Speedway Digest Staff
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You could see it coming.
Kyle Larson, a multi-talented 20-year-old from Elk Grove, Calif., captured Sunday’s NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Rockingham (N.C.) Speedway to become the first graduate of the NASCAR Drive for Diversity initiative to win at the sanctioning body’s national level.
“Kyle Larson’s victory is a truly historic moment in this sport,” said Brian France, NASCAR chairman and CEO. “We applaud his tremendous talent, and this landmark milestone for the NASCAR Drive for Diversity program. Kyle is among a strong crop of young, rising stars who signal a promising and competitive future for NASCAR.”
Larson, of Japanese-American heritage, finished second in the truck series last November at Phoenix International Raceway. In March, the 2012 NASCAR K&N Pro Series East champion fell inches short of defeating Kyle Busch in a NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Bristol Motor Speedway.
Larson previously became the first NASCAR D4D competitor to win a NASCAR Touring championship. Driving for Rev Racing, Larson won last season’s NASCAR K&N Pro Series East title and the Sunoco Rookie of the Year with two wins, eight top-five and 12 top-10 finishes in 14 starts. Ironically, he wrapped up the championship at the one-mile Rockingham Speedway.
The Earnhardt Ganassi Racing development driver won Sunday’s North Carolina Education Lottery 200 at The Rock Presented by Cheerwine at the wheel of the No. 30 Turner Scott Motorsports Chevrolet – a race that also included Darrell Wallace Jr., likewise a graduate of the NASCAR D4D program. Larson drives for the team in the NASCAR Nationwide Series where he is a Sunoco Rookie of the Year contender and ranks 11th in the overall series points standings.
Larson’s next NASCAR Nationwide Series start will come April 26 at Richmond International Raceway.
Larson competed under the NASCAR D4D banner in 2012. Created in 2004, the NASCAR Drive for Diversity initiative has seen multiple drivers go through the program. Under the initial model, drivers competed for NASCAR approved and supported developmental teams throughout the United States. The initiative has evolved, and drivers now race for one team, Rev Racing, and have been since 2010.
A sprint car winner at age 14 – a discipline in which he continues to compete – Larson swept Eldora Speedway’s prestigious USAC Four Crown Nationals in 2011 with victories in sprint, midget and Silver Crown features. He won the legendary USAC midget Turkey Night Grand Prix last fall in California.
- Richard Childress Racing teammates finished third (Brendan Gaughan) and 12th (Ty Dillon).
- Dillon is tied for sixth in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series driver championship point standings, trailing leader Johnny Sauter by 37 markers, while Gaughan ranks 12th, 47 points back.
- The No. 3 Chevrolet team ranks seventh in the Camping World Truck Series owner championship point standings, with the No. 62 team in 15th.
- Combined, Gaughan and Dillon posted 27 of the Fastest Laps Run, 16 and 11 respectively.
- Both RCR drivers spent all 205 laps in the top 15, an accomplishment achieved by only five drivers.
- According to NASCAR's post-race loop data statistics, Gaughan maintained the second-best Average Running Position (3.098), earned the second-best Driver Rating (118.8), was the second-fastest Driver Early in a Run (139.919 mph), third-Fastest on Restarts (135.005 mph) and held the third-fastest Green Flag Speed (132.819 mph).
- Dillon was the third-Fastest Driver Late in a Run (129.900 mph), held the fourth-fastest Green Flag Speed (132.632 mph) and earned a 6.132 Average Running Position, ranking him fifth in the post-race loop data category.
- Kyle Larson earned his first victory of the 2013 Camping World Truck Series season and was followed to the finish line by Joey Lagano, Gaughan, Sauter and Chase Elliott.
- The next Camping World Truck Series race is the SPF 250 at Kansas Speedway on Saturday, April 20. The fourth race of the 2013 season is scheduled to be televised live on SPEED beginning at 2 p.m. Eastern Time and broadcast live on the Motor Racing Network and Sirius XM NASCAR Satellite Radio.
