Thursday, October 23, 2014

Nationwide Series News

Captain Has Set Sail: Penske’s Tight Ship Is Title Bound                
Four of the last six NASCAR Nationwide Series owner titles have been won by the Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) organization. From 2008-12, in the NASCAR Nationwide Series, week-in and week-out the JGR teams have been the ones to beat. But last season all that changed. 
In 2012, Roger Penske, the owner of Team Penske, famously known as ‘The Captain,’ decided to create what he calls, ‘a farm team’ in the NASCAR Nationwide Series to groom young talent and further progress his whole organization’s NASCAR program. With the addition of young talented superstars like Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano and Ryan Blaney his vision has become reality. Penske won the NASCAR Nationwide Series owner title in 2013 and is on pace to go back-to-back, effectively dethroning Gibbs from his owner title dominance.
Penske’s No. 22 Ford Mustang team guided by the tutelage of crew chief Jeremy Bullins has a 31 point lead over Gibb’s No. 54 Toyota Camry team.  Penske’s No. 22 Ford team can clinch the series owner title by finishing in the next three races: sixth or better without leading any laps, seventh or better leading one lap or eighth or better having led the most laps in each event.
Penske sums it up best about their recent success.
“It's the human capital,” said Roger Penske.  “It's the people that we've been able to attract as we got some speed and we got some success.  We're able to bring people in, the key people on the team are folks who have come up through the organization, and I think that's been key.”

Dillon, Buescher Are Sunoco Rookies With Big Potential
Three Sunoco Rookie of the Year candidates have won this season – Chase Elliott (Darlington, Texas, Chicago), Ty Dillon (Indianapolis) and Chris Buescher (Mid-Ohio). While the spotlight has mostly rested on Chase Elliott and his successes, below is a look at the other two rookies this season that have visited Victory Lane.  
Ty Dillon – Is currently sixth in the series driver standings, and second in the Sunoco ROY standings. Dillon has had an outstanding season posting one win (Indianapolis), six top fives, 22 top 10s and three poles. His average finish this season in 30 starts is 9.6. Dillon’s season-to-date Loop Data stats also speak to his successful season. He ranks fifth in the series in Driver Rating (98.7), seventh in Average Running Position (9.580), and fifth in Laps in the Top 15 (4,898 laps; 89.9%). Dillon’s series career-best finishes at the three remaining tracks: Texas (ninth); Phoenix (10th) and Homestead-Miami (14th).
Chris Buescher – Is currently seventh in the series driver standings, and third in the Sunoco ROY standings. In Buescher’s 29 starts (missed Daytona in Feb.) he posted one win (Mid-Ohio), four top fives and 13 top 10s. His average finish this season in 29 starts is 12.9. Buescher’s season-to-date Loop Data stats have him ranked ninth in all three Loop categories: Driver Rating (88.4), Average Running Position (9.580), and Laps in the Top 15 (4,090 laps; 76.7%). Buescher’s series career-best finishes at the three remaining tracks: Texas (17th); Phoenix (15th) and he will make his series track debut at Homestead-Miami.

Battle For 10th: Former Truck Champ Buescher Tries To Hold Off Rookie Kwasneiwski
There are three races left for 2012 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion James Buescher and NASCAR K&N Pro Series East (2013) and West (2012) Series champion Dylan Kwasniewski to battle it out for the final top 10 spot in the NASCAR Nationwide Series driver standings. Buescher, in 10th, holds a nine point lead on 11th-place Sunoco Rookie of the Year candidate Kwasniewski.  
James Buescher, a NASCAR national series champion and former winner in the NASCAR Nationwide Series (Daytona-1; 2012), joined car owner Robby Benton and RAB Racing’s No. 99 Toyota team in 2014 with the opportunity to run a full schedule and compete for a championship. In 30 starts this season he has posted two top 10s and an average finish of 17.7.  If Buescher can hold on to his 10th-place standings position this season, it will be RAB Racing’s second-best finish in the series standings in the organization’s history; behind Kenny Wallace’s seventh in 2011.
But Buescher will have his work cut out for him; Kwasniewski’s rookie season has produced three top 10s and an average finish of 17.9.
The drivers have produced similar performances this season, but the NASCAR season-to-date Loop Data points to Kwasniewski over Buescher in a few categories. For instance, Kwasniewski (79.3) ranks higher than Buescher (75.9) in driver rating. In average running position, the splits favor Kwasniewski (15.340) over Buescher (16.370).
These final three tracks will decide who grabs 10th in the standings this season. Buescher has made five starts at Texas posting a pole and an avg. finish of 19.0. He also has made seven series starts at Phoenix posting an average finish of 19.3 and he has just one start at Homestead where he finished 14th. Kwasniewski will be making his series debut at Homestead in the final race of the season and will be returning for just his second start at Texas and Phoenix where he finished 14th and 13th, respectively.

