Tuesday, Dec 05
Speedway Digest Staff

Speedway Digest Staff

Follow us on Twitter @SpeedwayDigest

No. 15 PEAK/Duck Dynasty Toyota Camry crew chief Brian Pattie circles Watkins Glen on his Sprint Cup Series schedule each year - and with good reason. Pattie has won in all three of NASCAR’s top touring series at the upstate New York road course.

Pattie’s first win at Watkins Glen came in 1999 with Ron Fellows in the No. 87 truck in the Camping World Truck Series. He followed that up with back-to-back Nationwide Series wins with Fellows in 2000 and 2001. Pattie won in the Sprint Cup Series with Juan Pablo Montoya in 2010.

Since joining MWR as crew chief of the No. 15 Toyota, Pattie and driver Clint Bowyer have never finished outside the top-five at a road course. The pair scored a win at Sonoma Raceway in 2012, a fourth place finish at Watkins Glen in 2012 and a fifth place finish at Sonoma in June. 

BOWYER ON DUCK DYNASTY: “Being a guest on an episode of Duck Dynasty with Willie and the boys was probably one of the biggest things I’ve done outside of a racecar since I got in this business. I had absolutely no idea the reach that show has. I spent my whole life working hard and making sacrifices to become a racecar driver and to be known as a good racecar driver. Now I’m just the guy with the camouflage limo that was on Duck Dynasty. (laughs). I think it’s great that PEAK and Duck Dynasty came together to create this paint scheme and have some fun with it. I’m excited to race it and I’m hoping to get my first win of the season in that hot rod.”

BOWYER ON PATTIE: “I used to hate going to Watkins Glen, but with the team I’m with now - I love going there. Pattie is so good at race strategy and calling races. He builds a fast car. Together we’ve been able to make good decisions, get the car handling the way we need to and keep getting better until the checkered flag. I think that’s been the key difference from where I’ve been to where I’m at now with a new crew chief. Watkins Glen has always been a track where I struggle to get speed right off the truck, but by the end of the weekend we were in the top-five last time. Hopefully we can continue to improve on that. We were fast at Sonoma and I think we’re going to be fast again this weekend.” 


Kyle Busch’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series resume at Watkins Glen International doesn’t completely tell the story of his eight career starts at the road course in Upstate New York.

Busch, driver of the No. 18 M&M’s Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR), has notched an impressive seven top-10 finishes in those eight starts at The Glen. One of those top-10s was his 2008 victory and, when adding his average finish of 9.0 along with his 159 laps led, Busch’s record is quite dazzling at the site of Sunday’s 355k at The Glen.

But while Busch’s record is impressive at The Glen, he won’t soon forget the two that got away from him.

In addition to Busch’s 2008 win there, he came agonizingly close to his second Sprint Cup win on the 2.45-mile, 11-turn road course his last two visits there. In 2011, after leading three times for a race-high 49 laps, Busch found himself in a three-wide situation on a late restart with Brad Keselowski and eventual race-winner Marcos Ambrose. Busch was forced to fall back and had to settle for a second-place finish after an otherwise dominant day by the M&M’s team.

Then, last year, Busch again found himself in the lead as the white flag flew at The Glen. But oil on the racetrack slowed him dramatically on the last lap as, again Keselowski and Ambrose closed in on him entering turn two, and Keselowski made contact with Busch, sending him spinning. Busch recovered to finish seventh, but it was another bitter pill to swallow at The Glen when he yet again had victory within his grasp.

While he has proven his worth over the years on road courses, in general, Busch will understandably be looking for redemption Sunday after being so close to winning at The Glen in 2011 and 2012.

Also, with just five races remaining before the Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship field is set, Busch sits sixth in the standings and in a much better position than a year ago, when he was 15th and battling to crack the top-10 in points and the chance to make NASCAR’s playoffs. But with two wins thus far and a solid points position, a third win this season would add precious bonus points in the initial Chase standings if Busch and the M&M’s team can close the deal Sunday in the New York’s Fingers Lakes region.


Start spreading the news. I’m leaving today. I want to be a part of it. New York, New York.” Like the familiar refrain made famous by Frank Sinatra, Jimmie Johnson would sure like to be a part of something in New York this weekend – victory lane. The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series visits its second and final road course of the season at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International this weekend.

Johnson has never won at the 2.45-mile, 11-turn road course. It is one of five of the 23 tracks that the Sprint Cup Series visits where Johnson has yet to win.  Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Ill., Homestead-Miami (Fla.) Speedway and Kentucky Speedway in Sparta are the others.

