Wednesday, Nov 30
Speedway Digest Staff

Speedway Digest Staff

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In his maiden start at Bowman Gray Stadium, Bryan Ortiz finished in third-place, earning what would become his best finish in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East division in 2012.

 

The 24-year-old Ortiz was a Stock Car rookie last season when he left "The Madhouse" with a podium finish. He returns this year with 20 K&N Pro Series starts under his belt, including another third-place finish at the similarly wild Daytona International Speedway short track.

 

Ortiz, piloting the No. 4 Toyota for Rev Racing, currently sits 12th in the K&N East point standings, three points out of 10th.

 

Bryan Ortiz, on racing at Bowman Gray... "Last year, this was my best finish, but the race was crazy - it had 10 cautions - so I know I can't expect that same amount of cautions and if there are, I can't expect to be lucky enough to get through them all. We have to find a winning combination during practice and put an emphasis on qualifying well. It will be a tough race for us and probably a lot of fun for the fans."

 

Last outing... Ortiz climbed from a 23rd-place starting spot to finish 15th last month at Richmond International Raceway.

 

New graduate... Ortiz recently completed his degree program from Walden University, where he majored in business.

 

Rising Star Management PR

The American Cancer Society Relay for Life event at Darlington Raceway will take place on Saturday, June 1, at the track Too Tough To Tame. The relay was rescheduled from its original April 19 date due to inclement weather.

The event will take place in the infield ofThe Lady in Black, beginning at 11 a.m. Saturday and ending at approximately 11 p.m. The Relay for Life events are a major fundraiser for the American Cancer Society every year.

With the event being held at a historic venue like Darlington Raceway, residents are encouraged to come out and participate in the fight against cancer.

“It was unfortunate that we had to reschedule the event from April due to the weather, but it’s shaping up to be great weather for our Relay this Saturday,” American Cancer Society Area Executive Director Kathy Stokes said. “The track provides a great backdrop for our event and it’s a great location in Darlington County, which teams participating are excited about.”

The Relay for Life event, which was held at Darlington Raceway several years ago, took place in Hartsville, S.C. for seven years before returning to the track in 2012. Darlington Raceway appreciates that community organizations view the track as a special venue to host their fundraising events.

“We are more than happy to host this event for the American Cancer Society,” Darlington President Chris Browning said back in April. “Darlington Raceway provides a good centralized and historic location to host an event like this and we encourage our local residents to attend and help raise money for a great cause in the fight against cancer.”

Thus far, 37 teams are scheduled to participate with a fundraising goal of $165,000 for the 2013 event.

“Relay is a unique opportunity for our community to come together to celebrate people who have battled cancer, remember those we have lost, and fight back against the disease, Darlington County Relay for Life Event Chair, Sandy Jones said. “Many of the participants are cancer survivors, which serves as a reminder that Darlington County is not immune to this disease and that by participating in Relay, we are joining with the American Cancer Society’s efforts to create a world with less cancer and more birthdays.”

Darlington Raceway PR

He may not be making a lot of noise doing so, but Ryan Newman is starting to gain some ground as the 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season heads for the summer stretch.

Since finishing a disappointing 31st at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway April 7, Newman has been closing in on the 10th position in the point standings. With the exception of a DNF (did not finish) at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway, he hasn’t recorded a finish worse than 15th, and has three top-10 finishes in the span of six races. The string of steady performances has Newman sitting 20 markers in arrears to 10th-place Brad Keselowski, the final guaranteed position to lock into NASCAR’s 12-driver Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship.

Heading to Dover, Newman is looking to continue his steady climb. The high-banked, concrete mile oval is a favorite of the South Bend, Ind., native and, with an average finish of 12.1, it’s easy to understand why.

In 22 starts at Dover, Newman has four poles (June 2003 and 2006, September 2005 and 2007), three wins (June and September 2003, September 2004), six top-five finishes and 11 top-10s. Newman also has a NASCAR Nationwide Series win at the track (2005).

Newman’s September 2004 win at Dover was one of his most dominant performances in his 11-year Sprint Cup career.

