Speedway Digest Staff
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Michael Waltrip Racing’s No. 15 Toyota will carry a special message of responsibility in Saturday night’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Texas Motor Speedway. Driver Clint Bowyer will drive the Gander Mountain “With Rights Comes Responsibility; Secure Your Firearms” Toyota.
As part of its “With Rights Comes Responsibility; Secure Your Firearms” initiative, Gander Mountain launched www.ResponsibilityPledge.com, where firearms owners and those thinking of becoming an owner can take a pledge of personal responsibility.
Bowyer visits Texas a week after finishing second at Martinsville Speedway. Bowyer ranks eighth in Sprint Cup Series points with 179. He has two top-fives in his last three starts and three top-10s on the season. Last year, Bowyer ranked ninth with one top-five and three top-10s as he headed to Texas.
ON RACING AT TEXAS: “I love Texas. The racing is always good and the track does such a great job of putting on a show both on and off the racetrack for the fans. This is one of the marque events on the schedule and taking home a trophy from Texas is a big deal. I’ve come close, but close doesn’t count. I want to win.”
On GANDER MOUNTAIN’S MESSAGE: “I’m really proud to have Gander Mountain on the racecar for the Texas race, but more importantly I think we carry such a great message ‘With Rights Comes Responsibility; Secure Your Firearms.’ It’s so important to keep that responsibility and to keep firearms out of the hands of the underage, untrained and unauthorized. Gander Mountain has always done such a great job of promoting safety and responsibility. Truthfully that’s why I am so excited to have them on board.”
Of all the tracks Danica Patrick has competed at, she is most associated with the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway.
In seven Indianapolis 500 starts, Patrick finished in the top-10 six times, including a third-place result in 2009, the best finish ever for a woman in the historic race. At Daytona, Patrick won the pole for the February 2012 NASCAR Nationwide Series race and then, one year later, became the first woman ever to win a Sprint Cup pole by taking the top spot for the 55th Daytona 500. She went on to finish eighth in the Daytona 500, the best result ever for a woman in the history of the race.
But while Indianapolis and Daytona have provided plenty of good memories for Patrick, it’s Texas Motor Speedway that has provided the most experience.
Of all the tracks where Patrick will compete in 2013, she has the most starts at Texas, having driven in 13 major-league races – one Sprint Cup, four Nationwide Series, and eight in the IZOD IndyCar Series. And it’s a track she’s taken a liking to in all three divisions.
In last November’s Sprint Cup race at Texas, Patrick started 32nd and finished 24th. It was, at the time, her best career Sprint Cup finish, and it came in her first race with Tony Gibson as her crew chief. In her four Nationwide Series races, Patrick has three top-15 finishes, including an eighth place result in April 2012. In Patrick’s eight IndyCar Series starts at the 1.5-mile oval, she has five top-10 finishes, including a third-place result in June 2007 and second-place finish in June 2010.
Patrick, driver of the No. 10 GoDaddy.com Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), enters Texas with a good deal of confidence after a solid run in her first race of any kind Sunday at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway. After starting last due to an engine change, then spinning early and going two laps down, Patrick rallied for an incredible 12th-place finish at the .526-mile oval.
Patrick’s top-12 at Martinsville was impressive when considering where other drivers finished in their first races at the .526-mile paperclip – most notably her team owner Tony Stewart, who finished 20th in his first Martinsville start in 1999. Five-time Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson finished 35th in his Martinsville debut in 2002. NASCAR Hall of Famer Rusty Wallace finished 15th and Dale Jarrett finished 14th, both in 1984. Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished 26th in 2000. Kyle Busch finished 39th in 2005. Matt Kenseth finished 21st and Kurt Busch finished 37th, also in 2000. Fred Lorenzen finished 24th 1956.
Blake Koch and SR2 Motorsports are proud to announce a new partnership with Compassion International, a Christian child sponsorship organization dedicated to the long-term development of children living in poverty around the world. Thanks to the generous contribution of an anonymous donor, Compassion will be the primary sponsor of Koch's No. 24 Toyota Camry in Friday's O'Reilly Auto Parts 300 at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, TX.
Compassion has launched the website, www.CompassionRacing.com, where its partnership with Koch will be highlighted, to raise awareness for this important cause. Compassion and Koch are confident that the NASCAR community will rally to provide sponsorships for at least 2,400 children who live in extreme poverty around the world as they launch the partnership in Texas. The primary sponsorship was funded by a Blake Koch supporter/donor and SR2 Motorsports.
