Speedway Digest Staff
Follow us on Twitter @SpeedwayDigest
Full Stable...For the first time since Bristol Motor Speedway, Turner Scott Motorsports (TSM) will have all five NASCAR K&N Pro Series East (NKNPSE) entries in competition at Richmond International Raceway (RIR). TSM will have all five entries again at Iowa Speedway on June 7th.
Quick Start...TSM is off to a fast start this season, with Kwasniewski winning the season-opener at Bristol and Ruston scoring back-to-back top-five finishes in the last two NKNPSE races. Kwasniewski and Ruston currently sit inside the top five in the point standings, in second and fourth, respectively.
Now Appearing...TSM drivers Austin Dyne, Ben Rhodes, Brandon Jones, Dylan Kwasniewski and Kenzie Ruston will be at the NKNPSE autograph session on Thursday afternoon in the fan midway at 3:00 pm EDT. Stop by to say hello and get an autograph from the stars of tomorrow.
Austin Dyne...Two weeks ago, Dyne traveled to the half-mile oval at Five Flags for his first ever visit to the Speedway. After suffering a broke radio antenna early in the race, Dyne had to rely on his skills to get through the 150 laps. Dyne will cut his teeth at another new track this week as he makes his first visit to the .75-mile Richmond International Raceway on Thursday.
"After a weekend off, I am glad to be getting back to the track with my Turner Scott Motorsports team. I have never raced at Richmond, but I have heard it is a really fun track, so I am looking forward to hitting in the track in our No. 99 KMC Wheels Chevrolet."
Ben Rhodes...Only running a partial season in the NKNPSE, Rhodes will make his second start of the season this week at Richmond International Raceway. Rhodes is the lone driver in the TSM stable that has previously turned laps around the .75-mile oval. Although this weekend is only Rhode's second start in the NKNPSE, he has been staying busy racing in the UARA series, where in Rockingham he finished in the runner up spot. After competing in the Blue Ox 100, Rhodes will jump in a late model to run in the Denny Hamlin Short Track Showdown.
"The Turner Scott Motorsports team has been working hard since Bristol to get our primary car fixed and ready for Richmond," said Rhodes. "I really wish we had that car for the Bristol race because we think we could have been up front at the end. But, things happen and that was then. We are focused on being up front at Richmond."
Brandon Jones...Jones will make his second of seven starts of the NKNPSE season this week at the short track. The last time out for Jones resulted in a disppointing finish when he got tangled up in a accident just past the half-way mark in Bristol. Jones will make his first start at Richmond this week. In addition to his NKNPSE races, Jones will also run full time in the UARA series for Turner Scott Motorsports.
"I'm really excited for my return to the K&N series this weekend. Our team has been having some success in the late model ranks that I feel like we can translate to over to the K&N series. We had a great run at Rockingham a couple weeks ago, and I feel like I learned a lot that I can use what I learned from running there and translate it over to Richmond."
Dylan Kwasniewski...Dylan Kwasniewski headed into Five Flags Speedway with never turning any laps at the track until the open test session on the day before the race. After a less than stellar qualifying effort, Kwasniewski made a charge to the front of the field and captured his second top 10 of the 2013 season.
"Like most of my teammates, I've never raced at Richmond. However, I feel confident that my Royal Purple/Rockstar Energy Drink team and I will be able to quickly learn the track and be a contender in Thursday night's race."
Kenzie Ruston...After a stellar start to her rookie season in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series ranks, Ruston went to a track that she was familiar with, Five Flags Speedway. With a great qualifying effort, Ruston saved her tires until late in the race and made a run to the front of the pack. In the process, Ruston was able to pick up her second top-five finish of the early 2013 season. Ruston will head into Richmond this weekend and will turn her first laps around the .75-mile oval.
"I'm really looking forward to Richmond this coming weekend. I've seen it on TV, and I'm looking forward to being able to drive it. Our team has been on a roll, and I feel like we are really close to getting our first win of the season. I have a lot of confidence in our AccuDoc Solutions team."
The Toyota Care 250 on Friday, April 26th will mark the second start for Landon Cassill with JD Motorsports. After an inspiring run that was cut short due to engine failure at Texas, the team is looking to rebound at Richmond. Cassill will again drive the No. 4 Flex Seal Chevrolet as he hopes to lock the team back into the all important top-35 in owner’s points.
This race will be the fifth start for Cassill at Richmond in the Nationwide Series, but the young driver also has five starts in the Sprint Cup Series to draw from. His experience coupled with the same racecar from Texas should leave the team at the top of the charts for the second weekend in a row.
