Ricky Stenhouse Jr. keeps Roush streak alive with Nationwide win at Texas
Streaking away from Denny Hamlin and pole-sitter Paul Menard after a restart with six laps left, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. won Friday night's O'Reilly Auto Parts 300 Nationwide Series race at Texas Motor Speedway. The victory was the defending series champion's second in six starts this season and the fourth of his career. It was also the fourth straight Nationwide win at Texas for Roush Fenway Racing. Menard finished second, with Kasey Kahne passing Hamlin for third in the closing laps. Austin Dillon ran fifth, and series points leader Elliott Sadler faded to 12th during the final short run and saw his margin over Stenhouse shrink to four points. "I loved coming here, and we finally finished off a race," said Stenhouse, who promised a traditional cowboy hat that goes to the victor to every member of his team. "I felt a lot better coming into this year, obviously, with the championship from last year, but one thing that I do enjoy about this is that we're running up front every week. We have a shot to win every week, and that's all we can do, and when we can finish it off like that, it's a positive."
Danica Patrick came home eighth, taking advantage of fresh tires acquired during a pit stop under the final caution. Patrick restarted 13th on Lap 195 of 200 and gained five positions before the end of the race. Patrick posted her top Nationwide result since a career-best fourth at Las Vegas in March of last year. "It's always quite chaotic when you have such great tires along with everyone around you," Patrick said. "It's two-wide -- and you want to get by them. But, all in all, it's nice to have a good finish for the team, for GoDaddy, for everybody that works really hard. We've kind of had a tough going to the start of the year, so that was fun."
The middle third of the event featured scintillating racing that mirrored the action from Fontana, Calif., three weeks earlier. Menard started fifth on a restart on Lap 104 but quickly regained the lead, after Blake Koch's No. 15 Chevrolet bounced off the inside wall on the backstretch to cause the third caution. Throughout the ensuing green-flag run, Menard kept Stenhouse at bay, with the margin fluctuating between .2 and 1.5 seconds. On Lap 143, Sadler passed Stenhouse for the second position but couldn't gain ground on Menard, as the lead-lap cars began a round of green-flag pit stops.
After the pit stops cycled through, Menard held a 2.188-second lead over Stenhouse, who surged past Sadler for the second spot on Lap 151. Menard maintained an advantage of more than two seconds until the caution flag flew for the fourth time on Lap 162, when track lighting failed on the inside of the backstretch for the second time Friday night. Dillon and David Ragan stayed on the track under the yellow, while the rest of the leap-lap cars came to the pits for tires and fuel. NASCAR red-flagged the race after Lap 169 as track workers replaced the faulty breaker that proved to be the source of the light failure. After the race restarted on Lap 173, Stenhouse blew past Dillon into the lead on Lap 177, with Menard in pursuit. Stenhouse stretched the margin to more than a second before the engine blew in Kurt Busch's No. 54 Toyota on Lap 187, necessitating the fifth caution of the evening. (NASCAR Wire Service)
NASCAR Hotpass Lineup At Texas Motor Speedway
NASCAR Hotpass on DirecTV is free to all DirecTV customers. Four dedicated driver channels offering viewers multiple camera angles, real-time statistics and audio of the network broadcast augmented by live communication between the drivers and their pit crews are available for all 36 point-paying races during the 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season. The NASCAR Hotpass lineup for the Samsung Mobile 500 at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth is as follows:
DIRECTV Channel 795: Greg Biffle and the No. 16 Filtrete Ford team of Roush Fenway Racing
DIRECTV Channel 796: Kevin Harvick and the No. 29 Budweiser Chevrolet team of Richard Childress Racing
DIRECTV Channel 797: Dale Earnhardt Jr., and the No. 88 Diet Mountain Dew / National Guard Chevrolet team of Hendrick Motorsports
DIRECTV Channel 798: Carl Edwards and the No. 99 Fastenal Ford team of Roush Fenway Racing
Martin Truex Jr. Wins Pole For Sunday's Samsung Mobile 500
In blustery conditions at Texas Motor Speedway, Martin Truex Jr. topped the speed chart in Friday's NASCAR Sprint Cup qualifying session, winning the pole for Saturday night's Samsung Mobile 500 at the 1.5-mile track. The Coors Light pole award was Truex's first of the season, his second at Texas and the seventh of his career. The driver of the No. 56 Toyota posted a lap at 190.369 mph (28.366 seconds) to edge defending race winner Matt Kenseth (190.148 mph) for the top starting spot. Kenseth was .004 seconds faster than third-place qualifier Greg Biffle, his teammate at Roush Fenway Racing and the series leader by six points over Dale Earnhardt Jr., who placed 16th in the time trials. Mark Martin (190.020 mph), Truex's teammate at Michael Waltrip Racing, qualified fourth, followed by Kasey Kahne (189.633 mph).
