Bobby Labonte arrives with JTG Daugherty Racing in the Lone Star State for a shot at hoisting the unique hand-carved boot trophy in the Samsung Mobile 500 with his No. 47 Bush’s Beans Toyota at Texas Motor Speedway.

His first attempt at the 1.5-mile quad-oval with Joe Gibbs Racing proved to be successful as he led and finished third in 1997.

Since then, he has recorded two pole awards and finished third two more times. The Corpus Christi, Texas-native has three top-five and five top-10 finishes at the Texan oval.

“Texas Motor Speedway is going to be a good track for us and it will be fun racing at night - - we’ve got Bush’s Beans on board,” Labonte said. “I really like that place and every track has its own unique characteristic. I was fortunate to go there before they ever built the track. I literally saw it being built from the ground up. It is a great facility and right now it is as good as it has ever been. Texas is coming into its own with a lot of racing grooves.”

With six races completed, things are falling into place for Labonte and JTG Daugherty Racing.

“We’ve had really good race cars except for one race and that was Fontana (Auto Club Speedway),” said Labonte, who has one top-five and one top-10 with the team. “We’ve had a little bit of bad luck to go along with the good luck we’ve had. But, we’re getting that consistency where we unload better weekly. We’ve got to find that last little bit to start gaining confidence and momentum as soon as we unload. Momentum is a big thing in this sport. You can’t buy it at a grocery store or a parts store. We’ve been more competitive than not and that’s really encouraging for us.”

Labonte is currently 21st in the championship standings entering Texas, but he is only 43 points out of tenth place.

“A couple of bad finishes the past couple of weekends where we should have had better finishes has put us back to 21st in points probably instead of 15th or so,” Labonte said. “We’ll just have to make it up as the weeks go on. I think you are always conscious of points, but you still race to win. Also, you post the best finishes you can every week. The points take care of themselves.”

As the weeks go on, Labonte is optimistic about upcoming tracks on the 36-race schedule.

“Of course, Texas is a great track for me, but Richmond International Raceway will be one of our better tracks because we’ve been so good on the short tracks this year,” Labonte said. “Talladega Superspeedway is a crap shoot. You never know about that one. You hope to have a great race car, but you’ve got to be lucky at the same time. I love both Darlington Raceway and Dover International Speedway. I feel like we’ve got great race cars. We’ve finished every race, but the one where we blew out a tire at Fontana with about 20 laps to go or less. We just need better luck.”

Prior to Texas, Labonte finished 27th at Martinsville Speedway due to an accident not of his own accord. Labonte was running in the top 15 before his efforts were disrupted and taken out of contention.

“Martinsville is over and we are looking forward to this weekend,” Labonte said. “Our engineer, Brian Burns, recently said, ‘Well, we finished 27th, which really wasn’t bad considering we had a wrecked race car. I’d rather finished 27th with a wrecked race car than run bad and finish 23rd.’

“We ran good all weekend long and had a good qualifying run at Martinsville,” Labonte continued. “We were competitive. We just got collected in a wreck almost halfway through the race while we were running in the top 15. It was unfortunate, but we came back, finished and salvaged it.”

JTG Daugherty Racing PR

Drivers love and love to hate short tracks. Early in his career, Casey Mears enjoyed racing on the intermediate circuits more than the short ones but as the years progressed, those less than a mile in length have provided numerous highlights for the veteran driver. Entering Sunday’s Goody’s Fast Relief 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway, Mears looked to insert another positive run in the history books.

For the first 296 laps, all went as planned for the GEICO Racing team as Mears successfully competed inside the top-25. Then, one short lap later, the bad luck struck the No. 13 Toyota Camry as Mears’ right-front tire blew forcing the team to pit under green and lose four laps to the leader. Misfortune plagued Mears once again with less than 150 laps until the checkered flag, when the transmission blew. Once changed in the garage area, the Gecko returned to the track and brought home a 36th-place finish at the .526-mile paperclip-shaped oval.

“It was a frustrating day,” said Mears. “Every time myself, (crew chief) Bootie (Barker), and the guys get the No. 13 GEICO Toyota Camry handling well and in position to have a solid finish, something happens. First, we had the bead melt on the tire and then fourth gear blew out of the transmission. Bad luck seems to be following us but we will just keep moving forward, try to fix the issues, and head to Texas.”

