Sunday, September 30, 2012

Sunday Morning Dover Notebook

Surprise Dover pole winner Denny Hamlin
Most of the pre-race hype centered on Sprint Cup point leader Jimmie Johnson, but when the rubber met the road Saturday, Denny Hamlin surprised even himself by claiming the pole position for Sunday's AAA 400 at Dover International Speedway, turning a fast lap in 22.599 seconds, at 159.299 mph.

Hamlin was just 0.005 seconds faster than fellow championship contender Clint Bowyer, claiming his third Coors Light Pole Award of the season and the 12th of his career. Martin Truex Jr. will start third today, followed by Sam Hornish Jr. and Kyle Busch.
Dover has never been a strong track for Hamlin, who has averaged a 20th-place finish there for his career. He credited crew chief Darian Grubb and a strong Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota for the pole, calling his fast lap, “probably 75 percent car and 25 percent the driver. There (are) a lot of drivers out there who could be able to do what I do with the cars that Darian's been giving me these last few weeks.
“I'm going to give him pretty much all the credit and ride his back as long as it'll hold me."
He admitted, however, that he has adapted his driving style recently to adapt for the different feel of Dover’s high-banked, concrete layout.
"It's tough for me to change the way I've been driving for 20-some years when I come to this track,” he said. “I've broken down a lot of film over these last few days to try to get better at it. The only way you can continue to stay on top in this sport is to continue to evolve."
Title contenders Greg Biffle and Jeff Gordon will start sixth and seventh today, with fellow Chase contenders Kasey Kahne and Brad Keselowski ninth and 10th. Johnson will take the green flag from 11th place, with Chase driver Matt Kenseth 12th; Kevin Harvick 13th; Tony Stewart 24th and Dale Earnhardt Jr. 25th.
Logano scores again!
Joey Logano has become all but untouchable in NASCAR Nationwide Series competition at Dover International Speedway. The Joe Gibbs Racing driver won his season-high seventh Nationwide race of 2012 – and second of the year at Dover -- leading 184 of 200 laps to claim the checkered flag in the One Main Financial 200, besting runner-up Paul Menard, Michael Annett, championship leader Elliott Sadler and Kyle Busch.
"My Monster Trophy from last time was lonely and needed a friend," said Logano afterward. "I'm glad I was able to get one for him. My car in the spring may have been even better. This No. 18 car is running for the owner's championship, and this should definitely help.”
Title contender Ricky Stenhouse Jr.. finished ninth Saturday, and now trails Sadler by nine points in the championship chase. 
…Nelson Piquet Jr. snatched Victory from the jaws of defeat Saturday night, surging past leader Matt Crafton on the final lap to win the Smith’s 350 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Piquet carries the Vegas colors.
Crafton had taken the top spot on the race’s final restart, and appeared to have the race in hand by covering the advantageous outside line. But Piquet dove to the bottom of Turn Two on the final circuit, completing the pass before sliding in front of Crafton and holding off the ThorSport Racing driver to claim his second Truck Series win of the season.
”He was running high all the time," admitted Piquet in Victory Lane. "When I saw him running up (the track), I started attacking the bottom for a few laps. And it worked in the end.”
"That is the hardest way to lose a race," said a crestfallen Crafton. "I will not sleep for a week. I'll be thinking what I could have done different."
Polesitter Joey Coulter continued his late-season surge with a third place finish, followed by Las Vegas native Brendan Gaughan and Todd Bodine. James Buescher closed with a single point of championship leader Ty Dillon with a sixth-place finish, followed by Cale Gale, Timothy Peters, David Mayhew and Dillon. Piquet’s last-lap pass marked the 17th lead change of the event, breaking a LVMS Truck Series record set in 2009.
Photos: Tom Pennington/Getty Images, Chris Graythen/Getty Images, Getty Images


Testing, Qualifying Changes Expected For 2013

For the first time since 2008, NASCAR will allow Sprint Cup Series team to test at tracks that host events in NASCAR's top three touring series. NASCAR vice president of competition Robin Pemberton confirmed Saturday at Dover International Speedway that each Sprint Cup Series organization -- regardless of how many cars it fields -- will be allowed four tests of its choosing at NASCAR tracks in 2013.

