(photo by Victor Vizu via wikipedia commons)
NASCAR Fuel for Business Council Celebrates 10th Anniversary
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (March 7, 2014) — For the past 60 years The Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company has been a fixture at the track each race weekend, developing and supplying tires for the most demanding drivers in the world to face the grueling conditions of NASCAR. Goodyear’s success in the sport has not been limited to its efforts on the track.
Today, in a ceremony hosted at the NASCAR Fuel for Business (NFFB) meeting in Las Vegas, NASCAR Chief Operating Officer Brent Dewar officially presented Goodyear with the “Driving Business Award.” The annual award is bestowed to the Official NASCAR Partner that demonstrates extraordinary leadership and results through its participation in the NFFB Council.
Celebrating its 10th anniversary, the NFFB Council is a business-to-business platform that brings together an exclusive group of more than 50 Official NASCAR Partners to buy and sell products and services. Since its inception in 2004, the quarterly meetings have facilitated more than 1,000 “speed meeting” sessions where Official NASCAR Partners meet and do business with one another.
The NFFB Council offers the unique opportunity for many Fortune 500 companies to bypass the time and layers of corporate coordination that may exist and construct customized deals to help address specific business needs. The council helps save millions of dollars for its participating members on an annual basis.
“We proudly join Goodyear in celebrating six decades of success with NASCAR,” said Dewar. “The company’s longevity in our sport is emblematic of its commitment to excellence – both on and off the track. The NASCAR Fuel for Business Council brings together partners from a wide spectrum of industries for the sole purpose of doing business with one another. What sets it apart from anything else in sports is the resolve partners like Goodyear demonstrate, as members of the Council, to drive business-to-business value.”
Goodyear has been a proud member of the NFFB Council since 2008, and currently conducts business with nearly half of the companies in the council. As a result, Goodyear has formed a number of key marketing and promotional relationships with Official NASCAR Partners that help drive retail traffic and sales. The Goodyear Gives Back charitable program has been heavily supported by a number of NASCAR Official Partners, including Chevrolet, DRIVE4COPD, Ford, Freightliner, MARS, MillerCoors, Sprint and Toyota.
“Goodyear’s longstanding involvement in NASCAR has driven our performance both on and off the track,” said Gary Melliere, Goodyear’s general manager of sponsorships. “It not only fuels the development of better consumer tires, it also serves as a platform for engaging NASCAR’s large and loyal fan base. The Fuel for Business Council has helped us build stronger B2B relationships and collaborate with Council members to amplify each others’ marketing programs. We’re honored to be recognized for our efforts through the Driving Business Award and look forward to even more collaboration in the future.”
The National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing, Inc. (NASCAR) is the sanctioning body for the No. 1 form of motorsports in the United States. NASCAR consists of three national series (the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, NASCAR Nationwide Series, and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series), four regional series, one local grassroots series and three international series. The International Motor Sports Association (IMSA) governs the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship, the premier U.S. sports car series. Based in Daytona Beach, Fla., with offices in eight cities across North America, NASCAR sanctions more than 1,200 races in more than 30 U.S. states, Canada, Mexico and Europe. For more information visit www.NASCAR.com and follow NASCAR at www.Facebook.com/NASCAR and Twitter: @NASCAR.
About The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company
Goodyear is one of the world’s largest tire companies. It employs approximately 69,000 people and manufactures its products in 52 facilities in 22 countries around the world. Its two Innovation Centers in Akron, Ohio and Colmar-Berg, Luxembourg strive to develop state-of-the-art products and services that set the technology and performance standard for the industry. For more information about Goodyear or its products, go to www.goodyear.com.
PRESS RELEASE WRITTEN BY Chris Tropeano, COURTESY NASCAR COMMUNICATIONS
@RAZORBACKMBB (21-9, 10-7) at Alabama (12-18, 6-11)
Date: Saturday, March 8, 2014
Time: 3:00 P.M.
City: Tuscaloosa, Ala.
