Tuesday, Dec 05
Speedway Digest Staff

Speedway Digest Staff

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Welcome To Miami...The NASCAR Nationwide Series (NNS) will make its first and only trip of the 2013 season to Homestead-Miami Speedway (HMS) this weekend for the 2013 season finale. Nelson Piquet Jr. will be making his second career NNS start at the 1.5-mile oval, having one previous start during the 2011 season, where he brought home a top-25 finish. 


This Week's Camaro...The No. 30 Omnitracs team will have chassis TSM-410 for Saturday afternoon's race at HMS. TSM-410 was last on the track in October when Piquet Jr.'s Turner Scott Motorsports (TSM) teammate James Buescher drove it to an 11th-place finish at Charlotte Motor Speedway.


Phoenix Recap...Making his second career NNS start at Phoenix International Raceway last Saturday afternoon in the desert, Piquet Jr. looked to gain some momentum in the ServiceMaster 200 before heading into the final race of the NNS season. Piquet Jr. and his No. 30 Qualcomm team started the weekend by qualifying 21st at the 1.0-mile oval. Piquet Jr. fought his way back from two laps down halfway through the race to bring his Qualcomm Chevrolet Camaro home with an 18th-place finish.


Welcome Omnitracs...For the first time in 2013, TSM partner Omnitracs will be the primary sponsor for Piquet Jr. and the No. 30 team. Omnitracs, Inc., a Qualcomm company, has provided integrated fleet management applications, services and platforms to transportation and logistics companies around the world for nearly 25 years. As the most experienced provider in the industry, Omnitracs, formerly Qualcomm Enterprise Services, delivers end-to-end solutions to help fleets improve safety and compliance, fuel management, mobile asset management, operational efficiency, driver retention and customer service. It tailors fleet management solutions to meet the needs of for-hire and private fleet operations of all sizes and with requirements ranging from basic compliance management to the most sophisticated business intelligence. As a wholly-owned subsidiary of Qualcomm Incorporated, Omnitracs is uniquely positioned to innovate fleet management solutions that benefit from the company's deep knowledge of mobile wireless technology and solutions. Backed by a global, 24/7, world-class technology infrastructure, Omnitracs has established an unrivaled track record of award winning customer service that extends long past the initial sale.  For more information, please visit the Omnitracs website (www.omnitracs.com), "Omnitracs Road Ahead" blog (www.omnitracs.com/blog), the YouTube Channel: Driving Ahead (www.omnitracs.com/youtube) and the LinkedIn page www.omnitracs.com/linkedin.


Watch and Listen...The 2013 NNS Finale can be seen live on Saturday, November 16 on ESPN. Race coverage will begin at 4:00 p.m. EST. The event can also be heard live on MRN Radio as well as SiriusXM Radio, channel 90.


Nelson Piquet Jr. on his return to Homestead-Miami Speedway:

"I am looking forward to getting back on the track and returning to Homestead [Miami Speedway] this weekend. This is the last chance of the year to bring home a good finish, and my team and I have worked really hard all week to prepare. Homestead is a fast mile-and-a-half, multi-groove oval that allows for some two- and three-wide racing. I think if we can stay smart, find the right setup and stay out of trouble, we can have a big day and bring the Omnitracs Chevy home with a great finish."


While some in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series are relieved the racing season is taking the checkered flag this Fridaynight at Homestead-Miami Speedway, Max Gresham isn't ready to slow down just yet.


Buoyed by seven-consecutive lead-lap finishes and four top-10 finishes in his first full season with Sharp-Gallaher Racing, Gresham is eager to stay behind the wheel of his No. 8 Made in USA Brand (MIUSA) Chevrolet for as long as possible.


"My first full-time season in the Truck Series has really been a learning experience," Gresham said. "It is amazing to see what we've accomplished from where we started from in Daytona to where we are right now."


Friday's Ford EcoBoost 200 is one last chance for Gresham to make another lasting impression this season. The 134-lap race, which takes the green flag on FOX Sports 1 at 8 p.m. Eastern Time, will mark his third-career start at the 1.5-mile oval.


