Speedway Digest Staff
Follow us on Twitter @SpeedwayDigest
NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) driver Bryan Silas and wife Misty welcomed their newest addition to the T3R Racing family Tuesday afternoon.
Yesterday (June 26), the couple welcomed their second child, a healthy baby boy to the family. Braydon Walter Lee Silas was delivered at 2:55 p.m., Eastern weighing in at nine pounds, seven ounces. Both mother and the newborn are doing very well and resting comfortably in a local Stuart, Florida hospital.
This is the couple’s second child as they have an older son, Landon Paul Silas who was born on Tuesday, July 13, 2010. Ironically, T3R team manager and Silas’s uncle Chris Baluch also celebrated his birthday yesterday – truly making it a family affair.
Silas will compete in Thursday’s activities at Kentucky Speedway and drive the No. 99 Rockingham Speedway Ford F-150 in the UNOH 225.
After two consecutive Sprint Cup Series events where late-race incidents sent Regan Smith spiraling down the finishing order, the Furniture Row Racing driver will be aiming to snap the jinx and close the deal in Saturday night's Quaker State 400 at Kentucky Speedway.
Two weeks ago in Michigan a flat tire with fewer than 10 laps remaining spoiled a solid run for Smith, and in the following race at the road course in Sonoma, Calif., Smith was involved in a final-lap multicar wreck. His finishes were 28th in Michigan and 32nd in Sonoma.
"The last two race results have been awfully disappointing, but we are determined to change that in Kentucky," said a resolute Smith. "Our Furniture Row Racing team is in need of a performance lift."
The good news for Smith, who will be driving the No. 78 Furniture Row/CSX Play it Safe Chevrolet in Kentucky, is that he is going to what he calls a "comfort zone venue."
"I've always enjoyed racing at Kentucky," stated Smith. "It's a track I feel very comfortable competing on.
I recall being on the pole for a Nationwide race there (in 2007) and had a shot at winning until a fuel issue halted our march to victory lane."
Last year in the inaugural Sprint Cup Series race at the 1.5-mile Kentucky Speedway, Smith qualified 12th and finished 17th. The result had the potential of being better, but an untimely caution after making a green flag pit stop in the late stages of the race stalled Smith's charge to the front.
"We had a decent run last year and know that we can improve upon that 17th-place finish," noted Smith. "And considering what we've been through the past few weeks, I am looking forward to getting back to a mile-and-a-half track.
"We haven't had the rhythm lately and that has cost us in both performance and points. We need to click for the entire race and bring home a strong finishing result. We have the potential, it's a matter of completing the mission."
Smith's uniform and the rear bumper of his No. 78 Chevrolet will again carry the "I Brake for Trains." message. The message is part of CSX Transportation Play it Safe campaign to urge pedestrians and motorists to exercise caution around railroad crossings.
On Friday, President Barack Obama’s campaign respectfully declined New Hampshire Motor Speedway executive vice president and general manager Jerry Gappens’ invitation to attend next month’s LENOX Industrial Tools 301. Today, Gappens is putting four tickets earmarked for the president up to highest bidder.
With all proceeds benefiting the Speedway Children’s Charities, Gappens is starting the bidding at $100 for the (4) tickets located in Section H, Row 44 of the Main Grandstand, a prime location to view the top stars of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series on July 15. Each exclusive ticket has a face value of $110 and has President Obama’s name and address at the White House printed on them.
The auction will run from Wednesday, June 27 through Friday, July 6, and can be found at www.gospeedway.com/auctions/nhms/index.asp
“It’s the largest sporting event in New England, so it goes without saying we would have liked to have Mr. Obama join us for such a prestigious event,” says Gappens. “Instead of tossing these tickets aside we’re going to put the tickets to use to benefit Speedway Children’s Charities. This also creates an opportunity for someone to bid on a very unique set of tickets that provide a view of the race fit for the president.”
Gappens had hoped President Obama might stop by the speedway while he was in New Hampshire today on a campaign visit. On Friday, Obama’s campaign released an official statement from the office of New Hampshire State Director Pete Kavanaugh, indicating that while they did “appreciate the offer” … “the president will not be able to attend the race.”
A famous author once said you can never go home again, but Michael Waltrip plans to do just that this weekend at Kentucky Speedway.
