Speedway Digest Staff
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Approximately 35 runners from the 2013 Boston Marathon unable to finish the race due to the tragic bombings will complete the distance Sunday, May 26by crossing the most famous finish line in sports - the Yard of Bricks at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway - just moments before the start of the 97th Indianapolis 500.
Boston Marathon participants from Indiana, Ohio, Illinois, Kentucky and Michigan will run approximately one-half mile from Turn 4 to the Yard of Bricks on the front straightaway of the famed IMS oval. The run will take place between 11:55 a.m. and noon, less than 10 minutes before the command to fire engines for the 33 starters in "The Greatest Spectacle in Racing."
All of the participants in the ceremonial run at IMS were halted short of the finish of the 26.2-mile race April 15 by officials after two explosions near the finish line on Boylston Street in Boston.
"The tragedy last month in Boston still resonates with everyone, so we wanted to give runners the chance to finish the race in front of thousands of fans who will appreciate their persistence and determination," said Doug Boles, Indianapolis Motor Speedway chief operating officer. "Everyone will remember the victims while also celebrating the strength and indomitable spirit of these special competitors as they cross the hallowed Yard of Bricks."
Indianapolis Motor Speedway officials extended the invitation for runners to the Boston Athletic Association, which contacted non-finishers in Indiana and surrounding states.
America’s most iconic beer paid tribute to America’s heroes on Thursday, as Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 29 Budweiser Chevrolet SS in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, made a special visit with military men and women stationed at Fort Bragg, N.C.
Folds of Honor Foundation founder Major Dan Rooney and Rocky Sickmann, director of military sales for Anheuser-Busch and retired U.S. Marines Sergeant, joined Harvick at Fort Bragg while he visited the Warrior Transition Battalion’s (WTB) Soldier and Family Assistance Center. The Fort Bragg Warrior Transition Battalion provides command and control, primary care and case management for warriors who have suffered injury or illness while serving as a member of the U.S. Army.
“I’m always at a loss for words for how to express my utmost gratitude to the men and women who serve our country,” Harvick said. “I know the entire NASCAR community is behind me when I say I can’t thank these individuals enough for their dedication and service. Freedom isn’t free. It’s because of them that we can enjoy even the simplest things in life.”
While at Fort Bragg Harvick presented the installation with the firesuit he wore while driving the No. 29 Budweiser Armed Forces Chevrolet to victory in the 2011 Coca-Cola 600. The firesuit was accepted by Major Jason Todd of the WTB on behalf of the Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) group.
Harvick’s visit to Fort Bragg was a part of Budweiser’s “Red, White and Blue Summer” initiative, which benefits Folds of Honor Foundation. Since 2010, Anheuser-Busch has raised more than $5 million for the Folds of Honor Foundation and provided more than 1,000 scholarships to the families of soldiers killed or disabled in service. From May 5 to July 4, 2013, with every purchase of Budweiser, the King of Beers will make a donation to the Folds of Honor Foundation up to $1.5 million*.
“Having Kevin Harvick at Fort Bragg to say thank you to the men and women who serve our country was great to witness,” said Sickmann. “Any time we can give back to those who put their lives on the line in defense of our freedom, it’s an honor.
“Budweiser has been a proud supporter of America’s Armed Forces for more than 150 years through various programs. The Folds of Honor Foundation gives back to military families through scholarships and other assistance and we’re proud to help those efforts.”
Budweiser’s commitment to the Folds of Honor Foundation is an example of the brand’s continued support of America’s Armed Forces.
“The soldiers we met at Fort Bragg were inspiring,” said Rooney. “Their selfless dedication to serving our country is just amazing and serves as a reminder of why the Folds of Honor Foundation is working so hard to ensure no family is left behind in the fight to preserve American freedom.
“The support of companies like Budweiser allows us to do all that we can to aid the families of soldiers killed or disabled in service to our country. Without their assistance we couldn’t help provide healing, hope and an opportunity for dreams to be realized.”
This weekend Harvick’s No. 29 Budweiser Folds of Honor Chevrolet will sport a special patriotic paint scheme that reflects Budweiser’s limited-edition red, white and blue packaging and features the Folds of Honor Foundation on the rear deck lid and TV panel in Sunday’s 600-mile NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Budweiser Racing PR
One of the biggest storylines – and thrills – so far this season for NASCAR fans just might be the iconic No. 43 car’s resurgence in the NASCAR spotlight.
Behind the wheel of the legendary car that often still sports the famous Petty Blue shade, driver Aric Almirola currently finds himself ninth in NASCAR Sprint Cup Series standings with 317 points and is emerging as a real Chase contender.