NASCAR Nationwide Series Etc.
Blake Koch will pilot the No. 44 Celsius Flo Fusion Camry at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Koch is teaming up with Grammy nominated and multi-award winning hip-hop artist, Flo Rida to promote Flo Rida's new workout powder, Celsius Flo Fusion. Flo Rida will serve as the Honorary Starter for the Ford EcoBoost 300. … Voting for the 2014 NASCAR Nationwide Series Most Popular Driver Awards kicked off Thursday, Oct. 9. This season, fans not only can vote for their favorite driver ( ), but also their favorite moment at until Ford Championship weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Title Race Tightens With Four To Go

Title Race Tightens With Four To Go
Nineteen points separated defending champion Matt Crafton from ThorSport teammate Johnny Sauter heading into Talladega Speedway. Now that margin has tightened, but with new faces in the hunt. Former NASCAR Next drivers Ryan Blaney (-16 points) and Darrell Wallace Jr. (-28) loom close behind Crafton, overtaking the second and third spots respectively, following top-10 finishes at the Alabama track.
Blaney, who led the standings from the end of the Eldora race until his 21st-place showing at Michigan, heads to the Kroger 200 (1:30 p.m. on FOX Sports 1) riding a streak of three top-10 performances. He finished third at Talladega to gain 11 points on Crafton, who took 14th. 
“This is a long (four)-race stretch to Homestead here, and I told our guys, ‘If we have weeks like this, we’re gonna be right there at Homestead,’” Blaney said.
Wallace has been one of the hottest drivers in the series after starting the season off slowly. Since the fifth race at Dover, he has climbed from 11th to third in the standings behind the strength of two wins and four runner-up finishes. His 107.4 driver rating is the highest among NCWTS regulars.  

Darrell Wallace Jr. Keeps Championship Hopes Alive
With four races left in the 2014 season, Darrell Wallace Jr. may be peaking at the right time. In the last four races, Wallace has earned four consecutive top-10 finishes, vaulting from fifth to third in the standings – 28 points behind NASCAR Camping World Truck Series leader Matt Crafton.
The NASCAR Next and Drive for Diversity alum will try to further cut into Crafton’s lead in this Saturday’s Kroger 200 at Martinsville Speedway (1:30 p.m. ET on FOX Sports 1). Wallace captured his first career checkered flag last year at Martinsville where he became the first African-American driver since NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee Wendell Scott to win a NASCAR national series race (12/01/63 at Jacksonville).
Wallace will pay tribute to Scott by driving the No. 34 Toyota Tundra in honor of him. The 20-year-old normally drives the No. 54 truck for Kyle Busch Motorsports.
"It's an honor to run the No. 34 Toyota Tundra at Martinsville," Wallace said. "I got my first win at Martinsville and the historical significance of that win and to be so close to Wendell Scott's hometown was a really cool bonus to getting my first win. The Scott family has followed my career since I ran the NASCAR Drive for Diversity program for Rev Racing, and I've kept a relationship with the family over the years.”

Homecoming For Burton And Peters
Virginia natives Timothy Peters and Jeb Burton return home to the Old Dominion State and the track at which it all started for Saturday’s Kroger 200 at Martinsville Speedway (1:30 p.m. ET on FOX Sports 1).
Both drivers launched their NASCAR Camping World Truck Series careers at the .526-mile oval, Burton making his first ever start in 2012 and Peters in 2005.
Burton has since earned one win and seven pole awards, including his first pole, at Martinsville in 2013. Meanwhile, Peters, who earned his first victory at Martinsville in 2009, has tallied an additional seven wins and five top-10 finishes in the NCWTS final standings.
Fresh off a visit to Victory Lane at Talladega, Peters will go for his third straight top-five finish on Saturday. In 17 Martinsville starts, Peters claims five top-five and 11 top-10 finishes. He currently ranks fifth in the series standings.
ThorSport driver Burton has picked up some momentum lately with two top-10 finishes in his last four starts. He boasts two top-five results in four starts at Martinsville. At the moment, Burton occupies the ninth spot in the NCWTS standings.
The last Virginia native to win a NCWTS race at Martinsville was Denny Hamlin on Oct. 27, 2012.

