Friday, Dec 08
Speedway Digest Staff

Speedway Digest Staff

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Kurt Busch and the Furniture Row Racing team executed a solid performance and brought home a third-place finish in Sunday’s Sprint Cup Series race at Pocono Raceway.
The result inched Busch closer to becoming the first driver with a single-car team to make the Chase. He is currently in 13th place, 11 points out of 10th, which would guarantee him a spot in the 10-race playoffs for the Sprint Cup championship. Busch came into the race in 14th place and 13 points out of 10th.
“It was a championship-effort-type of day,” said Busch, who was celebrating his 35th birthday Sunday. “We ran up front and put ourselves in position to win. It’s exciting for us because we are in this mix of trying to race our way into the Chase.
“There’s a number of teams within striking distance of making the Chase. It’s very competitive out there and you have to do it with top-five finishes like this. No one is going to back into the Chase, you’re going to have to earn it.”
The result was Busch’s fifth top-five and ninth top-10 of the season – both team season records for the Denver-based Furniture Row Racing.
“We executed really well today with pit strategy – two tires, four tires, and to be in position at the end,” stated Busch. “The way we made changes to the car, it just seems like the team is flowing really well, and I’m excited for this portion of the season.
“What I am happy about is that this group of guys – we’re small – but we can shoot from the hip and make up a lot of ground by being aggressive by going back to a track a second time knowing exactly what we did wrong the first time around. Even though we didn’t win, I feel good about the third-place finish.”
Busch started the 160-lap, 400-mile race from the fifth position and had his No. 78 Furniture Row/Denver Mattress Chevrolet running up front for the majority of the race on the 2.5-mile triangular track.
When the race was restarted for the final time with two laps remaining, Busch was in fourth place and managed to hustle his car through traffic to gain one spot when he took the checkered flag.
The race winner was Kasey Kahne. Rounding out the top-10 in order were: Jeff Gordon, Busch, Ryan Newman, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano, Kyle Busch, Tony Stewart and Greg Biffle.
The race had 27 lead changes among 14 drivers and there were nine cautions for 35 laps.
The next Sprint Cup Series event is the second and final road race of the season – Sunday, Aug. 11 at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International.

Country music star Brantley Gilbert will perform a pre-race concert in Chicagoland Speedway’s infield prior to the GEICO 400, the first race in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. While all fans with a Sunday race ticket will be able to enjoy the concert from the grandstands, Pit and Infield Fan Zone Experiencepass holders will be able to walk down to the infield to enjoy No. 1 hits such as “Country Must Be Country Wide” and “You Don’t Know Her Like I Do.”

“Growing up around racing has given me a unique appreciation for what it means to be involved with the first race in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup,” said Scott Borchetta, president and CEO of Big Machine Records. “Anytime we have an opportunity to bring someone as talented as Brantley Gilbert, to a race of this magnitude to play in front of such an incredible group of fans that NASCAR has, we’re thrilled to do so, and I know Brantley will put on an amazing show.”  

Gilbert released his sophomore album, Halfway to Heaven, in March of 2010, the follow-up to his debut national release, A Modern Day Prodigal Son. The sophomore effort peaked at #2 on iTunes Country Album Charts, and at #1 on the Billboard Heatseekers Album Chart for all genres. In February of 2011, Gilbert signed with Big Machine Label Group’s imprint The Valory Music Co. Brantley Gilbert’s first single on The Valory Music Co. debuted in the Top 40 at Country radio on its official impact date – an impressive feat by a new artist. Gilbert is currently in the studio working to finish his third album.

Though season ticket holders receive complimentary Pit and Infield Fan Zone Experience passes, they will also be available for purchase to non-season ticket holders. For $50, fans can purchase the pass for Sunday’s GEICO 400 that will put them close to the stage as Brantley performs.

“As one of our sport’s most anticipated events, the kick-off to the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup deserves one of music’s most exciting acts, and Brantley Gilbert certainly fits that mold,” said Scott Paddock, Chicagoland Speedway president. “We have a history of top-talent performing here and by continuing to provide our fans with first-class entertainment, along with the GEICO 400, a playoff caliber race that has paved the way for back-to-back Champions, we are confident that our guests will have the experience of a lifetime this September.”


RAB Racing and the No. 99 ToyotaCare Camry driven by Alex Bowman came into the Iowa Speedway looking for redemption after a top 10 run at the track in June was cut short by an incident. A track where Bowman had raced a USAC midget, visited victory lane in the ARCA Series, and now racing in the NASCAR Nationwide Series.


