Monday, Jun 05
Speedway Digest Staff

Speedway Digest Staff

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Jimmie Johnson’s big Daytona 500 victory means big dividends for anyone who wants to purchase tickets for the STP® Gas Booster™ 500 at Martinsville Speedway on April 7.

Johnson’s car number – 48 – is the price for the Jimmie Johnson $48 Package for the STP®Gas Booster™ 500. The package includes one (1) ticket for the Bill France Tower and one (1) Pre-Race Track Pass.

Johnson is tied with his Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jeff Gordon for the most Martinsville Speedway wins among active drivers with seven. His most recent win here came last fall.

The Bill France Tower overlooks the third and fourth turns at Martinsville Speedway and offers an awesome view of the cars roaring down the backstretch and into the third turn and speeding off of the fourth turn toward the start-finish line.

The pre-race track pass allows fans to walk along the front stretch of the historic half-mile track from 9:15 a.m. to 11:45 a.m. on race morning. Fans are close enough to the pits that they can get a good look at what happens there on race morning.

Action kicks off at Martinsville Speedway on Friday, April 5 with practice and qualifying for both the Kroger 250 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race and the STP® Gas Booster™ 500.

The Kroger 250 is scheduled for Saturday, April 6, along with final practices for the STP® Gas Booster™ 500.

Martinsville Speedway PR

Four hours after he'd left Daytona International Speedway's hallowed Victory Lane Friday night, NextEra Energy Resources 250 winner Johnny Sauter was still having a hard time accepting what he'd accomplished.


"I won at Daytona," Sauter muttered as he stood outside his ThorSport Racing hauler, while his No. 98 Carolina Nut Co. / Curb Records Toyota was being taken apart by NASCAR Camping World Truck Series officials in post-race technical inspection. "I just can't believe it -- still can't believe it."


Twelve hours later Sauter had absorbed some pretty solid proof that he had equaled a feat set by his dad, Wisconsin short-track racing legend Jim Sauter, in 1978. Jim Sauter won the Daytona ARCA 200 the same year Johnny was born, the 10th of 12 siblings. Thirty-five years later, Johnny Sauter was eating up the aftermath of his seventh career Truck Series victory -- though by late Saturday morning he'd yet to speak to his dad.


"I'm just ecstatic to be in Victory Lane -- happy to have a Sauter back in Victory Lane at Daytona," Johnny said Friday night. "This is cool for me personally."


Sauter's nirvana was the result of a caution flag that came out not quite a half-lap after he'd taken the white flag to begin lap 100. Sauter, who led the final 16 laps of the race after being pushed to the front by teammate Todd Bodine's No. 13 Mattei Air Compressors Toyota, was in the process of trying to figure out how to hold off Kyle Busch for the win. The yellow flag made it a moot point.


Proving just how cool it was for a bunch of other people, as well, sometime overnight Friday, Sauter's phone locked-down -- its voice mail prompt alerting callers that "this mailbox is full..." Sauter -- a passionate racer who might be one of the most misunderstood souls in the Truck Series', or any NASCAR garage -- retrieved his phone shortly after leaving the Daytona media center and when he turned it on, found way more than 100 text messages from fans, friends and competitors.


That certainly helped the realization of what he'd accomplished -- which included Toyota's 100th career victory at the beginning of its 10th season of NCWTS competition and the manufacturer's seventh consecutive win at Daytona -- sink in.


"It took me three hours to reply to all of those (text) messages," Sauter said Saturday morning as he sought a laundromat to clean up some Carolina Nut Co. gear and a pair of jeans for his trip home. "But it was really neat, and really nice that so many people took the time to reach out and offer congratulations."


After pausing to take a call from listed team owner Mike Curb, Sauter reflected on the difference a year could make in his team's NCWTS title hopes. In 2012, Sauter was leading the Truck race while coming to the first of four white flags that were necessitated by accidents, when he was turned from behind and swallowed up in a wreck that demolished more than 10 trucks. His season never recovered.


Ironically, Friday night with Busch ending up second and with ThorSport teammates Matt Crafton finishing ninth in his Slim Jim / Menards Toyota and Bodine 11th -- Busch has been beaten by a ThorSport driver three of the last six years at Daytona, as Bodine beat Busch to win the races in 2008-2009, though Bodine was driving for Germain Racing for both of those.


Friday night, Bodine and Sauter had combined to lead 23 of the first 98 last laps, until a restart with five laps remaining. Sauter, who was leading from Bodine and Busch, chose the bottom lane, Bodine's truck took off badly and, when a four-truck accident broke out after Sauter had taken the white flag, the race was over.


"We really work hard," crew chief Joe Shear Jr. said. "We don't only come down here for the speed, we really work hard on our drafting package and our handling and being really stable in the race. We can kind of go anywhere we want.


