Speedway Digest Staff

Speedway Digest Staff

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What’s the best way to interact with NASCAR’s most recent Sprint Cup Series Champion? The answer is simple: make sure to be a part of the Talladega Experience – the ultimate “FAN” hospitality area.

Brad Keselowski, NASCAR Sprint Cup’s reigning champ and defending titlist of the Aaron’s 499, is scheduled to make an appearance at the Talladega Experience on the morning of Sunday, May 5, just prior to the 2013 edition of the always exciting Aaron’s 499 on the famed high banks of the 2.66-mile Talladega Superspeedway.

“I always love coming to Talladega, and it’s a great venue for me to interact with the fans,” said Keselowski, who shocked the world with his first career triumph at Talladega in the Aaron’s 499 in 2009, piloting an unsponsored car. “Talladega will always hold a special place in my heart. You never forget your first win, so I will have lots to talk about to the fans in May at the Talladega Experience,” added the driver of the No. 2 Miller Lite Ford.

The Talladega Experience offers fan hospitality unrivaled by any other sporting event. In addition to driver appearances, guests of the Talladega Experience are treated to unlimited catering and beverages, up-close and personal access to driver question and answer sessions, pre-race pit road tours, track access during driver introductions, VIP parking, event souvenirs, and more. Additional drivers will be a part of the Talladega Experience as well, and those names will be announced in the near future.

“Having Brad be a part of the Talladega Experience is a huge addition to what is one of the finest hospitality venues in sports,” said Talladega Superspeedway Chairman Grant Lynch. “Brad has really connected with a lot of fans through his success on the track as well as his communication with fans through social media. He has made a name for himself in the sporting world and getting the chance to hear him will be a memorable event for our fans.”

The Talladega Experience is designed for the FAN, with the ultimate goal of providing each guest with a world-class experience and memories to last a lifetime.  The package, which must be accompanied by a Frontstretch Grandstand or Tower ticket, is $145 and can be purchased by calling 877-Go2-DEGA or visiting www.talladegasuperspeedway.com.


Kyle Busch, the winner of the last four Spring races at Richmond International Raceway, will be the special guest in the track’s 3-Wide fan hospitality area on Saturday, April 27, prior to the Toyota Owners 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race.

Guests who have race tickets for the Saturday, April 27, Toyota Owners 400 at RIR can upgrade their race day experience by purchasing 3-Wide fan hospitality, which includes a pre-race Pit Pass and admission to the 3-Wide hospitality area, located in a climate-controlled building, where you can enjoy the Kyle Busch Q&A session, food and festivities before a memorable night of short track racing “under the lights.”

The Saturday Pit Pass Upgrade is $80* per adult, per race, and includes:

·         An EXCLUSIVE Pre-Race Pit Pass (valid 2:00 p.m. – 6:30 p.m., weather permitting.)

·         Admission to our 3-Wide hospitality area (2:00 p.m. – 6:30 p.m.), located in the climate-controlled Old Dominion Building, which includes:

o   Question & Answer session with Kyle Busch

o   Appetizers from 2:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. and a buffet dinner from 3:00 p.m. – 6:30 p.m.

o   Unlimited sodas and water.

o   Three beer or wine tickets for fans 21 years of age and older with a valid ID (to be used in the 3-Wide hospitality area).

o   Souvenir event program.

o   Music, games and a chance to win a trip to pre-race and Gatorade Victory Lane ceremonies.

Kids 12 and younger can experience 3-Wide fan hospitality for $40. The kids’ version includes everything above except the beer and wine tickets.

*Race tickets are not included in 3-Wide; fans must have a corresponding NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race ticket to purchase 3-Wide.

Click here to purchase tickets for the Saturday, April 27, Toyota Owners 400 race and 3-Wide, or call the ticket office at 866-455-7223. Advance tickets, including seats in Turns 1 and 4, start at $45.


