Speedway Digest Staff
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As the 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season begins to wind down, things are heating up. Richmond, Virginia, served as the final opportunity for drivers on the ‘bubble’ to make their way into the Chase. Casey Mears and the #13 GEICO team were focused on their journey, as well, and aimed towards a different goal as their program continues to move towards the next level.
When practice got underway on Friday, Mears would end up 34th and 29th in the respective sessions. He would later find himself sandwiched on the starting grid between Ryan Newman and Carl Edwards after qualifying 25th. His lap saw him make quick work of the ¾-mile racing facility and circle it in just 21.036 seconds, at a rate of speed of 128.351 miles per hour.
The Fall Richmond race is usually accompanied by either rain or extreme heat, but Saturday night found favor with the racing gods and temperatures sat comfortably in the 70’s. A packed house was on-hand as the Saturday night lights saw the green flag turn an anxious NASCAR Sprint Cup Series field loose for 400-laps of racing. Mears and his #13 GEICO Ford Fusion started 25th, but found themselves at odds with each other as the laps began to click off. Handling had the Bakersfield, CA, native frustrated and he dropped as low as 35th, but quickly worked his way back up to 23rd before making a scheduled green flag pit stop on lap 95. After the Germain Racing pit crew outfitted Mears with four fresh tires, fuel and much needed adjustments, the GEICO Ford returned to the race and began making progress. On lap 115, Mears alerted crew chief, Bootie Barker: “You helped everything on that last stop. It’s a lot better.”
When debris sent the caution flag waving on lap 135, Barker took the opportunity to update Mears on his status, as well as the team’s strategy for making up lost ground. “The car’s a lot better, Casey, and you’re a lot faster now. We’ll pit now and take the wavearound later when we have fresher tires.” The race soon went back to green and Mears and his #13 GEICO Ford continued making progress and the driver’s excitement was evident through his radio communication. On lap 207, Mears let his team know that things were coming together. “Whatever you guys did on that first stop really brought this thing to life. We’re in the hunt; we’re racing these guys.”
Unfortunately, as the race began to wind down, Mears’ labor of love turned into plain labor when his car betrayed him and returned to its old ways. On lap 305, he reported, “It feels like it did on the first run, but not quite as bad.” He was running in 26th place and managed to continue to drive hard and maintain his position. By lap 325, however, it was presenting a more significant challenge and Mears became concerned. “This thing is terrible. Something’s wrong; a bad set of tires or something.”
Undaunted, Mears and his #13 GEICO Ford Fusion battled hard over the last 75 laps and managed to not lose any positions. When the checkered flag halted the Federated Auto Parts 400, Mears recorded a 26th place finish, salvaging an otherwise tough night.
“It was a challenging night, but we kept working on the car and our pit stop made it a lot better,” Mears said. “The #13 GEICO Ford turned around after that stop and we were able to make up a lot of ground. We were in good shape until the end there. Not quite sure what happened, but I’m glad we were able to at least get a decent finish. We’re looking forward to getting to Chicago next week for the GEICO 400. That race is special to us for the obvious reasons. I love how GEICO supports our sport and I’m looking forward to doing some appearances to help promote their signature race.”
Mears and the Germain Racing team next head to Chicago, IL, for the GEICO 400, a race long ago marked on their calendar.
Casey Mears and the #13 GEICO Ford Fusion will hit the track at Chicagoland Speedway for the weekend’s opening practice session on Friday, September 13th, at 1:00 PM (EDT). Qualifying will follow at 5:10 PM (EDT).
5-hour ENERGY®, Living Beyond Breast Cancer team up for Sept. 28 NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Dover
Dover International Speedway and the makers of 5-hour ENERGY® have announced a renewed relationship, this time benefiting a great cause, as 5-hour ENERGY® will serve as the title sponsor for the Saturday, Sept. 28 “5-hour ENERGY® 200 benefiting Living Beyond Breast Cancer” NASCAR Nationwide Series race.
