Monday, August 31, 2009

A Dissapointed Carpentier Finishes 38th in Montreal


By Reid Spencer
Sporting News NASCAR Wire Service

MONTREAL—Swear out a warrant.

On second thought, break out the champagne.

Carl Edwards' grand larceny Sunday at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve ended with a back flip and a celebration, not a jail term.

With a pass for the lead on the final corner of the final lap of the Nationwide Series NAPA Auto Parts 200, Edwards capitalized on the only mistake Marcos Ambrose made all day to win his first road-course race in one of NASCAR's top three divisions.

Running on rain tires after a mandatory change for the entire field on Lap 61, Edwards hounded Ambrose for both laps of a green-white-checkered-flag finish and made the winning pass after Ambrose's car got airborne over the curbing and lost momentum in the final turn of Lap 76.

In collecting his third Nationwide Series victory of the season and the 23rd of his career, Edwards gave Roush Fenway Racing its first road-course win in the series.

"The two laps, Andrew Ranger (who finished third) and I went side by side into Turn 1 (on Lap 75)," said Edwards who trimmed the series points lead of 10th-place finisher Kyle Busch from 248 to 192. "He pinched me off into the grass—which I probably would have done if I was him, too—and I just drove into his door, and we came off of Turn 2 banging doors.

"It was wild, and I thought the whole time Marcos was going to get away with this thing. I broke away from Andrew, and I just gave it everything I had on that last lap, and Marcos just made that one mistake through the curves at the end and gave me the chance to get by."

Former Formula One champion Jacques Villeneuve ran fourth to the delight of partisan Quebecers in the packed grandstands. Brad Keselowski came home fifth and tightened his hold on third place in the points standings.

Ambrose, who has finished seventh, third and second in the series' three races at the 2.7-mile course was despondent at not closing out Edwards after leading 60 laps.

"I just made a mistake at the end there and lost the race," Ambrose said. "Any other lap, any other corner, I would have got it straight back. It just happened to be the last corner of the race. We had a drag race coming off the hairpin. Carl got position on me, and I had to try to make sure I (outbraked) him.

"I feel pretty devastated, because I let my boys down. We came here to win, and anything less than that was a disappointment."

Ambrose was in the lead and in control when NASCAR called the eighth caution of the afternoon after a shower hit the racetrack as the cars were working Lap 59. Two laps later, NASCAR ordered the cars to pit road and red-flagged the race while crews mounted rain tires and installed wipers and lights.

After refiring the engines, the field took the green flag double-file on Lap 64, with Ambrose in the lead and Ranger beside him on the front row. Ambrose held the top spot through three more cautions before Edwards, who led three times for three laps, made his move in the final corner.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Ambrose Teams up with Edwards for Montreal 200 before NAPA AUTO PARTS 200


CORNELIUS, N.C. (August 27, 2009) - Marcos Ambrose continues to pinch himself every day as the Australian driver literally lives the dream. Last weekend at Bristol Motor Speedway, he found himself among good company with the likes of Mark Martin, Kyle Busch and Jimmie Johnson campaigning for his first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series victory. While he waits another week for another shot because the series is off, he still has plans that involves racing.

First he joins NASCAR star Carl Edwards to make his first Grand-Am Rolex Series start in Saturday's Montreal 200 at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve behind the wheel of the No. 77 Dallara Daytona prototype of Doran Racing sponsored by Alfac, iRacing.com, Subway and Au wines. Ambrose and Edwards tested the car at Virginia International Raceway (VIR) a couple weeks ago to prepare for their debut.

Then Ambrose is in the hunt for his second consecutive NASCAR Nationwide Series victory during the NAPA AUTO PARTS 200 at Montreal where he finished third last year after leading 27 laps. Ambrose was the class of the field and had a huge lead while rain fell on the 14-turn 2.709 road course, but a speeding penalty derailed his efforts and the race was cut 26 laps short of its scheduled finish.

“On Saturday, I’m racing in the Grand-Am race with Carl Edwards and those cars are so fun to drive,” Ambrose said. “They have good downforce, good power, good aero balance and brakes. I’m looking forward to that. I’m not sure how our driver change will go.

“Then I’m really looking forward to the Nationwide race, but I can’t take the car I won with at Watkins Glen because I crashed it during the burnout,” Ambrose said. “If you go back and look at the footage, I hit the pit wall and tore the rear end out of it. We’ve got another car we are taking up there.”

Ambrose sported STP for his first NASCAR Nationwide Series race and win of the season at Watkins Glen International. This time he will proudly carry Armor All® on his No. 47 Toyota Camry as he looks to add to his two victories, five top-five and 13 top-10 Nationwide career finishes on Sunday.

“We’ve got some great sponsors and we are very lucky right now,” Ambrose said. “I just want to be here for the long haul and I love NASCAR and I’m privileged to be in the sport. I promised myself when I made it to NASCAR that I would be happy every day and just be happy that I am here."

Live coverage of the NAPA Auto Parts 200 on Sunday, August 30th begins at 2 p.m. Eastern at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve.

CARPENTIER PREVIEWS THE NAPA PIECES D'AUTO 200


You’ve driven two Sprint Cup races this season for Michael Waltrip Racing. Now, you get behind the wheel of the No. 99 NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota for the Nationwide race. Talk about this opportunity.

“I am really looking forward to running at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve. I always seem to run well there so hopefully I can do the same thing this year with the NAPA AUTO PARTS team. I got to test with Jerry Baxter and the team a few weeks ago so I think we are ready for it. We are looking forward to it and it should be a fun race. There are going to be a few Sprint Cup guys coming over because they don’t have a race this weekend. It should be fun especially if it does not rain. It’s been raining almost every day up here in the last month so hopefully we can get a little bit of a break and it clears up.”

Are you looking at the Sprint Cup drivers as being your toughest competition?

“I look at everyone as being really good competition. We’ve got the Sprint Cup guys and some good road-course racers like Ron Fellows who won it last year. Jacques Villeneuve is planning to race and so is Carl Edwards. There are quite a few guys coming up here so it is going to be interesting. We will see how it will all play out.”

What does it take to be successful at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve?

“You have to be fast. That’s what it takes. You also need good traction. That track has a lot of high-speed straightaways. All of the corners are first and second gear. You really need to come out of the corners in good shape. That is the main thing. Also, brakes are important too. Braking is hard at every corner because they are pretty much high-speed corners.”

Patrick Carpentier Fast Facts

* Patrick Carpentier will be driving the NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota. He will be competing in his 13th NASCAR Nationwide Series race when the 25th event of the 2009 season, the NAPA AUTO PARTS 200, gets underway at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, in Montreal, Canada.

* Carpentier has competed in two NASCAR Nationwide events at Montreal. His best start is first (Aug. 4, 2007) and best finish is second (Aug. 4, 2007 & Aug. 2, 2008) in both races he has competed.

* Carpentier has completed 123 of 123 laps (100%) at the track and has led a total of 14 laps in competition. His average start is third and average finish is second.

* His NASCAR Nationwide Series career statistics at road courses are impressive with five starts. He has earned one pole (2007 Montreal), three top-five (second – 2007 Montreal, fifth – 2008 Mexico City and second – 2008 Montreal) and five top-20 finishes (19th – 2007 Watkins Glen, 22nd – 2008 Watkins Glen).

EVENT FACTS

Race: 25 of 35

Length: 2.71-mile road course

Distance: 74 laps, 200 miles

Date: Sunday, August 30

Time: 2 p.m.

TV: ESPN 2

Radio: MRN, Sirius XM Satellite Radio, Channel 128

2008 Winner: Ron Fellows

2008 Pole: Dario Franchitti

Gene Nead Named Interim Crew Chief for Michael Waltrip


Cornelius, N.C. – Michael Waltrip Racing (MWR) announced today that veteran crew chief Gene Nead has been named interim crew chief for two-time Daytona 500 champion Michael Waltrip and his No. 55 NAPA AUTO PARTS team. Nead officially joins MWR on Monday and will call the final 12 races of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season for Waltrip. Robert “Bootie” Barker remains with the organization and will be assisting engineering with special projects.

