Speedway Digest Staff
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The 2012 season at Richmond International Racewaymarks the third year of RIRUPDATES, an informative texting service to keep fans informed on race weekend. Fans are encouraged to sign up for race weekend updates by texting “RIRUPDATES” to 69050, enabling them to receive information via SMS text messages on their Sprint device or other mobile carrier. After texting “RIRUPDATES” to 69050, fans will receive a standard reply message confirming they are signed up for the service. Standard text message fees from service providers apply.
Now is a great time to sign up for the updates as we’re just a month away from the NASCAR doubleheader weekend at Richmond International Raceway, featuring the Federated Auto Parts 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event, which is “One Last Race to Make The Chase,” and the Virginia 529 College Savings 250 NASCAR Nationwide Series race.
Additional ways to stay updated on RIR’s race weekend are:
· Free mobile application, available for download on Apple and Android devices
· RIR’s Facebook page (www.facebook.com/richmondinternationalraceway) and Twitter account (www.twitter.com/ririnsider)
· Mobile website, which can be accessed by opening rir.com in your mobile device’s web browser
Brad Keselowski Racing (BKR) announced today that third-generation race car driver Ryan Blaney will pilot the BKR Cooper Standard / Draw-Tite / Reese Towpower entry in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series for select races in 2012. Blaney's first race with BKR will be at Bristol Motor Speedway on August 22nd and he will compete in other select races during the duration of the 2012 Truck Series schedule as the BKR team pursues the Owners Championship. As previously announced, Brad Keselowski will drive the No. 29 BKR Cooper Standard RAM in the VFW 200 at Michigan International Speedway on August 18th.
Blaney, the 18-year-old son of current Sprint Cup Series driver Dave Blaney, recently made his Nationwide Series debut for Penske Racing at Iowa Speedway where he finished 10th in the No. 22 Discount Tire Dodge Challenger. In addition to his driving for BKR this season, Blaney is currently scheduled to participate in select Nationwide Series races for the Penske organization in the No. 22 entry.
"Ryan is undoubtedly one of the top up-and-coming driver talents in NASCAR and, with his being a part of Penske Racing, is a natural to run with us at BKR," said BKR owner and Penske Racing driver Brad Keselowski. "He has been around the sport for virtually his entire life and is a pure racer. I believe Ryan will do a great job for the Team and our sponsors as we continue to focus on the 2012 Truck Owners Championship."
With a winning junior developmental track record established in Quarter Midgets, Bandolero and Legend Cars, Blaney has also raced successfully in Super Late Models and the ARCA Series as well as the NASCAR K&N Pro Series.
"This season just keeps getting better and better for me," said Blaney. "To first join Penske Racing and now get to drive the BKR Truck is a terrific opportunity. Hopefully, we can wheel the BKR Truck along with Cooper Standard, Draw-Tite and Reese Towpower to victory lane this season."
The NASCAR HOTPASS lineup for the Finger Lakes 355k at the Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International is as follows:
DIRECTV Channel 795:
Marcos Ambrose and the No. 9 Stanley Ford team of Richard Petty Motorsports
Marcos Ambrose will make his 141st career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series start and his fifth at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International … Has one win (2011) and four top-three finishes in four Sprint Cup starts at The Glen … The 35-year-old Australian native of Launceston, Tasmania has one win and 30 top-10 finishes in 140 Sprint Cup starts … 2012 marks Ambrose’s fourth full year in Sprint Cup with a career-best points finish of 18th in 2009 … Won 2003 and 2004 Australian V8 Supercar championships … Started fifth and finished 10th last week at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway … Ranks 18th in Sprint Cup points with five top-10 finishes.
