Friday, Oct 07
Speedway Digest Staff

Speedway Digest Staff

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For all the success Jeff Gordon has had at Kansas Speedway, he is still missing one thing from his resume - a pole at the 1.5-mile track. This weekend's STP 400 may be the opportune time for him to start first. To finish first.

Following this event last year, the track was repaved with October's race being the first on the new surface. Gordon started 19th and briefly led before finishing 10th.

 

"There was a preferred line, but we were able to make some passes and use some pit strategy to run inside the top-five," said Gordon, driver of the No. 24 Drive To End Hunger Chevrolet. "Track position was important and it may play a role again on Sunday. We'll do everything we can to get it.

 

"And keep it."

 

In 14 starts at the Kansas track, Gordon's two victories (2001 and 2002) are tied for the most while his eight top-fives are tops. But the track remains one of four where Gordon has never won a pole - Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Kentucky Speedway and Homestead-Miami Speedway being the others.

 

"Qualifying well on Friday is obviously the best way to start with good track position," said Gordon. "It limits the amount of traffic you're in early and it also helps with pit stall selection since that is based on qualifying results."

 

Last Saturday night at Texas Motor Speedway, Gordon's strong run ended early with a left-front hub issue. He fell from 12th to 15th in the NASCAR Sprint Cup point standings, but there are positives to be taken from the weekend.

 

"We ran well and led laps last weekend," said Gordon. "And the pit crew had great stops all night.

 

"Sure, we're frustrated with the result. But it's easier to take compared to running 25th like we did at Las Vegas."

 

The No. 24 team has made improvements since Las Vegas, but a challenge awaits them in Kansas.

 

"It's going to be tough with the new pavement and the new (Generation-6) car," said Gordon. "We are going to be challenged. The tires are extremely durable so that makes it very 'edgy.' I think we have made gains, so I'm confident we can make improvements when we get there.

 

"But we are really going to have to be on our game."

 

PPR PR

 

 

 

 

While they may not be rookies on the field, Kansas City Chiefs Jeff Allen and Don Stephenson may still need a yellow stripe as they attend the STP 400 on April 21 as honorary race officials.

“I’m excited to be a part of such a great event in the Kansas City community with the STP 400,” said Allen, a starting guard for the Chiefs. “There are a lot comparisons between the NFL and NASCAR and I look forward to seeing the teamwork and energy with the drivers, pit crews, and crew chiefs.”

“Growing up in Kansas City, everyone always was either at Arrowhead or the race track and now I get to experience the best of both” said Stephenson, a starting left tackle for the Chiefs. “I can’t wait to meet some of the drivers and help out as one of the Honorary Officials for the race!”

Both players were drafted in the 2012 draft, with Allen being selected in the second round and Stephenson being selected in the third round. Allen was also named to the NFL’s All-Rookie team in 2012.

Kansas Speedway PR

Johnny Sauter was purely philosophical Sunday at Rockingham Speedway after his ThorSport Racing team fell short of establishing a NASCAR record in the Carolina Education Lottery 200 at The Rock presented by Cheerwine.

 

Sauter and his No. 98 Carolina Nut Co. / Curb Records Toyota team had won the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series' first two races this season, at Daytona in February and at Martinsville, Va., last weekend. In NASCAR's 65-year history no driver had ever won a national series' first three races.

 

And even though Sunday's winner, rookie Kyle Larson, said Sauter's fast Toyota was the truck Larson feared the most throughout the race's 200 laps, in the end Sauter had to come from back in the pack twice after he lost track position each time he came to pit road, and he finished fourth.

 

"We were trying to become the only guy to win three to start off the season, but it just wasn't meant to be," Sauter said on pit road after the race. "I couldn't be more proud of my guys and everybody at ThorSport for doing such a great job.

"We have a lot of new guys going over the wall this year so we just have to work on that a little bit (but) two wins and a fourth, I don't know anybody that would shake their head at that. I'm proud of everybody and we just need to keep digging. We're having fun and that's half the battle."

