NASCAR Sprint Cup Series News and Stats

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  • Dodge talking to NASCAR about returning UPDATE2: Sergio Marchionne, who is the CEO of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, said he spoke with NASCAR vice-chairman Jim France and International Speedway Inc. CEO Lesa France Kennedy about the return of Dodge to the stock-car series. The three had dinner Saturday night during the Ferrari Finali Mondiali at Daytona International Speedway. Marchionne, who is also CEO of Ferrari, was in town for the Ferrari-only World Finals and Sunday's Formula One exhibition. Asked about the return to NASCAR, Marchionne said, "Yes," then explained it. "I talked to Jim France about this (Saturday) night," he said. "I was the one who made the decision to pull out of NASCAR. I am the guilty party at the table. In 2009, we came out bankruptcy and tried to race NASCAR (but) with the big bills and make payroll was a stretch. We are in a different place now. I think it is possible we can come back to NASCAR. I think we need to find the right way to come back in, but I agreed with both Jim and Lesa we would come back to the issue." France confirmed that he had spoken to Marchionne about bringing Dodge back into NASCAR's top series.(Daytona Beach News Journal)(12-4-2016)
    UPDATE: NASCAR vice president of marketing and communications David Higdon commented: "There is increasing excitement around NASCAR. We continue to have on-going dialogue with a number of auto manufacturers about their interest in joining our sport. We look forward to exploration with them on this topic."(12-5-2016)
    UPDATE2: Any manufacturer wanting to come into NASCAR for the 2017 season would have had to make a formal request by September 2015. The current NASCAR rules require race-car renderings for new models to be submitted by more than a year before they ever are raced on the track. The deadline is Oct. 1 (more than 15 months before the actual debut), if the production car is already in production, and Jan. 1 (13 months before the debut), if the production car will start being sold in the year the Cup model debuts. A full-scale race car must be submitted to NASCAR by April 1 prior to the year of debut. To accomplish those tasks, an incoming manufacturer likely would have to hire some top personnel away from current NASCAR teams, and that has yet to happen (ESPN)(12-6-2016)

  • HScott Motorsports Will Not Compete in NASCAR in 2017 UPDATE: Harry Scott, Jr. announced in a team meeting that HScott Motorsports would not field a NASCAR entry during the 2017 season. Below is Mr. Scott's statement: "Over the past several months I considered a number of options for moving forward with the team. Regrettably there are no viable sponsor/driver options immediately available to allow the team to participate in 2017. One thing I learned about NASCAR is that it is a 'people business.' I will forever be grateful to the men and women who worked tirelessly to make HScott Motorsports successful. This includes our dedicated employees, sponsors and partners. We were fortunate to have the support of world-class sponsors like Brandt, DC Solar, Fraternal Order of Eagles, Pilot Flying J, and 5 hour ENERGY. Our racing program would not have been possible without the assistance of Rick Hendrick, Hendrick Motorsports, and Chevrolet. I love this sport and being part of it. I invested in NASCAR because I truly believe it represents the best racing competition in the world and the best people in all sports. Looking back, I will always be especially proud of the unprecedented success of our NASCAR K&N Series teams, including four consecutive championships and for the lifelong friendships that were forged over the last seven years. My hope is that we were able to develop drivers that will thrive at the highest levels for years to come. In a deal that was finalized late last week the #15 Charter, which was owned by HScott Motorsports, has been sold to Premium Motorsports (#55 & #98). The charter that was leased for the #46 team was sold by Premium Motorsports to Furniture Row Racing."(HScott Motorsports). So that means the 2nd FRR #77 with Erik Jone has a Charter for 2017. Premium Motorsports still has one Charter left (from the #15) to use, sell or lease in 2017.(12-5-2016)
    UPDATE: Scott had leased a charter from Premium Motorsports owner Jay Robinson for Annett's #46 car in 2016. That charter was returned to Premium, who then sold it to Furniture Row Racing, which is adding a car for rookie Erik Jones next season. Premium then bought the single charter Scott owned for the #15 car of Bowyer.(ESPN)(12-6-2016)

  • 50 Most Influential: Introduction in Sports Business: NASCAR's CEO and Chairman, Brian France, is ranked 23rd by the Sports Business Journal on its list of 50 most influential in sports business. 50 Most Influential: No. 23 - Brian France, Change from 2015: -10: The last 12 months were quieter for France after a two-year run of progressive moves that included a new playoff format, green initiatives, new TV deals, a new retail model and the sport's charter system. Critics debate the relevance of NASCAR compared to years ago, but France is hoping to end his year on a high note by landing a new title sponsor that could help the sport skew younger.(Sports Business Daily)(12-6-2016)

  • Johnson, Gordon gear up for 'high-spirited races' on Disney Junior: Disney Junior is racing into the new year with "Mickey and the Roadster Racers," a car-racing adventure series for preschoolers, featuring Mickey Mouse and his Disney friends, along with several NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers, including Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon. The first episode of the series -- which features Johnson's animated character -- will premier Sunday, Jan. 15 at 9:00am/et and 9:25am/et on Disney Channel and Disney Junior, respectively. Two additional episodes will air Monday, Jan. 16 at 9:00am/et and 9:25am/et on Disney Channel. Episodes will also be available on the Disney Junior app and Disney Junior VOD, as well as on iTunes. The series follows Mickey, his friends and their transforming vehicles as they race around the world and in their hometown of Hot Dog Hills. Off the track, Minnie and Daisy Duck run the Happy Helpers business, offering a helping hand to anyone in need. Johnson and Gordon appear as recurring race car drivers Jiminy Johnson and Gordon Gear, respectively. The two join a star-studded guest cast which includes Jay Leno, Gordon Ramsay and Hoda Kotb, among others. Designed for children ages two to seven, the episodes and story lines are geared toward teaching kids social and emotional lessons about friendship, teamwork, optimism and good sportsmanship.(HMS)(12-6-2016)

  • Cindric: An earlier Indy 500 start would bring NASCAR drivers: Team Penske president Tim Cindric says that the Indy 500's noon start is a major negative for NASCAR drivers who wish to attempt the Indy 500/Coke 600 'double' on Memorial Day Weekend. Cindric believes one obvious way to regularly encourage more fans through the gate for the race, and to boost TV viewership, is to encourage drivers to compete in both the Indianapolis 500 and Coca-Cola 600 in Charlotte, N.C.. He says the idea last attempted by Kurt Busch in 2014 could become more widespread were the Indy 500 to move from 12 noon back to its once-traditional 11a.m. start time. He commented: "The Indy 500's heritage was about getting the best drivers in the world racing there, whatever their specialized form of racing. So I'm in favor of anything that can add to the race's legacy, and someone doing the Indy 500/Coke 600 IndyCar/NASCAR double is an intriguing thing."(Motorsport)(12-6-2016)