DIRECTV Channel 796:
Jeff Gordon and the No. 24 Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet team of Hendrick Motorsports
Jeff Gordon will make his 675th career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series start and his 20th at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International … Has four wins (1997, 1998, 1999 and 2001), one pole (2003) and nine top-10 finishes in 19 starts at The Glen … The 41-year-old Vallejo, Calif., native has 86 wins and 405 top-10 finishes in 674 Sprint Cup starts … 2011 marks Gordon’s 20th full year in Sprint Cup and he won the driver championship in 1995, 1997, 1998 and 2001 … Started 27th and won last week at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway … Ranks 13th in Sprint Cup Series points with one win and nine top-10 finishes.
DIRECTV Channel 797:
Kevin Harvick and the No. 29 Budweiser Chevrolet team of Richard Childress Racing
Kevin Harvick will make his 416th career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series start and his 12th at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International … Has one win (2006) and six top-10 finishes in 11 starts at The Glen … The 36-year-old Bakersfield, Calif., native has 18 wins and 183 top-10 finishes in 415 Sprint Cup starts …Won 2001 and 2006 NASCAR Nationwide Series championships … 2012 marks Harvick’s 12th full year in Sprint Cup with a career-best points finish of third in 2010 … Started 21st and finished 16th last week at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway … Ranks ninth in Sprint Cup Series points with nine top-10 finishes.
DIRECTV Channel 798:
Juan Pablo Montoya and the No. 42 Target Chevrolet team of Earnhardt Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates
Juan Pablo Montoya will make his 203rd career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series start and his sixth at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International … Has one win (2010) and four top-10 finishes in five starts at The Glen … The 36-year-old from Bogota, Colombia has two wins and has 51 top-10 finishes in 202 Sprint Cup starts … 2012 marks Montoya’s fifth full year in Sprint Cup with a career-best points finish of eighth in 2009 … Won 2000 Indianapolis 500, 1999 CART championship and has seven Formula 1 victories … Started on the pole and finished 20th last week at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway … Ranks 21th in Sprint Cup Series points with two top-10 finishes.
Team Owner Eddie Sharp has been known for helping young drivers develop into superstars. In fact, that's how most of his drivers end up at Eddie Sharp Racing (ESR). Based in a 45,000-square-foot facility in the small town of Denver, N.C., many drivers have come to ESR to win races, championship titles and rookie of the year honors. Drivers like Michael McDowell and Scott Speed used ESR to help catapult their careers to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series ranks. Current ESR competitor Justin Lofton teamed with Sharp to win the Automobile Racing Club of America (ARCA) Racing Series Championship in 2009, and has since gone on to win at the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) level in the No. 6 Chevrolet for ESR. With a United Auto Racing Association (UARA) win at Concord (N.C.) Speedway on Saturday night, August 4, 15-year-old Brandon Jones became the next development driver to find success under Sharp's guidance.
"I've always enjoyed working with young drivers," commented Sharp. "To be able to work with someone just as they're starting their career and to move up through the ranks with them is something that I find very rewarding. Bringing this team together and knowing how hard they all work adds to the excitement of nights like last Saturday. I've been able to watch guys like Lofton get their first win in the lower stock car divisions and then move up to the NASCAR level and find success there. To be a part of Brandon Jones' first win in a regional touring series is really special and we hope to achieve a lot more success together."
In just his 10th race in UARA-STARS competition, rookie Brandon Jones brought home the win in the City Chevrolet 150 at Concord Speedway on Saturday, August 4. Jones qualified in the fifth position and raced inside the top 10 all night. As the laps wound down and the action heated up on the short half-mile track, Jones was able to keep his nose clean and race through the field. Crossing the finish line in the second position, Jones was declared the race winner just a few hours later when the No. 12 car failed post-race technical inspection. It was the first UARA win of Jones' career, and the first victory for ESR's late model program in the 2012 season.
"It's been really great to work with Eddie Sharp and the whole ESR team," commented Jones. "To already have a win at this level and at this point in my career is awesome. Everyone has been very helpful all year in helping me learn new tracks and cars. I've had Eddie up on the spotter's stand, Cale [Gale, driver of the No. 33 Rheem Chevrolet for ESR in the NCWTS] helping work on the car and spotting for me, veteran late model guys like Lee McCall and Davin Scites working on the cars; it's been really cool. I look forward to getting out there week after week and can't wait to get back in victory lane again soon."
