Sunday, Sep 24
Speedway Digest Staff

Speedway Digest Staff

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Atlanta Motor Speedway officials announced today that all grandstand and suite seating areas at the facility will be smoke free for events beginning in 2014, including the annual NASCAR Labor Day race weekend.

Smoking will still be permitted in designated areas on the concourse levels in each grandstand and within the outdoor areas including the infield and fan zone.

Atlanta Motor Speedway has designated smoke free areas for this weekend’s events in Section 113 of the Petty Grandstand, Section 48 of the Elliott Grandstand and the entire Winners Grandstand. 

The announcement was made in order to notify fans of the change as tickets go on sale for the 2014 Labor Day NASCAR weekend.


Kyle Busch spent the first 300 miles of the Advocare 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway complaining about his race car. First, it was "plowing." Then it was "way too loose."

By end of the 500 miles, though, Busch was the man out front, as he held off a fast-closing Joey Logano to win his fourth race of the season and clinch a spot in this year's Chase for the Sprint Cup.

The complexion of the race changed with 37 laps to go when Jimmie Johnson ran into the back of Jeff Burton, who had slowed to make a pit stop. This brought out the seventh caution flag of the evening.

Busch won the race off pit road to vault into the lead, and he was able to hold onto the top spot through three restarts.

Logano, who led a race-high 78 laps, was fifth with 15 laps to go, and he was second with three laps remaining. However, he ran out of time in his bid to catch and pass Busch.

Martin Truex Jr., who was racing with a broken right wrist, finished third followed by Kurt Busch, Ryan Newman, Jeff Gordon, Juan Pablo Montoya, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kevin Harvick and Brian Vickers.

Kurt Busch moved into the top 10 in the point standings with his fourth-place finish. After the next race, Saturday at Richmond, Va., the top 10 in the standings will make the Chase as well as two wild cards. The wild-card entries will go to the two drivers with the most wins who rank 11 through 20th in the standings. Kasey Kahne and Truex hold those two spots.

Harvick, Carl Edwards and Kyle Busch all clinched spots Sunday night, bringing the total of drivers who are guaranteed spots in the Chase to six. The first three to clinch were Jimmie Johnson, Bowyer and Matt Kenseth.

Clint Bowyer began the night one of three drivers who had clinched a spot in the Chase for the Championship. As a result, Toyota and the team agreed to run a different engine combination than the rest of the Toyota teams in hopes of getting an edge for the Chase. For 192 laps, the decision looked like a great one, as Bowyer dominated the first half of the race. However, on lap 193, while leading by a comfortable margin, Bowyer suffered engine failure.

The resulting yellow flag, the fifth of the evening, was a big break for Logano. Logano had to make an unscheduled pit stop on lap 101 for a "bad vibration." It turned out that the vibration was caused by three loose lug nuts on the left rear wheel.

Logano was able to get back on the lead lap when the rest of the lead-lap cars made their scheduled pit stops, and he led for a while before Bowyer ran him down. Logano was within a couple of laps of being forced to pit when Bowyer had his engine problems. Logano was running second at the time and was able to get back on the same pit cycle as the rest of the top 10.

The top five off pit road during that yellow flag were Carl Edwards, Gordon, Logano, Jamie McMurray and Brad Keselowski. The green came back out on lap 198, and by lap 202, Logano had raced his way to the front.

Two laps later, Paul Menard punted Denny Hamlin, sending Hamlin spinning to bring out the sixth yellow flag. Logano and Edwards decided not to pit while the rest of the lead-lap cars all pitted for four tires.

The restart came on lap 212, and Keselowski immediately raced his way to the top spot.

The top five with a 100 laps to go were Keselowski, Logano, Newman, Harvick and Marcos Ambrose.

On lap 244, Keselowski lost a cylinder and fell off the pace. He was forced to limp his way around the track in hopes of getting to the finish.
Keselowski's night ended with 15 laps to go when the engine finally stopped running. He finished 35th.