On track activity began on Friday with two sessions of practice for Bowman and the No. 99, the team picked up where they left off from the June race and recorded the 5th fastest lap in the first session, and the 4th fastest lap in the second session. This raw speed right off the trailer transferred into qualifying on Saturday, Bowman recorded the 3rd fastest lap at an average speed of 134.823, only six one-thousands of a second off of the pole.


Throughout the U.S. Cellular 250, Bowman and the No. 99 ran solidly in the top 10 with consistency on the track and consistency in their pit stops. Crew chief Chris Rice adjusted the car throughout the night with changing track temperatures and conditions. Initially fighting a loose race car in the early laps, then as the track cooled and the sun set a tight race car, and in the closing laps the team battled a loose race car once again. With only 22 laps to go the caution flag flew and Chris Rice made the bold call to come into the pits and get four fresh tires for the end of the race. That call paid off as Bowman restarted in the 13th position and quickly moved through the field in the closing laps to finish in the 7th position. The top 10 finish was the team's third top 10 in the past six races, and the 11th top 15 finish of the 20 race season.


Alex Bowman: What a great night here at Iowa Speedway, a track where I love coming to as it offers itself to a lot of multi groove racing. We had a really good ToyotaCare Camry, our pit crew picked up a few spots throughout the night, but the star of the race is my crew chief Chris Rice. The track changed so much from when we started the race in the sun, to where it ended with cool conditions at night that he really had to be on his toes all race long and keep me in the top 10. With that being said, we came down and took four new tires with 20 something laps to go and he made a wedge adjustment that took us from a top 10 car to a top 5 car. We restarted 13th and made our way up to 7th before just running out of laps to get into the top 5, but it was a lot of fun battling side by side and sometimes three wide in the closing laps.


The 7th place finish allowed Bowman to maintain the 11th place in driver point standings, and Robby Benton still occupies the 15th position in owner point standings. The next race on the NASCAR Nationwide schedule is the Zippo 200 at Watkins Glen International on Saturday August 10th. The event will be televised live on ABC.


RAB Racing PR

RAB Racing and the No. 29 U.S. Cellular, American Ethanol Toyota Camry driven by Kenny Wallace came into the Iowa Speedway for the U.S. Cellular 250 and Wallace's 896th NASCAR start. This would mark Wallace's fourth start with RAB Racing in the 2013 NASCAR Nationwide season, and second start at Iowa Speedway this year piloting the same chassis No. 40 which he finished 13th with in June.


On track activity began on Friday with two sessions of practice for Wallace and the No. 29, the team worked on several long run situations and Wallace was extremely pleased with the handling of his car. In the first session Wallace recorded the second fastest lap, and in the second and final session of practice recorded the ninth fastest lap. Wallace qualified the No. 29 U.S. Cellular, American Ethanol Toyota Camry in the 12th position.


As soon as the green flag flew Wallace picked up a loose condition and was forced to give up track position, relegating him to outside the top 15. The time crew chief Keith Hinkein spent working on long runs in practice paid off, as the tires wore off Wallace began to come back through the field to where he started the race. On lap 59 the team came in to pit for four tires and adjustments to help Wallace on short runs, but had to come back into the pits for an unscheduled pit stop due to a bad vibration in the front tires. The team changed tires again and the vibration went away, but Wallace had lost 2 laps in the process and gone back to the race track in the 28th position. Although with the misfortune Wallace never gave up throughout the night and picked up six more positions on the track to finish the U.S. Cellular 250 in the 22nd position.


Kenny Wallace: Well it wasn't the day I and my RAB Racing team were hoping of, we had a really fast car that we were all confident in but just didn't have the luck to go with it. It was a pleasure to have U.S. Cellular on my race car, as well as having U.S. Cellular as the entitlement sponsor for the race at Iowa Speedway. It was a lot of fun visiting the U.S. Cellular stores throughout the week and signing autographs for everyone at their Loyalty Lounge, and I even got beat a few times in go karts but it was all a lot of fun and U.S. Cellular did a great job in planning all the events surrounding he U.S. Cellular 250. It was also great to have my friends at American Ethanol on the car this weekend, especially in a place like Iowa where corn farmers and ethanol is such a big part of the local community. I do know that I'll be back in an RAB Racing Toyota Camry very soon, and we'll continue to bring great race cars to the track and show that we have a lot of speed, I'm confident the next time we'll have a better showing in my 897th NASCAR start.


