Thursday, Sep 28
Speedway Digest Staff

Speedway Digest Staff

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On February 13, 1982, Dale Earnhardt crossed the finish line first in the Goody’s 300 at Daytona International Speedway to win the inaugural race in what is now known as the NASCAR Nationwide Series. Twenty-three champions and 136 race winners later, NASCAR’s No. 2 series approaches an historic milestone – its 1,000th race, on Sept. 6 at Richmond International Raceway (7:30 p.m. ET on ESPN2, Motor Racing Network Radio, SiriusXM Satellite Radio).

Through the years, drivers, owners and fans have witnessed some of the best racing in motorsports in the NASCAR Nationwide Series, beginning with Jack Ingram’s championship run in 1982, the series’ inaugural season.

Ingram drove the self-owned No. 11 Pontiac to seven wins that season, followed by five victories in 1985 to claim his second title. Next Friday at Richmond, Elliott Sadler will pilot the No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota carrying a paint scheme honoring Ingram’s upcoming enshrinement into the NASCAR Hall of Fame on Jan. 29, 2014. 

“The NASCAR Nationwide Series always has been a perfect blend of young and veteran drivers, providing some of the most compelling and entertaining racing in motorsports,” said Mike Helton, NASCAR president. “We are very pleased with the progress the series has made over the last 32 years and continues to make in terms of competition, technology and providing a truly memorable experience for its legions of fans.” 

Over the last 999 races, there have been a multitude of highlights that weave together the colorful tales of its drivers and epic battles on the track. Some of the top moments from the NASCAR Nationwide Series’ stories history include:

·         Dale Earnhardt’s wins the series’ inaugural event – the Goody’s 300 at Daytona International Speedway on Feb. 13, 1982.

·         Jack Ingram captures the inaugural series championship at Martinsville Speedway on Oct. 31, 1982.

·         Sam Ard becomes the first driver to win two titles in the series on Oct. 28, 1984, at Martinsville, becoming the first of eight drivers to earn the distinction. The other seven are Jack Ingram, Larry Pearson, Randy LaJoie, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kevin Harvick, Martin Truex Jr. and Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

·         Jeff Gordon captures a series-record 11th pole of the season in late October 1992 at Rockingham Speedway – the most poles by one driver in one season. 

·         Nationwide Insurance becomes the title sponsor in 2008, renaming NASCAR’s No. 2 series the NASCAR Nationwide Series.

·         Dale Earnhardt Jr. wins the debut race of the new NASCAR Nationwide Series car at Daytona on July 2, 2010. Earnhardt’s No. 3 Chevrolet carries the No. 3 Wrangler paint scheme his father made famous early in his career.

·         Kyle Busch wins the Food City 250 at Bristol on Friday, August 20, 2010. He had already won the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series event at the .533-mile track two days earlier and would go on to win the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race the following night, becoming the only driver to sweep all three national series events at a track.

·         On August 26, 2011, Kyle Busch claims his 50th series victory in the Food City 250 at Bristol Motor Speedway to surpass Mark Martin as the all-time wins leader. Busch continues to win consistently in the series, notching his 60th victory on August 23, 2013, at Bristol.

·         Kenny Wallace passes Jason Keller as the all-time series’ starts leader with 521 on November 12, 2011. Wallace’s tally of race starts currently sits at 541.

·         Ricky Stenhouse Jr. becomes only the sixth driver in the series to claim back-to-back titles in 2012, following in the footsteps of Sam Ard, Larry Pearson, Randy LaJoie, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Martin Truex Jr.

The NASCAR Nationwide Series long has been a proving ground for drivers trying to earn a seat in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. There are eight NASCAR Sprint Cup champions who competed in the NASCAR Nationwide Series before making their way to NASCAR’s top level: Alan Kulwicki, Dale Jarrett, Bobby Labonte, Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart, Matt Kenseth, Jimmie Johnson and Brad Keselowski. Keselowski is the only driver to have won titles in NASCAR’s top two series.


