Saturday, Nov 26
Speedway Digest Staff

Speedway Digest Staff

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NASCAR’s expanding role among global influencers of sport continues this week as Chairman and CEO Brian France participates in Beyond Sport’s annual summit in London. The Summit begins today, a few days before the start of the 2012 Olympiad.

On Wednesday, France will participate in a panel entitled “Mobilizing Millions,” in which he will highlight NASCAR’s efforts in green, diversity and charitable giving. Joining France will be Dr. Robin Peterson, CEO of the South African Football Association; Jamie Oliver, celebrity chef, Emmy Award-winning television personality and health advocate; and Paddy Harverson, official spokesperson for Prince Charles, Duke of Cambridge.

Moderated by Dr. Michael Lynch, NASCAR’s managing director of green innovation, the conversation will look at how sport can be used as a tool to trigger large-scale change. Panelists will analyze how sports organizations, personalities and governing bodies can use the power of sport to improve lives, positively change behavior, or empower people on a global scale.

Additionally tomorrow, France will present Beyond Sport’s “Sport for the Environment” Award to a recipient who has put forth significant efforts to reduce sports’ impact on the environment.

"A key part of Beyond Sport’s mission is to bring together people from different spheres to share their experiences and to learn from each other,” said Nick Keller, founder of Beyond Sport. “Between them, through inspiration and education, these people and their organizations have changed the outlooks, perspectives and even living habits of millions of people around the world, and their insights are invaluable."

The Beyond Sport summit is convened to celebrate, promote and drive sport-led social change. The event features networking opportunities, panels and action-led working sessions that include influencers from the worlds of sports, business and government. It will play host to a wide range of global luminaries, including Muhammad Ali, David Beckham and former British Prime Minister Tony Blair.

In May, NASCAR accepted an invitation to join Beyond Sport, a global organization that promotes, develops and supports the use of sport to create positive social change. NASCAR joined a coalition of leagues that includes Major League Baseball, Major League Soccer, the National Basketball Association, the National Football League, the National Hockey League and the Women's National Basketball Association as part of Beyond Sport's wider global network. NASCAR is the first and only motorsports organization aligned with Beyond Sport.

In addition to France, each of the following panelists will share their unique perspective with the global audience
 

·        Dr. Robin Peterson, CEO of the South African Football Association. Peterson is one of the most influential figures in African sport, and will talk about the power of the Rainbow Nation's most popular sport and how it can genuinely help unite and build a nation.

·        Jamie Oliver, celebrity chef, Emmy Award-winning television personality and health advocate. His popular program “Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution” has earned him wide notoriety as a critic of processed foods in public schools and was recently awarded the Harvard School of Public Health’s Healthy Cup Award.

·        Paddy Harverson, a key player in the media relations world from a number of perspectives, but is best known for his role at the Clarence House as the official spokesperson for Prince Charles, Duke of Cambridge. He spent four years as director of communications for the Manchester United Premier League football club and most recently coordinated communications for the union of Prince William and Kate Middleton. He will discuss the major shift in modern media and its significance in influencing people's behavior for the better.

NASCAR PR

Big Machine Records and Front Row Motorsports are giving fans of racing and country music alike the chance to win a signed guitar and race-used firesuit through the Racecars and Country Stars Sweepstakes.

Fans can win a David Gilliland race-used firesuit and a guitar signed by Big Machine Label Group recording artists: The Band Perry, Justin Moore, The Mavericks, Greg Bates and Sunny Sweeney. Prior to entering, fans will need to 'like' both Big Machine Label Group and Front Row Motorsports on Facebook.  Fans can earn additional bonus entries by 'liking' the pages of Big Machine recording artists and Front Row Motorsports partners.

Visit www.RacecarsAndCountryStars.com to enter and view official rules.  David Gilliland will drive the No. 38 Racecars and Country Stars / Big Machine Records Ford in Sunday's Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Runner-Up prizes include CD's from Big Machine Label Group recording artists and items autographed by David Gilliland.

The contest will run through August 24th, 2012.  A winner will be announced by September 1st.

FRM PR

Fans who are looking for a way to honor the tragedies of 9-11 can take advantage of the opportunity to give blood during Darlington Raceway’s 7th annual Blood Drive, scheduled for Tuesday, Sept. 11.

