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  • Dick Berggren named to Maine Motorsports HOF: The Maine Motorsports Hall of Fame has announced that on April 4, 2015, Dick Berggren, President of the Racing History Preservation Group that is the parent company of the North East Motor Sports Museum, will be inducted. Dick will be one of six inductees who have influenced motorsports in Maine. He made his mark on the sport in his #80 Super Modified at Beech Ridge Motor Speedway in the mid-1970s and raced Modifieds there in the early 1980s. As editor of Stock Car Racing Magazine and later his own Dick Berggren's Speedway Illustrated, he put Maine motorsports on the national stage with his stories about Beech Ridge, the Oxford 250 and Maine racing personalities. In total, only 80 other significant Maine racing figures have been inductee into the Maine Motorsports Hall of Fame. In addition to his time behind the wheel of a racecar and writing about motorsports, he became best known for reporting from pit road at NASCAR tracks all over the United States. In his long storied career, Dick could be found on some of the biggest TV networks including CBS, ABC, ESPN, ESPN2, TNT, Speed and Fox Sports just to name a few. Never to shy away from a story, he was ready with the microphone and the ever important questions that the TV audience wanted to know the answer to. Recently, Dick was asked what being inducted into the Maine Motorsports Hall of Fame meant to him and the response was "Many of my friendships that I formed in and around Maine back in the 70s still exist today. Maine has been a special place for me, not only because I won a race at Beech Ridge but more importantly many of my hero's come from Maine such as Ricky Craven, Andy Cusack, Mike Rowe, Dick McCabe, Bob Bahre and so, so many more." Dick also went on to note that "I love the state of Maine and all it stands for, the people, the landscape, life in general and of course it has been and still is my favorite vacation place. I have traveled the world over and there is no place like Maine, anywhere."(PR)(12-20-2014)

  • Stenhouse Jr. running open wheel race: Ricky Stenhouse Jr. wants a checkered flag for Christmas - well, sort of. The Roush Fenway Racing driver will get back behind the wheel this Saturday, going back to his short-track, open-wheel roots in DuQuoin, Illinois. Stenhouse will compete in the fifth annual Great Clips Battle at the Center on the one-sixth Mini-Magic Mile at the Southern Illinois Center, located on the grounds of the DuQuoin State Fair. The Battle at the Center is a non-points all-star race put on by the POWRi Lucas Oil National Midget Series. It'll be Stenhouse's second bid to win at DuQuoin, having finished second in the inaugural Battle at the Center in 2010. He'll be driving for Bryan Clauson Racing as a tune-up of sorts for next month's Lucas Oil Chili Bowl in Tulsa, Okla., from Jan. 12-17. It'll be Stenhouse's third try to win the Chili Bowl, having finished ninth in 2012, but failed to advance out of the B feature last year. (NBC Sports)(12-20-2014)

  • Congrats: Matt Puccia crew chief for #16 Greg Biffle married Alyssa Abbott on 12/13/14 at St. Mark's Church, Huntersville, NC, they are honeymooning in Hawaii.(12-20-2014)

  • Tatoian promoted to president of Dover International Speedway: Dover International Speedway announced the promotion of Michael Tatoian to the position of president, effective. Jan. 2, 2015. Tatoian retains his position of Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of parent company Dover Motorsports, Inc. Tatoian will continue to report to Denis McGlynn, president and CEO of Dover Motorsports, Inc. Tatoian has worked to bring additional events to the Dover International Speedway schedule, including the popular Firefly Music Festival and the new Big Barrel Country Music Festival. Held on the Speedway's property since 2012, Firefly Music Festival is a four day event attracting 80,000 fans per day, and in three years has become one of the fastest growing, most successful music festival of all time according to various industry sources. Big Barrel Country Music Festival will bring some of the biggest names in country music to The Woodlands at Dover International Speedway for the three day event, June 26-28, 2015. Tatoian has more than 25 years of experience in professional sports ownership, management and operations. Prior to joining Dover Motorsports, Inc., Tatoian served as Chief Executive Officer and Managing Partner of Victory Sports Group, LLC. In his role there, he oversaw the development and management of professional sports organizations, including minor league baseball, minor league hockey and arena football. Tatoian also previously served as Chief Operating Officer of United Sports Ventures, Inc., an umbrella sports company that owned and operated eight minor league teams. Tatoian is a graduate of the University of Northern Iowa, with a degree in Public Relations and Marketing. He and his wife Tammy reside in Middletown, Del.(Dover Speedway)(12-20-2014)


  • Larson, McMurray running Rolex 24 for Ganassi: Seven-time IMSA Champions and five-time Rolex 24 At Daytona Winners Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates announced the fielding of two Prototypes for the 2015 Rolex 24 At Daytona, featuring eight drivers that represent some of the best talent the motor racing world has to offer. Veteran Scott Pruett and new teammate Joey Hand will unite with Chip Ganassi Racing Teams' Verizon IndyCar Series race-winner Charlie Kimball and CGRT development driver Sage Karam to form the lineup in the #01 Ford EcoBoost/Target Riley, while CGRT Verizon IndyCar Series Champions and Indianapolis 500 Winners Scott Dixon and Tony Kanaan join CGRFS NASCAR Sprint Cup Series reigning Rookie of the Year Kyle Larson and NSCS race-winner Jamie McMurray in the #02 Target/Ford EcoBoost Riley. The 2015 CGRFS Rolex 24 At Daytona driver roster is an impressive group of international racing champions representing two Indianapolis 500 titles (Dixon-2008, Kanaan-2013), a Daytona 500 (McMurray-2010), four Verizon IndyCar Series Championships (Dixon-2003, 2008, 2013 and Kanaan-2004), seven Prototype Championships (Pruett-2004, 2006, 2008, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013), and four Rookie of the Year honors in their respective series (Kanaan-1999, Dixon-2001, McMurray-2003, Larson-2014). The group brings with them 144 total wins.(Chip Ganassi Racing)(12-19-2014)

  • Sprint Experience will not be used in 2015: Sprint, which announced Wednesday it would discontinue sponsorship of the Sprint Cup Series at the end of its current contract, no longer will host its 15,000-square-foot Sprint Experience interactive display area at NASCAR tracks, multiple sources confirmed to the [Charlotte] Observer. The Sprint Experience brings fans closer to the sport by offering custom interactive games, driver and celebrity appearances, participation in stage games, and the latest handsets and technologies available from Sprint. Hospitality industry workers and others associated with transporting and operating the mobile display were informed this week they would not be used next season, sources said. Sprint officials declined to address the issue when asked Thursday for comment. "We will continue to use the NASCAR Sprint Cup sponsorship platform in 2015 and 2016 to drive our business," said spokesperson Kimberly Meesters. "Every season we evaluate our specific NASCAR programs and adjust as needed. We are finalizing the details of our 2015 plan now and will be ready to kick off the season Feb. 14 for the Sprint Unlimited at Daytona."(Charlotte Observer)(12-19-2014)

  • Fox to air 2015 NASCAR preview show Sunday: This Sunday will mark 63 days until the 2015 Daytona 500, and FOX will mark nine weeks until the Great American Race with a NASCAR Productions-produced "NASCAR 2015: A New Era" season preview. The hour-long show will air at 4:30pm/et to 78% of the country. Those fans slated to see the National Footbal League game between New York Giants at the St. Louis Rams will get "NASCAR 2015: A New Era" at 3:00pm/et. The special will focus on the Daytona 500 on February 22, including "Brooklyn Nine-Nine" star Terry Crews explaining the magnitude of the season-opening race. Then, the show will take a look at the new second race of the season at Atlanta and a West Coast swing among the 2015 schedule changes. Team and driver swaps as well as NBC coming on board as a new television partner will be examined. As they did during the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup on FOX Sports 1's "NASCAR RaceHub," analysts Larry McReynolds, Michael Waltrip, Jeff Hammond, pit reporter Matt Yocum and host Adam Alexander will make predictions in special installment of the NASCAR War Room.(NASCAR.com)(12-19-2014)