  • Daniel Suárez receives hero's welcome in Mexico City: A NASCAR championship aside, Daniel Suárez is still making his name known in the United States. In his native Mexico, his name is etched in gold. He's a rock star, the kind of guy who draws large crowds of adoring fans, each one seeking an autograph or selfie or handshake or high-five. Need proof? Just look at the crowd that packed Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez on Sunday. Suárez served as the grand marshal of the NASCAR PEAK Mexcio Series exhibition race, continuing a whirlwind celebration that hasn't stopped since he won the NASCAR XFINTIY Series championship last month. Suárez could barely take a step without posing for a picture, signing an autograph or hearing the words "felicidades campeón (translation: congratulations, champion)." Suárez went out of his way to show his appreciation to fans who came to see him in Mexico City. After being interviewed over the public address system, Suárez slowly walked down the length of the frontstretch and waved to all of his fans. Chants of "Dani! Dani! Dani!" could be heard as a beehive of photographers followed his every step. The 24-year-old from Monterry, Mexico, was the NASCAR PEAK Mexico Series Rookie of the Year in 2010. He finished third in the championship battle in 2012 and runner-up in 2013.(NASCAR Wire Service)(12-6-2016)

  • NASCAR offers big economic boom for Virginia: NASCAR has seen attendance decline at its events in recent years, from 7.66 million in 2008 to under 6 million in 2015, and tracks are removing seating. Its teams struggled to get by as the Great Recession left sponsors less able to put money into their brand and into the sport. But despite these setbacks, the sport continues to be profitable and popular. Not only that, but it has proved to be a major draw and huge economic driver in the state. The Old Dominion University report said that while many studies and surveys talk about economic impact of sporting events and activities, such as college football games, it often excludes what it called "displaced expenditures." NASCAR fans from across the country come to where a race is being held and spend days in the area. They spend money lodging at local hotels, fueling up at area gas stations, eating at local restaurants and shopping at local stores. The report highlights two economic studies from 2009 on tracks in Virginia. One showed that Richmond International Raceway, which hosts two NASCAR premier series events every year, generates $557 million for the state, including $36 million in local and state tax revenues. The other showed that Martinsville Speedway generates $170 million a year statewide. That track also hosts two events a year. The report said stock car racing plays a major role in many parts of the state, both economically and socially. However, its concern is that if the trend of weakening attendance continues, it not only affects the sport, but also hurts the economies of these smaller communities in southern Virginia that in many cases are already struggling.(in part from WTOP)(12-6-2016)

  • Rusty Wallace Finishes 10th in Trofeo Pirelli World Final: The Ferrari Finali Mondiali wrapped up its four-day, first-ever North American experience Sunday at Daytona International Speedway, with two world titles determined and a historic appearance by Formula One drivers on the DIS 3.56-mile road course. World Finals were held in the Coppa Shell and Trofeo Pirelli competitions, with two 35-minute races. German driver Thomas Loefflad won the Coppa Shell event. Venezuelan Carlos Kauffmann took the Trofeo Pirelli victory. Rusty Wallace, the 1989 champion of NASCAR's premier series and a NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee, came out of retirement for the weekend and finished 10th in the 27-car Trofeo Pirelli field, driving for the Risi Competizione/Ferrari of Houston. He finished third in the Professional, North America class. Previously during the weekend, Wallace posted 15th and 32nd-place results, the latter due to brake problems late in the race. "I told myself that after the struggles we'd had, that if I could walk out with a solid top 10 in the finals I'd be happy," Wallace said. "The team did great and I learned a ton. We've been here five days, run 1,000 laps and we don't have a dent on the car. This was totally out of the box for me. It was a great opportunity from Ferrari, Risi and Daytona. We had a nice solid run and we had a lot of NASCAR fans here, too."(DIS)(12-5-2016)

  • Bowman to run the Clash at Daytona: ESPN's Bob Pockrass Tweeted: Rick Hendrick said Alex Bowman would compete in The Clash at Daytona, he's just not sure for who/what car.(ESPN), Bowman is eligible after winning the pole at Phoenix in November, subbing for Dale Earnhardt Jr., out with a concussion.(12-5-2016)

  • Most Mentioned Drivers 2016 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series:
    Driver, Interviews, Interview Time, Mentions #4-Kevin Harvick, 34, 0:35:16, 3,923
    #48-Jimmie Johnson, 21, 0:21:31, 3,071
    #18-Kyle Busch, 28, 0:28:27, 3,031
    #78-Martin Truex Jr., 26, 0:30:52, 2,834
    #22-Joey Logano, 25, 0:34:06, 2,688
    #19-Carl Edwards, 28, 0:27:40, 2,529
    #20-Matt Kenseth, 18, 0:14:01, 2,469
    #2-Brad Keselowski, 25, 0:24:12, 2,385
    #11-Denny Hamlin, 29, 0:26:59, 2,189
    #24-Casey Elliott, 21, 0:15:36, 1,871
    #41-Kurt Busch, 15, 0:11:19, 1,671
    #42-Kyle Larson, 13, 0:14:38, 1,549
    #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr., 17, 0:12:26, 1,247
    #3-Austin Dillon, 23, 0:17:01, 1,090
    #14-Tony Stewart, 18, 0:20:41, 1,084
    (Statistics reflect all live race telecasts and replays of the 2016 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season)
    (Joyce Julius & Associates)(12-5-2016)

  • Sparks to Sing National Anthem at DAYTONA 500: Multi-platinum recording artist, actress and DAV Ambassador Jordin Sparks, whose faith-based film God Bless The Broken Road will be in theaters early 2017, will perform the National Anthem for the 59th annual DAYTONA 500 NASCAR premier series race at Daytona International Speedway on Sunday, Feb. 26. "We're thrilled to have Jordin Sparks be a part of the pre-race ceremonies and sing the National Anthem prior to the DAYTONA 500," Daytona International Speedway President Chip Wile said. "Jordin is an incredible talent and we look forward to her rendition of the National Anthem before the start of the 59th 'Great American Race.' " Sparks was the season 6 winner of American Idol. In addition to a successful recording career, she has branched out to pursue an acting and Broadway career, starring in films such as the music film Sparkle, The Grace of Jakes, Left Behind and The Inevitable Defeat of Mister & Pete. Tickets for the 59th annual DAYTONA 500 and other Speedweeks events can be purchased online at www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com or by calling 1-800-PITSHOP.(DIS)(12-5-2016)