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Etc.
Sunoco Rookie of the Year contender Ben Kennedy returns to his best track on the circuit, owning an average finish of 3.5 following third and fourth place finishes in two career starts at Martinsville … Cole Custer, the youngest race winner in NASCAR national series history, is back in action this weekend and will run a special Breast Cancer Awareness paint scheme in support of the annual Ken Schrader Racing PINK Campaign.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014


Three Races Remain, Three Points Separate Three Drivers Battling For Third            
While Chase Elliott’s lead in the NASCAR Nationwide Series driver standings has grown to a hefty 42 points over second-place Regan Smith, the battle between third, fourth and fifth is separated by a mere three points with three races remaining.
Richard Childress Racing’s Brian Scott, currently third in the standings, is just two points ahead of Joe Gibbs Racing’s Elliott Sadler in fourth. Scott’s RCR teammate, Ty Dillon, resides in fifth just one point back from Sadler as the season nears its end.
The series is coming off a 19 consecutive race stretch in the schedule. During that span Brian Scott had the second-best average finish (8.6) behind points leader Chase Elliott (7.0). Scott has posted six top fives and 20 top 10s this season – a NNS career high. His season-to-date Driver Rating of 101.4 and Average Running Position of 7.4 both rank second among series championship contenders.
Just outside of third-place Brian Scott’s quarter panel, sits Elliott Sadler two points back in fourth. Sadler has posted one win (Talladega), six top fives, 22 top 10s and an average finish of 9.7 this season. Sadler moved to fourth in the standings following his ninth-place finish at Charlotte last weekend.
Ty Dillon’s streak of seven consecutive top-10 finishes ended this past weekend at Charlotte when he was caught in a multi-car accident relegating him to a 30th-place finish and his first DNF of the season. The uncharacteristic result dropped Dillon from third to fifth in the standings, ultimately extinguishing his championship hopes. Despite the recent misfortune, Dillon’s rookie season has been quite impressive. In 30 starts, he has posted one win (Indianapolis), six top fives, 22 top 10s and an average finish of 9.6.
With so few points separating the three drivers, their performances at the final three races will be pivotal to their success. Dillon (11.5) has the best combined average finish at Texas, Phoenix and Homestead; followed by Sadler (14.7) and then Scott (16.3).
The NASCAR Nationwide Series action returns at Texas Motor Speedway on Nov. 1 with the coverage beginning at 3:30 p.m. (ET) on ESPN2.
NASCAR Nationwide Series Most Popular Driver/Moment Vote Is Underway
Voting for the 2014 NASCAR Nationwide Series Most Popular Driver Awards kicked off Thursday, Oct. 9. This season, fans not only can vote for their favorite driver ( ), but also their favorite moment.
Selected by a panel of NASCAR industry representatives, here are the top NASCAR Nationwide Series moments from the past seven seasons that fans can vote on now at until Ford Championship weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway:
Aug. 1, 2009 – Brad Keselowski wins the inaugural NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Iowa Speedway, taking home the Dash 4 Cash bonus in front of 60,000 fans. 
July 3, 2010 - The new NASCAR Nationwide car makes its race debut at Daytona. Driving a blue-and-yellow No. 3 Wrangler Chevrolet reminiscent of his father’s car, Dale Earnhardt Jr. wins the Subway Jalapeno 250 Powered by Coca-Cola.
March 5, 2011 - Danica Patrick finishes fourth at Las Vegas, marking the best finish by a female driver in NASCAR national series history.
Aug. 6, 2011 - Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Carl Edwards wreck coming across the finish line at Iowa Speedway battling for the win. Stenhouse would emerge as the winner, earning his first victory of the season.
Aug. 26, 2011 – Kyle Busch’s victory at Bristol Motor Speedway moves him past Mark Martin as the series’ all-time wins leader (50). Busch has since upped his win total to 69.
Nov. 5, 2011 – At Texas Motor Speedway, Kenny Wallace supplants Jason Keller as the series’ all-time starts leader (520).
Nov. 16, 2013 – Austin Dillon wins the series championship by a scant three points over Sam Hornish Jr. It was Dillon’s second national series championship in three years.
April, 2014 – Sunoco Rookie of the Year contender Chase Elliott wins consecutive races at Texas Motor Speedway and Darlington Raceway, becoming the youngest driver to win back-to-back races in series history.
Aug. 16, 2014 – Chris Buescher claims his first career win in the Nationwide Children’s Hospital 200 at Mid-Ohio, while honoring 6-year-old patient champion Luke Benner.
Fans can vote once per day online for the Most Popular Driver Award at, and for the NASCAR Nationwide Series top moment at Voting is open and runs through Saturday, Nov. 15 for the NASCAR Nationwide Series.
NASCAR Nationwide Series Etc.
Milestone Conqueror: Kyle Busch’s runner-up finish this past weekend at Charlotte broke the NASCAR Nationwide Series record-tie between Kevin Harvick (171) and Busch for the most NNS top-five finishes all-time (172). Busch now holds the series records for the most wins all-time (69), most poles (42),  most wins in a single season (13; 2010), most second-place finishes all-time (44), most second-place finishes in a single season (11; 2009), and most top fives all-time (172). … No Weekends Off: NNS championship contender Trevor Bayne will attempt to race in this weekend’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Talladega Superspeedway in the No. 21 Ford for NASCAR Hall of Famers the Wood Brothers. Bayne won the Daytona 500 in the Wood Brother’s No. 21 Ford in 2011.
’Dega Double Duty For Ryan Blaney
Ryan Blaney will log enough mileage this weekend to drive from Charlotte to Miami. He’s not going on vacation though.
The 20-year-old is running double-duty duty at Talladega Superspeedway, NASCAR’s largest track, racing 282 laps and 750 miles as he attempts to make a last-ditch effort for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series championship and play spoiler in his second-career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series start.
For his first task of the weekend, Blaney will pilot his No. 29 Brad Keselowski Racing Ford F-150 in the Fred’s 250 Powered by Coca-Cola on Saturday (1 p.m. on FOX). Currently third in the NCWTS standings, Blaney will try to close the 27-point deficit separating him from leader Matt Crafton. He claims finishes of sixth and 21st in his two-career starts at Talladega.
Blaney will get one night of rest before he hits the pavement at Talladega again in the NSCS GEICO 500 on Sunday (2 p.m. on ESPN). He will look to improve on his 27th-place effort in his first-ever NSCS start at Kansas in May and potentially steal the win from some Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup hopefuls.
The 2012 NASCAR Next alum better get used to having so much seat time. Talladega is the first of three double-duty weekends at the final five race venues of the season for Blaney, who will compete in both the NCWTS and NASCAR Nationwide Series events at Texas and Phoenix.
Darrell Wallace Jr. Returns To Sweet Home Alabama
Darrell Wallace Jr. hopes the “skies are so blue” this weekend as the Alabama native returns to his home track of Talladega Superspeedway for the Fred’s 250 Powered by Coca-Cola.
Fourth in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series standings, the 20-year-old currently rides a streak of consecutive runner-up finishes in his last two starts at Las Vegas and New Hampshire. Even with those results, Wallace has barely been able to gain ground on standings leader Matt Crafton, who finished third behind him in both races.
Wallace trails Crafton by 33 points in the standings and expressed his frustration with catching him in the Las Vegas post-race press conference when Crafton was asked about his outlook for Talladega.
“Don’t worry. (Crafton will) finish right behind the guy who’s trying to beat him in points,” Wallace jokingly interjected.
The No. 54 Kyle Busch Motorsports driver will make his second-career NASCAR Camping World Truck Series start at Talladega after finishing 17th in his first appearance there last year.
On the season, Wallace owns two wins, seven top fives and 10 top 10s in 17 starts. He boasts a season-to-date 106.8 Driver Rating – the highest in the NCWTS. 
Fun fact: Despite hailing from Mobile, Alabama, Wallace does not support the Alabama or Auburn football teams. Instead he is a huge fan of the University of Tennessee, where his mother, Desiree (Gillispie) Wallace ran track from 1983-84. 

