Speedway Digest Staff
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Sunday's Chevrolet Silverado 250 will be a unique road-racing experience for Max Gresham and everyone else on the No. 8 Made in USA Brand (MIUSA) race team. Along with most of the field in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS), very few teams can claim significant experience on road courses.
Gresham will be able to put a new notch on his belt this weekend, which will mark his first race appearance on a road course in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. Gresham has prepared for this weekend recently by holding a test session at Carolina Motorsports Park in Kershaw, S.C.
The trip to Canadian Tire Motorsports Park will mark the first time since 2000 the truck series has been on a road course. None of the drivers in that race at Watkins Glen International are entered in Sunday's event, though series regular and veteran Ron Hornaday, Jr. has 14 starts on road courses with the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series.
"Making both left and right turns is something most of us have little real experience on," Gresham said. "You definitely need to develop a rhythm on the course. Eventually, you fall back on your experiences driving on the freeway, but at really fast speeds. It's a different way to race, but none of us are doing anything that's unnatural."
With the series headed to Bowmanville, Ontario, Canada, for the Chevrolet Silverado 250, Gresham, who has previous road-course experience from his time in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East could use this Sunday as an opportunity to capitalize on that resume. In one start at Lime Rock Park, Gresham started 11th and finished third in the 2010 edition of the 66-lap event. He has also turned laps around the infield road course at the Atlanta Motor Speedway in an INEX U.S. Legends International car.
This summer has been milestone after milestone for the 20-year-old driver and Sharp-Gallaher Racing. First, the truck series raced on Tony Stewart's half-mile dirt track on July 24. Now the series moves north of the border to face the challenges of track promoter Ron Fellows' 2.459-mile, 10-turn course located 50 miles from Toronto.
"We learned a lot during our test at Kershaw and when I attended the Ron Fellows Performance Driving School is Las Vegas," the Milner, Georgia native said. "But everyone else is in the same boat. We faced challenges at the dirt track and we came home with a top-10 finish. I know we can do the same with this challenge and I'm confident for a good run."
Sunday's race, which starts at 2 p.m. Eastern Time on Fox Sports 1, continues a NASCAR tradition in Canada.
To help everyone get up to speed for the Sunday event, NASCAR scheduled four practice sessions - two each on Friday and Saturday - before pole qualifying on Saturday afternoon.
"Believe me, if I can handle traffic in Atlanta during rush hour, I can adjust to road-course racing," Gresham joked.
Max Gresham PR
In dominating fashion, Dylan Kwasniewski was able to secure his fourth NASCAR K&N Pro Series East (NKNPSE) victory of the season at the Biscuitville 125 at Virginia International Raceway (VIR) on Saturday afternoon, after being the quickest in practice and taking the top spot in qualifying. Both of Kwasniewski's teammates, Kenzie Ruston and Austin Dyne, were able to bring their Turner Scott Motorsports entries home with top-15 finishes.
Grabbing the pole for the second time this season, Kwasniewski jumped out to an early lead at VIR and held it until lap 10 when he decided to let the second-place car by so that he could conserve his tires for later in the race. Around lap 25, Kwasniewski ducked down pit road to fill his Rockstar Energy Drink/Royal Purple Chevy up with Sunoco fuel. The team opted to not take any tires and regained the lead. Kwasniewski went on to lead a race-high 39 laps en route to his fourth NKNPSE victory of the season.
Ruston, who started the race in the ninth position, remained around the top 10 for the first half of the race. When the field came down to pit, Ruston brought her AccuDoc Solutions Chevy in to the attention of her crew for fuel only. Ruston crept back into the top 10, running as high as eighth place, before being involved in an incident late in the Biscuitville 125. Ruston brought the No. 34 AccuDoc Solutions team home in the 12th spot.
After a solid practice session, Austin Dyne qualified his No. 99 KMC Wheels Chevy in the eighth spot. After missing a shift on the initial start of the race, Dyne decided to settle in to the running order. On lap 15, Dyne came to pit road for fuel only. After the pit stops cycled through, Dyne was shown in the sixth position. A late-race incident forced Dyne back in the finishing order, and he eventually brought the No. 99 KMC Wheels Chevy home with a 13th-place finish.
