Speedway Digest Staff
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Jeff Burton delivered a solid performance in his second straight NASCAR Sprint Cup Series start as the interim driver of the No. 14 Bass Pro Shops/Mobil 1 Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR).
Subbing for regular driver Tony Stewart, Burton started 25th and ran as high as fourth before finishing 15th in the Irwin Tools Night Race Saturday at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway.
“We had a fast car till about 150 to go,” said Burton after making his 41st career Sprint Cup start at Bristol. “We got some nose damage and we weren’t good after that. But I’m proud of the effort of everyone on this Bass Pro Shops/Mobil 1 team.”
Burton used his fast racecar to pick up 10 positions in the race’s first 160 laps. A savvy strategy call by crew chief Chad Johnston to stay out during a caution period from lap 196 to lap 200 allowed Burton to leapfrog his way to fourth. With clear racetrack in front of him, Burton rattled off his quickest laps of the race.
However, after a pit stop during a caution period on lap 361, the handling of the No. 14 machine went away. A hole in the nose of the Bass Pro Shops/Mobil 1 Chevy seemed to be the culprit, as the beating and banging that accompanies racing around Bristol’s .533-mile bullring seemingly spares no one. Despite being a short track, aerodynamics still play a role at Bristol, and the gaping hole in the No. 14 car’s nose drastically affected its handling.
Johnston took advantage of a caution on lap 434 to repair the nose via ample amounts of tape, and when racing resumed, Burton wheeled the Bass Pro Shops/Mobil1 Chevy to a respectable top-15 result.
It just wasn’t Danica Patrick’s night.
The driver of the No. 10 GoDaddy Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) struggled with an ill-handling racecar from the drop of the green flag in Saturday’s Irwin Tools Night Race at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway. Those handling issues would plague her throughout the course of the night and lead to a 27th-place finish.
Early on, Patrick battled with a car that was especially tight exiting the turns. The tight-handling condition caused her to fall from her 24th-place starting position to 33rd by lap 10. With the leaders setting a rapid pace early in the race, Patrick fell a lap down to the leaders by lap 38.
While the crew tried to help Patrick’s handling woes with a series of adjustments to air pressure, wedge, track bar and even shocks, Patrick continued to fight a car that lacked grip and was inconsistent through the corners. Patrick noted to her crew that she couldn’t predict what the car was going to do or when.
By the race’s halfway point, Patrick told her crew that the changes had helped take the car in the right direction, moving smoother through the corners, and she moved up to 29th, just two laps down to the leaders. However, just a handful of laps later at lap 263, Patrick was tagged from behind by a fellow competitor and spun out in turn two to bring out the caution flag.
While Patrick didn’t hit anything and the No. 10 GoDaddy machine didn’t sustain any damage, the spin caused Patrick to lose two more laps to the leaders and dropped her to 35th-place in the running order.
Despite the issues, Patrick and her crew continued to fight through the hardships and work to make the car better throughout the course of the night. Patrick finished 27th.
“It was just a rough night,” Patrick said. “Our GoDaddy car just wasn’t that good from the beginning, and that kind of put us behind. The guys kept working on it with their adjustments, and they got it headed in the right direction, but it was just too late by that point. I think we all just did the best we could to hang in there, make the car better and try to make a good night out of it. It wasn’t the finish that we wanted, but we didn’t give up.”
Kevin Harvick endured an up-and-down night in the Irwin Tools Night Race Sprint Cup Series event at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway, and he was on his way back up when the checkered flag dropped. The driver of the No. 4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) rallied from 16th to 11th in the final 63 laps of the 500-lap event, leaving Harvick one position short of a top-10.
Harvick started from the pole and led the first 37 laps of the race before Jeff Gordon made the pass for the lead. Harvick remained in the top-five and was chasing then-leader Denny Hamlin when the front end of the No. 4 Chevrolet made contact with Hamlin’s No. 11 car on lap 162. The contact caused Hamlin to spin into the inside retaining wall, ending his night, and allowed Harvick to retake the lead.
