Saturday, Jul 02
Speedway Digest Staff

Speedway Digest Staff

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Race Highlights:

  • Richard Childress Racing teammates finished 10th (Kevin Harvick), 14th (Paul Menard) and 31st (Jeff Burton) in the Save Mart 350.
  • Following the event at Sonoma Raceway, Harvick remains fourth in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver championship point standings, trailing leader Jimmie Johnson by 63 markers, while Menard ranks 12th, 128 points back, and Burton sits 20th, 170 points out of the top position.
  • The No. 29 Chevrolet SS team ranks fourth in the Sprint Cup Series owner championship point standings, with the No. 27 team 12th and the No. 31 team 22nd.
  • According to NASCAR's Post-Race Loop-Data Statistics, Harvick completed 21 passes while running in the top 15, ranking him sixth in Quality Passes.
  • Harvick was the ninth-Fastest Driver Late In a Run and posted the 10th-Fastest Speed in Traffic.
  • Menard made 45 Green-Flag passes during the 110-lap road course race.
  • Menard's 14th-place finish marks his eighth top-15 effort of the season.
  • Burton made 38 green-flag passes during the annual road-course event at Sonoma.
  • Burton passed four competitors through the final 11 laps, ranking him third in the Closers category.
  • Martin Truex Jr. earned his first victory of the 2013 Sprint Cup Series season and was followed to the finish line by Jeff Gordon, Carl Edwards, Kurt Busch and Clint Bowyer.
  • The next Sprint Cup Series race is the Quaker State 400 presented by Advance Auto Parts at Kentucky Speedway on Saturday, June 29. The 17th race of the 2013 season is scheduled to be televised live on TNT beginning at 6:30 p.m. Eastern Time and broadcast live on the Performance Racing Network and SiriusXM NASCAR Satellite Radio.

 

2011 CC Team Icon 27 NSCS Menards

Menard Earns 14th-Place Finish at Sonoma Raceway

 

Paul Menard started the No. 27 Moen/Menards Chevrolet from the 16th position and battled handling issues throughout the 110-lap event at Sonoma Raceway, earning a 14th - place finish on Sunday. In the early laps of the event, Menard slipped back to the 20th position and relayed to the crew that the No. 27 machine was lacking rear grip. The "Slugger" Labbe-led pit crew made air pressure and track bar adjustments during the initial stop of the race on lap 25 in an attempt to increase rear grip. Just seven laps later, Menard pitted again under caution, this time for gas only setting the team up for a possible fuel strategy advantage later in the race. Restarting in 25th on lap 33, The Eau Claire, Wis., native methodically made his way toward the front of the field and was scored in 17th at lap 61. Unfortunately, the caution flags did not fall in favor of the team and Menard was off pit sequence from the majority of the front runners. The Richard Childress Racing driver ran as high as seventh before having to pit one final time for fuel on lap 83. With the leaders able to stay out, Menard restarted 22nd on lap 85. With the handling problems improving on the No. 27 Chevrolet, Menard was able to gain eight positions in the remaining 25 laps to cross the line 14th, his best finishing effort to date at the Sonoma, Calif., track. Menard now sits in the 12th spot in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver championship point standings heading into Kentucky Speedway next weekend.

 

Start - 16 Finish - 14 Laps Led - 0 Points - 12th

 

PAUL MENARD QUOTE:

"We struggled with handling issues early in the race with our Moen/Menards Chevrolet. The team worked hard and we were able to make some gains throughout the race with adjustments. The cautions didn't fall in our favor and we got caught off pit sequence from the leader. All in all, we'll take a top-15 finish at Sonoma Raceway and call it a decent day."