The event, which will take place from 8:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m. on Sept. 11, is now accepting appointments in advance by going to www.redcrossblood.org, clicking on the ‘Make a Blood Donation Appointment’ link and entering the sponsor code: darlingtonraceway; or by calling 1-800-REDCROSS. Appointments are encouraged in advance to ensure participation in the blood drive.

The American Red Cross has an emergency need for blood donations of all types, as blood donations nationwide have reached their lowest levels in 15 years. Due to a mid-week Fourth of July holiday, fewer businesses were able to host blood drives; severe summer storms in the Midwest and Mid-Atlantic the first two weeks of the month forced the cancellation of dozens of blood drives; and locally, extreme heat is keeping many donors at home and away from Red Cross blood drives and donation centers.

“We had numerous fans and community members participate in our 2011 event and we want to continue to see more successful growth of the Pee Dee’s largest single-day blood collection event,” Darlington Raceway President Chris Browning said. “It only takes the generosity of a few people each giving one unit of blood to potentially save hundreds maybe thousands of lives in our area. It truly is a positive way to honor the tragedies of 9-11 in our local community.”

"We are grateful to Darlington Raceway for the opportunity to once again team up for their annual blood drive, and we encourage community members to give the gift of life in remembrance of the lives lost on Sept. 11, 2001," said Julie Weilacher, interim CEO of the American Red Cross South Carolina Blood Services Region. "Donating blood is a meaningful way to make a positive impact on the lives of our hospital patients."

For each donation, fans will get a behind-the-scenes look at the Lady in Black, which includes an opportunity to take their vehicle for laps around the Darlington oval, as well as an American Red Cross gift bag. Free food and beverages will be provided for donors courtesy of Bojangles’.

It’s important to remember that one unit of donated blood can be transfused up to three people. The 2011 event collected 143 units of blood, thus potentially saving the lives of 429 people.

The American Red CrossS.C. Blood Services Region provides lifesaving blood to 54 hospitals and must have 500 people give blood and platelets each weekday to meet hospital demand. Accident victims as well as patients with cancer, sickle cell disease, blood disorders and other illnesses receive lifesaving transfusions every day. There is no substitute for blood and volunteer donors are the only source.

Blood can be safely donated every 56 days. Platelets can be given safely every two weeks, up to 24 times a year. Most healthy people age 17 and older, 16 with parental consent, who weigh at least 110 pounds, are eligible to donate blood and platelets. Donors who are 18 and younger must also meet specific height and weight requirements.

Darlington Raceway PR

Rain-X®, the automotive aftermarket leader in water repellency glass treatments and wiper blades will be primary sponsor of the No. 31 Chevrolet for Richard Childress Racing and NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Jeff Burton in this weekend's Brickyard 400 at the historic Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

"My family uses Rain-X® products on all our automobiles at home and we are proud to represent a great product on the No. 31 Chevrolet at a prestigious track like Indianapolis Motor Speedway," said Burton. "Our goal is to get the No. 31 Rain-X® Chevrolet into Victory Lane and to kiss the bricks."

Burton, currently in his 19th full-time season in NASCAR's premier division, has amassed 21 wins, 132 top-five finishes, 246 top-10 finishes, six pole awards and led 6,510 laps during his illustrious career. Burton sits 19th in the 2012 Sprint Cup Series driver championship point standings with four top-10 finishes including a fifth-place finish in the prestigious 2012 Daytona 500 and runner-up finish earlier this month in the Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway. Burton qualified for the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup from 2006-2008 and in 2010 with 13-time NASCAR championship winning car owner Richard Childress.

"RCR, Jeff Burton and Rain-X® share a common commitment to performance and winning and we will be cheering on the No. 31 car on July 29th," says James Stone, General Manager for ITW Global Brands. "Studies show 90% of driving decisions are based solely on vision, and as the most preferred brand of windshield wiper blades and glass care, Rain-X® products help ensure ultimate visibility in any weather condition...on the roads or at the racetrack."

