Monster Energy Cup Series News (17340)
The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) schedule’s versatility is evident now more than ever. On the heels of Michigan International Speedway, race teams quickly turned things around in preparation for the Toyota/Save Mart 350 at the 1.99-mile Infineon Raceway road course. Trucks were loaded and sent out early Tuesday morning to make the trip to the west coast.
For JTG Daugherty Racing, this will be their first road course with Bobby Labonte. The 2000 champion is hunting for his first road course victory in the No. 47 Clorox Toyota Camry to add to the 21 wins he owns.
“Infineon Raceway is a neat track and the area is really nice,” Labonte said. “This weekend will be good for our team because it is an equalizer for our aero package - - the lack of aero that we have been missing out on for some reason or another this season. Aerodynamics is not as important there.”
What is important is being mentally prepared because the track is physically demanding according to Labonte.
“Infineon definitely is a track that tests your body and your mind,” Labonte said. “It takes everything you have in you to complete the race without getting off track - - which is a struggle for some. There are a lot of things that can happen and strategy plays a big role. It’s a great skill-set type of track where you’ve got to have everything together and the driver’s got to be doing things different than what he is used to.”
Going to a road course is a nice change from the norm for the JTG Daugherty Racing team.
“We’ve had our challenges at tracks where aero comes into play,” Labonte said. “Our performance hasn’t been great. We have to learn how to capitalize on a respectable run and when we have a 20th place car, not finish 25th with it. You look back at some of the races. We were going to finish 11th at Darlington Raceway. All we had to do is finish and we got wrecked with a half of a lap to go. We could have stayed out at Dover (International Speedway) like Mark Martin did. We may have not finished second or third, but we would have finished eighth or ninth. We haven’t been able to capitalize on some of that. We’ve surrendered a ton of points on small things. We have noticed areas that need improvement and we are addressing the issues to make it better. ”
Finding the right balance is a fine line in this sport.
“The sport has changed quite a bit,” Labonte said. “The technology is one of the biggest changes. When they say you can’t test, people are still trying to find a tenth of a second to make their cars as fast as they can. The sport changes all the time and you have to adapt to it. You have to think further out and you can’t race to week. You have to figure out how to make your car tight enough where it is not sideways, but keep it free enough to be fast. You are always on a fine line and it is a finer line than ever. You’ve got to find that balance and keep it going. “
“It’s on the razor blade edge,” Labonte continued. “You see it week in and week out with different teams and finding that right balance. You look at a guy’s times on Saturday afternoon, and you say well he’s going to lap the field. When Sunday rolls around they are not even close and they don’t change anything. You learn from that as you go. We are so dependent on aero. We are talking thousandths of an inch, it’s a big deal.”
Labonte has two top-five and five top-10 finishes at Sonoma and has a positive attitude going into this weekend.
“We have a great group and Tad (Geschickter) is a great car owner,” Labonte said. “Sure, there are things we have to work on to be better. Everyone is giving 100% and we are positive about what we are doing. Racing is about teamwork. We accept our results and we work hard to make them better. Finding a balance is where it’s at and doing some of the right things too and having a little luck to go along with it.”
A little luck is what the team needed last year and it ran out in the end. Sonoma is the site where JTG Daugherty Racing’s first NSCS win got away from former driver Marcos Ambrose, who was arguably the class of the field last season. Cutting his engine off to conserve fuel under caution in front of the field, his machine stalled and he was not able to maintain speed allowing Jimmie Johnson and others to pass by. Johnson won and the Australian driver finished sixth.
“It was a tough day for us as a team,” Kerr said. “I’ve learned from it. I know we all have. We put it behind us. We are looking forward to going back there with Bobby.”
Before Labonte arrives at Infineon Raceway, he will be signing autographs on Thursday for fans at Lucky located at 2355 California Boulevard, Napa, CA 94559-1063 from 3 to 4 p.m. Pacific.
JTG Daughtery Racing PR
Sunday's Sprint Cup race at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, Calif. will be Regan Smith's third career start at the 10-turn, 1.99-mile road circuit, and his fifth overall on a road course.
Though he enjoys driving up and down hills and hustling through curves making left-and-right-hand turns, he knows that more experience is necessary before he feels totally comfortable on a road course.