And it won’t be anything low key.
The 49-year-old Owensboro, Ky. native will wear the blue and white of his beloved University of Kentucky Wildcats. The two-time Daytona 500 champion will honor the 2012 NCAA basketball champions as he seeks his first Sprint Cup start in front of his home state fans.
Waltrip enjoys many roles in NASCAR. He’s a television commentator for Fox and SPEED-TV broadcasts, a part-time Sprint Cup driver and co-owner of Michael Waltrip Racing that won last weekend’s race on the Sonoma road course with driver Clint Bowyer. All three MWR teams are in the top 12 in owner points.
WALTRIP ON UK: “I have been a UK (University of Kentucky) fan ever since I was a kid. I grew up in Owensboro watching UK basketball. They would always show it tape delayed after the 10:30 p.m. newscast. I was fortunate to go to several games in my life. Clint Bowyer and I even went to the national championship game in New Orleans when they beat Kansas. I will have to say, it’s really cool for a Kentucky guy to have UK on my car racing in Kentucky.”
PART-TIME SCHEDULE: My schedule is really cool. I get to race on the tracks that I love (Kentucky, Daytona, Talladega). Kentucky was one of the races that I really wanted on my schedule. I know my name is on the building but the No. 55 really belongs to Mark Martin. It’s was really nice of Mark to let me drive this race. We will go to Kentucky and get the best finish we can get. I am honored to have the UK logos on my Aaron’s Toyota.
WALTRIP ON MWR: “I will never forget back in 2005 when I was driving for Dale Earnhardt, Inc. and I thought life was great, Toyota came to me and said we are going Cup racing, why don't you join us? I thought, well, that would be fun and give me something else to do. So, we started and golly it's been so fun to have that relationship. Think about NAPA, they have been around since 2001 and Aaron's since 2000. It's because we are friends, we are buddies, that we do this together. Since 2005 with Toyota as well. Those type of partnerships and relationships are the only reason why I'm still in business today. It took us a while to get cars like we have now and the strategy and the philosophy to race the way we are now. I'm just eternally grateful Toyota gave us the time needed to be successful. To sit in Sonoma as winners of that event, and more than that, just contenders week-in-and-week-out is amazing. We are very grateful and very thankful team.”
As a native of the basketball-loving Hoosier state, Ryan Newman knows the importance of a rebound. When the game is on the line, a key-timed rebound could change the whole complexion of the game and put a team back in contention for the win.
As the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series heads to the home state of the NCAA men’s basketball national-champion Kentucky Wildcats for Saturday night’s Kentucky 400 at Kentucky Speedway in Sparta, it seems appropriate that a rebound should be the name of the game for this Hoosier who grew up both playing hoops and racing.
Newman is 13th in the driver standings, 143 points behind leader Matt Kenseth, and he has one win to his credit at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway on April Fools’ Day. But it has been three months since he had his last top-10 finish in a points-paying race.
In the last 10 races, Newman has had one DNF (did not finish) and five top-15 finishes, but none higher than 12th place.
While Newman admits the recent string of finishes outside the top-10 has been frustrating, he’s also quick to say his team is capable of turning its fortunes around and getting the No. 39 Tornados Chevrolet back into the top-10 on the racetrack and in the standings.
Just like in a basketball game, all the team needs is to huddle up, take a deep breath, refocus and get back to the basics – shoot, score, rebound. Or, in racing terms, qualify well, run up front and contend for the race win.
Saturday night’s race at Kentucky could be just the place for the No. 39 squad to do just that. Newman has a solid history at the 1.5-mile oval in the Bluegrass State.
In August 2000, in just his third stock-car start, Newman scored his first-ever stock-car pole in the ARCA series race at Kentucky. He dominated that event, leading 83 of 134 laps, and won by almost a full second to score his second consecutive ARCA victory.
Then, in last season’s inaugural Sprint Cup race at the Kentucky oval, Newman finished a strong fourth.
While the game – rather, the Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship – isn’t on the line just yet for Newman and his No. 39 team, it’s time to get back into the top-10. So, for this Hoosier, the goal for Saturday’s Kentucky race is to summon some of his home state’s basketball-loving skills, rebound from his recent performances and turn the tide back around for the No. 39 Tornados team.
