005, Parts Plus has been a member of the Automotive Distribution Network that has over 300 member distributors under five brand names and from over 400 separate warehouses across the United States, Mexico, Canada and Puerto Rico. For more information on Parts Plus and locations near you, visit PartsPlus.com.
CHASSIS HISTORY: Timothy Peters and his No. 17 Parts Plus Toyota Tundra team will unload Chassis No. 010 this weekend at Phoenix International Raceway. This winning chassis was raced last weekend at Texas Motor Speedway where Peters qualified ninth. Chassis No. 010 captured Peters' second win at Iowa Speedway and has two sixth-place finishes (Kentucky Speedway, Dover International Speedway) and a 10th at Kansas Speedway earlier this year. Peters also captured a second-place finish at Bristol Motor Speedway after dominating the second half of the race.
MEET & GREET: Don't miss Timothy Peters alongside teammates John Wes Townley and Germán Quiroga as they join the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series drivers for an autograph session on Friday, November 8th from 12:30-1:30 PM at the Roll-Bar hospitality area, behind the Turn 1 grandstands. The trio will also appear at the on-site Camping World store at Phoenix International Raceway on Friday afternoon in the Cotton 3 RV Parking Lot at 4:00 PM.
REARVIEW MIRROR - TEXAS MOTOR SPEEDWAY: Timothy Peters was the most recent winner on a 1.5-mile track heading into the WinStar World Casino 350 at Texas Motor Speedway. Peters and his Parts Plus Tundra team qualified in the ninth position and was confident in their race setup for the 147-lap race. By lap 8, Peters had fallen back to the 15th position trying to control his loose handling Tundra. Without a lot of opportunities to make passes and work his way to the front, Peters drove a safe, strategic race finishing in the 16th-place.
Timothy Peters on Phoenix International Raceway:
Do you consider Phoenix International Raceway as a track that fits your driving style?
"Yeah it does. It's a challenge now because of the pavement. It's a lot different now and the grip isn't there yet - with the asphalt in the desert and pulling all the oil up. It's getting better every time a race is run. We had a really good Tundra there last year and finished fourth. It's a short track and we always excel at those places. I always look forward to going back.
With two races left in the season, what is your mentality as the season comes to an end?
"Hard to believe we are at two races to go. Seems like yesterday we were loading our Parts Plus Tundra up for Daytona. It's been a very eventful year and been very cool to have a second season where we have gone to victory lane twice. It's been a good year too - just hate that it'll be over soon."
LET THE STREAK CONTINUE: John Wes Townley has everything to gain over the next two races in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series season, starting with redemption at Phoenix International Raceway. In the past seven races, Townley has finished 13th or better, with four top-10 finishes on all different types of race tracks. The No. 7 Zaxby's Toyota Tundra driver has averaged a 9.2 finishing position in those seven races. With momentum and consistency on his side, look for Townley to once again be racing for position at the front of the field during Friday night's Lucas Oil 150.
WHAT'S NEW AT YOUR LOCAL ZAXBY'S: Zaxby's, a southeast favorite for chicken fingers and wings, has been indescribably good for more than 20 years. The Athens, Georgia based chain offers its guests prepared-at-order Chicken Fingerz, Traditional or Boneless Wings, sandwiches, Zalads and Zappetizers, along with a variety of nine sauces ranging from Wimpy and Tongue Torch to Nuclear and Insane. A meal to rival all others, fans can score big with Zaxby's new Fan Special. The meal includes four signature Chicken Fingers, Crinkle Fries, Texas Toast, Zax Sauce and a Large Beverage. It's a FAN-tastic deal and only around for a limited time. The company operates more than 585 locations in 13 states. John Wes Townley will compete with Zaxby's serving as primary sponsor for the entire 22 Truck Series race schedule. For more information, please visit zaxbys.com, facebook.com/zaxbys or follow on Twitter @Zaxbys.
