Speedway Digest Staff

Speedway Digest Staff

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It is still early in the racing season, but some are already showing their muscle for the 2012 ASA Member Track National Championship.  So far, it is a good mix of stock car and open wheel competitors vying for the 2012 title.
 
Shelby Stroebel has a perfect record going so far this season at Meridian Speedway, an ASA Member Track in Meridian, ID. The 2011 track champion is already on a roll in 2012 as he has won every feature event so far this season.  He sits at the top of the National Championship standings with an average of 1.6381.
 
Mike Slone is also off to a great start in his ASA Late Model season at Lebanon I-44 Speedway, an ASA Member Track in Lebanon, MO.  He won the first two feature events of the season and sits at the top of their track standings.  He is second overall in the national standings with an average of 1.5481.
 
Dustin Rumley, who finished second in the 2010 ASA Member Track National Championship standings, didn’t have a great 2011 season and hoped to turn that around in 2012.  Well, he has as he won the last two Late Model feature events at Ace Speedway, an ASA Member Track in Altamahaw, NC, so far this season. He is third overall with an average of 1.3866.
 
Michael Hale is defending his Maverik Modified championship at Rocky Mountain Raceways, an ASA Member Track in West Valley City, UT.  He is already off to a great start this season with two wins and is fourth overall in the standings with an average of 1.2743.
 
Wayne Webb is off to a solid start this season at Newport Motor Speedway, an ASA Member Track in Newport, TN.  He currently leads the standings and is fifth overall in the National standings with an average of 1.0342.

ASA Racing PR
 
Lance Gatlin has been on a roll at Lonesome Pine Raceway, an ASA Member Track in Coeburn, VA, in their Limited Late Model division.  He is sixth overall with an average of 0.8359.
 
Mark Mackesy is just getting his season underway at State Park Speedway, an ASA Member Track in Wausau, WI.  He already has one win and one second.  His National average so far is 0.7918.
 
“This is our fifth year of doing the ASA Member Track National Championship, and it is great to see how competitive this has become,” Dennis Huth, ASA President said.  “Our ASA Member Track promoters are now creating their season schedules to make sure that their drivers have the best opportunity to win the national title.  I think this could be a very competitive competition this year. It will be fun to watch.”
 
Throughout the season, drivers competing in the premiere divisions at eligible ASA Member Tracks are in the running for the 2012 ASA Member Track National Championship.  In order to have a chance for the national title, a driver must first win their 2012 track championship.
 
Speednetdirect.com, for the fifth year in a row, will tabulate the National Championship standings.  Using a proprietary formula that creates an average based on wins, finishing positions, number of cars passed, car counts and events.  The driver who wins their track championship and has the highest average over the other ASA Member Track champions will win the 2012 ASA Member Track National Championship.
 
Full standings are available at www.speednetdirect.com.   Click on the ASA Member Track logo at the top of the page.

For the second consecutive week, NASCAR Sprint Cup Series teams tested on a newly repaved race track and the reaction coming out of Thursday’s test session at Michigan International Speedway ranged from “holding your breath” to “being quite a rush.”

Speeds exceeded the 200 mile per hour barrier, with four drivers posting fastest lap times in excess of 200 miles per hour in the morning session when conditions were ideal for going fast. Teams arrived a day early to prepare for Sunday’s running of the 44th annual Quicken Loans 400 at MIS (1 p.m., TNT).

Teams tested the new surface at Pocono Raceway June 6-7 and that additional track time helped provide one of the most exciting and competitive races at the “Tricky Triangle” in years, with Joey Logano (No. 20 The Home Depot Toyota) claiming the win. For the first time since 1995, the 2.0-mile layout at MIS received a fresh coat of asphalt – 22,000-tons worth.

