All posts tagged Yates Racing

11 Posts

for loyalty or money?

Travis Kvapil and David GillilandBy virtue of being a woman I tend to lead with my heart. But I’m logical and intelligent and I understand cold hard facts. I know that money is usually the biggest deciding factor in the world of NASCAR race teams and in this economic climate it seems like it’s the only one.

Still, even with those hard truths, I can’t help but feel like there’s more at work with the lack of attention being paid to great drivers like David Gilliland and Travis Kvapil. These are guys that truly deserve more time to prove themselves on the racetrack. Gilliland finished 2nd at Infineon Raceway last year, the best race finish between the two Yates Racing drivers for the season.

So what does his effort get him? Only to be left without a ride and on contract with a company who has given the points he earned to the new guy, Bobby Labonte who hasn’t had a top-5 finish since 2006.

While Kvapil still has a ride for 2009 it doesn’t have a sponsor yet (although Golden Corral has signed on to sponsor him in the Daytona 500) and his points have been moved to Paul Menard. Menard has had only two top-10 finishes in his entire Sprint Cup career and Kvapil has had six.

That just doesn’t sit right with me. Frankly I’m pretty disgusted by it. I understand wanting and needing drivers that can succeed and rack up great finishes. I also understand wanting and needing drivers that are marketable. Both of those criteria are needed to secure sponsorships and I know that Gilliland and Kvapil are completely capable of both of those things.

I had the chance to interview them during the 2008 season and you’re not going to find more genuinely nice, honest and hardworking guys. They’re both well-spoken, good-looking guys with beautiful families. They also have the most important thing: the passion and drive to want to win races. They want to put in the work.

So why did Bobby Labonte and Paul Menard suddenly become the new fresh faces of Yates Racing? Because everybody knows who Bobby Labonte is and Paul Menard comes with a built-in sponsor.

I’m not saying that Yates Racing doesn’t value the talent they have in Travis and David. I don’t think they would have signed them on in the first place if they hadn’t. I just think it’s sad that they couldn’t have held on to what they’d accomplished, built on the team success they had from last year and figured out a way to stay loyal to drivers already in their stable.

It’s really sad when the choice of sponsorship over talent rules the day.

knocked over with a feather: travis kvapil is on the pole!

Travis Kvapil celebrates his first career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series pole on Saturday at Talladega Superspeedway in Talladega, Ala. He'll start first in Sunday's AMP Energy 500 after turning the fastest lap at 187.364 mph. (Photo Credit: Jason Smith/Getty Images for NASCAR)This afternoon I was driving to my local Starbucks for my regular Grande Cinnamon Dolce Latte hit and I turned on Sirius’ NASCAR channel. On the channel display it listed the top 5 car numbers for the AMP Energy 500 at Talladega. I freaked out for a moment and thought that maybe I was missing the race that it had somehow slipped my mind that the race was tonight and not tomorrow. Of course I was right, the race is in fact tomorrow and that line up of car numbers was just for today’s qualifying session.

The top car on the list was Travis Kvapil’s No. 28 Academy Sports + Outdoors Ford Fusion. Which is probably why I thought the race was on and maybe he was leading, but to find out that Kvapil is on the pole for the AMP Energy 500 is just so awesome! I can’t believe he’s on the pole. It’s so cool. I am so happy for him and his team. I really, truly hope that he and David Gilliland get a good finish out of the race tomorrow. No, not a good finish, a great one!

Talladega is going to be crazy tomorrow and I cannot wait to see what happens!

In other news…

– This has nothing to do with racing but I feel the need to share. You must, I repeat, you must buy the following two CDs: “Only By The Night” by Kings of Leon and “New Surrender” by Anberlin. These bands rock my world in the most wonderful way. I cannot live without music, it’s probably my second most favorite thing in the world behind writing and these guys are amazing. If you’ve never heard Kings of Leon before they’re this sort of modern southern rock band, and Anberlin is indie/alternative rock. Both have great lead singers with beautiful and unique voices. Check them out, you will not be sorry!

menard to yates?? what?!

This is the exact reaction I had after reading the AP headline of Paul Menard to leave DEI for Yates Racing.” While I can’t say I didn’t see this coming, rumors of this have been around for a long time, it’s still a big thing to read. I mean, really? Seriously??

