Wednesday, Feb 01
Speedway Digest Staff

Speedway Digest Staff

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Travis Kvapil and the No. 93 Burger King / Dr. Pepper Toyota Camry team finished 27th at Michigan International Speedway on Sunday afternoon.  With a fast car, the team had to fight back through the running order after a pit road incident slowed their pace early in the day.


Kvapil and the No. 93 BK Racing team worked hard throughout three practice sessions at the two-mile track in Brooklyn, Mich., to determine the best race setup for their Toyota Camry.  Prepared for long green-flag runs and changing track conditions, the BK Racing team rolled off in the 41st position on Sunday afternoon.  With a solid setup and a fast car, Kvapil was able to race his No. 93 Burger King / Dr. Pepper Toyota Camry all the way up to the 25th position in just the opening 20 laps. 


Heavy rain early Sunday morning washed the rubber off the track and led NASCAR to call for a competition caution on lap 20.  More than halfway through a fuel run, the leaders came into the pits leaving nearly 40 cars on a tight pit road.  Without much room to maneuver Kvapil and another competitor made contact, which resulted in fender damage on the No. 93 Burger King / Dr. Pepper Camry.  Knowing the importance of aerodynamics at the fastest track in NASCAR, the BK Racing crew worked to repair their car and get Kvapil back on track.  Slightly hindered by the damaged aerodynamics, the BK Racing team utilized each remaining pit stop to work on their Camry, make adjustments, and assist Kvapil on his race through the field. 


Under caution on lap 133, Kvapil was in a position to stay on the track and inherit and lead during pit stops, while also earning a bonus point for the championship point standings.  After pitting, Kvapil returned to the track and set a steady pace to maintain his position inside the top 30.  Following 400 miles of racing, the No. 93 Burger King / Dr. Pepper Toyota Camry crossed the finish line in the 27th position. 


"Our No. 93 Burger King / Dr. Pepper Toyota Camry started off the race really strong today," commented Kvapil.  "We got a little fender damage on pit road early in the race, and unfortunately the car was never really the same.  The BK Racing guys did a great job making adjustments to try to improve the car, and even putting us in a position to lead a couple laps.  This was our first of two trips to Michigan this season; I'm excited to see what we're able to accomplish when we come back in August." 


BK Racing PR

David Reutimann and the No. 83 Burger King / Dr. Pepper Toyota team finished 32nd at Michigan International Speedway on Sunday afternoon. 


Racing just outside "Motor City" formally known as Detroit, Mich., competitors in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series fight for not only the top spot, but also bragging rights for their manufacturer.  Race teams spent the three practice sessions at the two-mile track preparing for high speeds, long green flag runs and changing track conditions at NASCAR's fastest track.  While some teams looked to break the 200 mph barrier for their average lap speed, Reutimann and the No. 83 Burger King / Dr. Pepper Camry spent their time dialing in the balance of their car to prepare for Sunday's Quicken Loans 400. 


As temperatures and the track heated up throughout the weekend, Reutimann started to experience a "loose in" condition entering the corners.  The BK Racing team worked through a variety of options, but was challenged to find the setup that was right for Reutimann's driving style.  An even bigger hurdle was thrown at the No. 83 Burger King / Dr. Pepper team when a heavy rainstorm early Sunday morning washed most of the rubber off the racing surface and changed track conditions for Sunday's race. 


Faced with a green track and rising temperatures, Reutimann's loose-in condition persisted throughout most of Sunday's 400-mile race.  The No. 83 crew utilized each pit stop to make adjustments and work on the Burger King / Dr. Pepper Toyota Camry, while Reutimann maintained his position on the track.  After 200 laps at the fast Michigan International Speedway, Reutimann crossed the finish line in the 32nd position.   