 

Despite the disappointing result, Sauter extended his lead in the championship standings to 16 points over rookie Jeb Burton, who won his second consecutive pole position on Saturday, and to 20 points over his third-place ThorSport Racing teammate, Matt Crafton. Crafton finished sixth Sunday in his No. 88 Ideal Door / Menards Toyota.

 

"Our Carolina Nut Co. / Curb Records Toyota was really, really strong -- we knew it was in practice (Saturday)," Sauter said of the truck that had the fastest average lap time across 150 minutes of practice. "We just had a couple mishaps in the pits. We didn't qualify as well as we wanted to (but) it was fun as always -- probably one of the best racetracks we go to all year.

 

"I can't thank Andy Hillenburg (track president) enough, and everybody else that's involved."

Sauter had a very comfortable truck in practice Saturday, and it was also fast. Sauter said he was "perplexed" after he qualified 11th but he quickly came to the front, reaching the top five in only 35 laps on his first run. 

But with Rockingham being particularly hard on tires, Sauter eventually had to come to pit road, when he was running second to Larson, who dominated by leading 187 of 200 laps.

"We were second and I think we came out of the pits 10th or whatever," Sauter said. "We got back up to second or third and came to pit road and came back out seventh -- gave up track position, but we didn't have a good enough truck to win there at the end."

Sauter said he had to abuse his equipment too much getting back to the front to be able to do much once he got there. The ironic thing was, as he chased down Larson and was near him for most of the race's seven restarts, Sauter repeatedly said he didn't feel like his truck had enough oomph to challenge Larson's.

On the other hand, on his in-truck radio Larson reportedly told his crew he was happy to see Sauter have trouble on pit road -- actually the right rear wheel jammed in the wheel well when the tire changer tried to pull it out, causing a couple seconds' delay -- because Larson had noticed how fast Sauter's truck was and it was Sauter he feared could give him the most trouble.

In the end, track position, visiting Sprint Cup star Joey Logano's fresh tires and a dogged Brendan Gaughan, who snaked by Sauter at the end to grab third place, knocked the point leader into fourth. But an inopportune bit of cloud cover was the biggest trouble.

"I just got too tight," Sauter said. "We had to adjust the truck during the race, tighten it up a little bit and then the clouds came in and I just couldn't roll the middle (of the corners) like I had."

Sauter's truck was good enough that on a restart at lap 183 he actually raced side-by-side with Larson for the better part of two laps -- actually passing him on the outside coming out of Turn 4 to lead a lap and get a critical bonus point.

Sauter and crew chief Joe Shear Jr. agreed that if a bad day was fourth place, things weren't all bad.

"All in all, it was a great day for us," Sauter said. "Top fives are what we need to do if we're going to be serious about this championship."

The season's fourth race, on the 1.5-mile high-banked oval at Kansas Speedway, will be held on Saturday, April 20.

 

Thorsport PR

Spritis were high as Martin traveled back to Texas to make his second career start in the NASCAR Nationwide Series at Texas Motor Speedway. Qualifying 32nd, Martin had climbed to 25th when a transmission failure forced him and his No.44 American Custom Yachts Toyota Camry crew to bring the car to the garage ending his night. Martin finished the race in 38th position.
 
Hal Martin on Texas Motor Speedway

 

This was your second time back to Texas Motor Speedway as a NASCAR Nationwide Series driver. How was it?
Martin stated, "I was excited to get my car back to this track. This is the first track in my schedule that I had previously driven on as a NASCAR Nationwide series driver. Our car was really good. When our competitor's speeds would drop off on long, green-flag runs, our car wouldn't. We were moving up quickly when the transmission failed."

 

You had some special guests this weekend, tell us about it.
 
