The refrain is a popular one: “Are you ready for some football?” It’s particularly so during this time of year when the college football season has begun and the NFL season is no longer just peeking around the corner but preparing to make a full-on assault on football stadiums and television sets across the country. It’s a new season with new goals and high expectations in which anything can and will happen.
While the NFL season is just kicking off its 2012 season this week, the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series is gearing up for its version of the playoffs as it makes one more regular-season stop at one of its notorious short tracks. If NASCAR fans are ready for some short-track racing under the lights, then that is exactly what they will get this weekend with the running of the Federated Auto Parts 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway. It is the 26th race of the year and its outcome will determine who’s in and who’s out of the ninth edition of the Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship.
While the battle to make the Chase will be drawing to a close this Saturday night, there is still plenty on the line for all of the series competitors, whether it’s wins or building momentum over the final 10 races that will carry teams through the offseason in preparation for their 2013 campaigns.
Kurt Busch and the No. 51 Phoenix Construction Services Chevrolet team go into this Saturday night’s race at Richmond looking for a little redemption after a disappointing finish during the spring race at the .75-mile oval. Busch qualified 13th for that particular race and was making his way to the top-10 before a miscue on a pit stop dropped him deep in the field. There, he was caught up in an incident that altered the course of his entire race and left him with a 28th-place finish.
While Busch wouldn’t consider Richmond a personal favorite among the tracks visited by the Sprint Cup Series, he has been able to find success at the facility. In 23 career starts at the three-quarter-mile track, Busch has one win, four top-fives and seven top-10 finishes. Busch scored his lone Richmond victory in September 2005, and it was a victory that catapulted him into the second annual Chase for the Championship. He’s also been the model of consistency at Richmond, running at the end of each of his 23 Sprint Cup races there aside for one, which was the result of an accident during the track’s May race in 2010.
In addition to his record in Sprint Cup Series action, Busch goes into this weekend’s races having found success in the Nationwide Series as recently as April of this year. Competing for his brother’s Kyle Busch Motorsports team, Busch drove the No. 54 Monster Energy car to a win in his first Nationwide Series start at Richmond. Busch will try to make it a sweep of the Nationwide Series events at Richmond as he is set to drive the No. 54 car yet again this weekend.
A weekend of racing under the lights awaits NASCAR fans at Richmond and, with championship aspirations on the line, much drama could unfold. But whether you are in fact ready for some football or some short-track Saturday-night racing, the sports world will have everyone covered this weekend.
Penske Racing announced today that Joey Logano will join the team in 2013. He will drive the No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.
Logano, 22, a two-time Sprint Cup Series winner who is currently competing in his fourth full season, will begin a multi-year agreement with Penske Racing.
“I am very excited to join Penske Racing and begin the next phase of my career,” said Logano. “I am looking forward to the opportunity as it will be an honor to drive for Roger Penske and race for wins and championships.I am also proud to represent Shell-Pennzoil as they are a respected global brand that does a great job of activating in the sport on and off the track."
In addition to his pair of victories, four poles and 16 top-five finishes in his young Cup Series career, Logano has also produced 15 wins and 19 poles in five seasons competing part time in the NASCAR Nationwide Series.
“Joey Logano is a very talented driver who has already achieved a lot of success at a young age,” said Tim Cindric, President of Penske Racing. “Joey is a great fit for our organization and we look forward to building on his success as he takes his place behind the wheel of the No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford.”
With an impressive track record of winning from an early age, Logano has established himself as one of NASCAR’s fastest rising stars. He started racing quarter midgets at the age of six and won his first championship just one year later. After rising up quickly through the racing ranks, Logano became the youngest winner in Nationwide Series history when he won at Kentucky Speedway at the age of 18 in 2008. Just one year later he won at New Hampshire to become the youngest winner ever in Cup Series competition. Logano went on to be named 2009 Sprint Cup Series Rookie of the Year, setting the stage for a bright future in the sport.
“We welcome Joey Logano to the Shell-Pennzoil team, and we know he will do a great job representing our brands and Penske Racing in 2013 and beyond,” said Lisa Davis, president, Shell Lubricants Americas. “Joey is clearly a special talent on the race track, and we look forward to working with him off the track as well.”
Logano will join Brad Keselowski, a three-time race winner and championship contender in 2012, and the No. 2 Miller Lite Ford team to form a potent combination for Penske Racing in the 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.
Penske Racing PR
Joe Gibbs Racing announces today that 2003 NASCAR Cup SeriesChampion and two-time Daytona 500 winner, Matt Kenseth, has signed with theteam to drive the No. 20 Toyota Camry with sponsorship from Dollar General andThe Home Depot starting in 2013.