He qualified on the outside pole for the 400-lap race but, by the end of lap one, he was shown as the leader. He showed no mercy to his other Sprint Cup competitors, leading an amazing 325 of 400 laps. In fact, Newman built a commanding eight-second lead en route to the win and claimed the first-ever “Monster Trophy” given out by the track known as the Monster Mile.

While Newman has had a rough go of it at the concrete oval the last two years, he does have reason to believe this weekend may put an end to that streak as his No. 39 team joined Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) teammates Danica Patrick and Tony Stewart for a two-day test at the facility two weeks ago.

This weekend, Newman hopes his steady climb in the point standings continues, and that another strong run at Dover will help solidify the No. 39 team’s chances of contending for a coveted spot in the Chase.

TSC PR

Lafferty Motorsports and Chris Lafferty are headed to the Monster Mile, Dover International Speedway, this weekend for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Lucas Oil 200.  Lafferty will be piloting the No. 10 KOMA Unwind Silverado in his third start at the one-mile track.

“I am very excited about the opportunity to represent KOMA Unwind.  They have been great partners for the first two seasons of our television show, “Chris Lafferty’s Motorsports TV,” and I am looking forward to taking our partnership to the race track and having a strong showing,” said Lafferty.

While this will be Chris’ first start of the 2013 season, he hasn’t been sitting at home doing nothing.  In fact, Chris has been keeping very busy on the set of his national television show wearing many of the productions’ hats and serving as host.  Lafferty has also been buried in music spending a lot of time in the recording studio and will soon be announcing the release of his debut music album.

In addition this weekend, Chris will be sporting a Blue Ox fire suit.  Blue Ox is Chris’ longest running sponsor; first partnering in 2006.  “The ability to team up with a great company like Blue Ox has been fantastic.  Blue Ox’s reputation is stellar and we are proud to continue to be a part of the Blue Ox family,” stated Lafferty.

All of the racing action can be seen live on SPEED on Friday beginning with NCWTS Setup with host Krista Voda  at 4:30 followed by racing at 5 p.m.

Lafferty Motorsports PR

Johnny Sauter's become well-versed in reality in his long racing career, and nowhere is that more relevant than at Dover International Speedway, this weekend's NASCAR Camping World Truck Series venue for Friday afternoon's Lucas Oil 200.

 

"For sure, it's probably the funnest racetrack we go to," Sauter said without hesitation. "We've just had a lot of really bad luck there. We usually qualify really well and we're running in the top five all day and for whatever reason we just can't seem to get to the finish."

 

Hello, Dover.

 

Sauter's average start in four career races at the "Monster Mile" is 4.5. But even though he has three lead-lap finishes in those four starts, Sauter's yet to lead a lap and his average finish is 13.75. The driver of ThorSport Racing's No. 98 Carolina Nut Co. / Curb Records Toyota is at a loss to explain it.

 

"There are racetracks where you can't really put your finger on why the things that happen, happen," Sauter said. "Martinsville used to be that way, for me. I'd go there for years and really haul -- but have nothing to show for it on paper. It looks like it was one of my worst racetracks and statistically, it probably was for the longest time, even though we didn't feel that way, when we looked at how we ran there.

 

"I'd have to say Dover's about the same way. The numbers are just not indicative of how we run there, so all you can do is continue to put your best effort forward -- and that's what we do every week. It's no different than a lot of racetracks, in that you have to be smart all day and take care of your stuff, but there are some racetracks where you can't seem to do anything right, and I think a lot of that is luck."

 

Sauter and his ThorSport crew need to do everything they can to get their luck pointed in the right direction at Dover. Performance hasn't been much of an issue this season, with Sauter winning the first two races and having four consecutive top-five finishes. But after he was intentionally wrecked by James Buescher in the last race at Charlotte, Sauter's sixth in the championship, 37 points behind teammate Matt Crafton.

 

And that's what makes Sauter and his ThorSport Racing team's record at Dover so frustrating. His best Dover Truck race was his 2009 debut, when he started fourth and finished fifth. His best start is third, in 2010.

