Monster Energy Cup Series News (14024)
Michael McDowell and Leavine Family Racing (LFR) look to continue their streak of Top-20 finishes at Michigan International Speedway fresh off their best finish together at Watkins Glen.
Though LFR and McDowell recorded their best finish at Michigan during the last trip there in June, they look to earn their fourth Top-20 finish in a row at the two-mile, D-shaped track.
LFR and McDowell also plan on running a new package at MIS, which will focus more on the down force of the car, as they struggled in their only second race as a team at Michigan earlier this season.
“Michigan was one of the more difficult races for us this season,” said McDowell. “I think everyone in the RCR alliance as a whole, struggles a little there. We have put a lot of emphasis on doing something different when we go back this weekend and trying to get a package that works there. Obviously, down force is a big part of racing at Michigan, so we are just focusing on doing something different and making some gains.”
During the team’s last trip to Michigan, McDowell earned both his best starting position of 22nd and finishing position of 23rd.
McDowell will also be attending the unveiling of the new 2018 Chevrolet model on Thursday, August 10 in Detroit, Michigan.
“I’m really honored to be invited to the unveiling of the 2018 Chevy,” said McDowell. “This is an exciting time for both the sport of NASCAR and our manufacturer. We can’t wait to see what we will be driving next year!”
The Pure Michigan 400 will take place on Sunday, August 13 at 3PM ET. Race fans can tune-in to NBCSN for live race coverage beginning at 2:30PM ET and follow @LFR95 on Twitter for updates.
The No. 43 Smithfield Ford team raced the fast speeds at Michigan International Speedway just eight weeks ago with interim driver Darrell "Bubba" Wallace Jr. in the car. The team will utilize notes from that race to bring Aric Almirola the best setup for his first start this season at the two-mile track. Almirola, fully recovered from his injury, is ready to tackle the fastest track on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series schedule.
Almirola found success at Michigan with a win in the Camping World Truck Series in 2010. Since then, he's made 10 Monster Energy Series starts where he scored a fourth-place starting spot in 2014 and a best finish of 14th in 2015. He also has three XFINITY Series starts under his belt with a best finish of eighth in 2015.
MIS Fans will have the opportunity to see Almirola before the Pure Michigan 400 at the Ford Performance display. He will participate in a question and answer session on stage before belting into the No. 43 Smithfield Ford.
When: Sunday, August 13, 11:15 - 11:30 a.m.
Where: Ford display in the Fanzone
"When I think of Michigan, there is only one word that comes to mind: speed. We go so fast at Michigan. This will be my first stop at Michigan this year, so I'll lean on Drew (Blickensderfer) and the team to bring good notes from June. Hopefully, we'll roll off the truck with a good setup and have a good run on Sunday. I really like Michigan. Not just because I got a win here in the truck, but also because my wife's family is from here and it's in Ford's backyard. That makes it extra special when you run well here."
The aggressive race strategy the No. 77 5-hour ENERGY Extra Strength Toyota team has developed throughout the season is something driver Erik Jones believes can pay off in a big way Sunday at Michigan International Speedway.
The Byron, Mich., native heads into the Pure Michigan 400 weekend in 18th place in the NASCAR Cup Series point standings with just four races remaining in the 26-race regular season. The need for a win in his rookie season is now paramount above earning his way into the playoffs in the point standings.
“We feel like we've been pretty aggressive on strategy pretty much every week and trying to give ourselves the best shot to win,” said Jones. “We've still gotten some good finishes out of it, but I definitely feel like we're more aggressive on strategy than we were the first part of the year. I think when you look at the schedule we feel like we've got some good tracks coming up. Michigan will be a good one for us. We're not looking for top 10s. We're looking to try to go out there and snag a win.”
Despite growing just 70 miles north of the 2-mile speedway in Brooklyn, Jones didn’t attend too many races there. What he may not have known at the time was he was preparing to compete twice annually at Michigan International Speedway.
“I didn't go to MIS a ton when I was a kid” said Jones. “I actually only went a few times because we were racing. You know, I did go down there a few times. It was always just my dad and I, so that's always a fun memory for me to look back on and think about. Obviously my dad was a race fan, and to share that time with him down there was pretty fun.
“My first truck race there (started seventh, finished third in August 2015) was a cool day, as well. That was my first time ever at MIS (as a competitor), so I always kind of remember that day and hold it a little special. Just first race, the home track, it's always kind of cool. I felt like I had to wait forever to get to run there with the age restrictions of NASCAR, but it was really cool to make my first start there.”
