Drivers met with NASCAR on Saturday: In a first of its kind, NASCAR met with a group of Sprint Cup drivers for about two hours Saturday night, discussing safety, competition, attendance and more. #11-Denny Hamlin, #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr., and #4-Kevin Harvick confirmed they were among about eight drivers in the meeting, which was held in the Kent Room at the Dover Downs Hotel & Casino. It marked the first time that a council of drivers - selected by their peers - had met with NASCAR in such a formal setting. "The drivers got together and organized a vote and all the drivers voted for the guys they wanted on this council," Earnhardt said before Sunday's race at Dover International Speedway. "NASCAR asked us to do that so we could get together and just have a better ability to communicate. It's just a better way to have discussions." A source told NBC Sports that NASCAR was represented by Mike Helton, vice chairman, and Steve O'Donnell, executive vice president and chief racing development officer, among others. "The drivers, we always talk amongst ourselves anyway, but having that open line of communication to NASCAR has never been this open before,'' Hamlin said before Sunday's race at Dover International Speedway. "You look around the room and you're like, 'Wow, this is a monumental time to where you've got the powers that be and some of the greatest drivers talking about how we can make this sport better." The meeting comes after a recent spat of complaints from drivers about the rules and racing. NASCAR did not offer details of the meeting. Brett Jewkes, NASCAR senior vice president and chief communications officer, issued a statement: "NASCAR meets with drivers frequently on a wide range of topics. As part of our ongoing commitment to foster dialogue between all stakeholders, we've met formally with drivers on several occasions this season, including here at Dover. We'll meet with them again later in the season as normal course of business. The meetings have been productive and we find the dialogue very valuable." Hamlin said he's unsure how often the group will meet but expected it would be "at least a few times a year."(NBC Sports)(5-31-2015)
What is the future of NASCAR Mexico? After three races of the season 2015 NASCAR Mexico season, we've seen some thrilling battles on the track, giving few reasons for anyone to doubt the future of the series. However, rumors have been going around since last year that its days days are numbered. But the whispers of demise continue in the paddock. NASCAR Mexico has no title sponsor at the moment. Toyota supported the series until 2014 and has carried out budget readjustments to take on the first part of the schedule with fewer staff operating and a smaller group of officials. The COO of NASCAR Mexico, Juan Carlos Ortiz, admitted in an interview with Motorsport.com that the situation is not ideal, but neither are they close to dying out. "The series is healthy. Like everywhere there are ups and downs and we are now in a difficult time, but eager to move forward. We are united and convinced that this will be a successful championship again," said Ortiz. Joe Balash, responsible for NASCAR's international series, has no doubt that its subsidiary in Latin America will still remain for several years and as he said to Motorsport.com "are ups and downs" and recognizes the commitment of the France family to keep this series for the long term, "just last year we renewed with Mexico. There is no reason to think otherwise." However, ICD group, who leads the series, now had a greater concern than the regional category and that is the return Formula One to Mexico. The Inter Corporate Entertainment has a five-year contract with Bernie Ecclestone that starts this 2015. The company's efforts have focused on making it as profitable as possible with this race after the annual investment of $72 million. For that reason, perhaps it has made it more difficult to find a new sponsor or because companies want to invest their money in the highest category of motorsport.(Motorsport)(5-8-2015)
NASCAR explains calls at end of race: Kurt Busch appeared set to earn his first Sprint Cup victory of the season before a caution with less than two laps remaining in the scheduled 200-lap race ended up foiling those plans Sunday at Auto Club Speedway. The debris caution came out for what NASCAR said was a piece of metal between turns 3 and 4. Busch, no doubt in frustration of seeing a potential Auto Club 400 win slip away, radioed to his team: "WWE," a reference to the popular wresting shows and staged results.
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series director Richard Buck said Sunday afternoon that the officials in race control had enough confirmation from their officials in the area that there was a piece of metal on the track. Because drivers tend to use the entire width of the speedway surface at this track, any piece of metal on the track surface typically results in a caution, Buck said. Buck said the piece of debris was hit by another car after he had called for the caution. "If there's any question whatsoever, we're going to throw the caution," Buck said. "There was a lot of paper flying around today, a lot of paper trash and plastic bags and those kinds of things. We got definite confirmation that it was debris and it looked like a piece of metal. It's strictly a process that we go through [to call a caution]. We don't have any favorites. We try to keep every emotion out of it. .. We feel very, very confident about our actions."
On the last lap, Greg Biffle spun on the frontstretch. NASCAR opted to let the race play out instead of ending the race under caution, and Biffle was able to drive away before the leaders had circled the 2-mile track. At Daytona earlier this year, NASCAR threw the caution on the final lap in order to get safety vehicles on to the track and tend to the drivers involved. "Safety is No. 1; we always make our best effort to let it race back and we had a well over a mile [remaining]," Buck said. "The leaders were coming off of [Turn] 2. We had multiple people watching. ... Biffle got it started back up and got it turned around and headed off. We had two folks in the flagstand that were right there on top of it. We had a bird's-eye view from their perspective that there was no debris right there so we could let it come back to a natural finish."(ESPN.com)(3-23-2015)
Teaming Up with NASCAR to Act on Climate: When NASCAR drivers take a corner at top speed, they - and their tires - experience G-forces that are just about equivalent to what astronauts feel as they're being launched into space. So NASCAR knows a thing or two about tire performance and safety. And that's why NASCAR driver Ryan Blaney joined Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx and John Podesta, Counselor to the President at the White House on Tuesday to talk about proper tire maintenance - and he brought along his #22 Mustang and the #18 "M&Ms" car to really drive the point home. Making our cars and trucks go farther on less fuel has been a key component of President Obama's plans to combat climate change. In the President's first term, the Administration issued historic fuel economy standards for cars and light trucks that will save consumers more than $1.7 trillion at the pump and reduce oil consumption by 12 billion barrels over the lifetime of the program. We also issued the first-ever efficiency standards for heavy-duty vehicles, like school buses and tractor-trailer trucks, which will cut carbon pollution by some 270 million metric tons and $50 billion through model year 2018. This February, the President announced that the Department of Transportation will be updating and refining those heavy-duty vehicle standards for future model years. All of these efforts will be further supported by Secretary Foxx's announcement of a schedule for new DOT standards establishing a tire fuel efficiency consumer information program. With support from the tire industry, this "labeling rule" will help consumers identify the most energy-efficient tires.(White House)(12-10-2014)
50 Most Influential in Sports Business: Sports Business Journal announced thier top 50 Most Influential in Sports Business, a few NASCAR related mentions:
10. Brian France, NASCAR
11. Mark Lazarus, NBC Sports Group (New NASCAR TV partner)
12. Eric Shanks, Fox Sports
30. John Henry, Fenway Sports Group (part owner on Roush Fenway Racing) (Sports Business Daily)(12-9-2014)
NASCAR expects to begin talks to extend deal with Sprint: Feeling bullish after the first season of the new Chase for the Sprint Cup format, NASCAR COO Brent Dewar expressed plenty of confidence about the future during a one-on-one interview yesterday at the '14 NASCAR Motorsports Marketing Forum, held at the Aria Resort in Las Vegas. Dewar said the mainstream allure of the new knockout-style Chase reinvigorated both fans and the industry, leading to growth in ratings and the potential for new sponsorships. Dewar said he expects more drama in the early part of next season as drivers start to utilize what they learned this season about how the new format works. He added that he expects ESPN to continue to cover the sport meaningfully despite the fact that media rights are shifting to NBC and Fox. Dewar, a longtime GM exec before joining NASCAR, also revealed that he and other key execs will soon begin talks with Sprint, whose title sponsorship runs through '16, about a new deal. Citing Sprint's recent challenges in the telecom industry, Dewar conceded that the task will be a tall one. "That will be a big effort," he said.(Sports Business Daily)(12-4-2014)
Brian France: 'like a grand slam in the ninth inning': NASCAR Chairman/CEO Brian France didn't think Kevin Harvick just hit a home run Sunday in winning the first Sprint Cup championship under the new elimination format. No, with the dramatic way Harvick took the lead on the closing laps and then held on for his first-ever Sprint Cup championship, it was much more in France's mind. "It might have been a grand slam in the ninth inning," France said Monday morning on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. "I really thought that in past times and late in the season - I go back to Tony Stewart when he not only had to beat Carl Edwards and win (2011 championship), and some other performances - I really thought whoever was going to come away with the championship was going to need a win."