"Our No. 83 Burger King / Dr. Pepper Toyota Camry team worked very hard this weekend to get the right setup on our car, but we weren't able to shake the loose-in condition that we fought most of the weekend," commented Reutimann.  "We unloaded fast, but once the track started to heat up, we just couldn't rotate through the corners like we needed.  The guys have done a great job developing our setup every other week this year, so I'm not going to let this break our momentum.  I'm looking forward to getting to Sonoma next weekend to race in our first road course event of the season.  It's an entirely different experience from what we do every other week, so I'm excited to see what we are able to do."


BK Racing PR

Despite some obstacles Mike Bliss and his No. 19 TriStar Motorsports crew battled in the hills of Michigan on the fast two mile oval. With a little adversity Bliss and his Toyota Camry started the Alliance Truck Parts 250 from the 28thposition.

Within the first few laps, Bliss jumped into the top-20 and stayed there for 30 laps until he started feeling loose conditions with his car. “When I try to ark it in the corner I get loose,” said Bliss.  Bliss came in for a green flag pit stop at lap 30 for four Goodyear tires, a track bar adjustment and fuel. 

Bliss headed back to track in the 26th position to test out the adjustments his team just made.  Racing up to the 16th position, 20 laps later Bliss said, “I’m still loose even when I’m by myself.”

At lap 64, a caution fell for debris. Bliss and his Crew Chief Paul Clapprood decided to take two tires and make another track bar adjustment and top their Toyota off on Sunoco race fuel.

Upon the restart Bliss was mid-pack and spun racing off of turn two. Without a caution, Bliss regained control of his No. 19 Toyota Camry and continued racing.  “I’m just thankful no one hit me when I spun,” said Bliss

Another caution for debris fell soon after Bliss’ incident.  Bliss and Clapprood decided to pit to take four tires, pull a tear off and make another track bar adjustment.

With 27 laps to go in the Alliance Auto Parts 250 the final caution fell. Bliss was running in the 21st position and decided to hit pit road for final adjustments. Bliss’ crew made a tire pressure adjustment, changed only two tires and took a splash of fuel. 

Restarting 22nd with only 12 cars on the lead lap, Bliss held on to his ill handling Toyota and  gained one spot to finish 21st at Michigan International Speedway. 

“My team worked really hard this weekend; we had solid pit stops and adjustments. Even though I’m not satisfied with where we finished, I spun and brought the car home in one piece, so that’s not too bad of an effort,” said Bliss.

The finish at Michigan is Bliss’ second finish out of the top-20 this season, breaking an 11 race streak of top-15 and top-20 finishes.  Bliss still maintains the 12th position in the NASCAR Nationwide Series driver point standings,  as he and his team look ahead to the first road course of the season; Road America.


Fifth Third Bank is the new Preferred Bank of Kentucky Speedway and will bring race fans Kids Zone activities throughout the venue's June 27-29Quaker State 400 presented by Advance Auto Parts tripleheader NASCAR weekend.

The new Fifth Third Bank Kids Zone will offer free activities for children of all ages highlighted by a question-and-answer session on Friday, June 29 from 11:30 a.m. to noon. The Q&A session with feature five-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) championship Crew Chief, Chad Knaus of Jimmie Johnson's No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports team.

Young fans also will have the chance to explore the Fifth Third Bank No. 17 Ford Fusion Show Car driven by Ricky Stenhouse Jr ., throughout the day. Fifth Third Bank Kids Zone visitors will additionally enjoy giveaways, a cool zone, free popsicles, pit tire challenge, Hot Wheels™ car game, balloon artists, a clown, face painting and more throughout the weekend.

"We are pleased to welcome Fifth Third to our family of corporate partners as our organizations share the goals of providing outstanding customer service and executing innovative marketing ideas. Fans will notice Fifth Third's presence in the Kids Zone and throughout our venue during our event weekend. We are only scratching the surface of what our partnership can achieve in the future," Kentucky Speedway General Manager Mark Simendinger said.

The Kentucky Speedway banking partnership provides a regional complement to Fifth Third Bank's NSCS Roush Fenway Racing program. The Quaker State 400 presented by Advance Auto Parts is one of four series events this season in which Stenhouse, Jr.'s machine will display the Fifth Third Bank logo and signature colors. Fifth Third Bank will continue to engage prospective and existing customers throughout the year with its No. 17 show car and race simulator.

