Speedway Digest Staff
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Parker Kligerman and his No. 77 Toyota Racing team head to Richmond (Va.) International Raceway Friday night for the Virginia 529 College Savings 250. The race will mark the 1000th race in the history of NASCAR's second division and Kligerman and team are optimistic that after testing at the Virginia track last week, they will be able to apply what they learned and be able to compete for the win in the historic event.
The No. 77 crew was the lone Nationwide Series team that participated in a two-day test at the .75-mile tri-oval on Aug. 26 and Aug. 27. The team took two different cars to the session and tested multiple setups throughout the 12-hour test. Kligerman was able to make over 350 laps around the track in preparation for Friday night's event, mostly during the evening hours. Being able to test during the evening should be very beneficial for this weekend event, as Friday's lone practice session will take place in the morning hours.
Kligerman has top-15 finishes in each of his two starts at the Virginia track. In April, the Connecticut native went two laps down early, but battled his way back to a respectable 11th-place finish. He was scored in the 20th position for the final restart with just 12 laps remaining and maneuvered his way inside the top 10 with five laps remaining. In the closing laps, the 23-year-old lost one position and ended the day with a respectable 11th-place finish.
Now as the No. 77 Toyota Racing team makes its second start of the season at Richmond, Kligerman is confident that the strides the team has made this season will allow him to improve upon his finishing from the spring. The talented youngster is hoping that he can put his name in the record books, as the one that won the Nationwide Series' 1,000th race.
In both of his ARCA starts this season, Richard Petty Motorsports (RPM) development driver Corey Lajoie has drove into the Winner's Circle. The 21-year-old racer brought home wins at the very different Chicagoland Speedway and Pocono Raceway. This weekend, he hopes to add a short track to the list as he heads to the .875-mile Iowa Speedway for his third ARCA start.
The Concord, N.C., native has four starts at the Iowa Speedway in the NASCAR K&N Series, including a win in 2012. He has two top-fives and three top-15 finishes in his four starts.
Comments from Medallion Ford Fusion Driver Corey Lajoie:
"To win in my only two starts this season is so exciting. Having a taste of Victory Lane makes me even more excited to put together a full-time ride next year with RPM. It's difficult not to race every weekend, especially when you win all of the races you are in, but we are definitely making the best of it this season.
"I really like Iowa. We won there last fall in the K&N Series. I grew up racing on short tracks, and Iowa is a perfect combination of short track and superspeedway. You carry a lot of speed there, so I'm thankful I will have a Roush Yates engine under the hood. I think we will have a really good shot at the win this weekend."
Before engines roar at Martinsville Speedway on October 27, fans will hear the powerful sounds of world-renowned guitarist Gary Hoey, who has been acclaimed as one of the top 100 guitarists of all time.
Hoey will perform in Martinsville Speedway’s new Party Plaza on race morning, and then lay down some of the most iconic guitar riffs of all time during driver introductions for the Goody’s™ Headache Relief Shot™ 500 Powered by Kroger.
Hoey will be the “blues” portion of the “Brews, Blues and Barbecue” theme in the Party Plaza race morning.
“My latest record (“Deja Blues”) is a blues-rock album. It has a classic blues rock feel to it,” Hoey said recently. “We’ll do some classic rock in the Party Plaza, we’ll do some blues classic stuff from ‘Cross Road Blues’ to ‘Stormy Monday’.”
Hoey, who has 18 albums to his credit and a No. 5 Billboard Rock hit with “Hocus Pocus” will be on stage for driver introductions, playing a different, famous guitar riff for each of the top-12 Chase drivers introduced.
“I’m absolutely excited about the whole day. It’s going to be a great day, the new plaza and pre-race. I’m just blown away,” said Hoey.
Hoey has toured and traded licks with the likes of Jeff Beck, Brian May of Queen, Ted Nugent, Joe Satriani, The Doobie Brothers, Lita Ford, Foreigner, Styx, Steve Vai, Peter Frampton, and Dick Dale.
He is no stranger to racing either. He’s been to the Daytona 500 along with a couple of other NASCAR venues. Racing, Hoey says, is much like the music industry.
“They both have a similar kind of sacrifice. You have to have the passion for it and be able to get knocked down and then get back up again.”
The Party Plaza is a new addition to Martinsville Speedway’s race-morning lineup and in addition to Hoey, will feature a DJ and children’s activities, including a bounce house and a rock-climbing wall.
