Speedway Digest Staff
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As one of a few teen-aged drivers in last Saturday's SFP 250 at the Kansas Speedway, Max Gresham knows experience and respect will not come easily. That was a lesson delivered the hard way in a 25th-place finish.
Gresham, 19, tied his career-best by qualifying ninth for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) race. He fell back to 25th following a collision on pit road, but he rallied back to be in the top five on Lap 95.
The comeback ended seven laps later when his No. 8 Made In USA Brand (MIUSA) Chevrolet Silverado was forced into the outside wall by a ten-year veteran of the series.
"We battled back from some early issues on pit road to be a contender," Gresham said. "To have it end that way was really disappointing. When you're young you try to give everyone around you a lot of respect. I guess you can't always earn respect; you have to demand it."
Despite the finish, Eddie Sharp Racing (ESR) left Kansas with a sense of accomplishment. Gresham was fourth-fastest in the first of two practice sessions, and he was eighth in final session.
His truck sustained damage to the right-front fender on the first pit stop of the day when he collided with Tim George Jr. on pit road. The team made two additional pit stops during caution period (laps15 - 19) to make repairs.
"I'm just fighting them (other competitors)," Gresham reported during in-car communication with his team. "We still have a lot more speed than these other guys."
After recovering from the incident on pit road, the Milner, Ga., native put his red, white and blue machine comfortably in the top 20. Throughout the early part of the day the team used cautions to continue to work on the damaged fender.
As green flag pit stops started around Lap 70, Showalter's strategy to gain track position with fuel mileage paid off with a lucky break. Just before making his green flag pit stop the yellow flag waved and Gresham was able to pit under caution gaining valuable track position.
"This race team faced a lot of adversity, but we bounced back to be a contender," said Showalter. "In the long run, that's something that will help us. We may be upset by the way things ended, bringing home a wrecked truck, but we came here ready to race. That's something we'll remember most from the weekend."
On Lap 98 another competitor ran Gresham up the track to make contact with the wall, which drew no caution flag for the incident. He brought his battered No.8 Chevrolet to pit road before taking it behind the wall.
Gresham finished 25th while only completing 99 laps.
Nonetheless, Gresham moved up two spots in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series standings. He's 19th heading into his next race, the North Carolina Education Lottery 200 at the Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 17.
"We've got time to get over what happened at Kansas," Gresham said. "It was fun to have a fast truck and to race up front. It's a lesson every young driver has to learn -- who you can race with and who you can't. I've also learned that from now on we won't simply ask for respect; we will demand it."
Max Gresham PR
Sunoco Rookie of the Year contender, Brennan Newberry had a good solid run going in the No. 14 Hy-Vee Silverado with a new sponsor and special message #PrayersforBoston on board as he raced with a heavy heart for the people of Boston. After starting from the 17th spot in the SFP 250 at Kansas Speedway, Newberry had a fast handling truck and worked his way up into the 9th position, before a late race incident ended his day early and he posted a 20th place finish.
With a newly paved track, the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) officials scheduled a longer practice for drivers to gain a better feel for the track and the handling of their trucks on this new surface. Under cloudy skies and 36-degree weather, Newberry in the Hy-Vee Silverado took to the track for the first practice and posted the fastest time on the track during his third run. He worked with spotter Rick Carelli to find the best line around the mile-and-a-half oval, as he worked on running laps in clean air and in traffic. Newberry ended first practice 11th after running 59 laps.
The temperature warmed up a little for second practice. Newberry drove only a few laps before getting into the marbles and slapping the right side of the truck against the wall in the middle of turns three and four. The No. 14 Hy-Vee crew, with the help of the No. 9 (teammate) crewmembers went to work repairing the truck. The NTS teams were able to get the No. 14 fixed and back on track with 15 minutes left in final practice. Newberry immediately radioed the crew that everything felt good with the truck and it was ready to qualify.
The trucks qualified under conditions unlike what they practiced in as they had sunny skies and warmer temperatures. Newberry took the No. 14 Hy-Vee Chevrolet out 21st for his qualifying lap and laid down a lap of 30.812, securing him a Top 20 starting position.
