Wednesday, Feb 08
Speedway Digest Staff

Speedway Digest Staff

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The NASCAR HOTPASS lineup for the Irwin Tools Night Race at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway is as follows:  

DIRECTV Channel 795:

Danica Patrick and the No. 10 GoDaddy.com Chevrolet team of Tommy Baldwin Racing

Danica Patrick will make her fourth career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series start and her first at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway … The 30-year-old Roscoe, Ill., native is running a 10-race Sprint Cup schedule in 2012 in preparation for a full-time schedule in 2013 … Finished fourth in a NASCAR Nationwide Series race in March at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, the best-ever finish by a woman in a NASCAR national stock-car series, topping a fifth-place run by Sarah Christian in a Sprint Cup race in 1949 at Heidelberg (Pa.) Raceway … Became the first woman to win a major-league open-wheel race in a North American series in April 2009 at the IZOD IndyCar Series Indy Japan 300 at the Twin Ring Motegi oval in Japan … Started 40th and finished 30th in her last Sprint Cup start in May at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway. 

DIRECTV Channel 796:

Clint Bowyer and the No. 15 5-Hour Energy Toyota team of Michael Waltrip Racing

Clint Bowyer will make his 241st career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series start and his 14th at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway … Has six top-10 finishes in 13 starts at Bristol … The 33-year-old Emporia, Kan., native has six wins and 108 top-10 finishes in 240 Sprint Cup starts … 2012 marks Bowyer’s seventh full year in Sprint Cup with a career-best points finish of third in 2007 … Won 2008 NASCAR Nationwide Series championship … Started 12th and finished seventh last week at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn … Ranks seventh in Sprint Cup Series points with one win and 13 top-10 finishes.  

DIRECTV Channel 797:

Kevin Harvick and the No. 29 Rheem Chevrolet team of Richard Childress Racing

Kevin Harvick will make his 418th career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series start and his 24th at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway … Has one win (April 2005) and 12 top-10 finishes in 23 starts at Bristol … The 36-year-old Bakersfield, Calif., native has 18 wins and 183 top-10 finishes in 417 Sprint Cup starts …Won 2001 and 2006 NASCAR Nationwide Series championships … 2012 marks Harvick’s 12th full year in Sprint Cup with a career-best points finish of third in 2010 … Started 20th and finished 16th last week at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn … Ranks eighth in Sprint Cup Series points with nine top-10 finishes.      

DIRECTV Channel 798:

Dale Earnhardt Jr., and the No. 88 National Guard/Diet Mountain Dew Chevrolet team of Hendrick Motorsports

Dale Earnhardt Jr., will make his 459th career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series start and his 26th at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway … Has one win (August 2004) and 12 top-10 finishes in 25 starts at Bristol … The 37-year-old Kannapolis, N.C., native has won 19 races and has 178 top-10 finishes in 458 Sprint Cup starts … Won 1998 and 1999 NASCAR Nationwide Series championships … 2012 marks Earnhardt’s 13th full year in Sprint Cup with a career-best points finish of third in 2003… Started 22nd and finished fourth last week at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn … Ranks third in Sprint Cup Series points with one win and 16 top-10 finishes.

TSC

Joe Gibbs Racing has launched a new weekly JGR Race Infographic feature available online at its website at www.joegibbsracing.com, its JGR iCrew App, and its social media outlets on Twitter (@joegibbsracing) and Facebook.

In an effort to better serve NASCAR fans, the JGR Race Infographic was designed to provide short pre-race information on the track as well as the keys to that week’s race in a short, attractive and colorful format. The idea is to not only inform the most die-hard NASCAR fan of what they should be look for in the coming weekend, but also appeal to the casual fan that would like to be better informed of what to expect when they sit down to watch the race at the track or in front of their television sets

JGR chose to use infographics, because it presents complex information in a concise, easy to read, and visually appealing format that NASCAR fans can quickly share through social media and reference during the race on their smart phones and tablets at the track or from their personal computers at home. Infographics are growing in popularity across the Internet. The Washington Post blog, “On Small Business” published an article this year reporting the increasing popularity of infographics as a tool of communication for organizations and the receptiveness of the Internet audience to these graphics.

