MICHIGAN

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

CAMPINGWORLD TRUCKS AT BRISTOL

Fast Facts

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series
Next Race: UNOH 200 Presented by ZLOOP
The Place: Bristol Motor Speedway
The Date: Wednesday, August 20
The Time: 8:30 p.m. (ET)
TV: FOX Sports 1, 8 p.m. (ET)
Radio: MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio Ch. 90
Distance: 106.6 miles (200 laps)

ThorSport Packs 1-2 Punch
ThorSport has not one, but two drivers at the top of NASCAR’s Camping World Truck Series standings following a record-setting performance at Michigan this weekend.

Team drivers Johnny Sauter and Matt Crafton finished 1-2 in Saturday’s Careers For Veterans 200, blazing away from the field in the fastest race in series history with an average speed of 161.110 mph. The new mark demolished the previous record of 154.737 mph set at Texas Motor Speedway in 2012.

On top of their display of speed, Sauter and Crafton ousted Ryan Blaney as the standings leader, taking the top two spots, respectively.  Going into Wednesday’s UNOH 200 presented by ZLOOP at Bristol Motor Speedway (8:30 p.m. ET on Fox Sports 1), Sauter leads Crafton in the standings by nine points.

The Sandusky, Ohio-based outfit owned by Duke and Rhonda Thorson and partnered with Mike Curb now has trucks ranked first and third in the owner standings: Sauter’s No. 98 and Crafton’s No. 88 Toyota Tundras. ThorSport also owns the 14th-ranked truck in the series, the No. 13 Toyota Tundra driven by Jeb Burton.

“(I’m) just proud of this effort from everybody at ThorSport,” said Sauter following the race. “This is a great day for us. This puts us in the points lead, just halfway through the season — with some really good races coming up for us.”

His first of the season, Sauter’s victory also marks his lone checkered flag at Michigan. He has now won at least one series race in six consecutive seasons, trailing Dennis Setzer’s all-time record of eight. Sauter boasts 10 top-10 finishes and the highest average finish on the season (7.2).

ThorSport will attempt to keep its momentum heading into Bristol. Sauter has two top-five finishes in six starts there, while Crafton owns six top-10 finishes in 11 starts. Burton took 12th last season in his first-career start at Bristol.

The Last Coliseum Hosts Next Generation
Bristol brings a young flavor to this week’s NASCAR Camping World Truck Series.

Eight combined current and former NASCAR Next members will attempt to tackle the .533-mile course.  Present NASCAR Next members Cole Custer, 16, Gray Gaulding, 16, and Ben Rhodes, 17, make their first truck starts at the track while alumni Ryan Blaney, 20, Darrell Wallace Jr., 20, Jeb Burton, 22, Corey LaJoie, 22, and Ben Kennedy, 22, are all also entered.

This season, the program has produced three victories claimed by Wallace (two) and current member Erik Jones (one). Kyle Busch will be racing in place of Jones, 18, who became the youngest driver to win a NASCAR national series event last year at Phoenix (17 years, five months, nine days), in the No. 51 Toyota Tundra for the second consecutive race. In fact, Busch hopes to keep his record as the youngest NCWTS Bristol winner (21 years, 10 months, 23 days) by fending off his junior peers.

Contributing to the youth in the field is NASCAR’s rule that drivers between 16-18-years-old can compete on tracks 1.1 miles or less.

This week’s 2014-15 NASCAR Next entries have a combined 10 races of Truck Series experience - all this year. Custer has two top-10 finishes in four starts and won the 21 Means 21 Pole Award at Gateway, making him the youngest winner of a NASCAR national series pole (16 years, four months and 22 days). Rhodes has posted one top 10 in his two starts, while Gaulding is searching for his first top-10 finish after coming up short in four starts this season.

Blaney Focused on Championship
At the ripe age of 20, Ryan Blaney took his latest leap in his quest to NASCAR stardom when Wood Brothers Racing announced last Thursday that he will drive the No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Fusion for the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup season.

Although excited about his jump to NASCAR’s premier series, he still has unfinished business.

“Most of my focus is on that truck and trying to win a championship,” declared Blaney at Michigan.

