Truex, Jr. wins pole at Pocono: #78-Martin Truex, Jr won the pole for the Pennsylvania 400 Sprint Cup Series race at Pocono Raceway with speed of 179.244mph for his 3rd pole of 2016, 1st at Pocono and 10th of his career. Truex, Jr has won from the pole once in nine previous tries.
#19-Edwards will start 2nd, followed by #27-Menard, #11-Hamlin, #31-Newman, #14-Stewart, #2-Keselowski, #24-Elliott, #20-Kenseth, #22-Logano, #42-Larson and #3-Dillon.
Jeff Gordon, subbing for #88-Dale Earnhardt, Jr., will start 24th.
#78-Truex, Jr was fastest in the second round with a speed of 178.426mph and will start on the pole.
#19-Edwards paced the opening round of qualifying at 177.880mph and starts 2nd.
Did not qualify: None.
See round-by-round qualifying results on the Pocono qualifying results page (pdf) and the complete starting lineup on the Pocono Starting Lineup page (pdf).(7-29-2016)
Pocono Raceway - Qualifying Fast Facts:
Martin Truex Jr won the Coors Light Pole Award for the 43rd Annual Pennsylvania 400 with a lap of 50.211 seconds, 179.244 mph.
This is his 10th pole in 390 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races.
This is his third pole and 14th top-10 start in 2016.
This is his first pole in 22 races at Pocono Raceway.
Carl Edwards (second) posted his 16th top-10 start of 2016 and his 12th in 24 races at Pocono Raceway.
Paul Menard (third) posted his sixth top-10 start at Pocono Raceway. It is his fourth in 21 races this season.
Chase Elliott (eighth) was the fastest qualifying rookie.
Friday practice for the Pennsylvania 400 Sprint Cup Series race at Pocono Raceway is over. The top-five, slowest and notes:
slowest: #30-Wise 167.929 & #55-Sorenson 162.911.
most laps run: #17-Stenhouse, Jr. 22 laps
notes: The start of practice was delayed by more than 20 minutes while NASCAR dried the track of some weepers.
Qualifying is scheduled for today at 4:15pm/et and will be shown on NBCSN. There is a chance of rain throughout the day (and the weekend).
See fastest laps, laps run, best 10 consecutive lap avg on the Pocono Practice 1 speeds page (pdf).(7-29-2016)
Phelps says search for Sprint's replacement still on track: As NASCAR chief marketing officer Steve Phelps explained the status of the search for a new sponsor to replace Sprint, the Pocono Raceway weather went from cloudy, to drizzle to sun breaking through the clouds all in 15 minutes. Was it a sign of the roller-coaster ride of the search for a Cup Series sponsor? "It's all good," Phelps said. There is no sense of panic within Phelps as the sponsorship search continues and in some ways can be as unpredictable as the Pocono weather. When Nextel was announced to replace Winston in 2003, the deal came together quickly and was announced in June. Two years ago, the Xfinity deal to replace Nationwide as the sponsor of NASCAR's top national developmental series was announced in September. The announcement of a new Cup sponsor likely will come later. Phelps told ESPN.com on Friday morning that an October announcement is the most likely scenario. He stressed not to confuse NASCAR not having a concrete feel of an announcement date with the search not going as planned. He said the timeline is tracking as NASCAR expected when Sprint announced in December 2014 that it would depart after the 2016 season. "We've got roughly 12 companies we're still in discussions with," Phelps said. "They're in various stages. I would say there's an opportunity that I believe we could get an offer from -- five or six. The process is going very well. The brands are a mixture of those that are not in the sport right now and some that are in the sport. It's a good list and we're trying to determine what is the best for the sport overall."
NASCAR doesn't expect a 10-year deal this time around. "It probably will be a shorter deal," Phelps said. "It is something that bodes from our standpoint and as well a brand standpoint. ... Although we did a 10-year deal with Comcast (for the Xfinity Series); that's a bit of an anomaly in this world today. It will depend on the brand and it will depend on what we believe will be right for the sport."
Even when NASCAR signs a deal, the steps prior to the announcement will depend on several factors. NASCAR won't want to tread on the media blitz of the end of the regular season or start of the Chase, possibly feeding speculation of the status of negotiations in order to make sure it does the announcement at the time that works best for NASCAR and its sponsor.(ESPN.com)(7-30-2016)
Childress close to finalizing 2017 plans UPDATES: Car owner Richard Childress anticipates he'll know his 2017 driver lineup within three weeks. While Childress told NBC Sports on Thursday that "we've still got a couple of months before we make any real decisions," he did say that "we'll kind of know in the next two or three weeks. We'll have a direction." The main question for the three-car organization is #31-Ryan Newman's status. He's in the final year of his contract, and Childress' grandson, Ty Dillon, appears set to move to Sprint Cup next season. The team also includes #27-Paul Menard, who is 23rd in the points. Childress said Menard's is expected to return to the team as sponsor next year. The final member of the team is #3-Austin Dillon, who is 13th in points and seeking to make the playoffs for the first time.
Ty Dillon has driven eight Sprint Cup races this season. He drove three races for Tony Stewart early in the season and has run five races for Circle Sport - Leavine Family Racing. "I think he'll be in a Cup car next year," Childress said of Ty Dillon. "I'm pretty sure he'll be in a Cup car. We're working on some different programs. Hell, he may be with us, who knows? We're just working on a lot of different things. Right now it's just a lot of things are hanging. We're trying to put together what's going to be the best for everybody, not just for RCR, but for the drivers and the sponsors, we're trying to put together good programs."(NBC Sports)(7-22-2016)
UPDATE Richard Childress Racing is expected to announce its 2017 Sprint Cup Series driver lineup in the coming weeks. Ryan Newman, in his third season as driver of the #31 RCR Chevrolet, isn't quite sure if he'll be a part of it. "We haven't talked about it in-depth yet, but we have talked about it," Newman, 13th in points, said Thursday at Kalahari Resort in Pocono Manor, Pennsylvania. "Hopefully, we'll get to sit down and talk about it soon." While Newman offers consistent, above-average production week in and week out, RCR may be faced with a tough decision as Childress' grandson, Ty Dillon, appears ready for a full-time Sprint Cup Series ride with no clear path to a spot for him. Still, the team owner told NASCAR.com earlier this year at Michigan International Speedway that he's planning on having the '16 XFINITY Series title hopeful in a Sprint Cup car full-time in 2017, while the exact organization and ride has yet to be finalized. Right now, Newman doesn't appear to be getting his ducks in order just yet on the off chance he finds himself ousted from his ride in favor of the younger Dillon. "I plan on (coming back)," he said. "If they'll have me back, I'll be there."(NASCAR.com)
AND: The team is a question mark, the number is uncertain and the logistics are still behind closed doors. But one thing's for certain: If he has his way, Ty Dillon will be in a Sprint Cup Series ride next season. "I fully plan on being in the Sprint Cup Series next year full time," Dillon said Friday at Iowa Speedway. "We've got a lot of options on the table. A lot of chips still left to fall before we kind of get to that point, but hopefully we'll have something really close to getting done in a month or so." With #31 driver Ryan Newman's RCR contract up after this season, it looks to be seen whether or not Dillon will take his place as the driver of the team's third car or if organization will add a fourth car. The possibility of driving for a different team also looms. "Talks have progressed a lot further than they have in past years," Dillon said. "I had talks with other teams in the past couple years and had opportunities, but it's always been my dream to drive for RCR and be teammates with my brother. "But now it seems like the time's more and more important. We've got some things going with RCR but we're still slowly working on other options."(NASCAR.com)(7-30-2016)
Insurance company separated from suit against Stewart: A federal judge ruled Friday that the insurance carrier for NASCAR driver Tony Stewart does not have to defend or indemnify him in a lawsuit brought by the family of a driver who died after being struck by Stewart's car during a race. U.S. District Court Judge David Hurd ruled that Axis Insurance Co.'s policy with Stewart "unambiguously limited" the insurer's liability to specific races. The family of Kevin Ward Jr. is suing Stewart, claiming that he acted recklessly when he struck and killed the young driver in an open-wheel race at Canandaigua Motorsports Park in August 2014. According to the decision, Stewart's policy covered 105 "specified events." The judge wrote that it is "undisputed" that the sprint car event in which Ward was killed was not one of those specified in the policy. Attorneys for Stewart had countered that certain language in the policy supported their position that coverage was warranted. Stewart will now have to bear the costs of his defense as the lawsuit continues.(Associated Press)(7-30-2016)
Pocono Driver Notes & Facts:
· 331 drivers have competed in at least one NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Pocono Raceway; 234 in more than one.
