Speedway Digest Staff
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Tony Stewart: The Vegas Years
Elvis. Singer, dancer, actor and the undisputed king of rock-and-roll. A pop-culture icon transcending time and place, and one of only a handful of historic figures recognized by a single name. Although Elvis has been gone for more than three decades, his legacy casts a long shadow, and it remains visible today. And while Memphis, Tenn., was his home, Las Vegas was recognized as his home away from home. To say that Elvis has not left the building in Las Vegas may be an understatement. There is likely no place on Earth where his presence not only lives on, but thrives.
For nearly 20 years, Elvis and the city of Las Vegas enjoyed a relationship full of mutual admiration. From the first time he performed in the city in 1956 to his wedding to Priscilla in 1967 to a series of shows throughout the 1970s, Elvis seemingly owned the Entertainment Capital of the World. The city even served as the setting for what many critics considered one of his best films with the 1964 hit “Viva Las Vegas.” It’s a period of time affectionately referred to as “The Vegas Years.”
While Tony Stewart doesn’t sing or dance, nor is it likely that anyone will see his name atop a movie marquee anytime soon, he can certainly appreciate the affection Elvis had for Las Vegas. While Stewart certainly enjoys the blackjack tables that dot the Strip, his real passion lies with a parcel of land just north of the city’s bright lights – Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Stewart, driver of the No. 14 Mobil 1/Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing, returns to the 1.5-mile oval as the defending winner of the Kobalt Tools 400 –a victory that was a longtime coming for the three-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion.
Up until last year’s race, where Stewart led three times for a race-high 127 laps and held off five-time Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson for the win, Las Vegas had been as fickle as the wheel of a roulette table.
Stewart had flirted with victories at Las Vegas off and on for 13 seasons. Prior to last year, Stewart’s record at Las Vegas featured three top-three, five top-five and eight top-10 finishes. He led laps, sat behind the wheel of dominant cars, and been close enough to victory that he could almost taste the celebratory champagne – the most blatant example being the 2011 Kobalt Tools 400.
Stewart dominated that race, and victory seemed like a sure bet. Stewart led four times for a race-high 163 laps and, at one point, opened up a four-second lead over his nearest pursuer. Foiling the effort however, was a pit-road penalty that sent him to the rear of the field late in the race. And while Stewart was able to maneuver his way back to second place, the penalty ultimately cost him what was all but a guaranteed win.
Fast forward to last year’s Kobalt Tools 400. Three months after celebrating his third Sprint Cup Series championship in Las Vegas, Stewart returned to the city looking for redemption.
Stewart started seventh in the 267-lap race, but quickly moved toward the front of the field. He took the lead for the first time on lap 134 as he slipped past Johnson. Track position, however, was everything, and when Stewart found himself third on a lap-234 restart, he made a daring three-wide pass on the frontstretch to retake the lead for the final time. However, holding that lead proved challenging, as three separate caution periods allowed his competitors, notably four-time Las Vegas race-winner Johnson, to mount a charge against Stewart. Each time Stewart held him off, and when the checkered flag waved, Stewart had a .461 of a second margin of victory. It was the 13th time Stewart and Johnson finished 1-2, with Johnson taking seven victories and Stewart holding six.
The victory, which came in Stewart’s 14th Sprint Cup start at the track, put a spotlight on Stewart’s prowess at Las Vegas. His stat line now reads: one win, four top-threes, six top-fives, nine top-10s and 482 laps led. And in loop-data statistics, Stewart leads all drivers in the category of fastest drivers on restarts, and ranks among the top-five in average running position (fourth), fastest laps run (second), fastest green-flag speed (fourth) and number of laps in the top-15 (third). And his 357 laps led in the track’s last eight races places him second on the laps-led list behind four-time Sprint Cup champion Jeff Gordon. It all adds up to Stewart owning the third-highest overall driver rating, with only Johnson (first) and Gordon (second) ahead of him.
With a win finally under his belt that highlights his record of proficiency at Las Vegas, Stewart aims to take a page from Las Vegas icon Elvis by making this decade his very own “Vegas Years”.