Mark Dacascos who plays the villain Wo Fat on the CBS series Hawaii Five-O, Kung Lao in the web-series Mortal Kombat: Legacy, and The Chairman of Iron Chef:America, has been named the Grand Marshal for the Dollar General 200, Fueled by AmeriGas at Phoenix International Raceway on Saturday, March 2, PIR President Bryan R. Sperber announced.

Dacascos will welcome fans, drivers and teams to PIR for the second race of the 2013 NASCAR Nationwide Series season. In addition, Dacascos will utter the most famous words in racing- giving the “Drivers, Start Your Engines” command at the start of the Dollar General 200, Fueled by AmeriGas.


“I get an adrenalin rush as The Chairman of Iron Chef America every time I shout, ‘Allez Cuisine!’ I can’t imagine how excited I will be as the Grand Marshal when I say, ‘Drivers, start your engines.”


The Chairman previously partnered with PIR and NASCAR when Dacascos’s

“Allez Cuisine:The Chairman’s Choice” line of heat and serve, and cook and serve food, sponsored Aric Alminrola’s No. 43 Smithfield/Allez Cuisine at the 2012 SUBWAY Fresh Fit 500™ at PIR.


Swan Racing returns this week to the No. 30 Toyota driven by David Stremme at Phoenix International Raceway.  Last week in Daytona, Swan Racing dedicated its efforts on raising donations and awareness for the Newtown, Ct community by running the No. 26 Sandy Hook Memorial Fund Toyota driven by Michael Waltrip.  
Stremme will compete on behalf of Swan Racing the rest of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season in the No. 30 where he will race hard every lap of every race.  This is significant given that Stremme was ordered to "start and park" in past seasons.  That was until new owner Brandon Davis stepped in late last year creating Swan Racing.
"Swan Racing is here to race hard every lap of every race," said Davis.  "We are going to build a championship contender over time and we'll do it by competing against the best drivers in the world, not by packing up early."
"It's a new day for the No. 30 Toyota and we'll be mixing it up all season, said Stremme.  Drivers are competitive by nature.  We feel the need to compete in everything we do.  I will get the most out of this Toyota all season starting at Phoenix International Raceway."
Stremme and Swan Racing represent an "old school" approach to racing which means they are stretching every dollar to put the car on track each week.  "This is old school racing here at Swan.  We all pitch in to build the cars at the shop each week and race hard on the weekends," Stremme said.
Swan Racing had a busy offseason building a strong foundation for the team's success.  Several key hires were made that signal Swan Racing's commitment.  They include Steve Hmiel as competition director, Tony Eury Jr., as crew chief.  Rocky Ryan will serve as Stremme's spotter. 
Swan has attracted sponsorship from Nutrition53, a health supplement, company which will feature it's Lean1 product on the car as a primary sponsor for ten races beginning at Texas Motor Speedway and as an associate sponsor the remainder of the season.  The pit crew for the No. 30 is branded Lean1 all season.  
Swan Racing is a stock-car racing team, based in Mooresville, N.C., that competes full-time in 36 nationally televised races in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.  The team is owned by oil and gas executive Brandon Davis. Former NFL linebacker Bill Romanowski owns a minority stake in the team.
For more information about the team go to www.SwanRacingTeam.com.
Swan Racing PR

Roush Fenway Racing has accumulated a NASCAR record 311 victories during its celebrated 25 year history. It’s 2012 “25 Winning Years” marketing platform – designed to highlight and celebrate those accomplishments – has brought home its own accolade; being awarded the 2012 MarCom International Gold Award for public relations/communications campaigns. It marks the second consecutive year that RFR’s marketing team has been recognized by MarCom.

The MarCom award honors excellence in the communications field and recognizes outstanding creative achievement by marketing and communication professionals, with over 6,000 entries from throughout the United States, Canada and several other countries in the 2012 competition. Winners were selected from over 200 categories in seven forms of media and communication efforts - marketing, publications, marketing/promotion, public service/pro bono, creativity and electronic/interactive. About 25 percent of the entries, including Roush Fenway, brought home honors.

Roush Fenway’s “25 Winning Years” Program was designed to not only commemorate the longevity of the milestone anniversary as a mark in time, but also to recognize the organization’s lofty accomplishments over that time period, as the winningest team in NASCAR history.