  • Kid Rock to headline the DAYTONA 500 Budweiser Pre-Race Show: Multi-platinum award-winning, American rock star Kid Rock will perform the DAYTONA 500 Budweiser Pre-Race Show, the prelude to the 57th annual "Great American Race" on Sunday, Feb. 22. Kid Rock will perform several of his hits, including his brand new single "First Kiss," on pit road of the "World Center of Racing" prior to the start of the DAYTONA 500, the prestigious season-opening event of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. All race fans that purchase a Pre-Race/Sprint FANZONE access pass for the DAYTONA 500 can enjoy Kid Rock's DAYTONA 500 Budweiser Pre-Race Show up close, along with driver introductions. Following his performance, Kid Rock will release his latest studio album First Kiss on Tuesday, Feb. 24. In addition to his concert, a special ticket package designed around Kid Rock has been created that includes a DAYTONA 500 grandstand ticket, Pre-Race/Sprint FANZONE access and VIP area access to Kid Rock's performance. Packages start at $169. Fans who have already purchased DAYTONA 500 tickets can add Pre-Race/Sprint FANZONE access along with VIP area access for just $104.(DIS)(12-19-2014)

  • Martinsville Speedway's Christmas Toy Drive Raises More Than $13,000 For Grace Network: The holiday season is a time for giving and Martinsville Speedway's 18th annual Christmas Toy Drive showed that the NASCAR community is willing to do just that. The toy drive raised more than $13,000 and saw 200 toys donated for the Grace Network of Martinsville and Henry County. A network of more than 100 area churches, the Grace Network will use the money to provide toys and clothes to underserved and underprivileged children in the area. The Grace Network gets lists of names from the churches in the network and then is able to take the money raised and shop according to each child's needs and wishes. This year's toy drive reached a bigger audience than ever before, thanks to some ticket packages that were put up for auction. Race fans from all over the country bid on race experiences like getting a picture taken in Victory Lane with the STP 500 winner or the opportunity to ride in the Official Pace Car for the start of the race.(Martinsville Speedway)(12-19-2014)


  • Kurt Busch has court date Tuesday UPDATES: NASCAR driver Kurt Busch is scheduled to appear at Kent County Family Court on Tuesday for a hearing related to a protective order filed by his ex-girlfriend, who last month alleged that Busch had "smashed" her head three times against a bedroom wall in their motor coach following a September race in Dover. Busch will be present at the courthouse, said Dover attorney James Liguori, who is part of Busch's legal team. Busch has to report to the court at 9:00am/et and will be among eleven other hearings at the court on Tuesday, he said. A previously scheduled hearing was postponed earlier this month because Busch was out of the country. "At this point, the evidence, witness statements, etc. are being reviewed on the criminal investigation," [Dover police spokesman Cpl. Mark] Hoffman said in a Monday email. The investigation has been particularly difficult because of the delayed reporting of the incident and the frequent travel related to some of the witnesses, Hoffman said.(Delaware News Journal)(12-16-2014)
    UPDATE: NASCAR driver Kurt Busch's breakup with his ex-girlfriend turned into an ugly court battle Tuesday when she described Busch in testimony as unstable and struggling with alcoholism and depression. His attorneys countered, describing her as untrustworthy and "extremely mercenary." Patricia Driscoll, who is seeking a court order for Busch to stay away from her, told a family court commissioner that he had choked her and smashed her head into a wall inside his motorhome at Dover International Speedway after she drove from her Maryland home to check on him. Busch attorney Rusty Hardin suggested that whatever happened the night of Sept. 26 could have been prevented had Driscoll left when Busch told her to. "I am not to blame for him putting his hands on me," said Driscoll, at times defiant and other times sobbing, prompting Family Court commissioner David Jones to order a recess at one point so she could regain her composure." Defense attorneys have denied the assault allegations, which are the subject of a separate criminal investigation by Dover police. Hardin said Driscoll has not presented any evidence to suggest that Busch has ever physically threatened her. Driscoll said Busch's representatives have repeatedly tried to contact people close to her, and that she fears for her safety. "I don't know what he's capable of doing," she said. Driscoll, 36, was the only witness to testify during Tuesday's six-hour hearing. Lawyers for Driscoll and Busch declined to comment after Tuesday's session as a stern-faced Busch left the courthouse. The hearing is set to continue Wednesday. See more details from the Associated Press.(12-17-2014)
    UPDATE 2: NASCAR driver Kurt Busch took the stand during the second day of a protection order hearing in Kent County (Del.) Family Court on Wednesday, calling his ex-girlfriend's allegations that he smashed her head into a wall a "fabrication." The testimony came as a family court commissioner prepared to decide on a protection order filed by Patricia Driscoll last month. There was no decision Wednesday and the hearing will resume Jan. 12, when Busch's lawyer Rusty Hardin will cross-examine him. Busch, the 2004 Sprint Cup champion who has shown flashes of his temper on and off the track earning him the nickname ''The Outlaw," kept a cool head as he staunchly denied Driscoll's version of the story during an hour of direct questioning by her lawyer, Carolyn McNeice. Busch also testified he ended their four-year relationship following a race in New Hampshire, a week before the race at Dover International Speedway, where the alleged altercation occurred Sept. 26. He said the two of them had a discussion en route to Logan International Airport in Boston and in the process he had damaged a rental car. She left him stranded at the airport, he added. The two had no contact in the week leading up to the Dover race, but Driscoll said she did reach out to Busch's mother and was concerned about his alcoholism and depression. Busch said he did not drink the night of the alleged assault and has avoided alcohol during race weekends for 15 years. That night in Dover, Busch said he had been sleeping when Driscoll arrived unannounced at his motorhome with her nine-year-old son. He says he told her repeatedly to leave, but she kept bringing her son in from another room, saying that Busch needed to tell the boy that the relationship was over. Busch said he was naked during the entire encounter, and finally put his hands on either side of Driscoll's face. "I took my hands and cupped her cheeks. I looked her eye-to-eye. I said, 'You have to leave'. I was diffusing the situation," he told the courtroom. "It needs to be described because of the fabrication we listened to yesterday," he later said of the details he shared in court after holding up his hands, showing how he held Driscoll's face. Michael Doncheff, Busch's motorhome driver and personal assistant to the couple, testified Wednesday that Driscoll had instructed him at the beginning of the year to not bring any alcohol on the bus because Busch had a problem. He was the first witness called by Busch's attorneys. Doncheff said he believed Driscoll when she said Busch had assaulted her, but added she had also told him several stories that he thought were exaggerated. He said Busch treated him well but had a temper at times. Busch often deferred decisions to Driscoll, who Doncheff said could be "high maintenance." Doncheff said on the night of the motorhome encounter, Driscoll sent him a screenshot from her earlier text conversation with Busch. He said he thought it might be a good idea for Driscoll to drive to Dover.(Wilmington News Journal)(12-18-2014)

  • Marketing pros look at process for replacing Sprint: Don't worry, NASCAR fans, about Sprint leaving as the sponsor of the stockcar racing's premier series. At least not yet. Those in the marketing world think NASCAR will find a sponsor to replace the telecom company when it exits after the 2016 season. It remains to be seen whether NASCAR can attract a company to spend an estimated $70 million-$75 million annually as it did when it first signed Nextel back in 2003 to start in 2004. But the quick service restaurant industry (Subway, Burger King, etc.), packaged goods (Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Unilever, etc.), consumer products (Panasonic, LG, etc.) or companies looking to boost their product line (as was Nextel) will be prime candidates for NASCAR's next deal. There also could be interest from new or quickly developing industries, such as the energy sector. These types of sponsorship deals typically take three to six months to complete, and NASCAR likely needs to have a good idea of who will sponsor the series by next July, [Just Marketing International CEO Zak] Brown said. That would be a little late to Humpy Wheeler, the former president of Charlotte Motor Speedway and parent company Speedway Motorsports Inc. He'd like to see a sponsor in place by this time next year, and he's optimistic that NASCAR will land one. NASCAR's most recent deals for its top two series were for seven and 10 years, so it likely will want this one will to have a similar term. But with things changing so quickly in so many industries, a potential sponsor's executive might prefer a shorter term considering the price.(Sporting News)(12-18-2014)