"It's up to them to pick where they want to go," Pemberton said. "We feel like it's time to open that up and allow the teams to manage their testing and get back on facilities that host our events. You'll see that as the year unfolds, that teams will be moving around the countryside."
The four tests allocated to each organization are in addition to the Preseason Thunder test, which will be will be conducted by NASCAR during the second week of January.
In  a related story, NASCAR is considering moving some Sprint Cup Series qualifying sessions to Friday afternoons next season. Officials spent much of the weekend consulting with drivers, crew chiefs and team owners at Dover International Speedway, seeking input on possible changes including Friday qualifying and a Saturday, post-qualifying practice session.
The change would give teams more time to work on race setups on Saturday, while also giving track promoters a significant Saturday Cup practice and more time for driver and fan garage interaction. NASCAR is expected to announce several 2013 competition changes sometime next month.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Thoughts On The Passing Of Chris Economaki

NASCAR CEO Brian France: Brian France: "The passing of Chris Economaki is a tough loss for me on both a personal and professional level, having known Chris throughout my life. Many people consider Chris the greatest motorsports journalist of all time. He was, indeed, 'the Dean.' Chris was a fixture for years at NASCAR events, and played a huge role in growing NASCAR's popularity. I'll miss seeing him and of course, I'll miss hearing that voice. Our thoughts and prayers are with his daughters Corinne and Tina and the rest of Chris' family."

Speedway Motorsports, Inc. Chairman Bruton Smith: “Chris loved the racing business as much as anybody you’ll ever know. He was a great storyteller because he knew so much, and he’d seen so much. He was just so knowledgeable and must have visited nearly every race track in the world. He was a walking encyclopedia when it came to racing and probably knew more about motor racing than anybody who is alive today. It didn’t matter if it was open wheel, NASCAR or what happened at the local short track, Chris knew about it. He made it his business to travel all over the world and he saw it all. There was no form of motorsports he was not acquainted with.”

“He was a remarkable man. I enjoyed every moment I ever spent with him. We will miss him. I don’t know where you’ll ever find another Chris Economaki, but I wish we had more of him. He was a great reporter, a great writer and a great announcer. He was respected by everyone in the business, and he was just great for our sport.”
Darlington Raceway President Chris Browning: “I have known Chris Economaki since I started my career in racing nearly three decades ago and I can honestly say that there wasn’t a more passionate person in the media who helped to propel the sport to new heights like Chris did. He was one of the most respected journalists in our sport and covered Darlington Raceway in a variety of ways, including providing expert commentary during ABC’s Wide World of Sports broadcast of the Bojangles’ Southern 500, during the early 1970s. He was a great man, great champion of our sport, and a mentor who I respected very much and our thoughts and prayers are with his family.”
Iowa Speedway Chairman Conrad Clement: “Chris was a true friend of the Clement family, and of Iowa Speedway. I have known him well since Featherlite got into racing over twenty years ago, and I’ve been interviewed by him many times over the past two decades. He was fair and accurate as a reporter, editor and broadcaster, and he always acted in the best interest of motorsports. Chris was indeed ‘The Dean of Motorsports Journalists’, and he will be sorely missed by my family and me, as well as everyone involved in our sport. Our sincere condolences go out to Corinne and Tina and the entire Economaki family on the loss of their father and grandfather. Chris may be gone from us now, but his legacy will live on through the work of those he influenced and inspired.”
Watkins Glen International President Michael Printup: “It was with great sadness today that I learned of the passing of Chris Economaki. As one of the most prominent motorsports journalists of all time, Chris ruled the airwaves for over four decades as he brought action on the track into the homes of millions. Chris will be missed by the entire motorsports community, and we will never forget all that he did as a pioneer of our sport. We are honored that Chris’s legacy will live on through the gifts made in his name to the International Motor Racing Research Center here in Watkins Glen.”
New Hampshire Motor Speedway General Manager Jerry Gappens: "I had the pleasure of working for Chris at his beloved National Speed Sport News for nearly a decade. They called him the "Dean of Motorsports Journalism," and I truly believe that is true. Under his tutelage, I earned my Masters and PhD in this industry. He had great passion and the most diversified and intimate knowledge of all forms of motorsports as anyone in the history of this sport and industry. His journalistic instinct was second to none and he was fearless when it came to shoving a microphone in the face of an irate A.J. Foyt, Dale Earnhardt, Ayrton Senna or any other driver after a crash or controversial moment. His work was truly a labor of love and he crammed the equivalent of five lives into his illustrious 91-year tenure on this earth." 

