All Petty Motorsports Front Row For Coca-Cola 600
The No. 43 is back on the pole at Charlotte Motor Speedway -- without a Petty behind the wheel. In a car owned by three-time Charlotte Motor Speedway pole winner Richard Petty, Aric Almirola blew the doors off his competition in Thursday night's time trials for Sunday's Coca-Cola 600, touring the 1.5-mile track in 27.988 seconds (192.940 mph). The near-track-record speed (just .04 seconds off Elliott Sadler's 2005 mark) gave Almirola the first Coors Light pole award of his career and allowed him to surpass Richard Petty Motorsports teammate Marcos Ambrose (191.598 mph), whose No. 9 Ford was fastest in practice, for the top starting spot. Fresh from his victory in last Saturday's NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race at CMS, Jimmie Johnson qualified third at 191.374 mph, followed by Cup points leader Greg Biffle (191.259 mph) and Clint Bowyer (191.198 mph). Mark Martin, Kasey Kahne, Denny Hamlin, Paul Menard and Regan Smith will start from positions six through 10, respectively.
In late 2010, RPM was a moribund team, wilting under the majority ownership of George Gillett. But Petty partnered with investors Andy Murstein and Doug Bergeron to save the organization from extinction. Almirola joined Ambrose on the team to start the 2012 season. On Thursday night, he registered the 122nd pole for the 43 car. Petty himself accounted for 114 of those 122. "It's been a huge honor for me from day one to be able to come to this organization," Almirola said. "I'm not just driving for Richard Petty Motorsports. I'm driving the 43 car, probably the most iconic car in the history of our sport. For him (Petty) to allow me to do that, for him to ask me to do that, it's just really special, and it's a big honor to put that 43 car back on top of the board. To see it over there in Victory Lane and get our picture taken and all that stuff is really cool. I know it's only qualifying -- we want to be able to do that after the race -- but it's a start."
Almirola's pole reflects the influence of crew chief Mike Ford, who joined the No. 43 Ford team before the May 6 race at Talladega. "I've got short time working with these cars," said Ford, who was crew chief for Denny Hamlin's second-place run in the Cup series in 2010 but was replaced by Darian Grubb after the 2011 season. "I came in for a couple of weeks and observed, and these cars have got speed. They've got a lot of speed to 'em. It took me a couple weeks to just understand the approach of how to tune them. Last year all the Fords ran good at Charlotte, and we came back with that type setup (last week) for the Open (Sprint Showdown) and kind of embarrassed ourselves, running seventh. We went back to work and regrouped and made a cut at something and focused on race trim -- we really didn't focus on qualifying. We know that we've got the balance right, and the car's got speed and Aric's comfortable driving it, so he can go get the speed." The No. 43 hasn't been to Victory Lane since John Andretti won for Petty Enterprises at Martinsville on April 18, 1999. That stat failed to stem the confidence of the car owner. "We'll see you Sunday night," Petty said, indicating the dais where the winner's press conference takes place.
Misfortune continued to dog Kurt Busch's Sprint Cup effort. The driver of the No. 51 Phoenix Racing Chevrolet spun on his first qualifying lap, nicking the outside wall with the right rear of the car before slamming nose-first into the inside barrier. "Sorry, guys," Busch radioed to his crew as he drove the wounded car to the garage. Busch posted no time but is guaranteed a starting spot in the race because of the car's top-35 standing in owner points. Like Busch, Danica Patrick will make use of an owner points provisional after posting the 43rd-fastest time among 47 drivers. Patrick will start 40th, Busch 42nd. Mike Bliss, former 600 winner David Reutimann, JJ Yeley and Scott Riggs failed to qualify for the 43-car field. (NASCAR Wire Service)
2013 NASCAR Hall Of Fame Class Announced
NASCAR announced today the 2013 class of inductees into the NASCAR Hall of Fame. The five-person class, which will be officially inducted in a ceremony on Friday, Feb. 8, 2013 at the NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte, N.C., consists of Buck Baker, Cotton Owens, Herb Thomas, Rusty Wallace and Leonard Wood. Members of the 54-member NASCAR Hall of Fame Voting Panel met today in a closed session in Charlotte, N.C., to vote on the induction class of 2013. The announcement was made by NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France in the NASCAR Hall of Fame’s “Great Hall.”
