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Based in Butte, Montana Tech is recognized as one of the top universities in the nation for graduates return on investment and produces some of the most elite and sought after graduates within the science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) disciplines. “Montana Tech is extremely excited to be part of Gracin Raz Racing,” shared Joe McClafferty, Vice Chancellor for Advancement and University Relations and President of the Montana Tech Foundation. “Gracin’s journey is similar to that of Montana Tech students and alumni. Gracin is from ordinary, humble upbringings, who is accomplishing extraordinary feats. We are excited to hold alumni and outreach events during many of the races where over 11,000 Orediggers will be rooting for the No. 27 car!”
Raz, a first generation driver for Jefferson Pitts Racing just recently turned 18 and graduated high school last weekend. He is currently second in the NASCAR K&N championship point’s series for the west and leading a tight race for Rookie of the Year. Raz also has strong ties to the State of Montana where his mother was raised on a ranch in Northeastern Montana and grandparents, aunts and uncles reside today. “My Montana family has always extended incredible support to me,” said Raz. “To represent such a prestigious university that my family holds in high regard is an incredible honor. I’m excited to showcase the Montana Tech brand and help ensure every race car fan knows who Montana Tech is!”
In addition to the car unveiling in July, Montana Tech will host an event on July 24 where alumni and guests will have an opportunity to personally meet Raz and see the official Montana Tech racing suit that he will wear. Expected to be in attendance are members of Trinity Energy based in Billings and current primary partner to Gracin Raz Racing. “The NASCAR K&N Pro Series has been a great platform for our team to develop relationships with each other and our prospective partners,” said CFO and Principal Garth Harmon. “While few of us had familiarity with motorsports racing, we became instantly hooked after seeing Gracin and his team in action at the start of the season. This is truly a special platform that I am confident will serve Montana Tech well on a number of levels; I know our team looks forward to our continued partnership with Gracin Raz Racing.”
The No. 27 Montana Tech Ford will be on track in Newton, Iowa starting August 1, followed by events in Monroe, Washington; Dacono, Colorado; Meridian, Idaho; Roseville, California; and Phoenix, Arizona. Each event is televised by NBCSN and attracts up to 7500 people at the track.
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Kimmel driving his familiar Ansell-Menards Toyota is hoping to make it three consecutive wins at Michigan for his Venturini Motorsports team. Venturini Motorsports has won the last two ARCA events at Michigan – with rookie Austin Theriault last year and with Brennan Poole in 2013.
“Anytime you climb in a Venturini car, you absolutely know you’ve got a shot to win no matter what track you’re at. I know I’m going to be in a really good car…I just need to do my part and finish the job. The Venturinis are really good at that place, and I’ve got a few laps around there too, so I’m very excited about our chances.”
Kimmel with a disappointing 11th place finish last week at Pocono is leaning on experience and team continuity for this weekend’s return to the Irish Hills of Brooklyn, Michigan. Friday will mark Kimmel’s 26th career start at the 2-mile ultra-fast oval – earning 9 top-5 and 16 top-10 finishes.
"I’m excited to be racing consecutive weeks and looking forward to Michigan. This year has been different with my schedule - not racing every week. Like anything else it’s good to have consistency," said Kimmel, driver of the No. 25 Ansell- Menards Toyota. "Our Ansell-Menards team has worked hard all year long for both Brandon Jones and myself. The No.25 will be strong and I’m ready to do my part come Friday.
“Just to get to go to Michigan is such an honor. It’s been around forever…such a historic track. It’s so smooth, big and wide…you can run right down on the bottom or you can run all the way right up against the wall. You can run anywhere on the racetrack you want so if the car’s not working where you want it to, you try to move somewhere else and get it better. You’ve got options at Michigan. It’s one of my favorite places.”
Kimmel will join teammate Cody Coughlin as part of Venturinis’ two-car effort at Michigan.
The open-wheel dirt standout, who was crowned the 2013 United States Auto Club (USAC) National Midget Champion, began his pavement-racing career last September driving for KBM's Late Model team. In just his fourth-career Late Model start, Bell outdueled second-generation NASCAR driver John Hunter Nemechek to win the Orange County 150 Pro All Star Series (PASS) South Super Late Model race last October at Orange County Speedway in Rougemont, N.C.
