Speedway Digest Staff
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Kyle Busch Motorsports (KBM) announced today that the team has parted ways with Jason Leffler. Kurt Busch will be behind the wheel of the No. 18 Shore Lodge Tundra for the VFW 200 at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn on Aug. 18 and the driver lineup for the remaining races that Leffler was scheduled to drive this season will be determined at a later date.
"How things have played out this season are not Jason's fault -- we've had some bad luck and a few other misfortunate happenings -- but when it comes down to it, the No. 18 team has not performed to the standards we've become accustomed to and we owe it to our manufacturer and our sponsors to produce better results," KBM owner Kyle Busch said. "Beginning to make these changes now, instead of waiting until the end of the season, it will allow us to evaluate where our program stands as we begin working towards becoming a championship-contending team once again in 2013. Jason represented KBM and all of our sponsors very well and we wish him the best of luck."
Brian Scott is scheduled to be behind the wheel of the No. 18 Tundra at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway on Aug. 24 and for three other races this season. Drew Herring will make his Truck Series debut in the September race at Iowa Speedway in Newton.
Turner Motorsports PRTurner
Due to an overwhelming response by fans, drivers and members of the media, Atlanta Motor Speedway will offer the full lineup of food items made with Coca-Cola® products at the Taste of Coca-Cola®concession stand during the Labor Day Weekend of NASCAR Night Racing at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
The lineup of items was put to a fan vote over the summer and the Cherry Coke® BBQ Pork Sandwich with Vidalia Onion Rings and Coca-Cola® Chili Dog were the top vote-getters.
“Chef Frank Abbinati from Levy Restaurants presented so many great products, that it was hard to narrow them down,” said Atlanta Motor Speedway President Ed Clark. “The consensus from drivers, our employees and from the fans voting was that you really can’t lose with any of these incredibly delicious foods, so we’re excited to offer all of them to fans on Labor Day Weekend. I have to admit the Coke Zero® Braised Beef Tacos are my favorite.”
The first of its kind concession offers fans a total of five Coca-Cola® -infused products and also features items produced in the state of Georgia.
“We wanted fans from Georgia to have a sense of pride about the food products that originate from our great state,” said Clark. “But the fans that visit us from the other 49 states and around 15 foreign countries to have something to try that represents the area they are visiting. Their race weekend won’t be complete until they try at least one of these tasty and unique items.”
The five menu items are:
Coke Zero® Braised Beef Tacos – Six-hour Coca-Cola® braised brisket served in a fresh flour tortilla with diablo sauce, crispy greens, cilantro vinaigrette and tortilla strips
Coca-Cola® Chili Dog – All Beef Mini Hot Dogs topped with Coca-Cola® Chili, aged Cheddar, and fresh Pico de Gallo
Fries with Coca-Cola® Dipping Sauce – You’ll never put ketchup on your fries again after trying the Coca-Cola® Dipping Sauce
Georgia Peaches and Sprite Elephant Ear – Fresh Georgia Peaches simmer with Sprite®, vanilla and fresh squeezed lemon, served over sweet dough and dusted with powdered sugar and caramel
Cherry Coke® BBQ Pork Sandwich with Vidalia Onion Rings – Slow cooked to perfection with Cherry Coke® Barbecue sauce, served on mini buns with crispy Vidalia Onions and roasted tomato
The Taste of Coca-Cola® concession stand is located outside Section 123 in the fronstretch Earnhardt stands on Labor Day weekend, Aug. 31-Sept. 2, 2012.
No. 56 NAPA AUTO PARTS crew chief Chad Johnston has spent so much time thinking about the Chase in 2012 that he named his son after it.
OK, that might be a stretch.
But Johnston and his driver Martin Truex Jr. hope to take another step closer to securing a place in NASCAR’s 12-driver Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship when the series races at Michigan International Speedway on Sunday.