Next year’s class was determined by votes cast by the Voting Panel, which included representatives from NASCAR, the NASCAR Hall of Fame, track owners from major facilities and historic short tracks, media members, manufacturer representatives, retired competitors (drivers, owners, crew chiefs), recognized industry leaders and a nationwide fan vote conducted through NASCAR.COM. The accounting firm of Ernst & Young presided over the tabulation of the votes. Voting for this year’s class was as evenly distributed as any previous NASCAR Hall of Fame induction class. Herb Thomas and Leonard Wood each garnered 57 percent of the vote, followed by Rusty Wallace (52%), Cotton Owens (50%) and Buck Baker (39%). For the first time in Voting Day history, there was a tie for the fifth and final induction spot. Voting Panel members chose Baker over Fireball Roberts after a re-vote between the two nominees. The next top vote getters were Roberts, Jerry Cook and Tim Flock.
Results for the NASCAR.COM Fan Vote, in alphabetical order, were Benny Parsons, Fireball Roberts, Wendell Scott, Rusty Wallace and Leonard Wood. The five inductees came from a group of 25 nominees for induction into the 2013 NASCAR Hall of Fame class that included: Buck Baker, Red Byron, Richard Childress, Jerry Cook, H. Clay Earles, Tim Flock, Ray Fox, Anne Bledsoe France, Rick Hendrick, Jack Ingram, Bobby Isaac, Fred Lorenzen, Cotton Owens, Raymond Parks, Benny Parsons, Les Richter, Fireball Roberts, T. Wayne Robertson, Wendell Scott, Ralph Seagraves, Herb Thomas, Curtis Turner, Rusty Wallace, Joe Weatherly and Leonard Wood.
Class of 2013 Inductees:
Buck Baker - Elzie Wylie “Buck” Baker established himself as one of NASCAR’s early greats, becoming the first driver to win consecutive NASCAR premier series championships. His repeat performance in 1956-57 was the highlight of an incredible four-year span; in 1955 and ’58 Baker finished as the series championship runner-up. His career victory total of 46 ranks tied for 14th all-time.
Cotton Owens - Everett “Cotton” Owens enjoyed success as both a driver and owner in NASCAR. Behind the wheel, he won nine times in NASCAR’s premier series competition, including the 1957 Daytona Beach road course. He nearly won the 1959 championship, finishing second to NASCAR Hall of Famer Lee Petty. But as an owner, Owens stood out as one of the greats of NASCAR’s early eras. His eye for talent was unmatched. He hired NASCAR Hall of Famer Junior Johnson in 1962, the same season in which he began a future championship relationship with another NASCAR Hall of Famer David Pearson. Owens won 38 races as an owner.
Herb Thomas - Herb Thomas was truly one of NASCAR’s first superstars. He was the first to win two NASCAR premier series championships (1951, ’53). He finished second in the points standings in 1952 and 1954 giving the North Carolina veteran top-two championship finishes in four consecutive seasons. He finished outside the top two in the championship only once (fifth in 1955) between 1951 and 1956. Thomas won both his championships driving self-owned cars.
Rusty Wallace - Russell William Wallace Jr., the 1989 NASCAR premier series champion, won his first of 55 races in 1986, capturing the checkered flag at Bristol Motor Speedway. His 55 victories rank ninth all time. He was especially adept on the circuit’s short tracks winning 25 times at Bristol, Martinsville, North Wilkesboro and Richmond. His influence on the sport continued after his retirement, as an analyst on ESPN.
Leonard Wood - The Wood Brothers team is renowned as the innovator of the modern pit stop. Leonard Wood, brother of Glen and Delano Wood, was front and center in its development as chief mechanic (crew chief) for the Stuart, Va.-based team. As crew chief, Wood amassed 96 wins and 117 poles in 990 races.
