Post-Race Reactions: John Deere Dealers 250
Edwards, Sorenson and Sadler comment on an exciting and challenging race in Iowa .
Return to Martinsville brings reunited Peters-Kendrick duo full circle
Photo credit: Red Horse Racing BUY TICKETS: See the races at Martinsville Reunited and it feels so good. That's the mantra for veteran driver Timothy Peters and crew chief Chad Kendrick heading into Saturday's Alpha Energy Solutions 250 (3 p.m. ET, FOX, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) at Martinsville Speedway. The race is the third of the 2017 season in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and marks the first time that the Peters-Kendrick pairing has been back at the 0.526-mile track since their win there in 2009. "It's pretty cool being able to reunite and how things worked out," Peters told NASCAR.com. "Obviously, both of us getting our first win together was a pretty big deal at Martinsville. Since our last time that we won, pretty much we haven't worked together since but remained good friends. Chad's matured as a crew chief. I've matured as a driver and he's had great success at Martinsville. Going back this weekend is a great homecoming." RELATED: Recap every Martinsville race " Get results from October 2009 race That homecoming feeling is aided by two factors: both Peters and Kendrick consider Martinsville to be their home track, and the duo's back story goes back to short track and Late Model circuits all over Virginia. The two raced each other and both admitted they did not like the other at first. "He was THE guy to beat," Kendrick said. "He was the guy when I first started racing against him in the late '90s, I didn't really care for him. We didn't really know each other. We were just competitors and I didn't really like him. It was more of he was THE guy and you wanted to beat that guy." But a chance meeting at a chassis shop saw the two bond and become friends with Kendrick helping Peters work on his Late Model entry if he wasn't racing. That relationship carried forward when Peters got the call to go to Bobby Hamilton Racing where Kendrick worked as a mechanic for the team. From there, came the crew chief position with Peters in 2009 that started with Premier Racing before the two went to Red Horse Racing in the middle of the season. Opportunities took Kendrick elsewhere over the past seven years, including most recently a four-year stint atop the box at Brad Keselowski Racing. During that time, Kendrick scored five wins atop the box. Meanwhile, Peters has spent that time behind the wheel for Red Horse Racing, tallying an additional nine wins. RELATED: Being a crew chief 'the next best thing' for Kendrick
Auto Club Speedway by the numbers
BUY TICKETS: Celebrate Auto Club's 20th anniversary RELATED: Full weekend schedule Jimmie Johnson was driving a Superman car and wearing a cape the last time he saw Victory Lane at Auto Club Speedway in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series' stop there in 2016. It's appropriate since he almost owns the place. Johnson has six wins at Auto Club, spanning a decade and a half. He also has five runner-up finishes, an impressive average finishing place of 6.5 and has led 980 laps around the 2-mile circuit in Fontana, California. Roger Penske has a stake in the place as well, having been one of the architects, alongside Les "Coach" Richter. The track officially opened June 22, 1997, and it's celebrating its 20th anniversary as NASCAR returns to Fontana this weekend for Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series and XFINITY Series racing. Penske got his first Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series win at the track on April 29, 2001 with Rusty Wallace piloting the No. 2 Miller Lite Ford. Brad Keselowski put Team Penske back in Victory Lane at Auto Club Speedway in 2015. Penske's open wheel drivers also have had success at the track. Penske built a fast race track, leading to some stout stats in the speedway's lore: -- A 188.511 mph qualifying speed record set by Denny Hamlin in 2016 -- A 155.012 mph race speed record set by Jeff Gordon in 1997 Digging into the numbers a bit more: -- Hendrick Motorsports has 10 wins, the most of any team -- Ford has 11 wins at the track, and Chevrolet has 13. Kyle Busch has taken home two Auto Club 400 trophies for Toyota in back-to-back races in 2013-14. -- Farthest back in the field a winning driver started: 31st, Matt Kenseth, spring of 2006 -- Pole-sitting winners: Only one, Johnson in 2008 -- The closest margin of victory was 0.144 seconds, as Kevin Harvick edged Johnson in 2011
Stage lengths for Martinsville weekend
BUY TICKETS: See the races at Martinsville RELATED: Full schedule for Martinsville The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series are at Martinsville Speedway this weekend. Below are the stage lengths for each race. Click here to bookmark stage lengths for every race this season. Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (Race is Sunday, 2 p.m. ET, FS1) Stage 1: Ends on Lap 130 Stage 2: Ends on Lap 260 Final Stage: Scheduled to end on Lap 500 Camping World Truck Series (Race is Saturday, 3 p.m. ET, FOX) Stage 1: Ends on Lap 70 Stage 2: Ends on Lap 140 Final Stage: Scheduled to end on Lap 250 &lt;/p&gt;
