Sunday, Apr 02
Speedway Digest Staff

Speedway Digest Staff

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2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup Champion Brad Keselowski and his Checkered Flag Foundation (CFF) have a fun-filled party planned for Memorial Day featuring a live concert from "The Lost Trailers." The good news? You're invited!


 The event, themed "Remembering Our Heroes," will feature cycling events in the morning and then conclude in the evening with a first-class dinner provided by the 220 Cafe, a live 90-minute concert from Nashville Recording Artists, "The Lost Trailers" and a silent auction full of collectible memorabilia ranging from drivers' suits and sheet metal to autographed guitars to fully stocked gift baskets from national and local merchants. All proceeds from the event will benefit CFF and its mission to support those who have sacrificed for the rest of us.


The all-day event, which begins with the combined start of the 20, 50- and100-kilometer social bike ride at 8:30 a.m. from Penske Racing, will also feature a Celebrity Trike Challenge with local businesses taking on NASCAR teams on big-boy tricyles in head-to-head competition. Keselowski and his Penske Racing teammates will take on challengers from Brad Keselowski Racing, JR Motorsports, Motor Racing Outreach, military teams and more! Sponsorship for the event has been graciously provided by Penske Racing, Carlisle, Lionel, Draw-Tite, and Miller Lite.


According to Keselowski, the foundation's president and current NASCAR Sprint Cup Champion, the event is geared toward a wide audience with the importance of the Memorial Day holiday in mind.


"When you think of Memorial Day, you think of a day you spend remembering those who have made great sacrifices for us to do what we like to do, which in my case is driving a race car mostly in circles," Keselowski said. "I can't think of a better way to spend the holiday than by spending it with my friends, supporters, veterans and current military members celebrating our nation's heroes for a worthwhile cause. I also think it's pretty cool that the guys from 'The Lost Trailers' are going to play for us. It will be a great day."


"We are very excited to be headlining Brad's Checkered Flag Foundation's Memorial Day celebration," said The Lost Trailers founder Stokes Nielson. "We feel very honored to be a part of this celebration. We hope people will bring their family and friends to have a great time with us while remembering and celebrating those who have sacrificed for our great nation."


Costs for the individual events are:


*  $35 for the 100-kilometer social ride; $30 for the 50-kilometer social ride; $25 for the 20-kilometer social rides (fees go up $5 if you register the day of the event). Entry fee includes technical t-shirt, in-race route support, a custom finisher's medal and a post-race lunch with beverages and karaoke included. Register here:    Cycling Registration


*  $500 donation for the four-person Celebrity Trike Challenge, which includes four technical         t-shirts and finishers' medals for all. Field will be capped at 30 teams. Top-three teams will be invited to a private meet and greet with "The Lost Trailers" band members. 

Register here: Trike Challenge Registration


*  $55 per person or $350/table of eight for entry to the dinner and concert. Includes dinner and beverages, as well as entry to the concert. Tickets may be purchased in person at the Penske Racing Gift Shop (200 Penske Way, Mooresville, NC  28115) or at Brad Keselowski Racing (380 Performance Drive, Mooresville, NC 28115). You can also visit Admission will be limited to 500 guests. Discount available to military (active, Reserve, retired with ID) and first responders. 


Dinner/Concert Registration here: 


Remembering Our Heroes Memorial Day Fundraiser


Checkered Flag Foundation PR

Matt Crafton's led the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series' championship standings a few times in his career, but heading into Friday evening's North Carolina Education Lottery 200 at Charlotte Motor Speedway with his No. 88 Fisher Nuts / Menards Toyota atop the points could come at no better time for Crafton.


First, he and wife Ashley celebrated the birth of their first child, daughter Elladee, just 18 days ago, on April 26.


"I need to get back to racing, so I can get some rest," Crafton said, chuckling. "I'm always excited to go to the racetrack -- but usually you go to the racetrack and you don't get much sleep because you're worried about everything, the night before the race -- you think about everything. This week, I'm excited to get to the racetrack so I can get some sleep."


Crafton smiled again when he noted how cool it'll be this weekend -- the first race after nearly a four-week break -- when he goes home each night to his wife and newborn child.


But if you're the competition, there's nothing humorous about what Crafton and Joiner are in the midst of doing to the Camping World Truck Series, in company with Crafton's fifth-year ThorSport Racing teammate, Johnny Sauter and their four-race-old partner, two-time Truck Series champion Todd Bodine.


Crafton won his first career Truck race at Charlotte in 2008, about a year before he took the series' lead for the first time in his career. The year before, in 2007, Crafton began a consistent streak of running at a very competitive level in the trucks.


