Boris Said still having a blast with fans, racing in NASCAR
WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. – Boris Said is a bona fide hero in these parts. And the loyal band of free-spirited " Said Heads" have come out in force this weekend to welcome their road course-racing hero at the Connecticut native's adopted home track, Watkins Glen International . The fans wear big curly-haired wigs, a nod to Said's head of hair and a sign of their allegiance to one of America's most successful road racers. They are local and vocal and fiercely fond of their hero Said , who met up with several of his fans at the area's famous Seneca Lodge restaurant this week. His meal consisted of taking a bite of food, signing an autograph, taking a bite of food, posing for a photo. You get the idea. "It makes you feel good, it does," a smiling Said said . "You go to Seneca Lodge to eat dinner and it's crazy. I was in there last night, having dinner with [ Daniel Suarez ] and he has no idea, he's a young kid. He was freaked out by it. "It was just a lot of hugging and people wearing the T-Shirts coming up the whole time to talk or get an autograph. It's fun and kinda neat." Said will drive the No. 32 Genesee Beer Ford in Sunday's Cheez-It 355 at The Glen (2:30 p.m. ET, USA/MRN/Sirius XM). It's his first NASCAR start of the 2016 season, but 16th career green flag at The Glen where he has often been tabbed to lead a team's road racing effort. His best finish is third in 2005. He's led nine laps (all in his first start in 1999) and raced cars from James Finch's "Thank A Teacher Today"-sponsored Chevy in 2011 to the famed Wood Brothers' No. 21 Little Debbie Ford in 2007. He won the pole here in his first-ever XFINITY Series start in 1998 driving a car owned by former Cup driver Jimmy Spencer. Twice he finished fourth including last year for Joe Gibbs Racing . "It's crazy for me because I still love driving, but I'm almost 54," Said said . "I keep thinking I’m going to retire, but …" he said smiling and putting his hands up. "I have no hope to win, but it's still fun to drive. "It's still better than watching it on TV and this is one of my favorite places to come, the track, the people, Seneca Lodge, the whole thing." After his drive at Watkins Glen, Said is set for some sports car racing in Europe and will start the Monterey Motorsports Reunion, a historic car race driving one of his former Corvette racer. And, he said , there's a chance he may make an XFINITY Series start. Said also owns BMW and Volkswagen dealerships in his home state of California and his K1 Speed indoor go-kart track franchise recently opened its 34th facility. As Said spoke about his busy life and reflected on his winning career, there was a knock on the team's door from 23-year-old Nicolas Hammann . The young driver met Said through the GT Academy reality show, where he bested thousands of aspiring racers. He wanted to get some advice from Said before his maiden XFINITY Series start Saturday at Watkins Glen. "Best thing you can do is run all the laps," Said offered. "The risk versus reward is a touchy situation, so play it safe and be there at the end and then be aggressive. Race to the checkered." Hammann was clearly eager to discuss the day's strategy with his mentor. And Said clearly enjoyed the opportunity to help a young driver. Especially at a place that has meant so much to Said's career. "Now when I come here I just think about all the years here and the memories of rubbing fenders with Dale Earnhardt Sr., and Jeff Gordon and Tony Stewart and Carl Edwards ," Said said . "It's been awesome. The competitive side of you is a little bummed out you can't be competitive, but you know the limit of your equipment. "But," Said said breaking into a grin. "It's always a blast driving the car fast here."