The program was designed to highlight the accomplishments of the organization, its people, partners and innovations over the previous 25 seasons of competing. Its purpose was to create both internal and external awareness of the organization and its success over the previous 25 years of competition, in a manner to drive both employee satisfaction and external awareness.

In 2011 RFR won a MarCom for its successful RickyVsTrevor program. Roush Fenway also received an honorable mention MarCom in poster design for its ‘The Future is Now’ poster with driver’s Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Trevor Bayne at Fenway Park that is on display in the team’s museum in Concord, N.C.

MarCom entries come from corporate marketing and communication departments, advertising agencies, PR firms, design shops, production companies and freelancers. The competition has grown to one of the largest of its kind with over 6,000 entries per year, with winners ranging in size from individual communicators to media conglomerates and Fortune 500 companies.

MarCom Awards is administered and judged by the Association of Marketing and Communication Professionals. The international organization consists of several thousand creative professionals. The Association oversees awards and recognition programs, provides judges and sets standards for excellence. Judges are industry professionals who look for companies and individuals whose talent exceeds a high standard of excellence and whose work serves as a benchmark for the industry.


After running his first Daytona 500 last weekend, Josh Wise will strap in for the 312-lap Subway Fresh Fit 500 at Phoenix International Raceway this Sunday.  Although the one-mile, low-banked oval starkly differs from Daytona International Speedway, one thing will carry over from the first race to the second - Wise's partnership with Blockbuster.


The entertainment company will return for a second race with the No. 35 Front Row Motorsports team after earning attention in Daytona Beach last week when Wise secured his first career starting spot in the "Great American Race."  Wise was running a strong race at Daytona until he got collected in a nine-car, domino-effect accident on Lap 138.  He looks to bounce back in Sunday's Subway Fresh Fit 500.


Blockbuster is celebrating its partnership with Wise and Front Row Motorsports with special offers for NASCAR fans at www.Blockbuster.com/car35.

"We are excited to support the upcoming NASCAR star, Josh Wise, as he races in the nation's premier series," said Mitch Weinraub, Blockbuster vice president of product. "Fans can cheer on Wise in the Subway Fresh Fit 500 this weekend, and then head to www.Blockbuster.com/car35 for amazing deals including free seven-day rentals of racing-related movies."


Wise has a Nationwide Series career-best 18th-place finish out of six starts at the Avondale, Ariz., track.


Comments from Blockbuster team driver Josh Wise heading to Phoenix:


"We're thrilled to give Blockbuster another ride on the No. 35 Ford.  It was great having them on board for the Daytona 500.  The whole experience of my first Daytona 500 was unforgettable.  Unfortunately, we got taken out in a big wreck - one of those 'caught in the wrong place at the wrong time' deals that we couldn't help.  But I'm excited to get back in the car and get back on track at Phoenix.


"Phoenix is a whole different animal from Daytona.  We really change directions from the first race of the season to the second.  Daytona is just about getting speed out of your car, getting it to handle well in the draft and strategizing on how you're going to work with other cars.  There's a lot more finesse driving involved with at Phoenix.  It's a flat track so you're hard on the brakes and you've got to get your car handling well out of the turns.  So I've got a whole different race ahead of me this weekend.


"This is just a great opportunity for me.  I'm really grateful to Bob Jenkins and Jerry Freeze and everyone at Front Row Motorsports for working so hard all winter to build great cars, and also to Blockbuster for their support.  If we can put the bad luck of the 500 behind us, I think we can turn some heads."



“Go West young man, go West and grow up with the country.” That quote is attributed to the late American newspaper editor and 1872 presidential candidate Horace Greely. The phrase, one of the most commonly used quotes from the early 19th century, was used by Greely to encourage the territorial expansion of the United States, a notion commonly referred to as Manifest Destiny.

