NASCAR News & Views – Volume 39 – August 13 – 19, 2012

NASCAR News & Views – Volume 39
For the week of August 13 – 19, 2012

“We had the three fastest cars duke-ing it out for the win and that’s the way it should be. I think they (NASCAR) made the right call.” Marcos Ambrose after winning his second consecutive Watkins Glen race on August 12, 2012 The Sprint Cup race at Watkins Glen International gave fans an exciting final lap through oil, spins and finally a win at the checkered flag! Marcos Ambrose won his second Watkins Glen road-course race in two years and shook up the point standings as the Race to the Chase continues with four to go. 

Jimmie Johnson currently sits at the top of the point standings, but with only 17 points between first and fourth, and the second wild card spot with another new holder, it will be fun to see what happens next week at Michigan International Speedway. 

The Camping World Truck Series will open the upcoming weekend on Saturday, August 18 in Michigan with their race at 12:00noon ET. The Nationwide series crosses the border to Montreal and will race on Saturday at 2:00pm ET.  And the green flag is scheduled to wave at approximately 1:20pm ET on Sunday, August 19th. 

Let’s begin with news for today…
Sunday, August 19, 2012
2012 NSCS Pure Michigan 400 Race Results

Biffle celebrates win #2 at MIS
Photo – Tyler Barrick/Getty Images

Greg Biffle became the latest NASCAR Sprint Cup Series points leader Sunday afternoon, as he was able to hold off Brad Keselowski and Kasey Kahne respectively to win the 2012 Pure Michigan 400 at Michigan International Speedway.

Biffle, who now leads his fellow Roush Fenway Racing teammate, Matt Kenseth, by 20-points in the standings, received series career win and his third series win at Michigan International Speedway.

Rounding out the top-ten finishing positions were Dale Earnhardt Jr, finishing in fourth, last week’s winner, Marcos Ambrose fifth, Carl Edwards sixth, Clint Bowyer seventh, Ryan Newman eighth, Paul Menard ninth and Martin Truex Jr, finished in the tenth position. 

Race Notes
Average Speed – 144.662-mph
Time of Race – 2 hrs, 46 mins, 44 secs
Margin of Victory – 0.416 seconds
Lead Changes – 26 among 13 drivers
Cautions – 8 for 35 laps
Attendance – 83,000

Race Results
Point Standings

Next Up – The 56th annual IRWIN Tools Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway on Saturday, August 25th with an approximate starting time of 7:50pm ET and television coverage provided by ESPN beginning with their 7:00pm ET “NASCAR Countdown” pre-race show.

From Timing & Scoring provided by NASCARmedia

Wild Card Contender Ryan Newman looking for Backup at MIS
SPEED TV reported on RaceDay this morning that wildcard contender Ryan Newman is not feeling well today. The team is looking for a back up driver, but crew chief Gibson says he doesn’t think the back up will be needed. They just want someone available just in case. 

This could be a factor in the wild card chase with MIS being one of the last four races before the Chase for the Sprint Cup begins. Currently, Newman is the #2 wild card holder with the most points of wild card contenders with one win.  

Update – Apparently it will be David Reutimann standing by for Ryan Newman today…per Bob Pockrass via Twitter

A Wild Day for Wild Cards
Several drivers in desparate need of win today at MIS

Kyle Busch needs a win. So does Carl Edwards. And Joey Logano. And Jeff Gordon.

The uncertainties of the wild-card race for positions in the Chase for the Sprint Cup field should add some spice to Sunday’s Pure Michigan 400, a race already more interesting than normal because of the evolving track surface.

Read more from SPEED

NASCAR drivers get auto-industry reality check
They make huge salaries, fly around in private planes, drive cool cars, and emloy public-relations agents and others who keep their calendars and keep them on time.

Insulated from the real world?

One could make that argument about NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers.

There is however, a stop on the Sprint Cup circuit that gives drivers at least a glimpse into the reality of the work-a-day world in the industry that drives their sport.

Read more from Heritage Newspaper

Saturday, August 18, 2012
Danica Patrick’s day doomed by shoe thrown on track
Danica Patrick’s season has been like a kick in the gut, and it was more than just a kick in the gut that made it a rough day as she had to feel like she was getting hit both the face and the back Saturday in the Nationwide Series race in Canada.

It all started so well as she led 20 laps and seemed poised to challenge for the win in the NAPA Auto Parts 200 at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve.

Read more from Sporting News

2012 NNS NAPA Auto Parts 200 Race Results

Allgaier celebrates win in Montreal
Photo – Tom Boland/AP Canadian Press

After a second attempt at a green-white-checkered (flags) finish, it was Justin Allgaier spoiling Jacques Villeneuve’s dominating run in the 2012 NNS NAPA Auto Parts 200 Saturday, as Allgaier takes the lead from Villeneuve – with one lap to go – and wins on the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal, Canada.

This was Allgaier’s first series win of the 2012 season, his third series career win and his first series win at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve.

Following Allgaier to the drop of the checkered flag were Sam Hornish Jr, finishing 0.353 seconds behind – in second place, Jacques Villeneuve – who led the most laps, 43 out of 81 – third, current series points leader, Elliott Sadler – now leads Ricky Stenhouse Jr – who finished 12th – by 22-points in the standings, fourth Ron Fellows finished in fifth.

Rounding out the top-ten finishing positions were Michael McDowell finishing sixth, Mike Wallace seventh, Billy Johnson eighth, series Sunoco Rookie of the Year contender, Austin Dillon, ninth and Kyle Busch finished in the tenth position.

Race Notes
Average Speed – 70.043-mph
Time of Race – 3 hrs, 07 mins, 58 secs
Margin of Victory – 0353-seconds
Lead Changes – 12 among 6 drivers
Cautions – 8 for 22 laps
Attendance – 60,000

Next Up – The Food City 250 at Bristol Motor Speedway on Friday, August 24th, with an approximate starting time of 7:50pm ET and television coverage provided by ESPN beginning with their 7:00pm ET pre-race program.

Race Results
Point Standings

From Timing & Scoring provided by NASCARmedia

2012 NCWTS VFW 200 Race Results

Piquet Jr celebrating a win at MIS
Photo – Paul Sancya/AP

Gambling on gas mileage paid off for Nelson Piquet Jr, at Michigan International Speedway Saturday afternoon, as Piquet – after 42 starts – captured his first NCWTS career victory by finishing 8.082 seconds ahead of Jason White for the win in the VFW 200.

Following Piquet – who became the first Brazilian driver to win in the series and joins Ron Fellows as the only two drivers born outside America to win in the series – and White to the drop of the checkered flag were series Sunoco Rookie of the Year contender, Dakoda Armstrong finishing third – series career best – Parker Kligerman fourth and James Buescher finished fifth.

Series rookie contender, Ty Dillon – now tied for the series lead with Timothy Peters in the point standings – finished in the sixth position, while pole-sitter Joey Coulter finished seventh, Brad Keselowski eighth, Kurt Busch – who led the most laps – 57 out of 100 – ninth and Miguel Paludo rounding out the top-ten finishing positions.

Race Notes
Average Speed – 139-508-mph
Time of Race – 1 hr, 26 mins, 01 secs
Margin of Victory – 8.082 seconds
Lead Changes – 11 among 7 drivers
Cautions – 5 for 17 laps
Attendance – 35,000

Next Up – The teams will race THIS Wednesday night – August 22nd – at Bristol Motor Speedway in the 15th annual UNOH 200. The race is scheduled to get underway around 8:20pm ET and SPEED will provide television coverage beginning with their 7:30pm ET pre-race show.

Race Results
Point Standings

From Timing & Scoring provided by NASCARmedia

2012 NSCS Pure Michigan 400 Final Practice Session Speeds
Greg Biffle continued to show the fastest way around Michigan International Speedway, as he posted the fastest lap speed of 198.879-mph, during the final NSCS Pure Michigan 400 practice session.

Jimmie Johnson, in a backup car after having to change an engine earlier in the day, was second fastest with a lap speed of 198.222-mph, and was followed by Joey Logano 197.960-mph who was third fastest, Matt Kenseth 197.916 fourth and pole-sitter Mark Martin 197.488 was fifth fastest.

Rounding out the top-ten fastest during the “Happy Hour” – final – practice session were Kasey Kahne 197.276-mph who was sixth fastest, Tony Stewart 197.158 seventh, Carl Edwards 197.141 – reported a vibration towards the end of the session – eighth, Denny Hamlin 197.098 ninth and last week’s winner, Marcos Ambrose 196.737 posting the tenth fastest lap speed.

The June Michigan event winner Dale Earnhardt Jr – in the car that he won with – wrecked towards the end of the session, and will have to start from the rear on Sunday in an unpracticed backup car.

The 43rd annual Pure Michigan 400 is scheduled to get underway at approximately 1:20pm ET Sunday afternoon, and ESPN will provide television coverage beginning with their “NASCAR Countdown” pre-race show at 12:00pm ET.