CHASSIS HISTORY: The No. 7 Zaxby's Toyota Tundra team will roll out Chassis No. 085 this weekend at Phoenix International Raceway with John Wes Townley. Chassis 085 has been rebuilt since it raced earlier this season at Kansas Speedway. During the 2012 season, this chassis saw action at four tracks including Chicagoland Speedway, Atlanta Motor Speedway, Kentucky Speedway and Phoenix International Raceway. During the off season, the chassis was rebuilt to prepare for 2013.
MEET & GREET: Don't miss John Wes Townley alongside teammates Timothy Peters and Germán Quiroga as they join the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series drivers for an autograph session on Friday, November 8th from 12:30-1:30 PM at the Roll-Bar hospitality area, behind the Turn 1 grandstands. The trio will also appear at the on-site Camping World store at Phoenix International Raceway on Friday afternoon in the Cotton 3 RV Parking Lot at 4:00 PM.
REARVIEW MIRROR - TEXAS MOTOR SPEEDWAY: John Wes Townley came into Texas Motor Speedway with determination to collect his first NASCAR Camping World Truck Series victory. Townley qualified his No. 7 Zaxby's Toyota Tundra in the 23rd position and was quick to make his way to the front during the WinStar World Casino 350. Townley made his way inside the top-10 after only 52 laps while battling a tight race truck. Townley captured a ninth-place finish at race's end. This continues his season of strong finishes on the intermediate tracks having collected four top-10 finishes in seven races. His ninth-place finish moved Townley up one position in the driver point standings to 12th.
John Wes Townley on Phoenix International Raceway:
What are your thoughts about racing at Phoenix International Raceway?
"Phoenix has always been a tough place for me. It hasn't been that kind to me. Last year I finished 13th and I think I've learned a lot through all the trials and errors there. I know I am going to have another good Zaxby's Toyota Tundra and we're coming off another top-10 finish last weekend at Texas Motor Speedway. I'm really excited about it.
With two races left in the season, what is your mentality as the season comes to an end?
"We have two more races to go. This season really went by quick. For me, it sure would be nice to get a top five or a win in the final two races. It would be a great way to end the year. I am not going to do anything to jeopardize something if it isn't there, but if the opportunity presents itself, I am certainly going to go for it."
Of all people to surprise, Jeff Gordon is hoping it's himself this Sunday in the Advocare 500 at Phoenix International Raceway (PIR).
In February of 2011, Gordon scored his second victory at PIR and then ceremoniously began the reconfiguration/repavement project on the Arizona track. In the four races on the new layout and surface since, Gordon has had mixed success with two top-10 finishes and two finishes of 30th or worse.
"This is a track that has been on our radar - one that we need to perform better at," said Gordon, driver of the No. 24 Axalta Racing Chevrolet. "We were decent here earlier this year, but we need to step it up this weekend.
"I put this track in the same category as Kansas - not the kind of track we excel at because of a recent repave. But I hope we leave Phoenix similar to the way we left Kansas. We executed well at Kansas, we had a great car there and we had great strategy.
"The performance surprised even me."
Each race on the 'new' track surface at PIR gives it some age.
"It seems like the groove has widened out the past couple races and that the pavement is aging," said Gordon, who has two wins (2007 and 2011), three poles, 10 top-fives and 20 top-10's in 29 starts at the one-mile track. "And the tires had some fall-off here earlier this year, so you could start searching the track for a different line that maybe helped your car.
"Hopefully, we will continue to see the groove widen."
Last weekend at Texas, a tire issue led to a 38th-place finish for Gordon. He now sits sixth in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series point standings entering the penultimate race of the 2013 season.
"That was frustrating because I thought we had a great car there - especially on the long runs," said Gordon. "That finish definitely hurt our momentum.
"But not this team's fight."
Trevor Bayne and the crew of his No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Fusion struggled with an ill-handling car through the early portions of Sunday’s AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway. Long green-flag runs hampered the crew in its attempts to diagnose the problem, which also caused tire issues that forced unscheduled pit stops that led to lost laps.
Finally, a late caution period allowed the Motorcraft/Quick Lane crew time to carefully inspect the car, and the problem was located.
“A spring rubber had fallen out of the right-rear spring,” team co-owner Len Wood. “They replaced it, and it made a different car out of it.”