"Fifth Third Bank is excited and proud to become the Preferred Bank of Kentucky Speedway. This partnership enhances the Bank's opportunity to engage NASCAR's loyal fan-base and the speedway provides a great venue for both client and employee engagement opportunities," said Tom Partridge, president and CEO, Fifth Third Bank (Kentucky).

The June 29 Quaker State 400 presented by Advance Auto will provide the finale to Kentucky Speedway's tripleheader weekend. Action opens June 27 with the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series UNOH 225 and continues June 29 with the NASCAR Nationwide Series Feed The Children 300.


Sonoma Raceway will honor its long-time spokesman John Cardinale during the 25thToyota/Save Mart 350 weekend.

Cardinale, who passed away in March after a two-year battle with stage IV gastric cancer, will be inducted into the raceway’s Wall of Fame and the raceway will rename its media center the “John Cardinale Media Center” during a ceremony in the Wine Country Winner’s Circle on Friday, June 21, at 10:15 a.m.

Cardinale’s likeness will be engraved onto the raceway’s Wall of Fame, which is located on the back of the Main Grandstand in the main paddock, and a bas relief bronze plaque will be hung in the John Cardinale Media Center.

After joining the raceway in 1998, Cardinale quickly established himself as one of the most respected representatives within the motorsports industry, and he was promoted to Vice President of Media and Community Relations in 2003. He was well known for creative and quirky media stunts, including driver ride-alongs with the California Highway Patrol and driving race cars across the Golden Gate Bridge. Cardinale also bolstered the raceway’s community profile through community events, including food drives, blood drives and holiday parties for families in need. He also served as Vice President of Communications & Marketing from 2007-2012.

Cardinale was frequently recognized for his efforts, including being named NASCAR Track PR Representative of the Year in 2009, and, most recently, receiving the National Motorsports Press Association (NMPA) Spirit Award in May.

“John was not only our dear friend and colleague, he was a major contributor to the growth and success of this organization,” said Steve Page, president and general manager of Sonoma Raceway. “Although he is not with us physically, his spirit surrounds us and carries forward in everything we do.  These two tributes will ensure John has a permanent presence at the raceway and provide us a daily reminder of how fortunate we were to have him in our lives.”

Prior to joining Sonoma Raceway, Cardinale worked for 10 years as a sports reporter and editor, including five years at Contra Costa Newspapers, a prominent daily newspaper group in the East Bay.  Cardinale was a graduate of San Francisco State University.

Cardinale was a resident of Martinez in the Easy Bay and is survived by Andrea, his wife of 18 years, and two young daughters, Emma and Lauren.

