Saturday, Jun 10
Speedway Digest Staff

Speedway Digest Staff

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The No. 54 Monster Energy team and its driver, Kyle Busch, approach Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway this week the same as they have every race this season, focused on a victory. Already winning five NASCAR Nationwide Series (NNS) events in 2013, the Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) No. 54 team and crew chief Adam Stevens have a proven path to success.

Busch will make his ninth Nationwide Series start piloting the matte black Monster Energy Toyota Camry in Saturday’s History 300 event. While North Carolina is home to him now, the Las Vegas-born native is very familiar with Victory Lane at his race team’s closest NASCAR track, winning there 11 times in 45 career starts across NASCAR’s top three divisions - including a record-tying six in the Nationwide Series.

Busch, recorded as the youngest NNS winner in 2004 on the 1.5-mile oval, last experienced Victory Lane at CMS after last weekend’s Truck Series race Friday night. Behind the scenes, JGR crew chief Stevens last experienced Victory Lane at CMS in the fall race of this 2012 Nationwide Series event with then team driver Joey Logano.

The now 28-year-old Busch has recorded three poles in his No. 54 Camry this season, giving him 29 career poles in the Nationwide Series, none which have come at Charlotte. Team leader Stevens, however, secured a pole-qualifying position for the 2012 spring Charlotte Nationwide Series event. Needless to say, they both intend on improving their track statistics, together this year as driver and crew chief, and in front of the home crowd.


Almost daily, Kyle Buschand members of his No. 18 M&M'S® Toyota team practice to improve their efficiency changing tires and pouring gas, to ensure they can save precious seconds necessary to maintain track position. Today, the team banded together with colleagues from Joe Gibbs Racing, NASCAR and M&M'S to make improvements of a different kind.

This unique team, comprised of more than 50 volunteers, is helping build two Habitat for Humanity of Charlotte homes in the Charlotte area, which includes the future homes of Yasin Mohamed and Egland Isak and their three children, as well as Kung Mang and Sung Thluai and their two children. The effort is part of M&M'S M'Prove America™ campaign, a year-long partnership with Habitat designed to fund construction of new Habitat homes across the United States.

Fans can join Busch and M&M'S by pledging to volunteer their time and talents at Habitat for Humanity build sites across the country at This year, M&M'S is encouraging its associates and fans to log an ambitious 1.5 million minutes – or 25,000 hours – of volunteer time with Habitat. 

"Charlotte has always been good to the NASCAR community – and especially to me and my teammates," said Kyle Busch. "So it feels great to help two local families fulfill their dreams of homeownership. I encourage all race fans to join M&M'S in the effort to M'Prove America in their own hometowns, as there are few things in life as rewarding as helping a neighbor."

In addition to encouraging fans to volunteer time, M&M'S is also making a donation of $500,000 to Habitat for Humanity to fund the construction of Habitat homes in 2013. Later this month, M&M'S will also introduce specially marked M'Prove America packages of red, white and blue M&M'S® Brand Candies in stores nationwide.

The M&M'S M'Prove America campaign will also be on display during the Coca-Cola 600 on May 26 at the Charlotte Motor Speedway when Busch gets behind the wheel of a special No. 18 M&M'S M'Prove America Toyota.

MARS America PR

With summertime just around the corner, Pepsi® and Mountain Dew® are excited to announce "Iconic Summer," giving fans the chance to win a wide variety of incredible prizes and experiences. For decades, Pepsi and Mountain Dew have celebrated cultural icons, larger-than-life personalities and hosted some of the most memorable pop culture experiences —but never before have they brought together so many iconic prizes and experience, in the same place, at the same time. Get ready for the biggest event of the summer: this isthe Iconic Summer!

Prizes include everything from Pepsi and Mountain Dew-themed merchandise to once-in-a-lifetime experiences that only Pepsi or Mountain Dew could provide:

  • Trip to MTV Video Music Awards in Brooklyn, NY
  • Trip to iHeart Radio Music Festival in Las Vegas, NV
  • Meet and greet with racing icon Jeff Gordon
  • Meet and greet with racing superstar Dale Earnhardt Jr
  • 2013 Winter Dew Tour Passes
  • Bassmaster All Star Fishing Experience with professional anglers including Gerald Swindle
  • Trip to the 2013 World Series
  • Trip to Super Bowl XVIII

The program also includes a "Hometown Sweeps" component that enables Pepsi and Mountain Dew fans to enter for the chance to win unique experiences right in their own backyard including access to their hometown college and professional sports franchises and other local attractions.

Participating in the Iconic Summer program is easy…simply collect codes and combine icons and you could win. Fans can stop by local retailers and pick up specially marked packages of Pepsi or Mountain Dew, then check under-the-cap for codes to redeem online for "Icon" game pieces. "Icon" game pieces can be combined to unlock different tiers of prizes, or banked for future prizes.

