Speedway Digest Staff
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On a day when six drivers broke the track record, Jimmie Johnson was the fastest of the fast, winning the pole position for Sunday’s STP®Gas Booster™ 500 at Martinsville Speedway.
Johnson’s lap of 19.244 seconds (98.400 mph) in a Chevrolet around the .526-mile oval topped the record of 19.306 seconds (98.083 mph), set by Tony Stewart in 2005.
It was the third Martinsville Speedway pole for the seven-time NASCAR Sprint Cup champion and 30th career pole.
“That (the record) is icing on the cake. Track records are hard to come by,” said Johnson. “I knew right away (in practice) that we would have a shot at the pole; that I would have to do my part on the track.”
Marcos Ambrose nailed down the second starting spot in a Ford with a time of 19.251 seconds (98.364 mph) while Brian Vickers qualified third in a Toyota at 19.266 seconds (98.287 mph). Other drivers bettering the track record included Joey Logano, fourth, Kasey Kahne, fifth, and Jeff Gordon, sixth.
“It just feels great to get a front row spot,” Ambrose said of his second career top-10 start at Martinsville. “We’re less than a hundredth away from the top spot and felt like a woulda, shoulda, coulda out there. It was just a little extra time to get the pole, but we’ll take it.”
“It was good. Going into it (qualifying) I thought we were a change or two away from a shot at the pole, then after the run I thought we were still a change away from the pole,” said Vickers. “I thought it would be a fifth or seventh place. We showed up with a good car and adjusted and worked all day.”
Rounding out the top 10 starters for Sunday’s race are Brad Keselowski, seventh, Matt Kenseth, eighth, Carl Edwards, ninth and defending race winner Ryan Newman, 10th.
There is a full day of action at Martinsville Speedway Saturday with the Kroger 250 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at 1:30 p.m. There will be two NASCAR Sprint Cup Series practices Saturday, the first at 10:30 a.m. and the final practice scheduled for 11:45 a.m.
Tickets for Saturday’s Kroger 250 are $35 and may be purchased at the track Saturday.
Tickets for the STP® Gas Booster™ 500 and the Kroger 250 may be purchased by calling 877.RACE.TIX or by visiting www.martinsvillespeedway.com online.
Fan gates open at 9 a.m. Saturday and Sunday.
Martinsville Speedway PR
As one of the most active, innovative users of social media in all of sports, defending NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Brad Keselowski launched today an interactive fan contest called "The Crew Challenge." The contest, which is housed on the recently redesigned BradRacing.com website, is an interactive multimedia platform that gives fans the chance to tell Keselowski's story and their experiences with the sport from any perspective or location, and in the process, earn valuable prizes. The Penske Racing driver and Brad Keselowski Racing (BKR) team owner has designed the contest to provide fans with a new way to engage with him and each other throughout the 2013 NASCAR season.
Participants of "The Crew Challenge" can submit their thoughts, their pictures, and their videos about the races and Keselowski. Those submissions that strive to capture a unique perspective, make a statement, and show passion in telling the race story in a dynamic way will be rewarded. Submissions can include:
- Videos and photos taken at the actual race
- Relevant videos and photos taken anywhere else
- Stories and essays
- Race analysis and commentary
- Video game recreations and tributes
Fans earn points for each piece of content that is accepted by the BradRacing.com website editors. Points can also be earned when people like or share other fans' content. All of the accumulated points can then be used to purchase unique prizes such as Brad Keselowski autographed items, Penske Racing apparel, BKR race-used items, and products and merchandise from Penske Racing and BKR sponsors. New and different prizes will also be added throughout the season.
In addition, each fan's running point total will put him or her in a race against all other participants for even bigger prizes that will be awarded at the end of the NASCAR season. The fan who accumulates the most points by Sunday, November 24, 2013 will earn a trip for two (2) to the 2014 Daytona 500 as Keselowski's personal guests. Further, each of the 20 fans with the most points from the season will be rewarded with a special Brad Keselowski prize pack.
"As an avid social media user, I've seen first hand the passion and enthusiasm that fans have for our sport," said Keselowski. "'The Crew Challenge' takes this to a new level with the platform that we have developed for fans to share their stories."
