Wednesday, Oct 04
Speedway Digest Staff

Speedway Digest Staff

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Kyle Busch and the No. 54 Monster Energy team not only won Saturday night’s History 300 NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway, but dominated it, leading 186 circuits of the 200-lap event. Already the winningest series driver, Busch recorded his 57th victory in 253 starts and his seventh career win at the 1.5-mile track – breaking a series win tie with veteran Mark Martin. The Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) No. 54 team continued their successful path with the first-place finish, recording six victories in 10 events run so far this year.

Busch accomplished the win from the second qualifying position, quickly taking the lead upon green-flag start. The Toyota team visited pit road three times and performed fast stops, making slight adjustments to Busch’s Camry, keeping him at the front of the field all day. Over the final 25 laps, Busch overcame several late race cautions, battling restarts and competitors with fresher tires. A late charge on Busch in the final laps by second-place finisher Kasey Kahne, kept Busch on his toes, however the 28-year old prevailed and brought home the checkered flag. Busch celebrated in style with a huge smoke show at the line, then expressed from victory lane, “This one is special.  We win a lot, but I love Charlotte -- it’s my favorite race track so I love winning here in Charlotte.  We’ve had some fast cars this year and I don’t think we’re done yet.”

Ten years after his Nationwide Series debut, Busch continues to prove his skills on his favorite track.  He was a Truck Series winner at the facility last week in his own Kyle Busch Motorsports Tundra race truck, his fifth victory in that circuit at Charlotte. Sunday he looks to make it a clean sweep of all three series events with a win in the Coca-Cola 600. Busch has finished in the top eight in 10 of the last 11 Sprint Cup races at the Charlotte track but has never won in that series.

Upon completion of victory lane activities Busch described his day to the media, “Mark (Martin) -- he’s really, really good in the Nationwide Series and there’s a lot of things that I’m beating him at, which is cool for me.  He might be watching at home.  This one means a lot to beat a guy like Mark Martin, Jack Ingram and all the Nationwide guys that have set previous records before.  This is cool for us.  It’s great for this team -- all of Joe Gibbs Racing and especially for Monster Energy and Toyota.  I can’t say enough about Nationwide Insurance and of course the fans.  It’s fun to come out here to Charlotte -- I love this place.  This is my favorite race track and it has led to a lot of Nationwide and Truck wins for me, but we have yet to win a Cup race here.  I feel like this weekend is a good weekend for us and we’ll dig in on that tomorrow with 600 miles.”

Busch continued, “The car was really, really good.  I tell you what, those late cautions there were throwing us for a little bit of a loop.  You had to keep up with the restarts and who was lining up behind you and all that stuff in order to get good ones.  I felt like the last two I got were pretty good.  All in all it was a great day for us.”

The No. 54 Monster Energy team owned by J.D. Gibbs maintains first place in the Owner’s Point standings, now leading the No. 7 of Kelley Earnhardt-Miller by 34 points.

Kahne, Joey Logano, Kyle Larson and Kevin Harvick filled out the top-five finishing positions. There were seven caution periods for 33 laps of the race along with nine lead changes across five drivers.


Michael Self didn't take the lead until late in Saturday’s NAPA Know How 125, but once he did, he checked out from the field en route to his second straight NASCAR K&N Pro Series West win at Brainerd International Raceway.

Self nursed home his car with a flat left rear tire and still was able to outdistance runner-up Derek Thorn by .952 seconds and more than 20 seconds ahead of third-place Greg Pursley.

The Park City, Utah, driver was able to avoid the issues that plagued his top challengers long enough to pick up his fourth career win. All of his victories have come in the last 13 races, beginning in last year's inaugural visit to the 2.5-mile road course north of Minneapolis.

Self led the last 16 laps after passing Cameron Hayley on a restart. Hayley, who led twice for 10 laps, subsequently pitted for a flat tire. Andrew Ranger won the Coors Light Pole Award earlier in the day but also spun because of a tire issue in the final laps as he was closing in on Self. And points leader Thorn led a race-high 24 laps but was unable to muster a challenge to Self in the end.

Rookie Dylan Lupton finished fourth and Hayley fifth.

Thorn maintained his points lead by eight over Hayley and nine over Pursley. Self is fourth -- 15 behind Thorn and one ahead of Sergio Pena.

