Friday, Dec 08
Speedway Digest Staff

Speedway Digest Staff

Follow us on Twitter @SpeedwayDigest

When Ryan Newman hits the track at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn for Sunday’s Pure Michigan 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race, his Quicken Loans Chevrolet SS will sport a different look as the nation’s largest online retail mortgage lender will feature a National Parent-Teacher Association (PTA)-inspired paint scheme.

In addition to carrying the PTA colors this weekend, Newman will make a midweek visit to Detroit Public Schools’ Burton International Academy, where he will speak with students about the importance of staying in school and how education played an important role on his path to becoming a successful racecar driver. 

As part of the visit, Newman and representatives from Quicken Loans will deliver more than $10,000 in school supplies purchased by the Detroit-based company to the academy, which serves kindergarten through eighth-grade students.

Following the visit, it’s back to work for Newman, whose 14th-place finish at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International Sunday elevated him to the second wild-card spot for this year’s Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship with four races remaining before the Chase begins Sept. 15 at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Ill.

Only the top-10 in points are locked into the 12-driver, 10-race Chase. Positions 11 and 12 are wild cards, awarded to the two drivers between 11th and 20th in points who have 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 holds the 11th-place wild-card spot thanks to his two victories this season, the most of any driver outside the top-10. Newman assumed the 12th-place wild-card spot by virtue of his July 28 victory at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, combined with his 14th position in the point standings, which is higher than Tony Stewart, his fellow single-race winner in the top-20 in points. Stewart, Newman’s teammate and car owner, will miss his second consecutive race this weekend due to an injury sustained in a Sprint car accident Aug. 5 at Southern Iowa Speedway in Oskaloosa.

Considering both the top-10 in points and the wild-card scenario seem to be in a constant state of flux, keeping the second wild-card spot in his clutches will be no easy task for Newman and the No. 39 team. 

Newman would greatly help his cause if he were able capture at least one more win. Luckily, the South Bend, Ind., native is no stranger to victory lane at Michigan International Speedway.

Newman has two Sprint Cup wins at Michigan on his resume, which came in successive visits to the moderately banked 2-mile oval in August 2003 and June 2004. In 2003, Newman started on the outside pole and led 32 laps en route to the win. In 2004, he started fourth and led 22 laps on his way to taking the checkered flag. Augmenting those triumphs is a pole in June 2005, and five top-five finishes and seven top-10s in 24 career Sprint Cup starts.

Newman and his Matt Borland-led team have certainly been ones to watch when it comes to the larger speedways on the circuit of late. Given some of the similarities between Michigan, Indianapolis and Pocono (Pa.) Raceway, it’s easy to understand how Newman has to be considered a favorite heading into Sunday’s race. And considering he will be behind the wheel of Chassis No. 39-733, the same Chevrolet SS he drove to victory lane at Indy and to a fourth-place finish at Pocono earlier this month, his odds would seem to be all the better this weekend.

Another strong finish would give Newman and his fans something to cheer. A top-five at Michigan would go a long way toward solidifying Newman’s presence in the 2013 Chase field, and it would mean five more mortgages paid for a month. Thanks to Quicken Loans’ season-long “Bring It Home” promotion, fans who have already registered will want Newman to continue that trend. Those who have not simply need to visit to register. All 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.


Marcos Ambrose and the No. 9 DEWALT Ford team expect to show the same dominance at Michigan this weekend as they did last week at Watkins Glen International. As the track record holder, Ambrose and team have always proven to have speed at the two-mile oval.


In his past 10 NASCAR Sprint Cup starts at the Irish Hills track, Ambrose has posted one top-five and two top-10 finishes. He also has one pole and holds the track record, all recorded last season.


Ambrose will also be pulling "double duty" this weekend, racing the STANLEY Ford in the Nationwide Series event at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course on Saturday.