“We have a lot left to race for this year and we had the opportunity to add depth to the organization,” said Waltrip. “Gene will do a good job working with my NAPA team and Bootie can help in other areas that should help me, David Reutimann, Marcos Ambrose, and our alliances with Prism Motorsports and Germain Racing. I want us to finish the season strong and anytime your organization can add quality people it should.”

Nead is a familiar face to MWR. Earlier this season, he worked for JTG Daugherty Racing who has a technical alliance with MWR. He led the team’s NASCAR Nationwide Series program with driver Michael McDowell. In 17 races, Nead’s expertise helped the young driver record 11 top-15 finishes.

Throughout his career, he has worked in all three of NASCAR’s major divisions winning the Camping World Truck Series title for Ultra Motorsports in 2005 with driver Ted Musgrave. He has also worked for organizations like Wood Brothers/JTG Daugherty Racing, Bill Davis Racing, Robby Gordon Motorsports and Kevin Harvick Racing.

Currently the No. 55 NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota is 32nd in the owner points standings and is just 190 points out of the top 25.

Monday, August 24, 2009

WALTRIP’S TOP-15 RUN ENDS WHEN TIRE IS CUT DOWN DURING CLOSING LAPS OF SHARPIE 500 AT BRISTOL


BRISTOL, TENN. – Michael Waltrip and the NAPA Racing team had a good run taken away on Saturday night when a tire was cut down with less than 10 laps to go in the Sharpie 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway. The problem resulted in a crash and a 31st-place finish.

“I am just so disappointed with what happened,” said Waltrip who started the Sharpie 500 in 36th position. “I saw smoke and told the guys about it. Pitting again under that caution to make sure everything was OK was an option, but we stayed out. It cost us a good finish.”

Mark Martin led the field to the green flag and it was not long until Waltrip was moving his way up through the field. By lap 60, he was already in the top 25. Meanwhile, the second caution of the race was thrown when Denny Hamlin had a tire issue. Crew chief Bootie Barker came over the radio to see what Waltrip needed. His answer was pretty simple – nothing. So on lap 66, the pit crew changed four tires and added fuel.

The race went back to green on lap 69 with Greg Biffle as the new leader and Waltrip was in 25th. The NAPA Toyota remained one of the fastest cars on the track as he broke into the top 20 by lap 132. Then three laps later, the caution was back out for debris. Waltrip told the team that he didn’t need any adjustments so the pit crew busted off a 14-second stop for four fresh tires and fuel. Waltrip picked up three positions on the track due to the fast stop. On the restart, he was scored in 15th and Mark Martin was back in the top spot.

The next green-flag run saw Waltrip compete in the top 20 despite the fact that the driver felt the set of tires he had on were not as good as the first two sets. Barker also told his driver that his teammate, Marcos Ambrose, was reporting the same issue. More than likely, the track was changing and the Michael Waltrip Racing cars were running on the tight side.

Another caution was thrown on lap 163. The NAPA team opted to stay out while most of the cars on the lead lap pitted. Waltrip restarted in 13th position and he held his own as his lap times were as fast as the leader.

Then at the halfway mark, Waltrip was on the verge of breaking into the top 10. On lap 357, the pit crew serviced the NAPA Toyota in 13 seconds. Waltrip returned to the track in 12th position and radar showed rain closing in on Thunder Valley. It made its appearance on lap 420 and NASCAR put out the caution flag. Barker kept Waltrip out while the leaders pitted. The NAPA Toyota was posted in the top spot on lap 425 and remained there for eight laps.
Lap 440 saw a multi-car crash take place right behind the No. 55 NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota. Sam Hornish made contact with Casey Mears. The cars of Kurt Busch, Kevin Harvick, Jimmie Johnson, Clint Bowyer, and Brian Vickers were also involved. The yellow allowed the NAPA crew to make another air pressure change, bolt on four fresh tires and add fuel. Waltrip returned to the track in 18th and Kyle Busch was the new leader.

The air pressure adjustments made during the last pit stop made Waltrip’s Toyota tighter. So on lap 459, the NAPA crew went back to work to lower the air pressure to free up the car. The stop took just 12.70 seconds. Busch remained the leader and Waltrip was in 17th position. The race resumed and the double-file restart saw close door-to-door racing. Contact was made between several cars including Martin Truex Jr. and Waltrip. Truex Jr. ended up on the short end of the stick to bring out the caution on 478. Waltrip’s left front was smoking so the team pitted on lap 481 to bolt on four fresh tires and pull out the sheet metal. Unfortunately, when the race restarted on lap 486, Waltrip still had a problem on the left side of the car. The left rear tire was rubbing the sheet metal. He held on as long as he could until the tire was finally cut down sending him hard into the turn three wall on lap 491 to end a solid run.

The final five laps of the Sharpie 500 saw Kyle Busch and Mark Martin go head-to-head but it was Busch who had the advantage. He went on to win his fourth race of the season. The victory helped him close in on a Chase birth as he is now just 34 points out of the coveted 12-place position to make a run at the Sprint Cup title.

Rounding out the top-10 finishers were Martin, Marcos Ambrose, Greg Biffle, Denny Hamlin, Ryan Newman, Kurt Busch, Jimmie Johnson, Dale Earnhardt Jr., and Matt Kenseth.

As for Waltrip’s teammates, David Reutimann finished 17th. Ambrose’s third place showing equates to his fourth top-five and eighth top-10 finish of the season.

This week the NASCAR Sprint Cup teams have their final weekend off. Waltrip is busy doing television. This Week in NASCAR will air tonight at 8 p.m. on SPEED. Then on Friday, he joins Phil Parsons and Rick Allen in the broadcast booth for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series event at the Chicagoland Speedway. Broadcast coverage of the race begins at 8:30 p.m. on SPEED.

Misfortune Strikes Bayne, Aaron’s Racing Team at Bristol


Bristol, Tenn. (Aug. 21, 2009) – A top-10 showing for Trevor Bayne and the Aaron’s Racing team was dashed when contact with another competitor on lap 136 of 250, strapped the No. 99 Toyota with a 24th-place finish in the Food City 250 at Bristol Motor Speedway.

As the Knoxville, Tenn.¸ native was battling for the 10th spot when he was tapped from behind, sending him into the outside retaining wall. The 18-year-old driver visited pit road several times to repair the damages and he ended up restarting 26th, two laps down to the leaders.
At the end of the day, it cost Bayne and Company a top-10 finish but all was not lost as Bayne received valuable seat time and boasted his starting average to 7.7 over 10 NASCAR Nationwide Series races.

In qualifying early Friday evening, Bayne wheeled the No. 99 Aaron’s Dream Machine Toyota around the .533-mile oval to its best lap of 15.950 seconds (120.301 mph), which was good enough to line up fifth for the 250-lap event.

Bayne remained in the top 10 during the opening 100 laps. However, a car that was a little loose to his liking dropped him to 12th on lap 120.

Unfortunately, 16 laps later, Bayne was tapped from behind and received heavy damage to the No. 99 machine. The Aaron’s Dream Machine was able to continue making laps but crossed the finish line 24th, four laps down to the leaders.

David Regan grabbed his second NASCAR Nationwide Series victory followed by Carl Edwards, Brad Keselowski, Kevin Harvick and Matt Kenseth.

Next week, the NASCAR Nationwide Series heads north of the border to Montreal for round 25 of the 35-race tour.

Patrick Carpentier will be behind the wheel of the No. 99 machine for the third running of the NAPA Auto Parts 200 from Circuit Gilles Villeneuve. Race coverage will be televised live on ESPN2 Sunday, August 30, beginning at 2 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time. The race will also broadcast live on the Motor Racing Network and Sirius/XM satellite Radio. Qualifying will air on ESPN2 Saturday, August 29, beginning at 9 p.m. EDT.

