Speedway Digest Staff
Follow us on Twitter @SpeedwayDigest
With two races completed in the 2013 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, one thing is for certain: Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) teammates Matt Kenseth and Kyle Busch have been “Outrageously Dependable.”
So it’s only appropriate as the Sprint Cup competitors head to the third Chase race – Sunday’s AAA 400 at Dover (Del.) International Speedway – that Busch will have the Outrageously Dependable colors of Interstate Batteries along for the ride on his No. 18 Toyota.
In both the Chase opener two weekends ago at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Ill., and the second Chase race last Sunday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, JGR teammates have started NASCAR’s version of the playoffs with the hot hands. Kenseth and Busch posted back-to-back 1-2 finishes with Kenseth winning both.
While satisfied with his strong start to the Chase, Busch will head to Dover, statistically one of his better tracks, in hopes of being the JGR driver who wins in week three of the playoffs.
The Dover stats for Busch and his Interstate Batteries team are impressive – two Sprint Cup wins, three NASCAR Nationwide Series wins and three NASCAR Camping World Truck Series wins.
But this weekend, Busch will not only try to keep the early Chase momentum going, he’ll shoot for his sixth top-10 finish in his last seven events at the racetrack known as the “Monster Mile.” Busch has led an impressive 900 laps in his previous 17 starts at Dover. Even more impressive is that, while wins have eluded Busch in the past two Sprint Cup races there, he has led a staggering 452 of a possible 800 laps completed in those races.
So as Busch and his Interstate Batteries team look to continue their white-hot start to the Chase, they will look to build on strong recent runs at Dover in hopes of closing the deal with their Interstate Batteries Camry Sunday afternoon on the Delmarva Peninsula.
Richard Childress Racing driver Brian Scott will make his first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series start at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Saturday, Oct. 12. Shore Lodge will serve as the primary sponsor when the Boise, Idaho-native pilots the No. 33 Shore Lodge Chevrolet SS in the 500-mile event.
"I'm really looking forward to making my Sprint Cup Series debut at Charlotte Motor Speedway," Scott said. "It's something I've dreamed about since I got into racing. I really like the track and it will be really cool to do that in front of the NASCAR home crowd. It's a great opportunity, I'm so thankful to everyone at Shore Lodge and Richard Childress Racing for putting this together and giving me the chance to compete against the greatest drivers in our sport."
It will be a busy weekend at Charlotte Motor Speedway for Scott as he will be running double duty starting with the 300-mile NASCAR Nationwide Series event the prior evening. He has seven Nationwide Series starts at the 1.5 mile quad-oval, with one top-five and three top-10 finishes. Scott also has two NASCAR Camping World Truck Series starts at the track.
"Brian has been doing great with us this year in the Nationwide Series and it's always good to see young talent coming up in our sport," said Richard Childress, president and CEO of Richard Childress Racing. "He's shown a good feel for how to race our cars and that he's qualified to try his hand in the Sprint Cup Series. We're looking forward to having him in that race."
Scott joined the RCR Nationwide Series stable in 2013 as driver of the No. 2 Chevrolet Camaro and currently sits seventh in series championship standings with one pole award, three top-five and 12 top-10 finishes. In his Nationwide Series career, Scott has earned two pole awards, eight top-five and 35 top-10 finishes and is credited with 277-laps led. Additionally, he has two Camping World Truck Series victories, along with 11 top-five and 23 top-10 finishes throughout his career in that series.
Road improvements totaling more than $1.1 billion along Highway 114 will provide substantial advances to the ingress and egress of traffic flow for race fans visiting Texas Motor Speedway.
The improvements along Highway 114 - the speedway's main thoroughfare for fans east of Texas Motor Speedway - have continued to take shape as some projects will reach completion by November's AAA Texas 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series tripleheader weekend while the balance will be complete before the April 2014 NASCAR race weekend. The additional lanes along Highway 114 are expected to further improve the traffic flow during the AAA Texas 500 weekend and beyond.
"That should put the old myth about traffic issues away forever," Texas Motor Speedway President Eddie Gossage said. "Long lines of traffic are a thing of the past and the improved access along the speedway's most important highway will certainly catch the attention of fans."