Comments from DEWALT Ford Fusion Driver Marcos Ambrose:


"Last season, we showed a lot of speed and got the track record here at Michigan. We came for the first time with the Gen-6 car in June, and we learned a lot. Our team has worked hard on our overall intermediate track program for the Gen-6 car, and I feel that we've run a lot better. Indianapolis, Pocono and Watkins Glen we raced up front or in the top-10. We just want to keep that speed and bring it to Michigan.


"Despite being only two months apart, the track acts differently between the two races, so we'll use practice on Friday to get a good gauge on what will or will not work for setups. This is a race track where you need to carry a lot of momentum and keep the car up to speed. Practice sessions here are really important.


"I just think we've shown speed, have had some good runs and just outside top-10 finishes weekly if we don't have any major problems. I think we can get a top-10 or a top-five pretty easily this weekend if everything falls into place."


Comments from Crew Chief Drew Blickensderfer on Michigan:


"Michigan is a very fast, wide-open track. We have improved our program with the Gen-6 car over the past few months. We are bringing a different chassis, and hopefully we can take it and get a good finish. We finished top-15 at Kentucky and Pocono and showed a lot of speed at Indy. So I think we can do the same here this weekend and capitalize to get a good finish."



Aric Almirola returns to Michigan International Speedway with a lot of confidence in his Richard Petty Motorsports team at the two-mile oval. In June, the No. 43 Eckrich Ford started from the fifth spot and raced in the top-10 for most of the day before debris from an accident relegated Almirola and team to a 17th-place finish. Showing speed at the intermediate tracks, the Eckrich team is poised for a good finish this weekend in the Irish Hills.


Almirola continues to support Eckrich, and their partnership with Operation Homefront to give back to military families throughout the season. This weekend is no different as Almirola will surprise a deserving local Michigan family with a once-in-a-lifetime experience. So far this season, Eckrich, Almirola and Operation Homefront have provided military families with unique at-track experiences in conjunction with each of their sponsored races.


Almirola has seven starts at Michigan International Speedway over all three NASCAR premier series. The Tampa, Fla., native scored his second truck series win at the speedway in 2010. He has two top-five starts in 'Cup (2013) and trucks (2010). Crew chief Todd Parrott also knows how to win at the Irish Hills track. He has three Sprint Cup wins there with Dale Jarrett in 1996, 1999 and 2002. In his 30 starts as a crew chief, he has an average finish of 12.9 and 12 top-five and 17 top-10 finishes.


Comments from Eckrich Ford Fusion Driver Aric Almirola:


"We ran well at Michigan earlier this season. We were a top-10 car but were in the wrong place at the wrong time and hit some debris from an accident in front of us. All season, we have shown speed at the intermediate tracks, and this weekend shouldn't be any different. We started fifth here in June, so I expect to see that same speed. We're still kinda 'chasing' that wild card spot for The Chase, and each weekend is more important now. There aren't that many more opportunities, and we probably need to get a least two wins. Michigan is a good place for that to happen, since we have proved to run so strong there.


"Once again, we will team up with Eckrich and Operation Homefront this weekend. We have something fun planned, but it's a secret right now. These surprises and giving back to our military families are definitely my favorite part of the Eckrich-sponsored races. We have already done some cool things this year and it's so rewarding every time I get to see the surprised faces of the families who give everything for our country. They truly deserve to be honored and it's great to be a part of."


Comments from Eckrich Ford Fusion Crew Chief Todd Parrott:


"We showed a lot of speed at Michigan in June. We qualified fifth and ran in the top-10 to 15 for the majority of the race. Michigan is a wide track which makes for a lot of passing and good racing. They race two and three-wide in the corners here which is exciting to watch. We will have to have a good drive off the corners in order to pass here. Being Ford's home track, they take a lot of pride winning here, and we would love to be the team that takes them to victory lane."



The race dates are just two months apart, but the Sprint Cup Series' two visits to Michigan International Speedway are distinctly different.  David Ragan cites the rise in temperature in August as the cause of a more challenging race for the second visit, so the No. 34 Taco Bell team is preparing for a hotter, slicker racetrack as they gear up for Sunday's Pure Michigan 400.