Each infographic that JGR creates has its own unique visual identity to reflect the personality of the track. The infographics follow a consistent framework that is adapted to fit each track. Included is the infographic about this weekend’s race at Bristol Motor Speedway to show the anatomy of a typical infographic. JGR plans to release its weekly Race Infographic every Wednesday and will be available on all of its online and social media platforms.

JGR PR

The all-new 2013 Ford Fusion Titanium, which will serve as official pace car of Ford Championship Weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway, will drive off the race track and into the driveway of one lucky fan thanks to a combined effort between Ford and Sprint.

The2013 Fusion production car being used as a pace vehicle - being revealed today at Bristol Motor Speedway in advance of the Irwin Tools Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway Saturday – will hit dealer showrooms later this fall, while the new 2013 NASCAR Fusion will take to the track beginning next year.

“In NASCAR, we are all about business-to-business, and business-to-consumer integration,” said Tim Duerr, Ford Racing motorsport marketing manager. “Sprint is one of our biggest partners at Ford Motor Company as both a business partner and a partner within the sport.

“We are very excited about the all-new 2013 production Fusion and the new 2013Fusion race car that will compete next year,” Duerr continued.  “A lucky consumer race fan is going to be able to win this car – which will have some history to it as well – and that is very exciting.”

The Fusion pace car that will take the green flag at Homestead was put through a shakedown run earlier this month at Ford’s Dearborn test track by Ford’s NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers, including current points leader Greg Biffle.

It features a special paint scheme reminiscent of the Ford EcoBoost paint scheme featured during the reveal of the 2013 NASCAR Fusion, and used by many of Ford’s top race cars around the world during the month of August.

“I love the look of this car. It looks fast just sitting there,” said Biffle. “The lucky fan that wins this official pace car will have a very special piece.  I put it through its paces and it did a darn good job. It is a fun car to drive and they are going to have something special.”

The all-new Fusion, signed by every Ford Racing driver, features a 240-horsepowerengine, 2.0 liter EcoBoost Gasoline Turbocharged Direct Injection, six-speed transmission with paddle shifting, remote start, 18-inch alloy wheels and a rear spoiler.

NASCAR fans have from now through Sunday, Nov. 18 to enter The Sprint “Win a Fusion Pace Car” Sweepstakes – powered by Ford, and there are a number of different ways to register.  They can log on toSprint.com/Speed via their smartphones or computer, but can also stop by the Sprint Experience, Sprint’s mobile-marketing display located in the midway at every NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race.

For those wanting to get an up-close and personal look at the grand prize, it will be on display at the Sprint Experience for six upcoming race weekends, including Bristol Motor Speedway, Richmond International Raceway, Talladega Superspeedway, Kansas Speedway, Martinsville Speedway and Homestead-Miami Speedway.

The winner also receives an all-expenses paid trip for two to Las Vegas, where they will be presented their 2013 Ford Fusion Titanium at “NASCAR After the Lap”, a popular fan event that is part of NASCAR Champion’s Week.

Ford Racing PR

Richmond International Raceway is expanding its commitment to the fan experience through mobile devices. The track launched anew Multiple View Menu Formatting on the FREE RIR mobile app. This new, user-friendly menu format will minimize scrolling and allow for convenient access to essential race weekend information. The RIR mobile app is available for download on most Apple and Android devices.

In addition to the new menu format, the RIR mobile app now sports an interactive Postcard Photo feature. This new feature allows fans to take photos directly through the app, with a variety of Richmond International Raceway themed backgrounds. Once a photo is taken, it can be instantly emailed or saved on the phone to be shared with others.

