Saturday, Nov 26
Speedway Digest Staff

Speedway Digest Staff

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Hoping for a bit of lucky with the No. 7 SANY America Chevy SS, Dave Blaney cracked the top-15 before a blown right front tire sent him to the garage.

From the drop of the green flag, Blaney struggled with handling woes that challenged his ability to make forward progress in the early going. Crew Chief/Team Owner Tommy Baldwin made continual adjustments to dial in the No. 7 car to Blaney's comfort level.

Just past the halfway point of the Food City 500, Blaney hit his strides and was making steady gains and passing cars on his way to the front, Dave Blaney and the entire No. 7 team were pumped with energy seeing their hard work pay off when suddenly at lap 321 Blaney hit the wall as a result of a flat right front tire. Upon further review in the garage area, the damage was too extensive for a return to the track. Dave Blaney finished the day in 36th. 

"I am proud of my team, they worked so hard this weekend and the progress is really showing," Blaney said. "We just cracked the top-15 when our tire blew which was a huge disappointment for not just me but for SANY as well. This entire team is made of fighters, on to California!"
 
"We didn't get the results we wanted, but I continue to be encouraged by the direction of our program," Baldwin said. "Our guys worked really hard all weekend and I hate it for them; but we've got a really good car for Fontana, so we'll put Bristol behind us and forge ahead."
 
TBR PR
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Timmy Hill will make his first 2013 series start on Sunday, March 24th, in the “Auto Club 400” at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California.He will pilot the FAS Lane Racing No. 32 OXYwater Ford Fusion.
 
“I’ve had quick success with FAS Lane Racing in the three 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series starts,” said Hill.“We all gelled right away last year and we are all optimistic on what the 2013 season will bring.”
 
Hill will be racing 18 to 20 races of the 36-race schedule in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, splitting seat time with veteran NASCAR drivers Ken Schrader and Terry Labonte.Hill is a Rookie of the Year contender.
 
“We have our eye on that Rookie of the Year award, but the main thing is for me to continue to grow as a driver and we as a team continue to improve each week.If last year’s starts I had with FAS Lane Racing and this year’s team performance is any indication, we should have a very successful season.”
 
The FAS Lane Racing No. 32 team is currently 34th in owner points after finishing a strong 25th in the “Food City 500” at Bristol Motor Speedway (TN) on Sunday, March 17th with Labonte behind the wheel.
 
Timmy Hill PR
Ryan Gifford, once again, had a strong finish in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series (NKNPS) East season opener at Bristol Motor Speedway, bringing home a third-place finish for Rev Racing in his No. 2 NASCAR Technical Institute/UTI Toyota.
 
Bryan Ortiz was competitive all day in the DRIVE4COPD 125, but finished 21st. Daniel Suarez and Mackena Bell finished 26th and 29th, respectively.
 
Gifford – the highest returning finisher from this race last year – started eighth on the grid and finished third. It’s the second straight year that he kicked off the season with a third-place effort at Bristol.
 
“This is a good start to the year,” said Gifford. “This kind of race shows us that what we did over the winter was going in the right direction. I think we’ll be able to contend all year.”
 
Ortiz – Rookie of the Year runner up in 2012 – had a strong showing in his No. 4 Nike Toyota. He qualified seventh, and ran in the Top 5 most of the day. He was running in fourth place with one lap to go when he got a flat tire coming out of Turn 2, ending his day with a 21st place finish.
 
Suarez had a strong No. 6 Acapulco Toyota. He started in 24th position and was able to pass competitors and move up 13 spots, running as high as 11th. He had a good handle on the car and felt confident he could score a Top-10 finish. With 18 laps to go, he was forced to pit due to mechanical issues and didn’t have enough time in the race to make up missed ground; he finished 26th.
 
This was Bell’s first race at Bristol Motor Speedway. She spent both practices getting a feel for the track and her No. 21 Toyota Racing Development Toyota. Her lap times improved during both practice sessions and she qualified 25th. Once the race started she was able to run as high as 21st, but an incident on Lap 55 forced her to pit so the team could evaluate the damage. She was able to finish the race, and came home 29th.
 
