Wednesday, Feb 01
Speedway Digest Staff

Speedway Digest Staff

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David Ragan will go to Daytona International Speedway this week with a standout partner and a car that knows how to find Victory Lane.  The bright yellow and green colors of Peanut Patch Boiled Peanuts return to the No. 34 Ford this weekend in NASCAR's first race at a restrictor plate track since Ragan's dramatic win at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway on May 5.

 

Retail partner Winn Dixie will join Peanut Patch on the car for Saturday night's Coke Zero 400 on the 2.5-mile superspeedway.

 

Ragan's No. 34 Ford Fusion for the 400-mile race will be the same car that surged to the front on the final lap of the Talladega race to capture Front Row Motorsports' first win in team history.   

 

"We're excited for Peanut Patch to be on the same car Front Row Motorsports driver David Ragan drove at Talladega," said Woody Swink, regional director of sales and owner of McCall Farms.  "And hoping yellow and green make its way into Victory Lane this time at the upcoming Coke Zero 400 in Daytona this weekend." 

 

The 27-year-old driver has been to Victory Lane at Daytona before, too, earning his first Sprint Cup Series win at the Coke Zero 400 in July 2011.  He has 13 total starts at the track, with one win, three top-fives and four top-10s.

 

Comments from Peanut Patch team driver David Ragan heading to Daytona:

 

"Absolutely, we're eager to get to Daytona.  We're taking our same car to the Fourth of July Coke Zero 400 that we won with in Talladega.  Restrictor plate races are difficult, in a sense.  You can very much get caught up in a wreck not of your doing pretty quick.  So we just want to make sure it's handling well and we've got a good strategy.  There is some element of luck involved in winning those races.  But if we can be around at the end and have a good handling car, we'll have a shot to win again.

 

"The end of restrictor plate races are crazy.  Everybody gets aggressive and there's no give-and-take.  Track position means a lot.  If you're running 25th on the white-flag lap, you're not going to have a chance to win.  You've got to be in the top five or six or seven cars to win, and we all know that.  So, about 15 or 20 laps to go, everyone stops giving and taking some, everyone gets very aggressive and you set yourself up for those final few laps with about 20 laps to go.

 

"We're bringing Peanut Patch with Winn Dixie to Daytona with us.  Peanut Patch has been a loyal partner of Front Row Motorsports over the past two seasons, and they stepped up to be on our car at Daytona.  Obviously, because of our Talladega win, there will probably be a lot of eyes on our No. 34 Ford, and with the bright yellow and green paint scheme, it will be hard to miss.  We're looking forward to getting Peanut Patch and Winn Dixie some attention at Daytona and maybe even getting them into Victory Lane."

 

FRM PR

Everyone jokes that David Ragan owes David Gilliland a victory.  After Gilliland pushed his teammate to Front Row Motorsports' first win at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway for a 1-2 finish in May, it's only natural to rib Ragan about returning the favor this weekend at Daytona International Speedway.  Gilliland is very much in favor of that role reversal.

 

In the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series' first return to restrictor plate racing since that Talladega race, Gilliland knows that Victory Lane is once again in sight for this young team.  The No. 38 Long John Silver's crew is taking the same car that earned that runner-up finish at Talladega to Daytona Beach, Fla., for Saturday night's Coke Zero 400.

 

In 10 Cup career starts, Gilliland has a pole position, one top-five and two top-10 finishes at the 2.5-mile superspeedway.

 

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

 

"Our 38 team is excited to get to Daytona. We're taking the same car.  Both of us are, the 34 and 38 teams.  Daytona in July drives a little bit different, but overall I think we'll be close and we're definitely anxious to get back there.  We obviously have confidence in those cars and what they can do, and I think you can probably see us working together again.

 

"It's just so much hotter in July than in February.  The track just has so much less grip.  It's actually more similar (for the two races) now than ever since they repaved it, but it still definitely goes through quite a big swing.  But I have a lot of confidence in my crew chief, Frank Kerr, and my team, and also our Ford engines, so I think we can be just as competitive as we were at Talladega.  Only this time maybe we'll flip-flop who finishes first and second.

