Sam Hornish Jr.

NASCAR weekend racing schedule at Sonoma (Cup), Iowa (Trucks, Xfinity)

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Once again, the three major NASCAR series will race in two separate locations this weekend.

While the NASCAR Cup Series will be at Sonoma Raceway for the Toyota/Save Mart 350, both the NASCAR Xfinity and Camping World Truck Series will be racing halfway across the country at Iowa Speedway.

Tony Stewart is the defending winner of Sunday’s Cup race, which was the 49th and last win of his NASCAR premier series career. Stewart retired from racing in the Cup series after last season.

Iowa Speedway will host the M&Ms 200 Truck race on Friday night, and the American Ethanol e15 250 NASCAR Xfinity Series race Saturday night.

William Byron won last year’s Truck race at Iowa, while Sam Hornish Jr., won the Xfinity race there. Erik Jones returned to Iowa several weeks later to win the mid-summer Xfinity race there.

Hornish will once again return to Iowa and attempt to defend last year’s win, racing for Team Penske.

Here’s the full weekend schedule for both Iowa and Sonoma:

(All times are Eastern)

Friday, June 23, at Sonoma

12:30 p.m. – 10 p.m. Cup garage open

3 p.m. – 4:55 p.m. – Cup first practice (FS1)

6:30 p.m. – 7:55 p.m. – Cup final practice (FS1)

Friday, June 23, at Iowa

8 a.m. – Truck garage opens

10 a.m. – 11:25 a.m. – Truck first practice (FS1)

11:30 a.m. – 8:30 p.m. – Xfinity garage open

12:15 p.m. – 1:15 p.m. – Truck final practice (FS1)

2 – 2:55 p.m. – Xfinity first practice (FS1)

5 – 5:55 p.m. – Xfinity final practice (FS1)

6:05 p.m. – Truck qualifying (multi-vehicle, three rounds) (No TV)

7:30 p.m. – Truck driver/crew chief meeting

8 p.m. – Truck driver introductions

8:30 p.m. – M&M’s 200 Truck race (FS1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR radio

Saturday, June 24, at Sonoma

10 a.m. – 7:30 p.m. Cup garage open

2:45 p.m. – Cup qualifying (multi-vehicle, two rounds) (FS1, Performance Racing Network)

Saturday, June 24, at Iowa

2:30 p.m. – Xfinity garage open

6:15 p.m. – Xfinity qualifying (multi-vehicle, three rounds) (Tape delayed at 7 p.m. ET on FS1)

7:30 p.m. – Xfinity driver/crew chief meeting

8 p.m. – Xfinity driver introductions

8:30 p.m. – American Ethanol e15 200 Xfinity Series race (FS1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR radio)

Sunday, June 25, at Sonoma

10 a.m. – Cup garage open

1 p.m. – Driver/crew chief meeting

2:20 p.m. – Driver introductions

3 p.m. – Toyota/Save Mart 350 NASCAR Cup race (110 laps, 218.9 miles) (FS1, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR radio)


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NASCAR’s preliminary entry lists for Sonoma, Iowa

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NASCAR heads back out west this week as the Cup Series gears up for its first road course race of the year at Sonoma Raceway, which marks the halfway point of the season.

Meanwhile, the Xfinity and Camping World Truck Series go to Iowa Speedway for the first time this season.

Here’s the entry lists for all three races.

Cup – Toyota/Save Mart 350

There are 38 cars on the entry list and they include four drivers who are making their Cup debuts.

Richard Petty Motorsports announced that sports car driver Billy Johnson will drive the No. 43.

Israeli-born driver Alon Day will make his debut in the No. 23 Toyota for BK Racing. Tommy Regan will drive the No. 15 Toyota for Premium Motorsports. Josh Bilick will drive the No. 51 for Rick Ware Racing. He replaces Cody Ware who is out indefinitely with back issues.

Last year, Tony Stewart won his 49th and final Cup race after swapping the lead twice with Denny Hamlin on the last lap, including passing Hamlin in the final turn.

Click here for the full entry list.

Xfinity –  American Ethanol E15 

There are 41 cars on the entry list, meaning one car will not qualify for the race.

