NASCAR second highest sports trend on Twitter: In 2012, NASCAR partnered with social media juggernaut Twitter, solidifying an upward trend that has seen Twitter explode across the NASCAR scene over the past two seasons. That partnership has led to the hashtag #NASCAR rating as the number two highest trending sports topics of 2012. 2011 saw the Twitter trend build momentum as motorsports journalists industry wide begin utilizing the service at the forefront of their media platforms. Before Twitter, the primary ways of electronic distribution for online media outlets was Really Simple Syndication, RSS, and email. Jeff Gluck, Bob Pockrass, Jenna Fryer, Jim Utter, and Dustin Long have become household names with the NASCAR fan base. They have an intimate relationship with fans, providing not only links and stats, but also a bit of personal perspective, even partaking in regular meet and greets, called Tweet Ups. While the sport's journalists lit the fuse of the NASCAR Twitter explosion, it was driver #2-Brad Keseloweksi that acted as the bomb. Halfway through the season, NASCAR announced a partnership with Twitter that but added focus on the hashtag #NASCAR, featuring a special landing page for search results from the query #NASCAR as well as serving as the landing page for twitter.com/nascar.(Speedzine.com) #nfl was the top hashtag in 2012.(12-18-2012)
NASCAR's Next Wave Of Superstars Just Over The Horizon: NASCAR has a talent-laden farm system loaded with the stock car racing's future stars.
From the NASCAR Nationwide and NASCAR Craftsman Truck series through the sanctioning body's touring divisions and on the Whelen All-American tracks, there's a single common denominator: Youth, lightning fast youth. The pipeline leading to the ultimate destination - the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series - figures to overflow for years to come. And from the looks of 2012, current NASCAR Sprint Cup competitors had best be ready to defend their turf and their jobs.
Dillon Brothers Lead The Charge - Again
Austin Dillon made history in 2011, becoming the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series' youngest champion at age 22. That goal accomplished, his owner and grandfather, Richard Childress gave Dillon an even greater challenge, a full-time opportunity in the NASCAR Nationwide Series, where he thrived in his #3 Chevrolet. The young competitor won twice at Kentucky Speedway, never left the top four in points and claimed Sunoco Rookie of the Year honors.
There's another Dillon on the horizon - Ty Dillon - and the 20-year-old is coming up fast in his older sibling's mirror. Like Austin, Ty won NASCAR Camping World Truck Series rookie honors in his first full season. He also scored a victory, at Atlanta Motor Speedway, led the championship standings with his #3 Chevrolet and was on the threshold of a title as late as the waning laps at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Buescher Triumphs, Piquet's Stock Car Fortunes Rise
A first NASCAR national series victory - not with his #31 Turner Motorsports Chevrolet but in the 2012 NASCAR Nationwide Series opener at Daytona International Speedway - propelled James Buescher on a championship course. The 22-year-old Texan did win in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, four times in fact, twice in Kentucky and at Kansas and Chicagoland. Piquet, the one-time Formula 1 driver from Brazil, became a NASCAR star in a break-out year. Like Turner teammate Buescher, Piquet won in two series - NASCAR Camping World Truck and NASCAR Nationwide Series, his latter victory scored at the fabled Road America road course in Elkhart Lake, Wis. Piquet, 27, won at Michigan and Las Vegas en route to a seventh-place championship performance. He also led the series with four Keystone Light poles.
Patrick Proves Ready For Prime Time
Danica Patrick became NASCAR's highest finishing female competitor in 2011 with a fourth-place finish at Las Vegas. She set another record for her gender as a fulltime NASCAR Nationwide Series competitor in the #7 JR Motorsports Chevrolet during the past season - the first female to produce a top-10 finish (10th) in a national series. Patrick's 17th-place performance at Phoenix, her last of 10 premier series starts, readied her for a NASCAR Sprint Cup rookie campaign in 2013.
Record Number Of NASCAR Camping World Truck First-Time Winners
There were nine of them in 2012, all under the age of 30, beginning with John King's upset victory in the season-opening race at Daytona. King, 23, was participating in just his eighth series event. As noted, Buescher, Dillon and Piquet also were first-time winners. They were joined by 2011 Sunoco Rookie of the Year Joey Coulter, 22, at Pocono; Cale Gale, 27, at Homestead; Parker Kligerman, 22, at Talladega and Justin Lofton, 26, at Charlotte. Number nine, Ryan Blaney, became the youngest series winner at 18 years 8 months when he captured the series' second visit of the season to Iowa Speedway. Among the season's top-five championship finishers, only runner up Timothy Peters is older than 22.
Young Stars On The Rise In NASCAR Touring, Whelen All-American
A year after becoming the youngest race winner and pole sitter in NASCAR K&N Pro Series West history, Dylan Kwasniewski took the big step in his sophomore season in becoming the youngest champion in the 59 years of the series. The 17-year-old Las Vegas driver won three times and posted 12 top fives in 15 races en route to taking the title by six points over teammate and defending champion Greg Pursley.
Kyle Larson had never raced a stock car prior to February. That lack of experience didn't slow down the transition for the 20-year-old open-wheel star from Elk Grove, Calif. Larson won twice - including at New Hampshire - on his way to winning the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East championship. He joined Joey Logano and Ryan Truex in becoming the only drivers in the series' history to win rookie of the year and the championship in the same season. He also gave Rev Racing and NASCAR Drive for Diversity their first NASCAR touring title. Larson, an Earnhardt Ganassi Racing development driver, nearly won for Turner Motorsports in his fourth career NASCAR Camping World Truck Series start.
Darrell Wallace Jr. picked up his sixth career win in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East at Greenville early in the year. It was a big milestone year for the 19-year-old from Concord, N.C., a graduate of the NASCAR Drive for Diversity program, as he made four NASCAR Nationwide Series starts for Joe Gibbs Racing. Wallace scored three top 10s and earned his first 21 Means 21 Pole Award presented by Coors Brewing Co., at Dover. He became the first African-American driver to win a pole in the Nationwide Series.
After capping 2012 by winning the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West finale at Phoenix, Ryan Blaney continued his successful progression. After rallying from a spin to finish second in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East opener at Bristol, Blaney also finished second at Iowa in a partial season in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series. The 18-year-old from High Point, N.C., made 13 NASCAR Nationwide Series starts and nine in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, highlighted by his breakthrough victory at Iowa.
Corey LaJoie contended for victories but just couldn't get to Victory Lane through his first 23 career NASCAR K&N Pro Series East starts. After breaking through for his first win at Bowman Gray Stadium in Winston-Salem, N.C., though, the 21-year-old driver from Concord, N.C., was the hottest driver in the series. Including his win at Bowman Gray, LaJoie scored five victories and two runner-up finishes in the final 10 races of the season to finish second in the championship points race to Larson.
Lee Pulliam has only been racing for six seasons. But the 24-year-old from Semora, N.C., quickly rose to the top in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series. Driving the asphalt Late Model divisions at Motor Mile Speedway in Radford, Va., Kingsport (Tenn.) Speedway, Caraway Speedway in Asheboro, N.C., Southern National Raceway Park in Kenly, N.C., and South Boston (Va.) Speedway, Pulliam collected 22 wins and 30 top fives in 36 starts to win his first NASCAR Whelen All-American Series national title. The championship came a year after he finished third in the national standings.
Other breakthrough performances: Chase Elliott, 17, became the youngest pole winner in NASCAR K&N Pro Series history and also scored his first career NASCAR win at Iowa. ... Ben Kennedy, the 20-year-old grandson of Bill France Jr., earned his first NASCAR victory in the historic inaugural NASCAR oval race in Europe at Tours in France. He also finished ninth in NASCAR K&N Pro Series East points. ... Ryan Preece, 22, from Berlin, Conn., had two wins and six poles and finished second in the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour. He also ran his Modified at weekly tracks in Connecticut and at Riverhead (N.Y.) Raceway, winning 14 times and finishing fifth in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series national standings.(NASCAR)(12-17-2012)
Correction - SBJs Most Influential List, France 13th: ESPN's President John Skipper tops Sportsbusiness Journal's annual list of the "50 Most Influential People In Sports Business" NASCAR's CEO Brian France is 13th.(Sportsbusiness Journal, need subscription to see all of list)(12-10-2012)
Keselowski, Penske Championships Voted Best Moments of 2012: #2-Brad Keselowski, no one's pre-season choice to win the 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship, stumped the experts. Media members, in turn, have voted Keselowski's title run for owner Roger Penske as NASCAR's top story of the past season. Keselowski's first championship prevailed in the voting over Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s drought-busting victory in June at Michigan International Speedway. Now that media members have had their say, it's the fans' turn. Fans can vote for their favorite competition stories of 2012 on the NASCAR Facebook page.
1.-Brad Keselowski's First Championship
Three races into the season and two finishes worse than 30th, Keselowski appeared a dark horse even to qualify for the postseason. But a second consecutive victory at Bristol Motor Speedway helped turn around the fortunes of the No. 2 Penske Racing Dodge team and by mid-September Keselowski was the No. 3 seed when the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup got underway. With two wins in the first three races, Keselowski went from underdog to favorite. He lost the points lead when five-time champion Jimmie Johnson won at Martinsville but refused to fade under pressure. A top-10 finish in the penultimate race at Phoenix coupled with Johnson's accident and mechanical failure in the finale clinched the title for Keselowski, Penske and crew chief Paul Wolfe.
2.-Dale Earnhardt Breaks 143-Race Winless Streak
Entering the 2012 season it had been nearly four years and more than 125 races since Earnhardt had won a NASCAR Sprint Cup race. Even some among his legions of fans openly wondered if Junior would ever grab another checkered flag. But this season the Hendrick Motorsports driver brought his "A" game, posting two seconds and a pair of thirds over the schedule's first nine races. The breakthrough victory came at Michigan International Speedway virtually to the day and at the site of Earnhardt's last win in June 2008. The 143-race drought was cleansed June 17 in a race on a brand-new track surface over which Junior led 95 laps and beat reigning champion Tony Stewart by more than five seconds.
3.-Matt Kenseth Wins Explosive Daytona 500
No Daytona 500 is ever quite like any other and this year's Great American Race was no exception. Rain postponed the race for the first time in history dating to the inaugural race in 1959. And - again a first - the Daytona 500 became a Monday night affair. Matt Kenseth proved to have the winning hand as his No. 17 Roush Fenway Racing Ford led the most laps and held off Earnhardt in a green-white-checker finish to record his second Daytona 500 victory in four years. What many will most remember about 54th annual event was the Turn 3 fireball resulting from Juan Pablo Montoya's Chevrolet, which suffered a mechanical failure, slamming into a jet dryer.
4.-Michael Waltrip Racing Makes Chase In Style
Since becoming a fulltime NASCAR Sprint Cup Series team in 2007, Michael Waltrip Racing had experienced the joys of winning but never the fruits of a post-season run. David Reutimann had come closest to qualifying for the Chase - 16th in 2009. Five seasons of frustration ended in 2012 as not one but two of MWR's drivers - Clint Bowyer and Martin Truex Jr. - made the Chase. Bowyer, the organization's first-year driver, made the most of his opportunity winning twice including Charlotte's Chase race. Bowyer finished a career-high second in final standings. Truex ranked 11th.
5.-Hendrick Motorsports Records Milestone 200th Victory
Leave it to Jimmie Johnson to register Hendrick Motorsports' milestone 200th victory. The organization's driver with the most championships - five - ended a 16-race, two-season count-down for win No. 200 on May 12 at Darlington Raceway. Johnson had won No. 199 at Kansas Speedway in October 2011, drew blanks ever since. Reaching the milestone seemingly ignited the fuse for HMS, which won three consecutive races including Kasey Kahne's Coca-Cola 600 victory at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Each of Hendrick's drivers - Johnson, Kahne, Earnhardt and Gordon - won in 2012 as well as qualified for the Chase.
6.-Classic Rockingham Raceway Returns To NASCAR In 2012
Rockingham Raceway, in North Carolina's sand hills, has provided many thrills during its five decades as a part of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. The track's run ended after the 2004 season. Rockingham, under ownership of Andy Hillenburg, roared back to life in 2012 when the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series debuted under sunny skies and before full grandstands on April 15. Kasey Kahne, who finished second to Matt Kenseth in the track's final NASCAR Sprint Cup race, drove his Chevrolet Silverado to Victory Circle posting the first series victory for Turner Motorsports.
7.-Stenhouse Goes Back To Back In The NASCAR Nationwide Series
Since the NASCAR Nationwide Series was created in 1982 only five drivers had won consecutive championships. In 2012, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. became the sixth member of the series elite. Stenhouse battled Elliott Sadler - his chief rival in 2011 as well - throughout the season. The points lead changed hands five times with Stenhouse and his No. 6 Roush Fenway Racing Ford forging ahead for the final time after a fourth-place finish at Texas Motor Speedway in November. Stenhouse moves to RFR's No. 17 Ford for a NASCAR Sprint Cup rookie campaign in 2013.
8.-Patrick Makes History With Top-10 Championship Finish
Danica Patrick became a full-time NASCAR driver for the first time in 2012 and she made the most of her opportunity with JR Motorsports. Patrick, who would become the highest-finishing female driver (fourth) in a NASCAR national series a year ago, made history again. Her 10th-place NASCAR Nationwide Series championship finish set a new standard for female competitors erasing Sara Christian's previous record of 13th in 1949 NASCAR Sprint Cup standings. Patrick finished four times in the top 10 and won the Coors Light Pole for the season opening race at Daytona. She'll move to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series fulltime in 2013 with Stewart-Haas Racing.
9.-Ambrose Wins Second At The Glen In Wild Finish
You couldn't have scripted a wilder finish than that of August's Finger Lakes 366 at the Glen. Take three hungry hounds - Kyle Busch, Brad Keselowski and Marcos Ambrose - mix in the drama of a final lap and stir with the possibility of making or missing the Chase and you've got a recipe for one of the year's wildest conclusions. The final laps saw leader Busch and Keselowski collide and Keselowski on and off the track and running side-by-side with Ambrose, who finally pulled out a half-second victory off the final turn. Busch's loss was the difference between making the Chase as a Wild Card and being a spectator in the postseason.