Final Practice Speeds

From Timing & Scoring provided by NASCARmedia

Keselowski Pointing Toward Victory
Brad Keselowski can move atop Chase ‘standings’ with win Sunday…

A good argument can be made that Brad Keselowski is the most relaxed guy on the track as the Sprint Cup schedule approaches the start of the Chase.

Despite a last-lap loss to Marcos Ambrose in last Sunday’s wild finish at Watkins Glen, Keselowski was bouncing around pit road after the race, trading high-fives with members of Ambrose’s crew after the excitement of the race’s final moments.

Read more from SPEED

2012 NCWTS VFW 200 Starting Lineup
Saturday morning a new NCWTS qualifying track record was reached on the newly repaved Michigan International Speedway, as Joey Coulter, with a qualifying lap speed of 184.101-mph – previous record was 181.612-mph, held by Kyle Busch back in June 2005 – captured his first series career pole by winning the 2012 VFW 200 Keystone Pole Award.

Sharing the front row with Coulter to start second and with a qualifying lap speed of 184.011-mph, will be Nelson Piquet Jr and they will be followed by Miguel Paludo 183.599-mph starting third, Kurt Busch 183.500 fourth and series Sunoco Rookie of the Year contender, Ty Dillon 183.411 will start fifth.

Rounding out the top-ten starting positions will be Johnny Sauter 182.501-mph starting sixth, Tim George Jr 182.085 seventh, James Buescher 182.071 eighth, Timothy Peters 181.956 ninth and Brad Keselowski 181.096 will start from the tenth position.

With only 35 drivers/teams vying for the 36 starting positions, there was no one failing to make the starting lineup.

The 13th annual VFW 200 is set to get underway around 12:50pm ET this afternoon, and SPEED will provide television coverage beginning with their 12:00pm ET pre-race show.

Starting Lineup

From Timing & Scoring provided by NASCARmedia

SRT Motorsports – Dodge – Keys for Success at Pure Michigan 400
Howard Comstock – SRT Motorsports Engineering

Tires – “Obviously, the tire has been changed since June and the teams had a chance to run the new tire at the test and a lot of people predicted this tire and combination of the track wearing in a little bit would be about six miles per hour slower. But if you look at qualifying results and maybe qualifying results isn’t a true test, but really qualifying results were only off four miles per hour from what we saw in June. So whether teams are holding a little back in the test or they’ve figured out what it takes to make this tire work, it looks like the fall off in speed is not going to be as drastic as some people thought it was going to be. That’s okay as long as we’re still in some kind of safety zone on the tires. In June we had terrible problems in the race with blistering. This tire was supposed to cure that and slow the cars down. It didn’t slow the cars down as much as was predicted so I think that’s something we’re going to have to watch for.”

Temperature – “The good news is it keeps the track temperature down which is easier on the tires. The bad news is it makes more horsepower so the cars go faster which is harder on the tires. It’s kind of a sliding scale but you don’t slide very far because they’ll be good grip and the cars will go fast. They go plenty fast on the straightaways. That’s not the part that hurts the tires. It’s the good grip in the corner that makes ’em go fast through those corners. If they do have good grip and aren’t sliding around, they should be okay.”

Track Surface – “There’s always that process. You can look at the track and just see that from the time the track is paved it’s a beautiful black color and every day after that it tends to gray more and more and ore as the sun evaporates that oil that’s in the asphalt and we’re left with stone. When the track is first paved you’re actually seeing the oil and as the track wears you’re beginning to see the stone. Maybe that’s too molecular for this discussion – laughs. You can just look at it and tell it’s beginning to age and it’s been a hot summer here that ages it faster and causes more evaporation.”

The Challenge of Qualifying – “The format has a lot to do with it. We’re using what I call a traditional format this weekend where we practice for one session on Friday and then qualify. That compartmentalizes the qualifying effort. You can really focus on that all day Friday and then we get two practices on Saturday and you can switch over and worry about your race stuff.”

From Darnell Communications for SRT Motorsports – Dodge-PR

2012 NSCS Pure Michigan 400 Second Practice Session Speeds
The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series teams were on the track early Saturday morning at Michigan International Speedway, and it was Greg Biffle with a lap speed of 200.362-mph, the fastest during the second Pure Michigan 400 practice session.

Kasey Kahne was second fastest with a lap speed of 198.588-mph, and was followed by outside pole-sitter Carl Edwards 198.555-mph who was third fastesst, pole-sitter Mark Martin 198.178 fourth and Dale Earnhardt Jr 198.134 was fifth fastest.

Rounding out the top-ten fastest during the practice session were Martin Truex Jr 198.036-mph who was sixth fastest, Matt Kenseth 197.482 seventh, Regan Smith 197.471 eighth, Kyle Busch 197.050 ninth and Denny Hamlin 197.012 posting the tenth fastest lap speed.

The current series points leader, Jimmie Johnson, will have to start Sunday from the back of the field , as the team changed the engine in the No. 48 Lowe’s Chevy just prior to the morning session.

“The guys saw something in warm up this morning and we were trying to sort through it before practice started,” said Johnson. “They took a deeper look at things right before practice started and decided to change it. We probably could have run some this practice, but I think we had to change the engine regardless, but we didn’t want to oil the track or create an issue and crash our car.”

The teams will return to the track again this morning for their 11:00 to 11:55am ET scheduled “Happy Hour” – final – practice session, and then return on Sunday for the 43rd annual Pure Michigan 400. The race is scheduled to get underway at approximately 1:20pm ET Sunday afternoon, and ESPN will provide television coverage beginning with their “NASCAR Countdown” pre-race show at 12:00pm ET.

Second Practice Speeds

From Timing & Scoring provided by NASCARmedia

Jimmie Johnson changing engine – Goodyear releasing tires to be scuffed
Reported on SPEED TV this morning that the No. 48 team is changing their engine during the early Saturday morning practice. Johnson will be starting the Pure Michigan 400 from the back of the field on Sunday. 

Also of note, Goodyear has released 400 tires to the Sprint Cup teams so they can scuff their tires for the race tomorrow. The early morning practice session is being used to scuff tires, with the intention of running race setups in the next Sprint Cup practice session. 

Keselowski may have to watch back
Brad Keselowski still hasn’t made amends with Kyle Busch.

Last Sunday Keselowski slid into Busch on an oil-slicked track at Watkins Glen and knocked him out of the lead on the final lap. Keselowski said that, because of the conditions of the track, “There was nothing I could do.”

After the race, however, Keselowski tracked down Busch’s crew chief Dave Rogers. He attempted to contact Busch but acknowledged: “Every number I had for himw as bad or something.”

Read more from FOX Sports

2012 NASCAR Weather Forecast At MIS – Cool And Possible Sunday Shower
Forecast for the the rest of the weekend – Sun & clouds, unseasonably cool, mostly dry, scattered light showers on Sunday.

From NASCAR WxMan 

Friday, August 17, 2012
Owen Kelly – Please Kyle, don’t come to Montreal
Owen Kelly might just have the most agonizing job this week in the NASCAR Nationwide garage. For the second straight year, he was scheduled to qualify a car and then watch the race at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve.

Busch, coming off an agonizing seventh-place finish in the Sprint Cup race at oil-splattered Watkins Glen International last Sunday – he was spun out by Brad Keselowski while leading on the final lap and Marcos Ambrose won it – is concentrating on the Cup race at Michigan this weekend but is flying to Montreal on Saturday to hopefully drive the 54 from the back of the field to Victory Lane.

Read more from That’s Racin’/Associate Press

Michigan tires not a problem, but drivers have little grip on slick track
Sprint Cup drivers didn’t experience tire wear issues in practice Friday at Michigan International Speedway, but they were concerned about there being less grip and only one groove on the new surface.

In June, the first race on the repaved track, Goodyear had to change left-side tires the day before the race because of high speeds and excessive wear. In the race, some teams had trouble with right-side tires blistering.

Read more from Sporting News

Edwards Firing On All Cylinders
Carl Edwards running out of time to make Chase challenge…

Carl Edwards doesn’t exactly put forth the image of a gunslinger, but he’s basically forced into that role this weekend at Michigan International Speedway.

Edwards has much work to do and not much time to do it. He is 12th in Sprint Cup points, two positions and 43 points out of the top-ten. and he’s lagging in the wild-card race with no victories.

Read more from SPEED

Jeff Gordon wants more consistency in NASCAR officiating
Jeff Gordon is trying to move on from last week’s Watkins Glen disappointment but still thinks NASCAR needs to be more consistent in officiating races.

Gordon was one of the victims of last week’s controversial finish at The Glen where there appeared to be oil on the track during the final laps. NASCAR did not throw a caution stating there were no reports of fluid on the racing surface from the sanctioning body’s spotters around the circuit.

Read more from Eye On NASCAR

Tony Stewart defends Danica Patrick, says everyone should ‘get off her back’
Tony Stewart isn’t naive enough to think he won’t be asked questions about Danica Patrick’s struggles this season, considering he’s one of her car owners.

But Stewart would like for questions about Patrick’s performance and development to be answered on the track – by letting her run laps and gain experience.

