Faces New and Old Begin March to Season Title In The Jet Tools 150
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Feb. 14, 2017) — A host of new drivers, and a crop of talented racers returning to the series, begin the march toward the 2017 NASCAR K&N Pro Series East championship when a brand new season takes the green flag in the Jet Tools 150 at New Smyrna Speedway in New Smyrna Beach, Florida, on Sunday, February 19. For the fourth consecutive season, K&N Pro Series teams begin their season during the World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing at New Smyrna.
Of the 28 drivers entered in the Jet Tools 150, the first of 14 races for the series this season, a full third of those drivers have participated in the K&N Pro Series previously. All three of last year's top three finishers, including race winner Todd Gilliland are entered this week. Collin Cabre and Jay Beasley are back in the Rev Racing fold for 2017, while Harrison Burton, Hunter Baize and Tyler Dippel all had strong 2016 season in the series and are looking to back that up with good opening runs at New Smyrna.
While getting the season off on the right foot with a trip to Victory Lane is the goal for most teams this week, winning the season opener has not proven necessary for championship hopes. No driver to win the Jet Tools 15 in any of the first three years went on to win the title — in fact, Ben Rhodes fourth-place finish in the inaugural event in 2014 marks the highest Jet Tools 150 finish by a championship winner. William Byron placed seventh at New Smyrna in 2015, while Justin Haley finished fifth last season.
And while none of the previous New Smyrna winners ended up winning that year's K&N Pro Series East championship, all have gone on to great things in their own careers. Daniel Suarez, who won the inaugural event in 2014, won the NASCAR XFINITY Series championship last year and is replacing Carl Edwards in the No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing entry in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. 2015 New Smyrna winner Austin Hill is entering his second full season in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series.
RACE: Jet Tools 150
PLACE: New Smyrna Speedway, New Smyrna Beach, Florida
The Race: The Jet Tools 150 will be the first of 14 races on the 2017 NASCAR K&N Pro Series East schedule.
The Procedure: The maximum starting field is 28 cars, including provisionals. The first 24 cars will secure starting positions based on the group qualifying process. The remaining four spots will be awarded through the provisional process. The race will be 150 laps (72 miles) with a five minute break occurring at or near the conclusion of lap 75.
The Track: New Smyrna Speedway opened in 1964 and has a grandstand capacity of 8,000. The .480-mile banked oval has 600-foot straightaways and 720-foot turns with 23 degrees of banking. The track was repaved in January 2007. Additionally, it's a part of the weekly NASCAR Whelen All-American Series and plays host to its annual February showcase, the World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing.
Race Winners: There have been three different winners in the three previous K&N East races at New Smyrna. Daniel Suarez, Austin Hill and Todd Gilliland are the only race winners at New Smyrna in series history.
Pole Winners: In the three previous events, there have been thee different pole winners. Cameron Hayley won the pole for the inaugural race at the track in 2014, while Austin Hill and Todd Gilliland each won races from the pole. Gilliland set the track qualifying record last season of 18.318 seconds (94.333 mph).
Jet Tools 150 Notes:
Double Duty: Defending race winner and reigning NASCAR K&N Pro Series West champion Todd Gilliland returns to New Smyrna this weekend with an eye on a busy 2017 season. The 16-year-old Gilliland, of Sherrills Ford, North Carolina, plans on running the full schedule in both the K&N East and K&N West this season for car owner Bill McAnally. Gilliland won six of 14 starts in the West series last season, and won his East debut at New Smyrna. Gilliland will have company for the East series run, too, as his father, former Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series driver David Gilliland, will field cars for Chase Purdy. The Mississippi native Purdy, 16, spent part of last season in the Late Model division at Greenville-Pickens Speedway.
