News & Views – Volume 32 – June 25 – July 1, 2012

News & Views – Volume 32
For the week of June 25 – July 1, 2012

“…I looked in the mirror and the old grizzly himself, Tony – Stewart – was one of them…” – Clint Bowyer after winning the Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Sonoma

Clint Bowyer wins his first road course race, fending off some of NASCAR’s top talent, five-time champion Jimmie Johnson – 5th, four-time champion Jeff Gordon – 6th, three-time champion Tony Stewart – 2nd and one-time champion Kurt Busch – 3rd. All four Sprint Cup champions had strong runs at Sonoma in the Toyota/Save Mart 350. 

“…You know, behind me were champions of this sport, and that’s big, to be able to hold them guys off,” Clint Bowyer said in his post race comments.

Michael Waltrip Racing also celebrated Brian Vickers return to the No. 55 with his 4th place finish at the track this weekend. 

The Camping World Truck Series teams return to the track this weekend and join the Nationwide and Sprint Cup teams at Kentucky Speedway for three evenings of great racing. Fans will see NCWTS teams compete on Thursday, June 28th, NNS teams on Friday, June 29th, and NSCS teams on Saturday night, June 30th. 

Let’s begin with news for today…

Sunday, July 1, 2012
Drivers like latest aerodynamic rule changes
NASCAR’s latest round of rules changes takes effect for the first time at Kentucky Speedway with modifications to the side skirts and sway bar.

The aerodynamic change is specific for intermediate tracks, including Kentucky’s 1.5-mile D-shaped oval. NASCAR increased the ground clearance for all side skirts by one half-inch.

Read more from

Richard Childress: Part failure caused Austin Dillon’s car to be too low
Richard Childress believes the right rear of Austin Dillon’s car being lower than NASCAR specifications hurt the performance of the race-winning car in the Nationwide Series Friday night at Kentucky Speedway.

From Sporting News

Denny Hamlin re-ups with Joe Gibbs Racing
Denny Hamlin will test NASCAR’s free agent market, agreeing Saturday to a contract extension with Joe Gibbs Racing.

Hamlin announced the extension on Twitter before Saturday night’s race at Kentucky Speedway. Terms of his extension were not released, but he locked up a new deal almost 15 months before his current contract with JGR was set to expire.

Read more from USA Today

Bruton Smith: Throw cautions in the wind as much as needed
Speedway Motorsports Inc chairman Bruton Smith wants more caution flags thrown during Sprint Cup races and advocated Saturday for cautions specifically thrown to bunch up the field.

Read more from Sporting News

Lots of empy seats at Kentucky Speedway
Observations – No, the traffic nightmare that overshadowed last year’s inaugural Sprint Cup Series race at Kentucky Speedway was not repeated this year. But also absent were many of the fans. Being generous approximately 70 percent of the stands were filled Saturday night. It’s certainly possible some ticket holders didn’t show due to the extreme heat this weekend. However, it’s clear it will take time for the speedway to earn back the trust of the many fans it left with a bad memory from last season’s debacle.

Read more from That’s Racin

Richard Petty Celebrates 75th Birthday
“The King” of NASCAR Hits Another Milestone

You will have to find a cake large enough to hold 75 candles if you want to celebrate the birthday of “The King” Richard Petty on Monday. Petty, the seven-time NASCAR Sprint Cup champion and owner of 200 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series wins, including seven Daytona 500 victories, is celebrating his 75th birthday in the same town he was born, Level Cross, NC. Petty will spend time working at the current location of Petty’s Garage and will later spend time with his family.

Later this week, Petty will fly to a familiar summer spot for him in early July, Daytona Beach, FL. This is where Petty, family and friends will not only celebrate the 4th of July, but also a birthday dinner in the honor of Petty’s 75th. The dinner, coined “Red, White and Petty Blue,” will take place at the Wyndham Ocean Walk Resort and feature guest speakers who have been part of Petty’s life. The night will conclude with a fireworks display and a birthday cake made by the TLC hit show “Cake Boss.”

“I’m really thankful for everyone who has supported us over the years,” said Petty. “I really don’t think about age too much. I just keep going to the next race. I’ve been doing that all my life and that’s what I’m going to keep doing. But, I amm grateful for each day and all the fans who make this a lot of fun for us.”

The NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee Petty is one of the most celebrated athletes in all of sports and his trademark cowboy hat, sunglasses, belt buckle and cowboy boots have made him an American icon. His accomplishments over 75 years list like a “Who’s Who” of American athletes, including:

  • A record 200 NASCAR Sprint Cup Wins
  • A record seven NASCAR Sprint Cup Championships – 1964, ’67, ’71, ’72, ’74, ’75, ’79
  • A record 27 wins in one season – 1967
  • A record 10 NASCAR Sprint Cup wins in a row – 1967
  • Led Petty Enterprises and Richard Petty Motorsports to a record 271 wins, most of any team
  • Member of four generations of Petty athletes – Lee, Richard, Kyle and Adam
  • Has met United States Presidents Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George HW Bush, George W Busch and Barack Obama
  • Awarded Medal of Freedom – 1992
  • Elected into three motorsports Hall of Fames including inaugural NASCAR Hall of Fame class – 2010
  • Has appeared in or voiced movies such as “CARS,” “Swing Vote,” “Days of Thunder,” “Stoker Ace” and others
  • Has appeared in television shows including Arli$$, Hee Haw, David Frost Show and others
  • Donated his personal land, over 75 acres, to help build the Victory Junction Gang Camp
  • Has his name behind the original and most popular stock car driving school, the Richard Petty Driving Experience
  • Is honored by the Richard Petty Museum in Randleman, NC, a museum that houses Petty’s racing and personal memorabilia
  • A trustee Chairman of the North Carolina Motorsports Association
  • Current owner of Richard Petty Motorsports, Petty’s Garage, Board Member of Victory Junction Gang Camp, Board Member of Richard Petty Driving Experience, Co-Founder of the Petty Family Foundation
Petty continues to be a major figure in the sport and works with current partners of his three-car race team and Petty’s Garage daily. His schedule makes him just as busy as he was when he ended his driving career in 1992.

His familiar smile and wave will be seen this weekend at Daytona for the running of the Coke Zero 400.

From Richard Petty Motorsports-PR

Ignition Woes Spoil Stewart’s Run at Kentucky
Office Depot/Mobile 1 Driver Finishes 32nd to Break string of Top-Three Results

Tony Stewart turned some fast laps during the Kentucky 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race Saturday night at Kentucky Speedway in Sparta. Unfortunately, the majority of them came after a lengthy stay in the garage area.

Ignition problems just 25 laps into the 267-lap race kept Stewart idle for 36 laps as his team replaced the throttle body while his counterparts lapped the 1.5-mile oval at speed. Stewart avoided a dreaded DNF – Did Not Finish – by returning to the race and using it as a test session, but there was still a sting to his 32nd-place finish.

Stewart, the driver of the No. 14 Office Depot/Mobile 1 Chevrolet for Stewart Haas Racing – SHR – came into Kentucky riding a string of top-three finishes, the last two of which were second-place runs at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, MI and the road course in Sonoma, CAAnother strong finish was expected at Kentucky, despite struggles in two practice sessions Friday. The car Stewart was driving Kentucky was the same chassis that won at Las Vegas Motor Speedway earlier this season and last fall at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, IL.

The car showed excellent speed during the race at Kentucky once it returned to the track after repairs, turning laps as quickly as the leaders. But it went unnoticed since Stewart was too many laps down to make any headway.

Ryan Newman, driver of the No. 39 Tornados Chevrolet for SHR, had an equally disappointing outing at Kentucky. He finished 34th after his engine blew on lap 210, which sent him spinning into the turn two wall. Newman was unhurt in the accident, but he incurred his second DNF of the season.

Brad Keselowski won the Kentucky 400 to score his seventh career Sprint Cup victory, his third of the season and his first at Kentucky.

