Friday, Oct 07
Speedway Digest Staff

Speedway Digest Staff

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Michael McDowell is proud to have a new Dallas-based sponsor onboard his car this week at Texas Motor Speedway. EchoLight Studios' movie HOOVEY serves as primary sponsor on McDowell's No. 00 Toyota Camry fielded by SR2 Motorsports in Friday's O'Reilly Auto Parts 300.

HOOVEY is the title of a movie inspired by the true story of Eric "Hoovey" Elliott', who when faced with a possible terminal illness, beats the odds to fulfill his dream of playing college basketball. His family pulls together in faith and love to prove that anything is possible. Directing the film is award-winning filmmaker Sean McNamara who directed Soul Surfer, the true life story of Bethany Hamilton. The movie is based on the book, "Rebounding From Death's Door", written by Jeff Elliott.

Spearheading the movie is Dallas based EchoLight Studios, a producer and distributor of high-quality movies for families of faith.

"We believe that as we make and deliver movies that shine His light, the impact will reverberate for generations," says Bobby Downes, president of EchoLight Studios. EchoLight has a full film distribution platform servicing theatrical, home video, digital/VOD and broadcast in both US domestic and international markets.

"I'm really excited about having HOOVEY on my car this week at Texas," McDowell said. "It's such an amazing and inspiring story. I think it will really resonate with NASCAR fans. EchoLight Studios has produced some great films and HOOVEY will be no different."

"I'm so proud to be part of this winning team bringing Michael McDowell and HOOVEY together through EchoLight Studios and Support Military Foundation" says Christopher Morrow, Chief Global Strategist of EchoLight. "Michael clearly showed his faith when he gave credit to God after walking away from a horrendous wreck while driving the 00 car in April, 2008 at Texas Motor Speedway, and he continues to inspire fans around the country with his motivational speaking and his daily walk of Faith," adds Morrow.

McDowell has five previous Nationwide Series starts at Texas. He's scored two top-20s and has a best finish of 17th place, which he scored achieved in 2009.

SR2 Motorsports PR

Hunt Brothers® Pizza launches two auto racing themed contests this week to engage its fans and primary partnership with Richard Childress Racing (RCR).

The RCR Fan Experience Sweepstakes began April 8 and ends June 13, 2013 and offers approximately $15,000 in prizes, including the grand prize of a trip for two to the races in Charlotte, N.C., during the weekend of October 11 and 12, 2013. This prize package includes four nights lodging, airfare, admission to the races, a tour of the award-winning Childress Vineyards, RCR race shops and museum, admission to the NASCAR Hall of Fame and a meet-and-greet with at least one RCR driver. To enter, simply visit

The contests will launch just days before Hunt Brother Pizza’s first race of the season as the primary sponsor of the No. 33 RCR Chevrolet Camaro with driver Kevin Harvick. The new Hunt Brothers Pizza paint scheme will make its debut at Texas Motor Speedway on April 12, 2013.

Hunt Brothers Pizza is also launching the Race for the Checkered Flag Fantasy Experience Facebook application. The contest will follow a “fantasy sports” model, where throughout the course of the contest, participants will have the opportunity to predict weekly finishes for the three Hunt Brothers Pizza and RCR drivers: Harvick, Austin Dillon and Ty Dillon. Weekly prizes will be given away, including experience packages and racing collectibles with a total value of $13,000. To play, visit The application was developed with students from Vanderbilt University’s Owen Graduate School of Management.

Hunt Brothers PR

Records crumbled, numbers skyrocketed and emotions flared during the Gen-6 race car’s debut on the first two intermediate tracks on the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series schedule – Las Vegas Motor Speedway and Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif. And according to those who spoke today, expect more of the same during Saturday night’s race at the 1.5-mile Texas Motor Speedway.

On Thursday, drivers tested the Gen-6 car at Texas Motor Speedway in preparation for the third intermediate installment, set for Saturday night (7:30 p.m. ET on FOX, FOX Deportes, Motor Racing Network Radio, SiriusXM Satellite Radio). Kurt Busch, a 2009 Texas winner, turned the fastest lap in the first session at 191.225 mph. Greg Biffle, a two-time winner at Texas, was fastest in the second session (192.864 mph).