Other key features include:

·        Customizable schedule with information on all the important happenings taking place, including driver appearances, track schedules, and gate times.
·        Interactive GPS facility map with search capabilities, giving fans the ability to find the nearest restrooms, places to eat, souvenir trailers and more
·        Ability to login to your social networking accounts to stay in the loop through RIR’s Facebook, Twitter and RSS News feeds
·        Detailed Midway and parking maps and seating charts
·        Google directions
·        First aid, Guest Services and ATM locations
·        Connect with and locate friends at the race via “Friend Finder.”
·        Push notifications to instantly relay important information

“After a successful mobile app launch in April, our team listened to feedback and worked hard to improve on an already outstanding guest services amenity,” said RIR President Dennis Bickmeier.  “Right from their fingertips, fans can access the most up-to-date and important information to help them create a thrilling, memorable and unparalleled guest experience at Richmond International Raceway.”

RIR PR

As the summer winds down so does NASCAR’s regular season of racing.  Only three races remain before the cutoff to make the Chase for the Sprint Cup at Richmond on September 8.  Carl Edwards currently sits 12th in the points but the next three races are at tracks where he runs well and could help secure his seventh Chase berth.

Bristol Motor Speedway starts off the stretch.  Edwards has two wins, four top-five and seven top-10 finishes in 16 starts at the half-mile bullring.  He has led 300 laps there and is usually a contender for the win if he can avoid other drivers’ misfortunes.  In the spring he was caught up in an accident on lap 24 which sent him behind the wall for lengthy repairs.

Atlanta Motor Speedway is the track where Edwards earned his first Sprint Cup and Nationwide wins, on the same weekend, back in 2005.  In 14 Cup races there he has three wins, eight top-five and 10 top-10 finishes, and led 345 laps. 

Edwards nearly claimed a win in the spring at Richmond International Raceway after leading 206 laps.  A late-race penalty on a restart dashed his shot at victory lane.  Although he has never won a Cup race at Richmond, he has three top-five and eight top-10 finishes in 16 starts.  He has led 442 laps which is fifth-best among active drivers.  Edwards has made his way to victory lane three times in the Nationwide Series at Richmond.

Sitting 38 points out of 10th place, Edwards and the No. 99 Fastenal Blue Team are looking for at least one win in the final three races to put them in the running for the wild card position and a shot at the 2012 Sprint Cup championship.

RFR PR

Armstrong and his No. 98 EverFi Toyota Tundra team headed to Bristol Motor Speedway with high hopes for another solid finish in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS.) However, with only 52 laps under his belt, Armstrong had to pull his truck behind the wall to get worked on because of a lack of breaks. It was a tough break for the EverFi team that ultimately wouldn't end their night, but would take them out of contention for another great finish. They would end the NCWTS UNOH 200 in the 30th position.   

"It ended up being a disappointing night for me and my team, but I really feel like we had a strong truck on long runs. The fastest lap we ran in practice was with 62 laps on our tires. We thought we were going to be really fast in the race. My team worked really hard to put together this EverFi Toyota, and I wish the night would have turned out differently."

The No. 98 EverFi crew, led by crew chief Dan Stillman, worked hard in both practices to get Armstrong's truck's kinks worked out before the race. Armstrong was complaining of his truck being too tight in the center of the corners, and Stillman and the EverFi crew rallied back in the second practice to help make his truck turn better through the center.

"I can't say enough about how hard my guys worked to get the truck ready for the race. Every change they made was positive, and by the end of the second practice, even though we were 19th, I feel like in the race we were going to definitely be a top 10 contender again."

 When the green flag dropped for the UNOH 200, Armstrong was starting in the 18th position. He held his position for the first 20 laps, but then his truck seemed to be falling off. This is when Armstrong came on the radio and told his crew that his truck's brakes were getting too hot, and his pedal was going to the floor. After trying to ride it out waiting for a yellow that would not come in time, Stillman radioed for Armstrong to bring the truck in to the pits. It was then that the team noticed that the bleeder had fallen off, and the truck's brake fluids had all leaked out which caused Armstrong to have no brakes at all. The EverFi Toyota Tundra crew brought the truck behind the wall to begin repairing the bleeder and were able to get Armstrong back out on the track 32 laps down.