Boris Said to run Watkins Glen with Go Fas Racing
RELATED: Full entry list for road course Go Fas Racing is pleased to announce that Boris Said will return to pilot the No. 32 Genesee Brewing Company Ford Fusion at Watkins Glen International in August. Said has 51 starts in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series from 1999-2015. The Carlsbad, California native has 15 NSCS starts at Watkins Glen including two top-ten finishes, one top-five finish and a best finish of third which came in 2005. Rochester, New York-based Genesee Brewing Company has agreed to once again sponsor Go Fas Racing and Boris Said . The No. 32 Ford Fusion features a design inspired by Genesee's heritage that was first introduced in 2015. "I'm always excited when it comes to racing at Watkins Glen," said Boris Said . "Not only is Watkins Glen one of my favorite race tracks anywhere in the world, I just love the area, the fans, the food and everything about it! Being able to represent Genesee is a huge honor, so hopefully I can put on a good show for them." According to Matt Goldman, channel marketing manager for Genesee, the 138-year-old beer company, is thrilled to be a primary sponsor at The Glen for the fifth consecutive year, and third with Go Fas Racing. "We're excited to bring both Genesee and racing legend Boris Said back to the Glen this August. Genesee is the oldest brewery in New York, and has enjoyed incredible popularity among race fans across the state. We can't wait to connect with them once again this summer." "We're extremely proud to announce the continuation of our partnership with Genesee Brewing Company for the third consecutive year at Watkins Glen", said Team Owner Archie St. Hilaire. "The Genesee Brewery and their local distributors do a tremendous job marketing the partnership throughout the upstate New York area leading up to the race weekend with over 40 show car events and appearances. Boris will again be behind the wheel of the No.32 Genesee Ford Fusion and we couldn't be more excited to have him driving for us again."
Road America may be Boris Said's last NASCAR ride
ELKHART LAKE, Wis. -- Saturday's race at Road America marks the finale of a five-race NASCAR XFINITY Series schedule for veteran road racer Boris Said this year in Joe Gibbs Racing 's No. 54 Toyota. On Friday, Said hinted that the event could signify another finale on a much broader scale. Said will try to cash in on another opportunity in top-flight equipment in Saturday's Road America 180 Fired up by Johnsonville (3 p.m. ET, NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). He'll be driving for the same No. 54 team that's visited Victory Lane four times this season, three times with Sprint Cup vet Kyle Busch and once with JGR prodigy Erik Jones . "Man, this is like the best Christmas present I ever got in my life," Said said after Friday's final practice at the 4.048-mile track. "I've been racing for over 30 years. I'm going to be 53 in a couple weeks. In the last three or four years, I've been racing cars that don't have a prayer to win, underfunded teams. It's still fun, but not fun not being competitive. So, to get an opportunity to drive for Monster and Joe Gibbs and Toyota in equipment like this, it was a dream come true. To finally run in the top five at Watkins Glen, it kind of shows, hey maybe it's not my age, it was just the equipment. "It's just been one of the most fun years I've ever had doing these five races with these guys. Now that it's last one, it might be the last NASCAR car race I ever run, I don't know. But it sure is a cool way to go out." If Saturday proves to be Said's swan song, his record will show one XFINITY victory, one Camping World Truck Series win and two Sprint Cup pole positions in a career that dates back to 1995 in NASCAR national series competition. This year, Said's biggest highlight was a fourth-place finish at the Glen, and leading two laps two weeks ago at Mid-Ohio and a lap at Talladega in May. Said pointed out that he dialed back his sports-car racing schedule this year to better focus on his five-race schedule with Joe Gibbs Racing . But he's otherwise kept occupied off the track in a partnership with Rick Hendrick's automotive group for BMW and Volkswagen dealerships. "That's another dream come true," Said said . In terms of the future, Said indicated that he'd likely compete in sports car events next season, but he'd jump at the chance for another competitive ride in NASCAR. "Who knows? If I could ever get another opportunity like this again, I don't care if I was 70 years old, I'd take it," Said said . "This is like a vacation every time I get to run this. I have fun every minute of the day here. Part of me is sad to see it end, but part of me is like, man, it sure was fun, though."