Sonoma Raceway PR







00 Cole Custer, Ladera Ranch, Calif. * Haas Automation Chevrolet Ken Schrader Matt Goslant
1 Johnny VanDoorn, Coopersville, Mich. * Karl Performance Chevrolet Dave Davis Clinton Cram
2 Ryan Gifford, Winchester, Tenn. Universal Technical Institute/NTI Toyota Max Siegel Mark Green
4 Bryan Ortiz, Bayamon, Puerto Rico Rev Racing Toyota Max Siegel Eddie Dickerson
6 Daniel Suárez, Monterrey, Mexico Rev Racing Toyota Max Siegel Skip Eyler
11 Brett Moffitt, Grimes, Iowa Saitama Toyopet Toyota Shigeaki Hattori Dave McCarty
18 Sam Hunt, Midlothian, Va. Denny Hamlin Foundation/DOW Toyota Shayne Lockhart Shayne Lockhart
19 Chuck Buchanan Jr., Hildebrand, N.C. * Spring Drug Chevrolet Chuck Buchanan Jr. Craig Wood
20 Gray Gaulding, Colonial Heights, Va. * Krispy Kreme Doughnuts Toyota Steve Urvan Doug George
21 Mackena Bell, Carson City, Nev. * Toyota Racing Development Toyota Max Siegel Nick Hutchins
34 Kenzie Ruston, El Reno, Okla. * AccuDoc Solutions Chevrolet Harry Scott Jr. Rich Burgdoff
37 Trey Hutchens, Lexington, N.C. * Spraker Racing Enterprises Chevrolet Jeff Spraker Jeff Spraker
46 Brandon Gdovic, Yorktown, Va. Communications Toyota Rick Gdovic Ron Otto
47 Cale Conley, Vienna, W.Va. PMC/Tait Towers Toyota Yale Conley Wes Ward
49 Josh Reaume, Redlands, Calif. * MacDonald Motorsports Dodge Jenifer MacDonald Randy MacDonald
63 John Salemi, Nashua, N.H. John Salemi Racing Toyota Joe Salemi Kevin Salemi
71 Eddie MacDonald, Rowley, Mass. Grimm Const./National MS Society Chevrolet Rob Grimm Rollie Lachance
72 Scott Heckert, Ridgefield, Conn. * Project Lifesaver Chevrolet BJ McLeod BJ McLeod
73 Daniel Graeff, Miami, Fla. * Creation Cope Racing Chevrolet Derrike Cope Jacob Richardson
81 Jeremy Burns, Simpsonville, S.C. * Williams-Ebeling Enterprises Toyota Michael Burns Ben Ebeling
89 Matt Tifft, Hinkley, Ohio * DOC 360 Chevrolet Kevin Cywinski Shane Tesch
96 Ben Kennedy, Daytona Beach, Fla. Emco Gears/Mac Tools/Mechanix Wear Chevrolet Robert Johnson Mike Fritts
97 Jesse Little, Sherrills Ford, N.C. * NASCAR Technical Institute Chevrolet Jason Little Kris Bowen
98 Dylan Kwasniewski, Las Vegas, Nev. Royal Purple/Rockstar Energy Drink Chevrolet Mike Curb Mardy Lindley
99 Austin Dyne, Malibu, Calif. KMC Wheels Chevrolet Steve Turner Raymond Holm Jr.

8 a.m. Haulers Park
7:30 a.m. Garage Opens
12-12:45 p.m. Practice
1:15-2 p.m. Final Practice
3:45 p.m. Driver/Crew Chief Meeting
4:30 p.m. Qualifying
5:30 p.m. Driver Autograph Session
8:30 p.m. Race (175 Laps, 70 Miles)

For the second year in a row, the NASCAR Foundation has recognized Michigan International Speedway’s charitable and community efforts, naming the racetrack its “Track of the Year.”

Of note, the NASCAR Foundation lauded the speedway’s “Track and Explore” program, a partnership with Adrian College that teaches area youth about nature and conservancy with a series of field trips to MIS.

“All our employees and volunteers are truly passionate about giving back to our community,” speedway president Roger Curtis said. “This is where we work, live and play. And it’s up to us to be involved and to make our community stronger. We will always be a leader in the community for community giving.”

The speedway was also cited for awarding $75,000 in 2012 to local charities through MIS Cares, the speedway’s official platform.

Through annual programs such as Fish Your Bass Off, NASCAR Unites, Extreme Bus Make Over, the track’s annual Charity Drive and Racing to Read and its Spirit of America blood drive, Michigan International Speedway has fostered a community-minded effort, as well as raised funds for charities, big and small, and charitable work.

Michigan International Speedway annually hosts the Spirit of America, the nation’s largest 9-11 blood drive. But that’s not all. Besides its annual fund-raisers and community involvement efforts, MIS Cares also partnered with the Ryan Newman Foundation and Brad Keselowski’s Checkered Flag Foundation to help those NASCAR drivers with their efforts.

Fish Your Bass Off is an annual fishing tournament held at Jerry’s Pub during the track’s August NASCAR weekend. Working with NASCAR driver Ryan Newman, his wife Krissie, ESPN’s Mark Zona and fishing legend Kevin VanDam, the track raised funds and hosted guests looking for a great time fishing on scenic Wamplers Lake.