Kasey Kahne finished 4.399 seconds behind Keselowski in the runner-up spot, while Denny Hamlin, Dale Earnhardt Jr and Jeff Gordon rounded out the top-five. Jimmie Johnson, Matt Kenseth, Martin Truex Jr, AJ Allmendinger and Kyle Busch comprised the remainder of the top-ten.

There were four caution periods for 24 laps, with 11 drivers failing to finish.

With round 17 of 36 complete, Stewart continues to lead the SHR duo in the championship point standings. He dropped four spots to ninth and has 545 points, 88 back of series leader Kenseth and eight points ahead of 10th-place Keselowski with a 42-point advantage over 11th-place Carl Edwards. Newman fell to 15th and has 463 points, which puts him 170 points behind Kenseth and 74 behind Keselowski.

From True Speed Communications for Stewart-Haas Racing-PR

Keselowski Cranks Out a Blue-Collar Quaker State 400 KYS Victory
Penske Racing driver becomes the second to own both NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and NASCAR Nationwide Series track titles

Keselowski Celebrates in KYS Victory Lane
Photo – Scott Utterback/Louisville Courier-Journal

Brad Keselowski expertly managed fuel mileage for his No. 2 Penske Racing machine through the closing 56 laps of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series – NCSC – Quaker State 400 and captured his second career Kentucky Speedway victory Saturday night.

The 28 year old from Rochester Hills, MI, becomes the second driver to own both NSCS and NASCAR Nationwide Series – NNS – titles at the track after taking a Feed the Children 300 title on July 8, 2011.

“We were gutsy today, had a fast car and drove to the lead on the first run. We waited for someone to make a mistake or give us a chance. Hard work equals results and today this team go the results. It feels pretty dang good,” Keselowski said.

He drove to the pits under green flag conditions on Lap 208 and saw his chances of stretching his fuel mileage to the end of the 267-lap marathon significantly improve when a caution flag flew on Lap 210 after Ryan Newman’s No. 39 Stewart Haas Racing car lost his engine and connected with the Turn 2 wall.

Keselowski’s Crew Chief Paul Wolfe made the call to keep the No. 2 on the track while other contenders came to the pits to top their cars’ fuel tanks. The team’s strategy paid off when Keselowski went to the lead for the third and final time off a Lap 220 restart.

With a stout No. 2 continuing to build its lead, late charges from Hendrick Motorsports driver Kasey Kahne in the No. 5 Quaker State car, Joe Gibbs Racing driver Denny Hamlin in the No. 11 car, Dale Earnhardt Jr in the No. 88 car and five-time NSCS champ Jimmie Johnson in the No. 48 all came up shy.

Keselowski completed his three-race Kentucky Speedway weekend stretch owning tonight’s victory, a seventh-place finish in Friday night’s NNS Feed the Children 300 and a second-place showing in Thursday night’s NASCAR Camping World Truck Series – NCWTS – UNOH 225.

“What a weekend. We hit the wall on Lap 1 of – NSCS – practice and brought out a back-up-car. This is my Martinsville car from the Chase – for the NASCAR Sprint Cup – last year, so it isn’t the newest car we have but it sure does run.

“We fought through adversity all weekend long in 100-degree temperatures, got this car out and got it ready to practice on the race track. That hard work is what got us into Victory Lane tonight. I wanted to win all three this weekend, but if I had to pick one, this is the one,” Keselowski added.

Kahne placed second in the Quaker State 400, Hamlin took third, Earnhardt Jr raced under the checkered flag fourth and four-time NSCS champ Jeff Gordon closed out the race top-five in the No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports machine.

Keselowski claimed his NSCS-leading third victory of the season and holds what could prove to be a decisive advantage as drivers determine Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup eligibility through the next nine events.

He will enter the July 7 NSCS race at Daytona International Speedway with a combined five top-five and seven top-ten finishes. He sits 10th in the NSCS standings and 96 points behind leader and Roush Fenway Racing driver Matt Kenseth, who deposited his 12th top-ten finish of the season with a seventh-place effort in the No. 17 Fifth Third Bank car.

“Now we can look forward, we don’t have to look back at all,” Keselowski said. 

Kahne encountered trouble early when he was forced to make a repeat pit stop to tighten loose lug nuts.

He raced 34th on Lap 60 and valiantly cut his way through the field. He advanced to 22nd by Lap 135, 11th by Lap 195 and moved into the top-ten for the first time when he showed eighth on Lap 225. He advanced to fifth by Lap 255 before closing out the race with his fourth top-five and eighth top-ten finish of the season.

“We had to pass a ton of cars and came up a little short. The team was awesome. Crew Chief – Kenny Francis called a great race and prepared an awesome car. My pit crew was really, really good. We just had a couple of mistakes at two different stops. We couldn’t get enough track position, so we had to fight for a long time. I wish we could’ve caught Keselowski because we need the wins, but we came pretty close,” Kahne said.

Hamlin grabbed his eighth top-five and ninth top-ten finish of the season while Earnhardt Jr collected his seventh top-five and 13th top-ten finish of the season. He will start next week’s Daytona International Speedway race second in the series standings and 11 points behind Kenseth.

From Kentucky Speedway-PR

Saturday, June 30, 2012
2012 NSCS Quaker State 400 Race Results
Four different drivers showed potential domination throughout the NSCS Quaker State 400 Saturday night, but it was Brad Keselowski’s domination of the last 56 laps that put him in victory lane at Kentucky Speedway.

Keselowski, who led three times for a total of 68 laps – the second most laps led – of the 268 that were run, received his third series win of the 2012 season, his seventh series career win and his first series win at Kentucky Speedway.

Kasey Kahne finished 4.399 seconds behind Keselowski for second-place, and was followed by Denny Hamlin – who led the third most laps at 58 – finishing in third, Dale Earnhardt Jr fourth and Jeff Gordon finishing fifth.

Leading the fourth most laps – 21 – was the pole-sitter, Jimmie Johnson, while Matt Kenseth – now leads Dale Earnhardt Jr by 11-points in the point standings – finished seventh, Martin Truex Jr eighth, AJ Allmendinger ninth and the driver that led the most laps – 118 – Kyle Busch, rounding out the top-ten finishing positions.

Race Notes 
Average Speed – 145.607-mph
Time of Race – 2 hrs, 45 mins, 02 secs
Margin of Victory – 4.399 seconds
Lead Changes – 17 among 6 drivers
Cautions – 4 for 24 laps
Attendance – 105,000

Race Results
Point Standings

Next Up – The Coke Zero 400 powered by Coca-Cola at Daytona International Speedway on Saturday, July 7th, with an approximate start of 7:50pm ET and television coverage provided by TNT beginning with their 6:30pm ET “Countdown to Green” pre-race program.

From Timing & Scoring provided by NASCARmedia

Penske Racing Statement about it’s Engine Company
In response to recent reports about it’s engine company, Tim Cindric, President of Penske Racing, issued the following statement:

“Contrary to recent published speculation, Penske Racing has not sold its engine company. The team’s focus continues to be on successfully completing the 2012 season, competing for championships and victories in both the Nationwide and Sprint Cup Series for Dodge and our other sponsor partners.”

From Penske Racing-PR

Dillon’s NNS FTC 300 Winning Car Fails Postrace Inspection
NASCAR officials announced that Austin Dillon’s No. 3 Richard Childress Racing car which won tonight’s NASCAR Nationwide Series Feed the Children 300 at Kentucky’s Speedway failed postrace inspection because the car’s heights were too low in the rear. A penalty will be issued.

Dillon earned his first NNS victory in the car tonight by leading a Kentucky Speedway series track record 192 laps.

From Kentucky Speedway-PR

2012 NNS Feed the Children 300 Race Results

Austin Dillon brings No. 3 to Victory Lane at KYS
Photo – Getty Images

There was nothing stopping the NNS Feed the Children 300 pole-sitter Austin Dillon, from receiving his first series career win Friday night, as he dominates the field at Kentucky Speedway by leading the most laps, and finishing 9.892 seconds ahead of second-place finisher, Kurt Busch.

