Speedway Digest Staff

Speedway Digest Staff

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It’s only fitting that with all of the changes around Kansas Speedway this summer, that a band with a hit song called “Change,” perform the pre-race concert for the Hollywood Casino 400. Multi-platinum rock band Candlebox will perform at approximately 11:20 AM on Oct. 21.

“I’m excited that we were able to get Candlebox for our prerace concert,” said Kansas Speedway President Pat Warren. “They have been building their sound and following for the past 20 years and I know they will provide our fans a great concert prior to the Hollywood Casino 400. It will be a great way to kick off the day.”

Candlebox released their latest album,Love Stories & Other Musings, on April 3, 2012, 21 years after the band formed in Seattle. The album evidences a newfound level of maturity for the band and at the same time, listening to it with the volume turned up reveals that the band remains filled with their youthful exuberance that marked their first go-round in the 1990s, a decade during which they ran off a string off alt-rock classics while selling north of five million albums.

Love Stories & Other Musings features nine new songs, along with crisp re-recordings of five of the band’s best-loved ‘90s hits, including the classics “Far Behind,” “Cover Me,” “You,” and “Change,” comprising a bountiful bonus for their diehard fans.

KS PR

For the Dad that enjoys the high-speed thrills and excitement that only NASCAR racing at Atlanta Motor Speedway can offer, AMS brings families a deep discount for Dad this Father’s Day with racing under the lights this Labor Day weekend.

Fans can purchase an Upper Champions grandstand ticket, one of the best seats in the house, to both the NASCAR Nationwide Series event on Saturday, Sept. 1 and the AdvoCare 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race on Sunday, Sept. 2 for just $149, a savings of $111. This affordable package also includes a Sunday pit pass, getting Dad down close to the action just prior to the stars of the Sprint Cup Series doing battle on the historic 1.54-mile high banks at AMS.

The Upper Champions grandstand is in prime location for the race fan looking to take everything that surrounds the event. Upper level seating in the Champions grandstand affords the attendee a birds-eye view of the speedway, allowing them to see every move on the track as the daylight turns to darkness and the lights illuminate the track.

The Champions grandstand is also located along the speedway’s frontstretch, giving fans an unobstructed view of pit lane, where many races are won or lost as pit stops are made. These seats are also right at the start-finish line, so fans can see every gripping moment as the drivers battle late in the race, and another close “Atlanta finish” plays out.

These seats will also allow for great viewing of the Fast Cars & Guitars pre-race concert featuring Montgomery Gentry on Sunday, Sept. 2. Following the concert, each driver in the 43-car field will be introduced to the crowd on the same stage, allowing Dad to wave to each driver as they greet those in attendance, just prior to the green flag.

Quantities of this special $149 deal are limited, and fans are encouraged to act quickly to lock in their discounted rate. Give Dad a high-speed Father’s Day this year with Atlanta Motor Speedway!

AMS PR

There will be a special moment before Sunday’s NASCAR race at Michigan International Speedway for two of Mark Martin’s crew members and probably dozens of others in the sport.

MIS is one of three tracks in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series that plays the Canadian national anthem along with the Star Spangled Banner as part of its pre-race ceremonies.

The playing of “O Canada” has special meaning to Mike “Nook” McCarville, a native of Prince Edward Island, and Toronto’s Glenn Shano who travel the NASCAR circuit each weekend as part of the No. 55 Aaron’s Dream Machine crew at Michael Waltrip Racing.

“I’ll have guys on my team look at me and tell me to make sure to stand at attention,” laughed McCarville, a shock specialistand 14-year Sprint Cup veteran. “Everyone looks to me. It’s kind of like a hockey game with both anthems. It’s all good-natured ribbing, but they understand that it’s special to me.”

Michigan International Speedway says nearly 20 percent of its fan base hails from Canada. The track is about 90 miles from Windsor, Ontario. Few think of Canada as a hotbed for stock car talent, but the list of Canadian drivers starting NASCAR events exceeds 50, including Earl Ross who won at Martinsville in 1974.