Martinsville Speedway President Clay Campbell: “When I was young, and I heard Chris Economaki’s voice on the radio or television, I knew I was going to get real racing. That was one of the many great things about Chris, he didn’t beat around the bush. And that’s one of the biggest things he did for our sport, he took the real story of racing to America. 

“Chris and my grandfather (the late H. Clay Earles, founder of Martinsville Speedway) were great friends and I was fortunate to spend a lot of time around Chris. I’m going to miss him, and our sport is going to miss his great voice and talent.”

Friday, September 28, 2012

Here's The Next Generation of Wood Brothers Racing!

Former NASCAR Camping World Truck and Nationwide Series driver Jon Wood and his girlfriend, Amanda Taylor, welcomed a daughter, Riley E. Wood, earlier today. No details are available yet on the size or weight of the new bundle of joy, but BabyDaddy Jon was able to stop shaking long enough to tweet this picture of the new arrival. Congratulations!

Kyle Busch To Tackle All American 400

Kyle Busch is a short track demon
In addition to the list of goals Kyle Busch is working toward achieving in NASCAR -- capturing a Sprint Cup Series Championship, winning a Daytona 500 and collecting 200 wins across the top three divisions --  several years ago the driver created a “bucket list” of major Late Model races across the country that he dreamed of winning. Busch has been able to scratch a number of those prestigious events off his list, including the prestigious Wisconsin All-Star 100 at the Milwaukee Mile in 2008, the 2009 Red Bud 300 at Anderson Speedway, the 2009 Winchester 400 at Winchester Speedway, the 2009 Snowball Derby at Five Flags Speedway, the 2009 and 2012 SpeedFest at Lanier National Speedway and the 2011 Oxford 250 at Maine’s Oxford Plains Speedway. 

But the legendary All American 400 at the Fairgrounds Speedway in Nashville, Tenn. is one that Busch has yet to capture, and one he is bound and determined to win.
He won the race as a car owner in 2010 with driver T.J. Reaid, but with the backing of Dollar General, which is headquartered 16 miles from the speedway in Goodlettsville,Tenn., Busch will have the opportunity to visit Victory Lane as a driver. On Saturday Oct. 6 the event -- whose list of winners includes Darrell Waltrip and Rusty Wallace -- returns after a year's hiatus. Dollar General will serve as primary sponsor of Kyle Busch Motorsports No. 51 Camry for the 400-lap event at the 0.596-mile oval.
"I've had a list of big Late Model races across the country that I've wanted to win and the All American 400 sits high atop that list," said Busch "The fact that for this first time in over a decade this year's race is going to be a true 400-lap event gave it that much more appeal.  I just couldn't pass up the opportunity to try and cross this race off my bucket list.
"I have to thank Dollar General for coming onboard and allowing me to compete in this prestigious race," said Busch, whose NASCAR Camping World Truck Series team is also sponsored by the nation's largest discount small-box retailer. "They were the primary sponsor for our first Truck Series win at Nashville Superspeedway in 2010, and hopefully we can work some more Music City magic together at the Fairgrounds.”
The Las Vegas native has one prior start at Fairgrounds Speedway, in a 2008 CRA Late Model event. Despite being unable to practice and qualify due to his Sprint Cup Series duties at Bristol Motor Speedway, Busch won the Last Chance race to earn the 21st starting spot in the 150-lap feature. After sustaining damage in a lap-one accident, he drove back through the field and was running third when a broken shock forced him to retire from the event.

Busch has two victories in three Super Late Model starts in 2012. He opened the season with a win in SpeedFest at Watermelon Capitol Speedway in Cordele, Ga. in January, and claimed his third consecutive triumph in the Rowdy 251 at Berlin Raceway in Marne, Mich. in June. He appeared to be in position to make if three-for-three on the season, opening sizeable lead in the closing stages of the Slinger Nationals at Slinger (Wisc.) Speedway before a caution bunched the field and allowed fellow NASCAR Sprint Cup Series competitor Matt Kenseth to pass the No. 51 KBM Camry and take home the victory.  

Johnson Confident Entering Dover Weekend

Johnson knows how to win at Dover
Jimmie Johnson’s track record at Dover International Speedway is enough to inspire awe, or confidence. 

