Categories
NASCAR Cup Series

Harvick Comes Within Two Corners of Victory

@KevinHarvick rolled off the grid fourth at the start of Cheez-It 355 at Watkins Glen International, and finished third after running out of fuel on the final lap.

At the time, Harvick was leading the field when the tank ran dry entering Turn 6.

“I thought I’d done a pretty good job of saving fuel under the caution. Really, I was just running as fast as I needed to, to protect the lead there as I was in front of the No. 20 (@MattKenseth),” he said. “Once the No. 22 (@JoeyLogano) got there, I had to pick up the pace just a little bit.”

Though disappointed, Harvick took solace in the fact his team nearly picked up their first win since Phoenix in March.

“All in all, our Budweiser/Jimmy John’s team did a great job today and we were in position to have a win, two corners away. But that’s just kind of how the middle of this season has gone,” Harvick said. “We’ve had really fast cars, but the circumstances have just gotten the best of us. Hopefully, we’re saving that up for the last 10 weeks.”

The Bakersfield, California native led 29 of 90 laps, which was the race high of the day. This marked his eighth top-10 finish, in 15 starts, at the racetrack.

Focusing ahead to the Chase, the 2014 Sprint Cup champion feels that he has a phenomenal pit crew. In 2015, he has grabbed two wins, 15 top-fives, 19 top-10s and one pole. Despite some challenging moments this season, fast cars and great pit stops have contributed to their competitiveness thus far.

“It tells me I have the best team on pit road. Our cars are faster than pretty much everybody else’s every week,” he said. “The circumstances have definitely bitten us quite a few times. But all in all, if you have the fastest car and you keep running in the top-five and leading laps, eventually you’re going to wear them down.”

Harvick currently leads the point standings, 42 points ahead of second-place Logano.

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Categories
XFINITY

Rhodes Finishes Seventh in XFINITY Debut

Cap & gown or firesuit?

@benrhodes chose the latter to make his debut in Sunday’s NASCAR XFINITY Series 3M 250, capturing a seventh place finish when the checkered flag waved at Iowa Speedway.

Prior to strapping in his No. 88 Alpha Energy Solutions Chevrolet and rolling off the grid 14th, Rhodes received his high school diploma during driver introductions at the track. When the green flag dropped, it didn’t take too long for the young driver to crack the top-10.

On Lap 15, he was running in the ninth position; however, Rhodes would fall between the top-15 and top-20 for most of the event beginning at lap 30. He also had to overcome a speeding penalty, while exiting the pits, just 60 laps into competition. Prior to the final restart, the Louisville, Kentucky native took four tires enabling him to drive from 12th to seventh where he would finish the race.

How did the 18-year-old rookie rate his day?

“I think it was a good day overall. I was learning a lot early on and as the race went on, I was able to get a little more aggressive in the Alpha Energy Solutions Chevy – maybe a little too aggressive at times as I hit the wall a little bit. I was trying to find as much grip as I could, changing my lines and moving around. We had a pretty decent setup today,” Rhodes said.

He felt that his car worked better on longer runs and that’s how he was able to stay in contention to grab his great finish. Additionally, Rhodes was able to make up ground on his competitors because of great restarts throughout the day.

“Our car worked well on longer runs as other cars slowed down; I think we were able to stay with them then. On the restarts was where we made up all of our ground. I was praying for restarts – every time there was a restart and I could be on the high side, or even the low side on that last restart, it worked out really well for us and we were able to pick up some spots,” he said.

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Categories
XFINITY

Jones Rallies For Third Place Finish at Iowa

Newton, Ia. – @erik_jones rolled off the grid in the pole position. However, he had to relinquish that spot and start at the rear of the field for the NASCAR XFINITY Series 3M 250 at Iowa Speedway.

@Drew_Herring practiced and qualified the No. 20 Interstate Batteries Toyota for the pole on Saturday afternoon. Jones competed in the North Carolina Education Lottery 200 on Friday night along with being on standby for @KyleBusch on Saturday at Charlotte Motor Speedway. As a result, he was unable to be at the racetrack to participate in any these scheduled events.