NASCAR Penalizes Sadler, Nationwide Team For Iowa Infraction
NASCAR penalized the No. 2 team of Nationwide Series title contender Elliott Sadler on Tuesday, docking the Richard Childress Racing team six points in the series standings. The No. 2 Chevrolet from Richard Childress Racing was too low in post-race inspection after Sadler finished second in Sunday's Pioneer Hi-Bred 250 at Iowa Speedway. Sadler indicated Monday on SPEED's "Race Hub" broadcast that the illegal body height was likely due to a parts failure. It marked the second time in three weeks that Childress' top Nationwide operation has been penalized. Crew chief Luke Lambert was placed on probation May 1 through the end of the season after the car's front bumper covers were found with unapproved modifications in a pre-race inspection at Richmond International Raceway. Lambert was fined $10,000 for the Iowa violations. Sadler was stripped of six points in the Nationwide driver standings and car owner of record DeLana Harvick was docked six points in the series' owner standings. Sadler, who ranks second in Nationwide standings, now is 34 points behind defending series champion and current points leader Ricky Stenhouse Jr., who notched his third win of the season Sunday at Iowa. (NASCAR Wire Service)
Toyota Unveils New Sprint Cup Car For 2013
Through the open bay on the side of Toyota Racing Development's chassis engineering facility drove Kyle Busch -- in the 2013 Camry that will make its first competitive laps in NASCAR's Sprint Cup Series next year. With distinctive racy lines and significantly more brand identity than has accrued to NASCAR's current-generation racecar, the 2013 competition Camry is both a new, sleek entry into the world's foremost stock car racing series and, at the same time, a throwback to an era where cars on the racetrack were the clearly identifiable brethren of cars sold in America's showrooms. Clint Bowyer, driver of Michael Waltrip Racing's No. 15 Toyota, admired the new car, both for its looks and for the broader concept it represents. "I think it's really cool," Bowyer told the NASCAR Wire Service. "To me, it really gets back to that winning on Sunday, selling on Monday feel that NASCAR once had and once used. That slogan rang so true for so many years. That's definitely implemented into these new cars. You started to see it in the Nationwide cars a few years ago. It needed to be done, and I'm excited that they finally made it all happen."
For 10 straight years, the Camry has been the best-selling car in America. Nevertheless, Toyota embarked on an aggressive redesign to provide the Camry with an updated look. The 2013 racecar features a distinctive grille area and pronounced character lines, or shoulders, running from the rear of the car to the "A" pillars on either side of the windshield. "All the Toyota designs have ramped up," said car owner Michael Waltrip, who like Joe Gibbs and JTG/Daugherty Racing has signed a multiyear extension with Toyota. "It's a really cool looking product that they're selling, and to be able to race one of them is really fun for me. I love it. It's something that I think people will get excited about. "That's good for our sponsors and good for our sport."
As the winner of 85 events in NASCAR's top three touring series since joining Joe Gibbs Racing's Toyota team in 2008 (84 points races in addition to the Budweiser Shootout), Busch was chosen to do the unveiling by driving the car into the building. "Toyota and I have a great relationship," Busch said. "I've done a lot of commercials for them--doing some fun commercials, singing a little bit -- but to come here and to drive the car and to get to be the one who unveils the 2013 Camry first was meaningful." --/-- The new Camry was a cooperative effort between TRD's chassis engineering division and Calty Design, part of Toyota's global design team. But those weren't the only players involved. Representatives of Toyota have met regularly with representatives of the other three Cup manufacturers -- Chevrolet, Ford and Dodge -- to find common ground. All four manufacturers still have to submit their designs for final approval, and doubtless there will be tweaks and additional trips to the wind tunnel before then.
