Friday, Oct 07
Speedway Digest Staff

Speedway Digest Staff

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Max Gresham has never been to the Phoenix International Raceway, so Fridaynight's Lucas Oil 150 will be a unique experience for the 20-year-old driver.

 

But that doesn't mean he will not be ready for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race.

 

As a team, Sharp-Gallaher Racing has four NASCAR Camping World Truck Series starts at the track, with two top-10 finishes.

 

"I've never seen the place. You can't really prepare for a track until you have driven on it," Gresham said. "Our No. 8 Scottsdale Insurance Company Chevrolet will show up and unload, and we hope to figure it out by Lap 2 of practice."

 

Gresham has heard all the stories about the quirky one-mile racetrack. He knows of the dogleg on the backstretch. He knows it's basically flat. He's heard about the big rattlesnake roundups before the race.

 

Track officials spend several days walking around the track collecting rattlesnakes before each race. The speedway is in the Arizona desert, pressed against the Estrella Mountain range.

 

In 36 career NASCAR Camping World Truck Series starts the Milner, Ga., native has plenty of experience with other tracks one-mile in length - tracks like Dover International Speedway. He has two starts at Dover in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series with an average start of 11.5 and average finish of 29th-place.

 

Gresham's truck has a winning pedigree. It once was part of Kevin Harvick Inc.'s fleet, and Clint Bowyer drove it to a victory at the Kansas Speedway in 2011. Earlier this season Gresham drove it to a 13th-place finish at the Iowa Speedway.

 

"We'll spend a lot of time early Thursday helping Max get acclimated to the track," said crew chief Chris Showalter. "He's always been a quick study, so we should be able to concentrate on fine-tuning our Scottsdale Insurance Company Chevrolet in the second practice."

 

"I can't wait to see Phoenix for the first time," Gresham said. "I feel like we're going to become old friends."

 

Max Gresham PR

For the fifth-consecutive year, NASCAR will return to Las Vegas for the postseason NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champion’s Week™, a star-studded, entertainment-filled celebration for the series champion and fans, culminating with one of NASCAR’s marquee events, the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Awards. Since 2009, the awards have been held at Wynn Las Vegas and have grown in stature and prestige with each passing year.

This year’s awards will take place Dec. 6, returning to Wynn Las Vegas with FOX Sports 2 and NASCAR.com providing coverage from 9 p.m. – midnight ET. Motor Racing Network and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio Channel 90 will provide live coverage beginning at 8 p.m. ET. The show will also re-air on FOX Sports 1 at noon ET on Dec. 8.

Among the fan-friendly and interactive events this year are the NASCAR National Motorsports Press Association (NMPA) Myers Brothers Awards Luncheon, the annual event where drivers and teams collect a number of year-end awards and accolades; NASCAR Victory Lap down the world-famous Las Vegas Strip, featuring burnouts and an authentic pit stop; and NASCAR After The Lap™ sponsored by Ford and Coca-Cola, an interactive Q&A session between fans and all 13 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup™ drivers.

Once again this year, fans will join drivers, team owners and industry leaders in celebrating the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champion™ at the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Awards. Approximately 200 tickets were made available to fans through various promotions, contests and giveaways sponsored by NASCAR Official Partners, race tracks and race teams. Fan tickets will offer fans access to the following NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champion’s Week experiences:

·        NASCAR NMPA Myers Brothers Awards Luncheon

·        NASCAR After The Lap 

·       NASCAR Fan Reception and Red Carpet Walk

·        NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Awards

Following is a rundown of NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champion’s Week activities; all times are local.

Tuesday, Dec. 3

·        NASCAR Live: For the third year in a row, Eli Gold will sit down for an hour with the 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion to discuss the 2013 season and what winning the championship means. NASCAR Live will air from inside the Sports Book at Wynn Las Vegas from 4-5 p.m. on Motor Racing Network Radio. This event is free to the public and fans in attendance will have a chance to participate in the live broadcast.

Tuesday – Wednesday, Dec. 3 – 4

·        2013 NASCAR Motorsports Marketing Forum: The 14th annual NASCAR Motorsports Marketing Forum, presented by SportsBusiness Daily/Global/Journal, is the motorsports industry’s most comprehensive business forum. Held at Aria Resort & Casino, the Forum will provide a 360-degree overview of motorsports by featuring insight and perspective from sports and marketing executives both within and outside the motorsports industry. Registration is required at www.MotorsportsMarketingForum.com.

