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Archive for July 8th, 2017

NHRA heads to Joliet; Rising star in Pro Stock driver Alex Laughlin looking for improvement as season moves along

 

 

AT FALLEN PATRIOTS NHRA ROUTE 66 NATIONALS PRESENTED BY K&N

JOLIET, Ill. – Struggles in previous years at tracks have turned into wins in both of Alex Laughlin’s Pro Stock victories. The rising star hopes a similar scenario plays out at Route 66 Raceway, the site of this weekend’s 20th annual Fallen Patriots NHRA Route 66 Nationals presented by K&N.

Laughlin has only raced once at the state-of-the-art facility, losing in the first round a year ago. But he turned prior first-round defeats into wins at St. Louis in 2016 and then two races ago in Bristol in his Gas Monkey Garage Chevrolet Camaro, and Laughlin wouldn’t mind repeating the process a third time this weekend at a track he immediately enjoyed, even with the early loss last season.
“Chicago was just awesome and I loved everything about the facility there,” said Laughlin, who only has 35 career Pro Stock races under his belt. “We did not run well there last year, but hopefully the same thing can happen like it did with Bristol and St. Louis. It’s a cool place and there’s a lot of race fans there, and I’m super excited about this weekend.”
Antron Brown (Top Fuel), Jack Beckman (Funny Car), Greg Anderson (Pro Stock) and Andrew Hines (Pro Stock Motorcycle) were last year’s winners of the event that will be televised on FOX Sports 1, including live final eliminations coverage starting at 3 p.m. (ET) on Sunday, July 9.
It is the 13th of 24 events in the 2017 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season, and the fifth Pro Stock race this year for Laughlin. Not surprisingly, the limited schedule has translated to up and down performances, as evidenced by the thrilling win in Bristol and a frustrating first-round loss just a week later in Norwalk. Laughlin had hoped to build on the Bristol victory, which included a final round win against current Pro Stock points leader Bo Butner, in Norwalk, but that progress will have to wait until this weekend at Route 66 Raceway. That has Laughlin anxious for the event in Chicago, where he’ll look to put those recent struggles quickly behind him.
“You go from the ultimate high to the ultimate low,” Laughlin said. “All that being said, we found some stuff that could have been better in Norwalk and we’re confident going into this weekend. We ran horrible (in Norwalk) and that’s what we’ve had to live on the last couple weeks. You have to have a short-term memory in this sport. It really all came together in Bristol. One thing led to another and the car kept getting better and better. We were pumped going to Norwalk. I was so bummed after that, but we think we can have a good weekend in Chicago.”
Laughlin is confident in that, even while racing against talented drivers like defending event winner Anderson and rookie Tanner Gay, who each have two wins in 2017, reigning champ Jason Line and Chris McGaha, as well as his Elite Motorsports teammates Erica Enders, who became the first female Pro Stock winner after her 2012 Chicago victory, five-time event winner and world champion Jeg Coughlin and Vincent Nobile. Joining that team this season has already paid huge dividends for Laughlin, as his own driving skills continue to improve at a rapid rate.
“With Elite, not only do you have the support of some of the best drivers in the class, with those guys it’s like a family,” Laughlin said. “We all hang out together and even if you run bad, you can go home from a race saying you had a great time. As far as driving, I feel completely comfortable now. I feel like I’ve come a long way, but I still have a long way to go. There’s so many different things that you learn over laps and laps with what you like and what feels comfortable.”
Defending Top Fuel winner Brown will look for his third win of 2017, as the back-to-back world champ will aim to track down points leader Steve Torrence, who has four victories this season.
Beckman will seek a third win in 2017 in Funny Car, but he’s chasing red-hot teammate and reigning world champion Ron Capps, who has a class-best five wins this season.
Hines is after his first Pro Stock Motorcycle win of the season. Points leader LE Tonglet, who has three victories, Eddie Krawiec and reigning champ Jerry Savoie all have wins this year.
The Route 66 NHRA Nationals also features thrilling competition in the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series, including the popular and highly-competitive JEGS Allstars bonus event. After Nitro qualifying, fans can watch the spectacular Douthit Motorsports eye lighting Black Pearl Jet Funny Car vs. Pro Jet Motorsports Al Z’s Hot Blade Jet Dragster. Jet cars are thrust driven propelled by jet engines with exciting pre-run flame shows.
As always, fans will have the opportunity to interact with their favorite drivers as they’re granted an exclusive pit pass to the most powerful and sensory-filled motorsports attraction on the planet. This unique opportunity in motorsports gives fans direct access to the teams, allowing them to see firsthand the highly-skilled mechanics service their hot rods between rounds, and get autographs from their favorite NHRA drivers.
Fans also will want to visit NHRA’s popular Nitro Alley and Manufacturers Midway, where sponsors and race vendors create a carnival atmosphere, with interactive displays, simulated competitions, merchandise, food and fun for the entire family.
Mello Yello Drag Racing Series qualifying will feature two rounds at 5:15 and 7:45 p.m. on Friday, July 7 and the final two rounds of qualifying on Saturday, July 8, at 3:15 and 6 p.m. Final eliminations are scheduled for 12 p.m. on Sunday, July 9.
To purchase general-admission or reserved seats, call 888-629-RACE (7223) or 815-722-5500. Tickets also are available online at www.route66raceway.com. Kids 12 and under are free in general admission areas with a paid adult. For more info about the NHRA visit www.NHRA.com.
Be social with NHRA

RACE PREVIEW WRITTEN BY & A COURTESY OF NHRA COMMUNICATIONS

Funny Car driver Del Worsham has past success in Chicago; NHRA at Route 66 Nationals this weekend

 

