Wednesday, Jun 29
Speedway Digest Staff

Speedway Digest Staff

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On the road again.

That’s the assignment for driver Mike Wallace and the JD Motorsports with Gary Keller team as the No. 01 Chevrolet rolls into rural Wisconsin this weekend for the Johnsonville Sausage 200 at Road America.

The race is the first of three road-course events on this year’s Nationwide Series schedule. The tour also will stop at Watkins Glen International in New York and the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course – both in August.

“I love Road America,” Wallace said. “The area is very nice, real picturesque. There’s all sorts of things going on there, and we’ve had good success there. I’m looking for a good performance again. It’s fun. It’s different.”

Traditional ova-track stock-car racers sometimes attend road-racing schools to improve their road-course skills. In February, Wallace attended veteran road-course driver Ron Fellows’ driving school to brush up on his skills.

“Ron and his guys taught me a little,” Wallace said. “I hope I’ve freshened up on my road-course skills. I think I’m a better road-course racer. We’ll know soon.”

Wallace enters the race in 16th in Nationwide points.


JD Motorsports PR

Last season’s Sprint Cup win at Sonoma Raceway was a big deal for No. 15 5-hour ENERGY Toyota driver Clint Bowyer.

The win was Bowyer’s first since joining Michael Waltrip Racing, his first win on a road course, the first for the No. 15 team and sponsor 5-hour ENERGY. But, the win also carried special meaning for an 11-year old boy fighting Stage IV Burkett’s Lymphoma at a hospital back in Winston-Salem, N.C.

Brady Bakken, the son of 5-hour ENERGY sales broker Brett Bakken, was in the battle of his life fighting the disease with everything he had. As a gesture of support for Brady, MWR put Bakken’s name above the passenger side door of Bowyer’s No. 15 Toyota Camry.

As luck would have it, Bakken got the ride of his life! Bowyer led 71 laps and held off former Sprint Cup champions Kurt Busch and Tony Stewart in the closing laps to deliver the special win.

Shortly after winning the race, Bowyer gave a special message to the TV cameras in victory lane dedicating the win to Bakken and telling him to keep up the good fight.

Bakken delivered on his end too. Bakken, now 12 years old, is in full remission and back in his hometown of Boone, N.C. getting healthier by the day.

ON BRADY BAKKEN:“That was such a big win for so many reasons, but nothing as special as to deliver that win for Brady. We got word right before arriving in Sonoma that Brady was in pretty rough shape and fighting with everything he had. Everyone at MWR wanted to do something special to show him that we were thinking of him and praying he got better. We put his name above the passenger side door and told him he could run shotgun with us for the day … and boy did he ever deliver! We got a chance to meet last year at Bristol when he was feeling well enough to visit. I hear he is now in full remission, back at school and getting healthier by the day.”

ON SONOMA:“"I can't wait -- hopefully, we can do it again. Fun race track. It's the first road course of the year. It's always nerve- wracking just getting on the race track, shifting gears and having to down shift coming onto pit road to meet pit road speed -- it's exciting. The track itself is fun. I think it's like a short track of road course racing. I love short track racing, so it's just one of those tracks I've always been able to get on the race track, find pretty good speed and get comfortable and get settled in and have a good weekend."


Bobby Labonte returns to the No. 47 Kingsford Toyota Camry at Sonoma Raceway and has made 20 starts at the venue. The 2000 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion has two top-five and five top-10 finishes at the road course. Labonte's best finish is fourth-place and that has occurred twice (6/25/00 and 6/28/98). His average start is 18.1 and average finish is 20.1. There have been 24 races at Sonoma Raceway with 16 race winners and 15 pole winners.


Passionate about road racing: "I love Sonoma (Raceway) and there is a lot of excitement that goes on during the race," Bobby Labonte said. "Road course racing is really competitive in our sport. With all the twist and turns and elevation changes, tires give up and there's a lot of demand and pressure on the drivers to take in all the elements.

"At tracks like Michigan (International Speedway), Fontana (Auto Club Speedway), Las Vegas (Motor Speedway), you depend on aerodynamics," continued Labonte. "You pretty much throw that out at Sonoma. So much is up to the driver and making sure you don't spin the tires. I really enjoy that track and racing there."