 

 

Harvick and the No. 29 Rheem Team Utilize Pit Strategy to Finish 10th

at Sonoma Raceway

 

Kevin Harvick and the No. 29 Rheem team picked up their sixth-consecutive top-10 finish Sunday afternoon after utilizing pit strategy to collect a 10th-place result at Sonoma Raceway. The California native started the 110-lap event from the 12th position and worked his way into the top 10 by lap 31 when he brought the red and black machine down pit road for fuel, four tires and a chassis adjustment. Varying pit strategy by other teams forced Harvick to restart from the 34th position on the ensuing restart. As the race progressed, the Richard Childress Racing veteran worked his way back into the top 10 on lap 61, but once again fell victim to varying pit strategies on lap 63 when the team visited pit road for fresh tires and fuel, placing Harvick 19th when the field resumed green-flag racing. During the restart, the Rheem Chevrolet was shuffled back to the 22nd spot, but moved up to 11th on lap 83 when the team opted not to pit when several teams hit pit road. During the final laps, Harvick worked his way up to as high as sixth, before ultimately crossing the finish line 10th. Following his eighth top-10 finish of the season, Harvick remains fourth in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver championship point standings.

 

Start - 12Finish - 10Laps Led - 0Points - 4th

 

KEVIN HARVICK QUOTE:

"This wasn't the finish we were looking for today, but the Rheem team did a great job getting us into the position we needed to be at the end to collect a solid finish."

 

 

 

 

Late-Race Incident Thwarts Burton's Top-10 Effort at Sonoma Raceway

 

Jeff Burton and the No. 31 Utility Trailers Chevrolet team finished 31st at Sonoma Raceway on Sunday afternoon following a late-race incident with another competitor that spoiled a top-10 effort from the Richard Childress Racing team. Starting the 110-lap affair from the 27th position, the South Boston, Va., native wrestled with a loose-handling condition early before joining the top 15 after the first pit stop of the afternoon. As the race progressed and track conditions changed, the 45-year-old driver reported to crew chief Luke Lambert that the red, white and blue machine tightened up, especially on the sharper corners of the 11-turn road course. The No. 31 team maintained a top-15 running position for a majority of the event and, after playing a pre-determined pit strategy to success, Burton restarted in the seventh-position with 25 laps to go setting the stage for the RCR driver to bring home another top-10 finish. However, disaster struck with less than 20 laps to go when contact from another competitor in the treacherous turn 11 sent the No. 31 Chevrolet SS spinning. Burton's car suffered minimal damage in the incident, but many drivers passed Burton while he was stalled out in the middle of turn and the 21-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series winner fell back to the 36th position. After coming down pit road for fresh Goodyear tires with 14 laps to go, Burton managed to pass five competitors before the checkered flag waved and finished the race in 31st-place. Burton now sits 20th in the Sprint Cup Series driver championship point standings.

 

Start - 27 Finish - 31 Laps Led - 0 Points - 20th

 

JEFF BURTON QUOTE:

"I'm just really bummed out about what happened this afternoon. We had a top-10 finish going and it was taken away from us. What made it worse was that we fought back from mechanical issues in practice on Friday and a poor qualifying effort on Saturday. I'm proud of this team's effort and the progress we are making."
 
RCR PR
Kurt Busch didn’t win Sunday’s Sprint Cup Series event at Sonoma Raceway, but his driving performance was indeed of the highest quality, charging back from 38th place and one lap down to post a fourth-place finish at the 11-turn, 1.99-mile road circuit.
 
“An amazingly incredible performance by Kurt, I don’t know what else to say,” said team crew chief Todd Berrier.
 
The result set season team records for Furniture Row Racing -- most top-fives (4) and most top-10s (6). There are 20 races remaining in the 2013 season.
 
Busch qualified seventh and took the lead on Lap 19 of 110. He led for 15 consecutive laps before coming down pit road on Lap 35 for his first scheduled tire and fuel stop.
 
Then adversity struck the single-car, Denver, Colo.-based team.
 
Busch was cited by NASCAR for back-to-back pit-road speeding penalties. His first penalty was a pass through, and after speeding on the pass through he was ordered by NASCAR to do a pit road stop-and-go.
 
When Busch returned to action, he found himself one-lap down and in 38th-place.
 