"We're thrilled to kick off the Iconic Summer, offering fans of Pepsi and Mountain Dew hundreds of thousands of opportunities to win prizes and experiences," said Simon Lowden, Chief Marketing Officer, Pepsi-Cola North America Beverages. "For decades, Pepsi and Mountain Dew have partnered with influential celebrities and hosted epic events, and we're taking this unique opportunity to bring it all together under one program to give fans a summer they will never forget."

Beginning today, fans can collect codes from  more than half a million specially marked Pepsi and Mountain Dew 20-ounce, 1-liter, 2-liter and multipack PET bottles and fountain cups and begin redeeming them online for Icons at  to score gear and experiences that only Pepsi and Mountain Dew can provide. Summer is meant to be epic and Iconic Summer promises to deliver!

Pepsico PR

No. 15 5-hour ENERGY Toyota driver Clint Bowyer visited victory lane at Charlotte Motor Speedway for the first time in October. The Michael Waltrip Racing driver enjoyed the experience so much he’d like to do it again Sunday after 400-laps around the 1.5-mile track. The tradition and importance of the 600-mile annual Memorial Day weekend race isn’t lost on the 33-year-old Emporia, Kansas native.  


CHARLOTTE 600: “The 600 at Charlotte on Memorial Day weekend is a tradition in NASCAR. The folks at Charlotte Motor Speedway do such a great job of honoring our troops - they really do roll out the red carpet for the military. The pre-race demonstration/invasion of the infield is awesome! All that stuff really hits home and it’s great to see. It helps remind us of how lucky we really are to be out here racing cars and all the folks out here enjoying a great weekend at the races - that’s all possible because those young men and women are over there fighting for our freedom and way of life.

“The race itself is a whole other kind of deal. It’s 600 miles long! That’s like getting in my 5-hour ENERGY Toyota and driving from Charlotte Motor Speedway to more than halfway back to Emporia, Kan. That’s crazy! We strap in and race on and on and on and on … then we ask our crew chief how many laps are left and they tell us that we just got to halfway! (laughs). It’s a long day and we have to be sure we are ready for it. We have to hydrate ourselves because it can be grueling inside the car. I joke about how long and grueling this race is, but it’s a huge race to win. It’s the biggest day of racing for the year in motorsports and to win on that day is a very big deal. We won here in the fall and I’d love to do that again this weekend.”


Robin Meade, host of HLN’s “Morning Express with Robin Meade” has been added to a star-studded lineup that will join the largest Memorial Day weekend celebration in the country at the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway Sunday.

Meade, who is also a New York Times best-selling author and emerging country artist, will kick off the ultimate test of man and machine – NASCAR’s only 600 mile contest – by performing the national anthem. Her lastest album “Count on Me” is set to be released June 12. The longtime news anchor will also make an appearance earlier in the day at a special celebration luncheon to honor up to 10,000 active military and family members at zMAX Dragway as part of the speedway’s weekend-long “Welcome Home Our Troops” salute to the military.

In 2009, Meade's first book, "Morning Sunshine! How to Radiate Confidence and Feel It Too," was an instant New York Times bestseller. Before joining CNN Headline News in 2001, Meade anchored mornings and weekends at NBC's local affiliate in Chicago, WMAQ, after stops as morning and noon anchor at WSVN in Miami, Fla. and WCMH in Columbus, Ohio. Meade's first job in broadcasting came at WMFD in Mansfield, Ohio. She leaped to Cleveland's WJW the same year she was Miss Ohio.

Other celebrities scheduled to appear during the Coca-Cola 600 weekend include HISTORY’s Rick Dale, of “American Restoration;” decorated veteran and No. 1 best-selling author Lt. Col. Oliver North; and Papa John’s founder, John Schnatter. In addition, country music megastar and NBC’s newest “All-Star Celebrity Apprentice” winner, Trace Adkins, will perform a free concert for all Coca-Cola 600 ticket holders on Friday, May 24.


NASCAR Camping World Truck Series driver Todd Peck took steps to help fight arthritis, literally. He particpated in the Arthritis Walk-Charlotte at the U.S. National Whitewater Center to help raise funding for the Arthritis Foundation. Peck, who was diagnosed with arthritis as a child, trotted a three-mile course along with hundreds of arthritis patients and their families as a reminder to stay moving for at least 30 minutes a day to help prevent or treat arthritis.


As the Arthritis Foundation's signature event, The Arthritis Walk raises funds and awareness every year to fight the nation's leading cause of disability. In addition to fighting arthritis and helping the millions of people who live with arthritis pain, the foundation aims to make the impact of arthritis and move together to help prevent and treat this serious and painful disease through research, education and community programs.

Participants walked for friends or family members with arthritis, and those with arthritis wore blue hats to signify their action to take control of their condition.