This better not affect David Gilliland and Travis Kvapil negatively. I’m just sayin’. I don’t put anything past anyone these days. With the economy being what it is, I would not be surprised if the field of cars for each race next year is down to only 13 teams. Wow, I just thought about that. That would really suck.

interview: meeting travis kvapil – part two

Travis Kvapil inside the No. 28 Hitachi Finally, here is part two of my interview with 32-year-old Wisconsin native Travis Kvapil, driver of the No. 28 Hitachi Power Tools Ford Fusion for Yates Racing.

I had intended to get this online yesterday but I didn’t get home until late Monday night after driving over 300 miles. Plus Tuesday morning I interviewed retired NASCAR driver and current ESPN racing analyst Dale Jarrett. So when you combine trying to come to terms with the fact that I did indeed speak to THE Dale Jarrett yesterday and the amazing birthday weekend I had at the Auto Club Speedway and the fact that I haven’t been feeling well these past couple of days it has led to me being very late with posting all of this stuff. So bear with me!

I know in part one of this interview I’ve already stated that Travis was super nice but I have to say it again and add that he was honest and forthcoming. I like writing about the Yates Racing guys because I feel like they’re in a very good position to do great things in their careers, their stories are just beginning really, and it’s nice to know that in meeting Travis it didn’t cause me to lose my belief that a win for him and his teammate are just around the corner.

interview: meeting travis kvapil – part one

Travis Kvapil at Pocono earlier this year (photo credit: Getty Images for NASCAR)I had the opportunity to speak with Travis Kvapil, driver of the No. 28 Hitachi “Inspire the Next” Ford Fusion, one-on-one before practice and qualifying today at the Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. I have to add that this is the first time I’ve interviewed a driver in person. The whole morning leading up to it my stomach was in knots and I was so incredibly nervous. In the end though, it went really well.

Travis was really nice and super easy to talk to, definitely a good guy with a realistic understanding of the sport of racing. I should confess that the real reason I’m breaking this interview up into two posts is that I forgot to bring my laptop charger. It never fails; I always forget something when I go on a trip. When I went to Chicagoland I forgot my toothbrush.

And so here’s the first part of my session with Travis. Part two should be posted sometime Tuesday after I get back home. I’ll also have a ton of other posts to share about my Labor Day weekend in general.

where will i be in 2009?

Highway 5 in California (photo credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)The 2009 NASCAR schedules were released today (check out the full 2009 Sprint Cup Series schedule here). When this happens it makes me examine my life and what my plans are for the year ahead. I wasn’t intending for that statement to sound so… ominous? serious? Anyway, when I get to the Auto Club Speedway later this month I will have attended 5 NASCAR race weekends this year, which is a new personal best, but it leaves me well short of my goal of attending at least one race a month.

I really want to do something awesome next year but I’m not quite sure how to frame it and where to start. About a million ideas run through my head everyday. Most of which involve an Airstream trailer, my own show and a driver to take me everywhere so that I only have to worry about how I could possibly interview the likes of Dale Earnhardt Jr. without sounding like a nut job. Whether the show is a podcast, vodcast or reality show is still up in the air.

Of course the real problem with all of this is that pesky little thing called money. I think you might have heard of it. I truly think a major oil company should sponsor me (and all of my exploits) next year. It just makes sense. I’d feel a lot better about paying $4 a gallon if Shell, Sunoco, Exxon or Chevron was footing the bill for me to live the dream next year. Wouldn’t you? Okay, maybe you wouldn’t but you’d get the benefit of it by reading all of my funny stories about life on the road as a crazy California girl NASCAR fan.

In other news…

– Bristol Motor Speedway is Eva Busch’s favorite race track and she had this to say about it:

“It was the very first track I ever visited and that trip to Bristol will always stand out as being so special,” Eva explained. “Kurt and I hadn’t been dating that long back in 2003 when he invited me to come to Bristol for the night race (on Aug. 23, 2003). I took him up on the offer, but really didn’t know what to expect. Having the Bristol night race as a first-race experience was impressive enough, but to be there and see Kurt win in my first time to the track was extra-special. There’s always something special about coming to Bristol and I think there will always be. The night race there is just unbelievable. You have to experience it to believe it. As exciting and impressive as it is on TV, there’s just no way to do it justice. You really have to be there to witness it live. I guess you could say that I got spoiled pretty fast at Bristol. Kurt won the night race in 2003 and we came back for the spring race of 2004 and he won that one, too. I know just how much Kurt loves the track and that affection for Bristol has certainly rubbed off on me through the years, that’s for sure.”