By leading 192 laps of the 200 that were run, Dillon set the record for the most laps led in NNS at Kentucky Speedway – the previous record was held by Carl Edwards with 150 laps led in 2005 – and puts the No. 3 car back in victory lane – which hasn’t won in the NNS since Dale Earnhardt Jr won at Daytona on 7/2/2010.

Following Dillon – who takes over the points lead from Elliott Sadler with a two-point  lead – and Busch to the drop of the checkered flag were Kevin Harvick finishing in third, Michael Annett fourth and Justin Allgaier finished fifth.

Rounding out the top-ten finishing positions were Sam Hornish, Jr, who finished sixth, Brad Keselowski seventh, Ricky Stenhouse Jr eighth, Elliott Sadler ninth and last night’s NCWTS winner, James Buescher finishing in the tenth position.

Race Notes
Average Speed – 151.643-mph
Time of Race – 1 Hrs, 58 mins, 42 secs
Margin of Victory – 9.828 seconds
Lead Changes – 7 among 4 drivers
Cautions – 2 for 12 laps
Attendance – 30,000

Race Results
Point Standings

Keep in mind these rankings are are not available, because Dillon’s No. 3 car failed post-race inspection. Penalties are expected for the team Monday or Tuesday. When official results are available, the links will be provided.

Next Up – The Subway Jalapeno 250 powered by Coca-Cola at Daytona International Speedway on Friday July 6th, with an approximate start time of 7:50pm ET, and television coverage provided by ESPN beginning with their 7:00pm ET pre-race show.

From Timing & Scoring provided by NASCARmedia

Friday, June 29, 2012
2012 NSCS Quaker State 400 Starting Lineup
Five-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion, Jimmie Johnson, with a qualifying lap speed of 181.818-mph, captured the 2012 Quaker State 400 Coors Light Pole Award at Kentucky Speedway.

This was Johnson’s first series pole of the 2012 season, his twenty-sixth series career pole and his first series pole at Kentucky Speedway.

Sharing the front row with Johnson in second and with a qualifying lap speed of 181.421-mph, will be Kyle Busch, and they will be followed by Denny Hamlin 181.147-mph starting third, Kevin Harvick 180.367 fourth and Ryan Newman 180.337 will start fifth.

Rounding out the top-ten starting positions will be Clint Bowyer 180.228-mph who will start sixth, Dale Earnhardt Jr 180.222 seventh, Brad Keselowski 180.204 eighth, Jeff Gordon 180.036 ninth and Martin Truex Jr. 179.964 will start from the tenth position.

Failing to make the starting lineup were the #49 driven by JJ Yeley and the #52 driven by Mike Skinner.

The 2nd annual Quaker State 400 is set to get underway Saturday evening around 7:50pm ET and TNT will provide television coverage beginning with their 6:30pm ET “Countdown to Green” pre-race show.

Starting Lineup

From Timing & Scoring provided by NASCARmedia

SRT Motorsports – Dodge – NASCAR Program Statement
In response to inquiries about the company’s NASCAR motorsports program, Beth Paretta, Director of Marketing and Operations – SRT Brand and Motorsports, Chrysler Group LLC, offers the following statement:

“While we continue to evaluate plans in NASCAR for 2013 and beyond, we have no commitments with any partners at this time. We continue to be pleased with the amount of interest from the media and fans in our motorsports program and will continue to follow our process as established in a timely manner. When decisions are finalized, we will announce them at that time. Currently what is most important is that we have not lost any focus on 2012 and our partnership with Penske Racing. Our commitment to win races and compete for championships with Penske Racing in both the Sprint Cup Series and Nationwide Series this season remains firm. We will not lose focus on that partnership as we make decisions about our future in NASCAR.”

From Darnell Communications for SRT Motorsports – Dodge-PR

2012 NNS Feed the Children 300 Starting Lineup
NASCAR Nationwide Series Sunoco Rookie of the Year contender, Austin Dillon, with a qualifying lap speed of 172.199-mph, captured the 2012 Feed the Children 300 Coors Light Pole Award at Kentucky Speedway.

This was Dillons’ second series pole of the 2012 season, his second series career pole and his first series pole at Kentucky Speedway.

Starting second on the outside pole with a qualifying lap speed of 171.401-mph, will be Kevin Harvick, followed by Brad Keselowski 170.611-mph who will start third, Sam Hornish Jr 170.175 fourth and Ricky Stenhouse Jr 170.122 starting fifth.

Rounding out the top-ten starting positions will be Denny Hamlin 169.795-mph who will start sixth, Justin Allgaier 169.561 seventh, Kurt Busch 169.311 eighth, Michael Annett 169.025 ninth and rookie contender Cole Whitt 168.808 will start from the tenth position.

Failing to make the starting lineup was the #72 driven by John Jackson.

The 12th annual Feed the Children 300 is set to get started around 7:50pm ET tonight, and ESPN 2 will provide television coverage beginning with their 7pm ET pre-race show.

Starting Lineup

From Timing & Scoring provided by NASCARmedia

2012 NSCS Quaker State 400 Final Practice Session Speeds
During the final NSCS Quaker State 400 practice session at Kentucky Speedway, it was Jeff Gordon with a lap speed of 175.097-mph, on top of the speed charts at the end of the session.

Second fastest on the speed charts with a lap speed of 174.633-mph, was Brad Keselowski, followed by Greg Biffle 173.958-mph who was third fastest, AJ Allmendinger 173.572 fourth and Carl Edwards 173.494 was fifth fastest.

Rounding out the top-ten fastest during the “Happy Hour” – final – practice session were Casey Mears 173.310-mph who was sixth fastest, Dale Earnhardt Jr 173.144 seventh, Denny Hamlin 172.900 eighth, Kyle Busch 172.723 ninth and David Stremme 172.596 posting the tenth fastest lap speed.

The teams will return early this evening for their 5:10pm ET scheduled qualifying session to determine the starting lineup for the 2nd annual Quaker State 400, which is set to get underway Saturday evening around 7:50pm ET. TNT will provide television coverage beginning with their 6:30pm ET “Countdown to Green” pre-race show.

Final Practice Session Speeds
Qualifying Order

From Timing & Scoring provided by NASCARmedia

2012 NSCS Quaker State 400 Q&A with Ford Racing Team Owner Jack Roush
Jack Roush, owner of Roush Fenway Racing, addressed the media Friday afternoon at Kentucky to discuss the announcement this week that Matt Kenseth would leave the organization at the end of this season and Ricky Stenhouse Jr would be promoted to a full time Cup car in 2013.

Jack Roush – Welcome back to your home state. You had some news come out of your race organization this week, talk about that. 

