Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Josh Wise Ends Season with 12th-Place Finish in NAPA Toyota

// Courtesy : Autostock Images //

Homestead, FL – Josh Wise, driving the No. 00 NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota Camry, finished 12th place in the Nationwide Series season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. His rookie season was very respectable as it equated to one top-five and 13-top 25 finishes in just 17 starts. 

“I want to thank everyone at Michael Waltrip Racing and NAPA AUTO PARTS for allowing me to race tonight,” said Wise who started the 200-lap event in 30th position. “It was really fun out there. All the guys on the NAPA team did a great job. The pit stops were great. I just apprecate the great effort from everyone. It means a lot.”

When the race got underway, all eyes were on points leader Clint Bowyer and his closest challenger, Carl Edwards, as only 56 points were separating the two competitors. As for Wise, his focus was on getting a solid finish and he wasted no time as he raced his way up to 24th position by the time his first pit stop took place under green on lap 55. Crew chief Paul Wolfe called for a wedge adjustment to help loosen up the NAPA Toyota, along with a four tire change and the addition of fuel. 

A tight-handling condition challenged the NAPA team throughout most of the race. The team’s second stop happened under caution on lap 67. A track bar change was made. Wise returned to the track in 24th position, one lap down, respectively. Fortunately, the driver was able to race his way back into contention when he was awarded his lap back after the fourth caution of the race was thrown on lap 101. This time Wolfe called for a spring rubber to be pulled from the left rear of the NAPA Toyota. A four tire change and more fuel was added. Wise returned to the track in 21st place and Kyle Busch was the new leader.

Back on the lead lap, Wise was on a mission to move up the scoring pylon and did so in impressive fashion. The green flag waved on lap 149 and Wise was in 20th place. Eight laps later, the rookie had driven his NAPA Toyota up to 11th place. Sprint Cup Series regular Ryan Newman proved to be Wise’s toughest competitor. They went head-to-head for over 40 laps. Newman eventually prevailed, but Wise was right on his bumper when the checkered flag waved.

“I told my guys we had nothing to lose,” added Wise. “I am not sure what I am going to be doing next season so I went for it. I appreciate all the hard work my NAPA guys put in this weekend. It paid off in a fun ride out there tonight.”

Winning the event was Carl Edwards. His effort to overtake Bowyer for the championship fell short by just 21 points as Bowyer was able to hold on by finishing fifth. Rounding out the top-10 were Kyle Busch, Brad Keselowski, Jason Leffler, Bowyer, Scott Wimmer, Denny Hamlin, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kelly Bires and Joey Logano.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Season Comes To A Close For Wise and the No. 00 Napa Auto Parts Toyota Camry Team

// Courtesy : Autostock Images //

Homestead, FL (November 12, 2008) – Josh Wise reflects on his season in the NASCAR Nationwide Series as he approaches the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Saturday with the No. 00 NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota Camry team.

“Looking back, it has been a good year because I have learned so much thanks to Michael Waltrip Racing and Fitz Motorsports,” Wise said. “I only wish that we would have been in the position to run more Nationwide races with the No. 00 NAPA AUTO PA RT S Toyota . I have really enjoyed working with Paul Wolfe (crew chief) and everyone this year. It’s been a great experience and I’m so grateful that I have been able to race at this level and have such a great sponsor like NAPA on board these last few races.”  

There were many highlights for Wise in his 16 starts this year such as being credited with leading the race at Kentucky Speedway to finishing as high as fifth-place at O’Reilly Raceway Park in his 11th-career start. Overall, Wise recorded one top-five, one top-10, four top-15 and seven top-20 finishes. In two of the last three events, he earned top-15 finishes. He finished 13th and 11th at Dover International Speedway and Texas Motor Speedway, respectively. The Riverside , Calif. native was well on his way to a top-10 finish last weekend when he was involved in an accident that took him out of contention and was forced to settle for a 23rd-place finish at Phoenix International Raceway.

This weekend Wise feels like he still has a lot to prove as he takes his final ride in the No. 00 NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota at Homestead-Miami Speedway this season.

“I really want to finish out the year with a strong finish for NAPA and Michael Waltrip Racing,” Wise said. “We’ve had some races this season where our results did not equal our performance. We’re capable of running well, but we’ve been in situations where we’ve been caught up in a couple accidents that we were not able to avoid. We just have to finish this weekend and somehow be more evasive. Ultimately, you always want to win every race, but if we can run up front and finish in the top-10 or top-five on Saturday, it will be good day for us and a nice way to end our abbreviated season.”

Live coverage of the NASCAR Nationwide Series event is on Saturday, November 15th on ESPN 2 begins at 4 p.m. ET and 4:30 p.m. ET on MRN Radio.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Top-10 Finish Escapes Wise After Collected in Accident at Phoenix

// Courtesy : Autostock Images //

Avondale, AZ (November 8, 2008) – Josh Wise was on the path to a Top-10 NASCAR Nationwide Series finish, but was forced to settle for a 23rd-place finish after his No. 00NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota Camry suffered damage on a restart at lap 84.

