In 2014, Landon Cassill returned to Hillman Racing for the second season in a row in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. Although he did not declare to compete for the points in NASCAR’s top-tier division, Cassill made the attempt at a full season run.
Throughout 34 starts, Cassill continued to find growth-- not only in the Cup Series, but for his career as well. At the season-opener at Daytona, he started the year on a high note. He matched his career-best finish of 12th, which he had accomplished at Michigan in 2011 with Phoenix Racing.
As the year continued in the No.40 Chevrolet, Cassill went on to miss the following two races at Phoenix and Las Vegas. He qualified for the race at Bristol, and ran each event after that.
When the Cup Series made its way to Talladega, Cassill improved his career-best finish -- finishing11th in his unsponsored Chevrolet. In a return to Talladega, he improved his previous result at the track, capturing a new career-best finish of fourth-place.
During this past season, the 25-year-old captured one top-five and one top-10 finish. He averaged a 34.9 start and a 28.8 finish. He also had five DNFs – two of which were caused by engine failures.
However, he improved his stats from the 2013 season, where he averaged a 36.1 start and a 32.3 finish in his first year driving for Joe Falk.
For David Stremme, the 2014 season was a season of change as he competed with Circle Sport after having been released by Swan Racing in 2013. Compared to having a full-time ride, Stremme competed in a mere 10 races in the No. 33 Chevrolet.
Stremme shared time in the team’s second car with Travis Kvapil, Alex Kennedy, Morgan Shepard, Bobby Labonte and Timmy Hill. In conjunction with Richard Childress Racing, the team fielded the No. 33 in a handful of events with Ty Dillon and Brian Scott.
Among that line-up of drivers, Kvapil managed to capture the best finish at Talladega, with a sixth-place finish in the Geico 500.
Stremme’s best finish of the year was at Bristol during the Summer night race, with a 31st-place finish. His performance in 2014 may have been a step back from 2013, as he had an average start of 33.1 and 29.6 finish. He also failed to qualify for the events in Texas and Indianapolis.
Meanwhile Kvapil later left the team to return to BK Racing in the No. 83 car, after Ryan Truex had left the team.
Heading into the 2015 Season, Cassill will be back with Hillman Racing as the team’s primary driver in the Cup Series in the No. 40 car. Sponsorship has not been announced, but the team is expecting to have some of their partners return for the new year. He will also be back in the Xfinity Series, as sponsor G&K Services will be returning as his primary sponsor for JD Motorsports in the No. 01 Chevrolet.
It is unknown who will drive the No. 33 car when Dillon and Scott don’t race it. Dillon is running the Daytona 500, and Scott is expected to run up to 10 events for RCR.
For Justin Allgaier, 2014 was his first full-time season in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. Along with HScott Motorsports, the year was the team’s first attempt to contend for points in the Cup Series after running the end of 2013 following the purchase of Phoenix Racing.
Allgaier, who had competed in the NASCAR Xfinity Series for several seasons, had declared to compete in the Cup Series – making him eligible for Sunoco Rookie of the Year honors. While competing in a rookie class that included that included seven drivers, Allgaier managed to keep himself among the top half of the group. By the end of the year, he went on to finish in third behind Kyle Larson and Austin Dillon.
Throughout the year, Allgaier found some consistency capturing 10 top-20 finishes. Some of his best results came towards the final races of the year. He captured a 15th-place finish at Charlotte, 17th at Martinsville, a 20th-place finish at Texas and a 15th-place result at Homestead.
By the end of the season, Allgaier went on to finish 29th in the points standings. Both his average start and finish were 25.9. He did improve on his average starts and finishes from his four starts in 2013, where his best finish was a 24th-place effort at Talladega.
Although he did improve on some aspects, Allgaier found trouble along the way. With an inexperienced race team, he struggled with a mere 12 finishes on the lead lap. But working with veteran crew chief Steve Addington, the pair was able to guide HScott Motorsports to some consistency late in the season. During the Chase for the Sprint Cup race at Talladega, he failed to qualify into the race during a chaotic round of knockout qualifying. Throughout the year, he captured six DNFs..
Heading into 2015, Allgaier will be back with HScott Motorsports for his sophomore Cup Series season. After getting comfortable in the Cup Series and improving on his results from previous starts, Allgaier has room for growth in 2015, especially with the organization’s alliance with Hendrick Motorsports.
Although HScott Motorsports announced some new partnerships for its teams in the Xfinity Series and K&N Pro Series East, no significant changes have been made towards the No. 51 Cup Series team.