There were many driving greats who never made it to NASCAR including Shano’s first racing hero, Canadian Norm Lelliott.

“People in Canada love racing,” said Shano, who finished second in the Freightliner Run Smart Driver Challenge and third in the Pilot Flying J Truck Driver Challenge in 2012.

“There’s strong racing at the local level. I got started working on my dad’s two race cars in the 1960s at places like CNE, Pinecrest and Cayuga Speedways. Everyone I know follows racing in Canada. You get out in the country and you see just as many NASCAR license plates and decals as you do in North Carolina.

MWR

More than 50 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series haulers will rumble through the streets of Sacramento at the 2ndNASCAR Hauler Parade, June 21.

The NASCAR haulers, which will be en route to Sonoma for the Toyota Save Mart 350, June 22-24, will make their way over the Tower Bridge and around the State Capitol to greet Northern California NASCAR fans ready for big race in Sonoma.

You can expect to see haulers from Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart, Jimmie Johnson and every other driver on the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series circuit. This marks the second ever hauler parade in Northern California and raceway officials are thrilled to bring it to Sacramento, home to our most avid race fans.

The parade will begin promptly at 2 p.m.  on Thursday, June 21, as the haulers depart their staging area and cross the Tower Bridge, heading for the State Capitol. The route is as follows:

  • Cross Tower Bridge and drive up Capitol Mall.
  • Right turn on 9th Street.
  • Left turn on N Street.
  • Left turn on 16th Street.
  • Left turn on L Street.
  • Haulers will then be directed to the freeway and head South on Hwy. 80 to the raceway in Sonoma, where they will be parked in the garage for the race weekend.

Race fans can catch the haulers all along the parade route, but are encouraged to head to L and 11th streets for the best view. The raceway will have a display there, as well as the popular Raceway Girls, giveaways and tickets for the big race.  This will be the heart of the action.

Mark Thursday, June 21, on your calendar so that we can give the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series a raucous Sacramento welcome as the 50 haulers rumble through town.  Be sure to download the parade map on racesonoma.com, which lists the route, as well as best viewing points.

Sonoma Raceway PR

Shell-Pennzoil Dodge driver AJ Allmendinger enters this weekend’s Quicken Loans 400 at Michigan International Speedway knowing what the major news topic will be.  He expects the adjective “fast” to get monumental use from the beginning of Thursday’s 8:00 a.m. test session on throughout Sunday’s 400-mile race.

 “Michigan has always been a basic, really fast two-mile oval and with the new repaving it will be much faster,” said Allmendinger, who will be making his 10th career start at MIS in Sunday’s battle.  “Just how much greater the speeds we will run?  That’s the big question heading there and everyone is curious to find out.

 “The qualifying record will fall at Michigan on Saturday; that’s pretty much a given,” Dinger added.  “Based on what we saw at Pocono last week, it will be really interesting to see how much the old record is beaten by and how many drivers can do it.  Of course everyone will be talking about the high speeds we are taking into the corner.”

The current track record at MIS is 194.232 mph (37.069 seconds), set by Ryan Newman in qualifying for the June 2005 race.  Kurt Busch drove the Shell-Pennzoil Dodge to the Coors Light Pole in last June’s race with a one-lap speed of 188.699 mph (38.156 seconds).

Last weekend at Pocono Raceway, the NASCAR premier series also attacked a brand new racing surface.  Joey Logano established the new track qualifying record there of 179.598 mph (50.112 seconds).  That obliterated the old record of 172.533 mph (52.164 seconds) that dated back to 2004. The top-36 qualifiers broke the old track record in last Saturday’s session.

Matt Kenseth, the 2003 Sprint Cup Champion, was among the five drivers participating in the April tire testing at MIS for Goodyear.  When pressed for his reaction on the speeds the cars were running, he responded, “Probably, I would say fast to too fast.”

 So how fast is “too fast?”