10.-Jeff Gordon Claims Final Wild Card Spot At Richmond
Nail-biting intrigue sits atop the menu whenever the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series rolls to race No. 26 - the Chase cut-off race at Richmond International Raceway. And the 2012 edition ranks among the best versions since its inception in 2004. For the first time since 2009, a driver outside the Chase bubble raced his way in after the 400-lapper. That driver - four-time series champion Jeff Gordon, who leap-frogged past Kyle Busch to earn the second Wild Card spot by three points. Gordon finished second in the race. Busch, thanks in part to a lug nut problem on pit road, finished 16th, missing the Chase for the first time since 2009.*NASCAR)(12-11-2012)
NASCAR names top performances of 2012: No one saw this coming. No one. Brad Keselowski won his first race in 2009 at Talladega Superspeedway, running a part-time schedule with single-car team Phoenix Racing. It was a nice story in a long season, one that ended with Jimmie Johnson winning the championship. His second victory came in 2011 at Kansas Speedway while in his second full season with Penske Racing. That win moved him into 21st in points. Again, a feel-good story to weave into the year; one that culminates with Tony Stewart capturing his third title. Big-picture speaking, Keselowski's yearly career followed a similar story arch. Flashes of brilliance wherever he drove - be it the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, NASCAR Nationwide Series or his thus far brief tenure in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series - all followed by a premier series title by two no-doubt-about-it NASCAR legends: Jimmie Johnson and Tony Stewart. From the first primetime Daytona 500 through Keselowski and owner Roger Penske’s first NASCAR Sprint Cup championship, the 2012 season was filled with drama, intrigue and more than a few "Top Performances." Here are a few of them, and as always, the choices are always up for welcome discussion.
Top Driver: Brad Keselowski: His series-high five wins notwithstanding, Keselowski's clutch playoff performance may live as the most memorable chapter from his first championship. He tallied two wins and eight top-10 finishes in the 10-race Chase. His worst finish was just 15th in the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway - the exact finish he needed to guarantee the championship. In the last 40 years, Keselowski became only the third driver to win a NASCAR Sprint Cup title within his first three seasons, joining NASCAR Hall of Famer Dale Earnhardt and Jeff Gordon.
Comeback Driver of the Year: Clint Bowyer: In 2011, Clint Bowyer eked out one win, at Talladega, and missed the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup in his final season with Richard Childress Racing. Even Bowyer admitted that his move to Michael Waltrip Racing for the 2012 season likely wouldn’t lead to immediate success. Wrong. Bowyer won three times this season, leapfrogging Jimmie Johnson in the season finale at Homestead to finish a career-best second in points. Those three wins all came on different layouts - road course (Sonoma), short track (Richmond), and intermediate (Charlotte). Along with teammate Martin Truex Jr., the duo gave MWR its first Chase berth since joining the series fulltime in 2007.
Top Team: Hendrick Motorsports: Usually this spot is reserved for the championship team, but it’s impossible to ignore - and tribute - Hendrick Motorsports' history-making and milestone-achieving season. HMS, with Jimmie Johnson at the wheel, captured its 200th victory in one of NASCAR's crown jewels - the Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway. It also won the Brickyard 400, also with Johnson. In all, HMS had a series-high 10 victories (Johnson, 5; Jeff Gordon, 2; Kasey Kahne, 2; Dale Earnhardt Jr., 1) and placed all four of its drivers in the Chase.
Top Breakthrough Performance: Brad Keselowski: In 2011, Keselowski made the Chase as one of the two Wild Card contenders. This year, he made it as the fourth seed. There’s little reason to believe his meteoric rise to stardom won’t continue for years to come. Keselowski's five wins this season came on some of the tougher tracks in the series, including Bristol, Dover and Talladega. But his ability to brush off pressure - and a five-time champion - during the Chase made him a champion, and a breakthrough performer.
IRWIN Tools Night Race, Bristol Motor Speedway (Aug. 25) - Bristol's night race evolved into Bristol's Night Race - capitalized - because of the emotional fender-bending, bump-and-running and temper-igniting qualities that blossom under the lights on the high banks. This race had all that, and more. The racing? Intense: Thirteen different drivers led a lap, three short of the all-time Bristol record. The action? Robust: There were 13 cautions, the most in the last 11 Bristol races. Denny Hamlin won the race, but two side acts stole the show. One, of course, is Tony Stewart’s helmet toss at Matt Kenseth's #17. The other, an undercard to Stewart vs. Kenseth, was Danica Patrick's finger point at Regan Smith after a wreck in her first Bristol race.
Finger Lakes 355 at The Glen, Watkins Glen International (Aug. 12) - Road course races have provided some of the most thrilling NASCAR moments, especially in recent years. This year’s Watkins Glen race was no different, especially on an epic last lap that will be remembered for years to come. Three prominent road course talents - Kyle Busch, Brad Keselowski and Marcos Ambrose - battled for the lead on the last circuit, trading paint, running off course and doing literally anything to capture the checkered. Ambrose finally won the race, and earned it. According to NASCAR's Loop Data, Ambrose and Keselowski traded the lead four times on the final lap, a rarity on road courses.(NASCAR)(12-7-2012)
NASCAR submits rules package to teams: NASCAR provided teams with the long-awaited rules package for the new car that will debut in the 2013 Daytona 500 in February. The first test with the package, which was distributed Tuesday, will be held Dec. 11-12 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. About 14 drivers so far are on the list to test, but teams will be allowed for this session only to bring in multiple drivers and additional cars to participate. Robin Pemberton, NASCAR's vice president for competition, said there are a few minor things the governing body continues to work on to improve the handling of the cars around each other, but added this basically is the package teams will have for Daytona. "We've told them what splitters and spoilers they'll use," said Pemberton, noting the splitters will have a different shape to improve aerodynamics. "They know what they need for suspensions and stuff like that." Getting the final rules package has been a concern for several team owners. Pemberton said the package was the culmination of more than a year of research and testing to find what will improve cars being able to pass and race better around each other. The front grandstand at Charlotte Motor Speedway will be open and free to the general public.(ESPN)(12-5-2012)
Auto Racing the favorite sport of few Americans: What do auto racing, soccer, tennis and golf have in common? All received less than 5 percent in a recent poll asking Americans to name their favorite sport. A Rasmussen Reports poll released Sunday found that football, not surprisingly, was far and away the national pastime in the United States (53 percent said it was their No. 1 sport to follow). Baseball was a distant second with 16 percent. Basketball (11 percent) and hockey (6 percent) were next, but none of the other sports reached the 5 percent mark. The poll did not specifically name the percentage for auto racing but mentioned it along with soccer, golf and tennis.(SB Nation), NASCAR was not a specific option in the questions, just the general term of auto racing.(12-4-2012)
New look for Charlotte's NASCAR Plaza: The NASCAR Plaza building in uptown Charlotte is getting a new look in time for the new year, according to a press release from ownership group Trinity Capital Advisors. Installation of new, full-color signs atop the building will take place in December, with work wrapping up by year's end. Trinity has a deal in place to sell the building to Orlando, Fla.-based Parkway Properties for $100 million. That transaction is expected to close by the end of the year as well.(Charlotte Business Journal)(11-22-2012)
France holds press conference to discuss the future of the sport and more: NASCAR chairman Brian France held a press conference at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Saturday, November 17, 2012, some of the plans for 2013 and beyond include:
" The 2013 car will have more brand identity for manufacturers with the vehicle looking more like those on the showroom floor.
" NASCAR is addressing changes in the car to improve competition as far as more passing and tighter racing.
" The driver's last name will be placed on the windshield so fans can better identify their driver in an era when paint schemes change frequently.
" Sponsor logos will be allowed on the roof for more exposure from television.
" The average age for drivers in the Truck Series will be dropped from 18 to 16 for road courses and any tracks 1.1 mile or less.
" A digital cockpit is coming in 2014 that will offer new social media possibilities.
(ESPN)....see full transcript at the Brian France Press Conference, November 17, 2012 Transcript page.(11-18-2012)
NASCAR says no problem with Texas restarts: NASCAR vice president for competition Robin Pemberton broke almost a year-long vow not to listen to talk radio on Monday morning. "In three minutes, I was done," Pemberton said with a laugh. That's because fans were outraged that #48-Jimmie Johnson, #2-Brad Keselowski or both jumped a restart, meaning they left early to gain an advantage, and weren't penalized in the closing laps of Sunday's Sprint Cup race at Texas Motor Speedway. Pemberton said for a driver to be penalized it has to be an obvious violation as it was earlier this year in the Nationwide Series race at Indianapolis with Elliott Sadler. He said that wasn't the case in either situation on Sunday involving the two drivers battling for the championship.
According to NASCAR rules, the second-place car can't beat the first-place car to the start-finish line on restarts. Johnson, according to television replays, beat Keselowski to the line on the final restart by anywhere from a few inches to a foot. Pemberton said when it's that close NASCAR is reluctant to make a call because you don't know whether the leader manipulated that or not. "When you went to double-file restarts this is what you had,'' he said. "You can't govern the restarts to the transponder, because then you're into regulating someone getting to the line and rolling out of the gas and getting the guy on the outside black-flagged. If anybody thinks those games don't happen, then it's obvious they're not paying attention."ESPN)(11-6-2012)
NASCAR Plaza office building sold: Parkway Properties has agreed to buy the 20-story NASCAR Plaza office building for approximately $100 million. The Charlotte Business Journal reported earlier this month that the Orlando, Fla.-based real estate investment trust had made an unsolicited offer to buy the 390,000-square-foot uptown building as well as the 525 North Tryon building. Parkway acquired the Hearst Tower from Bank of America earlier this year for $250 million. The NASCAR Plaza building, owned by Trinity Capital Advisors and Rubenstein Partners, is 88 percent leased, with an average in-place rent of $25.61 per square foot. NASCAR has a lease for 139,000 square feet that runs through May 2021, and Chiquita Brands International Inc. signed a lease for about 138,000 square feet this year after deciding to relocate its headquarters from Cincinnati. Parkway says NASCAR Plaza is expected to generate a 2013 estimated cash net operating income yield of approximately 7 percent. The company expects to close on the purchase by the end of the year.(Charlotte Business Journal)(11-1-2012)
NASCAR announces qualifying & testing changes for 2013: UPDATE:
NASCAR announced a number of competition changes for the 2013 season, highlighted by a new qualifying format in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series that places a greater emphasis on speed.
Qualifying Format In The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series
In NASCAR Sprint Cup competition, the series will move to a 36-6-1 format where the fastest 36 cars will make the race on speed. The next six highest ranking cars in owners points that have not already earned a starting position through qualifying and who have entered the event by the posted entry deadline will also make the field. The final starting position will be awarded to the most recent eligible past champion driver. If there is no eligible past champion driver, then a seventh car will make the field based upon owners' points. Provisional positions in the 36-6-1 format will be lined up by owners' points, not speed.
In 2013, the qualifying order for NASCAR Sprint Cup Series events will return to a random draw. However, in the event qualifying is canceled due to rain, the field will be set per the rule book and the starting lineup will continue to be determined by practice speeds.
Additionally, provisional positions in the NASCAR Sprint Cup, NASCAR Nationwide and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series will be based upon the previous year's owner points for the first three races, as opposed to the first five races in previous years for the NASCAR Sprint Cup and the NASCAR Nationwide Series, and four races for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series.
Testing Policy Opened Up For 2013
Beginning next season in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, there will be up to four tests per organization available to teams at tracks at which the series competes. Since 2009, teams could only test at tracks that did not hold NASCAR national series events. For the NASCAR Nationwide and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, starting in 2013, there will be up to two tests per organization at tracks where those series compete. If the organization has an official Sunoco Rookie of Year candidate, then that team will receive one additional test. Additionally, NASCAR will open track activity early for extended practice at two additional events per series, to be determined.
