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Habul donates $100,000 to Nationwide Children's Hospital
A father of a boy and two girls with another baby girl on the way, Kenny Habul balances being a successful business owner, race car driver and family man. While in Ohio last Thursday afternoon, the Joe Gibbs Racing driver and his family visited the Nationwide Children's Hospital (NCH) and made a $100,000 donation on behalf of everyone at his company, SunEnergy1. For more than half a century, Nationwide has partnered with NCH to provide life-saving care to children and their families. The third annual Nationwide Children's Hospital 200 at Mid-Ohio was part of the company's effort to raise awareness and more than $4 million for NCH and its wide-ranging, world-class research efforts. RELATED: Drivers form lasting bond with Patient Champions In his 11th career XFINITY Series start and second of the season, Habul qualified 15th and finished 28th. Last month, Denny Hamlin drove Habul's SunEnergy1 No. 20 Toyota Camry to New Hampshire Motor Speedway's Victory Lane.
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Marks, Dillon pace field Friday at Mid-Ohio
RELATED: Practice 2 results Justin Marks sped to the top of the leaderboard late in Friday's final NASCAR XFINITY Series practice at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, piloting his No. 42 Chevrolet around the road course at 95.574 mph. That was just quick enough to unseat Ty Dillon from the top spot. Dillon, who led Friday's opening practice and was looking for a sweep, had a best speed of 95.538 mph, which looked like it would hold up. That ended up being good for second place. Marks hasn't raced an XFINITY Series car since the season-opening race at Daytona, in which he finished 34th in the No. 29 Toyota. Alex Tagliani (95.205 mph) was third in the No. 22 Team Penske Ford, followed by Chris Buescher (95.152 mph) and Elliott Sadler (94.965 mph). Chase Elliott , who finished eighth in the final session, spent time in the garage so his team could swap his transmission after the driver reported a small vibration on his second run, according to JR Motorsports. Next on the docket for the XFINITY Series is qualifying, which takes place Saturday at 11:15 a.m. ET. The Nationwide Children's Hospital 200 follows at 3:30 p.m. ET (NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM). Opening practice RELATED: Practice 1 results A late mock qualifying run vaulted Ty Dillon to the top of the leaderboard in Friday's opening NASCAR XFINITY Series practice at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. In the No. 3 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet, Dillon topped Brian Scott 's best speed with approximately 90 seconds remaining in the opening 55-minute session with a pace of 95.660 mph. Scott, his Richard Childress Racing teammate, settled for second in the session at 94.937 mph. In a practice session that saw its leaderboard get topsy-turvy as teams made late runs in qualifying trim, Boris Said piloted the No. 54 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota to third place (94.825 mph). Regan Smith was fourth at 94.755 mph and defending race winner and series points leader Chris Buescher taking fifth (94.736 mph). Buescher enters Saturday's Nationwide Children's Hospital 200 (3:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM) 24 points ahead of both Chase Elliott and Dillon. Elliott finished seventh in the first practice. Dillon, of course, was involved in a pit-road tussle with Smith following last week's race at Watkins Glen. They avoided each other in Friday's opening period of on-track activity. RELATED: Smith, Dillon get physical post-Watkins Glen Seven NASCAR XFINITY Series teams lost 15 minutes of on-track time as a result of recent minor infractions. The following XFINITY Series teams served 15-minute practice time deduction penalties during the opening practice: Richard Childress Racing No. 2 (driver Brian Scott ), Team Penske No. 22 ( Alex Tagliani ), JGL Racing No. 26 ( Tomy Drissi ), Richard Childress Racing No. 33 ( Brandon Jones ), Jimmy Means Racing No. 52 ( Joey Gase ), Joe Gibbs Racing No. 54 ( Boris Said ) and JR Motorsports No. 88 ( Ben Rhodes ). The seven teams were penalized for issues arising at Watkins Glen this past weekend (late exiting garage).
