NASCAR News & Views – Volume 40 – August 20 – 26, 2012

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NASCAR News & Views – Volume 40 August 20 – 26, 2012

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Today’s NASCAR News & Views

 

“I knew my car was bad ass. I didn’t want to say anything until I got here to victory lane.” – Greg Biffle after winning his second 2012 race at Michigan International Speedway

It was an event full of surprises from the the scary wreck with then race leader Mark Martin – so glad he and everyone else on pit road was able to walk away from that one – teammates squabbling between Jeff Gordon and Dale Jr and at the end when previous points-leader, Jimmie Johnson’s engine expired, leaving him with a disappointing finish and losing three positions in the point standings.This weekend brought “Happy Days” once again to Roush Fenway Racing in victory lane at their favorite track, near their Ford manufacturer and partner, based in Livonia, MI. And it was Greg Biffle rising to the top of the Sprint Cup Series leader board after winning the Pure Michigan 400 at Michigan International Speedway.

With an international flavor present this weekend, it was Justin Allgaier winning the Nationwide Series race in Montreal, and the Brazilian Nelson Piquet Jr winning his first Camping World Truck Series race in Michigan.

The much anticipated August Bristol races are coming up this week with all three series participating. Racing begins early this week with the truck series teams racing on Wednesday night, Nationwide teams will race Friday night, followed by the Sprint Cup Series race on Saturday night.

Let’s begin with news for today…

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Pilot in helicopter crash identified, presumed dead; search continues

Recovery efforts resumed Sunday at a Virginia lake with the search for a helicopter pilot who had been missing since his aircraft crashed late Friday. Although the chopper was found submerged, Saturday came and went without success in locating his body.

The pilot was identified as Bill Starnes, according to TriCities.com. He was running a 1996 Bell 407 and from Bristol Motor Speedway on Friday night.

Read more from Sporting News

Wild-card roulette spins again at Bristol

It was bad enough that he was sick, still battling a bug that had left him shivering with chills a week earlier at Michigan and that required him to take intravenous fluids again this weekend at Bristol Motor Speedway. But then Ryan Newman’s car took a turn for the worse as well, in a crash that totaled not just his vehicle but also his tenuous hold on a postseason.

Read more from NASCAR.com

Three drivers officially in title race

Greg Biffle, Jimmie Johnson and Dale Earnhardt Jr will contend in NASCAR’s Chase for the Sprint Cup.

Despite finishing 19th Saturday night at Bristol Motor Speedway, Biffle still holds an 11-point advantage over Johnson, who finished third.

Read more from FOX Sports

Keselowski’s Foundation Rides Again

Sprint Cup driver supports military personnel on ‘Road to Recovery,’ takes wounded servicemen for hot laps at Bristol.

It was relatively easy Sunday for Brad Keselowski to shake off a sour 30th-place finish in Saturday night’s Irwin Tools Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Keselowski spent most of Sunday at the center of one of his passions – helping injured American military personnel on the road to recovery.

Read more from SPEED

Tony Stewart Throws Helmet at Matt Kenseth at Bristol as NASCAR Tempers Flaring

With a two-handed toss of his helmet, Tony Stewart brought back everything that had been missing at Bristol Motor Speedway.

It was the rock ’em sock ’em style of racing that made the Tennessee bullring the toughest ticket in NASCAR, and fans filled the place for 55 consecutive races hoping to see bumping and banging on the track and off-track drama it created.

Read more from Huffington Post

Did Bristol deliver or was it Bruton Smiths failure?

Helmets were thrown, fingers were wagged, egos were bruised and fans roared. Just as the opening monologue promised, there was a rumble at Bristol Motor Speedway Saturday night old school style.

After years of racing that disappointed fans and may have contributed to empty seats, most notably in the spring race, Speedway Motorsports CEO Bruton Smith ordered the upper groove of the .533 mile track ground down in order to expand the racing line and bring back the type of racing seen prior to a repaving in 2007. That new line, and the old school racing, made its debut Saturday night to the approval of fans, and most importantly, drivers.

Read more from Examiner

Joey Logano a candidate for No. 22

The owner of Penske Racing acknowledged on Saturday that Joey Logano is a candidate to drive the No. 22 in 2013.

Roger Penske also didn’t rule out expanding from two to three cars and including Sam Hornish Jr, who has been in the No. 22 since AJ Allmendinger was suspended and ultimately released for violating NASCAR’s substance abuse policy, in the mix for next season.

Read more from ESPN

Battles have changed for Casey Mears

The victories these days are smaller for Casey Mears because the battles have changed.

Although there is no invitation to the 2013 Shootout or an addition to the official statistics noting the achievement, Casey Mears start from the pole in Saturday night’s Irwin Tools Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway is still a notable mark.

Read more from That’s Racin’

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Helicopter belonging to Food City crashes after Friday’s Food City 250 race at Bristol

A helicopter belonging to grocery store chain Food City crashed into South Holston Lake in Virginia not long after Friday’s Food City 250 Nationwide Series event at Bristol Motor Speedway in nearby Bristol, TN.

No NASCAR officials were on board. According to television station WJHL, only the pilot of the helicopter was involved in the crash. Virginia State Police told the television station there is still an active “search and rescue” operation going on overnight.

Read more from Sporting News

ALSO – Search continues for pilot; helicopter crashed after Nationwide race at Bristol

Read more from Sporting News

2012 NSCS Irwin Tools Night Race at Bristol Results

Hamlin celebrates in Victory Lane at Bristol

Photo – Brian Czobat/AP Autostock

There was a lot of bumping, banging and finger pointing – that included 13 cautions for 87-laps – during the 2012 NSCS Irwin Tools Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway on Saturday night. And, it was Denny Hamlin coming out on top, as he holds off the Hendrick Motrosports’ duo of Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon – respectively – for the victory.

This was Hamlin’s third win of the 2012 season, his twentieth series career win and his first series win in ‘thunder valley.’

