Tuesday, Mar 21
Speedway Digest Staff

Speedway Digest Staff

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For the first time ever, NASCAR and ESPN are working together to launch an integrated marketing campaign to elevate the 10th Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup on ESPN. The Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup is NASCAR’s version of the playoffs, where the sport’s top 12 drivers compete to become the next NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion. With the tagline “12 Drivers. 1 Champion.,” the multi-platform initiative debuted on ESPN on Sept. 2 with a series of brand spots. The first one, “Generations,” is a 30-second ad that features five-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson and the likenesses of some of NASCAR’s greatest legends, including three-time champion Cale Yarborough, “The King” Richard Petty and seven-time champion Dale Earnhardt Sr. The campaign highlights the elevated stakes and significance of the Chase and the opportunity drivers have to build a legacy through the 10-race postseason.

“With this campaign, we want to create as much buzz and momentum going into the 10 races – if you’re a fan, you feel what it means to be a part of it,” said Emeka Ofodile, senior director of marketing at ESPN.  “The Chase is big – it’s the playoffs – our goal is to make it feel that way.”

Discussions between NASCAR and ESPN about a joint marketing effort began in 2012. In early 2013, ESPN, in collaboration with creative agency Wieden + Kennedy New York, and NASCAR, along with their creative agency Ogilvy and Mather, joined forces to identify a single Chase message: “12 Drivers, 1 Champion.” This is the first time NASCAR is aligning with a rights holder network to develop a marketing campaign.

The joint campaign will introduce four TV spots, two produced by ESPN and two by NASCAR, as well as print, radio and local market executions at each of the ten Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup tracks. Additionally, the initiative will feature mobile and digital elements along with an extensive social media program called #Fandorsements.

“ESPN has played an integral role in our efforts to reach new fans,” said Kim Brink, vice president of marketing at NASCAR. “12 Drivers, 1 Champion.’ uses a pivotal time in the NASCAR season to articulate the intensity and complexity of the sport of stock car racing. We hope that the vivid imagery will convey to consumers the diligence and skill that it takes to rise to the top, demonstrating the unpredictable and dramatic nature of The Chase, the hardest championship in all of sports to win.”

#Fandorsements will be the social photo contest that allows fans to “endorse” their favorite Chase driver by submitting an original picture of their drivers’ number through Instagram or Twitter using the hashtag #Fandorsements. Each week during the Chase, a new winner will be selected and will have his/her social media handle appear above their favorite Chase driver’s passenger window in that week’s race. For more information, visit www.nascar.com/fandorsements.

Nine of the 10 races in the 2013 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup will air on ESPN and WatchESPN, with the Saturday night, Oct.12, race at Charlotte Motor Speedway airing on ABC. The full schedule is available on ESPN MediaZone.

The final 12 drivers in the playoff will be determined during the final regular season race of the season at Richmond International Raceway on Saturday, Sept. 7, at 7:30 p.m. ET on ABC, Performance Racing Network Radio and SiriusXM Satellite Radio.


Matt Crafton and his No. 88 Ideal Door / Menards Toyota team are much too competitive to be happy with their 10th-place finish in Sunday's inaugural NASCAR Camping World Truck Series event at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park.


But the bottom line is, by evading the mayhem that ensued on the last lap -- including a classic short-track bump-and-win move by Chase Elliott -- the Truck Series' championship leader Crafton scored his 14th consecutive top-10 finish this season, and in the process dropped only two points to his closest title contender, defending series champion James Buescher.


Buescher, who led the race's first two laps from the pole position, is now 47 points behind Crafton with eight races left this season and heading to next Sunday's race at Iowa Speedway -- where Crafton earlier this season finished sixth.


Crafton, who's led the standings for the last 10 races, was concerned about the wild-card aspect of the Canadian event, the Truck Series' first road-course race since 2000 and thus Crafton's first road race in a Camping World truck.


But after the fact, both he and crew chief Carl "Junior" Joiner expressed regret at de-tuning their Tundra's engine to benefit their fuel mileage.


"I'm glad it's over, to tell you the truth," Joiner said on CTMP's pit road while dispute after dispute between drivers that collided on the 2.459-mile racetrack during the event played on the big-screen video monitor in the infield behind Crafton's pit stall.


