Speedway Digest Staff
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Martinsville Speedway introduces the format for this year’s ValleyStar Credit Union 300, the nation’s biggest, richest and most prestigious NASCAR Late Model Stock Car race, on Saturday, Sept. 25.
The ValleyStar Credit Union 300 will have a $110,000 purse with $32,000 to the race winner. The 200 lap feature race will include three segments: 75 laps, 75 laps and 50 laps. Stage 1 and Stage 2 winners will each receive $1,000.
On Friday, Sept. 24, four hours of practice will be followed by single car qualifying under the lights. The top two cars from qualifying will make the 200 lap feature with the pole winner receiving a $5,000 bonus. To determine the rest of the 40-car field for the feature, the remaining cars will be placed in heat races on Saturday, Sept. 25. There will be four heat races of 25 laps and no last chance race.
“This year’s format will challenge competitors on the track and keep fans on the edge of their seat with fierce action in the ValleyStar Credit Union 300,” said Martinsville President Clay Campbell. “Martinsville Speedway has always been a track that challenges the best in motorsports, so we look forward to this year’s ValleyStar Credit Union 300 increasing the heat of compeititon in the nation’s biggest, richest and most prestigious NASCAR Late Model Stock Car race.”
In the ValleyStar Credit Union 300 feature, the leader of each lap will receive $25 with $5,000 available in the laps led bonus pool. If the race concludes in overtime, there will be unlimited attempts at a Green White Checker finish.
The Virginia Triple Crown will be awarded at the ValleyStar Credit Union 300. The first two legs of the Virginia Triple Crown are at South Boston Speedway on Saturday, July 3 and Larry King Law’s Langley Speedway on Thursday, July 24. There will be no test days and teams will not be allowed to rent the track.
Josh Berry of JR Motorsports is the defending race champion as winner of the 2019 ValleyStar Credit Union 300. The 2020 ValleyStar Credit Union 300 was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Berry is now a two-time winner at Martinsville as he captured his first NASCAR Xfinity Series victory in this spring’s Cook Out 250.
Leading up to the ValleyStar Credit Union 300, Martinsville Speedway will host the Henry County Fair on Sept. 22-25. The Henry County Fair will include fun, family friendly attractions including state fair quality rides, an assortment of delicious fair foods, fun games of chance, animal exhibits, a petting zoo and live music performances nightly. It will also welcome the Great Lakes Timber Show and Circus Shane Show.
The Henry County Fair will be open on Sept. 22-23 from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m., Sept. 24 from 3 p.m. to 11 p.m. and Sept. 25 from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Gate pass admission to the Henry County Fair is $5. To learn more about the Henry County Fair, visit henrycountyvafair.com.
On Friday, Sept. 24, practice for the ValleyStar Credit Union 300 will be held from 2:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. followed by single car qualifying under the lights beginning at 8:00 p.m. The Campbell Family Foundation will host a fireworks extravaganza following ValleyStar Credit Union 300 qualifying and the Josh Shilling & Mountain Heart concert on the Bassett Furniture Stage at the Henry County Fair.
On Saturday, Sept. 25, the Fan Garage/Pit Experience (i.e. driver autograph session) will be free to all fans with a ticket from 12:45 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. Heat races will begin at 3:00 p.m. Pre-race festivities begin at 5:30 p.m. with the feature ValleyStar Credit Union 300 green flag at 7:00 p.m.
Tickets for the ValleyStar Credit Union 300 are $30 and unreserved. Youth 12 and under are free with a paying adult. Parking is free for the event. Coolers are allowed, but must be softsided and no larger than 14”x14”X14”. Tickets are available for purchase at the ticket office, via phone at 877-RACE-TIX or online at martinsvillespeedway.com.
For more information on the ValleyStar Credit Union 300, visit www.martinsvillespeedway.com/
Martinsville Speedway PR
Saturday, June 19th, marked NASCAR’s return to Nashville Superspeedway for the first time since 2011. Drivers Landon Cassill, Jeffrey Earnhardt, Colby Howard, and Ryan Vargas entered the weekend with anticipation as they all looked to race at the newly renovated 1.33-mile concrete track.
Ryan Vargas, driver of the No. 6 MaintenX Chevrolet, had Nashville marked on his calendar as a potential spot to shine. Vargas was able to gain valuable track time with a rare practice session that set him up for a 28th place qualifying effort. From the start, the rookie driver faced a difficult challenge with an ill handling car. Ryan finished 34th in Stage 1, but the crew continued to work on his Camaro throughout Stage 2, netting him five spots to finish 29th. As the final stage rolled onwards, Vargas began working his way back through the field. The rookie crossed the line in 18th place, a respectable run that should help build momentum heading into Pocono.