FALLEN PATRIOTS NHRA ROUTE 66 NATIONALS PRESENTED BY K&N
JOLIET, Ill. – There is something about Route 66 Raceway that brings out the best in Del Worsham. After a week off and confident that a frustrating stretch is behind him, the Funny Car standout hopes his good history with Chicago continues at this weekend’s 20th annual Fallen Patriots NHRA Route 66 Nationals presented by K&N.
The former Top Fuel world champion has posted four victories (three in Funny Car, one in Top Fuel) at the state-of-the-art facility, tied with Auto Club Raceway at Pomona as Worsham’s most successful track in his long and storied career. Sitting outside the top 10 and looking to get his 2017 Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season on track in his 10,000-horsepower Lucas Oil Toyota Camry, Route 66 Raceway might provide the perfect backdrop for Worsham’s turnaround.
“It’s a cool place and I just love it,” said Worsham, who has 39 career wins, 31 of which have come in Funny Car. “There’s a cool presence when you race there. You can tell they care about this track. It’s one place that really stands out when it comes to ownership and management. Even going back to the very first event there in 1998 when I was runner-up, I’ve had tons of success there. For whatever reason, this facility seems to match up well with us.”
Antron Brown (Top Fuel), Jack Beckman (Funny Car), Greg Anderson (Pro Stock) and Andrew Hines (Pro Stock Motorcycle) were last year’s winners of the event that will be televised on FOX Sports 1, including live final eliminations coverage starting at 3 p.m. (ET) on Sunday, July 9.
It is the 13th of 24 events in a season that hasn’t featured quite the amount of success Worsham was hoping for when he returned to his family racing team with his father, Chuck Worsham. There have been just three round wins and Worsham currently sits in 11th, five points back of Cruz Pedregon. Worsham fell in the first round at the final three races of a rigorous four-race stretch, but a solid test session in Norwalk following that event and a week off before Chicago has Worsham and his team reinvigorated heading into the second half of the 2017 season.
“We made big improvements staying after in Norwalk and we all felt good about it,” Worsham said. “Coming back, you can definitely see a change in everyone’s attitude. Luckily, we’ve all hung in there and everybody is excited to be (in Chicago). We’ve got a chance of making the Countdown and that’s something we would love to do. Hopefully with athe rest and some of the added performance we found in Norwalk, we can put ourselves in a good position.”
For Worsham to inch into the top 10, he knows that first-round losses must be kept to a minimum from here on out. That’s difficult in a loaded Funny Car class topped by points leader and reigning world champ Ron Capps, who has five wins this year, but one area of focus for Worsham is helping himself. That hasn’t happened as much as Worsham would have liked through the first 12 races and remains a major point of focus heading to Route 66 Raceway, where he last won in 2011.
“We still need to try and do as well as we can, run as hard as we can to try to win and win all the rounds that we should win,” Worsham said. “We have to be able to capitalize on mistakes and be there to take advantage. That’s kind of been my goal the whole season, but we ran into some roadblocks. Some of those races we should have won and we can’t give those away. Hopefully starting (in Chicago) we can take advantage of those.”
Defending Top Fuel winner Brown will look for his third win of 2017, as the back-to-back world champ will aim to track down points leader Steve Torrence, who has four victories this season.
Anderson is one of three Pro Stock drivers with at least two wins this season, sitting behind points leader Bo Butner and ahead of rookie Tanner Gray. Eight different drivers have wins in 2017.
Hines is after his first Pro Stock Motorcycle win of the season. Points leader LE Tonglet, who has three victories, Eddie Krawiec and reigning champ Jerry Savoie all have wins this year.
The Fallen Patriots NHRAA Route 66 Nationals also features thrilling competition in the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series, including the popular and highly-competitive JEGS Allstars bonus event. After Nitro qualifying, fans can watch the spectacular Douthit Motorsports eye lighting Black Pearl Jet Funny Car vs. Pro Jet Motorsports Al Z’s Hot Blade Jet Dragster. Jet cars are thrust driven propelled by jet engines with exciting pre-run flame shows.
As always, fans will have the opportunity to interact with their favorite drivers as they’re granted an exclusive pit pass to the most powerful and sensory-filled motorsports attraction on the planet. This unique opportunity in motorsports gives fans direct access to the teams, allowing them to see firsthand the highly-skilled mechanics service their hot rods between rounds, and get autographs from their favorite NHRA drivers.
Fans also will want to visit NHRA’s popular Nitro Alley and Manufacturers Midway, where sponsors and race vendors create a carnival atmosphere, with interactive displays, simulated competitions, merchandise, food and fun for the entire family.
Mello Yello Drag Racing Series qualifying will feature two rounds at 5:15 and 7:45 p.m. on Friday, July 7 and the final two rounds of qualifying on Saturday, July 8, at 3:15 and 6 p.m. Final eliminations are scheduled for 12 p.m. on Sunday, July 9.
To purchase general-admission or reserved seats, call 888-629-RACE (7223) or 815-722-5500. Tickets also are available online at www.route66raceway.com. Kids 12 and under are free in general admission areas with a paid adult. For more info about the NHRA visit www.NHRA.com.
 

 

Be social with NHRA

RACE PREVIEW WRITTEN BY & A COURTESY OF NHRA COMMUNICATIONS

NASCAR races in the Bluegrass State of Kentucky this weekend

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PRESS CONFERENCE AUDIO FROM QUAKER STATE POLE WINNER KYLE BUSCH

61,907 Kyle Busch NASCAR KY Quaker State 400 pole winner 7 7 2017

61,908 Kyle Busch NASCAR He likes the track at KY Speedway The repaving has made a big difference during practices 7 7 2017

 

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series

Next Race: Quaker State 400 Presented by Advance Auto Parts

The Place: Kentucky Speedway

The Date: Saturday, July 8

The Time: 7:30 p.m. ET

TV: NBCSN, 7 p.m. ET

Radio: PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio

Distance: 400.5 miles (267 laps); Stage 1 (Ends on lap 80),

Stage 2 (Ends on lap 160), Final Stage (Ends on lap 267)

NASCAR XFINITY Series

Next Race: Alsco 300

The Place: Kentucky Speedway

The Date: Friday, July 7

The Time: 8 p.m. ET

TV: NBCSN, 7:30 p.m. ET

Radio: PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio

Distance: 300 miles (200 laps); Stage 1 (Ends on lap 45),

Stage 2 (Ends on lap 90), Final Stage (Ends on lap 200)

 

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series

Next Race: Buckle Up In Your Truck 225

The Place: Kentucky Speedway

The Date: Thursday, July 6

The Time: 7:30 p.m. ET

TV: FS1, 7 p.m. ET

Radio: MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio

Distance: 225 miles (150 laps); Stage 1 (Ends on lap 35),

Stage 2 (Ends on lap 70), Final Stage (Ends on lap 150)

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series

Stenhouse Surges To Second Victory

NASCAR might have a new restrictor-plate ace. Nearly two months after visiting Victory Lane at Talladega, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. surged past David Ragan in overtime of Saturday’s Coke Zero 400 Powered by Coca-Cola at Daytona International Speedway to win his second career race.