In 151 races since the start of the 2007 season, Crafton's been in the top 10 in the championship standings after 144 of them. He's currently riding a string of 21 consecutive races in the top 10 in the standings and Charlotte, considering it's a high-speed 1.5-mile oval similar to Kansas -- the series' most recent race where he won on April 20 -- has Crafton quivering with anticipation.


"I'm super-excited about this Charlotte race -- even more than I usually am," Crafton said. "With all the momentum that the team's carrying into this race... I know the guys are still on Cloud 9 from the Kansas win and I'm up there with them, from the win and having our child. So I'm super-stoked about it."


The racetracks' similar nature is certainly part of that and is partly responsible for Crafton having seven consecutive top-10 finishes at Charlotte.


"Charlotte's definitely not as new as Kansas," Crafton said of the latter, which was repaved and reconfigured last season while Charlotte was last repaved in 2006 but is still in good shape. "The two tracks will race very similarly, without a doubt. We're taking the same truck to Charlotte and we're starting out the exact same way we rolled off the track at Kansas (and into Victory Lane)."


The fact that Sauter's been a capable wing-man doesn't hurt either Crafton or Bodine's winning potential. Sauter won the 2013 season's first two races in his No. 98 Carolina Nut Co. / Curb Records Toyota and had a healthy lead in the championship -- with ThorSport holding the top two spots for the first time in 45 races, or since Crafton and Sauter were one-two following the May Dover race in 2011, the first time ThorSport had achieved that plateau.


A penalty for a technical violation in opening inspection at Kansas resulted in a 25-point penalty to Sauter, which leaves him tied for second in the championship with rookie Jeb Burton, 13 points behind Crafton. But with 18 races remaining this season, Crafton isn't losing sight of the prize.


"What our team has done so well at, consistently, is all this mile-and-a-half stuff," Crafton said. "It's been a leaps-and-bounds improvement from where we were at the start of 2012, when we had just switched manufacturers (from Chevrolet to Toyota).


"That's the coolest thing to me, is how well we've ran with our Toyotas on all the mile-and-a-half stuff. When we switched, our short-track program didn't struggle near as much as our mile-and-a-half program did, and all that comes down to is all the guys at ThorSport working super, super-hard to make these Tundra trucks so good on these mile-and-a-half tracks."


NASCAR has scheduled a 4.5-hour practice session Thursday split from 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. ET and 2-4:30 p.m. That roughly matches Friday's only official practice, from 10:30-11:50 a.m.; and it also dovetails with Friday's 4 p.m. qualifying session.


But since the race will be held at nightfall Friday, Crafton can't get too excited about all the scheduled practice. He actually said Friday morning's session would offer the closest comparison of track conditions.


"I"m excited whenever we get to test," Crafton said. "But to be totally honest, it's going to be good to a point but a waste of time at the same time because we don't race during the middle of the day at Charlotte. We'll try to do most of our race practice on Friday morning because that's when the temperatures will be coolest.


"Realistically our test needed to start off at 4 or 5 o'clock, and then go into the evening, because there isn't a racetrack that changes more, from day to night, than Charlotte does. So we just need to look at our notes really good and see what we did during the day and see if we can correlate that into going into the evening."


The season's fifth race, 134 laps and 201 miles, is scheduled for an 8 p.m. start, with live television on SPEED Channel, beginning with "The Set-Up" pre-race show at 7:30. MRN Radio has live radio coverage, also beginning at 7:30.


Thorsport PR

When the field takes the green flag for Friday night's N.C. Education Lottery 200, Kyle Busch will be looking to cash in on his fifth career NASCAR Camping World Truck Series victory at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway (CMS). In seven career Truck Series starts at the 1.5-mile oval, Busch has visited victory lane a track record four times, including in the 2005 event when he picked up his first of 30 career wins in NASCAR's third division.

The Las Vegas native enters Friday night's 134-lap event with wins in his last two Truck Series starts at Charlotte. In 2011, he spun near the halfway mark of the race and then rallied for an emotional victory as he was paying remembrance to Zahra Baker - a 10-year-old Hickory, N.C. girl who was found slain in 2010 shortly after meeting two of Kyle Busch Motorsports young drivers at a Speedway Children's Charities event held at CMS. After Busch collected the checkered flag, he immediately walked to Bakers picture on the side of his truck and was "kissed by an angel." In 2010, the Toyota Racing driver led a race-high 69 laps en route to the second victory for his newly established Truck Series program.