"I like the road course races, but I am not sure if the road circuits like me," said a candid Smith, driver of the No. 78 Furniture Row Chevrolet. "The Sonoma race will be my fifth career start on a road course and I haven't had that much success so far. But I know that will change, it's a matter of getting more experience."
Smith enters the Toyota/Save Mart 350k with more optimism than he has had in past years. The reason is due to a recent test session at the Virginia International Raceway (VIR) road course.
"We tested the Furniture Row Chevrolet at VIR last week and were really pleased with the results," noted Smith. "Now we have to transfer what we learned to this weekend's race at Infineon Raceway. When you race on ovals nearly every week, this is a nice change of pace to make both left-and-right-hand turns. "
Smith, who is enjoying his best season as a professional stock car driver, is looking to check off a strong road course result. He's already checked off this season his first Cup win (May 7, Darlington, S.C.), first top-10 (7th in Daytona 500), first outside pole (Richmond) and first All-Star Race berth.
"Our expectations might not be high this weekend, but I am hoping for a road course breakthrough at the same time," explained Smith. "As the old cliche goes, I am cautiously optimistic. I really want to improve on the road circuits. Our next road race at Watkins Glen (central New York) is the closest track to where I grew up in Cato, New York and you always want to do well for your hometown fans and family."
In his previous two starts at Infineon Raceway, Smith finished 30th (2007) and 38th last year.
Smith is coming off a heartbreaking result in last week's Sprint Cup race at Michigan International Speedway.
On the final restart with five laps remaining, Smith was holding down 11th place. But as drivers were jockeying for positions during the closing laps, Smith made contact with another car, which resulted in a cut tire. He limped to the checkered flag with a 33rd-place finish.
"That ending in Michigan hurt," said Smith. "That's why a solid performance this weekend is important. We want to have some momentum going into Daytona next week."
Furniture Row Racing PR
NASCAR’s eight-time most popular driver and the sport’s preeminent track – it is a combination that always makes for a spectacular race weekend at Bristol Motor Speedway.
AMP Energy/National Guard driver Dale Earnhardt Jr., certainly will amp up the crowd at the World’s Fastest Half-Mile Saturday night, Aug. 27 as he vies for the coveted IRWIN Tools Night Race trophy.
Prior to him hitting the concrete for the IRWIN Tools Night Race, fans have the opportunity to be in the audience when Earnhardt Jr., a former winner of the Saturday night race at BMS, is scheduled to make an appearance in the hospitality area at the Amp Energy Club that afternoon.
The Amp Energy Club features an exclusive member’s-only gift pack, a Saturday track tour, door prizes, entertainment, a souvenir program, and NASCAR celebrity appearances.
Individual hospitality seating in the Amp Energy Club is available for the Food City 250 on Friday, Aug. 20, the IRWIN Tools Night Race or in a weekend package. A weekend package is $270 per person. Saturday only is $180 and Friday only is $110.
To purchase Amp Energy Club individual hospitality, please call Amy Denton at (423) 989-6930.
Bristol Motor Speedway PR
Dover International Speedway officials announced today that the Monster Mile will return to its traditional spring NASCAR race dates at the track, June 1-3, 2012. The fall race weekend will be held on Sept. 28-30, 2012, and will again be part of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.
Also keeping with the tradition of being the best value in motorsports, Dover International Speedway plans to unveil a new pricing strategy in the coming weeks for its 2012 events that will offer race fans a level of value not seen at the Monster Mile in more than a decade.
The spring weekend will feature the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, NASCAR Nationwide Series and NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, while the fall weekend will carry the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East, NASCAR Nationwide Series and NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.
“Fans have been asking for a return to our June date, and we appreciate NASCAR’s help to meet their requests,” said Denis McGlynn, president and CEO of Dover Motorsports, Inc. “We’re also excited about offering new and lower ticket price options for our loyal fans next year.”
Tickets for the June 1-3, 2012 race weekend will go on sale to the public on July 5, 2011. Returning fans have the opportunity to renew their same seats for the spring 2012 race weekend.