 

This weekend, Sauter's crew once again will be led by truck chief Jesse Saunders and Dan LeMasters, Sauter's four-year truck chief who came off the road at the beginning of this season to be with his young family but who went back out at Charlotte to crew chief with Saunders, "by committee" as crew chief Joe Shear Jr. continues to serve a four-race suspension.

 

"It's different, there's no question about it," Sauter said of not having the crew chief with which he's won races in NASCAR's Busch and Truck series and the 2001 ASA championship. "Joe puts so much into this program and he's always with us -- whether he's physically there or not.

 

"Jesse and Dan and all the boys are really good, and they ultimately were the ones that were able to pick up the slack, and I think it went off pretty well (at Charlotte), all things considered. It wasn't our best run, for sure but it was going to be a decent night and I think that's just going to make us better in these next couple races without Joe."

 

Shear is due to return to the track for the Iowa race in early July and no matter how well Sauter runs at Dover, Texas -- where he and Shear swept both 2012 Truck Series races -- and Kentucky he can't wait to have Shear's familiar voice back in his ear.

 

"It's been an adjustment," Sauter said. "You want to call out into the radio, 'Hey Joe, what about this...' And if you're sitting in the truck during practice and you come up with an idea you're just so used to calling (Shear) to the window and talking about it. So it's just different, but we're adjusting and making it work, and I just need to do a better job of being in the game and giving the guys the information they need to make the truck better, and I will do that at Dover."

 

The weekend opens up Thursday afternoon with a pair of Truck Series practices, from 2:30-3:45 p.m. ET and 4:15-5:30 p.m. Truck qualifying is at 10:05 a.m. Friday, with live coverage on the SPEED Channel.

 

The season's sixth of 22 races, the Lucas Oil 200 is 200 laps and 200 miles. It's scheduled for a 5 p.m. Friday start and for the second consecutive year SPEED will have live coverage preceded by The Setup pre-race show at 4:30. MRN Radio has live coverage, also beginning at 4:30.

 

Thorsport PR

Mike Wallace and the No. 01 JD Motorsports with Gary Keller team will head to Dover International Speedway ready to race 200 miles with the support of Iron Source. The team, coming off a top-25 finish in Charlotte, will look to race up front and move into the top-20 in Owner’s Points following the race.

Iron Source is a Delaware based equipment Sales, Rental, and Service Company, serving the entire DELMARVA Region, with branches in Georgetown and Smyrna. Iron Source serves the construction and farm industries as well as homeowners, while representing several equipment manufacturers such as Gehl, Manitou, Wacker Neuson, and Bandit.

The veteran Wallace will be racing at a track where he has experienced success in the past, including a victory in 1994. During his tenure of driving for team owner Johnny Davis, the No. 01 car with Mike Wallace has experienced three top-20s, including a 10th in 2011.

The team will unload Chassis JDM 007, last used at Darlington and Bristol. The time is right for Wallace and the team to put together a good run, as the car sits 9 points out of the top-20. Wallace also finds himself only two points out of 16th in the Driver’s Standings.

Mike Wallace Quotes: “I am excited to race at Dover with the support of Iron Horse. Dover is a track I have experienced success at in the past. We as a team can run strong here, and with a good finish hopefully we can continue to move up in points.”

JD Motorsports PR

Todd Bodine extended Toyota's NASCAR Camping World Truck Series winning streak at Dover International Speedway to five consecutive years in last year's Lucas Oil 200.

 

And while Bodine knows 2013's a completely different season with a virtually unique cast of characters, he sees no reason why he can't defend his victory in Friday afternoon's Lucas Oil 200 and potentially win his 23rd career Truck Series race, which would be his first driving ThorSport's No. 13 SealMaster Toyota.

 

"The potential to win is there every weekend with ThorSport," Bodine said. "They've proven how good they can be with the depth of their team and heck, Matt (Crafton, Truck Series point leader) and Johnny (Sauter, third ThorSport teammate) have already won this season."

 

Bodine's in concert with a lot of his fellow drivers that never met a racetrack they didn't like. But when it comes to Dover, where Bodine won a pole and three races in the former Busch Series -- including his career-first, in 1991 -- Dover's a cut above the norm.