Maximum Field Set At 40 Cars For NASCAR Nationwide Series
In an effort to strengthen the ownership base up and create a sense of urgency among teams to make races, the maximum starting field for the NASCAR Nationwide Series will be set at 40, as opposed to the 43-car field in previous years. A maximum NASCAR Sprint Cup Series starting field will remain at 43 cars while the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series will hold steady at 36.(NASCAR)(10-16-2012)
UPDATE: There will be no limit to the number of provisionals. NASCAR did not consider heavily just having the best 43 cars in qualifying start a race. "We felt like there always needed to be some sort of opportunity for a guy that has a bad day and points are worth something to make the field," [NASCAR vice president of competition Robin ] Pemberton said in a phone interview. As far as how NASCAR will set the field for the Daytona 500, it will do it much like it had before the top-35 rule was put into effect. Qualifying speeds will determine the front row, then the 150-mile qualifying races will set the majority of the spots with the remainder of the field set by qualifying speed (among those remaining) and provisionals. "The final details will come out with the entry blank," Pemberton said during a teleconference. "But there will be a speed element that's in there along with a finishing order to the (qualifying races) that will be in there. Those final details haven't been worked out. But basically it all wraps around it being the fastest cars and also the ones that perform in the (qualifying races) to set the 500 lineup."(Sporting News)(10-17-2012)
NASCAR considers neurological tests: NASCAR will consider making neurological baseline testing a part of drivers' preseason physicals, just as the IndyCar Series and other contact sports do, officials told ESPN.com. For former Sprint Cup driver Steve Park, it can't come soon enough. Park suffered a massive brain injury in a 2001 Nationwide Series crash at Darlington. He took the ImPACT baseline test in 2003 on the recommendation of NASCAR physician Dr. Jerry Petty after suffering a second concussion. Because Park never had a test prior to that for comparison, there was no way to determine the full extent of his injury. He has wondered for years why NASCAR hasn't made the test a part of its preseason health exam. NASCAR does not perform baseline testing as a regular part of its preseason physical but plans to consult with its medical staff to see if it should be added after what has happened to its most popular driver. "We are always evaluating and reviewing our policies and procedures, especially when it comes to safety,'' NASCAR spokesman Kerry Tharp said. "We will continue to work closely and review our policies with the medical experts that advise NASCAR on baseline testing and other medical issues. The test gives physicians a starting point to determine if there is a loss of function after a head injury. It enables them to determine if a concussion has occurred and the severity of it. The test takes about 22 minutes the first time and a little less in future uses. It measures memory, reaction time, mental speed, information processing, anticipation time and other functions of the brain affected by concussions.(ESPN.com)(10-17-2012)
Infield care centers not required to do concussion checks: NASCAR vice president of competition Steve O'Donnell said Thursday that tracking concussions of drivers is a "subjective call." Dale Earnhardt Jr. will miss Saturday's Bank of America 500 and next weekend's race at Kansas after suffering two concussions over the past six weeks. One came in an accident at a test in late August at Kansas Speedway; the second occurred during the last-lap crash Sunday at Talladega Superspeedway. It wasn't until Earnhardt saw a neurosurgeon this week, however, that he was diagnosed. Dr. Jerry Petty, who saw Earnhardt, made the decision to sit him for two races. Earnhardt, who was checked by medical personnel at both tracks following the wrecks, said Thursday he understood and "trusted" Petty's decision. "It's very tough," O'Donnell said of NASCAR's role. "It's still a subjective call. It's something we take a look at week in and week out. So we'll continue to do that." Doctors staffing NASCAR infield care centers can - but are not required to - give drivers a Concussion Reduction Technology test or MRI if a concussion is suspected. Drivers with concussions must receive medical clearance to return to racing. O'Donnell said there have been nine confirmed concussions in NASCAR's three top divisions - Sprint Cup, Nationwide and Truck - during the past five years. "We look at (the cars), candidly, as a rolling laboratory," said O'Donnell. "Each and every event, we try to learn something new and make them as safe as possible, and I would say our race cars are the safest in the world. I think when you look at the concussion history that we've had, that's less than two per year. I don't want to minimize that because any concussion is a cause for concern, and we'd like that number to be zero."(Charlotte Observer)(10-12-2012)
Rules Changes in 2013: NASCAR is going back in time with a series of changes related to qualifying and testing. Series officials met with Sprint Cup drivers and crew chiefs Saturday at Talladega Superspeedway to detail next year's changes.
" The top 35 rule, in existence since 2005, will be eliminated. This rule was in place to ensure teams in the top 35 in car owner points (and their sponsors) would be in the race in an era when 50 or more cars were attempting to qualify for races.
" The top 36 positions will be set by qualifying speed with the remaining spots set by provisionals, including a champion's provisional. Provisionals are based on car owner points rankings.
" A random draw will set the qualifying order. The past two seasons, the order was determined by speeds in the first practice session.
" Provisionals for the first three races next year will be based on the final car owner points standings this year instead of the first five races as in previous years.
" Each organization can test at four tracks of its choosing next season where NASCAR competes, the first time teams can do so since 2008. The series' sanctioning body banned testing in 2009, and since then teams could not test at tracks where NASCAR held races, but they could test on other tracks.(USA Today)(10-6-2012)
NASCAR planning multiple changes to qualifying in 2013: NASCAR is going back in time with a series of changes related to qualifying and testing. Series officials met with Sprint Cup drivers and crew chiefs Saturday at Talladega Superspeedway to detail next year's changes. They are:
--The top 35 rule, in existence since 2005, will be eliminated. This rule was in place to ensure teams in the top 35 in car owner points (and their sponsors) would be in the race in an era when 50 or more cars were attempting to qualify for races.
--The top 36 positions will be set by qualifying speed with the remaining spots set by provisionals, including a champion's provisional. Provisionals are based on car owner points rankings.
--A random draw will set the qualifying order. The past two seasons, the order was determined by speeds in the first practice session.
--Provisionals for the first three races next year will be based on the final car owner points standings this year instead of the first five races as in previous years.
--Each organization can test at four tracks of its choosing next season where NASCAR competes, the first time teams can do so since 2008. The series' sanctioning body banned testing in 2009, and since then teams could not test at tracks where NASCAR held races, but they could test on other tracks.
Robin Pemberton, NASCAR vice president of competition, said the previous formats "served a purpose when we were doing other things, (but) we don't do those anymore," such as reducing the weekend schedule at an event. Series officials plan to have a practice and qualifying session Fridays and a final practice session Saturdays on weekends the Cup series races on Sundays next season. Should a driver need a provisional or multiple provisionals next year, there won't be a limit. NASCAR, however, plans to limit how a driver can use the champion's provisional. "You can't just show up'' and use a champion's provisional, Pemberton said.
As for testing, Pemberton said that each organization -- Hendrick Motorsports, Roush Fenway Racing, Joe Gibbs Racing --can bring two cars per driver. Thus, all four Hendrick drivers could test together and it would count as one test. The difference is that if a track will have a new tire, teams can't test with that tire unless it has been used at another track.(USA Today)(10-6-2012)
NASCAR still looking at changes to Top 35 rule: Sprint Cup teams are looking forward to having four additional test sessions next season and they might have more things to test than they initially thought. Teams are awaiting 2013 rules and several team officials said over the weekend they anticipate NASCAR might give them a little more leeway in some areas of the car, while also restricting the ability to skew the rear of the cars. Not only will testing allow them to work now at the tracks that they race on, they also might need to work a little more on qualifying. Teams also are anticipating that NASCAR will get rid of the top-35 rule and go back to the previous system of the top 36 (or 37 or 38) cars in qualifying making the race, with the remainder of the field set by provisionals based primarily on owner points. The top-35 rule guarantees the top 35 teams in owner points starting spots in each race. The rest of the field must make the race on speed. Under the new format, all teams would have to qualify on speed or have enough owner points to be eligible for a provisional starting spot. NASCAR could announce that change and other new rules during a test at Talladega Superspeedway Wednesday for the 2013 Cup car. Kyle Busch said his Joe Gibbs Racing team already is experimenting with some ideas for next year. Busch said teams know the cars are going to be lighter by 100-160 pounds. He also said there will be aero changes that he said he would be the "test dummy" for at a tire test at Texas Motor Speedway in two weeks.(Sporting News)(10-2-2012)
NASCAR considering moving more qualifying to Friday in 2013: As it does annually, NASCAR is contemplating competition changes that could include moving some Sprint Cup Series qualifying sessions to Friday afternoons in 2013 and tweaking the current testing policy. The possible changes were a hot topic in the Dover International Speedway garage area, where drivers and teams gave their input about more race weekend schedules that would feature Friday qualifying and a practice session on Saturday. By completing qualifying on Fridays, teams will have more time to work on the race setup on Saturdays. It also gives race promoters a Saturday ticket that will feature a couple hours of significant Cup practice and more time in the garage for driver and fan interaction instead of more than a couple of qualifying laps. NASCAR is expected to formally announce several competition changes for the 2013 season sometime in October.(NASCAR.com)(9-29-2012)
More on the 2013 roll cage: a look at the NASCAR roll cage for 2013, built to comply with rules changes for next year intended to improve driver safety. Int the photos on the site, the tube around the top of the cage that roughly describes the roof perimeter-has been doubled up with a second tube at the front along the top of the windshield. Now there are two full tubes, generously spaced, across the leading edge of the cage in front of the driver's forehead. In the most superficial way, the roll cage in a NASCAR race car hasn't changed in decades. It's still mild steel seamless DOM tubing, 1.75-inch diameter, .090-in. wall, MIG welded into a very familiar looking assembly. But over the past dozen years, nearly every detail has been agonized, sweated over, and optimized to produce the safest possible structure. See more and some photos at macsmotorcitygarage.com.(9-23-2012)
Changes coming to roll cages in 2013: NASCAR has issued technical bulletins in both the Sprint Cup and Nationwide series that address a safety enhancement to the driver's roll cage and will take effect beginning in January 2013. The cars in both series will feature an additional forward roof bar and a center roof support bar that will intersect near the front center of the roll cage. This addition comes following extensive testing at the NASCAR Research & Development Center and is an effort to strengthen the roll cage and help make it an even safer compartment for the driver.(NASCAR)(9-15-2012)
NASCAR, Sprint and Turner Sports Introduce NASCAR App for iPhone and iPod: As the action on-track heats up with NASCAR's postseason set to begin, NASCAR, Sprint and Turner Sports announced the launch of the sport's first official app for iPhone and iPod Touch. The NASCAR Sprint Cup Mobile App allows fans to follow their favorite drivers and stay on top of all the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup race action, including access to race day content, schedules, standings, breaking news and more. iPhone customers with a Sprint Unlimited Data Plan will have access to extra features, including:
• Live MRN and PRN race radio broadcasts
• Live in-car audio for all 43 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers
• Live RaceBuddy in-car video and track camera views
• Live NASCAR on SPEED broadcasts including live Qualifying, Practice and favorite trackside shows such as NASCAR RaceDay
• Live in-race highlights and alerts
• Live post-race press conferences
• Real-time leaderboards and Pit Pass telemetry data
The NASCAR Sprint Cup Mobile App is available for free from the App Store on iPhone and iPod Touch or at www.itunes.com/appstore.(NASCAR)(9-14-2012)
NASCAR Technical Bulletin Update: Rear-end suspension limits: NASCAR issued a technical bulletin Thursday, Sept. 6 that reconfirms the limits NASCAR Sprint Cup Series teams can go in setting up their rear end suspensions in their race cars. Effective Sept. 12, the truck trailing arm front mounting bushing assemblies may be built to allow a maximum of ¼ inch of total movement in one direction only. Truck trailing arm front mounting bushings must be designed to move freely throughout the ¼ inch of approved travel. Previously approved front truck trailing arm bushing assemblies which allow more than ¼ inch of movement or that do not move freely throughout the ¼ inch travel will no longer be permitted for use in competition. Approved front truck trailing arm bushing assemblies must not be altered after being approved. Wheelbase, rear axle location (parallel), offset and rear axle housing alignment will be inspected both pre-race and post-race.
"This doesn't change any rules that we've already had," said John Darby, NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Director. "It reconfirms how far teams can go with their rear suspension setups. Teams have found that with a car's rear axle steer more is better as it helps with aero and gets the cars through the corners faster. We are just reminding the teams what the limitations are and that they cannot go past these limitations. We will likely address this further in our 2013 rule book."(NASCAR)(9-7-2012)
Michigan will talk to NASCAR about Martin's pit road wreck: UPDATE: #55-Mark Martin walked away from his crash at Michigan International Speedway, but the side of his car was essentially impaled by the end of the wall, raising questions about whether that spot - a gap in the barrier on pit road that leaves the edge of the wall exposed - creates a safety risk. MIS later released a statement. "The safety of the drivers is paramount," a spokeswoman said. "So we will seek NASCAR's opinion and work with them on any recommendations they may have on how we can improve any part of the competition area - that includes pit road, pit wall, the track, anything competition-related."(Associated Press)(8-20-2012)
UPDATE: NASCAR is ready to take a look at Mark Martin's scary crash from over the weekend. Robin Pemberton, NASCAR's vice president for competition, says Martin's team will be consulted, and aerial photos will be studied. Pemberton says Sunday's incident is a reminder that the work on safety doesn't stop.(Associated Press/ESPN)(8-21-2012)
Romney's fundraiser to be chaired by NASCAR CEO: Republican Mitt Romney's Wednesday fundraiser in Charlotte will have a distinct NASCAR flavor. The event at the Duke Mansion is chaired by NASCAR CEO Brian France and his wife Amy. Co-chairs include NASCAR President Mike Helton and team owners Richard Childress, Rick Hendrick and Felix Sabates as well as driver Jamie McMurray. The fundraiser will be Romney's second appearance of the week in North Carolina. On Sunday he takes a bus tour with stops in Mooresville, High Point and Wake County.(Charlotte Observer / USA Today)(8-12-2012)
NASCAR evaluating weather policy: NASCAR and Pocono Raceway officials are investigating whether there is a need for emergency reaction policy changes to weather-related events following Sunday's tragedy at the 2.5-mile track. A 41-year-old man was killed and nine others were injured as a result of lightning strikes within minutes of the Sprint Cup race being called for severe weather. The incident raised the question of whether the race should have been called earlier to give the track time to evacuate the stands and everyone enough time to reach the safety of their cars or shelter. NASCAR spokesman David Higdon said NASCAR's attention to severe weather will be on "hyper alert" heading to this week's race at Watkins Glen. "But I will add we're always in that situation," he said. "Nobody had their guard down (at Pocono)." NASCAR doesn't have a hard and fast rule on how to react to severe weather. Higdon said that is left up to the individual tracks, and most don't have rules such as evacuating the track if lightning is within a certain radius of the facility. NASCAR officials made it clear that the safety of the fans in these situations ultimately is the responsibility of the tracks. The dilemma for tracks is they can have the best emergency plan, but the decision on when to stop the race is NASCAR's. As Ed Klima, the director of emergency services at Dover International Raceway, told the Associated Press, "it's very difficult to get people to leave if there's still cars going around the racetrack." The initial severe weather warning was issued to fans at Pocono at 4:12 p.m. NASCAR called the race and declared Jeff Gordon the winner at 4:54 p.m. The lightning strike that took the life of Brian F. Zimmerman of Moosic, Pa., while he was leaning against his car, took place at 5:01 p.m.(ESPN)(8-7-2012)
OEM meet targets for 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Race Car: Based upon the final aerodynamic test results from July 18, NASCAR has announced that all four of its Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) have met the necessary targets for the 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race car. This represents another step forward in the new car process and means manufacturers can begin making parts and pieces for the new models. The 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series car is the result of more than two years of collaborative efforts between the manufacturers and NASCAR. With goals of enhancing product relevance, featuring race cars that more closely resemble their respective manufacturer models on the showroom floor, and building upon the highly competitive racing the series features, the roll out of the new car is highly anticipated by NASCAR fans.