  • Motorsports facilities get tax break: Track operators got the tax break they've been waiting for all year when the U.S. Senate on Tuesday passed a tax extenders package for the remainder of 2014. Included in the extensive list of tax breaks to be continued was a provision that allows motorsports facilities to depreciate new construction over seven years instead of the life of the project, which typically is 25 years or more. The congressional Joint Committee on Taxation estimates the provision will result in an $11 million tax break for motorsports facilities in 2015, a total $32 million from 2015 to 2019 and $33 million from 2015 to 2024. It was part of an estimated $41.6 billion in tax breaks over the next 10 years that were approved by the House of Representatives 378-46 earlier this month and then by the Senate 76-16 (60 votes need for passage) on Tuesday. All that awaits now is the expected signature of President Barack Obama. The provision is similar to those granted to amusement parks, and track operators felt that the same break should apply to their facilities. After arguing the issue with the Internal Revenue Service, the issue became moot when Congress, as part of the Jobs Creation Act of 2004, granted the seven-year depreciation provision for new motorsports construction. The provision covers all motorsports facilities, not just NASCAR facilities.(Sporting News)(12-18-2014)

  • Michigan Heritage trophy presented to Chevy Racing: The Michigan Heritage trophy is a recognition and celebration of the automobile and its importance to the race track and manufacturers competing in NASCAR. The trophy is presented to the winning manufacturer in each NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Michigan International Speedway. MIS President Roger Curtis officially presented the Michigan Heritage to Jim Campbell, Chevrolet's U.S. Vice President of Performance Vehicles and Motorsports, for its two wins at NASCAR's fastest track in 2014. The handover took place Tuesday at the GM Heritage Center in Sterling Heights with several Chevrolet drivers looking on, including Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt Jr. As part of the Michigan Heritage presentation, each contending manufacturer as well as MIS, committed $10,000 to be given to a youth-focused and science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM)-related charity in Michigan. Chevy, who won both NASCAR Sprint Cup events at MIS this summer, chose the Michigan Science Center (MiSci) as this year's recipient. Chevy Racing will keep the trophy until the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series return to the Irish Hills for the Quicken Loans 400 on June 14, 2015.(MIS)(12-18-2014)

  • Darlington to celebrate past, present and future in 2015: With Darlington Raceway entering its 66th consecutive year hosting NASCAR's top-tier touring series, the track will commemorate its return to Labor Day weekend in 2015 by honoring its storied past while celebrating the future. With the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Bojangles' Southern 500 returning to its celebrated Labor Day weekend date, the Lady in Black will recognize past champions of the 1970's as part of its 2015 campaign. A number of exciting announcements are planned over the next several months in regards to the campaign, which will focus on years 1970-74. NASCAR Hall of Famers Leonard Wood, Cale Yarborough and Wendell Scott, among others, will be celebrated during the event weekend. All of these drivers played an integral role in building the foundation, which has made Darlington Raceway special to both drivers and fans alike for over six decades. The honoring of champions from the early 1970's is just one part of the track's overall strategy to celebrate its rich history. Each year, Darlington Raceway will focus on specific eras, plus the historic moments and drivers that made impacts at the track Too Tough to Tame. Additionally, the track will link the generations by celebrating current and future stars of NASCAR, including Kevin Harvick, Chase Elliott, Ryan Blaney, and Darrell Wallace Jr. The 2015 season will see the return of Darlington, S.C. native Kaitlyn Bailey as the track's "Lady in Black." Bailey will enter her second year in the position and will don a new 70's retro-style firesuit. In her role, Bailey serves as the face of Darlington Raceway. She has made a positive impact in the track's efforts to focus on the fans and serve as an ambassador in the community. Her friendly and engaging personality has made her a fan favorite.(Darlington Raceway)(12-18-2014)


  • 2015 Sprint Unlimited Field to feature Chase drivers, Daytona 500 pole winners UPDATE: Coming off an exciting 2014 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup finale, NASCAR announced all 16 Chase drivers will be eligible to compete in the 2015 Sprint Unlimited at Daytona International Speedway. The 75-lap, non-points race will once again kick off the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series racing season Saturday, Feb. 14 (FOX, MRN Radio, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) and will feature an expanded field of drivers based on new eligibility requirements. A minimum of 25 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers are eligible to participate in the Sprint Unlimited at DIS. In addition to the 2014 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup participants, the field also will include 2014 Coors Light Pole Award winners, as well as former Sprint Unlimited race winners and Daytona 500 pole winners who competed in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series full time in 2014. Any remaining spots will be filled by drivers highest in 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver championship points who are not already eligible. The 2015 eligible participants include:
    " #18-Kyle Busch (2014 pole winner)
    " #3-Austin Dillon (2014 pole winner)
    " #24-Jeff Gordon (2014 pole winner)
    " #38-David Gilliland (2014 pole winner)
    " #11-Denny Hamlin (2014 pole winner)
    " #4-Kevin Harvick (2014 pole winner)
    " #48-Jimmie Johnson (2014 pole winner)
    " #20-Matt Kenseth (2014 pole winner)
    " #2-Brad Keselowski (2014 pole winner)
    " #42-Kyle Larson (2014 pole winner)
    " #22-Joey Logano (2014 pole winner)
    " #1-Jamie McMurray (2014 pole winner)
    " #33-Brian Scott (2014 pole winner)
    " #14-Tony Stewart (2014 pole winner)
    " #55-Brian Vickers* (2014 pole winner)
    " #41-Kurt Busch (former Unlimited winner)
    " #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr. (former Unlimited winner)
    " #19-Carl Edwards (former D500 pole winner)
    " #10-Danica Patrick (former D500 pole winner)
    " #16-Greg Biffle (former D500 pole winner)
    " #78-Martin Truex Jr. (former D500 pole winner)
    " #31-Ryan Newman (2014 Chase driver)
    " #47-AJ Allmendinger (2014 Chase driver)
    " #5-Kasey Kahne (2014 Chase driver)
    " #43-Aric Almirola (2014 Chase driver)
    (* - Michael Waltrip Racing today announced that Brian Vickers will not be available to race during the early part of the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup season due to health issues.) (NASCAR),for more information, check out Jayski's Sprint Unlimited Race page.(12-15-2014)
    UPDATE: If the race expands to 25 to meet the minimum because of Vickers missing the race, his teammate #15-Clint Bowyer would get in. Bowyer is neither a former race winner of the Unlimited or Daytona 500 pole winner and was 19th in the 2014 points standings. Drivers 1-18 all are eligible for the race.(Yahoo Sports)(12-17-2014)

  • Workers getting Daytona grandstands ready for 2015: The $400 million Daytona Rising project has a timeline that suggests marathon, but the primary contractor is in an all-out sprint to complete a section of the grandstands before Speedweeks 2015. A growing work force at Daytona International Speedway is putting the finishing touches on the western-most area of the new grandstands near Turn 1, an area that could hold up to 40,000 race fans for events in January and February. On Wednesday, 1,002 workers - the highest head count since the project started 16 months ago - were at the Speedway. Not only do the grandstand seats need to be installed, but the concourse areas and fan amenities behind those seats need to be 100 percent operational for the 53rd Rolex 24 At Daytona sports-car race, scheduled for Jan. 24-25. The stock-car portion of Speedweeks is scheduled to get underway Feb. 14 with The Sprint Unlimited and wrap up on Feb. 22 with the 57th running of the Daytona 500.(Daytona Beach News-Journal)(12-17-2014)