He does have six-top 10 finishes in 11 starts at the track in the sport’s top series. He also has competed there in the NASCAR Nationwide Series, when he famously went off course in 2000, as well as with the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series for Bob Stallings Racing in 2010.

While his numbers are respectable at the facility – he even earned the pole position in 2009 – he’d certainly “like to wake in that city” to find he’s “king of the hill, top of the heap,” like the song says. To do that, however, he’ll need to be ahead of 42 other competitors Sunday coming off the final turn at the New York State track, where anything can happen and usually does.


Michael Annett may not be as well known for his road course racing as his Richard Petty Motorsports teammate Marcos Ambrose, but he's also not one to be overlooked going into the NASCAR Nationwide Series (NNS) race at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International this weekend.


Annett continues his efforts to improve on road courses. Earlier this year, he joined several other Ford drivers at Miller Motorsports Park in Utah. Last month, he attended a road course school at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.


Annett has four starts at the 2.45-mile road course. His average finish is 17.2 and he earned his best finish of 11th at Watkins Glen last year. With 12 road course starts under his belt in the NNS, Annett has shown improvement in his last few road course races. While the finishing positions may not always match the effort, the team is optimistic heading into Watkins Glen.


Comments from the No. 43 Pilot Travel Centers Ford Mustang driver Michael Annett:


"We still have some work to do to master the road courses, but I feel like we have a good shot at a solid finish this weekend. We were running in the top-five at Road America earlier this year and finished 11th at Watkins Glen last year. I've also been able to get some practice at two different courses this year. Watkins Glen is a really fast track, a little different than Road America, but we've got some good notes to work off of from last year."


Comments from Crew Chief Philippe Lopez on Watkins Glen:


"Watkins Glen is a really fast road course, and we'll really have to make sure the car is stable and we don't use up all of the brakes at the beginning of the race. Fuel Mileage will be a key player this weekend, and our Roush Yates Engines have been the best on the track when it comes to fuel mileage. If we can take care of the car the whole race and work the strategy right, we should get a solid finish this weekend.


"Even though Michael is not known for his road course racing, he has done pretty well on them the last couple of road course races we've had. We didn't get the results at Road America this year because of getting caught up in a wreck on a green-white-checkered finish, but we were running in the top-five before the wreck. We finished 11th at Watkins Glen last year, so it should be a good weekend for our team."



After a two-week hiatus, Turner Scott Motorsports (TSM) returned to action in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East (NKNPSE) on Friday night at Iowa Speedway. The Pork Be Inspired 150 was the second of two combination NKNPSE and NASCAR K&N Pro Series West races at the 0.875-mile oval this season. TSM fielded five entries for the race, full-time competitors Austin Dyne, Dylan Kwasniewski and Kenzie Ruston along with part-time competitors Brandon Jones and Ben Rhodes. Ruston led the way for TSM, finishing fifth in the NKNPSE and seventh overall, with Rhodes eighth in the NKNPSE and 10th overall, Kwasniewski finished ninth in the NKNPSE and 12th overall, while Jones and Dyne got caught up in an accident and finished 19th in the NKNPSE, 29th overall, and 21st in the NKNPSE, 31st overall, respectively.


Kenzie Ruston's day started off well at Iowa Speedway as she qualified in the 10th position for the Pork Be Inspired 150. She battled her way up to the sixth position during the first segment before bringing her No. 34 AccuDoc Solutions Chevrolet down pit road in the eighth position for the halfway break. During the break, her TSM crew changed four tires and made adjustments for the final segment. Ruston was able to maintain a top-10 position throughout the final segment in her No. 34 AccuDoc Solutions Chevrolet and brought her car home in the seventh position overall, placing her fifth in the NKNPSE.


"The car was great all night at Iowa Speedway," said Ruston. "In the first segment I worked on getting all of the track position I could so we would have a good starting spot for the second segment. My team at Turner Scott Motorsports did a great job of preparing the car and making adjustments during the break. We had several late-race restarts and were able to bring the No. 34 AuccuDoc Solutions Chevrolet home in seventh. So overall it was a very good night for my AccuDoc Solutions team."