The four new models - Chevrolet's SS, Dodge's Charger, Ford's Fusion and Toyota's Camry - will make their race debuts next February at Daytona International Speedway, with the first championship points event being the 55th running of the Daytona 500 on Feb. 24, 2013.
"We commend the manufacturers and our team at the R&D center on all the hard work they've put into this new car," said Robin Pemberton, NASCAR vice president of competition. "With all the designs and surface areas of the car now approved, manufacturers can now move forward with building the components needed to outfit their cars. The wind tunnel testing we've had with the manufacturers over the past several months has given us the timely and necessary data we needed to come to this confirmation. We believe the new car is going to be a milestone opportunity for our sport, one that our fans will embrace."(NASCAR)(7-30-2012)
NASCAR warns drivers about Indy restarts: In light of Saturday's controversy over restarts at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, NASCAR race director David Hoots stepped to the microphone during Sunday's pre-race Sprint Cup Series drivers meeting and delivered a lecture. "We spend a lot of time talking about this," Hoots said sternly. "We tear up race cars, we ruin people's days because we can't handle those responsibilities. Whether it be you, I, whatever. We're all in it together.
So let's do it right and do it the way we know how to do it so we don't have to take the extra steps of getting out there with micrometers and measurements and bring the field down. Usually, when we get involved to that point and you ask us to, you don't like the results! So I'm asking you to accept your responsibilities and do it properly." Hoots said several times each driver had "roles and responsibilities" in starting and restarting the race. Whether it's the pole-sitter conducting a smooth restart or a driver on the second row not pushing the cars in front of him too much, all drivers need to play a part, he said. "If this is not done in this very simple process, there's a chain reaction that occurs," he said. "... You have shared responsibilities on not trying to take advantage of something that's this simple and create such a mess that could ruin a lot of people's days at the start."
Hoots emphasized the flagman -- not the pole-sitter -- starts the race. The pole-sitter then must lead at the start line, barring "some exceptions." The leader, he said, should not brake-check or "burp" the car or do any kind of false start. On restarts, the rule is different because the flagman isn't the decision-maker. The leader has earned the right to decide when to hit the gas in the restart zone, and the second-place car cannot beat him to the line. But the leader has not earned the right to "screw around with the restart," Hoots said. "You all have a role in this," he said. "You have a role in this every week. Sometimes the role is from the pole, sometimes the role is from 43rd. But you're all responsible."(more at SB Nation)(7-29-2012)
NASCAR looking at changes to qualifying? UPDATE: NASCAR is kicking around the idea of qualifying the top 38 drivers on time and cutting the number of provisionals down to four plus one for former champions. With sponsors at a premium right now, it could be catastrophic to eliminate provisionals altogether, particularly when a driver missing a race could result in a benefactor pulling its support from the team.(Fox Sports)(7-24-2012)
UPDATE: NASCAR's rule guaranteeing the top 35 teams in the Sprint Cup series a spot in each race may be going away in 2013. Vice president of competition Robin Pemberton said on Thursday that NASCAR is talking to teams about doing away with guaranteed starting spots in the Cup, Nationwide and Truck Series with the hope of putting more emphasis on qualifying. "People want to see it go back to where speed gets you in,'' Pemberton said from the infield at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Pemberton did not discuss specifics of the new qualifying rules, but sources close to the situation told ESPN.com one plan is to have the top 38 cars get in on speed with one past champions provisional and four provisionals for the top four drivers in points that didn't make it on speed. Under the current system in Cup, the top 35 teams are guaranteed a spot in the field regardless of whether they run a qualifying lap or not. That number is 30 for Nationwide and 25 for Trucks. The system was put in place in 2005 to assure full-time teams with big-name drivers and big sponsors did not miss the race. If the top-35 rule is eliminated, cars inside the top 35 at the end of 2012 won't be guaranteed a spot in the first five races of 2013 as has been the case in the past. Pemberton said that won't totally eliminate owners purchasing numbers for the Daytona 500, where points are used from the previous season, but the need won't be as great.(ESPN)
This sounds similar to the old provisional system last used during the 2004 season, see how it worked and some notes about it on my 2004 Provisionals page.(7-27-2012)
France committed to improving NASCAR racing: NASCAR chairman Brian France doesn't buy the argument that if it isn't broke, don't fix it. France said he is committed to ensuring the series has the best racing possible, even if some believe there's nothing wrong with the current product. "We can do better. We can have the packages better, tighter racing," France told The Associated Press in London, where he spoke Wednesday in the Beyond Sport's annual summit. "That's our stated goal and we have to get there. With the new car coming, we want to get this right. And we know it will be hard to keep it right." France currently has senior vice president Steve O'Donnell repurposing the North Carolina research and development center. France's goal is to split the R&D department from the competition department with an eye on improving the rules package before the 2013 cars debut. Fans have complained about stretches of racing this season, particularly a two-month swing that saw lots of strung-out, green-flag racing. NASCAR has made slight aerodynamic changes to the cars twice this season to try to make passing easier, and series leaders want the best possible package on next year's car. France said if there are improvements that can be implemented now, he won't wait for the 2013 car.(see full post at Associated Press)(7-26-2012)
NASCAR's Global Influence Grows At Beyond Sport Summit: NASCAR's expanding role among global influencers of sport continues this week as Chairman and CEO Brian France participates in Beyond Sport's annual summit in London. The Summit began on Tuesday, a few days before the start of the 2012 Olympiad. On Wednesday, France will participate in a panel entitled "Mobilizing Millions," in which he will highlight NASCAR's efforts in green, diversity and charitable giving. Joining France will be Dr. Robin Peterson, CEO of the South African Football Association; Jamie Oliver, celebrity chef, Emmy Award-winning television personality and health advocate; and Paddy Harverson, official spokesperson for Prince Charles, Duke of Cambridge.
Moderated by Dr. Michael Lynch, NASCAR's managing director of green innovation, the conversation will look at how sport can be used as a tool to trigger large-scale change. Panelists will analyze how sports organizations, personalities and governing bodies can use the power of sport to improve lives, positively change behavior, or empower people on a global scale. Additionally France will present Beyond Sport's "Sport for the Environment" Award to a recipient who has put forth significant efforts to reduce sports' impact on the environment.
The Beyond Sport summit is convened to celebrate, promote and drive sport-led social change. The event features networking opportunities, panels and action-led working sessions that include influencers from the worlds of sports, business and government. It will play host to a wide range of global luminaries, including Muhammad Ali, David Beckham and former British Prime Minister Tony Blair.(NASCAR)(7-25-2012)
NASCAR looking at changes to qualifying? NASCAR is kicking around the idea of qualifying the top 38 drivers on time and cutting the number of provisionals down to four plus one for former champions. With sponsors at a premium right now, it could be catastrophic to eliminate provisionals altogether, particularly when a driver missing a race could result in a benefactor pulling its support from the team.(Fox Sports)(7-24-2012)
NASCAR Selects Ogilvy & Mather As advertising agency of record: NASCAR concluded a comprehensive agency review that spanned nearly four months, by selecting Ogilvy & Mather as Agency of Record (AOR) to service the sport's evolving advertising and marketing needs. The agency will help NASCAR and the industry to execute a Five-Year Industry Action Plan to engage and excite existing fans, while creating new ones. NASCAR embarked on a review to secure a class-leading, full-service advertising agency in early 2012 in order to expand the sport's marketing efforts and provide an integrated solution to help NASCAR grow its audience in Youth, Gen Y and Hispanic. As AOR, Ogilvy & Mather's responsibilities will also include target segmentation, brand vision/storytelling, media strategy, promotions and support for the growing NASCAR Digital team. NASCAR received 110 inquiries and 75 sets of credentials from a host of agencies of all sizes and expertise. Ogilvy & Mather will complete a comprehensive on-boarding process in 2012, as the agency prepares to help NASCAR launch a new brand platform at the 55th running of the Daytona 500 in February 2013.(NASCAR)(7-20-2012)
One In Five Fortune 500 Companies Invest In NASCAR: More Fortune 500 companies are involved in NASCAR than in 2008, according to a recent review of brands currently using the sport to drive business. The analysis looked at companies that either sponsor NASCAR teams, tracks, the sanctioning body, or are media partners. The number of current Fortune 500 companies invested in NASCAR (114) remains higher than any other sport. In 2012 alone, more than 24 brands entered the sport, including a handful of Fortune 500 companies. Although being a Fortune 500 company is the gold standard of success for publicly-traded companies in the United States, there are several global corporations currently involved in NASCAR that were not included in the review because they do not meet Fortune's domestic criteria. To be eligible for the Fortune 500, a company must be based in the U.S. and be publicly traded. The companies in consideration actively utilize NASCAR as marketing vehicle through a team, track or NASCAR official sponsorship, licensing agreement and/or a media partnership.(NASCAR)(7-18-2012)
NASCAR, leagues ask Speaker to intervene on bill: NASCAR has joined with other major sports leagues in sending an open letter to the Speaker of the House in an attempt to table an amendment that would restrict branches of the military from using sports sponsorships as a recruitment tool. In a letter sent Monday to Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio), NASCAR, the NFL, NBA, Major League Baseball and the IndyCar Series urged the Speaker show "continued opposition" to the Kingston-McCollum amendment to the $608 billion 2013 Dept. of Defense appropriations bill currently before Congress. Introduced by Reps. Betty McCollum (D-Minn.) and Jack Kingston (R-Ga.), the amendment would bar the military from using funds for sponsorships in professional or semi-pro sports. A vote on the appropriations bill is scheduled for Wednesday, according to the weekly legislative calendar of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.).(see full post and links at NASCAR.com)(7-17-2012)
NASCAR not revealing drug that drivers are suspended for: NASCAR does not reveal the drug that a suspended driver tested positive for due to privacy concerns, NASCAR officials say. NASCAR chairman Brian France outlined NASCAR's stance in 2009 when it suspended Jeremy Mayfield after he tested positive for methamphetamines. A NASCAR spokesman said Tuesday that NASCAR still stands by that policy. Mayfield's positive test for methamphetamine was revealed when he filed a lawsuit against NASCAR over his suspension. He recently dropped his lawsuit after losing an appeal. On Saturday, NASCAR suspended driver #22-AJ Allmendinger after he tested positive for a banned substance during a random drug test at Kentucky Speedway on June 29. NASCAR has not disclosed the drug Allmendinger tested positive for. Though NASCAR's substance-abuse policy does not prohibit it from disclosing the source of a positive test, France said in 2009 that NASCAR doesn't reveal the substance due to privacy concerns.(Sporting News)(7-11-2012)
France addresses media at Daytona: NASCAR CEO Brian France met the media Friday at Daytona International Speedway to assess the sport as the season hits the halfway mark. Among the topics France addressed during his session were the current state of competition, the technical direction of the sport, upcoming television negotiations and the potential of shorter Sprint Cup races in the future.
While NASCAR continues to develop the new 2013 Sprint Cup car there are other technical initiatives on the drawing board that France believes will help better connect the sport to manufacturers as well as fans. One particular project has almost a space age feel to it but is one France is excited about developing. "We're working on a glass dashboard that is in the early stages, which is not inconsistent because the car manufacturers and some already there are coming with their own version of glass cockpits in passenger cars," he said. "So we'll be very careful how we get there, but we'll be looking at such things as that and many other things."
The current NASCAR television contract expires at the end of the 2014 season and negotiations are ongoing with current network partners FOX, TNT and ABC/ESPN with potential newcomer NBC reportedly also in the mix. While some believe the sport may be in line for a drop in rights fees in the next round of negotiations, France is upbeat about the future NASCAR television picture.
France also addressed the growing concern from some fans about the commercial load in telecasts and the potential to miss race action due to sponsorship breaks. While he understands the frustration, France is also comfortable with how the networks currently handle the situation.
But France was firm in saying NASCAR has no intention of creating mandatory caution periods for TV timeouts as was floated last week by Speedway Motorsports Inc.'s Bruton Smith.
While there are no significant changes expected for the 2013 Sprint Cup schedule, there is a possibility of more events being shortened in an effort to enhance competition and create better racing.(CBS Sports), read the full transcript of the press conference.(7-6-2012)
Bruton Smith would like mandatory cautions: UPDATE: Speedway Motorsports Inc. chairman Bruton Smith said NASCAR needs to implement mandatory cautions, or race stoppages, to bring more excitement to the races. "Call it what you want, but you've got to have caution flags," Smith said Saturday before the Sprint Cup race at Kentucky Speedway. "That creates excitement. You can't just sit there with nothing happening. It ruins the event. It's damaging to our sport." Cautions flags and caution laps are down this year in NASCAR. Many races this season have produced long green-flag runs without a lot of passing up front. Smith said NASCAR needs to deliberately create more double-file restarts. NASCAR made a rule change in 2009 that moved all the lead-lap cars to the front of the field, double-file, on all restarts after a caution flag. Those restarts often cause bumping late in races, and sometimes additional accidents. Smith said he wouldn't mind seeing a pseudo halftime at each race to cause an additional restart. NASCAR spokesman David Higdon said Friday: "We are constantly looking at ways to improve the racing. And we have mandatory cautions when we think it's needed at an event." But those mandatory cautions usually are for safety reasons so teams can check their tires and officials can check track conditions.(ESPN.com)(7-1-2012)
UPDATE: A call for mandatory caution periods has refueled an ongoing debate in NASCAR: How much manipulation is too much?
"I'd rather have that than some mysterious debris caution," four-time champion #24-Jeff Gordon said. "The integrity of racing is about letting the race play out, and sometimes that's the most exciting finish, sometimes it's not. Trying to get in the middle of that can be challenging. If you're going to do it, it's got to be something planned in advance, and you take a break. I'm not totally against it."
