Speedway Digest Staff
Follow us on Twitter @SpeedwayDigest
Kevin Harvick Winning Early Helps Late
Jimmy John’s final race of the Sprint Cup Series season as a primary sponsor of the No. 4 Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) will help Kevin Harvick kick off his bid to win his first Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship this weekend during Sunday’s MyAFibStory.com 400 at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Illinois.
Jimmy John’s, founded in 1983 by 19-year old Jimmy John Liautaud approximately 163 miles from Chicagoland Speedway in Charleston, Illinois, serves up ridiculously fresh sandwiches quicker than you can say “Turkey Tom,” a customer-favorite which, ironically, is No. 4 on the menu. Jimmy John’s is all about the freshest ingredients, the fastest service and “Freaky Fast” delivery. While most people are more than impressed with the quality of Jimmy John’s sandwiches, it’s the speed with which they are prepared and delivered that really puts the now Champaign, Illinois-based chain ahead of the rest.
Harvick is hoping to use the same principles to deliver a freaky fast win early in each three-race round of the 10-race Chase to help him advance to the final four and win his first Sprint Cup championship.
Harvick qualified for the 10-race Chase by virtue of his two wins at Phoenix International Raceway and Darlington (S.C.) Raceway. His two regular-season victories were each worth three bonus points. Harvick carries his six bonus points into the Chase to slot sixth among the 16 drivers. He finished seventh in the regular-season standings with 788 points. This is his fifth consecutive playoff appearance and his eighth since the inception of the Chase in 2004. He finished fourth in his Chase debut in 2006, 10th in 2007, fourth in 2008, third in 2010, third in 2011, eighth in 2012 and third in 2013.
Harvick’s freaky fast win at Phoenix in March virtually secured his position in the 16-driver Chase field under NASCAR’s new “win and you’re in” format. His second win of the season at Darlington in April gave the team additional Chase security and an additional three bonus points. The early wins helped to ease the pressure on the newly assembled No. 4 Jimmy John’s team, allowing them to focus on building for the future and to work on eliminating unnecessary errors for later in the season.
The early season wins also allowed the Jimmy John’s team to save its four NASCAR-sanctioned test dates until later in the year to focus on winning in the Chase. SHR used the first of its four tests on Aug. 25 and 26 at Chicagoland to prepare for Sunday’s race. While rain plagued both days of the test, the team still was able to get some time on the track to learn as much as it could to put it in position to not only contend for but to win the first race of the Chase.
Harvick already has two wins at Chicagoland in both the NASCAR Sprint Cup and NASCAR Nationwide Series. He won the inaugural Sprint Cup race there on July 15, 2001, and made it back-to-back Chicagoland wins as he reached victory lane again on July 14, 2002. He also has two Nationwide Series wins – September 2005, when he won from the fifth position and led 20 laps, and July 2007, when he started eighth and led 27 laps.
The Bakersfield, California native is doing double duty this weekend and will get additional seat time behind the wheel of the No. 5 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet Camaro for JR Motorsports in Saturday’s Jimmy John’s Freaky Fast 300 Nationwide Series race. Harvick already has three Nationwide Series wins driving for JR Motorsports in 2014 – at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway in April, Kentucky Speedway in Sparta in June and Atlanta Motor Speedway in August.
The No. 4 Jimmy John’s team is hoping it can continue its approach of winning early and apply it to each round of the Chase. A win in the 16-driver Challenger round, consisting of the races at Chicago, New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon and Dover (Del.) International Speedway, would automatically advance a team to the 12-team Contender round. A win in the Contender round, consisting of races at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City, Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway and Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway, guarantees a spot in the eight-team Eliminator round. A win in the Eliminator round, consisting of races at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway, Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth and Phoenix International Raceway, guarantees a spot in the four-team Championship finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Harvick is looking to win races early in each round to ride his “freaky fast” Jimmy John’s Chevrolet all the way to his first Sprint Cup Series championship.
Race fans will have the opportunity to see a free concert from country music star Colt Ford on the Victory Plaza stage at 10:30 a.m. the morning of the Sept. 28 “AAA 400” NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Dover International Speedway, which is event No. 3 in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup and the first “knockout race” of the new playoff format.
Ford will bring his unique blend of country music and hip-hop to the Dover race weekend in support of his most recent album, “Thanks for Listening,” released through his self-owned Average Joes Entertainment label. The album features collaborations with Keith Urban, “Duck Dynasty’s” Boss Hog and Willie Robertson, Jerrod Niemann and others.
“I think it’s the best record I’ve ever done,” Ford said. “It’s got a lot of the different elements that I do well, and I push myself on some other things. The idea is to try to grow as an artist and still be who you are, and not completely forget to give the fans that made you what they like. I’ve never been more excited by new music than this.”
Ford compares his unique style to the spoken-word songs of country greats like Tex Williams, Roger Miller, Johnny Cash and C.W. McCall, and is able to seamlessly blend the world of country music and hip-hop, noting the similarity in that both are focused on storytelling and real-life experiences.
