Thursday, July 30, 2009

AARON’S NASCAR DREAM MACHINES TO FEATURE AARON’S OUTDOORS, MOSSY OAK BRAND CAMO PAINT SCHEMES


ATLANTA, GA (July 30, 2009) - Aaron’s, Inc. of Atlanta, GA (NYSE: AAN), the Aaron’s Outdoors television program and Mossy Oak Brand Camo have teamed together to produce a unique marketing campaign that features specialty paint schemes on three NASCAR racecars and a national register-to-win sweepstakes. Aaron’s will replace its familiar Aaron’s Dream Machine paint schemes with Mossy Oak patterned camouflage and prominently feature the Aaron’s Outdoors logo on the hood and TV panel of the racecars. To help promote the special paint schemes, Aaron’s has also developed a national register-to-win sweepstakes that will award nine grand prize winners camouflaged replica race helmets, each autographed by the three drivers who will pilot the cars.

Aaron’s has had ownership in the Aaron’s Outdoor television program since 2007 and this campaign will promote the partnership of the Aaron’s Outdoors, Aaron’s motorsports teams and Mossy Oak Brand Camo. It is designed to appeal to avid and casual outdoorsmen and NASCAR fans.

The first of these special paint schemes will premiere on the Michael Waltrip Racing (MWR) No. 00 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Aaron’s Dream Machine driven by David Reutimann at Atlanta Motor Speedway on September 6, 2009. The paint scheme will again be featured on the R3 Motorsports No. 23 NASCAR Nationwide Series racecar driven by Ken Butler III at Lowe’s Motor Speedway on October 16. The final paint scheme can be seen on the MWR NASCAR Nationwide Series No. 99 driven by Trevor Bayne at Texas Motor Speedway on November 7.

In addition to featuring the special paint schemes on the racecars, the program will include a national register-to-win sweepstakes offering fans a chance to win one of nine replica race helmets featuring Mossy Oak Brand camouflage and autographed by each of the three drivers. Registration for the sweepstakes begins July 30 and ends on Nov. 4. An independent judging organization will choose three winners the week before each featured race.

The specialized racecars and helmet sweepstakes will be promoted through a combination of television, radio and print advertising along with a comprehensive Internet program all designed to drive fans to learn more about Aaron’s and register for the sweepstakes on the
www.shopaarons.com/camocontest website.

“Our involvement with the Aaron’s Outdoors television program has been beneficial in communicating Aaron’s business model to the casual and avid outdoorsmen and we are proud to develop this program and combine the Mossy Oak camouflage pattern with our racecars,” said Robin Loudermilk, Chief Executive Officer, Aaron’s, Inc. “Aaron’s knows that our customers and associates enjoy the outdoors and that when they get home, they also enjoy top-quality name-brand furniture, appliances, electronics and computers that are available at Aaron’s. We believe this program will be a hit with race fans, as well as those who hunt and fish.”

“I’m thrilled to be the first to run the Aaron’s Outdoors/Mossy Oak Brand ‘Tree Stand’ Camo paint scheme on the No. 00 Aaron’s Dream Machine at Atlanta Motor Speedway in September,” said driver David Reutimann. “For a majority of fans, being outdoors is just as popular as attending their favorite NASCAR race weekend, so partnering with Aaron’s Outdoors and Mossy Oak Brand is going to be an exciting experience for everyone.”

“I am so grateful to Aaron’s and Mossy Oak Brand Camo who allow me to bring family traditions into your home though our Aaron’s Outdoors television program,” stated Jarrod Brannon, host of Aaron’s Outdoors. “Having this Aaron’s Outdoors /Mossy Oak special paint scheme on David Reutimann’s No. 00 NASCAR Cup Series racecar at Atlanta Motor Speedway is truly a dream come true for me. And with the camo race helmet sweepstakes supporting the race cars, I believe race fans and outdoorsmen will really relate to this program. I can’t wait to see this car on the high banks of Atlanta Motor Speedway.”


About Aaron’s, Inc.
Aaron’s, Inc. (NYSE: AAN), the nation’s leader in the sales and lease ownership and specialty retailing of residential and office furniture, consumer electronics, home appliances and accessories, has more than 1,615 Company-operated and franchised stores in 48 states and Canada. Founded in 1955 by entrepreneur R. Charles Loudermilk, Sr. and headquartered in Atlanta, Aaron’s has been publicly traded since 1982.

About Aaron’s Outdoors Television
Aaron's Outdoors TV is featured on CSS and the Pursuit Channel with host, Jarrod Brannen. Jarrod, along with his wife and five children, bring viewers an up close and personal look to some of North America's best game and fishing opportunities. By visiting their website,
www.aaronsoutdoorstv.com, you can learn more about the show and how the Brannen Family continues to make time for traditions.

About Mossy Oak Brand Camo
Mossy Oak/Haas Outdoors Inc. Haas Outdoors Inc., headquartered in West Point, Miss., was established in 1986 and is home of Mossy Oak (
www.mossyoak.com). Mossy Oak specializes in developing and marketing modern camouflage designs for hunters and outdoorsmen. Mossy Oak patterns can be found on a multitude of products worldwide. Haas Outdoors Inc. is the outdoor industry leader in modern camouflage design, international licensing and marketing. Haas Outdoors Inc. markets its services and products under widely recognized brands including: Mossy Oak, BioLogic, Mossy Oak Productions, Mossy Oak Interactive, LLC, Nativ Nursery and Mossy Oak Properties.

David Reutimann - Pennsylvania 500 Preview


Confidence heading into Pocono:
"I have confidence that we should run well this weekend. We ran in the top ten at Pocono all day long a couple of months ago and Rodney made a great call, which helped us grab three or four more spots. So, it's a combination in having confidence in the Aaron's Dream Machine and my team to make awesome calls throughout the day."

Mindset of a driver at a track like Pocono where fuel mileage is often an issue:

"You always know which tracks are more prone to becoming fuel mileage races but your plan stays the same, so basically you just run your race. Eventually, if it comes down to fuel mileage, Rodney will let me know and we'll do the best we can. I don't focus on that, I put trust in Rodney and the other Aaron's team members to figure out when we should pit and how much fuel it will take to cross the checkered flag."

Whether you think about the other guys "on the bubble" during the race:

"I'm definitely racing the other guys each week because their usually the ones up front, so I kind of have to. I try not to worry about it though and just focus on each spot ahead of me during the race."

In the past an 8th place finish at Indy would have been cause for a huge celebration. But now, while you acknowledged it as a good overall day you don't seem content with top-ten finishes. Describe the change in perspective from last year:

"Well, a top-ten is good but you don't get remembered for top-tens - you get remembered for wins and championships. I know we're capable of running up front each weekend, so even though we can smile about a solid top-ten we aim for something better."

Goals for this weekend at Pocono:

We made small gains last week at Indy, so we look to do the same this weekend. Another solid top-ten puts the pressure on the others around me and you never know – if a few other guys have bad luck and we're right there."

2009 NSCS Points Standings: David Reutimann is currently in 13th, 68 points behind 12th place.

Chassis Information: The No. 00 Aaron’s Dream Machine for Pocono Raceway is chassis No. 628 - this chassis has competed in five races in 2009 and has recorded three top-tens, including a 3rd here at Pocono and a 4th at Loudon in June.

Race Information: Watch the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in action on Sunday, August 2 in the Sunoco Red Cross Pennsylvania 500 at Pocono Raceway. Race coverage begins at 1:00 p.m. ET on ESPN.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Ambrose Fishing for Victory at Pocono


LONG POND, Penn. (July 28, 2009) – Marcos Ambrose has scored three top-10s in the last seven races and one of those events includes the Pocono 500 where he finished sixth in June at Pocono Raceway.

“We delivered a strong top-10 finish at Pocono earlier this season,” Ambrose said. “Our package was good and we are making it better from what we learned. This weekend we have a great looking new design on our Toyota Camry with iRacing.com to help create awareness about their internet-based racing service to fans. We are looking to deliver a strong finish for them.

On Tuesday, iRacing.com - a motorsport simulation company - announced they will serve as a single-event primary sponsor for the JTG-Daugherty Racing No. 47 Toyota Camry entry during the Sunoco Red Cross Pennsylvania 500.

“Our partnership with Marcos to help introduce iRacing to Australia and New Zealand has gone extremely well,” said Steve Myers, iRacing’s executive producer. “So, when this opportunity with his NASCAR team, JTG Daugherty Racing, became available, we jumped at it. With NASCAR-sanctioned online racing being introduced to the iRacing service in less than six months, this seemed like a great way to introduce ourselves to the more than 80,000 NASCAR fans who will attend the race in person and the several million more who will be watching on ESPN.”

