Speedway Digest Staff
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Two-hundred and thirty-seven years ago, our Nation’s leaders established the Continental Army, beginning a rich heritage of successfully defending this great country and her citizens.
This weekend at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, Ryan Newman and Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) will help celebrate the continued honor, loyalty and bravery of our Soldiers in this noble calling as Newman takes the No. 39 U.S. Army Chevrolet into the Quicken Loans 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race Sunday.
Since its inception in June 1775, the U.S. Army has served as the backbone of our Nation. And since taking the wheel of the Soldiers’ car in 2009, Newman has had the opportunity to witness first-hand the courage and selfless service of the Army Strong Soldiers he represents. South Bend, Ind., native Newman wears the U.S. Army logo that adorns the chest of his uniform and the hood of his racecar with great pride.
As such, a victory in the Quicken Loans 400 would be the ultimate “thank you” Newman could offer, something Newman has done 16 times in his Sprint Cup career, twice at Michigan.
Those Michigan wins came in successive visits to the 2-mile, D-shaped oval (August 2003 and June 2004). In 2003, Newman started on the outside pole and led 32 laps en route to the win. In 2004, he started fourth and led 22 laps on his way to taking the checkered flag. Augmenting those triumphs is a pole (June 2005) and five top-five and seven top-10 finishes in 22 career Sprint Cup starts.
Yet after those back-to-back wins, Newman struggled in his return trips to Michigan. He found very little luck in the Irish Hills, as no more top-10s were recorded until last season.
In 2011, Newman and Co. took a page from its U.S. Army counterparts, where its Soldiers put the mission first with a never-quit attitude and a refusal to accept defeat. Together with crew chief Tony Gibson, Newman refocused and analyzed his past performances at Michigan and devised a chassis setup that worked for the racetrack and his aggressive driving style. Their collective fortitude paid off in 2011, as Newman earned a sixth-place finish in June and a fifth-place result in August.
A new challenge awaits the U.S. Army Racing Team at Michigan – fresh pavement. The fresh grip that will be available through the newly repaved track’s sweeping corners has enabled drivers in recent testing to tour the 2-mile oval at speeds of up to 215 mph approaching the corners, which is roughly 25 mph faster than the average pole speed for the Sprint Cup race at Michigan last August.
Newman and Gibson will again take a page from their U.S. Army brethren where, in the face of white-knuckle speeds, they’ll maintain the strength to complete the mission, which is winning the race. And that, on the 237th birthday of the U.S. Army, would be icing on the cake.
Turner Motorsports is pleased to announce that Amway North America has signed on to sponsor James Buescher and the No. 30 car in this weekend's NASCAR Nationwide Series (NNS) race at Michigan International Speedway. Amway and its Independent Business Owners will be cheering on the No. 30 car this Saturday as Buescher races toward a win.
"We are honored to have Amway on board for this weekend's race at Michigan International Speedway," commented driver James Buescher. "They are an iconic brand that has a wide variety of home, health and beauty products. They, like Turner Motorsports, rely on relationships and teamwork to keep them ahead of the competition. We are excited to welcome them to the Turner Motorsports family and look forward to getting the Amway Chevrolet into victory lane on Saturday afternoon."
"Amway, its employees, and its Independent Business Owners are excited to support James Buescher and Turner Motorsports this Saturday at Michigan International Speedway," says Jori Hartwig, Vice President of Marketing for Amway North America. "We'll be looking for the Amway logo across the hood of the No. 30 car as it zips around the track."
Buescher will take to the track in the No. 30 Amway Chevrolet on Friday for practice, with qualifying and the race slated for Saturday, June 16.
Turner Motorsports PR
Although they didn't have the finish they wanted at Pocono, more misfortune by the drivers in front of them in championship points helped the Front Row Motorsports team climb closer into the top-25. Ragan trails Casey Mears by only three marks for 28th and Kurt Busch, who missed the event, by 35 for the 27th position. Michigan is an opportunity to get closer to their goals.
Ragan has a pair of top-10 finishes and a career best effort of third in 10 career starts at the two-mile oval.
Comments from Front Row Motorsports driver David Ragan Heading to Michigan:
"We had a good car at Pocono, but couldn't get our lap back after losing a tire early in the race. But, we actually gained on the guys around us in points. We left Pocono a bit ahead of where we were before even if the race didn't turn out the way we wanted. Sometimes it's luck, but I think this is case where we kept fighting and proved that we're a pretty strong organization.