Tuesday – Friday, Dec. 3 – 6

·        NASCAR Pit Stop Tour: The NASCARPit Stop Tour consists of Official Partner show cars featured in iconic locations throughout the Las Vegas Strip from 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. each day. Fans can get up close and personal with the cars at the following locations: Tropicana (Chevrolet), The Palazzo (Ford), Harrah’s (Ford), the “Welcome to Las Vegas” sign (2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champion show car), the Coca-Cola store and M&M’S World.

·        M&M’S® To Make the CHASE FOR THE NASCAR SPRINT CUP™ ‘BETTER WITH M’: Should Kyle Busch, driver of the No. 18 M&M’S Toyota Camry, capture the 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship, the brand will celebrate with America by giving away one million free bags of M&M’S. The giveaway in Las Vegas will be part of the NASCAR Pit Stop Tour, with sampling teams up and down the Las Vegas Strip.

Wednesday, Dec. 4

·        Fanfest Presented by Las Vegas Motor Speedway: The fifth annual LVMS Fanfest will again be held at the Fremont Street Experience, and begin at 1:30 p.m. with the arrival of the 13 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers. This event is free to the public and will consist of a red carpet walk by the 13 drivers, followed by a special “game show format” on-stage event featuring the drivers. Race fans will have the chance to win two tickets to the 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Awards to be held two nights later at Wynn Las Vegas.

·        Betty Jane France Humanitarian Award Reception: This year’s finalists for the Betty Jane France Humanitarian Award will be honored at a reception at Wynn Las Vegas from 4:30 – 5:30 p.m. The NASCAR Foundation will announce the award winner during this year’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Awards on Friday, Dec. 6. Fans can cast their vote for the 2013 Betty Jane France Humanitarian Award winner by visiting www.NASCAR.com/award before 11:59 p.m. ET on Dec. 5.

Thursday, Dec. 5

·        NASCAR NMPA Myers Brothers Awards Luncheon: The annual awards luncheon and industry gathering will be held from 11 a.m. – 1:15 p.m. in the Encore Ballroom at Wynn Las Vegas, where several team and individual awards will be presented. Among those awards included are the Champion Sponsor, Champion Crew Chief, Sunoco Rookie of the Year and NMPA Most Popular Driver awards. The event will be live-streamed on www.NASCAR.com.

·        NASCAR Victory Lap: The green flag on the fan-favorite NASCAR Victory Lap will wave at 3:30 p.m., with pre-lap festivities to begin at 2:45 p.m., when the 13 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers parade down Las Vegas Boulevard in their race cars. NASCAR Victory Lap will start and finish in front of the Miracle Mile Shops on Las Vegas Boulevard and will once again provide fans with a unique experience to feel the excitement of NASCAR, featuring driver introductions, an authentic pit stop in front of the Fountains of Bellagio (performed by members of the NASCAR Drive for Diversity Pit Crew Development Program Presented by Sprint) and two burnout sections – with viewing areas along the route. Portions of the event will be broadcast live on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio Channel 90 and www.NASCAR.com will live-stream the event.

·        NASCAR After The Lap sponsored by Ford and Coca-Cola: One of the premier events of NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champion’s Week, NASCAR After The Lap sponsored by Ford and Coca-Cola will be held from 5-6:30 p.m. at The Pearl Palms Concert Theater inside the Palms Casino Hotel. Fans can purchase tickets at www.NASCARAfterTheLap.com for $20 each (all ticket proceeds benefit The NASCAR Foundation) to attend the fan-favorite event featuring all 13 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers. Among the many highlights from NASCAR After The Lap’s humorous history are Jeff Gordon break dancing and Denny Hamlin doing “The Dougie.” The event will be broadcast live on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio Channel 90 and www.NASCAR.com will live-stream the event.

Friday, Dec. 6

·        2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Awards: The postseason black-tie event will begin at 5 p.m. at Wynn Las Vegas, where the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion driver and owner will be crowned and the top-10 drivers in the final standings will be honored. The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Awards, the culmination of Champion’s Week, will feature the NASCAR Fan Reception, Red Carpet Walk, celebrity guests, music and entertainment. FOX Sports 2, www.NASCAR.com, Motor Racing Network Radio and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio Channel 90 will provide coverage of the event.