“I honestly think we've had some of the best racing we've had in a decade,” said Robin Pemberton, NASCAR vice president of competition, during the break between the two two-hour long test sessions. “I mean, they're really hard racing. …Vegas was an outstanding race. Best race we've had there. [Auto Club] Speedway, best race we've had there. It was an opportunity for us to start over in many ways, shapes or forms because we had everyone working together, so everyone started at a higher level when we handed this car off, very different than what we've done in the last decade.”

A well-worn Texas racing surface, combined with previous intermediate track performances of the Gen-6 Chevrolet SS, Toyota Camry and Ford Fusion, had driver’s predicting a similar race to those held at Las Vegas and Auto Club Speedway. There were a track-record 31 green flag passes for the lead at Las Vegas, and a record-matching 41 at Auto Club Speedway.

“The car's definitely been different than we expected at some places and they put on a good race at the big tracks where we thought passing was going to be more difficult than we had last year,” said Martin Truex Jr., driver of the No. 56 NAPA Auto Parts Toyota. “So far so good and hopefully it will be more of the same this weekend."

Biffle and Paul Menard both currently reside in the top 10 in series points, and both have had success at Texas. Biffle won last year’s spring race, and Menard collected one of his seven career top fives at Texas in 2011.

“The last time I drove this car was last year here and it has come so far since then,” said Biffle, driver of the No. 16 3M Ford. “It was definitely a handful then to drive and now the first few laps on the race track it has a lot of grip and is really fun to drive. You know, it is the same old Texas. We are sliding and a little loose and then tight and it is going to be a fun race.”

“So far, so good,” said Menard, driver of the No. 27 Quaker State / Menards Chevrolet. “We put a big emphasis on just making sure we unload good today and do all the right things with preparation to unload good. It’s hard if you’re looking for a half a second, it’s hard to make that up. But right now we’re just looking for a couple tenths. I feel good about how our speed is. We’ve got a lot of things left to try for these couple of hours in the afternoon session and try to get a little bit better.”


Todd Bodine has a winning history at Rockingham Speedway and with his first two races this season with ThorSport Racing giving him the anticipation that a victory is right around the next left-hand turn, Bodine's got a good feeling about Sunday's NASCAR Camping World Truck Series' second annual Carolina Education Lottery 200 at The Rock presented by Cheerwine.


Bodine has 35 career starts at Rockingham across NASCAR's three national tours, with two Busch Series wins, the predecessor of the Nationwide Series, in 1995 and 2001, 11 top-10 starts and 13 top-10 finishes.


As if that experience with Rockingham's notoriously abrasive track surface wasn't important enough, Bodine has the more recent experience of tire strategy and management at Martinsville last weekend -- when crew chief Jeriod Prince hatched a masterful plan to put Bodine in position to take advantage of fresh rubber on his No. 13 SealMaster Toyota with about 30 laps to go.


The strategy would've worked if Kevin Harvick hadn't spun Bodine out of his way going into Turn 3 in the race's late stages. Even with that, Prince had to put a set of well-used tires on Bodine's Tundra and Bodine drove it back into 11th place by the finish.


"Rockingham's a different animal than Martinsville," Bodine said. "But Rockingham does eat up tires and it's wore out. Tire management is critical and I think experience means a lot. If we can get a good truck, experience will come to the top. We've just got to be smart, use our heads and not get in trouble."


Prince and Bodine excelled at that in Martinsville. After struggling to find a balance in their truck during practice, and even in qualifying when Bodine timed-in in the 23rd spot, they kept working and had a great set-up for the race.


At Rockingham, teams will have two-and-a-half hours of practice on Saturday, from noon to 1:30 ET and then from 3 to 4 p.m.


"Your plan is the same as it usually is at any racetrack," Bodine said. "You've just got to get a balance and then work on old tires and longevity and balance on tire runs -- and work out your tire wear and everything that goes with it. That's what you work on."


Qualifying is set for 11:05 a.m. Sunday -- less than three hours before the race. Before he goes anywhere near the place, Bodine knows what he and his crew need to accomplish.


"Track position and good tires is what you really want to have when it comes down to making something happen at the end of the race at Rockingham," Bodine said. "You've got to be toward the front with a good truck and put yourself in a position to take advantage of that track position.


