Pitting Outside The Box With Cole Custer

Cole Custer

During the stand alone Camping World Truck Series races at Las Vegas recently, I was able to get together with the 18 year old young gun who pilots the JR Motorsports Haas CNC No. 00 Silverado, Cole Custer.  For those race fans who may not be totally familiar with Cole and  his resume, you may want to check out an earlier interview that I conducted with him back in January, before the season started in Daytona.

After the two morning practice sessions at Las Vegas Motor Speedway I found Cole Custer in the Truck garage area.  After he finished debriefing with his crew chief he wandered across the way to his hauler, and that is where we met to talk about his 2016 season.  Once we exhanged pleasantries we walked into his hauler, a place that was cooler and more quiet than the hussle and bussle of the CWTS garages.

Working On My Redneck:  Cole, now that the season is more than 2/3 over, and your team did not make the CWTS Chase, what would it take, in your mind, for 2016 to be a good year?

Cole Custer:  Well, as long as we have fast trucks each week, and I think if we keep progressing,  getting beter, that would be successful.  We have definitely been running good the last few races.  We just started out this season too slow!  If we keep getting better and better each race, that would be great.

WOMR:  Since this was your first look at Las Vegas, what is your view of this race track?  How do you like this place?

CC:  In both practice sessions we have been really good, so I really like it so far.  It is a really fast place and it has a little bit of character to it.  So it will be a little bit of a fun race.

WOMR:  Now that you have spent a couple of hours in practice on this track, does it give you a huge sense of speed?

CC:  Yes it does!  You are definitely moving pretty fast.  It is a fun place!

WOMR:  Cole,  of all the tracks that you raced at this year, which race track do you get the biggest sense of speed?

CC:  I don’t know, I couldn’t tell you!  (He answered this question with a teenager kind of giggle!)

WOMR:  Now that the announcement has been made that you will be driving the Stewart-Haas Racing No.00 CNC Ford Mustang in the Xfinity Series in 2017, does SHR have any plans to field a car for you to race in the NXS before the end of 2016?

CC:  Well, we have already run three races in the Xfinity Series with JR Motorsports, and we have had some pretty solid runs so far, we have two more races with them at Charlotte and Homestead. (Editor’s note: Custer’s attempt at Charlotte was rained out so the team entered him at Dover).

WOMR:  Cole, do you have a mentor or mentors this season, someone that you have been able to lean on for information?

CC:  There have been a lot of people that I have asked advice from.  I have asked Matt Crafton for advice and some of the Cup drivers, like Kevin Harvick or some of the other guys.  There are a lot of Cup drivers that I have asked for advice because I feel that they know what they are doing and talking about.  There are a number of people who you can ask questions, so there are a number of people that I think are mentors.

WOMR:  Is there any one particular person that you have leaned on more than the others?

 CC:  I don’t think so, not really.

WOMR:  What has been the best piece of advice that anyone that you look up to has given you?

CC:  Well Matt (Crafton) has been really helpful on like how to get around some of the tracks and what to expect  on your first lap at that track.  Then there are people like Kevin Harvick who has given me advice on how to deal with situations and also how to get around certain race tracks.  Both guys have been equally good.

WOMR:  Cole, I have to ask you about the end of the race at the Canadian Tire Motorsports Park in which you and John Hunter Nemechek were dueling for the win.  What is your take on what happened on the last lap, in particulr the last couple of turns of the race?

CC:  (There was a long pause before he gave his answer)  I don’t think that is right when you move people out of the way.  When you hit people four times, that does not show much respect or anything.  It is what it is.  It is what NASCAR wants, I guess.

WOMR:  So Did NASCAR call you both in to the NASCAR hauler to talk?

CC:  They (NASCAR) talked to us, but nothing very productive came out of that.

Even though Cole Custer and his JR Motorsports CNC Haas Automation Silverado No.00 did not make the CWTS chase this year, do not count this young gun out when it comes to hoisting the hardware above his head in a few of the remaining Truck races this season.  Additionally, look for him to be among the elite group of winners next year as he moves up in the brand new Stewart-Haas Racing Haas Automation No. 00 Ford Mustang XFINITY team!

This 18 year old California native has all the necessary tools to become a star in  NASCAR, intensity, focus, a willingness to learn, and most importantly, talent. Keep your eyes on this teenager because there is no doubt you will see him in Victory Lane a few more times this year, as well as Saturday afternoons in 2017.