“Yeah, we were fast, even on pit road…twice,” said Busch in jest. “I messed-up, flat-out. I didn’t hit my tachometer right and I was speeding both times. I just put myself in a position that was poor trying to get too much on pit road. But man, this Furniture Row Chevy was fast.”
 
Once Busch got back on the lead lap he was in a full-scale charge mode. When the race was restarted for the final time on Lap 85, he was positioned in 25th place. He went on to pass 21 cars in the final 25 laps, with the majority of the passes taking place at the tricky Turn 11 hairpin.
 
“I had to saddle up, pull up my boot straps and go,” stated Busch. “I gave it my all and it turned out to be a good points day. I really want to thank all these Furniture Row guys.
 
Busch gained threes spots in the driver standings – from 20th to 17th. He is 28 points out of the coveted 10position with 10 races remaining before the Chase playoff format begins.
 
The race winner was Martin Truex Jr. Rounding out the top-10 in order were: Jeff Gordon, Carl Edwards, Busch, Clint Bowyer, Kasey Kahne, Marcos Ambrose, Greg Biffle, Jimmie Johnson and Kevin Harvick.
 
The race had 10 lead changes among eight drivers and seven cautions for 19 laps.
 
The next Sprint Cup Series Race is Saturday night (June 29) at Kentucky Speedway in Sparta, Ky.
 
FRR PR

Tony Stewart was headed toward a top-10 finish in a rough-and-tumble Toyota/SaveMart 350k NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race Sunday at Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway until a run-in with Jeff Burton 18 laps from the finish. The collision in the treacherous turn 11 turned Stewart sideways and dropped him from ninth to 28th when the checkered flag waved.

“Just too many mistakes today,” said a subdued Stewart after completing all 110 laps around the 1.99-mile road course.

The finish ended a strong streak for Stewart, the driver of the No. 14 Mobil 1/Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR). He came into Sonoma with four straight top-10 finishes, including a win June 2 at Dover (Del.) International Speedway, that vaulted him from 21st in the championship standings to 10th.

Sunday’s result dropped Stewart five point positions to 15th, where he’s 20 points outside of the top-10.

The finish at Sonoma was not indicative of the effort, as the Mobil 1/Bass Pro Shops Chevy often turned laps as fast as the leaders. But with varying pit strategies playing out, the field was often jumbled. Fast racecars were sometimes mid-pack while slower cars were up front. That led to plenty of contact, as drivers attempted to make moves to either advance or defend their position or pass slower traffic.

Quick straightaways, particularly the one leading into the hairpin turn 11, send drivers deep into the corners. Drivers are hard on the brakes, and often their cars dance as they struggle for grip. That’s what happened to Stewart as he caught Burton in between the entry and center of the hairpin on lap 92. The nose of Stewart’s Chevy tagged the right-rear corner of Burton’s bumper. Stewart spun in an attempt to avoid Burton, and Burton spun due to the contact with Stewart. Both drivers lost extensive track position, and top-10 finishes vanished for both. Stewart finished 28th. Burton finished 31st.

Stewart’s SHR teammate Ryan Newman earned a better result. He brought his No. 39 Haas Automation 30th Anniversary Chevrolet SS home a respectable 15th.

Danica Patrick, driver of the No. 10 GoDaddy Chevrolet SS for SHR, had an outing similar to Stewart’s and finished 29th.

Martin Truex Jr. won the Toyota/SaveMart 350k to score his second career Sprint Cup victory, his first of the season and his first at Sonoma.

Jeff Gordon finished 8.133 seconds behind Truex in the runner-up spot, while Carl Edwards, Kurt Busch and Clint Bowyer rounded out the top-five. Kasey Kahne, Marcos Ambrose, Greg Biffle, Jimmie Johnson and Kevin Harvick comprised the remainder of the top-10.

There were seven caution periods for 19 laps, with four drivers failing to finish.

