Japanese Students Earn NASCAR Opportunity

Japanese Students Earn NASCAR Opportunity

Toyota Technical College Students To Be Busy In Iowa

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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – NASCAR has grown to heights founder Bill France Jr. himself probably couldn’t have even imagined when he brought a group together at the Streamline Hotel in Daytona Beach in 1949 to bring the organization to life.

One example of those unlikely heights is the global reach NASCAR has gained throughout its 60-plus year history and that will be evident this weekend at Iowa Speedway thanks in large part to former driver and current NASCAR team owner Shige Hattori and a partnership with Toyota Motor Corporation.

For the fourth year in a row, Hattori’s team, Hattori Racing Enterprises, is hosting six high-performing college students and three instructors from Toyota Technical College in Japan.

The students are getting an education about the sport of NASCAR at the NASCAR Technical Institute (NTI) in Mooresville, North Carolina. They are preparing to work on Jesse Little’s NASCAR K&N Pro Series East entry in this Friday’s “Thank’s Kenny 125” at Iowa Speedway in Newton, Iowa.

Since the students arrived in North Carolina on July 20, they’ve been taking classes to learn about race cars, working at the HRE shop and practicing pit stops.  The students will serve as the team’s crew in Iowa  and will be actively involved in servicing Little’s No. 1 Yazaki Toyota Camry through practice, qualifying and the race. 

The race will feature a halfway break and a give teams a three-minute opportunity to change tires and make slight modifications to the car.  During that time, the Japanese students will perform all the work on the race car.

For Hattori, this is a dream come true as he wanted to find a way to help bring more attention to NASCAR in his native country and educate new fans — and possibly new crew members — about the sport.

“We’re extremely happy to have these students and instructors here for this opportunity,” Hattori said. “We want this first of all to be a safe and fun experience for them, and we also want to expose them to what I feel is the greatest sport in the world.”

It’s an honor for the participants just to be selected from the Toyota Technical College campuses located in Tokyo, Nagoya and Kobe. Two students out of a pool of around 1,000 per location were selected to participate in the program.

One of the students worked for over a year to earn the opportunity to make the trip. Keisuke Shigemitsu, whose nickname is “Kei,” missed out on the trip last year and one of his main goals was to work hard enough to be selected for this year’s trip.

The 26 year-old student decided to make it a goal to be one of the two students selected at his Tokyo college — and his dream came true a few weeks ago.

“Most of us will go to work at a Toyota dealership in Japan after graduation, but this is an unbelievable experience for us to get to come to the United States and learn about the sport of NASCAR,” Kei said. “This trip has been a dream of mine and it’s been a great experience. We can’t wait to get to Iowa (Speedway) this weekend.”

While the students have been heavily involved in learning about a NASCAR stock car, the trip has also given students opportunities outside the classroom.  

“We want this to be an educational and cultural experience for the students, so they have done much more than just sit in a classroom and practice pit stops over the past week or so,” Hattori added. “We have taken the students to visit places in the area like the NASCAR Hall of Fame, Charlotte Motor Speedway, Bowman Gray Stadium and even Concord Mills Mall.”

Hattori and his team worked hard to make the trip a learning experience not only with technology but also culturally.

“This trip is something that we want the students to never forget and we also want to make sure they are getting the most out of this opportunity, in and out of the classroom, and learn more about this country.”

Hattori said the program wouldn’t be possible without the partnership with NTI. Jack Whitley, an instructor at NTI, has been with the students every day at the school working directly with them and he’s been impressed.

“This week has been a lot of fun with these students,” he said. “What I love about these young men is they don’t know what to do wrong so they are actually more relaxed and have no fear like some of our regular students who are more familiar with NASCAR. They’re very eager to learn and are striving for perfection with everything they’re doing with the race car.”

Naofumi Murakami, who works for Toyota Motor Corporation in Japan and he also made the trip to the United States with the students, is impressed with the program Hattori and NTI have put together.

“This is a great opportunity to give high-performing students an opportunity to learn more about automotive technology,” Murakami said. “Many of these students will eventually go to work at Toyota dealerships or in the automotive business in Japan, and the more opportunities we can give our highest- achieving students the more it will benefit everyone associated with our program.” 

Hattori has been heavily involved in NASCAR since his driving days and has fielded winning cars for NASCAR Next drivers Brett Moffitt and Sergio Pena, in addition to Little. He’s looking at expanding his involvement in national series later this year in addition to his current team participating in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series.

“I drove in the (NASCAR Camping World) Truck Series in 2005 and started my team in 2008,” Hattori said. “Our plan this year is to field a truck in six or seven races, a NASCAR Xfinity Series entry in a couple of events and probably participate in three or four more K&N races before the end of the year.”

But for now the focus will be on six college students who will work hard to help Jesse Little pick up his second career NKNPSE win at Iowa Speedway. 

Kumpen Ready For NASCAR XFINITY Series Debut

Kumpen Ready For NASCAR XFINITY Series Debut

Defending NWES Champion Eager To Make Further Step In NASCAR Career

Friday’s 9:30 pm CET (3:30 pm ET) first practice session for the U.S. Cellular 250 at Iowa Speedway will mark Anthony Kumpen’s debut in the NASCAR XFINITY Series. The defending NASCAR Whelen Euro Series champion will drive the #15 Chevrolet Camaro fielded by Rick Ware Racing.

Kumpen is poised to take this new step of his NASCAR career in the context of the Nexteer Road To Daytona program.