"When I look into the eyes of my eight-month old son, I am overcome with grief that there are children just like him who are living day to day without even the most basic of human needs," said Koch. "I simply cannot imagine not being able to provide food, clothing or a home for my little boy, or him growing up with the types of challenges and hopelessness that exists in the lives of kids living in poverty."
He continued, "All of us wish we could do something to help provide a hungry child regular meals; provide a sick child with proper medical treatment; provide a hopeless child a bright future through education and spiritual development. Well, now we can. Through my partnership with Compassion International, each of us can begin to make a difference by sponsoring a child to offer hope and help them achieve their full potential. I am honored to be a part of Compassion Racing, and encourage all of my fans, and all fans of NASCAR to visit www.compassionracing.comand sponsor at least one child."
Child sponsorships through www.compassionracing.comis only $38 per month. The sponsorship provides nutrition, healthcare and training, educational opportunities and assistance, social development, important life-skills training, as well as regular Christian training.
"Everyone at both Compassion Racing and SR2 Motorsports is very excited about this new partnership," said Josh Grodin, who was hired by Koch to lead the Compassion Racing campaign. "And while we are all honored that Compassion will be the main sponsor of Blake's car this Friday night, the true mission of this partnership is to help bring a little hope to a child in need. I am confident that the good and generous folks who are proud to be NASCAR fans will band together to help sponsor at least 2,400 kids leading up to this week's race."
Compassion International was founded by the Rev. Everett Swanson in 1952. Today, the organization helps more than 1.4 million children in 26 developing countries. The partnership with Koch's racing team will mark its first NASCAR endeavor.
SR2 Motorsports PR
The list of appearances for the famous Talladega Experience continues to grow, and this week’s additions continue to be the biggest – and most respected – names in NASCAR.
2000 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champion Bobby Labonte, who will be making history with his 700th career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series start, along with Jeff Burton, known as the “Mayor of the NASCAR Garage,” are scheduled to appear in the Talladega Experience on Sunday, May 5, the morning of the Aaron’s 499. They will join an already star-studded lineup which consists of Brad Keselowski and Dale Earnhardt Jr.
The Talladega Experience offers fan hospitality unrivaled by any other sporting event. In addition to driver appearances, guests of the Talladega Experience are treated to unlimited catering and beverages, up-close and personal access to driver question and answer sessions, pre-race pit road tours, track access during driver introductions, VIP parking, event souvenirs, and more.
“Jeff Burton and Bobby Labonte are both thoroughly loved in the sport of NASCAR for their success throughout the years as well as their dedication to their fans,” said Talladega Superspeedway Chairman Grant Lynch. “They are veterans who know how much the fans mean to our sport, and no one knows any more about the sport than they do. We are thrilled to have them in the Talladega Experience. It will be a treat for our fans.”
Labonte, who pilots the No. 47 Toyota, has won in every kind of car he has driven at Talladega. He was victorious in the Sprint Cup Series when he won the Aaron’s spring event in 1998, and then captured two IROC races in 2000 and 2001. His last win came in the 2007 NASCAR Nationwide race.
Burton, driver of the No. 31 Caterpillar Chevrolet, has been close to victory at Talladega on many occasions but has never made it to victory lane. He has five top-five finishes in the Cup Series, including a runner up finish in 2011 when he came up inches short to Clint Bowyer.
The Talladega Experience is designed for the FAN, with the ultimate goal of providing each guest with a world-class experience and memories to last a lifetime. The package, which must be accompanied by a Frontstretch Grandstand or Tower ticket, is $145 and can be purchased by calling 877-Go2-DEGA or visiting www.talladegasuperspeedway.com.
Ryan Blaney (@RyanBlaney22), driver of the No. 29 Cooper Standard Ford F-Series, will make his 12th career start in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) at Rockingham Speedway on Sunday afternoon.
This Sunday will mark Blaney's first career NCWTS start at Rockingham Speedway.
The Cooper Standard team tested at Rockingham Speedway with Blaney in March to prepare for the event.
Doug Randolph will call the shots for Blaney on top of the pit box.
After 2 of 22 NCWTS races, Blaney is 11th in NCWTS Driver Standings, 30 points behind the leading No. 98 entry.
Joey Logano (@JoeyLogano), driver of the No. 19 Reese Towpower Carbon Forged Ford F-Series, will make his inaugural start for Brad Keselowski Racing (@TeamBKR) in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) during the North Carolina Lottery 200 at Rockingham Speedway on Sunday, April 14th. Logano is slated to compete in additional races for BKR throughout the 2013 season.
The Penske Racing driver will pilot the No. 19 BKR Ford F-Series in only his second career NCWTS start. Logano's only other NCWTS start came in 2008 at Talladega, where he started 6th and finished 26th after being involved in a multi-truck wreck.