Breath of fresh air: "Sonoma Raceway is definitely a track we enjoy more," crew chief Brian Burns said. "It's a place where you come in and pretty much race what you brought because you don't make many changes. It's more of a driver's track. It's not as mechanically challenging and aero doesn't come into play. We enjoy it because there's a lot of strategy and you can play with fuel mileage."

Clorox Headquarters Visit: "I'm looking forward to spending time on Thursday at The Clorox Company's headquarters in Oakland (California)," Labonte said. "I went out there a couple years ago and had a great time. We're going to spend the day there, have lunch and meet a lot of folks. It's always special to be able to go to your sponsor's headquarters to see the people behind the brand and thank them for their support."

Moving forward progressively: "We are looking forward to having Bobby Labonte back in the No. 47 Kingsford Toyota Camry at Sonoma Raceway this weekend," JTG Daugherty Racing co-owner Tad Geschickter said. "AJ (Allmendinger) did a great job at Michigan International Speedway and identified some additional areas where we need to go to work. The additional perspective is invaluable and will definitely help us find more speed in our cars as Bobby steps back in for this week's race."

Time away from the track: "I'm going to take some time away from the track and do some things," Bobby Labonte said. "San Francisco is a neat city and I'm going there Friday with my son Tyler. We're going to the ball park to watch the San Francisco Giants play the Miami Marlins. It should be a great time."

Odds are, another exciting racing season is in full swing with all the dust-raising, fast paced excitement of this fast and furious sport. Hopefully, this season will keep all its promises as it unravels the real favorites in every curve and tight corners. Many who are avid betters will soon wonder who the real favorites are for this season, and you can bet America sports racing fans will be looking at to follow any relevant news regarding NASCAR 2013. Some people like to wager on football, but here we will be talking about the best drivers for the current NASCAR season. Many fans have no clue on how to wager on sports, but hopefully this article will provide all the betting odds which are needed to make a tidy profit. Ultimately, it's all about fun, and as long as the odds are stacked in your favor the amount of money is not important.

Dale Earnhardt Jr.

He goes into the series having ended the year 2012 with a win, and therefore is an obvious favorite. Though it is difficult to remain consistent and repeat the success of the previous year – the fact that he suffered injuries certainly isn't going to help – Earnhardt still remains a strong candidate for this year's NASCAR season. His like for the new Gen 6 car and his love for attacking tight curves should put in a good spot to repeat last year's win. Don’t' forget he made it into the chase last year, so this is one important factor

Brad Keselowski

He won the Sprint Cup in 2012 and this easily makes him one of the top drivers in NASCAR. He also had his best finishes in the Chase and did not let the pressure get to him at Homestead.

Jeff Gordon

Another driver who ended 2012 with a huge win at Homestead. He fought hard with driver Clint Bowyer and this should see him go in strong throughout this year.Though Gordon hasn't managed to win a championship since the distant-looking year of 2001, he is still a strong favorite to make this year's chase event.

Kasey Kahne

Like his friend and teammate Gordon, he has had his share of problems during last year's season, particularly early on. His poor run at the Texas Motor Speedway event stopped what looked like a certain appearance at The Chase. He might not come out on top this season, but this driver shows to be improving year after year. Perhaps a serious contender for next year's event, but do not write him off just yet.

Kyle Busch

Busch failed to reach the last event in the 2012 NASCAR season, but this does not mean he should be discarded for this year's. His failure last year was mainly due to blown engines and lighting is unlikely to strike the same spot twice, but this year could make or break Busch's chances. It will all depend on his decision making.

Jimmie Johnson

Although he did not win the championship for two consecutive years, there is no reason to write him off. Suffice to say, he has decent betting odds for those interested in placing a wager on him. With five consecutive titles under his belt, he is still a force to reckon with. He also has the advantage of the new Gen 6 vehicle, and this would explain why he is leading the driver’s point standing currently in the Sprint Cup.