· Ricky Rudd leads the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in starts at Pocono with 55.
· Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers with 46 starts at Pocono; followed by Tony Stewart (35); then Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Matt Kenseth with 33 starts each.
· Denny Hamlin (21 starts) leads all active drivers in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in average starting position at Pocono with a 7.000.
· 34 different drivers have won at Pocono Raceway, led by Jeff Gordon with six wins.
· Eight active drivers have multiple wins at Pocono: Jeff Gordon (6) Denny Hamlin (4), Jimmie Johnson (3), Carl Edwards, Kasey Kahne, Kurt Busch, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Tony Stewart (each have 2).
· Seven drivers have posted consecutive wins at Pocono Raceway all-time, including three consecutive by Bobby Allison (1982 sweep and spring 1983) and Tim Richmond (1986 sweep and spring 1987).
· Three of the seven drivers to win consecutive races at Pocono are active: Jimmie Johnson (2004 sweep); Denny Hamlin (2006 sweep and 2009 fall and 2010 spring races) and Dale Earnhardt Jr. (2014 sweep).
· One active NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver has posted his first career win at Pocono Raceway: Denny Hamlin (06/11/06).
· Denny Hamlin (2006) and Carl Edwards (2005) are the only two active drivers to win at Pocono in their first appearances.
· Matt Kenseth leads the series among active drivers with the most NASCAR Sprint Cup Series starts at Pocono without visiting Victory Lane at 33; followed by Kevin Harvick with 31.
· Kurt Busch can become the eighth driver in series history to sweep Pocono in a single season joining Bobby Allison (1982), Bill Elliott (1985), Tim Richmond (1986), Bobby Labonte (1999), Jimmie Johnson (2004), Denny Hamlin (2006) and Dale Earnhardt Jr. (2014).
· If Jeff Gordon wins in the No. 88 Chevrolet this weekend he will become the eighth different driver to win at Pocono in two or more different car numbers joining Cale Yarborough (Nos. 11, 5); Darrell Waltrip (Nos. 11, 88); Kasey Kahne (Nos. 5, 9); Kurt Busch (Nos. 2, 41); Terry Labonte (Nos. 11, 5); Tony Stewart (Nos. 14, 20); and Geoff Bodine the only driver to win in three different car numbers (11, 5, and 7).
· Mark Martin leads the series in runner-up finishes at Pocono with seven; Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers with six.
· Mark Martin and Jeff Gordon lead the series in top-five finishes at Pocono with 20 each.
· Mark Martin leads the series in top-10 finishes at Pocono with 34; Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers with 32; followed by Tony Stewart with 23.
· Kyle Larson leads all active drivers in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in average finishing position at Pocono with a 9.400.
· Jeff Gordon leads the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in laps led at Pocono with 1,040 laps led in 46 starts.
· Two female drivers have competed at Pocono Raceway in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series: Janet Guthrie and Danica Patrick.
Watkins Glen announces National Anthem singers: Former U.S. Marine and star of the hit network television show Gotham, J.W. Cortes, has been named the National Anthem singer for the Cheez-It 355 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race on August 7th at Watkins Glen International. Cortes, who currently stars as Detective Alvarez on FOX's Batman-inspired hit, also serves as a New York City MTA police officer. Cortes is also an ambassador for Boot Campaign, a national military-focused nonprofit that engages all generations of Americans in supporting those who defend the United States' freedom. On Saturday, Nashville recording artist Electra Mustaine, daughter of Megadeth frontman Dave Mustaine, will perform "The Star Spangled Banner". Mustaine is set to release a new single on August 5th and has been a hit at several tracks on the NASCAR circuit in 2016. Windsor, Ontario's Amy Rivard will perform the Canadian national anthem before Saturday and Sunday's races, in addition to both anthems on Friday prior to the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East Bully Hill Vineyards 100. Rivard has toured the world with shows such Riverdance, Celtic Woman, Disney, among several others.(WGI)(7-30-2016)
Gordon says he will remain in #88 if needed: Jeff Gordon met with the media at Pocono Raceway Friday morning:
How long are you prepared to fill-in? Is there a plan for Watkins Glen
Gordon: "Well, we have to cross that bridge when we get there. It seems like... it was great last Friday to see him say 'hey I feel good today and made some progress.' We want to just keep going with how he is feeling. The doctors are evaluating. I'm not speculating anything at this time. I wouldn't be here in Pocono if I wasn't committed to be there for Hendrick Motorsports and this team in any way that they need me. I think there is a balance between trying to make this transition. First of all you want Dale to have the comfort of knowing that somebody is there for him. He doesn't have to worry about that aspect of it through this process. Just get well at the pace that is the right pace to do it. So, nobody is putting any pressure or time frame on that. He may be putting that on himself more than anybody else. Then there is the side of who is the best person to be in the car to get the most points. And then there is the sponsorship side of it as well. So far from what Rick (Hendrick) is telling me that seems to be me. That is why I was at Indy and that is why I'm here. I thought Alex Bowman did an excellent job at New Hampshire. I tell you after going through what I went through at Indy I have a much greater appreciation for him because that was one of the toughest things I ever did. Not just getting in the race car after eight months, but trying to fill-in for Dale Earnhardt, Jr. knowing the kind of attention that it gets. My heart was beating out of my chest because of the pressure and the eyes that were on you as much as just not being in the car. Great job to Alex. I will be here as long as they need me. I say that very loosely." (Chevy PR)(7-29-2016)
Boris Said driving for Go Fas at Watkins Glen: Boris Said will return to pilot the #32 Genesee Brewing Company Ford Fusion at Watkins Glen International in August. Said has 51 starts in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series from 1999-2015. The Carlsbad, CA native has 15 NSCS starts at Watkins Glen including two top-ten finishes, one top-five finish and a best finish of third which came in 2005. Rochester, NY-based Genesee Brewing Company has agreed to once again sponsor Go Fas Racing and Boris Said. The #32 Ford Fusion features a design inspired by Genesee's heritage that was first introduced in 2015. "I'm always excited when it comes to racing at Watkins Glen," said Boris Said. "Not only is Watkins Glen one of my favorite race tracks anywhere in the world, I just love the area, the fans, the food and everything about it! Being able to represent Genesee is a huge honor, so hopefully I can put on a good show for them."(Go Fas Racing)(7-29-2016)
USA Network featured on the #23 at Pocono: David Ragan's #23 car at the upcoming Pennsylvania 400 at Pocono Raceway will feature USA Network's We The Bold branding in support of the network's upcoming race coverage. Additionally, USA Network branding will be featured on Matt DiBenedetto's #83 E.J. Wade Construction Camry in an associate position. The paint scheme came together as part of a broader effort from NASCAR and NBC Sports, in conjunction with the industry, to drive awareness and promote tune-in for the the upcoming Cheez-It 355 at The Glen, airing on USA Network (Sunday, August 7 at 2:30pm/et).(BK Racing), see an image of the car on the #23 team paint schemes page.(7-29-2016)
Keselowski ok after hard wreck in testing at Watkins Glen UPDATE: #2-Brad Keselowski escaped uninjured -- "still upright," in his words -- after a scary crash Tuesday during an organizational test for NASCAR Sprint Cup Series teams at Watkins Glen International. Keselowski had just turned a session-topping 124.572 mph on his 18th lap of the day, best of the 14 drivers participating on the freshly repaved 2.45-mile road course. But just after registering that speed, the rear brakes on his Team Penske No. 2 Ford failed, sending Keselowski's car nose-first into the tire-pack barrier in Turn 1 at the end of the long frontstretch. "Just the pedal went to the floor," Keselowski said. "It means that you've lost brakes on one of the corners. At a track like this, you're already on the edge. You don't have any room or margin for something to fail. That's the way it is." The wreck occurred midway through Tuesday's afternoon session on the first day of a two-day organizational test before the series' Aug. 7 Cheez-It 355 at the Glen. Keselowski was evaluated and released from the infield care center, no worse for wear, but crew chief Paul Wolfe still lamented the circumstances. He tweeted video of the heavy crash and a photo of his bent steering wheel on social media to illustrate the wreck's severity. Team Penske unloaded a reserve #2 Ford -- a car that's been a backup at several events this season -- which it planned to put on the track Wednesday.(NASCAR.com)(7-26-2016)
UPDATE: #2-Brad Keselowski considers road courses as the most dangerous tracks the Sprint Cup teams compete on and not everyone would have survived the hit he took Tuesday in testing. Keselowski, who said a brake line was improperly installed, causing him to lose the brakes going into Turn 1 while testing at Watkins Glen, walked away from the accident where he was running around 165 mph when he tried to hit the brakes and hit a wrapped tire barrier in front of a steel guard rail while going more than 80 mph. "I don't know that I have all the answers," Keselowski said Friday prior to practice at Pocono Raceway. "The answers I do have is that there are only so many of those hits you're going to take before someone gets killed. That's the way it is. It's not something I'm comfortable with, but I think as a sport there's a lot of different ways to look at it. At the end of the day, I'm still standing here. Odds are, that if 100 people take that hit, one or two are not going to be standing here anymore."