The Rev Racing NKNPS East drivers head to Greenville Pickens Speedway (S.C.) this Saturday, March 23, for the Kevin Whitaker Chevrolet 125. Ortiz, Suarez and Gifford had top-15 finishes there last year, and are looking to improve on those results this weekend.
 
Rev Racing PR

 

John Wes Townley made his return to the NASCAR Nationwide Series (NNS) this past weekend driving the Venturini Motorsports No.25 Zaxby’s Toyota during the Jeff Foxworthy’s Grit Chips 300 at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Arriving with much anticipation John Wes was eager to get back behind the wheel of his NNS car. After a strong first practice session Friday morning John Wes found himself 13th on the speed charts with a 15.78 second lap time. The team continued to work on the car set-up and prepared for Saturday’s main eventAfter fighting a tight race car and qualifying 34th (16.149) the Venturini crew was confident based on John Wes’s practice speeds the car would improve once the race began.

“We didn’t get the qualifying position we were expecting but we never lost confidence knowing what we had during Friday’s practice sessions,” said crew chief, Dan Deeringhoff.

Once the race began, John Wes showed patience as he began to slowly improve his track position climbing up to the 23rd position. After a series of pit stops and changes to the No.25 Zaxby’s car midway through the 300-lap event John Wes settled in and focused on the second half of the race.

Inside 100-laps to go in the race, Townley broke into the top-20. Strong pit stops and valuable track position allowed Townley to creep into the 17th position where he ultimately finished.

“Obviously I wasn’t thrilled with my starting position but knew we were really good during race runs. All-in-all it was a great day and I was extremely happy with the team’s weekend performance. I feel we learned a lot and will improve the next time we hit the track,” stated Townley.

After starting 34th and finishing 17th, Townley gained the most positions of any driver during the event. In 44 career NNS starts, John Wes’s best finish (15th) came at Las Vegas in 2010 and Talladega in 2012.

Townley’s next NNS event with Venturini Motorsports will come on May 4th at Talladega Superspeedway. In the meantime, he’ll resume his NASCAR Camping World Truck Series schedule at Martinsville on April 6th and will be back with Venturini in the ARCA car at Salem Speedway on April 28th.

VMS PR

 

Martinsville Speedway fans everywhere should be wearing huge smiles today. The new Gen-6 Sprint Cup cars passed their first short-track test yesterday with flying colors.

In less than three weeks, on April 7, these sleek, fast and very competitive cars roll into Martinsville Speedway for the STP® Gas Booster™ 500.

“Now with one short-track race in the record book, I think the Gen-6 car is perfect for Martinsville Speedway,” said Clay Campbell, president of Martinsville Speedway. “I thought all along that this new car, especially being 100 pounds lighter, will certainly make a good race car on a half-mile track. They should be faster than ever!”

Tight racing on short tracks means lots of bumping and banging, which leads to irritable and angry drivers. Sunday was no different. Denny Hamlin and his former Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Joey Logano had a couple on-track altercations, which led to frayed tempers and a little pushing and shoving in the pits. It didn’t end there; the two had a spirited exchange on Twitter later in the evening.

“With the STP® Gas Booster™ 500 at Martinsville being the next short-track race, you can bet tempers will flare, scores will be settled and favors returned,” said Campbell. “That’s what fans always expect to see here and I’m sure they won’t be disappointed.”

Martinsville Speedway PR

Fresh off the heels of announcing a new three year sponsor commitment with OXYwater™, FAS Lane Racing welcomed their new partner with a solid 25th-place finish in the running of the Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway. Former NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champion Terry Labonte showed that he is still the man and piloted the team’s No. 32 OXYwater™ Ford to the top-25 finish in the 500-lap brawl at “The World’s Fastest Half Mile”.

“Terry and everyone on this FAS Lane Racing team did a great job this weekend and it showed with a solid finish for our new sponsor,” stated FAS Lane Racing owner Frank Stoddard. “OXYwater™ brought a group of people to the track and it was really exciting to have them as part of our team for the day. This is exciting times for our race team and we look forward to continuing our growth and relationship with OXYwater.”