Read more from Sporting News

Kids seating now available in Turn One
Turn 3 stand at capacity

Due to the overwhelming response to the family grandstand in turn three, Michigan International Speedway has extended its free seating for kids 12 and under to the turn one grandstand.

Kids 12 and under can now sit for free in sections 59 – 111 in the turn one grandstands. All rows 1 – 40 will be available for this special opportunity. A free kids ticket is required for this area. From this vantage point, fans will be treated to a great view as the cars fan out to two and three wide at 200-mph as they approach at nearly top speed.

The Walmart Family Four Pack and the Jimmie Johnson Race Day Getaway deals were once again huge successes in August. Ticket prices will now start at just $36 for the Pure Michigan 400.

“We are excited to see the number of kids who are coming to the Pure Michigan 400,” track President Roger Curtis said. “Children are instrumental to the growth of the sport of NASCAR and we are happy that so many families are spending Father’s Day at MIS. We cannot wait to see all of the children in the stands.

“Also, a special thank you to five-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson and Walmart for helping us offer great ticket deals like these that energize our fans.”

MIS has offered several ticket packages in addition to its kids 12 and under free seating program. These have been instrumental in the increase of children coming with their families to the race track. MIS has prided itself in making the race a family affair and the New Holland Fan Plaza allows children of all ages to learn about the sport of NASCAR as well as enjoy activities in the Kids Zone.

Tickets are on sale at MISpeedway.com or by phone at 800-354-1010

From Michigan International Speedway-PR

2012 NSCS Pure Michigan 400 Starting Lineup
The 200-mph – average speed – “mark” during NSCS qualifying at Michigan International Speedway on Friday wasn’t reached this time – as Marcos Ambrose reached 203.241-mph back in June – during the series return to “the Irish hills.” And this time around, it was Mark Martin, with a qualifying lap speed of 199.706-mph, capturing the Pure Michigan 400 Coors Light Pole Award.

This was Martin’s 4th series pole of the 2012 season, his 55th series career pole – tied with Bill Elliott for seventh on the all-time series pole list – and his 1st series pole at the track in “the Irish hills” of Michigan International Speedway.

Starting second on the outside pole with a qualifying lap speed of 198.626-mph, will be Carl Edwards, followed by Jimmie Johnson 198.440-mph starting third, Matt Kenseth 198.183 fourth and Kasey Kahne 197.878 will start fifth.

Rounding out the top-ten starting positions will be Trevor Bayne 197.780-mph who will start sixth, Martin Truex Jr 197.650 seventh, Marcos Ambrose 197.493 eighth, Landon Cassill 197.433 ninth and Paul Menard 197.163 starting from the tenth position.

Failing to make the starting lineup were the #33 driven by Stephen Leicht and the #37 driven by JJ Yeley.

The teams will return to the track Saturday for two more practice sessions with the first session from 8:30 to 9:25am ET and then “Happy Hour” from 11:00 to 11:55am ET.

The 43rd annual Pure Michigan 400 is scheduled to get underway at approximately 1:20pm ET Sunday afternoon, and ESPN will provide television coverage beginning with their “NASCAR Countdown” pre-race show at 12:00pm ET.

Starting Lineup

From Timing & Scoring provided by NASCARmedia

2012 NNS NAPA Auto Parts 200 Starting Lineup
IZOD IndyCar Series driver, Alex Tagliani, with a qualifying lap speed of 96.688-mph, captured his first NNS career pole by winning the 2012 NNS NAPA Auto Parts 200 Coors Light Pole Award at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal, Canada.

Starting on the outside pole to start second with a qualifying lap speed of 96.649-mph, will be Sam Hornish Jr, followed by Jacques Villeneuve 96.633-mph who will start third, Danica Patrick 96.169 fourth and Owen Kelly 96.163 will start fifth.

Rounding out the top-ten starting positions will be Michael McDowell 95.870-mph starting sixth, series Sunoco Rookie of the Year contender, Cole Whitt 95.854 seventh, Ron Fellows 95.829 eighth, Billy Johnson 95.613 ninth and Brian Scott 95.583 wills start from the tenth position.

Failing to make the starting lineup was the #52 driven by Ryan Ellis.

The 6th annual NAPA Auto Parts 200 Presented by Dodge is scheduled to get started around 2:50pm ET Saturday afternoon, and ESPN will provide television coverage beginning with their pre-race coverage at 2:00pm ET.

Starting Lineup

From Timing & Scoring provided by NASCARmedia

2012 NCWTS VFW 200 Final Practice Session Speeds
In the final VFW 200 practice session, it was Joey Coulter with a lap speed of 187.471-mph, showing the fastest way around Michigan International Speedway.

Nelson Piquet Jr, was second fastest with a lap speed of 187.134-mph, and was followed by Kurt Busch 186.630-mph who was third fastest, Tim George Jr 186.524 fourth and series Sunoco Rookie of the Year contender, Ty Dillon 186.446 was fifth fastest.

Rounding out the top-ten fastest during the “Happy Hour” – final – practice session were Matt Crafton 185.917 who was sixth fastest, Parker Kligerman 185.715 seventh, Johnny Sauter 185.495 eighth, Justin Lofton 185.333 ninth and Timothy Peters 185.090 posting the tenth fastest lap speed.

The teams will return to the track Saturday morning for their 9:35am ET scheduled qualifying session to determine the starting lineup for that afternoon’s 13th annual VFW 200. The race is set to get underway around 12:50pm ET and SPEED will provide television coverage beginning with their 12:00pm ET pre-race show.

Final Practice Speeds

From Timing & Scoring provided by NASCARmedia

2012 NSCS Pure Michigan 400 First Practice Session Speeds
The current NSCS points leader, Jimmie Johnson, with a lap speed of 197.450-mph, was on top of the speed charts during the first Pure Michigan 400 practice session at Michigan International Speedway.

Kasey Kahne, with a lap speed of 196.861-mph, was second fastest on the speed charts, followed by Mark Martin 196.786-mph who was third fastest, Kevin Harvick 196.705 fourth and Martin Truex Jr 1967.448 was fifth fastest.

Rounding out the top-ten fastest during the practice session were Carl Edwards 196.362-mph who was sixth fastest, Ryan Newman 195.817 seventh, Parker Kligerman 195.796 eighth, Brad Keselowski 195.642 ninth and Landon Cassill 195.626 posting the tenth fastest lap speed.

The teams will return to the track later this afternoon at 4:10pm ET for their scheduled qualifying session, and then return again on Saturday for two more practice sessions – 8:30 to 9:25am ET & “Happy Hour” 11:00 to 11:55am ET.

The 43rd annual Pure Michigan 400 is scheduled to get underway at approximately 1:20pm ET Sunday afternoon, and ESPN will provide television coverage beginning with their “NASCAR Countdown” pre-race show at 12:00pm ET.

First Practice Speeds
Qualifying Order

From Timing & Scoring provided by NASCARmedia

Jimmie Johnson wants regular-season championship to mean something
If Jimmie Johnson still leads the Sprint Cup standings when the regular season ends Sept 8 at Richmond International Raceway, he would accept anything as a reward.

Right now, the “regular-season champion” gets nothing. Zilch. Maybe a pat on the back. But nothing of significance.

Read more from Sporting News

Kentucky Speedway Seeks Enthusiastic Fan Council Applicants
Fifteen founding members will serve one-year terms

Kentucky Speedway is seeking 15 race enthusiasts to found a Fan Council.

Selected members will work directly with the speedway management team to brainstorm, discuss, debate and focus on ideas that will enhance the speedway guest experience. Discussions will be conducted throughout the year by either conference call, e-mail, survey or meetings at the 107,000-capacity speedway.

Each council member must be at least 18 years of age and will be asked to commit to a one-year term. Applications are available for download at kentuckyspeedway.com/fancouncil/ Completed applications can be returned by mail, e-mail or fax to the addresses and number provided on the page. Applications being returned by mail must be postmarked by Sept 14, 2012.

“Our Kentucky Speedway team is committed to creating a world-class customer experience every time we stage an event. Our fans continuously bring us new ideas, so we expect our council’s input to make a noticeable impact during future events,” Kentucky Speedway General Manager Mark Simendinger said.

Council member selections will be made by Sept 21, 2012.

Kentucky Speedway’s Sept 21-22 weekend features Austin Dillon racing for a second straight 300-mile NASCAR Nationwide Series Kentucky crown on Saturday afternoon in a field that includes fan-favorite talents Danica Patrick, Kurt Busch, Elliott Sadler, Sam Hornish Jr and more.

The weekend opens Friday with 201 miles of primetime NASCAR Camping World Truck Series racing. Up-and-coming talent James Buescher aims for his second series victory in the Bluegrass State against fellow rising stars, Ty Dillon and Joey Coulter as well as veteran talents Todd Bodine, Matt Crafton, Ron Hornaday Jr, and Johnny Sauter.

Tickets and daily infield Fan Zone passes are on sale now at kentuckyspeedway.com/tickets and great campsites can be purchased by visiting kentuckyspeedway.com/camping Fans also may call 859-578-2300

From Kentucky Speedway-PR

NASCAR – Keselowski revved up for race on ‘home’ track
What could be more “pure Michigan” than Brad Keselowski winning on the state’s biggest, fastest race track?