While there is some debate among historians as to whether Greely coined the phrase or simply borrowed it from a peer for one of his editorials, there is little question the idea of Manifest Destiny helped shape the contiguous United States as it exists today. Since the era of expansion, however, Manifest Destiny has evolved and, in some respects, become a very general view that is manipulated for the purpose of supporting a variety of political views, social issues and pop culture lore.

For example, some could say that NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Tony Stewart exercised a version of Manifest Destiny one year ago when he went two for three during the early-season Western swing of the Sprint Cup schedule, bouncing back from a 22nd-place finish at Phoenix International Raceway by winning a week later at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, and two weeks after that, winning again at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif.

Aside from a mid-March visit to Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway, NASCAR spends the next month competing west of the Mississippi River. Phoenix, Las Vegas and Fontana all make up the Western swing, and it begins anew with this weekend’s Subway Fresh Fit 500k at Phoenix.

Stewart qualified second for last year’s spring race at the mile-long oval in the Arizona desert. He led nine laps and was in position for a top-10 finish when a freak, mid-race engine issue dropped him to 22nd. But Stewart quickly put that disappointment behind him, winning at Las Vegas to score his first victory at the track and winning at Fontana to log his second Sprint Cup win at that track.

That kind of early success is what Stewart is striving for again, as a crash in the season-opening Daytona 500 last Sunday left Stewart a distant 41st in the 43-car field. Victory at Phoenix would quickly move Stewart up in the all-important championship point standings, something the three-time champion (2002, 2005, 2011) is keenly aware of.

But Stewart is also aware of a new variable – NASCAR’s sixth-generation (Gen-6) Sprint Cup car. According to the NASCAR calendar, Phoenix marks the second race for the Gen-6 car, but to many, it’s the first true test of a teams’ program.

The first race for the Gen-6 car was last Sunday at Daytona, but that track is an anomaly on the Sprint Cup schedule. For that race, teams built slick racecars, sculpted them in the wind tunnel, and then fitted those cars with engines designed to mine horsepower from the constraints of a horsepower-choking restrictor plate.

Phoenix is the bellwether track, as it’s the first venue on the 36-race Sprint Cup schedule where mechanical grip is as important as horsepower and aerodynamics. It’s where teams will discover who has found the most efficient way to make their new Gen-6 car go fast.

For Stewart, who wears the dual title of driver and owner of Stewart-Haas Racing, Phoenix represents a race within a race – the one on the track and the one at the race shop, where one-upmanship during the week determines who’s No. 1 on Sunday. Come Friday when practice begins, Stewart tosses his car owner hat aside in favor of a Simpson helmet. He’ll want his No. 14 Bass Pro Shops/Mobil 1 Chevrolet SS to the best of the bunch.

Considering Stewart’s experience at Phoenix, success isn’t hoped for – it’s expected. The Columbus, Ind., native has been racing and winning at Phoenix since 1993. In the Sprint Cup Series alone, Stewart has scored one win, eight top-fives, 11 top-10s and has led a total of 555 laps in 22 career starts – all while being a model of consistency, completing all but 14 of an available 6,941 laps for a completion rate of 99.8 percent. And that’s only a small portion of the action Stewart has seen at Phoenix.

In addition to Sprint Cup cars, Stewart has made laps at Phoenix in NASCAR Nationwide Series cars, Indy cars, Supermodifieds and USAC Midget and Silver Crown cars during the course of the last 30 years. There isn’t another driver on the circuit who has logged more laps at Phoenix in as many different cars as Stewart. It’s his ability to adapt and adjust to different cars that not only gives Stewart a leg up on the competition in regard to being able to get a quick handle on the Gen-6 car, but it effectively places him in a league of his own, much like those Western pioneers who followed the creed of Manifest Destiny.


Iowa Governor Terry Branstad honored NASCAR Hall of Famer Rusty Wallace with a State Proclamation in a special ceremony Wednesday afternoon, February 27, at the Capitol building in Des Moines.

Speaking on the main floor of the historic State Capitol Rotunda, Governor Branstad commended Wallace for his contributions to the state of Iowa as designer and part owner of the Iowa Speedway in Newton, and to the sport of NASCAR racing nationwide.