Harvick led the following 37 laps until bringing his car to pit road for four tires and fuel when the next caution came on lap 196. Differing pit strategies resulted in the No. 4 restarting 10th on lap 200. The Jimmy John’s Chevrolet driver methodically raced his way back through the field and returned to the second position by lap 271.
The Jimmy John’s team maintained its position racing in the top-10 until lap 432, when Harvick was issued a pit road speeding penalty as he came in for his final service of the night. The penalty dropped Harvick from seventh to 16th for the final restart on lap 437, but he raced his way from 16th up to 11th by the time the checkered flag dropped.
“We got a speeding penalty there at the end,” Harvick explained. “I knew I was close, but I tried to get everything I could on pit road and wound up biting us. I’m just proud of all the guys on the Jimmy John’s team. They did a good job. We raced hard all night and just made a mistake there on pit road speeding.”
Harvick led three times for a total 75 laps throughout the event.
Mike Bliss Finishes 17th: Mike Bliss and the No. 10 M&W Logistics Camry qualified 22nd for the Food City 300 Friday morning. Bliss's team made adjustments to the car during qualifying to get the Camry race ready. Due to the rain delay at the start of the race, NASCAR called a competition caution at lap 60. When the first caution came out at before the competition caution, the No. 10 team decided to stay out to maintain position. Bliss was running 21st when the competition caution came out and reported to the team that his Camry is tight off. When the caution flag waved at lap 184, Bliss reported that his Camry was still loose in while running 18th. The team decided to take the wave around under this caution. With 59 laps to go, Bliss was running 13th and was reporting that he was loose in and off and the team took four fresh tires, fuel and adjustments. Mike Bliss and the No. 10 M&W Logistics Camry brought home a 17th place finish at Bristol Motor Speedway.
Eric McClure Finishes 20th: After qualifying 31st for the Food City 300, McClure was ready to turn 300 laps at his home-track. With 16 laps complete, McClure was running 28th and when the first caution flag was shown McClure reported his No. 14 Hefty®/Reynolds Wrap® Camry didn't have front grip in the center of the turns and came to pit road for tires and adjustments. After restarting 29th, McClure came on the radio and said his No. 14 Camry was still lacking grip in the center and that his Camry was not too tight on exit. Under caution, McClure pitted for fuel and a track bar adjustment and restarted 26th. McClure worked his way through his teammates wreck with the help of his spotter and once the caution flag returned after the red flag, McClure pitted for fuel and an adjustment. With 84 laps to go, McClure was scored in the 24th position and was reporting that his Camry needed more rear grip. The No. 14 Hefty®/Reynolds Wrap® Camry came to pit road for an air pressure adjustments and restarted 20th. Eric McClure brought home his track-best finish of 20th at his home-track of Bristol Motor Speedway.
Hermie Sadler Finishes 24th: Hermie Sadler and the No. 19 VA Lottery Camry did not have a good start to their race day morning. During qualifying, Sadler got heavy damage to the rear of the car and Sadler drove the car behind the wall for the No. 19 crew to assess and repair the damage. Starting in the 39th position, Sadler was ready to work his way through the field at the drop of the green flag. When the competition caution came out at lap 60, Sadler came to pit road for adjustments. Running 32nd at lap 79, Sadler was moving through the field and by lap 126 he was scored in the 28th position. When a caution came out for Sadler scraping the wall, he brought the No. 19 VA Lottery Camry to pit road four for four tires, fuel and the team used bare bond to repair the rear of the car. With 184 laps to go, Sadler was scored in the 27th position and came to pit road under caution for a track bar adjustment. With 84 laps remaining, Sadler was running in the 26th position and would advance two positions to finish the 300 lap race 24th.