The hard fought 25th-place finish moved FAS Lane Racing up to 34th in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series owners points. The Bristol finish bettered the team’s 26th-place finish in the season opening Daytona 500.

“This FAS Lane Racing team worked hard all weekend on this OXYwater™ Ford,” said Labonte. “We were not all that good when we unloaded on Friday and that showed in our qualifying effort. We gained a little on it during our Saturday practices but today in the race Frank and the crew made some great adjustments and we got pretty good there the second half of the race. We were one more small adjustment away from being a car capable of finishing 10 spots better. In all a solid day and a good way to welcome OXYwater™ to the FAS Lane Racing family."

FAS Lane Racing and their No. 32 OXYwater™ Ford next head west to Auto Club Speedway for the running of the Auto Club 400 this Sunday March 24th at 2:30 p.m. ET. The race can be viewed LIVE nationally on FOX and heard on affiliated MRN radio stations and on Sirius XM NASCAR Radio 90.

FAS Lane Racing PR

After Lady Luck broke Casey Mears’ heart in Las Vegas, the GEICO driver quickly rebounded when he arrived at Bristol Motor Speedway a week later. The Fall 2012 Bristol race saw Mears and Germain Racing capture their first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Pole and lead the opening 26 laps of the race. Both parties hoped this weekend would be a continuation of their August effort.

Mears took his #13 GEICO Ford Fusion on a quick tour of Bristol Motor Speedway before landing 17th on the speed chart during Friday’s opening NASCAR Sprint Cup Series practice session. He later qualified 15th after flying around the World’s Fastest Half-Mile at a prompt 127.588-miles per hour.

With the color green already integrated into the standard paint scheme of the #13 GEICO Ford Fusion, Mears and his Germain Racing team were ready to do battle on St. Patrick’s Day. When the green flag turned the field loose for 500 laps of door-to-door racing action, Mears ran solidly in 15th before a lap nine caution slowed the field. Mears ran hard into the rear of David Gilliland’s #38 car, but was no worse for the wear. However, the next caution would take a toll on the Germain Racing entry. Mears was 15th when Jeff Burton, Carl Edwards and Marcos Ambrose stacked up on lap 54. Beginning to feel more like a pinball than racecar driver, Mears now found himself on the other end of Gilliland’s #38 car when it made contact with the rear of the #13 GEICO Fusion, causing heavy damage. After a visit to pit road for fresh tires, fuel and repairs, he was able to restart 18th due to quick work by the Germain Racing pit crew.

Just sixteen laps later, on lap 70, the event’s third caution flag of the day flew, allowing Mears the opportunity to bring his GEICO Fusion to the attention of his pit crew to continue repairs from the lap 54 incident. After visiting pit road twice under caution, Mears would drop all the way back to 34th where he would soon find himself a lap down while trying to make his way back to the front. While passing is hard to come by at Bristol, he quickly made his ascension through the field and by lap 226, the #13 GEICO Ford Fusion was back in the Top 20. Lap 353 found Mears in the Lucky Dog position, hoping for a caution flag that would return him to the lead lap. His patience would be a virtue because it would take 37 laps before the next yellow flag was displayed, but Mears held his position and was promptly returned to the lead lap on lap 390.

When the checkered flag closed 266.5-miles of racing, Casey Mears and his #13 GEICO Ford Fusion had hustled their way to a 15th place finish. After falling victim to an early incident and being relegated to the rear of the field, he was able to pick up 19 positions at a track where passing can sometimes be a rarity. His effort accounts for Germain Racing’s second Top 15 finish in four races.

“We definitely had to earn it today because we got caught up in that deal on lap 54 which caused a lot of rear-end damage to our GEICO Ford Fusion,” Mears said. “The guys on the pit crew did an excellent job and they were able to make repairs quickly and we had good stops all day. This was a true team effort and it paid off in the end. We were very competitive all weekend and it was fun to race. I’m glad we were able to fight back and get a good finish for GEICO, Ford and our associate sponsor Tradebank.”

Adding to the excitement, Mears jumps three spots in the driver point standings and now sits 22nd, just six points removed from the Top 20. Team owner Bob Germain makes a three-position jump of his own and rests 23rd in owner points, a mere seven points behind the 20th position.