“We are thrilled to be able toofficially announce Matt will join Joe Gibbs Racing starting at the conclusionof this season,” said Joe Gibbs, owner of Joe Gibbs Racing.“Everyone knows what he has accomplished in our sport as a champion and aconsistent winner. He is well respected in the garage and his experience andknowledge will be extremely beneficial to our entire organization, especiallyDenny and Kyle.”
Kenseth is currently third in the NASCAR Sprint CupSeries point standings with a win, nine top-five and 14 top-ten finishes thusfar this season. Over the course of his career he has won a total of 22 Cupraces while earning 122 top-five and 223 top-ten finishes.
“I’m excited to announce what the nextchapter in my career will be,” said Kenseth. “I remain totallycommitted to this season and working with my current team toward a championshipand having this settled will only help my focus. JGR is an impressiveorganization with tremendous leadership and strong supportfrom sponsors like Dollar General and The Home Depot. I’m very fortunateto have the opportunity to move from one great situation into another startingin 2013.”
A Wisconsin native,Kenseth started his racing career at the age of 16 and was an instant successwinning his first feature race in just his third outing. By the age of 19he was winning races across the state of Wisconsinand in 1994 he would become the youngest driver to win the Slinger Nationals,one of the most prestigious short track races in the country. From there hewould successfully move through the ranks of the NASCAR All-Pro Series (1995),USAR Pro Cup Series (1996) and American Speed Association (1997).
He would make his debutin the NASCAR Nationwide Series in 1997 and run his first full season in theSeries in 1998. He has 248 career Nationwide Series starts with 26 wins, 118top-five, and 168 top-ten finishes. 1998 would also mark his Cup Series debut, but Kenseth would not run his first fullseason until 2000 when he would also win his first race on the premier level ofthe sport and go on to earn Rookie of the Year honors.
Kenseth would win the NASCAR Sprint Cup SeriesChampionship in 2003 with an impressive season that included one win, 11top-five and a career-high 25 top-ten finishes. He took the points leadfollowing the fourth week of the season and held it over the next 33 weeks enroute to the Championship. He won The Daytona 500 in 2009 and repeated the featagain this past February.
Matt and his wife Katie live in the Charlotte area with their two daughters. Hisson Ross currently attends ClemsonUniversity and is racingcompetitively as well.
Joe Gibbs Racing PR
Lowe’s announced today it will donate $133,966 to support American Red Cross relief efforts in response to Hurricane Isaac. As part of Lowe’s Racing for Relief program, Lowe’s matched the earnings of five-time Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson from Sunday’s NASCAR race at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Johnson and Hendrick Motorsports together will donate an additional $48,000 to the Red Cross.
The donations will help provide food, shelter, emotional support and other assistance to those affected by Hurricane Isaac. In addition, Lowe’s stores throughout the United States are accepting donations to the Red Cross at every register. Since partnering with the Red Cross in 1999, Lowe’s and its customers have contributed more than $23 million for disaster relief.
“Lowe’s heartfelt thoughts go out to those impacted by this disaster, many of whom are a part of our Lowe’s family,” said Joan Higginbotham, Lowe’s director of community relations. “By partnering with organizations like the American Red Cross, we’re able to ensure that immediate support and supplies continue to reach those in need.”
As a member of the Red Cross’ Annual Disaster Giving Program, Lowe’s pledges donations on an ongoing basis in advance of disasters to help ensure the Red Cross can take immediate action. Lowe’s provides additional support through the Racing for Relief program. This spring, Lowe’s donated more than $281,000 to the Red Cross, matching Team 48’s earnings at the Kobalt Tools 400 to assist communities affected by a deadly outbreak of tornadoes across the central and southern United States. To date, Racing for Relief has raised more than $750,000.
In addition to Racing for Relief and Lowe’s customer donation program, Lowe’s Heroes will continue to distribute critically needed relief supplies and work alongside The First Response Team of America as it responds to Hurricane Isaac. In June, Lowe’s Charitable and Educational Foundation awarded a $250,000 grant to the First Response Team, a nonprofit organization dedicated to working with local agencies to help save lives following natural disasters.
Jason White and his GB Racing team had high hopes coming into their sponsor’s home track in Atlanta. However, White and his No. 23 GunBroker.com Ford were caught up in someone else’s accident and relegated to a very disappointing 29th place finish in the running of the Jeff Foxworthy’s Grit Chips 200 at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
White started the 130-lap event from the 11th position as a result of his qualifying effort earlier in the day at the speed plant located in Hampton, Georgia. He would use the early laps of the event to work on a preferred line for his No. 23 GunBroker.com Ford around the 1.5-mile track. On lap 38, Jason would end up being in the wrong place as he was caught up in an accident. Two trucks in front of him got together and wrecked in turn four resulting in extensive damage to the GunBroker.com Ford. While the GB Racing team worked hard to repair the damage, it relegated Jason to a 29th place finish.
