Speedway Digest Staff
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Before the 2014 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series season began in February, Joey Coulter circled Friday night’s race at Kansas Speedway on his calendar. Coming off three strong performances in his previous Truck Series events at the Midwest track, Coulter continued his impressive streak once again as the No. 21 Vertx Chevrolet finished in the 12th position.
“Our Vertx Chevrolet was decent all night,” said Coulter. “We fought a tight condition for most of the race, but my GMS Racing team got it hooked up in the second half. Even though we should have finished a few spots better, I’m proud of my team for fighting to the end. Many thanks to Vertx for joining us at the track and I’m looking forward to the rest of the season with their support.”
After moving to the final round of knockout qualifying, Coulter placed his Vertx Silverado in the 10th starting position. During the opening 50 laps of the SFP 250, Coulter reported to Crew Chief Jeff Stankiewicz the No. 21 Chevrolet was struggling on entry and tight center off. The 23-year-old came to the attention of his pit crew for four tires, fuel, wedge and track bar adjustments. A solid stop by the Vertx team allowed Coulter to restart from ninth-place on lap 55.
By lap 75, Coulter had driven into the sixth position and clocked his fastest lap of the race. With the previous changes on pit road helping, Coulter broke into the top-five a short 10 laps later. Over the next 30 circuits, the Miami Springs, Florida native continued to compete with the leaders at the front of the field. As a caution slowed the pace on lap 126, Coulter visited pit road for four tires, fuel, air pressure adjustment, and tape on the grill to help with the tight condition in the center.
Restarting from fourth-place, Coulter continued to run inside the top-six before his Vertx Chevrolet suddenly ran out of fuel with two laps remaining. Coasting to pit road in the closing laps, Coulter was able to re-fire his Silverado and cross the finish line in the 12th position.
GMS Racing PR
Hard work from Sunoco rookie of the year NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) candidate Mason Mingus paid off with his first career top-10 finish in this past Friday night’s SFP 250 at Kansas Speedway.
Mingus, driver of the No. 35 Call 811 Before You Dig Toyota Tundra and his Mooresville, North Carolina-based Win-Tron Racing, entered the third race of the season looking to bounce back after tough outings at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway and Martinsville (Va.) Speedway respectively, left the freshman team with more to be desired.
Throughout practice on Thursday, the Brentwood, Tennessee native adjusted to his first trip to the 1.5-mile speedway in a truck. Producing the 19th quickest laps overall, Mingus consulted with crew chief Mark Rette about making the necessary adjustments to move forward.
In knock-out qualifying on race day, Mingus successfully advanced from round one to round two, lining up his Win-Tron Racing automobile in the 18th position.
From the drop of the green flag, the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards graduate methodically worked his way through the field and masterfully avoided the early race carnage.
Despite reporting a loose condition on his No. 35 Call 811 Before You Dig Toyota Tundra, Mingus continued to advance on the leader board, putting himself inside the top-10, closing in on the halfway mark.
A flawless effort by the Win-Tron Racing pit crew, including a four tire change with fuel following the final caution flag on Lap 127, allowed Mingus to remain inside the top-10.
In the waning laps, the rookie found himself battling a veteran in Joe Nemechek for ninth. The race between the two proved to be one of the best battles on the track, but eventually the veteran would outrank the rookie putting Mingus 10th when the checkered flag waived.
The performance was a career-best for the 19-year old rising star in his sixth career NCWTS start.
“Kansas was a great night for us,” said Mingus. “As a driver I never leave the race track 100 percent satisfied with a 10th place run, but after the rough start we have had this season, it is a great place for us to start building on.
“Our game plan was to make laps, stay out of trouble and it paid off. The track was very slick, which is what I feel caused a lot of the cautions. We just wanted to make sure we weren’t part of that. It was a great learning experience for me and I’m excited to carry that over to Charlotte.”
With his effort at Kansas, Mingus advanced 10 spots in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series point standings to 16th, just 22 markers from 10th.
WinTron Racing PR
Alex Bowman and the No. 23 Dr Pepper Toyota Camry team finished 35th at Kansas Speedway on Saturday night. Bowman fought the handling of his Toyota Camry early in the race, but his charge to the checkered flag was slowed by a late-race accident on the frontstretch.
Alex Bowman rolled off 33rd for the 5-Hour Energy 400. Almost immediately after the green flag waved, the Sunoco Rookie contender called into his crew to report problems with the balance of his racecar. Fighting a tight-center, loose-off condition while navigating the turns, Bowman and his team strategized the changes they needed to make.