 

"I like Dover because it's always seemed to suit my driving style -- even when it was asphalt," Bodine said of his Busch success, which was on the same banking but with the former asphalt pavement that was converted to concrete in 1995. "You've got to be aggressive on every lap, but you can't step over the edge because you'll wreck, or get wrecked, in a heartbeat."

 

Bodine agrees with his ThorSport teammate Crafton, who loves the variety of racing grooves that Dover presents its competitors. And Bodine isn't averse to hunting for the best one.

 

"That's something you have to do every single week, no matter the racetrack," Bodine said. "But that's definitely more the case at Dover. Believe it or not, with the concrete surface, it's more like a dirt track in the way it changes and the way you can find a faster way around it if you're persistent enough."

 

Bodine and Crafton have been adept at that, which is proven by the fact that, of all the 34 drivers entered this weekend, Crafton and Bodine are one-two on the chart of most Dover green-flag passes. Crafton, who has the best average finish of any entered driver with more than two series starts here, 9.9, has 231 green-flag passes and Bodine has 196. David Starr is third, with 179.

 

Bodine's proud of his win last season, but considering he's only making his sixth start with ThorSport and crew chief Jeriod Prince, Bodine knows this weekend is a totally new chapter in a career that includes 15 wins in the current Nationwide Series and a pair of Truck Series championships, in 2006 and 2010.

 

Coincidentally, Bodine's other top-five finishes at Dover came in his championship seasons, third in 2006 and fifth in 2010.

 

"Those are all great memories, particularly winning at Dover last year," Bodine said. "But it doesn't really mean anything because the slate's wiped clean as soon as you drive out of the racetrack and move on to the next event.

 

"You need to go out and earn the next win, just like you did the last one."

 

And as good as he's run at times with ThorSport, including his latest come-from-behind lead-lap finish at Charlotte that enabled him to draw back to within 15 points of the top 10 in the standings, tied for 14th with four-time series champion Ron Hornaday, Bodine believes that breakthrough could come this weekend.

 

"Jeriod and his guys are really working hard to be leading the ARCA championship with Frank Kimmel while at the same time giving me great trucks," Bodine said. "We can definitely make something happen at Dover."

 

The weekend opens up Thursday afternoon with a pair of Truck Series practices, from 2:30-3:45 p.m. ET and 4:15-5:30 p.m. Truck qualifying is at 10:05 a.m. Friday, with live coverage on the SPEED Channel.

 

The season's sixth of 22 races, the Lucas Oil 200 is 200 laps and 200 miles. It's scheduled for a 5 p.m. Friday start and for the second consecutive year SPEED will have live coverage preceded by The Setup pre-race show at 4:30. MRN Radio has live coverage, also beginning at 4:30.

 

Thorsport PR

Pocono Raceway announced today fan-driven driver experiences, including NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Jimmie Johnson and Danica Patrick,  for the Party in the Poconos 400 Presented by Walmartrace weekend June 7-9.

Earnhardt, Jr. will join Denny Hamlin, Mark Martin and David Ragan in a driver autograph session, located behind Victory Lane inside the Paddock area, from 2-2:30 pm ET on Friday, June 7. The first 150 people with wristbands can attend, due to time constraints. Wristbands will be distributed, on a first-come, first-serve basis, at the autograph session location starting at 10 am ET. A Pre-Race Pit/Paddock Pass is required, due to the location of the autograph session. Driver lineup and appearance time are subject to change without notice.

Sunday’s driver experience lineup includes the Jimmie Johnson Fan Experience, the Danica Patrick Fan Experience and Pocono Raceway’s Tricky Triangle Club featuring drivers Jeff Burton, Kevin Harvick and Martin Truex, Jr., as well as an appearance by Miss Sprint Cup.

Johnson, a two-time Pocono Raceway winner, will appear for his third annual Fan Experience. This ticket package includes Sunday Grandstand race ticket(s), exclusive access to Johnson’s pre-race, fan question-and-answer-session, Racing Electronics scanner rental(s) and Lowe’s “Build and Grow” car(s). Fans have two options for purchasing tickets, either the individual ticket package at $48 or the family-four pack at $148. Package are only available while supplies last. For more information or to purchase this ticket package, visit www.poconoraceway.com/jj48 or call 1-800-RACEWAY (1-800-722-3929).