The ESR late model program will continue its season at Tri-County (N.C.) Motor Speedway this Friday night, August 10, as Brandon Jones and Will Gallaher take on the competition in the UARA-STARS Series.
On August 13, 1995 former Roush Fenway driver Mark Martin capped off his third consecutive win at Watkins Glen International; with all three wins coming from the pole. With his accolade, Martin became the first driver in over a decade to win three-straight years from the pole.
Over the course of the three victories, Roush Fenway’s flag-ship No. 6 Ford led 180 of a possible 270 laps. In 1993, Martin edged out teammate Wally Dallenbach Jr., for the victory; Dallenbach finished runner up in the No. 16 Ford.
That is just one piece of Roush Fenway’s dominance at the road course of WGI, where RFR has started 115 NASCAR entries, including 84 in the Sprint Cup Series and 22 in the Nationwide Series. Roush Fenway has posted two additional wins at Watkins Glen in the NASCAR truck series, including a 2000 victory with current RFR Sprint Cup driver Greg Biffle. Biffle posted RFR’s best NNS finish at the Glen with a runner-up effort in 2001.
This weekend Roush Fenway will look to rekindle the flame at Watkins Glen, where it will compete for its sixth NASCAR win at the track and its first in the Nationwide Series. Nationwide Series champions Ricky Stenhouse Jr., and Carl Edwards will have the first crack at victory in Saturday’s NNS event set for 2 p.m. (ABC TV).
When Bristol Motor Speedway changed its surface from asphalt to concrete prior to the August Night Race in 1992, nobody was really quite sure what to expect.
The iconic half-mile oval had been asphalt since its beginning in 1961 but as the track was reconfigured from 22 degrees of banking to nearly 36 in 1969, figuring out a way to keep that type of surface from coming apart became quite a challenge. As the years wore on issues with the asphalt continued to mount until finally, in 1992, former owner Larry Carrier, tired of the constant repaving and patching, made an epic decision: he was tearing the track up and replacing the old surface with concrete.
No other track that hosted NASCAR’s Sprint Cup Series was, or had ever been, concrete. There were tracks that featured some concrete but when BMS had its facelift, the 1992 Bud 500 became the first Cup race ever contested on a completely concrete surface.
Fittingly enough, Darrell Waltrip, the all-time winningest driver at BMS, notched his 12th, and final, victory in that race.
“We beat ol’ Dale (Earnhardt) for that win,” Waltrip recalls. “That was the first race on concrete, after they had switched from asphalt. A lot of guys didn’t like concrete, said it was too rough. Everybody said that the concrete would change everything for me, that I wouldn’t be as good.
“Well, that concrete didn’t change a thing for me because I went out there and won that race. That one meant a lot to me because people didn’t think I could win on that concrete.”
While Waltrip was the first to notch a win on concrete, Rusty Wallace was the most prolific. In 40 races contested on concrete, Wallace snagged six from 1993 to 2000. Jeff Gordon, Kurt Busch and Kyle Busch all have five wins apiece while Dale Earnhardt, Mark Martin, Matt Kenseth, Carl Edwards and Brad Keselowski each have two.
It is no secret what the most exciting race on concrete was as far as fans are concerned. The top moment in BMS history, as voted by them, is the memorable 1999 victory by Earnhardt, during which he tagged and turned Labonte for the win.
Keselowski has won the last two Cup races at BMS, which makes it, not so surprisingly, one of his favorite spots on the NASCAR tour.
“I love Bristol and Bristol loves me,” said Keselowski. “It is a great track that really demands 100 percent out of a driver and out of a team. I love racing on this concrete. This is an earn-it place. There ain’t no doubt about that.”
Keselowski fully intends to make it three in a row come August 25.
