Petty Motorsports Hires Mike Ford For Almirola's Crew Chief
During the nine Sprint Cup races when he didn’t have a job as a crew chief, Mike Ford didn’t sit on the edge of his couch staring at the television and analyzing how every car handled and second-guessing every crew chief call. Ford, who left Joe Gibbs Racing last year after six years as Denny Hamlin’s crew chief, didn’t feel the need to think about racing. He knew when the right opportunity came along, he’d get immersed in the sport again. That opportunity started Monday, his first day at Richard Petty Motorsports, where he has taken over as crew chief for Aric Almirola’s No. 43 team. Ford, 42, has worked as a crew chief for the last 10 years, including stints for Bill Elliott at Evernham Motorsports and Dale Jarrett at Robert Yates Racing before joining Gibbs and Hamlin.
In the five months since his release from Gibbs, but with another year left on his contract, Ford didn’t have to go back to work right away and has spent time working on some personal hot rods. He took trips to the beach, the mountains and Los Angeles, all things he couldn’t do while working as a crew chief. Many of the people he worked with at Evernham and Yates now work at RPM, which was formed in the last few years through mergers of Gillett Evernham Motorsports, Petty Enterprises and Yates Racing. Not only has he worked with competition director Sammy Johns and crew chief Todd Parrott, Ford believes he makes a good fit with Almirola, a 28-year-old driver with 35 career Cup starts from 2007-2010 before this season. Almirola has one top-10 finish and ranks 24th in points after nine races with crew chief Greg Erwin. Ford says that by using Roush Fenway cars and Roush Yates engines, he has the resources to do the job. ...READ MORE AT...(sportingnews.com)
Fire Destroys Hauler At JD Motorsports
A team hauler owned by JD Motorsports and filled with racing equipment caught fire and burned Sunday at the JD Motorsports shop in Gaffney, S.C. JD Motorsports, which fields the No. 01 Chevrolet for Mike Wallace in the Nationwide Series, suffered a total loss to the hauler, which was loaded with equipment, uniforms, backup parts, engines, shocks and springs, according to the team. There were no injuries and the tractor was detached and pulled away before suffering any damage. The team’s racecars for this weekend’s race at Talladega Superspeedway were not in the hauler and the team shop was not damaged. ...READ MORE AT...(sportingnews.com)
Female Drivers Long, Patrick To Make Talladega Debuts
Talladega Superspeedway might be one of the most daunting for a series track debut. But to be considered elite in the series, drivers must be able to conquer any track surface the NNS throws at them. And for Johanna Long and Danica Patrick, those debuts come this weekend in the Aaron’s 312. Long, at age 19 the youngest female to compete in the NNS and a current Sunoco Rookie of the Year contender, is from Pensacola, Fla., and cut her racing teeth racing in Legends, Pro Late Models and Super Late Models in Alabama at tracks in Mobile and Opp. Having made five of the seven series starts this season, Long is currently 19th in the driver standings with an average finish of 21st. She more than held her own in her national series debut at Talladega last October, starting eighth and finishing 16th in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race. Long drives for ML Motorsports in the Nationwide Series and the team collected its only top-five result to date at ’Dega in 2008. Unlike Long, who has logged laps at Talladega, Patrick will be making her NASCAR debut at the speedway. Much of Patrick’s NASCAR success has come at Daytona International Speedway, Talladega’s sister track. In four starts at Daytona, Patrick has one pole, three top-10 starts, and one top-10 finish.
Six NASCAR Nationwide Series Crew Chiefs Fined
NASCAR announced today that six NASCAR Nationwide Series crew chiefs had been fined and placed on probation for violations during this past weekend’s event at Richmond International Raceway. In addition, the teams’ respective car chiefs have also been placed on probation for the remainder of the year.