Utilizing each opportunity they had to make adjustments, the Dr Pepper team got caught a lap down when the caution flag waved during a round of green flag pit stops early in the event. Unfazed by the setback, the BK Racing group stayed focused on making their car better throughout the 400-mile event.
On lap 188, Bowman's charge was slowed as the No. 23 Dr Pepper Toyota Camry sustained front-end damage in a multi-car accident on the frontstretch. The damage forced Bowman to pit road where his crew worked diligently to make repairs. However, subsequent overheating problems forced the team to spend some additional time working on their racecar. Unable to regain much track position following the incident, Bowman crossed the finish line in the 35th position.
"This was a challenging weekend for us," commented Bowman. "We worked really hard throughout practice and qualifying to get our Camry dialed in, but we just couldn't get the car exactly as we needed. My Dr Pepper Toyota team did a great job working through adjustments, and I appreciate that they didn't give up all weekend. I'm excited that we'll be racing in Charlotte for the next two weeks. With so much track time, we can almost treat it like a test and will hopefully learn a lot throughout the two race weekends."
BK Racing PR
Cole Whitt and the No. 26 Iowa Chop House Toyota Camry team finished 28th at Kansas Speedway on Saturday night. After challenges with the handling of his racecar early in the event, Whitt's BK Racing team dialed in their car and the Sunoco Rookie contender easily drove to a top-30 finish.
Whitt rolled off 36th for the 5-Hour Energy 400. Challenged by the handling of his car throughout the opening laps of the race, Whitt initially fell through the field while his team strategized the changes they needed to make to their Toyota Camry. The Iowa Chop House team made a series of adjustments throughout the opening pit stops, which allowed Whitt to drive back inside the top 35.
The BK Racing team took one last swing at their car with a late-race track bar adjustment. The change proved to increase the drivability of the No. 26 Iowa Chop House Toyota Camry, and allowed Whitt to race back inside the top 30. By the time the checkered flag waved, Whitt was scored in the 28th position.
"I'm proud of the effort of my Iowa Chop House team tonight," commented Whitt. "There were a lot of guys that ran into problems or were caught up in accidents, but we were able to avoid all of that and drive to a clean finish. I feel confident about where we're at, and I'm excited that we seem to get better every week. We have some back-to-back races coming up at Charlotte, which will give us a great learning opportunity with a lot of practice time. I'm looking forward to that."
BK Racing PR
Ryan Truex and the No. 83 Burger King / Dr Pepper Toyota Camry team finished 43rd at Kansas Speedway on Saturday night. Scored inside the top 10 during a round of green flag pit stops, Truex's climb was quickly slowed as a multi-car accident in turn four left the Burger King / Dr Pepper Toyota with race-ending damage.
Truex led the BK Racing organization to the green flag with his 31st-place starting position for Saturday night's race. The driver called into his crew early in the event asking for more grip throughout the turns. With competitors going through a round of green flag pit stops, Truex's team opted for a quick air pressure adjustment to provide the driver with additional grip. However, the driver didn't have very long to evaluate the change before getting caught in a multi-car accident exiting turn four on lap 61.
Running just outside the top-30 during the round of green flag pit stops, Truex was racing hard for position when the car in front of him slowed and slid up the track. With nowhere to go, Truex made contact and ultimately turned down the track into another competitor. Significant damage to his Burger King / Dr Pepper Camry left Truex to park the car on the apron and take the required ride to the infield care center. The rookie contender was evaluated and released, but the damage to his No. 83 Toyota Camry proved to be too significant for the BK Racing team to return to the event. As a result, Truex was scored with a 43rd-place finish.
"Clearly that wasn't the finish that we wanted for our Burger King / Dr Pepper Toyota team, but at least everyone involved in the wreck was okay," commented Truex. "It's unfortunate that I can't say the same about our race car. You never want to be out of the race before it's over, but there really wasn't anything I could have done differently in that situation. We had another car slide up in front of us, and there was no way that I could get slowed down in time. My guys work hard every week building quality racecars, so I feel bad that we have one that's torn up."
BK Racing PR
Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), finished 29th in the 5-hour Energy 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race Saturday night at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City. Busch started sixth and ran as high as fourth in the opening laps of the 267-lap event before loose handling became the theme of the night for the No. 41 Chevrolet.
