Saturday, Nov 26
Speedway Digest Staff

Speedway Digest Staff

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As spring rapidly approaches, the JD Motorsports with Gary Keller team looks to California to pick up where they left off at Bristol, finishing the race in the top 25, with a clean car. After battling bad luck at the start of the season, the No. 01 Flex Seal Chevy will head to beautiful Southern California to continue their move up the rankings.

The 2-mile track known for high speeds and nice weather will play host to the Royal Purple 300 on Saturday, March 23rd. The veteran competitor Wallace and his team have experienced success at the track over the past few years, including five straight finishes within the top 25. The team will utilize chassis JDM 007, last used at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Joining the No. 01 team in Fontana is Flex Seal, the easy way to coat, seal, and stop leaks fast. After beginning the season working with Danny Efland and the No. 4 team, the company will continue their support of the team at California with Wallace, as Efland turns the No. 4 machine back to Daryl Harr.

Mike Wallace Quotes: “Getting out of Bristol with a clean car and a top 25 finish was a relief. We needed to end the bad luck. I believe California will be another good race for our organization, and I am happy to have Flex Seal backing the No. 01 this weekend. I just hope we don’t have to use the product on our car!”

Tune in for the Win

The NASCAR Nationwide Series races at the 2-mile Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif., this weekend for a 300 mile race and ESPN will have a live telecast on Saturday, March 23. NASCAR Countdown begins at 4:30 p.m. ET with the green flag at 5:17 p.m. MRN Radio and Sirius XM NASCAR Radio Ch. 98 will also carry the action Saturday. The racing will be preceded by qualifying at 10:35 a.m. on Saturday and one practice sessions at 1:40 p.m. on Friday.

JD Motorsports PR

Chip Ganassi Racing Teams (CGRT) and PNC Financial Services Group, Inc. (NYSE: PNC) have formed a strategic sponsorship for the 2013 race season. The relationship, which includes assets across the CGRT’s IndyCar, NASCAR and Grand-AM programs, will be focused around key motorsports events for each series in the Indianapolis market.

“It is always great when a highly respected company like PNC values the reach of motorsports and makes it part of their marketing mix,” said Chip Ganassi, owner, Chip Ganassi Racing Teams. “Personally, I’ve been a PNC customer for many years and know first-hand what a great bank and a great team they have. We could not have asked for a better alignment with our race teams.”

The agreement includes PNC serving as host for a special ‘Business of Indiana Motorsports’ event for customers, community leaders and media on May 10 at the CGRT Indianapolis race shop which will focus on the economic impact of racing on the state of Indiana.

Taking part in the panel will be industry experts including Chip Ganassi, Mark Miles, CEO, Hulman & Co., and Tom Weisenbach, Executive Director, Indianapolis Motorsports Association, while CGR drivers will provide perspective on the Indianapolis 500, one day prior to the beginning of a month of festivities at Indianapolis Motor Speedway that culminates with theGreatest Spectacle in Racing – the 97th Indianapolis 500.

“What better way for PNC to show its leadership in Indianapolis than to support Chip Ganassi Racing Teams and be part of some of the most thrilling, racing events in the world,” said Connie Bond Stuart, PNC Regional President in Central Indiana. “Our innovative approach to the sponsorship also allows us to enhance local early childhood education with new learning opportunities, instilling excitement in future generations with science and math concepts applied to racing.”

PNC will extendGrow Up Great, its early childhood educational program, to CGR and reach local public school pre-K students who will spend time with the CGR team learning how mathematics and science are applied throughout racing. PNC Grow Up Great is a $350 million, multi-year program that began in 2004 to help prepare children from birth to age 5 for success in school and life. To date it has served more than 1.7 million children with an emphasis on math, science, the arts and financial education.


NASCAR driver/owner Michael Waltrip and driver Martin Truex Jr. will participate in a meet and greet session at The Diamond on Tuesday, April 23, forRichmond International Raceway Night presented by AAA. RIR and the Richmond Flying Squirrels, Double-A Affiliate of the 2012 World Series Champion San Francisco Giants, are teaming up for a special ticket package.