Crew chiefs Luke Lambert (No. 2 team), Danny Stockman (No. 3 team), Trent Owens (No. 30 team), Jimmy Elledge (No. 31 team), Ernie Cope (No. 33 team), and Mike Shiplett (No. 38 team) have each been fined $10,000 and placed on NASCAR probation until Dec. 31. Additionally, the teams’ respective car chiefs – Phil Gould (No. 2), Robert Strmiska (No. 3), Shannon Rursch (No. 30), Ronald Hornaday III (No. 31), Paul Balmer (No. 33), and Christopher Meyers (No. 38) – have likewise been placed on NASCAR probation until Dec. 31.
The rules violations referred to Sections 12-1 (actions detrimental to stock car racing); 12-4J (any determination by NASCAR officials that the race equipment used in the event does not conform to NASCAR rules detailed in Section 20-A of the rule book); 20A-2.1E (streamlining of the contours of the car, beyond what is approved by the series director will not be permitted. Installation of air directional devices, underpans, baffles, shields or the like beneath the car or the car’s hood and fender area, front firewall, floor, rear firewall area, rear deck and quarter panel will not be permitted. If, in the judgment of NASCAR officials, any part or component of the car not previously approved by NASCAR has been installed or modified to enhance aerodynamic performance, will not be permitted. All cars must remain standard in appearance); 20A-3.10A (front upper bumper cover must be from the respective OEM manufacturer and must be approved by NASCAR. The front lower bumper cover and rear bumper cover must be from an approved manufacturer and must be approved by NASCAR. Once approved, the front lower bumper covers may be used on all approved models. NASCAR officials may use bumper covers provided by the respective manufacturer as a guide in determining whether a competitor’s bumper cover conforms to the specifications of the NASCAR rule book. Unless otherwise authorized by the series director, cutting and reshaping of bumper covers will not be permitted.) The infractions were discovered during opening day inspection on April 26.
NASCAR Media Group Wins Fourth Sports Emmy In Last Six Years
NASCAR Media Group, the full-service video and digital production company of NASCAR, last night received a Sports Emmy Award for “Inside the Headsets,” a television program which aired on SPEED the night after the annual NASCAR Sprint Cup All-Star Race last May. The win was the second in three years for “Inside the Headsets” and the fourth win overall in the last six years in the “Outstanding Live Event Turnaround” category. NASCAR Media Group was presented the award at the 33rd Annual Sports Emmy Awards at Frederick P. Rose Hall in Lincoln Center in New York. “Inside the Headsets,” which aired on SPEED on May 22, 2011, captured a wide array of all the action that was the NASCAR Sprint All-Star race, including exclusive behind-the-scenes footage, in-car communication, crew chief sound, exclusive interviews and even a rare glimpse inside NASCAR Race Control with cameras embedded at the competition nerve center. The program aired less than 24 hours following the conclusion of the race. --/== “We are extremely honored to be recognized for the hard work done by our team at NASCAR Media Group and our partners at SPEED,” said Jay Abraham, COO of NASCAR Media Group. “Winning this award for the fourth time in six years reflects that hard work and showcases the highly compelling content of a show like ‘Inside the Headsets’ despite the turnaround time.” This was NASCAR Media Group’s seventh straight nomination. The other three award-winning shows are as follows:
2006 – Beyond the Wheel, SPEED
2007 – Quest for the Cup, Voom HD
2009 – Inside the Headsets, SPEED
Kyle Busch Takes Advantage Of Stewart's Bobble To Win At Richmond
Pulling away from Dale Earnhardt Jr. after a restart with eight laps left in Saturday night's Capital City 400 at Richmond International Raceway, Kyle Busch streaked to his fourth straight victory in the spring race at the .75-mile track. The win was Busch's first of the season and the 24th of his career, tying him with his brother, 2004 NASCAR Sprint Cup champion Kurt Busch, for 26th all-time. Tony Stewart, the race leader before the fifth and final caution for debris in Turn 2, lost ground on the restart and finished third. Denny Hamlin ran fourth, followed by Kasey Kahne. The race turned on the last caution, which Stewart said was called because of a plastic water bottle in Turn 2. Stewart was strong on long runs but uncharacteristically slow off the mark on restarts, and Busch took full advantage.
