Speedway Digest Staff
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Joey Coulter has had the type of success in his early racing career that most "young guns" only dream about. At the ripe age of 22, with 49 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series starts under his belt, Coulter's resume already includes a Rookie of the Year award, one win (Pocono, 2012), three poles, 120 laps led, 13 top-five and 28 top-10 finishes. Entering his 50th career Truck Series start this weekend in the N.C. Education Lottery 200 at Rockingham (N.C.) Speedway, the young but experienced wheelman is showing no signs of slowing down anytime soon.
After producing a third-place finish in the 2012 championship standings, Coulter enters his third full-time season in the Truck Series and his first for Kyle Busch Motorsports (KBM) with only one goal in mind this year, to win the first-ever driver's championship for his new team. After two subpar finishes to start the season, a 22nd-place finish at Daytona (Fl.) International Speedway and a 15th-place finish at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway, he knows that he needs to begin producing the results that he is capable of if he hopes to accomplish that goal.
This weekend he will pilot the No. 18 Darrell Gwynn Foundation Tundra and although only 22, serves as the veteran among KBM's crop of young talent. Making his fifth start at Rockingham (N.C.) Speedway, Coulter has logged 748 laps around the high-banked track including one start in the Truck Series (2012) and three ARCA Racing Series starts. At a track that is still very "green" to the series, Coulter feels he will have an advantage on many drivers in the field with his experience managing tires on the aged surface.
Coulter comes into the third event of the season 15th in the Truck Series championship point standings; a mere 13 points behind 10th-place Ryan Blaney and 43 markers behind point's leader Johnny Sauter. He knows that although those results aren't ideal, his championship bid is still very much alive. After the second race of the season in 2012, Coulter was 26th in points; 17 points behind 10th-place, Todd Bodine and 42 points behind leader, John King. A rock solid finish in this weekend's event will allow the young driver to continue his assault up the leader board.
Taking Flight...Cessna will be returning to take flight with Kyle Larson this weekend at Texas Motor Speedway after debuting with the rookie NASCAR Nationwide Series (NNS) driver in the ARCA Racing Series event at Daytona. Cessna, the world's leading general aviation company, has designed, produced and delivered more than 193,500 airplanes around the globe. This includes more than 6,300 Citation business jets, making it the largest fleet of business jets in the world.
Double Duty... Making his first attempt at a NASCAR top-three series "double duty" weekend, Larson will be making the trip to Rockingham Speedway for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series North Carolina Education Lottery 200 following the NNS O'Reilly 300 at Texas. No stranger to competing in multiple events during one weekend, Larson is prepared to tackle both events with full force.
"I'm used to running more than one race in a weekend, so this weekend will be pretty standard for me," Larson explained. "Turner Scott Motorsports gave me great Silverados last season in the four starts I made for them, so I'm really excited for the opportunity to run the Nationwide race on Friday and then hop on a plane to Rockingham for the Truck Series race."
Looking Back... Making his first career start at Auto Club Speedway in the NASCAR Nationwide Series (NNS), California native Kyle Larson had momentum on his side and high hopes heading into the Royal Purple 300. Larson kept the Eveready Camaro inside the top 10 for the majority of the afternoon and motored to a sixth-place finish after overcoming a miscue on a pit stop.
Now Appearing... Larson will be making two off-track appearances on Friday afternoon between NNS final practice and qualifying. At 1 pm CDT, he will join Trackside Live at the SPEED stage in the fan midway with hosts Krista Voda, Kyle Petty and Rutledge Wood. Following the SPEED stage, Larson will join teammates Nelson Piquet Jr. and Justin Allgaier at 1:45 pm CDT for a Q&A session at the Chevy Stage, also located in the fan midway.
This Week's Camaro... Chassis TSM-324 has been rebuilt in just the few short weeks since racing at Las Vegas Motor Speedway (LVMS) and is ready for competition at Texas Motor Speedway this Friday. Larson battled for the lead with this Camaro at LVMS until an incident caused significant damage and cut his day short.
Crew Chief Trent Owens on Texas Motor Speedway
"Texas is a fast, multi-grooved track I think Kyle will really excel at. We had a great test there last week; I feel like we learned a lot that we can use this weekend. It's important for us to keep building on the momentum we've had for the past few weeks."
Kyle Larson on Texas Motor Speedway
"I'm really excited to get back to Texas after the successful test we had last week. We'll have the same Camaro we had at Las Vegas, which was really fast for us there. I think the grooves will widen as the race goes on, and I've watched a lot of previous races to get a good feel for how it'll be at the end of the night. I think it's going to be a great race for both the fans and the drivers."