Dillon Salvages 12th-Place Finish at "The Rock"
Ty Dillon and the No. 3 Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet team finished 12th in Sunday's North Carolina Education Lottery 200 at Rockingham Speedway. Dillon started the scheduled 200-lap affair from 14th and began making his way to the front of the field. After a long green flag run, Dillon was scored in the fifth position when a caution flag was displayed on lap 63. Crew chief Marcus Richmond called the Welcome, N.C., native to pit road for four tires and fuel. A quick stop by the Bass Pro Shops pit crew earned Dillon the fourth spot on the ensuing restart. The Richard Childress Racing team continued to fire off quick pit stops throughout the afternoon, helping Dillon improve to the second position on lap 102. After the first half of the event, the black and orange Chevrolet developed a tight-handling condition in the center of the corners. Dillon continued to battle the handling issue in the closing stages of the race, but maintained a position within the top-10. A late-race caution set the field for a green-white-checkered finish and on the restart, the 21-year-old was shuffled back in the running order. With only one lap remaining in the race, Dillon was unable to improve his spot on the track and crossed the finish line in the 12th position.
Start - 14 Finish - 12 Laps Led - 0 Points - 6th
TY DILLON QUOTE:
"I think we had one of the fastest trucks here this weekend, but our finish definitely didn't show it. The guys worked hard to keep the balance right on the No. 3 Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet all day. We had a solid finish in our sights, but on that last restart we got shuffled too far back to make it back into the top-five."
Brendan Gaughan Scores Third-Place Finish at "The Rock"
Brendan Gaughan and the No. 62 South Point Hotel & Casino Chevrolet crossed the finish line third in the North Carolina Education Lottery 200 at Rockingham Speedway Sunday afternoon, earning his first top-five finish of the season. The Las Vegas native started the scheduled 200-lap event from the ninth position and quickly moved into third by lap 10. Happy with the overall handling of the truck, Gaughan maintained a position within the top five for the remainder of the race moving as high as second in the running order, before crossing the finish line third. The top-five finish allowed Gaughan to gain five spots in the driver championship point standings, he now holds the 12th position.
Start - 9Finish - 3Laps Led - 0Points - 12th
BRENDAN GAUGHAN QUOTE:
"We had such a strong Chevrolet from the start of the race and drove to the front right away, we didn't' want to fool around out there. We had strong pit stops all day, but my pit crew is mad at themselves right now because they think they had terrible stops. We never lost a spot on pit road; we even gained a few positions throughout the race. You've got to love having a crew that is this passionate and competitive with what they do. It's just fun to have Shane Wilson (crew chief) back on the box and run like we did today."
Looking for another reason to purchase Kansas Speedway season tickets besides the great racing and up-close access to driver introductions and the pre-race concert? Here’s another reason – Kansas Speedway season ticket holders and RV season customers get the opportunity to drive around Kansas Speedway in the month of May.
On May 3, 10 and 11 from 7 PM – 10 PM, and on May 4 from 1 PM to 4 PM, season ticket holders and RV season customers will have the opportunity to drive their personal vehicle on Kansas Speedway’s variable banking. Those eligible to participate will receive passes in the mail after the STP 400 weekend. And even better, each pass will let you drive as many three-lap sessions as you like as long as time allows during your day at the track.
Additional details regarding the laps is available in the letter you receive with your passes and also at www.kansasspeedway.com/drive.
There’s still time to be become a Kansas Speedway season ticket holder and take advantage of these great opportunities!
Kansas Speedway PR
Of the six second-place finishes Martin Truex Jr. has posted since winning his first and only NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race back in 2007, the runner-up result Saturday night at Texas Motor Speedway was the toughest to take.
In reality, though, Truex’s failure to win in a superior car was no big thing. It was a lot of small things—miniscule things—that combined to make Kyle Busch a winner and Truex the epitome of frustration.
It’s not every night that Truex and his Michael Waltrip Racing team can go toe-to-toe with Hendrick Motorsports and Joe Gibbs Racing and know they have a superior car. But that was the case Saturday night, when Truex led 142 laps and, on one occasion, opened a lead of more than four seconds over Busch in second place.