Dale Quarterley was sixth Saturday, followed by Taylor Cuzick, Dylan Hutchison, Pena and Ranger.

The NASCAR K&N Pro Series West will next race on Friday, June 7 in the Casey’s General Store 150, the first of two combination races with the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East at Iowa Speedway in Newton, Iowa.


Eric McClure and the No. 14 Hefty®/Reynolds® team headed to Charlotte Motor Speedway looking to improve on last year’s 32nd and 23rd-place finishes.  Unfortunately, the Virginia driver was involved in a late-race accident that forced him to spend several laps on pit road receiving repairs. In the end, the TriStar Motorsports team finished the History 300 as follows:

30th:  Eric McClure, No. 14 Reynolds Wrap®/Hefty® Camry

Starting the race from the 32nd position, McClure quickly advanced to 29th by the completion of lap two.

Battling a tight-handling car, McClure brought his Toyota to pit road during the first caution period on lap 38 for four scuff tires with an air-pressure adjustment, a track-bar adjustment, and fuel.  When the stop was complete, the silver and blue Camry was scored in the 31st position. 

Over the next 30 laps, the car’s tight-handling condition continued to worsen. As the event’s third caution flag waved on lap 86 for debris, crew chief John Monsam called his driver to pit road for four tires with an air-pressure adjustment, a wedge adjustment, and fuel.  When the race resumed on lap 91, McClure was scored in the 32nd position where he remained until green flag pit stops began on lap 141.

Running as high as 27th during the round of green flag pit stops, McClure was eventually forced to give up the position to come down pit road for a routine four tire and fuel service.  Upon exiting pit road, NASCAR informed the team that McClure needed to return to pit road to serve a pass through penalty for speeding. As McClure was reentering the track after serving the penalty, the event’s fourth caution flag waved.  Having just visited pit road, the team decided to stay on the track where they were scored in the 31st position when the race resumed on lap 157.

Less than ten laps later, McClure was involved in an accident when he slowed to avoid a spinning car.  A car from behind didn’t slow down to avoid the accident and hit McClure from behind causing a chain reaction, thus damaging the rear bumper and right front fender of McClure’s car.  After spending seven laps on pit road repairing the damage, he returned to competition and salvaged a 30th-place finish.

As a result, McClure slipped one position to 18th in the NASCAR Nationwide Series Driver standings.

Driver, Eric McClure Quotes:

“I’m just very disappointed.  We played catch up with the car all weekend. We started the race well enough, but just couldn't quite get over the hump.  Track position was so important and we just kept finding ourselves behind where we needed to be and around people that we didn't need to be, which ended up tearing up our car. I got a penalty on pit road and we slowed to miss the wreck and the 25 hit us from about 20 car lengths back and that about sums up our day."


Race Highlights:

  • Richard Childress Racing teammates finished fifth (Kevin Harvick), 14th (Austin Dillon), 15th (Brian Scott) and 31st (Dakoda Armstrong).
  • Dillon is seventh in the Nationwide Series driver championship point standings, trailing leader Regan Smith by 55 markers, while Scott is eighth in the standings, 63 points behind Smith.
  • The No. 33 Chevrolet team ranks sixth in the Nationwide Series owner championship point standings, with the No. 3 team 10th in the standings and the No. 2 team 12th.
  • According to NASCAR's Loop Data Statistics, Harvick was one of four drivers who spent the entire race running in the top-15 and made 43 Quality Passes, ranking him fourth.
  • Dillon and Harvick ranked seventh and eighth in Average Running Position (7.125 and 7.920, respectively), while Scott ranked 10th (9.9).
  • Armstrong made 44 Green Flag Passes.
  • Kyle Busch earned his sixth victory of the 2013 Nationwide Series season and was followed to the finish line by Kasey Kahne, Joey Logano, Kyle Larson and Harvick.
  • The next Nationwide Series race is the Dover 200 at Dover International Speedway on Saturday, June 1. The 11th race of the 2013 season is scheduled to be televised live on ESPN beginning at 2:30 p.m. Eastern Time and broadcast live on the Motor Racing Network and Sirius XM NASCAR Satellite Radio.