Site: Coleman Coliseum (15,383)
Online Video: ESPN3 & WatchESPN
Talent: Dave Weekley (P-B-P) & John Shulman (Analyst)
Audio: Razorback/IMG Sports Network
Talent: Chuck Barrett (P-B-P) & Rick Schaeffer (Analyst)
Satellite Radio: Sirius 137, XM 201
Live Stats: www.ArkansasRazorbacks.com
Twitter: @RazorbackMBB | #Fastest40 | #WeHOGS
Last 5 Games: 5-0 | Streak: W6
Last 10 Games: 8-2
Road Record: 3-5 | Streak: W2
Vs. Alabama: 29-27 | Streak: W1
At Coleman Coliseum: 5-18 | Streak: L6
Last Meeting: Arkansas, 65-58 • Feb. 5, 2014
At A Glance
Coming off a record-setting 110-80 win over Ole Miss, Arkansas will look to close the regular season with its seventh straight win on Saturday when it visits Alabama. The Tide have taken six straight in the series in Tuscaloosa, while the Razorbacks will be aiming for their first three-game SEC road win streak since 1998. Winners of eight of its last night, Arkansas can be as high as the No. 3 seed in next week’s SEC Tournament or as low as the No. 7 seed. Making a push for its first NCAA Tournament bid since 2008, Arkansas is averaging 98.5 points in March.
@RazorbackMBB FAST BREAK FACTS
· Averaging 98.5 points over two games in March.
· First 2-0 start to the month of March since 2007.
· Six-game win streak is currently the fifth-longest by a BCS team.
· Tied with Tennessee for second place in the SEC standings.
· Won eight of last nine and riding first six-game SEC win streak since 1998.
· Has trailed by more than three points for a total of 2:07 during current six-game win streak (245 minutes).
· First 20-win season since 2007-08 and 29th in program history.
· First back-to-back winning seasons in the SEC play since 1997-98 and 1998-99.
· Eight of its 17 SEC games have been decided by five points or less, including four games decided by two points or less, the most since the 2004-05 season.
· Five of seven SEC losses have come by a combined 19 points.
· One of three Division I programs and the only BCS team to rank in the top 25 nationally in scoring (81.4/16th), assists (15.7/T-22nd), steals (8.8/7th) and blocks (5.6/T-23rd).
· Appeared on the #SCtop10 nine times, including seven via dunks from sophomore Michael Qualls.
· Finished the month of February with a 6-2 record, good for the program’s most wins in February since 2001.
· Lead the SEC and rank 16th in the nation in scoring (81.4) with no players in the top 25 in the SEC in scoring.
· The 81.4 points per game is the most since 1997-98.
· Four 100-point games is the same total produced by the rest of the SEC and the same total produced over the program’s previous nine years combined.
· Set a program SEC home record with 110 points against Ole Miss, good for its fourth-best offensive performance in SEC action.
· Equaled a program SEC record with 17 three-pointers against Ole Miss, tying the record set twice vs. Auburn in 1995 & 1998.
· 10 different players have reached double figures while six players have led the team in scoring.
· Six different players have scored 20 points in a game.
· The Arkansas bench is averaging 33.4 points, has supplied a double figure scorer in 24 games and has out-scored the opposition 25 times resulting in a +14.6 per game margin.
· Hit a three-pointer in 834 consecutive games, good for the sixth-longest streak in the nation.
· Averaged 86.4 points at Bud Walton Arena, scoring 80+ points in 12 of 18 games.
· Come away with 64 steals during six game win streak which has resulted in 126 points.
· Also lead the SEC in steals (8.8), assists (15.7), assist/turnover ratio (1.3) and turnover margin (+5.8), a figure it has led the league in both years under coach Anderson.
· Turnover margin of +5.8 ranks sixth in the nation.
· 629 points off turnovers, good for 26 percent of its scoring.
· Won the turnover battle by double-digits six times and have scored 20+ points off turnovers in 16 games.
· Finished with a positive assist/turnover ratio in 25 games, while opponents have accomplished the feat four times, including just two in SEC action.
· Won the turnover battle in 32 of last 34 games dating back to last year and 81 of 94 games under coach Anderson.
· Own a 6-0 record when passing out 20+ assists while coach Anderson is 81-1 all-time when his teams accomplish the feat.
· Forced opponents into 20 turnovers 20 times (19-1), including six times (6-0) this season, under Anderson, while coming away with 10+ steals in 33 contests (26-8).
