NASCAR Race Weekend Central

News & Notes

*Drivers Offer Thoughts On Raikkonen*
News broke earlier this week that former Formula 1 champion Kimi Raikkonen was approved by NASCAR to run the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at the Charlotte Motor Speedway with a newly formed team funded in part by Foster Gillett.

After learning of the news, some in the NASCAR garage offered their thoughts on the former F1 driver making the jump to NASCAR.

“The only thing that I heard is that he was being approved for Charlotte,” former F1 driver Juan Pablo Montoya said. “I don’t know if he’s even confirmed he’s doing it. I think it would be cool if he comes here. He’s a cool guy and I think he would fit right in. My first choice wouldn’t be Charlotte to start my first race.”

“I think it’s cool,” Kyle Busch added. “I think that some of these guys from the Formula 1, or from the open wheel background I should say, trying to take a step in NASCAR and see how it is pretty neat. It kind of gives a world presence to NASCAR. Everybody thinks that Formula 1 is the World Series — I don’t mean that in baseball terms I just mean that in the racing world globe. I think that NASCAR as big as it is a lot of drivers want to see how they can do over here and how they can have a feel for the race car over here. I think it’s neat and I hope that he gets the things worked out that he wants worked out and that he can come over here and run some Trucks or run whatever he is going to run.”

Rumors have been circulating that Raikkonen will test a truck for Kyle Busch Motorsports on Monday at the half-mile Gresham Motorsports Park in Georgia.

*Gibbs Starting To Pinpoint Some Engine Issues*

After numerous engine issues in the opening weeks of the season, Kyle Busch explained the team is starting to figure out some of issues that have been plaguing all three of the Gibbs teams.

“I’ve heard a little bit about the problems that we’ve had [in Fontana],” Busch said. “I know there were some valve issues and things like that. I don’t want to elaborate too much on it. It’s something that at least we know what happened and where the source of the problem is. Anytime that you can figure all that out, you’re moving forward. For us, it was like my bottom end issue that we had at Las Vegas — that was catastrophic failure. We don’t know what happened so we haven’t been able to diagnose that, but we haven’t had any of those in so long that we don’t know if it was just a part malfunction or something that we missed or what. We already found the source of last week’s issues with both Denny (Hamlin) and Joey (Logano) so we feel pretty confident that we’re heading in the right direction with that stuff.”

An explosion on the dynamometer prior to the season in January damaged two of the team’s dynos and has left them behind the curve. With the dyno still out of commission, the team is receiving a good amount of help from Toyota Racing Development.

“I don’t know when that is going to be up and running again, but I would presume that it’s still down,” Busch said. “I have not been back there lately and I hate that I haven’t been. We do have a lot of support still through the TRD (Toyota Racing Development) guys out in Costa Mesa. They’re doing a lot of stuff. They’re doing a lot of testing. We work hand in hand together. They do a lot of stuff for us and we do some stuff for them and vice versa all of the time. I don’t think that it’s necessarily a huge issue. It would definitely be better so we could have all of our resources back up and running to an optimum and trying to move along with where we are at.”

*Logano Wrecks In Final Practice*

After being one of the fastest cars in the day’s opening practice session, Joey Logano spun his No. 20 Home Depot Toyota into Turn 3, backing it into the wall in Friday’s final session. Even before Logano was able to pull away, crew chief Greg Zipadelli came on the radio saying, “Get the backup car out, that’s what we’ll do. Let’s see what we’re made of here.”

As the team scrambled working on the backup and the wrecked car, Logano simply walked into the hauler with a look of disgust. A team representative said Logano had no idea what caused him to spin, saying he hit the brakes and jumped around.

This is simply a continuation of the poor luck that has hit Logano in his third year in the Sprint Cup Series. Logano started off the year going to a backup car in Daytona, suffered an engine failure in Phoenix the next week, was down about 100 horsepower 50 laps into the race at Bristol and went to the back at the start of last week’s race in Fontana due to an engine change.

*Kyle Petty Charity Ride Going North To South*

Kyle Petty will be holding his annual charity motorcycle ride for the 17th year, this time going from Lake Placid, N.Y. to Amelia Island, Fla. and will be held from May 7-14.

Benefiting the Victory Junction Gang Camp, the annual ride will have approximately 175 riders featuring current and former NASCAR drivers and other celebrities. Starting in Lake Placid, the ride will also hit Corning, N.Y., Farmington, Penn., Irvington, Va., Wilmington, N.C., Mt. Pleasant, S.C., finishing in Amelia Island, Fla.

Since 1995, 9.8 million cumulative miles have been logged by 6,850 riders.

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