Speedway Digest Staff
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SRT Motorsports announced today that Dodge will withdraw from NASCAR competition at the conclusion of the 2012 season.
Ralph Gilles, President and CEO – Street and Racing Technology Brand and Motorsports, Chrysler Group LLC, made the announcement during a media teleconference call. The decision affects current involvement in both the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and NASCAR Nationwide Series. Penske Racing currently fields two Dodge Charger cars in the Sprint Cup Series and two Dodge Challenger cars in the Nationwide Series.
Penske Racing announced in February that it would end its partnership with Dodge, which started in 2003, at the end of the 2012 season.
“We’ve spent an intense five months working to identify and evaluate all options for our future involvement in NASCAR,” Gilles said. “A number of opportunities emerged, and our team worked diligently to put a structure together to fit our overall business and competitive objectives. While we have been pleased and enthused with the amount of interest from teams and sponsors over that time, in the end, we simply couldn’t develop the right structure.”
Dodge has recorded 215 wins in the Sprint Cup Series, including 55 since 2001, and has been represented in the NASCAR Chase for the Sprint Cup seven of the eight seasons. In 2010, Brad Keselowski captured the NASCAR Nationwide Series championship in a Dodge from Penske Racing.
“It’s an extremely difficult decision to know that we won’t be there for our fans next season,” Gilles added. “It’s important to note that we have not lost focus on 2012 or the commitment to our partnership with Penske Racing in both the Sprint Cup Series and Nationwide Series this season.”
Brad Keselowski currently is seventh in the Sprint Cup Series standings and has three wins in his quest to make the 12-driver Chase field for the second consecutive year. In Nationwide Series competition, Sam Hornish Jr. is locked in a four-way battle for the season championship.
Chrysler Group LLC PR
STATEMENT FROM NASCAR
“Dodge has been a great partner to NASCAR for many years, and they have been part of numerous memorable moments throughout our history,” said NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France. “They made a business decision not to return in 2013, as they did in 1977 before returning in 2001. We wish them well and hope they again will choose to return to NASCAR at a later date.
“Our fans have a passion for cars and emotional connections to particular manufacturers, and that’s why in 2013 we will debut new race car designs that are modeled after each manufacturer’s production cars. This change is a direct result of feedback from our fans, who are the most brand loyal in all of sports.”
NASCAR has penalized the No. 43 team in the NASCAR Nationwide Series as a result of rule infractions discovered during post-race inspection last Saturday at Iowa Speedway.
The No. 43 car was found to be in violation of Sections 12-1 (actions detrimental to stock car racing); 12-4J (any determination by NASCAR officials that race equipment used in the event does not conform to NASCAR rules); and 20A-12.8.1B(body height requirements – car failed to meet the minimum front car heights) of the 2012 NASCAR rule book.
As a result, crew chief Philippe Lopez has been fined $10,000, while owner Sandra Turner and driver Michael Annett have been penalized with the loss of six championship owner and six championship driver points, respectively. In addition, Lopez and car chief Michael Wright continue to remain on NASCAR probation until Dec. 31.
New York State of Mind... Brazilian driver Miguel Paludo will make his second career NASCAR Nationwide Series (NNS) start in this weekend's 200-mile race at Watkins Glen International, where he will pilot the No. 30 Chevrolet Impala. Paludo has never set foot on the property of the 2.54-mile road course in Watkins Glen, N.Y., but he showed his road-racing prowess earlier in the season when he qualified ninth and led four laps in his first trip to Road America. Paludo ran up front for much of the day before a broken sway-bar arm took him out of contention for the win in the closing laps.
Man in Black... With a new NNS car number comes a new look for Paludo and the Duroline Brakes and Components crew. The familiar primary color scheme will go black, neon red and electric blue for Saturday's Zippo 200 at The Glen. In addition to long-time primary sponsor, Duroline, the scheme will feature Paludo's Twitter and Facebook handles on the TV panel, and his website, MiguelPaludo.com, on the deck lid.