  • Toys for Tots toy drive December 5-9 at Gateway Motorsports Park: Gateway Motorsports Park will launch a weeklong Toys for Tots toy drive on Monday, December 5. Race fans who come to the GMP ticket office to purchase tickets for the 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series, NASCAR Camping World Truck Series or NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series events and donate a new, unwrapped toy will receive a complimentary pair of tickets to GMP's PSCA Hot Rod Hootenanny on April 21-22 or the annual St. Louis Nostalgia Rendezvous on May 13. The toy drive will conclude at 5 p.m. on Friday, December 9. More info at www.gatewaymsp.com.(GMP)(12-5-2016)

  • Cassill returning to Front Row UPDATE: Landon Cassill will return to the Cup Series for Front Row Motorsports in 2017. The 27-year-old has competed full-time in the Cup Series for the past six seasons, finishing a career-high 29th in the championship standings in 2016. At Bristol in the spring, the #38 car was out front for 20 laps, the most laps he has ever led in a single race. Cassill is seeking to secure sponsorship for next year, much like he did in 2016, in hopes of moving forward after a career year. "We're continuing to work forward on everything with Front Row Motorsports," Cassill said. "I don't see any changes being made, but everything will be getting buttoned up in the next few weeks I'm sure." Cassill had a career-high seven top-20 finishes in 2016, led by veteran crew chief Donnie Wingo. With a best finish of 11th at Talladega, the Iowa native is tired of being underrated, instead wishing he was "overrated." Cassill wants to climb the ladder with FRM, moving them up the ranks to be a more competitive team in 2017. Jerry Freeze, General Manager at Front Row Motorsports, confirmed to Frontstretch that Cassill will return in 2017, admitting that the organization's plans are not completely laid out for 2017. "I think so, too," Freeze said of Cassill remaining with the team. "We still have to get everything worked out with all the partners, but we are really close."(Frontstretch)(11-26-2016)
    UPDATE: The contract for (Lamdon) Cassill to return (to Front Row Motorsports) for next season is not official. Cassill said this week that it's in the process of being finalized and "should be in the next week or so that it's all buttoned up, but they've made it clear this is what they're working towards and what they want to do, and I'm completely fine with that." Cassill is currently the only driver in FRM's stable for NASCAR's premier series after (Chris) Buescher was announced to be moving to JTG-Daugherty Racing with a leased charter from Roush Fenway Racing. What FRM does with the #34 still is to be determined, but Cassill said his entry looks to be in good shape sponsor-wise headed into 2017. A return to FRM is ideal for Cassill because, he said, he's seen what his team has done with technology and information from the alliance with RFR, and in turn what he's then been able to do with that behind the wheel.(The Gazette)(12-4-2016)

  • Reiser out as general manager at Roush Fenway UPDATE: Robbie Reiser was relieved of his duties as general manager at Roush Fenway Racing on Tuesday, Motorsport.com has learned. Reiser, 53, has been with the company for 17 seasons, first as a crew chief and eventually graduating to a managerial role. Reiser has been offered a position in the car production side of RFR, but he has yet to decide where his future lies. Calls to Roush Fenway Racing were not immediately returned. Neither Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Trevor Bayne or Greg Biffle finished inside the top 20 in the Sprint Cup standings this season. For the second year, there was not a Roush driver in the Chase.(Motorsport)(11-23-2016)
    UPDATE: Robbie Reiser didn't really have a lot he wanted to say about his situation at Roush Fenway Racing. He was relieved of his duties as vice president of competition. But he's not going anywhere. He doesn't yet have a title or even a full job description for his next role as the team struggles to regain its footing. But he is as dedicated to doing his part to bring success as he was in 2003, when he won a NASCAR title as Matt Kenseth's crew chief, or in 2007, when he answered Jack Roush's call to lead the whole operation. And at this point in his life, the 53-year-old, second-generation racer from Allenton is OK with it all. "This is going to free me up for my family, to be able to spend some time with them," said Reiser, who has one son in college and twin boys in high school, one of them a dirt-bike racer he has rarely watched. Reiser's choice of words Thursday was interesting - he was "relieved" of his duties - because you have to believe there's a part of him that is relieved. He works hard, he's stubborn and he's not cut out to lose.(Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)(12-4-2016)

  • Some NBC NASCAR TV Ratings news: After 21 consecutive weeks of race coverage, NBC Sports Group concluded the 2016 NASCAR season on Nov. 20th with more than 8.4 million peak viewers tuning in for the Championship race at Homestead-Miami Speedway. This bookended a successful year that kicked off at Daytona International Speedway in July, which stands as most-watched summer Daytona race since 2011, with 5.7 million viewers on NBC.
    Highlights surrounding the 2016 NASCAR on NBC season include:
    The 2016 Brickyard 400 stands as the most watched NBCSN telecast on record (5.2 million). Sprint Cup races now account for the 5 most watched telecasts ever on NBCSN.
    Seven of NBCSN's NASCAR Sprint Cup races ranked as the top cable sports program of their respective weekends.
    Consumption of NASCAR content on NBC Sports' digital properties (NBCSports.com, the NBC Sports app and connected devices) garnered 105 million live minutes and 873,000 unique devices this season, up +56% and +50%, respectively, compared to the 2015 NASCAR season.
    This season has featured four Sprint Cup races with more than 5 million live minutes streamed (Bristol, Texas, Indianapolis, and Pocono). Last year, no Sprint Cup Series race finished with more than 5 million minutes streamed.
    The average Sprint Cup Series race is up 43% in live minutes streamed over the 2015 average.
    In 2016 NASCAR America has reached a total audience of 4.5 million viewers, up 13% vs. 2015.
    The Nov. 20, 2016 NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship on NBC and NBCSN combined to average 6.08 million viewers and a 3.51 national HH rating, marking increases of +16% (vs. 5.22 million) and +12% (vs. 3.14 HH), respectively, over 2014's presentation on ESPN.
    Viewing peaked from 6:45 - 7 p.m. ET with more than 8.4 million viewers and a 4.8 HH rating as the Championship Four drivers battled for position in the final laps.
    Excluding last year's decade-high Championship race, which was delayed into primetime by rain and celebrated Jeff Gordon's retirement, the 2016 Sprint Cup race from Homestead-Miami Speedway was the most-watched and highest rated NASCAR season finale since Tony Stewart's Championship win in 2011.(NBC PR)(12-4-2016)

  • some 2017 schemes added:
    #1 GearWrench, #2 Miller Lite, Alliance Truck Parts, Wurth, AutoTrader, #3 Dow, American Ethanol, AAA, #5 Farmers, Great Clips, #22 Shell Pennzoil, AAA Insurance, AutoTrader, #24 NAPA Auto Parts, #27 Menards, #31 Caterpillar, #43 Smithfield, US Air Force, #77 Five-Hour Energy, #88 Nationwide