In 2015, Bell has collected four victories and a pair of runner-up finishes en route to an average finish of 1.7 across seven starts behind the wheel of KBM's No. 51 Late Model. The talented youngster picked up his first marquee Late Model victory in March when he led 203 of 250 laps of the prestigious Rattler 250 at South Alabama Speedway in Kinston, dominating a field which included reigning NASCAR XFINITY Series champion Chase Elliott.
The Oklahoma native made two NASCAR K&N Pro Series starts earlier this season in preparation for his Truck Series debut. After finishing 15th in the K&N Pro Series West event at Irwindale (Calif.) Speedway in April, Bell came all the way from the 18th spot at the halfway break of the Casey's 150 K&N Pro Series combination race held at Iowa Speedway in May to register a fifth-place result.
"I'm really excited to have Toyota Certified Used Vehicles (TCUV) as a sponsor and I'm looking forward to making the most of the opportunity to race in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series for KBM, TCUV, and Toyota," Bell said. "Although the vehicles will drive somewhat different, being able to race in the K&N Series last month will help speed up my learning curve for the Truck Series race, and having Jerry (Baxter) come out to crew chief that race gave us a head start on our communication as well."
In addition to his pavement schedule, which consists of over 20 races in 2015, Bell continues to tour dirt tracks around the country racing Midgets and Winged Sprint Cars. Bell has collected four National Midget Series wins in eight starts this season and also collected his second-career World of Outlaws Sprint Car triumph in the Spring Classic Winged Sprint Car race at Federated Auto Parts Raceway at I-55 in Pevely, Mo., in April.
In 2014 Bell collected an amazing 27 feature wins while competing in 108 events between Midgets (18 wins), Winged Sprint Cars (seven wins), Non-Winged Sprint Cars (one win) on dirt and Super Late Models (one win) on pavement. Highlighting his season was a victory in the prestigious 98-lap Turkey Night Grand Prix USAC Midget race at Perris (Calif.) Auto Speedway, where he etched his name along open-wheel legends A.J. Foyt (1960-61), Parnelli Jones (1964 and 1966) and Tony Stewart (2000), who all picked up a Turkey Night win in their careers. The talented wheelman also scored his first World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series win at Jacksonville (Ill.) Speedway in May.
Among the people who have been close to the Wood family for decades was Jabe Thomas, the retired racer from Christiansburg, Va., who died June 4 at the age of 85.
Thomas was a journeyman racer who moved to the series now known as Sprint Cup after racing Modifieds on some of the same Virginia tracks that the Wood Brothers once raced.
In the Cup series, he made 322 starts from 1965 to 1978, with three top-five and 77 top-10 finishes.
Thomas, who lived about an hour’s drive north of the Woods’ home base in Stuart, was one of the people who made the NASCAR garage an interesting place back in the day.
“He was known as the Clown Prince of racing throughout his career,” Len Wood recalled. “He was always pulling a practical joke on somebody. And you never saw him without a smile on his face.”
But when a friend was in need, Thomas could be counted on to lend a hand.
Wood recalled a trip home from a race in Riverside, Calif., in January of 1980 when Thomas came to their rescue.
It was Super Bowl Sunday. Len Wood, his brother Eddie and father Glen were driving the team’s six-wheeler hauler home from Riverside, where the race had been started the Sunday before and rain delayed until the following Saturday. The trio was mostly interested in following the Pittsburgh Steelers who were playing the Los Angeles Rams on the portable TV they were carrying. But as they were approaching an exit ramp near Picacho Peak, Arizona, the priorities changed.
“Daddy was driving,” Wood said. “He rolled out of the gas and as he turned down the ramp the engine backfired, as the timing chain failed.
At least one NASCAR rig passed them by, but Jabe Thomas, who by that time had turned the driving over to his son Ronnie, stopped to help.
After a man named Emmett B Nutter pulled the disabled rig to his nearby gas station, the Thomas boys took the Woods to a motel in Tucson.
There they waited until a mechanic, who worked at a Virginia Ford dealership and helped the Woods on the weekends, flew west with the parts to repair the truck.