Atop the Box... For the first time in 2012, Paludo will have a different voice calling the shots from atop the pit box in Watkins Glen. Paludo will work with regular No. 30 NNS crew chief Trent Owens this weekend. Owens led Nelson Piquet Jr. to victory lane in the driver's Road America debut earlier this season. Paludo's full-time NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) crew chief Mike Hillman Jr. will be close at hand as well, as he will also be making the trip to The Glen to support his driver.
Diabetes Fact of the Week... Periodontal (gum) disease is more common in people with diabetes. Among young adults, those with diabetes have about twice the risk of those without diabetes. Adults aged 45 years or older with poorly controlled diabetes are 2.9 times more likely to have severe periodontitis than those without diabetes. The likelihood is even greater (4.6 times) among smokers with poorly controlled diabetes.
This Week's Impala... The No. 30 team will unload chassis TMS-303 this weekend at Watkins Glen. This is the same chassis Paludo raced in his NNS debut at Road America earlier this season. Paludo qualified within the top-10 and was a strong competitor throughout the day until a late-race sway-bar arm failure resulted in a 29th-place finish.
Paludo on this weekend's NNS race at Watkins Glen
"I am really excited to be racing at Watkins Glen. I've never been to that track before, but I was so incredibly comfortable in the Nationwide car at Road America. We were running up front all day and we just had some bad luck at the end when the sway-bar arm broke, so we didn't get the finish we deserved. I just want to turn that all around and have a good weekend at The Glen. I know that we will be extremely competitive, so I want to bring home a great finish for the team, for myself and for Duroline. I had so much fun road course racing earlier in the year, so I'm really pumped about this."
Turner Motorsports PR
No. 56 NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota driver Martin Truex Jr. has many reasons to look forward to Sunday’s second and final road course race of the 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup season at Watkins Glen International.
In six starts at The Glen, the Mayetta, N.J. native owns two top-five and three top-10 finishes including a fourth-place finish last year. He’s scored the sixth most points in the last six races on the 2.45-mile New York track. In the 2012 season’s only other road course race, Truex led 15 laps and his Michael Waltrip Racing teammate Clint Bowyer led 71 laps en route to the victory at Sonoma.
But Truex has his eye on the bigger picture as well. He’s fifth in points with just five races remaining before the start of the Chase for the Sprint Cup. He owns a 72-point lead compared to the 11th-place driver for the tenth and final Chase points berth.
MARTIN TRUEX JR. ON RACING AT WATKINS GLEN: "I'm looking forward to Watkins Glen. I've had a lot of great runs there and great finishes. We were in the mix for the lead with a few laps to go last year. I always enjoy running up there. I grew up running the North Series and remember going up there with my father years ago. That's one of my tracks I grew up going to and consider it special. I love to road race and especially at Watkins Glen. I am really looking forward to it."
TRUEX ON TOYOTA RACING DEVELOPMENT (TRD): “At Indy, TRD brought out a new engine for us and it was just unbelievable with the gains they have made. We came to Pocono with a similar package and it proved to be another great engine. TRD and all of their guys have done an awesome job for us. They have come a long way—not only in the last few years, but throughout this season. I feel like we are up there with the top teams now. It certainly helps, especially on restarts, we have an engine package that can really keep up. I really appreciate what those guys have done for us and will continue to do for us.”
ON MWR STATUS HEADING INTO CHASE: “I think we are close to where we need to be, but we still have some more work to do. I don’t think a team is completely happy unless they are winning every race. We have some work to do, but I am just proud of my NAPA team as well as the entire Michael Waltrip Racing organization especially looking back at where we all started. Having a real shot at making the Chase is a really big deal for us. Michael Waltrip Racing has never had a car in the Chase. Right now we are looking at putting two Toyotas in there. All and all, things are going well for us. I think with the tracks coming up like Michigan, Bristol and Richmond, we have a real shot at it. I also would like to get that win out of the way, too. If we can get a win, it would boost our confidence even more and provide the momentum we need to be a serious threat out there.”