MIS also worked with Michigan native Brad Keselowski and his Checkered Flag Foundation in June to host injured soldiers and veterans for a day at the races with the driver’s Race to Recovery program.

Striving to be the track that gives back the most to its fans and local and state communities, MIS president Roger Curtis was very proud of the speedway’s achievement.

“It’s an honor to be named the NASCAR Foundation’s ‘Track of the Year,” Curtis said. “But for two years. That’s incredible. We are just so proud of MIS Cares and what it has done for the local and state communities. We are always striving to improve every year and this achievement recognizes our efforts.”

Since 2006, the NASCAR Foundation has contributed more than $15 Million in charitable support and helped provide medical treatment for more than 24,000 children annually at Speediatrics, fulfilled more than 2,000 NASCAR Dreams, helped provide 1236 summer camp experiences for children with special needs, recruited 12,000 fans to become part of a Volunteer Network and created educational opportunities for school-aged students that help to engage them in science and engineering programs.


Debuting a new sponsor and returning to a track that Cole Whitt had not finished out of the top-10 at , Michigan International Speedway posed some confidence for him and his TriStar team.  At the end of the NASCAR Nationwide Series one & only practice in the “Irish Hills”, Whitt and Crew Chief Randy Cox felt they had a good Takagi Toyota Camry for Saturday’s Alliance Truck Parts 250.

“After trying things to find some balance in the No. 44 Takagi Camry, I consulted my teammates a little to make sure I was getting all I could out of the car and track,” said Whitt.

Whitt and his Takagi Camry started in the 23rd position at Michigan and quickly rallied into the top-20 within the first 10 laps of the race.  An early caution came at lap seven; riding in the 19th position Whitt said “the car seems alright, there’s just a lot going on out here.” 

Whitt was fighting a loose Takagi Camry when the next caution fell. Whitt and Cox decided to take two tires and a full tank of Sunoco race fuel.  Restarting in the 28th position, Whitt was quick to maneuver the No. 44 back into the top-20.

Whitt said, “I feel like I’m fighting the car, I’m free in and tight in the center.” Cox replied, “10-4” and they went to work on a game plan for their next pit stop.  At lap 64, a caution fell for debris and Whitt said,” I feel a vibration in the drive train area.” 

Bringing the Takagi Camry down pit road for four fresh Goodyear’s and fuel, the crew checked over Whitt’s concern, returning him to the track in 18th position.

Whitt stayed there for the next 20 laps before racing p to the 14th position, until a caution fell for debris.  “The car is good in the corners, I just can’t get up off the straight away,” exclaimed Whitt. 

Another debris caution came with 27 laps to go; Whitt sat in the 16th position on the restart. Rain sprinkles began to fall as Whitt took the checkered flag bringing the Takagi Camry home in the 15th position.

“My guys worked really hard all day and never gave up,” said Whitt. “We seemed to have run over some debris that shot up and knocked off one of our headers; these Pro Motor Engines are so strong that we didn’t skip a beat and still claimed a top-15 finish.”

Whitt continued, “I’m proud of our efforts over the past few weeks. I can’t say enough about the strength of my team.  I also greatly appreciate the support from Takagi and team owners Mark and Kathy Smith, without their support this wouldn’t be possible.”

With the top-15 finish Whitt moved the No. 44 Takagi Toyota up five spots in the Owner Point Standings to 22nd.  Whitt will be behind the wheel again this weekend as the NASCAR Nationwide Series will take on road course No. 1 on the schedule; Road America.


NASCAR announced a new multi-year official agreement with HP, aligning two brands that are committed to innovation. The new alliance designates HP as an Official Technology Partner of NASCAR and marks the expansion of a relationship that began one year ago when the companies collaborated on the development of the Fan and Media Engagement Center (FMEC). The agreement is structured to incentivize continued investment in the FMEC while exploring areas for future innovation throughout the sport.