Thomas, who bought parts from the Woods back in his Modified racing days, remained friends with the family long after his racing days were over.
A few months back, he made his final visit to the Woods’ shop in Stuart.
“He was in failing health, but he was still old Jabe,” Len Wood said.
The days of Sprint Cup teams traveling across the continent in six-wheel haulers and races being postponed six days are long gone, but some things remain the same.
Rain is still an ever-present worry, especially for the Woods, who don’t run a full schedule and therefore aren’t eligible for provisional starting spots if rain washes out qualifying.
At Michigan this weekend, there are 44 teams entered, which means one will go home. If it were to rain out qualifying, the No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Fusion would miss the race.
“It is what it is,” Wood said of that scenario. “But one thing’s for sure, if we do miss the race, it won’t be due to performance.”
“Our cars have been fast.”
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Blaney has run only two NASCAR Camping World Truck Series races at Michigan, the first in 2013 resulted in a wreck and in the second, last season, he started from the pole and finished 21st. He also practiced and qualified the Wood Brothers’ famous No. 21 at last year’s August Michigan race subbing for Trevor Bayne.
“Michigan has been a very bad track for us in the truck series, but I had a good Cup experience there last year practicing and qualifying the 21 car,” Blaney said. “Hopefully my luck will change this year and we can have a good run.”
Bullins said, “I try not to put too much stock in prior experiences that Ryan may have had on teams I wasn’t with, as usually you don’t have all the information to work with,” Bullins said. “Instead, we will try to relate it to things we have worked on together, like Cup and XFINITY experience at Kansas and other tracks. I know it may take us a few more laps in practice to find our rhythm and get up to speed but I’m sure we will get there quickly.”
How is the team planning to attack MIS this weekend?
“I consider Michigan a faster intermediate track,” Bullins said. “The only common denominator with a restrictor-plate track is that drag could hurt you worse than some intermediates, but you still want down force. I think the biggest challenge is knowing what the balance needs to be during Saturday’s practices to be good in the race.”
Bullins, Blaney and the Wood Brothers are looking to bounce back from a disappointing finish in the Coca-Cola 600 when an engine problem forced an early end to the NASCAR season’s longest race for the Motorcraft/Quick Lane team.
“You can’t confuse the performance with the outcome,” Bullins explained. “I think if we had issues when we weren’t running well I’d be concerned, but we’ve been in the top 10 or 15 every time we’ve had an issue. When you consider that if we had gotten our lap back at Vegas that would have been a top 15 as well so we could have easily run top 15 in all our starts, which would have been respectable outcomes. Everyone on the team knows if we keep doing what we’ve done so far it will all come together.”
Blaney added, “Despite our misfortunes throughout this year, we've had some pretty good runs. That's what I focus on. Our cars have been fast and that gives me a lot of confidence.”
The Wood Brothers’ history at MIS is as old as the track itself, winning the first race ever run at the 2-mile D-shaped oval with Cale Yarborough at the helm in June of 1969. In total, the Wood Brothers have started 90 races, captured 9 poles, led 1,075 laps and won 11 times at MIS.
Yarborough won in 1969 and 1970. David Pearson won there twice in 1972 and 1976, and in 1973, 1974, 1975 and 1978. Dale Jarrett won in 1991.
A bronze plaque mounted on the pit wall near the start-finish line commemorates the team’s 50th year in NASCAR. This year, the team is celebrating its 65th year of competition.
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"I tremendously appreciate the prayers and continued support of everyone during this extremely difficult time," Bass said.
The artist expects to be released from the hospital in the middle of the week.
Bass' battle with sepsis began in February 2014. Complications with the severe blood infection resulted in multiple surgeries for the NASCAR artist and led to a long road to recovery. Able to return to the track just three months later, Bass suffered another setback in October 2014, when a less severe infection returned to his bloodstream. Now familiar with the warning signs, Bass was able to get the medical attention he needed before this latest bout with infection escalated. After undergoing surgery last Wednesday, Bass will be released from the hospital to continue recovery at home.
