Friday, Oct 07
Speedway Digest Staff

Speedway Digest Staff

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Ben Kennedy captured his first career win in dominant fashion – leading the NAPA Auto Parts 150 wire-to-wire as the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East made its inaugural visit to Five Flags Speedway on Saturday.

Earlier in the day, Kennedy established himself as the one to beat at the half-mile track in his home state – topping the speed chart in practice and winning the Coors Light Pole Award in qualifying.

The 21-year-old from Daytona Beach held off multiple challenges throughout the 150-lap event and maintained command even after his sizeable lead was erased by a late-race caution.

"It's so cool to come here to Pensacola and win," said Kennedy. "This is a track with so much prestige and this is phenomenal."

Fifteen-year-old series rookie Gray Gaulding had to settle for second, with John Van Doorn third. Brett Moffitt came home fourth, followed by Kenzie Ruston. Bryon Ortiz, Dylan Kwasniewski, Sergio Pena, Ryan Gifford and Brandon Gdovic completed the top 10.

Kennedy, the great grandson of NASCAR founder Bill France Sr., got his first win last year in the Euro-Racecar Series in Tours, France. This was his first win in the U.S. and came in his 30th NASCAR K&N Pro Series East start. His previous best finish was third (twice).

Kennedy was one of five drivers in the field with previous experience at the Pensacola track. He has twice competed in Super Late Models at Five Flags.

The NAPA Auto Parts 150 will be televised on SPEED on May 2 at 3 p.m. ET.

The next event on the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East schedule is the Blue Ox 100 at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway on April 25.

FinStrCarDriverTeamLapsPointsB/PointsStatus
1 1 96 Ben Kennedy Ben Kennedy Racing Chevrolet 150 48 5 Running
2 3 20 Gray Gaulding * Krispy Kreme Toyota 150 42   Running
3 7 1 John Van Doorn * Karl Chevrolet Performance Chevrolet 150 41   Running
4 4 11 Brett Moffitt Don Valley North Toyota Scion Toyota 150 40   Running
5 9 34 Kenzie Ruston * AccuDoc Solutions Chevrolet 150 39   Running
6 5 4 Bryan Ortiz Impact Toyota 150 38   Running
7 22 98 Dylan Kwasniewski Royal Purple/Rockstar Energy Drink Chevrolet 150 37   Running
8 8 16 Sergio Pena NAPA Auto Parts Toyota 150 36   Running
9 19 2 Ryan Gifford Sunoco/NTI Toyota 150 35   Running
10 11 46 Brandon Gdovic Windstax.com/Aquis Communications Toyota 150 34   Running
11 16 21 Mackena Bell * Toyota Racing Development Toyota 150 33   Running
12 18 37 John Hunter Nemechek * Spraker Racing Enterprises Chevrolet 150 32   Running
13 12 6 Daniel Suarez Visit Acapulco Toyota 150 31   Running
14 6 39 CJ Faison Little Caesar's Pizza Chevrolet 150 30   Running
15 23 71 Eddie MacDonald Grimm Construction/National MS Society Toyota 149 29   Running
16 14 89 Matthew Tifft * DOC 360 Chevrolet 149 28   Running
17 10 72 Scott Heckert * Project Lifesaver Chevrolet 149 27   Running
18 2 47 Cale Conley Tait Towers Toyota 149 26   Running
19 21 31 Jimmy Weller Integrated Metal Products Chevrolet 148 25   Running
20 15 99 Austin Dyne KMC Wheels Chevrolet 148 24   Running
21 13 29 Zak Hausler * F.A.S.T. Ford 148 23   Running
22 20 00 Cole Custer * Haas Automation Chevrolet 148 22   Running
23 24 49 Harrison Rhodes MacDonald Motorsports Toyota 148 21   Running
24 25 0 Enrique Contreras, III * Viva La Raza Racing Toyota 147 20   Running
25 26 48 Duke Whiseant * Chevrolet 133 19   Accident
26 17 97 Jesse Little * Coulter Mtrsprts/Team Little Racing Chevrolet 66 18   Engine

NASCAR PR

Danica Patrick struggled with an ill-handling car and finished a disappointing 28th in the NRA 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race Saturday night at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth.

Patrick, driver of the No. 10 GoDaddy.com Chevrolet for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), started 42nd and early on dealt with a car that was tough to handle. Crew chief Tony Gibson made a series of track-bar, wedge and tire pressure adjustments throughout the race, while also making a shock adjustment and inserting a spring rubber in the right-rear spring.

The changes made the car better throughout the night. But with only seven cautions for 36 laps, Patrick fell three laps behind the leaders and had to settle for a finish outside the top-25.

