Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Koch Continues Consistency At Dover

In 2016 many fans have began to recognize who Blake Koch is. Whether it be his wreck at Talladega with Joey Logano or it be having one of the most consistent runs in the NASCAR Xfinity Series this season. At Dover it was no exception. After being relegated to a 24th place finish 2 weeks before Blake Koch came into Dover with one goal in mind. Conquer the Monster. Miles the Monster that is and well with a 12th place finish Koch did just that. Blake Koch started off the weekend fighting an ill-handling No. 11 LeafFilter Gutter Protection™ Chevrolet Camaro that was 27th and 22nd in both of Friday's practice sessions. Which was unusual for the driver of the #11 but when it came to Race time the #11 team came to take names and kick leafs. The Kaulig Racing™ team went to work overhauling the car's setup to get it ready for Saturday afternoon's Ollie's Bargain Outlet 200. Making some strides, Koch qualified 21st at the "Monster Mile," lining him up 11th in the first Dash 4 Cash heat race. Blake fought a loose race car in the center of the turns to finish 10th in his heat race
and placing him in the 19th place starting position in the main. Continuing to fight an ill-handling car, Koch was eventually put a lap down to the leaders just past the halfway point in the race. Fortunately the first caution period of the day occurred on lap 72, allowing Koch to come down pit road for adjustments. Coming to the attention of his Kaulig Racing™ crew, crew chief Chris Rice made the call for four tires, fuel and a wedge adjustment to try aid in an extremely tight Chevrolet Camaro. Restarting 14th with 44 laps remaining; Koch found himself the first car one lap down and remained there until the caution flag was displayed for the second time on lap 111. Receiving the "free pass," Rice elected to bring Koch down pit road for four tires and fuel. Rejoining the lead lap cars with only 5 laps left in the Ollie's Bargain Outlet 200, Koch rallied to a track-best 12th-place finish to eventual race winner Erik Jones.
"We definitely finished a lot better today than I thought we were originally going to the way this weekend was going. Everybody on the Kaulig Racing™ team worked extremely hard and never quit. Because of that, we ended up with a 12th-place finish. I'm very impressed with my team and what they accomplished this weekend."
Koch will take a week off and set up for a long run of races starting in Charlotte next weekend. Blake Koch has raced at the Charlotte Motor Speedway 3 times in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series with a best finish of 35th in the 2014 Coca-Cola 600. Koch has raced at Charlotte 5 times in the Xfinity Series with an average finish of 29th. I have a feeling Koch will continue to better his results from the past and continue to make gains toward making the chase in 2016. A win is just around the corner for the #11 team and it could come at any of the next races. Koch did almost win last year at Elkhart Lake can it come at the Road Course or will it come earlier? Only time will tell but I am sure Koch will land in victory lane sometime this year. (Koelle,2016)


Sprint All-Star Race and Showdown Entry List

The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series takes a break from the points thing and lay it all out for 1 million dollars. Someone by the end of Saturday night will be a million dollars richer. 20 drivers will be eligible to race on Saturday but first on Friday Night 5 of the best drivers without a win will go into the All Star Race on Saturday Night. Drivers like Ryan Blaney, Chase Elliott, Austin Dillon, and many others will look to lock themselves into the feature on Saturday Night. On Saturday the 20 drivers who will race for 1 million dollars will do one of the wildest qualifying sessions of the year. Here are the entry lists for both the Sprint Showdown and Sprint All-Star Race.

Sprint Showdown Entry List

3 Austin Dillon
6 Trevor Bayne
7 Regan Smith
10 Danica Patrick
13 Casey Mears
15 Clint Bowyer
16 Greg Biffle
17 Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
21 Ryan Blaney
23 David Ragan
24 Chase Elliott
27 Paul Menard
30 Josh Wise
32 Jeffrey Earnhardt
34 Chris Buescher
38 Landon Cassill
42 Kyle Larson
43 Aric Almirola
44 Brian Scott
46 Michael Annett
47 AJ Allmendinger
55 Reed Sorenson
83 Matt DiBenedetto
95 Michael McDowell
98 Cole Whitt

Sprint All-Star Race Entry List 

1 Jamie McMurray
2 Brad Keselowski
4 Kevin Harvick
5 Kasey Kahne
11 Denny Hamlin
14 Tony Stewart
19 Carl Edwards
20 Matt Kenseth
22 Joey Logano
31 Ryan Newman
41 Kurt Busch
48 Jimmie Johnson
75 Kyle Busch
78 Martin Truex Jr.
88 Dale Earnhardt Jr.
TBA - Sprint Showdown First Segment Winner
TBA - Sprint Showdown Second Segment Winner
TBA - Sprint Showdown Third Segment Winner
TBA - Sprint Fan Vote Winner 
TBA - Sprint Fan Vote Runner-Up 

Pinty’s Series News & Notes: CTMP

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Every May there’s a buzz among Canadian race fans when the Clarington 200 gets the season going for the NASCAR Pinty’s Series at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park.