NASCAR, of course, has been heavily involved, too, as both the manufacturers and sanctioning body have worked to achieve a balance between increased brand identity and competitive parity between the brands. "The manufacturers have worked really, really hard," said Robin Pemberton, NASCAR's vice president of competition. "We set some pretty difficult (aerodynamic) targets to hit originally, and we've moved the targets a little bit as they work and get closer." --/-- In fact, Dodge originally came closest to the drag coefficient numbers NASCAR mandated in the early stages of development, but rather than demand a hard-line number, NASCAR relaxed its requirements recently. "At the end of the day, there are two things that are neck-and-neck; parity, obviously, which we can regulate with spoilers and splitters and all of that; and identity," Pemberton said. "This whole project (the 2013 cars) started off with identity, knowing that we had to maintain parity in the garage area. We were at one area (in terms of drag), and it got to the point of diminishing returns (in that manufacturers couldn't meet the numbers without sacrificing some of the distinctive lines of their cars), so we changed the target. We met them a little bit on the target about 10 days ago to try to help the process along." (NASCAR Wire Service)
New Hampshire Motor Speedway Upgrades Facility
The north end garage at New Hampshire Motor Speedway has been the home of NASCAR’s Sprint Cup Series for nearly two decades. But when stock car racing’s premier circuit returns to Loudon for the LENOX Industrial Tools 301 on July 15, they will have a new home in the infield center garage, a move that is expected to make life easier for teams and fans alike. “This is a culmination of about four years of planning,” said John Zudell, New Hampshire Motor Speedway vice president of operations and development. “When we rearranged the south half of the infield in 2009, it started the conversation of putting the Sprint Cup Series in the center garage. This upcoming season, fans will be able to see Cup drivers in the center of the infield.” Fans will now have a garage that’s far more accessible than previous years, while still providing teams more maneuverability – which is crucial given pre-race pit pass distribution has increased by nearly 300 percent. “The increase brings a lot more fans close to the pit-road activities,” said Zudell of the spike in pre-race pit passes. “We’ve added two more crossover gates on the frontstretch that will give us more capacity to get people in and out in the rush just prior to the race.”
The switch in garage locations not only benefits fans, but the teams as well. The center garage, which sits directly behind victory lane, will lessen the time it takes to get from pit road back to the garage, and vice versa. The NASCAR Nationwide Series will now use the north end garage. The process of preparing the infield for the garage swap also included a project to level the cold pit road. In recent years, pit stalls 1-28 had been level with pit road, while pits 29-43 were perched near the top of the pit wall. This meant for pits south of victory lane crews had to go up and over for a pit stop, while the others merely needed to jump down off the wall. In essence, leveling pit road has leveled the playing field for all teams. A new pedestrian sidewalk through the tunnel beneath Turn 2 will also contribute to infield accessibility. Since purchasing the track on January 11, 2008, Speedway Motorsports, Inc. has made it a priority to upgrade the facility each season. While the 2012 construction might not provide the same “Wow! Factor” that Frank Webb’s Bath Center did in 2010 or the Panasonic scoreboard did in 2011, its goal is still very much the same: to ensure fans have the best experience possible.
Stenhouse Wins Iowa Nationwide Race
Ricky Stenhouse Jr.'s success at Iowa Speedway continues. The defending NASCAR Nationwide Series points champion extended his winning streak at Iowa Speedway. Stenhouse dominated the field for most of the race to capture the checkered flag at the Pioneer Hi-Bred 250 in front of 34,000 fans Sunday. The win is the third straight at the 0.875-mile track for Stenhouse, who swept the two Nationwide races held here last year. "Man, this one was fun," Stenhouse said. "I love dominating those races." --/-- The Roush Fenway Racing driver claimed his third win in 10 starts this season, extending his series lead to 28 points over Elliott Sadler, who was second. Stenhouse grabbed his first lead by overtaking Sam Hornish Jr. on Lap 31 en route to leading 209 laps, tying an Iowa Speedway record set by Busch in 2010. "It feels good to win three in a row," Stenhouse said. "It was a lot of fun, leading that many laps."
Stenhouse became the first Nationwide driver to win three straight at a track since Kyle Busch won three straight at Texas Motor Speedway in 2009-2010. The streak was not a conversation topic, but no words were needed. "That's what we set out to do," Stenhouse said. "We didn't talk too much about it in the shop, but everybody knew we had one thing in mind coming here." --/-- The rest of the field could not keep up with Stenhouse, who blew away the field. It is different than Stenhouse's win last August, when his engine failed on the final lap and he was pushed across the finish line by teammate Carl Edwards, who couldn't avoid the accident. "This is the way you want to run," Stenhouse said. "You want to come out here and dominate."
Cautions were the only thing that proved capable of closing the gap on Stenhouse's leads, which grew to nearly five seconds at times. He held off the likes of Kurt Busch, Elliott Sadler and Justin Allgaier during late restarts. The yellow flag caused Stenhouse to drop as low as fourth, after Danica Patrick's blown right front tire slid her into the wall in the early going. Cole Whitt restarted at the lead spot, but Stenhouse soon passed Sadler for the lead near the midway point. Things became interesting with 65 laps remaining as Busch completed his move from worst to first after a restart. Less than a lap later, Stenhouse moved back into first and ran to Victory Lane. "When you have a race car like we did you don't ever want a caution to come out. It does and that's just the way it is," Stenhouse said. "I just wanted to make sure I was cautious. The race was just super-fast to get back to the front."
