Speedway Digest Staff
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In a relatively short race slowed by seven cautions, including some for multi-car accidents, Mike Wallace maneuvered through the trouble and brought home a 24th-place finish in the Iron Source 01 Chevrolet in the Virginia 529 College Savings 250 Friday night at Richmond International Raceway.
Wallace started 31st in the JD Motorsports with Gary Keller car and picked off positions to move into the mid-20s. He finished one spot behind teammate Landon Cassill.
“We got the car a little better after the start but weren’t able to move forward as much as I would have liked after that,” Wallace said. “It was difficult to pass, maybe more so than normal at this track. We’ll move on from here.”
Wallace stayed 17th in Nationwide driver points.
Brad Keselowski won the race by leading the final 11 laps after Nationwide Series regular Brian Scott had led the first 239 laps.
The series will race at Chicagoland Speedway Sept. 14.
JD Motorsport PR
On a cool late summer night, at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway, Kyle Busch posted his 16th top-five finish in 19 races this year, with the No. 54 Joe Gibbs Racing Monster Energy team. Busch and crew fought an ill-handling race car all day, from practice early Friday morning when they paced the field 21st quick, through qualifying that afternoon where he secured a seventh-place starting spot with a 21.857 second lap at 123.530 mph. In the main event, Busch raced as high as second-place at one point, but bounced among the top-10 most of the night, to bring home the black and green machine in seventh place.
Upon taking the green flag Busch immediately began giving his crew feedback on the car’s handling. “I’m tight in the center, have no rear lateral and it isn’t turning in the front,” described the Las Vegas native who has already chalked up nine wins this season with this No. 54 JGR team. The team spotter Tony Hirschman quickly noticed the Toyota was also showing more front brake ‘glow’ than other teams – something they would keep an eye on through the race.
Lap 14 displayed the first of seven caution periods for the event and the team elected to remain on track, foregoing a pit road visit. The car balance started to become unbearable, however, for the series champion hoping to turn his night around for a good result in the 1,000th NASCAR Nationwide Series event. By lap 69 the team took the opportunity to pit under another event yellow flag and crew chief Adam Stevens elected to take a swing at the car’s track bar setting. The crew quickly replenished Sunoco fuel and Goodyear tires, as well as made the chassis adjustment, to settle down the No. 54’s handling.
The crew examined their Goodyear tires upon completion of the pit road visit and found a great deal of brake dust on the wheels, but nothing that cautioned them.
After the subsequent race restart, on lap 73 from the sixth position, Busch relayed more positive feedback to his team, “Whatever you did on rear lateral was good, keep working it, just make sure I can still turn.” Over halfway to go in the race, and during another event caution period, Busch brought his Camry to pit road from the fifth-place spot to receive further track bar adjustments along with tires and fuel. “We are on the edge of our pit window,” claimed Stevens. He relayed, “Save fuel please where you can under caution.”
During the next portion of the race Busch exhibited fast lap times, battled for the third-place position and achieved it. After another pit road visit with air-pressure adjustments made to the tires and more fuel given, the No. 54 team worked its way to the second-place spot on lap 180, what would end up being their highest position of the night. While the move from third-place to second-place was good for the No. 54 team, Busch’s maneuver caused JGR teammate Matt Kenseth’s No. 18 car to move out of line. Busch apologized over the radio, “I’m sorry if I messed up the No. 18. I feel bad.”
While it appeared the Monster Energy team could end up salvaging a good finish, perhaps the win, their fate was ultimately sealed when two subsequent yellow-flag cautions provided green-flag restarts, that jumbled up the field, with a negative effect on the No. 54. Stuck behind slower cars, then forced to attempt progress in the outside lane, Busch worked hard to improve his position, but came up short in the end. The JGR team completed the short-track event in the fourth-place spot, their 17th top-five finish of the season. Victory evaded the team this week, but they are encouraged to try again over eight remaining weeks.
Busch didn’t have much to say post-race commenting, “We weren’t good today. Have some work to do these last few weeks.”
Brad Keselowski won the Richmond event, his 25th victory in 201 NASCAR Nationwide Series races. Brian Scott led a race-high 239 of 250 laps but finished in second place, while Regan Smith, Busch and Trevor Bayne completed the top-five finishers. There were seven caution periods for 35 laps of the race along with one lead change among two drivers.
The No. 54 Camry owned by J.D. Gibbs remains second in the Owner’s Point standings, now 18 points from the lead.
The next event on the Nationwide Series schedule is the Dollar General 300 presented by Coca Cola on Saturday, September 14th at Chicagoland (Ill.) Speedway with the race television broadcast starting at 3:30 p.m. ET on ESPN2. Busch will make his 20th start of the season behind the wheel of the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 54 Monster Energy Camry.