The Rundown: Watkins Glen driver grades
RELATED: Complete race results " Updated Chase Grid Breaking down the full field for the Cheez-It 355 at The Glen at Watkins Glen International : 1. Denny Hamlin , No. 11 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . Six weeks after making a mistake on the final turn at Sonoma that cost him his first road-course victory, Hamlin triumphs at Watkins Glen. This time, he capitalized on the mistakes of others and led the final 10 laps for his second victory of the season. Grade: A+ 2. Joey Logano , No. 22 Ford, Team Penske . Despite a pit-road speeding penalty on Lap 34 and right-front damage, Logano worked his way back through the field for his fourth consecutive top 10 at Watkins Glen. Grade: A 3. Brad Keselowski , No. 2 Ford, Team Penske . Keselowski and Kyle Busch restarted in the front row with 10 laps to go, but both overshot Turn 1 opening the door for Denny Hamlin . That wasn't Keselowski's final mistake. Running third entering the final turn, he turned second-place Martin Truex Jr . when a crossover move went awry. Grade: B 4. AJ Allmendinger , No. 47 Chevrolet, JTG Daugherty Racing . Sunday was a day of extreme highs and lows for Allmendinger. A pit-road speeding penalty on Lap 26 cost him terrific track position. Then he just missed getting collected in the big wreck on Lap 54. But instead of being elated for tying a personal best with his second top five of the season, he was disconsolate after punting Kyle Larson just before the finish line. "I turned him," said Allmendinger, searching for words. "Not on purpose. ... I'm not very happy with myself on that. I don't want to do that, especially for fourth place at the end. … I just cost Kyle a good finish. I'm just pissed off at myself." More on Larson's 29th-place finish later. Grade: B 5. Tony Stewart , No. 14 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing . Stewart posted his eighth top-five finish in his 16th and final start at Watkins Glen. It also was his fifth top five in his past seven starts. Stewart is smokin'. Grade: A 6. Kyle Busch , No. 18 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . Busch was in prime position to vie for his third victory at Watkins Glen when he restarted from the front row with 10 laps to go. Instead, he overshot the first turn along with race leader Brad Keselowski , handing an opportunity to Hamlin. Grade: A- 7. Martin Truex Jr ., No. 78 Toyota, Furniture Row Racing . Truex was running second coming to the final turn when he was turned by Brad Keselowski . The two talked after the race. "He said it was his fault," Truex said . "I said , 'I knew that.' Simple as that." Pretty much sums up Truex's sixth top 10 in 11 starts at Watkins Glen. Grade: A 8. Jamie McMurray , No. 1 Chevrolet, Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates. Big, big day for McMurray, whose finish -- his first top 10 at the Glen since 2010 -- was ahead of all his competition on the Chase bubble. Grade: A 9. Trevor Bayne , No. 6 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing . Bayne was another bubble winner. He climbed a spot in the Chase standings to 17th, but more important, he picked up 20 points on 16th-place Kyle Larson and now trails Larson by eight points with four races to go before the Chase field is set. Grade: A 10. Matt Kenseth , No. 20 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . How's this for tidy? Making his 600th start, Kenseth posted his 300th top 10. Grade: A 11. Kurt Busch , No. 41 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing . Busch had a solid finish, but it was no match for his Olympic Team USA-inspired shoes. Grade: US-B 12. Casey Mears , No. 13 Chevrolet, Germain Racing . Mears weaved his way through the carnage of the big wreck on Lap 54 to tie his best finish of the season (12th last month at Daytona). Grade: A 13. Chase Elliott , No. 24 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports . Elliott stemmed his recent string of bad finishes with his best finish since coming in second at Michigan two months ago. Grade: B 14. Jeff Gordon , No. 88 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports . Gordon overcame heavy damage to the nose of the No. 88 on Lap 4 and later just missed getting collected by Ricky Stenhouse Jr .'s spinning car in the big wreck on Lap 54 to post his second top 15 in three starts since coming out of retirement to sub for Dale Earnhardt Jr . Grade: B 15. Carl Edwards , No. 19 