Ambrose is optimistic about returning to Pocono Raceway this time with iRacing.com and looks to build on his two top-five and five top-10 finishes.

“I’m optimistic, but I was when we started the race at Indy (Indianapolis Motor Speedway) too and we did not have the finish we desired,” said Ambrose, who finished 22nd. “We’ve learned there are no guarantees in this business, but this has been a strong year for us. Every good event we have from here on out will be a bonus. We are just looking for that breakout race though. Who knows when it is going to happen? It could be Pocono or it could be Watkins Glen International. You just never know.”

“We did miss a chance at Indy,” Ambrose continued. “We qualified 11th and ran inside the top-15 and then it somehow slipped through our fingers. At the end of the race, I’m racing back there racing for a 21st or 22nd-place finish with Jamie McMurray and you know he’s no slouch. Our sport is just that tough.”

Sitting 254 points out of 12th-place in the championship points standings, Ambrose knows where he stands in The Race to the Chase with six races remaining.

“It’s slipping away a little bit,” Ambrose said. “I’m looking at the cars in front of us and it’s virtually impossible to gain points on them. They are all running well and they’ve got experience and momentum on their side. We just want to focus on our job and keep finishing in the top-10 and see how it plays out. We have an outside shot at the very best. For me, I’m going into Pocono and Watkins Glen to win it. If we win a race, things may look different. We are just focused on race by race.”

Ambrose does not want to think about points.

“I don’t want to think about points my first year in NASCAR,” Ambrose said. “For me in racing, the more I think about it, the worse I go. I just put my helmet on and I don’t get ahead of myself. I look back at my previous racing in Europe when I would qualify fifth and wake up in the middle of the night thinking how I was going to pass them all in Turn 1. Then I would start the race and end up taking all four wheels off of it thinking that was really a stupid idea. From those early days of learning about racing, you can’t predict anything that happens around you. You have to drive in the moment. That’s what I try to do. I don’t get bogged down with points or strategy. I just drive it as fast as I can.

“This sport is easy to let the highs get too high and the lows get too low and then you start worrying about the wrong stuff,” Ambrose continued. “It’s all about race by race, lap by lap and driving it as fast as you can and see how it works out.”

To free his mind from worry, Ambrose is adventurous and this weekend at Pocono it is no different.

“I hope I’m here next week because I have a Marcos Ambrose outdoor adventure special in Pocono,” Ambrose said. “The last time we went to Pocono we went trout finishing and we couldn’t find good spots because we didn’t have access. So, this trip I’ve actually bought two $20 rafts from the sporting store and we are going to float down from one bridge to the next. The problem is, they are $20 rafts with a 200 pound frame. I’m not confident I’m going to make it before I put a hole in it. If I don’t make it back, you know why. Having a canoe is too professional. I like to do it the hardest way possible.”

Live coverage of the Sunoco Red Cross Pennsylvania 500 on Sunday, August 2nd begins at 1 p.m. Eastern on ESPN. Also, MRN and Sirius XM Satellite Radio will air the event live.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Michael Waltrip - Pennsylvania 500 Preview


NAPA RACING PRESS BOX FEATURING MICHAEL WALTRIP


You have had success at Pocono Raceway. It has a challenging layout. What does it take to run well there?

“It is a lot of fun to drive. You have the big, long front straightaway. It has a nice high-banked first turn. Then there is the tunnel turn and when you go through there, you are going so fast that it seems extremely flat. That’s what I like. You go from a high-banked turn into a flat one. Then the third turn is even flatter yet. They put a patch of new pavement around the top of the third turn that drivers will go up there to try and get more grip.

“If you have a good car during the race, it is because you can go down low and find enough grip to pass someone up there on the patch. The key to Pocono is being able to go wherever you need to go. You have to adjust your line and be able to drive your car wherever the competition isn’t because it makes it really hard to pass a guy if you are following them. Pocono Raceway is just really fun to drive.”

For teams that ran well at Indianapolis, is it safe to say that they have a decent shot at running well at Pocono?

“I don’t think you can necessarily count on that. In the past, you could maybe think that, but now I don’t believe it is the case because of the splitter and how difficult it is run the splitter as low to the ground as possible. At Indy, the track is so smooth. It is easier to get the splitter close to the ground. But at Pocono, it has a lot of bumps and you are still trying to do the same thing. It is pretty hard to get it to match up at Pocono.”

When you first saw the track, what was your impression especially of Turn 1 and the long, front straightaway?

“When I was about 21 years old, I remember watching the drivers go into Turn 1 and they went in there for what seemed like forever. The drivers were wide open all the way into the middle of the corner. It was a learning experience watching. I went on to try it. When I finally caught my breath about an inch away from the wall, I thought to myself how different sound travels. The sound was a little bit delayed. I have had a bunch of fun times at Pocono. I’ve had some great races up there. I finished second in 1998.”


Michael Waltrip Fast Facts
  • NAPA AUTO PARTS driver Michael Waltrip will be competing in his 745th NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race when the 21st event of the 2009 Sprint Cup season, the Pennsylvania 500, gets underway at Pocono Raceway in Pocono, Pa.

  • Waltrip will start in his 47th Cup race at the 2.5-mile track. His best start is first in the NAPA machine (June 12, 2005) and best finish is second (June 19, 1988). In total, he has three top-five and six top-10 finishes at Pocono.

  • Waltrip has completed 7,947 of 9,108 laps (87.3%) at the track and has led a total of 64 laps in competition. His average start and finish is 22nd.

  • Earlier this season at Pocono, Michael Waltrip Racing and its alliance with JTG-Daugherty Racing had a very respectable day at the Pocono 500. David Reutimann and Marcos Ambrose finished third and sixth place. NAPA AUTO PARTS driver Michael Waltrip rallied back from problems on pit road to persevere to a 17th-place finish.

  • The NAPA AUTO PARTS team is guaranteed a starting spot in Sunday’s Pennsylvania 500. The team is 31st in the owner points standings.

Trevor Bayne - US Cellular 250 Preview


NOTES:

  • This week’s No. 99 Aaron’s Dream Machine Toyota at Iowa Speedway … Trevor Bayne will pilot Chassis No. 052 from the Michael Waltrip Racing NASCAR Nationwide Series stable this weekend at Iowa Speedway. A new chassis for the 2009 season that Bayne drove at Nashville Superspeedway. The Knoxville, Tenn., native qualified this No. 99 Aaron’s Dream machine second and was involved in an incident just past the halfway point and finished 28th.

  • Nationwide Stats … In seven NNS starts, the 18-year-old driver has a 9.4 starting average coupled with a 17.3 finishing average. He has completed 1,454 of the 1,574 total laps run this season.

  • Iowa Series Debut … This weekend the Nationwide Series rolls into Iowa Speedway for the inaugural NNS race at the .875-mile track, as Bayne jumps behind the wheel of the No. 99 Aaron’s Dream Machine Toyota. In 2008, Bayne competed in the NASCAR Camping World East Series race. The rookie driver stared sixth and finished third.

  • Vote, Vote, Vote … Go to www.nascar.com and cast your votes for Bayne as the 2009 Most Popular Driver of the Year Award. Fans may vote or submit a write-in candidate once per day and are encouraged to vote throughout the season. Voting ends Oct. 31 for the NNS. Results will be announced at each of the respective series’ season-end banquets.

  • After 20 … Over the season’s first 20 races, the No. 99 team has notched four top-10 and 11 top-15 finishes. The MWR team sits 16th in the owners’ point standings. They are only 76 points behind the No. 27 entry owned by Mike Curb in 15th.

  • Online with the Times … To keep up with the latest news and information about Bayne visit his official website at www.trevorbayne.com. For minute-to-minute info about Bayne and the rest of the MWR crew, check out www.twitter.com/aaronssports.

  • Meet the Press … Bayne will be available inside the Iowa Speedway infield media center Sat., July 31 at 2:45 p.m. local time to field questions from the gathered media.

  • Autograph Signing … Bayne will sign autographs on Sat., Aug. 1 from 10 – 11 a.m. local time under the Manatt Grandstand at the north end of the Iowa Speedway concourse.

  • Race Broadcast Information … The US Cellular 250 will be televised live on ESPN Sat., Aug. 1 beginning at 4 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time. The race will also broadcast worldwide on the Motor Racing Network and Sirius XM Satellite Radio beginning at 3:30 p.m. EDT. Qualifying for the 21st event of the 2009 NNS season will air on ESPN2, the same day, at 1 p.m. EDT. MRN and Sirius XM Satellite Radio will also air live updates of time trials.