The progression continues for Stenhouse and his team as they stay ahead of their pace set last year. Crew chief Mike Kelley prepared his team for a tough test, stressing it needed to work harder than ever to avoid losing steam. "When you get on streaks or have a good deal going that if this was a race we didn't win, I didn't want it to kill our momentum," Kelley said. "We had finished better at every track to this race than we did last year. We were 76 points ahead of where we were last year after nine races." --/-- With no Sprint Cup race Sunday and most racing fans' eyes focused on Newton, the win had added importance. "To come here to Iowa in front of a packed house," Kelley said, "and to win the race the way we did today was a bold statement about where our team is and who our driver is."
Sadler, who started on the pole, earned his third straight top-five finish at Iowa Speedway, leading two laps. He said the team made key adjustments through the race and was running its best at the end. The fourth and final caution, when former Motocross champion Travis Pastrana suffered electrical problems and bowed out at 26th hampered any chances to catch Stenhouse. "It's frustrating to finish second. I thought we had a car that could win the race," Sadler said. "I'm proud of my guys to rebound the way they did." --/-- Michael McDowell snuck in late to place third. Austin Dillon was fourth, and increased his lead for Rookie of the Year honors. McDowell said his car excelled on long runs. He climbed up to third after the third caution, but was assessed a speeding penalty in the pits, dropping him to the back of the pack. "I just made a mistake," McDowell said. "There were a lot of lapped cars between first and second and I tried to close the gap a little bit and just overdid it. It just showed how strong our car was."
Busch had a strong run, finishing fifth after placing eighth at the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race on Saturday night at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Drew Herring qualified the car 31st, but Busch started at the back. "It's great to sniff the lead, get close to it," Busch said. "It's just missing a couple little components." --/-- He was third when he got caught up with McDowell on the final lap. Busch saved the car in a lengthy sideways slide to preserve a fifth-place finish. "At the end, my weak spot was Turn 1," Busch said. "We were loose getting in there all day. McDowell got down in there, I was trying to hold him off and that's what racing is all about. Two guys got together. Yeah, we got the short end of the stick but I don't care." --/-- Darrell Wallace Jr., who made his Nationwide Series debut with Joe Gibbs Racing, placed ninth. (NASCAR Wire Service)
Jimmie Johnson Executes Knaus' Plan Perfectly
Jimmie Johnson joined an elite club on Saturday night. In beating Brad Keselowski to the finish of the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway by .841 seconds, Johnson won the exhibition event for the third time, tying Dale Earnhardt Sr. and Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jeff Gordon for most all-time. Matt Kenseth ran third, followed by Kyle Busch and Dale Earnhardt Jr., who qualified for the event by winning the preliminary Sprint Showdown. The All-Star Race win and accompanying seven-figure first prize ended a spectacular eight days for Johnson, who delivered victory No. 200 to owner Rick Hendrick May 12 at Darlington and on Thursday night cheered his crew to its first victory in the NASCAR Sprint Pit Crew Challenge in Charlotte, N.C.
All told, Johnson won $1,071,340 for his third win in 11 All-Star starts. "It means a ton to me," Johnson said of tying Earnhardt Sr. and Gordon. "Those are two of the greatest drivers that have ever been in a stock car. I want to set my goals high, and I want to be considered one of the best to sit in a stock car, and the only way you can do that is by winning big races and piling up those stats." The All-Star Race victory was the seventh as a car owner for Hendrick, who sat on the window ledge and took a ride on Johnson's winning Chevrolet after the race. "That was the dumbest thing I've ever done in racing," quipped Hendrick, who caught his foot in the dash while straddling the window. Johnson was the first to stake his claim to a top spot in the running order, winning the first 20-lap segment after passing polesitter Kyle Busch for the top spot on Lap 15.