 

"Obviously, superspeedway races are wild cards - you never know what's going to happen.  You can have the fastest car out there and get caught up in someone else's wreck on Lap 1.  All three Front Row cars got wiped out in one wreck in the Daytona 500 this year through no fault of our own.  So, you could say that plate racing is certainly not 'fair.'  There's some strategy involved, but there's also some luck.  We had both on our side in Talladega and we'll hope for it again this weekend."

 

FRM PR

Several reasons can explain why Scott Speed can't wait for Saturday night's Coke Zero 400 at the Daytona International Speedway, but none are more important than another good opportunity to drive the No. 95 Leavine Family Racing Ford to Victory Lane. 

 

Though the team makes selected appearances in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS), the team's strength has come at the two restrictor-plate tracks, including Daytona.

 

A 23rd-place finish at the season-opening Daytona 500 and a ninth-place effort at the Aaron's 499 at the Talladega Superspeedway are the two best finishes for Speed and Leavine Family Racing this year.

 

"Even at Daytona we led laps," Speed said.

 

The team last raced at the Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 26. The five-race break is the longest planned by the third year team. It also gave the team more than a month to make minor adjustments to their No. 95 Ford Fusion.

 

"This car finished ninth the last time it was on the track, so there's not a lot that has to be done with it," crew chief Wally Rogers said. "This car is fast and it drives really well. More than anything else we've gone over our strategy."

 

But once the race starts at 7:30 p.m., Speed said a lot of the planning will be pointless.

 

"Everyone goes into a plate race with a strategy, but it's not very often things work out to plan," Speed said. "Once everyone starts finding their place in the draft you usually get what you can get, not what you want."

 

Restrictor-plate tracks like Daytona and Talladega also are known for colossal multi-car accidents. Speed, however, has one of the better records for avoiding "the big one," especially at Daytona. He's finished in four of five career starts on the 2.5-mile tri-oval.

 

Speed has completed 877 of 886 laps in his career at Daytona International Speedway.

 

"You have to make sure you always understand your surroundings," he said. "You try not to be around guys who have a habit of not finishing these races. And once you find your comfort zone, if it's possible to actually find a comfort zone at Daytona, you have to be committed to everything you do. There's no time or room for second-guessing. You make your decisions, you pick your line and you hope for the best."

 

Speed and Leavine Family Racing's next scheduled race will be the Crown Royal Presents the Samuel Deeds 400 at The Brickyard Powered by BigMachineRecords.com at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 28.

 

LFR PR

Brad Keselowski gave Penske Racing their fifth win of the season in the Nationwide Series Friday night at Kentucky Speedway. Just one week after AJ Allmendinger put the #22 Ford Mustang in Victory Lane at Road America, Keselowski brought home his second win of the season in the Feed the Children 300.

Arguably the class of the field, Keselowski led four times for a total of 59 laps on the flat 1.5-mile track. After taking four tires during the last round of pit stops under caution on lap 144, he quickly moved through the pack to take the lead from Elliott Sadler on lap 156 and held him off when the rain began to fall on lap 164. NASCAR stopped the race on lap 170 of 200 when more showers moved through the area.

“It certainly was a great race for us, but I didn’t want it to end this way,” said Keselowski. “The No. 22 team did a great job. They’ve been working so hard, and they deserve these results. A car that was this good is just an honor to have. I felt really lucky today.”

Josh Richards completed a perfect weekend Saturday night during the seventh annual Firecracker 100 at Lernerville Speedway. Richards started the weekend with preliminary victories Thursday night and Saturday afternoon and became the first driver in history to sweep the Firecracker 100 weekend since it was expanded to three full nights.

In the final race Richards overtook the polesitter and defending Firecracker 100 winner Scott Bloomquist for the lead on lap 16 and never gave up the top spot. The race was slowed by 11 caution flags and 2 red flags as it stretched into the early morning hours of Sunday. Richards was able to pull away at the final restart with four laps to go and win by 0.976 of a second with his Roush Yates powered 436 Ford.

