Wednesday, Jun 29
Speedway Digest Staff

Speedway Digest Staff

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Race Highlights:

  • Richard Childress Racing teammates finished third (Paul Menard), 10th (Brian Scott) and 20th (Austin Dillon).
  • Dillon is fourth in the Nationwide Series driver championship point standings, trailing leader Regan Smith by 67 markers, while Scott is sixth in the standings, 80 points behind Smith.
  • The No. 3 Chevrolet team ranks sixth in the Nationwide Series owner championship point standings, with the No. 2 team eighth in the standings and the No. 33 team ninth.
  • According to NASCAR's Post Race Loop Data Statistics, Menard led the field in Green Flag Speed (185.914 mph), had the second-highest Driver Rating (119.0), was the second-Fastest Driver Early in a Run (186.156), second-Fastest Driver Late in a Run (185.699) and ranked fourth in the Closers category, gaining three positions in the last 10 percent of the race.
  • Scott ranked second in Green Flag Passes (67) and was the third-Fastest Driver on Restarts (179.708 mph).
  • Dillon led the field in Laps Led with 61 (48.8 percent of the race), maintained the best Driver Rating (120.2) and posted the Fastest Lap for 18 circuits (second-most among the field).
  • Regan Smith earned his second victory of the 2013 Nationwide Series season and was followed to the finish line by Kyle Larson, Menard, Kyle Busch and Trevor Bayne.
  • The next Nationwide Series race is the Johnsonville 200 presented by Menards at Road America on Saturday, June 22. The 14th race of the 2013 season is scheduled to be televised live on ESPN beginning at 5 p.m. Eastern Time and broadcast live on the Motor Racing Network and Sirius XM NASCAR Satellite Radio.

 

   

Brian Scott Finishes 10th at Michigan International Speedway

 

Brian Scott and the No. 2 crew battled from two left-rear flat tires in the Alliance Truck Parts 250 NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Michigan International Speedway to earn their seventh top-10 finish of 2013. Scott started in the third spot, with Richard Childress Racing sweeping the top three spots in qualifying. Action immediately got interesting for the Boise, Idaho native as Scott suffered left-rear damage when he was involved in a multi-car incident on lap two. He brought his Chevrolet Camaro to the attention of the crew, who fixed the damage and added four fresh tires. As the field set up for a lengthy green-flag run, Scott turned lap times as fast as the leaders and climbed through the field to the 11th spot. Crew chief Phil Gould called Scott to pit road for routine service and once green-flag stops cycled through, he was shown 10th. Laps continued to tick away and Scott was solidly inside the top-10 until the left-rear tire went down for the second time of the day, causing damage to the left-rear quarter panel. The No. 2 team made several stops under the caution period to fix damage. When green-flag waved for the restart, Scott posted competitive lap times and battled just outside the top-10, ultimately finishing in the 10th spot. With his seventh top-10 of 2013, Scott moved up to the sixth position in Nationwide Series driver championship standings.  

 

Start - 3                       Finish - 10                   Laps Led - 0                       Points - 6th

 

BRIAN SCOTT QUOTE:

"It was a tough race, the No. 99 got into us on the first lap and caused damage to our Shore Lodge Camaro. We didn't get it fixed the way we needed and the fender continued to rub causing another flat tire, which caused more damage. We just fought all day trying to repair the car and to get it to run fast, even with damage we felt we had a top five car. But, we still got a top-10 after what was a pretty terrible day as far as luck goes. We'll take it and move on to our first road course of the season."

 

 

Austin Dillon Sets NASCAR Nationwide Series Pole Award Record, Leads Laps at Michigan International Speedway Before Late-Race Issue Causes 20th-Place Finish

 

