Speedway Digest Staff
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Following a five-race absence from NASCAR Nationwide Series competition due to injuries sustained in an accident at Talladega Superspeedway, Eric McClure returned to the seat of the No. 14 Hefty® Reynolds Wrap® Toyota this past weekend at the 14-turn Road America road course. After posting the 29th fastest speed during time trials, McClure overcame a lengthy pit stop to fix a broken battery box lid, which ultimately resulted in a lap lost to the race leader, to post his career-best road course finish. The 21st-place finish advanced the 33-year-old driver one position (21st) in NASCAR Driver standings and allowed TriStar Motorsports owner Mark Smith to advance to the 25th position in NASCAR Owner standings.
When the 50-lap race began, pit strategy immediately came into play as several cars came to pit road on lap two. Adhering to the game plan discussed prior to the race, McClure remained on track and was scored in the 17th position on lap nine. Battling a car that was extremely loose on the right-handed turns, crew chief Wes Ward called McClure to pit road on lap 11 for four tires, fuel, and a chassis adjustment. Just as McClure hit pit road, the event’s first full-course caution flag was displayed. With fuel normally playing a major role in the outcome of road course races, McClure returned to pit road on lap 13 to top off the fuel tank and to make an additional chassis adjustment to help the car’s -handling condition. When the race resumed on lap 15, the Hefty®/Reynolds Wrap® Racing™ team was scored in the 19th position.
The event’s second caution flag waved one lap later for debris which allowed McClure to once again visit pit road for fuel. It was then that the team discovered that the debris found on the racetrack came from the No. 14 Toyota. Needing to repair the broken battery box lid, McClure was called to pit road just as the race resumed on lap 18. Despite returning to the track in the 32nd position, McClure was able to advance to the 29th position by lap 25.
In spite of losing a lap to the race leader, McClure received the “lucky dog” award on lap 30 when the third caution flag waved. Following a routine pit stop, McClure returned to the track in the 26th position.
In the closing laps, McClure advanced as high as 19th before running off course with eight laps remaining in the event. Slipping to the 23rd position, he was able to overcome the mishap by advancing two positions in the final two laps to post his career-best road course finish.
Eric McClure Quotes:
“It was as solid day for us. We overcame some things and, although it wasn’t pretty, we almost scored a Top 20 finish at a road course. More importantly, it was a blessing to be able to work with Wes and the guys again. They rallied behind me and I had a lot of fun. I felt very comfortable in the car and look forward to building on this for the future.”
TriStar Motorsports PR
Kentucky Walmart Stores Offer NASCAR Driver Appearance, Authentic Merchandise, Fan Events Starting June 26
As the Kentucky Speedway prepares for the upcoming Quaker State 400, select Walmart stores will offer authentic NASCAR merchandise, a driver appearance and host exclusive fan events starting June 26. Customers are invited to attend these special events and enjoy show car and simulator displays– perfect to safely get behind the wheel and feel the power of NASCAR – June 26-29 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., depending on the location.
"Walmart is the champion of the racing fan, and we are committed to providing customers with savings on authentic merchandise, as well as unique race time experiences," said Walmart market manager Beth Dlutowski. "We want to give fans affordability and accessibility, so they can enjoy race time with their families and friends."
Race Time at Walmart
In addition to the fan events happening in Walmart parking lots, area Walmart stores will feature savings on all the food and snacks you need to enjoy the race, plus authentic NASCAR merchandise such as T-shirts and racing flags, with an even bigger selection of exclusive products available at Walmart.com/NASCAR.
Participating stores near the Kentucky Speedway include:
Tuesday, June 26, 2012
Displays free and open to the public include the M&M's Show Car, Simulator Pod and Trophy Display, Hefty Show Car Simulator and Coors Light Show Car at:
3450 Valley Plaza Parkway
Ft. Wright, Ky.
10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Displays free and open to the public include the No. 24 Pepsi MAX Show Car, No. 88 Diet Mountain Dew Show Car, 5-hour Energy Show Car, No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil Dodge Charger, Kingsford Ultimate Tailgate Truck, Coca-Cola 2-Seat Simulator, Miller Lite Show Car, Walmart's 50th Anniversary Show Car, Cheez-It Show Car Simulator and Oreo Ritz Show Car at:
7625 Doering Drive
11:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.