Mexico well-represented at Talladega; Suarez to debut
Two veterans of the NASCAR Mexico Toyota Series - the No. 1 form of motorsports in Mexico - will take their talents to Talladega Saturday where they will try to tame the tumultuous 2.66-mile track in the Fred’s 250 Powered by Coca-Cola. 
Series regular German Quiroga will attempt to capture his first-career victory on the circuit, while NASCAR Next and Drive for Diversity alumnus Daniel Suarez will aim to turn some heads in his trucks debut.
Quiroga, a Mexico City native, has enjoyed a breakout season in his second full-time NCWTS campaign. The 34-year-old ranks sixth in the series standings and claims three top-five and nine top-10 finishes – both higher than his totals from last year. Despite his success, Quiroga is still hunting for his elusive first checkered flag. He nearly got a taste of Victory Lane in August at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park where Ryan Blaney edged him out for the win by a mere 0.049 seconds – the second-closest finish at a road course in NASCAR national series history. Prior to running a full-time NCWTS schedule, Quiroga made his name in the NMTS where he ranks as the only three-time champion (2009-11).
Suarez, from Monterrey, Mexico, will pilot the No. 35 Win-Tron Racing Toyota in his third NASCAR national series start. He has competed in two NASCAR Nationwide Series races this season, finishing 19th at Richmond in April and 15th at Chicagoland in September. The 22-year-old boasts five wins in the NMTS this season and trails Abraham Calderon by five points for the standings lead with two races remaining. Next year, he will race full-time for Joe Gibbs Racing in the NASCAR Nationwide Series and run part-time for Kyle Busch Motorsports in the NCWTS.
Two More Titles Decided, Mods Up Next
A pair of first-time champions were crowned last week as Anthony Kumpen took home the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series title and Andy Seuss reigned victorious in the NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour. Kumpen edged two-time defending titlist Ander Vilarino by a single tally for the Elite 1 Division trophy in the final weekend at Circuit Le Mans Bugatti in France while Seuss dethroned three-time defending champ George Brunnhoelzl III by a final margin of 14 points on the quarter-mile at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour will determine its 2014 champion Sunday in the season finale Sunoco World Series 150 presented by Xtra Mart at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park. Once the green flag drops, Ted Christopher will be the only driver left with a mathematical shot to derail Doug Coby’s bid for a second title as he enters the event with a 28-point cushion and needs only to finish 24th on Sunday to wrap it up. A winner in the first two events at the .625-mile oval this year, Justin Bonsignore will look to become the first driver to record a Thompson sweep since Mike Stefanik in 1998.
The city of Tuxtla Gutiérrez in Chiapas, Mexico, will host the penultimate race of the 2014 NASCAR Mexico Toyota Series season. Abraham Calderón heads to the Súper Óvalo Chiapas with a five-point lead over Daniel Suárez and a 10-point advantage over NASCAR Next driver Rubén Garcia Jr. Suárez is scheduled for double duty this weekend, as he will attempt to make his NASCAR Camping World Truck Series debut at Talladega Super Speedway on Saturday before flying down to Tuxtla for the Tuxtla 240 on Sunday. Suárez won the spring race at Chiapas.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Bishop-France Award To Honor Champions, Celebrate Proud Past