“That is definitely not what we wanted to see happen out there tonight,” stated White. “We worked hard all day on the handling of our GunBroker.com Ford and we were pretty good early on in the race. I was working on different lines and seeing where my truck would handle the best. I was just riding and suddenly the two trucks in front of me got together and I had nowhere to go. It was a shame as a pretty good truck was torn up and a decent run ruined.”
Despite the disappointing finish, White maintains his 10th position in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series drivers’ standings – 20 points out of the ninth position.
“I really hate it for all of the GunBroker.com folks,” added Jason. “This is our sponsor’s home track and they had a lot of people here tonight. We were in line for a solid run for them but got caught up in someone else’s mess. This GB Racing team has proved it recovers from races like this very well and I am sure that will be the case as we head to Iowa in a few weeks.”
Jason and his GunBroker.com team return to action on Saturday September 15th as the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series visits Iowa Speedway for the running of the American Ethanol 200.
Jason White PR
Richmond Area Walmart Stores to host NASCAR Driver Appearances, Racing Simulators, Fun for Fans Starting Sept. 4
As the Richmond area prepares for the upcoming Federated Auto Parts 400, select Walmart stores will offer authentic NASCAR merchandise and host exclusive fan events starting Sept. 4. Customers are invited to attend these special events and enjoy scheduled appearances by Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Cole Whitt, show car displays, and racing simulators – perfect to safely get behind the wheel and feel the power of NASCAR – on Sept. 4-7 from 8:30 a.m. to 8 p.m., varying by location.
According to the Virginia Tourism Corp., Virginia is the only state in the nation to host four NASCAR Sprint Cup races annually, representing a $600 million economic impact for the Commonwealth.
Race Time at Walmart
In addition to the fan events happening in Walmart parking lots, area Walmart stores will feature savings on all the food and snacks you need to enjoy the race, plus authentic NASCAR merchandise such as T-shirts and racing flags, with an even bigger selection of exclusive products available at Walmart.com/NASCAR.
Participating stores in Richmond area include:
Tuesday, Sept. 4, 2012
Displays free and open to the public include the Hellmann's Show Car, 5-hour Energy Show Car, Scott Ultimate Tailgate Truck, M&M's Show Car, Sim Pod and Trophy Display at:
671 Southpark Blvd.
Colonial Heights, Va.
10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Displays free and open to the public include the Oreo Ritz Show Car, No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil Dodge Charger, Cheez-It Show Car Simulator, Wheaties Show Car, Coca-Cola 2-Seat Simulator, Hefty's Show Car Simulator, No. 24 Pepsi MAX Chevrolet and the No. 88 Diet Mountain Dew Chevrolet at:
12000 Iron Bridge Road
11:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.
Wednesday, Sept. 5, 2012
Displays free and open to the public include the No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil Dodge Charger, 5-hour Energy Show Car, M&M's Show Car, and Sim Pod and Trophy Display at:
145 Hill Carter Parkway
10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Displays free and open to the public include the Oreo Ritz Show Car, Cheez-It Show Car Simulator, Wheaties Show Car, Coca-Cola 2-Seat Simulator, Hefty's Show Car Simulator, Scott Ultimate Tailgate Truck, No. 24 Pepsi MAX Chevrolet and the No. 88 Diet Mountain Dew Chevrolet at:
11400 W. Broad St.
Glen Allen, Va.
11:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.
Thursday, Sept. 6, 2012
Displays free and open to the public include the Wheaties Show Car, Oreo Ritz Show Car, Coca-Cola 2-Seat Simulator,M&M's Show Car, and Sim Pod and Trophy Display at:
12200 Chattanooga Plaza
10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Diet Mountain Dew's Sprint Cup Driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. at 6 p.m.
Unilever's Nationwide Series Driver Cole Whitt from 3 p.m. – 4 p.m.
Displays free and open to the public include the 5-hour Energy Show Car, Cheez-It Show Car Simulator, Hefty's Show Car Simulator, No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil Dodge Charger, Scott Ultimate Tailgate Truck, No. 24 Pepsi MAX Chevrolet and the No. 88 Diet Mountain Dew Chevrolet at:
7430 Bell Creek Road
2 p.m. – 8 p.m.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. is scheduled to participate in a live Q&A stage appearance at the Mechanicsville, Va. store on 7430 Bell Creek Road at 6 p.m.
Friday, Sept. 7, 2012
Displays free and open to the public include the M&M's Show Car, and Sim Pod and Trophy Display at:
2410 Sheila Lane
8:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.