Wednesday, June 27, 2012
Displays free and open to the public include the M&M's Show Car, Simulator Pod and Trophy Display, Coors Light Show Car, Hefty Show Car Simulator, No. 24 Pepsi MAX Show Car, No. 88 Diet Mountain Dew Show Car, Oreo Ritz Show Car and 5-hour Energy Show Car at:
500 Taylorsville Road
10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Displays free and open to the public include the Kingsford Ultimate Tailgate Truck, Cheez-It Show Car Simulator, No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil Dodge Charger, Walmart's 50th Anniversary Show Car, Miller Lite Show Car and Coca-Cola 2-Seat Simulator at:
1015 New Moody Lane
La Grange, Ky.
11:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.
Thursday, June 28, 2012
Displays free and open to the public include the Coca-Cola 2-Seat Simulator, Hefty Show Car Simulator, No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil Dodge Charger, Oreo Ritz Show Car and 5-hour Energy Show Car at:
20 Ferguson Blvd.
Dry Ridge, Ky.
10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Unilever's Nationwide Driver Cole Whitt Appearance at 1 p.m.
Displays free and open to the public include the Kingsford Ultimate Tailgate Truck, Cheez-It Show Car Simulator, No. 24 Pepsi MAX Show Car, No. 88 Diet Mountain Dew Show Car, Walmart's 50th Anniversary Show Car, Coors Light Show Car and M&M's Show Car, Simulator Pod and Trophy Display at:
200 Floyd Drive
Noon – 6 p.m.
Friday, June 29, 2012
Displays free and open to the public include the Cheez-It Show Car Simulator, Kingsford Ultimate Tailgate Truck, Coors Light Show Car, Walmart's 50th Anniversary Show Car, No. 24 Pepsi MAX Show Car, No. 88 Diet Mountain Dew Show Car, Oreo Ritz Show Car, 5-hour Energy Show Car and Wheaties Show Car at:
567 Ivy Tech Drive
10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Displays free and open to the public include the Coca-Cola 2-Seat Simulator, Hefty Show Car Simulator, No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil Dodge Charger, No. 5 Quaker State Chevrolet, Miller Lite Show Car, M&M's Show Car, and Simulator Pod and Trophy Display at:
200 Floyd Drive
11:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.
Racing on Thursday night rekindles fond memories for Jason Leffler. The former open wheel standout put his name on the racing map by winning several of the United States Auto Club (USAC) Thursday Night Thunder shows that were televised nationally in the late 90's. The California native is hoping that the UNOH 225 at Kentucky Speedway in Sparta will provide another sentimental moment in his racing career, as he aims for his first win behind the wheel of the No. 18 Dollar General Tundra for Kyle Busch Motorsports (KBM).
Leffler has rebounded from misfortunes that plagued the team earlier this season, posting a pair of solid finishes in his last two starts behind the wheel of KBM's flagship Tundra. The 36-year-old driver registered a season-best fourth-place finish in the N.C. Education Lottery 200 at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway and after a one-race hiatus, which saw Brian Scott in the truck at Dover, returned with a sixth-place effort at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth.
While top-10 finishes are a step in the right direction, after leading the Series in victories each of its two seasons in existence, the No. 18 team is still looking for its first win of 2012. The venue for this week's race - located along the famous Kentucky Bourbon Trail - may be just the elixir that Leffler and his Dollar General Crew need, as both have previous success in the Truck Series at the 1.5-mile Tri-oval.
Leffler captured the pole for his first Truck Series event at Kentucky and led double-digit laps en route to fifth-place finishes in both of his previous starts in NASCAR's third division. The Dollar General Tundra is the defending UNOH 225 winner, as owner-driver Kyle Busch came from the rear of the field - after being late to the driver's meeting due to Sprint Cup Series testing - to earn his team's sixth 2011 victory. Busch also had the dominant truck in the 2010 event in The Bluegrass State, leading a race-high 73 laps before being relegated to a seventh-place finish, when the race was decided by fuel strategy.