 “I don’t know…I’m not driving,” Shell-Pennzoil Dodge crew chief Todd Gordon answered with a chuckle.  “But seriously, as far as what I am hearing for the top speeds into the corner at Michigan…215 (mph)…some swore they saw 219 (mph) during the tire test there.

 “Our team did not participate in the tire test, but our teammates did,” Gordon said of Brad Keselowski and his Paul Wolfe-led Miller Lite Dodge Team (the Jeff Gordon, Kyle Busch and Juan Pablo Montoya teams also participated).  “We’ve discussed it a lot with them and the consensus is it’s going to be really fast.  I read where Montoya said he had hit 238 at Michigan during his open-wheel days and that at times during the test, his stock car felt faster.”

Gordon certainly wasn’t too shocked by the high speeds seen during the tire test and expected to be seen again this week on the newly repaved 2.0-mile moderate-banked D-shaped race track.

 “With the new surface, it’s to be expected,” said Gordon.  “After all, I saw 209 (mph) at Pocono going into Turn 1.  That’s coming off the longest straightaway we have and going into a tight low-banked turn.  I don’t know if that might be even more demanding than taking the higher speeds into the turns at Michigan.  The bottom line is that NASCAR officials have had no comment about the expected high speeds or any plans to slow the cars down.

 “The faster speeds are a foregone conclusion,” Gordon added.  “What impact that has on the racing there is yet to be seen.  Every time we race at Michigan, you have to consider that fuel mileage may likely figure into the equation.”

 Unlike at Pocono last week where the team’s plan going in was to test one car (the “PRS-814”) and race another (the “PRS-819” – and changed late Thursday afternoon to actually race the test car – the plan is different for Michigan.

 “We’re preparing to utilize the ‘821’ there in Thursday’s testing and use it for the remainder of the weekend,” Gordon said. 

 In nine career Sprint Cup starts at Michigan, Allmendinger is still looking for his first career top-10 there.  He has been running at the finish in all nine of the races and finished on the lead lap six times.  He has completed 96.7 percent of possible laps (1,746 of 1,806).  Overall, Dinger has a 25.7 average start and 21.2 average finish at Michigan. 

As crew chief Gordon pointed out, Allmendinger and crew are scheduled to be racing their “PRS-821” Shell-Pennzoil Dodge Charger in this weekend’s Quicken Loans 400 at Michigan.  This chassis has been raced only once; during the April Samsung Mobile 500 weekend at Texas Motor speedway.  Dinger started 12th and finished 15th in that battle on the 1.5-mile Fort Worth oval.

 TRPR

EGR at Michigan:  In 43 starts at Michigan International Speedway (MIS), EGR drivers have accumulated one win (2007: Sterling Marlin), four top-fives, nine top-10s and have led 207 laps.

Did you know?:  EGR has earned two victories in the ARCA Series at MIS.  In 2003, Casey Mears started from the pole and led 55 of 100 laps to earn EGR’s first ARCA victory.  In 2004, Reed Sorenson rolled off second and led 59 laps en route to victory at MIS.

Watch out:  Kyle Larson, who was announced as a developmental driver for EGR in February, will make his first appearance in the ARCA Racing Series fresh off his first NASCAR K&N Pro Series East win on Saturday, June 9 at Gresham Motorsports Park.  Larson will race the No. 6 Eddie Sharp Racing entry in the RainEater Wiper Blades 200 at MIS, which airs live on SPEED, Friday, June 15 at 5 p.m. ET.

There’s an App for that:  CGRT and SapientNitro SM recently re-launched an updated mobile application, which is one of the first for the high-velocity world of racing.  The application brings fans updated driver and event information, and exclusive content in one centralized and expansive mobile experience, bringing to life the rich heritage and legendary success of CGRT.  The unique mobile application conveys the high-octane rush of the racing experience for a team that competes at the highest levels in three series – NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, IZOD IndyCar Series and GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series.  Click here to visit the iTunes Application store and download the CGRT mobile app.

JAMIE MCMURRAY AND NO. 1 MCDONALD’S TEAM

 

McMurray on Twitter:  Catch the latest from the driver of the No. 1 McDonald’s Chevrolet by following Jamie McMurray’s personal Twitter account, @JamieMcMurray.