To join the fun, fans may purchase a $35 combo package that includes a reserved Diamond Club seat on the 3rd baseline for the April 23 baseball game, a meet & greet with Waltrip and Truex Jr. that includes a two-hour, all-you-can-eat buffet, and a ticket to the ToyotaCare 250 NASCAR Nationwide Series race on Friday, April 26, at Richmond International Raceway. To purchase this unique and limited experience, please contact Ida Henley This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call 804-359-F-U-N-N, ext. 319.

AAA is setting up their Keys2Drive test track and invites fans to try out the Impaired Driving Simulation Course conducted by the Virginia State Police.

“AAA is thrilled to sponsor an event which combines our river city’s love of baseball and NASCAR while honoring our heritage of more than 100 years of promoting safety on Virginia roadways, “ said Martha Mitchell Meade, Manager of Public and Government Affairs for AAA Mid-Atlantic. “Fans will not only get to witness a NASCAR driver attempting to drive a golf cart on a coned course under a simulated impaired state, but will also get the chance to try the course themselves. After completing the test, we believe that drivers, especially younger less experienced drivers, will become keenly aware of the dangers of driving while impaired.”

“This is some of the best news for me personally, as I am a huge fan of both drivers,” said Flying Squirrels Vice President and COO Todd “Parney” Parnell. “And now our fans will have a chance to interact with these icons leading up to the Toyota Owners 400 and ToyotaCare 250 NASCAR weekend at Richmond International Raceway. We also have a ton of racing giveaways lined up to add to the fun.”

“The partnership among AAA, the Richmond Flying Squirrels and Richmond International Raceway is great for sports fans in Richmond,” said RIR President Dennis Bickmeier. “This unique ticket package combines two of America’s favorite pastimes – baseball and racing. What better way to enjoy a week with the family than with a Flying Squirrels baseball game and a NASCAR Nationwide Series race under the lights?”





Homestead-Miami Speedway today announced itsRefer A Fan program where ticket purchasers receive benefits when they refer an individual who also purchases tickets to the 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship race, the Ford EcoBoost 400 (Nov. 17). Track President Matthew Becherer made the announcement.

The incentive, available to any fan that has purchased tickets for the Ford EcoBoost 400, automatically activates when a new purchaser provides the account number of an existing seat holder at the time of purchase.

“Our most loyal fans are the greatest advocates,” said Homestead-Miami Speedway President Matthew Becherer. “Post-event surveys show consistently that our fans have an emotional connection to our track and races. We are thrilled to offer this program, both as a way of saying thank you to our guests that return year after year and as a means to encourage new generations of fans to experience firsthand the thrill of NASCAR championship racing.”

The account holder will receive additional benefits for each referral as follows:

§ For every grandstand account created with purchased tickets from each referral, the current guest will receive

o One (1) Pre Race Pit Pass for the first account;

o One (1) Coke Zero Fan Zone pass for the second account (in addition to the above);

o Garage access for two (2) for a third account (in addition to the two items above).

§ For every Premium account created by way of referral, the referring account holder guest will receive garage access for two. Premium accounts includeSpeedway Club, Pit Box and Champions Club seating areas.

The garage access incentive affords guests the opportunity to see behind-the-scenes activity that most race fans only see on television.

A Coke Zero Fan Zone pass includes: A buffet lunch and snacks; Q&A sessions with the Coca-Cola Racing family of drivers; and a Pre-Race Pit Pass.

A Pre-Race Pit Pass allows: Guests to walk on pit road and the frontstretch of Homestead-Miami Speedway; access to the pits on both Saturday and Sunday during specified times; an opportunity to sign the Start/Finish Line; and have an up close view during Ford EcoBoost 400 driver introductions.

TheRefer A Fan program is available online at or by calling the Homestead-Miami Speedway Ticket Sales department at 305.230.5255. The incentives are subject to availability.