In 21 career Sprint Cup Series starts at the Monster Mile, Johnson has a record-tying seven wins – joining Richard Petty and Bobby Allison at the top of the all-time win list – along with 10 Top-5 and 15 Top-10 finishes. With an average finish of 8.9, he easily owns the best Dover record among active drivers, making him a prohibitive favorite to expand his single-digit championship point lead with another victory Sunday. 

“We’re definitely excited to be here at this race track,” admitted Johnson today. “The stats are very good for myself and this team here. It’s a track that I’ve enjoyed racing at from the very first lap here in an ASA car. So, I’m glad to be here.” 

Surprisingly, Johnson pointed to his off-road background as a key to his Dover success. 

“Out of all the oval tracks we race on, this one is most similar to my off-road background,” he said. “The drop-off into the corner, the way the rubber lays down and (the way) you have to select a different line through the turn reminds me of dirt racing. You climb back up that hill and jump onto the straightaway and then go do it again and again and again. I think that’s really where things work best for me.” 

He admitted, however, that Dover’s rapid changes can be difficult to keep up with.

“What’s confusing is that this track does change quite a bit,” said Johnson. “With the tire that we’ve had for the last couple of years, it lays a lot of rubber down. And the way your car handles on a clean track during practice is far different than what you have in the race. You really have to fall back on experience and keep an open mind about the new pieces or new thoughts you bring to your set-up. They might not work on a clean track, but the race is really different, especially deep in a run when the right-side rubber lays down.” 

While expressing happiness with his strong start to the 2012 Chase, the five-time Sprint Cup Series champion acknowledged that there is still work to be done. 

 “I’m very happy with the start that we’ve had,” said Johnson. “Chicago went really well for us, and last week at Loudon, to run second there was a strong showing as well. So, things are working well. Clearly, there are eight more races to go and we’ll just keep working hard and see what we can do.”

Busch Moves To Furniture Row Racing at Charlotte

Busch will replace Regan Smith
In a move designed  to accelerate Furniture Row Racing’s preparations for the 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup season, Kurt Busch will take over the driving duties in the team’s No. 78 Chevrolet beginning with the Oct. 13 Bank of America 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.  

Busch, who was announced earlier in the week as Furniture Row Racing’s new driver for 2013, will replace Regan Smith. 

Furniture Row Racing general manager Joe Garone made the announcement today, with Busch alongside at a news conference at Dover International Speedway. 

“In order to get a jump on developing driver/team chemistry for the 2013 season, both Kurt and Furniture Row Racing felt that this was an important move to make happen,” said Garone. “While the goal of this decision is to better prepare for 2013, the main focus for the final six races remains the same and that is to compete at a competitive level.” 

Garone also stated that Smith’s Furniture Row Racing contract, which expires at the end of the season, will be fully honored. 

Busch said he is excited about getting a head start with the Denver, Colo.-based team. 

“We want to come out of the chute next year ready and raring to go,” said Busch, the 2004 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion. “Driving the Furniture Row Chevrolet in the final six races of this season will obviously give us a big advantage in our preparations for 2013. The energy level is quite high and I can’t wait to get out to Colorado to meet all the guys and begin this exciting new journey.” 

Along with the Oct. 13th Charlotte race, Busch will drive the Furniture Row/Farm American Chevrolet in Kansas City, Kan. (Oct. 21), Martinsville, Va. (Oct. 28), Fort Worth, Texas (Nov. 4), Phoenix (Nov. 11) and the season finale in Homestead, Fla. (Nov. 18).

Hornish Still Without Contract For 2013

Sam Hornish, Jr.
Despite repeated assertions by Penske Racing owner Roger Penske that he wants Sam Hornish, Jr., back in a full time NASCAR Nationwide Series ride next season, the former Indianapolis 500 champion says he has no signed contract in place for 2013. 

“I don’t have any paper in my hand saying what’s going to happen next year,” said Hornish. “I know Roger’s been out there (in the media) saying he’d like to have me back, but we’ll just have to wait and see how everything plays out.  We’ve got some really good sponsors and we’re moving forward on some other ones, but it’s a really tough time with the economy.  

“A lot of people are waiting around to see what’s going to happen with the election,” he revealed. “That will impact how the economy goes, and it’s funny how big a role politics plays in our racing world. When you’re talking about the kind of money it takes to run a full Nationwide or Sprint Cup schedule, there are a lot of things involved.  