Friday Night Lights...Following a two-week hiatus, the NASCAR Nationwide Series (NNS) returns to the track for Friday night racing at Texas Motor Speedway. Allgaier, coming off an 11th-place finish at Auto Club Speedway, finished both 2012 Texas Motor Speedway races in the top 10. All three Turner Scott Motorsports teams tested at Texas on April 1-2, in preparation for this weekend's race and the remaining 1.5-mile tracks on the NNS schedule.
2013 Point Standings...Heading into the sixth race of the season, Allgaier is currently fourth in the NNS point standings. He's one point behind third-place driver Brian Scott and four points behind second-place driver Regan Smith.
In-Car Camera...The No. 31 BRANDT Chevrolet Camaro will have an in-car camera sponsored by Nationwide Insurance for ESPN2's race broadcast of the O'Reilly Auto Parts 300 on Friday evening. The camera will feature live shots from inside Allgaier's cockpit during the 300-mile event.
Meet Justin...Allgaier will appear at the Chevy stage along with teammates Kyle Larson and Nelson Piquet Jr. for a fan Q&A on Friday, April 12 from 1:45 - 2 p.m. CDT, located in the fan midway.
This Week's Camaro...Chassis TSM-320 will once again be put to work in NNS competition this weekend at Texas Motor Speedway. This is the same chassis the No. 31 BRANDT Chevy Camaro team used at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Crew Chief Scott Zipadelli on Texas Motor Speedway
"Texas [Motor Speedway] is a fast track but loses grip when the sun comes out, so we are hoping for cooler temperatures. We practice in the morning and race at night, which makes it a little more difficult, and the speeds will pick up as the sun goes down. I expect we will have a good weekend with the No. 31 BRANDT Chevy Camaro."
Justin Allgaier on Texas Motor Speedway
"I'm looking forward to returning to Texas [Motor Speedway]. We had top-10 finishes there last season, and we tested there last week, which should be a big help going into this race. Our test went well; we learned a lot and can't wait to try a few new things at Texas. No matter what happens, night racing is always fun for us and the fans."
Welcome to Texas... Piquet Jr. will make his first career NNS start at Texas Motor Speedway on Friday night, having only previously raced at the 1.5-mile oval in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. Piquet Jr., however, is no stranger to success in the Lone Star state with one pole, three top-five and four top-10 finishes to his credit.
This Week's Camaro... The No. 30 WORX team will have chassis TSM-319 for this Friday's race at Texas Motor Speedway. TSM-319 was previously used at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, where it racked up a top-15 finish.
California Recap...During the lone practice session at Auto Club Speedway, crew chief Chris Carrier and the No. 30 Turner Scott Motorsports team worked to find speed for the Qualcomm Chevy. Their hard work paid off as Piquet Jr. and his team had their best qualifying effort of the young season, starting the 300mile race two weeks ago from the fifth position. Shortly after the green flag dropped, Piquet Jr. radioed to the crew that he was battling a loose race car. Working under long green flag conditions most of the race, Piquet Jr. and team brought the No. 30 Qualcomm Chevy home in the 16th position.
Welcome Back... For the fifth time this year, Piquet Jr. will display the No. 30 WORX colors on Friday Night at Texas Motor Speedway. Established in 1994, WORX Yard Tools USA, based in Charlotte NC, is one of the fastest growing companies serving the global power equipment market today. A diversified manufacturer and marketer of a complete range of electric-powered lawn and garden equipment and related products, WORX has over 4000 employees worldwide. The WORX line-up includes innovative grass trimmers, chainsaws, lawn mowers, hedge trimmers, blowers and more. All WORX products are emission-free and feature intuitive functions, tool-less adjustments and best-of-industry ergonomics. You can find WORX yard tools at retailers such as Lowe's, Walmart, Sears, Amazon.com and local lawn & garden dealers. More information is available on the company's website at www.WORX.com
Got Questions?... Piquet Jr. will join teammates Kyle Larson and Justin Allgaier at 1:45 CDT on Friday for a Q&A session at the Chevy stage, located in the fan midway.
Watch and Listen...The O'Reilly Auto Parts 300 can be seen live on Friday, April 12 on ESPN2. Race coverage will begin at 8:00 p.m. EDT. The event can also be heard live on PRN Radio as well as SiriusXM Satellite Radio, channel 90.
