Friday, Mar 31
Speedway Digest Staff

Speedway Digest Staff

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Johnny Sauter, unlike his ThorSport Racing teammate Matt Crafton, didn't find a lot to find comfort in during four hours of NASCAR Camping World Truck Series practice Friday at Gateway Motorsports Park while driving his No. 98 Smokey Mountain Herbal Snuff / Curb Records Toyota Tundra.

On Saturday, Sauter hopes to correct the handling deficiencies he experienced Friday to maintain his red-hit record at Gateway, site of the evening's Drivin' For Linemen 200, NASCAR's first national event at the unique, 1.25-mile oval since July 2010 and the 14th Truck Series race here since 1998..

Sauter has a couple Truck Series starts at Gateway and in them, he attained an average start of fourth and an average finish of 2.5. For good measure he has two seventh-place finishes in NASCAR Busch Series races at Gateway.

"I love Gateway, and I always have," Sauter said. "It's the type of racetrack I really enjoy, like a short track but with a lot of speed to it. If we can get our Smokey Mountain Curb Records Tundra working a little bit better we'll have a shot Saturday."


Thursday's opening two-hour practice, held in conditions that will be close to Saturday afternoon's Keystone Light Pole Qualifying session, was a source of puzzlement for Sauter, who struggled to get his Tundra turning positively from the center of the corners off.


Sauter and his crew chief, the veteran Dennis Connor, threw a lot of changes at their green Tundra, with little success. Sauter ended up  17th of the 27 trucks on the sheet, with a best lap in 34.009 seconds, an average speed of 132.318 mph.


In the second two-hour session Sauter's Tundra sat idle early in the practice while the team made a myriad of adjustments. Sauter ended up running 23 laps and ran his best of the day, 33.46 seconds, an average speed of 134.489 mph, on his 12th lap. 


"We were just on the splitter too much and it was really hurting our drive up off the corner (and) our ability to turn," Sauter said. "We were throwing shocks and springs and (sway) at it but I think we've got a good direction for Saurday morning."


Sauter ran a couple sets of laps at the end of practice, after making incremental adjustments, that resulted in him lapping within hundreths of a second of his best lap.


Thorsport PR

Jeb Burton took advantage of four hours of NASCAR Camping World Truck Series practice Friday at Gateway Motorsports Park to find a comfort zone in his No. 13 Estes / Carolina Nut Co. Toyota Tundra.

On Saturday, Burton hopes to put that comfort into practice as a contender in the evening's Drivin' For Linemen 200, NASCAR's first national event at the unique, 1.25-mile oval since July 2010 and the 14th Truck Series race here since 1998..

Burton has only 33 starts in his three-year NCWTS career but enough of them have come on tracks with at least some resemblance to Gateway, a relatively flat racetrack -- to give Burton a certain amount of optimism.


"Practice Thursday -- actually, driving into the racetrack that morning -- was the first time I'd ever seen Gateway," Burton said. "I managed to find some video that I watched, but it was nice to have a couple hours of practice to get warmed-up.


"The best part of the day was we just kept getting better. That's something that Jeriod (Prince, crew chief) and me and the guys have been able to continue doing -- and that's really important for keeping our program growing and improving and getting faster every weekend."


Thursday's opening two-hour practice, held in conditions that will be close to Saturday afternoon's Keystone Light Pole Qualifying session, was a real positive for Burton.


Gateway has been likened to Burton's home track, the half-mile Martinsville (Va.) Speedway. But since it's three-quarters of a mile longer, the speeds are obviously higher and setup tweaks more critical.


"Jeriod made sure we made a lot of laps on used tires," Burton said. "Doing that we were able to get a good handle on a couple things -- how the tires fell off, what we could do to adjust for that and just what it takes to be fast here.


"We made gains all day so it gave us a good baseline for qualifying and we'll really have something to tune on Saturday morning."


Burton ran 27 laps in the first two-hour practice, which was the fourth-most of the 27 drivers that took times. A lot of his runs were on older tires but on his last lap of the session Burton turned his fastest lap of the day and the third-best of the session, in 33.232 seconds, an average speed of 135.412 mph.


"That was a good effort because we had some speed in our Estes Tundra and that our adjustments were having positive results," Burton said. "We're looking forward to Saturday, for sure."