The near completion of the DFW Connector project, one of the most complex construction projects in Dallas/Fort Worth history, has untangled an eight-mile stretch of highways 114 and 121 that run through nearby Grapevine. The construction project has made steady progress in alleviating traffic problems since it first began in October 2009.
The completion of the DFW Connector project in October also will provide improved traffic flow for fans traveling from Dallas and points west of Texas Motor Speedway.
"We used to tell our Dallas fans to take I-35E North to Denton and then take I-35W South to the speedway," Gossage said. "We don't have any hesitation to tell fans now to take 114 West from Dallas all the way to the speedway. The improvements have made it smooth sailing for fans."
Road improvements also have continued to take shape closer to the speedway with the Highway 114 Construction Project and Highway 114/170 expansion project, which surpass a combined total of $53.3 billion.
The Highway 114 Construction Project targets the stretch of highway west of I-35W and covers the road east of FM 156, including a key segment in front of Texas Motor Speedway. The $18 million project will expand the two-lane road into a four-lane frontage road and is set to be completed at the end of next year.
The Highway114/170 expansion project will provide a revamped interchange to improve traffic flow and alleviate congestion at the intersection of 114 and Trophy Lake Dr. in Trophy Club. The project begins at the intersection of Business Highway 114 and continues west, just beyond Westlake Parkway and Trophy Club Drive.
"We appreciate the hard work and ongoing efforts of the entire team at the Texas Department of Transportation," Gossage said. "These projects go a long way in enhancing the fan experience."
Texas 500 NASCAR Spring Weekend, INDYCAR Race Length Modified As 2014 Texas Motor Speedway Schedule Announced
The 2014 motorsports schedule for Texas Motor Speedway will once again feature the eighth race of the Chase for the Sprint Cup with November's AAA Texas 500, but also includes variations to its spring NASCAR doubleheader weekend and annual INDYCAR race.
The Texas 500 NASCAR doubleheader schedule will be modified to provide both local and visiting fans the ultimate sports weekend with the NCAA Final Four tournament semifinals also being staged that weekend in Arlington.
The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Texas 500 has been run Saturday evening the past three years, but will return to its traditional Sunday afternoon slot for only the 2014 season. The shift to Sunday, April 6, will avoid a head-to-head conflict with the college semifinal basketball games scheduled for Saturday, April 5, and also allow fans that are visiting the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex for the college basketball tournament the opportunity to enjoy some NASCAR racing, in particular the Texas 500 since there are no NCAA Final Four games that day.
Texas Motor Speedway also will tweak the traditional NASCAR race weekend schedule and run the O'Reilly Auto Parts 300 Nationwide Series race the evening of Friday, April 4, while The Dallas Morning News SportsDay Qualifying Day for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series will take place the afternoon of Saturday, April 5. The on-track activity officially begins Thursday, April 3, with a pair of Nationwide Series practices and The Dallas Morning News SportsDay Qualifying Day for the Nationwide Series set for Friday, April 4.
With the NCAA semifinals scheduled for Saturday, April 5, and the championship game for the evening of Monday, April 6, the race schedule changes provide a unique opportunity for a dynamic sports weekend in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex.
The INDYCAR/NASCAR doubleheader remains in its traditional slot - two weeks after the Indianapolis 500 on June 5-7 - but IndyCar Series race fans literally will get more mileage out of their visit next season. "America's Original Nighttime IndyCar Race" will have an additional 50 kilometers of race action and be retitled the Firestone 600 to reflect the change in the race distance.
The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series will be paired with the IndyCar Series for the 18th consecutive season, dating to the speedway's opening in 1997. The WinStar World Casino And Resort 400 will be held the evening of Friday, June 6, along with IndyCar Series qualifying. The race week kicks off Thursday, June 5, with practice and qualifying for the WinStar World Casino And Resort 400. The weekend culminates with the Firestone 600 IndyCar Series race the evening of Saturday, June 7.
