What To Watch: Wednesday
In a surprising move, NASCAR did not release penalties for either Penske Racing or Michael Waltrip Racing today. (Pure speculation is that this was out of respect for the Boston Marathon bombing and its victims). We do expect, however that the consequences for both programs will come down tomorrow. Martin Truex, Jr.’s car, for MWR was posted as too low in postrace inspection; in the past, that’s resulted in a six-point deduction. As for Penske’s two Fords, it’s uncertain after the rear end housings for both the No. 2 and No. 22 cars were confiscated during Texas pre-race inspection.
Keselowski Visits With Obama At White House
Barack Obama had a playful message for Brad Keselowski: it was nice to have someone kick Jimmie Johnson out.
“I was getting tired of seeing Johnson all the time,” said Obama, who hosted the reigning champion in a special reception Wednesday. Both men were in a jovial mood despite the circumstances; some had speculated the event would be cancelled in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombings that killed three and injured well over 150. But both sides insisted to push forward, the President reassuring reporters that terrorism would not be allowed to interfere in daily life.
Among the lighter moments was when Obama joked that Keselowski had offered for the President to drive his race car. The catch? It would have to be in circles on the White House South Lawn. As you might expect, the Secret Service wouldn’t allow it but Obama still praised the ability of the champ – as well as his sporting contemporaries.
“All the drivers in NASCAR bring great joy to their fans,” he said. “It is a unique American sport and we are so proud to support it.”
Kansas Speedway Ramping Up Security In Wake Of Boston Marathon Bombing
Fans expecting to attend the races at Kansas this weekend should be prepared for a little extra security. Track personnel warned fans Tuesday about longer lines and additional procedures put it place that may slow down their entry into the stands but hopefully will help to assure their safety.
“What I would ask from our fans,” said Kansas Speedway President Pat Warren, “Is to have patience when they’re at the gate, patience when they’re in the parking lot. If it takes a little bit longer this weekend, I hope people understand why that’s the case.”
While fears are understandably heightened during the wake of Monday’s serious incident, it appears the track is ready to handle any additional precautions. Warren, who reminded the AP (LINK: http://m.apnews.com/ap/db_268756/contentdetail.htm?contentguid=uf8ChZpr) Tuesday that the track was the second to host a race after 9/11, has been working with law enforcement officials to make sure they’re doing everything possible to protect the over 70,000 fans expected. There will also be an additional push to prevent firearms to enter the speedway; last weekend, a fan shot himself to death at Texas in an apparent at-track suicide.
“We’ve had several meetings with our local contact with the Kansas police department, which interphases with Homeland Security and the FBI,” Warren confirmed. “We don’t discuss publicly the things we do because we don’t want somebody who might do something bad to know what our plans, policies and procedures are.”
“What I would say is that we treat every event seriously, and we treat the safety and security of our fans seriously.”
Bill France, Jr.’s Great-Grandson To Make Truck Series Debut
Ben Kennedy, come August 2013, will turn from possible heir to the NASCAR empire to potential competitor for Truck Series Victory Lane. The son of Lesa France Kennedy and nephew to Brian France will climb up the racing ladder for three races in 2013, driving a Chevy for Turner Scott Motorsports at Bristol, Iowa, and Homestead. Fresh off a win at 5 Flags Speedway in the NASCAR K&N East Series, 21-year-old Kennedy is raring and ready to make the jump, spending Tuesday reconfirming an announcement that was initially made in late February.
“I’ve heard nothing but good stuff about Turner Scott Motorsports,” he said during a weekly NASCAR presser. “Their performance on the track is absolutely phenomenal. Great bunch of people. I’m really excited to get out there and race.”
Kennedy, who has already tested with the program at New Smyrna Speedway, is also working on another proud accomplishment – his college degree. A sports management major at the University of Florida, he’s expected to graduate in the Spring of 2014 while continuing his schedule in K&N Pro Series East.
News ‘N’ Notes
– Don’t expect Kyle Larson to slow down his extracurricular activities anytime soon. The driver, signed to a contract with Earnhardt Ganassi Racing, has plans to still race anything from dirt cars, to late models, to winged sprints in addition to his Nationwide and Truck Series schedules in 2013.
“I’m going to try to race as much as I can,” he said. “A lot of people probably think I should focus on Nationwide or whatever, but I think the more you’re in a race car, the more you’re learning. So that’s kind of how I’ve been the last couple years… I mean, you see Tony Stewart, and he’s off racing Sprint cars whenever he can. He still runs good…”
– Rookie Darrell Wallace, Jr. picked up another sponsor for his Truck Series effort. Liberty Tire Recycling will plaster its logos on the No. 54 Kyle Busch Motorsports Toyota for a total of three events, including this weekend at Kansas. The company, which recycles over 140 million tires annually, then turns the material around to produce everything from rubber mulch to industrial fuel, has increased its commitment to the sport through the years. The 19-year-old Wallace, 11th in series points has one top-10 finish in three starts…
– Elliott Sadler will make his debut this weekend in a fourth car for Joe Gibbs Racing at Kansas. It’s no secret the Virginian wants to move back up full-time into the Cup Series and hopes JGR and its No. 81 Toyota will be the place. But if Gibbs has the funding on a possible 2014 expansion, he’s keeping mum… for now.
“We have the capacity, we could do a fourth team, but everything has to line up,” the car owner said to NASCAR.com (LINK: http://www.nascar.com/en_us/news-media/articles/2013/04/15/sadler-returns-to-cup-series-at-kansas.html). “We can do it for a few races but we’re not ready to do it for all the races. We’ve learned you’re better off being a little more patient than just jumping at any chance you get.”
Sadler will run Sunday and at both Talladega races, with more starts possible this season as funding permits.