Speedway Digest Staff
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Kyle Busch enters this week’s DAV 200 NASCAR Nationwide Series (NNS) event, not only as the previous week’s series winner, but also as the returning victor at Phoenix (Ariz.) International Raceway (PIR). In the spring event Busch began from a third-place qualifying position and led the field two times for a race-high 155 of 168 laps before a rain-shortened event yielded the Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) No. 54 team’s first victory of 2014. It was the Monster Energy athlete’s seventh victory in 17 races at PIR, four of those wins from the pole-qualifying position. Similarly strong the March victory for veteran crew chief Adam Stevens was his fourth straight win on the Arizona oval.
Historically Busch and the now eight-time 2014 season Monster Energy team winners have been successful at PIR in the Nationwide Series. Busch is the track’s youngest pole winner in 2004, at the age of 19 years, six months and four days and holds the record for all-time performer in several statistical categories including laps led (1108), poles (6) and wins (7). The Las Vegas, Nev. native also maintains the track’s Nationwide Series qualifying record set in 2011 at 134.298 mph.
Joe Gibbs Racing crew chief Adam Stevens’ success with this team includes four wins back to back, this event in the fall of 2012 with then JGR driver Joey Logano from the pole-qualifying position, and again from the first-place starting spot in the 2013 spring and fall events with Busch, then from a third-place starting spot with Busch in the spring of 2014.
In total, the Joe Gibbs Racing company’s Nationwide Series operation has 56 starts at PIR with seven wins, 10 poles and 1,529 laps led. Expectations are therefore high that team, driver and crew chief records will be improved once more. The No. 54 team targets their ninth win of the year and hopes to cut a deficit in the Owner’s Championship points battle, now standing 26 points behind the No. 22 Penske Ford team.
On the brink of his first NASCAR Nationwide Series championship, NAPA AUTO PARTS driver Chase Elliott, eyes a chance to also become the first rookie and youngest ever to win one of NASCAR’s top three national touring series championships.
Elliott will arrive in Phoenix with a 48-point lead on his JR Motorsports teammate, Regan Smith. With the stage set, Elliott will need to gain only one point on second place in the points standings in order to clinch the 2014 NASCAR Nationwide Series Championship. Head-to-head this year, Elliott has outran his teammate (Smith) in 21 out of 31 races thus far in the season. During the rainout at Phoenix in March, Smith finished eighth and Elliott finished ninth. However, that was only Elliott’s second career start.
NAPA AUTO PARTS also looks to clinch its first championship since Ron Hornaday Jr. won the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Championship in 1996 and 1998 for the Atlanta-based company. But this time it would happen at the Nationwide Series level, one step above the Camping World Truck Series. Regardless of all the various points scenarios, one thing is certain; if Elliott finishes inside the top-20 this weekend at Phoenix and next weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway, he will win the championship.
In the Sunoco Rookie of the Year standings, Elliott has pushed his lead over Ty Dillon to 52 points. Elliott is also in the running for Most Popular Driver in the Nationwide Series: Vote for Chase Elliott.
With the possibility of Elliott clinching the Nationwide Series championship on Saturday, all eyes will be on Phoenix International Raceway when the DAV 200 kicks off at 3:30 p.m. ET on ESPN and MRN/Sirius XM.
JR Motorsports PR
Back in February, the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series headed to Phoenix International Raceway for race number two of 36. This weekend, it will return to Phoenix of the second-to-last race of the year – the Phoenix 500k.
For Danica Patrick, driver of the No. 10 GoDaddy Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), her return to Phoenix is extra important as GoDaddy is headquartered in Scottsdale and has a new GoDaddy Global Technology Center in Tempe.
The GoDaddy Global Technology Center opened in early October and the new facility supports more than 1,100 colleagues, including engineers, developers and corporate staff, along with small-business consultants.
The stunning 150,000-square-foot facility is a specially designed two-story facility located in the sprawling ASU Research Park in Tempe.
Employee-friendly amenities there include a fitness area, locker rooms, yoga room, game center, indoor climbing wall, a go-kart track, relaxation stations, a putting green. It also includes GoDaddy bicycles, outdoor basketball and sand volleyball courts, as well as a soccer field, eco-friendly features and a giant slide from the second-floor office area into a full-service kitchen with on-site chefs.
GoDaddy’s mission is to radically shift the global economy toward small business by empowering people to easily start, confidently grow and successfully run their own ventures. GoDaddy employs more than 4,000 people. The company is headquartered in Scottsdale, but it has opened other collaborative offices over the past 18 months near Seattle, in Sunnyvale, California, and in Cambridge, Massachusetts near the MIT campus.