  • Sprint will not return as Series sponsor: Citing a need to focus more directly on its core business priorities, Sprint announced it has informed NASCAR it will not extend the title sponsorship of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series after the current agreement expires at the end of the 2016 season. "We are proud of our association with NASCAR's top series but have made the decision not to extend our sponsorship beyond the next two years," said Steve Gaffney, vice president-Marketing, Sprint. "As we look to the future, Sprint is focused on investing in maintaining a competitive edge and providing consumers with the best value in wireless.Sprint has long benefitted from the unprecedented level of brand integration available in NASCAR, and the passionate fan base that is the most loyal in sports. Without question, the NASCAR sponsorship property has been a valuable investment for us and will be for our successor."
    Since the partnership began in 2004, Sprint has worked closely with NASCAR to bring many fan-friendly innovations to life, including the introduction of the FanView next generation scanner (2005), the creation of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Mobile wireless application (2008) and the debut of Miss Sprint Cup (2007), an ambassador program that now has more than 1.5 million social media followers. The constant evolution of the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race pre-race show and the improvements to the Sprint Vision trackside programming also highlight Sprint's portfolio of fan enhancements.
    "We genuinely appreciate the fans, teams, drivers, tracks and media who have been so supportive and welcoming to us during these many race seasons," said Gaffney. "We look forward to our remaining time as sponsor of the Sprint Cup Series and eventually assisting with the transition to NASCAR's next title partner."
    The sponsorship extends back to 2004 when Nextel signed a 10-year partnership with NASCAR for the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series. The name changed to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in 2008 as a result of the Nextel/Sprint corporate merger. At the conclusion of the first 10 years, Sprint extended the partnership an additional three years taking the contract through the end of the 2016 season(Sprint)
    NASCAR Statement: "NASCAR and Sprint have enjoyed a long and productive partnership that has returned significant value to both parties. We understand significant changes within Sprint and the highly competitive business environment it is in has led to a decision not to extend its Cup Series entitlement position following the 2016 season. The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series is a very unique, premium sports marketing platform with strong momentum, so we are very confident of moving forward in 2017 with an outstanding new partner. In the meantime, we look forward to Sprint's partnership on the best racing series in the world for the next two seasons."(12-16-2014)

  • Rutledge Wood joins NBC Sports: NBC Sports Group added reporter Rutledge Wood to its multiplatform coverage of NASCAR, Formula 1, IndyCar, Global Rallycross and Mecum Auctions. Among his contributions, Wood will present features on the storied raceways, unique towns and enthusiastic fans that make NASCAR an American treasure. The announcement was made by Jeff Behnke, Vice President of NASCAR Production for NBC Sports and NBCSN. "Rutledge brings a unique combination of knowledge and enthusiasm to his work that will help us shine a spotlight on the tracks and communities we visit throughout the year, and bring them to life," said Behnke. Wood's first experience in NASCAR came during his first job in entertainment: traveling with the NASCAR circuit for Country Music Television's mobile marketing activation. Soon after, he was hired by SPEED, where he has worked continuously for the past 10 seasons covering NASCAR. Wood most recently was a correspondent for NASCAR Sprint Cup Series pre-race show, NASCAR RaceDay, on Fox Sports 1, and has also hosted or co-hosted several NASCAR events, including the annual NASCAR Awards Banquet. In addition, Wood has been the co-host of Top Gear on the History Channel, the American iteration of the BBC program of the same name, for the past four seasons.(NBC Sports)(12-16-2014)

  • Kerr joins Richard Petty Motorsports Xfinity team: Frank Kerr has joined Richard Petty Motorsports. The veteran crew chief will lead the #43 Ford team and Dakoda Armstrong in the NASCAR XFINITY Series. Kerr, a former Sprint Car champion who started racing quarter midgets at six and retired from competition in 2000 at the age of 39, starts his new position on Monday. Kerr most recently worked at Front Row Motorsports as the crew chief for #38-David Gilliland. He parted ways with the team after Kansas in October during his second season with the #38 Bob Jenkins-owned team. Kerr enjoyed his greatest success with Marcus Ambrose in both the Cup and Nationwide Series. Together, Kerr led Ambrose six top fives and 12 top 10s in Cup and two NNS victories with JTG/Daugherty Racing.(Motorsport)(12-16-2014)

  • Johnson helps Carolina Panthers 'Keep Pounding': Keep pounding. It's the motto of the Carolina Panthers, and it's what six-time NASCAR Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson did beore Sunday's game at Bank of America Stadium. Johnson was given the honor of striking the Keep Pounding drum to kick off Sunday's contest. It's a tradition before Panthers games that has been taken up by current and former players, Make a Wish kids, military personnel, Olympic athletes and now Johnson. Johnson's daughter, Evie, even got a chance to hit the drum after posing for a photo with the Panthers cheerleaders, the TopCats.(Hendrick Motorsports)(12-16-2014)

  • Brannock promoted To Vice President At Martinsville: Martinsville Speedway President Clay Campbell announced that Matthew Brannock has been promoted to Vice President, Operations. It was one of two promotions and a new hire announced by Campbell. Ashley Oakes has been promoted to Marketing Coordinator while Heather Motley has been hired as a ticket agent. Brannock, a Ridgeway native, joined the speedway as Director of Operations in 2011 after a 12-year career with the Virginia State Police. Brannock is a member of the 2014 NASCAR Services Event Standards Development Committee; a member of the ISC Severe Weather Preparedness Committee; and presently chairs the Martinsville Speedway Event Traffic Management Committee in association with representatives from Virginia State Police, Virginia Department of Transportation and the Henry County Sheriff's Office. Brannock, a 1993 graduate of Magna Vista High School in Ridgeway, is married and has two children.(Martinsville Speedway)(12-16-2014)

  • Brennan promoted to Vice President at Sonoma: Diana Brennan, who has been a member of the Sonoma Raceway Media Relations department since 1999, has been promoted to Vice President of Media & Community Relations. In her new position, Brennan will continue her management role in the department, overseeing all media events and communications, as well as the facility's community initiatives and the Sonoma chapter of Speedway Children's Charities. Brennan, 35, has worked full-time in the media relations department at Sonoma Raceway since 2001, most recently as Senior Director of Media and Community Relations. Brennan was first hired as an intern in 1999. During her tenure, Brennan has played an integral role in elevating Sonoma Raceway's visibility at both the local and national levels. She has developed new and creative media initiatives, as well as some of the raceway's most successful community events. Brennan graduated from the University of the Pacific in 2001 with a degree in Communication. She is a native of San Ramon in the East Bay and currently resides in Benicia.(Sonoma Raceway)(12-16-2014)

  • Vickers to miss start of season: Michael Waltrip Racing driver Brian Vickers will not be available to race during the early part of the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup season due to health issues. In 58 races driving MWR's #55 Aaron's Toyota, Vickers scored eight top-five and 19 top-10 finishes. He won the July race at New Hampshire in 2013 and captured the pole at Talladega in October 2014. The 2003 Nationwide champion owns three victories and 12 poles in 316 career Sprint Cup starts. "Brian has been a part of the MWR family since 2012 and our thoughts today are with Brian, his wife Sarah and the Vickers family," said MWR co-owner Rob Kauffman. "As a race team, MWR has plenty to consider and we will confer with our partners, including Aaron's and Toyota. As this is fresh news, we will adjust our future plans as more information becomes available."
    VICKERS STATEMENT: "First, I want to thank everyone for their sincere support. I have faced obstacles before and it has made victory that much sweeter and I know that will be the case again. My previous experiences have given me a very keen understanding of my body. Late last week I knew something wasn't right, so I went to the hospital to be checked out. Following several tests, it was discovered that my body was rejecting an artificial patch that was inserted in 2010 to fix a hole in my heart. Saturday, I had to have corrective surgery to repair the hole and now I am beginning the recovery process. I will need plenty of time, rest and rehab but this temporary setback will not stop me from pursuing my dream of becoming a NASCAR Sprint Cup champion."(MWR)(12-15-2014)