"It was awesome," said Dylan Kwasniewski. "We had a fantastic car. This track is a blast to run. I thought they were going to get me there for a little bit, but we just had to keep calm and make sure I didn't burn off my tires because that was the biggest thing. We had to keep the tires under us and make sure we had rubber left at the end, and we did. I have to say thanks to Rockstar, Royal Purple and of course, my awesome Turner Scott Motorsports team."
15-year-old Kyle Benjamin became the youngest race winner in ARCA Series history after leading the final 131 laps (out of 200) in Sunday's race at Madison International Speedway in Oregon, Wisconsin.
Benjamin, making his first start at the half-mile track, started third behind local racer Ross Kenseth and series regular Justin Boston, but grabbed the lead when the second and final caution flag flew on lap 70. From there, he checked out to earn his eighth overall victory of the 2013 racing season.
"It's definitely the biggest thing that has ever happened to me," said Benjamin, who became the youngest pole winner in ARCA history earlier this season at Toledo. "I'm ecstatic right now. I'm not going to sleep tonight. I'm not going to sleep tomorrow night.
"It was a top-five car at the beginning. We came and made our stop and got those two those tires and the car came to life. From there it was smooth sailing. Kevin Reed is such a good crew chief. I got the best team behind me. I had a great spotter. Everything just came together today. I'm really happy for all of the guys."
Reed, who has crew chiefed for Benjamin in six events this year with Venturini Motorsports, shared the young driver's sentiment.
"Kyle's been awesome all year," Reed said. "He was just flawless today."
Benjamin's next ARCA Series race will be at Iowa Speedway on September 7.
Rising Star PR
Michael Waltrip Racing announced today Scott Miller, its vice-president of competition, will oversee the crew chief duties on No. 55 Aaron’s Dream Machine Toyota for the remainder of the 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup season.
Miller will take the lead role on the No. 55 Toyota team working with driver Brian Vickers. Miller replaces Rodney Childers who remains under contract with MWR through December 31.
Billy Scott, a race engineer with MWR since 2008 and exclusive to the No. 55 the past two seasons, will take an elevated role in car set up and race weekend preparations.
Vickers will drive the No. 55 in the remaining 2013 races except at Talladega when two-time Daytona 500 champion Michael Waltrip climbs behind the wheel. Vickers won the July 14 race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in the No. 55. The team is 19th in the car owner standings.
Miller is a 20-year motorsports veteran who joined MWR before the 2012 season and played a major role in bringing the team its first two Chase berths last year. He has served as crew chief for several teams during his career.
On this opening weekend of college football, Jeff Gordon's weekend kicks off at the University of Georgia on Thursday. But game day for the four-time NASCAR Cup Series champion is not until Sunday night in the AdvoCare 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
Gordon, driver of the No. 24 Drive To End Hunger Chevrolet SS, will visit the University of Georgia on Thursday to view firsthand how The Campus Kitchens Project and the Campus Kitchen at UGA provide healthy meals to older Georgians who struggle to put food on the table.
"I'm looking forward to Thursday's visit," said Gordon. "It's always cool to see communities get involved with this issue, and I think it will be interesting to learn and see what the university and the students are doing."
On Friday, he will turn his attention to winning his sixth race at the 1.54-mile Georgia track. Along with five wins, Gordon has two poles while leading active drivers with 16 top-fives, 25 top-10's and 1,280 laps led in 39 starts.
"This has always been such a fun race track - one we always slide around on," said Gordon, who made his NASCAR Sprint Cup Series debut here in the 1992 season finale. "The surface - with its abrasiveness - provides the teams and drivers with a huge challenge.
"And that challenge is what makes it so fun."
Another challenge facing Gordon is securing one of the 12 spots in the "Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup." After a seventh-place run at Bristol last weekend, Gordon chopped 15 points off the deficit to 10th and is only 11 points out of that guaranteed berth with two races remaining before the field is set.
"We just need to do our job and get the best results possible these next two races and see how things shake out," said Gordon, who has 12 top-13 finishes in his last 13 starts at Atlanta including a win in 2011 and a runner-up finish here last year. "We'll go out every practice and try to get everything out of the car.
"You'll have 'ups' and you'll have 'downs' throughout race weekends. It's how you manage the peaks and valleys that allow you to stay focused."
And that focus is firmly set on a Chase spot.