Brian Scott Finishes 15th After Strong Qualifying Effort at Charlotte Motor Speedway


Brian Scott and the No. 2 Shore Lodge team brought home a 15th-place finish at Charlotte Motor Speedway after battling a tight-handling condition throughout the 300-mile event. The Boise, Idaho, native remained strong early in the race, climbing as high as third, while running consistent lap times. As the laps wore on, trash on the grille caused water and oil temperatures to climb as Scott continued to battle the tight-handling condition. On lap 141, Scott brought his No. 2 Shore Lodge Camaro to the attention of his pit crew for four tires, fuel and a chassis adjustment under green-flag conditions to help alleviate the handling issues. Multiple caution periods took place during the final laps, which didn't play in favor of the No. 2 team as their car was better on long green-flag runs. Scott lined up 14th for the final restart with 12 laps remaining and ultimately brought home a 15th-place-finish.


Start - 4                       Finish - 15                   Laps Led - 0                            Points - 8th



"We had a great qualifying effort and started off the race strong and in contention for the win. As the race wore on, we fought a tight car all day. Towards the end we needed a long green-flag run to gain spots and it just didn't go our way. We need to regroup and move on to Dover (International Raceway). I'm excited to get back to Dover, it's a place where I've always run strong and have my first (Camping World) Truck Series win. "




Austin Dillon Earns Top 15 Finish at Charlotte Motor Speedway


Austin Dillon drove Richard Childress Racing's No. 3 AdvoCare Chevrolet to a 14th-place finish in the History 300 NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Saturday afternoon. The Welcome, N.C. native started the 200-lap race from the pole position, his first pole award of the 2013 season, which he earned earlier in the day. After leading the field to the green flag, Dillon settled into the top 10. He reported to crew chief Danny Stockman that the No. 3 Chevrolet handled on the tight side early in a run. Several caution periods provided the RCR crew opportunities to work on the car's balance through a series of track bar and air pressure adjustments, which helped Dillon work his way into the third position by lap 157. Still not quite satisfied with the car's handling, Dillon was scored in the eighth position when he was directed to pit road during a lap 168 caution period so the pit crew could make one final round of adjustments. With several other teams opting not to pit, The No. 3 team lost valuable track position and Dillon was positioned 13th when green-flag racing resumed on lap 172. He fell as far back as 17th before battling back to 14th for the race's finish and is now seventh in the point standings.


Start - 1                       Finish - 14                   Laps Led - 1                            Points - 7th                           


"Our No. 3 AdvoCare Chevrolet was strong today. We just needed to find speed for the first five laps of a run because we struggled with a tight-handling condition at the beginning of a run and that hurt us at the end of the race. Strategy has not gone our way so far this season, but we are still proud of our pole effort this afternoon and the fact we had a strong car throughout the day."






Armstrong Finishes 31st After Involvement in Late-Race Incident at Charlotte Motor Speedway


Making his second NASCAR Nationwide Series start with Richard Childress Racing, Dakoda Armstrong looked to be in position to earn another top-15 finish before a late-race incident took him out of contention Saturday at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Qualifying 19th earlier in the day, Armstrong maintained a top-20 running position for the first 150 laps of the 200-lap event while battling a loose-handling No. 21 WinField Chevrolet Camaro. The crew made several chassis adjustments during the ensuing pit stops in an attempt to remedy the loose condition. The 21-year-old driver communicated to the team that the car was improving late during green-flag runs, so crew chief Shane Wilson elected to keep his driver out during the next two caution periods, allowing Armstrong to restart sixth on lap 172. The caution-flag flew just seven laps later and this time Wilson called the Indiana native to pit road for four tires, fuel and a track bar adjustment. Restarting 17th, Armstrong looked to be in position to work his way back toward the front of the field when an on-track incident with the No. 43 at lap 183 caused the No. 21 machine to make contact with the outside wall. Heavy damage to the WinField Chevrolet prevented Armstrong from finishing the race, relegating him to a 31st-place finish.


Start - 19                            Finish - 31                             Laps Led - 0                Points - N/A



"It was an unfortunate end to the day we were having. The Richard Childress Racing guys did a great job giving me a solid WinField Camaro, especially on long runs. I don't know what happened to cause the contact; I was as low as I could go and tried to give him as much room as I could. Proud of the run we had, just disappointed it ended the way it did."