"We had a really good truck, and it was hard to see our night turn out like that."

 On lap 135 out of 200, Armstrong was relaying to Stillman that he had a fluid on his windshield, and it was making it hard to see. Stillman told Armstrong to come in to the pits to remove a tear off on the windshield and he was back on the track. Armstrong finished the race in the 30th position, but said that after the bleeder was fixed, he was able to follow behind the leaders and stay right on their bumpers.

"I really want to thank my crew for the hard work they put into getting the truck ready for the race and for fixing it during the race. Tonight was just not our night, and things didn't go as we thought they would, but that's racing. We had a really good truck, but we had even worse luck. It was a disappointing night, but hopefully we can go to Atlanta and have a really good race."

DAPR

Ross Chastain took advantage of several late cautions and charged from twentieth to a career best third in the final fifty laps of the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series UNOH 200 Wednesday night at the Bristol Motor Speedway.
 
 Ross qualified fifteenth in the 36-truck field in the afternoon qualifying session with a lap of 15.93 seconds at over 120.43 mph on the high-banked half-mile speedway. At the drop of the green flag Ross made a quick charge toward the top-ten before settling the Melon 1 Toyota into fourteenth where he held ground for the first fifty laps before dropping to sixteenth just before the first caution of the UNOH 200 on lap 83.

Every truck took advantage of the first caution for four tires and Sunoco racing gas and through several quick cautions failed to pick-up any track position while trapped deep in heavy traffic on the newly re-surfaced concrete track.

Chastain’s near misfortune actually turned into his biggest break of the season when Miguel Paludo got loose and spun. With Paludo’s Chevy crossed-up in the middle of the track, Ross jumped hard on the brakes and barely nudged the No. 32 with his right front fender.

Things looked bleak for the rookie driver from Florida as all four tires on his Melon 1 Tundra were flat spotted and Ross was forced to come to the attention of the SS Green Light Racing crew for four fresh Goodyear tires. After the stop, instead of starting within the top-fifteen, the No 08 was relegated to the last truck on the lead lap restarting nineteenth with less than fifty laps remaining in the 100-mile sprint.

Things quickly turned-around for the Florida farmer; Chastain took advantage of his fresher tires through several late restarts and effectively used the high grove to pass nearly a dozen trucks over the final quarter of the 200-lap race and found himself in sixth place for the final restart with just two laps remaining. Surprising both Brad Kesolowski and Ty Dillon sputtered out of fuel as the green flag flew and Chastain took advantage of their misfortune to power the Melon 1 Toyota to his career best third-place finish behind fellow Toyota driver Timothy Peters who led every lap earning his second victory of the season.

"Bryan Berry gave me an awesome truck tonight and it took me about 120 laps to figure out how I needed to run it and to move up to the lanes I needed to," an excited Chastain said following the race. "I can't say enough for the SS Green Light team and Melon 1 for sticking behind me. It 's been tough; we've had some tough races this year for sure but the whole watermelon industry is behind me and we are looking to run the whole year, but we still need some more help."

"This is how we should run; top-ten, and we came here expecting to run like this... We had some lap times comparable to Timothy there at the end. I can't say enough about this watermelon Toyota."

The third place finish was not only Chastain’s career best, but matched the best finish ever for the SS Green Light Racing team equaling Chad McCumbee’s 2009 finish at California and David Starr’s third place run at ORP last season.

Ross moved within sixteen points of the top-fifteen in the NCWTS point standings after nearly dropping out of the top-twenty-five just eight races ago after several mechanical failures. Chastain and the SS Green Light Racing Team will next race on August 31st at Atlanta.

SS Green Light Racing PR

Richard Childress Racing is appealing the penalties NASCAR levied against Paul Menard's race team this week.

