It Comes in Threes

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When the weekend begins there is always hope. Any given day a miracle can happen, especially at God’s “House of Speed” that we call Daytona. BJ McLeod Motorsports entered their second full season with 3 cars, the 8 driven by Champion Jeff Green, the 78 driven this weekend by development driver Clint King, and the 99 driven by veteran driver David Starr. All three were ready for a great weekend on the high banks.

Thursday started for the team as a simple “tech” day, going over all the new rules and inspecting the new cars for 2017. Without incident the team made it through the day and prepared for their first practice of the year.

Friday, “I wanna go fast!” With two practice sessions totaling less than two hours, the team didn’t have much time to work on any set up. Each car made a few single car, qualifying runs in Practice 1. Carefree Catering supplied lunch before the next session. Practice 2 saw more of the same from the team, single car runs to work on qualifying speed. The sessions flew by quickly and before you could look at the stopwatch, darkness was setting upon us.

The truck race, what a crazy event. It was filled with cautions and bent sheetmetal as the excited group waged war high and low. As the event went on you could hear the rumblings of the new rules, the new stages. Action couldn’t pick up anymore before Stage 1 ended. In those short laps, the truck drivers schooled the world on what the new format would bring. By the end of the race we had seen trucks take to the skies and mow the lawn multiple times over. When the checkered flag finally waved to call for peace, most trucks had seen their share of battle scars.

Overnight I think many owners and drivers hoped that Saturday would prove to be different, that drivers who were a little older and more experienced would be more set on the “Big Picture” of racing. With all the torn up pieces loading up there was plenty to remind everyone of how expensive this pay-to-play sport can be.

Fog lifted on the Saturday morning, the sun shining off the Atlantic and calling the combatants to arms. As the crews worked through prequalifying technical inspection, the drivers suited up in their modern day fire proof armor and set to mount their steeds. With the 99 locked in and Jeff Green the likely would-be recipient of the “Past Champion” provisional, the main worry would be the 78.

Jeff Green was the second to take time and jumped well out in front. Clint King took time and needed to outrun four others. He got three and when the 13 car failed to post time, Clint was in. David Starr was the eleventh to post time and easily qualified. The lineup was set. Starr would roll off P33, King and Green would roll P38 & P40 respectively. There was just a 3 hour wait before the green flag would unleash these knights on a battle long prepared for.

The cruelest of fates always seem to happen to the greatest of people. Sadly, the BJMM team was bit, immediately. Lap 1 would see the 3 fates turn their eyes on the 99 almost immediately, the engine that easily powered David Starr to P33 for the start would expire before even stretching it’s legs on the backstretch. Before the caution could halt the ensuing battle the fates then turned to the 8 car.

Jeff Green would suddenly lose power entering the backstretch. The car slowly rolled and Jeff would describe to the crew that there was an issue with the main power switch. As they pit under caution, all purpose team player Hunter Bullins would manipulate the switch in the dash to reestablish power and give life back to this iron horse. [Note: This was a mechanical issue. It does not pertain to the garage rule or the 5 minute rule. Those rules only apply to incident damaged vehicles. The team could have gone to the garage, taken three hours to repair it and still rejoined the race.] 

With the 8 back under power and the 78 behind (penalized back of field for pit road infraction after a subsequent caution) the team looked strong as they began to work their way through the draft. Jeff had already made up 2 of the 3 laps he fell during the first incident with the power switch. Poised to work their way into the fray they gained ground on the main pack.

The fates are known for being numbered in threes; so they struck. With the 99 in the garage the fates took to spinning their yarns. Jeff and Clint both looked to escape a large scale accident, they got slowed up, but as is so often the case, you get tied up in another’s mess. The 8 car would sustain terminal damage immediately. Crew Chief, David Ingram, called it directly to the garage. Clint came to the attention of his crew. A red flag would interrupt work and pause their 5 minute clock at 3 minutes, 30 seconds.

