Michigan Update: Kasey Kahne crashes out of the lead

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Leading by 3.6 seconds, Kasey Kahne has slammed into the Turn 2 wall, bringing out the yellow at Lap 104 of today’s Sprint Cup race at Michigan International Speedway and triggering a wave of pit stops under caution.

The race off pit road was won by Dale Earnhardt Jr., followed by Matt Kenseth, Greg Biffle, Joey Logano and Carl Edwards.

Kahne had taken the lead from Earnhardt on Lap 90 and was pulling away until his accident. He had started third on the most recent Lap 81 restart, which was led by Earnhardt and another HMS teammate, Jimmie Johnson. Both cars appeared to have wheel spin on the restart, but while Earnhardt recovered, Johnson fell back after being hit in the rear by Martin Truex Jr. as the field stacked up behind them.

“Hope you’re happy NASCAR, I did what you’d wanted me to do. And I got wrecked,” Johnson said afterwards over his radio according to TNT – presumably, a reference to NASCAR’s restart penalty against him two weeks ago at Dover International Speedway.

Johnson had clawed his way back to third place as of Lap 100 of 200, showing a stout pace himself. The Sprint Cup championship leader, who has never won at Michigan, had held the lead from Lap 64 to a debris yellow at Lap 76. He then lost the race off pit road to teammate Earnhardt one lap later.

Matt Kenseth and Kevin Harvick were having solid days, crossing halfway in fourth and fifth respectively.

Earlier, Kurt Busch quickly took the lead from pole sitter Carl Edwards after the green flag dropped, and led the opening 21 laps of the race. But on Lap 29, he lost control of a loose car while running fourth and hit the wall in Turn 2. He has now fallen multiple laps down as a result.

The first yellow of the day came out at Lap 7, when Bobby Labonte got loose in Turn 2 and collected Jeff Gordon before they both went into the wall. A competition caution also came out on Lap 20.

IndyCar: Schmidt Peterson Motorsports expands mentoring program for tech school students

Photos: Schmidt Peterson Motorsports
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IndyCar team Schmidt Peterson Motorsports announced today that it is extending and widening a unique sponsorship and mentoring program that began last season with students from Lincoln Technical Institute.

The program began last year, with students from several Lincoln Tech branches attending select IndyCar events for an entire weekend.

The students, primarily from auto and diesel training programs, got an insiders experience with the team, taking part in team meetings, watching team workers prepare and service the No. 5 Arrow Electronics Honda of driver James Hinchcliffe, sat on pit boxes during practices, qualifying and, of course races.

The overall experience was to get students more interested and involved in potential careers in the IndyCar field.

“We said at the beginning of last season that we knew our students would benefit and learn from the professionalism and drive of the Schmidt Peterson Motorsports team,” Lincoln Tech President and CEO Scott Shaw said. “But the experience they received working with the entire pit crew team and in particular crew member Cole Jagger – a Lincoln Tech graduate himself – went beyond even our own expectations.

“We were grateful for the time they spent mentoring our students, and we are thrilled to once again be part of the racing legacy of team owners Sam Schmidt and Ric Peterson.”

Lincoln Tech will once again serve as an associate sponsor on Hinchcliffe’s car for the entire 2018 IndyCar season. In addition, it is expanding its Mentor Program to select students to attend a minimum of nine IndyCar races from six last season.

Students are selected based upon their grade point average, attendance, conduct and overall commitment to becoming outstanding automotive technicians. An interest in IndyCar and a desire to work in the industry is also considered.

One student that took part last season, Tyler Crist of Lincoln Tech’s Denver campus, joined the team at the IndyCar race in Long Beach last April, watching as Hinchcliffe won the event.

“It was the best weekend of my life,” Crist said after the event. “It reminded me of why I joined this field in the first place and to never give up on my dreams.”

Jagger will oversee the expanded mentoring program this season. For Jagger, being involved especially hits home, as he is a graduate of Lincoln Tech’s Indianapolis campus.

“I totally enjoyed working with the Lincoln Tech students that participated in the Mentor Program last year and look forward to meeting this year’s group,” Jagger said. “Being a Lincoln Tech grad, I hope the students realize that if you have a passion for cars, a career in racing is something that’s not out of reach. If I can be an example for them to follow, that makes it even more rewarding.”

In addition to the at-track activities of the mentoring program, several Lincoln Tech branches across the country will utilize CNC computerized machining and manufacturing tools to assist in creating car parts for SPM.

“Through this unique partnership, we’re able to hopefully find the next class of talent that could one day be part of our organization,” SPM president Jon Flack said. “We’re looking forward to another year of the mentorship program and having their students be ‘boots on the ground’ gaining real-life experience with our team.”

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