Kurt Busch versus Jeff Gordon.

Martin Truex Jr. versus Ryan Newman.

Those aren't just idle propositions at a Las Vegas sports book. In fact, they are matchups with very real and important consequences.

Those are the two head-to-head battles that are likely to decide two of the final spots in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup in Saturday night's race at Richmond.

Yes, there are plenty of other permutations. But in all likelihood, the driver who prevails in each of these two matchups will compete for the NASCAR Sprint Cup championship, and the driver on the short end will not.

BUSCH v. GORDON: With a fourth-place run in Sunday night's AdvoCare 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway, Busch jumped back into 10th place in the standings and opened a six-point margin over 11th-place Gordon, who finished sixth at the 1.54-mile intermediate track.

Busch may need every point of that advantage, because, on paper, Gordon has a superior record at Richmond. Gordon's average finish of 14.3 at the three-quarter-mile short track is 3.6 positions better than Busch's 17.9, but that doesn't tell the whole story.

Over the last 13 Richmond races, Gordon has recorded 11 finishes of 12th or better, six of which were top fives. Contrast that to Busch's seven top-12 runs and three top fives in the last 13 races. But, again, that doesn't tell the full story.

With an experienced over-the-wall crew, Gordon has a clear edge over Busch's No. 78 team on pit road. The Furniture Row team has been inconsistent this season, and a blown pit stop could very well decide the final Chase spot.

On the other hand, Busch's crew chief, Todd Berrier, has found consistent speed in the No. 78 Gen-6 Chevrolet SS, something Gordon hasn't had in his No. 24 Chevy on a regular basis. Busch led 36 laps at Richmond in April before finishing ninth. Gordon was 11th in the spring race.

Accordingly, this matchup could come down to speed on the track versus speed in the pits.

Busch is a lame duck at Furniture Row, having already announced that he will take the seat in a fourth car at Stewart-Haas Racing. Busch, however, would like nothing better than to deliver a Chase berth as a going-away present to the team that has helped resurrect his career.

Gordon, on the other hand, knows what it's like to overcome long odds to make the Chase. In last year's race at Richmond, he stole a playoff berth from Kyle Busch with a second-place run.

Late in that race, Kyle Busch's team made a critical error in failing to cover Gordon's move to pit road for fresh tires. On superior rubber, Gordon rallied to knock Busch out of the Chase by three points.

Berrier isn't likely to make that same mistake.

A victory at Richmond locks Busch into the top 10. For Gordon, a win earns at least a Wild Card berth in the Chase. Consider, though, that Busch notched his lone win at Richmond back in 2005. Gordon hasn't won at the .75-mile track since 2000.

This one is too close to call, and it's entirely possible that the six-point lead Busch carries into the event could be the deciding factor.

TRUEX v. NEWMAN: If this matchup follows form, Truex is in trouble.

After a strong third-place run at Atlanta, with pain in his broken right wrist plaguing him as he wrestled his No. 56 Toyota through the corners, Truex retained control of the second provisional Wild Card berth in the Chase by five points over Newman.

The bad news is that Truex hasn't had a finish at Richmond better than 17th since he ran seventh in his first Richmond start for Michael Waltrip Racing back in 2010. The worse news is that Truex's average finish at RIR is 23.7, nearly 12 positions higher than Newman's 11.8.

If Truex is racing with a broken wrist, Newman is driving with a large chip on his shoulder that might outweigh the heavy foot on his accelerator. In mid-July, Newman got official word of his ouster from Stewart-Haas Racing to make room for Kevin Harvick.

Clearly, Newman has a point to prove as he tries to nail down a full-time ride for 2014.

In terms of average finish, Richmond is Newman's second-best track to Pocono (11.7). Statistically, Richmond is Truex's worst track. Accordingly, the driver of the No. 56 Toyota has a lot to overcome in order to keep Newman at bay.

As in the case with Busch and Gordon, the lead Truex holds entering the race may prove critical.