TREVOR BAYNE QUOTE:
“I was hoping for a good finish this weekend in front of the hometown crowd. We were running pretty well until I got hit from behind which sent me into the outside wall. I think we had a car capable of finishing in the top 10. However, the damage was just too severe to compete with the leaders.”

Ambrose Crosses Finish Line Third at Bristol Motor Speedway


Bristol, Tenn. (August 23, 2009) – Saturday night Marcos Ambrose recorded his fourth top-five finish of the 2009 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season crossing the finish line in third-place in his No. 47 Clorox® Toyota Camry at Bristol Motor Speedway. Ambrose was in contention for his first victory in the final eight laps of the 500-lap event as leader and eventual winner Kyle Busch battled Mark Martin for his fourth victory this year. Busch was able to hold off Martin to seal the deal while Greg Biffle finished fourth and Denny Hamlin rounded out the top-five.

“Just a wonderful night for me,” Ambrose said. “My first year in the Cup Series -- to be racing with Mark in his thousandth start, racing with Kyle Busch, who will probably go down in history as one of the best of all time -- I just feel privileged to be out there and running with them. It was a great day for me, great night for my sponsors. We are a first-year team, and I am a first-year driver -- to be running up there like we did tonight is pretty special. I wanted to race them hard. You know you're in very special territory up there. I'm just thrilled to be up there and have the finish like we did with good car speed. I didn't have anything for Mark (Martin) and Kyle (Busch) there at the very end, but just a great night overall.”

On Friday, the 32-year-old qualified 25th at the .533-mile concrete oval while Mark Martin captured his fifth pole of the season. After the start of the 24th race of the year, Ambrose was moving ahead and in 21st place when the first caution flag waved at Lap 61. A few laps later he was on pit road for four tires and an air pressure adjustment because his No. 47 Clorox® Toyota was loose off and tight in the middle. When the field returned to green flag racing, Ambrose was scored in 20th place and still too tight in the middle.

By Lap 84, Ambrose made up some ground and moved inside the top 15. The Australian driver continued to pick off positions one by one and on Lap 125 he advanced inside the top 10. According to crew chief Frank Kerr, he was turning laps times quicker than leader Mark Martin.

Under caution for debris at Lap 135, Kerr called Ambrose to pit road for the JTG-Daugherty Racing pit crew to fuel the car and change four tires. Kerr told Ambrose he was not making any changes to the car.

“The pit crew did an amazing job all night and they picked up a couple of positions on that stop,” Ambrose said. “We decided not to make any changes. The car was pretty good, but it was sometimes floating the nose and it was at times breaking loose on me.”

The No. 47 Clorox® Toyota was in good company on the restart at Lap 144 in eight-place. Mark Martin led the way with Kurt Busch, Jimmie Johnson, David Reutimann and Greg Biffle making up the top five.

When the caution flag waved again at Lap 163, Kerr elected to keep Ambrose on track.

“The Clorox® Toyota was getting tighter as the race went on,” Ambrose said.

“At that point we were not going to do a whole lot to the car,” Kerr said. “It was pretty good.”

Running in eight-place on the restart at Lap 170, Ambrose moved up to sixth place nine laps later. On Lap 181, Ambrose was on the inside of David Reutimann’s No. 00 Aaron’s Dream Machine Toyota Camry for fifth-place. As he completed the pass, Kerr keyed up the radio and told Ambrose he had the fastest car on the track.

On Lap 189, Ambrose was pleased when he passed three-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson for fourth-place. At the same time, Ambrose was running lap times as fast as Martin who showed the way. Settling into fourth-place, Ambrose did not stay there for long and was on the outside of Kyle Busch on Lap 211 challenging for third-place. He completed the pass, but was mired in lap traffic while at the same time trying to chase down leader Martin. Kurt Busch was trying to protect second place.

On Lap 254, the No. 34 car of John Andretti shot up into the outside retaining wall bringing out another caution allowing the JTG-Daugherty Racing team to change four tires and go up a quarter-round on the track bar. Ambrose restarted in sixth-place on Lap 263 and was back inside the top-five the next lap. Nearly 21 laps later, Ambrose fell outside the top-five due to handling. His Clorox® Toyota was loose in and off and tight in the middle.

“I told Frank to go back on the changes,” Ambrose said. “We were too loose in and off and snug in the middle.”

On Lap 357 under caution, the JTG-Daugherty Racing team put everything back and bolted on four fresh Goodyear tires that allowed Ambrose to keep his Camry inside the top-10. When NASCAR waved the caution flag for rain at Lap 420, Ambrose was back on pit road.

“We were too tight in the middle still,” Ambrose said. “We were pushy loose off too.”

Restarting 8th on Lap 431, Ambrose wasted no time to return to the top-five three laps later. With the laps winding down, the two-time V8 Supercar champion protected his third-place position that he snatched away from Ryan Newman at Lap 466.

On another restart at Lap 486, Ambrose slipped from third to fifth as the caution flag waved again four laps later for an accident involving the No. 55 NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota driven by Michael Waltrip. With eight laps remaining, NASCAR red flagged the event as Kyle Busch occupied first-place, Mark Martin was second, Greg Biffle third and Ambrose was fourth with Dale Earnhardt Jr. behind him. When the field got the green flag for the final time, Ambrose passed Greg Biffle for third while Martin was inside the No. 18 car of Kyle Busch battling for his fifth win of the season. Busch was able to hold him off for another victory and Ambrose posted his second third-place finish of the year.

“I don't feel like I'm comfortable just yet,” said Ambrose after his impressive finish. “I don't feel like I'm safe in the sport, I don't. Consistency is an issue for me. I have good runs like this and then I'll back it up like last week and run 35th. I feel privileged to be driving for Tad and Jody Geschickter (team owners, JTG-Daugherty). They have given me a chance of a lifetime and I want to pay them back as much as I can. We're just thrilled to be in the sport. Like I said, I didn't ask anything from anybody. I didn't expect to be given any breaks. I didn't want any special treatment. I knew I had to learn from scratch, fight my way up through the categories. I've finished top 10 both years in the Nationwide Series with a limited budget against the big Cup teams. Really proud of what we've done. We've kept growing, kept moving forward. We haven't finished. We announced a wonderful sponsor today in Kleenex. In a time where sponsorships are dropping and teams are reducing what they're doing, we're growing. It's just very exciting time for us.”

This weekend the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series enjoys a weekend off. Next up is the Pep Boys Auto 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on Sunday, September 6th. Live coverage on ESPN and PRN Radio begins at 7 p.m. ET.

REUTIMANN FINISHES 17TH AT BRISTOL MOTOR SPEEDWAY


Late Race Pit Stop Erases Another Top-Ten Finish

BRISTOL, TN (August 23, 2009) David Reutimann finished 17th in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Sharpie 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway after late-race contact bent the left-front wheel of the No. 00 Aaron’s Dream Machine and forced an unscheduled pit stop to change the tires and wheels. Reutimann had run top-ten for most of the 500-lap event at “The Worlds Fastest Half Mile” and was looking at another solid points night, but the mediocre finish actually moved Reutimann further away from the top-12 cutoff position for the Championship Chase.

Taking the green flag in the 18th position, Reutimann quickly maneuvered his way through the field breaking into the top-ten on lap 21 and moving as high as fourth by lap-147. Fighting a loose racecar early in the event, the Dream Machine was fast during long green-flag runs and ran comfortably in the top-ten for the first half of the race.

However as the evening wore on and the track cooled, more rubber was laid down on the concrete racing surface and the handling began to go away as the Dream Machine lost grip through the high-banked turns. Reutimann would drop back as far as 22nd as Crew Chief Rodney Childers and the Aaron’s team worked hard during several midrace pit stops to make the right adjustments and get the handling back.

Making a two-tire change with 80-laps remaining would put Reutimann back into the top-ten, but contact with the No. 2 car on lap-475 bent the left-front wheel and caused a serious vibration that forced the Dream Machine back down pit road.