Following Hamlin, Johnson and Gordon to the drop of the checkered flag were Brian Vickers coming in fourth-place. Marcos Ambrose fifth, Kyle Busch sixth, Clint Bowyer seventh, Joey Logano eighth, Kasey Kahne ninth and Paul Menard finishing in the tenth position.

The current series points leader, Greg Biffle – who finished 19th – now leads Jimmie Johnson by 11-points and Dale Earnhardt Jr – who finished 12th – by 15-points.

Race Notes

Average Speed – 84.402-mph

Time of Race – 3 hrs, 09 mins, 27 secs

Margin of Victory – 1.103 seconds

Lead Changes – 22 among 13 drivers

Cautions – 13 for 87 laps

Attendance – 145,000

Race ResultsPoint Standings

From Timing & Scoring provided by NASCARmedia

For Gordon, Three Solid Shots

Jeff Gordon chases a Chase spot with three promising tracks ahead…

The numbers don’t lie.

Jeff Gordon, in the fight of his life for a chance at a fifth Sprint Cup championship, almost certainly needs another win for a shot at a wild-card position in the Chase. And the tracks on which that effort will play out – Bristol, Atlanta and Richmond – are definitely pro-Gordon speedways.

Read more from SPEED

Kyle Busch still angry over Watkins Glen incident, hates new Bristol surface

Kyle Busch wasn’t the happiest of drivers Friday, but it’s not just because he’s still brooding over getting wrecked while leading two weeks ago at Watkins Glen.

Busch was leading with one lap to go when he was turned by Brad Keselowski while the track was slick with oil. He knows his outlook to make the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup would be a lot better if he had won that race.

Read more from Sporting News

SRT Motorsports – Dodge – Keys for Success: Irwin Tools Night Race at Bristol

Howard Comstock – SRT Motorsports Engineering

The New Bristol – “Very few guys braved that upper line. You can clearly see that the rubber goes halfway, maybe two-thirds of the way up the race track, but it doesn’t go two lanes wide. And that’s troublesome. If you looked at the times, they were similar to what we run her all the time. Everybody that ran faster ran in the bottom groove which is the same that it’s always been.

“As far as being able to turn fast laps and get around the race track on the bottom that’s fine. The problem that I see is that we don’t have a second full groove yet. That’s going to work itself out in the Nationwide race Friday or in the Cup race on Saturday.”

Front or Back Pits, That is the Question – “The first stall on the frontstretch is preferred, that’s number one. The first stall on the backstretch is number two. Being able to get off pit road unencumbered is important. Maybe the first stall at pit in is third and the third stall on pit in on the back road is fourth. Then we fill in and wherever there is an opening, it helps. But the fact they’ve got so many loops now has taken away some of the advantage of a couple of the stalls that people used last year.”

Strategy – “If you look at the history, only four times has a Bristol race ever been won from somebody who qualified outside the top-25 so I think it starts with qualifying. I think you’ve got to qualify well which gets you in the top half of the field. I think it gets you away from the potential for crashing as much as possible. It gets you in with drivers who have cars that are under control. They guys in the back are in the back because they haven’t figured out how to keep their car under control yet. So consequently, you spend less time around those guys and more time up there with the good guys. If you’re running fast and the guy that you’re racing is running fast, it’s easy. The problem is if you’re running fast and the guy in front of you is running slow, that’s where we’re going to see trouble.

Should We Expect More Cautions? – “I think getting closer to the Chase plays into the fewer cautions scenario. Maybe at the end of the race, some people will take some chances but you you’ve got to finish to win any of these races. Everyone of these guys knows that. You can’t be tangled up, knocking the fenders off and gouging at lap 100 or 200 or 300 or 400. Lap 500 is where you’re going to see guys mixing it up, trying to desperately get that win. If you hurt your car here and have to pit out of sequence for any reason, you’ve just about sealed your fate.”

From Darnell Communications for SRT Motorsports – Dodge-PR

Blue Deuce is just one tie between Brad Keselowski, Rusty Wallace

There was a driver of the “Blue Deuce” who made a NASCAR Hall of Fame career out of winning races at Bristol Motor Speedway driving the No. 2 for Penske Racing.

He was outspoken, never afraid to say what he really thought. He was often called a ‘hard charger’ and ruffled the feathers of fellow competitors and the sanctioning body from time to time.

We’re not talking about Brad Keselowski, but we very well could be one day in the future.

Read more from That’s Racin’

Friday, August 24, 2012

2012 NNS Food City 250 Race Results

After a green-white-checkered (flags) dash to the finish of the 2012 NNS Food City 250, it

Logano & cc Stevens in Victory Lane at Bristol
Photo – Brian Czobat/AP Autostock

was Joey Logano keeping Ricky Stenhouse Jr, behind him by 0.503 seconds to win Friday night at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Logano, who led three-times for 81-laps, received his sixth series win of the 2012 season, his fifteenth series career win and his first series win at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Following Logano and Stenhouse to the drop of the checkered flag were Kyle Busch finishing third, series Sunoco Rookie of the Year contender, Austin Dillon fourth and the current series points leader, Elliott Sadler – leads Stenhouse by 19-points in the standings – finished in fifth.

Another series rookie contender, Cole Whitt, finished in sixth, while Ryan Blaney finished seventh, Michael Annett eighth, Danica Patrick ninth and Sam Hornish Jr rounding out the top-ten finishing positions.

Race Notes

Average Speed - 76.556-mph
Time of Race - 1 hr, 44 mins, 26 secs
Margin of Victory - 0.503 seconds
Lead Changes - 7 among 4 drivers
Cautions - 9 for 59 laps
Attendance - 85,000

Race ResultsPoint Standings

Next Up – The 21st annual NRA American Warrior 300 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on Saturday, September 1st, with an approximate starting time of 7:25pm ET. Television coverage will be provided by ESPN beginning with their 6:30pm ET pre-race show.

From Timing & Scoring provided by NASCARmedia

2012 NSCS Irwin Tools Night Race Starting Lineup

Due to rain, NASCAR and track officials cancelled Friday’s qualifying for the 52nd annual NSCS Irwin Tools Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway. The starting lineup will be based upon the driver’s first practice session speeds, owner points and attempts made with accordance to the NASCAR rule book.