In addition, Living Beyond Breast Cancer and 5-hour ENERGY® will be hosting a “Yoga on the Track” event with NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Clint Bowyer on Saturday, Sept. 28 from 8:30 to 9 a.m. on the grass inside Turn 1 of the track. Ticket holders for the day’s race are invited to the free, half hour of yoga instruction designed to raise awareness for Living Beyond Breast Cancer.
Another fan-favorite event, the “5-hour ENERGY® Open Track Session,” will return for the fall race weekend the morning of Saturday, Sept. 28 from 8:30 to 9:30 a.m. Open free to all ticketholders for the day’s race, the event will feature question-and-answer sessions with Bowyer and Kevin Harvick.
The race entitlement is a big portion of the introduction of a new, limited-edition, specially marked raspberry flavor of 5-hour ENERGY®. The new flavor has been released as part of 5-hour ENERGY®’s continuing effort to support breast cancer causes, most notably with Living Beyond Breast Cancer, a national non-profit education and support organization serving women and families affected by breast cancer.
From now through Dec. 31, 2013, 5-hour ENERGY® will donate five cents from the sale of every specially marked bottle of the new raspberry flavor to Living Beyond Breast Cancer. The minimum guaranteed donation is $75,000.
“Our company has a strong history of supporting causes that fight breast cancer,” said Melissa Skabich, communications director for 5-hour ENERGY®. “This year we chose LBCC because we’re so impressed with the great work they’re doing to empower women affected by breast cancer, and we are working hard to help support the organization both financially and by raising awareness for the cause.”
“We’re excited to join with 5-hour ENERGY® in supporting all of the great work that Living Beyond Breast Cancer does for so many women and families,” said Michael Tatoian, executive vice president and COO of Dover Motorsports, Inc. “This race weekend, we’ll be ‘painting the property pink’ to show our support for such a noble cause.”
Dover Motorsports PR
Richard Childress Racing has signed Ryan Newman to drive the No. 31 Caterpillar Chevrolet SS in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series starting in 2014. Newman, 35, is a 17-time NSCS race winner with 50 pole awards to his credit; and is the 2008 Daytona 500 and 2013 Brickyard 400 champion.
"This is a great opportunity for our team," said Richard Childress, president and CEO of RCR. "I am very proud to have Ryan in our No. 31 Caterpillar Chevrolet starting next year. We have high expectations for this No. 31 team. Ryan has proven himself to be a great driver and I'm looking forward to winning races with him.
"Luke Lambert will be his crew chief and the team is staying together next year. That team is building momentum to not only finish out this year strong, but to get even better in 2014."
"Ryan will be a great fit with CAT and RCR in many ways. He's an outdoorsman, a conservationist and is very familiar with CAT equipment as an owner of some of their products."
A native of South Bend, Ind., Newman earned an engineering degree from Purdue University in 2001.
"I'm very pleased Richard and I were able to put this deal together for me to drive RCR's No. 31 Caterpillar Chevrolet," Newman said. "About five years ago, Richard and I talked about me joining RCR before I signed with my current team, but things just didn't work out. However, we were able to make it happen this time and I'm looking forward to the next chapter of my career. RCR has a long history of winning races and championships, and I want to add to that tradition.
"I am very excited to work with Caterpillar. They are a world-class company and I look forward to learning more about them. Since I'm already a customer of theirs, I can honestly say they make incredible equipment.
"One important thing I sincerely want everyone to know is how much I respect and admire Jeff Burton as a person and driver. He handled his recent announcement and situation with respect, class and dignity.
"We're going to finish this season strong with the No. 39 team and give it our all to win races. Then, I'll concentrate on working with Luke Lambert and the other members of RCR as we get ready for 2014."
Announcements on sponsors in addition to Caterpillar will be made at a later date.