The GEICO team will now head back out west for the third time in four weeks when they travel to California for race number five of the 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season.

PMI/Casey Mears PR

Race Highlights:

  • Richard Childress Racing teammates finished ninth (Kevin Harvick), 10th (Paul Menard) and 32nd (Jeff Burton).
  • Harvick and Menard posted 38 of the Fastest Laps Run, completing 29 and nine laps respectively.
  • With an average speed of 120.626 mph, Harvick ranked third in Green Flag Speed, while Menard was 10th with an average lap of 120.282 mph.
  • Harvick's speed of 119.531 mph placed him fourth in the loop data category, Fastest Drivers Late in a Run. Menard was sixth with a speed of 119.506 mph.
  • Burton completed 20 Green Flag Passes and maintained an Average Running Position of 33.014 after sustaining damage during an early-race incident.
  • Kasey Kahne earned his first victory of the 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season and was followed to the finish line by Kyle Busch, Brad Keselowski, Kurt Busch and Clint Bowyer.
  • The next Sprint Cup Series race is the Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway on Sunday, March 24. The fifth race of the 2013 season is scheduled to be televised live on FOX beginning at 3 p.m. Eastern Time and broadcast live on the Motor Racing Network and Sirius XM NASCAR Satellite Radio.


2011 CC Team Icon 27 NSCS Menards

Menard Captures Second-Consecutive Top 10, Finishing Ninth

at Bristol Motor Speedway

 

Paul Menard captured his second-consecutive top-10 finish after pit strategy played a key role in Sunday's Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway. Starting from the fifth position, Menard quickly made his way into the top three 20 laps into the 500-lap event. Just a few circuits into his second green-flag run, the Wisconsin native relayed to his crew the SYLVANIA/Menards Chevrolet was tight on entry and exit through the corners. As the laps wore on, the No. 27 machine's handling appeared to get better. This proved to be a common theme throughout the day as Menard struggled with a tight condition in the beginning of a run, but saw improvement after the tires heated at the end of a run. Multiple caution periods coupled with a tight condition in the early stages of a run, caused Menard to slip back to 18th before coming to the pits on lap 350 for four tires and fuel. Shortly after exiting the pits, crew chief "Slugger" Labbe communicated to his driver he needed to save fuel. When the caution flag flew on lap 296, Labbe elected to keep his driver out of the pits, knowing the majority of the field would have to come down pit road for fuel. The fuel strategy paid off and Menard gained 12 spots to restart in second-place with less than 100 laps remaining. Though Menard was on older tires than many of his competitors, he was able to maintain his position inside the top 10 crossing the stripe in ninth. Menard's top-10 finish allowed him to gain three spots in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver championship points standings as he now sits in ninth heading into the 400-mile event at Auto Club Speedway next weekend.

 

Start - 5 Finish - 9Laps Led - 0 Points - 9

 

PAUL MENARD QUOTE:

"It's great to bring home another top-10 finish this weekend. In the beginning of a run we struggled with a tight condition, but the more laps we got on our tires, the better the car would handle. We got shuffled back in the field near the middle portion of the race, but 'Slugger' Labbe (crew chief) did a great job with fuel strategy and we made the right call at the end to stay out, allowing us to gain track position. It turned out to be a great day for the SYLVANIA/Menards crew. We've got some more momentum heading into Fontana. Hopefully, we can keep our top-10 streak alive out in California."

 

 

 

Harvick Finishes 14th at Bristol Motor Speedway

 

Kevin Harvick drove the No. 29 Budweiser Chevrolet SS to a 14th-place finish at Bristol Motor Speedway on Sunday afternoon after late-race pit strategy played against the Richard Childress Racing team. The Bakersfield, Calif., native started the Food City 500 from the 18th position and began a charge toward the front of the field during the early laps. Following a two-tire pit stop under caution, Harvick was scored in the 10th position for the lap-62 restart. As the race progressed, Harvick remained a fixture in the top 10 until coming down pit road on lap 396 under caution for four fresh tires and fuel. Several teams opted to take two tires, or not pit at all, positioning the red and white Chevrolet SS 15th for the ensuing restart. Back under green-flag conditions, Harvick worked his way through the field once again, lining up 10th for the final restart on lap 461. As green-flag racing resumed, the RCR veteran driver was shuffled back in the pack and ultimately crossed the finish line 14th. The top-15 result allowed Harvick to gain two positions, moving to 17th in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver championship point standings.