TREVOR BAYNE QUOTE:

What are your thoughts on racing at Iowa Speedway?
“I am actually pretty excited to final go to a track that I have raced on before. I raced the Hooter Pro Cup and Camping World East cars there before. I have been able to pick up some solid finishes and I think I am going into this race with a lot more confidence. I also think we can be a little more aggressive on the initial set-up than being so conservative with the car at the beginning and having to free it up all day. I think we can go there with something like what he’d (Jerry Baxter, crew chief) take David Reutimann to the take with and just go out and try to bust off some laps early.”

Do you think Thursday’s initial test/practice at Iowa is important to the teams?
“A lot of these drivers have been to that track in ARCA, Hooter Pro Cup or the Camping World East/West Series. For the teams, I think it is crucial because I don’t know how many of them got to test there. I’m sure a few of them did before the NASCAR testing policy because that was a good track to go test. For teams that haven’t been there at all it’s going to be very crucial because they don’t have the five or six years of notes to go back on. It’s going to be kind of a guessing game for what the track is going to do for the race. No one knows if it’s going to tighten up or free up or just gain more grip as the night goes on. I think you’ll see a lot more adjustments as the race goes on.”

iRacing, Marcos Ambrose and JTG Daugherty Team Up for Pocono NASCAR Race


BEDFORD, MA (July 28, 2009) – The JTG Daugherty Racing #47 Toyota Camry, driven by Australia’s Marcos Ambrose, will race under iRacing.com colors in this weekend’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Sunoco Red Cross Pennsylvania 500 at Pocono International Raceway. The announcement of the single-event tie-up between the race team and the motorsport simulation company, which had been widely rumored, was made today by Steve Myers, iRacing’s executive producer, and Tad Geschickter, co-owner of JTG Daugherty Racing.

“Our partnership with Marcos to help introduce iRacing to Australia and New Zealand has gone extremely well,” said Myers. “So, when this opportunity with his NASCAR team, JTG Daugherty Racing, became available, we jumped at it. With NASCAR-sanctioned online racing being introduced to the iRacing service in less than six months, this seemed like a great way to introduce ourselves to the more than 80,000 NASCAR fans who will attend the race in person and the several million more who will be watching on ESPN.”

Ambrose has racked up four top-10 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series finishes so far, including a third-place on the Infineon road course at Sonoma, CA, and a sixth-place finish earlier this summer at Pocono. Last year Ambrose scored the team’s first-ever NASCAR Nationwide Series, taking the checkered flag at Watkins Glen.

“We are a sponsor-focused race team, and we’re eager to show the folks at iRacing what that means,” said Geschickter. “Perhaps they’re only joining us for a single race, but we know that Marcos has a close relationship with iRacing and we’re eager to show them what we can do to help them get the word out to NASCAR fans about how much fun it is to race with other fans and professional racing drivers on iRacing’s internet-based racing service.”

While NASCAR-sanctioned racing won’t begin on the iRacing service until early next year, iRacing has already introduced exact digital duplicates of the vehicles raced in NASCAR’s Camping World Truck Series, Nationwide Series and Sprint Cup Series, that perform exactly as their real-world counterparts do. In addition, iRacing has built, is building or is negotiating to produce digital versions of all the tracks on the current NASCAR Sprint Cup Series schedule. The use of survey-quality laser scanning and proprietary data-processing yields tracks with millimeter-accuracy and an online experience that is as real as possible and virtually as much fun as driving the car in the physical world.

Myers noted that in celebration of the Pocono sponsorship, iRacing is making a special offer for new subscribers, a $25.00 (half-price) three-month subscription to the service, which includes all of the cars and tracks necessary for oval and road-racing rookie and advanced rookie seasons. “Plus, we’re throwing in the NASCAR Sprint Cup car,” for free Myers said. “That’s an additional $15.00 value.”

According to Myers, while the virtual version of Pocono International Raceway is not yet quite ready to be made available to subscribers to the iRacing service, work is quite advanced and iRacing has been able to supply Ambrose with a pre-release version so that he can get in as many practice laps as necessary before he pulls out of the pits and onto the real-world version of the track.

"I will be getting a head start on the competition by practicing on iRacing before heading to the track to try and get every advantage I can," Ambrose said. “Making sure I’m fully up to speed the first time I roll out of the pits on Friday means that we’ll have more laps to focus on getting the car absolutely right.”

Myers noted that Pocono is unique among the ovals where NASCAR competes in that the track has three distinctly different turns – different banking and radius for each one – making it a particularly challenging one to learn. “In that way, Pocono is kind of like the road courses at Watkins Glen and Sonoma, but with all left-hand turns.”

So no one should be surprised to see Ambrose sitting in a simulator next to the JTG Daugherty Racing hauler in the garage area when his iRacing car isn’t on the track. He’ll just be getting ready for the next practice or qualifying session.


About JTG Daugherty
JTG Daugherty Racing is a sponsor-focused race team that runs both NASCAR Nationwide and Sprint Cup entries. By combining the full-service marketing expertise of ST Motorsports and JTG Daugherty’s extensive racing experience, it is uniquely equipped to drive sponsor’s business. The company’s industry-leading client-retention rate is a testament to its commitment to building partnerships and delivering value.

About iRacing.com
iRacing.com was founded in September of 2004 by Dave Kaemmer and John Henry. Kaemmer was co-founder of Papyrus Design Group, developers of award-winning racing simulations including NASCAR Racing: 2003 Season and Grand Prix Legends. Henry is principal owner of the Boston Red Sox and Fenway Sports Group – the co-owner of Roush Fenway Racing – as well as an avid simracer. The iRacing team combines more than 100 years of real-world racing experience with more than 50 years of successful racing simulation development. The company has developed numerous corporate relationships in the motorsport industry, including agreements to develop track simulations with International Speedway Corporation, Speedway Motorsports, and Panoz Motor Sports Group and vehicles with General Motors, Riley Technologies, Radical Sportscars, and 600 Racing. iRacing is the official simulation partner of the Sports Car Club of America, Volkswagen Jetta TDI Cup, Star Mazda Championship, Skip Barber Racing School and Australia’s V8 Super School. Most recently iRacing and NASCAR have announced a partnership to develop NASCAR-sanctioned online racing series. The iRacing service is open to racers and fans of all skill levels from top-level pros to complete beginners. To join in the fun, go to www.iRacing.com.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Ambrose Crosses Finish Line 22nd at The Brickyard


INDIANAPOLIS (July 27, 2009) – It was one year ago that JTG-Daugherty Racing made their first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series start at Indianapolis Motor Speedway with Marcos Ambrose. On Sunday, Ambrose drove his No. 47 Little Debbie® Toyota Camry to a 22nd-place finish in the 16th running of the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard while he held on to 18th-place in the championship standings.

On Saturday, the 32-year-old had a strong qualifying effort that placed him in the sixth row. Ambrose was close to snatching a top-10 starting spot when he posted the 11th fastest time. The next day, Mark Martin led the 43 car field to the green flag for the 160-lap event as Indianapolis Motor Speedway continued to commemorate its Centennial Era.

Moments after the green flag waved, Robbie Gordon spun around on the first lap to bring out the first caution of the race. Ambrose had positioned his JTG-Daugherty Racing entry inside the top-10. The field quickly returned to green flag racing and by Lap 10 the handling of Ambrose’s car was loose in, tight in the middle and loose off.

“Also the right rear was giving up,” Ambrose said. “The car needed grip.”

Ambrose slipped outside the top 10, but maintained a top-15 run before he pitted on Lap 30 for four tires, a wedge and air pressure adjustment.

“The changes were a little too much, we needed to go back some on them,” Ambrose said. “We were looser center off and I couldn’t get in the corner like I needed to.”

Even though he was communicating to his crew chief Frank Kerr he needed more help, Ambrose was almost as fast as leader Juan Pablo Montoya on Lap 51. Montoya ran a 53.21 (seconds) and Ambrose was a 53.27 (seconds). Kerr knew they were in the ballpark if they could get a handle on the car because at times Ambrose was faster than the leader.

On Lap 57 under caution, Kerr called for the pit crew to put the wedge back and also to changing four tires.

“We were loose on entry, but the car seemed to get better when the fuel burned,” Ambrose said.

Upon restarting 13th on Lap 62, Ambrose came over the radio and said they still needed to tighten up the car.

“We were still loose in,” Ambrose said.

He was scored in 19th-place as Tasmania, Australia native drove down pit road for his next green flag pit stop for four fresh tires and more adjustments. The entry was better after the changes and the Little Debbie® Toyota was not as loose, but the car still needed to be slightly tightened up.

