Sunday, Oct 01
Speedway Digest Staff

Speedway Digest Staff

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Trevor Bayne and his No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Fusion picked up the pace significantly from practice and will start 17th in Sunday’s Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Bayne turned a qualifying lap at 175.507 miles per hour, which was more than two miles per hour faster than his best lap in practice of 173.321 mph.

“That wasn’t a bad lap at all,” Bayne said of his best qualifying run since a 15th at Talladega Superspeedway in May. “We just got tight in the center [of the corners] there, and I wondered if I carried a little too much speed in trying not to use any brakes, so the second lap I tried to use more brake and we slowed down a lot”.

“Overall that is a really good pickup for my guys, and they did a really good job making adjustments from practice to this. I think most people were picking up like two-tenths [of a second per lap], and we picked up about five.”

Bayne said his qualifying run gives him renewed optimism heading into Sunday’s finale of the Ford Championship Weekend.

“That is a good run, and we can at least see the front from there and hopefully make it happen,” he said.
Among the 14 Ford Fusions in the starting field for the Sprint Cup season-ending Ford EcoBoost 400 is the No. 32 driven by a former Wood Brothers’ driver Ken Schrader, who is making his final Sprint Cup start.

Schrader, who drove the No. 21 Ford in 2006 and 2007, started his Sprint Cup career back in 1984 in a Ford fielded by Elmo Langley, and 29 years, 762 races and four wins later he’ll end it in another Ford, the Fusion owned by Frankie Stoddard, who has been working on Fords and fielding them for most of his NASCAR career.
Wood said Schrader, one of more than 70 drivers to take the wheel of the No. 21, earned his place in the history of the family race team. “We’ve known Ken since he raced for Elmo Langley and then Junie Donlavey,” Wood said. “He came to drive for us at a time we were kind of in a transition phase and needed a veteran driver. He was a big help to us.”
Schrader said he has the utmost respect for the Woods. “Before I ever drove for them they were at the top of my list, and they still are today,” he said.

Wood Brothers Racing PR

Building on its commitment to support children’s health care in the South Miami-Dade area, The NASCAR Foundation hosted its second annual Championship Taste event Thursday night at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

NASCAR drivers, fans and friends gathered at Homestead-Miami Speedway to enjoy a unique dining experience while raising money for the Speediatrics unit at Homestead Hospital, culminating with a $100,000 check presentation. The donation ensures that Miami-area children will continue to receive premium care and treatment in a colorful and fun NASCAR-themed environment.

“We’re so thankful for the wonderful sponsors, restaurants, drivers and the NASCAR fans and family who made Championship Taste at Homestead-Miami Speedway a success,” The NASCAR Foundation Executive Director Lorene King said. “We’re especially grateful for the partnership with the Pineapple Ladies of the Homestead Hospital Foundation who rallied the local community in support of the event. The best part about this event is that all funds raised stay local and ensure that Speediatrics will continue its important work in South Florida.”

Located at Homestead Hospital, the Speediatrics unit is dedicated to caring for the local community’s children. The NASCAR-themed, eight-bed unit includes a pediatric trauma room where the most severely ill or injured children can be stabilized, and is staffed by highly experienced pediatric emergency physicians and skilled nurses. Featuring colorful artwork and décor designed to ease anxiety and lift the spirits of young patients, Speediatrics has provided hope and comfort to thousands of children and their families.

“Last year, the Betty Jane France Children's Emergency Center treated more than 25,000 young patients,” Homestead Hospital CEO Bill Duquette said. “Through the generosity of The NASCAR Foundation, children are able to receive the care they need in a colorful, cheerful and calming environment."

This year’s event featured 23 South Florida restaurants showcasing their best menu items of 2013, including Celebrity Chef Adrianne Calvo’s restaurant, Chef Adrianne’s Vineyard Restaurant and Wine Bar. Participants had the opportunity to vote on their favorite restaurants from the night. Honors went to: Marker 88 (Overall Fan Favorite), Schnebly Redlands Winery (Best Drink), Ocean Reef (Best Appetizer), Smoke and Spice (Best Entrée) and Misha’s Cupcakes (Best Dessert).

In one of the evening’s highlights, Chef Adrianne and NASCAR national series drivers Aric Almirola, David Ragan, Johanna Long and Jennifer Jo Cobb, along with NASCAR Next drivers Gray Gaulding, Ryan Gifford, Ben Kennedy and Kenzie Ruston, squared off in a cooking contest. The group followed a recipe to create a spicy pinto beans and smoked sausage dish with all meats donated by Eckrich. The contest paired seasoned veterans with rising stars on a playing field other than a race track. The winners of this annual contest were Aric Almirola and Ben Kennedy, besting last year’s winner Johanna Long.