Stenhouse joins Jimmie Johnson, Martin Truex Jr., Kyle Larson and Brad Keselowski as the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series drivers with multiple victories this season. The Roush Fenway Racing driver is having a career year. He’s tied his career best with four top fives and already claims a career-high seven top 10s.

The No. 17 Ford driver will attempt to continue his momentum in Saturday’s Quaker State 400 at Kentucky Speedway (8 p.m. ET on NBCSN, PRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). He has a high finish of 11th in four starts at the 1.5-mile track.

Kentucky Fried King: Keselowski Goes For Record Fourth Win In The Bluegrass State

Kentucky Speedway has hosted six Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series races. Brad Keselowski has won a track-record three of them, including last year’s race.

 

Keselowski will go for a fourth career win at Kentucky in Saturday’s Quaker State 400 Presented by Advance Auto Parts. In addition to his four victories, the No. 2 Team Penske driver claims three top fives, five top 10s and an 8.2 average finish. He’s led a track record 483 laps.

Keselowski currently ranks fifth in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series standings, 132 points behind leader Kyle Larson. He is tied with Larson for third in playoff points with 13 (via his two wins and three stage wins).

Busch Hopes To Grab First Win Of Season At Kentucky

Kyle Busch sits third in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series points standings, 108 points behind leader Kyle Larson, but he still hasn’t won a race this season. He’ll try to change that this weekend at Kentucky Speedway where he’s visited Victory Lane twice (2011, 2015).

 

In addition to his two Kentucky wins, Busch boasts four top fives, five top 10s and a 5.2 average finish in six starts there. He has never finished lower than 12th.

 

Busch’s streak of three consecutive top-10 finishes was snapped last weekend at Daytona after finishing 20th. He has four stage wins, four playoff points, six top fives, nine top 10s and a 13.1 average finish this season.

 

Larson Looks To Extend Points Lead

Kyle Larson continues to prove the future is now for NASCAR’s young stars. Seventeen races into the season, the 24-year-old Californian leads the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series standings by 18 points over Martin Truex Jr.

 

Larson’s 10.2 average finish is tops in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. He ranks second in average running position (8.9) and driver rating (105.8). The No. 42 Chevrolet driver is third in laps led (721, 14.6%).

 

Larson has struggled at Kentucky throughout his Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series career. In three starts at the 1.5-mile track, he has never finished higher than 19th.

 

Playoff Watch: Nine Races Left For Drivers To Earn Postseason Berths

Nine races remain for drivers to earn berths in NASCAR’s playoffs.

 

The following drivers would get in if the season ended today: Jimmie Johnson (three wins, 16 playoff points), Kyle Larson (two, 13), Martin Truex Jr. (two, 21), Brad Keselowski (two, 13), Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (two, 10), Kevin Harvick (one, eight), Ryan Blaney (one, eight), Kurt Busch (one, five), Ryan Newman (one, five), Austin Dillon (one, five), Kyle Busch (117 points above Joey Logano on the cutoff line, four playoff points), Chase Elliott (+82, two), Jamie McMurray (+62), Denny Hamlin (+56, 2), Clint Bowyer (+27), Matt Kenseth (+3, two).

 

The first four out would be: Logano (three points below Matt Kenseth on the cutoff line), Erik Jones (-56), Daniel Suarez (-88) and Trevor Bayne (-91).

 

Remember, a win gets a driver into the playoffs. Below is a list of winless drivers who have visited Victory Lane at upcoming tracks:

 

Kentucky: Ky. Busch, Kenseth

New Hampshire: Ky. Busch, Kenseth, Bowyer, Hamlin, Kasey Kahne

Indianapolis: Ky. Busch, McMurray, Paul Menard

Pocono: Hamlin, Kenseth, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kahne, Chris Buescher

Watkins Glen: Hamlin, Ky. Busch, AJ Allmendinger

Michigan: Ky. Busch, Hamlin, Earnhardt Jr., Kenseth, Kahne

Bristol: Ky. Busch, Hamlin, Kenseth, Earnhardt Jr., Kahne

Darlington: Ky. Busch, Hamlin, Kenseth

Richmond: Ky. Busch, Hamlin, Kenseth, Bowyer, Earnhardt Jr., Kahne

 

NASCAR XFINITY Series

Friday Night Under The Kentucky Lights: A Playoff Preview

Performing well is especially important this weekend at Kentucky Speedway in the Alsco 300 on Friday, July 7 (8 p.m. ET on NBCSN, PRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio), because not only is the 1.5-mile track nestled in the ‘Bluegrass State’ hosting some great racing action this weekend, but it will also host the first event in the opening round of 2017 NASCAR XFINITY Series playoffs. Friday night competitors will get their chance at not only going for the win to lock themselves into the playoffs, but also preparing for the post-season itself.

 

Getting off to a good start in the playoffs is key, as the first two rounds are just three races each. The Round of 12, which opens the 2017 NASCAR XFINITY Series post-season, includes Kentucky Speedway, Dover International Speedway and Charlotte Motor Speedway. Then comes the Round of 8, which has Kansas Speedway, Texas Motor Speedway and Phoenix Raceway, and leads into the Championship 4 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

 

Last season’s mid-summer Kentucky event proved to be quite the preview to what happened in the playoffs later that season. While Kyle Busch won last July’s race, Daniel Suárez (third) and Elliott Sadler (sixth) were the some of the highest finishing championship contenders. Later that season in the playoff opener at Kentucky, Sadler won and Suárez finished runner-up. Both went on to make it to the Championship 4, with Suárez edging Sadler out for the title.