"It was amazing," France said. "The amount of excitement and drama, watching that, even for long-time fans like myself, that has you on the edge of your seat, who's going to do this thing. That's the beauty of this format." It's unlikely there will be any further major revisions to the format, although some minor tweak(s) may still occur once NASCAR reviews all elements of how the Chase played out in the next month or so. Certainly, having sold-out venues at the final two tracks - Phoenix and Homestead-Miami - ended the Chase on an especially high note. And then with Harvick's dramatic push to the front, the race win and ultimately the championship, France and NASCAR look forward to more of the same kind of excitement and drama in subsequent editions of the Chase to come. "As we go down the road, that's going to be the Chase," France said. "If you go back through (this year's edition of) the Chase, there were plenty of big moments where teams stepped up to move on - (Brad) Keselowski when he had to do it at Talladega, for example. I think the teams like that environment. I know it's stressful for them, but at the end of the day, they get excited and elevated themselves."(NBC Sports)(11-18-2014)
France: "modest to zero" changes Chase format changed planned: In Brian France's estimation, the new Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup format introduced this year has struck a perfect balance between winning and consistency in determining the series champion. At the same time, France said, the new system, featuring an expanded 16-driver field and eliminations after every third race, has elevated interest in the sport. "It's exceeded what I had hoped for, and it's done precisely what we thought we wanted to do, which was recalibrate competition-or winning, rather-and still have a strong place for consistency and all the rest, but recalibrate that balance," NASCAR's chairman and CEO said Friday at Homestead-Miami Speedway in his "State of the Sport" question-and-answer session with reporters. "It's only year one, but clearly we're on our way." France said any changes to the format would be "modest to zero," and he doesn't have an issue with the possibility of Ryan Newman winning the Sprint Cup championship in Sunday's Ford EcoBoost 400 without winning a race. "Well, we would like that," France said. "The best team will win on Sunday. What I mean, though, is any format that we've ever had always has the possibility that somebody might win the championship without winning an event, short of us-which we're not going to do-making it a hard prerequisite that you have to win a race to qualify. That takes it out of balance, frankly." (NASCAR Wire Service)(11-15-2014)
Crews remain permitted around cars after race: NASCAR will not change its postrace procedure Sunday at Phoenix International Raceway in reaction to the fight between crews at Texas Motor Speedway. After races, the top cars plus select others are stopped on pit road while the remainder drive into the garage and park at their haulers. Crews often surround the car to push it to inspection or onto the hauler. It can add to the volatility of situations when drivers and/or teams are angry with each over. NASCAR won't make any changes to its procedure this weekend. All eight of the Chase drivers - the four who advance as well as the four eliminated - will be stopped on pit road after the race, with the lone exception if one of them wins, they'll head to victory lane. "We've got two races left," NASCAR Senior Vice President of Competition Robin Pemberton said. "We've had some issues. The tension level is high. The competition level is at an all-time high. The pressure is at an all-time high to perform. We feel like the teams don't want to what they've done and misbehave. We'll address it in the offseason like so many things that we do."(Sporting News)(11-9-2014)
NASCAR Test Ban May Not Be Cast In Stone: NASCAR's Senior Vice President for Innovation and Racing Development Gene Stefanyshyn commented today on a statement by Roush Fenway Racing co-owner Jack Roush that the sanctioning body's ban on independent testing in 2015 may not be cast in stone. "I think the final word on testing for next year has not been uttered yet by NASCAR," said Roush on Sirius XM NASCAR Radio's Dialed In yesterday (Wed, Oct 29th). "My understanding is there is substantial resistance from Goodyear on what's... on the table right now in terms of their being able to supply the tires for the number of teams that NASCAR anticipates going to the Goodyear tire tests. I will be less surprised if it changes than if it stays the way it is"
Stefanyshyn appeared to lend credence to those comments today (Thurs, Oct 30th), saying in a written release, "When we announced on Sept. 23 the rules package for the 2015 season, we stated that we were eliminating all team testing and would be working with Goodyear to build a unified testing plan in which the teams could participate. We currently are working through that process and have had on-going discussions with Goodyear to develop a proposal that we will share with the teams in the near future."(Godfather Motorsports)(10-31-2014)
Inspections moving faster: Thanks to a collaborative effort with Microsoft, NASCAR's technical inspection process has been setting its own track records as the 2014 racing season hustles toward its conclusion. The development of a mobile inspection application has helped streamline the labor-intensive process of on-site technical inspection, trimming nearly in half the time spent examining cars and recording pertinent data. The paperless procedure, which debuted in September at Chicago, consists of NASCAR officials inputting relevant data into Windows-compatible devices as the cars move through the various stages of inspection. "We're moving faster and our jobs are much easier than they were before," Richard Buck, managing director for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series said. "The inspection app was designed to make the overall process more efficient and it has." Inspectors use the devices for eight different disciplines, from safety and templates to engine inspection, throughout the course of a race weekend.(see full article at NASCAR.com)(10-29-2014)
NASCAR sends memo to teams about Ebola: NASCAR sent a memo to teams [Monday], sharing guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention outlining the transmission of the Ebola virus. All three NASCAR National Series travel to Texas Motor Speedway this weekend. Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas has treated at least two Ebola patients in recent weeks, raising concern in come corners over the safety of teams, officials and fans. The memo confirmed that Ebola can be contracted only by traveling to countries where there are outbreaks in progress, by coming into physical contact with individuals who have treated Ebola patients or by "coming into contact with someone who recently traveled from West Africa AND has symptoms of Ebola." The memo says NASCAR will "continue to closely monitor the situation and remain in communication with our group of consulting physicians as well as our track partners and local public health officials." The sanctioning body did not recommend any changes to the daily routines for drivers or crewmembers, who come in regular contact with large numbers of fans.(Godfather Motorsports)(10-27-2014)
NASCAR, AMP Group USA partner on indoor karting facility: Retail conglomerate and property developer, AMP Group USA, announced a partnership with NASCAR to form I-DRIVE NASCAR, a new indoor high performance kart racing facility set to open in Orlando on December 19. The family-friendly entertainment complex located at 5228 Vanguard Street will feature kart racing, a bowling alley, gaming arcade, dine-in restaurant and corporate meeting space. The I-DRIVE NASCAR logo was unveiled on October 21 at the 65,000-square-foot facility as part of a special event featuring the two Central Florida-based companies and Orlando mayor Buddy Dyer. The new business is part of AMP Group's ongoing efforts to revitalize the north end of International Drive and will create approximately 150 jobs. The I-DRIVE NASCAR facility will feature a half-mile indoor track and environmentally friendly electric karts, powered by Sodikarts and capable of safely reaching speeds up to 45 miles per hour. Individual racing experiences will begin at $22. I-DRIVE NASCAR will have entertainment options for the entire family. AMP Group plans to build the blueprint for I-DRIVE NASCAR in Orlando before expanding to other U.S. markets and internationally to Mexico, Brazil and Argentina.(NASCAR)(10-22-2014)
NASCAR restaurant closing in Orlando: NASCAR Sports Grille, a mainstay at Universal CityWalk since the entertainment complex opened in 1999, will close Nov. 1. The racing-themed restaurant, which serves American-style food such as burgers, ribs, sandwiches and pasta, will continue lunch and dinner service through that date. Universal Orlando employees recently were told of the closing. No replacement has been identified. The restaurant "has been a big part of helping CityWalk grow and establish itself as an entertainment destination," Universal Orlando spokesman Tom Schroder said Sunday. "This change is part of our ongoing commitment to bring new entertainment experiences to CityWalk." The 530-seat restaurant, which originally went by the name NASCAR Cafe, is located on the north end of the complex. It's the last outlet that visitors using Universal's parking garage pass if they are heading to Universal Studios theme park, home of the new Wizarding World of Harry Potter -- Diagon Alley. Universal CityWalk also features other restaurants, fast-service dining options, retail stores, a movie theater, miniature-golf courses, bars, nightclubs and the Blue Man Group.(Orlando Sentinel)(9-30-2014)
NASCAR Delivers 2015 Competition Package to Teams: Following more than a year of extensive collaboration with stakeholders throughout the industry, and with a keen eye towards the future, NASCAR has finalized and delivered to teams the 2015 racing package for all three national series. "This race package represents a lot of hard work by NASCAR, the race teams, the drivers, our manufacturer partners and Goodyear," said Gene Stefanyshyn, NASCAR senior vice president of innovation and racing development. "We've remained committed to constantly looking at our racing, and the work that has been done has been aimed at getting a rules package delivered to the race teams as early as possible."
Highlighted in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series changes for 2015 are nearly 60 enhancements, including adjustments to the power train, aerodynamics and chassis that are designed to work in concert to deliver drivers more flexibility and teams more adjustability. Fans are expected to benefit from closer racing and more opportunities for drivers to pass on the track. "We have had fantastic racing so far in 2014," Stefanyshyn said. "We remain committed to constantly looking to improve it. Our fans deserve it and our industry is pushing for it. That will not stop with the 2015 package; the development will continue over many years to come."
NASCAR will institute a shorter rear spoiler in its 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series package, which also includes a reduction of engine power, lower rear differential gear ratios and an optional driver adjustable track bar.
Based on the success of group qualifying formats, which were introduced in 2014 for all national series, NASCAR also announced that group qualifying will be utilized for the first time for the Daytona 500.
Additional changes for the 2015 rules include the elimination of team-facilitated private testing, with race teams being instead invited to participate in NASCAR / Goodyear tests throughout the season. NASCAR also will work alongside Goodyear to introduce rain tires should conditions warrant during road course events in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in 2015.
"We're very pleased with the rules package and what it will do for our racing," said Steve O'Donnell, NASCAR executive vice president and chief racing development officer. "We're confident it will continue to generate great racing, along with continuous safety improvements. The work alongside our industry has been unprecedented. We've had great dialogue with our drivers and teams, our manufacturers and Goodyear, allowing us to build greater efficiencies into the 2015 rules package. We've met our goal of delivering rules to teams with time to prepare for next season and we're seeing the benefits of an updated process for developing our rules paying dividends. It will only continue to improve."(NASCAR)(9-23-2014)
UPDATE NASCAR announced a new rules package Tuesday that will ban all private testing in 2015, including the annual Daytona 500 test, and levy the stiffest penalty possible on any team caught conducting its own sessions. The only testing allowed next season will be sessions conducted by NASCAR or Goodyear. Any team caught testing on its own will receive a P6 penalty, the highest on NASCAR's new punishment scale. It carries a loss of 150 points, a minimum $150,000 fine and a six-week suspension for the crew chief and other crew members. "It will be a huge penalty if anyone is caught," said Steve O'Donnell, NASCAR's executive vice president and chief racing development officer.
