Xfinity Series News (7258)
NASCAR Xfinity Series News
Nashville is Music to Michael Annett's Ears: The 24-year old racer has six previous starts on Nashville Superspeedway's 1.333 mile D-shaped oval including four NASCAR Nationwide Series races, one NASCAR Camping World Truck Series event and one ARCA Racing Series event. In his two most recent attempts at the Lebanon, Tennessee track, Annett has tallied 14th and ninth place finishes respectively. Previously securing starting spots of third (August 2007), fifth (August 2008), 13th (April 2009) and 12th (April 2010), Annett proves to be a quick qualifier at Nashville.
Trip to Pilot Flying J Territory: Annett and his Volunteer State sponsor, Pilot Flying J, entered the sport together in the ARCA Racing Series in 2007 and have continued their relationship through the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and currently into the NASCAR Nationwide Series. Pilot Flying J is headquartered in Knoxville, Tennessee, and has more than 550 locations in North America. The company employs more than 20,000 people and is the largest retail operator of travel centers in North America.
Crew Chief Jason Overstreet Former Nashville Victor: Calling the shots for driver David Reutimann in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, crew chief of Rusty Wallace Racing's No. 62 entry, Jason Overstreet, visited victory lane at Nashville Superspeedway in 2005 with Darrell Waltrip Racing. As driver and crew chief from 2004-2006, the Reutimann-Overstreet duo earned six pole awards and finished third in Truck Series championship point standings in 2006.
Rusty Wallace Racing at Nashville Superspeedway: Rusty Wallace Racing totals 18 NASCAR Nationwide Series starts at Nashville since 2005. The organization has one top-five, six top-10s and one pole at Nashville Superspeedway. The two-car team most recently captured finishes of 13th and eighth in the June 2010 Federated Auto Parts 200 at Nashville.
Country Music Canine: Looking forward to visiting Music City, Annett credits his love of country music for choosing a name for his Miniature Golden Doodle (dog) Paisley, named after singer Brad Paisley. Annett and Paisley are featured in Pit Road Pets: The Second Lap, a collection of photos and stories of NASCAR stars and their pets put together by the Ryan Newman Foundation.
From the Cockpit:
Michael Annett on Nashville Superspeedway:
"Historically, Nashville is a really good track for me. We're proud to represent our sponsor, Pilot Flying J, in their founding state of Tennessee this weekend, and we're going to work really hard to give them a great finish at Nashville Superspeedway on Saturday."
Jason Overstreet on Nashville Superspeedway:
"I always look forward to racing at Nashville. It's a track that I enjoy especially because I've had success there. I'd really like to get another taste of victory lane at Nashville this weekend with Rusty Wallace Racing, and what better of a place to do it than in Pilot Flying J's home state."
Rusty Wallace Racing PR
Today, Go Canada Racing, the newest all-Canadian NASCAR contender, officially starts its quest for NASCAR glory. Go Canada Racing is the only current NASCAR national series team with a Canadian owner, businessman Steve Meehan, and a Canadian driver, rising Canadian NASCAR star J.R. Fitzpatrick.
“Go Canada Racing brings together my two great passions: business and racing,” said Meehan. “My success in business has been built on seeing where the right opportunities are and creating a great team of people to do the job. When I saw the opportunity to start a team, I brought in the right people, like J.R., and with their help I believe I can have the same kind of success in the racing world as I had in the business world.”
Meehan’s goal for Go Canada Racing is for it to become the first fully-Canadian team to compete full-time on the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series tour – the preeminent series in North American motorsports. The team raced two weeks ago at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California, and will make its official debut this Saturday, April 24th, at Nashville Superspeedway.
“NASCAR has 7 million fans in Canada, many of whom watch the races every week on TV,” continued Meehan. “This team will give the millions of Canadian fans a ‘home team’ to rally around, and I believe it’s a great opportunity for Canadian companies to showcase their brand to this huge audience of Canadian race fans.”