  • NASCAR luminaries gather to honor Johnson, Stewart at awards gala: Jimmie Johnson was unfailingly humble, even on a night when the NASCAR community came together to honor his monumental accomplishment. With a victory on Nov. 20 at Homestead-Miami Speedway, Johnson claimed his record-tying seventh NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship. Nevertheless, the driver of the #48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevy was reluctant to claim the same stature as the two seven-time champions who preceded him - Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt. "Dale said this in '94 after winning his seventh," Johnson said in concluding his remarks during the Sprint Cup Awards on Friday night at the Wynn Las Vegas. "I might've won as many championships as Richard Petty, but he will always be the King. I completely agree and must say, I might've won as many championships as Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt but... I will never be the King or the Intimidator. I'm just a guy from California who always wanted to race." But Johnson will continue to shape his own legacy, having brought a 12th series title to team owner Rick Hendrick, who also fielded championship cars for Jeff Gordon and Terry Labonte.
    As he addressed the packed house in the Latour ballroom, Johnson said the magnitude of the seventh title was still sinking in. "Loyalty and a never-quit attitude are at the foundation of our success," Johnson said. "Add that with Mr. Hendrick's leadership and the unwavering support from (sponsor) Lowe's, and put it all in a Chevy... good stuff happens. We've been through a lot over the years. Ups and downs, winning and losing, heartache and heartbreak. Even a golf cart incident (a reference to Johnson's fall from the roof of a golf cart after his first championship in 2006). Amongst it all, we are still together and more unified than ever."
    Hendrick also was an integral part of an unexpected honor for three-time champion Tony Stewart, who is retiring from NASCAR Sprint Cup competition after 18 years. Pearl Jam lead singer Eddie Vedder, who befriended Stewart earlier this year, introduced the driver, and Hendrick added a surprise. Hendrick announced a $1.8-million donation from the motorsports industry in Stewart's name to Vedder's effort to combat EB, a pernicious skin disease. Stewart said he got involved with Vedder's charity, "when I met him earlier this year is South Carolina. It's a very important charity to him and his wife. When you meet people like him that are that passionate about something, it immediately makes you want to be that passionate as well. That's why we got involved."
    For his part, Hendrick also had strong words for his seven-time champion driver and his crew chief, Chad Knaus. "Jimmie, you are a champion in every sense of the word," Hendrick said. "Chad, you are what your record says you are, the best crew chief of all time." Even Johnson's fiercest competitors expressed deep admiration for his accomplishments. "If I had to finish second to someone, I guess the third seven-time champion in our sport's history is acceptable," said Joey Logano, who finished second to Johnson in the final standings. "Congrats to Jimmie, and thank you for always being a great representative for the sport."
    "Great to finally see you guys make it up here on the big stage," quipped 2015 champion Kyle Busch. "But seriously, when you tie a record set by Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt, the accomplishment pretty much speaks for itself."
    Despite missing half the NASCAR Sprint Cup season because of a concussion, Dale Earnhardt Jr. was named the series' most popular driver for the 14th straight year. The fan support, Earnhardt said, "really motivated me to get healthy. It motivated me to come back." Earnhardt will test in December and expects to be back in the #88 Chevrolet for the season-opening Daytona 500 in February.
    Team owner Roger Penske, who celebrated his 50th year in motorsports this season, received the Bill France Award of Excellence from NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France (NASCAR Wire Service)(12-3-2016)

  • Earnhardt voted Most Popular Driver for 14th consecutive year: Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s hot streak in Las Vegas continued Friday night. The driver of the #88 Chevy was named the National Motorsports Press Association Sprint Most Popular Driver for the 14th consecutive year, extending his record streak. "That's pretty cool," Earnhardt said to open his acceptance speech. Earnhardt's 14 consecutive wins mark the longest streak since the award was first presented in 1953. Bill Elliott -- Chase's father -- holds the record for all-time Most Popular Driver honors with 16. He was presented with the award at the black-tie NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Awards held at Wynn Las Vegas. The award is determined solely by fan voting, and Earnhardt said it was especially touching to know that his fans supported him even during a year in which he missed the second half of the season due to a concussion. "This year was a difficult year for us and our team," Earnhardt said. "You think you know just how incredible the NASCAR fans are and how supportive they are. You see them support the drivers through victories and through defeat. But when you go through recovery from an injury or maybe the loss of a loved one or something like that, you really get to the core of what's great about our fan base." Earnhardt's 2016 season came to an end when he was sidelined after the race at Kentucky Speedway in July. In the 18 races in which he participated, he earned five top-five finishes -- including four runner-up results -- and six top-10s. "I want to thank the fans for all the support and all the well-wishes," he said. "It really motivated me to get healthy and it also motivated me to come back. I'm looking forward to next year."(Hendrick Motorsports)(12-3-2016)

  • Dale Jr. wedding date announced: While in Las Vegas for the Sprint Cup Series Awards ceremony in Las Vegas, #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr. confirmed when he and fiancée Amy Reimann are tying the knot. The longtime couple are set to wed on New Year's Eve. No wedding location was revealed.(NASCAR.com)(12-3-2016)

  • Kurt Busch getting married: He finished seventh in final points, making NASCAR's Elite Eight, as he calls the Round of 8 in the Chase for the championship, for the second straight year. Plus, his beloved Chicago Cubs finally won the World Series, and he was witness to Game 2 in Cleveland and Game 5 in Chicago. Plus, he's getting married soon. So all things considered - especially the last two - native NASCAR son Kurt Busch said the 2016 season has been a good one. He sneaked in the bit about an impending marriage to girlfriend Ashley Van Metre toward the end of the media scrum with Chase drivers leading up to Friday's Champion's Week black-tie awards soiree at Wynn Las Vegas. The two have been engaged since 2015. "To be up in Virginia with my fiancee's family, and then a wedding shortly thereafter," the 2004 Cup Series champion said about his holiday plans. "It's going to be fantastic to be able to go to the Caribbean, and to get married to the love of my life, Ashley, and have my family there, her family, and then before we know it, we'll be back in Daytona. It's going to be a nice off-season. I can't wait." Busch said there would be a grand reception in Florida during January for family and friends.(Las Vegas Review-Journal)(12-3-2016)