Mears qualified his GEICO Racing Toyota Camry in the 30th position on Saturday afternoon, as the Germain Racing team was locked in the top-35 in owner point standings for the first time this season. As soon as the green flag waved on Sunday, Mears didn’t waste any time before making moves through the field. In the first 50 laps of green flag competition, Mears picked up 12 positions to 18th-place.

Solid pit stops by the GEICO crew, paired with Mears’ patience behind the wheel, set the stage for a top-20 finish as the race passed the halfway mark. On lap 297, Mears radioed to his team that his right-front tire had blew. The field stayed under green flag conditions while Mears brought his car to pit road, putting the team four laps down and running in 28th-place.

As Mears was clocking laps to complete the race and gain as many points as possible, the transmission blew on lap 359, causing the GEICO Toyota to come to the garage for repairs. In a short 37 laps, the team rapidly changed the transmission and had Mears back on the track for the final 100 circuits. Despite the Camry handling decent in final stretch, Mears crossed the finish line in the 36th position, completing 457 of 500 laps.

With the sixth of 36 races complete, Mears dropped two positions to 37th-place in the owner championship standings. He currently sits two points behind the locked-in top-35 marker.


Germain Racing/PMI PR

Brendan Gaughan steered the No. 62 South Point Hotel & Casino Tundra to a ninth-place finish after starting deep in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series field in Saturday afternoon’s Kroger 250. Gaughan qualified 31st, led seven laps and earned his third top-ten finish at the low-banked but high-action Martinsville Speedway.

“The only time I ever have a good finish is if I start behind 30th-place. All my top-10s at Martinsville have come from 30th or worse in

qualifying and it really drives me nuts because Germain Racing is giving me great Toyotas and this Tundra was very good,” said Gaughan, who correctly stated his results – both of his previous top-ten’s at Martinsville came from starting spots in the back of the field.

Gaughan loves to hate the Virginia track because the style of racing is frustrating for a driver who cut his teeth off-road – not on short, tight ovals. He admits that Martinsville got the better of him after qualifying on Saturday morning.

“I was mad in qualifying because I kept saying that the South Point Hotel & Casino Tundra was a good race truck and I just feel or I get all flustered here at Martinsville. I don’t feel like I’m good at it, but when the race comes, I’m fine,” explained the Las Vegas native.

After the completion of the 250 lap event, Gaughan and his crew wondered if he passed more vehicles than any one else out there on route to his ninth-place finish. According to NASCAR’s Loop Data, Gaughan ranked seventh. He passed 63 trucks under green flag conditions. The racer that passed the most actually overtook 80 race trucks under the green flag.

“Germain Racing gave me good stuff. I think we definitely got the deal for passing the most vehicles today because I know I went back to 25th at least three times,” exclaimed Gaughan, who had no complaints about the tires that many others were questioning. “I like the Goodyear tires. This reminded me of the old school tire where the tires wear out and that’s where I won my race is when you had tires that were old and worn out and sliding.”

All in all, Gaughan enjoyed his 250-lap Martinsville adventure. The ninth-place effort boosted him eight places to 13th in the Truck Series standings.

“Had a great time, had a great Martinsville race and came out of here with a top-10. This is what we needed to get ourselves back on track and I can’t believe I did it at Martinsville,” smiled Gaughan.

 

PMI/Germain Racing PR

Nashville Superspeedway will play host to a NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and NASCAR Nationwide Series driver autograph session as part of their upcoming April 22-23, 2011 race weekend.

The autograph session is scheduled for Friday, April 22 at 1 p.m. in the Expo area located outside Gate 3 at Nashville Superspeedway.

The session will run from 1 to 2 p.m. A limited number of wristbands will be issued in advance of the session, beginning at 11 a.m., on a first-come, first-served basis.

Participating drivers will be announced as they are confirmed on NashvilleSuperspeedway.com.