Johnny Sauter's started from the pole for the Kroger 250 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Martinsville Speedway, but as good as his No. 98 Carolina Nut Co. / Curb Records Toyota practiced Friday, capped off by a fourth-place qualifying effort, Sauter's looking to repeat his winning performance from April 2011.
"It was good," Sauter said on pit road after doing a SPEED Channel interview for Friday night's SPEED News(9:30 p.m. ET). "Obviously you want more, but the truck was real stable and comfortable -- we just needed a little more speed, and I probably could've got that, but I just didn't.
"I probably could've made more time up, getting into the corner. But it rolled a pretty corner and we definitely can see (the leaders) from there."
Sauter will line up behind a pair of rookies on the front row, first-time pole-winner Jeb Burton and Darrell Wallace Jr., and perennial Truck Series title contender Timothy Peters. Sauter's fourth-place lap was only a tenth of a second off Burton's 19.589-second lap, an average speed of 96.6 mph.
"All in all I think we've got something that will race well, "Sauter said. "And qualifying fourth gives you a little bit of extra desire to want to get up there and lead the race."
Sauter's ThorSport Racing teammate Matt Crafton will line up seventh in his No. 88 Rip It Energy Fuel / Menards Toyota, but he feels like his truck is better than the one he led 33 laps with last fall in the Kroger 200, when Denny Hamlin biffed Crafton out of the way and stole the victory.
"I honestly didn't expect to have a pole run, because we didn't have a lot of one-lap speed (in practice)," Crafton said Friday. "But I blame some of qualifying seventh on me, because the first lap was really good so I tried a little bit too hard on the second lap, maybe tried to get a little bit too much...
"Like I said, I don't think it was gonna be a pole run, but what I can say is that I think we've got a really good truck in race trim, so that's gonna pay a lot more than just a pole."
Sauter was atop the speed chart for a good portion of the lone morning practice, ultimately ending up in second position, saying his truck "rotated in the center of the corner better than anything we've ever had here."
At one point, Sauter and Crafton were one-two on the speed chart before Crafton ended up ninth when the flurry of late practice qualifying runs were completed. But like Sauter had said, Crafton noted his truck was one of the best he'd ever had here, in his 23rd career Martinsville start -- which will also tie him with former ThorSport driver Terry Cook for the all-time Truck Series consecutive starts streak, with 296.
"It's definitely one of the better ones we've had," Crafton confirmed after qualifying. "Last fall we were really good and we've had some really good trucks here in the past but I hope we're ahead of the game with all the testing we did over at Sandusky (Speedway, in Ohio last week), so we'll be just fine, I think."
Todd Bodine's third ThorSport Truck, the No. 13 SealMaster Toyota, will line up 23rd, but Bodine and crew chief Jeriod Prince improved their truck radically between practice and qualifying and Prince said they had more of the same up their sleeves for pre-race.
"In qualifying the truck was a little throttle-tight, up off the corner, and we fought that throughout practice," Prince said. "But he said the truck was way better in qualifying than in practice and we feel like we can fix that for the race. We made some big changes for qualifying -- we figured we'd try some stuff -- and since it worked we'll go more for the race, because he liked it (in qualifying)."
Bodine's drawing positives from the fact that four of his eight career Martinsville top-10 finishes have come from starting positions beyond 20th -- including a third-place run in 2010 from 24th on the grid.
"It was a tough day but it's not where you start, it's where you finish," Bodine said. "I have two great teammates. We all work together and we will be good (in the race)."
Wrigley’s new Alert Energy Caffeine Gum will make its NASCAR Sprint Cup Series debut with Joe Gibbs Racing and driver Elliott Sadler on April 21 at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City, Kan. Sadler will pilot the No. 81 Alert Energy Camry there and at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway (May 5 and Oct. 20) for a total of three races during the 2013 race season.
The No. 81 Alert Energy Camry joins an all-star lineup of Mars, Inc. and Wrigley sponsors at Joe Gibbs Racing including Doublemint® gum, M&M’S® and SNICKERS® throughout the 2013 season.