Jason Leffler, Driver of the No. 18 NCWTS Dollar General Tundra:
Does running a Thursday night race bring back memories for you?
"It definitely brings back memories of the old Thursday Night Thunder. It should be a cool event and I think that the TV viewership should be pretty good. I was fortunate enough to win a lot of races on Thursday Night Thunder and it helped me get noticed by a lot of people -- it's too bad that it's not around today. Maybe we can get a few more truck races on Thursday night -- that would be pretty cool."
Is Kentucky the most unique of the mile-and-a-half tracks?
"For sure -- it has a lot of character. It's rough, it isn't banked as much as some of the other ones and it's really wide. It's a really cool place to drive. You have to get your truck handling right in order to have a lot of speed.
The team has showed improved results in your last few races, do you feel like you're on the cusp of your first KBM victory?
"Absolutely -- we had a shot to win at Charlotte and we are bringing the same truck that was decent at Texas. It was a new truck at Texas and since that race Eric (Phillips, crew chief) has fine tuned that thing. I look forward to running it with the updates he and the guys made and seeing how they go when we get on the racetrack. We have a lot of confidence rolling into Kentucky."
Eric Phillips, Crew Chief of the No. 18 NCWTS Dollar General Tundra:
What makes Kentucky a difficult track?
"With all the repaving that has gone on the last few years, it is really the only mile-and-a-half track that we go to that is really rough. It was rough when they originally built it, and over the years the pavement has gotten a lot older and it has gotten so rough. There are a lot of bumps, so it presents a lot of different things we have to work through. Trying to get the truck to ride through the bumps with the front end and still continue to try and turn is a difficult challenge."
How would you evaluate your team's performance so far this season?
"We've been fast. I feel like we've had really good trucks, but haven't been able to finish the weekend as strong as we've been when we unload. We had a lot of issues early in the season -- we had an engine issue, been in a wreck and a few other things of our own doing. I feel like we've had top-three or four race trucks every week in practice, but we haven't been able to finish that. Hopefully going into this weekend and this summer stretch, we can put those things behind us and be strong."
Rev Racing brings home three top-10 finishes in Saturday night's action packed Visit Hampton, VA 175, NASCAR K&N Pro Series East, race at Langley Speedway. Rev Racing rookies, Bryan Ortiz and Kyle Larson, bring home sixth and seventh place finishes, while teammate Jorge Arteaga cracked the top-10 for the first time this season.
Victor Gonzalez, Jr. proved what RAB Racing's equipment is made of in Saturday's Sargento 200 at Road America, spending the majority of the race running inside the top 10. Though a late-race scuffle led to a finishing position unrepresentative of the team's effort, Gonzalez was still able to salvage a 17th-place finish.
In Friday's dual practice sessions, Gonzalez posted the 21st and 23rd-fastest times, respectively. He found even more speed when he took to the track for qualifying, posting a 17th-place starting position.
Though driving in his first Nationwide Series event this season and first ever with RAB Racing, Gonzalez took no time to become accustomed to his Toyota Camry. He passed Nationwide Series regulars one-by-one and had found his way into the top 10 by the one-quarter mark of the event.Gonzalez continued to battle with the leaders throughout the first half of the Sargento 200.
As is commonplace at road course tracks, a heated battle for position took Gonzalez out of contention for the win Saturday. As he made the pass for the fifth position after the lap 38 restart, he was spun by a competitor and wound up in the 28th position. But even with damage to the side of the No. 99 Delta Commercial/IMCA Toyota Camry, Gonzalez was able to power back inside the top 20 and finished the day in the 17th position.
"The team gave me a great Toyota Camry and working with Scott Zipadelli (crew chief) was awesome," said Gonzalez. "He made great calls and our pit stops were fantastic. We got inside the Top 10 quickly, for the most part by speed and not strategy, which proved how good RAB Racing's equipment is. On the last restart, everyone was pushing each other. I passed for fifth position, but got a little loose in the corner and hit from the back. Though we ended up back in 28th, I pushed as hard as I could to get it back to 17th. Our Delta Commercial/IMCA Toyota Camry was a top-five car and I don't have enough words to say to thank everyone at RAB Racing for giving me the opportunity to drive it for them."