Drivers confirmed, as of 03.04.11 at 4 p.m. CT, include:

Johnny Sauter

Matt Crafton

Johanna Long

Justin Lofton

Nashville Speedway PR

Despite a loose-handling, damaged race car, Harvick and the No. 29 Richard Childress Racing team fought back to capture another thrilling come-from-behind victory in Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series 62nd annual Goody’s Fast Relief 500 at Martinsville Speedway, scoring back-to-back wins and two post-race contingency awards.

Gil Martin won his second MOOG Problem Solver of the Race Award of the season, which recognizes the crew chief whose car delivers the largest improvement in average lap speed during the second half of each NASCAR Sprint Cup event while finishing on the lead lap. Harvick and the MOOG chassis parts-equipped No. 29 Budweiser Chevrolet posted a race-high .083 second improvement during the final laps of the race.

Harvick, who started ninth, fell back early fighting a loose car. After sustaining chassis damage in a wreck on Lap 231, crew chief Gil Martin and crew went to work and made major adjustments and repairs to improve the car's handling. Martin, who made a key call for a two-tire stop on Lap 372 to gain track position, kept Harvick in contention. Harvick’s ability to close in the last laps of the race continues to be among the best in the sport. In the last 10% of the race, he has gained 22 positions this season, second only to Juan Pablo Montoya with 31 positions gained.

“I think we waited for the right time to get our two tires,” said Martin. “I have to give everybody a ton of credit for just going through our engineers going through the simulation and the tire plotters.”

All awards are part of the NASCAR Prize Money and Decal Program, also referred to as the contingency program, which provides teams prize money and weekly awards based on performance in several categories.

“I've been coming here with RCR for ten years and up until last year, we were hit and miss with all three teams,” said Martin. “To come here and win two in a row, it's a special feeling for me.”

In a race that saw 31 lead changes, a new track record, Harvick was able to charge past Dale Earnhardt Jr. with just four laps remaining to capture the checkered flag with a 0.727-second margin of victory. In addition to the Grandfather Clock trophy, Harvick also won his fourth Mobil 1 Driver of the Race Award of the season. It was Harvick’s 16th victory in 364 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races, his second overall victory and fourth top-10 finish in 2011.

“I think it just shows what we are made of again today,” said Harvick post-race. “We started the race and our car was really, really loose. We came in and made a lot of adjustments and we kept working on it. It's just a huge credit to the organization and the team.”

With the Martinsville win, Harvick gained four positions in the 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup points standings. He currently sits fifth in the standings with 204 points, just 15 points behind new points leader Kyle Busch heading to Texas Motor Speedway for the April 9th Samsung Mobile 500(7:30 p.m. EST, FOX).

Official winners of this week’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Prize Money & Decal Program special awards include:

·         AMERICAN ETHANOL GREEN FLAG RESTART: Clint Bowyer

·         COORS LIGHT POLE AWARD: Jamie McMurray (96.509 mph., 19,621  secs.)

·         DIRECTV CREW CHIEF OF THE RACE AWARD: Kevin “Bono” Manion (crew chief for Jamie McMurray)

·         GOODYEAR GATORBACK BELTS FASTEST LAP AWARD: Jimmie Johnson (94.0125 mph, Lap 187)

·         MAHLE CLEVITE ENGINE BUILDER OF THE RACE AWARD: Mark Cronquist, No. 18,JGR

·         MOBIL 1 OIL DRIVER OF THE RACE AWARD: Kevin Harvick

· MOOG CHASSIS PARTS PROBLEM SOLVER OF THE RACE AWARD: Gil Martin(crew chief for Kevin Harvick, 0.083 secs.)

·         O’REILLY AUTO PARTS POSITION IMPROVEMENT AWARD: Juan Pablo Montoya (23 places)

NASCAR PR

Oh say can you sing? New Hampshire Motor Speedway and the New Hampshire chapter of Speedway Children's Charities have the perfect opportunity for aspiring performers to belt out the national anthem, with the first-ever Speedway Star performing competition on Saturday, April 23.

"The Magic Mile" and WGIR's "The Morning Buzz" will give two people the opportunity to perform the national anthem in front of thousands of screaming race fans at either the New England 200 NASCAR Nationwide Series race on Saturday, July 16, or the F.W. Webb 175 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race on Saturday, Sept. 24.

