Wednesday, Jul 06
Speedway Digest Staff

Speedway Digest Staff

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Notes of Interest

 

● Chase Briscoe, driver of the No. 14 Rush Truck Centers/Cummins Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), is fresh off his ninth top-15 finish of the season after earning a 14th-place result last weekend at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin. Briscoe started in the second position, narrowly missing out on his second pole of the season, and won the first stage of the 62-lap race.

 

● Briscoe is 16th in the driver standings with eight races remaining in the regular season. He currently holds a spot in the 16-driver playoff field by virtue of his March 13 win at Phoenix Raceway.

 

● When the Cup Series visited Atlanta Motor Speedway earlier this year, the track had undergone an offseason reconfiguration to create tighter, superspeedway-type racing on its 1.54-mile oval. The racing surface was narrowed from 55 feet to 40 feet and the banking was increased to 28 degrees – the most of any intermediate track on the schedule.

 

● Briscoe started the race from the pole after qualifying was cancelled due to inclement weather, and he led five of the first six laps, his first laps led at Atlanta. He went on to finish 15th, tying his career-best Atlanta finish in his third start there.

 

● Outside of the Cup Series, Briscoe also has three NASCAR Xfinity Series starts at Atlanta with a best finish of ninth in 2020, and a NASCAR Camping World Truck Series start there in 2017.

 

● All of the SHR cars travel from race to race in haulers from Rush Truck Centers, the premier service solutions provider to the commercial vehicle industry. And those haulers are supported by the RushCare team of parts and service experts, who also provide concierge-level service and maintenance, technical support, schedule mobile service, dispatch roadside assistance, help locate the nearest dealer, and more. Rush Truck Centers is the largest network of commercial vehicle dealerships in the United States with 139 locations, and takes pride in its integrated approach to customer needs – from vehicle sales to aftermarket parts, service and body shop operations, plus financing, insurance, leasing and rental, as well as alternate fuel systems and other vehicle technologies.

 

● Rush Truck Centers is also a leader in all-makes parts for the commercial vehicle industry, and has released its third All-Makes Parts Catalog. The catalog features 16,000 parts from more than 125 manufacturers, the most common parts needed for commercial vehicles. No matter what brand of truck you drive, you’ll find what you need in this catalog. It also is filled with product and technical tips to help keep you up and running.  Contact a local Rush Truck Centers location to pick up a copy today.

 

Indiana-based Cummins, from car owner Tony Stewart’s hometown of Columbus, is also along for the ride at Atlanta. Cummins is a corporation of complementary business segments that design, manufacture, distribute and service a broad portfolio of power solutions. It is best known for its diesel truck engines. Since its founding in 1919, Cummins now employs approximately 61,600 people and serves customers in about 190 countries and territories through a network of some 8,000 wholly owned and independent dealer and distributor locations.

 

Chase Briscoe, Driver of the No. 14 Rush Truck Centers/Cummins Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing:

 

You’ve now been to Atlanta with the new layout. You started on the pole and ran in the pack, so do you feel more prepared than when you were first there in March?

“I’m not sure. You might not be able to go back in your notebook as far as you’d like because it’s more of a superspeedway race now and there’s not a ton you can do from a car standpoint. Atlanta is one of the harder races now because it’s like a superspeedway race with a little bit of balance focus when it comes to setup. I feel like everyone is still kind of even now, but just having experience there will be big on the mental side. Mentally, that was the hardest race I’ve ever run. This race being 100 miles shorter should be better. But it’s still going to be way more intense than most of these other races we run. It’ll be interesting to see how that race plays out. We’re coming toward the end of the regular season. There’s an opportunity for a lot of guys to get their first win of the year there and Daytona, or for someone else to add another one and better secure their spot. So we’re all going to be up on the wheel and hopefully we can have a good day and help our position in playoffs.”

 

What changed with the reconfiguration to make is such a different race?

“Just the runs and how they come together. You go to Daytona or Talladega and it’s two and a half miles and it looks like things just happen so fast, but the runs develop slower on the bigger track. At Atlanta, you take a mile out of the racetrack and things really do happen that much faster. The momentum, the runs – your spotter can only talk so fast to let you know what’s coming.”

 

TSC PR

Pony rides. Morning yoga in the infield. Nightly block parties. Access to legendary drivers and chocolate galore. Race fans will enjoy all that and much more when NASCAR returns to Pocono Raceway for a jam-packed weekend of on- and off-track activities, July 22-24.

On track, fans will enjoy four main events in just three days, including the General Tire Delivers 200 ARCA Menards Series (Friday), CRC Brakleen 150 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (Saturday), the Explore the Pocono Mountains 225 NASCAR Xfinity Series (Saturday), and the M&M’S Fan Appreciation 400 NASCAR Cup Series main event on Sunday.

Off track, Pocono Raceway is committed to providing a full schedule of free entertainment that is included with each event ticket. Here’s a glimpse of what fans can expect:

Family-Friendly Fun

Free Kids Admission

Kids 12 and under are admitted free ALL weekend, including to the M&M’S Fan Appreciation 400 NASCAR Cup Series race; up to four kids tickets with one adult ticket.

Fan Fair & Midway

Fan Fair offers fun for everyone, featuring a classic carnival, rides and games, as well as the Lehigh Valley Reilly Children’s Hospital Kids Zone for face painting, inflatables and kid-friendly fun. Fan Fair will include interactive displays from Chevrolet, General Tire, Weis Markets, Busch Light, M&M’S, Bear Hollow Wood Carvers, Rowdy Energy and DoorDash, to name a few.  Admission to this fan-favorite area is included with your race ticket and will open daily: Friday at 2 p.m., Saturday and Sunday at 8 a.m.

Free Classic Carnival

Fan Fair will also host a classic carnival, including rides, slides, and plenty of fun. All rides are FREE with gate admission.

 

Pocono Raceway Vet Village

Pocono Raceway will continue its longstanding tradition of honoring our veterans and military members. The Vet Village, located in Fan Fair, will host more than 30 veteran-based organizations. In addition, the raceway will host more than 100 Gold Star families for breakfast and a special ceremony on Sunday morning.

Lehigh Valley Reilly Children’s Hospital Kids Day

Saturday is all about the kids at Pocono Raceway. Enjoy FREE activities, including face painting, exhibits, photo booths, educational/community activities and more.  All activities and entertainment are FREE for kids (ages 12 and under) and FREE for adults with a Saturday ticket.