Bringing chassis JDM 014 from Texas will help Cassill and the team transition their equipment from the 1.5 mile speedway to the .75 mile short track in Virginia. Cassill provided great feedback on the car, leading to the decision by the crew to bring it back after being refreshed between races.
Although suffering from a blown motor at Texas, Cassill piloted the car into the top-15 early on, and remained there until the cockpit filled with smoke requiring him to take the No. 4 Flex Seal Chevy behind the wall.
Landon Cassill Quotes: “After a encouraging weekend at Texas, I can’t wait to jump back in the No. 4 Flex Seal Chevy at Richmond. We had good speed all week, but the motor blowing was a real bummer. Hopefully we can repeat our good run and make it to the finish here. Richmond is a fun track; it is a short track with a lot of speed. I think we can run up towards the front again.”
JD Motorsports PR
Following another off-week for the NASCAR Nationwide Series, Mike Wallace and the No. 01 S.B. Ballard Construction Team return to action this Friday, April 26th. After a good run in Texas, the team will look to finish in the top-25 for the fourth weekend in a row at Richmond.
The Marc Browning led team will utilize chassis JDM 009, which last competed at Phoenix International Raceway earlier this year. At Phoenix, the car immediately moved into the top-20 at the start of the race, but was caught up in a wreck suffering front end damage. Although the crash ended any hope for a good run, the car itself has been refreshed and repaired for Richmond.
The .75 mile track is equally fast as it is tight and often considered to have both short track and intermediate track qualities. In 2012, the team finished both races in the top-25. In addition to the fast speeds and sharp corners, the race will be run under the lights, adding intensity as the Nationwide Series regulars fight for positions against a large field of Sprint Cup drivers.
After success at Texas, the team has locked itself into the race at Richmond, allowing the team the entire practice session to work on race trim. With another good run at Richmond, the veteran Wallace will look to move up in the driver’s points standings, breaking into the top 20.
Joining the team will be SB Ballard Construction, a commercial builder with offices in Richmond and Virginia Beach, Va. who has been in business for 34 years. Today, S.B. Ballard provides pre-construction services, general contracting, construction management, design build, and concrete contracting services to an extensive list of clients throughout the Southeast.
Mike Wallace Quotes: “Richmond is always a fun race. The track is fast, but also short, and running under the lights adds excitement. We have put together a couple good runs now so I hope we can continue with that momentum at Richmond. The key is to make clean stops and stay on the lead lap. I know this team can continue to get better, especially after some bad luck early in the year. I am thankful to have my friend Steve Ballard supporting us again, and hope to run well.”
JD Motorsports PR
There aren't many tracks as dynamic as Richmond International Raceway. The .75-mile oval has everything a race fan wants. Whether it's short-track bumping and banging, or high-speed, side-by-side racing, Richmond has it all. It's no wonder that fans and drivers alike look forward to racing at the .75-mile oval. Michael McDowell, driver of the No. 00 Toyota, is excited to go racing again with SR2 Motorsports and compete under the lights in Friday's ToyotaCare 250.
McDowell has four Nationwide Series starts at Richmond. He's started inside the top 25 three times and posted two top-20 finishes. His best finish is eighth place, which he scored in 2008.
Michael McDowell discusses racing at Richmond:
"Richmond is such a cool place. It's tough to beat it. It may be a short track, but it's got lots of speed on the straightaways. There's also a lot of room to move around and find the right line for your car. You'll see guys moving all over the track to find the groove that works best. Some will be riding high, some will be riding down low.
"It's under the lights, too, which is always cool. I can see why the fans like night races so much. The action just looks so much cooler when the lights are shining down. As a driver, the night conditions mean more consistency in the track temperature. Once the sun sets, things don't change too much and it's a little easier to make adjustments on the car.
"It's not hard to get into trouble at Richmond. Things happen pretty quick there. It's when you aren't paying attention or you start bumping and banging, that's when accidents happen. You have to stay focused and keep a cool head if you want to make to the checkered flag."
SR2 Motorsports PR
After a week off from Nationwide Series competition, Blake Koch is ready to go racing. He's pumped to get behind the wheel of his No. 24 Toyota and test his skills at Richmond International Raceway. Known as the "Action Track," the .75-mile oval has characteristics of a short track and a superspeedway. Koch loves the combination and looks forward to seeing the sparks fly in Friday night's ToyotaCare 250.
Koch has four Nationwide Series starts at Richmond. His best finish is 27th place, which he scored in both 2011 events.