For the past 40 years, drivers have trusted Rain-X® to help them stay one step ahead of Mother Nature on the road. The revolutionary water beading technology in Rain-X® Original Glass Treatment enables raindrops to fly right off the windshield as you drive. In addition to glass treatments, the Rain-X® portfolio offers wiper blades, glass cleaners, car washes, waxes, bug & tar removers, and headlight restoration kits. Rain-X®, owned by ITW Global Brands- a Houston based division of Illinois Tool Works Performance Polymers & Fluids, joins longtime RCR partners Caterpillar, Wheaties and BB&T who serve as primary sponsors for a majority of the races on Burton's No. 31 Chevrolet.

RCR PR

 Furniture Row Racing announced today that Todd Berrier has been named crew chief for the team's No. 78 Chevrolet driven by Regan Smith.

Berrier, who replaces Pete Rondeau, will take over the crew chief duties immediately. His first race on the pit box will be Sunday's Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.  

In making the announcement team general manager Joe Garone said, "Todd will be a great fit with our operation. The skill sets he has acquired during a successful crew chief career will be valuable assets as we move forward with a high level of energy and anticipation.”

Berrier worked as a Sprint Cup crew chief for 11 years at Richard Childress Racing (RCR) before joining JTG Daugherty Racing and driver Bobby Labonte at the start of the 2012 season.

During his tenure at RCR, Berrier was crew chief for eight victories, including two of NASCAR's biggest events, the Daytona 500 (2007 with Kevin Harvick) and the Brickyard 400 (2003 also with Harvick).

Berrier directed Harvick's Chase playoff appearances in 2006, 2007 and 2008. Along with serving as Harvick's crew chief, Berrier also worked in the same capacity with RCR drivers Jeff Burton, Casey Mears and Jeff Green.

"Furniture Row Racing has a reputation in the Sprint Cup garage for its commitment and potential," said the 42-year-old Berrier. "I welcome this opportunity and can't wait to begin my new position at Indianapolis this weekend."

FRR PR

Approaching the Indianapolis Motor Speedway race weekend, JTG Daugherty Racing announced today significant changes that include a new general manager and crew chief change for the No. 47 single-car NASCAR Sprint Cup Series operation.  

Bobby Hutchens joins the racing organization as general manager.

“Bobby Hutchens is someone I have admired for a long time and the individual I’ve turned to many times for direction over my 18 years as a car owner,” said JTG Daugherty Racing co-owner Tad Geschickter. “In my opinion, he is the best in the business and we are fortunate to have someone of his caliber step in to help steer our team in the right direction during this important transition.”

David Hyder will assume the role as interim crew chief for this weekend’s race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

“We have our eye on the crew chief that we want for the long term, but couldn’t get it all done in time for the next few races,” Geschickter said. “We would rather make the right decision for the long term. We are fortunate to have David Hyder working at JTG Daugherty Racing every day as crew chief for the K&N Pro Series East team that we have been preparing each week for Cale Conley.  He has a wealth of Sprint Cup experience and we know he will do a great job until we make our decision.”

Todd Berrier, who joined JTG Daugherty Racing at the end of the 2011 season as crew chief and general manager, recently accepted a position with another team that was announced today. Co-owner Brad Daugherty stated that the departure will not deter the team from reaching its goals.

“Todd Berrier did a great job and we wish him the best in his new opportunity,” Daugherty said. “We have great people throughout the organization and with the leadership of a champion like Bobby Hutchens we will stay focused on being the number one single-car team competing on the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series circuit.”

This season, Labonte’s best finish in 19 starts is 10th at Daytona International Speedway in the Coke Zero 400 powered by Coca-Cola. Following the LENOX Industrial Tools 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, the 2000 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion is 23rd in the official driver standings. In the midst of the season, Labonte and his team embrace the changes.

“Like Tad mentioned, Hyder has been in our race shop all year with the K&N Pro Series East team and he knows all the guys and some of them have worked on his cars,” Labonte said. “The fact that he already knows everyone and has experience in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, makes him a great choice to help us in our transition.

“Bobby Hutchens is very knowledgeable and experienced,” Labonte continued. “He has a want and desire to do this, which will really help our small team become more structured so that we can keep moving forward. This is going to be a great advantage for us.”

Labonte’s team is prepared for the Brickyard this weekend as they display SCOTT Products on the hood of the No. 47 Toyota Camry. In 18 starts at the Brickyard, Labonte has one win (8/05/2000), four top five, five top 10 and has led 30 laps. His best start is 3rd (2000) and he holds the race record (155.912 mph on 08/05/2000).