 

Roaming Entertainers

Keep your eyes peeled all weekend long for something super! You might just find magicians, Captain America and Wonder Woman roaming around the fan areas.

Playgrounds

Pocono Raceway is home to two playgrounds for kids to burn some energy. Tricky’s Kit Kamp is designed for our youngest fans to play near gate 8 behind the grandstands. Located in the infield, the #PoconoMtns Inclusive Playground is designed for children of all ages and abilities to learn, grow and play together. The nearly 5,000-square-foot playground is one of the top 100 inclusive playgrounds in the country.

Sensory Rooms

Pocono Raceway partnered with KultureCity to make the raceway a sensory-inclusive motorsports facility. If needed, guests can access sensory bags, which include noise-canceling headphones, fidget tools, verbal cue cards and weighted lap pads, two sensory rooms, and the #PoconoMtns Inclusive Playground to maximize their enjoyment of race weekend.

 

Camping

Camping at Pocono Raceway is simply the best and easiest way to maximize four days of fun and entertainment. Campers will enjoy:

Pocono Mountains Activities & Welcome Center

Built three years ago in the heart of the infield, the Welcome Center is open to campers and staffed by Pocono Mountains Visitors Bureau employees who can offer local information and tips. 

This popular spot will host activities Thursday-Sunday ranging from morning yoga to science activities for the kids to ‘paint & sips’ for adults. All FREE for campers. All programming is directed by teachers and counselors from Northampton Community College.

Reptile Wrangler

Say hello to some friendly reptiles and learn from the Reptile Wrangler on Friday from 3-5 p.m.

 

Pony Rides

Kids can enjoy a different type of horsepower with pony rides on Saturday from 4-6 p.m. in the grassy area adjacent to the #POCONOMTNS Inclusive Playground.

 

Infield Block Party

From 5 p.m.-midnight Thursday-Saturday, the Infield Block Party is the place to be! Enjoy high-energy cover bands, drink specials and a one-of-a-kind celebration each night. Please note: The Infield Block Party is only open to camping guests; no public access.

Track Access

Campers have special access to enjoy a walk, run or bike ride on ‘The Tricky Triangle’ Thursday evening from 3-6 p.m. and Friday morning from 8-11 a.m.

Fireworks

Don’t miss the Pocono Mountains’ biggest fireworks show on Saturday night at 9:15 p.m. Free to all camping guests. Limited spots are still available at poconoraceway.com/camping.

 

Bark Park

Pocono Raceway’s camping areas are dog friendly! All guests with dogs are encouraged to check out the Bark Park, centrally located in the infield. Please follow all posted rules. Open 8 a.m.-6 p.m. daily. 

Recess with Chase Briscoe

School may be out, but kids can still enjoy ‘recess’ with NASCAR Cup Series driver Chase Briscoe on Saturday at 4:30 p.m. The first 300 kids at the infield playground will enjoy a free treat with Tricky and hang out with Briscoe. 

Alex Bowman Visits the Bark Park

Bring your pooch and meet Hendrick Motorsports driver Alex Bowman at the Bark Park on Sunday at noon. For the comfort and convenience of all our furry friends, access will be limited.

Driver Access

Driver Autograph Sessions

On Friday and Saturday, bring out the family to get autographs from drivers in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (Friday, 3 p.m.) and NASCAR Xfinity Series (Saturday, 11:30 a.m.). Wristbands will be distributed in advance and autograph sessions will take place at the M&M’S® Fan Stage located in Fan Fair.

Austin Cindric Trackside Q&A

Daytona 500 champion Austin Cindric will take his place in the Starter’s Stand on Sunday at 12:15 p.m. as race fans sign the start/finish line.

Fan Amenities

Monster Energy Free Friday

Bring an empty Monster Energy drink can to any grandstand gate, recycle it and get in free on Friday, July 22, for the General Tire Delivers 200 ARCA Menards Series race and Camping World Truck Series practice and qualifying. 

Hauler Parades

Fans can give NASCAR’s highway warriors a Pocono Raceway-sized welcome during three hauler parades on Saturday and Sunday. The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and Xfinity Series haulers will parade in on Friday at 8:30 a.m. and 11:30 a.m., respectively, while the NASCAR Cup Series haulers enter on Saturday at 7:30 a.m.

The haulers will come from behind the grandstand, pass outside of Turn 3, cut across the track and pass through the Turn 3 infield campgrounds before entering the garage.

M&M’S® Fan Stage (located in Fan Fair)

The M&M’S® Fan Stage is the sweetest place to enjoy autograph sessions, fan Q&As, live music and more. Don’t miss Sunday’s Q&A sessions with legendary M&M’S® drivers, including Ernie Irvan, Ken Schrader, David Gilliland and Kyle Busch. Check the stage-side schedule for complete details.

Worry-free Weather Guarantee

The Worry-Free Weather Guarantee ensures that fans who purchase M&M’S(R) Fan Appreciation 400 NASCAR Cup Series tickets for Sunday, July 24, directly from Pocono Raceway in advance will be reimbursed the ticket’s face value if weather postpones the race and they are unable to make the rescheduled event. 

Free Fan WiFi

FREE WiFi is now available at Pocono Raceway. Fans can turn on their Wi-Fi setting, find the #PoconoFreeFanWiFi network and log on with the click of a button for FREE!

Food & Drink

Pack your appetite when you head to the track! Fans can enjoy everything from a Greek food truck in the Paddock to Tricky’s Trash Can Fries located behind he grandstands. Plus, quench your thirst at Busch Light bars in the Paddock, Midway and Fan Fair areas or enjoy local-favorite Pocono Punch crafted by local favorite Barley Creek Brewing Company in Tannersville, Pa.

 

2022 NASCAR Schedule of Events

  • Friday, July 22 – General Tire Delivers 200 - ARCA Menards Series
  • Saturday, July 23 – CRC Brakleen 150 - NASCAR Camping World Truck Series
  • Saturday July 23 – Explore the Pocono Mountains 225 - NASCAR Xfinity Series
  • Sunday, July 24 – M&M’S Fan Appreciation 400 - NASCAR Cup Series

Pocono Raceway PR

Sure, NASCAR weekends at “The Magic Mile” are known for fast cars, squealing tires and feeling the roar of 40 of the best drivers in the world flying down the frontstretch; but this year, it’s the off-track entertainment at New Hampshire Motor Speedway (NHMS) that is guaranteed to make this race weekend unforgettable.