"This race was way different than what we thought it was going to be and even different from the past. If you got hooked-up with the right people, you could make the outside groove work, it just didn't seem like it came-in (Friday) night. The bottom groove was where you had to be, we just kind of worked ourself to that point, got us in the right position and there we were."


The series is off until its second race, at Martinsville Speedway on April 6. Needless to say, Sauter can't wait.


"The Truck Series has been a tough row to hoe for me, here," Sauter said of his six-point lead over former four-time series champion Ron Hornaday Jr. and Justin Lofton. "Every year we've been looking at being 25th to 35th in points, depending where we finished, going into the season and we came close to winning the championship two years ago.


"Hopefully we can get back to championship form. I think we can. I know the guys are working hard. We're going to Martinsville next, which is a great racetrack for us -- we've won there. So I'm digging right now where we're sitting, that's for sure."


ThorSport PR

The 2013 NASCAR Nationwide Series began with a great run for RAB Racing's No. 99 Florida Lottery Toyota Camry in the DRIVE4COPD 300 at Daytona International Speedway. Alex Bowman was able to navigate numerous multi-car incidents earning him a third-place finish, both his and RAB Racing's highest ever at the famed superspeedway.


Sporting the yellow and white paint scheme of the Florida Lottery, Bowman's eighth-place qualifying effort on Friday earned him the highest starting position of any Nationwide Series rookie on the grid. The 19-year-old veteran hailing from Tucson, A.Z. took the green flag Saturday for his first Nationwide Series race at Daytona.


Bowman proved Saturday that the No. 99 Florida Lottery Toyota Camry was fast, whether pack-racing or utilizing the two-car tandem. "I worked great with Parker Kligerman, my Toyota Racing teammate," said Bowman. "It was kind of hard to get people to work with me, but I think that's just part of being a rookie. We pushed really well. I mean, heck, I pushed guys like Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Brad Keselowski. It's really an honor for me to get to race with those guys. It was a lot of fun."


Following a late-race caution, crew chief Chris Rice made the call for fuel only, which put the No. 99 in front of the 13-car accident which occurred on Lap 117. Bowman set up for the green-white-checker finish in the eighth position. As the field made its way to the start-finish line on the final lap, a violent wreck erupted. In an effort to avoid the incident, Bowman darted into the frontstretch grass. Though his Toyota Camry suffered extensive damage, Bowman completed the race in the third position.


"I just have to thank everybody at RAB Racing," said Bowman. "They gave me a great Toyota Camry. It was awesome to have Florida Lottery and Windows 8 on the car, but I just hope all of the fans are okay. I saw the fence there and I've heard that there's some fans injured and I'm just sorry for all of those fans out there. My prayers are with their family and themselves. I'm just ready to move on to Phoenix and go out there and race short track style and not have deal with the two-car tandem."


The next stop for the NASCAR Nationwide Series will be Phoenix International Raceway on Saturday, March 2, 2012. Bowman heads to his hometrack second in the Nationwide Series point standings, only one point behind the leader, Sam Hornish, Jr.


RAB Racing PR

Roush Fenway’s Travis Pastrana kicked off his 2013 Nationwide Series (NNS) campaign with a career-high 10th-place finish in his NASCAR debut at Daytona International Speedway (DIS).  The NNS kicked off its 33-race season at DIS with the DRIVE4COPD 300.

“It was wild,” said Pastrana.  “I feel like my goal here was a top-10 and to not crash.  I got 10th, and I made it across the finish line.  I can’t say enough about this Roush Fenway Racing team.  They got me up to the front, which was awesome to start up there.  The team told me where to fall back to, so I ran with Tony Stewart and those guys most of the race. 

“As soon as people started banging off me with about 18 laps to go, I said, ‘OK, we’ve got a good car,” added Pastrana.  “It’s stable.  They can take this kind of beating.’  I was more nervous about not crashing, than I was about trying to position myself.  I’ll learn from that and hopefully when we get in a similar situation, we’ll be OK.”

Pastrana qualified the No. 60 Ford Mustang in fourth for his NNS debut at the 2.5-mile speedway.  At the start of the race, Pastrana dropped to the back of the field.  With a yellow stripe on his bumper and limited drafting experience, drafting partners were at a premium. 

The No. 60 crew took an early opportunity to pit for fuel after the caution flag waved on Lap 8, returning to competition in 26th.  When the race returned to green on Lap 11, Pastrana stayed towards the back of the pack, running in the top-30.  He reported that the car was too tight on that run, making it difficult to keep up with the lead pack.

On Lap 31, Juan Carols Blum spun and brought out the second caution of the day, which gave the No. 60 crew an opportunity to work on the car.  Pastrana hit pit road on Lap 33, for four tires, fuel and a chassis adjustment to help free up the car.