Kyle Petty preps for 19th Anniversary Charity Ride Across America
During a weeklong event this spring, former NASCAR driver and racing analyst Kyle Petty will lead more than 175 motorcycle riders on a cross-country motorcycle trek to benefit Victory Junction. The 19th Anniversary Kyle Petty Charity Ride Across America presented by Manheim will commence on April 27 in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, and extend 2,100 miles before finishing in Tempe, Arizona on May 3. The Charity Ride raises funds and awareness for Victory Junction, a camp created to enrich the lives of children with chronic medical illnesses.
“Over the years, the Ride has turned into so much more than we ever anticipated,” said Petty, who started the Ride as a small group of friends riding from track to track across the country. “I’m grateful for the chance to spend time with friends, while meeting fans and generous supporters who ultimately help create memorable and fun camp experiences for wonderful children and their families.”
The 2013 Schedule includes overnight stops in:
· Coeur d'Alene, Idaho to Boise, Idaho (April 27)
· Boise, Idaho to Jackson, Wyo. (April 28)
· Jackson, Wyo. to Green River, Wyo. (April 29)
· Green River, Wyo. to Grand Junction, Colo. (April 30)
· Grand Junction, Colo. to Durango, Colo. (May 1)
· Durango, Colo. to Show Low, Ariz. (May 2)
· Show Low, Ariz. to Tempe, Ariz. (May 3)
According to Herschel Walker, former NFL great and 1982 Heisman Trophy winner, he enjoys the camaraderie among the riders each year, as well as seeing Petty interact with the crowds.
“Kyle is incredible. He works so hard and cares so much about the riders, the Charity Ride and the children who attend Victory Junction,” said Walker, who is participating in his 8th Charity Ride this year. “It’s truly a blessing to be a part of this experience.”
Spectators, visitors and residents are encouraged to visit one of the daily scheduled fuel stops or overnight locations to show support for the riders, meet Petty and also contribute to the Charity Ride’s “Small Change. Big Impact.” program that benefits children with chronic illnesses.
In the last nine years, more than 7,650 children have attended Victory Junction at no cost to their families, thanks to the Kyle Petty Charity Ride. The camp has served as the Ride’s primary beneficiary since its establishment by the Petty family in 2004 in honor of their late son, Adam.
The 2013 Kyle Petty Charity Ride Across America is made possible by presenting sponsor Manheim, as well as Coca-Cola, Pilot Flying J, Racing Electronics, FLUIDYNE Racing Products, WinCraft Racing, Krispy Kreme, FGX International and the Petty Family Foundation.
“Manheim is extremely proud to sponsor the Kyle Petty Charity Ride through 2015,” said Nick Peluso, Manheim senior vice president of customer management. “Previously having sponsored the Ride, Manheim values the national awareness it brings to chronic illness and enriching the lives of children who live with chronic illness. Giving back is definitely a priority for Manheim and our parent company COX; we are looking forward to our three-year sponsorship.”
Individuals can follow Petty and the riders live by visiting www.facebook.com/KPCharityRide or on Twitter @KylePetty and @KPCharityRide.
Full Circle PR
Scott Speed and Leavine Family Racing will keep their pirate colors for Sunday's Kobalt Tools 400 at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
The team set sail last week with a black No. 95 Ford Fusion at Phoenix, complete with a skull and crossbones designed by Sam Bass on the hood and the words "Surrender the Sponsor" across the trunk.
The project got so much positive feedback, including associate sponsorships for the 267 lap event in Sin City, that the team decided to stick with it.
"The whole idea to go with a pirate theme was to draw attention to Leavine Family Racing," Speed said. "We got off to a good start last week at Phoenix, so we decided to keep it on the car for Las Vegas."
Even though the No. 95 Ford will sport a black pirate theme, it will also carry the associate sponsorships from Race Fuel Energy Drink and Sin City Motorsports.
Crew chief Wally Rogers said the paint scheme is more than a publicity stunt. The team will make limited starts this season, so it's important to make the most of every opportunity.