Travis Kvapil will be driving KITT this weekend at Bristol. Suhweet! Okay, not exactly but his car will promote the NBC show “Knight Rider,” which is still really cool:

Yates Racing and NBC announced today that in a unique partnership between Ford Motor Company and NBC, Travis Kvapil will pilot the No. 28 “Knight Rider” Ford for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Bristol Motor Speedway on August 23rd. The sponsorship by NBC of the No. 28 Ford comes in anticipation of the television series premiere of NBC’s “Knight Rider” on Wednesday, September 24th at 8:00 p.m. EST.

On the heels of NBC’s hit movie, the iconic 1980′s television classics comes roaring back to life as a reinvented, updated and super-charged action series showcasing the new KITT (Knight Industries Three Thousand). As absolutely the coolest car ever created, KITT is equipped with “AI” (artificial intelligence) that is capable of hacking into almost any system. The vehicle’s weapon system matches that of a jet fighter, its body is capable of transforming into other vehicles, and the car uses sophisticated holographic imagery to elude villains.

“This is such an awesome sponsor for our team at Bristol,” commented Kvapil. “The television series ‘Knight Rider’ is a show that everyone can get hooked on. I think it’s really cool that NBC has chosen to reinvent the series for the Fall line-up. The best part about the show was always the car, KITT, and this is amazing that I get to drive a version of KITT for the night race at Bristol. It’s every guy’s dream to feel like they are an action hero and I get to have that chance under the lights of Bristol with our No. 28 ‘Knight Rider’ Ford.”

interview: chatting with david gilliland – part two

David Gilliland (Photo by Kent Horner/Getty Images for NASCAR)The following is the second (and final) part of my interview with David Gilliland, driver of the No. 38 DISH Network Ford this weekend at Watkins Glen.

I think you’ll find that what he has to say is truly refreshing. Here is someone who is determined to see his dreams realized and is all about doing the work necessary to make that happen. And frankly I can’t think of a better reason to sponsor the guy.

Oh and as you read this you should know that I am very aware of the fact that I used the word “feel” waaay too much.

:)

Me: How do you feel about Yates Racing as a whole, as an organization? Do you feel like you guys are definitely moving in the right direction in that the base is becoming more and more solid to become a Championship organization?

and then we came to the end

The sun sets over Chicagoland Speedway on Saturday, July 12, 2008 (photo credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)After driver introductions I slogged back through the grass and onto pit road. I felt awkward about where to stand for the National Anthem. It’s hard to not feel like you’re in the way, plus should I really be out there anyway? I decided to split the difference and I stood at one of the garage entrances, which also left me standing just behind Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s pit crew and in front of Jimmie Johnson’s. I looked behind me and there was Ron Malec, car chief and rear tire carrier for the No. 48, looking insanely gorgeous. I’m sorry but that guy is really, really cute. Like really, every time I saw him over the weekend I had to take a moment.

Everybody lined up and then they introduced Gavin DeGraw as a country singer. That was funny. I think I snorted. And then a few of the guys from the No. 88 AMP Energy/National Guard team said, in unison, “Who???” I think I snorted at that too. Ahh, good times, good times. Later on I caught sight of Gavin taking a seat in Kurt Busch’s pit box next to Kurt’s wife Eva.

I watched the race start and then went back to the media center to eat dinner. That’s another great thing about being in the media center, free food. It really is a great benefit; I didn’t have to worry about what I was going to eat the whole time I was at the track.

I didn’t want to watch the whole race from the lunchroom, and I didn’t want to stand on pit road all night killing my lower back in the process, so I walked down the road to the grassy area next to the infield tunnel. I sat on the grass and watched the cars roll through the space between turns three and four. It was a great place to sit and watch the cars go by. Obviously I had no idea what was really going on with the cars and the drivers that drove them. But I knew that nothing wonderful was happening for Dale Jr. or the Yates Racing guys ’cause their numbers weren’t on the pylon. Well they were but just waaaay down at the bottom where it scrolled through the running order two places at a time.

As odd as it may seem it was really peaceful sitting there. I had earplugs in and it dulled the roar of the engines nicely. I waited until they hit 200 laps before walking back to the pits. I stood behind the pits for the Dave Blaney and the No. 22 Caterpillar Toyota. At one point the crew chief and some other dude were visibly pissed about something that happened to their car because it caused both of them to take their anger out on the pit box.