Starting from the “pole” position will be Casey Mears followed by Brad Keselowski on the outside “pole,” while Greg Biffle starts third, Joey Logano fourth, Aric Almirola fifth, Jeff Burton sixth, Paul Menard seventh, Denny Hamlin eighth, Marcos Ambrose ninth and Kyle Busch rounds out the top-ten starting positions.

Failing to make the starting lineup were the #95 driven by Scott Speed; #79 driven by Kelly Bires; #91 driven by Reed Sorenson and the #37 driven by JJ Yeley.

The 52nd annual Irwin Tools Night Race at Bristol is scheduled to get underway Saturday evening around 7:50pm ET with ESPN on ABC providing television coverage beginning with their 7:00pm ET “NASCAR Countdown” pre-race program.

Starting Lineup

Provided by Timing & Scoring provided by NASCARmedia

2012 NNS Food City 250 Starting Lineup
Trevor Bayne backed up his NNS practice session performance during qualifying, as he ran a lap speed of 121.190-mph, to capture the 2012 Food City 250 Coors Light Pole Award at Bristol Motor Speedway.

This was Bayne’s first series pole of the 2012 season, his fifth series career pole and his first series pole in “thunder valley.”

Starting second on the outside pole with a qualifying lap speed of 121.090-mph, will be Joey Logano, followed by Brian Scott 121.075-mph who will start third, series Sunoco Rookie of the Year contender, Austin Dillon 121.029 fourth and Ricky Stenhouse Jr 120.877 starts fifth.

Rounding out the top-ten starting positions will be Justin Allgaier 120.854-mph starting sixth, Elliott Sadler 120.656 seventh, Brad Keselowski 120.656 eighth, Sam Hornish Jr 120.566 ninth and Kyle Busch 120.505 will start from tenth position.

Failing to make the starting lineup were the #89 driven by Morgan Shepherd, #47 driven by Stephen Leicht and the #00 driven by Blake Koch.

Weather permitting, the 31st annual Food City 250 is set to get underway around 7:50pm ET this evening and television coverage will be provided by ESPN beginning with their 7:00pm ET pre-race show.

Starting Lineup

From Timing & Scoring provided by NASCARmedia

2012 NSCS Irwin Tools Night Race Final Practice Session Speeds
During the final NSCS Irwin Tools Night Race practice session at Bristol Motor Speedway, it was Joey Logano, with a lap speed of 122.404-mph, posting the fastest lap in the session.

Brad Keselowski was second fastest with a lap speed of 122.154-mph, and was followed by David Gilliland 121.929-mph who was third fastest, Matt Kenseth 121.921 fourth and Kyle Busch 121.883 was fifth fastest.

Rounding out the top-ten fastest during the “Happy Hour” – final – practice session were Denny Hamlin 121.674-mph who was sixth fastest, Regan Smith 121.620 seventh, Brian Vickers 121.328 eighth, Greg Biffle 121.228 ninth and Kasey Kahne 121.205 posting the tenth fastest lap speed.

Qualifying will take place early this evening at 5:10pm ET on ESPN2 to determine the starting lineup for the 52nd annual Irwin Tools Night Race at Bristol – which is scheduled to get underway Saturday evening around 7:50pm ET ESPN on ABC will provide television coverage beginning with their 7:00pm ET “NASCAR Countdown” pre-race program.

Final Practice Speeds

From Timing & Scoring provided by NASCARmedia

2012 NNS Food City 250 Final Practice Session Speeds

During the only practice session being held for tonight’s NNS Food City 250 at Bristol Motor Speedway, it was Trevor Bayne, with a lap speed of 120.687-mph, at the top of the speed charts at the end of the session.

Kasey Kahne, with a lap speed of 120.331-mph was second fastest and was followed by Sam Hornish Jr 120.241-mph who was third fastest, while Kevin Harvick and Joey Logano with the identical lap speed 119.955 were fourth and fifth fastest respectively.

Rounding out the top-ten fastest during the “Happy Hour” – final – practice session were Ricky Stenhouse, Jr 119.932-mph who was sixth fastest, Brad Keselowski 119.925 seventh, the current series points leader, Elliott Sadler 119.903 eighth, Nelson Piquet Jr 119.708 ninth and Kyle Busch 119.678 posting the tenth fastest lap speed.

Qualifying is scheduled to start this afternoon at 3:40pm ET to determine the starting lineup for this evening’s 31st annual Food City 250, which is set to get underway around 7:50pm ET. Television coverage will be provided by ESPN beginning with their 7:00pm ET pre-race show.

Final Practice SpeedsQualifying Order

From Timing & Scoring provided by NASCARmedia

2012 NSCS Irwin Tools Night Race First Practice Session Speeds

Casey Mears, with a lap speed of 122.209-mph, was the quickest during the first NSCS Irwin Tools Night Race practice session at Bristol Motorspeedway.

Second quickest with a lap speed of 122.162-mph, was Brad Keselowski followed by the current series points leader, Greg Biffle 122.123-mph who was third quickest, while Joey Logano and Aric Almirola with the identical lap speed of 121.999 were fourth and fifth quickest respectively.

Rounding out the top-ten quickest during the practice session were Jeff Burton 121.952-mph who was sixth quickest, Paul Menard 121.821 seventh, Denny Hamlin 121.813 eighth, Marcos Ambrose 121.720 ninth and Kyle Busch 121.697 posting the tenth quickest lap speed.

The teams will have their “Happy Hour” – final – practice session from 2:45pm to 3:30pm ET on SPEED this afternoon, and then qualifying will take place afterwards at 5:10pm ET on ESPN2

The 52nd annual Irwin Tools Night Race at Bristol is scheduled to get underway Saturday evening around 7:50pm ET and ESPN on ABC will provide television coverage beginning with their 7:00pm ET “NASCAR Countdown” pre-race program.