Busch, who finished second in his last visit to Kansas Speedway, immediately began to struggle with an ill-handling car. He fell as far as 18th by lap 70. Crew chief Daniel Knost and team went to work after a lap-72 caution, bringing Busch to pit road for multiple adjustments. The Haas Automation Chevrolet restarted 19th on lap 75 and worked its way into the top-15 by the halfway point of the event.
Unfortunately, track conditions that changed as the event transitioned from day to night caused the No. 41 to continue its ill-handling ways. On lap 179, Busch spun on the front stretch to bring out a caution, causing the No. 41 to lose a lap to the leaders as it pitted to make repairs and adjustments. While racing for the Lucky Dog free pass on lap 204, the No. 41 cut a tire coming out of turn two, forcing another spin that dropped the team down multiple laps.
Busch returned to the track in the 31st position and raced to pick up two spots to claim a 29th-place finish in the closing laps.
“We definitely didn’t get the finish we wanted in our Haas Automation Chevrolet,” Busch said. “It was a disappointing day all around. We had the best qualifying session of the season this weekend, and we had high hopes for the race. It just didn’t work out the way we planned. The car was loose, and we couldn’t tighten it up no matter what we tried. It’s just frustrating. We need to do better, and hopefully we will do better moving forward.”
Carl Edwards headed to Kansas Speedway looking for win number one at his home track. The No. 99 Aflac Ford Fusion started from the fourth-spot and remained solidly inside the top-five for the beginning of the race, opting to stay out with the leaders while most of the field came down pit road under cautions. This strategy ultimately resulted in the Roush Fenway Racing driver ending up a lap down, but crew chief Jimmy Fennig made some key calls late in the day to gain positions on pit road and put Edwards in the sixth-spot when the checkered waved.
“That wasn’t what we were looking for,” said Edwards. “We needed one more restart. I found a little of the line up top. Jimmy did a great job with our Aflac Fusion. He made some big adjustments and our strategy didn’t work the first half. The second half it was good though. I wanted a better showing for these guys here. So many people come support me at this race but congrats to Jeff (Gordon), he has run well enough and deserves that win. We will go to the next track, but man do I want to win this thing.”
Edwards began the rain-delayed 5-hour Energy 400 in fourth and would quickly jump up to third where he held his ground before coming down pit road during green flag stops at lap 43. After the yellow came out on laps 59 and 70 of the 267 lap race, Fennig made the call to stay out and hold on to track position. Sitting in fourth this placed Edwards on the same fuel plan as the three cars in front of him.
Eventually the Columbia, MO native was forced to pit under green on lap 102, but not until running a few laps from the top spot as the leaders came in. To the dismay of Edwards, a caution came out shortly thereafter and placed the No. 99 Aflac Ford Fusion a lap down in 23rd.
Although the initial strategy may have backfired, the team was able to gain positions on pit road by taking two tires under yellow on lap 180, jumping four spots from 17th to 13th. Fennig then decided to stay out on lap 202, placing Edwards back inside the top ten.
The NASCAR champion quickly wheeled his way up to the sixth-spot and stayed out for as long as possible as the leaders came in under green as the number of laps remaining began to dwindle. After leading for a few laps again, Edwards hoped that a final strategy play to take two tires during his last stop of the day would help him to gain even more ground.
Edwards made a solid run at the end of the day, finishing in the sixth spot, and holding onto his fifth place points position.
- Richard Childress Racing teammates Ryan Newman, Paul Menard and Austin Dillon finished 11th, 17th and 19th, respectively.
- Newman ranks eighth in the Sprint Cup Series championship point standings, trailing current leader Jeff Gordon by 62 points, while Dillon ranks 14th and Menard ranks 18th.
- Gordon earned his first victory of the 2014 season and was followed to the finish line by Kevin Harvick, Kasey Kahne, Joey Logano and Dale Earnhardt, Jr.
- The next Sprint Cup Series race is the Sprint Showdown at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Friday, May 16, which is scheduled to be televised live on FOX Sports 1 beginning at 7 p.m. Eastern Time. The top two finishers will be transferred into Saturday night's All Star race, which airs live on FOX Sports 1 on Saturday at 9 p.m. Eastern Time and is scheduled to be broadcast live on the Performance Racing Network and SiriusXM NASCAR Satellite Radio, channel 90.