Cody Coughlin Attacks Talladega

Cody Coughlin

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series

Fred’s 250

No. 51 JEGS.com Toyota Tundra
News and Notes

The Race
Cody Coughlin’s 11th career NASCAR Camping World Truck Series start comes at NASCAR’s biggest and fastest track: Talladega Superspeedway.  The race is Coughlin’s ninth of the season with Kyle Busch Motorsports.
The Race Truck
Cody Coughlin and the No. 51 JEGS.com Kyle Busch Motorsports team will pilot chassis No. KBM-026.  Coughlin has yet to race this chassis. KBM-026’s last race came at Daytona International Speedway this past February. It is a superspeedway-specific chassis as its three starts have only come at Daytona and Talladega.
The Pink Numbers
Cody Coughlin will be sporting pink numbers on his No. 51 JEGS.com Toyota Tundra to raise awareness for breast cancer.  October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Coughlin’s sponsor, JEGS, is a strong supporter of Breast Cancer Awareness Month through the JEGS Foundation where their motto is, “Racing for Cancer Research.”
The JEGS Foundation “Racing for Cancer Research” is honored to be affiliated with one of only 39 nationally-designated Comprehensive Cancer Centers, The Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute at The Ohio State University in Columbus.
The Race Track
Talladega Superspeedway, formerly known as Alabama International Motor Speedway, is a motorsports complex located north of Talladega, Alabama. It is located on the former Anniston Air Force Base in the small city of Lincoln. The track is 2.66-miles long and has 33 degrees of banking in the corners.
The Crew Chief
Kevin “Bono” Manion will be calling the shots atop the pit box for Coughlin.  It will be the seventh race for Coughlin and Manion as a team. Manion is an accomplished crew chief with a Daytona 500 championship on his resume.  Manion and Jamie McMurray won the 500 together in 2009.
“Talladega is unpredictable, so I’m just hoping that we can survive out there and we’ll be there at the end.  Cody is usually pretty calm and level-headed, which is good because he’ll need to be that way in the draft. I’m excited for Saturday. I know we’ll have a fast Tundra. We just need to be there at the end and we’ll see what happens.”
The History Making Championships
Cody Coughlin made history this year by becoming the first driver to win the ARCA/CRA Super Series (Super Late Model) championship and JEGS/CRA All-Stars Tour (Pro Late Model) championship in the same season. Coughlin ended the season with four ARCA/CRA Super Series Super Late Model wins (Toledo, Baer Field, Anderson and Winchester Speedway) and two wins in the JEGS/CRA All-Stars Tour at Salem Speedway and Anderson Speedway for a total of six wins in 2016. The JEGS/CRA All-Stars Tour title was the second of his career. He won the championship in that series in 2013 as well.
Cody Coughlin: Through the Years
Made first NCWTS start at Daytona International Speedway for Kyle Busch Motorsports.
Won ARCA/CRA Super Series race at Toledo Speedway in April.
Won ARCA/CRA Super Series race at Anderson Speedway in May.
Won ARCA/CRA Super Series race at Baer Field Motorsports Park in May.
Won JEGS/CRA All-Stars Tour race at Salem Speedway in June.
Won JEGS/CRA All-Stars Tour race at Anderson Speedway in July.
Won ARCA/CRA Super Series race at Winchester Speedway in September.
Won ARCA/CRA Super Series Championship.
Won JEGS/CRA All-Stars Tour Championship.
Made first NASCAR Camping World Truck Series start at Kentucky in July.
Made six ARCA Racing Series starts, capturing two poles (Talladega, Chicagoland), two top-fives, three top 10’s, and led a total of 28 laps.
Coughlin finished sixth on the road course at New Jersey Motorsports Park in an ARCA Racing Series event in June.
He ran eight ARCA/CRA Super Series Super Late Model races, with a best finish of second coming at the prestigious Winchester 400 in October.
Made 11 ARCA Racing Series starts, scoring three top five finishes, and eight top-10 finishes.
He had a best finish of fourth, twice, at Kentucky Speed and Kansas Speedway.
He had a streak of three-straight top-10 finishes twice.
Won the Winchester 100 ARCA/CRA Super Series race at Winchester Speedway.
Scored three top-fives and four top-10 finishes in four ARCA/CRA Super Series races.
2011 – 2013
Won the 2013 JEGS/CRA All-Stars Tour championship.
Scored two victories in JEGS/CRA All-Stars Tour competition (Dixie Speedway, Salem Speedway) in 2013
Scored seven top fives and nine top-10’s and two poles in addition to the two victories in JEGS/CRA All-Stars Tour competition in 2013
Won the 2011 Howe Lettow Memorial Rookie of the Year Award for the JEGS / CRA All-Stars Tour.
Get Social
Cody Coughlin on Twitter:                              @Cody_Coughlin
Team JEGS on Twitter:                                   @TeamJEGS
Team JEGS on Instagram:                              @JEGSPerformance
Kyle Busch Motorsports on Twitter:   @KBMTeam
Cody Coughlin Website:
Cody Coughlin.com

Circle Sport-Leavine Family Racing Challenge Roush Fenway Racing To A Cook-Off

Michael McDowell

Circle Sport – Leavine Family Racing (CSLFR) and Roush Fenway Racing (RFR) are excited to challenge each other at Talladega Superspeedway in the first ever “Great Pit-Master Challenge,” where CSLFR’s hauler driver and chef, JR Hollar will face-off against Roush Fenway Racing’s chef Eloy Trevino in a barbecue cook-off.

Hollar and Trevino will be preparing barbecued meats of their choice at the superspeedway while representing their respective teams in the competition. Celebrity guest judges will be onsite to help decide who the ultimate “Pit-Master” is in the NSCS garage.

JR Hollar, CSLFR’s hauler driver and master chef, hails from Manassas, VA, where he grew up going to races with his father and driving late model stock cars. Hollar has been a NSCS hauler driver for twelve years and cooking for five of them.

“I want to bring home that trophy!” continued Hollar. “I won’t give away all my secrets, but I’ll just say that most of what I am making will be smoked with apple and hickory flavors. I will be making a special sauce that I will have bottled, and that will be on one of the food items – it will be ‘peachy’!”

Both cooks are planning to bring their A-Game to Talladega Superspeedway, as the winner of the “Great Pit-Master Challenge” will take home a 1st place trophy along with bragging rights inside the NSCS garage.

Eloy Trevino grew up in Adrian, Michigan not too far from Michigan International Speedway which is where his passion of racing all began. Trevino has been driving a hauler for the past ten years.

“We will let the judges decide on who cooks the best,” Trevino said. “I don’t like to give away my secrets but believe me it won’t disappoint. I look forward to bringing that trophy back to the Roush Fenway Racing campus.”

The “Great Pit-Master Challenge” will take place on Sunday, October 23 at 11:30 AM CT in the NSCS garage area. The Alabama 500 will begin at 1:15 PM CT proceeding the cook-off. Race fans can follow @CSLFR @roushfenway on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram for live cook-off updates.


Ryan Reed Signs A Multi-Year Renewal Agreement With Roush-Fenway Racing

Ryan Reed
Roush Fenway Racing has signed a multi-year renewal agreement for driver Ryan Reed to continue to pilot the No. 16 Lilly Diabetes Ford Mustang in the NASCAR XFINITY Series. Reed, who five years ago was told he would never race again after being diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, qualified for the 2016 inaugural XFINITY Series Chase and scored his first victory in the series last season at Daytona.

“We are very excited to continue our program with Lilly Diabetes,” said Reed, who will make his NASCAR Sprint Cup Series debut this weekend at Talladega Superspeedway. “Not only to continue to drive the No. 16, but more importantly, the opportunity to encourage and educate people who are living with diabetes and those who care for them.  We will continue to share the message about diabetes awareness, specifically the importance of talking to doctors as well as proper nutrition and daily exercise.”

Reed will look to make history this weekend as the only driver actively managing his diabetes to race at the Sprint Cup level. The Bakersfield, Calif., native manages his diabetes through a strict diet and exercise program, the use of a wireless glucose monitoring device to provide in-race, real-time data, and consistent communication with his medical team in California.

“Through sharing his diabetes story with NASCAR fans throughout the country over the past three years, Ryan has inspired thousands of people affected by diabetes to live healthier lives and take an active role in managing their health.  Lilly Diabetes is proud to renew our sponsorship so together we can continue to make a difference in people’s lives,” said Mike Mason, vice president, U.S., Lilly Diabetes.

“Like NASCAR, Lilly has been an American institution for generations. We introduced the world’s first commercialized insulin in 1923, and our innovative medicines and education programs have helped people with diabetes ever since. This sponsorship is another step forward in our drive to help more people who have the disease or care for someone who does.”

Reed posted career highs in Chase races at Kentucky and Dover to advance to the ‘Round of 8’ in the NASCAR XFINITY Series Chase at Charlotte. He is currently only two points outside of the top four, with two races remaining before the series champion is decided in the season finale at Homestead.