The JTG-Daugherty crew continued their work on Lap 125 under green again. When a caution happened two laps later, it gave them another opportunity to rectify the handling problems.

“I thought at first I had a flat,” Ambrose said. “So, I came in and they changed four tires. I came in a couple times so they could take a couple rounds of wedge out and unhook the rear bar.”

Once all the adjustments were made, Ambrose restarted 25th on Lap 136 as Mark Martin led the field to the restart while eventual winner Jimmie Johnson was in second-place, Greg Biffle in third, Tony Stewart in fourth and Kasey Kahne in fifth.

After the service, Ambrose was good to go to the end. With 20 laps to go, he was 23rd. As the laps winded down he was able to gain another position to go on to finish 22nd in the 20th NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event of the season.

This week Ambrose and his JTG-Daugherty Racing team return to Pocono Raceway where he posted a sixth-place finish. Live coverage of the Sunoco Red Cross Pennsylvania 500 on Sunday, August 2nd begins at 1 p.m. Eastern on ESPN. Also, MRN and Sirius XM Satellite Radio will air the event live.

Bayne Thrills in First Trip to ORP


Clermont, Ind. (July 27, 2009) – Trevor Bayne grabbed a career-best seventh-place finish in Saturday night’s Kroger 200 at Indianapolis Raceway Park.

Additionally, in only his seventh NASCAR Nationwide Series start, the 18-year-old posted the fastest time (22.296 seconds) to earn his first career pole award in the No. 99 Aaron’s Dream Machine Toyota.

Bayne paced the field to the green just after 8 p.m. before an estimated crowd of 40,000. The Knoxville, Tenn., native secured the lead from Brad Coleman going into turn two and led the next 34 circuits.

The young Bayne lost the lead in a bizarre situation after Michael Annett crashed his Germain Racing Toyota in Turn 3. As Bayne took the yellow flag and slowed into Turn 1, the pace car hit the track in the middle of the corner.

The rookie driver slowed to stay behind the caution car, and Wallace rammed him from the rear, spinning both cars out. NASCAR ruled that since they didn’t maintain caution speed, they took their positions where they blended in, which place Bayne 11th for the lap 43 restart.

Another caution flag flew on lap 48 for a single car incident in Turn 4. Crew Chief Jerry Baxter summoned his driver to pit road for four fresh Goodyear tires, fuel and a minor air pressure adjustment to the right-rear tire. Since some teams were on different pit strategies, Bayne restarted 23rd on lap 53.

The adjustments seem to help the No. 99 Aaron’s Dream Machine Toyota and Bayne began to work his way through the field. He was 20th on lap 56, 14th on lap 59 and worked his way back into the top 10 by lap 67.

The Kroger 200 pole sitter continued to race inside the top 10 until the fifth caution flag flew on lap 90. Bayne made the hard left hand turn down pit road to the attention of his crew. Another routine four-tire pit stop that included a minor chassis adjustment was in order for the No. 99 machine. A lightning-fast pit stop by the Aaron’s Dream Machine over-the-wall crew netted Bayne two spots on pit road and he restarted eighth on lap 96.

Over the next 100 laps¸ Bayne held his own in the top 10 and crossed the start finish line seventh in the final run down.

Carl Edwards grabbed his second win of the season followed by Kyle Busch, Matt Kenseth, Brad Keselowski and Steven Wallace.

Next weekend the NASCAR Nationwide Series rolls into Newton, Iowa, for the division’s first ever stop at Iowa Raceway.

The US Cellular 250 will be televised live on ESPN at 4 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time. The race will be broadcast live on the Motor Racing Network and Sirius Satellite Radio. Qualifying for the 21st round of the 2009 NASCAR Nationwide Series championship will be televised on ESPN2 the same day beginning at 1 p.m. EDT.

TREVOR BAYNE QUOTE:
It’s our first top-10 so you’ve got to be really happy about that but it’s disappointing in the fact that I think we had a car that could win. It’s just so hard to pass here. I think if we could have got back to the lead we could have maintained it but we never had the opportunity to get back there. Overall, it was a good day for the No. 99 team.”

REUTIMANN SCORES TOP-10 FINISH AT INDY


INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (July 26, 2009) - With just a handful of races left before the Chase for the Championship starts, consistency and quality top-10 finishes are the goal each week. In the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard on Sunday, David Reutimann was able to achieve that objective by scoring an 8th-place finish, moving up one place in the points to 13th.

In qualifying on Saturday, Reutimann drove the No. 00 Aaron’s Dream Machine to a 5th-place starting spot, but the car didn’t feel quite right to him. “When they told me what we ran, I had to ask them again to make sure that I heard them right. Starting near the front is so important here. Hats off to everybody at Michael Waltrip Racing and everybody over here that works on the old Aaron's Dream Machine - also to Toyota and Toyota Racing Development.”

Soon into the race on Sunday Reutimann radioed in that the No. 00 Aaron’s Dream Machine was a bit on the tight side. “We’re tight on exit. Sliding the nose pretty bad right now,” said Reutimann, meaning that the car was hard to turn coming out of the corners. Nevertheless, the Aaron’s Dream Machine was good enough for Reutimann to stay inside the top 10.

Over the course of the race the team would continue to work on freeing up the car, eventually making it too loose and having to undo some of the previous changes. But throughout the day Crew Chief Rodney Childers kept his driver calm, reminding Reutimann that he was running lap times that were as fast as anyone else on the track.

Finally, with about 50 laps to go, the Aaron’s Dream Machine settled into a comfortable place and Reutimann was able to move past a few cars before eventually having to hold off Jeff Gordon to bring home the Aaron’s Dream Machine 8th.

The top-10 finish was a remarkable accomplishment at a track where Reutimann’s previous best finish was 30th.

“We just kind of hovered around the top 10 most of the day,” said Reutimann. “The guys did a great job and had good pit stops. That’s about the car we had at the end of the race. We made it a little bit better, but track position is so important. The longer the run, the better we got. Those guys would get too far away from us on the short run and I just couldn’t get back to them. All in all it was a good day and a pretty productive day.”

A productive day, indeed. Sunday’s performance moves Reutimann up to 13th in the championship race, just 68 points out of the top-12 cutoff, heading into to Pocono next week where he finished 3rd last month.

Jimmie Johnson took home the checked flag, becoming the first back-to-back winner at the Brickyard by holding off a hard-charging Mark Martin at the end. Tony Stewart, Greg Biffle and Brian Vickers round out the top five. Juan Pablo Montoya, the dominant car for much of the day, finished 11th after getting caught speeding on pit road.

Next week the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series travels to the prestigious Pocono Raceway for the Sunoco Red Cross Pennsylvania 500 on Sunday, August 2, 2009. ESPN will provide the television coverage, beginning at 1 p.m.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

David Reutimann - Allstate 400 at the Brickyard Preview


Fifteen years later after the first race, why it’s still special to run at Indy:

"It's definitely special. It has so much history in all forms of racing, so for any driver it's an honor just to compete at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, let alone win. I don't think I can accurately describe what it would mean to kiss the bricks at Indy - I guess one word, tremendous."

Whether there should be any concern about tire issues:

"I was involved in one of Goodyear's tire tests at Indy and I feel confident that they have figured those problems out. There are always numerous issues that could make or break a good day and having a tire blow out is definitely on that list, so I'm sure based on last year’s issues that tires will continue to be a hot topic this weekend. Still, my main focus will be getting the most out of my Aaron's Dream Machine and finishing the day at the front."

The challenge of Indy:

"The track itself is unique and has one of the longest straight-aways on the circuit, which means we need plenty of Toyota horsepower under the hood of the Aaron's Dream Machine. Fast straight-aways put an extra emphasis on handling in the corners, making sure you get off those corners with high speeds will be important."

Goals for this weekend at Indy:

"We need a good finish this weekend at Indy in the Aaron's Dream Machine. The pressure is on if we want to contend during the Chase, which means avoiding the bad luck that has affected us the past few weeks. I know the Aaron's team is capable of getting back in the top 12 and we're very close - each top-five finish will get us closer to that goal."

2009 NSCS Points Standings:
David Reutimann is currently in 14th, 76 points behind 12th place.

Chassis Information:
The No. 00 Aaron’s Dream Machine for Indianapolis Motor Speedway is chassis No. 637. The team recently tested this same car at the Goodyear tire test at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Race Information: Watch the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in action on Sunday, July 26 in the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard. Race coverage from Indianapolis Motor Speedway begins at 1:00 p.m. ET on ESPN.