In winning the first segment, Johnson earned the right to lead the field to pit road before the final 10-lap dash. Thereafter, Johnson made frequent pit stops and ran behind the rest of the field to save his car for the finish. "I let it rip around the top and got to the lead, and we were smart from there and made sure we worked on the car and got it right so we could be there at the end," Johnson said. "Within two corners tonight -- as I was on the outside, which is usually the place you don't want to be -- I knew it was on. I was able to get to the lead in that first segment and really set our night in the right direction and have control of the night. Everybody knew that, if you could win that first segment, you could control the night, and we were able to do that starting sixth, so it was pretty awesome."
Keselowski thought Johnson showed his hand in the first segment. "He started sixth, I believe, and drove to the lead in 20 laps," Keselowski said. "I think that's probably a pretty good indicator of the strength of his car. I don't believe he passed anyone that was not good. We'll just leave it at that. He passed Kyle, I think Denny (Hamlin), maybe (Kevin) Harvick. (Ryan) Newman. Those aren't slouches that he passed, and he passed them in 20 laps. I think that's a pretty good indicator of the strength of his effort. Whether that's car or driver, I'll let you all figure that out. That's a pretty good indicator he was the guy to beat all night."
Kenseth passed Hamlin with three laps left in the second segment and secured the win in that leg. Like Johnson, Kenseth spent segment No. 3 running at the back while Keselowski and Kasey Kahne waged an intense battle for the win. Kahne got a strong run from the high line through Turns 3 and 4, but Keselowski held on to win the segment by .006 seconds.
Earnhardt won segment No. 4 by 1.618 seconds over Marcos Ambrose. After the 20-lap run ended, Johnson, Kenseth, Keselowski and Earnhardt entered pit road in that order, took no tires or gas and came out in those same top four positions for the final 10-lap run. --/-- Of the top four drivers, Keselowski and Kenseth had the freshest tires, having stopped under caution for Greg Biffle's blown engine on Lap 73. But Johnson's No. 48 Chevrolet was the class of the field and pulled away for the win in an anomalous All-Star race that did not see a single caution for a racing accident. Though Earnhardt transferred into the main event with a decisive victory in the Sprint Showdown, the compelling story of the preliminary event was polesitter AJ Allmendinger's run from the back of the field to the second transfer spot after pitting with a flat tire coming to green at the start of the race.
Allmendinger took four tires during a pit stop between the Showdown's two 20-lap segments, and the new rubber paid off. After two cars dropped out between segments and three others went to the rear because of pit road penalties, Allmendinger restarted 13th. From the drop of the green flag on Lap 21, Allmendinger surged forward, finally passing Jamie McMurray for the second position with a hard run off Turn 2 on Lap 39 of 40. Allmendinger finished third in the fourth segment of the All-Star Race, but a four-tire call on the final pit stop dropped him to the back of the field. Allmendinger charged to 11th before time ran out. Jamie's real good—he knows how to get around this place," Allmendinger said. "He kept making sure he got good exit shots. Finally, he just got off the bottom a little bit. At that point, I wasn't going to lift. I didn't care if we all wreck, if I got into him or what. These guys on this Pennzoil Dodge, this Penske organization, they belong in this race. They deserve it more than I do. I was going to do everything I could to get ‘em in, or I was going to die trying." (NASCAR Wire Service)
Clint Bowyer Wins Burnout Challenge
After competing four previous Pennzoil Victory Burnout Challenge’s, Clint Bowyer emerged as the victor in Saturday night’s competition, earning $10,000 that will be donated to his charity of choice – Emporia Community Fund. The Pennzoil Victory Burnout Challenge is known as NASCAR’s version of a “slam dunk contest,” with the sport’s top talent showing off their post-win celebration abilities in classic NASCAR tire-smoking burnouts. This year’s format showcased five drivers burning rubber in identical cars prepared by the Richard Petty Driving Experience and had 30 seconds to execute and complete their respective runs. Fans at Charlotte Motor Speedway participated in a text-to-vote campaign where they voted by texting in specific codes that were placed on the World’s Largest HD Video Board and the top-two drivers advanced to the final voting round. The celebrity judging panel determined Bowyer as the 2012 winner who was awarded $10,000 for his designated charity, bragging rights and a guaranteed spot in the 2013 Pennzoil Victory Burnout Challenge.