There are no Cup drivers entered into the event.

Sam Hornish Jr. is set to make his first start of the year in Team Penske’s No. 22 Ford.

Joe Gibb Racing will have Kyle Benjamin in its No. 18 Toyota and Christopher Bell in the No. 20.

Ben Kennedy will make his second start for Richard Childress Racing in the No. 2 Chevrolet.

Ty Majeski will make his Xfinity debut driving the No. 60 Ford for Roush Fenway Racing.

Last year, Hornish led 183 laps and won this race driving the No. 18 for JGR in his first NASCAR start of the year. Erik Jones won the August race.

Click here for the full entry list.

Truck – Iowa 200

There are 29 Trucks entered into the race. A full field would be 32 trucks.

The No. 52 truck of Stewart Friesen has withdrawn from the event.

Last year, William Byron won this race, his third of the year, after leading 107 laps.

Click here for the full entry list.

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Sam Hornish Jr. returns to Team Penske for three Xfinity races, possibly more

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After nearly a nine-month absence, Sam Hornish Jr. will return to NASCAR competition next week with Team Penske in the Xfinity Series, the team announced Thursday.

The 37-year-old driver will pilot Penske’s No. 22 Ford in three races, beginning with the June 24 race at Iowa Speedway. He will be back in the car July 29 at Iowa and on August 12 at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

Hornish’s history with Team Penske goes back to four IndyCar seasons with the team from 2004-07. He won eight races, including the 2006 Indianapolis 500. He then made the move to NASCAR, where he competed in the Cup Series full-time from 2008-10 with Penske and in 2015 with Richard Petty Motorsports.

He has 167 Cup starts since 2007 and 114 starts and four wins in the Xfinity Series since 2006.

“I’m really excited to return to Team Penske and get the opportunity to drive the No. 22 Discount Tire Ford Mustang in a few races this season,” Hornish said in a press release. “Team Penske continues to be one of the top teams in the Xfinity Series. and I’m looking forward to once again working with them.

“Roger (Penske) and Team Penske have been a huge part of my racing career, so coming back here feels like home. I’m also really appreciative of everyone at Discount Tire for allowing me to take the reins of one of the most recognizable cars in the garage area.

“The new NASCAR eligibility rules also allow for drivers like me to compete in more races, so I hope to take full advantage of this opportunity.”

Penske may add more races to Hornish’s schedule as the year goes on.

The last time Hornish was on track, he drove the No. 2 Chevrolet for Richard Childress Racing in the Xfinity Series. He competed in three races, in the July Iowa race, at Mid-Ohio and at Kentucky.

But before that, Hornish drove the No. 18 Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing in the June Iowa race. He led 183 laps and won the race, which was his first start of the year. He also won at Iowa for JGR in 2014.

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NASCAR on NBC podcast, Ep. 83: Travis Geisler, Team Penske’s jack of all trades

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When he moved into a newly created role at Team Penske more than six years ago, Travis Geisler had a title but lacked a job description.

The team advised told him to figure out what being its director of competition would entail.

It’s included being a hiring manager, a liaison between the racetrack and race shop and sometimes a travel agent – depending on the day and the forecast.

“You have to have the logistics buttoned up, and there’s no one better than who’s sitting at the track and understands the needs and where people need to go,” Geisler said on the NASCAR on NBC podcast. “Sometimes I end up figuring out rental cars and airplane tickets, and that’s OK. At that moment, it’s the best I can do for the team.

“Some days it’s more managerial and administrative like finding a mechanic.”

The most important part of Geisler’s job is keeping Team Penske’s road crews connected with its Mooresville, N.C., headquarters. A mechanical engineering graduate of Vanderbilt, he worked as a race engineer and crew chief (with Sam Hornish Jr. from 2008-10) at Penske before his current position.

That breadth of knowledge and relationships helps accelerate the pace of implementing improvements to Penske’s cars. When a power steering problem cropped up at Richmond International Raceway in a Friday practice, a few calls and some overnight work had a solution shipped in with Penske’s Xfinity pit crews the following day. On Sunday, Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski finished 1-2 in the race.