Mark Martin (No. 55 Aaron’s Dream Machine Toyota) laid down the fastest average lap in the morning session, clicking off a lap of 201.089 mph. Others that eclipsed the 200 mph mark included Kevin Harvick (No. 29 Budweiser Chevrolet – 200.999), Martin Truex Jr. (No. 56 NAPA Auto Parts Toyota – 200.306), and Dale Earnhardt Jr. (No. 88 Diet Mountain Dew/The Dark Knight Rises/National Guard Chevrolet – 200.206).

In the afternoon session, defending NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Tony Stewart (No. 14 Office Depot/Mobil 1 Chevrolet) ran the fastest lap at 201.896 mph. A total of seven drivers went over the 200-mph mark in the afternoon practice. For the day, Martin had the best 10 consecutive lap average of 197.434 mph.

Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet), the five-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion, described what it felt like navigating the new surface at MIS. “It is quite a rush for the driver to be going this fast,” said Johnson. “There seems to be a good combination with the new surface and the tire that Goodyear brought. I feel comfortable in the car, although it’s still quite the challenge as a driver to get around at these high speeds.”

Robin Pemberton, NASCAR Vice President of Competition, said that the feedback he was receiving from the drivers and teams about the new pavement was positive. “We’re getting good reports from the teams on how the new surface is doing,” said Pemberton. “That, plus the fact that Goodyear has done another outstanding job with picking a good tire for this event, things are shaping up for a really good event here on Sunday.”

Pemberton went on to say that the conditions for the morning test were “optimum for posting the fast speeds.”

“With the cool temperatures (in the 60s) and the track conditions, we’re pretty sure these are the fastest speeds we are going to see at this track,” said Pemberton. “Once the track takes on more rubber and the temperatures go up (temperatures are expected to approach the 90-degree mark this weekend), you should see the speeds go down some.”

Greg Biffle (No. 16 3M-Salute Ford) said that “every lap is like a qualifying lap and you are holding your breath.”

“It’s really, really fast here,” said Biffle, who is currently third in the championship point standings. “The one thing that I have liked seeing is that the track is pretty wide. The groove is all the way up in the middle of the second groove and that is certainly going to help racing around here at those speeds because it gives us some options.”

John Darby, NASCAR Sprint Cup Series director, said that from a technical standpoint, things were checking out well following the morning session. “Just like last week at Pocono, with the new repave, we want to make sure we have the gear ratio correct, cooling issues are nonexistent and from a technical side, all systems are go,” said Darby. “When a track gets a facelift like this, you have to make sure all things check out and we have seen that they do.”

The NASCAR Nationwide Series hits the track Friday at 8:30 a.m. for its first of three practice sessions. NASCAR Sprint Cup Series teams resume practice again tomorrow at 12:30 p.m.

NASCAR PR

Germain Racing is proud to race a Valvoline™-sponsored entry for the first time in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series this weekend at Michigan International Speedway. Previously, the team sported the Valvoline colors in NASCAR’s other two premier divisions. Sunday, veteran driver Casey Mears will wheel the No. 13 Valvoline NextGen™ Ford Fusion around the freshly repaved 2.0-mile oval.

“The Germain family has had a long-standing relationship with Ashland and the Valvoline products in our automobile dealerships. Valvoline has been a long-time supporter of Germain Racing,” explained team owner Bob Germain Jr. “So it's very exciting for us to run the Valvoline NextGen Ford Fusion to help promote the NextGen recycled oil products to NASCAR Sprint Cup Series fans.”

In addition to Michigan, Germain Racing will carry the Valvoline NextGen paint scheme at Ashland’s hometown race track, Kentucky Speedway.

"I'm very glad to have Valvoline NextGen on and in our Ford Fusion this weekend. Valvoline has supported Germain Racing since 2010 but this will be the first time we have run this paint scheme in the Sprint Cup Series. It's also the first of two races for this partnership, in Michigan and Kentucky so I hope that we will be able to have a couple good runs for them,” said Mears. “The NextGen oil is 50-percent recycled so it comes from a better base stock which makes it a better oil as well as a green product to help our environment."

