Thursday, Sep 21
Speedway Digest Staff

Speedway Digest Staff

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Daniel Hemric made his first start at Phoenix International Raceway in Friday's NASCAR Camping World Truck Series event and finished 13th with the No. 6 Jack Link's/Valvoline Chevrolet team. Starting from the 14th position under the lights of the Avondale, Ariz. race track, Hemric battled a loose-handling condition on the black and white machine. Having to be extremely conservative on the entries to the turns, the Kannapolis, N.C., native fell to 27th in the running order. The first caution of the night came on Lap 34, giving the team the opportunity to work on the truck's handling. Crew chief Bryan Berry called for four tires, fuel, a left shock and chassis adjustments when Hemric drove the truck to pit road. The 22-year-old driver continued to battle around the one-mile track, receiving the Lucky Dog to return to the lead lap on two occasions. The team continued to work to make progress with the truck's balance during routine pit stops, making a right rear shock adjustment, in addition to air pressure and chassis changes. As the handling conditioned gradually improved the SGR driver picked off one position at a time. Hemric turned his fastest times in the closing laps, and took the checkered flag in the 13th position. Despite handling challenges and near-misses of spinning trucks during the 150-lap race, the young rookie brought home the No. 6 Jack Link's/Valvoline Chevrolet without a scratch on it like a seasoned veteran.


Daniel Hemric Quote:

"I'd like to thank the Sharp-Gallaher Racing team for sticking behind me all night. Thirteenth wasn't the finish we wanted for the Jack Link's/Valvoline Chevrolet, but we never gave up. I learned with every lap around here (Phoenix International Raceway). Thank you to Eddie Sharp, Bill Gallaher, Jack Link's, Valvoline, ECR Engines and Stitch98 for making my dreams come true tonight, and to everyone out there for believing in me. Hopefully, we'll get to do it again!"


Ryan Blaney (@RyanBlaney22), driver of the No. 29 Cooper Standard Ford F-150, made his second career start at Phoenix International Raceway in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) during the Lucas Oil 150 on Friday night after qualifying in the 26th position.

By the time the first caution came out on lap 35, Blaney had made his way all the way up to the 17th position with a strong Cooper Standard Ford. Crew Chief, Doug Randolph brought Blaney to pit road for four tires, fuel and a track bar adjustment. Blaney restarted 15th when the field went back to green on lap 41.

When the No. 9 brought out the fourth caution on lap 85, Randolph brought Blaney to pit road for the second time to change four tires, fuel and make an air pressure adjustment. Blaney entered pit road ninth and restarted 11th on lap 93.

With 10 to go, on the final restart, Blaney found himself restarting in the sixth position, climbing 20 spots from where he began the race to only drop one position and finish seventh on a very humbling day at PIR. The Cooper Standard team worked diligently to place inside the top ten with one race of the season remaining.

The No. 29 BKR team currently sits sixth in the NCWTS driver points standings, 98 points back from first.

"We didn't get the finish we wanted here in Phoenix, but it all started with our tough qualifying run. The Cooper Standard team worked really hard to give me a good piece tonight. We were able to make up several spots, but ran out of time at the end of the race to close in on the top five. I'm looking forward to getting to Homestead next weekend and finishing out 2013 strong." - Ryan Blaney


Ross Chastain (@RossChastain), driver of the No. 19 Draw-Tite Ford F-150, made his 13th start for Brad Keselowski Racing (BKR) and his second start at Phoenix International Raceway during Friday night's Lucas Oil 150 after qualifying his F-150 in the pole position earlier in the day for his second pole of the year.

Chastain got off to a solid start leading the first 35 laps before making his first pit stop under the second caution due to a tire issue on the No. 32. Crew chief, Chad Kendrick changed four tires, where most of field only took two tires. Chastain restarted fifth on lap 41, but before the field could make it back around the no. 94 spun and brought out caution number three.

On lap 78, Chastain radioed in explaining to Kendrick he had a vibration all the way around his F-150. Kendrick eased the young driver and assured him the team would execute a plan on the next pit stop.