READ HERE: Drew Herring Grabs Pole At Iowa Speedway

The Byron, Michigan native was on the move early and found himself up to seventeenth by 15 laps into the race. On Lap 60, Jones cracked the top-ten and never looked back from that point. He crossed the start/finished line in the third position.

“Not a bad day overall, we had a good Interstate Batteries Camry but it wasn’t enough to run with the No. 60 (Chris Buescher) or No. 9 (Chase Elliott) under a green flag run especially. We gave ourselves a shot. We worked hard to get ourselves in a good position,” Jones said.

“It was a long day coming from the back. It really hinders your ability to adjust on the car like you want to. We spent most of the day trying to get the car where I wanted it – it was on the splinter most of the day but it ended alright and we’ll just get the car better for next time,” he continued.

How did Jones feel about the initial setup of the car was specific for Drew Herring?

“He did a really good job. You know it’s a pretty tough situation for him to be in and I’ve been in that position before. He did all he could, got it driving good for him and put it on the pole. You know obviously between drivers you have something different. In the day, it changed quite a bit. I believe it was a little bit faster yesterday but it slowed down quite a bit today,” he said.

“You know it needed a few adjustments to get where I wanted it to be but we got it pretty close to where I needed it to be. I wish I could have been here all weekend, really tuned on it and got it to driving how I wanted to. But Drew did a really good job as he always does,” Jones concluded.

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Categories
XFINITY

Drew Herring Grabs Pole At Iowa Speedway

Newton, Ia. – @Drew_Herring grabbed the pole for the NASCAR XFINITY 3M 250 at Iowa Speedway. He posted a speed of 134.391 with a time of 23.439 seconds. In 16 career series starts, this is his second pole. This also marks his first pole and top-10 start of 2015.

However, @erik_jones is slated to compete in tomorrow afternoon’s race; therefore, the No. 20 Interstate Batteries Toyota will have to start the event from the rear of the field. In his media center post-qualifying, Herring simply stated “I’ve done my part so the rest is up to Erik.”

@dnlsuarez (Daniel Suarez) qualified second posting his seventh top-10 start this season. Rounding out the top three was @bscottracing (Brian Scott) who posted his ninth top-10 start at the speedway.

Final Qualifying Order:

  1. Drew Herring (134.391)
  2. Daniel Suarez (134.351)
  3. Brian Scott (133.906)
  4. Chris Buescher (133.803)
  5. Brandon Jones (133.752)
  6. Chase Elliott (133.735)
  7. Regan Smith (133.678)
  8. Darrell Wallace Jr. (133.616)
  9. Ty Dillon (133.328)
  10. Elliott Sadler (133.271)
  11. Brendan Gaughan (133.102)
  12. Brennan Poole (132.794)
  13. Ryan Blaney (133.311)
  14. Ben Rhodes (132.766)
  15. Dakoda Armstrong (132.760)
  16. Ryan Reed (132.303)
  17. Ross Chastain (131.810)
  18. John Wes Townley (131.711)
  19. Jeremy Clements (131.584)
  20. David Starr (131.453)
  21. Ryan Sieg (131.381)
  22. Boris Said (131.349)
  23. Blake Koch (131.321)
  24. Cale Conley (131.305)
  25. Landon Cassill (130.149)
  26. JJ Yeley (129.774)
  27. Eric McClure (129.630)
  28. Harrison Rhodes (129.566)
  29. Todd Bodine (129.247)
  30. Jamie Dick (129.082)
  31. Joey Gase (128.982)
  32. Ryan Ellis (128.592)
  33. Peyton Sellers (127.810)
  34. Charles Lewandoski (Toyota Owner Points)
  35. BJ McLeod BYB (Chevrolet Owner Points)
  36. Derrike Cope (Chevrolet Owner Points)
  37. Mike Harmon (Dodge Owner Points)
  38. Carl Long Braille (Toyota Owner Points)
  39. John Jackson (Dodge Owner Points)
  40. Kenny Wallace (Owner Points)

The NASCAR XFINITY 3M 250 will be broadcast Sunday, May 16 on FOXSports1 at 2:00 p.m. ET.