Sam Bass PR
The hum of the IndyCars may be gone, but the Town of Speedway isn’t finished dazzling its visitors. Besides the Greatest Spectacle in Racing, the month of May brought the opening of the Foyt Wine Vault and the Speedway Redevelopment Commission’s announcement of four more Main Street developments in the works that will be completed in time for next year’s 100th running of the Indianapolis 500.
A new brewery grand opening this month will mark another milestone in a four-year revitalization effort that has brought $86 million in infrastructure improvements, development and construction to Speedway.
These renovations have attracted new businesses to the area, including the Dallara IndyCar Factory and such racing teams as A.J. Foyt Racing, CFH Racing and Juncos Racing. In addition, A.J. Foyt opened a wine bar last Thursday, May 21, and Sarah Fisher and Andy O’Gara are opening an indoor karting facility and restaurant next spring.
“When you’re working to make things happen, you know it’s big, but you don’t know the totality until you reflect,” said Scott Harris, Speedway Redevelopment Commission executive director.
Main Street development has been on the fast track since its first $10 million renovation project was completed in 2011 — featuring new bike paths, spacious sidewalks, street signs, manhole covers and bike racks. The new Main Street serves as the centerpiece of SRC’s redevelopment efforts and is part of a $500 million investment to breathe new life into acres of multi-use property that will be primed for commercial, residential and research and development projects.
Here are some surprising facts about the revival of Main Street: 14 new businesses have opened — six more are opening within the next year; and approximately 180 new jobs have been created — with an additional 225 to be established by next spring. All told, $32 million has been invested in infrastructure, $3 million in property acquisition and abatement, and $51.7 million in previous and committed construction.
Setting the pace has been the Dallara IndyCar Factory, which was the first post-renovation business to settle on Main Street in 2011. Next came Lino’s Coffee, CFH Racing and Community Westview Health Pavilion in 2012, Yogulatte, Peace through Yoga, DooDadz Resale Hut, Three Sisters and a Trunk and Barbecue and Bourbon in 2013, and Rolling in the Dough in 2014. This year, the Speedway Arts Centre renovated and relocated to 1340 Main, the Foyt Wine Vault opened May 21 at 1190 Main, and Daredevil Brewing Co is set to open June 17 at 1151 Main. Additional openings in 2015 include OMR Automotive, Big Woods Speedway, Speedway Indoor Karting and 1911 Grill, and Juncos Racing.
“The Indianapolis Motor Speedway holds a rich part of my history and future,” said A.J. Foyt. “I remember what Main Street looked like when I first came to Indy, and the commission has managed to modernize it but retain the area’s history, too. We’re happy to be part of Speedway’s redevelopment.”
Infrastructure improvements have helped to attract new business. Allison Way is a north-south corridor that connects Gilman Street to 10th Street east of Main, streamlining access. And the realignment of 10th Street and completion of the Main Street roundabout, connecting the intersection of 16th Street and Crawfordsville Road to Main Street, has eased traffic flow and encouraged business growth by opening the downtown district to the IMS track and surrounding areas.
“I think the roundabout has helped us a bunch,” said Marcia Huff, co-owner of Barbecue and Bourbon. “It has exposed us — before, people didn’t even know Speedway had a Main Street.”
“Main Street's redevelopment not only begins to restore the town’s former grandeur, it carries on Speedway's theme of racing, innovation and community," said David Lindsey, Speedway Town Council president. "We've had great
successes on Main Street just in the past month, including announcements that Big Woods Speedway, Sarah Fisher’s Speedway Indoor Karting facility and Juncos Racing are all coming in the next year. We are looking forward to even more wins in the near future."
Harris Road Middle School’s Aldredge Wins School Bus Slobberknocker; Holloman Jr., Cormier and Torres Claim Victories at Bojangles’ Summer Shootout
Aldredge, who started on the pole, held off a hard-charging Kevin Senter from Cabarrus Charter Academy and Darin Roberts from Carl A. Furr Elementary School to claim the coveted champion’s belt and bragging rights in what has become a fan-favorite exhibition.
After his win, Aldredge was quick to thank his legions of fans, many of whom brought signs and oversized photos of their principal’s head to cheer on their favorite driver.