Johnston missed the June Michigan race when Chase Allen Johnston was born in Charlotte, N.C., on the Friday of Michigan weekend. Truex finished 12th in the race with Scott Miller, MWR’s executive vice president of competition, on the pit box. Truex and Johnston plan to continue their recent hot streak which includes three consecutive top-10 finishes and the fourth most points in the last six races.
Crew Chief Chad Johnston On Naming His Son Chase: “I wanted my son’s initials to be the same as mine. It was between the names Chase and Cameron. My wife and I chose Chase Allen Johnston. We didn’t want to sound corny and name him Chad Jr.”
On Approaching The Chase: “I will feel comfortable once the race at Richmond is over. My focus right now is on the single-digit and top-10 finishes. We are not changing the way we approach races. It’s all about consistency and keeping our head down and eye on the goal. We want to win a race and make the Chase. The Chase is rapidly approaching so if we can be consistent with top-10, top-five finishes and not make any mistakes, then I will feel comfortable entering Richmond with the 75-point pad. I may breathe a little easier then, but I am still not sure.”
On Team Objectives: “Right now we are not getting ahead of ourselves. I honestly have not started thinking about the Chase. Maybe as we get closer, I probably will. If we do our jobs like we do every week then getting into the Chase will take care of itself. Now is not the time to experiment and go out on a limb. Now is the time to continue and learn as much as we can. If you look at these next four races — Michigan, Bristol, Atlanta and Richmond, you can learn a lot for places like Chicago, New Hampshire and Dover. If we are fortunate enough to get in, we hope what we’ve learned will translate into a strong start for the final 10 races of 2012.”
Martin Truex Jr. On This Weekend: “I like our chances this weekend at Michigan. We learned a lot at the test on July 30. All three of our MWR Toyotas were fast and that’s was really encouraging to us. I don’t anticipate big changes from last time we raced so hopefully, it will all translate into a better finish for us. We had a top-10 Toyota last time, but I feel like we can be a top-five car with what we learned at the test, the package TRD is bringing for us, and even some things we learned at Pocono late in the race. I feel like we are getting back to where we were at the start of the season in terms of consistency and overall performance.”
Guthrie’s Sixth-Place Showing 35 Years Ago At Bristol Remains Best By Female Driver In Cup Competition
When Janet Guthrie arrived at Bristol Motor Speedway in April of 1977 for the spring NASCAR race, it was the very first time she had ever laid eyes on the track.
“I thought it looked like a teacup for a titan,” said the now 75-year-old Guthrie. “And I remember my crew chief (Jim Lindholm) and I driving over the lip of the track to get into the infield – in a truck – not a big tractor trailer like they have now. And his eyes were as big as saucers. He thought the truck was going to keep rolling, right into the pits.
“Neither one of us had ever seen anything like that before. But you know, I wasn’t intimidated by very much. Bristol for me was a new and different kind of challenge. It was like ‘OK, how do I handle this?’”
Which is exactly how Guthrie approached every single challenge she faced when it came to racing. Her desire to succeed in a man’s world, her temerity, her heart, her smarts – those were the tools most crucial to conquering any hurdles that stood in her way.
And when you consider the day and time, there certainly was no shortage of obstacles placed in the path of the former aerospace engineer.
Guthrie, who made her NASCAR debut at Charlotte in 1976, had started racing in Sports Car Club of America events in 1963 where, she says “being a woman was not an issue.” She competed in various sports car series into 1975, even racing against the likes of Mario Andretti, although “(Andretti) probably didn’t know I existed back then… I was just one of the little cars he had to make his way around on the way to victory – and one that I had to keep my eyes open for in my rear view mirror.”
In 1976, Guthrie got a huge break when long-time team owner and car builder Rolla Vollstedt asked her to test a car for the Indianapolis 500.
“He called, got my answering machine,” Guthrie recalls. “I called Chris Economaki and asked him who Rolla was and he filled me in. Told me he was the real deal and by the time I called him back the next morning, I knew he was genuine about the offer.”