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . Edwards started from the pole and led the first 25 laps but was hit with a penalty on his first pit stop for a wayward tire. Being deep in the field with a fast car is not where you want to be on a road course, and Edwards paid for it when he was collected in a wreck with 34 laps to go. Grade: B- 16. Ryan Newman , No. 31 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing . Newman was running 20th on the restart after the sixth caution when the No. 31 got loose and spun out. Attrition helped Newman record his sixth top-16 finish in his past seven starts at Watkins Glen. Grade: B- 17. Michael McDowell , No. 95 Chevrolet, Circle Sport- Leavine Family Racing . McDowell recorded his best finish in eight starts at Watkins Glen and his third-best finish this season. Grade: A 18. Clint Bowyer , No. 15 Chevrolet, HScott Motorsports . Bowyer suffered front-end damage in a wreck with 34 laps to go but still posted one of his better finishes of the season. Grade: B 19. Ryan Blaney , No. 21 Ford, Wood Brothers Racing . Blaney remained in the thick of the Chase race despite a pit-road speeding penalty on Lap 22 and running off the track into the grass 20 laps later. Grade: C 20. Kasey Kahne , No. 5 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports . Kahne simply was not competitive, and a penalty because the No. 5 crew was over the wall too soon on the first caution didn't help. But the numbers don't lie: Kahne spent a grand total of three laps in the top 15. Still, Kahne is only 10 points behind Kyle Larson for 16th in the Chase standings. Grade: C- 21. Danica Patrick , No. 10 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing . Patrick led a career-high 11 laps (previous best was seven at Talladega in October 2014), but she was running in her normal midpack position when she was caught up in Paul Menard 's dirt storm on Lap 84 and sustained heavy damage. Grade: B- 22. Paul Menard , No. 27 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing. Speaking of Menard ... the No. 27 team was penalized for throwing its fuel can on Lap 49, but the team's biggest faux pas came when its driver ran off the course on Lap 84 and spewed dirt onto the track, forcing enough cars behind him to drive blindly and lose grip to cause a seven-car wreck, bringing out the eighth caution and second red flag of the day. Grade: D 23. Landon Cassill , No. 38 Ford, Front Row Motorsports . Despite spinning out in the grass in the bus stop and bringing out the fifth caution for the debris he left on the track, Cassill tied his best finish at Watkins Glen. Grade: C 24. Boris Said , No. 32 Ford, Go Fas Racing . It wouldn't be Watkins Glen without Boris Said in the field. Making his 16th start at The Glen, Said posted his 10th top-25 finish. Grade: C 25. Brian Scott , No. 44 Ford, Richard Petty Motorsports . Scott's first Sprint Cup start at Watkins Glen produced a better finish than the first Glen starts of Kyle Busch (33rd), Jeff Gordon (31st), Kurt Busch (29th) and Martin Truex Jr . (28th). That's something to hang your helmet on. Grade: B 26. Josh Wise , No. 30 Chevrolet, The Motorsports Group. Wise got his best finish in three starts at Watkins Glen. He finished 38th in the previous two (2012, 2014). Grade: B 27. Aric Almirola , No. 43 Ford, Richard Petty Motorsports . A pit-road penalty on the No. 43 team for being over the wall too soon on the first pit stop and the wreck on Paul Menard 's dirt spray contributed to Almirola's worst finish at Watkins Glen since 2013. Grade: C- 28. Cole Whitt , No. 98 Chevrolet, Premium Motorsports. Witt could not improve on his 21st-place finish last year at Watkins Glen despite starting 22nd. Grade: C 29. Kyle Larson , No. 42 Chevrolet, Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates. Larson was easily the biggest loser Sunday. He had a fourth-place finish in the bag until he was punted by AJ Allmendinger short of the finish line. Instead his car hit the wall and was destroyed. The 24-point difference between fifth and 29th has huge Chase implications. As it stands, Larson is 16th in the Chase standings but by a mere eight points over Trevor Bayne . And as far as moving up, Larson is 30 points behind Jamie McMurray instead of five. (Larson would have finished ahead of McMurray, dropping him to ninth Sunday.) As for the apologetic Allmendinger, he "has got a few coming," Larson said . Grade: A 30. Chris Buescher , No. 34 Ford, Front Row