"Depending on how long that last run's going to be, it might come down to tire management. You can burn the tires off the truck in the first 10 laps and not have anything left or you can let those other guys run hard for 10 or 20 laps and then go after it.


"So there's two ways to do it, and what you do kind of depends on whatever situation you're in."


And Bodine's hoping that experience he has at the high-banked one-mile oval in the North Carolina sand hills looks on him favorably once again.


"I've always enjoyed Rockingham," Bodine said. "I've been fortunate enough to win twice there in the Nationwide Series. I've always enjoyed it, and I ran good there with the Cup car. Last year with the truck we struggled really bad (31st-place finish), but we found out what was wrong and I'm looking forward to going back with a new team and the right set-up and doing better."


That leads to Bodine's blossoming relationship with Prince and his crew. Perhaps the most positive thing about Bodine's first two races with ThorSport is that, after two races in which circumstances largely out of his control cost Bodine better finishes than he deserved, he's still seventh in the championship, behind his leading teammates Johnny Sauter and third-place Matt Crafton.


"That's very positive, there's no doubt about that," Bodine said. "To be able to have a new team that you've never worked with and to do as well as we've done... I'm a realist -- I don't just look at the finish, I look at the performance.


"And the performance indicates we could have won both races (Daytona and Martinsville). To me that speaks volumes for the team and for what Jeriod's doing."


ThorSport PR

Empire Racing and marketing partner Croftgate USA’s Frankie Defeo have teamed up to help promote educational partner Central Piedmont Community College 50th
anniversary and the CPCC Car Show and Open house by bringing the Restore-Recover-Renew (R3) Tour ride along truck to the show. Interns from CPCC’s Motorsports program helped to design and fabricate the one of a kind, handicap accessible truck for the R3 Tour that led the way to the team’s travel to a 5th place finish at Daytona in the Lucas Oil 200 in February.

The CPCC Motorsports Show will be held on April 20th at the Merancas Campus from 8 am until 2 pm. The Car Show is free for spectators to come and enjoy live
music, food, car safety tips, and more as they view the cars and tour the campus. Registration for show participants is $25 and begins at 8 am. Award ceremonies for each class will begin at 1 pm.

Croftgate USA’s Frankie Defeo will be in attendance to meet and greet fans at the show. His high energy and engaging demonstrations of Croftgate USA products in person and online have produced legions of fans.

Empire Racing PR

Advanced Technology International® (ATI), the leading manufacturer in gun stocks and firearm accessories, announced Tuesday that it will be Joe Nemechek’s primary sponsor under the lights at Texas Motor Speedway this Saturday for the NASCAR Sprint Cup NRA 500, with coverage starting live on FOX at 7PM ET.

Nemechek’s #87 NEMCO-JRR Racing Toyota will be wrapped in a black and red ATI paint scheme that features unique design elements taken from ATI’s trademark branding.

“ATI is extremely excited to be a first-time Sprint Cup Series Sponsor,” said Director of Business Development Jon Shaffer. “We thought there would be no better place to enter this sport than at the Texas Motor Speedway just a few short weeks before the NRA Annual Meeting comes to Texas.”

Shaffer later added that partnering with NEMCO-JRR Racing and a NASCAR icon like “Front Row Joe” is a great opportunity while leaving the door open to future involvement in the series.

With the NRA as the new title sponsor of the 500 mile Texas race, as well as the 2013 NRA Annual Meetings and Exhibits being held in nearby Houston, the fit seemed natural for ATI.

The National Rifle Association was announced as the title sponsor of the April 13th NRA 500 race at Texas Motor Speedway earlier this year. Sprint Cup Veteran Joe Nemechek and driver of the #87 NEMCO-JRR Toyota stated; “I am very glad to have them aboard as our primary partner and I look forward to continuing a partnership with them in the future. That #87 ATI paint scheme looks extremely sharp and I am excited that our Team is flying the ATI colors this weekend.”

ATI Gun Stocks PR

NASCAR's Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Travis Pastrana and James Buescher, along with INDYCAR's James Hinchcliffe, recently donned their firesuits and battled side by side on the high banks of Texas Motor Speedway, but there were no cars involved in this instance.

 Just a basketball and an inviting silver trophy proclaiming the "Dude Perfect Motorsports Trick Shot" champion.