"We are excited to have Ryan Newman driving the No. 31 Caterpillar Chevrolet SS in 2014," said Greg Towles, NASCAR Program Director for Caterpillar. "Ryan's racing accomplishments are well known and, when coupled with his knowledge of machinery and passion for the outdoors, he aligns well with Caterpillar customers, dealers and employees."
NASCAR announced today the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East event scheduled for Rockingham (N.C.) Speedway on Saturday, Nov. 2 has been cancelled.
The race at Road Atlanta in Braselton, Ga., on Friday, Oct. 18 now will be the season ending points race. The event is part of the 16th annual Petite Le Mans weekend for American LeMans Series.
“It is unfortunate any time a race must be cancelled,” said George Silbermann, NASCAR vice president, regional and touring. “However, the race track failed to meet its obligations and we were forced to terminate the sanction agreement. We look forward to a great race weekend at Road Atlanta to culminate the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East season and crown the 2013 champion.”
Miguel Paludo entered the weekend at Iowa Speedway with momentum on his side and the "perfect" truck before a stuck throttle resulted in a mid-practice wreck, forcing the No. 32 AccuDoc Solutions team to utilize a backup for the Fan Appreciation 200. Paludo and crew persevered in a truck that did not make a lap of practice, fighting back from a lap down to finish 14th.
Running fifth in the weekend's first and only practice session, Paludo had completed 15 laps when he experienced a stuck throttle, sending him into the wall and destroying the team's primary truck. The No. 32 team worked quickly to prepare their backup chassis, but were unable to return the track before the completion of the session. Making his first laps of the weekend in his backup truck in qualifying, Paludo put the AccuDoc Solutions Silverado on the starting grid in the 20th position.
When the green flag waved, Paludo immediately relayed to crew chief Jeff Hensley that his truck was too tight, especially back to the gas, but it wasn't until the first caution flag of the day waved on lap 38 that the team would have an opportunity to make adjustments. Pulling onto pit road in the 19th position, the Turner Scott Motorsports crew provided their driver with four tires, fuel and a major track-bar adjustment.
Lining up 17th for the lap 45 restart, the AccuDoc Chevrolet was now a little free on entry, but remained tight in the middle and back to the throttle. Over the course of an extended green-flag run, Paludo battled against his truck's handling and maintained his position, but was now one lap down. When green-flag pit stops began on lap 122, Paludo advanced into the sixth position before peeling his own truck onto pit road. Hensley called for four tires, fuel and a wedge adjustment, and the crew sent Paludo back onto the track after a quick stop.
Paludo was scored 18th when the caution flag waved for debris on lap 136, and the Brazilian reported to his team that his truck was still snug off but better on entry. Paludo was 17th when green-flag racing resumed once again on lap 141, and by lap 167, the No. 32 was laying down times only 0.10 seconds off the leader. As Paludo continued to battle with the truck that his team had worked hard to improve all day, the No. 32 was faced with another setback when a competitor made contact with him in the closing laps, causing him to spin. However, he was able to quickly right himself and the caution flag was not displayed, forcing him to drop to the 20th spot and fight a bad vibration as a result of the contact. Despite the obstacle, Paludo did not give up and he was still able to run competitively and pick up positions with his wounded machine.
A caution with only three laps remaining put the Fan Appreciation 200 into overtime and set up the field for its first attempt at a green/white/checkered restart. Paludo took the green in 16th and in position for the free pass, and a quick yellow one lap later meant that Paludo would return to the lead lap. Despite starting at the tail end of the field, Paludo was able to gain two more positions in the final two laps, taking the checkered flag in 14th.