Sam Hornish Jr. will be pulling double duty again this weekend at Watkins Glen International – competing in both Saturday’s Zippo 200 NASCAR Nationwide Series race and Sunday’s Finger Lakes 355k NASCAR Sprint Sup Series battle. Hornish posted his best career Cup road course finish in his last trip to the Glen and thinks the extra track time could help him better that mark.
“I think that running in both races this weekend should help us all the way around – in both Saturday’s Nationwide race and in Sunday’s Cup race,” said Hornish. “We did it there in 2008, so it’s not a new experience to run both races.
“Racing in both series’ races will be beneficial for sure. Sure, it’ll be another busy weekend bouncing back and forth between the Nationwide garage and the Cup garage. But, at least this weekend it won’t be a situation requiring planes and choppers to get back and forth like it was last weekend (in running the Pocono Cup race and the Iowa Nationwide race).
“The seat time on the track will be worth all the hustle there this weekend,” added Hornish. “Hopefully it will make us stronger in both the PPG Dodge in Saturday’s race and the Shell-Pennzoil Dodge in Sunday’s race.”
Hornish competed in the three Sprint Cup Series races at Watkins Glen during the 2008-2010 seasons, posting an average start of 27.3 and a like 27.3 average finish. Crashing out of the 2009 Watkins Glen race produced his only DNF in Cup road course racing to date.
Entering this weekend’s race at the Glen, Hornish has six overall Cup starts on road courses. He is still looking for his first top-10 finish and hoping to lead his first lap in Cup cars on road courses. Hornish has a 26.0 average start and 31.2 average finish in those six races. He has completed 91.240 percent (552 of 605) of all possible laps and has been running in five of the six races.
Hornish started 12th and finished 14th in his last trip to Watkins Glen in the August 2010 Sprint Cup race for his best Cup road course finish to date. It was also the last time Hornish was behind the wheel of a Cup car on a road course.
“I really like racing on the road courses, but we’ve just not had much good luck on those tracks,” said Hornish. “I really like Watkins Glen. We started fifth and finished second there in the 2007 IndyCar race. We are certainly looking for that level of success over here in NASCAR, too.
“My early background was pretty much all about racing on road courses. It was like 90 percent road courses and only 10 percent ovals,” Hornish added. “I really like Watkins Glen. The corners there are fast and lead into the straightaways, so it is all about momentum. We are really looking forward to being in a Cup car again there this weekend.”
Shell-Pennzoil Dodge crew chief Todd Gordon is extremely enthusiastic entering this weekend’s return to Watkins Glen. Gordon visited Victory Lane during his last visit to the track in the 2011 Zippo 200 Nationwide Series race. Kurt Busch substituted for regular driver Brad Keselowski who broke his ankle during testing two weeks earlier. Gordon was calling the shots as Busch won the pole and drove to an impressive 0.974-second victory over Jimmie Johnson in the battle that featured a green-white-checkered finish.
“I am really looking forward to working with Sam this weekend at Watkins Glen,” said Gordon. “Sam had a really strong race weekend in his last visit to a road course. He started eighth, led laps and finished a solid fifth at Road America back in June. I think he can bring some of that momentum with him to Watkins Glen this weekend.
“All the track time he will get this weekend will be beneficial – I’m sold on that,” Gordon said on Monday night. “The key is keeping it all in the proper perspective. The cars are different and there are various nuances you have to keep in mind in going from one car to the other. We kind of experienced that with Kurt last year there. Sam and I discussed the situation at the shop today and I think we have a great checks-and-balance plan all laid out for him to bounce back and forth between the two garages this weekend.”