The Rochester Hills native steams into his home state as a mover and shaker in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, an upwardly mobile driver who has established himself as a contender for the season championship.

Read more from Dearborn Press & Guide

MIS Remains Fast – Very Fast
Speeds expected to fly high again at Michigan…

Marcos Ambrose is best known currently as the winner of a remarkable race Sunday at Watkins Glen International, but he carries a different stamp this weekend at Michigan International Speedway.

Ambrose became the fastest man in NASCAR at MIS in June when he won the pole for the Quicken Loans 400 Sprint Cup race with an attention-getting speed of 203.241 miles per hour.

Read more from SPEED

Danica Patrick must step up, or she’ll face even more scrutiny in 2013
Danica Patrick will run another road-course race this weekend, and that’s about the last thing she needs right now.

Patrick, the former IndyCar star, is not known for her road-racing prowess, though she did have some nice finishes in IndyCar road races.

Read more from Sporting News

National Guard sticks with No. 88
The Army National Guard will continue as the primary sponsor for Dale Earnhardt Jr and the No. 88 Chevrolet through the 2012 season, Hendrick Motorsports announced Friday.

The National Guard will be the primary paint scheme in 20 Sprint Cup races next season, including the season-opening Daytona 500.

Read more from ESPN

2012 NNS NAPA Auto Parts 200 Final Practice Session Speeds
Once again, it was Jacques Villeneuve, with a lap speed of 96.891-mph, showing the fastest way around the road course Circuit Gilles Villeneuve – named after his father – during the final NNS NAPA Auto Parts 200 practice session.

IZOD IndyCar Series driver, Alex Tagliani, with a lap speed of 96.630-mph, was second fastest and was followed by Billy Johnson 96.493-mph who was third fastest, Danica Patrick 96.186 fourth and Michael McDowell 95.967 was fifth fastest.

Road course specialist, Ron Fellows 95.887-mph posted the sixth fastest lap speed, while Sam Hornish Jr 95.567 was seventh fastest, Patrick Carpentier 95.542 eighth, Brendan Gaughan 95.506 ninth and series Sunoco Rookie of the Year contender Cole Whitt 95.389 rounds out the top-ten fastest during “Happy Hour.”

The teams will return later today at 5:05pm ET for their scheduled qualifying session to determine the starting lineup for the 6th annual NAPA Auto Parts 200 Presented by Dodge – which is scheduled to get started around 2:50pm ET Saturday afternoon. ESPN will provide television coverage beginning with their pre-race coverage at 2:00pm ET.

Final Practice Speeds
Qualifying Order

From Timing & Scoring provided by NASCARmedia

2012 NCWTS VFW 200 Second Practice Session Speeds
Miguel Paludo, with a lap speed of 186.432-mph was the quickest during the second NCWTS VFW200 practice session at Michigan International Speedway.

Second quickest with a lap speed of 186.427-mph, was Tim George Jr, followed by Johnny Sauter 186.042-mph who was third quickest, Todd Bodine 185.840 fourth and Joey Coulter 185.759 was fifth.

Rounding out the top-ten quickest during the practice session were Nelson Piquet Jr 185.538-mph who was sixth quickest, Parker Kligerman 185.514 seventh, series Sunoco Rookie of the Year contenter Ty Dillon 185.476 eighth, Timothy Peters 185.452 ninth and James Buescher 185.371 posting the tenth quickest lap speed.

The teams will return to the track this afternoon for their “Happy Hour” – final – practice session from 2:10 to 3:30pm ET and then return Saturday morning for their 9:35am ET scheduled qualifying session.

The 13th annual VFW 200 is set to get underway around 12:50pm ET Saturday afternoon, and SPEED will provide television coverage beginning with their 12:00pm ET pre-race show.

Second Practice Speeds

From Timing & Scoring provided by NASCARmedia

2012 NNS NAPA Auto Parts 200 First Practice Session Speeds
Jacques Villeneuve, with a lap speed of 96.309-mph, was the fastest during the first NNS NAPA Auto Parts 200 at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal, Canada.

Second fastest was Sam Hornish Jr, with a lap speed of 96.065-mph, and was followed by Owen Kelly 96.036-mph who was third fastest, Ron Fellows 95.758 was fourth and Alex Tagliani 95.755 was fifth fastest.

Rounding out the top-ten fastest during the practice session were Billy Johnson 95.735-mph who was sixth fastest, Danica Patrick 95.572 seventh, Michael McDowell 95.566 eighth, Justin Allgaier 95.336 ninth and Andrew Ranger 95.193 posting the tenth fastest lap speed.

The teams “Happy Hour” – final – practice session will commence shortly after their first session from 10:30am to 12:00pm ET and then the teams will return later today at 5:05pm ET for their scheduled qualifying session.

The 6th annual NAPA Auto Parts 200 Presented by Dodge is scheduled to get started around 2:50pm ET Saturday afternoon and ESPN will provide television coverage beginning with their pre-race coverage at 2:00pm ET.

First Practice Speeds

From Timing & Scoring provided by NASCARmedia

2012 NCWTS VFW 200 First Practice Session Speeds
Joey Coulter, with a lap speed of 183.894-mph, was the quickest during the first NCWTS VFW 200 practice session at Michigan International Speedway.

Second quickest with a lap speed of 183.777-mph, was Johnny Sauter, followed by series Sunoco Rookie of the Year contender, Ty Dillon 183.645-mph who was third quickest, Ron Hornaday Jr 183.468 fourth and James Buescher 183.262 was fifth quickest.

Rounding our the top-ten quickest during the practice session were Tim George Jr 183.048-mph who was sixth quickest, rookie contender Cale Gale 182.871 seventh, Nelson Piquet Jr 182.801 eighth, Miguel Paludo 182.732 ninth and Jason White 182.648 posting the tenth quickest lap speed.

Teams will have two more practice sessions – 11:00am to 12:20pm & “Happy Hour” 2:10pm to 3:30pm ET – today, before returning Saturday morning for their 9:35am ET scheduled qualifying session.

The 13th annual VFW 200 is set to get underway around 12:50pm ET Saturday afternoon, and SPEED will provide television coverage beginning with their 12:00pm ET pre-race show.

First Practice Speeds

From Timing & Scoring provided by NASCARmedia

Tickets Go On Sale Today for Fourth Annual NASCAR After The Lap
NASCAR Fans Can Watch Top-12 Chase For The NASCAR Sprint Cup Drivers Let Loose In Las Vegas; Enter Sweepstakes To Win Ford F-150 FX4 Truck

NASCAR announced that tickets go on sale today for the unpredictable, unforgettable, tell-all fan event – the 2012 NASCAR After The Lap sponsored by Ford and Coca-Cola. Returning to Las Vegas for its fourth consecutive year, NASCAR After The Lap will take place on November 29 at 5pm PT at PH Live at Planet Hollywood. ESPN pit reporter Jamie Little will host the event.

Fans in attendance will interact with the top-12 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers, resulting in unfiltered answers and unpredictable antics. Last year, 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champion, Tony Stewart drove his car into the venue, which set the tone for the event’s highlight: Jeff Gordon’s rousing break dancing performance that took the audience by surprise and ignited dialogue across the digital and social space.

“NASCAR After The Lap is one of the crown jewels of NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champion’s Week,” said Norris Scott, vice president of partnership marketing for NASCAR. “Our top drivers take their helmets off and celebrate the season with our fans, resulting in a wildly entertaining evening and a unique platform for two of our long-standing partners, Ford and Coca-Cola.”

In conjunction with the launch of ticket sales, the “NASCAR After The Lap” sweepstakes begins today. One lucky fan will win a grand prize package that includes a 2013 Ford F-150 FX4 truck, round trip air fare for two to Las Vegas, two nights at Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino and two VIP tickets to NASCAR After The Lap.

To purchase tickets and enter the “NASCAR After The Lap” Sweepstakes, fans can visit NASCARAfterTheLap.com Tickets are $20 each, with proceeds benefiting The NASCAR Foundation, a 501(c)(3) non-profit that raises funds to support children’s charities and important causes throughout the nation. “NASCAR After The Lap” Sweepstakes entries will be accepted up until November 18 at 2:00pm ET.

“NASCAR After The Lap provides an unforgettable experience for NASCAR fans and we look forward to being a part of the event again this year,” said Tim Duerr, motorsports marketing manager for Ford Racing. “The ‘NASCAR After The Lap’ Sweepstakes offers Ford invaluable interaction with NASCAR’s broad fan base and we encourage them to register today for a chance to win a 2013 Ford F-150 FX4 truck.”

“NASCAR After The Lap is both an opportunity to strengthen the partnership between Coca-Cola and NASCAR, and a perfect venue to celebrate the passionate and enthusiastic fans that we share,” said Ben Reiling, director of motorsports for Coca-Cola. “Nothing uplifts NASCAR families and fans quite like the ice-cold refreshment of Coca-Cola, and we look forward to joining many of our Coca-Cola Racing Family members for what will surely be a memorable event.”