For more information on the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champion’s Week in Las Vegas, visit www.NASCAR.com/ChampionsWeek.

NASCAR PR

2013 has been a historical year for Rev Racing and the NASCAR Drive for Diversity (#NASCARD4D) program. This season saw four past and current program participants make starts at the national level of the sport, with Paulie Harraka in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, Kyle Larson and Ryan Gifford in the NASCAR Nationwide Series, and Darrell Wallace Jr. in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series.

In October, Wallace became the first African-American driver to win in a NASCAR national series in nearly 50 years with a victory in the Kroger 200 Camping World Truck Series race, a victory that was monumental for both the sport and the program. The success doesn’t stop there, Wallace and Larson are currently leading the Rookie of the Year race in their respective series with two races to go.

“We want to continue to give women and minorities the best training possible in order to be successful as they move up in the sport.” said Max Siegel, Owner of Rev Racing. “I think the success that both Darrell and Kyle have had this season proves that our model is working.”

Since opening its doors in 2010, Rev Racing has had 12 wins, 48 top-five, and 85 top-10 finishes in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East, with drivers finishing in the top-three in points every season. Last year, Kyle Larson won the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East Championship, making Siegel the first African-American owner in the history of the sport to win a championship.

Siegel is proud of the success the program has had, but realizes that there is still plenty of work to be done.

“We want to see more of our drivers graduate from the program and move up through the ranks.” said Siegel, “Our goal is for the field of drivers to represent the demographics of this country, which means having more minorities competing at every level of the sport.”

This past season two Rev Racing drivers earned their first win in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East, Daniel Suarez and Ryan Gifford, and Suarez finished third in the series points standings.

“Both of these drivers have what it takes to be competitive at the next level, and it’s our hope that they get that opportunity.” said Siegel.

The team just wrapped up the annual NASCAR Drive for Diversity combine after screening a record 90 applicants. 20 drivers were selected to compete for a spot on the 2014 Rev Racing roster, and the increased talent pool at the combine this year means the future is bright for Rev Racing and the NASCAR Drive for Diversity program.

Rev Racing PR

K&N Finale...Brandon Jones and his Rheem team make the long haul out west for the Casino Arizona 50 at Phoenix International Raceway (PIR) this weekend.Jones, who ran part time in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East (NKNPSE), will make his series debut in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West (NKNPSW) during its season finale.

 

Gotta Have a Rheem...Rheem will adorn the No. 33 TSM entry for Jones at PIR this weekend. Rheem Manufacturing Company (www.rheem.com) is privately held with headquarters in Atlanta. In its 87th year of operation, the company manufactures a full line of high-quality residential and commercial heating and cooling systems; tank, tankless, solar, and heat pump water heaters; swimming pool heaters and commercial boilers throughout North America and world markets. The company's premium brands, including Raypak, Ruud and Rheem, have been recognized with countless industry and consumer awards for reliability, innovative design and high quality. Rheem, now in its seventh consecutive year as a NASCAR sponsor, is the official heating, cooling and water heating supplier to Turner Scott Motorsports and Richard Childress Racing. Rheem also sponsors RCR's No. 29 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series car driven by Kevin Harvick and the No. 33 NASCAR Nationwide Series car driven by Paul Menard.

 

Chassis Info...The No. 33 team will bring chassis TSM-504 with them to PIR. This is the same chassis that Jones drove to a 12th-place finish at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in September.

 

Season to Date...Jones has bounced back and forth among three different series in 2013. Jones has starts in the UARA-Stars series, three starts in the NCWTS and six starts in the NKNPSE. Jones has been competitive in each series and has gained valuable experience and knowledge.

 

Watch and Listen...The NASCAR K&N Pro Series West returns to Phoenix International Raceway on Saturday November 9 for their season finale. FOX Sports 2 will replay the action on November 17 at 11:00am EST.

 

Brandon Jones on Racing at Phoenix International Raceway

"This is a tremendous opportunity, not only for me, but my whole Turner Scott Motorsports team, to make the trek west to close out 2013. There is some great competition in the K&N West Series and I am looking forward to seeing how we stack up. My Rheem team has prepared a great car for us and I am hoping we can come back east with a solid finish."