And then there were two. Dale Earnhardt Jr., the only driver in the history of Talladega Superspeedway to capture four consecutive NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race victories at the 2.66-mile venue, will join defending Series Champion Brad Keselowski in the driver lineup for the Talladega Experience during the upcoming Aaron’s Dream Weekend, May 3-5.

This year’s crop of drivers is shaping up to be one of the best in years, and even more of NASCAR’s finest will be announced to join Dale Jr. and Keselowski in the Talladega Experience in the coming weeks. The Talladega Experience is a fun, one-of-a-kind fan hospitality event unrivaled by any other in the sporting world.

“Talladega has always been a special place,” said Dale Jr., who has won two Aaron’s 499’s at Talladega. “The fans there are really passionate about racing. I enjoy watching them probably as much as they enjoy watching us, because Talladega fans seem to set the bar when it comes to expressing their passion. I look forward to seeing them again in May, and I hope for a good turn-out at the Talladega Experience.”

In addition to driver appearances, guests of the Talladega Experience are treated to unlimited catering and beverages, up-close and personal access to driver question and answer sessions, pre-race pit road tours, track access during driver introductions, VIP parking, event souvenirs, and more. Additional drivers to appear in the Talladega Experience will be announced in the near future. Keselowski, the defending Sprint Cup Series titlist and reining Aaron’s 499 champ, got his big break in NASCAR driving for Dale Jr.’s Nationwide team in 2007.

“What a dynamic duo we have for our first two drivers for the finest hospitality venue in motorsports,” said Talladega Superspeedway Chairman Grant Lynch. “Dale Jr. has a lot of history at our place and the fans love him here. We are thrilled that our fans can see Dale Jr. and hear what he has to say about the racing at Talladega. There just isn’t a better way to enjoy race day at ‘DEGA than with this exclusive opportunity within the Talladega Experience.”


Four races into the 2013 season and Jeff Gordon has only one finish better than 20th. Yet he is still ahead of last year's pace when he earned a coveted "Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup" spot.


In 2012, the driver of the No. 24 Drive To End Hunger Chevrolet entered the fifth race of the season with 85 championship points. Heading into this Sunday's Auto Club 400, the three-time Auto Club Speedway winner has five more points and has led 92 more laps compared to this time last year.


"We were hoping for a good points day at Bristol," said Gordon, who experienced tire issues while leading, hit the turn 4 wall and finished 34th at Bristol Motor Speedway last weekend. "That didn't happen but we had a strong car during the event.


"We'll just put that behind us and focus on Fontana."


Along with three wins (1997, 1999 and 2004), Gordon has two poles (1998 and 2007), 10 top-fives and 11 top-10's in 23 starts at the two-mile track. Last year here, Gordon started 21st and maneuvered inside the top five without the aid of a caution flag. But a pit-road penalty under green-flag conditions led to a 26th-place finish in the rain-shortened event.

"My team gave me a heck of a race car here last year," said Gordon, who won the inaugural event at Auto Club Speedway. "Even though it's a new car (Generation-6, Chevrolet SS), we're hoping to have that speed and handling again this weekend.


"But with a better qualifying effort."


During this year's campaign, Gordon's 7.0 average starting position ranks fifth. But his average finish of 22.0 includes the wreck at Bristol and a 25th-place finish at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.


"We didn't have the type of run any of us wanted at Las Vegas," said crew chief Alan Gustafson. "But we learned a lot, and we went in a little different direction - one that seemed to work - at Bristol.


"The high-banked short track at Bristol may appear to be very different than the high-speed two-mile track at Fontana, but I'm hoping some of the things we learned with this car at Bristol will carry over to this weekend."


And catapult Gordon to victory No. 88.



For Aric Almirola and the No. 43 Farmland Ford team, it's time for them to show their mettle. After falling in the point standings following an incident in Bristol, Almirola and the No. 43 team are determined to climb back up the point standings.