“The expanded alliance underscores our commitment to accelerate the adoption of cutting-edge technology across our sport,” said Steve Phelps, NASCAR chief marketing officer. “NASCAR has proven to be an effective vehicle to drive innovation and will be a powerful platform for HP to showcase its state-of-the-art products, services and solutions.”

The FMEC formally launched in January 2013 and has already benefitted the NASCAR industry by providing business-impacting information tailored to specific audiences within the NASCAR ecosystem, including race teams, tracks and partners. The state-of-the-art facility enables near real-time analysis and response to traditional, digital and social media. Housed in a 500-square-foot, glass-enclosed area, outfitted with state-of-the-art touch screens, television monitors and multiple seated viewing areas and work stations, the FMEC is the centerpiece to the newly designed offices that house NASCAR Digital.

“As the largest spectator sport in the U.S., NASCAR needs to stay on the cutting-edge of technology to innovate and deliver an engaging, fulfilling experience for its fans around the world,” said Charles Salameh, vice president, HP. “As the only company that can provide access to such a broad portfolio of products and services, HP will work with NASCAR to drive and accelerate innovation.”

As part of this integrated collaboration, HP will make its debut as a member of the NASCAR Fuel For Business Council at the event in San Francisco and participate in a Technology and Innovation panel. The Council brings together an exclusive group of more than 60 Official NASCAR Partners four times per year to buy and sell products and services from one another. This exclusive business-to-business environment offers unique opportunities for many FORTUNE 500 companies to bypass the time and layers of corporate coordination that may exist to construct customized deals that help address specific business needs.

The world’s largest technology company and an industry leader in IT services and product development, HP becomes the second blue-chip brand to join the stable of NASCAR Official Partners in the past two months. According to a recent analysis of sponsors currently in the sport, nearly one-in-four (117) FORTUNE 500 companies use NASCAR as part of their marketing mix. HP currently ranks 15th on the FORTUNE 500 list, joining Official Partners Mobil 1, General Motors, Ford Motor Company and Bank of America as companies that rank in the top 25.


With new challenges facing the teams this weekend, five-time Sonoma Raceway winner Jeff Gordon will rely on the past ahead of Sunday's Toyota/Save Mart 350.


To prepare for the first of two road course events on the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series calendar, Gordon and the No. 24 Drive To End Hunger team tested at Road Atlanta a few weeks ago. But that test may prove more beneficial later this year.


"I don't think we have ever been able to find one track that simulates Sonoma the way we feel like we need one to," said Gordon, who is the all-time NASCAR leader in road course victories with nine. "There are a couple different corners that we try to compare 'characteristics' of some things we might be dealing with at Sonoma, but I think we learn more for Watkins Glen when we test at Road Atlanta.


"It's been nearly a year since we raced on a road course, so that test was just getting back on one - shifting, down-shifting, left turns, right turns. Sort of 'general' testing.


"And to recognize what we may be dealing with this weekend based on past experience."


Along with his record five victories in 20 starts, Gordon also tops these categories at the 1.99-mile track: poles (5), top-fives (12), top-10's (16) and laps led (450). But he has yet to race the new Generation-6 car at the serpentine track.


"The new car is something we've never raced at Sonoma," said Gordon, who fell to 16th in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series standings after being collected in a lap-6 accident last weekend. "We ran pretty decent in the older generation car here last year, and we feel pretty confident we can tune the Chevrolet SS this weekend."


Another challenge facing the teams is a new qualifying procedure on the road courses. Instead of a single car, one-lap qualifying run on Friday, drivers will be sent out in groups on Saturday and can possibly complete multiple laps.


 "I'm really anxious to try it out to see how it works," said the native of Vallejo. "In the past, we've seen drivers run a good lap in practice and then struggle to back it up in qualifying. It was difficult to get temperature in the brakes and the tires in the limited time we had to get up to speed before the qualifying lap began.


"Now, we're going to have as much time as we need to get the car ready for that lap."




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