During the fourth caution on lap 85, Chastain brought his Draw-Tite Ford to pit road for right sides only and fuel. Chastain entered pit road third and restarted first with 57 to go due to an exceptionally fast pit stop by the BKR crew.

During the final restart Chastain grabbed the lead with 10 to go, but fell one position short of the victory, coming home in second place for the second time of the season, leading 63 of 150 laps.

The No. 19 BKR team now sits fifth in the NCWTS owner points standings, 53 points back from first.

"We had a really fast Draw-Tite Ford tonight, proud of our pole winning qualifying effort. I wish I could have held on just a little bit longer, but I'm so happy for my team and thankful for the opportunity Brad and Draw-Tite have provided me this year. I'm really looking forward to returning home to Florida next weekend with the goal of putting our Melon 1 Ford F-150 in victory lane." - Ross Chastain


Gray Gaulding won the Casino Arizona 50 on Saturday at Phoenix International Raceway, but Derek Thorn was the man of the night.

Thorn, from Lakeport, Calif., earned his first NASCAR K&N Pro Series West championship with a 15th-place finish which was enough to hold off a trio of contenders. Thorn carried a 16-point advantage over 2011 series champion Greg Pursley into the night with Cameron Hayley and Michael Self right there, as well.

Gaulding got the win when Cole Custer spun in Turns 3 and 4 on the white-flag lap after some slight contact. It’s the first career victory for the 15-year-old NASCAR Next driver out of Colonial Heights, Va., who becomes the youngest race winner in K&N West history at 15 years, 8 months and 30 days. He eclipses the mark of 16 years and 2 months established by Dylan Kwasniewski in Aug. 2011.

Fellow NASCAR K&N Pro Series East competitor and 2013 Sunoco Rookie of the Year Jesse Little crossed the line in second followed by Hayley in third. David Mayhew was fourth followed by Brandon McReynolds in fifth. Custer recovered to finish sixth while Kelly Admiraal, Brett Thompson, Self and Cuzick completed the top 10.

Custer dominated the event by winning the 21 Means 21 presented by Coors Brewing Company Pole Award earlier in the day and leading all but the final lap of the race.

The final margin for Thorn in the standings was six points over Hayley while Pursley and Self finished 15 and 24 markers back, respectively.

The race was red flagged on the initial start after several cars got tangled on the frontstretch causing a lengthy cleanup.

The Casino Arizona 50 is slated to air on FS2 on Nov. 17 at 11a.m. ET.

Thorn and NASCAR’s other 2013 touring champions will be honored at the NASCAR Night of Champions Touring Awards ceremony on Saturday, Dec. 14 at the Charlotte (N.C.) Convention Center in the NASCAR Hall of Fame.