Arkansas’ recent run to March has it in the thick of the NCAA Tournament discussion. Take a look at the #RazorResume heading into the final week of SEC action.
· No. 33 in the ESPN BPI
· 3-1 vs. the BPI Top 30
· 6 wins vs. the BPI Top 60 (6-5)
· 10 wins vs. the BPI Top 90 (10-7)
· Swept season series from No. 10 (BPI) Kentucky
· Won six in a row, the fifth-longest current win streak by a BCS program.
· Won three of the last four road games
· Won eight of the last nine games
HEAD COACHING MATCHUP
Head Coach: Mike Anderson (Tulsa ‘82)
Record at Arkansas: 58-36 (3rd Season)
Overall Record: 258-134 (12th Season)
Vs. Alabama: 1-3
Head Coach: Anthony Grant (Dayton ‘87)
Record at Alabama: 98-70 (5th Season)
Overall Record: 174-95 (8th Season)
Vs. Arkansas: 5-3
STARTING 5 QUICK 5 HITS
#00 Rashad Madden (G)
· Team-best 14.2 points in league play to rank 16th in the SEC.
· Reached double figures 21 times vs. 12 total in first two years.
· Scored 20+ points in four SEC contests.
· Has led the team in scoring eight SEC games.
· Team-high 43 threes after 24 combined his first two years.
#12 Fred Gulley III (G)
· Has just 12 turnovers in his last 519 minutes played.
· No turnovers in 12 of the last 16 games, including four straight.
· Has a positive or equal assist/turnover ratio in all but two games.
· Committed no turnovers in 19 games.
· Led the team in assists six times.
#24 Michael Qualls (G)
· Reached double figures in the last four road games.
· Second on the team with three 20-point outings.
· Hit 21 of last 44 attempts from three-point land.
· Landed on SportsCenter’s Top 10 plays seven times this season.
· Team leader with 22 double figure outings & 30 dunks.
#04 Coty Clarke (F)
· Named SEC Player of the Week on Monday.
· Since OT at Kentucky, he has 43 points in his last 51 minutes.
· Had a career-high 23 points vs. Georgia.
· Averaging 12.8 points, 7.0 rebounds & 3.3 assists last six games.
· Has team-bests for boards (14), assists (7) & steals (5) in a game.
#10 Bobby Portis (F)
· Scored an Arkansas freshman record 35 points vs. Alabama.
· Three-time SEC Freshman of the Week – Dec. 9, Jan. 6 & Feb. 10.
· Second on the team in scoring (12.3) and tops in rebounds (6.6).
· Vying to become first freshman to lead Arkansas in pts & reb.
· Only Razorback to start all 30 games.
with a win…
· Arkansas would have its first seven-game SEC win streak since 1994.
· The seven-game win streak would be the longest to end the regular season since 1995.
· Would be the program’s first three-game SEC road win streak since 1998.
· Four SEC road wins would be the most in a single-season since 1995 and would equal the total over the previous three years.
· Would equal the most regular season wins since 1997-98.
· Would give Arkansas 21 SEC wins the last two years, the best two-year total since 1994-95 & 1995-96 (21).
· The 11 SEC wins would be the most since 1997-98.
· Own a 12-4 record at home this season, including three straight wins against Ole Miss, Missouri and Auburn.
· Alabama is 8-3 when score 70+ points, doing so twice during three-game home win streak.
· Limited its last two opponents to an average of 56 points, while holding 13 opponents to 65 points or less,
· SEC Player of the Year candidate Trevor Releford will play his final home game and enters fifth in the SEC in scoring (18.6).
· Releford has reached double figures in 31 straight games, leading the Tide in scoring 18 of 30 contest this season with 11 20-point outings.
· Junior Levi Randolph is averaging 19.5 points over the last four games, highlighted by a 33-point outing at home against Missouri.
· Forward Shannon Hale is the reigning SEC Freshman of the Week, the first Alabama player to win the award since Releford did so in 2011.
Arkansas will visit Coleman Coliseum for the 23rd straight season on Saturday. The two teams have met twice in the regular season 22 times out of Arkansas’ 23 years in the SEC with the series tied at 23-23 since the Razorbacks joined the league. Out of the 56 meetings, 35 have been decided by 10 points or less, including the Feb. 5th showdown in Fayetteville.