Mears is looking forward to racing at Michigan, although the California native is not sure what his past experience there will bring to the table given the track’s fresh pavement.

"I’ve always enjoyed racing at Michigan,” explained Mears. “I liked driving it in the past because of the way it was paved; you could run the top, middle and bottom. But I don’t know how the repave is going to change that. It has been a decent track for me though and I’ve had some really good runs there—finished 2nd two years in a row in Indy Lights and won a race in ARCA. I’m looking forward to going back.”

Germain Racing PR

In honor of the “NASCAR Unites – An American Salute” program to support members of the U.S. military and their children, Greg Biffle’s 3M Ford will take on a patriotic look this weekend in Michigan.  Biffle’s No. 16 3M Ford is trading in its normal red and black colors to showcase a red, white and blue theme for the Michigan race weekend.  The red, white and blue is part of a NASCAR initiative that kicked off Memorial weekend at Charlotte Motor Speedway and runs through Fourth of July weekend at Daytona.  The program is aimed to unite the NASCAR industry and fans this summer to celebrate America and support U.S. military members and their families.

“We are always proud to show our support for the men and women of our military and I am honored to drive the red, white and blue 3M Ford this weekend in Michigan,” said Biffle.  “The NASCAR Unites program this summer is a great reminder to all of us to thank the members of the armed forces whether it’s in person, with a post card or through a donation.   I hope everyone checks out the website and looks for our special paint scheme this weekend.”

For more information about the “NASCAR Unites – An American Salute” program, please visit www.nascar.com/unites.

RFR PR

If today’s NASCAR Sprint Cup practice session was any indication of things to come, don’t blink or you will certainly miss the fastest weekend in Michigan International Speedway history.

MIS repaved its race track in the fall of 2011 and the results have been met with approval from the drivers. And they can go really fast on the surface.

All 43 drivers who practiced on Thursday posted speeds faster than the track record of 194.232 mph set by Ryan Newman in 2005.

No NASCAR Sprint Cup driver has exceeded 200 mph in qualifying since 1987 when Bill Elliott established the record of 212.809 in April of ’87.

During the open test on Thursday a total of seven drivers exceeded 200 mph, led by Tony Stewart. It could be a record-setting qualifying session on Saturday starting at 1:10 p.m. in preparation for Sunday’s Quicken Loans 400 slated to being at 1 p.m.

Stewart registered a fast lap of 201.896 mph. Also posting speeds of over 200 mph was Greg Biffle (201.556), Kurt Busch (201.174), Kevin Harvick (200.697), Dale Earnhardt, Jr., (200.658) Paul Menard (200.111) and Clint Bowyer (200.078).

“Man, this place is really, really, really fast,” Biffle said. “Every lap is like a qualifying lap. You’re holding your breath. You make about three laps, come in and think about it for a while. The track is so damn wide. That’s why I love racing here.

“We’re definitely going to gain some attention at 218 (going into the first turn). It’s been a long time since we’ve gone that fast.”

Not to be outdone, the ARCA Racing Series also held a practice session Thursday at MIS in preparation for its RainEater Wiper Blades 200 scheduled to start at 5:15 p.m. on Friday. Qualifying is slated to start at 10 a.m. on Friday.

ARCA’s MIS qualifying record of 189.623 mph, set by Cale Gale last year, seems certain to fall by the wayside.

Three drivers exceeded the record led by Kevin Swindell with a speed of 193.143 mph. Matt Lofton (191.149) and Kyle Larson (190.049) also posted practice speeds faster than the current MIS qualifying record.

“It’s quite a rush for the drivers when you go this fast with an average lap time of over 200,” said Jimmie Johnson, who registered the 10th-fastest practice speed of 199.104. “You certainly feel the speed and the comfort is there. This asphalt and tire compound seems to be pretty decent. We wouldn’t be able to run this fast if we didn’t have comfort in the car and not a lot of grip. We’re in a bit of a comfort zone right now as a group because of last week’s experience and our eyes are kind of calibrated for the speed.

