Steven B. Wilson
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Gaither Vocal Band and Medal of Honor Recipient to Headline Patriotic Prerace Ceremonies for First Data 50023 Oct 2017
The Gospel Music Association’s 2017 Dove Award winners for Southern Gospel Vocal Group of the year, the Gaither Vocal Group, will perform the National Anthem as part of the prerace festivities at Martinsville Speedway before Sunday’s First Data 500.
Founded by legendary gospel songwriter and producer, Bill Gaither, this Grammy-winning vocal group has performed in the world’s most prestigious venues, including the Sydney Opera House, The Kennedy Center, and Carnegie Hall, however the trip to Martinsville Speedway will mark a first four the group.
"This is the first opportunity that the Gaither Vocal Band has had to sing at a NASCAR event and we cannot contain our excitement,” Bill Gaither said. “It will be major for us. Thanks to Clay Campbell and Martinsville Speedway for the invitation. We are looking forward to the 29th"
In addition to the Gaither Vocal Group, Medal of Honor Recipient Col. Jack Jacobs will serve as the Honorary Starter and will wave the Green Flag to start the race. Jacobs was awarded the military’s highest honor for actions in Vietnam.
“The prerace ceremonies are such an important part of our race and we are really excited to have the Gaither Vocal Group and Col. Jacobs play such large roles,” Martinsville Speedway President Clay Campbell said. “First Data is a company that puts our nation and our military first and we are excited to have a prerace that will make our fans proud to be Americans.”
Frank Bisignano, the Chairman and CEO of First Data, will serve as the Grand Marshal for the First Data 500 and will give the command to fire the engines, while the Virginia Military Institute Color Guard will present the nations colors.
The Bandit Flight Team will provide a flyover for both Saturday’s Texas Roadhouse 200 presented by Alpha Energy Solutions and Sunday’s First Data 500.
As announced previously, Amy Earnhardt, the wife of Dale Earnhardt Jr., will serve as the Honorary Pace Car driver.
The First Data 500 is the first race in the Round of 8 of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs. If the winning driver is in the Playoffs, he or she would be the first to clinch a spot in the Championship race at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Last fall, Johnson won his ninth grandfather clock, on the way to winning his record-tying seventh NASCAR Cup Series championship.
As part of the on-site entertainment during First Data 500 weekend Martinsville Speedway will host FanFest on Saturday, October 28 from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., featuring eight Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series drivers. FanFest is a free event giving fans an up-close look at some of the sport’s biggest stars, off the track. There will be special accommodations made for youth in attendance at the event so that they may experience FanFest front and center.
Tickets for the First Data 500 start at $55 and are on sale now. Youth tickets are available starting at $15, with teen pricing available starting at $25. Family four packs start at $110 and military specials are available, as well. Tickets may be purchased by calling 877.RACE.TIX or online at www.martinsvillespeedway.com.
Martinsville Speedway PR
Leavine Family Racing (LFR) and Michael McDowell earned their 14th Top-20 finish of the 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS) season at Kansas Speedway.
The team earned their best finish at the 1.5-mile track earlier this year with a 13th place finish and went into this weekend expecting nothing less.
With a solid practice on Friday, the team breezed through the first round of qualifying and earned their best qualifying effort to start the Hollywood Casino 400 from the 16th position.
The No. 95 Tommy Williams Drywall (TWD) Chevrolet SS started out extremely tight, but McDowell was able to free it up after 15 laps. He dropped back to 19th before the competition caution came out on lap 30.
When the field returned to green, McDowell dropped back a few more positions, as the No. 95 still felt too tight. He was able to pit under caution on lap 47 to free the car up and restarted 22nd on lap 52.
With three laps remaining in the stage, a caution came out and McDowell was hit hard from behind. Fortunately, no major damage was acquired and he went on to finish the stage in 21st.
After starting the second stage in 22nd, McDowell still complained of a tight-handling car, and made his first green flag pit stop on lap 143. The next caution flag fell with four laps remaining in the stage. McDowell pitted for four tires in order to stay out at the end of the stage and hopefully gain positions.
McDowell started the final stage in 28th and one lap down before a caution came out on lap 174 giving him the free pass and allowing him to restart in 24th.