CC 33 Hunt Brothers Pizza     

Kevin Harvick Earned Top-Five Finish at Charlotte Motor Speedway


Kevin Harvick and the No. 33 Hunt Brothers Pizza Chevrolet team earned a fifth-place finish in the NASCAR Nationwide Series event Saturday afternoon at Charlotte Motor Speedway. The California native started the 200-lap event from the 16th spot and began working his way forward, breaking into the top 10 by lap 37.  Battling a tight-handling Chevrolet throughout the majority of the race, Harvick was able to maintain a position within the top 10 while the pit crew worked on the car's handling during scheduled pit stops on laps 40, 88,145 and 169. The Richard Childress Racing driver worked his way up to as high as third toward the end of the event, but was shuffled back to sixth during the final restart on lap 189. Harvick was able to pick up one position during the final laps, crossing the finish line fifth. 


Start - 16          Finish - 5         Laps Led - 0          Owner Points - 6



"We had a tough time getting the handling of the Hunt Brothers Pizza Chevrolet where we needed it to be, but the team worked really hard throughout the race and we were able to salvage a decent finish."



Kyle Larson kept his momentum from Darlington Raceway alive, coming from the middle of the field to finish fourth in his first ever race at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Larson's No. 32 VIZIO/Hulu Plus Chevrolet went from loose to tight in the initial runs, but once the team dialed in the handling of his Camaro, the 20-year-old broke into the top five, earning his second-consecutive top-10 finish.


Taking the green flag from the 18th position, Larson began the History 300 with a loose condition. However, the No. 32 Chevrolet quickly transitioned to tight on landing, putting Larson 16th when the first caution flag of the day was waved on lap 40. Crew chief Trent Owens called his rookie driver into the pits for four tires, fuel and both track-bar and air-pressure adjustments, putting him 14th when racing resumed.


Larson battled his way to ninth 10 laps after the lap 45 restart, working his way up to seventh before a caution on lap 88. Larson reported that he was a little tight on the throttle at the end of the run, and the No. 32 team bolted on four fresh Goodyears while providing fuel and chassis adjustments. Maintaining his position, Larson took the green from seventh.


The field would see an extremely long green-flag run, and Larson kept his VIZIO/Hulu machine in the top 10 throughout. Green-flag pit stops began on lap 141, with Larson scored in the ninth spot. Owens called his driver into the pits on lap 144, opting once again for four tires, fuel and slight chassis adjustments. Once green-flag pit stops had cycled through, Larson remained in the ninth spot, and he gained one more position before the yellow waved on lap 154.


When the field went green on lap 158, Larson had an impressive restart, flying up to third place before the caution was displayed on lap 166. The crew made their final stop of the day, opting for two tires and fuel. With several competitors remaining on the racetrack, Larson took the green in ninth.


The field experienced two more yellow flags in the closing laps, putting Larson in the eighth position for the final restart of the race. Larson capitalized on the outside line for his restart, immediately jumping into fifth. The Sunoco Rookie of the Year candidate gained one more position in the final laps, crossing the finish line in fourth place. The finish garnered Larson both the Sunoco Rookie of the Race and Mobil 1 Driver of the Race awards.


"I'm a momentum guy, so when I do well, it seems like I keep doing well week to week," said Larson. "We started something good in Darlington, and I'm really proud of what we did today. We started really far back and didn't move forward too much in the beginning, but by the third run we got really good. On that fourth restart when I went from eighth to third, that's when I realized just how good we were. When I was running fourth there at the end, I was really hoping to get another restart, because I think if they closed us up with me on the outside, I really would have had something for the leaders. Either way, I'll take a fourth-place finish any day. It was really cool to have VIZIO and Hulu Plus on board this week; hopefully we can keep up the momentum for them next week in Dover."


KOLBY GARRISON, SPEEDWAY STAR: Kolby Garrison’s smile said it all. As she talked to TV and radio reporters in the media center Saturday at Charlotte Motor Speedway, she nervously fingered the leash of her service dog, Mo. The grand prize winner of the Speedway Superstar competition hosted by CMS, Garrison sang the national anthem during today’s HISTORY 300 pre-race.

“This is the biggest venue I’ve ever sung at,” said Garrison, 24, her face lit up by a wide smile. “It’s especially an honor because it’s Memorial Day weekend, and being able to sing the national anthem for this particular race, it’s amazing, especially since NASCAR is my favorite sport. I am amazed and overwhelmed and so thankful.”

Garrison is a lifelong NASCAR fan, but because she is blind, she has never actually seen a race.

Perhaps that’s why she’s more excited about meeting the radio announcers than the NASCAR drivers.