1. (6) Gray Gaulding, Colonial Heights, Va., Toyota, 50 laps, 84.946 mph.
2. (5) Jesse Little, Sherrills Ford, N.C., Chevrolet, 50.
3. (2) Cameron Hayley, Calgary, AB, Canada, Ford, 50.
4. (11) David Mayhew, Atascadero, CA, Chevrolet, 50.
5. (22) Brandon McReynolds, Mooresville, N.C., Toyota, 50.
6. (1) Cole Custer, Ladera Ranch, Calif., Chevrolet, 50.
7. (13) Kelly Admiraal, Edmonton, AB, Canada, Chevrolet, 50.
8. (10) Brett Thompson, Jerome, Idaho, Chevrolet, 50.
9. (3) Michael Self, Park City, UT, Chevrolet, 50.
10. (19) Taylor Cuzick, Tolleson, Ariz., Dodge, 50.
11. (14) Matt Tifft, Hinckley, Ohio, Chevrolet, 50.
12. (8) Johnny Borneman, Ramona, Calif., Chevrolet, 50.
13. (17) Austin Wayne Self, Austin, Texas, Dodge, 50.
14. (9) Greg Pursley, Newhall, CA, Ford, 50.
15. (12) Derek Thorn, Lakeport, CA, Ford, 50.
16. (7) Luis Tyrrell, Brisbane, Calif., Chevrolet, 50.
17. (15) Brandon Jones, Atlanta, Ga., Chevrolet, 50.
18. (23) Daryl Harr, Edmonton, AB, Canada, Chevrolet, 50.
19. (25) Jack Chisholm, Cranbrook, B.C. Canada, Toyota, 50.
20. (30) Scott Ivie, San Ramon, Calif., Toyota, 49.
21. (4) Shane Golobic, Fremont, Calif., Toyota, 49.
22. (28) John Wood, Eagle, ID, Toyota, 48.
23. (29) Brady Flaherty, Wilton, Calif., Ford, 45.
24. (16) Giles Thornton, Whitefish, Mont., Toyota, 41.
25. (27) Carl Harr, Edmonton, AB, Canada, Chevrolet, 25, rear end.
26. (31) DJ Kennington, St Thomas, Ont, Canada, Dodge, 17, electrical.
27. (21) Chase Briscoe, Mitchell, Ind., Toyota, 14, accident.
28. (20) Dylan Lupton, Wilton, Calif., Ford, 8, accident.
29. (18) Anthony Giannone, Colorado Sprgs, Colo., Toyota, 1, accident.
30. (26) Bobby Runyan, Jr., Denair, Calif., Chevrolet, 1, accident.
31. (24) Braeden Havens, Spokane, Wash., Chevrolet, 0, accident.


In the final laps of the Casino Arizona 50 at Phoenix International Raceway on Saturday night, Gray Gaulding closed in on runaway leader Cole Custer. With only a single turn to go before the drop of the checkered flag, Gaulding tapped the back of Custer and spun out the leader. 

It appeared Custer had lost speed by getting loose when steering into turn 3. Gaulding motored on to his first victory on the K&N Pro Series West tour as Custer dropped to sixth.

Gaulding explained the controversial finish by saying, "I was able to catch up to him when he had to go through lapped traffic. I barely touched him, and that's all it takes around here."

Pole-sitter Custer raced his way to an enormous 8.338-second lead just past the 50-lap halfway mark, but a caution flag bunched the field on lap 27. When the cars went back to racing, Custer built more than a second-and-a-half edge over Gaulding with 10 circuits to go. But, that lead gradually narrowed until the fateful conclusion.

Brandon McReynolds, son of former NASCAR Cup crew chief and Fox TV analyst Larry McReynolds, started 20th after bottoming out on his qualifying run but stormed his way to a fifth place finish.

Jesse Little copped second place, while Cameron Hayley was third and David Mayhew fourth. Derek Thorn finished 15th, but it was enough to clinch the series title for 2013.


Don't bet against Kyle Busch when he races at Phoenix.

Don't bet against him when he wins the pole for a NASCAR Nationwide Series.

Kyle Busch did both on Saturday, and with that double whammy working for him, Busch blew away the opposition to win his sixth race at the one-mile flat track in the Sonoran desert.

The driver of the No. 54 Joe Gibbs racing Toyota finished the ServiceMaster 200 more than four seconds ahead of race runner-up Justin Allgaier, who passed series leader Austin Dillon for the second position on the final lap.

Dillon held third, followed by Regan Smith and Sam Hornish Jr., whose deficit to Dillon in the championship battle grew from six to eight points.

Busch led 169 laps en route to his 12th NASCAR Nationwide Series victory in 25 starts this season. Busch extended his series record for wins in the series to 63. The pole was Busch's 10th of the season -- on nine occasions this season, he has converted the top starting spot into a victory.

With a bold move from the outside lane, Brad Keselowski powered past Busch into the lead after a restart on Lap 112, but the tenure of the No. 22 Ford at the front of the field was short-lived.

Busch, who slipped to third on the restart lap, regained the second spot on Lap 117, overtaking Harvick for the position. Three laps later, Busch and Keselowski were side-by-side at the start/finish line, with Busch nosing ahead as the cars crossed the stripe.