Return Engagement: Including Gilliland, all three drivers who were part of an exciting, down to the wire finish at New Smyrna last season are entered in this year's edition of the Jet Tools 150. Joining Gilliland are Spencer Davis and Ronnie Bassett Jr, who finished second and third, respectively, in this race last year. The trio of drivers combined to lead all but nine laps in 2016 at New Smyrna. In fact, of the drivers who finished in the top 10 in this event a year ago, only Gilliland, Davis and Bassett are entered in this year's race. Davis, who won the Pro Late Model championship at New Smyrna's World Series in 2014, is driving a part-time entry for former series regular Ben Kennedy. His teammate for New Smyrna will be Anthony Sergi as part of Kennedy's two-car operation for New Smyrna.
Multicultural Flair: Diversity is well-represented in the K&N Pro Series field at New Smyrna. Collin Cabre returns to the seat of the No. 2 for Max Siegel as part of the Drive 4 Diversity program, while his brother, Chase, is alongside as a teammate in the No. 4 for the first time. Jay Beasley is in the No. 42 as part of the D4D program, too, as is Reuben Garcia Jr. of Mexico City. Two cars are entered for owner Troy Williams in the event, with Mexican driver Enrique Baca and Floridian Luis Rodriguez Jr. entered. Amber Balcaen of Winnipeg, Manitoba will be behind the wheel of the No. 39 for McClure/Martin Racing, and Jesse Iwuji will make his series debut in the No. 36.
Home Cookin': Two drivers with a track record of having plenty of success at New Smyrna will make their K&N Pro Series debuts in the Jet Tools 150. Travis Cope will make a start this week in the No. 31 for longtime car owner Ted Marsh, and while Marsh's roots are in racing in New England, Cope has made his mark at New Smyrna. Cope, of Weeki Wachee, Florida, has won three of the biggest non-World Series Super Late Model events held annually at New Smyrna. In 2013, Cope won the Governor's Cup at the track, following that effort by winning both the Orange Blossom 100 and the Red Eye 100 there the following season. But Cope isn't the only Super Late Model driver from the Whelen All-American Series ranks expecting to break through this weekend. Zane Smith of Huntington Beach, California, won the 2015 Super Late Model crown at the 2016 World Series at New Smyrna.
New Rules: Two new race and qualifying procedures will make their K&N Pro Series debuts at New Smyrna. Qualifying times will be recorded through the group qualifying process, with NASCAR determining the number of groups that will run in five-minute segments. Drivers may run as many laps as they wish during their five-minute session, with their fastest posted lap counting for their qualifying time. The green-white-checkered finish is gone this season, too, replaced by the overtime line currently used in NASCAR's national series. Once the field reaches the designated overtime line on the track, the race will be deemed official in case of a late caution flag.
NASCAR Home Tracks: New Smyrna Speedway
For the fourth straight season, New Smyrna Speedway hosts the NASCAR K&N Pro Series opener as part of the 51st annual World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing. Modifieds, Super Late Models, Pro Late Models and more are part of the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series track's World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing.
Aspen Dental Becomes Lead Sponsor of Patrick and No. 10 Team in 2017
KANNAPOLIS, N.C., (Feb. 14, 2017) – Aspen Dental, one of the largest and fastest-growing brands in the United States, has expanded its partnership with Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) to become the lead sponsor of Danica Patrick and the No. 10 team during the 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season. The No. 10 Aspen Dental Ford Fusion will debut in the season-opening Daytona 500 Feb. 26 at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway.
Aspen Dental has been a partner of SHR since 2012 and aligned with Patrick since 2014. As the brand enters its sixth year with SHR and fourth with Patrick, it will serve as the primary sponsor of Patrick's No. 10 Ford Fusion for a double-digit slate of races in 2017.
"Our commitment to Danica Patrick goes back almost four years and our relationship with SHR even further," said Bob Fontana, chairman and CEO of Aspen Dental Management, Inc. "She is a strong advocate for the Aspen Dental brand and a wonderful ambassador for programs like the Healthy Mouth Movement. Danica and Stewart-Haas Racing have encouraged fans to get started on the road to better oral health care while showcasing how Aspen Dental practices make it easy for them. We look forward to our enhanced partnership."