Hornish said that uncertainty, combined with Penske’s recent decision to sign Joey Logano to drive the team’s No. 22 Shell Pennzoil-sponsored Sprint Cup Series Ford next season, has made for a difficult few weeks. 

“It’s obviously been tough, with all the things that have happened,” he said. “But I try to remain as loyal as I can to Penske Racing. I know they’ve done a lot for me, and I love this organization. I hope we can move forward together, but I can’t feel too happy until I know for sure what’s going to happen next year.  It’s just a tough time right now. 

He said his primarily goal is to end the 2012 season on a high note, win races and continue to contend for the Nationwide Series championship.  

“My goal at the start of the start of the season was to finish in the Top-3 in Nationwide points,” he said. “We’re fourth right now – 46 out of the lead – and it’s not too late to make a run. We just need to find another five percent in performance.  

“We’re going to do the best we can to cap off this season on a high note with both (Nationwide and Sprint Cup) cars, then see what the future holds for us.”

 Photos: Action Sports Photography, LAT Photographic


Chris Economaki Dies At Age 91

Chris Economaki
The “Dean of American Motorsports” has died.

Chris Economaki, longtime editor and publisher of National Speedsport News, died this morning at age 91. Economaki’s byline appeared in NSSN for more than 60 years, and his weekly column, “From the Editor’s Notebook,” was required reading for industry insiders and casual fans alike. In addition to his print career, he served as a pit analyst and commentator for ABC CBS and ESPN for four decades, becoming one of the most respected and trusted personalities in the sport.

An “old school” reporter to the end, Economaki was famous for pounding out stories on his Royal upright typewriter in a media center filled with laptop computers. The son of a Greek immigrant father and the great-niece of Confederate General Robert E. Lee, he witnessed his first live auto race on the old Atlantic City board track at age nine. Soon after, he began selling copies of NSSN at race tracks around the northeast, hitchhiking both ways and pocketing a penny for every paper sold. He became a popular columnist and reporter, was later named editor and eventually purchased and oversaw the publication for nearly half a century.
Rest in peace, Chris
At the recommendation of NASCAR founder Bill France, Sr., Economaki was chosen to serve on the broadcast team for ABC’s coverage of the 1961 Firecracker 250 at Daytona, the first nationwide broadcast of a NASCAR race. Over the years, his distinctive, nasal delivery and dogged devotion to the facts became a mainstay in the garage areas at NASCAR, CART, IndyCar, Formula One and NHRA events. Once denied admission to the garage area for the lack of a paper credential, Economaki huffed to the gate guard, “Young man, my face is my credential.”

Christopher Constantine Economaki is survived by his daughters, Corinne and Tina, and two grandchildren.

Sirius XM NASCAR Radio will honor Economaki’s life with a special presentation of his Sirius XM Speedway Legends interview, today at 6:25 PM ET on Sirius XM NASCAR Radio, Channel 90.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Runway Incident Delays Departure of NASCAR Charter

A 737 charter jet filled with NASCAR drivers, crew and media members slipped off the runway while taxiing for takeoff at Concord (NC) Regional Airport today, becoming stuck in the mud and delaying its departure for Dover International Speedway. 

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers Paul Menard, Casey Mears, Travis Kvapil, David Stremme and Scott Speed were all on the airplane when it strayed off the runway at slow speed, no injuries were reported. The passengers deplaned without incident, and were transferred to another aircraft.

Billy O Photo ;)

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Kyle Gets The Media Right Where He Wants Them

"Yes! I made Rutledge Wood puke!"
Kyle Busch is accustomed to turning some pretty hot laps at Martinsville Speedway, but never with passengers …until Wednesday.

Busch gave hot-lap rides to about 25 media members and a few lucky fans Wednesday afternoon as part of a promotional event for the upcoming TUMS Fast Relief 500. He got driving support from Martinsville Speedway President Clay Campbell, an accomplished driver who competes on the NASCAR K&N Series, to make sure everyone got a chance for a near-race experience at Martinsville.