From a chainsaw sculptor to a wild west comedy gunfight, New England’s only NASCAR weekend will have a fun-filled schedule of family-friendly entertainment options for all ages. The free entertainment begins Wednesday, July 13 and continues through Sunday, July 17. The entertainment lineup includes:

 

The Groove Fan Hangout

New for 2022, The Groove is the ultimate hangout spot to mingle with friends, family and other race fans. Located in the Fan Zone, The Groove will feature DJs, a mechanical bull, a selfie station and plenty of live entertainment, plus comfy couches to lounge in while taking in all the sights. Food and drinks will be available for purchase.

 

Open Wednesday through Sunday during race week, fans can enjoy bingo, trivia and karaoke. DJ Nazzy and the Flying Ivories Dueling Pianos will keep the party going throughout the weekend.

 

Click here for a complete schedule of weekend fun at The Groove.

 

Elm City Party Bike

Great times, great exercise and great fun! The Elm City Party Bike is New England’s first and foremost pedaled party and sightseeing bike. Race fans can enjoy a fun, social and relaxing way to explore the NHMS property – from The Groove, around the Fan Zone, down to The Flat Track and back – while exercising or partaking in a snack or beverage of choice. The best part? It’s BYOB!

 

Elm City Party Bike tours will cruise up and down Broadway Thursday through Sunday of race week. Each tour lasts approximately 10-12 minutes, so gather up your riding partners and head down to The Groove to sign up for a ride.

 

Click here for a complete schedule and further information.

 

Dirty Deeds

A true audio and visual experience, fan-favorite AC/DC tribute band Dirty Deeds invites race fans to take part in two hours of pure rock ‘n’ roll escapism as they take the stage Saturday from 8-10 p.m. paying tribute to one of the greatest bands of our time. The concert will take place at the Embrace Home Loans Entertainment Stage in the S2 Lot.

 

Family Movie Night

Race fans can get their popcorn and favorite snacks and find their seats in the grandstands or get comfy on a blanket on the grassy backstretch hill to enjoy “Sing 2” on the infield screens. “The Magic Mile” movie night is scheduled for an 8 p.m. start on Thursday.

 

Jim the Magician

Professional entertainer and member of the Society of American Magicians, Jim the Magician will entertain and amaze New England race fans with his magical talents. After honing his craft for more than three decades, the Massachusetts magician will wow crowds with his up-close magic and other tricks from 12-2 p.m. Friday, Saturday and Sunday in the Fan Zone.

 

“The Machine” Jesse Green

World famous master chainsaw sculptor and star of the worldwide primetime TV series “American Chainsaw” on the National Geographic Channel, “The Machine” Jesse Green will showcase his talents throughout race weekend by carving a life-size Milo the Moose. “The Machine” will set up shop in the Fan Zone, keeping fans – and his saws – buzzing with excitement throughout the weekend.

 

The Gunfighters

Yeehaw! With their own unique brand of western humor, The Gunfighters have been entertaining audiences since 1978. Race fans can witness a good ol’ fashioned Wild West comedy gunfight all weekend at NHMS. The satirical showdown is scheduled to take place in the Fan Zone, with side-slipping comedy shows scheduled Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

 

XPogo

If the action on track isn’t enough to get your motor running, how about some high-flying extreme pogoing? XPogo, a group of aerial artists who currently hold 14 Guinness World Records, will bring the world’s best extreme pogo entertainment to Loudon. Is another record in the cards? Don’t miss XPogo performances in the Fan Zone on Saturday and Sunday to find out.

 

Trackside Live

Race fans can kick start their day off with Trackside Live on Saturday at 10 a.m. and Sunday at 10:45 a.m. The hour-long show, held on the Embrace Home Loans Entertainment Stage and hosted by Jose Castillo, will deliver driver appearances, special guests and much more. Click here for the full schedule and guest lineup.

 

Robert Castillo’s BMX Freestyle Team

Catch the high-flying, two-wheeled action of the ultimate BMX stunt show experience all weekend. Robert Castillo’s BMX Freestyle Team will wow the crowd with stunts and balancing acts on their tricked-out, two-wheeled machines. Check them out in the Fan Zone throughout the day Saturday and Sunday.

 

More Fan Zone Fun

Before the green flag flies, the Fan Zone is THE place to be all weekend long. Located in the S2 Lot, Fan Zone activities will be on full display Friday from 12-5 p.m. as well as Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. Race fans can test their physical agility in the Black Ops inflatable obstacle course, get a hole-in-one at the mini-golf course, play their friends in bocce ball and classic carnival games, ride the LED Ferris wheel, get an airbrush tattoo and check out the mobile video game trailer from Rolling Video Games of New Hampshire.

 

Rock Point Viewing Area

Added in 2021, Rock Point is an open viewing area featuring lawn games, picnic tables and a cash bar perched atop a beautifully-landscaped area in turn four. It’s the perfect place for race fans to cheer on their favorite drivers with their friends as they mash the throttle and race toward the finish line. Rock Point is open Saturday and Sunday beginning at 11 a.m. The area will close following the checkered flag each evening.

 

Food Court

Race fans looking to fuel up for the race can stop by the Food Court behind the Main Grandstands for delicious grab ‘n’ go options, race weekend favorites and more. The Food Court will be open Saturday from 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m. until the checkered flag for the Ambetter 301 NASCAR Cup Series race.

 

Giant Games

NHMS has some wicked big fun in store for race fans at The Flat Track, with giant pong and corn hole, plus a bounce house and DJ Ricky Lee (starting at 6 p.m.) during Friday Night Dirt Duels Presented by New England Racing Fuel. The fun all starts at 5 p.m.

 

Atlas Fireworks and Shot of Poison

At The Flat Track, once the final checkered flag flies on Friday Night Dirt Duels Presented by New England Racing Fuel, Atlas Fireworks will put on an amazing display of fireworks before Shot of Poison takes the stage. Atlas Fireworks is set to light up the sky at approximately 9 p.m. followed by a tribute to the 35th anniversary of the greatest rock and roll party band of all time, Poison. Shot of Poison will hit The Flat Track stage for a 90-minute performance following the fireworks.

 

Be sure to check NHMS.com/Events/NASCAR-Cup-Series/Fan-Entertainment/ for more information on all of these features and more.