With only 15 laps remaining and one of the few cars on track with four fresh tires, Reutimann was poised to make a run back into the top-ten but was boxed in by traffic and took the checkered flag in 17th.

“The Dream Machine was a handful tonight but Rodney and the guys did a great job on pit road keeping me in the top-ten.” Reutimann said after the race. “The bent wheel put us back there at the end and there just wasn’t enough time to make it up. It’s disappointing, but we’ll try it again in a couple of weeks at Atlanta.”

Kyle Busch won the Sharpie 500 followed by Mark Martin, Marcos Ambros, Greg Biffle and Denny Hamlin.

The team is now 160 points away from twelfth in the Championship points race with only two races remaining on the schedule to qualify for the Chase for the Championship.

The Sprint Cup Series has a weekend off then returns to action at Atlanta Motor Speedway on September 6.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Blue Skies Ahead for Ambrose and JTG-Daugherty Racing Team


Bristol, Tenn. (August 19, 2009) – Tad and Jodi Geschickter started their NASCAR ownership career in 1994 in the NASCAR Nationwide Series and celebrated their first victory at Bristol Motor Speedway with Jeff Fuller in March 1996. Now, JTG-Daugherty Racing is earning their keep as a serious contender in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series with driver Marcos Ambrose. This week they return to the site of their first NASCAR victory in the Nationwide Series looking to capture their first Cup Series win with the Australian driver in the No. 47 Clorox® Toyota Camry.

“We have come a long way in a short period of time in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. My hat’s off to Marcos and the crew. The No. 47 car is starting to turn some heads,” Tad Geschickter said.

As owners of JTG-Daugherty Racing, this season the Geschickter’s and Brad Daugherty have three top-five, six top-10, 13 top-20 finishes and their driver almost delivered their first Cup victory at Watkins Glen International. Ambrose’s career-best runner-up finish at The Glen came on the heels of his second Nationwide Series career victory driving for JTG-Daugherty at the road course in the Zippo 200. Things are really coming together for the race team after 25 starts in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. With sponsorship deals gelling and a home for the organization in 2010 close to being inked, the future is bright according to Ambrose.“Everything is going great for our organization and we have some sponsor announcements around the corner,” Ambrose said. “Things are coming to fruition for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series program and I’m really looking forward to 2010. We’re close to having what we need for the future. It’s a lot of fun and I think we have a lot of blue sky in front of us.” More immediate, Ambrose has his first night race in the No. 47 Clorox® Toyota Camry at Bristol Motor Speedway (BMS) Saturday. Earlier this season, he admitted he did not know what to expect for his first time around the .533-mile concrete oval in the Cup Series.“We didn’t have any expectations and we ran in the top-five,” Ambrose said. “We were pleasantly surprised.”The 32-year-old was on path for a top-five finish at BMS until mechanical problems derailed his efforts, but the JTG-Daugherty Racing team rallied back to finish 10th. “We were a little disappointed with a 10th-place finish because we had a car capable of winning or at least finishing in the top-five,” Ambrose said. “But, I did have a blast racing there and I can’t wait to race at night. The Sharpie 500 is a special race and one of the biggest events of the year in my opinion. If we can stay out of harm's way, we feel like we have a shot this weekend.”Before Bristol, Ambrose took a detour for another outback adventure. Ambrose tested a Grand-Am prototype Sportscar for the first time in his career at Virginia International Raceway on Tuesday along with fellow NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Carl Edwards. Ambrose tested the No. 77 Dallara of Doran Racing. Both Ambrose and Edwards set respectable lap times around the North Course at ‘VIR’, reaching competitive times aboard the 500-horsepower machine over the course of the day. Team Owner Kevin Doran's No. 77 Daytona Prototype has competed in all nine rounds of the 2009 Grand-Am Rolex Series, with a best finish of fifth at Virginia International Raceway in April, with Memo Gidley and Brad Jaeger at the wheel.

Live coverage of the Sharpie 500 on Sunday, August 22nd starts at 6:30 p.m. Eastern on ESPN. MRN and Sirius PRN will also carry the event beginning at 7 p.m. ET.

NAPA RACING PRESS BOX FEATURING MICHAEL WALTRIP


What is your take on The Chase?
“With just three races left to get into The Chase, it is really tight. If you are Juan Pablo Montoya in seventh, he cannot rest easy. If he breaks a motor, he could very well be on the cusp of not making it. Drivers in positions seventh and all the way down to 16th have a shot of making it into The Chase. Anything can happen. I am glad to see Reutimann is still in it as a contender. He’s just 100 points out.”

Why is fuel mileage coming into play quite a bit this season when determining the outcome of a race?
“It’s all about strategy. Crew chiefs are making the drivers pit outside their window and it is not uncommon for a crew chief to say you can go 45 laps, but pit with 55 to go and save me some gas. If you can go 45, then why go 55? It gives them track position, but it doesn’t give them enough gas to get to the finish. It’s all about trying to get that competitive edge. At Michigan, the driver that finished 33rd was leading the race when he ran out of fuel. The guy that finished 31st was running in the top five when he ran out. That’s how competitive things are. That’s how tightly the cars are stacked together. You just have to take chances. I don’t really like talking about races being all about fuel mileage. It’s all about strategy.”

Bristol is the last track we go to this season that has pits on the front and backstretch. Is it tough pitting there?
“If you are pitting on the back straightaway under green-flag conditions, you’ll come down the front straightaway and it can be confusing. People have to understand that you are running a half mile in 15 seconds. Spotters are so important at Bristol to help keep us straight and provide us with all kinds of information. The driver needs to be told with 10 to go that he’s going to pit and where he needs to go. Drivers need all the information they can get at Bristol so they don’t make silly mistakes.”

Bristol is one of your favorite tracks. What are you really looking forward to?
“Double file restarts -- shootout style. They are going to be so much fun.”


Michael Waltrip Fast Facts

NAPA AUTO PARTS driver Michael Waltrip will start in his 747th NASCAR Sprint Cup race when he competes in the Sharpie 500 at the Bristol Motor Speedway (BMS) in Bristol, Tenn.

He will start in his 47th race at the .533-mile track. His best Bristol start is third, three times (August 26, 1995, August 24, 2002 and August 23, 2003) and best finish is fifth (April 10, 1994).

During his Cup career at BMS, Waltrip has earned one top-five and eight top-10 finishes. His average start is 23rd and average finish is 20th. Waltrip has completed 20,176 of 22,851 laps (88.3%) at the track and has led a total of 71 laps in competition.

In Nationwide Series competition, he has two victories (April 3, 1993 & August 23, 2003), five top-five and 10 top-10 finishes.

The NAPA AUTO PARTS team is guaranteed a starting spot in the Sharpie 500. Currently, the team ranks 31st in the owner points standings and is 213 points out of the top-25. Waltrip is guaranteed a starting spot in Sunday’s race.