Another caution flag fell on lap 198 for a wreck, and McDowell acquired damage to the left front of the No. 95 TWD Chevy. Fortunately, the team was able to fix a large hole in the nose. McDowell restarted 13th after the wreck and made it as far as 11th.
The team was able to make one last pit stop on lap 239 in order to put on the last set of tires and went on to finish the race in 18th, earning their 14th Top-20 finish of the 2017 MENCS season.
”That was a hard fought race,” said McDowell. “I felt like we didn’t have a ton of speed, but we were still able to stay in the Top-20 for the majority of the race. We got a good amount of damage during the big wreck at the end there, but our guys were able to get it patched up and we were able to salvage a Top-20.”
A memorial service for Jim Watson, the Furniture Row Racing crew member who passed away Oct. 21 in the Kansas City area, has been scheduled for Fri., Oct. 27 at Warlick Funeral Home in Lincolnton, N.C.
The family will receive friends of the man many affectionately knew as “Wildman” from 4-6 p.m. Warlick Funeral Home is located at 125 Dave Warlick Drive in Lincolnton, N.C.
Watson was born Sept. 27, 1962, in Kenosha, Wis., to Betty Paulus Watson and the late David Harrison Watson. He is survived by his wife, Laurie Ann Watson; a daughter, Brittany May Watson; his mother, Betty L. Watson; brother, Mike Watson; stepchildren, Eric James Conover and fiancé Claudia Rodriguez, and Matthew Sean Conover; Michael Patrick Conover, and wife Michele, and Nicholas Ian Conover; three grandchildren, Patrick Michael Conover, Michael Winston Conover, and Coleton Daniel Conover; nieces, Jennifer Watson and Katie J. Ballou; and many other uncles, aunts, cousins, and friends.
In lieu of flowers, the family has asked that memorials may be made to hatsalive.org in memory of Jim.
Longtime Indianapolis 500 car entrant Rolla Vollstedt, who is perhaps best remembered for bringing Janet Guthrie to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 1976 as the first female to be entered for the Indianapolis 500, passed away Sunday, Oct. 22 in Portland, Oregon. He was 99.
Passionate, articulate, outspoken and persuasive, Vollstedt was a high-profile member of the board of directors for the United States Auto Club who served as USAC's car entrant representative from the late 1960s until the 1980s.
Although he had fielded a National Championship car (now IndyCar) in some late-season dirt track events with driver Len Sutton in 1955 and 1956, it was not until the summer of 1963 that Vollstedt first brought a car to Indianapolis. This was one of the very first American-built rear-engine cars to house a normally aspirated Offenhauser engine, and with Sutton driving in summer tire tests, it kept exceeding the official track record, eventually flirting with an unofficial 155-mph run in March 1964.
Sutton qualified the car for the 1964 "500" and was running fourth when a magneto failed after 140 laps.
After a dozen years of fielding drivers like Billy Foster, Cale Yarborough, Dick Simon, Tom Bigelow, Arnie Knepper, Larry Dickson, Denny Zimmerman and others, Vollstedt made headlines in 1976 by providing a car for Guthrie.
Plagued by mechanical issues, the team was forced to withdraw the car without Guthrie having an opportunity to make a qualifying attempt. But the following year, she was back, qualifying on the fourth and final day with the 18th fastest speed overall and the fastest of the entire final weekend.
Guthrie managed only 27 laps of the race before a timing gear broke, but history was made.
Vollstedt often was the first to file an entry for an upcoming "500," and invariably, a car of his was the first to take a "shakedown" lap once the track had been opened for practice at the beginning of May. He learned these most effective publicity-grabbing "stunts" from the very colorful Bryant Heating and Cooling dealer, Phil Hedback, with whom he was often associated, and in turn, Vollstedt passed them on to another longtime partner, Dick Simon.
While Vollstedt's under-financed cars were never among the fastest qualifiers or in the winner's circle at Indianapolis or in other championship events, they occasionally had a good run. Perhaps the one that delights trivia buffs the most is that a Vollstedt entry did once actually qualify second. The venue was Riverside, California, and the occasion was the 300-mile road race which closed the 1967 USAC season. The car ran second for the first 23 laps behind Dan Gurney, who went on to win, and it passed Gurney for the lead for a single lap before breaking a valve.
The driver on that day -- believe it or not -- was 1965 Indianapolis 500 winner and two-time Formula One World Champion Jim Clark.