Ragan earned a top-25 finish in the June visit to the two-mile oval, despite windy conditions that kept blowing trash on the car's grille and forcing some unscheduled pit stops to prevent overheating.


In 13 Sprint Cup starts at Michigan, Ragan has one top-five, two top-10 and five top-15 finishes, and hasn't finished outside the top 25 in his last six starts at the venue.


Comments from Taco Bell team driver David Ragan heading to Michigan:


"I think the Michigan racetrack has aged a little bit.  And Goodyear's found a good combination with the tire that allows us to be aggressive.  We don't have any tire issues.  But it's still fast.  We saw some 200-mile-an-hour speeds there in the spring.  The second race is always a little slower because it's hotter when you get into August in Michigan, and so it's always a little more challenging than the first weekend.


"We'll have to really be on our marks, see what we can take from that first weekend and adjust on our Ford Fusion a little bit.  It was great to see Ford get that win in the spring, so hopefully another Ford can back it up this weekend.  But again, that second race is a little slower, has a little less grip, and you just have to know that going in.


"The racing groove at Michigan has widened a little bit.  We really haven't gotten up to the wall, but I think the bottom two, two-and-a-half grooves are very racy.  A lot of guys were right on the white line running along the bottom.  It's only going to get better with time.  I don't think we're going to be in that third or fourth groove for this upcoming weekend, but I think in another year or so you'll see the four- or five-wide guys rim-riding around the top of that place before you know it."


You could say David Gilliland's first run at Michigan International Speedway this season fell a little flat.  That's because he suffered two flat tires over the course of the 400-mile race, yet still brought home a top-25 finish with a fast Long John Silver's Ford.


The No. 38 team will look for redemption during this weekend's Pure Michigan 400, bringing the same speed to the two-mile, D-shaped oval, and hopefully better luck with tires.


Gilliland has 15 Sprint Cup starts at the Brooklyn, Mich., venue, with a top finish of 17th (2007).


Comments from Long John Silver's team driver David Gilliland heading to Michigan:


"We ran very well at Michigan earlier.  We had a very fast car.  But I had two flat tires during the race, two right rear flat tires.  That's kind of odd for us.  But we still had a good run, and we're looking forward to going back there with exactly what we took from that track and building on it.  I feel like we learned a lot during the race.  I feel like we figured the tire out, and it's going to be the same tire going back.  So we have a lot of confidence going back into Michigan.


"I feel like the grooves of the racetrack opened up more last time.  I felt like we could run the bottom and the middle for sure.  That's progress since the repave a while ago.  And maybe this time it will open up another groove for us.


"Michigan is always an important race for our team because we're in Ford's backyard, and we always want to have a good showing for Ford Racing.  We usually get to meet with some of the Ford executives on race day and hear about some of the cool things going on there.  At Front Row Motorsports, I feel like we've made really good gains on our intermediate program this year, so I think we can have a really good showing with our Ford Fusion on Sunday."



riStar Motorsports driver Chad Hackenbracht will return to his home track on Saturdayto make his road course debut in the NASCAR Nationwide Series at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. It will be a homecoming for Hackenbracht, who grew up in New Philadelphia, Ohio, and whose No. 44 Toyota Camry will carry sponsorship from Ohio based Tastee Apple Inc.


The Inaugural Nationwide Children's Hospital 200 will be the first time many Nationwide Series drivers have sat behind the wheel on the 2.258 mile paved road course.  Fortunately for Hackenbracht, he recently had the opportunity to race at Mid-Ohio in a 1989 RX-7 in a local event sanctioned by NASA.  The added seat time at the unfamiliar track will give Hackenbracht an edge on the competition.  In addition to his time at Mid-Ohio, the 22-year-old recently participated in a road course test at Virginia International Raceway. 