Making his fourth career NKNPSE start this past weekend at Iowa Speedway, Ben Rhodes qualified his No. 41 Alpha Energy Solutions Chevy 15th to start the 150-lap race. The NASCAR Next driver wasted no time working his way to front, finding himself in the 2nd position at the two-thirds mark of the East-West event. Rhodes would hold onto his top-5 position until having a tire issue on the restart at lap 108 causing him to drop to the back of the pack. Rhodes would rebound from the tire issue andhang on to finish 10th overall in the event, and eight in the NKNPSE. This finish marked Rhodes third top-10 finish in his first four starts in the series.


"I would like to thank my Turner Scott Motorsports team for all the hard work they put into the Alpha Energy Solutions Chevy this weekend," said Rhodes. "The car felt like we had a tire going down after the restart late in the race and we just couldn't drive it like we did at the beginning. We stayed on the track and our Turner Scott Motorsports Chevy eventually came to us. I am looking forward to making my next East Series start at Greenville-Pickens Speedway in September."


Dylan Kwasniewski and his Rockstar Energy/Royal Purple team returned to Iowa Speedway, after finishing second overall and being credited with the NKNPSE win in the June event there. Kwasniewski led the first practice session and placed 14th in final practice before qualifying seventh for the 150-lap race. Kwasniewski moved into the top five by the second lap but fell back to seventh before the mid-race break. In the second half of the race, Kwasniewski battled a loose-handling race car, slipping back to 12th overall by the race's conclusion, placing him ninth in the NKNPSE and allowing him to maintain his top spot in the points.


"This wasn't our best night," stated Kwasniewski. "We started the weekend off well, but our car just wouldn't turn in the corners, especially in the second half of the race. I still have to thank my Turner Scott Motorsports team for all the hard work and thank Rockstar and Royal Purple for their support. Despite not having the night we wanted, we still only lost two points from our lead in the standings, so I'm happy about that. We're looking forward to going road-course racing at VIR in a few weeks."


Brandon Jones also made his second start at Iowa Speedway in the Pork Be Inspired 150. After qualifying 22nd for the 150-lap event, Jones spent the early part of the race working his way through the field. By lap 43, he had moved his No. 33 Rheem Chevrolet into the 14th position and on lap 59 he worked his way into the 13th position. At the halfway break, Jones was in the 13th position and received four tires, fuel and a tear-off. On lap 98, Jones was battling for position when he made contact with another competitor. Unfortunately, the contact sent Jones and his No. 33 Rheem Chevrolet to the garage for the remainder of the race. He ultimately finished the race in 29th, and 19th in the NKNPSE.


"We had a good night going in the Rheem Chevrolet," said Jones. "We started in the 22nd position and were very methodical about working our way through the field. We came in for the break and had a good restart position, but unfortunately we ended up wrecking and one of my teammates got caught up in it. I just can't thank the guys back in the Turner Scott Motorsports K&N shop enough for all of the hard work they put into this Rheem Chevrolet."


Austin Dyne qualified 31st for the race at Iowa Speedway, having most recently raced at the 0.875-mile track previously in June. Dyne quickly worked his way through the field, finding himself in the 19th position at the halfway break. During the break Dyne's No.99 KMC Wheels team changed 4 tires, added fuel and made adjustments to his TSM Chevy. After the restart, Dyne held onto his top-20 position until Lap 98 when he was involved in a multi-car accident. The KMC Wheels Chevy suffered irreparable damage and Dyne was credited with a 31st place finish overall, which placed him 21st in the NKNPSE.


"Tonight was a tough night for this KMC Wheels team here at Iowa," said Dyne. "We got caught up in an accident after the break that ended our night early. It's a shame because this KMC Wheels Chevy was really dialed in and we were making our way to the front. I've got to thank my Turner Scott Motorsports team for the hard work; we're all looking forward to getting back on the track in a few weeks at VIR."


TSM will return to action in the NKNPSE at Virginia International Raceway for the Biscuitville 125 on Saturday, August 24. TSM's three full-time entries, Dyne, Kwasniewski and Ruston, will compete in the event.



Phoenix International Raceway President Bryan R. Sperber announced today that ServiceMaster Clean and ServiceMaster Restorewill be the title sponsor of the track’s November NASCAR Nationwide Series race.  The ServiceMaster 200 marks the first race entitlement for ServiceMaster in NASCAR.

The ServiceMaster 200 will be the featured event for the third day of PIR’s November race weekend.  With the Nationwide Series title on the line, the green flag will drop on the ServiceMaster 200 at Noon EST/ 2 p.m. MST on Saturday, November 9.  

“We are delighted to welcome ServiceMaster to Phoenix International Raceway as the title sponsor of our Nationwide event,” said Sperber. “We are tremendously proud to be associated with such a great company.”