"We've come so far since we put this program together in 2011," Rogers said. "We're confident in our ability to qualify for each race, and we know we're capable of solid finishes. This allows us to have a little fun while we try to catch the eye of a potential sponsor.
"We put the skull and crossbones on the car last week at Phoenix and we've added two partners in Race Fuel Energy Drink and Sin City Motorsports since. As they say in racing, if it ain't broke, don't fix it. That's why it's on the car again."
After a lead-lap finish at the season-opening Daytona 500, Speed qualified 28th for last week's race at Phoenix. A brake issue eventually relegated him to a 41st-place finish.
"When you have a thousand moving parts on a speeding car, things sometimes break," Speed said. "We're confident we've got things back on track for Las Vegas."
Speed and Rogers said the pirate theme also represents the team's willingness to work and think outside the box. It was the right time: after a limited season in 2012, the team was ready to 'raise the Black Flag' and challenge the status quo. Their battle flag is raised, a sign that Leavine Family Racing is willing to do battle against bigger teams.
"For us, it represents our tenacity," team owner Bob Leavine said. "We may be a little team, but we're not afraid of challenges. We close the gap with our work ethic."
Associate sponsor Sin City Motorsports is in the same boat as Leavine Family Racing, competing against the bigger teams in the midway with merchandise. They came on board to magnify efforts to help both the team- and merchandise-side grow.
The track will open a day early for testing as teams continue to work on their Generation-6 cars. Practice and qualifying is Friday, followed by another day of practice on Saturday.
Sin City Motorsports and Race Fuel Energy Drink aren't alone in supporting Leavine Family Racing this weekend: The new Tropicana Las Vegas will host Leavine Family Racing during this weekend's race as another team sponsor.
Associate sponsor Sin City Motorsports will have a merchandise trailer set up in the midway at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway with new 2013 apparel. Speed is scheduled to appear at the Sin City Motorsports merchandise trailer at the speedway from 9 to 9:30 a.m. before the race on Sunday.
The Kobalt Tools 400 is scheduled for a 3 p.m. ET green flag start, and will be televised on FOX.
NASCAR Productions Preserves and Archives High-Resolution Video Files With Spectra T-Finity
Spectra Logic today announced that NASCAR Productions has selected a Spectra®T-Finity tape library to archive 180,000 hours (8.0PB) of NASCAR Productions’ high-resolution video footage. The enterprise-class T-Finity, utilizing LTO data tape technology, will manage and store NASCAR’s vast historical broadcast data, including NASCAR-related events, TV programs, movies, commercials and other broadcast-related data sets. NASCAR’s video footage was previously archived on a Spectra T950 tape library, enabling a transition to a higher-capacity T-Finity tape library using Spectra’s TranScale feature, which protects prior investments and allows users to seamlessly transform and scale an existing tape library.
“When NASCAR Productions purchased the T950 library in 2008 it was configured to archive 50,000 hours of video footage, and in just five years, its broadcast data bloomed by 260 percent to 180,000 hours,” said Brian Grainger, Spectra Logic’s senior vice president of worldwide sales. “We have served NASCAR’s storage needs for many years, and were pleased to help them meet their growing needs with Spectra’s efficient, time saving TranScale capabilities. Spectra Logic prides itself on developing long-term relationships within the industry’s vendor, partner and end-user communities and, as the NASCAR solution illustrates, working with those contacts to meet unique and ever-changing data preservation needs.”
With Spectra’s TranScale architecture, T-Series tape library customers can utilize the common, interchangeable components between Spectra’s T-Series library family, enabling customers to seamlessly scale to the next largest library as data sets grow. The TranScale upgrade is easy and fast. It allows users to retain critical tape library components, eliminates the need for host/server reconfiguration, serial number changes, world-wide name changes, and switch rezoning, and is guaranteed to be completed in less than half a day. NASCAR Productions TranScaled from its T950 to a T-Finity with a simple chassis change.