This will not be the first time the Ohio native will meander through the turns at Mid-Ohio, but it will be his first time in a stock car with 40 other competitors.  Although he is considered a rookie in the Nationwide Series, he is not new to road course racing. He earned his first road course pole in 2012 at New Jersey Motorsports Park in the ARCA Racing Series and finished ninth there in 2011. 


This will not be the first time the Ohio native will meander through the turns at Mid-Ohio, but it will be his first time in a stock car with 40 other competitors.  Although he is considered a rookie in the Nationwide Series, he is not new to road course racing. He earned his first road course pole in 2012 at New Jersey Motorsports Park in the ARCA Racing Series and finished ninth there in 2011. 


"I'm looking forward to racing in my home state in front of family and friends," said Hackenbracht, who will have many of his supporters at Mid-Ohio this weekend. "I have raced in Ohio before at Toledo Speedway but I am really excited to race on a road course here. Road courses are fun to drive and to be a part of an Inaugural event is pretty cool."


Hackenbracht will have his family's business Tastee Apple, Inc. as his primary sponsor on the No. 44 Toyota Camry. 

On Wednesday, August 14th, Hackenbracht, along with fellow Nationwide Series driver Trevor Bayne and NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Ricky Stenhouse Jr., will make a special visit the Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, to visit with children being treated there.  Later in the week, Hackenbracht will participate in the Nationwide Series autograph session on Friday, August 16th, from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m.  The autograph session will take place on Championship Row.  Spaces are limited to the first 350 fans who get their wristbands early from the Nationwide Insurance display in the infield. 
The Inaugural Nationwide Children's Hospital 200 will be live on ESPN on Saturday August 17th with coverage beginning at 2 p.m.


Ryan Blaney (@RyanBlaney22), driver of the No. 29 Cooper Standard Ford F-150, will make his first ever career start at Michigan International Speedway in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) during Saturday afternoon's Michigan National Guard 200.


Previously in June of this year, Blaney started first and finished second after leading 64 laps in the 2013 Patriot Pumps 200 ARCA race at Michigan.


Blaney is coming off his second career NCWTS victory in his first ever start at Pocono Raceway two weekends ago in the Pocono Mountains 125.


It will be Blaney and his Cooper Standard team's first and only run on a two-mile track this season in the NCWTS. In Blaney's first two races this season on tracks of two-miles or greater, he has an average finish of 4.5.


Proud sponsor, Cooper Standard, will have over 2,000 employees on the ground at Michigan International Speedway this weekend to enjoy the race.


The No. 29 Cooper Standard team currently sits third in the NCWTS driver points standings, 62 points back from first and just 10 points back from second.


"I'm so proud of my team for performing the way they did a couple of weeks ago when we won at Pocono. I can't wait to get on the track at Michigan and back that win up. Our team has come a long way since day one this year and with that said, I'm confident we can run for this year's drivers' championship, but we have to take it one race at a time." Ryan Blaney 




Joey Logano (@JoeyLogano), driver of the No. 19 Draw-Tite Ford F-150, will make his third start for Brad Keselowski Racing (@TeamBKR) in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) during the Michigan National Guard 200 at Michigan International Speedway on Saturday, August 17th.


The Penske Racing driver will pilot the No. 19 entry in his fourth career NCWTS start. In Logano's previous two starts this season for BKR, he's finished second at Rockingham Speedway and 24th at Kansas Speedway, after battling a mechanical failure that took him out of contention early in the going. 


Saturday will be Logano's 15th career start at Michigan International Speedway and his first in the NCWTS, all 14 prior races coming in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) and NASCAR Nationwide Series (NNS). Logano has one win at Michigan, coming last season in the NNS, where he started third and won the 2012 Alliance Truck Parts 250.


Logano will also be competing in the No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford Fusion for Penske Racing on Sunday afternoon in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.


The No. 19 BKR team now sits seventh in the NCWTS owner points standings, 71 points back from first.


