NASCAR Sprint Cup Series News and Stats

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  • Dodge talking to NASCAR about returning: 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)

  • 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 Motorports) 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

  • Matt Long Named Charlotte Motor Speedway's Salesperson of the Year: Charlotte Motor Speedway named Senior Director of Business Development Matt Long as its 2016 Salesperson of the Year. Presented annually, the award recognizes an employee who goes above and beyond the call of duty in executing his or her responsibilities in the corporate sales department. A Cambridge, Ohio, native and a dirt late model racer in his spare time, Long earned a bachelor's degree in Business from Lynchburg College in 2001 and an MBA in Sports Management from Ohio University in 2003. Long joined Charlotte Motor Speedway in 2005 and claimed his third Salesperson of the Year honor this fall. Long has led the speedway's corporate sales department in billings for the last 11 years. His efforts this year included a contract renewal with Bank of America and the establishment of a new partnership with Advance Auto Parts. As this year's Salesperson of the Year, Long received a trip to Las Vegas for this week's 2016 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Awards, among other perks.(CMS)(12-4-2016)

  • 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)

  • Betty Jane France Posthumously Receives 2016 Myers Brothers Award: In recognition of her leadership and accomplishments as founder and chairwoman emeritus of the NASCAR Foundation, the late Betty Jane France was named the recipient of the 2016 Myers Brothers Award. The prestigious honor recognizes those who have made outstanding contributions to stock car racing and is voted upon by the National Motorsports Press Association. A philanthropist in support of children's health causes, France started the NASCAR Foundation in 2006. Through her leadership and passion over the past decade, the NASCAR Foundation has raised more than $25 million and improved the lives of one million children across the country. In 2011, the Betty Jane France Humanitarian Award Presented by Nationwide was created in her honor. Each year it is granted to a person who exhibits the unwavering commitment to philanthropic and community efforts that Betty Jane demonstrated throughout her life. France, a longtime community leader in Daytona Beach, Florida, helped establish the "Speediatrics" children's care units at Halifax Health in Daytona Beach, Homestead Hospital in Homestead, Florida, and NYU Langone Medical Center in New York. In addition to her guidance of the NASCAR Foundation, she served as NASCAR executive vice president and assistant treasurer, helping her husband, former NASCAR President Bill France Jr., elevate the sanctioning body to America's #1 form of motorsports. France is the mother of NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France and International Speedway Corporation CEO Lesa France Kennedy. The Myers Brothers Award - named after pioneer NASCAR competitors Billy and Bobby Myers - has been presented every year since 1958.
    Eighteen other awards were given out at the luncheon, acknowledging achievements ranging from marketing excellence to success on the track and skill in the garage, the winners: · NMPA Myers Brothers Award: Betty Jane France
    · Buddy Shuman Award: Jack Roush
    · NASCAR Marketing Achievement Award: Comcast XFINITY
    · Chevrolet Cross Flags Award: Tony Stewart
    · American Ethanol Green Flag Restart Award: Kevin Harvick
    · Coors Light Pole Award: Carl Edwards
    · Duralast Brakes "Brake in the Race" Award: Kyle Busch
    · Goodyear NASCAR Series Champion Award: Jimmie Johnson
    · Ingersoll Rand Power Move Award: Dave Rogers, Joe Gibbs Racing #19 Crew Chief
    · MAHLE Clevite Engine Builder of the Year Award: Scott Vester, Hendrick Engines #4 team
    · Mechanix Wear Most Valuable Pit Crew Award: Hendrick Motorsports #48 team
    · Mobil 1 Driver of the Year Award: Kyle Busch
    · MOOG Steering & Suspension Problem Solver of the Year Award: Alan Gustafson, crew chief #24 Hendrick Motorsports team
    · Sherwin-Williams Fastest Lap Award: Kyle Busch
    · Sunoco Diamond Performance Award: Jimmie Johnson
    · Sunoco Rookie of the Year Award: Chase Elliott
    · Champion Sponsor Award: Lowe's
    · Champion Crew Chief Award: Chad Knaus
    · Betty Jane France Humanitarian Award Presented by Nationwide: Andy Hoffman
    (NASCAR)(12-2-2106)

  • 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)

  • Jeff Gordon to run the Rolex 24 at Daytona: Four-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Jeff Gordon, who was part of the driver lineup when Wayne Taylor Racing (WTR) competed in its very first race in 2007, returns to join full-time co-drivers of the all-new No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R Ricky and Jordan Taylor and veteran Italian Max "The Ax" Angelelli for next month's 55th Rolex 24 at Daytona International Speedway, the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship 2017 season opener.(Wayne Taylor Racing)(12-1-2016)

