Matt Kenseth unsure how rain, cool weather will impact Bristol’s treated surface

Leave a comment

After its first use last August, NASCAR drivers will get a second chance to race at Bristol Motor Speedway this weekend with its track surface treated by VHT in the corners.

A substance used by the NHRA to add grip on its starting lines, VHT was added to the bottom grove for last summer’s night race – which became a day race – in order to improve the competition on the half-mile track. It worked.

The 20 lead changes in the race were the second most at Bristol in the past eight races there. NASCAR recorded 2,454 green-flag passes, ranking fourth at the track since the statistic was first kept in 2005.

But how will the track react to the substance in April over August, especially with the threat of rain looming over the Bristol area all weekend? But most importantly, will the spreading out of the substance higher in the turns make the racing better?

If anyone knows what “old Bristol” was like, it’s Matt Kenseth. The Joe Gibbs Racing driver has made 34 starts in “Thunder Valley” beginning in 2000 and he has four wins, the most recent coming in the 2015 spring race.

Kenseth addressed the repeated application of the substance Wedesday after Joe Gibbs Racing’s sponsorship announcement with Circle K at the NASCAR Hall of Fame.

“I went to lunch with (crew chief) Jason (Ratcliff) before we got here, and we got to talking about the fall race a little bit, and I have to go back and watch the whole ending of the race and see how it went,” said Kenseth, who placed 37th with a DNF last August after a Lap 373 crash. “I feel like Bristol, Martinsville and Dover are very sensitive to heat. I think if you get a really cold, overcast day up there and you get all the rain you’re supposed to get, I’m not really sure how it’ll affect it, because sometimes the top never comes all the way in.”

The Food City 500 is scheduled to begin at 2 p.m. ET Sunday. The weather site wunderground.com currently forecasts a temperature of 59 degrees with a 57 percent chance of rain at that time.

“It has to get warm enough for the rubber on the tire to pack into the racetrack and then that stuff seems to make a lot of grip,” Kenseth said. “Last year, it seemed to have a lot. It seemed to go away at the end of the race that I recall. But it definitely seemed to open up some grooves and passing, especially on restarts and shorter runs.”

Stats, Results for Truck Series race at Iowa Speedway

Getty Images
Leave a comment

John Hunter Nemechek led the final six laps to win the Camping World Truck Series’ M&M’s 200 at Iowa Speedway.

It’s his second win in two weeks.

Nemechek beat out Johnny Sauter, Brandon Jones, Grant Engfinger and Christopher Bell.

Click here for race results.

Johnny Sauter keeps Truck points lead, John Hunter Nemechek in eighth

Getty Images
Leave a comment

With his Stage 2 win and his second-place finish in the M&M’s 200, Johnny Sauter retains his lead in the Camping World Truck Series standings leaving Iowa Speedway.

Sauter has a 42-point lead over Christopher Bell.

Completing the top five is: Chase Briscoe (-76), Matt Crafton (-95) and Ben Rhodes (-123).

With his second win in two weeks, John Hunter Nemechek moved from ninth to eighth in the standings, 153 points back from Sauter.

Click here for the full points standings.

John Hunter Nemechek wins at Iowa, second Truck victory in a row

Getty Images
Leave a comment

At one point going four-wide on a restart with seven laps to go, John Hunter Nemechek drove from fourth to first to win the M&M’s 200 at Iowa Speedway.

It is Nemechek’s second Camping World Truck Series win in two weeks after an emotional victory at Gateway Motorsports Park. It is his fifth career win.

Nemechek passed low on Chase Briscoe and Johnny Sauter into Turn 1 and cleared them on the backstretch a lap into the final run. The No. 8 team changed four tires during the final caution. Sauter, who led 72 laps, did not pit.

“All year we felt really good about this whole stretch,” Nemechek told Fox Sports 1. “Gateway, Iowa and Kentucky. Hopefully we can go to Kentucky and make it three in a row.”

Driving the same truck he used to win last week, Nemehcek had to pass Sauter, Briscoe and Noah Gragson on the restart.

The top five was Nemechek, Sauter, Brandon Jones, Grant Enfinger and Christopher Bell.

Stage 1 winner: Christopher Bell

Stage 2 winner: Johnny Sauter

MORE: Race results

MORE: Points standings

WHO HAD A GOOD NIGHT: Brandon Jones’s third-place finish is his season best and first Truck top five since 2015 … Christopher Bell earned his sixth top five through nine races … Grant Enfinger earned his fourth top five, but it came at the expense of teammate Matt Crafton, who he caused to crash to bring out the final caution … Jesse Little finished ninth for his first career top 10 in his 11th start.

WHO HAD A BAD NIGHT: Ben Rhodes, Kaz Grala and Austin Wayne Self were in a wreck with three laps left in Stage 2 …. Ryan Truex’s night ended with 33 to go when he brought his truck to pit road for an engine problem. He finished 20th … Matt Crafton backed hard into the outside wall with 15 laps to go after being tagged by his teammate, Grant Enfinger, on his left-rear quarter panel. It is his first DNF of the year. Crafton finished 19th … Harrison Burton and Justin Haley crashed in Turn 4 coming to the checkered flag. Burton placed 11th; Haley 10th.

NOTABLE: The race was red flagged for 12 minutes and 26 seconds to clean up fluid from the three-truck crash at the end of Stage 2.

QUOTE OF THE NIGHT: “That’s me. Four tires. That’s the man right there. Fire Alarm (Services). What do they want? They want a win and we got them one.” – Gere Kennon, crew chief for John Hunter Nemechek after winning the M&M’s 200.

WHAT’S NEXT: Buckle Up In Your Truck 225 at Kentucky Speedway at 7:30 p.m. ET on July 6 on Fox Sports 1.

Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s farewell tour begins at Sonoma with service dogs named in his honor

Sonoma Raceway
Leave a comment

To commemorate Dale Earnhardt Jr.‘s career and his final start at the track, Sonoma Raceway gave the driver a gift he doesn’t have to take home and will benefit others for year to come.

During his Friday press conference, the track surprised Earnhardt with three Labrador Retriever puppies. Named “Dale,” “Junior” and “Amy” – after his wife – the puppies are being given to the organization Paws as Loving Support (PALS) Assistance Dogs.

Donated by Micons Labradors and Fieldstone Labradors and sponsored by the track, the puppies will be trained to help children with disabilities in the Sonoma community.

“I’d like to thank the track for their investment to make this happen,” Earnhardt said. “It really warms my heart. Amy is going to be excited but sad she is not here. We do love dogs and making a difference in people’s lives. I’m excited to maybe come back and see how the dogs are doing.”

Sonoma is the first track Earnhardt is racing at for the last time since he announced his retirement plans in April.

The puppies will take part in PALS thorough training process, including time with incarcerated youth twice a week, before being matched with a child with a disability and his/her family as a service dog or placed with a professional as a facility dog.

PALS Assistance Dogs trains dogs to help children with disabilities including Autism, Down syndrome and mobility impairments. Some are placed with professionals working with children with special needs as facility dogs. In addition, Courthouse PALS dogs provide emotional support and comfort to victims and witnesses of violent crimes before, during and at the conclusion of a trial.

“Dale has such a huge following among our fans and we wanted to find a way for his legacy to carry forward locally, well beyond his days as a driver,” said Steve Page, Sonoma Raceway president and general manager. “These three puppies – Dale, Junior and Amy – will make a meaningful difference in the lives of young people in the North Bay for years to come.”

On race day, 10,000 “Thanks, Junior” hand-held fans will be given out and the No. 88 will be written in the sky by the Patriots Jet Team.

and on Facebook