“It means a lot to me to win a race of this much prestige – as well as this is the place that I ran my first World of Outlaw race in 2004,” said Richards, who captured his sixth World of Outlaw victory of 2013. “There are a lot of great cars here and just to be able to win one of the weekend races means a lot – to win all three is unreal.”

Johnny Scott took home the Allgayer, Inc. Southern Region point’s championship after winning three races this weekend in the USMTS series. Scott captured his third straight victory Friday night at RPM Speedway in Crandall, TX after leading his group with the fastest time in qualifying and winning his heat race from outside of the second row.

The win was his seventh of 2013 in the USMTS Series with his Roush Yates powered USMTS 410 Chevy spec modified engine.

RYE PR

JR Motorsports announced today that Speedco Truck Lube and Tires, which is heavily involved in the JRM late model program, will sponsor Regan Smith’s No. 7 Chevrolet Camaro in the July 21NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Chicagoland Speedway.

Smith is the current Nationwide Series point leader.  He is eight points ahead of second-place Sam Hornish Jr. heading into Friday night’s race at Daytona International Speedway (7:30 p.m. ET on ESPN).
 
The addition of Speedco to the primary sponsorship line-up of the No. 7 team is an expansion of an already prosperous partnership.  With Speedco’s backing, JR Motorsports produced its first championship as a company last season when Josh Berry took the track title at Motor Mile Speedway (Radford, Va.).  Speedco also serves as a full-season associate sponsor on both JR Motorsports’ Nationwide entries.
 
Speedco is a national company that specializes in quick lubes and tire services for the trucking industry.  There are more than 51 Speedco stations across the country.

“Speedco is a strong supporter of our racing programs on multiple levels,” said Kelley Earnhardt Miller, co-owner and general manager of JR Motorsports. “This is a great example of a partner growing along with our company.  Speedco was initially involved with the late model team, and out of that relationship, they’ve expanded into our Nationwide Series program.  With Regan’s two wins already this season, I think we’re all excited at our chances to visit victory lane with Speedco in Chicago.”
 
Smith has led the Nationwide Series points race since his win at Talladega Superspeedway on May 4.  He added another victory two weeks ago at Michigan.  For the season, Smith has two victories, four top-5s and 11 top-10 finishes.
 
“It’s an honor to be part of the JR Motorsports team,” said Mark Clark, Speedco president and CEO.  “This is an exciting new step for Speedco.  Our expanded partnership is a great opportunity for our company to get further involved in the Nationwide Series and we’re thrilled to be part of a winning team.”
 
The July 21 event at Chicagoland Speedway is a stand-alone weekend for the Nationwide Series and marks the first of two annual races at the 1.5-mile facility.
 
JR Motorsports PR

Coming off a discouraging finish at Road America, Mike Bliss and his No. 19 TriStar Motorsports crew worked feverishly at the Bluegrass State’s fastest 1.5-mile oval. At the start of the race Bliss knew he had his work cut out for him as he rolled off 24th for the 12thAnnual Feed the Children 300 at Kentucky Speedway.

Within the first 40 laps, Bliss gained a few spots and merged into the top-20 and stayed there for 12 laps.  A caution fell at lap 51 just as Bliss’ car started to feel a “wrecking loose.”

“The car is tighter when I’m on the gas, but I’m really loose on entry,” said Bliss.  This was the beginning to a series of adjustments throughout the action packed event. Bliss and Crew Chief Paul Clapprood made track bar, air pressure, shock and wedge adjustments all in an attempt to find a balance with Bliss’ Toyota.

By lap 87 Bliss was racing in the 20th position and radioed to Clapprood, “I can’t turn the wheel in the center of three and four; it seems like it’s going to snap loose on me.”

At lap 110 there were only nine cars on the lead lap as Bliss fluctuated between 19th and 23rd.  At this point the team met their limitations as to what they could do to accommodate the ill handling No. 19.  Simultaneously, Bliss’ spotter Toby Whealdon radioed, “I’m feeling some rain up here on the roof.”