As the red flag was withdrawn, the crew set to work trying to mend the wounded vehicle. There are times when seconds feel like minutes, but under these conditions it is quite the opposite. The minutes streamed by as quickly as water under a bridge. Time was up before the crew could get it rolling again. The day was done.

Though the results were not at all what any member of the team wanted, the drivers were safe, nothing hurt save a little pride. That is what matters the most, people.

People make this sport go and I believe that when people unite with a common goal they can and often do achieve uncommon feats. The team will have all hands on these cars, shaping and bending and molding and nurturing them back to health.

The BJMM team records finishes P38, P39, and P40. However, they were there. All three cars made it into the race and none of them retired due to something they did. This is a humbling experience, but the team is up to the Herculian effort it takes to come back.

We will see them back again and I will see you in the box.

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BJ McLeod with wife Jessica prior to the Powershares QQQ 300 at Daytona.

 

…and if you need an Ice-Frost Cold drink after this, I will join you…

Moves at BJMM

Unlike any other sport, the “Silly Season” of NASCAR never truly ends until the green flag flies at the next race. Leading up to Saturday’s NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Daytona the BJ McLeod Motorsports team has signed driver David Starr, a veteran, to pilot the number 99 Chevrolet Camaro. The move also will result in driver, Clint King, moving from the 99 to the 78 Chevrolet Camaro normally driven by the owner/driver, BJ McLeod. BJ will return for the second race of the year to his 78 car.

BJ McLeod has stepped out for the season’s first race to ensure that the young Development Driver has the largest pool of talent around him to succeed. McLeod is dedicated to helping foster young talent for the series and giving these drivers the much needed experience to be successful in their future.

“[Driver Development] is very important for us as that is the future of our sport.”

The last week has seen a heroic effort by all members of the team, including BJ returning to the wrenches, to prepare the third and final Chevrolet Camaro for past NASCAR Xfinity Series Champion, Jeff Green. This will finalize the manufacturer change from a stable of Ford Mustangs to Chevrolet Camaros. The switch comes to provide the best possible equipment on the track each week. This combined with a group of talented mechanics, crew chiefs and drivers, makes for a very promising future.

BJ McLeod Motorsports shows a willingness to change and move to ensure they will be a competitive mainstay within the garage area for years to come. Not only will they strive to provide competitive race cars but also provide a proving ground for young drivers to make their mark. This should bring plenty of excitement to the team and the track every week. You can follow along for all the latest from the team on their Twitter: @teamBJMcLeod as well as on their FaceBook: BJ McLeod Motorsports and their InstaGram: bjmcleodmotorsports

From the press release issued Tuesday:

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B.J. McLeod Motorsports to field three XFINITY Series cars at Daytona

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – To kick off their sophomore season of NASCAR XFINITY Series (NXS) competition, B.J. McLeod Motorsports (BJMM) will field three cars in Saturday afternoon’s PowerShares QQQ 300 at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway.

21-year-old Clint King will drive the team’s flagship No. 78 Chevrolet Camaro with sponsorship from Warehouse Design, while 2000 XFINITY Series champion Jeff Green will drive the No. 8 Chevrolet Camaro with longtime competitor David Starr rounding out the trio in the No. 99 Striping Technology L.P. Chevrolet Camaro.

“The guys have worked extremely hard, day and night to prepare three cars to go to Daytona, but we’re ready,” said team principal B.J. McLeod. “We have youth and experience representing our team this week, which we hope will provide opportunities to earn some strong finishes and kick off our 2017 XFINITY Series season on the right foot.”

King enters the second week of Speedweeks 2017 with momentum after finishing ninth in the season-opening Lucas Oil Engine Treatment 200 ARCA Racing Series race last Saturday.

Green will make his 24th start at the “World Center of Racing” and look to repeat his seventh place showing last February.

Starr, the Houston, Tex. native is set for his 10th career XFINITY showing at the 2.5-mile superspeedway.

For Daytona, B.J. McLeod Motorsports is proud to welcome the support of Carefree Catering, ICE- FROST and @CouchCrewChief who will serve as associate marketing partners for the team’s 34th career XFINITY Series race.