The 2014 season was a year of new beginnings for BK Racing as it signed two rookie drivers in Alex Bowman and Ryan Truex. With two new faces on the team, both were eligible for Sunoco Rookie of the Year honors, in what was a rather larger rookie class in recent seasons.
Although the season officially kicked off with the Daytona 500, both drivers didn’t get the opportunity to begin their year with the Great American race. Bowman managed to qualify for his NASCAR Sprint Cup Series debut. Meanwhile, Truex missed to make the field during the Budweiser Duel 150 race. He didn’t get to start his first race with the No. 83 team until the following week at Phoenix.
As the season progressed, both Truex and Bowman received a new teammate in Cole Whitt, who joined the team after the closure of Swan Racing. With the addition of a third full-time Toyota Camry, BK Racing increased its opportunity to compete for Rookie of the Year honors as Whitt was also eligible.
All together, the three rookies had minimal highlights to their season. Truex made his debut at tracks such as Pocono Raceway – a track he had never raced before—and finished inside the top 20. Bowman captured his best results in the superspeedway races.
The team also saw some results that hurt them as well. At the end of the year, Bowman finished with six DNFs, Whitt had four DNFs and Truex had eight DNFs.
The year for Truex featured a lot of inconsistency, as his results throughout the season didn’t had him inside of the top 30 just twice at Martinsville and the August Pocono race. Along with the Daytona 500, he also failed to qualify for the races at Texas and Michigan. For the second race at Michigan, BK Racing replaced him with J.J. Yeley after a wreck in practice, where Truex suffered a concussion.
In September, following the race at Chicagoland Speedway, Truex was once again replaced in the No. 83 car – this time by Travis Kvapil. The race at Chicago was the last time Truex was drove the No. 83 after a 42nd-place finish. Although no explanation had been given at the time, it was later confirmed that Truex was no longer with BK Racing.
Despite the short year, Truex did manage to improve some of his results from his few starts in 2013. He captured a career-best finish of 20th at Pocono. His best qualifying effort was at the Richmond spring race, where he qualified eighth.
In 2014, Truex averaged a 35.6 finish and a 35.3 start.
Meanwhile, Bowman, one of the two original drivers in the BK racing line-up did finish out the year with the team. By the year’s end, he went on to finish in 35th-place within the standings. He captured a career-best finish at the Coke Zero 400 with a 13th-place finish.
Bowman also found some consistency during the races at Darlington, RIchmond and Talladega in the spring, finishing inside the top 30. In qualifying, Bowman's best starting effort came in the second Talladega race of the year, where he qualified in 14th.
As for his year end results, Bowman averaged a 32.5 finish and a 32.9 start in his rookie season in the Cup Series.
Whitt, the third BK Racing driver, fared a bit better than his teammates. Along with Bowman, he made all 36 starts (eight with Swan Racing) and averaged a 33.4 start and a 29.3 finish. He did, however, improve his average finish, as he averaged a 33.9 result in seven starts during the 2013 season.
The year didn't feature any of the BK Racing drivers finishing among the top-30 in the points. Whitt finished the highest of the three drivers. Truex’s season ended earlier than Bowman’s, but only finished four spots behind him in the final standings, in 39th.
As for the race for Sunoco Rookie of the Year honors, Whitt finished ahead of both Bowman and Truex, as he finished in fourth. Bowman finished in sixth and Truex finished seventh.
Heading into 2015, BK Racing has not made any announcements on what their driver line-up will look like, but one thing is for sure – Truex will not be returning. Truex’s future plans have yet to be announced, but he still has a developmental contract with Richard Petty Motorsports.
BK Racing team owner Ron Devine clarified with Speedway Digest that Bowman will be returning to the organization as they look to resign Dr. Pepper.
As for Whitt, his name has been connected with Front Row Motorsports in some off season rumors. In an e-mail to Speedway Digest several weeks ago, the Ford organization denied rumors that they have signed Whitt. However, Devine and co-owner Anthony Marlowe have confirmed that he will not return to the Toyota team.
With the off-season coming to a close soon, the organization is looking to continue fielding two-three full-time cars, with one part-time car. In the rumor mill to replace Truex include Kvapil, Yeley and Clay Rogers, who missed a race for Beard Motorsports after being out-run in qualifying by BK Racing’s start-and-park car, and eventually ran two events for BKR.