"Today was a whole lot of fun," Peck said. "I really enjoyed seeing everyone come together and make strides towards fighting arthritis. It's obviously an important cause to me and I was really excited to see the support that flowed in from the community."

Peck, driver of the No. 40 Arthritis Foundation Silverado, had his race truck and team hauler at the event for the walk's participants to experience. In an effort to boost the fundraising efforts, he accepted $1 donations for the foundation from participants to sign a sticky note and post it on his truck. He also accepted donations to sign his pit wall banner.


"It's an honor to use our race program to help the Arthritis Foundation," said Keith Wolfe, general manager of Peck Motorsports. "We're proud to support their efforts and hope we can continue to do so for years to come. We're already looking forward to next year's walk."


Peck announced last week that he will return to NASCAR Camping World Truck Series action this season, driving for his family-owned Peck Motorsports team. His first race will be at Kentucky Speedway on June 27.

Peck Motorsports PR


In Jeff Gordon's 700th career start at Darlington a few weeks ago, the 87-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series winner notched his 300th career top-five. But what does he remember about his third career top-five - a runner-up finish to Dale Earnhardt - in Gordon's first attempt in the 600-miler at Charlotte Motor Speedway?

Not much.



Gordon, whose first race in NASCAR's premier series was the season finale in 1992, began his rookie campaign with a fifth-place finish in the season-opening Daytona 500. In March, he would secure his second top-five with a fourth-place finish at Atlanta. Seven races later - and several crashes later - Gordon would post his first of 65 career second-place finishes when he followed "The Intimidator" across the line here 20 years ago.



"I forgot I ran well in that race," said Gordon, who will drive a specially painted No. 24 Drive To End Hunger Chevrolet SS Sunday that will feature stars and stripes in red, white and blue. "And I'm actually surprised I made it to the end. We must have hit on something that night.



"Actually, I probably just stopped hitting things!"



Charlotte Motor Speedway has been the site of several "firsts" for Gordon, including his first pole position (October 1993) and first victory (May 1994). Overall, the four-time NASCAR Cup Series champion has five wins, eight poles, 16 top-fives and 21 top-10's at the 1.5-mile track. But the 600-mile event here is like no other.



"The race starts during the day and the track changes a lot when the sun goes down," said Gordon. "You have to be ready to stay on top of the adjustments - almost get ahead of them instead of getting behind on them.



"It's a very long race, and I like long races because it suits my style. But the car has to be right."



Gordon's mindset for NASCAR's longest race has changed over the course of 20 years.



"You can't go into this race thinking 'oh, we're just going to cruise at the beginning and wait for the track to come to us,'" said Gordon. "That used to exist, but it doesn't anymore.


You start charging from the drop of the green flag."

No. 55 Aaron’s Dream Machine Toyota driver Mark Martin finished a media session Friday at Charlotte Motor Speedway and walked only a few steps away before quickly turning around.

“I remember one more thing,” he said as a smile came across his face. He had just spent five minutes talking about Dick Trickle to the assembled NASCAR media.

But even after the session his memories kept coming.

Less than 24 hours earlier, Trickle, 71, racing’s “winningest short track driver” had ended a life that included over 1,200 race victories and mentoring some of the sport’s brightest stars on the short tracks of middle America.

One teenager seeking Trickle’s wisdom was Martin who battled the Wisconsin legend in several stock car series before moving south to win 40 NASCAR Sprint Cup races and likely earn a place in the NASCAR Hall of Fame.

“Dick made himself a mentor to many, Rusty (Wallace), myself, Alan Kulwicki -- you know we wouldn’t have been the racers that we were when we got here had we not come under his influence,” said Martin.

Martin didn’t subscribe to everything in Trickle’s legendary lifestyle. Martin didn’t smoke in the race car and he certainly couldn’t keep up with Trickle’s rule of needing only an hour of sleep for each 100 laps of the next day’s race. But Martin and others learned plenty.

“I was proud of who we were and the racers we were. For the influence that he had on us and the etiquette and the way he raced. He raced us real hard on the race track, but off the race track, he was very free with parts or advice -- he gave freely.”

Those short track days may be a memory but the lessons learned as a teenager under Trickle’s guidance are still around. When Martin starts Sunday’s Coke 600 he’ll remember one of the first lessons.

"He was the one that told me, and this is kind of corny, but it isn't when you're 18 or 19 years old. He told me in order to finish first, first you must finish. That has always kind of stuck with me.”

Trickle’s last NASCAR race came in 2002 and Martin said the pair had rarely crossed paths of late, but “he was part of the influence that helped mold the people and racers that we were.”

As for that extra memory Martin added after the media session?