"I'm obviously very disappointed with this weekend," said Paludo after the race. "I give Jeff [Hensley] and everyone on my team a lot of credit, because they built me a fantastic truck for this weekend and we didn't get to race it. We could have competed for the pole and for the win in our primary truck. Unfortunately, when the throttle stuck in practice, there was nothing I could do to save it and we took a hard hit. Still, the entire Turner Scott Motorsports team worked together to prepare the best truck we could in the time before qualifying and impound, and they worked hard throughout the race to improve it without any practice to assess it. This isn't the kind of weekend we wanted, but we fought hard and I'm proud of my guys and to say that we finished on the lead lap. I'll be glad to leave Iowa behind me and I'm looking forward to Chicagoland next weekend."
Paludo's 14th-place finish means that he is now sixth in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) Driver Point Standings, just one point behind fifth. The NCWTS next heads to the Windy City to Chicagoland Speedway on Friday, September 13. The EnjoyIllinois.com 225 will air on FOX Sports 1 at 8:30 p.m. EDT.
RAB Racing with Brack Maggard, driver Kenny Wallace, ToyotaCare and American Ethanol are proud to announce a milestone in NASCAR racing, as Wallace will be making his 900th NASCAR start at Chicagoland Speedway on Saturday, September 14thin the Dollar General 300. Joining the "900 Club", Wallace will be amongst an elite group of drivers including Richard Petty, Ricky Rudd, Terry Labonte, Mark Martin, Darrell Waltrip, Bobby Labonte, Jeff Burton, Dale Earnhardt, and Dale Jarrett.
Wallace will be behind the wheel of the RAB Racing No. 29 ToyotaCare, American Ethanol Toyota Camry, in a special paint scheme to commemorate the NASCAR milestone. Keith Hinkein will serve as crew chief for the No. 29, making his fourth start with Wallace and RAB Racing. Hinkein spent last season as a crew chief in the ARCA Racing Series securing one win with Kevin Swindell and has prior experience in the Hooter's Pro Cup Series winning 10 races with drivers Trevor Bayne and Joey Logano. Wallace currently sits at 898 NASCAR starts, but will also compete in the Camping World Truck Series race at Chicagoland Speedway in the No. 81 SS Green Light American Ethanol Toyota Tundra on Friday night, September 13th, thanks to Illinois farmers and the Illinois Corn Marketing Board.
To put into perspective 900 NASCAR starts over his 24-year career, Wallace has traveled over 276,000 miles across the Sprint Cup, Nationwide, and Camping World Truck Series, garnering nine wins, 75 top five finishes, 204 top 10 finishes, and an astonishing 198,164 completed laps. Wallace has also been named the Nationwide Series Most Popular Driver three times in his career.
Wallace has made 55 starts with Robby Benton, founder and co-owner of RAB Racing with Brack Maggard. "We are proud to be going to Chicagoland Speedway with Kenny Wallace for his historic 900th NASCAR start," said Benton. "We were together when he broke the record for starts in the Nationwide Series in 2011, so to be able to share another milestone with him means a lot to us. Kenny has been an integral part of RAB Racing as we've grown and I owe him a debt of gratitude for what his popularity and experience has done for us. I hope we can make this year's race at Chicago as memorable as last year's event was for us all."
"Wow, 900 NASCAR starts means a lot to me," said Kenny Wallace. "It means I've been able to stay in the game a long time, it means I mattered to the sport, and it means that people cared enough to keep me in the sport. I've dreamed about racing since I was a kid and to be able to achieve 900 starts is a dream come true and I'm thankful to have so many great people and corporate partners apart of my life along the way. Toyota and American Ethanol have given something that no one can buy; they care about me getting to my goal of 900 starts."
"Besides the thrill of racing they've given me life experiences which I'm equally thankful for. For Toyota this year I've gone to the New York Auto show, went to Columbia, SC to give away a Toyota Sequoia to the winner of the Betty Jane Humanitarian Award which was so emotional, and even gave pace car rides at the Toyota Long Beach Grand Prix. Then, with American Ethanol, they've given me the chance to meet all the American farmers who've grown the corn to supply our race cars, and go around the country and educate people on the benefits of American Ethanol. I've been on farms, I've learned to drive a combine, I've driven tractors, I've gone into ethanol plants, I've made friends with all these farmers across the country and all those things I would have never been able to experience without the help of American Ethanol. For that I thank everyone at Toyota and American Ethanol for giving me this terrific ride outside of the race track, I could have never dreamed about having."