Categories
Home Tracks

Kenzie Ruston Poised For A Trailblazing Career

Newton, Ia. – According to an old wise tail, every little girl wants to grow up and be a princess. Fast-forward to the present and you have little girls who want to grow up and become a trailblazing NASCAR racer.

Kenzie Ruston, driver of the No. 4 Rev Racing Toyota, is a prime example of this fact.

The Beginning

Her interest in racing was peaked after accompanying her grandfather to local dirt tracks where he competed weekly.

“I kinda’ grew up around racing. My grandpa raced dirt tracks in the Oklahoma City area and that’s how I would spend my summer nights. I just feel in love with it. I always wanted to race but never knew what direction I wanted to go,” Ruston shared.

Upon attending a NASCAR sanctioned event at Texas Motor Speedway, she and her father decided to rent a Bandolero for $50.00 and run 20 laps. “We kinda’ did that and I feel in love with it. It was a family fun thing at first and we got to bond. Growing up with the competitive spirit I have and playing every sport, I was trying to do the best at it. I took it very serious when I first started because it was something that I wanted to make into my career.”

At the age of 14, Ruston began her career competing in Bandolero cars and just one year later was crowned Spring Nationals champion at Texas Motor Speedway. She also finished fourth in national points.

Defining and Challenging Moment(s)

Despite what career path you chose, there are always defining and challenging moments which you will experience. What have been some of those moments for the 23-year-old?

“I think the most defining moment would be to just go out there and race. Being a female in a male dominated sport and being able to compete week in and week out after so many people told me that girls would never make it in this sport, win championships or win races and stuff like that,” she explained.

“I feel that what I strive for every day is to prove all those critics wrong and I guess I’m just as good or maybe even better than some of the guys. Being a female it has definitely been difficult and challenging but you just have to keep your head up. When somebody tells me I can’t do it, it gives me more fight to try and prove them wrong,” Ruston continued.

Drive For Diversity Program

The El Reno, OK native was selected to participate in the 2015 Drive For Diversity Program. Some of the drivers that have gone through this program and found success climbing the NASCAR ranks include @KyleLarsonRacin, @dnlsuarez (Daniel Suarez) and @BubbaWallace (Darrell Wallace Jr.) – just to name a few.

“Being a part of this program is just really phenomenal. You don’t normally get the opportunity to try out for a team and race for free. I think it’s really cool that Max Siegel, Rev Racing and NASCAR combined together to put this Drive For Diversity team together. It gives people an opportunity to race and try to bring diversity into NASCAR,” she said.

“I really want to get my first win. My best finish in K&N history is second and I feel that being teamed up with Rev Racing this year is the perfect opportunity to win a race.”

Ultimate Accomplishment

With every dream and goal, there is an ultimate accomplishment in mind. Kenzie Ruston shares what she feels would be the greatest career achievement for her. “I would call it success if I can win at every level – NASCAR K&N, Camping World Truck, XFINITY and Sprint Cup. I feel that would be a huge success because no woman has ever won at any of those four levels.

“I feel that if I can win at every level and am able to show people that girls do win here. It would be an example for young girls coming up behind me, paving the way for women and show them that we belong here,” Ruston concluded.

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Categories
XFINITY

Piece of Lead Goes Through Jamie Dick’s Windshield

Newton, Ia. – @JamieDickRacing, driver of the No. 55 Viva Auto Group Chevrolet, experienced an extremely scary moment during the first practice session for the NASCAR XFINITY Series 3M 250 at Iowa Speedway.

The driver’s helmet was struck by debris that flew off of @RossChastain’s No. 4 Team JD Motorsports Chevrolet and came through his windshield.

“It was a direct hit. Good thing I was wearing a helmet, that’s what it’s for. I feel fine. I could definitely feel it,” he said in an interview with The Des Moines Register. “All the spacers and lead started coming out. I dodged the spacers, but I didn’t dodge the lead.”