In the second two-hour session Burton ran 36 laps and turned his fastest, 33.445 seconds, midway through the practice on his 21st lap. He ended the session running three to four laps in close contact with Kyle Busch Motorsports' highly-regarded teenager Erik Jones, who was unable to pull away from Burton in that run. 


Saturday's schedule opens with a 90-minute final practice, from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. ET, with no TV scheduled. A one-hour public NASCAR Camping World Truck Series driver autograph session -- which will include Burton -- is scheduled from 2:15-3:15 p.m., in the infield with access to the public

Then, the Truck Series' fourth elimination-style, three-session Keystone Light Pole Qualifying event of the season goes green at 5:10 p.m. ET to set the starting lineup of up to 36 trucks. Live coverage is scheduled on FOX Sports 2 and Burton will be trying to extend his string of making the "pole round" in all three sessions held to date.
Thorsport PR

The National Hot Rod Association Thunder Valley Nationals at Bristol Dragway wasn’t the only racing in Northeast Tennessee over the Father’s Day weekend, as Kingsport Speedway held its weekly NASCAR Whelen All-American Series racing program Friday.

Mother Nature threatened to wash out the night’s activities just after qualifying was finished, but following a brief shower and then the track drying process, racing finally got underway in the Model City.
Chad Finchum of Knoxville, roared into the lead off a lap 45 restart and once out front never looked back en route to conquering “The Concrete Jungle” for his third Wallace Kia Late Model Stock victory of the season.
Finchum set fast-time at 15.254 seconds, but following the roll of the dice the top five from qualifying were inverted for start of the 60-lap main event.
Kres VanDyke, winner of three features this season and currently leading the Late Model Stock points chase, led the 19-car field to the green flag from the pole position, with Ronnie McCarty starting from outside of the front row.
VanDyke grabbed the lead at the start over McCarty, Ryan Stiltner, Zeke Shell and Finchum. Finchum got around Shell for the fourth spot on lap 3 as they raced off (turn) two, and he battled with Stiltner for the next five circuits before passing him to move into third in the running order.
Lee Tissot, who qualified seventh-quickest but was relegated to having start at the rear of the field after coming up light at the scales, cracked the top-10 after passing Greg Bohanon Jr. on lap 11. The event’s first caution waved on lap 13, when Wayne Hale slowed to a stop on the high-side between turns three and four.
VanDyke and McCarty were on the front row for the double-file restart, with Finchum and Stiltner in the second row. VanDyke powered into the lead, while Finchum stayed glued to the leader’s rear bumper to take over the second spot, with McCarty, Stiltner and Shell following in the running order.
Just seven laps back under green, by lap 20 VanDyke and Finchum had pulled away to almost a half-straightaway advantage over McCarty, Shell and Stiltner. With the race reaching the halfway point at lap 30, Finchum was sticking his nose up underneath VanDyke on both ends of the track as they raced off the corners. But VanDyke would maintain his grip on the lead lap-after-lap.
Finchum finally was able to get alongside VanDyke to challenge for the lead on lap 32, and the duo raced side-by-side over the next 10 circuits before caution waved when Shell got into the back of McCarty racing into the first turn on lap 42, spinning McCarty. With track rules dictating if you run over a driver from behind and the caution waves, both McCarty (for spinning) and Shell (for contact) had to restart as the last two cars running on the lead lap.
VanDyke and Finchum resumed their battle up front for the lead, but the green (flag) racing period would only be for three circuits before the caution waved when McCarty spun in the fourth turn on lap 45.
Off the ensuing restart, VanDyke and Finchum raced door-to-door down the front straightaway into the first turn, with Finchum taking the lead racing off turn two. VanDyke was up-on-the-wheel trying to get back to Finchum’s rear bumper over the final 15 laps, but Finchum continued to hit his marks all around the .375-mile banked concrete oval on his march to win number three on the season.
Finchum’s slim margin of victory over VanDyke was 0.833 seconds, with Shell, Tissot and Kyle Barnes rounding out the top five. Finchum entered the night’s racing fourth in points, but will move past both
Completing the top 10 finishers were Bruce Blessing, Bohanon, Justin Fontaine, Joey Trent and Phil Harris.
Entering the night’s racing, VanDyke led Stiltner, Shell and Finchum in the Late Model Stock point standings. But following the race, VanDyke still remains atop the leaderboard, while Finchum leaps from fourth to second, followed by Shell and Stiltner.
Rob Austin sped out to the early lead in the Street Stock feature over Royce Peters and Chris Tunnell. But fast qualifier (15.858 seconds) Nick Cole, who started fifth following the invert, passed Tunnell to move into third on lap 3, and the next circuit he got around Peters for second.
On lap 8 between turns one and two, Cole powered past Austin to take a lead he would never relinquish. In capturing his second straight victory, Bristol’s Cole was chased to the checkered flag by Austin, Peters, Tunnell and Jared Broadbent.
Tim Abelseth jumped out to the lead at start of the 20-lap Pure 4 feature, while behind him racing action was two- and three-wide among the Ketron family (Billy and Jason, and their father John), Keith Helton, Brandon Sutherland and Kenny Absher. Just seven laps in, Sutherland and Absher tangled between turns one and two, with both cars hitting the outside concrete wall to end their races prematurely as they had to be towed back into the pits.
Off the ensuing double-file restart, Abelseth appeared to possibly miss a shift coming up through the gears and quickly was overtaken for position by Billy Ketron, Helton, John Ketron and Jason Ketron. Helton, from Kingsport, got around Billy Ketron for the lead on lap 14 racing off the fourth turn and would go on to capture his third win of the season over John Ketron, Billy Ketron, Jason Ketron and Chris Neeley.
Kirby Gobble of Abingdon, Va., and Rocky Yates raced side-by-side for six laps midway through the 20-lap Mod 4 feature before Gobble moved into the lead on lap 14. Once out front Gobble went on to capture his division-leading fourth victory over Yates, Billy Duty, Dennis Arnold and Chris Amburgey.
Having grown up attending stock car racing with his late father, Craig Phelps of Kingsport hoped someday to get behind the wheel of a race car. With no previous racing background entering the 2014 racing season to his credit, Phelps enrolled in Racing 101 to gain experience on the job. The 32-year-old Phelps proved to be good student and in just his eighth start, he parked in victory lane to celebrate his first-ever Rookie Pure 4 win over Michael “Mook” Jeter, James Deese, William Hale and Rusty Clendenin.
Trey Lane of Kingsport recorded his second Legends victory over Derek Lane, Jerry Lane, Hayden Ottinger and Hannah Ottinger.
Kingsport Speedway PR

