Steven B. Wilson

Steven B. Wilson

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Ryan Reed found himself closing in on a top-five finish in NASCAR’s overtime Saturday afternoon, but his efforts were foiled by contact with one lap to go.  Reed had steadily advanced all day, but the contact sent him into the wall and ended his efforts one lap short of the finish.  Reed was scored 23rd in the No. 16 Lilly Diabetes Ford Mustang.

“It’s always frustrating when something like that happens,” said Reed after the late-race caution.  “We worked on our Lilly Ford all race and made a lot of gains at the end.  We’ll bounce back next weekend at Talladega.”

Reed started the race 17th and lost one lap to the leaders over the first 75-lap stage while battling a free handling Ford, closing out stage one 17th.  Over the stage break, Reed pitted for four tires, fuel and a track bar adjustment to help with forward drive.

Reed started stage two 17th and had the same handling woes.  A chassis adjustment under caution on lap 119 helped Reed gain one spot to close out stage two 16th.  Under caution between the stages Reed received four tires, fuel, track bar and wedge adjustments.  The big swing on handling set Reed up for the final stage.

As the laps went by in the closing stage, Reed continued to advance forward through the field.  Reed was scored 10th when the field took the green flag with five laps to go.  A quick caution set the field up for a green-white-checkered overtime finish.  Reed had a solid restart and was looking to make a move on seventh when he was clipped from behind.  The contact sent his No. 16 Ford spinning and heavily damaged the left side.  Reed limped his Ford to pit road and wasn’t able to cross the finish line, resulting in a 23rd-place finish.

RFR PR

Bubba Wallace, driver of the No. 6 Mello Yello Ford Mustang, took advantage of the final restart in Saturday afternoon’s NASCAR XFINITY Series race at Richmond International Raceway to earn a sixth-place finish. The result is Wallace’s sixth top-10 overall and his sixth sixth-place finish in the first eight races of the 2017 season.

“What a day,” said Wallace. “This sixth-place finish is not like our other ones. We definitely didn’t deserve it but our attitude is to never give up. I didn’t think we would get up to the top-10 but long runs helped us for sure. We just didn’t have that fire-off speed. Thanks to Mello Yello for coming on board and Ford. It isn’t Mello Yello’s debut, they have been in the sport longer than me, but a good debut on our car. We had Leidos for a sixth-place, Mello Yello for sixth-place and we have a great partner with Globe Life coming up for hopefully two sixth-place finishes or better. We will make the most of it.”

Wallace began the scheduled 250-Lap event from the 19th position and battled with a tight-handling Mello Yello Mustang for much of the first stage. Although not handling to his liking, Wallace improved five positions during the 75-Lap opening stage to take the green-checkered flag in 14th.

Stage 2 began with similar handling issues for the Roush Fenway Racing driver as the Mello Yello Mustang was too tight through the center of the corner and struggled to find forward drive on the exit of the corner. Despite the handling issues, Wallace maintained his top-15 track position throughout the stage and crossed the finish line at the completion of Stage 2 on Lap 150 in 14th.

Wallace took the restart for the third and final stage from the 12th position on Lap 164 but was shuffled back to 15th before the caution came out once again on Lap 181. The driver of the Mello Yello Mustang took the ensuing restart in 14th and took advantage of a long green flag run to drive into 10th before the yellow flag waved again on Lap 238. Crew chief Seth Barbour took advantage of this caution period to bring Wallace back to pit road for four fresh tires and a chassis adjustment.

Wallace returned to the track following the stop in ninth and wasted little time moving into seventh just prior to the caution coming back out following a Lap 244 restart. This caution set up NASCAR’s version of overtime.

Wallace took the green flag for overtime from seventh but quickly drove up to sixth before the caution flag waved once again after the race leaders took the white flag. In the end, Wallace took the checkered flag in the sixth position.

The result is Wallace’s sixth sixth-place finish of 2017 and ranks the Roush Fenway driver second in top-10 finishes among all drivers with six top-10s.

RFR PR

Ross Chastain finished 38th in Saturday’s ToyotaCare 250 Xfinity Series race at Richmond International Raceway.

The race was Chastain’s fifth in the series at RIR.

Chastain, who drove the Florida Watermelon Association Chevrolet, started 23rd in the race, which was extended to overtime by a six-car crash three laps from the scheduled finish.

“Not the day we hoped for here at Richmond,” Chastain said. “We’ll get back on track next time here.”

JDM PR

Garrett Smithley, who started from the back of the pack, advanced through the field to finish 29th in Saturday’s ToyotaCare 250 Xfinity Series race at Richmond International Raceway.

Smithley finished three laps off the lead pace.

“We had to come a long way from the back, and that made it tough,” Smithley said. “It proves how much starting close to the front can mean. Had a pretty good car for a tough track, though.”