  • Earnhardt Jr. confident ahead of upcoming private test: "I feel 100 percent," Dale Earnhardt Jr. said Friday after accepting the NMPA Most Popular Driver award during the 2016 NASCAR Sprint Cup Awards at the Wynn Las Vegas. "I don't feel we're going to have any issues." Earnhardt, 42, missed the final 18 races of the 2016 Sprint Cup season because of a concussion in June that impacted his vision and balance. He plans to return for the 2017 Daytona 500 as long as NASCAR-approved on-track tests don't trigger any symptoms. Earnhardt will do a private half-day test this month in which he won't be able to have data-acquisition sensors on the car in order to limit any advantage the organization gets from the private test. The test had not been allowed until NASCAR made a rule earlier this year that permits a private test following injury. "I had balance and vision issues and some nausea when I was going through the illness, so we'll just make sure that I don't have any vision issues and no nausea," Earnhardt said. "I don't expect anything, because I've been through the simulator several times. I was getting sick in the simulator before I was injured. I have been able to do the simulator without any nausea or any vision issues at all." If things go well, Earnhardt will do the NASCAR open test Jan. 31-Feb. 1 at Phoenix International Raceway. Earnhardt said he probably will have a doctor at the first test but that he shouldn't need a follow-up examination if he feels fine during the test.(ESPN)(12-3-2016)

  • Motorsports Industry Honors Tony Stewart with Sizeable Charitable Donation On His Behalf to EB Research Partnership: To honor three-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Tony Stewart as he retires from his 20-year NASCAR driving career, the motorsports industry came together in unprecedented fashion at the season-ending NASCAR Awards Banquet by making a $1.8 million contribution on Stewart's behalf to the EB Research Partnership, the largest global non-profit dedicating to curing EB. EB, or Epidermolysis Bullosa, is a devastating skin disorder. Those with EB lack critical proteins that bind the layers of skin together. Without these proteins, the skin can tear apart, blister and sheer off, leading to severe pain, disfigurement and wounds that never heal. EB can also affect the body internally, causing blisters in the eyes, mouth, esophagus and the fusing together of fingers and toes. EB affects one in every 50,000 births and is not specific to any ethnicity or gender, but because it only affects an estimated 25-30,000 people in the United States, advancing research to combat this disease relies on the generosity of individuals and corporations.
    The industry initially targeted a $1.4 million donation to the EB Research Partnership as a subtle nod to Stewart's #14 car number, which he drove to his third Sprint Cup title in 2011 and chose in honor of his hero and friend, the iconic A.J. Foyt who raced the #14 throughout his versatile career. However, widespread support for this initiative quickly gained momentum and the original $1.4 million target was easily surpassed.
    "Tony wanted to have a very low-key sendoff during his final NASCAR season and he was pretty emphatic about it. He certainly earned a lot of recognition for all that he accomplished, and as an industry we felt it was important to honor him," said Mike Helton, vice chairman, NASCAR. "People know how passionate he is about motorsports, but he's equally passionate about helping others. On behalf of the entire motorsports industry, we felt this collective donation in Tony's name was a fitting tribute to all that he's accomplished during his NASCAR career."
    Well known for his accolades on the racetrack, which includes 12 driving championships and victories in nearly every American-based racing series, Stewart is also known for his philanthropy. In 2003, he formed his own charitable foundation. Known simply as the Tony Stewart Foundation, the 501(c)(3) organization's goal is to raise funds primarily distributed to serving three specific groups - chronically ill and physically disabled children, animals that are endangered or at-risk, and drivers injured in the sport of motor racing. To date, the Foundation has awarded more than $6.5 million to assist charitable initiatives for more than 150 well-qualified organizations throughout the United States. Stewart's work on behalf of the foundation crossed paths with his love for music earlier this year when he met Pearl Jam frontman Eddie Vedder. The two discussed their work in racing and in music, respectively, before the conversation dovetailed into their mutual commitment to charity. It was here where Stewart learned about EB from an impassioned Vedder, who co-founded the EB Research Partnership.
    "When I first heard about it, it was quite hard to grasp the intensity of the condition," Vedder said. "It's about the most insane skin disorder you could imagine. And when you realize it also affects the internal organs, you see it as diabolical. It's very hard to describe until you meet the young folks with it, and they make you realize how much you take for granted. You also realize that these are some of the strongest, coolest, most admirable people on the face of the Earth." The tenacious and sometimes cantankerous demeanor Stewart carries at the racetrack vanishes when he is off the track and in the presence of children, especially those who face physical and mental challenges. Children fighting EB have a perseverance and strength that is unworldly, and it has resonated with Stewart. "The pain these kids face is constant, and yet they still find ways to stay upbeat," Stewart said. "You quickly realize that your idea of a bad day is nothing. It puts your life and the things you take for granted in perspective. But it also makes you mad, because this is a devastating disorder that no one should have to endure. Yet it exists, and after seeing it, you want to do anything you can to make it go away."
    Stewart's $1.8 million donation to the EB Research Partnership will accelerate life-changing research and reduce the timeframe of getting results for children with EB, while ensuring treatments go to those in need as swiftly as possible. This donation on Stewart's behalf is an embodiment of all the philanthropic work Stewart has performed as a NASCAR driver. He never sought accolades for his work, but his charitable efforts have been noticed nonetheless.(SHR)(12-3-2016)

  • Five-Hour Energy Statement about their future sponsorship: While its current Cup sponsorship of Erik Jones at Furniture Row Racing has been grandfathered in, 5-Hour Energy's ability to change teams in the future is unclear after Monster has signed to sponsor the series. Statement from Living Essentials (5-Hour Energy): "Living Essentials is not privy to any negotiated provisions of the agreement between NASCAR and its new entitlement sponsor, therefore we could not speak with any clarity on whether yesterday's announcement has any bearing on Living Essentials' primary sponsorship of Furniture Row Racing 5-Hour ENERGY car and driver Erik Jones. We value NASCAR as a marketing platform and have been a sponsor of races, media, promotions, teams and drivers. We will gather more information in the near future and expect to remain a part of the racing community."(ESPN)(12-2-2016)