“It’s just a great place for me,” he said. “Getting my Nationwide win there (in March, 2008) was one of the greatest moments ever for me. And then winning the last two Cup races… well, I’m just really proud of that. Believe me, I’m perfectly happy to keep on winning at Bristol and I’m really looking forward to getting back there in August.”
Tony Stewart is so good at the relatively niche art of road racing that he might as well add a few umlauts to his name, at least for this weekend as the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series invades the 11-turn, 2.45-mile road course that is Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International.
For years, road racing was considered a European hallmark, where Formula One reigns supreme and oval racetracks are vastly outnumbered by the twists and turns of the continent’s seemingly endless supply of road courses. Drivers with such names as Lewis, Jenson, Nigel, Mika, Sebastian, Kimi and Fernando are most often thought of as the premiere road-course talent.
But here in the good, ol’ U.S. of A, it’s a guy named Tony who reigns supreme, as Stewart’s five Sprint Cup wins at The Glen suggest.
The driver of the No. 14 Office Depot/Mobil 1 Chevrolet for Stewart-Haas Racing comes from working-class roots in Columbus, Ind., yet he possesses otherworldly driving skills that would put such Formula One champions as Mika Häkkinen (1998-1999) and Kimi Räikkönen (2007) to the test if they dared cross the Atlantic to compete at The Glen as their Formula One predecessors did from 1961 through 1980.
Since 1999 when Stewart began racing “tin-tops” at Watkins Glen as a Sprint Cup rookie, he’s collected the most wins of any driver in Sprint Cup. His first win came in 2002, with subsequent trips to victory lane in 2004, 2005, 2007 and 2009.
In his 13 career Sprint Cup starts at The Glen, Stewart has only three finishes worse than seventh – 26th in 2001, 11th in 2003 and 27th in 2011. He has an average start of 6.2 and an average finish of 7.1.
Bolstering Stewart’s legend at The Glen is his success at the Sprint Cup Series’ other road course venue in Sonoma, Calif. There, Stewart has two wins, three second-place finishes, five top-fives and nine top-10s in his 14 career Sprint Cup starts, giving him an average finish of 10.9.
Tally it all up and Stewart has seven road-course wins and only four finishes lower than 15th – 26th at Watkins Glen in 2001, 28th at Sonoma in 2006, 39th at Sonoma in 2011 and 27th at Watkins Glen in 2011. His average road-course finish is ninth, which is due in large part to having recorded only one DNF (Did Not Finish) in his 26 career road-course races and earning a lap completion rate of 99.2 percent.
Adding fuel to Smoke’s fire is that he comes into Watkins Glen with a string of gritty finishes. The three-time and reigning Sprint Cup champion has scored seven top-12s in the last eight races – five of which were top-fives, including a win July 7 at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway. All of those drives have been hard earned, as Stewart’s average start was 23rd, but he constantly rallied to score an average finish of 8.4.
Among those rallies was the June 24 visit to the road course in Sonoma, where Stewart qualified 24th and then muscled his way to second place before the checkered flag dropped. The same Office Depot/Mobil 1 Chevy that Stewart wheeled at Sonoma will be underneath him this weekend at The Glen, where Stewart plans to finish one spot higher than he did in Sonoma.
A win at The Glen would give Stewart four wins on the season and sole possession of the No. 1 seed in the 12-driver Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, which begins Sept. 16 at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Ill. Currently, Stewart shares the top spot with Jimmie Johnson and Brad Keselowski, both of whom are three-time winners this season.
Stewart’s multiple victories allow him to forget about points and go for even more wins. He’s a lock to qualify for his eighth Chase, where each regular-season wins carries three bonus points to start the 10-race Chase. It’s a margin Stewart didn’t have in 2011, when he entered the Chase winless yet rallied to score a record-setting five wins to take his third Sprint Cup championship.
Intent on defending that title, Stewart is looking for another championship ring in 2012, and a win in Sunday’s Finger Lakes 355k at The Glen could very well give bring some more bling to his fingers when the Sprint Cup season culminates Nov. 18 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Red Horse Racing announced Thursday morning the addition of Parker Kligerman to the organization's driver lineup. Kligerman will make his first appearance in the No. 7 Red Horse Racing Toyota Tundra next Saturday at Michigan International Speedway for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series VFW 200.