Jones has seen the improvement of both his Furniture Row Racing 5-hour ENERGY Extra Strength team and that of manufacturer Toyota.
“Toyota has really come around here this part of the season I feel like,” said Jones. “We've been really strong now for about the last month. We've had some really fast 5-hour ENERGY Toyotas and had an opportunity to win as a whole a number of races. Being in fast race cars is always a welcome opportunity, obviously, and the start of the year we had fast race cars, but they just weren't -- I wouldn't say they were near as good as they are now.”
The 21-year old is second in the 2017 Sunoco Rookie of the Year standings. His 203 points are 23 behind Daniel Suarez (226) and 31 ahead of third-place Ty Dillon (172).
The 200-lap 400-mile Pure Michigan 400 will consist of three stages of 60/60/80 laps (laps 60/120/200). Sunday’s race will air live beginning at 1 p.m. MT (3 p.m. ET) on NBCSN, SiriusXM 90 and MRN. Qualifying (multi-car, two rounds) is also scheduled for Sunday at 3:05 p.m. MT (5:05 p.m. ET) on NBCSN, SiriusXM 90 and MRN.
EDITORS NOTE: 8/12/17 Update below main article
There are two sides to every story and a short time ago Ron Devine owner of BK Racing spoke with Speedway Digest on a range of topics developing over the last several days.
Just last week, Devine spoke in length on the run up to the removal of Gray Gaulding of the No 23 Toyota just weeks ago, citing sponsorship money from the Gaulding’s failed to show on time a reported $1.3 million in total.
The story however doesn’t start there, back in May many members of the media including myself received from an anonymous source paperwork stating just over $480,000 in unpaid taxes were due to the IRS. At the time without any confirmation or response from the sender Speedway Digest chose not to publish.
In just the last week more tax liens totaling an additional $180,794.97 have been issued from the IRS.
“These are taxes that we have come to an agreement on with the IRS. We have worked with them for many years to make arrangements, some that are long prior to BK Racing as a team.” Said Devine
“It becomes hard for us as a team when our employees see this then our suppliers in turn don’t think they have to pay us.” Continues Devine
VINCE, THE MAN BEHIND THE LEAKS
Over our conversation Mr. Devine spoke in length to the man named Vince Vecchiarino who had been releasing information to other news organizations.
“Vince is a guy who works with others to buy up teams and equipment for pennies then turn around and sell it for nickels, that’s his deal, that’s what he’s out for”
“Just look him up, he’s very well known in the garage area, including by some of the engine guys.”
Reaching out to Joey Arrington at Race Engines Plus the conversation on Vince was straight to the point to say the least.
“Run, stay away, hide!” Said Arrington
“Back in the end of 2012 Vince came in the door on his white horse saying I’ll take this race team and we setup a payment plan. The first payment never happened, the second payment never happened and then I said we got to do something.” Continued Arrington
“Then I get a phone call from his landlord saying Vince hasn’t paid rent in three months and I’m going to have to lock this place up. When I went over to retrieve my stuff, two engines were missing, three transmissions were missing and other items.”
“He sold stuff that didn’t belong to him”
Looking further into Vince finds companies listed with him as CEO out of Las Vegas, Millennium Aire, DBA Millennium VIP Group who license has been revoked and Greystone Aviation Services LLC as Flight Dept Manager a business which has been revoked also from the Nevada State Corporation.
“The airline is just a name on a card with a picture of an airplane, it doesn’t even exist.” Said Arrington
Over the past nearly two decades Vince has been involved in a string of court cases across the country.
Some starting as far back as 2000 with possessing and uttering of forged securities continuing in 2013 with obtaining property by false pretense and in 2014 felony fraud.
We have attempted to reach out to Vince through various means of communications seeking comment and will update if he responds.
WHO, IF ANYONE OWNS THE DEBT
The tangled web starts back with Michael Wheeler who back in 2014 filed a UCC with the State of North Carolina against BK Racing claiming $2 million dollars borrowed in a line of credit.
Being that a UCC is a standard business practice when property is used for the purpose of obtaining either loans and/or lines of credit and the originating creditor must renew the UCC every five years per law or they become unenforceable.
In a statement however to The Final Lap Vince claims to have bought the $2 million dollar note, which has since ballooned to over $4.4 million dollars in the ensuring three years, this all according to statements made by Vince who is staking claim to the group that owns the debt.