 

Start - 18 Finish - 14 Laps Led - 0 Points - 17

 

KEVIN HARVICK QUOTE:

"That was not the result we were looking for today. Our Budweiser Chevrolet was fast, but we lost track position when pit strategy late in the race didn't work in our favor. We'll learn from our mistakes and move on to the next race."

 

 

 

On-Track Incident Relegates Jeff Burton to 32nd-Place Finish

at Bristol Motor Speedway

 

A multi-car accident on a lap 55 collected Jeff Burton's No. 31 Cheerios Chevrolet and spoiled any chance of a solid effort from the Richard Childress Racing team at Bristol Motor Speedway. The South Boston Va., native started the race in 16th-place and maintained a top-20 running position for the first 54 laps of the 500-lap event when multiple competitors in front of the 21-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race winner checked up, creating an accordion-style accident which collected the No. 31 Chevrolet. The right-front and left-rear damage to the yellow and black machine was extensive enough to force the team to make repairs during multiple pit stops under caution-flag conditions, with Burton eventually returning to the track four laps down to the leader in 40th. The No. 31 Cheerios crew, led by crew chief Luke Lambert, worked hard all afternoon to keep the car running competitive lap times until the right-front damage forced the team to make a quick trip to the garage to make further repairs. After returning to the track again, Burton was able to gain eight positions to finish in the 32nd position. With the finish, Burton now sits 25th in the Sprint Cup Series driver championship point standings.

 

Start - 16 Finish - 32 Laps Led - 0 Points - 25

 

JEFF BURTON QUOTE:

"We had a good car in practice all weekend and bad luck just struck us early in the race. It was something out of our control which is very frustrating. There was nothing I could've done to avoid it. This No. 31 Cheerios crew led by Luke (Lambert, crew chief) never gave up. They fixed the car quickly and we ran competitive lap times for the remainder of the race. That's all I can ask for in that situation."

 

RCR PR

Danica Patrick battled a tight-handling racecar and a late pit-road speeding penalty en route to a 28th-place finish Sunday in the Food City 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway.

Patrick, driver of the No. 10 GoDaddy.com Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), started 41st and dealt early with a tight-handling car. While Patrick provided superb feedback regarding the car, crew chief Tony Gibson began tinkering with the handling of the GoDaddy.com Chevy with tire pressure, wedge and track bar adjustments, as well as inserting and extracting spring rubbers from the rear springs.

As the race moved along, Patrick’s car began to come to life. But the rapid pace of the race around the .533-mile oval – and lack of caution periods – put her three laps down to the leaders with 150 laps to go. Despite being three laps down, Patrick was still in 25th place with a top-20 result within reach.

But after a pit stop under caution on lap 350 for four tires, fuel and a track bar adjustment, NASCAR officials ruled Patrick’s car exceeded the 30-mph pit-road speed limit in zone six (the end of pit road). She was forced to serve a pass-through penalty.

After serving the penalty shortly after the green flag came out, Patrick fell to 30th, four laps behind the leaders. While a good finish was out of the question, her Sprint Cup Series education continued.

“There are a lot of things that I have to work on at this point in time,” Patrick said. “For us, the most important thing is to find a decent balance to start off the race so that we don’t drop back.

“We’ve been really loose the last couple of races, so we wanted to make sure we were tight. So we decided that was our accomplishment today was to aim to be tight, and we were. So we probably didn’t need to, and, in fact, we probably kind of knew we were over-compensating. But we just never really got it completely freed up like we needed to. It was better later in the race, but by then the damage is done.”

Patrick’s SHR teammate, Ryan Newman, driver of the No. 39 Haas Automation Chevrolet SS, finished seventh to score his second top-10 finish of the season and his 13th top-10 in 23 career Sprint Cup starts at Bristol.