Motorsports . A big mistake (pit-road penalty for tossing a fuel can) and bad luck (getting caught up in Paul Menard 's dirt storm) were tempered because the driver he's competing with for 30th in the points standings, David Ragan , also was collected in the Lap 84 wreck. At one point Sunday, Buescher was 13 points behind Ragan. Because of the wreck, he finished the day three back with four races remaining to get into the top 30 and qualify for the Chase. Grade: C 31. Austin Dillon , No. 3 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing . Dillon was involved in two wrecks (Lap 4 and Lap 54), with the latter bringing out the first red flag and being a difference maker for the No. 3 team. When Dillon returned to the track, all the sheet metal from the front of the car was gone, but with a spot in the Chase on the line, every point matters. He dropped two spots to 14th in the Chase standings but caught a big break when Kyle Larson was wrecked. Dillon leads 16th-place Larson by 39 points. Grade: C- 32. Kevin Harvick , No. 4 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing . Harvick was running third with 30 laps to go when he went to pit road because of a flat-spotted tire. He came out 33rd, the last car on the lead lap. The extra pit stop made him vulnerable to midpack mishaps, and that's exactly what happened when his car was destroyed in the wake of the Paul Menard dirt storm. Grade: C 33. David Ragan , No. 23 Toyota, BK Racing . Ragan was collected in two wrecks, with the final melee delivering a knockout blow. Ragan's welfare is of great importance to drivers on the Chase bubble. If Chris Buescher , with one win, replaces Ragan in 30th in the standings, the winless driver 16th in the Chase standings will need a win to qualify for the postseason. Grade: C 34. Matt DiBenedetto , No. 83 Toyota, BK Racing . Sunday wasn't one of DiBenedetto's better days. He sustained a pit-road penalty, went for a spin on the Lap 81 restart and then absorbed his sixth DNF of the season because of a crash when he was caught up in the Lap 84 mess. On the other hand, he spent the fourth-most laps running in the top 15 of the drivers who finished 21st through 40th. Grade: D 35. Regan Smith , No. 7 Chevrolet, Tommy Baldwin Racing . Car woes limited Smith to 77 laps. Grade: D 36. Alex Kennedy , No. 55 Chevrolet, Premium Motorsports. Kennedy was caught up in the wreck that caused the fourth caution, and he brought out the sixth caution when his engine blew 20 laps later. Grade: F 37. Michael Annett , No. 46 Chevrolet, HScott Motorsports . Annett was running at the finish, but brake issues limited him to 77 laps. Grade: F 38. Ricky Stenhouse Jr ., No. 17 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing . Stenhouse was driving aggressively after the restart following the second caution and touched off the big crash on Lap 53 when he lost control of his car coming out of the carrousel heading into Turn 6. The No. 17 hit the inside wall straight on and then took another big hit when Jimmie Johnson T-boned the car when it ricocheted back onto the track. Grade: F 39. Greg Biffle , No. 16 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing . Biffle's day ended in the big crash on Lap 53. He said he thought he had cleared Ricky Stenhouse Jr .'s car but was hit from behind by Austin Dillon . Wrong place, wrong time. Grade: D 40. Jimmie Johnson , No. 48 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports . Johnson paid dearly for an early pit-road speeding penalty that put him in the back of the field when he was collected in the big wreck on Lap 53. It was Johnson's fourth DNF for a crash in the past nine races. Grade: F
Carl Edwards earns Coors Light Pole Award at The Glen
RELATD: Results " Sunday on USA " Watkins Glen lingo " See the roster WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. -- You can add the title "road course ringer" to Carl Edwards ' racing resume. Touring the road course at Watkins Glen in 69.689 seconds (126.562 mph) during Friday's time trials at Watkins Glen International , Edwards beat Kyle Larson (126.223 mph) by .182 seconds to earn the top starting spot for Sunday's Cheez-It 355 at the Glen (2:30 p.m. ET, USA, MNR SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). In winning his fourth Coors Light Pole Award of the season and the 20th of his career, Edwards completed a sweep of road course poles in 2016, having also started first on the grid at Sonoma Raceway in June. Larson's