“As Governor of Iowa, I am very proud to honor Rusty Wallace with this Proclamation today,” Branstad said. “His many contributions to NASCAR racing have earned him a well-deserved induction to NASCAR’s Hall of Fame, and his forward-thinking design of Iowa Speedway helped to create a destination in central Iowa that benefits every Iowan. Rusty may have been born in Missouri, but we will always claim him as one of our own.”

Wallace expressed gratitude for the outpouring of support he has received from Iowans all across the state, and specifically to Governor Branstad for the official Proclamation.

“I am humbled and honored that Governor Branstad made time to recognize me today with an official Proclamation,” Wallace said. “As an ‘Honorary Iowan’, I couldn’t be more proud of this great state, or of the racetrack we have in Newton, and I look forward to being here for as many Iowa Speedway events as possible.”

Wallace, whose post-racing career combines a busy ABC/ESPN broadcast schedule, managing his son Steven’s NASCAR Nationwide Series race team, overseeing his auto dealership interests and fundraising for the charitable NASCAR Foundation, nevertheless finds ample time to promote Iowa Speedway.

“Rusty is without a doubt our best promoter,” said Iowa Speedway President and co-owner Stan Clement. “He literally goes out of his way to be here whenever possible. Rusty gladly does media interviews, greets fans, and spends time with our promotional partners. Certainly he is deserving of this official Proclamation, as well as his recent induction into the NASCAR Hall of Fame.”

Iowa Speedway PR

Emmy winning star of NBC’s critically acclaimed sitcom“The Office” Brian Baumgartner– a national spokesman for SUBWAY® Restaurants – has been named Grand Marshal for the upcoming SUBWAY Fresh Fit 500™ at Phoenix International Raceway on Sunday, March 3.

The newest Famous Fan of SUBWAY® Restaurants, Baumgartner will join PIR in welcoming fans, NASCAR, drivers, and teams to the second race of the 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season by delivering the most famous words in racing.

“This is definitely something that you don’t get to do everyday” said Baumgartner. “I’m extremely honored to be the Grand Marshal for this race and want to thank my friends at SUBWAY and the folks at Phoenix International Raceway for giving me the opportunity to deliver those magic words on Sunday.

Baumgartner currently stars as Kevin Malone in the ninth and final season of NBC’s“The Office”, airing Thursday evenings through May 16.

Baumgartner's television appearances also include roles onWilfred and Arrested Development and he appeared in the romantic comedy feature filmLicense to Wed opposite Robin Williams, Mandy Moore, and The Office co- star John Krasinski.


Newly crowned Daytona 500 champion Jimmie Johnson has gotten little sleep since winning Sunday's season-opening NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race, but the blurry-eyed, five-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion showed why he remains one of the sport's top ambassadors during Wednesday's "Trip Down Victory Lane" luncheon at the House of Blues in Dallas.


Johnson, in the midst of a five-city Daytona 500 champion's tour, arrived to a throng of all the prominent Dallas/Fort Worth media outlets for an interview session and then visited with and posed for photographs with 100 fans that had VIP Experience packages before settling on stage for the formal portion of the program to celebrate his second Daytona 500 title. He was joined on stage by event emcee/host Krista Voda, part of FOX Sports' esteemed NASCAR pit reporters, for a 45-minute Q&A session to the delight of the audience of more than 200 guests.


 Johnson arrived from two days of media appearances in Bristol, Conn. for ESPN and New York City for various national shows such as "Late Show with David Letterman" and "Good Morning America" before touching down in Dallas/Fort Worth for a 3½-hour visit with local media and fans. He was then whisked away to the airport as the tour continues with stops in Los Angeles and Las Vegas before arriving in Phoenix for this weekend's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race.


All in a day's work for the reigning Daytona 500 champion.


"I know what time zone I'm in; I was a little confused on days," Johnson said with a laugh. "I thought we were on Tuesday but it is clearly Wednesday. Not much sleep, some of that self-inflicted. It's been a very fun ride."


The ride, however, has a much different feel than when he won his first Daytona 500 title in 2006.