Crew Chief Chris Carrier on Texas Motor Speedway:
"Texas is a really fast and competitive mile-and-a-half race track. We tested there last week and all three Turner Scott Motorsports teams had a solid test session. It looks like the weather is going to be great all weekend; the cool temperatures at night should make for some really fast laps. I am looking forward to going to Texas, getting a good finish and gaining some momentum for the rest of the season."
Nelson Piquet Jr. on Texas Motor Speedway:
"I am looking forward to returning to Texas and the Nationwide Series this weekend. We had a great test session there last week, so I feel pretty confident heading into the weekend. Chris Carrier and the guys at Turner Scott Motorsports have worked really hard to get my Camaro ready to race. I hope we can go into Texas and contend for a good finish."
The Milwaukee Mile's ARCA Fest will once again have some NASCAR star power with David Ragan among the Sprint Cup regulars entered in the July 9 late-model race. The driver of the No. 34 Front Row Motorsports Ford in the Sprint Cup Series will enter the popular Midwest Tour-sanctioned race in his No. 77 Skuttle Tight Ford with support from attic-entry system manufacturer Skuttle Tight.
It will be the second consecutive year that Ragan will participate in the Swiss Colony Howie Lettow Memorial 150 presented by raceteamgear.com and his third late-model race of the season. The two-day ARCA Fest benefits the MACC Fund (Midwest Athletes Against Childhood Cancer) and will include a concert by Southern rock band 38 Special after the practice sessions on July 8.
Skuttle Tight is a Willmar, Minn.-based manufacturer that offers insulated attic-entry systems that replace older attic hatches and access panels that can cause drafts. The July race will be the second event of the 2013 season that the company will join Ragan on his late-model campaign and the second straight year that Skuttle Tight will adorn the No. 77 Ford for the ARCA Fest.
The Milwaukee Mile is a one-mile oval on the grounds of the Wisconsin State Fair Park in West Allis, Wis., and is the oldest operating motor speedway in the world.
"We enjoy taking our late model out for events like this - none of the pressures that we have on Sundays but all the same competitiveness and drive to win," Ragan said. "And the Milwaukee Mile is just a great, old, historic race track and this event draws a great crowd. It's always fun to go places like that.
"We're thankful to have Skuttle Tight back on board with us for this race, too. They've been a good partner with us in the past and we're glad to have them on our quarter panels again."
Ragan should have plenty of top-level competition. The event is a popular one with NASCAR regulars with approximately 10 of the elite drivers expected to participate in the weeknight event.
"David hasn't forgotten his roots and for him to run with us at the Mile is an honor to all of us," said Series Vice President Steve Einhaus. "There are a lot of young kids that look up to him that are trying to follow the same path he took to where he is today. We are excited to have him back in 2013 and I'm pretty certain he is coming to win."
Breaking Limits PR
During an outstanding Indy-car career, Sam Hornish Jr. routinely arrived at Texas Motor Speedway as one of the chief contenders for not only a race win but also a series championship.
He secured two of his three series crowns at Texas Motor Speedway and he still remains tied for the most Indy-car wins at "The Great American Speedway!" with three despite leaving the series for NASCAR in 2008.
Fast forward to 2013 and Hornish Jr. finds himself backin that familiar position as he prepares for Friday evening's O'Reilly Auto Parts 300 NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Texas Motor Speedway.
Hornish Jr., off to the best start in his NASCAR career since he began racing fulltime in 2008, arrives at Texas atop the Nationwide Series championship standings through five races. He leads Regan Smith by 28 points on the strength of top-10 performances in a
ll five starts, including four among the top five. Among those was his second career Nationwide Series victory coming at Las Vegas in early March.
"We've done everything I talked about in the offseason that we needed to do good," said Hornish Jr., who drives the No. 12 Alliance Truck Parts Ford for Penske Racing. "We're starting off the year and getting out of the gate good."
The victory at Las Vegas could bode well for Hornish Jr. at Texas, which is a sister SMI track and similar in layout for a 1.5-mile oval. Hornish Jr. has a pair of top-10 finishes in two of his last three visits to Texas Motor Speedway. He sandwiched an 11th-place finish in this event last year around a pair of seventh-place efforts in the fall O'Reilly Auto Parts Challenge in 2011 and last year.
"The 1.5 mile (tracks), that's where our bread and butter has to be at this year," Hornish Jr. said. "Those intermediate tracks, that's really what our schedule is made of. (Las Vegas) was exactly how we wanted to go out there. I can't wait to get back to Texas. I have always loved going there."