  • Gordon comments about retirement: from a #24-Jeff Gordon Q&A by Ryan McGee on ESPN.com:
    McGee: "This was your best finish in seven years. Under the old Chase system, you'd have finally won a fifth title. But we writers still come at you with retirement questions. So ... retirement?"
    Gordon: "I don't believe in retirement, No. 1, but I know that I won't always be a full-time Cup driver. That time is coming. Remember in May, my back got so bad I couldn't get out of bed, let alone into a race car? So will that play a role in retirement sooner rather than later? It's very possible. It seems to be the one limiting factor that I have right now. But there's no plan. There's no countdown. I'm racing."(see full Q&A at ESPN.com)(12-15-2014)

  • Congress cuts National Guard sponsorship funds: Congress has stripped funding for the Army National Guard's sponsorship of motor sports following revelations that advertising on race cars did little to generate recruits. Lawmakers cut the Guard's advertising budget by $13.8 million, the same amount the service had requested to sponsor race cars, said Maj. Earl Brown, a Guard spokesman. In August, the Guard announced that it was ending its sponsorships of Dale Earnhardt Jr. of NASCAR and Graham Rahal in the Indy Racing League. In 2014, the Guard spent $105 million on advertising aimed at attracting recruits and enhancing its image. That included sponsorships for NASCAR that cost $32 million and $12 million on IndyCar. The Guard has said it sponsorship of NASCAR was aimed at building "brand awareness" for the service.(USA Today)(12-15-2014)

  • Stewart ok with Busch running the Double again: If Kurt Busch decides to do "The Double" again in 2015, he has the blessing of teammate and Stewart-Haas Racing team co-owner Tony Stewart. Busch, who became the first driver to attempt The Double in a decade this past May, is reportedly mulling over an encore performance for next Memorial Day weekend where he'd again race in the Indianapolis 500 in the early afternoon, hop a plane to Charlotte and then race in that evening's Coca-Cola 600 for an encore. If Busch wants to do it, he's got Stewart's vote. Of course, Stewart is a bit biased - he tried The Double twice in his career, the last time being in 2001, when he finished sixth in the Indianapolis 500 and third in the Coca-Cola 600 later that evening. "I'm 100 percent supportive if he wants to do that again," Stewart said.(NBC Sports)(12-15-2014)

  • Folds Of Honor and QuikTrip named Atlanta race sponsor: QuikTrip, along with the nonprofit organization Folds of Honor, have been named the title sponsors of the March 1, 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Atlanta Motor Speedway. The event will be named the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500. "I have had a love for speed my entire life. To combine the speed of NASCAR with the powerful, life-changing force of Folds of Honor is simply beyond my wildest dreams," said Major Dan Rooney, founder of Folds of Honor. "Thank you to QuikTrip for being a long-term partner to Folds of Honor and for fueling the future of our military families." Based in Owasso, Oklahoma, Folds of Honor is a 501(C)(3) nonprofit organization founded in 2007 that provides educational scholarships and assistance to families of military men and women who have been killed or disabled while serving our country. Assistance helps support private education tuition and tutoring for children in grades K-12, as well as higher educational tuition assistance for spouses and children. Since its founding in 2007, the organization is proud to have awarded over 7,500 scholarships, including more than 2,000 in 2014. The Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 will cap three days of thrilling racing action on Sunday, March 1. The weekend begins Friday, Feb. 27 with Sprint Cup Series qualifying. A rare doubleheader on Saturday, Feb. 28 will feature back-to-back Camping World Truck Series and Xfinity Series races. The Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 is the second race of the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season and will provide drivers an early-season opportunity to secure a win and qualify for the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.(AMS)(12-15-2014)

  • Dave Allen named president of Auto Club Speedway: International Speedway Corporation announced it has named Dave Allen President of Auto Club Speedway effective immediately. Allen accepts the role from his most recent position as Vice President of Sales and Marketing for ACS. Allen replaces Gillian Zucker who was recently named President of Business Operations for the NBA's Los Angeles Clippers. Allen, 41, a 17-year veteran in the sports marketing industry, will report to ISC President, John R. Saunders and will be responsible for all operations of Auto Club Speedway and Auto Club Dragway. Allen joined Penske Motorsports at previously-named California Speedway in April of 1999 after spending one year at Mazda Raceway at Laguna Seca. From 2002-2006, Allen served as Senior Director of Sales and Marketing. He was named Vice President of Sales and Marketing in 2006 with oversight of all sponsorship, hospitality, suite and consumer sales. In 2008 Allen, along with former track president Gillian Zucker, completed the Speedway's groundbreaking naming rights partnership with Auto Club of Southern California. Allen, his wife and three children reside in Upland, CA.(ACS)(12-15-2014)

  • 12 Days of Christmas Contest at Bristol: Race fans are foregoing three French hens and four calling birds for infield access and Battle at Bristol tickets as Bristol Motor Speedway brings back its popular "12 Days of Christmas" promotion. Offering the opportunity to win enhanced at-track experiences including tower access during Bristol Dragway's Thunder Valley Nationals event and access to the Ole Smoky Roof At Turn 4 during the April Food City 500, this year's prize list promises to brighten the holiday of any racing enthusiast. The complete list of 2014 prizes is:
    December 14 - April NASCAR Race Weekend Tickets (2)
    December 15 - NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals 3-Day Passes (2)
    December 16 - Ole Smoky Roof At Turn 4 for the Food City 500 (2)
    December 17 - Edge Deck Access for the IRWIN Tools Night Race (2)
    December 18 - Food City 500 Cold Passes (2)
    December 19 - Battle At Bristol Football Tickets (2)
    December 20 - IRWIN Tools Night Race Cold Passes (2)
    December 21 - Food City 500 Pre-Race SuperPasses (2)
    December 22 - August NASCAR Race Week Hot Passes (2)
    December 23 - August NASCAR Race Weekend Tickets (2)
    December 24 - Tower Roof Access at NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals
    December 25 - April NASCAR Race Weekend Hot Passes (2)
    Fans may submit one entry per day at BristolMotorSpeedway.com/12Days. Daily winners are announced on the track's website and social media accounts.(BMS)(12-15-2014)

  • Logano getting married in the off season UPDATE: Next week, #22-Joey Logano and fiancée Brittany Baca will be married in North Carolina, with a trip to Costa Rica on tap for the honeymoon. "We're going to have some fun, but it's only going to be for about a week because I can't handle any longer than that," Logano, 24, said Thursday following the annual Myers Brothers Award luncheon. "She's like, 'Let's go for two weeks.' I said, 'How about five days?' So we kind of met in the middle -- a week. I can't sit still; I've got to go all the time. We'll enjoy it, it's going to be a lot of fun. I'm looking forward to the wedding -- we've got a lot of people going, a lot of people you haven't seen in a while, a lot of people from the race team." The plan, he said, is to "party our butts off." The wedding date is scheduled for Dec. 13, and was decided by Baca for a specific reason. Earlier this year, she told AL.com that the use of sequential numbers, 12/13/14, would make it easy for Logano to recall. "He has a busy enough life," she said. "I don't want to give him anything else to remember."(NASCAR.com)(12-8-2014)
    UPDATE: Congrats to Joey Logano on Brittany Baca on their wedding Saturday night. Several pictures are posted on Joey's Twitter feed.(12-14-2014)

  • Busch fails to advance at Race of Champions: Nine-time 24 Hours of Le Mans winner Tom Kristensen and new FIA World Rallycross Champion Petter Solberg captured the Race of Champions Nations Cup on the first day of ROC action from Bushy Park Circuit in Barbados. Kristensen and Solberg, paired together as Team Nordic, defeated the Team Scotland group of former F1 pilot David Coulthard and current F1 reserve driver Susie Wolff, 2-1, in the final. The home team, Team Barbados, also had a strong Saturday as drivers Dane Skeete and Rhett Watson advanced out of the group stage and then pushed Team Scotland to a third race in the semifinals. Additionally, the local boys won the ROC Caribbean tournament over driving teams from Jamaica, Guyana, and Trinidad & Tobago. The U.S. was represented by Indy 500 champ Ryan Hunter-Reay and former NASCAR Sprint Cup champ Kurt Busch (Team USA) as well as jack of all trades Robby Gordon, who was paired with FIA World Touring Car champ Jose Maria Lopez of Argentina as Team Americas. Unfortunately for the star-spangled trio, neither of their teams managed to escape the aforementioned group stage. Hunter-Reay and Busch combined for three wins in Group B (two from RHR, one from Busch) to put them level with Team Barbados behind Team Scotland's five wins. But the Barbadians grabbed the last advance spot over Team USA on fastest lap time.(NBC Sports)(12-14-2014)