Keselowski wasn't angry in making the comments, as he held more of a matter-of-fact tone. The Team Penske driver broke his left ankle in a 2011 crash at Road Atlanta and believes the road courses are more dangerous than the high-banked superspeedways of Talladega and Daytona. "In general, I'm not comfortable with tracks that have runoffs that lead to very harsh angles," Keselowski said. "That's certainly the situation that track has, always had it. The road courses remain the most dangerous tracks in motorsports for good reason because of that. ... To some point, we have signed up for a certain level of risk. That's right on the edge of what's acceptable risk. I think every driver has their own line."(ESPN.com)(7-29-2016)
Stewart doesn't regret lug nut comments: #14-Tony Stewart has seen two of his Stewart-Haas Racing crew chiefs suspended for failing to have lug nuts tight after a race, but he's not regretting his comments that sparked the strict rule. After Stewart said in April that teams were playing games with safety because NASCAR had refused to legislate whether lug nuts should be tight, he was fined $35,000 for the derogatory statements -- and NASCAR created what many believe is a harsh rule. Any car that has a missing or loose lug nut after a race results in the crew chief receiving an automatic one-race suspension, a fine and probation for the rest of the year. "It just means they made mistakes -- we had (tire) changers that made a mistake and didn't get all of them on there tight," Stewart said Thursday night at the track. It was definitely the right thing (to say). It's two separate deals. The fact they got a penalty because of it, I don't regret that at all. ... It's still the right thing to do. Do I regret (saying) that? Absolutely not." said Stewart, speaking after an appearance for Mobil 1. "People are having five lug nuts on the cars now," Stewart added. "We don't have to worry about the drivers being unsafe, we don't have to worry about the fans being unsafe. We solved that problem."(ESPN.com)(7-29-2016)
Most mentioned drivers in first half of season: According to research by Joyce Julius, #4-Kevin Harvick recevied the most TV interviews and TV mentions in the first half of the Sprint Cup season (through Kentucky) and #18-Busch had the most interview time. They also note that there were 46 fewer (-23%) NASCAR driver TV interviews at mid-year compared to 2015 at the same point in the season.
Menard's Darlington throwback scheme unveiled: Paul Menard's Richard Childress Racing #27 Chevy will carry the gray, orange and black color scheme used by Al Unser Jr. for the 1993 Daytona 500 with sponsor Valvoline featured on the hood when the series travels to Darlington Raceway for the annual Labor Day weekend classic.
"Little Al's first NASCAR race was the Daytona 500 in 1993," Menard said earlier this week as preparations for the unveiling of the paint scheme got underway. "The partnership with Valvoline this year -- we got to talking earlier about who some of my racing heroes were and Al Jr. was right away, even without the Valvoline relationship. I've always been a huge fan of his. He was the guy in IndyCar that I always pulled for." Menard said he met the former open-wheel champion and two-time winner of the Indianapolis 500 "when I was probably 12."
"I remember; he probably doesn't," Menard continued. "But I pulled up (this morning) ... and he was standing out in the parking lot. We were out there talking probably 10 or 15 minutes, just about the '93 (Daytona) 500, his autocross stuff that he's doing now, just talking about a little bit of racing." When told that Menard and Valvoline were bringing the original paint scheme back to the track for the Darlington throwback weekend, Unser said he was "just overwhelmed."(NASCAR.com), see images of the scheme on the #27 Team Schemes page.(7-29-2016)
Pocono Pole Notes & Facts:
· Qualifying has been cancelled due to weather conditions in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Pocono Raceway five times; most recently the spring of 2013.
· 41 drivers have posted Coors Light poles at Pocono, led by Bill Elliott and Ken Schrader with five each; Jimmie Johnson and Denny Hamlin lead all active drivers with three each.
· Buddy Baker won the inaugural Coors Light pole at Pocono in 1974 with a speed of 144.122 mph.
· Five drivers have won consecutive Coors Light poles at Pocono. Bill Elliott holds the record for most consecutive poles at Pocono with three; fall 1984 and both races in 1985.
· Two active drivers have posted consecutive Coors Light poles at Pocono: Denny Hamlin (2006 sweep) and Joey Logano (fall 2011 and spring 2012).
· Three drivers have posted their first-career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coors Light pole at Pocono Raceway: Harry Gant (1979), Casey Mears (2004) and Kyle Larson (2014).
· Eight different manufacturers have won a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series pole at Pocono; led by Chevrolet with 33, followed by Ford (16), Dodge (8), Pontiac (6), Toyota (5), Buick (2), American Motors Company and Oldsmobile (each have one).
· 13 of the 77 (16.8%) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Pocono have been won from the Coors Light pole; the most recent was Joey Logano (June, 2012).
· 15 of the 77 (19.4%) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Pocono have been won from the first starting position; the most recent was Jimmie Johnson (June, 2013).
· The first starting position is the most proficient starting position in the field, producing more winners (15) than any other starting position at Pocono Raceway.
· 24 of the 77 (31.1%) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Pocono have been won from the front row: 15 from the first starting position and nine from second-place.
· 55 of the 77 (71.4%) NASCAR Sprint Cup races at Pocono have been won from a top-10 starting position.
· Five of the 77 (6.4%) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Pocono have been won from a starting position outside the top 20.
· The deepest in the field that a race winner has started at Pocono is 29th, by Carl Edwards in the spring of 2005.