“I think it’s going to be a little different this time around because it is the first time the NASCAR Nationwide Series cars are on the track,” Labonte said. “Normally, the track usually tightens up throughout race. This track is fun and challenging. It can be a hard track to pass on. Therefore, track position is going to be the key. I love going there. The year I won there with Joe Gibbs Racing, we were on a roll. We had everything going for us. After it was all said and done, not many guys can say they’ve won there. It’s just an awesome feeling. At the end of the day reflecting back, we won the Brickyard and the championship in the same year. It’s a neat feather in your cap. I’m looking forward to being back and racing there this weekend.”

JTG PR

Steve Ellisor has $12,000 to show for his outstanding academic record at Universal Technical Institute. He has his hard work, coupled with the generosity of race team owner Roger Penske and the Universal Technical Institute Foundation, to thank for it.

Ellisor, a recent UTI graduate from the Avondale, Ariz. campus, has been selected to receive the Roger Penske Outstanding Student Award. The honor rewards academic success, impeccable attendance, leadership qualities and outside service over the course of a student's education.

Ellisor, a 31-year-old father of two and former Marine, is humbled and grateful for the cash award.

"It was kind of like a lottery winning," Ellisor said. "It was like, 'Wow.' I'm extremely, extremely grateful. I'm still kind of blown away by it."

Ellisor admits that his accomplishments and ultimately the award didn't come easy, but his drive and ambition to succeed as an automotive technician kept him focused. He and his family plan to relocate to South Carolina to be closer to family.

But, before using the money to pay down debts or purchase new tools, Ellisor decided to donate $500 of his award back to the UTI Foundation in honor of UTI's founder Robert Sweet.

"Without him, and his vision, I couldn't even of had this opportunity," Ellisor said of Sweet, who passed away earlier this summer.

Don Ableson, UTI Foundation president and board chairman, said Ellisor is a wonderful reflection of who the Penske Outstanding Student Award is designed for. Ableson said Ellisor's desire to immediately give back speaks to his character.

"Most students could care less about something like that. I'm very impressed with this young man. We hope he'll go far." Ableson, one of three members on the Penske Award committee, said. "It's wonderful to see people with that kind of mental attitude and to have those qualities that he has shown."

The Penske Award was created in 2008 with a $100,000 donation, and it is awarded twice a year to the top student across all 11 UTI campuses.

UTI PR

Reality television star Captain "Wild" Bill Wichrowski from Deadliest Catch teamed up with road safety spokespeople Tayler Malsam driver of the #19 G-OIL Toyota Camry in the NASCAR Nationwide Series, motorsports Hall of Fame hydroplane racer Chip Hanauer and Emmy Award winning actor, Bryton James, of The Young and the Restless, in a united effort, for RADD® and NOYS® to promote "JST DRV" an anti-texting and driving campaign by NOYS aimed at teens. These four heavyweight celebrities joined together with the two nonprofits and #19 G-OIL team to generate awareness, via social media, to communities along with NASCAR fans about the dangers of distracted driving.

During Daytona Speedweek in March, Team G-OIL pledged to run the entire NASCAR season in partnership with National Organizations for Youth Safety (NOYS) and RADD, the entertainment industry's voice for road safety, to help prevent traffic crashes -- the #1 killer of children and teens! Joining the fight to save young lives, Captain Wild Bill has signed on as a RADD Spokesperson and will be bringing to Indy, two high-end, brightly painted custom golf carts that he personally donated to RADD. They will be showcased in the RADD-NOYS safety tent during "Super Weekend at the Brickyard 2012" from Thursday, July 26 through Sunday, July 29, 2012 at the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway. This is the first time in NASCAR's long history that the Nationwide Series will host an event at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

"No matter if you are driving a high performance race car at 200 mph, a commercial fishing vessel in the Bering Sea or your own personal ride, being distracted while you drive can be deadly," said Wild Bill. "The 'Don't Text and Drive' campaign in my opinion will save so many lives that there is no way to measure it's good worth. If everyone posted on Facebook or tweeted spreading the message to their loved ones to drive safely, it could make a tremendous difference."

A highlight of the RADD-NOYS exhibit at the track will be scheduled autograph sessions with Captain Wild Bill, Tayler Malsam, Chip Hanauer and Bryton James. NASCAR fans are encouraged to stop by the booth, meet the celebrities, take a photo in Malsam's #19 G-OIL Toyota Camry race car, and learn more about safe, sane and sober driving.