With the pole secure, Truex will try to win his first race since June 2007, when he claimed his only Cup victory at Dover. "That's our main goal," said Truex, who is tied for third in the Cup standings with Kenseth, Kevin Harvick and defending series champion Tony Stewart. "This team's good enough. We can get to victory lane. We're going to do it soon. I feel good about this team. I'm just having so much fun coming to the racetrack and driving these cars. We're going to make them proud here pretty quick." -- David Stremme, Joe Nemechek and Stacy Compton failed to qualify for the 43-car field.
Stewart qualified 29th in a backup car after scraping the outside wall during the second lap of Friday's 90-minute practice session. The accident may have been a blessing in disguise for the Stewart, who found the backup No. 14 Chevrolet more responsive to adjustments than his primary car. "I just got loose and didn't have enough racetrack to get it gathered up," Stewart said of the brush with the wall. "We haven't got a lot of laps on this one (the backup car), but I think we feel better with this one so far. It's doing everything that we were trying to get the other one to do... The top-tier teams, their backup cars are just as good as their primary cars, so definitely no concerns." Stewart's team replaced the backup engine with the engine from the primary car before qualifying, which is permissible without penalty. (NASCAR Wire Service)
2013 NASCAR Hall of Fame Nominees Announced
Determination and innovation, two qualities existing in abundance in the men and women who built NASCAR, characterize the 25 nominees for the 2013 NASCAR Hall of Fame class. NASCAR today announced those 25 nominees for the NASCAR Hall of Fame’s fourth induction class, and included among the diverse group are five newcomers who make this list arguably the most intriguing in the hall’s history. Of the 25 nominees, 20 return from last year’s group. Five are first-timers, and all vary in expertise: NASCAR’s first treasurer and secretary Anne Bledsoe France, engine builder and owner Ray Fox, trailblazing driver Wendell Scott, promoter and sponsor executive Ralph Seagraves and driver champion Rusty Wallace. Of those new five, two represent ‘firsts’ for the hall: Scott the first African-American nominee; France the first female nominee. From that list, five inductees will be elected by the NASCAR Hall of Fame Voting Panel, which includes a nationwide fan vote on NASCAR.COM. Voting Day for the 2013 class will be May 23, and once again, fans can attend the announcement live at the NASCAR Hall of Fame.
This round of nominees was selected by a 21-person nominating committee consisting of representatives from NASCAR, the NASCAR Hall of Fame and track owners from both major facilities and historic short tracks. The committee’s votes were tabulated by accounting firm Ernst & Young. The NHOF’s 2013 inductees will be determined by the Voting Panel, which includes the entire Nominating Committee, media members, manufacturer representatives, retired competitors (drivers, owners, crew chiefs) and recognized industry leaders. In addition, the fan vote will result in the Voting Panel’s final ballot. Fan voting on NASCAR.COM opens today, April 11, and closes May 16 at midnight. Following are the 25 nominees, listed alphabetically:
Buck Baker, first driver to win consecutive NASCAR premier (now Sprint Cup) series titles (1956-57)
Red Byron, first NASCAR premier (now Sprint Cup) series champion, in 1949
Richard Childress, 11-time car owner champion in NASCAR’s three national series
Jerry Cook, six-time NASCAR Modified champion
H. Clay Earles, founder of Martinsville Speedway
Tim Flock, two-time NASCAR premier (now Sprint Cup) series champion
Ray Fox, legendary engine builder and owner of cars driven by Buck Baker, Junior Johnson and others
Anne Bledsoe France, helped build the sport with husband Bill France Sr. Affectionately known as “Annie B.,” she is the first woman to be nominated for induction into the NASCAR Hall of Fame.