Trevor Bayne Previews Bristol Motor Speedway


NOTES:
· This week’s No. 99 Aaron’s Dream Machine Toyota at Bristol Motor Speedway … Trevor Bayne will pilot Chassis No. 046 from the Michael Waltrip Racing NASCAR Nationwide Series stable this weekend at Bristol Motor Speedway. Built new for 2009, this is the same car Bayne raced to a 27th-place finish at Gateway International Speedway in St. Louis, Mo. in July. Additionally, Scott Speed drove this car to an eighth-place finish at Bristol Motor Speedway in March and to a 13th-place finish at Darlington Raceway in May.
· What a Start … In eight starts behind the wheel of the No. 99 Toyota Camry, Bayne has tallied a 5.75 starting average. Additionally, he grabbed his first NNS pole at O’Reilly Raceway Park in June and crossed the finish line seventh. His highest NNS finish to date.
· Where it all Began … This Friday Bayne will return to the site of his first NACAR Nationwide Series start. The 18-year-old driver drove the No. 52 Jimmy Mean’s entry to a 23rd-place finish in March 2009.
· Hometown Kid … Bayne hails from Knoxville, Tenn., which is located approximately 120 miles southwest of Bristol. Since joining the MWR racing ream, Bayne has grabbed one pole, one top-10 and four top15 finishes.
· Vote, Vote, Vote … Go to http://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.
· Bayne on the SPEED Stage … Bayne will be a guest on this week’s addition of NASCAR Trackside. NASCAR Trackside will shoot this week’s installment live from the SPEED Stage Fri. Aug. 21 from 7-8 p.m. local time. The SPEED Stage will be located in the Bristol Motor Speedway FanZone.
· Racing to Read … Bayne will visit Cherokee Elementary School in Johnson City, Tenn. on Thursday, August 20 to help promote positive reading habits. The rookie driver will talk with the students and then sign autographs for them.
· After 23 … Over the season’s first 23 races, the No. 99 team has notched four top-10 and 12 top-15 finishes. The MWR team sits 16th in the owners’ point standings. They are only 73 points behind the No. 62 entry owned by Rusty Wallace in 15th.
· Meet the Driver … Bayne will sign autographs from 5-7 p.m. on Thurs. Aug. 20 at the 2009 Food City Family Race Night. The Food City Family Race Night is located on State Street in Bristol, Tenn.
· Online with the Times … To keep up with the latest news and information about Bayne visit his official website at http://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 Food City 250 will be televised live on Friday, August 21 beginning at 7:30 p.m. EDT on ESPN2. PRN and Sirius/XM Satellite Radio will begin their live race coverage at 7:15 p.m. EDT. Qualifying for the 24th event of the 2009 NNS season will air live the same day beginning at 4 p.m. EDT on SPEED. PRN and Sirius XM Satellite Radio will also broadcast live updates of time trials.

TREVOR BAYNE QUOTE:

What is it like racing in front of the hometown crowd?
“It’s really cool to race in front of people that have watched you through your entire racing career. This weekend there are about 50 people that are taking a bus to come watch me race at Bristol. It’s going to be really cool to have my own cheering section.”

From a driver’s standpoint, what is the night race at Bristol like?
“I really enjoy racing at Bristol. It’s a very physical and very competitive track. It is an emotionally draining race as well as being physically draining. The track is so small and there is never a chance for a break. However, the night atmosphere reminds me of good old Friday night racing.”

David Reutimann Fast Facts for Bristol


Twitter Question of the Week: @ragan6braunfan asks what you like best about racing at Bristol?
"I love Bristol. What makes it a fun track to race at is the action it produces. It reminds me of an old Saturday night modified dirt race that I grew up competing in."

Opinion on the "new Bristol" racing surface:
"It's hard to say - I'm really indecisive. I still think it provides some of the best racing a short track can produce. It's just now you don't bounce around as much because the track's so smooth. However fans shouldn't get worried, the more we race on the new surface the more beating and banging you'll see. Plus, don't forget to add in the double-file restarts factor."

In 11 trips to Bristol, you have seven finishes in the top-12, including two 3rd-place finishes. Why do you think you've had success there?
"It's a Tennessee track, so I consider it a great track for me. For some reason, if it's a track in that state then I tend to race well there and Bristol is not an exception. It just suites me because you have to grind your way to the front and I think you learn that if you grow up racing on short dirt tracks."

Impact of running in the Nationwide Series at Bristol:
"Additional laps at any track help you. For example, you can determine tire wear or were to set other drivers up to pass. At Bristol with a new surface, it can help in establishing the best areas to run on the track."

Goals for this weekend at Michigan:
"Keep chipping away with top-ten finishes and stay in contention for the Chase."

2009 NSCS Points Standings: Reutimann is currently in 16th, 118 points behind 12th place.
Chassis Information: The No. 00 Aaron’s Dream Machine for Bristol is chassis No. 625. This chassis competed at Las Vegas and finished 4th. It also ran at Michigan in June.

Race Information: Watch the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in action at Bristol Motor Speedway on Saturday, August 22. Race coverage for the Sharpie 500 begins at 6:30 p.m. ET on ESPN.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Ambrose Survives Long Day at Michigan


Sunday afternoon at Michigan International Speedway Marcos Ambrose started 26th and finished 36th behind the wheel of the No. 47 Little Debbie® Toyota Camry Toyota in his 33rd career NASCAR Sprint Cup start. He completed 199 of 200 laps at the two-mile tri-oval and held on to 17th-place in the driver championship standings in his first full season of competition in the premiere division.

It was not the finish the JTG-Daugherty team was hoping for, especially following a win in the NASCAR Nationwide Series Zippo 200 and a runner-up finish in the Sprint Cup Series race at Watkins Glen International. The team is learning and growing from their experiences and this weekend is no different as they turned their focus to Bristol Motor Speedway where they had a shot at winning until experiencing mechanical problems. The JTG-Daugherty Racing team rallied back to finish 10th.

“We’ll put Michigan behind us and go on to Bristol,” Ambrose said. “Handling was a challenge for us. We got caught a lap down and we were not able to recover from that.”

After starting 26th, Ambrose’s Little Debbie® Toyota was snug in the middle. On Lap 6 of the 200-lap event, the race was red flagged due to light rain on the two-mile tri-oval. Once the 43-car field was rolling again, Ambrose dove to pit road for two tires and adjustments. He restarted 23rd and was closing in on the top-15.

“We were loose off the throttle,” Ambrose said. “As the race went on, we were loose in, tight in the middle and lose off.”

On Lap 44 under green, crew chief Frank Kerr called for four tires and changes to the Little Debbie® machine. A few laps later, Ambrose was actually looser with no front grip. Kerr and the JTG-Daugherty Racing team went back to work on the car under caution at Lap 54 making a track bar and air pressure adjustment. Mired back in traffic on the restart at Lap 58, Ambrose was 30th as Matt Kenseth led the field to green.

“I had no forward drive,” Ambrose said. “It was still loose in after the changes we made and had no front grip.”

On Lap 93, the pit crew had another opportunity to take a stab at it. They made more changes and put Ambrose back on track in 36th-place.

“We were still battling with having no front grip and we lost a lap to the leader,” Ambrose said. “The right front was really giving up.”

Back in on Lap 118 under caution, Kerr threw everything he had at it as the Little Debbie Toyota still had no grip and seemed to get worse as the race progressed. Once again the yellow flag waved 17 laps later, Ambrose was back on pit road for more service. Then Kerr brought him back in on Lap 150.

“With 50 laps to go, they changed four tires and put rubbers in the left rear and made a wedge adjustment,” Ambrose said. “They didn’t give up and just kept working on it.”

Back to green flag racing, Ambrose was in 35th-place still one lap down as his teammate David Reutimann led the field on Lap 152. A few laps later, it was back to pit road for Ambrose.

“We just kept pitting trying to improve the handling of the car,” Ambrose said.

With 39 laps remaining, Brian Vickers set the pace as Ambrose was in 35th-place. Vickers would go on to win the race and Ambrose crossed the finish line in 35th-place.
Live coverage of the Sharpie 500 on Saturday, August 22nd starts at 6:30 p.m. Eastern on ESPN. MRN and Sirius PRN will also carry the event beginning at 7 p.m. ET.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Late-Race Skirmish Leaves Bayne 30th at Michigan