It is not a stretch to say that the blue featured on Jimmie Johnson’s No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet has some championships associated with it. That blue is, of course, the iconic blue associated with primary sponsor Lowe’s. However, there may be some crossover basketball fans who claim otherwise this weekend when the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series visits Kentucky Speedway in Sparta.
That’s because blue is also associated with the University of Kentucky Wildcats, who won the 2012 NCAA men’s national basketball title by defeating the University of Kansas Jayhawks, who are also associated with blue and national championships.
Championships aside, race fans, no matter where they are from, will get a chance to see the iconic Lowe’s blue Chevrolet in action at the 1.5-mile tri-oval. This time, however, it’s with a somewhat different look. The base color for Johnson’s car this weekend is called “Dover White” with blue racing stripes. It’s the second in a series of new color combinations for the No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet in a tribute to the American muscle car. Johnson ran a “Mountain Green” paint scheme at Kansas in April. These special schemes play off the primary paint schemes for the Lowe’s and Kobalt Tools cars that were inspired by the first-generation Chevy Camaros with racing stripes.
While the new scheme is sure to be popular with the Kentucky-area fans, Johnson is hoping the result is much like the one the Wildcats enjoyed the first Monday in April – a win. It would take him one step closer to one of his goals, winning at every track on the Sprint Cup circuit. Kentucky is one of five tracks where Johnson has failed to visit victory lane. Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Ill., Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International and Homestead-Miami Speedway are the others.
The five-time Sprint Cup champion did come close during the series’ first visit to Kentucky in 2011, when he earned a solid third-place run. He says he is looking forward to his second visit to the “bumpy, rough” track. And while adding to his current run of five top-five finishes in six races or, better yet, a visit to victory lane, if possible, fans of the No. 48 car will have to wait until November to see if the Lowe’s blue turns out to be championship blue once again this year.
Ghoulies and ghosties and long-leggedy beasties aren’t the only things that go bump in the night. Kentucky Speedway in Sparta also is home to things that go bump in the night, namely, 43 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers thundering over the bumps that cover the surface of the 1.5-mile oval.
All tracks have character – subtle undulations and grooves that set it apart from its counterparts. But Kentucky’s surface is the X-Games of paved tracks – edgy and in-your-face. There is no avoiding the bumps. Navigate them wrong, and they’ll make you a part of a spark-filled highlight reel.
Saturday night’s 400-mile Sprint Cup race at Kentucky marks only the second time NASCAR’s elite series has competed at the track, for it joined the Sprint Cup schedule last year. As such, it is just one of two tracks where Tony Stewart, driver of the No. 14 Office Depot/Mobil 1 Chevrolet for Stewart-Haas Racing, is winless in Sprint Cup competition. The other is Darlington (S.C.) Raceway, the oldest track on the Sprint Cup schedule.
Stewart would like nothing more than to cross Kentucky off his to-do list, as he did earlier this year when he won at the 1.5-mile Las Vegas Motor Speedway to secure his first win at a track that for 13 previous years had eluded him. Ironically, Stewart’s considers Kentucky to be a bumpier version of Las Vegas.
That outlook, combined with the confidence from his recent hot streak of three top-three finishes in the last three Sprint Cup races – including back-to-back second-place results at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn and the road course in Sonoma, Calif., that have vaulted Stewart to fifth in points – makes the three-time and reigning Sprint Cup champion more than capable of bumping his way into Kentucky’s victory lane on Saturday night.
Fireworks Extravaganza to Have a New Patriotic Twist for the 54th Annual Coke Zero 400 Powered By Coca-Cola
Fireworks By Santore is adding a new twist to the largest fireworks show in the Southeast, which takes place immediately following the conclusion of the 54th annual Coke Zero 400 Powered By Coca-Cola NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race on Saturday night, July 7.
During the 15-minute show that will illuminate the sky above Daytona International Speedway, Fireworks By Santore will use specially developed shells to produce the letters “U S A” high above the speedway. The show will be shot from 16 different locations spread across the infield along the Superstretch.