The Texas Motor Speedway season concludes once again with a NASCAR tripleheader spiced with playoff-type drama as the AAA Texas 500 race week is set for Oct. 30-Nov. 2. The weekend will feature the AAA Texas 500, the eighth race in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup since its debut in 2005, on Sunday, Nov. 2. The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series will be joined by its other top-tier series as the Camping World Truck Series WinStar World Casino And Resort 350 will be held the evening of Friday, Oct. 31, and the Nationwide Series O'Reilly Auto Parts Challenge on Saturday, Nov. 1.
Pole qualifying for the NSCS AAA Texas 500 and NCWTS WinStar World Casino And Resort 350 will be held Friday, Oct. 31, while the NNS O'Reilly Auto Parts Challenge qualifying will be held Saturday, Nov. 1. The race week officially begins Thursday, Oct. 30, with a pair of NCWTS practices.
Official start times and television partners for each event will be announced at a later date.
The 2014 season also will feature the debut of the world's largest HD video board - Big Hoss TV - beginning with April's Texas 500 race weekend. The video board, which will be built by Panasonic, will boast 20,666.64 square feet of 1080p HD display. The screen will be 218 feet wide by 94½ feet tall, but the actual height of the structure will rise to nearly 125 feet above ground level with its support structures. The 108-ton video board will be located in the center of the backstretch behind the grandstands. For a sneak preview of the Big Hoss TV promotional trailer, please click here.
Season tickets, which consist of three race weekends and 16 events, begin as low as $270 for adults and $150 for children 12 and under and go on sale in conjunction with the schedule announcement. Season ticketholder benefits include best seat selection; discounts up to 29 percent (varies on seat location) over purchasing tickets individually; special discounts on concessions, merchandise, camping, parking and pit passes; access to the pre-race "No Limits" Garage Party presented by WinStar World Casino in April and November; and special offers on additional events held at the speedway.
Current season ticket holders will have first chance at renewing their seats or relocating for the best site lines of Big Hoss TV, in conjunction with the schedule announcement. The 2014 season ticket packages for new accounts will go on sale during the AAA Texas 500 race weekend of Oct. 31-Nov. 3.
Individual race tickets will go on sale Feb. 14. Due to expected ticket demand for the debut of Big Hoss TV, priority reservations will be given to 2013 season ticket holders, 2013 AAA Texas 500 4-Pack purchasers upgrading to 2014 season tickets, new 2014 season ticket purchasers, 4-Pack purchasers for the upcoming AAA Texas 500 and individual ticket purchasers for the AAA Texas 500, respectively. For additional ticket information, please call the Texas Motor Speedway ticket office at (817) 215-8500 or visit www.texasmotorspeedway.com.
Texas Motor Speedway, Panasonic Creating World's Largest Sporting Venue HD Video Board For 2014 Season
Texas Motor Speedway announced Monday that the world-renown motorsports facility is partnering with Panasonic to create the world's largest high-definition video board and enhance another major aspect of the overall fan experience beginning in 2014.
In a state that already boasts seven of the world's 50 largest HD video boards, Texas Motor Speedway will vault to the No. 1 position for a sporting venue in not only Texas but the world with this behemoth creation by Panasonic.
The video board display, which will be located in the center of the backstretch, will feature a staggering 20,633.64 square feet of HD display - nearly a half-acre - with dimensions of 218 feet wide and 94.6 feet tall. The entire structure will stand nearly 125 feet above ground level and weigh more than 108 tons.
The display size will allow Texas Motor Speedway to succeed its fellow Speedway Motorsports, Inc. facility - Charlotte Motor Speedway (16,000 sf) - as the owner of the world's largest sporting venue hi-definition screen as well as wrestle the state title away from the Houston Texans' Reliant Stadium that recently upgraded its facility with 14,549 square feet of HD video displays. Locally, it will be 79 percent larger than the video board at AT&T Stadium (11,520 sf), home of the Dallas Cowboys.
The video board, nicknamed "Big Hoss TV" by speedway officials, will debut April 3-6 at the Texas 500 NASCAR doubleheader weekend. No financial terms of the agreement between Texas Motor Speedway and Panasonic were disclosed.
During race weekends, the video board will feature live race coverage, leaderboard information, driver and race statistics, instant replays, interactive entertainment and more. Speedway officials also are examining a variety of options to utilize the video board during non-race weekends as well.