Drivers form lasting bond with Patient Champions
LEXINGTON, Ohio -- Perspective. A week ago, Regan Smith was caught up in a fiery post-race fracas with XFINITY Series championship rival Ty Dillon after an on-track mixup at Watkins Glen International. On Thursday, he walked with eyes wide and jaw agape through the neonatal intensive care unit at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, which cares for infants born as young as 24 weeks -- roughly five and a half months. Smith, a recent first-time father to a nearly 6-month old son, Rhett, and JR Motorsports teammate Chase Elliott toured the hospital on behalf of the Patient Champions program, which pairs drivers with children who have completed or are undergoing treatment at the hospital . "Talking about perspective, if (feuding with Dillon) is the worst thing we have going on ..." said Regan, before trailing off. "We're standing here in a hospital right now with kids that have a lot of serious things going on. It was a race. We'll move onto the next one. Naturally, there's a lot bigger things going on in the world." The program, which pairs 10 drivers with 10 "Patient Champions" from the hospital , is in its third year in NASCAR since the sanctioning body began racing at the road course in the XFINITY Series in 2013. Patients, who are afflicted with diagnoses ranging from Autism to Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis to Pre-B Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia and everything in between, have a hand in designing their drivers' respective paint scheme themselves -- Smith's purple, giraffe-embroidered No. 7 Chevrolet is a sight, for sure -- and are recognized throughout the weekend at the race track. Front and center at the Nationwide Children's Hospital 200 driver/crew chief meeting on Saturday, the group of children received a 30-second standing ovation from some of the biggest names in the sport, before breaking off to the garage area to hang out with their paired driver and, yes, sit in their actual race cars. Through its The 1989 World Tour partnership, XFINITY gifted each of the Patient Champions with a Taylor Swift-themed canvas bag filled with an iPad mini, CD, signed photo, thumb drive, t-shirt and third row tickets to her show when she rolls into Columbus in mid-September As the race prepared to get underway, the Patient Champions held one of the most important jobs of any race weekend -- co-grand marshals. Giving the command to start engines is certainly a moment that will stick with these children throughout their lives. Visiting the hospital is one that is sure to linger in the minds of Smith and Elliott. "I think more than anything, it's just knowing that these kids have gone through a lot and continue to go through a lot and just being able to hang out with them and mess around and play with them," said Smith, who legitimately could not wipe the smile off his face after receiving a tin of cookies from his Patient Champion, Laynie Roll. "I think, for me, the NICU hit close to home. Just because we're not far removed from having a baby that small. I shouldn't say 'that small,' but having a baby of that age. To see some of the 24-week-old babies that are that premature, it's incredible to even think that 30, 40 years ago, it probably would've been a different outcome. As they've learned, as this hospital has grown and as we've gotten smarter as a whole, to see that they're able to have a baby that is that little surviving, some of them breathing on their own is incredible." For Smith, the experience was one that brought up many questions, invoking his inquisitive, curious side as the hospital's neonatology chief Dr. Edward Sherman brought he and Elliott through the department. The new father clearly has an invested interest in the well-being of children overall and wanted to make sure he brought as much joy as possible to every patient he came in contact with, enthusiastically drag racing toy cars in the lobby and later, painting wooden toy chassis in the arts and crafts room with patients. Elliott, still just 19 years old, maintained a reserved, tentative approach. The sobering experience was a lot to take in for anyone, let alone someone who just graduated from high school last year. It was a similar, somewhat intentional pairing to 40-year-old Brendan Gaughan and 20-year-old Dylan Kwasniewski 's visit last year. Needless to say, the reigning series champion walked out of Nationwide Children's Hospital differently than when he walked in. "I think (their strength) is the key to it all. Seeing these kids and what they go through makes you sit back and realize how fortunate we are to really do what we love to do," Elliott said. "Don't take anything for granted, because you don't know when anything can happen at any given point. That's just life. Just very fortunate to be here and come see things first-hand. This hospital and Nationwide , the things that they do for them to make this happen is huge. It's cool to see it and be a part of it. "I got to see this race weekend last year and ran the race and got to see … (last year's race-winner) Chris (Buescher) had a young boy on his car. I didn't have anybody on my car and we obviously didn't win that day, but it was cool to see the joy that brought. It makes you sit back and realize that a bad day at the race track could be a lot worse." ******* At the conclusion of the 2014 running of the Nationwide Children’s Hospital 200 , Luke Benner stood in Victory Lane in front of a giant trophy with a No. 1 finger in the air. Standing next to him was race-winner Chris Buescher , who'd just picked up his first career NASCAR victory -- but let the spotlight shine on Benner, his Patient Champion. "It was a really humbling win for me," Buescher said Friday at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. "(I did feel extra