To put together the largest fireworks show in the Southeast, Fireworks by Santore uses:
n Shells ranging in size from 1” to 8”
n 10,000+ lbs of explosive powder
n 11,000 individual explosions
The types of shells range from the more traditional such as Chrysanthemum, Peonies, Dahlias, Willows and Salutes to specialty shells such as, Smiley Faces, Star Patterns, Double Rings, 4 Color Changing, Shell of Shells, Crossettes, Strobing Diadems, Twilight Glitters and vibrant new pastel colors.
The finale will last for approximately one minute, 30 seconds and will have over 2,000 individual pieces. The show uses enough control wire to wrap a lap around the legendary 2.5-mile tri-oval.
The Saturday night's Quaker State 400 was not on the original schedule for driver Scott Speed and Leavine Family Racing (LFR) - at least until the team noticed his record there.
While Saturday's race will be the first in his NASCAR career, Speed has two starts at the 1.5-mile raceway in the ARCA Racing Series. One of those resulted in a second place finish; the other was a victory.
"We attempted to race last year at Kentucky but qualifying was rained out," crew chief Wally Rogers said. "We really looked forward to that race and we were sent home without a chance to even compete for a spot in the starting lineup."
"Kentucky wasn't on our original limited schedule until we saw Scott's ARCA record there. That's why we decided to add this to our part-time schedule."
Speed started seventh and finished second there in 2008 in the first of two races that year for the ARCA Racing Series. He came back two months later to start sixth and claim victory.
"Obviously I like Kentucky," Speed said. "I really adapted to that track from the start. I think a lot of that track synergy and confidence will carry over to our No. 95 Leavine Family Racing Ford. This track really seems to suit me."
Leavine Family Racing added Kentucky to its limited schedule following a team-best 25th-place finish last week at Sonoma, Calif. If not for a spark plug wire that became dislodged on the first lap, Speed said he believes the car was good enough to contend for a Top 10 finish.
Now he's going back to a track where he's already found a lot of success.
"There's a difference between ARCA and the Sprint Cup Series, but some things certainly carry over," Speed said. "You have the same marks; you run the same lines. I know I'll be able to pick right up where I left off four years ago."
After two weeks away from the racetrack and some relaxing time with friends and family; NASCAR rookie driver Ross Chastain heads to the Kentucky Speedway for a rare Thursday night race in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series UNOH 225. It will be the first of two events at Kentucky for the NCWTS in 2012.
Last October Chastain started twenty-third and finished twenty-second at Kentucky completing 147 of the 150 laps and the nineteen year-old from Florida is looking for a much better finish at the mile and a half speedway just outside of Cincinnati.
“Hopefully we’ll run better than last time, I know what not to do there now!” Chastain said with a chuckle. “The bumps pushed me down into the apron. It was already loose when I hit the bumps and that got me a little sideways and then the left front tire hit the apron and shot me back up. It was a learning experience and I hope not to do that again!”
Another agricultural organization will support the Chastain’s No. 08 Toyota Thursday at Kentucky as the South Carolina Watermelon Association has stepped-up to sponsor the SS Green Light team. Once again the National Watermelon Promotion Board is on the rear quarters. Multicorr, a full service corrugated sheet feeder located in Louisville, Kentucky has also joined as an associate for the UNOH 225. One of Multicorr’s products is triplewall bulk packaging for agricultural and industrial applications.
The Sunoco Rookie of the Year candidate has moved from twenty-fifth to eighteenth in the NCWTS point standing over the last two races after a series of mechanical set-backs dropped Chastain from the top-fifteen in the standings.
“Our goal this week is to definitely finish in the top-ten, we just need a few things to go our way. We’re bringing the Toyota we last ran at Rockingham and Bryan and the guys have worked real hard so hopefully we’ll have a better showing than we did there.”
The UNOH is the 278th consecutive NCWTS start for the SS Green Light Racing team and the thirteenth career start for Chastain in the Truck Series. He has an average starting spot of 22.8 and an average finish of 21.2 including two top-ten finishes in his twelve previous starts.
There are 43 trucks on the entry list for the UNOH 225, which will prelude both Friday’s Nationwide and Saturday’s Sprint Cup races at Kentucky Speedway. Johnny Chapman will pilot the No. 07 for SS Green Light Racing.
Following Thursday night’s race Ross and several of the beautiful Watermelon Queens will be meeting race fans on Friday and Saturday at area Sam’s Club stores sampling delicious watermelon and signing autographs.
SS Green Light Racing PR