There are scenarios, of course, that could make Chasers of both Newman and Truex, and there are scenarios that could keep both drivers out of the playoffs.

Their worst nightmare is Greg Biffle (who like Truex and Newman has one victory this season) falling out of the top 10 and grabbing the second Wild Card spot. Conversely, Kasey Kahne, 12th in points with two wins, could race his way back into the top 10 and promote both Truex and Newman into Wild Card spots.

Most likely, however, the drivers will decide the issue between them, and Truex will have to find a way to overcome Newman's huge statistical edge

When you flip the switch, you don’t want to wait for your compact fluorescent (CFL) to brighten up. GE Lighting’s award-winning Bright from the Start®, a hybrid-halogen CFL light bulb that provides instant brightness, is now available at Target in a 100-watt replacement for table or floor lamps, as well as globe lights commonly used for bathroom vanity lighting and recessed bulbs for down lighting in kitchen, living and dining rooms.

In honor of Bright from the Start’s new product offerings, GE Lighting is giving consumers the chance to win and spend a day with the Target Chevrolet SS driver and pit crew.  Enter to win GE Lighting’s VIP Race Pass for two at the May 2014 Charlotte Cup by visiting

Similarly, for Target NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver, Juan Pablo Montoya, every second counts on and off the race track. Juan, his wife, Connie, and their three kids put GE’s Bright from the Start to the test in their own home to see if it could keep up with their fast-paced lifestyle.  

“I love the energy savings that CFLs provide, but didn’t like the   amount of time it took to warm-up for full brightness,” said Connie. “GE’s Bright from the Start bulbs are instantly bright, but use a lot less energy than traditional bulbs.”

GE engineers have designed this bulb so that when you flip the switch, GE’s Bright from the Start illuminates instantly thanks to a Brightness Booster™, a halogen capsule. After about a minute, the CFL reaches full brightness and takes over, providing warm-tone, energy-saving light. In fact, each 100-watt replacement Bright from the Start bulb will save consumers $39 over the life of the bulb, based on three hours of operation.

Whether you’re using Bright from the Start bulbs in your bathroom, kitchen or dining room, these bulbs provide a similar soft, warm light like an incandescent. Great for high-use table lamps and fixtures where you want instant light and energy efficiency, Bright from the Start bulbs have the familiar shape of their incandescent counterparts – so you won’t notice any difference. 

“We really like the flow of our home – especially when entertaining all of our family and friends – but we wanted to use energy-efficient lighting in the busy areas of our condo and create visual separation from our kitchen to the dining room,” continued Connie. “By using a mixture of GE’s Bright from the Start bulbs, we were able to have functional lighting in the kitchen, while creating a more inviting and relaxing environment in the dining room.”  

GE’s Bright from the Start bulbs are available at Target. For more information about GE’s Bright from the Start bulbs, visit GE Lighting’s website. While entering the sweepstakes on GE Lighting’s Facebook page, consumers can learn more about GE’s energy-efficient light bulb options, like the Bright from the Start, and access an energy-savings and usage calculator.

No purchase is necessary to enter the VIP Race Pass sweepstakes. Visit GE Lighting on Facebook through October 31, 2013, and eligible entrants can follow the on-screen prompts to complete the necessary sweepstakes fields. One entry per person/email address is allowed during the sweepstakes period, September 1 – October 31. Official Rules apply.


Roush Yates’ engines set fast times and dominated races in the World of Outlaws Late Model Series over the holiday weekend with help from Josh Richards and Gregg Satterlee.

For the second time this season at a track in his home state, Richards snapped a rare winless-streak and found Victory Lane at West Virginia Motor Speedway in the 50-lap RaceFest A-Main. Richards started from the outside pole and passed pole sitter Tim McCreadie for the lead on lap 14 to capture his eighth win of the season in the World of Outlaw Late Model Series.