"Auto racing is auto racing," #99-Carl Edwards said. "That's what it is. It's not going to be a Game 7 moment in every race. That's what makes some races great. If you start affecting the competition like that, it's analogous to stopping a basketball game if the score gets too far apart and putting the score back at even. That, to me, is not what auto racing is about. NASCAR said it had no plans to implement mandatory breaks, but pre-determined caution periods are not new to the sport. NASCAR occasionally calls "competition yellows" if officials deem a stoppage necessary to evaluate the cars, tires, track or other circumstances. "Our product on the track is exciting, and sports is a true reality show in how it unfolds as an event," NASCAR President Mike Helton said Thursday. "You have to be careful when you think about artificially creating the outcome of that."
"I would not be against it if the races continue to run green the whole way with one or two cautions," #16-Greg Biffle said. "I think Over time that could lose the fans' interest sitting in the stands and watching on TV. That's not what we want."(USA Today)(7-6-2012)
Rules similar as teams return to Daytona: Sprint Cup drivers will return to Daytona International Speedway confident they will have a similar type of race in the heat of July as they did back when the season opened in February. Almost all the rules that were in place for the Daytona 500 are back in place for Saturday night's race in order to limit the time spent in a two-car tandem draft. Restrictor plates for the Coke Zero 400 will have holes 29/32nds of an inch in diameter and cars' front grille opening will be limited to 50 square inches. The small grille opening, as well as a preset pressure release valve that will force the radiator to spew water when it gets too hot, will prevent drivers from using the two-car draft over worries that they will cook their engine. The valve is set to go off at 32psi for the Coke Zero 400 on Saturday night. That's up from 25psi used in the Daytona 500 and 28psi used for the race at Talladega. That will allow drivers another 15-20 degrees in radiator fluid temperature. That won't mean much more time drivers can run in a two-car draft but will give them more time to get in clean air if temps rise while racing in tight quarters.(Sporting News)(7-4-2012)
NASCAR selects developer of digital platform and announce new staff: NASCAR announced that SapientNitro, part of Sapient, has been selected to design and build its new digital platform, including NASCAR.com. The new platform will result in an integrated digital experience for NASCAR's fans through critical channels, including: website, mobile and tablet. Earlier this year, NASCAR announced that it will assume business and editorial control of its interactive, digital and social media rights, including technical operations and infrastructure of NASCAR.com and all other NASCAR digital platforms, starting in January 2013. In addition to its work with NASCAR, SapientNitro, a leading marketing and technology firm, is currently designing digital experiences for a host of other sports and entertainment clients including WWE, Ladbrokes and LeBron James.(NASCAR)(6-30-2012)
AND: To further bolster its staff in preparation for the launch of the new NASCAR.com digital platform in January of 2013, NASCAR Digital Media announced five additional key hires.
The new personnel added to NASCAR Digital Media are David Murnick, managing director, ad services; Philippe Dore, senior director, digital services; Tim Clark, director, optimization; David Garlinski, director, mobile products; and Stu Hothem, director, content. In his new role, Murnick will be responsible for managing the advertising business of NASCAR's digital platforms as managing director, ad services. Murnick comes to NASCAR from AdKeeper where he was senior vice president, client services and ad operations.
Dore comes to NASCAR from the ATP World Tour, where he served as senior director and general manager of digital media for the past seven years. Dore will be responsible for working closely with NASCAR industry constituents including tracks, teams and drivers to help integrate the industry into the NASCAR digital platform.
Clark will be charged with optimizing the new NASCAR.com for all internal marketing and branding initiatives, external partnerships, licensing opportunities and industry services, including ticket sales.
Garlinski joins NASCAR from partner ESPN Digital Media, where he most recently served as associate product manager, mobile. He will be managing the mobile product launches for NASCAR, including the 2013 smartphone and tablet apps for iOS and Android devices, and the new optimized mobile web experience for NASCAR.com.
Hothem transitions to NASCAR Digital Media after serving as NASCAR's Integrated Marketing Communications director, Sport Services.(NASCAR)(6-30-2012)
NASCAR Announces Plans For State-Of-The-Art Fan and Media Engagement Center: During its NASCAR Fuel for Business Council Meeting Friday in San Francisco, NASCAR announced plans for the development of the Fan and Media Engagement Center (FMEC), a resource that will enable the sport to better serve the industry, media and fans through a platform that facilitates near real-time response to traditional, digital and social media. HP Enterprise Services has been selected as an exclusive partner in the development. NASCAR will design the engagement center in collaboration with HP to be a dynamic tool that is specially tailored to meet the evolving needs of NASCAR's unique industry. In addition to listening to and engaging with fans in real-time around NASCAR content, the center will provide 360-degree traditional media monitoring. The FMEC will provide NASCAR the ability to monitor, analyze and better understand the current media landscape more clearly in order to respond more rapidly to national, local and global media. Measurement also will be a key function of the Fan and Media Engagement Center. Those capabilities will expand across qualitative and quantitative measurements and include tonality, volume, proximity and other coverage attributes in regular reports the FMEC will generate.
NASCAR will work with HP to identify industry-leading third-party partners to deliver data and information into the FMEC. The center will be staffed and managed by the NASCAR Integrated Marketing Communications team and collaborate closely with NASCAR Digital Media. Located on the same floor as NASCAR.com in offices at NASCAR Plaza in Charlotte, N.C., the FMEC is slated for testing in October, with a full rollout expected by the start of the 2013 NASCAR season. The center will be housed in a 500-square-foot, glass-enclosed area, outfitted with state-of-the-art touch screens, television monitors and multiple seated viewing areas and work stations.(NASCAR)(6-23-2012)
NASCAR side skirt and sway bar rules change: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series teams received a technical bulletin today (6/20), outlining the following rule changes effective 6/27:
· Ground clearance for all side skirts has been increased by ½ inch. Right side skirts must have a minimum clearance of 4.5 inches/maximum clearance of 5 inches. Left side skirts must have a minimum clearance of 5 inches/maximum clearance of 5.5 inches. This is the next step in looking at the aero package for intermediate race tracks.
· Both the right and left side rear sway bar arm connecting links must be perpendicular to the ground from all viewing angles when car is at ride height. This is an effort to maintain consistency in rear sway bar setups.(NASCAR)(6-20-2012)
AND Good explanation of the rules change at Building Speed.(6-21-2012)
NASCAR Captures Three Prestigious Marketing Awards For Its Assets, Platforms: Last night at the American Business Awards (ABA's) in New York City, NASCAR won two awards for special events that were created by NASCAR for official partners. NASCAR After The Lap (NATL) won an award for Best Consumer Event, while the NASCAR Fuel for Business Council (NFFB) won for Best Association Event or Meeting. At a separate ceremony held on May 16, NATL also won a Brand Innovators Award for Experiential Marketing. The ABAs were created to recognize and raise public recognition of the achievements and contributions of businesses worldwide. The Brand Innovators Award acknowledges leadership and innovation in brand marketing. NASCAR beat out well-known big brands, such as Cadillac and Nickelodeon to win the award.(NASCAR)(6-20-2012)
NASCAR defends pit road timing system: Roughly a third of the field in last Sunday's Pocono 400 presented by #NASCAR was busted for speeding on pit road. Several drivers received multiple penalties. Among them, the offending drivers collected 22 speeding penalties, eight more than the previous record of 14 doled out at Kansas in 2006. NASCAR vice president of competition Robin Pemberton said NASCAR was satisfied with the way the system worked at Pocono but would take another look before the Sprint Cup Series returns to Pocono in August. "We'll go back and we'll look at the equipment and things," Pemberton said. "All of our inputs were correct. The dimensions (of the pit road segments in which cars are clocked) were correct. We go out of our way to not penalize -- contrary to popular belief. We'll go back and make sure if, for some strange reason, something went wrong, but we haven't seen that. We looked at it all with all our backup systems during the event. We never saw any of that. But we'll go back, just like they (the teams) did, because we want to make sure that everybody's OK."(NASCAR Wire Service)(6-15-2012)
NASCAR confident in pit road timing system: When it came to pit road, all Sunday's Pocono 400 presented by #NASCAR lacked was a fleet of cop cars with flashing lights and sirens. All told, NASCAR handed out 22 pit road speeding penalties, with most offenders clocked too fast at the exit from pit road. That easily eclipsed the Sprint Cup Series record of 14 speeding penalties at Kansas in 2006. #48-Jimmie Johnson was convinced there was something wrong with the final segment (or timing loop) on pit road. Nothing wrong, says NASCAR, just different. NASCAR measures pit road speed from the yellow line at the entrance to pit road to the yellow line at the exit. The full distance is divided into segments, and drivers must average the speed limit (plus a tolerance of 4.99 mph) through each segment.
The 2.5-mile race track was repaved this year, and pit road was lengthened. The number of segments grew from 10 to 11, and the length of the final segment increased from 56 to 83 feet. NASCAR provides specific information on the pit road configuration to any team that wants it. The changes from one year to the next, however, seems to have confounded more than one driver/crew chief combination, but NASCAR stood by the accuracy of its measurements.
"Our position is like it's always been -- yellow line to yellow line," said Robin Pemberton, NASCAR's vice president of competition. "This track's gone under a lot of reconfiguration since last year. It's all brand-new pit road, all brand-new loops. Positions have been changed since last year. Sections are smaller than they were last year throughout pit road -- and actually, the last section's a little bit bigger. But the bottom line is, every week when we go into a race track, there's maps that are printed back here for the crew chiefs to come get. Some choose to get 'em, some choose to measure their own lines, and some go off of last year's measurements."(NASCAR Wire Service)(6-11-2012)
NASCAR won't need restrictor plates at Pocono: Lap times are wicked fast at Pocono Raceway since the 2.5-mile track was repaved last year. However, Robin Pemberton, NASCAR's vice president of competition, doesn't anticipate the need for restrictor plates this weekend. On Thursday, drivers flirted with a total lap speed of 180 mph and cars topped 212 mph entering Turn 1 at Pocono Raceway during the second day of testing. "No, absolutely not," Pemberton said of the prospect of implementing restrictor plates. "We're well within reason here. Average speed is going pretty good, so we're happy. There's a lot of grip here, so there's no reason for that." #11-Denny Hamlin and Pemberton expect the track qualifying record of 172.533 mph set by Kasey Kahne in 2004 to be obliterated Saturday. Pemberton predicted the time will be at least two seconds faster. Kahne led all drivers in Thursday's test session with a top lap of 179.490 mph. And Hamlin, one of the first drivers to experiment with tandem drafting at restrictor-plate track Talladega Superspeedway, anticipates some form of drafting down the straightaway at Pocono. He also believes the corners will be treacherous. However, the latest wrinkle - the distance of Sunday's race was changed from 500 miles to 400 - could have the greatest effect of all.(Fox Sports)(6-8-2012)
#NASCAR goes live at Twitter: Twitter 'flipped the switch' and went live for the first time with its NASCAR hashtag product in preparation for Sunday's Pocono 400 Presented by #NASCAR. The first of its kind with any sports league or organization, this new product will create an enhanced live event experience on Twitter at Twitter.com/#NASCAR. Twitter.com/#NASCAR showcases the best Tweets and photos from NASCAR insiders in an effort to bring the behind-the-scenes story to life for fans during NASCAR race weekends. The page includes Tweets from drivers, pit crew members, families, media, NASCAR representatives and other industry constituencies like race tracks and sponsors. Fans also have an opportunity to see their Tweets featured. Using a combination of sophisticated algorithmic signals and Twitter's editorial curation, Twitter.com/#NASCAR features the highest quality, most engaging content about the race and NASCAR. Behind-the-scenes photos, exclusive content and innovative and original Tweets will likely have the best chance of being featured on this new live event page.(NASCAR)(6-8-2012)
NASCAR considers loosening testing ban: With a new Sprint Cup car coming in 2013 and an effort afoot to improve the product on the track, NASCAR is looking to add additional tests to next year's schedule. The current testing ban was announced at Homestead-Miami Speedway in November 2008 for the following season as part of the sanctioning body's effort at cost containment. Since then, testing has picked up as Goodyear rolls out new tire combinations for existing tracks or after tracks were repaved. However, NASCAR is now considering lightening the ban - if it's amenable to teams. Adding five to seven test dates was one of several topics that have been broached with team "business types," according to vice president of competition Robin Pemberton. "We told them there's a bunch of things we're looking at for next year exactly the way we look at everything at this time of the year, whether it's the testing policies and things like that," Pemberton said. "If they felt like they could talk to their principal parties - if it came up or any ideas that they would be open to or not open to - so we can prepare for 2013." Pemberton says the testing policy is one of the "most reviewed" programs in NASCAR. It's of concern because of a desire to "help maintain a competitive balance in the garage area" without watching the teams go broke in the process.(Fox Sports)(6-2-2012)
Rep. Kissell meets with NC Military Foundation to discuss NASCAR partnership: U.S. Representative Larry Kissell (NC-08) met with members of the North Carolina Military Foundation recently to discuss the growing partnership between the U.S. military and NASCAR, and ways to continue to move that relationship forward. Kissell was joined by Executive Director Lance DeSpain and Deputy Director Kenneth Ratashak for the discussion. "The links between the motorsports industry and our armed forces are far greater than many think," said Kissell. "Whether it's making shared advances in the technologies that help keep both our servicemen and drivers safe during impact, or ways to collaborate on the benefits of cutting edge engine technologies and machinery, there is much for these two entities to talk about. As co-chair of the House Invisible Wounds Caucus, I'm especially interested in the ways we can all come together to best protect individuals from traumatic brain injuries from impact or IED blasts." Lt. General John F. Mulholland Jr. of the U.S. Army Special Operations Command and NASCAR President Mike Helton announced in February an agreement to work together on advances, along with the N.C. Department of Commerce and other state-wide organizations.(Richmond Daily County Journal)(5-24-2012)
NASCAR Signs Memorandum Of Understanding With The EPA: NASCAR and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) entered into a memorandum of understanding (MOU) that provides a framework to encourage greater environmental awareness and adoption of green products and solutions with NASCAR fans and the entire industry. The MOU is a voluntary partnership around education and awareness. The agreement denotes some core areas NASCAR and the EPA will collaborate on moving forward including the following programs: E3: Economy, Energy and Environment; and Design for the Environment (DfE) labeled consumer and commercial products. The MOU, which can be accessed at bit.ly/EPA-NASCAR-mou(pdf), will pave the way for other opportunities and areas of focus for EPA and NASCAR such as sourcing more sustainable concessions at NASCAR events, expanding the use of DfE-labeled chemical products, conserving water, and continuing to grow the promotion and practice of all applicable types of recycling. Through E3, NASCAR and the EPA will work together to foster the adoption of green approaches, address sustainability challenges, and seize opportunities. A continuously greener sport - and NASCAR's supplier network - will have positive economic and environmental impacts that extend far beyond the race track in the communities that NASCAR and the EPA serve.(NASCAR)(5-22-2012)
NASCAR Joins Beyond Sport To Promote Cause-Related Impact: NASCAR announced it has accepted an invitation to join Beyond Sport, a global organization that promotes, develops and supports the use of sport to create positive social change. NASCAR joins a coalition of leagues that includes Major League Baseball (MLB), Major League Soccer (MLS), the National Basketball Association (NBA), the National Football League (NFL), the National Hockey League (NHL) and the Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA) as part of Beyond Sport's wider global network. NASCAR becomes the first motorsports organization to align with Beyond Sport.