Crew chief Slugger Labbe is at Bristol Motor Speedway on Friday working on the No. 27 Chevrolet. Labbe was fined $100,000 and suspended until Oct. 3 because NASCAR said the car's frame rails had been intentionally modified in an effort to deceive inspectors.

Menard and car owner Richard Childress were each docked 25 points, while car chief Craig Smokstad and crew member Grant Hutchens were both also suspended until Oct. 3.

All sanctions are on hold during the appeal process.

Meanwhile, an RCR spokesman also confirmed that Gil Martin is back as crew chief for Kevin Harvick. Martin worked with Harvick for three seasons, but was replaced by Shane Wilson this year.

AP

Toyota Racing today announced ‘Racing For Awareness,’ a friendly competition among women affiliated with the Toyota NASCAR program -- including wives, girlfriends, mothers and sisters, as well as one racer -- in support of breast cancer awareness. Nine women affiliated with the Toyota Racing program have each used their creativity and vision to design a T-shirt to recognize breast cancer awareness. Fans can vote for their favorite design at www.toyotaracing.com/RacingForAwareness from now through Oct. 4, 2012 at 12 PM (ET).

Each participant created a unique design that incorporated the symbol of breast cancer awareness -- a pink ribbon. The participants were given artistic freedom and were able to include other racing symbols on their choice of a pink, hot pink, white or black T-shirt.

The winning design will be selected based on fan votes and will come to life during the Charlotte Motor Speedway NASCAR race weekend in October. Toyota will donate $500 in the name of each participant to the Charlotte-based charity, Carolina Breast Friends, in recognition of Breast Cancer Awareness month in October.

“We’ve had a great response to the Racing for Awareness contest with the T-shirt designs created by the women of Toyota Racing,” said Les Unger, national motorsports marketing manager for Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A. (TMS). “The creativity and support all nine women have shown toward this worthwhile cause is extremely meaningful, and we can’t thank the participants enough for their support. We look forward to fans getting behind their favorite T-shirt, and then seeing the winning design come to life in October to celebrate Breast Cancer Awareness month.”

Participants in the contest include Mackena Bell (Rev Racing driver), Janet Bodine (wife of Todd Bodine), Samantha Busch (wife of Kyle Busch), Jordan Fish/Mary Lou Hamlin (girlfriend and mother of Denny Hamlin), Danielle Logano (sister of Joey Logano), Sara Peters (wife of Timothy Peters), Lorra Podsiadlo (girlfriend of Clint Bowyer), Sherry Pollex
(girlfriend of Martin Truex Jr.) and Cortney Sauter (wife of Johnny Sauter).

The winning design will be unveiled at the Toyota PitPass display during the October race weekend at Charlotte Motor Speedway, and it will be produced and made available for purchase. All proceeds from the sale of the winning T-shirt design will be donated to Carolina Breast Friends in the winning participant’s and driver’s names.

Fans can visit www.toyotaracing.com/RacingForAwareness to cast their vote and also enter to win weekly prizes. Voting will also take place on-site at the Toyota PitPass display at NASCAR events, including this weekend at Bristol Motor Speedway. The PitPass display will also be onsite during upcoming race weekends at Richmond International Raceway, Chicagoland Speedway and New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

Toyota Racing PR

Sam Hornish Jr. is quick to point to this weekend's racing on the .533-mile high-banked Bristol Motor Speedway as his most challenging of the remainder on the 2012 NASCAR schedule. But if attitude has anything to do with it, he has a good possibility of achieving his goal of getting a top-10 finish in Saturday's Irwin Tools Night Race.

"Without a doubt, this weekend at Bristol presents our biggest challenge as for the remaining races on the Nationwide side," Hornish said when queried on the subject last Sunday at Michigan International Speedway. "If we are fortunate enough to get to continue driving the Shell-Pennzoil Dodge, it'll be the same situation over on the Sprint Cup side.

"But just because I point to Bristol as the biggest challenge certainly doesn't mean that I dislike racing there. I really like the track and enjoy racing at Bristol. I am excited about it and looking forward to having the opportunity to race there both nights this weekend. It will be interesting to see how the changes they've made to the track play out. Some things will never be different there, however. You have to race smart and always be on your toes.