“The comfort is in the car but the challenge is still there for the driver. Every lap does feel like a qualifying lap but right now the comfort is there and you complete the lap and kind of giggle and say, ‘I got away with that. It’s pretty awesome.’”

MIS PR

Winning in a Legend Car has been known to launch the career of many professional race car drivers including Kyle Busch, Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Joey Logano, Reed Sorenson and David Ragan.  After his win in last year’s Legends Big Money 100, the biggest event in grassroots racing, 16-year-old Kyle Plott is hoping to become one of those drivers.

At the end of the 2011 race, Plott edged out second-place finisher, NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver and Plott’s car owner, David Ragan. Not even old enough to obtain his driver’s license at the time because he was only 15 years old, Plott took the experience as one to learn from.

“I learned a lot about how to race people and how they will race you in return,” Plott explained.

Adding to the excitement of the win was the fact that Plott had never won at Charlotte Motor Speedway in a Legend Car.  He had won in a Bandolero car and even captured a championship in the Bandits division, but Plott was still looking for that elusive win in Legends racing.

The $25,000 first-place prize all went back into his racing career. Plott’s hope is that the winnings will impact his racing career to the point where he can try and drive in larger-scale divisions; especially if given the opportunity to win the Legends Big Money 100 one more time.

“Hopefully we can win it again this year and run some ARCA races or [NASCAR] K&N Pro Series races,” Plott said.

The Big Money 100 definitely helped Plott’s confidence in his career and boosted his reputation in the garage area and on the track.

“I hope that the other drivers look up to me more and see that I am more confident in myself and my abilities as a race car driver,” Plott said.
Plott also has high hopes for his performance in this year’s Jack in the Box Summer Shootout Series. This is his seventh year racing in the series. Plott started out in Bandoleros and moved on to Legend Cars after his 2007 Bandolero Bandits championship.

Plott especially enjoys racing in the Summer Shootout Series because it takes place at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

“There’s just so much more competition here than at other race tracks,” Plott said. “It’s a lot more intense, and it just means a lot more than any other race track.”

Even though Plott has finished consistently well in the point standings during the past few seasons, including third in 2011, he has never won a Summer Shootout race in a Legend Car. Plott is looking forward to the win that he and his team hope will come this summer, with the ultimate goal being a championship in the Quaker Steak and Lube Legend Car Pro division.

“I’ve won races here but I’ve never won a Legend Car championship,” Plott explained. “So it’d be huge.”

Plott’s success in the Summer Shootout Series has been heightened by his association with David Ragan Inc. After talking with David Ragan’s father Ken about how partnering with Ragan would benefit his career, Plott made the move to the race team in 2010.

“Being on David’s team helps me learn more about the car, how to work on it and how to set it up. It also helps me learn what I need to do on and off the track to be successful.” Ragan himself got his start in Legend Car racing for NASCAR Sprint Cup Series legend Mark Martin.

Plott’s win in the Legend’s Big Money 100 proves that this is a race that could produce another young, first-time winner. Plott’s victory definitely makes him a contender to be feared, but there are many other drivers that could take his title.

Check www.charlottemotorspeedway.com in the coming weeks for Plott’s weekly Driver Diary about his participation in the Legends Big Money 100.

The third annual Legends Big Money 100 will return to Charlotte Motor Speedway, July 2-3. Competitor registration for the event is still open online at http://www.charlottemotorspeedway.com/tickets/legends_big_money_100/. Tickets for the event are $10 for adults per day and children 13 and under get in free.

The 19th annual Jack in the Box Summer Shootout Series continues Tuesday, June 19, with Team Spirit Night and Mascot Mania presented by Old Navy. In addition to the regular racing divisions, fans can see area mascots, including Lug Nut, compete head-to-head in go karts. The first 1,000 fans through the gates get free taco coupons provided by Jack in the Box.