Other notables in attendance included NASCAR President and The NASCAR Foundation Vice Chairman Mike Helton, foundation board member and former NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Rusty Wallace, Homestead-Miami Speedway President Matthew Becherer, ESPN analyst and former three-time NASCAR Sprint Cup champion crew chief Ray Evernham, Miss Sprint Cups Kim Coon and Brooke Werner and the reigning Miss Florida Myrrhanda Jones.

In January, The NASCAR Foundation will host the Taste of the 24, a similar event that kicks off the Rolex 24 At Daytona weekend with fabulous music, great food and non-stop racing. The Taste of 24 will benefit The NASCAR Foundation Scholarship Program for graduating high school seniors in Volusia County.


Game on.

With a pole-winning run Friday at Homestead-Miami Speedway, Matt Kenseth sent a clear message to Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup leader Jimmie Johnson.

Kenseth isn't about to go down in the championship battle without a fight.

Touring the 1.5-mile speedway in 30.394 seconds (177.667 mph), Kenseth drove the No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota to his third Coors Light pole award of the year (tying a single-season career best), his first at Homestead and the 11th of his career.

Trailing Johnson by 28 points entering the Ford EcoBoost 400, the season finale in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, Kenseth will start six positions ahead of Johnson, who qualified seventh at 176.598 mph.

Nevertheless, Kenseth doesn't expect to have a shot at the championship unless Johnson has trouble. Johnson will lock up his sixth title if he finishes 23rd or better, 24th with a lap led or 25th with most laps led.

"All we can do is control the (number) 20," Kenseth said. "My team did a wonderful job of that today. The car was way better than I was all day, so I could give it a decent lap and get some of the speed out of the car.

"I think that's a start of it. Even though this is a really great track -- it's really, really wide with a lot of grooves, you can really pass -- it's [still] hard to pass these days, and track position's really important. We can't really control what they do. They don't usually run 23rd or 24th without any problem.

"So, really, I just think we concentrate 100 percent on the 20, try to do everything we can to go out there and run up front, hopefully have a shot to win the race, finish as high as we can, so if they do have any kind of problem, we're there to capitalize on that."

For his part, Johnson likes his chances but knows he must finish the race.

"It's a great position to be in," Johnson said. "There's no doubt about it. I think back to the old points system (pre-2011), what that number would equal.

"That's a big number, so it's nice, but it doesn't guarantee anything. I have to run all 400 miles on Sunday and that's really the goal for this Lowe's car."

Kevin Harvick -- third in the standings, 34 points behind Johnson and the only other driver with a mathematical chance at the title -- qualified sixth at 176.655 mph.

In the competition for the pole, Kenseth edged Kurt Busch (177.445 mph), who will start from the front row for the ninth time this year (one pole and eight second-place qualifying efforts). Joey Logano (177.282 mph) claimed the third spot on the grid, followed by Brad Keselowski (177.061 mph) and Denny Hamlin (176.846 mph).

From NASCAR President Mike Helton's perspective, the first decade of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup has passed just about as quickly as a record-setting qualifying run.

Two days away from the 10th NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship to be decided under the 10-race Chase format, Helton fielded questions from reporters Friday at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

"I don't know what's happened the last 10 years that moved us along so fast, but [we're] celebrating the 10th Chase, and I would tell you that from NASCAR's perspective the Chase has delivered on what we had hoped it would do," Helton said. "I think we could sustain an argument that it's one of the most challenging championships in all of sports."

Should Jimmie Johnson's 28-point lead hold up in Sunday's Ford EcoBoost 400, Johnson will have won six of the 10 Chase championships. And he will have done so in three distinct types of race cars, the latest of which is the Gen-6 introduced this year.

"On the Cup side, obviously the most visible element in 2013 was the Gen?6 race car," Helton said, "And we're very pleased with its roll?out early in '13, but we're also very pleased with the results on the race track, as it's evolved throughout the season, and of course Homestead Sunday being the final event of its inaugural year.

"The in?race passing elevated. We [have] had 16 different winners. Many were winners that you would expect to win like the 48 (Jimmie Johnson), the 20 (Matt Kenseth) and the 29 (Kevin Harvick), but I think we also had some moments that we were all pretty proud of with the (34, David Ragan) in Talladega and the 55 (Brian Vickers) winning in New Hampshire. So we're very pleased with the roll-out of the Gen?6."