  
Martin replied, "This weekend, we had our friends from Kool Boom, Ingersoll Rand and Centro, Inc. at the track with us. We had our guests visit the hauler and join the No. 44 American Custom Yachts Toyota Camry crew on the pit box for the race. We also ate the most delicious Philly Cheese Steaks courtesy of South Philly Cheese Steaks from Colorado."  
Looking Forward:
 
Martin will next compete in the ToyotaCare 250, which will take place in Richmond, VA at Richmond International Raceway on Friday April 26, 2013 at 8pm. Martin will be appearing at the Toyota Driver Center at RIR on Friday, April 26th from 1pm - 2pm.
 
Girl Friday PR

For over 30 years, Russell William Wallace, better known as Rusty, delighted fans not only with his hard-nosed and aggressive approach to racing, but also with a personality and charisma that were unmatched in sports. 

Wallace's legendary career not only rewrote the record books, but also helped bring millions of new fans to the sport of NASCAR racing.

Although his on-track performance was legendary, it was Wallace's immense personality and charisma that often cemented the bond between him and his fans.  The Missouri native was not only one of racing's most outspoken and confident characters, but also one of its first superstars born outside the southeast.  This led to legendary rivalries during the 1980s and 1990s with racing giants Dale Earnhardt and Darrell Waltrip.

“He is a tough competitor, and he isn’t shy, that’s for sure” Earnhardt once said of Wallace. Such rivalries came during a critical growth period for NASCAR, helping to draw legions of fans to the sport and propel it into the national spotlight. “It was a privilege to race against those guys,” Rusty admits.

“Rusty wasn’t afraid of anyone and that is why he became so popular,” says former driver and current television analyst Kyle Petty. “He was never intimidated. He cut his teeth in the Midwest, and while television cameras didn’t capture some of those heated rivalries out there, they existed, making Rusty tough and preparing him for NASCAR.”

When all was said and done, Wallace was the 1989 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion, a 55-time race winner (34 on short tracks) and a two-time National Motorsports Press Association Driver of the Year. He will go down in history as one of the best.

As a result of his accomplishments, he was selected into the prestigious International Motorsports Hall of Fame’s Class of 2013 along with fellow NASCAR stalwarts Rick Hendrick and Dale Inman, as well as Don Schumacher, one of the NHRA’s best drivers and team owners. The quartet will be inducted on Thursday, May 2, at the SPEED Dome at the IMHOF, just outside of Talladega Superspeedway.

At the time of his retirement in 2005, Wallace ranked as one of the top-five money winners in NASCAR history, with nearly $50 million in career earnings.  His 55 career victories marked the eighth-best all-time career total and his nearly 20,000 laps led ranked him seventh all-time.

One of the most impressive aspects of Wallace's career behind the wheel, however, was his staggering consistency and longevity.  For sixteen straight seasons, Wallace - the 1984 Sprint Cup Series Rookie of the Year - won at least one race in Sprint Cup competition, marking the third longest such streak in history.  His final career victory, coming at Martinsville in 2004, made him NASCAR's eighth-oldest race winner, at the tender age of 47.

It all started, however, in 1973, at the age of 16. After watching his father Russ become a championship racer in the Missouri area, Rusty was inspired to pursue a racing career of his own. His first race was at Lakehill Speedway, and later that year, he would claim the Central Racing Rookie of the Year award.

From there, he would make a name for himself throughout the 1970s, racing in the Midwest and winning more than 200 races and a pair of local track championships. In 1979, he was the USAC Rookie of the Year.

In 1980, Wallace made his NASCAR debut, and unbelievably, finished second in the Atlanta 500 when noted car owner Roger Penske gave the youngster a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. The early 1980s, however, was a time when owners put drivers, who had more experience and higher credentials, in their cars rather than youth and potential.

So, over the next three years, he would compete in a total of just nine Cup races. After an American Speed Association championship in 1983, Cliff Stewart Racing took a chance on Rusty, putting him in a Cup car full-time in what would be the beginning an incredible career.

After two years with Stewart, he moved to Raymond Beadle’s Blue Max Racing in 1986. His first career win came at Bristol Motor Speedway on April 6, and he added another triumph at Martinsville. In five years with Blue Max, Rusty had 18 wins.