For fans unable to attend NASCAR After The Lap, NASCAR.com will offer a live stream of the event. Additionally, SiriusXM Radio will broadcast the event live on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio Channel 90.

From NASCAR-PR

Jimmie Johnson Launches New Website
New Site, JimmieJohnson.com To Serve as Hub for Social Media and Race Content

Jimmie Johnson launched a new Website today geared toward enhancing the online experience for fans. The site, JimmieJohnson.com features a homepage filled with a mix of content derived from social media, including tweets, Facebook posts and Instagram images, as well as pertinent race-related information from fans and Johnson, five-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion.

“I wanted a place where the fans could find out what’s going on with me, whether it’s at the track or away from the track,” said Johnson, who is active on Twitter, twitter.com/JimmieJohnson and Facebook, facebook.com/JimmieJohnson. “In trying to come up with an easy way for fans to get information, it just made sense to tie everything together and house it in one place. It’s like one-stop-shopping for information on what me and my team are doing on a weekly basis.”

While the site relies heavily on social media, offering fans a glimpse into Johnson’s week, a noted emphasis is placed on his at-track performance. The site recounts each race weekend through pictures, videos, stories and in-depth recaps. A countdown module alerts fans to the start of the next race.

Fan participation also is encouraged through a tab that allows fans to choose who Johnson follows on Twitter.

“I think fans are really going to enjoy being part of the site and helping to provide creative content,” Johnson explained. “I think the designers did a nice job of creating a place where we’re able to provide key information while allowing fans to feel like they’re part of the action.”

Johnson was heavily involved in the look of the site, which was developed by Code and Theory, a NY-based interactive agency.

From True Speed Communication for Team Lowe’s Racing-PR

By the Numbers – Montreal & Michigan
For Starters
1 – Only one driver entered in this week’s Camping World Truck race has a series victory at Michigan International Speedway: Dennis Setzer in 2005. That win was the first of four for Setzer that season, his career-high for one year; he finished second in points in 2005 for the third consecutive year. Setzer, who finished in the top-ten in points seven consecutive years from 1999 – 2005, hasn’t raced a full season in the Truck Series since finishing eighth in points in 2008. He has made six starts this season with a best finish of 19th, at Iowa; he hasn’t run more than 19 laps in any other race, retiring with mechanical issues each time.

1 – Only one driver entered in this week’s Nationwide Series race at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve has a victory at Montreal: Ron Fellows in 2008. Fellows, driving JR Motorsports’ No. 5 car, passed fellow Canadian Jacques Villeneuve with seven laps remaining and pulled away from another Canadian, Patrick Carpentier, to win by more than 13 seconds. The win remains the most recent of the four Fellows has scored in the series.

9 – Points leader Jimmie Johnson has now sit atop the Cup Series standings for at least one race in each of the past nine seasons. Richard Petty holds the all-time mark leading the points, doing so in 12 consecutive seasons – 1966 to ’77. Johnson has posted top-fives in the past two Michigan races – second last August; fifth this past June in the the Quicken Loans 400 – after scoring just two in his first 19 starts there. His 21 races at MIS are the most at one track without a win.

Camping World Truck Series – Breakout Number
20-1-16 – Kyle Busch and Austin Dillon were both 20 years, 1 month, 16 days old when they won the pole at Michigan. Busch first set the mark for youngest pole winner in 2005; he finished second. It was the first series pole for Busch. Dennis Setzer won that race, setting the mark for the oldest Michigan winner at 45 years, 3 months, 22 days. Dillon equaled Busch in 2010; he finished fifth.

Track Tidbits
.005 – Erik Darnell’s margin of victory at Michigan in 2008 was .005 seconds, the second-smallest in the era of electronic scoring and the third-smallest overall. The records are .002 seconds at Talladega in 2010 – electronic scoring – and .001 seconds at Colorado in 1995.
11.477 – Brendan Gaughan’s margin of victory at Michigan in 2003 was 11.477 seconds, the fourth largest in series history. The record is 18.197 seconds set at Kentucky in 2002.
154.044 – The fastest race in Truck Series history was set at Michigan in 2003 when winner Brendan Gaughan clocked in at 154.044-mph. There was only one caution in that race, tying the record – three other times – for fewest in series history. Only one other Truck race has had an average speed topping 150-mph: 2009 at Texas – 153.133. Since Gaughan’s record-setting, only one other race at Michigan has reached 140-mph; the winning speed last year was 126.338.

Recent Trends
1 – Travis Kvapil’s victory at Michigan in 2004 was the first for Toyota. The make has 94 wins and five manufacturers’ championships – 2006 to ’10 – in Truck competition. Toyota has three wins at Michigan; Johnny Benson scored his first series win in 2006 and Aric Almirola won in 2010.
5 – Matt Crafton has posted top-fives in the past five races, the best streak of his career. After gaining 17 points with a fourth-place finish at Pocono, Crafton is fifth in the standings, 33 points behind the leader. Crafton has two top-tives at Michigan – most recently in 2009, his only top-tens in 10 starts. He started on the pole last year but crashed out. He also has three engine DNF’s.

22 – Points leader Timothy Peters finished 22nd at Pocono last time out, doubling his previous worst finish of 11th at Texas. Peters, who leads all driers in top-fives – 7 – and average finish – 6.7 – this season, has never been lower than second in points. He has three top-tens in five Michigan starts, including a runner-up finish last year.

Nationwide Series – Breakout Number
60 – Sixty percent – 15 of 25 – of the drivers who finished in the top-five in the five races at Montreal have been foreign-born drivers; Canadian drivers finished in the top-five 10 times. Furthermore, foreign-born drivers have won the pole four times. Foreign-born drivers entered in this week’s race: Patrick Carpentier – Joliette, Quebec; Louis-Philippe Dumoulin – Trois-Rivieres, Quebec; Ron Fellows – Mississuaga, Ontario; Kenny Habul – Etobicoke, Ontario; Daryl Harr – St. Albert, Alberta; Andrew Ranger – Roxton Pond, Quebec; Dexter Stacey – Kahnawake, Quebec; Alex Tagliani – Lachenaie, Quebec; Jacques Villeneuve – Montreal; and Derek White – Kahnawake, Quebec.

Track Tidbits
2 – Two of the five races at Montreal have required the use of rain tires: 2008 – Lap 14; 2009 – Lap 61.
3 – The final green-flag stretch has been three laps or less in all five Montreal races. Three have ended in a green-white-checkered finish. The 2008 race was shortened to 48 laps due to rain.
10 – The final lead change at Montreal has taken place with 10 laps or less in all five races, and with two laps or less in three of them. The only last-lap passed occurred in 2009 when Carl Edwards passed Marcos Ambrose. Additionally, the winner has led 10 laps or less in all five races and three laps or less in three of them.

Recent Trends
2 – Austin Dillon’s two worst finishes of the season were on road courses: 18th at Road America and 23rd at Watkins Glen. He’ll be making his first start at Montreal. 
2 – Two drivers have finished in the top-five in both NNS road-course races this season: Ron Fellows and Sam Hornish Jr. Fellows has two top-fives in five starts at Montreal; Hornish is making his first series start at the track. Two other drivers have finished in the top-ten in both road races this year: Justin Allgaier and Brian Scott. Allgaier has two top-tens in three starts at Montreal; Scott is looking for his first top-ten in his third start at the track.
3 – Six different drivers have won the past six series road-course races and three of them got their first road win: Boris Said – Montreal, 2010; Reed Sorensen – Road America, 2011; and Nelson Piquet Jr – Road America, 2012. Four of the past five poles on road course are by first-time pole winners: Michael McDowell – Road America, 2011; Jacques Villeneuve – Montreal, 2012; Nelson Piquet Jr – Road America, 2012; and Sam Hornish Jr – Watkins Glen, 2012.

Sprint Cup Series – Breakout Number
19 – Nineteen drivers time trialed in excess of 200-mph in the June race at repaved Michigan, with Marcos Ambrose setting a track record for fastest qualifying lap at 203.241. It was 9-mph faster than the previous record at Michigan. Forty drivers were faster than the previous record. It’s also the fastest non-superspeedway qualifying speed and first at a non-restrictor plate track to hit 200-mph.

Track Tidbits
3 – Three previous Michigan races have been held on Aug 19, the date of this year’s race. The first occurred in 1979 as Richard Petty gave his crew chief, Dale Inman, a birthday present by passing Buddy Baker on the final lap. Points leader Darrell Waltrip blew an engine early but his crew installed a new one in 13 minutes as he salvaged a 19th-place finish. Richard Childress finished 10th. The other two MIS races held on Aug 19 were won by Mark Martin – 1990 and Sterling Marlin – 2001.
5 – Tony Stewart has finished in the top-ten at Michigan in the past five races, the longest current streak. He has top-tens in 10 of the past 12 races at MIS and 16 of the past 20. He finished second this past June.
8 – Greg Biffle’s eight top-fives at Michigan are the most he has at any track; he finished fourth in June. Biffle has finished fourth five times at MIS.