Kligerman, hailing from Westport, Connecticut, began his competitive racing career in two-stroke go karts at the age of 13. A successful open-wheel racing resume helped boost him into the next level in 2008, making his first career stock car starts in the ARCA Racing Series. Kligerman then moved on to compete full time in that same series the following year, amassing a series-leading nine victories en route to the Rookie of the Year title and runner up finish in the championship point standings.
Since making his first NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) appearance in 2010, Kligerman has posted six top-five and 16 top-10 finishes in 37 career starts. The 22-year-old currently sits sixth in the NCWTS championship point standings, 35 markers behind leader and teammate, Timothy Peters.
"When you look at truck series teams right now, there's no doubt Red Horse Racing is definitely one of the top organizations. I'm really excited to make the move here with the support of Tom DeLoach and everyone at this team to see how we can help the team and be successful. It sounds so cliché to say I'm excited, but it's the only word to say because it perfectly describes what I'm looking forward to doing, and that's winning in these trucks," Kligerman explained.
"I feel like Red Horse gives you the best equipment they can and at the end of the day that's all you look for as a driver; the actual chance to win, not just the trophy. So it's our job now to go out there and get the trophy and I feel like this is a place I can do that."
Chad Kendrick, who led the No. 7 Tundra team to victory in the season-opening NCWTS event at Daytona, will call the shots for Kligerman. Kendrick, in the midst of his fourth year in the crew chief position, first came to Red Horse Racing in 2009 with Timothy Peters and collected one win, five top-five and 13 top-10 finishes that year. He returned to Red Horse at the beginning of 2012 and will travel with Kligerman to Michigan.
Red Horse Racing is in its eighth year of NCWTS competition, also fielding the No. 11 Tundra for Todd Bodine and the No. 17 Tundra for Timothy Peters. The Mooresville, North Carolina-based team has recorded eight total victories since its inception, along with seven poles, 57 top-five and 114 top-10 finishes. With three wins to date in 2012 and Peters atop the series point standings, Red Horse Racing has maintained a consistent presence near the front of the field and looks to continue building upon success with the addition of Kligerman.
"Things happen quickly in the racing world. We were busy getting trucks ready to race in Michigan and received a call from Parker, asking if we can get another entry ready. Parker has impressive credentials and we believe he is an emerging talent so we readily agreed and began preparations," said Red Horse Racing Managing Partner Tom DeLoach about the new driver of the No. 7 truck.
"Now Chad and all the guys back in the shop are going to be back at the track and we are confident we'll be ready with three strong entries in Michigan next weekend."
The Grip Gets Tighter As "The Road To Richmond" Twists And Turns Through The Finger Lakes This Weekend
After a rain-shortened finish at the “Tricky Triangle” of Pocono, the Race to The Chase shifts to the 11-turn road course at Watkins Glen International. Following this weekend’s event, there will only be three races remaining before “The Road to Richmond” culminates atRichmond International Raceway on Saturday, September 8 with the Federated Auto Parts 400—“One Last Race to Make The Chase.”
While the top 12 in points didn’t see too much movement following Pocono, from position 13 on, there was quite a bit of change. Most notably,Jeff Gordon moved past three “wild card” rivals to join Hendrick Motorsports teammate Kasey Kahne for the final “wild card” spot, if the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup field was to be set today.
Gordon is currently sitting 13th in the standings and is tied in both points (611) and wins (1) with one-time Watkins Glen winner and “wild card” hopeful, Ryan Newman. As it stands now, Gordon would take the last “wild card” spot over Newman, because he has the best-finish tie-breaker. A four-time winner at The Glen, Gordon can tighten his grip on the last “wild card” spot with a win in the Finger Lakes region this weekend.