“It will be a first under many aspects. The competitive level is incredibly high, it will be my longest NASCAR race ever, there will be plenty of action and I will also make my first pit-stop ever on oval. Definitely a lot to learn, but I’m really looking forward to it,” said the 36-year-old Hasselt-native, who will also take part in the last two races of the NASCAR XFINITY Series calendar at Phoenix and Homestead in November. “I want to log as many miles as possible. Finishing the race would be positive to gain as much experience as possible.”

The Belgian had a first taste of his 3450 lbs, 650hp NASCAR XFINITY Series car Wednesday in a test that left him eager to get back behind the wheel on the 3/4-mile long banked oval in Newton, Iowa.

“I like the feeling I had with the car and the tires during this brief test. It has a lot of power and a very good throttle response, while being heavier than what we’re used to in Europe. Feeling the car in the corners is fundamental,” continued Kumpen.

The U.S. Cellular 250 will be the first national series race of the Nexteer Road To Daytona program, the joint venture between NASCAR Whelen Euro Series and Nexteer Automotive giving top NWES drivers the chance to compete in the US.

“Just being here is a fantastic opportunity and it’s thanks NASCAR Whelen Euro Series, Nexteer and my sponsors Leaseplan, EL Systems and Keupers Tankstations. This is really special to me.”

The U.S. Cellular 250 is scheduled August 1st at 8 pm ET (2 am CET) and will be broadcasted live on NBCSN. Qualifying will take place on the same day at 4:45 pm ET (8:45 pm CET).

Young Stars Shine Under Bright Lights

Young Stars Shine Under Bright Lights

Byron, Bickford Lead NASCAR Next Contingent To Iowa

The East will take on the West Friday under the lights at Iowa Speedway, with two of NASCAR K&N Series’ top contenders on one track in the second and final combination race of the season.

Both 17-year-old NASCAR Next drivers coming off big wins in their respective series, as the East’s William Byron and West’s James Bickford lead a strong continent of young talent in a race to victory in the Thanks Kenny 150 – a tribute to Kenny Wallace who makes his record 547th and final NASCAR XFINITY Series start Saturday in Iowa.

Prior Iowa pole-sitter Byron feels confident coming out of his latest win in New Hampshire – his fourth in just eight season starts.

“I feel really good about Iowa,” said the 17-year-old leading contender for Sunoco Rookie of the Year. “Our team is just excited to get out there and have another shot at the win.”

Byron isn’t the only one feeling poised for victory in this Friday’s combo event, as Bickford takes the track following his second consecutive win at Idaho’s Stateline Speedway. In a powerful career performance, Bickford led 151 of 157 laps for the victory – his second K&N West win in his 21st start.

“Not only do we have the momentum from Stateline Speedway, but we’re really confident in our car,” said Bickford. “It’s a win-only situation for us, and we’re going to do everything we can to come home with a victory. Our strategy is on winning the West, but we want to go out and get the win overall.”

The two are among eight NASCAR Next drivers who will be racing Friday at Iowa. Saturday’s NASCAR XFINITY Series race will include NASCAR Next driver Dylan Lupton, as well as alum Ryan Blaney, Chase Elliott, Erik Jones, Ben Rhodes, Daniel Suarez and Darrell Wallace Jr.

DOWNLOAD GRAPHIC: NASCAR NEXT UPDATE

With a needle-like focus on qualifying, Bickford said track position is key in a race like Iowa.

“It’s the hardest race of the year to win,” said the 2014 K&N Pro Series West Rookie of the Year. “The competition overall is going to be crazy. Everyone’s been working hard, but so have we. And if we qualify like we did before, we have a really good shot at the overall win.”

Bickford said to expect a stronger performance out of the West than compared to the season’s first faceoff in May. But the competition comes from both directions, as Byron continues to defy odds in an impressive K&N Pro Series East rookie season – a streak he attributes to more than just beginner’s luck.

“Everything’s new to the team – it’s my first year in the series and its Kevin’s first year as crew chief,” he said. “We’ve both tried new things and it’s been working for us. We’re not afraid to try something different and I think that will make us better.”

TUNE-IN: NASCAR K&N PRO SERIES EAST/WEST
Race:  Thanks Kenny 150 at Iowa Speedway, Newton, Iowa
Date:  Friday, July 31, 8 p.m. CT
Telecast:  Aug. 6, 2:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN

nknps-iowa_preview_james-bickford_073015

James Bickford is looking to join Michael Self (2013) and Brandon McReynolds (2015) as NASCAR K&N Pro Series West drivers to take first overall in the combination race at Iowa Speedway Friday. Getty Images for NASCAR

K&N Pro Series Stat Advance: Iowa

K&N Pro Series Stat Advance: Iowa

Analyzing The #ThanksKenny 150 At Iowa Speedway

 DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – The NASCAR K&N Pro Series East and NASCAR K&N Pro Series West head to Iowa Speedway Friday for the final combination race at the Newton, Iowa track this season. Below is a statistical look at the recent performance of the series and selected drivers at Iowa, as well as some other statistical trends.