First Practice SpeedsQualifying Order

From Timing & Scoring provided by NASCARmedia

SRT Motorsports – Dodge – Presents The Numbers – Irwin Tools Night Race at Bristol

0 – fewest cautions for a race at Bristol Motor Speedway – 7/11/71

0 – fewest lead changes for a race – 3/25/73

1 – fewest laps led by race winner – 7/26/64/Fred Lorenzen

1 – fewest on lead lap at finish – 22 times, most recent 8/22/81

4 – number of jet dryers available for track drying during race weekend

4 – number of races won from outside of top-25 starting spot

5 – number of cautions in spring race

7 – number of consecutive wins by Darrell Waltrip at BMS – 1981 to 1984

7 – fewest cars running at finish – 3/20/66

16 – most wins by a car owner – Junior Johnson

20 – most cautions for a race at BMS – three times, most recent 8/23/03

34 – races won from the front row – 22 from the pole

39 – different winners at BMS in 103 Sprint Cup races

40 – most lead changes – 4/14/91

42 – number of cars that started the first race at Bristol in 1961

42 – most cars running at finish – 3/16/08

60 – minutes, the minimum amount of time it takes to dry the .533-mile track after a significant rainfall

500 – most laps led by race winner – Cale Yarborough, 3/25/73

157,574 – number of fans that established the Guiness World Record for the world’s largest audience wave at BMS – August 23, 2008

2012 Caution Update

1 – fewest cautions this season – Fontana

5 – races extended beyond scheduled distance – Daytona1, Martinsville, Talladega, Darlington, Sonoma and Michigan2

10 – most cautions this season – Daytona1

123 – cautions in the first 23 races of 2012; includes 57 for accidents, 33 for debris and 13 for spins

628 of 6,037 – laps under caution in 2012

975.221 of 8,642.456 – miles under caution in the first 23 races

From Darnell Communications for SRT Motorsports – Dodge-PR

Keselowski says he didn’t accuse HMS of cheating

Brad Keselowski stressed Thursday night that he wasn’t accusing Hendrick Motorsports of cheating with his comments last week at Michigan International Speedway.

Read more from Sporting News

Paul Menard sanctions appealed
Richard Childress Racing is appealing the penalties NASCAR levied against Paul Menard’s race team this week.

Crew chief Slugger Labbe is at Bristol Motor Speedway on Friday working on the No. 27 Chevrolet. Labbe was fined $100,000 and suspended until Oct. 3 because NASCAR said the car’s frame rails had been intentionally modified in an effort to deceive inspectors.

Read more from ESPN

Thursday, August 23, 2012

NASCAR suspends Nationwide crew member for violating substance abuse policy

NASCAR has indefinitely suspended Nationwide Series crew member Ryan Hess for violation of its substance abuse policy.

In announcing the suspension Thursday, NASCAR did not identify which team Hess worked for, but Hess was working with MacDonald Motorsports and driver Jason Bowles earlier this month at Watkins Glen as a mechanic and gas man. There was no immediate comment from the team.

Read more from Sporting News

Bruton Smith reserving judgement

The chairman of Speedway Motorsports Inc is reserving judgement on whether more changes need to be made to Bristol Motor Speedway to bring back bang-bang excitement until after Saturday night’s Sprint Cup race.

“We will do anything we feel we have to do,” chairman Bruton Smith told ESPN.com. “Right now, it’s an unknown.”

Read more from ESPN

Expect a Few Drivers to Clinch Chase Spot at Bristol

When a driver clinches his spot in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, they receive a commemorative black and yellow hat with the 2012 Chase logo emblazoned on it. So far, no one’s in possession of that hat.

Ten drivers in all have a mathematical chance at clinching a Chase spot. Seven can secure a top-ten berth in the Chase this Saturday at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Regardless of what any other driver does, points leader Greg Biffle will clinch with a finish of 28th with no laps led, 29th with at least one lap led and 30th with the most laps led.

The scenario for Matt Kenseth is eighth with no laps led, ninth with at least one lap led and 10th with most laps led.

Dale Earnhardt Jr lands a spot in the post season with finishes of sixth with no laps led, seventh with at least one lap led an eighth with most laps led.

Five-time NASCAR Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson will punch his Chase ticket with a victory of second-place finish while leading the most laps.

Brad Keselowski, Martin Truex Jr and Clint Bowyer also can reserve spots in the Chase but are not yet in charge of their own destinies. The magic number is 97. Any driver 97 points ahead of 11th place leaving Bristol will officially clinch a top-ten spot.

Those who can clinch at least a Wild Card: Keselowski, Stewart, Hamlin, Kahne and Bowyer. A win and Keselowski and Stewart are in. Hamlin, Kahne and Bowyer have to win on Saturday night, and get some help.

From NASCAR

Five Drivers with the most points in last five races

Keselowski – 203

Kahne – 194

Biffle – 191

Bowyer – 185

Truex Jr – 179

From Jayski’s

2012 NASCAR at BMS – Finally a completely dry forecast

Looks like NASCAR gets a break from all the drama that has been associated with Mother Nature.

High pressure dominates the rest of the week and into the weekend. There will be a little more moisture in the picture on Saturday and Sunday. Right now it looks dry but this forecast could change as we get closer to the weekend. As of now everything looks dry and very nice.

Read more from Wx-Man

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

2012 NCWTS UNOH 200 Race Results

Peters in Bristol VL
Photo – John Harrelson/Getty Images

The current NASCAR Camping World Truck Series points leader, Timothy Peters, started the UNOH 200 at Bristol Motor Speedway on the outside pole Wednesday night. And, by the time he completed the first lap, he had jumped to the front and led every lap – 204, the most in series history at Bristol – to victory.

This was Peters’ second series win of the 2012 season, his fifth series career win, his first series win at Bristol Motor Speedway and now leads James Buescher by 17-points in the series standings.

Coming in second behind Peters – by 0.465 seconds – was Parker Kligerman, and they were followed to the drop of the checkered flag by series Sunoco Rookie of the Year contender, Ross Chastain, finishing third, Joey Coulter fourth and Brendan Gaughan finished in fifth.