pressure to win) and it probably had something to do with the fact that they said 'We're on the car now and we expect you to win, so you better.' They were not shy about what they were hoping to get out of the weekend. "They've been awesome. The whole Benner family has been a lot of fun to deal with and be around. To create a friendship and follow Luke's progress … they (came) back this weekend even though we have a new Patient Champion on the side of our car. We'll have William Schaffer on board and his family out here this weekend, but we'll also have the Benners, so we (had) a lot of kids running around our area trying to keep everything going forward. It'll be exciting that there's that little bit of extra pressure but at the same time, there's 10 of us that have the extra pressure so it evens out, I'd say." And that's what it's all about. Creating a special bond between patient and driver -- a mutually beneficial relationship that truly represents the communal spirit that makes NASCAR such a unique sport and experience through and through. It's clear that the sanctioning body, its teams and, most importantly, its drivers value and care for its fans and the relationships bonded -- especially with those in need. Even for Nationwide , which gave up its entitlement sponsor position of the series at the conclusion of last season, to remain so visible and charitable is nothing short of incredible. "These are kids that have gone through a lot, but because of the hospital and what they can do there, they can come out of it as a success story and they're special, unique kids that can talk through the challenges and what they've overcome," said Jim McCoy, director of sports marketing for Nationwide . "For us to highlight those stories in a national way through a race, putting (the patients') face on the car, having them come out to the race track and just enjoy time not thinking about whatever ailment that they have, it brings a lot of meaning to what we do and why we look forward to this race every year." All in all, while Saturday's race was won by Smith, the ones that walked away champions were Aiden VanWagner (Patient Champion of Elliott Sadler ), Alexandra James (Patient Champion of Ben Rhodes ), Dominic Clarke (Patient Champion of Darrell Wallace Jr .), Evan Kern (Patient Champion of Chase Elliott ), Kylee Leonard (Patient Champion of Alex Tagliani ), Laynie Roll (Patient Champion of Regan Smith ), Michael Galiher (Patient Champion of Ryan Reed ), Owen Mattie (Patient Champion of Brian Scott ), Roger "Mikey" Allen (Patient Champion of Brendan Gaughan ) and William Schaefer (Patient Champion of Chris Buescher ). Roll, race-winner Smith's Patient Champion, received an extra special experience, as she helped Smith celebrate in Victory Lane after the race at Mid-Ohio. "To come out here, they get to experience something that they're not going to get on a daily basis or in any normal sport," Buescher said. "You're not going to get the all access, come in the garage, sit in the cars, be on the pit box during the race. It's all stuff that is very unique to our sport and is very close up and all the Patient Champions get to do that this weekend." "It's very cool that we were able to carry it on."
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Friday practice recaps from Michigan, Mid-Ohio
Get the latest results from on-track action for all three series RELATED: Play NASCAR Fantasy Live " Sign up for RaceView today SPRINT CUP SERIES PRACTICE " RESULTS There was plenty of speed to be had in Friday's Sprint Cup Series practice session from Michigan International Speedway , as the defending race winner Joey Logano topped the speed charts in the opening 80-minute session. Logano laid down a lap of 204.545 mph in his 18th and final lap of the session. Overall, 26 drivers topped the 200 -mph mark. Carl Edwards was second with a speed of 204.111 mph, followed by Brian Vickers (203.920 mph), Kurt Busch (203.897 mph) and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (203.229 mph). All three Roush Fenway Racing cars were in the top 10. In addition to Edwards and Stenhouse, Greg Biffle was eighth in the session. Dale Earnhardt Jr. , a two-time winner at Michigan, was sixth in the session. Jimmie Johnson , who won in June at Michigan, reported a vibration issue on his car early in the 80-minute session and brought his car in for adjustments. After returning to the track several times, Johnson continued to feel a vibration and brought the car back into the garage. The six-time series champion finished 39th in the opening practice. Jeff Burton , who is filling in for Tony Stewart in the No. 14 Chevrolet, had some problems early on. A part failure within the rear end gear moments into practice sent Burton into the garage for repairs. He did return to practice with just less than a hour to go. About a half-hour into the session, practice had a brief caution for debris on the track, but cars returned to the track in short order. Ryan Blaney filled in the No. 21 Wood Brothers Racing Ford for Trevor Bayne , who is at Mid-Ohio for the Nationwide Series. Blaney will be driving that car next season for the Wood Brothers. Matt Crafton filled in for Martin Truex Jr. in the No. 78 Furniture Row Racing Chevrolet as Truex Jr. is with his longtime girlfriend, Sherry Pollex, who is undergoing surgery on Friday after recently being diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Both Bayne and Truex Jr. are expected to be in Michigan for Sunday's Pure Michigan 400 (1 p.m. ET, ESPN). There will be two practice sessions for the Sprint Cup Series on Saturday at 8:30 a.m. ET and 11 a.m. ET. Both sessions will be televised on ESPN2. CAMPING WORLD TRUCK SERIES PRACTICE 1 " RESULTS Kyle Busch led Friday's opening practice at Michigan International Speedway for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Career