Recent Trends
6 – Brad Keselowski has finished in the top-ten in the past six races, matching his career-best streak of top-tens. He has either matched or scored his best finish at 10 tracks this season. Keselowski has only one top-ten at Michigan, finishing third last August. He finished 13th this past June.
7 – Michigan has hosted two races a year every year it’s been on the Cup schedule beginning in 1969 save for 1973. During the first 42 years with two races, a driver has swept the season seven times, most recently by Bobby Labonte in 1995. Dale Earnhardt Jr’s past two wins have come at Michigan, including this past June.
17 – The past two races at Michigan have been won from the 17th-starting position: Kyle Busch last August and Dale Earnhardt Jr this past June. Nine of the past 16 races at MIS have been won from outside the top-ten, including seven from 15th or worse.

From NASCAR Racing Resources & Services – Statistics Racing Recall

NASCAR driver Clint Bowyer beaming after team switch
Clint Bowyer had a lot on his mind a year ago.

Heading into the Sprint Cup race at Michigan International Speedway, Bowyer was on the outside looking in at the Chase for the Championship – and in the final year of his contract with Richard Childress Racing.

Bowyer missed the Chase – and lost his ride with RCR.

But now…

Read more from Detroit News

Matt Kenseth goes full bore in Roush Fenway swan song
Inside Ford Motor Co’s world headquarters, Jack Roush and his three Sprint Cup drivers sat behind a blue cloth-covered table and scribbled autographs across various pieces of memorabilia.

At the end of the line, Thursday as Matt Kenseth, greeted warmly by a procession of well-wishers from Ford employees.

Read more from USA Today

Which Six Winless NASCAR Drivers are Most Likely to Win Before Season’s End?
NASCAR is six drivers short of the all-time record for most different Sprint Cup Series winners in a single season. So who are the drivers most likely to set the new mark?

When Marcos Ambrose scored the victory on Sunday at Watkins Glen, he became the 14th different driver this season to win a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race.

Read more from SB Nation

Thursday, August 16, 2012
Austin Dillon, Ty Dillon In No Rush To Climb NASCAR Ranks
The Dillon brothers of Richard Childress Racing may be future NASCAR stars, but they’re willing to watch, learn and listen before moving up the stock car racing ladder toward the big leagues.

Austin Dillon loves to hunt. But perhaps more than the act of hunting itself, he loves the preparation.

Read more from SB Nation

Joe Gibbs Racing sues sponsor for non-payment
NASCAR sponsorships are tough to come by these days, so when a Sprint Cup team doesn’t feel that a sponsor is meeting its financial obligations, the team likely isn’t going to just look the other way.

Joe Gibbs Racing was supposed to have Trans-Lux on the Sprint Cup car of Denny Hamlin later this year but the company allegedly hasn’t paid for its sponsorship of JGR, according to a lawsuit filed earlier this month.

Read more from Sporting News

Kyle Busch impresses Joe Gibbs with reaction to bitter disappointment at Watkins Glen
Team owner Joe Gibbs said he was impressed with the way driver Kyle Bush handled his emotions after getting wrecked while leading on the final lap Sunday at Watkins Glen.

Busch, who is fighting for a wild-card berth into the Chase for the Sprint Cup, took the lead late in the race and was leading on the final lap when he slipped in oil on the track and Brad Keselowski slammed into the back of his car.

Read more from Sporting News

Can Fords Turn It Around At MIS?
The majestic and sweeping 2-mile Michigan International Speedway has long been a place where Ford Motor Co. dominated the proceedings.

In 1969, the first year MIS played host to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, Cale Yarbourough won the first race in a Wood Brothers Racing Mercury, while David Pearson won the second in a Holman-Moody Ford.

Read more from SPEED

Getting down to desperation time
I am very excited to see how everything plays out during these final four races of what we call our regular season. I really believe we are going to see guys let it all hang out and roll the dice in some situations.

I hate to use the word desperation, but there are guys out there who are desperate to make the NASCAR Chase for the Sprint Cup, knowing the opportunity will slip through their fingers unless they make something happen.

Read more from FOX Sports

Jarrett’s first win is foremost
The question wasn’t surprising. 

The answer was a stunner.

The date was Jan. 27, 2011, and Dale Jarrett was being interviewed at a Charlotte hotel a half-hour prior to his induction into the National Motorsports Press Association Hall of Fame.

Read more from That’s Racin’

Joe Gibbs says Joey Logano’s future with team still ‘up in the air’
Team owner, Joe Gibbs reiterated Thursday that he wants to re-sign driver Joey Logano but said that Logano’s future with the organization is still “up in the air.”

Logano is 18th in the Sprint Cup standings, but is in contention for a Chase wild card thanks to his victory June 10 at Pocono Raceway. Logano’s contract is up after this season and Joe Gibbs Racing is expected to announce soon that it has signed 2003 champion Matt Kenseth to replace him in the No. 20 car.

Read more from Sporting News

Fantastic finishes not that common
Brad Keselowski climbed out of his Sprint Cup car on Sunday at Watkins Glen International following a second-place finish in one of the wildest last laps you’ll ever see and said with a great big smile, “That is the way racing should be.”

He’s right. Unfortunately, it’s not the way racing can be. 

Not all the time.

And it never has been.

Read more from ESPN

Former champ White recalls early Canada years
If you want proof that racing history tends to repeat itself, look no further than the last time NASCAR’s premier division visited Canada.

Just like two weeks ago at Pocono, rain delayed a major role in determining the winner of the 1958 race at Toronto’s Canadian National Exhibition Stadium. Just like last week at Watkins Glen, the tall, lanky fellow in the cowboy hat they call the King was in Victory Lane, but only to share in the excitement. And the overwhelming opinion of the media in attendance? The race was “boring,” even though the winner intentionally wrecked his teammate because he was too slow.

Read more from Yahoo Sports

Stewart in a Better Place this Year
Of all the sound bites uttered during the 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup season, one of the most memorable came from Tony Stewart after finishing ninth in last year’s Pure Michigan 400 at Michigan International Speedway.

Asked after the race about his chances of making the Chase for the Sprint Cup – he was 10th in points at the time – Stewart said, “If we’re going to run this bad, it really doesn’t matter whether we make the Chase or not because we’re going to be occupying a spot in the Chase that somebody else that can actually run for a championship should take because our stuff is so bad right now, we’re wasting one of those top-12 spots.”

Read more from SPEED

IndyCar star Sam Hornish gets second chance to shine in NASCAR
It all seemed so easy, and so right. Celebrated IndyCar racer Sam Hornish Jr would join NASCAR and be super good.

And why not? He’d been one of the best and fastest open-wheel oval drivers in the series for years.

He couldn’t miss in Sprint Cup, especially running for his former boss, Birmingham’s Roger Penske.

Read more from Detroit Free Press

Five Drivers that can clinch their Chase spot after Michigan
The magic number for this weekend is 145. Any driver 145 points ahead of 11th place leaving Michigan will clinch a top-ten spot. After race No. 26 at Richmond, all 12 Chase drivers will have their points reset to 2,000. But only the top-ten will earn three bonus points for each win during the regular season.

  • Jimmie Johnson – Currently Johnson has three wins, equaling nine potential bonus points. Johnson currently sits 124 points ahead of 11th – maximum of 47 points can be made up in a given race. He could also clinch at least a Wild Card spot by winning on Sunday, regardless of his stature ahead of 11th.
  • Greg Biffle – Currently owning a 123-point cushion over 11th, Biffle needs to reach the magic number of 145 leaving Michigan.
  • Matt Kenseth – Like his Roush Fenway Racing teammate, Kenseth can clinch a top-ten spot by leaving Michigan with a 145-point lead over 11th. He currently sits 122 points ahead of 11th.
  • Dale Earnhardt Jr – Earnhardt has a tougher task than the aforementioned drivers. His current cushion over 11th is 107 points. He can lock up a top-ten spot by reaching the 145-point magic number.
  • Brad Keselowski – Keselowski has a remote chance of clinching at least a Wild Card spot with a win on Sunday, depending on the finishes of a number of other drivers.
From NASCAR


Family first: NASCAR driver hustles to see son’s debut at Ace Speedway
A veteran driver in every sense, Jeff Burton is in his 19th full year on NASCAR’s elite level and striving to turn the corner on a season of struggles.

He’s also a father.

Commitment to both duties demands a dedicated balancing act, of course, and last week became a study in the unique lengths – quite literally – that he’s willing to travel.

Read more from The Times News

Wednesday, August 15, 2012
Dynamic duo: Keselowski and crew chief Wolfe
When Paul Wolfe decided to give NASCAR a try, he made sure he had a backup plan.

“I became a certified welder,” Wolfe said. “I never really thought driving would ever provide me a chance. The opportunity to work on cars was more realistic. I wasn’t really thinking about driving when I go into it.”

It’s good to be a realist.

Read more from Cadillac News

Dale Earnhardt Jr returns to Michigan looking for more – more speed, more wins
Dale Earnhardt Jr returns to the site of his past two Sprint Cup victories this weekend as NASCAR heads to Michigan International Speedway.