Playoff Picture: Top Five Drivers In The Points Needing A Win

Kentucky Speedway offers a great opportunity for NASCAR XFINITY Series championship contending drivers to get a win and lock themselves into the 2017 post-season. Five such drivers ranked high in points need a win to solidify their bid for the playoffs this season.

Elliott SadlerNo. 1 JR Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro – currently leads the series standings and is a comfortable 276 points ahead of 13th in standings, but has yet to win and lock himself into the playoffs. Though Sadler hasn’t won since the playoff Kentucky race last season (21 races ago), he has had an impressive 2017 season, posting the series-most top fives (seven) and top 10s (13). Expect Sadler be strong this weekend, in 11 starts at Kentucky Speedway, he has posted one win (2016), five top fives, eight top 10s and an average finish of 7.4.

Brennan Poole – No. 48 Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet Camaro – is the second-highest ranked driver in the series standings without a win, but he is 101 points ahead of 13th position. Poole made the playoffs as a rookie last year and is looking to follow it up in his sophomore season. Though he has posted five top 10s in 2017, he is still looking for his first career NASCAR XFINITY Series win. Kentucky is a track well-suited for Poole to score his first win. In four series starts at the famed 1.5-mile speedway, he has posted two top 10s.

Daniel Hemric – No. 21 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet Camaro – is currently fifth is the series standings and is 91 points ahead of 13th-place, the first position outside the playoffs. Hemric is proving to be an emerging star as the Richard Childress Racing driver has posted a pole, two top fives and five top 10s this season.  This will be Hemric’s series track debut at Kentucky this weekend, but he does have two NASCAR Camping World Truck Series starts at the 1.5-mile facility, posting a best finish of third last season.

Cole Custer – No. 00 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford Mustang – is a Sunoco Rookie of the Year contender with all the talent in the world, but has been wrestling through a roller-coaster of a season. He currently is seventh in the championship standings, after posting three DNFs in the first seven races, but the youngster has fought through the adversity, and now is 60 points ahead of 13th-place in the standings. Custer has posted two top fives and six top 10s this season. This will be his second career start at Kentucky this weekend, he made his track debut last season – starting eighth but finishing 32nd.

Matt Tifft – No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota Camry – has stepped into the car (No. 19 Toyota team) that won the title last season as a Sunoco Rookie of the Year contender and has handled the opportunity quite well. The Joe Gibbs Racing driver is eighth in the NASCAR XFINITY Series standings, 57 points ahead of the playoff’s cutoff (13th). Tifft’s 2017 season has seen four top 10 finishes. Count on Tifft to do well this weekend, he has made two series starts at Kentucky and has finished in the top-10 in both, posting an average finish of 7.5.

 

Sunoco Rookie Spotlight: JR Motorsport’s William Byron Looks To Take Three In A Row

No NASCAR XFINITY Series driver is hotter right now than JR Motorsport’s Sunoco Rookie of the Year contender William Byron. The Charlotte, North Carolina, native is coming off back-to-back wins at Iowa and Daytona, and now heads to Kentucky Speedway for the Alsco 300 on Friday, July 7 (8 p.m. ET on NBCSN, PRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) to become the first rookie in series history to win three races in a row and the eighth driver all-time to accomplish the milestone.

 

If Byron achieves the feat of winning three consecutive NXS races or more he will join Sam Ard (the only driver to win four straight in 1983, three straight in 1984), Kyle Busch (2008, 2013, and won three straight twice in 2016), Dale Earnhardt Jr. (1999), Harry Gant (1991), Mark Martin (1997), Ryan Newman (2005) and Larry Pearson (1987).

 

This weekend will be Byron’s first series start at Kentucky Speedway, but the 19-year-old made one NASCAR Camping World Truck Series start at the 1.5-mile track last season and won.

Busch Is Back To Win: Only Two Checkered Flags Away From 175 NASCAR National Series Victories

Since Richard Petty has earned the nickname ‘The King’ it is only fitting then Kyle Busch be called ‘The Prince’ as he is second only to Petty (200) on the NASCAR national series wins list with 173 checkered flags, and this weekend the winningest driver in NASCAR XFINITY Series history (87 wins) returns to defend his victory at Kentucky Speedway and add another notch closer to the King’s total.

 

Kyle Busch has 38 Monster Energy wins, 87 XFINITY wins and 48 Camping World Truck wins, totaling a cool 173, just two wins away from 175 NASCAR national series wins.

 

Busch has made nine series starts at Kentucky Speedway posting two wins (2004, 2016), seven top fives and an average finish of 6.8. He won last season’s race from the pole and dominated the event, leading 185 of 201 laps.

 

Busch will not be the only Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series driver to compete in the Alsco 300 this weekend. Paul Menard, Ty Dillon, Ryan Blaney, Erik Jones, Joey Logano, and Kevin Harvick will also be making an attempt at the win this Friday night.

 

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series

Magic Number 8: John Hunter Nemechek Eyes His Third Consecutive Win

John Hunter Nemechek is doing more with less, and has made it look effortless, especially in the last two NASCAR Camping World Truck Series races (Gateway and Iowa), where he snatched the lead late and parked his No. 8 NEMCO Motorsports Chevrolet in Victory Lane. Now the ascending star has banked two wins and rolls to Kentucky Speedway this weekend for the Buckle Up In Your Truck 225 on Thursday, July 6 (7:30 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) looking to become the eighth driver in series history to win three consecutive races or more.

 

If Nemechek pulls off the win this weekend, he is looking to join some of the best to ever compete in the series like Ron Hornaday Jr. (who holds series record for most consecutive wins with five in 2009, he also won three straight in 1997), Johnny Benson (2008), Greg Biffle (2000), Todd Bodine (2005), Kyle Busch (2011 and 2014), Kevin Harvick (2011) and Mike Skinner (1996 and 2007) as a three-consecutive race winner.