"We can't control engine problems, and we were doing pretty well with what we could control," said Keselowski, whose chances of making the Chase were all but eliminated. "We were leading when it broke. There is nothing more we could have done."

Keselowski, the reigning Sprint Cup champion, started the race in 11th place in the standings. He is now 28 points out of the top 10 with only one race to go before the drivers for the Chase are determined.

With 100 miles to go, the top 10 was Logano, Newman, Kyle Busch, Harvick, Earnhardt, Gordon, McMurray, Ambrose, Montoya and Burton.
Edwards, who led the most laps during the first 400 miles, finished 18th

Keen Parts, a leading supplier of Corvette restoration parts and accessories, is pleased to sponsor Jeffrey Earnhardt in the Virginia 259 College Savings 250 at Richmond International Raceway, September 6, 2013.

Tradition continues with a General Motors affiliated company sponsoring an Earnhardt in the NASCAR Nationwide Series. The No. 79 Ford Mustang will feature GM Licensed Keen Parts on the No. 79 #Forvette.

Passion and fire, a will to win, coupled with Jeffrey's down home country boy lifestyle, owner Tom Keen believes that only an Earnhardt can make this happen - to feature a Chevrolet Corvette parts and accessories company on a Ford Mustang.

When asked why a Corvette parts business would sponsor a Ford, Tom Keen says, "We're a small business wanting to support this kid who is a good hearted, hardworking racer who is driven to succeed. We believe Jeffrey has the talent, drive, and ambition to succeed in NASCAR; because of that, we want to support Jeffrey, be it a Chevrolet or Ford."

The green flag drops at 7:30 pm on the Virginia 529 College Savings 250 NASCAR Nationwide

Series race with coverage on ESPN2, MRN Radio, as well as Sirius XM Channel 90.

Jeffery Earnhardt PR

Coming off a 16th-place finish at Bristol Motor Speedway, Jeff Green and the No. 14 Hefty®/Reynolds® Race team headed south to Atlanta Motor Speedway looking to continue the team’s momentum and have another solid finish.  Unfortunately with 19 laps remaining, Green was involved in an accident on the front-stretch that relegated the team to a disappointing 29th-place finish.  As a result, the TriStar Motorsports team dropped one position to 23rdin the NASCAR Owner Standings.   

Green started the Great Clips/Grit Chips 300 in the 26th position and was able to advance one position by lap 10.  Battling an extremely loose-handling car throughout the first green-flag run, the team took advantage of the first caution period on lap 35 to bring the Reynolds Wrap® Camry to pit road for service.  The team changed four tires, added fuel, and made huge swings at the chassis with air-pressure, track-bar, and wedge adjustments in hopes of helping the car’s handling.  Once the stop was complete, Green returned to the track in the 26th position, one lap down to the race leader.

On the restart, Green quickly moved into the “lucky dog” position and as luck would have it the caution flag waved three laps later.  Still batting a loose-handling condition on the No. 14 Camry, Green brought the car to pit road for another round of chassis adjustments and fuel. When the race resumed on lap 48, Green was scored on the lead lap in the 24th position.

As the race progressed, Green continued to battle a loose-handling car, yet he was still able to maintain his position. Shortly before the halfway marker of the race, a round of green-flag pit stops shuffled him back to the 25th position.  Green, however, was able to work his way back up to the 24th position by lap 102.

Two additional attempts at fixing the loose-handling condition were made in the later stages of the event, but the No. 14 car never responded to the changes.  With 19 laps remaining, the team’s bad day turned worse when Green, who was running in the 24th position, and another competitor got together on the front-stretch, resulting in a heavily damaged silver and blue Camry.  Unable to finish the event, the TriStar Motorsports team was credited with a 29th-place finish.  