Patrick has shined a spotlight on oral health across a multitude of channels. As part of the promotion of the Healthy Mouth Movement – a community-giving initiative which has delivered more than $7.5 million in donated dentistry for veterans since its inception – Patrick's No. 10 car displayed a special paint scheme during the NASCAR Cup Series race at Chicagoland Speedway in September 2015 that featured the names of 2,200 veterans who had been honored by their friends and family. Patrick also appeared in "A Taste of the Future" – a hidden-camera video campaign designed to raise awareness about the long-term consequences of delaying dental care.
"From the first time I visited Aspen Dental's headquarters in 2013, I was struck by their commitment to helping people and changing lives," Patrick said. "I love working with organizations that care about people, and teaming up with a group that has such an important mission – breaking down barriers and helping patients get the dental care they need – is very rewarding.
"In the years since I first partnered with Aspen Dental, it's been fun to work on some unique projects with their team. From the 'Taste of the Future' video to launching the MouthMobile and then having the 'Turbocharged Tooth Fairy Squad' at Talladega last spring, we've worked together on some pretty impactful programs. It's incredible to see firsthand how many people they've helped. I'm looking forward to delivering the company's message at even more races this year."
There are nearly 600 Aspen Dental practices across 35 states and each practice offers patients a safe, welcoming and judgment-free environment to address their dental challenges. Every Aspen Dental practice offers a full range of dental and denture services – including comprehensive exams, cleanings, extractions, fillings, periodontal treatment, whitening, oral surgery, crown and bridge work – allowing patients to have the peace of mind that they are taken care of and protected, so they can focus on getting the healthy mouth they deserve. In 2016, Aspen Dental practices recorded more than 4.1 million patient visits and welcomed nearly 900,000 new patients.
"Aspen Dental has been a great partner for Stewart-Haas Racing for many years," said Tony Stewart, who co-owns SHR with Haas Automation founder Gene Haas. "We've both grown with this sponsorship and we know we can achieve even more thanks to their increased role with Danica and our No. 10 team."
About Aspen Dental Offices: Aspen Dental practices are independently owned and operated by licensed dentists. The dentists and staff at Aspen Dental practices are all about making sure patients have easy access to quality, affordable oral health care. With nearly 600 offices in 35 states, Aspen Dental-branded practices offer patients a safe, welcoming and judgment-free environment to get the full range of dental care they need along with the convenience and speed of onsite denture labs. That's why the Aspen Dental network of independent dental care providers is one of the largest and fastest growing in the U.S. and saw more than 4.1 million patients in 2016. To find out more about how Aspen Dental practices make it simply easier for each of their patients to get the healthy mouth they deserve, go to www.AspenDental.com.
About Aspen Dental Management Inc. Aspen Dental Management Inc. (ADMI) is a dental support organization that provides non-clinical business support services to independently owned and operated dental practices in 35 states. This can include services and recommendations related to finding the right location, leasing, equipment, accounting and marketing. This model leaves independent, licensed practitioners free to concentrate on patient care. For more information about the relationship between Aspen Dental Management, Inc. and the branded dental practices please visit www.AspenDental.com/about. To learn more about careers at ADMI and Aspen Dental practices, visit www.AspenDentalJobs.com.
About Stewart-Haas Racing:
Stewart-Haas Racing is the title-winning NASCAR team co-owned by three-time Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion Tony Stewart and Gene Haas, founder of Haas Automation – the largest CNC machine tool builder in North America. The organization fields four entries in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series – the No. 4 Ford Fusion for Kevin Harvick, the No. 10 Ford Fusion for Danica Patrick, the No. 14 Ford Fusion for Clint Bowyer and the No. 41 Ford Fusion for Kurt Busch. The team also competes in the NASCAR XFINITY Series by fielding a full time entry – the No. 00 Ford Mustang for Cole Custer – and one part-time entry – the No. 41 Ford Mustang. Based in Kannapolis, North Carolina, Stewart-Haas Racing operates out of a 200,000-square-foot facility with more than 300 employees. For more information, please visit us on the Web at www.StewartHaasRacing.com, on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/StewartHaasRacing, on Twitter @StewartHaasRcng and on Instagram @StewartHaasRacing.