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There Was A Sadler Sighting At TMS On Friday

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Friday, April 6 2018

Xfinity Series driver Elliott Sadler lost to Tyler Reddick by inches at Daytona in February. (RacinToday/HHP file photo by Ashley R Dickerson)

By John Sturbin | Senior Writer

FORT WORTH, Texas – NASCAR Xfinity Series point-leader Elliott Sadler walked into his media availability at Texas Motor Speedway’s infield media center Friday brandishing extra identification, just in case anyone dared ask…who are you?

“I’m so nervous right now. I haven’t been in a media availability in so long I forgot how this works,” Sadler joked. “I even wore my (NASCAR) Hard Card in case you guys wouldn’t let me in. I thought you were mad at me. I thought I did something wrong. Who decides who comes in here anyway for media availability?”

Uh, check with NASCAR Integrated Marketing.

Sadler has built a four-point lead over JR Motorsports teammate Tyler Reddick in the championship standings after five events. In addition, teammate Justin Allgaier sits third, five points behind the leader going into Saturday’s 22nd annual My Bariatrics Solutions 300.

Sadler has posted four top-five and five top-10 results through the first five races of 2018. The Virginia native also leads the series in average finish with a solid 4.8 _ the only series title-contender with an average finish inside the top-five. Sadler took home the Xfinity Series regular-season championship in 2017 on his way to the Playoffs.

“We’re off to a good start and we’ve got some momentum on our side,” said Sadler, driver of the No. 1 OneMain Financial Chevrolet Camaro. “But I’m 42, not 24, and it’s all about Homestead (and the season-finale). We’re going to keep our emotions level because we know we have to come back here in the fall and be good. It’s part of the Playoffs when we come back.”

Recall that Sadler emerged as a popular winner of the Samsung/RadioShack 500 Cup Series race here driving the No. 38 M&Ms Ford in his sixth TMS start on April 4, 2004. Sadler ended a 108-race winless streak that day by edging series rookie Kasey Kahne by 0.028-seconds _ still the closest Cup Series finish in track history. It was Sadler’s second career Cup win and first with Robert Yates Racing.


Tony Stewart is anticipating “the best of both worlds” at Texas Motor Speedway this weekend.

Stewart, the retired three-time Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion, plans to patrol the Cup garage as co-owner with Gene Haas of Stewart-Haas Racing. But the majority of Smoke’s weekend will be spent at the Texas Motor Speedway Dirt Track, site of Tony Stewart presents the Vankor Texas Sprint Car Nationals.

“It’s the second year we’ve got to do this and it’s one of my favorite weekends of the year,” Stewart said during an interview session alongside Texas driver Sam Hafertepe Jr. “I get to work on the Cup side and then get to do what I really love to do, which is drive my Sprint Car.”

The Lucas Oil American Sprint Car Series presented by Sawblade.com is scheduled to run Friday and Saturday at 7:30 (CDT) each night.

Stewart said the program here was championed by Kenton Nelson, TMS’ assistant general manager/vice president of event services. “Kenton is a big dirt track fan and it’s a shame not to tie it in together (with the NASCAR Cup and Xfinity series doubleheader). To have a first-class dirt track facility and not utilize it and bring NASCAR fans to dirt racing…the crowd was awesome last year on Saturday. It was a natural deal when you think about it. And the fans are always cool in Texas. It’s great cross-pollination.”

While retired from Cup competition, Stewart is anything but idle. His 2018 schedule features 95 races _ including 91 in high-powered, open-wheel Sprint Cars.

In Fort Worth, Stewart expects a number of NASCAR crew members to fill the grandstands, along with Cup drivers Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Kasey Kahne and Kevin Harvick _ one of his employees at SHR. “They’ll all tell me what I’m doing wrong,” Stewart joked.

Hafertepe, of Sunnyvale, Texas, earned the distinction of winningest Sprint Car driver at the TMS Dirt Track with his sweep of the Texas Sprint Car Nationals in 2017, giving him four wins on the four-tenths -mile oval.  Hafertepe is runnerup in the tour standings to Roger Crockett, winner of the 2018 season- opener at famed Devil’s Bowl Speedway in nearby Mesquite on March 16.

“This place means a lot to me,” said Hafertepe, 32. “It’s close to my house and for me it’s a big homecoming. And what Tony does for the sport is unbelievable. We need stuff like this to get our series some exposure. They race here once or twice a year and it’s really prestigious to win this race. I got four cowboy hats at home (as TMS Dirt Track winner) and want to add two to it.”

Stewart and Hafertepe will be joined by two-time/reigning Chili Bowl Nationals champion and NASCAR Xfinity regular Christopher Bell as well as dirt track legend Sammy Swindell. The program also includes Limited Modified racing, with former NASCAR regular Kenny Wallace scheduled to compete. Grandstands will open both days at 6 p.m., with hot laps at 7.


His first Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series win will break the bank…if Daniel Suarez visits Victory Lane at Texas Motor Speedway Sunday afternoon.

The series’ first Mexican-born driver, Suarez is wheeling the No. 19 STANLEY “Racing for a Miracle” Toyota Camry this weekend at TMS. It’s a sponsorship that touched Suarez’s heart Thursday, when he visited Cook Children’s Hospital in Fort Worth.

For the 12th consecutive year, STANLEY and the ACE Foundation are teaming up to donate $100,000 to Children’s Miracle Network hospitals. If Suárez drives his Joe Gibbs Racing entry to victory here, the donation will increase to $1-million.