"Track position is always critical at Bristol and having good pit stops is a must," Hornish added. "It's so challenging because you are going so fast and things are happening so quickly. Getting slowed down when something happens in front of you can be really hard to do."

In six career Sprint Cup starts at Bristol entering this weekend, Hornish is still looking for his first top-10 finish there. He has a 25.3 average start and 31.5 average finish. He has completed 91.2 percent (2,743 of 3,009) of possible laps and is hoping to lead his first lap at BMS in Saturday night's battle under the lights.

"Our record at Bristol doesn't really indicate how competitive we've been there in the past," offered Hornish, whose most recent BMS Cup start came in the August 2010 race where he started 25th and finished 25th. "We've actually had a couple of really strong races in the Cup Series there. We've been running strong and well up in the top 10 heading down to the finish and have mechanical problems bite us with less than 50 laps to go. It's been a situation where it seems like when we've had really good cars there, something has happened to take us out at the end. But when we've had our least competitive cars, we've not had the big problems like that.

"The first time I went to Bristol Motor Speedway was as a fan and I was just in awe of the stadium-like atmosphere," added Hornish. "My first race at Bristol was in a Cup car with very limited practice and it was definitely a learning experience. I continue to learn each time we race there and I really feel this could be a good weekend for our Shell-Pennzoil Dodge Team."

Hornish started 23rd and finished 13th in the March Nationwide Series race. He started 20th and finished 14th in his other NNS Bristol start in the August 2008 race.

Shell-Pennzoil Dodge crew chief Todd Gordon is happy to have Hornish behind the wheel of the No. 22 Penske Racing entry again this weekend and is a huge advocate for his driver to battle it out in both races.

"I definitely think that Sam running both series has been beneficial all the way around and that will certainly be the case this weekend at Bristol," Gordon said on Monday night. "I think we saw at Watkins Glen, when he did the double there that weekend, that it paid dividends. Sam has a great knack now to automatically click from one car to the other and adapt to what the differences are between the Nationwide and Cup cars.

"You can bet that the 22 car and the 2 car will be sisters at Bristol this weekend," Gordon stated. "With Brad on such a roll at that track and with the drivers and teams working so well together, we're confident that we can be so much stronger there this time around than we were during the spring race weekend.

"We continue to improve overall week after week and the fact that Sam's preferences and feel for the car are so close to Brad's is such a plus," said Gordon. "I'm definitely not going into Bristol thinking we can run up front all night, but I do think we can have a respectable race and a solid performance there."

Hornish, Gordon and the Penske Racing No. 22 Team will be utilizing their "PRS-817" Shell-Pennzoil Dodge Charger this weekend at Bristol. This is the same car that AJ Allmendinger raced in the March 25 race in Fontana, Calif. (started 25th and finished 15th) and again in the June 3 race at Dover, Del. (started 23rd and finished 16th). The "PRS-807" chassis will serve as the backup Shell-Pennzoil Dodge for this weekend. It was in the 22 team transporter serving as the backup at Phoenix, Bristol and Martinsville, but has never seen any track time to date.

This weekend's action at Bristol Motor Speedway gets under way with Sprint Cup practice on Friday from 12:00 noon till 2:00 p.m. The final practice for the Sprint Cup cars is set from 2:45 p.m. till 3:30 p.m. on Friday (live on SPEED). Saturday night's 43-car starting field will be determined in Friday's 5:10 p.m. single round of Cup qualifying (live on ESPN2). Saturday's Irwin Tools Night Race (500 laps, 266.5 miles) Sprint Cup race has a 7:30 p.m. EDT starting time, with ABC-TV and PRN Radio presenting live coverage. Due to some ABC affiliates carrying telecasts of NFL pre-season football games or other programming on Saturday night, the race will air regionally on ESPN2 in some markets.

Penske Racing PR

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