Hornish Jr. is building off his most successful NASCAR season, which came last year when he finished fourth in the Nationwide Series championship. However, he is building in 2013 with a new crew chief in Greg Erwin and has seen immediate dividends.
"It was things that we did last year and we got to where we would run good, but we couldn't close, "Hornish Jr. said. "Really a lot of why Greg Erwin was brought in was once we got to the red zone to be able to help us punch it in. To be able to have all the pieces to come together the way we knew that they should, it felt really good."
Hornish Jr. is looking to capture his first championship in stock-car racing. Despite early struggles in his NASCAR career, Hornish Jr. knows what it takes to win a championship. A three-time champion in the IZOD IndyCar Series (2001, '02, '06), he and team owner Roger Penske have high expectations. Should Hornish Jr. win the Nationwide Series championship, he would become the first driver to win the Indianapolis 500 (2006) and a NASCAR top-tier series championship.
Even with the high expectations and IndyCar championships on his resume, Hornish Jr. understands that winning the Nationwide Series title won't be easy.
"Obviously when you've got a couple (Joe) Gibbs (Racing) cars that are running full time with Brian Vickers and Elliott Sadler behind the wheel, as well as the Richard Childress Racing program having Austin (Dillon), the things we have to go up against, it really shows there is as strong a competition for the championship that there has ever been," Hornish Jr. said.
Four time X-1R Pro Cup Series champion Clay Rogers made his return to the series known Saturday night at the Dillon Motor Speedway coming from the rear of the field to score the PEE DEE 250 win. Rogers win was no walk in the park as 2012 AFR Rookie of the Year winner Dalton Hopkins gave the former champion a close run to the checkered flag finishing in the runner-up position just .331 seconds behind after a bonze run through turns three and four. Eric Gerchak, making his series debut as a rookie, finished an impressive third to earn the final podium position. Defending series champion JP Morgan began his title defense with a solid fourth place finish after winning at the track a season ago. South Carolina native Gus Dean rounded out the top five finishers.
“Man, it feels good to be back in victory lane with this L&R race team here in the Pro Cup Series,” shouted an excited Rogers in Edlebrock Victory Lane. “We had a few problems in qualifying that caused us to start in the back, but I knew we had a good race car so it wasn’t as big as a deal as it could’ve been. I just focused on saving my tires because I’ll be honest I don’t know much about these particular Goodyear tires because I’ve never been on them until this weekend. Luckily I did a decent job at managing them and didn’t race JP (Morgan) too hard and we’re able to take home this check for $10,000 to kick off the season.”
The issues that Rogers speaks of were when his L&R Racing team were forced to repair break hoses on their #16 Commonwealth Building Materials Ford Fusion after qualifying while cars are normally impounded. The result of the penalty by series officials was Rogers taking the green flag from shotgun on the field with MAHLE pole award winner JP Morgan leading the field to green.
Morgan wasted no time in picking right where he left off a season ago taking the lead and opening a three car gap over Hopkins. Despite the smaller field side-by-side racing was abundant throughout the remaining positions over initial laps and throughout the night. Just eleven laps in was all it took for the KOOLMAT “Kool Move of the Race” to take place as eventual winner Clay Rogers made a daring three wide move to the inside of Gus Dean and Brady Boswell that advanced his #16 machine two positions moving from seventh to fifth in a single straightaway. Boswell and Dean would continue their side-by-side battle for next ten laps before the yellow flag would fly for the first time on lap twenty-one for the stalled machine of rookie Reid Wilson that paced practice earlier in the afternoon.
The #23 machine once again took control of the lead with Hopkins battling another Pro Cup Series returnee in the form of John Gibson for the number two spot. It only took thirty laps for the yellow to waive once again, this time for the spinning machine of veteran Bill Plemons Jr. who made slight contact with the wall. The restart brought the first lead change of the night as Clay Rogers took advantage JP Morgan’s slip-up through turns one and two. Rogers opened up his lead over the remaining laps before taking the competition yellow at the event’s halfway point on lap 125.
After picking up the Roush Yates Performance Products Halfway Leader Award, Rogers and the rest of the top seven lead lap cars redrew for their second half of the race starting positions. The results matched the initial green flag front row to start the race as, JP Morgan along with Dalton Hopkins to his outside, lead the field back to green flag racing. It took all of three laps and a little contact for Rogers to regain the lead position over Morgan after redrawing the number three pill. Never fading more than a car length away, Hopkins worked the high line on Rogers making several attempts for the lead.