The PowerShares® QQQ 300 (120 laps / 300 miles) is the first of 33 NASCAR XFINITY Series on the 2016 schedule. Practice begins on Fri., Feb. 24 from 12:00 p.m. – 12:55 p.m. A final session is set for 2:00 p.m. – 2:55 p.m. Qualifying is set for race day, Sat., Feb. 25 beginning at 10:30 a.m. The 40-car field will take the green flag shortly after 3:30 p.m. with live coverage on FOX Sports 1, the Motor Racing Network (Radio) and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio (Satellite Radio, Channel 90).

Be sure to follow B.J. McLeod Motorsports on social media; Facebook.com/bjmsinc and on Twitter @TeamBJMcLeod.

About Carefree Catering:

Carefree Catering: Central Florida’s fastest growing full-service caterer! Family owned and operated, their passion for elegant as well as tasteful catering goes back many years. Whether you’re hosting a cocktail party for 20, a 50th Anniversary celebration for 100, or planning a wedding for 250, look to Carefree to make your event a success. We also cater to the Pharmaceutical industry providing delicious luncheons on short notice. Our goal is to have you join our growing list of satisfied clients who rely on us for all of their catering needs.

About ICE-FROST:

ICE-FROST is a combination of environmentally safe minerals that when added to the ice in your cooler, will take the temperature down from 30° (that’s the average ice temperature in a cooler) to a frosty -10°.

Extend the life of your ice. Turn your cooler into a freezer. Made in the USA.
About @CouchCrewChief:

Six years ago, Jonathan Gruenke, started the twitter handle @CouchCrewChief as a fun race day gag. In the following years, it has grown to include in-race updates and a motorsports blog focused on new drivers, new teams, and road crew members who sacrifice to entertain the motorsports fans.

About B. J. McLeod Motorsports:

B.J. McLeod Motorsports (BJMcLeodMotorsports.com) is an American professional stock car racing team that currently competes in the NASCAR XFINITY Series. The team is owned by B. J. McLeod and wife Jessica. The team will field three Camaro Chevrolets in the Powershares QQQ 300 at Daytona International Speedway with drivers Jeff Green (No. 8), Clint King (No. 78) and David Starr (No. 99).

The Heart of Competition, the soul of racing.

From the time the second horseless carriage was finished, we had automobile racing. At the very core of all sports is the objective to be better than the others. In motorsports, there is no exception to this rule.  In fact, only in motorsports is it amplified to combine thousands of variables and potentials factors.

To start you have man versus man, machine versus machine, tire versus tire, motor versus motor. Every single piece of that car is competing against its counterpart in another machine. Who is the best? What is the best? This is where I raise my questions, especially for my favorite, NASCAR.

I understand that NASCAR has to make money, they have to show profit, they have to pay people. My problem comes when you sign companies as, “The Official …. Of NASCAR.” you start blocking sponsors out of the sport. You limit the number of companies and people in your sport. You limit your competition.

If competition is the soul of your sport why would you prevent anyone from being involved. The best way I can explain the problem is to give an example and walk through it, at least, in my mind. One of the easiest things, tires.

Good Year is the official tire of NASCAR and thereby is the sole manufacturer of tires in NASCAR touring series. NASCAR gives them special privilege and they get to choose tracks and times for special tests to develop tires. Also, they are the only tire available to competitors and therefore they can charge whatever they want and don’t need to strike deals with any team, no sponsorships, and quite honestly Good Year can control everything.

Years ago we had a small tire war. Hoosier versus Good Year. The tire companies fought for teams and drivers, they fought each other to see who could bring the faster tire. There were times it came down to the endurance and durability of a tire, but they were a factor. Teams had an option.

Today if Hoosier or Bridgestone or Continental wants in, nope, sorry. We are out of competition here. What would happen if NASCAR opened it up to all manufacturers of tires? Teams could make deals and bargains with tire companies. They could get sponsorships. Tire companies could come in with a faster tire at the sake of endurance. Maybe one of the companies comes in with a tire that lasts forever but is slower. Maybe a small team sacrifices speed for durability so they only need 2 or 3 sets for a weekend.

