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Boston Ripple Reaches Kansas

| Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Saturday, April 20 2013

Hendrick Motorsports team members are racing with heavy hearts this weekend. (RacinToday/HHP photo by Christa L Thomas)

By Jim Pedley | Managing Editor

KANSAS CITY, Kan. – Racing was topic No. 1 at Kansas Speedway Friday as practice for Saturday’s Camping World Truck Series and Sunday’s Sprint Cup Series races got under way, but events a half-continent away were topic No. 1A.

Talk about events surrounding the Boston Marathon terrorist attack filled the garages and infield at Kansas. Especially around the spaces occupied by Hendrick Motorsports as the Boston tragedy hit home for the team.

Hendrick officials announced at Kansas that the security officer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who was shot and killed by the suspects in the bombing near the finish line of the marathon was the brother of a Hendrick employee.

Hendrick driver Jimmie Johnson said, “I would assume everybody has seen the press release, but last night the shooting that took place unfortunately has some attachment to Hendrick Motorsports. Someone in our engine shop it was his brother, Andrew Collier’s brother, Sean was tragically killed last night. Still a lot of questions going on obviously if anybody has had a chance to watch the news today there still is a lot of chaos taking place in Boston.

“Trying to gather all that is going on, but a very sad time. My thoughts and prayers are with the Collier family. I certainly know that it is the same thing for all of Hendrick Motorsports. We are one big family and it’s sad and unfortunate to see a fellow teammate and his family going through such a tough time.”

Also feeling direct pain from events in Boston is Roush Fenway Racing as the team’s co-owner, John Henry, is a Boston native.

Roush Fenway driver Carl Edwards said, “I know I can speak for all of Roush Fenway Racing in saying that our thoughts are with everyone there that’s not only suffered, but all the confusion that’s going on. I don’t think anyone really understands exactly what’s happened yet, and without sounding cliché what Roush is doing is trying to do something to help. Steve Newmark and Jack Roush put together a program where Jack is gonna donate some money to a cause up there to try and help with whatever they need help with, and then we also pledged $100 for every lap that one of the Roush Fenway leads at the race track this weekend.

“We’ve got a lot of ties to Boston with the Red Sox up there. I hear there are ties in the garage with folks that have lost family up there, so I think it’s something that just reminds us all that what we do here we’re very fortunate to do it and, hopefully, in some small way, just us racing this weekend somebody can get some amount of enjoyment out of it and know that we’re all thinking about them.”

Back in a Sprint Cup car this weekend for the time in over a year is Elliott Sadler. He is driving the No. 81 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota.

Feels great, he said.

“It’s definitely a great opportunity and I think that’s the biggest thing that I know as a person is the opportunity is given to me to be able to race here in Kansas and also here in a couple weeks at Talladega,” Sadler, who has spent the past couple years racing in the Nationwide Series, said. “I can’t thank Coach (Joe) Gibbs (team owner) and J.D. (Gibbs, team president) and everybody at JGR (Joe Gibbs Racing) for giving me this chance to get back in Cup race and also for ALERT Energy Gum to come on board to really put this all together to make this possible. It’s neat, it’s fun – I feel like a kid in a candy store all over again. Almost like the first day of high school. It’s been a great feeling this week getting ready and getting prepared to come here to Kansas this weekend.”

Speeds climbed throughout the day on a cool but windy day at Kansas on Friday. The culminated with a track record in qualifying.

How fast is fast at the track which was reconfigured and repaved last summer?

“It is mind boggling how fast it is out there,” Jeff Gordon, a two-time winner at the Kansas 1.5-mile oval said. “It’s hard for my old brain to process some of the speeds that we are carrying out there. I’m telling you it’s insane. The cars have a lot of grip which allows you to push the limits of them. This car has a lot of downforce and then the track and the tire and the temperatures also have a tremendous amount of grip. I knew it would be fast. I remember it being fast last time we were here, but boy I didn’t know it would be this way.”

A couple hours after saying that, Gordon lost control of his car during qualifying a crashed hard.

– Jim Pedley can be reached at jpedley@racintoday.com

| Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Saturday, April 20 2013
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