Craig Morgan in concert at Bristol: Bristol Motor Speedway is home to "America's Night Race" and that theme will be on display as country music entertainer, TV host and military veteran Craig Morgan kicks off the biggest night in racing with a pre-race concert on Saturday, Aug. 20, prior to the start of the Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race. Morgan, who is well-known for country staples "International Harvester", "Bonfire" and "That's What I Love About Sunday", will excite the crowd during the NRA Country presents Craig Morgan concert on the backstretch of Bristol Motor Speedway. Morgan is a natural fit for the NRA country sponsored concert taking place prior to "America's Night Race" having spent 17 years serving this country, including 10.5 years on active duty in the US Army, before launching his music career. While penning some of country's biggest hits and performing across the country, Morgan continued his military service in the Army Reserves for six-and-a-half years. In 2006, he was awarded the USO Merit Award for his tireless support of U.S. soldiers and their families. Morgan has participated in thirteen overseas trips to support U.S. troops and has also headlined 20 Jack Daniel's "Toast to the Troops" events to prepare care packages for those stationed overseas. While supplies last, Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race ticket holders may add on a pre-race SuperPass and be stage-side (on the track) for the concert featuring Craig Morgan. The SuperPass also includes a Track Walk and track access for Bristol's wildly popular Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race Driver Introductions.(BMS)(7-29-2016)
NASCAR implementing safety changes to cars at superspeedways next year: In an attempt to protect the driver's feet and legs, NASCAR will gradually implement changes to strengthen the car by modifying the floorboard, driver's anti-intrusion plating, firewall and footbox areas. The changes, sparked by the accidents to Kyle Busch and Austin Dillon last year, are optional for 2016, mandatory for the Daytona and Talladega races in 2017 and then all tracks in 2018. NASCAR senior vice president Gene Stefanyshyn said teams designed various proposed changes, and NASCAR had done two crash tests to help determine the changes. "We're replacing existing materials with materials in instances which are thicker or being formed in a way with less welds," Stefanyshyn said in announcing the changes Thursday. "Also the way we attach part of it is we are creating, for lack of a better term, a zipper so we provide a lot more weld surface. The gradual implementation is so teams don't obsolete current chassis, as the new chassis will have to go through the NASCAR certification process.(ESPN.com)(7-28-2016)
NASCAR will use lower downforce package at Michigan: In a rules bulletin Thursday morning, NASCAR announced it will run the lower downforce rules package in the Aug. 28 race at Michigan International Speedway. The changes, which include a shortened spoiler, a reduced splitter and the elimination of rear skew that generated sideforce, also were used in the June 12 race at Michigan, the July 9 race at Kentucky Speedway and at the Sprint All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway in May. The objective is enhancing the ability of drivers to pass. NASCAR vice president of innovation Gene Stefanyshyn said the same rules likely would be used for the 2017 season. NASCAR still is considering a few tweaks that including shifting some downforce from front to rear, removing some rear downforce or adding some sideforce. Any further tweaks will be made in collaboration with teams after the Aug. 28 race at the 2-mile oval. Stefanyshyn said there were more setup combinations to try after experimenting with the new rules at Michigan in June.(NBC Sports)(7-28-2016)
Teams complete Watkins Glen test: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series teams wrapped up a two-day organizational test Wednesday at newly repaved Watkins Glen International, emerging with better ideas of the challenges they'll face when the series returns for the Aug. 4-7 race weekend. Among those challenges: reworked curbing, a fast circuit and a harder-compound tire that has made grip elusive. A total of 16 Sprint Cup teams -- one permitted from each organization -- tried to unlock the novelty of the $12 million resurfacing project, using a Goodyear tire that emphasizes durability at the expense of traction and wear. The rubber compound chosen is similar to that used July 9 at Kentucky Speedway, site of the Sprint Cup Series' most recent race on a repaved track. The Goodyear tire compound designated for both the Watkins Glen test and the race weekend is the same used for right-side tires in XFINITY Series competition at Iowa Speedway. Those Iowa right-sides will be used at all four corners for the Sprint Cup event at the 2.45-mile road course. In addition to the surface itself, the track features new concrete for the rumble strips that border the circuit's turns and run-off areas. Some drivers found the differences barely noticeable, but Kurt Busch discovered a distinction the hard way with an early Tuesday spin as he bounded over the apex points in the backstretch chicane on one of his initial laps.
Some notes: #13-Casey Mears turned the fastest lap in the two-day test, which was divided into four sessions of four hours apiece. Mears pushed the Germain Racing #13 Chevrolet in the closing session to a best lap of 126.7 mph, a good bit slower than the track qualifying record of 129.491 mph set by Marcos Ambrose in August 2014. Brad Keselowski returned to the track Wednesday, one day after his severe, nearly head-on crash in Turn 1. He turned 74 laps over both sessions in a reserve Team Penske #2 Ford. Two teams -- Furniture Row Racing (driver #78-Martin Truex Jr.) and Circle Sport-Leavine Family Racing (driver #95-Michael McDowell) -- were absent from testing's opening day, arriving in the Watkins Glen garage Wednesday in time for the two closing sessions. Wednesday's final session was extended 30 minutes to a 5:30pm/et close because of a nearly hour-long clean-up for fluid on the track. After Chase Elliott's #24 Chevrolet suffered a broken axle, Clint Bowyer's #15 Chevy ran over the part, damaging the car's transmission.(NASCAR.com)(7-28-2016)
Track ticket revenues down in 2016: The two major public companies host NASCAR races have seen ticket revenues drop about 10 percent for 14 events since the Daytona 500. Speedway Motorsports, in releasing Wednesday its 2016 financials through June, showed its admissions revenue down 11 percent this year. That includes its seven major NASCAR weekends, but it also includes some impact from the suspended IndyCar race at Texas in June that will be completed in August. Earlier this month, International Speedway Corp. reported its ticket sales were down 8.3 percent for March through May. "[Improving attendance] is a combination of the improved racing that fans are being [able] to see and enjoy and also more certainty in the economy -- particularly, the middle class needs to feel more certain and confident in their economic position to travel more," SMI CEO Marcus Smith told financial analysts in a conference call Wednesday morning. SMI showed a $25.6 million profit through June and said its March estimate of earnings of $0.90-$1.10 per share for 2016 is still an accurate estimate for the year. In addition to a decrease in general ticket sales, SMI saw decreased demand for suites and corporate entertainment as well as fewer track rentals, Brooks said. The June race at Sonoma also saw a decrease in revenues in part, Brooks said, because last year was Jeff Gordon's final race at the track that is just 15 miles from Gordon's hometown. While attendance has dropped, tracks have seen an increase in television revenues. SMI reported a 3.1 percent increase. Combined with ISC, the tracks reported television net income of $199.6 million from the NASCAR television contract. Their ticket sales, which include other racing events (NHRA, IndyCar, sports-car races, etc.) totaled $107.4 million for the first half of their fiscal years.(ESPN.com)(7-28-2016)
Jeb Burton in the #32 at Pocono with Erie Insurance sponsorship: Go Fas Racing announced that Erie Insurance will be a primary partner on the #32 Ford Fusion for this weekend's event at the Pocono Raceway in Long Pond, PA. Halifax, VA native Jeb Burton will pilot the #32 Erie Insurance Ford Fusion. Burton has 29 career starts in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, including three starts at Pocono Raceway. According to A.M. Best Company, Erie Insurance Group, based in Erie, Pennsylvania, is the 10th largest homeowners insurer and 12th largest automobile insurer in the United States based on direct premiums written and the 15th largest property/casualty insurer in the United States based on total lines net premium written. The Group, rated A+ (Superior) by A.M. Best Company, has more than 5 million policies in force and operates in 12 states and the District of Columbia.(Go Fas Racing), see images of the car on the #32 team paint schemes page.(7-28-2016)
Knoxville Nationals on the #15 at Pocono: Clint Bowyer's traditional #15 5-hour Energy Chevrolet will have a new look this weekend. The 5-hour Energy Knoxville Nationals presented by Casey's General Stores, will adorn Bowyer's #15 Chevy. The 2016 Knoxville Nationals, sprint car racing's most prestigious event, marks 5-hour Energy's first entrance into dirt track racing. The sponsorship was directly linked to a partnership with the event's presenting sponsor, Casey's General Stores, a chain of convenience stores located primarily in the Midwestern United States. The Knoxville Nationals kicks off Wednesday, August 10 and concludes on Saturday, August 13.(HScott Motorsports), see images of the car on the #15 team paint schemes page.(7-28-2016)
200th Sprint Cup start for Almirola: This weekend at Pocono Raceway is a monumental one for #43-Aric Almirola. After his first Sprint Cup start in 2007, he had several years of only part-time rides with various teams. It took time, patience and perseverance to reach the point of having a full-time ride in the sport's premier national touring series. This is Almirola's fifth full season with Richard Petty Motorsports, and 170 of his 200 starts have been with the team. During his time in the Sprint Cup Series, Almirola has scored one win at Daytona International Speedway in 2014. He'll head to the Poconos this weekend in the #43 Smithfield Ford looking to secure his second win in the series to top off the monumental weekend.(Richard Petty Motorsports)(7-28-2016)
Kurt Busch trying to set record for running all laps: #41-Kurt Busch seeks to do something this weekend that hasn't been done in NASCAR. Run every lap for the most consecutive races to start a season. Busch enters Sunday's race at Pocono Raceway on NBCSN having completed all 5,673 laps in the first 20 races. No driver has completed every lap through the the first 21 Cup races in a season. Busch tied Dale Earnhardt Jr. for the record this past weekend at Indianapolis Motor Speedway when Busch completed every lap on the way to finishing 16th. Earnhardt set the mark in 2012 by completing every lap in the first 20 races of the season. In the 21st race, which was at Pocono, Earnhardt fell 18 laps short of the distance in the rain-shortened race. Busch's consistency this season has led to 15 top-10 finishes, second only to Stewart-Haas Racing teammate Kevin Harvick, who has 16. #2-Brad Keselowski has run all but 8 laps this season.(NBC Sports)(7-28-2016)
Pocono Track Notes & History:
· Opened in 1968 as a three-quarter-mile track, Pocono Raceway held the first race on the 2.5-mile track in 1971.