Many of the media were left shaking their heads after exiting the Toyota Camry after a few laps with Busch, amazed at how difficult it was just to ride along in race trim for a few laps, much less racing for 500.
“This place is certainly physically and mentally demanding. Running around here, a thousand times through the corners, it is challenging,” said Busch. “We were just out there running around by ourselves and what you felt was about the lap time we run at the end of a run. When you’re running a race, in can be taxing on you as a driver, wear out your left foot and certainly can wear out your patience, too.”
Busch doesn’t have a Martinsville Speedway win yet. He is coming off his best career finish in the Goody’s Fast Relief 500 last spring, a third, and he believes a win isn’t far away.
“I’d like to think we are really close (to a win). We’ve been good here. Last spring we ran really well. We ran third, led a lot of laps and ran up front,” recalled Busch. “I thought we were going to win the thing and then at the end of the race we just didn’t have any forward bite. It’s just a tough race track.”
Part of his improvement, Busch said, has come from learning how to protect his car better during the 500 laps, something that isn’t very easy.
“There are some guys here that can run around without a mark on the car when the race is all said and done and finish in a good spot,” said Busch. “My first couple of times here I think I had all four corners torn off the car and finished in the 20s. Then I finally figured out what to do and how to do it and then I started running a little better.”

The cars used for the ride-alongs were authentic NASCAR Sprint Cup cars, supplied by Andy Hillenberg’s Fast Track High Performance Racing School. Busch drove a Toyota Camry with a paint scheme identical to the one he drives on race weekends.
Tickets for the TUMS Fast Relief 500 on Sunday, October 28, the Kroger 200 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race on Saturday, October 27 and the NASCAR Sprint Cup Qualifying on Friday, October 26 are on sale and can be purchased by calling 1.877.RACE.TIX. Tickets may also be purchased online at

Pastrana Leads Practice For Better Half Dash

"Just mash the gas, honey..."
After the first practice session, held Tuesday evening, for the second-annual Better Half Dash, Lyn-z Adams Hawkins Pastrana, wife of NASCAR Nationwide Series driver Travis Pastrana, posted the fastest lap with a time of 20.49 seconds.

Lyn-z, a professional skateboarder and eight-time X Games medalist, proved her extreme sports background has prepared her for the driver’s seat.

Kristen Yeley, wife of NASCAR driver JJ Yeley, recorded the second-best time of the evening with a 20.59-second lap and defending Better Half Dash winner Jacquelyn Butler, fiancée of NASCAR driver David Ragan, had the third-best lap at 20.63 seconds.
The charity race to benefit Motor Racing Outreach and Speedway Children’s Charities, will be held on the frontstretch quarter-mile of Charlotte Motor Speedway on Oct. 11 following Bojangles’ Pole Night qualifying for the Bank of America 500 and will pit the women of NASCAR against each other in Bandolero race cars provided by U.S. Legend Cars International.
Below is the complete list of fastest times from Tuesday night's practice:
1. Lyn-z Adams Hawkins Pastrana – 20.49 seconds
(wife of NASCAR driver Travis Pastrana)
2. Kristen Yeley – 20.59 sec.
(wife of NASCAR driver JJ Yeley)