Unlike winners of the N.C. Education Lottery, NASCAR's loop data shows that the driver of the No. 51 ToyotaCare Tundra hasn't lucked into his wins at CMS. Busch leads all drivers over the last eight Truck Series events at the venue in almost every single loop data category, including the most telling ones: Driver Rating (129.2), Average Finish (3.6), Laps Led (335), Fastest Laps Run (205) and Green Flag Speed (174.556 mph).


If you're looking to make millions of dollars, you can support Friday night's race sponsor and take a one in 175,711,356 chance at winning the North Carolina Mega Millions jackpot. If you're looking to win a friendly bet, or you happen to be in Busch's hometown and in search of a safe bet, history says that Kyle Busch's odds of winning Friday night's N.C. Education Lottery are four in seven.



Henderson Motorsports with driver, Caleb Holman, will be returning to action in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series this Friday night. Holman plans to qualify for his third event of the season at Charlotte Motor Speedway in the North Carolina Education Lottery 200.

After coming off of a strong, but disappointing run at Rockingham, Holman and team are eager to get back to the track.

“Rockingham was a bit of a downer. We were running within the top 15 and something happened to the upper A frame, which resulted in losing about 10 laps, so we’re all excited to get back on track after that solid run, even though we didn’t have the results that we had hoped,” said Holman.

If Holman qualifies his way into the North Caroline Education Lottery 200 Friday evening it will be his second start at Charlotte Motor Speedway in the Camping World Truck Series.

The 75 machine will be carrying a new look under the lights Friday night as Alpha Dog, the official premium hot dog of Charlotte Motor Speedway, comes on board.

“We are extremely honored to represent the Alpha Dog organization. We hope to bring them the exposure they deserve and put that Alpha Dog/Food Country USA Truck up front,” said team owner, Don Henderson.

Qualifying will take place Friday afternoon and the green flag will fly for the North Carolina Education Lottery 200 at 8pm.

Henderson Motorsports PR

The Michigan National Guard is proud to announce the continuation of its partnership with Michigan International Speedway to include the sponsorship of the August 2013 truck race, the Michigan National Guard 200.  

“We are excited to announce the Michigan National Guard as sponsor of the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at MIS in August,” track President Roger Curtis said. “It provides a great opportunity for the Michigan National Guard to spread its message and communicate with its target audience. We look forward to continuing our long-term support of the military.”

While the Michigan National Guard has always had a presence at the races, this marks the first time the organization has sponsored a race.

As the title sponsor, it allows the Michigan National Guard the opportunity to market its brand to its target audience through television, radio and print mediums on a state and nationwide basis. It also gives the organization access to a tremendous social media network already built by MIS and NASCAR.

“Our partnership with Michigan International Speedway connects many of our troops to a sport they really enjoy while also providing us a venue to show the public what the Michigan National Guard is all about,” said Maj. Gen. Gregory Vadnais, Michigan adjutant general. “Michigan is the automotive capital of the world and it only makes sense that our Guard members are at the forefront of such a spectacular event.”

The partnership will allow the Michigan National Guard to connect with the citizens of Michigan and potential recruits through NASCAR. The two share the same values of teamwork and competing to be the best, making for a natural partnership.

The Michigan National Guard will also continue to partner with Michigan International Speedway for race activities at all of the events held at MIS in 2013.

MIS continues its long-time support of military initiatives through various ticket programs and support throughout the year.


NASCAR announced today that NASCAR Nationwide Series crew chief Adam Stevens (No. 54 team) has been fined and placed on probation for violations during this past weekend’s event at Darlington Raceway. In addition, the team’s car chief Christopher Landis has been placed on probation for the remainder of the year.

Stevens has been fined $10,000 and placed on NASCAR probation until Dec. 31. Landis has likewise been placed on NASCAR probation until Dec. 31.

The rules violations referred to Sections 12-1 (actions detrimental to stock car racing); 12-4J (any determination by NASCAR officials that the race equipment used in the event does not conform to NASCAR rules detailed in Section 20-A of the rule book); 20A-2.1E (streamlining of the contours of the car, beyond what is approved by the series director will not be permitted. Installation of air directional devices, underpans, baffles, shields or the like beneath the car or the car’s hood and fender area, front firewall, floor, rear firewall area, rear deck and quarter panel area will not be permitted. If, in the judgment of NASCAR officials, any part or component of the car not previously approved by NASCAR has been installed or modified to enhance aerodynamic performance, will not be permitted. Addition of body fillers of any type, to the underside of the body, chassis or suspension components will not be permitted.  All cars must remain standard in appearance); 20A-3.10A (front upper bumper cover must be from the respective OEM manufacturer and must be approved by NASCAR. The front lower bumper cover and rear bumper cover must be from an approved manufacturer and must be approved by NASCAR. Once approved, the front lower bumper covers may be used on all approved models. NASCAR officials may use bumper covers provided by the respective manufacturer as a guide in determining whether a competitor’s bumper cover conforms to the specifications of the NASCAR rule book. Unless otherwise authorized by the series director, cutting and reshaping of bumper covers will not be permitted.)