“It was a tough night,” Patrick said. “The car was just kind of all over the place at the beginning. Tony Gibson (crew chief) and the GoDaddy guys kept working on it all night, and we made some improvements on it. The pit crew did a good job on the stops. We just need to get better on the 1.5-mile tracks. I know the team will keep working at it. We’ll see what we can do in Kansas.”

Ryan Newman, driver of the No. 39 Quicken Loans Chevrolet for SHR, led once for three laps en route to finishing 10th. It was Newman’s fourth top-10 finish of the season and his fourth top-10 in 20 career Sprint Cup starts at the 1.5-mile oval.

Tony Stewart, driver of the No. 14 Mobil 1/Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet SS, finished 21st.

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 tied for 23rd on the all-time Sprint Cup Series wins list with 1965 Daytona 500 winner 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 spot in the standings and is 111 points out of first. Patrick also maintained her 26th-place spot in the standings 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.

TSC PR

A parts failure spoiled a strong run for Kurt Busch, who was credited with a 37th-place finish in Saturday night's NRA 500 Sprint Cup Series race at Texas Motor Speedway. 
 
The former NASCAR champion was cruising in the top-five on the ultra-fast 1.5-mile oval, but on Lap 177 of 324 Busch’s No. 78 Furniture Row/Serta Chevrolet SS encountered a fuel pressure problem.
 
Busch had no choice but to drive his car to the garage where it was determined that a broken part in the fuel injection system was the culprit. The Furniture Row crew replaced the broken part and when Busch returned to the competition he was 17-laps down.
 
"When you're running solidly in the top-five and then to have a parts failure knock you out of contention it's very frustrating,” said Busch. “We came in here with a fast race car, qualified on the front row and continued the strong performance. What's done is done and we have to put tonight behind us.”
 
Up until the parts failure Busch ran all but one lap inside the top-10 with the majority in the top-five.
 
“We need to get these problems rectified sooner than later,” stated Busch, who also saw a strong run stymied due to a parts failure last week in Martinsville. “I feel confident that we’ll get this accomplished and have another fast Furniture Row Chevrolet SS in Kansas next week."
 
After seven of 36 races, Busch is 24th in points.
 
“Right now we need to concentrate on having clean races and taking advantage of our performance level,” noted Busch. ”We have proved that we can run up front.”
 
The Texas race winner was Kyle Busch. Rounding out the top-10 in order were: Martin Truex Jr., Carl Edwards, Greg Biffle, Joey Logano, Jimmie Johnson, Aric Almirola, Brian Vickers, Brad Keselowski and Ryan Newman.
 
The race saw 18 lead changes among seven drivers and seven cautions for 36 laps.
 
The next Sprint Cup race is Sunday (April 21) at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City, Kan.
 
FRR PR

Roush Fenway drivers Carl Edwards and Greg Biffle battled back to third and fourth-place finishes in Saturday night’s 500-mile Sprint Cup race at Texas Motor Speedway. Both battled through numerous issues and obstacles throughout the weekend and during the race, but were able to battle back to the strong finishes.  

RFR rookie Ricky Stenhouse Jr. cut a right-rear tire early in the race, made contact with the outside wall and was forced behind the wall for repairs; finishing 40th.

“I’m really proud of the whole Fastenal team for fighting all night,” said Edwards. “We had great pits stops all night. This was just a great event. I wish we were over there celebrating in victory lane, but we’ll get there.”

“It was a hard-fought battle,” said Biffle. “Racing Carl there at the end was a lot of fun. We want to be racing for the win, but it was a strong effort by the 3M guys tonight and a solid finish.”

The finish was Edwards fourth top-five in seven starts this season. It was Biffle’s first top five and fourth top-10 in 2013. The duo moved up two spots to fourth and fifth in the Sprint Cup point standings.

RFR and the Sprint Cup Series return to action next weekend at Kansas Speedway, where Roush Fenway boasts four wins in the Cup Series.

RFR PR

Alex Bowman and the No. 99 RAB Racing Toyota Camry came into the Texas Motor Speedway with a fast and familiar chassis, but more importantly a new sponsor and in SchoolTipline.com. Bowman showed he had a fast car winning the 21 Means 21 Pole Award with a speed of 183.418mph, and getting RAB Racing's first ever NASCAR Nationwide pole. Bowman had a great start leading the opening four laps and ran in the top five all race long, only to fall back in the closing laps to 14th place. Bowman leaves Texas Motor Speedway securing the Sunoco Rookie of the Race award.