for Veterans 200 . Busch topped the charts with a speed of 186.485 mph. The Sprint Cup veteran has won every Truck Series race he has entered this season with his most recent win coming at Kentucky Speedway in the UNOH 225. Sprint Cup rookie Austin Dillon was second-fastest as he rounded the track at 186.466 mph. Dillon saw Victory Lane in the most recent Truck Series race at Pocono Raceway . Darrell Wallace Jr. (186.384 mph), Johnny Sauter (185.893 mph) and Timothy Peters (185.869 mph) rounded out the top-five fastest. Truck Series points leader Ryan Blaney finished practice seventh-fastest with a top speed of 185.581 mph. It was announced this week that Blaney will pilot the No. 21 Ford part time for Wood Brothers Racing in the Sprint Cup Series next year. Blaney is currently seven points ahead of Sauter in the Truck Series standings. No. 08 Jimmy Weller brought out the first and only caution of the practice when his truck started smoking. Weller finished 20th-fastest with a speed of 179.332 mph. NATIONWIDE SERIES PRACTICE 1 " RESULTS Sam Hornish Jr. kept the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 54 Toyota in a familiar place at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course , topping the opening Nationwide Series practice with a speed of 95.245 mph. Saturday's Nationwide Children's Hospital 200 will mark Hornish's seventh start of the season for JGR. He finished third in last year's race at Mid-Ohio for Team Penske . The rest of the leaderboard was unable to break the 95 mph mark. Regan Smith was closest, with a best speed of 94.609 mph, followed by Chris Buescher . Alex Tagliani , driving the No. 22 Penske Ford, finished the hour-long session in fourth place. Brian Scott rounded out the top five. Current points leader Chase Elliott took 23 laps around the track, the most of any driver in the field, clocking a best lap at 93.602 mph for an 11th-place finish in the session. The No. 20 of Kenny Habul brought out a full-course caution after coming to a stop between Turns 8 and 9. Eleven cars had logged a lap at the time, with Brian Scott holding the fastest speed of 93.171 mph at that time. The caution lasted under five minutes. CAMPING WORLD TRUCK SERIES PRACTICE 2 " RESULTS Kyle Busch topped Friday's final Truck Series practice for the Careers for Veterans 200 at Michigan International Speedway . Busch, who led opening practice, came in with the fastest with a speed of 186.989 mph. Joey Coulter came in as second-fastest at the Irish Hills track posting a speed of 186.587 mph. Darrell Wallace Jr. (186.509 mph), Johnny Sauter (186.080 mph) and former Michigan winner Travis Kvapil (186.032 mph) rounded out the top-five fastest of the final practice session. Tyler Young ran the most laps at 38, posting a top speed of 179.924 mph. Young came in as 21st-fastest. Camping World Truck Series Keystone Light Pole Qualifying will take place Saturday, August 16 at 9:40 a.m. ET with TV coverage on FOX Sports 1. NATIONWIDE SERIES PRACTICE 2 " RESULTS Justin Marks made a surprise appearance at the top of the final practice leaderboard, running a lap of 95.187 mph in the closing minutes of the session. Marks was tenth-fastest in the opening session. Chris Buescher followed his early speed with a lap just shy of Marks', his lap of 95.182 mph holding him in the top spot until Marks' late pace-setting lap. Sam Hornish Jr. , fastest in the earlier session, fell to the third position on the leaderboard after moving into the top spot on his first lap. His earlier speed of 95.245 mph still was the highest of both sessions. Hornish clocked a best lap of 94.798 mph in the second session. Regan Smith , who trailed Hornish earlier in the day, ran 21 laps for a fastest lap of 94.670 mph. Brendan Gaughan rounded out the top five. Points leader Chase Elliott was ninth-fastest, again clocking the most laps in the session with 35. The caution flag came out nearly an hour into practice when the No. 77 of Roger Reuse got off the course in Turns 12 and 13. A second yellow was displayed when Elliott Sadler spun, but lasted just under five minutes. The No. 11 team later reported that the engine blew, and would need to be replaced. His speed of 94.049 mph on his fourth practice lap was the 11th-best on the chart. Qualifying for the Nationwide Series Nationwide Children's Hospital 200 will take place at 9:40 a.m. on Saturday, and will be aired on ESPN2. The race is scheduled for 2:45 p.m. on Saturday, on ESPN. MORE: READ: Latest NASCAR news WATCH: Latest NASCAR video PLAY: NASCAR Fantasy Live FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView
Hornish wins the pole at Mid-Ohio
Tagliani spins out in attempt at fastest lap RELATED : Starting lineup Sam Hornish Jr. earned the Coors Light Pole Award ahead of the Nationwide Children's Hospital 200 with a fastest lap of 1 minute, 24.787 seconds. Hornish was fastest in the opening practice session for the weekend, and his speed hasn't waned since. Alex Tagliani will also start on the front row, with a speed just .305 seconds off Hornish's pace. As the clock wound down, Tagliani looked to earn the pole, but instead spun out into the dirt, requring a tow off the track. Brian Scott was fastest in the first round, but couldn't hold his place atop the leaderboard in the second. He will start third with a lap of 1 minute, 25.092 seconds. As the first round came to a close, Elliott Sadler bumped out Justin Mark s as the clock went to 0, but Marks was still on the track and took the position away from Sadler as he finished his lap. Trevor Bayne also did not advance past the first round. The Nationwide Children's Hopsital 200 is scheduled for 2:45 p.m. ET and will be aired on ESPN. READ MORE: READ: Latest NASCAR news WATCH: Latest NASCAR video PLAY: NASCAR Fantasy Live FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView