Variety Is Getting It Done For Davis
Dave Davis was involved in the NASCAR Camping World Series East — back when it was the NASCAR Busch North Series — and has seen it evolve into NASCAR's premier regional touring series.
The latest changes in the series, which dates back to 1987, has brought an influx of NASCAR Sprint Cup Series influences. Yet, as Joe Gibbs Racing looks for its second owners championship in the last three years, there is a strong contingent of independent car owners up to the challenge.
Among those is the remarkable 2009 story of Dave Davis Motorsports, who has used three different drivers and sits third in points heading to a track where the team has to be considered one of the favorites.
Patrick Long, who piloted the car in the season's first two races, will be back in the driver's seat this weekend at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International. Long is an accomplished road course drivers and has been on the winner's podium at Daytona and LeMans. The Porsche factory driver from Thousand Oaks, Calif., won the GT2 Utah Grand Prix at Miller Motorsports Park in Utah with teammate Jörg Bergmeister two weeks ago.
"We're all excited," Davis said. "We can't wait to get to Watkins Glen."
The No. 03 of Dave Davis Motorsports currently sits third in owners points with 616. Gibbs, which has had drivers Matt DiBenedetto, Kyle Busch and Max Gresham in the No. 18, leads with 669 points, and James Burgess' No. 88 of Jody Lavender is second at 625.
JGR is planning to run DiBenedetto at Watkins Glen.
Davis knows the odds. But he doesn't see as a David and Goliath situation.
"I just feel like the guys that I have that work at the shop every day that build our own cars — we're one of the few teams that builds our own chassis, builds our own bodies — they're guys that could do to Cup teams and be the best people they've got," Davis said, "but this is what they like to do.
"They're committed to Dave Davis Motorsports; I'm just thankful to have them."
Long got the No. 03 started in the right direction with a surprising sixth-place performance at Greenville (S.C.) Pickens Speedway in the season opener. Despite his limited asphalt oval experience, he followed that up with a fifth-place finish at Tri-County Speedway in Hudson, N.C. Long started ninth and steadily made way through the pack, and was running third on the final green-white-checkered restart before he got shuffled back after nearly making a three-wide pass for the lead.
"He impressed all of us; that's not really his background," Davis said. "It's just been a remarkable story."
With Long committed to the race in Utah, Jeffrey Earnhardt jumped in the car at Iowa Speedway and drove it to a fourth-place finish. Sean Caisse filled in at South Boston (Va.) Speedway and finished seventh. Now they're back to Long.
"We're really looking forward to what Patrick really does and that's road racing," Davis said.
Davis has a knack for putting talent behind the wheel of his cars. He also fielded a car at Tri-County for Trevor Bayne, who finished sixth.
Davis last visited Victory Lane with driver Rogelio Lopez in 2007. Last year, Lopez, Kevin Swindell and Matt Hirschman drove for him. Swindell is the son of dirt legend Sammy Swindell, while Hirschman is the son of five-time NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour champion Tony Hirschman. In addition, Davis provided a car for NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Kasey Kahne at Iowa Speedway. Kahne finished second to Brian Ickler.
Swindell is slated to drive the No. 9 as Long's teammate at New Hampshire Motor Speedway June 26.
Action on the track for the Tioga Downs 125 at The Glen will begin with practice and road race style qualifying on Friday, June 5.
The 51-lap race is set to take the green flag on Saturday at 10 a.m. For ticket and event information, please visit the track's Web site: www.theglen.com.
News & Notes
The Race ... The Tioga Downs Casino 125 at The Glen is the fifth event in an 11-race schedule this year for the NASCAR Camping World Series East, and the only trip to the Empire State. This is the first of two road course races for the series in 2009.
The Procedure ... The starting field is 32 cars, including provisionals. The first 28 cars will have secured starting positions based on road race style qualifying. The remaining four spots will be awarded through the provisional process. The race will be 51 laps (125 miles).
The Track ... Watkins Glen International is a 2.45-mile road course that features 11 turns. A temporary road course in and around the village of Watkins Glen in 1948 was the genesis of what became the permanent facility in 1956. The first professional race at the permanent road course was a NASCAR Grand National (now known as Sprint Cup Series) event in 1957 won by Buck Baker. The current configuration of the track came about in 1992.
Race Winners ... The NASCAR Camping World Series East competed at Watkins Glen from 1993-2004 and returned last year. Andy Santerre - current owner and crew chief of the No. 44 team - Ted Christopher and Bryon Wall are the only drivers with multiple wins, with two apiece. Matt Kobyluck won last year's event.
Pole Winners ... Dale Quarterly's two poles at Watkins Glen are the most in series history. Antonio Perez, who set the series' track qualifying record last year at 74.223 seconds (118.831 mph) will look to tie Quarterly this year.