"Ford has a strong reputation at Michigan and it would be great to get them a respectable finish in their home state. Looking back at the stats at this track, and having the experience of racing a Ford there for a number of years, they are winners at this track. It shouldn't surprise anyone to see the blue oval in victory lane and hopefully our team can be right in the mix.
"I'm interested in seeing how the track's new surface fairs this weekend. I can't remember the last time we've raced on two freshly repaved racetracks back to back. I anticipate seeing a big pickup in speed as we did at Pocono. We'll go in early and try to lay down a lot of rubber and open up two or three grooves. That will help us put on a good show for everyone."
Comments from Front Row Motorsports Crew Chief Jay Guy on Michigan:
"Racing on repaved racetracks always poses a challenge for us as crew chiefs. You don't really have anything to look at in terms of notes, because it is hard to anticipate how much the track is going to change. I think we are going to see some really fast lap times for the second week in a row. Our challenge will be to make adjustments as the track takes on more and more rubber throughout the weekend."
"The ARCA cars are racing at the same facility as us again this weekend. We saw at Pocono how much of a challenge it can be for the teams and drivers when the two rubber compounds work against each other. The track we qualified on at Pocono was slicker than anything we raced on in our five days there. Fortunately this weekend, the Nationwide cars qualify between the ARCA race and our qualifying session, so the laps they put on the track should help the overall grip level to improve by the time we go out."
This weekend, the Long John Silver's colors and 'We Speak Fish' tagline will once again return to the No. 38 Ford of David Gilliland. Gilliland will carry the familiar Front Row Motorsports colors for this weekend's Quicken Loans 400 at the Michigan International Speedway.
Gilliland comes into Michigan after having his best result on a non-plate race last weekend at Pocono. His 23rd-place finish not only gave him his fourth top-25 finish this season, but also positive momentum and team confidence. Gilliland has 11 career starts at the two-mile, Michigan oval, with a career best finish of 17th.
Comments from Long John Silver's driver David Gilliland Heading to Michigan:
"Our strong run at Pocono gives us a lot of encouragement heading into Michigan. Our team is running better every week and we are getting closer and closer of running in the top-25 on a consistent basis. Once we do that, I think we can run in the top-20 too. We're getting better at running smarter races, not making any major mistakes and improving as the race goes on. If we can keep doing that, we'll keep improving. We just need to put together a string of these results.
"Every time we run the Long John Silver's pain scheme, I always get a lot of comments from fans on how much they love the car. There are nine Long John Silver's stores within 50 miles of the track, so our guys have plenty of options to pick up one of their new $5.99 Thick-Cut Cod Baskets. Going out there a day early, our guys will have plenty of time to find one too.
"That extra day of testing will be important, just like it was at Pocono. Pocono was like a brand new track and I'm sure Michigan will be the same. We'll have to use that test day to get used to the new braking points and see if we can't get rubber on the track too. Hopefully we'll learn what we need to do to keep our momentum going."
Comments from Long John Silver's Crew Chief Pat Tryson on Michigan:
"Roush-Yates power has won a lot of races at Michigan and we hope to have another strong run for our No. 38 team in Ford's backyard. We had a good run at Pocono last weekend and are proving that our team is constantly improving. The test session will be important too. We'll use that day to learn what this track will now be like."
Robin Meade, host ofMorning Express with Robin Meade on HLN, will sing the National Anthem for the 54th annual Coke Zero 400 Powered By Coca-Cola NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race on Saturday, July 7 at Daytona International Speedway.
Roush Fenway Racing driver Carl Edwards extended the invitation to Meade onMorning Express with Robin Meade on Tuesday morning.
“Robin Meade is one of the most popular morning show hosts in America and we’re delighted to have her take part in the pre-race festivities for the Coke Zero 400 Powered By Coca-Cola,” Daytona International Speedway President Joie Chitwood III said. “With the thousands of race fans in attendance at the ‘World Center of Racing’ and millions more watching on TNT, we look forward to Robin’s rendition of the National Anthem.”
“Singing and race cars have long been a part of my life" says Meade, whose father spent years rebuilding and drag racing street cars on Ohio raceways. “I feel so at home around the roar of the engines and the enthusiastic NASCAR crowd, many of whom I count as part of HLN’s morning TV family! I feel so honored to perform the National Anthem at the Coke Zero 400 in front of the racing community and fans.”