Marcos Ambrose - Allstate 400 at the Brickyard Preview


INDIANAPOLIS (July 21, 2009) – This season marked Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s celebration of its Centennial Era, commemorating the 100th anniversary of the facility. It is also the 16th running of the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard and Marcos Ambrose’s second chance to race the No. 47 Little Debbie® Toyota with his crew chief Frank Kerr and JTG-Daugherty Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series team.

The historic 2.5-mile oval is a place like no other that still gives Kerr goose bumps when he steps foot on what he refers to as “hallowed ground.”

“To be honest I do get goose bumps every time I go there,” said Kerr who grew up racing open wheel cars, winning 250 races in divisions such as, USAC, World of Outlaws and All Star (four-time All Star Champion). “It’s just the coolest place in the world and the most historic venue we go to on the circuit. It doesn’t matter how many times you walk into that facility, you are still in awe. Then there is the ‘Yard of Bricks’ at the start-finish line serving as a tribute to the 2.5-mile oval - - the only ones left exposed from the original Indianapolis Motor Speedway racing surface.”

“I’ve been through the museum a hundred times too,” continued Kerr. “Once I was able to take a special tour of the basement and that was really something. It has a lot of old cars like Indy cars, roadsters and much more. There’s stuff down there that has never been on display. To think those guys ran around there at 150 miles per hour or better with them old cars with six inch tires on them is pretty amazing.”

Kerr’s Australian driver, who will be driving the same Toyota he finished sixth with at Pocono Raceway in June, shares his crew chief’s sentiments.

“Frankie’s right, the place is special and I remember growing up watching the Indy 500 in Tasmania wishing I was there,” Ambrose said. “It’s just a big thrill to be able to race the Little Debbie® Toyota at the Brickyard because there’s so much racing history.”

There are many memorable Brickyard moments for both the IRL and the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. If you asked Kerr who comes to mind when you talk about the Brickyard, he will jump at the chance to say “why A.J. Foyt, get serious, he’s the real deal.” While Kerr is adamant about the four-time Indy 500 champ, Ambrose is just as serious about four-time Indy 500 winner Rick Mears. Danny Sullivan was another racing great that Ambrose mentioned as he discussed the unforgettable 1985 Indy 500 win and spin.

“A.J. was a little before my time, but I really liked watching Rick Mears, who drove for Roger Penske,” Ambrose said. “Danny Sullivan was another standout and I remember his 1985 win. He spun 360 degrees down the south short chute between one and two after passing Mario Andretti for the lead. He recovered from that to come back and win the race.”
Ambrose and Kerr spoke of several monumental moments and this season they are looking to make their own.

“We've had some great runs this year," Ambrose said. "I always said that if I didn’t make it, I’ll just pack up and go home and last year's Allstate 400 was a really important race for me. There was a lot riding on that race. We qualified decent and fortunately it was a breakout race.”

“My first race there was with Robby Gordon and it was an unbelievable feeling to be standing on pit road with all the fans in the stands surrounding you,” Kerr said. “Then I went back there with Marcos last year and I was still mesmerized. It's a place we really want to excel at this weekend.”

It was only Ambrose’s second NASCAR Sprint Cup Series start with Kerr last year and they posted a respectable 22nd-place finish in the prestigious event.

“We had a good showing there and we really didn’t have nothing,” Kerr said. “We’ve been running well this season and we have some expectations going into this weekend. We’re bringing the same car we almost had a top-five with at Pocono. Pocono’s turns 2 and 3 are a lot like Indy and Marcos excelled there. We feel like we can have a good run.”

Ambrose and his JTG-Daugherty Racing team compete in the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard on Sunday, July 26th. Live coverage from Indianapolis Motor Speedway airs on ESPN beginning at 1 p.m. Eastern. Also, IMS and Sirius XM Satellite Radio will also air the event live.

Trevor Bayne - Kroger 200 Preview


NOTES:

  • Nationwide Stats … In six NNS starts, the Knoxville, Tenn., native has a 10.8 starting average coupled with a 19th-place finishing average. He has completed 1,254 of the 1,375 total laps run this season.

  • Vote, Vote, Vote … Go to www.nascar.com and cast your votes for Bayne as the 2009 Most Popular Driver of the Year Award. Fans may vote or submit a write-in candidate once per day and are encouraged to vote throughout the season. Voting ends Oct. 31 for the NNS. Results will be announced at each of the respective series’ season-end banquets.

  • After 19 … Over the season’s first 19 races, the No. 99 team has notched three top-10 and 10 top-15 finishes. The MWR team sits 16th in the owners’ point standings. They are only 133 points behind the No. 62 owned by Rusty Wallace in 15th.

  • Looking Back at 2008 … Last season, the Knoxville, Tenn., native competed full-time in the NASCAR Camping World East Series where he finished fourth in the final championship point standings on the strength of one win, six top-three and eight top-10 finishes in 13 starts.

  • Online with the Times … To keep up with the latest news and information about Bayne visit his official website at www.trevorbayne.com. For minute-to-minute info about Bayne and the rest of the MWR crew, check out www.twitter.com/aaronssports.

  • Race Broadcast Information … The Kroger 200 benefitting Riley Hospital for Children will be televised live on ESPN Sat., July 25 beginning at 7:30 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time. The race will also broadcast worldwide on the Motor Racing Network and Sirius XM Satellite Radio beginning at 7 p.m. EDT. Qualifying for the 20th event of the 2009 NNS season will air on ESPN2, the same day, at 4:30 p.m. EDT. MRN and Sirius XM Satellite Radio will also air live updates of time trials.

TREVOR BAYNE QUOTE:

What do you think of ORP?
I have never been to ORP, but I guess it’s more of an Irwindale (Calif.) type race track. Kind of more of a circle short track so I’m looking forward to going there and racing. We ran at Concord (N.C.) Motorsports Park in the Hooters Pro Cup earlier this year and won the race

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

NASCAR STAR MICHAEL WALTRIP VISITS AUTO CLUB SPEEDWAY $35 TICKET TUESDAY ZUCCHINI PATCH


San Bernardino County, Calif. (July 21, 2009) – As Auto Club Speedway nears the inaugural Southern California Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup playoff race – the Pepsi 500 on October 11th – NASCAR Sprint Cup Series star Michael Waltrip, driver of the No. 55 NAPA Auto Parts Toyota joined hundreds of local fans for a special Speedway season-ticket holder event on Monday. While on site, Waltrip also had a chance to check out Auto Club Speedway’s $35 Ticket Tuesday Zucchini Patch.

The overbearing zucchini patch, located on ACS property, is part of a promotion that gives “goodies” each month to fans purchasing $35 tickets. Every Tuesday in July and August, ACS will give away “extra goodies” that include delicious Krispy Kreme cheesecake-filled donuts (in celebration of National “Cheesecake Day” on July 30th) and California-grown zucchini (in celebration of National “Sneak Some Zucchini Onto Your Neighbor’s Porch” Night on Aug. 8th) to anyone purchasing a $35 Pepsi Rock N’ Rows ticket to the Pepsi 500.

Waltrip made a special trip to Southern California to harvest zucchini in the ACS $35 Ticket Tuesday Zucchini Patch, enjoy home-made zucchini bread baked by Auto Club Speedway president Gillian Zucker and took part in a Q&A session with Hard Card Members, the Speedway’s season ticket holders.

“There aren’t too many things I enjoy more than enjoying the Southern California sunshine and spending the day with NASCAR fans,” said Waltrip. “Oh wait, putting on overalls and hanging out in the Auto Club Speedway Zucchini Patch ranks right up there, too.”

Michael Waltrip - Allstate 400 at the Brickyard Preview


NAPA RACING PRESS BOX FEATURING MICHAEL WALTRIP

What are your expectations for this weekend?
“Our car was really good at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. I was really proud of my NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota. In my opinion, Indy is a whole lot like New Hampshire. Hopefully, we can figure out how to get the NAPA Toyota up front at Indy.”

What makes Indy a unique track?
“It is basically symmetrical. It might be a foot or two different, but both ends are alike. However, because of the grandstands, it looks like you are going to go into a tunnel with all the people. It makes Turn 1 look twice as tight as Turn 3, when in reality, they are exactly the same. For some reason, it is tough to get that in your brain that there are no differences. You have to fight yourself to try and drive both ends the same way. The corners are also sharp which just makes momentum be the name of the game. If you can somehow get your car set entering the corner a little bit before the guy ahead of you, and get that gas down and hold that inside, the momentum you make off the turn is how you pass people.”

What do you need to run well at Indianapolis?
“It takes everything to run well at Indy. The car needs to handle well. It needs a lot of downforce to get through the corners and it has to have a lot of power. Indy is a track where the teams with big power usually run well. The car has got to handle well because it has four turns that require you to get through them well so that you can carry your momentum heading into the long straightaways. It is a lot easier to run well there when you have a car that has a lot of horsepower. It is definitely a horsepower track.”

Heading into Indy are you happy with MWR’s on-track performance so far?
“When I was going to the airport after the Chicago race, I read where Hendrick Motorsports got its 27th one-two finish. MWR hasn’t had any yet. I realize that Mr. Hendrick has been doing this for 25 years and we have been doing it for just over two years. We have a lot of good people at MWR that are trying to figure out what we need to make these cars even better. David Reutimann remains in contention for that top-12 bid to get into The Chase. Our organization is focused on that. We’ll just keep plugging to get better and to figure out why those other cars can go faster than ours. I believe that David, Marcos Ambrose and I can drive better than where we are finishing. We are competitive, but we can always do better. We just need to keep tweaking on the cars and it will come to us.”

Michael Waltrip Fast Facts

  • NAPA AUTO PARTS driver Michael Waltrip will be competing in his 744th NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race when the 20th event of the 2009 Sprint Cup season, the Brickyard 400, gets underway at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Speedway, Indiana.

  • He will start in his 14th race at the Brickyard. His best start is third (Aug. 7, 2005) and best finish is eighth (Aug. 6, 1994).

  • Waltrip has completed 1937 of 2081 laps (93.1%) at the track and has led a total of one lap in competition. His average start is 17th and average finish is 23rd.

  • The NAPA AUTO PARTS team is guaranteed a starting spot in Sunday’s Brickyard 400. The team is 30th in the owner points standings.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Trevor Bayne - Missouri-Illinois Dodge Dealers 250 Preview


NOTES:
  • This week’s No. 99 Aaron’s Dream Machine Toyota at Gateway International Raceway … Trevor Bayne will pilot Chassis No. 046 from the Michael Waltrip Racing NASCAR Nationwide Series stable this weekend at Gateway International Raceway. Scott Speed drove this No. 99 machine at Darlington Raceway in May. He finished 13th after being involved in two separate incidents on the race track.

  • Nationwide Stats … In five NNS starts, the Knoxville, Tenn., native has an 10.6 starting average coupled with an 17.4 finishing average. He has completed 1,071 of the 1,175 total laps run this season.

  • Vote, Vote, Vote … Go to www.nascar.com and cast your votes for Bayne as the 2009 Most Popular Driver of the Year Award. Fans may vote or submit a write-in candidate once per day and are encouraged to vote throughout the season. Voting ends Oct. 31 for the NNS. Results will be announced at each of the respective series’ season-end banquets.

  • After 18 … Over the season’s first 18 races, the No. 99 team has notched three top-10 and 10 top-15 finishes. The MWR team sits 18th in the owners’ point standings. They are five points out of 17th and only 78 points out of the top 15.

  • Meet the Press … Bayne will be available inside the Gateway International Raceway infield media center Fri., July 17 at 3:15 p.m. local time to field questions from the gathered media.

  • Autograph Signing … Bayne will sign autographs on Friday, July 17 from 4:30 – 5:30 p.m. local time on the GIR pit road.

  • Meet the Driver … Bayne will sign autographs at the Aaron’s store located at 1068 Lemay Ferry Rd., St. Louis, Mo., from 1-2 p.m. Fri., July 17.

  • Meet the Driver Part Two … Bayne along with several other NNS driver will do a Q & A at the GIR midway on Sat., July 18 at 5:45 local time.

  • Online with the Times … To keep up with the latest news and information about Bayne visit his official website at www.trevorbayane.com. For minute-to-minute info about Bayne and the rest of the MWR crew, check out www.twitter.com/aaronssport.

  • Race Broadcast Information … The Missouri-Illinois Dodge Dealers 250 presented by Ventrilo will be televised live on ESPN2 Sat., July 17 beginning at 9 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time. The race will also broadcast worldwide on the Motor Racing Network and Sirius XM Satellite Radio beginning at 8:30 p.m. EDT. Qualifying for the 19th event of the 2009 NNS season will air on ESPN2, the same day, at 5 p.m. EDT. MRN and Sirius XM Satellite Radio will also air live updates of time trials.

TREVOR BAYNE QUOTE:

How do you prepare for race tracks you’ve never been to?
“I used to do the sim racing and stuff. Like when we were going to Nashville I got on the ARCA sim racer and played it but the set-ups are so different, lifting points are different. The tracks are very similar looking and you can kind of tell if there’s an arc here or whatever but driving style is going to be totally different with the sim racing to this unless you have a perfect set-up where you can drive it off in the corner. That kind of screwed me up going to Nashville I was too easy getting into turn three and that was just from a mindset of playing the video games. It’s crazy how it confuses you. I’ve kind of laid off that. Jerry (Baxter, crew chief) has been giving me a few videos. He got me a tape to watch for this weekend from a race a couple of years ago and that kind of stuff helps me out a lot. The biggest thing is talking to guys like David Reutimann and Michael Waltrip even, they’ve been a big support and Mike Bliss as well. They’ve all helped me out a ton every race track we’ve been to so far, they’ve been an open notebook and really put everything out there for me.”

Reutimann Finishes 12th in Chicago


JOLIET, Ill. (July 11, 2009) - David Reutimann came into Saturday night’s race looking for a solid finish to keep him within sight of the all-important 12th place in the points standings. The No. 00 Aaron’s Dream Machine Toyota started out very loose and immediately Reutimann knew he would be in for a long night. But crew chief Rodney Childers and the Aaron’s crew kept working on the car and eventually were able to get it into racing shape, enabling Reutimann to pull out a 12th place finish in the LifeLock.com 400 at Chicagoland Speedway.

David Reutimann had a great qualifying run on Thursday to earn the ninth starting spot, but he knew the Aaron’s Dream Machine Toyota Camry probably wasn’t as good as it appeared. Soon into the race his fears were confirmed. “Really not good right now,” Reutimann radioed in.

By lap 35 Reutimann had slipped to 13th place as he battled a car that was “loose on exit,” meaning the rear end of the car would slide as he came out of the corners.

On lap 39 a caution came out, allowing the crew a chance to work on Aaron’s Dream Machine. Childers called for four tires and trackbar adjustments to work on the handling.

The changes seemed to work as Reutimann restarted in 14th after the caution and within ten laps was up to eighth. However, as the sun went down the track started to cool and the handling problems returned.

“I’m fighting this thing on exit,” said a frustrated Reutimann. “I’m spinning out everywhere. (The changes on the last pit stop) might have killed us.”

But the Aaron’s team kept plugging away at the problem, bringing in the Aaron’s Dream Machine each time they could and making major changes to the handling of the car.

Then on lap 211 things would start to go their way.

After spending most of the race caution-free, suddenly three cautions came within 26 laps of each other. This gave the team a lot of time to work on the Aaron’s Dream Machine and it responded. By lap 227 Reutimann was up to 11th.

Even a minor brush with the wall after being bumped by the No. 42 of Juan Pablo Montoya wasn’t enough to slow down the Aaron’s Dream Machine.

“This is the best it’s been by a bunch,” said Reutimann.

“You’re in 11th and moving fast,” responded Childers. “Go get ‘em.”

Unfortunately, another caution came out with six laps to go, hurting Reutimann’s momentum as the Aaron’s Dream Machine was better on the longer run. Restarting with just two laps to go, he was only able to capture a 12th place finish. Nonetheless, that was enough to keep Reutimann within 76 points of the Chase for the Championship and only 79 points behind 10th place Kyle Busch, who is a mere three points ahead of 12th place Matt Kenseth.

Mark Martin scored his fourth win of the season in holding off a late-charging Jeff Gordon. Kasey Kahne, Tony Stewart and Denny Hamlin completed the top five.

Next week the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series has an off weekend before traveling to the prestigious Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard on Sunday, July 26, 2009. ESPN will provide the television coverage, beginning at 1 p.m.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Ambrose has Strong 11th-Place finish at Chicagoland Speedway


JOLIET, Ill. (July 13, 2009) – Marcos Ambrose rallied back from two laps down to finish 11th in the LifeLock.com 400 behind the wheel of his No. 47 Kingsford® Toyota at Chicagoland Speedway Saturday night. It was the Australian driver’s ninth top-15 finish in 19 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series starts this season.

“We had a good night and we fought hard all day,” Ambrose said. “We had some troubles and went a couple laps down. Pit strategy got us back on track. We got some track position and made the most of it -- just a great night for our team. We just don’t give up. It’s our first year on most of these tracks and our first time here in a Cup car. It’s very hard to expect solid results, but we’re really doing it. We’re doing it week in and week out and we’re excited about that.”

The team was just as pleased with Ambrose’s qualifying effort after he qualified tenth for the 267-lap event. When the green flag dropped on Saturday, Ambrose was lined up alongside teammate David Reutimann in row five. On Lap 8 while in 15th position, Ambrose communicated to crew chief Frank Kerr that he was tight through the center and needed a small wedge adjustment.

As Ambrose maintained his top 15 run, his car had a loose feeling off the corners. When the first caution of the race occurred on Lap 38, Ambrose was loose in and loose off.

“I was still too free,” Ambrose said. “The 47 Kingsford® Charcoal team changed four tires and made an air pressure and wedge adjustment.”

Ambrose restarted 14th on Lap 43 and as the race progressed he was tight in the center and was experiencing his car trying to jump out from underneath him. At Lap 91, Ambrose reported his car had improved greatly. As he pitted under green flag conditions three laps later, Kerr called for four tires and no changes.

For some reason, all of the sudden, the Kingsford® Charcoal Toyota was extremely loose and almost spinning out in the corners. Faced with handling problems, leader and eventual winner Mark Martin was able to chase Ambrose down to put him one lap down.

“I told Frank we needed a triple adjustment,” Ambrose said. “We’re not sure what happened there.”

As he was on the edge of spinning out of control, Ambrose slipped back to 24th when fortunately a caution was called for debris at Lap 130.

“It was loose and almost spinning out,” Ambrose said. “I couldn’t turn the wheel.”

On the restart at Lap 136, Ambrose was 26th and was still one lap down along with 16 other cars.

“We were loose everywhere,” Ambrose said.

At Lap 186 under green, the team changed four tires and made more adjustments. As another caution happened at Lap 211, Ambrose was two laps down by this point. Kerr elected to keep Ambrose out on track in hopes that a caution would fall there way to get one of the two laps back. On Lap 219, the yellow flag waved and Kerr’s wish was granted.

“We were able to gain a lap back,” Ambrose said. “We just needed to get the car more secure. The guys kept working on it.”

After the JTG-Daugherty Racing pit crew changed four tires and made more adjustments Ambrose was 25th when the field went back to green flag racing.

At Lap 242, Ambrose radioed Kerr to tell him the Kingsford® Charcoal was the best it had been all race. Four laps later, Kerr, Ambrose and the JTG-Daugherty Racing team were happy to see that the cards fell their way as the caution flag waved. Ambrose advanced back onto the lead lap and was scored in 19th place as he headed to pit road on Lap 248 for four tires and an air pressure adjustment.

After restarting 18th on Lap 249, the battle heated up ahead. With seven laps remaining, one final caution slowed the field. Ambrose was 12th on the restart and he went on to cross the finish line in 11th-place to maintain 18th in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver's championship points standings.

Mark Martin won the event, Jeff Gordon finished second, Kasey Kahne finished third, Tony Stewart was fourth and Denny Hamlin rounded out the top-five. Reutimann finished 12th and Michael Waltrip finished 20th.

After an off weekend, Ambrose and his JTG-Daugherty Racing team prepare for the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard on Sunday, July 26th. Live coverage from Indianapolis Motor Speedway on ESPN begins at 1 p.m. on IMS and Sirius XM Satellite Radio will also carry the event live.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

NAPA Team Rebounds to Finish 20th Place at Chicagoland Speedway


Waltrip’s Result Moves NAPA Team Up One Position in Owner Points Standings

JOLIET, Ill. – A good call in the pits by crew chief Bootie Barker and smart driving by Michael Waltrip helped the NAPA AUTO PARTS team rally back from a disappointing start to Saturday night’s LifeLock.com 400 to finish 20th place at Chicagoland Speedway. The top-20 result moved Waltrip up to 30th position in the NASCAR Sprint Cup owner points standings. “We finished 20th and David Reutimann and Marcos Ambrose finished 12th and 11th,” said Waltrip who started the LifeLock.com 400 in 37th position. “

The whole MWR organization looked pretty good out there on the track at Chicagoland Speedway. Trevor Bayne started it off by finishing 12th in the Nationwide Series race on Saturday night. Then all three of our Cup cars had top-20 results. It was a pretty good weekend for us. “We are still a couple of rungs down the ladder from where we need to be. It is obvious that Hendrick Motorsports has it going on. They are all over it. David is still in contention for that top-12 spot in points to be a part of The Chase. We will keep plugging away and find out what we need to do to get those MWR cars better.”

Brian Vickers led the field to the green flag for the fifth time this season. However, it was not long until Mark Martin showed everyone that he was the class of the field. Meanwhile, Waltrip’s car on the other hand, was extremely loose on throttle so when the first caution of the day came out on lap 39 for debris, Barker called his driver in for a wedge and air pressure adjustment. The NAPA Toyota took the restart in 32nd position and Mark Martin was the leader.

The loose-handling condition continued causing Waltrip to lose several positions on the track. The next chance to work on the car came under green on lap 94. This time track bar was added to the help tighten up the car. It caused the NAPA Toyota to improve slightly and enabled Waltrip to run in 33rd. A second caution for debris was thrown on lap 131. The NAPA driver requested a significant adjustment to help him out on the track so Barker added spring rubbers to the left rear of the car. When the green flag waved on lap 136, Waltrip was 34th and Martin remained the leader.

The NAPA team opted to take a gamble and stay out when the third caution of the race happened on lap 211. Barker and his driver felt there was a good chance that another caution would be triggered during the double-file restart. What they needed was simple -- a yellow flag thrown before Waltrip was forced to pit for fuel. If it happened, the NAPA team would regain one of their two laps back. Their decision paid off. On lap 219, Sam Hornish Jr. lost control of his car on the backstretch.

The NAPA team went from 33rd to 26th due to the strategy. The final 50 laps saw three more caution flags to slow the race down on laps 227, 246 and 261. The team chose to pit on two of those occasions to help Waltrip’s car. Each time his car got more manageable. It also allowed him to contend for positions just outside the top-20. Then the final 15 laps saw an exciting shootout between Jimmie Johnson, Brian Vickers, Denny Hamlin, Kurt Busch and Mark Martin. “I thought they were going to crash,” said Waltrip to his spotter Ty Norris. “I let off figuring they were wrecking but then they didn’t. It was wild running up through there.”

Despite their efforts, none of the drivers who took over the top spot for brief moments could keep up the pace with the veteran Martin. He retook the lead for the final time on lap 251 to collect his series-best fourth victory of the season. As for Waltrip, he got the job done to pick off six more positions before the checkered flag waved to score 20th place. As for Waltrip’s teammates, JTG-Daugherty Racing’s Marcos Ambrose led the way. He finished 11th. As for David Reutimann, he also battled an extremely loose car. He collected 12th place. He currently sits in 14th position in the championship standings – less than 80 markers out of The Chase.

The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series is off this weekend. Waltrip will be in the broadcast booth in Kentucky with Rick Allen and Phil Parsons for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series event on Saturday. It can be seen starting at 6:30 p.m. ET on SPEED.

Bayne Captures 12th Place at Chicagoland Speedway


Joliet, Ill. (July 11, 2009) – A great call by crew chief Jerry Baxter to stay out on the race track during the first caution flag on lap 91 paid off in the form of a 12th-place finish for Trevor Bayne in Friday night’s Dollar General 300 at Chicagoland Speedway. This was Bayne’s third 12th-place finish in four starts behind the wheel of the No. 99 Aaron’s Dream Machine. The No. 99 team has now grabbed 10 top-15 finishes in just 18 NASCAR Nationwide Series races this season.

In Friday afternoon’s qualifying session, Bayne lapped the mile-and-a-half Joliet, Ill. oval in 30.585 seconds (176.557 mph). The lap was good enough for the eighth-place time, lining up the Knoxville, Tenn. driver on the outside of the fourth row for the Dollar General 300.

60,000 fans packed the Chicagoland Speedway grandstands for the 18th race of 2009 NASCAR’s No. 2 division. After starting eighth, Bayne made quick work of the competition, rocketing up to sixth just two laps into the 300-mile event. Unfortunately, the forward progress didn’t last long. Lacking overall grip, the 18-year-old fell back to 13th before green-flag pit stops began on lap 52. Three laps later Bayne peeled off the racing surface, under green-flag conditions, for routine service including a fresh set of Goodyear Tires, a full load of fuel and a slight chassis adjustment.

The chassis adjustment didn’t seem to help the handling on the No. 99 Toyota, and Bayne lost a lap to the leaders on lap 61 but continued to run in the top 15. The first caution flag finally flew on lap 91 for debris. With nothing to lose and everything to gain, the call was made to stay on the race track and receive the lucky dog placing the No. 99 machine back on the lead lap. The Aaron’s Racing team was listed 12th for the restart on lap 96.