In 2011 he started 26th and finished 31st following a fuel pump issue while driving for Stacy Compton. In last year's season finale, Gresham started 13th and finished 23rd, three laps behind winning teammate Cale Gale.


"Although Phoenix and Homestead are completely different - Phoenix is a flat track, and Homestead has variable banking - we learned some things about our Sharp-Gallaher Racing truck last week," crew chief Chris Showalter said. "Max knows what it takes to get around Homestead. We will do some things to our Chevrolet Silverado that should help him, too."


The team will use a chassis that once belonged to Kevin Harvick Inc. Ron Hornaday Jr. drove it to a victory in 2010 at Martinsville Speedway. Gresham last drove this Chevrolet to a 19th-place finish at Chicagoland Speedway in September, where it qualified 20th. This weekend will be the chassis' third appearance with Gresham.


"I agree with Showy [Showalter] - we learned something at Phoenix," Gresham said. "Not only can we carry over some mechanical information, but we can carry over a lot of momentum and confidence. We knew there would be some struggles in our first full-time year, but we seem to gain a little more every week.


"Now it's time to put everything together. You never stop trying to get better, even if it's the last race of the year."


Max Gresham PR

Erik Jones maximum-point performance last week at Phoenix (Ariz.) International Raceway, where he led a race-high 84 laps en route to his first NASCAR Camping World Truck Series victory, kept the ToytoaCare Racing team mathematically alive in the quest for the 2013 owner's championship. While the chances are slim, if the No. 51 can produce another maximum-point performance with owner-driver Kyle Busch behind the wheel in Friday night's Truck Series finale at Homestead-Miami (Fla.) Speedway (HMS) and the No. 88 ThorSport Racing Toyota Racing team - which enters with a 23 point lead - finishes outside the top 20, the team will bring home Kyle Busch Motorsports second Truck Series owner's championship in its four-year existence.

 Busch enters Friday night's race with the best winning percentage of any driver in Truck Series history, winning 29.8% (34/114) of the time he gets behind the wheel. With four wins in 10 starts behind the wheel of the No. 51 Tundra in 2013, the team's owner-driver has guaranteed himself at least a share of leading the Series in wins for the fourth time in his career. The talented wheelman led NASCAR's third division in wins for three consecutive seasons from 2009 to 2011, posting seven in '09, eight in '10 and six in '11.


In six career Truck Series starts at HMS, the Las Vegas native has produced one win (2010) and two runner-up finishes (2007 and 2012) and his 4.667 Average Finish is tops amongst drivers with at least five starts. Busch has led the most laps in four of the last five races he entered and over the last eight events at the 1.5-mile oval has led more laps (244) and produced more Fastest Laps Run (141) than any other Truck Series driver.


Essentially needing to win and lead the most laps on Friday night in order to keep the slim chance at the owner's championship alive, who better for team owner Kyle Busch to have behind the wheel than himself? The law of percentages shows that Busch has won and led the most laps in 20.1 % (23/114) of his career starts, while Crafton has finished outside the top 20 in 17.4% (55/315) percent of his career starts. So yes Lloyd Christmas, statistics show that there is a chance that both will happen on Friday night.



After finishing fifth this past Friday in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Phoenix, Matt Crafton was relaxed and jovial.

At the dais in the media center, he joked with fellow NCWTS veteran Brendan Gaughan. The drivers laughed about possible subterfuge that would keep Crafton from starting the season finale at Homestead.

Even if that were the case, Gaughan's teammate, Ty Dillon, would have to win at Homestead to overcome Crafton's 46-point lead. Dillon is the only driver with a mathematical chance to overtake Crafton, and it's a slim chance at that.

Accordingly, it's easy to forgive Crafton for starting to look ahead and savor a title that isn't quite official.

"I think we have to go to Homestead and start," said Crafton, who has finished in the top 10 in NCWTS points for six consecutive seasons and eight of the last nine, but has never won a championship. "I think I'm all right with that. It's going to feel damn good to go to Homestead and forget about everything and race like hell."

But to Crafton, 37, there's another important benefit to holding a 46-point lead.

"Sleep … just being able to sleep, that's the coolest thing," Crafton said. "I'm not going to lie. For the last month and a half, it's been tough."