With the popularity of NASCAR growing by leaps and bounds across the United States, 2013 is truly set to be an exciting year for this thrilling and exciting sport. With races nearly throughout the year, racing sports fans have a lot to look forward to; with those who know how to bet on sports having the opportunity to make some money.

No. 55 RK Motors Charlotte Toyota driver Brian Vickers has a busy weekend of road course racing planned.

The Michael Waltrip Racing driver will spend Friday and Saturday driving his Nationwide Series car for Joe Gibbs Racing at Road America in Wisconsin. Saturday night he’ll fly a private plane over 2,200 miles to Sonoma Raceway where he’ll drive for MWR in Sunday’s Sprint Cup race. Vickers finished fourth at Sonoma last year behind MWR teammate Clint Bowyer who won the race.

While Vickers is in Wisconsin, 2009 K&N Pro Series West Champion, Jason Bowles will practice and qualify the No. 55 Toyota. The 30-year-old, Ontario, Calif. native owns nine K&N Pro Series West victories including two at the ultra-fast road course in Sonoma, Calif. He won the 2011 Toyota Showdown at Irwindale Speedway and raced in 39 NASCAR Nationwide and three NASCAR Camping World Truck Series races.


JASON BOWLES“I could not be more excited about an opportunity like this. They don't come along often and I’m fortunate that both Rodney Childers and (MWR Ex. Vice Pres. of Competition) Scott Miller wanted to give me this chance. I have a few laps at Sonoma, so that will help get me comfortable. I can't wait to get on the track and drive for a team the caliber of MWR. My dad is going to come up on Friday, he is the one who got me started in racing so it will be special to have him there as well. I don't think we ever dreamed 20 years ago I would end up with this kind of opportunity. But I look forward to getting the car as good as possible for Brian on Sunday and can't thank the whole MWR team enough.”

BRIAN VICKERS:“Going from one track to the other is going to be a challenge for sure, and not being able to practice at all in Sonoma. We’ve got a good base setup from last year though. We’ve done some testing and I think we will be good. Road racing the day prior will help. Being able to practice and qualify would definitely be better, though. I’ve been racing at Sonoma for nine years and it’s a great track. I’ve had some good runs there.”


Tomy Drissi once again will head to Northern California for The Toyota / Save Mart 350 at Sonoma Raceway on June 23, 2013. The Trans Am Champion was hired by NEMCO-JRR for the NASCAR road course event. Tomy has driven in both NASCAR SPRINT Cup and NASCAR Nationwide Series events.
Tomy and the No. 87 team will be sponsored by The Wolverine [movie] opening in theaters, July 26, 2013.
"We're very excited to have Tomy in the car," said Joe Nemechek. "He brings a lot of road racing experience and should be really good at Sonoma."
Tomy shared Joe's enthusiasm.
"This is a great opportunity to run with a great team.
"I especially want to thank "Front Row Joe", Jay Robinson, Tom Legeman and the #87 Team for the giving me the chance to race with the best drivers in the world.
"I've always enjoyed running at Sonoma. Pushing a Cup car around this place and putting The Wolverine movie in front of the fans should be a lot of fun."
The Wolverine is an upcoming American/Australian superhero film featuring the Marvel Comics character Wolverine and is intended to be the sixth installment in the X-Men film series. Hugh Jackman reprises his role from previous films as the title character. Set sometime after X-Men: The Last Stand, Logan travels to Japan, where he engages a mysterious figure from his past in a fight that has lasting consequences. Vulnerable for the first time, and pushed to his physical and emotional limits, he confronts not only lethal samurai steel, but also his inner struggle against his own immortality, emerging more powerful than ever before.
The Toyota - Save Mart 350 at Sonoma Raceway airs live on TNT at 2:00PM ET, Sunday, June 23.
Tomy Drissi is an American driver and Trans Am Champion. His driver experience includes ALMS, Trans-Am, NASCAR and Speed World Challenge.
Born December 9 in Hollywood, California, Tomy owns an advertising firm that produces upcoming film displays for cinemas. Drissi's first racing experience in motorsports was street racing on Mulholland Drive in the Hollywood Hills.
His professional racing career highlights include; 1999 Trans-Am Rookie of the Year, 2000 Trans-Am BBS Most Improved Driver, 2000 Trans-Am Crew of the Year and Trans-Am Champion. He also competed in the American Le Mans Series LMP1 class at Mid-Ohio finishing 3rd. 2011 saw Tomy's return to the American Le Mans Series, LMPC division. He scored a 2nd at Long Beach, 3rd at Lime Rock, 1st at Mid Ohio,1st at Inaugural Baltimore Grand Prix and second at Road Atlanta -Petit Le Mans. In 2012, Drissi teamed with Bruno Junqiera for finishing 2nd at Laguna Seca, a win at Mosport (Canadian Tire Motorsports Park), 2nd at Baltimore and second at the season finale, Petit Lemans.
Tomy is married to Lacy Livingston Drissi.