Blaney lost his points lead at Michigan, where he finished 21st after winning the pole. He now sits at third in the standings, trailing Johnny Sauter by 16 points and Matt Crafton by nine. The performance also snapped his seven-race top-10 finish streak, the longest one on the series this season.

The No. 29 Ford F-150 driver will attempt to get back on track on Wednesday at Bristol, where he boasts two top-10 finishes in as many starts, including a third-place result last year.

Bristol should be welcoming to Blaney, who excels on short tracks, claiming nine top-10 finishes in 12 starts (75%).

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Etc.
Bristol Bits: Former motocross competitor Justin Boston will make his NASCAR Camping World Truck Series debut with Venturini Motorsports at Bristol Motor Speedway driving the No. 25 Toyota. Boston was motivated to switch from motorcycles to stock cars after attending a NCWTS race with his family at Dover, which, like Bristol, is a concrete, high-banked track. … Corey LaJoie, son of two-time Nationwide Series champion Randy LaJoie, will compete in his second NCWTS race of the season, driving the No. 92 truck owned by Ricky Benton. … Country music artist Dierks Bentley will close out Wednesday night at Bristol, headlining a concert immediately following the UNOH 200. CMT will record a portion of the concert and feature one of Bentley's top hits during a “Hot 20 Countdown” episode next month.

Edwards to Joe Gibbs Racing in 2015:

  • Edwards to Joe Gibbs Racing in 2015: Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) announced that Carl Edwards will join the organization in 2015 to compete full time in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. In addition, ARRIS Group, Inc. will sponsor Edwards in the #19 Toyota Camry for 17 races in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series with JGR expanding its operations to include a fourth team. "This is one of the biggest days in Joe Gibbs Racing's history," said Joe Gibbs, founder and owner of Joe Gibbs Racing. "To be able to bring a driver the caliber of Carl Edwards on board to launch our fourth team is just a thrill. But we also have the opportunity to announce a new partner in ARRIS that will not only sponsor Carl, but also share a vision with Carlos Slim Domit and Escuderia TELMEX to develop Mexican and Latin American drivers in NASCAR. We are excited to have Daniel Suarez as part of that program and look forward to watching his development in the NASCAR Nationwide Series next season."
    A Missouri native, Edwards is currently eighth in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series point standings with two wins, five top-five and nine top-10 finishes thus far this season. Over the course of his 11-year career, he has won a total of 23 races with 106 top-five and 182 top-10 finishes. In addition to his 23 Sprint Cup Series wins, he has also compiled 38 wins in the NASCAR Nationwide Series and won the championship in 2007. His highest finish in the Sprint Cup Series season was in 2011 when he was runner-up to Tony Stewart based on a tiebreaker.(Joe Gibbs Racing)
    AND from the NASCAR.com streamed press conference: Arris will debut on the #19 Toyota at Daytona in February. Joe Gibbs said the crew chief will be announced at a later date and mentioned most of the team will come from within Joe Gibbs Racing. Gibbs also said that sponsorship for most of the other 19 races that ARRIS will not be the primary sponsor have been sold and will be announced at a later date. Rumor is that Subway will move over to JGR with Edwards and that was the only sponsor allowed to leave Roush Fenway Racing with Edwards.(8-19-2014)

Would Gordon Leave On Top? Not A Chance


 Would Gordon Leave On Top? Not A Chance

By Reid Spencer
NASCAR Wire Service

At Daytona in February, Jeff Gordon hinted to reporters in a preseason question-and-answer session that he might consider leaving the driver’s seat of the No. 24 Chevrolet if he wins a fifth NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship this year.

After Gordon’s third victory of the season in Sunday’s Pure Michigan 400, a fifth championship is a distinct possibility.

But don’t expect Gordon to retire, even if he wins the title. He’s enjoying himself too much.

How much? Enough to take on sponsor 3M for three years on the No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet. The length of the deal for the new primary sponsor suggests Gordon will drive for at least three more years as he establishes an identity with the company.

Another strong hint that Gordon’s tenure will extend beyond a potential championship was the pairing of crew chief Greg Ives with Dale Earnhardt Jr., starting next year.

If Gordon’s departure were imminent, it would be logical to keep Ives with heir apparent Chase Elliott, with whom Ives has enjoyed success in the Nationwide Series at JR Motorsports.