In response to above-averages temperatures forecast for the weekend, Iowa Speedway officials announced today that the track’s beverage policy will be modified to allow patrons to bring in one sealed plastic bottle of water containing a maximum of 20 ounces during this weekend’s events at the Newton facility.
Iowa Speedway PR
Sauter's average finish in six Truck Series starts on the .875-mile oval is fifth, second only to ThorSport Racing teammate Matt Crafton's 4.7 average. Sauter buttresses that with a 5.7 average start so it's easy to see why he's anxious for his No. 98 Carolina Nut Co. / Curb Records Toyota to be unloaded Saturday.
"Iowa's a short track, we all grew up racing on short tracks but it's a place that I've particularly thrived on," Sauter said. "Timing is everything and after we thought we had our season turned around back at Bristol, we went to Canada.
"But the great thing about my crew chief, Dennis Connor and my team is we never give up -- no matter how heartbreaking some of the racing luck we've had this season has been. That's why I'm glad we're in Iowa this weekend."
Sauter's five-race career record at Iowa was superlative when the series arrived for its July night race. Sauter had five consecutive top-five finishes at Iowa before he had a tire go down and send him into the wall midway through the most recent race. The fact that Sauter came back to finish 11th with a wounded Tundra has his spirits up.
"Since Dennis has come on board we've had great trucks," Sauter said. "That's got me fired-up about this weekend."
Sauter's still in a position to make a step toward getting back into the top-five in the standings. He's currently 10th, 39 points out of fifth and 107 behind series-leader Crafton.
There will be a single Truck Series practice on Saturday, from 11 a.m. - 1:20 p.m. CT. A public autograph session featuring Truck Series drivers is scheduled in the infield fan zone from 4:15-5 p.m. Coors Light Pole Qualifying to set the starting lineup is scheduled for 6:05 p.m.
The 200-lap, 175-mile Fan Appreciation 200 presented by New Holland will be telecast live on FOX Sports 1 at 1 p.m. CT, preceded at 12:30 p.m. by The Setup pre-race show. MRN Radio's live broadcast begins at 1. Live timing & scoring is available at www.nascar.com.
Last weekend's Chevrolet Silverado 250, the Truck Series' first road race in 13 years and the inaugural event at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park in Bowmanville, Ontario, was a tough pill for Sauter and his team to swallow.
A baffling issue that primarily affected the fuel system last Sunday ended Sauter's race before it really got started, ultimately resulting in Sauter's second DNF of the season.
After several long pit stops -- the first of which came shortly after the 10-lap mark, though the problem was apparent when Sauter made his first pit stop, timed perfectly as the race's first caution flew at lap six -- Sauter was scored 28th in the final rundown.
"Unbelieveable -- I don't know what else can happen to us this season," Sauter said. "I hate if we ruined anyone's day by bringing out that last caution but there was nothing we could do. We were just trying to make something out of a strange day."
Sauter's truck's indecipherable condition, which the team was unable to diagnose in the first day back at the shop, before they had to set it aside to concentrate on the Iowa truck, caused it to stop on the racetrack several times, before quickly refiring.
Once, it caused a local yellow on the backstretch when the truck momentarily stopped, then refired and continued. And that's what happened in the closing laps, which was enough to bring out a caution and set up a mayhem-filled last lap that enabled Sauter's ThorSport Racing teammate Crafton to grab a 10th-place finish.
After the race, it had Connor beside himself.
"We worked so hard on it all day long to try to identify the problem so it never catches us again, but unfortunately we were unable to do so."
Sauter had improved his performance on high speed and technical road course over two days of practice, but that didn't make he or Connor feel any better.
"The frustrating thing is, we practiced for two days and ran two complete cells of fuel out of the truck and had no problem whatsoever," Connor said. "And then the race starts (Sunday) and we don't even run six laps and we're having conditions like we're out of fuel. We weren't out of fuel but we weren't picking up any fuel so it's frustrating."
It was the latest case of what could have been for Sauter and his team.
"I think we had a pretty good truck and we would have had a good finish if we hadn't had that problem," Connor said. "But I can't say it's anything that anybody did wrong -- it's just one of those things that gets you, and we'll have to find out exactly what it was and come back stronger next week."
Matt Crafton's riding a wave in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series that includes a top-10 finish earlier this season under the lights at Iowa Speedway. So Crafton sees no reason the positive roll won't continue Sunday afternoon with his No. 88 Jeld-Wen / Menards Toyota in the Fan Appreciation 200 presented by New Holland.