The famous 2.459-mile, 10-turn road course has provided some entertaining races throughout the years and for the sixth consecutive season it will host the opener for NASCAR’s only touring series in Canada.

Last year’s race featured an exciting finish. Gary Klutt, who went on to capture the Josten’s Rookie of the Year, took advantage of Scott Steckly and Andrew Ranger’s off-road excursion on the final turn to earn his first series victory in just his seventh start.

Steckly will not compete at CTMP, he’s decided to focus on the ownership side to start the season, while Ranger will once again be a top contender for the trophy on Sunday.

Another contender on Sunday will be Jason Hathaway. Hathaway equaled Steckly’s series high win mark of three last season and came up just four points shy of scoring his first championship. The St. Thomas, Ontario native won the second stop at CTMP last year – his first career road-course victory.

The rookie of the year race should also be a good one in 2016, with a talented field of 10 rookies scheduled to compete this season.

Among them is Pier-Luc Oullette who finished eighth in the opener last year in his only Pinty’s start of the season and will once again fill in for Alex Tagliani. Another rookie, Kevin Lacroix, scored two wins last year running a partial schedule.

Fast Facts

The Race: The Clarington 200 will be the first of 12 races during the 2016 NASCAR Pinty’s Series championship season. This will be the tour’s 13th all-time visit to the historic road course, and the first of two slated for this year.

The Procedure: The starting field is 32 cars, including provisionals. The first 27 cars will qualify through time trials while the remaining five starting spots will be awarded through the provisional process. The race is scheduled for 51 laps (200 kilometers/125.4 miles).

The Track: The Speedway at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, formerly known as Mosport Speedway, is part of Canada's largest motorsports complex. The 750-acre, multi-track facility is located within the Greater Toronto Area, north of Bowmanville, Ont. CTMP also features the 2.459-mile road course, a 2.4-kilometer advanced driver and race driver training facility and a 1.4-kilometer karting track. The facility opened in 1961 and has hosted stock car, Formula 1 and IndyCar events over the years. Canadian Tire acquired the naming rights to the facility in 2013.

The Records: Andrew Ranger holds the qualifying record at 82.807 seconds, 106.904 mph, set on Aug. 30, 2015.

Clarington 200 Notes

Steckly Fields Contenders in Event: Although he’s not driving this weekend, four-time series champion Scott Steckly will be active at CTMP fielding two cars for drivers. Competing for Steckly this weekend is  Massachusetts native Kaz Grala who has competed in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series in the states for the last year seasons. Calgary, Alberta rookie Brett Taylor will drive the other entry.

Oullette Fills in for Tagliani: Pier-Luc Oullette returns to action at CTMP where he had an impressive eighth-place finish last season. Oullette is filling in for Alex Tagliani who will be attempting to qualify for the Indianapolis 500.

Champions in the Field: Despite Scott Steckly not competing in the Clarington 200, three other former champions will be in the field. Two-time champions D.J. Kennington and Andrew Ranger will be joined by L.P. Dumoulin in the starting lineup.

Americans Coming North: In addition to Kaz Grala, New Jersey driver Mel Shaw and Florida’s Carlos De Quesada will compete this weekend. This will be the most drivers from the United States in a starting field at CTMP since four drivers started a race in 2013.

Rookies Fill Up Field: A total of 10 drivers will start the battle for the Josten’s Rookie of the year award are entered in the Clarington 200. Joining Lacroix, Oullette, De Quesada, Shaw and Brett Taylor will be Josh Collins, Patrick Dussault, Cayden Lapcevich, David Michaud, and Kevin Poitras. (NASCAR Home Tracks)

North Carolina Education Lottery 200 Entry List

The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series heads home this weekend and for the first and only time in 2016 will follow up the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. The NASCAR Sprint Showdown is before the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race. With Johnny Sauter, John Hunter Nemachek, William Byron, and now Matt Crafton locked into the chase drivers like Ryan Truex, Brandon Brown, Ben Rhodes, and many other drivers will look to make their name into the chase at Home. Kasey Kahne, the defending winner is not entered. The only defending winner who is entered is Kyle Busch and Matt Crafton. In fact Kyle Busch has the most wins at Charlotte in the NCWTS. Justin Loftin won his first career victory here in 2012.