Busch began to inch away over the next 10 laps before Brad Sweet's spin in Turn 3 brought out the third caution of the race on Lap 130. Diverging strategies scrambled the running order as five drivers -- Bayne, Hornish, Allgaier, Smith and Scott -- opted not to pit under the yellow, leaving Busch to take the green from the sixth spot on fresh right-side tires.

Four more cautions followed in short order -- in a race that had run under green for 100 laps between the first two yellows -- and allowed Busch to pick off the cars running on old tires. Shortly after a restart on Lap 154, he passed Allgaier for the lead.

Twelve laps earlier, a tap from Scott's Chevrolet had knocked Keselowski's Ford into the Turn 3 wall in an accident that had serious implications for the owners' championship. Entering the race, the 22 led the No. 54 Toyota driven by Busch by 26 points, but Keselowski's wreck, coupled with Busch's win, trimmed the margin to four points with one race left.

For the first time since 1987, Mark Martin won't be in the Daytona 500 when the green flag waves on Feb. 23, 2014.

During Friday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series qualifying session at Phoenix International Raceway, Martin talked to reporters about his 2014 plans, which don't include the “Great American Race” but do include testing for Stewart-Haas Racing.

Martin has subbed for Tony Stewart, who broke his leg in a sprint car accident Aug. 5 in Iowa, and he'll continue that role during the Preseason Thunder testing sessions at Daytona.

"I don't have any racing scheduled for 2014," said Martin, who has appeared in 26 consecutive Daytona 500s, 29 overall. "I do, however, have an undefined role at Stewart-Haas. The major definition is I'll do the preseason testing. The cool thing about that is I get to do it on my terms. We haven't gone solid with the level of commitments or duties I will have. I've told them I want to get this year behind me.

"I'm going to be around. I'm going to be involved in racing. Most people close to me have known this all year, so really it's nothing new. I won't be in the Daytona 500. I ran third in the Daytona 500 in 2013, and that felt good. I knew that was my last Daytona 500. And then we came out here (Phoenix) and sat on the pole (for the March 3 race)."

Martin will drive the No. 14 SHR Chevrolet in Stewart's stead Nov. 17 at Homestead-Miami Speedway, but the 54-year-old driver isn't ready to say that will be his last NASCAR Sprint Cup race.

"I don't want to discuss that right now," Martin said. "I've really enjoyed this year, not dealing with all that. And I don't think that is of any major consequence. Let's just don't talk about it."

Nor does Martin feel he needs to fill a role as a driver coach for SHR's Danica Patrick.

"I say Danica does not need a driving coach," Martin said. "She's driving an amazing job, in my opinion. But if we can feed her faster race cars, she will reach her full potential. So I don't want you guys to write that I'm going to be coaching Danica, because I don't think she needs one ounce of coaching.

"She's driving fantastic. We've got to get her cars faster. So if I was able to aid in any way, shape or form the amount of information that was given to her to utilize or maybe (crew chief) Tony Gibson getting the right stuff under her, then that would be a success. But as far as coaching her driving, I don't think she needs it."

Senior moment

Saturday, Nov 09

Ross Chastain, 20, runner-up in Friday night's Lucas Oil 150 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Phoenix, had the line of the day after listening to veterans Brendan Gaughan and Matt Crafton expound at length on the quality of young drivers in the series.

Though Chastain had just lost a closely contested race to first-time winner Erik Jones, 17, he could still muster a sense of humor when he sat down at the dais in the media center.

"First, I just want to say that I'm glad 'senior hour' is over," Chastain quipped. "I think they were rambling there a little bit. But, no, they're good guys. I love to race with them. I've learned a lot from both of them, on and off the track.

"There's a reason they've been around for so long. I can only hope I'm around half as long as they are, because that would be a success in my mind."

Gaughan finished second in Friday's race. Crafton ran fifth, and, with a 46-point lead over Ty Dillon heading to the season finale at Homestead, simply must take the green flag in that race to lock up the series championship.