"My guys have been so solid that I'm really psyched to get to the racetrack every week," Crafton said. "Our night race earlier this summer wasn't quite what we wanted -- but it was a top-10 and that's what's put us in the position we're in.
"I'll guarantee you this -- Junior (crew chief Carl Joiner) and my team will have things in-line when we unload and we'll take it from there."
A couple races ago, Crafton's lead in the Truck Series championship was more than 50 points. Defending series champion James Buescher has gone on a roll of his own that's closed him to within 47 points of Crafton with eight races to go. But the point leader's undaunted.
"We're racing more than just James -- but it's in our control what we do with it," Crafton said. "We got ourselves in the position we're in now racing smart, with solid Menards Tundras and I don't see anything changing there. But it's up to us to keep doing the right things."
Iowa makes that easier for Crafton because it's arguably his best track on the series. Crafton has a career string of six consecutive top-10 finishes on the .875-mile showplace, including his second career Truck Series victory, in 2011.
Crafton has the series' best average finish at Iowa, 4.7, among series regulars to go with a 9.8 average start.
"Drivers like tracks you have to drive and that's what makes Iowa so enjoyable," Crafton said. "You have options if your truck isn't working and it's up to you and your crew chief to find them. We've managed to do a good job with that so far."
Crafton's career streak at Iowa is matched by what he's done this season, in which he's the only Truck Series competitor to score a top-10 finish in all 14 races run to date. And Crafton will extend his series-leading string of consecutive starts to 309 when he takes the green flag Sunday afternoon.
Although the summer is winding down, Daytona International Speedway’s historic DAYTONA Rising project is running at full speed.
Here is a recap of key construction activities since the last update in August:
- Initial installation of piling and caps (approximately 2,400 piles and 520 caps are scheduled to be installed during the next several months)
- All four of the previously dismantled entrance portals/ticket gate structures have been reinstalled in preparation for upcoming events
- Continued overhaul of underground utilities, including storm and sanitary piping as well as electrical duct bank structures
- Installation of wellpoint dewatering system to enable construction of piling caps below the water table
- Installation of the Lift Station sump has been completed
- Rough grading for areas near the Sprint Tower as well as east and west sides
Upcoming construction activities:
- Installation of piling caps
- Commissioning and verification of services (power, water, sanitary sewer, storm drainage, telecom and data)
- Mobilization of Barton Malow concrete for installation of piling and piling caps
DAYTONA Rising is a $400 million reimagining of an American icon – Daytona International Speedway. Five expanded and redesigned entrances, or “injectors,” will lead fans to a series of escalators and elevators, transporting them to three different concourse levels. Each level features spacious social areas, or “neighborhoods,” along the nearly mile-long frontstretch. At the conclusion of the redevelopment, Daytona International Speedway will have approximately 101,000 permanent, wider and more comfortable seats, twice as many restrooms and three times as many concession stands. In addition, the Speedway will feature over 60 luxury suites with track side views and a completely revamped hospitality experience for corporate guests. The project is expected to be completed in time for the 2016 Rolex 24 At Daytona and DAYTONA 500.
Barton Malow is serving as the general contractor for the project. In addition to DAYTONA Rising, Barton Malow has renovated the University of Michigan “Big House” and the Rose Bowl.
ROSSETTI, an award-winning architectural design and planning firm for the past 40 years, which headed the design for Ford Field NFL Stadium, University of Notre Dame Compton Family Ice Arena and five Major League Soccer Stadiums, is leading the master planning of the DAYTONA Rising site.
By giving an hour of their time and rolling up their sleeves, race fans can help others and pick up a little racing excitement for themselves through an American Red Cross blood drive at Martinsville Speedway on Monday, September 16.
The American Red Cross will be set up in the infield of Martinsville Speedway from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. on September 16 to collect much-needed blood.
Anyone registering to donate a pint of blood will receive a certificate for a free ticket to the Martinsville Speedway Pole Day on October 25. The Goody’s™ Headache Relief Shot™ 500 Powered by Kroger NASCAR Sprint Cup race is scheduled for October 27, the day after the Kroger 200 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race.
“Race fans are the best when it comes to giving back to their communities,” said Martinsville Speedway President Clay Campbell. “This is a great chance to help others. It’s one of those things we love to be involved with. I know many of our employees will be rolling up their sleeves and we expect many other folks to help out, too.”
To make an appointment, call 800.RED.CROSS or visit redcrossblood.org online. While appointments are suggested, non-scheduled donors will be accepted on the day of the drive.
Martinsville Speedway PR