GAME PREVIEW WRITTEN BY Patrick Pierson, COURTESY ARKANSAS MEDIA RELATIONS
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – NASCAR has reinstated Ryan Hess, a former crew member in the NASCAR Nationwide Series, and Curtis Martin Jr., a former crew member in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, upon their successful completion of NASCAR’s Substance Abuse Policy Road to Recovery Program.
On June 18, 2013, Hess was found to have violated Sections 12-1 (actions detrimental to stock car racing) and 19 (violation of the NASCAR substance abuse policy) of the NASCAR Rule Book.
On Nov. 19, 2013, Martin also was found to have violated Sections 12-1 and 19.
PRESS RELEASE WRITTEN BY Kerry Tharp, COURTESY NASCAR COMMUNICATIONS
ALLIANCE, Ohio—The Otterbein University men’s and women’s track and field teams won four events and churned out 21 all-conference performances at the Ohio Athletic Conference (OAC) Indoor Track and Field Championships held Friday and Saturday at the University of Mount Union.
The women’s team, led by junior Abbey Gray, who earned All-OAC honors in two events and scored in two more, tallied 118 points to finish second in the 10-team field. The men’s squad, paced by senior Andrew Mantell, who was named the men’s “most outstanding distance runner” of the meet, scored 83 points to place fourth. Host Mount Union won both team titles.
The Cardinals won the women’s pole vault, men’s distance medley relay, men’s one-mile run, and men’s 800-meter run.
Mantell, who ran the anchor leg of the OAC championship distance medley relay team (10:24.44), won both the mile run (4:23.16) and 800-meter run (1:56.23). It was the second time the standout mid-distance runner led the Cardinals to the DMR title, having won it in 2013. Junior Joey Montoya, junior Seth Lloyd, and sophomore Richard Gopel made up the rest of the DMR team.
Gray, who scored 22 points for the Cardinals, earned all-conference honors in the long jump (17-5 1/2) and 60-meter hurdles (9.12 seconds), placing third in each event. The junior just missed All-OAC honors—the top three finishers in each event garner all-conference honors—in the 60-meter dash and 200-meter dash, placing fourth in both. She ran the 60 in 8.05 seconds, and 200, 26.80.
Freshman Jenna D’Errico won the women’s pole vault, clearing 11-8, which tied the Otterbein indoor record. Junior Taylor Lindsey placed third in the event with a height of 10-10 1/4.
Senior distance runner Kaila Cramer turned in two all-conference performances, placing second in the mile (5:11.60), and anchoring the distance medley relay team, which finished third in 12:25.52. The other members of the relay team, each earning All-OAC honors, included sophomore Victoria Konkle, junior Allison Thomas, and freshman Kierstin Lathrop.
Junior Brandon Bruner scored in three events, earning All-OAC honors in the long jump with a distance of 23-1 3/4. Bruner placed fourth in the 60-meter dash (7.00 seconds) and fifth in the 200-meter dash (22.45).
Freshman Julissa Poullet set a school indoor record in the 3,000-meter run, placing second in 10:26.9.
Other All-OAC performances were turned in by junior Matthew Quinn, second in the triple jump (43-11 1/4); sophomore Christopher Saylor, third in the pole vault (15-0 1/4); Gopel, third in the 1,000-meter run (2:34.79); and junior Kristen Norris, third in the triple jump (33-8 3/4).
Freshman distance runner Meredith Wesco turned in a pair of strong performances, placing fourth in the 5,000-meter run (18:51) and fifth in the 3,000-meter run (10:34.32).
PRESS RELEASE WRITTEN BY Ed Syguda, COURTESY OTTERBEIN ATHLETICS
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series
Next Race: KOBALT 400
The Place: Las Vegas Motor Speedway
The Date: Sunday, March 9
The Time: 3 p.m. (ET)
TV: FOX, 2:30 p.m. (ET)
Radio: PRN, Sirius XM Ch. 90
Distance: 400.5 Miles (267 laps)
NASCAR Nationwide Series
Next Race: Boyd Gaming 300
The Place: Las Vegas Motor Speedway
The Date: Saturday, March 8
The Time: 4:15 p.m. (ET)
TV: ESPN2, 4 p.m. (ET)
Radio: PRN, Sirius XM Ch. 90
Distance: 300 miles (200 laps)
NASCAR Camping World Truck Series
Next Race: KROGER 250
The Place: Martinsville Speedway
The Date: Saturday, March 29
The Time: 1:30 p.m. (ET)
TV: FOX Sports 1, 1 p.m. (ET)
Radio: MRN, Sirius XM Ch. 90
Distance: 250 miles (131.5 laps)
2 Down, 14 To Go: Harvick Win Means Chase All But Guaranteed
A NASCAR Sprint Cup Series victory?