Pastrana remained in the back of the pack, in an attempt to avoid the big wrecks that restrictor-plate racing is known for.  Crew chief, Chad Norris and the No. 60 crew continued to tune on the car, making air pressure and chassis adjustments during a Lap 65 pit stop.

Twenty laps later, another caution waved for RFR teammate Trevor Bayne.  Pastrana came down pit road for two tires, but after sliding through the pit stall, Norris made the quick decision to change four tires.  Pastrana exited pit road in 24th.

He began to work his way to the front of the field and by a caution on Lap 100, was up to eighth. Under the caution, Pastrana took a moment to reflect on how cool it was to race at Daytona.  When the field took the green, the driver of the No. 60 Ford was back to business, advancing all the way to third.

Pastrana stayed in the top-15 for the remainder of the race, sustaining some damage in an accident on the final lap, but still managing to finish 10th.

Tony Stewart earned his seventh NNS victory at DIS, while Sam Hornish finished second.  Alex Bowman was the highest-finishing rookie in third.  Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and Parker Kligerman comprised the remainder of the top-five.


Fans of Dale Earnhardt Jr. will try to defend a 10-year win streak as voting opens today for the NASCAR National Motorsports Press Association (NMPA) Most Popular Driver Award. Fans can vote online once a day throughout the 2013 Sprint Cup Series season to earn their driver the coveted "most popular" trophy. This year marks the first year of eligibility for Sprint Cup rookie Danica Patrick, whose fan base could push voting activity and award competition to a new intensity.


Fans can visit and vote once a day for their favorite NASCAR Sprint Cup driver among the 39 eligible. All 39 will remain eligible for voting throughout the entire Sprint Cup Series season. Voting will conclude November 17 at 11:59 PM ET after the season's final race at Homestead Miami (Fla.) Speedway. The winner will be announced at the NASCAR NMPA Myers Brothers Luncheon in December.


Earnhardt Jr. notched his 10th straight NASCAR NMPA Most Popular Driver award last season, tying a record for consecutive wins set by Bill Elliott. Elliott holds the record for most overall wins with 16.


Patrick, who made history last week by becoming the first woman to earn a Sprint Cup pole and to lead the Daytona 500, could challenge Earnhardt Jr.'s streak with her far-reaching fan base that includes women, girls and cross-over fans from her open-wheel racing career.


"Dale Jr.'s fans have really staked a claim on this award for the past decade, but the vote could get interesting this year," said Kenny Bruce, president of the NMPA. "We've had some close competitions in the past, so there are actually multiple drivers who could break the streak, and Danica is certainly one of them."


The NMPA Most Popular Driver distinction has been awarded every year since 1956. At one time, the contest was decided by a poll among drivers, taken at the end of the racing season. Later, members of the media determined the winner. Today, race fans from all over the world make the ultimate decision.


For more information and to vote on the NASCAR NMPA Most Popular Driver Award, visit


Dave Blaney and the No. 7 Florida Lottery Chevrolet SS team will return from Daytona International Speedway feeling like a winner after a 17th-place finish in the Great American Race.

Veteran crew chief and team owner Tommy Baldwin, Jr. was back on top of the pit box as Sunday's race marked the first in which he would be the crew chief on the No. 7. Together with Blaney, the two hit their strides to develop a strategy to be in contention when the checkered flag flew.

Blaney fought a loose condition after taking fuel only during the third caution of the day, but neither Baldwin nor Blaney called for any adjustments throughout the race. He was happiest with his car after four-tire stops, in which he would be quiet over the radio. As the laps wound down and the action on the track built up, he chose to ride around on the bottom lane to avoid any incidents. In the end, the strategy worked, and he brought the No. 7 home in 17th.

"The Florida Lottery Chevrolet SS was really fast in the draft today," said Blaney. "Any time you can leave here with a top-20 finish and a racecar in one piece, it's a pretty good feeling."


Kids across the country are cheering as JJ Yeley and the No. 36 Golden Corral Chevrolet SS team scored a top-ten finish at Daytona International Speedway. Sponsor Golden Corral will be busy on Monday as they prepare for a rush of children to celebrate "JJ's Mondays," where children eat free with the purchase of an adult buffet meal.