Ben Rhodes is making it look easy, even when it isn't.

The 17-year-old NASCAR Next driver from Louisville, Kentucky, charged to the lead on Lap 134 restart and went on the win the Pensacola 150 in NASCAR K&N Pro Series East action on Friday night at Five Flags Speedway.

The win was the third straight and fourth in five races for Rhodes, who is in his first full season of series competition. Rhodes, whose other finish during this stretch was a second, extended his championship points lead to 55 over second-place Gray Gaulding after eight of 16 races.

While he led all 150 laps in winning at North Carolina’s Bowman Gray Stadium last time out, he needed to work harder in his first visit to the Florida half-mile.

After leading at the halfway point Friday, Rhodes surrendered the top spot to Cameron Hayley and fell to fourth. A late caution, however, gave him another shot and he made the bold move to the front past Gaulding and Hayley to claim the victory.

Brandon Jones took second from Hayley in the final laps and crossed the line .985 of a second behind Rhodes.

Hayley settled for third followed by Kenzie Ruston in fourth, who rallied from a lap down. Gaulding, who earlier in the day won his second career 21 Means 21 presented by Coors Brewing Company Pole Award, finished fifth after leading a race-high 80 laps. He immediately left for the airport to run Saturday’s NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Illinois’ Gateway Motorsports Park.

Jesse Little came home in sixth followed Rev Racing teammates Jay Beasley and Sergio Pena, Ronnie Bassett Jr. and Austin Hill.


The Detroit Lions’ first-round draft pick Eric Ebron is the grand marshal and Quicken Loans chief executive officer Bill Emerson will serve as the honorary starter for Sunday’s Quicken Loans 400 at Michigan International Speedway.

The rookie tight end will give the command of “Start your engines!” when the race gets under way at 1:07 p.m. p.m. at the track. The Quicken Loans 400 will be broadcast live on TNT.

“I am excited,” Ebron said. “I’ve never been to a race before, and being new to the city of Detroit and the state of Michigan, it’s an honor. I know NASCAR has a lot of ties to North Carolina, so I’m proud to represent my hometown of Greensboro, my university and the Detroit Lions.”