CMS PR

Aspen Dental patient Peter Russo has a lot to smile about this weekend -- his photo will be featured on Ryan Newman’s No. 39 U.S. Army Chevrolet at Sunday’s Quicken Loans 400 race at the Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, MI.

Peter, from Red Hook, NY, is a patient at the Aspen Dental office in Kingston, NY. He was selected to have his smile featured on the car based on a review he wrote at AspenDentalReviews.com.

Peter’s Aspen Dental Review

In his review, Peter shared the following about his experience:

Aspen took me in quick after a broken tooth, and discovered a gum infection. They treated me quickly. Rachel was really proficient at what she does -- she took her time and was thorough. Needless to say I was impressed with her level of care. Dr. Markovitch also stopped in to check and reassure me with personal attention. Even the billing staff were pleasant and personable.

A new Aspen Dental patient has been featured each month on Ryan Newman’s car since April 2012, and will continue throughout the Sprint Cup season. Previous patients featured includedBethany Godin,Amy Navey, andLinda Condor, patients from the Aspen Dental offices in Worcester, MA, Spartanburg, SC, and Elizabethtown, KY, respectively.

Aspen Dental will be the primary sponsor of SHR’s No. 39 Chevrolet with Newman at the July Sprint Cup race at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway and the September race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon. On all other races this season, Aspen Dental is an associate sponsor with placement on the lower-rear quarter panel of the No. 39 Chevrolet and on the upper chest of Newman’s uniform.

Aspen Dental PR

NASCAR fans can save on tickets to the upcoming Pennsylvania 400 on Aug. 5 with the Walmart Family Track Pack. The $99 package gives families four race tickets, four hot dogs, four sodas and one program – a total savings of more than $100.

"We are making races affordable and accessible for fans," said Rand Waddoups, senior director, Entertainment Properties and Brands, Walmart. "The Walmart Family Track Pack is a great value that gives local fans a way to take their whole family to the track together."

Pocono Raceway is the only sports facility in the world that generates 100 percent of its power from a 3MW solar farm, which is located outside of turn 3.

The Walmart Family Track Pack is available online at www.walmart.com/NASCAR and in Ticketmaster kiosks in select stores.

Race Time 2012 at Walmart

In addition to the fan events happening in Walmart parking lots, area Walmart stores will feature savings on all the food and snacks you need to enjoy the race, plus authentic NASCAR merchandise such as T-shirts and racing flags, with an even bigger selection of exclusive products available at Walmart.com/NASCAR.

Beginning Aug. 2 select Walmart stores near the Pocono Raceway will host NASCAR fan events featuring real show cars and racing simulators – perfect to safely get behind the wheel and feel the power of NASCAR.

Additionally, Walmart stores will feature savings on authentic NASCAR merchandise such as T-shirts and racing flags, with even more items available on Walmart.com/NASCAR.

Participating stores near the Pocono Raceway include:

Store #2641
1091 Millcreek Road
Allentown, Pa.

Store #2252
3722 Easton Road
Easton, Pa.

Store #1623
2150 Wilkes Barre Township Marketplace
Wilkes-Barre, Pa.

Store #1884
900 Commerce Blvd.
Dickson City, Pa.

Store #2368
355 Lincoln Ave.
East Stroudsburg, Pa.

Store #2365
500 Route 940
Mount Pocono, Pa.

Walmart PR

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stars Kevin Harvick and Jimmie Johnson visited Florida this week promoting the upcoming Coke Zero 400 Powered By Coca-Cola NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race on Saturday night, July 7 at Daytona International Speedway.

Harvick visits troops at MacDill, throws first pitch at Rays/Mets game.