Yeley started the 55th annual Daytona 500 in the 41st position. He and crew chief Joe Lax strategized throughout the race, working on the car and waiting to make their move until the closing laps. After fighting with a loose racecar and going a lap down early, Lax called for a track bar adjustment on the second pit stop. From there, Yeley rallied to compete amongst the front pack for the remainder of the race. Taking the checkers in 10th, Yeley walked away with his career best finish at Daytona, his previous best finish was 12th in the 2007 Daytona 500.
"After a long, hard-fought day at Daytona, we were able to log a top-ten finish for our first outing with our new team and Golden Corral on board," said JJ Yeley. "The best part of it all is making lots of kids happy when they eat for free as a part of JJ's Monday."
"We put in a lot of work over the off season and to see JJ and the team make the top 10, that tells us that we did a good job," team owner Tommy Baldwin said. "Seeing our team progress through the past several years, moments like this are why I started my own team."
Details of the "JJ's Mondays" promotion are:
  • Free kids buffet with an adult buffet purchase at regular price
  • Limit of two (2) free kids meals per adult buffet purchased
"We are thrilled to have our first Top 10 finish at the Daytona 500. We're looking forward to our next opportunity for a Top 10 Kids Eat Free finish at Talladega in May," said Shelley Wolford, Vice President of National Marketing and Media at Golden Corral.

Ryan Newman, driver of the No. 39 Quicken Loans Chevrolet SS for Stewart Haas Racing (SHR), overcame starting at the back of the field and aerodynamic issues to finish fifth in the Daytona 500 Sunday at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway.

Newman was credited with starting the race in 34th due to his 21st-place finish in his Budweiser Duel qualifying race Thursday, but he dropped to the tail of the field at the start of the Great American Race because damage sustained from a flat tire in the Duel prompted the team to switch to its backup racecar. Aerodynamic problems, caused by the hood of the Quicken Loans Chevrolet SS caving under the pressure of the air flowing over the racecar, plagued Newman and the No. 39 team all day, but the team’s never-quit attitude afforded Newman the opportunity to contend for the win in the late stages of the 200-lap event.

“We basically just had a body issue today with our Quicken Loans Chevrolet SS,” Newman said. “The nose caved in, the hood caved in a little bit, but the guys did an awesome job to get it fixed. We did a lot of pit stops, and I kind of lost track of what was going on. I had to worry more about my position than watching the race and educating myself.”

While Newman was not a mainstay at the front of the field, he spent much of the afternoon biding his time, logging laps while coming to pit road when the opportunity allowed for the Quicken Loans team to make needed repairs and chassis adjustments. The adjustments helped cure the handling woes of Newman’s racecar, while the aerodynamic adjustments were just what he needed to make a run toward the front in the closing laps.

“Matt Borland (crew chief) and the guys did a good job of fixing the car without losing a lap,” Newman said. “We really didn’t have any damage. We shouldn’t have had any damage. We just had some actual body failures. The cars, as you saw in practice, were buffeting around so much, and we just didn’t have a couple of things reinforced as well as we should have.

“My guys did an awesome job to get my car back and contend in the Duels like we did after we wrecked in practice on Wednesday. Outside of leading some laps over the cycle of pit stops, the best position we were in all day was the last lap. I can’t say we are entirely satisfied with that, but after our day we’ll take that.”

Newman’s fifth-place finished helped Quicken Loans, the nation’s third largest mortgage lender, kick off the company’s “Bring It Home” sweepstakes, which pays five people’s mortgages for a month each time Newman finishes among the top-five in a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race. Consumers enter the sweepstakes by visiting and are encouraged to increase their chances of winning a month-long vacation from their mortgage by entering weekly. Participants also can win additional entries by inviting their friends and family to participate.

“This was a great day for Quicken Loans and for all the fans,” Newman said. “Five people will get their mortgages paid for a month since we finished fifth here today. It’s great that we kicked off the ‘Bring it Home’ promotion in style.”

Danica Patrick, driver of the No. 10 Chevrolet SS for SHR, finished eighth after leading three times for five laps around the 2.5-mile superspeedway. Patrick earned the highest finish for a woman in the Great American Race. The previous best finish for a woman in the Daytona 500 was 11th by Janet Guthrie in 1980.

Tony Stewart, driver of the No. 14 Bass Pro Shops/Mobil 1 Chevrolet SS for SHR, finished 41st after getting caught in an accident early in the 200-lap race. Stewart, who has 19 overall victories at Daytona, remains winless in 15 Daytona 500 starts.

Jimmie Johnson won the Daytona 500 to score his 61st career Sprint Cup victory and his second in the Daytona 500, with the other in 2006. He became the 10th driver to win multiple Daytona 500s.

Johnson’s Hendrick Motorsports teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished .129 of a second behind in the runner-up spot. Mark Martin, Brad Keselowski and Newman took spots three through five. The rest of the top-10 consisted of Greg Biffle, Regan Smith, Patrick, Michael McDowell and JJ Yeley.

There were six caution periods for 24 laps, with eight drivers failing to finish.

With round one of 36 complete, Newman leads the SHR contingent in the championship point standings. He is fifth, seven points behind series leader Johnson. Patrick stands seventh, 10 points out of first. Stewart is 37th, 44 points behind Johnson.

Patrick, who is competing for Rookie of the Year honors against Ricky Stenhouse Jr., finished four spots ahead of Stenhouse (12th).



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