“They were stacking up in front of me and the No. 64 car ran into the back of me,” Wise said. “We all got bunched up and I had no where to go and slammed into the back of the No. 20 car. I wasn’t sure if something broke in the rear-end or if the right rear tire was flat. We were lucky because it was the right rear. The guys made a solid stop changing tires and pulling out the fender to get me back out on the track in good shape.”

The 25-year-old made an impressive qualifying run Saturday morning before the start of the 201-lap event earning a top-10 (10th-place) starting position in his first time racing a stock car at Phoenix International Raceway. As the green flag waved for the Hefty Odor Block 200, Wise maintained a top-14 spot while he was battling tight handling conditions.

“The NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota was tight in the center and on throttle,” Wise said.

During the first caution of the race at lap 22, Wise entered pit road in 11th-place for tires and adjustments. On Lap 27, Wise restarted 14th and his teammate David Reutimann was one position ahead of him. Nine laps later Reutimann hit the outside retaining wall hard enough to cause steering problems for his No. 99 Best Western Toyota and a flat tire that brought out the next caution.

On the restart at lap 44, Wise was 12th with his eyes set on the top 10. While running in 11th-place on lap 64, another caution occurred allowing the No. 00 NAPA AUTO PA RT S Toyota team to work on the car. Wise had just reported that he needed to be freer up off throttle when the caution came out.

The Riverside , Calif. native went to work on lap 70 still holding onto his top-15 position when the caution flag waved four laps later. As the field took the green on lap 78, multiple cars ahead of Wise were involved in an accident. As the dust settled, Wise was ninth and he needed to get through the center a little bit freer. 
On the next restart at lap 84, Wise fell victim when several cars ahead of him stacked up and he ran into the back of the No. 20 car of Joey Logano and the No. 64 car of David Stremme slammed into the back of his No. 00 NAPA AUTO PA RT S Toyota Camry.

The damage was severe enough to take Wise out of contention for his first NASCAR Nationwide Series victory. Carl Edwards won the event and is in mathematical contention of defending his Nationwide Series title. Points leader Clint Bowyer is 56 points ahead of Edwards.

Denny Hamlin finished second, Kevin Harvick was third, followed by Clint Bowyer and Kyle Busch rounding out the top-five.

Next week, Wise is back behind the No. 00 NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Live coverage of the NASCAR Nationwide Series event on Saturday, November 15th on ESPN 2 begins at 4 p.m. ET and 4:30 p.m. ET on MRN Radio.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Wise Returns to His Roots Before Nationwide Race at Phoenix

// Courtesy : Autostock Images //

Avondale, AZ (November 5, 2008) – Josh Wise enters Phoenix International Raceway with Michael Waltrip Racing to compete in the NASCAR Nationwide Series event following a strong 11th-place finish at Texas Motor Speedway in the No. 00 NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota Camry.

"I have raced at Phoenix in open wheel cars, but never in a stock car," Wise said. "Nothing really applies from racing open wheel there, other than being able to see the track. It does make me more comfortable because I have seen the place before and I know where the bumps are. From a driving perspective, I will have to learn how to drive a stock car there just like other places I've been to this year."

Before Wise climbs behind the wheel of the No. 00 NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota , he returns to his roots. The 2005 USAC National Midget Car Series Champion will race a Toyota-powered Midget numbered 75 for Cruz Pedregon in a 25-mile USAC National Midget Car Series feature during the traditional Copper World Classic at Phoenix International Raceway Thursday night.

"I'm pumped up because I haven't been able to race a Midget all year," Wise said. "I've been focusing on my stock car career. Growing up, I started racing Quarter Midgets, which are like go-karts you just raced on oval tracks. I stayed in that direction with open wheel racing most of my life up until a few years ago. I raced Sprint cars and Midgets on the West Coast with my family and eventually ended up moving to Indianapolis to drive for Tony Stewart with his open wheel team for three years."

One day out of the blue in 2004, Wise received a random call from Tony Stewart asking him to relocate from California to Indianapolis to drive for Tony Stewart Enterprises.

"Believe it or not, I was sitting on my coach and randomly got a call from him," Wise said. "For some reason, I recognized his voice and I was a little in shock. I was having success racing with my family and a few other rides out west. We won some big Midget races that year. When Tony asked me to move to Indy to drive for him, it was a big turning point in my career. I never thought it would get this far. I'm grateful I am at this level in NASCAR and I am trying to make the best of it."

Stewart recently stated, "The better cars you put Josh in, the more talent you're going to see out of him, and I think there is a lot more than what everybody has seen so far. It's just a matter of time before he gets a chance to show truly what he is made of."