David Starr Finishes 31st: After qualifying 30th for the Food City 300, David Starr and the No. 44 Build Your Future/NCCER Camry were ready to work their way through the field after the drop of the green flag. At lap 60 when the competition caution came out, Starr reported that his Camry was loosing forward bite on the drive off the corner. The team pitted for four tires, fuel and a track bar adjustment. At lap 106, Starr was running 22nd and not soon after Starr was spun on track and received heavy front-end damage. The red flag was shown while the No. 44 Camry was on pit road and once the caution flag came out, the No. 44 team went behind the wall to repair damage. The No. 44 BYF/NCCER crew worked diligently to get Starr back out on track. Starr returned to the track and with 106 laps to go he was scored in the 35th position. Starr would advance four positions to finish the race 31st.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. made a late-race surge to score a sixth-place finish to lead three Roush Fenway Fords in the top 10 in Saturday night’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) race under the lights at Bristol Motor Speedway. Carl Edwards came home in seventh and Greg Biffle finished 10th. Including the Roush Fenway contingent, five of the top-10 finishers in the race were Fords.
It was the second-best finish of the season for Stenhouse, behind only a second-place finish at Bristol earlier this season.
It also marked the fourth consecutive top-10 finish for Greg Biffle, who took a 26- point lead for the 16th and currently last qualifying ‘Chase’ position. With only two races remaining before the ‘Chase’ cutoff, Biffle trails 15th position by only five points.
Chevrolet has secured the Verizon IndyCar Series Manufacturer Championship for the third successive year since rejoining engine manufacturer competition.
Chevy Racing principals will be presented the championship trophy during the Aug. 31 INDYCAR Championship Celebration at Club Nokia in Los Angeles.
Chevrolet, with 10 entries using its 2.2-liter, twin-turbocharged V6 engine, has won 10 races this season. Honda entries have won six races, with the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma on Aug. 24 and the MAVTV 500 on Aug, 30 at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif., left on the schedule.
"If you peel back the competition, there are two manufacturers with excellent teams that are working hard to outsmart and beat the other," INDYCAR president of competition and operations Derrick Walker said. "It's one of the most competitive championships in motorsports with two seriously-competitive and equally-matched companies. It is one of our crown jewels of competition within the competition."
The Chevrolet IndyCar V6 team and driver roster that has contributed to the title includes Team Penske (Helio Castroneves, Will Power and Juan Pablo Montoya), Chip Ganassi Racing (Scott Dixon, Tony Kanaan, Ryan Briscoe and Charlie Kimball), KVSH Racing (Sebastien Bourdais), KV AFS Racing (Sabastian Saavedra) and Ed Carpenter Racing (Ed Carpenter and Mike Conway).
Power, the Verizon IndyCar Series championship points leader, has won three races, including the most recent Aug, 17 at the Milwaukee Mile.
"It is with great pride that we salute the teams, drivers and technical partners for their hard work and dedication that has resulted in another championship for our 2.2 liter twin-turbocharged, direct-injected engine," said Jim Campbell, U.S. vice president of Performance Vehicles and Motorsports. "Success like this doesn't happen without so many people working together to contribute to maximizing the combination of power, fuel economy and reliability delivered by the Chevrolet IndyCar V6 engine."
INDYCAR revised the Manufacturer Championship format for 2014 to reward durability and performance in addition to penalizing competitors when warranted. The format mirrors points awarded to the top five drivers and entrants in each race when running one of the four assigned engines allotted for the season.
Manufacturers receive a 10-point award for each of their four engines that reach the 2,500-mile change-out threshold. Ten points are deducted for engines that are changed out before reaching the mileage limit.
Since 2012, Chevrolet entries have earned 31 victories, an Indianapolis 500 Mile Race win and the 2012 Verizon IndyCar Series driver and entrant championships. Chevrolet previously competed in Indy car racing as a manufacturer of V8 engines from 1986-93 and 2002-05, powering seven Indianapolis 500 wins and six driver championships.
John Wes Townley rebounded to an 18th place finish Friday night at Bristol Motor Speedway, in the running of the Food City 300 NASCAR Nationwide Series event, piloting the No. 25 Zaxby’s – ‘The Identical’ movie (www.TheIdenticalMovie.com) Toyota Camry after a blown tire sends the Athenian Motorsports driver for a spin on lap 49.