“…First and foremost I have enjoyed the 15 years with Matt and the success that he has had and the growth that has occurred to the team through his time as a driver. He, like Mark Martin and Greg and Carl, his is a cornerstone of what we do and his DNA is all over the things that we are known for and our success. I will say that I was as surprised as most of you must have been when I learned that he would not be signing with us to go forward. It was a surprise and I had no idea that we were at that point. I won’t comment on the negotiations, on any negotiations that might have occurred, because we have an agreement to not talk about that. His leaving the team creates a window, a hole if you like, that we have a very capable, able, ready, enthusiastic, motivated and ambitious drivers. We actually have two of them ready to fill voids. One of them is Ricky Stenhouse and of course the other is Trevor (Bayne). The plan is for Trevor to be in some kind of full time ride next year and of course Ricky is the heir-apparent to the 17 program. There is not an understanding nor an impression that Robbie Reiser or I have that there will be a mass exodus. The key people are very committed to what we are doing and very committed to winning a championship for our sponsors and fans and for all the employees that stand behind our program with the 17 this year. If it works out that he has that opportunity. There will be no diminished effort to make the very most of what time we have left together. I want to make a comment that when I chose Mark Martin in 1998 he didn’t have a place in the NASCAR drivers league. When we make a place for Matt Kenseth he was struggling to hang on to a Nationwide ride with Robbie Reiser as his team owner. Kurt Busch, Carl Edwards – we have had a lot of success with young drivers that were not established and have not made it our habit to go out and try to court somebody else’s driver to see if we could improve our prospects by gaining somebody else’s loss. This is a challenging time for sponsorships. It is tough for everybody. You find that there is hardly a car in the garage that runs one sponsor with the kind of singular support appearance that we had in the 80s and 90s. It is a reality that it takes multiple sponsors to make most of these programs work but it was the case that we did run Jeff Burton for a period of time when I had no sponsor for him. We ran Carl for a period of time with no sponsor for him. We did the same for Kurt Busch. There was no predisposition that we were limited to what we would do with Matt going forward based on the sponsorships that were there. We’ve been bery much encouraged and had encouraging conversations with all the sponsors around the 17 team and the other programs we have sough sponsorships for. We think we had seen the bottom of the well as far as the shortage of sponsors. Certainly there was not a sponsorship reason why Matt’s future with Roush Fenway was in doubt, before or during negotiations.”

Certainly you don’t feel at this point that you have failed or are there things you feel you could have done just thinking things were peachy keen in that area with Matt?

“You know what, in regard to my interview with you; I was taking a look at things from the back side and thought maybe I shouldn’t have done that. What Claire is talking about is when Matt made his agreement three years ago with us he came to me and said, ‘Jack, relax.’ I said, ‘Why should I relax, I have all these problems.’ He said, ‘I have signed my contract.’ I said I didn’t even know we were in negotiation for the contract and asked, ‘Was it due?’ and he said, ‘Yes, we are good for three more years.’ I told him that if these guys don’t do for you what you need to let me know and maybe you and I walk out the door together. I hope nobody calls my bluff on that.”

Do you feel like there is something you could have done to stop him from leaving?

“If I had been as vigilant and diligent and interested in that side of the business as I am on finding why a fuel pump broke or why a connection rod bearing failed or hwo we could get the next pound of downforce – if I had been taking care of the business side of the business as hard as I tried to take care of the technical side I might have been able to stop that.”

How hard is it to divorce the personal from the professional side because you guys have these personal and professional relationships?

“Matt and I and I think everybody on the team the friendship part will survive. I have not lost respect for Matt and I hope he hasn’t for me. I won’t have the same sense of wishing for his success on the race track next year that I will for the balance of this year and have in the past, he will from my point of view be moving to the dark side. We will get through that. Personally we will be fine.”

Are you confident at this point that sponsorship will be in place for Ricky next year and what is the scenario for crew chief for him?

“Let me say that the primary focus of our sponsorship efforts had been around Matt and the 17 car. The determination and decision to run Matt and the 17 and carry on as usual was not dependent on any level of sponsorship. If no sponsorship was there at all, which of course is not and would not be the case, we still would have run the 17 car for an indeterminate period of time. As far as crew chiefs are concerned – and by the way the initial conversations we have had with sponsors has been all positive in terms of their understanding and commitment to the program – as far as crew chiefs go, the 17 program is a championship level program and for Ricky to have all the guidance and expertise and support that Jimmy Fennig and they guys can provide is essential. We will have a full time Nationwide program next year and the plan is now for Trevor to be the driver for that program although that has not been announced and I am not announcing it here today, but that is our plan. In the same vein, we have a championship level Nationwide program in place with Mike Kelly and my hope is to keep that together so that we can compete effectively toward a championship with Ricky this year but also be able to do the same thing with Trevor next year.

Do you want to keep the 17 or would you go to the 6 for Ricky and also why is it so difficult to sell a guy that is a NASCAR champion, has two Daytona 500s, numerous wins, family background type of guy? Is it that he is 40-something? Are the sponsors looking for something more youthful? What seems to be the problem there?

“The 17, Jimmy Fennig and the group are the 17 and that group will run under the 17’s banner. The 6 is a cornerstone that for the time being we have set aside but the fact is I haven’t been told so I am really out there on an edge. I see Steve Newmark over there and he isn’t close enough to kick me or whisper something in my ear but to the best of my knowledge the sponsor interest we have and the image for that team and that group is 17. I would expect that will continue although if a sponsor insisted on the 6, that would be an option but I don’t see that being a possibility. You know, the sponsorship business ebbs and flows. The economy certainly caught us in a bad position with all our programs maturing and reaching termination right when the economy went in the tank or within a year after that. That put us in a bad situation. If we’d had, as we have had something in the last 24 years – this is not the first economic downturn we have had although it is the worst one we’ve had – in the pas we have been able to bride those and our agreements haven’t come to conclusion when the future was not certain. It was bad timing, nobody’s fault and I don’t think the problem we’ve had with Matt would have been worse if Greg’s situation had matured at the same time. We were happy to have folks with 3M that saw the future relationship being important and they were willing and able to negotiate new contracts before the old ones were concluded. That was a happy situation there. Matt is a champion and certainly there has been interest and we’ve got Fifth Third and Best Buy on board this year and a number of other sponsors that I am not able to mention because the conversations are ongoing for that team that were very interested in Matt. I guess I tend to differ that Matt has been a great challenge to sell sponsorship based on his image. I think the challenges we had were predicated and caused by the economy and the timing.”

From PCGCampbell for Ford Racing-PR

Andretti to Dodge in 2013 with Kenseth & Petty?
Sources have confirmed to that Michael Andretti has purchased the engine program from Penske Racing and will field at least one full time Dodge in the Cup series in 20134 and beyond…

No word on who the driver is, but with Matt Kenseth leaving Roush at the end of the season, the 2003 Cup series champ did confirm to the Journal Sentine on Wednesday that he will drive for “a new cup team” in 2013 and beyond. One option on the table is for Andretti to base his team out of the old Evernham Motorsports shop at the Statesville Regional Airport in Statesville, NC.

Read more from

2012 NSCS Quaker State 400 First Practice Session Speeds
Kyle Busch, with a lap speed of 177.801-mph, was the quickest during the first NSCS Quaker State 400 practice session at Kentucky Speedway.

Second quickest with a lap speed of 176.817-mph, was Dale Earnhardt Jr and he was followed by Jimmie Johnson 176.540-mph who was third quickest, Clint Bowyer 176.488 fourth and Martin Truex Jr 176.327 was fifth quickest.

Rounding out the top-ten quickest during the practice session was Aric Almirola 175.936-mph who was sixth quickest, Denny Hamlin 175.919 seventh, Kevin Harvick 175.896 eighth, Jamie McMurray 175.890 ninth and Marcos Ambrose 175.856 posting the tenth quickest lap speed.

The teams will have their “Happy Hour” – final – practice session from 1:30 – 3pm ET today before returning early this evening for their 5:10pm ET scheduled qualifying session.

The 2nd annual Quaker State 400 is set to get underway Saturday evening around 7:50pm ET and TNT will provide television coverage beginning with their 6:30pm ET “Countdown to Green” pre-race show.

First Practice Speeds

From Timing & Scoring provided by NASCARmedia 

2012 NNS Feed the Children 300 Final Practice Session Speeds
The 2012 NASCAR Nationwide Series champion, Brad Keselowski with a lap speed of 174.295-mph, was the fastest during the final Feed the Children 300 at Kentucky Speedway.

Sunoco Rookie of the Year contender, Austin Dillon, with a lap speed of 174.154-mph, was the second fastest, followed by Kevin Harvick 172.585-mph who was third fastest, while Kurt Busch and rookie contender Cole Whitt with the identical lap speed of 172.513 were fourth and fifth fastest respectively.

Rounding out the top-ten fastest during the “Happy Hour” – final – practice session were Sam Hornish Jr 172.359-mph who was sixth fastest, Justin Allgaier 172.095 seventh, Michael Annett 171.707 eighth, Denny Hamlin 171.559 ninth and Ricky Stenhouse Jr 171.483 posting the tenth fastest lap speed.