Harvick, who captured the 2010 Independence Day holiday weekend classic, visited the Tampa-St. Petersburg area on Tuesday. His first stop was at MacDill Air Force Base where he toured a KC-135, a long-range tanker aircraft capable of refueling other aircraft in mid-air, and then participated in a question and answer session with the troops.

“To come out and see this particular aircraft and how it functions and works and how (the troops) work in their environment is something a lot of people don’t get to see first hand,” said Harvick, who drives the No. 29 Budweiser Chevrolet for Richard Childress Racing. “It’s fun to be able to hear straight from the guys that are doing it.”

Following his visit to MacDill Air Force Base, Harvick attended the Tampa Bay Rays-New York Mets baseball game at Tropicana Field. He toured the clubhouse, visited with Ray’s players and manager Joe Maddon, participated in a jersey exchange with All-Star third baseman Evan Longoria and threw the ceremonial first pitch.

Johnson races students, golfs with Orlando media at Disney.

Five-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson visited the Walt Disney World Resort located outside Orlando on Wednesday afternoon.

Johnson joined approximately 40 Daytona Beach-area elementary school children at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. The children participated in athletic drills with select Olympic athletes and NFL players before moving inside to build their Lowe’s Build and Grow race cars.

Johnson participated in a question-and-answer session with the children and then joined them at a 31-degree race track to race the wooden cars.

The driver of the No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet for Hendrick Motorsports then previewed the upcoming 160-lap, 400-mile race with media at Disney’s Palm golf course where his tee shot on the No. 1 hole went straight down the fairway.

“There’s nothing like it,” Johnson said about racing on the 31-degree high banks. “Even if I come run the Rolex 24, the 500, the 400 … whatever it may be, it’s Daytona. It’s such a special race track with so much history. Still today after all the years of racing there, I still drive through the tunnel, kind like a kid, look around and realize that I’m at Daytona.”

DIS PR

Kyle Busch will take aim at a Rowdy 251 three-peat next Tuesday night, June 19, at Berlin Raceway in Marne, Mich. After finishing fifth in the inaugural Champion Racing Association (CRA) Super Series race at the 0.438-mile paved oval in 2009, the race's namesake has taken home the hardware after each of the last two annual events.

"I'm looking forward to the Fourth Annual Rowdy 251 at Berlin and hope to come out of there with my third straight victory," said Busch, who in addition to 105 NASCAR National Series victories has claimed numerous Late Model victories at tracks all across the country. "It won't be an easy task -- this race always brings out great competition. This year you've got the up-and-comers with Chase (Elliott) and Ross (Kenseth), along with all the other guys that drive these cars on a regular basis like Johnny Van Doorn -- who gave me a run for my money last year -- Terry VanHaitsma -- who won out there last week -- and Brian Campbell -- who won the inaugural Rowdy race."

Busch will be behind the wheel of the same No. 51 Kyle Busch Motorsports (KBM) Camry that he won with at last year's Rowdy 251. It is also the same Toyota that the Las Vegas native drove to victory in his lone Super Late Model start this season, the 2012 SpeedFest at Watermelon Capital Speedway in Cordele, Ga.

The KBM Super Late Model team is coming off a successful 2011 season which saw its owner-driver capture wins in three of the biggest Super Late Model events of the year; the Rowdy 251 at Berlin Raceway in Marne, Mich., the Slinger Nationals at Slinger Super Speedway in Slinger, Wisc. and the Oxford 250 at Oxford Plains Speedway in Oxford, Maine.

Other notable wins for the KBM Super Late Model team since its inception in 2007 include: Wisconsin All-Star 100 at the Milwaukee Mile (Kyle Busch 2008), Red Bud 300 at Anderson Speedway (Kyle Busch 2009), Winchester 400 at Winchester Speedway (Kyle Busch 2009), Snowball Derby at Five Flags Speedway (Kyle Busch 2009), Rowdy 251 at Berlin Raceway (Kyle Busch 2010) and the All-American 400 at Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway (TJ Reaid 2010).

KBM PR