Spring rubbers are pieces of rubber inserted into the coils of a spring to change its affect on the car’s handling. They’re also useful during races because they can be quickly inserted or removed, thus providing a significant chassis adjustment. With the spring rubber back in place, Bayne was able to run competitive laps and race with those around him, but by that time he had lost four laps to the leaders and wound up finishing 29th.
Wood said the chassis adjustments the crew made during the race didn’t produce the expected results because the missing spring rubber so adversely affected the chassis set-up of the No. 21 Ford Fusion. “It would take three times the usual adjustment,” he said.
Wood and the rest of the Motorcraft/Quick Lane team had praise for Bayne and his handling of the challenges of the afternoon, especially the issues with the tires, which wore excessively due to the missing spring rubber. “He caught it each time and did a nice job of getting the car to pit road,” Wood said, explaining that a blown tire likely would have meant a wrecked car especially at a high-speed track like Texas Motor Speedway.
Now Wood and the Motorcraft/Quick Lane team turn their attention to the season-ending Ford Championship Weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway in two weeks.
“We tested there last week, and we’ve got a good plan and a different car for the Ford 400,” Wood said. “We’ll see what happens.”
Wood Brothers Racing PR
- Richard Childress Racing teammates finished eighth (Kevin Harvick), 15th (Paul Menard), 22nd, (Austin Dillon) and 24th (Jeff Burton) in the AAA Texas 500.
- Following the event at Texas Motor Speedway, Harvick is third in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver championship point standings, 40 markers behind the leader, while Menard is 17th and Burton sits 19th.
- The No. 29 Chevrolet SS team is third in the Sprint Cup Series owner championship point standings, with the No. 27 team ranked 17th in the standings and the No. 31 team 20th.
- According to NASCAR's Post-Race Loop Data Statistics, Harvick completed 51 passes while running in the top 15, positioning him fifth in Quality Passes.
- Harvick had the eighth-best Average Running Position, earned the eighth-best Driver Rating, was the eighth-Fastest Driver Early in a Run, eighth-Fastest Driver Late in a Run, ninth-Fastest on Restarts and had the ninth-Fastest Green-Flag Speed.
- Menard completed 148 green-flag passes, 40 of which came while running in the top 15 (Quality Passes).
- With 117 passes, Dillon was fifth in the post-race loop data category of Green-Flag Passes.
- Burton gained three positions during the final 10 percent (34 laps) of the 334-lap event, tying him for sixth in the Closers category.
- Jimmie Johnson earned his sixth victory of the 2013 Sprint Cup Series season and was followed to the finish line by Dale Earnhardt Jr., Joey Logano, Matt Kenseth and Kasey Kahne.
- The next Sprint Cup Series race is the AdvoCare 500 at Phoenix International Raceway on Sunday, Nov. 10. The 35th race of the 2013 season is scheduled to be televised live on ESPN beginning at 2 p.m. Eastern Time and broadcast live on the Motor Racing Network and SiriusXM NASCAR Satellite Radio, channel 90.
Menard Finishes 15th at Texas Motor Speedway
Start - 4 Finish - 15 Laps Led - 0 Points - 17th
PAUL MENARD QUOTE:
"We started the race off super tight, but as the laps wore on the car improved. Then we lost our drive off the corners. We struggled with the handling of our Quaker State/Menards Chevrolet all day. The crew made a variety of changes, but we just couldn't hit on the right setup. There at the end we went from being too tight to too free. We'll keep our heads up and hope for better results next weekend."
Harvick Earns Eighth-Place Finish at Texas Motor Speedway
Kevin Harvick and the No. 29 Budweiser team earned a top-10 finish at Texas Motor Speedway on Sunday after battling handling issues and changing track conditions. Starting from the 19th spot, the Bakersfield, Calif., native immediately went to work increasing his position in the running order, settling into the top 10 by lap 30 while battling a loose-handling Chevrolet. As the race progressed, Harvick continued to fight the loose condition, leading crew chief Gil Martin to call for multiple chassis adjustments during the ensuing four-tire pit stops. The Richard Childress Racing driver maintained a position within the top 10 during the late stages of the race, but as the sun set over the 1.5-mile track, Harvick alerted the team that the car had transitioned from loose to tight. Making a final visit to pit road on lap 293 for four tires, fuel and air pressure adjustments, Harvick returned to the track and moved into the top five after green-flag pit stops cycled through the field. The 22-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race winner continued to run near the front of the pack during the final laps, ultimately taking the checkered flag from the eighth position. Following Harvick's 19th top-10 finish of the season, he moved up to third in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, 40 markers out of the top spot.