That’s gold, Jerry. Gold.
Actually, winning a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race might be better than gold.
Never in the 65-year history of the series has a win held this much importance. It means more than a trophy, and a trip to Victory Lane.
In all likelihood, it means a berth in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup; a chance at a championship. It means hope.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. knows the feeling, winning the Daytona 500 and admitting he can now take bigger swings in the hopes of piling up victory after victory.
And now Kevin Harvick knows the spoils of a victory. His dominant – and with a Driver Rating of 149.9, near-perfect – win at Phoenix put the Chase directly in his cross hairs.
Both Earnhardt and Harvick will make the Chase unless there are more than 15 different winners in the first 26 races – something that’s happened only twice in the 65-year history of the sNASCAR Sprint Cup Series. In other words, they should feel pretty good.
And after this weekend, Harvick might feel even better. Another win would leave only two hurdles left to clear to lock up a Chase spot – finishing in the top 30 and attempting to qualify for every race. A second win would mathematically guarantee that he – or anyone – would be among the top 15 winners.
Harvick has yet to win a NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, but has come close. He scored a runner-up finish in in 2010, part of an overall Vegas record that includes three top fives, five top 10s and an average finish of 12.7. He finished ninth last season, driving for Richard Childress Racing.
This, too, might play into Harvick’s hands: his crew chief, Rodney Childers. Though this weekend will be Childers’ first at Vegas with Harvick, he has plenty of experience there. In seven starts, Childers has called the shots at Vegas for four different drivers. His best finish is fourth, with David Reutimann in 2009.
Harvick’s boss – Tony Stewart – might actually run a tad better. Including a Vegas win in 2012, Stewart has scored three top 10s in the last four races at the 1.5-mile track. In 2011 and 2012, he led more than 100 laps per race. Last season, he finished 11th.
Busch Brothers Annual Homecoming Spiced By Special News
The early-season Las Vegas Motor Speedway event always is a highlight for Kyle Busch and Kurt Busch. After all, they’re from Las Vegas. This time, though, there’s an even brighter spotlight resulting from Kurt’s announcement that he’ll attempt to race in both the Coca-Cola 600 and the Indianapolis 500 this year on May 25.
Busch seeks to become the fourth person to race in both events on the same day. One of those four is his boss at Stewart-Haas Racing – Tony Stewart, who has done the “double” twice. (John Andretti and Robby Gordon are the other two.)
“I’ve always just tried to challenge myself in motorsports,” Kurt told NASCAR.com, “and to be a student of all kind of cars — dirt tracks, road courses, superspeedways, short track, open wheel, and of course, our stock cars … it’s a chance to challenge myself, to do something physically and mentally as a driver, and show how tough NASCAR drivers are.”
Busch has been talking seriously about wanting to race in both classics – the second of which is NASCAR’s longest and most grueling race – since May of last year when he drove an Andretti Autosport car in a rookie test at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. He wasn’t able to get a ride last year for the Indy 500.
As far as this weekend goes, Kyle has had the better results at LVMS, with consecutive poles in 2008-09 and a victory in ’09, in 10 starts. Kurt has a pole and one top five over a 13-year span. Kyle is the only driver in the series to win from the pole at Vegas.
Earnhardt Resetting Odds, Going Into Las Vegas
Granted, it’s early. But here’s a Dale Earnhardt Jr. statistic worth noting: for the second time in his career, he has led the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series points for the first two weeks of the season.
After his Daytona 500 victory and second-place finish this past Sunday at Phoenix, he’s likely causing odds makers to reset his chances of winning the series championship for the first time, as the series rolls into Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Only once before has Earnhardt had this sort of start, in 2004 – his first Daytona 500 victory, followed by a fifth-place finish at North Carolina Motor Speedway (Rockingham), which gave him two weeks’ time atop the standings.
