Speedway Digest Staff
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The NASCAR Foundation and many throughout the NASCAR industry will come together on Friday, May 17 at Charlotte Motor Speedway to celebrate the 10th Annual NASCAR Day. This special day is an unprecedented celebration of drivers, corporate partners, media and the sport’s millions of fans uniting with The NASCAR Foundation to support a range of charitable causes relevant and meaningful to those within the NASCAR family.
Over the past 10 years, the annual celebration has grown substantially in its outreach efforts and impact on communities throughout the country. NASCAR Day, first held in August 2004, initially consisted of supporters making financial donations and showing support by wearing a NASCAR Day pin at their place of business.
Today, it involves so much more.
For the first time, The NASCAR Foundation will be launching a “Ten Days of Giving” tour that will include philanthropic activities in several markets across the country. At each stop on the tour, beginning May 8 in Atlanta, Ga., and culminating on NASCAR Day in Charlotte, N.C., the foundation will partner with various organizations to deliver surprise acts of kindness. In addition to Atlanta and Charlotte, the tour will make stops in Winston-Salem, N.C.; Brooklyn, Mich.; Darlington, S.C.; Kansas City, Kan.; New York, N.Y.; and Daytona Beach, Fla.
“This exciting Ten Days of Giving tour reflects an overall expansion of the NASCAR Day initiative, which is perfectly aligned with our original ambition for The NASCAR Foundation,” said Betty Jane France, chairwoman of The NASCAR Foundation. “Through the years, the growth of NASCAR Day has paralleled the growth of the foundation. That has increasingly enabled us to do more to help communities throughout the U.S.”
Camping World, the Official Outdoor and RV Retailer of NASCAR, has joined the cause this year and will make the limited edition pin, designed by NASCAR’s first officially licensed artist Sam Bass, available now until May 17 at Camping World SuperCenters nationwide for a $10 donation to The NASCAR Foundation. Go online to CampingWorld.com/stores to find a location near you. NASCAR fans and supporters can also pick up their collectible pins at track during select race weekends or online at NASCAR.com/foundation. NASCAR Camping World Truck Series driver Darrell Wallace Jr. is among the drivers helping to promote NASCAR Day activities.
“I’m pumped to join Camping World and NASCAR to help promote this year’s NASCAR Day program,” said Wallace. “The NASCAR Foundation supports many great causes and has proven its ability to make a difference every year. I encourage fans to stop by Camping World to get their NASCAR Day pins and join me in supporting the NASCAR Foundation by wearing their pins on May 17.”
To date, NASCAR Day fundraising efforts has raised nearly $12 million for various charities supported by The NASCAR Foundation with an emphasis on children’s causes.
NASCAR Day at-track activations will include commemorative B-post decals on all trucks running in that day’s NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race and on all cars participating in the next day’s NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race, a special pre-race check presentation and many others.
Fans and supporters are encouraged to join the conversation on Facebook atfacebook.com/NASCARFoundation and Twitter using hashtag #NASCARDay and share in the celebration of the sport’s long history of philanthropy.
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Kyle Busch is coming to the Washington, DC area, and fans are invited to participate in a public Q&A event, followed by a limited autograph session on Wednesday, April 10. Busch, who has won the last four Spring NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Richmond International Raceway, will be at Buffalo Wild Wings, located at 33-C Maryland Ave., Rockville, MD 20850.
Fans are encouraged to visit Buffalo Wild Wings to participate in the Q&A session, scheduled to begin at 1:00 p.m. The first 100 people who register at Richmond International Raceway’s display at the restaurant will receive a wristband, guaranteeing them a Kyle Busch autograph, and will also be entered to win a pair of tickets to the Saturday, April 27,Toyota Owners 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race.
Busch has been a force at RIR, winning the past four Spring NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at America’s Premier Short Track. He’ll be looking to defend his title against the likes of Dale Earnhardt Jr., Tony Stewart, Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson and all your favorite drivers.
There's no question Todd Bodine knows how to race well at Martinsville Speedway. But if you're a Bodine racing in Martinsville, Va., running well isn't good enough -- you're expected to win.
That's because Todd's older brothers, Geoff and Brett, have an unprecedented winning legacy at Martinsville. Geoff is the only driver in the track's history to have won in modified, sportsman (current Nationwide Series) and Cup Series cars -- including what's now Hendrick Motorsports' first Cup Series win.