Construction will begin following the Oct. 31-Nov. 3 AAA Texas 500 NASCAR tripleheader weekend and the project is scheduled for completion by March 2014.
As a principal player in the Large-Scale LED market, Panasonic is a pioneer in the design and installation of many of the most monumental video boards in sports and entertainment, including three of the world's largest screens in professional sports and in college football. With its extensive history and experience in providing large screens, Panasonic offers customers innovative and custom-made complete solutions that drive social interaction and provide a versatile digital platform that engages viewers and operators.
For a sneak preview of the Big Hoss TV promotional trailer, click here.
The roar of NASCAR Sprint Cup engines will be filling the air at Martinsville Speedway this fall long before the green flag falls on the Goody’s® Headache Relief Shot® 500 Powered by Kroger on October 27.
Five Sprint Cup teams and a total of nine Sprint Cup drivers will test at Martinsville Speedway October 7-9. The test sessions will be open to the public at no charge.
Roush Fenway Racing, Richard Childress Racing, Earnhardt Ganassi Racing, Front Row Motorsports and Furniture Row racing will be on hand those days testing for the Goody’s® Headache Relief Shot® 500 Powered by Kroger, the seventh race in the Chase for the Sprint Cup.
Cup drivers testing will included Carl Edwards, Greg Biffle and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (Roush Fenway Racing); Kevin Harvick, Jeff Burton and Paul Menard (Richard Childress Racing); Kyle Larson (Earnhardt Ganassi), David Gilliland (Front Row) and Kurt Busch (Furniture Row).
Brad Keselowski Racing, which fields teams in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, will also test on October 7-9.
There will be more truck series testing later in October, with Red Horse Racing on October 14 and Richard Childress Racing’s truck teams on October 14-15. Another Sprint Cup team, Swan Racing, will share the track with the RCR truck teams on October 15.
Testing will run from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day with an hour break at noon. Grandstands will open at 9 a.m. each day and are open to the public free of charge.
All testing dates are tentative and subject to change, as are the drivers.
Martinsville Speedway PR
UPDATE: APRIL 21, 2015 STEVE BYRNES HAS PASSED AWAY AT THE AGE OF 56
NASCAR RACE HUB co-host and longtime NASCAR on FOX on-air personality Steve Byrnes will take a medical leave of absence for the remainder of the 2013 NASCAR season, effective immediately.
Adam Alexander, one of the show’s original hosts, will fill in for Byrnes alongside Danielle Trotta beginning with Monday’s edition, which airs live at 4:00 P.M. ET on FOX Sports 1. NASCAR RACE HUB this week returns to a one-hour format through the completion of the 2013 season in order to highlight the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. The show airs at 4:00 P.M. ET Monday through Thursday.
Any updates on Byrnes will come at the discretion of the family.
Fox Sports PR
AJ Allmendinger will race for JTG Daugherty Racing in the next two NASCAR Sprint Cup Series events in the AAA 400 at Dover International Speedway and the Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Speedway. He is also slated for the season-finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
At Dover, Allmendinger's best finish is seventh-place twice (9/27/09 and 10/2/11) and his best start is second twice (5/13/11 and 9/24/10) in 11 starts. The 31-year-old has three top-10 finishes at the track.
Allmendinger scored the team's best finish (10th) of the season at Watkins Glen International.
AJ behind the wheel at Dover: “We think Allmendinger's record at Dover is really good,” JTG Daugherty Racing co-owner Tad Geschickter said. “He has led a good number of laps there, come close to winning and it is a track that suits his style. There is not a more aggressive physical track on the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series schedule than Dover and when you hit there you hit a ton. While Bobby is still recuperating from his broken ribs, Dover is a race that we have decided to put AJ in the No. 47 House-Autry Toyota."
Taken to the track: "Dover International Speedway is a good track for me," Allmendinger said. "It is probably one of my favorite tracks that we race on the circuit. I feel like I have taken to that track. Actually, I felt that way the first time I got there. You can be aggressive driving it. It is really fast. You can be more aggressive on that track the way you charge the corner. I get along pretty well with it because of that factor."