“That’s pretty much how she watches NASCAR on a weekly basis during the season,” Kolby’s dad Bob Garrison said of her interest in radio personalities. “We’ve had a great time with just about everything you’ve got here. I told her when we leave here she’s done everything short of actually getting in one of these cars and driving.”

“And I said I didn’t think they’d let me do that,” Kolby interjected, laughing.

Instead she’s relished the opportunity to meet the men and women who have brought racing to life for this longtime fan, who traces her love of the sport back to family.

“I actually ended up getting Sirium XM satellite radio so I wouldn’t miss a race, because they took away the coverage on the local station I used to listen on,” the Greensboro, N.C. native said. “I just love everybody at MRN and PRN, and Claire B. Lang does an amazing job at bringing the sport to the level that I’m able to understand what’s going on and get the details – just like being there.”

Hearing Kolby single her out made Lang, a veteran racing reporter, feel a tug on her heart.

“Meeting Kolby made my day,” Lang said. “Since my job is to tell the story of the sport, to paint a picture over the radio, her saying that is the biggest honor ever.”

Kolby’s visit to the race track helped her more clearly define the picture that Lang and the many other radio reporters have helped form in her head.

“Actually being at the track has brought everything full circle, and I was able to experience the sounds and the smells of NASCAR,” Kolby said. “I had no idea the pit wall was smooth. And I didn’t know the cars went counterclockwise.”

After a full morning of taking in Charlotte Motor Speedway on race day, Kolby capped off her afternoon by performing a near-flawless rendition of the national anthem. And then she smiled.

RICK DALE DESIGNS HISTORY 300 TROPHY: The winner of Saturday’s HISTORY 300 NASCAR Nationwide Series race will earn a one-of-a-kind trophy designed by Rick Dale of HISTORY’s “American Restoration.” Dale and his wife Kelly will present the trophy to the winner.

Dale was last year’s Honorary Starter for the HISTORY 300 and presented a trophy to winner Brad Keselowski, who commented that Dale should have designed the trophy. The rest, as they say, is history.

The trophy features a 1940 Ford Coupe steering wheel, which represents the beginning of stock car racing; two gas pump nozzles from a 1936 North Carolina highway gas station on Route 18, frequented by moonshine runners; and a Custer Car gear, that symbolizes the first go-kart a child builds when dreaming about becoming a race car driver, rounds out the trophy’s base.

“I’m very proud of it.” said Dale. “I’m just honored to have been a part of this. It took us about two months to design. We tied it all together.”

Also making the rounds with Dale were the hosts of HISTORY’s “Counting Cars,” Danny “The Count” Koker and Kevin Mack, who are serving as Grand Marshals for this afternoon’s race.

“Being here today is a bit surreal,” said Koker. “It’s a thrill for me. I’ve been to NASCAR events but have never had the pleasure of doing it from this angle, and seeing behind the scenes everything that is going on. The show is seeing the cars running around the track, but man, when you step inside this whole big beautiful place…’s a city inside. It’s amazing what goes on here.”

HARVICK SURPRISES SOLDIERS: Kevin Harvick surprised the military men and women of Fort Bragg (N.C.) Thursday with a special visit to the Warrior Transition Battalion’s (WTB) Soldier and Family Assistance Center. The center provides primary care and case management for warriors who have suffered injury or illness while serving as a member of the U.S. Army.

“I’m always at a loss for words for how to express my utmost gratitude to the men and women who serve our country,” Harvick said. “I know the entire NASCAR community is behind me when I say I can’t thank these individuals enough for their dedication and service.”

While at Fort Bragg, Harvick presented the installation with the firesuit he wore while driving the No. 29 Budweiser Armed Forces Chevrolet to victory in the 2011 Coca-Cola 600.

Harvick’s visit to Fort Bragg was a part of Budweiser’s “Red, White and Blue Summer” initiative, which benefits Folds of Honor Foundation. Since 2010, Anheuser-Busch has raised more than $5 million for the Folds of Honor Foundation. Harvick’s No. 29 Budweiser Folds of Honor Chevrolet will sport a special patriotic paint scheme this weekend that reflects Budweiser’s limited-edition red, white and blue packaging and features the Folds of Honor Foundation on the rear deck lid and TV panel.