Iowa Race Setup:
• William Byron is pulling away in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East standings with 331 points. Austin Hill is the closet to him with 302 and Scott Heckert is third at 298. Rookies Kyle Benjamin and Dalton Sargeant round out the top-five with 288 and 285 points, respectively.
• Chris Eggleston leads the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West standings by one point over rookie Noah Gragson (274-273). Rookies Gracin Raz and Ryan Partridge follow very closely with 271 and 267 points, respectively. Veteran David Mayhew completes the top-five with 261 points.
• Brandon McReynolds was the overall winner in this year’s first K&N Pro Series combination event in May. Byron, the East winner, will be looking for redemption after being overtaken by McReynolds on a restart with eight laps to go.

At Iowa Speedway:
History
• Designed by NASCAR Hall of Famer Rusty Wallace, the .875-mile asphalt tri-oval was patterned after Richmond (Va.) International Raceway. The first race was held in September 2006.
• The first NASCAR sanctioned race was May 2007, as NASCAR K&N Pro Series East-West combination event won by a 17-year-old Joey Logano.
• The 12 East-West combination events at Iowa have produced 12 different race winners and 12 different pole winners.

Notebook
• Iowa held one East-West combination race each season from 2007-2011 and has had two each year since 2012.
• The K&N Pro Series West had a standalone event at the track in September 2009 won by David Mayhew.
• The #ThanksKenny 150 will be telecast on NBCSN Thursday, August 6 at 2:30 p.m.
• Kyle Busch and Cole Custer are the only driver to win the East-West combination race at Iowa from the pole. Chase Elliot started the furthest back and won, coming from 15th on the grid in May 2012.
• The most cautions for an East-West combination event is 11 in June 2013 while the fewest is four in May 2009 and August 2014. The most caution laps (68) came in the inaugural 2007 event and the fewest was 24 on May 2009 and August 2014.
• In the 12 combination events, the lead has changed hands an average of 6.08 times with a high of 18 in the 200-lap May 2007 race.
• The average starting position for the winner is fifth while the pole sitter has an average finish of 8.25.
• Three of the 12 east-West combination races at Iowa were extended by a late race caution for a green-white-checkered finish, the last occurring in 2013.
• Chevrolet has gone to Victory Lane in seven East-West events at Iowa, while Toyota has four wins and Ford has one.

Iowa Data:
Race: #9 of 14 – East; #8 of 13 – West
Track Layout: .875-mile asphalt tri-oval
Race Length: 150 laps (131.25 miles)
Banking/Turns: 12-14 degrees
Banking/Frontstretch: 10 degrees
Banking/Backstretch: Four degrees

Iowa Qualifying/Race Data:
2014 Race Winner: Brandon Jones, Chevrolet, 89.556 mph (1 hour, 27 minutes, 56 seconds).
2014 Pole Winner: Jesse Little, Chevrolet, 131.893 mph (23.883 seconds).
1-Lap Qualifying Record: Kyle Busch, 135.484 (23.250 seconds), May 2009.
150-Lap Race Record: Ben Rhodes, Chevrolet, 93.287 mph (1 hour, 24 minutes, 25 seconds).

Iowa Leaders:
Overall Combination Race Wins
Kyle Busch … 1
Cole Custer … 1
Chase Elliott … 1
Max Gresham … 1
Brian Ickler … 1
Brandon Jones … 1
Corey LaJoie … 1
Joey Logano … 1
Brandon McReynolds … 1
Brett Moffitt … 1
Michael Self … 1
Ben Rhodes … 1

Overall Combination Race Pole Wins
Anderson Bowen … 1
Kyle Busch … 1
William Byron … 1
Cale Conley … 1
Cole Custer … 1
Matt DiBenedetto … 1
Austin Dillon … 1
Kevin Harvick … 1
Brodie Kostecki … 1
Jesse Little … 1
David Mayhew … 1
Brett Moffitt … 1

Combination Race Laps Completed
Greg Pursley … 1,610
Eddie MacDonald … 1,543
David Mayhew … 1,517
Daryl Harr … 1,269
Eric Holmes … 1,092

Combination Race Laps Led
Brett Moffitt … 287
Cole Custer … 234
Kyle Busch … 168
Ben Rhodes … 140
Corey LaJoie … 134

Selected Driver Highlights:
Rico Abreu (No. 98 Accudoc Solutions/Go-Pro Motorplex/Curb Records Chevrolet)

• Is ranked ninth in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East championship standings with one win and five top-10 finishes.
• Earned his first K&N Pro Series East victory at Columbus (Ohio) Motor Speedway on July 4, 2015.
• Finished 30th overall (18th in the East) at his first series start at Iowa Speedway.
• Is a member of the 2015-16 NASCAR Next class.

Ronnie Bassett Jr. (No. 04 Bassett Gutters Ford)
• Is ranked 11th in the East standings after recording two top-five and three top-ten finishes.
• In three starts at Iowa he has finished eighth (2014), 18th (2014) and second (2015).
• Tied his best career finish in May 2015 when he finished second in the East. (He finished third overall).

Nicole Behar (No. 33 Custom Welding & Fabrication Inc. Toyota)
• Is ranked 10th in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West standings after registering two top fives and five top 10s.
• In her only start at Iowa (May 2015) she finished 21st overall and ninth in the West.
• Is a member of the 2015-16 NASCAR Next class.

Kyle Benjamin (No. 72 Eibach Ford)
• Is ranked fourth in the East standings after racking up one win, three top fives and four top 10s.
• Earned his first win at Tennessee’s Bristol Motor Speedway on April 18, 2015.
• In two starts at Iowa he has placed 14th (2014) and sixth (2015) in the East.
• He finished 9th overall at the May K&N Pro Series combination event.
• Is a member of the 2015-16 NASCAR Next class.