Said Earnhardt, following the strong run at Phoenix: “I would have loved to have won the race … but our team is performing so well. Got a lot of great chemistry and good communication going back and forth. Everybody’s confidence is very high. Everybody’s mood and morale is really high.”
Las Vegas has been a so-so proposition for Earnhardt through the years, with seven top 10s but only two top fives in 14 starts. An average finish of 15.6 and a Driver Rating of 88.2, ninth-best in the series, show consistency in lieu of trips to Victory Lane. Consistency, though, takes a back seat under the new Chase format. It’s all about winning; by capturing the Daytona 500 Earnhardt virtually assured himself a spot in NASCAR’s “playoffs.”
Somewhat lost amid the celebration of winning the 500 and nearly winning again at Phoenix is the fact that Earnhardt’s resurgence actually cranked up late last season; he had eight top 10s in the 10-race Chase including three second-place finishes. That clearly set the table for this year’s impressive start.
“I was wondering if we would carry on the momentum from last year, running so good in the Chase,” Earnhardt said. “The performance is there for us. Hopefully we can maintain it. We go to a completely different track [this week] at Vegas, but we have a whole day Thursday [during testing] to figure it out.”
Remember That Guy Jimmie Johnson?
Austin Dillon, driving the iconic No. 3, won the Coors Light Pole for the Daytona 500 – an unbelievably cool story. Then, Dale Earnhardt Jr. won the Daytona 500, capturing everyone’s hearts and minds – and covers … in the case of Sports Illustrated.
Then, Kevin Harvick went out to Phoenix and blew the doors off the place.
Lots of storylines have swirled around the early goings of the 2014 season – almost none of which has revolved around the greatest driver of the last decade. Weird.
Well, Jimmie Johnson’s break from the spotlight just might end come Lap 267 in Sunday’s Kobalt 400 – an appropriate name for a brand that occasionally graces Johnson’s hood.
Johnson, one of only two drivers to average a top-10 finish at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, has a series-high four victories at the 1.5-mile track. He has finished in the top 10 in two of the last three races – leading double-digit laps in both. He has led laps in 10 of his 12 starts, which matches Matt Kenseth for most of any driver.
And it’s not like Johnson has struggled in the first two races. He scored top 10s in each, with two Driver Ratings over 100 points.
Hard-Charger Kenseth A Three-Time Winner At Vegas
Matt Kenseth won last year’s Las Vegas event and has three wins overall at the track – second in the series behind Jimmie Johnson’s four Vegas triumphs. It’s safe to say another win would be encouraging for Kenseth. Two of his Vegas wins have come in his two best seasons – his 2003 championship-winning year and last year’s championship runner-up result. (His other Vegas victory came in 2004.)
Las Vegas is a track that illustrates that Kenseth is indeed all about winning races; for him, the new Chase qualifying format is made-to-order. During his 2003 championship season he simply got a bad rap, as he had only one victory and won the title largely on the strength of 22 top 10s. When the Chase was implemented the next season, critics cited Kenseth as the catalyst for the new format even though, in 2002, he had a series-high five victories.
Well, since 2003, Kenseth has won 24 times in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series – including last year’s series-leading seven wins – and another 14 times in the NASCAR Nationwide Series. Along the way, he has won the Daytona 500 twice. That’s hard-charging by any measurement.
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Etc.
On-track action will start a day earlier than usual, with the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series testing the 2014 rules package on the cars on Thursday. Testing will run from noon until 4 p.m., local time. Changes to the rules package include statically setting the race car ride height and eliminating the pre- and post-race front height rules and inspections. Additionally, the 2014 package includes a square leading edge on the splitter, side skirt and rear fascia adjustments and an eight-inch rear spoiler. Finally, a 43-inch by 13-inch radiator pan will round out changes for 2014. … Assuming he qualifies for the race, Martin Truex Jr. will make his 300th NSCS start on Sunday. … The No. 31 (driven by Ryan Newman) will also make a milestone start – 1,000 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series starts. Two drivers have won NSCS races in the No. 31 (Jeff Burton, four wins; and Robby Gordon, three wins). Jeff Burton has the most starts in the No. 31 (324); 98 different drivers have started at least one race in the No. 31 car. Burton will make his first start of the season in the No. 66.