In addition to Bowyer, this year’s all-star line-up included Shell-Pennzoil driver AJ Allmendinger, his Penske Racing teammate Brad Keselowski, 2010 burnout champion Joey Logano and 2011 event winner Kasey Kahne. In addition to NASCAR’s biggest names, three celebrities joined the Judges’ Panel for the Pennzoil Victory Burnout Challenge, including the host of History Channel’s TOP SHOT show Colby Donaldson, Survivor’s most recent winner Kim Spradlin and Miss Sprint Cup’s Jaclyn Roney. “It’s about time,” stated Bowyer after failing to be victorious in his four previous attempts. “I love competing in this event every year and I’m excited to finally win. My strategy was plain and simple – make the best donuts and the most amount of smoke. That’s what celebratory burnouts are all about.” “What’s pretty cool about this event is the fact that I got to carry my charity’s logo – Emporia Community Foundation – on the car and the $10,000 donated prize will certainly help them in their efforts. The trophy is pretty cool, too. I’m definitely going to display that in my dirt shop!” concluded Bowyer.
The fans selected Bowyer and Kahne as the top-two drivers who performed the best burnouts. Both Spradlin and Donaldson determined that Bowyer executed the best burnout while Miss Sprint Cup chose Kahne as the best performer.
Elliott Sadler On Nationwide Pole
Elliott Sadler has made the transition from forgettable finish to memorable start in one week. The NASCAR veteran suffered disappointment when a late wreck damaged his car and the chance for a third win last Friday at Darlington Raceway. He didn't wait long to put himself in position for another victory. Sadler claimed his second Coors Light Pole of the season, dashing to the fastest qualifying time Saturday for the NASCAR Nationwide Series Pioneer Hi-Bred 250 at Iowa Speedway. It is also his second pole in three career races at the 0.875-mile track. Sadler went from being one top drivers in practice to being the best when it counted. He recorded a fastest lap of 133.911 miles per hour, .6 seconds ahead of Sam Hornish Jr. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. rounded out the top three.
Pole position has to soothe the sting from last week's race when Joey Logano bumped Sadler during a restart with five laps left, sending Sadler into the outer wall and out of the race. He had to settle for 24th his worst finish of the season in front his mom, wife and other family members. Sadler has a brief but successful history at Iowa Speedway, placing in the top five of both 2011 Nationwide races, including the pole and a third-place finish last August for the U.S. Cellular 250. He was able to handle the track and the windy conditions that came into play on Turn 3. Hornish caught the wall on that turn. He wasn't blaming the conditions, but realized the hiccup may have cost him a spot. Hornish secured his fifth top-10 of the season and second in two appearances at Iowa Speedway. Filling in for Brad Keselowski in August, Hornish led 50 laps in Newton.
Things have worked out well for Stenhouse at Iowa Speedway, and that didn't change Saturday. Stenhouse posted a fast lap of 133.114. He liked his opening lap, slowing down after pressing too much on a slower second. The team made adjustments, but there is still work. It is his 10th start in the top-10 this season and gives him a shot at a third straight victory at Iowa Speedway, sweeping the Nationwide events here last year. He expects a fast and challenging field.
Lofton Wins His First Camping World Truck Series Race
With Brad Keselowski dogging him to the finish line, and with just enough fuel to make it to the end of the race, Justin Lofton held off Brad Keselowski to win Friday night's North Carolina Education Lottery 200 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Charlotte Motor Speedway. The victory was the first in the series for Lofton, who arrived at the finish line .261 seconds ahead of owner/driver Keselowski, who was trying to score his first NCWTS win. Lofton took over the series lead by one point over Timothy Peters. Todd Bodine ran third, followed by Jason Leffler and Ron Hornaday Jr. After the race Keselowski had a heated exchange with Hornaday, stemming from contact between their trucks on the next-to-last restart with nine laps left.
After a lackluster start to the race, when he quickly dropped from second to seventh in the space of three laps, Lofton began learning. "I had had terrible restarts all night," Lofton said after the race. "The truck was not bad on the very first start of the race -- I just had that bad a (start) and fell back that far. But the stars aligned, I figured out what I needed to do, and the best thing is, I outsmarted him (Keselowski). I think I had some help from Ron Hornaday, when he and Keselowski got in a little battle. Once I got out front (with four laps left), I knew I was OK. There was a short amount of laps left that I knew I could stay out front. I surprised myself, definitely."