Driver, Jeff Green Quotes:

“I’m really disappointed with how we ran tonight.  I hate it for everyone on the team and for Hefty® and Reynolds®.  After practice we thought we had a decent car in race trim and on older tires, but unfortunately, it was too loose in the race and no matter the adjustment, the car wouldn’t respond.  To make matters worse, we wrecked with less than 20 laps to go racing a car that wasn’t for position.”   


Roush Fenway Racing’s Travis Pastrana finished 17thSaturday night in the NASCAR Nationwide Series (NNS) race from Atlanta Motor Speedway, after a strong showing, that had Pastrana in the top-10 much of the night.

“I had a great car,” said Pastrana.  “The first half of the race was the best of my career so far.  I had an incident with Nelson Piquet that made us pit early and hurt us pretty bad.  Then I made a bad call on what I needed and we fell off the pace substantially.  It was the second race this year I crossed the finish line backward through the grass. But, it was fun racing [Brian] Vickers and [Elliott] Sadler at the end, even though it wasn't the position I had hoped to be battling them for.”

The NNS made the trip to Atlanta Motor Speedway for the second night race in as many weeks.  Pastrana, who led his first NNS laps at Atlanta, came into the weekend very excited, calling the track his favorite on the circuit.

Pastrana qualified 11th for the 300-mile race at the 1.5-mile track.  The No. 60 settled into the top-15 for the opening green flag run of the race.  When the caution came out on Lap 36, Pastrana radioed that the car was decent on the short run, but on the longer run the car was loose entering the center and tight in the center.  Crew Chief Chad Norris called Pastrana into the pits for four tires and fuel as well as wedge and air pressure adjustments. 

Shortly after a Lap 40 restart, Nelson Piquet bumped into the No. 60 in an effort to avoiding Kasey Kahne’s spinning car.  Pastrana received slight left side damage and scraped the wall with the right side.  Under the caution, Roush Fenway teammate Chris Buescher inspected the damage for Pastrana and radioed that the car looked fine.  Spotter Jason Hedlesky and Norris agreed that the damage was minimal and did not require a pit stop.

The race returned to green on Lap 48, with Pastrana radioing that there was a lot of tire smoke in the cockpit.  He decided to feel out the tire rub, electing not to pit.  Just a few laps later, Pastrana told the crew that the car felt really good.  His lap times reflected the handling, as Pastrana worked his way into the top-10.

On Lap 87 the No. 60 made its way down pit road a few laps early as Pastrana radioed that he felt a vibration.  The team took four tires and fuel and made another wedge adjustment.  After green flag pit stops cycled through, Pastrana was back in 10th.

On the next run, Pastrana dropped back to 15th, telling the crew that the car was tight in the center and very loose off the center.  On the final lap, Pastrana found himself in 15th, while racing with Vickers.  The tight racing got the No. 60 loose, with Pastrana sliding backward through the grass to cross the finish line 17th.


After qualifying 17th for Saturday's Great Clips/Grit Chips 300 at Atlanta Motor Speedway in Hampton, Ga., Parker Kligerman maneuvered his way into the top 10 in the early stages of the race as he and crew chief Eric Phillips worked on dialing in his Camry. As the race progressed into the second half, the handling on the No. 77 Toyota went from tight to extremely loose and the Connecticut native began drifting backwards outside of the top 15. Kligerman communicated to his crew that he believed a shock had malfunctioned, upsetting his car across the many bumps on the seasoned track, and with just under 40 laps remaining surrendered a lap to eventual race winner Kevin Harvick. A late caution allowed the team to take the "wave around" and return to the lead lap, leaving the youngster in the 18th spot for the final restart with 12 laps remaining. Over the course of the final run, the 23-year-old driver muscled his way past two competitors and salvaged a 16th-place finish.


"We ended up 16th -- it just wasn't our night," Kligerman said.  "We really probably had a car that I felt like was a top-10 and during the first portion of the race we got into the top-10 and started to stay there and then we're not sure if something broke or something happened, but we really were then relegated back to about an 18th-place car.  We were able to salvage a 16th at the end. We're not sure what happened, but we'll be sure to inspect everything.  None of these guys gave up and we salvaged at least a better finish than we ran there at the end.  We'll move on to Richmond where we just recently tested and had a good test, so hopefully we can go out there and have a good run." 