Nationwide Regulars Have History, What It Takes To Win In Vegas
The last two NASCAR Nationwide Series races at Las Vegas Motor Speedway have seen series regulars celebrate in Victory Lane: Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (2012) and Sam Hornish Jr. (2013). Saturday’s Boyd Gaming 300 could continue that streak with a handful of drivers as the most likely to pull the trifecta off.
A quick scan of Loop Data from the past nine series races at Las Vegas have a combination of Trevor Bayne, Ty Dillon, Brendan Gaughan, Elliott Sadler and Brian Scott appearing in the top five in several categories: average driver rating, quality passes, green-flag speed, fastest laps run, fastest on restarts, laps led, laps in top 15 and average running position.
In four starts at the “Diamond in the Desert,” Bayne has never finished lower than sixth. He led 21 laps in last year’s race before finishing fourth for the second consecutive season. His best finish at the 1.5-mile speedway is ninth (2012) in three NASCAR Sprint Cup Series starts.
Dillon has only one series start at Vegas, which came last year where he finished 11th after starting fifth. In two NASCAR Camping World Truck Series events, he has finished of 10th and fourth.
Last season, Gaughan finished fifth in the NASCAR Nationwide race at Vegas, his best finish in three starts. In 2003, he won the truck series race at Vegas to go along with five top-10 finishes. In all, he has 18 national series starts in the desert.
With 19 national series starts, Sadler has the most starts in Vegas among the group, having competed at the track in only the top two series. In seven NASCAR Nationwide events, he’s only finished outside the top 15 once, including a third-place finish in 2012. In the premier series, Sadler turned in a career-best sixth-place performance during the 2004 season.
In last year’s NASCAR Nationwide race, Scott posted his best finish of ninth at the track. In his three other starts, he placed 31st, 14th and 34th. His average finishing position in three truck series races is 20.7.
One interesting note, NASCAR Sprint Cup Series regular Kyle Busch has never won in a NASCAR Nationwide event at his hometown track.
Sunoco Rookies Roll Into Vegas On A Roll
With two races already in the books, the large NASCAR Nationwide Series Sunoco Rookie of the Year class continues to impress. The group is headlined by Ty Dillon, Dylan Kwasniewski and Chase Elliott, who are all within four points of each other for rookie of the year honors.
After a 10th-place showing at Phoenix and a seventh the previous week in Daytona, Dillon leads the rookie standings with 26 points. He currently sits fourth in the overall standings, 12 points behind leader Regan Smith. Dillon is the only one of the three to have a Nationwide start under his belt, finishing 11th last year.
Kwasniewski finished in the same spot in the field in which he started at Phoenix – 13th. The weekend before, he finished eighth. Although he has never made a national series start at the 1.5-mile track, he’s posted two runner-up finishes in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West at the facility’s Bullring. Kwasniewski arrives in Vegas four points behind Dillon in the rookie race (tied with Elliott) and fifth in the championship standings (-17).
Elliott is another driver who has never made a national series start in the desert, but he continues to grow with the more starts he’s able to get under his belt. In Saturday’s Nationwide Phoenix race he placed ninth (the highest-finishing rookie in the field) one week after finishing 15th in Daytona. He’s currently eight in the championship standings (-29).
Could This Be Sadler’s Season?
With high expectations going into 2013, Elliott Sadler fell short of his title hopes, and was not part of the championship conversation for much of the year. After two races this season, however, it seems as though the Joe Gibbs Racing driver has rebounded.
He is currently third in the points standings, just six points behind leader Regan Smith and one behind Trevor Bayne. In the season-opening race at Daytona, Sadler finished fifth after starting fifth. Saturday at Phoenix, he finished sixth, and was the highest-finishing championship contender.
Sadler, who was the runner-up in the 2011 and 2012 standings, has two top-five finishes in seven series starts at Las Vegas Motor Speedway – the site of this Saturday’s Boyd Gaming 300. In last year’s race, the Virginia native finished fifth.
NASCAR Nationwide Series Etc.
