Saturday, Dec 02

Michael Annett and the No. 43 Pilot Travel Centers team finished 18th in Saturday's NASCAR Nationwide Series (NNS) race at Chicagoland Speedway. With few cautions early in the race, Annett went one lap down to the leaders early.  The team rallied the rest of the race to gain their lap back and crossed the finish line 18th.   


Annett started the 200-lap race from the 15th position, but he struggled with the handling of the No. 43 Ford from the beginning.  He reported to Crew Chief Philippe Lopez very early in the race that the car was tight. By the first caution on Lap 25, Annett was in the 20th position. He radioed that the car wasn't too far off, but that he couldn't get it to go anywhere in the middle of the corners. Lopez called for four tires, a trackbar and air pressure adjustments.  Annett restarted 24th on Lap 29.


The team was able to gain a few position over the long green flag run, but still battled with the handling of the Pilot Travel Centers Ford. The long run allowed the leaders to catch the field and Annett went one lap down on Lap 67. Lopez called the No. 43 Ford to pit road for a green flag pit stop on Lap 83. The Pilot Travel Centers crew changed four tires and made air pressure and wedge adjustments. Once green flag stops cycled through, Annett was running in the 21st position, one lap down.


With only 12 cars on the lead lap, the second caution of the day came on Lap 108. Annett reported that the handling of the car was similar to where they struggled in Atlanta and the No. 43 Ford was free in the corners. Lopez called for four tires, more air pressure and trackbar adjustments. Annett restarted 22nd on Lap 113.


Annett battled for the Lucky Dog position shortly after the restart, but was never able to catch the break he needed.  The No. 43 Ford was running in the 16th position, and about to make a pit stop, when the caution came for an accident in Turn Four on Lap 159. Annett came down pit road for four tires and a trackbar adjustment.  He restarted in the 17th position and again in the Lucky Dog spot on Lap 164.


A stroke of luck found the Pilot Travel Centers team when the caution came out just two laps after the restart, putting Annett back on the lead lap as the Lucky Dog. The No. 43 Ford stayed on the track and restarted in the same position, 17th, on Lap 170.


The caution flag waved two more times, but Lopez kept the No. 43 Pilot Travel Centers on the track. With the best set of tires left in the race already on the car, the cautions allowed Annett to gain some track position. He restarted 14th for the last restart of the race on Lap 187.


With 36 laps on his tires, Annett battled hard for track position until taking the checkered flag in the 18th position.


"We were hoping that our troubles in Atlanta wouldn't follow us to Chicago, but that seemed to be the case today. We've been trying some new set-ups and it's making it hard for us to get the response we need from the car during the race. We've got our short track program down, but we just need to get our mile-and-a-half program back to where it was last year. We're headed to another mile-and-a-half track next week too.  Hopefully we can use our notes from Atlanta and Chicago and work throughout the weekend to get the Pilot Flying J Ford a better finish next weekend." 


The NNS team at Richard Petty Motorsports will return to action at Kentucky Speedway on Saturday, September 21st. The Kentucky 300 will be televised live on ESPNNews.


About Richard Petty Motorsports:

A performance and marketing driven company, Richard Petty Motorsports, co-owned by NASCAR Hall of Famer Richard Petty and successful business entrepreneurs Andrew Murstein and Douglas Bergeron, is one of the most recognized brands in all of motorsports. With a history of over 200 wins and business partnerships with national and global leaders, today the race operation fields two teams in competition in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. Aric Almirola pilots the famous No. 43 Ford Fusion with primary partners Smithfield Foods, U.S. Air Force and STP and Marcos Ambrose drives the No. 9 machine with primary partners Stanley and DEWALT. In addition, Michael Annett wheels the No. 43 Pilot Flying J Ford Mustang full-time in the NASCAR Nationwide Series. The team is headquartered in Concord, N.C.

-Richard Petty Motorsports PR

Dale Earnhardt Jr. showed the way for JR Motorsports with a fifth-place finish in Saturday’s Dollar General 300 at Chicagoland Speedway. Sporting the Great Clips colors on the No. 88 Chevrolet, Earnhardt Jr. was a strong contender from the very beginning. After keeping sight of the leaders, the 88 team leveraged a two-tire pit stop to take the lead and pace the field for two laps, making Earnhardt Jr. one of only four leaders during the race. The team briefly slipped back to ninth before a tight condition dropped them even further to 13th. Over the course of the next pair of pit stops crew chief Steve Letarte made calls to help improve the handling on the Great Clips Chevrolet. Earnhardt Jr. used the adjustments to muscle back inside the top-10 by lap 121. The team fluctuated through several positions over the final 79 laps, but found themselves in seventh for the final restart. Earnhardt Jr. made a three-wide pass to climb to fifth and earned his third top-five finish in only four starts this season.