The biggest argument I have ever heard against allowing more tire companies in is that you would probably have more blow outs. I invite you to think back a few years after a Good Year tire failed on Tony Stewart’s car, he was mad! He was so mad he said on national TV that none of his personal cars would ever have Good Year tires again. Wouldn’t it have been awesome if the next week he could have come back with another type of tire on his car? Competition would ensure that companies couldn’t bring a product that failed to the track on any regular basis. A few years back, could we say the same about Good Year?

That is just one example of competition in the sport that we lose out on. Now Monster Energy owns the market, title sponsor, they block out any new energy drink companies from entering any of the touring series in NASCAR. This in and of itself limits all teams from pursuing certain venues for sponsorship. Instead Monster should welcome the competition, they should be loud and proud and scream, “Bring it on!” They don’t. I would understand blocking the other companies from sponsoring pole awards and individual races. Those are NASCAR functions. Teams are not.

Healthy competition brings out the best in sports and motorsports. In the end, that’s what all fans want to see. My car outran your car. I drink Pepsi and my car outran your Coke car. You have beer car feuds. Limiting sponsors limits those fan rivalries which power the crowd.

In my opinion, we need to let more car manufacturers in, more tire manufacturers, and we need to quit limiting sponsors from the sport. In this day and age every company will spend every penny they can if they can gain a tenth of a second, you’ll never stop that. Let teams explore all sponsorship avenues. Try to bring Dodge back. Try to get Honda in. Get the car companies fighting for teams. The cost won’t necessarily go down but manufacturers will be helping to offset that cost.

All of this will help bring fans back to the stands, back to the TVs, back to the sport. If we want a healthy sport, all levels of motorsports must embrace competition on every level. In the office, on the track, in the cars, with the drivers. That’s what keeps our attention.

Again, that’s just my opinion….

I’ll see you in the box.

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@CouchCrewChief reaches social media partnership with BJ McLeod Motorsports!

Six years ago, Jonathan Gruenke, started the twitter handle @CouchCrewChief as a fun race day gag. In the following years it has grown to include in-race updates and a motorsports blog focused on new drivers, new teams, and road crew members who sacrifice to entertain the motorsports fans. @CouchCrewChief is excited to have a multi-race partnership with BJ McLeod Motorsports. “Partnering with a team who took a dream and made it reality is a huge honor. The team embodies the spirit of motorsports and shows that with hard work and dedication anyone can achieve their dreams, I am happy to be along for the ride.”

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BJ McLeod Motorsports 2017

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At the age of 33, BJ McLeod is set to start his second full season as a team owner and driver in the NASCAR Xfinity Series. He has amassed a total of 76 career starts in the top 3 touring series, he posted a best finish of 19th on 3 separate occasions last year and finished 20th in overall NASCAR Xfinity Series points.

BJ McLeod has been in and around racing for quite a few years; getting his start by racing ATV’s at the age of 3 and having worked his way through many different series and disciplines of racing. His 4 wheel career took off running Super Late Models and logged over 100 wins! He continued to hone his skills and develop through premiere series including ARCA Racing Series and has taken a ride in Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series and multiple rides in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and NASCAR Xfinity Series. This driver/mechanic put down the wrenches to focus on the duties of owner, driver, and general manager.

“In the past I had to [work on the cars], to get to here. It was just me and 1 or 2 other guys. Any manual labor I do [on the car] now is because I want to. I have 5 or 6 guys that help me.”

In 2016 BJ’s team fielded Ford Mustangs and added a second full time driver to their lineup late in the year, veteran and past Champion, Jeff Green.

“It’s just a good deal for us. He has a ton of experience. When he gets in the car, you know that you’re just working on the machine now. I’ve been asking Jeff’s advice for years. Charlotte 2015, the May race, I had to get a car in on time, we only had 6 laps of practice; I asked him -How far can I get away with driving into the corner? -He said you can run wide open into one turn but will have to lift a little in 3 and 4, but try this.- …and I got in on time easily. He can start you out in the right spot, right off the bat.”