NASCAR DRIVER DAVID RAGAN, along with Front Row teammate David Gilliland and special guests, will be in Perry Thursday, August 29, as he returns home for a special date with members of the David Ragan Fan Club on the eve of NASCAR racing Labor Day Weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
The Fan Day party is open to the public. Ragan, winner of the 2013 Aarons 499 at Talladega Motor Speedway, will be displaying his Talladega trophy and his 2012 Sprint Cup Car and inviting race fans to get in line for an autograph.
SCHEDULE OF EVENTS
2:00-2:30 Arrive and walk thru dealership
2:30-3:15 Ragan available for media interviews
3:15-3:45 Welcome everyone...talk with Laura Starling WDEN Remote
3:45-5:00 Autograph Session: David Ragan, David Gilliland, Chris Buescher
5:00-6:00 Group Photos: fan club members, Boy Scouts, etc.
NASCAR Sprint Cup driver David Gilliland, Nationwide driver Chris Buescher,
The Southern Bell Outdoor Girls with the famous Turtle Motorcycle,
Steve West with Rick Steiner of the wrestling group The Steiner Brothers.
Phil "The Killer" Davis, Monty Milikin, Chuck Hancock, Alex Clements, plus Macy Pruitt and Delma Cowart.
David Ragan No. 34 Peanut Patch Ford Fusion, Atlanta Motor Speedway Pace Car, Kyle Plott late model race car, Max Hennebaul 1/4 midget race car, Justin Bridges Bandolero race car, the No. 34 Front Row Motorsports hauler (the truck Ragan co-drove from Charlotte, N.C., to Sonoma, Calif.), plus the Peach County High School "Hot Rodders of Tomorrow" engine build team who will disassemble and reassemble in the parking lot ...without electricity...twice!
Jet Food Stores Cook-Out, Chick-Fil-A Perry, David Ragan sponsors
McCall Farms / Peanut Patch and the Georgia Peanut Commission,
plus Carl Hammock with his Hit or Miss Ice Cream Machine.
David Ragan Ford
1608 Sam Nunn Blvd.
Perry, GA 31069
David Ragan PR
The start of the Chase for the Sprint Cup is still three weeks away. The Goody’s™ Headache Relief Shot™ 500 Powered by Kroger, the seventh race in the chase, is two months away.
But after Saturday night’s race, the Chase field is beginning to shape up and Martinsville Speedway fans have a better idea who will be chasing the championship in the Goody’s™ Headache Relief Shot™ 500 Powered by Kroger on October 27.
Jimmie Johnson and Clint Bowyer have clinched berths in the 12-driver Chase. Matt Kenseth picked up his fifth win of the season Saturday night, and is guaranteed at least a wildcard slot behind the strength of those five wins even though he is sixth in points.
There wasn’t any movement up or down in the middle portions of the points standings, but Dale Earnhardt Jr. fans can breathe a sigh of relief after he ended a two-week downward skid and solidified his seventh-place spot. He’s 13 Points ahead of Kasey Kahne in eighth, and more importantly 29 points ahead of Joey Logano in 10th with just two races to go before the Chase starts.
The top 10 in points move into the Chase, while positions 11 and 12 are wildcards, determined by number of wins. Right now those positions are filled by Martin Truex Jr. and Ryan Newman.
The Goody’s™ Headache Relief Shot™ 500 Powered by Kroger is the only short-track race in the Chase, which makes it a pivotal race down the stretch.
Of the three drivers locked into the Chase, Johnson, Bowyer and Kenseth, only Johnson has a win at Martinsville, even though Bowyer and Kenseth have been knocking on the door the past couple of years.
Kevin Harvick (4th) and Kurt Busch (12th) are the only other two drivers currently in the top 12 positions with Martinsville Speedway wins.
While Earnhardt has never won at Martinsville, he has the highest driver rating of any driver on the half-mile track. In 27 starts, he has 10 top 5s, 14 top 10s and has led almost 1,000 laps. He’s finished second twice, third three times and fourth three times.
Martinsville Speedway PR
The AdvoCare 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway this weekend will play a pivotal role in determining who qualifies for the Chase for the Sprint Cup with numerous drivers in striking distance as they search for wins and points.
"Some drivers’ season will be determined this weekend," said Atlanta Motor Speedway President and General Manager Ed Clark. "A win can provide the necessary momentum needed to propel a driver into the chase while a bad showing could have dire consequences."