Ebron was the first-round draft pick (10th overall) of the Lions in the 2014 NFL Draft. The North Carolina product caught 112 career passes for 1,805 yards and eight touchdowns for the Tar Heels. The Lions project the athletic tight end to step right in as a starter and serve as another valuable addition to its offensive unit this upcoming season.

The rookie holds school tight end records for single-season receptions, single-season receiving yards, career receptions and career receiving yards as a junior at North Carolina. His 895 receiving yards in 2013 are an ACC record for a tight end, besting the mark of 871 set by Maryland’s Vernon Davis in 2005.

As chief executive officer, Emerson is responsible for the leadership and growth of Quicken Loans, the nation’s second largest retail mortgage lender and largest VA mortgage provider. Dedicated to his community, Emerson has been the recipient of the ALS Association’s Iron Horse Award and the Salvation Army’s prestigious William Booth Award, the non-profit’s highest honor.  He also supports the Alzheimer’s Association Greater Michigan Chapter.


Pocono Raceway announced today their inaugural “Show Us Yer Bass” photo contest. Participants, in this photo submission contest, will set a ticket discount for all race fans to enjoy for the 400 and will compete for Grand Prizes. The contest, which also includes a kids’ portion, will run from Saturday, June 14 through Friday, July 25.

Grand Prizes, which will include tickets to the 400, will be awarded to the individuals who submit a photo with the longest largemouth, smallmouth and striped bass. Additionally, there is a kid’s prize giveaway for the child, ages 12 and under, who catches the longest bass, across all species. Those wishing to participate can do so by visiting Additionally, all are encouraged to read all the rules carefully before submitting any photo.

In partnership with the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission, here a few tips regarding this year’s bass fishing season and the “Show Us Yer Bass” contest. Please consider catch and release of your fish.  Some tips for successful catch and release of fish include: using barbless hooks, playing your fish quickly, using a landing net and wetting your hands before handling the fish.  Remember to buy a Pennsylvania fishing license, as contest rules include being properly licensed. Go to to purchase a license online or to view a list of over 900 licensing agents statewide.  If you’re looking for productive places to fish for bass, stop by for a listing of some of the best fishing waters, as selected by Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission’s Fisheries Biologists. 

Pocono Raceway PR

Team Stange Racing, LLC announced today the launch of “THE RACE TO THE CUP”. The Race to the Cup is a premiere Driver Development Program developed around “Stock Car” racing for the Serious race car driver that is passionate about a career in motorsports particularly stock car racing with ambitions of racing in the NASCAR series.

The Program is 3 Step, 3 to 4 year process that will assist the driver in all the moving parts of being a professional race car driver from driver coaching and car diagnostics to sponsor acquisition and self-promotion, Driver Brand Building and most importantly the proper planning. The Levels of the program start in the ARCA series and move through a ladder system of competing in The Camping World Truck Series, Nationwide series and eventually the goal of Sprint cup. “The Race to the Cup will cover everything that a driver needs to do to make it to the NASCAR level through this very personalized program” stated Ashley Stange, Team Stange Racing, LLC Co-Owner. “We will assist the driver in making themselves marketable and promotable to sponsors and fans as well as providing them with the right driver coach to help them sharpen their driving skills to learning how to diagnose and set up a race car as well as how to communicate with their crew and team along with the so many little detailed things that go into being a race car driver with goals of moving forward” stated John Stange, Jr. Team Stange Racing, LLC Co-Owner.

The Race to the Cup is set out to achieve much possible success with the goal of landing a driver in a competitive seat in the premier level of NASCAR racing both mentally and physically prepared as possible and as a Major Brand of their own. This program is tailored around each individual driver and their goals.

Team Stange Racing, LLC will prepare, test and race cars in the ARCA step of the program, Teams in the Camping World Truck Series and Nationwide Series will be chosen based on the driver and what is best suited for their needs.