NASCAR returns to the Monster Mile Sept. 30-Oct. 2, 2011 for the K&N Pro Series East race, the “OneMain Financial 200” NASCAR Nationwide race and the “AAA 400” NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race. For more information or to purchase tickets, call 800-441-RACE or visit DoverSpeedway.com.
Dover Motorsports PR
Rick Ware Racing (RWR) is proud to announce that 2009 Trans Am Series Champion, and Rolex Grand Am Series and American Le Mans Series driver, Tomy Drissi has joined their organization. Tomy Drissi’s arrival marks the beginning of the newly formed alignment with Sprint Cup Series team, Max Q Motorsports #37 for RWR at the upcoming road course events and possibly some premier oval track dates as well.
Drissi will drive the #37 RWR-Rise of the Planet of the Apes Ford at Infineon Raceway this weekend for the organization and then race in the NASCAR Nationwide Series at Watkins Glen and Montreal later this season as well as the 50th running of the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona road race that strangely he has wanted to race his entire career but never given the opportunity until now.
“Having Tomy Drissi in our camp marks exciting times for RWR,” stated Rick Ware. “I have watched Tomy race his entire careerand to have him race for us and our alignment with Max Q Motorsports will provide another avenue for our marketing partners here at RWR.”
Rick Ware Racing PR
Infineon Raceway received a special delivery on Tuesday, thanks to the United States Coast Guard Air Station San Francisco, "Guardians of the Golden Gate."
The Coast Guard arranged for safe delivery of the winner's trophy for this weekend's Toyota/Save Mart 350 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race. A Coast Guard MH65C Dolphin helicopter, departing from Coast Guard Air Station San Francisco, landed on the road course on Turn 11 with the trophy safely stored.
From there, two raceway handlers, dressed in black suits and wearing white gloves, secured the trophy and stored it in a safe place until Sunday's race.
The crewmen who hand-carried the trophy from the MH65C Dolphin were Chief Petty Officer Trevin Dabney and Second Class Petty Officer John Fisher. The pilots of the aircraft were Lieutenant Christian Polyak and Lieutenant Ryan Hawn.
"We often fly rescue missions to inland locations and need to practice landings at unusual places, so learning the approaches and landing here is just another layer of training and good experience for the crew," said LT Hawn. "Showing the public how we operate also supports our recruiting efforts, so we appreciate the opportunity to fly in and safely deliver the trophy to the fans, race crews, and drivers."
The Coast Guard will return on Sunday as part of the ceremonial fly-by moments before the green flag is dropped on the Toyota/Save Mart 350.
Matt Kenseth, by his own admission, rarely qualifies well. But an unlikely starting position of third combined with a typically strong race car earned Kenseth and the No. 17 team a solid second-place finish in Sunday’s Heluva Good! Sour Cream Dips 400 at Michigan International Speedway. Adding to the list of accolades, the team also took home a pair of contingency awards.
Kenseth, who led the charge for Roush Fenway Racing by putting the No. 17 Crown Royal Ford Fusion third in qualifying with a lap of 188.620 mph, led three times for 17 laps. Thanks to a late-race caution, a hard-charging Kenseth was able to close on eventual race-winner Denny Hamlin over the final five laps. After getting loose while attempting a last-lap pass for the race win, Kenseth hung on to cross the finish line just .281 seconds behind Hamlin.
“Every race is important to me, but if you can do good, it is probably extra special for Jack [Roush] and Ford and those people around here and headquartered here,” said Kenseth. “When you come to a track you feel like maybe is one of your better tracks, you want to take advantage of that at your good places. You want to try to perform when you can.”
For his efforts behind-the-wheel, Kenseth earned his third American Ethanol Green Flag Restart of the Race Award this year which goes to the eligible driver that records that fastest average speed on restarts and finishes the race on the lead lap. Kenseth’s crew chief, Jimmy Fennig, also captured his second DIRECTV Drew Chief of the Race Award given weekly to the crew chief of the driver who has demonstrated the best qualifying and race effort based on starting and finishing positions during the weekend.
The awards are part of the NASCAR Prize Money and Decal Program, also referred to as the contingency program, which provides teams prize money and weekly awards based on performance in several categories.