In the meantime Air Flow Research Rookie of the Year contender Eric Gerchak was the driver on the move after being penalized during the competition caution for his crew not having fire suits on while working on an active pit road. The adversity didn’t seem to faze the Mooresville, NC driver as he made his way to the fourth position on lap 191 just before the final yellow of the night was displayed for possible fluid on lap 194.
The final restart would be the last chance for Hopkins, Morgan, and the rest of the field to make a play at the lead from Rogers as the final fifty-two laps went green and green to the finish. The win was Rogers’ thirty first of his career; one shy of tying Benny Gordon for second most wins all time in series history.
X-1R Pro Cup Series
Rev Racing scored a top-10 finish in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series (NKNPS) East race this past weekend at Greenville-Pickens Speedway (GPS) with Daniel Suarez and the No. 6 Visit Acapulco Toyota Camry. Suarez had a competitive car all day, and after qualifying eighth he was able to keep the car in the top-10 throughout the race and finished seventh. Ryan Gifford finished 13th, Mackena Bell finished 18th, and Bryan Ortiz finished 24th.
“I’m really proud of the entire team for all of their hard work. We’ve learned a lot at the past two races and we’ll keep working to improve the car each weekend. I have no doubt that we’ll be competitive this season and hopefully come home with a win or two” said Suarez.
All four Rev Racing cars were fast during both practice sessions, improving their lap speed as the day went on. Ortiz, Suarez, Bell, and Gifford finished the final practice session seventh, eighth, ninth, and 12th quickest respectively.
Bell was the highest starter for Rev Racing, she qualified seventh in her No. 21 Toyota Racing Development Toyota Camry. Suarez qualified his No. 6 Visit Acapulco Toyota right behind her, he started eighth. Gifford and Ortiz qualified 16th and 22nd respectively.
The next race for Rev Racing in the NKNPS East will be this Saturday, April 13th, at Five Flags Speedway in Pensacola, F.L. There will be a pre-race autograph session at 5:30 p.m. ET followed by the race at 7:00 p.m. ET. Follow the team twitter account @RevRacin for updates throughout the weekend.
Rev Racing PR
Heading to Martinsville Speedway after two weeks off, JJ Yeley and the No. 36 United Mining Equipment team were ready for a weekend packed full of action.
The keys to racing at Martinsville is preservation of your tires and brakes - both are areas that Yeley excels in. Knowing that the paperclip shaped track is famous for its beating and banging, Yeley and crew chief Joe Lax had a strategy to make it to the end unscathed.
Starting the race 37th, Yeley's first order of business was to move up and try to avoid the accidents that the half mile was notorious for. Going laps down early in the race, Yeley continued to fight. Half way through, several quick cautions came out, allowing Yeley to get a lap back and make changes to the car.
Still fighting to the end, Yeley ended the race finishing 27th. Crew Chief, Joe Lax had nothing but positive things to say to the team afterwards. "You guys continue to fight every weekend, and that's all I can ask for. We did a great job today boys. Let's pack up, head home, and try again next weekend. Thank you for all you do."
JJ Yeley finished the weekend at Martinsville Speedway's STP Gas Booster 500 in 27th. He is currently 122 points behind leader Jimmie Johnson in the race for the Sprint Cup Championship. This week the TBR teams head to the circus, the Wild Asphalt Circus at Texas Motor Speedway.
140 BUZZ PR
Tommy Baldwin Racing and the No. 7 SANY America Chevy SS pulled into Martinsville Speedway Friday morning after a two week break from racing. As soon as the team unloaded they went to work on car, making adjustments and preparing for practice and qualifying.
Qualifying 39th for the race, Blaney and the TBR crew had their work cut out for them. Brakes and tires have always proven to be the biggest challenge at the half-mile track in Virginia.
At the drop of the green flag, Blaney began to maneuver his way through traffic but the leaders were closing. Losing a lap early is typically difficult to recover from on the half-mile track. However, with several quick cautions, Blaney was able to get one of his laps back and make adjustments to the car.
Finishing out the race in 29th, Baldwin commented, "I know this is not the finish that you were hoping for, but we're coming home with a whole racecar, and that's more than most of the teams can say after today. We're going to go home and get ready for next weekend at Texas. We will do whatever we have to do, I know this team's hard work will pay off in the end. Great job boys."
Dave is currently 127 points behind leader Jimmie Johnson in the race for the Sprint Cup Championship. This week the TBR teams head to the circus, the Wild Asphalt Circus at Texas Motor Speedway.
140 BUZZ PR