Four NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers, Jeff Gordon, Ryan Newman, Jamie McMurray and Ricky Stenhouse Jr., will make appearances in the Party Plaza. The drivers will appear at different times and each will participate in an emceed question and answer session during their appearance.
There will be food vendors in the Party Plaza selling assorted food items. Pepsi products will be available for purchase. There will also be a beer garden with a variety of beer for sale.
Admission to the Party Plaza, which also includes a Pre-Race Track Pass to walk along the front-stretch of Martinsville Speedway, is just $49.
Martinsville Speedway PR
Another form of racing will take place on Saturday, Sept. 28, as Darlington Raceway will serve as the start line and finish line for the inaugural Darlington Marathon.
The race will begin at 7 a.m. and will feature 5K, 10K, Half and Full Marathon events. All races will start from the same spot across the street from the Darlington Raceway Museum. The races will continue throughout the county of Darlington before ending at the start/finish line at the track Too Tough To Tame.
Pre-registration for the Marathon is still taking place with non-refundable prices of $75 (Full Marathon), $45 (Half Marathon), $35 (10K) and $25 (5K) being offered. Participants can register online until Sept. 26 by visiting www.DarlingtonMarathon.com.
USA Track & Field will recognize times from the Darlington Marathon as official Finishing Times. Times will be eligible to qualify for the 2014 Boston Marathon.
“We’re excited to be the starting point and finish line for the inaugural Darlington Marathon,” the track’s director of corporate sales and Darlington Marathon participant Jeff Taylor said. “Hosting a variety of racing events like this is a big deal for our track and local community as hundreds of runners will be participating and spending time here in Darlington.”
Darlington Raceway PR
No. 55 Aaron’s Dream Machine Toyota driver Brian Vickers would love to win Saturday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Richmond International Raceway. The No. 55 is 18th in owner points, but a win coupled with the July 14 victory in New Hampshire would likely earn the Michael Waltrip Racing team one of the two wildcard berths in the 2013 owner’s championship.
But, Vickers is working on more than just Saturday night’s race.
He is using these final 2013 races as a jump start to the 2014 season that will see him drive the Aaron’s Toyota in every race.
VICKERS ON 2014 PREPARATION: “We go out there and do our best and we never give up. We can’t thank Aaron’s enough for coming on board and having me in the car the rest of the season and next year. That’s what this year is about, preparing for next year and that’s what we’re doing. Obviously Scott Miller (MWR executive vice president of competition) has been helping on the pit box, but we have Billy Scott (MWR engineer) who has been a phenomenal race engineer. As you know this sport has changed, there’s not one man at the top anymore and those two guys have to play an integral role in these cars. ”
WHAT INPUT WILL YOU HAVE ON SELECTING THE No. 55’s CREW CHIEF? “I certainly have a say, and I have a voice in it. They’re most definitely going to want my opinion, but my experience with most companies, the guy writing the check is the guy with the final say. And, that’s not me. I’m going to defer to them on that one. I think within the organization, as a whole, obviously in the team structure, the drivers are always going to have some input.”
POTENTIAL CREW CHIEFS: “From our standpoint, everybody is an option. MWR is a phenomenal organization with a great culture. They have a lot of depth and we want to grow that depth. You always want to try to promote from within, but no decision has been made. Right now Billy is filling his roles that he’s always fulfilled and doing an excellent job of it. He’s a great race engineer. Whether or not we change his title going into next year, we don’t know yet. Scott’s (Miller) helping – the reality is one person can’t do that job anymore. It's a combo deal. You have to have a crew chief and a race engineer and I don’t know that one job is any more important than the other, they’re just different. We have Scott and Billy doing both of those roles. What we do next is really a factor of what the group and team want, what’s best for the team and what each individual wants moving forward.”
It all comes down to this.
Saturday night’s Federated Auto Parts 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway is the last race before the 12-driver Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship field is set. And this is Ryan Newman and the No. 39 Quicken Loans Racing team’s last chance to lock themselves into the field that will compete for the title in the 10-race Chase.
Only the top-10 in points are locked into the 12-driver Chase. Positions 11 and 12 in the Chase are wild cards, awarded to the two drivers between 11th and 20th in points with the most wins. In the event multiple drivers have the same number of wins, a driver’s point standing serves as the tiebreaker.
Kasey Kahne, who is 12th in points, has the first wild card via his two wins. The second wild card is held by Martin Truex Jr., who is 13th in points with one victory. Newman is the only other driver between 11th and 20th with a victory.