“We’ve had some really good runs over the past month or so but we’ve just been lacking a little bit and we had a few races where we had stuff just not go our way,” said Richards. “It definitely went our way tonight.”

Richards’ win concluded an evening sweep of setting the fast time for the night and winning his heat race. He is currently leading the World of Outlaw Late Model Series points championship.

Satterlee also found speed in the World of Outlaws series over the weekend, winning at Selinsgrove Speedway (Selinsgrove, PA) on Saturday night in the “Showdown on Sand Hill”. One month after registering his first World of Outlaw Late Model Series win, Satterlee passed defending circuit champion Darrell Lanigan for the lead on lap 17 and dominated the remainder of the race at the historic half-mile central Pennsylvania oval.

“I would’ve never though we would’ve got one again this year,” said Satterlee. “It always hangs in the back of your mind – that once you get a win you can do it again, but I never would’ve dreamed that we would do it again this soon. This is just awesome.”


U.S. Forensic has come back on board, tell me about this new partnership. 
"I'm happy to have U.S. Forensic on board as a primary sponsor for this upcoming race" Martin replied. "When I graduated from the University of New Orleans in 2009 with a Bachelor's of Science Degree in Mechanical Engineering, I worked as a forensic engineer at U.S. Forensic in New Orleans, LA under Gary Bell, Mike DeHarde, and Bill Jankowsky for two years. It was an amazing opportunity for me to use my degree in such a challenging field. When I decided to pursue racing in the ARCA Series, U.S. Forensic supported me as an associate sponsor. When I entered into the NASCAR Nationwide Series last season, U.S. Forensic again supported me as an associate sponsor. I'm glad they were able to come on board as a primary sponsor for this event and I'm grateful for their support of me both as an engineer and as a race car driver all these years."


Are you prepared for your return to Richmond International Raceway? 
"Absolutely!" Martin replied. I've been anxiously awaiting my return to the NASCAR Nationwide Series and I'm glad I can get back behind the wheel of the No.44 for this race. This track is especially fun for me because Richmond International Raceway is a short track, which I really enjoy. You can race really well with other cars here, and the high speeds at this track are unbelievable being as how it is considered a short track. It just adds to its uniqueness as one of the raciest tracks on the schedule." Martin added, "This is the first track that I'm returning to as a NASCAR Nationwide Series driver this season. I look forward to being up to speed when we unload and work hard on perfecting the setup on our #44 U.S. Forensic Toyota Camry."
Managing Partner Gary Bell of U.S. Forensic on Partnership with Martin at Richmond International Raceway 
Bell stated, "When Hal approached us with the opportunity to support his racing career in NASCAR, we were excited to extend our assistance to a past member of the U.S. Forensic family. We enjoy the opportunity to live our dreams vicariously through Hal and his mechanical engineering /driving abilities. We're really excited to see Hal driving that U.S. Forensic car at Richmond International Raceway - and to watch one of Louisiana's own continue on a great tradition of doing it on his own."
Richmond International Raceway Chassis Information:
This week, the No.44 U.S. Forensic Toyota Camry team will use chassis number 117. This car was last used by Martin at Charlotte Motor Speedway in May, resulting in a 23rd place finish for Martin.
Hal Martin PR

There’s no better way to kick off NASCAR race weekend in Richmond than with a free festival this Thursday, September 5, at Richmond International Raceway. RVA’s Stars of NASCAR Festival features some of the top drivers in a Q&A session with fans, followed by live music from The Killing Daylights. Additionally, RVA food trucks will be on hand, with lots of tasty food options available for purchase.

