Speedway Digest Staff
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Homestead-Miami Speedway, in partnership with Miami-Dade County Public Schools, has launched itsRacing to Read program for second grade students at nine South Florida schools. The initiative’s aim is to promote reading among youth. It begins this week and runs through October 26.
Racing to Read features rewards for participating students including:
§ Each student who reads a minimum 20 books will receive two tickets to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship race, the Ford EcoBoost 400, at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 18, 2012.
§ The school that reads the greatest number of books total will garner a school visit from Homestead-Miami Speedway that includes a race-driven No. 99 Carl Edwards NASCAR car.
§ The school with the highest percentage of participation in the program will receive a pizza party, compliments of Homestead-Miami Speedway. All participating students will receive raffle tickets to win exclusive items autographed by NASCAR drivers
“We are proud to offerRacing to Read in coordination with Miami-Dade County Public Schools,” said Homestead-Miami Speedway President Matthew Becherer. “Reading is clearly a key to education and, if NASCAR race tickets serve as a catalyst for children to read more, it will be a victory for everyone involved.”
“Racing to Read will offer our second grade students an additional incentive to read books that they love,” said Miami-Dade County Public Schools Administrative Director Reading/Language Arts Karen Spigler. “We in the District are excited to partner with Homestead-Miami Speedway in this exciting initiative and look forward to it continuing for years to come.”
Miami-Dade County Public Schools selected the following to participate in the inaugural year:
§ Homestead -- Air Base Elementary; Coconut Palm K-8 Center; Gateway Environmental K-8 Learning; Goulds Elementary; Redland Elementary; and Redondo Elementary
§ Cutler Bay -- Dr. Edward Whigham Elementary
§ Leisure City -- Leisure City K-8 Center;
§ Palmetto Bay – Pine Lake Elementary
Students in the program can monitor their progress, both individually and against other participating schools, online athomesteadmiamispeedway.com/racingtoread.
Homestead-Miami Speedway PR
Driver’s never forget their first NASCAR victory in the top three touring divisions. For Bobby Labonte, his took place at Bristol Motor Speedway (BMS) during the NASCAR Nationwide Series (formerly Busch Grand National Series) race on April 13, 1991. The taste of sweet victory allowed him to snatch the division’s championship that same year.
In the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, the 2000 champion has also had some shining moments at BMS and he is ready for the action-packed IRWIN Tools Night Race on Saturday. Even though the track did not make his 21-win list, he has a few strong finishes in the books. His best finish is third place (3/23/03) and he has three top-five and 10 top-10s. Labonte is focused on increasing those numbers behind the wheel of the No. 47 BUSH’s Beans Toyota Camry fielded by JTG Daugherty Racing.
“Bristol is a fan favorite and a driver’s favorite track for a lot of us,” Labonte said. “I got my first NASCAR win there and you always remember your first win. That was a pretty cool day for me.
“I’m looking forward to being there this weekend with BUSH’S Beans on the car,” Labonte continued. “It will be interesting to see how race plays out differently from last time with the changes Bruton Smith had done to the track. I hope it’s good for fans and for us. With the track being single groove, I feel like it will be a recipe for a lot of excitement. We could really use a good run Saturday night.”
It’s been a challenging year for the single-car team Labonte will admit, but he is optimistic about this weekend along with the future of the racing organization.
“We’ve had some bad luck and tough finishes, but we are working hard to improve our results,” Labonte said. “Brian Burns (interim crew chief) is doing a really good job. He’s shy on tools and people, but everything behind the scenes is coming around. We’re in reset mode.”
While hitting the reset button, JTG Daugherty Racing has the good fortune of having someone like Bobby Hutchens (general manager) steer the ship.
“Bobby Hutchens has definitely brought concrete structure we need,” Labonte said. “He is laying a simple basic foundation for us to stand on where we can then figure out what is most important to improve on. It will pay dividends and it’s something we have needed for a long time. We have minimal tools to work with, but we have a great group of guys. They go above and beyond to get everything done in the timely frame we need. We are a single-car team that started from scratch this season. We will get better.”
NASCAR fans have spoken, and Dale Earnhardt Jr. narrowly defeated Kasey Kahne in the final round of voting in the “Drive for the Cover” campaign. Earnhardt, the nine-time most popular driver, will adorn the cover of the upcomingNASCAR The Game™: Inside Line video game, scheduled to be released on Nov. 6.