"I'm very excited about the opportunity Brad has given me this year to run a few races in one of his Trucks. Michigan is a fast, fast track and I can't wait to get out there and get these guys a win. It should be a very fun race and can't wait for the chance to hopefully get the Draw-Tite guys their first victory of 2013."  - Joey Logano



Richmond International Raceway has options available for fans to enhance their September 6 & 7 race day experiences with packages that include pre-race pit passes, exclusive driver appearances, food & beverage and much more.

Pit Stop Club ($2,300 per group of 8), includes:

  • Eight reserved grandstand seats in the Commonwealth Mezzanine on the frontstretch for the Saturday, September 7, Federated Auto Parts 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race
  • Guided garage tours for each guest
  • Pre-race pit passes for each guest
  • Exclusive Q&A with NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt Jr.
  • Two VIP parking passes
  • Admission to the Pit Stop Club hospitality area, from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m., which includes a full buffet with beverages – complimentary beer, wine, soft drinks and water

Torque Club ($800 per person), includes:

  • Reserved, outdoor stadium seat for both the Federated Auto Parts 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race and the Virginia529 College Savings 250 NASCAR Nationwide Series race
  • Exclusive Q&A with NASCAR drivers Marcos Ambrose (Friday); Kevin Harvick and Brad Keselowski (Saturday)
  • Pre-race pit pass for both days
  • All-inclusive gourmet food package
  • Unlimited soft drinks and water
  • Adult beverage tickets
  • Reserved parking
  • Access to the indoor, air-conditioned lounge

Veranda Club ($320 per person), includes:

  • Reserved seat in the top row of the Veranda grandstand for both the Federated Auto Parts 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race and the Virginia529 College Savings 250 NASCAR Nationwide Series race
  • Pre-race pit pass for Saturday, September 7
  • Exclusive Q&A with NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt Jr.
  • Guided garage tour on Saturday, September 7
  • VIP parking for both September 6 and September 7
  • Admission to the Pit Stop Club hospitality area, from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m., which includes a full buffet with beverages – complimentary beer, wine, soft drinks and water

For more information on these options, please call RIR’s Sales Office at 804-228-7611 or e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


Veteran driver Mike Bliss hit a milestone on Saturday as the NASCAR Nationwide Series entered Watkins Glen International for the second road course race of the year.  As one of 19 drivers to make 300 or more starts in the Series, Bliss and his crew were eager for a change in pace and luck.  Bliss prepared to play it safe at the 2.45-mile, 11-turn road course, high atop Seneca Lake in New York. Always an eventful outing, the Zippo 200 lived up to its reputation for Bliss and his TriStar crew, who overcame a broken track bar early in the race to finish 27th

Starting from the 25th position, Bliss was forced to take evasive action on the first lap of the 82 lap event.   Applying his brakes more than normal, entering the first turn to avoid a wreck, Bliss was left unscathed but the two-car pileup halted the field under the first full course caution on lap one. Deciding to stay on track to "feel out" whether he ran over debris or flat spotted his tires, Bliss restarted 21st.  

On lap 7, while running in the 20th position, Bliss radioed to Crew Chief Paul Clapprood "it feels like the track bar is broken". Driving his Toyota Camry to pit road, Bliss' crew surveyed the  car and made the observation that the track bar and mount were broken.

Bliss pulled the No. 19 into the garage so his crew could remount the track bar.  The crew made quick work of the repairs, returning Bliss to the track only 11 laps down in the 34th position.   

Bliss capitalized on the final two cautions to make slight adjustments to his Camry. During the final caution with 25 laps to go, Bliss made his final stop of the day.  Restarting  28th, Bliss was able to gain a position in the final laps to finish the Zippo 200 in the 27th position.

 "Again my guys worked really hard this weekend," said Bliss. "We were set up for a good race, but when something uncontrollable goes wrong there's not much you can do."

Following the Zippo 200, Bliss still maintains the 13th spot in the NASCAR Nationwide Series Driver Points Standing. Bliss and his crew will head into the third road course of the season at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course on Saturday, August 17th.

No right click

Please link the article.