The Q&A lineup includes these drivers who are eligible for the 2013 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, but have not yet locked in their spot:

  • Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the No. 88 Time Warner Cable Chevrolet
  • Joey Logano, driver of the No. 22 Shell Pennzoil Ford
  • Greg Biffle, driver of the No.16 Scotchgard Ford
  • Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 78 Furniture Row/Sealy Chevrolet
  • Jeff Gordon, driver of the No. 24 Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet
  • Martin Truex Jr., driver of the No. 56 NAPA Auto Parts Toyota
  • Ryan Newman, driver of the No. 39 Quicken Loans Chevrolet
  • Brad Keselowski, driver of the No. 2 Miller Lite Ford
  • Jamie McMurray, driver of the No. 1 Cessna Chevrolet

In addition to food trucks, beer will be sold. Ten percent of all food truck sales that night will be donated to FeedRVA. Some of the vendors scheduled to participate:


  • Chupacabra (Tex-Mex)
  • Carytown Burgers and Fries (burgers)
  • King of Pops (gourmet popsicles)
  • Mister Softee (ice cream sundaes, cones and shakes)
  • Slideways (sliders and smoothies)
  • Soul Ice (frozen desserts)

Schedule of Events:

4:30 p.m.         Gates open

5:00 p.m.         Food trucks begin serving/bar opens

5:30 p.m.         NASCAR drivers Q&A begins

6:30 p.m.         NASCAR drivers Q&A ends

7:00-8 p.m.      The Killing Daylights perform

Fans may enter RIR at Gate 4, located off of Laburnum Ave. between Carolina Ave. and Meadowbridge Rd.


Dylan Kwasniewski continues to add to his stellar season, picking up his fifth NASCAR K&N Pro Series East (NKNPSE) win of the season and his fourth in the last six races. After starting from the pole and leading two laps early, the Turner Scott Motorsports (TSM) team's strategy was to drop back in the running order early to conserve the tires for late in the race. Kwasniewski worked his No. 98 Rockstar Energy Drink/Royal Purple Chevy back up front to overtake the lead with just 33 circuits remaining in the Kevin Whitaker Chevrolet 140. Kwasniewski didn't look back as he opened up a large lead and went on to take the checkered flag, crossing the finish line 2.650 seconds before the second-place finisher.


The last time the NKNPSE visited Greenville Pickens Speedway, the TSM driver didn't have the best result. Determined to improve on that result and continue his team's dominating 2013 season, the Rockstar Energy Drink/Royal Purple team came back with a stellar setup which allowed Kwasniewski to pick up his third pole of the season.


When the Kevin Whitaker Chevrolet 140 got going, Kwasniewski jumped out to an early lead only to hand it off after two laps in an effort to conserve his tires for later in the 140-lap event. Falling as far back as ninth, Kwasniewski made contact with TSM teammate Kenzie Ruston just before the halfway mark, which caused part of the No. 98 Rockstar Energy/Royal Purple machine's fender to fall off, bringing out a yellow flag on lap 59. Missing a right front fender, Kwasniewski started to make his move back towards the front of the field soon after the race's halfway mark. Kwasniewski took over the top spot in his No. 98 Chevrolet on lap 107 and for the remaining 33 laps, Kwasniewski never looked back as he drove to his fifth victory of the season. Following the victory, the TSM driver has opened up a 40-point margin on his closest competitor in the Driver Points Standings with just four events remaining.


"Everybody on my Rockstar Energy Drink/Royal Purple team worked to give me a great car," said Kwasniewski. "We came in having a lot of confidence that we could win this race, we just needed to make sure we saved our tires for late in the race and that's what we did. I just can't thank everyone at Turner Scott Motorsports enough for their hard work."


FOX Sports 1 will televise The Kevin Whitaker Chevrolet 140 on Sunday, September 22 at 12 p.m. EDT.


The NKNPSE has a few weeks off before returning to action again on Saturday, September 21 for the North American Power 100 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.



Dylan Kwasniewski dominating season just keeps rolling along.

The 18-year-old from Las Vegas won for the fourth time in the last six NASCAR K&N Pro Series East races – and for the fifth time this season – as he took the checkered flag in Monday's Kevin Whitaker Chevrolet 140.

Kwasniewski's No. 98 Royal Purple/Rockstar Energy Drink Chevrolet finished 2.650 seconds over runner-up Daniel Suárez.