The end of the race was a rollercoaster. I was up when Carl Edwards took the lead and then down when he lost it. I was up when Jimmie took the lead and then I stayed down when he lost it too. If only he could have held on. If only.

I went into the garage and took pictures of Dale Jr. talking to a TV crew. Carl was next to him doing the same. I caught some of the press conference with Jimmie and Kevin Harvick and then I left just before it was over. I saw both of them as they walked out the back of the media center.

Yet again getting out of the track was a breeze. So remember how I said that I thought I had finally gotten the hang of driving in Chicagoland? Well of course on my last trek I realized I had never taken the right way back to my hotel. I had never gone the exact route my navigation system had initially specified. At some point I had always taken a wrong turn and then it recalculated to get me on the right path. This ended up being kind of a cool thing.

There are two things Joliet is famous for in my mind (besides being the home of Chicagoland Speedway of course). One, it’s the hometown of the very first America’s Next Top Model winner, Adrianne Curry (wife of the guy who played Peter on The Brady Bunch) and two, it’s also home to a ginormous prison that they used to film FOX’s drama Prison Break.

So going into my trip I wanted to see the prison. On my final, and correct, drive back to the hotel I got to see Joliet Correctional Center! The prison isn’t open anymore, they closed it back in 2002. But ok, so it was at night and actually really kinda freaky — especially when you add in the “Do Not Pick Up Hitchhikers” sign that sits across the street from it — but it was also cool!

So that was my Chicagoland weekend. The next day, Sunday, I checked into a hotel in downtown Chicago and went to the Gavin Rossdale concert at the House of Blues. At some point I’m going to write about that experience in my other blog.

I had so much fun at the races. On the plane to San Francisco I knew that I wanted to go home, ’caused I missed it and my family, but at the same time I really, really wished I could go to Indy next week.

:)


Ron Malec (photo credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)

Car chief and rear tire carrier Ron Malec before the start of the LifeLock.com 400 at Chicagoland Speedway on Saturday, July 12, 2008. (photo credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)

No. 88 AMP Energy/National Guard Chevrolet team (photo credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)

The crew for the No. 88 AMP Energy/National Guard Chevrolet before the start of the LifeLock.com 400 at Chicagoland Speedway on Saturday, July 12, 2008. (photo credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)

No. 22 Caterpillar Dodge pit crew (photo credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)

The pit crew for the No. 22 Caterpillar Toyota prepare to go over the wall during the LifeLock.com 400 at Chicagoland Speedway on Saturday, July 12, 2008. (photo credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)

Dale Earnhardt Jr. (photo credit: The Fast and the Fabulous

Dale Earnhardt Jr. speaks with media after the LifeLock.com 400 at Chicagoland Speedway on Saturday, July 12, 2008. (photo credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)

crew members need to feel the love too

The No. 38 FreeCreditReport.com Ford Fusion gets pushed through inspection at Infineon Raceway (photo credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)On Sunday before the race I walked pit road taking the usual pictures and I found the pit boxes for the No. 28 and No. 38 Yates Racing teams.

I have to say that I’ve been thinking about the guys on pit crews a lot lately, mostly because you don’t hear much about them individually or even as a group. Drivers constantly talk about how it’s a team sport and they couldn’t do it without their guys but how much do we really know about the men on these teams? And how much do they know about their fans? Unless you’re on the crew for the most popular drivers it’s hard to know who’s rooting for you or if they are at all.

On television in pre-race shows they sometimes do profiles of this crew member or that one for some special or unique story, but it’s never a consistent study of who these guys are and how they feel about their teams chances each week. I suppose it would be really hard from a PR standpoint to control all of those voices but it would be refreshing to hear them.

So with that being said I took the chance to talk to the pit crew guys — that were there — from Travis Kvapil and David Gilliland’s teams. I asked them if they ever went online to their team website to see what their fans were saying. They all said that they don’t go online and some guessed that maybe the comments were negative.

I told them that they had a bunch of fans out there that supported them 100%. So the comments from these guys surprised me and got me thinking. Since these guys don’t have time to spend online searching for what people are saying, I think that if you’re a Gilliland, Kvapil or Yates Racing fan you should send a letter to the crew members. Don’t send it to Travis or David — send it to the guys on the team. Just to be clear I’m not saying you shouldn’t write to the drivers too, you totally should, but don’t forget about the other guys that make up the team.


