Speedway Digest Staff
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Can Sauter get hotter?
With five races remaining in the 2013 season and 103 points behind leader Matt Crafton, Johnny Sauter's chances at a championship this year are slim. That, however, shouldn't slow him down from trying to finish the season in the same fashion he started it and carry his late-season success over into 2014.
The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series will be in Talladega this weekend for Saturday's fred's 250 Powered by Coca-Cola (4 p.m. ET, FOX Sports 1), the second restrictor-plate race of the year. Sauter, who currently ranks eighth in the standings, started the 2013 season off with a bang by winning the season-opening restrictor-plate race at Daytona and then following that up with a win at Martinsville in the second race of the year. At Daytona, he held off a hard-charging Kyle Busch. He followed those victories up with fourth- and fifth-place finishes at Rockingham and Kansas. Since then, he's cooled down a bit.
After the fourth race he gave up his spot atop the standings to Crafton, who has held it since. Sauter finished outside the top 10 in seven of the next 10 events dropping him from second to 10th in points twice (after Michigan and once again after Canadian Tire Motorsport Park) before rebounding with three consecutive top-10 finishes in the last three races.
This weekend, he will be looking for another strong finish at the 2.66-mile Alabama track. In four series starts, he's never finished lower than 15th. His best finish came in this event last season where he finished second to first-time series winner Parker Kligerman. Sauter's first three trips there resulted in finishes of 14th, third and 15th.
Iowa Corn is back as a sponsor for the 2014 and 2015 IndyCar Series races at the Iowa Speedway with major enhancements to the events in Newton, Iowa. In 2014, fifty laps will be added so the race will be the ‘Iowa Corn Indy 300’ and the race will be held on Saturday night, July 12, under the lights. Fans will enjoy ethanol-powered racing with the ‘Iowa Corn Indy 300’ and ‘American Ethanol 200’ NASCAR Camping World Truck Series all in the same weekend.
“By bringing together IndyCar and NASCAR, fans will enjoy the ultimate race weekend at the Iowa Speedway. Iowa Corn wants fans to enjoy 50 more laps, and the IndyCars racing under the lights can’t be beat,” said Craig Floss, CEO of the Iowa Corn Growers Association and the Iowa Corn Promotion Board. “We are excited to bring together two of our major promotions to engage fans in the biggest racing weekend that Iowa has experienced so far at the Iowa Speedway. We are honored and excited to be a part of the action.”
Iowa Corn is entering its’ 8th year of partnering with the Iowa Speedway as a venue to showcase the power and performance of corn-ethanol in the heartland. The 2014 ethanol-powered race weekend will highlight 85% ethanol with the Iowa Corn Indy 300 and 15% ethanol during the ‘American Ethanol 200’ NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race. Iowa Corn is also a partner with Growth Energy, the National Corn Growers Association and other great partners on the American Ethanol program with NASCAR.
“We are thrilled to continue our partnership with Iowa Corn to bring the incredible speed and excitement of IndyCar racing back to Iowa Speedway for the next two years,” said Stan Clement, Iowa Speedway President. “And we want to thank everyone at Iowa Corn, IndyCar, NASCAR and American Ethanol for making this sensational new event weekend possible.”
NASCAR Hall of Famer and Iowa Speedway track designer Rusty Wallace was equally enthusiastic about the new ‘Iowa Corn Indy 300’ format.
“This is by far the best IndyCar weekend we have ever put together,” Wallace said. “Our race fans will witness the best of both racing worlds with the ‘Iowa Corn Indy 300’ and ‘American Ethanol 200’ on July 11-12 and, frankly, I can’t wait to see it myself!”
More details on the NEW ‘Iowa Corn Indy 300’ to come.
Iowa Speedway PR
For the 29th year, Charlotte Motor Speedway will honor the best in motorsports journalism. The speedway is accepting applications for the Charlotte Motor Speedway Russ Catlin Awards for Excellence in Motorsports Journalism to recognize outstanding 2013 coverage.
Established in 1985, the awards were founded to recognize outstanding coverage of motorsports and to honor Russ Catlin, one of auto racing's best known writers, historians and a pioneer of motorsports public relations. Annually, the awards are presented to individuals who demonstrate captivating, thought-provoking and inspiring journalism surrounding motorsports.