The team name, Go Canada Racing, and car number, 67, were both chosen to give the team an all-Canadian feel. The name was inspired by the cheers of “Go Canada” that Canadians are accustomed to hearing at sporting events throughout the country. The car number, 67, corresponds to 1867, the year of Confederation in Canada. This number is very significant for Canadians, and Meehan believes it will help Canadian NASCAR fans identify with his team even more.
In the driver’s seat will be Canada’s rising NASCAR star, J.R. Fitzpatrick. At age 18, Fitzpatrick became the youngest driver to win the CASCAR Super Series championship, and last year he finished second in the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series championship. Over the last three years he has raced in nine NASCAR Nationwide events, and drove to a career-high finish of seventh at Road America and Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal, both in 2010. The opportunity with Go Canada Racing is Fitzpatrick’s first chance at a full-time ride on one of the premier stock car racing circuits in North America, an opportunity he has worked towards for many years.
“I’ve been racing since I was 15 years old and it has always been my dream to step into one of these cars full-time,” said Fitzpatrick. “Steve has put together an outstanding team and given us the tools to succeed in this sport. We have a great crew, a great car, and a great team, and I’m looking forward to competing with some of NASCAR’s best, starting this weekend in Nashville.”
“We’re looking forward to the addition of Go Canada Racing in the NASCAR Nationwide Series,” said Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR’s Senior Vice President of Racing Operations. “Canada is an important market for NASCAR, as demonstrated by our commitment to developing Canadian drivers in the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series. Now, the millions of NASCAR fans in Canada have a ‘home’ team to root for on NASCAR’s national level.”
Go Canada Racing PR
P1 Groupe driver Scott Wimmer, driver of the #40 Key Motorsports Chevrolet Malibu, left the Talladega Superspeedway with a solid Top-15 finish yesterday. The race included drama, hard wrecks, and two green-white-checkered attempts, and while some cars couldn’t make it to the finish, Wimmer and his team continued to work on the car to ensure a successful day on one of the biggest tracks on the NASCAR circuit.
When the green flag dropped on Saturday afternoon Wimmer knew that he would have to be patient and wait for the right time to begin to make his push to the front. This strategy paid off because even though he went a lap down early in the race, constant adjustments, focus, and a well-placed cautions allowed Scott to get back on the lead lap. He was able to make his way through the field and avoid a wreck that took out half of the field with 28 laps left in the race. The goal was no longer to only survive the race, but it was now time to contend for a Top-10 finish. When the checkered flag finally dropped after two attempts at a green-white-checkered finish, Scott Wimmer and his team could enjoy a solid 12th place finish.
“Any restrictor plate race that we run is intense because we have to worry about bump drafting and “The Big One”. With the new cars, we essentially have to learn how to bump draft all over again. This showed today with late wrecks that took out a lot of really good racecars. The new style of racing with the two car packs is something that we have never seen before here or at Daytona. It’s exciting for us and the fans. I love racing here, and I’m happy that we were able to adjust on the car all day and be able to come home with a solid Top-15 finish. I’m proud of all my guys here and back at the shop because we had a really good car and one that could contend for a Top-10 today.”
Talladega ended up being a big points’ race for both the Driver and Team on the day as both moved up five spots in their respective Championships. Wimmer now 18th in Driver Championship points is only 36 points outside of the Top-10, and Curtis Key jumped up to 27th in the Owners Championship points, well within the coveted Top-30 which guarantees making the field next time out.
Key Motorsports/Scott Wimmer PR
Due to a lack of sponsorship, the No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota and driver Joey Logano were not originally scheduled to run this weekend at Nashville Superspeedway. However, a number of factors following this past Saturday’s event at Talladega Superspeedway changed that. First, with Logano’s second-place finish at Talladega, the No. 20 JGR team extended its points lead in the NASCAR Nationwide Series Owner’s standings to 13 points over its JGR teammates, the No. 18 team. Second, a new sponsor jumped on board Sunday evening to make the trip possible.