Guthrie, who failed to qualify for the Indy 500 in 1976, went on to become the first woman to qualify for and compete in the Indianapolis 500 in 1977 (where she would ultimately finish ninth in the 1978 Indy 500).
After Vollstedt showed interest in Guthrie, NASCAR, particularly Charlotte Motor Speedway and Bruton Smith, came calling. Smith wanted Guthrie in the World 600 field and though she was at first reluctant to leave Indy racing for Charlotte, Guthrie finally made the decision to move into NASCAR.
However, she had no car, didn’t have a sponsor and had no crew. That’s when Lynda Ferreri, an executive with First Union Bank, signed on as Guthrie’s car owner. Ralph Moody was tabbed as crew chief, Smith found a Chevrolet for Guthrie to drive and Kelly Girl came on board on as sponsor.
“Lynda was a heavyweight in Charlotte,” said Guthrie. “She had heard how my efforts were considered a hoax by many people and thought it would be fun to be part of disproving that.”
Ferrari would end up serving as Guthrie’s car owner for the majority of her NASCAR career with Kelly Girl the sponsor.
“You know, I was never intimidated by coming to NASCAR,” said Guthrie. “I had been a driver for a long, long time and had raced in some serious company.
“At the time I just said ‘hey, you can’t guarantee success before you’ve ever tried something but I thought my background indicated a high probability of success. I knew it was a big challenge but it was a challenge I was eager to undertake.”
In that first NASCAR event, the 600 at Charlotte, Guthrie knew she had plenty to learn.
“I had never even seen a NASCAR race, let alone driven in one,” she said. “My practice time was almost non-existent. I had seven laps in the car when I qualified. And I qualified behind (Dale) Earnhardt and (Bill) Elliott, They were just a gnat’s eyelash faster than I was and I ended up 27th.”
Despite the lackluster qualifying effort, Guthrie managed a 15th-place showing in that initial Cup race.
Was she happy with that effort?
“Not at all,” she said. “I thought I should have finished in the top 10.”
And what about the reception she got from the rest of her competitors?
“I would say it was hostile and very heavy on the skepticism,” she said, “with a little open-mindedness at one end. David Pearson was quoted as saying he hadn’t really thought anything about me being in the race because he didn’t think I’d make the field.
“And there were rumors going around that the only way I could make the field was if the promoter falsified my times. I think everybody in the infield had stop watches in their hands to make sure that didn’t happen.”
Guthrie ran five races in 1976, recording a second 15th-place showing at Daytona. In 1977, she entered 19 races, including both Bristol events.
And it was at Bristol where she began seeing small signs of acceptance from her male counterparts.
In her book, Janet Guthrie: A Life At Full Throttle writes:
It was at Bristol that the glacial hostility of some of the upper-level teams first showed signs of a major thaw.
Guthrie says a setup her team was trying caused her car to be really loose, causing her to spin in Turn 3 of the high-banked oval.
The book continues:
“As I pitted, I saw Buddy Baker at Ralph Moody’s side. Baker seemed to be offering advice. I climbed out of the car and joined them.
“A little loose?” Baker asked.
“A little,” came Guthrie’s response.
“One thing you might try, don’t go in so deep,” Baker offered.
“I’ve been using the point on the wall where the red paint begins,” said Guthrie.
“Well, try backing out of it just a hair early, where those two stripes are,” he pointed. “I found I could get on it two car lengths sooner if I didn’t go in quite so deep.”
Guthrie ultimately qualified 21st for the Southeastern 500 and was more than ready to go when the green flag dropped.
“All that banking,” Guthrie said. “And no time to relax. At Bristol, you were barely out of one turn when you were in another.
“Bristol was a hell of a mean, tough race track. And I loved it.”
She would finish 11th that day, ahead of Darrell Waltrip and Baker, just to name two. And she couldn’t wait to get back to the little short track.