Close in some cases: "I have had chances to win some races there and it did not work out," Allmendinger said. "I have had decent success there. Stat-wise it is one of my better tracks. I am looking forward to getting back to the track and continuing to work to make the cars better and developing them as we learn each other as a team."
A chance to shine: “We feel like we’ve really gained some momentum as a team,” crew chief Brian Burns said. “We’ve got AJ in the car this weekend and it will give us a chance to get better at communication and have a better understanding of each other. AJ enjoys being around the team and the more time we are together, the more it is going to help heading into next season. We feel like this is a strong track for him and we have a good baseline setup. We have high expectations as good as he is and it is a place where I feel like we can overachieve. He hasn't been in these cars at this track, but I don't feel like that is going to hurt us at all.”
A new experience: "I have not had the chance to race with these cars at Dover yet," Allmendinger said. "When I raced there with the old car with the tire they brought, the track would rubber up. There would be a lot of rubber buildup and you would have to drive around it. It made you think about how to get around it."
Making rounds at Dover: "Some guys will run around the bottom," Allmendinger said. "You can diamond the corner and make some speed. Concrete-wise the surface does not change as much as pavement or asphalt. However, it does rubber up and keeps changing. You have got to keep up with the track. It makes it tough. At the same time, it has been always fun to race and I really enjoy it. We are hoping to run well. At Chicagoland Speedway, it was not one of our better races, but we learned where we need to be."
Having some down time: "When you are off, the off time is good and bad," Allmendinger said. "It gives me time to reset. During the NASCAR season, you do not have that if you race full-time. I would rather be in a car. When I do have time, I take care of daily things in life. It has given me a chance to train really hard and get back into form of setting goals for myself. I have been working out or driving a go-kart to stay in shape. I’m doing a big go-kart race in Las Vegas after racing at Homestead-Miami Speedway. I’m excited about that."
After weather wreaked havoc on Casey Mears and his fellow racers a week ago, the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series was happy to arrive in Loudon, New Hampshire, for the Sylvania 300. Mears and his GEICO team were looking to rebound from a 30th place finish in Chicago where a five-hour rain delay and subsequent cold weather caused an angry racecar to battle Mears for most of the night.
Friday in New Hampshire proved challenging for Mears and the Germain Racing crew when they ended up 31st in practice and later qualified 34th. Saturday, however, took a turn for the better when Mears and his #13 GEICO Ford Fusion looked much quicker in practice and left the team hopeful for Sunday’s 300-lap race.
Rain once again threatened this weekend, but did not prevail. Track dryers had the racing surface clear in time for the race to get underway with an on-time start. Mears would roll off 34th, but appeared confident in his bid to move forward. While he experienced handling issues early on, the lap 30 caution allowed him to bring his #13 GEICO Ford to the attention of his pit crew for tires, fuel and much needed adjustments. He recovered quickly and by lap 48 eyed the top 25, as he sat solidly in 26th place. Mears continued making progress and was in 21st position on lap 59.
On several occasions, the #13 GEICO Ford Fusion was the fastest car on the track and Mears would regularly produce lap times consistent with the leaders. The Germain pit crew was also impressive, twice gaining positions during pit stops.
After 317.4-miles of racing concluded, Mears and his GEICO team rebounded well and recorded a 25th place finish, moving up nine positions from where they departed the starting grid. Mears’ finish is Germain Racing’s 17th top 25 result of the 2013 season.
“The weekend started off rough, but I’m pleased with how well our GEICO team did during pit stops today, making changes to the car, getting me out quickly; it helped get everything turned around,” Mears said. “It was nice to come here and get a decent finish after a tough race last week. We’re looking forward to getting to Dover because it’s so close to GEICO’s corporate office and we always have associates come down for the race.”
The Germain Racing team will now play in the Gecko’s backyard when they travel to Dover, Delaware for next week’s race.
Casey Mears and the #13 GEICO Ford Fusion will hit the track at Dover International Speedway for the weekend’s opening practice session on Friday, September 27th, at 11:00 AM (EDT). Qualifying will follow at 3:10 PM (EDT).