Roush Fenway Racing is the winningest team in NASCAR history, fielding multiple teams in NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and NASCAR XFINITY Series competition with drivers Greg Biffle, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Trevor Bayne, Ryan Reed, Chris Buescher and Bubba Wallace. Now in its 29th season, Roush Fenway is a leader in driver development, having launched the careers for many of the top drivers in the sport. Off-track, Roush Fenway is a leader in NASCAR marketing solutions, pioneering motorsport’s first team-focused TV show and producing multiple award-winning digital and experiential marketing campaigns. Roush Fenway is co-owned by Jack Roush, the winningest team owner in NASCAR history and Fenway Sports Group, parent company of Major League Baseball’s Boston Red Sox and English Premier League’s Liverpool F.C. Visit RoushFenway.com, circle on Google+, become a fan on Facebook and Instagram and follow on Twitter at @roushfenway.

About Lilly Diabetes

Lilly has been a global leader in diabetes care since 1923, when we introduced the world’s first commercial insulin. Today we are building upon this heritage by working to meet the diverse needs of people with diabetes and those who care for them. Through research and collaboration, a wide range of therapies and a continued determination to provide real solutions—from medicines to support programs and more—we strive to make life better for all those affected by diabetes around the world. For more information, visit www.lillydiabetes.com or follow us on Twitter: @LillyDiabetes.


It Appears That Casey Mears Will Be Out Of Germain Racing And Ty Dillon May Be In For 2017

Casey Mears

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Casey Mears says he and the Germain Racing No. 13 team are concentrating their efforts only on the remaining five races of 2016 and can’t speak about next year.

“Not at the moment,” Mears said Friday at Talladega Superspeedway. “Right now we’re just focused on what we talked about at the beginning of the season. Focus on the remainder of this year first and foremost.”

Mears, 38, has one victory in 483 career starts at NASCAR’s top level, capturing the 2007 Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. He has a best points finish of 14th in 2006.

Rumors have Germain opting to replace Mears next season, possibly with NASCAR XFINITY Series driver Ty Dillon. Dillon’s Richard Childress Racing organization has a technical alliance with Germain.

Geico, the No. 13 team’s primary sponsor, is signed through 2018. In many cases, sponsor and driver contracts run concurrently.

“As I know more, we can talk about it,” Mears said. “But right now we’re just focused on getting through this weekend.”

The above quote from Mears would indicate that he is out of the driver’s seat at the end of this season and someone else, namely Ty Dillon, will be behind the steering wheel beginning at Daytona 2017!

Remember back when Richard Childress announced that Daniel Hemric was being added to his XFINITY stable of drivers for 2017, there was a couple of important things that Childress mentioned, as well as some thing that he failed to mention! Childress mentioned that in addition to having Daniel Hemric to his NXS stable of drivers, he also stated that Ty Dillon will race “most of the NXS” races in 2017- not all of the races.  That would indcate that if Dillon is not racing all of the NSX races, that he would be driving in the Sprint Cup Series full time with some team, and driving some of the NXS races for RCR.

It now becomes apparent that my speculation that Ty would be driving for Germaine Racing has come full circle and will be announced soon!


Donny Schatz Closes In On His Eighth World of Outlaws Championship

Image result for donny schatz

The long road to a World of Outlaws (WoO) Craftsman Sprint Car Series championship begins in February and will conclude next week with the Bad Boy Off Road World Finals in Charlotte, North Carolina. That road makes one final stop this weekend in Middle America, where Tony Stewart-Curb Agajanian Racing (TSR) driver Donny Schatz and the Bad Boy Off Road/Chevrolet Performance team look to all but clinch the 2016 championship.

Schatz, driver of the TSR No. 15 Bad Boy Off Road/Chevrolet Performance J&J, leads the traveling Sprint car stars into action with a 308- point lead in the championship with only four nights of racing remaining. The seven-time and reigning WoO champion will try to make it two consecutive victories Friday night at Lakeside Speedway in Kansas City, Kansas, then will look to add the Salina (Okla.) Highbanks to the list of 80 different tracks where he’s registered a WoO A-Feature triumph during his 20-year career with “The Greatest Show on Dirt.”It’s been another historic season for Schatz and his TSR 15 team. Through 80 Races, they lead the series with 24 victories, 40 podium finishes, 58 top-fives, 73 top-10s, 10 KSE Hard Charger Awards and 494 laps led. And, no matter what the outcomes are this weekend, by simply signing in to compete at the final four event, he’ll be crowned champion.

Friday’s O’Reilly Auto Parts Rumble on the River will be the 10th appearance for Schatz with the Outlaws at Lakeside. He’s had mixed results in his first eight races at half-mile dirt oval. Schatz debuted at the track in 2001 and finished 10th. In June 2003, he finished third and, when the Outlaws returned seven years later in 2010, he finished fifth. The Fargo, North Dakota racer has competed at the track each season since finishing sixth, 10th, ninth and 11th before last year’s performance. Schatz was coming off a 10th-to-first victory at Beaver Dam (Wis.) Raceway four nights earlier and found himself starting 10thin the 30-lap A-Feature. He was on the move from the start and ultimately worked his way into second. A restart on lap 28 opened the door and Schatz seized the opportunity. He overtook race-leader Joey Saldana and led the final laps to score his first career win at Lakeside.

The stat line from the Salina Highbanks is similar to Lakeside, minus the victory. His best result came the first time he circled the high- banked, 3/8-mile dirt oval. It was in April 2012 when Schatz stormed from 18th to second and nearly caught eventual winner Craig Dollansky in the 30-lap A-Feature. The last three seasons, Schatz has finished 13th, ninth and 10th, respectively, at the northeast Oklahoma facility. Schatz has one career WoO A-Feature victory in the Sooner State. The win was his 15th career WoO A-Feature triumph and came at the Oklahoma State Fairgrounds Speedway in Oklahoma City in March 2003.

The Bad Boy Off Road/Chevrolet Performance team of Schatz and his crew Rick Warner, Steve Swenson and Brad Mariscotti are coming off a pair of top-four finishes in Pennsylvania last weekend. Last Friday, Schatz finished fourth in the 54th annual Williams Grove National Open at Williams Grove Speedway in Mechanicsburg and, Saturday night, he raced to a third-place finish at Port Royal Speedway. It pushed his streak of consecutive top-four finishes to six and top-seven runs to nine in a row.

The races at Lakeside and Salina will be the final two with Schatz piloting a special pink-schemed TSR No. 15 Bad Boy Off Road/Chevrolet Performance J&J. For the second consecutive season, Schatz and TSR are supporting Chevrolet’s Pink Initiative by incorporating the official color for breast cancer awareness and the fight against cancer on the car. Anyone interested in donating to Chevrolet’s 2016 Pink Initiative is encouraged to visit www.cancer.org/chevroletmsabc and follow the interactive steps to contribute. The team is encouraging fans to join the cause and spread awareness through social media with images of the car and Schatz using the hashtag #ThinkPink.

For Friday’s race at Lakeside, the pit gates will open at 2 p.m. CDT and the grandstands open at 4 p.m.Hot laps are scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. More details are available by calling at (913) 299-9206, or by visiting lakesidespeedway.net.