James Bickford (No. 6 Sunrise Ford/Interstate Plastics/Lucas Oil Ford)
• Is ranked sixth in the West standings after earning one win, three top-five and five top-10 finishes.
• Earned his first win of 2015 at the Stateline Speedway on July 11.
• In three starts at Iowa he has finished fourth (twice in 2014) and 10th (2015) in the West.
• Finished 24th overall at the May East-West event.
• Is a member of the 2015-16 NASCAR Next class.

William Byron (No. 9 Liberty University Chevrolet)
• Is leading the East standings after racking up four wins, five top fives and six top 10s.
• In his first start at Iowa in May he finished second overall and first in the East.
• Is a member of the 2015-16 NASCAR Next class.

Nick Drake (No. 15 Carlyle Tools Toyota)
• Is ranked seventh in the East after tallying one top-five and five top-10 finishes.
• In three starts at Iowa he has finished second (2014), 13th (2014) and 11th (2015) in the East.
• Placed 18th overall at the May East-West event.
• He has an average start of ninth at the .875-mile oval.

Chris Eggleston (No. 99 H20 Fire Protection/NAPA Auto Care Toyota)
• Leads the West standings after recording two wins, four top-five and five top-10 finishes.
• In two starts at Iowa he has finished fifth (2014 and 2015) in the West.
• Finished 15th overall in the May 2015 K&N Pro Series combination event.

Kaz Grala (No. 3 OzLink Toyota)
• Is ranked eighth in the East standings after registering three top fives and five top 10s.
• In three starts at Iowa he has finished 22nd (2014), eighth (2014) and 17th (2015) in the East.
• Finished 29th overall in the May 2015 K&N Pro Series combination event.

Noah Gragson (No. 7 Alert ID/Colliers International Ford)
• Is ranked second in the West standings after earning one win, four top fives and six top 10s.
• In his only start at Iowa Speedway (2015) he finished third in the West and seventh overall.

JJ Haley (No. 5 Braun Auto Chevrolet)
• Is ranked 10th in the East standings after tallying two top fives and five top 10s.
• In two starts at Iowa he has placed 20th (2014) and fourth (2015).
• He placed sixth overall in the K&N Pro Series combination event in May.

Scott Heckert (No. 34 Project Lifesaver Chevrolet)
• Is ranked third in the East standings after recording one win, five top fives and six top 10s.
• In five starts at Iowa he has finished 18th (twice 2013), third (2014) and fifth (2014 and 2015).
• He placed eighth overall in the May combination event.
• Has an average finish of 9.8 and an average start of 9.6 at Iowa.

Austin Hill (A&D Welding Ford)
• Is ranked second in the East standings after registering one win, three top fives and seven top 10s.
• In five starts at Iowa, he has finished 23rd (2013), 17th (2013), ninth (2014), 25th (2014) and seventh (2015).
• Finished 10th overall at the May East-West combination event.
• Has an average finish of 16.2 and an average start of 9.8 at Iowa.
• Is a member of the 2015-16 NASCAR Next class.

Jesse Little (No. 1 Hattori Toyota)
• Is ranked 22nd in the East standings with only three starts and one top-five finish.
• Has six starts at Iowa and has placed 18th (2012), 14th (2013), fourth (2013), 16th (2014), 10th (2014) and third (2015).
• At the May East-West event he finished fourth overall.
• Won the pole award at Iowa in August 2014.
• Has an average finish of 10.83 and an average start of 8.16 at Iowa.
• Is a member of the 2015-16 NASCAR Next class.

David Mayhew (No. 17 MMI Racing/Ron’s Rear Ends/Pour House Chevrolet)
• Is ranked fifth in the West standings after recording one win, three top-five and five top-10 finishes.
• In 11 combination events at Iowa, he has won three for the West.
• Won a stand-alone event at Iowa in September 2009.
• His average finish is 5.66 and an average start of 3.5 at Iowa.
• Finished 11th overall and fourth in the West at Iowa in May.

Brandon McReynolds (No. 16 NAPA Auto Parts Toyota)
• Is ranked ninth in the West after tallying one win and four top 10s.
• In three starts at Iowa he has finished 14th (2014), third (2014) and first (2015).
• Earned his first series win at Iowa in May at the East-West event.

Ryan Partridge (No. 91 Sunrise Ford/Lucas Oil/Eibach Ford)
• Is ranked fourth in the West standings after earning four top-five and six top-10 finishes.
• In his only start at Iowa, May 2015, he finished eighth in the West and 20th overall.

Gracin Raz (No. 27 Montana Tech Ford)
• Is ranked third in the West after recording four top fives and six top 10s.
• In his only start at Iowa (2015) he finished seventh in the West and 17th overall.

Alex Schutte (No. 21 Proficio Chevrolet)
• Is ranked seventh in the West standings after earning six top-10 finishes.
• In his only start at Iowa (May 2015) he finished sixth in the West and 16th overall.

Johnny White (No. 31 MMI Services/Ron Rear’s Ends Chevrolet)
• Is ranked eighth in the West after tallying one top-five and four top 10s.
• In his only start at Iowa (May 2015) he finished 15th in the West and 35th overall.

Zacharias Brothers Lead Empire State

Zacharias Brothers Lead Empire State

Rocco, Pulliam, Preece Top Whelen All-American Series Points

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — This has been a banner season for asphalt modified drivers, but it’s not just Southern New Englanders enjoying success. A pair of western New York brothers are doing their own part to make this the year of the modifieds.