Currently 14th in points, Newman would clinch at least a wild-card spot with a victory Saturday night. He could lock himself into the top-10, as well, as he finds himself just 20 points outside the 10th and final guaranteed position in the Chase field. He could clinch a wild-card spot without scoring the win at Richmond, but only if Joey Logano and Greg Biffle remain in the top-10 or are replaced by Kahne. If that happens, Newman must out-point current wild-card holder Truex by six points in the race. Jeff Gordon must not win; and if Brad Keselowski or Jamie McMurray wins, Newman needs to have a strong enough finish that neither driver would be able to overtake him in the points.
Sound complicated? Well, it is. Newman and his crew chief Matt Borland-led team will focus on making it easy. “Win and we’re in,” they’ll say. And, at Newman’s statistically best track – his average Richmond finish is 11.8 – Newman expects he will contend not only to make the Chase, but to potentially win the race, as well.
Newman has one win (September 2003) and one pole, five top-five finishes and 13 top-10s in 23 career Sprint Cup starts at Richmond. And since joining Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) in 2009, Richmond has been one of the better tracks on the circuit for the No. 39 team.
Should Newman be able to race his way into the Chase this weekend, it wouldn’t be the first time the Quicken Loans driver has made the Chase in the final regular-season race. He was one point outside the playoffs heading to Richmond in September 2005 but grabbed one of the coveted Chase spots with a solid 12th-place finish.
Knowing a win would guarantee their presence in the Chase, Newman and the No. 39 team know it will be imperative to put all their energy, focus and determination on the race itself and do whatever it takes to drive the No. 39 Quicken Loans Chevrolet straight to victory lane and into NASCAR’s version of the playoffs.
Richard Petty Motorsports (RPM) development driver Ryan Truex will make his second NASCAR Sprint Cup Series start at the Richmond (Va.) International Raceway on Saturday night. Truex will drive the No. 51 entry for Phoenix Racing as a continued agreement with the organization.
While this will be his first Cup start at the .75-mile track, Truex has four starts at Richmond in the NASCAR Nationwide series, earning one top-five and two top-10s. His last race at the Virginia track was in September of 2012 where he finished in the 16th position.
Comments from Ryan Truex Heading Into Richmond:
"I'm really looking forward to Richmond. My first Cup start didn't go the way I wanted, so I'm grateful for the opportunity to get another chance. I was really happy with qualifying 18th at Bristol, but we cut a tire and that was disappointing. It's just nice to get back in the seat and get another chance so quickly.
"Now that I've got that first start out of the way, and I know what to expect, I can't wait to get back on the track. We're trying to secure some sponsorship with RPM for next year and a good run helps. I just want to go out, learn as much as possible and complete all the laps."
Jeff Burton, driver of the No. 31 Caterpillar Chevrolet SS for Richard Childress Racing, has announced he will not be driving that car after the 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season. Burton, 46, has driven for RCR since 2005.
The native of South Boston, Va., has won four of his 21 NSCS victories with the team. He also earned seven NASCAR Nationwide Series wins with RCR and was an integral part of their 2007 NNS Owner's Championship.
"I strongly believe in the No. 31 team as to what we can achieve this year, and for the team in seasons to follow," Burton said. "However, the financial realities for next year were obvious to both Richard (Childress) and me. So, we talked about it and both made the decision to make this move for the team's future.
"I would like to thank the dealers, customers and employees of Caterpillar for all we've achieved together. You can't ask for a better and more supportive sponsor than those people, and it's been an honor to wear their black and yellow colors on my uniform."
Caterpillar will continue to sponsor the No. 31 Chevrolet SS.
"Jeff has been a true professional in every sense of the word," said Greg Towles, Cat Racing Program Director. "On behalf of Caterpillar dealers, customers and Cat employees, we thank Jeff for his commitment to the No. 31 team and the Cat Racing program."
A new driver for the No. 31 Caterpillar Chevrolet SS will be named in the future.
"We have been working hard to try and get all the funding in place to have four Sprint Cup teams in 2014," said Richard Childress, president and CEO of Richard Childress Racing. "With the date on the calendar getting closer to 2014, we just couldn't run partially funded teams next year. Knowing what Jeff's plans were in 2015, he and I worked out an agreement for him to step out of the No. 31 Caterpillar Chevrolet after this season. Jeff has been nothing but a professional driver, an asset to RCR and a great person for our organization since coming on board in 2005.
"Jeff has also been a great ambassador for Caterpillar and the other partners we've had on the car throughout the years. I can't thank him and Caterpillar enough for how great they've been as we work through this transition.