Koch discusses racing at Richmond:
"Richmond is definitely a popular track among the drivers. I think everyone likes it so much because it has the excitement of a short track. There's lots of side-by-side action, really tight racing. At the same time, it's a wide track. There are a few good grooves, so you can search and find the line that works best for your car. It's really the best of both worlds. You get the speed and multiple grooves of a big track, and you get the close, bumper-to-bumper action of a short track. It's no wonder that the fans and drivers love going there.
"There aren't many tracks like Richmond. It's a really unique place. I think one of the best comparisons is Phoenix. That's good news for us because one of best performances was at Phoenix. Hopefully we'll get a similar result this weekend.
"After a week off, it's always nice to go racing. It was a relaxing break, but I'm looking forward to hitting the track again. We've put a lot of focus on our short track program and I know it's a venue that we can shine at."
SR2 Motorsports PR
The NASCAR Nationwide Series (NNS) returns to action this weekend at Richmond International Raceway (RIR) after a one week break. The 250-lap race will be the second consecutive night race of the season for the series. With just seven races into the 2013 season, it is the third time that the NNS teams will visit a track that is less than a mile in distance. After coming off a top-15 finish at the one-and-a-half mile Texas Motor Speedway, Reed Sorenson is ready to return to his roots of short-track racing.
The Peachtree City, GA native has nine NNS starts at RIR, accumulating two top-five and six top-10 finishes. His best start is second (2010) and best finish is fifth (2010, 2006) with an average start of 11.6 and average finish of 13.3.
As an organization, Richard Petty Motorsports' young NNS team has 10 starts at tracks less than a mile from 2012 and 2013. The team's average finish is 9.4 with two top-fives and seven top-10s. Their best finish of fourth-place came at the fall race at Iowa Speedway in 2012 with driver Michael Annett.
Comments from the No. 43 Flying J Travel Plaza Ford Mustang driver Reed Sorenson:
"We've had a few weekends off recently, and I'm just ready to get back to racing, especially on a short track which is what I grew up racing. Richmond is one of my favorite short tracks, you can't really compare it to Bristol and even Phoenix. It has its own uniqueness to it. The pavement is old enough that there is a big difference between old and new tires and the tire fall off usually results in some pretty good racing."
Comments from Crew Chief Philippe Lopez on Richmond:
"I feel pretty good about our short track program, this year we finished ninth at Phoenix with Aric (Almirola) in the car. We had some success at Richmond last year, finishing fifth and eighth with Michael (Annett), so I think we're on track for some good results this weekend.
"We're going to use the three-hour practice on Thursday as an R&D session to make sure what we have works and then try some new things and rule out anything that doesn't work. Friday is when we'll get everything dialed-in for the race to hopefully continue our streak at Richmond."
Driver Jerick Johnson and the No. 30 KOMA Unwind Chevrolet will make their second start of the 2013 season Saturday night in the "Racing Radios 125" Southern Super Series Late Model race at Gresham Motorsports Park in Jefferson, Ga.
With a new engine installed under the hood after problems in the season-opener at Southern National Motorsports Park two weeks ago, Johnson said the team has set high goals for Saturday night.
"The KOMA Unwind Chevrolet was fast at Southern National," said Johnson. "Fast enough for a Top-5 finish, I believe. So our goal for Saturday night is to bring home a Top-5, or maybe even a podium finish. I know the car is capable of it, and crew chief Jim Gallison, Jr., has made some additional changes that should make us better in both qualifying and the race.
Time trial qualifying for the Southern Super Series Super Late Models will take place at 5:30 pm, with all cars impounded after qualifying. A special, on-track driver autograph session will take place immediately after qualifying is complete, with Opening Ceremonies at 6:35 and Feature Events beginning at 6:45. The Southern Super Series Late Models will be joined on the card by Gresham's weekly Mini Stock, Sportsman/Renegade, Truck and Outlaw Late Model divisions.
140 BUZZ PR
Rev Racing is set to race at Richmond International Raceway (RIR) on Thursday, April 25th, after a weekend of career highs for both Mackena Bell and Bryan Ortiz the last time out at Five Flags Speedway. The Blue Ox 100 at RIR will be the fourth stop on the 2013 NASCAR K&N Pro Series (NKNPS) East schedule.
Ryan Gifford (No. 2 Sunoco/NASCAR Technical Institute Toyota) – Gifford had a chance to capture his first win at RIR last season, where he was one of only two race leaders. He’s raced twice at the track, where he has ninth and fifth place qualifying efforts. Gifford is currently tied for sixth in the series point’s standings.