Besides having a Hall of Fame team owner in Richard Petty and an experienced crew chief in Todd Parrott, Almirola has yet another advantage every time he wheels the 43 down pit road – an award-winning pit crew.
The No. 43 Smithfield Ford over-the-wall crew has been named the Quarter One Mechanix Wear Most Valuable Pit Crew – an honor determined by a vote of each NASCAR Sprint Cup Series crew chief given quarterly to top-performing pit crews.
"It’s just awesome," said rear tire changer Dwayne Ogles. "Just the history of the 43 car in itself and us kind of being the underdogs, it’s pretty cool to bring the 43 back. Everybody’s looking at us and it’s cool for the spotlight to be back on the 43 team."
The No. 43 crew’s precise performance this season has helped to cement Almirola’s solid start to the 2013 campaign. The team’s four straight top-10s, accumulated from the April 13 race at Texas to May 5 at Talladega, marked the first time since 1996 that the storied Petty Enterprise’s No. 43 had finished in the top-10 in four straight races.
According to Ogles, being recognized by peers for their accomplishments is a huge honor for the entire team.
"It means a lot to me and to all of the guys," said Ogles, a nine-year pit road veteran who hails from Hoover, Ala. "Working out, practicing, building the cars in the shop – day in and day out, there’s a lot that goes into it. We put in a lot of long hours, so it’s nice to see the performance and results showing."
In addition to Ogles, the 43 over-the-wall pit crew consists of a combination of newcomers and experienced pit road veterans, including: Joe Karasinski (gas man), Jeremy Neeley (jackman), Greg Donlin (front tire changer), Lance Hanna (front tire carrier), and Eric Wallace (rear tire carrier). Andrew Carter is the team’s pit crew coach.
"I can remember as a kid watching Richard Petty race the 43 car," reminisced coach Carter, who trains both the No. 43 and No. 9 Richard Petty Motorsports pit crews. "He [Petty] was one of my favorite drivers, so getting to work with these guys every day is pretty special."
Carter puts the crew through pit stop practice three days a week, and works with the strength and conditioning coach to oversee their weight training regime in the gym four days per week.
"We push these guys pretty hard," said Carter. "Between working on the cars, finding time to get to practice, and then going to the gym and pushing themselves even harder, they do a great job at it. The results have shown on the track the past couple of weeks in seeing the 43 running up in the top-10."
The Carter-coached No. 43 six-member team can change four tires, add fuel and make adjustments in as little as 11 or 12 seconds, thanks to rigorous training as well as technological advances by companies like Mechanix Wear, who supply 20 to 25 products from gloves to kneepads based on whatever the pit road warriors need.
Carter also maintains having a primary sponsor like Smithfield reaps its own competitive benefits, too.
"It always helps to be ‘fueled by bacon’ when you’re going over-the-wall," quips Carter. "That extra protein really helps give the guys that extra boost to perform at their best."
Benefitting from best-in-class gloves, bacon and some good old-fashioned blood, sweat and tears, Ogles and company wouldn’t have it any other way.
"All the hard work pays off," added Ogles. "It’s worth every bit of it."
Star of the A&E show “Duck Dynasty” and Duck Commander CEO Willie Robertson will give the invocation for Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Robertson, the only family member with a business degree, is credited with taking his father’s duck-call business from a living room operation to a multi-million dollar business. His entire family is highlighted in the reality show “Duck Dynasty,” an inside look at these self-proclaimed “Rich Rednecks” from the Louisiana bayou.
The family’s duckcommander.com website touts the show as one about “God, Family, Ducks (in that order),” and in fact, each episode ends with the family together around the dinner table.
Other Coca-Cola 600 dignitaries are Sgt. Aaron Causey (Grand Marshal), U.S. Senator Tim Scott (Honorary Starter) and Tennessee Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey (Honorary Race Director).
Causey is a veteran of both the US Air Force and Army. He served several tours of duty in Iraq, Afghanistan and more. He was attempting to disarm a suspected IED in Afghanistan in 2011 when it detonated, causing the loss of both of his legs and two fingers, in addition to many other physical and emotional scars.
Scott is a Republican senator from South Carolina, while Ramsey serves as Lt. Gov. of Tennessee.