The teams will return for qualifying later this afternoon at 3:35pm ET to determine the starting lineup for the 12th annual Feed the Children 300, which is set to get started around 7:50pm ET tonight. ESPN2 will provide television coverage beginning with their 7:00pm ET pre-race show.

Final Practice Speeds

From Timing & Scoring provided by NASCARmedia

Statement from Daytona International Speedway, President Joie Chitwood III
“International Speedway Corporation, parent company of Daytona International Speedway, has filed a Planned Master Development application with the City of Daytona Beach – the first step in the pursuit of potential redevelopment projects at the ‘World Center of Racing.’

This application process is necessary in order to establish the framework that would allow us to explore how to best shape the future of Daytona International Speedway.

While many aspects of the project are yet to be determined, such a project could include a complete overhaul of the entire frontstretch grandstand of the legendary speedway, creating a world class motorsports entertainment facility including features such as new seats, suites and guest amenities, as well as new entry points, improved fan conveyance, a modern exterior, first-class interior areas, and a redesigned midway for fans.

Our filing with the City of Daytona Beach is only the first step in a long process and there are still many unanswered questions that could impact or even derail this initiative. Multiple internal and external factors will influence the economics and project feasibility, and construction design and costs must still be determined. All these must be addressed before the project can be taken to the ISC Board of Directors for the green flag of final approval.

While there is a long road ahead, we are very excited about the future of Daytona International Speedway, Daytona Beach and Volusia County. We believe the approval of this application is the first step in expanding the economic development benefits that central Florida enjoys from major motorsports. We will provide future updates as they become available.”

From Daytona International Speedway-PR

Thursday, June 28, 2012
2012 NCWTS UNOH 225 Race Results

James Buescher celebrates in KYS Victory Lane
Photo – Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

James Buescher became the first two-time winner in the 2012 NCWTS season, as he wins the UNOH 225 at Kentucky Speedway on Thursday night.

Buescher, who started off the season by winning in the series first race of the season at Daytona, also received his second series career win and was followed by Brad Keselowski finishing second, NCWTS Sunoco Rookie of the Year contender Ty Dillon, third, pole-sitter Matt Crafton fourth and Timothy Peters – who now has a 4-point lead over Justin Lofton and Ty Dillon in the series point standings – finished fifth.

Rounding out the top-ten finishing positions were Johnny Sauter finishing sixth, Joey Coulter seventh, Jason Leffler eighth, Ron Hornaday Jr ninth and impressive tenth-place finish by Kyle Larson.

Race Notes 
Average Speed – 121.330-mph
Time of Race – 1 Hr, 51 Mins, 16 Secs
Margin of Victory – 3.805 seconds
Lead Changes – 8 among 4 drivers
Cautions – 7 for 31 laps
Attendance – 25,000

Race Results
Point Standings

Next Up – The series takes another weekend off before returning for the American Ethanol 200 at Iowa Speedway on Saturday, July 14th. The race is scheduled to start at approximately 8:50pm ET and television coverage will be provided by SPEED beginning at 8:00pm ET

From Timing & Scoring provided by NASCARmedia

2012 NNS Feed the Children 300 First Practice Session Speeds
NNS Rookie of the Year contender, Cole Whitt, with a lap speed of 170.320-mph, was the fastest during the first Feed the Children 300 practice session at Kentucky Speedway.

Second fastest was Kurt Busch with a lap speed of 169.454-mph, and he was followed by Brad Keselowski 169.051-mph who was third fastest, Sam Hornish Jr 168.639 fourth and Elliott Sadler 168.624 was fifth fastest.

Rounding out the top-ten fastest during practice were Kevin Harvick 168.503 who was sixth fastest, Ricky Stenhouse Jr 168.093 seventh, rookie contender Austin Dillon 167.738 eighth, Denny Hamlin 167.167 posting the tenth fastest lap speed.

The teams will return to the track Friday morning for their 9:00 am to 10:30am ET scheduled “Happy Hour” – final – practice session, and the qualifying later that afternoon at 3:35pm ET.

The 12th annual Feed the Children 300 is set to get started around 7:50pm ET Friday night and ESPN2 will provide television coverage beginning with their 7PM ET pre-race show. 

First Practice Session speeds

2012 NCWTS UNOH 225 Starting Lineup
Matt Crafton, with a qualifying lap speed of 163.288-mph captured the 2012 NCWTS UNOH 225 Keystone Light Pole Award at Kentucky Speedway.

This was Crafton’s first series pole of the 2012 season, his seventh series career pole and his first series pole at Kentucky Speedway.

Starting on the outside pole in second with a qualifying lap speed of 172.574-mph, will be Nelson Piquet Jr, followed by James Buescher 172.326-mph starting third, NCWTS Sunoco Rookie of the Year contender, Ty Dillon 171.816 fourth and Miguel Paludo 171.723 will start fifth.

Rounding out the top-ten starting positions will be Johnny Sauter 171.570-mph starting sixth, Timothy Peters 171.527 seventh, Parker Kligerman 171.439 eighth, rookie contender Cale Gale 171.260 ninth and Justin Lofton 171.048 will start from the tenth position.

Failing to make the starting lineup were the #38 driven by Johnny Chapman; the #57 driven by Norm Benning and the #10 driven by Chris Lafferty.

The inaugural UNOH 225 is scheduled to get underway tonight at around 8:20pm ET and SPEED will begin their pre-race television coverage at 7:30pm ET.

Starting Lineup

From Timing & Scoring provided by NASCARmedia

2012 NCWTS UNOH 225 Final Practice Session Speeds
Once again, it was Joey Coulter showing the fastest way around Kentucky Speedway, as he posted a lap speed of 171.336-mph, during the final NCWTS UNOH 225 practice session.

Miguel Paludo, with a lap speed of 171.070-mph was second fastest and was followed by Nelson Piquet Jr 170.919-mph who was third fastest, Jason Leffler 170.449 fourth and James Buescher 170.283 was fifth fastest.

Rounding out the top-ten fastest during the “Happy Hour” – final – practice session were Johnny Sauter 170.218 who was sixth fastest, Matt Crafton 169.988 seventh, Jason White 169.401 eighth, Brad Keselowski 169.391 ninth and Timothy Peters 169.300 posting the tenth fastest lap speed.

The teams will return early this evening at 5:05pm ET for qualifying to determine the starting lineup for the inaugural UNOH 225, which is scheduled to get underway tonight at around 8:20pm ET and SPEED will begin their pre-race coverage at 7:30pm ET.

Final Practice Session Speeds

From Timing & Scoring provided by NASCARmedia

2012 NCWTS UNOH 225 First Practice Session Speeds
After being off for almost three weeks, the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series returns to action with their first inaugural UNOH 225 practice session at Kentucky Speedway. And, it was Joey Coulter, with a lap speed of 170.530-mph, posting the quickest lap of the session.

Second quickest with a lap speed of 170.487-mph, was Parker Kligerman followed by Justin Lofton 170.374 who was third quickest, James Buescher 170.148 fourth and Nelson Piquet Jr 170.079 was fifth quickest.

NCWTS Sunoco Rookie of the Year contender, Ty Dillon 169.790-mph posted the sixth quickest lap speed, while Miguel Paludo 169.774 was seventh quickest, Matt Crafton 169.619 eighth, Johnny Sauter 169.587 ninth and rookie contender Ross Chastain 169.078 rounding out the top-ten quickest in practice.

The teams will have their “Happy Hour” – final – practice session following today’s first session from 12:00 – 1:30pm ET and then return early this evening at 5:05pm ET for qualifying.

The inaugural UNOH 225 is scheduled to get underway tonight at around 8:20pm ET and SPEED will begin their pre-race coverage at 7:30pm ET.