If the race had been decided on the race track, Truex might have won. Unfortunately for Truex and his No. 56 Toyota team, what happened on pit road tipped the scales in Busch’s favor.
On Lap 314 of 334, NASCAR called a caution for debris in Turn 4. The lead-lap cars came to pit road for new tires, essential for a final green-flag run that, as it turned out, lasted 16 laps. Busch’s veteran pit crew pulled off a stop in 11.7 seconds, according to crew chief Dave Rogers.
From pit stall No. 1, the closest to the exit from pit road, Busch beat Truex to the timing line that sets the order for the restart—beat him badly. Taking the green flag from the outside lane, Truex could barely hold the second position, much less challenge Busch for the lead.
That was the race, pure and simple. Busch pulled away to a comfortable lead. Though Truex whittled away at the advantage over the closing laps, he ran out of time and finished a half-second behind.
"Second sucks," Truex said after the race. "It just hurts when you give them away."
In fact, Truex gave away nothing. Rather, Busch took the win away from him, and he did so through the little things that define the difference between success and failure.
The final pit stop was the fulcrum, but it was simply a microcosm of what was happening throughout the race. In eight pit stops combined—under yellow and green—Busch spent 279.927 seconds on pit road. Truex, on the other hand, needed 292.820 seconds to negotiate pit road, nearly 13 seconds more.
Translated to an average, Truex used 1.612 seconds more per pit stop than Busch did. That’s an enormous difference through the course of a race.
Bear in mind that those numbers relate to total time on pit road, from entrance to exit. Busch has an uncanny knack for getting to his pit stall in the shortest possible time. He’s had the same over-the-wall crew since 2008, and "his guys" know each other’s every move.
The bottom line is that Truex had the speed to win the race, but he didn’t have all of the other essential components. If his team is serious about mounting a championship challenge, the areas where improvement is needed are obvious.
Truex’s last win came at Dover on June 4, 2007 in a race delayed by rain till Monday. Truex smoked the field that day, winning by 7.355 seconds, but the celebration was muted, because NASCAR icon Bill France Jr. had passed away during the event.
If and when Truex wins another Cup race, he would have the second longest stretch between victories. As of Saturday night, his drought has reached 210 races, the third longest current streak behind Bobby Labonte and Joe Nemechek for drivers who have won at least one race.
If and when Truex wins again, may the celebration be loud and raucous. For a victory will mean that Truex and his MWR team have taken the next necessary steps in what has already been a methodical rise to prominence.
When the taste of second places turns bitter, as it did for Truex on Saturday, there’s only one remedy. The frustration of Texas may well prove the catalyst that will propel Truex to Victory Lane before season’s end.
With a combined effort from drivers Eric McClure and teammate Jeff Green, the No. 14 Hefty®/Reynolds® Racing team posted a 30th-place finish in Friday night’s O’Reilly Auto Parts 300 at Texas Motor Speedway. Consequently, the TriStar Motorsports team slipped one position to 24th in the NASCAR Owner Standings.
McClure, whose children had the stomach flu just days leading up to his departure for the race, came down with the bug himself at the most inopportune time-just an hour prior to Thursday’s practice session. This not only sidelined the Virginia driver from practicing the car, it also sent him to the Emergency Room late that night to receive fluids and medication in hopes of helping his symptoms subside. Although McClure was able to practice and qualify the No. 14 Camry Friday afternoon, he thought it would be best to have teammate Green on standby in the event he had to exit the cockpit prior to the event’s completion.
When the event’s first caution flag waved on lap 25, McClure, who was running in the 37th position, one lap down to the race leader, informed the team that he did in fact need to exit the car. While Green was getting settled into the Hefty®/Reynolds® Camry, the team changed four tires, added fuel, and made several adjustments to help the car’s loose-handling condition. When the race resumed on lap 30, Green was scored in the 37th position, two laps down to the race leader.