 

TSM PR

Newly crowned NASCAR K&N Pro Series East Sunoco Rookie of the Year, Jesse Little, wraps up his 2013 season this weekend as the third-generation driver heads to Phoenix International Raceway for the running of the Casino Arizona 50.

 

The race marks this final K&N event of the year for the division's Western drivers.  Little arrives to Arizona sporting the colors of new sponsor, LYRIC Motion, as he looks to take the company's foray into NASCAR racing to the top of the leader board.

 

"We're excited to have LYRIC Motion on the car this weekend and can't want to give them an awesome experience of NASCAR racing in the Valley of the Sun," Little said. "They're going to be part of our introduction on Saturday night while they announce us as the East Series Rookie of the Year which is a great way to put the spotlight on the company's first partnership in NASCAR."

 

While NASCAR is making tremendous strides in decreasing its impact on the Earth, LYRIC Motion is doing their part providing more mobility with less footprint with their electronic personal transportation vehicles. The LYRIC PTV is powered by lithium iron phosphate batteries and contains enough power to travel up to 25 miles on a single charge at speeds of up to 20 miles/hour.

 

"They have a great product that really can bring a positive impact to the environment and we're proud to partner with them to showcase their initiatives in this important endeavor," Little added.

 

In order to showcase Little's new sponsor the team must adapt their Chevrolet to the tricky one-mile oval, as the 16-year old has never raced at the Avondale, AZ facility.

 

"This weekend will be a challenge as myself, (crew chief) Kris (Bowen) and the guys at Coulter Motorsports will be bringing a K&N car to Phoenix for the first time. They've got a good handle on Phoenix and I am confident with what we're going to unload but qualifying will be a premium with 30 starting positions up for grabs and more than that entered for the race," Little explained. "We've had a solid qualifying program all season and expect it to continue this weekend. With it being a short race (50 laps) we'll also have to be flexible with the set-up to allow our Impala to be strong when the green flag comes out to start the race."

 

Motivation to get back to running in the front of the field after a tough outing to close out the K&N East season will also be a factor, he added.

 

"We had a great car at Road Atlanta but had some transmission issues that set us back in the finishing order. That broke a solid second-half of the season where we finished nearly all of the races running inside the top-10 at the end of the races so we're eager to get that type of result this weekend and get back to showing the strength of our team."

 

Qualifying for the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West Casino Arizona 50 is set for Saturday morning with 50 laps of racing set to get underway at 5 p.m. local time.

 

Another honor for Jesse comes on November 11 as he will be featured in the famed "Faces in the Crowd" section of Sports Illustrated. Copies will be available at newsstands across the country.

 

Voting is underway for the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East Most Popular Driver and Jesse is eligible for the award. Fans can log onto hometracks.nascar.com daily to register their vote for him as voting closes in just a few weeks.

 

Fans can follow Jesse's progress throughout the weekend by logging onto jesselittle.com and at hometracks.nascar.com

 

Jesse Little PR

Danica Patrick knows she’s made a name for herself at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway. It is those two tracks were she’s enjoyed her biggest career moments.

The story is well told – in seven Indianapolis 500 starts, Patrick finished in the top-10 six times, including a third-place result in 2009, the best finish ever for a woman in the historic race. At Daytona, Patrick won the pole for the February 2012 NASCAR Nationwide Series race and then, one year later, became the first woman ever to win a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series pole by taking the top spot for the 55th Daytona 500. She went on to finish eighth in the Daytona 500, the best result ever for a woman in the history of the race.

Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Ill., is another track close to Patrick’s heart as she grew up in Roscoe, Ill., about 116 miles north and west of the 1.5-mile oval.

If there’s a fourth track that important to Patrick, it’s Phoenix International Raceway, the mile oval that will celebrate its 50th year of competition in 2014. Patrick owns a home in Scottsdale, Ariz., but more importantly, the region is home to Patrick’s longtime sponsor, GoDaddy, the Web’s largest platform for small businesses.

GoDaddy and Patrick have been together since 2007 and navigated Patrick’s transition from IndyCar to NASCAR. In addition, Patrick has appeared in a record 12 Super Bowl commercials for GoDaddy, and it was recently announced that Patrick will participate in a 13th spot in February’s broadcast of the game on FOX. GoDaddy will air two spots during the game with Patrick appearing in one of them.