Harvest Investments, LLC & Harvest-Properties.com have signed on with Joe Gibbs Racing for a one-race sponsorship to allow the No. 20 team and Logano to head to Nashville to continue the strong start to the season and continue the chance to run for the Nationwide Series Owner’s Championship, which Joe Gibbs Racing has won three years in a row (No. 20 team in 2008, No. 18 team in 2009 & 2010). The team was originally scheduled to run the first seven races, with Nashville being the first without sponsorship and not on the schedule. Now, with Nashville back on the schedule, the team will run through Dover. As of now, the team doesn’t have sponsorship for Iowa, but is still looking for interested companies.
Joe Gibbs Racing PR
Veteran driver Kenny Wallace led his first laps of the 2011 NASCAR Nationwide Series season and managed to escape the “big one” last Saturday in the Aaron’s 312 at Talladega Superspeedway. However, with only 15 laps remaining an ignition failure on the No. 09 Family Farmers Toyota Camry abruptly ended the day for Wallace who wound up 25th after two green-white-checkered finishes that extended the event to 124 total laps.
After two successful practice sessions on Thursday, Wallace qualified the No. 09 Family Farmers Toyota 19th during the Friday afternoon qualifying session. When the green flag dropped for the start of the scheduled 117 lap event, Wallace wasted no time making his way through the field. By lap 40, Wallace had improved nine positions to 10th place.
Continuing to progress through the field, Wallace moved the No. 09 Family Farmers Toyota inside the top-10 by the midway point of the race. On lap 65, Wallace made his way to the front of the pack en route to leading his first laps of the 2011 season.
The yellow flag waved on lap 89 for the seventh caution of the day. Wallace, who had restarted on the inside after the lap 87 caution, barely escaped the “big one” which damaged 21 cars and brought out the red flag for the second time. When green flag conditions resumed, Wallace resumed his march toward the front, however, an ignition problem on lap 109 quickly ended the day for the No. 09 Family Farmers Toyota. Wallace would ultimately end the day 25th in a race that saw 11 cautions and a record 56 lead changes.
RAB Racing PR
Following a disappointing 31st-place finish at Texas Motor Speedway, Eric McClure and his TriStar Motorsports team headed to Talladega Superspeedway hoping for a rebound. Advancing as high as 13th, the team was in position for a great result before being involved in Talladega’s notorious “Big One” on lap 87, which damaged 21 cars. After quick repairs by the Hefty® Racing™ team, consisting of removing the oil cooler and damaged sheet metal and replacing the radiator, the 32-year-old driver returned to the track and was able to advance eight positions to finish the Aaron’s 312 in the 26th position.
“I am so disappointed right now. We had a solid day and I was getting much more comfortable with the two-car tandem drafts when we were involved in the big wreck. It’s tough to find a partner in the field, but we had worked well with a couple of guys and were going forward. We almost missed the wreck but the last spinning car came up the track and hit me in the left front, which is heartbreaking. The guys did a great job getting us back out in the race and by doing so we were able to gain some spots back. We will just have to put this race behind us and move on to Nashville.”
Starting the race from the 25th position, Eric McClure quickly began running three-wide in the high lane, advancing seven positions by lap two. It wasn’t long until the field spread out in the two-car tandem drafts, which caused the Hefty® BlackOut™/Reynolds™ impala to lose the positions gained. Running in the 29th position and needing a partner, McClure finally found teammate Mike Bliss on lap 8. The two worked together advancing through the field until the first caution flag was displayed on lap 22. Reporting instability with the rear of the car on exit, crew chief Gary Cogswell made the call to bring the car to pit road for fuel and a track-bar adjustment. When the race resumed on lap 27, the TriStar Motorsports team was scored in the 24th position and was able to advance to the 19th position when the second caution flag was displayed one lap later.