Brooklyn, Mich. (Aug. 15, 2009) – Trevor Bayne’s No. 99 Aaron’s Dream Machine was a mainstay in the top 15 in Saturday’s CARFAX 250 at Michigan International Speedway, but an incident with just a few laps remaining relegated the 18-year-old driver to a 30th-place finish.
Bayne recorded the fifth-fastest time in Friday’s final practice session and on Saturday morning ran a lap of 39.155 seconds at an average speed of 183.885 mph to place him second on the starting grid for Saturday afternoon’s race.
At the drop of the green flag, Bayne fell back to seventh before contact with Carl Edwards sent him spinning on lap three. The 18-year-old driver received minor damage to the right-front fender but was forced to hit pit road several times for repairs. Bayne restarted 36thon lap nine.
The Knoxville, Tenn., native quickly worked his way back trough the field and was listed 17th when green-flag pit stops began on lap 41. Fortunately, the caution flag flew before crew chief Jerry Baxter summoned his driver to pit road allowing the No. 99 team to pit under caution and restart the race eighth on lap 49.
Baxter’s adjustments kept the Aaron’s Dream Machine in tune and Bayne remained in the top 15 over the course of the 125-lap event.
As the race neared the conclusion, the No. 14 car spun in Turn 2 and brought out the caution flag at lap 114. Bayne lined up 16th for the lap 118 restart. As the final laps clicked away it looked like Bayne was going to bring home another top 15 for the No. 99 team. Unfortunately, something happened and Bayne hit the outside wall hard and was left with a 30th-place finish.
Brad Keselowski grabbed his third win of the season followed by Brain Vickers, Kyle Busch, David Ragan and Kevin Harvick.
Short-track action kicks in to high gear next weekend for the annual NASCAR Nationwide Series late-summer race at the “World’s Fastest Half Mile.”
The Food City 250 from Bristol Motor Speedway will take the green flag Friday, Aug. 21 at 7:30 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time. The race will be televised live on ESPN2 beginning at 7:00 p.m. EDT broadcast from coast-to-coast on the Performance Racing Network and Sirius/XM Satellite Radio. Qualifying will be televised live on SPEED Friday, Aug. 21 at 4 p.m. EDT. PRN and

TREVOR BAYNE QUOTE:
“Our car was a little loose at the beginning of the race. Jerry Baxter (crew chief) and the crew were able to make it better and better all race. Something happened to the car on the last few laps and I hit the outside wall pretty hard. It wasn’t the day we wanted but we will take what we learned and move on from here.”

NAPA TEAM FORGES ON AT MICHIGAN INTERNATIONAL SPEEDWAY WITH 27th-PLACE FINISH


BROOKLYN, Mich. – It was a mixed bag of results for Michael Waltrip Racing during Sunday’s running of the CARFAX 400 at Michigan International Speedway. The organization’s top finisher was David Reutimann. He scored his seventh top-10 finish of the season with a ninth-place result. He remains in contention for birth in The Chase as he sits just 118 points out of the coveted 12th position. NAPA Racing’s Michael Waltrip picked up five positions on his last run to finish in 27th position. As for JTG-Daugherty’s Marcos Ambrose, he had a tough day and crossed the finish line in 35th place.

“I appreciate all the hard work,” said Waltrip to his crew after the race concluded. “That race felt like the most I’ve ever accomplished in my whole life. It was really hard and not a lot of fun.”

Brian Vickers led the field to the green flag, but it took just seven laps for rain to make an appearance for the third straight week. NASCAR red flagged the event for 20 minutes. Waltrip, who qualified 30th, came over the radio to let the team know that his NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota was extremely loose, but the front end of the car was under him. He requested changes that would tighten up the car without losing the front. When the yellow flag was back out, crew chief Bootie Barker brought his driver down pit road for spring rubber adjustments. The pit crew completed the service in 15 seconds and got Waltrip back out in 35th position.

For the entire 200-lap event, Waltrip had his hands full with a very ill-handling NAPA Toyota. The team made every effort to improve the car, but the extremely loose condition persisted despite stops for changes on laps 44, 54, 95, 116, 134 and 159. Spring rubber, track bar, wedge and air pressure adjustments were all a part of the equation. But to no avail, Waltrip held on and managed the best he could to make up the most ground at the very end of the CARFAX 400 that equated to his 27th-place result.

Meanwhile, fans were treated to an exciting finish that saw Vickers and Jimmie Johnson go head-to-head for the win. However with just three laps to go, Johnson had to relinquish the lead by ducking onto pit road for a splash of fuel in order to make it to the finish. The Toyota driver was good to go and made it on fuel to score his second NASCAR Sprint Cup victory of his career.

Finishing behind Vickers to round out the top-10 were Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Carl Edwards, Sam Hornish Jr., Casey Mears, Joey Logano, Clint Bowyer, Reutimann and Denny Hamlin.

Next Saturday night Waltrip and the NAPA team go to Thunder Valley for the Sharpie 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway. Broadcast coverage of the event gets underway on Saturday at 6:30 p.m. ET on ESPN. It can also be heard on Sirius XM Satellite Radio and MRN.

REUTIMANN PICKS UP ANOTHER TOP-10; FINISHES NINTH AT MICHIGAN


BROOKLYN, Mich. (August 16, 2009) – With only four races left before the Chase for the Championship, the goal each week is to finish in the top ten and pick up points. On Sunday at Michigan International Speedway David Reutimann was able to do both, finishing ninth in the CARFAX 400.

The weekend didn’t start out the way the Aaron’s team would’ve liked. The No. 00 Aaron’s Dream Machine did not handle well through all three practices and qualified 31st. But crew chief Rodney Childers and the Aaron’s crew continued to work on the Aaron’s Toyota and by the start of the race they were confident that Reutimann would be able to move up through the field.

At the drop of green flag, it appeared Childers was right. Just over 30 laps into the race, Reutimann and the No. 00 Aaron’s Dream Machine had moved up from 31st to 20th. Through that time Reutimann was very quiet on the radio, which is normally a sign that his car is running well.

Finally on lap 52, Reutimann radioed in his approval on the current state of the Aaron’s Dream Machine Toyota. “It’s good on the exit (of the turns), good on entry. We might need to work on the center of the turns.”

That gave Childers the confidence to take only two tires and make no adjustments on the pit stop at lap 55. The short stop moved Reutimann from 19th to 6th. The track position would prove valuable as Reutimann would continue to race in or just behind the top ten for most of the day.

By the next pit stop at lap 94, the Aaron’s Dream Machine was running too tight. “It’s getting tighter and tighter and tighter,” said Reutimann. To help Childers would call for four new tires and a handling adjustment to the left-rear.

Taking a little more time on this stop, Reutimann would restart 15th. But the adjustment helped ‘free up’ the Aaron’s Dream Machine and within a few laps he was back up to 10th.

As the race wore down, fuel mileage started to become an issue – as it normally does at Michigan. Teams up and down pit road were trying various pit-stop strategies in order to give their driver the best opportunity at a top finish.

Rodney Childers decided on lap 150 to make such a strategic move. While other teams were pitting following a short caution for rain, Childers told Reutimann to stay on the track. He decided that since most cars would have to pit again for fuel it was worth the gamble to stay out and move up to the lead position, picking up five precious points for leading a lap.

Just seven laps later the caution flag came out when the No. 12 of David Stremme spun in the middle of the track. This allowed Reutimann to pit for four new tires and 13 gallons of fuel. Unfortunately, it also cost him track position, putting him back to 20th on the restart.

“I’m sorry. I probably should have brought you in earlier for two tires and then we could’ve just come in for a gas-only stop this time,” said Childers.

But with an Aaron’s Dream Machine packed full of fuel and running well, Reutimann was confident he could make up the spots. On lap 164 he was up to 17th, then 14th by lap 177. As the race moved into the last ten laps Reutimann was charging while the leaders were doing their best to save fuel.

Finally, on the last lap Reutimann was able to move into ninth place, where he would finish.

“Great job,” said Childers. “I probably cost us a few positions (with the pit strategy). But from where this car was when we started the weekend to be able to get ninth … shows you how good this team is. Everyone worked hard to get us here.”

Reutimann echoed those sentiments, “We struggled since we unloaded and the day went a lot better than I think we anticipated it going. We ended up with a decent finish. I’m proud of my guys and we just kept working all we could and rolled the dice this morning. We knew we weren’t even going to be close the way we were so we had to try to do something. Rodney (Childers, crew chief) made the right call and the car was pretty good.”
Brian Vickers scored his second career victory as leader Jimmie Johnson was forced to stop for fuel with a little more than one lap to go. Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Carl Edwards and Sam Hornish complete the top five.

