Saturday, Apr 01
Speedway Digest Staff

Speedway Digest Staff

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Kyle Busch not only grabbed the No. 54 team’s 10th victory of the season, but he and the Joe Gibbs racing (JGR) unit did it with dominance. The Monster Energy athlete captured victory at Chicagoland (Ill.) Speedway in Joliet Saturday afternoon, his third win and sixth top-10 finish in 10 races on the 1.5-mile oval in the NASCAR Nationwide Series. The result came from the pole-qualifying position, followed by an incredible 195 of 200 laps in the lead position, across the start/finish line, then victory to the Las-Vegas native, his 61st career win and 50th series victory behind the wheel of a Toyota Camry. Busch’s win set a series record for leading the most laps at a 1.5-mile race track, surpassing Dale Earnhardt’s 194 laps led at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway in 1986. The win from the pole position was Busch’s 19th – another series record.

The Monster Energy team was ready for a Chicago return, having raced there earlier this season with rookie driver Joey Coulter, who qualified 15th, drove steadily and completed a 14th-place finish. Their return to the Joliet, Ill. facility this time, included their 28-year old veteran, the winningest driver in the Nationwide Series garage.

Good signs were evident right away, when Busch and team ran quick laps over two practice sessions on Friday. The JGR driver felt comfortable with his car setup, telling the crew early in the final practice session, “thanks boys, car’s good, we can park it now.” The now seven-time Chicago winner knew what he was feeling in the seat of the No. 54 was right, and Saturday morning he proved it, when he paced the track at 178.968 mph over 30.173 seconds, and earned his eighth Coors Light Pole Award of the season. The first-place starting spot would become Busch’s 34th pole capture in 264 Nationwide Series career races.

On a beautiful warm, late summer afternoon, the green flag dropped and Busch made quick work to advance ahead of the field as much as 10 car lengths, within the first five laps. First comments heard over the radio came on lap 19, when Busch asked his team to check the car’s side skirts to make sure they were wearing in correctly. His spotter confirmed the car looked as it should, and they continued until the first event caution appeared on lap 25.

Under yellow-flag conditions Busch visited pit road for what would be the first of three times in the event. After taking on fresh Goodyear tires and more Sunoco fuel, the No. 54 prepared to exit the pit box and Busch encountered traffic driving off pit road. The delay scored the No. 54 team in sixth place on the restart, but in three laps, Busch had already moved his team back into the lead position.

On lap 56 of the 200-lap race, Busch reported to his team about the car handling, “The balance is really good, just when it gets into the corner it starts to shoot out a little.” Crew chief Adam Stevens replied, “10-4 we’ll stay on top of it.”

The next opportunity to visit pit road was taken on lap 83, under green-flag conditions, when Busch brought his black machine to the stall and his Camry team provided new tires, more fuel and a car adjustment. “I’m more free than I want to be sometimes,” described Busch, “But it’s not bad. Otherwise car’s really good!”

Busch continued to maintain his first-place position and felt good about his car’s progress over the next 20 laps, until he finally saw the track conditions start to change. Busch was heard telling his team, “It’s greasier now, you might want to tighten it (car) up a bit.” Crew chief Stevens replied, “Yeah, everyone is dealing with it.”

On lap 106, an event caution occurred and the Monster Energy group took the opportunity to visit pit road for more replenishments. They remained in first place over 50 more laps, until the next yellow flag waved and they drove down pit road for more tires and fuel.

A green-flag restart on lap 163, then a subsequent yellow flag on 165, slowed progress of the remaining race laps, however, the No. 54 chose not to pit. Green, then yellow again, on lap 173 and Busch maintained his first-place spot, again staying on the racetrack while others visited pit road for adjustments.

One more event caution occurred on lap 183 and the No. 54 team held their track position. On that last green-flag restart the No. 3 Chevrolet of Austin Dillon competed hard with Busch to fight for the first-place spot, but the matchup didn’t last. Busch cleared the No. 3 and kept digging, then extended his lead to the finish line. Busch took the checkered flag in first and immediately thanked his crew for the seamless effort made to capture the win.

When asked what the key was to winning today’s trophy, Busch replied, "You always have to have good race cars. So, we’ve got to have a good racecar for tomorrow’s race too. But I tell you what, this was an awesome racecar right here. This Monster Energy Camry was phenomenal. I’ve had some Nationwide Series cars that were dominant, but we had a lot of fun here.” Busch continued, “I tell you, it’s just a testament to this team. All these guys at JGR, Adam Stevens (crew chief) and everyone on this No. 54 team – they do a great job. They have all year long, and we’re chasing this owner’s deal. We’re hoping that we can keep inching closer. If they (No. 22 Penske Ford) keep finishing second like that, it’s going to take us getting wins, that’s for sure.”