His most recent win – just nine weeks ago – was an emotional victory, snapping a four-year and 144-race winless streak. His 2008 win at Michigan was emotional as well as it marked his first victory as a driver for Hendrick Motorsports and was expected to be a precursor for things to come with the elite organization.

Read more from Sporting News

AJ Allmendinger’s defense disputed
It is highly unlikely that AJ Allmendinger’s positive test for amphetamines came from a single pill taken one time as the suspended Sprint Cup driver recently stated, a source close to the situation told ESPN.com.

It also is highly unlikely that Allmendinger will complete NASCAR’s Road to Recovery program necessary for reinstatement by the end of August as the driver stated, the source said.

Read more from ESPN

More Canadian races possible for NASCAR
This weekend’s annual Nationwide race in Montreal might be just a taste of what’s to come north of the border for NASCAR.

Since 2007, the Nationwide Series has visited the famed Circuit Gilles Villeneuve road circuit. Every year, rain or shine the event draws one of the largest and most enthusiastic crowds of the entire season.

Read more from Eye On NASCAR

Tuesday, August 14, 2012
Chicagoland changes plans, opens grandstands for Friday Sprint Cup practice
Chicagoland Speedway officials, who originally had considered keeping their grandstands closed during the Friday of their Sprint Cup weekend next month, have decided to open a section for Sprint Cup practice.

The track plans to ask for $10 donations to its charity, Racing Advocates for Community Enrichment – R.A.C.E., for fans to sit in the stands and watch the Sept. 14 Sprint Cup and Nationwide practice sessions, track president Scott Paddock said in a phone interview Tuesday.

Read more from Sporting News

Bonus Points keep teams rolling into playoffs
Coaches in basketball, football, hockey and baseball can only hope to face the dilemma at the end of the season of whether to rest starters before the playoffs or try to maintain momentum.

Racing doesn’t offer any chance to rest. And 10-point bonuses for each win during the regular season keeps crew chiefs from saving their best cars and taking more chances with setups.

Read more from Online Athens

Dale Earnhardt Jr now co-owner of Florida auto dealerships
Dale Earnhardt Jr has his hand in several businesses. He owns Hammerhead Entertainment, a video production company. He operates JR Motorsports, which owns two cars in the Nationwide Series. He owns country-themed bars named Whiskey River in Charlotte, NC and Jacksonville, FL.

And now he co-owns a couple of automobile dealerships.

Read more from Sporting News

Getting on road would be right turn
NASCAR CEO Brian France isn’t big on adding a road course to the Chase. He said as much last July in Daytona.

“We only have two – road races, so it would be a little challenging just from a scheduling perspective,” France said. “We haven’t heard a lot of concern one way or the other why it is or it isn’t. So it wouldn’t be top of our list.”

Why not?

Read more from Chicago Tribune

Innovation has brough tire changing to a new level
Close your eyes for just a second and picture this scene.

It’s 1957, and you’re helping pit Lee Petty in the dust and dirt of Langhorne Speedway in Pennsylvania. Are you ready for this? You’d better be, because he’s here …go! You’re supposed to change the front tires, but you’ve got nothing more to work with than the very most basic four-pronged lug wrench.

Read more from NASCAR.com

Was NASCAR obligated to throw caution for oil on final lap at The Glen?
Absolutely not. NASCAR did the right thing by letting the final lap play out without a caution even though there was clearly some kind of fluid or oil on the racing surface.

For the record, NASCAR said it did not have any reports from its officials and spotters around the track of oil. Obviously based on what some drivers had to say and the slipping and sliding that took place on the last lap, there’s some question to the sanctioning body’s view.

Read more from Eye On NASCAR

Elliott Sadler proving that former Cup drivers can become stars in Nationwide Series
All Elliott Sadler needed was a second chance, another golden opportunity. He got it with Richard Childress Racing, and now at age 37, Sadler is fulfilling the potential many believed he has had for years.

With an elite team that fields contending cars in each of NASCAR’s top three series, Sadler has not only resurrected his career but seems destined for his greatest NASCAR season.

Read more from Sporting News

Five Drivers Desperately Need a Win
With his second consecutive Watkins Glen victory, Marcos Ambrose has thrown his hat in the ring as yet another possible NASCAR Chase for the Sprint Cup player. He sat on the pole at Michigan back in June, so he has to be very excited that the Cup teams are there this weekend. We also have Bristol coming u after that, and he is really strong there.

So with four races to go until the 2012 Chase field is set and with two really good tracks coming up for him, Ambrose might muddy the Chase waters just a little bit more these next couple weeks.

Read more from SPEED

Sprint Cup returns to Michigan; tire changes again focus of race preparation
Goodyear and NASCAR prevented a potentially disastrous tire situation last June at the repaved Michigan International Speedway when they changed left-side tires the day before the Sprint Cup race.

It was a rare and unanticipated occurrence as both NASCAR and Goodyear thought they had adequately tested on the two-mile track’s new pavement.

Read more from Sporting News

Kyle Busch Motorsports Announces Changes to Driver Lineup for the No. 18
Kyle Busch Motorsports – KBM – announced today that the team has parted ways with Jason Leffler. Kurt Busch will be behind the wheel of the No. 18 Shore Lodge Tundra for the VFW 200 at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn on Aug. 18 and the driver lineup for the remaining races that Leffler was scheduled to drive this season will be determined at a later date.

“How things have played out this season are not Jason’s fault – we’ve had some bad luck and a few other mis-fortunate happenings – but when it comes down to it, the No. 18 team has not performed to the standards we’ve become accustomed to and we owe it to our manufacturer and our sponsors to produce better results,” KBM owner Kyle Busch said. “Beginning to make these changes now, instead of waiting until the end of the season, it will allow us to evaluate where our program stands as we begin working towards becoming a championship-contending team once again in 2013. Jason represented KBM and all of our sponsors very well and we wish him the best of luck.”

Brian Scott is scheduled to be behind the wheel of the No. 18 Tundra at Bristol, (TN) Motor Speedway on Aug 24 and for three other races this season. Drew Herring will make his Truck Series debut in the September race at Iowa Speedway in Newton.

Kyle Busch Motorsports-PR

“Kevin’s Krew” Event Set for Saturday at Michigan International Speedway
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Kevin Harvick welcomes 20 children from Boys & Girls Club of Lenawee, MI, to his next “Kevin’s Krew” event on Saturday at Michigan International Speedway.

An arm of the Kevin Harvick Foundation, Kevin’s Krew at KevinHarvickFoundation.org/who-we-support/kevins-krew/ is an at-track outreach program for underprivileged youth that shows them tangible evidence of the fruits of hard work, perseverance and a drug-free lifestyle.

Harvick’s guests have a jam-packed, fun-filled agenda at the track nestled in the Irish Hills of Michigan. In addition to meeting and hanging out with the driver of the No. 29 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet, the Boys & Girls Club will have a bird’s eye view of pre-race activities, including driver  introductions for the day’s NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race, lunch in the President’s Suite and meetings with both Michigan Speedway International President Roger Curtis and Toledo Blade reporter Rachel Lenzi.

“Michigan always has some of the most loyal and passionate race fans on the NASCAR circuit, so the opportunity to spend quality time with some of the youngest ones is pretty cool,” Harvick said. “Kevin’s Krew is about giving these children hope for their futures, regardless of their backgrounds, but it’s also about showing them a good time. The folks at Michigan International Speedway are vital supporters of this effort with us, so I’m pretty sure the kids’ track visit will be one they’ll never forget.”

Guest speakers will share with the children their success stories in life, outlining the paths they forged to their careers. Additionally, they will discuss opportunities within their professions and the importance of education for a successful career, all the while driving home the point that youth can overcome any social or economic disadvantage they may face.

This week’s Michigan International Speedway event is one of six Kevin’s Krew events on the 2012 calendar, which also includes upcoming Sept 15 date at Chicagoland Speedway.

From Kevin Harvick Foundation-PR

Roger Penske still pondering driver for No. 22; Joey Logano leading candidate
Joey Logano appears to be the leading candidate to replace AJ Allmendinger at Penske Racing next year, but team owner Roger Penske says he has made no decision yet.

Allmendinger was released from the team July 31 after being suspended indefinitely for a failed drug test. Sam Hornish Jr currently is driving the team’s No. 22 car, but Penske must select a full-time driver for next season.

