Speedway Digest Staff
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Cole Custer didn’t just break records Friday night, he shattered them.
The Ladera Ranch, Calif., driver became the youngest winner in NASCAR K&N Pro Series history with his wire-to-wire win in the Pork Be Inspired 150 at Iowa Speedway. He became the first driver to lead every lap in the combination race between the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East and West.
At 15 years, 6 months, 10 days, he’s nearly six months younger than previous record holder Dylan Kwasniewski (16 years, 2 months, 6 days). Custer also eclipsed Darrell Wallace Jr.’s East record of 16 years, 5 months, 19 days.
It was a dominating day for Custer, the son of Joe Custer, an executive with Stewart-Haas Racing. Custer was fastest in the second practice in the No. 00 Haas Automation Chevrolet and won his first 21 Means 21 Pole Award presented by Coors Brewing Co.
In the race, he was rarely challenged en route to a 2.679-second win over runner-up Eddie MacDonald. Daniel Suarez finished third and Greg Pursley was the highest finishing NASCAR K&N Pro Series West driver in fourth overall. Jesse Little rounded out the top five.
Cameron Hayley finished sixth, followed by Kenzie Ruston, Ryan Gifford, Brett Moffitt and Ben Rhodes.
It was Custer's fourth top 10 in his ninth career NASCAR K&N Pro Series East start. His previous best finishes were a third at Richmond in April and a fourth in the June combination race at Iowa.
Dylan Kwasniewski finished 12th overall to maintain his NASCAR K&N Pro Series East points lead of 21 over Moffitt and 32 over Ben Kennedy (14th) after nine of 15 races. NASCAR K&N Pro Series West points leader Derek Thorn finished 16th and is 12 points ahead of Michael Self (11th) and 15 ahead of Hayley after eight of 15 races.
The Pork Be Inspired 150 will air on Aug. 25 at 1 p.m. ET on FOXSports1 – the first NASCAR touring series race to air on the network, which will carry the touring series through next year.
Crafton made 25 laps and strangely enough, made two mock qualifying runs that picked up no speed over the race configuration runs by the No. 88 Rip It Energy Fuel / Menards Toyota. Crafton's best lap, in 54.315 seconds at an average speed of 165.7 mph, was his 12th on the racetrack and placed him ninth on the lone practice time sheet.
"We found out that one year of this pavement (which was laid last year) sitting takes away grip, because there's not as much grip as there was last year," Crafton's crew chief Carl "Junior" Joiner said, smiling. "We're fighting a little bit free getting into the corner when it gets on the right-rear.
"But I think we made some quality changes and I like it when we have a night when we can go back to the hotel and sleep on it and come back the next morning and make our final decisions. So we're going to do our final race prep, sleep on it and hopefully come up with some good stuff by the morning."
Crafton does have three finishes better than eighth in three Pocono races and this season his team, which has a 48-point lead in the Truck Series' standings, has had several excellent runs after being less-than-stellar in practice -- though that was usually out of the top-10.
Sauter also made 25 circuits but his best came in his next-to-last lap, which gave him great optimism. Sauter attempted a mock run but got impeded by no less than four trucks, three of which came on the racetrack in front of him and another that ran him up the racetrack in the Tunnel Turn.
Sauter's best lap in the No. 98 Carolina Nut Co. / Curb Records Toyota was in 54.51 seconds at an average speed of 165.107 mph. That placed him 13th on the time sheet. Miguel Paludo's chart-topping best lap was in 53.676 seconds, an average of 167.673 mph, two-and-a-half tenths better than second-place Ross Chastain.
"We got better every time we went out and a lot of times that's all you can ask for," Sauter said. "We unloaded in the ballpark and we didn't get to do a mock (qualifying) run so to stay 13th at a place like this without a mock run -- we tried to do one and people pulled out in front of us -- so that makes you feel pretty good about how the truck is.
"I'm not sure where we would've ended up, but I'm sure we'll be a lot better off than where it looks like we are, now, on the time sheet."
Both teams agreed they found what they were looking for without doing a particularly long run on the racetrack.
"A long run here is only three or four laps because the place is so big, and you really only get one set of practice tires so you try to keep minimal laps on them until you find a decent balance," Joiner said. "We ran a fair amount of laps and Matt wanted to help (Toyota "teammate" Darrell Wallace Jr.) so he followed us and I think the longest run we made was five or six laps, and that was when we got the balance a lot better, so I think we'll be OK."
"We made some runs of four-five laps, but that kind of is a long run, here, when you consider the race is only 50 laps," Sauter said. "All I know is, I felt good and I felt like I had some grip and that the truck was stable."
Sauter did say there might be one wild card.
"With all these Cup cars and ARCA cars running around, who knows what it will feel like tomorrow," Sauter said of Saturday's schedule, which has a 50-minute Sprint Cup practice before the Trucks' 10 a.m. qualifying session. "They're gonna put a ton of rubber down on a green racetrack and it might change the whole racetrack and until (Saturday) we won't know."
Saturday said the very nature of qualifying, when the truck's nose is taped and the driver is amped-up on adrenaline -- plus the fact Pocono's an impound race and the setup that's put on the truck before qualifying can't be put through major changes.
"But it's the same for everybody," Sauter said. "So we'll go back home (Friday) night and study our notes and see what we've had under us the last couple years, talk to our teammates and try to make educated guesses, which at the end of the day is all everybody does in racing, is guess."