And even if Gordon wins the championship this year, he’ll have another goal staring him straight in the face: teammate Jimmie Johnson’s six titles. Gordon helped bring Johnson into the Hendrick fold and, for the last 12 years, has all but ceded the role of “alpha” driver to his teammate.

As competitive as Gordon is, reclaiming the top of the pyramid is something he’d relish enormously.



NASCAR NUMBER
By Reid Spencer
26: The number of races between Jeff Gordon’s two most recent NASCAR Sprint Cup Series victories at Michigan International Speedway. Gordon took the checkered flag at MIS on June 10, 2001 in his last championship season. On Sunday, he won his third race at the two-mile track.
20: The number of NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races Jeff Gordon has won from the pole position, fifth most on the all-time list. Gordon claimed the Coors Light pole award for Sunday’s race at Michigan with a track-record speed of 206.558 mph and went on to take the checkered flag.
4: The number of consecutive NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Michigan International Speedway in which Joey Logano has both started from inside the top 10 and finished inside the top 10. Logano has two ninths, a third (Sunday) and a win from the pole at MIS since joining Team Penske in 2013.
3: The number of NASCAR Sprint Cup Series victories recorded at Bristol Motor Speedway by Matt Kenseth, the defending winner of the IRWIN Tools Night Race. Kenseth would like nothing better than to win for a fourth time at Thunder Valley on Saturday night, given that a victory would lock him into the Chase.
54: The number of laps led at Bristol Motor Speedway by Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup qualifier AJ Allmendinger, second only to the 152 laps Dinger has led at Dover. The driver of the No. 47 JTG/Daugherty Chevy followed his victory at Watkins Glen with a strong 13th-place run at Michigan on Sunday.

NASCAR NOTES

Last year, the Bristol winner’s list looked like this: Kasey Kahne in the spring, Matt Kenseth in the fall.  Kenseth’s lofty points position (he’s fifth) means he likely has a spot in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. But Kahne could use a win, badly. He’s currently outside the Chase Grid, nine points behind Greg Biffle for the 16th and final spot. … Michigan saw five more drivers clinch a spot in the 2014 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. With 12 different winners and only three races left in the regular season, all one-win drivers are guaranteed a spot on the 16-driver Chase Grid (assuming they start the remaining races in the regular season). Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin, Aric Almirola, AJ Allmendinger and Kurt Busch have all now locked up a spot. Only four spots remain. …  Sunoco rookie dynamo Kyle Larson suffered his first NASCAR national series last place finish on Sunday at Michigan, dropping him outside the current Chase Grid. But, there’s good news coming – immediately. Larson has finished in the top 10 in all four of his NASCAR national series races at Bristol, a slate that includes a 10th-place run in his NASCAR Sprint Cup Series debut there in March. He’s finished runner-up there twice in the NASCAR Nationwide Series.



Michigan International Speedway Test Helps Prepare Gen-6 Car for 2015

Michigan International Speedway Test Helps Prepare Gen-6 Car for 2015
NASCAR and Teams Test Various Setups to Refine 2015 Competition Package
 
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (August 18, 2014) – Just one day after Jeff Gordon grabbed the checkered flag in the Pure Michigan 400, NASCAR and teams were back testing on the two-mile Michigan International Speedway, gathering crucial data for the development of the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series rules package.

Six different configurations were evaluated throughout the test.

“Our main goal is to harvest data today to help refine the 2015 package,” said Gene Stefanyshyn, NASCAR vice president of innovation and racing development. “We are listening to our fans, they have said they like a lot of passing, side-by-side racing and lead changes. That is what we are aiming to accomplish with these tests.”

Throughout today’s test, focus was on aerodynamics and power optimization.

“We learned a lot today and were able to test a lot of our ideas,” Stefanyshyn said. “The race teams have shared their goals of having the new rules package in September, so that is one of the reasons we are here during the season at Michigan International Speedway working on our 2015 package.”

Ten teams were onsite throughout the day running through all six configurations.

“We are looking at all the different options today and I am glad we are doing it,” said Kasey Kahne, driver of the No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet. “It is neat that NASCAR has stepped up and is trying to find ways to improve.”

More than 160 laps were turned at Michigan by each team. Data will be taken back to the Research and Development Center in Concord, North Carolina to be analyzed and modeled as NASCAR finalizes its 2015 rules package for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.