“As soon as the flag dropped, I put the pedal to the metal,” Aldredge said. “I was hoping to get a little skin on the other guys, but I didn’t want to slow up and give up my lead. I just kept my head down and kept turning left.”
Torres dominated in the second round of the Legends Pro division race. With a total of eight cautions, the Florida native was untouchable for all 25 laps of the race and his consistency allowed him to maintain his lead after each restart.
“It was definitely a team effort and a well-deserved win,” Torres said. “I’m just going to continue keeping my trust in my crew chief and staying as consistent as we can.”
Jordan Black brought home a win earlier this afternoon to make up for the rain-delay Monday night.
The Bandolero Outlaws came hot out of the oven Tuesday with Mathew Davey from Mooresville, North Carolina, taking home the victory, followed by Ashton Higgins and Connor Younginer.
“This is the greatest moment in my life; I have worked for this for three years,” said Davey.
Davey and Higgins fought competitively, with Higgins making an aggressive three-wide power play for the lead midway through the race. Davey fought back and maneuvered his way to the front. He finished four car lengths ahead of Higgins and was not shy to celebrate in Victory Lane, kissing the start finish line.
“This is my first win in the Shootout and my third win here at Charlotte Motor Speedway,” said Davey, who walked away with a trophy and a smile, knowing he had made his family proud.
On Monday night during the first round of competition, Stevie Johns Jr. took the checkered flag in the Legend Car Semi Pro division, while Tom Pistone claimed victory in the Security Force Masters and Dawson Cram earned a season-opening win in the Young Lions division. Jordan Black started his season in Victory Lane after rain forced the Legends Car Pro division to be postponed until Tuesday night. In the Bandolero classes Landon Rapp (beginner bandolero), Ashton Higgins (outlaw), Daniel Wilk (LiveWell Bandolero Bandits) each earned wins Monday.
The Bojangles’ Summer Shootout racing action continues at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Tuesday, June 16, with Mascot Mania go-kart races on Team Spirit Night. Fans are encouraged to come out dressed in their favorite team apparel and cheer on their favorite Charlotte-area mascot.
For more information on the Bojangles’ Summer Shootout Series call the Charlotte Motor Speedway ticket office at 1-800-455-FANS (3267) or visit www.charlottemotorspeedway.com. Connect with Charlotte Motor Speedway on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram or get all the latest news and information with the Charlotte Motor Speedway mobile app.
Round 2 (Tuesday)
Legends Car Young Lions (20 laps): 1. Chase Purdy; 2. Alex Reese; 3. Jacob Heafner; 4. Austin Green; 5. Eddie Fatscher; 6. Dawson Cram; 7. Andrew Molleur; 8. Justin Taylor; 9. Ryan Millington; 10. Garrett Manes; 11. Ryo Ocata; 12. Carson Pointdexter; 13. Jack Fread; 14. Sam Mayer
Legends Car Pro (25 laps): 1. Michawl Torres; 2. Joey Padgett; 3. Jared Irvan; 4. Greg Lang; 5. Dylan Faggart; 6. Reid Wilson; 7. Spencer Boyd; 8. Alex Murray; 9. Drew Brown; 10. Carsen Ferguson; 11. Zane Smith; 12. Evan Swilling
Legends Car Semi Pro (25 laps): 1. John Holloman Jr.; 2. Devin O’Connell; 3. Scott Joy; 4. Shelton Crouse; 5. Stevie Johns Jr.; 6. Joe Graf Jr.; 7. Jake Tretow; 8. Riley Herbest; 9. Jordan Stillwell; 10. Jensen Jorgensen; 11. Austin Langenstein; 12. Taylor Jorgensen; 13. Joe Gregory; 14. Sprout Royal; 15. Conner Pyle; 16. Craig Biryla; 17. Cameron McGee; 18. Holden German; 19. Bronson Butcher; 20. Enrique Lemon
Security Force Masters (25 laps): 1. Carl Cormier; 2. Bruce Silver; 3. Tom Pistone; 4. Scott Whitaker; 5. Craig Bruce; 6. Jan Ingram; 7. Jamie Smith; 8. Chip Ferguson; 9. Robbie Faggart; 10. Ron Mader; 11. Danny Bisson; 12. Herman Towe.