Rounding out the top-ten finishing positions were Ryan Blaney finishing sixth, James Buescher seventh, Ron Hornaday Jr eighth, Matt Crafton ninth and Justin Lofton finished in the tenth position.

Race Notes

Average Speed – 79.690-mph

Time of Race – 1 hr, 21 mins, 52 secs

Margin of Victory – 0.465 seconds

Lead Changes – 1 among 1 driver

Cautions – 6 for 43 laps

Attendance – 53,000

Race ResultsPoint Standings

Next Up – The 6th annual Jeff Foxworthy’s Grit Chips 200 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on Friday, August 31st, with an approximate starting time of 8:25pm ET and television coverage provided by SPEED beginning with their 7:30pm ET pre-race show.

From Timing & Scoring provided by NASCARmedia

New Bristol master Keselowski says tough track brings out the best in him

Brad Keselowski has won the past two Sprint Cup races at Bristol Motor Speedway.

But he can’t explain exactly why he has won those races, or why he seems to run so well at Bristol.

Read more from Sporting News

RPM Changes made to enhance efforts

Richard Petty Motorsports made changes to its two pit crews on Monday in preparation for this weekend’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Read more from FOX Sports

Danica’s woes related to parts issues

Crew chief Tony Eury Jr said the shoe chucked into Danica Patrick’s path and run over by the race-leading No. 7 Chevrolet in Saturday’s Nationwide Series race in Montreal had no bearing on the two unrelated parts problems that soon after relegating her to a 27th-place finish.

Read more from ESPN

Dale Earnhardt Jr, Jeff Gordon put Michigan spat behind them

Dale Earnhardt Jr says he and teammate Jeff Gordon are fine with each other after an incident Sunday at Michigan International Speedway turned into a minor spat between the two Hendrick Motorsports drivers.

Gordon lashed out at Earnhardt for racing him four-wide and for sliding up in front of him midway through the race. “Tell the – expletive – 88 he can thanks me later for not wrecking is ass,” Gordon radioed his team. “That was – expletive – stupid.”

Read more from Sporting News

McReynolds, Hammond React to No. 27 Team’s Penalties

NASCAR today announced stiff penalties for the No. 27 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet team resulting from rules infractions found in post-race inspection at the NASCAR R&D Center after last weekend’s race at Michigan. NASCAR said the team intentionally modified frame rails for the purpose of deceiving NASCAR’s inspection gauges.

As a result, crew chief Slugger Labbe was fined $100,000 and suspended from NASCAR until Oct. 3. Additionally, car chief Craig Smokstad and crew member Grant Hutchens were suspended for the same time period. NASCAR also docked the team 25 driver and owner championship points.

Below, SPEED analysts and former crew chiefs Larry McReynolds and Jeff Hammond offer their perspective on these penalties.

“These penalties are awfully stiff. Twenty-five points in today’s points system is a lot. Paul Menard finished ninth at Michigan, so this points deduction equates to him finishing 34th. We’re in the sixth year of NASCAR certifying these chassis and I don’t think this ever happened before because everyone knows how sacred this ground truly is. When NASCAR puts those radio frequency ID tags on the chassis and certifies them, blesses them and says they’re ready for competition, the only things they expect teams to do is go home, put a body on it and get it ready for the track. I understand why NASCAR dropped the hammer as hard as they did because they had to make a statement after all of these years, they aren’t going to tolerate this type of thing.

“Not knowing exactly what the No. 27 did to the frame rail, I’m hesitant to say their modifications afforded them a big, little or no advantage. However, I don’t understand why they did this given the position they’e in in points with their teams. The three RCR Cup teams combined have only five top-five finishes this season. They barely have one driver in the Chase – Kevin Harvick – and haven’t contended for wins. Why monkey around with the frame rails? Is that truly why they’re getting beat each week? I doubt it. That’s not why Paul Menard is 15th in the points with no top-five finishes.”

-Larry McReynolds, SPEED analyst

“When NASCAR developed this new car, certain certifications were mandatory and were to be adhered to. When a chassis is certified, it is not be altered from the point forward. I’m a little surprised the monetary fine wasn’t greater and the suspensions don’t extend through the end of the year. With that in mind, this penalty is more than fair. When NASCAR sets certain rules, they mean for them to be followed, and hopefully the message has been sent loud and clear that this car is not to be tampered with. There are certain areas they say teams can work in but this clearly is one of the areas that is off limits.

“i hope the message has resonated that NASCAR does not want this car altered or developed any further or any less. Just leave it alone. I was a hard headed crew chief, but even I understood there are certain rules you don’t break. Unfortunately, as well as this team had done in climbing through the points, this penalty essenially strips them of any opportunity to make the Chase, even if they win three or four races. That’s the worst part of this.”

-Jeff Hammond, SPEED analyst

From SPEED-PR

Martinsville Speedway Test Session Provides First On-Track Look of NASCAR’s 2013 Stock Car

2013 Ford EcoBoost Martinsville Test
Photo – Ford Racing

Now that the 2013 NASCAR Fusion has been approved for competition next year, it’s time for the drivers and teams to see how good it can be on the track.

That means testing, testing and more testing.

During a recent on-track session at Martinsville Speedway in Martinsville VA, a mixed crew made members from Roush Fenway and Wood Brothers Racing put Ford’s latest model through it’s paces and while the focus was on making the car go fast, much of the talk centered around how it looked.

“This is the first time I’ve driven the 2013 NASCAR Fusion and it’s great,” said Carl Edwards. “Ford has done a great job with us and at the end of the day we like fast cars and we like neat cars. That’s why I started racing and that’s why all of these guys enjoy the sport so much, so it’s really cool to walk in the garage and see such a beautiful Ford race car sitting there.”

While Edwards was turning laps around the half-mile oval, many racing observers on hand watched and smiled because it brought back memories from past decades when cars had a distinct look from one another.