The three-day annual Daytona 500 test each January was as much about promoting the season-opening race as it was for teams to shake off any cobwebs from the offseason. O'Donnell said that time will now be used to send drivers on a cross-country promotional tour similar to the "Chase Across North America" that NASCAR held this month with its 16 Chase championship drivers assigned to visit various race markets. As for qualifying, the formats will be shortened at all types of tracks, mostly to cut the length of time in the first segment. Teams currently are sitting on pit road trying to time when to run a hot lap, and NASCAR will try to eliminate the waiting. The first segment on short tracks and intermediate tracks will be 15 minutes, followed by a break, then 10 minutes, a break, and a final 5-minute session. At superspeedways, the field will be divided into two groups for the first 5-minute session, followed by two more 5-minute sessions. Road course qualifying will consist of one 25-minute session, followed by a 10-minute session. The Daytona 500 front row qualifying will be done in groups, but the length of the breaks is still being tweaked as NASCAR needs to fill a 3-hour television window.(Associated Press)(9-24-2014)
Fact Sheet 2015 Rules Package: Nearly 60 different enhancements / updates have been made to the NASCAR national series rules packages for 2015 in the following areas:
ˇ New Rules, with one or more of the following goals in mind: enriched competition, improved safety, reduced cost, enhanced product relevance and environmental (green) improvements.
Enhanced Enforcement of Existing Rules
ˇ New Officiating Processes
ˇ Newly Approved Parts
ˇ Updated Business Processes
The following are among the significant updates to the competition package.
There will be a NASCAR-mandated ban on all team-initiated private testing in 2015
ˇ Teams will be invited to participate in NASCAR / Goodyear tests
ˇ NASCAR will not conduct a test at Daytona International Speedway prior to the Daytona 500
ˇ 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Race Package includes:
-- Reduction of horsepower to 725 via tapered spacer
-- Roller valve lifters to replace flat valve lifter
-- Lower rear differential gear ratios targeting 9,000 RPM
-- Rear spoiler adjustment to 6 inches high (2014 height: 8 inches)
-- Optional driver adjustable track bar
-- 38-inch wide radiator pan
-- Minimum vehicle weight drops 50 lbs. via ballast reduction (2014 weight: 3,300 w/o driver)
-- Updated qualifying formats for all tracks
ˇ Rain tires on road courses, similar to rules in place for the NASCAR XFINITY Series and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series; mandatory wipers, defogger and rear flashing rain light installed for the event weekend New Officiating Processes
ˇ Data Log and Capture System for pre-race inspections
ˇ Automated pit road officiating at race events
Newly Approved Parts
ˇ Revised brake calipers
Updated Business Processes
ˇ Electronic rule book
ˇ New parts approval process
Complete Replays Of NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Races Now Available: YouTube and NASCAR Digital Media have collaborated to give race fans the chance to relive every moment of NASCAR's completely revamped playoffs. For the remainder of NASCAR's postseason, fans will be able to view full-length replays of NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races on NASCAR's official YouTube channel, free of charge. Complete race replays of each Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup race broadcast will be available at www.youtube.com/NASCAR each week following the event. Fans may visit the playlist entitled, "Full NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Race Replays - 2014" on the channel's landing page to access the videos.(NASCAR)(9-23-2014)
NASCAR expected to release 2015 rules package this week: NASCAR is expected to release the 2015 Sprint Cup Series rules package to teams on Tuesday. Some of the changes mentioned around the garage were a two-inch reduction on the spoiler (from eight to six inches), a 125 horsepower decrease to the engines (just 50 more than what is currently used in the Nationwide Series with the use of tapered spacers) and different gear rules. At the test at Michigan International Speedway on August 18, NASCAR tried a variety of different aero packages in an effort to "provide fans with the best action-packed racing possible". The focus was twofold: Aerodynamics and power optimization to "reduce the rapid increase in spacing between cars and increase drafting at the end of the straightaway at many of our tracks". Drivers were looking for less downforce but NASCAR was initially pushing for high downforce. NASCAR never adjusted the engines at the Michigan test but that's expected to happen when teams run the Goodyear tire test next month at Auto Club Speedway. "We never did less downforce and less power, we just did less downforce and the same power," #17-Matt Kenseth said. "I think it was good to look at a lot of different things. I'm a firm believer is less downforce is going to be better as far as our ability to pass other race cars. Maybe it will separate the back of the field and the front of the field a little bit. And what I mean by that is maybe if a guy is not quite as good of a driver or makes a mistake he may not be able to catch your car as good - that type of thing. Maybe more cautions that aren't debris cautions, there might be more accidents, things like that which I don't necessarily think is a bad thing." Although last week's Chase opener at Chicagoland Speedway offered scintillating moments - including Brad Keselowski splitting Kevin Harvick and Kyle Larson to take the lead with 15 laps remaining in the race - passing has been an issue with the new Generation 6 cars. But Kenseth was "really encouraged" by the final exercise NASCAR offered and looks forward to its potential. "You didn't have that turbulent air so bad in traffic," Kenseth added. "You could roll around outside of people. It really opened the track up. It really widened the track out. Instead of being a one-groove track, it was, honestly, for being Michigan and just being repaved, it turned into at least three-groove track already just in that little 10, 20-lap run. I think everybody was encouraged by the results. I think a lot of people were really surprised by it. I don't think it's what they expected."(Motorsport)(9-21-2014)
NASCAR, Front Row to honor Wendell Scott at Martinsville: NASCAR, Front Row Motorsports, Kyle Busch Motorsports and Martinsville Speedway announced they will honor 2015 NASCAR Hall of Fame Inductee Wendell Scott, the first African-American driver to win a NASCAR premier series event, with a series of tributes during the Martinsville race weekend from Oct. 24-26. Front Row Motorsports will pay homage to Scott, also the first African-American driver to race full-time in NASCAR's premier series, with a full throwback paint scheme on its #34 Ford driven by David Ragan, reminiscent of the blue #34 that he drove to Victory Lane for his first NASCAR premier series victory at Jacksonville Speedway on Dec. 1, 1963. Ragan is one of just three drivers to win in the #34, and the first since Scott. In addition, Kyle Busch Motorsports will change the number of Darrell Wallace Jr.'s truck from 54 to 34 in honor of Scott. A NASCAR Drive for Diversity graduate, Wallace became the first African-American to win a NASCAR national series race since Scott's historic 1963 triumph when he captured the checkered flag in last season's NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Kroger 200 at Martinsville. Adding to the celebration, Martinsville Speedway and the NHOF will host members of the Scott family during the race weekend and offer special Q&A opportunities for fans on-site.
NASCAR currently awards scholarships in Scott's name through the United Negro College Fund, the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities and the Thurgood Marshall Scholarship Fund. The Wendell Scott Trailblazer Award is awarded to a diverse or female driver in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series who has demonstrated significant contributions on and off the track. In addition, NASCAR has designated the first race weekend in March as a time to remember Wendell Scott's legacy during a week that marks his first career start. Cars in all series run a decal in honor of his accomplishments within the sport. (NASCAR), see an image of the car on the #34 team paint schemes page.(9-17-2014)
Unprecedented 'Chase Across North America' 16 Driver, 16 Market Media Tour Set For Wednesday: On Wednesday, Sept. 10, the 16 Challengers in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup will participate in the "Chase Across North America" media tour. The multi-country media blitz will feature 16 different drivers across 16 different cities, with one driver visiting each of the following locations: every Chase track market, Los Angeles, Mexico City, San Antonio, Toronto, New York and ESPN's headquarters in Bristol, Connecticut. Each location will host a Chase driver for a day of special events and media availabilities to kick off NASCAR's playoffs, which begin Sunday, Sept. 14 at Chicagoland Speedway.
The market/driver pairings:
Los Angeles: #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Mexico City: #99-Carl Edwards
San Antonio - #41-Kurt Busch
Toronto: #24-Jeff Gordon
New York City - #48-Jimmie Johnson
ESPN - #4-Kevin Harvick
Chicago - #18-Kyle Busch
New Hampshire - #5-Kasey Kahne
Dover - #16-Greg Biffle
Kansas - #47-AJ Allmendinger
Charlotte - #2-Brad Keselowski
Talladega - #22-Joey Logano
Martinsville - #31-Ryan Newman
Texas - #20-Matt Kenseth
Phoenix - #11-Denny Hamlin
Homestead-Miami - #43-Aric Almirola
Follow along with each Chase Across North America event using #NASCAR and #MyChaseNation.(NASCAR). See the Driver Appearances page and chasegridlive.nascar.com for more info.(9-8-2017)
Can money be allotted to help retired drivers? NASCAR is a billion-dollar industry filled with wealthy team owners, deep-pocketed sponsors and a number of millionaire drivers, all directed by the ultra-rich France family. The only folks who seem not to have done well from their involvement in NASCAR are retired drivers. Instead, a number of them need financial help in their everyday lives, especially with medical expenses. But there is no fund to provide such help. There should be. And the idea has some high-profile supporters.
"I think that would be a positive thing," said Dale Earnhardt Jr., the perennial choice of fans as NASCAR's most popular driver.
"I'm in favor of giving back to our sport," said Jimmie Johnson, six-time Sprint Cup champion.
NASCAR drivers at all levels - Sprint Cup, Nationwide, World Camping Truck, K&N Pro Series - are independent contractors. They make the best deal they can with an owner and hope they eventually hit the big time. That has worked well for such veteran drivers as Johnson, Jeff Gordon, Earnhardt and Carl Edwards. And it seems to have worked well for some of the younger, established drivers such as Denny Hamlin, Brad Keselowski and Kyle Busch.