Sisters Paige, Claire Decker attempt XFINITY Series race at Iowa
The Decker sisters -- Paige, 23, and Claire, 21 -- were back on a NASCAR national series track at Iowa Speedway this weekend as they attempted to qualify for Sunday's American Ethanol E15 250 Presented by Enogen (1:30 p.m. ET, FS1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.) Competing for Obaika Racing, Claire piloted the No. 77 Vroom Brands Chevrolet, and Paige drove the No. 97 Vroom Brands Chevrolet. This was the sisters' attempt at a NASCAR XFINITY Series debut. ( UPDATE: Paige Decker qualified for Sunday's race while Claire did not. Paige finished in 31st place Sunday at Iowa after being forced to head to the garage with a mechanical failure.) It's happening! Get in on the hype as Paige and Claire prepare to tear up the track at Iowa for Xfinity Debut... https://t.co/VG8qYmyucC — ObaikaRacing (@ObaikaRacing) June 16, 2016 Both sisters, from Eagle River, Wisconsin, qualified for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series' Alpha Energy Solutions 250 in April at Martinsville. In just the second time that sisters ever competed in a Truck Series race, Paige finished 25th and Claire 27th. Claire Decker will compete in Saturday night's Speediatrics 200 Truck Series race at Iowa Speedway after qualifying 32nd. She is driving Jennifer Jo Cobb 's No. 10 Driven2Honor.org Chevrolet. Their cousin, Natalie Decker, failed to qualify for that event. Natalie and Claire are both NASCAR Drive for Diversity alumni.
Erik Jones wins pole for XFINITY Series race at Iowa
RELATED: Full lineup for Sunday's race Erik Jones won the 21 Means 21 Pole Award on Saturday at Iowa Speedway for Sunday's NASCAR XFINITY Series American Ethanol E15 250 Presented by Enogen (1:30 p.m. ET, FS1). This is the Joe Gibbs Racing driver's sixth pole award of the season and the ninth of his XFINITY Series career. Jones also won the pole for last year's race at Iowa and finished third, a career-best at the .88-mile track. Recent winner and XFINITY Series points leader Daniel Suarez will line up second to his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate. Sam Hornish Jr ., Justin Allgaier and Elliott Sadler complete the starting top five on the leaderboard. Ben Kennedy , who is making his XFINITY Series debut and led both practices on Friday, will line up sixth. Sisters Claire and Paige Decker were attempting to qualify for their first XFINITY Series event on Saturday, but only Paige made the starting lineup. Paige will line up 40th in her No. 97 Chevrolet on Sunday. The only previous winners in the field are Brad Keselowski , Sadler and Hornish Jr.
American Ethanol, Enogen named sponsors for June Iowa XFINITY race
RELATED: Buy tickets NEWTON, Iowa (May 3, 2016) -- Iowa Speedway today announced American Ethanol will serve as the entitlement sponsor and Enogen as the presenting sponsor for the NASCAR XFINITY Series race during Wide Opening Weekend on June 18-19. The NASCAR XFINITY Series American Ethanol E15 250 presented by Enogen on Sunday, June 19, represents the fifth consecutive year of the American Ethanol partnership and the fourth consecutive year with Enogen at Iowa Speedway . While the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series idles for a week, the green flag will wave at Iowa Speedway for a first-of-its-kind doubleheader weekend in central Iowa . For the first time ever, the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and the NASCAR XFINITY Series are paired together during Wide Opening Weekend on June 18-19. “American Ethanol and Enogen stepping up to sponsor our NASCAR XFINITY Series race is another great indicator of the important platform Iowa Speedway and NASCAR provide to brands,” said Iowa Speedway President Jimmy Small. “The adoption of biofuels grown and made in the USA, creating much needed green jobs in Iowa and across the Heartland is one of the tenets of NASCAR Green. American Ethanol has proven to be a tremendous partner not only for Iowa Speedway , but for NASCAR’s teams, fans and the industry as a whole.” American Ethanol and Enogen were the former title and presenting sponsors of the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Iowa Speedway . American Ethanol, along with Enogen, join the Iowa Corn Growers Association in renewing their long standing relationships with the speedway in 2016. “As NASCAR approaches 10 million flawless miles running on Sunoco Green E15, we’re excited for yet another opportunity to showcase the power and the high-quality performance ethanol brings to the race track,” said Jeff Broin, co-chair of Growth Energy. “It’s no secret biofuels create jobs in our