GoDaddy now serves more than 12 million customers around the world and offers products and support in 42 markets, 44 currencies and 17 languages.
For Patrick and her GoDaddy crew, that means meeting a lot of executives and employees this week, as well as a special focus on running well in Sunday’s race.
Patrick finished 10th in the NASCAR Nationwide Series event at Phoenix in November 2012 and backed that up with a 17th-place result the next day in the Sprint Cup race.
She is hoping that she and new crew chief Daniel Knost can capture some magic and have yet another good run at the mile oval west of Phoenix.
Aric Almirola and the No. 43 Farmland Ford team hope to rebound from Texas with a Top-10 finish at Phoenix International Raceway this Sunday. The team raced in the Top-15 for the majority of the race this spring and hope that their strong short track performances this season will translate to a good finish this weekend.
Almirola has seven Sprint Cup Series starts at the one-mile track and scored four Top-16 finishes including his best finish of 12th. He tallied one pole, two Top-Fives and four Top-10 finishes in nine starts in Nationwide and Truck Series races.
Farmland Foods has partnered with the Folds of Honor Foundation, which provides support to families of fallen or disabled armed forces members, throughout the 2014 NASCAR season to support our county's armed forces. As a result of the partnership, Farmland Foods is now donating $100,000 to Folds of Honor, which will provide scholarships to families of fallen or disabled armed forces members. Farmland Foods will highlight the partnership with Folds of Honor as part of a customized paint scheme on the No. 43 car at this Sunday's race. The paint scheme was chosen by fans through a vote on Farmland Food's Facebook page.
This weekend, @aric_almirola pilots fan-chosen @FarmlandFoods @FoldsofHonor themed No. 43 Ford at @PhoenixRaceway. #NASCAR
@Aric Almirola will pilot fan-chosen, special @Farmland Foods @Folds of Honor paint scheme on No. 43 Ford this weekend at @Phoenix International Raceway.
"Phoenix is very track position driven. You have to protect the inside of Turn Three more than anything which makes it frustrating to race there. The characteristics of the track are very much like a short track. Turns One and Two have a short sharp corner and then three and four is more of a sweeping turn like Loudon, so it races like a short track despite being a one mile track.
"This weekend, we have a special paint scheme. Farmland partnered with Folds of Honor and let fans chose our paint scheme this weekend. We got to see all the options earlier this year in Charlotte, and I think the fans picked well. Our car is going to look great on track, and more importantly, families of fallen or disabled armed forces members will benefit from a donation from Farmland. It's just so cool to be a part of programs like this and give back to people who really need it. It will be very special to race this car this weekend."
In his final run at the Phoenix International Raceway for Richard Petty Motorsports, Marcos Ambrose heads west for the last time. Ambrose and the No. 9 STANLEY team will compete in Sunday's race with plenty of fans in the "Valley of the Sun" cheering for Ambrose.
Coming over from Australia to the Southern-born NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, Ambrose quickly found friends in his adopted new home state of North Carolina. But, with many Australian friends wanting to see Ambrose race, the West Coast proved easier for them to travel. In return, Ambrose developed a solid fan base from all nations.
Ambrose wants nothing more than to go out with a win. At Phoenix, he has one Top-10 finish.
.@MarcosAmbrose talks about the fans of NASCAR
@MarcosAmbroseFanPage knows that NASCAR fans have passion
"In my time here, I've seen plenty of excited NASCAR fans. And let me tell you, they have passion! They cheer for their favorite driver, favorite team, and in our case, their favorite 'King'. It's been a pleasure and an honor to race all across America for them, hear them and try to give them some excitement. And, yes, even when we go out west, the fans are great. They love NASCAR, and I've been fortunate to see friends there and make new ones.
"Every motorsports fan is passionate. But, with NASCAR, it's a whole other level. They buy your shirt, wear your hat, support our sponsors and everything. It's great and that's a lot of fun to be a part of. They are cheering for you, in most cases, and you want to deliver for them. I give it my best each week, hopefully I've given them some highlights, and maybe we can make more memories this weekend."
The life of a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver can be hectic. With 38 weekends of racing in a 40-week span, the marathon-like schedule of NASCAR’s top series can be incredibly grueling as the racing series crisscrosses the country from as far east as Loudon, New Hampshire to as far west as Sonoma, California.