After finishing runner up to Bill Elliott in the 1988 title battle, Rusty outdueled his close friend and rival Earnhardt by a mere 12 points to claim the 1989 Winston Cup championship. 

In 1991, he would rejoin Penske Racing, this time on a full-time basis. His best years with Penske came in a two-year stretch in which he won 10 races in 1993 while finishing second to Earnhardt for the championship, and then backed that up with eight wins in 1994 and a third-place finish in the standings. He would win a total of 37 races for Penske Racing.

Despite Rusty's legendary NASCAR career, his racing success extended to the International Race of Champions (IROC) Series, which featured the best drivers in the world from a variety of series in identically prepared cars. Not only did he capture the 1991 IROC title, but he became the only driver in IROC history to win three of the series’ four events in a single season.
 
On his induction into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame, Rusty says, “It's just so humbling to be recognized with an honor like this.  Growing up as a kid in St. Louis, Missouri, racing in NASCAR was just a dream for me.  For that dream not only be realized, but to end up with my being a part of the International Motorsports Hall of Fame, still just blows my mind.

 “I've always tried to be confident in whatever I do, but back when I started racing, I never would have believed that I'd end up where I am today.  It wasn't just me that made it happen though, this induction is a real testament to the hard work of an awful lot of people over the years.”

Wallace’s current undertakings allow him to continue putting his immense knowledge and charismatic personality to work.  In 2006, he was named Lead Auto Racing Analyst for ABC/ESPN and led the networks’ broadcast of the Indianapolis 500, prior to their return to NASCAR.  He currently headlines NASCAR Countdown, the networks’ popular pre-race show for ESPN’s NASCAR coverage.  Thanks to his first-hand experience with the sport’s inner workings, Wallace is widely acknowledged as one of the world’s foremost authorities on NASCAR racing. And, why not – he raced against the best.

In addition to his racing analysis, Wallace heads Rusty Wallace Racing, which has seen his son Steve behind the wheel in both the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and NASCAR Nationwide Series. Steve plans to make his 2013 Nationwide Series debut in May at Charlotte.

He has many other interests.  In 2005, he became the first driver in recent history to design a professional racing facility, when he inked the plans for the 7/8-mile Iowa Speedway. A board member of the NASCAR Foundation which gives back to the community, Rusty is an avid pilot with over 15,000 flight hours. In his spare time, he loves to golf.

Not too bad for a Midwesterner who just wanted to race.

Talladega PR

Race fans will have the opportunity to visit Darlington Raceway on April 16-17 to watch a two-day test session featuring NASCAR Nationwide Series drivers Kyle Larson and Nelson Piquet Jr., drivers of the No. 32 and No. 30 Chevrolets for Turner Scott Motorsports.

The test, which will be held from 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. both days, is FREE and open to the public. Darlington Raceway will open a section of the Colvin Grandstand on the backstretch of the track for fans to watch the test.

Fans need to use the Gate 6 entrance to the track off of Highway 151. The parking lot is located next to the track’s administration building. The ticket office will be open both days from 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. if fans want to purchase tickets to the races, which are now under a month away.

“We had such a great fan turnout for our Goodyear Tire Test featuring the Sprint Cup Series Gen-6 car in February. We wanted to open up this test session to the public as well. There’s nothing better than being able to see and hear stock cars thundering around Darlington. It gets you pumped up for the upcoming Bojangles’ Southern 500 race weekend on May 10-11,” track President Chris Browning said.

Larson and Piquet Jr. currently sit 11th and 13th respectively in the Nationwide Series point standings. Both drivers will be making their first Nationwide Series appearances at Darlington, when the series races in the VFW Sport Clips Help a Hero 200 on May 10. Piquet has one previous start at Darlington when the Camping World Truck Series raced there in 2011.

Times of the test are subject to change due to weather or unforeseen circumstances.