Rick Hendrick, 13-time car owner champion in NASCAR’s three national series
Jack Ingram, two-time NASCAR Busch (now Nationwide) Series champion and three-time Late Model Sportsman champion
Bobby Isaac, 1970 NASCAR premier (now Sprint Cup) series champion
Fred Lorenzen, 26 wins and winner of the Daytona 500 and World 600
Cotton Owens, driver-owner, won 1966 owner championship with David Pearson
Raymond Parks, NASCAR’s first champion car owner
Benny Parsons, 1973 NASCAR premier (now Sprint Cup) series champion
Les Richter, former NASCAR executive; former president of Riverside International Raceway
Fireball Roberts, 33 NASCAR premier (now Sprint Cup) series wins, including the 1962 Daytona 500
T. Wayne Robertson, helped raise NASCAR popularity as R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company senior VP
Wendell Scott, NASCAR trailblazer was the first African-American NASCAR premier (now Sprint Cup) series race winner, and first to be nominated for induction into the NASCAR Hall of Fame.
Ralph Seagraves, formed groundbreaking Winston-NASCAR partnership as executive with R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company
Herb Thomas, first two-time NASCAR premier (now Sprint Cup) series champion, 1951, ’53
Curtis Turner, early personality, called the “Babe Ruth of stock car racing”
Rusty Wallace, 1989 NASCAR premier (now Sprint Cup) series champion
Joe Weatherly, two-time NASCAR premier (now Sprint Cup) series champion
Leonard Wood, part-owner and former crew chief for Wood Brothers, revolutionized pit stops
ESPN Using No. 3 Car To Promote NASCAR
ESPN typically uses humor in its commercials promoting the network’s telecasts of NASCAR Nationwide Series races. But its latest ad doesn’t use humor. Instead, it uses a bit of history. Austin Dillon races a black No. 3 Chevrolet in the series as he carries the car number made famous by seven-time Cup champion Dale Earnhardt. -- Earnhardt won six of his seven Cup titles driving for team owner Richard Childress, Dillon’s grandfather. While Childress has indicated he likely won’t field a Cup car with the stylized No. 3 Earnhardt made famous, Dillon has used it throughout his racing career, including last year in winning the Camping World Truck Series championship. The 30-second commercial shows Dillon driving a variety of racing vehicles, all with the No. 3. At the end of the spot, a team member opens a garage door to reveal the No. 3 car that Dillon is driving in his Nationwide rookie season. “Here you go, Austin,” the crewman says. “She’s ready when you are.” Childress has said he believes Earnhardt, who died in the 2001 Daytona 500, would be happy to see Dillon running the No. 3. (sportingnews.com)
Lack Of Sponsorship Sidelines Trevor Bayne At Texas
A lack of sponsorship forced Roush Fenway Racing to sideline Trevor Bayne for this week's race at Texas Motor Speedway, even though he's ranked fourth in the Nationwide Series standings. Bayne went into the season knowing the organization could sit the No. 60 team at any time. Roush President Steve Newmark said Wednesday the organization had hoped to lure a sponsor by running Bayne in the first five races of the season. "We started the year with the idea we were going to run him and spur some additional interest. But at some point we knew it wasn't tenable to continue that program this year," Newmark said. "But it is not a reflection of our commitment to Trevor, and we fully expect him to be a mainstay at the (Sprint) Cup level for years to come." Bayne is scheduled to race Saturday night's Sprint Cup Series race for the Wood Brothers, the team he drove for last year when he won the Daytona 500. It will be his third Cup start of the season, and Texas is where he made his Cup debut in 2010.