“I really like it because it looks like the Fusion that’s going to be in the showroom,” said Eddie Wood, a co-owner of the No. 21 Motorcraft Fusion and lifelong NASCAR competitor. “The biggest thing I like about it is it reminds me of the ’69 Cyclones and Torinos and Talladega with the Cyclone spoilers we ran in the late sixties. It’s got the fastback roof and all that, so I’m looking forward to painting ours red and white.

“It’s a modern look, but it’s kind of got a throwback style,” continued Wood. “I think it’s got everything. I think it’s got appeal for the young people that are of age to buy cars, and I think it’s got the appeal of guys my age that have been around a while. I wish we could run it now.”

His brother, Len, felt much the same way saying, “I think it looks like the cars we used to race, the old Mercurys and Torinos and things we had back in the seventies. I’m really pleased with it because it looks like a street car. I havent’ seen a grille like that in years on a race car. I think it looks great.”

The 2013 Fusion will debut in February during Speedweeks at Daytona International Speedway with its first official points race being the Daytona 500. That means crew chiefs Chad Norris and Donnie Wingo have six months to fine-tune the necessary race packages required for all of the different tracks on the NASCAR circuit and it’s something both are looking forward to because of the product.

“Anything new is always exciting and fun, and it’s always challenging to try to figure out how you’re going to make it go fast,” said Norris, who took over as Edwards’ crew chief last month. That’s what we do as racers, so it’s always a challenge looking forward to 2012 to see how we can make this car go as fast as possible.”

“The final version is really awesome. I think it’s go great body lines on it and it looks really nice,” added Norris. “It looks really close to the production car, and overall, I think it’s really good for the fans.”

Wingo, who has served as crew chief for Trevor Bayne the past two seasons and played a key role in helping him win the 2011 Daytona 500 for the Wood Brothers, echoed Norris saying, “It looks a lot more like the street version and what the fans want to see, so I’m excited about it. I’m looking forward to 2013.”

From PCGCampbell for Ford Racing-PR

2012 NCWTS UNOH 200 Starting Lineup

NCWTS Sunoco Rookie of the Year contender, Cale Gale, with a qualifying lap speed of 122.560-mph, captured his first series career pole with winning the 2012 UNOH 200 Keystone Light Pole Award at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Current series points leader, Timothy Peters, with a qualifying lap speed of 122.092-mph, will start on the outside pole, and will be followed by Todd Bodine – with the identical lap speed of 122.092-mph – starting third, Brad Keselowski 122.007 fourth and Ryan Blaney 121.937 staring fifth.

Rounding out the top-ten starting positions will be Nelson Piquet Jr 121.697-mph will start sixth, Matt Crafton 121.689 seventh, Joey Coulter 121.659 eighth, Parker Kligerman 121.397 ninth and Johnny Sauter 121.328 will start from tenth position.

Failing to make the starting lineup were the #36 driven by Grant Enfinger; #0 driven by Brandon Knupp; #68 driven by Clay Greenfield and the #10 driven by Jennifer Jo Cobb.

The 15th annual UNOH 200 is scheduled to get underway tonight at approximately 8:20pm ET and television coverage will be provided by SPEED beginning with their 7:30pm ET pre-race show.

Starting Lineup

From Timing & Scoring provided by NASCARmedia

2012 NCWTS UNOH 200 Final Practice Session Speeds

During the final NCWTS UNOH 200 practice session for this evening’s race, it was Justin Lofton, with a lap speed of 121.605-mph, showing the fastest way around Bristol Motor Speedway.

Last week’s Michigan – VFW 200 – winner, Nelson Piquet Jr was second fastest with a lap speed of 121.412-mph, and was followed by Brendan Gaughan 121.259-mph who was third fastest, James Buescher 121.221 fourth and Joey Coulter 121.190 was fifth.

Two-time series champion Todd “the Onion” Bodine 121.144-mph was sixth fastest, while Matt Crafton 121.068 as seventh, Johnny Sauter 120.991 eighth, series Sunoco Rookie of the Year contender, Cale Gale 120.846 ninth and current series points leader, Timothy Peters 120.793 rounds out the top-ten fastest during “Happy Hour.”

Final Practice Speeds

The teams will have their qualifying session this afternoon at 4:30pm ET to determine the starting lineup for this evening’s 15th annual UNOH 200 which is scheduled to get underway tonight at approximately 8:20pm ET. Television coverage will be provided by SPEED beginning with their 7:30pm ET pre-race show.

From Timing & Scoring provided by NASCARmedia.

2012 NCWTS UNOH 200 First Practice Session Speeds

Bristol Motor Speedway will be hosting a rare Wednesday night NCWTS race tonight, and it was Nelson Piquet Jr with a lap speed of 121.697-mph, posting the quickest speed during the first NCWTS UNOH 200 practice session.

Second quickest with a lap speed of 121.605-mph, was James Buescher followed by series Rookie of the Year contenders, Cale Gale 121.474-mph and Ty Dillon 121.175 who were third and fourth quickest respectively and Matt Crafton 121.052 was fifth quickest.

Rounding out the top-ten quickest during the practice session were Joey Coulter 120.938-mph who was sixth quickest, Brendan Gaughan 120.930 seventh, Timothy Peters 120.869 eighth, John Wes Townley 120.702 ninth and Justin Lofton 120.588 posting the tenth quickest lap speed.

The teams will have their “Happy Hour” – final – practice session this afternoon from 12:00 to 1:30pm ET and then qualifying at 4:30pm ET.

The 15th annual UNOH 200 is scheduled to get underway tonight at approximately 8:20pm ET with television coverage provided by SPEED beginning with their 7:30pm ET pre-race show.

First Practice Speeds

From Timing & Scoring provided by NASCARmedia

Dale Earnhardt Jr Edges Out Kasey Kahne For The Cover of NASCAR The Game

Photo – Activision

NASCAR fans have spoken, and Dale Earnhardt Jr narrowly defeated Kasey Kahne in the final round of voting in the “Drive for the Cover” campaign. Earnhardt, nine-time most popular driver, will adorn the cover of the upcoming NASCAR The Game: Inside Line video game, scheduled to be released on Nov 6.