But there are drivers in all series who struggle to survive competitively, which means they also struggle to survive financially. Their short-term needs are difficult to meet. They'd rather not think about the long term. "I certainly think any retired athlete needs some sort of benefits package or a fund or something for guys who end up on the less fortunate side of things," said Greg Biffle, who is in the midst of a solid career on the Sprint Cup circuit. "I'm in favor of it. We see a lot of players in all sports that end up on hard times."
As for funding it, Biffle said, "Man, I am not a financial guy whatsoever." There is ample money available. NASCAR is completing a 10-year, $4.8 billon television contract. Next year, it begins a 10-year, $8.2 billion television contract. As little as 10% of the new deal would provide more money for a driver's fund than was in the initial concussion proposal between the NFL and its retired players.
There are sponsor dollars generated by NASCAR. If teams contributed a small percentage of that money each year to a pool for retired or disabled drivers in need, fewer retired or disabled drivers would be in need. NASCAR's leadership has done remarkable things to make a dangerous sport as safe as possible. But without drivers, there are no TV contracts, no fans in the stands and no one buying high-priced souvenirs. "There's a little bit of a responsibility on everybody's part, not just the sport as a whole, but the drivers that are currently having the success they're having, myself included," Earnhardt said. "I'm sure it wouldn't be too tall a challenge to put something together. And if it's run properly and managed properly, it could be a huge assist to all those guys who are struggling, especially when you get older and the medical bills start piling up on you. Yeah, I think it would be a great thing."(Richmond Times Dispatch)(9-7-2014)
NASCAR considers changes to its souvenir business: On Thursday, just as NASCAR teams were arriving at RIR for tonight's race that will complete the field for the series' championship-deciding Chase for the Sprint Cup, business executives were meeting at NASCAR headquarters in Daytona Beach, Fla., to hash out the future of the sport's at-the-track souvenir business. Sales of T-shirts, caps, jackets, miniature die-cast cars and other racing souvenirs - once a robust revenue stream for NASCAR, its tracks and teams - have lagged as NASCAR race attendance has diminished and fans have grown more reluctant to spend. As a result, stock car racing's leaders are contemplating changes to the on-site merchandising of apparel and other souvenirs. "We are working with the industry through a robust process," Blake Davidson, NASCAR's vice president of licensing and consumer products, said Friday. He declined to provide details but said "we are pleased with the progress we have made in identifying next steps."
For decades, strolling "Souvenir Row" has been part of a race fan's day at the track. Week after week more than 20 haulers line up end-to-end outside the track, forming a gantlet of retail outlets. Each trailer is rigged to open as a sales counter where fans can buy goods emblazoned with images of a driver, his car and his sponsors. After two decades of growth, the souvenir business cooled sharply in an era of recession and a belabored recovery. In June, Street & Smith's Sports Business Journal reported that sales dropped from more than $2 billion in 2008 to $1 billion in 2010. Insiders say the decline has continued.
In 2009, Motorsports Authentics, NASCAR's official trackside vendor, had to renegotiate its licensing agreements with race teams to avoid bankruptcy, according to a filing that year with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The company - a subsidiary of International Speedway Corp., which owns a dozen major speedways including RIR and Daytona International Speedway - dodged bankruptcy by transforming itself into a trimmed-down business, shedding more than half its 400 employees by 2010. But even for a streamlined operation, having more than 20 trucks logging tens of thousands of miles to keep up with NASCAR's 36-race, coast-to-coast schedule is a costly endeavor. This year, NASCAR and Motorsports Authentics are looking for a change to the merchandising model. The revenue split is expected to say the same - 15% to the tracks, 10% to NASCAR teams and drivers, the rest to Motorsports Authentics. But officials have talked about switching from trucks to tents, possibly a compound of circus-scale tents shared by race-team merchandisers.
Earlier this year, NASCAR invited interested parties to submit proposals for a new approach to souvenir sales. NASCAR President Mike Helton said the number of responses was "in the teens, if not 20." If all goes according to NASCAR's plan, the new model will be ready to implement by the middle of next season.(in part from the Richmond Times Dispatch)(9-6-2014)
Drivers want lower downforce, softer tires in 2015: Drivers are optimistic that a lower downforce, softer tire package tested at Michigan International Speedway Monday will work for a full field of 43 cars. NASCAR directed nine teams during a test for potential new rules for 2015. A variety of horsepower and aerodynamic packages were tested at the 2-mile track. The goal was to make the cars raceable enough that a driver can gain ground on the leader. During 20-lap runs, the drivers apparently passed the most in the low-downforce, soft-tire package. Low downforce can be achieved in a variety of ways, including a smaller rear spoiler. "They went through all the high-downforce stuff and less power and kind of the direction they went this year but even greater, and it was honestly really bad," said Joe Gibbs Racing's #20-Matt Kenseth. "It was really singled out, you couldn't pass, you could draft a little more on the straightaway but you're almost wide open in the corners. At the very end, they took all the downforce off and gave us all our power back and did all that and it was pretty much unanimous from the drivers, ... it was awesome." No one is sure what NASCAR will do, as it will take the data from the test and evaluate it to make the 2015 rules. "It was like going back 15 years in time or something like that," Kenseth said. "You could pass actually in the corners. ... You could get one guy on the bottom, one guy on the top. The air wasn't so turbulent that you couldn't get outside of people. So the track got really wide. It was like the track aged 10 years. It was awesome. Everybody got out with a smile on their face. You actually wouldn't feel as guilty cashing your paycheck on Friday anymore because you actually had to drive the cars like you used to."
"If you listen to all the drivers, they're really excited and would like to see NASCAR at least go and investigate that direction for sure," said Roush Fenway Racing competition director Robbie Reiser. "I know from the test and the reports everybody has talked about, it seems like everybody really liked what they saw at the end of that Michigan test. They used the words, 'We can drive the car.' That is an important aspect of stock-car racing. They wanted it to be less dependent on the aero side and a little more dependent on the driver side." Reiser said he believes teams would like the rule package by early September but would be happy if they get it by the end of September. I know NASCAR is under pressure to try to get us rules, but we really need to make the right decision."(Sporting News)(8-23-2014)
Teams test 2015 rules changes at Michigan UPDATE: Nine NASCAR Sprint Cup Series teams will remain at Michigan International Speedway one additional day on Monday to test aerodynamic and engine combinations for the 2015 racing season. According to NASCAR officials, the test is designed to validate extensive work done by the sanctioning body's racing development team. Gene Stefanyshyn, vice president Innovation and Racing Development for NASCAR, said two different packages featuring various changes would be tested on the 2-mile track at MIS.
"We have a prime rules package and also will be doing a low downforce package, because some of the drivers have been very vocal," Stefanyshyn said. "They think (low downforce) is a solution ... so we're going to try one of those." The prime rules package will include the use of dive planes, a 9-inch spoiler, six-percent rear differential gear ratio, three different power levels (engine horsepower) as well as a driver adjustable track bar. Dive planes are small strips on the left and right side of the front bumper areas about halfway between the splitter and hood.
The engine changes will vary from the current 850 horsepower to 800 and 750 hp. Stefanyshyn said those changes would be made during Monday's test through the use of different sized restrictor plates in order to gauge the effects. If it is determined that less horsepower works best with the aerodynamic changes being considered, how best to accomplish that for next season would still have to be decided.
The test is slated to get underway at 9:00am/et with six different sessions scheduled throughout the day. Teams are expected to make single-file 15-lap runs in every other session, with double-file runs making up the remaining 15-lap sessions. Drivers scheduled to participate are: #1-Jamie McMurray, #5-Kasey Kahne, #10-Danica Patrick, #27-Paul Menard #2-Brad Keselowski, #17-Ricky Stenhouse Jr., #43-Aric Almirola, #11-Denny Hamlin, and either #15-Clint Bowyer or #55-Brian Vickers.(NASCAR.com)(8-14/18-2014)
UPDATE: Just one day after Jeff Gordon grabbed the checkered flag in the Pure Michigan 400, NASCAR and teams were back testing on the two-mile Michigan International Speedway, gathering crucial data for the development of the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series rules package. Six different configurations were evaluated throughout the test. Throughout today's test, focus was on aerodynamics and power optimization. Ten teams were onsite throughout the day running through all six configurations. More than 160 laps were turned at Michigan by each team. Data will be taken back to the Research and Development Center in Concord, North Carolina to be analyzed and modeled as NASCAR finalizes its 2015 rules package for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.(NASCAR)(8-18-2014)
NASCAR issues rule to keep drivers in cars: In its continued efforts to evolve the safety of its sport, NASCAR announced Friday that it will add a rule that addresses on-track incidents as part of its race procedures. The rule, listed as Section 9-16, will be an addendum to the NASCAR rule book and will apply to all of its racing series, effective immediately.
Section 9-16 On-Track Incident Procedure
During an Event, if a racecar is involved in an on-track incident and/or is stopped on or near the racing surface and unable to continue to make forward progress, unless extenuating emergency conditions exist with the racecar (i.e. fire, smoke in cockpit, etc.) the driver should take the following steps:
ˇ Shut off electrical power and, if driver is uninjured, lower window net
ˇ Do not loosen, disconnect or remove any driver personal safety equipment until directed to do so by safety personnel or a NASCAR/Track Official
ˇ After being directed to exit the racecar, the driver should proceed to either the ambulance, other vehicle, or as otherwise directed by safety personnel or a NASCAR/Track Official
ˇ At no time should a driver or crew member(s) approach any portion of the racing surface or apron
ˇ At no time should a driver or crew member(s) approach another moving vehicle
All vehicles not involved in the incident or that are able to continue afterwards should slow down to a cautious speed as outlined in Section 10-4 (Yellow Flag), use extreme care as they approach an incident scene, and follow any directions given by safety personnel or NASCAR/Track Officials. Cars in line behind the safety car should not weave or otherwise stray from the line in the vicinity of the incident.