The ninth-place finish kept Reutimann and moved him slightly closer to the coveted 12th position in the points. Kyle Busch, with his 23rd-place finish, slid back two positions and now sits just ahead of Reutimann in 15th. “I am just trying to finish ahead of those guys (ahead of us),” said Reutimann. “That’s all we can do. It’s going to be tough, but we just have to go race hard.”

With only three races remaining before the Chase cut-off, Reutimann will look to make up more ground next week at Bristol Motor Speedway. The Sharpie 500 will be shown live on ESPN beginning at 6:30 p.m. on Saturday night.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Truex Wins at Lime Rock Park, Extends Points Lead


Official Release (courtesy of nascarmedia.com)

LAKEVILLE, Conn. – NASCAR Camping World Series East rookie Ryan Truex completed the road-course sweep in the Mohegan Sun 200 Saturday at Lime Rock Park to move into the driver’s seat for the series title.

Matt DiBenedetto, who sat on the pole and led a race-high 56 laps, was caught up in an accident on Lap 70 and Truex – second place at the time – assumed the lead for the second time in the race. The 17-year-old from Mayetta, N.J., then held off series veteran Eddie MacDonald on the final two restarts to earn his third victory of the season.

Truex, a Michael Waltrip Racing development driver, earned his first career victory on a road course at Watkins (N.Y.) Glen International in June and took the points lead for the first time after his first oval track win at Thompson (Conn.) International Speedway in July. On Saturday at Lime Rock, his win extended his lead in the championship standings to a season-high 50 points over MacDonald.

While MacDonald record his best career effort at the 1.53-mile road course, several other contenders struggled.

Defending race and series champion Matt Kobyluck, who entered the day 60 points behind Truex, had engine trouble from the start. The team worked to get his car back out onto the track and he was able to turn in 38 laps before being involved in the Lap 70 accident that eventually caught up race leader DiBenedetto. Kobyluck had to settle for a 17th place finish and is 133 points behind Truex with just two races remaining in his bid to repeat as NASCAR Camping World Series East champion.

Brett Moffitt (ninth), Steve Park (11th) and Jody Lavender (13th) all entered the event within 100 points of Truex but lost considerable ground.

Jason Holehouse earned his best career NASCAR Camping World Series East finish with a third-place effort on Saturday. He was followed in the top five by Alex Kennedy, with a new career-best finish as well, and Mike Olsen.

Jesus Hernandez, Ryan Duff, Dustin Delaney, Brett Moffitt and Jeff Anton rounded out the top 10.

The next-to-last race of the 2009 NASCAR Camping World Series season will take place at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. The Heluva Good! Fall 125 is slated for Friday, Sept. 18.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

BEST WESTERN’S SECOND ANNUAL “FAN SWAP” GIVES FANS THE CHANCE TO SWAP JOBS WITH DRIVER MICHAEL WALTRIP


PHOENIX (August 13, 2009) – As the Official Hotel of NASCAR®, Best Western has teamed up with Michael Waltrip Racing to make one lucky race fan’s dream come true when they win a trip to Cornelius, N.C., to “swap” jobs for a day with two-time Daytona 500 winner Michael Waltrip and then travel with his race team to the races in Richmond, Va.

Fans who visit the Best Western “Fan Swap” auction August 14 through August 24, will have the opportunity to bid on the Fan Swap prize which includes travel to Raceworld USA in Cornelius, where they will work as Michael Waltrip does for one day. After their stint at Raceworld USA, the winner and a guest will travel with the Michael Waltrip Race Team to experience the races with VIP treatment in Richmond, September 11-13.

As an added bonus, Waltrip will travel to the winning bidder’s hometown and work as they would for an afternoon, meeting with their friends and family and interacting with co-workers and colleagues. Proceeds from the “Fan Swap” auction will benefit
World Vision, Best Western’s official charity partner, dedicated to alleviating the causes of poverty and injustice among children and families around the world.

The “Fan Swap” auction begins Friday, August 14 at 2:00 p.m. EDT/5:00 p.m. PDT and will end at 2:00 p.m. EDT/5:00 p.m. PDT on August 24. Fans should visit
www.auctionjam.com/fanswap to review the auction’s official rules and regulations.

“NASCAR fans who have ever dreamed about overseeing their own race team now have the opportunity to do so – at least for one day, with our second annual Fan Swap promotion,” said Dorothy Dowling, Best Western’s senior vice president of marketing and sales. “Last year we gave the winning bidder a once-in-a-lifetime experience in Michael Waltrip’s shoes, and this year we are also offering a chance to travel with the Michael Waltrip Racing team to the races in Richmond. Once again, thanks to our partnership with
World Vision, all proceeds from this unique promotion will make a difference for children in need.”

All proceeds from the “Fan Swap” auction will benefit World Vision, Best Western’s charity of choice. Proceeds will purchase backpacks and school supplies through the charity’s SchoolTools program. Best Western's owners and staff will pack the backpacks during their annual convention this fall, and distribute to children in need throughout the United States.
The complete “Fan Swap” package also includes:

Roundtrip airfare to Charlotte, lodging and local transportation for two
VIP experience at Raceworld USA, the headquarters of Michael Waltrip Racing
Lunch with Waltrip and possibly David Reutimann
Official Michael Waltrip racing gear
The winner and guest will travel with the Michael Waltrip Racing team to Richmond, Va where they will be awarded accommodations and tickets to both of the weekend’s races
The winner and guest will also receive airfare home from Richmond
At a later date, Michael Waltrip will visit the winner’s hometown and work as they would for a day as well

“NASCAR fans are some of the most loyal fans in all of sports but unfortunately that doesn’t mean they’ll be able to keep up with my hectic schedule as a full-time driver and team owner,” Waltrip said. “Get ready for an experience of a lifetime as Best Western and Michael Waltrip Racing prepare to launch the second annual Fan Swap charity auction!”

For official rules and to register,please visit
www.auctionjam.com/fanswap.

Macros Ambrose - Carfax 400 Preview


Brooklyn, Mich. (August 13, 2009) – Fair dinkum, Marcos Ambrose had a near perfect weekend at Watkins Glen International earning his second career NASCAR Nationwide Series Zippo 200 win for STP and then posting a runnerup finish on Monday in his No. 47 Little Debbie® Toyota.Now, the Australian travels to Michigan International Speedway for race number 23 with the same desire and determination in hopes of capturing his first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series victory to add to his three top-five and six top-10 finishes.

“On Saturday, it was the first Nationwide Series race I ran this year for STP and we won it and then came really close to winning the Cup race for Little Debbie and all of our sponsors,” Ambrose said. “We are getting it done as a team and we’ve got great equipment. We are ready to play with the big boys.

“We’ve had a great year and we can’t complain,” Ambrose continued. “Everything is a bonus from here on in. It has been a lot of fun and I love NASCAR. I just can’t wait to snag one on the Cup level. Who would have thought you would finish second and feel disappointed?”

“Fair dinkum, we just had a great weekend,” Ambrose added. “If you don’t know what fair dinkum means, it is something that is genuine. For example, If we’re talking about Tony Stewart and you say ‘Fair dinkum he’s the best’, that means he’s genuinely the best in your opinion. It is a term of endearment. People some times take me the wrong way and I’ve got in trouble with my pit crew. I’ve called them mates during a stop and they didn’t understand me. They thought I was actually bagging them out after the pit stop, but I was saying ‘good job mates’ and giving them a compliment.”

Frank Kerr, who led Ambrose to his second Zippo 200 victory and second-place finish in the Heluva Good! at The Glen, is still surprised by his No. 47 Little Debbie® Toyota Cup team’s progress.

“If someone would have said that we were going to be 17th in points at this point, I would have said you were crazy,” Kerr said. “Even though Marcos is not called a rookie, he is a rookie and attends all the meetings. He just ran one too many races last year to have that status, but he still has the yellow stripe on his bumper. So, each week I remind him, ‘Well, there’s another top rookie deal you missed out on.’ We’re just happy for him that the car’s running well. A lot of the guys on our team came from the No. 44 and 00 teams. We adopted them and we are all enjoying the success we are having."