 

Tickets:

Log on to NHMS.com for tickets and more information on the weekend’s lineup of action-packed racing. Tickets for Friday Night Dirt Duels Presented by New England Racing Fuel are just $20 for adults and $10 for kids 12 and under. Doubleheader Saturday tickets start at just $45 for adults while kids 12 and under are free. Sunday’s Ambetter 301 tickets start at just $59 for adults and $10 for kids 12 and under.

 

Follow Us:

Keep track of all of New Hampshire Motor Speedway’s events by following on Facebook (@NHMotorSpeedway), Twitter (@NHMS) and Instagram (@NHMS). Keep up with all the latest information on the speedway website (NHMS.com) and mobile app.

 

NHMS PR

While Mother Nature took the fireworks out of the sky, the drivers put a show on the track for Round 5 of the Cook Out Summer Shootout at Charlotte Motor Speedway presented by Cabarrus Brewing. Connor Zilisch (VP Racing Semi-Pro division) and Darren Krantz Jr. (Bandolero Bandits) were among the drivers claiming stars and stripes victories one day after the Fourth of July.

Zilisch Outruns the Rain in the VP Racing Semi-Pro Competition

The VP Racing Semi-Pro feature showcased Trevor Wester’s speed as he led the competition for the first six laps until a restart gave Connor Zilisch room to take control. The second caution of the night gave the lead back to Wester who maintained it for five more trips around the frontstretch quarter-mile. On a third restart, Zilisch took the inside corner of turn two at lap 12 to pass Wester for good in a race to outrun the weather. Lightning in the area caused the race to be called at lap 19, giving Zilisch the win.

Krantz Jr Battles Bandolero Bandits for Second Win

In the Bandolero Bandits division, Hudson Canipe started at the front with an intense battle behind him among Ben Morabito, Darren Krantz Jr. and Beckham Malone. Canipe maintained his lead until lap 16 when Owen Zacharias blew a tire to bring out a yellow flag. Canipe and Morabito battled side by side after the restart before contact sent Canipe spinning sideways and out of contention. On the subsequent restart, Krantz Jr. passed Morabito for the lead off turn 4 on lap 18, then cruised to victory for his second Cook Out Summer Shootout win.

Krantz Jr. is now five for five in podium finishes at Charlotte Motor Speedway this summer including a first place win in Round 2.

Cook Out Summer Shootout fun continues with Round 6 on Tuesday, July 12. “Night of Games” at America’s Home for Racing will feature a full slate of fun and games with thrilling Legend Car and Bandolero action. Next week’s schedule will also include weather-postponed Boston Reid & Company Pro and Masters division features from tonight’s schedule.

TICKETS:

Cook Out Summer Shootout entry is $10 for adults and kids 12 and under are FREE. Tickets can be purchased at the gate, by calling 800-455-FANS or online at www.charlottemotorspeedway.com/tickets.

KEEP TRACK:

Follow all the thrilling Cook Out Summer Shootout action using the hashtag #WeCreateLegends. Connect with Charlotte Motor Speedway on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

Top 10 in each division of Tuesday’s races (unofficial results):

Beginner Bandoleros: 1. Wyatt Coffey, 2. Aidan Zschiedrich, 3. Jeffery Beck, 4. Delaney Gray, 5. Mason Roberts, 6. Camden Truett, 7. Ava Grace Tobias, 8. Jack Smith, 9. Gavin Holland, 10. Jakob Peterson

Bandolero Bandits: 1. Darren Krantz Jr., 2. Ben Morabito, 3. Bryson Brinkley, 4. Beckham Malone, 5. Colt Johnson, 6. Hudson Canipe, 7. Mardy Roberts III, 8. LaQuan McCoy, 9. Carson Cauble, 10. Owen Zacharias

Bandolero Outlaws: 1. Kaeden Ballos, 2. Bobby Gossett, 3. Hunter Morgan, 4. Phoenyx Kimball, 5. Killian McMann, 6. Jacob Bradley, 7. Josh Shine, 8. Nathan Lyons, 9. Randy Phillips, 10. Gracie Crocker

Young Lions: 1. Joel Smith, 2. Ethan Nascimento, 3. George Phillips, 4. TJ Decaire, 5. Taylor Corum, 6. Trevor Cline, 7. Carson Haislip, 8. London McKenzie, 9. Layton Harrison, 10. Season McElearney

VP Racing Semi-Pro: 1. Connor Zilisch, 2. Lucas Vera, 3. Trevor Wester, 4. Austin MacDonald, 5.Sean Abell, 6. Carson Brown, 7. Eloy Lopez, 8. Joshua Horniman, 9. Cameron Murray, 10. Dawson Sutton

Boston Reid & Company Pro: Postponed to next week due to weather-impacted track conditions.

Masters: Postponed to next week due to weather-impacted track conditions.

CMS PR

ADVANCE NOTES

Weekend Format

  • The weekend format and schedule in Atlanta features a lone qualifying session on Saturday, similar to the schedules employed at Talladega and Daytona.
  • Teams will qualify in single-car format Saturday at 11:35 a.m. ET, with the top-five in each round advancing to the final round to determine the pole sitter.

 

Buescher at Atlanta Motor Speedway

  • Buescher makes his ninth start at Atlanta this weekend where he has three top-10s. He most recently ran seventh there this spring, matching his best finish prior in the fall of 2021. He also ran ninth in 2019.
  • Overall he has a 17.3 average finishing position and has completed all but one lap dating back four events.
  • Buescher has a career-best qualifying effort of 13th in 2020, and a 21.9 average starting position overall.
  • He also finished fourth in the Xfinity Series there in 2015, one of his three NXS starts for RFK.

 

Travis Peterson at Atlanta Motor Speedway

  • Peterson was on the box as lead engineer for Buescher’s P7 finish at Atlanta this spring.
  • Peterson has been paired with Scott Graves as lead engineer for multiple seasons, working with drivers Ryan Newman, Ross Chastain, and Matt Kenseth. He was crew chief for Kenseth at the 2018 season finale in Homestead, as the No. 6 team finished sixth to close that campaign.

 

QUOTE WORTHY
Buescher on racing at Atlanta:
“The new asphalt is right on a razor’s edge, and the spring race was so tense the whole race. We’ve learned some stuff that will make it more comfortable going back, but it’ll still be tough with both the surface and the temperatures. As we say all the time, momentum is huge in our sport, and we’ve been up and down with it, so it’s time to turn it up and keep the solid finishes coming as we progress through the summer.”

 

Last Time Out
Buescher put together another impressive on a road course, finishing sixth Sunday at Road America for his fifth top-10 overall and second-straight on a road course.