With rain sparsely falling over Kentucky Speedway; the field ran under caution for seven laps. Bliss maintained the 19th position as NASCAR made the official decision to end the Feed the Children 300 at lap 169 due to excessive precipitation.

“The fact that the race was shortened by rain didn’t hurt our finishing efforts. My crew worked really hard and we tried everything we could think of to balance the car out,” said Bliss. “I can’t say enough about my guys; they never gave up.”

Bliss’ 19th place finish at Kentucky is the 12th top-20 finish of the season.  Falling one spot in the NASCAR Nationwide Series driver points standing to 13th, Bliss and his crew set their sights on NASCAR’s iconic track, Daytona International Speedway.

TMI PR

One of the hottest drivers in NASCAR right now will heat up Martinsville Speedway’s new Party Plaza on October 27.

Jamie McMurray, who finished second in Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup event and was the pole winner two weeks ago, will stop by the Party Plaza on the morning of the Goody’sHeadache Relief Shot™ 500. Jeff Gordon, four-time NASCAR Sprint Cup champion, and Rookie of the Year candidate Ricky Stenhouse Jr. will also make appearances in the Party Plaza.

The Party Plaza is a new addition to Martinsville Speedway’s race-morning lineup.

There will be food vendors in the Party Plaza selling great treats and Pepsi products will be available for purchase. There will be a beer garden with an assortment of beer at affordable prices.

McMurray, whose half-dozen career Sprint Cup wins have all come on tracks over a mile in length, has been surprisingly successful on Martinsville Speedway’s tight half-mile layout.

He finished seventh in last spring’s STP® Gas Booster™ 500 and has finished in the top 10 in 11 of his 21 Martinsville starts. He’s finished second twice at Martinsville, in the spring of 2004 and again in the fall of 2004.

He won the pole for the spring race in 2011 and wound up finishing seventh. McMurray has also won a NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Martinsville, picking up the victory in the fall of 2004.

“Jamie is a great addition to our new Party Plaza. He’s probably got some good Martinsville stories because he has been good here,” said Martinsville Speedway President Clay Campbell. “We’re building a really strong lineup of drivers for the Party Plaza on race morning with Jeff, Jamie and Ricky and we’ll have more drivers to announce.”

Admission to the Party Plaza, which also includes a Pre-Race Track Pass to walk along the front-stretch of Martinsville Speedway, is just $49.

The drivers will appear at different times and each will participate in an emceed question and answer session during their appearance.

Martinsville Speedway PR

Headstrong?”Not when it comes to the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series post race concert on Aug.17 featuring rock band Trapt as part of a low dough show in conjunction with 98.9 the Rock.

Trapt, who is on tour supporting their sixth studio album “Reborn”, started opening for Papa Roach before the members of the group graduated from high school. The group’s song “Headstrong” reached #1 on Billboard’s Modern and Mainstream Rock charts. Over the years, the band has toured with the likes of Nickelback, Chevelle, Three Days Grace and taken part in Motley Crue’s Crue Fest.

Advance tickets are $9.89 and give fans access to the Turn 1 Terrace only for the entire day on Aug. 17, which includes both GRAND-AM races and the Trapt concert. On the day of the event, tickets will be $15. Fans with Turn 1 Terrace tickets can access the area through Gate D and should park in parking lots 5 and 6.

Tickets are on sale now for the GRAND-AM weekend by calling 866.460.RACE (7223) or logging onto www.kansasspeedway.com. Infield general admission tickets for Aug. 17 are $60 and fans can also purchase paddock (garage) access for $15. Aug. 16 is free general admission access and fans can purchase a paddock (garage) pass for $15.

