Speedway Digest Staff
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Johnny Sauter’s hot start to the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series season continued Saturday afternoon with a win in the Kroger 250 at Martinsville Speedway.
The win gave Sauter a sweep of the first two races of the season. He won the opener at Daytona five weeks ago and with Saturday’s win he became only the second driver in NASCAR Camping World Truck Series history to win the first two races of the season. Mark Martin won the first two races of the 2006 season.
“We typically run well here, so our expectations are high. Yesterday (Friday practice) was no different. The truck was really fast off the hauler,” Sauter said after his second Martinsville Speedway victory. “We knew today was going to be about tire management, more so than I ever remember here. So the first part of the race we ran about 80 percent and tried not to lose too much track position.
“Later on after our first pit stop, we were around eighth and still riding. After the next pit stop with 100 to go we were 18th and I was wondering how I could be patient and aggressive. With 40 or 50 to go we put the hammer down and let her go. It was an amazing day.”
Sauter took the lead with 17 laps to go and really wasn’t challenged, taking a 1.888-second victory over ThorSport Racing teammate Matt Crafton.
Pole-sitter and rookie Jeb Burton finished third, followed by former Martinsville winner Timothy Peters and rookie Darrell Wallace Jr.
Burton, who set a track record in qualifying Friday, had the dominant truck for most of the day, leading 154 laps at the .526-mile track before losing the lead to Sauter.
“I really wanted to win and had them covered for half of the race,” said Burton. “I was really good at the beginning and we adjusted to the track at half way and we still had them covered. I just used up too much of the truck late. But we’ve got nothing to hang our head about. We had a good truck all day.”
The day finished much better than it began for Crafton. He started eighth, fell back through the field and was involved in a little beating and banging two or three times.
“I thought we were going to go down a lap on the first run. They dropped the green and I was good for about five laps and then I was about done,” said Crafton. “But this bunch of mine never gave up. They kept making adjustments. I can’t thank those guys behind the wall enough … they were using their heads and making methodical changes to the truck.”
Action returns to Martinsville Speedway Sunday with the running of the STP® Gas Booster™ 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup race.
Excellent seats remain for Sunday’s STP® Gas Booster™ 500 at Martinsville Speedway and may be purchased by calling 877.RACE.TIX or online at www.martinsvillespeedway.com. Martinsville Speedway’s ticket office will open at 7 a.m. on Sunday.
Martinsville Speedway PR
Get set for 45 days of heart-pounding philanthropic fun at participating Krispy Kreme US locations. Krispy Kreme has teamed up with former NASCAR driver Kyle Petty and the Victory Junction Camp for the fifth annual Krispy Kreme Drive for 45 Campaign. For 45 consecutive days, April 5 through May 19, Krispy Kreme fans can help provide a chronically ill child a life-changing, week-long summer camping experience by making a donation at checkout, or onlineat KrispyKreme.com.
Founded and operated by Kyle and Pattie Petty in Randleman, North Carolina, the Victory Junction Camp is a non-profit organization that enriches the lives of children with chronic medical conditions or serious illnesses by providing fun, unique and life-changing camping experiences in a safe and medically-sound environment. The number 45 is a tribute to their son Adam Petty, former NASCAR #45 car driver who lost his life during a tragic racing accident in 2000.
Here are a few easy ways to make a donation to the Krispy Kreme Drive for 45 Campaign, April 5 through May 19, at a participating Krispy Kreme location near you.
- At Checkout – Make a $1, $2, $5 or $45 donation at checkout. A paper Drive for 45 certificate will be displayed in-store, throughout the campaign, in recognition of your support.
- "Round Up" – Tell the cashier to 'Round Up' your purchase amount to the nearest dollar. The difference is your donation.
- Tire Banks – Make a pit stop and drop your donation inside a Drive for 45 Tire Bank at your nearest participating Krispy Kreme.
Learn more about Victory Junction, or make an online donation to the Krispy Kreme Drive for 45 Campaign at KrispyKreme.com/Drivefor45.
Connect with Krispy Kreme at KrispyKreme.com, Facebook.com/KrispyKreme, or Twitter @KrispyKreme.
Krispy Kreme PR
On a day when six drivers broke the track record, Jimmie Johnson was the fastest of the fast, winning the pole position for Sunday’s STP®Gas Booster™ 500 at Martinsville Speedway.
Johnson’s lap of 19.244 seconds (98.400 mph) in a Chevrolet around the .526-mile oval topped the record of 19.306 seconds (98.083 mph), set by Tony Stewart in 2005.