Before Jimmie Johnson, Matt Kenseth and Kevin Harvick settle the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship, two other titles will be decided at Homestead-Miami Speedway this weekend.

One should be a slam dunk. As soon as Matt Crafton takes the green flag in Friday night's Ford EcoBoost 200, he'll be the new NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion.

The race in the NASCAR Nationwide Series is far less clearly defined. Austin Dillon holds an eight-point lead over Sam Hornish Jr. in what has been a hotly contested up-and-down battle all season long.

Dillon is a former truck series champion who expects to graduate to NASCAR Sprint Cup next year in a car owned by his legendary grandfather, Richard Childress.

Where Dillon's career is following a blueprint, Hornish's future is anything but certain. Where Dillon will race for a championship trophy in Saturday's Ford EcoBoost 300, Hornish will race for a title and everything that comes with it including the possibility of a stock car ride for next season.

Team owner Roger Penske doesn't have a concrete opportunity for Hornish in 2014 and has given the 34-year-old driver from Defiance, Ohio, the OK to shop around for a solid situation. Thus far, Hornish has no announced plans for next year, though the former IndyCar and Indianapolis 500 champion would prefer to remain in NASCAR.

"I've always been a person that never says never, but I'm pretty well focused on trying to continue to make my way and to make this work on the NASCAR side of it," Hornish said after running fifth this past Saturday at Phoenix.

"The level of racing here, the amount of talent and the way that these races are run is extremely appealing to me, because I feel like it commands me to work harder to be a better driver and a better person. We'll have to see how everything plays out."

A championship certainly would help raise his visibility. And more than simply considering a title as validation of his NASCAR career, Hornish wants to seize the opportunity in front of him.

"I feel like I want to win the championship, because at this point in time, I don't know what the opportunities for me to win another one will be," Hornish said. "So you've got to go out there and work hard to try to get the best finishes and the best opportunity, but I don't feel like it completely validates it.

"I feel like this last year has shown something that I've known for a while, and it's just me being able to back it up with the results. We don't have as many wins as we'd like to at this point (one this season, at Las Vegas), but I feel like being able to go out there and race against top level Sprint Cup guys and to race the way that we did throughout the season … I feel pretty good about that.

"So I've got my head held high on that one, and we're going to continue to work hard to try to figure out how to continue to be in this sport as long as I can."

Going into the season finale at the fast 1.5 mile Homestead-Miami Speedway marks another career achievement for Jamie Dick.  This weekend’s Ford Ecoboost 300 Nationwide Series event will mark Jamie Dick’s first attempt at the high-banked Homestead-Miami Speedway in his Viva Auto Group Chevrolet.

“I’m really excited to finally race at Homestead it looks like it’s a fun track with the progressive banking and high speeds. We had a good finish last weekend and hope we can improve on that this weekend and end the season on a high note to build momentum for Daytona.”

Viva Motorsports with Frank Cicci crew chief Jason Miller will be brining chassis VM-006 this weekend, which last raced a few weeks ago at Texas Motor Speedway with David Starr piloting the car to a 21st place finish.

This weekend’s event will be a special one for the Viva Motorsports with Frank Cicci team and sponsor Viva Auto Group.  Chad Gallion and Michael Vanek of Denver, Colorado were named the winners of the Viva Auto Group honorary pit crew members promotion and will be enjoying the race weekend with the team.

Viva Motorsports with Frank Cicci would like to thank all their supporters for the 2013 season: Viva Auto Group, Viva Powersports, Ingersoll Rand, Wix Filters, Pro Fabrication, Goodridge Fluid Transfer Systems, El Genio Lucas, and La Bronca.

NASCAR Nationwide Series practice is schedule for Friday Nov 14th at 10:00am ET on FS1, 3:00pm ET on ESPN2 with Coors Light Qualifying Saturday Nov 15th at 1:00pm ET on FS2, and the Ford Ecoboost 300 at 4:30pm ET on ESPN2

Viva Motorsports PR

Only one thing stands between Jimmie Johnson and his sixth NASCAR Sprint Cup Series title, but it’s a big one – 267 laps at Homestead-Miami Speedway. And while that may not seem like a lot to some, considering there already have been 124,751 laps run this season, one only needs to look at what happened last year to Johnson and the No. 48 Lowe’s crew to know that fortunes can turn in just one lap.