Seventy-five contestants will audition in front of a celebrity panel of judges including; Roadkill from WGIR's "The Morning Buzz," Rock 101's Scorch and Adam Furious; Justin McIsaac of WHEB and rock guitarist Gary Hoey, beginning at 10 a.m. through 2 p.m., during the speedway's FANtasy Drive 2. At the end of the day six finalists will be selected and videotaped performing the Star Spangled Banner, then posted on the New Hampshire Motor Speedway website for fans to vote. The two people receiving the most votes will be chosen to perform.

Registration is just $20 per person and is held on the day of the event only. All proceeds will benefit the New Hampshire chapter of Speedway Children's Charities.

FANtasy Drive 2 is a free admission open house with something for everyone.  Race fans can get an up close and personal look into the largest sports and entertainment facility in New England; check out displays from numerous local clubs and organizations; drive your car around the track and help save a life by donating blood at the Red Cross blood drive.

Keep watching for more details regarding this event on www.nhms.com.

NHMS PR

Texas Motor Speedway may not be one of Jeff Gordon’s best tracks statistically but, having led 34 percent of the laps in the last two Samsung Mobile 500’s, it would not be surprising to see the brightly painted No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet at or near the front during Saturday night’s 334-lap race.  

In those two events, Gordon has led 229 of a possible 668 laps with one win (2009) and a DNF (Did Not Finish) due to a late-race multi-car accident last year. In the past two fall events, he has led only 11 laps with a 13th-place finish in 2009 and a DNF last year.

“We haven’t always run well at Texas, but I am cautiously optimistic heading into the weekend,” said the 83-time NASCAR Sprint Cup race winner. “The differences in our performances in the spring and the fall races recently is probably just different weather and track conditions at that time of year.”

Overall, the four-time NASCAR Cup Series champion has that lone victory, two poles (2008 and 2009), seven top-fives, nine top-10’s and 581 laps led in 20 starts at the Lone Star State track. But while the facility has not changed much since the inaugural race in 1997, the track has changed a lot.

“This track has always been one of the premier facilities – if not the premier facility,” said Gordon. “There is no other place like this and it has really turned into a fantastic track.

“When we first came here, it was a really, really challenging race track. It was fast and the transitions were really abrupt, and it was hard just to stay out of the wall.

“But as the surface has worn and as we've gotten the cars handling better, it's become one of the premier tracks. The race track itself has come into its own and made great racing with the groove widening out.

“It seems like it gets better every time we come here.”

Just like the track seems to improve with each visit, Gordon and crew chief Alan Gustafson hope the No. 24 Impala performs better on this return visit.

“Alan, the team and I have talked about this weekend’s race,” said Gordon. “And we’ll have more discussions before this weekend.

“But, right now, I feel good about our plan for Texas.”

Jeff Gordon/Performance Plus PR

The saying “there’s no place like home” couldn’t ring more true for Robert Richardson, Jr. in this weekend’s NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Texas Motor Speedway.

Richardson has two mini-milestones to mark this week celebrating his 29th birthday on Monday, April 4, and is making his 75th-career NNS start this weekend at TMS. The graduate of nearby McKinney High School, and former high school quarterback-turned-NASCAR-driver, is ready for the comforts of home right now.

In the first five races, the No. 23 Wildlife Conservation Society Dodge of R3 Motorsports has endured their share of bad luck. A late-race crash in the season opener at Daytona, a motor letting go in Bristol and other gremlins popping up during race weekends have all been issues the team – together – has endured and persevered through.

But, the numbers don’t lie in the Owner’s Standings as the sixth NNS race of the year draws near in the Lone Star State.

Currently 32nd in the Owner’s Points, Richardson and the Walter Giles-led team trail 31st by just two points and 30th by four. For the Driver’s Points, Richardson is 23rd in the standings just two markers behind 22nd and trailing 21st by five.

R3 Motorsports PR

Furniture Row Racing, which is spearheading the Farm American program, announced that the team's No. 78 NASCAR Chevrolet will showcase the Farm American colors for the first time this season at this weekend's Samsung Mobile 500 Sprint Cup race (April 7-9) at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth.