· The first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race was in 1974 - won by Richard Petty, Dodge, 115.593 mph, 08/04/1974.
· The 2.5-mile track was repaved during the fall of 2011.
· 2012 marked the first season the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Pocono were scheduled for 400 miles. Prior to 2012 all NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races were 500 miles at Pocono Raceway.
Fans can take the train to Chicago race: Finding the fastest way to the track isn't always the easiest task, but fortunately for fans, Chicagoland Speedway has taken the guess work out of the equation for fans with a commute. Chicagoland Speedway will once again offer fans who are attending the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 400, the convenient and affordable Train-to-Track program for those who take either Metra or Amtrak trains. For just $5 each way, fans can take a short shuttle ride from Joliet's train station to Chicagoland Speedway. Recommended routes include the Metra Rock Island District service which riders can catch from any of the 25 stops along the way and the Amtrak to Joliet with service from St. Louis through Southern Illinois. Guests utilizing the Train-to-Track program will receive print-at-home tickets upon purchase and must reserve a specific time of departure to and from the race track. Upon arrival at the Joliet train station, a Chicagoland Speedway ambassador will greet fans outside and direct fans to a shuttle transporting fans directly to the track. The Chicagoland Speedway ambassador will be available to answer questions throughout the short trip to the track.(Chicagoland Speedway)(7-28-2016)
NASCAR announces 2017 race start times: NASCAR, along with FOX Sports and NBC Sports, announced 2017 race start times and network coverage for the NASCAR Cup Series, NASCAR XFINITY Series and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series -- based on the previously released schedule dates. Through collaborative efforts with its broadcast partners, race teams and tracks, NASCAR was able to finalize full 2017 start times for all three national series almost six months earlier than in recent seasons. Seventeen national series events will start closer to primetime, helping to bring NASCAR's photo finishes and close, side-by-side racing to larger audiences. Seventeen NASCAR Cup Series points races will air on broadcast television next year, including the DAYTONA 500 and Coca-Cola 600 on FOX; and the Brickyard 400 and the NASCAR Cup Series championship race, the Ford EcoBoost 400 from Homestead-Miami Speedway, on NBC. Since the initial release of the 2017 schedule, NASCAR and its partners have shifted two dates for the NASCAR XFINITY Series and the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. The NASCAR XFINITY Series race at Road America will move to Sunday, August 27, on NBC. The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park will now take place on Sunday, September 3, airing on FS1 prior to the NASCAR Cup Series event at Darlington Raceway on NBCSN. Looking ahead to the 2018 season, the DAYTONA 500 will move to Sunday, February 18, during Presidents Day weekend. NASCAR and its partners are working collaboratively on the remainder of the 2018 schedule, which will be finalized and released at a later date.(NASCAR), see Cup start times on the 2017 Cup schedule page.(7-27-2016)
Target ending IndyCar sponsorship; will continue with Larson in 2017: Target will leave IndyCar at the end of this season after 27 years with Chip Ganassi Racing that included 11 championships and four Indianapolis 500 victories. The exit comes as Target is examining all of its marketing platforms under new chairman Brian Cornell. Target is also the primary sponsor of Kyle Larson in NASCAR's top Sprint Cup Series and will return to his car in 2017. Target's relationship with Ganassi is one of the longest in any racing series, and the retail giant was a key player in helping Ganassi build his organization. Target not only sponsored Ganassi's first car as a team owner, it eventually became a partner as the Ganassi team grew to one of the top two players in open wheel racing. "It was a really difficult decision that we made -- we've been with Chip Ganassi Racing for 27 years and we are ridiculously proud of the success," [senior vice president Scott] Nygaard said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press. "But the Target brand is about being fresh and new, so we felt like this was the time to make the difficult decision and expand our sports marketing platform." About the NASCAR sponsorship, Nygaard said only that Target is excited for the 2017 season with Larson. Target's contract with Ganassi runs through next year.(Associated Press/ESPN.com)(7-27-2016)
Indianapolis Post-race penalties and warnings: NASCAR has announced penalties and warnings following the Crown Royal presents the Combat Wounded Coalition 400 Sprint Cup Series race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 24th.
#4-Kevin Harvick was given a P3 penalty for violations of Section 12.1; Section 10.11.3.4 [Lug Nut(s) not properly installed]. Crew chief (Rodney Childers) has been fined $20,000 and suspended from all NASCAR Series Championship Points Events through August 3, 2016 and placed on NASCAR Probation through December 31, 2016.
The following warnings were issued:
#5-Kahne (1), #27-Menard (3), #83-Dibenedetto (4), Failed LIS twice during pre-race inspection, written warning
#41-Busch (2), #43-Almirola (2), Failed template inspection twice, prequalifying inspection, written warning
()--Total current warnings
See the New Hampshire Post-Event Penalty & Warning Report(pdf) for more.
AND: [SHR engineer] Dax Gerringer will serve as Harvick's interim crew chief at Pocono.(7-20-2016)
Pocono Chase Clinch Scenarios: So far, the five drivers who have clinched Chase berths are #2-Brad Keselowski, #18-Kyle Busch, #19-Carl Edwards, #48-Jimmie Johnson and #20-Matt Kenseth. Chase-clinching scenarios for this weekend's Sprint Cup Series race at Pocono:
#4-Kevin Harvick (1 win, 671 points, +434 points ahead of 31st): Can clinch with a win.
#41-Kurt Busch (1 wins, 627 points, +390 points ahead of 31st): Can clinch with a win.
#22-Joey Logano (1 Win, 606 points, +369 points ahead of 31st): Can clinch with a win.
#78-Martin Truex Jr (1 win, 573 points, +336 points ahead of 31st): Can clinch with a win.
#11-Denny Hamlin (1 win, 542 points, +305 points ahead of 31st): Can clinch with a win.