While Kyle Busch, driver of the No. 18 Banfield Pet Hospital Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR), and his wife Samantha live a lot of their lives out of a suitcase, a part of home they bring with them whenever possible are their dogs Kelly, Suzie and Lucy.
While the three Busch canines are no strangers to the racetrack, they will be in a unique position – actually, their likenesses will be –
during Sunday’s Sprint Cup Series Quicken Loans Race for Heroes 500k at Phoenix International Raceway. Kelly, Suzie and Lucy will ride along with Busch as their pictures will adorn Busch’s No. 18 Banfield Pet Hospital Toyota.
Kyle and Samantha Busch travel with their four-legged friends every opportunity they get, and this is the first time they’ll be included on the No. 18 Toyota Camry paint scheme fielded by Joe Gibbs Racing. West-Highland Terriers Suzie and Kelly have been part of Busch’s extended race team since he began racing in NASCAR’s top touring series in 2005. Lucy, a Pomeranian Yorkie, joined the family shortly after the Busches were married in 2010.
Founded in 1955, Banfield Pet Hospital is the largest privately owned veterinary practice in the world. The practice has more than 850 hospitals in the United States and Puerto Rico, most of which are located inside PetSmart stores. And, good news for the Busches in case there is a need for veterinary service while on they’re on the road, chances are there is always a Banfield Pet Hospital nearby.
In fact, Sunday at Phoenix, a local Banfield Pet veterinarian will be making a house call at-track to perform a preventive health check for Lucy, as well as a few other pets that are a part of NASCAR’s traveling contingent.
As for this weekend’s race itself, the desert setting of Phoenix has been a favorite place to wheel a racecar for Busch long before he joined the Sprint Cup ranks. And the results have certainly shown, starting with a solid eighth-place finish in his very first outing there in the spring of 2005, followed by just his second career Sprint Cup victory in his very next start there in the fall race that year. Coincidentally, Busch’s first Sprint Cup win came just 10 races prior in another desert-like setting not all too far from his hometown of Las Vegas – Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California.
In 19 Sprint Cup starts at the mile oval known as the “Diamond in the Desert,” Busch has one win and 12 top-10 finishes, including four in a row from the spring 2007 through fall 2008 events, and he won the pole for the spring 2006 race. Busch also was in position to win Sprint Cup races at Phoenix in 2010, as well as the February 2011 race, and both races there in 2012, but things never fell his way. Since then, he’s added two more top-10 finishes these past two seasons.
So, heading to the next-to-last Sprint Cup race of 2014, Busch would like nothing more than to find his way to victory lane Sunday not only for Banfield Pet Hospital, but for his “family” that’s along for the ride. It would make for a “doggone” huge celebration.
The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series travels to Phoenix International Raceway for the sport’s penultimate race.
Clint Bowyer is ready to shine in the Valley of the Sun. He has two top-five and six top-10 finishes in 18 starts at the one-mile oval. The Michael Waltrip Racing driver tested his No. 15 5-hour ENERGY Toyota at the track Oct. 14-15 along with teammate Brian Vickers.
Bowyer also has completed 5,619 of 5,694 laps (98.7%) and has led 22 laps at PIR. On Sunday he doesn’t care how many laps he leads, as long as it’s the last lap.
What are the keys to getting around Phoenix?
“Trying to manage rear grip is the key and probably the most challenging thing about that track, especially since the repave a couple of years ago. You will be racing along and your car is stuck like glue, then in an instant the rear end wants to jump out and you’re really in trouble because without much banking in the track, there is no give in it. You either have grip or you feel like you are racing on ice. Trying to manage that rear grip level and keeping your tires underneath you is hard to do there, so that’s what we will be working on all weekend in practice.”
Liftmaster to unveil tribute paint scheme in honor of 19 fallen firefighters from the Yarnell Hill wildfire
Before the No. 1 LiftMaster Chevrolet hits the track this weekend at Phoenix International Raceway; a tribute paint scheme will be unveiled at the Firefighter Combat Challenge in downtown Phoenix.
In June of 2013, 19 firefighters from the Prescott Granite Mountain Hotshots lost their lives battling a wildfire at Yarnell Hill. As a tribute to their heroism, the hood of the LiftMaster Chevrolet will carry the names of all 19 firefighters, as LiftMaster, Jamie McMurray and Chip Ganassi Racing honor these fallen heroes and their families this weekend.
“It is our honor to dedicate this weekend to the memory of these individuals,” said Neal Villarin, Sponsorship & Event Marketing Manger for LiftMaster. “These firefighters gave their lives while serving and protecting their community. As the NASCAR community returns to Phoenix, we couldn’t think of a better way to pay tribute to these heroes.”
