Wednesday, Nov 29
Speedway Digest Staff

Speedway Digest Staff

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Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) announces today that it has partnered with Pit Crew U, a division of Performance Instruction & Training, on a pit crew development program designed to keep a flow of talent coming to the organization for years to come.

“It certainly is no secret how important pit crews have become in our sport especially with track position playing such a vital role in each race,” said J.D. Gibbs, President of JGR. “We’ve always believed in developing our own talent through our driver program and our Nationwide Series program, which has seen many team members, including crew chiefs, make the step to the Sprint Cup Series.  We’re excited to partner with Pit Crew U now to make sure we have a consistent flow of over the wall talent coming to JGR in the years to come.”

Pit Crew U has produced some of the best over-the-wall talent in NASCAR with several of JGR’s current Sprint Cup Series pit crew members having come out of their program.

“To be part of a pit crew at the highest levels of our sport takes an athlete with very specialized skills,” said Mike Lepp, Athletic Director for JGR. “Pit Crew U has a state of the art facility for training to those specific requirements and is proven in their ability to develop talent. This is a big step for JGR in ensuring depth in talent at every over the wall position.”

JGR will work with Pit Crew U to identify 10 talented athletes to form a development squad for their racing programs with the intent to eventually fill the organization’s needs in their Nationwide Series programs and ultimately the Sprint Cup Series.

“Not only has Joe Gibbs Racing consistently fielded winning Sprint Cup race teams and elite pit crews since their creation in 1992, but just as importantly to us, Joe and J.D. Gibbs have created a winning culture – an organization that personifies class and integrity in everything that they do,” said Bob Plott, General Manager of PIT. “JGR wins the right way. Performance Instruction and Training (PIT) shares those same core values and beliefs. And Like JGR, PIT takes pride in developing quality, winning athletes as well as quality people. That’s why we are so excited to partner with JGR and be a part of their great team.”


Getting the No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Fusion up to speed at Michigan International Speedway hasn’t been much of a problem for Trevor Bayne and the Wood Brothers in recent races. Securing a fitting finish has been another matter altogether.

In both Sprint Cup races at Michigan in 2012, Bayne qualified in the top seven only to have equipment issues take away opportunities for strong finishes.   An engine failure in the first race and a flat tire in the second, hindered any chance of showcasing the teams full potential.

Back in June of this year at the home track for Ford Motor Company, Bayne was poised to be a big part of a Ford celebration of its 1,000th NASCAR victory before aerodynamic damage from an incident on the track left him with a 15th-place finish behind the winning Ford Fusion driven by Greg Biffle.

The team will use the same Ford Fusion it ran at MIS on Father’s Day, and it will be back in its familiar red-and-white paint scheme instead of the black-and-white colors used at Indianapolis Motor Speedway to honor Henry Ford’s 150th birthday.  Veteran crew chief Donnie Wingo said he and his Motorcraft/Quick Lane crew are determined to do their part to help Bayne steer Chassis No. 745 to a strong finish in Sunday’s Pure Michigan 400.

“We’ve had some of our better runs at Michigan, but we just haven’t been able to finish them off,” Wingo said. “The car’s been good. It just needed a little bit here and there, which we should be able to work on in practice.”

Among the goals Wingo has for the weekend is a strong qualifying effort, for several reasons. Foremost, there’s the matter of making the starting field, as the Motorcraft/Quick Lane team must make the race based on its qualifying speed. Then there are the advantages that come with starting up front, namely a beneficial pit stall and the edge that comes with having track position from the drop of the green flag.

“We’re going to work hard on qualifying,” Wingo said. “I expect we’re going to have a track-position race.”

That means race strategies will focus on keeping drivers as close to the front of the field as possible, especially as the laps wind down.

“You’re not going to take four tires every time you make a pit stop,” Wingo said. “You’ll see lots of two-tire stops and some no-tire stops. It just depends on how much fuel you need at that point.”

Qualifying for the Pure Michigan 400 is set for Friday at 3:40 p.m. Eastern, and the race is scheduled to start just after 1 p.m. on Sunday with TV coverage on ESPN.