All of the above drivers have already clinched a position in the top 30 in the drivers points standings, but need to clear the multiple wins hurdle.(NASCAR.com)(7-27-2016)
Top-20 drivers in merchandise sales released: This race weekend at Pocono Raceway marks the first anniversary of the Fanatics Trackside Superstore - the reimagined and improved at-track shopping experience. The Trackside Superstore offers fans a one-stop-shop every race weekend with the largest selection of in-store NASCAR merchandise in the world. Halfway through 2016, photo finishes, side-by-side racing and record passing as the Chase spots are clinched has driven interest in the telecast and engagement on digital and social as well as in driver merchandise sales. NASCAR fans take pride in flying the colors of their favorite drivers and the first-half merchandise sales results are officially tallied. The top three drivers are no surprise with #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr. leading the rankings, followed by six-time Sprint Cup Series champion #48-Jimmie Johnson and defending champion #18-Kyle Busch. With rising stars like Austin Dillon, Kyle Larson, Joey Logano and Sunoco Rookie of the Year contenders Chase Elliott and Ryan Blaney, there are currently five drivers in the top-20 list who are 26 years of age or younger. The most popular products available at the Trackside Superstore include apparel, headwear and novelty items. Lionel's 1:64 scale die-casts are up 77 percent year-over-year, one of the largest growth trends across all categories at the Trackside Superstore.(NASCAR) The top 20: #88-Earnhardt, Jr., #48-Johnson, #18-Busch, #24-Elliott, #4-Harvick, #14-Stewart, #10-Patrick, #19-Edwards, #2-Keselowski, #5-Kahne, #22-Logano, #11-Hamlin, #20-Kenseth, #78-Truex, Jr., #41-Busch, #42-Larson, #31-Newman, #3-Dillon, #21-Blaney, #1-McMurray.(NASCAR)(7-27-2016)
Hamlin to help with West Virginia flood relief: #11-Denny Hamlin is heading to southern West Virginia to help out after deadly floods ravaged the region. A news release from The Greenbrier resort says that on Thursday evening, Hamlin will hand out toys and school supplies to Greenbrier County students affected by the June 23 floods. He'll be at the White Sulphur Springs train station. Kyle Larson, who competes in NASCAR's Sprint Cup Series, will accompany Hamlin on Thursday. The floods killed 23 people and devastated homes, businesses and infrastructure. Greenbrier County accounted for 15 of the 23 deaths.(Associated Press)(7-27-2016)
vineyard vines joins Germain Racing: vineyard vines has just announced a partnership with NASCAR Germain Racing and driver Casey Mears, for five upcoming races in 2016. vineyard vines is one of the first lifestyle clothing brands to be associated with a NASCAR team, and their whale logo will be prominently displayed on the #13 Germain Racing car and the driver's fire suit. Kicking off with the "Combat Wounded Coalition 400 at the Brickyard" which took place at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Sunday, July 24, vineyard vines will be partnering with Germain Racing on four other races throughout the season. "The story of the Murray brothers is great. Two guys quit their jobs to sell neckties. It's exciting to promote vineyard vines in what, I believe, is still just the beginning of the growth of their brand. We are thrilled to bring the vineyard vines style into the NASCAR garage," said Bob Germain. vineyard vines will be opening a new retail store in Indianapolis this month and next up in the series of NASCAR races will be in Richmond, VA this September followed by Chicago, Charlotte and Miami.(Vineyard Vines)(7-27-2016)
Pocono Goodyear Tire Notes: While NASCAR Sprint Cup and Camping World Truck Series teams will run the same right-side tire code at Pocono this week, they will run different left-side codes . . . for Sprint Cup teams, this is the same combination of left- and right-side tires they ran at Pocono in June . . . while Pocono is the only track at which Cup teams will run this left-side tire code (D-4708), they did run this right-side code (D-4710) at Indianapolis last week . . . as on all NASCAR ovals greater than one mile in length, teams are required to run inner liners on all four tire positions at Pocono . . . air pressure in those inner liners should be 12-25 psi greater than that of the outer tire.(Goodyear), see tire codes, pressures, set limits and more on the Pocono Race Info page
Jake Owens in concert at Texas: Texas Motor Speedway's "Christmas In July" event just added another major present under the tree for fans attending the AAA Texas 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race on Sunday, Nov. 6, as country music star Jake Owen will perform a free concert during the Loud & Proud Pre-Race Show Fueled By American Ethanol. Since releasing his debut album Startin' with Me in 2006, Owen has risen as one of today's most popular male country singers for his irresistible melodies, smooth vocals, and laid-back attitude. The Florida native is known throughout the music world as an artist who has become a beacon of positive vibes through his uplifting lyrics and melodies, optimism, love of the beach and his youthful spontaneity. While the concert can be enjoyed from the grandstands for free by AAA Texas 500 ticketholders, fans also have an opportunity to watch the concert and pre-race driver introductions stage side by purchasing a Loud and Proud Pre-Race Show Fueled by American Ethanol pass for $79. The pre-race pass and access are free for all Texas Motor Speedway season ticket holders. A ticket to the AAA Texas 500 must accompany all pre-race passes. The free music also will continue for fans following the conclusion of the AAA Texas 500. Jason Boland & The Stragglers will perform at the Portacool Post-Race Show approximately 30 minutes after the finish of the race.(TMS)(7-27-2016)
Sad News - Judy Parrott: Judy Kelley Parrott, 75, of Statesville died peacefully in her home on July 22, 2016. Survivors include her husband (former NASCAR Crew Chief) Buddy Parrott; sons, (NASCAR crew chief) Todd Parrott (Billie) of Mooresville and (NASCAR crew chief) Brad Parrott (Mary) of Huntersville; siblings Pat Power and Mike Kelley, and 6 grandchildren, Tyler, Blake, Chandler, Ella, Ayden and Lola. Judy was Vice President of Sports Management Group, which was formed in 1986 to manage the Folgers NASCAR racing program. As the account manager she worked along side of many drivers ranging from Tim Richmond to Mark Martin. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made in Judy Parrott's name to the following: Motor Racing Outreach or Victory Junction. A memorial service will be held in her honor at Langtree Plantation on Wednesday August 17th at 6:00 pm. Rev, Kenny Crosswhite will officiate.(Jamesfuneralhomelkn.com)(7-27-2016)
Sad News - Dave Sisco: Former NASCAR Cup driver and 1969 Nashville Fairgrounds late model champion Dave Sisco passed away, July 25, 2016, at the age of 79. He was U. S. Army Veteran. His family has asked that those desiring to make memorial contributions to do so to either the Alzheimer's Association, St. Judes or Caris Hospice of Dickson, TN.(full obit and service info at mcdonaldfuneralhomeinc.com). Sisco ran 133 NASCAR Sprint (then Winston) Cup races from 1971 to 1977, with 6 top-fives and 31 top-tens. His best finish was 3rd two times, both in the Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway, the first in 1974, won by Cale Yarborough 2nd was Darrell Waltrip. Sisco finished 3rd again in 1975 to winner Bobby Allison with Richard Petty 2nd.(7-26-2016)
Indianapolis TV Ratings: With Jeff Gordon coming out of retirement to replace Dale Earnhardt Jr., NASCAR's Brickyard 400 scored a double-digit increase over last year. NASCAR Sprint Cup racing from Indianapolis earned a 3.1 rating and 5.2 million viewers on NBCSN Sunday afternoon, according to Nielsen fast-nationals - up 3% in ratings and 11% in viewership from last year (3.0, 4.7M) and down 9% and about even, respectively, compared to 2014 on ESPN (3.4, 5.2M). Kyle Busch's win, in which Gordon finished 13th, ranks as the highest rated and most-watched program in the history of NBCSN (previously VERSUS and OLN). The previous highs were set by last year's race. It was also the third of the past five Sprint Cup races to post an increase in ratings and viewership. Excluding races that were postponed either this year or last, seven of 17 races this season have posted an increase in ratings and/or viewership.(Sports Media Watch), see race-by-race TV Ratings for 2016 and a comparison chart on the 2016 TV Ratings page.(7-26-2016)
E.J. Wade Construction sponsoring DiBenedetto at Pocono: BK Racing announced that E.J. Wade Construction will return as a primary sponsor on Matt DiBenedetto's #83 E.J. Wade Construction Toyota Camry in the Pennsylvania 400 at Pocono Raceway. The race on July 31, 2016 will be E.J. Wade Construction's third race with BK Racing, debuting at Richmond in April. E.J. Wade Construction is a Class A Contractor and a VDOT Prequalified Contractor that has highly trained professionals who have their tradesman licenses in electrical, plumbing, HVAC and gas fitting tradesman licenses.(BK Racing), see an image of the car on the #83 team paint schemes page.(7-26-2016)
Mobil 1 sponsoring 3 SHR cars at Pocono: A live-broadcasted virtual race, a one-of-a-kind time lapse experience and another leg of an endless road trip are all upcoming digital video events to celebrate ExxonMobil's expanded partnership with Stewart-Haas Racing at Pocono. These three pieces of Mobil 1 online content will be released during the days leading up to race weekend, culminating with full primary sponsorships of #4-Kevin Harvick, #10-Danica Patrick and #14-Tony Stewart for the Pennsylvania 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race. Additionally, Mobil 1 will be the presenting sponsor of the race's NBC Sports Network TV broadcast. "The same brand having marquee placement on three cars for one of NASCAR's top teams during the same race is rare, so we are marking the event by bringing more Mobil 1-branded action to race fans before and during the Pocono Sprint Cup race," said Kai Decker, global motorsports manager at ExxonMobil. "Our Mobil 1 Pocono digital content ranges from light-hearted to thrilling and provides behind-the-scenes access we think fans will love."(Mobil 1 PR), see images of the cars on the #4 team paint schemes, #10 team paint schemes, and #14 team paint schemes pages(7-26-2015)
Top 10 Driver Ratings at Pocono:
#24-Chase Elliott 130.9
#41-Kurt Busch 106.8
#48-Jimmie Johnson 106.3
#11-Denny Hamlin 106.0
#19-Carl Edwards 95.1
#14-Tony Stewart 94.7
#88-Dale Earnhardt Jr 93.9
#4-Kevin Harvick 92.4
#31-Ryan Newman 92.3
#22-Joey Logano 92.2
Note: Driver Ratings compiled from 2005-2015 races (22 total) among active drivers at Pocono Raceway.