Over the next 70 laps, Green visited pit road on three occasions. All were under caution for tires, fuel, and extensive chassis adjustments in hopes of landing a combination that pacified the loose-handling condition on the No. 14 Camry. Although the changes made didn’t seem to help the car’s drivability, Green was still able to work his way up to the 32nd position by the halfway marker of the race.
During the final 100 laps, Green continued to battle an ill-handling car. The team made various adjustments to the car during the ensuing four caution periods, but with every change, the handling became worse. In the end, Green crossed the finish line in the 30th-position.
Driver, Jeff Green Quotes: “First off I hope that Eric feels better; he was really sick on Thursday and wasn’t much better today. I’m just glad I was here to help him out. Something was wrong with the car tonight. No matter what the guys did to try to fix it, it just became worse. I drove as hard as I could and am disappointed to find out it was only for 30th.”
Roush Fenway’s Trevor Bayne had one of the fastest cars on the track during the NASCAR Nationwide Series’ first night race of the season, until a spinout in the infield sent debris flying into the No.6 Cargill Ford Mustang’s grille causing it to overheat. A green-flag pit stop to clear the debris and add water to the engine put the No.6 team a lap down and landed Bayne in 26thposition at the end of the O’Reilly Auto Parts 300 at Texas Motor Speedway (TMS).
“When they kept crashing on the front stretch, they kept kicking grass up all night long and I guess we just got the worst of it,” said Bayne. “I backed off the guys in front of me, got real high and tried to clean it off on the car in front of me, but it just never came off and we overheated there.”
The No.6 team made several in-race adjustments to the Cargill Beef Ford Mustang. Midway through the race, Bayne climbed up to fourth place and was challenging Austin Dillon for third. Just before overheating, Bayne and the No.6 team had the car in perfect shape. At one point, Bayne radioed in to fill-in Crew Chief Seth Barbour, “”WooooWeee, we got it hooked up now!”
The unscheduled pit stop needed to clean off the car pushed the No.6 team into 26th position and two laps down for the finish. Bayne currently sits in 10th place in the NNS standings; 40 points behind point leader Sam Hornish Jr.
After another week break for the NASCAR Nationwide Series, Bayne and the No.6 Cargill team will head in to Richmond International Raceway for another Friday night race.
- Richard Childress Racing teammates finished 13th (Kevin Harvick), 17th (Paul Menard) and 23rd (Jeff Burton).
- Menard is 10th in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver championship point standings, trailing leader Jimmie Johnson by 63 markers, while Harvick ranks 12th, 77 points back, and Burton sits 23rd, 117 points out of the top position.
- The No. 27 Chevrolet SS team ranks 11th in the Sprint Cup Series owner championship point standings, with the No. 29 team 14th and the No. 31 team 25th.
- According to NASCAR's post-race loop data statistics, Harvick completed 112 Green-Flag Passes, 59 of those were made while running in the top 15 (Quality Passes) positioning him second in both loop data categories.
- Harvick posted two of the Fastest Laps Run during the 334-lap event.
- Menard spent 157 Laps in the Top 15, for 47 percent of the 500-mile affair.
- Burton made 73 Green Flag Passes and 15 Quality Passes during the NRA 500.
- Kyle Busch earned his second victory of the 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season and was followed to the finish line by Martin Truex Jr., Carl Edwards, Greg Biffle and Joey Logano.
- The next Sprint Cup Series race is the STP 400 at Kansas Speedway on Sunday, April 21. The eighth race of the 2013 season is scheduled to be televised live on FOX beginning at 1 p.m. Eastern Time and broadcast live on the Motor Racing Network and Sirius XM NASCAR Satellite Radio.