Geoff was part of the greatest finish in the track's -- and some say in all of motorsports' history -- with the late, great Richie Evans in 1981. For his part, Brett has two Modified Tour wins and two victories in the Busch Series at Martinsville's .526-mile oval.
Being winless at the paperclip-shaped oval is a heavy burden for Todd Bodine to carry to Virginia this weekend as he'll line his No. 13 SealMaster Toyota up for his 18th NASCAR Camping World Truck Series start there when the Kroger 250 goes green on Saturday.
Todd has seven Truck Series top-10 finishes that include five top fives -- with two seconds among them -- but he knows that's not good enough.
"I need to get (winning) done because I'm not going to have a whole lot of shots left at Martinsville," Bodine, a two-time Truck Series champion who has 22 series wins, said. "It would mean a lot to get that win (at Martinsville) and the pressure is getting high, so I've gotta get it done."
Todd Bodine, who was the key figure in ThorSport Racing teammate Johnny Sauter winning the season-opener at Daytona six weeks ago in his No. 98 Carolina Nut Co. / Curb Records Toyota, is going to be counting on Sauter and their teammate Matt Crafton (No. 88 Rip It Energy Fuel / Menards Toyota) for as much help as possible since Bodine didn't test for Martinsville and Sauter and Crafton did.
Bodine does have the benefit of having a race-driving crew chief, Jeriod Prince, who shook down Bodine's truck at the test and was within two-tenths of a second of Sauter on older tires.
"I know with Johnny and Matt's success (at Martinsville)," Bodine said. "And as well as they run, we should unload with a good set-up and be very close and hopefully get another opportunity to run up front."
Bodine has 13 lead-lap finishes in his 17 previous Martinsville Truck Series starts, but strangely enough he hasn't led a lot of laps. In the two races he finished second in, in spring 2007 and fall 2008, he led laps in neither. He's only led laps in three of his Martinsville starts, though two of them were sizable ones: 74 laps led in spring 2005 when he finished fourth and 83 laps in fall 2010 when he finished third.
As frustrating as his 50-50 finishes have been, Bodine is knowledgeable about what he needs. And with the way he and Prince came out of the box at Daytona, where they finished a come-backing 11th after getting shuffled out of the draft on a restart, Bodine's confident they'll figure out how to get there.
"Well, you gotta have everything to succeed at Martinsville," Bodine said. "The truck's gotta stop, it's gotta turn and it's gotta get up off the corner. If you lack in one area, you know you're half a tenth (of a second) off and at Martinsville, if you're half a tenth off you're not going to win.
"You still gotta have a good strategy and be able to pit in the right sequence and do the right things there to get your track position. I think Jeriod's got enough experience -- not only as a crew chief but as a car chief. He's seen enough races that he understands how to get that done. I think he'll do just fine.
"For as little time as we've spent together, I've got a lot of confidence in him. I think he's very smart and very confident at the job."
And that may lead to Prince and Bodine having to make key strategic decisions this weekend in a race that's 50 laps longer than the fall Kroger-sponsored event.
"Obviously you want to be at the front and have the best tires you can have," Bodine said. "That doesn't always work out and that's where being smart... You know, we're going to have to watch the tires in practice and know how much the lap times are going to drop off and figure all that out and do your back-run on the race, from the end of the race and figure out when you want to pit.
"Hopefully you can get the chance in there somewhere, but then when you pit, the odds are that most of the field is going to pit, so you gotta be ready to get a good pit stop and get out (in front)."
If that all works out that might enable Bodine to join his brothers as Martinsville victors -- but the first of the three siblings to win at Martinsville in a truck.
Richmond International Raceway and the Virginia Tourism Corporation teamed up to spread the love today at America’s Premier Short Track. The two organizations unveiled RIR’s LOVEwork. The track was chosen as one of 16 new sites for a LOVEwork, which is a focal point of a social media campaign to share the message that love is at the heart of every Virginia vacation. LOVEwork sculptures are found across the state, featured on www.virginia.org/LOVE as part of the Virginia is for Lovers tourism marketing campaign.
Each letter is made of racing materials, emphasizing that Virginia is for NASCAR lovers:
· "L" – made from Goodyear tires – the same ones seen weekly in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.
· "O" – a custom-made aluminum shell, wrapped in checkered flag 3M Controltac adhesive, with a clear-over laminate, symbolizing the checkered flag that waves at the conclusion of a race.
· "V" – made of G-Max racing helmets.