Formula combining the following categories: Win, Finish, Top-15 Finish, Average Running Position while on Lead Lap, Average Speed Under Green, Fastest Lap, Led Most Laps, Lead-Lap Finish. Maximum: 150 points per race.
See an explanation how the Driver Rating is calculated at NASCAR.com.(NASCAR)
Guy Fieri named Grand Marshal at Pocono: Chef, restaurateur, New York Times best-selling author and Emmy Award-winning television host Guy Fieri will serve as Grand Marshal of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Pennsylvania 400, Sunday July 31 at Pocono Raceway. Fieri owns Guy Fieri's Mount Pocono Kitchen in the Mount Airy Casino Resort in nearby Mount Pocono, as well as Guy Fieri's Chophouse in Atlantic City, amongst others. He is also the star of "Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives," and "Guy's Grocery Games" on Food Network., Fieri will provide the "Star Your Engines" command prior to the start of the Pennsylvania 400.(Pocono Raceway)(7-26-2016)
Earnhardt, Jr gives update on his status: Dale Earnhardt Jr., on his weekly The Dale Jr. Download, said "I miss the people more than the driving" while sitting out with concussion-type symptoms such as balance issues and nausea. He said he has been working on the physical and mental exercises for 2-2.5 hours a day. "This process is going to take a little bit longer. ... With my history, I don't need to get cute (in returning)," said Earnhardt, who indicated he will see doctors soon to make a determination about Watkins Glen next week. He said it must have been a challenge for Jeff Gordon because of the changes to the cars since Gordon last drove them. On Kyle Busch's win: "You have to hand it to Gibbs. Good Lord, their stuff is so fast."(ESPN.com)(7-25-2016)
Stockman replaces Alexander as Menard's crew chief: Richard Childress Racing has made a change in crew chiefs for its NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and NASCAR XFINITY Series programs, effective immediately. Danny Stockman, a two-time champion in the NASCAR XFINITY and Camping World Truck Series, will assume crew chief responsibilities for the #27 Menards Chevrolet SS team, with driver Paul Menard. Stockman's first race with the team will be at Pocono Raceway on Sunday, July 31. During Stockman's seven-year tenure with RCR, he has captured two championships and nine wins between the NASCAR XFINITY and Camping World Truck Series. The Yucaipa, Calif., native joins the #27 program already familiar with Menard, having worked with the veteran driver for the past two years in the XFINITY Series. Together, they produced a race win at Road America in 2015. Menard, who earned a spot in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Chase in 2015, is currently 23rd in the championship point standings. RCR's current NASCAR XFINITY Series Director, Gil Martin, will serve as interim crew chief for the #2 Rheem/Menards program. Martin, a 16-year veteran of RCR, is among a select group of crew chiefs that have won races in NASCAR's Sprint Cup, XFINITY and Camping World Truck Series.(Richard Childress Racing)(7-25-2016)
NASCAR would like to see better attendance, racing at IMS: NASCAR's Steve O'Donnell said Monday on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio that series officials would like to "see more fans in the stands" at Indianapolis Motor Speedway but stated that "we've got to put on the racing people want to see." Kyle Busch dominated Sunday's Brickyard 400, leading 149 of 170 laps. That came a day after he won the Xfinity race there, leading all 20 laps in his heat and 62 of the 63 laps in the main event. While attendance figures are not announced, The Indianapolis Star reported that Sunday's crowd "might not have topped 50,000" at a track that has more than 250,000 permanent seats. On the crowd, O'Donnell said: "Certainly we would like to see more fans in the stands. It's been a struggle over the last couple of years for sure. We put a little bit on that ourselves when we had the tire issue (in 2008 where tire issues prevented any green flag stretch longer than 13 laps).
"It's a challenging race track for us from a racing perspective. That's no secret. So, we've got to balance the ability to race at that speedway but also put on a good race and balance that with the attendance. That's an ongoing thing. We're in discussions with Doug Boles (track president) and Mark Miles (CEO of Hulman & Company), and I know from their perspective as well, they certainly want to see folks in the stands, as do we. It's an important market for us, but by the same token we've got to put on the racing that people want to see. It's a balance, but we've got to make sure when we go there it's the best of all worlds and this year was a challenge, and we want to see that turn and reverse."
O'Donnell said that more can be done with the racing at Indianapolis: "Maybe the cars were a little bit closer together from a 1-40 standpoint, but obviously the ability to pass was a challenge, especially at the front. We'll go back and look at what levers we can pull. We're still evaluating 2017 (rules package), continuing on the lower (aero) trend and working with Goodyear on the tire. It's just a real challenge in terms of the groove in the corners at Indy. It's something we've got to continue to look at and see if we can, if at all, open up the ability to draft more and increase those passing zones."(NBC Sports)(7-25-2016)
Stewart, Gordon take final lap together at Indianapolis: The two Indiana favorites didn't win the Brickyard 400 -- far from it. But Tony Stewart and Jeff Gordon gave the fans at Indianapolis Motor Speedway the highlight of the race minutes after the checkered flag dropped on the Kyle Busch victory Sunday afternoon. Stewart and Gordon took a ceremonial lap driving side-by-side in what is expected to be their final race in the state that has celebrated their racing prowess. After they parked on pit road, Gordon went over to Stewart and gave him a hug.
"For us to share that moment together, I mean that's probably our last lap around here in a professional race, and I'll cherish that moment," Stewart said. "It's something that doesn't happen very often. It was pretty cool. ... We're never going to get that chance to do that again."
"Tony and I have gone through a lot over the years, but he and I have become really good friends," Gordon said. "I was with him when he got hurt this year. ... I learned a lot about Tony Stewart. He's driven. He's tough. To see him in that pain I saw him in and come back and win Sonoma [last month] and be out here driving like this with a chance at a championship when this whole thing is over, that's impressive."(ESPN.com)(7-25-2016)
Kenseth and Johnson Clinch Chase spots: #20-Matt Kenseth and #48-Jimmie Johnson clinched a spot in the top 30 in driver standings at Indianapolis Motor Speedway Sunday. The magic number was 271, as a driver needed to be 271 points ahead of 31st-place following the race. After Kenseth's 2nd place finish, he is 308 points ahead of 31st, while Johnson's 3rd place finish puts him 315 points ahead. #2-Brad Keselowski, #18-Kyle Busch and #19-Carl Edwards had already clinched a spot.(7-25-2016)
Gordon enjoys return to racing; restarts provided challenge: Gordon was driving the #88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet in a substitute role for Dale Earnhardt Jr., who has suffered concussion-like symptoms in recent weeks and was advised by doctors not to race until he recovers. The unexpected opportunity was also a stern reminder for Gordon of the level of competition he left behind last November when he transitioned to the FOX Sports television booth. Though he lost ground repeatedly on restarts, however, Gordon finished a respectable 13th on Sunday.