Ross Chastain is having a little fun again. As the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series made it’s way through the Midwest, Chastain spent his week entertaining and promoting watermelon at various venues around the Windy City. Saturday night, the Sunoco Rookie of the Year candidate had some fun on the racetrack bringing his Illiana Watermelon Association Toyota home 13th in the American Ethanol 225 at the Chicagoland Speedway.

 

The Florida teen qualified the SS Green Light No. 08 19th with a lap of 31.69 seconds on the mile and an half speedway just south of Chicago at over 170.4 miles per hour.

 

“It was a real good race. We definitely had a lot of fun, got to run the whole race and we learned a lot,” an excited Chastain said. “We practiced 20th and 12th, the truck felt the same in both sessions; we just had a little more speed in the second. We qualified 19th and then we were able to drive forward from the drop of the green, I was able to drive around a bunch of guys.”

“We got to run with some guys that we’ve been watching run like Ron Hornaday and Cale Gale, now we got to race with them a little bit. That was a good feeling and we’re going in the right direction. We have been pretty good when we unload and we’re doing the right things from the shop to the track.”

“At the end of the race were kind of stuck where we were so we decided to come down to pit road with about ten laps to go. We were in 12th, but I didn’t feel we could move forward from there.” Ross explained. “So we came in a put on a set of tires we had run good lap times on earlier in the race. We came to get those tires that had cooled off a bit for the finish. We were about the only ones to pit and we came out around 18th, one of the last trucks on the lead lap. At the drop of the green I was able to makes some moves on the outside to get around a bunch of trucks. Everything went right for us on that restart to get back to where we were before we pitted.”

“Then we had that last caution and the green, white, checkered. Somebody got jumbled-up on the start and I don’t know how I made it through it but I ended-up picking up a bunch of spots to 8th or 9th coming to the end of the race, it was pretty cool.”

“We we’re eighth on the white flag, but I got into the wall a little bit on the last lap; I just lost the nose and ran up to the wall, nobody pushed me up there or anything. I just barley got out of the gas and lost momentum and a couple of trucks got by me. I only hit the wall for ten feet, but it really slowed me down.”

Through the excitement of the last lap Ross brought the Illiana Watermelon Association Toyota across the finish line in 13th behind James Buescher who won his third race of the 2012 NCWTS season.

“It was awesome, the pit grew did great all night,” he concluded. “When we had a green flag pit-stop early in the race they got me out in front of Jason White who had just passed me on the track. It’s a good feeling with the pit crew he has for us to compete with them. All but our jackman work in the SS Green Light shop everyday. Everyone did a great job.”

SS Green Light Racing PR

John Wes Townley piloted the No. 09 Family Farmers Toyota Tundra to a 14th-place finish in Saturday night's American Ethanol 225 at Chicagoland Speedway, marking his career-best finish in NASCAR competition.

After two successful practice sessions on Friday, posting speeds fast enough for the 11th and 24th positions, respectively, Townley drove his Toyota Tundra to a 16th-place starting position in Saturday morning's qualifying session.

From the drop of the green flag Townley wasted no time advancing position, running as high as 13th by Lap 10. Throughout the 150-lap event, he expertly navigated a series of single-truck incidents. As  the sun began to set over the 1.5-mile speedway, crew chief Chris Rice  called for adjustments that kept the Family Farmers Tundra in tune with  the changing track conditions, and consistent stops on pit road by the  RAB Racing pit crew helped Townley keep his track position over the  course of the race.  He took the checkered flag in the 14th position, posting his career-best finish.

Townley garnered his sixth top-20 finish of the 2012 season, helping him advance one position in the driver point standings, to 19th.

"We  had a great weekend overall," said Townley. "We were pretty fast in  Friday's practice sessions. We focused on race runs and I think it  really paid off. Then we got a solid 16th place qualifying  position. I have to thank Family Farmers and Toyota for providing me  with this opportunity. I'm feeling good about my career-best finish and  can't wait to further improve at Pocono Raceway."

The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series has a week off before heading to Pocono Raceway August 4th, 2012 for race 11 of the 22-race schedule.    

RAB Racing PR

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