Welcome to the club

Friday, Nov 15

Though Jimmie Johnson's sixth championship isn't a sure thing, and a potential seventh is still at least a year away, Richard Petty believes Johnson is poised to join the exclusive club in which only he and Dale Earnhardt currently are members, as seven-time champions.

And Petty doesn't expect the domination of the No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports team to end any time soon.

"Right now, it's seven and seven -- then it will be seven, seven, seven -- and he's liable to go to 10 [titles]," Petty said Friday after a "Fresh from Florida" sponsor announcement for Richard Petty Motorsports.

The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services is partnering with RPM to run the No. 43 Ford driven by Aric Almirola under the aegis of the "Fresh from Florida" campaign, an initiative designed to build awareness and sales of fresh seafood, produce and other Florida products.

"Fresh from Florida" will sponsor Almirola at Darlington next year, as well as three NASCAR Nationwide Series races with a driver still to be chosen. Michael Annett, who drives the No. 43 RPM Ford in the NNS this year, is vacating the ride to drive for Tommy Baldwin Racing in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series next year.

Petty joked about carrying a sign that reads "Will work for food."

"That's what we're doing on this deal," he said.

High Praise

Friday, Nov 15

Jimmie Johnson got a ringing endorsement from car owner Richard Childress, who fielded the No. 3 Chevrolets in which Dale Earnhardt won six of his seven championships.

"I think he'll go down in history as one of the greatest, if not the greatest," Childress said in Friday's media session that included fellow owners Rick Hendrick and Joe Gibbs. "He's got many good years ahead of him. I think he'll set a lot of records before he decides to hang it up."

Asked when he planned to announce 2014 plans for his grandson, Austin Dillon, Childress turned coy.

"We'll probably announce something here in the next few weeks," Childress said, declining to confirm rampant speculation that Dillon would drive the No. 3 RCR Chevrolet in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.

"Everybody is just speculating right now. I guess that's the right word."

Guests purchasing tickets for Kentucky Speedway's five 2014 race events will enjoy lower prices and a simpler price structure in addition to a new suite of Ticketmaster® account management and purchase tools.

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) stars return for the Quaker State 400 presented by Advance Auto Parts June 28. The fourth series race in the speedway's history will be the finale for a tripleheader event weekend that begins with the June 26 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) UNOH 225 and continues with 300 miles of NASCAR Nationwide Series (NNS) competition June 27. The NNS returns for a second 300-mile race Sept. 20 to close out a weekend that opens with the ARCA Racing Series (ARS) Zloop 150 Sept. 19.

Price structures for five-race Season Ticket packages, three-race June Weekend packages and single-race grandstand tickets for the venue's Quaker State 400 presented by Advance Auto Parts as well as both NNS races are simpler and prices are lower in most sections. NCWTS UNOH 225 and ARS Zloop 150 ticket prices also are reduced.

"We created a 'good, better, best' price structure that departs from the traditional NASCAR bottom-to-top-of-the-grandstand ascending price model to a football-style, turn-to-turn model in which tickets in Turn 1 and Turn 4 are priced lowest. Prices ascend as seat locations near the start/finish line," Kentucky Speedway Vice President of Sales and Marketing John Cox said.

For example, Season Ticket Package customers can realize an average savings of 7 percent to 9 percent while Quaker State 400 presented by Advance Auto Parts guests can realize an average savings of 4 percent.

"Our fans asked for simplicity and cost savings. We're delivering and the response has been encouraging. We hope fans will take advantage of the ticket savings, camp with us and enjoy two entertaining weekends in 2014," Kentucky Speedway General Manager Mark Simendinger said.

New speedway ticket partner, Ticketmaster, will offer online customers a personal account management tool, enhanced seating maps and views of the speedway from specific grandstand sections.

Customers wishing to keep their single-race, Season Ticket Package and June Weekend Package seat as well as campsite locations can renew on or before Dec. 1. All non-renewed locations will be released for public sale Dec. 2.

All season ticket and season camping customers will receive an invitation to the Quaker State 400 presented by Advance Auto Parts race-day infield party, automatic membership in a new season ticket holder and camper recognition program, a 50 percent discount on Fan Zone pass purchases, the option to pay for plans in three interest-free installments as well as discounts off the purchase of additional race tickets.



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