“NASCAR needed to expand its data storage to accommodate a growing amount of video data. Spectra’s TranScale feature allowed us to transform our T950 into an upgraded T-Finity tape library,” said Steve Stum, NASCAR Productions’ vice president of operations and technical production. “The upgrade process involved a simple chassis replacement instead of a complex technology refresh, and we were able to complete the process in just a few hours.”
Kyle Busch looking to make it back to back at his hometown track
Coming off their first taste of victory together, this week Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) and their Nevada-bred driver will bring the No. 54 Monster Energy Camry to Las Vegas Motor Speedway (LVMS) in the NASCAR Nationwide Series (NNS). Kyle Busch has had success on his “hometown” track. Not only does Busch hold the record for the number of fastest laps (127) at LVMS in the NASCAR Nationwide Series, but he also ranks second in laps led (228) over the last eight years the Nationwide Series has raced at the 1.5-mile facility.
The 2012 Sam's Town 300 proved difficult for Busch, after starting the race from a 20th-place qualifying position, Busch worked his way through the field, only to end up in an on-track accident that relegated his previous Kyle Busch Motorsports team to a 33rd-place finish.
Although in nine NNS starts Busch has not won at LVMS, expectations are higher this year for the newly-formed team and veteran driver, who already have one 2013 season victory under their belt. Nothing would be greater though, than for Busch to bring home another win for sponsor partner Monster Energy, at the driver's home track, in only his third start realigned with the JGR Nationwide Series program.
Lucky Sevens on his Camry for 21st Career NNS Start
Parker Kligerman heads to Las Vegas Motor Speedway for Saturday's Sam's Town 300 hoping that the pair of green sevens adorning his black Toyota Camry for his 21st career NASCAR Nationwide Series (NNS) start will serve as lucky charms. Kligerman, who ranks fifth in the NNS driver standings after two events, will be making his second career NNS start at Las Vegas and first at a 1.5-mile track for Kyle Busch Motorsports (KBM).
After a top-five run at Daytona International Speedway in his KBM debut, the Connecticut native and his new team had a challenging day at Phoenix International Raceway in their second outing. After earning the 11th starting position, Kligerman ran in the top 15 until a brake malfunction resulted in contact with the wall on lap 132. The No. 77 team was able to overcome the incident and despite being two laps down, they were able to gain five positions over the 25 laps and ended the day with a 19th-place finish.
Kligerman heads to a track where in the Truck Series race last year he had the jackpot in sight, but left with empty pockets. After starting from the 14th position, the talented youngster maneuvered his Tundra at the front of the field on lap 34 and remained out front until making a green-flag pit stop on lap 70. The 22-year-old driver was nabbed for speeding entering pit road and after a pass through penalty found himself a lap down on the field. After returning to the lead lap with 30 laps remaining, the talented youngster tried to aggressively make his way back to the front in the closing laps, but ended in the fence with 19 laps remaining and ended his night in the garage.
Crew chief Eric Phillips and his KBM crew will unload KBM-8, a Toyota that proved to be one of the most productive in the fleet last season during the team's inaugural Nationwide Series campaign. After an overheating issue relegated KBM-08 to a 30th-place finish in its debut at Texas Motor Speedway in April, the Camry went on to post top-three finishes in each of its final four starts, including runner-up results with Kyle Busch in the September race at Chicagoland Speedway and with Kurt Busch in the September race at Kentucky Speedway. The last time the chassis saw action, Kyle Busch captured the pole with it and dominated the early stages of the November race at Texas Motor Speedway before settling for a third-place finish.
Kligerman heads to a track where he is confident that he will run well and knows that KBM has dealt him a strong Camry. Now, he and the rest of the No. 77 team must continue to gel and if they play their cards right, hitting the jackpot at the boss's hometown track would be extra rewarding.
Schrock Cabinetry, a division of MasterBrand Cabinets, Inc., continues its support of the No. 27 Schrock / Menards Chevrolet as the leading sponsor of the upcoming 2013 NASCAR ® Kobalt ® Tools 400 in Las Vegas. Behind the wheel, NASCAR driver Paul Menard will be steering toward victory at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway on March 10.