"We didn't have a lot of speed in our truck because we gave up a little bit of power in our motor to get better fuel mileage and it wasn't a fuel-mileage race for us, after all. I don't believe I'll ever do that again because our Triad motors have plenty of

horsepower every week, and we need to use it."


Sunday's race was a true road-race cornucopia of strategies, with some lead trucks diving to pit road as early as the sixth of 64 laps for fuel. Crafton pitted for the first time a couple laps later under the race's first caution.That was the root of Joiner's deepest frustration.


"We pitted real early and that kind of got us off-sequence and we had to get back on-sequence," Joiner said. "I thought we were going to be in good shape at one point but you just can't predict how the cautions are going to fall at one of these (road) races or what's going to happen, either (laughing at a highlight on the video screen)."


At one point late in the race, following a restart in which he lined up seventh but quickly fell back to 14th, Crafton expressed disgust over his radio, saying he was getting passed "like I was tied to a pole."


But in the end, he was more relieved to have only the season's last true "wild card" event, at Talladega Superspeedway in October, remaining.


"I enjoyed this racetrack and felt like the more laps we ran, the better we were getting," Crafton said. "What my ThorSport guys did to improve this truck is what we've been doing all season. We've just got to get a little better, yet."


But all in all that didn't diminish the pride they felt at leaving Canada with a sizeable point lead after scrambling through another weekend of varying degrees of success. After Joiner and Crafton weren't very pleased with their truck's performance in more than four hours of Friday practice, the crew came in extra-early Saturday morning with NASCAR's blessing.


"We worked our tails off, I can tell you that -- as bad-to-the-bone as our guys always are," Joiner said of their 5:45 a.m. arrival. "We rebuilt virtually our whole Menards Toyota Tundra, from the suspension up.


"We've just got to start getting better through the whole weekend. We had good speed at Michigan and Bristol but we're going to hit our stride right here because we're coming to some tough racetracks, but they're good for us." 


The race's final caution, which flew with six laps left when ThorSport Racing teammate Johnny Sauter's No. 98 Carolina Nut Co. / Curb Records Toyota stalled on-course, inched Crafton closer to the top-10 but put him in position to show just what contending for this championship means to all of ThorSport.


"Nobody drives harder, or smarter week-in and week-out than Matt does, and we all know that," Joiner said. "He didn't give up and we don't give up and we ended up with a top-10 out of it when all that craziness went-down at the end."


"I couldn't have driven any harder, all day," Crafton said. "My guys did a great job in the pits and that last lap just shows that you better take care of everything you can, because sometimes you just don't know what's going to happen."


Thorsport PR

Ryan Blaney (@RyanBlaney22), driver of the No. 29 Cooper Standard Ford F-150, made his first career start on a road course in a NASCAR event at the Canadian Tire Motorsport Park during the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) race on Sunday. Blaney qualified his Cooper Standard machine on the outside of the front row on Saturday evening.


Blaney got off to a solid start staying inside of the top three before pitting early on lap six for fuel. The pit stop was flawless, and the break the No. 29 team received with the first caution coming out while Blaney was still on pit road, could not have come at a better time.


When the field went back to green on lap nine, Blaney was listed in the 10th position. By lap 24, Blaney had moved into the first position, holding it until he came to pit road on lap 26. Blaney had reported a significant vibration prior to the stop, so crew chief Doug Randolph brought the No. 29 machine in for fuel and four fresh tires.


Knowing the No. 29 team would have to pit again before the conclusion of the race, crew chief Doug Randolph encourage Blaney to go out and run solid consistent laps and the team would do its best to position him for a shot at victory.


Unfortunately, for Blaney, the suspension issue only aggravated as the day continued and on lap 62 it officially came undone and broke, preventing him from turning the wheel right. As Blaney came around the final turn and approached the checkered flag on the final lap, it was all he could do to avoid the mayhem in front of him, with multiple Trucks wrecking, and cross the finish line 16th during a very frustrating race for the Cooper Standard BKR driver.


The No. 29 BKR team currently sits seventh in the NCWTS driver points standings, 82 points back from first. 