"Toyota is excited to partner with Kenny to help celebrate his 900th NASCAR start - an extraordinary milestone. I'm sure his legions of fans are very proud of his accomplishments and we look forward to watching him race his #29 ToyotaCare Camry at Chicagoland", said Les Unger, Toyota's National Motorsports Manager.
"It has taken boundless energy and drive to reach this remarkable milestone of 900 races," said Jon Holzfaster, a Nebraska farmer and American Ethanol spokesman. "Kenny has devoted the same tireless approach to building the American Ethanol brand and showcasing the important contributions family farmers and the ethanol industry make to our country. He has our admiration for what he has accomplished in the sport and our appreciation for all he has done for American Ethanol."
The Dollar General 300 at Chicagoland Speedway will be televised live September 14th on ESPN2 at 3:30pm. The EnjoyIllinois.com 225 at Chicagoland Speedway will be televised live September 13th on Fox Sports 1 at 8:30pm.
RAB Racing PR
Timothy Peters came to Iowa Speedway as the only two-time winner at the track and had high hopes of making it his third win. He qualified the No. 17 Parts Plus Toyota Tundra sixth and as soon as the green flag dropped started moving forward. Peters was able to collect a bonus point on lap 122 as he lead a lap before hitting pit road for green-flag pit stops. The No. 17 Toyota Tundra was scored in the third position as the caution was displayed for only the second time of the race on Lap 136 for debris.
With the leader to pit road, Peters assumed the second place position for the restart. Peters took over the lead on Lap 141 and would lead for 21 laps before the third caution was waved with 31 laps remaining. As the field took the green flag, Peters made contact with another competitor shuffling him to the third place. Peters really showed his mettle as an experienced driver by staying in the race with a wounded vehicle and was looking to capture a solid third or fourth place finish. But then there was contact with another truck that took Peters out of contention with four laps to go. The race ended on a green-white-checkered finish with the Parts Plus Tundra finishing 12th.
Timothy Peters talks about his race Iowa Speedway:
"The Parts Plus Tundra was good all day. I kind of question that debris caution and then someone ran over us. We'll go to Chicago. I appreciate everybody at Red Horse Racing for what they do -- Toyota, Parts Plus, OtterBox, Net 10, Zaxby's. Just a disappointing day to what could have been great."
John WesTownley returned to Iowa Speedway after having had his best showing in three starts at the 0.875 mile tri-oval in the series last visit to the track. In his last outing in the No. 7 Zaxby's Toyota Tundra, Townley qualified 14th and finished 12th. The team came to the track with notebooks full of information eager to top that finish.
The team qualified 15th and Townley spent most of the race in the middle of the pack driving a smart, conservative race as he battled a loose-handling race truck. Townley capitalized on his opportunity and beat his previous high finish crossing the line in 11th.
John Wes Townley talks about his 11th-place finish at Iowa Speedway:
"Yeah, it was a good recovery. We fought loose in all day, but we got it fixed at the end. We ended up with a pretty good finish. All the guys fought all day and that's all you can ask for. All in all, you've got to look at the whole week and it's a pretty good day for Zaxby's, it's a good day for Red Horse Racing and that's all you can ask for."
In Newton, Iowa in July, Germán Quiroga and the No. 77 OtterBox Toyota Tundra captured the pole position and in doing so, set a new track record. This gives a driver confidence in his ability to negotiate his way around the track and Quiroga was ready to prove his mettle. Not qualifying where anticipated, in the 18th position, he quickly began to demonstrate his maturity as a driver by carefully picking his opportunities during the course of the race. By lap 65 he was running inside the top-10 and by lap 116 he was in 7th. The team calmly made their way through two green-white-checker finishes to take sixth place.