Saturday at the Salina Highbanks, the pit gates and grandstands will open at 2 p.m. CDT and the grandstands open at 4 p.m. More details are available by calling at 815-344-2023, or by visiting salinahighbanksspeedway.com.

Race fans unable to attend this weekend’s races can catch all of the action on DIRTVision.com. Fans can listen live as Johnny Gibson, “Voice of the Outlaws,” calls the action as he does at all WoO Sprint Series events on the DIRTVision.com cybercast, as well as on the DIRT Radio Network. Go to www.DIRTVision.com for more information on all the site features, including updated results from each night of racing, as well as a chat room to interact with other race fans.

The TSR Bad Boy Off Road/Chevrolet Performance team can be followed on Twitter at www.twitter.com/TonyStewart_Rcg, liked on Facebook at www.facebook.com/TonyStewartRacing, and followed on Instgram @TonyStewart_Rcg.

Donny Schatz, Driver of the No. 15 TSR Bad Boy Off Road/Chevrolet Performance J&J:
With only two weekends remaining and the championship nearly locked up, does the strategy change?

“It really doesn’t change. Yes, we all know the season is almost over and there is a sense of urgency to get a couple more wins around here. That’s the only way you can reach what I called ‘Champion’s Status’ last week after finishing third. We wanted to be better than a fourth- or third-place car last weekend and the goal is to do that this weekend. I know my guys worked hard all week so we could be a little better. It’s just the mentality we have adopted at TSR. You have to continue to improve. We want to get better every night and definitely want to get better at places where we have struggled. I know last year was the best I ever felt at Lakeside and we were fortunate to get the victory. The key is to be in a position to do that again. After that, we’ll head to Salina and see if we can solve that place. I know I’m surrounded by extremely competitive guys and they’d like nothing more than to get a couple wins this weekend and head to Charlotte on a roll.”


Todd Gilliland Clinched The NASCAR K&N West Championship

Todd Gilliland

Todd Gilliland started the season with a historic winning streak. Wrapping the season up Saturday night, an eighth-place finish was more than enough for the teenager to add to the record books!

The 16-year-old from Sherrills Ford, North Carolina, clinched the 2016 NASCAR K&N Pro Series West championship with his 13th top 10 in 14 races. Ryan Partridge outlasted defending series champion Chris Eggleston and NASCAR Next driver Julia Landauer in a green-white-checkered finish to the Toyota/NAPA Auto Parts 150 presented by TriCo Welding Supplies at All American Speedway.

Partridge’s third win of the season in the No. 9 Sunrise Ford/Eibach Springs/Lucas Oil Ford wasn’t enough to catch Gilliland, who won the crown by 13 points over the veteran driver from Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.

In the process, Gilliland became the youngest champion in the history of the NASCAR national or touring series at 16 years, 5 months.

Gilliland breaks the record set last month when Cayden Lapcevich won the NASCAR Pinty’s Series championship in Canada at 16 years, 10 months, 16 days. They both eclipsed the previous mark by 2015 Daytona 500 winner Joey Logano (Logano was 17 years, 3 months, 28 days when he won the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East title in 2007).

It was just the latest NASCAR historic mark Gilliland matched or eclipsed in his first full season.

Gilliland’s six victories matched the win total posted by Greg Pursley (2011), Brendan Gaughan (2001) and Doug George (1995) as the most in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West since Jimmy Insolo won nine in 1978.

Gilliland joins Scott Lynch (2003) and Lance Hooper (1996) as the only drivers to win both the Sunoco Rookie of the Year title and the championship in the same year.

The NASCAR Next driver’s championship title also marks the second consecutive title for owner, Bill McAnally. It’s also Bill McAnally Racing’s seventh NASCAR K&N Pro West championship, as Gilliland joined Eric Holmes (2 titles), Brendan Gaughan (2), Sean Woodside (1) and Eggleston (1) as NASCAR K&N Pro West champions for BMR.

Gilliland lost the championship points lead to Partridge halfway through the season after being caught up in a first-lap wreck at Sonoma Raceway and finishing 24th. But he reeled off three straight wins to take the top spot back and he never relinquished it down the stretch.

Partridge was fastest in both practices Saturday morning at All American, and started on the front row after rain washed out qualifying. He dominated the evening’s race, which was delayed several hours because of the weather.
Noah Gragson finished fourth and Nicole Behar fifth.

Cole Rouse, Cole Moore, Gilliland, Blaine Perkins and Dan Phillippi completed the top 10.

Gilliland opened the season with a win at Florida’s New Smyrna Speedway in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East. His seven total wins surpasses the mark set by NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Joey Logano (2007) and Dylan Kwasniewski (2014) of six NASCAR K&N Pro Series wins in a season since the East and West went to a unified rulebook in 2003. Gilliland started his winning ways in the 2015 K&N Pro Series West finale at Phoenix International Raceway, and in winning his first four career NASCAR K&N Pro Series starts, he matched the record set by International Motorsports Hall of Famer Dan Gurney. Gurney won the first four NASCAR Pacific Coast Late Model Series races he entered. The Pacific Coast Late Model, which began in 1954, has evolved into the current NASCAR K&N Pro Series West.

And Gilliland joined his grandfather as a NASCAR champion. Butch Gilliland won the 1997 West crown, while Todd’s father David had his best series points finish of third in 2009.


Can Tony Stewart Work The Draft For His Final Restrictor Plate Race?

Tony Stewart

Tony Stewart might not be the biggest fan of restrictor-plate racing in NASCAR, but there are few drivers like Stewart who can say they’ve led almost 1,000 laps or logged more than 30,000 miles in their careers on the 200-mph, high-banked tracks at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway and Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway.

In Sunday’s Alabama 500 at the 2.66-mile Talladega track, the three-time champion will drive the No. 14 Rush Truck Centers/Mobil 1 Delvac Chevrolet in the 70th and final superspeedway restrictor-plate start of his 18-year NASCAR Sprint Cup Series career.

Out of championship contention with only five races left in his final season Stewart and his No. 14 Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) crew will hold nothing back in their bid to get Stewart his 50th career victory, as well as secure a 13th-place finish in the 2016 standings.

“I still wish we were in the middle of the Chase but, since we aren’t, I guess the most positive thing is to go have fun these last five weeks and do everything we can to win a race, or as many as we can, before it’s over,” Stewart said. “We have everything to gain and nothing to lose.”

He enters the weekend after a 16th-place finish Sunday at Kansas Speedway. He’s winding down an impressive final season posting five top-five and eight top-10 finishes in 23 races after missing the first eight events recovering from an off-road vehicle accident in January. Stewart also earned his 49th-career victory with a dramatic last-lap pass at Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway in June.

Big gains or big losses are synonymous with restrictor-plate racing, which gets its name from the NASCAR-mandated “restrictor plates” in the engines to cap speeds. But a byproduct of “plate racing” is that the cars stay bunched in packs, often spawning multicar accidents.