Entry List

00 Cole Custer
1 Andy Suess
02 Tyler Young
2 Austin Theriault
4 Christopher Bell
05 John Wes Townley
6 Norm Benning
07 TBA
8 John Hunter Nemechek
9 William Byron
10 Jennifer Jo Cobb
11 Matt Tifft
13 Cameron Hayley
17 Timothy Peters
18 Kyle Busch
19 Daniel Hemric
20 Austin Hill
21 Johnny Sauter
22 Austin Wayne Self
23 Spencer Gallagher
29 Tyler Reddick
30 Jessie Little
33 Ben Kennedy
41 Ben Rhodes
44 Tommy Joe Martins
49 Timmy Hill
50 Travis Kvapil
51 Daniel Suarez
63 Bobby Pierce
66 Jordan Anderson
71 Mike Bliss
75 Caleb Holman
81 Ryan Truex
86 Brandon Brown
88 Matt Crafton
92 Parker Kligerman
98 Rico Abreu
99 Brandon Jones

Mears' Top-13 Run Interrupted by Late Race 18-Car Crash

Dover, DE (May 15, 2016) - Casey Mears and Germain Racing arrived in Dover looking to keep the momentum going from their solid weekend in Kansas. Mears would start 26th at the Monster Mile after qualifying was canceled on Friday, but he only remained there momentarily once the green flag began Sunday's race. Mears immediately moved the No. 13 GEICO Chevrolet SS forward, collecting positions in pairs. He ran in the top-15 for the bulk of the day and was in the 13th position when he was collected in an 18-car crash that occurred with just 46 laps remaining in the 400-lap event. Despite receiving heavy damage and spending 24-laps behind the wall, Mears returned to the racing surface with 22-laps to go and managed to collect a 26th place finish.

"We had a great run today, the kind of day we needed to have, and it was fun to run up front all afternoon. The GEICO Chevy was fast and the Germain Racing crew gained me positions on pit road nearly every stop," Mears said after the race. "I'm not sure what caused me to shoot up  the track like that; my car just took off. Not sure if I had a flat tire or if something broke." He continued, "Today is a race that we will build on as we move forward. Everyone did a good job, the car had speed and we were strong on pit road."

Mears and the Germain Racing team were dealt a bit of a blow when rain blanketed the Dover area on Friday and forced the cancellation of qualifying, leaving them to start Sunday's race from the 26th position. However, final practice on Saturday served as clear indication the GEICO Chevy would have speed come race day, as Mears ended up 20th on the speed charts at its conclusion.

When the green flag turned the field loose for 400-laps of racing on Sunday, Mears immediately began hustling the No. 13 GEICO Chevy around the fast, high-banked oval, passing cars and breaking into the top-20 by lap 10. He ultimately penetrated the top-15 and remained there for the lion's share of the afternoon. While Mears executed on the racetrack, the GEICO pit crew reciprocated on pit road, gaining their driver a position on nearly every pit stop.

Germain Racing seemed poised for a top-10 finish as the race began to wind down, but cars would begin stacking up on the restart that took place with just 46-laps remaining. Jimmie Johnson's No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet had trouble accelerating when the green flag flew, causing cars to begin making contact. Mears was slammed against the inside wall by a group of crashing racecars before being shot up the racetrack and making hard contact with Dale Earnhardt, Jr. When the smoke settled, 18-cars had been involved and Mears had significant damage to the right-front side of the GEICO Chevy, along with heavy damage at the rear of the car.

Mears was forced to pull into the garage where the Germain Racing crew would be able to make repairs in an effort to return the battered Chevy to the race. They worked quickly and effectively, allowing Mears to rejoin the field with 22 laps to go. 24 laps in arrears, the GEICO driver pedaled hard around the one-mile facility and, despite the heavy damage to his car, was able to score a 26th place finish when the checkered flag closed out 400-miles of tight-quarters racing action.

Mears and Germain Racing will now turn their attention to NASCAR's All-Star weekend.