Landon Cassill, driver of the No. 4 Voyager Chevrolet, opened the Nashville race weekend with high hopes after announcing his primary sponsor would be onboard his Camaro for the rest of the season. Cassill had made two starts at the track in his rookie season with a best finish of ninth, so the veteran was looking forward to a solid return. Landon qualified 25th and ran a quiet race throughout the first two stages, finishing 29th in Stage 1 and 26th in Stage 2. As the race neared its conclusion, Cassill had found himself inside the Top 15 with some great strategy calls, but with less than ten laps to go, his race ended due to contact from another vehicle. The battered No. 4 was scored with a 29th place finish.
Unfortunately, Colby Howard, driver of the No. 15 Project Hope Foundation Chevrolet, and Jeffrey Earnhardt, driver of the No. 0 ForeverLawn Chevrolet, did not qualify for the race on Saturday. The two drivers will return to the track this weekend.
The NASCAR Xfinity Series season heads to Pocono Raceway this weekend for the annual stop at “The Tricky Triangle”. Fans can watch the Pocono Green 225 Recycled by J.P. Mascaro & Sons live on NBCSN at 12:00 PM ET on Sunday, June 27th. For all things JD Motorsports, follow along on our social media pages @JDMotorsports01 and visit the team’s official website at www.TeamJDMotorsports.com #TeamJDM
Race Winner: Kyle Larson of Hendrick Motorsports (Chevrolet)
Stage 1 Winner: Chase Elliott of Hendrick Motorsports (Chevrolet)
Stage 2 Winner: Kyle Larson of Hendrick Motorsports (Chevrolet)
Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-90):
● Kyle Busch started second and finished fifth.
● The driver of the PEDIGREE® Foundation Toyota Camry started second but jumped to the top spot as the field completed the first lap.
● Caution was displayed for a single-car accident on lap one. Busch restarted first on lap five but fell back to second on lap six.
● Green-flag stops started taking place on lap 40.
● Busch reported that the car’s handling was on the loose side getting into and exiting the turns and then tight in the center. He made a green-flag pit stop on lap 44 for four tires, fuel and a round of air pressure adjustments. While he was on pit road, the caution was displayed for a single-car incident. Busch exited pit road and was able to stay on the lead lap. Once NASCAR sorted the lineup, Busch was scored in first place.
● Green-flag racing resumed on lap 54. Busch battled but eventually dropped back a spot to second.
● The No. 18 PEDIGREE Foundation Toyota started to drop a few spots as the stage continued and was scored in sixth place when caution was displayed on lap 78.
● The team used the break to make major changes, adjusting the chassis and air pressures while changing four tires and adding fuel. Busch lined up ninth for the restart on lap 85.
● Busch raced back to the top-five to finish Stage 1 in fifth place.
Stage 2 Recap (Laps 91-185):
● Busch started second and finished fifth.
● The team stayed out at the end of Stage 1, which placed Busch in second place for the restart.
● During the next several laps Busch reported that the loose-tight-loose handling condition that plagued the car in the turns continued to be a problem.
● Caution waved on lap 132 for a single-car accident. Busch was scored in sixth place.
● The two-time NASCAR Cup Series champion reported that the car continued to handle tight in the center of the turns and that it had no grip at the exits. The team changed four tires, added fuel and made another round of chassis and air pressure adjustments. Busch lined up third for the restart.
● Caution was displayed on lap 173 for yet another single-car incident. Busch was scored in fourth place.
● The team made a stop for four tires, fuel and some air pressure adjustments. Busch lined up fifth for the restart on lap 180 and maintained the position to the conclusion of the final stage.
Final Stage Recap (Laps 186-300):
● Busch started third and finished 11th.
● The handling on the PEDIGREE Foundation Toyota continued to be problematic in the final stage. Busch steadily lost positions and was ninth by the time caution waved on lap 196. The issue continued once green-flag racing resumed, and Busch really started to lose position.
● The Las Vegas native was scored in 26th place on lap 210.
● Caution was displayed on lap 217. Busch made a trip to pit road for tires, fuel and adjustments. During the caution the team discovered that the right-front tire had started to go flat, which was the likely cause of Busch’s dramatic drop through the field.
● Busch battled during the next several laps to try and make up track position, and the team continued to try a variety of adjustments.
● On lap 227, Busch reported the car’s handling had shifted to being very tight. Again, the team tried a variety of adjustments to help the handling situation.
● As the race continued Busch was able to move through the field and was back among the top-20 at lap 238. He continued those efforts to the conclusion, finishing the day in 11th place.
Kyle Busch, driver of the No. 18 PEDIGREE Foundation Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing:
“Our qualifying result was way better than expected. I didn’t expect to qualify that well, based on what we learned in practice. We completely wholesaled everything and changed it all before qualifying, so we didn’t know what to expect with our PEDIGREE Camry. Obviously thought we would be better than 11th. We have work to do.”