After finishing fourth and sixth, respectively, in the two practice sessions, the No. 77 team entered Saturday evening's qualifying session optimistic of earning a top-10 starting position. Kligerman's lap of 31.304 seconds at 177.102 mph earned him the 17th starting spot for the 195-lap race. After his lap he communicated that his Camry was "really tight," but both driver and crew chief felt that being tight in the early stages of the race would be beneficial when the hot Atlanta sun went down and the track temperatures cooled.


By the time the first caution of the race occurred on lap 36, Kligerman was only able to advance two spots as he communicated that his Camry was still really tight, especially in traffic. Phillips summoned his driver to pit road, where the over-the-wall crew executed a four-tire and fuel stop and returned their driver to the track scored in the 12th spot for the lap-40 restart.


Kligerman had a strong restart and by the time that the field returned to the start-finish line had moved up to the 10th spot. He remained 10th when a one-car spin slowed the field for a second time and communicated that his Toyota was "a little better from what I can tell so far."


When the green came back out on lap 48, the talented youngster once again gained a position on the restart, advancing up to ninth on lap 49. As a long green-flag run ensued, Kligerman exclaimed that his Toyota was "really, really tight" as he began subsiding. By lap 80 he had fallen back to the 17th spot, just before regularly scheduled stops began. On lap 91, the No. 77 machine came down pit road for a four-tire and fuel stop and returned to the track scored in the 16th position when pit stops cycled through.


Shortly after returning to the track, a debris caution occurred, slowing the field for the third time. With only one car behind him on the lead lap and the young driver once again experiencing a tight-handling Camry, Phillips elected to come down pit road to fill the car with fuel and lower the track bar in an effort to improve its balance.


Kligerman took the lap-108 restart from the 17th spot and once again was able to pick up several spots. By lap 110, his Camry had advanced into the 12th spot, but his time in the top 15 would be short lived. As he described his Toyota as "wrecking loose on entry and unable to get through the bumps," the 23-year old slid back to the 18th spot and on lap 154 went a lap down to Harvick.


On lap 181, Jeff Green and Ken Butler made contact, sending Green hard into the frontstretch wall and bringing out the final caution of the race. When pit road opened, Harvick and other lead lap cars visited pit road, so Kligerman and several other cars a lap down stayed on the track and took the "wave around."


The No. 77 Camry took the final restart from the 18th spot. Both driver and crew chief hoped for another quick caution which would allow them to put on the final set of fresh Goodyear tires and make one final adjustment, however, the race would remain caution free until the end. Despite still battling a very loose Toyota, Kligerman was able to muscle his way up to the 16th spot and was closing in on Brian Vickers in the 15th spot when the checkered flag waved.


Harvick picked up his first Nationwide Series win on 2013, the 40th of his career. KBM owner Kyle Busch finished 0.579 seconds behind Harvick in the runner-up spot. Sam Hornish Jr. finished third, Kasey Kahne fourth and Kyle Larson rounded out the top-five finishers.


There were four caution periods totaling 20 laps. Seven drivers led a lap, exchanging the lead 11 times. Twelve drivers failed to finish the 24th event of 2013.


Kligerman remains 10th in the Nationwide Series championship standings with 23 of 33 races complete, 1118 points behind series points leader Sam Hornish Jr. The Kyle Busch owned No. 77 remains 13th in the owner's championship standings, 223 points behind the series-leading No. 22 team.


Kligerman and his No. 77 Toyota Racing team head to Richmond (Va.) International Raceway. Sept. 6 for the Virginia 529 College Savings 250. Live television coverage of Saturday's 187.5-mile event begins with NASCAR Countdown at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN 2.




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