  • Additional changes to pit rules: There was a meeting this week between NASCAR and the sport's various pit crew coaches regarding the new pit road rules for 2015. The main story line we've seen emphasized this week is the fact that NASCAR is no longer going to enforce a lug nut rule. But that isn't the only thing to come out of that meeting. There are other new rules and ways of enforcement that could have much more drastic impacts on races.
    The big move for next season is the removal of more officials from pit road. Starting at Daytona, a new video system will monitor pit road, and penalties will be called from a central video-review location. That means far fewer "judgement" calls by officials. Cut and dry video evidence will rule. And the one area that nobody in the media has mentioned that will be affected the most is crews jumping from the wall early. The rule for when crews can leave the wall goes like this: teams are allowed to be on the ground in their pit stall as soon as their car crosses the back line of the stall directly behind their own. You didn't see this rule enforced all that often, because it had to be fairly blatant for an official to even notice it. Now, if a crew member is down even a split second early, the penalty will be called. Supposedly once NASCAR started testing this video system late in 2014, they were hundreds of "jumping early" penalties flagged by the system. What this means, is that you could potentially see a lot of these penalties called early in the season until pit crews figure out what they can and can't get away with. All coaches are emphasizing this point to their teams this offseason, but it will be an issue in 2015.
    Another rule that will be more actively enforced with this video system is the drivers rolling through too many pit boxes before their own on entry. Drivers are only allowed to drive through three (I think) pit boxes before they enter their own. This was also a judgement call in the past, but this new video system will catch more of these in the future.
    Other smaller points of emphasis for NASCAR included the elimination of helping your neighbor on pit road gather up his tires by being over the wall. You would often see a member of another pit crew over the wall helping a team corral it's tires. Now, if a crewman wants to help, they have to stay behind the wall. NASCAR is also going to pay closer attention to tire control by the pit crews. If tires aren't in control of a crewman at least half way back to the wall, NASCAR will call a penalty. This rule isn't new, but will be more actively enforced.(NASCAR Insiders)(12-14-2014)

  • Gase meets with organ donor recipient: An emotional meeting Friday in Waterloo as a liver transplant recipient met the organ donor's family for the very first time. The Iowa Donor Network estimates about half of organ donation recipients meet the family of the donor. Maggie Schmeiser met her donor's family so she could thank them. She received a liver transplant in April 2011. 3-and-a-half years later, she finally met the family of the woman who gave her the gift of life. "I wanted to connect with them and tell them how grateful I was and will always be so I couldn't wait to meet em," said Schmeiser. So she met with Joey Gase and his sister. Their mother died of a brain aneurysm. "It's cool to be able to see your mom live on through them and especially see how thankful they are for your mom's gift," said Gase. Gase also brought one of his race cars. He stars in the Nationwide series [in the #52 for Jimmy Means], while driving in some Sprint Cup races [in the #32 for GoGreen Racing]. While trying to win races, he's also using his high-profile to draw attention to organ donation. After his mom died, he made the decision for the donation. "I want people to make that decision before that time comes, as a family, and have people discuss that in their family and even if it's a "no", at least that way you know what your loved one wants," said Gase. "The issue of organ donation is so important to Gase and his family, he's put his mother's picture on the front of his race car and he's also made dozens of appearances all over the country for organ donation. To have somebody like Joey, who's doing more for organ donation than perhaps anyone, he travels to 33 Nationwide races, 4 Sprint Cup events, everywhere he goes he tells his story, he talks to other families, gets people to register as donors, he's saving lives," said Tony Hakes, public outreach manager of the Iowa Donor network. The Gase family has already met another recipient of Mary Jo Gase's organs. Jordan Shaw received one of Gase's kidneys. The family met with Shaw at a Nationwide race in Newton in 2012(KWWL)(12-14-2014)

  • Todd Parrott hired by Richard Childress Racing: Richard Childress Racing has hired industry veteran and championship-winning crew chief Todd Parrott as its Competition Director for the NASCAR XFINITY Series, effective immediately. Parrott brings a wealth of experience to RCR with 20 years as a crew chief in NASCAR Sprint Cup Series competition. During that time, he won 31 races while earning 144 top-five and 230 top-10 finishes. Through a span of 606 starts, he also led teams to 23 pole awards and finished in the top-five driver points standings six times. His best season was in 1999 when he led Dale Jarrett to the Sprint Cup championship. Parrott, 50, is a native of Charlotte, N.C. and followed in the footsteps of his father, Buddy Parrott, who won 49 races in 511 Sprint Cup Series starts during a 22-year career. The second-generation crew chief will report to Dr. Eric Warren, Director of Competition for RCR.(RCR), In 2014, Parrott was the crew chief for Reed Sorenson in Tommy Baldwin Racing's Sprint Cup Series #36 Chevy.(12-13-2014)

  • Allgiaer will return to #51 team: Harry Scott has moved on from his partnership with Steve Turner. Scott announced on Thursday the formation of two new entities: HScott Motorsports with Chip Ganassi and HScott Motorsports with Justin Marks. Scott will continue his Sprint Cup operation with Justin Allgaier behind the wheel. Scott's alliance with Ganassi will provide a home for his former #42 team Nationwide effort. However, the 2015 Xfinity Series team will now feature a combined effort for Kyle Larson and Dylan Kwasniewski and be based out of Ganiassi's Sprint Cup shop in Concord, N.C. In the NASCAR K&N Pro Series, Scott and Marks will provide a platform for four teams next season featuring Scott Heckert and rookie candidates William Byron, J.J. Haley and Dalton Sargeant.(Motorsport)(12-13-2014)

  • Lawsuit against Bowyer dismissed: South Dakota courts have no jurisdiction over a lawsuit between Kustom Cycles and NASCAR driver Clint Bowyer, according to the South Dakota Supreme Court's reversal of a circuit court ruling. The underlying lawsuit involves a motorcycle Kustom Cycles built for Bowyer who, in addition to racing in NASCAR's Sprint Cup Series, is also a motorcycle enthusiast. According to the Supreme Court brief, Bowyer first met Brian Klock, owner of South Dakota-based Kustom Cycles - which does business as Klock Werks - at a NASCAR race in Florida in 2008, then again in Arizona shortly thereafter. Bowyer hired Klock to design a custom motorcycle that would match his 1949 Mercury. As payment, Bowyer let Klock film the motorcycle driving on the NASCAR track and gave Klock and his friends special access to a Daytona race. Bowyer also attended a four-hour photo shoot and allowed Klock to use his name and likeness for promotional purposes, the opinion said. Eight months after Bowyer received his motorcycle, he received a bill for over $30,000. Bowyer refused to pay, claiming he had already provided "compensation in the form of the promotions, endorsements, and special access to NASCAR events," the opinion stated. Bowyer moved to dismiss the ensuing lawsuit for lack of jurisdiction, which the circuit court denied. On appeal, Bowyer argued that he did not have sufficient contact with South Dakota for its courts to have personal jurisdiction over him. South Dakota's highest court agreed on Wednesday, noting that Bowyer had not engaged in "significant activities" in the state - the contract was negotiated in Florida and Arizona, the motorcycle was purchased in Minnesota and delivered to Bowyer in South Carolina, the justices said.(Courthouse News Service)(12-13-2014)

  • Martinsville begins construction Of new restrooms: Work has begun on the demolition of an existing restroom facility and the construction of a new one in the second-turn area of Martinsville Speedway. This construction marks the replacement of all original fan restrooms at the speedway. The completion date for the project is early March, well before the STP 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup weekend scheduled for March 27-29. The new building, located behind the Clay Earles Tower in turn two, will be approximately 1,500 square feet. It will contain full men's and women's restroom facilities, including baby-changing stations. Both restrooms will be handicap accessible.(Martinsville Speedway)(12-13-2014)

