Speedway Digest Staff
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The Army National Guard will continue as a primary sponsor of the No. 88 Sprint Cup Series team and driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. after extending its relationship with Hendrick Motorsports through the 2013 NASCAR season. The National Guard will receive primary paint schemes in 20 Sprint Cup races, including the 2013 Daytona 500, and prominent brand placement during all non-primary events.
“National Guard Citizen Soldiers represent the more than 3,200 communities across the United States in which they live, work and serve their state and the nation,” said Lt. Col. Michael Wegner, marketing branch chief, Army National Guard. “What NASCAR gives us is a national marketing platform that also can be leveraged at that local level, touching recruiters, potential recruits and influencers. With our all-volunteer military and rigorous enlistment standards, it plays a key role in increasing the awareness of what the Guard does and the many career opportunities and benefits it offers.”
The National Guard’s association with Hendrick Motorsports began with sponsorship of the No. 25 Sprint Cup team for the 2007 season. Its most recent contract, which included 18 primary paint schemes per year with the No. 88 team, was set to expire at the end of 2012.
“It’s an honor to be associated with the National Guard and its Citizen Soldiers,” said Rick Hendrick, owner of Hendrick Motorsports. “Like many of the world’s most innovative marketers and leading brands, the Guard sees the opportunities that our sport presents, and they have built a strong effort around it. As we go into 2013 together, we’ll continue to focus on the performance of the program both on and off the racetrack.”
Currently fourth in the 2012 Sprint Cup standings, Earnhardt has one victory and 15 top-10 finishes through 22 points-paying races this season. The Kannapolis, N.C., native is seventh on Forbes’ list of America’s most influential athletes and the top-ranked NASCAR driver in Bloomberg Businessweek’s “Power 100.” He has been voted by fans as NASCAR’s most popular driver for nine consecutive years.
“Working with the Guard has been incredible,” said Earnhardt, 37, who most recently won June 17 at Brooklyn, Mich., where the Sprint Cup Series returns this weekend. “On a weekly basis, we’re interacting with people considering a life-changing decision (to enlist) or who are already serving our country. Their sacrifices are difficult to comprehend, and we feel a lot of pride representing them and seeing first-hand how passionate they are about NASCAR and our team.”
Additional sponsorship for the No. 88 Chevrolet will be announced at a later date.
Each race weekend, SRT Motorsports Engineer Howard Comstock gives his insight on the ‘Keys for Success’ for the upcoming race. This week’s focus is on the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series is the Pure Michigan 400 at Michigan International Speedway.
Track: Michigan International Speedway (Race 23 of 36 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series)
Race: Pure Michigan 400 (200 laps / 400 miles)
Trivia Question: What driver has the best all-time average starting position at Michigan International Speedway? (Answer Below)
HOWARD COMSTOCK (SRT Motorsports Engineering)
Tires: “Obviously, the tire has been changed since June and the teams had a chance to run the new tire at the test and a lot of people predicted this tire and a combination of the track wearing in a little bit would be about six miles per hour slower. But if you look at qualifying results and maybe qualifying results isn’t a true test but really qualifying results we’re only off four miles per hour from what we saw in June. So whether teams are holding a little back in the test or they’ve figured out what it takes to make this tire work, it looks like the fall off in speed is not going to be as drastic as some people thought it was going to be. That’s okay as long as we’re still in some kind of safety zone on the tires. In June we had terrible problems in the race in June with blistering. This tire was supposed to cure that and slow the cars down. It didn’t slow the cars down as much as was predicted so I think that’s something we’re going to have to watch for.”
Temperature: “The good news is it keeps the track temperature down which is easier on the tires. The bad news is it makes more horsepower so the cars go faster which is harder on the tires. It’s kind of a sliding scale but you don’t slide very far because they’ll be good grip and the cars will go fast. They go plenty fast on the straightaways. That’s not the part that hurts the tires. It’s that good grip in the corner that makes ‘em go fast through those corners. If they do have good grip and aren’t sliding around, they should be okay.”