As the race progressed the Virginia driver was having difficulty finding a drafting partner with experience so he went the more traditional drafting route, trying different lanes around the 2.66-mile speedway looking for the fastest moving lane. Running in the 27th position when the event’s third caution flag waved, the call was made to bring the car to pit road for fuel only. Once the service was complete, the team returned to the speedway in the 25th position.
On the restart it didn’t take long for the field to once again spread out in the two-car tandem drafts, but this time McClure found a drafting partner in Reed Sorenson, who pushed the two cars to the 13th and 14th positions respectively. Once the race resumed, McClure was able to maintain his position until he lost his drafting partner on lap 62, which resulted in positions lost. However, the event’s fifth caution flag waved two laps later which allowed the driver to bring his car to pit road for four tires and fuel. When the race resumed on lap 74, the Hefty® Racing™ team was scored in the 26th position.
Eight laps later, under the event’s sixth caution, the car was once again brought to pit road for fuel only and returned to the track in the 28th position for the lap 87 restart. It was then, however, that Talladega’s infamous “big one” occurred in the front of the field. Listening to his spotter, Stevie Reeves, McClure made several quick moves and appeared to have missed getting involved when the last spinning car shot up the track and hit the No. 14 impala in the left front, which sent the car hard into the outside wall. After receiving repairs in the garage area, the Hefty® BlackOut™/Reynolds™ car was able to return to the track on lap 101 and finish the Aaron’s 312 in the 26th position. As a result, TriStar Motorsports owner Mark Smith is 25th in NASCAR Owner Standings.
Eric McClure PR
After running just one car in the first 6 races of the season, MacDonald Motorsports was prepared to run one for each of their drivers at Talladega. Donnie Neuenberger was in the Eagle Convenience Stores No. 81 and Blake Koch would be driving a second car for the team, the RizeUp.us / Daystar.com No. 82. Just getting both cars ready for the weekend was a tough task in itself. Little did the team know this would be their best race weekend of the season thus far.
Practice was up and down for the team as Donnie was able to turn some fast laps in the No. 81 Dodge while Blake’s car struggled to get through the tech line. When the day was done he had only turned 3 laps on the 2.66 mile high-banked oval. Qualifying however went much better for both cars as they would share the 16th row for the race.
Blake Koch…..When the race began Blake went straight to the front in the RizeUp.us / Daystar.com No. 81. He was running just outside the top-ten as early as 10 laps into the race. After falling a little behind during the middle stages, Blake and the team were able to rebound to the top-20 towards the end. After getting damage during the “Big One” on lap 89 involving 21 cars, Blake was still able to bring the No. 82 home in 16th position. This was a career best finish for Blake in the NASCAR Nationwide Series and leaves him 26th in the 2011 NNS driver’s standings.
Donnie Neuenberger…..Making his 3rd start of the year in the Eagle Convenience Stores No. 81, Donnie really wanted to put in a good performance for his sponsor in their home town. After a late race spin on lap 84 off the bumper of the No. 19 car, Donnie regrouped and earned his best finish of the season with a 20th place result. Donnie moved up 3 spots in the point’s standings and now sits in 28th.
MacDonald Motorsports…..All the hard work of preparing two cars for the race paid off Saturday afternoon with two great finishes. It helped a lot in the owner’s standings as well as the No. 81 moved up two spots to 26th. This puts them 14 points ahead of 31st and will keep them locked in to the field for this Saturday’s race at Nashville Super Speedway.
MacDonald Motorsports PR
The more the lead changed, the more the excitement stayed the same Saturday in the Aaron’s 312 NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Talladega Superspeedway.
Kyle Busch used a strong push from Joey Logano down the backstretch to slice through the field and complete the 56th and final lead change of the race, giving Busch his first career NASCAR Nationwide Series victory at Talladega. The 56 lead changes (among 18 drivers) smashed the old NASCAR Nationwide Series record of 36 that was also held by Talladega Superspeedway.
Busch’s pass was perhaps the most exciting one in a race that was filled with thrilling moments. He and Logano created a new lane down the middle of the backstretch, cutting between cars on either side and barely squeezing through the narrow gap.