The next event on the NASCAR Cup Series schedule is a doubleheader June 26-27 at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway. The Pocono 325 starts at 3 p.m. EDT on Saturday, and the Explore the Pocono Mountains 350 begins at 3:30 p.m. on Sunday. Live coverage of both will be provided by NBCSN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.
Matt DiBenedetto and the No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane team had a top-10 run going in Sunday’s Ally 400 at Nashville Superspeedway only to experience a rare engine issue that led to a 24th-place finish.
DiBenedetto qualified 11th for the Cup Series’ first race at the 1.33-mile concrete Nashville Superspeedway, which was hosting the first Cup race in Music City since 1984.
Running before a sellout crowd, DiBenedetto immediately was on the march. He was up to seventh place after five laps and in the top five by Lap Eight.
He continued to run inside the top 10 for the entire first Stage and ended that 90-lap segment in 10th place, despite making a pit stop that dropped him to 12th place just prior to the end of the Stage.
When five drivers who finished the first Stage ahead of him made their pit stops, he moved up to fifth place for the ensuing restart. Then just as the second Stage got under way, the engine in the Motorcraft/Quick Lane Mustang developed a miss, and DiBenedetto began dropping back.
Despite being down on power, he remained on the lead lap for much of the remainder of the race and was able to run respectable speeds at times. With just over 50 laps left to go in the 300-lapper, he fell off the lead lap and crossed the finish line in 25th place. He moved up one spot in the finishing order, and gained one Stage point, when Chase Elliott was disqualified.
“We definitely had a car that was capable of finishing in the top 10,” DiBenedetto said. “It drove well. The crew had good stops, and [crew chief Jonathan] Hassler made good calls on the pit box.
“Everybody did a good job, but we had the engine issue.”
He said the team quickly changed spark plug wires and plug to no avail. “It must have been something internal,” he said.
DiBenedetto said that while his Motorcraft/Quick Lane Mustang was fast at Nashville there’s still a bit more work to be done.
“We are still missing a little bit of speed to be able to compete with the top cars,” he said. “But there are a lot of teams in the garage saying the same thing right now.
“We’ll just move on from [Nashville] and keep working hard.”
Sunday’s finish dropped DiBenedetto two positions in the Cup Series standings to 19th, 30 points behind 16th place.
Next up for the Motorcraft/Quick Lane team is a double-header at Pocono Raceway, with a 130-lap, 325-mile race on Saturday (June 26) followed by a 140-lap, 350-miler on Sunday.
Kyle Larson loves being behind the wheel.
Whether it’s at a local dirt track, a mammoth speedway or simply in his motorhome in the wee hours of the morning traveling from track to track, Larson is at home in the driver’s seat.
And right now, everyone in NASCAR is trying to figure out a way to pass him.
Larson won the inaugural “Ally 400” NASCAR Cup Series race at Nashville Superspeedway on Sunday, leading a commanding 264 laps and sending a clear message that Hendrick Motorsports’ No. 5 Chevrolet is the team to beat in the second half of the season.
A sold-out crowd of 38,000 fans saw the 28-year-old from Elk Grove, Calif., capture the first Cup Series event in Middle Tennessee in 37 years and celebrate in Victory Lane with a stunning trophy and a custom-made Gibson guitar.
“This crowd is awesome,” Larson said. “We’ve had the best car on the race track for about a month and a half now. It’s good to take advantage of that. We had a near-perfect day.
“Everyone all week has been aiming to take home that Gibson guitar.”
Larson is the first driver to win three straight Cup Series points races since Brad Keselowski in 2018 and he has six consecutive top-two finishes. As a team, Hendrick Motorsports has won five straight regular-season races, as well as last week’s All-Star event, also won by Larson.
Larson completed the 400 miles in 3 hours, 30 minutes, 23 seconds, averaging 113.792 mph and beating Ross Chastain to the checkered flag by 4.335 seconds. Eleven caution flags took up 60 of the race’s 300 laps.
Larson’s Hendrick teammate William Byron finished third, followed by pole winner Aric Almirola in fourth and Kevin Harvick in fifth.
“We don’t have anything for those Chevrolets right now,” Almirola said. “It’s so hard to race with them. But we have made huge strides to close the gap. Our race team is doing a great job scrounging and scrapping to build better race cars and it’s nice to come here and run up front, run in the top five and at least be in the mix, so it feels good. We’ll just keep building on it.”
Aside from a grueling NASCAR Cup Series schedule, fans can often see Larson at various smaller tracks across the country, battling against local stars at their home venues. He estimated he entered close to 100 races last year alone.
“He eats, sleeps and breathes racing,” said car owner Rick Hendrick. “I’ve never seen anybody more intense about racing every minute of every day.
“The team was pretty flawless all day long. They’ve been in full stride here for the last seven, eight weeks.”