As of the latest NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Division I rankings, four of the top eight in the nation pilot asphalt modifieds, topped by leader Keith Rocco.

NATIONAL TOP 500 STANDINGS  |  STATE/PROVINCE TOP 20 STANDINGS

Candor, New York’s Jimmy Zacharias checks in at No. 7 this week. His younger brother, T.J., ranks 38th. They also sit first and third, respectively, in the NASCAR New York state standings.

The brothers actually ranked 1-2 in the Empire State points last week, and T.J. was 28th overall, but he decided to skip racing this past Saturday to rest his recently-broken wrist. He wasn’t idle the entire week, however, as he raced on Friday night at the family’s home track, Chemung (N.Y.) Speedrome.

There have been 10 modified division features at the unique .375-mile oval in New York’s Southern Tier. Jimmy has won six, T.J. the other four. The night T.J. broke his wrist in a heat race accident, he bandaged it up, went out and won the feature, then went to the emergency room.

Jimmy has also branched out to Holland (N.Y.) Motorsports Complex this year with the expressed goal of adding a second New York title. His first came in 2013 built on success at Chemung.

“Our expectations are being met at the moment,” Jimmy said. “Winning the state title was the goal from the start, but mow that we’re starting to get a little closer, we’re setting our sights on hopefully a top-three finish in the nation.”

A four-time track titlist at Chemung, Jimmy is now in the running to take home a first track title this year at Holland.

“I didn’t have much experience there before going into the full season there this year,” Jimmy said. “I didn’t start out focused on the Holland title, I started running there for state and national points, but we started winning races there and put us in the championship hunt.”

Jimmy currently ranks second to Tommy Catalano at the .375-mile Holland oval by the count of 252-235. He’s notched two wins so far in the Getzoni Nationwide Insurance Pro Modified Division.

While Jimmy already has a resume of success, T.J. is just now starting to come into his own as a driver after serving on his brother’s team in a crew role.

“I had never won a B-Modified or Sunoco Modified race at Chemung until this year, and so far I’ve got four of them,” T.J. said. “So, so far-so good.”

So far so good, but not without the aforementioned adversity. T.J. had his wrist placed in a cast the night he broke it, competed at Holland the following evening, then had surgery to install two plates and 10 screws last Thursday. With medical clearance he toughed it out for Friday’s 75-lapper at Chemung to stay up in points, but took Saturday off from Holland.

The rest of the way T.J.’s realistic goal is to stay in contention to get the family atop the standings.

“Right now we’re trying to do 1-2 at Chemung for me and Jimmy and hopefully we can also pull off first and second for the state,” T.J. said.

The goals are on track. At Chemung Jimmy leads with 739 points to T.J.’s 689 while in the New York standings Jimmy is first at 526 and T.J. has 352 in third with Matt Sheppard now between them at 357.

Rocco (New London-Waterford Speedbowl, Stafford Motor Speedway, Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park) remains atop the standings for the seventh consecutive week with 642 points. Lee Pulliam (Caraway, Langley, Motor Mile and South Boston Speedways) moved from third to second at 603 while Ryan Preece (Riverhead Raceway, Stafford, Thompson) slipped one spot to third at 599.

Rookie Thomas Tillison Jr. (Flint Creek & Salina Highbanks Speedways) ascended two spots this week to fourth followed by Kres VanDyke (Kingsport Speedway, Lonesome Pine Raceway) in fifth. Matt Bowling (Caraway, Langley, Motor Mile, South Boston), Zacharias, Ted Christopher (New London-Waterford, Stafford, Thompson), Greg Atkins (Airborne Park & Devil’s Bowl Speedways) and Zeke Shell (Kingsport, Lonesome Pine) round out the top 10.

The Whelen All-American Series points season will run through Sunday, Sept. 20.

The top three in the national standings, as well as state and province champions, track champions, top finishers in the Div. II-V and special award winners, will be honored at the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Awards in December.

Established in 1982, the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series is NASCAR’s national championship program for weekly short track auto racing. In all, 58 paved and dirt tracks throughout the United States and Canada participate.

Connecticut-based Whelen Engineering is the series’ title sponsor. Whelen Engineering is a leading manufacturer of automotive, aviation, industrial and emergency vehicle lighting. NASCAR tracks and pace cars across North America are among the many showcases for Whelen products.

K&N Pro Series News & Notes: Iowa

K&N Pro Series News & Notes: Iowa

McReynolds Looks To Sweep At Iowa Speedway

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – If Brandon McReynolds ends up in Victory Lane this weekend with a season sweep at Iowa Speedway, he’ll make history as the track’s first repeat winner.

Since 2007, the first year the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East and West ran at Iowa, no driver has captured the overall win more than once.

McReynolds earned his first NASCAR victory in the Casey’s General Store 150 on May 16, this season’s first of two annual combination races between the K&N East and West at the .875-mile oval.

He led twice for 22 laps, including the final eight, to take the victory from K&N East points leader William Byron. In doing so, he became the second West driver in 12 races to win the combination race at Iowa.

McReynolds better watch out, Bryon will be looking for redemption. Bryon led a race-high 128 laps and finished runner-up after being beaten on a restart by McReynolds in May. A win by Byron will make it two consecutive wins for the K&N Sunoco Rookie of the Year contender.