  • #48 team named Mechanix Wear's Most Valuable Pit Crew: In addition to Jimmie Johnson and Chad Knaus, also celebrating #se7en is the #48 Lowe's team, who has been with the driver and crew chief every step of the way during the 2016 season. In the midst of their champion's week celebrations, the Lowe's pit crew received their own award as they were named the Mechanix Wear Most Valuable Pit Crew of 2016. The six over-the-wall members of the #48 team include: Kyle Tudor (jackman), R.J. Barnette (front-tire carrier), Kevin Novak (front-tire changer), Calvin Teague (rear-tire changer), Ryan Patton (rear-tire carrier) and Brandon Harder (fueler). The #48 Lowe's team aided Johnson in claiming five wins, 11 top-five finishes, 16 top-10s and one pole award throughout the 36-race season. In the 15 years since the award's inception in 2002, the #48 Lowe's team has won the award a total of four times (2004, 2007, 2008 and 2016). The title of Most Valuable Pit Crew is awarded to the team who shows the most consistency on pit road throughout the season and is the longest-running and most prestigious pit crew award in the sport. Every nine races (each quarter of the season), the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series crew chiefs vote for the pit crew they believe contributes the most value to their team on race day. Each quarter, a semifinalist is chosen to receive an award and is given the opportunity to win the overall Mechanix Wear Most Valuable Pit Crew award at the end of the season.(Hendrick Motorsports)(12-1-2016)

  • Tony Stewart racing at Le Mans in 2017? Tony Stewart said his 2017 racing schedule is coming together, announcing two dates and hinting at other possibilities. Stewart, who has retired from driving in NASCAR but will compete in plenty of races in other series, talked about his 2017 schedule during Tuesday night's "Tony Stewart Live'' on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. "The sprint car schedules are starting to come out, but the cool thing is I've kind of put it off a little bit because we've had some really interesting e-mails and phone calls from car owners,'' Stewart said on the show. "There's a possibility I might have an offer to go race at Le Mans next year, which I never thought I would have an opportunity to do that. I had a conversation with a car owner about possibly running this year's Rolex 24 at Daytona. There's a lot of cool stuff and the fun part is kind of not exactly knowing yet what we're going to do. I do have some races that are confirmed and scheduled. One of them is going to be at Texas Motor Speedway in April; we're going to run two nights with the sprint car at the Texas Motor Speedway dirt track. That's one I'm really looking forward to. As we start filling in the schedule, we'll start letting everybody know for sure. It's going to be full, I guarantee you.'' Stewart will compete in the Tony Stewart Presents the Texas Sprint Car Nationals April 7-8 at the dirt track at Texas Motor Speedway.(NBC Sports)(12-1-2016)

  • Jeff Gordon on 'Destiny' to Be Race Car Driver, New Biography: The four-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Jeff Gordon reflected back on his illustrious career, and his personal life in the spotlight, in an interview with Michael Strahan that aired today on ABC News' "Good Morning America."
    "It was sort of my destiny to, to be a race car driver," the three-time Daytona 500 winner said. "I mean, I have been at the racetrack probably every weekend just about since I was maybe 6 or 7 years old." Gordon said that his biography, "Jeff Gordon: His Dream, Drive, and Destiny," which came out last week, offers fans a candid glimpse at many aspects of his personal life, from his childhood to his highly-publicized relationship with his ex-wife. He said what he thinks will surprise fans the most in his book is how hard his parents had to work in order for him to be able to pursue his dreams.(for more and the video, see ABC Sports)(12-1-2016)

  • Davis Named Managing Director and Chief Security Officer: NASCAR and International Speedway Corporation have named veteran FBI executive and risk management expert Christopher Davis as Managing Director and Chief Security Officer. Davis will lead strategy development and execution for corporate, facility and event security, working closely with international and federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies on behalf of fans, venues, teams, and infrastructure. Davis will assume leadership of the NASCAR and ISC senior management-directed implementation of their enterprise-wide security strategies. Through his role at NASCAR, Davis also will work closely with other venues that host NASCAR-sanctioned races. Davis brings a distinguished public and private sector leadership background to the new position, including service as an Assistant Special Agent in Charge and Inspector for the FBI. In addition to his lengthy FBI tenure, Davis held senior executive positions with private firms Contemporary Services Corporation and Sequrus, LLC.(NASCAR)(12-1-2016)