Schrock Cabinetry was founded in 1961 as Schrock Brothers Manufacturing specializing in handcrafted cabinetry for homeowners. In 1998, Schrock became a part of the MasterBrand Cabinets, Inc. family of brands, the leading cabinet manufacturer in North America. For the past four years, Schrock has aligned its like-minded reputation for precision and excellence with NASCAR as a leading sponsor, alongside family-owned home improvement store Menards®. This sponsorship is only the latest chapter in the brands' long-standing partnership. For more than 30 years, Schrock's beautiful, well-crafted cabinetry has been available in Menards stores across the Midwest.
"We're thrilled to be a part of the excitement of the NASCAR Kobalt Tools 400 and look forward to cheering on No. 27 Schrock / Menards Chevrolet," said David Randich, president at MasterBrand Cabinets, Inc. "We wish Paul and his team the best of luck in the upcoming race."
NAPA Racing/Martin Truex Jr. Las Vegas Preview
No. 56 NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota driver Martin Truex Jr. hopes to change his luck this weekend when the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series visits Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Mechanical failures ruined what could have been two top-10 performances at season-opening races in Daytona and Phoenix. The Michael Waltrip Racing driver is contemplating some drastic action.
“I told Chad I might try and find a witch doctor or something out in Vegas,” laughed Truex. “They have everything out there. If I can find a way to put an end to this bad luck, I want to do it. We have fast cars so at this point, we need to put these first two races behind us and take the positives and move on. I have a great NAPA AUTO PARTS team. We just need to keep doing what we know how to do and that’s to take fast Toyotas to the tracks, keep them together and deliver the results.”
This week, the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series tests Thursday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway to prepare the new Gen-6 cars for Sunday’s 400-mile event at the intermediate track.
TRUEX ON LAS VEGAS & GEN-6:“I don’t mind testing a day early at Las Vegas. You can never have enough practice especially now that we have the new Gen-6 car. It doesn’t matter how long you have practice or how much testing you have, there will be cars on the track until NASCAR throws the red and black flag. And even after all of that, we will always think, ‘Darn, if we only had two or three more laps.’ We are always striving for perfection so there is never enough time in my opinion to get ready for Sunday’s race.”
ON PERFORMANCE:“The first two races of the year, we’ve had fast cars. Daytona we were running top five and had a valve-spring issue. At Phoenix, we started 14th. We were about to race into the top 10 and had a piece break. It’s something that has never happened to me before, but it happened so we’re moving forward. I am disappointed to say the least with how our season has started. It’s time to make sure we’ve got all our stuff in gear. We can’t afford any more problems like this. I know Michael Waltrip Racing is working to get the problems fixed for us. We’ll just go on and try and win Vegas. It’s time for the NAPA team to shake this off and move on. My teammates are running strong — Mark Martin is running well and Clint Bowyer is sitting fourth in points so MWR as a whole hasn’t missed a beat since our strong performance last year.”
Outshyne to perform pre-race concert at Southern 500
Pre-race entertainment for the May 11 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Bojangles’ Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway just got kicked up a notch with the addition of a pre-race concert.
Track president Chris Browning has announced that Millstar Nashville recording artist, Outshyne, will perform at Darlington Raceway prior to driver introductions for the Bojangles’ Southern 500 on May 11. The pre-race concert will begin at approximately 5 p.m.
Outshyne’s lead singer Waylon Owings will also perform the national anthem for the Bojangles’ Southern 500.
“We’re thrilled to have Outshyne for our pre-race concert and have lead singer Waylon Owings perform the national anthem for the Bojangles’ Southern 500,” Darlington president Chris Browning said. “Outshyne is making a name for themselves and have been moving up the charts quickly. It’s great to see a popular regional group, from South Carolina having success in the country music industry and having them perform at Darlington for our race will be special for our fans.”
“This is such a privilege to sing the national anthem and have our band Outshyne perform a pre-race concert at Darlington Raceway,” said Owings. “Being from South Carolina, I know all too well the tradition of the racetrack and the history it brings to NASCAR. We hope all of our fans will purchase a ticket to the race and see us perform at South Carolina’s largest attended professional sporting event.”
