Speedway Digest Staff
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With the Sprint Cup Series' two races at Pocono Raceway scheduled so close together, it makes for easy comparing and contrasting. David Gilliland and his No. 38 Long John Silver's team still have fresh in their minds what worked and what didn't when the team visited the Long Pond, Pa., track just eight weeks ago.
The team earned a 24th-place finish during its first visit to the 2.5-mile triangular track this season. Trial and error helped the crew to learn what works well for the Gen-6 car on the unique track - and what doesn't. Rained-out practice and qualifying sessions shortened the teams' time on track during that race weekend, though. They'll look forward to more prep time for this weekend's GoBowling.com 400.
The event will be Gilliland's 15th Sprint Cup Series start at Pocono. He has four straight top-25 finishes over the past two years. His best career finish was 16th (2008).
Comments from Long John Silver's team driver David Gilliland heading to Pocono:
"Pocono is starting to get a little bit of the bumps back since the repave, especially down there in Turn 1, it seems like. We definitely learned a lot when we were there a few weeks back. We didn't run as well as we would've liked, but we also missed out on some practice time due to the rain. We also tried some new stuff to see how it would work, and so maybe we ruled some things out for what to go back with.
"The track still has a lot of grip. It's a fun racetrack and a very unique place - different than anywhere else we go to. You'll always have the challenge of trying to make one corner work best for you and then kind of working backwards from there.
"I like to focus on Turn 3, getting a good run off that corner exit and getting some power down the straightaway. One thing we all know for sure is you're not going to be happy in all three corners. That's just the way it is. And that's why it's so unique."
The Childress Institute for Pediatric Trauma celebrated its fifth anniversary with a visit by NASCAR team owner Richard Childress to Riley Hospital for Children at Indiana University Health in Indianapolis, Ind. on July 25. Childress and his wife Judy established the Institute in 2008 to help save the lives of injured children across the U.S. by supporting research, education and awareness.
"When Judy and I learned that critical injury was responsible for the death of more children in the U.S. than all other causes combined, and how little attention this crisis was receiving nationally, we knew those kids needed a champion," said Childress, president and CEO of Richard Childress Racing and co-founder of the Childress Institute for Pediatric Trauma. "The more awareness and support we raise, the more lives we will save."
Since its inception, the Childress Institute has made significant strides in improving the treatment of injured children in the U.S. An encouraging sign is the decrease of national childhood deaths from 2005 to 2010 from 12,388 to 9,523*.
"The Childress Institute is proud of the role we have played to increase awareness of pediatric trauma and to advocate for better medical treatment for these kids, not just in our own backyard, but in every community in the country," said Dr. J. Wayne Meredith, the Institute's executive director and chair of general surgery and director of the division of surgical sciences at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center.
Recent milestones include:
- Partnered with the Pediatric Trauma Society (PTS) to co-host a national pediatric trauma conference to begin work on a 10-year plan for advancing research, treatment and education
- Funded nearly $500,000 of research to improve the assessment and treatment of injured children, including the KIDS study to examine youth football head impacts
- Engaged national leaders in pediatric trauma clinical care to host web symposiums that taught innovative treatments and procedures for injured children to health care professionals around the world
- Invested more than $250,000 in the past two years to fund training courses for first responders, physicians, nurses and other health care professionals
The Childress Institute's goal is to lead national efforts to reduce death and disability following injury to children less than 18 years of age. It is dedicated to improving outcomes for critically-injured children across the U.S. by investing resources in research, education and awareness. The Institute helps injured kids get the best care, when they need it the most.
After earning an 11th place finish at Indianapolis Motor Speedway last year, Bliss was hopeful for another positive outing at the 2nd Annual Indiana 250 on Saturday. Starting 21st, Bliss and his Tweaker Energy Shot team worked feverishly to massage a tight handling car. Unfortunately, a turn for the worst occurred when Bliss Bliss was forced to pull his No. 19 Camry behind the wall resulting in a 36th place finish.
However, just shy of the half-way mark in the 100 lap event, Bliss began experiencing mechanical issues while battling in the 18th position. Easing his Toyota down pit road, Bliss pulled his Tweaker Energy Shot Camry into the garage area for further diagnosis. Deciding the car was no longer able to race, Bliss sat out the final laps of the Indiana 250 to finish 36th.
"I think we had a top-15 car and we just encountered a case of bad luck," said Bliss. "We were on course to balancing out the conditions of our car, when the unexpected happened. I greatly appreciate the support of Tweaker Energy Shot this past weekend and I wish we could have earned them a better finish."