Yet when checking the UCC listed on the Secretary of State for North Carolina Vince Vecchiarino name doesn’t appear on any listing throughout the years. In fact Mr. Wheeler the originator of the loan has added Ronald G. Ingalls to the UCC as per filed on July 25th of this year.
Mr. Ingalls who was added into the UCC originally filed by Mr. Wheeler back in 2014 and amended in July of this year address listed returns back to a retirement community in California.
In fact several of the more recently filed UCC’s list Virginia Racer Group LLC as the debtor in which the company is managed by Mr. Devine’s wife.
As of the time of publishing, Mr. Wheeler and Mr. Ingalls including their lawyers through multiple attempts to contact them have not responded to our repeated requests for statements and questions on their relationship to Mr. Vecchiarino. Should they contact us, we will update with their response.
UPDATE 8/12/17: Both Mr. Vecchiarino and Mr. Ingalls have reached out to us after reading this article and have issued statements in response to reporting within the article.
Mr. Ingalls has confirmed to us that he did in fact purchase the secured rights to the $2 million dollar note that was issued by Michael Wheeler, Co-Owner of BK Racing. During our conversation Mr. Ingalls also has noted there is unsecured money that is also outstanding through unsecured notes.
“I got involved after someone back in North Carolina said that BK Racing might be for sale. I followed up on that a little bit and went to one of the races with Mr. Devine, but we couldn’t come to an agreement on price and terms.” Said Mr. Ingalls
“During part of the due diligence I noticed that Mr. Wheeler had a note and a UCC filing against BK Racing, so I contacted Mr. Wheeler and we stuck a deal that I would buy the note out.” Continued Mr. Ingalls
“However now I’m not really interested in owning a race team, but more interested in seeing the note satisfied. I don’t have anything bad to say about Mr. Devine, he’s a business man, he’s a good negotiator. Sometime you appreciate good negotiators.”
“What the deal is, Mr. Wheeler had a note for two million covered by a UCC filing and then he forwarded another two and a half million dollars basically without a note.”
When asked what if any steps would be taken next Mr. Ingalls continued.
“I sent a letter of default but I’m not trying to shut BK Racing down. I’m just trying to secure the payment of the two million.”
Following up with Mr. Vecchiarino who had been partly involved in facilitating meetings.
When asked how he got involved and this began Mr. Vecchiarino had this to say.
“I’m helping my partner out trying to collect. Mr. Ingalls had called me and he knew that I had known some people in the NASCAR world. That’s how I got involved, I have no money involved.” Said Mr. Vecchiarino
“When this all got started he asked if I could sit down with Mr. Devine and come to an agreement. However it was Mr. Ingalls that went out and did the deal with Mr. Wheeler as a side deal, he told me had gone out and found Mr. Wheeler and his attorney to buy the note.”
Vince went on to say this was months in the works going back to the mid-summer.
“We sat Devine down and said how can we work together on this and he basically got up and left and this was Pocono. This has been going on two months or so going back to Sonoma.” Continued Vecchiarino
William Byron, the 19-year-old Liberty University sophomore and NASCAR Xfinity Series rookie who drives the No. 9 Liberty University Chevrolet Camaro for JR Motorsports, announced today that he will race at the highest level for the 2018 season, in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. He will replace veteran Kasey Kahne in the No. 5 Chevrolet and drive for 12-time NASCAR Cup Series champions Hendrick Motorsports beginning next season, making his debut at the Daytona 500 on Feb. 18. Liberty University will continue to be a primary sponsor.
“It hasn’t sunk in yet,” said Byron, who will turn 20 on Nov. 29. “Mr. Hendrick has built such a great team. The people at Hendrick Motorsports have dedicated their lives to giving their drivers the best chance to win every weekend. I have a responsibility to them to work hard and put everything I have into this opportunity. They need to know I’m always giving 100 percent because that’s what they do."
Byron joins seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Chevrolet), along with fellow rising stars Chase Elliott (No. 24) and Alex Bowman (No. 88) to complete Hendrick’s 2018 lineup.
Byron is a three-time winner in the XFINITY Series this season, driving for Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s JR Motorsports team. Rick Hendrick signed the prospect in 2016. This year, the Charlotte, N.C., native has already earned three wins: at Iowa Speedway on June 24, Daytona International Speedway on June 30, and Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 22, where he became the youngest driver to win at the Brickyard. He has moved into second place in the series points standings after 20 of the season's 33 races.