Pocono Recap:  The No. 1 Banana Boat Chevrolet started 11th and quickly moved up to the front of the field, where McMurray led three times for 14 laps during the 160-lap race.  The No. 1 team focused on fuel strategy to keep McMurray in position should the race come down to a battle of fuel mileage.  Crew chief Kevin “Bono” Manion had McMurray on a different pit cycle than some of the leaders hoping for a long green flag run, that would force many others to need one additional fuel stop.  However, two cautions in the last 25 laps benefited those teams that were gambling on fuel mileage.  McMurray would still battle to a 10th-place finish, gaining nine positions in the final 15 laps.

McMurray at Michigan:  In 18 starts at MIS, McMurray has earned one top-five, four top-10s and led 14 laps.  He has an average start of 25 and an average finish of 19.5.  His best start is second in 2010, while his best finish is fourth in 2004.

Pass and Go:  McMurray ranks first in the number of green flag passes in the last 14 races at MIS.  The driver of the No. 1 Chevrolet has completed 1,249 passes, which is 91 more passes than the driver ranked second.

Cowboy up!: Stop by the McDonald’s Rock and Race Concert Saturday evening at Michigan International  The concert will feature Big $ Rich with special guests Cowboy Troy and Bradley Gaskin.  The multi-platinum and Grammy-nominated duo will headline the always popular and free post-race concert in Lot 10 on June 16. The concert will begin shortly after the Alliance Truck Parts 250 NASCAR Nationwide Series race.

Golden Arches:  There’s no reason to go hungry while visiting Michigan International Speedway this week.  McDonald’s is conveniently located within two miles of the track at 306 South Main Street, Brooklyn, MI.

 

JUAN PABLO MONTOYA AND THE NO. 42 TARGET TEAM

Montoya on Twitter:  Catch the latest from the driver of the No. 42 Target Chevrolet by following Montoya’s personal Twitter account, @jpmontoya.

Pocono Recap:  The No. 42 Chevrolet started 17th and unfortunately brushed the wall as the Pocono 400 went green flag racing.  The Target team brought the car down pit road multiple times for repairs and adjustments.  Pit strategy fell into place as the laps continued.  Montoya and the Target team stayed out on track as two caution flags flew in the closing laps and battled it out until the end.  When the checkered flag waved, the No. 42 was credited with 17th.

Montoya at Michigan:  In 10 starts at MIS, Montoya has earned two top-10 finishes.  He has an average start and finish of 17.4 and 23.2, respectively.  His best start came in the summer of 2009, when the driver of the No. 42 Chevrolet rolled off third, while his best finish of sixth came in the spring of 2009.

Going for a Test Drive:  After the recent repave at MIS, Montoya participated in a Goodyear tire test in April.  Montoya commented, “This place is fast, I mean, fast, fast.  Our minimum speed was over 180 mph into the corner and we are doing over 210 mph at the end of the straight.  For a car like this it’s really, really quick. It’s a lot of fun.”

Like a Rock:  The No. 42 Target pit crew will be at the Chevy display on Sunday, June 17 at 9:30 a.m. ET to sign autographs.  Also, keep an eye out for Montoya, who is featured in national Chevrolet advertisements, which recently debuted.  This year marks the beginning of the fourth season EGR has partnered with Chevrolet in the NSCS.  This is Montoya’s first appearance in a national Chevrolet advertisement. 

Hit the Bullseye:  On the way to Michigan International Speedway this weekend, stop by Target for all of your race-day essentials.  Target is located at 1076 Jackson Crossing, Jackson, MI.  Call ahead and make sure they have what you need at 517-788-3900.

CHASSIS INFO

No. 1 McDonald’s Chevrolet (NSCS): Chassis #1208.  Crew Chief Kevin “Bono” Manion and the No. 1 McDonald’s team will bring Chassis #1208 to Michigan International Speedway this weekend.  This chassis has raced this season at Las Vegas and Kansas finishing eighth and 14th, respectively.  Most recently, this chassis raced in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway, finishing 21st.