Winning formula?

Saturday, Nov 09

Richard Childress Racing announced Saturday the hiring of Mike Coughlan as technical director, a move that should bolster the engineering efforts of a Chevrolet team that already has made significant strides in that area.

Coughlan, from Surrey, England, has 15 years' experience in Formula One competition, serving as a chief designer with such marquee teams as Ferrari, McLaren, Williams, Benetton and Arrows. Coughlan also has experience in NASCAR competition, having worked with Michael Waltrip Racing in 2010 and 2011 before returning to F1.

Coughlan will report to Dr. Eric Warren, director of competition. RCR also added Mark McArdle as full-time director of racing operations in August.

Johnny Sauter was disappointed Friday night not to penetrate any further into the top 10 than eighth in the Lucas Oil 150 at Phoenix International Raceway, but the "shiny side of the coin" was the finish was Sauter's career-best-extending seventh consecutive NASCAR Camping World Truck Series top-10 in ThorSport Racing's No. 98 Carolina Nut Co. / Curb Records Toyota.

That means Sauter goes to next Friday night's season-finale Ford EcoBoost 200 at Homestead-Miami Speedway in South Florida with a long shot at reaching third in the championship, as he's currently 27 points behind defending series champion James Buescher.

But while Sauter's ThorSport teammate Matt Crafton put himself in position to only have to start the race to claim the drivers' championship in his No. 88 Ideal Door / Menards Toyota, Sauter is safely fourth, 13 points ahead of fifth-place rookie Jeb Burton.

While Sauter considered the finish, which came from a seventh-place starting position, an under-performance, his green-hued Tundra outfitted to celebrate Carolina Nut's Jalapeno-flavored roasted peanuts emerged from a rough 150-lap race virtually intact.

"Track position was everything and that was all it took, if you could ever get it," Sauter said as he took a low-key stroll through Phoenix's pitch dark Sprint Cup garage, on his way to the airport. "The guy that won (Erik Jones) never put on left-side tires? That's a joke and (no tire wear) doesn't make for great racing."

Sauter's crew's recent pit work had been a strong point in a victory at Talladega and second-place runs at Las Vegas and Texas. But the number of adjustments Sauter's crew was forced to make resulted in him losing at least a spot or two each time it hit the service alley.

The variety of changes put crew chief Dennis Connor in position to praise the over-the-wall gang for holding its own in the face of extra wrench twisting on pit road, but that didn't help Sauter's demeanor.

"Every (change) we did never even tickled the (front tire) chatter and the push we had," Sauter said. "If you couldn't get track position it was hard to go anywhere if you couldn't get the truck working any better.

"If you could do two rounds of wedge in the left-rear and two rounds of wedge in the right-rear and two rounds on the track bar and two pounds (of air pressure) on the right rear and not even tickle (the handling problem), that's not good."

Sauter's truck held its own at the start of the race -- moving from seventh to fifth for the first 36 laps, but after the first pit stop he fell back to just outside the top 10, where he was stuck for virtually the entire race, never really advancing or dropping much.

In the end, Sauter dodged a handful of late cautions to advance into the top-10, and then finally up to eighth at the finish.

"It's all good," Sauter said. "We're all not happy with where we finished but the guys never gave up (because) they never do. We gained a little more in the points and now we can still reach second or third if something happens (at Homestead)."

In 2011, when Sauter lost the Truck Series' championship by just six points to Austin Dillon when a rain shower caused the race to be called short of full distance, Sauter led the most laps and won the race. He's ready to pull a similar stunt this time around with his teammate already due for a visit to victory lane to celebrate ThorSport's third championship this season.

The Trucks' owners' championship is still up for grabs, with Crafton's No. 88 holding a 23-point edge over Kyle Busch Motorsports' No. 51, which won at Phoenix with Jones.

"We love Homestead," Sauter said. "We have a good history there and it's gonna be a good end of the season for us."

Thorsport PR


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