RACE Thanks Kenny 150
PLACE Iowa Speedway, Newton, Iowa
DATE Friday, July 31
TIME 8 p.m.
TV SCHEDULE NBCSN, Thursday, August 6, 2:30 p.m.
TRACK LAYOUT .875-mile paved oval
2014 WINNER Brandon Jones (East), Greg Pursley (West)
2014 POLE SITTER Jesse Little (East), David Mayhew (West)
EVENT SCHEDULE Garage opens: 9 a.m.; Practice: 11 a.m.–12:30 p.m.; Final Practice: 1:30-2:30 p.m.; Driver Autograph Session: 3:15-4:15 p.m.; Qualifying: 5 p.m.; Driver Introductions: 7:30 p.m.
TRACK CONTACT Edward Williams, (641) 791-8038, ewilliams@iowaspeedway.com
TWITTER @iowaspeedway
EVENT HASHTAG #ThanksKenny150
NASCAR IMC CONTACT Brooke Franceschini, (386) 631-6142, bfranceschini@nascar.com, @BrookeFran04

*All times are local and subject to change

RACE CENTRAL LIVE

FAST FACTS:

The Race:
The Thanks Kenny 150 marks the 13th NASCAR K&N Pro Series East-West combination race at Iowa Speedway, and the final event at the track in 2015. It’s the ninth of 14 races overall on the 2015 K&N East schedule, and the seventh of 13 races overall in the K&N West.

The Procedure: The race will be run in two segments with a five minute break at or near the conclusion of Lap 75. The starting field is 36 cars, including provisionals. The first 28 cars will qualify through two-lap time trials. The remaining eight spots will be awarded through the provisional process. Note: Each driver will be credited with a finish and points respective to the series they’ve designated.

The Track: Iowa Speedway is a .875-mile paved oval with the turns banked 12-14 degrees, four degrees of banking in the backstretch and 10 degrees in the frontstretch. The track opened in 2006 and the first NASCAR sanctioned race was a K&N Pro Series combination event on May 20, 2007 won by Joey Logano. NASCAR XFINITY and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series events were added in 2009.

The Records: The one-lap series qualifying record at Iowa was established by Kyle Busch on May 17, 2009 at 135.484 mph (23.250 seconds). The 150-lap race record was set by Ben Rhodes on May 17, 2014 at 93.287 mph (1 hour, 24 minutes, 25 seconds).

IOWA SPEEDWAY RACE NOTES:

Past Champions at Iowa:
Three drivers in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East have won at Iowa Speedway and then gone on to win the championship that same year, Joey Logano (2007), Dylan Kwasniewski (2013) and Ben Rhodes (2014). Only two drivers have achieved the feat in the K&N Pro Series West, Greg Pursley (2011, 2014) and Kwasniewski (2012).

Oldest Record in The East: Of the tracks on the 2015 K&N East schedule, Iowa Speedway has the oldest qualifying record. It was set by NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Kyle Busch on May 17, 2009.

Hutchens Pulling Double Duty: Trey Hutchens will be competing in two NASCAR Touring Series events this weekend. He will run in the K&N Pro Series East’s Thanks Kenny 150 on Friday and then head to North Carolina’s famed Bowman Gray Stadium to compete in Saturday’s NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour race.

Pole Sitter Slump Coming to an End? Prior to the May K&N Pro Series combination event, only two pole sitters have gone on to earn the win, Kyle Busch (2009) and Cole Custer (2013). In May, both victors, Brandon McReynolds and William Byron, earned the pole award in his respective series.

Chevrolet Still Dominating the Competition: Despite McReynolds’ winning in with his Toyota in May, Chevrolet is still ahead of the competition at Iowa Speedway. Chevrolet has won seven of the 12 combination events, while Toyota has earned four and Ford has tallied one.

K&N Pro Series News & Notes: Iowa

K&N Pro Series News & Notes: Iowa

McReynolds Looks To Sweep At Iowa Speedway

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – If Brandon McReynolds ends up in Victory Lane this weekend with a season sweep at Iowa Speedway, he’ll make history as the track’s first repeat winner.

Since 2007, the first year the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East and West ran at Iowa, no driver has captured the overall win more than once.

McReynolds earned his first NASCAR victory in the Casey’s General Store 150 on May 16, this season’s first of two annual combination races between the K&N East and West at the .875-mile oval.

He led twice for 22 laps, including the final eight, to take the victory from K&N East points leader William Byron. In doing so, he became the second West driver in 12 races to win the combination race at Iowa.

McReynolds better watch out, Bryon will be looking for redemption. Bryon led a race-high 128 laps and finished runner-up after being beaten on a restart by McReynolds in May. A win by Byron will make it two consecutive wins for the K&N Sunoco Rookie of the Year contender.

RACE Thanks Kenny 150
PLACE Iowa Speedway, Newton, Iowa
DATE Friday, July 31
TIME 8 p.m.
TV SCHEDULE NBCSN, Thursday, August 6, 2:30 p.m.
TRACK LAYOUT .875-mile paved oval
2014 WINNER Brandon Jones (East), Greg Pursley (West)
2014 POLE SITTER Jesse Little (East), David Mayhew (West)
EVENT SCHEDULE Garage opens: 9 a.m.; Practice: 11 a.m.–12:30 p.m.; Final Practice: 1:30-2:30 p.m.; Driver Autograph Session: 3:15-4:15 p.m.; Qualifying: 5 p.m.; Driver Introductions: 7:30 p.m.
TRACK CONTACT Edward Williams, (641) 791-8038, ewilliams@iowaspeedway.com
TWITTER @iowaspeedway
EVENT HASHTAG #ThanksKenny150
NASCAR IMC CONTACT Brooke Franceschini, (386) 631-6142, bfranceschini@nascar.com, @BrookeFran04

*All times are local and subject to change

RACE CENTRAL LIVE

FAST FACTS:

The Race:
The Thanks Kenny 150 marks the 13th NASCAR K&N Pro Series East-West combination race at Iowa Speedway, and the final event at the track in 2015. It’s the ninth of 14 races overall on the 2015 K&N East schedule, and the seventh of 13 races overall in the K&N West.