country and work great in our engines. American Ethanol is proud to partner with Iowa Speedway and the NASCAR XFINITY series to show that an ethanol-based bio-fuel is the future.” Representing a wide array of ethanol supporters, from farmers to bio-engineering firms, American Ethanol was established by Growth Energy in partnership with the National Corn Growers Association to increase awareness of the value of American-made ethanol. Ethanol represents the most commercially-viable alternative to 100% petroleum-based fuel that America currently holds, and corn ethanol reduces emissions by 59 percent. “Ethanol is helping America reduce its dependence on foreign oil, lowering prices at the pump, improving the environment with lower emissions, and growing the economy with jobs that can’t be outsourced,” said Jack Bernens, head of Enogen at Syngenta. “Ethanol is an important success story and the American Ethanol E15 250 is an excellent opportunity to engage consumers and help increase awareness for the benefits of earth-friendly American ethanol. Syngenta is pleased to once again be working with Iowa Speedway and Growth Energy to support the ethanol industry through our sponsorship of this event to tell ethanol’s story.” In 2011, NASCAR launched its long-term biofuels program to reduce emissions of the fuel used in all its racing series. As part of the partnership, NASCAR’s three national touring series began using Sunoco Green E15; a 15% ethanol blend bio-fuel, made from American-grown corn. By utilizing Sunoco Green E15 race fuel, NASCAR has demonstrated that ethanol-blended fuel performs when held to the highest standards. Iowa Speedway season tickets, which are currently on sale, include eight high-powered races over three weekends. Wide Opening Weekend will feature both the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and the NASCAR XFINITY Series American Ethanol E15 250 presented by Enogen during Father’s Day Weekend on June 18-19. The second weekend of racing will showcase the ARCA Racing Series 150 presented by Casey’s General Stores, the INDYCAR Series Iowa Corn 300, Indy Lights and Pro Mazda Championship on July 9-10. The 2016 race season will close on July 29-30 with the NASCAR K&N Pro Series Casey’s General Stores 150 and NASCAR XFINITY Series U.S. Cellular 250 .
JGR pit crews make swap in-race at Iowa
RELATED: Complete race results " Watch final laps NEWTON, Iowa -- Pit crew swaps mid-race are not common in NASCAR, but Joe Gibbs Racing made a change around the halfway point of Sunday's XFINITY Series American Ethanol E15 250 presented by Enogen at Iowa Speedway that ultimately benefitted race-winner Sam Hornish Jr . With teammate Daniel Suarez 's No. 19 crew routinely beating Hornish's No. 18 off pit road and Erik Jones 's No. 20 running several laps down due to a fuel pickup issue, an opportunity presented itself. The Nos. 18 and 20 pit crews swapped teams. "I kind of talked to Steve (deSouza, executive vice president of NASCAR XFINITY /Development for Joe Gibbs Racing )," Chris Gayle, crew chief of the No. 18 team said after the race. "Once we knew the 20 was down -- they weren't going to be a factor in the race ... We had just struggled. Iowa's always tough because we're spoiled with having our (Sprint) Cup pit crews on normal weekends. The non-companions, we don’t have any familiarity with the pit crews we really use for these. "The 19 had beaten us on a couple stops earlier and it had gotten down to where there is one stop left and if it's us and the 19 racing, I'm going to lose to them off pit road because they've beaten me in three previous stops. So to not do anything is going to be my fault." Serving as the liaison, deSouza went between the two teams as the swap was contemplated. "I went to talk to the 20 crew chief (Chris Gabehart) and say, 'Hey if we want to implement something like this are you good with it?' I went to him first," deSouza told NASCAR.com. "And he said, 'Listen, we are laps down. Whatever you think is the best thing to do, do it.' " The switch Sunday proved successful as Hornish went on to win his first NASCAR race since the 2015 season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway . He led 183 of the 250 laps in the race, including the final 111 circuits. Suarez, last week's winner at Michigan, finished in fourth and left Iowa still holding the lead in points. Jones finished 27th, seven laps down. Gayle pulled the move out of a playbook even six-time champion crew chief Chad Knaus has used. One of the most well-known pit swaps came at Texas Motor Speedway in the fall 2010 race between the Hendrick Motorsports teams of Jeff Gordon (No. 24) and Jimmie Johnson (No. 48). The teams swapped pit crews mid-race after Gordon was involved in a crash in the race. Johnson went on to catch JGR's Denny Hamlin for the title in the final two races when the switch was made permanent. The race win was the ninth victory for JGR in 14 XFINITY Series races this season.