RAB Racing PR
APlusMeUSA.com to sponsor Shepherd at Kentucky: A+ Building Services will be the "title" sponsor on both the upper sides of Morgan Shepherd's #89 car this friday night, June 29th during the "Feed The Children 300" at Kentucky Speedway. A+ Building Services is a janitorial company headquartered in Portsmouth, Ohio and specializing in window cleaning and power pressure washing. A+ Building Services is a preferred vendor for companies such as Kroger and Nest International covering seven states and is a family ran business dating back to 1964. For more information, go to APlusMeUSA.com or Morgan Shepherd.com
Morgan Shepherd PR
Jason White on Kentucky: “I have always run well at Kentucky and after a few weeks off, I look forward to getting to the Bluegrass State. We were running second in this race last year with a green-white-checkered finish but we ended up fifth. The track has a lot of character with the bumps that force you to really focus as a driver. It seems to get bumpier every year and I hope they never change that. You are not wide open all the time and there are multiples grooves on the track that produces some great racing action.
This GunBroker.com team has been giving me a great truck every week and we have awesome horsepower from Roush Yates. We have just had some bad breaks here early on in the season but I am confident that we are about to turn the corner on our luck.”
Jason at Kentucky:This will mark Jason’s eighth career NASCAR Camping World Truck Series start at the Kentucky Speedway. His best finish was fourth during the 2010 season after starting in the 13th position. He also earned another top-five finish in the first of two races at the Kentucky track last year. He has led a total of two laps at the track and has a best qualifying effort of ninth in this event last season on his way to that fifth place finish.
Race Rewind: Jason White continues to battle the “bad luck bug” in the first half of the 2012 season and Friday night was no different. After some great pit strategy put White and his No. 23 GunBroker.com Ford in the lead, the bug bit again with front end damage being sustained when a fellow truck got loose off of Turn 4 and came across the nose of the GunBroker.com Ford. The end result was a disappointing 17th place finish in the running of the WinStar World Casino 400k at the Texas Motor Speedway.
Jason fell to 13th position in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series drivers’ standings – now 15 points out of the top-10.
“Sniper” Ready to Take on Texas: The GunBroker.com team will be bringing the truck they nicknamed “Sniper” to Kentucky this week. In honor of the team’s sponsor, GunBroker.com, the GB Racing team uses gun and shooting themed names for most of their trucks – thus the name “Sniper”. “Sniper” is a brand new truck that the team has built and will make its debut this week at Kentucky Speedway.
When Michael Waltrip climbs in the No. 55 Toyota at Kentucky Speedway’s NASCAR Sprint Cup race on Saturday night, he and his Aaron’s Dream Machine will sport University of Kentucky colors to honor his – and probably most of the local fans’ – favorite college basketball team.
The blue-and-white paint scheme and the Owensboro, Ky. native’s driver’s uniform will pay tribute to UK’s 2012 NCAA National Champion basketball team.
“This might be my all-time favorite paint scheme,” said Waltrip, a two-time Daytona 500 champion and Kentucky Athletic Hall of Fame member.
“I’m so proud of all the people in Kentucky for not only their world class race track, but we have the best college basketball team in the country again. To race in Kentucky and wear the UK uniform will be a heck of an honor for me.”
Waltrip will have many high profile supporters.
“We’re honored Aaron’s and Michael Waltrip have chosen to don our colors during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Race at Kentucky Speedway,” said UK basketball coach John Calipari. “Michael is a championship-caliber driver, and I can’t think of anyone better to race our colors to victory.”
Kentucky athletics director Mitch Barnhart will visit the track Thursday to help Waltrip unveil the special paint scheme.
“It’s so exciting to be hosting a NASCAR Sprint Cup race in the Bluegrass state and we can’t wait to watch Michael race in the blue and white,” Barnhart said. “We thank Aaron’s for making this possible and will be cheering Michael on in his home state.”