“The ServiceMaster 200 is an exciting opportunity for ServiceMaster to engage with the customers we serve each day,” said Eric Eurich, vice president of marketing for ServiceMaster Clean. “Phoenix International Raceway is a model for delivering best-in-class racing experiences. We share that passion and believe this race sponsorship will communicate the company’s breadth of services and a commitment to the complete customer experience.”

As the official sponsor of the yellow flag caution period for International Speedway Corporation  and PIR, track personnel and the track-drying equipment display the ServiceMaster Clean brand which can be seen frequently cleaning the race track, removing debris, and drying the track quickly and professionally in order to restart the race.

Not only are ServiceMaster Clean and ServiceMaster Restore market leaders in cleaning and disaster restoration with more than 60 years of experience but also are business units of the ServiceMaster family of brands. ServiceMaster is one of the world’s largest residential networks, featuring other household names such as Terminix, TruGreen, American Home Shield, Merry Maids, Furniture Medic and AmeriSpec.


Aric Almirola showed improvement in his road course skills earlier this season at Sonoma Raceway when he finished eight spots better than his previous best finish. This weekend, Almirola looks to continue that progression at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International. He will be driving the No. 43 Smithfield Ford this weekend and leaning on teammate and two-time winner at the Glen, Marcos Ambrose.


Almirola scored his best Sprint Cup road course finish at the New York track last season. He also tallied his career-best road course finish in the NASCAR Nationwide series at the Glen with an eighth-place finish in the 2011 event.


No. 43 Crew Chief Todd Parrott won the last two events at Watkins Glen with Ambrose at the helm and has compiled one pole, four top-five finishes and five top-10 finishes in 15 starts.


Comments from Smithfield Ford Fusion Driver Aric Almirola:


"You can't compare Watkins Glen and Sonoma at all. Sonoma is like the Martinsville of road courses, and then when you go to Watkins Glen, it's like Charlotte. It's just so much faster. The speed that we carry at Watkins Glen is unbelievable. It's a fun road course. It's just extremely fast. Sonoma is really slow and technical. Watkins Glen is wide open.


"I enjoy road racing. I wish I was better at it. Everyone enjoys something they are good at. The better I get at road racing, the more I learn from Marcos, the more I enjoy it. Going back to Watkins Glen, I'm really looking forward to seeing the difference from last year. Each time I go to a road course, I get a little more comfortable, so track time will be really important to do well in the race. My goal is to learn as much as I can, stay on the track and beat my best finish there."


Comments from Smithfield Ford Fusion Crew Chief Todd Parrott:


"Aric has shown a lot of improvement on road courses this year. We had a really good test at Sonoma where he logged a ton of laps. That carried through for the race, and he posted his best finish at the track. The key for him will be to get some good track time during practice, and having a teammate like Marcos (Ambrose) will really help us. We will be able to lean on the No. 9 team with our setups and then dial them in for Aric. If he can get a good rhythm for the race, I'm confident he will do well on Sunday."



The past two years, Marcos Ambrose and the No. 9 Stanley Racing team of Richard Petty Motorsports have closed down Watkins Glen International while celebrating in Victory Lane. Ambrose is the defending two-time winner at the road course in Upstate New York and is looking for a three-peat this weekend.


Ambrose looks to be the first driver since Denny Hamlin to three-peat at the same track. Hamlin accomplished the feat in 2009 and 2010 at the Martinsville (Va.) Speedway.


With five total NASCAR wins at Watkins Glen, Ambrose is always a threat at the track. He has three wins in the Nationwide Series at The Glen to go with his two Cup victories. In Sprint Cup competition, Ambrose will be making his sixth start at the track. His average finish is second in his five previous starts and has lowest finish is third.


Ambrose will welcome Canadian Tire on the hood of the No.9 this weekend.


Comments from Stanley Ford Fusion Driver Marcos Ambrose:


"Obviously, we feel like we are contenders each time we go to Watkins Glen, and this weekend is no different. I just know what I want in the car, and we have been fortunate enough to get that feel in our Stanley Ford Fusions the past two races. That allows me to race up front, and I have a lot of confidence. Watkins Glen is a really fast track, and I really enjoy it. I know what I need to do to be there at the end.


"Last year was a really great finish. It was stressful, but a lot of fun to battle against Kyle and Brad the last few laps for the win. We were dealing with the elements of the track having oil on it, and we were all sliding all around. It led to an exciting finish, and I'm happy that we came out on top.