To kick-start the program, Suárez visited Cook Children’s Hospital to unveil a Camry designed by Chip Foose and four patient champions. Foose, star of the Overhaulin’ reality series on Velocity, and the patient champions will be in attendance for Sunday’s 334-lap/501-mile event.

Yesterday at the hospital, they were extremely excited,” Suarez said of the kids he met. “They wanted to be here every day and they are ready to go. They know that they are part…they know that they designed the car, but that’s not everything. They are part of the pit crew now. They are going to be before the race in the grid with us. They are going to be in the pit box. They are going to be part of the racing this weekend and they are extremely excited about that.

“We have a nickname for the car already as well, #GoFroggy. Overall, I feel like it’s going to be a lot of fun. I just have to do my part. But for whatever reason when you have that positive energy of kids, that transfers to yourself and I feel that already on me. I feel like I have a lot of positive energy from these kids and I’m sure we’re going to do very well this week.”

A 26-year-old native of Monterrey, Mexico, Suarez calls TMS his home track as it’s the nearest venue for family and friends to see him compete in NASCAR’s premier series. Last month Suarez visited the Consulate de Mexico in Dallas to meet with Hispanic community leaders, curious onlookers, media and fans. He added a new group to the latter list via his visit to Cook Children’s.

“I feel like the most important part is just to give these kids an amazing experience. An experience that they will remember for life _ forever,” Suarez said. “And I feel like so far it’s been just like that, but just on my side as well, designing the car with someone like Chip Foose. Actually, I’m a big fan of Chip. He’s an amazing car-builder that I’ve been following for a long time. And all these kids, you can tell right away the experience that they’re having.”


Daniel Hemric actually went slower to emerge atop the final practice sheet Friday afternoon for the My Bariatric Solutions 300 NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Texas Motor Speedway.

Hemric, of Richard Childress Racing, toured TMS’ 1.5-mile oval in 28.963-seconds/186.445 mph on the sixth of his 41 laps. Hemric, driver of the No. 21 South Point Hotel & Casino Chevrolet Camaro, was second-fast in the first practice after lapping in 28.884-seconds/186.955 mph. That session was led by Ryan Truex of Kaulig Racing at 28.836-seconds/187.266 mph in the No. 11 Bar Harbor/Sea Watch International Camaro.

Team Penske’s Ryan Blaney, who was third in the first practice at 28.894-seconds/186.890 mph, moved to second in the final at 28.995-seconds/186.239 mph in the No. 22 Fitzgerald Glider Kits Ford Mustang.

The series’ qualifying record was set by Jeff Green in 2002 at 27.908-seconds/193.493 mph. Xfinity qualifying is scheduled for Saturday morning at 11:10 (CDT). The 200-lap/300-mile race is set for 2 p.m. Saturday and will be televised by FOX Sports.


Beer brewing giant Anheuser-Busch has signed a multi-year partnership with Texas Motor Speedway for naming rights to the Restart Bar, the venue’s latest fan amenity that will debut during the O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 NASCAR doubleheader weekend.

The deal was announced Friday during a media preview of the Busch Restart Bar featuring 2014 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Busch Beer Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing; Texas Motor Speedway President Eddie Gossage and Doug Mraw, Anheuser-Busch senior manager of experiential marketing.

The Busch Restart Bar will provide guests with an exclusive experience and one of the best views in motorsports. Located approximately 26 rows above the Restart Zone at the start of the dogleg section on the frontstretch of TMS’ 1.5-mile oval, this is the area where the field picks up speed to take the green flag for the start of the race as well as following each caution period.

Fans will have the option to watch the race from either outdoor or indoor seating, combining the close proximity to the on-track action with a suite-style experience. The Busch Restart Bar will feature outdoor seating at half-round tables, barstools and fixed seats as well as at bars backed by high-definition television monitors.

Guests also will have access to a climate-controlled indoor area to share conversation, enjoy food and beverage service, and follow the race on high-def TVs.

“After returning to NASCAR in 2016, we have continued to evolve our presence around the sport and make investments in the racing platform,” said Chelsea Phillips, VP of value brands at Anheuser-Busch. “NASCAR is a passion-point for Busch drinkers, and we’re always looking for new ways to engage fans with unique experiences at the track. Our new Busch Restart Bar at Texas Motor Speedway will do just that.”  

Admission to the Busch Restart Bar will include access to an all-inclusive food and beverage menu offering, a premium chair-back seat that sits above the Busch Restart Bar with every other row being removed to provide more spacious seating. There also will be room for in-seat, waiter service.

Admission to the Busch Restart Bar is $150 for Saturday’s My Bariatric Solutions 300 and $200 for Sunday’s O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 Cup race. The Busch Restart Bar already is sold-out for Sunday’s race.

The Busch Restart Bar also will be open for the Rattlesnake 400 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race on Friday, June 8; DXC Technology 600 Verizon IndyCar Series race Saturday, June 9; JAG Metals 350 Camping World Truck Series race Friday, Nov. 2; O’Reilly Auto Parts 300 Xfinity Series race Saturday, Nov. 3, and AAA Texas 500 Cup Series Playoff race Sunday, Nov. 4.

Anheuser-Busch will receive significant Busch branding in addition to featuring its beer brands in the deal. Busch has purchased rights to signage throughout the Restart Bar and on the concourse level as well as a prominent presence in the FanZone. The track wall below the bar will incorporate the Busch brand and be known as the Busch Restart Zone.


| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Friday, April 6 2018
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