Paul Menard finished 17th at Texas Motor Speedway Saturday evening after having mechanical issues with two laps remaining in the 334-lap event. The Quaker State/Menards Chevrolet SS driver took the green flag from the 19th position and struggled with handling issues during the early and middle portions of the race. The No. 27 pit crew made an array of chassis adjustments on the ensuing pit stops in an attempt to remedy the loose handing condition on entry and exit of the corners. After a lap-152 pit stop for four fresh tires, fuel, air pressure adjustments and removal of a right-side packer, the 32-year-old driver relayed to the crew that the No. 27 machine was the best it had been all night. Steadily working his way toward the front of the field, Menard was scored 10th at lap 262. With just 19 laps remaining, the caution flag flew and the Eau Claire, Wis., native brought his car into the pits for four fresh tires and fuel. A lightning-fast stop by the crew allowed him to gain two spots, restarting ninth. Looking as though he was going to have his fourth top-10 finish of the season, rear suspension failure with just two laps to go relegated Menard to a 17th-place result in the Lone Star State. Menard now sits 10th in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver championship point standings heading into Kansas Speedway.
PAUL MENARD QUOTE:
"We struggled with the handling of the Quaker State/Menards car early in the race, but the crew never gave up and we were able to work our way inside the top 10. We had a fast Chevrolet SS at the end of the race, and it's unfortunate we had mechanical issues with just a couple of laps to go. We'll keep our heads up and head to Kansas Speedway looking for better results."
Kevin Harvick and the No. 29 Rheem Chevrolet SS team finished 13th in the NRA 500 under the lights of Texas Motor Speedway on Saturday evening. Harvick qualified the red and black machine in the 29th position, but was forced to start the 334-lap affair from the back of the field after the team changed engines during the final practice Friday afternoon. The California native was on a mission as soon as the green flag dropped, making a charge toward the front of the field breaking into the top 15 on lap 49. As the race progressed, Harvick informed crew chief Gil Martin that he was battling a tight-handling condition, but continued to work his way closer to the front settling into the top 10 by lap 135. Throughout the course of the race, the Rheem pit crew made chassis and air pressure adjustments during multiple scheduled four-tire pit stops to remedy the handling issues their driver was battling. Harvick continued to race in the top 10 until the caution flag was displayed on lap 282 in the midst of green-flag pit stops, just after the No. 29 team had visited pit road, placing Harvick one lap down to the leader. Harvick took the wave around during the next caution placing the Rheem Chevrolet in the 13th-position for the ensuing restart. The Richard Childress Racing driver remained in the top 15 during the final laps, ultimately crossing the finish line 13th. The top-15 result allowed Harvick to gain two positions, to 12th, in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver championship point standings.
Start - 29 Finish - 13 Laps Led - 0 Points - 12th
KEVIN HARVICK QUOTE:
"It seems like we just can't catch a break these days. All the odds were against us this weekend. We had engine issues that forced us to start from the back of the pack and then went a lap down when the caution came out during green-flag pit stops. Hopefully, our luck will change soon and we can start collecting the finishes this team deserves."
Late-Race Incident Ends Solid Run for Burton, No. 31 Cat Racing Team at TMS
Jeff Burton was making gains on handling issues that plagued the No. 31 Caterpillar Hybrid Excavator Chevrolet SS throughout the first half of the NRA 500, when unexpected contact with another car ended any chance of a good finish.
Start - 21 Finish - 23 Laps Led - 0 Points - 23rd (+1)
JEFF BURTON QUOTE:
"It was an unfortunate night for the Cat Racing team. We struggled with the handling through the first half of the race. The crew did a great job making adjustments but, for whatever reason, we'd run good for a few laps and then the handling would go back to real loose all of a sudden. We were actually running okay (in the 13th position) when we got caught up in that wreck late in the race."
Trevor Bayne and the Motorcraft/Quick Lane crew had a good night going at Texas Motor Speedway on Saturday when an untimely caution flag put them nearly two laps down just after Bayne made his final pit stop in the NRA 500. Even so, Bayne and his Wood Brothers team used the wave-around rule to rejoin the lead lap and score an 18th-place finish.
Bayne started the race in 22nd position and immediately began to work his way forward. Halfway through the race, he was running in the top 15 and looking for more.