Almirola will make his ninth NASCAR series start at the Auto Club Speedway this weekend in the No. 43 Farmland Ford. The Richard Petty Motorsports driver looks to surpass his best California finish of sixth, which he posted in 2010 in the Nationwide Series, in Sunday's Auto Club 400.


As part of their Race to End Hunger, Almirola will join Farmland Foods this week to present a cash and protein donation to Second Harvest Food Bank. The donation will help feed thousands of families, children and seniors in the Inland Empire. The announcement and presentation will be held at the Auto Club Speedway on Friday, March 22 at 9:30 a.m. and will include remarks from Farmland, Aric and Second Harvest Food Bank representatives, as well as photo opportunities.


Comments from Farmland Ford Fusion Driver Aric Almirola:


"Last week was a hard hit to our team. We fell in the point standings, but I have a lot of confidence in Todd (crew chief Todd Parrott) and in this No. 43 team. I really believe that we can still come back and get into a position to make the chase. We just have a hole to dig out of, but it's early in the season.


"Our cars have been good this season and last weekend was no different. I'm confident that we can continue to bring good cars to the track and put together solid finishes. We don't like having bad weekends, but it probably makes us even hungrier to get back to the track. We just need a solid race this Sunday and we'll be in good shape.


"California is all about handling. Being two miles and low banking, you have to have a good handling car to be fast. We tested this car in Vegas and felt good about it. That will help us unload well and hopefully have a good weekend."


Comments from Crew Chief Todd Parrott on California:


"We tested this car at Vegas, and it had good speed. Aric does a good job at the intermediate tracks, so I think he'll do a good job this weekend too. The key for us will be to keep our heads up and fight harder to get back up in the standings. We have been consistent every week so far. If we keep that up, we'll be in a good place by the end of the season."



At any time that David Gilliland isn't in his No. 38 Ford at Auto Club Speedway this weekend, he'll probably be busy visiting with an old friend or family member. The Riverside, Calif., native enjoys the annual homecoming to the Fontana speedway, his home track before moving across the country seven years ago to pursue his NASCAR career.


Gilliland hopes to answer all the support with his best run of the young season. His team aims to top the 24th-place finish earned last weekend at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway, where they were running in the top 15 until suffering damage from a blown tire.


Long John Silver's returns to Gilliland's Ford Fusion at the two-mile Auto Club Speedway, where the driver has 11 Sprint Cup career starts. His best finish is 17th (2008).


Comments from Long John Silver's team driver David Gilliland heading to Fontana:


"I always like going back to California. When I moved to North Carolina, I moved from a place about five or 10 minutes from the racetrack there. So I've still got a lot of friends and family there and a lot of people that helped me and gave me opportunities along the way to get me where I'm at today. So I always like going back and visiting with people who are special to me and my career.


"It's fun. I think all the West Coast races have a David Gilliland cheering section. It's neat to come see everybody. We'll probably have sections in the infield, in the grandstands, all over the place.


"The racetrack itself is aero-dependent with less banking. It seems the less banking, the more aero-dependent a track is. And that's the kind of track where Front Row Motorsports as a team has been working really hard to get better at, so we're looking forward to going there to put some new ideas on track and make some gains. The track is plenty wide and we've seen the top groove come in there, so it's a fun track to run.


"Our organization has come leaps and bounds over the winter from where we were. Bob Jenkins has really put a lot into the team over the off-season and the guys have worked really hard. We've added some new key people and moved some other people around. We've got Derrick Finley back into a true competition director role and he's really been able to step up our program in all aspects of our team. We've got a new crew chief on board, and it's just been really good seeing the transformation taking place. This is my fourth year with Front Row and I feel like we're leaps and bounds ahead of where we've ever been."



Auto Club Speedway will be a perfect stage for Josh Wise to perform for the hometown crowd. The Riverside, Calif., native says the wide and weathered two-mile track puts a lot more racing in the driver's hands than other tracks, and he'll be eager to put on a good show in the No. 35 MDS Transport Ford for family and friends.