 

On the Car

Fastenal, in its 12th season with RFK in 2022, makes its 11th appearance with the No. 17 this weekend. In its early days with RFK, Fastenal originally was a partner with the No. 99 team before moving over to the No. 17 team since. They were also the primary partner on the No. 60 Xfinity Series entry that captured the owner’s championship in 2011.

 

Fastenal will feature top suppliers MSA, ND Industries, Greenfield Industries, 3M and Nord-Lock, Inc. on Buescher’s Mustang as he competes this weekend. For more information on these suppliers, visit Fastenal.com, and stay up-do-date on social @FastenalCompany.

RFK PR

ADVANCE NOTES

Weekend Format

  • The weekend format and schedule in Atlanta features a lone qualifying session on Saturday, similar to the schedules employed at Talladega and Daytona.
  • Teams will qualify in single-car format Saturday at 11:35 a.m. ET, with the top-five in each round advancing to the final round to determine the pole sitter.

 

Keselowski at Atlanta Motor Speedway

  • Keselowski makes his 16th start at AMS this weekend, a track where he has two wins at with an average finish of 15th. He ran 12th in the spring race.
  • Keselowski won at the 1-mile track first in 2017 after starting fifth, and again in 2019. Overall he’s led laps in eight different Atlanta races, and finished inside the top-10 on nine occasions.
  • He finished top-10 in six-straight races from 2015-2020, including the pair of events he won. Outside the two victories, he has one runner-up result (2018), a third-place run (2012) and three ninth-place finishes.
  • Keselowski has a 14.8 average starting position at Atlanta with a career-best effort of P2 in 2014. Overall he’s started inside the top-10 five different times.
  • He also made eight Xfinity Series starts with six top-10s, including two P2 finishes. He also made four Truck starts.

 

Matt McCall at Atlanta Motor Speedway

  • McCall is one of the most recent Cup winners at Atlanta, leading Kurt Busch and the No. 1 team to victory in 2021. The team led 144 laps en route to McCall’s third Cup win overall.
  • Overall he has four top-10s on the Atlanta surface with a P3 finish in 2019, and a sixth-place run a year later.
  • McCall has an impressive 9.8 average qualifying effort with five starts inside the top-10, including a career-best second in 2016 with Jamie McMurray.

 

QUOTE WORTHY
Keselowski on racing at Atlanta:
“This race was obviously an experience back in the spring, and I think in some ways was a lot of folks expected, but in some way surprised us, as well. It’s definitely fast and racy, but it’s challenging with the new surface and figuring out how to navigate it as a Superspeedway. Excited to have our friends at Solomon Plumbing back on the car, and can’t wait to put on a great show for those folks and everyone come Sunday.”

Last Time Out

Keselowski unfortunately had mid-race issues at Road America and lost multiple laps to the leaders, ultimately finishing 33rd in the Kohler Generators Ford.

 

On the Car

Solomon Plumbing returns to the No. 6 machine for its third primary race. They originally joined the RFK fold as the primary for the Bristol Dirt race and Gateway.

RFK PR

The Story on Corey:
 
  • Corey Heim heads to Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course Saturday for his first road course start in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series this season. Heim, who turned 20 on Tuesday, will be looking to bring home a little birthday week bonus at the 2.258-mile road course with it being the final race of the Triple Truck Challenge. The Georgia native cashed in on an extra $50,000 with his win at World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway for the first leg of the Triple Truck Challenge. If he is able to get to victory lane on Saturday and win two of the three events, his bonus would increase to $150,000.
 
  • Saturday’s event will mark the first time that the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series has raced at the 2.258-mile, 13-turn road course, but will be Heim’s third trip to the track. The Toyota Racing Development driver captured the pole and went on to finish seventh in last year’s ARCA Menards Series event at Mid-Ohio. To get more track time before Saturday’s Truck Series race, Heim raced in the Trans Am Series TA2 division at Mid-Ohio on June 26. He started 16th and finished eighth in the 38-lap event. He has one road course start in Truck Series action, an 18th-place finish at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International last year.
 
  • Across seven Truck Series starts this season, Heim has produced two wins, 61 laps led, two top-five and three top-10 finishes resulting in an average finish of 18.6. The Georgia native picked up his first career Truck Series victory in just his fifth start earlier this season at Atlanta (Ga.) Motor Speedway and was also victorious at Gateway. He has led at least one lap in four of his seven starts this season and qualified inside the top five for each of his last five starts.
 
  • With two victories across his first 10 Truck Series starts, the 19-year-old driver is one of just 12 drivers in series history to net multiple victories in their first 10 starts. Kasey Kahne and Mike Skinner each produced five victories, Mark Martin collected four wins, Ron Hornaday Jr., Ted Musgrave and William Byron brought home three checkered flags and Heim, Kyle Busch, Erik Jones, Rich Bickle, Clint Bowyer and Tony Stewart all delivered two wins.
 
  • Heim is competing for the 2022 Truck Series Sunoco Rookie of the Year award. Despite only having competed in seven of the 14 events so far this season, he sits second in the standings, eight points behind Lawless Alan. Heim will look to join three other KBM drivers that have won the award, reigning winner Chandler Smith, William Byron (2016) and Erik Jones (2015).
 
  • In addition to his part-time Truck Series schedule Heim is competing in a six-race schedule for Venturini Motorsports in the ARCA Menards Series. Heim led 74 of 90 laps en route to the victory at Daytona in February to pick up his eighth career ARCA Menards Series victory. Across 40 career ARCA Menards Series starts he has produced 659 laps led, 29 top-five and 38 top-10 finishes resulting in an average finish of 4.4. Heim finished second to Ty Gibbs in the 2021 ARCA Menards Series championship standings.
 
  • Mardy Lindley returned to KBM for his second season atop the pit box of the No. 51 team. Lindley has led his team to six wins since coming to KBM at the start of the 2021 season, including two with Heim and one with Kyle Busch this year. In 2021, his drivers produced three victories, two with Busch and one with Martin Truex Jr. Before arriving at KBM, Lindley guided his drivers to 32 wins and four ARCA Menards Series East championships since 2013, including back-to-back titles with Sam Mayer the last two seasons. Additionally, he earned the ARCA Menards Series Sioux Chief Showdown championship with Mayer in 2020. Lindley has called the shots for five races on road courses in Truck Series action recording one win, two top-five and two top-10 finishes. Kyle Busch collected the victory last month at Sonoma Raceway.
 