Crew members from the No. 28 California Highway Patrol Ford Fusion team (from left to right): Tire Runner John Horn, Catchcan Bobby Grant, and Front Tire Changer Cory DeMarco.

Crew members from the No. 38 FreeCreditReport.com Ford Fusion team

Crew members from the No. 38 FreeCreditReport.com Ford Fusion team

testing the limits (of fun) at infineon

Haulers during a testing session at Infineon Raceway (Photo Credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)Yesterday I went to Infineon Raceway in Sonoma for the NASCAR Sprint Cup testing sessions. Let me tell you it was really cool!

First of all, it was free and you can’t beat free.

Second, everything was open. By open I mean seriously open. I parked my car in the garage area, literally next to the haulers. The garage stalls were right across from my car. When it’s a race weekend, everything is blocked off and you have to have a garage pass. There was none of that yesterday. There were no Hot or Cold garage warnings. If I had the balls to do it I totally could have walked right into someone’s garage and been like “Hey, what’s up? How’s the car handling today?”

That being said you really had to watch yourself ’cause the guys were coming in and out of the garage left and right and there was no one around with a whistle to tell you to get out of the way. Case in point a man with two kids was walking towards me in the grandstand/victory lane area completely oblivious to the grumbling race car right behind them.

I always wonder how drivers feel about having the fans right there looking at them, getting in their way, etc. It’s not like I can walk into the Chicago Bears locker room and stare at Brian Urlacher before a game, although if the NFL decides to start doing that sign me up! Just kidding. Sort of. Ok I’m not kidding.

Anyway, back to yesterday. I stood in the victory lane above pit road and realized that this was exactly where I wanted to be at that exact moment. It was so awesome to just be there, taking pictures and watching the cars drive by. There weren’t a lot of people on hand, although more started to come in as I was leaving, but all in all I probably saw less than 15 people all told — lots of grandparents, fathers and sons.

Travis Kvapil, David Ragan, J.J. Yeley, Marcos Ambrose, Sam Hornish Jr. and David Gilliland were all there to test cars in anticipation of the Toyota/Save Mart 350. J.J., David Ragan, Marcos and Travis tested in GT America stock cars provided by Pioneer Motorsports from Lake Oroville, California (outside Sacramento). David Gilliland drove a NASCAR Camping World Series West car. I seriously couldn’t tell who was who ’cause the paint schemes were not their own, except for Sam’s.

Of the drivers that were present I only saw J.J., David Gilliland and Sam outside of their cars. I got a photo of Sam on his cell phone. It was so odd trying to take a photo them. I felt like a paparazzo. You feel like you should be able to say something but you can’t.

I took some very, very bad video of a couple cars on the track. I haven’t quite gotten the hang of video taping live action events, so forgive me. :)

Here’s a quote from David Gilliland talking about the importance of Infineon:

“People used to think, ‘This is Sonoma, a road race. I’m not good at road races.’ But now, with the points so close, you can’t give up on one race,” said Gilliland. “You can’t have a bad race anymore and expect to be up front. It’s too competitive now, so people are starting to take it more seriously.”


Sam Hornish Jr. chatting on his cell phone during a testing session at Infineon Raceway (Photo Credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)

Sam Hornish Jr. chatting on his cell phone during the testing session at Infineon Raceway. (Photo Credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)

J.J. Yeley during the testing session at Infineon Raceway (Photo Credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)

This is the back of J.J. Yeley discussing stuff with his crew at Infineon Raceway. (Photo Credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)

David Gilliland talks with a crew member during the testing session at Infineon Raceway (Photo Credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)

And now the back of David Gilliland talking one of his crew members at Infineon Raceway. (Photo Credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)

More photos of the cars in my Flickr account!

my 80s flashback at pocono

The No. 9 crew escorts Kasey Kahne to victory lane after winning the Pocono 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Pocono Raceway (Photo Credit: Doug Pensinger/Getty Images for NASCAR)And so begins the television coverage of NASCAR from the fine folks at TNT. I really wish NASCAR could just be on one channel. One. Uno. But what can ya do right?