· "E" – made of sheet metal that was once part of cars racing in NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and NASCAR Nationwide Series races in 2012.
· The base for each letter is made from the metal used to construct the SAFER walls – interior retaining walls at Richmond International Raceway that absorb energy from the impact of cars hitting the wall.
"It’s really a unique piece of art," said RIR President Dennis Bickmeier. "I’m looking forward to all the great race fans who are coming in a couple weeks, as well as all the people who come and visit Richmond International Raceway throughout the year, coming by, taking a picture and sharing their picture with the world."
"RIR came up with a really cool plan for this LOVEwork," said Tamra Talmadge-Anderson, Director of Public Relations, Virginia Tourism Corporation. "It’s all about racing and to promote the love of racing here in Richmond and across Virginia. "It’s just a really great photo op that I know people are going to see it, they’re going to take their picture with it and share it with their social media networks across the world."
RIR staff oversaw the project from start to finish, brainstorming the concept, presenting the proposal and building the actual letters. The team solicited assistance from partners and vendors for the materials. RIR partner Weaver Media, which specializes in creating unique banner, event and experiential marketing opportunities for existing structures, built the O, while Marshall Distributing, Inc., a wholesale helmet distributor, supplied the G-Max helmets. NASCAR Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series teams donated race-used sheet metal for the project, allowing pieces from two Virginia drivers, Elliott Sadler and Jeff Burton to be prominently displayed on the front of the E.
Visitors to Richmond International Raceway will be encouraged to take a picture with the LOVEwork and share on social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Photos taken by people from throughout the world can be seen at www.Facebook.com/VirginiaisforLovers and on Twitter by searching #LOVEVA. The LOVEwork will be located at the corner of Laburnum Avenue and Meadowbridge Road, providing easy access for visitors to snap photographs. RIR’s LOVEwork will be a focal point during its April 25-27 & September 6-7 NASCAR race weekends, as well as the hundreds of events taking place at Richmond Raceway Complex throughout the year.
The 33 directors of the 500 Festival received their Indianapolis 500 Chevrolet Camaros in a ceremony Wednesday at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, a longtime tradition leading into the Month of May and "The Greatest Spectacle in Racing."
The "Festival cars" have reminded Indianapolis-area residents of the upcoming Indianapolis 500 since the 1960s, and this year's unique cars will capture more attention and start more conversation than usual as they are driven around Central Indiana.
Each of the 500 Festival cars this year is a special Camaro Hot Wheels® Edition convertible, which will arrive at Chevrolet dealerships this spring after a limited, one-time production run. It's the first time a full-size, production Hot Wheels car has been offered for sale by any manufacturer.
The Camaro Hot Wheels Edition echoes the cues that Hot Wheels enthusiasts recognize, including a vibrant, graphics-accented metallic paint scheme and even the red-lined wheels. The result is instantly recognizable as a Hot Wheels.
Available in coupe and convertible models and in 2LT (V-6) and 2SS (V-8) trims, the Camaro Hot Wheels Edition cars feature Hot Wheels grille and decklid logos and Hot Wheels Edition sill plates among its exterior and interior styling.
SS models feature a 6.2L V-8, which is offered in two iterations: the "L99" on automatic-equipped vehicles and the "LS3" on manual-equipped models. Horsepower for the L99 is 400 (298 kW) and torque is 410 lb.-ft. (556 Nm) - and it features fuel-saving Active Fuel Management. The LS3 develops 426 horsepower (318 kW) and 420 lb.-ft. (569 Nm) of torque.
LT-based models feature the "LFX" 3.6L V-6 engine, with dual-overhead camshafts, variable valve timing and direct injection. It's rated at 323 horsepower at 6,800 rpm.
A dual-mode exhaust system is available on SS models with the six-speed manual transmission, as well as LT models with either the manual or automatic transmission. Similar to the systems found on the Camaro ZL1, the vacuum-actuated system provides a quieter driving experience at low engine speeds and a more aggressive sound during hard acceleration.
The original Custom Camaro 1:64-scale toy from 1968 was one of the original 16 Hot Wheels issued and remains one of the most valuable Hot Wheels toys among collectors.
A Chevrolet Volt also was presented to Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard during the ceremony.
The 97th Indianapolis 500 is scheduled for Sunday, May 26. Opening Day is Saturday, May 11.
Over a month has passed since the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series raced at the Daytona International Speedway. For veteran David Starr this weekend’s Kroger 250 at Martinsville could not come soon enough to erase the memories of a mechanical failure that dropped the No. 81 Toyota Tundra to a 31st place finish.