Sunday will be Logano's second career start at Rockingham Speedway. In 2008, Logano ran his first race at Rockingham in the ARCA Series, starting first and winning -- leading 257 of 312 laps.
The No. 19 Brad Keselowski Racing entry currently sits 16th in NCWTS Owner's points, 40 points behind the leader.
"I'm really looking forward to running Rockingham this weekend in the Reese Towpower Carbon Forged Ford F-Series. I've always wanted to run more NASCAR Camping World Truck races, and to be able to get back in a Truck at a place like Rockingham is awesome. I watched that race last year on TV and I was so jealous of the guys that were out there racing. Rockingham is one of the coolest tracks around. I've run a lot of testing laps around there in Cup cars and Nationwide cars, so I feel like I know what it takes. It should be a blast to get out there and race with the Truck Series regulars. No question, we're aiming to wheel the BKR Ford to victory lane." - Joey Logano
The next generation of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series will be on full display during the NRA 500 as the new Gen-6 stock car makes its Texas debut.
If the first six races of the season are an indication of what will transpire during the NRA 500, NASCAR's first Saturday night primetime race of the year will be filled with side-by-side racing, aggressive driving and late-race drama.
NASCAR's new Gen-6 car, instituted this season to resemble the showroom cars of the three participating manufacturers (Chevrolet SS, Ford Fusion, Toyota Camry), has provided a new direction for the sport. Not only can fans connect to the race cars that compete on the track, but drivers agree the cars' stylish look also brings with it an improved style of racing. And that is something drivers are looking forward to for Saturday's NRA 500 at Texas Motor Speedway.
"I do like the look of the car," Hendrick Motorsports driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. said. "I do feel like it's racier as far as driving it around the track. It feels like you can be more aggressive with it and it gets a hold of the race track a little bit better. The older car, you were always complaining about the car feeling like it's on top of the track and not in the track. A driver likes a car to really get in the track and get a hold of the race track. I anticipate this car to really revolutionize the sport. I'm excited about this direction."
The Gen-6 car has excelled on intermediate ovals similar to Texas Motor Speedway with visits earlier this season to Las Vegas Motor Speedway and Auto Club Speedway. The race at Las Vegas, a sister SMI track identical in size and similar in banking to Texas, featured 22 lead changes among eight drivers. It was the most lead changes at the speedway since 2007, the year before the then "Car of Tomorrow" was introduced.
At Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif., the race featured 17 lead changes among eight drivers and included some dramatic door-to-door racing in the waning laps that resulted in fireworks. The rift brewing between Joey Logano and Denny Hamlin intensified as they battled for the win before the contact between the two wrecked both cars. Hamlin took the brunt of the accident as he sustained a back injury and could miss approximately six weeks. Three-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Tony Stewart also took Logano to task about his block on a restart that ignited a post-race melee on pit road.
"I hope it races something like (Fontana) California did as far as the racing was great at times out there," said Hendrick Motorsports driver Kasey Kahne, who won this race in 2006. "I really enjoyed moving around the race track. That place was a blast for us. Vegas, I could pretty go anywhere I wanted. Pass at any time depending on who I caught. I've really enjoyed it. I've had a lot of fun driving them this year. If we can get something in Texas close to Fontana or Vegas, somewhere in the middle of that, it will be a good show."
After an impressive ninth-place finish in his NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) debut for Kyle Busch Motorsports (KBM) last weekend at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway, Erik Jones is taking this week to absorb everything he learned about his No. 51 Toyota Tundra in that event before making his way to the historic one-mile oval at Rockingham (N.C) Speedway for Sunday's N.C. Education Lottery 200.
Similar to his inaugural visit to Martinsville last weekend, the 16-year-old Michigan native will enter his second of five Truck Series events with only a virtual experience of the aged surface. Growing up watching old cup races on ESPN Classic and utilizing the simulation game, iRacing, Jones is hoping he can adapt quickly to the tricky characteristics that make Rockingham one of the most challenging tracks on the schedule.
"I have never been to Rockingham before, but every race track is different," said Jones, who is accustomed to tackling new tracks from competing in several different series over his young career. "I am hoping to make a drive over there this week to check out the track, and just get a real-life visual of what the track looks like. I try to make each one its own place, and not compare one to another too much. I really enjoy the tracks with a lot of character -- you have to manage your tires, and take care of your equipment."