Tony Stewart, driver of the No. 14 Bass Pro Shops/Mobil 1 Chevrolet for SHR, finished 31st after a cut left-rear tire sent him spinning into the turn one wall on lap nine of the 500-lap race. His crew repaired the No. 14 machine after a lengthy stay on pit road. After returning to the track in 41st, Stewart gained 10 positions by the time the checkered flag dropped.

Kasey Kahne won the Food City 500 to score his 15th career Sprint Cup victory, his first of the season and his first at Bristol.

Kyle Busch finished 1.7 seconds behind Kahne in the runner-up spot, while Brad Keselowski, Kurt Busch and Clint Bowyer rounded out the top-five. Dale Earnhardt Jr., Newman, Brian Vickers, Paul Menard and Jamie McMurray comprised the remainder of the top-10.

There were 10 caution periods for 66 laps, with 10 drivers failing to finish the 500-lap race.

With round four of 36 complete, Newman leads the SHR contingent in the championship point standings. He gained eight spots to climb to 23rd, 79 points behind series leader and reigning Sprint Cup champion Keselowski. Stewart dropped six positions to 24th, 81 points out of first. Patrick picked up two spots to rise to 28th, 97 points behind Keselowski.

Patrick, who is competing for Rookie of the Year honors against Ricky Stenhouse Jr., finished 12 spots behind Stenhouse, who placed 16th.

TSC PR

Alex Bowman and the RAB Racing team headed to Bristol Motor Speedway to compete in Saturday's Grit Chips 300. The team proved that they had a fast Toyota Camry, finishing 14th in Bowman's first start at the World's Fastest Half-Mile and taking over the lead in the Rookie of the Year Battle.

 

Friday at Bristol Motor Speedway started off great as the team practiced near the front in both sessions. In the first practice session, the No. 99 St. Jude Children's Research Hospital Toyota Camry ran the second fastest time at a 15.49, while making a mock qualifying run. In the second practice the team primarily worked on their race and long green flag run setup, setting the seventh fastest time at a 15.57. The team did have some bad luck in practice as a tire malfunction slowed down their progress, losing valuable practice time.

 

Saturday began with a 15th-place qualifying effort for the Jeff Foxworthy's Grit Chips 300. "It's not exactly what we were hoping for," said Bowman. "We definitely had a car capable of qualifying on the pole but I just didn't push it as hard as I needed to. I knew we had a good car for the race, knew I was locked into the race and just didn't want to hurt the car and that set of tires trying to push too hard, but it kind of back fired. Qualifying is so important at this track because it's hard to pass and come through the field. It's something I'll get right for the next time we come here."

 

The race began with the Bowman going to the front, reaching as high as 11th position as soon as the green flag dropped, but it was evident that something was wrong. "Since we missed a lot of practice time in the second session due to a bad tire, we didn't get the necessary test time when the track had a lot of rubber on it," said Bowman. "That translated into just missing the setup when the track took rubber in the middle of the race. It completely changed the handling of the car and we just didn't have the practice time to make the necessary adjustments. I really had my hands full."

 

Bowman and the St. Jude Children's Research Hospital RAB Racing Toyota Camry finished in 14th place, the last car on the lead lap. They moved up two positions in the driver's point standings to eighth place, and took over the lead in the Sunoco Rookie of the Year standings, two points ahead of Kyle Larson.

 

Alex Bowman: "A long time ago, if you would have told me that one day I would have been disappointed with a 14th place finish in my first tip to Bristol in a NASCAR Nationwide Series car, I would have thought you were crazy. The level this RAB Racing team is at right now is incredible. We can easily challenge for wins every week in this series, and that's the reason I'm disappointed in the finish. If it wasn't for a few small issues, we could have been a contender this week, but looking at the big picture I learned a lot about this track and this car and I'm extremely happy the car is in one piece. On to California where I know the alliance with Toyota Racing Development will pay huge dividends being their home track and having a strong speedway program."

 

RAB Racing and Bowman look to continue their climb up the point standings next week and head to the AAA Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California for the Royal Purple 300 on Saturday March 23rd.

 

RAB Racing PR

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