“I really did love that place,” said Guthrie. “And that second race, we really hit the setup, right on the nose.”
On Aug. 28 of that year, NASCAR returned to Bristol for the Volunteer 400 and Guthrie was primed for a great weekend. She qualified ninth, and with a bit of relief from John A. Utsman mid-race before returning to the seat, she finished sixth, ahead of the likes of Richard Petty, Bobby Allison, Ricky Rudd, Neil Bonnett and Baker.
Thirty-five years later, that sixth-place effort is still the best finish in a NASCAR Cup event by a woman.
“You know, I don’t remember celebrating afterwards,” said Guthrie. “I just packed up and went home. But I was very happy about it. Very happy.”
That would be Guthrie’s last race at Bristol. In 1978, funding began drying up and she would compete in only nine races from ’78-80.
“I was just dying,” she said. “It was my life. To have made the progress I did, to run and qualify in the top 10, and then to be cut off from it was a killer.
“I did not handle it well. It was very…very difficult. I kept trying to find sponsorship, through ’83, and then I said had to say, ‘if you don’t quit, you’re going to end up jumping out of a high building.’ So, I had to stop.
“I really can’t tell you how bad that was for me… I loved the sport a great deal. I had sacrificed most of my life for it. And my life really got out of balance because it had been all about racing. ”
Guthrie admits she can still get a case of the “what-ifs” when she sees the opportunities available for female drivers these days, particularly Danica Patrick.
“Am I envious of that team and that car she has?” Guthrie says, “Oh, yes. Yes, I sure am.
“I so wish I had been able to continue. It’s honestly the kind of thing that I can’t dwell on too much… it can really get to me, even now. People ask me about this happening during the women’s movement and want to know if I was doing it because of that.
“Well, heck no, that’s not why I did it. I did it for me! A driver is what I was and am. Right through to my bone marrow.”
The IRWIN Tools Night Race Aug. 25 marks the 35years since Guthrie’s sixth-place finish at BMS. Patrick, should she qualify for the race, will become the first woman since Guthrie to compete at the World’s Fastest Half-Mile in a Cup event.
Is Guthrie, still the only woman to lead a Cup race, surprised it took so long for another woman to break into NASCAR’s Cup Series?
“Not really,” she said. “I thought it might take two generations before a woman got a chance at the top level again. And she’s a very capable driver. I think success in Nationwide is certainly possible, although Cup remains to be seen.
“It just takes the right pit stop tactics, the right calls. And, of course, the breaks going your way.”
- This Week's NAPA Auto Parts Toyota... Patrick Carpentierwill pilot RAB Racing chassis No. 54 in Saturday's NAPA AUTO PARTS 200 NASCAR Nationwide Series race. Purchased from Michael Waltrip Racing, Carpentier piloted this Toyota Camry to a 32nd-place finish at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve last August. Misfortune struck the Quebec native in the late-stages of the 74-lap contest when he was spun by another competitor which resulted in the less-than-desired finish.
- A Place of Firsts ... RAB Racing scored their first NASCAR Nationwide Series victory at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in 2010, with Boris Said behind the wheel of the No. 09 entry. It came in the team's 57th career start. Said came back from an early spin to edge Max Papis by a nose on a green-white-checkered finish to take the checkered flag. The margin of victory was .012 seconds, marking one of the closest finishes of all-time. The win marked firsts for team owner Robby Benton, Said and crew chief Scott Zipadelli in Nationwide Series competition.
- New Colors ... RAB Racing's Toyota Camry will sport new colors this weekend when the blue and yellow paint scheme of NAPA AUTO PARTS adorns the No. 99. The supplier of replacement parts, specialty parts and equipment for the automotive repair, collision, heavy-duty truck, and industrial markets will be featured as the primary sponsor, alongside associate sponsor Harco Brands, creators of MiracleWipes, which offer waterless cleanup for hands, surfaces and tools.