In 2016, Byron turned in the most successful debut season in Camping World Truck Series history with a NASCAR national series rookie record seven victories.
“When I told my parents that I wanted to drive race cars, they supported me and believed I could do it," Byron said. "Without them, there’s no way this would be possible. Axalta and Liberty University are awesome partners, and I’m so thankful for their faith in me. I’m going to do all I can to make my family, my sponsors and my teammates proud and represent them all in the right way.”
Hendrick, who received a $25,000 check from Liberty President Jerry Falwell last week to start the Ricky Hendrick Memorial Scholarship Fund through Liberty's Automotive Dealership Management degree program through its School of Business, expressed faith in the young driver to continue to strive for excellence.
“At every step, William has proven how quickly he can adapt,” said Hendrick, owner of Hendrick Motorsports. “Some drivers have raw talent and some have a strong work ethic. William has both. It’s impressive to see a young guy who never gets rattled and instinctively knows how to communicate with his team. That level of commitment, poise and pure ability is rare at any age. I think he’s just scratching the surface.”
Byron is pursuing a degree in business communications through Liberty's online education program.
Liberty University PR
Leavine Family Racing (LFR) is excited to announce a partnership with Wipes.com for the Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway on Saturday August, 19th, 2017.
Wipes.com chose LFR and the NASCAR platform to launch their new product line “Pit Wipes”, a disposal washcloth line targeted at the outdoor and active lifestyle industry.
“Wipes.com is extremely excited to be partnering with LFR and the No. 95,” said Jay Radloff, owner of Wipes.com. “We’ve built our business with disinfecting wipes for gyms and hospitals and think this is the right team to showcase our new product line. We share the “relentless” philosophy that the team has and look forward to growing together.”
“We’re happy to have Wipes.com as a part of the LFR family and on the car in Bristol and many more to come,” continued Jeremy Lange, VP of Operations at LFR. “Our team has been testing out the product and certainly smells better after a race!”
The team and Wipes.com are continuing to partner on other ventures throughout the remainder of the 2017 and into the 2018 season.
Cassill on Michigan
"I'm excited to get back to Michigan. It's kind of a new build of cars for us this time around. So, hopefully we can see an improved performance over the last couple of months. It's definitely a race that Seth (Barbour) and my guys have circled on their calendar. So, I'm really looking forward to it.
"This is always a big weekend for Ford. We'll be visiting with Ford employees at their facilities all day Thursday, and there will be a lot of special guests at the race. We definitely want all the Fords to put on a good show Sunday."
Sunday, Aug. 13, 11:45am - Ford Performance display (Michigan International Speedway Fan Zone)
Ragan on Michigan
"Going back to Michigan is exciting for us. Whenever we go back to a track for a second time, we know we can always improve on our race car from the first race.
"This race is in Ford's backyard, so it always adds a little extra pressure to run well. We have a lot of fun with the weekend. We head up to Michigan early and spend some time at the world headquarters and meet some of the employees. It's always a good time in the Irish Hills, and we'll look for a good run with our Overton's team."
What happens when you put one of the fastest cars in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series on one of its fastest tracks? Ryan Blaney and the Motorcraft/Quick Lane Racing team hope that combination translates this weekend into a Michigan International Speedway win for Ford Motor Company and the 100th victory for Wood Brothers Racing.
The Wood Brothers’ iconic No. 21 has been fast at MIS in recent years. Since Blaney took the wheel in 2015, his average qualifying position is in the top 10. His average finish, however, is between 18 and 19 due to setup issues and bad racing luck. A strong fourth-place result a year ago showed that Blaney can run up front at MIS and contend for the win.
Overall this season, Blaney has three stage wins to go with his June Pocono race victory and has scored 159 stage points, sixth most in the series. He is currently ninth in the playoff standings and 12th in the overall driver standings.
On Michigan International Speedway:
“Michigan’s always a big race track for our team and for Ford. It’s always a big one to try to run well and win. I thought we learned some thigs last time. We had a good run going before we had some trouble on a re-start. It’s just a matter of putting everything together. It’s one of the fastest places we go. It’s pretty difficult to practice on. It usually changes a bunch. We’ll try to clean up a few things and see if we can win one for Ford up there. That would be pretty neat.”
Ford Performance PR