Chastain offered his sincerest apologies for the incident via Twitter:

This weekend marks Jamie Dick’s return to competition since being diagnosed with diabetes. He was checked and released from the track’s infield care center after the incident.

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Categories
NASCAR Cup Series

McMurray’s Strong Run in Richmond

@jamiemcmurray drove his No. 1 Energizer Chevrolet to a fourth-place finish when the checkered flag waved for the Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond International Raceway.

He rolled off the grid ninth for his 375-career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series start and looked to expand on his successfully competitive beginning to the 2015 season. In nine starts, he has grabbed two top-fives and four top-10s.

McMurray is extremely pleased with his team’s performance and admits that he was initially concerned with how things would turn out, especially with a new crew chief atop the pit box. It can take some time for a team to adjust to this type of change. However, the matchup seems to be working out better than anticipated.

“You know, last year I thought was probably my best year in Cup racing, even though we didn’t have the wins that we did in 2010. I thought consistently we were the best. When we did the crew chief change, I was a little bit nervous about what was going to happen,” he said.

“But Matt [McCall] has done an exceptional job. Honestly our cars are probably better this year than they were last year, and he’s done a really nice job of calling the races and giving me a really fun car to drive that’s fast,” McMurray continued.

The Joplin, MO native led two times for a total of four laps and maintained his track position inside the top-five for the final 180 laps of the race.

How does he feel about his chances of making it to the winner’s circle in the near future?

“You know, honestly, I look at every week like we’ll have a chance to win. The 4 and 41 are extremely quick, but I think we proved today that we have a team and a car capable of, put in the right position, to compete with those guys. I’m really happy with my team. The 42 ran well last week at Bristol. Our whole group is really strong right now.”

McMurray is currently sitting ninth in the driver’s standings, 93 behind points leader @KevinHarvick.

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Categories
NASCAR Cup Series

Chip Ganassi Racing Duo Finish In The Top-10

@jamiemcmurray made a valiant effort attempting to hold off eventual race winner @KevinHarvick on the final restart of the CampingWorld.com 500. He came up short one position, finishing second at Phoenix International Raceway while his teammate @KyleLarsonRacin crossed the start/finish line in the tenth position.

“Yeah, it was a really good day for our Cessna/McDonald’s Chevy. We ran fifth and eighth all day long. Matt McCall (crew chief) made a really good decision at the end to stay out and got us on the front row. That was a fun battle with Kevin (Harvick). Those are the kinds you wish you could do over again because I would have slid up earlier,” McMurray said.

“It’s similar to plate racing with the engine package we have now, where if you don’t get the guy cleared he can kind of stall you out a little bit. I saw Kevin coming and I thought I could slide up in front of him, but I also knew it was for the win and that we would probably have wrecked there. But it was a good team effort with great pit stops all day. Our team is as good or better than where we left off last year, and it’s a great feeling,” he continued.

The Joplin, MO native competed within the top ten throughout the entire 312-lap event while his teammate maintained track position within the top-12 all day. During the final practice, McMurray ran inside the top-five while Larson stayed inside the top-12. It was not surprising that both teams were competitive and had solid finishes when the checkered flag waved at the one-mile, low-banked tri-oval racetrack.

“It was a good day for everybody at Chip Ganassi Racing. Jamie (McMurray) did a great job to finish second there. I was pulling for him there at the end, but I was happy to get a top -10. Tenth to 12th is about where we should of ended up. Lost two spots there that last lap, but it was a hard fought day. Our car wasn’t the greatest, but we kept working on it and got it better and salvaged a pretty good finish,” Larson said.

McMurrray currently sits 19th in the driver’s standings while his teammate Larson ranks 17th.

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Categories
NASCAR Cup Series

Truex and Furniture Row Grab Second Consecutive Top-10

@MartinTruex_Jr rolled off the grid 14th for the start of the Folds of Honor Quiktrip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway. He drove his No. 78 Furniture Row Chevrolet to a sixth-place finish, marking his second consecutive top-10 for the 2015 season. The team grabbed an eighth-place finish in Daytona last week.