One driver that’s hoping the rain at Pocono didn’t wash away his “wild card” hopes is Kyle Busch. Prior to last week, he held the second “wild card” berth, but a 33rd place finish dropped him to 15th in the standings. Busch is always a threat at The Glen with one career victory and an average finish of 9.3. This he has the fourth-best driver rating at 106.8.
Here is a look at drivers fighting for a “wild card” position and their stats at Pocono:
Marcos Ambrose: Currently 18th in the points, with no wins this season, Ambrose has the second-best driver rating this week at 118.0. He has one win at The Glen and knows his way around the twists and turns with an average finish of 2.3. A win this weekend could help him gain valuable points and assist with his goal to make the 2012 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.
Clint Bowyer: He definitely doesn’t have the best luck at The Glen, with only one top-10 finish in 6 career races. Sitting in the 10th position, Bowyer has a driver rating of 77.1 and an average finish of 17.5. Though on paper his stats don’t seem favorable, it is notable to mention Bowyer won the only other road course race of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series schedule this year in Sonoma.
Martin Truex Jr.: Quietly having a great season, Truex Jr. finds himself sitting comfortably at 5th in the standings. The only stat missing from his impressive season is a win. He’s 13th on the driver rating list at 87.1 and has two top-five finish in six races at The Glen. Only 48 points out of first place, a win by Truex Jr. this weekend might lead to a shake-up in the top 5.
The Dale Jr. Foundation has rejuvenated its Camaro giveaway program by incentivizing the raffle and offering ticket buyers the chance to win more prizes.
Now with the purchase of a $25 ticket you not only become eligible to win Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s personal 2011 Chevrolet Camaro convertible but also VIP race weekend experiences and monthly prizes such as autographed sheet metal and merchandise. The Dale Jr. Foundation will draw among each month’s ticket buyers and award prizes from now until the promotion’s end on Oct. 1.
“We want people to buy raffle tickets, but we don’t want to make them wait until October to find out if they win anything,” said Dale Earnhardt Jr., who started his foundation in 2007 to help support underprivileged individuals. “This gives fans the opportunity to win stuff before the October grand prize giveaway. This Camaro program is a big fundraiser for my foundation, and we want to drive awareness to it, give people more reasons to buy tickets, and also increase their chances of winning something.”
This is the second year Earnhardt Jr. has given away a Camaro from his own collection. Like he did last year, NASCAR’s nine-time Most Popular Driver will personally hand over the keys to one lucky winner. Gale Fontaine of Roanoke Va., took ownership of the grand-prize Camaro last year. She came to JR Motorsports in October, 2011, with her husband, Carle, and was surprised when Earnhardt Jr. himself handed over the keys.
“I still can’t believe we won,” she said after sitting in her new ride. “I’ve been a Dale Jr. fan since day one. When I got the call that I won, I was at work. My boss said, ‘Did you win the lottery?’ I said, ‘Well, yes I did! I won the Camaro!’ It was exciting. I bought that ticket because I’m a Dale Jr. fan, the Camaro is a great-looking car, and because the money goes to The Dale Jr. Foundation.”
This year, the inferno orange 2011 Chevrolet Camaro 2SS Convertible is equipped with a 6.2L V8 engine and 6-speed automatic transmission with tap shifter. It features a black interior with inferno orange accents on the front and rear seats, and 20-inch aluminum wheels finished in midnight silver.
Winner of the runner-up drawing will win a VIP race experience that includes round-trip airfare for two, pit/garage access, and seats atop the JR Motorsports No. 88 team pit box for any NASCAR Nationwide Series event of their choosing. The third-place winner will receive a race-weekend package to the Nationwide Series race at Charlotte Motor Speedway in May, 2013. This package includes pit and garage access, round-trip airfare for two and $200 spending money in the JR Nation store. Monthly prizes include race-used sheet metal, autographed diecast cars and official crew shirts.
Fans can log on to www.WinDaleJrsRide.com to enter. The raffle ends Oct. 1, 2012. No more than 8,888 tickets will be sold.