No. 42 Target Chevrolet (NSCS):  Chassis #1209.  Crew Chief Chris “Shine” Heroy and the No. 42 Target team will bring Chassis #1209 to Michigan International Speedway this weekend.  This is the first race for this chassis.

EGR PR

For the sixth time this year, Kurt Busch prepares to climb into the seat of his brother's No. 54 Monster Energy Camry, this time for the Alliance Truck Parts 250 from a newly paved and anticipated fast Michigan International Speedway (MIS) in Brooklyn. The elder Busch brother, who has been successful at the track, nestled in the Irish Hills of Michigan, is looking to build upon a string of strong runs for the upstart NASCAR Nationwide Series team.

 

Busch has two NASCAR Sprint Cup Series victories at the two-mile fast track, visiting Victory Lane in August of 2007 and June of 2003. The Las Vegas native started sixth, led 36 laps but was relegated to a 21st-place finish after being involved in a late accident, in his lone Nationwide Series start in 2006. As a rookie in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, Busch led two laps and brought home a runner-up finish at Michigan in 2000.

 

Busch isn't the only Monster Energy team member with a positive track record at the historic Michigan facility. Crew chief Mike Beam has earned, over this career, one pole and led laps across all three top-tier NASCAR Series at MIS. Beam was the winning crew chief in last year's NNS race and also registered Truck Series wins in 2009 and 2007.

 

The Kyle Busch Motorsports (KBM) chassis under Busch will be the same car raced at two other intermediate-size tracks this season, Auto Club Speedway, in Fontana, Calif. and Darlington (S.C.) Raceway. The No. 54 Camry achieved eighth-place finishes at both tracks with Kyle at Fontana and Kurt at Darlington. The young Nationwide Series team has reworked the car and is ready to tackle the two-mile newly paved track which is expected to produce high speeds and make for exciting racing conditions.

 

Kurt Busch, Driver of the No. 54 NASCAR Nationwide Series Monster Energy Camry:

How do you feel about the No. 54 car at Michigan International Speedway?

"It's a little bit of an unknown, considering the track's new surface. I know one thing, the track will be fast and I feel we'll be 'wide open'-I'm looking forward to it."

 

Besides tackling the new surface, what are you looking forward to this weekend?

"I enjoy racing in the Nationwide Series and with my brother's team. I've seen how we have progressed and know we are right on the edge of pulling off another win together. I'm ready to go for it!"

 

Mike Beam, Crew Chief of the No. 54 NASCAR Nationwide Series Monster Energy Camry:

Thoughts on racing a newly paved Michigan International Speedway?

"Going to Michigan is a big race for us and in how we are progressing. With the new pavement there are so many unknowns, but I feel we are prepared for this track. The secret will be to have the least amount of aero drag and still have enough down force to help the vehicle handle. We were in the wind tunnel last week and have a lot of options for this car, which is exciting."

 

You mentioned the level of progression for this young team, what are your expectations for the middle of the race season?

"Hopefully, we can get back to Victory Lane. I think it's realistic. Everyone is working hard and together as a team. We have been close the last couple of weeks and now we need to go to the next level. Being associated with teams that have won in the 'Motor City,' I know how important this race is. This KBM team will give it our best and limit our mistakes, so we should have a good race. I know Kurt will bring his A-Game and it will be fun!"


KBM PR

"We have met with Kurt. At the end of the day, we are racers so we're going racing together with Kurt and the #51 Phoenix Racing Chevrolet. We know adjustments have to be made but how we fix that is between Kurt and myself. We're going to go to the track, work hard, race hard and work on trying to attract a sponsor  and we're going to do that together."

Phoenix Racing PR

Since the early years of NASCAR, racing sons and grandsons have celebrated Father’s Day virtually every weekend.

It’s a family sport where the love of racing (and talent) have been passed from generation to generation.