"Wow-the challenges to be out there against the best, especially on those restarts," said Gordon, who also will sub for Earnhardt next Sunday at Pocono. "I got my butt kicked on those restarts. It was embarrassing. While I will fill in for Dale Jr., and I hope he's doing good, I needed a fill-in on restarts. It was pretty bad. Other than that, I thought it went really well. I really liked working with (crew chief) Greg (Ives) and this whole #88 team. ... We just couldn't get the track position. It was pretty tough to pass. And I didn't want to see those cautions there at the end. But, I'm going to need some practice on restarts for Pocono anyway."(NASCAR Wire Service)(7-25-2016)
Tony George is again Chairman of the Board at IMS: The most intriguing story coming out of Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Sunday for people who follow racing was the public confirmation that Tony George was quietly named chairman of the board of the speedway, in addition to its parent company, Hulman & Co., some four months ago. Sure, there was Indy's 160-lap NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race -- actually, make that 170, thanks to a series of overtime crashes -- which to the surprise of no one was dominated by Kyle Busch and the Joe Gibbs Racing Toyotas. That made George's ascension to the chairman's seat of his family's companies the biggest story of the day, marking a comeback that rivals any we've ever seen on the executive side of the sport. The news broke in unorthodox fashion. George was voted into the chairman roles during Hulman & Co.'s annual meeting in March, but there was no public confirmation of the change until he was introduced as the IMS chairman over the Speedway's public address system when he stepped out to give the command to start engines for Sunday's race. Talk about a private company that really keeps things private. Now 56, George was named president of Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 1989 when he was just 29 years old, kicking off a turbulent 20-year run. During his tenure, George brought NASCAR to Indianapolis with the first Brickyard 400 in 1994, and he also built a road course in the IMS infield that hosted the Formula One United States Grand Prix from 2000-07. But George is more famous (or infamous) for creating the Indy Racing League and using the Indianapolis 500 as a bargaining chip in the quest to take control of Indy car racing from CART. The 13-year civil war between the two Indy car series from 1996-2008 caused huge damage to the sport, which it still continues to recover from. After Indy car racing was unified as the IndyCar Series under Hulman &. Co leadership, George resigned as the league's CEO in 2009, and he relinquished his board roles in 2011. He was reinstated to the IMS and Hulman & Co. boards in 2013; with his 82-year-old mother Mari Hulman-George in failing health, his recent ascension to the chairman role doesn't come as a surprise. Just family business. Still, the fact that Hulman & Co. chose not to publicize the move indicates they understand the perception of putting George back in charge still carries some public relations baggage with longtime Indy car fans -- even though as the board chairman, he will have little or no influence on the company's day-to-day operations.(ESPN.com)(7-25-2016)
NASCAR may use more timing zones at IMS: NASCAR [employed] additional timing zones on pit road for [Saturday's] NASCAR Xfinity race and if all [went] well, those timing zones will be used in Sunday's Brickyard 400, NASCAR confirmed to NBC Sports. There were 12 timing zones along pit road - up from six previously at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. There [was] be a timing zone about every 3.5 pit stalls on average. Those are being added to limit drivers accelerating toward their pit stall and passing cars. That became a bigger issue after NASCAR penalized Martin Truex Jr. for passing Kevin Harvick on pit road during the Sprint Cup race at Kentucky Speedway earlier this month. NASCAR experimented with the additional timing lines last weekend at New Hampshire and had no issues.(NBC Sports)(7-24-2016)
NASCAR Chevrolet Diversity Scholarship Contest returns: NASCAR and Chevrolet announced the launch of the second annual NASCAR Chevrolet Diversity Scholarship Contest during a press conference at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Through this initiative, NASCAR and Chevrolet continue their longstanding commitment to Science, Technology, Engineering & Math (STEM) education and promoting opportunities for college students pursuing technology related careers. The contest challenges students to identify a technology or innovation within NASCAR and explain how STEM professionals came to its design in 90-second videos submitted on chevyscholarship.nascardiversity.com. Four winners will receive a total of $20,000 in scholarships and a VIP experience at Texas Motor Speedway during the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup race on November 6, 2016. In what has quickly become an important component of NASCAR's diversity and inclusion platform, the scholarship program helps both organizations attract young, diverse talent to the world of motorsports. Video submissions will be judged on technical accuracy, creativity and production quality. Winners will be awarded a scholarship and an exclusive, behind-the-scenes race experience in Texas, including a tour of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series garage, pace car rides and meet-and-greets with Team Chevy drivers and Chevrolet NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Program Manager, Alba Colon.(NASCAR)(7-24-2016)
Long Pond, PA
Happy Hour Practice:
Saturday, July 30, 2016, 11:00am/et
TV: NBCSN, 11:00am/et
Born in JULY
30 Robert Grey Allison, Ben Arnold, Neil Bonnet, Henry Ford, Ricky Sanders, Ward Towers
31 Mike Alexander, Bill Cintia, Bill Deakin, Flossie Johnson, Kyle Larson, Billy Rafter, Buck Simmons, Louise Smith, Bob Tomlinson
Born in AUGUST
1 Ronnie Hornaday III, Bobby Issac, Bob Keselowski, Alison Poling McCabe, Eddie Pagan, Jerry Sisco
2 Mike Eagan, Brian France, Joe Penland, Fritz Wilson
3 Tracy Adamczyk-Dowd (sister), Brad Baker, Terri Parsons
4 Jeff Gordon, Kurt Busch, Bob Calkins, Amy Hair, Bob Hubner, Allen Styers
5 Josh Browne, Alan Gustafson, Kenny Irwin Jr., Chad Knaus, Paul Lamach, Pattie Petty, Rich Woodland
6 Jeb Burton, Gail Connor, Tom Hubert, Kendall McReynolds, Rick Ware, "Amish" John Stewart
7 Pete White, Steve Loyd, Kyle Drum
8 Gail Norton, Parker Kligerman, Tommy Ellis, Jack Sprague, Don Leo
9 Tom Higgins, Cindy Shepherd, Lloyd Dane, Leo Gordon
10 Doug Hewitt, Donnie Neuenberger, Murray Timm, Chris Heroy, Ryan Moore
11 Lennie Pond, H. Clay Earles, Glenn Jarrett, Lonnie Rush Jr., Frankie Schneider, John Dodson, Zachary Gay
12 Dick Bown, Richard Everett Craven, Michelle Durkin, Tony Furr Jr., Scott Gaylord, Jordan Irvan, Parnelli Jones, George Lubejko, Ryan Reed, Carolyn Rudd Wax
13 John Feeney, John Baden, Patrick Carpentier, Hideo Fukuyama, Jim Roper, Bill Wilsey
14 Rusty Wallace, Lee Spencer
15 Andy Petree, Carl Edwards, Newt Moore, Robin Pemberton, Mark Kennerly
16 Ronald Allison, Donald Allison, Diane Hawkins, Lenny Batycki
17 Rex White, Jerry Horton, Danny Marshburn, Matt Fernandez, Cathy Simmons
18 Drew Markle, Matt McLaughlin, Steve Wallace, Rachel Wood, Steve Lowery, Andrea Sospenzo, Andy Pilgrim
19 Dale Inman, David Hyder, Alex and Dillon Makar, Ray Elder
20 Bobby Auten, Kenny Martin, Jerry Punch, Dennis Punch, Ronald Puryear
21 Patti Bisciotti, William Vance, Winston Kelley, Paul Menard, Mark McCarter, Burney Lamar, Doug Shaak, Keven Wood
22 Collin Houston, Tommy Mullis, Elmo Langley
23 Steve Park, Kenny Wallace, Scott Miller, Ashlie Garone, Robert Larkins, Ralph Sheheen, Shane Sieg, Mike Janssen
24 David Bonnett, Lee McCall
25 T.J. Bell, Casey Atwood, David Smith, Shane Hall, Kelly Bires, Sarah Catlin Waltrip,
26 Jayski.com, Ray Evernham, James Hylton, Landon Rudd, Greg Engle, Ken Duan, Adam Gravitt, Daniel Rankin
27 Chris Brook, T. Wayne Robertson, Gloria Broadwater, Richard Broome, Billy Hodges, Chuck Rider, Mike Hillman, Claire B. Lang
28 Patty Eversole, Kelley Earnhardt, Randy LaJoie, Thomas Hatcher, Brandon Miller, Hoss Berry,
29 Wendell Scott, Jim Brady, Geneva Key, Tim Peters, Ken Stout, Paul Vanderlaan
30 Mike Helton, Sue Fiala, Mark Allen, Gordon Gibbs, John Erickson
31 Sara Eolin, Patti Jarrett Makar, Mike Nelson, Jerry Baxter Jr., Erin Beam, Wayne Orme, Mike Morneau, Angus Adamczyk