Dakoda Armstrong Rockingham Speedway Advance
Return to The Rock: As one of the few drivers who has experienced racing competition at Rockingham Speedway, Dakoda Armstrong is more than ready to be a part of the first NASCAR sanctioned race at the one-mile oval since 2004 this Sunday. Armstrong has visited The Rock twice in the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards, with two very respectable showings and a best finish of eighth in 2009. He was also part of a ThorSport Racing team test with teammates Johnny Sauter and Matt Crafton last fall, and picked up more recent experience with his team and the No. 98 EverFi Tundra. Though the rough surface of the track creates a lot of fall off in the tires and slick racing conditions, Armstrong is eager to take on the challenge.
"There's a lot of race fans in the Rockingham area and I've seen a lot of great racing there. The track is pretty bumpy and has a lot of character, but there's a lot of room to race because of that. It gets really slick really fast, but as a driver its really fun to drive.
"It's a wonderful facility and I know they've been working really hard on it. I've been there before when I was fast, and I've been not so great. It's a tough race track to get a hold of, but some good racing will definitely happen and the fans will not be disappointed," Armstrong explained.
Crew Chief Dan Stillman echoes his driver's thoughts of great racing at The Rock. Though he has witnessed and participated in many great races at the North Carolina track, he will make the trip this weekend for the first time as a crew chief.
"We tested at Rockingham in the fall with our teammates so we know a little of what to expect, and we're running the truck that we feel is one of our best. I've never been there as a crew chief before, but have been to Rockingham many times and I like the track. It's real bumpy and rough, but it's a fun racetrack for the drivers. It'll definitely be a good race on Sunday," Stillman said.
Broken Records: ThorSport Racing, the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series' longest-standing organization, is breaking yet another record this weekend at Rockingham Speedway. When the green flag waves, it will mark the 350th consecutive event in which ThorSport Racing has had at least one truck entered, breaking Roush-Fenway Racing's previous record of 349.
Merchandise and Drivers at ThunderFest: Armstrong, as well as ThorSport Racing teammates Johnny Sauter and Matt Crafton, will be appearing at the Rockingham ThunderFest autograph session from 7:00-8:00 PM ET at Harrington Square in downtown Rockingham on Friday night. While appearing with other NCWTS competitors, the drivers will be signing and selling ThorSport Racing merchandise before and after the scheduled autograph session. Look for the No.13 Hot Honeys Toyota Tundra show truck, where fans can also pick up free Hot Honeys samples.
All Welcome to Drivers Meeting:
A rare chance for fans to get up close and personal with Armstrong, Sauter, Crafton and their other favorite NASCAR Camping World Truck Series drivers will be made possible prior to the Good Sam Roadside Assistance 200 presented by Cheerwine. NASCAR and Rockingham Speedway are opening up the NCWTS drivers meeting to fans with a valid ticket to the race. The meeting is scheduled for 10:30 AM ET on Sunday, with an autograph session to follow on pit road before driver introductions. Fans are asked to enter the infield through the tunnel in turn four if they wish to take part in the meeting.
A Look Back: Rookie of the Year Contender Dakoda Armstrong made his first career start at Martinsville Speedway on Saturday, March 31st, hoping to improve on his premature exit at Daytona International Speedway in February. After a near miss with the wall during a loose qualifying run, Armstrong began his day at the tail end of the field. Sustaining front end damage from an incident just before half way, Armstrong pulled his truck to the attention of his crew to remedy the issue. After repairs, Armstrong drove his No. 98 EverFi Toyota Tundra through several short-track racing close calls to a 21st place finish.
Chassis History: The No. 98 EverFi team has chosen to bring back one of its favorite trucks for competition this weekend, unloading chassis No. 23 at Rockingham for Armstrong. Last season, this particular chassis helped Armstrong and his team score their best finish of the year at Kentucky (ninth), and has seen victory lane with teammate Johnny Sauter behind the wheel at both Las Vegas and Kansas Speedway.
RYAN NEWMAN, Driver of the No. 39 U.S. Army Chevrolet for Stewart-Haas Racing:
How does winning a race early in the season help your confidence throughout the rest of the year?