Twice Stewart has enjoyed the spoils of success at Talladega, both times in 2008. The first came in the NASCAR Xfinity Series in April, when he won from the pole, leading five times for a race-high 81 laps in the 117-lap race. The second came in the Sprint Cup Series in October, when he outdueled Regan Smith for the win in a green-white-checkered finish.

Stewart has his own restrictor-plate strategy. More often than not, he has successfully worked the draft, flying under the proverbial radar and stalking the pace from behind the pack before ultimately positioning himself well for a win amid the almost inevitable last-lap chaos.

For his efforts, Stewart has scored six second-place finishes at Talladega, tying him with Buddy Baker for the most runner-up finishes at the track. Additionally, Stewart has nine top-five finishes, 14 top-10s and 328 laps led. He’s completed all but 182 of the 6,446 laps that have been run in his 34 Talladega starts since 1999 for a lap-completion rate of 97.2 percent. On the flip side, Stewart has a total of eight DNFs (Did Not Finish) at the track – six of which occurred in the closing laps.

Although there are plenty of restrictor-plate races that have gone sideways for Stewart, he’s also had his fair share go according to plan, especially when combining his results from Talladega’s sister track in Daytona, where Stewart has four points-paying Sprint Cup wins in the Coke Zero 400 at Daytona, three wins in the Budweiser Duel qualifying race, three victories in the non-points Sprint Unlimited, two IROC Series wins and, most recently in February 2013, he scored a record-tying seventh Xfinity Series victory, joining the late Dale Earnhardt.

Going into his final Sprint Cup restrictor-plate race, Stewart owns five wins, 18 top-fives and 28 top-10s on NASCAR’s current restrictor-plate tracks. He’s led 997 laps and logged 30,257.2 miles. He’d like to add to those numbers Sunday when the future Hall of Famer makes his final plate race start.

TONY STEWART, Driver of the No. 14 Rush Truck Centers/Mobil 1 Delvac Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing:
Has restrictor-plate racing changed in your career?

“What I remember about 1999 is the bumpers didn’t really line up really well. If you bumped into a guy, you had to be really careful about how you did it. Now, guys are just slamming into each other. It doesn’t matter if the bumpers line up. It’s like bumper cars at 198 mph in the race. The dynamic of it has changed quite a bit of how we do things and how you run there. I preach about it all the time, but blocking is now standard on a restrictor-plate track and I have never liked it. It’s what you have to do now. Everybody has to do it. You can’t blame somebody who blocks now. They are doing what they have to do to protect themselves. It’s just part of the game.”

What’s the difference between Talladega and Daytona?

“Talladega is wider and over a 10th-of-a-mile longer. We talk about Talladega and Daytona being a chess match, but Talladega truly is a chess match. You always had somewhere you can go. Four-wide is not uncommon there. It was nerve-wracking, but not uncommon. Three-wide at Daytona is pretty much what you are going to get at Daytona. Talladega is where I learned my style and what my concept of racing at restrictor-plate tracks were like. It was the first time having a teammate. What Bobby (Labonte) liked to do and what I liked to do at restrictor-plate tracks were different – where we thought we needed to be, when we needed to move, when we needed to pull out of line. But, Bobby said, ‘Listen, it’s all right if you have a different approach. You have to do what’s right for you and I have to do what I think is right.’ There weren’t a lot of times Bobby and I were able to hook up at the end of the race and go. But, we had a pretty good run there.”

How would you rate yourself as a restrictor-plate racer?

“Well, I’m not any happier about it than I’ve always been, but we’ve had a lot of success at restrictor-plate tracks. We’ve run in the top-two at Talladega a gazillion times. I’m glad we’re halfway decent at it, but it’s still always frustrating when you have to rely on what everybody else does. It’s not what you do. It’s what you do along with somebody else who decides that they’re going to follow you and help you. That’s the part that frustrates you as a driver.”

It seems that luck plays as much of a factor at Talladega and Daytona as everything else. Why is that?

“Someone described racing on the superspeedways as being a combination of a science project and the luck of a casino, and it’s exactly that way. You do everything in your power to take care of the science or technology side. You do everything you can to build the fastest car. If you don’t have the luck to go with it – even if you don’t have any drama with getting the car touched, nothing happens to the car – if you’re just in the wrong spot at the wrong time, it can take you out of the opportunity to take the best racecar in the field and win.”

When you’re in the draft, how much control do you feel you have inside the racecar?

“It depends on the circumstances. You can’t see the air and you hit different pockets (of air). You hit a pocket where you get a really big tow, or you hit a pocket where it seems they’re getting a tow and pulling you back, and you just have to play the circumstances. You just try getting in different scenarios and try to learn if you get in the middle of the draft, what does it do? Will it give you a push? Will it not give you a push? If you get next to this car, does it suck you up or does it slow you down? It’s trial and error but, at the same time, it’s like pulling a pin on a grenade. You know through that process that if one guy makes a mistake, your car’s torn up. It’s just a delicate balance of how hard you go, how many things you try, and how much time you spend doing it.”

How much translates from Daytona to Talladega?

“They’re different tracks with their own characteristics, but it’s plate racing and that really doesn’t change. Daytona has always been billed as being more of the handling track, but we’re still drafting and we’ll be in a pack where you’ve got cars on top of each other. It’s all about being in the right place at the right time, and that’s the same whether we’re racing at Daytona or Talladega.”

Rush Truck Centers/Mobil 1 Delvac Team Report

Round 32 of 36 – Alabama 500 – Talladega

Car No. 14: Rush Truck Centers/Mobil 1 Delvac Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing


Teammates: Kevin Harvick, No. 4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet SS

Danica Patrick, No. 10 Nature’s Bakery Chevrolet SS

Kurt Busch, No. 41 Haas Automation/ Monster Energy Chevrolet SS


At Track PR Contact: Drew Brown with True Speed Communication (704-498-7596 or Drew.Brown@TrueSpeedCommunication.com)

Primary Team Members:


Driver: Tony Stewart

Residence: Columbus, Indiana


Crew Chief: Mike Bugarewicz

Hometown: Lehighton, Pennsylvania


Car Chief: Jerry Cook

Hometown: Toledo, Ohio


Engine Specialist: David McClure

Hometown: Sacramento, California


Engine Builder: Hendrick Motorsports

Headquarters: Concord, North Carolina


Spotter: Bob Jeffrey

Hometown: Bristol, Tennessee

Over-The-Wall Crew Members:

Front Tire Changer: Ira Jo Hussey

Hometown: Manchester, New Hampshire


Front Tire Carrier: Brett Morrell

Hometown: Windham, Maine


Rear Tire Changer: Chris McMullenHometown: Canton, Michigan


Rear Tire Carrier: Josh Sobecki

Hometown: New Kensington, Pennsylvania


Gas Man: James “Ace” Keener

Hometown: Fortuna, California


Jackman: Getty Cavitt

Hometown: Owensboro, Kentucky


Windshield: Justin Peiffer

Hometown: Lebanon, Pennsylvania

Road Crew Members:


Truck Drivers: William “Stump” Lewis and Rob Fink

Hometown: Linkwood, Maryland and Baltimore, Maryland, respectively.