second-place effort was a career-best on a road course, bettering the third starting position he earned at Sonoma in 2014. Tony Stewart (126.177 mph) qualified third on Friday, followed by Matt Kenseth (126.104 mph) and Kyle Busch (126.099 mph), both teammates to Edwards at Joe Gibbs Racing . Edwards said starting on the pole on the newly repaved racing surface at the Glen will be a significant advantage. "I think (Sunday) is going to be a little bit of an adventure," said Edwards, whose four poles this year constitute a career best for a single season. "The new pavement, nobody knows how that's going to go along deep into the runs with tire build-up. I think the braking zones are pretty tough, and it's going to be nice and warm. "So, just got to stay upfront, can't make any mistakes. I love road races. They're so much fun. I got to talk to Boris Said , who's basically my road racing coach to start, so that was cool today. Hopefully, tonight I'll get me some good rest and hopefully be very competitive tomorrow." Even though Edwards' No. 19 Camry was fastest in qualifying, he expects stiff competition on Sunday from his Toyota brethren. "My teammates, they're really fast," Edwards said . Kyle (Busch) is really fast and Martin (Truex Jr. of affiliated Furniture Row Racing ) is really fast. "We've got to work a little bit in race trim, but we're starting up front, and we've got a great pit crew, and hopefully we can put (the car) in Victory Lane." Truex, in fact, was one of the favorites for the pole, but his hot lap in the money round was impeded by Ricky Stenhouse Jr ., who entered the track at the bottom of the esses as Truex was approaching that uphill section of the 2.45-mile course. Truex, who qualified 14th, returned the favor on his cool-down lap, taking Stenhouse's line in the esses and relegating the Roush Fenway Racing driver to a 30th-place starting spot. Jeff Gordon qualified 21st in his third start for Dale Earnhardt Jr . AJ Allmendinger , the 2014 Watkins Glen winner, will start ninth.
Said : "[Biffle] is a chump"
Boris Said doesn't mince words about Greg Biffle after they had on-track incidents and a skirmish in the garage area.
Edwards earns the Coors Light Pole Award at Watkins Glen
Carl Edwards sweeps the road course poles after winning the Coors Light Pole Award at Watkins Glen International.
ThorSport draws strength to keep trucking after devastating fire
RELATED: Exclusive look at the ThorSport shop in Ohio SANDUSKY, Ohio -- No matter what happens from here on out, win or lose, championship or bust, ThorSport Racing officials likely will look back on the 2016 season as something of a rebirth. It's been a year in which the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series organization has literally risen from the ashes. Cut short just seven races into the season by a raging fire that damaged much of the team's race shop, the company marched on, spent weeks working piecemeal out of everything from the parking lot of a former grocery store to a section of bays inside a custom trailer manufacturing facility. Each off-site venue was within roughly a five-mile radius of the team's 100,000-square-foot home base. Each was also an example of a small, tight-knit community reaching out to help in any way possible. ThorSport, owned by Duke and Rhonda Thorson, has fielded entries in the Camping World Truck Series since 1996, the second year of the series' existence. Today, four teams run out of the large cream-colored building -- the No. 88 Toyota Tundra of two-time series champion Matt Crafton , the No. 13 of Cameron Hayley , the No. 41 of Ben Rhodes and the No. 98 of Rico Abreu. Rhodes and Abreu are Sunoco Rookie of the Year candidates. But for six weeks, the four teams and approximately 85 employees worked "old school," minus many of the technological necessities prevalent throughout all three of NASCAR's national series. They did so while traveling to and competing at Iowa and St. Louis, Kentucky and Eldora. Walk into the shop today and you might not realize the place had been filled with smoke "so thick you couldn't see your hand in front of your face," one first responder recalled on Thursday, or that water was "up to our knees in most places, and running out of the hauler bays in back like a river," said another. But the smell tells another story. "There were times," said Jim Johnson, captain of the Perkins Township Fire Department, "I thought we were going to lose the entire building." Johnson