Newberry strapped into the No. 14 Hy-Vee Chevrolet and took the green flag from the 17th position. Immediately, Carelli called to his driver to keep the momentum going, as Newberry had a good fast truck. However, that run slowed, as the first of 11 cautions came out on Lap 15. Newberry radioed to crew chief, Eddie Pardue that the truck was free. Pardue called him down pit road for fuel only and a quick track bar adjustment. The trucks made only five more laps before the second caution flag flew. Newberry restarted in the 12th position after the third caution and began a good run when another caution flag few for an accident in turn 4.
During this caution, Newberry stacked up and bumped the right rear of the truck in front of him. Worried about the damage, Pardue called Newbery down pit road where the Hy-Vee crew surveyed the damage of the left front fender, filled the No. 14 full of fuel and sent him back out. Newberry restarted 20th but had to serve a pass through penalty for passing to the left on the restart, which then put him a lap down.
On lap 92, Newberry came back down pit road during a caution for four tires and fuel. When he returned to the track however, he felt like he had a loose wheel and had to bring the No. 14 back down pit road for four new tires.
The Hy-Vee team would endure approximately 50 laps and another caution before getting to return to the lead lap with the “lucky dog” pass. Once he was back on the lead lap, Newberry began driving back through the field and broke into the top ten before making a quick stop for fuel only.
Newberry’s strong Top 10 day would take a turn for the worse, when the No. 13 of Todd Bodine would use the side draft to send Newberry and the No. 14 Hy-Vee truck spinning. Newberry collected Bodine in the accident, damaging both trucks beyond repair and would finish in the 20th position.
“Honestly I can’t believe how great this NTS crew is, so first off, I have to thank them for all of their hard work. We have had to battle through some adversity this week, as we had a fast truck, hit the wall in practice and repaired the right side. During the race, we got a penalty for a re-start and lost a lap, had moved back into the top ten, and then got involved in a late race incident. It’s racing, but man it’s tough when we want to be competitive and do well every race.”
“This was one of my best races on a mile and a half track. Every week I keep learning and keep doing the best I can. We’ll take a few weeks off then come back and continue to build on our mile and a half program at Charlotte.”
NTS Motorsports PR
NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) Champion, Ron Hornaday, Jr., was in championship form this weekend at Kansas Speedway for the SFP 250, driving from three laps down to finish ninth, tallying his third Top 10 of the season.
Hornaday and the No. 9 Smokey Mountain Chevrolet took to the track for the first practice on Friday, under unfavorable conditions as they dealt with major cloud cover, high winds and below normal temperatures. NASCAR gave the trucks additional time in the first practice for drivers to test their trucks on the newly paved Kansas Speedway. Hornaday and crew chief, Bruce Cook used the first part of this practice to get the nose and splitter of the truck on the ground, to gain more down force and control. Once they got the Chevrolet Silverado dialed in, Cook and crew used the remaining portion of this practice to scuff the tires for race day, as they learned the truck got “crazy loose” with new tires under it. Hornaday would finish the first practice tenth.
Second practice began a few hours later with temperatures warming up only a few degrees. The crew focused on making changes to the truck that mimicked race conditions, as the temperatures and track conditions during the race would be similar to this practice. Hornaday logged 34 laps in second practice and finished in the 13th position.
On Saturday morning, under sunny skies and friendlier temperatures, Hornaday took to the track 24th for his qualifying effort and laid down a lap of 30.771. The 2011 NCWTS Champion, James Buescher would later run a lap of 30.285, claiming the pole and relegating Hornaday to start from row seven.
The green flag for the SFP 250 flew around 1:18 p.m. CT with Hornaday starting from the back of the field. The No. 9 Smokey Mountain crew made an unapproved change to the truck after qualifying so Hornaday gave up his 13th place starting position. A few laps in, Hornaday’s spotter Bob Jeffrey, told him he was running really good lap times, but Hornaday didn’t get much of a chance to use those lap times to move forward as the first caution came out on lap 15. Driver of the No. 9 Smokey Mountain Chevrolet radioed his crew saying the truck was just starting to come to him when the caution came out. Cook told his driver to take care of his tires, as they were only coming down for fuel during this first pit stop.