Alex Bowman: "It was a disappointing finish to a race where we could have finished in the top five. The very last pit stop I didn't want to change the car and talked my crew chief out of an adjustment, which ultimately made the car much tighter than I anticipated. I'm excited for my first ever pole award, and to represent such a great organization in SchoolTipline.com. We visited a middle school while in Texas and to know that we made a difference in the lives of those kids outweighs any disappointment I have in our finish, this is just the beginning of our partnership and I encourage everyone to go to SchoolTipline.com to find out more information. I can't wait to get to Richmond next, where I'll be visiting another middle school to educate a new group of kids and faculty about this amazing product."

RAB Racing PR

Rockingham Speedway may be nearly 50 years old, but it sported a youthful appearance Saturday as 20-year-old Kyle Larson and 17-year-old Chase Elliott led practice for Sunday's North Carolina Education Lottery 200 at The Rock presented by Cheerwine.

 

Larson, driving a Chevrolet, paced the first practice session at the 1-mile track with a 144.341-mph, 24.941-second, lap, but had to settle for ninth quickest in final practice at 140.773 mph, 25.573 seconds. Elliott, also in a Chevrolet, rebounded from a 13th-quickest first session -- 140.362 mph, 25.648 seconds -- to lead final practice -- 142.812 mph, 25.208 seconds.

 

"I thought it was decent," Elliott said about his practice speeds. "I think we have some work to do tonight. I think we got some good notes from today. Hopefully, we can make our best guess at it and be good tomorrow."

 

Elliott, who has won two Late Model races at "The Rock", hoped his previous experience at the facility, where his dad made his NASCAR Cup debut in 1976, would help him more in Sunday's race than it did in practice.

          

"This race track is such a sensitive place when you get to racing and you get into a race pace and you really get into a rhythm here," said Elliott, who had the second best 10 consecutive lap average in final practice with 136.564 mph. "I hope the races I've run here in the past will help us and we can be there when it counts tomorrow."

         

Larson, who finished 32nd in Friday night's NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Texas, said it was a long trip to North Carolina following the event "but it was totally worth it."

          

"We were able to run good lap times on the long run even when our tires were worn, so I think we'll have a good shot," said Larson, who had the third best 10 consecutive lap average in final practice with 136.393 mph.

          

Ryan Blaney, driving a Ford, produced the best 10 consecutive lap average in final practice with 136.959 mph.

          

In two races Saturday at "The Rock", Australian Brodie Kostecki won the 75-lap UARA Late Model race, while Chuck Barnes dominated the Frank Kimmel Street Stock event to claim his fourth victory at the track. Barnes is now tied with Clay Rogers for the most Rockingham victories since the track reopened in 2008.

          

Kostecki said his team had tested a great deal and the victory showed the strength of the family-owned organization.

        

"I've really learned through the past seasons to just really conserve your equipment," said Kostecki, who's in his rookie season driving a car that weighs more than 2,000 pounds. "I started off the race just kind of riding around at my own pace, just conserving my equipment, saving the engine making sure nothing bad would go our way. As soon as I got my tires, I knew that I could pull the field."

          

Kostecki said the team hopes to run five to six races this year in NASCAR's K&N Pro Series East.

          

Barnes said he "loved" Rockingham and wished the series could race more at the track.

 

"(We) had a pretty good battle going for a little while," Barnes said. "I guess they [Ronnie Newsome and Willie Reynes] got tied up in a little accident down there. It would have been a good race at the end."

 

Rockingham Speedway PR

Parker Kligerman and the No. 77 Camp Horsin' Around/Bandit Chippers Camry Racing team didn't have the best of nights in Friday's O'Reilly Auto Parts 300 at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, but in the end driver and crew scratched and clawed their way to a solid 12th-place finish. Kligerman battled an ill-handling Toyota for the majority of the 200-lap event, but a combination of chassis adjustments administered over the course of six pit stops improved the drivability of his Toyota in closing stages and the end-result allowed the talented youngster to move up two spots, to sixth, in the NASCAR Nationwide Series driver point standings.

 

"The Camp Horsin' Around/Bandit Chippers Camry was just wrecking-loose in the early stages, but we just grinded it out, had good pit stops and came out of it with a 12th-place finish," said Kligerman, who was making his second career Nationwide Series start at Texas. "We had a really good qualifying effort and came into the race optimistic that we had a great piece, so Eric (Phillips, crew chief) and I were just caught off guard.  It was so bad, that we thought we had something broken -- similar to the problem we had at Las Vegas, but it turned out not to be. I'm proud of the effort of this whole team -- we never gave up and it turned out to be a good points day. If we can take a day like this where we really had a 25th-place car at one point and get out of here almost in the top-10 -- that's what wins championships."