Jones ran his first mile-length track at the age of 14 and last year raced in the ARCA Racing Series at Iowa Speedway, which although it measures just under a mile in length produces speeds comparable to most mile tracks. There he qualified sixth and maintained a top-five position for the majority of the event until a racing incident with less than 20 laps to go forced him to settle for an 11th-place finish. Although the racing incident relegated him to a finish farther back in the field, Jones learned many valuable skills from Iowa that he hopes to apply at Rockingham this weekend.
"Iowa and Milwaukee are both bigger racetracks that I've been to in a late model and ARCA car, so I may be able to translate a few things about the way you can use the air around you," Jones remarked. "This will be the first time I get to race on a bigger racetrack with a truck though, so it's going to be a big learning experience. The way the trucks hit the air is much different than a stock car, so I'll have to get a feel for that."
Jones' plan for practice on Saturday is to get more comfortable with the feel of his No. 51 Tundra on the larger Rockingham Speedway. Similar to Martinsville, where he logged more laps in practice than any other driver, the racing prodigy plans to log as many laps as possible during Saturday's two practice sessions in an effort to get a feel for how to use the air around the one-mile raceway to his advantage, at the same time learning how to manage his tires.
When the green flag waves on Sunday, his goal will be to produce another "rock" solid finish.
At 19, Darrell Wallace, Jr will be one of the youngest drivers attempting to make the field in this year's NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) North Carolina Education Lottery 200 at The Rock presented by Cheerwine at Rockingham Speedway this weekend.
But don't be fooled by his youth, Wallace will be one of the most experienced drivers in the field when the green flag drops on Sunday. In addition to his K&N Pro Series East start last November, in which he finished third, Wallace has three starts in the UARA-STARS Late Model Series at Rockingham.
In addition to Sunday's NCWTS's race, Wallace is entered in Saturday's 75-lap UARA event.
Wallace feels that the things that he learned in his previous starts at the track are going to help him in the trucks on Sunday."I believe it is all going to carry over," Wallace said. "Coming here, I have figured out what line (is fastest) and how much to save tires, which is so important at Rockingham.
"Fortunately, I will be running the late model race on Saturday to get re-acclimated to the track."
Last week, Wallace proved himself to be adept at rough, old racetracks. He led 34 laps en route to a fifth place finish at Martinsville Speedway. Wallace is currently fifth in the NCWTS standings.
The NCWTS will be making its second-annual trip to Rockingham Speedway for the North Carolina Education Lottery 200 at The Rock presented by Cheerwine. In last year's inaugural event, Sprint Cup veteran Kasey Kahne took the checkered flag despite starting at the rear of the field.
The UARA-STARS Late Model Series and the Frank Kimmel Street Stock Nationals (FKSSN) will join the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series for the North Carolina Education Lottery 200 at The Rock presented by Cheerwine weekend. The UARA and FKSSN will be competing on Saturday, April 13, with qualifying on Friday, April 12.
The NCWTS will practice on Saturday with qualifying and racing on Sunday, April 14.
Rockingham Speedway PR
The NASCAR Nationwide Series (NNS) is coming off of a two-week hiatus going into the O'Reilly Auto Parts 300 at Texas Motor Speedway (TMS). It will be the first night race of the season for the series and the second one-and-a-half mile track to appear on the schedule.
Reed Sorenson and the No. 43 Pilot Ford team have regrouped and are ready to wrangle the "asphalt circus" during the 300-mile race at the Fort Worth, Texas track. Sorenson made his first start of the season with Richard Petty Motorsports in the NNS at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, another one-and-a-half mile oval track, earlier this year. With limited practice time due to weather, he posted a top-20 finish.
A 10-year NNS veteran, Sorenson has nine starts at TMS. His best start is second (2006) and his best finish is third (2010 and 2005). Sorenson has an average finish of 13.8 and compiled five top-10s at the mile-and-a-half track in the NNS.
Comments from the No. 43 Pilot Ford Mustang driver Reed Sorenson:
"Texas is probably one of my favorite mile-and-a-half tracks. The track itself has a lot of character. The asphalt is pretty aged, so there isn't a lot of grip but you can still be fast on new tires. Usually, when the new tires start to fall off is when you'll see the best racing. The fact that it's a night race will make it even better, and we'll be able to run multiple grooves. It's going to be a fun race."
Comments from Crew Chief Philippe Lopez on Texas:
"I'm really looking forward to Texas. It's my home state and it's always a fun place to race. The pavement is old, which gives the drivers a lot of different ways around the corners. It reminds me of Atlanta because there are so many different grooves, it's good racing for the drivers and the fans.
"We kind of lump all of the bigger tracks into one group, and we were really happy with our mile-and-a-half program last year. We've been able to pinpoint a few problems that we've been having this year and are really looking forward to picking up strong in Texas."