Austin Dillon earned his fourth-consecutive Pole Award in the NASCAR Nationwide Series, setting an all-time series record, but ultimately posted a 20th-place finish in the No. 3 AdvoCare Chevrolet at Michigan International Speedway after cutting a tire in the closing laps of the Alliance Truck Parts 250. Dillon led the 39-car starting field to the green flag and showed the way for the first half of the race until the caution flag was displayed for a debris on lap 65. Several teams pitted under the yellow flag, but the No. 3 team followed a different pit strategy and stayed out during the caution period. Leading the field to the restart on lap 68, Dillon immediately dropped to seventh in the running order and reported that a left-rear tire was flat on the black No. 3 Chevrolet, forcing an unscheduled green-flag pit stop for four tires and fuel. The pit stop caused Dillon to fall one lap down to the race leader, in the 16th position. Dillon raced his way into position to earn the "Lucky Dog" when the caution flag was displayed on lap 99 and rejoined the lead lap in 14th. He pitted for four tires, fuel and a track bar adjustment before green-flag racing resumed with 23 laps of competition remaining. During the closing laps, Dillon posted the fastest lap times of the field and raced his way up to ninth before contact with another car caused him to cut a right-front tire, necessitating a second unscheduled green-flag pit stop. The No. 3 AdvoCare pit crew changed four tires under green flag conditions and Dillon rejoined the field to post a 20th-place finish.

 

Start - 1                  Finish - 20                 Laps Led - 61                  Points - 4th                
          

 

AUSTIN DILLON QUOTE: 
"Wow. It was a frustrating day. I'm very proud of my guys on the No. 3 AdvoCare Chevrolet team. They did a great job. There's nothing you can do about a flat tire. Hopefully our luck will change soon enough."

 

 

   

 Menard Captures Third-Place Finish in NASCAR Nationwide Series Race at Michigan International Speedway

 

Making his first NASCAR Nationwide Series start of the season, Paul Menard had one of the fastest cars on the track all day, driving the No. 33 Rheem/Menards Chevrolet to a third-place finish at Michigan International Speedway on Saturday. Qualifying on the outside pole earlier in the day, Menard slipped back several positions during two early caution periods on laps two and eight while he battled with a tight-handling car. Although he was tight in traffic, Menard posted lap times faster than the leader and worked his way up to second at lap 58. After a lap 65 caution period, Menard made slight contact with another competitor on the ensuing restart, causing damage to the right-rear quarter panel of the No. 33 machine. A lap 81 caution flag allowed crew chief Ernie Cope to call his driver down pit road for repairs to the quarter panel, four fresh tires, fuel and a track bar adjustment. After a lengthy pit stop, Menard restarted in 10th with 40 laps to go. It didn't take long for Menard to make his way back toward the front of the field, as the Eau Claire, Wis., native was scored in fourth at lap 107. Just two laps later, Menard was tagged from behind while making a pass for third, causing him to fall to seventh with 15 laps remaining in the 125-lap event. Driving the fastest car on the track, Menard worked his way to third before the checkered flag flew at Michigan International Speedway.

 

Start - 2                Finish - 3                 Laps Led - 0                Owners Points - 9th

 

PAUL MENARD QUOTE:

"We had an awesome Rheem/Menards Chevrolet Camaro at Michigan International Speedway. We passed a lot of cars today. We seemed to fall back a little on the restarts, but it didn't take long for us to make up ground on the leaders with how fast our car ran all day. I felt like we had the car to beat and if we had a few more laps, I think we would have been in contention for the win. I enjoyed getting back in the Nationwide car and we'll take a third-place finish. I can't thank Ernie (Cope, crew chief) and the whole team enough for all of their hard work today. I had a lot of fun and I'm looking forward to our next Nationwide (Series) race later in the season."

 

RCR PR

Bringing home a fourth-place finish, Camry driver Kyle Busch was the first Toyota to cross the stripe in Saturday afternoon's NASCAR Nationwide Series (NNS) race at Michigan International Speedway. It was the Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) No. 54 Monster Energy team’s 10th top-five finish in 13 starts this year.

Busch started the day with a qualifying lap of 188.862mph that placed him 14th, in row seven, to begin the Alliance Truck Parts 250 event. The field was set to complete 125 laps around the two-mile paved oval, a track surface that was repaved last year and would prove difficult for some drivers to maneuver, including Busch who had not seen victory lane there in the NNS since 2004. In addition to the resurfaced track, threatening rain was also on the minds of teams, who kept an eye on the radar.

Upon taking the green flag, Busch quickly started to make progress towards the front of the pack, until two early caution-flag periods occurred. It was during this time Busch informed his team the car’s handling wasn’t as he wanted, describing that he couldn’t ‘feel the rear of the car well.’ They talked about air and track temperatures and how those differed from earlier on-track qualifying and practice sessions. Busch explained, “I feel like I’m making gains but don’t see it.”