Regan Smith's car at the 1.5-mile Texas oval will be known as the No. 78 Farm American Chevrolet, presented by Furniture Row Companies and Agro-Culture Liquid Fertilizers.

"The Farm American program continues to gain momentum which gives farmers and ranchers a national stage to share their story and bridge the dialogue gap between the consumer and members of the agriculture industry," said Joe Garone, general manager of Furniture Row Racing. "We are excited about Agro-Culture Liquid Fertilizers joining Furniture Row Companies as a partner and becoming our first agribusiness financial partner to join the Farm American program. We continue to seek additional partners and are encouraged by the interest we  have received from the agriculture community and also from a wide range of non-agriculture businesses."

Garone added, "We have also been overwhelmed with the support of nearly three dozen groups, representing more than 1.1 million agriculturalists, who have endorsed this program to date by joining as communication partners. What is truly special about the communication partners is the group represents a cross section of American agriculture from maple sugar growers to egg producers to family owned equipment dealerships."

What members of the agriculture community are saying about the Farm American Program:

"We are proud to be a part of Farm American, and share its vision of building a relationship between America's farm families and her consumers. For generations, America’s Egg Farmers have been committed to delivering high-quality eggs, as well as caring for their animals and the land they farm.  To learn more about where eggs come from and to join the fight against hunger, visit GoodEggProject.org and take the pledge to 'Eat Good. Do Good Every Day.' For every pledge taken, America’s egg farmers will donate one egg to Feeding America, the nation’s largest hunger relief charity, up to one million eggs.”

Chad Gregory, Senior Vice President, United Egg Producers Association

"I don't think consumers understand 98 percent of our farms and ranches are still owned and operated by families that take deep pride in their stewardship, conservation and productivity. As a fifth generation American Rancher, my family provides the healthy, affordable food and fiber your family enjoys every day. We also provide renewable resources that reduce and eliminate our dependency on other countries. Consumers deserve to hear the real story of the work my family does, directly from us. That's what Farm American allows us to do. Share our story with you."

Troy & Stacy Hadrick, founders of Advocates For Agriculture

Heritage Propane has joined the Roush Drag Team as the primary sponsor on two Roush Drag Team cars in the National Mustang Racing Association (NMRA) and National Muscle Car Association (NMCA) Series.  The company will be featured on the 2010 Roush Stage 3 Mustang Powered by Propane, driven by Susan Roush-McClenaghan.  The 2005 Roush Stage 3™ Mustang will be driven by teammate Donnie Bowles.

Heritage Propane is a national provider of propane with over 1.1 million customers nationwide, and offers its products and services to both the residential community and automotive industry.  The company is also the official propane supplier of the Roush Drag Team.

“I am very excited about Heritage Propane joining the Roush family,” said Roush-McClenaghan.  "My father began his career by exercising his innovative and competitive spirit in drag racing. Through
this partnership, Heritage Propane has offered our team the opportunity to carry that legacy forward. I am greatly looking forward to working together as we demonstrate the versatility and performance capabilities of propane on the track over the next few years.”

McClenaghan leads the Modular Muscle class in the NMRA series. Bowles was the NMCA Open Comp champion in 2010, and is competing in the Open Comp Class in the NMRA Series this season.  Both drivers are serious championship contenders in their respective classes.

Ed Varney, Vice President of National Account Marketing of Heritage Propane, said his company is excited to partner with Roush for both on and off-track reasons.

“The technology they provide is exceptional,” Varney said. “Together we can surely increase the market for autogas in the United States. With the service we provide at Heritage Propane, and the dependability of the Roush Propane product, we are quite optimistic about the future of propane autogas."

Jim Hamilton, Heritage Propane’s Vice President of Central and Metro Lift Operations, added that partnering with Roush is critical to the promotion of propane as a viable alternative fuel in the United States.

“We feel this is a huge step towards our Autogas program,” Hamilton said.  “The technology that Roush Clean Tech and Roush Drag Racing brings to our industry comes with extensive engineering and proven technology. The future of propane autogas is unlimited with the exposure and technology coming on board, and the Roush Drag Racing team is a viable art of the future success.”

Roush Drag Team PR

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