With that as a backdrop, Patrick hopes to put on a good show for the many GoDaddy executives, employees and customers who will be in attendance at Sunday’s AdvoCare 500k Sprint Cup race at Phoenix.

And while she wants to run well for GoDaddy, she also wants to build momentum heading into the offseason, which is rapidly approaching. After Phoenix, only the Ford 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway remains.

But before the season finale, “It’s Go Time,” for Patrick and GoDaddy at Phoenix.

TSC PR

No. 55 Aaron’s Dream Machine Toyota driver Elliott Sadler and his Michael Waltrip Racing team visit Phoenix International Raceway this weekend for the penultimate race in the 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup season.

Both Sadler and the No. 55 team have enjoyed success at Phoenix. Sadler claimed the pole for the Nationwide race in March 2012 and the No. 55 team won the Sprint Cup pole with driver Mark Martin earlier this year. Sadler hopes for similar success this weekend on the fast, mile oval.

SADLER ON PHOENIX: “I won the spring Nationwide race at Phoenix last year so that was pretty good. I finished fifth there this year in the spring, but I wrecked there last fall. So, let’s hope we have more of a spring result than a fall result. I haven’t been in a Cup car in Phoenix in a long time -- not since the repave -- so I know it’s going to drive a little bit different. I feel like the MWR program is pretty good. I know the 55 sat on the pole there last year, so they definitely have a good short track program. We’ll go there and see where it takes us, but I can’t really give you an honest answer what to expect because I haven’t been there on the new pavement in a Cup car. Two of the last three races that we have been there in the Nationwide car is a win and a top-five so I feel pretty good about that.”

SADLER ON GOALS DRIVING THE NO. 55: “We’re going to look at it as we have nothing to lose. We’re not trying to battle any points or anything like that, so we can really try different setups, we can try different pit strategy. To sit here and tell you that I just want to go be competitive and not do much is a lie. I want to come out and try to qualify good each week and run good each week and put ourselves in position to be there at the end of the race. I’m a competitor no matter what I play and no matter what I race. I want to be involved and competitive in a good way. This is what we come for whether it’s Phoenix or Homestead. It can happen. That’s the attitude we have. My guys are working their butts off to get the cars good for these final races and I’m going to do everything I can to give them the information to make the car as good as we can and get me as good as we can. We’re going to go after it.”

MWR PR

Penske Racing announced today that AutoZone will join the organization as an associate sponsor for the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season. 

AutoZone and Penske Racing will embark on an extensive business-to-business relationship as the company’s logo will be prominently featured on the C-post of the No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford Fusion driven by 2013 Chase driver Joey Logano beginning next season. AutoZone will also work with other Penske Racing partners to increase its presence in the racing community. In addition, the Memphis, Tenn.-based company will launch a marketing campaign focused around Penske Racing and Logano.

“We are very excited to welcome AutoZone to the Penske Racing family,” said Roger Penske.  “We take great pride in the companies like AutoZone that invest in our organization. This partnership will help us continue to grow at Penske Racing and provide an opportunity for the rest of our partners to work with yet another great company in AutoZone.”

AutoZone is the nation's leading retailer and a leading distributor of automotive replacement parts and accessories with more than 5,000 stores in the US, Puerto Rico, and Mexico. Each store carries an extensive line for cars, sport utility vehicles, vans and light trucks, including new and remanufactured hard parts, maintenance items and accessories. Since opening its first store in Forrest City, Ark. on July 4, 1979, the company has joined the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE: AZO) and earned a position in the Fortune 500.

AutoZone has an extensive history in motorsports, including various sponsorships in NASCAR, powerboat racing and regional racing series around the country. This marks the automotive company’s first sponsor relationship in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.

“When you decide to enter into an agreement like this, you want to work with a company that everyone respects and that’s what Penske Racing is, especially in the motorsports world,” said Bill Rhodes, President and CEO of AutoZone.  “We are all really excited to form this new partnership with Roger Penske and his first-class organization. Already from the beginning, they’ve made us feel very welcome.  And to get to work with an up-and-coming driver and a car guy like Joey Logano is about as good as it gets.”