 

 

The No. 77 Camry took the green flag from the eighth position, but by the time the 10th lap completed had fallen to 15th as Kligerman communicated that he was "wrecking-loose." When a one-car spin brought out the first caution of the night on lap 24, the Kyle Busch Motorsports (KBM) entry was scored in the 18th position. Crew chief Eric Phillips summoned his driver down pit road, where the over-the-wall crew administered a four-tire and fuel stop and made a major track bar adjustment.

 

 

 

Kligerman took the lap-30 restart from the 30th position, but quickly moved back towards the top 20. Five laps into the run, the Connecticut native reported that his Toyota was still "extremely loose" and that he was feeling a vibration underneath him. Another one-car spin slowed the field for the second time on lap 40 and the Camp Horsin' Around/Bandit Chippers team took advantage of the caution to examine the underside of their car. After determining that there were no malfunctions visible, the team returned their driver to the track scored in the 29th spot for the restart on lap 49.

 

 

 

The No. 77 Toyota ran just outside the top 15 as the race progressed, with Phillips and crew making a variety of chassis and air pressure adjustments with each pit stop, hoping to hit on something that would give their driver more stability. Shortly after a four-tire stop on lap 121, Kligerman communicated that his Camry was beginning to come to life.

 

 

 

Over the course of the next 50 laps, the talented youngster began advancing forward and by the time the final caution of the race occurred on lap 167, he had made his way into the top 10 for the first time since the first lap. With a fresh set of Goodyear tires available, Kligerman came down pit road for the final time. The over-the-wall crew administered a four-tire and fuel stop and made an air pressure adjustment to try and give their driver more forward drive off the corners. He was scored in the 13th spot for the lap-171 restart and one lap later advanced to 12th, where he would remain for the final 28 laps. 

 

 

 

KBM owner Kyle Busch in his Joe Gibbs Racing Monster Energy machine became the first driver in Nationwide Series history to win four out of the first six races of the season. The win was his series-leading 55th career triumph, his track-record sixth in the Nationwide Series at Texas Motor Speedway and the 110th of his career in one of NASCAR's top three divisions. Reigning Sprint Cup Series champion Brad Keselowski finished 2.272 seconds behind Busch in the runner-up position. Austin Dillon, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Kevin Harvick rounded out the top-five finishers.

 

 

 

There were eight caution periods for 42 laps. Eleven drivers led a lap, exchanging the lead 22 times. Six drivers failed to finish the race.

 

KBM PR

 

Competing in the "Wild Asphalt Circus" at Texas Motor Speedway for the first time in his young career, Kyle Larson and his No. 32 Cessna team began the weekend with hopes to capitalize on recent  momentum. Rolling off from the 12th-starting spot, Larson maintained his track position through the first 40 laps of the NASCAR Nationwide Series (NNS) O'Reilly 300 before misfortune ended his hopes of a podium finish. An incident on lap 44 ultimately led to a blown left front tire, causing extensive damage and relegating Larson to a 32nd-place finish.

Utilizing the information they gained from a test session at Texas a week prior, the No. 32 Cessna team polished their race setup during the NNS practice sessions on Thursday and Friday. Following up his practice performance, Larson began the 200-lap race and quietly maintained his position just outside the top-10. Under the first caution on lap 25, crew chief Trent Owens brought his driver down pit road for four tires and adjustments to loosen up his Camaro. Just a few laps after taking the restart, Larson radioed to Owens and his crew that he was now too loose.

While trying to find a line that would help get him to the next pit stop, Larson went to the high line off of turn four, got loose and looped around on the frontstretch, but steered clear of any damage. Owens brought his young driver to pit road for right side tires, hoping to stay on the lead lap. However, when the Cessna Camaro returned to the track, the left front tire blew on the backstretch. The blown tire caused significant damage and Larson was forced to think quickly, wrestling the impaired Camaro between a safety vehicle and the inside wall.

The No. 32 Turner Scott Motorsports pit crew responded quickly, performing several pit stops over the next 10 laps to repair as much of the damage as they could on the Cessna Camaro. Making replacement pieces for the left front fender and mending the remainder of the damage, the crew was able to send Larson back into competition to finish the evening, despite being several laps behind the leader.

"I know we're going to have days like this, but I'm disappointed that it had to happen with the car we had today," Larson said. "I was really looking forward to Texas with the Cessna Camaro, especially after testing here. We had a great car in race trim during practice, we just got too loose on the second run and I couldn't hang onto it. Trent Owens and my Turner Scott Motorsports crew did a great job keeping us in the race by fixing all the damage, but I hate that I couldn't get a better finish to show for all of their work this weekend."

TSM PR

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