Luza claims Auto Club triumph for second-straight victory
RELATED: See the complete iRacing schedule Rookie Ryan Luza continued his hot start to the 2017 NASCAR PEAK Antifreeze Series, finding Victory Lane for the second-straight week, this time at Auto Club Speedway. Luza started on the pole and led 61 of 125 laps, but the race came down to a green-white-checkered finish after a crash with seven laps to go. Luza, along with second-place driver Logan Clampitt and 14 other sim racers, chose to stay out on worn tires for the final two laps, but Michael Conti, who was third at the time, led a group of cars into the pits for fresh rubber. Conti would restart 17th with two laps remaining. On the restart, Luza jumped out in front of Clampitt by two car lengths as Kenny Humpe and Christian Challiner battled side- by -side for third through Turns 1 and 2. Farther back, Conti was on the move after a great restart and used his fresh tires to blow past three competitors by Turn 1. However, Luza's victory was secured -- and Conti's charge halted -- by a crash off Turn 2 when Jimmy Mullis and David Rattler hit the wall and caused the cars behind them to stack up. The crash brought out the evening's sixth yellow flag, ending the race under caution. Clampitt followed Luza across the line to finish second, his third top-five finish in three races. Challiner just edged Humpe for third at the time of caution and Bobby Zalenski came home fifth. Luza opened the race by leading the first 11 laps before Zack Novak and Corey Vincent beat him out of the pit lane under the first caution. Novak led until Luza reclaimed the point on Lap 20. However, it was Clampitt with the best long run car early as he ran down and passed Luza on Lap 38, just a few laps before the leaders began green flag pit stops. Clampitt pitted a lap later than Luza and lost the lead by doing so thanks to Luza's extra lap on fresh tires. The two continued running nose-to-tail, but a caution cut their battle short on Lap 51. The caution also helped the lead-lap cars, which pitted late in the cycle, as they stayed out on their barely used tires, relegating Luza to ninth after he pitted for fresh rubber under caution. With still half the laps remaining, Luza methodically worked his way back towards the front and took the lead away from Zalenski on Lap 76 to regain control of the race. From there Luza was unchallenged the rest of the way, though Alex Bergeron did lead some laps by playing an alternate pit strategy. Luza and his No. 1 Ford Fusion are clearly the combination to beat early in the 2017 season, but it probably should not come as a total surprise considering his dominant NASCAR iRacing Pro Series season over the past winter. He will try to keep the momentum going in two weeks when the NASCAR PEAK Antifreeze Series visits Texas Motor Speedway for Week Four of the sim racing schedule. Last year, PJ Stergios and Ray Alfalla waged a heated battle in the Lone Star State with Stergios getting the best of Alfalla in the end. Look for that duo to be strong once again this year with each of them looking to find the winner's circle for the first time in 2017. Can the rookie make it three in a row, or will a veteran get the best of him? Find out in two weeks' time on iRacing Live ! Tune into www.iracing.com/live at 8:45 p.m. ET on April 4 to catch the action live!