The two-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion was Wise's hero growing up. In the early 90's, the Riverside , Calif. native had a chance to ask Stewart for his autograph at Perris Auto Speedway in Perris , California .

"It's really funny now that I look back," Wise said. "When I was nine or ten years old, my parents and I were at a Midget race. I used to always wear a No. 9 hat, which was the number Midget he used to drive. I tracked him down in the pits one night and asked him to sign my hat because he was my hero. He did and my parents still have it. Low and behold, he probably would have never guessed at that time that I would be driving his race cars 10 years later. He was the guy I looked up to and to drive for him meant the world to me."

Wise followed in Stewart's footsteps and was successful. Some of his many accomplishments included becoming the 2005 USAC National Midget Champion and the 2006 USAC National Sprint Car Series champion. Wise also earned a runner-up finish in the USAC Silver Crown point standings and Rookie of the Year honors. Win after win and multiple championships led Wise to seek a new challenge in the NASCAR ranks.

"I had a lot of success with Tony and was starting to get interest from several NASCAR teams," Wise said. "I spent time in Charlotte to explore what options were real and Michael Waltrip Racing was one of them. I was intrigued by what MWR was putting together. Michael Waltrip is an awesome race car driver, an awesome guy and owner. It was something I really wanted to be a part of. After I visited the shop, I knew I wanted to be there. They told me they would give me seat time in different types of race cars."

The 25-year-old made his NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series debut with Darrell Waltrip Motorsports at Kansas Speedway in 2007 and earned two top-10 finishes in only nine starts. Michael Waltrip was instrumental in Wise's debut and also helped align him with Fitz Motorsports to make his first NASCAR Nationwide Series start last season. Wise's career-best finish is fifth-place at O'Reilly Raceway Park this season with Fitz Motorsports. Wise has now moved to the No. 00 NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota and has raced twice for MWR with two races remaining.

"I feel 100% right now," Wise said. "Now, I have a lot of seat time at several tracks. I keep checking them off the list. I'm glad I will be seeing a lot of these places for a second time next year. I will know what I need to be successful. I'm really looking forward to these last two events and performing well."

Live coverage of the Hefty Odor Block 200 at Phoenix International Raceway will air on ESPN2 at 4 p.m. ET and MRN Radio at 4:30 p.m. ET.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Josh Wise Drives the NAPA Toyota to 11th Place in Nationwide Race

// Courtesy : Autostock Images //

Fort Worth, TX – Josh Wise, driving the No. 00 NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota Camry, finished 11th place during his first Nationwide Series event at Texas Motor Speedway in his 16th-career start. The result was impressive especially since he started the 300-mile race in 29th position.

“I really wanted a top-10,” said Wise after the race concluded. “But we are getting better as a team so I am looking forward to the final two races of the season. I learned a lot here today and I hope I get the opportunity to come back to this place.

“The biggest challenge during the race was my NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota Camry was tight on exit. We worked on it and made some gains.”

“Josh did a great job today,” said crew chief Paul Wolfe. “He came all the way from the back and had a shot at a top 10 finish. Our goal was for him to keep all the fenders on the car and drive a smart race. He certainly did that. Everyone on this NAPA team did a good job. The guys in the pits got the job done too. It was a good day all around.”

Wise started the 200-lap event in 29th position and wasted no time in making his way up through the field. By the time the first caution was thrown on lap 49, the driver had gained eight positions. Wise told his crew chief to just tune on the car as he needed the most help on exit because his Toyota was tight. Spring rubber and air pressure adjustments were made on lap 50. When Wise returned to the track, he was in 18th position and Kyle Busch took over the lead from pole-sitter, Carl Edwards.

Adjustments made during the first service were not to the driver’s liking. Despite the challenges in handling, the NAPA Toyota was able to climb into 15th position, one lap down to the leader. The next opportunity to adjust the car came under caution on lap 115. The crew made a track bar change and Wise was in line for the “Lucky Dog” award. This time when the race went back to green, Wise had the get up and go he needed. The NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota was producing speeds as fast as the leader.

The NAPA team’s big break came on lap 149 when the caution was thrown for debris. Wise was awarded his lap back and for the remainder of the race, he was in contention for a top-10 finish. The 25-year-old driver almost got his wish, but David Stremme passed him for the 10th spot shortly after the final restart and was able to keep Wise at bay.

Dominating the event was Kyle Busch. His victory was his 10th of the season which matches a season record set by Sam Ard back in 1983. Rounding out the top-10 finishers were Edwards, Mark Martin, Joey Logano, David Ragan, Clint Bowyer, Brad Keselowski, David Reutimann, Marcos Ambrose and David Stremme.

Next up for the Nationwide Series is the Hefty Odor Block 200 at Phoenix International Raceway. Broadcast coverage starts at 4 p.m. Eastern on ESPN2 and MRN radio.