Start - 19 Finish - 8 Laps Led - 0 Points - 3rd
KEVIN HARVICK QUOTE:
Burton Finishes 24th at Texas Motor Speedway
Jeff Burton and the No. 31 Caterpillar Chevrolet team finished 24th at Texas Motor Speedway on Sunday evening. Starting the 334-lap event from the 20th position, the 21-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race winner battled a tight-middle and loose-off handling condition on his black and yellow machine during the early laps while maintaining a top-25 running position. Throughout the middle stages of the event, the South Boston, Va., native continued to battle with the ill-handling machine while the Luke Lambert-led Caterpillar pit crew made chassis and air pressure adjustments on multiple four-tire pit stops under both green-flag conditions and caution-flag periods. The Richard Childress Racing driver maintained a top-25 running position over the final 100 laps, taking the "wave around" pass under a late-race caution-flag period and was scored two laps down to the leader late in the race. Although he was hoping for one more caution-flag period, the 46-year-old driver was forced to bring his Chevrolet SS to the attention of the Caterpillar pit crew under green-flag conditions before the end of the race, ultimately crossing the finish line in the 24th position. Burton remains 19th in the Sprint Cup Series driver championship point standings.
Start - 20 Finish - 24 Laps Led - 0 Points - 19th
JEFF BURTON QUOTE:
"It was a tough day for the No. 31 Caterpillar Chevrolet team because we couldn't find the balance we needed on the car. One run we would be tight and the next we would be loose. It actually started to come around there at the end. I'm looking forward to getting back to Phoenix (International Raceway) where we had a top-10 finish earlier this season."
Dillon Drives the No. 33 Boot Barn Chevrolet to a 22nd-Place Finish at Texas Motor Speedway
Austin Dillon drove the No. 33 Boot Barn Chevrolet to a 22nd-place finish in Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Texas Motor Speedway. The Welcome, N.C., driver started the 500-mile race from the 21st position and reported to his team that the car's handling was loose on entry into the corners in the early portion of the 334-lap race. A series of green-flag pit stops provided the Richard Childress Racing team an opportunity to work on the handling of Dillon's Chevrolet SS, but changing track conditions made the job of keeping up with adjustments challenging. The team fell one lap down to the race leader on lap 136 while running in the 25th position and was unable to race their way into the "Lucky Dog" position. In the closing portion of the race, Dillon reported a loose-handling condition. However, a green-flag pit stop with 32 laps remaining gave Dillon four fresh tires for the closing laps, allowing him to advance to 22nd for the race's finish.
Start - 21 Finish - 22 Laps Led - 0 Points - N/A
AUSTIN DILLON QUOTE:
"I think if we would have taken the "wave around" pass, we may have gained a few extra positions, but overall I am happy with the strategy we played today. I have a lot to learn. I want to thank Boot Barn, Wayne Workwear, VF Imagewear and all of the guys at RCR who helped me today on this car. It was a fun race."
Nothing was easy for Ryan Newman and the Outback Steakhouse race team Sunday at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, but their hardworking efforts were rewarded as their silver-and-black No. 39 Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) crossed the finish line ninth in the AAA Texas 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race.
“It was a long day, but I’m happy that we were able to get a top-10, which means that tomorrow is going to be another Bloomin’ Monday at Outback Steakhouse,” Newman said. “It certainly didn’t come easily, so I hope that everyone appreciates the hard work we put it to make that happen for them tomorrow night when they get their free Bloomin’ Onion.”
Newman started 13th in the 43-car field and led once for two laps en route to scoring his fifth top-10 in 21 career Sprint Cup starts at the 1.5-mile oval. It was also his 17th top-10 this season.