Since the Aaron’s Dream Machine Toyota stayed out during the first caution and a second caution had yet to come out, Baxter was forced to call his rookie driver to pit road 25 laps later. Four tires, fuel and a major chassis adjustment was in order, and Bayne returned to the racing surface two laps down in 20th.

Fortunately, the rest of the field was forced to make green-flag pits 25 laps later allowing Bayne to make up one lap on the leaders and jump to the 13th position. As luck would have it, the second caution flag waved on lap 184 and the call to stay out on lap 91 finally proved beneficial. Baxter summoned his young driver to pit road for another set of tires and fuel and Bayne restarted 13th on lap 191.

The 18-year-old driver was able to pass one car in the final nine laps and crossed the finish line 12th, the first car one lap down. Joey Logano grabbed his third win of the season followed by Kyle Busch, Brian Vickers, Jason Leffler and Kevin Harvick.

Next weekend the NASCAR Nationwide Series rolls into Madison, Ill., for the division’s annual stop at Gateway International Raceway just five minutes from downtown St. Louis.
The Missouri-Illinois Dodge Dealers 250 will be televised live on ESPN2 at 9 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time. The race will be broadcast live on the Motor Racing Network and Sirius Satellite Radio. Qualifying for the 19th round of the 2009 NASCAR Nationwide Series championship will be televised on ESPN2 the same day beginning at 5 p.m. EDT.

TREVOR BAYNE QUOTE:
“We didn’t have the best car tonight but Jerry (Baxter) made a great call to stay out during the first caution and we finished 12th. I can’t believe we finished 12th again. I guess we just need to get over this hump. It was great to have Michael (Waltrip) on the radio tonight helping me get better each lap. I am continuing to learn and hopefully we can grab a top 10 soon.”

Rookie Truex Takes Points Lead With Victory


THOMPSON, Conn. (July 11, 2009) – Ryan Truex captured the checkered flag in a NASCAR Camping World Series East race for the second time in the last three outings as he took the Pepsi Full Fender Frenzy 100 Saturday night at Thompson (Conn.) International Speedway.

Truex (No. 00 NAPA Toyota) battled Steve Park (No. 35 Waste Management Recycle America Chevrolet) through the last half of the race as the pair swapped the lead three times, but it was the 17-year-old Michael Waltrip Racing development driver who got past the veteran on Lap 96 and rode to the victory.

It was the second win in the last three outings for Truex, who earned his first series victory at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International on June 6. The Mayetta, N.J., native also joined his older brother, Martin Truex Jr., as NASCAR Camping World Series East winners at Thompson.

Park’s runner-up finish was the best of his 2009 season so far. He led a race-high 76 laps after earning the Coors Light Pole Award earlier in the day.

Matt DiBenedetto (No. 18 Joe Gibbs Driven Toyota) finished third to record his fourth top-five in five starts this year. Eddie MacDonald (No. 71 NEMO/Grimm Construction) and Alan Tardiff (No. 38 Bestway Disposal Chevrolet) rounded out the top five.

The rest of the top 10 finishers included Matt Kobyluck, Jesus Hernandez, Ryan Duff, Jonathan Smith and Brett Moffitt.

With the win, Truex has registered three-straight top-three finishes, which vaulted him past Jody Lavender and MacDonald into the points lead with four races remaining on the 2009 schedule. Lavender, the points leader entering the day, finished 11th.

The NASCAR Camping World Series East will next compete at Adirondack International Speedway on Saturday, August 1 in The Edge Hotel 150 presented by Casella Waste Systems.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

David Reutimann Fast Facts - Chicago



What it means for MWR to sign Martin Truex Jr.:
"Having Martin (Truex Jr.) join the MWR organization in 2010 is going to be an excellent addition - he's a great driver and demonstrated winner. Having a driver of his caliber come to our organization shows that people in the garage are taking notice and we’re becoming a team that drivers would consider as part of their future."

Whether racing under the lights is any different for a driver:
"Not really. I'm a racer, so it really doesn't matter to me whether it's day or night - I'm one of those guys that would race at any time because it's what I love to do."

Describe the racing at Chicago:
"Chicago's a fast, fun track. I got one of my first starts there in 2003 and won a Nationwide Pole there last year driving the No. 99 Aaron's Dream Machine. It’s a mile and a half D-shaped tri-oval that is surprisingly different from most others that we compete on. It has 18 degrees of banking in the corners, so it's important to get your car handling good in the corners to improve your speed down the straightaways."

Goals for this weekend at Chicagoland:
"We need to bounce back from the unfortunate luck that we had a Daytona last Saturday night. The Aaron's team is still in a great position to get in the top 12 and a solid finish this weekend at Chicagoland will go a long way in making up ground on those guys in front of us."

2009 NSCS Points Standings: David Reutimann is currently in 14th, 74 points behind 12th place.

Chassis Information: The No. 00 Aaron’s Dream Machine for Chicagoland Speedway is chassis No. 638. This is another brand new Aaron's Dream Machine making its debut at Chicago.

Race Information: Watch the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in action on Saturday, July 11 in the LifeLock.com 400 at Chicagoland Speedway. Race coverage begins at 6:30 p.m. ET on TNT.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

LifeLock.com 400 - Chicagoland Speedway


NAPA RACING PRESS BOX FEATURING MICHAEL WALTRIP

How do you feel about the press announcement that took place yesterday at Michael Waltrip Racing?
“I'm proud and happy. I'm turning my car over to a guy that I think can go win the championship in it, and I've always said ‑‑ I've been racing these cars for a long time, as we all well know -- if I thought I wasn't the best man for the job, I wouldn't have had a ride for this long. If I wasn't the guy to go race it on Sunday, somebody else would take my place. And I believe at this time in my career that Martin (Truex, Jr.) is the right guy to take over my car and go win races in it. I'm sitting here happy about the fact that Martin is taking over my car. I didn't have to quit. I didn't need to quit. I just wanted to do this. For me it's always been about the sponsors, and NAPA has been the greatest sponsor I could ever have, and I thought this was an opportunity to put them in victory lane on a regular basis. I couldn't be happier or prouder. I'm really thankful.”

A lot of drivers struggle with this and it’s not an easy decision to scale back. Were you always certain that this was the right thing to do and now?
“Totally and I started out in February by saying at preseason and before the 500, that I had to go out and perform at the same level or better than David and Marcos. That's putting a lot of pressure on a driver, and I don't mind ‑‑ I didn't mind doing that, because it was multipurpose. I knew that's what I was going to have to do in order to be able to justify racing in 2010 and beyond. But I also wanted to make sure people like Martin and drivers of his caliber knew there was going to be a good seat available in 2010 if things didn't go like I wanted them to. So making those statements in Florida was a precursor to what we're doing now. I'm proud of what I've accomplished and I was genuinely more happy when David won that race in Charlotte than I've been in a long time in my career so that was confirmation that I made the right decision, that I can get joy out of helping mold and shape MWR and helping to make all of these wonderful men and women that work here understand that their owner is in there with them, in the trenches, fighting, working, trying to help them do whatever we need to help them have success. I'm totally at ease with where I'm at. I think my legacy as a driver has been shaped up by now.”

Talk about Chicagoland Speedway.
“It’s a fun stop and I enjoy going to Chicago in the middle of the summer. What a great city and the fans are totally enthusiastic. They have great short-track racing up there and some of the best racing you will ever see. It’s a great way to celebrate all that by coming to Chicagoland Speedway and watch the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race. To me, this race is special – it’s ranks up with New Hampshire and Daytona.”

Michael Waltrip Fast Facts
  • NAPA AUTO PARTS driver Michael Waltrip will be competing in his 743rd NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race when the 19th event of the 2009 Sprint Cup season, the LifeLock.com 400, gets underway at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, IL

  • He will start in his ninth race at Chicagoland. His best start is fifth (July 14, 2002) and best finish is fifth (July 13, 2003) while driving the NAPA machine.

  • Waltrip has completed 1948 of 2139 laps (91.9%) at the track and has led a total of two laps in competition. His average start is 27th and average finish is 26th.

  • The NAPA AUTO PARTS team is guaranteed a starting spot in Saturday night’s LifeLock.com 400. The team is 31st in the owner points standings.

EVENT FACTS
Race: 19 of 36
LifeLock.com 400
Chicagoland Speedway

Length: 1.5-mile tri-oval
Distance: 400 laps/267 miles
Date: Saturday, July 11

TV Coverage: 7:30 p.m. ET
TV: TNT
Radio: MRN