Meade has anchored HLN’s coverage of such high profile stories as the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and the January 2009 inauguration of President Barack Obama.
In July of 2008, she scored the exclusive first interview with freed American hostages – at their request – after their release from Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC) captors. In June of 2009, Meade performed a tandem skydive with President George Herbert Walker Bush in Kennebunkport, Maine, to commemorate President Bush’s 85th birthday. Meade is also the face of HLN’s “Salute to Troops” segment, a daily message to U.S. troops using photos and videos sent in by their loved ones.
Meade’s debut country album, “Brand New Day,” was released in June 2011 to strong reviews. The album features original songs, many of which were co-written by Meade, as well as a cover of Don Henley’s “Dirty Laundry.” Meade collaborated with industry heavy-hitters like John Rich, American Idol’s Bo Bice, and producer/song writer Victoria Shaw (Lady Antebellum). “Brand New Day” reached #25 on iTunes its first week of release. In April, the album was re-released with bonus tracks, including the Beatles’ “Here Comes the Sun.”
Johnny Sauter earned the fifth victory of his career at Texas Motor Speedway on Friday night driving the No. 13 Hot Honeys Peanuts/Curb Records Toyota Tundra. Taking advantage of a late restart, Sauter was able to power through the field and position himself in second place behind teammate Matt Crafton. On Lap 146 of 167, Sauter passed Crafton for the lead and the win.
Texas Motor Speedway is a bit of a sore spot for the No. 13 team. Sauter said he feels vindicated winning after last years black-flag penalty that took away what would have been his first win at the track.
"Every win is special, first of all, I've been fortunate enough to win some very cool races in the truck series," Sauter said. "Your first win is always special, but this one is going to rank right up there with the start that we've had. You know last year was tough, that's definitely the toughest loss I've ever had. And to have a dominant truck, have a seven-second lead into the green/white checker and have a lane violation is just not the way you want to go out. But I haven't forgotten that, I promise you. I think about that all the time and it's hard not to think about coming back to the race track again because it's all everybody's talking about"... "so I was bound and determined not to make that mistake again."
"I would like to thank Mike Curb, Duke & Rhonda Thorson and Hot Honeys from The Peanut Roaster", commented Sauter. "Their continued support and the love of the truck series brought us to victory lane today."
Sauter led two times during the race for a total of 41 laps. He finished 2.101 seconds ahead of 2nd place finisher and teammate Matt Crafton. He is now 15th in the NCWTS Points Standings.
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.
White started the 167-lap event from the 13th position as a result of qualifying being rained out and the field set by the 2012 owner’s points. The early stages of the race saw White battle a loose condition on his No. 23 GunBroker.com Ford but great adjustments by crew chief Doug George as well as some excellent pit strategy had the Roush Yates powered Ford in the lead and running strong just past the halfway mark of the event. While running towards the front of the field, White suffered some damage to the right side of the nose of his No. 23 GunBroker.com Ford when a fellow competitor got loose and slid across the nose. The resulting damage would plague White for the remaining laps which resulted in the 17th place finish.
“Just another bad break for this team,” stated Jason White. “We battled the handling a little bit but the changes we made kept making the truck better and right there at the midway point of the race our truck was very good. We had one of the best trucks on the track at that point and then we received that damage and it just punched a hole in the right front and we fought being very tight at that point because of the damage. ”
Jason fell to 13th position in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series drivers’ standings – now 15 points out of the top-10.
“It is frustrating to have a fast truck every week and not have the results to show for it,” added Jason. “It just always seems to be something that jumps up and bites us. But this team will continue to grow and if we keep putting fast trucks on the track each week I am confident the results will start coming our way very soon.”
Jason and his GunBroker.com team will have a few weeks off before the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series returns to action on June 28th for the running of the UNOH 225 at Kentucky Speedway.