Last Year's Event ...Matt Kobyluck's road to his first championship started at The Glen — and it was worth the wait.
An extended red flag for inclement weather interrupted the series' first trip to Watkins Glen since 2004. Kobyluck trailed Marc Davis during the stoppage, and was still looking for his spot to make the pass in the closing laps when a caution flag extended the race to 55 laps. On the restart, Kobyluck emerged from the first turn scramble between Davis and pole sitter Antonio Perez with the lead. Both Davis and Perez suffered cut tires from all the contact. Perez wound up 10th and Davis 13th.
One more caution flag on the final lap cemented Kobyluck's victory.
Jeffrey Earnhardt matched his best career finish with a second place, leading a trio of Dale Earnhardt Inc. drivers across the finish line. Teammates Trevor Bayne and Jesus Hernandez finished third and fourth, respectively. Steve Park, who won at The Glen in 2000 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, finished fifth.
Bryon Chew was sixth, followed by road-course ringers Jason Holehouse and Tim Cowen. Ricky Carmichael and Perez rounded out the top 10. Perez's Coors Light Pole Award winning lap was a record time of 74.223 seconds.
Last Time Out: South Boston
Rookies Steal the Show ... Sunoco Rookie of the Year candidates Brett Moffitt and Ryan Truex showed just how talented the 2009 class is when they captured the race and pole, respectively, in last Saturday's South Boston 150. Moffitt surpassed Joey Logano as the youngest race winner in NASCAR Camping World Series history and Truex joined his older brother, Martin Truex Jr., as just the second pair of siblings to earn Coors Light Pole Awards in series history. Truex became the third driver in as many races at South Boston to win their first career Coors Light Pole Award at South Boston, following Peyton Sellers (2007) and Ricky Carmichael (2008). In addition to taking home the winner's trophy, Moffitt also earned the Camping World Happy Camper, Sunoco Rookie of the Race and Wix Lap Leader Awards. Truex also came away with the Featherlite Most Improved Driver Award.
Gifford Strong in Second Start ... Speaking of successful rookies, Richard Childress Racing development driver Ryan Gifford was on the move in his second NCWSE start. After a 17th-place finish in his debut at Tri-County Motor Speedway on April 25, Gifford qualified 10th at South Boston and finished as the race runner-up. Gifford's efforts earned him the Coca-Cola Move of the Race Award.
Notable Debuts ... A pair of development drivers made their long-anticipated debuts Saturday at South Boston. Max Gresham, one of two drivers who will share the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 18 Toyota, had a strong run and finished fifth. Ty Dillon, the younger brother of 2008 NCWSE Rookie of the Year Austin Dillon, made his first start in the No. 3 RCR Chevrolet and came home eighth, a respectable finish at the fast .400-mile oval.
Standings Update ... With his third top-five finish of the season, Jody Lavender maintained the points lead following the South Boston 150. Moffitt's win vaulted him past Matt Kobyluck and Eddie MacDonald into second, now just 26 points behind Lavender. With a third place finish, Truex improved from 12th to seventh in the standings and was the weekend's biggest mover. On the owners side, J.D. Gibbs stayed atop the standings by virtue of Gresham's fifth place effort.
Home Tracks: New York's Southern Tier Jewel
Watkins Glen International might only have three NASCAR dates annually, but 35 miles down the road fans can find NASCAR racing every Saturday night.
Chemung Speedrome is a .375-mile banked oval in the Southern Tier community of Chemung, N.Y. Chemung currently promotes seven divisions of its NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Saturday night program: NASCAR Weekly Modifieds, Super Stocks, Northeast Modified Lites, 4 Cylinders, Juniors, Legends and Bandoleros.
Tony Hanbury won the Chemung track title out of the Weekly Modified division on his way to the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series New York State championship in 2008. Hanbury already has four wins in 2009 and is atop the standings.
The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour will also compete for the second year in a row at Chemung on Saturday, Aug. 29.
Up Next: New Hampshire
The NASCAR Camping World Series will make the first of two visits to New Hampshire Motor Speedway in 2009 on Friday, June 26.
The Heluva Good! Summer 125 will mark the 50th running of the NASCAR Camping World Series East at the 1.058-mile Loudon, N.H., oval. Along with the Whelen Modified Tour, the Camping World Series East was the first NASCAR series to compete at the ‘Magic Mile' on Sept. 2, 1990. Mike McLaughlin won both races that day to fuel his climb in the NASCAR ranks. Eddie MacDonald won both East races at NHMS a year ago and Center Harbor, N.H., native Brad Leighton has the most wins in series history at the track with eight.
The NASCAR Camping World Series will be joined at NHMS for the race weekend by the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, NASCAR Nationwide Series and the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour. The green flag for the Heluva Good! Summer 125 is set to drop on Friday at 5:10 p.m.