With round 16 of 36 complete, Stewart continues to lead the SHR contingent in the championship point standings. He is 15th with 433 points, 140 back of series leader Johnson and 20 points behind 10th-place Truex. Newman maintained his 18th-place standing and has 418 points, 155 out of first and 35 behind Truex. Patrick maintained her 27th-place standing and has 292 points, 281 behind Johnson and 161 away from Truex.

Ten races remain before the 12-driver, 10-race Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup begins Sept. 15 at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Ill. Only the top-10 in points are locked into the Chase. Positions 11 and 12 in the Chase are wild cards, awarded to the two drivers between 11th and 20th in points with the most wins. If multiple drivers have the same number of wins, a driver’s point standing serves as the tiebreaker.

Kasey Kahne and Stewart are the only drivers between 11th and 20th in points with a victory, so they hold the first and second wild-card spots, respectively.

Patrick, who is competing for Rookie of the Year honors against Ricky Stenhouse Jr., finished two spots behind Stenhouse, who placed 27th.

The next event on the Sprint Cup schedule is the Kentucky 400 on Saturday, June 29 at Kentucky Speedway in Sparta. The race starts at 7:30 p.m. EDT, with live coverage provided by TNT beginning with its pre-race show at 6:30 p.m.

TSC PR

Danica Patrick struggled at Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway and finished a disappointing 29th in the Toyota/SaveMart 350k NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race Sunday.

Patrick, driver of the No. 10 GoDaddy Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), went off course twice during the 110-lap race, the second coming on lap 64 when she cut a tire and hit the tire barrier in turn 10, causing moderate damage to her car.

“It was a long day – a long weekend,” Patrick said. “We just couldn’t get the car to the point where I was comfortable with it. It’s disappointing because I know the GoDaddy guys worked really hard all weekend. We just couldn’t get much to go our way this weekend. Having the cut tire and going into the tire barrier was just sort of salt in the wound. Hopefully we have a better weekend next week at Kentucky.”

Patrick’s teammate Ryan Newman, driver of the No. 39 Haas Automation 30th Anniversary Chevrolet SS, finished 15th.

The third member of SHR, Tony Stewart, driver of the No. 14 Mobil 1/Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet SS for SHR, finished 28th after late-race contact with Jeff Burton ended a chance at a top-10 finish.

Martin Truex Jr. won the Toyota/SaveMart 350k to score his second career Sprint Cup victory, his first of the season and his first at Sonoma.

Jeff Gordon finished 8.133 seconds behind Truex in the runner-up spot, while Carl Edwards, Kurt Busch and Clint Bowyer rounded out the top-five. Kasey Kahne, Marcos Ambrose, Greg Biffle, Jimmie Johnson and Kevin Harvick comprised the remainder of the top-10.

There were seven caution periods for 19 laps, with four drivers failing to finish the 110-lap race.

With round 16 of 36 complete, Stewart continues to lead the SHR contingent in the championship point standings. He dropped five spots to 15th and has 433 points, 140 back of series leader Johnson and 20 points behind 10th-place Truex. Newman maintained his 18th-place standing and has 418 points, 155 out of first and 35 behind Truex. Patrick maintained her 27th-place standing and has 292 points, 281 behind Johnson and 161 away from Truex.

Ten races remain before the 12-driver, 10-race Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup begins Sept. 15 at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Ill. Only the top-10 in points are locked into the Chase. Positions 11 and 12 in the Chase are wild cards, awarded to the two drivers between 11th and 20th in points with the most wins. In the event of multiple drivers having the same number of wins, a driver’s point standing serves as the tiebreaker.

Patrick, who is competing for Rookie of the Year honors against Ricky Stenhouse Jr., finished two behind Stenhouse, who placed 27th.

The next event on the Sprint Cup schedule is the Kentucky 400 on Saturday, June 29 at Kentucky Speedway in Sparta. The race starts at 7:30 p.m. EDT, with live coverage provided by TNT beginning with its pre-race show at 6:30 p.m.