“I’m so excited to get back to racing I just can’t stand it,” explained an enthusiastic Starr. “It seems like forever since Daytona, I know it’s only been about 5 or 6 weeks but to be away from the track that long is really hard to do. It’s especially hard when we had mechanical troubles at Daytona and you just want to get back to the track and put that all bad luck behind you.”
Martinsville is a special place for Starr who scored his last victory in the NCWTS at the paperclip-shaped short track back in 2006. Adding to the excitement of the weekend is that David will be re-united with old-friend and longtime crew chief Jason Miller at Martinsville. “I’m excited to work with Jason Miller this weekend. He is a great crew chief; he is knowledgeable on the set-up for our Steely Lumber Toyota. He’s smart and makes great calls on the box. We have had success together in the past and can’t wait to work with him again.”
“I’d also like to thank Bryan Berry for everything he has done for this team, Bryan took a reduced schedule to spend more time with his family and we wish him the best.”
Supporting Starr’s Toyota this weekend will be the Steely Lumber Company of Huntsville, Texas. Family-owned Steely Lumber has been in business since 1896. Specializing in yellow pine decking, Steely Lumber is among the largest and most efficient in the South producing more than 40,000,000 board feet of dimension lumber annually.
“I’m really excited to have Steely Lumber on the hood of our SS Green Light Racing Toyota.” David said. “Steely Lumber is a great company that makes great products and Kelvin Steely and his crew are all huge race fans. I’m looking forward to representing Steely Lumber and having them as our guests at Martinsville.”
The Kroger 250 is the 294th consecutive NCWTS start for the SS Green Light Racing team and the 308th career start for Starr in the Truck Series. David has 4 victories, 47 top-five and 106 top-ten finishes over the previous fifteen Truck Series seasons.
“Martinsville is what it’s all about for the drivers, it takes us back to where we started. It just doesn’t get any better for me than returning to our short track roots. Anything is possible at Martinsville, things happen fast and pit strategy can play a big part in the outcome. The key is to get your truck to rotate good in the center and you get the horsepower to the ground you can run very strong there. I’m glad to be back behind the seat of our Steely Lumber Toyota and ready to give them a strong finish.”
Greg’s Core Supply of Woodlawn, VA will provide associate sponsorship for Starr’s Toyota in the Kroger 250.
There are 40 entries for the Kroger 250 will prelude the NASCAR Sprint Cup STP Gas Booster 500 at Martinsville Speedway. Grant Galloway will pilot the North Central Indiana Teen Challenge No. 07 Toyota on Saturday afternoon.
SS Green Light Racing PR
Johnny Sauter led the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series standings for 10 weeks in 2011 before finishing second to Austin Dillon, so more than anyone at ThorSport Racing Sauter knows the value of momentum.
It's why the Wisconsin native is stoked to arrive at Martinsville Speedway for Saturday's Kroger 250 with the series' points lead -- by six over multiple champion Ron Hornaday Jr. -- six weeks after Sauter won the Daytona season opener in ThorSport's No. 98 Carolina Nut Co. / Curb Records Toyota.
The fact Sauter won this race in 2011, bumping Sprint Cup superstar Kyle Busch out of the way in the process to do it, only emphasizes what NASCAR's smallest track can mean for Sauter's season.
"Martinsville is a place that we've won before and ultimately a place we need to go and capitalize," Sauter said. "We need to put our best effort forth and try to not only win the race but hopefully extend the points lead.
"Like any race, a lot of things have to go right to succeed -- pit strategy and taking care of the truck all day and staying out of trouble -- so Martinsville is a tough one to win at. Like I said, we've done it before and we typically run in the top five every time we're there -- until something happens. I don't see any reason why we can't go there and pick up where we left off in prior races."
Sauter has run well at Martinsville, but with the exception of 2011, when he won in the spring and finished fourth in the 50-laps-shorter Kroger 200, his results haven't been scintillating. But the team had a couple days of short track testing last week and Sauter feels like his squad is ready for Friday afternoon's qualifying session, for starters.
"I think you can make a case for anything but ultimately when you qualify up front it makes life a lot easier," Sauter said. "The year we won we sat on the pole and ended up leading the most laps and just kinda stayed out of trouble all day and ran our own race and won.