Bliss remains 13th in the NASCAR Nationwide Series Driver Point Standings. Bliss and his team will now wipe their slate clean and concentrate on Saturday's US Cellular 250 at Iowa Speedway.
Cole Whitt was back behind the wheel of the No. 44 Takagi Tankless Water Heaters Camry Saturday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. After a two week hiatus, Whitt quickly got back in the groove as he took to the historical 2.5-mile track for the 2nd Annual Indiana 250. Whitt started the event 22nd and was quick to gain positions during the 250-mile race. Battling as high as 15th, Whitt raced hard in the final laps finishing 17th.
"I can't thank my sponsor Takagi enough for their support this past weekend," said Whitt. "Track position at Indy is very important; once we found a balance in the race car it was too late to make up many positions."
Saturday afternoon's NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway was the seventh race for Whitt with TriStar Motorsports. Whitt's 17th place finish helped boost the No. 44 team one spot to the 20th position in the NASCAR Nationwide Series Owner Points Standings. This weekend Whitt will make his fourth series start at Iowa Speedway for Saturday's US Cellular 250.
For the last nine years, Casey Mears has held the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series track qualifying record at Indianapolis, while his uncle Rick boasts four Indianapolis 500 wins at the famed racing facility. The heart of Indiana is a special place for the famous racing family, which always leaves the younger Mears excited to make his arrival.
Casey Mears got to work early this week, when on Thursday he made an appearance at a newly opened GEICO office in the Indianapolis area. He spent time visiting with associates, signing autographs and taking photos. He got down to business a day later when he arrived at Indianapolis Motor Speedway for practice and qualifying.
Mears first practice session on Friday was tough, as he ended up 31st on the board. Fortunately, Saturday brought better news when the #13 GEICO Ford Fusion rested 21st at the end of the weekend’s final practice session. Mears would later qualify 30th for Sunday’s race after circling the 2.5-mile racetrack in 48.979-seconds.
Bright sunshine and temperatures in the 70’s set the scene for Sunday’s 400-mile race at the Brickyard. Mears rolled off 30th and quickly made up ground, moving into the 26th position by lap six. At a track where passing is at a premium, coupled with the fact that only three caution flags were displayed throughout the entire 160-lap race, Mears would find his day frustrating. Long green flag runs left little time to make adjustments to the #13 GEICO Ford Fusion and track position was tough to achieve.
On lap 54, Mears was sitting 13th in the Lucky Dog position, but after no yellow flag showed up, he was forced to visit pit road for a scheduled green flag pit stop. It seemed as though good fortune may have found him when the caution flag came out just after Mears and his GEICO Ford exited pit road. Crew chief Bootie Barker instructed him to take the wave-around, which would allow Mears to return to the lead lap. Unfortunately, leader Jimmie Johnson elected to stay out and not visit pit road under the caution, which would ultimately preclude Mears from taking the wave-around.
When the day came to a close, Mears finished 27th, just behind the Fords of Greg Biffle and Ricky Stenhouse, Jr., but one spot ahead of the #21 Motorcraft Ford of Trevor Bayne.
“It was a challenging day and the long green flag runs and lack of cautions made it tough on everyone. It’s also hard to pass here, which didn’t help,” Mears said after climbing from his #13 GEICO Ford Fusion. “We have a great group of guys on this GEICO team and we’ll be ready for Pocono. Long day here today and we’re ready to move on to the next race.”
Mears and the Germain Racing team will now travel to Long Pond, PA, for race number 21 of the 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season.
It was a contrast worthy of Charles Dickens.
This historic week in NASCAR racing truly was a tale of two cities -- or, more accurately, a tale of one city in the middle of Indiana and one whistle-stop town in the middle of nowhere.
It was a tale of Indianapolis, the state capital, home to upscale hotels and restaurants of renown.
It was a tale of Rossburg, Ohio, where, if you want a place to sleep, you drive it there, and if you want food to eat, you bring it.
It was a tale of two speedways. It was a tale of the Brickyard, a 2.5-mile colossus where every crevice in the well-worn asphalt oozes history.
It was a tale of Eldora, an alien footprint in the corn country of northwestern Ohio, a half-mile oval -- smaller than Bristol, smaller than Martinsville -- that each year crowns the royalty of dirt-track racing.
Amid the striking contrasts, though, were common threads. First, and most obvious, NASCAR raced on both.
Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway marked the 20th renewal of one of NASCAR's most prestigious races, the continuation of an experiment that has become an institution.
Wednesday night's NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Eldora, which has its own storied history, was an experiment, too. For the first time in 43 years, one of NASCAR's national series raced on dirt.