“I saw daylight, and I said if I can see daylight I’m shooting for it,” Busch said. “I knew that was it, that it was the only opportunity I’d have. Somehow we made it through there.
“I didn’t think it was wide enough for a car to fit through, but I certainly made it wide enough. I closed my eyes and held my foot to the floor and prayed for the best.”
Logano remained tight on the bumper of his Joe Gibbs teammate. He said there was no way he was going to back off, being only a half-lap away from the finish line.
“There wasn’t much of a hole there, but at that point I wasn’t lifting,” said Logano, who finished second. “So we were just going to force a hole and make it a little bit bigger than what it is.”
For Logano, it was the third consecutive Nationwide race at Talladega in which he had pushed the eventual winner to victory on the final lap.
“I just have to be on the other side sometime,” Logano said. “It’s cool for JGR to be able to get 1-2. I just want to be number one instead of number two.”
Busch was quick to give Logano plenty of credit for the victory, which was the 47th of his Nationwide career, only two shy of Mark Martin’s all-time series record of 49.“Joey was a great teammate today. He deserved to win just as much as we did,” Busch said. “This was a team win. It comes down to who you can get with, who you can work with at the end of the race. We had a teammate out there in Joey who was really good to work with.”
Joe Nemechek finished third, followed by Brad Keselowski in fourth, Elliott Sadler fifth, Trevor Bayne sixth, Justin Allgaier seventh, Dale Earnhardt Jr. eighth, Reed Sorensen ninth and Aric Almirola 10th.
The two-car drafts that have become prevalent this year at restrictor-plate tracks created a pass-happy spectacle that both the fans and the drivers enjoyed.
“This is a lot of fun to do a couple of times a year,” said Jason Leffler, who finished 15th and moved into the lead in the Nationwide standings by two points over Allgaier and five points over Sadler. “I don’t know if I’d want to do it every weekend, but it was fun today.”
The 47-year-old Nemechek agreed.
“It was definitely intense,” Nemechek said. “My heart is still beating fast and my head is really spinning. But it was really fun. It’s been a long time since I’ve had a really good run like that. I had a blast.”
On a record-setting day at Talladega Superspeedway, Nemechek definitely wasn’t the only one.
Rusty Wallace Racing's Michael Annett (No. 62 Pilot Flying J Toyota Camry) scored his fourth-career Nationwide Series top-ten start this afternoon, in qualifying for Saturday's Aaron's 312 at Talladega Superspeedway. His best lap of 53.78 seconds (178.059 MPH) slotted him eighth-fastest of the 43 cars to make a qualifying attempt.
Annett's eighth-place result marks his first top-ten start since October, 2009 at Kansas Speedway and the second-best starting position of his young career. It also marks the best start for a Rusty Wallace-owned car at Talladega in 12 attempts. RWR cars have previously scored two pole positions at Daytona, Talladega's sister track.
Noted Annett, "I'm very proud of the guys on this Pilot Flying J Rusty Wallace Racing team. We had a really strong Toyota earlier this year at Daytona, but just never got the chance to show it. Hopefully our two Rusty Wallace Racing Camrys can get hooked up tomorrow, stay out of the crashes and finish off this top-10 start with a top-10 finish."
Meanwhile, following a top-20 effort in his Sprint Cup debut at the Daytona 500, Annett's teammate, Steve Wallace (No. 66 5-Hour Energy Toyota Camry) will join Annett in the top-20 of tomorrow's starting field. Wallace's best lap of 53.91 seconds (177.629 MPH) was good enough to place him on the outside of row nine for tomorrow's event.
Stated Wallace, "Our 5-Hour Energy Toyota Camry drafted and drove pretty well in practice yesterday and that was definitely our main concern. Qualifying isn't that important here; you can win this race from any starting spot and that's exactly what we're going to try to do. Hopefully we can get together with our teammate, draft to the front and have a good run."
Rusty Wallace Racing PR