“It’s big for us from a points standpoint because we gain an advantage in the points, but primarily to give us something to fall back on if we need to win to make it into the Chase. That is a sense of relief, but that relief doesn’t get you anywhere when it comes to performance. It just gives you something to fall back on. Just like a U.S. Army Soldier has a mission, we still have a mission regardless of one victory. And that mission is still to go out there and win each weekend and make the effort to win each and every race and keep moving our way up in the point standings so we don’t have to rely on the win. It is a relief and that’s what we shoot for. But, realistically, it doesn’t matter if it was right now or if it was three races before the Chase.”
You have a degree in vehicle structural engineering. How has that been able to help you in your racing career?
“It’s just taken me to another level, as far as understanding the racecar, the physics part of it, the gravities and the way all the things that work with the racecar, mechanically. That makes a difference to me, personally. I’m not saying it makes me smarter than everybody else, but it’s made me a smarter person to the point that I tell anybody that, if you have the opportunity to go to college or to a university to get a further education, do it. What you major in isn’t what’s going to make you the smart guy, ultimately. It’s the well-roundedness that you come out of any kind of further education with that makes you a better person, and will make you a smarter person in order to make more money and be happier in the future. My actual degree is vehicle structural engineering. It’s a mechanical backbone, but it gave me the opportunity to be flexible in school, and then I obviously have that diploma and that education to fall back on for the rest of my career. As far as what it means for sponsors, I think the fact that I have a college education is something that works very well with the U.S. Army’s goals and objectives. They do education programs at the racetrack where I have the opportunity to talk to students about going to college, and that’s something I’ve really enjoyed doing. I’m very proud to represent the Army and what it is to be ‘Army Strong’ and to have that mental, physical, and emotional strength of no other. At the education programs, we talk about our lives from a driver’s perspective, a team’s perspective, and from the Army’s perspective, and what it is and the ties between NASCAR and the Army. We both have similar goals and we’re trying to achieve our dreams and win battles, but we do it through teamwork and communication, and both of our strategies are pretty much the same.”
What does it say about Stewart-Haas Racing that the organization has won eight of the last 16 races dating back to last season, including three of the last four?
“I joked after the Martinsville win that I was just glad to finally contribute to that total. And while I was joking, I think I was also glad to finally get that win. Our No. 39 U.S. Army team has worked so hard and we’ve been so close. It was nice to finally be in the right place at the right time. And I’m just proud of all of these guys for not giving up and for staying the course and keeping their heads in the game no matter what happened. We proved at Martinsville how Army Strong we were when we came back from a lap down due to an error on my part – a speeding penalty. We stayed tough and confident and, in the end, it paid off for us with a big win. I think the win also showed just how strong Stewart-Haas is. (Tony) Stewart had won on a 2- mile racetrack (California) the week before and then we won on a half-mile racetrack. And Stewart already won on a mile-and-a-half racetrack. So we’ve had a good, strong start to the season when it comes to looking at the racetracks and the places that we race at, and that makes a difference. Some guys are only capable of winning at certain racetracks, and we’ve proved that Stewart-Haas is capable of a lot. We really hope to take advantage of the momentum we have and continue to build on that each and every race. We ran fourth at Las Vegas earlier this season, so it would be nice to have another solid run at another mile-and-a-half track.”
Talk about racing at Texas.
“I always look forward to racing at Texas. I love the speed at Texas. It’s a fast racetrack. Texas is actually one of the fastest tracks we go to all year, so you have to be on top of your game because things can happen pretty quickly. It’s a track I’ve always liked, although it doesn’t necessarily show in my finishes. It’s a smooth, fast racetrack and there are multiple grooves, so it’s fun to race there. The asphalt has aged the track to the point it has gotten better and better each time we come back. What I mean is that the track has basically gotten wider. It’s gotten a bit more character. A little more bumpy, which is fine. I like it. I think that, in general, the track has gotten wider and racier each time we’ve come back. It’s got less grip, but that’s fine. I’d rather slide around a little bit and be in charge of my racecar than be stuck to the racetrack.”