 

Nemechek has a solid chance of joining that list this weekend. In two career NASCAR Camping World Truck Series starts at Kentucky, he has posted an average finish of 6.5; including finishing runner-up last season.

Stage Left: Sauter, Bell and Briscoe Racking Up Mid-Race Points

It shouldn’t be too surprising the top three in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series championship points, GMS Racing’s Johnny Sauter (points leader), Kyle Busch Motorsport’s Christopher Bell (second) and Brad Keselowski Racing’s Chase Briscoe (third) are the same three drivers that lead the series in the accumulation of stage points this season.

 

Johnny Sauter has held the series championship standings lead since Martinsville back in April, and has since opened the gap between second to 42 points following Iowa. A big key to Sauter’s success this season is his ability to gather stage points, having amassed 134 – the series-most. Sauter’s 134 stage points account for 30.9% of his driver standings total of 433 points. Sauter’s 2017 season has been a strong one. In nine starts this season he has posted one win (Dover), and the series-most seven top fives. His average finish this season is 4.2 (series-best).

 

Watch for Sauter to be upfront again this weekend as he has made 10 starts at Kentucky, posting two top fives, five top 10s and an average finish of 11.2.

 

Christopher Bell is currently second (-42) in the series championship standings after posting three poles, two wins (Atlanta and Texas), six top fives (second-most) and eight top 10s (tied with Johnny Sauter for the series-most). Bell has also been one of the best at accumulating stage points this season with 106 (second-most) through nine races. His stage points total accounts for 27.1% of his total driver standings 391 points.

 

One can expect Bell to continue his assault on the stage points this weekend as he has made two series starts at Kentucky Speedway, posting one top five and an average finish of 10.5 -  he finished fourth in this event last season.

 

Sunoco Rookie of the Year candidate Chase Briscoe is currently third in the series championship standings, 76 points back from the standings leader Johnny Sauter. Briscoe is having an outstanding rookie campaign, having posted two poles, four top fives, five top 10s and an average finish of 8.7 (fourth-best) in nine starts. Briscoe has also excelled in accruing stage points, as he now has 102 (third-most) this season. Briscoe’s 102 stage points account for 28.5% of his driver standings total of 357 points.  This weekend at Kentucky will be his series track debut, but don’t count him out just yet. Briscoe has an average finish of 10.8 on 1.5-mile tracks this season, including a runner-up finish at Texas.

 

Kyle Busch Goes For The Triple Header

Sweeping a triple header has only been done once in NASCAR national series history and that record belongs to Kyle Busch, when he won all three races at Bristol Motor Speedway during the August 2010 events. This weekend at Kentucky Speedway, Busch will again try to match his record and compete in all three NASCAR national series including this Thursday’s Buckle Up In Your Truck 225 at 7:30 p.m. ET (FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). This weekend’s race will be Kyle Busch’s fourth start of the season, in his previous three starts he has posted two wins (Kansas and Charlotte) and an average finish of 9.3.

 

Busch has made six series starts at Kentucky Speedway posting two wins (2011 and 2014), three top fives, five top 10s and an average finish of 8.0. In last season’s race, he finished 30th after being caught in an accident.

 

Playoff Bubble: Seven Races Left For Drivers To Seal The Deal

Only seven races remain until the cutoff for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series playoffs, meaning time is of the essence for drivers without wins to click their ticket to the post-season.  Four drivers (Christopher Bell, John Hunter Nemechek, Johnny Sauter and Kaz Grala) are already locked in on wins, leaving four playoff spots up for grabs.

 

Chase Briscoe (+65) and Matt Crafton (+46) currently are the two winless drivers that have the largest points cushion ahead of Ryan Truex in ninth, the first spot outside of the playoffs. Briscoe will be making his series track debut at Kentucky this weekend. Crafton, on the other hand, will be making his 19th series start at Kentucky. In his previous 18 series starts on the 1.5-mile track he has posted one win (2015), five top fives, 13 top 10s and an average finish of 10.4.

 

Next is Ben Rhodes (+18), currently in seventh in the playoff outlook and then Grant Enfinger is eighth with the last and final playoff spot – just eight points ahead of ninth-place Ryan Truex. Both Rhodes and Enfinger needs wins as soon as possible, because all it will take is a bad run and they could be on the outside of the playoff cutoff line looking in.

 

Rhodes has had a career season thus far, having posted three top fives, five top 10s and an average finish of 10.9. Rhodes made his series track debut at Kentucky last season, starting ninth and finishing 13th.

 

Sunoco Rookie of the Year contender Grant Enfinger currently sits in the final playoff spot (eighth) just eight points ahead of ninth-place Ryan Truex. Enfinger will have his work cut out for him to hold on the final playoff spot but he has been consistent this season having posted four top fives, six top 10s and an average finish of 8.2 (third-best) in nine starts. He made lone series start at Kentucky last season, starting 17th and finishing 12th.

 

One thing going for Rhodes and Enfinger is this will be Ryan Truex’s series track debut this weekend at Kentucky.

 

NCWTS Playoff Outlook Following Iowa

Rank Driver Race Wins Playoff Pts Points
1 Christopher Bell 2 14 391
2 John H. Nemechek 2 11 280
3 Johnny Sauter 1 10 433
4 Kaz Grala 1 5 247
Rank Driver Race Wins Playoff Pts Points Pts from Cutoff
5 Chase Briscoe 0 1 357 65
6 Matt Crafton 0 1 338 46
7 Ben Rhodes 0 0 310 18
8 Grant Enfinger 0 0 300 8
9 Ryan Truex 0 1 292 -8

 

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Etc.

Moonlighting Drivers: Tommy Regan, Ross Chastain, JJ Yeley and Brandon Jones are joining Kyle Busch as drivers who don’t content for NASCAR Camping World Truck Series points and are also on the entry list.

Sunoco Rookie of the Year Points Update: Following the ninth race of the season at Iowa, Grant Enfinger (122 points) is the series rookie standings leader; followed by Chase Briscoe (-5), Noah Gragson (-24), Kaz Grala (-30), Austin Cindric (-53), Justin Haley (-60), Cody Coughlin (-62), Wendell Chavous (-78) and Stewart Friesen (-92).