In 2010, Brian Vickers’ life took a drastic turn. Taken to the emergency room, the doctors thought he was suffering with pneumonia. Unfortunately, that’s not uncommon. Blood clots are one of the most under-diagnosed conditions that individuals face.
On Wednesday, in association with Blood Clot Awareness Month, Vickers and Dr. Jack Ansell, a leading blood clot specialist and Professor of Medicine at Hofstra-North Shore/LIJ School of Medicine, held a web seminar to bring awareness to the illness.
Vickers was diagnosed with his first blood clot in 2010 at the young age of 26. Missing the remainder of the 2010 NASCAR season, Vickers fought hard to dissolve a blood clot in his left leg, lung and finger. He underwent heart surgery later that year to repair holes in his left and right atrium, a condition called May-Thurner Syndrome that he discovered he had.
With MTS, individuals are prone to more clots and for Vickers, more clots developed. In 2013, he was sidelined yet again with another blood clot and missed the rest of the season. He is back in 2014, now behind the wheel of the No.55 Aaron’s Dream Machine Toyota for Michael Waltrip Racing full time and bringing Blood Clot Awareness to the forefront of his campaign.
“It’s something that very few people really know or understand the science and symptoms and take the time to research it,” Vickers said during the web seminar. “At the end of the day the most important thing you can do when you think something is wrong is go see your doctor. But taking the time to learn some of these symptoms and going to sites like TreatMyClot.com and learning more is critical.”
For Vickers and Dr. Ansell, raising awareness and helping people understand the signs and symptoms of a blood clot is their main goal.
Dr. Ansell explained that a blood clot in a deep vein, like Vickers experienced, is called a deep vein thrombosis (DVT) with signs and symptoms of
- Pain or tenderness
- Warmth or redness of the skin on the affected leg
A DVT can lead to pulmonary embolism (PE), which is a blood clot that travels to the lungs, also something that Vickers suffered from in 2010.
For Vickers, experiencing shortness of breath and weakness were unusual but not alarming in 2010, until he finally went to the doctor and discovered the true cause of his symptoms. News of his first clot left him wondering if he would ever race again.
“The first time they started very subtle. I had shortness of breath, no real pain associated with it, I was just weak. The strength I had for normal physical activity was diminished and just really short of breath and didn’t know why,” Vickers said.
“I just thought, it’s an off day, and I just kept going and ignored it. Then that shortness of breath turned into pain and that pain became more and more often and more and more severe and even when it was painful, I largely ignored it. Just pure stubbornness and hardheaded, I thought I was young and invincible and clearly I wasn’t. Finally it got so bad that I had no choice but to go to the emergency room. I could hardly breathe and every breath was extremely painful, fortunately I did get there in time but I no doubt cut it close.”
Vickers and his doctors worked out a treatment plan to get him healthy and back in the car. Taking Warfarin, a blood thinner, and changing his diet, he worked hard and got back to racing. When the symptoms started resurfacing again in 2013, Vickers new he had to step back and take care of his health in order to be ready to race full-time in 2014.
In just a few short weeks, Vickers and MWR head to Fontana, California to compete in the Sprint Cup Series event at Auto Club Speedway. The No.55 Aaron’s Dream Machine Toyota will partner with TreatMyClot.com and feature a purple paint scheme to raise awareness of blood clots.
“We’re really excited about that, it’s an amazing cause. We really hope to continue to raise a lot of awareness through the support of a lot of folks. If you think something is wrong, go see a doctor,” Vickers said. “That’s the biggest message, if you think something is wrong go see a doctor and encourage others.”
Roush Fenway Racing driver Ricky Stenhouse Jr. was awarded the Sunoco Rookie of the Year award for the 2013 season.
In his first full season in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, Stenhouse posted three top-10 finishes in the final 11 races of the season and finished third at Talladega Superspeedway in October. He also captured the Coors Light Pole Award at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
His finished out the season 19th in points with an average finish of 18.9.
His girlfriend, Stewart-Haas Racing's Danica Patrick, was also in contention for the award.
Patrick started off strong at the Daytona 500 in February. She became the first woman to win the pole and finished eighth, but fell short the remainder of the season.
But Stenhouse had two consecutive Nationwide Series titles before his first season in Cup. Patrick had one full Nationwide season and two part-time seasons.
Patrick, who ended the season 27th in the standings, said winning the award was a "long shot."
"That was going to be tough to compete with no matter who you are," Patrick said. "I struggled to compete for wins. It was going to be a huge accomplishment if I did it."