Engineers: Lee Deese and Chris Chidgey.

Hometown: Rockingham, North Carolina and Gainesville, Florida, respectively.


Mechanic: Tony Silvestri

Hometown: Sylvania, Ohio


Tire Specialist: Russell Simpson

Hometown: Medford, New York


Shock Specialist: Dave Hansen

Hometown: York, Maine


Pit Support/Fuel Runner: Daniel Coffey

Hometown: Granite Falls, North Carolina

Chassis No. 14-947
This car made its debut in July 2015 with Stewart at the wheel for the Coke Zero 400 at Daytona. It qualified 31st but rallied its way up to sixth in time for the green-white-checkered finish that decided the race in spectacular fashion. But, rather than being able to leverage his track position, Stewart was shuffled back to 14th place, where he was running when the frontrunners collided as the field came to the checkered flag. The incident triggered a dramatic accident that caused Austin Dillon’s No. 3 Chevy to take flight, smashing into the protective fencing and connecting with several cars before coming to rest directly in front of pit road. Chassis No. 14-947 suffered a good bit of damage but was still able to finish the race. Rebuilt in the months afterward, the car made its second start at Talladega in October. Stewart qualified 12th but started at the back of the field after a suspension change before the race. He laid back for most of the race before making a charge to the front in the closing laps. His bid for victory ended when the No. 14 suffered damage as the field came to green for overtime racing. Stewart finished the race 25th. Brian Vickers substituted for the injured Stewart in the 2016 Daytona 500, driving Chassis 14-947. The team’s decision to take two tires during a caution with 44 laps remaining vaulted Vickers from midpack to fourth. He stayed at the very front of the field, running side by side with the leaders and racing in the top-10 with 10 laps remaining before drifting to midpack in the closing laps. At Talladega this past May, under his doctor’s orders, Stewart drove the first 52 laps before turning the car over to Ty Dillon, who survived wild racing in the final laps to finish sixth.  In his swan song at Daytona in July, the three-time champion finished 26th after looking like he might win his second consecutive race of the season. Stewart avoided early trouble, then battled in the top-five as the race wound down. But, with 10 laps to go, the No. 14 slammed into the wall, ending his chances for victory.
Notes of Interest:
Sunday’s race marks Stewart’s 614th career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series start and his 35th Sprint Cup start at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway.
• Stewart has career totals of 49 wins, 15 poles, 187 top-five finishes, 308 top-10s and 12,814 laps led in 613 Sprint Cup races.
 His most recent Sprint Cup win came June 26 at Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway.
 His last Sprint Cup pole came April 5, 2014 at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth.
 Stewart missed the final 15 races of the 2013 season, three races in 2014 and the first eight races in 2016.
• Stewart has a win, nine top-five finishes and 13 top-10s and has led a total of 328 laps in his 34 career Sprint Cup starts at Talladega.  His average Talladega start is 16.7, his average finish is 17.5, and he has a lap-completion rate of 97.2 percent.
• Stewart has scored top-10 finishes in eight of the 23 races he’s entered in 2016.
Talladega in May – The driver tandem of Tony Stewart and Ty Dillon drove the No. 14 of Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) Chevy to a sixth-place finish in the 47th annual GEICO 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Talladega. Dillon took over the No. 14 from Stewart on lap 53, after Stewart followed doctors’ wishes and turned over the driving duties. Dillon drove the remainder of the race, narrowly missing three spectacular accidents on his way to the team’s best finish of the season to that point.
“Always a Bridesmaid:” Prior to winning a Sprint Cup race at Talladega on Oct. 5, 2008, Stewart finished second six times (spring 2006, spring and fall 2005, fall 2002, spring and fall 2001) at the 2.66-mile oval, which tied him with Bobby Allison and Mark Martin for the most runner-up finishes without a Sprint Cup victory at a track currently on the Sprint Cup schedule. Allison finished second six times and never won at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway, while Martin holds this distinction at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway. Stewart is tied with Buddy Baker for the most runner-up finishes at Talladega with six each.
• Stewart actually has two wins at Talladega. His breakthrough win at Talladega came on April 26, 2008, when he won the NASCAR Xfinity Series race from the pole. He led five times for a race-high 81 laps in the 117-lap race.
• In his Sprint Cup career, Stewart has five points-paying victories in restrictor-plate races – the 2005 July race at Daytona, where Stewart won the pole and led all but nine of the race’s 160 laps (94.4 percent), the 2006 July race at Daytona, where Stewart started second and led six times for a race-high 86 laps (53.8 percent), the 2008 October race at Talladega, where Stewart led four times for a race-high 24 laps (12.6 percent), the 2009 July race at Daytona, where Stewart started from the pole (qualifying was rained out) and led nine times for a race-high 86 laps (53.7 percent) and the 2012 July race at Daytona, where Stewart scored the win via a last-lap pass of Greg Biffle and Matt Kenseth off turn two and down the backstretch.
• Stewart has six other Sprint Cup wins in non-points restrictor-plate races. All have been at Daytona, with three victories in the Budweiser Shootout (2001, 2002 and 2007) and three victories in the Gatorade Duel (2005, 2007 and 2012).
Rush Truck Centers an ExxonMobil are sponsoring Stewart’s No. 14 Chevrolet this weekend to promote a program highlighting the need for more truck technicians and saluting these vital behind-the-scenes professionals. Stewart and his team visited a Charlotte-area Rush Truck Centers location on Wednesday to learn from technicians and help perform a diesel engine oil change. The visit coincides with a discounted Mobil Delvac product and oil change promotion, available at all Rush Truck Centers locations nationwide during the month of October. Fans can see behind-the-scenes footage of the No. 14 team’s Rush Truck Centers visit by following @Mobil1 and @RushTruckCenter on Twitter throughout the Talladega race week. Experienced truck technicians have never been more vital. The American Trucking Association estimates that an additional 200,000 technician professionals will need to be developed over the next 10 years to meet service maintenance demands industry-wide. Concurrently, it is expected that 40 to 50 percent of truck technicians will retire before 2030.

Kevin Harvick Hopes For Another Talladega Victory

Kevin Harvick PIt Stop

Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), is expecting a freaky fast care-free Sunday drive in the Alabama 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway.

Harvick’s win last Sunday in the Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City automatically locked him into the Round of 8 in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup before arriving at Talladega and now he can have a stress-free Sunday drive around the 2.66-mile superspeedway and concentrate on winning his second-consecutive Sprint Cup race.

The No. 4 team has used a winning strategy to advance to this point in the Chase. The team advanced to the Round of 12 with a victory at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon before locking into the Round of 8 last weekend at Kansas.