The Procedure: The race will be run in two segments with a five minute break at or near the conclusion of Lap 75. The starting field is 36 cars, including provisionals. The first 28 cars will qualify through two-lap time trials. The remaining eight spots will be awarded through the provisional process. Note: Each driver will be credited with a finish and points respective to the series they’ve designated.

The Track: Iowa Speedway is a .875-mile paved oval with the turns banked 12-14 degrees, four degrees of banking in the backstretch and 10 degrees in the frontstretch. The track opened in 2006 and the first NASCAR sanctioned race was a K&N Pro Series combination event on May 20, 2007 won by Joey Logano. NASCAR XFINITY and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series events were added in 2009.

The Records: The one-lap series qualifying record at Iowa was established by Kyle Busch on May 17, 2009 at 135.484 mph (23.250 seconds). The 150-lap race record was set by Ben Rhodes on May 17, 2014 at 93.287 mph (1 hour, 24 minutes, 25 seconds).

IOWA SPEEDWAY RACE NOTES:

Past Champions at Iowa:
Three drivers in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East have won at Iowa Speedway and then gone on to win the championship that same year, Joey Logano (2007), Dylan Kwasniewski (2013) and Ben Rhodes (2014). Only two drivers have achieved the feat in the K&N Pro Series West, Greg Pursley (2011, 2014) and Kwasniewski (2012).

Oldest Record in The East: Of the tracks on the 2015 K&N East schedule, Iowa Speedway has the oldest qualifying record. It was set by NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Kyle Busch on May 17, 2009.

Hutchens Pulling Double Duty: Trey Hutchens will be competing in two NASCAR Touring Series events this weekend. He will run in the K&N Pro Series East’s Thanks Kenny 150 on Friday and then head to North Carolina’s famed Bowman Gray Stadium to compete in Saturday’s NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour race.

Pole Sitter Slump Coming to an End? Prior to the May K&N Pro Series combination event, only two pole sitters have gone on to earn the win, Kyle Busch (2009) and Cole Custer (2013). In May, both victors, Brandon McReynolds and William Byron, earned the pole award in his respective series.

Chevrolet Still Dominating the Competition: Despite McReynolds’ winning in with his Toyota in May, Chevrolet is still ahead of the competition at Iowa Speedway. Chevrolet has won seven of the 12 combination events, while Toyota has earned four and Ford has tallied one.

NASCAR: Is The Brickyard 400 Still Marquee Relevant?

The youth today have far too many avenues of consuming media for NASCAR to relax it's efforts. It's time to double down.

The youth today have far too many avenues of consuming media for NASCAR to relax it’s efforts. It’s time to double down.

The bottom line is that the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is simply just another racing track. It has an undisputed storied history, but auto racing is one of those rare sports that exist solely in the moment. The here and now.

Take the marketing hype that created the sentiment off the table for a moment. Particularly for NASCAR.

How many people were in the stands? In a cavernous venue such as IMS, it looked empty even though it probably had 70,000 fans in the stands. In days past that figure was close to 200,000.

Yes it’s now in it’s third decade and will still be run, as it should, but it just doesn’t have the cache’ it once had. How do you polish this once shiny apple when almost every venue NASCAR visits faces the same problem?

Attendance in all forms of motor sport are down in double digits globally. Why? The answer isn’t so simple and it’s more than just one issue. No matter how anyone chooses to spin it, the economy is at the top of the list. It’s bad from Daytona to Oom Baba Mau Mau. That’s that.

Secondly, the television figures are down, year over year, for NASCAR, IndyCar, Formula One, NHRA and IMSA. How is that?

We are moving at an incredible rate towards too many choices and too many alternative forms of entertainment that auto racing has to face in the modern digital era.

An exciting finish and brilliant win for Kyle Busch. Empty seats are evident at the checkered flag.

An exciting finish and brilliant win for Kyle Busch. Empty seats are evident at the checkered flag.

Bruce Springsteen said it best in his famous musical lamentation, “57 Channels and There’s Nuthin On”. It was true in the late 70’s and throughout the 1980’s, only now it’s 1,057 channels and everything is on.

The clamoring for attention and the focus of each demographic has diluted the once strong and growing world of auto racing.

Case in point: “Dating Naked”? I sit back in astonishment wondering how most of these shows actually get funded. If that’s the competition, we’re doomed.

Millennials many times, probably more often than not, don’t bother with the traditional networks, they simply sit staring hypnotically at their laptops soaking up the offerings of Netflix, Hulu and God knows what else….but we can probably guess.

That’s just the truth and they are the future potential fans. Only the new, young up and coming drivers will be able to change this malaise and that’s a tall order. Every driver, crew member and concession vendor will have to be tweeting, posting, inst-grab-assing and participating in every form of digital-social interaction they possibly can.