3. Jacquelyn Butler – 20.63 sec.
(fiancée of NASCAR driver David Ragan)

4. Wendy Venturini – 20.72 sec.
(motorsports analyst for SPEED Channel)

5. Michelle Gilliland – 20.80 sec.
(wife of NASCAR driver David Gilliland)

6. Ashley Allgaier – 20.87 sec.
(wife of NASCAR driver Justin Allgaier

7. Amy Gordon – 20.99 sec.
(wife of NASCAR crew chief Todd Gordon)

8. Adriene Pattie – 21.09 sec.
(wife of NASCAR crew chief Brian Pattie)

9. Angie Dillner – 21.30 sec.
(wife of SPEED Channel’s Bob Dillner)

10. Katrina Childers – 21.36 sec.
(wife of NASCAR crew chief Rodney Childers)

11. Patricia Driscoll – 21.455 sec.
(girlfriend of NASCAR driver Kurt Busch)

12. Melanie Self – 21.965 sec.
(representing Motor Racing Outreach)

The Better Half Dash is a 25-lap race, with a competition caution set for Lap 15. A random inversion will shake up the field before the final 10-lap shootout. Caution laps will not count. If necessary, there will be up to two chances at a green-white-checkered finish. The starting order for the race will be determined by qualifying on Monday, Oct. 8 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
While the better half takes the wheel, her significant other will serve as crew chief and spotter for the race, but drivers and crew members are not permitted to make any engine, chassis or suspension modifications.
The winning driver will receive $10,000 to be paid to the charity (or charities) of her choice.
In addition to the Better Half Dash on Oct. 11, Bojangles’ Pole Night will also feature NASCAR Sprint Cup Series qualifying for the Bank of America 500, as well as the UNOH Southern Slam 150, the season finale for the NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour. Tickets are $12 in advance or $20 on event day. Kids 13 and under get in free. Tickets for all October races at Charlotte Motor Speedway can be purchased online at or by calling the speedway ticket office at 1-800-455-FANS (3267).
Photo: Harold Hinson

Kenseth To Wheel Pink Car at Talladega

Matt Kenseth will be at the wheel of a pink Ford Fusion when he rolls into Talladega Superspeedway for the Good Sam Roadside Assistance 500 weekend, Oct. 5-7. The pink ride came about through a partnership between Roush Fenway Racing, Talladega Superspeedway and the National Breast Cancer Foundation.

“As the first race in October, we felt it was important to recognize Breast Cancer Awareness month,” said Talladega Superspeedway Chairman Grant Lynch. “We reached out through our NASCAR channels to help spread the word and Matt’s team jumped at the opportunity to help out. We’re excited to work with a championship team and organization to help promote the efforts of the National Breast Cancer Foundation.”

In addition to Kenseth’s pink ride, Roush Fenway Racing is also auctioning off an honorary pit crew experience to raise funds for the National Breast Cancer Foundation. Fans can bid on this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity through the NASCAR Foundation auction page at Bidding for the honorary pit crew experience with the No. 17 team closes at 8:00 pm EST on Monday, October 1.

"I've got to wear WHAT??"

“We're honored to have a chance to run our pink No. 17 NBCF Ford EcoBoost at Talladega,” said Kenseth. “With October being Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we were able to get support from Ford to help raise awareness and funds for the National Breast Cancer Foundation and I'm happy to help support the cause.”

“When it comes to spreading the message of early detection of breast cancer, we need partners like Talladega Superspeedway and Roush Fenway Racing,” said NBCF Founder & CEO, Janelle Hail. “Their support will help us fulfill our mission to save lives by providing free mammograms for the underserved, and their tradition of excellence and winning spirit will inspire hope in the many NASCAR fans and families that are facing this disease today.”

The first opportunity to see Kenseth’s pink No. 17 NBCF Ford EcoBoost Fusion on the track will be during NASCAR Sprint Cup Series practice on Friday, Oct. 5. Kenseth has 25 starts at the 2.66-mile track and has earned four top five and seven top-ten finishes. Earlier this season at Talladega, Kenseth finished third and led for a total of 73 laps.

Stenhouse Set For Double Duty at Dover

Ricky Stenhouse, Jr.
On the heels of the recent announcement that Ricky Stenhouse Jr. will pilot Roush Fenway Racing’s No. 17 Sprint Cup Series Ford Fusion next season, the 2011 NASCAR Nationwide champion will make his second Sprint Cup start of the year at Dover International Speedway this weekend.

Earlier this season the Olive Branch, Miss., native made his debut in the Daytona 500, finishing 21st. He finished 11th in his Sprint Cup debut in the 2011 Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

“I can’t think of a better track than Dover to make my second Cup start this year,” said Stenhouse. “The extra seat time is very valuable going into our first full-time Sprint Cup season next year. Cargill and Rancher’s Reserve jumped on board to sponsor both my Nationwide and Sprint Cup car. It would be awesome to get a solid finish in both races this weekend.”

The 2011 NASCAR Nationwide champion will pull the double-duty this weekend as he defends his title with six races remaining. The tight championship battle shows Stenhouse only four points out of the lead.
Rancher’s Reserve and Safeway will serve as the primary sponsors for both the No. 6 Ford Mustang and No. 6 Ford Fusion.
Photo: Associated Press