Other notable finishes included Kyle Busch in 11th and Cup Series points leader Denny Hamlin in 22nd. Defending Cup Series champion Chase Elliott was disqualified for having five loose lugnuts in post-race inspection and was credited in 39th.
After racing under the checkered flag, Larson gave his own tribute to the appreciative fans with a full burnout in front of all the grandstands along the 1.33-mile concrete track’s lengthy frontstretch.
“It was a salute to the crowd,” Larson said. “We had enough fuel and rubber to do a good burnout there at the end.”
“We’re happy to be here,” Hendrick added. “I love this place. I loved the crowd. It just felt good. It felt like years ago, with fans shoulder to shoulder. We’re glad to get this win.”
Out of the 3,280 total campsites at Pocono Raceway for the 2021 NASCAR Doubleheader this weekend, only 71 spots are unsold and currently available for purchase. RV and Tent Camping spots for the Infield and GEICO Family Campgrounds are only available while supplies last. To purchase camping, please call Pocono Raceway’s Ticket Office at 1-800-722-3929 or visit www.poconoraceway.com/camping.
Kids, ages 12 and under, always camp for free during NASCAR event weekends at ‘The Tricky Triangle.’ All Camping guests will enjoy four nights/five days of camping, three nights of live music and entertainment at the Infield Block Party, daily programming for all ages at the Pocono Mountains Activities & Welcome Center, the Pocono Raceway Bark Park for dogs, the #POCONOMTNS Inclusive Playground for kids of all abilities to learn, grow and play together and an incredible firework show on Saturday night. Campers receive complimentary access to the Grandstand for the General Tire #AnywhereIsPossible 200 ARCA Menards Series race on Friday and access to Fan Fair all weekend. And, new for 2021, camping guests with a Pit/Paddock Pass will be able to ride their bike around the 2.5-mile track on Thursday evening and Friday morning, as well as walk the Frontstretch.
The Infield and GEICO Family Campgrounds will open to camping guests starting at Noon on Thursday, June 24. All campers must check in at the new RV/Camping Registration by entering through Gate 7 located off Route 115. Campers can stay until Noon on Monday, June 28. RV & Camping Registration will close at 10 p.m. ET on Saturday, June 26. All Infield camping spots purchased before Wednesday, June 23 will receive (2) complimentary, race weekend Pit/Paddock Passes.
The 2021 NASCAR Doubleheader Weekend at Pocono Raceway will feature five NASCAR & ARCA races in three days, including two NASCAR Cup Series races taking place on back-to-back days. The jam-packed weekend starts with the General Tire #AnywhereIsPossible 200 ARCA Menards Series race on Friday, June 25th. The CRC Brakleen 150 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and the first of two NASCAR Cup Series races will be held on Saturday, June 26th. The weekend ends with the Pocono Green 225 Recycled by J.P. Mascaro & Sons NASCAR Xfinity Series race and the Explore the Pocono Mountains 350 NASCAR Cup Series races on Sunday, June 27th.
For additional event details, schedule and important fan information, visit www.poconoraceway.com/eventguide.
Pocono Raceway PR
Officials from Lee Faulk Racing and Development are excited to announce a working relationship with Toyota Racing Development (TRD).
The Our Motorsports team had a tough day in Music City for the Tennessee Lottery 250. The No.02 of Brett Moffitt suffered an equipment malfunction which led to a 23rd place finish. The No.23 of Natalie Decker started 36th and battled hard for a 26th place finish in her 3rd Xfinity start.
The 188 lap, 250 mile race began with Moffitt qualifying 18th and Decker in 36th. During the first stage both Our Motorsports cars remained consistent in their starting positions, resulting in both an 18th and 36th place finish at the end of stage one. Both cars came in for four tires, fuel and adjustments. Moffitt reported that his car was free off the corners during the first stage.
At the start of stage two, Moffitt rolled off 10th with Decker behind him in 30th.
Moffitt remained in the top 15 for several laps during the stage, but by lap 80 Moffitt was in the 17th position. Decker was racing in the 33rd position at the end of the stage.
When the green flag came back out during the final stage, Moffitt started 16th and Decker in 30th. Moffitt was running 18th before suffering an equipment malfunction that caused him to go two laps down. By the time the checkered flag waved, Moffitt was 23rd and Decker was 26th.
Decker took to Instagram after the race stating that she learned a lot and had fun driving the No.23. Decker mentioned that she didn’t have a lot of experience at tracks like Nashville and was happy to see improvements with every lap. She will be back in the No.23 July 3rd at Road of America for her fourth Xfinity start.
The NASCAR Xfinity Series returns to action next weekend at Pocono Raceway in Long Pound, PA. The Pocono Green 225 Recycled is set for Sunday, June 27 at 12 p.m. ET on NBCSN.
Our Motorsports PR