  • NASCAR Press Conference - Monster Energy named entitlement sponsor: NASCAR has announced the will hold a press conference with Brian France, NASCAR Chairman & CEO' Steve Phelps, NASCAR Executive Vice President & Chief Global Sales and Marketing Officer; and "Special Guests" for Thursday, Dec. 1 at 1:45pm/pt - 4:45pm/et at Margaux 2, Wynn Las Vegas. The press conference will be streamed live on NASCAR.com/presspass.(NASCAR)
    AND NASCAR is expected to announce Monster Energy as the replacement for Sprint as the sponsor of NASCAR's premier series, industry sources have told ESPN. NASCAR has scheduled a news conference Thursday afternoon with Chairman Brian France, Global Marketing Officer Steve Phelps and "guests" in Las Vegas, and industry sources said Monster Energy would be named as the new sponsor. Monster Energy Vice President of Sports Marketing Mitch Covington said he had no news when asked Thursday morning about the status of negotiations. NASCAR spokesman David Higdon would not confirm Thursday afternoon when asked about whether the news conference would introduce Monster as the new sponsor. Sprint announced in December 2014 it would not return after the 2016 season, and NASCAR has spent nearly the last two years searching for a replacement. A powerful force in the energy drink category and owned 16.8% by Coca-Cola, Monster Energy turned a $546 million profit in 2015.(ESPN)
    UPDATE: NASCAR announced on Thursday at Wynn Las Vegas a multi-year deal that will make Monster Energy only the third entitlement sponsor (RJ Reynolds/Winston and Sprint/Nextel) in premier series history. The length and terms of the deal were not disclosed, but both parties hailed the partnership as the perfect fit for both brands. "Monster Energy is a brand built on excitement and enthusiasm, qualities that align with NASCAR," said Brian France, NASCAR Chairman and CEO. "This sponsorship position is the most unique in all of sports and entertainment, and we are thrilled to have a partner that will help us further elevate the series. Today's announcement is the culmination of a thorough search, one that resulted in the right partner at this important time in our sport's history."
    Monster Energy has existing sponsorships with a number of motorsports sanctioning bodies, athletes and teams, but the NASCAR deal signals the biggest sponsorship step in the company's history. "Monster has built its brand on racing and motorsports, and NASCAR is the pinnacle of motorsports in America," said Mitch Covington, vice president of sports marketing at Monster Beverage Company. "It's American racing; we're an American brand that's a global company, and NASCAR is, too. When the opportunity came along to further associate yourself with a sport like NASCAR, it was the perfect fit for us. ... NASCAR is just a hard-hitting, close-racing, fun property to be associated with."
    Along with naming rights to NASCAR's top series, Monster Energy will also hold race sponsorship to the NASCAR All-Star Race and become the Official Energy Drink of NASCAR. Monster Energy also said it will continue to sponsor Stewart-Haas Racing's #41 Ford of Kurt Busch.
    Thursday's announcement is the culmination of a lengthy and thorough search by NASCAR to find the successor to Sprint, whose entitlement sponsorship will end on December 31, 2016. Steve Phelps, NASCAR executive vice president and chief global sales and marketing officer, said that the sanctioning body spoke with numerous companies throughout the process, ultimately choosing Monster Energy for a number of reasons, not the least of which was its lifestyle culture. "We have the good fortune of finding a brand that we believe works for our sport," Phelps said. "They're going to bring their lifestyle to their activation. ... They're going to bring their brand, their excitement, their energy to this partnership, and the fans are going to be the winners. It's all about engaging the fans and having the fans have unique, fun experiences whether at the race track or through different mediums, through social, digital, content." Phelps said a number of ancillary details will be announced in the coming weeks. Among those still under discussion is the name of the series, the series mark and the championship trophy. Under the agreement, energy drink sponsors already involved in NASCAR may remain in place. Potential sponsors from the energy drink category will not be eligible for future sponsorship if not already involved in the sport.(NASCAR)(12-1-2016)
    UPDATE2: Monster will carry "official energy drink" status and any energy drink not currently sponsoring a driver in Sprint Cup will not be able to sponsor a Cup car, NASCAR spokesman David Higdon said. Higdon would not talk about the details of the grandfather clause and whether 5-Hour Energy, sponsor of Erik Jones at Furniture Row Racing, would be included -- as an energy shot, it is slightly different from an energy drink. 5-Hour Energy, according to the agency that handles its NASCAR marketing, has not gotten details yet from NASCAR on whether it will be affected.(ESPN)(12-2-2016)

  • A.J. Foyt surprises Stewart: Tony Stewart has long had an admiration for A.J. Foyt and that admiration was on display during NASCAR's After The Lap program in Las Vegas. Stewart, who was holding court on the stage with the 15 other Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers and hosts Rutledge Wood and Guy Fieri while reminiscing and telling tales from his NASCAR racing days. Wood stopped the chatting to bring out Foyt, a seven-time victor in NASCAR's premier series and four-time winner of the Indianapolis 500. "This is the baddest man on the planet right here," Stewart said of Foyt. Foyt sat next to Stewart and the two told a handful of stories -- in a playful back-and-forth banter -- while the rest of the drivers listened on.(NASCAR.com)(12-2-2016)

  • Earnhardt Jr. close to returning after worrying 'I may never race again': A few months from believing he "may never race again" in NASCAR, Dale Earnhardt Jr. now believes he is only a few weeks from being cleared to return. The Hendrick Motorsports driver, who missed the last half of the 2016 season after suffering a concussion, said he hopes to turn laps in a December test and again in a January session before racing his #88 Chevy in the season-opening Daytona 500 on Feb. 26. Earnhardt declined to specify where the tests would occur but intimated they were the final steps he alluded to last week on his podcast. "Basically, the test in December would be the final box checked," he told NBC Sports in a Tuesday interview at Hendrick Motorsports, where he unveiled a new paint scheme he designed with primary sponsor Nationwide for the 2017 season. "Once that's done, I am jumping into the hamster wheel again. I'm excited." In his first extensive comments since a late August news conference to announce he would miss the rest of the 2016 season, Earnhardt revealed the depths of his long recovery from a concussion that he sustained in a June 12 wreck at Michigan International Speedway. It was at least the fifth concussion that Earnhardt has sustained during his NASCAR career, but the severity of the symptoms were enough to worry the 13-time most popular driver that his career was over. "I mean I went through some really doubtful moments with this whole process when I was not doing well and my symptoms were really, really bad, and they lingered," he said. "I'd never had the symptoms stay that long. I was thinking, 'I may never race again. I don't know how this is going to end.' So I went from not knowing if I could do it to having to build my confidence back one little Lego at a time." Earnhardt said the symptoms, which centered on problems with balance and vision (known as "gaze stability"), began to dissipate over the past month. During the photo shoot Tuesday, he wasn't wearing the thick, black glasses that he often wore in public during his recovery.(see more at NBC Sports)(12-2-2016)