Newmark said the No. 60 Ford is not shuttered, and if sponsorship becomes available, Bayne will resume racing in the Nationwide Series on a part-time basis. He leaves trailing series leader Elliott Sadler by 34 points, and with three top-10 finishes in the first five races. Sponsorship issues have plagued the personable 21-year-old Bayne the last two years, even after his breakthrough Daytona victory. The Wood Brothers, a partner with Roush, could not attract a sponsor to run Bayne for the full Cup schedule last year or this season, and his Nationwide program has been largely unsponsored. Newmark said the first two months of the season have been difficult on Bayne. But the organization hopes that between the Wood Brothers and the Nationwide program Bayne will run about 30 races this year, leading to an eventual full-time Cup ride.(sportingnews.com)
Robby Gordon Loses Dakar Appeal and Position
The US-Hummer Proto driver Robby Gordon has lost his 5th place in the 2012 Dakar Rally and loses his Dakar excluding appeal. The exclusion was upheld by the French Motorsport Federation (FFSA), as the Dakar-organizer ASO (Amaury Sport Organisation) confirmed. Robby Gordon, driving his Hummer, was excluded from the race on Jan. 10, after the stewards found an unauthorized modification of the air-intake system, giving the engine eventually extra power. The pilot had immediately appealed the decision of the FFSA and could continue the race. Gordon was chasing Frenchmen Stephane Peterhansel for the lead, and was in with a shout at winning the rally outright. Gordon's Qatari team mate, 2011 winner Nasser Al-Attiyah, struggled with reliability problems that culminated different breakdowns, so he was forced to throw in the towel. ()
Earnhardt Jr.'s car helps kick off NASCAR's patriotic salute at White House
The annual White House Easter Egg Roll has been rolling strong for 134 years. This year's version had an element of rolling thunder to it. The No. 88 National Guard Chevrolet driven by Dale Earnhardt Jr. made a special appearance at The Ellipse in the nation's capital Monday, helping to kick off a patriotic initiative "NASCAR Unites -- An American Salute." The six-week program is designed to unify the NASCAR industry and fans in celebrating America and supporting military families.
Adding a unique twist to Monday's celebration was the sight of an 800-horsepower race car adjacent to the National Mall, greeting the estimated 36,000 attendees at the White House event. The car debuted a spirited red, white and blue paint scheme, designed to rally support for the initiative. Three NASCAR executives and their families took part in the festivities, which included concerts, colorful eggs, face-painting and a story-telling session with the First Family. On hand were: Marcus Jadotte, NASCAR vice president of public affairs and multicultural development; Kim Brink, managing director of brand, consumer and series marketing; and Sandy Marshall, executive director of the NASCAR Foundation. "I cannot think of a better way to launch the program than having Dale Jr.'s National Guard car at the White House Easter Egg Roll event," Marshall said. "It was great to see the families so excited to see a NASCAR Sprint Cup car near the White House lawn."
Besides Earnhardt's star-spangled No. 88, other racers in all three national series will sport distinctly American paint schemes and trim packages. Defending Sprint Cup champion Tony Stewart, current Cup points leader Greg Biffle, Carl Edwards, Brad Keselowski and Danica Patrick are some of the drivers already on board. The initiative will be at its most visible at races around two traditional national holidays -- the May 27 Coca-Cola 600 on Memorial Day weekend at Charlotte Motor Speedway and the July 7 Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway, right after Independence Day. A total of nine tracks will be involved during the six-week span.
The significance of the announcement and the Charlotte track's long-running history of celebrating Memorial Day wasn't lost on Charlotte mayor Anthony Foxx, who attended his first egg roll with his family. "NASCAR's support of military families is legendary," Foxx said. "There couldn't be a better time than Memorial Day to recognize our veterans and to do it in such a way that NASCAR is doing it this year. It's so appropriate given the solemnity of the day and that we are so grateful for the veterans who have given their lives and their time to our country." (NASCAR Wire Service)
Drivers Near 215 MPH at Newly Repaved Michigan Speedway
One of the fastest tracks just got even faster. Thanks to a resurfacing at Michigan International Speedway, Sprint Cup cars were hitting around 215 mph on Tuesday and Wednesday during a Goodyear tire test on the new asphalt. Matt Kenseth, Brad Keselowski, Jeff Gordon, Kyle Busch and Juan Montoya took part in the test on the resurfaced 2-mile oval, and reached a fairly simple consensus -- the track is much faster than it was before the resurfacing project, which began in this past August and was completed in November. There was certainly reaction among drivers to the new speed. "Probably, I would say, fast to too fast," Kenseth told reporters in Brooklyn, Mich., on Wednesday. "Yeah, they're pretty fast. I believe we saw 215 or 216 on the straightaways, so it's definitely going to be fast." This recent resurfacing was the fourth repaving in Michigan's 44-year history. Ajax Paving Industries of Troy, Mich., used 22,000 tons of asphalt in the $7 million project, which involved milling off the top two inches of the old surface to create a smoother new one. The big, D-shaped oval was already fast -- the qualifying record of 194.232 mph was set by Ryan Newman in 2005, while the race's average speed record of 173.997 mph was set by Dale Jarrett in 1999. Both of those marks appear in jeopardy when the Sprint Cup tour convenes in Michigan for the facility's June 17 event....MORE AT...(nascar.com)