Hornish, Gordon and the Penske Racing No. 22 Team will be utilizing their “PRS-808” Shell-Pennzoil Dodge Charger this weekend at Watkins Glen International. This is the same car that AJ Allmendinger raced in the June 24 Toyota/Save-Mart 350 at Sonoma, Calif. Starting 17th, the car was solid all day long and came home in the ninth finishing position. This chassis was first raced at Richmond in the April 28 Capital City 400. Allmendinger started fourth and finished 16th in that race. The car was lightning fast on short runs, but with only five cautions during the entire race there was little time to make adjustments. The “PRS-807” chassis will serve as the backup at the Glen this weekend. It was in the transporter serving as the backup at Phoenix, Bristol and Martinsville, but has never seen any track time to date. “We converted the car over to be our road course car and it proved to be a strong piece out in Sonoma,” crew chief Gordon offered. “We don’t have a large car inventory and some of that is intentional because we will be racing the new cars next season. It was determined shortly after the Sonoma race that it would also be our primary car for Watkins Glen this weekend.”
This weekend’s action at Watkins Glen International gets under way with Sprint Cup practice on Friday from 12:00 noon till 1:50 p.m. and from 4:10 p.m. till 5:30 p.m. (live on SPEED-TV). Sunday’s 43-car starting field will be determined in Saturday’s 11:40 a.m. single round of Cup qualifying (live on ESPN2). Sunday’s Finger Lakes 355k Sprint Cup race has a 1:00 p.m. EDT starting time, with ESPN and MRN Radio presenting live coverage of the 90-lap, 220.5-mile battle.
In what turned out to be an event-filled few days for Jason White, the driver and his team stayed focused on what was important and came home with an 11th-place finish in the running of the Pocono Mountains 125 at Pocono Raceway. One of the shortest races of the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series season presented White and his team with little time to adjust on the handling of their No. 23 GunBroker.com Ford, but their determination and focus led to a solid finish in the race representing the halfway point of the season.
White started the 125-mile event from the 14th position as a result of his qualifying effort earlier in the day at the tricky 2.5-mile track. The drop of the green flag would see Jason be patiently aggressive in the 50-lap event at the scenic track in the Pocono Mountains as he worked his way around the track known as the “Tricky Triangle”. While the second half of the event would turn eventful for many competitors, Jason and his No. 23 GunBroker.com Ford would once again keep their focus and come home safely with another solid finish.
“We battled with a tight truck out there today but were able to keep ourselves out of the late trouble and come home with a solid finish,” stated White. “We brought our new truck here this week which is the one that we tested earlier this week in Michigan at the tire test but we continue to work on getting a solid grip on this truck. We still are working on making this truck the best than it can be but we just aren’t there yet – but we are getting pretty close.”
White, who also led the halfway lap of the event, maintains his 10th position in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series drivers’ standings – 16 points out of the ninth position.
White would also find himself unexpectedly busier at Pocono Raceway as he was pressed into the action behind the wheel of the No. 32 Ford of FAS Lane Racing for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event on Sunday. Jason, making his second career start in the top series of NASCAR, would end up coming home with a 31st place finish in the rain shortened event.
Jason and his GunBroker.com team will enjoy a week off before the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series returns to action on Saturday August 18th when the series visits Michigan International Speedway for the running of the VFW 200.
Families or friends looking to save money while enjoying quality time together can do just that this Labor Day weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series AdvoCare 500 on Sunday, Sept. 2 with the FANtastic Four Pack.
The speedway’s FANtastic Four Pack gives fans access to the race and dinner in one all-inclusive deal. For only $159, customers can get four tickets in the Lower Elliott Grandstand, plus four hot dogs and four Coca-Colas.
Aside from dinner and the race, fans that purchase the FANtastic Four Pack gain many other perks. The Elliott Grandstand sits high above turn three, giving fans an amazing view of the 1.54-mile speedway, illuminated under the track’s lights, while the stars of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series chase a victory in the AdvoCare 500. The Elliott Grandstand will also offer a great vantage point of the post-race fireworks, moments after the checkered flag falls.
And fans will be treated to a free breakfast on Monday, Sept. 3 in the Nationwide Series garage. “Breakfast on Bruton” will run from 7:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m., and is free to all AdvoCare 500 ticket holders. AMS President and General Manager Ed Clark will be on hand, as well as track staff, to greet and thank fans who helped make the biggest Labor Day party in the USA even bigger in 2012.