"We intend to finish out 2013 in a strong way and I look forward to the possibility of Jeff still being part of RCR in the near future, just not driving the No. 31 car. I have been watching his son, Harrison, and the success he's having. Hopefully, we can have another Burton in one of our cars someday."
With only Saturday’s race at Richmond International Raceway left in the regular season, five positions are up for grabs in NASCAR’s 2013 Chase for the Sprint Cup.
No. 56 NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota driver Martin Truex Jr. is one of the drivers in the fiercest battle in the Chase’s 10-year history. He is 13th in the standings, 15 points out of 10th, but holds the second wild card position. Truex finished third in Atlanta despite driving with a cast on his right wrist after suffering a scaphoid fracture and sprain during the Bristol race on Aug. 24.
Truex hopes to join Michael Waltrip Racing teammate Clint Bowyer in each clinching their second-consecutive berths in the Chase for MWR.
CAST UPDATE: “The cast did its job at Atlanta. It got a little soft in the palm area during the race but all and all, everything went fine. I’ve had it checked over again and had a new cast put on. We’ve made a few adjustments to this new cast and I expect it to be a whole lot better. Everything has gone well so far. I cannot complain. I mean to go to Atlanta and to have a shot at the win at the end, at that point, what pain I felt was gone.”
THOUGHTS ON FINAL RACE BEFORE THE CHASE: “Our strategy is the same as we had last week at Atlanta. This NAPA team needs to go out and try to win the race. If we can’t, we need to get all we can. We cannot make a mistake. No matter what kind of night we are having, we will keep our heads down and focus on where we are heading towards lap 400. Depending on cautions, Richmond has a tendency to swap the field around at times. We just have to do the best job we can do at getting track position and keeping it. The goal for us is to be ready for the end. That’s all we can do at this point. We can’t get worried about the points. It is what it is. We need to focus on finishing up front and trying to win. Wherever we finish, I hope it is enough.
“To be honest, with the season we have had with all the ups and downs, I am so excited to still be in this thing. We have fought so hard this year and have overcome a lot to be in this position. It will be awesome and a huge deal for us if we can make it in again. This NAPA team is not a 12th or 13th-place team. In my opinion, we are a top-five team. We want to get in and make up for the mistakes and mishaps we experienced earlier in the year to have a great ending to our season.”
The last time NASCAR fans saw Farm Rich on David Ragan's No. 34 Ford, he was celebrating in Victory Lane. Four months after Front Row Motorsports' historic win at Talladega (Ala.) Motor Speedway, the frozen snacks and appetizers brand returns to Ragan's car for this weekend's Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway.
Farm Rich partner Kroger will be included on the No. 34 car and host Farm Rich product demonstrations at more than 650 stores nationwide on race day. Ragan will also make a special appearance at the Kroger store at 9351 Atlee Road in Mechanicsville, Va., on Thursday, Sept. 5, from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. to greet fans and sign autographs.
Richmond International Raceway is a track that Ragan enjoys and a place where he has seen success. He has three top-five and three top-10 finishes at the three-quarter-mile track.
Comments from Farm Rich team driver David Ragan heading to Richmond:
"Richmond is one of my favorite tracks. I've had some really good runs there in the past. It's all about getting good forward drive so you can get on the throttle and get underneath other cars. Usually we have a couple of long runs, and even a green-flag pit stop is not unheard of. If you can really work on your rear tires, getting them to grip under power, especially off Turn 4, where you're still trying to turn and you're under throttle, it can be a fun race. It's one of the more exciting races because a lot of guys are racing for that final Chase spot. So there will definitely be some excitement.
"Farm Rich will be on our No. 34 Ford Fusion. It will be their second race of the year. The only other race they've been on our Ford was at Talladega when we were able to win the race. We've got a great-looking car for Richmond. To have Farm Rich snacks on board, it's going to be a lot fun to see them there at the track. It's the first race where they're really activating.
"A lot of people are coming out, and they're tying in with Kroger, too. We'll be doing a store appearance in the Richmond area at a Kroger, too. So there's a lot of neat stuff associated with the race, not only with the Saturday night race but also the Thursday and Friday leading up to the race weekend. We'll have a lot of guests there, so it's going to be fun to get a good run in for everyone.
"Saturday night races are tough for the crew chiefs and engineers to really get a trend on how the rubber's laying down. The temperature changes a lot, just because you have a one-day show to get your car set up for the race and for qualifying, and then you come in the next day for a race that night. It's challenging. But we've got good notebooks. We've been on that schedule for a number of years. We've just got to look back and be smart with what adjustments we make."