First Practice Speeds

From Timing & Scoring provided by NASCARmedia

Jacques Villenueve sponsor upset with his comments after dustup with Danica Patrick
Discount Tire, which sponsors the Penske Racing No. 22 Nationwide Series car, issued a statement Wenesday expressing its displeasure with Penske driver Jacques Villeneuve’s actions in Saturday’s race at Road America.

The sponsor wasn’t upset that Villeneuve spun Danica Patrick on the final lap. It was upset over Villeneuve’s laissez-faire attitude following the race.

Read more from Sporting News

Matt Kenseth has new job lined up for next season
Matt Kenseth has kept his name out of the rumor mill for most of his NASCAR career.

When it finally popped up, it was a bombshell: The Sprint Cup Series points leader was planning his departure from Roush Fenway Racing.

Kenseth said Wednesday that he has a new deal already in place for 2013, and although he said he’s not ready to announce it, all signs point to a move to Joe Gibbs Racing. He laughed when asked how he went from being a guy nobody even mentioned in free-agent discussions to one of the biggest movers in many years.

Read more from Yahoo Sports/AP

Driver Matt Kenseth Talks about his move from Roush Fenway on ‘NASCAR Race Hub’
Driver Matt Kenseth, the 2003 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion joined host Steve Byrnes and NASCAR Race Hub on Speed following the announcement that he’s slated to leave Roush Fenway Racing at the end of the 2012 season.

Kenseth, who’s also the current points leader, talked about the move, what the rest of this season could bring and what lies ahead in the future.

Steve Byrnes – There aren’t many surprises in this sport, but that was a shocker yesterday. This weekend you were asked if you had anything to report and you said, “No.” How did this all happen? How did this happen this quickly, this week?

Matt Kenseth – I didn’t have anything to report. Everything happened fairly quick, the timing of the release from Roush was really up to them. They wanted to get that out as soon as possible. Everything came together kind of quickly, but in another way, it’s something that’s been going on all season.

Byrnes – Was this your decision to make a move? I could envision you; a lot of people could, literally retiring at Roush Fenway, spending your entire career there. Some athletes are able to do that, some aren’t, but was this your decision? Or was this Roush Fenway saying we need to go in a younger direction? What actually happened there?

Kenseth – I’ve always envisioned retiring at Roush Fenway Racing as well. There are a lot of things that happened – and things that didn’t happen – that probably got us to where we are at. I think, at the end of the day, I’m exited (about) what’s ahead of me, not just this season, but starting next year as well. I think long term; this will probably be good for Roush Fenway Racing as well, to get Ricky (Stenhouse Jr) in there and kind of maybe work on the future there. It was a tough conversation to have with Jack (Roush) and I have a ton of respect for him. Without Jack, Martin Martin and Robbie Reiser, I would never be sitting here (and) never had been able to drive Cup cars. I’m looking forward to racing the rest of the year, hopefully keeping the 17 up front, and finishing our relationship there on a high note.

Byrnes – Where will you be driving in 2013?

Kenseth – Well Steve, you know I can’t tell you that. That’s the other half of the story we can’t talk about yet, so hopefully, we’ll jump over that hurdle sooner than later and be able to put together some kind of announcement to let everybody know what’s ahead for me in 2013 and beyond. We kind of know were Roush is at  with some of the things they have line up.

Byrnes – How do you keep your arms around this great team? You’re the points leader, how do you keep this team together, and focused on winning that championship?

Kenseth – You said a great team, and I think that’s one of the key words. I’ve been really blessed my whole career to have great people around me. Great race team, great leadership… Jimmy (Fennig) does a great job leading that team. Jimmy gives a hundred percent every week, as well as the rest of the team. Great leadership with Robbie Reiser down there running the whole shop (with) the performance part, Doug (Yates) and (those) guys building great engines. I just on’t see anybody giving up. If anything, it’s probably more motivation for (those) guys to run good. This business is, unfortunately, a lot different than some other sports with so many moving pieces to put stuff together. You just really can’t get it put together much later than this. I’m looking forward to racing the rest of the year. I’m looking forward to getting some of this stuff behind us, so we can get focused back on going out there and driving the 17 car, hopefully keeping it up front and challenging for a championship.


Wednesday, June 27, 2012
SPEED NASCAR Analysts React to Matt Kenseth Leaving Roush
Yesterday, driver Matt Kenseth, the 2003 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion, and Roush Fenway Racing formally announced they will part ways at the end of the 2012 racing season. Defending NASCAR Nationwide Series champion Ricky Stenhouse Jr is set to replace Kenseth in the No. 17 Ford.

Former crew chief Larry McReynolds, NASCAR analyst for both FOX & SPEED, talked about the decision and how he thinks it will impact the team going forward. Here is what he had to say…

SPEED – What’s your initial reaction to the move?
McReynolds – I’m surprised on one hand because of the past success that Matt Kenseth and Roush Fenway Racing have shared, including being the current point’s leader. But on the other, I’m not at all. I think Matt went through the same process that Carl Edwards did just before he signed back with RFR, thinking that he might be able to go to a Joe Gibbs Racing and dominate by running off between eight to 11 wins in a season.

SPEED – What do you think about Stenhouse Jr moving up to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series?
McReynolds – Obviously, as we look at up-and-coming talent that’s not in the Sprint Cup Series right now, I would have to say the name at the top of that chart would be Ricky Stenhouse Jr. I think he has a couple of Sprint Cup Series starts, he ran the Daytona 500 for Roush Fenway, but when I go back to his first start a little over a year ago for Wood Brothers Racing – the 21 team at the Coke 600 in Charlotte when Trevor Bayne was sick – I was very impressed with what he did that entire race weekend.  To make your first start in the Coke 600, with a team that runs a limited schedule, he qualified in the top-ten – ninth – and he finished 11th, – ever after – he got into the wall two or three times along the way of the 600-mile race.

I get the feeling that both parties think this 13-plus year relationship, even with leading the points right now, has gotten stale. But it is also pretty evident to me that both parties had something else in the works. Obviously Roush Fenway did because they have already made the announcement and I think Matt Kenseth has, or is close to having,something in place as well.

SPEED – How does this impact the team in their pursuit of a championship for 2012?
McReynolds – Everybody in that organization is human, so it’s hard to say it won’t have some impact. I’m going to give an exception, now, nothing the magitude of the driver leaving, but let’s go back to the end of last year. I think it was known that – Tony Stewart’s crew chief in 2011 – Darian Grubb – was leaving – probably before The Chase even started, and it was officially announced halfway through The Chase, but it did not take away from their efforts to win that championship.

Now that was the crew chief. Do I think Matt Kenseth, – crew chief – Jimmie Fennig, Roush Fenway Racing and the 17 team can win this championship? Absolutely, I still think they have to win more races, but I said that two or three weeks ago. Their teammate from last year Carl Edwards is a pretty good measuring stick in that being consistent, but just winning one race is not going to win you the championship. Only they can control this. It’s in the palm of their hand. If it becomes a distraction, they won’t win it. I think Matt can and will, Jimmy can and will, but only time will truly tell.

SPEED: What do you think about Roush Fenway’s position financially based on this move?
McReynolds – This is just opinion and analysis, but I think Jack Roush – a lot like Joe Gibbs four years ago when he slid Joey Logano down into the seat of the 20 car that Tony Stewart had left – is very high on Ricky Stenhouse Jr and rightly so. Look at what the kid has accomplished in the last year and a half. The drivers that are going to be available next year that could possibly to into that 17 car – and that are given names – you kind of know what you get. There’s a reason they are available.

I think Jack Roush is no different from Joe Gibbs four years ago and says, ‘I don’t really know where I’m going to be with Ricky Stenhouse Jr, but I’m willing to roll the dice and see.’ Who knows? This kid could be the next Jimmie Johnson. He’s obviously had a lot more success in the Nationwide Series than even Jimmie Johnson did. Nobody knows that. Not even Ricky Stenhouse Jr knows that. I applaud Jack for not just circulating the same body of drivers through the system back and forth. Certainly, Ricky Stenhouse Jr will come at a smaller price and let’s face it; the 17 team has struggled with sponsorship for the last year or so.