During live competition on Thursday afternoon at the Firefighter Combat Challenge, Jamie McMurray, driver of the No. 1 LiftMaster Chevrolet, will lead the unveiling of this weekend’s car. McMurray will be joined at the event by LiftMaster executives and firefighters from the Phoenix Fire Department’s Station 1 and Station 8. The reveal will start at 3:00 pm Mountain Time at the corner of North Third Street and East Jefferson Street in downtown Phoenix.
McMurray will also be on hand to present a $10,000 donation to the NFFF on behalf of LiftMaster.
As another thrilling season of racing comes to a close, “The Fastest Short Track on the Planet” is already looking ahead to next year. Iowa Speedway will wave the green flag for fans to purchase Season Tickets for its 2015 race season starting today, Wednesday, November 5.
In response to fan feedback, Iowa Speedway has added more races and an additional event weekend to its 2015 schedule. Wide Opening Weekend will again kick off the 2015 Iowa Speedway season with the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East/West and NASCAR XFINITY Series on May 16 and 17. The second weekend of racing will pair the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series with the USAC Silver Crown Series on June 19 and 20 and the third weekend will marry the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards with the Verizon IndyCar Series, Indy Lights and Pro Mazda Championship on July 17 and 18. The 2015 race season will come to a close on July 31 and August 1 with the return of the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East/West and NASCAR XFINITY Series in what should be another thrilling close to a great year at Iowa Speedway.
“We are very excited about our 2015 schedule and so pleased to begin making plans with our fans. We encourage everyone to get their season tickets now while the best seats are available,” said Iowa Speedway President Jimmy Small. “Our season ticket holders are the greatest in motorsports, and we want to do everything we can to ensure that they have an exceptional experience at our facility. Having listened to their feedback, we know that our fans want more races, more weekends at the track and more pricing options to suit their needs. Add to that, convenient payment plans and our commitment to improving the fan experience each and every weekend and season tickets to Iowa Speedway are as fan-friendly and value-driven as you’ll find in big-league sports.”
Fans can save 25% or more by purchasing season ticket packages, starting at just $115 for eight race days in 2015. In addition to great savings, by purchasing a season ticket, fans will receive exclusive benefits, including: an invitation to the Season Ticket Holder Party with VIP appearances and giveaways, exciting chances to receive season ticket holder upgrades like pace car rides, garage access and suite upgrades throughout the season, a Season Ticket Holder Rewards card with discounts at the Iowa Speedway gift shop and concessions stands, as well as discounts from Iowa Speedway partners and much more.
Season Tickets are on sale now and can be purchased in three convenient ways:
•Online: Visit www.iowaspeedway.com. Tickets are available 24 hours per day, seven days per week after the on-sale begins.
•Phone: Call (866) 787-8946
•In Person: Visit the Iowa Speedway Ticket Office in the Administration Building between 8 a.m.-5 p.m. (CT) Monday through Friday and 10 a.m.-2 p.m. (CT) on Saturday.
The 2015 schedule of events at Iowa Speedway is as follows:
May 16 NASCAR K&N Pro Series East/West
May 17 NASCAR XFINITY Series
June 19 NASCAR Camping World Series
June 20 USAC Silver Crown Series
July 17 ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards
July 18 Verizon IndyCar Series
Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires
Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires
July 31 NASCAR K&N Pro Series East/West
August 1 NASCAR XFINITY Series
Iowa Speedway PR
The AAA Texas 500 earned a 2.8 U.S. rating and averaged 4,749,000 viewers for the second of three Eliminator 8 Round races of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup championship format. Both numbers easily surpassed last year's race (2.6 / 4,179,000) as well as the 2012 event (2.5 / 3,943,000). It was the best rating since a 3.4 for the 2011 AAA Texas 500 on ESPN.
The AAA Texas 500 was one of two major motorsports events being televised live from Texas that same day, with Formula One's United States Grand Prix being run at the Circuit of The Americas in Austin. NASCAR dominated the television viewership, drawing nearly four times higher than F1's overnight rating of 0.7 on NBC.
ESPN's live telecast of Saturday's NASCAR Nationwide Series O'Reilly Auto Parts Challenge at Texas Motor Speedway also enjoyed an increase from last year's event with a 1.1 U.S. rating and an average viewership of 1,633,000. The 2013 race registered a 0.9 rating and averaged 1,395,000 viewers.