This Week’s Monster Energy Chevrolet Silverado … Ricky Carmichael will pilot chassis TMS-009 from the Turner Motorsports NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) stable in Saturday’s O’Reilly Auto Parts 250 at Kansas Speedway. This is the same Monster Energy Chevrolet Silverado Carmichael raced earlier this season at Darlington Raceway where a late-race incident sent him to the garage area prior to the conclusion of the event, leaving him with a 30th-place finish. Built new in 2010, Carmichael raced this truck last season at Pocono (St. 17, Fn. 19) and Darlington (St. 16, Fn. 19).
- Kansas Count … Carmichael has logged a pair of NCWTS starts at Kansas Speedway and has a 12th-place finish to call a career-best. The Tallahassee, Fla., resident boasts a solid fifth-place starting average and a 17.5 finishing average. He has completed 244 of the 299 total laps run over those two starts and earned just over $25,000 in purse money. Last October, Carmichael made his lone NASCAR Nationwide Series start at the 1.5-mile Kansas City oval where he started 12th and finished 18th.
- A Look Back at Charlotte … Carmichael turned in a gritty performance two weeks ago at Charlotte Motor Speedway and logged a solid top-12 finish. The 31-year-old driver gutted out the final 80 laps on the same set of tires to notch a solid effort in just his second start at the famed 1.5-mile Charlotte tri-oval. At the same time, the 15-time AMA National Champion snagged three spots in the driver points, jumping from 16th to 13th in the standings.
- Fifty is Nifty … The 2011 season marks Carmichael’s second year competing on a full-time basis and third year overall in the NCWTS. Since making his series debut 50 races ago, the father of twins has gone on to earn three top-five and 13 top-10 finishes. Over those same 50 races, the motocross legend has logged a 14.6 average start, a 17.0 average finish, led 38 laps, completed 90.6 percent of the laps run, earning just over $660,000 in purse money.
- Get to the Point(s) … Carmichael is currently tied for 12th in the NCWTS driver point standings and sits just 14 points outside the top 10. He is 17 markers behind eighth-place Clay Rogers and just 24 points behind Turner Motorsports’ teammate James Buescher in seventh. Buescher picked up five more spots in the points with his fourth-place finish two weekends ago in Charlotte. Buescher is just 22 points behind Timothy Peters in sixth and 38 outside the top five. Brad Sweet, driver of TMS’s No. 32 Great Clips Chevrolet Silverado, turned in a top 10 in Charlotte and skipped from 24th to 21st in the standings.
- Welcome Aboard … Consentino’s Price Chopper and QT Kitchens will be featured on the lower-rear quarter panels of the No. 4 Monster Energy Silverado this weekend in Kansas. The Cosentino family opened their first market in 1948, located on Blue Ridge Boulevard in Kansas City. Since that time, the local family-owned grocer has aspired to provide excellent customer service in an exceptionally clean environment. Cosentino’s Food Stores currently operates 25 stores in the Kansas City area. The first generation is proud to watch the third generation of Cosentino’s Family members now taking part in the day to day operations and management of the company. QT Kitchens, located inside select QuikTrip locations, offers fresh sandwiches, wraps, fruit, salads and pastries.
- Meet the Driver … Carmichael, Buescher and Sweet, along with several other NCWTS drivers will sign autographs Fri., June 3 from 5 p.m. – 6 p.m. in the Sprint Fan Walk, located in between the NCWTS and NASCAR Sprint Cup Series garage areas in speedway’s infield.
- See the Monster Energy Silverado … The Monster Energy Chevrolet Silverado show truck will make four stops in the Kansas City area this week. On Thursday, the No. 4 machine will visit Consentino’s Price Chopper – 1100 South Highway 7 in Blue Springs, Mo. – from 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. Later that afternoon, the Monster Energy machine will head for Consentino’s Price Chopper located at 9717 North Ash Avenue in Kansas City, Mo. for a 4 p.m. – 7 p.m. visit. On Friday, Carmichael’s truck will be on display at Quik Trip – 389 North 130th Street in Bonner Springs – from 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. before making the final stop of the day at WalMart on Parallel Parkway, near the speedway, from 3 p.m. – 7 p.m.
- Nationwide Notes … In 13 NASCAR Nationwide Series races in 2011, Turner Motorsports-prepared entries have notched one win, 11 top-five and 28 top-10 finishes. Reed Sorenson, driver of the No. 32 Dollar General Chevrolet is currently third in the driver point standings and trails leader Elliott Sadler by a scant two-point margin. Justin Allgaier, driver of the No. 31 Brandt Chevy Impala is only 22 points behind Sadler in fourth while Nationwide Series staple Jason Leffler is sixth, just three points outside the top five. Turner Motorsports Nationwide Series teams will visit Chicagoland Speedway this weekend for the STP 300. The 14th of 35 races on the 2011 NASCAR Nationwide Series schedule will be televised live on ESPN on Saturday at 8 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time. The event will also be broadcast live on the Motor Racing Network and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio Channel 90.