Smithley is 21st in Xfinity driver points.

JDM PR

Harrison Rhodes survived a tough run at Richmond International Raceway to finish 24th in Saturday’s ToyotaCare 250 Xfinity Series race.

Rhodes started 29th and moved through the field steadily, but his progress was stalled near the end of the race when he was involved in a six-car crash, an accident that pushed the event into overtime.

The wreck caused a 2:43 red flag.

“We had a pretty good car then got pulled into that wreck late,” Rhodes said. “We should have had a better finish, but we got in some good laps and had a respectable run.”

Rhodes is 19th in Xfinity driver points.

JDM PR

Steve Wallace, the youngest son of nine-time Bristol Motor Speedway winner Rusty Wallace, was quickest in the first two Super Late Model practice sessions during the first of two open test days for the Inaugural Short Track U.S. Nationals, May 19-21.

Wallace posted a quick lap of 14.937 seconds at 120.506 mph in his Jettools.com Ford Fusion and then improved on that lap in the second session, clocking his quickest run of the day at 14.873 seconds, 121.025 mph.

The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series track record here is 14.573 seconds at 131.668 mph, set by Denny Hamlin in August 2016. The XFINITY Series qualifying record is 15.002 seconds at 127.903, set by Erik Jones, also in August ’16.

“That was on a race trim run,” Wallace said of his 14.873-second effort. “When we make a qualifying run it will be a lot quicker than that. I would expect it to be either 14.50s or 14.60s.”

Wallace has quite a bit of experience racing at Bristol He has competed here in the NASCAR XFINITY Series and won his first pole position in that series at BMS. He has also raced here in the NASCAR Truck Series.

“It feels cool to be back here,” Wallace said. “I haven’t been here in years. This place is a lot of fun. It brings back good memories and bad memories.”

Las Vegas racer Noah Gragson was the only other Super Late Model driver to dip into the 14-second zone, as he posted a time of 14.955 at 120.361 mph in the second session.

Trey Craig was quickest in Pro Late Model with a 15.161 second lap at 118.726 mph and Cole Williams was fastest in the second session at 15.352, 117.249 mph.

In Late Model Stock, Myatt Snider was third in both sessions, posting lap times of 15.901 and 16.064 seconds.

“It was pretty crazy,” said Snider, son of NBC Sports auto racing reporter Marty Snider. “There’s not many tracks like this. You’ve got Orange County Speedway in North Carolina, but it’s not quite as fast as this place. I went down in the corner the first time and it was kind of a shock at just how fast it really was.  It has a really good sensation of speed. Probably one of my favorite tracks I’ve been to. It’s a lot of fun.”

Snider said he got more comfortable the second time out.

“I was focused on getting the car right and getting a feel for how the track drives,” Snider said. “This track is really fast for a late model stock car because they don’t have quite as much power as the super late models. It’s a lot of fun. I was also trying to get a lot more comfortable with the track. The first couple of laps it was definitely a little squirrely out there, but the second time out you get a lot more comfortable.”

Jared Fryer posted the quickest lap in Late Model Stock’s second session at 15.775 seconds at 114.105 mph. Evan Swilling was quickest in the first session at 15.835 seconds, 113.672 mph.

Nearly 500 race cars split among six classes are expected to be in competition during the Short Track U.S. Nationals, including Super Late Model, Pro/Crate Late Model, Late Model Stock, Modified, Street Stock and Compact divisions. The five sanctioning bodies that will be represented are CRA (Super Late Models, Pro Late Models, Street Stock), CARS Tour (Super Late Models, Late Model Stock), Southern Super Series (Super Late Model), National Short Track Alliance (Modifieds), VORES Compact Touring Series (Compacts).

Tickets and pit passes for the Short Track U.S. Nationals start at $85 for a weekend grandstand seat/pit pass combo and $45 for a Saturday/Sunday grandstand GA combo. Kids 12-and-under are just $10 for a Saturday/Sunday grandstand GA combo. Individual pit passes also are available for ages 14-and-up. Please visit http://www.bristolmotorspeedway.com/tickets/us-short-track-nationals/ for more information on ticketing for the race.

BMS PR

The Schaeffer’s Oil Spring Nationals Series presented by Sunoco Race Fuels and Tennessee RV Supercenter fifth annual Scott Sexton Memorial headlined the racing program Friday night at Volunteer Speedway, and before a big home-state crowd Mike Marlar of Winfield captured the $10,052 victory in the event which honored a legendary East Tennessee racer.

With a stellar field of 34 Super Late Model drivers representing 12 states and Canada assembled at “The Gap” for the Scott Sexton Memorial, Ricky Weiss of Headingly, Manitoba, Canada was fastest qualifier in Group A and overall at 12.116 seconds. Shanon Buckingham of Morristown was quickest in Group B at 12.213 seconds.