  • $178 million makeover headed for Phoenix International Raceway: Phoenix International Raceway in Avondale will receive a major overhaul worth $178 million, its parent company International Speedway Corp. announced Wednesday. The plans include new and upgraded grandstands, added structures for competitors and sponsors in the infield area, more RV parking and new steel and metal exteriors. ISC will pay for the upgrades without seeking help from taxpayers. PIR President Bryan R. Sperber said in a statement that the changes will enhance the experience for both fans and competitors. "The racetrack itself will remain unchanged as one of the most exciting circuits in motorsports, but we will modernize much of the venue and provide our fans with a high-quality, leading-edge experience," he said. The $178 renovation project is expected to start in early 2017 and should finish by late 2018, according to the statement from ISC. The start and finish line also will move under the new plan to the area between Turn Two and the following bend, according to Michael Knight, a motorsports industry analyst and contributor to azcentral sports. Elevated RV parking will replace the existing grandstand along the current start and finish line, according to renderings of the renovation. The upgrade also includes new concourses and stairs.(Arizona Republic)(12-1-2016)

  • Food City And Bristol Motor Speedway Host Drives To Benefit Gatlinburg/Sevier County Relief Fund: In the wake of the devastating fires sweeping Gatlinburg and Sevier County, Tenn., Food City and Bristol Motor Speedway have teamed up to host a number relief effort initiatives. Beginning Thursday, Dec. 1 and continuing through Wednesday Dec. 7, Food City locations throughout Kentucky, Virginia and east Tennessee will participate in a fundraising campaign. Customers wishing to make a monetary donation will be invited to do so at the checkout, with the contribution conveniently added to their order total. 100% of the funds raised will benefit the Gatlinburg/Sevier County Relief Fund. Food City has pledged a $50,000 contribution to kick-off the fundraising efforts. Earlier in the week, the company also donated a tractor-trailer load of bottled water and Gatorade to assist local crews battling the raging fires. BMS will also be collecting donations for the Gatlinburg/Sevier County Relief Fund initiatives from The Pinnacle Speedway in Lights (SIL) via red buckets at the holiday display ticket booths beginning tomorrow. The program will run through the end of SIL on Saturday, Jan. 7. In addition, BMS will match proceeds raised at this Thursday's The Pinnacle Speedway in Lights towards the relief efforts. The Speedway has also opened the Medallion campground to the RV community / campers displaced by the fires. The lot offers complimentary camping spaces with full water and electrical hook-up at no charge. Those interested should contact the BMS ticket office at 423-BRISTOL. Anyone interested in making a monetary donation via Bristol Motor Speedway can call or visit the main ticket office at the O. Bruton Smith Building during normal business hours. (Mon. -Thurs: 9 a.m.- 8 p.m., Fri: 9 a.m.- 7 p.m., Sat. 10 a.m.- 5 p.m.)(BMS)(12-1-2016)

  • Donate a toy, drive a lap at Michigan International Speedway: Cars are hitting the track again this weekend at Michigan International Speedway, but the most important drive is taking place in the track's infield. The eighth annual MIS Charity Track and Toy Drive goes from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 3. Participants are asked to bring an unwrapped toy or bag of nonperishable food. The weather-dependent event is hosted by MIS Cares, a donor-advised fund of the non-profit NASCAR Foundation that supports programs that assist and inspire youth in Jackson and Lenawee counties. Donated toys will go to the U.S. Marines Toys for Tots campaign in Jackson and Lenawee counties, while the food goes to the Brooklyn Food Pantry and St. Mary's of Good Counsel in Adrian. Last year, a 30-foot truck was filled with toys and a 20-foot truck was stuffed with food from the donations.(Michigan Live)(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)

  • Liberty National to Partner with Roush Fenway Racing: Roush Fenway Racing has announced a partnership with Liberty National Life Insurance Company, that will see the leading health and life insurance company serve as a primary team partner on Daytona 500 winner Trevor Bayne's #6 Ford. Liberty National will also serve as a major associate partner for multiple races during the 2017 season. The #6 Liberty National Ford will make its debut at Atlanta Motor Speedway in March. "We are excited to have Liberty National on board next season," said Bayne. "They are an extremely well respected brand that has been providing valuable services since 1900. It's the kind of brand that we are proud to have an association with and I can't wait to see the #6 Liberty National Ford on track. Our goal is to put our car up front and compete for race wins."
    "Liberty National views this new partnership with Roush Fenway Racing as the opportunity of a lifetime," said Liberty National President, Steve DiChiaro. "We look forward to cheering on Trevor Bayne as he drives the Liberty National car to Victory Lane in 2017." Liberty National joins anchor partner AdvoCare in supporting Trevor Bayne and the #6 Roush Fenway Cup team.(RFR)(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)