  • Bowyer suing HScott Motorsports UPDATE settled: One day after finishing a frustrating season with HScott Motorsports, Clint Bowyer sued the team for at least $2.223 million, alleging it missed two monthly payments and a commission for bringing sponsorship to the team. Bowyer, through his business arm Clint Bowyer Racing Inc., filed the lawsuit for breach of contract and fraud Nov. 21 against team owner Harry Scott and HScott Motorsports in North Carolina Superior Court. Bowyer alleges in the lawsuit that Scott, who is expected to shut down the Cup team, is using money owed to him to pay other creditors and "repeatedly failed to make the scheduled payments" owed on the 20th of each month. "[Scott and the team] are in financial distress and in negotiations with various creditors to settle substantial debts ... all the while [they] refuse to pay [Bowyer] for services performed," the complaint states. In the lawsuit, Bowyer alleges that Scott has not paid money owed to him Oct. 20 and Nov. 20 for a total of $1.2 million and that he is also owed at least $1 million from sponsorship of at least five companies -- 5-Hour Energy, Maxwell House, Peak, Visine and AAA Insurance -- that Bowyer claims he brought to the team. "We are aware of the lawsuit," HScott Motorsports spokesman Ramsey Poston said. "Obviously we won't speak about the details of the suit, but I can say that overall it is frivolous and capricious. Bowyer obtained an order of attachment, which requires Scott to hold on to at least $2.223 million in property while the lawsuit makes its way through court.(ESPN.com)(11-28-2016)
    UPDATE - settled: Joint press release from Clint Bowyer Racing and HScott Motorsports: Harry Scott, Jr., owner of HScott Motorsports, and Clint Bowyer and his company Clint Bowyer Racing ("CBR"), jointly announced today they have settled the recent lawsuit filed by CBR. Mr. Scott provided additional information to Mr. Bowyer, of which he was not aware, which satisfied him that the claims asserted against Mr. Scott should be dismissed. CBR and HScott Motorsports then reached a mutual and amicable confidential settlement as to the claims for the debt owed to CBR. "I am glad our race team and Clint Bowyer Racing were able to reach a quick resolution," said Mr. Scott. "I wish Clint the best of luck in his career moving forward." Mr. Bowyer also commented, saying, " I want to thank all the team members for their hard work all season. I'm looking forward to the 2017 season and beyond and wish Harry Scott all the best in the future."(HSM PR Ramsey Poston Twitter)(12-1-2016)

  • Jimmy John's Renews with Stewart-Haas Racing: Jimmy John's, the "freaky fast" gourmet sandwich chain since 1983, has extended its partnership with Stewart-Haas Racing in a multiyear agreement to continue as a primary sponsor of driver Kevin Harvick and the #4 team in the NASCAR Premier Series. Jimmy John's will be the primary sponsor of Harvick and the #4 team for 16 races in 2017, highlighted by the season-opening Daytona 500. For the remaining 22 races on the Premier Series schedule, Jimmy John's will serve as a major associate sponsor of the #4 entry.(SHR)(12-1-2016)

  • Field, Format Set for 'The Clash' At Daytona: Recently crowned seven-time NASCAR premier series champion Jimmie Johnson will join a star-studded elite field as NASCAR kicks off its 2017 season with The Clash at Daytona International Speedway on Saturday, Feb. 18, 2017. The annual season-opening event will be broadcast live on FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio at 8:00pm/et. The 75-lap race again will be split into two segments with a competition caution at lap 25 separating the segments. "What better way to kick off the 2017 season than the sport's brightest stars under the lights at Daytona International Speedway" said Steve O'Donnell, NASCAR executive vice president and chief racing development officer. "Coming off a thrilling season finale at Homestead-Miami, we're looking forward to continuing that momentum into Daytona. With bragging rights and no points on the line, the Clash will set the tone for what should be a season full of great racing and tough competition."
    "We're bringing back The Clash at Daytona," said Chip Wile, Daytona International Speedway president. "The Clash was a race name that has always been popular among both the competitors and race fans. We're looking forward to bringing it back and building on the rich history of this thrilling and always unpredictable event that kicks off the NASCAR season." Unlike previous years, the starting field for the 2017 Clash at Daytona will not be a predetermined number of cars; rather, the field is limited to drivers who meet more exclusive criteria. Only drivers who were 2016 Pole Award winners, former Clash race winners, former Daytona 500 pole winners who competed full-time in 2016, and drivers who qualified for the 2016 Chase are eligible.
    Eligible drivers are (20 drivers, 17 with rides):
    2016 Pole Awards winners (14)
    · Greg Biffle(no ride), Alex Bowman(no ride), #41-Kurt Busch, #18-Kyle Busch, #3-Austin Dillon, #19-Carl Edwards, #24-Chase Elliott, #11-Denny Hamlin, #4-Kevin Harvick, #48-Jimmie Johnson, #20-Matt Kenseth, #2-Brad Keselowski, #22-Joey Logano, #78-Martin Truex Jr.
    Former Clash Race Winners (2)
    · #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr., Tony Stewart(retired)
    Former DAYTONA 500 Pole Award winners (1)
    · #10-Danica Patrick
    2016 Chase drivers (3)
    · #?-Chris Buescher(2nd JTG team in 2017), #42-Kyle Larson, #1-Jamie McMurray
    Tickets for The Clash at Daytona are available online at DaytonaInternationalSpeedway.com or by calling 1-800-PITSHOP.(DIS)(11-30-2016)

  • No more 'Cup' in 'Cup' Series? As NASCAR says it is inching closer to landing a new title sponsor for its Cup Series, sources close to the talks said the organization has been pitching prospects on a deal without the word "Cup" in the new name. In at least some sales pitches, NASCAR has referred to the Cup Series as its "premier series" with no reference to the word "Cup," which would represent a notable brand change if it comes to fruition. Whether NASCAR had pitched any companies on a deal that would keep "Cup" included was unclear. NASCAR declined comment when asked about its sales process. NASCAR, which has yet to announce its new partner, has referred to its top series as the "(blank) Cup Series" since '71, with former partners being Winston, Nextel and Sprint. Sources in recent weeks have said Monster Energy is in advanced talks to replace Sprint, but the status of those talks could not be determined.(in part from theSports Business Daily)(11-30-2016)

  • Richard Childress Racing Adds New Operations Director: Sammy Johns has joined Richard Childress Racing (RCR) as the new operations director for the Welcome, North Carolina, racing organization. Johns will report directly to Dr. Eric Warren, director of competition for RCR. "I have known and worked closely with Sammy since 2001 in a variety of teams and roles," said Warren. "He is well rounded and understands the sport from multiple perspectives. He has the hands-on experience of a crew chief along with the understanding of what it takes to build a modern, technical racing organization capable of winning races in today's competitive environment."
    Johns will take on an integral role at RCR managing and coordinating the manufacturing and car assembly processes, along with overseeing the crew chiefs and general execution of the race teams. RCR's Technical Director, Mike Coughlan, will continue to focus the engineering department on improving the performance of the cars and the ability to create and use data for a competitive advantage. The Lakeland, Florida, native began his racing career at local short tracks before being named crew chief at Andy Petree Racing. From there, Johns shifted gears and joined Evernham Motorsports as director of competition. He remained a permanent fixture within the organization through 2009 when the company officially became Richard Petty Motorsports (RPM). Johns transitioned into a new role of vice president of operations with RPM and resumed his title until earlier this year.
    "I am grateful for the opportunity to join such an iconic sports organization in Richard Childress Racing," Johns said. "The level of engineering and technical expertise at RCR is second-to-none, and I look forward to contributing my knowledge and capabilities to helping this team succeed in 2017 and beyond."(RCR)(11-30-2016)