Johnson enters the season’s final race as the points leader, 28 up on second-place Matt Kenseth. Kevin Harvick is also in contention, 34 out. While it is an enviable position to be in for Johnson, the five-time champ has had his share of hard luck at the 1.5-mile track south of Miami. It is one of five tracks on which he has never won. Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Ill., Kentucky Speedway in Sparta, and Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International being the others.

Championships certainly have been lost at Homestead. In 2004, things seemed to roll Kurt Busch’s way when he lost a tire but managed to salvage his day, beating Johnson by eight points for the title. Last year provided more proof that destiny may be determined in a lap when a loose lugnut sent Johnson down pit road after he seemingly had the race in hand. He eventually retired from the event due to a rear-end issue, not only losing the championship but slipping all the way to third in points.

But all of that is ancient history and with one race left to go this time by, Johnson hopes to add to NASCAR history with the prospects of another title. But, first, there’s the business of those pesky 267 laps.


On Friday, Danica Patrick will attend her 46th and final NASCAR Sprint Cup Series rookie meeting. And for the 46thand final time, the No. 10 GoDaddy Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) will sport yellow stripes on the rear bumper.

Come Monday, Nov. 18, Danica Patrick will no longer be a rookie in NASCAR’s top division.

While the 2013 season was “officially” designated as Patrick’s rookie season, she also drove 10 Sprint Cup races last year for SHR, which meant 46 rookie meetings and 46 races with a yellow rookie stripe.

Like any rookie season, it’s been a year of highs and lows for Patrick and the GoDaddy team. And the year started off on a high note that prompted several rewrites in the history books.

Short of winning the 55th Daytona 500, Patrick’s participation in February’s Speedweeks at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway was nearly flawless. 

She was the fastest during the first practice of the year Feb. 16, then backed that up by winning the pole for the Daytona 500 one day later to become the first woman ever to claim the top spot for a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race. She stayed out of trouble for the remainder of Speedweeks and ran in the top-three for much of the Daytona 500 before dropping from third to eighth on the final lap.

She set one NASCAR record with her eighth-place finish, which was the highest finishing position ever earned by a woman in the “Great American Race.”

In addition to her history-making pole run and finish in the Daytona 500, Patrick also led five laps – 90 to 91 and 127 to 129 – becoming the first female to lead NASCAR’s most prestigious race and the first woman to lead Sprint Cup Series laps under green. Janet Guthrie led five laps under caution in 1977 at Ontario (Calif.) Motor Speedway.

By leading laps in the Daytona 500, Patrick joined an elite club of only 13 drivers to have led both the Daytona 500 and the Indianapolis 500. The other drivers to accomplish this feat are A.J. Foyt, Mario Andretti, Al Unser, Bobby Unser, Bobby Allison, Jim Hurtubise, Johnny Rutherford, Tim Richmond, John Andretti, Robby Gordon, Juan Pablo Montoya and Stewart. Of those 13 drivers, only Patrick, Foyt, Andretti, Gordon, Montoya and Stewart have led at least five laps in each race.

Patrick’s eighth-place finish in the Daytona 500, coupled with her six top-10 finishes in the Indianapolis 500, make her one of only 15 drivers to have top-10 results in each race. The other drivers are Foyt, Montoya, Gordon, Rutherford, Stewart, Mario Andretti, Al Unser, Bobby Johns, Cale Yarborough, Dan Gurney, Donnie Allison, Jerry Grant, Paul Goldsmith and Tom Sneva.

Two months later at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway, Patrick shocked some NASCAR observers with an impressive 12th-place finish at the .526-mile paper-clip oval, known for being especially hard on rookies. It was made more impressive by the fact she started 43rd after an engine change before the race. She looked like a veteran on the shortest track on the circuit which, viewed from the air, looks like a paperclip as its long straightaways lead into tight, flat turns. The racing there can be described as “give-and-take,” with drivers giving some bumps and taking some bumps as 43 cars fight for space on its tight confines.