Joey Logano, former Atlanta Motor Speedway Thursday Thunder champion, moved into 10th in the NASCAR Sprint Cup series point standings with a fifth place finish at Bristol on Saturday night. Logano entered the race in 13th place in the point standings, 17 points out of the top 10.
After being involved in a crash, a 30th place finish at Bristol on Saturday night dropped Brad Keselowski three positions and he is now four points out of the Chase in 11th. Other drivers on the outside include Kurt Busch, who fell from 8th to 12th following Bristol along with Jeff Gordon, who is currently in 13th. Busch and Gordon are both past winners in Atlanta and join Keselowski in a must-win situation to keep their Chase hopes alive.
With one win apiece, Martin Truex Jr. in 14th place and Ryan Newman in 15th, are currently in the two NASCAR Sprint Cup Series wild card positions. A win by any of the three winless drivers ranked ahead in the standing could results in their elimination as a candidate to make the chase.
Major Change in Tire Construction to Debut at AdvoCare 500
Goodyear introduced a new tire that will be utilized during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and the NASCAR Nationwide Series this weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
Announced just days after a 13-team tire test at AMS on August 6th, Goodyear will utilize "zone tread" technology to create a more durable tire that will also have grip for Saturday's Great Clips / Grit Chips 300 and Sunday's AdvoCare 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
"Atlanta is a track with multiple grooves, you can run the high groove, the low groove or even the middle - based off your tire wear," said Kurt Busch at the August 6th test. "The tire wear element [at Atlanta] is so different than at any other track, I'm excited to see how the tires are going to be with the race, the re-starts and the long green flag runs."
The left side tires scheduled to be used at Atlanta Motor Speedway this weekend will remain unchanged from the tire that ran the AdvoCare 500 last year. The right side tires will utilize the "zone tread" technology to create the tire tread. Two-thirds of the tire will be based on the previous tires used in Atlanta and will provide grip while the other third of the tire will utilize the tread similar to that used at Michigan that is designed to counteract heat produced from the high speeds.
NASCAR will be featured in new advertising launching today as part of HP’s “Build a better enterprise. Together” marketing campaign, which highlights stories of collaboration and co-innovation. NASCAR’s story illustrates how the company worked with HP to create the Fan and Media Engagement Center(FMEC), which incorporates innovative technology that is transforming its relationships with fans and partners. The centerpiece of the campaign is a fast-paced, 30-second TV spot highlighting NASCAR as one of HP’s lighthouse customers and featuring NASCAR Chief Marketing Officer Steve Phelps.
The NASCAR-themed creative will air on national news networks including CNBC, CNN and FOX News, and will also appear in a wide range of print outlets such as Bloomberg BusinessWeek, Forbes, Harvard Business Review, The Economist, and Wired, among others.
In the latest example of the convergence of Big Data and marketing, this campaign brings to life how HP helps NASCAR make sense of the noise – juxtaposing the chaos of a NASCAR race with the order and precision the FMEC provides. The spot showcases how technology turns millions of tweets, posts and stories into business-impacting analytics.
“HP has done a masterful job, not only in partnering with us to create this cutting-edge tool, but in telling the story of how and why we developed it together,” said Phelps. “The amount of conversation and media coverage around our sport is staggering. Thanks to our Official Technology Partner HP, we’re now able to glean the insights we need to make more informed decisions that benefit our entire industry.”
“This is a true example of HP partnering with our customers to build a better enterprise,” said Susan Popper, Senior Vice President, Experience Marketing, HP. “We are excited to tell the story together with NASCAR.”
Filmed during the Coke Zero 400 powered by Coca-Cola, the TV spot is packed with night racing action at Daytona International Speedway and imagery of NASCAR’s famously brand-loyal fan base. It is produced by The Garage and directed by Brett Morgan, known for his documentary projects: “Rolling Stones Crossfire Hurricane” and “June 17, 1994” for ESPN’s 30 for 30 series.
To view the spot click here.
The FMEC is state-of-the-art facility that enables near real-time analysis and response to traditional, digital, and social media. Housed in a 500-square-foot, glass-enclosed room outfitted with touch screens and digital displays, the FMEC is the focal point of the newly designed offices that house NASCAR Digital in Charlotte, N.C.