"It was one of those days that could have been so great, but due to a suspension issue it prevented us from possibly going to victory lane. We will have to buckle down to fix the issue and focus on what's ahead of us. Iowa is a track that I love and have had previous success on, so that will certainly be top of mind for me as I prepare for next Sunday." Ryan Blaney




Ross Chastain (@RossChastain), driver of the No. 19 Reese Towpower PartSouce Ford F-150, made his eighth start for Brad Keselowski Racing (BKR) Sunday afternoon at the Canadian Tire Motorsport Park in the Series' inaugural debut at the historic track. Chastain qualified his Ford F-150 in the 18th position on Saturday evening.


The No. 19 Reese Towpower PartSource team turned to pit strategy early in the race to gain track position. Crew chief, Chad Kendrick brought Chastain to pit road on lap six for fuel only, as the first caution of the race fell. This was just the type of script Kendrick wanted to see as his Reese Towpower team had made up significant track position by lap seven.


Chastain moved up to the fifth position by lap 25 and maintained a top five until the caution came out on lap 33 for a spin. Kendrick brought the No. 19 Reese Towpower PartSource machine to pit road for tires and fuel after the driver had been commenting on the lack of forward drive.


When the caution came out again on lap 44, Chastain decided to stay out and retain track position. He restarted in the third position on lap 48.


With 10 to go, Chastain was still lurking on the outside of the top five, but the wear on his tires forced him to pit under caution with less than eight laps to go. Kendrick loaded him up with fresh Goodyear tires which resulted in the 14th spot on the restart with five to go. As the field wrecked in front of the No. 19 BKR machine, Chastain was able to drive through the chaos and place seventh in a very respectable performance during his first ever professional road course race.


The No. 19 BKR team now sits fourth in the NCWTS owner points standings, 62 points back from first.



"I am very proud of my Reese Towpower PartSource team for fighting hard all day long. That was a blast and I am very happy with the finish we had today. The track was a blast to drive and I hope we are able to make a comeback here next season. Looking ahead to Iowa, this team will be ready to have another solid performance next weekend." - Ross Chastain




Road-course veteran Mike Skeen made his NASCAR Camping World Truck Series debut in the No. 6 Hawk Performance Chevrolet at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park as the series returned to road-course racing for the first time 13 years. Skeen is no stranger to success at the 10-turn race track, having claimed the pole position and won the last four consecutive events there in the Pirelli World Challenge GT Series. He paced the field in both practices on Friday and turned the third-fastest lap during Saturday's qualifying session. Shortly following the start of the inaugural Camping World Truck Series event at the Bowmanville, Ontario facility, the yellow flag was displayed for an accident occurring on lap eight. Sacrificing the second position, Skeen brought the Hawk Performance machine to pit road for four tires and fuel. He restarted 10th and quickly advanced through the field, remaining in the top 10 for the duration of the 64-lap affair. After one last pit stop on lap 34, Skeen battled a loose-handling truck during the final stages of the Chevrolet Silverado 250. While running in the third position on the final lap, Skeen worked to hold off the challenger behind him. As he entered the final turn, hard contact from behind sent the Portsmouth, Va., native hard into the tire barrier, relegating the No. 6 Sharp-Gallaher Racing team to a 13th-place result. Justin Lofton will return to pilot the No. 6 Silverado at Iowa Speedway.


Mike Skeen Quote:

"I am very proud of this team and our performance this weekend. I had a great time driving the No. 6 Hawk Performance Chevrolet here at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park. NASCAR did a great job getting the Camping World Truck Series up here and the fans were just amazing. We were racing hard on that last lap to maintain our position and unfortunately got hit from behind and ended up in the tires. The truck was really fast all weekend. I wish we could have gotten a better result. I want to thank everyone at Sharp-Gallaher Racing for the opportunity."


Ken Schrader won the Southern Illinois 100 presented by Federated Car Care Monday, surviving a green-white-checkered finish to win for the second time this season in the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards.


Schrader, in the No. 52 Federated Auto Parts Chevrolet, won the pole, led the first 41 laps and led when it counted, the finish. He passed Tom Hessert in the No. 77 Barbera's Autoland Dodge, just before a caution came out to set up the green-white-checkered finish. As cars fought for position, Hessert made his move but couldn't get any closer to Schrader.


"That was just too much fun," Schrader said in victory lane. It was his 17th career ARCA victory.