Dude Perfect, the trick-shot basketball artists and social media sensations, enlisted the help of four drivers from four different premier racing series during Texas Motor Speedway's Media Day in early March to produce the third and final video installment from the speedway -- "NASCAR Trick-Shot Battle." The video was released Thursday and is available on Dude Perfect's YouTube channel, 


 Stenhouse Jr. of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, Pastrana of the Nationwide Series, Buescher of the Camping World Truck Series and Hinchcliffe of the IZOD IndyCar Series received some guidance from the Dude Perfect team and then competed against each other on three designated trick shots with hopes of being crowned the champion.


All four made at least one of the trick shots, but it was Stenhouse Jr. who broke a four-way tie with an over-the-head shot with his back to the basket from the top of the 24-degree banking between Turns 1 & 2 into the hoop below. 


"It felt really good to beat these guys," Stenhouse Jr. said. "It was a close battle and it came down to the last shot. I'm no Dude Perfect, but hopefully I can play with them some more. They do a lot of cool stuff."


Dude Perfect attracted nearly two million views on the first two videos released from Texas Motor Speedway.


"It was truly a pleasure to have Dude Perfect use Texas Motor Speedway as their basketball playground for these videos," Texas Motor Speedway Vice President of Media Relations Mike Zizzo said. "It was amazing to see their creativity and ability to make some stunning shots in those videos. It was equally entertaining to watch Ricky, Travis and the two James' have some fun and battle it out for the motorsports title. That trophy will fit nicely between Ricky's two Nationwide Series championship trophies."


Dude Perfect's first TMS video was the New Year's Eve Ball Drop that went live Dec. 31 to ring in 2013. It featured Tyler Toney sinking a basket from the top of the nine-story Speedway Club building.  For the second feature, the group enlisted the video expertise of Devin Super Tramp, whose YouTube channel is nearing 200 million views. "Insane Trick Shots- Supertramp style with Dude Perfect" was highlighted by Toney making a shot from the roof on the top of the luxury suites into a basketball goal suspended in the air by weather balloons high above the track.  


"One of our favorite things about Dude Perfect is meeting new people, and the drivers we worked with for this video are some of our favorite athletes ever," said Coby Cotton, one of the five Texas A&M graduates who make up Dude Perfect. "They are just a bunch of fun-loving competitors like us and watching them out of their element was hilarious. We'll certainly be pulling for them this racing season!" 


The five-man team consisting of Texas A&M graduates Coby Cotton, Cory Cotton, Cody Jones, Garrett Hilbert and Tyler Toney began making videos of incredible basketball shots at various venues during final exams in April of 2009. Today, they have more than 872,000 subscribers and 116 million views across their online content. Dude Perfect has worked with numerous organizations, venues and sports stars such as reigning Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel of Texas A&M and the U.S. Olympic team.



TrackingPoint™, creator of the world's first Precision Guided Firearm (PGF) system, today announced it has become primary sponsor of Leavine Family Racing's No. 95 TrackingPoint Ford at this year's NASCAR NRA 500, taking place Saturday, April 13 at the Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth. Driven by veteran Scott Speed, the No. 95 car will compete in a race that is expected to generate some of the fastest speeds of the Sprint Cup Series season.

Leavine Family Racing (LFR), headquartered in Tyler, Texas and owned by Bob and Sharon Leavine, has participated in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series since 2011. The 2013 NRA 500 marks the two-year anniversary of where it began for the team, having raced in the Samsung Mobile 500 at the Texas Motor Speedway on April 9, 2011.

"Leavine Family Racing welcomes TrackingPoint as a first-time sponsor for us," Bob Leavine said. "This sponsorship supports a Texas race team. We want to raise awareness of Texas as a high-tech business state that supports not only NASCAR but top-tier and responsible firearm production."

"TrackingPoint is proud to sponsor Scott Speed in the No. 95 TrackingPoint Ford for the NRA 500," said Jason Schauble, president of TrackingPoint. "As a Texas-based applied technology company that manufactures Precision Guided Firearms with cutting-edge jet fighter 'lock and launch' technology, the NRA 500 and NASCAR are perfect partners for us, given their reputations as the leaders in Second Amendment protection and performance racing, respectively. We wish Scott and the LFR team the best of luck."