Keeping with the tradition of the award, the Indiana University School of Journalism will review all nominations and determine the winners. Awards of Excellence winners receive a special plaque to commemorate their achievements and a $1,000 scholarship to be donated to the school of their choice. Each award winner's name will also be added to the perpetual Russ Catlin Award trophy, which is displayed at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Download an entry form at: http://www.charlottemotorspeedway.com/catlinaward/
The categories for the 2013 Charlotte Motor Speedway Russ Catlin Awards for Excellence in Motorsports Journalism are:
- Writing entries for daily newspapers
- Writing entries for other forms of written media (internet, weekly, etc.)
- Broadcast entries for local radio and television
- Broadcast entries for national radio and television
- Photojournalism entries
Any type of motorsports coverage from the 2013 season is eligible. Entries dated from any other year or season will not be accepted. Judges will review each submission closely and base their decision on the quality of work and its representation of excellence in motorsports journalism.
The Charlotte Motor Speedway Russ Catlin Awards for Excellence in Motorsports Journalism accepts and encourages all types of motorsports racing media coverage. It is NOT limited specifically to NASCAR.
Breaking Limits PR
Daytona International Speedway Holds Second Subcontractor Outreach Forum for DAYTONA Rising
Daytona International Speedway held its second successful subcontractor outreach forum on Wednesday to provide information on construction opportunities related to its DAYTONA Rising redevelopment project. The first was held on July 17, 2013. More than 230 Florida minority and women-owned businesses as well as local Volusia County construction trades attended both forums, representing cities such as Daytona Beach, Port Orange, Ormond Beach, Orlando, Sanford, Winter Springs, DeLand, Hawthorne, Pinellas Park, St. Johns, New Smyrna, Ocala, Titusville, Fort Lauderdale, Apopka, Odessa and Palm Coast.
During both forums, subcontractors were given an overview of diversity outreach and information on how they can pre-qualify for the bidding process on various aspects of the $400 million DAYTONA Rising project, which will create a modern, state-of-the-art racing experience along the Speedway’s nearly mile-long frontstretch. Barton Malow, the design builder for the project, also provided a list of upcoming remaining bid packages including: miscellaneous metals, drywall partitions and ceilings, cold-formed metal studs, acoustical ceilings, millwork and casework, floor tile, carpeting and painting and specialties.
“From day one, we have been focused on creating exciting new opportunities for our local communities and particularly minority and women-owned businesses throughout Florida,” Daytona International Speedway President Joie Chitwood III said. “DAYTONA Rising represents a significant economic boost and we are grateful to have such talented and hard-working business partners from all areas of the community helping to transform our vision into a reality, which benefits everyone.”
Several Florida-based minority and women-owned businesses have already been awarded projects related to DAYTONA Rising. A sample of the businesses include: Builders Exchange (Daytona Beach), Cunningham Oil (Holly Hill) and G&C Welding (Sanford).
MB Motorsports and Scott Stenzel look for redemption at Talladega
MB Motorsports and Scott Stenzel are heading to Talladega Superspeedway, looking for redemption, after mechanical issues kept them from making the season opener at Daytona. Stenzel will be behind the wheel of the #63 Making The Driver / Mittler Brothers Machine Tool Ford. The fred's 250 will mark Scott's first series start at Talladega, although he did score a top ten finish (7th) in the 2010 ARCA race at the famed speedway.
After mechanical gremlins derailed their attempt at Daytona, Stenzel and the MB Motorsports crew are taking no chances in preparing for Talladega. "Sometimes, no matter how prepared you are, the mechanical gremlins bite you," notes Stenzel. "That's what happened to us at Daytona and we just missed making the race."
Adds team owner Mike Mittler, "If we normally triple check everything on the truck before a race, for Talladega, we're quadruple checking. We've got John Monsam back as crew chief for the fred's 250 and he's no stranger to Talladega."
Says Monsam, "This will be our third race together and we're communicating better as a crew with each race. Scott has run well at Talladega, so I think we're in a pretty good position for Saturday's race."
Adds Stenzel, "We've got Greg Biffle's spotter, Joel Edmonds, with us for Talladega. Having a Cup spotter with us is a big advantage, especially when you're running in the tight packs that we invariably end up in Talladega."
MB Motorsports PR
Persistent rain showers throughout Friday forced cancellation of all on-track activity for the inaugural NASCAR K&N Pro Series East event at Road Atlanta on Thursday.
NASCAR is working with IMSA and track officials to determine time windows for practice and qualifying sessions on Friday. The race is still scheduled for a 3:30 p.m. ET start.