“We are excited for Dale Earnhardt Jr to be featured on the cover of the new NASCAR The Game: Inside Line,” said Blake Davidson, NASCAR vice president of licensing & consumer products. “For a campaign that was driven entirely through social media, the more than 775,000 votes cast in the “Drive for the Cover” campaign is a testament to the impact that the NASCAR industry and its fans have across these platforms.”

Activision Publishing Inc, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Activision Blizzard Inc and leading independent game developer Eutechnyx will bring the true NASCAR experience to consoles on November 6. NASCAR The Game: Inside Line will allow players to race with the top NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers, teams and cars, as well as feature all 23 officially licensed NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race tracks. NASCAR The Game: Inside Line will be available on Xbox 360 video game and entertainment system from Microsoft, the PlayStation 3 computer entertainment system and the Wii system from Nintendo.

For more info on NASCAR The Game: Inside Line, visit the game’s Web site located at NASCARthegame.com, or follow along on Twitter Twitter.com/@NASCARTheGame and facebook.com/NASCARthegame.

From NASCAR-PR

No. 27 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Team Penalized for MIS Post-Race Infractions

NASCAR has issued penalties, suspensions and fines to the No. 27 team in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series as a result of rules infractions discovered this week during post-race inspection at the NASCAR Research and Development Center following last Sunday’s race at Michigan International Speedway.

The No. 27 team was found to be in violation of Sections 12-1 – actions detrimental to stock car racing; 12-4K – race equipment that has been previously certified or previously approved by NASCAR for use in an event, pursuant to sub-section 8-12 has been altered, modified, repaired or changed in any manner. Intentionally modifying frame rails for the purpose of deceiving NACSAR’s inspections guages – of the 2012 NASCAR Rule Book.

As a result, crew chief Slugger Labbe has been fined $100,000, suspended from NASCAR until Oct. 3 and placed on probation until Dec 31. Car chief Craig Smokstad has been suspended from NASCAR until Oct 3 and placed on probation until Dec 31 while crew member Grant Hutchens has also been suspended from NASCAR until Oct 3 and place on probation until Dec 31. Driver Paul Menard and owner Richard Childress have been penalized with the loss of 25 championship driver and owner points, respectively.

From NASCAR-PR

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

No. 18 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Team Penalized For Rule Infractions At Michigan

NASCAR announced today penalties and fines to the No. 18 team that competes in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, as a result of rule infractions at Michigan International Speedway.

The No. 18 car was found to be in violation of Sections 12-1 – actions detrimental to stock car racing; 12-4J – any determination by NASCAR officials that the race equipment used in the event does not conform to NASCAR rules; and 20-2.3A – improperly attached weight – of the 2012 NASCAR rule book. The infraction occurred during practice on Aug. 18.

As a result of the violation, crew chief Dave Rogers has been fined $25,000 and placed on NASCAR probation until Oct. 3. In addition, car chief Wesley Sherrill has been placed on NASCAR probation until Oct. 3.

From NASCAR-PR

Driver Aaron Fike reinstated; heroin use spurred NASCAR’s drug-testing policy

Driver Aaron Fike was reinstated Tuesday by NASCAR, five years after he was arrested on heroin charges.

It was Fike’s admission of using heroin on the days he raced that brought into question NASCAR’s previous suspicion-based drug-testing policy. His arrest came in July 2007.

Read more from Sporting News

Burton Hunting for his Mojo

All you have to do to understand Jeff Burton’s frustration right now is look at his numbers: no victories, two top-fives, four top-tens and 20th in points so far in the 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup season.

This is not where the veteran Virginia driver or his Richard Childress Racing team expected to be right now. Instead, he though he was going to be solidly in the field for the Chase for the Sprint Cup, something that would take a miracle to make happen right now.

Read more from SPEED

Resurfacing makes new Bristol feel old again

It might seem like a subtle change when fans first walk through the gates of Bristol Motor Speedway this weekend, but a little concrete should definitely make a big difference to the drivers.

Welcome to the new resurfaced Bristol, – hopefully – like the old Bristol. Goodbye progressive banking. Hello expected bumping and banging.

Read more from NASCAR.com

Texas announces 2013 NASCAR dates

Texas Motor Speedway has released the dates of the track’s two 2013 Sprint Cup Series dates while the rest of the next season’s schedule is starting to come together.

The Lone Star State track will once again host the Sprint Cup Series under the lights in the spring with a Saturday night, April 13 date. The Nationwide Series will compete on the 1.5-mile track the night before.

Read more from Eye On NASCAR

Drivers anxious to see if new Bristol will bring back old-style racing

For Sprint Cup drivers who have not been on the altered Bristol Motor Speedway racing surface, they have one wish for Saturday’s Irwin Tools Night Race.

“I just hope they didn’t screw it up,” series points leader Greg Biffle said.

Read more from Sporting News

Kevin Harvick back with crew chief

Kevin Harvick will reunite with crew chief Gil Martin beginning with Saturday night’s Sprint Cup race at Bristol Motor Speedway, a spokesperson from Richard Childress Racing confirmed Monday.

Martin will replace Shane Wilson.

Read more from ESPN

Monday, August 20, 2012
NASCAR Foundation has new executive director
The NASCAR Foundation has announced Lorene King will serve as its new executive director. The announcement was made Monday during the unveiling of the new The NASCAR Foundation emblem at the International Motorsports Center in Daytona Beach, FL, marking the foundations, official headquarters move to the birthplace of NASCAR.

King, who assumes her duties immediately, joins The NASCAR Foundation after having served seven years as senior director of corporate alliances at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, TN, where she developed, coordinated and executed successful fundraising and cause marketing strategies like the annual Thanks and Giving campaign, a leading initiative for the organization. During her tenure at St. Jude, King also helped lead integrated program analysis and strategic planning.

“This is an exciting time for the foundation with our new headquarters up and running and new leadership on board,” said The NASCAR Foundations chairwoman Betty Jane France. “Lorene is a great fit for our organization as we strive to take our efforts to the next level. Lorene will help us expand the already considerable impact we are making to the social and economic well-being of the communities in which we live and race.”