Displays free and open to the public include the Wheaties Show Car, Oreo Ritz Show Car, Coca-Cola 2-Seat Simulator, 5-hour Energy Show Car, Cheez-It Show Car Simulator, Hefty's Show Car Simulator, No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil Dodge Charger, Scott Ultimate Tailgate Truck, No. 24 Pepsi MAX Chevrolet and the No. 88 Diet Mountain Dew Chevrolet at:
7901 Brook Road
10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
With the release of their fourth studio album for Roadrunner/604 Records“The Truth Is” last year, platinum-selling band Theory of a Deadman will be making their Kansas Speedway debut on Oct. 19 when they perform a post-race concert near Gate B after the Kansas Lottery 98.9, as part of a Low Dough promotion with 98.9 the Rock. Tickets for the Kansas Lottery 98.9, which includes the Theory of a Deadman and Adelitas Way concerts, are just $9.89 in advance. On race day (Oct. 19), general admission tickets to the Kansas Lottery 98.9, Theory of a Deadman and Adelitas Way concerts will be $10.
The Vancouver rock band was the first act to sign with Nickelback frontman Chad Kroeger’s 604 records in 2001. Tyler Connolly (lead vocals, lead guitar) reportedly slipped Kroeger a copy of the band’s demo at a post-concert party and the two were soon collaborating on songs together. One of these songs,“Invisible Man,” was used as the B-side for 2002’s wildly successful Spider-Man theme“Hero” and the band released their first album, “Theory of a Deadman”, later that year. Theory contributed a new song, co-written with The Exies singer Scott Stevens, called“Head Above Water” to the Transformers: Dark of the Moon soundtrack, which was released last year. The band is currently working on another album, which is due out next year.
Adelitas Way, a hard rock band from Las Vegas that broke into the mainstream in 2009, will kick off the evening with a pre-race concert near Gate B to rev fans up for the Kansas Lottery 98.9 at 6 PM.
Adelitas Way, who released their self-titled debut album in 2009, have seen their second album,“Home School Valedictorian” have their first No. 1 hit, “Sick.” Fans may have heard the fourth single off their current album, “Alive,” on this season of theBachelor Pad on ABC. Fans may also, recognize Adelitas Way’s song “Invincible,” which served as the theme song for WWESuperstars.
Kansas Speedway PR
The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series “regular season” draws to an end this weekend as “The Road to Richmond” culminates atRichmond International Raceway on Saturday, September 8 with the Federated Auto Parts 400—“One Last Race to Make The Chase.”
Following Sunday’s race in Atlanta, ten drivers are locked in, leaving just two open spots and eight drivers with a chance at racing their way into The Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. Only Saturday night’s Federated Auto Parts 400 remains before the field is set.
Six of the eight eligible drivers could automatically clinch a Chase berth with a trip to Victory Lane. Kasey Kahne is the only driver outside the top 10 with two wins, but he has yet to clinch a Chase spot. Five, one-win drivers still in the hunt for a Chase berth include Kyle Busch, Jeff Gordon, Marcos Ambrose, Ryan Newman and Joey Logano.
The remaining two drivers, Carl Edwards and Paul Menard, can clinch a “Wild Card” berth with a win and some help in finishing order from other drivers.
Even though it’s a must-win mindset for the bubble drivers, it can’t be overlooked how important wins are for drivers that have already clinched Chase berths. A victory by one of these drivers will give them valuable bonus points as they set the field for the final ten races of the year.
Here are the scenarios for a few of the “Wild Card” contenders and how they match up at Richmond:
Kyle Busch If Tony Stewart remains in the top 10 or if Kasey Kahne supplants Stewart in the top 10, Busch will clinch a Chase spot by losing 12 or fewer points to Jeff Gordon AND by losing 40 or fewer points to Marcos Ambrose. If Gordon supplants Stewart in the top 10, Busch would clinch a Chase berth with a win AND finishing five points ahead of Kahne. Busch is a four-time Richmond winner and has the second best driver rating of 116.1.
Jeff Gordon If Stewart remains in the top 10 or if Kahne supplants Stewart in the top 10, Gordon will clinch by finishing 13 points ahead of Busch AND by losing 28 or fewer points to Ambrose AND by losing 37 or fewer points to Ryan Newman. If Busch supplants Stewart in the top 10, Gordon would clinch a Chase berth with a win AND finishing 18 points ahead of Kahne. Gordon is a two-time winner at Richmond and has the sixth-best driver rating this weekend of 96.2.
Carl Edwards Edwards needs to win AND Busch has to finish 24th or worse (with no laps led) at and Jeff Gordon has to finish 12th or worse. If Busch or Gordon supplant Tony Stewart in the top 10, Edwards will be eliminated. Edwards has never won at Richmond and comes in this week with the 11th-best driver rating of 89.1. Last fall, Edwards had his best career finish, 2ndplace, at the ¾ mile short track.
With eight drivers having a chance at NASCAR’s version of the playoffs, expect non-stop beating and banging around Richmond’s ¾-mile, with tempers flaring and drivers taking chances like you’ve never seen before.