So TNT excitedly announced their new RaceBuddy feature on NASCAR.com, I didn’t bother to check it out — at least not yet — but the image that kept jumping to mind every time they mentioned it during Sunday’s race was the doll My Buddy from the 80s. I keep singing the theme song to myself “My Buddy, My Buddy, My Buddy, My Buddy and Meeeeeee!” and then I followed it up with “Kid Sister, Kid Sister, Kid Sister, Kid Sister and Meeeeeeee!” Bonus points to you if you remember My Buddy and Kid Sister and triple quadruple points if you actually had one!

Brad Keselowski, how can you not be happy for this guy? He raced his butt off and Brad Keselowski shares his first career trip to Victory Lane with his father, Bob, and mother, Kay, Saturday night at Nashville. (Photo Credit: Padraic Major for NASCAR) got his first NASCAR Nationwide Series win ever and I couldn’t be more excited for him and the Navy team. You could see the genuine relief and happiness in his eyes after the race. It was just so cool that his mom and dad were there. Those are my absolutely favorite moments in sports in general. Getting to see the family that has been with these guys from the beginning and getting to see them sharing that moment when they have their first taste of success, that’s pretty awesome. It’s another one of the million reasons why I’m so anxious for the Olympics to start.

Furthermore, didn’t it suck that Dale Earnhardt Jr. wasn’t there to be with his team for their first win? He didn’t even get to see it live on TV. DirecTV had a blackout and so for the last ten laps he had a friend relay the information to him online. Crazy.

Ok, so the Cup race at Pocono. Speaking of Dale Jr. what was up with him during his post race interview? I know that he’s not a super talkative guy after the races in general but that was less that usual. I’m sure it had to do with the heat, and it seems like all of the guys were feeling the affects of it after the race, except for Jimmie Johson who said he was totally fine. Right.

Kasey Kahne won another race and that’s great for him. I’m still miffed about the lack of attention that the Yates Racing guys have received. I want them to get a friggin’ top 5 finish so bad just so the media will have to talk about them for longer than 10 seconds.

In other news…

– Speaking of Yates Racing, both of their drivers will be here in the Bay Area tomorrow for testing at Infineon. I will be there too, taking pictures of whatever I can see. Hopefully something will be going on while I’m there, I won’t be able to stay the whole day.

David Ragan will be on an episode of “Lawrence of America” on the Travel Channel tomorrow (June 10th) at 11pm EST. Check your local listings. “It was fun filming the show with Lawrence last fall,” said Ragan. “I think he learned a lot and it will be a great way to hopefully introduce the sport to some new fans to the sport. We had a good time at the go-kart track, but next time we’ll go the big track and see how he does.”

– There’s still plenty of time to enter the contest for a free copy of the NASCAR Full Throttle Adrenaline DVD set.

– I don’t know what it is about Brian Vickers but every time I hear him speak I’m surprised by his southern accent. It’s like I forget that he has one every time I see him. It’s cute though, I like accents. There’s no big point to this, I’m just over sharing. :)


Brian Vickers finished second in the Pocono 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Pocono Raceway, moving up two spots to 17th in driver standings (Photo Credit: Chris Trotman/Getty Images for NASCAR)

Brian Vickers finished second in the Pocono 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Pocono Raceway, moving up two spots to 17th in driver standings (Photo Credit: Chris Trotman/Getty Images for NASCAR)

Mark Martin qualified third-fastest for Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Pocono Raceway, where he's finished second six times. (Photo Credit: Chris Trotman/Getty Images for NASCAR)

Mark Martin qualified third-fastest for Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Pocono Raceway, where he’s finished second six times. (Photo Credit: Chris Trotman/Getty Images for NASCAR)

Fellow Ford drivers, Jamie McMurray and David Gilliland, talk about their cars during a break in Saturday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series practice at Pocono Raceway (Photo Credit: Todd Warshaw/Getty Images)

Fellow Ford drivers, Jamie McMurray and David Gilliland, talk about their cars during a break in Saturday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series practice at Pocono Raceway (Photo Credit: Todd Warshaw/Getty Images)

Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Elliott Sadler share a laugh in the garage during Friday's practice at Pocono Raceway (Photo Credit: Jerry Markland/Getty Images for NASCAR)

Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Elliott Sadler share a laugh in the garage during Friday’s practice at Pocono Raceway (Photo Credit: Jerry Markland/Getty Images for NASCAR)