It was the third Martinsville Speedway pole for the seven-time NASCAR Sprint Cup champion and 30th career pole.
“That (the record) is icing on the cake. Track records are hard to come by,” said Johnson. “I knew right away (in practice) that we would have a shot at the pole; that I would have to do my part on the track.”
Marcos Ambrose nailed down the second starting spot in a Ford with a time of 19.251 seconds (98.364 mph) while Brian Vickers qualified third in a Toyota at 19.266 seconds (98.287 mph). Other drivers bettering the track record included Joey Logano, fourth, Kasey Kahne, fifth, and Jeff Gordon, sixth.
“It just feels great to get a front row spot,” Ambrose said of his second career top-10 start at Martinsville. “We’re less than a hundredth away from the top spot and felt like a woulda, shoulda, coulda out there. It was just a little extra time to get the pole, but we’ll take it.”
“It was good. Going into it (qualifying) I thought we were a change or two away from a shot at the pole, then after the run I thought we were still a change away from the pole,” said Vickers. “I thought it would be a fifth or seventh place. We showed up with a good car and adjusted and worked all day.”
Rounding out the top 10 starters for Sunday’s race are Brad Keselowski, seventh, Matt Kenseth, eighth, Carl Edwards, ninth and defending race winner Ryan Newman, 10th.
There is a full day of action at Martinsville Speedway Saturday with the Kroger 250 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at 1:30 p.m. There will be two NASCAR Sprint Cup Series practices Saturday, the first at 10:30 a.m. and the final practice scheduled for 11:45 a.m.
Tickets for Saturday’s Kroger 250 are $35 and may be purchased at the track Saturday.
Tickets for the STP® Gas Booster™ 500 and the Kroger 250 may be purchased by calling 877.RACE.TIX or by visiting www.martinsvillespeedway.com online.
Fan gates open at 9 a.m. Saturday and Sunday.
Martinsville Speedway PR
As one of the most active, innovative users of social media in all of sports, defending NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Brad Keselowski launched today an interactive fan contest called "The Crew Challenge." The contest, which is housed on the recently redesigned BradRacing.com website, is an interactive multimedia platform that gives fans the chance to tell Keselowski's story and their experiences with the sport from any perspective or location, and in the process, earn valuable prizes. The Penske Racing driver and Brad Keselowski Racing (BKR) team owner has designed the contest to provide fans with a new way to engage with him and each other throughout the 2013 NASCAR season.
Participants of "The Crew Challenge" can submit their thoughts, their pictures, and their videos about the races and Keselowski. Those submissions that strive to capture a unique perspective, make a statement, and show passion in telling the race story in a dynamic way will be rewarded. Submissions can include:
- Videos and photos taken at the actual race
- Relevant videos and photos taken anywhere else
- Stories and essays
- Race analysis and commentary
- Video game recreations and tributes
Fans earn points for each piece of content that is accepted by the BradRacing.com website editors. Points can also be earned when people like or share other fans' content. All of the accumulated points can then be used to purchase unique prizes such as Brad Keselowski autographed items, Penske Racing apparel, BKR race-used items, and products and merchandise from Penske Racing and BKR sponsors. New and different prizes will also be added throughout the season.
In addition, each fan's running point total will put him or her in a race against all other participants for even bigger prizes that will be awarded at the end of the NASCAR season. The fan who accumulates the most points by Sunday, November 24, 2013 will earn a trip for two (2) to the 2014 Daytona 500 as Keselowski's personal guests. Further, each of the 20 fans with the most points from the season will be rewarded with a special Brad Keselowski prize pack.
"As an avid social media user, I've seen first hand the passion and enthusiasm that fans have for our sport," said Keselowski. "'The Crew Challenge' takes this to a new level with the platform that we have developed for fans to share their stories."
Johnny Sauter's started from the pole for the Kroger 250 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Martinsville Speedway, but as good as his No. 98 Carolina Nut Co. / Curb Records Toyota practiced Friday, capped off by a fourth-place qualifying effort, Sauter's looking to repeat his winning performance from April 2011.
"It was good," Sauter said on pit road after doing a SPEED Channel interview for Friday night's SPEED News(9:30 p.m. ET). "Obviously you want more, but the truck was real stable and comfortable -- we just needed a little more speed, and I probably could've got that, but I just didn't.