RAB Racing PR

John Wes Townley was looking forward to returning to Pocono Raceway where he earned his highest finishing position in the Truck Series (eighth) last season. Townley tied that finish earlier this season at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Townley started 12th after qualifying was set by practice speeds due to morning inclement weather. The No. 7 Zaxby's Toyota Tundra team had a solid truck and fought through the middle of the pack, nearing the top-10 for the majority of the race. With a limited amount of laps in the Pocono Mountains 125, Townley drove a sensible race but got shuffled back on the last restart and had a 17th-place finish.


John Wes Townley talks about his race at Pocono Raceway:

"We were really hoping for a better finish today. Our Zaxby's Tundra was really good all day long and we came out relatively unscathed. I think we learned a lot and that's the important thing. We'll carry that forward to Michigan because there are some pretty high-speed corners there too. I'm not happy, but I'm not down either so that's a good thing."



Timothy Peters came to Pocono Raceway on Saturday afternoon  with one goal in mind - to redeem the No. 17 Parts Plus Toyota Tundra finish from last year's early dismissal. Qualifying was cancelled due to early morning rain which assigned the drivers by practice speeds from Friday afternoon.

Peters started 18th which in no way was indicative of what this Toyota Tundra was capable of. Crew chief Butch Hylton did a complete makeover of the suspension and from the green flag, Peters was able to start advancing his position. Nearing the top-10 at the half-way mark, green-flag pit stops were underway. The Parts Plus driver fought loose conditions for the remainder of the race and ended up a respectable 14th-place. Post race, the crew discovered that the right front shock absorber had failed and undoubtedly had kept the truck from finishing significantly higher.


Timothy Peters talks about his finish at Pocono Raceway:

"It was a long race for our Parts Plus Tundra team. We brought a brand new chassis here and we just couldn't get a hold of our setup. We will move forward and go onto Michigan."



Germán Quiroga was the front runner at the Red Horse Racing stable at the Pocono Mountains 125. The Rookie of the Year contender started the 50-lap event in the fourth position and remained up front in his No. 77 OtterBox Toyota Tundra for the majority of the race. In his first visit to the 2.5-mile track, Quiroga captured the lead during the first attempt at a Green-White-Checkered finish and took off from the field. Unfortunately, a caution was drawn before he reached the White flag, which led the field back around for an additional restart. Fighting to bring home the first victory for a Mexican in a National division of NASCAR, Quiroga lead the field to a wild restart toward turn one and emerged in fourth position as everyone headed toward the tunnel turn.  He was able to regain one position during the closing laps but needed more time to get back to the lead. He crossed the finish line in third-place.

Quiroga did a masterful job for his debut at Pocono Raceway, tying his highest NASCAR Camping World Truck Series finish. Quiroga continues to gain momentum and is sure to finish in victory lane soon.


Germán Quiroga talks about his race at Pocono Raceway:

"I told Dan (Stillman), my crew chief, that my OtterBox Toyota Tundra was great and I had nothing to do, I was just driving. It was a good day for us, good day for points. I'm very happy. Hopefully the second part of the season we can start finishing consecutively in the top-10.


I love this track. It's my first time here and I really, really like it. What else can I say?  I'm very happy about OtterBox being on board. This finish is a first top-five for them and hopefully I can bring that No. 77 Tundra to victory lane soon."



Making their return to pavement, Jeb Burton and the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) headed north to tackle the Tricky Triangle of Pocono Raceway. Following a top-three finish in practice, qualifying was cancelled due to rain, placing Burton in third position on the starting grid for Saturday's Pocono Mountains 125. Throughout the race, Burton struggled with handling issues at the 2.5-mile track, but he and the No. 4 Arrowhead team fought to claim a 12th-place finish and remain second on the NCWTS Driver Point Standings leaderboard.


Although it was Burton's debut at Pocono Raceway, the Turner Scott Motorsports (TSM) team came prepared with a truck that was very familiar with speed and success. Just a few months ago, TSM-220 brought Burton and the No. 4 Arrowhead team their first victory of the season and this weekend, they were hopeful for win number two. In the first and only practice session, Burton gained familiarity with the track and learned from his TSM teammates. Just as practice concluded, Burton laid down his fastest lap and climbed to third place on the speed chart, just three-tenths behind leader and TSM teammate Miguel Paludo. As rain moved in on Pocono Raceway, qualifying was cancelled and the field was lined up based on practice speeds per the NCWTS rulebook, placing Burton and the No. 4 team in third position as the green flag dropped.