Starting out in the right spot will prove crucial to the team. Not yet having full funding holds the team to a limited amount of time for practice, regardless of the length of the session. Racing against 4 new full-time fully funded teams and multiple fully funded part-time teams, BJ and his team will have an uphill battle.

“If it was just this year over last year, I would expect top 20, a lot. With all the new teams, unless we get a full time sponsor, the reality of the situation is we will be 25th to 30th.”

However, these results will not be for lack of effort and determination. The BJ McLeod Motorsports team has a few changes for 2017. After Daytona they will field all Chevrolet Camaros, Daytona will see Jeff Green pilot a third car, a Ford Mustang.

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BJ McLeod (@bjmcleod78) will pilot the 78, sponsored by Carefree Catering (@CarefreeCater), Ice-Frost (@Ice_Frost__) for #ICEFROSTCOLD beverages, and @CouchCrewChief social media.

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Clint King (@driverClintKing) will also drive a part time schedule for BJ McLeod Motorsports in the 99. Sponsored by Warehouse design (@WDI103), Momo Motorsports (@MomoMotorsport), Safecraft Safety Equipment, and Lira Motorsports (@LiraMotorsports).

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Jeff Green (@buckcentral10) will pilot a BJ McLeod Motorsports car for a full season of competition. In addition he will be a valuable asset to help BJ and other development drivers get the most out of each lap.

This year the team will ramp up social media efforts via Twitter @teamBJMcLeod, Instagram bjmcleodmotorsports, and FaceBook BJ McLeod Motorsports @bjmsinc. These will all have updates from the start of the truck weekend in Daytona and go throughout the year, to include in-race updates, practice and qualifying times, tech days, and everything you could ever hope to know or see from the track. If you haven’t followed them in the past, these will be great for all fans of motorsports. There are sure to be some contests and possibly some major giveaways along the way.

“Social media is as big as the TV deal or bigger. It’s non-stop, it doesn’t turn off when the race does. That’s why we are working to get bigger. We want to make sure we are doing right by the sponsor, working to get their name out there and do a good job for them.”

This young team has a big heart, lots of determination, and continue to drive for excellence. They will work day and night to get the best finishes possible. If you would like to speak with someone in regards to sponsorship and publicizing your business with BJ McLeod Motorsports, please email: Nathalie@bjmcleodmotorsports.com for an affordable, customized, and flexible plan to fit your ambitions.

As we inch ever closer to the start of the season, I can only think BJ said it best…

“I’m just ready to get after it man, get down there and race.”

BJ McLeod Motorsports

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Ahnna Parkhurst 2017

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I am excited to have the opportunity to speak with Ahnna Parkhurst. Driver of the number 23 Shane McDowell Racing (who recently acquired Team Dillon Racing) dirt late model. Spending time in both Super Late Models and Crate Late Models, this 16 year old lady looks to impress anywhere she goes. She started racing at the age of 13, in December of 2014 she signed a Development Driver contract with RCR! After 3 1/2 years she is fast tracking!

Ahnna got her start by attending NASCAR races and building friendships with people inside the Richard Childress Racing organization.

“One day Mr. Childress asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. So I told him, ” I’d love to be a race car driver. I’ve just fallen in love with the sport.” A few days later Mr. Childress asked my dad how he felt about me getting into some go karts. My dad was 100% on board with it.”

Ahnna raced a season and a half of mini outlaw go karts, then went on to compete in dirt late models. During her first full season of late models she was also given the opportunity to drive a Southeast Super Truck, an asphalt truck series. 2017 will be her second full season in dirt late models. She will compete in the NeSmith Chevrolet Dirt Late Model Series. It consists of 16 races. She will also compete in 55-60 other races of her choice in the Crate & Super Late Models.

Ahnna has attempted 2 events in the Crate Late Model already in 2017. Luck has not been on her side and she has come across a few issues, but is undeterred. Also, she has competed in her Sportsman car twice in 2017 and has finished 3rd both times!

