NASCAR: Rough day in Michigan for Roush Fenway Racing

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At the track where they’ve had more success at than any other on the NASCAR Sprint Cup circuit, Roush Fenway Racing’s 2014 struggles continued.

Michigan International Speedway has been the site of 13 Cup wins from the Roush camp. But in yesterday’s Quicken Loans 400, their best result was a 20th from Greg Biffle (MIS’ defending June race winner), followed by Carl Edwards in 23rd and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. in 27th.

The dismal day marked the first time since the June 2000 event that no Roush driver finished in the Top-10 at MIS.

“That was a big struggle,” said Edwards, the lone Roush racer with a win this season. “It was pretty tough, but we worked hard and didn’t quit.

“Fortunately, we have a win to get us in the Chase, but we’ve just got to get better as a group. That’s the way it is.”

Biffle suffered for much of the race with a lack of grip, while Edwards dealt with a loose condition. Stenhouse had to soldier on after sustaining right-rear fender damage in an early incident.

“This is the story of our season,” Stenhouse said. “I felt like our Ecopower Ford was going to be good but I got into the wall avoiding the accident and damaged the fender which ruined our day.”

Meanwhile, Roush’s main partner in the Ford camp, Team Penske, continued their solid performance. Brad Keselowski finished third at home, Joey Logano was ninth, and IndyCar’s Juan Pablo Montoya was 18th in his NASCAR return.

Keselowski was sympathetic to Roush Fenway’s troubles, but tried not to go too far into them in his post-race comments – insisting that it was unfair for him to judge them since he knew “just enough to sound like a fool.”

“Their stuff is — I know they would probably tell you they’re not where they want to be, but I would always assume that they have something over there that we don’t,” he said.

Keselowski added: “I think the 99 team [Edwards] has been one of the strongest on pit road, and that’s where we’ve probably been — that’s probably our weak spot as a team.

“There’s probably something to learn there, so there’s always something when you share information, and I know it’s really important to Ford, and I’m sure we’ll continue to do so, whether they’re contending for wins or not.”

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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