Suárez led a race-high 64 laps and was followed across the line by rookie Gray Gaulding in third.

Kwasniewski is the defending NASCAR K&N Pro Series West champion and current East points leader. He's looking to become the first driver to win the two series in consecutive years. He pushed his lead to 40 points over Brett Moffitt, who finished ninth, with four races remaining.

Earlier in the day, Kwasniewski picked up his third 21 Means 21 Pole Award presented by Coors Brewing Co. He lost the lead on Lap 3 to Suárez and dropped as far back as ninth, and then just as quickly moved up through the field. Kwasniewski took the lead from Jeremy Burns on lap 107 and led to the end.

Eddie MacDonald and Mackena Bell were fourth and fifth, respectively.

Ben Rhodes, Jesse Little, Kenzie Ruston, Moffitt and Ben Kennedy rounded out the top 10. Kennedy is third in points and at 53 back, meaning Moffitt is the only driver within a race of Kwasniewski.

The Kevin Whitaker Chevrolet 140 will air on FS1 on Sunday, Sept. 22 at noon.

The NASCAR K&N Pro Series East returns to the track Saturday, Sept. 21 for the North American Power 100 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.


For the first time ever, NASCAR and ESPN are working together to launch an integrated marketing campaign to elevate the 10th Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup on ESPN. The Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup is NASCAR’s version of the playoffs, where the sport’s top 12 drivers compete to become the next NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion. With the tagline “12 Drivers. 1 Champion.,” the multi-platform initiative debuted on ESPN on Sept. 2 with a series of brand spots. The first one, “Generations,” is a 30-second ad that features five-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson and the likenesses of some of NASCAR’s greatest legends, including three-time champion Cale Yarborough, “The King” Richard Petty and seven-time champion Dale Earnhardt Sr. The campaign highlights the elevated stakes and significance of the Chase and the opportunity drivers have to build a legacy through the 10-race postseason.

“With this campaign, we want to create as much buzz and momentum going into the 10 races – if you’re a fan, you feel what it means to be a part of it,” said Emeka Ofodile, senior director of marketing at ESPN.  “The Chase is big – it’s the playoffs – our goal is to make it feel that way.”

Discussions between NASCAR and ESPN about a joint marketing effort began in 2012. In early 2013, ESPN, in collaboration with creative agency Wieden + Kennedy New York, and NASCAR, along with their creative agency Ogilvy and Mather, joined forces to identify a single Chase message: “12 Drivers, 1 Champion.” This is the first time NASCAR is aligning with a rights holder network to develop a marketing campaign.

The joint campaign will introduce four TV spots, two produced by ESPN and two by NASCAR, as well as print, radio and local market executions at each of the ten Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup tracks. Additionally, the initiative will feature mobile and digital elements along with an extensive social media program called #Fandorsements.

“ESPN has played an integral role in our efforts to reach new fans,” said Kim Brink, vice president of marketing at NASCAR. “12 Drivers, 1 Champion.’ uses a pivotal time in the NASCAR season to articulate the intensity and complexity of the sport of stock car racing. We hope that the vivid imagery will convey to consumers the diligence and skill that it takes to rise to the top, demonstrating the unpredictable and dramatic nature of The Chase, the hardest championship in all of sports to win.”

#Fandorsements will be the social photo contest that allows fans to “endorse” their favorite Chase driver by submitting an original picture of their drivers’ number through Instagram or Twitter using the hashtag #Fandorsements. Each week during the Chase, a new winner will be selected and will have his/her social media handle appear above their favorite Chase driver’s passenger window in that week’s race. For more information, visit

Nine of the 10 races in the 2013 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup will air on ESPN and WatchESPN, with the Saturday night, Oct.12, race at Charlotte Motor Speedway airing on ABC. The full schedule is available on ESPN MediaZone.

The final 12 drivers in the playoff will be determined during the final regular season race of the season at Richmond International Raceway on Saturday, Sept. 7, at 7:30 p.m. ET on ABC, Performance Racing Network Radio and SiriusXM Satellite Radio.