Smithfield, Richard Petty Motorsports, And Charlotte Motor Speedway To Donate More Than 3 Million Hot Dogs As Part Of "helping Hungry Homes" Tour
During the race week in Charlotte, N.C., Smithfield, in partnership with Richard Petty Motorsports and the Charlotte Motor Speedway, will donate and deliver more than 3 million hot dogs to food banks in Charlotte and around the country. Donation locations will coincide with Speedway Motorsports, Inc.-owned tracks, including the Atlanta Motor Speedway, Bristol Motor Speedway, Charlotte Motor Speedway, Kentucky Speedway, Las Vegas Motor Speedway, New Hampshire Motor Speedway, and Texas Motor Speedway, and one truckload will be going to Oklahomato aid in disaster relief.
This significant donation is part of Smithfield's Helping Hungry Homes program, the company's coast-to-coast effort to alleviate hunger and raise the awareness of food insecurity. In addition to this donation, Smithfield is also participating in the Patriot Partners program at the Charlotte Motor Speedway to help welcome home thousands of U.S. Armed Forces during race week.
Smithfield will announce the donation at a press conference on Friday, May 24, during the 6:00am hour in Victory Lane at the Charlotte Motor Speedway, located at 5555 Concord Pkwy South, Concord, NC.
"The No. 43 Richard Petty Motorsports team is honored to participate in this donation with our sponsor, Smithfield, and our home track, the Charlotte Motor Speedway," said No. 43 team owner Richard Petty. "So many race fans are loyal customers of Smithfield, so it's great to see them giving back to communities that support them, and our race team, throughout the year."
"We at Charlotte Motor Speedway are proud to join such dedicated partners as Richard Petty Motorsports and Smithfield to pool our resources and help families in need," said Marcus Smith, President and General Manager of Charlotte Motor Speedway. "This donation represents thousands of meals that will be served to hungry families across the country, and is a great example of how the NASCAR family works together to help others during difficult times."
"Smithfield has made more than 155 donations across the country under the company's Helping Hungry Homes program. Through this campaign, we have provided more than 25.4 million servings to food banks that serve their communities through local and emergency food pantries, low-income daycare centers and disaster-relief agencies," said Dennis Pittman, Director of Corporate Communications and Public Affairs for Smithfield. "If we laid these hot dogs end to end, they would make more than 150 laps around the Charlotte Motor Speedway. We're proud to make this substantial donation in conjunction with our racing program to celebrate Memorial Day, honor our troops, and kick off the summer grilling season."
Smithfield Foods and its independent operating companies have a long history of stocking food banks, supporting after-school nutrition programs and providing food relief in the wake of natural disasters. In January 2008, Smithfield established its Helping Hungry Homes® initiatives to help ensure that American families in need do not go hungry.
Smithfield Foods PR
The world famous Talladega Boulevard - the most coveted piece of real estate in NASCAR, located in Talladega Superspeedway's infield - will be prominently featured on a special primetime episode of “The Chew,” a popular talk show/cooking show, that airs on ABC this Saturday, May 25, at 9 pm Eastern.
The episode follows host Mario Batali and NASCAR Sprint Cup Driver Clint Bowyer, a two-time Talladega Sprint Cup Series winner (in the Camping World RV Sales 500), as they tour up and down the Boulevard sampling the delicious dishes NASCAR fans cooked up on their Tailgate Grills during the Aaron's Dream weekend earlier this month.
The footage from Talladega is part of “The Chew”’s Ultimate BBQ Cookout Countdown. During the countdown, the show’s hosts Mario Batali, Michael Symon, Carla Hall, Clinton Kelly and Daphne Oz are roving the country searching for the most unforgettable barbecues and cookouts.
The sport of NASCAR is known for its incredible tailgating cuisine, so it was a no-brainer for the show to choose the Talladega infield - in particular Talladega Boulevard - as a destination for some of the best BBQ in the whole country.
Infamous for its wild party atmosphere and occasional drop-ins from NASCAR’s top drivers, the Boulevard also features some of the best cooking and tailgating found in any sport, thanks to the hard work and dedication NASCAR tailgaters put into setting up a home away from home during race weekend.
The Talladega episode of “The Chew” will re-air on Monday, May 27, at 1 pm Eastern on ABC.
Richard Childress Racing (RCR) announced today that Menards, the third-largest home improvement store in the United States, has signed a multi-year partnership renewal of the No. 27 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) entry driven by Paul Menard.
Menards first partnered with RCR in 2011 and enjoyed a top-10 finish in the Daytona 500. Later that year, Menard scored his first NSCS victory by claiming the prestigious Brickyard 400 checkered flag at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
"It is great to have Paul Menard back in the No. 27 Menards Chevrolet as our driver," said Richard Childress, president and CEO of RCR. "He has shown his ability to be consistent, competitive and win on the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series level. He did that in the Brickyard 400 (2011) with us at Indy. Having 'Slugger' Labbe (crew chief) and the entire crew coming back gives us something to build on to win more races, make The Chase and contend for a championship.