Bally Technologies, Inc. (NYSE: BYI), a leader in slots, video machines, casino-management, interactive applications, and networked and server-based systems for the global gaming industry, today announced Virtual Racing™ NASCAR® will make its Mississippi debut at the Golden Nugget Biloxi June 21-22.

Bally’s Elite Bonusing Suite™ Virtual Racing promotional tool has already been a huge hit creating floor-wide excitement on casino floors across America, driving coin-in, carded play, new players’ club signups, and tremendous excitement. Now – for the first time in Mississippi – Virtual Racing will feature a NASCAR-themed car racing promotion that lets players at any slot machine on the casino floor actually choose their favorite driver and cheer him across the finish line.

Players will select one of eight famous NASCAR drivers: Clint Bowyer, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jeff Gordon, Kevin Harvick, Jimmie Johnson, Matt Kenseth, Mark Martin, or Martin Truex Jr. from the touch-screen on the iVIEW™ or iVIEW Display Manager (DM) player-user-interface on each of Golden Nugget Atlantic City’s slot or video-poker machines.

Qualified players who select the winning driver will split a guaranteed prize pool of $10,000 in bonus credits daily during the promotion.

The Golden Nugget Biloxi will host daily races each hour from 2-6 p.m. The virtual-racing events are available on all of the casino’s gaming machines – without interrupting game play.

“Players will experience the excitement of Virtual Racing NASCAR for the first time in Mississippi at our property,” said Golden Nugget Biloxi Director of Marketing Melissa Radovich. “It’s going to be a great few days for our players as they compete to win while enjoying the thrill of America’s no. 1 spectator sport. This is the type of fun-filled event that truly sets us apart from the competition and rewards our loyal guests.”

The Golden Nugget Biloxi is also using EBS to add excitement across their iVIEW network using player-centric, real-time interactive promotions such as Virtual Racing™, U-Spin Bonusing™, and DM Tournaments™.

“We are honored to help the Golden Nugget Biloxi continue to build casino excitement and player loyalty,” said Bally Technologies’ Vice President of Systems Sales Tom Reilly. “Virtual Racing NASCAR has been very successful at properties across the U.S. and we are thrilled for it to make its debut in Mississippi.”

Bally's Technologies PR

They say that you never forget your first love. For 22-year-old Parker Kligerman, his first love was road course racing. Until the opportunity to sign with one of NASCAR's premiere teams came about as a teenager, he dreamed of one day becoming a professional road racer. This weekend's Johnsonville Sausage 200 Nationwide Series at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisc. will be a best of both worlds scenario for Kligerman, as he takes to the 4.048-mile, 14-turn road course that he dubs as "one of the finest circuits we have in America" in his No. 77 Toyota Camry.


Kligerman didn't grow up in a racing family -- he simply became enamored with the sport after discovering it while channel surfing as a nine-year-old. A few years later, he convinced his parents to buy him a go-kart and so began a journey that just like a road course -- has gone through several twists, turns and elevation changes.


After humble beginnings in the Norwalk Karting Association -- a local go-kart track set up in a parking lot -- the Connecticut native has quickly emerged through a variety of racing series to become one of the top racing talents in our sport. He graduated to the Skip Barber Racing Series at the age of 15, winning all three events he entered, and the following year the young man headed west to compete in the Formula TR Pro Series. He captured the championship in that series collecting 11 wins and three runner-up finishes across 14 races.