  • Kahne runs the most laps in 2016 but leads none: There was 10,523 laps run this year in the NASCAR Premier (Cup) Series. #5-Kasey Kahne led every driver by completing 10,355 laps in 36 points races - and he didn't lead a single one of them! Not one lap led all year long. Next up was #41-Kurt Busch who ran 10,348 laps and set a NASCAR record by completing every single lap in the first 22 races of the season. Busch completed more laps than any other Chase driver this season. #2-Brad Keselowski had the third most laps run at 10,337 followed by #10-Danica Patrick at 10,326 (but no top-ten finishes) and #19-Carl Edwards at 10,303. The 2016 Champion, #48-Jimmie Johnson, was not in the top-ten of laps run (FoxSports)(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)

  • Jeff Gordon helping with GivingTuesdayCLT campaign: NASCAR driver Jeff Gordon is one of many in Charlotte contributing to the GivingTuesdayCLT campaign to raise $8 million. Giving Tuesday is this week and people across Charlotte are getting involved in the local effort. More than 170 local non-profits have spent the last two weeks in a big campaign to try to raise 8 million dollars in donations and volunteer efforts. Jeff Gordon's Children's Foundation that helps fight pediatric cancer is one of the local non-profits eager to help the cause. The campaign runs until midnight Tuesday night. Gordon will be on hand next week when giving tuesdayCLT organizers announce how much money people in charlotte helped raise.(WCNC)(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)

  • Stenhouse, Jr forms World of Outlaws Craftsman Sprint Car team: Sprint car veteran and 99-time World of Outlaw Craftsman Sprint Car Series winner Joey Saldana has found a new home for the 2017 racing season. Saldana will drive the Elk Grove Ford/Roth Investments #17 for the newly-formed Stenhouse Jr.-Wood Racing team. Owned by NASCAR driver Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Matt Wood, Stenhouse Jr.-Wood Racing will compete full time on the World of Outlaws Craftsman Sprint Car Series tour in 2017. Saldana, who finished fifth in the World of Outlaws point standings in 2016, will be looking to improve that finish and earn his milestone 100th series victory. Tyler Swank, who led the Keneric Team to a Kings Royal victory in 2014, has been named crew chief of the #17 team. Swank, 39, and crew members will Adam Clark and Chris Bowe will field the team out of Saldana's Brownsburg, Ind., race shop. Wood's No. 17W team started the 2016 with late driver Bryan Clauson. Clauson's life tragically ended while leading the Belleville Midget Nationals in Belleville, Kansas in August. "A year ago Matt (Wood), Richard (Marshall of Priority Aviation) and I began forming a World of Outlaws team centered around Bryan Clauson driving. After Bryan's tragic crash we all kind of just laid low," said co-owner Stenhouse Jr. "A few weeks ago an opportunity came up to have a partnership with Matt, Dennis Roth, Richard and myself. With Joey driving the car, it was something I felt I couldn't pass up."(Stenhouse Jr. - Wood Racing)(11-29-2016)

  • Knaus wants his 8th championship: Jimmie Johnson's record-tying seventh Sprint Cup Series title put him in elite company with the legendary Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt. It's quite the feat that the #48 team achieved, but Johnson's already thinking about eight. For crew chief Chad Knaus. Dale Inman currently holds the record for most championships as a crew chief with eight premier series championships. Having been atop of the pit box for of all seven of Johnson's championships, Knaus would tie that record with an eighth Sprint Cup title. "I mentioned it to him that we need to go get eight for him," Johnson told NASCAR.com on Tuesday morning. " ... He's honestly been such a huge part of my success and deserves the title of 'greatest ever.' So one way to really nip that is to go and put him up there with the same stats as Dale Inman."(NASCAR.com)(11-28-2016)