SPEED – Are there any similarities between this and Mark Martin’s departure?
McReynolds – I don’t think so. I think when Mark left there, he truly didn’t have anything in the works, and I think Mark was truly looking for a limited schedule that Roush Fenway Racing could not give him. That’s not what Matt Kenseth is looking for, to my knowledge.

SPEED analyst and former Roush Fenway Racing crew chief Jeff Hammond offers his perspective on this situation and its ramifications not only within Kenseth’s team but throughout the sport:

Q – Do you think the fact Kenseth is leaving Roush Fenway Racing at the end of the season will be a distraction to his title run this year?
Hammond – “The No. 17 is a veteran team led by Jimmy Fennig, and I don’t expect Jimmy to do anything but produce his absolute best. Having worked for Jack Roush, I know he won’t slight the No. 17 team at all with regard to what they need, and given the fact Matt has a lot of respect not only for his organization but for his fans, I don’t think we’ll see any ‘quit’ in his team at all. Them losing focus isn’t a factor in my book and I think they’ll be there until the end. It may be difficult, but they’ll keep focus and move on. Let’s roll back the hands of time to a year ago, and although he didn’t end up leaving for greener pastures, there was quite a bit of talk about Carl Edwards leaving Roush. He was leading the points at the time, too, and although he lost the championship, they were in the hunt and went down swinging right into the very last race.”

Q – Does Kenseth leaving signal any financial concerns within RFR, which struggled to capitalize on Trevor Bayne’s Daytona 500 win and wasn’t able to secure sponsorship for a fourth Cup car?
Hammond – “Singling out Roush Fenway Racing would be irresponsible because there are very few Cup cars with consistent sponsorship for the year. Here we have a former champion and a two-time Daytona 500 winner who is having a hard time getting sponsors to spend the money to fully fund his team.

“This just heightens what is going on in the country as a whole because the economy is driving this issue – not the sport. Despite some people’s contention the economy is recovering, it remains weak when it comes to our sport. We still have some decline in attendance and the majority of teams are rounding out their sponsorship needs with several sponsors. Gone are the days of one big sponsor covering the entire year. We still have a long way to go to completely recover and regain the footing we had five or six years ago.”

Q – It appears Silly Season now is in full swing with Matt Kenseth the first domino to officially fall. How does this affect other drivers whose names have been in the rumor mill?
Hammond – “This announcement once again starts the talk and everyone wondering where all these drivers will go next year. It will be interesting because I think there is a question mark about who will be in the No. 55 next year fulltime or whether Mark Martin, Brian Vickers and Michael Waltrip will continue to split that ride. Joey Logano’s safety at Joe Gibbs Racing continues to be debated, and Ryan Newman is a free agent. Don’t forget Martin Truex Jr either. There are a lot of unknowns at the moment and this is just the beginning. It’s a wild beginning because I wouldn’t ever have believed a 14-year veteran of Roush, who just won the Daytona 500 and is leading the points, would be out looking for another job next year. For a driver of Kenseth’s caliber to announce his departure this early in the season really grabs our attention. It also shows just how much of a major-league sport NASCAR really is. It’s like a LeBron James situation where he has been with a team for so long and has been a cornerstone of the organization. His departure rattles the whole sport and makes everyone wonder if he’ll end up somewhere where he will perform even better and possibly win even more championships.

Below, Dave Despain, host of “Wind Tunnel” on SPEED, offers his perspective on this situaiton:

“I suspect Kenseth leaving will absolutely zero impact on his or the team’s efforts to win the championship. When you’ve been together as long as Kenseth and Roush have, you learn each other’s good and bad points. He and Roush both are racers and racers are there for one thing – to win – and this will not impact their bid to win the championship.

“I think it’s safe to assume that breaking up a marriage that has lasted as long as this one probably is a reflection of how hard the economy has hit this sport. The underlying factor at work here has to be sponsorship at some level and not friction between the driver and owner.

“However, in the long run, this will be good for Roush, because he’s putting a young, rising star in the seat. Short-term, it’s not good to lose a driver of Kenseth’s stature and current performance level, but in terms of building his team for the future, this is real good for Roush.

“Despite what may be behind Kenseth’s departure, trading the championship points leader for a rookie is a trade down. Over the long haul, though, it’s beneficial for Roush because they can put their next big star in the big show and begin grooming him while they still have two legitimate title contenders in the mix.


Tuesday, June 26, 2012
PIR to be Featured in ABC’s The Bachelorette
Phoenix International Raceway will be featured in the July 2 episode of The Bachelorette, The episode will cover a unique individual hometown date with the newest Bachelorette, Emily Maynard, the first single mom to ever star on the series, who first captured America’s heart on the 15th season of “The Bachelor.”

As the premier motorsports venue in the Southwest and a mainstay in the sport of NASCAR, Phoenix International Raceway is excited to branch out into primetime television with the track’s debut on The Bachelorette. “We are thrilled to host Arie and Emily on part of their hometown date,” said track President Bryan R. Sperber, “Race fans should keep an eye out for the blue wall of their favorite race track on July 2 and cheer on their hometown.”

From Phoenix International Raceway-PR

Stenhouse Jr to Drive for Roush Fenway in Sprint Cup Series in 2013
Roush Fenway Racing announced today that 2011 NASCAR Nationwide Series champion Ricky Stenhouse Jr will compete for the team full-time in NASCAR Sprint Cup Series competition beginning in 2013, while Matt Kenseth and Roush Fenway will part ways at the conclusion of the 2012 season.

“Rick Stenhouse Jr has more than proved his abilities on the race track,” said team co-owner Jack Roush. “We feel that he is not only a key piece of our team’s future, but a key piece of the future of the sport. Roush Fenway is an organization with a wonderful past and present, as well as an extremely promising future, and Ii can’t think of a better candidate than Ricky to usher in the next era of success for the team.

“Of course, I’d like to thank Matt Kenseth for his many years of loyal service,” added Roush. “Matt has been an integral part of this organization for well over a decade, and we are extremely appreciative of his accomplishments and contributions to the team, and will always consider him a part of the Roush Fenway family.

“We’re fortunate that we were able to tap into Matt’s potential and bring him on board many years ago, and I’m proud that together we were able to combine the tools and the resources of Roush Fenway with his talent and determination to forge a partnership that yielded a championship at the Cup level and all of his 22 Cup victories, including two Daytona 500 wins,” continued Roush. “The No. 17 is positioned extremely well this season, and I’m committed to providing the team the best resources to continue their run for the 2012 championship. I have no doubt that Matt will do his part.”

“Matt and I broke into this sport together, learned the ropes and were able to bring home a championship said Roush Fenway general manager Robbie Reiser, who as crew chief of the No. 17 guided Kenseth to Roush Fenway’s first Sprint Cup title in 2003 before moving into his current role. “Over the 20 years we have worked with each other, Matt has been a fierce competitor and become a close friend, not only for me, but as a mentor to young drivers like Ricky. I wish Matt nothing but the best for the next phase of his career, and know that we’ll remain close.”

Stenhouse Jr. is one of three drivers currently in development for Roush Fenway Racing. Trevor Bayne, the 2011 Daytona 500 champion and Chris Buescher, who has won seven races in only 42 starts in ARCA competition are also being groomed for Sprint Cup competition for Roush Fenway in the future.

“We take great pride in the depth of the bench here,” noted team president Steve Newmark. “The organization’s ability to identify and develop new talent is part of our DNA and a cornerstone of our success. I’m excited about the opportunity to bring Ricky into the Sprint Cup Series and get him into victory lane. He has an incredible opportunity to continue his winning ways, just as Matt did nearly 15 years ago.”

From Roush Fenway Racing-PR

Michael Waltrip Racing takes step into elite territory
Five years from now, Clint Bowyer’s win in the Toyota/Save Mart 350 might be remembered as when Michael Waltrip Racing took its first tangible step toward becoming an elite team.