Track Surface: “There’s always that process. You can look at the track and just see that from the time the track is paved it’s a beautiful black color and every day after that it tends to gray more and more and more as the sun evaporates the oil that’s in the asphalt and we’re left with stone. When the track is first paved you’re actually seeing the oil and as the track wears you’re beginning to see the stone. Maybe that’s too molecular for this discussion (laughs). You can just look at it and tell it’s beginning to age and it’s been a hot summer here that ages it faster and causes more evaporation.”
The Challenge of Qualifying: “The format has a lot to do with it. We’re using what I call a traditional format this weekend where we practice for one session on Friday and then qualify. That compartmentalizes the qualifying effort. You can really focus on that all day Friday and then we get two practices on Saturday and you can switch over and worry about your race stuff.”
TRIVIA ANSWER: Bobby Isaac, who averaged a 3.12 starting position. Isaac made eight Cup starts at Michigan from 1969-1972 in the No. 71 Dodge owned by Nord Krauskopf. He won one pole and started sixth-place or better in each of those races.
Trevor Bayne and the Motorcraft/Quick Lane crew came to Michigan International Speedway determined to redeem themselves following a disappointing run at that track in June, where engine troubles ended their day prematurely.
The team is off to a fast start as Bayne qualified sixth for Sunday’s Pure Michigan 400. His speed of 197.780 miles per hour represented a dramatic improvement over Friday’s practice session where he was 19th fastest with a best lap of 194.605 mph.
“That’s one spot better than we qualified last time, so I’m pretty pumped about it,” Bayne said, adding that it’s a rush to be running as fast as he was, but still pressing down on the accelerator to gain more speed.
Bayne gave much of the credit for his improvement from practice to Donnie Wingo and crew.
“I am proud of these guys,” he said. “We were really loose in practice but they got it tightened back up for me so I could get on the gas on exit. That was the biggest thing for me, being able to get wide open and stay in it instead of having to breathe it coming up to the wall.”
The payoff to a strong qualifying run comes in a good pit stall selection, which leads to better track position during the race on Sunday.
“That’s the good part of it,” Bayne said.
Bayne is also upbeat about his prospects for Saturday’s practice session and Sunday’s race, as he and the team now can focus on running the Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Fusion in race trim rather than a qualifying set-up. The July 30th Goodyear tire test should prove to be a huge help, as they were able to work on race runs and make some needed handling improvements, hoping to make their Ford Fusion even faster than the previous Michigan race.
“Everything went good in the test,” Bayne said. “It does seem like the track is a little more free than it was in June. “It’s all good. I’m excited.”
Wood Brothers Racing PR
NASCAR fans in Talladega can save on tickets to the upcoming Good Sam Roadside Assistance 500 on Oct. 7 with the Walmart Family Track Pack. The $99 package gives families two adult tickets and two youth tickets, four hot dogs, four Coke sodas and one program – a total savings of more than $100.
"We are making races affordable and accessible for fans," said Rand Waddoups, senior director, Entertainment Properties and Brands, Walmart. "The Walmart Family Track Pack is a great value that gives local fans a way to take their whole family to the track together."
"We are particularly appreciative to and grateful for the commitment that Walmart and NASCAR have made to our area for the races held in Talladega," said Mack Ferguson, executive director of the Greater Talladega Area Chamber of Commerce. "Not only can many fans participate in a more cost-friendly event, but they are afforded more disposable income to make an economic impact on the businesses surrounding the area."
Ferguson said the Alabama Tourism Department has estimated that a family of four spends more than $350 on an overnight stay in the Talladega area.
"From these figures alone, one can see the tremendous financial impact this race has on our area," he added.
The Walmart Family Track Pack is available online at www.walmart.com/NASCAR and in Ticketmaster kiosks in select stores.
Race Time 2012 at Walmart
In addition to the race ticket package, Walmart's Race Time 2012 program gives fans authentic NASCAR merchandise and unique fan events at stores.
Beginning Oct. 4, select Walmart stores in the Talladega area will host NASCAR fan events featuring real stock racing car displays and racing simulator machines – perfect to safely get behind the wheel and feel the power of NASCAR.