“Wrigley and Mars are proud to continue our partnership with Joe Gibbs Racing and look forward to working with veteran driver Elliott Sadler,” said Tim Conlin, a senior brand manager at the Wrigley Co., a subsidiary of Mars, Inc. “And we’re especially excited to give NASCAR fans the chance to be among some of the first people to see and try Alert Energy.”
“I’m really looking forward to representing Alert Energy in the Sprint Cup Series,” said Elliott Sadler, driver of the No. 81 Camry. “I’ve been lucky to have a long history with Mars, Inc. and am very excited about working with them again in launching this new product. After trying it, I’m a big fan of Alert Energy gum. With my busy schedule, it helps keep me going from one thing to the next – so it’s a perfect match.”
Alert Energy is a new energy product available for adults 25-49 that lets people control the amount of caffeine they want on-the-go. Alert will be available nationwide starting in April.
Fans Invited to Watch NASCAR Driver Kurt Busch Take Over the Airways of ROCK 96.5 This Monday in Richmond
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Kurt Busch is coming to the Richmond area, and fans are invited to participate in a public Q&A event and limited autograph session this Monday, April 8 at the Mechanicsville TGI Friday’s. Following the Q&A and autograph session, Busch, who is the defending NASCAR Nationwide Series spring race winner at Richmond International Raceway, will take over the controls of the Rock 96.5 live broadcast at the Mechanicsville TGI Friday’s, located at 8100 Creighton Parkway, Mechanicsville, VA 23111.
Starting at 4:00 p.m., the first 96 people who register at Richmond International Raceway’s display at the restaurant will receive a wristband, guaranteeing them a Kurt Busch autograph, and will also be entered to win a VIP package for the NASCAR weekend at Richmond International Raceway. The package will include a pair of tickets for Thursday night’s BLUE OX 100 NASCAR K&N Pro Series East race and Denny Hamlin Short Track Showdown presented by FedEx, Friday night’s ToyotaCare 250 NASCAR Nationwide Series race and Saturday night’s Toyota Owners 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race, as well as a pair of pre-race pit passes for the Saturday, April 27, Toyota Owners 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race. Rock 96.5 will also throw in some awesome rock gear for the VIP package winner and Monster Energy Drinks will be on-site with giveaways.
Fans are encouraged to visit TGI Friday’s this Monday to participate in the Q&A session, which is scheduled to begin at 6:00 p.m. At 7:00 p.m., fans can catch Busch on Rock 96.5 with host Mason, as they broadcast the show live from TGI Friday’s, playing some of Busch’s favorite hits.
The Lady in Black, as Darlington Raceway has been notably named for decades, will have a new face in 2013 as Paige Duke will serve as the track’s official “The Lady in Black” for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Bojangles’ Southern 500 race weekend on May 10-11.
Duke, a former Miss Sprint Cup and current model, will be present during the race weekend and other track events throughout the year proudly wearing a black fire suit and representing Darlington Raceway. Her local ties are in the state of South Carolina as she hails from nearby Lancaster, S.C. and is a graduate of Clemson University.
“I am honored to be “The Lady in Black” for Darlington Raceway. This is one of the most exciting opportunities I have ever had and definitely is the closest to my heart. I love Darlington Raceway,” Duke said. “I grew up going to races there with my Dad and we always pass the track on the way to the beach. There is just something special about this track. It just reminds me of the good ole’ days…real, exciting racing!
“There is so much history there and such a connection with many South Carolinians from Hall of fame drivers, to a Miss Sprint Cup, to the fans! My distant cousin is Harold Brasington, who built the track. It will always be the original crown jewel of racing!”
Besides her role serving as Miss Sprint Cup in 2010-11, Duke is the national spokesperson for Kruger Farms, an online outdoor outfitter in Minnesota, and was cast in the CMT hit show Sweet Home Alabama for two seasons in 2011 and 2012. She is also a model for various national campaigns and works as a veterinary technician in Lancaster.
The “Lady in Black” slogan was first used in the mid-1960’s when reporters covering the race from the press box referred to it as such, stemming from the black asphalt, which was considered “the dress” of a track known for being treacherously difficult to drive.
The fierce competition and the toughness that the track brings to the sport has made the Lady in Black what it is today, the track Too Tough to Tame.