Read more from Sporting News

Michigan International Speedway – Facts and Notes

  • Michigan International Speedway sits on more than 1,400 acres in the “Irish Hills” of Southeastern Michigan. Ground breaking took place on Sept. 28, 1967.
  • The first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Michigan was held June 15, 1969.
  • The track was known as Michigan Speedway during the time Roger Penske was the primary owner – 1996-99.
  • The 2-mile speedway underwent a repave this season.
  • There have been 86 NASCAR Sprint Cup races at Michigan International Speedway since the first race there in 1969. Other than 1973, which had just one race, there have been two races each season since 1969.
  • The first race was 500 miles in length; the second was scheduled for 600. The track was re-measured to 2.04-miles for the last race in 1970 and both races in 1971 with the race distance being 402 miles. All other races have been scheduled for 400 miles.
  • Donnie Allison won the first pole.
  • The first NASCAR Sprint Cup race was won by Cale Yarborough.
  • There have been 42 different pole winners, led by David Pearson with 10. Mark Martin has five poles. 
  • 34 different drivers have won races, led by David Pearson – nine; 20 drivers have more than one victory at Michigan.
  • The race winner has started from the pole 16 times, the most productive starting position. Brian Vickers – August 2009 – was the last driver to win from the pole.
  • 66 of 86 races have been won from a top-ten starting position, including 46 from the first four spots.
  • The deepest in the field a race winner has started was 32nd, by Mark Martin in the June race of 2009.
  • The Wood Brothers and Roush Fenway Racing both have 11 wins, more than any other car owners. 
  • Carl Edwards and Matt Kenseth are the only drivers to average a top-ten finish. Edwards, who has two Michigan wins, has an average finish of 8.3. Coincidentally, Edwards’ first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series start came at Michigan. Kenseth, who also has two victories, has an average finish of 9.2.
From NASCAR


About to get wild in NASCAR’s wild-card chase
The existence of wild-card slots in the Chase for the Sprint Cup has bequeathed a wonderful possibility of upward mobility to the regular season’s final four races. 

Before this discussion goes any further, let the record note that I opposed the Chase when it was implemented and don’t like it still. I liked it better when the season had 36 races that counted, not 26 that merely matter. Now the Chase comes down to an annual battle between victory and consistency, one that victory won by the smallest of margins last year. Before 2004, the entire season was that way.

Read more from Shelby Star

NASCAR needed a race like Watkins Glen to Stir Fans’ Souls
Sunday’s race finally gave us something to talk about on the track this season. Now, NASCAR needs to build on races like Watkins Glen to remind fans why they fell in love with the sport in the first place.

Sunday’s race at Watkins Glen was an afternoon filled with daring passes, bold moves and a finish you had to see to believe. And in the end, standing tall beside winning driver Marcos Ambrose was Richard Petty.

Read more from SB Nation

Regan Smith invigorated by new crew chief
Regan Smith thinks his mojo is working again.

NASCAR’s hard-charging underdog has got himself a new crew chief and engineer and a fresh outlook on the remainder of the Sprint Cup season.

After a breakout year in 2011, when he won his first Cup race at Darlington Raceway, Smith struggled the first half of this year at Furniture Row Racing, a one-car team that had showed great promise.

Read more from USA Today

Monday, August 13, 2012
Indianapolis 500 Veteran Grant dies at 77
Jerry Grant, a 10-time competitor in the Indianapolis 500 and the first person to turn an official lap faster than 200-mph in an Indy car, died Sunday, August 12. He was 77.

Grant, a prominent American road racer, turned his historic 201.414-mph lap in 1972 at Ontario, CA. But he is probably best remembered for nearly winning the 1972 Indianapolis 500.

Driving the purple Mystery Eagle as teammate to Bobby Unser on Dan Gurney’s All-American Racers team, Grant led at the 188-lap mark when he had to pit to replace a tire which was losing air. Instead of pitting in his stall, he went to the adjoining one of Unser, who had retired much earlier in the day. Whether or not Grant actually took on any fuel from Unser’s refueling tank is up for discussion, but the hoses were momentarily hooked up, and it became known that the tank in his own pit was apparently empty, the maximum allotment of 275 gallons having been exhausted.

While Grant did finish the 500 miles, taking the checkered flag in second place behind Mark Donohue, officials subsequently disallowed Grant’s final 12 laps, thus dropping him from second to 12th.

Such an occurrence was hardly a new experience for Grant. With only five minutes remaining in the 1966 Sebring 12 Hours, the Ford GT Mk II he shared with Gurney was in front when a mechanical issued forced Gurney to stop on the course. Gurney then proceeded to push the stricken car in the final 300 yards to the finish line, whereupon he was disqualified.

Gurney and Grant would have placed second, based on distance covered if the car remained untouched at the side of the road. Less than three months later, Gurney and Grant were seemingly on their way to winning the 24 Hours of Le Mans when a mechanical issue eliminated them while leading the 21-hour mark.

The diversified Grant, who climbed from 43rd to fifth in the 1967 Daytona 500, finished fifth in the 1966 Dixie 400 at Atlanta, co-drove a Ford Cobra in the 1964 Targa Florio – shared second in the CT class with Gurney – and had three top-ten finishes in the Indianapolis 500, topped by a seventh place in 1970. He competed in 49 USAC National Championship races between 1965-77, placing third in the 1974 Ontario 500 and fourth in a 150-mile event in 1969 on the road course at Castle Rock, CO.

An entertaining speaker and story teller, Grant became a part of Champion Spark Plug Company’s Highway Safety program, lecturing on highway safety to students and service personnel, eventually succeeding Fred Agabashian as Champion’s senior lecturer.

From Indianapolis Motor Speedway-PR

Richard Childress Named Honorary Starter for Food City 250
Bristol Motor Speedway’s upcoming triple header continues to be cause for added celebration for one locally owned and operated grocery chain. Twenty years ago, Food City signed on as the title sponsor of the March Food City 500 Sprint Cup event, as well as the August Food City 250 Nationwide Series race.

“Our race sponsorship actually came about as a result of Food City Family Race Night,” says Steven C. Smith, Food City president and chief executive officer. “Our annual race night events helped us better understand the strong allegiance that the fans have with their favorite drivers and team owners. That realization is really what prompted our decision to become the title sponsor of the Food City 500 and Food City 250.”

In 1995, Food City signed on for three years as associate sponsor of the No. 3 GM Goodwrench Chevrolet, owned by Richard Childress and driven by the late Dale Earnhardt. In commemoration, the regional grocer has named Childress as honorary starter of the 20th Anniversary Food City 250. Childress will waive the green flag to signal the start of the August 24, 2012 event.

“I’m honored that Food City asked me to be the honorary starter to help celebrate their 20th year of involvement with the NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Bristol Motor Speedway,” said Childress. “Food City has been a great supporter of NASCAR and Bristol Motor Speedway, and they were a sponsor of the No. 3 Chevy with Dale back in the day. I want to thank Food City for helping grow our sport over the years and for 20 years of involvement at Bristol Motor Speedway.”

Food City is Bristol Motor Speedway’s longest running sponsor and the second longest in all of NASCAR motorsports. “The past 20 years have been filled with scores of unforgettable moments and priceless experiences. Our sponsorship of Dale Earnhardt and the No. 3 Goodwrench Chevrolet certainly tops the list and we’re honored to have our good friend and colleague Richard Childress serve as honorary starter for the 20th Anniversary Food City 250,” says Smith.

Food City Family Race Night also celebrates it 25th Anniversary in August. The fan-based event is among the largest on the NASCAR circuit and has contributed a combined total of over $500,000 to numerous local non-profit organizations…Family Race Night takes place in downtown Bristol on Thursday, August 23, 2012.

Qualifying for the Food City 250 takes place Friday afternoon at 3:40pm with the race slated to begin at 7:30 that evening. 

For more information concerning tickets, please call BMS ticket office toll free at 1-866-415-4158 or visit bristoltix.com

From Bristol Motor Speedway-PR

Richard Petty hoping to land a new Ford deal after Marcos Ambrose win
While celebrating the win by Richard Petty Motorsports driver Marcos Ambrose in victory lane Sunday, Richard Petty went up to Ford motorsports director Jamie Allison and delivered a message.

It was less than a week after Petty and the rest of the NASCAR world learned that Dodge would not return to NASCAR in 2013, and Petty figured he would try to capitalize on Allison’s excitement over Ambrose’s victory at Watkins Glen International.

Read more from Sporting News

Ambrose’s crazy victory is big for many reasons
Any way anyone wants to dissect it, Marcos Ambrose’s win in Sunday’s Finger Lakes 355 at Watkins Glen was pretty slick.

With an apparent fine mist of oil that NASCAR officials and drivers alike couldn’t see sprinkled down on the 2.45-mile track, the final lap turned into a fantastic spectacle of survival.

Read more from Yahoo Sports

NASCAR faces criticism for not throwing caution flag on final lap at Watkins Glen
NASCAR got what it wanted on the final lap at Watkins Glen Sunday. 

It got a wild, crazy finish with rivals Brad Keselowski and Kyle Busch battling it out with personable Aussie Marcos Ambrose.

Ambrose emerged the winner for the second consecutive year at Watkins Glen. Keselowski placed second. And Busch was the big loser, slipping and sliding in oil, getting spun and finished seventh.

Read more from Sporting News

Johnson happy to be leading points; Gordon ticked
Jimmie Johnson is back in his usual perch – atop the Sprint Cup standings and smiling.

Teammate Jeff Gordon? Not so happy.

Running near the front all day Sunday in the Finger Lakes 355 at Watkins Glen International, Johnson maneuvered his way back after falling out of the top-ten two-thirds through the 90-lap race and finished right where he started – third.

Read more from That’s Racin’

Thanks for reading NASCAR News & Views at Fan4Racing. Please feel free to share your views of this week’s news in the comment section below.   

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