“I’m really looking forward to grabbing the first win of my Late Model career as well as hopefully being named NeSmith Rookie Of The Year! The biggest challenge will be competing with a number of talented drivers at numerous tracks while on the touring series. My first time in a Super Late Model will also be a challenge!”

When not at the track, Ahnna enjoys deer hunting and working on the race cars, but still balances it out with shopping and getting her nails done. As an outside observer it seems she finds balance in everything. With all the time spent at the track she also likes to spend time with friends and family.

Family is very important to her, her lead sponsors are T-Gen and Lauriesfund.org, please make sure to visit http://www.lauriesfund.org and read the story that has touched her and her whole family.

With all challenges in life and racing, there are lessons to be learned. When asked about her most important lesson on track she replied very quickly.

“Just being smooth behind the wheel. Everything from throttle control to steering. Driving a smooth race helps with a number of things, from successful finishes to saving tires.”

Given how fast she has moved in her racing career, it won’t be long before she starts mixing it up in the upper levels of NASCAR. Could she beat Austin and Ty Dillon on dirt today?

“I don’t think so, yet. Maybe someday, I hope! They have taught me everything I know and hopefully one day I can apply it to racing against them.”

With her drive and determination, I think that “someday” she mentions, may be closer than anybody thinks.

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Ahnna would like to thank: TGen & Lauriesfund.org, Richard Childress Racing, Austin, Ty & Mike Dillon, John Morley Companies, F&W Transportation, UNOH, Kevin Harvick Managment, Bad Boy Off Road, K&N Filters, FK rod ends, Hunt Brothers Pizza, Aria, Sparco, GW Performance, Keyser Manufacturing, Allstar Performance

Follow Ahnna on Twitter: @ahnnaparkhurst or on FaceBook: Ahnna Parkhurst Racing

Clark Houston 2017

“I think I’ve always dreamed of driving race cars from the time I could understand what the sport was really about. I didn’t think of it as a reality until my dad started working for Richard Childress Racing and I got to know Austin and all the other guys over there who helped me get started racing go karts at 10 years old.”

Clark Houston, 15, is racing his own way through in the number 6 Outlaw Kart at Millbridge Speedway in Salisbury, North Carolina. You can find him racing adults, like Kyle Larson and Ricky Stenhouse, in the Wednesday night program with the entire family looking on.

“My dad [Andy] gets into the crew chief mode and is only worried about one thing, winning. Mom gets more nervous and worried but most of the time keeps cool until I’m on the track.”

Mother, Lorie, admits she gets nervous but enjoys watching. She also enjoys watching Andy because he gets excited for Clark. It would be hard not to get excited for the young man. He won his first race in the Boxstock Divion which he entered mid year of 2013. The following year he won the Boxstock Division Championship before entering the adult division, Outlaw Karts.

“Most of the consistency came from my dad helping to give me one of the fastest karts out there each week. It was still very surprising for us to be as competitive as we were that early on.”

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Entering the Outlaw Karts, Clark has already had early success. Winning heats, starting on the pole, and racking up top 5’s and some top 2’s. He is already making his mark. While not currently sponsored he is helped by Loren Ranier who lets Clark run his kart, try different motors, and helps with setups and other equipment to be fast. The step from Boxstock to Outlaw is huge, going from 12 HP to around 70 HP in a kart that is roughly the same size has had it’s challenges.

“This was a huge change for me because it was also a completely different driving style. When I was qualifying, practicing, and making laps I was fine. It was the racing that was the hard part. It took me a little while to learn that you didn’t always have to go all out to be fast during a race. You see, during a race it’s all about trying new things to figure out how you can find speed and get around the guy in front of you which, in the beginning, is what I really struggled with.”

Clark’s first race is March 15th at Milbridge Speedway. With his history, willingness to learn, and natural talent, he is ready to win.

“I have had a few close races, we just need the luck to go with it and I really feel like this year is my year.”

 

Follow Clark on Twitter: @clarkanator6

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