In 2007, Kligerman put his road course aspirations on hold and moved to Indiana to compete in USAC Midgets. He finished fourth in the Illinois State Midget Championship standings that season and in 2008 continued to run midgets in addition to making two ARCA Racing Series starts. In his ARCA debut on the road course at New Jersey Motorsports Park in Millville, he qualified second and finished sixth. In 2009, he signed a Driver Development contract with Penske Racing and ran a full-time ARCA schedule. That season he won a series-high nine races, finished second in the series standings and put his name on the map as a future NASCAR star.


He made his NASCAR debut in October of 2009 at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City, capturing the pole and leading seven laps while posting a respectable seventh-place finish in the Nationwide Series event. Since that time, he has made 89 starts combined between the Camping World Truck Series - where he competed full-time in 2011 and 2012 and picked up his first NASCAR win at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway last October - and the Nationwide Series - where he ran a limited schedule from 2009 to 2012, before becoming a series regular this season with Kyle Busch Motorsports.


Kligerman has been knocking on the door of his first Nationwide Series win. He was leading with less than 10 laps remaining at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway in February, led four laps and was running second as the field took the white flag at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway in May and last weekend was forced to surrender a 1.5-second lead with just over 10 laps remaining after his team's late-race gamble with Mother Nature came up just short.


The talented youngster always dreamed of racing at Road America and that dream will come true when the field takes the green flag for Saturday's 50-lap event. As his worlds collide and he returns to road course racing, it would only be fitting if another dream is realized and the marriage of his first love and current passion ends happily ever after in victory lane this weekend.



Kurt Busch’s road racing skills at Sonoma Raceway have been well documented as a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver.
But when the Furniture Row Racing driver gets asked which race at the 1.99-mile road course in Northern California’s wine country initially stands out, he has a surprising answer.
One would expect the 34-year-old former NASCAR champion to say his Cup victory in 2011 or last year’s incredible performance when he was contending for the win before a suspension problem dropped him to third in a Phoenix Racing entry.
His answer came without hesitation.
“It was my win in the Southwest Series during 1999 NASCAR weekend,” said Busch. “That victory put me on the map and fast-tracked my racing career.”
Busch, a native of Las Vegas, took advantage of a golden opportunity since more NASCAR Cup drivers and owners were intently watching the Saturday race to strategically learn more about the new track design.
“My Southwest Series win at Sonoma was the year the track was reconfigured,” explained Busch. “It was the first time it didn’t have the carousel; they had what they call the chute. So that was a direct straightaway from Turn 4 to Turn 7.
“I think a lot of Cup teams were interested to see how the race was going to play out and they watched the Southwest Tour race with more strategic thought that year. After winning the race it seemed like things moved a lot of easier in my racing career and I have the Sonoma track to thank for that.”
Busch, driver of the No. 78 Furniture Row Chevrolet SS, is looking to give another tip of the hat and a thank you nod to the Sonoma track on Sunday for the 25th running of the Toyota/Save Mart 350. It will be his first road race with the single car, Denver-based Furniture Row Racing team.
“We tested at VIR (Virginia International Raceway) in preparation for this race and feel the road course package that Furniture Row Racing had and that I had give us two avenues to look at when we show up for the race,” noted Busch. “Sonoma is a demanding race on a very technical road course. You have to be patient and have the right pit strategy.”
At the previous Sprint Cup race in Michigan, Busch was one of the prerace favorites, qualifying second and posting the fastest times in Saturday’s two practice sessions. He led the first 21 laps, but a few laps later his car broke loose, hit the wall and suffered major damage. He was able to finish the race, limping home to a 35th-place result.
“Our Furniture Row team needs a strong performance this weekend,” stated Busch, who dropped from 15th to 20th in points following Michigan. “We threw away a bunch of points in Michigan last week after having a really fast race car. We need to rebound and get some of those points back.”
Busch’s overall Sprint Cup record at Sonoma Raceway includes 12 starts, one win, five top-fives, five top-10s, one pole and 139 laps led. He has completed 1,312 of 1,329 laps for a 98.7 percentage. He also has the best driver rating at Sonoma of 107.8 and the best average running position of 9.2.