Pocono Raceway Has Established the Pennsylvania 400 Memorial Fund for Victims of Lightning Strike Tragedy
Pocono Raceway has established the Pennsylvania 400 Memorial Fund to benefit the victims of the lighting strike tragedy which occurred following the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Pocono Raceway on Sunday, August 5, 2012.
Donations will be accepted at any PNC Branch or by mailing checks/money orders, addressed to “Pennsylvania 400 Memorial Fund” to the following address:
Attn: Pennsylvania 400 Memorial Fund
1234 Long Pond Road
Long Pond, PA 18334
Pocono Raceway PR
After win No. 86, there are no plans to "let up" for Jeff Gordon - only attack.
With his victory at Pocono last Sunday, Gordon moved into the final wildcard spot for the "Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup." But the four-time Watkins Glen International winner knows the No. 24 Drive To End Hunger team must continue to press while the pressure is on.
"(The Pocono win) only puts more pressure on us over these next several weeks, but we're ready for the challenge," said Gordon, who has moved from 22nd in the point standings to 13th on the heels of seven consecutive finishes of 12th or better. "With all we've been through this year and this team staying together while not pointing fingers, we knew if we could get to Victory Lane it would make us stronger.
"We've put together a string of good runs and finishes, but we have to keep fighting for wins. I don't know if one win will be good enough to secure a wildcard spot."
This Sunday's Finger Lakes 355 at The Glen marks Gordon's 20th start at the 2.45-mile track. Along with four wins, the four-time NASCAR Cup Series champion has two poles, six top-fives and nine top-10's at the New York track. But he has not experienced good results recently, something he believes can change Sunday.
"We've not run very well at Watkins Glen in recent years and it's been very disappointing to me and the team," said Gordon, the all-time leader in NASCAR Sprint Cup road course victories with nine. "But I'm optimistic because I felt we made big improvements at Sonoma. We tested at Road Atlanta before that race, and I think it's a better track for Watkins Glen than it is for Sonoma.
"But we won't really know until we get on the track.
"I always love the road courses and Watkins Glen is always one of my favorites. It's a fast road course and you've got to have grip and comfort in that car through the esses and the high speed corners. You've got to attack the race track in the braking zones, and the car has got to be there for you and stick.
"Recently, though, I just feel like we've been missing a little something here."
Something Gordon hopes to find on the way to Victory Lane Sunday.
Michigan International Speedway has opened its cyber doors with a revamped Web site.
The track unveiled a new Web site on Monday. www.MISpeedway.com launched with a fresh look and unique interactive features, allowing MIS to be open to race fans 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
The track also revamped its Canadian URL — www.MISpeedway.ca, further strengthening its commitment to the track’s Canadian customers. The Canadian site for MIS is the first of its kind for NASCAR Sprint Cup Series racetracks.
“It is essential for us to do anything we can for all our race fans and guests to make it easier for them to not only buy a race ticket, but to navigate their way around MIS 24 hours a day, including those who support us so loyally in Canada,” speedway President Roger Curtis said. “Our Web site is a key ingredient of our customer service commitment, so we want to make sure it’s easy to use and as friendly and helpful as any of our staff.”
Besides the updated look that captures the speedway’s “NASCAR in a national park” essence, the Web site promises to help current and future race fans educate themselves and plan their trips to the Irish Hills racetrack with four simple levels of navigation — tickets, camping, guest guide and about us.
These navigation buttons not only help fans buy race tickets and learn about MIS, it makes it easier to get involved with the sport of NASCAR.
It’s also about the fans.
These links will not only help fans find everything they need to know about planning their NASCAR trips to MIS, but it will also help them find the speedway on the World Wide Web’s social and interactive sites like Twitter and Facebook. There’s even a link for the speedway’s Web chats, Podcasts and favorite tailgate recipes.
Curtis added the Web site is an extension of MIS’ brand and helps get race fans excited about their summertime trips to Michigan.
The web site is also available in a mobile version.