It goes back to 1977 when the 18-year-old Martin travelled from Arkansas to Wisconsin where they raced five nights a week. The promoter at Wisconsin Rapids’, high-banked, third-mile Golden Sands Speedway offered $100 bonus to anyone breaking the track record.

Martin set a new track record and grabbed the provisional pole. As qualifying wound down he started thinking of ways to spend the extra cash.

All of sudden an open trailer arrived at the track then rolled through the pits with an idling racecar sitting on the back. The crew climbed from the trailer, dropped the gate and Trickle drove the car down the ramp then onto the track where he knocked Martin off the pole and set a new track record.

"After beating me he got on to me for breaking the record too much. He said we were only supposed to break it a little at a time so we could collect the 100$ every week,” laughed Martin.

“I'm sure he'd like to be remembered the way all of us that knew him remember him -- and that is he was a hell of a hard guy to beat.”


As part of its ongoing commitment to top-line fan engagement, Roush Fenway Racing (RFR) will host its annual Spring Fan Day on Thursday, May 23rd at its World Headquarters in Concord, N.C.

The event leads into one of the most exciting racing weekends of the year, and fans attending will have the opportunity to meet all of the RFR drivers, as well as interact with RFR partner displays, grab a bite to eat and receive free samples.

Sirius XM NASCAR Radio will broadcast live from the event and drivers, fans and partners will take part in an ‘all day’ Google+ Hangout live from RFR’s award-winning social channel. In addition fans can take part in unique interactive social media activities, including scavenger hunts to win RFR prizes.

Fans looking to take part in the autograph sessions should arrive at 8:00 a.m. to pick up tickets. Autograph sessions will begin at 10:00 a.m. with team owner Jack Roush, Greg Biffle, Trevor Bayne, Travis Pastrana and Chris Buescher.

Two-time Nationwide Series Champion Ricky Stenhouse Jr. will sign autographs at 11:30 a.m., followed by fan favorite Carl Edwards at 12:00 noon.

Several RFR partner displays will be on site and fans will have the chance to check out RFR race cars, interact with Miss Sprint Cup and take part in an epic mascot challenge featuring Lugnut (Charlotte Motor Speedway), Tony The Tiger (Kellogg’s), Rameses (University of North Carolina), Tim E. Gator (Kannapolis Intimidators), Bump and Run (Bristol) and the 3M Pit Bull.

RFR corporate headquarters is located at 4600 Roush Place in Concord, N.C.

The Roush Fenway Spring Fan Day runs from 8:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. Fans who stop by can take advantage of extended gift shop hours throughout Charlotte race weekends.

For more information


Each season before the summer stretch of the schedule begins, the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series returns "home" to Charlotte Motor Speedway for two weeks. The leadoff event is the Sprint Showdown, providing two additional drivers the opportunity to compete in the Sprint All-Star Race. Casey Mears and the GEICO Racing team not only looked to transfer to the big show, but also to build their data notebook before next week's points race, The Coca-Cola 600.

Prior to qualifying on Friday afternoon, the Germain Racing team made a substantial amount of changes to the No. 13 GEICO Ford. Those tweaks proved to be the right call as Mears placed his Fusion in the fifth starting position for Saturday night's 40-lap event.

A brief rain shower delayed the start of the Sprint Showdown on Saturday, but once the track dried, Mears was ready to charge to the front of the field in the two 20-lap segments. During the first segment, Mears quickly reported the GEICO Ford was hitting the racetrack very hard, making it difficult to carry momentum into turn one. Despite this condition, Mears successfully ran in the sixth position. A caution-free opening segment provided a competition yellow at lap 20 to allow teams the opportunity to make adjustments on pit road.

After a quick discussion, Mears and crew chief Bootie Barker made the decision to forego visiting pit lane and gain track position at the start of the final 20-lap shootout. Leading the field to the green flag, fresh rubber quickly prevailed as Mears was shuffled back to 10th-place by lap 30. Over the final 10 laps, the veteran driver held his position to bring home a top-10 finish. While the end result was not what the team had hoped for, the GEICO Racing crew was able to gain crucial information leading into next week's prestigious event.

"We made a substantial change before qualifying with it being an impound race," said Mears after the Sprint Showdown. "It worked out well for qualifying, but it was hitting the track way too hard. The splitter was hitting the track so hard that I couldn’t even get into turn one. We knew we would like to come in and put on fresh rubber, but we knew we were gonna hit the track and not have a chance, so we figured we’d do all we could and that was to start up front and give it a shot. We knew if we came in and took tires we’d finish where we were or worse because it was hitting the ground so hard, and we just figured with high air pressures maybe we could smoke off a few laps and kind of hang in there, but, obviously, it fell off pretty bad. I wish we could have raced because I feel like we’ve got a good racecar. We were one change away from being pretty close and that gives us good direction for the 600, but I really wanted to go down swinging there and, instead, we were just hanging on."



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