 

PRESS RELEASE WRITTEN BY & A COURTESY OF NASCAR COMMUNICATIONS

 

IndyCar races at Iowa Speedway this weekend for Iowa Corn 300

Iowa Corn 300 Fast Facts

Race weekend: Saturday, July 8 – Sunday, July 9

Track: Iowa Speedway, a 7/8-mile (0.894-mile) oval in Newton, Iowa

Race distance: 300 laps / 268.2 miles

Entry List: Iowa Corn 300 (PDF)

Firestone tire allotment: Ten sets for use through the weekend

Twitter: @iowaspeedway, @IndyCar, #IowaCorn300, #IndyCar

Event website: www.IowaSpeedway.com

INDYCAR website: www.IndyCar.com

2016 race winner: Josef Newgarden (No. 21 Fuzzy’s Ultra Premium Vodka Chevrolet)

2016 Verizon P1 Award winner: Simon Pagenaud (No. 22 Menards Team Penske Chevrolet), 34.6334 seconds, 185.855 mph (two laps)

One-lap qualifying record: Helio Castroneves, 17.2283 seconds, 186.809 mph, July 11, 2014

Two-lap qualifying record: Scott Dixon, 34.5588 seconds, 186.256 mph, July 11, 2014

NBCSN television broadcasts: Qualifying, 3 p.m. ET Saturday, July 8 (live); Race, 5 p.m. ET Sunday, July 9 (live). Kevin Lee is the lead announcer for the NBCSN broadcasts this weekend alongside analysts Townsend Bell and Paul Tracy. Pit reporters are Jon Beekhuis, Katie Hargitt, Anders Krohn and Robin Miller.

Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network broadcasts: Mark Jaynes is the chief announcer alongside analyst Davey Hamilton. Jake Query is the turn announcer with Rob Howden, Nick Yeoman and Michael Young reporting from the pits. All Verizon IndyCar Series races are broadcast live on network affiliates, Sirius 212, XM 209, IndyCar.com, indycarradio.com and on the INDYCAR Mobile app. All Verizon IndyCar Series practice and qualifying sessions are available on IndyCar.com, indycarradio.com and on the INDYCAR Mobile app.

Video streaming: All practice sessions for the Iowa Corn 300 will stream live on RaceControl.IndyCar.com and on the INDYCAR YouTube channel (www.youtube.com/indycar).

At-track schedule (all times local):

Saturday, July 8
10 – 11:15 a.m. – Verizon IndyCar Series practice #1, RaceControl.IndyCar.com (Live)
2 p.m. – Qualifying for the Verizon P1 Award (single car/two timed laps), NBCSN (Live)
6:15 – 6:45 p.m. – Verizon IndyCar Series practice #2, RaceControl.IndyCar.com (Live)

Sunday, July 9
3:10 -  3:20 p.m. – Verizon IndyCar Series pit stop practice
4:05 p.m. – Driver introductions
4:40 p.m. – Command to start engines
4:44 p.m. – Iowa Corn 300 (300 laps/268.2 miles), NBCSN (Live)

Race notes:

• There have been eight different winners in the 10 previous Verizon IndyCar Series races in 2017: Sebastien Bourdais (Streets of St. Petersburg), James Hinchcliffe (Streets of Long Beach), Josef Newgarden (Barber Motorsports Park), Simon Pagenaud (Phoenix Raceway), Will Power (INDYCAR Grand Prix and Texas Motor Speedway), Takuma Sato (Indianapolis 500), Graham Rahal (Raceway at Belle Isle-1 and Raceway at Belle Isle-2) and Scott Dixon (Road America). Bourdais’ win at St. Pete on March 12 gave him sole possession of sixth on the all-time Indy car victory list. Power’s win at Texas on June 10 tied him with Dario Franchitti and Paul Tracy for ninth on the all-time list with 31 wins. Dixon’s win at Road America on June 25 was his 41st career victory and he will tie Michael Andretti for third all-time with his next win.

• The Iowa Corn 300 will be the fourth of six oval races on the 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series schedule. The previous three races were won by Simon Pagenaud (Phoenix Raceway), Takuma Sato (Indianapolis 500) and Will Power (Texas Motor Speedway). The remaining two races will take place at Pocono Raceway (Aug. 20) and Gateway Motorsports Park (Aug. 26).

• The Iowa Corn 300 will be the 11th Verizon IndyCar Series event at Iowa Speedway. Ryan Hunter-Reay is the only active driver to win at Iowa Speedway more than once. Hunter-Reay has three wins (2012, 2014 and 2015). Past winners Josef Newgarden (2016), James Hinchcliffe (2013), Marco Andretti (2011) and Tony Kanaan (2010) are also entered in the event.

• Andretti Autosport has won seven of the 10 previous races at Iowa Speedway, including six of the last seven races (Dario Franchitti 2007, Tony Kanaan 2010, Marco Andretti 2011, Ryan Hunter-Reay 2012, 2014 and 2015 and James Hinchcliffe 2013). Chip Ganassi Racing has two wins (Dan Wheldon 2008 and Franchitti 2009). Ed Carpenter Racing won the event last year with Josef Newgarden.

• Ryan Hunter-Reay and Dario Franchitti are the only drivers to win at Iowa Speedway and win the Verizon IndyCar Series championship in the same season. Hunter-Reay accomplished the feat in 2012 and Franchitti in 2007 and 2009.

• No driver has won the Verizon IndyCar Series race at Iowa Speedway from the pole.

• Four drivers have competed in every Verizon IndyCar Series race at Iowa: Marco Andretti, Helio Castroneves, Scott Dixon and Tony Kanaan. Sixteen drivers entered have led laps at the track (Kanaan 523, Castroneves 427, Josef Newgarden 393, James Hinchcliffe 245, Dixon 126, Andretti 87, Ryan Hunter-Reay 54, Will Power 34, Graham Rahal 19, Ed Carpenter 18, Simon Pagenaud 11, Charlie Kimball 7, Takuma Sato 7, JR Hildebrand 4, Alexander Rossi 4 and Max Chilton 2).