Richard Petty sparkles in Hollywood while receiving prestigious award
LOS ANGELES -- The bright orange hues of the setting sun lingered over the California coastline last Thursday evening, casting an appropriate illumination on the Hollywood hilltops in the distance and onto one of Los Angeles’ most distinctive treasures in the forefront, the Petersen Automotive Museum. Sitting on famous Wilshire Boulevard, the building's modern chrome-look design is head turning even in a city known for high profile. And inside it is one of the most impressive automotive collections in the world -- the Louvre for car lovers. On this night at this appropriate location, NASCAR’s "King" Richard Petty was honored with the Robert E. Petersen Lifetime Achievement Award for his contributions to auto racing and for raising the profile of the American automobile. Equally important, it was a wonderful chance to celebrate Petty's upcoming 80th birthday on July 2 with a large cake and an eager banquet room of singers. The evening's host and museum’s founding chairman Bruce Meyer welcomed the large crowd, revealing with a smile, "It's the first time having a King here." Almost 300 people were on hand to honor Petty, and there was no mistaking the eclectic attendance -- NASCAR's most treasured, old-school hero being feted by Southern California's coolest and hippest car lovers. Good vibes, as they say out here. "Richard Petty's an icon in our sport, the Frances, the people that built the sport," said retired racer Donnie Allison, an invited guest of Petty's for the evening. "Richard Petty is without a doubt the most noted name in all of racing. It doesn't make a difference who you know or who you talk to. "Bobby (Allison) and I were on an airplane coming out here and sitting next to a guy who asked us what we did. I said that we raced and he said, I don't know anything about racing but I know who Richard Petty is. "What does that say?" Before the formal sit-down dinner, seven-time NASCAR champion Petty joined four-time champ Jeff Gordon to film an interview for FOX Sports. With the famous "Hollywood" sign landmark in the distance, Petty smiled at Gordon and they discussed his family's "redneck engineering." "There was no book, everything was new," Petty told Gordon. "We were so dedicated to working on those cars, we didn't know if it was night or day." Dressed in a black suit and wearing one of his trademark black, feathered cowboy hats and black boots, Petty settled in for the casual time with Gordon and they talked about everything from receiving this unique honor to Petty's favorite winning hardware. "I've got them everywhere," 15-time Martinsville winner Petty said, smiling about the track's famous grandfather clock trophy. With seven NASCAR titles and 200 wins, Petty could not be more revered, and seeing him celebrated in this unique setting seemed not only genuinely appreciated by him, but also a true gift to the crowd. "I'm pretty sure he's signed more autographs than any person in the history of the world," road racing champion Tommy Kendall said, smiling. "Seriously, he's been famous for a long, long time." "It's easy to think of 200 wins and say he was good, but you have to think about that. Everyone had the same limitations and the same challenges of knowledge and understanding and the Pettys somehow raised the bar. "And he raised it in other areas, too, in terms of fan engagement and even something as simple as why his autograph is so legible. It's probably not an accident. People spend their time and money to see him and he wants to give them something." On this night, Petty gave plenty -- his time, his smile, his approval and his sincere gratitude. "I'm just getting old," Petty joked before the program began. "But," he added of the recognition, "Petersen has been in publishing of all kinds of racing magazines. Being they cover all types of racing, to be selected in something like this is really a big thing. I guess it winds up showing we had a lot of good people working for us to be able to put us in this position. It wasn't a one-man show. "What can you do by yourself? "I've accomplished nothing by myself. With the crowd around me we've accomplished a lot. I just happen to be the guy out front. I'm not pulling them, they are pushing me." Always one to share credit and appreciate competition, Petty invited some of his closest friends and even some of his former fiercest competitors to join him this evening. NASCAR executives such as Vice Chairman Mike Helton, Executive Vice President & Chief Global Sales & Marketing Officer Steve Phelps and Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer Jill Gregory were there to support and enjoy. Fellow NASCAR Hall of Famers Bobby Allison and Rusty Wallace were there, too, along with the great Donnie Allison, NASCAR team owner Rob Kauffman, Kendall and Petty's son Kyle, who played guitar on stage to end the evening. The musical finale came after the tributes, however. And there were -- appropriately -- hours' worth of those. NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France and his sister, International Speedway Corporation's CEO Lesa France Kennedy, joined a lineup that included Roger Penske, Mario Andretti, Darryl Gywnn and others who sent video messages of accolade and homage. Newly inducted fellow NASCAR Hall of Famer, team owner Rick Hendrick, fondly recalled in his message that Petty's famous signature was "the first autograph I ever got." Former United States Presidents George H. Bush and George W. Bush sent letters to be read on stage. The elder Bush wrote to Petty, "You are a legend. What may not be as well-known is your life's mission to help. ... You are an inspiration about what is best about our great country." Henry Ford, the great, great, great-grandson of Ford Motor Company's founder, delivered a tribute in person as did other major corporate executives. Petty finally took the stage briefly to acknowledge the kindness and many honors, and as you might expect, humbly and briefly reminded everyone, "It's a tribute to not only Richard Petty, but to our sport." At the live auction after dinner, Petty not surprisingly offered a big assist. Two people were in a lively bidding war for one of Petty's famous cowboy hats. When you're the King, your hat is a crown. And after the bidding concluded, Petty took off the very hat he was wearing, walked to the stage and told the audience he would give it to the other bidder -- in effect doubling the money raised for the Petty Family Foundation and Petersen Automotive Museum. And making two grown men very happy. The spontaneous gesture was an apt display of both the high regard Petty has earned and his unending willingness to give back to his many fans. Hats off to the King, indeed.
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