- Carpentier at Montreal ... In five NASCAR Nationwide Series starts at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, Carpentier boasts two top-five finishes. His best finish at the 2.71-mile road course is second, where he has finished twice.The 40-year-old driver also scored his first Nationwide Series pole award at the Montreal track in 2007. It came in his first career start in NASCAR's junior division.
- RAB Racing's Road Course Averages ... In 10 Nationwide Series starts at road course facilities - Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, Road America and Watkins Glen International - RAB Racing has accumulated one win, one top-five and one top-10 finish, an average starting position of 15th and an average finish of 19.8. RAB Racing-prepared entries have been atop the leaderboard for two circuits and have completed 678 of a possible 715 laps contested.
- Ride Along ... The No. 99 Toyota will have an in-car camera for this weekend's race coverage on ESPN, courtesy of Nationwide Insurance. Cameras mounted on the roof and interior of Carpentier's Camry will provide an interesting view of the 15-turn circuit located on the man-made Ile Notre-Dame in Montreal.
- Racing For A Cause ... Carpentier will be racing for a good cause this weekend, as he plans to donate a percentage of his race winnings to CHU Sainte-Justine children's hospital in Montreal.
- The Collective RAB Racing Report ... With 21 of 33 races already completed this season, RAB Racing's two NASCAR Nationwide Series entries have notched one top-five and four top-10 finishes.RAB Racing-prepared cars have also completed 3,359 laps with its six drivers - Gonzalez, Moffit, Travis Pastrana, John Wes Townley, Ryan Truex and Kenny Wallace.
- Happy Birthday, Brack ... Team co-owner Brack Maggard will celebrate his birthday on Sunday, August 19.
- Meet the Driver ... Fans can meet Carpentier on Friday, August 17 from 1 - 2 p.m. when he will participate in the NASCAR Nationwide Series group autograph session, located in the Beer Garden area of the Fan Midway next to the casino.
- Get Well, Torie ... In recognition of his 16-year-old daughter Torie Costa's battle with childhood rhabdomyosarcoma, a soft tissue malignant tumor of skeletal muscle origin that accounts for approximately 3.5% of the cases of cancer among children aged 0 to 14 years, crew chief Scott Zipadelli and the members of RAB Racing's Nationwide Series team are wearing pink bracelets in support of Torie. A CaringBridge site has been created where Torie and her family post updates as she battles her disease. Family and friends are able to visit the site, stay informed and leave supportive messages. To keep up with Torie's journey, visit http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/toriecosta
- Catch the Action... Saturday's NAPA Auto Parts 200 at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve will be televised live Saturday, August 18th beginning at 2:30 p.m. EDT on ESPN, and broadcast live on the Motor Racing Network and SiriusXM Satellite Radio.
Scott Zipadelli Quote:
"We're very excited to be heading to Montreal this weekend and the opportunity to race with a world-class road racer in Patrick Carpentier. He knows the track very well, and he's always run well there in the Nationwide Series. It's great to have the support of NAPA Auto Parts, and we know that this weekend is a big deal for them, as they are sponsoring not only our Toyota Camry, but the race as well. Having won at Montreal before, it's certainly a race that we have circled on our calendar as one we've been looking forward to all year. We feel very prepared for this race, especially with the help we've gotten from Michael Waltrip Racing. To win at Montreal again with a Canadian driver would be incredible."
Patrick Carpentier Quote:
"I am really looking forward to racing at Montreal this weekend. We will have the same Toyota Camry that we had at Montreal last year. It was a really fast car, we just had some bad luck with it, unfortunately. It's going to be great to be back in the car in front of all of my hometown fans, and hopefully this year things will go a little better. It's great to represent NAPA Auto Parts once again, and to have Harco Brands on the car as well. Both companies have incredible products, and it really is an honor to represent them.