The infractions were discovered during opening day inspection on May 9.


David Ragan will line up for a shot at winning $1 million Saturday night in NASCAR's Sprint All-Star Race, and he's bringing partner CSX with him.  The transportation company returns to the No. 34 Ford for its second primary sponsorship in one of the biggest showcases of the Sprint Cup Series season.


Ragan earned his spot in the All-Star starting line-up with his dramatic win at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway on May 5 - the first victory in Front Row Motorsports history.  The All-Star race will feature all of the race winners from 2012 and 2013 to date.


Saturday night's non-points event will be the second time this season that CSX will use the entire Front Row Motorsports No. 34 Ford to promote safety around railroad tracks and crossings.  The car will feature a special "Play it Safe" paint scheme, including a bumper sticker on the back that says "I brake for trains," the "Play it Safe" logo and a hood that says "Beats Goliath, Brakes for trains," as a nod to Ragan's status as the last driver to qualify for the prestigious All-Star Race.


"We're very proud of David and his amazing victory at Talladega, and wanted to use the opportunity to further show our support of this great team and bring attention to a very important message that can save lives," said Terry Ludban, CSX Director-Community Affairs and Safety. "Motorists should look both ways at crossings, and always expect a train, and pedestrians should stay well clear of railroad tracks."


The All-Star start will be Ragan's third appearance in the annual event, but the first earned with a Front Row win.  Saturday's race will comprise four 20-lap segments and a mandatory four-tire pit stop before a final, 10-lap dash to the finish.  The winner earns a $1 million prize - plus an extra $1 million bonus if he leads all five segments.


Comments from CSX team driver David Ragan heading to the All-Star race:


"We're thrilled that CSX is back on our No. 34 Ford for this event.  We had a great week with them a couple weeks ago, going to visit the trainyard and CSX employees in Jacksonville and then promoting the 'Play It Safe' message throughout the race weekend in Richmond.  After we won at Talladega and earned our spot in the All-Star race, they called and said they wanted to be a part of it.  So we couldn't be happier that they're going racing with us again.  There will be a lot of eyes watching Saturday night's race and it's a great way for CSX to get out their message of playing it safe around railroad tracks.


"It's huge to be in the Sprint All-Star Race, and it especially means a lot to a team like Front Row Motorsports.  It's NASCAR's showcase of the best teams in the sport, and to be included in that is a big deal.  Bob Jenkins has been building this team over the last several years and making it better and more competitive every year. Qualifying for the All-Star Race as a result of a Front Row win just shows that he's doing things right and all the hard work is paying off.


"You don't realize how important the actual All-Star Race is until you're in it.  I didn't make the All-Star Race until my third or fourth year in the Sprint Cup Series, and then I realized what a big deal it was to be in that line-up.  Even before the green flag waves, you're proud just to be on the starting grid, representing your team and getting a shot at racing for a million dollars.


"The All-Star Race is something we really look forward to.  It's a little less of a pressure-packed weekend because you don't have points on the line and it's a little shorter race.  You get to sleep in your own bed for a few nights.  So, the All-Star event for the Sprint Cup Series is probably one of the best all-star formats in all the major-league sports.


"Charlotte Motor Speedway was one of the early tests that we had with this Generation-6 car back in December.  It's something that we'll definitely learn from during our first weekend there coming up and we'll see how things changed.  Really, December seems like an eternity ago with these Gen-6 cars.  So we'll definitely learn a lot that will help us for the 600-mile race the following week."



In some ways, getting into the Sprint All-Star Race is like getting into an exclusive club. Those not on the VIP list are going to be standing on the other side of the velvet rope without access to the events inside.

The criteria for getting onto the invite list were determined long ago. NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race winners from 2012 and 2013, All-Star Race winners and Sprint Cup Series champions from the last 10 years are all welcomed. There’s some room at the bottom of the list reserved for the top-two finishers in the Sprint Showdown, the 40-lap race that immediately precedes the All-Star Race each year. And, the top Sprint Fan Vote driver – there’s a space for him or her. Beyond that, you’re going to be shut out of the exclusive event.