As the second caution flag flew, Hornaday radioed to the crew he was really free. Cook reassured him that once the tires warmed up, the truck would come to him. The field would only stay green for three more laps before another caution came out. Hornaday kept the No. 9 Smokey Mountain Chevrolet on the track while other trucks pitted, moving him up to the 11th position.
As the fourth caution flew, Hornaday decided to stay out gaining more track position, where he would restart fourth and in just a few laps, move into second. By lap 51, Hornaday radioed the crew that he got tight when running behind people, as he continued logging laps as fast as the leaders. As Hornaday ran around in the top five, he began trying new lines and knew he had a good Chevrolet Silverado under him.
Under the green flag, Hornaday came in for four tires and fuel. Unfortunately, NASCAR’s computer data determined the No.9 Truck was too fast entering the pits, and had to come back down pit road to serve a pass through penalty. As Hornaday returned to pit road to serve his pass through penalty, he radioed to the team that he may have a wheel loose, and stopped in his pit stall for the No. 9 crew to check the tires. In doing so, the No. 9 had not served their penalty and had to come back down pit road for the third time under the green flag. Although Hornaday was listed three laps down in the 20th position, the NTS Motorsports team did not give up.
As cautions continued to fly the rest of the day, Hornaday was able to move through the field into the 17th position and eventually gained the “lucky dog” spot during caution number nine. After another quick stop for four-tires and fuel, the No. 9 was back on the lead lap and running in 12th position. As the final caution came out on lap 140, Hornaday radioed to the crew that he had another bad vibration. Cook told him to hang on and let the tires warm up. With 25 laps to go, Hornaday finally found the Top 10 again and ran wide open for the final laps settling for a ninth place finish.
“Bruce (Cook) and Bob (Jeffery) did a lot to keep me pumped up with all of the cautions from this race. It’s amazing how fast we were going. We were wide open, never lifting for most of the green flag laps then something happened towards the end (of the race) and we lost the speed.”
“I’m not happy with a ninth place finish but it’s (the truck) in one piece so we can learn from it and try and beat these guys at the rest of the mile and a half races.”
NTS Motorsports PR
NASCAR announced today that the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series will implement the group-based road course qualifying procedure used in NASCAR Nationwide and NASCAR Touring Series competition during its road-course events at Sonoma Raceway and Watkins Glen International. Under the new procedure, cars will qualify in groups instead of the traditional single-car qualifying runs held on oval race tracks.
“The change will add an exciting element to road-course qualifying,” said Robin Pemberton, NASCAR vice president of competition. “Fans will be treated to new strategy and increased competition with several cars on track at once.”
The new qualifying rules for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at road courses are as follows:
- · Cars attempting to qualify will be divided into groups. The number of groups, and amount of cars in each, will depend on the number of cars that practice for the event.
- · Group assignments will be based on final practice times.
- · Each qualifying group will be on-track for a set period of time, determined by the Series Director.
- · A car’s best lap time during the group session will be the qualifying lap time of record.
- · A group’s time begins when the first car receives the green flag at the start/finish line.
“This is going to be a terrific new format for our NASCAR weekend,” said Steve Page, president and general manager of Sonoma Raceway. “It will intensify the action, with multiple cars on the track at the same time. It’s a very positive development for our fans.”
“The new format of qualifying at Watkins Glen International enhances the fan experience which is our top priority,” said Michael Printup, president of Watkins Glen. “Qualifying on Saturday for our Cheez-ItTM 355 at The Glen is even more of a not-to-be missed aspect of a weekend of high-quality racing.”
The new format will debut with the Toyota Save-Mart 350 at Sonoma Raceway on June 23 and will return at Watkins Glen for the Cheez-ItTM 355 at the Glen on August 11.
David Reutimann and the No. 83 Dr. Pepper Toyota team finished 28th at Kansas Speedway on Sunday afternoon. After starting outside the top 30, Reutimann and his BK Racing team were able to adjust the handling of the Burger King / Dr. Pepper Toyota Camry throughout the 400-mile race to finish in the 28th position.