Robin Pemberton, NASCAR vice president of competition and racing development, says the rule is "part of the evolution of NASCAR's rules and regulations."
"Throughout the history of our sport, NASCAR has reviewed and analyzed situations and occurrences that take place not just in NASCAR racing but also throughout all motorsports and other sports," said Pemberton. "When we believe we can do something to make our sport safer and better for the competitors and others involved in the competition environment, we react quickly. Safety always has been priority number one at NASCAR."
As with other behavioral infractions, NASCAR will handle each instance separately when assessing potential penalties.(NASCAR)(8-15-2014)
NASCAR issuing more penalties on blend line violations: NASCAR continued its crack-down on drivers violating the blend line, issuing penalties during Friday's Sprint Cup and Nationwide practices at Watkins Glen International. The issue is when drivers leave pit road and enter the track. They are required to have all four tires below the solid yellow line. They cannot blend on to the racing groove until the line becomes dotted. If they do before that, it is a penalty. Richard Buck, Cup series director said that NASCAR had warned drivers about the issue but it continued to happen. NASCAR began penalizing drivers last weekend at Pocono Raceway by forcing them to pass through pit road before resuming practice. NASCAR penalized Greg Biffle in practice at Pocono and Jimmie Johnson in the first round of qualifying last weekend. Friday, Clint Bowyer, Austin Dillon, Aric Almirola and Michael Annett had pass-through penalties for violating the blend-line rule in the first Cup practice session. Ryan Newman was penalized in the final Cup practice session. Among those penalized in the Nationwide Series for the same violation were Trevor Bayne and Ryan Reed.(Motor Racing Network)(8-9-2014)
Family sues NASCAR, Pocono over 2012 lightning death: NASCAR blew off a severe storm warning at the Pocono 400 race until the storm got so bad it had to stop the race, and 6 minutes later a fan was killed by lightning in the parking lot, his family claims in court. Brian Zimmerman was killed by lightning at 5:00pm on Aug. 5, 2012, his widow Marion claims in the Court of Common Pleas. She sued Pocono International Raceway and NASCAR, on Aug. 1. Ten other people were injured by lightning, one of whom sued NASCAR and the Pocono Raceway in July. Zimmerman claims that NASCAR and the Pocono Raceway received a severe thunderstorm warning from the National Weather Service at 4:12pm, but they "did nothing" to stop the race or warn fans until 4:21, when they "attempted to use social media" to warn race fans of the approaching storm. Brian Zimmerman did not have access to social media at the raceway, his widow says. The defendants stopped the race at 4:54pm At 4:59, they used social media again to warn fans to seek shelter. Brian was hit by lightning at 5:00pm and died. In the July lawsuit, Jason Peneck's wife Erin claims her husband suffered "severe and permanent injuries, including, but not limited to, a traumatic brain injury, second degree burns, and dysautonomia."(Courthouse News Service)(8-6-2014)
NASCAR selects IMG as international broadcast agency partner: Having recently solidified the sport's domestic television future as part of record-breaking media rights partnerships with the FOX Sports and NBC Sports groups, NASCAR announced that it has selected IMG to assist the sanctioning body in establishing a long-term and sustainable global commercial broadcast media distribution strategy. As NASCAR's international media representative, IMG will be responsible for helping the sport increase its footprint, audience base and revenues outside of North America and South America. In addition to leveraging the popularity of motorsports in key international territories like Western Europe and Australia, IMG will further develop NASCAR television rights commercially in markets where motorsports are less widely known such as Southeast Asia, China and Eastern Europe. Currently, NASCAR races are broadcast in more than 175 countries through more than 20 broadcast partners worldwide. All of NASCAR's current international broadcast rights will expire at the end of the 2014 season and IMG will begin assisting NASCAR with creating and executing a new international media strategy for 2015 and beyond. As its agent, IMG will work with NASCAR to secure broadcast exposure for NASCAR's national series as well as other NASCAR series in hundreds of countries across the globe beginning in 2015, including expanding into countries which have not broadcast NASCAR content in the past.(NASCAR)(8-5-2014)
NASCAR Closes Fueling Loophole: NASCAR issued a technical bulletin to teams this week with some new language regarding where fuel filler cans could be filled at the track. The new rule basically states that fuel cans can only be filled at the designated Sunoco fueling stations in the infield. This move by NASCAR closes a loophole that some teams were exploiting on pit road to get an advantage with fueling during pit stops.(NASCAR Insiders)(7-26-2014)
France says minor changes coming to 2015 schedule: NASCAR Chairman Brian France, who earlier this month said there would be a "robust discussion" about changes to the 2015 Sprint Cup schedule, said Monday that any changes would be minimal. Speaking on SiriusXM's NASCAR channel, France said the schedule will come out in September. "There's not going to be a dramatic change but there may be some things that are a little different," France said. "That's not unusual. You come back to moving dates around and whatever else, we don't do a lot of it, but we do a little of it from time to time and this will be one of those moments." At Daytona a few weeks ago, France said that with the new NASCAR television deal going into effect in 2015 - Fox and Fox Sports 1 will have the first 16 points races with NBC and NBC Sports Network having the final 20 - there is an opportunity to consider possible changes.(Sporting News)(7-22-2014)
France comments on Race Team Alliance: NASCAR chairman Brian France says listening to the consensus voice of the newly formed Race Team Alliance would be a "bad idea." France, in his first extensive interview on the RTA since the organization of major team owners was announced two weeks ago, told Sirius/XM's Sirius Speedway show on Monday that NASCAR "didn't think (the RTA) was necessary." The nine most powerful race teams in NASCAR announced July 7 they had formed an alliance with the stated purpose of cutting costs and pooling resources. But France said he had no intentions of dealing with the individual race teams as one organization. "That would probably be the worst thing we could ever do -- to listen to one voice, even if it were a consensus voice," he said. "Every decision we've ever made that's important, the more input, the more people we heard from, the better the result. That will never change in the business model of NASCAR, because good ideas come from all over the place." But it seems NASCAR's most influential team owners don't feel that way, since they banded together to form the RTA and speak as one regarding many issues facing the sport. And while France acknowledged the RTA "may figure out some things we're not aware of" in terms of reducing costs, he repeatedly said NASCAR would be "business as usual." That includes holding firm on the allocation of a mega $8.2 billion TV contract that kicks in next year - 25% of which goes to the race teams (65% goes to the tracks and 10% goes to NASCAR). The RTA is said to want a bigger piece of the pie, but France said the current percentages were "set for historical reasons - because it's the right allocation."(USA Today)(7-22-2014)
How much does it cost to operate a race team each week? Less than 24 hours after [Stewart-Haas Racing's haulers] returned from Sonoma, they are on their way to the Saturday race in Sparta, Ky. It's all part of the weekly routine at Stewart-Haas Racing, or any other NASCAR team, for that matter. Most people know that NASCAR is a traveling circus, a weekly carnival built on rubber and exhaust. But outside of motorsports, few can appreciate everything that goes into creating that big top each week. During a season, the sport travels 38 weekends across 23 markets, and that doesn't include test sessions. Teams truck race cars and parts, fly dozens of people and set up temporary homes at all of them. The NASCAR schedule makes the logistics and costs of operating a race team unique in professional sports. While stick-and-ball teams have front-office staff, players and administrators, NASCAR teams have pilots, flight attendants, long-haul truckers, engineers, mechanics, even chefs. Outside of racing, few - if any - face such a challenge of coordinating freight trucking and airline travel across so many weeks. Doing so is an enormous undertaking that takes months of planning. The Kentucky race weekend highlighted just how demanding it can be. Over the course of three days in June, Stewart-Haas Racing trucked eight race cars and flew more than 100 people to Kentucky for the Quaker State 400. It rented 27 vehicles and reserved 44 hotel rooms. It spent more than $1.5 million, and its four entries finished seventh, 11th, 12th and 21st to collect a combined purse of $428,401. (That doesn't include driver salaries or additional personnel costs.) As teams prepare to head to Indianapolis for NASCAR's annual Brickyard race, last month's Kentucky race provided a glimpse at what goes into a typical race weekend, how it comes together and how much it costs. See much more on race team logistics and expenses at Sports Business Journal.(7-22-2014)
Race Team Alliance will talk to NASCAR through attorneys: If the new Race Team Alliance wants to communicate with NASCAR and its sister company International Speedway Corp. it will have to do so through attorneys. NASCAR President Mike Helton said Friday there is no animosity between the team owners and NASCAR, although NASCAR has had no conversations with Kauffman as part of the RTA. "I wanted to dispel the perception of animosity to start with and then back that up with saying we're going to do business as usual," Helton said Friday. "I think everybody in the garage area knows how we do our business and the role they play in it, and so we'll continue to do it that way." But apparently no NASCAR officials will be talking directly with the RTA. NASCAR confirmed Wednesday that in a move they say is done for legal prudence and not as a sign of animosity, it has directed that all communication between NASCAR and the RTA be done through lawyers. After the Sporting News published a column on the RTA Tuesday saying the development is a sign of an increased lack of trust between NASCAR and the teams and vice versa, Kauffman tweeted that ISC also has issued a lawyer-only edict.