Keselowski had just cleared Lofton for the lead entering Turn 1 on Lap 119 when Nelson Piquet Jr. caused caution for the second straight time when he pancaked his No. 30 Chevrolet against the Turn 1 wall. But Keselowski lost the lead on the restart on Lap 125 of 134 when Hornaday, who lined up behind him, ran into the back of his No. 19 Ram. To Keselowski, the contact was unjustified. "I came on the radio and asked him, 'Hey, man, I'll play it cool; just be nice and smooth, and we'll both have great days," Keselowski said of his communication with Hornaday before the restart. "Instead he decided to be a jackass and just run me over. And it cost him what would have been an easy second place, and then it obviously cost me the win, so we both lost out on the deal."
For Hornaday, who scored his first top-five finish with Joe Denette Motorsports, time was running short with just nine laps left. "They stopped and played jackrabbit," Hornaday said of Lofton and Keselowski, "and somebody got into the back of me, and I just had to go, too. Sorry about that to him, but we're all looking for spots -- and it's pretty cool for Joe Denette Motorsports to get a top five." --/-- Lofton held the lead when caution flew for the eighth time with four laps left for debris in the form of a bumper bar in the racing groove. Keselowski fell back on the restart and didn't have time to catch Lofton before the finish. (NASCAR Wire Service)
Kyle Busch On All-Star Pole
Kyle Busch and his crew had all three elements necessary to win the pole for Saturday night's NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race -- speed on the racetrack, speed on and off pit road and speed from the pit crew during the mandatory green-flag stop at Charlotte Motor Speedway. With a total time of one minute, 59.112 seconds (136.006 mph) over three laps and the pit stop, Busch edged Ryan Newman in Friday's time trials for the top starting spot in the race with a $1 miilion first prize. Newman (135.202 mph) went out second and was the only driver other than Busch to post a sub-two-minute qualifying effort (1:59.821). Fastest in Friday's practice, Busch was the last driver to make a qualifying attempt under the format unique to the All-Star Race. Denny Hamlin (134.811 mph) claimed the third starting position, followed by Cup points leader Greg Biffle (134.529 mph) and Kevin Harvick (134.304 mph).
Busch won his third All-Star pole but has never won the race. Neither has his team, Joe Gibbs Racing. Busch started from the top spot last year, but Carl Edwards took home the $1 million. Saturday's race will be contested in five segments, four of 20 laps each followed by a 10-lap dash to the finish. The winners of the first four segments enter the pits in the top four spots for a mandatory stop before the final segment. "We unloaded with a really fast racecar today," Busch said. "The guys made some minor changes to it to kind of feel it out and make it better where we could. The guys did a great job there with the pit stop, coming down pit road and changing four (tires) and then getting back out there and coming back to the line pretty quick. The rules change every year, so I guess this year you've got to make sure you win a segment, so you can at least have a shot at starting up front for the final segment."
Coming to the checkered flag, Kasey Kahne lost control of his No. 5 Chevrolet and slammed into the Turn 4 wall. Kahne did not post a qualifying time and will start from the rear of the field in a backup car. Kahne was on sticker tires after the mandatory pit stop. "I was just trying to get all I could and went a little too far," Kahne said. Dale Earnhardt Jr. (191.002 mph) will start third. In addition to the top two finishers in the Showdown, the winner of the Sprint Fan Vote will transfer to the All-Star Race.
AJ Allmendinger won the pole for Saturday's Sprint Showdown, which will send its top two finishers to the main event. Allmendinger covered the 1.5-mile distance in 28.057 seconds (192.465 mph) to beat Martin Truex Jr. (191.049 mph) for the top starting spot in the qualifying race. "For me, it was the perfect lap," said Allmendinger, who ran within inches of the Turn 4 wall on the money lap. "More than anything, the car stuck to the racetrack. We struggled a little bit in practice. The (car) had speed in it, but it wasn't really comfortable. "So (crew chief) Todd Gordon and the guys went to work, and I felt like that was as perfect as I could run a lap." (NASCAR Wire Service)