Jason White PR
Michigan Walmart Stores Offer NASCAR Driver Appearances, Authentic Merchandise, Fan Events Starting June 13
As Michigan prepares for the upcoming Quicken Loans 400, select Walmart stores will offer authentic NASCAR merchandise and host exclusive fan events starting June 13. Customers are invited to attend these special events and enjoy a special appearance by Brad Keselowski, along with show car and simulator displays – perfect to safely get behind the wheel and feel the power of NASCAR – June 13 -16 from 11 a.m. to 8 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 Shelly Lehman, market manager, Walmart. "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 Michigan International Speedway include:
Wednesday, June 13
Events free and open to the public include the Kingsford Ultimate Tailgate Truck, Wheaties Show Car, Hefty Show Car Simulator, Coors Light Show Car, Walmart's 50th Anniversary Show Car, Cheez-It Show Car Simulator, M&M's Show Car, Sim Pod and Trophy Display, 5-hour Energy Show Car, No. 24 Pepsi Max Show Car, No. 88 Diet Mountain Dew Show Car, Pennzoil No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil Dodge Charger, Coca-Cola 2-Seat Simulator and Oreo Ritz Show Car at:
800 E. Chicago St.
11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Thursday, June 14
Events free and open to the public include the Kingsford Ultimate Tailgate Truck, Wheaties Show Car, Hefty Show Car Simulator, Coors Light Show Car, Walmart's 50th Anniversary Show Car, Cheez-It Show Car Simulator, M&M's Show Car, Sim Pod and Trophy Display, 5-hour Energy Show Car, No. 24 Pepsi Max Show Car, No. 88 Diet Mountain Dew Show Car, Pennzoil No. 22 Dodge Charger, Coca-Cola 2-Seat Simulator and Oreo Ritz Show Car at:
701 Olds St.
11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Friday, June 15
Brad Keselowski Driver Appearance at 7 p.m.
Events free and open to the public include the Kingsford Ultimate Tailgate Truck, Wheaties Show Car, Hefty Show Car Simulator, Miller Lite Show Car, Walmart's 50th Anniversary Show Car, Cheez-It Show Car Simulator, M&M's Show Car, Sim Pod and Trophy Display, 5-hour Energy Show Car, No. 24 Pepsi Max Show Car, No. 88 Diet Mountain Dew Show Car, Pennzoil No. 22 Dodge Charger, Coca-Cola 2-Seat Simulator and Oreo Ritz Show Car at:
7000 E. Michigan Ave.
2 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Saturday, June 16
Events free and open to the public include the Kingsford Ultimate Tailgate Truck, Coca-Cola 2-Seat Simulator, Wheaties Show Car, M&M's Show Car, Sim Pod and Trophy Display, Walmart's 50th Anniversary Show Car and Miller Lite Show Car at:
1700 W. Michigan Ave.
8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
Events free and open to the public include the Pennzoil No. 22 Dodge Charger, Cheez-It Show Car Simulator, Hefty Show Car Simulator, Coors Light Show Car, No. 24 Pepsi Max Show Car, No. 88 Diet Mountain Dew Show Car, Oreo Ritz Show Car and 5-hour Energy Show Car at:
1601 U.S. 223
10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
The Pick-n-Pull Racing to Stop Hunger 200 will pit some of the top drivers in the NASCAR Pro Series West in a battle for bragging rights at the road course in Sonoma, June 22-23, during the Toyota/Save Mart 350 weekend.
The 2012 season is shaping up to be one of the most challenging in the 59-year history of the NASCAR Pro Series West, as drivers compete on a 15-race schedule that features 13 venues in 10 states and includes three inaugural events.
Piloting the two Pick-n-Pull Chevrolets are No. 25 David Gilliland, a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series regular and 2007 race winner, as well as Hayward’s Jessica Brunelli, who will drive the No. 88 car.
The competition features an interesting mix between veterans of the series and talented newcomers.
The spotlight shines brightly on current point leader Dylan Kwasniewski, who is coming off a record-setting season as a rookie. The 17-year old Las Vegas native has posted two victories and seven top-five finishes so far this season, and shows no sign of slowing down. He became the first 15-year-old to compete in the series when he made his debut in April of 2011, driving the No. 03 Rockstar/Royal Purple Ford to a fourth-place finish at All American Speedway in Roseville. At 16, Kwasniewski celebrated with his first series win and became the youngest winner in the history of the NASCAR Pro Series West. Kwasniewski capped his season off by becoming the youngest driver in the series to win the Sunoco Rookie of the Year Award.
One of Kwasniewski’s biggest competitors this year is teammate Greg Pursley; who dominated the competition in the first half of 2011 en route to winning the series championship. Pursley, a 44-year-old from Southern California who now lives in Parker, Ariz., drives the No. 26 Gene Price Motorsports/Star Nursery Ford. He won six of the first eight races in 2011.