The team pitted once under green-flag conditions on lap 40 to provide fuel, tires and chassis adjustments to the No. 54, then again on laps 65 and 82, both under caution periods, for on-track incidents. Further car adjustments were made during those stops, but Busch never felt completely comfortable and anxiously told his team, “Everything we are doing is making it looser. I can’t keep up with them!” The team worked their way as high as fourth place by lap 80, fell back to sixth, then climbed back into the fourth position where they landed for the day.

Crew chief Adam Stevens described today’s event, “It took a while to make some progress, but we did eventually get the car better for Kyle.  We just weren't going to make it any better on pit road.  I really felt like if we could have had a good restart on the last restart that we were in the catbird seat, but the last two restarts just didn't go our way.  I felt like we had the car balances good and we were going to get it, but we were just missing something with overall speed -- kind of missing it in qualifying and missed it today in the race too.  All in all, we finished and we don't have a scratch on it so we'll take it."

The No. 54 Monster Energy team owned by J.D. Gibbs maintains first place in the Owner’s Point standings, now leading the No. 7 of Kelley Earnhardt-Miller by 29 points.

Regan Smith in the No. 7 won the event, followed by Kyle Larson, Paul Menard, Busch and Trevor Bayne. Busch's fellow Camry drivers and Joe Gibbs Racing teammates Elliott Sadler and Brian Vickers finished eighth and 33rd, respectively. There were five caution periods for 23 laps of the race along with five lead changes across five drivers.

The NASCAR Nationwide Series competes again on June 22 in the Johnsonville Sausage 200 at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisc., with television broadcast starting at 5p.m. EST. Road course racer Owen Kelly of Australia will make his first of two starts behind the wheel of the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 54 Monster Energy Camry, the second being at the inaugural Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course NNS event on Aug. 17.

KBM/JGR PR

Looking to bring his Turner Scott Motorsports team some good news to end a rough week, Sunoco Rookie of the Year contender Kyle Larson worked his way through the field and found himself in contention for his first NASCAR Nationwide Series (NNS) victory. After battling a tight-handling Chevrolet Impala throughout much of the 125-lap race, the No. 32 Cessna crew gave Larson what he needed to vault from sixth to second on the race's last restart. With just over 10 laps to go, Larson had his sights set on the race leader but the rookie ran out of time. He brought home a second-place finish, tying his career best NNS finish, and earning his second top five in a row.

 

Making his NNS debut at the two-mile oval, Larson used the practice time on Friday to get accustomed to the high-speed Michigan International Speedway. Feeling comfortable with both the track and the car, Larson ended up seventh fastest heading into the qualifying session on Saturday morning. Larson felt that he was a little too tight during his qualifying attempt and placed the No. 32 Cessna Chevrolet in the 11th starting spot for the Alliance Truck Parts 250.

 

The green flag quickly turned to yellow, after a multi-car accident on lap one. After a second quick caution, Larson immediately went to work picking his way through the top-10 running order. On lap 15, Larson called down to his crew that his Cessna Chevy was too loose on the entry, when running in traffic, and tight coming off the corners. Crew chief Trent Owens took this into account, calling for four tires, fuel and an air-pressure adjustment to the No. 32 Camaro. As the race went on, Larson radioed back in to his crew and said that his car was still too tight and they would need to make a bigger adjustment on the next pit stop. Larson's second pit stop came under yellow on lap 65, and again he received four Goodyear Eagle tires and Sunoco fuel combined with a track-bar adjustment in an effort to loosen up the No. 32 Cessna Chevy.

 

Just past the half-way mark of the 125-lap race, the car started coming to life and Larson found himself running in the sixth position. Larson and the Cessna Chevrolet were running laps consistently one- to two-tenths quicker than the top-five running cars. On lap 80, the yellow flag was displayed once again when the front straightaway was littered with debris. Owens took the opportunity to call his driver down pit road to top the car off with fuel and make another track-bar adjustment. On the race's final restart on lap 102, Larson made a daring three-wide pass to move himself inside the top three. With just over 10 laps to go, Larson overtook the second-place car and started to run down the race leader by running quicker lap times. Unfortunately, the Rookie of the Year candidate ran out of time and what would have been an emotional victory lane ended up tying his career best NNS finish in the second spot. Larson has been on an impressive run as of late, capturing his second top-five finish in a row and his fifth consecutive top 10.