“We are excited for Dale Earnhardt Jr. to be featured on the cover of the new NASCAR The Game: Inside Line,” said Blake Davidson, NASCAR vice president of licensing & consumer products. “For a campaign that was driven entirely through social media, the more than 775,000 votes cast in the “Drive for the Cover” campaign is a testament to the impact that the NASCAR industry and its fans have across these platforms.”
Activision Publishing, Inc, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Activision Blizzard Inc. (Nasdaq:ATVI) and leading independent game developer Eutechnyx will bring the true NASCAR experience to consoles on November 6. NASCAR The Game: Inside Line will allow players to race with the top NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers, teams and cars, as well as feature all 23 officially licensed NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race tracks. NASCAR The Game: Inside Line will be available on the Xbox 360® video game and entertainment system from Microsoft, the PlayStation®3 computer entertainment system and the Wii™ system from Nintendo.
Martinsville Speedway Test Session Provides First On-Track Look of NASCAR-Approved 2013 Fusion Stock Car - With Photos
Now that the 2013 NASCAR Fusion has been approved for competition next year, it’s time for the drivers and teams to see how good it can be on the track.
That means testing, testing and more testing.
During a recent on-track session at Martinsville Speedway in Martinsville, VA, a mixed crew made up of members from Roush Fenway and Wood Brothers Racing put Ford’s latest model through its paces and while the focus was on making the car go fast, much of the talk centered around how it looked.
“This is the first time I’ve driven the 2013 NASCAR Fusion and it’s great,” said Carl Edwards. “Ford has done a great job with us and at the end of the day we like fast cars and we like neat cars. That’s why I started racing and that’s why all of these guys enjoy the sport so much, so it’s really cool to walk in the garage and see such a beautiful Ford race car sitting there.”
While Edwards was turning laps around the half-mile oval, many racing observers on hand watched and smiled because it brought back memories from past decades when cars had a distinct look from one another.
“I really like it because it looks like the Fusion that’s going to be in the showroom,” said Eddie Wood, co-owner of the No. 21 Motorcraft Fusion and lifelong NASCAR competitor. “The biggest thing I like about it is it reminds me of the ’69 Cyclones and Torinos and Talladegas with the Cyclone spoilers we ran in the late sixties. It’s got the fastback roof and all that, so I’m looking forward to painting ours red and white.
“It’s a modern look, but it’s kind of got a throwback style,” continued Wood. “I think it’s got everything. I think it’s got appeal for the young people that are of age to buy cars, and I think it’s got the appeal of guys my age that have been around a while. I wish we could run it now.”
His brother, Len, felt much the same way saying, “I think it looks like the cars we used to race, the old Mercurys and Torinos and things we had back in the seventies. I’m really pleased with it because it looks like a street car. I haven’t seen a grille like that in years on a race car. I think it looks great.”
The2013 Fusion will debut in February during Speedweeks at Daytona International Speedway with its first official points race being the Daytona 500. That means crew chiefs Chad Norris and Donnie Wingo have six months to fine-tune the necessary race packages required for all of the different tracks on the NASCAR circuit and it’s something both are looking forward to because of the product.
“Anything new is always exciting and fun, and it’s always challenging to try to figure out how you’re going to make it go fast,” said Norris, who took over as Edwards’ crew chief last month. “That’s what we do as racers, so it’s always a challenge looking forward to 2013 to see how we can make this car go as fast as possible.”
“The final version is really awesome. I think it’s got great body lines on it and it looks really nice,” added Norris. “It looks really close to the production car, and overall, I think it’s really good for the fans.”
Wingo, who has served as crew chief for Trevor Bayne the past two seasons and played a key role in helping him win the 2011 Daytona 500 for the Wood Brothers, echoed Norris saying, “It looks a lot more like the street version and what the fans want to see, so I’m excited about it. I’m looking forward to 2013.”
Ford Racing PR
As the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series heads back to Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway for Saturday’s Irwin Tools Night race, Kyle Busch is facing some knowns and plenty of unknowns in the racing mecca known as “Thunder Valley.”
The obvious known is that the driver of the No. 18 Doublemint® Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) has a stellar record at the .533-mile high-banked bullring, with five Sprint Cup wins to his credit in 15 career starts there.