Wood Brothers Racing PR

Furniture Row Racing driver Kurt Busch threw a perfect strike during the ceremonial first pitch prior to Wednesday’s MLB game between the Colorado Rockies and San Diego Padres.
Busch, a rabid baseball fan, trotted to the Coors Field pitching mound wearing a No. 78 Rockies/Furniture Row jersey, then took a short windup and hurled a fastball over the center of the plate.
Busch, who has thrown the ceremonial first pitch numerous times at different major league ballparks, said that this was one of his better performances.
“I’ve had some pitches in the past go high, go wide but today at Coors field I had the heat and put it in the strike zone,” explained Busch. “It was a relief -- the last thing you want to do is embarrass yourself.”
The visit to the Rockies game was part of a four-day Denver blitz for Busch, who his in first full season driving for the Colorado-based NASCAR Sprint Cup Series team.
Along with attending the Rockies game, Busch paid a visit to local media outlets, conducted an autograph session for Furniture Row at its Oak Express store, played in a charity golf tournament that benefitted the Armed Forces Foundation and took part in a television commercial shoot for future Furniture Row/Denver Mattress promotions.
His Denver week will culminate Thursday as a VIP guest to the Denver Broncos training camp.
“It might sound like a whirlwind week in Denver, but it was a lot fun,” said Busch, driver of the No. 78 Furniture Row Chevrolet SS. “It was also great to spend time with the guys at our Denver race shop and to thank them for the fast race cars they have given me this year.”
Following his Thursday visit to the Broncos camp, Busch will head to Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, site of this weekend’s Michigan Pure 400 Sprint Cup Series race.
Busch, the 2004 NASCAR champion, is in Chase contention, sitting 11th in points, only two markers from 10th.

No. 56 NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota driver Martin Truex Jr. contended for the victory Sunday at Watkins Glen International en route to a   third-place finish. The result catapulted the Michael Waltrip Racing driver from 14th to 10th place in the standings with just four races remaining until the Chase.

Going into this weekend’s race at Michigan International Speedway where Truex finished third in June, the driver finds himself involved in an intense battle for one of the 12 Chase berths. Only 12 points separate positions eight through 12. Truex admits the point standings are close but he’s done being preoccupied with it.

“This season it seemed like every time we got into a comfortable situation in the standings, something out of our control happened like a mechanical issue, wreck or engine problem. I finally stopped paying attention to the points. It is what it is. It’s extremely close. At this point, we have to continue to run as well as we can and if we do our job, the points will work out. We are either going to qualify for our second-straight Chase or we are not. I know that we are giving it our all each and every week. Whatever comes with that, we are going to have to be satisfied with it and move on.”

Martin Truex Jr. Winning at Michigan: “We’ve run really well there and I’ve always really liked that race track. I was worried that when they paved it I would not like it as much, but I still enjoy it. Typically, I like the faster race tracks -- the bigger corners and more time spent in the throttle. Those are the kind of tracks typically that suit my style or that I’ve been really good at. Michigan is no different. I really enjoy going there -- it’s super fast and it’s a lot of fun to race on. The track is obviously getting better each time we go back with being paved last year. We will get the tires to where they start wearing out then we’ll be able to start putting on some really good racing.”


Nestled in the Irish Hills of the Great Lakes state, you will find Michigan International Speedway (MIS) in Brooklyn, the 12th stop on the 2013 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) schedule for Joey Coulter and the No. 18 Kyle Busch Motorsports (KBM) team. Not only is MIS the first stop in the second half of the 22-race Truck Series schedule, it will also mark the first race and live event for America's new sports network, FOX Sports 1. The new network will debut on Saturday, Aug. 17 with more than 17 hours of programing including NCWTS qualifying at 9:30 a.m. ET, NCWTS SETUP with Krista Voda at 12 p.m. ET and live coverage of the NCWTS Michigan National Guard 200 at 12:30 p.m. ET.


Being No. 1 is the goal for any athlete and it's no different for NCWTS driver, Joey Coulter, who will be carrying the colors of FOX Sports 1 for the second consecutive race. Coulter, who is trying to make it to No. 1, is on the right path following two consecutive top-five finishes - in the Inaugural Mudsummer Classic at Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio and the Pocono Mountains 125 at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway. The KBM driver, who was 13th in the 2013 NCWTS driver's point standings, 17 points outside the top-10 and 50 points outside the top-five entering Eldora, is now 11th in the  championship points battle a mere nine points outside the top-10 and 25 points behind fifth-place Ty Dillon entering this weekend's 100-lap event.