Tickets for Kansas Speedway’s October races are on sale now, too, by calling 866.460.RACE (7223) or logging onto www.kansasspeedway.com. The Hollywood Casino 400 (the fourth race in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup) is Oct. 6 and tickets start at $64. The Kansas Lottery 300 NASCAR Nationwide Series race is Oct. 5 and the Kansas Lottery 98.9 ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards race is Oct. 4. Season ticket holders have access to the Kansas Army National Guard Pre-Race, which features a concert and driver introductions, with their TrackPass.

Kansas Speedway PR

Drivers, charge your engines. NASCAR announced today a new multi-year official agreement with Eaton, a leader in developing global solutions for today’s most critical electrical power management challenges. The new alliance makes Eaton an Official NASCAR Green Partner, with the designation ‘Official EV Charging Solution Provider of NASCAR’ bolstering the growing roster of companies utilizing the NASCAR Green platform to validate technologies that positively impact the environment.

The new collaboration includes the installation of 20 Eaton Level 2 electric vehicle (EV) charging stations at NASCAR offices in Daytona Beach, Charlotte and Concord. The stations will power electric and plug-in hybrid EVs of NASCAR employees and guests. Eaton is a leading provider of EV charging infrastructure in the United States. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, EV charging infrastructure build out is critical given its benefits include lowered Greenhouse Gas and particulate emissions, improved public health, increased energy security and lower operating cost per mile. For example, based on Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) fuel economy ratings (fueleconomy.gov), fully charging a Ford Focus EV every day for a year equates to saving 211 trees which equates to the GHG emissions from five NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races. 

“The dedication put behind the NASCAR Green platform has translated into NASCAR not only being the leader in sports sustainability, but in establishing a business model that benefits our partners, customers and the planet,” said Dr. Mike Lynch, NASCAR managing director, green innovation, strategic development. “Through the installation of Eaton’s industry-leading EV charging station technology, Eaton provides NASCAR with yet another impactful way to reduce the sports’ impact on the environment in the future.”

According to a 2012 study commissioned by NASCAR and conducted by Toluna, NASCAR fans are twice as likely as non-fans to view their household as very green – always looking for new ways to positively impact the environment. The same research shows that NASCAR fans are multiple times more likely than non-fans to closely associate NASCAR with being environmentally responsible.

“As a former NASCAR driver, I have seen firsthand how motorsports are not only an incubator of significant technology advancements in transportation, but also a key platform in driving public awareness of the technologies,” said Johnny Miller, global client director, Eaton’s electrical business. “As a leader in energy management and in the emerging market of grid connected vehicles, Eaton is a perfect fit for the NASCAR Green Team.”

NASCAR’s transformative efforts in Green have established it as the leader in sustainability across all of sports. Through strategic partnerships with teams, tracks and Official Partners, NASCAR Green continues to set new benchmarks. NASCAR features the world’s largest solar-powered sports facility (by more than two times), a tree planting program capturing 100 percent of the emissions produced by on-track racing, and the largest recycling program in sports. Its corporate headquarters in Daytona Beach, the International Motorsports Center, has achieved Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (“LEED”) Gold Certification from the U.S. Green Building Council. Additionally, NASCAR launched a long term biofuels program to reduce emissions in all its racing series with partners Sunoco, American Ethanol and the National Corn Growers Association. NASCAR recently surpassed four million miles driven across its three national series on Sunoco Green E15.

As part of this collaboration, Eaton joins the NASCAR Fuel for Business Council®, which brings together an exclusive group of more than 60 Official NASCAR Partners four times per year to buy and sell products and services from one another. This exclusive business-to-business environment offers unique opportunities for many FORTUNE 500 companies to bypass the time and layers of corporate coordination that may exist and construct customized deals to help address specific business needs.

NASCAR PR

 

What started as a contingency decal on a quarter-panel of a stock car in Connecticut has grown into an international partnership.

Whelen Engineering, a long-time sponsor and supporter of NASCAR's touring and regional series, became the official entitlement sponsor of the European stock-car series in an announcement Monday morning in Paris.

The first race under the newly re-named NASCAR Whelen Euro Series will be this weekend at France's Tours Speedway. The first-of-its-kind, temporary oval is located just outside Paris. The series, which was founded in 2008, is in its second year under the NASCAR banner.