Trucks Will Return To Rockingham In 2013

Kahne won last year's race
After staging the most talked-about event of the 2012 NASCAR season to date, Rockingham Speedway President Andy Hillenburg made it official today; confirming that the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series will return to “The Rock” on April 12-14, 2013.
“We got our report card from NASCAR, and it looks like we got an A+,” said Hillenburg of NASCAR’s  April return to Rockingham for the first time since 2004. Sprint Cup Series star Kasey Kahne topped an all-star field of Camping World Truck Series regulars to win the `Good Sam Roadside Assistance Carolina 200 presented by Cheerwine,’ in front of a large and enthusiastic crowd of race fans.
“Fans, drivers, teams; everyone embraced our 2012 event,” said Hillenburg. “I’m happy to announce that with their help, we’ll do it again in 2013; bigger and better than ever before.”
General admission tickets are already on sale, with adult tickets beginning at just $20 and kids age 12 and under half-price. Reserve your seats now by calling the Rockingham Speedway ticket office at (910) 205-8800, or online at
“It’s been a long road back since we bought this race track in 2007,” said Hillenburg. “There were a few times along the way where I wasn’t sure we were going to make it. But when I looked up in the grandstands during driver introductions in April, it made me extremely proud. That was a very important day in the history of Rockingham Speedway, but it was just one step on the road. We’re moving forward, and I look forward to packing the grandstands again next April.
“The Rock is back, and we’re looking forward to another great race on April 14, 2013.”
Photo: Rainier Ehrhardt/Getty Images

Malsam Out at Tri-Star Motorsports

Malsam splits with Tri-Star
After a 26-race relationship, TriStar Motorsports officials announced today that they have agreed to part ways with NASCAR Nationwide Series sophomore, Tayler Malsam. The decision ends a relationship that saw the Sammamish, WA native drive the #19 G-Oil Toyota to 13th place in the Nationwide Series championship standings.  

"All of us at TriStar Motorsports appreciate what Tayler has done for our race team this year," said Tri-Star team owner Mark Smith. "Tayler did a great job for us and we wish him nothing but the best of luck as he explores future opportunities in this sport. I think it is really important for us as a team to set our sights on the future and take the appropriate steps in that direction."  

2002 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Champion and current TriStar Motorsports driver, Mike Bliss, will pilot the #19 Toyota at Dover International Speedway this weekend. Jeff Green, the 2000 Nationwide Series Champion, will fill in for Bliss in TriStar's #44 Nationwide Series entry. The team will make future announcements on driver and sponsor lineups for the remainder of the season at a later date.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Slow Starters Face Critical Weekend

Biffle is a former Dover winner
For the likes of Greg Biffle, Martin Truex Jr. and Matt Kenseth, it’s time to get rolling. 

After two races in the 2012 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, the annual culling of the championship herd is well underway. While Jimmie Johnson, Brad Keselowski and Denny Hamlin have established themselves as the major contenders for the crown, Biffle, Truex and Kenseth have stumbled out of the blocks, leaving themselves in “do or die” territory this weekend at Dover. 

Biffle is ninth in Sprint Cup Series points after finishing 13th and 18th in the opening two races of the Chase. Truex is 10th in the standings after recording finishes of  ninth and 17th. Kenseth, 11th in points, has finished 18th and 14th. 

Since the Chase began nine years ago, no driver has come from further back than eighth after two races to win the championship. In each of the nine previous Chases, the eventual champion was fifth or better after two events. And in five of the nine Chases, the eventual champion was either first or second at this point of the season. 

Clearly, the numbers do not favor a miraculous comeback for Biffle, Truex or Kenseth. What shot they do have will almost certainly evaporate with a third poor finish this weekend on the Monster Mile. Fortunately, all three have tasted success there in the past. 
Truex needs a good weekend
Biffle is a two-time winner there -- in 2005 and 2008 – finishing second and third in points those seasons. His Driver Rating of 104.2 is fourth-best among all active drivers. 

Truex, from nearby Mayetta, N.J., scored his only NASCAR Sprint Cup victory to date at Dover  in 2007. He is a two-time Coors Light Pole winner there -- most recently topping the speed charts in last year’s AAA 400 – and finished seventh there in June. 

Kenseth has won twice at Dover, most recently in the spring of 2011. He ranks second in now less than four critical Loop Data categories, including Driver Rating (110.5) and Average Green Flag Speed (143.630 mph). He also finished third at Dover in June of this year. 

Their backs may be against the wall this weekend, but Biffle, Truex and Kenseth all have the ability to come out of that corner fighting.
Photos: David Griffin/Icon SMI, Geoff Burke/Getty Images North America