While some of the venues on the Sprint Cup Series circuit have been repaved in recent years, the track surface of Auto Club Speedway is old and abrasive, and its multiple grooves promote passing. Both are characteristics that give drivers more control of their own destiny.


Sunday's Auto Club 400 will be Wise's second Sprint Cup start at the Fontana, Calif., track. He also has four career starts at the speedway in the Nationwide Series.


Comments from MDS Transport team driver Josh Wise heading to Fontana:


"I love going out to Fontana, obviously, because I'm from Southern California. So just seeing family and friends and being back where I grew up, it's great to be back there. And then on top of that, the racetrack is just awesome. It has multiple grooves and you really feel like you can do something there with the way you're driving and how you can move around with your car and help it to the best of your ability, where you get a little stuck in some of the places that are more newly paved.


"Everyone's going to have better answers about the Gen-6 cars as we go through more races, but I think they're awesome cars. Something that we do know right now is they look really cool. That, in itself, is neat. They're easy on the eye and that helps connect with the fan and engage the fan more. From a driving perspective, we've taken downforce away from them, so a lot more is going to be based on mechanical grip. And with some of these repaves, as the tracks wear in, we can go back with softer tires and we'll actually have some tire fall-off and then the racing should get more and more exciting.


"It's just neat to go home. And to have family and friends there is icing on the cake. Plus, it's a great racetrack to race on. It's one of my favorite places to go."



Auto Club Speedway is rough, worn out and abrasive, but David Ragan is looking forward to racing on the two-mile oval in Fontana, Calif. The character-filled track will be a good test of Front Row Motorsports' new Ford Fusions and how they handle on an intermediate track.


The team made strides in the off-season to improve the aero platform for its cars, which the team builds in-house at its Statesville, N.C., shop. But, like every other team in the Sprint Cup Series, the team is still learning and adapting as the Gen-6 car makes its debut at each new track where the series races.


Sunday's Auto Club 400 will be Ragan's 11th start at the Southern California speedway. He has one top-10 and four top-15 finishes at the track, with a top result of seventh (2009).


Comments from Front Row Motorsports team driver David Ragan heading to Fontana:


"Going to Fontana, by then we should have a pretty good notebook of what the car's done, how it's reacted, what kind of issues we've had to overcome, maybe mechanical parts and pieces that we need to improve. The racetrack is very worn out and has multiple grooves, and we usually have to deal with weather throughout the weekend. It's a racetrack that's very hard on tires. It's abrasive. It's going to be interesting to see how the tires react to a little bit lighter racecar with the new Gen-6 car.


"As we talk about each race coming up, I think the first time we go to each track with this car it's going to be a new slate. The first time we go to a Chicago or a Michigan or a Pocono or a road course, everything is going to be different. So, Fontana will be very much different, too. It will be very interesting to see who has a lot of momentum going into Fontana, who's done well the first few races.


"We worked really hard on our downforce tracks - the high-speed, mile-and-a-half, two-mile racetrack program - at Front Row Motorsports over the last year or two. The team's done well at the superspeedways and road courses and had some solid runs at the short tracks. But we've really needed to work on the mile-and-a-half and two-mile programs. And it's something we've worked hard on this off-season, trying to hang our bodies to maximize the downforce at these places. Our engine department is doing a nice job. The Roush-Yates engines are always strong. We've just got to keep working on getting our aero platform better, trying to get our tires to work more efficiently, and hopefully we can close the gap to some of our competitors at these mile-and-a-half tracks.


"Southern California does have some cool places to visit. When you first join the Sprint Cup circuit, you do all that stuff. But once you've done it three or four times, you scale back a little. You've always got these cool restaurants that you go to every time. There's a neat little Italian place right down the road from the racetrack that's a good place. But as far as the lights and the Hollywood stuff, we tend to skip that stuff now and take it easy closer to the track."




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