Additionally, Walmart stores will feature savings on authentic NASCAR merchandise such as T-shirts and racing flags, with even more items available on Walmart.com/NASCAR.
Participating stores in the Talladega area include:
214 Haynes St.
165 Vaughan Lane
Pell City, Ala.
8551 Whitefield Ave.
92 Plaza Lane
Atlanta Motor Speedway’s Coca- Cola® Fan Stage Highlighted by Driver Question-and-Answer Sessions, Musical Performances, Games and Contests for Fans
Atlanta Motor Speedway’s three nights of racing for this Labor Day weekend, Aug. 31-Sept. 2 kicks off in less than two weeks, and while the racing excitement will be the highlight of each day’s activities at the track, there will be much more than just the cars speeding around the track for fans to enjoy while at AMS.
The Coca-Cola® Fan Stage will return once again for the 2012 AdvoCare 500 weekend, with a wide variety of activities for fans to take in each day at the speedway. Events for the fan stage are being added daily, so fans are encouraged to visit www.atlantamotorspeedway.com as race weekend approaches for the most up-to-date schedule. All times are subject to change.
Below is the current schedule for the Coca-Cola® Fan Stage:
Friday, Aug. 31
4:00 p.m. Coca-Cola® Fan Stage opens and Cale Gale Q&A
4:15 p.m. Jamie Tate performance
6:00 p.m. Cristina Quinones performance
6:45 p.m. Todd Bodine, Timothy Peters and Parker Kligerman Q&A
7:25 p.m. Coca-Cola® Fan Stage closes
Saturday, Sept. 1
11:00 a.m. Coca-Cola® Fan Stage opens and Jamie Tate performance
1:15 p.m. Cristina Quinones performance
2:15 p.m. Chelsea Bain performance
3:00 p.m. Georgia Racing Hall of Fame Q&A
3:15 p.m. Kylie Hinze performance
4:15 p.m. Cristina Quinones performance
5:00 p.m. Shane’s Rib Shack BBQ Eating Contest
5:30 p.m. Paige McCauley Band performance
6:40 p.m. Coca-Cola® Fan Stage closes
Sunday, Sept. 2
11:00 a.m. Coca-Cola® Fan Stage opens and Jamie Tate performance
12:00 p.m. Georgia Racing Hall of Fame Q&A
12:30 p.m. Reluctant Saints performance
1:30 p.m. Will Turpin Q&A
2:00 p.m. The LACS performance
2:45 p.m. AMS President Ed Clark Q&A
3:00 p.m. Kevin Harvick Q&A
3:15 p.m. David Ragan Q&A
3:30 p.m. 94.9 The Bull Match Making Game
3:45 p.m. Tony Stewart Q&A
4:00 p.m. Chelsea Bain performance
4:45 p.m. AMS Street Team performance
5:05 p.m. Coca-Cola® Fan Stage closes
Due to the overwhelming response to the family grandstand in turn three, Michigan International Speedway has extended its free seating for kids 12 and under to the turn one grandstand.
Kids 12 and under can now sit for free in sections 59-111 in the turn one grandstands. All rows, 1-40 will be available for this special opportunity. A free kids ticket is required for this area. From this vantage point, fans will be treated to a great view as the cars fan out to two and three wide at 200 mph as they approach at nearly top speed.
The Walmart Family Four Pack and the Jimmie Johnson Race Day Getaway deals were once again huge successes in August. Ticket prices will now start at just $36 for the Pure Michigan 400.
“We are excited to see the number of kids who are coming to the Pure Michigan 400,” track President Roger Curtis said. “Children are instrumental to the growth of the sport of NASCAR and we are happy that so many families are spending Father’s Day at MIS. We cannot wait to see all the children in the stands.
“Also, a special thank you to five-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson and Walmart for helping us offer great ticket deals like these that energize our fans.”
MIS has offered several ticket packages in addition to its kids 12 and under free seating program. These have been instrumental in the increase of children coming with their families to the racetrack. MIS has prided itself in making the race a family affair and the New Holland Fan Plaza allows children of all ages to learn about the sport of NASCAR as well as enjoy activities in the Kids Zone.