Germán Quiroga talks about his sixth-place finish Iowa Speedway:
"I'm happy. To be honest, I thought we were going to be out of the top-10. For a long time, we were out of the top-10, but my team never gave up. We changed engines yesterday and we kept on trying to make the truck better -- I don't know what happened to be honest -- but we didn't give up and it's good. We're going out with a sixth place. That's good for the points and I'm happy."
Jeb Burton and the No. 4 Arrowhead team are back on track after an eighth-place finish at Iowa Speedway. The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) returned to the Midwest state for its second and final visit this season, which allowed Burton to race for redemption after a rookie mistake cost him a top-10 finish in his track debut three months ago. Throughout the two-day event, Burton and the No. 4 team had a solid truck, ranking fourth fastest in the weekend's only practice session and qualifying eighth for Sunday's Fan Appreciation 200 presented by New Holland. Despite a spin with just 10 laps remaining, the No. 4 Chevy managed to collect only minimal damage and continued to race within the top 10 for the remainder of the race. In what was another wild NCWTS finish, Burton's No. 4 Arrowhead truck finished in eighth place after two green/white/checkered flag attempts. Burton remains fourth in the NCWTS Driver Point Standings, trailing 66 points behind the current leader.
No longer a rookie at the 0.875-mile track, Burton and his Turner Scott Motorsports (TSM) team came prepared with a game plan following their disappointing finish earlier this year. During the weekend's only practice session, Burton provided consistent feedback to his No. 4 team during his 54-lap run and was able to place the Arrowhead Chevy in fourth place on the speed chart. Burton then hit the track to qualify his TSM truck and landed the No. 4 in eighth place on the starting grid for the Fan Appreciation 200. Shortly after the green flag dropped, it was evident that Burton's truck was a force to be reckoned with. As the first caution came out on lap 38, crew chief Mike Hillman Jr. told Jeb to remain on the track despite a slight issue with the truck's handling.
Bouncing in between the top five and the top 10, Burton reported that the handling in his truck was getting worse and it was becoming more difficult to turn. At the halfway mark of the Fan Appreciation 200, the No. 4 truck had dropped just outside of the top 10. Hillman encouraged Burton to continue what he was doing, and within 20 to 25 laps, the TSM crew would fix him up. By lap 112, the Arrowhead Chevy was running the same lap times as the leader and making its way back into the top 10 with a vengeance. Following Hillman's strategy, the No. 4 crew performed a green-flag pit stop on lap 125, providing the truck with four Goodyear tires, Sunono fuel and a slight air-pressure adjustment. Just after visiting pit road, the second caution arose, giving Burton the perfect opportunity to remain on the track and take the wave around, moving him three track positions up to eighth place.
With less than 50 laps remaining, the track went yellow for the third time and Burton came down pit road to receive four new tires, making him one of the only drivers to have fresh rubber. The No. 4 truck continued climbing within the top ten until another competitor got into the back of Burton, causing him to spin and send out the fourth caution of the day. Fortunately, the Arrowhead Chevy suffered minimal damage and was able to quickly return to the lineup after a brief inspection by the TSM crew. After two attempts at a green/white/checkered finish, Burton and the No. 4 Arrowhead truck crossed the finish line in eighth place.
"We missed it a little today," said Burton. "We had the fastest truck on the track and I couldn't be happier with my No. 4 Arrowhead team. I wish we could've cracked the top five, but hey, I'll take an eighth place finish any day. It was definitely the comeback we needed and we'll keep fighting."
Carrying that momentum to the Windy City, Burton will make his track debut at Chicagoland Speedway on Friday, September 13 in the EnjoyIllinois.com 225. Watch live as the NCWTS races under the lights on FOX Sports 1 at 8:00 p.m. CT.