Austin Dillon Earns 19th-Place Finish in No. 3 Dow Chevrolet at Kansas Speedway
Austin Dillon earned a 19th-place finish in the No. 3 Dow Chevrolet SS in Saturday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Kansas Speedway. Dillon started from the 19th spot and noted a loose-handling condition from the start of the 400-mile event. The Gil Martin-led team worked on the handling of the No. 3 Chevrolet during routine pit stops under green-flag and yellow-flag conditions. The team made their biggest swing at adjustments during a four-tire stop on lap 157 while running in the 20th spot. Dillon restarted 20th and remained a top-20 contender. He crossed the finish line in the 19th spot, losing one lap to the race leader during the final run of the night. He remains 14th in the Sprint Cup Series driver point standings.
Start - 19th Finish - 19th Laps Led - 0 Points - 14th
"We learned a lot tonight. It was a long night for sure but we're moving onto Charlotte Motor Speedway and excited for the next two weeks."
Paul Menard Earns 17th-Place Finish in No. 27 Schrock / Menards Chevy at Kansas Speedway
Despite loose handling conditions and incurring damage to the No. 27 Schrock / Menards Chevrolet during an on-track incident in Saturday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Kansas Speedway, Paul Menard and the Richard Childress Racing team persevered to earn a 17th-place finish. Menard started the 400-mile event from the 16th position and lost significant track position due to a loose-handling condition which caused the No. 27 Schrock / Menards Chevy to go one lap down. Crew Chief Slugger Labbe directed the team to make adjustments to tighten the car up during a green-flag pit stop on lap 37. The Eau Claire, Wisc. driver raced back onto the lead lap. On lap 186, a car spun on the track beneath Menard's car causing slight damage to bring out the caution flag. The No. 27 pit crew made several adjustments to the car under caution. Menard restarted 19th with 78 laps remaining to bring home a 17th-place finish. .
Start - 16th Finish - 17th Laps Led - 0 Points - 18th
PAUL MENARD QUOTE:
"Today wasn't what we were hoping for at Kansas Speedway. The Schrock / Menards Chevy was loose all night and we made a lot of adjustments to tighten it up. We finally got what we needed and were able move our way through the field. There was a wreck we were almost caught up in but luckily we got out with minor damage. The guys did a great job on pit road all night making adjustments and getting us where we needed to be. Now it's on to Charlotte."
Ryan Newman Records 11th-Place Finish in Kwikset Chevrolet at Kansas Speedway
Ryan Newman drove Richard Childress Racing's No. 31 Kwikset Chevrolet SS to an 11th-place finish in Saturday night's 267-lap event at Kansas Speedway. The South Bend, Ind., driver started seventh as a result of Friday's knockout qualifying session. After a 20-minute delay due to severe weather near the track, Newman fired up the engine to race in the top 15 during the opening laps. His only real complaint to crew chief Luke Lambert was a loose-handling condition through the corners. The Kwikset crew serviced the No. 31 Chevrolet several times to enable Newman to run competitively and in or around the top 10. The team's final service for gas, two fresh right-side tires and a chassis adjustment took place with 29 laps to go. With fuel mileage out of the equation, Newman set his sights on a strong finish in the remaining circuits and crossed the finish line in 11th place. The result moved Newman up a spot in the driver championship point standings to eighth place. Up next for the No. 31 team is Saturday's exhibition race, the NASCAR Sprint All-Star race at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Start - 7th Finish - 11th Laps Led - 0 Points - 8th
"Tonight we were strong in the corners, but struggled in the straight-aways. We had the same issue yesterday in qualifying, but it was much more noticeable during the race. I'm not sure if we missed something or what. It was a decent run overall for the Kwikset Chevrolet. I wish we could have run better for them. We strive to be better than that so we will keep working hard to put this team in winning contention."
Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), dominated early, found himself mired midpack at the halfway point, raced his way back to the lead and challenged late for the win in Saturday night’s 5-hour Energy 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City.
“I found a groove that worked for me, but I slipped with about 10 or 11 laps to go and lost all the ground I had made up,” said Harvick, who recorded his third top-five finish in 17 career Sprint Cup starts at Kansas and his third top-five result this season. “It was a weird night, for sure, but I’m proud of everybody on this team.”
Harvick started from the pole in the 43-car field and was able to maintain the lead despite fighting a loose-handling condition in the opening segment of the 267-lap race. Harvick made his way to pit road on lap 41 for a scheduled green-flag pit stop, and as the rest of the field attempted to do the same an incident involving Clint Bowyer brought out the caution, and Harvick found himself running second. Having informed crew chief Rodney Childers that he had a vibration following the pit stop, Harvick came back to pit road to get four fresh tires and fuel. The move paid dividends, as Harvick had a tire that was out of balance. Once green-flag racing conditions resumed, Harvick was able to overtake Brad Keselowski for the race lead again on lap 53.