Darlington Raceway PR

After battling the track conditions for the majority of the night and then combating a sour motor in the waning laps, Mike Wallace was able to use his veteran experience to finish 21st at Texas Motor Speedway.

The finish, the third consecutive top-25 for the No. 01 G&K Services team, helped push Mike Wallace to 20th in the driver’s standings. The finish also provides the team the status of being “locked in” for the upcoming race at Richmond.

The weekend began with the veteran Wallace pacing the first and second practice sessions in 32nd both times. After the field set qualifying times, Wallace would roll off 28th. Once the green flag dropped, the No. 01 G&K Services Chevy worked toward the front of the field. Never losing a lap during the beginning of the race, the team worked on the car while gaining track position. After the last pit stop with 40 laps to go, the team bolted on fresh Goodyear tires for a run to the finish.

As the field took the green, the No. 01 G&K Services Chevrolet began to smoke. Wallace continued to pilot the car and remained on the lead lap until the white flag flew. Only losing one lap, Wallace took the checkered flag in 21st, and brought the battered race machine down pit road.

Mike Wallace Quotes: “Coming home 21st is a nice run for our team. For the last few laps, I could tell we had a problem brewing, but I didn’t want to give up any spots on the track. The finish ended up well enough to move the team up in points, which takes the pressure off at Richmond. I would like to thank G&K Services for the support again here in Texas. Now we have another weekend off before heading to Richmond!”

JD Motorsports PR

FAS Lane Racing and Timmy Hill know that each race is a new learning experience for them as the growing team and rookie driver tackle the challenge of NASCAR Sprint Cup Series competition.   The running of the NRA 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on Saturday night was another one of those experiences as the team and driver worked together for just the third time this season.  While Hill struggled to get the handling of his No. 32 OXYwater™ Ford to his liking, the 334-lap event proved a valuable learning experience for the combination on their way to a 36th place finish.

 

"We battled with the handling of our OXYwater™ Ford all night but together we worked hard and learned some things that made the car a little more comfortable for me," stated Hill. "A big part of the learning experience for me in the Sprint Cup Series is to log laps and complete races.  We did that tonight and I think what we learned will help us here in the coming weeks.  For sure this was not the end result that we wanted but we will move on and head to Kansas next week."

 

The tough 36th place finish dropped FAS Lane Racing to 37th in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series owners points. 

 

"This definitely was not the finish we were expecting this week," said FAS Lane Racing team owner Frank Stoddard.  "We are still working hard as a team to find out what best suits Timmy and I think we hit on a few things in the second half of the race tonight.  This OXYwater™ team will take that and head to Kansas and focus on improving together."

 

FAS Lane Racing and their No. 32 OXYwater™ Ford will head to Kansas Speedway this weekend for the running of the STP 400 on Sunday April 21st at 1:00 p.m. ET.    The race can be viewed LIVE nationally on FOX and heard on affiliated MRN radio stations and on Sirius XM NASCAR Radio 90. 

 

ISM PR

Matt Crafton raved about Rockingham Speedway's tire-grinding track surface as the weekend opened, but after Sunday's Carolina Education Lottery 200 at The Rock presented by Cheerwine, he realized that attempting to keep up with the track's varying condition had been his undoing.

 

Even though Crafton's No. 88 Ideal Door / Menards Toyota raced in the top 10 all day after starting a ThorSport Racing-best fifth, Crafton lost a spot on the final green-white-checkered restart and he ultimately finish sixth.

 

That finish, his third consecutive top-10 in three races this season, enabled him to remain in third in the championship standings, 20 points behind his ThorSport teammate and series leader Johnny Sauter and four behind rookie Jeb Burton -- who won his second consecutive series pole on Saturday at The Rock.

 

When he took the green flag, Crafton established a new NASCAR Camping World Truck Series mark for consecutive starts, with 297. It broke a mark he held with former ThorSport driver Terry Cook, who made his first 93 career starts for ThorSport and ultimately reached 296, which Crafton tied two weekends ago at Martinsville.