From the drop of the green flag, Newman struggled with a loose-handling Outback Steakhouse Chevrolet that challenged his ability to make forward progress. At one point, Newman described his racecar as “crashing loose” and opted to play it safe until having the opportunity to pit. Crew chief Matt Borland ordered adjustments on every pit stop, ranging from air pressure to wedge and track bar, but was unable to dial the handling toward Newman’s liking.
Despite the uncomfortable handling of the racecar, Newman raced his way inside the top-10 in the latter stages of the 334-lap race. Newman and Borland agreed to make one last change during a green-flag pit stop at lap 297. Newman pitted for four tires, fuel and a final track bar adjustment, and returned to the track in 14th-place. Newman gained five positions over the final 34 laps to take the checkered flag in ninth.
“There wasn’t much that we didn’t try to change,” Newman said. “We fought with the handling of our Outback Steakhouse Chevy all day, but Matt (Borland, crew chief) and the team worked on it every stop, and it had gotten better. We just couldn’t get it to where I needed it to be. But in spite of how much we struggled today, to finish ninth was good. We’ll certainly take that after the day we had.”
Newman’s SHR teammate Mark Martin, interim driver of the No. 14 Bass Pro Shops/Mobil 1 Chevrolet SS as he subs for the injured Tony Stewart, finished 11th.
The Richard Petty Museum is coming home. After 10 years of being located in downtown Randleman, North Carolina, the museum that holds memorabilia and personal collections of the most decorated American stock car driver in history is going back home to Level Cross. The Museum will be located on the site of the original Petty Engineering and later Petty Enterprises race shop. The site currently is the home of Petty's Garage and the Petty Family Foundation.
The Museum was founded at the race shop in Level Cross in 1988 by Lynda Petty but moved to Randleman in 2003 after space demands of the expanding race operation. Randleman, the neighboring city where Richard Petty went to high school, then became the home of museum. With the race operation, Richard Petty Motorsports, now operating in Concord, North Carolina, it was decided to move the museum back to its original location.
"It is just time to move the museum back to its original location," said "The King" Richard Petty. "We are really grateful for everyone in Randleman for allowing us to move the museum there when our race shop had to grow. We now have the opportunity to move it back to where it all started, and I think everyone agrees that's where it belongs. We want people to come and see the history on the same ground where it all happened. We're going to take the time to make it even better too. It's exciting for our family, and we hope everyone will enjoy it with us."
After it's relocation and renovation, the museum will not only recover its spot in the building first built to house Kyle Petty's race program but will eventually expand to include the "Reaper Shed," first home of Petty Engineering where Lee Petty found the family dynasty. The museum will also include the Dodge Barn, built in the days of the team's close connection to Dodge and Plymouth. Finally, fans will be able to also visit the Lee Petty House, birthplace of both The King and his brother Maurice. The new-look museum will also feature exhibits of the Petty family's four members in the Hall of Fame (Lee, Richard, Dale Inman and Maurice), of "Mr. and Mrs. The King" from the Pixar film "Cars" and of the family's many contributions to the sport of stock car racing.
Rebecca Moffitt, Executive Director of the Petty Family Foundation, will play a key role in the move of the museum. The daughter of Lynda and Richard Petty has been preparing for the move for months.
"This has been a project that our family has been working over the last year," said Moffitt. "We're thankful for the people in Randleman to allow us to host the museum in their downtown, and now, we want to move it back to the original race shop. It will really give fans the most genuine look at the Petty racing history. We're going to work hard with many in the community and state to ensure that when we open in the original location that it's a destiny for all race fans."
Michael LaPaglia of LaPaglia Associates in Durham has been hired to design and construct the new exhibits. Local attorney and historian Mac Whatley of Asheboro has been hired as Executive Director of the Museum to oversee the move and plan the facility's future expansion. The museum will also host special events including an opening gala and other special events to benefit the Petty Family Foundation.
The move is effective immediately, and while the new exhibits will not open until February of 2014, the museum will provide limited tour opportunities at the Level Cross facility during the move and renovation period. Call 336-495-1143 to book a reservation.