The Danica Patrick Fan Experience includes two options, available for new and existing ticket purchasers. New ticket customers can purchase individual ticket packages for $110, which includes a Sunday Terrace Grandstand ticket and access to Patrick’s pre-race, fan question-and-answer session. Existing ticket customers can purchase access to Patrick’s appearance for $35. Offer is only available while supplies last. For more information or to purchase the Danica Fan Experience passes, visit www.poconoraceway.com or call 1-800-RACEWAY (1-800-722-3929).

Pocono Raceway PR

No. 56 NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota driver Martin Truex Jr. goes home to Dover International Speedway this weekend on a roll that would earn the admiration of even the most jaded gambler at the track’s casino. 

The Mayetta, N.J. native left Martinsville Speedway on April 7 mired in 25th place in the standings. His Michael Waltrip Racing team needed to turn the season around immediately if it hoped to earn a second consecutive berth in NASCAR’s Chase for the Sprint Cup.

Six races later guess who’s sitting ninth in points?

In the last six races, the No. 56 team has earned the fourth most points as Truex has turned in four top-10 finishes. The surge comes with second and fourth place finishes at Texas and Kansas and despite a 17th-place finish at Richmond that saw him spun by another driver while battling for the lead. Truex earned two more top-10 finishes compiling an average start of 7.5 and average finish of 8.5.

Truex should bolster these numbers at Dover — a track he’s won at three times — once in Cup (2007) and twice in the Nationwide Series(2004, 2005).

Martin Truex Jr. Thoughts Heading Into Dover: “We’ve run well in the last six races and our numbers show it. In fact, we’ve run well all year but just had one issue or  another that messes us up. Our focus is on getting all the little things right so that we can be even better and better each week. We walked out of Charlotte disappointed because of finishing ninth. Ninth was about the worst we were all night because of the restarts we got. It was frustrating being in the low line. Chad gave me the best car I have ever had at Charlotte. I consider that place to be one of my toughest tracks and I had one of the best cars out there. I know I have a real chance to win this weekend in Dover. I cannot wait to get out on the track and see what all we can get done.”

What makes Dover a unique race track? “The banking, the speed — it’s narrow.  Everything about it is different than anywhere we go. It’s really just an awesome race track. I mean, winning there twice in the Nationwide Series and then in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in 2007 makes Dover a special place to race for me and my family. I just look forward to going back and trying to win it all over again.”

MWR PR

With the two weeks of Charlotte complete, the competitors in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series now begin the summer stretch of races, the majority of which are conducted in the northern part of the country.

For Danica Patrick, it means a lot of races at tracks she is familiar with, just not in the Sprint Cup Series. Of the next eight races on the schedule, Patrick has raced at seven of them in one series or another, save for Pocono (Pa) Raceway, sight of next week’s Sprint Cup race.

Following Pocono, the series heads to Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway and Kentucky Speedway in Sparta. Patrick competed at all three tracks in the IZOD IndyCar Series and drove in NASCAR Nationwide Series events at Michigan and Kentucky.

From Kentucky, the schedule heads back to Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway, where Patrick started on the pole, led five laps and finished eighth in February’s 55th Daytona 500. The eight-race summer stretch concludes with races at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon and at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway – two tracks Patrick has driven in both IndyCar and Nationwide Series competition.

In seven Indianapolis 500s, Patrick scored six top-10 finishes including a third-place result in 2009 – the best finish ever for a woman in the history of the race.

The summer stretch kicks off this week with the FedEx 400 Benefiting Autism Speaks at Dover (Del.) International Speedway. Patrick, driver of the No. 10 GoDaddy Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), started 38th and finished 28th in September 2012 in her only Sprint Cup start at the concrete mile oval.

She’s made three Nationwide Series starts at Dover and finished 16th in September 2012. Patrick started 13th and finished sixth in a September 2010 NASCAR K&N Pro Series East race at Dover. She led three laps in the event to become the first female driver to ever lead laps in the series.

TSC PR

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