By virtue of his win at Martinsville Speedway in April 2012, Ryan Newman, driver of the No. 39 Aspen Dental® Chevrolet for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), has earned an invitation to participate in Saturday night’s All-Star Race at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway. Newman certainly knows how to get the job done when it comes to the annual classic, as he claimed the prestigious win in 2002. On that night, Newman wasn’t even qualified to race in the main event at the start of the night but raced his way in by winning what is now known as the Showdown.

After that already amazing feat, Newman and his rookie team had nothing to lose. After all, they weren’t even supposed to be part of the show. The team strategized, Newman drove his race and they all benefited when fans voted to invert the field for the final 20 laps. He took the lead with 17 laps to go and never looked back. With that win, Newman and his team proved that a new kid on the circuit had what it took to come out on top. He became only the second rookie in series history to win the All-Star Race.

The No. 39 team will be joined by another VIP: Tina Johnson is the latest Aspen Dental patient to be included on the rear quarter-panel of Newman’s No. 39 Chevrolet. Continuing on a program that started in 2012, Johnson, a patient of the Aspen Dental office in Waukesha, Wis., was selected to have her photo featured on the No. 39 Chevrolet based on comments she provided regarding her dental treatment on the Aspen Dental Facebook page. Not only will she be along for the ride this weekend, she’ll spend the next three Sprint Cup races riding along with Newman, as well.

For those who will be fortunate enough to be at the track this weekend, there may be no better way to show off their smiles than in victory lane alongside the No. 39 Chevrolet.

The VIP action doesn’t stop at Charlotte. Keep an eye on the Aspen Dental Facebook wall this week for an opportunity that could really make this summer one to remember.


David Gilliland has never raced in NASCAR's Sprint All-Star Race, but he feels like his chances of earning a spot in that line-up this weekend are better than ever.  The driver of the No. 38 Long John Silver's Ford feels more confident about his team's capabilities than ever before as they prepare for Saturday night's Sprint Showdown, the precursor to the All-Star event.


The qualifying race comprises two 20-lap segments with an optional pit stop.  The top two finishers will transfer to the All-Star race immediately following the Showdown.  The winner of a fan vote will also transfer.


Gilliland has two top-10 finishes in six Showdown starts.


Comments from Long John Silver's team driver David Gilliland about the Showdown:


"There's definitely less pressure involved when you're racing in the Showdown.  If something happens, there are no points on the line.  So, that's a good feeling going in there, knowing that we can go try stuff that maybe we can't try on a normal weekend.  Frank Kerr, my crew chief, has a lot of great ideas, and I think it's shown in our performance throughout the year even if we haven't gotten the finishes we've wanted.  This All-Star weekend is a great opportunity for us to try some new stuff under less pressure.


"It'd be super special to race our way into the All-Star line-up.  I've watched that race many times on TV but haven't yet been able to race in it.  We've been close, definitely close to transferring in a couple of times.  We've had fast race cars.  We just have to finish off the deal.  And I have more confidence this year going in than I've ever had."



Marcos Ambrose earned a spot in this weekend's Sprint All-Star Race with his dramatic win at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International last season. The road course ace wheeled passed Sprint Cup Champion Brad Keselowski in the final turns to capture his second consecutive win at the New York road course.


Ambrose will head into this weekend with one thing on his mind - winning. In his eight starts at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway, the Australian native has collected one top-five and two top-10 finishes, all with the No. 9 team. He posted his best start of second last spring and best finish of fifth in the fall of 2011. Crew Chief Drew Blickensderfer has also been successful at the 1.5-mile track. In his six starts as a crew chief, he tallied two top-five and three top-10 finishes.


The No. 9 DEWALT Ford team competed in last year's All-Star Race, raced in the top-10 for the majority of the night and posted a seventh-place finish.


Richard Petty will team up with Ambrose to host Make-A-Wish child Jacob from Sumner, Ga. Jacob wished to watch a race and meet Petty and his race team. Jacob will meet both Petty and Ambrose this weekend and be a VIP guest of the No. 9 DEWALT Ford team.


Comments from Stanley Ford Fusion Driver Marcos Ambrose:


"I'm really excited for the All-Star Race. We have shown a lot of speed on the mile-and-a-half tracks this year, and I'm thrilled to have a race where we just go for the win. There is a heightened excitement around this race, and I'm proud to be a part of it. We had a lot of fun in last year's event and raced up there with the best of them. We plan on being up front again this weekend and contend for the million dollar prize."


Comments from Crew Chief Drew Blickensderfer on the All-Star Race:


"We are bringing the car we tested at Charlotte in January. We haven't raced this car yet, but we were fast at the test. We've showed speed all season at the mile-and-a-half tracks and should come off the truck fast again this weekend. This weekend is a great opportunity for us to really shine. We're all anxious to see what happens."




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