The Whelen entitlement sponsorship agreement is through 2019.

"This is a landmark day for the series," said Jerome Galpin, general manager of Team FJ, which owns and operates the European-based series. "Whelen's support of NASCAR at every level is exemplary and to have them on board with the Euro Series brings another level of prestige and support to the series."

Last year, Spain's Ander Vilarino became the first NASCAR European champion. He again leads the championship points after three race weekends.

Galpin and Vilarino were joined at Monday's announcement on the Seine River by Nicolas Deschaux, president of FFSA (Fédération Française du Sport Automobile); Bob Duvall, NASCAR senior director of business development; and Joe Balash, NASCAR international competition liaison.

The NASCAR Whelen Euro Series competes on road courses in France (Circuit Paul Armagnac in Nogaro, Circuit de Dijon-Prenois in Dijon, and the championship round at Circuit Le Mans Bugatti in LeMans), England (Brands Hatch Circuit), Spain (MotorLand Aragón, near Alcañiz) and Italy (Autodromo Nazionale di Monza, north of Milan).

Many of those facilities have signed long-term agreements to hold Euro Series races.

The Tours track is a nearly .400-mile track. The success of the first event last year, won by NASCAR K&N Pro Series driver Ben Kennedy, has prompted the series to make it a more permanent structure with additional banking.

"NASCAR is a globally recognized brand that is synonymous with excitement, family entertainment and close door-to-door competition," said George Silbermann, NASCAR vice president of regional and touring series. "And that's exactly what the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series represents in Europe. We are extremely proud to partner with Team FJ and Whelen Engineering, and help take this series to the next level."

The signing of Whelen as an entitlement sponsor is yet another example of the growth and potential of the series.

"NASCAR has been a tremendous partner for Whelen Engineering, and having our products at the tracks and used by teams is really at the core of what we're about," said Phil Kurze, vice president of motorsports for Whelen Engineering. "We enjoy helping to provide people with exciting weekend entertainment, and providing an opportunity for drivers, mechanics, crew chiefs and fabricators to display their talents. As we continue to expand our distribution throughout Europe, partnering with Team FJ is a natural fit."

Whelen has been in NASCAR since the early 1990s, getting its first involvement with Ted Christopher in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East back when it was known as the NASCAR Busch North Series.

Whelen progressed in car sponsorship, eventually landing as a primary sponsor for Dave Blaney in the 2004 Daytona 500. The Connecticut-based company has also been involved in sports car racing, sponsoring Boris Said and Eric Curran in the GRAND-AM Rolex Series.

Whelen's involvement in NASCAR increased in 2005, when it became the entitlement sponsor for the NASCAR Modified Tour in 2005, sponsoring the oldest series in NASCAR. That same year, Whelen became the sponsor for the newly-formed Southern Modified Tour.

In 2007, Whelen added to its NASCAR presence by becoming the title sponsor of NASCAR's grassroots weekly series. The NASCAR Whelen All-American Series encompasses 55 short tracks throughout the US and Canada. Recently, Whelen re-affirmed its commitment by extending its contract through 2019.

Kurze pointed out that Whelen's products -- which are all manufactured in the U.S. by is more than 1,400 employees at its plants in Connecticut and New Hampshire -- are used extensively by police and fire departments, towing companies and emergency personnel. Many of those same people help make up the racing community.

"It just makes sense for us to be involved here and that we're supporting their sport," said Kurze. "As time has gone on, we saw an increase in sales, which we attributed directly to our involvement in NASCAR.

Whelen's sponsorship of the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series is in addition to the commitments it has made to the U.S.-based series.

Kurze said that as the company has expanded distribution into many parts of Europe, it's a natural fit to partner with the Euro Series.

The NASCAR Whelen Euro Series crowns champions in its Elite Division, as well as an Open Division.

The top drivers will be recognized at the NASCAR Night of Champions Touring Awards at the NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte, N.C., in December, along with the champions from all of NASCAR's touring series.

 

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