Mixed in with the success there have been a few hiccups with mechanical failures along the way that have kept the JTG-Daugherty team outside the top-12. There are always what ifs, but Kerr and his JTG-Daugherty Racing team are focused on the future and not the past.

“We take our licks and keep digging,” Kerr said. “Sure, take away the failures we had at Atlanta (Motor Speedway), Texas (Motor Speedway) and the problems we had at Bristol (Motor Speedway) and the wreck we were collected in at Pocono (Raceway), we would be well inside the top-15. But, that’s dumb racing luck and you can’t do anything about that. All I know is that Marcos has developed into a great race car driver. I don’t think he has a bad place on the circuit. Earlier this year, we thought man we are going to Bristol and didn’t know how he would do. He actually had a shot at winning there until he dropped a cylinder. We’re really looking forward to going back there next week.”

Before the team can focus on Bristol Motor Speedway, their mindset is Michigan International Speedway where they admit to struggling earlier this year. Ambrose started 33rd and finished 31st.

“We can’t go back to the setup we had at Michigan because the whole company ran bad,” Kerr said. “We’re bringing a new car with a different package. Every race at Michigan is about fuel. Throughout history it has come down to fuel mileage. We’ve tested at a few tracks for it and Toyota has worked hard on that. We had an incredible weekend at Watkins Glen thanks to Toyota and we are hoping to have another good one at Michigan.”

Kerr's driver realizes Watkins Glen was a piece of cake. Now, Ambrose is wanting to transfer that success and conquer the two-mile Michigan tri-oval that was a hurdle for his JTG-Daugherty Racing team in June.

“I wonder if I can be successful on a tricky road course, how come I can’t get out of my own way on an oval some days,” Ambrose said. “I guess certain tracks suit certain people and some drivers are just brilliant everywhere. That’s where I hope to be one day. I want to be one of those guys that can convert to an oval, a short track, a superspeedway or a road course like we had at Watkins Glen.”

And then there are the dirt tracks. Ambrose has turned laps on three different dirt tracks over the course of six days to brace himself for the fifth annual Gillette Young Guns Prelude to the Dream on Wednesday, September 9th at Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio. On Friday night he raced at Black Rock Speedway in Dundee, N.Y. in a celebrity race against David Reutimann, Bob Dillner, Michael McDowell and others. Then on Tuesday, he tested his 2,300-pound dirt Late Model Prelude stock car owned by Bob Straight at Cherokee Speedway in South Carolina. That same night he raced in the GM Perf Late Models feature at Carolina Speedway in Gastonia (N.C.) and finished 14th. Tonight, Ambrose and Kerr along with Trevor Bayne will stop in at Fremont Speedway to make several laps behind the wheel of an 1,100 pound, 850 horsepower sprint car at the one-third mile clay oval.

"One of our local drivers was at Indy visiting with Frank when NASCAR was there and gave Marcos a sprint car t-shirt and jokingly told him that's what a real race car looks like,” ," said Fremont Speedway Promoter Rich Farmer. “Marcos said he always wanted to drive a sprint car and one thing led to another and with Frank's connections to Fremont, they decided to come out and have some fun on the dirt.”

Kerr moved to Fremont, Ohio when he earned four All Star Circuit of Champion sprint car titles in the 1990s. In fact, Kerr's last All Star feature victory came at Fremont Speedway during an Ohio Speedweek event. After which, Kerr retired from driving and later became a valuable crew chief in the NASCAR ranks. Live coverage of the Carfax 400 on Sunday, August 16th starts at 1 p.m. Eastern on ESPN. MRN and Sirius XM Satellite Radio will also carry the event.

David Reutimann - Carfax 400 Preview


Impact of a second straight Monday race because of a rain-delay:
"It just sets everyone back - whether it's scheduling for that week or teams getting prepared for next weekend’s race. For most, it's just a headache and we all prefer to get it in on Sunday if possible. But we understand that a rain-out could happen any given weekend."

Deciding on a racing groove as the team moves from a track with limited passing opportunities to a wide-open track at Michigan:

"I think every driver has a groove that they prefer to race but it's really dictated by the way our Toyota Camry is handling. For example, if the Aaron's Dream Machine is tight down low and is pushing up on the bottom then maybe running the high line will help that."

Lessons from the earlier trip to Michigan:

"I'm pretty familiar with how to drive at Michigan but every race helps you learn, especially with the communication between Rodney and myself. For the most part, it helps the team work on the car and make it handle better. That's how you win races - with the handling of the Aaron's Dream Machine. So each race track that Rodney and I come back to our communication should grow stronger."

Goals for this weekend at Michigan:

"We're on the bubble, so a top-ten finish or better in the Aaron's Dream Machine is essential to stay alive for the Chase."

2009 NSCS Points Standings: David Reutimann is currently in 16th, 155 points behind 12th place.

Chassis Information: The No. 00 Aaron’s Dream Machine for Michigan is chassis No. 641, a brand new Aaron's Dream Machine.

Race Information: Watch the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in action at Michigan International Speedway on Sunday, August 16. Race coverage for the CARFAX 400 begins at 1 p.m. ET on ESPN.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Michael Waltrip - Carfax 400 Preview


NAPA RACING PRESS BOX FEATURING MICHAEL WALTRIP & CREW CHIEF BOOTIE BARKER:

MICHAEL WALTRIP:
You have said in the past that Michigan is one of your top five favorite tracks. Why?
“It is definitely on my list. MIS is one of those tracks that a lot of drivers consider one of their favorites. It’s simple why they feel that way. Just watch the action on Sunday. There will be guys running up high, down low, all over the place. It also allows drivers to run wide open, side by side. I just love that and I think most race car drivers want to have the opportunity to go down into the corner and pick a line where somebody is not running and try to make your car go faster. I pulled off a top-10 finish not too long ago because I was able to run right up against the fence. Some guys didn’t go that high. It worked for me. It’s a track where you can run any line and have success.”

Can you draft at Michigan?
“Drafting does come into play. Any time you have two cars beside each other, the guy in the back can get a tremendous run. I think it is more exaggerated with the new car. They really draft well. NASCAR also implemented a gear rule a couple of years ago. By doing that, they have taken away a whole lot of the pain that the engines were going through. The gear rule has made more cars finish the races and it has made the competition more even because you can only operate in such a small box.”

BOOTIE BARKER:
What does it take to run well at Michigan?
“Qualifying is pretty important because track position is very critical there as far as aerodynamics. The further up you are to the front the more clean air you are in. The more clean air, the faster you will run. You also have to keep that good track position throughout the race. Then near the end of the race, you must have an efficient engine. Good fuel mileage is critical because this race normally comes down to fuel mileage more times than not.”

Will you consider a two-tire stop to help pick up track position?
“It will more than likely be four tires during each stop. That’s because the track has aged. You need as much grip as possible so four tires will probably be the way to go for us.”

Michael Waltrip Fast Facts

  • NAPA AUTO PARTS driver Michael Waltrip will be competing in his 746th NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race when the 23rd event of the 2009 Sprint Cup season, the CARFAX 400, gets underway at Michigan International Speedway (MIS) in Brooklyn, Michigan on Sunday.

  • Waltrip has competed in 48 events at MIS. His best start is first (June 23, 1991) and best finish is fourth (June 16, 2002) in the NAPA machine. In total, he has two top-five and nine top-10 finishes at Michigan.

  • Waltrip has completed 8,953 of 9,491 laps (94.3%) at the track and has led a total of 16 laps in competition. His average start is 23rd and average finish is 21st.

  • Waltrip has raced in 11 Nationwide Series events at MIS. He has collected one win, two top-five and six top-10 finishes. He has led 68 laps in Nationwide Series competition at the track.

  • Entering this week’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event, Waltrip is 31st in the owner standings. The NAPA team is 202 points out of the top-25 in the championship standings. Waltrip is guaranteed a starting spot in Sunday’s race.