"Sometimes it just doesn't work that good and it's not that easy, so I think Martinsville is one of those places you can have strategies, but you can start last and still win. Everybody wants to start up front, but sometimes if you're not that good qualifying, you're not eliminated by any means."
To come to the front Saturday, Sauter knows he can depend on crew chief Joe Shear Jr. and his men.
"It's kind of a tricky place," Sauter said. "And with the spring race 50 laps longer than the fall race, it kind of forces your hand to pit twice, if you want to have anything left at the end."
And that brings to mind the most critical aspect of every race -- but even moreso at a short track. That's the end-game.
"I think you want to be leading, obviously, with 50 laps to go, like you do anywhere," Sauter said. "But I think with 50-to-go in a place like Martinsville, depending on what kind of day you're having, you'll want to have better tires than everybody in front of you and you want to have equal tires to the guys behind you so you can keep them behind you.
"That's the best you can ask for if you're not having a great day. Having equal tires and better tires than the guys in front of you so you can go try to pick off as many as you can by the end of the race is critical."
The cliché goes, "to finish first, first you must finish," and Martinsville epitomizes that. Sauter's been on the losing end of that equation more than once, but his two top-five finishes in 2011 prove he can get it done.
"I think staying out of trouble is the key," Sauter said. "A driver can self-inflict trouble with brake problems or whatever, so I think I've learned that 200 or 250 laps at Martinsville is a lot longer than people think.
"You think, 'OK, it's a half-mile, so a 131.5-mile race,' but you have a lot more time to get where you need to go than you think. And that's what I was guilty of the first few years when I went there, was just over-abusing my stuff and not having anything left at the end of the race -- and then getting run-over.
"So I think you've got to be patient, but I also think that you have to be aggressive on restarts and things like that, to try to get as many positions as you can without taking big risks. It's a lot of give and take, like it is at a lot of racetracks, but one of the biggest keys you can have at Martinsville is a good-handling truck.
"That's ultimately what separates the men from the boys, is whoever's got the best handling package and has the best turning ability with forward traction. That's what wins Martinsville."
Getting along with your competitors certainly doesn't hurt -- but as Sauter found out in 2011 when he beat Busch, and Sauter's ThorSport teammate Matt Crafton found out last fall when Denny Hamlin shoved him aside and went on to win -- full-contact racing can spell the difference between winning, and finishing back in the pack, not only in the end but at any point in the race.
"I think every driver always says, 'I'll never forget,' especially in the heat of the moment," Sauter said. "But for me, I'm focused on that race and I can't remember what happened yesterday. I definitely think you want to have clean relationships with other competitors for sure, because if it comes down to the end and they feel like they can use you up, they're going to.
"But I feel like I've raced everybody for the most part pretty clean and heck, if anything I'm the guy that should be using some people up. But I just don't go there. I work hard and practice and hopefully keep them all in the rearview mirror all day long and not have to worry about it."
Martinsville Speedway has held 128 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races where there have been 57 pole winners and 47 race winners.
Bobby Labonte is one of those drivers that owns a pole (4/23/95) and a victory (4/14/02) and has six top-five and 14 top-10 finishes at the .526-mile short track. The 2000 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion has led 320 laps at Martinsville. He also won a NASCAR Nationwide Series race (10/18/92) at the venue.
Labonte is currently 31st in the points standings, 117 points behind leader Dale Earnhardt Jr.
JTG Daugherty Racing Quotes:
"This weekend we have BUSH'S® Beans on the No. 47 Toyota Camry," Labonte continued. "They've been a proud partner of JTG Daugherty Racing for a very long time. It would mean a lot for us to deliver a solid finish to the folks in Knoxville, Tennessee this weekend. I'm a fan of theirs and I love dipping into a Pop Top can of Country Style Baked Beans when I'm at the track. BUSH’S Beans are a perfect complement for any occasion. Get Out & Grill!"
"We're going from one of Bobby's toughest tracks (Auto Club Speedway) to one of his most favorite tracks, which is Martinsville Speedway," crew chief Brian Burns said. "He's won there before and from what I understand it's an enjoyable track for him. We had a solid setup last year and finished in the top-10 (ninth). We're planning on improving those results with BUSH'S® Beans on board the No. 47 Toyota Camry."
"BUSH'S® Beans is a household name for my family," Burns continued. "My wife loves the brand and is always asking for me to bring some home. It's a perfect side dish for us when we're grilling burgers. We've had some nice spring days and have been able to Get Out & Grill."