Hessert took the lead during a wild middle part of the race that saw several lead changes and door-to-door racing. At one point, Frank Kimmel took the lead on a three-wide pass in front of the main DuQuoin grandstand. A few laps later, he found himself in fifth position and Hessert grabbed the top spot.

Meanwhile, Schrader knifed his way through traffic and got to second, behind Hessert.


"We pitted late, like around lap 40, and we came back out eighth, then we got to sixth. A couple things happened and we got to second," Schrader said. "I thought we might be done if Tom didn't have problems. He got just a little bit high with a half dozen laps to go and that opened the doors for us."


Schrader took the lead coming out of turn two.


"That was it," he said. "That made all of the difference. He got up high an extra foot there. If not, I never would have got around him."


Hessert said he just a real small mistake, but it was enough for Schrader to win the race, which officially took 102 laps.


"He is so good at this place," Hessert said. "He runs so well here. We do, too. Man, we were so close."


Venturini Motorsports driver Brennan Poole and Chris Windom, in the Roulo Brothers Racing No. 17 Ford, rounded out the top five. Mason Mitchell was sixth in the Empire Racing-Happy Cheeks Ford with Kimmel seventh, Kelly Kovski eighth, A.J. Fike ninth and Taylor Ferns 10th.


Boston, Poole and Ferns gave Venturini Motorsports three top 10 finishes.


SCOTT Rookie Challenge winner Boston finished in the top 10 for the seventh straight week. He seemed to be in the top five the whole race.


"I was really just trying to be cautious as possible while being aggressive," Boston said. "I just tried to be consistent and not make any mistakes and let everyone else make mistakes. We had really good track position today and it paid off for us."


Fourteen cars finished on the lead lap, including Jason Basham in 14th place in the Darrell Basham Racing Chevrolet. Josh Williams, in the No. 99 Allegiant Travel-Roulo Brothers Racing Ford finished 13th after having to change engines and Ryan Unzicker finished 11th place, including a highlight-reel save on the front stretch when he avoided crashing into a spinning Kimmel.


Mason Mingus, the SCOTT Rookie Challenge leader and second in overall ARCA points, finished 12th in the 811 Call Before You Dig Toyota.


The traditional Labor Day race closed the 91st DuQuoin State Fair. Schrader has now won three poles and three races at the Magic Mile. He led 47 laps Monday. Schrader became the oldest winner in series history at Toledo and set the mark again Monday at DuQuoin.


Hessert led 33 laps and Windom 19.


There were eight cautions for 34 laps for the race, which took 1 hour and 19 minutes to complete.

The ARCA Racing Series has four races remaining in the 2013 season. The series travels to Iowa Speedway next week for a Saturday night race, leaving races at Salem, Kentucky and Kansas on the schedule.


ARCA Racing PR

Richmond International Raceway’s Pit Stop exhibit that has been entertaining children since February at the Children’s Museum of Richmond, is relocating this Wednesday, September 4, from the Central location to the museum’s Short Pump venue, located at 2200 Old Brick Road; Glen Allen, VA 23060.

Sam Bass, a Virginia native and NASCAR’s “Creative Ambassador,” will be on hand to showcase his NASCAR-licensed artwork, along with the Federated Auto Parts 400 race trophy. He’ll meet with fans and sign autographs. The pace car will be on display, as well. Bass is featured in the “When They Were Young Exhibit” (details below). The Museum is offering FREE admission during Bass’s appearance, from 5:00-7:00 p.m. this Wednesday.

Earlier this year, RIR president Dennis Bickmeier announced the track would further its commitment to educate children about motorsports. Richmond International Raceway, through RIR Cares, the track’s donor-advised fund at The NASCAR Foundation, partnered with the Children’s Museum of Richmond on the interactive display that teaches kids and adults all about the country’s most popular racing series.

The four pieces of the exhibit include:

  • The Flag Stand: Visual and interactive explanation of what each flag used during a NASCAR race indicates
  • Half Car: Children can sit inside an actual NASCAR race car that has been cut in half to see what it’s like inside the cockpit
  • Build Your Own Race Car: Visitors may build small scale cars to race against others, with the opportunity to modify the pieces to make them go faster
  • When They Were Young: Historical facts and information about NASCAR drivers, crew chiefs and owners who hail from Virginia

Pit Stop launched in February at the Chesterfield CMoR location and moved to the Central location in April. The exhibit will remain at the Short Pump location through the remainder of 2013.