Regan Smith and the No. 7 Clean Coal team faced a race of adversity, and nearly overcame it, until a late-race spin after contact from the 31 car relegated them to a 13th-place finish. Early on, Smith patiently settled in and found a position among the top 10 by lap 35. When the 7 team attempted to hit pit road for a scheduled green-flag stop on lap 81, their pit box was blocked by a stalled competitor. As a result, Smith stayed on the track and the extra lap exhausted the car of fuel. Smith then coasted to pit lane, but not before giving up several positions. When he emerged back on the track, Smith was in 17th and down a lap. The team kept its poise and Smith earned the lap back under caution by way of a wave around. Once back to green-flag racing the 7 began a steady climb to the top 10, which was rooted in stellar restarts by Smith. On lap 183 and with Smith vying for the eighth position, the 31 of Justin Allgaier made contact with the outside wall off of turn two and shot directly into the side of the 7 car. The abrupt contact sent Smith spinning to the inside of the track. With minimal damage, the team hit pit road to change tires and Smith restarted in 18th. He managed to break back inside the top-15 and found the 13th position prior to the checkered flag.

A day of great promise turned to disappointment for Brad Sweet and the No. 5 team. Sweet was on pace for a top-five qualifying run when his car bottomed out severely dropping him to a 12th-place starting position. From the drop of the green flag, Sweet worked his way to as high as eighth early on. A four-tire change under the first caution gave Sweet fresh sticker tires that altered the car’s handling drastically, shifting the balance from slightly tight to wrecking loose on the race’s second stint. Sweet dropped to 16th and was a lap down by the race’s second caution at lap 107. Crew chief Mike Bumgarner elected to bring Sweet to pit road under the caution to make adjustments to improve the car’s handling instead of taking the risky wave around option that would have put the No. 5 back on the lead lap. Sweet could never recover his lost lap and dropped another lap down on an unfortunate caution flag during a cycle of green-flag pit stops at lap 158. By race’s end, Sweet found himself 20th.

Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver No. 88 Great Clips team
“That was a good learning experience for us for tomorrow. It didn’t really pay off the way we had hoped. The last half of the race was good for us. The Great Clips Chevrolet had great speed and we were able to crawl back up there and pass some guys. We had a lot of fun. The car had been real quick all weekend and I’m proud of my team.”

Regan Smith, driver No. 7 Clean Coal team
“Man, it was just a frustrating day for our Clean Coal team. We struggled from the beginning, but Greg and the guys kept after the car with adjustments on pit road. At times it was better, and sometimes it wasn’t. The car was pretty inconsistent for most of the day, which can really create problems. Still we were in position to land another top 10 but the 31 got into us and that pretty much ended our chances. The guys worked hard all weekend and we’ll move onto Kentucky and get things back on track there.”

Brad Sweet, driver No. 5 team
“I’m pretty disappointed with how our day ended up. We started off really strong then put on that first set of stickers (tires) and the car went way loose. That really threw off the rest of our day when we got a lap down. In hindsight, we probably should have taken the wave around but we tried to make our car better and race for the Lucky Dog there. Despite where we finished, we know how strong our car was and that’s a positive we can take out of here.”

-JR Motorsports PR

Matt Kenseth and his No. 18 GameStop/Afterglow team traveled to Chicagoland Speedway for Kenseth’s first Nationwide Series start at the 1.5-mile track since 2008. Kenseth began the race from 18th and was able to earn a seventh-place finish Saturday afternoon after fighting challenging handling conditions.

Kenseth rolled off 18th to start Saturday’s Dollar General 300. The GameStop/Afterglow Toyota was stuck in 17th back in traffic until the first caution came on lap 24 after the No. 87 spun. Kenseth radioed in to crew chief Matt Lucas that the No. 18 was loose in and then tight in and plowing through the center of the corners. Lucas called his driver into the pits for four tires, fuel, and a series of wedge adjustments. The stop set up Kenseth to restart 19th when the field returned to green on lap 29.

Over the course of the next run, Kenseth drove up to 13th but told his team that although the changes had helped to make the car a little better, the GameStop/Afterglow Toyota was still fighting the same problems it had earlier. Being tight in the center and off was the biggest challenge for Kenseth; his Toyota machine was getting tighter and tighter as the run went on.

Green-flag pit stops cycled through the field starting around lap 73. Lucas opted to pit on lap 82 for four tires, fuel, and another wedge adjustment. The changes were all targeted to help free up the middle and exit of the No. 18. A caution for debris came shortly after the stop and allowed the team to make one more series of adjustments under yellow on lap 110.

Kenseth set up to restart 11th after teams took varying strategies in the pits under the caution. After the the restart on lap 113, Kenseth made quick work of the field ahead of him and drove into third on lap 125. Despite holding on to a top-three position, Kenseth told his team that the GameStop/Afterglow Toyota started the runs loose in and off, then got tighter as the runs went on. A caution on lap 158 allowed the team the opportunity to pit for four tires, fuel, and a wedge adjustment.

The GameStop/Afterglow Toyota restarted fifth, but several cautions over the next 20 laps found Kenseth stuck three- and four-wide on restarts. The No. 18 was shuffled back to seventh, which is where Kenseth finished when the field took the checkered flag at the end of 200 laps.