Kenseth moved up from seventh to sixth in the current NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Chase standings and now trails teammate and points-leader Carl Edwards by 41 heading into Sunday’s Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Infineon Raceway (3 p.m. ET, TNT).
Official winners of this week’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Prize Money & Decal Program special awards include:
v AMERICAN ETHANOL GREEN FLAG RESTART: Matt Kenseth
v COORS LIGHT POLE AWARD: Kurt Busch (188.699 mph. 38.156 secs.)
v DIRECTV CREW CHIEF OF THE RACE AWARD: Jimmy Fennig (crew chief for Matt Kenseth)
v GOODYEAR GATORBACK BELTS FASTEST LAP AWARD: Greg Biffle (183.575 mph, Lap 13)
v MAHLE CLEVITE ENGINE BUILDER OF THE RACE AWARD: Mark Cronquist, JGR, No. 11
v MOBIL 1 OIL DRIVER OF THE RACE AWARD: Ryan Newman
v MOOG CHASSIS PARTS PROBLEM SOLVER OF THE RACE AWARD: Bob Osborne, 0.101 secs (crew chief for Carl Edwards)
v O’REILLY AUTO PARTS POSITION IMPROVEMENT AWARD: Kyle Busch (21 places)
v SUNOCO ROOKIE OF THE YEAR AWARD: Andy Lally
Ryan Newman took a stroll through the rich history of racing at the International Speedway Corporation’s Archives and then put his formal education to the test by participating in “Is Ryan Newman Smarter than a Grade School Student?” with approximately 250 Volusia Country elementary students as part of Coke Zero 400 Media Day.
Newman, driver of the No. 39 U.S. Army Chevrolet for Stewart Haas Racing and 2008 Daytona 500 champion, kicked off his Coke Zero 400 Media Day activities by visiting the ISC Archives – a treasure chest of racing artifacts and memorabilia.
“It’s neat to see the history,” Newman said. “Seeing some of the special things . . . the different trophies, the different flags, the significance of Daytona in the world of racing, it’s really special.”
Newman has his own dedicated place in that history at the ISC Archives, a unique display of memorabilia from the historic 50th running of the Daytona 500, which he won in 2008 for Penske Racing.
“I’ve always had an appreciation for the history of motorsports in general,” Newman said. “I’ve always been a fan of stock cars. Getting that opportunity to win the Daytona 500 was really special. It being the 50th running was even more special and having my dad spot for me.”
Following his visit to the Archives, Newman stopped by the ISC Contact Center and visited with employees. He even took some ticket orders over the phone to the surprise of a few lucky race fans.
In the afternoon, students from five different Volusia County elementary schools – Indian River, Pine Trail, Port Orange, Spruce Creek and Sugar Mill – were in attendance for the trivia game show “Is Ryan Newman Smarter than a Grade School Student?”
Newman, who graduated from Purdue University with a B.S. degree in Vehicle Structural Engineering, answered 10 first-round questions on a variety of topics such as Science, Math, Social Studies, English and Geography. For every question Newman answered correctly, DIS donated $100 to Volusia County Schools.
Newman also correctly answered the “bonus round” question and earned a special prize for every student in attendance – a ticket to the Coke Zero 400 on Saturday, July 2.
“The Coke Zero 400 is a family-friendly environment,” Newman said. “We want the kids to come out and enjoy the time with their parents. I think a lot of these kids will get that opportunity. It’s fun to have interaction with them even when it’s their off-season in the summer. It was a lot of fun.”
No matter the result of Sunday's Toyota/Save Mart 350, this will be a memorable weekend for five-time Infineon Raceway winner Jeff Gorvette. Er, Jeff Gordon.
Gordon, a native of Vallejo, Calif., has a busy weekend planned. On Friday, he will practice and qualify the No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet at Infineon while also traveling the world as Jeff Gorvette -- assisting buddies Lightning McQueen and Mater -- in Disney- Pixar's new release Cars2.
On Saturday after practice, Gordon and family will celebrate daughter Ella's birthday (she turned four years old on June 20). On Sunday, the all-time leader in NASCAR Sprint Cup Series road course victories will attempt to reach double-digit wins at Infineon and Watkins Glen International combined.