While his Bristol dominance has been well documented in recent years, there are plenty of unknowns that lie ahead on Saturday night. For starters, since the March 18 Food City 500, the Bristol track has undergone another round of changes. For starters, the top groove of the racing surface has been changed to eliminate the progressive banking incorporated during the previous track resurfacing project in 2007. How drastic will the changes be? That’s a huge unknown until practice commences at noon Friday.
The next unknown for the Las Vegas native is his position in the Sprint Cup standings as the 12-driver, 10-race Chase for the Sprint Cup locks in after the next three events. Busch sits 14th in the standings but is just 11 points behind Ryan Newman, who holds the second of two Chase wild card positions. Busch and Newman both have one win and another win by Busch in the next three races could essentially lock him into NASCAR’s postseason. If not, Busch will hope to have strong finishes and leapfrog Newman for the final Chase spot by virtue of a higher position in the points. Meanwhile, Busch must also keep his and Newman’s fellow single-win drivers this season –Jeff Gordon, Joey Logano, and Marcos Ambrose – behind him in the standings.
Despite the surface changes at Bristol, Busch hopes many of the same principles apply that led him to his five Sprint Cup wins there, including four in the last seven races.
While Busch is on quite a roll at the “World’s Fastest Half-Mile,” it’s interesting to note he didn’t immediately take to the place and has been able to adapt to past changes there. During his rookie year in 2005, he posted finishes of 28th and 33rd. But Busch’s record in his last 11 Bristol starts has been nothing short of amazing. After bringing home finishes of eighth and second in 2006, Busch captured his first Sprint Cup win there in March 2007. The track was resurfaced after that race and, since then, nobody has been better at the concrete short track than Busch. He added four more wins, five top-five finishes and seven top-10s in the last 10 Sprint Cup races contested there.
Those numbers are certainly impressive, and Busch’s most notable Bristol feat occurred in August 2010, when he became the first driver in history to win all three of NASCAR’s national touring series events in the same weekend. He won the Wednesday-night Camping World Truck Series race, then the Friday-night Nationwide race, and he topped it off by wheeling his No. 18 Doublemint Toyota to victory and into the history books in Saturday night’s Sprint Cup race. Busch led four times for a race-high 282 laps in the latter event, bringing his weekend total to 514 laps led of a possible 956.
So while there are both knowns and unknowns on tap for Busch this weekend, it’s a safe bet that Busch and the No. 18 Doublemint team will be right in the thick of things on Saturday night.
Back in the day, Tony Stewart loved Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway. He won his second career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series pole at Bristol in just his 23rd Sprint Cup start. He won the 2001 night race in just his sixth visit to the .533-mile concrete oval. And in those first six races, Stewart led a total of 484 laps.
But in the six races after that lone Bristol win, Stewart’s best finish was 15th. He finally rebounded in 2005 when he finished third in the spring race and eighth in the night race, but that year of consistency, which coincidentally was the year Stewart secured the second of his three Sprint Cup championships, gave way to a feast-or-famine run at Bristol that has yet to subside.
On three occasions in the 13 races between 2006 and the Sprint Cup Series’ last visit to Bristol in March, Stewart dominated at Bristol by leading the most laps, but only had finishes of 12th (spring 2006), 35th (spring 2007) and 14th (spring 2008) to show for his efforts. In that same span, there have been only three top-10 finishes.
As Stewart’s fortunes at Bristol have changed, so too has Bristol. The bullring in Thunder Valley received a new concrete surface complete with variable banking in time for the 2007 night race, and in 2010, 160 feet of SAFER Barrier at the exits of turns two and four were added in time for the spring race, which created a different transition off the corners.
Another change greets drivers for Saturday night’s Irwin Tools Night Race, as the banking in the upper groove of the racetrack has been reduced to the same degree as the middle of the track surface, effectively eliminating the third groove as a viable option. This will create tighter racing, the kind of which was prevalent when Stewart first found success at Bristol.
The retro feel of the new, new Bristol will hopefully suit Stewart and his No. 14 Mobil 1/Office Depot Chevrolet. It needs to, for Stewart comes into Bristol reeling a bit after a 32nd-place finish last Sunday at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn and a 19th-place finish two weeks ago at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International that has dropped the three-time and reigning Sprint Cup champion from sixth to ninth in points.
Stewart isn’t in danger of missing the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, as his three wins already this season put him in a tie with fellow three-time race victors Jimmie Johnson and Brad Keselowski for the No. 1 seed in the Chase, which begins Sept. 16 at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Ill. Nonetheless, all drivers want to start the Chase strong, and Stewart is no exception.