Dover Motorsports PR
Former UFC World Light Heavyweight Champion Chuck Liddell will lead the field to the green flag behind the wheel of the Official Toyota Pace Car at the start of the Quicken Loans Race for Heroes 500 at Phoenix International Raceway on Sunday, Nov 9. Liddell’s appearance was the result of a partnership between PIR and Niner Sports & Entertainment. As the official pace car driver for the semifinal race in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, the 44-year old mixed martial artist will take an honorary lap around the one-mile oval.
“I can’t wait to get behind the wheel and pull out onto the track with the best drivers in the world at Phoenix International Raceway,” Liddell said. “I have a tremendous amount of respect for what NASCAR drivers do, and to have the opportunity to lead them to the green flag in the semifinal race in the Chase for the Sprint Cup will be a huge honor.”
Regarded as one of the greatest light heavyweights in the history of professional mixed martial arts, Liddell quickly gained recognition as an elite fighter, rising to become the light-heavyweight champion of the world, and inducted to the UFC Hall of Fame in 2009. Now as a husband, father, and superstar, Liddell is able to inspire others through his recent autobiography titled "Iceman: My Fighting Life," published in 2008, as well as traveling all over the world for public speaking engagements and promotional events.
In addition to his duties behind the wheel, Liddell will make a promotional appearance at PIR prior to the race on Sunday, Nov 9. For more information on timing and other appearances, please visit PhoenixRaceway.com.
NASCAR Team to receive C-17 Orientation Flight
Members of the Germain Racing team will take part in a C-17 Globemaster III orientation flight on Thursday, September 25, 2014.
Germain Racing will be in Dover, Del. for the Sept. 26-28, 2014 NASCAR Race weekend at Dover International Speedway. Germain Racing fields the No. 13 GEICO Chevrolet SS, driven by Casey Mears.
The orientation flight is a local training mission that will give the team the opportunity to witness an in-flight air refueling. The orientation flight provides the opportunity for the team members to better understand Dover Air Force Base’s mission and flight operations and how it fits into the overall Air Force mission and be able to relay that to their public audience.
Members of Team Dover and NASCAR participants work hand-in-hand each year twice per year for race weekends at Dover International Speedway.
Dover Air Force Base PR
Homestead-Miami Speedway's "Racing to Read" Program Waves Green Flag
Through Homestead-Miami Speedway’s “Racing to Read” program, many students across Miami-Dade County will be on the fast track to become avid readers.
This program, which started this week and runs through October 10, challenges second-grade students from 25 public schools in Miami-Dade County to read 10 books or more during this five-week window. The students who are able to achieve this goal will receive two complimentary tickets to the NASCAR Nationwide Series Ford EcoBoost 300 Championship Race at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Saturday, November 15, 2014. The student who reads the most books will get a very special opportunity to be driven to school in the Homestead-Miami Speedway Official Pace Car. In addition, the school with the most books read receives $1,000 from Driving for a Cause, a donor advised fund of The NASCAR Foundation, to purchase books and supplies for their school. The top reading class will also receive a pizza party.
“It is important for kids to develop a love for reading at an early age, and this program provides our area youth this opportunity,” said Homestead-Miami Speedway President Matthew Becherer. “At the same time, we also hope to cultivate the next generation of NASCAR fans, with many of the unique prizes that are offered.”
This is the third straight year in which Homestead-Miami Speedway has sponsored this program. More information on this program can be found at www.homesteadmiamispeedway.com/racingtoread.
Homestead Miami Speedway PR
Martinsville Speedway Extends Ticket Hours Beginning Saturday
Can’t get to Martinsville Speedway during the week to buy tickets to the Goody’s® Headache Relief Shot®500? Well, there is good news race fans.
With race day just seven weeks away, the Martinsville Speedway ticket office will be open on Saturdays beginning this week to give fans more opportunity to drop by the track and pick out their seats for the Oct. 26 race.
Beginning Sept. 13, the speedway ticket office will be open from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturdays. The Martinsville Speedway ticket office is open Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Fans have many great deals to choose from for the Goody’s® Headache Relief Shot® 500, including:
The Family Four Pack: With the Family Four Pack, a family of four can attend the Goody’s® Headache Relief Shot® 500 for just $110. The Family Four Pack includes two adult seats and two youth 12-and-under seats in the Clay Earles Tower, rows 6-14.
Youth And Teen Prices: Tickets for youth 12-and-under are just $15 in the Clay Earles Tower, rows 15-52. Teen tickets (ages 13-17) in the same area are $25. Youth and teen ticket prices are good with the purchase of an adult ticket.
Tickets for Youth 12-and-under are just $5 to the Kroger 200 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race on Oct. 25 and youth are admitted free to Virginia Lottery Pole Day on Oct. 24. Adult tickets for the Kroger 200 are $30 in advance and $35 on race day.
Adult ticket prices for the Goody’s® Headache Relief Shot® 500 start at $40. Seats in the Bill France Tower are only $50.