The first step was beating Stewart off pit road during the final four-tire stop on Lap 388 of 400 and gaining control of the restart. "I don't know where that last caution came from, but it was our saving grace," Busch said in Victory Lane. "It was a gift. We came down pit road and (crew chief) Dave Rogers and the guys went to work and gave us a great pit stop, got me out front. (That) gave me the lead so I could restart the race how I wanted to. That was the win right there." As he approached the finish line, Busch radioed to his crew: "What up, boys -- we're back!" It was a stellar weekend for the race winner, who won Friday night's Nationwide Series event as a car owner, with brother Kurt behind the wheel of the Kyle Busch Motorsports Toyota.
Earnhardt, who took over second in the standings -- five points behind series leader and 18th-place finish Greg Biffle -- experienced brake problems for much of the race, but used the late restart to improve his position after Stewart fell back. "We had some brake problems all race long," Earnhardt explained. "I had a great restart, and I ran really great for one lap, and the pedal went back to the floor. I just had to pump it up all the way down the straightaway and I didn't have any front brakes getting into the corner, so I couldn't get in real hard. It would just get loose locking the rears up. So even with the brakes working, I think the No. 18 (Busch) was just a little bit better than us all night."
Slow pit stops cost Stewart track position on more than one occasion, but it was the final caution that proved the undoing of the defending Cup champion, who has three Richmond victories but none since 2002. "When the caution is for a plastic bottle on the backstretch, it's hard to feel good about losing that one," said Stewart, who led Busch by more than a second when the yellow flag waved. "And we gave it away on pit road. So we did everything we could to throw it away; it got taken away from us. "That's the best car I've had at Richmond in a long time. So I'm really proud of that and (crew chief) Steve Addington, and I'm proud of our guys. But we've got some work to do on pit stops right now. I don't know what their malfunction was but I'm pretty ticked off about it tonight."
A caution for Jeff Burton's crash into the Turn 3 wall on Lap 311 interrupted a cycle of green-flag pit stops and scrambled the running order. Jimmie Johnson, who came to pit road when the caution flew, was penalized for a tire violation on his pit stop -- after one of his crewmen rolled a tire unattended toward the pit wall -- and had to restart on Lap 319 from the tail end of the field. That same restart proved disastrous for Edwards, who was black-flagged for jumping the start after he put the power down, in NASCAR's judgment, before reaching the double red restart lines on the outside wall. Forced to serve a pass-through penalty, Edwards dropped to 15th, 17 seconds behind Stewart. On lap 372, Stewart put Edwards a lap down and pulled away from Busch in second place to a lead of nearly two seconds. Johnson rallied to finish sixth, but Edwards, who led a race-high 210 laps, had to settle for 10th, after getting back on the lead lap as the free-pass car under the last caution. (NASCAR Wire Service)
Richmond 400 Facts and Stats
Kyle Busch's 24th career victory is tied with brother Kurt for 26th all-time.
Kyle Busch got his first victory in 2012, ending a 20-race winless streak.
This is his first win since Michigan in August of last year.
He's the seventh different race winner in 2012.
Kyle Busch earned his fourth Richmond win in his 15th start.
His four Richmond wins are the most among all active drivers.
Kyle Busch now has nine short-track wins, ranking third among active drivers as he has won five of the last 13 short-track races.
It was the 96th Cup victory for Joe Gibbs Racing, and ninth at Richmond.
The third victory in 2012 for JGR ties Stewart/Haas for most this season.
Dale Earnhardt Jr grabbed his seventh second-place finish since his last win (138 races).
Tony Stewart (third) led 118 laps, but lost the lead on pit stops with 13 to go; only his third top-five finish of the season.