TSC PR

Coming off a disappointing finish at Michigan Int’l Speedway, Eric McClure and the No. 14 TriStar Motorsports team headed to Road America looking to improve on last year’s 21st-place finish.  Despite qualifying 35th, the team utilized pit strategy to put themselves in a situation during the closing laps to race several cars for position.  Unfortunately, during the second attempt at a green-white-checkered finish, McClure was involved in an accident that started when another competitor tagged the No. 14 Camry from behind, sending it spinning into another car.  Although the front-end damage was severe, McClure continued around the 14-turn course, slipping to the 30th position as a result of the altercation. The Virginia native was able to advance three positions in the final two laps to post a 27th-place finish.  With this finish, the TriStar Motorsports team advanced one position to 23rdin the NASCAR Owner Standings.

Fuel strategy immediately came into play at the drop of the green flag as several cars hit pit road on lap one for service.  The Hefty®/Reynolds® Race team, however, stuck to their original game plan and visited pit road on lap eight, under green-flag conditions.  During this stop, the team changed four tires, added fuel, and made an air-pressure and slight chassis adjustment to help the car’s drivability on the right-handed turns.  When McClure returned to the track, he was scored in the 36th position.

Six laps later, the yellow flag waved once again giving the team another opportunity to service the car with fuel.  When the race resumed on lap 18, McClure was scored in the 29th position.  Despite battling a car that was snappy-loose on the right-handed turns, the Virginia native had worked his way up to the 27th position by the halfway point of the race.

When the event’s third caution flag waved on lap 29, crew chief Todd Myers called the driver into the pits where the team changed four tires, added fuel, and made another chassis adjustment to help the car’s handling in the right-handed turns.  Lined up in the 26th position for the restart, Myers again called McClure to pit road for fuel just as the race went back to green on lap 33.  Once the fuel was added, McClure returned to the track where he was scored in the 30th position.

Four laps later, the caution flag waved once again.  At first the team was going to keep the No. 14 Camry on track but as the race went back to green on lap 39, McClure gave up the 26th position and hit pit road for four tires and fuel.  Just as McClure reentered the track, the caution flag waved once again, allowing him to catch-up with the rest of the field.  When the race resumed on lap 42, the orange and blue Camry was scored in the 29th position.

As the laps began winding down, McClure reported that the car was the best it had been and, as a result, he was able to work his way up to the 24th position by lap 46.  One lap later, two cars spun in front of him and as McClure was trying to avoid the cars, he was tagged from the inside, causing minor left side damage.  Escaping without major damage, the call was made for McClure to remain on track for the overtime situation. 

When the race resumed on lap 50, another incident occurred on the track, causing the yellow flag to be displayed once again and forcing the second attempt at a green-white-checkered finish.  Lined up in the 25th position for the restart, McClure was looking to gain more positions in the final two laps.  However, when he entered turn one on the restart, he was tagged from behind and sent spinning into another competitor, resulting in severe front-end damage.  Although the 34-year-old driver was able to drive away from the scene of the accident, he slipped to the 30th position in the running order.  However, coming to the checkered flag, three cars ahead of him spun in turn 12, allowing McClure to post a 27th-place finish.

Driver, Eric McClure Quotes:

“It was a long day for us.  We ran off sequence most of the race, but we put ourselves in position to race during the last restarts.  We gained some spots on one and on the last restart we got spun out by a dark car and that cost us several positions.  It wasn’t a good day for us and one of our teammates but happy for the 44 car; they had a good day.”

TMI PR

Turner Scott Motorsports (TSM) captured its second NASCAR K&N Pro Series East (NKNPSE) victory in a row, and third overall, all coming with Dylan Kwasniewski behind the wheel of the No. 98 Royal Purple/Rockstar Energy Drink entry. Kwasniewski's teammates also had a good trip to Langley Speedway, with Dyne coming home with a top-10 finish after rebounding from an early race pit stop to finish in 8th. After finishing last in the previous race due to a tire failure, Ruston was able to work her way back through the field at Langley Speedway after a mid-race spin to finish in the 12th spot.