was the first to arrive on the scene, just after midnight on Monday, June 13. Assuming it was nothing more than a small brush fire out back of the team's headquarters, he said he quickly realized the severity of the situation and alerted departments from nearby townships as well as Sandusky. Three other localities and 47 firefighters quickly responded. The fire, which began outside behind the main building, had spread up the rear wall and then began moving beneath the rubber-sealed roof. The rear portion, which housed a fabrication area and machine shop, had to be knocked down in order for firemen to get to the blaze. Johnson said it took approximately 500,000 gallons of water to finally extinguish the fire. Most equipment was quickly removed from the shop -- a large grassy area outside was soon filled with race trucks, pit boxes and assorted tools. There were no injuries and, surprisingly, no race vehicles were damaged to the extent that they had to be discarded. While ThorSport teams regrouped and continued to focus on racing, workers began the process of renovating the shop. Walls, blackened by smoke and damaged by water, were torn down to the studs and rebuilt. New wiring was installed. Eventually, equipment was brought back in. And what little remained of the destroyed rear portion, about 25,000 square feet of shop space, was hauled away. The organization was slowed, perhaps, but not stopped. "We can't use (the fire) as an excuse to under-achieve," ThorSport General Manager David Pepper said . Today, trucks in various states of assembly sit on the pristine shop floor. Work has resumed in a building, a former slaughterhouse that was first put into use by the group in 2011. "Duke and Rhonda have given us our biggest, best resource you could possibly ask for to win races, and we've proven we can do that from here," Carl "Junior" Joiner, crew chief for Crafton, said . "Not having it, you were lost. "At this level, you need resources like this to win and we didn't have that for a long time." The smell, less strong now, still lingers inside the shop. Inside some of the trucks, too. "We still have to put air fresheners in some of them because of the stench," he said . It is not only a reminder of what happened, but how far the organization has come in such a short period of time. "When something bad happens, my father always told me, 'Well kid, it builds character.' And I know that we're going to be stronger from it," Joiner said . "I know we will." &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;
Keselowski hits home with Careers for Veterans
RELATED: Reddick tops final practice at Michigan BROOKLYN, Mich. -- As the owner of a two-truck organization, Brad Keselowski has more than a passing interest in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. That interest increased exponentially this weekend as the series visits Michigan International Speedway . The 2-mile track hosts Saturday's Careers for Veterans 200 , a collaborative sponsorship effort between Cooper Standard and Keselowski's own Checkered Flag Foundation. Cooper Standard, which has been affiliated with Keselowski since 2011, is also the primary sponsor for the organization's No. 29 Ford driven by Tyler Reddick , one of two entries fielded by Brad Keselowski Racing. Teammate Daniel Hemric competes in the No. 19 Ford. The Careers for Veterans program, run by Cooper Standard, provides career opportunities for military veterans as well as those transitioning from active service. It's an endeavor embraced by Keselowski's Checkered Flag Foundation as well. "It started through my foundation, which has some similar efforts helping members of the community," Keselowski said of the sponsorship association. "Careers for Veterans is one of those examples. It kind of grew into this relationship -- 'Hey, we're both from Michigan, we both have the same goals and initiatives. What can we put together?' " Keselowski, the 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion, hails from Rochester Hills, Michigan. Cooper Standard, based in Novi, Michigan, specializes in the production and marketing of various automotive components and systems. Keselowski competes for Team Penske and is used to dealing with a variety of sponsors and understands their various goals. The connection between Cooper Standard and his foundation, "is not your typical pact," he said . "Usually there are B-to-B (business-to-business) plays, marketing plays, but usually it's not