"We have had a tough season this year, but this race can very quickly turn it around and put us in contention for a wild card berth in the chase. That's what our goal is right now. We haven't given up, and this entire crew keeps fighting hard. I'm proud to be associated with this Richard Petty Motorsports team, and hopefully, we can continue our streak at Watkins Glen this weekend."


Comments from Crew Chief Drew Blickensderfer on Ambrose at The Glen:


"This is a track where Marcos makes it very easy on me. He knows what he wants in the car all the way down to the steering wheel and shifter ball. It's just a matter of listening and making the changes Marcos wants. It's really fun to work a road course with him. You learn so much. He just doesn't care what others are doing. He really is the leader in the Cup garage when it comes to setting up a car here.


"I feel that this is a weekend that can really turn everything around for us. We can climb into the top-20 in points and be there for a wild card berth. This team has been in that position the last two years, and hopefully, we can be in position again. Then, we can go for more wins and hopefully make the chase."



David Ragan's most recent finish at Watkins Glen International (August 2012) was also his career best, and he'll look to top that result one year later as the Sprint Cup Series heads back to the 2.45-mile road course in New York's Finger Lakes region.


Ragan earned a 22nd-place finish in his first Watkins Glen start in a Front Row Motorsports Ford one year ago, topping his previous five starts at the track.  The driver of the No. 34 Taco Bell Ford cites mastering the course's "Inner Loop" turn as a key to a good finish at The Glen.  The bus stop chicane at the end of the backstretch provides opportunities for both passing and wrecking. The No. 34 team will look to stay "in the loop" to use it to an advantage in Sunday's Cheez-It 355 at The Glen.


Comments from Taco Bell team driver David Ragan heading to Watkins Glen:


"The two road courses we race on are pretty different.  Some of the parts and pieces on your road course cars from Sonoma and Watkins Glen are the same, and you can get a true test from one track to the other.  But as far as driving techniques and handling, it's really different.  Watkins Glen is such a fast racetrack.  Our Front Row Motorsports team enjoys going to the road courses.  It gives us a chance to play some strategy and have an opportunity at a great finish.


"The road races in the Sprint Cup Series have really gotten super competitive.  I think there's 20 guys that can have a shot to win.  We've seen a lot of road course first-time victories in the last couple years.  The Glen is a fun track and a challenging track.  We'll look to get up to speed on Friday and have a nice clean race on Sunday.


"The Inner Loop is tough.  You've got a really fine line with how aggressive you can be.  You can lose or gain a lot of time getting out of the Inner Loop, setting yourself up for that squeezing right-hander.  That's a good passing zone to get out of that corner fast.  But you can't overshoot it.  You can't knock your splitter off running through the curves and the dirt and the grass.  It's very unique and it's a tough corner, but it's fun.  I know that there's a lot of fans who always sit around on top of their motorhomes on that Inner Loop, and they're seeing some action every single lap."



The Sprint Cup Series takes its Gen-6 car to Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International for the first time this weekend, but David Gilliland already has plenty of laps under his belt on the 2.45-mile road course.  The No. 38 Long John Silver's team tested at the track last week to prepare for the series' second road race of the year.


The team worked on a new brake package during the two-day session at The Glen, where high speeds and tight turns call for the ability to stop on a dime for 90 laps.  The knowledge gained from the test, combined with Gilliland's road-course racing abilities and crew chief Frank Kerr's successful track record at the venue, has the team going to Watkins Glen with confidence. 


The Cheez-It 355 at The Glen will be Gilliland's sixth start on the course.  He earned his best result last year when he finished 20th.


Comments from Long John Silver's team driver David Gilliland heading to Watkins Glen:


"The two road courses we go to are definitely very different.  Watkins Glen is a very high-speed, less technical track.  Sonoma's definitely more technical.  They're very different courses that require different approaches and different styles of driving.  But we feel prepared, even though we haven't raced at The Glen yet this year and you can't carry a whole lot over from Sonoma. 


"We tested there last week and had two good days on track there.  We tried some new brakes there that I think are going to help our program.  Frank Kerr, my crew chief, has run well there in the past, and we're excited about the race.  I enjoy road racing, so going to Watkins Glen is something that's definitely marked on our calendar with a star.


"The Inner Loop (turn on the backstretch) is very difficult.  You see a lot of guys going off track there when they're trying to pass.  It's one of the passing zones of the racetrack but something that you wish wasn't there.  You wish you could go straight through it, but you can't.  You've got to go through the turn."




No right click

Please link the article.