Four heat races each transferred the top four finishers into the main event, with Marlar winning the first heat over Weiss, Dale McDowell and Brandon Sheppard. Jimmy Owens of Newport took the win in heat two over Eric Wells, Tim McCreadie and Skylar Marlar.

Michael Chilton, from Salvisa, Kentucky, earned the victory in the third heat over Buckingham, Tyler Erb and Vic Hill. Chris Madden of Gaffney, South Carolina, won the fourth heat over Donald McIntosh, Kyle Hardy and Joey Coulter.

Michael Page of Douglasville, Georgia, and Brian Shirley from Chatham, Illinois, each won last chance B-main races which determined the remainder of the starting field for the 52-lap feature.

With fans on their feet Chilton rocketed out into the lead at drop of the green flag over Marlar, Madden, Owens and Buckingham. Chilton quickly pulled out to right at a half-straightaway advantage over Marlar, Madden, Owens and Buckingham.

Behind the top five in the running order action was fast-and-furious involving Weiss, Wells, McIntosh, McDowell, Erb, McCreadie, Sheppard, Hardy, Hill, Coulter and Shirley.

Chilton caught tail of the field on lap 11 to work slower traffic at rear of the field, which allowed Marlar and Madden to close behind the leader. Marlar dove to inside of Chilton entering the first turn on lap 14, and as they raced off the second corner down the backstretch he grabbed the lead.

Smashing the loud pedal Marlar began to put some real estate between himself and those in pursuit, but the racing behind involving Chilton, Madden, Owens and Buckingham was close quarters. Madden got around Chilton for second place on lap 29 between turns three and four, but leader Marlar was almost a full-straightaway ahead.

With the race past the halfway distance, many in the crowd were thinking “could the race run caution-free?” Well, when you have many of the top dirt late model professional racers in the business on the track who regularly compete with the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series and World of Outlaws Late Model Series, you can expect good, hard-nosed racing but done so with respect to fellow competitors.

McIntosh worked his way past Buckingham for fifth on lap 34, which in turn opened the door for McDowell to also overtake Buckingham for position. Meanwhile, Owens was up-on-the-wheel trying to get around Chilton for the third spot, and he finally got the job done.

McDowell was coming, and coming with a purpose as he got by McIntosh for fifth place on lap 36 and then inside of 10 laps remaining he passed both Chilton and Owens to move into third. But with leader Marlar working lapped traffic to perfection, he never really missed a beat to allow Madden and McDowell to seriously close within striking distance as he rolled to the $10,052 Scott Sexton Memorial victory over Madden, McDowell, Owens and Chilton.

Completing the top 10 finishers were McIntosh, Buckingham, Wells, Hardy and Sheppard. The top 10 cars were on the lead lap at the checkered flag, as Marlar got around 11th-place finisher Weiss on the white flag lap.

Matt Henderson set fast-time at 13.226 seconds in Crate Late Model qualifying to earn the pole position for the $1,500-to-win feature. But with 30 cars packing the pits, only the top 14 drivers were locked into the 30-lap feature. Two heat races each transferred the top five finishers to determine the remaining starting spots in the strong 24-car field.

Jason Trammell of Knoxville powered into the lead on the opening lap over Henderson, Tim Maupin, Gary Crittenden and Jimmy Elliott.

Trammell was flexing his muscles out front in putting some distance between himself and closest challengers, but the action between Henderson, Maupin, Crittenden and Elliott was heated. Behind them the racing was intense as well with several drivers jockeyed for position including Ross White, Benji Hicks, Forrest Trent, Philip Thompson, Josh Henry and Jensen Ford.

With the race running clean-and-green from the start, White spun in the fourth turn on lap 14 while battling for sixth with Hicks to bring out the first caution.

Off the ensuing double-file restart, just behind leader Trammell both Henderson and Maupin got together at end of the front straightaway to almost wreck between turns one and two, stacking the field up and forcing several drivers into evasive maneuvers to avoid a big pileup. But before one lap was completed back under green, Maupin and Trent tangled exiting the fourth turn onto the front straightaway to see the caution quickly come back out.

Finally back under green, Trammell was out front in a zone all of his own while behind him the action was two- and three-wide back through the top 15 cars in the running order much to delight of the fans. Caution waved on lap 22 when Thompson spun and tagged the wall while battling for position, with Ford also pulling into the pits with the yellow out to end strong runs for both drivers.

Poised for a run to the checkers, Trammell once again pulled away from those in pursuit to impressively bring home a flag-to-flag victory over Elliott, Henderson, Crittenden and Hicks.

Completing the top 10 finishers were Maupin, Henry, Vic Chandler, Rusty Ballenger and Tim Byrd.