 

"I thought we had a top-five car coming into the day, but not a second-place car," said Larson. "Trent [Owens] and my Cessna guys worked hard all day to give me a great car. I wish I was able to bring home a win for these guys and our friend Jason Leffler. A lot of the guys on my team worked with Leffler in the past, and he was a friend of mine, so this second place means a lot to all of us. If we can continue the good runs we've had lately, I feel like we have a win coming our way very soon."

 

TSM PR

 

Danica Patrick will start her No. 10 Chevy 37th in Sunday's Quicken Loans 400 but she's No. 1 when it comes to drawing social-media followers to her primary sponsor.

In a poll by Synthesio, a social-media monitoring specialist, Patrick was the highest-rated celebrity endorser when it came to generating buzz for sponsor GoDaddy.

Synthesio CEO Loic Moisand told USA Today it's because she frequently mentions her sponsor on her Twitter account (@DanicaPatrick) and "she appears reachable."

"I've always tried to be very authentic with my answers or what I talk about on social media," Patrick said after practice at Michigan International Speedway. "My sponsor, Tissot's the one that said it would help sponsor my Twitter page and launch it, so I was kind of one of the first ones who was getting the sponsors involved in the social-media aspect."

As well as she performs among celebs, Patrick still was no match for the Pillsbury Doughboy, the Aflac duck or the Geico gecko. Imaginary characters, the study found, drew a much greater number of followers to sponsors than humans.

"They're not real people," she said. "I win in the people category."

 

Joel Correll, a United States Marine Corps veteran, and his 15-year son, Jarrett, who lives with cystic fibrosis, received a Father's Day surprise of a lifetime today at Michigan International Speedway. Joel and Jarrett Correll, along with Jarrett's mother, were on a VIP tour of the track - or at least that's what they thought - when Aric Almirola, "The King" Richard Petty and representatives from Operation Homefront and Victory Junction surprised the family with an experience they will not soon forget.

As part of the "tour," the family was brought to the facility's media center to listen to a press conference involving Almirola and NASCAR Hall of Famer, Petty. In the middle of the press conference, Almirola called the family to the front. The driver of the famed No. 43 announced that Eckrich, part of the John Morrell Food Group, a subsidiary of Smithfield Foods, would be providing Jarrett with a week at Victory Junction, a camp founded by the Petty family that hosts children with chronic medical conditions or serious illnesses.

 

But, the surprises weren't over yet. "The King" then offered Joel and his son Eckrich crew uniforms and asked them to be a part of the race team on Sunday as special guests of the team, Eckrich and Operation Homefront. Petty and Almirola also informed Joel and Jarrett that they would have their names on the No. 43 Eckrich Ford on Sunday to honor them and help celebrate Father's Day.  

 

This Father's Day surprise was a part of "Operation Inspiration," a campaign launched by Eckrich and Operation Homefront earlier this year to help honor, thank and support the military families who inspire their fellow Americans.

 

"This is a big surprise for us, something we didn't expect," said Jarrett after the surprise. "I love going to camp, it's a place where I can feel like myself. I never expected anyone to honor us like this, but it's pretty cool. This will be a great Father's Day.

 

"I was just nervous to be called up front," quipped father Joel. "But, it means a lot to military families to be thought of. Not just our family, but of the families that have come before us and the ones serving now. It's not something you expect, but it's something we won't forget."

 

"Today's surprise was pretty special to be a part of," said Almirola. "To be able to give back to not just our military members, but to their family members as well is an honor. Victory Junction is a fantastic facility and one that my wife (Janice) and I have spent many days giving our time helping out at. I know Jarrett will have a blast and it's great that some of the financial commitments that can be associated with camp will be provided for his family."

 

Eckrich is providing additional assistance to military families by donating up to $250,000 to Operation Homefront this year through the contribution of five cents from the purchase of specially-marked packages from May 1 through July 4.