Bryan Ortiz (No. 4 Nike Toyota) – Ortiz hopes to carry momentum with him from Pensacola, where he managed a career-high qualifying effort of fifth, to Richmond this weekend. Ortiz raced at RIR last season where he qualified 16th and maneuvered his way through the pack to finish seventh.
Daniel Suarez (No. 6 Rev Racing Toyota) – Suarez is doing double duty this season, racing in both the NKNPS East and the NASCAR Toyota Series in Mexico. He’s coming back from a strong race weekend in Queretaro, Mexico where he earned the pole and finished fourth. This will be Suarez’s third start at RIR.
Mackena Bell (No. 21 Toyota Racing Development Toyota) – Bell is also coming off a career-high weekend at Five Flags Speedway where she finished 11th. She was the fastest car during the first practice session at Pensacola, and although this will be her first time racing at RIR, she’s continued to show improvement at each race this season.
All four drivers will be participating in Education Day presented by RIR on Thursday, April 25th, and will be making an appearance at the Toyota Pit Pass display on Friday, April 26th at 11:00 a.m. ET.
There will be a pre-race autograph session at 3 p.m. followed by qualifying at 4:30 p.m. and the green flag at 7 p.m. ET. The race will be aired on SPEED on May 16th at 3 p.m. ET. For updates throughout the weekend follow @RevRacin on twitter.
Rev Racing PR
Marcos Ambrose hopes to best his career-best finish of fifth at the Richmond (Va.) International Raceway and collect the team's first top-five of the season. He will wheel the No. 9 DEWALT Ford in his ninth start at the .75-mile track this weekend.
Ambrose and the No. 9 DEWALT Ford team have proved to be one of the fast cars on the track the past three weekends. The team has qualified second, fourth and 15th. Ambrose crossed the line eighth at Martinsville, but then was caught up in two accidents the past two weekends after running in the top-10. A car capable of winning, Ambrose is just looking for better luck this weekend.
Comments from DEWALT Ford Fusion Driver Marcos Ambrose:
"I think we have the opportunity to be really fast this weekend. We tested here and spent a lot of time working on this new car. After that test, we've been really good but have just had bad luck. We've been pretty fast and consistent in qualifying, practices and the first half of the races. We have just been snake-bitten a bit on the results. We want to get a finish we deserve again this weekend.
"We've got to start finishing where we deserve to finish. It's been frustrating because we can really make up ground in the points and get prepared for the Chase. Every race is important. We have the cars to make it happen. We just need to keep working hard at it."
Comments from Crew Chief Drew Blickensderfer on Richmond:
"We've had really fast racecars these past few weeks and unfortunately have had some problems on the track and didn't finish where we should have. The guys have worked hard every week to salvage a decent finish. Everyone is ready for us to be back up where we belong. We had a test here a few weeks ago, and I feel good that we can bring Marcos another good car this weekend."
Heading to sponsor Smithfield's home track, Aric Almirola looks to tally his third consecutive top-10 finish for the first time in his Sprint Cup career. The No. 43 Smithfield Ford team comes off a seventh and eighth-place finish in the last two races and sit a mere 18 points outside of a coveted Chase position in the championship standings.
Almirola has two Sprint Cup starts at Richmond International Raceway under his belt, both during last season, and has five Nationwide starts at the .75-mile track. He collected his best Richmond finish of seventh in the fall Nationwide race in 2011.
Comments from Smithfield Ford Fusion Driver Aric Almirola:
"Our team is on a roll right now. Everyone is really gelling together. We finished in the top-10 in the last two races, and now, we're eying a top-five. Todd (Parrott) and the guys have brought me fast cars each week. Todd has a few wins here, so I'm confident he'll put a good setup in the car. We tested at Richmond a few weeks ago and felt good about our cars there. The track was really fast which really surprised me. We learned a lot from the test and felt that it helped us figure out what we need for our short-track package. I really like short track racing, so I am excited to get back to a short track this weekend.
"Richmond is Smithfield's home track since they are just up the road in Smithfield, Virginia. It's a big deal for our team to run good here for them. We would love to be able to win a race here. They are going to have a lot of people out this weekend, so I hope we can put on a good show and celebrate with them in victory lane."
Comments from Smithfield Ford Fusion Crew Chief Todd Parrott:
"I'm happy with our performance so far. Our team has shown consistency running up front each week. We had a good test at Richmond a few weeks ago and worked on some different things. That was the first time we were on track with the Gen-6 cars, so I'm confident we will unload with a good car this weekend like we have the past two weeks."