Coulter, who started first in the 2012 Truck Series event at MIS, has led laps at the 2-mile oval and has never finished outside the top-10 in two starts. With a consistent record in the Irish Hills, the FOX Sports 1 driver looks to continue his momentum in this weekend's event and hopes to be the first driver to cross the finish line in the first race on FOX Sports 1 - launching him back into the top-10 in points for this first time since April.



Fans are invited to watch NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stars running laps at Richmond International Raceway August 19-21, in advance of next month’s Federated Auto Parts 400– “One Last Race to Make The Chase” – at America’s Premier Short Track. RIR’s grandstands will be open free to the public from 5:00 to 9:00 p.m. each night.

Drivers will get precious track time “under the lights” in preparation for one of the most anticipated races of the season. Only the top 10 drivers in the point standings and two Wild Cards (drivers who are in positions 11-20 with the most wins) will earn a spot in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. The way things are shaping up, there could be more than 10 drivers on the proverbial “bubble.”

Participating in the upcoming tests:

Monday, August 19

  • Brad Keselowski (8th in the point standings; 0 wins)
  • Joey Logano (16th in the point standings; 0 wins)
  • Casey Mears (24th in the point standings; 0 wins)

Tuesday, August 20 and Wednesday, August 21

  • Dale Earnhardt Jr. (6th in the point standings; 0 wins)
  • Jeff Gordon (13th in the point standings; 0 wins)
  • Jimmie Johnson (1st in the point standings; 4 wins; locked in to the Chase)
  • Kasey Kahne (12th in the point standings; 2 wins: #1 Wild Card driver)
  • Martin Truex Jr. (10th in the point standings; 1 win)
  • Clint Bowyer (2nd in the point standings; 0 wins)
  • Mark Martin (29th in the point standings; 0 wins)
  • Keselowski
  • Logano
  • Mears

Fans may enter Richmond International Raceway through the Main Gate, located at the corner of Laburnum Avenue and Meadowbridge Rd. Parking will be on the Midway, outside of Gate 70. A concessions stand will be open with food and beverages, and fans are allowed to bring in their own food and beverage (no glass allowed).


Nationwide Series driver Mike Wallace will carry a very important message on his JD Motorsports with Gary Keller Chevrolet in Saturday’s Nationwide Children’s Hospital 200 at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

       Wallace and the No. 01 team are joining Ohio law enforcement agencies to promote the Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over crackdown on impaired driving. The enforcement blitz begins Friday and will last through Labor Day.

“Law enforcement partners across the state will be out in full force to ensure people are making the right decisions on our roads,” said Ohio Department of Public Safety Director John Born. “Impaired driving is a serious matter, and the message is clear – drive sober or get pulled over.”

Wallace said he’s pleased to play a role in the effort to make Ohio roads safer.

 “It’s a great campaign,” Wallace said. “We’re happy to be involved with activities like this that can be so important in making our highways safer. We take some chances in racing, but the public roadways are no place for that. We’ll be encouraging everybody to ‘Drive sober or get pulled over’ by emphasizing the campaign on our race car this weekend.”

According to provisional data, 494 people died in 453 OVI-related crashes on Ohio’s roads in 2012.  Impaired drivers were involved in 44 percent of all fatal traffic crashes.

“We can’t fight the battle against impaired driving on our own – we need your commitment to make our roads safer,” said Colonel Paul A. Pride, Patrol superintendent. “You can contribute to a safer Ohio by actively influencing friends and family to make safe, responsible decisions – like planning ahead to designate a driver and insisting that everyone in the vehicle is buckled up.”

The national Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over crackdown is a program organized by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and focuses on combining high-visibility enforcement with heightened public awareness through advertising and publicity.

Wallace and the No. 01 car will be participating in a bit of NASCAR history Saturday as the Nationwide Series races for the first time at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, a 2.70-mile track in north central Ohio.

How does a driver prepare for a speedway he’s seeing for the first time? Research – in the case of Wallace.

 “The only way I know how to prepare is I got some aerial views of the track, and I’ll watch some videos. You have to understand when to go left and right and how to approach the turns.”