The move marks a homecoming for King, who grew up in the Daytona Beach area. As executive director, King will report to the foundation’s Board of Directors and will oversee the organization’s efforts to increase volunteer opportunities and steer charitable giving on behalf of The NASCAR Foundation. Initiatives that will continue to grow under King’s leadership include The Betty Jane France Humanitarian Award, Speediatrics, NASCAR Dreams and NASCAR Day. The foundation will continue to maintain a strong presence in Charlotte, NC, to serve teams, drivers and industry members with their charitable endeavors.

From 1996-2005, King served as senior director of legal and estates and trusts and as director of gift planning programs at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. She graduated from the University of South Alabama and earned an MBA from the University of Memphis. She continues to serve as an advisory board member and mentor for the Memphis Institute for Leadership Education. King also serves on the board of directors for the University of Memphis’ Fogelman College of Business and Education.

By Official Release

Keselowski, Roush address debate
Jimmie Johnson’s engine failure with five laps remaining in the Pure Michigan 400 opened the door for the field to battle for the NASCAR Sprint Cup win – and further speculation concerning a 2012 advantage for the Hendrick Motorsports cars.

Read more from FOX Sports

For Some It’s Must Win Time
Several top drivers need to rally…

It definitely was a wild race Sunday at Michigan International Speedway.

We had a lot of different front-runners who at times seemed like they were going to run away with the event. At the end of the day, however, it was Greg Biffle in his Ford taking the checkered flag. This was the first time a Ford has won at Michigan since Carl Edwards did so in 2008. On top of all that Greg not only go his second win of the season, but the three bonus points for when the Chase starts – and he now has the points lead.

Read more from SPEED

Hendrick Motorsports getting assist from former NY Yankees trainer
As Gene Monahan was winding down his 49-year career with the New York Yankees, he had another sport in mind.

NASCAR.

According to The New York Times, Monahan, a lifelong race fan, moved from New Jersey to Mooresville, NC, after retiring as head trainer of the Yankees last fall to pursue a career in NASCAR. He is now working as a consultant with Hendrick Motorsports – the Yankees of NASCAR.

Read more from Sporting News

NASCAR not just for the boys
Fuel Mileage. Restrictor plates. Bump drafting.

It sounds like a foreign language to those outside of the world of stock car racing, but to 75 million NASCAR fans, it’s their native tongue.

Surprisingly, men aren’t the only ones who speak this language. In fact 40 percent of the NASCAR fan base is female. And they have no problem keeping up with the boys when it comes to talking about racing.

Read more from ESPN-W

NASCAR Seeks to Woo Latinos with Fox Deportes Agreement
NASCAR dads and Hispanics could be seen as being the opposite sides of the political fence, but that has not stopped NASCAR from reaching an agreement with Fox Deportes, the Spanish-language cable sports channel, to broadcast 15 races starting in February.

The agreement includes the broadcast of six live races, including the Daytona 500, which will be broadcast in Spanish for the first time. Among other events are races at Bristol Motor Speedway, Charlotte Motor Speedway and Talladega Superspeedway.

Read more from New York Times

Tony Scott, director of ‘Days of Thunder,’ dies after jumping off bridge
Tony Scott, director of the NASCAR-themed “Days of Thunder” and other Hollywood blockbusters, died Sunday after jumping from a Los Angeles County bridge, authorities said.

Scott’s death was being investigated as a suicide, Los Angeles County Coroner’s Lt. Joe Bale said.

Read more from Sporting News

Statement from Michigan International Speedway – MIS – via Associated Press
“The safety of the drivers is paramount,” a (MIS) spokesman said. “So we will seek NASCAR’s opinion and work with them on any recommendations they may have on how we can improve any part of the competition area – that includes pit road, pit wall, the track, anything competition-related.”

Engine Failures Shake Up Points
Sunday’s Pure Michigan 400 saw another huge shake up in points, thanks mostly to the failures of three Hendrick Motorsports engines in the race.

Jimmie Johnson was leading the race comfortably with six laps to go at Michigan International Speedway when the engine in his No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet suddenly dropped a valve spring, allowing Greg Biffle to pass him and drive to victory over Brad Keselowski and Kasey Kahne. Johnson finished 27th.

Read more from SPEED

Jeff Gordon rips teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr after close call at Michigan
Jeff Gordon lashed out at teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr on Sunday, chastising him for what he said was a risky move during the Pure Michigan 400.

Earnhardt swept by his teammate four-wide after a mid-race restart and slid up in front of him, nearly hitting Gordon’s car.

Gordon, who is fighting for a wild-card spot in the Chase, was livid with his Hendrick Motorsports teammate at the time.

Read more from Sporting News

Earnhardt, Letarte show their mettle at Michigan
Dale Earnhardt Jr struggled to sleep Saturday night, and it wasn’t because he had suffered through his worst finishes of the season in each of the past two weeks. It wasn’t because he had seen his Sprint Cup points lead transformed into a deficit. It wasn’t because he was feeling the pressure to become the first driver in 17 years to sweep both races in a single season at Michigan International Speedway.

It was because he was embarrassed.

Read more from Yahoo Sports

Mark Martin survives frightening crash on pit road at Michigan
Mark Martin was involved in a frightening crash Sunday that spilled over onto pit road at Michigan International Speedway.

Martin, the pole-sitter for the Sprint Cup Series’ Pure Michigan 400, was leading the race when Bobby Labonte and Juan Pablo Montoya appeared to get together in front of him, causing Labonte to spin.

Read more and see the video at Sporting News

Greg Biffle wins wild one at Michigan
Remember those old, lazy days on the giant racetrack in the Irish Hills when the cars often got spread out and ran endless green-flag laps without much happening?

Well, those days are gone, at least for now.

Greg Biffle held off Brad Keselowski and Kasey Kahne on a late restart and won a wild one Sunday, not something you hear much after a race at Michigan. But this is a new era on the new pavement that has changed the game on the 2-mile oval.

Read more from ESPN

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