Crew chief Stevens commented post-race as well, “It’s a pretty special group of guys we have got here. The majority of us have been together awhile, this is our third year now – my third year doing this job. It’s nice to come to the track when you have so much confidence in how your car is prepared. Obviously, if you give Kyle something close, you’re going to have a good day. Today we were probably able to get a little bit closer than most days, but at the end it’s not like you don’t have a lap on the field at the end of the day. You can go out there and lead a lot of laps and still have to race for it at the end. It was a good solid weekend. Like Kyle said, we’ve kind of been scratching our heads a bit and trying to keep moving forward so we can finish strong this season. We’re not really back on our heels, we’re going after it as best as we can and just going after this owner’s championship.”

Busch recorded his 61st victory in 264 NASCAR Nationwide Series races. It was his 10th victory and 17th top-10 finish in 2013. With the win, he is tied for second on the Nationwide Series’ single season wins list. Busch himself holds the record with 13 wins in 2010. Joey Logano finished in the second spot, while Sam Hornish Jr., Dillon and Dale Earnhardt Jr. completed the top-five finishers. There were six caution periods for 27 laps of the race along with four lead changes across four drivers, including Busch who led two times for a race-high 195 laps.

The No. 54 Monster Energy team remains second in the Owner’s Championship Point standings, 13 points from the leading No. 22 Penske Ford.

The Nationwide Series continues action Sept. 22 at the Kentucky 300 from Kentucky Speedway in Sparta. The television broadcast will start at 7:00pm EST on ESPNEWS and on the PRN radio broadcast. Drew Herring will make his third start of the season behind the wheel of the JGR No. 54 Monster Energy Camry.


In honor of the 12th Anniversary of Sept. 11th, 2001, Chicagoland Speedway is proud to announce cast members of NBC’s hit television series “Chicago Fire”and representatives from the Chicago Police Department, Joliet Police Department and Joliet Fire Department as the collective Grand Marshals for the GEICO 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race, Sunday, Sept. 15.

The cast members of “Chicago Fire,” including Jesse Spencer (Lieutenant Matthew Casey), Taylor Kinney (Lieutenant Kelly Severide), Eamonn Walker (Battalion Chief Wallace Boden), David Eigenberg (Firefighter Christopher Herrmann) and Randy Flagler (Capp), will deliver the most famous line in motorsports, “Drivers, start your engines,” prior to the green flag of the GEICO 400.

“It is our pleasure to host over 1,000 first responders and their families at Chicagoland Speedway this Sunday as we kick off the first race in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup,” said Scott Paddock, Chicagoland Speedway president. "Our GEICO 400 race week falls during a very important time of remembrance for the events that occurred on Sept. 11, 2001, and our Grand Marshals will help us to pay tribute to the heroic efforts performed by America’s first responders on a daily basis".  

The NBC drama, “Chicago Fire,” provides an edge-of-your-seat view into the lives of everyday heroes committed to one of America's most noble professions. For the firefighters, rescue squad and paramedics of Chicago Firehouse 51, no occupation is more stressful or dangerous, yet so rewarding and exhilarating. The season 2 premiere of “Chicago Fire” airs on NBC, Tuesday, September 24th at 10p.m. ET.


Timothy Peters came to Chicagoland Speedway with his No. 17 Parts Plus Toyota Tundra hoping to mark his first win on an intermediate track. Peters qualified 18th which works out well for him as he is a master of moving through the traffic putting himself in contention to be there at the end. Strategy was on his side as Peters quickly moved up into the 14th position by Lap 52. Within five more laps, Peters made his way to the 10th place with momentum on his side. Racing for position on Lap 101, Peters made contact with a competitor then with the wall which caused severe damage to the Parts Plus Tundra. This ended the night for the team, relegating Peters to a 27th-place finish.

Timothy Peters talks about his race at Chicagoland Speedway:

"We weren't having a very good night in our Parts Plus Tundra, but, we were gaining on them. We'll regroup during this break and go to Vegas."



Chicagoland Speedway marked the debut for Germán Quiroga and his No. 77 NET10 Wireless Toyota Tundra at the 1.5-mile venue. Quiroga has found success on the intermediate tracks this season managing top-10 and top-15 finishes at Kentucky and Kansas respectively. Quiroga started the 225 in the 23rd position but was immediately on the move after the green flag waved. By lap 23 he had put himself into 14th and battled for position for the majority of the race. With an ill-handling race truck just past the half-way mark, Quiroga moved back to 20th trying to hold onto track position in his NET10 Wireless Tundra. Quiroga maneuvered his way back through the field to gain five additional spots by races end, finishing 14th.