"I probably could've made more time up, getting into the corner. But it rolled a pretty corner and we definitely can see (the leaders) from there."
Sauter will line up behind a pair of rookies on the front row, first-time pole-winner Jeb Burton and Darrell Wallace Jr., and perennial Truck Series title contender Timothy Peters. Sauter's fourth-place lap was only a tenth of a second off Burton's 19.589-second lap, an average speed of 96.6 mph.
"All in all I think we've got something that will race well, "Sauter said. "And qualifying fourth gives you a little bit of extra desire to want to get up there and lead the race."
Sauter's ThorSport Racing teammate Matt Crafton will line up seventh in his No. 88 Rip It Energy Fuel / Menards Toyota, but he feels like his truck is better than the one he led 33 laps with last fall in the Kroger 200, when Denny Hamlin biffed Crafton out of the way and stole the victory.
"I honestly didn't expect to have a pole run, because we didn't have a lot of one-lap speed (in practice)," Crafton said Friday. "But I blame some of qualifying seventh on me, because the first lap was really good so I tried a little bit too hard on the second lap, maybe tried to get a little bit too much...
"Like I said, I don't think it was gonna be a pole run, but what I can say is that I think we've got a really good truck in race trim, so that's gonna pay a lot more than just a pole."
Sauter was atop the speed chart for a good portion of the lone morning practice, ultimately ending up in second position, saying his truck "rotated in the center of the corner better than anything we've ever had here."
At one point, Sauter and Crafton were one-two on the speed chart before Crafton ended up ninth when the flurry of late practice qualifying runs were completed. But like Sauter had said, Crafton noted his truck was one of the best he'd ever had here, in his 23rd career Martinsville start -- which will also tie him with former ThorSport driver Terry Cook for the all-time Truck Series consecutive starts streak, with 296.
"It's definitely one of the better ones we've had," Crafton confirmed after qualifying. "Last fall we were really good and we've had some really good trucks here in the past but I hope we're ahead of the game with all the testing we did over at Sandusky (Speedway, in Ohio last week), so we'll be just fine, I think."
Todd Bodine's third ThorSport Truck, the No. 13 SealMaster Toyota, will line up 23rd, but Bodine and crew chief Jeriod Prince improved their truck radically between practice and qualifying and Prince said they had more of the same up their sleeves for pre-race.
"In qualifying the truck was a little throttle-tight, up off the corner, and we fought that throughout practice," Prince said. "But he said the truck was way better in qualifying than in practice and we feel like we can fix that for the race. We made some big changes for qualifying -- we figured we'd try some stuff -- and since it worked we'll go more for the race, because he liked it (in qualifying)."
Bodine's drawing positives from the fact that four of his eight career Martinsville top-10 finishes have come from starting positions beyond 20th -- including a third-place run in 2010 from 24th on the grid.
"It was a tough day but it's not where you start, it's where you finish," Bodine said. "I have two great teammates. We all work together and we will be good (in the race)."
Wrigley’s new Alert Energy Caffeine Gum will make its NASCAR Sprint Cup Series debut with Joe Gibbs Racing and driver Elliott Sadler on April 21 at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City, Kan. Sadler will pilot the No. 81 Alert Energy Camry there and at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway (May 5 and Oct. 20) for a total of three races during the 2013 race season.
The No. 81 Alert Energy Camry joins an all-star lineup of Mars, Inc. and Wrigley sponsors at Joe Gibbs Racing including Doublemint® gum, M&M’S® and SNICKERS® throughout the 2013 season.
“Wrigley and Mars are proud to continue our partnership with Joe Gibbs Racing and look forward to working with veteran driver Elliott Sadler,” said Tim Conlin, a senior brand manager at the Wrigley Co., a subsidiary of Mars, Inc. “And we’re especially excited to give NASCAR fans the chance to be among some of the first people to see and try Alert Energy.”
“I’m really looking forward to representing Alert Energy in the Sprint Cup Series,” said Elliott Sadler, driver of the No. 81 Camry. “I’ve been lucky to have a long history with Mars, Inc. and am very excited about working with them again in launching this new product. After trying it, I’m a big fan of Alert Energy gum. With my busy schedule, it helps keep me going from one thing to the next – so it’s a perfect match.”
Alert Energy is a new energy product available for adults 25-49 that lets people control the amount of caffeine they want on-the-go. Alert will be available nationwide starting in April.