Matt Crafton and his No. 88 Ideal Door / Menards Toyota team are much too competitive to be happy with their 10th-place finish in Sunday's inaugural NASCAR Camping World Truck Series event at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park.


But the bottom line is, by evading the mayhem that ensued on the last lap -- including a classic short-track bump-and-win move by Chase Elliott -- the Truck Series' championship leader Crafton scored his 14th consecutive top-10 finish this season, and in the process dropped only two points to his closest title contender, defending series champion James Buescher.


Buescher, who led the race's first two laps from the pole position, is now 47 points behind Crafton with eight races left this season and heading to next Sunday's race at Iowa Speedway -- where Crafton earlier this season finished sixth.


Crafton, who's led the standings for the last 10 races, was concerned about the wild-card aspect of the Canadian event, the Truck Series' first road-course race since 2000 and thus Crafton's first road race in a Camping World truck.


But after the fact, both he and crew chief Carl "Junior" Joiner expressed regret at de-tuning their Tundra's engine to benefit their fuel mileage.


"I'm glad it's over, to tell you the truth," Joiner said on CTMP's pit road while dispute after dispute between drivers that collided on the 2.459-mile racetrack during the event played on the big-screen video monitor in the infield behind Crafton's pit stall.


"We didn't have a lot of speed in our truck because we gave up a little bit of power in our motor to get better fuel mileage and it wasn't a fuel-mileage race for us, after all. I don't believe I'll ever do that again because our Triad motors have plenty of

horsepower every week, and we need to use it."


Sunday's race was a true road-race cornucopia of strategies, with some lead trucks diving to pit road as early as the sixth of 64 laps for fuel. Crafton pitted for the first time a couple laps later under the race's first caution.That was the root of Joiner's deepest frustration.


"We pitted real early and that kind of got us off-sequence and we had to get back on-sequence," Joiner said. "I thought we were going to be in good shape at one point but you just can't predict how the cautions are going to fall at one of these (road) races or what's going to happen, either (laughing at a highlight on the video screen)."


At one point late in the race, following a restart in which he lined up seventh but quickly fell back to 14th, Crafton expressed disgust over his radio, saying he was getting passed "like I was tied to a pole."


But in the end, he was more relieved to have only the season's last true "wild card" event, at Talladega Superspeedway in October, remaining.


"I enjoyed this racetrack and felt like the more laps we ran, the better we were getting," Crafton said. "What my ThorSport guys did to improve this truck is what we've been doing all season. We've just got to get a little better, yet."


But all in all that didn't diminish the pride they felt at leaving Canada with a sizeable point lead after scrambling through another weekend of varying degrees of success. After Joiner and Crafton weren't very pleased with their truck's performance in more than four hours of Friday practice, the crew came in extra-early Saturday morning with NASCAR's blessing.


"We worked our tails off, I can tell you that -- as bad-to-the-bone as our guys always are," Joiner said of their 5:45 a.m. arrival. "We rebuilt virtually our whole Menards Toyota Tundra, from the suspension up.


"We've just got to start getting better through the whole weekend. We had good speed at Michigan and Bristol but we're going to hit our stride right here because we're coming to some tough racetracks, but they're good for us." 


The race's final caution, which flew with six laps left when ThorSport Racing teammate Johnny Sauter's No. 98 Carolina Nut Co. / Curb Records Toyota stalled on-course, inched Crafton closer to the top-10 but put him in position to show just what contending for this championship means to all of ThorSport.


"Nobody drives harder, or smarter week-in and week-out than Matt does, and we all know that," Joiner said. "He didn't give up and we don't give up and we ended up with a top-10 out of it when all that craziness went-down at the end."


"I couldn't have driven any harder, all day," Crafton said. "My guys did a great job in the pits and that last lap just shows that you better take care of everything you can, because sometimes you just don't know what's going to happen."


Thorsport PR


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