Germán Quiroga talks about his finish at Chicagoland Speedway:

"It was a tough night for our NET10 Wireless Toyota Tundra. We couldn't ever really find the right balance for the truck and just couldn't get the track position that we needed. We'll take what we learned here and go on to Las Vegas."



John Wes Townley came to the windy city with one goal in mind and that was to finish inside the top-10 with the No. 7 Zaxby's Toyota Tundra team. With a 16th-place qualifying effort, Townley was settling in nicely with new chassis No. 16. Townley found great speed on track running equal lap times to the leaders. Being back in traffic and not in clean air, forced the driver to make some strategic moves. By lap 65 Townley had gotten the Zaxby's Tundra into 10th place. He continued to drive carefully and aggressively through the pack, picking off one truck at a time. With 40 laps to go, Townley was sitting in eighth. As the laps wound down, Townley was in gear to capture his career high finish as he continued to gain momentum on the leaders. Townley went on to finish sixth, marking his best finish in the truck series. His previous best finish was seventh at Michigan.

John Wes Townley talks about his career best finish at Chicagoland Speedway:

"I feel pretty good about our sixth-place finish. I like places like this. This place is fast. It kind of suits my driving style. I'm really proud of these guys. Can't thank Toyota and Zaxby's enough, and the guys too.  Everybody did a great job. Everything kind of came together. Only thing that could have gone better is we could have won. We'll just go on to the next race and get them there."



In his first visit to Chicagoland Speedway, Jeb Burton won his fifth Keystone Light pole award of the season and finished among the top 10 after leading 42 laps in Friday night's NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) race. Equipped with a fast truck at the one-day event, Burton and his No. 4 Arrowhead team dominated the night until an unfortunate pit stop caused Burton to lose multiple track positions. The 21-year old rookie remained patient and fought his way back to a ninth-place finish in the 225.

After ranking sixth fastest in the day's first practice session, Burton and his Turner Scott Motorsports (TSM) team returned to the 1.5-mile track and immediately went to the top of the speed charts. Burton followed up his performance by laying down the fastest qualifying lap among the 36-car field. The 21-year-old Sunoco Rookie of the Year contender is now only two pole awards away from tying the current rookie record.


Leading the field under the Chicagoland lights, the No. 4 Arrowhead Chevy maintained track position for 43 laps despite an ongoing battle for first place with seasoned veterans Brad Keselowski and Kyle Busch. After falling into second place, Burton reported that his Chevrolet Silverado was getting really tight on the bottom. As a caution arose on lap 48, crew chief Mike Hillman Jr. told Burton to save fuel and wait for pit road to open. In their first pit stop of the night, the No. 4 Arrowhead team applied four tires and fuel just before the jack lever stuck, forcing Burton to lose multiple track positions. Although discouraged, Burton and his team remained optimistic and by lap 60, Burton was back to racing among the top five.


As another yellow flag waved on lap 69, Hillman made a strategic call to return to pit road and give the No. 4 truck four new tires and a splash of fuel. Burton returned to the field in the 13th position, but due to another caution, he quickly fell out of the top 15 on the restart. Remaining patient, Burton climbed to the eleventh position just before another caution came out on lap 101. The No. 4 TSM truck returned to pit road for four new tires and a splash of fuel, placing him in eighth for the restart.


With 30 laps remaining, Burton was yet again running the fastest lap times on the track. In the final laps, the No. 4 truck continued to inch closer and closer to his TSM teammate James Buescher but was unable to catch him before the checkered flag dropped. Burton finished the 225 in ninth place and remains fourth in the NCWTS Driver Point Standings.


"We just can't catch a break," said Burton. "We had the best truck tonight and I really thought we could finish the night with a visit to victory lane. We really needed luck in the pits tonight and unfortunately, things didn't go our way. I'm still proud of my team. We didn't go down without a fight. We raced and we raced hard."


Hillman told Burton and his No. 4 crew, "Good job tonight boys. This is all part of racing. We'll learn from this and move on to Vegas."


The NCWTS will take next weekend off before heading to Las Vegas Motor Speedway for the Smith's 350 on Saturday, September 28.Taking a break from his Chevrolet Silverado, Burton will make his NASCAR Nationwide Series (NNS) debut in the No. 34 Arrowhead Camero next weekend at Kentucky Speedway. All of the NNS action can be seen live on Saturday, September 21 on ESPNEWS beginning at 7:00 p.m. ET, followed by the Kentucky 300 at 7:30 p.m. ET.