Richard Petty became the first son to win a NASCAR premier series race in which his father also ran. His first of a record 200 victories came on Feb. 28, 1960 at the Southern States Fairgrounds in Charlotte, N.C. The elder Petty, a NASCAR Hall of Famer like his son, won the pole but finished 20th.

Lee Petty, however, scored 16 victories competing against his son between 1958 and 1964. Richard Petty got the better of his father just five times.

Other fathers and sons who won races head-to-head in NASCAR’s premier series include Richard and Kyle Petty, Bobby and Davey Allison, Dale and Dale Earnhardt Jr., and Buck and Buddy Baker.

Baker, co-host of a show on SIRIUSXM NASCAR Radio, recalls the day he decided to follow in the footsteps of his two-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion father. The elder Baker had just won the 1953 Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway. Children did not go to Victory Lane in those days and Baker, then 12-years old, watched the celebration from under the track’s flag stand.

“I thought maybe I’ll get the same opportunity someday,” said the younger Baker, who won the Southern 500 in 1970. He won one race in which he competed against his father, at Talladega Superspeedway in 1976.

“I thought it would be a great feeling but it wasn’t,” said Baker. “He was my hero growing up.” The elder Baker, then 57 and in his final year of competition, told him, “If it makes you feel any better, at my age I can still beat your butt.”

Buck Baker, who’ll be inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame in February 2013, died in 2002. “I still miss him every day,” his son said.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. is the only current NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver to have traded victories with his NASCAR Hall of Fame father.

“He’s taught me a lot of things by watching him on the race track,” said Dale Jr. prior to making his first start against his father in a NASCAR Sprint Cup car at a non-points race in 1998 at Motegi, Japan. “But the things he taught me off the race track have profited me more than the things I have learned on it.”

Earnhardt Jr., whose grandfather Ralph also raced in NASCAR’s premier series, won a race his father was in for the first time at Texas Motor Speedway in 2000, the season before his father’s untimely passing in the 2001 Daytona 500. Coincidentally, Earnhardt Jr.’s last win came on Father’s Day, June 15, 2008, at Michigan International Speedway, site of this weekend’s Quicken Loans 400.

After claiming victory on that memorable day, an introspective Earnhardt Jr. said, "It's special. You know, my daddy, he meant a lot to me. There's a lot of people that I look up to that just happen to be great fathers themselves, role models for their sons. It means a lot to me to do well on Father's Day. It's a special day for my family, special for my sister. She's very, very happy at home and in tears on the telephone so it means a lot to her. I'm glad she's as happy as she could possibly be today under the circumstances. And it makes me feel good. I know I can't tell my father Happy Father's Day but I get the opportunity to wish it upon all of the other fathers out there, and I genuinely mean that when I say it, because that's what today is all about.  It's for all of the fathers out there."

Speaking of third generation drivers, Austin Dillon makes his second NASCAR Sprint Cup Series start on Sunday at Michigan. His grandfather, Richard Childress, drove in 17 Michigan races with four top-10 finishes. Childress’s cars count three victories at Michigan International Speedway most recently in 2010 with Kevin Harvick. Dillon’s father, Mike Dillon, competed in five NASCAR Nationwide Series races at the 2.0-mile track.

David Gilliland, who also competes in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, will induct his father, Butch Gilliland, into the West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame on June 21 prior to the event at Sonoma, Calif. The elder Gilliland is a former NASCAR K&N Pro Series West champion.

“I was lucky to grow up in racing and really that’s all I’ve ever wanted to do from the first time I remember going to the race track, hanging on the fence and watching my dad,” said Gilliland, who ultimately became his father’s crew chief. “And then I got to be in the pits and work on his car and everything.

“It was special growing up with him in racing.”

The next wave of talent about to break into NASCAR’s national series includes a trio of competitors whose fathers long have been an integral part of the industry. Chase Elliott’s father, Bill Elliott, is a former NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion. Corey LaJoie, a NASCAR K&N Pro Series East winner, learned at the knee of two-time NASCAR Nationwide Series champion Randy LaJoie. Ryan Blaney is the son of NASCAR Sprint Cup driver and open-wheel champion Dave Blaney.