  • JBL, the authority in engineering superior sound, returns to KBM for an eighth season and will be the primary sponsor on Heim’s Toyota for 11 races this season including Saturday’s race at Mid-Ohio. 
 
 
Corey Heim, Driver Q&A:
 
What are your expectations heading into your first road course start of the season?
“I feel like our expectations are really high for this weekend. I’ve really made it a point to improve with these style of races – made a couple TA2 starts in the past year, including recently at Mid-Ohio. I’ve been there in a TA2 car and an ARCA car just getting laps and it’s the same course, so I’m hoping it’ll translate well. Really looking forward to it.”
 
You had a pole and a top-10 finish at Mid-Ohio in the ARCA Menards Series last year. Do you feel that the trucks will drive similar?
“I think it will be pretty similar based on all the sim work I’ve done in the last couple of months with my KBM team. Our JBL Tundra TRD Pro has been really good in sim and I feel like that has been a point of emphasis this year, as far as when we are really good in sim and I feel good about it, it translates very well to the real world as well. So, if it all translates well again, I think we’ll be really good.”
 
The 51 team had a near-win at COTA and a win with Kyle at Sonoma. Does that give you confidence heading into this weekend?
“For sure, Kyle (Busch) should’ve won COTA and did win Sonoma and think he led the most laps in both those races and had a lot of success. It’s definitely a privilege to be able to race a road course race with these guys with how fast they’ve been this year and hopefully that translates over for me as well.”
 
 
Corey Heim Career Highlights:
 
  • Picked up first career NASCAR Camping World Truck Series victory at Atlanta Motor Speedway March 19, 2022 in just his fifth start. Across 10 career starts has two wins, 63 laps led, two top-five and three top-10 finishes resulting in an average finish of 18.2.
  • Made three Truck Series starts in 2021 with a best result of 11th coming at Martinsville Speedway in October.
  • Finished runner-up in the ARCA Menards Series championship standings in 2021 after collecting six wins, three poles, 406 laps led, 16 top-five and 20 top-10 finishes resulting in an average finish of 3.1 across 20 starts.
  •  Across 40 career ARCA Menards Series starts has eight wins, 659 laps led, 29 top-five and 38 top-10 finishes resulting in an average finish of 4.4. Picked up his first career ARCA Menards Series victory at Kansas Speedway Oct. 16, 2020.
 
 
Corey Heim's No. 51 JBL Tundra TRD Pro:
 
KBM-71: The No. 51 JBL team will unload KBM-71 for Saturday’s race at Mid-Ohio. This is the same Tundra TRD Pro that KBM owner-driver Kyle Busch led 45 of 75 laps with en route to victory at Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway last month. Busch also led a race-high 31 laps with it earlier this year at Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Tex., but was relegated to a third-place finish after getting run over the course on the first lap of the second NASCAR overtime. John Hunter Nemechek finished second with KBM-71 in its maiden start last year at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International. 
 
 
KBM Notes of Interest:
 
  • Across 38 starts on road courses, KBM drivers have earned two wins, 15 top-five and 18 top-10 finishes, with an average starting position of 9.3 and an average finish of 11.7.
  • Owner-driver Kyle Busch earned his organization’s most recent road course win in June at Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway. Erik Jones picked up KBM’s first road course victory in 2015 at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park in Bowmanville, Ont.
  • KBM holds the Camping World Truck Series records for most career wins (95) and most wins in a single season (14 in 2014). With his victory at Atlanta Motor Speedway Heim became the 18th different driver to win a Truck Series event for KBM. In addition to collecting a series-record seven Owner's Championships, the organization has produced two championship-winning drivers: Erik Jones (2015) and Christopher Bell (2017).
  • With 40 victories, the No. 51 is the winningest number in KBM’s Truck Series fleet

KBM PR

There are six 1.5-mile ovals on the NASCAR Cup Series schedule in 2022. While Atlanta Motor Speedway is one of those six 1.5-mile ovals – 1.54-miles to be exact – the racing there is now much different than at its five counterparts.  

 

During the last offseason, Atlanta underwent a facelift with new pavement to replace the worn-out surface and increased banking in the turns from 24 to 28 degrees, with the track width varying from 55 feet to 40 feet. The frontstretch width is now 52 feet while the backstretch and turns at each end of the track are set at 42 and 40 feet wide, respectively.

 

The first race on the newly configured layout in March showed fans a completely different type of racing than they were used to seeing at Atlanta, and unlike any of the other 1.5-mile ovals on the schedule. While Atlanta is a mile or more shorter in length than Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway’s 2.5-mile oval and Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway’s 2.66-mile oval, the changes made the racing Atlanta look more like it does at those two superspeedways.

 

Never one to back down from a challenge, Kyle Busch, driver of the No. 18 M&M’S Crunchy Cookie Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR), will head back to the new-look facility south of Atlanta to take on the still new track surface and configuration, and the kind of racing it brings. While it’s designed to facilitate more pack-style racing, there are still countless other unknowns thanks to the layout and the fact it’s just the second time the NextGen car has raced on the new configuration.

 

Long before the track underwent major changes, Atlanta was where the winning for Busch began with JGR in 2008. That was his first year with JGR, and he headed to Atlanta for the fourth Cup Series race of the season aiming to bring home the maiden victory for the team’s two new partners – Mars Wrigley with its SNICKERS brand, and Toyota. After leading a race-high 173 laps, Busch broke through for the first time in NASCAR’s top series for Toyota, which was in its second year of Cup Series competition and its first with JGR. Busch added an Atlanta Cup Series win in 2013 to go with eight top-five finishes and 11 top-10s over his career there.

 

So, as the Cup Series heads back to new-look Atlanta this weekend, Busch and the M&M’S Crunchy Cookie team know that while the track is listed as a 1.5-mile oval, there’s much more to it than meets the eye. He hopes to be able to figure out how to get up front and stay there in order to bring home his third Cup Series victory at Atlanta and first on the new configuration.  

 

KYLE BUSCH, Driver of the No. 18 M&M'S Crunchy Cookie Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing: 

 

Was Atlanta a lot like you expected before the first race after the new pavement and changes there?