"We are very excited to continue our partnership with Menards. They are a great organization with strong customer service values who successfully use their racing program to promote their business. We couldn't be prouder to represent them as part of our race team and future."
Menard is in his sixth full season of NSCS competition and is currently tied for 10th in the driver point standings. The Eau Claire, Wis., native has scored four top-10 finishes in the first 11 races of the 2013 season.
"My family, all of our great team members at Menards and I are excited to extend our partnership with Richard and Richard Childress Racing," said Menard. "Being part of a family-owned and operated business I can relate to the team's goals and objectives. We will continue to grow together and build our relationship, achieving even greater accomplishments in the future."
Menards has a long, successful history as a racing sponsor dating back to the 1970's. A family-owned company started in 1960 and headquartered in Eau Claire, Wis., Menards has 280 retail store locations throughout the Midwest.
For additional information on today's announcement, and all that's happening at RCR, please visit www.rcrracing.com. For more information on Menards please visit www.menards.com and for more information on Paul visit www.menardsracing.com.
The Quicken Loans 400 will soon be speeding toward the green flag, so fans will want to make a pit stop and check out all of the new food choices at Michigan International Speedway.
MIS and its catering partner Americrown have developed new food items for the fans this year – and these items are truly unique to Michigan.
The “Pierogi Burger” is a juicy new hamburger. But instead of a plain, cheese with grilled onions burger, a cheese pierogi has been added. A pierogi is a Polish dumpling, a delicacy with many of the local Polish residents of Southeastern Michigan.
Americrown has added also gravy cakes to the menu. These potato pancakes are topped with a chipped beef gravy, sour cream and green scallions, sure to satisfy a race fan.
Coney Dogs have become synonymous with Michigan. What a better way to watch a race at NASCAR’s fastest track than with a coney dog with real sauce, mustard and diced onions?
“It has been fun to work with Americrown to develop all the new items,” said MIS President Roger Curtis. “Food at an event is so important. And while we will continue to allow fans to bring in their own food in coolers for free, we know there are some fans who love that carnival-like food that you wait all summer long for.”
While food during the NASCAR races is important, food after the race is, too.
The all new tailgate package includes a beef tri-tip roast, baby back ribs, port butts, chicken wings, chicken thighs and jumbo hot dogs. The best part is everything is fully cooked. All you have to do is season it to your liking and heat the items up.
The 10-person package is $250 while the 20-person package is $400. You can feed 40 people for only $550. Invite your neighbors over and have a cookout.
All you have to do is simply call Brandy Escamilla at 909-429-5380 and your package will be delivered to your campground on June 14.
Michigan International Speedway has more than 8,000 campsites and smells like one large kitchen as people cookout. Now Americrown makes it easy for all the campers with a special tailgate package that feeds 10, 20 or 40 people.
“We have always wanted something for the campers and we spent time discussing the perfect option,” said Americrown Executive Chef Paul Miller. “The tailgate package should be fun for campers who want to cook throughout the weekend. And the best part is we bring it right to your site.”
“Our house is a very, very, very fine house.” Graham Nash wasn’t referring to Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway when he wrote the song “Our House.” But Jimmie Johnson would agree that the track, which is quickly becoming like home, is a very fine one, indeed.
Johnson won a record fourth Sprint All-Star Race Saturday evening. The victory in the non-points-paying event made him the all-time winningest driver in the event, breaking a tie with the legendary Dale Earnhardt and Jeff Gordon. A win in this weekend’s 600-mile event would be his seventh overall at the track, making him its all-time winningest driver and breaking a tie at six wins apiece with Bobby Allison and Darrell Waltrip.
Johnson has three wins in the Memorial Day-weekend race, including his last win in the 600-mile event in 2005. The only time he has swept the All-Star Race and 600 was in 2003. While he owns the best driver rating among current drivers and has the best average running position, Johnson hasn’t scored a top-10 finish in the Memorial Day-weekend event since 2007.
A recent repave at Charlotte may have slowed Johnson’s dominance, a fact the five-time champion acknowledges. “We knew, literally, what time in the afternoon, what adjustment needed to be made to the car, and it was like clockwork, didn’t matter the year, just every single time. It’s not that way anymore.”
Saturday’s win was certainly a step in the right direction and, while Johnson may not have “two cats in the yard,” he would most surely agree that Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway is a “very, very, very fine house,” one he may own by the time he gets finished wheeling his No. 48 Lowe’s “Patriotic” Chevrolet SS 600 miles Sunday evening.