"I will be racing for a good cause this weekend, as I plan to give 50 percent of the purse I receive to CHU Sainte-Justine, a children's hospital in Montreal. They helped my family greatly when my daughter was younger, and it's a way of thanking them. We have a few people involved that will also give generously, like SMS Equipment, Komatsu, NAPA and Octane Management which makes this race even more special to me."
RAB Racing PR
Sam Hornish Jr. is looking forward to his NASCAR Sprint Cup Series return to his “home track” – Michigan International Speedway – for Sunday’s Pure Michigan 400. Hornish will be making his sixth start of the season behind the wheel of Penske Racing’s No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil Dodge on Sunday.
“Michigan is my home track and I have many great memories from races there I went to as a kid with my parents,” Hornish offered. “Some of the best days of my childhood were spent there. It’s a track where I have definitely attended more races as a fan than as a driver. Growing up just down the road in Defiance (some 70 miles south of the track in Ohio), MIS is a special place and always will be.”
Sunday’s race will mark Hornish’s seventh Sprint Cup start on the lightning-fast 2.0-mile MIS oval and he is certainly looking forward to the opportunity.
“After running all the races at Michigan during the 2008 through 2010 seasons, it will be great to get back in a Cup car there on Sunday,” said Hornish. “We participated in the Goodyear tire test on the Monday after the Indy race (the July 29 Brickyard 400) in the 22 car and it felt great to be back behind the wheel of a Cup car there. I’m thrilled to be able to drive the Shell-Pennzoil Dodge at MIS in Sunday’s race.”
Hornish is coming off an impressive weekend of racing on the 2.45-mile Watkins Glen International road course in the Finger Lakes Region of New York. Hornish won the pole and finished third in last Saturday’s Nationwide Series race and followed it up with an impressive fifth-place finish in Sunday’s Sprint Cup Series battle.
Sunday’s outcome at Watkins Glen was Hornish’s third career top-five finish in Sprint Cup competition and his first since the Aug. 16, 2009 Carfax 400 at Michigan. In that race, Hornish started 14th and finished fifth in the No. 77 Penske Dodge with current Penske Racing Competition Director Travis Geisler serving as his crew chief.
With Hornish running third in the Nationwide Series points and poised to have a serious shot at the series’ points title, he will remain in Montreal focusing on the task at hand there through the conclusion of Saturday’s race. The first time he will climb aboard the Shell-Pennzoil Dodge will be on Sunday morning on the starting grid at MIS.
“We’ll have Parker (Kligerman) behind the wheel for all the practice and for qualifying,” said crew chief Todd Gordon. “I have worked with him on several occasions and I am confident that he can do an excellent job in getting our Shell-Pennzoil Dodge Team as prepared as possible for Sunday’s race.
“Sure, we’d rather have Sam in the car for all the practice and qualifying, but the logistics of getting him back and forth were impossible,” Gordon said. “We had the foresight to take advantage of the Goodyear tire test at Michigan several weeks back and put Sam in the car there that day. It will definitely pay dividends. We can look at it now as Sam’s ‘happy hour’ of practice.
“It will be another case of relying on our teammates to help us out with the race day setup that we put in the car for Sam. What we have seen so far in the five races with Sam driving our car is that what he likes is very…very…close to what Brad (Keselowski) likes. That is a huge bonus and should make what we’re up against this weekend a heck of a lot easier. If you had to choose a track where you had to start at the rear of the field and maybe had the worst spot on pit road, Michigan would definitely be the overwhelming choice.”
Hornish’s Sprint Cup record at MIS boasts the one top-five finish (and top-10) in six races to date. Hornish has a 25.3 average start and 22.7 average finish in Cup competition at MIS. He has led seven laps to date and has an impressive 99.6 percent (1,198 of 1,203) lap completion average.