  • Chris Buescher to 2nd JTG Daughtery team? UPDATE 2: Greg Biffle's decision to leave Roush-Fenway Racing on Monday triggered a strange chain reaction that will include the slumping racing company loaning driver Chris Buescher to a rival manufacturer next season. Buescher will drive for a newly-created second Chevrolet team at JTG Daughtery Racing in 2017. Roush Fenway is expected to scuttle Biffle's #16 team, and that could make that team's charter available to the highest bidder - including the new JTG Daughtery entry. Despite fielding full-time teams for Biffle, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Trevor Bayne, Roush Fenway hasn't won a race since 2014. By loaning Buescher to JTG Daugherty next year, Ford Racing will be able to work on upgrades with Roush Fenway while keeping one of its young drivers under contract. "It was a mutual agreement," Biffle said. "It's been frustrating for everyone. I've been the one carrying the company banner. It just didn't get any better. I didn't see a light at the end of the tunnel, so I decided I'd rather do something else - even if it means not driving anymore. I owe Jack everything I've accomplished in this sport. Some things just run their course." Roush said Biffle was one of the anchors of his entire race team. "I don't have the words to say what Greg has meant to this organization," Roush said in a team release. "He is a true racer who has always exhibited a will to win and an intense passion for speed. For almost two decades Greg has given us an opportunity to run up front and compete for wins. Greg exemplifies what every owner hopes for in a driver and I'm extremely thankful for having him as part of our organization."(Florida Times Union)(11-21-2016)
    UPDATE: From Bob Pockrass Twitter: "Tad Geschickter says nothing done yet as far as plans for second JTG car next year."(11-22-2016)
    UPDATE 2: Roush Fenway Racing Announces 2017 NASCAR Cup Plans: Roush Fenway Racing has announced its 2017 plans for the NASCAR Cup Series that will see the organization field a two-car Cup operation next season, with drivers Trevor Bayne and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. piloting the #6 and #17 Ford Fusions, respectively, in NASCAR's highest series. In addition, Kevin Kidd and Tommy Wheeler will lead Roush Fenway's overall competition efforts going forward. Kidd will assume the role of Competition Director, and Wheeler will serve as the team's Operations Director. The team will lease its #16 NASCAR Charter and driver Chris Buescher to JTG Racing in 2017. "We have been able to shore up our plans for 2017 and we feel that this will continue to move us in a direction that will yield improved performance and results," said Roush Fenway co-owner Jack Roush. "We saw improvement in our cars and made substantial gains in our performance at times last season, and we will continue to build on that by maintaining a robust engineering group in order to take the next step by consistently running up front."
    The #6 team will once again be led by veteran crew chief Matt Puccia. Brian Pattie, who was the crew chief for the #16 Cup Series team last season, will transition to crew chief of the #17 team. Nick Sandler, who served as the #17 crew chief the last two seasons, has been named Director of Engineering. Robbie Reiser, who has played an integral role on the competition side at Roush Fenway Racing for a number of years, will remain with the organization in a yet to be determined position. Kidd has served as Roush Fenway's Cup Team Manager - supervising all at-track operations - for the previous two seasons, after coming over from Joe Gibbs Racing where he worked as a crew chief for the previous half decade. He holds a mechanical engineering degree from Virginia Tech, and has worked as a lead engineer for multiple teams and drivers. Wheeler, who holds a B.S. in physics from Davidson College, joined Roush Fenway in 2009. A 20-plus year veteran of the sport, he has served in many capacities for the team, including as the team's production director since 2011, overseeing the building and production of all of the organization's Cup and XFINITY Series cars. (RFR)(11-29-2016)
    AND Chris Buescher will drive a second car for JTG Daugherty in 2017, the team stated Tuesday. "We can confirm at this time that JTG Daugherty Racing is currently in the process of starting a second team in the NASCAR premier series," JTG Daugherty Racing team owner Tad Geschickter said in a statement. "We would also like to confirm and welcome Chris Buescher to the team as our driver for the second car. More details will follow." Said Buescher, 24, in a statement: "I can confirm that I have signed to race for JTG Daugherty Racing as they expand to a two-car team in the NASCAR premier series in 2017. I'm thankful for the opportunity and look forward to competing for a spot in the Chase. We'll have more details at a later date."(NBC Sports)(11-29-2016)

  • Ty Dillon replacing Casey Mears at Germain Racing UPDATE: Beginning in 2017, Ty Dillon will take over full-time driving duties of the #13 GEICO Chevrolet SS in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series for Germain Racing. Dillon follows Casey Mears, a seasoned veteran who, over the last six years, has helped build Germain Racing's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series program into a viable organization that has garnered the respect and attention of NASCAR's elite. The 24-year old Dillon has made 17 starts in the Sprint Cup Series for several different teams, including Circle Sport/Leavine Family Racing and Stewart-Haas Racing. He scored a career-best sixth-place finish at Talladega Superspeedway in May 2016 while serving as a relief driver for Tony Stewart. Germain Racing notched two NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Championships and two top-10 points finishes in the NASCAR XFINITY Series before making the jump to the nation's top racing series. Since the inception of their Sprint Cup Series program in 2009, the team has established itself as an accomplished restrictor-plate program, while also achieving success at the series' road course events. With the switch to Chevrolet and the addition of Richard Childress Racing as a technical partner in 2014, they have experienced improvement at the challenging intermediate tracks. Team owner, Bob Germain, aims to continue making progress in the coming years. RCR's partnership with Germain Racing includes technology sharing, research and development, and engineering under the Chevrolet banner. Germain Racing will also continue to utilize the highly reliable and powerful engines from ECR Engines.(Germain Racing)(11-28-2016)
    UPDATE: In a Monday morning appearance on SiriusXM NASCAR's Radio's "The Morning Drive" program, Dillon indicated that an agreement with Germain Racing came together earlier in the year. The challenge, he said, was staying mum until this week. A team spokesperson confirmed Monday that Robert "Bootie" Barker would return as the team's crew chief in 2017. GEICO returns as primary sponsor, extending a relationship that bridged Germain Racing's transition to a full-time Sprint Cup team in 2009. The Germain team shares a technical alliance with Richard Childress Racing, the multicar organization founded by Dillon's grandfather, and its entries are powered by Childress-owned ECR Engines. Dillon said that the existing partnerships should help smooth his own transition to a full slate of racing in NASCAR's premier series.(NASCAR.com)(11-29-2016)


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