• Josef Newgarden has finished on the podium in the last three races at Iowa Speedway…Ryan Hunter-Reay finished on the podium in every Iowa Speedway race from 2012-2015…Tony Kanaan has finished on the podium in five of the last seven races at Iowa Speedway… Marco Andretti has finished on the podium in four of his 10 starts at Iowa Speedway…Dixon has started on pole three times (two earned) and has eight top-10 finishes at Iowa in 10 starts, but he has never finished better than third.

• Two rookies – Esteban Gutierrez and Ed Jones – are entered. Jones, who has raced at Iowa Speedway in Indy Lights, leads the Sunoco Rookie of the Year standings. Gutierrez will be making his first start on an oval.

• Tony Kanaan seeks to start his 276th consecutive race this weekend, which would extend his Indy car-record streak that began in June 2001 at Portland. Teammate Scott Dixon has made 217 consecutive starts heading into the weekend, which is the second-longest streak in Indy car racing.

• Helio Castroneves will attempt to make his 338th career Indy car start, which ranks third on the all-time list. Tony Kanaan will attempt to make his 337th Indy car start, which is fourth all-time. Both are competing in their 20th season of Indy car racing in 2017.

IOWA CORN 300 PRE-RACE QUOTES:

SIMON PAGENAUD (No. 1 Menards Team Penske Chevrolet): “I’m excited about Iowa. It’s one of my favorite short ovals. I’ve had some good success there. We’ll be wearing the Menards colors again which is awesome to have to have onboard in the Midwest where they have such a great presence. It’s a track where we should have a little advantage with our Chevy package and expect to strong there. We got the Verizon P1 Pole there last year and finished fourth. So, we’re definitely excited to go back and maybe finish a little higher this time.”

JOSEF NEWGARDEN (No. 2 Fitzgerald Glider Kits Team Penske Chevrolet, 2016 Iowa Corn 300 winner): “I’m really pumped for the race at Iowa. For starters, I won last year, which was huge for me and my career. Secondly, we’re racing again in the No. 2 Fitzgerald Glider Kits Chevy in which I won earlier this season in at Barber. And on top of that, we’re coming off a solid finish at Road America. We’ve been working on our oval program since Texas and have a lot of things we want to try out that we think will give us a really strong car. The whole team is really excited to head to that race and see what we can do.”

HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet): “Road America was a really great race for us, and the whole team is ready to head to Iowa. The No. 3 Hitachi Chevrolet team and I learned a few things at the other oval events that we think can apply to this track that we thing will bring us a really strong car. It’s one of those tracks that I’d like to get a win at and the competition is always good. Iowa fans are always a fun crowd so I’m ready to go back and see them.”

CONOR DALY (No. 4 ABC Supply AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet): “Iowa is both very physically and mentally demanding. I really enjoyed racing there back in the (Mazda) Road to Indy days and hope to have some success in an Indy car there as well. Short oval racing is always exciting, so we hope to come out of it with a lot of experience gained and a good finish.”

JAMES HINCHCLIFFE (No. 5 Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda): “We had a successful test at Iowa (last) week, so I’m looking forward to getting back on track for the race weekend. I’ve had some not so great results in the past couple of weeks, but I won in Iowa in 2013, so hopefully, we can come away with another win and turn around our luck for the rest of the season.”

MIKHAIL ALESHIN (No. 7 SMP Racing Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda): “It’s nice to be back at a small but really fast track. I like Iowa a lot because it’s very challenging to a race driver and to the team. What I like even more is that we’ve always been competitive and fast there. We finished in the top five there last year and had a decent qualifying, so I have pretty big expectations for this year. This team is very strong there and I think we should have a good weekend.”

MAX CHILTON (No. 8 Gallagher Honda): “I always think about Iowa and my first win here in Indy Lights. It’s a great track to race on and the speeds are quite high for such a small oval track. You really have to switch gears going from the biggest road course we run (Road America), to the smallest oval we run on, in back to back events. The Gallagher team is working hard for results and I’m looking forward to hitting the track this weekend.”

SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 NTT Data Honda, 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series points leader):“We just finished an advance media tour in Des Moines, Iowa last week and it’s always great to see the enthusiasm the media and fans have for Indy cars at Iowa Speedway. You have very high g-force loading and there is always a lot of action on this bullring-style track. You really have to be on your game with traffic and the quick lap times. The track has a lot more character having weathered in over the past few years and the bumps in Turns 1 and 2. I think we’re going to be in for a bit of an uphill battle as our overall package seems to be at a slight disadvantage on the short ovals like this track and likely Gateway.”

TONY KANAAN (No. 10 NTT Data Honda): “Road America was a difficult weekend for us, so I’m ready to get back on an oval and hopefully turn the second half of our season around. Iowa Speedway is such a fun track to race, even though it’s definitely one of the more challenging tracks we visit during the season with the high banking and heavy g-forces. I love it when we can put on a good show for the fans and the short oval in Iowa never disappoints.”

WILL POWER (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet): “I think Iowa is going to be a really fun race this year. Last year, Josef (Newgarden) had us all covered, so I definitely want to turn that around. With him now being on the team, and seeing how he performed there, I think it could but fun to battle again. The No. 12 Verizon Chevrolet team’s oval program is in a great place. We had an awesome car at Texas and we’ll have another one at Iowa, as well. The crowd is always excited there and the track is fun, so I’m happy to be going back there this weekend.”

CARLOS MUNOZ (No. 14 ABC Supply AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet): “Iowa Speedway has been a hard track for me, but I do like the corn there! I find it really challenging because it is a low grip level track and it is also bumpy. You have to think ahead – it’s fast and you have to think how you’re going to make a pass–think for 2 or 3 laps on how to do it before you actually do it. It’s a tough track to race. Recently we’ve made a lot of progress with the car setups because as a team we are understanding the car more. Hopefully we can continue that progress and get a good result.”