Not to be overlooked in the title hunt this year is three-time series champion Eric Holmes of Escalon. The driver of the No. 20 NAPA Toyota for Bill McAnally Racing rebounded from early troubles last year to score two consecutive wins late in the season and finish second in the championship standings. With that comeback, Holmes maintained his streak of finishing first or second in points in his five full seasons of series competition. And with his three titles coming in even number years, the 37-year-old will be attempting to continue the trend this year.
A long-time series veteran who continues on the circuit this season is Jack Sellers of Sacramento. The driver of the No. 15 Bay Bio Diesel Chevrolet holds the record for the most starts in the modern era of the series.
In addition to its regular competitors, the series attracts a contingent of road-race specialists each year at its road course events. Last year, NASCAR Sprint Cup Series regular Joey Logano held off Gilliland in a battle of NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers with West Series roots to win the Saturday feature. Be sure to be in your seat this Saturday when the 64-lap feature goes green at 12:45 p.m.
Sonoma Raceway PR
Through a small-team, one-race alliance, David Reutimann drove the No. 51 Phoenix Racing Chevrolet, and Dave Blaney shifted to the driver’s seat of the No. 10 Chevrolet for Tommy Baldwin Racing at Pocono Raceway this weekend. Blaney started 42nd and drove to a 25th-place finish in the Pocono 400 presented by #NASCAR.
Blaney and the TBR team utilized two test days and two practice sessions to get acquainted with the new pavement at the 2.5-mile track. Blaney posted the 42nd-fastest lap in qualifying as he struggled with an extremely loose racecar.
Blaney took the green flag of the Pocono 400 presented by #NASCAR from the outside of row 21 and drove into the 28th position by lap 10. He radioed that the Chevrolet was loose, especially in the entry and center of the corner. The second caution of the day on lap 15, called for a three-car incident in turn three, allowed the team to make their first pit stop. The team changed four tires and made a trackbar adjustment.
Blaney returned to the track in the 26th spot. The adjustment made the car tight, mainly through turn three. On lap 43, the Hartford, Ohio native made his first green flag pit stop. The TBR team made another four-tire stop and trackbar adjustment. While 10 cars received speeding penalties during the round of green-flag pit stops, Blaney did not speed and held onto the 26th position. By lap 58, he radioed that the Chevrolet felt good in turns one and two but was too tight in three.
A single car incident in turn two brought out the caution on lap 67 with the No. 10 Chevrolet in the lucky dog position. The team utilized the caution period to make four-tire pit stop with a wedge adjustment to fix the tight condition in turn three. Blaney restarted in the 23rd position on lap 72. Three laps later, debris in turn one brought out the fourth caution of the event. Crew Chief Ryan Pemberton called Blaney down pit road for fuel only during the caution and topped off the fuel with one lap to go. The No. 10 Chevrolet restarted 27th on lap 83.
Eight laps into the green flag run, Blaney radioed that something may have broke in the car and explained that he heard something popping. By lap 100, he told the crew that the Chevrolet was loose but tight in the center of the corner. He continued that the balance was completely different than before. On lap 107, Pemberton called his driver down pit road for a green-flag pit stop. The team changed four tires and made a trackbar and wedge adjustment.
When he returned to the track, Blaney was turning his best laps of the day. By lap 123, he told the crew that they needed an adjustment to make the car freer. NASCAR Officials called another caution for debris on lap 125, and the TBR team pit for four tires and a trackbar adjustment. The field went back to green-flag racing on lap 129 with Blaney in the 25th position. He held onto the position until a one-car incident brought out the caution on lap 138.
Pemberton called the No. 10 Chevrolet down pit road for a four-tire pit stop and a trackbar and air pressure adjustment to help the car on restarts. Blaney restarted in the 24th position on lap 144. Debris in turn two brought out the final caution on lap 150. The team made their final pit stop of the 160-lap race. They changed four tires and made an air pressure adjustment.
Blaney restarted in 27th place on lap 153. He wheeled the car up to the 25th position in the final seven laps of the event.
The No. 10 team is now 32nd in NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) Owner Points and locked into the top-35 by 71 points. The team is 27 points behind the No. 93 and ahead of the No. 32 by 12 points. Blaney is 33rd in NSCS Driver Points. He is six points behind teammate David Reutimann and four points ahead of Landon Cassill.
“The guys worked hard all week to dial the car in on the new pavement,” said Blaney. “We had an issue in qualifying but bounced back quickly in the race. A 25th-place finish is a solid finish and will hopefully give us some momentum for Michigan.”