  • Added some new 2015 schemes: #48-Lowe's Chevy of Jimmie Johnson; #16 Cheez-It and CleanHarbors Ford of Greg Biffle and #43 EckRick Ford of Aric Almirola. See the schemes on the #16 Team Schemes page, #43 Team Schemes page and #48 Team Schemes page.(12-12-2014)

  • Stewart to have fifth surgery on leg: #14-Tony Stewart walked into the Performance Racing Industry trade show Thursday at the Indiana Convention Center, which was a big deal given the physical stress his injured right leg has endured over the past 16 months. Stewart recently had the fourth of what will be five planned surgeries last week. "I don't look like I'm walking really good, but I was on crutches two days ago," he said. "It's nice to get off crutches again. I'm looking forward to the day my leg doesn't hurt anymore. I think that's coming sooner rather than later." Stewart said the final surgery will remove the rod in the leg he broke in August 2013 at a dirt track race in southeastern Iowa. He acknowledged that the injuries haven't healed as quickly as doctors wanted to see, which is why the current rod, along with a small ring to help blood flow, was inserted in a prior surgery. Last week's surgery, he said, was small by comparison, and a spokesman for his team described it as routine maintenance. Stewart hasn't driven a sprint car since running into and killing New York racer Kevin Ward Jr. in August, but he said he "thinks about it every day." He again plans to attend next month's Chili Bowl, a prestigious dirt-track midget race in Tulsa, Okla., to help the event promoter with track preparation. Stewart won the event in 2002 and '07.(Indianapolis Star)(12-12-2014)

  • Proposed 2015 NASCAR testing dates for Sprint Cup Series UPDATE: When NASCAR announced in September it was banning all private team testing, the perception was teams would not likely see the opportunity to do much on-track testing. NASCAR at the time said it hoped to incorporate more teams into the 12 to 15 tire tests done each season by Goodyear but that plan seemed to hit logistical roadblocks in recent months. The finished product, outlined in the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Rulebook, actually provides teams many opportunities to test on series tracks in the coming season. At Atlanta, an extra testing day has been added to the regular weekend schedule. In addition, an extra day of open testing as been added to Goodyear tire tests at Charlotte; Richmond; Kentucky; Indianapolis; Dover; Darlington; Chicago Bristol; Homestead; Kansas; Phoenix; and Auto Club Speedway:
    Proposed 2015 NASCAR testing dates for Sprint Cup Series
    Date: Type of test
    Jan. 19: Goodyear tire test, Las Vegas
    Feb. 26: Open team test, Atlanta
    March 2-3: Goodyear tire test, Atlanta
    March 10: Goodyear tire test, Charlotte
    March 11: Open team test, Charlotte
    April 7: Goodyear tire test, Richmond
    April 8: Open team test, Richmond
    April 13-14: Goodyear tire test, Kentucky
    April 15: Open team test, Kentucky
    April 27-28: Goodyear tire test, Indianapolis
    April 29: Open team test, Indianapolis
    May 11-12: Goodyear tire test, Dover
    May 13: Open team test, Dover
    June 9-10: Goodyear tire test, Darlington
    June 11: Open team test, Darlington
    July 13-14: Goodyear tire test, Chicago
    July 15: Open team test, Chicago
    July 28-29: Goodyear tire test, Bristol
    July 30: Open team test, Bristol
    Aug. 24-25: Goodyear tire test, Homestead
    Aug. 26: Open team test, Homestead
    Sept. 14-15: Goodyear tire test, Kansas
    Sept. 16: Open team test, Kansas
    Oct. 12-13: Goodyear tire test, Phoenix
    Oct. 14: Open team test, Phoenix
    Oct. 27-28: Goodyear tire test, Auto Club Speedway
    Oct. 29: Open team test, Auto Club Speedway
    (Charlotte Observer)(12-11-2014)
    UPDATE: While teams will be prohibited from testing independently, there will be 12 Goodyear tire tests (with four teams apiece) that will be followed by a one-day open test that will allow one car per organization. Attendance isn't mandatory, and teams must indicate their attendance at least three weeks ahead. If a multicar organization has participated in the preceding tire test, it must use the same driver and team in the open test. The Goodyear tests will be held with a rotating set of three groups of four full-time teams. The first group comprises Stewart-Haas Racing, JTG Daugherty Racing, Joe Gibbs Racing and Team Penske. The second group: Richard Childress Racing, Chip Ganassi Racing, Roush Fenway Racing and Michael Waltrip Racing. The third group: Hendrick Motorsports, Furniture Row Racing, Richard Petty Motorsports and BK Racing.
    NASCAR also will hold "Rule Change Open Tests" in which all teams are allowed to "familiarize themselves with any rule changes from previous race seasons." The sessions will be limited to one "per racetrack grouping" (i.e. short tracks, road courses, speedways). A four-hour session Feb. 26 at Atlanta Motor Speedway (a 1.5-mile superspeedway) is the only Rule Change Open Test scheduled so far for the 2015 season.
    While any other tests are banned for existing teams, the 2015 rulebook allows "New Organization Testing" for those "new to NASCAR to establish themselves." Those teams will be allowed five two-day tests at any track and must be approved by NASCAR. The rulebook defines a "New Organization" as a team that hasn't competed in more than 20 races or two seasons, whichever is first. Teams absent from a circuit for five years also can qualify for new organization status. The Goodyear tests are closed to the public and the news media. The news media will be allowed at open tests, and the public will be permitted access at each track's discretion.(USA Today)(12-12-2014)

  • Best Selling Diecast of 2014: It's official. Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s Daytona 500 Race Win die-cast isn't just the best-selling car of 2014; it's also the best-selling die-cast in the history of Lionel Racing. Lionel Racing - The Official Die-Cast of NASCAR - unveiled its annual top 10 list today and, as projected, Earnhardt's Daytona win car ruled them all. "When the NASCAR season kicks off with Dale Jr. winning the Daytona 500, it's a safe bet that die-cast sales across the board will skyrocket," said Howard Hitchcock, President of Lionel Racing. "His win really set the tone for our year overall - we have had a very good season." Earnhardt's on-track success this season resulted in the driver also clinching spots two, three, five, six, and 10 - a feat largely driven by his wins at Pocono Raceway and the popular National Guard/Superman special paint scheme. While Earnhardt dominated, other drivers did make some noise. The return of the iconic #3 Chevy to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series helped propel Austin Dillon's Dow Automotive Chevrolet SS to the fourth spot. "The story of the #3 car's return to Cup competition really resonated with both long-time and new NASCAR fans," said Hitchcock. "It's great to see a rising star like Dillon make our top 10 list." Reigning NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Kevin Harvick also made the list, with his #4 Budweiser Chevrolet ranking eighth among the company's best sellers:
    Dale Earnhardt Jr. #88 National Guard/Daytona 500 Win Chevy
    Dale Earnhardt Jr. #88 National Guard Chevy
    Dale Earnhardt Jr. #88 National Guard Hall of Heroes/Superman Chevy
    Austin Dillon #3 Dow Automotive Chevy
    Dale Earnhardt Jr. #88 National Guard/Pocono Win Chevy
    Dale Earnhardt Jr. #88 Michael Baker/Pocono Win Chevy
    Jeff Gordon #24 AARP/Drive to End Hunger Chevy
    Kevin Harvick #4 Budweiser Chevy
    Tony Stewart #14 Bass Pro Shops Chevy
    Dale Earnhardt Jr. #88 Diet Mountain Dew Chevy
    In addition to the top 10 cars of the year, Lionel Racing also announced the best-selling drivers of 2014. While Earnhardt topped the driver list, three of NASCAR's newest stars also made the cut:
    Dale Earnhardt Jr.
    Jeff Gordon
    Kevin Harvick
    Jimmie Johnson
    Austin Dillon
    Chase Elliott
    Tony Stewart
    Kyle Busch
    Brad Keselowski
    Kyle Larson
    "It's exciting to see the rising stars of the sport make such an impact on the core fan," Hitchcock said. "Austin, Chase and Kyle Larson beat out some heavy hitters when it comes to merchandise sales, and that only bodes well for the future of NASCAR."(Lionel Racing)(12-12-2014)