Competitors in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series visited Kansas Speedway for the first time with the new "Generation 6" car and for only the second time since the track was repaved in the spring of 2012. With the track tighter than usual, Reutimann and the No. 83 Burger King / Dr. Pepper team adjusted accordingly starting the race with a slightly loose setup.
Track conditions varied more than expected, and like most of the field, Reutimann was left fighting a loose car during the early laps of the STP 400. With a long race, Reutimann and the No. 83 Burger King / Dr. Pepper team utilized each pit stop to adjust on the handling of their Toyota Camry. By the closing laps, Reutimann was pleased with the balance of his car and was able to navigate the turns without issue. After 400-miles at the mile-and-a-half Midwest track, Reutimann crossed the finish line in the 28th position.
"Our Burger King / Dr. Pepper team never gave up this weekend," commented Reutimann. "The balance of our car was off early in the race, and we had to fight really hard to pick up positions. However, the team continued to work hard making changes and trying to get our No. 83 Toyota handling like we needed it. We were able to keep picking up positions, and by the closing laps of the race moved inside the top 30 to finish in the 28th position. We have had some bad luck early in this season, but we aren't letting that get us down. I can't thank my guys enough for sticking with this and continuing to give it their best effort. We're moving in the right direction; we just need a little momentum. I'm looking forward to getting back in the car next weekend at Richmond International Raceway."
BK Racing PR
JJ Yeley's weekend in Kansas started off by playing "shoe fairy" at Kansas City's Children's Mercy Hospital as part of his work with the Random Acts of Kindness Foundation. Partnering with Peach's Neet Feet, he gave away three pairs of hand painted shoes to children who have been diagnosed with a serious illness.
Getting down to business at Kansas Speedway, Yeley and the No. 36 Accell Construction team had one morning practice prior to qualifying for Sunday's race. Yeley qualified for the STP 400 in 40th position. This gave the team an opportunity to make adjustments to the car before Saturday's two rounds of practice.
Rolling off the track Sunday afternoon, Yeley and the Accell Construction Chevy SS were ready to go. He began his climb to the front, avoiding single car cautions, and making a steady gain in positions. However, on Lap 145, bad luck struck, and the drive shaft broke. Pulling the car into the garage the team went to work swapping out parts to try and get the car back out onto the track. With 51 laps down, Yeley returned to the race, and managed to finish the race in 35th.
"Bad luck again this weekend for the No. 36 Accell Construction Chevy." Yeley commented, "We broke a drive shaft half way through the race, but I'm proud of the hard work these guys put into the car to get me back out to finish and gain a couple positions. Tough break, but we'll head back to the shop and get ready for next week."
Tommy Baldwin Racing is heading up to Richmond International Raceway next weekend for some night racing. Currently JJ Yeley is 30th in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Points, 188 points behind leader Jimmie Johnson.
140 BUZZ PR
Leaving Kansas, Dave Blaney and the No. 7 SANY America team are definitely saying "there's no place like home," after an eventful weekend.
An engine change on Saturday sent Blaney to the rear of the field, presenting a challenge for 267 laps of racing at Kansas Speedway. The new Earnhardt Ganassi Racing engine was ready as the green flag flew for Sunday's STP 400. Blaney gained as much as 13 positions in the first 25 laps.
After making steady progress to the front, suddenly Blaney hit the fence at Lap 39, the result of a blown tire. Heading to the garage to evaluate the severity of the damages, the team packed up for the afternoon upon sight of the damage to the entire right side of the car.
Blaney and the No. 7 SANY America Chevy ended the race in 43rd position.
Team Owner and Crew Chief Tommy Baldwin commented after the race, "This was a tough weekend for the SANY America team. We changed an engine and started from the rear of the field and started to gain a lot of track position when we blew a tire. After going to the garage we saw the extent of the damage and had to pack up for the day which is certainly not what we wanted or needed."