Bandolero Beginner Bandits (20 laps): 1. Leland Honeyman; 2. Landon Rapp; 3. Josh Speas; 4. Zachary Miracle; 5. Jackson Moore; 6. Stanley Hays; 7. Tyler Bartoszewicz; 8. David Selvik; 9. Jacob Gantz; 10. Alberto Limon; 11. Mason Dejarnett; 12. Jake Putnam.
Live Well Homes Bandolero Bandits (20 laps): Daniel Wilk; 2. Carson Kvapil; 3. Cameron Bolen; 4. Mini Tyrell; 5. DJ Canipe; 6. William Robusto; 7. Ryan Israel; 8. Bryson Ruff; 9. George Hayes; 10. Isabella Robusto; 11. Tommy Good; 12. Josh Kossek; 13. Maddox Blaise; 14. Blake Cisneros; 15. Ethan Johnson; 16. Dylan Notaro; 17. Jaiden Reyna
Bandolero Outlaws (20 laps): 1. Mathew Bavey; 2. Ashton Higgins; 3. Connor Younginer; 4. Austin Greer; 5. Trevor Rizzo; 6. Matthew Eades; 7. Jordan Plummer; 8. Roy Hayes; 9. Blaise Brinkley; 10. Seth Henry; 11. Robby Gordon Douglas; 12. Hudgins Gauntt; 13. Tristan Lesik; 14. Liz Montgomery; 15. Elysia Potter; 16. Swank Hagans; 17. No data; 18. Matthew Emery; 19. Austin Powell; 20. Ray Maynard; 21. Gracie Trotter.
Round 1 (Monday)
Bandolero Beginner Bandits (20 laps): 1. Landon Rapp; 2. Leland Honeyman; 3. Alberto Limon; 4. Jackson Moore; 5. Zachary Miracle; 6. Jake Putnam; 7. Jacob Gantz; 8. Tyler Bartoszewicz; 9. Josh Speas; 10. David Selvik; 11. Stanley Hays.
Bandolero Outlaws (14 laps): 1. Ashton Higgins; 2. Matthew Davey; 3. Connor Younginer; 4. Roy Hays; 5. Trevor Rizzo; 6. Robby Gordon Douglas; 7. Matthew Eades; 8. Matthew Emery; 9. Tristan Lesik; 10. Austin Greer; 11. Hudgins Gauntt; 12. Blaise Brinkley; 13. Jordan Plummer; 14. Gracie Trotter; 15. Seth Henry; 16. Elysia Potter; 17. Austin Powell; 18. John Legg; 19. Liz Montgomery; 20. Swank Hagans.
Legend Car Semi Pro (30 laps): 1. Stevie Johns Jr.; 2. Austin Langenstein; 3. John Holloman Jr.; 4. Jake Tretow; 5. Jordan Stillwell; 6. Joe Gregory; 7. Joe Graf Jr.; 8. Connor Pyle; 9. Jensen Jorgensen; 10. Riley Herbst; 11. Scott Joy; 12. Devin O’Connell; 13. Sprout Royal; 14. Sheldon Crouse; 15. Enrique Lemon; 16. Cameron McGee; 17. Bronson Butcher; 18. Holden German; 19. Taylor Jorgenson; 20. Craig Biryla.
LiveWell Homes Bandolero Bandits (13 laps): 1. Daniel Wilk; 2. Ryan Israel; 3. Carson Kvapil; 4. William Robusto; 5. Bryson Ruff; 6. Blake Cisneros; 7. Tommy Good; 8. Josh Kossek; 9. Cameron Bolen; 10. Dylan Notaro; 11. DJ Canipe; 12. Mini Tyrell; 13. Jaiden Reyna; 14. Maddox Blaise; 15. George Hayes; 16. Ethan Johnson.
Security Force Legend Car Masters (30 laps): 1. Tom Pistone; 2. Scott Whitaker; 3. Robbie Faggart; 4. Bruce Silver; 5. Chip Ferguson; 6. Carl Cormier; 7. Jan Ingram; 8. Ron Maner; 9. Danny Bisson; 10. Craig Bruce; 11. No Data; 12. Jamie Smith; 13. Herman Towe; 14. Rodney Tharpe.