 

In dominating fashion, Kwasniewski took the momentum he had from the Iowa victory and wrapped up the practice sessions for the Visit Hampton VA 175 in the fourth spot. When qualifying was rained out, Kwasniewski claimed the second starting spot after the field was set by current 2013 owner points. Being patient early, Kwasniewski was running contentedly in the runner-up spot until taking the lead on lap 45 in his No. 98 Royal Purple/Rockstar Energy Drink Chevrolet. Kwasniewski would not look back as he went on to lead a race-high 132 laps en route to his third victory of 2013. Kwasniewski recaptured the series points lead with this victory at Langley Speedway.

 

"The night was awesome," exclaimed Kwasniewski. "We had some great battles early on with the guys we were chasing in the points, and I knew we had to get by them because we needed that win. My Turner Scott Motorsports car was awesome all night long. I want to thank my sponsors, Royal Purple, Rockstar Energy Drink and Curb Records for all the support. The late-race restarts were tough but I knew we had the car to beat, and we needed to stay calm and collected. I'm proud we came out with the win."

 

Looking for a rebound from the previous race at Iowa Speedway, Dyne came into Langley Speedway ready to make his first start at the 0.396-mile oval. Dyne rolled off the grid in the 15th spot and quickly reported to his crew that his car was really loose in the corners. During an early race yellow, Dyne brought his KMC Wheels Chevrolet down pit road for some chassis adjustments. Throughout the rest of the night, Dyne had masterful restarts, gaining two and three positions each time, working his way back through the field and into the top 10 for an eighth place finish. This was the first top-10 finish of the 2013 NKNPSE season for Dyne and his No. 99 TSM team.

 

"I can't thank my KMC Wheels team enough for all the effort they've been putting in this season," said Dyne. "I am happy that we were finally able to capture our first top 10. It's something that we feel has been coming for a long time, but we've been having some tough luck. I hope we can back up this finish next time out at Columbus in a couple weeks."

 

Turning some heads early in the NKNPSE season, Ruston was looking to overcome last race's tire failure. After a promising start to the night for Ruston, a spin sent her into the outside retaining wall and pit-side to repair some damage on her No. 34 AccuDoc Solutions Chevrolet. Ruston eventually worked her way back up through the field and into the top 10 for the green-white-checkered restart. The beating and banging continued on that restart and Ruston got shuffled out of the top 10, finishing in the 12th spot.

 

"It was a tough night for our AccuDoc Solutions team," explained Ruston. "My Turner Scott Motorsports team never gave up, and we rebounded from an early wreck to run inside the top-10 for most of the night only to get shuffled to 12th on the green-white-checkered. It was a one groove race track, so that meant a lot of beating and banging throughout the night. Overall, we learned a lot and will be ready to head to Columbus in July."

 

The NKNPSE will take a couple weeks off, returning to action on July 13 at Columbus Motor Speedway for the NAPA Auto Parts 150.

 

TSC PR

Turner Scott Motorsports driver Dylan Kwasniewski dominated the Visit Hampton VA 175, leading a race high 132 laps after starting in the second spot due to rain washing out qualifying and the line-up being set by owner points. Fending off challenges late in the 175-lap race, Kwasniewski stayed collected and earned the victory at Langley Speedway in his No. 98 Royal Purple/Rockstar Energy Drink Chevrolet. This marks Kwasniewski's second win in-a-row, as he was the top finishing NASCAR K&N Pro Series East (NKNPSE) driver at Iowa Speedway, and third win of 2013. Kwasniewski leaves Langley Speedway (NKNPSE points lead.

 

Kwasniewski continues to show why he became the first driver selected into the NASCAR Next program for the third consecutive time. After claiming his second victory of the 2013 season at Iowa Speedway, Kwasniewski came to the short-track of Langley Speedway with a lot of momentum. After running fourth quickest in the earlier practice sessions, Kwasniewski had his eyes set on a top-five qualifying effort. Mother Nature however had other plans as the skies opened up and washed out qualifying for the Visit Hampton VA 175. With the field being lined up by current owner points, Kwasniewski found himself starting in the second position.