After his 18th top-20 finish of the NASCAR Nationwide Series season at Bristol Motor Speedway, Mike Bliss was eager to maintain consistency as he raced Atlanta Motor Speedway for the eighth time in his Nationwide Series career.


Early on (lap 2) Bliss radioed to his Crew Chief Paul Clapprood that the No. 19 was "really tight". 


Bliss and his 'Reliable' crew took advantage of the event's first caution on lap 36. Taking four tires and fuel, as well as making an air pressure and wedge adjustment he restarted 18th.


Settling in for a long green flag run in the 23rd position, the once tight Camry, was now "loose in".  Bliss also said he had "no right rear grip and it's tight through the middle."


On lap 92 Bliss came to pit road for a green flag pit stop, where the crew made an air pressure adjustment, changed four tires and topped his Toyota Camry off with fuel; returning him to the track in the 23rd position.


The third caution of the night for debris came on lap 104.  Bliss was still unsatisfied with the handling of his Toyota and brought the 19 to pit road where Clapprood called for four tires, fuel and a track-bar adjustment.


When the event's final caution fell with 19 laps to go, Bliss and team decided to stay out to maintain track position ultimately resulting in a 22nd place finish.


Post Race Quote:


"We had a really hard time trying to find a balance in the car this weekend. I felt like I was over driving it at times just to try and figure things out. I appreciate Reliable Heating and Air coming on board this weekend, I wish we could have finished better for them." - Mike Bliss




RAB Racing with Brack Maggard and driver Kenny Wallace are proud to announce that Wallace will be making his 898th NASCAR start at Richmond International Raceway this Friday, September 6thfor the Virginia 529 College Savings 250. Wallace will be behind the wheel of the familiar No. 29 American Ethanol Toyota Camry, at one of his favorite tracks on the schedule. Wallace boasts three wins, 18 top 10 finishes, and 432 laps lead at the 3/4 mile D-shaped oval. Keith Hinkein will be the the crew chief for the No. 29, making his third start with Wallace and RAB Racing. Hinkein spent last season as crew chief in the ARCA Racing Series securing one win with Kevin Swindell and has prior experience in the Hooter's Pro Cup Series winning 10 races with drivers Trevor Bayne and Joey Logano. Wallace will pilot chassis No. 44 in Richmond, his second start in this chassis for 2013 as he qualified in the fifth position at Richmond in April of 2013.

RAB Racing PR

Sharp-Gallaher Racing driver Max Gresham finished 24th in Sunday's Chevrolet Silverado 250 at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park after drive shaft problems relegated the Milner, Ga., native to the garage area for repairs.


Finishing 24th in the first road-course event since 2000 for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) left Gresham frustrated. However, he admitted that he had fun and the effort highlighted the work by his Made in USA Brand (MIUSA) crew.


"Everything that could go wrong, went wrong. We tore the back end of our Chevrolet up in the first practice session on Saturday, and everyone on this Sharp-Gallaher Racing team worked hard to rebuild it," Gresham said. "It was ready to go when we qualified and started the race."


After starting in the 23rd-postion, Gresham's truck had drive shaft trouble in Turn 3 and was able to make it to Turn 5c before needing a push back to the garage. The broken drive shaft on the seventh lap forced him to the garage to undergo serious repairs.


The 20-year-old Gresham was 17 laps down when he finally returned to the race. He was scored as 28th in the field when he returned to action. Enduring chassis adjustments on two pit stops, Gresham finished 24th and completed 47 of the 64 laps - a significant statistic showing that he never lost another lap after returning to the race.


"Most of the time you don't think there are moral victories in racing," Gresham said. "This is different. Our race team fought for every position. They refused to give up. It's something I won't ever forget. As a driver, it's a privilege to work with people who are so committed."


This season in the truck series has been especially unique; it not only returned to dirt racing this year, where Gresham enjoyed a top-10 finish, but also made its way back to a road course for the first time in 13 years. The series will return to ovals in the final eight races of this season.


"We enjoyed the challenges of racing on dirt and on a road course," crew chief Chris Showalter said. "The race in Canada really tested everyone on the team. I was proud of the way everyone stepped up. Quitting was never an option."



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