The RTA has hired the legal firm of Jones Day, which provides representation on financial issues to almost half of the Fortune 500 companies. And they apparently need to be. Gary Roberts, a noted sports law expert and current professor at Indiana University, said last week that the organization could open itself up to a lawsuit depending on how it operates. There is nothing wrong with the teams working together for better purchasing power as long as the people they purchase from are not dependent solely on NASCAR teams for their business. The danger comes if the RTA represents the teams in any sort of negotiations with NASCAR and tries to use its collective leverage to force NASCAR's hand. "You have a monopolist, NASCAR, dictating terms to a group of entities that it does business with," Roberts said. "And the entities then (are) saying, 'We want to get together and create counter-veiling market power so we're on equal footing.'(Sporting News)(7-17-2014)
NASCAR to test possible 2015 rule changes: NASCAR has scheduled a test on August 18, 2014 at Michigan International Speedway to test possible rule changes for the 2015 season. "We're very pleased with the competition on the track so far in 2014,'' said Gene Stefanyshyn, NASCAR vice president of innovation and racing development, in a statement to Motor Racing Network. "The evolution of the racing product continues as we look to 2015 and beyond. The test at Michigan International Speedway will be a great opportunity to gather more information, help us validate much of the great research done by engineers in our sport, and drive us one step closer to our 2015 race package." NASCAR states that the number of teams testing hasn't been finalized. NASCAR also states that no other tests have been scheduled, although indications in the garage are that a follow-up test could take place at Charlotte Motor Speedway later in the year.(Motor Racing Network)(7-16-2014)
NASCAR president: no animosity towards RTA: NASCAR president Mike Helton says there is no animosity from the governing body toward the recently formed nine-team Race Team Alliance that will collaborate on initiatives and issues facing the sport. Michael Waltrip Racing co-owner Rob Kauffman was elected chairman of the RTA on Monday. The goals of the RTA include lowering costs for NASCAR teams and creating one voice on issues facing the teams. Kauffman insisted the RTA is not a union. Speaking Friday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, Helton says every car owner has a voice in the garage. Helton says NASCAR will "continue to do business the way we've done business." Helton says he did have notice from the RTA that it was forming. Helton says "we believe the way we do our form of motorsports has worked."(Associated Press)(7-11-2014)
Sprint Cup teams form Race Team Alliance UPDATE: A group of nine multi-car teams participating in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) announced today they have formed a collaborative business association called the Race Team Alliance (RTA). The purpose of the organization is to create an open forum for the teams to explore areas of common interest and to work collaboratively on initiatives to help preserve, promote, and grow the sport of stock car racing. The organization intends to open up its membership to all full time NSCS teams in the very near future. In providing a vehicle for the teams to work together, the organization creates for the first time a single entity to engage with stakeholders on creative ways to market and experience the power of the sport's teams and drivers. As part of its focus, the RTA also plans to explore innovative ways to harness the combined purchasing power and scale of the teams' operations to drive efficiencies in costs. Rob Kauffman, co-owner of Michael Waltrip Racing, has been elected the first chair of the RTA.
"With the encouragement of NASCAR and the manufacturers, the teams have met in various forms and forums over the years to explore areas of common interest. This simply formalizes what was an informal group." said Kauffman. "The key word is 'Collaboration'. We all have vested interests in the success and popularity of stock car racing. By working together and speaking with a single voice, it should be a simpler and smoother process to work with current and potential groups involved with the sport. Whether it be looking for industry-wide travel partners or collaborating on technical issues - the idea is to work together to increase revenue, spend more efficiently, and deliver more value to our partners."
The following teams are the executive members of the RTA: Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates, Hendrick Motor Sports, Joe Gibbs Racing, Michael Waltrip Racing, Richard Childress Racing, Richard Petty Motor Sports, Roush Fenway Racing, Stewart-Haas Racing and Team Penske.(RTA)(7-7-2014)
UPDATE: Statement from NASCAR: "We are aware of the alliance concept the team owners have announced, but have very few specifics on its structure or purpose. It is apparently still in development and we're still learning about the details so it would be inappropriate to comment right now. NASCAR's mission, as it has always been, is to create a fair playing field where anyone can come and compete. Our job is to support and strengthen all of the teams, large and small, across all of our series and we'll continue to do that. NASCAR is a unique community with hundreds of stakeholders. They all have a voice and always will."(NASCAR)(7-7-2014)
NASCAR could tweak qualifying rules at plate tracks: That strange qualifying session at Daytona International Speedway might end up being a one-time thing. NASCAR executive Robin Pemberton said rules could be tweaked to prevent teams from trying to scheme ways to post the fastest laps during the three knockout stages. "I think we'll learn from all of this moving forward and continue to talk and see if there's anything that we need to look at to try to make things better for the fans and better for the competitors," said Pemberton, NASCAR's vice president of competition. "All in all, it's been a great year for qualifying and it's been a great year for a lot of different rule changes that we put into play this year. We'll sit down and we'll talk about some of these things toward the latter stages of the year and see what we may rub on and do a little changing or some things like that." NASCAR's new qualifying rules package was used for the first time at Daytona in the Sprint Cup Series on Friday, and it produced some head-scratching moments as groups of cars slowed to a crawl around the 2 1/2-mile superspeedway. The small packs - most of them formed by teammates - were hoping to pull behind bigger groups and draft behind them to produce fast laps. But no one was eager to lead the way, especially not in a huge cluster of cars. NASCAR could conceivably change the qualifying rules before the Oct. 19 race at Talladega.(Associated Press)(7-6-2014)
Brian France gives "State of the Sport": NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France met with media as the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season reached its halfway point at Daytona International Speedway. France began the news conference with a review of the new Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup format that features a virtual "win and you're in" formula for making NASCAR's postseason. Beginning his second decade at the helm of the sport, France also addressed the evolving rules package, noting he attended an hour-long session earlier in the day with NASCAR Vice President of Innovation Gene Stefanyshyn. He discussed how the competition group at NASCAR is basing decisions on science and technology. France referred to a new engine package that has been discussed this year and noted that those efforts are part of NASCAR's plan to lower the barrier of entry into the sport for owners and manufacturers. Other hot topics addressed included a recent report about new ways to deliver souvenirs to fans at tracks. France said, "We do think there's probably some newer, better ways to merchandise for fans." When asked whether Iowa Speedway would get a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race, he said, "We don't have plans for a Cup date there." With Nationwide moving from series sponsorship to sponsoring Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s Sprint Cup car next season, France addressed finding a new partner. "...on the Nationwide sponsorship, very good interest," France said. "I think in the coming weeks we'll be getting to the end of that process, and we will be in very good shape when the dust settles there."
On whether the final race of the season might move Ford Championship Weekend from Homestead-Miami Speedway, France said: "When you talk to the Ford people and you talk to people at ISC, at Homestead, they want to do whatever makes sense for that sponsorship." But he continued, Homestead is "... by any definition, the best mile-and-a-half track that the drivers believe that they have -- that they can really race hard and compete hard, and that matters, too, right. It's a very important thing. When you factor all those things in, we're going to be in Homestead for the foreseeable future."
On changes to the overall 2015 schedule, France talked about weather issues at Bristol Motor Speedway over the last few years and said, "We'll be releasing that in September, but it's fair to say that there's a robust discussion within the stakeholders to come up with the best schedule that we can for 2015 and beyond." (NASCAR.com), see the complete remarks by France on the Brain France July 5, 2014 transcript page.(7-5-2014)
NASCAR evaluating souvenir row: NASCAR fans call it souvenir row, and for the last three decades, they have gone there to browse for hats and T-shirts at enormous truck rigs carrying their favorite driver's merchandise. But that tradition may become a thing of the past. NASCAR is in the early phases of re-evaluating its trackside merchandise program, and it is looking to make a change. The company two weeks ago sent a request for proposal to a dozen companies asking them to submit plans for how the sport could change the way it sells merchandise at races.At a minimum, NASCAR is considering reducing the number of truck rigs along souvenir row, and possibly eliminating them altogether, in order to replace them with a more traditional retail concept like the tented stores set up at the entrance to PGA Tour events. NASCAR teams and tracks have offered their support for exploring a change. The evaluation process follows years of declining merchandise sales in NASCAR. Sales reportedly fell from more than $2 billion in 2008 to $1 billion in 2010. Motorsports Authentics, the motorsports licensing company that was jointly owned by International Speedway Corp. and Speedway Motorsports Inc., nearly filed for bankruptcy, and SMI this year abandoned its stake in the business in order to realize tax benefits that outweighed owning it. Motorsports Authentics had been responsible for covering the cost of transporting 20-plus truck rigs to each of NASCAR's 36 Sprint Cup races. The cost of having those trucks crisscross the country became inefficient as merchandise revenue shriveled and attendance decreased at races nationwide.(Sports Business Daily)(7-4-2014)
NASCAR Digital Media makes personnel moves: NASCAR announced several personnel moves designed to position NASCAR Digital Media for continued growth and success. Colin Smith, managing director, NASCAR Digital Media, assumes responsibility of managing day-to-day operations for the sanctioning body's digital platform. John Martin, managing director, Digital and Business Operations for NDM and an eight-year veteran of NASCAR, will also take on additional responsibilities as NASCAR continues to innovate across the entire digital platform. In addition to Smith and Martin, NASCAR also announced the promotions of three other key executives.
- Brian Herbst, a nine-year veteran of NASCAR and one of NDM's first employees, has been promoted to senior director, Content Rights and Partnerships. Herbst will oversee all aspects of NDM's growing distribution business as well as all digital content and partnership agreements.