The action started early with a caution on lap one due to an accident in Turn 1 as well as a race start penalty. Back to green, Burton quickly reported to crew chief Mike Hillman Jr. that his Arrowhead Chevy was way too lose and tough to handle. Hillman advised Burton to continue running laps until another yellow flag waved. Throughout a long green-flag run, Burton continued to fight the handling of his truck as he dropped out of the top 10 on lap 20. Burton hit pit road on lap 23 for a green-flag pit stop, and Hillman and the crew prepared to make changes to the No. 4 truck. Receiving four new tires, fuel and a few adjustments to tighten up the Chevy Silverado, Burton returned to the field in 19th position.


By lap 30, Burton was gaining a little more control of the truck but continued to report that it felt loose on entry. "Stay calm and patient because the final six to seven laps are most crucial," Hillman relayed to Burton. As the Arrowhead truck slowly gained track position, another caution flag waved due to debris in Turn 3 and the team saw an opportunity to pit for two right-side tires and a splash of fuel. With only four laps remaining, the No. 4 Chevy was one of the only trucks on the track with new tires, which gave Burton a perfect opportunity to gain a few more spots on the leaderboard before the conclusion of the race.


Just two laps later, another caution flag waved due to an accident on the restart. In their first attempt at a green/white/checkered finish, Burton climbed to 11th position and was creeping up on a top-ten finish as yet another caution arose. Following the second and final attempt at a green/white/checkered finish, Burton crossed the finish line in 12th position. Although disappointed in their finish, Burton and the No. 4 Arrowhead team managed to stay second highest in the NCWTS Point Standings.


Following the race, Hillman told the team, "We'll take this truck back, figure out what went wrong and we'll fix it. Trust me, we will fix it."


"I just couldn't find the handling in the truck today," said Burton. "I felt like I was all over the track and just couldn't get a grip. It happens though. Our team worked really hard today and we gave it all we could." Burton remained positive and congratulated TSM teammate Miguel Paludo on his second-place finish.


Trailing 52 points behind the current leader, Burton is looking for a comeback as the NCWTS heads to Michigan International Speedway following an off week. The National Guard 200 will air live on Fox Sports 1 (currently SPEED) at 12:30 p.m. EDT on Saturday, August 17.



Taking advantage of a caution, Kasey Kahne buried his car into Turn 1 with two laps left and grabbed a win from Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jeff Gordon in Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Pocono Raceway.

Kahne picked up his second victory of the season--all but assuring a berth in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup--his second at Pocono and the 16th of his career.

Gordon ran second, 1.392 seconds behind, followed by Kurt Busch, Ryan Newman and Dale Earnhardt Jr. Penske Racing teammates Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano ran sixth and seventh, with Kyle Busch, Tony Stewart and Greg Biffle completing the top 10.

Kahne gained one position to eighth in the Cup standings, but, more than anything, the second victory gives him a substantial degree of comfort where the Chase is concerned.

Pole winner Jimmie Johnson was one of the speed horses in the field, but the series leader blew a right front tire on Lap 76 and pancaked the right side of his No. 48 Chevrolet SS against the outside wall near the exit from the Tunnel Turn.

The accident knocked Johnson, who had led 43 laps to that point, out of contention for the win, but it took a subsequent caution on Lap 95--after David Stremme sideswiped the Turn 1 wall--to return all the lead-lap cars to the same pit stop cycle.

Kahne took control after a Lap 108 restart, but two laps later Danica Patrick's Chevy spun underneath Travis Kvapil's Toyota in the Tunnel Turn and ignited a wreck that also collected hapless Jeff Burton and Richard Childress Racing teammate Paul Menard.

The field was bunched for a restart on Lap 116, but that was merely a momentary speed bump for Kahne, who pulled away from Kurt Busch to a lead of 4.851 seconds by Lap 125. The driver of the No. 5 Chevy extended his advantage through a cycle of green-flag stops and was more than seven seconds ahead of Gordon when NASCAR called the eighth caution on Lap 149 because of debris in Turn 2.

Gordon surged ahead of Kahne after the restart on Lap 153, but a caution on Lap 156 for Matt Kenseth's spin in the Tunnel Turn bunched the field again and gave Kahne a chance for redemption with two laps left


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