“Paige Duke is the perfect fit to serve as our Lady in Black,” Darlington Raceway President Chris Browning said. “She is a local South Carolinian who is bringing the Lady in Black to life. Darlington Raceway is special in the sport of NASCAR racing and she is the best person to fulfill this unique role for us.”
Darlington Raceway PR
Officials with Kansas Speedway and Hy-Vee, Inc. today announced a partnership agreement that makes Hy-Vee the Official Grocer and Tailgate Pit Stop of the Kansas Speedway.
“I’m excited to announce this partnership with Hy-Vee, especially as our race fans start getting ready for the first races of the year at Kansas Speedway,” said Kansas Speedway President Patrick Warren.
Hy-Vee operates 26 full-service supermarkets throughout Kansas and the Kansas City metro area. Randy Edeker, Chairman, President and CEO of Hy-Vee, said the company has planned special events throughout the year to promote the Speedway and enhance the fan experience.
“We want racing fans to think of Hy-Vee as their one-shop pit stop,” Edeker said. “Our stores will be hosting ticket giveaways and other activities as well as offering great deals on food and beverages for tailgating.”
Kansas Speedway PR
Brad Keselowski's Checkered Flag Foundation (CFF) will once again bring its exciting Race to Recovery program to benefit wounded service members and their loved ones to five race tracks in 2013.
2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion and foundation President Brad Keselowski loves to spend time with the R2R honorees and looks forward to each event, as he says it keeps his life balanced.
"I am a firm believer in showing someone my appreciation for his or her sacrifices and the Race to Recovery program allows me to do that," Keselowski said. "I feel like life is about balance--I couldn't do what I do on the racetrack without these men and women making the sacrifices they do for me. It means a lot for me to have the opportunity to bring them out and show them a good time the best way I know how."
with a new, exciting patriotic paint scheme that includes a custom
In 2013, leading Kimberly-Clark brand, SCOTT® Car Care has become a major partner with the CFF to help the program continue to meet its number one metric -- to put smiles back on the faces of those heroes who have sacrificed so much for our country-allowing them to enjoy a VIP NASCAR race experience with the people closest to them and surrounded by fellow veterans. As a part of the Worth the Work, Pass it on campaign, SCOTT® Car Care has joined forces with CFF and its R2R program to provide unique experiences for the veterans.
"SCOTT® Car Care is thrilled to partner with Brad Keselowski's Checkered Flag Foundation to help provide this unique group of car enthusiasts with an experience of a lifetime," said Charlotte Ciccone, Associate Customer Marketing Manager for Kimberly- Clark Professional. "The mission of the CFF strongly aligns with our emotionally-rooted Worth the Work, Pass it on campaign, where we strive to recognize the hard work and great reward our loyal end users deserve."
Working with the Veterans Administration and other military hospitals to select candidates, CFF identifies wounded veterans around the country who have worked hard to persevere beyond their injuries. The idea is to inspire and incentivize those who are working hard to meet milestones in their treatment with a three-day VIP Race Experience, capped off with a ride along in a custom-built two-seat Ford Fusion race car with foundation President Brad Keselowski. Typically, six veterans along with one "crew chief," an individual who has had significant impact upon the veteran in his or her recovery process, per market are invited for the three-day experience.
In addition, another large group of veterans and their guests are invited to watch either the Saturday or Sunday race in the CFF suite at the race track. VA case managers determine the individuals who receive suite tickets, with an emphasis on rewarding those who have met certain milestones in their treatment.
A couple of rookies in their first NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race at Martinsville Speedway captured the front for Saturday’s Kroger 250 at Martinsville Speedway.
Twenty-year-old Jeb Burton set a track record in winning the pole for Saturday’s race while Darrell Wallace Jr., 19, captured the second starting position.
Burton’s fast lap of 19.589 seconds (96.666 mph) broke the old record of 19.641 seconds (96.641) set by Timothy Peters last fall.
"I was crying like a baby when I got out of that race car. It means a whole lot to me and my family,” said Burton, son of former Daytona 500 winner Ward Burton. “It's really cool for my sponsor to have out of South Boston too. I worked really hard to get here. I'm really happy.