Dylan Kwasniewski, 18, carries a five-point advantage over Brett Moffitt, 21, into the 2013 season finale as the two NASCAR Next drivers battle for the season crown. NASCAR Next is an industry initiative that spotlights young, talented drivers in NASCAR.
Todd Parrott, a crew member in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, has been indefinitely suspended from NASCAR for violating the sanctioning body’s Substance Abuse Policy.
On Oct. 17, Parrott was found to have violated Sections 12-1 (actions detrimental to stock car racing) and 19 (violation of the NASCAR Substance Abuse Policy) of the 2013 NASCAR Rule Book.
Richard Petty Motorsports Supports NASCAR's Substance Abuse Policy
Upon notification today that employee Todd Parrott had violated NASCAR's Substance Abuse Policy, Richard Petty Motorsports fully supports his indefinite suspension from NASCAR.
Sammy Johns, Vice President of Operations and Competition, will handle crew chief duties on the No. 43 Ford this weekend at Talladega. He will also handle these duties on an interim basis until further notice.
"We have an expectation of all RPM employees to conduct themselves at the highest level of professionalism and within the competitive confines as set forth by NASCAR," said Johns. "We are very disappointed that one of our employees did not meet our expectations and we completely support NASCAR, their policies and final decisions when it comes to the substance abuse policy."
EFI in NASCAR Sprint Cup racing: A million miles without a failure
When Dale Earnhardt Jr. crossed the start/finish line to lead Lap 34 last Saturday at Charlotte Motor Speedway, there was no special fanfare beyond the standing ovation Earnhardt gets every time he leads a lap.
Race control didn't stop the action to give Earnhardt the NASCAR equivalent of a game ball. There was no announcement of a competitive milestone.
Yet when Earnhardt led Lap 34 in the Bank of America 500, he logged the one-millionth mile in NASCAR Sprint Cup Series competition since the transition from traditional carburetors to electronic fuel injection (EFI).
It should come as no surprise that the milestone was decidedly under the radar, given that the switch to EFI itself has been smooth, almost seamless and virtually invisible.
Yes, there were issues with fuel pickup, pump configurations, sensors and throttle linkages as teams adjusted to a new computer-based method of supplying fuel to the immensely powerful engines used in NASCAR Sprint Cup racing.
But not once in a million miles has the brain of the EFI system, the electronic control unit (ECU), failed, from the electronics supplied by McLaren to the computing power supplied by chip maker Freescale.
"The good news is, when it's a non-event, we tip our hat to it, because that means that it's done its job," NASCAR Vice President of Competition and Racing Development Robin Pemberton said of the successful transition to EFI. "A million racing miles is one thing, but it's probably almost equaled in test miles, and to my knowledge, we haven't had any failures."
With its frequency and length of races, NASCAR Sprint Cup racing arguably puts more stress on the engine and the EFI system than any other competitive series.
"We run the most races, our teams build the most vehicles, and we run the longest races," Pemberton said. "Granted, you can have Le Mans, the Rolex 24 Hour race, you can have a lot of those endurance races, but we run 400, 500, up to 600 miles every weekend on our mile- and mile-and-a-half tracks).
"Our short races are 250 miles, which is what other series run as their big races. With the full-bodied cars, with the minimal tires that we have, the brake heat and the (engine) heat that's generated, we put anything through its paces."
As a driver puts a car through its paces, the ECU records a wealth of data that can be downloaded and analyzed. In fact, the most visible difference between a carbureted system and EFI may well be the banks of laptop computers teams now set up in their garage stalls.
"I think the big benefit has really been for the teams, because they've been able to pinpoint times when there's been a failure (in the engine) and understand that," said Steve Nelson, director of marketing for Freescale. "And it's helped them when they go back and look at data to build engines that are more reliable.
"They can go right back to the event that happened. They can identify over-revs, missed shifts, all types of things. And there have been times when drivers have been able to help each other with their lift points getting into the corner and their RPM traces, things like that… Racing is always about data, being able to get more data out of the car."
You don't have to convince rookie driver Kyle Larson, who will move up to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series full-time in 2014, taking the place of Juan Pablo Montoya in Earnhardt Ganassi Racing's No. 42 Chevrolet. In the meantime, however, Larson is learning from Montoya, and from future teammate Jamie McMurray, by studying their EFI data.
