Coca-Cola 600 Pit Note #9
Stenhouse the New McMurray? – After qualifying ninth for Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600, his first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event, with just 12 practice laps under his belt Ricky Stenhouse Jr. downplayed his goals.
“We’re just looking for the checkered flag and 600 miles,” said Stenhouse, who is replacing Daytona 500 winner Trevor Bayne while Bayne recovers from an undiagnosed illness. “This is probably the only Cup start I’ll have for the year, so I just want to learn and keep the car in one piece.”
Reminded that Jamie McMurray won his first career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race in 2002 while subbing for an injured Sterling Marlin in just his second start, Stenhouse looked startled.
“We’re not thinking that at all,” Stenhouse said.
“He’s lying,” said McMurray, who admitted he’d forgotten Stenhouse was in the car until talking to former crew chief Donnie Wingo later in the week about the Joplin, Mo., tornado. “I told [Donnie], ‘You got Ricky at a really good time. He’s like me back in 2002.’”
And he is. Stenhouse is young, eager, fast and fearless: all qualities that make him capable of pulling off an upset.
“He jumped in the No. 21 car and in the first two or three laps was up to speed. He’s a really good race car driver and a really good kid. He’ll be tough on Sunday,” McMurray said.
Supporting the Troops – A number of drivers will be honoring military men and women with special patriotic paint schemes this Memorial Day weekend. Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 29 Budweiser Chevrolet, will pilot a special version of his Chevrolet this weekend, one he described as a “bad-ass jet-fighter looking car.” Jimmie Johnson will drive a special red-white-and-blue version of his No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet and David Reutimann will drive a similarly themed version of his No. 00 Aaron’s Armed Forces Foundation Toyota. Dave Blaney’s No. 36 DisabledAmericanVeterans/Golden Corral Chevrolet will pay homage to the military men and women who have been injured in the line of duty. AJ Allmendinger will debut the U.S. Air Force sponsorship on his No. 43 Ford Fusion this weekend, while Dale Earnhardt Jr. (National Guard/AMP Energy Chevrolet) and Ryan Newman (U.S. Army Chevrolet) will also feature military paint schemes, but with heavier hearts.
“It’s a good time to reflect on what the military has sacrificed for us,” Earnhardt Jr. said. “It is a good time to thank somebody you know that has served and tell them how much that means to you.”
PRN Grows – Performance Racing Network (PRN), one of the largest sports radio networks in the country, has added to its impressively long list of affiliates by adding stations in Houston, Chicago and Cincinnati.
“Those are all top-30 markets, representing a potential increase of 14 million listeners,” said PRN President and General Manager Doug Rice. “That’s a huge step forward for us.”
Rice has watched the network grow from about 275 stations when he started in 1988 to the current total of 413 affiliates nationwide. For a complete list visit www.goprn.com. PRN can be heard in Charlotte, N.C., on WRFX 99.7, which will begin broadcasting Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600 at 5 p.m. Today’s Top Gear 300 can be heard on Fox Sports 730 AM.