BRIAN FRANCE DISCUSSES SPORT: NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France visited the Charlotte Motor Speedway media center Saturday for what amounted to a “state of the sport” discussion and question-and-answer session with the media, touching on everything from the evolution of the Gen 6 car to the Drive for Diversity to the Air Titan.

Despite discussing many subjects, France said his main point in addressing the media was to highlight the recent hiring of Gene Stefanyshyn as Vice President of Innovation and Racing Development. France said Stefanyshyn will be based at NASCAR’s Research and Development Center in Concord and will focus on improving the racing product and fan experience.

“What we’ve decided is to get more separation between inspecting the cars and running the races every weekend and developing the rules packages of the future and other related items,” France said. “And we’ll be going in a direction … that we’ll be using a lot more science than art in establishing the very thing that matters most, which is safety of course, but also putting ourselves in a position to have the closest, tightest competition possible. And that’s what Gene’s task is. It’s harder than ever to do, by the way. But that’s our goal; that’s our mission.”

France then addressed questions from the media, including adding new tracks to the schedule (“We like our mix of historic big events at venues we race year in and year out.”), the possibility of future Double Duty feasibility (“It’s harder to do now … We don’t have an active discussion about that.”), the recent reduction of penalties possibly undermining the series’ authority (“That’s what you have when you have a true appellate way to resolve differences.”), an assessment of the Gen 6 car (“It’s good; Do I think we can improve the quality of racing in terms of our core goals? Sure.”), the possibility of moving the fall Charlotte race to Las Vegas (“They have not asked us to look at realigning an event, and they certainly could; my preference is to keep the event in Charlotte.”), and the availability of the Air Titan (“It’s available for every track; the cost to implement it at every track is an issue”), among others.


Austin Dillon (No. 3 AdvoCare Chevrolet): “The temperatures out there are pretty hot. So we’ll just try and do whatever we can to make sure our car is balanced, and stays the same as it is. It’s a good car. The guys did a good job of sticking to a plan. And that is what it is all about here, and this place can really trick you in a heartbeat. With the temperature changes, you saw a lot of people loose. We tried to stick to our game plan, and it worked out for us. (How did you pull off a lap like that?) I just stayed in the fuel. The person who stays in it the longest and gets off the corner the best, always does. So that’s a good one for us here at Charlotte and home.”


MERL HAMILTON WINS PLUMMER AWARD: Merl Hamilton, Concord assistant city manager, received the 2013 Tony Plummer Excellence in Service Award Saturday at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Speedway officials created the Plummer award to honor someone committed to exceeding the customer’s expectations and success in that pursuit. The award is named for Tony Plummer, who worked as a Windstream technician for 43 years – a large portion of which he serviced the speedway’s account – before passing away last March.

“It’s an honor to have my name associated with someone like Tony; it’s very humbling,” Hamilton said. “I know that there are very hard working people at Charlotte Motor Speedway who really concerned about customer service, and that’s what we’re concerned about at the city. It means something to me to get that kind of award from folks who I know are all about customer service.”

Hamilton has worked with the speedway for a dozen years both in his current role and previously as the chief of police.

The inaugural award was presented to Plummer’s widow last May.

SOME GAVE ALL: After more than half a century hosting the country’s largest Memorial Day weekend celebration, it’s well known that Charlotte Motor Speedway’s home colors will be red, white and blue on a backdrop of camouflage for this stirring Coca-Cola 600 weekend salute to our nation’s active and retired military heroes.

Below is a snapshot of the military programs, tributes and salutes taking place this weekend.

PATRIOT PARTNERS: Businesses and fans are helping to bring up to troops to the speedway for the Coca-Cola 600 through this program, which sponsors buses to bring troops from Fort Bragg in Fayetteville, N.C., Fort Jackson in Columbia, S.C. and Shaw Air Force Base in Sumter, S.C.

Companies participating include Coca-Cola, Toyota, Bass Pro Shops, Smithfield, Goodyear, Bojangles', HEAR USA, Thunder Road Harley Davidson, Cross Roads Harley Davidson, Ohio Logistics, Precision Walls and more.

SPECIAL LUNCHEON TO FEED 10,000 TROOP, FAMILIES: Up to 10,000 troops and family members will be taken to zMAX Dragway for a special celebratory lunch provided by Papa John’s. This special event will be emceed by HLN's Robin Meade, who will later sing the national anthem for the Coca-Cola 600, and will include special appearances by Lt. Col. Oliver North (ret.), NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers Kurt Busch and Trevor Bayne, Charlotte Motor Speedway President and General Manager Marcus Smith, and “Papa” John Schnatter himself. The event will be held at zMAX Dragway from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. and also feature live music and a drag racing exhibition with Smith and Papa John.