Justin Lofton and the No. 6 Lofton Cattle/J6Ink team demonstrated speed throughout the day at Chicagoland Speedway. However, as the temperatures dropped and the Westmorland, Calif., native took the green flag he was faced with a tight-handling Chevrolet Silverado that resulted in a 15th-place finish under the lights of the Joliet, Ill. facility. Lofton turned the fourth-quickest lap during qualifying at the 1.5-mile racetrack. Initially climbing to the second position in the opening laps of the race, Lofton fell to the eighth position as the truck's handling became tight on the exit of the corners. Crew chief Bryan Berry called his driver to pit road during the first caution period on lap 14 for four tires and adjustments. With many teams opting to take only fuel, the No. 6 Chevrolet was placed in the 19th position for the restart. The Berry-led team executed solid pit stops with a series of chassis and air-pressure adjustments on laps 49, 69 and 103, but the tight-handling condition persisted. Lofton was able to climb back into the top 10 by lap 108, but the ensuing green-flag run lasted the remainder of the 150-lap event. Still wrestling with the tight condition, Lofton fell in the running order and was relegated to a 15th-place finish.


Justin Lofton Quote:

"We had a great Lofton Cattle/J6Ink Chevrolet throughout the afternoon and a great qualifying effort, but when the race started and the temperatures dropped it was just way too tight to maintain the track position. It definitely was not the night we had expected. We are going to do some testing before heading to Las Vegas so we can get the finish that I know this Sharp-Gallaher Racing team is capable of."

Chalk up another win from the pole for Kyle Busch.

And give the driver of the No. 54 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota two legs up on a weekend sweep at Chicagoland Speedway.

In Saturday's Dollar General 300, Busch won his 10th NASCAR Nationwide Series race in 20 starts this season, leading 195 of the 200 laps in claiming the record 61st victory of his career.

Busch became the first driver to win from the pole in NNS competition at Chicagoland, although he's certainly no stranger to winning from the top starting spot.

In Saturday morning's time trials, Busch won his eighth pole of the season. He has converted seven of those into victories.

Joey Logano ran second, but no other driver proved a threat to Busch's dominance. Sam Hornish Jr. finished third and extended his lead in the series standings to 17 points over Austin Dillon, who came home fourth.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished fifth, followed by Brian Vickers, Matt Kenseth, Parker Kligerman, Kevin Harvick and rookie Nelson Piquet Jr.

Having won Friday night's NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Chicagoland, Busch will go for the second three-series weekend sweep of his career in Sunday's GEICO 400 Sprint Cup race at the 1.5-mile track.

That won't be an easy task. During Saturday�s practice, the handling on Busch's Cup car wasn't optimal.

"We tried a lot of stuff (Saturday) in the Cup garage and couldn't really find the feel I was looking for, couldn't really find the grip I was hoping to have that would produce fast lap times and be comfortable for me," Busch said. "It's going to be a bit of a challenge (Sunday).

"I think we're a top-10 car right now. That's a little further off than where I'd like to start going into (Sunday), but we'll just have to work through 400 miles and push hard and see if we can't achieve the trifecta."

Penkse Racing teammates Logano and Hornish agreed that they needed to find a little additional speed to compete with Busch on a regular basis, but they also defended their own records.

Four Penske drivers have combined for 10 NNS victories this season.

"We're not far behind; we've won quite a few races this year," Logano said. "But the 54 car is obviously our main competition every weekend.

Where it's at is hard to pinpoint. It's probably a little bit of body, it could be some motor, it could be some of our chassis setups.

"We have to look in every little area to find a little bit of speed. It's not like he's a half-second quicker than us. He's a 10th better, all day today. ...

It's hard to pinpoint exactly where it's at, because he drives away so fast you can't figure it out quick enough."
Having led 153 of the first 158 laps, Busch held a lead of more than three seconds when Brett Butler plowed into the back of title contender Elliott

Sadler's No. 11 Toyota as Sadler was slowing to enter pit road.

Lead-lap cars came to the pits on Lap 160 four tires and fuel, leaving them with enough gas to finish the race comfortably.

Busch was first off pit road for a restart on Lap 164, but one circuit later, a caution for debris slowed the field for the fourth time.

Busch pulled away after a Lap 170 restart and stretched his lead until Kyle Larson blew a left rear tire and smacked the outside wall in Turn 2, spewing debris throughout the corner.

That wasn't the last yellow.