Five years ago at the same track, it hardly would have seemed possible.

Read more from USA Today

Nelson Piquet Jr: From International Scandal to NASCAR Winner
Piquet Jr is the son of legendary Formula One great Nelson Piquet. Somewhat ironically, Piquet Sr won his first F1 race in the United States at the US Grand Prix West in Long Beach, California. Only three drivers in Formula One history have won more world championships than Piquet – Senior: Michael Schumacher, Juan Manuel Fangio and Alain Prost – that’s a lot to live up to for a young Piquet Jr.

Read more from Yahoo Sports

Big crowd jostling for spot in Sprint Cup chase
Brad Keselowski starting his Monday by studying the Sprint Cup Series standings.

Currently 10th in points with two wins this season, Keselowski should be in solid position for a spot in the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship. Turns out his is just part of the logjam of talented drivers vying for one of the 12 berths.

Read more from Yahoo Sports/AP

Brian Vickers’ performance with MWR may lead to another Cup ride
After his second top-five finish in three races with Michael Waltrip Racing, Brian Vickers might have found a future home.

Vickers, who doesn’t have a full-time ride after is Red Bull Racing team closed down at the end of last season, is running a limited schedule for MWR, sharing the No. 55 car with Mark Martin and team co-owner Michael Waltrip. He finished fifth earlier this year at Bristol and fourth Sunday at Sonoma.

Read more from Sporting News

Monday, June 25, 2012
Obama’s Unclaimed NHMS Tickets on Auction

Since the President declined,
NHMS is auctioning his tickets

On Friday, President Barack Obama’s campaign respectively declined New Hampshire Motor Speedway executive vice president and general manager Jerry Gappens’ invitation to attend next month’s LENOX Industrial Tools 301. Today, Gappens is putting four tickets earmarked for the president up to the highest bidder.

With all proceeds benefiting the Speedway Children’s Charities, Gappens is starting the bidding at $100 for the four tickets located in Section H, Row 44 at the Main Grandstand, a prime location to view the top stars of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series on July 15. Each exclusive ticket has a face value of $110 and has President Obama’s name and address at the White House printed on them.

The auction will run from Wednesday, June 27 through Friday, July 6, and can be found at

“It’s the largest sporting event in New England, so it goes without saying we would have liked to have Mr. Obama join us for such a prestigious event,” says Gappens. “Instead of tossing these tickets aside we’re going to put the tickets to use to benefit Speedway Children’s Charities. This also creates an opportunity for someone to bid on a very unique set of tickets that provide a view of the race fit for the president.”

Gappens had hoped President Obama might stop by the speedway while he was in New Hampshire today on a campaign visit. On Friday, Obama’s campaign released an official statement from the office of New Hampshire State Director Pete Kavanaugh, indicating that while they did “appreciate the offer” …”the president will not be able to attend the race.”


Matt Kenseth emerges as top prize; Kurt Busch back in play after strong run
With the Sprint Cup season approaching the halfway point, the free-agent market is heating up.

And two big developments Sunday at Sonoma might have set things in motion for big deals.

Read more from Sporting News

Three-Time Champion Faces Nine-Time Most Popular Driver in Semifinals
Tony Stewart had stiff competition in Round 3 of the Drive for the Cover campaign with Denny Hamlin, but his toughest test comes this week as he faces perennial fan favorite Dale Earnhardt Jr.

The first three rounds saw several upsets and unexpected matchups, and Round 4 features four of the biggest names  in NASCAR. In Round 3, Earnhardt Jr defeated his JR Motorsports teammate – and employee – Danica Patrick to face Stewart in the next round. Kasey Kahne squeezed by Mark Martin to face Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jeff Gordon, who got by Ryan Newman in Round 3. Below are the head-to-head matchups for the semifinals:

Dale Earnhardt Jr. vs. Tony Stewart
Jeff Gordon vs. Kasey Kahne

NASCAR fans can vote in the bracketed tournament that is hosted entirely on NASCAR The Game’s Facebook page, with can easily accessed at

Voting for Round 4 of the “Drive for the Cover” campaign begins today with three weeks remaining in the campaign to select the driver who will adorn the cover of NASCAR The Game: Inside Line. Here is the remaining voting schedule, which culminates in July:

June 30 – Fourth Round Closed – 2 Drivers
July 15 – Final Round Closes – Champion

NASCAR The Game: Inside Line video trailer is available at


Jeff Gordon foiled again by fuel mistake, bad luck
Jeff Gordon led every practice session and at one point, he led the Toyota/Save Mart 350 on Sunday at Sonoma.

But then, in typical Gordon team fashion this year, the car seemed to lose its handle for part of the race. And then the team made a horrible mistake when Gordon ran out of fuel on lap 72.

Read more from Sporting News

Kurt Busch references ‘Tiger Blood,’ impresses rivals
Kurt Busch’s unsponsored car was emblazoned with no identification Sunday. But after nearly winning the Sonoma road course, Busch had a ready-made nickname for his red-and-white Chevrolet.

“If we pulled it into victory lane with an all-red car and no sponsor here in California,” Busch said. “I thought it was ‘Team Tiger Blood’ with Charlie Sheen around.”

Read more from USA Today

Kenseth declines to discuss future with Roush Fenway Racing
Daytona 500 winner Matt Kenseth declined to discuss his future with Rousch Fenway Racing before Sunday’s race at Sonoma, where there was rampant speculation he’s been talking to other race teams. 

The NASCAR points leader acts as his own agent, and has been with Roush his entire career. But his No. 17 Ford has limited sponsorship, and team owner Jack Roush has been paying out of his own pocket to ensure Kenseth runs a full season.

Read more from Myrtle Beach Online

Joey Logano Apologizes for Incidents
Joey Logano found himself on the defensive Sunday after several drivers were upset with him for rough racing at Sonoma.

Logano apologized to Denny Hamlin, Kyle Busch and Martin Truex Jr after a pair of incidents in which Logano got into the corner too hot and lost control of his car.

Read more from SB Nation

Dale Earnhardt Jr not happy with wreck, performance at Sonoma
Dale Earnhardt Jr didn’t have the speed to hang with the contenders in Sunday’s race, but perseverance and astute pit calls had him in position to escape with a top-15 finish.

That’s when a multi-car wreck after the final restart quashed his prospects. His No. 88 Cheverolet damaged in the melee, Earnhardt struggled home with a 23rd-place result, one week after ending a 143-race drought with a victory at Michigan.

Read more from Sporting News

NASCAR Notes-n-Nuggets – Sonoma

  • The win was Clint Bowyer’s sixth Cup win in his 233rd start
  • His last win was at Talladega in Oct 2011
  • Bowyer’s grabbed his first win at Sonoma in his seventh race
  • His previous best finish at Sonoma was three fourth-places.
  • It was Bowyer’s first road course win in his 13th start
  • Bowyer is the eighth different winner at Sonoma in as many races
  • He is the 16th driver to win at Sonoma in the 24th race
  • The No. 15 driver is the 12th different Cup winner of 2012
  • Bowyer’s first win with MWR and crew chief Brian Pattie
  • He moved to seventh in Cup points
  • Bowyer led three times for 71 laps including the final 39
  • The win was the third Cup victory for MWR, with Bowyer notching two
  • It’s MWR’s first win of 2012 and first at Sonoma
  • Tony Stewart – second – has finished in the top-three in the last three Cup races
  • Kurt Busch – third – had his best finish of the season
  • Brian Vickers – fourth – posted his second top-five finish in three races in 2012
  • Jimmie Johnson – fifth – has top-five finishes in five of the last six races
  • Matt Kenseth – 13th – leads the points by 11 over Greg Biffle
  • Dale Earnhardt Jr – 23rd – has worst finish of the season, dropping to third in points
From Racing Resources & Services – Statistics Racing Recall/

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