"There's no doubt this is probably my favorite weekend of racing, regardless of what happens on the track," said Gordon. "It's just a magical time for me with my daughter's birthday party, seeing my biological father and other family members, and seeing friends I went to elementary school with and raced with out here.
"It's just a special weekend and it puts me in an incredibly positive frame of mind going into the race on Sunday."
Along with five wins here, Gordon has five poles, 11 top-fives and 14 top-10's in 18 starts. He has led 437 laps, which is 276 more laps than the nearest active competitor, Mark Martin. To put that in perspective, Martin could lead wire-to-wire in the next two events here and he would still trail Gordon by 56 laps in that category.
But the four-time NASCAR Cup Series champion has not led a lap here in four years, and the No. 24 team has worked hard to correct that.
"We've struggled on the road courses recently, and that's not something we're accustomed to," said Gordon, who is 12th in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series point standings. "It's not something we like, so we tested at Mid-Ohio and have been working really hard to make improvements.
"I'm hoping that test will get us closer to being more competitive this weekend.
"This is a very challenging track. On a road course, you typically want to attack the braking zones. Here, with the elevation changes and the off-cambered corners, you have to be very careful not to over-attack or drive too hard.
"Hopefully we find the right balance with speed this weekend."
But before Gordon battles the NASCAR Sprint Cup regulars in northern California on Sunday, Gorvette will race into theaters beginning Friday.
"My role is fairly small," said Gorvette. "Lightning McQueen and Mater and some of his buddies are in the movie, and I'm one of their new buddies. It's an international spy thriller, so they go all over the world.
"It was a blast."
A blast -- like every race weekend at Infineon for Gordon.
Performance Plus/Jeff Gordon PR
With the stroke of a pen today at Charlotte Motor Speedway, North Carolina Governor Beverly Perdue signed Senate Bill 322 into law, making stock car racing the official state sport and adding to the legacy of fabulous firsts at the historic 1.5-mile superspeedway.
Perdue was joined by a host of special guests on hand to watch the bill signing ceremony, including Marcus Smith, president and general manager of Charlotte Motor Speedway; NASCAR Hall of Famers Ned Jarrett and Bobby Allison; NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver David Ragan; and a group of fourth
and fifth grade students from Lake Norman Elementary School and Mt. Mourne IB School in Iredell County, who originated the bill. In addition, 12 grassroots Legend Car and Bandolero drivers, industry leaders and dignitaries who are members of the North Carolina Motorsports Advisory Council and Charlotte Motor Speedway fans were in attendance.
"Sometimes it takes really bright kids to tell all of us grown-ups what we ought to be doing. And that's what these students are about today," said Perdue. "They found something that should have been right under our noses because we all love NASCAR, we love Charlotte Motor Speedway, we get really excited during race season. So it's pretty cool for these students to understand that we needed to do better."
The students worked to get the legislation passed for more than a year and the bill was ratified last week by the state's General Assembly. In proposing the legislation, the students pointed to motorsports' $6 billion annual economic impact to North Carolina and noted that Charlotte, N.C., and the surrounding region is home to Charlotte Motor Speedway, the NASCAR Hall of Fame and more than 90 percent of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series teams. More than 200 businesses in Cabarrus County support the motorsports industry, which employs nearly 20,000 people in the region.
"It feels really good to know that the bill has finally passed and nobody disagreed with making stock car racing North Carolina's state sport, it feels really rewarding," said Sierra Bice, a student at Lake Norman
North Carolina now joins other U.S. states with an official state sport, including Alaska (dog mushing); Colorado (snowboarding and skiing); Massachusetts (basketball); Minnesota (hockey); and South Dakota, Texas and Wyoming (rodeo).
"When you think about North Carolina and you think about racing, it really has been unofficially the state sport for so long and I think today to have the governor sign a bill that makes racing the official state sport is really neat and special," said Smith. "It's an exciting time and a real privilege for Charlotte Motor Speedway to be such a big part of the governor's trip today."
Greg Biffle, driver of the No. 16 3M Ford in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, will be the special guest of a hosted question-and-answer session in the Monster Mile Club at Dover International Speedway on Sunday, Oct. 2, 2011, prior to the “AAA 400” NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race.