No. 95 driver Scott Speed joined the NASCAR circuit in 2008. He scored his first career Top 10 finish in NASCAR in just his second race, and won Rookie of the Race honors at the Daytona 500 in 2009. Formerly a Formula 1 driver, Speed competed in the 2006 Bahrain Grand Prix, becoming the first American to race in F1 since Michael Andretti in 1993.

"We have a lot of great partners for our trip to Texas," Speed said. "It's important for us to make the experience memorable for all of them. We always bring our best car and our best strategy to every race, but we all put a little extra effort into Texas. The best way to show our appreciation is with a solid, lead-lap finish."

The NRA 500 is the seventh stop in the 2013 Sprint Cup Series. The nighttime race was won last year by Greg Biffle with an average speed of 160.577 mph, a race record. Texas Motor Speedway features a grandstand capacity of over 122,000, and total estimated capacity of over 191,000.

The NRA 500 will be broadcast live on FOX, Saturday, April 13 at 7:30 PM EDT.

Tracking Point PR

ThorSport Racing driver Johnny Sauter is on the cusp of creating NASCAR history Sunday at Rockingham Speedway. So setting aside the passion that Sauter brings to every second he's practicing his craft, as he prepares to attempt to win his third consecutive NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race to begin this season -- he's just Johnny being Johnny.


And that's a driver that's committed, focused and living in a real world in which effort is usually rewarded with results. That's why Sauter and his veteran crew chief, Joe Shear Jr., are basically dismissing their No. 98 Carolina Nut Co. / Curb Records Toyota's wins at Daytona and Martinsville and looking only at this weekend.


And if he's able to win, Sauter will become the first driver in any NASCAR national touring series to win the first three races of the season. Sauter's currently tied with Mark Martin, who previously won two in 2006 in the Truck Series, Tony Stewart and Chad Little accomplished it in Nationwide and Jeff Gordon and Matt Kenseth did it in Cup.


Sauter finished fourth in the inaugural Carolina Education Lottery 200 at The Rock presented by Cheerwine last year and, per his pre-season prediction, knows his team can challenge again. But that's based off what they'll bring to the game this weekend -- and so far this season that's been stout.


"I don't wholeheartedly believe in momentum -- no," Sauter said at Martinsville. "I believe in if everybody gives 100 percent and you do everything right, it pays off. That's what I believe, anyways. Luck is luck and momentum is momentum -- and people talk about it...


"But we just do what we do, give 100 percent and that's all we can do."


In recent memory that's been plenty good, particularly in 2013. After Sauter lost the 2011 Truck Series championship to Austin Dillon by six points, 2012 was an atypically rocky stretch that in part was precipitated by a manufacturer switch. Sauter and Shear have their Toyota Tundras in full effect now.


"I have all the confidence in the world in Joe and everybody at ThorSport," Sauter said. "When we get to the racetrack we typically unload pretty good and only make the truck better from there."


Rockingham more than likely will provide the second consecutive week of challenging tire wear. Rockingham's abrasive surface is legendary for creating havoc with teams' tire strategies, but when that unexpectedly cropped up at Martinsville Sauter and his ThorSport teammate Matt Crafton dealt with it perfectly and scored the company's third career one-two finish. If their third teammate, Todd Bodine, hadn't been spun out by Kevin Harvick late in the race, they might've gone one-two-three.


"I don't know what we learned about tires at Martinsville that we might apply this weekend, because Rockingham's a whole different animal because of the banking and the size of the racetrack," Sauter said. "Tire wear is tire wear but Martinsville probably got the drivers in the right frame of mind, to be conservative on tires or whatever we need to do at Rockingham.


"So yes, it helps the drivers to prepare for the mindset you have to have to conserve tires, but as far as set-ups and all that stuff goes, I don't really think you can take anything from Martinsville to Rockingham."


Except maybe the winning feeling that Sauter and company have had plenty of, so far in 2013.


"This is great to start the year off with two in a row and I couldn't be prouder of everybody at ThorSport, (general manager) David Pepper, Duke and Rhonda Thorson and all the people keeping the place going," Sauter said. "We still have 20 races left and there's a lot that can happen.