The Bakersfield, California native continues his streak as the only driver since the inception of the elimination-style format in 2014 to avoid an early exit in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup championship.

Talladega Superspeedway is known for its unpredictability due to high speeds, close racing and the ever-present threat of “the big one.” Harvick, however, has performed well on the restrictor-plate racetracks of Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway and Talladega in recent years.

In his last 10 restrictor-plate races, Harvick ranks second in top-10s and fourth in total points scored with 295. But his last points-paying Sprint Cup win on a restrictor-plate track came at Daytona in 2010. This weekend at Talladega, he will be looking to add his fourth points-paying Sprint Cup win on a restrictor-plate track.

The 2014 Sprint Cup champion has one career win at Talladega in NASCAR’s premier series. In April 2010, Harvick started fourth and led just two laps but, in the closing laps, he pushed Jamie McMurray’s No. 1 car and the two pulled away from the pack. As they navigated the tri-oval one final time, Harvick jumped out of the draft to beat McMurray to the finish line by .011 of a second, which still ranks 15th among the closest finishes in Sprint Cup Series history.

Harvick will go for his second win in consecutive weeks this weekend at Talladega, a feat that he has accomplished on two other occasions since joining SHR. In November 2014, he finished the season with back-to-back wins at Phoenix International Raceway and Miami-Homestead Speedway. He won two consecutive races in March 2015 when he reached victory lane at both Las Vegas Motor Speedway and Phoenix on consecutive weekends.

A stress-free Sunday drive this weekend at Talladega will provide the No. 4 Jimmy John’s team with a chance to reach victory lane for the fifth time this season, the second time in as many weeks and the third time in the last five races.


KEVIN HARVICK, Driver of the No. 4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing:



Is Talladega the most anticipated race in the Chase?

“Yes, Talladega is, for sure. There are so many things out of your control and you want to control as many things as possible on a week-to-week basis. Sure, there have been a lot of circumstances that have taken wins out of our hands throughout the regular season. But I think, as you look at the things that can be taken out of your hands, and circumstances, you expect those things. But there are so many more things that can happen at Talladega with the odds of getting into an accident way higher. They are usually big accidents and take out multiple cars. Talladega is the one you don’t want to have to deal with.”


RODNEY CHILDERS, Crew Chief of the No. 4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet SS for SHR:

What does the win at Kansas do in terms of preparation for Talladega and the next round?

“You always want to go win a race but, on the other hand, you can’t control it. Our focus is going to be on Martinsville and moving forward. We’ve got nice stuff to take to Talladega. We were planning on going down there to have to win the race there. We’ll definitely go down there and race hard. It’s just nice to be able to focus on the weeks going forward. This past week was rough on the whole race team, to be honest. Let those guys go see their kids and families a few nights. It’s going to mean a lot to them. Everybody catch their breath and get ready for Martinsville.”


Jimmy John’s Racing Team Report

Round 32 of 36 – Alabama 500 – Talladega Superspeedway

At-Track PR Contact: Penny Fender, True Speed Communication (704-728-7596, Penny.Copen@TrueSpeedCommunication.com)

Danica Patrick – No. 10 Nature’s Bakery Chevrolet SS

Tony Stewart – No. 14 Rush Truck Centers/Mobil Delvac Chevrolet SS

Kurt Busch – No. 41 Haas Automation/Monster Energy Chevrolet SS

Primary Team Members:

Driver: Kevin Harvick

Hometown: Bakersfield, California


Crew Chief: Rodney Childers

Hometown: Mooresville, North Carolina


Car Chief: Robert Smith

Hometown: Whitewater, Wisconsin


Engine Builder: Hendrick Motorsports

Headquarters: Concord, North Carolina


Engine Specialist: Jereme Jackson

Hometown: Lincolnton, North Carolina


Spotter: Tim Fedewa

Hometown: Holt, Michigan

Over-The-Wall Crew Members:

Gas Man: Justin White

Hometown: Lynnville, Tennessee


Front Tire Changer: Eric Maycroft

Hometown: Algonquiin, Illinois


Second Gas Man: Marc Wulf

Hometown: Omaha, Nebraska


Front Tire Carrier: Matt Holzbaur

Hometown: New Egypt, New Jersey


Windshield: Aaron Kuehn

Hometown: Kensington, Connecticut


Rear Tire Changer: Daniel Smith

Hometown: Concord, North Carolina


Jackman: Stan Doolittle

Hometown: Ninety Six, South Carolina


Rear Tire Carrier: Mike “Shrek” Morneau

Hometown: Oxford, Maine

Road Crew Members:

Truck Drivers: Rick Hodges and Stephen Mitchell

Hometowns: Raleigh, North Carolina, and Woodville, Ohio, respectively


Tire Specialist: Dustin Keath

Hometown: Reading, Pennsylvania


Shock Specialist: Mike McCarville

Hometown: Kensington, Prince Edward Island, Canada


Engineers: Dax Gerringer and Billy Keubler

Hometowns: Gibsonville, North Carolina, and Saline, Michigan,respectively


Mechanics: Richie Bean and Allen Mincey

Hometown: Bradford, Vermont, and Fort Lauderdale, Florida,respectively


Fuel Runner: Evan Kureczka

Hometown: Winston-Salem, North Carolina

Chassis Information – Chassis No. 4-1011:
Kevin Harvick will pilot the No. 4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet SS built on Chassis No. 4-1011 in the Alabama 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race Sunday at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway. Built new in 2016, Chassis No. 4-1011 will make its debut Sunday.