For the first time in almost two decades, one of NASCAR's national series raced on bias ply tires, which had been phased out in favor of radials by the mid-1990s.
It took courage to try something that far out of the box -- courage on the part of the sanctioning body and courage on the part of track owner Tony Stewart, who risked sullying Eldora's reputation if the event didn't come off as envisioned.
To the credit of all who worked tirelessly to stage the Inaugural Mudsummer Classic, the race, which played to a packed house, was an unqualified success. Whether it was Norm Benning stalwartly refusing to give up the final transfer spot in the last-chance heat or Kyle Larson using up the left side of Ryan Newman's truck in the main event, the drama was palpable.
It worked, and in doing so, threw temptation at the feet of those who reveled in the first blush of dirt-track racing success.
"It would be fun to go to some of the fairgrounds race tracks, the mile race tracks, Springfield, DuQuoin (both in Illinois), Indy Fairgrounds, places like that," said Newman, who figured prominently at both speedways, winning Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup race at the Brickyard after running third at Eldora.
"There's other dirt tracks that we could go to that I think would be fun as well."
To those who might find the siren song of other dirt venues irresistible, please reconsider. The atmosphere at Eldora isn't something that can be bottled and moved from place to place. Stewart called it "magical," and it was.
It was also unique, and that's what made the contrast with NASCAR Sprint Cup and NASCAR Nationwide weekend at the Brickyard so compelling.
It would behoove all of us to keep it that way.
Dirt Late Model ace Jared Landers and his Eddie Sharp Racing (ESR) team are still celebrating their experience at the inaugural CarCash Mudsummer Classic presented by CNBC Prime's The Profit in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) event at the famed Eldora Speedway.
Landers, who was not guaranteed a starting spot needed to make the field on time. He qualified an impressive second overall, narrowly missing the pole position to Ken Schrader. The Batesville, Arkansas, native won his heat race which placed him on the front row of the event.
"We had to make the field on time, so I was a bit conservative with the qualifying run," Landers said. "We were very happy with the heat race win and especially with the front row start for the feature."
Prior to the main event, the Eddie Sharp Racing crew and Landers' Late Model owner, Clint Bowyer, quickly realized that Landers needed a brushing up on NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race procedures - especially on pit procedures. Together they stepped aside for a quick meeting to review procedures and pit strategies. Also different for Landers was the need to shift gears during restarts, especially with his good qualifying position this would be needed. However, the concern was abated quickly, as Landers did an excellent job with the restarts and battled up front all night long.
"These truck racers are like a pack of wolves," Landers said on the radio after one of the restarts. "They beat and bang on you a ton. They're ruthless."
Crew chief Randy Dean transmitted back to Landers, "Use your bumper to beat and bang 'em back"!
Landers took the advice, and got more aggressive in the final segment, bringing the No. 6 Mark Martin Automotive Group Chevrolet back bumped and scraped.
"Jared did a great job, but I expected nothing less than a beat up race truck after this one," team owner Eddie Sharp Jr. said. "We hope to race more with Jared in the future. He's a rock star on dirt."
Though he was running in sixth place in the final segment, Landers got pushed into the wall with a hard-charging Ty Dillon behind him, and two trucks underneath. The push caused him to spin and receive heavy damage to the front bumper and that forced Landers to come into the pits for some work. After the pit stop, Landers fought his way up the back of the lead lap pack to a 12th-place finish in his first NASCAR Camping World Truck Series attempt.
"This was an awesome experience. I just want to thank the team and Mark Martin Automotive Group for this opportunity," Landers said. "It was a lot of fun and I hope to be back next year to go for the win."
Landers can be found racing full-time at Clint Bowyer Racing.
Eddie Sharp Racing heads back to speedway racing this upcoming weekend at Pocono Raceway.
As Pocono Raceway prepares for another great weekend of NASCAR and ARCA—Lebanon based Bill Martel Racing (BMR) is planning to burn up the Tricky Triangle --- in sneakers too!
BMR is hosting “Go Pink at Pocono 2,” a benefit track walk for the Pennsylvania Breast Cancer Coalition (PBCC) to be held on Saturday, August 3rd following the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) “Pocono Mountains 125,” which isscheduled to start at 1:00 p.m.
The walk will be led by Kyle Martel, driver of the BMR #59 “TURN4FOODS.COM” Chevrolet Silverado. Brandon Igdalsky, CEO of Pocono Raceway is scheduled to speak and help officially start “Go Pink at Pocono 2” -- which takes place approximately one hour after the race.
“BMR is inviting race fans and race teams to walk with us and help raise money for the PBCC. Our goal is to help find a cure for breast cancer now, so our daughters won’t have to. Having Brandon give the opening walk comments shows just how much Pocono Raceway is committed to the community; commented Rob Ziemba, Public Relations Manager for Bill Martel Racing.