As the crew was preparing to make its final scheduled stop, Bayne noticed a fluctuation in the fuel pressure on his No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Fusion so he came to pit road. The pit stop was flawless, but the caution flag flew before the rest of the leaders stopped, knocking Bayne and the Wood Brothers off the lead lap.
Crew chief Donnie Wingo elected to take the wave-around on the race’s final caution period and rejoin the lead lap, but doing so meant that Bayne would have to make the final green-flag run without the benefit of fresh tires or a chassis adjustment. Still he was able to bring the car home in 18th place.
“We had a good night, and it could have easily been much better,” team co-owner Eddie Wood said. “We were running with Carl Edwards and Greg Biffle when the caution caught us. They finished third and fourth, and we would have been right there with them.”
Wood said he was pleased with every aspect of his team’s performance.
“Trevor did a good job,” he said. “Donnie called a great race. The pit crew had a good night.
“Everybody did what they were supposed to do. That one caution flag, which couldn’t be helped, was our only problem.”
Wood Brothers Racing PR
Timing was everything for Ryan Newman in the NRA 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race Saturday night at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, as he was able to capitalize on a timely caution and turn a disappointing run into a 10th-place finish.
Newman started the race from the 31st position in the Quicken Loans Chevrolet for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), but was able to make passes throughout the 334-lap race, despite struggling with a loose-handling racecar. Crew chief Matt Borland called for track bar, wedge and air pressure adjustments throughout the race, which improved the handling characteristics of the car. But Newman continued to struggle as the laps clicked off.
Newman lost a lap to the race leaders at the halfway point of the event but was able to race his way to become the first car one lap down and in position for the “free pass” to return to the lead lap when the caution flag was displayed. His efforts were rewarded when, on lap 224, an incident on the backstretch brought out the caution period that the No. 39 team needed to return to the lead lap.
In the closing laps of the event, a multi-car incident occurred as a cycle of green-flag pit stops were being completed. With Newman not yet having been to pit road for service, he was rewarded with a gain of 10 positions over those that had already pitted. Under caution, the Quicken Loans team was able to complete routine service of four tires and fuel, sending Newman back on track in the seventh position for the restart. Newman was able to hold his own over the closing laps to bring the No. 39 machine home in the 10th position.
“We had a tough day in the pits for the most part and got a lap down,” Newman said. “Long green flag runs kept us a lap down for a while there. We got lucky and got the Lucky Dog (free pass). We never got the Quicken Loans Chevrolet balanced quite right, but the guys did a good job of coming back. We were probably our best at the end of the race. We did not have a 10th-place car all weekend until there at the end of the race.”
Tony Stewart, driver of the No. 14 Mobil 1/Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet SS for SHR, finished 21st.
Danica Patrick, driver of the No. 10 GoDaddy.com Chevrolet SS for SHR, finished 28th.
Kyle Busch won the NRA 500 to score his 26th career Sprint Cup victory, his second of the season and his first at Texas. Busch is now tied for 23rd on the all-time Sprint Cup win list with Fred Lorenzen.
Martin Truex Jr. finished .508 of a second behind Busch in the runner-up spot, while Carl Edwards, Greg Biffle and Joey Logano rounded out the top-five. Jimmie Johnson, Aric Almirola, Brian Vickers, Brad Keselowski and Newman comprised the remainder of the top-10.
There were seven caution periods for 36 laps, with five drivers failing to finish the 334-lap race.
With round seven of 36 complete, Newman leads the SHR contingent in the championship point standings. He moved up six spots to 17th and is 100 points behind series leader Johnson. Stewart maintained his 22nd-place standing and is 111 points out of first. Patrick maintained her 26th-place standing and is 134 points behind Johnson.
Patrick, who is competing for Rookie of the Year honors against Ricky Stenhouse Jr., finished 12 spots ahead of Stenhouse, who placed 40th.
The next event on the Sprint Cup schedule is the STP 400 Sunday, April 21 at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City, Kan. The race starts at 1 p.m. EDT, with live coverage provided by FOX beginning with its pre-race show at 12:30 p.m.