“I can promise you on any weekend, any time of the night we call, those guys are on it,” Geisler said. “Sometimes, it’s someone comes in the shop and we fly something up on Sunday morning to get it in the car.”

Other topics covered on the podcast:

–Why Geisler and his supervisor, Team Penske vice president of operations Michael Nelson, work hard to reduce the demands on crew chiefs Paul Wolfe and Todd Gordon;

–The balance between working on long-range “game-changing” development vs. weekly refinement of the race car;

–The essence of team owner Roger Penske.

You can listen to the podcast by clicking on the AudioBoom embed below or download and subscribe to the podcast on Apple Podcasts by clicking here. The free subscription will provide automatic downloads of new episodes to your smartphone.

It also is available on Stitcher by clicking here and also can be found on Google Play, Spotify and a host of other smartphone apps.

Kurt Busch files multimillion-dollar countersuit vs. former management agency SMN

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Kurt Busch filed a multimillion-dollar countersuit Friday in the U.S. District Court’s Eastern District of Michigan against Sports Management Network, which sued the NASCAR driver for $1.4 million.

Busch, who is demanding a jury trial in the counterclaim lawsuit, alleges that the sports management company and its law firm “improperly advantaged themselves” along with the interests of clients Team Penske and Andretti Autosport. The countersuit states that Busch wasn’t made aware of such conflicts and wasn’t advised to seek independent counsel.

Busch and SMN entered into a representation contract in 2005 that was extended Aug. 11, 2010 while Busch was driving for Penske (he previously was with Roush Fenway Racing). Busch drove for Andretti in the 2014 Indianapolis 500, finishing sixth.

The suit refutes the claims made by SMN last month that Busch was delinquent in his payments to the company since the second quarter of 2016. He terminated the deal in March 2016.

Busch’s suit states that he maintained an attorney client-relationship with John Caponigro of Sports Management Network and the law firm of Frasco Caponigro Wineman & Scheible “at all relevant times,” covering all matters and transactions related to Busch’s career.

Busch’s suit requests the court enter a judgment in his favor against SMN, FCWS and Caponigro for “millions of dollars to be proven at trial plus all such other relief that the Court deems just and appropriate.”

Busch is asking for at least $1.3M from SMN and Caponigro for compensation received from the driver from January 2011 to January 2016.

In a response to the countersuit, Frasco Caponigro Wineman & Scheible, PLLC, which is representing Sports Management Network, released a statement:

“Defendants’ allegations are outrageous and have no factual basis. It is a shame that, in an effort to avoid paying fees that are owed, Defendants instead have chosen to disparage the impeccable reputation of our clients who, for more than a decade, maximized Mr. Busch’s career opportunities, financially and otherwise, often during times when Mr. Busch’s conduct, both on and off the track, threatened his career.  We are confident that the court will see through what is nothing more than a desperate, diversionary tactic.”

The counterclaim states that SMN AND FCWS had “fiduciary, legal, ethical and contractual duties to act in Busch’s best interests” but breached their obligations and caused millions in damages.

SMN also represents NASCAR drivers Brad Keselowski and Ryan Blaney (both of whom are under contract to Penske), according to its website. It has represented other Penske drivers (such as Sam Hornish Jr.) in the past.

The lawsuit also revealed several details about Busch’s contracts.

When it entered into a four-year extension with Busch in 2010, SMN received a 4% fee of Busch’s base salary. That sum was $250,000, meaning Busch’s base salary for 2010 at Penske was $6.25 million.

The lawsuit notes Busch was due to make “considerably less” under future contracts with Phoenix Racing, Furniture Row Racing and Stewart-Haas Racing.

The lawsuit also refers to a two-year deal with Monster Energy for Busch from 2016-17 with an option for 2018, but it’s unclear if that refers to a personal services deal or team sponsorship.

Busch is represented in the counterclaim by the Detroit-based law firm of Barris, Sott, Denn & Driker, P.L.L.C.

Click here to see the counterclaim lawsuit filed on Kurt Busch’s behalf.

Dustin Long contributed to this report.