Hornish has started three Nationwide Series races at Michigan, with his sixth-place finish there in the June event highlighting his stats. He made his stock car debut in the June 15, 2007 ARCA RE/MAX Series Michigan 200 at MIS where he won the pole and finished second. In six IndyCar starts at MIS, Hornish’s second-place tally in the July 27, 2003 Firestone Indy 400 rates as his best finish in that series. He dominated that race, leading 126 of the 200 laps and was leading until Alex Barron used a sling-shot move at the finish to cross the line only 0.012 seconds ahead of Hornish.
Fresh off his dramatic, come-from-behind win at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International, Marcos Ambrose heads this week to Michigan International Speedway (MIS), where he's also enjoyed the view from the front of the pack. Ambrose won his first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series pole at the two-mile oval in June. The Australian native will bring the same fast No. 9 Stanley Ford that he ran at that June race to the Brooklyn, Mich., track this weekend with the goal of another trip to Victory Lane.
Sunday's Pure Michigan 400 will be Ambrose's ninth start at MIS. He has one top-10 finish - an eighth-place result in the June event he started from the pole. He has completed 1,417 of 1,603 laps attempted at the D-shaped oval, leading 15 of them. Ambrose enters this weekend's 400-mile race in 17th place, gaining a spot in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series point standings after last week's victory at "The Glen."
Be sure to tune in to SPEED at 10 a.m. ET on Sunday to see Ambrose live on NASCAR RaceDay. Listen to him talk about his second-consecutive win at Watkins Glen Sunday afternoon and hear his thoughts on returning to the site of his first career pole in June.
Marcos Ambrose's Thoughts on Racing at Michigan:
"I don't think I've ever been more eager to get back to the race track. Sunday at 'The Glen' was amazing. Our No. 9 Stanley team worked so hard to give us a second straight win on that course and it was just so gratifying to go back to Victory Lane. It took a lot of bumping and banging, and even a little off-roading on that last lap, but we got there and it felt fantastic.
"Now we get to go back to Michigan where we had a fast Stanley Ford a couple of months ago. I've been saying that our next big step needs to be winning on an oval, and I think we're very close. I think the momentum from winning last week is definitely on our side and might be just what we need to push us to the front for another 'W.'"
Comments from Crew Chief Todd Parrott on Going to Michigan:
"Michigan is going to present some challenges once again. In June, we were looking at a newly repaved track and new tire. Now when we go back, we'll be looking at another new tire that should slow the lap times down, but at least we've gotten a feel for it having tested there a couple weeks ago.
"This team is walking a little taller this week. Every guy here worked hard to make that car the best it could be and Marcos drove his tail off to get that win. Now we just have to carry that momentum to the oval. We showed in our last trip to Michigan that we can be fast there, and I think we can work from our notes from that race and from the tire test to get ourselves back up front again and get another win for our Stanley team."
Ellis Back in NASCAR Nationwide Series at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve with BestRestaurantsinTown.com as Title Sponsor
P1 Groupe driver and Virginia native Ryan Ellis will be completing his back-to-back weekend stint in the NASCAR Nationwide Series as he and the rest of the Jimmy Means Racing Team head to Montreal, Canada and Circuit Gilles Villeneuve for the NAPA Auto Parts 200 Presented by Dodge this coming weekend. Ellis, a road course specialist, began his back-to-back stint this past weekend at Watkins Glen where he ran a strong qualifying effort that should have locked him into the field, but due to the fact that his number #52 Jimmy Means Racing Chevrolet was not locked into the Top-30 in the team points standings, he was bumped from the final field of forty-three. Having been in racing for over ten years, Ellis has experienced the positives and negatives of the sport, which will allow him to use the disappointment of last weekend’s events to fuel him even more for the show this weekend in Montreal. Best Restaurants in Town has been named as title sponsor for Ellis’ Chevrolet giving the Grand-Am Road Racing regular a fully-funded stock car at his fingertips for a strong run.