Dave is currently 187 points behind leader Jimmie Johnson in the race for the Sprint Cup Championship. This weekend we head to Richmond International Raceway for the Toyota Owners 400.
140 BUZZ PR
Travis Kvapil and the No. 93 Burger King / Dr. Pepper Toyota Camry team finished 36th at Kansas Speedway on Sunday afternoon. After a very competitive race where Kvapil picked up positions and raced inside the top 25, the team was sidelined by engine trouble which brought an early end to their afternoon.
Visiting Kansas Speedway for the first time in the 2013 season, Kvapil and the No. 93 Burger King / Dr. Pepper team unloaded with a very competitive Toyota Camry. Posting lap times within the top-27 throughout all three practice sessions, the team worked carefully to fine-tune the handling of the Burger King / Dr. Pepper Camry. During their qualifying effort, their car got a little tight in turns one and two; as a result, Kvapil secured the 32nd starting position for the STP 400. Kvapil and his BK Racing team continued to work on the balance of their car throughout the two final practice sessions on Saturday morning. With their car handling as they needed, the team felt confident going into the 400-mile race on Sunday afternoon.
During the opening laps of the race, Kvapil set a competitive pace, passing other drivers and moving through the field. Within the opening 30 laps he moved into the top 30, and broke into the top 25 by lap 150. As the race progressed, Kvapil reported the handling of his car had shifted to the tight side. The team worked to adjust the Burger King / Dr. Pepper Chevrolet throughout pit stops, but Kvapil didn't notice much improvement. Crew chief Todd Anderson and the team realized the splitter was making contact with the surface of the race track, causing the tight condition Kvapil was experiencing. The BK Racing team made a few additional changes to raise the front end of the car, and Kvapil was back on the move. Unfortunately, on lap 209, Kvapil and the No. 93 Burger King / Dr. Pepper team were sidelined when terminal engine problems put an early end to their day.
"It's unfortunate that our results from this weekend don't reflect how good our car actually was," commented Kvapil. "My Burger King / Dr. Pepper team did a great job building us a competitive Toyota Camry this weekend. We picked up several positions early in the race and were moving forward when our engine let go just past lap 200. I appreciate all the hard work that my team continues to put in week after week; I can tell that we're on the verge of putting the whole package together. We have an exciting weekend coming up at Richmond International Raceway; it's a 'home' race for us with one of our team owners based in Northern Virginia. We'll have another special paint scheme on the car to showcase Old Dominion Speedway, and will have a lot of guests coming to the track. It should be a lot of fun."
BK Racing PR
Chelsea’s Hope and Me Fine Foundation Selected for the Jimmie Johnson Foundation Blue Bunny Helmet of Hope
Five-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson selected two more charities to be featured on the 2013 Jimmie Johnson Foundation Blue Bunny Helmet of Hope.
Chelsea's Hope and Me Fine Foundation were chosen to appear on the helmet that Johnson will wear during race weekend activities at Michigan International Speedway on August 18, 2013. Each organization also will receive a grant of $10,000 and a special Blue Bunny ice cream party.
Chelsea's Hope, whose mission is to assist in raising funds for research, treatments and cures for those affected by Lafora disease, was nominated by Mari Brackin, whose daughter suffers from Lafora.
Mari's daughter Elisa has suffered from Lafora disease for 10 years. Lafora, which is the most severe form of human epilepsy, only has a prognosis of 3-10 years from manifestation. There is currently no known cure.
"We need to get the word out and what better way than to have it on Jimmie Johnson's helmet" said Mari.
The Me Fine Foundation provides necessary resources and financial assistance to parents and caregivers with children being treated at Duke and UNC Children's Hospitals.
Joey Powell, who works for the Me Fine Foundation, nominated the charity, stating "By helping provide for these families' emergent needs during this vital time, we can ensure that the children can focus on healing, recuperation and hopefully defeat illness."
Chelsea's Hope, located in Danville, Calif., and Me Fine Foundation, located in Princeton, N.C., join Against Abuse, Inc., Cincinnati Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired and Make-A-Wish Iowa as charities that will be featured on the Blue Bunny Helmet of Hope.