Through Beyond Sport, NASCAR joins a movement led by a network of sports leagues that allows the sanctioning body to exchange best practices on community involvement, and to promote the numerous efforts of drivers, race teams, track operators and others within the industry to improve communities and the lives of people. It also provides NASCAR the opportunity to highlight the initiatives of the NASCAR Foundation, NASCAR's Drive for Diversity and NASCAR Green while networking with leagues and their partners around the world.
As a founding supporter of Beyond Sport United, NASCAR Chairman and CEO, Brian France, will join Commissioners from the other major North American leagues as part of the Commissioners' Roundtable at the Beyond Sport United annual gathering, November 13, 2012, at Yankee Stadium in New York. NASCAR also will have a significant presence in London this July, one week prior to the start of the Summer Olympic Games, as a participant in the annual Beyond Sport Summit & Awards, a gathering of global sports, political and business leaders to share ideas and honor the contributions of sport to society.(NASCAR)(5-20-2012)
NASCAR and Twitter team up: NASCAR and Twitter announced a unique digital partnership that will create a new way for the sport's millions of fans to experience what happens inside NASCAR and its teams on race day. Built to support the live race broadcast, this new experience will give fans a complementary insider's view of the action as it unfolds on the track and on Twitter. During a race, when fans click on #NASCAR, search for #NASCAR on Twitter.com or visit twitter.com/#NASCAR, they'll reach a new Twitter experience where they will see the most relevant tweets from their favorite NASCAR drivers, NASCAR families, teams, commentators, celebrities and other racing fans and personalities. NASCAR is the first organization to team with Twitter to create an enhanced live event experience on the Twitter platform. Twitter.com/#NASCAR will be available starting with the Pocono Raceway race weekend and will be most active on Sunday, June 10 in conjunction with TNT's first of six television broadcasts of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season. More details surrounding this new partnership and the June 10 product launch will be available in the days and weeks ahead from Twitter, NASCAR and TNT.(NASCAR), check out Jayski.com's twitter at @jayski_nascar. (5-19-2012)
Jim Hunter inducted in South Carolina Athletic Hall of Fame: He was loyal and compassionate and tough, a teacher and counselor and promoter, one of the rare who influenced so many in a positive way. Those words describe the late Jim Hunter, who, yes, in his younger days, walked on the wild side, too. But more than nouns or adjectives or verbs can say, he was Darlington. Yes, that Darlington, the race track that annually stages one of the state's oldest and most captivating sports spectacles. The timing is perfect: Another Southern 500, this one the first sponsored by Bojangles', unfolded Saturday night at Darlington - Jim Hunter's Darlington - and 48 hours later he will be among the inductees into the South Carolina Athletic Hall of Fame in ceremonies [Monday night]. Hunter's career included stops at Columbia and Atlanta newspapers, public relations director for Darlington and Talladega speedway and in NASCAR administration before the International Speedway Corporation sent him to oversee the company's new purchase, Darlington Raceway. Eventually, the racing powers needed Hunter more at headquarters than at one race track and brought him to Daytona Beach as vice-president for communications. Essentially, he became the face of NASCAR.(The State)(5-15-2012)
NASCAR to implement new rules for less downforce: Trying to reduce downforce and the chance of cars becoming airborne, NASCAR will implement a pair of rules changes for Sprint Cup teams that may also produce more passing. One change will go into effect starting next week at Charlotte Motor Speedway. The side skirts-the body of the car between the wheels-will be higher above the ground, meaning more air will run underneath the car. Currently, the skirts must be 3 to 4.5 inches off the ground on both sides of the car. Starting next week, they must be 4 to 4.5 inches off the ground on the right side and 4.5 to 5 inches on the left side. Teams tested with the shorter side skirts during recent Goodyear tire tests. For tracks 2 miles or larger, NASCAR will use its longer "shark fin"-a panel that runs alongside the rear window and decklid of the car-that has been used at Daytona and Talladega to keep cars from getting airborne. On the short tracks, it will remain a minimum 17 inches long while they must reach all the way from the top of the car to the spoiler on tracks 2 miles or longer. This also will decrease the potential of car liftoff, which could have been an issue at some of the most recently repaved tracks-the 2.5-mile track at Pocono and 2-mile track at Michigan.(Sporting News)(5-12-2012)
UPDATE: Tuesday's [NASCAR technical] bulletin, which contained a laundry list of rule changes in eight areas, was significant enough that crew chiefs immediately began booking wind tunnel time. Of greatest interest was the shortening of the side skirts on the Cup cars, designed to create greater ground clearance. NASCAR also has mandated use of superspeedway-sized stationary air deflectors (commonly known as "shark fins") on all tracks of two miles or more. According to Robin Pemberton, NASCAR's vice president of competition, the rule changes were inspired by work on the 2013 car, with an eye toward raising the speeds at which a car will lift off and become airborne. One byproduct of the shortening of the side skirts will be a loss of downforce and a possible decrease in the stability of the cars in traffic. Just how much downforce the Cup cars will lose is an open question, and there's no firm consensus among crew chiefs as to what the number will be, even though several teams already have tested the changes in wind tunnels and during a Goodyear tire test at New Hampshire earlier this week. There's also a consensus that the changes to the side skirts will force changes to the suspensions of the cars -- particularly to the rear suspensions -- as crew chiefs try to recreate the "seal" (or close proximity) between the side skirts and the pavement as a method to recover downforce.(NASCAR Wire Service)(5-13-2012)
Driver sues NASCAR, "too Caucasian'? An aspiring stock-car driver is suing NASCAR, claiming he was denied the opportunity to compete in NASCAR's diversity program because he looks "too Caucasian." NASCAR argues that in trying to change the "face" of the sport, it has the right to select drivers for its diversity program based on skin color, attorneys for the sanctioning body and its former diversity program administrators have told a U.S. District court. Michael Rodriguez, a driver from Pennsylvania, says in his complaint filed in U.S. District Court that he was denied the opportunity to compete in the 2005 and 2006 Drive For Diversity combines. Rodriguez is suing NASCAR and Access Communications, which operated NASCAR's diversity program from its inception in 2004 until 2008 and conducted the combines that are designed for teams in NASCAR's regional series to scout minority drivers. NASCAR's Drive for Diversity program was created to develop minority drivers and crewmen and help them advance through the NASCAR ranks with the goal of reaching the sport's top series. Since 2004, the program has included 41 drivers, with most being selected multiple times. There currently are six drivers in the program racing in various NASCAR regional series.(full article at the Sporting News)(4-20-2012)
Heading Into Earth Day, NASCAR Releases 'White Paper' On Green: NASCAR issued a 'White Paper' detailing the various programs that have made NASCAR a leader in green initiatives across all sports. The data in "The Sports Leader in Sustainability"* illustrates the steps NASCAR has taken in educating fans, reducing the sport's environmental impact, and validating green technologies - both on and off the track. This past weekend in Texas, NASCAR eclipsed the two-million mile mark running on Sunoco Green E15 since the seamless transition to the new fuel in February 2011. NASCAR Sprint Cup Series engines have been operating at an even greater level of efficiency due, in part, to NASCAR's transition to electronic fuel injection this year. NASCAR's release of the 'White Paper' is timed to Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race in Kansas taking place on Earth Day. NASCAR, Kansas Speedway and several of NASCAR's Official Partners will be showcasing many of the environmental sustainability programs that take place each week at race tracks across the country - not just on Earth Day. Among those activities happening at Kansas include:
· NASCAR's premier series entitlement sponsor, Sprint, will implement "Recycle for Victory" - a wireless recycling program that benefits charity;
· The backstretch of the track will be painted green thanks to NASCAR Official Partner American Ethanol;
· NASCAR Official Partners Coca-Cola and Coors Light will educate fans on the benefits of recycling and encouraging them to drop plastic bottles and aluminum cans in designated bins;
· A new 30-second television spot about the NASCAR Green platform will air during Sunday's NASCAR on FOX national broadcast at 1 p.m.;
· The NASCAR Green logo will appear in the infield grass for the first time at a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event;
· The pace car for the STP 400 is a Toyota Camry Hybrid and will carry the NASCAR Green logo on its trunk lid;
· NASCAR and Kansas Speedway will donate 10 trees to the Gov. Jay Nixon's Governor's Joplin Challenge for every green flag that is dropped over the weekend;
· Miss Sprint Cup will wear a green fire suit throughout the weekend in support of the environment;
· Every race vehicle on the track this weekend will run on Sunoco Green E15, further validating the environmentally responsible high-performance racing fuel.
Stewart, 2011 Chase meet with the President: Three-time and reigning NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Tony Stewart will be honored by President Barack Obama at the White House on Tuesday, April 17 [approx 4:20pm/et]. The event also will include NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France and each member of the 2011 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup field: Carl Edwards, Kevin Harvick, Matt Kenseth, Brad Keselowski, Jimmie Johnson, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jeff Gordon, Denny Hamlin, Ryan Newman, Kurt Busch and Kyle Busch. This event will be livestreamed at www.whitehouse.gov/live.(NASCAR)(4-12/17-2012)
UPDATE: Reigning NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Tony Stewart and his fellow 2011 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series contenders changed their attire - from standard fire suits to business suits - for their annual visit to the White House on Tuesday.
President Barak Obama honored Stewart for capturing his third Sprint Cup Series title and celebrating the other 11 drivers who qualified for NASCAR's postseason last year. Speaking from the South Lawn, the President addressed the 12 drivers, honored quests and dignitaries in attendance in an approximate 4-minute speech. He thanked NASCAR CEO Brian France and NASCAR President Mike Helton for their leadership, NASCAR's commitment and support of the military, singled out driver Jimmie Johnson's unparalleled achievement of claiming five consecutive championships and 2011 Sprint Cup runner-up Carl Edwards's sportsmanship in the aftermath of falling just short of winning the title in the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway last November, which was attended by First Lady Michelle Obama.
But, The President saved his best material in addressing Stewart, playing tribute to the 2011 champion's heart, attitude and determination as last season's regular season was coming to a close and Stewart on the postseason bubble. "Nobody saw it coming," said President Obama. "We've all heard about athletes who say they're going to do what it takes to win it all, but back in August with the season winding down, Tony predicted he wouldn't be able to pull it off. In fact, he said if he did end up winning the championship, and this is a quote, 'I'll declare I'm a total bumbling idiot.' But I think Tony's hero, the great AJ Foyt, put it best when he said the reason Tony won is because 'he drove the best race of his life, period.'"