Townley placed the Athenian Motorsports entry in the 28th place on the starting grid for the Food City 300 but due to an adjustment after qualifying the driver had to start from the rear of the 40 car field in the NASCAR Nationwide Series race. Townley managed to wheel the Toyota Camry to the 27th place when a tire went down causing the first caution on the .533-mile Bristol, TN short track.
With pit strategy and defensive driving, the Athenian Motorsports driver was able to advance to an 18th place finish for Zaxby’s and ‘The Identical’ movie at the historic Bristol Motor Speedway.
“We had a shock break during qualifying which put us to the back of the field for the beginning of the race,” John Wes Townley. “I was giving it everything I had to get past as many cars as I could when I felt the right rear tire go down. Thankfully, when I spun I was able to keep the car off the inside wall. The pit stops were spot on and we were able to gain some positions on pit road. Mike Beam and the guys on this team never stopped working hard all weekend to give me a good car and I’m happy that we were able to come home with a solid top-20 finish for Zaxby’s and the Identical (movie).”
Townley heads home to Georgia next weekend for the running of the Great Clips 300 to benefit FEED the Children at Atlanta Motor Speedway, Saturday, August 30, 2014.
Athenian Motorsports PR
NASCAR After The Lap™ Sponsored By Ford Motor Company, Coca-Cola, and Sprint Returns to Las Vegas For Sixth-Straight Year
NASCAR® announced today that NASCAR After The Lap™ sponsored by Ford, Coca-Cola, and Sprint will return to Las Vegas for its sixth-consecutive year. Since its debut in 2009, NASCAR After The Lap has earned the reputation with fans as the must-see event during NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champion’s Week™. This year’s show returns to the Pearl Palms Concert Theater inside the Palms Casino Hotel on Thursday, December 4 at 5 p.m. PT.
The expanded field of challengers competing in the new format of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup means attendees will be treated to more drivers than ever before. All 16 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup contenders will be in attendance. ESPN’s Marty Smith will return as the show’s host and will again facilitate a spirited and unpredictable dialogue.
In celebration of the 50th anniversary of the iconic Ford Mustang, fans entering the NASCAR After The Lap sweepstakes will have the opportunity to win a 2015 Ford Mustang GT. NASCAR fans can enter for a chance to win by visiting www.NASCARafterthelap.com through November 16. Additionally, two winners will receive an all-inclusive VIP trip for two to NASCAR After The Lap, including roundtrip airfare, hotel, ground transportation and VIP event access.
“Over the last six years as event sponsor, Ford has shared some incredible moments with our NASCAR drivers,” said Tim Duerr, motorsports marketing manager for Ford Racing. “The NASCAR After The Lap sweepstakes remains to be an effective way to engage NASCAR fans, giving them a chance to not only win a trip to Las Vegas but an opportunity to leave with a brand-new 2015 Ford Mustang GT.”
During the last three weeks of the sweepstakes – fans entering will have an opportunity to become an instant winner. Ford, Coca-Cola, and Sprint will offer up to five pairs of race tickets to attend the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race and Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway, and the Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
“For the sixth consecutive season, Coca-Cola is proud to partner with NASCAR on this annual celebration of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season,” said Ben Reiling, director of motorsports for Coca-Cola North America Group. “The new Chase format promises to deliver an exhilarating finish to the season and we anticipate the momentum will carry over to this year’s show, producing even more unforgettable moments for our drivers and fans.”
Coca-Cola would also like to invite fans to “Open Happiness” for children in need when tickets for the event go on sale September 15. Tickets are priced at $20 each and all proceeds will benefit The NASCAR Foundation™, a 501 (c) (3) non-profit that raises funds to support children’s charities and important causes throughout the nation. Fans can visit www.NASCARafterthelap.com to purchase tickets. For fans unable to attend NASCAR After The Lap, NASCAR.com will offer a live stream of the event.