Elliott, 16, was 6-years-old when the racing bug bit. He remembers some of his father’s major victories including the Brickyard 400 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

“It was very cool to be part of that,” said the Hendrick Motorsports development driver. “He’s been pretty much at all my races and he spots for me in practice. I had a chance to race against him in the Denny Hamlin race in Richmond (in 2011) and he got caught up in a wreck on the first lap so we didn’t get a chance to race each other.”

The elder LaJoie, who manufactures seats found in many NASCAR cars, at first, discouraged his son from competing. “He actually tried to get me to become a golfer and not be a race car driver because he told me it would be hard,” said Corey LaJoie, 20.

“He got me a set of golf clubs but I never wanted to do it. I just wanted to get in a go-kart and go around in circles. A lot of stuff that’s ingrained in my brain is from him not going on to the Cup level on Sunday so he could stay back and teach me and my brother how to race."

Ryan Blaney, 18, won the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West season finale last November in Phoenix. He finished eighth in his NASCAR Nationwide Series debut last month at Richmond International Raceway and is the third generation of his family to compete in some type of motorsports.

“You’ve got so many people you can ask about what they see and they’ve got the racer’s intellect,” said Blaney. “It’s definitely a big help that I’ve got somebody that thinks like that and they’re really close to me that I can talk to them always.

“The only (disadvantage) would be not living up to what they’ve done already. If anything, that kind of motivates me to be better than they are and to achieve more.”

NASCAR PR

Two-hundred and thirty-seven years ago, our Nation’s leaders established the Continental Army, beginning a rich heritage of successfully defending this great country and her citizens.

This weekend at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, Ryan Newman and Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) will help celebrate the continued honor, loyalty and bravery of our Soldiers in this noble calling as Newman takes the No. 39 U.S. Army Chevrolet into the Quicken Loans 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race Sunday.

Since its inception in June 1775, the U.S. Army has served as the backbone of our Nation. And since taking the wheel of the Soldiers’ car in 2009, Newman has had the opportunity to witness first-hand the courage and selfless service of the Army Strong Soldiers he represents. South Bend, Ind., native Newman wears the U.S. Army logo that adorns the chest of his uniform and the hood of his racecar with great pride.

As such, a victory in the Quicken Loans 400 would be the ultimate “thank you” Newman could offer, something Newman has done 16 times in his Sprint Cup career, twice at Michigan.

Those Michigan wins came in successive visits to the 2-mile, D-shaped oval (August 2003 and June 2004). In 2003, Newman started on the outside pole and led 32 laps en route to the win. In 2004, he started fourth and led 22 laps on his way to taking the checkered flag. Augmenting those triumphs is a pole (June 2005) and five top-five and seven top-10 finishes in 22 career Sprint Cup starts.

Yet after those back-to-back wins, Newman struggled in his return trips to Michigan. He found very little luck in the Irish Hills, as no more top-10s were recorded until last season.

In 2011, Newman and Co. took a page from its U.S. Army counterparts, where its Soldiers put the mission first with a never-quit attitude and a refusal to accept defeat. Together with crew chief Tony Gibson, Newman refocused and analyzed his past performances at Michigan and devised a chassis setup that worked for the racetrack and his aggressive driving style. Their collective fortitude paid off in 2011, as Newman earned a sixth-place finish in June and a fifth-place result in August.

A new challenge awaits the U.S. Army Racing Team at Michigan – fresh pavement. The fresh grip that will be available through the newly repaved track’s sweeping corners has enabled drivers in recent testing to tour the 2-mile oval at speeds of up to 215 mph approaching the corners, which is roughly 25 mph faster than the average pole speed for the Sprint Cup race at Michigan last August.

Newman and Gibson will again take a page from their U.S. Army brethren where, in the face of white-knuckle speeds, they’ll maintain the strength to complete the mission, which is winning the race. And that, on the 237th birthday of the U.S. Army, would be icing on the cake.

TSC