Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Quicken Loans Race for Heroes 500 at Phoenix International Raceway will be the second-to-last in the Race for the Chase. Sundays race of 312 laps/miles will drop another four drivers from the Chase, leaving just four Cup drivers going for the Championship at Homestead next weekend. Involved drivers have decals over their driver doors indicating victories and in some case, status.
The drivers at battle Sunday are, in points order: Joey Logano No.22 Shell Pennzoil Ford; Sunday’s pole sitter, Denny Hamlin No.11 FedEx Ground Toyota; Ryan Newman No.31 CAT Mining Chevrolet; Jeff Gordon No.24 Axalta Chevrolet; Matt Kenseth No.20 Dollar General Toyota; Carl Edwards No.99 Fastenal Ford; Brad Keselowski No.2 Miller Lite Ford; and Kevin Harvick No.4 Budweiser Chevrolet.
Meanwhile, out in the Cup Garage, activity has increased ten fold. Engines are running at top decibel, fans are thronging everywhere in their own chase for autographs, photos, selfies and the like. Pit Tours are being led. Various members of the military and first responders are guests of the track, sponsors or teams as a Thank you. Tuesday is the American’s Veteran’s Day and in England/Canada, Sunday is Remembrance Day.
More than a few teams have Military and First Responders graphics on their race cars.
Speaking of graphics on cars, the Carlos Cardoso above the passenger door of Jamie McMurray’s No.1 Liftmaster Chevrolet is honoring the retirement of the CEO of associate sponsor, Kennametal. And on the rear bumper of AJ Allmendinger’s No.47 GLAD Trash Bags Chevrolet is another retirement honorific.
Ken Clapp Chairman of the Board for The West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame announced the Class of 2015 at a special Press Conference at PIR.
In alpha order, they are:
Jerry Baxter, Crew Chief now for Kyle Busch Motorsports. He got his starts in Southern California building and overseeing race car construction, buying Baldwin Engineering. He directed Michael David’s winning K&N Pro Series West championship and then moved to North Carolina to work on Cup teams.
John Cardinale, the late Vice President of Communications, at what is now known as Sonoma Raceway. During his 20-year track tenure he was an active BOD member of the WCSCHOF, and “made more friends among the automotive media in California than virtually anyone else in the business.” He died way too young from stomach cancer.
Jason Leffler of Long Beach CA had a very successful midget car career, winning three consecutive USAC Championships 1997-1999. He was also successful in USAC Midgets, Silver Crown before moving to NASCAR three top tier series.He returned to open wheel racing and sprint cars, and was killed in a racing crash last year at Bridgeport Speedway.
Warren Razore of Seattle was a successful businessman who became a K&N Pro Series West stock car team owner with victorious drivers such as Roy Smith and Derrike Cope. He died young from complications of Hodgkin’s Disease.
Doug Richart has been involved in stock cars since his teens, becoming the youngest championship wining crew chief in Sprint Cup racing when he ran Dale Earnhardt’s first championship in 1980. Since then he has been crew chief for a variety of owners and teams, including Ron Hornaday’s 1996 title in the NASCAR Truck Series. In 509 career Cup starts spanning 25 years, he was chief for 13 victories, 67top fives, 119 top tens and five poles.
Jim Williams used his successful beef supply company to sponsor cars owned by Roger Penske, and for Al Unser’s fourth Indy 500 win. He also was a major force behind the creation of Irwindale Speedway and the NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown.
Among those seen in the Cup Garage Sunday morning, showing around other doctors, was PIR track doctor, Dr. Paul Kozak of the Mayo Clinic. Nice to see that he’s not busy in the Medical Center.
And now, for two more photos from Saturday’s NASCAR Nationwide Series DAV 200 Race.