Fans of Outshyne will have the opportunity to call the Darlington Raceway ticket office at either 843-395-8802 or 843-395-8916 from 1:00 – 5:00 p.m. on Thursday, March 7, and purchase a ticket to the race by speaking to one of the members of the band. Fans may also visit the ticket office during those hours and receive autographs from the band as well.
With each ticket purchase, fans will receive a pre-race wristband, giving them access to watch the Outshyne concert from in front of the pre-race stage along with driver introductions for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Bojangles’ Southern 500. This special offer will only be valid by phone or visiting the ticket office. Internet orders will be excluded.
Fans that already purchased the driver introductions wristbands during the track’s Daytona 500 offer can also watch the concert from in front of the pre-race stage.
The latest album by Outshyne, “Startin’ Over” debuted at #11 on the iTunes charts and the band’s latest single “Dirt Road Romance” has been climbing the charts at a rapid pace. The South Carolina-based band is expected to take off in 2013 for greater heights in the country music industry.
Darlington Raceway PR
Clint Bowyer, Kevin Harvick to lead teams in second annual celebrity softball game between Dover International Speedway and Pocono Raceway
Dover International Speedway and Pocono Raceway will square off on the diamond for the second straight year as both tracks announced the return of the Second Annual Celebrity Softball Game, featuring NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers Clint Bowyer and Kevin Harvick. The game will be played on Wednesday, April 24 at the home of the Harrisburg Senators in Harrisburg, Pa.
Bowyer, driver of the No. 15 5-hour ENERGY Toyota, will captain Team Dover, while Harvick, who pilots the No. 29 Rheem Chevrolet SS, will lead Team Pocono. In the inaugural game last year, Jeff Burton and the team from The Tricky Triangle narrowly defeated Carl Edwards and the Monster Mile after mounting a late comeback.
Access to the celebrity softball game is free with a ticket to that night’s baseball game. Tickets for the Senators game start at just $8, and all children ages 16 and younger that wear their NASCAR gear get a free Senators Hat and free passes to the Kids Play Area. For tickets, call 717-231-4444 or visit SenatorsBaseball.com.
In addition to Bowyer and Harvick, the rosters from each team will be made up of members of national and local motorsports media, as well as other local media personalities, and a few other special guests.
As rosters are announced, they will be posted and updated at DoverSpeedway.com and PoconoRaceway.com, as well as on Facebook.com/DoverInternationalSpeedway and Facebook.com/PoconoRaceway, and on Twitter at @MonsterMile and @PoconoRaceway.
Gates for the game will open at 4 p.m. with the game beginning at 4:30 p.m. Following the softball game, time permitting, Bowyer and Harvick will throw out the first pitch for that evening’s 7:05 p.m. baseball game between the Harrisburg Senators and the visiting Reading Fightin’ Phils. The teams are the AA affiliates of the Washington Nationals and Philadelphia Phillies, respectively.
Throughout both the softball and baseball games, both tracks will be promoting and giving away tickets to their respective NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races which take place on Sunday, June 2 at Dover and Sunday, June 9 at Pocono.
The tracks have also teamed up to offer an all-new ticket package that includes a ticket for each of the tracks’ spring NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races — June 2 at Dover, June 9 at Pocono — as well as a hot dog, beverage and souvenir program for each race. The package costs $158 as the Monster Mile and The Tricky Triangle are only 158 miles apart.
NASCAR returns to Dover International Speedway May 31-June 2, 2013 for the June 2 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race, the June 1 “5-hour ENERGY 200” NASCAR Nationwide Series race and the May 31 “Lucas Oil 200” NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race. For tickets or more information, call 800-441-RACE or visit DoverSpeedway.com.
A week later, NASCAR’s premier circuit visits Pocono Raceway for the June 7-9, 2013 “Fan Driven 400” race weekend, including the June 8 “Pocono 200” ARCA Racing Series Presented by Menards race and the June 9 “Fan Driven 400” NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race. For tickets or more information, call 800-722-3929 or visit PoconoRaceway.com.
Dover Motorsports PR