Kenseth’s Joe Gibbs Racing teammate, Kyle Busch, took home the trophy Saturday earning the win in the Dollar General 300, while Joey Logano and Sam Hornish Jr. rounded out the top-three finishers.

-Kenseth's PR

JOILET, ILLINOIS :: Kyle Busch took the checkers Saturday afternoon in the NASCAR Nationwide Series after leading 195 laps of 200. Busch became the first driver to ever win from the pole at Chicagoland in the NASCAR Nationwide Series. Joey Logano in Penske's No. 22 was able to finish runner up 1.616 seconds behind leader Kyle Busch.

This win marked Kyle's 10th win of 2013 and his 61st career NASCAR Nationwide Series win in his 264th career start. This is Kyle's 17th top ten of 2013 in the No. 54 Toyota for Joe Gibbs. Kyle won yesterday's NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race and today's race allowing him to have a chance at sweeping Chicagoland. To complete the sweep he'd have to win the first race of the chase in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series tomorrow. This was Kyle's third win at Chicagoland in 10 career races.

Joey Logano notched his 5th top ten in just six starts at Chicagoland. Logano also added his top ten amount to 9 on the season. Logano's Penske teammate, Sam Hornish Jr. was able to knock off another top five with a 3rd place finish. This was Hornish's 5th top ten in five races at Chicagoland. Hornish now holds a 17 point advantage in the standings over Austin Dillion who finished 4th. 

Dale Earnhardt Jr. clocked in a 5th place finish in his No. 88 JR Motorsports Chevrolet. Earnhardt was working with his NASCAR Sprint Cup Series crew chief Steve Letarte as they prepare for tomorrow's first chase race. Brian Vickers who drives the No. 55 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series finished a solid 6th place for his Joe Gibbs Dollar General team.

Matt Kenseth who is the No. 1 seed heading into tomorrow's race finished 7th after a very quiet day. Parker Kligerman driving for Kyle Busch Motorsports ended up 8th after starting in the 5th position. Kligerman has had a very consistent season in that No. 77 Toyota. Kevin Harvick for Richard Childress finished 9th after a almost similar day to Matt Kenseth. Rounding out the top ten was Nelson Piquet Jr. in his Hooters No. 32 for Turner Scott Motorsports.

Regan Smith had a rough day finishing 13th after overcoming a sticky situation where he was one lap down, Justin Allgaier bounced off the wall and his Regan Smith sending his around down the backstretch. Luckily Smith had next to no damage and rebounded with less then 20 to go to finish his No. 7 inside the top fifteen. Elliott Sadler had a tough day as well after running in 11th he was trying to make a pit stop when the No. 24 of Brett Butler ran in the back of him as Sadler slowed to hit the pit road speed. Butler was 10 laps down at the time of the crash with Sadler. Elliott pushed to the end of the race with a lot of damage and finished 19th in his No. 11 Toyota. Sadler and Smith are now 20+ points behind points leader Sam Hornish.

With just 7 races left before we crown a champion in Homstead it looks as though it's a 2-man race between Hornish and Dillion. Next weekend the NASCAR Nationwide Seires heads back to Sparta, Kentucky for some more short track action.

STAFFORD —  Dan Avery had an emotional night Friday at Stafford Motor Speedway after holding off Joey Cipriano in the closing laps of the SK Modified 40-lap feature. It was the 58-year old’s first win at Stafford since May 21, 1982.

Avery took the lead from Cipriano on lap 30 and never looked back.

“What a great relief,” Avery said. “I knew it wouldn’t be easy. These guys are really tough. I knew it was never going to be easy, but I thought by now, especially this year, we finally got the car where it was really going good and we had several opportunities to win races and it just didn’t come our way. Tonight, finally. The last Friday night [of the season], it’s almost like storybook to finally pull it off.”

A Waterbury native, Cipirano was able to finish runner up behind Avery. NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour driver Ted Christopher would give them heat the entire race to come home fourth. Christopher, who’s the all time wins leader at Stafford was the first to congratulate Dan in victory lane. Ted and Dan became friends all the way back in the 1980′s while racing around the New England area.

Ryan Preece and Doug Coby were also in this event but finished well outside the top five.

Avery was a dominate force at Riverside before it closed down. After that Avery ran in the Modified Tour until 2004 when he decided to retire. 5 years later though Avery’s team was willing to get him back in competition. Now 4 years later he stands in victory lane at Stafford Motor Speedway.

“We were throwing ideas around,” Avery said. “Nothing was like the old Riverside days. It was the thing to do on a Saturday night and we just fell in love with what we were doing on Saturday nights. Once Riverside went away, that whole feeling was gone. We said, then, the next best thing is in our backyard, Friday nights at Stafford.”

Avery also explained in 2009 he started watching the Stafford races and then reconnected with Ted Christopher who encouraged him to get back racing.

“Teddy saw me walking around the pits and looking at cars and we were talking and he said ‘What are you doing here?’” Avery said. “I said ‘We’re thinking about getting back into it.’ He said ‘Before you do anything, come down to my shop, I’ve got a whole bunch of cars.’

From the 1980′s when he was young kid racing to now 58 years old, Dan Avery is a winner.


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