‘WELCOME HOME OUR TROOPS’ PRE-RACE SHOW: This stirring program includes a performance of "I Will Give My All" by country music artist Jamie Tate and the 82nd Airborne All-American Chorus, a bagpipe performance of "Amazing Grace" by the Charlotte Fire Department Pipe Band and "Taps" played by a Fort Bragg bugler. There will also be a 21-gun salute from the Fort Bragg Firing Squad.

Fans will be able to salute the troops when 600 soldiers from Fort Bragg walk through the grandstands to the infield to participate in pre-race ceremonies. Medal of Honor recipients Bob Patterson (Vietnam), Gary Littrell (Vietnam) and Walter Joseph Marm (Vietnam) will be recognized on the pre-race stage.

Additionally, Lt. Col. Oliver North, a combat-decorated U.S. Marine and the host of "War Stories" on Fox News Channel, will receive the Stonewall Jackson award from Charlotte Motor Speedway officials for his unwavering support of the military, decades of service to his country and a continued commitment to service.

North will also deliver a moving "State of Freedom" speech during pre-race festivities and sign autographs in The Speedway Club for a limited number of military members. The address and the salute for the military portion of the pre-race show is presented by NRA Life of Duty.

Sgt. Aaron Causey, a veteran of both the US Air Force and Army, will serve as Grand Marshal for the Coca-Cola 600. Causey was injured in Afghanistan in 2011 by an IED that he was trying to disarm, taking both of his legs and two fingers, in addition to leaving many other physical and emotional scars.

Finally, 43 servicemen who have recently returned from duty will be paired up with the pit crews of the 43 drivers in the Coca-Cola 600, helping to set up the pit box and staying in the team’s pit area through the first part of the race.


Drivers in the 97th Indianapolis 500 received final instructions and awards Saturday, May 25 in the public drivers' meeting, the final activity at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway before the race Sunday, May 26.

The Indianapolis 500 is scheduled to start at noon (ET) Sunday. The race will be broadcast live on ABC, the IMS Radio Network, including XM 211 and Sirius 211, with pre-race shows beginning at 11 a.m.

To begin the meeting, Al Speyer, who is retiring as executive director, Firestone Racing, was presented with the Andy Granatelli Unsung Hero Award. This award is presented every year to someone within the industry that has advanced the sport of auto racing.

Three-time Indianapolis 500 winner Dario Franchitti and his team owner, Chip Ganassi of Target Chip Ganassi Racing, each accepted a "Baby Borg" trophy from James Verrier, president and CEO of BorgWarner, for being the winning driver and car owner at the 96th Indianapolis 500. The Baby Borg is a miniature replica of the famed Borg-Warner Trophy, which bears the bas-relief likeness, name and average speed of every Indianapolis 500 winner. Franchitti also was honored and presented with the Champ of Champs Award.

Verrier then presented a "Baby Borg" to Parnelli Jones in honor of the 50th anniversary of his Indianapolis 500 win in 1963.
Speyer then presented Franchitti and Ganassi with their winning driver and car owner's ring, an honor Speyer was granted this year as a salute to his years of dedication and service to Indy-car racing.

Deb Osza, general manager of Milk Promotion Services of Indiana, presented a plaque with an American Dairy Association milk bottle to Franchitti for his victory in 2012.

Herff Jones rings were given to all 33 drivers in this year's starting field and one special guest at this year's Indianapolis 500 - San Francisco 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh, who drive the 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Pace Car on Sunday.

Also honored during the 30-minute public drivers' meeting were 2012 IZOD IndyCar Series champion Ryan Hunter-Reay, 2012 Firestone Indy Lights champion Tristan Vautier and 2012 Firestone Freedom 100 winner Esteban Guerrieri. Schmidt Peterson Motorsports owner Sam Schmidt, who fielded Guerrieri's winning car, accepted the award on behalf of Guerrieri, who was unable to attend due to racing commitments.

Beaux Barfield, IZOD IndyCar Series race director, concluded the driver's meeting by discussing race rules and guidelines with the drivers.



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