Pocono Raceway is located in Long Pond, Pa. Registration for “Go Pink at Pocono 2” will take place at the Bill Martel Racing Tent located under the main grandstand at the start/finish line on August 3rd from 8:30 a.m. until the conclusion of the NCWTS race. The cost for the benefit walk is $10.00 or $20.00 which includes a commemorative tee shirt -- while supplies last. Walkers must also sign a waiver and wear a pink bracelet – to be provided.
“BMR will have pink highlights on both its NASCAR truck and ARCA car which will definitely stand out on the track. This is also a rare opportunity for Pocono fans to walk on a NASCAR track -- which we thank Pocono Raceway.” concluded Ziemba.
On Friday, August 2nd Kyle Martel is scheduled to drive the “HANOVERCOLDSTORAGE.NET” Chevrolet Impala in the ARCA Race Series “ModSpace 125” – presented by Menards.
Net proceeds from the walk will be donated to the PBCC. Fans may follow the race and walk action on Twitter @kyle_martel. Fans wishing to donate directly to the PBCC may do so at www.pabreastcancer.org/donate.
Bill Martel Racing PR
Officials at Empire Racing, LLC and Mason Mitchell Motorsports announced today that the two teams have formed an alliance in the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards. With first class equipment and the FR9 Engine Program from Roush-Yates Engines, Mason Mitchell Motorsports and Empire Racing will work together to provide a high quality marketing platform in the ARCA and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series as well as a competitive driver development program.
“We are looking forward to this venture as a long term relationship between Empire Racing and Mason Mitchell Motorsports to become the driver development team to go to” announced John Bellesfield, Empire Racing Team Manager.
The alliance will reunite Mitchell, who made his ARCA Racing Series debut in 2012, with veteran crew chief Jamie Jones. In the 4 starts the two made together last season, they earned 4 top 10s and 2 top 5s. The two will look to reignite the success they found together as Mason completes the 2013 season under the Empire Racing banner.
“I am honored to drive for Empire Racing and call this my home. With Happy Cheeks and my crew chief Jamie Jones back with me, I can’t wait for Pocono” said Mitchell after today’s announcement.
Crew Chief, Jamie Jones is pleased to be reunited with Mitchell, “I look forward to getting back together with Mason starting in Pocono at the ModSpace 125. We had great success last year together, he is a very talented driver. I am glad to welcome him to Empire Racing”.
Mitchell has competed in 10 ARCA Racing Series Races this season and is currently in 7th place in the points standings.
Happy Cheeks Toilet Cleaner and Mason Mitchell Motorsports will be on the Empire Racing #82 Ford Fusion for the ModSpace 125 at Pocono Raceway. The race will begin at 5:15pm on Friday August 2nd. The race will be televised live on SPEED. Live timing and scoring of practice, qualifying, and the race will
be available at www.arcaracing.com.
Happy Cheeks’ mission is to provide products that give their consumers peace of mind while they visit the public commode. They strive to make their items portable, convenient, and effective – so you can carry them with you everywhere you have to “go”. A portion of all sales proceeds goes towards
supporting breast cancer research.
Empire Racing PR
Ryan Newman is back in victory lane and Martinsville Speedway fans will be the big winners this week.
Newman rolled to a big NASCAR Sprint Cup victory over Jimmie Johnson Sunday afternoon. It was Newman’s first victory since he won the Goody’s 500 in the spring of 2012.
Martinsville Speedway is celebrating Newman’s win Sunday with an offer that will get fans up close to Newman and several other Sprint Cup drivers at a reduced price prior to the Goody’s™ Headache Relief Shot™ 500 Powered by Kroger on October 27.
Now through Sunday, August 4, fans can add a Party Plaza pass to their ticket order for the price of Newman’s car number. That’s right, just $39.
The Party Plaza is a new addition to Martinsville Speedway’s race-morning lineup and will include appearances from a great lineup of drivers, including Newman, four-time Sprint Cup champion Jeff Gordon, Jamie McMurray and rookie Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
The Party Plaza also will feature live music, a DJ and children’s activities, including a bounce house and a rock-climbing wall. There will be food vendors in the Party Plaza selling great food. Pepsi products will be available for purchase. There will be a beer garden with an assortment of local craft beer at affordable prices.
The drivers will appear at different times and each will participate in an emceed question and answer session during their appearance.
Advance tickets for the Goody’s™ Headache Relief Shot™ 500 Powered by Kroger start at just $37.
Martinsville Speedway PR