 

"When we first heard about Victory Junction through the Petty family, we knew we wanted to help send a child from a military family there," said Chuck Gitkin, vice president, marketing, innovation and R&D for the John Morrell Food Group. "The camp has touched so many lives and inspired us, just like Joel, Jarrett and his mother have. We're honored to give them this Father's Day experience because it's well deserved for all of their sacrifice."

 

Almirola and the No. 43 Eckrich Ford will race Sunday at Michigan International Speedway. The event will be televised live by TNT and begin at 1 p.m. ET.

 

RPM PR

Trevor Bayne and the No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Fusion took the conservative route in qualifying and will start 25th in Sunday’s Quicken Loans 400 at Michigan International Speedway.

Bayne improved on his top practice speed of 197.466 miles per hour when he took his turn at qualifying. Once he posted a speed of 198.429 mph on his first lap, assuring him of a starting spot, he coasted back to the garage, saving his car for when he needs it most – after the green flag drops on Sunday.

“We only ran one lap because we didn’t want to get the engine too hot,” team co-owner Len Wood said. “We were being careful because we knew we were in the race at that point.”

With 44 drivers entered for 43 starting spots, Bayne and the Motorcraft/Quick Lane crew had to outrun only one in qualifying to be assured of a starting spot. With the No. 44 car running just 184.393 mph before Bayne made his qualifying run, the pressure was off, as long as there were no issues on the qualifying lap.

“We know we have a good car for Sunday, so we wanted to be conservative,” Wood said.

Bayne and the Motorcraft/Quick Lane crew were thinking race strategy even as they prepared for Friday’s qualifying session. They spent a significant portion of Friday’s practice session scuffing tires for Sunday’s race, as scuffed tires are an advantage on relatively new, fast asphalt like that at Michigan.

Wood also pointed out that the Wood Brothers Motorcraft/Quick Lane team, which will make its 86th career start at Michigan on Sunday, should be able to capitalize on the track time and experience gained in a recent test session at the home track of the team’s long-time backer, Ford Motor Company.

“We spent the whole test working on race set-ups,” he said, adding that the team is looking for a strong run from the 2013 Ford Fusion it brought to Michigan, a chassis that will be run for the first time this season. “With these new Gen-6 cars, the speeds are up, and the Michigan asphalt is starting to get a little abrasive, so it ought to be a good race.”

The Quicken Loans 400 is set to get the green flag just after 1 p.m. on Sunday with TV coverage on TNT.

Wood Brothers Racing PR

NEMCO-JRR Motorsports is happy to announce that Belle Tire Distributors, Inc., headquartered locally in Allen Park, Michigan, will be the primary partner on the #87 for both the NASCAR races at MIS over this Father’s Day weekend.  Family owned, Belle Tire is a company built on proving their customers with exceptional service and the Lowest Tire Price, Period!    The #87 Belle Tire Toyota will sport Belle Tire’s famous Tireman logo along with the company’s traditional red, white and blue colors.

“We are thrilled to announce that Belle Tire is partnering with us for the races this weekend at Michigan International Speedway.  To have the support of such a respected, local company like this is just awesome.  We are proud to have their colors on the cars and look forward to having a great weekend of racing thanks to Belle Tire,” said Jay Robinson, NEMCO-JRR Motorsports.

Joe Nemechek added, “It’s really nice to have a company like Belle Tire that has such a strong family history and local connection to partner with over these special Father’s Day weekend NASCAR races.  I am a proud Father myself and I couldn’t have asked for a better company partner to have here in Michigan.  The #87Belle Tire Toyota looks great and I hope to have some good runs in both the Nationwide and Sprint Cup Races.” 

NEMCO PR

Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) releases the following statement from Owner Joe Gibbs in response to the recent comments made by driver Brad Keselowski:

“We were surprised to read the recent comments and accusations made by Brad Keselowski. Clearly those comments are misguided and irresponsible. Brad’s candor is well documented, but he would do well to only speak to subjects on which he is properly informed.

 

“Obviously NASCAR is a very competitive environment and we take our hiring processes seriously at JGR. The individual he referenced in his comments was working outside of the sport of NASCAR at the time we hired him.

 

“We have a great deal of respect for Roger Penske and his organization and I feel like I have always had a good personal relationship with Roger. We look forward to competing with Brad on the racetrack, but hope that he will use better judgment in the future before making such misinformed claims and accusations.”

 

JGR PR

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