Martinsville Speedway PR
Rheem announced today that the company will participate as a primary sponsor in two of the remaining 2014 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series races. Rheem will fulfill contractual commitments previously made with Chicagoland Speedway and Phoenix International Raceway where Rheem had reserved hospitality, catering and large ticket blocks for Rheem customer groups.
Richard Childress Racing (RCR), a longtime partner of Rheem, agreed to assist Rheem by providing competitive equipment sourced from NTS Motorsports, an experienced crew chief, Chris Rice, and NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Austin Dillon to Rheem for these events, even though RCR does not currently participate in the Camping World Truck Series. Dillon will drive the No. 20 truck painted in the classic red and black Rheem design.
“We found ourselves in a unique situation and our friends at RCR stepped in to help. We are now able keep our commitments to both tracks as well as to the many Rheem contractors who were invited to be our guests and had been planning for months to attend these exciting races. We are grateful to Richard Childress for his unwavering support and to Bob Newberry for NTS’s valuable assistance,” said Ed Raniszeski, managing director, Rheem Motorsports.
These quick actions were in response to the sudden shuttering two weeks ago of the No. 30 Turner Scott Motorsports No. 30 truck team sponsored by Rheem. As a result, Rheem was left scrambling for a solution and four-time champion driver, Ron Hornaday was left without a ride. Hornaday remains in limbo, but Rheem continues to look for avenues to allow Hornaday to return to truck competition before the 2014 season concludes.
Rheem Manufacturing PR
Earnhardt rolls on to Chicago
An early-race crash cost Jeffrey Earnhardt a good finish in last week’s race at Richmond International Raceway. He hopes to bounce back in Saturday’s Jimmy John’s Freaky Fast 300 at Chicagoland Speedway.
Earnhardt finished 24th in the Nationwide Series’ visit to Chicago earlier this season.
“Chicagoland is another one of those 1.5-mile tracks that look similar to Charlotte or Kansas City but race dramatically different,” Earnhardt said. “It’s fast, but it demands good car control in the corners. We’re looking to improve on our finish there last time.”
Earnhardt sits 18th in Nationwide Series points entering the season’s 26th race.
JD Motorsports PR
Cassill seeking to continue strong run
Landon Cassill rolls into Chicagoland Speedway this weekend hoping to continue the fine performances he has scored this summer.
Over the past nine races, Cassill has rolled to finishes of 15th, 16th, 13th, 14th, 15th and 14th – strong runs for the JD Motorsports with Gary Keller team.
He’ll shoot for a top-15 finish in Saturday’s Jimmy John’s Freaky Fast 300 Nationwide Series race at Chicagoland driving the G&K Services Chevrolet.
“We’ve had really good cars over the last few months, and the guys have really stepped up and performed well on pit road,” Cassill said. “We want to close out the season over the coming weeks with another string of strong runs, and we hope to get started this week in Chicago.”
Cassill finished 21st earlier in the season at the 1.5-mile track.
JD Motorsports PR
Dover International Speedway to host annual World Championship Punkin Chunkin on Oct. 24-26, 2014
Dover International Speedway announced today that it has reached an agreement to become the new host site for the World Championship Punkin Chunkin event, an annual contest that will be held Oct. 24-26, 2014 on the Speedway grounds. 2014 marks the 28th year of the event.
Punkin Chunkin has been held each year in Delaware since 1986, and sees teams from around the world compete in the sport of hurling a pumpkin solely by mechanical means for distance. Some devices used include slingshots, catapults, air cannons and more. The non-profit event gives out scholarships to students each year.
Punkin Chunkin will take place on the same grounds the Speedway uses to host the Firefly Music Festival. For the seventh consecutive year, Science Channel will be on hand capturing every moment of the high-stakes, unbelievable engineering and autumnal absurdity of Punkin Chunkin. In what has become a Thanksgiving Week tradition all of the high-flying Punkin Chunkin action will world premiere on Science Channel Saturday, November 29 from 8-10 PM ET/PT.
“We’re excited to bring a world renowned event like Punkin Chunkin to Dover International Speedway,” said Mike Tatoian, executive vice president and COO of Dover Motorsports, Inc. “Their event and incredible fan base, teamed with our infrastructure and experience with hosting large-scale events should make for a terrific event this fall and subsequent years.”
Tatoian said the Speedway’s central location in the state and easy access off of State Route 1 make it an ideal location to host Punkin Chunkin for the first time.
“In addition, we hope that by keeping this distinctly Delaware event in Delaware we will attract a number of new fans from the north, allowing us to make Punkin Chunkin bigger and better than ever.”
The Punkin Chunkin organizers scouted more than 50 locations both within and outside of Delaware before settling on the Speedway for the 2014 event, citing not only its convenient location but also the available space. Some air cannons can shoot pumpkins nearly one mile, so locating a space that could handle the competition and crowds proved challenging for Punkin Chunkin officials.
Dover Motorsports PR