With a Bristol that’s gone retro, Stewart sees opportunity – the same opportunity he saw at Bristol more than a decade ago.
“Thunderstruck.” It’s a rhythmic song with a simple chorus. “Thunderstruck, thunderstruck, thunderstruck.” When played in full, the tune runs nearly five minutes in length and features the roar of thunder throughout. The booming song was the first release from the band ACDC’s 1990 album “The Razor’s Edge.” Written by bandmates Angus and Malcolm Young, there has been some debate over what inspired “Thunderstruck.” One story tells the tale of a situation in which Angus Young came up with the song after the plane on which he was flying was struck by lightning. Another story recants that the band was inspired to pen “Thunderstruck” after watching military maneuvers at Fort Hood in Texas. The common theme of the stories behind the song, however, is the notion that it’s a lyrical interpretation of a tale in which an individual is awestruck by an impressive force of action.
Regardless of the inspiration behind “Thunderstruck,” the song is easily one of the band’s most recognized tunes. Ironically, the song never reached the top spot on any of the musical charts, peaking at No. 5 on the Billboard charts in 1990. It’s a fairly surprising fact given the role the song plays in a variety of television shows, films and sporting events, making it a song that has become more appreciated with age. The fact that the song has become the anthem of various sporting events and teams through the years has only added to its popularity.
“Thunderstruck” isn’t the official song of any tracks visited by the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, but the venue at which the hymn most aptly applies is the sport’s very own Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway.
Nicknamed “Thunder Valley,” Bristol plays host to the Sprint Cup Series for Saturday’s Irwin Tools Night Race. Scoring a win at Bristol can be a daunting task given the high-banked concrete oval’s tough reputation. Any win at the Sprint Cup level is an incredible accomplishment. But, doing so at Bristol takes the sense of accomplishment to another level, particularly when that win is scored during the highly regarded annual night race.
Racing under the lights at Bristol always seems to add to the drama that unfolds at NASCAR’s shortest track. For the second time in five years, competitors will travel to Thunder Valley facing a bit of the unknown. In an effort to restore Bristol to the bump-and-run type of racing for which it has become notorious, track officials worked to reconfigure the track’s surface and make it less conducive of the side-by-side racing action that has become associated with the track in the last several years.
One driver who enjoyed the old rough-and-tumble nature of the “old Bristol” is Kurt Busch. The driver of the No. 51 Phoenix Construction Services Chevrolet for Phoenix Racing is a five-time winner at Bristol. Busch scored each of those five wins prior to the night race in August 2007, the first Bristol race after the track’s repaving project earlier that season. In fact, the 2004 Sprint Cup champion experienced the majority of his Bristol success during the 2002 through 2007 seasons. In the 12 races run during that six-season stretch, Busch scored his five wins in addition to nine top-10 finishes. He led at least one lap in nine of those 12 races for a total of 562 laps led from 2002 to 2007. While Busch has continued to perform at a high level when it comes to Bristol, he enjoyed his greatest success prior to the track’s repaving.
It remains to be seen whether the efforts extended by track officials will restore Bristol to the former glory many drivers and fans used to enjoy. Whether it is “old Bristol” or “new Bristol,” the track remains a force with which to be reckoned. To best the half-mile bullring offers the conquering hero that rare chance to be in awe of the accomplishment. As such, Busch hopes to be “Thunderstruck” in Bristol, once again.
Atlanta Motor Speedway Teams with Chevrolet and the American Cancer Society to Support Breast Cancer Awareness
In support of the American Cancer Society® and breast cancer awareness, Chevrolet, together with partner Atlanta Motor Speedway, is holding a special event to give breast cancer survivors the thrill of a ride around the track in specially-themed pink pace cars with Team Chevy NASCAR drivers.
The event will be held on August 31, 2012 at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Thirty survivors and a guest of their choice have been invited to the track to receive pace car rides in the morning from Team Chevy drivers Jamie McMurray and Ron Hornaday, Jr. followed by a garage tour. Danica Patrick will then visit the group later for photos and autographs. The event will conclude with a lunch provided by NASCAR.
The pink Chevrolet Camaros will feature the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer® logo, which is the American Cancer Society’s breast cancer awareness platform. The Atlanta Making Strides event, which is a 5K walk, will take place October 6, 2012 in Centennial Olympic Park.