Sonoma, Calif., is a vigorous grape-producing countryside at the center of the state’s robust wine industry, considered by many to be the birthplace of wine-making in the Golden State. Together with neighboring Napa, Calif., they produce what is widely regarded as some of the world’s finest wines. Playing no small part in placing Northern California in its esteemed place in the field of wine production was the 1976 Paris Wine Tasting, better known as the Judgment of Paris.

The Judgment of Paris was a blind wine tasting that pitted California’s best offerings against French wines, recognized by most of the world as untouchable, at least at the time. It wasn’t supposed to be a contest at all. California’s burgeoning wine makers were not supposed to be able to hold a candle to the superlative works of France’s finest, but those supercilious opinions couldn’t hold up in the field of play as California wines took first place in both red and white categories, laying the groundwork for the thriving industry that exists today.

Thirteen years after earning its place among wine-producing appellations, Sonoma was on the map yet again due to another competitive event. It was believed to be one more mismatch as it paired two worlds that could not have been more different – NASCAR and wine country. There was no panel of judges, and participants were in clear view when Sonoma Raceway hosted the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series for the first time on June 11, 1989. While on paper the two appeared to be an odd coupling, wine country and NASCAR have combined for some incredible shows during the last 25 years.

Enjoying the fruits of that successful match on more than one occasion has been none other than Tony Stewart, a two-time Sprint Cup winner at Sonoma who enters Sunday’s Toyota/SaveMart 350k 10th in the championship point standings thanks to a four-race stretch that has seen him finish seventh, first, fourth and fifth.

The driver of the No. 14 Mobil 1/Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing has played a significant role in many of Sonoma’s exciting races. His name appears often in the track’s history books, and in the new-age history that is NASCAR’s loop data, Stewart ranks first or second in a number of statistical categories for the 1.99-mile road course.

Stewart has made 14 Sprint Cup starts at Sonoma, where in addition to his two wins (2001 and 2005) he has a pole (2002), three second-place finishes, five top-fives and nine top-10s. He has an average finish of 10.9 and has only failed to finish on the lead lap one time – the track’s 2011 race where the Indiana native ended up on the wrong end of a run-in with driver Brian Vickers with less than 25 laps to go. Stewart went from scoring a top-five finish to a career-worst road-course finish of 39th.

While Stewart’s traditional stats speak for themselves, an overview of his position in several loop data categories reinforces the fact that at the end of the day, Stewart’s road-course attributes make him a Road Scholar.

The three-time Sprint Cup champion leads all drivers in the categories of fastest drivers early in a run (90.375 mph), fastest laps run (79), green-flag speed (89.877 mph), laps in the top-15 (706) and speed in traffic (88.945 mph). He ranks second in average running position (9.983) and fastest drivers late in a run (89.437 mph) for an overall driver rating of 107.5 – a close second to Kurt Busch with the best overall driver rating of 107.8.

And Stewart’s road course success isn’t limited to the track in Northern California, as there is a second road course in Watkins Glen, N.Y., which plays host to the Sprint Cup Series in early August. Of Stewart’s 48 career Sprint Cup victories, seven have been won on road courses – two at Sonoma and five at Watkins Glen. While wins are what everyone remembers, the rest of Stewart’s road-course stats are remarkable on their own merit. Between Sonoma and Watkins Glen, Stewart has made 28 career starts in which he has 12 top-fives, 19 top-10s and has led a total of 307 laps to go with his seven wins.

Through the last 25 years Sonoma has earned its place in the annals of NASCAR history, serving as a true test of driver versatility. Stewart is the epitome of versatility, having won in nearly everything, from stock cars and Indy cars to dirt modifieds and open-wheel Sprint, Midget and Silver Crown cars. Just as Stewart has proven victorious on pavement and dirt, he’s proven to be a winner when a racetrack features left and right turns. In his 15th trip to the 10-turn Sonoma road course, Stewart intends to come out on top in the Judgment of Sonoma.



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