Legend Car Young Lions (20 laps): 1. Dawson Cram; 2. Ryan Millington; 3. Austin Green; 4. Chase Purdy; 5. Alex Reece; 6. Eddie Fatscher; 7. Jacob Heafner; 8. Andrew Molleur; 9. Sam Mayer; 10. Garrett Manes; 11. Carson Pointdexter; 12. Jack Fread; 13. Justin Taylor. **Hit time and then rain**
Legend Car Pros (25 laps): 1. Jordan Black; 2. Greg Lang; 3. Carson Ferguson; 4. Michael Torres; 5. Jared Irvan; 6. Evan Swilling; 7. Zane Smith; 8. Reid Wilson; 9. Dylan Faggart; 10. Alex Murray; 11. Spencer Boyd; 12. Joey Padgett; 13. Drew Brown.
Harvick’s streak of four consecutive second-place finishes at Michigan dates back to June 2013, when he was runner-up to Greg Biffle by 2.989 seconds. In August 2013, Harvick finished 1.018 seconds behind Joey Logano. In 2014, he followed Hendrick Motorsports drivers Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon across the finish line in the June and August races, respectively. Four races, four second-place finishes to four different drivers.
Harvick also has finished second in the last two Sprint Cup races this season – at Dover (Del.) International Speedway and Pocono (Pa.) Raceway. He started sixth at Dover and led 91 laps but was unable to catch Johnson on a green-white-checkered restart. Last weekend at Pocono, Harvick started fifth and led 39 laps but ran out of time in his attempt to chase down race-winner Martin Truex Jr.
Fourteen races into 2015, Harvick has scored 10 top-two finishes. That’s eight second-place finishes, plus wins at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and Phoenix International Raceway, and he sits atop the driver standings with 559 points. His five straight Sprint Cup finishes of second or better to start the season is a series record. He has led a series-high 1,162 laps with an average finish of 5.8. His 1,162 laps led are 503 laps more than the next-closest competitor – 659 by his SHR teammate Kurt Busch.
The Bakersfield, California native leads several other statistical categories: 126.7 driver rating, 10 top-five finishes, 13 top-10s, 24 bonus points, 738 fastest laps run, 20.1 percent of fastest laps run, 25.9 percent of laps led, 1,317.88 miles led, 4,171 laps in the top-15, 93.1 percent of laps in the top-15, average running position of 5.28 and an average finish of 5.8.
The reigning Sprint Cup champion has led at least one lap in 13 straight Sprint Cup points events in 2015. The only race he hasn’t led was the season-opening Daytona 500.
While the No. 4 team already has two Sprint Cup wins, is running at the front every weekend, leading in most statistical categories and is a virtual lock to make the Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship, the team is still trying to spend more time in victory lane.
This Sunday at Michigan, Harvick and the No. 4 team will continue their quest for wins that will generate maximum bonus points for when the Chase officially kicks off at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet in September.
There is a track, 2 miles of asphalt in southern Michigan, nestled in the Irish Hills just south of Brooklyn.
People come from all over to watch the racing there, including the automotive cities that surround it – Fort Wayne, Indiana; Toledo, Ohio; Flint, Michigan; and of course Detroit, the biggest of them all.
Perhaps they stop at the Beach Bar in Brooklyn or grab a six-pack and a bottle of wine at Woodstock Wine and Cheese before grilling burgers or enjoying some pasta selections.
Maybe they’ll wait out two days of rain and watch the race on a Tuesday like back in 2007.
They stay up late and tell old bench racing stories with daylight lasting until after 10 p.m.
People will come to watch 43 drivers navigate the 2 miles of asphalt and use multiple lanes to figure out the fastest way for their car. They will see Danica Patrick, driver of the No. 10 GoDaddy Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), try to make history.
Race fans will hope they can see her lead five laps and finish seventh, like she did in the 2007 IndyCar Series race, or go from 39th to 13th like she did in the June 2013 Sprint Cup race.
Overall, they will hope to see a good, competitive, safe race in Sunday’s Michigan 400 at Michigan International Speedway.
It’s pure racing. It’s pure Michigan.