Logano, who is in his first season driving the No. 22 Ford Fusion for Penske Racing, has posted career-high numbers in 2013 with one win, two poles, 11 top-five and 17 top-10 finishes.  He qualified for his first Chase for the Sprint Cup this season in his fifth full-time year competing in the series. Logano has also won three races in the NASCAR Nationwide Series in 2013, giving him a total of 21 wins in the series since 2008.

“It’s pretty cool to see a new company come into our sport and to get involved at the level that AutoZone is planning to do next season,” said the 23-year-old Logano, who won at Michigan International Speedway earlier this season. “To have a company come in and be really excited about working with you and your team, it really makes you feel good.  Having AutoZone on board starting next season is great for our sport and Penske Racing and it makes me want to go out there and win even more races for them.”

Penske Racing PR

Jeff Burton, driver of the No. 31 @CATMining Chevrolet, will make his 1,000th-career NASCAR start when the Sprint Cup Series heads to Phoenix International Raceway on Sunday, Nov. 10, 2013

 

During a NASCAR career spanning more than 25 years, Burton has amassed 48 wins including victories in the Southern 500 at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway and the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. The South Boston, Va., native has earned more than 250 top-five and 400 top-10 finishes, was named the 1994 Sprint Cup Series "Rookie of the Year" and co-piloted the No. 29 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet to the 2007 NASCAR Nationwide Series owner's championship.

 

"It's hard for me to imagine that I have driven in 1,000 NASCAR races," said Burton. "I've been lucky and blessed to have family and friends that have given me all this support. I also have good relationships with everyone that I've worked with over the years to show for it, which is most important to me."

 

Overall, the 46-year-old driver has made 689 Sprint Cup Series starts along with 306 starts in the Nationwide Series and four starts in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series driving for Richard Childress Racing, Roush Fenway Racing and the Stavola Brothers among others. Burton is the last driver to lead 100 percent of the laps in a NASCAR-sanctioned event, pacing the field for all 300 laps en route to victory at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in 2000 and was the 2007 NASCAR Illustrated "Person of the Year." He currently sits 19th in the 2013 Sprint Cup Series driver championship point standings on the strength of two top-five and six top-10 finishes.

 

"It makes it even sweeter to reach this milestone at Phoenix International Raceway where we have had a lot of success over the years," added Burton. "The No. 31 @CATMining Chevrolet team had a top-10 finish in March at Phoenix and tested there recently. We expect to contend for the win this weekend."

 

RCR PR

Aric Almirola looks to end the 2013 season with momentum from the last two races. Heading to Phoenix (Ariz.) International Raceway this weekend, his goal is to score a solid finish in the No. 43 Smithfield Ford as the team competes with a different tire from when they raced here in the spring.

 

Almirola has 14 NASCAR starts at the one-mile track in all three National series. In five Sprint Cup starts, he scored his best finish of 12th in the 2012 spring race. This season, he brought home a 15th-place finish in his first start in a Gen-6 car at the track. He tallied his best track finish of third in the truck series in 2009 and scored a pole in the Nationwide Series in the fall event in 2011.

 

Comments from Smithfield Ford Fusion Driver Aric Almirola:

 

"Phoenix is certainly losing grip. Goodyear is bringing a softer tire for this race, so that should make it better for us. We should have more grip which should put on a better race. Hopefully, the tire will wear out so you won't see us taking two tires or no tires like we have been on this new surface. Hopefully, it will be more like a typical short track race where four tires will mean something. I like the new configuration. I think it will just get better and better as it gets older, wore out, loses grip and Goodyear is able to bring a softer and softer tire. I think it will be a lot of fun this weekend.

 

"With two races left this season, it is really important that we end the season on a high note. We are really focused on these last two races. We did really well at the end of the year last year and that momentum really helped this season. Our goal is to do that again this year and start next season on a high note."

 

Comments from Smithfield Ford Fusion Crew Chief Greg Ebert:

 

"We had a pretty good race here in the spring. We raced in the second spot for a good portion of the race. We struggled a little with the harder tire and are excited to see what the new tire here brings. We have had mixed results this season short track and look to turn that around this weekend. Our biggest goal for the last two races is to get some good momentum leading into the off-season, and I think we can do just that starting this weekend at Phoenix."

 

RPM PR

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