 

“It was just as crazy as I expected. It literally got a facelift with a whole new track surface and layout and everything. Old Atlanta, you had the old asphalt and really had fast lap times to fire off, and then you had a lot of (tire) fall-off where lap times go down throughout the run. That led to having some guys come up through the field and others drop through the field, whether or not they were fast early in the run or slow late in the run, or vice versa. Back in the spring, it was more like what we expected it to be, like a Daytona or Talladega speedway race. We saw a lot of pack racing with some guys two-wide and maybe three-wide, and saw how wide the track got in the time we had on it. We’ll take what we can from the spring race there, what we did well and especially what not to do. Hoping we can figure out how to run up front and contend for the win with our M&M’S Crunchy Cookie Camry TRD.”

 

What are your memories of racing at Atlanta?


“I’ve won a few Truck Series races there. That was fun. I won for the first time in an Xfinity race there a few years ago, so that was very cool. I finished second three or four times, so it had been an Achilles heel for me, I guess. The Cup races there, I was really good or really bad, it seemed. Obviously, it’s a whole new ballgame there. We threw out our notes from the past during the spring race this year and we’ll just keep building on what we learned starting this weekend.”

 

You gave Toyota its first Cup Series win by scoring a victory at Atlanta in March 2008. What do you remember about that?

 

“Running in Atlanta and being able to put Toyota in victory lane for the first time, that was special for me and for Joe Gibbs Racing and everybody. Certainly, that was neat. We’ve been fortunate to be able to put Toyota and Mars in victory lane a lot more times over the years. With it being the last year for Mars in NASCAR, it’s fun to look back at that win and see all that we’ve accomplished since then. It was really neat to get SNICKERS and Toyota to victory lane, but also having been able to sustain that with a lot more wins since then with M&M’S, Skittles, Doublemint and all the Mars Wrigley brands being able to go out there and win with them over the years.”

 

KBM PR

Chandler Chatter:
 
  • Chandler Smith and the No. 18 team head to Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course for Saturday’s O’Reilly Auto Parts 150. Smith will be looking to have a strong performance in front of over 200 guests that his primary sponsor Safelite will be hosting at the event. Safelite - the nation’s largest provider of vehicle glass repair, replacement and recalibration services – is headquartered about 60 miles southwest of the track in Columbus, Ohio. Safelite has been a primary sponsor at KBM since 2017 and has adorned the hood of Smith’s Toyota for all three of his NASCAR Camping World Truck Series victories.
 
  • Saturday’s event will mark the first time that the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series has raced at the 2.258-mile, 13-turn road course. To prepare for Saturday’s event, Smith raced in the Trans Am Series TA2 division at Mid-Ohio on June 26. He was involved in an incident late in the race and finished 25th.
 
  • Smith has been solid on road courses this season in Truck Series action. He finished fifth at Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Tex. in March and followed it up with another fifth-place finish last month at Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway. He will be piloting the same Tundra TRD Pro, KBM-72, in Saturday’s race that he did in both of those events.
 
  • With two races remaining before the playoffs start, the 20-year-old driver finds himself fourth in the Truck Series point standings, 35 points behind Zane Smith. Smith is locked into the playoffs via his win earlier this season at Las Vegs (Nev.) Motor Speedway. Through the first 14 events of the season Smith ranks first among Truck Series regulars in laps completed (1885) and quality passes (527), second in average finish (9.1), third in driver rating (99.1) and average starting position (7.9), and fourth in average running position (9.281). He has produced one win, 96 laps led, six top-five and nine top-10 finishes in his sophomore campaign. With nine races remaining this season, Smith has already matched the number of top-five and top-10 finishes he had in 2021.
 
  • The Georgia driver earned NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Rookie of the Year honors in 2021 and finished eighth in the championship standings after producing two victories, one pole, 213 laps led, six top-five and nine top-10 finishes in his first full-time season. He earned his first career Truck Series victory at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway in September and in the series finale at Phoenix (Ariz.) Raceway earned his first career pole and swept all three stages en route to his second victory.
 
  • Across 52 career Truck Series starts, the Toyota Racing Development driver had recorded three wins, one pole, 402 laps led, 20 top-five and 27 top-10 finishes resulting in an average finish of 13.5.
 
  • In addition to his Truck Series schedule in 2022, Smith is competing in a three-race schedule with Sam Hunt Racing (SHR). Smith finished 38th in his series debut at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway after a mid-race wreck and finished 21st at Dover (Del.) Motor Speedway. His final race with SHR will come Oct. 22 at Homestead-Miami (Fla.) Speedway.
 
  • Veteran crew chief Danny Stockman will once again call the shots for Smith and the No. 18 team in 2022. Stockman’s drivers have produced six victories at KBM across his first two seasons, including two with Smith behind the wheel in 2021. The veteran crew chief captured a Truck Series championship with Austin Dillon in 2011 and also won an Xfinity Series championship with Dillon in 2013. Stockman’s drivers have collected two top-five and two top-10 finishes in Xfinity Series action at Mid-Ohio. His best result was a runner-up finish with Daniel Hemric in the 2017 event.
 
 
Chandler Smith, Driver Q&A:
 
You’ve finished fifth at both road courses this season. What do you contribute your success to?
“I’m no road course ace by any means, so I guess in past races it just had to be the lack of experience. Now that I’m getting laps under my belt, I’m getting better and better at it, and I’ve been trying a lot harder to master my craft on the road courses. I’ve still got a long way to go for sure, but after having a couple top fives now hopefully we can keep improving and work towards getting the Safelite Tundra TRD Pro in victory lane this weekend at Mid-Ohio.”
  
You recently competed in a TA2 race at Mid-Ohio. How beneficial will that be in getting you ready to race a truck there?
“Running the TA2 race at Mid-Ohio definitely helped a lot because I know how much grip the track actually has in it. I’ve been there before myself, so before that race all I had to go off was the TRD simulator. Now I actually have laps there in real life and that will be a big help with hopefully me being able to be up to speed quicker in practice and help Danny (Stockman, crew chief) and the guys get our Safelite Tundra TRD Pro dialed in for qualifying and the race.”
 
How cool will it be to have over 200 Safelite guests at the track this weekend cheering you on?
“It’s always cool to see as the Safelite associated at the race track having a good time. I’ve seen a lot of associates last year that were back again this year and a lot of them that are at the track for the first time. Having over 200 people come support me in their Safelite colors this week is going to be really cool. I can’t wait to see them all and hopefully we put on a good show for them.” 
 