On Saturday, Coors Light Pole Qualifying is at 10 a.m. ET, with live TV coverage on the SPEED Channel. Pocono Mountains 125 coverage begins at 12:30 p.m. with The Setup pre-race show on SPEED along with pre-race coverage on MRN Radio. The race broadcast begins on both outlets at 1 p.m. for 50 laps and 125 miles.
The Setup and the Pocono Mountains 125 is set to re-air at 11 p.m. ET Saturday evening.
No, Ryan Newman’s phone didn’t start ringing off the hook on Monday, despite Rocket Man’s impressive victory at Indianapolis Motor Speedway a day early.
Friends, called to express their congratulations of course, but the win didn’t change things in the immediate term as far as prospective employers for 2014 are concerned.
Though the win at the Brickyard did wonders for Newman’s resume, he feels he needs another standout performance to show teams that might be interested in hiring him that the Indy victory wasn’t a one-hit wonder.
Newman heard from a lot of people after the race, but none with a job offer.
"Nothing with respect to that," said Newman, who learned in early July that his services wouldn’t be needed at Stewart-Haas Racing next year. "It was more a matter of friends and family and people that I hadn’t talked to that have helped me in my racing career at some point in my life. Those people, I think, reached out more than anything else.
"Obviously, it didn’t hurt with respect to (potential employers), but it’s not like a light switch where you can just flip it, and everything turns on. I think it’s up to us as well to do the same thing we did last weekend and at least show that it’s not just a one-off deal--we can duplicate and replicate the things that happened. We’ll see how things go."
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. found out the hard way just how tricky Pocono’s tunnel turn can be--especially when you’re trying to downshift into the corner.
Stenhouse scraped the wall in the Tunnel Turn during Friday’s Sprint Cup practice session. The driver’s first reaction was that his No. 17 Roush Fenway Racing team would have to unload the backup car, but crew chief Scott Graves opted to repair the primary.
"I had my hands full there," Stenhouse said after the incident. I though the guys were going to have to bring me out the backup on that one for sure. I was just getting used to this race track. Last time here (in June) was the first time I ever downshifted really at an oval, so I was getting used to that.
"I didn’t downshift the first five laps through the Tunnel Turn, but then I said, ‘Hey, I’m going to downshift here and see if we can get a little extra speed.’ I downshifted a little too early, and it jumped out from under me. I thought we were bringing a backup out, but we got lucky and (only) scraped the right rear."
Whether it’s preparing a backup or repairing a primary, a brush with the wall means extra work for the crew--and Stenhouse is willing to pay the price for that.
"I owe the guys dinner now," he said. "I told them any time I scrape the wall, I owe them dinner, so now I owe them another dinner."
Indeed, the team made expeditious repairs, and Stenhouse was back on the track with more than 20 minutes left in the 90-minute session, with the right rear of the No. 17 Ford heavily taped.
With six races left before the Chase for the Sprint Cup field is set at Richmond, Martin Truex Jr. is one of the "bubble boys."
Currently 11th in the standings and first among claimants to the two available wild card spots because of his road-course victory at Sonoma, Truex would like to put Pocono in his rear-view mirror after a respectable finish at the 2.5-mile track.
Truex and his Michael Waltrip Racing teammates, Clint Bowyer and Mark Martin, struggled at Pocono in June, but Truex is looking forward to the next five tracks with relish.
"This weekend is definitely important," Truex told the NASCAR Wire Service after Friday’s practice. "I think if we can get through this race and stay kind of where we are--in touch with the top-10 and only a couple points out of that--I think we'll be in good shape. We've got some great tracks coming up for us.
"Watkins Glen, obviously really looking forward to that after what we did at Sonoma. Atlanta is coming up. It's one of my favorites. We’ve definitely got some places where we could run well--Bristol has been good for us--so I think we just need to get through this one. I feel like we can get another win before the Chase starts, and we're going to work hard to try to make that happen."
After breaking ground at the beginning of July, Daytona International Speedway’s historic DAYTONA Rising project is off to a fast start
Here are the construction activities currently underway:
- Demolition of all underground utilities and overhead power lines along the entire frontstretch
- Relocations of fire pump, emergency generators and electrical panels
- Installation of water and storm sanitary lines on the west side
- Installation of electrical ductbank and manholes on the west side
- Demolition of Americrown buildings at Hospitality Village
- Demolition of Commissary Building at the base of the Sprint Tower
- Initial installation of anchors and footings for temporary ticketing gates
Barton Malow is serving as the general contractor for the project. In addition to DAYTONA Rising, Barton Malow has renovated the University of Michigan “Big House” and the Rose Bowl.
ROSSETTI, an award-winning architectural design and planning firm for the past 40 years, which headed the design for Ford Field NFL Stadium, University of Notre Dame Compton Family Ice Arena and five Major League Soccer Stadiums, is leading the master planning of the DAYTONA Rising site.
Watkins Glen International offers an array of Cheez-It® infused concessions during the Cheez-ItTM 355 at The Glen (August 8-11). Grilled Cheez-It® Sandwiches, Cheez-It® Tacos and NY Style Cheez-It® Cheesecake will be sold at a number of concession stands throughout the facility.
Concession stands will feature a number of other specialty items including, four varieties of Sahlen’s Hot Dogs, Yancey’s Fancy Cheese Curds, Buffalo Wing Nachos and much more!
A map with concession stand locations and what they serve can be found here. Download the WGI mobile app by searching “Watkins Glen International” on you smart phone’s app store. The app features a number of maps, including the concession stand map, as well as a number of other helpful features.