"When I won my first Daytona 500, I had not won a championship," Johnson said. "It was amazing and a lot went on, but I don't think the popularity was there like today. This is like winning a championship. I'm just as busy and there is just as much reach for myself, my sponsor, my team, as it did winning a championship. It is amazing the impact this single event has across our nation and in the world. It's a big, big deal.


"I'm really savoring the moment more and just enjoying it. I feel like I'm more mature today as a driver and somebody within the sport. I can appreciate this moment much more than in '06. I did all I could at the time, but seven years later a lot has changed. I'm very appreciative of what goes with it."


Johnson's attention this week has been away from race preparations unlike his traditional schedule. Johnson, scheduled to compete in both the Nationwide and Sprint Cup Series races this weekend at Phoenix, understands the challenges that will come with this weekend's races.


"It hasn't been at my mind at all," Johnson said. "We've been so occupied and busy. Tuesdays is normally the day I download with my team and talk about what happened at the races and then we move forward and prepare for the upcoming event. Then we go through that same thing with our teammates, their crew chiefs and the race engineers. I missed all of that yesterday so I feel a little removed and not really in the space to go racing in Phoenix. It's for a good reason. Chad (Knaus, Johnson's crew chief) is going to cut me some slack this week and I'm going to have to catch up on Friday when I get to the track."


One of the highlights of his Q&A session with the fans was a story that involved one of those Hendrick Motorsports teammates as well as TMZ that chases down celebrity news.


"I was in New York yesterday, and I get out of a car for an interview," Johnson tells the audience. "TMZ is standing there with a camera and the man asks the question that is the most annoying one I hear all the time which is, 'What do you have to do if you have to go to the bathroom?'


"So evidently I was on TMZ last night because just before I walked out this morning my phone was blowing up and (Dale Earnhardt) Junior texted me and said, 'You've never peed in your car before?' No, I haven't. Where did you see this? How did you know this? 'Well, I watched TMZ.'"


Johnson understands the momentum a victory in NASCAR's most prestigious race can provide a driver. His first Daytona 500 victory came in 2006, which coincidentally was the same season he earned the first of his five NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championships.


In 2006, he followed up his Daytona 500 victory with three wins in the first nine races, along with seven top-10 finishes during that span. His victory in Sunday's Daytona 500 has provided his Hendrick Motorsports team confidence moving forward. It is in stark contrast to last season when Johnson got caught up in an accident and finished 42nd in the 43-car field of the Daytona 500.


"We feel like we're going to start the season at the top of the class and we're excited about that," Johnson said. "Plate racing is so different than what it takes to win the championship. You've got to make the Chase and that is all on downforce tracks. You get into the Chase and you've got one plate-race track versus nine other downforce tracks. You can turn it in some directions. I have seen some teams and drivers win the (Daytona) 500 and you see four or five months later they haven't had such a great year. There's some type of hangover from the (Daytona) 500. Or it can be a springboard."


Winning the Daytona 500 has not translated into success at Texas Motor Speedway in the same season. In the 16-year history of Texas Motor Speedway, no Daytona 500 winner has gone on to visit Victory Lane at "The Great American Speedway!" in the same season.


While Johnson remains winless in April's Texas 500, he is no stranger to Victory Lane at Texas Motor Speedway. Johnson has two victories during the speedway's November Sprint Cup Series event, winning the AAA Texas 500 in 2007 and again last year. He remains one of the most consistent NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers at Texas Motor Speedway as he ranks second for career top-five finishes (9), top-10 finishes (14) and finishing average (9.26).


"I hope to break that streak," Johnson said. "Texas Motor Speedway is a very technical, demanding track. We are all aware of the high speeds, but the radius of the turns are pretty sharp in comparison to other mile-and-a-half tracks that we run on. The track has aged so we have tire falloff, which is very important. The bumps and swells in the track give it great character and challenges us to set up our cars. All that leads to the driver's technique. I shine at tracks that are quirky, tracks that are demanding. Texas really fits my style. I really enjoy racing on the track."