Jordon Horton, from New Tazewell, jumped out into the lead at start of the 25-lap Sportsman Late Model feature and never looked back en route to capturing his second win this season over Matt Tharp, Brad Seagle, Cody Smith and Andy Ogle.

Brad Davis of Tazewell outran defending Modified Street track champion Chris Rickett, Austin Atkins, Jeffrey Melton and Michael Woods to record his first win of the season.

Volunteer Speedway PR

On Friday, Venturini Motorsports (VMS) driver Zane Smith began his race weekend with a special appearance at Salem, Indiana’s City Hall. The seventeen year-old Smith is in town competing in Sunday’s ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards event at Salem Speedway.

Meeting with Salem’s Mayor along with members of the city’s Public Works department, the group discussed the importance of bringing Distracted Driving Awareness to the area in hopes of educating drivers and saving lives. Zane Smith, representing Musselman’s Apple Sauce and People Against Distracted Driving (PADD®) presented the city with street signage to serve as a community reminder to the importance of safe driving.

“The City of Salem is proud to get behind this important and timely initiative,” said Troy Merry, Mayor of Salem, Indiana. “Take notice the next time you’re driving - It’s almost impossible not to spot someone texting and driving behind the wheel. This is a major safety concern not only to our city but for all cities across America. Our efforts to raise distracted driving awareness will initially be focused in and around school zones throughout our community. Targeting these areas will deliver a repetitive message to future drivers (children) and a friendly reminder to the parents who have the ultimate responsibility behind the wheel.”

Earlier this year Musselman’s Apple Sauce and Venturini Motorsports (VMS) announced a partnership with safety advocate and charitable organization, ‘The Nikki Kellenyi Foundation - People Against Distracted Driving’ (PADD®) in effort to launch a multi-tiered, nationwide distracted driving awareness campaign.

The group has joined forces to unveil a year-long distracted driving educational campaign designed to create attention to this modern day epidemic. Using government, community involvement, social media, and the national reach of professional motorsports, the group’s combined efforts will target all demographic ages, but mostly adolescence, to promote safe and responsible driving.

PADD®, a nationally recognized non-profit organization, is one of the country’s leading authorities on distracted driving awareness advocacy providing education and support to thousands of families affected by injury or death as result of automobile accidents caused by distracted drivers. PADD®’s primary objective is to raise public awareness, offer 24/7 support to victims of inattentive driving and to influence legislation regarding distracted driving reform.

VMS PR

Another Friday, another front-row qualifying effort for Ryan Blaney and the Motorcraft/Quick Lane team.

Blaney’s outside pole at Richmond International Raceway on Friday was his second in the past three races, including a rained-out qualifying session at Bristol where he started sixth. It also was his third outside pole in his last six attempts, including second-place efforts at Phoenix and Texas.
 
It’s the best Richmond qualifying effort for the Wood Brothers team since the late NASCAR Hall of Famer Joe Weatherly started on the outside pole there in the fall of 1960. Team owner Glen Wood also started second at Richmond in the fall of 1959.
 
Just as they have nearly every weekend this season, crew chief Jeremy Bullins and the Motorcraft/Quick Lane crew have unloaded fast Ford Fusions for the start of practice. Richmond was no different as Blaney was third fastest in Friday’s opening practice with a best lap at 122.772 miles per hour.
 
Then in knock-out qualifying, he was 19th in the first round with a lap at 119.290 mph, ninth in the second round with a a speed of 120.064 mph and second in the run for the pole with a lap at 120.854 mph.
 
“It was a good effort,” Blaney said in his post-qualifying media session. “I didn’t think we were very good in Round One… We got better for Round Two and obviously better for Round Three.”
 
Blaney said the gains in speed and positions as the qualifying session progressed are a sign of improvement for him, Bullins and the Motorcraft/Quick Lane crew in their second full year together.
 
“That is something our team has done really well this year, improving from round to round,” he said. “That is an area where we struggled last year. We would always kind of go backwards from round to round last year, and this year it is kind of opposite which is a lot better.
 
“That is just communicating what we need on the car and talking about where the track goes. That has been a positive this year and something we worked on in the off-season.”
 
It’s also a sign of a significant turn-around at Richmond, which confounded Blaney and his team last year.
 
“I thought this was our worst race track last year,” he said. “Both races went really bad for us, and I know it is early in the weekend but I feel we have turned it around a lot from what it was here last year.
 
“That is a positive to look at.”
 
It’s also kind of like the icing on the cake, he said.
 
“It is fun regardless to be with the Wood Brothers, but when you are fast it makes it a little extra,” he said. “I think we are right on pace to where we need to be and getting better every single week.
 
“It is all about keeping on going so that you never really settle. I don’t think we are that way, and I think that is what makes this team really good.”

WBR PR