Talladega Superspeedway Notes of Interest:
  • Freaky Fast Since 2014: Harvick is in his 16th NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season and his third at Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) with crew chief Rodney Childers at the helm. Since their pairing at the beginning of 2014, Harvick and Childers combined to produce 12 victories, 10 poles, 52 top-five finishes and 71 top-10s; led 5,736 laps; won the 2014 Sprint Cup title; and finished runner-up in 2015 to champion Kyle Busch in 103 Sprint Cup events.
  • Trophies of 2016: Harvick is one of 13 Sprint Cup winners through the first 31 races of 2016. He scored his first win of the season March 13 at Phoenix International Raceway in one of the closest finishes in series history, when he beat runner-up Carl Edwards to the finish line by .01 of a second. He scored his second win of the season in the Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway, where he started 24th, led 128 laps and beat runner-up Ricky Stenhouse Jr., by 1.933 seconds. He scored his third win of the season Sept. 25 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, where he started 19th, led eight laps and finished .442 of a second ahead of runner-up Matt Kenseth. He scored his fourth and most recent win of the season last Sunday at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City, where he started 11th, led 74 laps and beat runner-up Carl Edwards by 1.183 seconds.
  • Survive and Advance: Harvick’s win last Sunday in the Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Speedway locks him in to the Chase for the Sprint Cup Round of 8, the cutoff for which is Sunday’s race at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway. Harvick advanced to the Round of 12 by winning the Bad Boy Off Road 300 at New Hampshire Sept. 25. He secured the second seed in the Round of 8 by virtue of his win at Kansas. Harvick finished the regular season with 876 points – more than any other driver. It marked the second consecutive season he has led the Sprint Cup points after the 26-race regular season.
  • First or Second: Since joining SHR at the beginning of 2014, Harvick and Childers have teamed to score 35 top-two finishes – 12 wins and 23 runner-up efforts in 103 total races. The pairing has finished either first or second in nearly 34 percent of the Sprint Cup races since the start of 2014.
  • 10,000 Laps Led: After leading 214 laps at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway, Harvick became just the fifth active full-time driver to lead 10,000 laps in his Sprint Cup career. He joins Jimmie Johnson, Tony Stewart, Kyle Busch and Matt Kenseth. Harvick led 139 laps in the Good Sam 500k at Phoenix earlier this season to surpass 9,000 laps led for his Sprint Cup career.
  • 1,000 Laps Led for the Third Consecutive Season: Harvick has led 1,305 laps through the first 31 points-paying races of 2016. He has now led 1,000 laps for a third consecutive season. He has led at least one lap in 21 of 31 points-paying Sprint Cup events this season. Prior to joining SHR in 2014, Harvick’s season-high was 895 laps led in 2006.
  • Harvick at Talladega since Joining SHR:Harvick has five Sprint Cup starts at Talladega since joining SHR at the beginning of the 2014 season and has finished in the top-15 and led laps in all five races. He started eighth, led 15 laps and finished seventh in April 2014. He started 39th, led two laps and finished ninth in October 2014. He started 24th, led a lap and finished eighth in May 2015. He started seventh, led four laps and finished 15th in October 2015. He started 29th, led nine laps and finished 15th in May 2016. He has led 31 total laps in his five starts at Talladega since joining SHR.
  • Harvick in the Sprint Cup Series at Talladega: The Alabama 500 will mark Harvick’s 32nd career Sprint Cup start at Talladega. He has one win (April 2010), six top-five finishes and 13 top-10s at the 2.66-mile oval. The 40-year-old driver has led 187 laps, has an average starting position of 22.3, an average finish of 15.3 and has completed 95.8 percent (5,635 of 5,882) of the laps he’s contested there.
  • Harvick in the NASCAR Xfinity Series at Talladega: Harvick has made eight starts in the Xfinity Series at Talladega. He has one pole (April 2010), two top-five finishes and three top-10s. He has led 95 laps, has an average starting position of 9.8, an average finish of 18.2 and has completed 82.6 percent (784 of 949) of the laps he’s contested there.
  • Career Totals: Harvick has 35 wins, 152 top-five finishes, 280 top-10s and 16 poles in 569 career Sprint Cup starts heading into Sunday’s Atlanta 500 at Talladega.


Tommy Baldwin Sells Tommy Baldwin Racing Assests To Circle Sport-Leavine Family Racing

Image result for tommy baldwin nascar

Unsure about his organization’s future, team owner Tommy Baldwin met with his employees Monday “so I can give them the options if they needed to go find a job.’’

Baldwin told NBC Sports in an exclusive interview Tuesday that “I’m exploring all my opportunities right now. I’m trying to figure everything out.’’

He hopes to have his plans solidified by some point in December. Among the options, there is one thing Baldwin said he won’t do.

“I would never shut down,’’ said Baldwin, whose team debuted in the Cup series in 2009. “Don’t use that word. The options are keep going or sell. That’s the only two options we have.’’

Baldwin admits he’s given his employees a similar message “in six out of the eight years” of the team and always made it to the next season.

But Baldwin concedes that it is becoming more difficult for a small team like Tommy Baldwin Racing.

“The technology has just increased,’’ Baldwin said. “Everyone has just become smarter. The race teams, with Michael Waltrip Racing shutting down (after the 2015 season) and some other things, it put a lot good people, dispersed a lot of good people to different teams. Everyone had to spend a lot more money to keep up with the Gibbs and Hendrick programs.

“It’s funny to me how everyone thinks our racing is not good. This is the most competitive that NASCAR has ever been.’’

Baldwin admits it has been a struggle at times for the team and driver Regan Smith.

“I think we’ve been competitive at times,’’ Baldwin said. “I think we’ve been really bad at times. It’s been a competitive roller coaster. This year is probably one of the best race teams that we’ve assembled, it’s been a great group of guys that have worked for TBR. There’s a lot of pluses that we have going on, but again, it’s the almighty dollar that is talking.

“If you don’t have the money to keep up with the Joneses, you’re going to be left behind. If you told me eight years ago when I first started this team I would be pretty much in the same spot as when I started, I would have told you that you were crazy. This sport has taken off so much here as far as how smart we’ve all gotten. It’s not that we don’t know how to do it, it’s just that we don’t have the money to apply the proper resources to do it.’’

Baldwin has one of the 36 charters granted to Sprint Cup teams at the beginning of this season. That adds value to his organization, ensuring that his team — or whoever purchases the charter, if that happens — would be in every Cup points race.

Baldwin’s car is 32nd in the car owner point standings, ahead of five other teams that have charters (another team below Baldwin’s leased its charter for this season).

Smith is 33rd in the driver standings. He finished a season-best third at Pocono in August. His only other top-10 finish this year has been an eighth-place result in the Daytona 500.

Tommy Baldwin Racing debuted in 2009, competing in 25 races. The team had five drivers: Michael McDowell (eight races), Scott Riggs (eight), Patrick Carpentier (four), Mike Skinner (four) and Robert Richardson (one).

The organization continued to use a variety of drivers in 2010 before Dave Blaney ran 34 races in 2011. Blaney was with the team through 2013.

Tommy Baldwin Racing expanded to two full-time cars in 2012. Danica Patrick, in partnership with Stewart-Haas Racing, ran 10 races where Baldwin was listed as the car owner. Tommy Baldwin Racing ran two cars through 2014 before selling the assets of the second car (the No. 36 team) to Premium Motorsports.

Before becoming a team owner, Baldwin was a crew chief. He won five Cup races as a crew chief, including the 2001 Southern 500 and 2002 Daytona 500 with Ward Burton.

Update:  FOX Sport 1’s NASCAR Racehub show confirmed Wednesday with multiple sources that Tommy Baldwain Racing has signed paperwork to transfer ownership charter to Leavine Family Racing (#95 Chevy). It was also reported that LFR leased their charter for 2016, supposedly from Circle Sport, which ran the #33 Chevy for years under the ownership of Joe Falk. Baldwin could play an advisory role with the team. TBR declined to comment.

There will be more definitive details as the week progresses towards the Talladega race this weekend as to where Tommy Baldwin lands, as well as what direction Circle Sport-Leavine Family Racing progresses towards.  Look for Circle Sport and the Leavine Family to possibly go their separate ways at the end of the 2016 season.