"I knew if I won or got the pole, I'm going to be emotional -- anywhere, especially here. Like I said, it means something to me. I live it. I eat it. I sleep it. It's just a passion of mine and I'm just thankful to be in front of you all right now."
Peters qualified third followed former Martinsville winner Johnny Sauter and rookie German Quiroga.
Tickets for Saturday’s Kroger 250 are $35 and may be purchased at the track Saturday.
Martinsville Speedway PR
The Commonwealth of Virginia honored NASCAR diversity trailblazer Wendell Scott with a historical highway marker in his hometown of Danville, Va., to celebrate his legacy as the first African-American to win a race in what is now known as the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. Scott broke racial barriers in NASCAR over his 13-year career at NASCAR’s top level that included 20 top-five and 147 top-ten finishes in 495 starts.
“The Commonwealth of Virginia is deep with NASCAR heritage and support,” said NASCAR President Mike Helton. “Wendell Scott is very much a part of NASCAR’s and Virginia’s history. We join others in thanking the Commonwealth of Virginia for the honor they are bestowing on Mr. Scott, one that is well deserved. The Scott family has been instrumental to NASCAR as we developed our multicultural efforts, and it was Wendell Scott who served as such an inspiration to us all.”
During the ceremony, Danville Mayor Sherman Saunders declared April 5, 2013 as Wendell Scott Day and his restored No. 11 race car was displayed along with cars exhibited by Occoneechee Historic Speedway Group, Early Dirt Racers of Virginia and North Carolina and the Old Timers Racing Club.
Aside from Helton and Saunders; other speakers included: Earl Reynolds, Danville director of community development; Sarah Latham, president of the Danville Historical Society; Kathleen S. Kilpatrick, director of the Department of Historic Resources; and Wendell Scott, Jr.
“Our father was a proud Virginian, so this honor from the Virginia Department of Historic Resources is very humbling,” said Sybil Scott, daughter of the late Scott. “We believe daddy is with us in spirit, smiling on his friends, peers, family and especially his fans and our mother who are witnessing the fruits of his labor. The historic marker stands tall and today’s representation by local, state and NASCAR officials assure that his struggles against the odds, but more importantly, his accomplishments are undeniable.”
Scott, who officially retired from racing in 1973 and passed away in 1990, enjoyed a prolific career that spanned well beyond NASCAR’s premier series. In 1959, he won both the NASCAR Sportsman Division Virginia championship and the Sportsman Division championship at Southside Speedway in Richmond, Va. In 1957, Scott finished third in the Virginia standings behind NASCAR Hall of Famer Ned Jarrett. Since his retirement, he has been inducted into 13 halls of fame, including the International Motorsports Hall of Fame. Last year, Scott was among the 25 nominees up for induction into the NASCAR Hall of Fame.
During his career, Scott blazed a trail of diversity that extends to today’s NASCAR. This season, NASCAR is home to several diverse and female drivers in its three national series, including Danica Patrick, Juan Pablo Montoya, Aric Almirola, Nelson Piquet, Jr., Kyle Larson, Miguel Paludo, Johanna Long, Juan Carlos Blum, German Quiroga and Darrell Wallace, Jr.
“The story of Wendell Scott reminds us all of what gritty determination and eyes-on-the-prize perseverance can accomplish,” said Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell. “I applaud Danville for working with the Commonwealth in recognizing Scott’s singular achievements. I am also grateful to NASCAR for celebrating Scott’s legacy this weekend in Danville and at the Martinsville Speedway, a remaining original NASCAR track, and bringing the story of Scott and Virginia’s motorsports legacy to the nation and racing fans around the world.”
Virginia’s historical highway marker program, which began in 1927 with the installation of the first historical markers along U.S. Route 1, is considered the oldest such program in the nation. Currently there are more than 2,200 official state markers, most maintained by the Virginia Department of Transportation, as well as by local partners in jurisdictions outside of VDOT’s authority such as Danville.
The next NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race will be The STP Gas Booster 500 on April 7 at 1 p.m. ET. It will air on FOX, FOX Deportes, Motor Racing Network Radio and SiriusXM Radio with additional coverage on NASCAR.COM.