 

"We just missed it (on the set-up)," Crafton said at Rockingham. "We could make something happen for a few laps, but we were just trying something a little bit different this weekend and it bit us, to be totally honest.

 

"It just wasn't consistent -- it was a learning curve and we said at the beginning of the day that if we could get out of here with a top-five finish and if we stumble on it, it's a win for us (so) all in all, I'm proud of these guys."

 

While Sauter suffered on pit road, losing spots every time he hit the service alley, Crafton had more success there, including a critical stop at the race's midway point where Crafton leapfrogged Sauter by five spots and restarted fifth, where he remained for the entire second half of the race until the last lap.

 

"We made a lot of changes and a lot of adjustments on every pit stop," Crafton said. "Our pit stops were absolutely phenomenal all day -- besides the first one when I drove through the pit stall.

 

"I was making fun of the Cup guys last night that were all driving through their stalls (in NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Texas) and what do I do? I do the same thing (so) I guess that's karma."

 

The season's fourth race, on the 1.5-mile high-banked oval at Kansas Speedway, will be held on Saturday, April 20..

ThorSport PR

NOT A FIRST FOR QUIROGA: Germán Quiroga will have a series of 'firsts' during his 2013 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Rookie of the Year season. Though this will be the three time NASCAR Mexico Series champion's debut at the 1.5-mile track of Kansas Speedway, it is not his first 1.5-mile event. The driver of the No. 77 NET10 Wireless Toyota Tundra is eager to improve his highest finish on an intermediate track and hopes to achieve the feat during the SFP250 this weekend at Kansas Speedway.

 

In eight Truck Series races three of those were on a 1.5-mile track, with two races competed at Homestead-Miami Speedway and an additional start at Texas Motor Speedway. The Red Horse Racing driver collected a top-15 finish in 2012 at the season finale race in Homestead.

 

NET10 WIRELESS® AT KANSAS: As the Truck Series enters their third consecutive week of competition, NET10 Wireless will return as primary sponsor for German Quiroga and his No. 77 Toyota Tundra team this weekend at Kansas. The no contract cell phone leader will continue to its support as primary or associate sponsor for the remainder of the season. For more information on NET10 Wireless, visit www.NET10Wireless.com.

 

CHASSIS HISTORY: The No. 77 NET10 Wireless Toyota Tundra will utilize Chassis No. 008 this weekend at Kansas. Chassis 008 was brand new for the 2012 season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. There, the chassis earned Red Horse Racing's 10th pole position and took home a seventh-place finish.

 

REARVIEW MIRROR - ROCKINGHAM: German Quiroga entered Rockingham Speedway with the mind set of 'race the race track' and to exercise patience over the long 200-lap event. After qualifying in the 23rd position, Quiroga, was looking for speed early in his No. 77 Net10 Wireless Toyota Tundra racing the high groove where all the grip could be found. Unfortunately, he was battling a loose truck for the majority of the race while minimizing tire wear. With the race having an element of instruction in it for the Rookie of the Year contender, Quiroga gained knowledge as a driver and collected four positions finishing 19th.

 

Germán Quiroga talks about Kansas Speedway:

What have you been able to learn in your previous 1.5-mile races?

"I've learned a lot about aero and track position and how important it is at those types of tracks. There are also a lot of adjustments that the team can make to help the driver. You really have to work with your crew chief to tell him what you are feeling and what your Toyota Tundra needs. As a driver there isn't much you can gain in speed if your Tundra is not dialed in correctly. I'm really looking forward to being in great equipment at a 1.5-mile track and see what my true potential is.

 

This is the most consecutive truck series races you've run, how will this benefit you?
"I've been learning a lot. The first time I was in a truck, it was another year before I got back into the truck. Now that it's consistent, I have momentum and I feel like that's in itself is an advantage. As much as we have learned in these three races, I feel like it will pay off for the next 19."
 
RHR PR
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