Vollstedt was one of the great characters of the Speedway and a mentor to countless mechanics and engineers over the years, including Grant King, Hal Sperb and numerous others. He also came across as a pure enthusiast who, even when he wasn't an official entrant, always seemed to be aligned with a team in some sort of advisory capacity, official or unofficial.
Faith Motorsports (FMS) announced today that North Texas native Ted Minor will pilot the #44 SMD Chevrolet Silverado in the Camping World Truck Series race at Texas Motor Speedway on November 3rd. Shawn Magee Design (SMD), a North Canton, Ohio design firm and official graphics partner of Faith Motorsports, will serve as the primary sponsor in the JAGS Metals/Driving Hurricane Harvey Relief 350 in Fort Worth,Texas.texas motor speedway
“I’m excited for the opportunity to drive the #44 SMD Silverado in my home state of Texas,” said Minor.
This will mark Minor’s third start in the 2017 Camping World Truck Series season but his first start driving for Faith Motorsports.
Ted started his racing career on Texas dirt tracks and has progressed to racing nationwide on asphalt tracks in the ARCA, USST series, super late models and the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. In his 16th season as a NASCAR driver, Ted brings veteran experience combined with a youthful drive to succeed.
The #44 SMD Chevrolet Silverado will also feature a special tribute graphic on the deck lid honoring all 58 people who lost their lives in the tragic shootings at the Route 91 Harvest Festival in Las Vegas on October 1st.
“Our thoughts and prays go out to all of the families who lost loved ones during this tragic event in Las Vegas,” said Shane Lamb, owner of Faith Motorsports. “We wanted to honor the lives of those taken so senselessly and show love and support to those still grieving.”
The Texas race marks the 3rd appearance as primary sponsor for SMD. The last time SMD raced as a primary sponsor was back in 2016 at Kentucky Speedway in the #74 Chevrolet Silverado of NASCAR veteran driver, Mike Harmon.
“I love seeing the SMD brand being broadcasted on a national stage like the Camping World Truck Series,” said Shawn Magee, Owner of Shawn Magee Design. “NASCAR has always been a passion of mine. I am grateful for my partnership with Faith Motorsports which has allowed me to pursue those passions. I look forward to what 2018 has in store for SMD & Faith Motorsports.”
Faith Motorsports owns and operates a 2 truck team (#44 & #62). Through a partnership with Martin’s Motorsports, the #44 is piloted by fellow Texas native, Austin Wayne Self for most of the 2017 season.
Faith Motorsports PR
Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series rookie and 2016 NASCAR XFINITY Series Champion Daniel Suárez is scheduled to appear at ROLL-BAR for a moderated question and answer session before the Can-Am 500 on Sunday, Nov. 12 at 9 a.m.
The first Mexican-born driver to win a NASCAR national series race, Suárez is a rising star in the sport and a contender for the 2017 Rookie of the Year after replacing Carl Edwards behind the helm of the No. 19 ARRIS Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing.
He spent the past two seasons racing to the top of the ranks in the NASCAR XFINITY Series, including three top-five and three top-10 finishes at his self-proclaimed hometown track in Phoenix, before earning the title of 2016 NASCAR XFINITY Series champion.
Suárez became a Phoenix-favorite after earning his first win in the Valley in 2014 the NASCAR Mexico Series Toyota 120 in 2014. He solidified his Phoenix reputation last fall earning his first NASCAR Camping World Truck Series win in the Lucas Oil 150, which he followed up with a legendary Mannequin Challenge in Gatorade Victory Lane.
ROLL-BAR, located on the west side of the track behind the Bobby Allison grandstands, features the best in live entertainment each day throughout the entire Can-Am 500 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race weekend at Phoenix Raceway, as well as appearances by some of NASCAR’s top personalities.
Single-day tickets to ROLL-BAR are available for $129 on Saturday, Nov. 11. Single day ROLL-BAR passes for Sunday, Nov. 12 are sold out. Limited two-day packages are available for $298, and include passes to ROLL-BAR for both Saturday and Sunday. The additional purchase of a grandstand ticket is still required for track admission.
Tickets to all events throughout the Can-Am 500 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series weekend at Phoenix Raceway are available online, by phone at 1-866-408-RACE (7223) or in person at the Phoenix Raceway ticket office.