- Mike Sales has been promoted to director of Design for NDM, reporting to Tim Clark, senior director, Optimization and Programming.
- Donald Baal has been promoted to senior manager, Database Marketing and will expand his role to include digital marketing initiatives across NDM.
NASCAR's digital platform was re-launched on Jan. 3, 2013, when the sanctioning body flipped the switch on a brand-new digital experience and suite of mobile apps.(NASCAR)(6-27-2014)
NASCAR transitions employees to new positions: NASCAR announced transitions today within three key business areas, highlighting the company's commitment to talent development. Patrick Rogers has been promoted to senior director of Driver Marketing Services, Evan Parker becomes senior director of Brand Platforms and Scott Warfield has been promoted to senior director of Social Media and Broadcast Communications. Rogers most recently served as director of Brand Platforms, Marketing. Rogers will report to Jill Gregory, NASCAR vice president of Industry Services. Parker will transition from NASCAR's Los Angeles office to its Charlotte office. He served as senior director of Entertainment Marketing and helped lead the sport's integration efforts into several entertainment properties. Warfield's new responsibilities include guiding NASCAR's overall social media strategy and its cross-departmental integration as NASCAR implements programs across a number of social media channels. He also will continue to work closely with the company's digital, entertainment and broadcasting teams.(NASCAR)(6-26-2014)
NASCAR cuts some staff: NASCAR this month has trimmed its staff, laying off more than 20 employees. The cuts, which were spearheaded by new Chief Operating Officer Brent Dewar, will affect eight divisions of the stock car series. Though NASCAR officials declined to comment about the cuts, sources close to the series said they are meant to improve efficiencies. Dewars, who left General Motors Corp. in January to join NASCAR, has spent six months evaluating staff efficiencies. Those evaluations, series sources said, continue. So the staff cuts may not be done. NASCAR was one of the few sports entities to add employees during the recent recession, adding about 30 employees to its communications department and another 50 or so to its digital division.(Indianapolis Business Journal)(6-25-2014)
First NASCAR race...65 years ago today: Thursday, June 19, marks the 65th anniversary of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series' first race, held in 1949. In what was then called the Strictly Stock division, the race was held at Charlotte Speedway, a .75-mile dirt track, and won by #34-Jim Roper. It featured a 33-car field that included NASCAR Hall of Famers Tim Flock(5th), Buck Baker(11th), Lee Petty(17th) and Herb Thomas(29th).(NASCAR), see race results at racing-reference.info. Eventual 1949 Champion, Red Byron, finished 3rd in a Raymond Parks owned car.(6-19-2014)
Part 2 of NASCAR Race Hub's interview with Mike Helton: NASCAR president Mike Helton continued his exclusive two-part, sit-down interview with NASCAR Race Hub co-host Danielle Trotta on Thursday [June 19th], covering topics facing NASCAR heading into 2015, including the move toward a more technologically-policed pit road, a horsepower reduction and the possibility of adding a road course to the Chase. The transcript:
ON REMOVAL OF THE HUMAN ELEMENT ON PIT ROAD IN 2015 AND REPLACING IT WITH TECHNOLOGY:
Helton: "We're excited about it, actually, not removing the human element, but about using technology to advance our sport. And this is one of the things that we put on the front burner. One of those components is what we can use, NASCAR can use, and the NASCAR industry can benefit from up and down pit road, being our officials on pit road. We've had, on a couple of occasions, to run beta programs up and down pit road already this year, and so the goal is by '15 for the referees and umpires, so to speak, to be replaced with technology and innovation that fans in the grandstands and fans at home can participate and be interactive with the officiating of the sport."
ON THE TIMING OF THE RELEASE OF THE 2015 NASCAR SCHEDULE AND HOW NASCAR MANAGES THE 'RIPPLE EFFECT' OF CHANGING ONE RACE DATE:
Helton: "We hope it comes down sooner than later. We're shooting for mid-summer to get the '15 schedule out. The ripple effect part of it is hard to explain. With a 36-race schedule in the matter of 40-some weeks, it's hard to move one and not be impactful to another, several other weekends, quite frankly. We'd start with the '14 schedule to work on '15, plug in the traditional holidays and try to be consistent with those major events that's held those spots for years and then figure out the other conflicts that we may have. But we try to do our best. We work with the racetrack, the race team and our broadcast partners to come out with what we feel like is a reasonable schedule, if not the best one we can do."
ON THE POSSIBILITY OF ADDING A ROAD COURSE TO THE CHASE NEXT SEASON:
Helton: "I won't sit here and say no but it's not on the short list right now, but I'll never say never to something like that. The road courses have evolved on the NASCAR Sprint Cup side and the Nationwide Series and trucks to be some of our most exciting events. I think we can put our drivers today against any road racer and hold our own very proudly."
ON THE RUMORED REDUCTION IN HORSEPOWER FOR 2015:
Helton: "That's something we have been working on, and historically through the history of the sport, major issues like changing the body to the Gen-6 is something that has to be done well in advance and for several reasons, some of which is the economy of the sport where the teams have amassed inventory based on the current rules and advance inventory to be used. You don't want to obsolete that instantly with the stroke of a pen if you can avoid that. So we created processes over a year ago with Gene Stefanyshyn now on board to talk with the race teams and to talk with the manufacturers what the next architecture of the motor would be. So that's one conversation that's ongoing. And it's got momentum and we'll eventually see a new architecture of a NASCAR Cup engine, possibly a NASCAR Nationwide, possibly a NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. In the meantime, we have dialogue going on about how much horsepower, how much rpm, and we find efficient ways to regulate that, whether it's a gear rule or a single part change that everybody's comfortable with. So those are things you'll see short-term but eventually you'll see a new architecture of motors."
See video of the interview and full transcript at FoxSports.(6-19-2014)
NASCAR's Mike Helton interviewed on NASCAR Racehub UPDATE: NASCAR president Mike Helton sat down with NASCAR Race Hub co-host Danielle Trotta for an exclusive, two-part interview airing at 5:00pm/et on Wednesday, June 18, and Thursday, June 19, on FOX Sports 1. The NASCAR president talks topics ranging from limiting Sprint Cup Series drivers in lower series; the possibility of adding a road course to the Chase; the new Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup format; the "Dale Earnhardt Jr. effect"; race attendance; the move toward a more technologically-policed pit road in 2015; and a horsepower reduction next season.(FOX)(6-18-2014)
UPDATE - Helton interview part 1 transcript in part: NASCAR President Mike Helton sat down with NASCAR RACE HUB co-host Danielle Trotta for an exclusive, two-part "state of the sport" interview whose first installment aired Wednesday, June 18 on FOX Sports 1. Part 2 continues on NASCAR RACE HUB on Thursday, June 19 at 5:00pm/et. On Wednesday's show, Helton discussed a variety of topics that have made headlines in the 2014 NASCAR season, including the new Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup format; the "Dale Earnhardt Jr. effect;" race attendance; the youth movement in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series; and the possibility of limiting NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers in the lower series. The transcript in part, from the interview:
ON WHETHER HE HAS BEEN PLEASED WITH THE CHANGES IMPLEMENTED IN 2014, INCLUDING THE NEW CHASE FORMAT AND KNOCKOUT QUALIFYING:
Helton: "I think we have. Yes. Obviously the qualifying format has grown a lot of interest at the race track, on TV and the 'water cooler talk,' as old folks would call it. Now it's social media, I guess. And it's fun. It's fun to watch, which a sport should be fun. The Chase format was an element to put emphasis on winning. I think that's happened early in the season. The new format is yet to come but leading up to it has been very exciting. So we're pleased so far."
ON WHETHER RACE ATTENDANCE IS A CONCERN, DESPITE THE ON-TRACK PRODUCT:
Helton: "Obviously the product is a priority, and I say 'product' for everybody. But the viewership and the live attendance is something that the whole industry uses to judge successes, and that's something that we've all collectively been working on ever since the swing through the economy. We think we see signs of that. We're encouraged by the uptick. We're encouraged by the enthusiasm that seems to exist among the community now."
ON WHETHER NASCAR IS CONSIDERING LIMITING THE NUMBER OF STARTS THAT CUP SERIES DRIVERS CAN MAKE IN THE NATIONWIDE OR CAMPING WORLD TRUCK SERIES:
Helton: "It's a conversation point that doesn't so far go very far because NASCAR is open-minded. It's open-field, too. We don't believe it's correct to tell someone they cannot compete somewhere. We have NASCAR drivers who go compete in IndyCar or ARCA or a weekly track or a weekly show or open-wheel racing in different programs, and that's the culture of NASCAR to be open-minded about who participates. No one is excluded from participating. You can earn your way in. We have, however, changed some of the rules and regulations around in hopes to encourage and get attention to the ones who are competing on a fulltime level in the Nationwide. It happened a couple of years ago. We had the drivers to select what series they would gather points in ... We saw some signs of being successful there. We're just not of the mindset to exclude somebody from participating. We'd rather encourage everyone who wants to participate to participate. So, if we said, 'You can't play over here,' it's kind of contrary to our culture.'"