For More information and Enrollment Costs for this tailored Driver Development Program please visit our website at: or contact us @ This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Team Stange PR

Dow GREAT STUFFTM is closing the Gap with the No. 3 Richard Childress Racing (RCR) Driver, Austin Dillon. Yesterday, Dow unveiled the paint scheme that will run under the lights at this year's Bristol race. This paint scheme supports the Dow GREAT STUFFTM "Gaps and Tracks" Sweepstakes that launched June 1, 2014 and will run through July 31, 2014. The sweepstakes offers numerous ways to "close the gap" and be in victory lane. The grand prize recipient will win a trip to Bristol, Tenn. on August 23 to meet Austin Dillon, and be an honorary pit crew member during the race.


To enter, fans must purchase a can of GREAT STUFF™ online or at a local home improvement store and enter the product code at www.greatstuffsweepstakes.com1. One winner will be randomly chosen and announced in early August. In addition, contractors and do-it-yourselfers (DIYs) have a chance to "show us their STUFF" and be automatically entered to win autographed merchandise simply by posting photos on Twitter showing how they use GREAT STUFF™ and including the hashtag #ClosingTheGap."


Austin Dillon has always been well known in the social media realm. Recently, however, he has set the Twitterverse on fire with his #Allin Challenges. These weekly challenges give fans the chance to show Austin how they are "all in" with No. 3! In June and July, Austin will challenge followers to share how they go #Allin by #ClosingtheGap.


"We're proud to partner with RCR and to support Austin Dillon, a proven champion," said Tim Lacey, Dow Building Solutions Business Director. "This winning team is performance based and results driven-values Dow and our employees share."


On August 23 in Bristol, Tenn., Dillon will be thundering around the "World's Fastest Half Mile" in the Dow GREAT STUFF™ No. 3 car - looking to close the gap on his competition and secure the win. Just like Dillon and his crew, contractors and DIYs can rely on Dow GREAT STUFF™ Insulating Foam Sealants to close the gaps in their homes, ultimately winning the race to improve home comfort, energy efficiency and lower utility bills.


Just like the half-mile track at Bristol, the average mid-size U.S. home has a staggering half mile of gaps and cracks where air, dust and allergens can enter, making homes drafty and uncomfortable and driving up energy costs. "Dow is committed to providing air sealing solutions designed to help DIYs and contractors seal those gaps and cracks and improve the comfort and energy efficiency of their homes quickly, easily and inexpensively," added Lacey.


Learn more about Dow's "Gaps and Tracks" sweepstakes at and tune in to ABC on August 23 to see Austin Dillon "close the gap."



Hometown Team, Hometown Sponsors Head To Gateway: For the first time since 2010, the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series will race at Gateway Motorsports Park.  This return is especially gratifying for MB Motorsports, St. Louis’ hometown NCWTS team, whose sponsors are all based within the region.

“We are extremely excited to be back at Gateway” says team owner Mike Mittler.  “Curtis Francois and his team have done a tremendous job with the facility and getting NASCAR to return.  Everybody talks about how Charlotte is the home track for most teams, well, Gateway is our home track, so we couldn’t be happier.”

Driver Justin Jennings, a native of LaGrange, MO, is excited to have the opportunity to race at Gateway Motorsports Park.  “Growing up this was the closest NASCAR track to home, so going there was a big deal.  Now to have a chance to race there is very cool.  The fact that all our sponsors are from this region just makes it even better.”

Adds Mittler, “All of our sponsors have people coming to this race. LG SEEDS is sending a bus full of people.  Ski Soda / Excel Bottling, which is based in nearby Breese, IL has a group joining us.  We’ve got a brand new marketing partner in Homeyer Precision Manufacturing, which is based only about an hour from the track.  And of course, we’ve got lots of employees and friends from Mittler Brothers Machine & Tool joining us as well.  Saturday night is going to be great event for our team and our partners.”

Jennings, who currently sits 15th in NCWTS Driver’s Points, says the MB Motorsports crew has been working hard to prepare the Mittler Brothers Machine & Tool / LG SEEDS Chevy Silverado. “You work super hard getting ready for each race, but when that race is at your hometown track, in front of friends and family and all your sponsors, I think everybody works a little harder.”

MB Motorsports will once again be supporting Eagle Rock Camp, a faith-based, holistic sports camp where military families learn to re-connect and re-integrate. Their secluded setting, free of the distractions daily life, allows warriors with both invisible and physical wounds to re-learn old and learn new sports skills.  “Lynn Miller and everyone involved with Eagle Rock Camp do a great job supporting our military personnel who have given so much for our country,” notes Mittler.

MB Motorsports PR


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