Fans Invited to Watch NASCAR Driver Kurt Busch Take Over the Airways of ROCK 96.5 This Monday in Richmond
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Kurt Busch is coming to the Richmond area, and fans are invited to participate in a public Q&A event and limited autograph session this Monday, April 8 at the Mechanicsville TGI Friday’s. Following the Q&A and autograph session, Busch, who is the defending NASCAR Nationwide Series spring race winner at Richmond International Raceway, will take over the controls of the Rock 96.5 live broadcast at the Mechanicsville TGI Friday’s, located at 8100 Creighton Parkway, Mechanicsville, VA 23111.
Starting at 4:00 p.m., the first 96 people who register at Richmond International Raceway’s display at the restaurant will receive a wristband, guaranteeing them a Kurt Busch autograph, and will also be entered to win a VIP package for the NASCAR weekend at Richmond International Raceway. The package will include a pair of tickets for Thursday night’s BLUE OX 100 NASCAR K&N Pro Series East race and Denny Hamlin Short Track Showdown presented by FedEx, Friday night’s ToyotaCare 250 NASCAR Nationwide Series race and Saturday night’s Toyota Owners 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race, as well as a pair of pre-race pit passes for the Saturday, April 27, Toyota Owners 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race. Rock 96.5 will also throw in some awesome rock gear for the VIP package winner and Monster Energy Drinks will be on-site with giveaways.
Fans are encouraged to visit TGI Friday’s this Monday to participate in the Q&A session, which is scheduled to begin at 6:00 p.m. At 7:00 p.m., fans can catch Busch on Rock 96.5 with host Mason, as they broadcast the show live from TGI Friday’s, playing some of Busch’s favorite hits.
The Lady in Black, as Darlington Raceway has been notably named for decades, will have a new face in 2013 as Paige Duke will serve as the track’s official “The Lady in Black” for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Bojangles’ Southern 500 race weekend on May 10-11.
Duke, a former Miss Sprint Cup and current model, will be present during the race weekend and other track events throughout the year proudly wearing a black fire suit and representing Darlington Raceway. Her local ties are in the state of South Carolina as she hails from nearby Lancaster, S.C. and is a graduate of Clemson University.
“I am honored to be “The Lady in Black” for Darlington Raceway. This is one of the most exciting opportunities I have ever had and definitely is the closest to my heart. I love Darlington Raceway,” Duke said. “I grew up going to races there with my Dad and we always pass the track on the way to the beach. There is just something special about this track. It just reminds me of the good ole’ days…real, exciting racing!
“There is so much history there and such a connection with many South Carolinians from Hall of fame drivers, to a Miss Sprint Cup, to the fans! My distant cousin is Harold Brasington, who built the track. It will always be the original crown jewel of racing!”
Besides her role serving as Miss Sprint Cup in 2010-11, Duke is the national spokesperson for Kruger Farms, an online outdoor outfitter in Minnesota, and was cast in the CMT hit show Sweet Home Alabama for two seasons in 2011 and 2012. She is also a model for various national campaigns and works as a veterinary technician in Lancaster.
The “Lady in Black” slogan was first used in the mid-1960’s when reporters covering the race from the press box referred to it as such, stemming from the black asphalt, which was considered “the dress” of a track known for being treacherously difficult to drive.
The fierce competition and the toughness that the track brings to the sport has made the Lady in Black what it is today, the track Too Tough to Tame.
“Paige Duke is the perfect fit to serve as our Lady in Black,” Darlington Raceway President Chris Browning said. “She is a local South Carolinian who is bringing the Lady in Black to life. Darlington Raceway is special in the sport of NASCAR racing and she is the best person to fulfill this unique role for us.”
Darlington Raceway PR
Officials with Kansas Speedway and Hy-Vee, Inc. today announced a partnership agreement that makes Hy-Vee the Official Grocer and Tailgate Pit Stop of the Kansas Speedway.
“I’m excited to announce this partnership with Hy-Vee, especially as our race fans start getting ready for the first races of the year at Kansas Speedway,” said Kansas Speedway President Patrick Warren.
Hy-Vee operates 26 full-service supermarkets throughout Kansas and the Kansas City metro area. Randy Edeker, Chairman, President and CEO of Hy-Vee, said the company has planned special events throughout the year to promote the Speedway and enhance the fan experience.
“We want racing fans to think of Hy-Vee as their one-shop pit stop,” Edeker said. “Our stores will be hosting ticket giveaways and other activities as well as offering great deals on food and beverages for tailgating.”
Kansas Speedway PR