Harvick continued to hold the point until coming to pit road for another scheduled green-flag stop on lap 102. Once again, before the cycle of stops could be completed, they were interrupted by a caution for a spin involving Marcos Ambrose on lap 110. Harvick, who was scored as the first car one lap down to the race leader, was awarded the free pass, which placed him back on the lead lap but in the 18th position.
Mired in traffic, Harvick struggled with an ill-handling racecar that would hamper his ability to return to the form he showed early in the race. Childers continued to make chassis adjustments each time Harvick hit pit road, helping the Jimmy John’s driver steadily climb toward the front of the pack. On lap 208 Harvick reclaimed the race lead, but he had to make one last stop for fuel on lap 208 and struggled on pit road, giving up the lead. Harvick was unable to make up the ground he lost and had to settle for second when the checkered flag waved.
“What put us in second is I didn’t get down pit road very good there coming to the pit box,” Harvick said. “I kind of ran out of gas, and I was paying attention to the fuel pressure gauge instead of the pit road speed light. I lost some time there, but everybody on our Jimmy John’s Chevrolet did a good job. I found a groove that worked really well there at the end. I slipped with about eight or nine laps to go. I was able to make the ground back up, but not get by. Congrats to those guys (the No. 24 team), they have been running good all year. And I’m glad to see a Chevrolet in victory lane.”
Danica Patrick finished seventh in Saturday night’s 5-hour Energy 400 at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City, earning her career-best NASCAR Sprint Cup Series finish in 57 starts.
For Patrick, the finish was the perfect ending to an impressive weekend at the 1.5-mile oval. The second-year Sprint Cup driver of the No. 10 GoDaddy Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) started ninth on Saturday, her best qualifying effort at a non-restrictor-plate track.
Patrick’s goal was to maintain her spot in the lead pack of cars, and she did just that as a fixture in the top-10. She rarely fell out of the top-15 and she ran has high as third, making some impressive moves along the way.
“Honestly, the most rewarding part of my night was probably when I drove around the outside of the No. 48 (Jimmie Johnson) on a restart,” Patrick said. “That was probably my most rewarding thing of the night. I say that with all the respect in the world. It’s a big deal because he is Jimmie Johnson. Aside from that I was really just overall proud that we stayed up front all day. That was the biggest thing.
“When the race started it was about finishing the weekend off right and just staying up there. You know you are going to go up, you are going to go down a little bit and we sure enough did that, but we more than held our own through the whole race. I’m extremely proud of this crew for building a new car that was just awesome. It was so good on restarts and long runs and tires getting old. Hard work pays off, and they definitely put the hard work into it. Obviously, I’m really happy for days like today to give back to GoDaddy, who has always been behind me.”
The seventh-place finish came in Patrick’s fourth career Sprint Cup start at Kansas. It was also her first top-10 of the 2014 season and the second top-10 of her career, as she finished eighth in the 2013 Daytona 500 at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway.
“(Crew chief Tony) Gibson did a good job in making changes for the race, and it was good from the get-go,” Patrick said. “And I think what says even more are two things: It was really good on restarts, and it was really good when it wasn’t quite right and really good on long runs. And I think that just goes to show that this is a new car and they built a great one. And we’ve got more of these coming. That’s the even better news.
“But overall, I’m just proud for the team. Kevin (Harvick) has been a great teammate in helping me out, and obviously he was very fast tonight. And I’m happy for GoDaddy, who has always been a big supporter of mine, no matter what. And it’s days like today that hopefully it makes them smile and makes it all pay off a little.”
Gibson could not have been more proud of Patrick and his team’s performance.
“That was one heck of a run by her,” Gibson said. “She drove a really smart, solid race. I know that we got pretty excited with some of the moves she was making when she was passing guys on the outside. It was just fun to watch. It was just a really good weekend for us. We had a good car right off the truck, a good qualifying effort, and we backed that up with a good race. I’m really proud of what Danica did. I’m really proud of the cars that the guys at SHR are building. This is probably one of our best-ever weekends, and hopefully, this will be something that we can build on. We have two big weeks coming up at Charlotte with the All-Star Race and the Coca-Cola 600, and I think she showed what she’s capable of tonight. Just really, really proud for everyone on this team.”