The Nationwide Children’s Hospital 200 will be the second straight road-course race for the series after last week’s Zippo 200 at Watkins Glen, N.Y.

“I think it’s exciting any time we go to somewhere new,” Wallace said. “Other than that, we’ll approach it like any other road race. We know if we stay on the track all day long we’ll have a good run.”

Because the series is making its inaugural visit to Mid-Ohio, the weekend schedule is filled with practice opportunities. Sessions are scheduled at 9 a.m. (ET) and 1:30 p.m. Thursday and 11 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. Friday. Qualifying is set at 9:30 a.m. Saturday, with the race to follow at 2:30 p.m.

JD Motorsports PR

Veteran driver Kevin Lepage will make his 2013 debut in the JD Motorsports with Gary Keller No. 4 Chevrolet in Saturday’s Nationwide Children’s Hospital 200 Nationwide Series race at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

The series is racing at the 2.70-mile road course for the first time.

Lepage has raced in six Nationwide races this year, but Saturday’s run will be his first with JD Motorsports.

 “Kevin has been a strong racer for a long time,” team owner Johnny Davis said. “We’re glad to have him in our car this week. We’re looking for a good weekend out there.”

Lepage has a top finish of 19th in Nationwide events this season.

The No. 4 car will carry the Gary Keller name prominently this weekend as JD Motorsports celebrates that association. “We’re fortunate to have Gary along for the ride with us every week,” Davis said. “He has meant a lot to this race team, and we’re proud to have his name on our cars. It’s going to be a big weekend at Mid-Ohio.”

With the series at the Mid-Ohio course for the first time, NASCAR has scheduled two practice sessions on both Thursday and Friday before Saturday’s qualifying and race.

JD Motorsports PR


TMI (Team McClure, Inc.) announced today that due to an undisclosed illness that has left Eric McClure hospitalized, he will be sidelined for Saturday’s inaugural race at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.  In McClure’s absence, Jeff Green, former NASCAR Nationwide Series Champion and teammate to McClure at TriStar Motorsports, will pilot the No. 14 Hefty®/Reynolds® Toyota during the Nationwide Children’s Hospital 200.

McClure’s status on returning to competition is week to week.


U.S. Army veteran and Purple Heart recipient David Balestrino Jr. has been named honorary starter for the Pure Michigan 400 being held this Sunday, August 18, at Michigan International Speedway.  Balestrino was the winner of a fan contest on the Pure Michigan Facebook page, receiving the highest number of votes for his entry on why he wanted to wave the green flag on race day.

Balestrino, of Youngstown, Ohio, served as a Combat Engineer in the U.S. Army from 2003-2009 and received a Purple Heart during his service in Iraq.  In his entry, Balestrino said he would like to drop the green flag in honor of his six year old son.

“While serving in Iraq I missed the entire first year of Brady's life,” Balestrino said. “That was the most difficult thing I ever had to go through.  I still can't believe that I was picked for this awesome honor and I hope that I can make everyone who has served or is still serving proud.”

As honorary starter, Balestrino will also have the opportunity to receive a pace car ride from NASCAR’s official pace car driver and attend the NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers’ meeting.

“We received many great entries from fans excited about race day at the Pure Michigan 400, but David’s submission really brought together a passion for racing and a terrific story that speaks to the spirit of Pure Michigan,” said George Zimmermann, Vice President of Travel Michigan, part of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation.

For the Facebook contest, fans submitted entries of 50 words or less explaining why they should be selected as honorary starter.  Fans of Pure Michigan voted on their top entries.  Balestrino’s entry received more than 800 votes and was chosen by Pure Michigan from the 10 entries with the most fan votes.

“We are honored to have David here to wave the green flag on the Pure Michigan 400,” said MIS President Roger Curtis.  “He will truly experience the thrill of the start of the race as the cars pass under him. We want to thank our friends at Pure Michigan for giving David the chance to become an integral part of the NASCAR experience.”

TV star and Traverse City native Carter Oosterhouse is serving as the Pure Michigan 400 grand marshal.  Fans will also have one last chance to register to win the Pure Michigan 400 pace car on site race weekend at the Pure Michigan tent on the New Holland Fan Plaza.



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