One circuit after a restart on Lap 182, Justin Allgaier's Chevrolet clipped the outside wall, bounced into Regan Smith's Chevy and sent it spinning down the backstretch.

Smith, who entered the race third in the series standings, stayed on the lead lap but restarted 18th when Busch led the field to green on lap 187.
Smith worked his way up to 13th by the finish, but lost ground to Hornish, as did Sadler, who ran 19th, one lap down.

With Smith and Sadler both having issues, dropping them to 36 and 44 points behind Hornish, respectively, the championship battle began to look more and more like a two-man contest.

"There's still a long time to go," Hornish said. "What? Seven races? A lot can happen. We have to be smart about how we run it and all those things. One flat tire can lose you a bunch of points. I feel like I was pretty excited about where we were running at about Lap 160, with how we were running.

"I think Austin was seventh, and we were running second and catching the leader a little bit. All of a sudden the yellow comes out, and we were running third, and he (Dillon) was second. We worked real hard to get back around there at the end, and I just wish we'd had a little more for the short run."

NOTES: Kyle Busch led the largest number of laps ever in a Nationwide Series at an intermediate speedway, eclipsing the 194 of 200 led by Dale Earnhardt at Charlotte in 1986. ... Kyle Busch posted his 20th perfect driver rating in the series. ... Kenny Wallace started his 543rd NNS race, bringing his total NASCAR starts across all three national touring series to 900.

Miguel Paludo appeared poised for another stellar night at an intermediate track after qualifying third at Chicagoland Speedway, but adversity struck early when Paludo was penalized for jumping the start when the green flag waved for the first lap of the race. After going a lap down from the pass-thru penalty, Paludo fought his way back onto the lead lap and battled a tight condition before finishing 12th in the 225.


After running in the top 10 in both of the morning's practice sessions, Paludo backed up his speeds by laying down the third-fastest lap in qualifying. Making his debut in the BRANDT do Brasil Chevrolet Silverado, Paludo experienced a stellar start when the green flag waved to commence the 150-lap event. Unfortunately, officials believed that the Brazilian driver jumped the initial start, and the black flag was waved for the No. 32 team. Forced to complete a pass-thru penalty, Paludo immediately went a lap down, dropping from third to 31st. However, Paludo and the team were determined to keep the early adversity from affecting their overall performance, believing they had a truck that could compete for the win.


When the caution waved for the first time on lap 14 for a spin, Paludo was the first truck one lap down and was therefore awarded the lucky dog. Returning to the lead lap, Paludo took advantage of the caution period and pitted for fuel and a track-bar adjustment to free up the BRANDT do Brasil Chevrolet.

Green-flag racing resumed on lap 19 with Paludo scored in the 28th spot, but Paludo's truck was strong and he was able to work his way up to the 13th spot by the second caution period of the day on lap 48. Crew chief Jeff Hensley called his driver onto pit road and the Turner Scott Motorsports team provided Paludo with four tires, fuel and both air-pressure and wedge adjustments.


Returning to the track in 15th on lap 53, Paludo advanced two spots in the first five laps of green-flag racing. However, the BRANDT do Brasil Chevy was still too tight in both corners. The handling slowly improved as fuel began to burn off, but Paludo was still 13th when the yellow flag waved on lap 69. Opting for track position and clean air over fresh tires and adjustments, Paludo did not bring the No. 32 to pit road under yellow, which put him fifth for the lap 73 restart. Unfortunately, with most of the trucks behind him sporting fresh tires, Paludo was passed once the field went green, dropping to 11th before the caution flag waved for what would be the final time of the night on lap 101.


Hensley once again called his driver to pit road, and Paludo was provided with four tires, fuel and multiple chassis adjustments to cure the truck's continuing tight condition. Paludo emerged from the pits in the 15th position, and the green flag waved for the final time on lap 108. Over the remaining 42 laps, Paludo fought hard to pass his competitors. Picking up three spots in the closing laps, Paludo was 12th when the checkered flag was displayed.


"I really would have liked to earn my first win with BRANDT do Brasil on my truck, it was really special to carry them as a sponsor at their home track," said Paludo. "It was great to race knowing there were so many people from BRANDT here to support me, and I think as a team, we did everything we could to run the best race we could. Unfortunately, we were just way too tight all night."


Paludo's 12th-place finish means that he remains sixth in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) Driver Point Standings, just one point behind fifth. The NCWTS enjoys an off-weekend before heading to Sin City. The Smith's 350 from Las Vegas Motor Speedway will air on FOX Sports 1 at 8:30 p.m. EDT.



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