 
Chandler Smith Career Highlights:
 
  • Across 52 career NASCAR Camping World Truck Series starts has recorded three wins, 402 laps led, 20 top-five and 27 top-10 finishes resulting in an average finish of 13.5.
  • Earned NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Rookie of the Year honors in 2021 and finished eighth in the championship standings after producing two victories, one pole, 213 laps led, six top-five and nine top-10 finishes in his first full-time season. He earned his first career Truck Series victory at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway in September and in the series finale at Phoenix (Ariz.) Raceway earned his first career pole and swept all three stages en route to his second victory.
  • Has posted an average finish of 29.5 across two NASCAR Xfinity Series starts in 2022, with a best result of 22nd coming at Dover (Del.) Motor Speedway.
  • Has collected nine wins, 10 poles, 1783 laps led, 22 top-five and 29 top-10 finishes en route to an average finish of 5.4 across 34 career ARCA Menards Series starts. 
 
 
Chandler Smith's No. 18 Safelite Tundra:
 
KBM-72: The No. 18 Safelite team will unload KBM-72 for Saturday’s race at Mid-Ohio. Smith has recorded top-five finishes with this Tundra TRD Pro in both road course events this season: Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Tex. and Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway.
 
KBM Notes of Interest:
 
  • Across 38 starts on road courses, KBM drivers have earned two wins, 15 top-five and 18 top-10 finishes, with an average starting position of 9.3 and an average finish of 11.7.
  • Owner-driver Kyle Busch earned his organization’s most recent road course win in June at Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway. Erik Jones picked up KBM’s first road course victory in 2015 at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park in Bowmanville, Ont.
  • KBM holds the Camping World Truck Series records for most career wins (95) and most wins in a single season (14 in 2014). With his victory at Atlanta (Ga.) Motor Speedway, Corey Heim became the 18th different driver to win a Truck Series event for KBM. In addition to collecting a series-record seven Owner's Championships, the organization has produced two championship-winning drivers: Erik Jones (2015) and Christopher Bell (2017).
  • The No. 18, the number which was on the first Tundra that went to victory lane for KBM in 2010, has 24 career victories.

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Notes of Interest

 

● After 18 races this season, Almirola is the only driver in the NASCAR Cup Series without a DNF (Did Not Finish). He has completed all but five laps of the 4,712 run this year – a 99.9 percent completion rate.

 

● Almirola’s track record at superspeedways provides a promising outlook for success at Atlanta this weekend, where drivers and teams once again are expecting pack-style racing akin to events at Daytona and Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway. Almirola has two wins, seven top-fives, 13 top-10s and 84 laps led at Daytona and Talladega. Last June, he scored his eighth-consecutive top-10 at Talladega to tie the track record for most consecutive top-10s. The mark was originally set by Hall of Famer Dale Earnhardt Jr., between April 2001 and October 2004. Almirola finished fifth in this year’s season-opening Daytona 500 and 13th at Talladega.

 

● In Almirola’s last start at Atlanta in March, the series’ first outing after the 62-year-old facility underwent a wholesale offseason redesign and repave, he led six laps in the final stage with a promising opportunity to win until the No. 1 car of Ross Chastain made contact to his bumper, ultimately turning him into the infield grass and causing damage to the No. 10 Smithfield Ford. Almirola stayed on the lead lap to finish 22nd.

 

● Driver Points: Almirola arrives at Atlanta 12th in the driver standings with 452 points, 172 out of first.

 

● Playoff Points: The No. 10 Ford driver sits 18th in the playoff point standings, 47 points behind the playoff cutoff line. Almirola has more driver points than six of the locked-in playoff drivers.

 

● FordPro.com: Ford Pro is a one-stop shop for commercial and government fleets designed to accelerate productivity and improve uptime, offering a portfolio of vehicles, software, charging, service and financing for any size business or industry. Ford Pro makes going electric easy by providing intelligent software tools and an end-to-end suite of charging solutions that work on Ford or non-Ford vehicles, in addition to offering electrified versions of the vehicles its customers already love – E-Transit and F-150 Lightning Pro.

 

● Almirola’s career: In 406 NASCAR Cup Series starts, Almirola has earned three wins, 28 top-five finishes, 89 top-10s, three poles, and has led 899 laps.

 

● One More Time: On Jan. 10, Almirola released a video on his YouTube channel announcing his retirement from fulltime NASCAR Cup Series racing after the 2022 season to spend more time with his family. His opening remarks were attributed to his grandfather’s mentorship. This year marks Almirola’s 11th fulltime Cup Series season. The official press release can be viewed here.

 

● Beyond the 10 YouTube Series: In 2022, Almirola is once again sharing his life beyond the No. 10 Smithfield Ford with season three of his award-winning YouTube series. Fans and media can subscribe on YouTube to see Almirola’s personality on and off the track. Episodes have already featured life as a dad, a husband and an athlete, and it gives fans a unique perspective on what goes on in the life of a professional NASCAR driver. Fans can also follow Almirola’s social media channels: @Aric_Almirola on Twitter and Instagram, and @AricAlmirola on Facebook.

 

● Almirola was the only NASCAR Cup Series driver to finish in the top-10 in this year’s opening three races. He finished fifth in the season-opening Daytona 500 at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway, sixth at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California, and sixth at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Almirola’s top-10 streak ended with a 12th-place finish at Phoenix Raceway despite running inside the top-10 throughout the race. 

 

Aric Almirola, Driver of the No. 10 Ford Pro Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing:

 

This is the first track you’re revisiting in the NextGen car. Is the preparation different?

 

“Yeah, this is the first time all year we have notes to take back to the racetrack, so you’re not just heading there blind hoping your setup was right. We had a fast car earlier this year at Atlanta and ran up front a lot, so we feel really good about unloading with speed this weekend. It’s going to be hot and humid this time, though, so there will definitely be some differences from March. It will be interesting to see how the field stacks up now that we’re heading to the same venues with notes in this car.”

 

The new Atlanta surface was designed to race more like a superspeedway. What were your thoughts on that outcome?

 

"It definitely raced like a superspeedway, more than I anticipated. So we get to go back knowing exactly how the track races. We ran up front at the end and had a shot at it, but superspeedway racing happened and we got turned and hurt our car. I’m excited to have another shot at it this weekend.”

 

You are currently outside of the playoff point standings. Do you think about that or just race?

 

“I really don’t pay much attention to it. I leave that up to Drew Blickensderfer (crew chief) and the guys to focus on and make the best call based on that. My focus is to get as much as I possibly can out of a given race weekend, then reset for the next weekend. Obviously, we’re hoping to race for a win every single weekend, so that’s always the first priority. Then see where the circumstances take us and adapt. There are still eight races left and anything can happen.” 

 

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