 

When the green flag fell for the 175-lap race, Kwasniewski settled into the second running spot early and was making some bids for the lead. It was on lap 45 that Kwasniewski was able to make a move to the inside of the race leader coming off the fourth turn. Kwasniewski was able to make the pass and quickly jumped out to a five-car length lead. After numerous yellow flags slowed the race, Kwasniewski seemed too powerful for the rest of the field as he jumped back out to a commanding lead. Not even a late-race caution that sent the race into overtime could stop Kwasniewski from capturing his second consecutive NKNPSE win and third victory overall this season. Kwasniewski led a race high 132 laps en route to his victory, and recaptured the points lead. Kwasniewski currently has an 18-point lead over his closest competitor.

 

"The night was awesome," exclaimed Kwasniewski. "We had some great battles early on with the guys we were chasing in the points, and I knew we had to get by them because we needed that win. My Turner Scott Motorsports car was awesome all night long. I want to thank my sponsors, Royal Purple, Rockstar Energy Drink and Curb Records for all the support. The late-race restarts were tough but I knew we had the car to beat, and we needed to stay calm and collected. I'm proud we came out with the win."

 

The NKNPSE will take a couple weeks off, returning to action on July 13 at Columbus Motor Speedway for the NAPA Auto Parts 150.

 

TSC PR

Travis Pastrana and the No. 60 Roush Fenway Racing (RFR) team overcame multiple on track incidents to bring home a 16th-place finish in the Johnsonville Sausage 200 at Road America on Saturday afternoon.

“I was hoping to have more speed, considering this was my first road course and my experience from Rally,” Pastrana said.  “We started off slow and went with a very conservative strategy.  Everything was working out well.  I was up well inside the top-10 and didn’t notice the caution was out and got into trouble.  Then when we got in the back, we were in a cluster.  We got taken out by the 33 [Max Papis], but came back to 16th.  All-in-all, it was not what he hoped for, but I was very happy with the crew and I am excited to go back to another road course.”

The NASCAR Nationwide Series (NNS) traveled to Wisconsin for the first road course race of the season at the 4.05-mile track.  Teams battled rainy conditions on Friday during practice and qualified under cloudy skies on Saturday morning.

Pastrana was slated to start 19th, but after running off course on his second qualifying lap, the crew elected to change the flat spotted tires before the race started.  As this was an impound race, NASCAR deemed the tired change as unapproved, dropping Pastrana to the rear of the field for the start of the race.

At the drop of the green, Crew Chief Chad Norris put Pastrana on a different pit strategy, calling the No. 60 to pit road for fuel only on Lap 2.  Pastrana returned to the course in 40th and began to climb his way through the pack.

By Lap 7 Pastrana had worked his way up to 23rd, radioing that the handling of the car was a little too tight for his liking.  He returned to pit road on Lap 15, with the crew taking a swing at  the tight handling condition with some adjustments. On Lap 18, Pastrana restarted 14th.

The No. 60 restarted 14th on Lap 18 and continued to ride in the top-20, with Pastrana still reporting that the car was running too tight, especially in the slow speed left hand turns.  The crew took the opportunity to make more adjustments under the caution on Lap 31, putting on four fresh tires and making a wedge adjustment.

On the next run Pastrana radioed that the adjustments were working and that the No. 60 Ford Mustang felt really good.  Unfortunately the team would not get the opportunity to show just how strong the car was.  As the caution waved on Lap 40, Pastrana received some damage to the hood of his Mustang as the cars in front of him slowed more quickly than expected.

Pastrana was forced to visit pit road to fix the damage.  The team pit multiple times under the caution to make repairs, put on fresh tires and add fuel.  The remainder of the day was a battle in the back of the pack.  After the second attempt at a green, white, checker finish, Pastrana crossed the line in 16th.