Stewart's day started early with a behind-the-scenes tour of the iconic 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue residence and a meet-and-greet with the President. The champion roamed the famous halls and stepped foot in rooms frequented by the first family, including the East Room, the Library and more before heading to the South Lawn, where he was joined by fellow drivers Johnson, Edwards, Kevin Harvick, Matt Kenseth, Brad Keselowski, Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Jeff Gordon, Denny Hamlin, Ryan Newman, Kurt Busch and Kyle Busch. The day ended with "Smoke" engaging in small talk with Obama by his No. 14 Chevrolet, which was prominently positioned off to the side of the podium.(NASCAR)(4-18-2012)
New C-Post template to debut at 'Dega: NASCAR will add a new template to its inspection process when teams go through tech May 4 at Talladega Superspeedway. It's a template inspired by Hendrick Motorsports and five-time Cup champion Jimmie Johnson's team. Starting May 4-6 at Talladega, NASCAR will begin using an additional template for the C-post, the area of the car from the roof to the top of the rear quarter panel.(Sporting News)(4-13-2012)
Stewart, 2011 Chase drivers to meet with President: Three-time and reigning NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Tony Stewart will be honored by President Barack Obama at the White House on Tuesday, April 17 [approx 4:20pm/et]. The event also will include NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France and each member of the 2011 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup field: Carl Edwards, Kevin Harvick, Matt Kenseth, Brad Keselowski, Jimmie Johnson, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jeff Gordon, Denny Hamlin, Ryan Newman, Kurt Busch and Kyle Busch. This event will be livestreamed at www.whitehouse.gov/live.(NASCAR)(4-12-2012)
NASCAR President defends appeals process: NASCAR president Mike Helton said he believes in the sport's rules inspectors and the overall appeals process, despite the decision Tuesday that overturned most of the penalties imposed on Jimmie Johnson's #48 Chevy from a body-alignment issue at Daytona last month. "We think the decision made this week supports the inspection process with the elements of the penalty that were upheld," Helton said Friday at Auto Club Speedway. "It indicates they did their job correctly." NASCAR originally penalized the #48 team 25 points and suspended both crew chief Chad Knaus and car chief Ron Malec for six races, along with fining Knaus $100,000. Before the car went on the track at Daytona, inspectors said the C-posts (on each side of the rear window) were not within the tolerances of the rule book, but the car was not measured on the templates. Both Knaus and Malec were allowed to continue working races while the penalty was appealed by Hendrick Motorsports. A three-man appeals panel held up the penalties two weeks ago, but most of the penalties were rescinded Tuesday by chief appellate officer John Middlebrook, a former GM executive who has the final say in the appeals process. The points and the suspensions were eliminated by Middlebrook, but the fine was upheld. Helton said the fact that the fine was upheld proves that NASCAR inspectors discovered a violation. "Elements of the penalty were upheld based on parts of the car that did not conform to the rules," Helton said. "The debate was how we reacted to it. That's as much a bureaucratic decision as it is a competition decision." Middlebrook has not spoken publicly about his reasons for greatly reducing the penalty. The surprising decision by Middlebrook has caused some people to wonder if changes are needed in the inspection or appeals process, but Helton said NASCAR has no plans to do so.(ESPN)(3-23-2012)
Some divers not big on fans attending drivers meeting: Chatter Friday at Bristol Motor Speedway from the drivers was that fan interaction may have gone too far last week at Las Vegas when fans were allowed to be a part of the drivers' pre-race meeting with NASCAR officials. "I don't like it," Dale Earnhardt Jr. said. "I like the drivers' meeting to be with the drivers and the crew chiefs, and about the race. It has become less and less about that. It has to be cool for a fan to be able to have that kind of access. I think there is probably a way to give them that kind of access without going to the lengths that they went to at Vegas." Matt Kenseth said the drivers' meetings have been going further and further away from their original purpose for years. "It hasn't been for a long time a true drivers' meeting in the true sense of the word," he said. "Nobody is going to raise their hand and ask a question in that environment. They have been letting more and more people in and I remember when we used to do it my first couple years in the series we did it in the scoring stand at Charlotte and you could barely get the drivers and crew chiefs in there," he said. "That is all it was. It was never a media event or a fan event."(Bristol Herald Courier)(3-17-2012)
NASCAR still a few weeks away from releasing EFI data: Sprint Cup Series director John Darby said on Friday at Bristol Motor Speedway that officials remain a few weeks from releasing EFI data and determining exactly what data will be released. But Darby was skeptical that the information, regardless of what is released, will help one driver improve on restarts. "It's not about what a guy is doing with his throttle on a restart," Darby said. "It's more about how the fuel maps and the original run tables that were set up for the race. The purpose of it is to help educate the entire garage on what's good for fuel strategies and what's not. It's not about pinpointing every time someone stepped on the brake. Or when somebody had their foot to the floor. They can get that off the TV telemetry now." Darby said the data collection should be completed in a few weeks, giving teams a sample of a restrictor plate race, two short tracks and a couple of mile-and-a-half tracks. "Once we get the tables like we want them, we'd be able to send every race,'' Darby said. "Typically, we download everything sitting on pit road after the race."
Darby acknowledged there have been minor issues with EFI through the first three races, but nothing to set off alarms. He said Brad Keselowski's issue at Las Vegas was a failed fuel pump. "We've got out of the habit of blanketing fuel injection, because it's almost as bad as saying did he have a problem with his race car," Darby said. "He had a fuel pump fail. Well, we had fuel pumps today and fuel pumps with carburetors. I'm a little defensive probably because everything wants to fall in the lap of fuel injection, where 99 percent of the problems that we've had up to this point in the year have nothing to do with fuel injection."(ESPN)(3-17-2012)
NASCAR's Brooks Leaving in May: Paul Brooks, senior vice president of NASCAR and president of NASCAR Media Group, is leaving the company on May 4, 2012, to focus on a variety of personal and outside business interests. Brooks, who has been with NASCAR for 19 years, will continue as a senior advisor to the company in key areas, including broadcasting, media strategy and innovation. Among his most important contributions at NASCAR, Brooks was on the initial team that developed NASCAR's long-term consolidated television and new media agreements with FOX, FX, NBC, Turner and NASCAR TV on SPEED, and later, agreements with ABC/ESPN. Brooks also is credited with leading NASCAR's efforts to become the first professional sports league to launch a 24-hour satellite radio channel with NASCAR Radio on XM Satellite and later transitioning to Sirius Satellite Radio. In one of the largest sponsor partnerships in sports, Brooks was a key member of the negotiating team that brought Sprint-Nextel into the sport as title sponsor to what was then the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series and is now the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. Brooks, 47, and his wife, Kelly, have a daughter, Olivia, and a son, Kasey, and they will continue to live in Charlotte, N.C.(NASCAR)(3-13-2012)
Sportvision extends partnership with NASCAR: Sportvision, Inc., partner of NASCAR since 2000 and the leading innovator of digital sports content, broadcast enhancements and tracking data, announced that it has extended its partnership with Emmy Award-winning NASCAR Media Group as the exclusive tracking partner for NASCAR-sanctioned events through the 2018 racing season. Sportvision's RACEf/x technology, the most advanced tracking technology created for televised sports, is now utilized in all three NASCAR national series after expanding to the Truck Series in 2012. Like Sprint Cup Series and Nationwide Series cars, the trucks are equipped with Vector II tracking devices. These devices are the latest generation of Sportvision RACEf/x technology and the first to utilize both Global Positioning Satellites (GPS) and Global Navigation Satellite System (GLONASS) satellite navigation systems. The technology debuted in the Sprint Cup Series at the 2001 Daytona 500 and was introduced to the Nationwide Series in 2007. This patented, state-of-the-art technology tracks the cars at speeds reaching 200 MPH to create a complete "digital record" of a NASCAR race in real-time. With the addition, SPEED will now highlight a full slate of broadcast graphics during Truck Series broadcasts and the technology will continue to be an integral component utilized by other NASCAR broadcast partners through 2018.(NASCAR)(3-6-2012)
NASCAR to use extra pace car behind jet dryers: NASCAR officials announced a change to have an extra pace car with flashing lights behind the last jet-dryer truck on the track in all races in all three series -- Sprint Cup, Nationwide and the Camping World Trucks Series. The change, which was explained to the Sprint Cup teams during the drivers' meeting Sunday morning at Phoenix International Raceway, comes after Juan Pablo Montoya's car spun into a jet-dryer truck during a caution period in the Daytona 500 Monday night. The drivers of the jet-dryer trucks also will wear helmets and fire suits during each race, but that is a change agreed upon by officials at race tracks that play host to NASCAR events, not a rule instituted by NASCAR.(ESPN)(3-5-2012)
Open Letter to NASCAR fans from NASCAR Chairman Brian France: Dear NASCAR fans,
With the Daytona 500 now upon us, I hope you are as excited as I am to see the greatest drivers in the world competing at Daytona International Speedway later today. NASCAR is in a very good place right now and our entire industry is working very hard for you, the fans, as we continually seek to improve and grow our sport. Indeed, we are listening to you, as several enhancements that have been put in place in recent years were a direct result of your input.
Thank you for your on-going support and enthusiasm, the way you whole-heartedly embrace NASCAR and how you share your passion for our sport with family, friends and others you encounter each and every day. We certainly were encouraged by the excitement generated by our 2011 season and look forward to enjoying this season together as one NASCAR Nation. On behalf of the France family, I want to personally express our appreciation for your support, and join you in anticipation of the thrilling ride ahead.
Best regards, Brian France.(2-26-2012)
Roush would like teams to get mulligans: Jack Roush, co-owner of Roush Fenway Racing [#'s 6,16,17,99], has one suggestion to spice up the Sprint Cup season and Chase for the Sprint Cup championship. Give each team a do-over. "Think about giving each team a mulligan," Roush said. "Have one race you can throw out for each team during the first 26 races and one for the 10 races (in the Chase). That would mean, until you use your mulligan, you could run with great dispatch and lack of restraint, much like you had last Saturday night in the Budweiser Shootout. That wasn't a points race and everybody said, 'Let's throw caution to the wind and see what we've got here.' You'd see the races a little more exciting if they could discount one as they made their strategies."(Kansas City Star)(2-26-2012)
NASCAR's Most Valuable Teams: The top nine NASCAR teams are evualated by Forbes:
1) Hendrick Motorsports $350 million
2) Roush Fenway Racing $185 million
3) Joe Gibbs Racing $155 million
4) Richard Childress Racing $147 million
5) Stewart-Haas Racing $108 million
6) Penske Racing $98 million
7) Michael Waltrip Racing $90 million
8) Earnhardt Ganassi Racing $76 million
9) Richard Petty Motorsports $58 million
(see full story and more at forbes.com.(2-25-2012)
2011 Highest paid drivers: Forbes.com estimated 2011 NASCAR driver annual earnings, Forbes earnings figures include driving salaries, personal endorsements, share of race winnings, licensing income and bonuses. The top-10:
1. Dale Earnhardt Jr. - $28 million
2. Jeff Gordon - $24 million
3. Tony Stewart - $22 million
4. Jimmie Johnson - $21 million
5. Carl Edwards - $15.5 million
6. Kevin Harvick - $14 million
7. Kyle Busch - $14 million
8. Danica Patrick - $12 million [indy car]
9. Matt Kenseth - $11.5 million
10. Kasey Kahne - $11 million
(See more at Forbes.com)(2-24-2012)
NASCAR Propels Giants To Super Bowl Victory: Sunday,in the Daytona 500 of Football, the New York Giants defeated the New England Patriots, employing a thrilling, breathtaking and awe-inspiring defensive package named after a thrilling, breathtaking and awe-inspiring sport - NASCAR. The moniker, and its genesis, makes sense. Think about it... DE Justin Tuck went to college at Notre Dame, a quick three-hour drive from Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Look at him during a game, dancing here - then there - behind the line of scrimmage. Aren't his shimmies - which often result in a spike of some poor quarterback - reminiscent of Darrell Waltrip in Daytona International Speedway's Victory Lane after winning The Great American Race in 1989? Then watch the swim move from DE Osi Umenyiora, whose college (Troy University) sits about a two-and-a-half hour drive from big Talladega Superspeedway. His go-to move: Juking right, swatting a helpless defender away, and launching left. Can't you envision a similar slingshot maneuver on Lap 200 on Feb. 26? And now everyone's down with JPP - DE Jason Pierre-Paul. He went to school at the University of South Florida, near NASCAR's bookend tracks - Daytona and Homestead-Miami Speedway. His specialty: Off the block speed, every single play. If the NFL had an American Ethanol Fastest on the Restart Award (they don't, but NASCAR does), he'd win it every game. No wonder the Giants nicknamed its all-out pass rush after the world's most competitive form of motorsports. "We came up with NASCAR; we call it our speed package," Giants defensive end Justin Tuck, who notched two sacks last night, told ESPN. "Why do we call it that? All of us compete about who's the fastest and who gets to the quarterback the fastest. So NASCAR's just something that felt right." Among the NASCAR drivers who attended Super Bowl XLVI were Jeff Gordon, Kyle Busch, Clint Bowyer, Kasey Kahne, Austin and Ty Dillon.(NASCAR)(2-7-2012)
NASCAR and Turner restructure and extend digital partnership: UPDATE: NASCAR and Turner Sports announced a restructuring and extension of their long-standing digital partnership. The new agreement takes the relationship through 2016, with NASCAR managing business and editorial operations for its digital platforms beginning in 2013 and Turner Sports continuing to oversee advertising sales and sponsorships across NASCAR-branded digital platforms. Under the new partnership, NASCAR will assume operational control in 2013 of all of its interactive, digital and social media rights including technical operations and infrastructure of all NASCAR digital platforms. Turner will continue to represent sponsorships and advertising for all NASCAR digital platforms, with the unique users from the NASCAR digital properties continuing to roll up to the Turner digital portfolio. NASCAR's comprehensive digital and social media portfolio includes NASCAR.COM. NASCAR.COM, and the sport's other digital and social media platforms, have been managed by Turner Sports since 2001.(NASCAR)(1-30-212)
UPDATE: In a phone interview Monday, NASCAR Vice President of Digital Media Marc Jenkins said NASCAR is at the "tail end" of the process of thinking of what it wants to do with its website. He said NASCAR is working toward having several camera angles for fans to watch a race on the website, like what was done during the Chase For The Sprint Cup on the current website. "That drives a better fan experience when watching the race," Jenkins said. "In my mind, more important than just a pure stream of the race broadcast is the alternate camera angles, it's the dynamic leaderboard, it's the [car] data, it's all those things that help people enjoy the race more." Jenkins said they also hope the NASCAR site will help drive traffic to the drivers' websites and could offer a content management system teams and drivers could use in production of their websites.(Scene Daily)
AND: The lack of an iPhone app for the sport has been a glaring, gaping hole in the interactive experience. "I can assure you it will be an important thing for us moving forward," NASCAR chief marketing officer Steve Phelps said last week. "Whether we have it for '12 or not, it's probably not something that's going to happen. But digital and social media is going to be a major plank for us as a sport. It's going to be a way for us to engage our fans, candidly, in a way we've never been able to before. We think our sport lends itself (to an app) as well as any sport - maybe better - because of the community nature and social nature of the sport. It clearly is coming." But fans may begin to see changes in the app world even earlier than expected. Tim Considine, Sprint's director of sports marketing, told SB Nation in a statement Monday: "Sprint is working with its internal partners to develop NASCAR Sprint Cup Mobile for the iPhone, with an expected launch in the first half of the 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season."(SB Nation)(1-31-2012)