  • Kyle Busch Undergoes Scheduled Offseason Foot Surgery: Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) had successful surgery on his left foot this morning. Busch is expected to make a full recovery in time for the start of the 2015 NASCAR season in February. The scheduled offseason surgery was performed to relieve a recurring source of inflammation in his left foot. The surgery was performed by Dr. Robert Anderson of OrthoCarolina.(JGR)(12-11-2014)

  • NASCAR will let teams regulate lug nuts during pit stops in 2015: One rule that stands out as a game changer will be the fact that NASCAR is letting teams regulate lug nuts during their stops. Basically, NASCAR won't penalize or monitor missed lug nuts or lug nuts that get knocked off during a stop. The new rule...or lack of rule, could be a huge gain for teams that want to gamble. Everyone knows that it doesn't take all 5 nuts tight to keep a tire on. The tricky part is how many nuts does it take? There are stories floating around pit road of teams that have come into victory lane with 1,2 and 3 nuts on a wheel, and everyone is amazed. Every situation is different and every situation could have a different outcome, but hitting only 3 or 4 nuts per side could speed up a stop and if teams are willing to gamble on that then it could pay off. In the past, teams had to make sure all 5 nuts were on the studs and if an official were to see a nut get knocked off they would hold the car until the nut was put back on. Changers were very aware of the rules and hit nuts with a speed they could control. Jack men were also aware of the rule and MOST would wait on the left side for all 5 to get hit. Now, all that changes.
    The risk: there is always risk with reward and there is plenty of risks associated with taking this rule out. The first and most obvious risk is a loose wheel. Most changers are very concerned with the repercussions of a loose wheel and won't risk it for a standard stop. This rule comes into play when teams are at a place that eats tires up and a caution with 10 laps to go comes out and the whole field comes down to pit. This is when teams will gamble and may only hit 3-4 nuts and let it ride. With only a few laps left in the race, why not! That's when this rule will become interesting. It should be mentioned that NASCAR will still penalize a team if a tire comes off the car during a run due to a loose wheel. You don't see that very often but it has and does happen.(Pit Talks)(12-11-2014)

  • Charlotte Test Notes from Charlotte Motor Speedway: The four drivers participating this week in Goodyear's tire test at Charlotte Motor Speedway couldn't be much different. They drive for different teams and different manufacturers. They have different driving styles and different personalities on and off the track. But one thing #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr., #19-Carl Edwards, #9-Sam Hornish and #27-Paul Menard all have in common is a strong desire to get a points race win at NASCAR's home track. With new rules limiting testing opportunities, all four drivers know that every practice lap is a chance to get a leg up on the competition before the 10 Greatest Days in Racing in May. Edwards, who joined Joe Gibbs Racing following the 2014 season, said that while it's hard to get good data for May's NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race and Coca-Cola 600, the test is a good chance for his new team to get some practice under their belts.
    "Conditions are really cool. There's not a lot of rubber on the racetrack. We're basically in the lower downforce 2016 trim," Edwards said of the conditions and setup for this week's test. "The biggest thing this test is helping me out with is to get used to this car, the new seat, (crew chief) Darian (Grubb) and the guys and how they do things here. It's been very good for me from that perspective."
    Earnhardt said the test is a good chance to establish a winning chemistry with his new crew chief, Greg Ives, but also to keep his driving acumen sharp during the off season. "We're definitely going to take advantage of every little bit of track time we can get because the testing rules are a little tighter this year," Earnhardt said. "It's good for me and Greg to get to work together - to get a little rapport going - so when we take off and go to Atlanta, Vegas and Phoenix, we're communicating really well. When I go back to the track for the first time after a long layoff, I feel like I have a little rust to kick off. It's good to get out and exercise your legs a little bit."
    While both Earnhardt (2000) and Edwards (2011) have scored NASCAR Sprint All-Star wins at the legendary 1.5-mile superspeedway, neither has visited Winner's Circle after a points race at Charlotte. In 16 career starts, Menard's best points finish is eighth, while Hornish has a career-best 13th place finish in seven starts.(CMS)(12-11-2014)

  • Atlanta removing 17,000 seats, Charlotte 41,000 UPDATE: Atlanta Motor Speedway's parent company, Speedway Motorsports, Inc., announced Tuesday that they will remove 17,000 seats from the track's grandstands. The company anticipates using those areas for premium hospitality, advertising and other facility purposes. Their sister track, Charlotte Motor Speedway, is losing 41,000 seats.(wgxa.tv), see image of the CMS construction at Slugger Labbe's Twitter.(12-10-2014)
    UPDATE: Alterations announced this week are in line with a trend of tracks removing seats. Charlotte, after removing 41,000 seats this winter, will be down to permanent seating of 89,000 in 2015, a startlingly low capacity considering its location in NASCAR's epicenter. But it's par for the course. Atlanta is removing 17,000 seats to get down to 75,000; Dover is removing 17,500 seats to get down to 95,500; and Daytona is removing its backstretch grandstands of 46,500 next spring to go to 101,500 seats. Other tracks on the circuit have made similar changes.
    At its peak in 2007, International Speedway Corp.'s 12 major tracks had 1.1 million grandstand seats (not including suites). After the Daytona renovation, ISC will be down 30 percent to approximately 761,000 seats.
    In 2013 alone, the following ISC tracks cut seats: Talladega (from 108,000 to 78,000), Richmond (91,000 to 71,000), Chicagoland (69,000 to 55,500), Michigan (84,000 to 71,000), California (81,000 to 68,000), Darlington (60,000 to 58,000) and Homestead (56,000 to 46,000). Any additional cuts likely will be revealed when its annual report comes out in January.
    With the current Charlotte and Atlanta reductions, Speedway Motorsports has cut 101,000 seats (12 percent) across seven of its tracks since 2009, although it added 38,000 at Kentucky when it moved a Cup race to that track. SMI, which includes suites in its capacity estimates, cut capacity in 2013 at Atlanta (from 98,000 to 92,000), Bristol (158,000 to 153,000) and New Hampshire (96,000 to 95,000).
    Dover listed 135,000 seats in 2009, so its reduction in recent years is 29 percent. At one point, it reduced 20,000 seats by replacing the current seats with wider ones for more fan comfort, a move done by many racetracks. Indianapolis and Pocono, privately owned, do not have to report their capacities, but Indianapolis also has removed seats.(see full article at the Sporting News)(12-11-2014)

  • Hornish Encouraged By Charlotte Tire Test: It took a while for #9-Sam Hornish Jr.'s first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series test with Richard Petty Motorsports to get going on Tuesday, but he made the most of it. RPM's newest hire made laps around Charlotte Motor Speedway in the first of two days of Goodyear tire testing at CMS for the 2015 season. Hornish, #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr., #27-Paul Menard and #19-Carl Edwards tested NASCAR's new lower speed, lower downforce chassis. The good news was Hornish liked his car. The bad? He didn't get to drive it enough. "I enjoyed it a lot, but it rained overnight and we didn't get to go out on the track until noon," Hornish told SPEED SPORT. "It cut everything short as far as our day. We didn't get to tune on the car as much as we wanted to, but we got to go through some of the stuff that Goodyear wanted us to do. We've got (Wednesday) and hopefully things will cool off and we'll get a lot of testing in." Hornish's first day of on-track action with the 15 percent horsepower reduction was as productive as it could be, given the delay. His first impressions of driving the #9 car were positive as well. "I'm just excited about getting the opportunity to work with the people at RPM," Hornish said. "It's a new group of people and you need to (use the test to) talk to them and get to know them."(NSSN)(12-11-2014)


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