"We just need to keep it all in focus and take it all in stride and go to Rockingham where we finished fourth a year ago and go to Kansas (next weekend) where we've won in the past. It's a lot of good racetracks coming up for us -- we just have to keep everybody grounded and keep everybody hungry."


The season's third race, on the one-mile high-banked oval in the North Carolina sand hills, gets the green flag at 2 p.m. ET Sunday. Live television begins at 1:30 p.m. with "The Set-up" pre-race show on SPEED Channel, followed by the race broadcast. MRN Radio has live coverage, also beginning at 1:30 p.m.


Thorsport PR

For a race-winning NASCAR Camping World Truck Series driver and a former NASCAR touring division champion, Matt Crafton is about as low-key as you can get -- when he's outside the race vehicle...


But when he takes the green flag at Rockingham (N.C.) Speedway for Sunday's NCWTS Carolina Education Lottery 200 at The Rock presented by Cheerwine, Crafton will take sole possession of the Truck Series' all-time record for consecutive starts, with 297.


And you can believe that has him more excited as the clock ticks toward the moment he'll fire-up his No. 88 Ideal Door / Menards Toyota.


"It's awesome and I'm definitely pumped-up to do it," said Crafton, who back during Speedweeks at Daytona said he'd only thought about the record 'a couple times.' "But believe me, it's something that's very cool, to be able to say that I'm in there, among that group of record holders in the Camping World Truck Series."


The ironic thing is that Crafton actually replaced the man he's surpassing this weekend for the Truck Series' consecutive starts streak, Terry Cook. Cook made 93 consecutive starts as ThorSport Racing's inaugural driver before Crafton jumped into the No. 88 for the final race of the 2000 season. Crafton's gone on to make 296 consecutive starts, all of them for ThorSport with the exception of the 25-race 2004 season, when Crafton raced at KHI.


"The coolest thing, obviously is to thank (owners) Duke and Rhonda Thorson for always believing in me," Crafton said, "They've stuck with me and have been so loyal to me, giving me the opportunity to be there for all those races, and to have the equipment and the team behind me to have the shot to own this record, outright.


"And in this business, that means way more to me, at the end of the day. And don't forget that this season is Menards' 11th season with me, and I can't even begin to tell you how proud I've been to represent them, and how enjoyable that's been."


And that brings Crafton to this week, when his team led by crew chief Carl "Junior" Joiner hits Rockingham a solid third in the championship standings, coming off ThorSport's third one-two finish of its career, last weekend at Martinsville.


Johnny Sauter and Crafton have finished in that order in each of those one-twos, and despite the opportunity Sauter has to create a piece of outright NASCAR history if he's able to win his third consecutive Truck Series race to start this season, Crafton's only focused on breaking his own 38-race winless streak.


"I don't believe in momentum, but Rockingham is an awesome place, it's gonna be a darned good race and I'm looking forward to going there," Crafton said. "We had a very, very good truck there, last year and if we can just keep all this momentum going, we're going to be fine.


"I know I had a blast there last year and it's one I've had circled on my calendar and I'm pumped to get there."


A year ago, Crafton started eighth and led 40 of the 200 laps before finishing third, behind visiting Sprint Cup driver Kasey Kahne and defending Truck Series champion James Buescher. At The Rock a year ago, Sauter finished right behind Crafton, who feels like the Martinsville race, in which tire management became a key, could've been decent preparation for Rockingham's abrasive surface.


"I feel like Martinsville was a great test session for Rockingham -- exactly," Crafton said. "I feel like Rockingham will be very similar to Martinsville. You'll be able to go hard at the beginning of a run, but then you'll pay for it at the end of the run... Or you can go easy, take care of your stuff and be there at the end of a run."


That's the exact strategy Crafton and Joiner used last weekend to finish second to Sauter. Their third teammate, Todd Bodine in the No. 13 SealMaster Toyota, almost made it a historic ThorSport one-two-three before Kevin Harvick spun him out of a sure top-10 run late in the race.


The season's third race, on the one-mile high-banked oval in the North Carolina sand hills, gets the green flag at 2 p.m. ET Sunday. Live television begins at 1:30 p.m. with "The Set-up" pre-race show on SPEED Channel, followed by the race broadcast. MRN Radio has live coverage, also beginning at 1:30 p.m.


Thorsport PR


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