foundation-related," he said . "The way Cooper Standard allows me to give back to the sport is two-fold. One, it's with the race team, the people that are on it that have a spot to work and hopefully grow and prosper whether it be for their families or their future career which is something I enjoy immensely. "But also I get the chance to connect the foundation to what I do which is very difficult. I think it's very important to show to others that we have a commitment to looking out to others who are less fortunate or have had some tough times. "I think that's an important part of the sport, the ability to realize and acknowledge how well off we have it and to try to ... be an example of that realization and efforts to do something with it." The race sponsorship at MIS has been in place since 2014. Keselowski said 3,000 guests of Cooper Standard will be on hand this weekend for the event. Reddick, 10th in points, said everyone in the organization understands the added importance of this weekend's race. "This is my first year of driving (with Cooper Standard sponsorship), but I've been a part of this team long enough to know how important it is to everybody," he said . "It goes unsaid. "Everyone understands and knows what this race means to Brad and Cooper Standard, all the veterans that will be here and all the ones watching at home. "We all understand what we have to do and hopefully we can go do just that."
Heavy crash sidelines Bell, Gallagher early at Michigan
RELATED: Results " Standings BROOKLYN, Mich. -- Spencer Gallagher said he didn't know how fast he was going when his No. 23 Chevrolet collided with the No. 4 Toyota of Christopher Bell . "I don't want to know," a shaken Gallagher said after exiting the care center Saturday, the Careers for Veterans 200 under caution and workers clearing debris from the hard two-truck crash. Bell, his No. 4 Kyle Busch Motorsports Toyota running second, had charged inside of leader Cole Custer (JR Motorsports) in Turn 3 on Lap 75 of the 100-lap NASCAR Camping World Truck Series event. But the back end of the vehicle tried to pass the front end -- spinning up the track and into the path of the oncoming entry of Gallagher. The impact was frightening. So much so that Gallagher, after exiting his truck, quickly made his way back to Bell's damaged vehicle. "That was a vicious hit for me so I had to see that he was fine," Gallagher, battling for fourth at the time, said . "Everyone is jockeying so hard for position and it's so easy to pull another guy around, not even trying to, just racing hard. … "Poor Christopher got sucked around on the bottom there; I tried to get up and away from him as quickly as I could and couldn't get it done in time. After I came to rest, I didn't know where I hit him but I didn't think I got him in any kind of a good place. I got out and took off running to him because I was afraid for the safety of a fellow competitor. "I was just hoping so much in my heart he was all right. It put the fear of God in me, seeing how that unfolded. Apologies to the safety officials for having to chase after my dumb ass but I needed to see with my own eyes that he was OK." The race, delayed by rain, was won by Brett Moffitt with a last-lap pass. Bell, who was also was not injured, was credited with a 24th-place finish; Gallagher was scored in 25th. "Just really bummed for everybody who works on this (truck)," Bell said afterward, "because we had a really fast Tundra today. I felt like I did a really good job all race just kind of biding my time. "I knew I had a fast truck and was just trying to take care of it. I got the opportunity there late in the race … maybe should have waited a little bit but had the opportunity. I tried to take it and it didn't work out." Bell fell to seventh in points but with a win at St. Louis earlier this season, is basically assured of a spot in this year's inaugural Chase for the series. "Kind of frustrated with myself there," he said . "Still had a lot of race to go. … Maybe it was a little too early to go for it." Gallagher dropped two spots to 14th. Officials called Gallagher to the hauler after the race for exiting his truck and approaching another vehicle. "They're going to want to talk to me," he said . "I understand it's against … policy but in that moment I was concerned about Christopher. … There were plenty of safety officials around me, there were no active race cars around so I took off running; I needed to see him with my own eyes."