No more 'secret' fines by NASCAR UPDATE: NASCAR will no longer fine its teams and drivers without making the fines public, the governing body announced Wednesday. NASCAR was criticized harshly last season after fining Brad Keselowski $25,000 for publicly criticizing NASCAR's switch to fuel injection and never making the fine public. The existence of the fine was uncovered by a media outlet and later confirmed by the Penske Racing driver. Other drivers have said they were fined in secret. Denny Hamlin was fined in 2010 for suggesting on Twitter that NASCAR issues phantom caution flags during races. Ryan Newman was fined that same season for critical comments about the racing at Talladega Superspeedway after a major wreck. NASCAR chairman Brian France said during the 2011 season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway he would look into the issue and consider a change. It came on Wednesday. "NASCAR will no longer issue fines that are undisclosed,'' the governing body said in a statement. "We looked at this issue from every angle and gathered feedback from the industry. While there are always sensitivities related to sponsor relationships and other leagues may continue issuing disclosed and undisclosed fines, NASCAR has decided that all fines moving forward will be made public after the competitor or organization that has been penalized has been informed.''(ESPN.com)(1-26-2012)
UPDATE: NASCAR CEO Brian France said Thursday the sanctioning body still would fine its members for disparaging the sport in the wake of abolishing its policy of private punishments. "If you challenge the integrity of the sport, we're going to deal with that," France said. "What's really interesting is I can't tell you how many owners or drivers come up to me and say, 'Thanks for doing that because some of these comments were irresponsible and unhelpful to growing the sport.' Now, having said that, you can be critical of things you don't think we're doing well, in particular a race call. You can say, 'I don't think I was speeding; I disagree with that.' We understand that. It's when you go after the integrity of the sport is where we will step in, and they will be public." In the past two years, Denny Hamlin, Brad Keselowski and Ryan Newman were punished for making comments (or in Hamlin's case, posting on Twitter) that NASCAR deemed detrimental to its brand. Keselowski privately was fined $25,000 for criticizing the switch to fuel injection during a fan forum at the NASCAR Hall of Fame last November. When news of the penalty leaked, it drew plenty of derision from fans and news media. "In terms of going public with it, we didn't have a real strong position on that," France said. "It seemed to bother some people in November when we talked about this. So we didn't feel strongly (about the fines being private). If (making them public) is something that people think is a good thing, we were happy to do it."(USA Today)(1-28-2012)
NASCAR to re-evaluate 'boys have at it' policy: NASCAR officials plan to re-evaluate its "boys have at it" policy going into the 2012 season and could strengthen its stance against drivers retaliating on the track. NASCAR loosened the reins on drivers in 2010, allowing them to police themselves on the track and retaliate when they believed another driver had intentionally wrecked them. The incidents intensified in 2011, and NASCAR officials acknowledged that things might have gotten out of hand near the end of the season. "We reflect on that at the end of the year and the season hasn't started yet, but there are some things that a group of us will sit down and talk about, and that is one of them," NASCAR Vice President of Competition Robin Pemberton said Thursday. "There were times that it got out of hand, and we're going to discuss what out of hand really is moving forward." Pemberton said he doesn't believe the trend of retaliation in general got out of hand, although specific incidents may have crossed the line. Pemberton, who coined the phrase "boys have at it" in 2010, believes NASCAR's original position of allowing drivers to police themselves still works. "It's working pretty well. It goes in stages," he said. "It works pretty well, then somebody gets outside the box and everybody gets the message and it goes back to working pretty well. But we can't take all of that for granted."(SceneDaily)(1-27-2012)
NASCAR's Brian France Says 'Sport Is In A Very Good Place': NASCAR and its stakeholders intend to build on the success of 2011 as the new season begins with the Feb. 26 Daytona 500 and other Speedweeks events at Daytona International Speedway. In his State of NASCAR remarks delivered during the NASCAR Sprint Media Tour hosted by Charlotte Motor Speedway on Thursday, NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France said, "The sport is in a very good place and we're going to work even harder to achieve the very best things for the sport of NASCAR well into the future." France pointed to initiatives begun a year ago - a simplified points structure in all three national series and a "Wild Card" twist in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup that placed a greater emphasis on race victories - which culminated in what France called "a championship battle that will be talked about for decades to come." While the 2012 season will be one of continuity rather than major change, NASCAR will introduce electronic fuel injection into the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and implement rules designed to restore traditional "pack racing" at Daytona International Speedway and Talladega Superspeedway. "We have had a breathtaking number of close finishes at those tracks, but the fans want a mixture of styles including a return to a more traditional 'pack racing' and that close side-by-side competition that's unique to Talladega and Daytona," France said. "NASCAR and the teams are working hard on this and based on the test earlier this month, we're encouraged that we're making progress." France also said the sanctioning body continues to operate on a more collaborative method of maintaining and growing the industry by taking into consideration the thoughts and needs of teams, tracks, media partners and especially its fans. "The goal of this effort is to help us better serve our great fans, grow our audience and ensure that our sport stays relevant, vibrant and highly-valuable to sponsors and other partners critical to the health of NASCAR," said France. "The industry has never been more united in growing the sport." France said the organization is "very encouraged" by increased television ratings across its three national series - NASCAR Sprint Cup, NASCAR Nationwide and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. He also pointed to attendance gains at a number of venues. "While we are still in a tough economic climate that is still difficult, we are pleased with some positive steps we saw last year," he said. France and Robin Pemberton, NASCAR's vice president, competition and racing development, touched on how EFI and the introduction in 2013 of re-styled NASCAR Sprint Cup cars from Chevrolet, Dodge, Ford and Toyota will make the sport more relevant to manufacturers and technology companies. "EFI excites the manufacturers and technology companies," said France, responding to questioning about NASCAR's embrace of technology. "To attract new companies (to the sport), we've had to take a little different view of that." Ford earlier this week unveiled its 2013 Fusion prototype with the other OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) to follow in the near future. A closed test of the cars is scheduled early next month with additional testing to follow before final specifications are drawn.(NASCAR)(1-27-2012)
NASCAR starting Speedweeks with restrictor plate that ended test: NASCAR will return to Daytona International Speedway in February with the same restrictor plate that it left with when testing ended earlier this month. Teams were informed Friday of the rules configuration for Daytona, which includes a restrictor plate with holes 29/32nds of an inch in diameter. In hopes of limiting the use of the two-car draft used by the Sprint Cup cars during the Daytona 500, NASCAR officials have made changes that they hope would result in overheating if the two-car draft is used for an extended period of time during the race. The biggest change is the rear bumper has been moved two inches closer to the ground. Teams will have a front grille opening of 50 square inches - it was 40 square inches by the time testing ended last week at the 2.5-mile trioval. The radiator pressure release valve will be set at 25 psi, the same as it was when teams left Daytona on the final afternoon of testing.(Scene Daily)(1-23-2012)
France talks NASCAR Issues: NASCAR CEO Brian France recently sat down for an interview with Broadcasting & Cable that covered a variety of subjects:
You say you're pretty aggressive about what your TV partners need to do for NASCAR. What do you want from them?
We are always the sport that is under-covered given the ratings and size of the events. In particular, ESPN. They just have so many platforms. So we are pushing real hard with them to have a more integrated approach. We have hired people to service them better, so we can help them accomplish that. They have the most assets to be deployed; it doesn't mean everyone else doesn't have some big ones and good ones. We are going to work to make them a better partner.
Your TV deals are up in 2014, but when do your negotiating windows open with your current partners?
Not for a little while, but we are having conversations, because a lot of our partners have been clear they would prefer to renew. All things being equal, our first hope is that the incumbents do renew. . . I think [talks] could heat up at any time, that's my sense. It's not cold now, we are having conversations, my sense is things will happen sooner rather than later, and sooner than they normally would in a cycle of renewals.
Are you going to change the post-season Chase format?
I think I'd be shot if I changed the format, frankly. We are not going to change the format.
How much does it hurt that Dale Earnhardt Jr., your most marketable driver, doesn't win races?
It hurts. It hurts. He is trying to win and get his team to have the confidence to not only win one but rip off more. He did improve and made the Chase, he's a big franchise, he's the most popular driver in NASCAR, so it would help us if he would win.
Everyone talks about creating superstars, but does your sport need villains?
I think some version of a villain, yeah. I think you need people that no one cheers for, I think that's healthy. But there are limits to that. It's great when there is someone that acts different, has a little bit of bravado, that typically is good.(Broadcasting & Cable)(1-18-2012)
NASCAR close to finalizing Daytona package: Sprint Cup preseason testing ended at Daytona International Speedway Saturday afternoon with NASCAR saying it has a good handle on a workable rules package for February Speedweeks. Officials made numerous modifications during three days of testing at the 2.5-mile track with the aim of lessening driver dependence on the tandem drafting that have ruled racing at Daytona and Talladega in recent events. NASCAR and track officials seemed pleased with the results of the three days after drivers ran in single-car, double-car and pack formations. NASCAR compiled stacks of data during the test runs and expects to issue a final rules package for Speedweeks soon. There is the expectation that Speedweeks events - particularly the featured Feb. 26 Daytona 500 - will see more traditional pack racing and less tandem drafting, although the cars' setups remain such that the two-car draft could decide the race over the closing laps.(SPEED)(1-15-2012)
NASCAR moving forward with 2013 cars: The 2012 season hasn't even started, but the move toward new car models in 2013 is well under way. Manufacturers that compete in NASCAR's premier series have targeted next year to roll out new vehicles that will provide the carmakers with more brand identity on the race track. That process will gain speed during the next month or so, beginning with wind-tunnel tests and eventually an on-track session sometime later in 2012, according to the sanctioning body. "We'll be in the wind tunnel over the next 30, 45 days with the new prototypes as we do our evaluations on the submission cars, parts and pieces," Robin Pemberton, NASCAR's vice president for competition, said Friday at Preseason Thunder. "Everybody seems to be pretty far along, and the changes that will come out of those will be based on parity due to the wind-tunnel numbers. We're optimistic that there will be some real race cars on race tracks probably in the second quarter this year doing some evaluation runs, if not before then. NASCAR president Mike Helton praised the cooperation between the carmakers, which decided with the sanctioning body's blessing to redesign the cars for next season.(NASCAR.com)(1-14-2012)
Helton doesn't expect short fields: There are 32 cars participating in this test at Daytona International Speedway. That number does not include some teams that folded during the offseason (such as Red Bull), some smaller outfits (such as Front Row Motorsports) and some that decided not to test (such as JTG Daugherty Racing). [NASCAR President Mike] Helton said he didn't think the number of teams participating in the test portended short fields for the regular season. "I think there is a good deal more activity out there than is represented by testing and some of the other things," he said, "and the fact that there will be in excess of 43 cars trying to make the Daytona 500 ... and we've been through cycles, particularly when we get to the June, July stretch, where we may only have 43 cars show up at the race track. But I don't see us going below 43 this year. I may be surprised, but I think just knowing the chatter and the conversations that we've had with race teams and organizations that either have participated or are going to participate, that we'll have full fields."(NASCAR.com)(1-14-2012)
NASCAR makes more rule changes: UPDATE - additional changes: If NASCAR's objective was to eliminate tandem drafting at restrictor-plate racetracks, it remains a work in progress, based on Thursday's first Preseason Thunder test session at Daytona International Speedway. Accordingly, in a meeting with crew chiefs at approximately 5:30 p.m. Thursday, NASCAR announced additional modifications to a restrictor-plate competition package that already had undergone major changes in the offseason. Even though Kyle Busch topped the speed chart in Thursday afternoon's Preseason Thunder test session at Daytona International Speedway at 202.402 mph-in a tandem draft with Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Joey Logano-NASCAR will make the cars faster, less stable and more prone to overheating on Friday. The sanctioning body increased the diameter of restrictor-plate openings 1/32nd of an inch to 15/16ths inches, adding an estimated 26 horsepower to the engines. In addition, NASCAR has lowered the pressure relief valve settings from 30 pounds per square inch to 25 psi and narrowed the grille openings of the cars, thereby decreasing airflow to the engine. Both measures are designed to decrease the number of laps one car can push another without overheating.(Sporting News)(1-12-2012)
UPDATE: NASCAR announced more changes for Sprint Cup Series teams after the second day of testing at Daytona International Speedway on Friday. Teams will receive a smaller restrictor plate with an opening of 29/32nd of an inch, down from 15/16ths, to decrease the amount of air intake to the engine. The radiator opening was shrunk from 3.5-by-18 inches to 2-by-20 inches, or from 63 square inches to 40. And the pressure relief valve is now 21 pounds per square inch from the 25psi they used Friday. The top speed in Friday's test session was set 90 minutes into the afternoon by Kurt Busch. He ran a 206.058-mph average lap working in tandem with his regular drafting partner, Regan Smith. Busch hit 210.9 mph down the backstretch, the fastest portion of the track.(Fox Sports)(1-13-2012)
Drivers prohibited from communicating with each other over radio: NASCAR has mandated that drivers and spotters will not be allowed to communicate with other drivers over their in-car radios in an ongoing effort to eliminate tandem racing at restrictor plate tracks. The decision was confirmed Thursday as teams prepared for the first of a three-day test at Daytona International Speedway, a tune-up for the Feb. 26 Daytona 500. Over the past few years, as teams have refined their ability to team up with other cars to create more speed, drivers and spotters have had the ability to talk to multiple teams over their radios. They used it to coordinate which cars would pair up and to help drivers switch from pusher to pushee. By eliminating such communication, NASCAR hopes teams will have a more difficult time making deals and remaining in pairs. The driver pushing especially needs this communication because he has little to no visibility. It was so refined that one spotter would communicate for both drivers even if one of the drivers wasn't with his organization. This is racing's latest rule change to address the two-car tandem that surveys indicate fans would like to see eliminated.(ESPN)(1-12-2012)
Daytona International Speedway
Daytona Beach, FL
Congratulations 2015 Champ Kyle Busch
(Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)