GRAHAM RAHAL (No. 15 GEHL Honda): “Iowa has been fairly good to me, results wise, in the past. The 2015 race was a huge race for us. We finished fourth even with the issues that we had. As we go into it this year, I think we should be looking pretty good. Hopefully we can get a good, stable, consistent car over the long run. It’s key for us to have a good result with where we are in the points now, and everything else considered. It’s crucial that we go there and have a really strong points weekend. We certainly cannot let ourselves down and not qualify towards the front and race there too. Iowa is difficult because it is so fast – it’s a little bullring. But it also has quite a lot of bumps, particularly over the tunnel in Turn 1. And Turns 3 and 4 now are pretty much solid bumps throughout. With these cars and how low we run them and how fast the cornering speeds are, it makes it extremely tricky for us and provides many, many opportunities for mistakes. Hopefully we can overcome that and have an issue-free, solid race. We’re 38 points out of second place and I believe we are going into some races that we can be very strong. Penske is always good on the bumps at Iowa but I fully anticipate that we will be one of the guys to beat throughout the remainder of the season. Hopefully we can get the job done starting this weekend in the GEHL Honda.”

ESTEBAN GUTIERREZ (No. 18 UNIFIN Honda): “It’s great to approach the race weekend having done some testing at the track. Obviously, it’s a completely new racing style for me. An oval seems very basic from the outside but it’s actually quite complex. I really enjoyed it at the test, and I’m very excited to do my first oval race at Iowa. It will definitely take some time for me to adapt, especially racing with other cars around. That will be an interesting experience. I’m looking forward to it. It was really fun to drive on the oval, I think it’s very nice how you can really feel every change, every movement in the car because you are on the limit for so long that you are able to feel everything from the car. It’s given me a lot more knowledge about the Indy car.”

ED JONES (No. 19 Boy Scouts of America Honda): “It was nice to have the chance to test at Iowa last week ahead of this weekend’s race. That said, I think it’s going to be difficult again for the Honda teams this weekend, like it was in Phoenix. It should be an interesting race. I think tire degradation is going to be a big factor and will play into the race. It should make for more racing and people making more mistakes. I look forward to it. It will be important to qualify well and try to stay up there. I have a good record on ovals, especially at Iowa in Indy Lights, so I hope to keep that going.”

ED CARPENTER (No. 20 Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevrolet): “I am always excited to race at Iowa Speedway and be a part of the Iowa Corn 300. It has been a track where I have always been comfortable and enjoyed racing. It is an important race for us as we won the race as a team last year and we hope to repeat that feat in front of our Fuzzy’s Vodka fans.”

JR HILDEBRAND (No. 21 Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevrolet): “I am really looking forward to getting back to Iowa Speedway where we expect to have a strong weekend. I’ve always enjoyed it there and feel like I have a pretty good handle on it, so I’m very ready to get on track and get to work with the Fuzzy’s Vodka 21 car guys.”

TAKUMA SATO (No. 26 Andretti Autosport Honda): “Iowa is one of the most challenging short ovals. It is such a short lap but high-banked, constant-cornering means almost no rest in the straights, so this could be one of the most physically demanding tracks, too. I personally have some great memories in Iowa including my first pole position, and I’ve always enjoyed this busy, tough race. We had a very productive test last week and the team has a strong history at Iowa, too. So, although it looks like quite a challenging weekend for us, I am looking forward to having a good weekend in Iowa.”

MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 27 Andretti Autosport Honda): “Road America didn’t go our way and was an unfortunate race result. It feels like we’re in a cycle of bad luck and circumstance, but we’ll work to rebound in Iowa. It’s a fun track where we have a strong history — it’s been good to me in the past and we’re hoping to see that Iowa victory lane again.”

RYAN HUNTER-REAY (No. 28 DHL Honda): “I’ve always loved racing at Iowa Speedway and I think our results show it. The No. 28 team has three wins at Iowa and we’re focused on getting number four for the DHL guys. Ever since the latest downforce rules package has been mandated, we have been struggling to keep up. Hopefully we can find some speed on race weekend to be at the front fighting for another win.”

CHARLIE KIMBALL (No. 83 Tresiba Honda): “Iowa Speedway is always challenging, both mentally and physically. But really it’s such a great track for the fans–being able to see the whole track from the grandstands makes it a really cool and unique stop on our circuit. The Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi Racing team has had a chance to recharge and we’re just ready to get after it this weekend.”

ALEXANDER ROSSI (No. 98 Andretti Autosport/Curb Honda): “Iowa was one of our best results last year and with the productive test we had last week, I feel good going into this weekend. This is one of my favorite tracks on the calendar, so I will be looking to put on a great show for the fans and hopefully get us to victory lane for the first time this year.”

 

RACE PREVIEW WRITTEN BY & A COURTESY OF INDYCAR COMMUNICATIONS

 

Northwestern’s game-winning Buzzer-Beater against Michigan a Top-Four Finalist for 2017 Espy Award

 

EVANSTON, Ill. – Northwestern’s buzzer-beating men’s basketball win over Michigan March 1 is one of four finalists for “Best Play” at the upcoming ESPYS.

 

The Wildcats’ dramatic game-winning play was one of 16 nominees for the award and has advanced through two rounds of voting to reach the finals.

 

With 1.7 seconds remaining in a tie game, Nathan Taphorn connected with Dererk Pardon on a length-of-the-court pass that Pardon finished with a layup to give Northwestern a thrilling 67-65 win. The victory all but clinched the school’s first NCAA tournament berth in program history.

 

The other three nominees are a catch by the New England Patriots’ Julian Edelman in the Super Bowl, a game-winning shot by South Carolina to defeat UConn in the Women’s Final Four and a pass from Aaron Rodgers to Jared Cook in the Green Bay Packers’ NFL playoff win over the Dallas Cowboys.

 

Fans can vote online for Northwestern to win the award at: http://bit.ly/ESPYFinal

 

The ESPYS are being held July 12 in Los Angeles and are being broadcast by ABC at 7 p.m. Central.

 

PRESS RELEASE WRITTEN BY Nick Brilowski; COURTESY NORTHWESTERN ATHLETICS COMMUNICATIONS

 

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