Bishop-France Award To Honor Champions, Celebrate Proud Past
Driver, Team, Manufacturer Champions In Four TUDOR Championship Classes To Receive Awards
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Oct. 13, 2014) – The International Motor Sports Association (IMSA) today announced the creation of the Bishop-France Award to honor the class champions in its TUDOR United SportsCar Championship – and the legacy of IMSA founders John Bishop and Bill France Sr.
The inaugural Bishop-France Awards will be presented this evening during the TUDOR Night of Champions postseason celebration at Cipriani 42nd Street in New York City. Driver, team and manufacturer champions in the four TUDOR Championship classes – Prototype, Prototype Challenge, GT Le Mans and GT Daytona – will receive replicas of a perpetual trophy that will be on display permanently at IMSA headquarters in Daytona Beach. The perpetual trophy, made of sterling silver, is inscribed with the names of all 288 IMSA class champions dating back to IMSA’s 1969 founding.
Bishop, his wife Peggy and France founded IMSA in an attempt to bring big-league organization to sports car racing in North America – a catalyst reminiscent of what motivated France to create NASCAR in 1947. France had the vision, but needed a partner to complete the concept. He tabbed Bishop, a former longtime Sports Car Club of America official.
Bishop, who died on June 6 at the age of 87, loved to tell the story of receiving a surprise telephone call from France one evening, in 1969.
“Bill wanted me to come to Daytona Beach for a meeting,” Bishop said. “Well, I went down there to talk. We had a lot of scotch and a nice chat. Bill said that with so many race tracks being built, he didn’t think the sports car sanctioning bodies that were out there could handle it. He said, ‘You ought to think about setting up a new organization, and if you do decide to do that, let me know and I’ll help you if I can.’
“When I got home, I talked to Peggy. We had no idea how much work it was to set up a new organization. But we did it.”
Bishop sold IMSA in the 1980s but by then his legacy was secure. With the help of his wife Peggy, Bishop had made France’s vision a reality. As the 2014 season ushered in a new, rejuvenated IMSA headlined by the TUDOR Championship, with the sanctioning body’s headquarters back in the city where it all began, the idea of the Bishop-France Award quickly gained momentum.
“We wanted to establish a perpetual trophy that captured the history of IMSA, going back to when my Dad and John Bishop started the whole thing,” said IMSA Chairman Jim France.
“John and Peggy Bishop, with the help of my Dad and others, really grabbed IMSA up by the bootstraps and got it going all those years ago. They created the high-water mark and now, we’re working to get IMSA back to those glory days … and beyond.”