Plenty of hometown rooting interests pepper both the NASCAR Sprint Cup and NASCAR Nationwide Series entry lists for this weekend’s races at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Four drivers hail from Las Vegas: Kurt and Kyle Busch in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (See page 1 for more on them); and Brendan Gaughan and Dylan Kwasniewski in the NASCAR Nationwide Series. … Dale Earnhardt Jr. returned to the NASCAR Nationwide Series – for the second time this season – and will drive the No. 88 Chevrolet. He finished 11th in the season-opening race at Daytona. … David Ragan will make his 100th NNS on Saturday in Vegas.
After Daytona Win, Eric Phillips Looks To Break Record At Martinsville
Eric Phillips stands on the verge of history. One more victory, and he’ll be the all-time winningest crew chief in the 20-year history of the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series.
Phillips called the shots for Kyle Busch’s season-opening win at Daytona International Speedway to give him 28 for his career, tying Rick Ren for the most wins in series history.
Eighteen of Phillips’ 28 wins have come while working at Kyle Busch Motorsports, and his list of drivers who have won with him is quite impressive. Dennis Setzer picked up four of his 18 career wins with Phillips and former series champions Mike Skinner (3) and Travis Kvapil (2) have also scored wins with Phillips.
Current NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers Clint Bowyer, Denny Hamlin, Kasey Kahne and Brian Scott have each scored a NCWTS win with Phillips. Phillips’ most prolific driver? Not surprisingly, it’s Kyle Busch (15).
As for the record, Phillips was even keeled when asked about it.
“I think [records] are a cool thing to achieve, but I have a lot of years left to do this so hopefully we break the record by a lot,” Phillips said. “It just says a lot that I have been fortunate to work with a lot of great drivers and organizations through the years.”
Phillips will try and have the record all by himself when he leads Erik Jones in the No. 51 Toyota at Martinsville on March 29. If Jones can pick up his second win in as many starts, he would become the ninth different driver to win a race with Phillips on the pit box.
Drivers Moonlight In NASCAR Nationwide Series During Off Weekend
It has become common for several NASCAR Camping World Truck Series regulars to jump in to a NASCAR Nationwide Series car during an off weekend and this Saturday will be no exception for Matt Crafton.
After a solid showing in the NASCAR Nationwide Series last season with three top-10 finishes in as many starts, the defending NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion will make his fourth career start in the NNS this Saturday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Crafton finished third in both races at Kentucky Speedway, and placed 10th at Chicagoland in July.
Fellow ThorSport Racing driver Johnny Sauter has already made one start this season in the season opener in Daytona. Ryan Blaney is also scheduled to make 15 NNS starts later this season.
Sauter has three career NNS wins while Blaney picked up his first series win last season at Kentucky.
10 Years Of The Whelen Southern Modified Tour
The NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour will have a milestone weekend when the 2014 season takes the green flag on Sunday at Caraway Speedway in Sophia, N.C. The Whelen Season Opener 150 will launch the 10th season of competition for the Whelen Southern Modified Tour, which held its inaugural event at Caraway on March 26, 2005. George Brunnhoelzl III is a two-time winner of the Caraway opener, and will look to Sunday’s event as an opportunity to launch what could be an historic fourth consecutive championship season. His Whelen Season Opener 150 triumphs in 2011 and 2012 both led to eventual titles.
Jay Beasley, a member of the NASCAR Drive for Diversity Program and driver for Rev Racing in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East, will be recognized by the Governor on Thursday, March 6 in Carson City, Nev., as part of an ongoing initiative to have the U.S. state and Canadian province champions from the 2013 NASCAR Whelen All-American Series season participate in meet-and-greet events with their respective governors. Beasley was the Super Late Model champion at The Bullring at Las Vegas Motor Speedway last year and the NWAAS Nevada champion.
With his victory in the season-opening event for the NASCAR Mexico Toyota Series this past weekend at Phoenix International Raceway, Daniel Suárez now leads the NASCAR K&N Pro Series and Mexico Toyota Series points standings, becoming the first driver since Kyle Busch in 2009 to concurrently lead two NASCAR series.
RACE PREVIEW WRITTEN BY Mike Forde, Jeff Motley, Mike Smith, COURTESY NASCAR COMMUNICATIONS