  • Liberty University partners with Hendrick Automotive Group on dealership management class: In the spring, Liberty University will pilot its first course in automotive dealership management, thanks to a partnership with Hendrick Automotive Group, the nation's largest privately held automotive retail organization. Liberty plans to offer a full specialization next fall, under its Bachelor of Science in Business Administration. Dan DeHass, executive general manager for Mall of Georgia Mazda, Mall of Georgia MINI and Rick Hendrick Buick GMC, said there is a "giant void" for educating students in automotive dealership management and that most college students may not realize the "unbelievable opportunities within the industry." Only two other colleges in the nation have these programs, even though the U.S. has the second-largest automotive industry in the world (behind China). Students will be trained in managing a dealership as well as how to adapt to technology in an ever-changing marketplace. "The purpose is building future owners of dealerships," Hicks said. "If we can get students to think like owners and to learn the business that well, they are going to make phenomenal employees and, potentially, owners." Hendrick Automotive Group is working with Liberty to develop the curriculum, and some of its employees will contribute to course instruction, including prerecorded and live videos. The North Carolina-based automotive company has an extensive training program in place, which will be incorporated into expanding Liberty's curriculum.(Liberty University)(11-28-2016)

  • Mike and Angie Skinner selected as fourth quarter Spirit Award winners: The National Motorsports Press Association has announced Mike Skinner and his wife, Angie, as the winners of the fourth quarter Pocono Spirit Award. The Spirit Award "recognizes character and achievement in the face of adversity, sportsmanship and contributions to motorsports." The former Camping World Truck Series champion was chosen for his annual benefit, the Skinner Roundup. The event raises funds to support Hope For The Warriors, a nonprofit dedicated to restoring a sense of self, family and hope for service members, veterans and military families. This years' event raised $220,000. The previous quarter winners of the award this year were NASCAR spotter Chris Osborne, artist Jeanne Barnes and journalist Al Pearce. The overall Spirit Award for 2016 will be announced in January.(NBC Sports)(11-27-2016)

  • Rusty Wallace to compete in 2016 Finali Mondiali: NASCAR Hall of Famer Rusty Wallace is going to return to the driver's seat for the upcoming Ferrari Finali Mondiali on Dec. 1-4 at Daytona International Speedway. The 1989 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion will battle the twists and turns of the "World Center of Racing's" 3.56-mile road course for the Risi Competizione/Ferrari of Houston team in the North America series of the Ferrari Challenge Trofeo Pirelli. Wallace will practice on Thursday, Dec. 1 followed by qualifying and racing on Friday, Dec. 2 and Saturday, Dec. 3. "I hope that I can run strong in it and hopefully win but I'm realistic too," Wallace said. "I haven't been in a car in a long time. I'm going to have to knock a lot cobwebs off but I got the passion for it." Wallace is going to test with the team at the Circuit of Americas in Austin, Texas to get acclimated to the car and the crew before arriving at Daytona International Speedway. While Wallace knows every inch of the 2.5-mile tri-oval from his NASCAR competition, he only competed once on the 3.56-mile road course when he made his lone Rolex 24 At Daytona start in 2006. The Ferrari Finali Mondiali, the four-day event that is being staged in North America for the first time, will bring together competitors from the European, North American and Asia Pacific series of the Ferrari Challenge for a battle for the World Championship in their Ferrari 458 Challenge EVOs. The Ferrari Finali Mondiali has been previously held in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates, Spain and Italy. The weekend also includes the display and running of historic Formula 1 cars and Ferrari's exclusive XX Programmes.(Daytona International Speedway)(11-27-2016)

  • Some numbers from 2016: It was #48 in 2016. Jimmie Johnson, driver of the Hendrick Motorsports #48 Chevrolet, won the 2016 Sprint Cup title. Here are some key numbers after 36 points races, 10,523 laps and 14,929.83 miles.
    0: The number of laps led for #1-Jamie McMurray and #5-Kasey Kahne this year. There were 40 drivers who led laps this year, but not those two top-20 drivers.
    6: Career top-10s for #10-Danica Patrick -- the same number she had at end of last season. Patrick was unable to build on her record for most top-10s for a female Cup driver.
    7: You could have guessed this one -- the number of Cup titles for Johnson. But it also means something else for Johnson -- that is where he currently ranks on Cup career wins list.
    12: The spot where #2-Brad Keselowski finished in the standings despite having four victories, one spot behind four-race winner #78-Martin Truex Jr. and three spots behind another four-race winner, #4-Kevin Harvick.
    32: Where #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished in the standings despite missing the final 18 races because of a concussion. He finished ahead of full-time drivers #34-David Ragan, #7-Regan Smith, #83-Matt DiBenedetto and #46-Michael Annett.
    358: Laps led by #24-Chase Elliott during his rookie season.
    2,230: Miles led by Truex this year. No other driver led more than 1,800 miles.
    See more at ESPN.com.(11-26-2016)


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