AJ Allmendinger took the victory, with Justin Allgaier, Parker Kligerman, Owen Kelly and Sam Hornish Jr. rounding out the top-five.  RFR teammates Billy Johnson and Trevor Bayne finished 15th and 30th, respectively. 

RFR PR

Kyle Larson demonstrated a quick learning curve in his first ever trip to Road America, earning a seventh-place finish with his No. 32 Cottonelle Camaro in the Johnsonville Sausage 200 and gaining multiple spots in the point standings. Larson battled his way back from a mid-race spin which set him back to the 29th position, avoiding a rash of cautions and fighting to earn his sixth-consecutive top-10 finish in his road course debut.

 

In a weekend of firsts, Larson took to the 4.048-mile circuit of Road America quickly while not only encountering the first road course of his NASCAR Nationwide Series (NNS) career, but also adjusting to wet conditions as teams practiced in the rain on Goodyear wet weather radials. After finishing eighth in the final practice session, Larson set the 13th-fastest lap in Saturday morning's qualifying session.

 

Taking the green flag under dry conditions, Larson broke into the top 10 by lap six and was scored seventh as the team utilized road course pitting strategy and opted to visit pit road on lap 14 while under green. Providing their driver with four tires and fuel, the No. 32 Cottonelle team sent Larson back on the track in 19th just before the second caution flag of the event waved on lap 16. With teams ducking onto pit road under yellow, Larson was in the ninth position when green-flag racing resumed on lap 19.

 

It took only one circuit around the 4.048-mile track for Larson to battle his way into the top five, and by lap 21 he was fourth on the scoring pylon. After steadily holding onto the fourth position for 10 laps, Larson was just taking over the third position when the leader slowed to a stop on the track, bringing out a full-course caution on lap 31. Larson once again brought his Camaro to pit road, taking four tires and fuel without any adjustments. With a few cars choosing to stay on track through the caution period, Larson was sixth when the field got back up to speed on lap 34.

 

Past the halfway point, the action on the track became intense as competitors stopped playing nice and began beating and banging through the track's 14 turns. A heated battle for racetrack real estate ensued between Larson and another competitor on lap 39, causing contact which sent the other driver off course. Larson appeared to make it through the scuffle unscathed, but as he rounded Turn 12, a car was at a standstill in front of him, and to avoid hitting him, the Rookie of the Year contender locked up his brakes, causing the No. 32 to spin. Larson was able to keep his Camaro rolling but he incurred front-end damage that required an unscheduled trip to pit road. Larson's team provided him with four fresh tires and fuel while taping up the damage to the car's nose, sending him back onto the track in the 29th position for the lap 40 restart. Crew chief Trent Owens keyed his radio to speak to his driver prior to the green. "Get what you can get and race the guy in front of you; you can work your way back up."

 

In the closing caution-filled laps, Larson did as instructed, steadily gaining positions. Avoiding troubles at the front of the pack which brought out two more cautions, Larson was 10th when another yellow flag set up the field for the first of two green/white/checkered restarts. The California native avoided the melee caused by a lap-52 spin, putting him in the ninth position for the final restart of the race. When the event finally concluded on lap 55, Larson had gained two more positions in the final miles, crossing the finish line seventh.

 

"I had a lot of fun today," said Larson after the race. "For my first time on a road course, I'm very happy to walk away with a top-10 finish, especially after we spun. After I made contact with the No. 5 on lap 39, I was concentrating so hard on my mirrors and didn't notice the car stopped in front of me. I locked up my brakes and pretty much had to spin to avoid missing him. We worked really hard to repair the damage we had and we were able to avoid some of the wrecks at the front of the pack while we were working our way back up. I never would have predicted getting a top 10 my first time at a road course. This team has been really consistent lately and we're really working our way deeper into the top 10; I really feel like our season is going in the right direction right now."

 

Larson's top-10 finish launches him to seventh in the NNS Driver Point Standings. The Nationwide Series next heads to Kentucky Speedway for the Feed The Children 300. The event airs on Friday, June 29 on ESPN at 7:00 p.m. EDT.

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