On Sunday, September 2 during the AdvoCare 500, the pink Chevrolet Camaros will take to the track with each caution lap representing a contribution to the American Cancer Society in the amount of $200. During the 2011 event, 64 caution laps were posted, providing a $12,800 contribution to ACS.
Along with its dealers, Chevrolet is proud to support the American Cancer Society® in raising awareness of breast cancer and its mission to save more lives by helping people stay well, helping people get well, by finding cures and by fighting back against this disease.
Johanna Long will be back behind the wheel of the No. 70 Foretravel Motorcoach Chevrolet at the half-mile track of Bristol Motor Speedway for race 15 on her 21 NASCAR Nationwide Series season schedule. The Food City 250 event will be aired live on ESPN beginning at 7:00 pm EST. Fans can also tune into MRN Radio as well as Sirius Satellite Radio, Channel 90.
This Week’s Chevrolet – The No. 70 Foretravel Motorcoach team will bring chassis No. 63 to Bristol Motor Speedway. Chassis No. 63 was last utilized on August 4 at Iowa Speedway, where the 20-year-old rookie battled inside the top-20 for the majority of the 200-lap event, and secured a strong 13th-place finish.
Bristol Motor Speedway - Long and the ML Motorsports team last visited Bristol Motor Speedway on March 17. The team struggled to find a balance and combination to the car that was both comfortable and fast, leading them to a 29th-place finish. After coming off of several strong performances at various short tracks this season, Long and the ML Motorsports team are ready for revenge this Friday night under the lights at Bristol Motor Speedway.
Meet Johanna – Fans will have the opportunity to meet Johanna during the Food City Race Night driver appearance at the Knoxville Expo Center on Wednesday, August 22. Johanna will meet the fans and sign autographs from 6-7 p.m.
The young driver has a couple of appearances scheduled for Thursday, August 23 in Downtown Bristol, TN on State Street. She will stop by the Shell-E Shelter Dog tent to meet with fans and sign autographs from 5:15-5:45 p.m. She will then head over to the Food City Race Night driver autograph session from 6-7 p.m.
Johanna on Driving at Bristol Motor Speedway: “Short-track racing is like home to me, so I always get excited when I am able to get back to my roots on a fun track like Bristol. I have a lot of unfinished business here because I didn’t get the run or finish that I had hoped for back in March. After getting some seat time and experience under my belt this season, I feel strongly about a big turnaround here this Friday. Our team has continued to progress week in and week out, and I hope to continue the momentum and progression here at Bristol Motor Speedway.”
ML Motorsports PR
Race fans visiting Bristol Motor Speedway for its yearly NASCAR weekends know there isn’t a more fan-friendly track on the circuit.
For the upcoming August Race Week events, the Speedway extends its attention to the fans with the introduction of the Bristol Guest Welcome Village.
The Guest Welcome Village, located beside the orange bridge between BMS and Bristol Dragway on the Dragway side of the creek, is a designated area that provides guests with information, services and entertainment through the race week and weekend.
The Village, staffed with personnel to assist guests with any questions they might have about BMS and its events, features a stage for entertainment and driver and celebrity appearances, concessions, tented areas with cooling stations with misting and cool seats, picnic tables, closed-circuit television, WiFi access, games and more.
BMS general manager Jerry Caldwell feels the latest addition to fan amenities will be a home run with guests.
“Our guests realize just how important they are to us here at BMS,” said Caldwell. “Those folks are the ones who are responsible for making this the best track in the business and they will always be number one. This new Welcome Village is just one more way of showing our guests that we are dedicated to making certain that they have the best possible experience while they’re here.”
In addition to helping fans, fans can expect an array of entertainment and interaction.
Driver appearances include:
Elliott Sadler | Friday | 2:45 PM
Paul Menard | Friday | TBA
Justin Allgaier | Friday | 5:15 PM
Music appearances include:
My New Favorites | Friday | 1:45 PM and again at 3:30 PM
Matt Stillwell | Friday | After the Food City 250 (approximately 9:30 PM)
Matt Stillwell | Saturday | 12:45 PM
Eric Paslay | Saturday | 2:00 PM
The BMS Guest Welcome Village opens Wednesday, Aug. 22 at 8 a.m. It will be open at 10 a.m. Aug. 23 and at 8:30 a.m. on both Aug. 24 and Aug. 25. The Village will remain open each race night for one hour following completion of each event.