That’s still not enough. NASCAR, to their credit is walking the unenviable tight-rope of having to keep the die hard fans engaged while trying to attract the young viewers attention. They are the future.

Despite the tinkering and wholesale rule changes NASCAR is making a truly concerted effort, whether it works or doesn’t. It didn’t really change much this past weekend at The Brickyard, but seemed to have the cars passing at the turn’s entry rather than on the straight. The results didn’t really change.

One more time: Less down-force. More drag didn’t pan out in Indy.

Improving the product, socially telling everyone from everyone and promotion to all of the demographics are going to be necessary. But one thing is certain, NASCAR needs the youth to replace us older viewers. It is simply a fact that the boomers are aging and passing on.

Funny thing about life, No one get’s out alive.

 

 

 

PIT BOX: Iowa Combo, Part II

PIT BOX: Iowa Combo, Part II

Big Ticket Week Also Includes Bowman Gray, Trois-Rivieres

WHAT TO WATCH FOR

• The NASCAR K&N Pro Series East and K&N Pro Series West will reconvene for the second and final combination race of the year at Iowa Speedway this Friday. The West’s Brandon McReynolds came out on top in a race-long battle waged with polesitter William Byron from the East for his first career NASCAR victory in this year’s first edition back in May. Byron has won two of the last three East races and brings a sizeable points lead to Iowa while Chris Eggleston leads Noah Gragson by a single tally in the West standings. The race name – the Thanks Kenny 150 – is a tribute to Kenny Wallace, who will make his record 547th and final NASCAR XFINITY Series start on Saturday at Iowa.
• The NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour heads to Bowman Gray Stadium this week where hometown favorites and brothers Jason and Burt Myers enter the weekend first and second in the standings. Both drivers have won in previous seasons at Bowman Gray and will look to remain atop the standings this weekend. NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour drivers Eric Goodale and Ryan Preece also plan on making the trip south for the race.
• One of the marquee dates on the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series presented by Mobil 1 calendar is on tap for this weekend as the series headlines the Grand Prix de Trois-Rivieres with the JuliaWine.com Le 50 Tours. The annual street course event in downtown Trois-Rivieres, Quebec, was won last year by hometown favorite and eventual series champion L.P. Dumoulin. Scott Steckly brings the points lead into the event and last week’s winner, Andrew Ranger, is a four-time victor at Circuit de Trois-Rivieres.

 

ON TRACK

NASCAR K&N PRO SERIES WEST
Race:  Thanks Kenny 150 at Iowa Speedway, Newton, Iowa
Date:  Friday, July 31, 8 p.m. CT
Telecast:  Aug. 6, 2:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN
Twitter:  #ThanksKenny150, #KNEast, #KNWest, @iowaspeedway
RACE CENTRAL LIVE

 

NASCAR WHELEN SOUTHERN MODIFIED TOUR
Race:  Strutmasters.com 199 at Bowman Gray Stadium, Winston-Salem, N.C.
Date:  Saturday, Aug. 1, 8:40 p.m. ET
Telecast:  Aug. 7, 2:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN
Twitter:  #Strutmasters199, #NWSMT, @BGSRacing
RACE CENTRAL LIVE

 

NASCAR CANADIAN TIRE SERIES PRES. BY MOBIL 1
Race:  JuliaWine.com Le 50 Tours at Circuit de Trois-Rivieres (Que.)
Date:  Sunday, Aug. 2, 2:10 p.m. ET
Telecast:  Live on RDS2; Aug. 15, 1:30 p.m. ET on TSN
Twitter:  #JuliaWine50, #NCATS, @GP3R
RACE CENTRAL LIVE

All times ET and subject to change

Coby Conquers Monadnock

Coby Conquers Monadnock

Veteran Scores First Win At New Hampshire Track

See video

MONADNOCK, N.H. – While the statistics sheet might make it look like it was an easy win it was anything but that for Doug Coby. 

Although he led the final 166 laps of the O’Reilly Auto Parts 200, Coby had to hold off a hard-charging Woody Pitkat to score his third NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour win of the season at Monadnock Speedway.

Coby passed Ryan Preece on Lap 45 and was able to remain at the point in the caution filled race.

Pitkat followed closely in second with Justin Bonsignore coming up just a little short in his bid for a third straight win at the quarter-mile track finishing third. Todd Szegedy and Troy Talman completed the top five.

Eric Goodale rebounded from an early incident to finish sixth with Shawn Solomito, Andy Seuss, Chase Dowling, and Preece rounding out the top 10.

The race was slowed six times by caution with a pair of Red Flags thrown during the race for track cleanup caused by a pair of multicar accidents.  

Pitkat was able to jump past Preece in the standings to now lead 329-326. Coby used his win to sit 15 points out of the lead at 314 while Szegedy is just two points out of third place thanks to his recent string of top-five finishes.

The race will be telvised on NBC Sports Network on Thursday July 30 at 7 p.m.

RACE RESULTS | LAP-BY-LAP RECAP | AUDIO: DOUG COBY POST-RACE COMMENTS | AUDIO: WOODY PITKAT POST-RACE COMMENTS | AUDIO: JUSTIN BONSIGNORE POST-RACE COMMENTS

Doug Coby leads the field during the O’Reilly Auto Parts 200 at Monadnock Speedway. Coby picked up his third NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour win of the season on Saturday. Photo by Getty Images

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