“It was a good day for us. Obviously a good weekend, in general. Felt like we had good speed all weekend long. The guys made good decisions. Everything has been going really smooth. It’s nice to start off the year with some momentum,” said Truex.

“Really thankful for all the hard work put in over the off-season to kind of turn this program around. Really happy with Cole Pearn [crew chief] running the ship. Have to thank Joe and everybody back in Denver for working hard in the off-season to get us where we needed to be,” he continued.

During the first 120 laps of the race, Truex ran inside the top-15 and the lowest he would drop to was 22nd just 20 circuits later. On Lap 160, the Mayetta, New Jersey native cracked the top-10 and never looked back.

In testing on Thursday and the two weekend practices, the No. 78 team struggled some with car handling especially on short runs.

“We were off a little bit in the test day on Thursday. Felt good about the car on the longer runs, which is where we were best today. Didn’t have that short-run speed. Little things here and there. Cole and our engineer Jazzy did a good job all weekend, made good decisions.”

“They tune on the car throughout the weekend. We constantly go it better each run. Today again we made some good gains through the race. At the end of the day, it was good work by all the guys. That is what we need to keep doing.”

Next week, Truex is heading to Las Vegas Motor Speedway where he has nine starts, two top-10s and led five laps. How does he feel about the current momentum carrying over into that race?

“This is just a good start to the year for us again so we can start building on this, start building some consistency. If we can run towards the front each and every week, we’ll put ourselves in position to win some races. That’s ultimately what we’re here for. Again, just credit to all the guys back in the shop, all the guys on the team,” he said.

He is currently sitting fifth in the driver’s standings, 13 points behind leader @joeylogano.

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Categories
NASCAR Cup Series

JTG Daughtery Racing Will Not Race in Sprint Unlimited

@AJDinger and JTG Daugherty Racing, who earned their first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series win and a berth in last year’s Chase, will not be competing in the 2015 Sprint Unlimited at Daytona International Speedway.

When the announcement was made during Champion’s Week about all 16 Chase competitors being eligible drivers to participate in the annual event, it was too late for the single-car team to secure sponsorship for this race.

“We had already budgeted for our 36 points paying races. There was not ample time for us to secure additional sponsorship and prepare for the race without compromising our Daytona 500 preparation,” said team co-owner Tad Geschickter in an interview with NASCAR.com.

The owners, driver and team are all focused on making this upcoming season more successful than the past one by being consistent in their on-track performance.

How does Allmendinger feel about the team’s progression and chances heading into the 2015 season?

“Just how much further we are ahead as a race team this year as compared to last year is going the biggest thing. So, I feel that if we go do the right things then we can go out there and make some noise and know that these first seven or eight races can really dictate our season. We will be ready to go,” he said.

One win, two top-fives and five top-10s played an important role in the No. 47 Chevrolet SS having the chance to compete in the newly formatted Chase this past season. Although they didn’t make it past the Challenger Round and finished 13th in the driver’s standings, a huge statement was made simply by their presence as a single-car operation.

“Our hope is that we win more than one race. I think that 15 top-10s would be a good goal, and we would love to get through that Challenger to Contender Round this year. I mean we came within a point of doing it last year. I felt that we beat ourselves a little bit there,” Geschickter said.

He also expressed how vital the team’s alliance with Richard Childress Racing would be one of the keys to their success. “We got another year under our belt with the Childress relationship and we are just getting better at how we are using that data. So, I don’t see why we can’t improve on last year.”

Consistency is the theme that is being expressed pre-season and crew chief Brian Burns drove that point home during the NASCAR Media Tour.

“Definitely want to make the Chase again. I would like to say that even if we win a race, I would like to know that we would’ve made the Chase just based on points as well. So, consistency is going to be our big focus,” Burns said.

“Hopefully, we go and we win the road courses. We are going to be strong at a lot of other tracks that we weren’t as strong at last year. Just to know that every weekend we can run up there five spots better than we did last year and be consistent is what we are targeting,” he concluded.

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