Denny Hamlin (fourth) got his seventh top-five in his 13th start at Richmond.
Kasey Kahne (fifth) notched his best finish of the season; has top-10 finishes in the past three races after none in the first six of 2012.
Jimmie Johnson (sixth) recovered after being penalized for an uncontrolled tire on lap 308; his worst finish in the past eight races is 12th.
Carl Edwards (10th) led a race high 206 laps, but was penalized for jumping the restart on lap 319.
Martin Truex Jr (25th) had his first finish outside the top 10 in the past six races.
Busch Brother Act Has careers Back On Track
At the end of the 2011 season, brothers Kurt and Kyle Busch both had mountains to climb, and doubtless they drew strength from each other as they began the ascent together. Driving relentlessly for two heart-stopping laps at the end of Friday night's Virginia 529 College Savings 250 at Richmond International Raceway, Kurt Busch held off charging Denny Hamlin in a milestone victory for the driver and his car owner, Kyle Busch. The win was the first for Kyle Busch Motorsports, which made its entry into the NASCAR Nationwide Series this season with one car, the No. 54 Monster Energy Toyota, shared by the two brothers. The collaboration has brought Kurt and Kyle closer together. In previous years, with Kyle running extensive schedules in all three of NASCAR's top series, their lives had less chance to intersect, even at the racetrack.
As Kurt and Kyle recover from missteps that waylaid their careers last season, they have begun the journey together. Last November, in a fit of pique, Kyle wrecked Camping World Truck Series title contender Ron Hornaday Jr. under caution at Texas. Kyle was parked for the rest of the weekend, but the consequences were more far-reaching than that. At the behest of his sponsor, M&M's, and Sprint Cup employer, Joe Gibbs Racing, Kyle is embargoed from racing trucks, even though he owns his own NCWTS team, and even though his cash flow would be demonstrably better if he were behind the wheel. Kyle no longer drives the No. 18 Gibbs Toyota in the Nationwide Series -- the car in which he won 38 of his series-record 51 races. To maintain his Nationwide presence, Kyle expanded his own team to that series and hired his brother as co-driver.
Kurt's career needed a boost, too. After one of the seemingly omnipresent amateur cameras caught his rant against TV pit reporter Jerry Punch in the garage during the season finale at Homestead, Kurt parted with Penske Racing by mutual agreement at the end of the 2011 season, giving up a Chase-worthy ride in the No. 22 Dodge. But there was an upside to the adversity. The brothers had a chance to work together for the first time in their respective careers, and on Friday night, their collaboration bore fruit. After the race, Kyle leaned into the car and spoke emotionally to his brother. They hugged -- more than once. "He just couldn't believe that we got this car to victory lane," Kurt said. "You could just feel his hand trembling (thinking), 'I'm an owner -- I don't know what to think,' but he knows he could have drove this car today as well. It's an interesting family feeling right now, because I've raced for guys like (Roger) Penske, guys like (Jack) Roush. A guy named Busch owns this racecar, and it's a little bit different feel." (NASCAR Wire Service)
Travis Pastrana Shows Promise In Nationwide Debut
X-Games superstar Travis Pastrana made his belated Nationwide debut in Friday night's race, and the driver of the No. 99 Toyota showed fans at Richmond that he was a quick study when it came to driving stock cars at the national level. For much of the night, Pastrana stayed on the lead lap, running in the top 20, until a pit road speeding penalty on a green-flag stop late in the race dropped him to 22nd at the finish. "The result wasn't what we wanted, but to be perfectly honest, I felt pretty good out there," Pastrana said after the race. "We weren't a top-10 car, but for a while we were closing in on what could have been a top 15 before I messed up the pits. "I felt really good. We passed (Brad) Keselowski at one point and I was like, 'That's awesome' -- To go around and keep moving forward there was really cool." (NASCAR Wire Service)