- Up to Speed … The O’Reilly Auto Parts 250 from Kansas Speedway will take the green flag Sat., June 4 at 2 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time. The race will be televised live on SPEED beginning at 1:30 p.m. EDT and broadcast on the Motor Racing Network and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio Channel 90. Qualifying for Round 8 of the 2011 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series championship will be televised on SPEED the same day at 11 a.m. EDT.
RICKY CARMICHAEL QUOTES
You had a good run two weeks ago at Charlotte. What did you learn and is there anything you can take away from Charlotte and apply it to Kansas?
“For me, Charlotte is the most difficult mile-and-a-half we go to. It seems like the radius of the turns is a lot tighter than most tracks that are the same size and, for some reason, it feels like the tires are always harder. I learned a lot two weeks ago and I think we learned a lot as a team. Charlotte really helped my crew chief, Mark Rette, understand what I like and what I need to feel in the truck to be fast. I was disappointed in our qualifying effort. That’s one area where we need to be stronger, especially at a place like Kansas. I qualified third at Kansas two years ago and I started seventh last year.
“I like Kansas. Historically, it has been a good track for me. I haven’t had the best finishes but I’ve been fast. Now, with this being my second full-time season, I feel like I’m a much better racer so I’m looking forward to being there at the end. I’m also looking forward to trying to qualify better so we can stay on the same pit stop sequence and race with the same number of laps on our tires as everyone else. If we can do all those things right, I honestly feel that we’ve got a great shot at a top five or be in contention for a win.”
Kansas looks like a typical mile-and-a-half race track. What makes Kansas different from the rest of the tracks with similar layouts and configurations?
“They call Kansas a cookie-cutter mile-and-a-half but it really isn’t. Chicago is very similar to Kansas Speedway but Chicago has a little more banking. Kansas is much smoother than Chicago. I think Kansas is a great race track. It’s not too bumpy and Goodyear brings a really good tire. You can move around and run the middle and top lanes if you need to. That’s why I like Kansas. With the track being so smooth, you can really focus on racing and not worry as much about handling because of how nice the surface is. Obviously, you still need to pay attention to handling but, because the track is so smooth, it’s not as critical.”
You mentioned that you felt like the next several tracks like Kansas, Texas and Kentucky are all right in your wheelhouse. What makes those types of tracks favorites for you?
“The next three race tracks have been good for me. The first time I went to Kansas I was super-fast and qualified third. I think we’ve got a legitimate shot to win at Texas. Every time I’ve raced at Texas I’ve run up front. We were running third in the first race at Texas last year and had an issue with the right-front and that ended our night early. Last fall we ran up front for most of the night so that’s a place where I feel like I can do really well. I finished fifth at Kentucky last year and seventh the year before. I don’t know if I can put my finger on why these are good places for me. I guess they just suit my driving style. I get better as the season starts to roll on and we get into the meat of the year.
“Mentally, I’m just confident when we go to those tracks. Confidence breeds confidence. It’s contagious. That’s why I think my results get better when we get to this part of the year.”
What’s the key to a fast lap around Kansas Speedway?
“We’ll be wide-open for five – 10 laps and you’ve got to get your truck working good around the bottom. You have to take the shortest way around the track without putting too much wheel into it and binding up the truck. You have to keep it rolling. That’s the key for me. We need to be good aero-wise, too. There’s not much banking and we all know how temperamental these trucks are when you’ve got someone up against your right side. You have to be good aero-wise, be able to run the bottom and hold it wide-open for as many laps as you can.”
You’ve got three starts at Kansas, including one in the Nationwide Series. You finished 12th in the truck last May and 18th last fall in the Nationwide car. That being said, this is one track in particular where you have more experience than most of the other tracks on the schedule. How can you use that to your advantage?
“I don’t have as many laps as a lot of guys but I’ve got more laps at Kansas than I do at a lot of these tracks. I’m comfortable and confident going there. Kansas is one of those places where I’ve always been fast but I haven’t been able to seal the deal and a lot of that boils down to a lack of seat time. It’s going to be a good weekend. I’ve always been fast at Kansas and I’m a much better racer this year than I’ve been in the past. That’s my mindset going in to Kansas and that’s part of how I prepare myself.”
Is there anything special about Kansas for you? Is there anything you like to do while you’re there?
“There’s so much cool stuff around the race track. It’s like its own little city out there. That’s what makes it fun for me. There are great places to shop, really nice hotels and dynamite restaurants. It’s a happening little place out there, for sure. It’s cool going out there. It’s almost like a little Las Vegas … Especially once the casino is done being built.
“Clint Bowyer is racing a truck at Kansas Speedway and I’d love to be able to race that guy and do some battle with him. I know he’s in a different league than I am when it comes to racing on four wheels but Clint and I go back a long way. We raced motorcycles against each other when we were growing up and our families have always been very close friends. It would be a lot of fun to be able to get up there and race wheel-to-wheel with him in his home state and in front of his hometown crowd.”