None of that seemed to be an issue for Patrick, whose impressive rookie performance bested those of some other name drivers in their Martinsville debuts, most notably her team owner Tony Stewart, who finished 20th in his first Martinsville start in 1999. Five-time Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson finished 35th in his Martinsville debut in 2002. NASCAR Hall of Famer Rusty Wallace finished 15th in 1984. Dale Jarrett finished 14th in 1984. Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished 26th in 2000. Kyle Busch finished 39th in 2005. Matt Kenseth finished 21st in 2000. Kurt Busch finished 37th in 2000. And Fred Lorenzen finished 24th in 1956.

Patrick hopes to score another solid finish in Sunday’s 400-mile season-finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. And then like most of the NASCAR community – take some time off. 


The No. 55 Aaron’s Dream Machine team finishes what turned out to be an unusual but successful 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup season Sunday afternoon at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

The No. 55 posted a win, a pole, five top-fives, 10 top 10s and 123 laps led. But that only tells part of the story. The Michael Waltrip Racing team raced with four different drivers including Waltrip, Mark Martin, Brian Vickers and Elliott Sadler. It lost primary driver Mark Martin and crew chief Rodney Childers in August then lost Vickers for medical reasons in October. Waltrip said the Scott Miller-led team overcame every obstacle. The team will run a full season in 2014 with Vickers behind the wheel and Aaron’s sponsorship in every race.

MWR FOUNDER & CO-OWNER MICHAEL WALTRIP: “The Aaron’s Dream Machine came out of the gates rolling with Mark Martin earning a third place in the Daytona 500, a pole at Phoenix, two top fives in a row with me at Talladega and Daytona and then Brian Vickers getting the win at New Hampshire. We want to get Elliott a top-five this weekend in Homestead then we can say all the drivers who have raced the No. 55 have a top-five finish.

“No matter what, it has been a remarkable season for what could have been a challenging, trying time for a team. They’ve rallied around every bump in the road. In any adversity they’ve stepped up and beat that back. I’m really proud of the tenacity of the team. They have the fire, determination, focus and all those things that make you a champion. That No. 55 team is going to be champion one day because of their spirit. It’s awesome to hop into a car that is capable of winning and have a team around us that is capable of making the decisions and calls to get us to victory lane.”


Even though Kyle Busch sits in fourth place in the Chase for the Sprint Cup standings, 57 points behind five-time champion Jimmie Johnson and too far out to compete for the title, it doesn’t mean there isn’t a lot on the line for Busch Sunday at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

As the curtain falls on the 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season, the driver of the No. 18 M&M’s Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) has plenty to race for in Sunday’s season-ending Ford EcoBoost 400.

Busch’s best previous finish in the Sprint Cup standings was fifth in 2007, the year before he joined JGR. The statistics show that the 2013 Chase has been his best ever, with five top-five finishes and six top-10s in the first nine races of NASCAR’s 10-race playoffs.

For the season as a whole, Busch has 16 top-fives and 21 top-10s. Another top-five finish Sunday at Homestead would tie his career high of 17 top-fives in 2008 and best his career high of 21 top-10s, also set in 2008. 

Homestead had never been kind to Busch until last year’s season finale. He dominated the 267-lap race in 2012, leading six times for a race-high 191 laps. While he had the dominant car, the Las Vegas native had to settle for a fourth-place finish after a long, green-flag run to finish the race had the M&M’s team come up short on fuel and foiled a seemingly certain win in the closing laps.

Busch’s 2012 result was his first top-five finish at the 1.5-mile South Florida oval, bettering by far his other seven finishes of 41st, 28th, 20th, 19th, eighth, 32nd and 23rd.

While mathematically eliminated in the championship hunt, Busch still can climb as high as second in the final standings as he is currently 29 points behind second-place JGR teammate Matt Kenseth, and 23 points behind third-place Kevin Harvick. Behind Busch lurks Dale Earnhardt Jr., who is six points behind Busch in fifth, and Jeff Gordon, who sits 23 points behind Busch in the sixth spot.

So, before the curtain falls on the 2013 Sprint Cup season at Homestead, Busch will reach for a Homestead win in order to top off the strongest Chase of his career, and he and the M&M’s team hope to take the momentum from their best Chase ever and build it into Busch’s first Sprint Cup title in 2014.



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