"They show me Juan's and Jamie's throttle and braking and all that," Larson said before his NASCAR Sprint Cup debut last Saturday at Charlotte. "It helps out quite a bit. I know (from a Charlotte test) I wasn't getting in the corner quite as hard as they were.
"You can tell different driving styles apart pretty well through that stuff, too. Like here (at Charlotte), Juan never really gets out of the throttle. I'm out of it for just a split second and back in it. That helps a lot. When I look at my data versus theirs, I can really tell what I need to do to get better."
Interestingly, the computer chips Freescale supplies for the EFI systems aren't custom-made for racing. You'll find the exact same thing in your street car.
"The little chips we put into those engine computers are the exact same ones we put into passenger cars," Nelson said. "We don't special-test them. They come right off the shelf. In our business, we ship things in very, very large volume, literally in the millions and billions. Something like racing is such a small market, there's no way financially we could ever do a custom version of a device.
"So, to take what is literally in the passenger cars in the parking lot -- the same parts that are in those engine computers -- McLaren buys the same ones. To do a million miles with zero failures with non-racing-specified parts is a really nice story for us."
Junior Johnson Named Grand Marshal For Goody’s 500 At Martinsville
Junior Johnson was in the spotlight at Martinsville Speedway many times as a driver and car owner. He’ll be back in that spotlight on October 27, but in a different role.
Johnson, a charter member of the NASCAR Hall of Fame and winner of 50 Sprint Cup races, will be the grand marshal for the Goody’s® Headache Relief Shot® 500 Powered by Kroger.
“I really enjoy doing things like this,” said Johnson, who will give the famous “drivers start your engines” command from the start-finish line. “It’s an honor for me. When something gives you so much like racing did for me, you have to give back.”
The legendary driver, who went on to be one of the most successful car owners in NASCAR history, said he couldn’t think of a better place than Martinsville to be grand marshal.
“Martinsville is one of my favorite tracks,” said Johnson. “When I was a driver I kind of had it under my thumb … I either won or blew up.
“Clay Campbell (track president) is a real good friend of mine and his grandfather (track founder H. Clay Earles) was a good friend of mine. They’ve always made it a fun place for me to go.”
“Junior Johnson is legendary in the world of NASCAR. I think to be called ‘The Last American Hero’ is fitting, but also underscores what he meant to NASCAR during his career as a driver,” said Campbell. “His accomplishments as a driver were incredible. His accomplishments as a car owner were nothing short of amazing.
“He helped to make this sport what it is today and this hall of famer is still a most recognizable figure to our fans. We couldn’t be happier to have Junior serve as our Grand Marshal.”
Johnson recorded two wins and eight top-five finishes in just 19 starts at Martinsville Speedway. In a short career Johnson had 50 Sprint Cup wins and 121 top-five finishes. He retired suddenly in 1966 when he was just 35 years old and turned his efforts to fielding cars for other drivers. In 31 years as a car owner, he notched 139 wins and picked up six NASCAR Sprint Cup championships.
Martinsville Speedway PR
Timmy Hill and Pocketfinder.com make Nascar Truck Debut at Talladega with Rick Ware Racing
Location Based Technologies, Inc. (OTCBB: LBAS), maker of the PocketFinder personal GPS devices, announced today they have formally kicked off the company’s NASCAR debut with Rick Ware Racing for the remainder of the 2013 racing season in both the NASCAR Nationwide Series and the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series for select events.
The PocketFinder team and race equipment will be branded specifically with the company’s PocketFinder paint scheme from bumper to bumper (PocketFinder.com). The team will compete in the NASCAR Nationwide and Truck series with races leading up to the acclaimed championship weekend in Homestead Miami. Races include Talladega, Alabama; Martinsville, Virginia; Phoenix, Arizona; and Miami, Florida.
“NASCAR and Rick Ware Racing bring the best of racing and driver safety to its fans. LBT is excited to bring the world’s best personal and vehicle GPS tracking systems to racing fans around the world - for their added safety and security.” said Dave Morse, CEO of Location Based Technologies.
Drivers will be announced prior to each race event, and will carry PocketFinder’s “personal tracking” device with them throughout the pre-race week and in their actual driver’s suit during the race weekends.
Rick Ware stated, “We are excited to be working with LBT and PocketFinder to introduce their technology and brand to the great NASCAR fans across North America. We are going to be bringing back some former Champions and great drivers from the sport in both NASCAR and the United Sports Car Series to be part of this racing effort going forward.”
Rick Ware Racing PR