“I am extremely excited for this upcoming opportunity to race at Montreal” Ellis stated. “Last weekend at Watkins Glen the team and I thought we had great potential and we out-qualified several cars but were still sent home due to the Top-30 in points rule. It was definitely frustrating knowing that we were fast enough to make the race and could have had a good showing. We plan on using the experience and knowledge we gained last weekend to create a more successful weekend in Montreal in which we are really pushing to get a good finish for the #52 Best Restaurants in Town Jimmy Means Racing Chevrolet. I can't thank Jimmy Means, P1 Groupe, and Best Restaurants in Town enough for the chance to run this weekend! I have never been to Montreal and am really looking forward to racing in front of such a large audience.”
The NASCAR Nationwide Series NAPA Auto Parts 200 Presented by Dodge can be viewed LIVE on ESPN Saturday, August 18th at 2:00 PM ET with the green flag expected to fly at about 2:30 PM ET. Action and results on Ryan Ellis and the #52 Jimmy Means Racing Chevrolet Impala can be seen on www.NASCAR.com.
P1 Groupe PR
P1 Groupe driver and California native Matt Bell returned to the NASCAR Nationwide Series this past weekend to run at the famed Watkins Glen International Raceway. The road course specialist was tagged to drive the #39 Ford Mustang for Go Green Racing in what was his second career NASCAR start, the first coming this past June at Road America. An uphill battle that Bell faced throughout the weekend was the lack of seat time as weather and a limited practice schedule hindered the 26-year old in becoming acquainted with the stock car. Bell would only be able to enter the race car for one lap before weather forced NASCAR to cancel the remainder of the only practice the series had scheduled, leaving qualifying to be the only time the Grand-Am Road Racing regular would sit behind the wheel before the green flag waved. “It was difficult to get a feel of the car before qualifying due to the weather. This condensed practice time, but everyone worked really hard to prepare best we could” Bell stated. The road racer used qualifying to become more familiar with the car that he stated “fit him perfectly,” leading to a slower time than he wanted and 37th place starting position. “I experienced the same limited practice time at Road America, being locked in on points allowed me to use the qualifying session as a practice of sorts, still trying to set a good time, but mostly focusing on learning the nuances of the car itself and to test how the car would react in certain corners allowed me to make some moves during the race.”
Having figured out certain areas of the track and what the American muscle car could handle, Bell prepared for the start of the green flag. At about 2:35pm local time the green flag waved beginning the 2012 Zippo 200 which was aired on ABC and Bell began working his way through the field as if he were a series veteran. In the first full green flag lap Bell had worked his way from the 37th position to 28th, picking competitors off corner by corner. By Lap 10, the #39 Global Barter Corporation Ford Mustang was running 24th and challenging for a Top-20 position on track. As the California native progressed through turns 1 and 2, he noticed the lack of grip the car had on the right side compared to previous laps. By Turn 3 Bell’s right rear tire completely ripped apart causing the car to strike the wall in the corner where the most speed is carried around Watkins Glen International. The incident forced Bell to retire earlier than expected but his performance of driving through the field early in the race not only turned some heads but showed that this proven race winner can become a serious force within the NASCAR ranks.
“What started out as a very promising race turned very sour quickly” Bell stated. “The car fit me perfectly and I knew I had the power to make passes when I needed to. Go Green Racing and everyone involved with effort did a fantastic job throughout this process. I couldn’t be happier to be a part of this team and if the opportunity presents itself again, I would be happy to join them again. From what I hear, the right rear tire went down, and like I said, it’s unfortunate the way the day ended for us. I do feel like I learned a lot from everyone. With each NASCAR start I have, I’m becoming more comfortable in the car, and I feel with more testing and practice time, the results will soon follow.
Bell also took the time to thank everyone who helped put the opportunity together. “I really can’t thank P1 Groupe and Global Barter Corporation enough for putting this deal together as well as the support I’ve had from my family, friends and everyone within Grand-Am Road Racing. We’ll be back soon, and personally, I can’t wait!”
P1 Groupe PR