Waltrip thanked Aaron’s for permitting him to combine two of his great passions in life.
“Like everyone in Kentucky I grew up watching UK basketball. That’s just what we did. We raced cars and watched basketball. I guess it’s part of the culture,” he said. “I can’t tell you how thankful I am to Aaron’s for combining NASCAR and UK basketball for the weekend. I think they’ll bring the national championship trophy to the Aaron’s display at the track. I’d love to give the UK folks another trophy to take back to Lexington after the race.”
Aaron’s said it wanted to do something special for the fans at Kentucky Speedway.
“Aaron’s is a proud sponsor of the University of Kentucky athletic program, and we’re thrilled to have an opportunity to honor the school in this exciting and unconventional way,” said Ken Butler, Aaron’s chief operating officer. “We know how much this means to the people of Kentucky. We hope to give the University of Kentucky something to smile about on Saturday night with a Wildcat-themed car in Victory Lane.”
UK fans can order special t-shirts and die cast replicas of Waltrip’s cars by visiting: www.nascar.com/aaronsgowildcats.
After a three week hiatus the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series is back to action at Kentucky Speedway for the running of the UNOH 225 race Thursday, June 28, 2012.
“The off weeks between Texas and Kentucky have been exactly what this team and I needed,” Paulie Harraka said. “We were able to spend some great time together in Milwaukee and have grown closer as a team. We’ve carefully evaluated where we are at and what we need to do moving forward, and are looking at the Kentucky as if it were the start of a whole new season. For that, I’m really excited.”
This will be Paulie Harraka’s first start at the 1.5-mile Sparta, Kentucky race track but not his first time at the Kentucky Speedway.
“I’ve tested cars at Kentucky before and know that the bumpy nature of the track will play a big factor in our weekend,” Harraka commented.
Team owner Richie Wauters, in his tenure as a crew chief, has never gone to victory lane but has had two top-five and four top-10 finishes in just seven starts at the intermediate sized racetrack. Wauters best finish was third-place position with Aric Almirola as the driver in 2010.
Race eight of the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series season is slated for Thursday, June 28, 2012 at 8:00 pm. SPEED will provide live televised coverage of qualifying beginning at 5:00pm with race coverage beginning at 7:30pm. MRN & Sirius Satellite Radio coverage begins at 7:15pm.
Wauters Motorsports PR
Three-Time Champion Stewart Faces Nine-Time Most Popular Driver Earnhardt In Semifinals Of The "Drive for the Cover" Campaign
Tony Stewart had stiff competition in Round 3 of the Drive for the Cover campaign with Denny Hamlin, but his toughest test comes this week as he faces perennial fan favorite Dale Earnhardt Jr.
The first three rounds saw several upsets and unexpected matchups, and Round 4 features four of the biggest names in NASCAR. In Round 3, Earnhardt Jr. defeated his JR Motorsports teammate (and employee) Danica Patrick to face Stewart in the next round. Kasey Kahne squeezed by Mark Martin to face Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jeff Gordon, who got by Ryan Newman in Round 3. Below are the head-to-head matchups for the semifinals:
Dale Earnhardt Jr. vs. Tony Stewart
Jeff Gordonvs. Kasey Kahne
NASCAR fans can vote in the bracketed tournament that is hosted entirely on NASCAR The Game’s Facebook page, which can be easily accessed at NASCARTheGame.com/Vote.
Voting for Round 4 of the “Drive for the Cover” campaign begins todaywith three weeks remaining in the campaign to select the driver who will adorn the cover of NASCAR The Game: Inside Line. Here is the voting schedule, which culminates in July:
MAY 24 – Voting Opens (32 drivers)
JUNE 10 – First Round Closes (16 drivers)
JUNE 17 – Second Round Closes (8 drivers)
JUNE 24 – Third Round Closes (4 drivers)
JUNE 30 – Fourth Round Closes (2 drivers)
JULY 15 – Final Round Closes (Champion)
Visitwww.nascarthegame.com/vote to participate in the “Drive for the Cover” campaign. NASCAR The Game: Inside Line video trailer is available atNASCARTheGame.com/DriveFTC