Casey Mears and the No. 13 GEICO Chevrolet SS will hit the track at Charlotte Motor Speedway for the event's sole practice session on Friday, May 20th, at 1:30 PM (ET).
The Sprint Showdown NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race is on Friday, May 20th, and it will be televised live on FS1 beginning at 7:00 PM (ET). The Motor Racing Network (MRN) will carry the live radio broadcast, along with SiriusXM NASCAR Radio, channel 90. (Germain Racing)

Ray Black Jr. Conquers The Monster Mile With A Career-Best Finish

DOVER, Del.  (May 15, 2016) – It was another strong trip to Dover International Speedway for NASCAR XFINITY Series (NXS) driver Ray Black Jr. and his SS Green Light Racing team, as they had the speed they needed right from the start of the weekend. The driver of the No. 07 ScubaLife.com Chevrolet not only captured his career-best NXS starting position but also recorded a new career-best NXS finish when he placed 17th in the Ollie’s Bargain Outlet 200 on Saturday.

Black and the No. 07 ScubaLife Chevrolet were fast right from the beginning of the race weekend, finishing in the Top-25 for both practice sessions. The handling was also spot on this weekend for Black, as only minor changes were needed throughout Friday’s track time.

“The car unloaded so well this weekend!” said Black. “It was bad fast right from the start so I was able to use most of those practice sessions to just get comfortable to the track again and figure out a good rhythm. We really didn’t need to make a lot of changes and were very pleased with how it ran.”

Black would go on to qualify 22nd, putting him in the second heat race on Saturday. During his heat race, the car started to get a little too snug but the team was able to make a pit stop under the only caution of the heat to adjust the rear shock. Black would finish his heat 10th, securing him the 20th place starting position for the main – his best starting spot in his NXS career.

Once the green flag flew on the main, Black worked hard to keep his forward momentum while also dealing with a slightly tighter race car. Despite the handling, Black competed in the Top-20 for the majority of the event, running lap times consistent with the Top-15.

With a caution coming out in the closing laps of the race, Black worked with his crew chief, Jason Miller, to come to the decision to stay out of the pits, giving him the track position in the final 10 laps of the main to secure a 17th place finish. The finish bested Black’s previous career-best result in the NXS, which came at Bristol Motor Speedway when he placed 20th.

“It was just a really great weekend all around for our team!” Black explained. “We had solid practices, qualifying and heat race so to see that continue into the main and result in a career-best finish feels so good. It’s really a cool feeling to visit one of the hardest tracks on the circuit and come out with a new career-best finish. Dover has been good to me so far, and I am really looking forward to returning in October!”

Black and his team will now have a one week break before returning to the track at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Saturday, May 28.

Fans can keep up with Ray Black Jr. by following him and his sponsor, ScubaLife, on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram at @RayBlackJr and @TeamScubaRacing. Learn more about Ray Black Jr. and Team Scuba by visiting www.rayblackjr.com and www.teamscuba.com. (SS Green Light Racing)

Austin Hill Rallies to Finish 17th at Dover International Speedway

Austin Hill, driver of the No. 1 A&D Welding Ford F-150, battled adversary all weekend long to bring home a 17th place finish in Friday’s NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) race at Dover International Speedway.

With unrelenting weather forecasted for the week, Hill aligned his own team, Austin Hill Racing, with Make Motorsports in an effort to be guaranteed a spot in the race in the event Friday’s qualifying session was rained out. The quick thinking prevailed as the grid was set on first practice times with Hill starting in the 26th position.

During Thursday’s practice sessions, the No. 1 truck was unbearably tight for Hill driving through the corners. The team made major adjustments to the truck before Friday’s race and Hill battled an extremely loose handling truck for the majority of the 200-lap race.

“On long runs we’re as good as the 5th and 6th place drivers,” Hill said. “On the short runs in traffic is where we need help; we’re wicked loose, especially on new tires.”

Hill climbed his way through the field, fighting for position to earn the lucky dog spot twice during the course of the race.

Hill rallied in the waning laps of the race after being the lucky dog beneficiary for the second time, ultimately finishing in the 17th position, two laps down. The No.1 was the highest finishing team not on the lead lap.

“Thank you guys for fighting all day long,” Hill said to his team at the conclusion of the race. “Not really what we were looking for coming into this race but we will take it, learn from it and move on to Charlotte.”

Hill’s next NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race will be the NC Education Lottery 200 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Friday, May 20 at 8:30pm ET.(Austin Hill Racing)