With three of the final six races of the Sprint Cup season, including Saturday night’s Bank of America 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway, being contested on 1.5-mile tracks, the NASCAR world is wondering how it can be that only two teams — Joe Gibbs Racing and Richard Childress Racing — have managed to win on tracks that size this season.
Gil Martin, crew chief at RCR for the No. 29 Chevrolet driven by Kevin Harvick, has won two of those races as well as a third on the three-quarter-mile oval at Richmond. He said in the winner’s interview at Kansas Speedway on Sunday that it’s not due to any real advantage those teams have.
“There are too many good cars out there,” he said. “You’re not going to stop the 48 [Jimmie Johnson] from winning at these places and it’s not going to say that they’re behind and we’re all so far ahead. It’s just circumstances. …
“You’ve got a lot of cars that are running equally as fast, so it’s coming down now to just strategies and how things work out and that’s making a huge difference in just how you set up for the race. The biggest thing is whenever you go into one of these things, whatever game plan, you have you’ve got to be ready to change it because it’s probably not going to be the right one.”
Harvick said that his win at Charlotte in May, coupled with his victory at Kansas, does have him upbeat about the remainder of the schedule, which includes races on two other 1.5-mile tracks at Texas Motor Speedway and Homestead-Miami Speedway.
“I think the confidence in the team and the car and the mile-and-a-half stuff is good,” he said. “The bottom line is you can have fast cars, but it’s going to come down just like it did at the [Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte]. You’re going to have to have the right strategy to go along with everything as the day unfolds.”
Harvick’s victory at Kansas moved him up two spots in the standings to third place. He closed the gap between him and points leader Matt Kenseth from 39 points after Dover to 25 heading into this weekend.
Kvapil arrested: Travis Kvapil, driver of the No. 93 Toyota in the Sprint Cup Series, was arrested by police in Mooresville, N.C., on Tuesday night and was charged with assault and false imprisonment after an alleged incident with his wife, according to Charlotte television station WBTV.
Kvapil’s BK Racing team had posted a photo of Kvapil’s and teammate David Reutimann’s cars, showing them with ribbons supporting Breast Cancer Awareness and Domestic Violence Awareness. The team had no immediate comment on Kvapil’s status.
Kvapil, of Janesville, Wisc., is the 2003 champion of the Camping World Truck Series and a nine-time race winner. He has run 240 Sprint Cup races without a top-five finish.
Earnhardt milestone: Dale Earnhardt Jr. is set to make his 500th career Sprint Cup start this weekend at Charlotte Motor Speedway, the same track where he made his first start back in May 1999, when he started eighth and finished 16th. Since then he’s won 19 races. If he were to win Saturday’s Bank of America 500, he would join Richard Petty and Matt Kenseth on the list of drivers who won on their 500th start.
Grassroots program: Veteran NASCAR promoter H.A. “Humpy” Wheeler held a press conference this week to unveil his “Speedway Benefits” program, which he described as an alliance of grassroots race tracks throughout the country.
He said the alliance will help promoters save money in purchasing products and services through volume discounts and generate more money through a united marketing effort.
Wheeler, who has long been a supporter of short-track racing and even built a state-of-the-art dirt track on the grounds of Charlotte Motor Speedway, pointed out there are about 1,200 short tracks in the U.S. that attract an estimated 50 million fans each year.
“Short-track racing, including ovals, drag strips and road courses, are the backbone of our sport and yet they have been shorted on television, advertising and media coverage,” Wheeler said. “It is our intention to help fire the rockets to change this.”
The new company, located in the heart of NASCAR country in Charlotte, has seven employees but expects to increase its work force to 50.
Elledge signs on: Veteran crew chief Jimmy Elledge has been hired to serve as crew chief for the No. 51 Phoenix Racing Chevrolet for the remainder of the season.
In his new position, Elledge will once again be working with Justin Allgaier, who is set to drive the car in two of the remaining six races.
Phoenix Racing was recently acquired by Harry Scott Jr. from long-time owner James Finch.
Nick Harrison, who had been the crew chief for the No. 51, has moved to Richard Childress Racing, where he will be crew chief of the team’s No. 33 Chevrolet in the Nationwide Series.