On Thursday's show, Helton shares his thoughts on subjects that could impact the 2015 season and future of NASCAR, including the likelihood of adding a road course race to the Chase; the move toward a more technologically-policed pit road in 2015; and a horsepower reduction next season.(see interview at FoxSports)(6-18-2014)
Why did winner Earnhardt Jr. get less winnings than Keselowski: Anyone who looked at the winnings from the Pocono 400 probably did a double take. Dale Earnhardt Jr., the winner of the race, earned $198,965. Brad Keselowski, who finished second, earned $213,783. NASCAR, in order to encourage teams to run every race, decades ago created a winner's circle program. Teams that win can enter the program for a couple of years. NASCAR gives the team extra money in exchange for the driver going to a track for an appearance to promote an event a few weeks before the race. Every organization is limited to two drivers that are eligible for this bonus money. Earnhardt is not one of Hendrick Motorsports' two winners circle drivers. Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon are the two Hendrick drivers on the program. The winner's circle program is not the only program that can cause confusion in winnings. Manufacturers often offer bonus money for a top finisher among their ranks. And several sponsors offer contingency awards as long as the team has the decal of that sponsor on the car. Some teams can't run certain decals because of a conflict with team sponsors and therefore are not eligible for the award. For instance, Tony Stewart won the 3M lap leader award even though he ranked well behind Keselowski in laps led at Pocono because Penske chooses not to run the 3M sticker to avoid conflict with its sponsors.(see full story at Sporting News)(6-12-2014)
NASCAR discusses Dover track repair: Just before the halfway point of Sunday's FedEx 400 at Dover, a piece of concrete came up from the track. #1-Jamie McMurray hit the concrete, causing front end splitter damage. The race was red flagged for more than 20 minutes while NASCAR repaired the track. Robin Pemberton, NASCAR Vice President of Competition and Racing talked to the media about it Sunday after Dover's race.
Q. Robin, a few drivers said over the radio that they saw problems with that this morning. Were any of those concerns brought to you or any of the NASCAR officials?
ROBIN PEMBERTON: We do a track walk after every race and in the morning, so at the time that had been a previous patch, but our staff, our crew didn't see anything wrong with it.
Q. I was just wondering if you could talk about the decision not to let the cars work under the red flag, especially Jamie.
ROBIN PEMBERTON: Yes. We've had issues of things like this in the past, and Martinsville comes to mind, some other things similar to that, and our policy is not to let them work on the car. You may remember when we had an equipment failure, broadcast equipment failure, sometime back, and that affected the entire field of race cars, and at that time we did red flag and we did allow the teams to fix the damage that was caused by that equipment failure. But that is our normal policy, to not allow teams to work on their cars.
Q. Can you talk a little bit about how the actual repair was made, the materials used?
ROBIN PEMBERTON: Yeah, our teams are -- we have equipment and we have product at every facility. Facilities keep it on hand. We do bring extras in case there is a need for it, but it is an epoxy type filler that we use, and it's basically the same filler that's used any time we make a repair at the track, whether it be asphalt or concrete.(NASCAR)(6-2-2012)
'NASCAR: An American Salute' Unites Industry to Honor Military: NASCAR will continue its long-standing tradition of supporting the United States Armed Forces with NASCAR: An American Salute, a platform that rallies teams, tracks, fans and partners to collectively honor active and retired service members and military families. NASCAR: An American Salute kicks-off Memorial Day weekend at Charlotte Motor Speedway's Coca-Cola 600 and concludes Independence Day weekend at Daytona International Speedway's Coke Zero 400.
NASCAR has a long-standing tradition of supporting the brave men and women who devote their lives to protecting our country. During this special time period running from May 25-July 5, the industry will have the opportunity to collectively express our reverence, respect, and gratitude to the millions of members of the United States Armed Forces for the sacrifices they have made in defending our nation.
"Honoring our nation's military is a long standing tradition in our sport," said NASCAR President Mike Helton. "The NASCAR: An American Salute platform truly enables us to collectively express our gratitude to the millions of members of the U.S. armed forces and their families for the sacrifices they have made in defending our nation."
During the seven-week span between the two races, teams, tracks, partners and fans will show their thanks through various activities on and off the track. The wider NASCAR community can show gratitude by visiting www.NASCAR.com/Salute and using the hashtag #NASCARsalutes on Instagram and Twitter.
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, NASCAR Nationwide Series and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series teams will showcase their support by displaying patriotic-themed elements and paint schemes on their race vehicles at Charlotte, Dover, Pocono, Michigan, Sonoma, Kentucky, Daytona, Texas, Gateway and Road America.
In honor of Memorial Day weekend, NASCAR together with Honor and Remember, Inc., will display specially prepared Honor and Remember flags representing each of the 50 United States throughout the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series garage at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Additionally, NASCAR will host two Gold Star families who have each lost loved ones in service to our nation. Throughout NASCAR: An American Salute, NASCAR and the Armed Forces Foundation will host military families at each NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race. The service members will attend the race as part of NASCAR Troops to the Track Presented by Bank of America, a season-long program that hosts active duty military, veterans and military families to races across the country for customized at-track experiences.
NASCAR Official Partners will also come together to support the initiative through patriotic and military-themed activations, including:
- Goodyear's fifth annual "Goodyear Gives Back" charitable program, launched with the running of "Support Our Troops" messaging on all tires used during Memorial Day weekend at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Goodyear will also host, in partnership with the NASCAR Foundation, an online charity auction with NASCAR memorabilia, VIP race experiences and rides on the Goodyear Blimp. Goodyear is matching funds raised through this auction, up to $50,000, to help the military and their families. Information about the program, the Support Our Troops organization and the auction can be found at Goodyear.com/GivesBack.
- Bank of America, the largest employer of military service men and women, will launch its "Express Your Thanks" campaign where fans can use the hashtag #troopsthanks alongside a message or video of thanks to help generate donations up to $1 million for Welcome Back Veterans and the Wounded Warrior Project (WWP). Bank of America, in partnership with Hendrick Motorsports, the NASCAR Hall of Fame and the US Chamber, will host a military job fair at the NASCAR Hall of Fame on Thursday, May 22.
- NASCAR, Coca-Cola, Mars Chocolate North America, and Mondelez have collaborated to create a unique program designed to engage authorized shoppers in over 180 military commissaries. Coca-Cola Racing Family Member Austin Dillon will visit the Fort Bragg Commissary South store in North Carolina to give away four tickets to the Coca-Cola 600 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race on May 25. From May 23 to June 6, commissary shoppers can enter the 2014 Champions Week Sweepstakes for a chance to win a trip to Las Vegas for NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champion's Week by texting NASCAR Salute to 313131 or by visiting http://2014championsweeksweeps.com/
- Additional participating partners include: 3M, Axalta, Coors Light, Ford Motor Company, Mechanix Wear, Camping World, New Holland, 5.11, FDP, Mobil 1, Nationwide Insurance, Sherwin-Williams, Sprint and Toyota.
NASCAR: An American Salute will conclude at Daytona International Speedway's Coke Zero 400 where all active duty military, veterans and their families can enjoy the Troops Welcome Center Presented by Coca-Cola. The center, which will be located in the midway, will be fully equipped with food and beverages, allowing service members to take a break, meet NASCAR drivers, executives and personalities throughout the weekend. Additionally, The NASCAR Foundation will partner with The Armed Forces Foundation on Operation Caring Classroom, an annual education initiative that increases awareness, appreciation and support among children for military families. The NASCAR Foundation will help compile school kits for 1,750 classrooms across the United States.(NASCAR)(5-21-2014)
NASCAR will implement its automated pit road officiating technology: In yet another nod to the priority NASCAR has placed on innovation, NASCAR Executive Vice President of Racing Operations Steve O'Donnell spoke in Boston at the Front End of Innovation, a cross-industry conference bringing together industry executives, practitioners, academics and experts in innovation, product development and research and development. Joining leaders and innovators from best-in-class companies such as Walt Disney, Procter and Gamble, MasterCard, IBM and Microsoft, O'Donnell today presented a case study on the Air Titan 2.0 drying technology, as well as provided an update on NASCAR's technology-driven pit road officiating system. O'Donnell touched on these and other initiatives spearheaded by NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France and borne out of the NASCAR Research & Development Center in Concord, N.C., including safety and competition enhancements, as well as fan engagement and event experience.
"Innovation helps drive NASCAR, and it is central to the sport's evolution," said O'Donnell, who last year spoke at both the Harvard Business School's Cyberposium and the World Innovation Convention in Cannes, France. "There are several examples of it improving the sport, none more recent - and impressive - than Air Titan 2.0. The next wave of NASCAR innovation is the pit road officiating technology, which will increase the overall quality of in-race officiating."
Beginning in 2015, NASCAR will implement its automated pit road officiating technology - becoming the first sport to use technology to officiate each of its events. This technology will be used on every lap, in every race, O'Donnell announced. Testing of this technology is currently underway. This innovative pit road technology will employ numerous video cameras, which will be mounted to inspect and gather data - in real time - from all areas of pit road. Following O'Donnell's overview of the new system, he discussed future incarnations, including the use of the collected data to improve the fan experience while in the stands at-track or watching at home on television.(NASCAR)(5-15-2014)
Industry-Wide Effort Drives NASCAR Race To Green Initiative For Second Straight Year: As part of the NASCAR Race to Green campaign celebrated in the month of April, NASCAR announced that more than 180,000 trees are being planted in areas across the country, including those affected by natural disaster, a 20 percent increase from last year. NASCAR Race to Green is an annual month-long initiative that galvanizes teams, tracks, drivers, Official NASCAR Partners, and fans to take action steps toward preserving and protecting the environment. "Building on last year's success, the industry's coordinated effort to amplify sustainable practices played a major role in helping us exceed the number of trees being planted across the country," said Dr. Mike Lynch, NASCAR vice president, NASCAR Green Innovation. "While our dedication to positively impact the environment is a year-long affair, the NASCAR Race to Green initiative serves as reminder that our collective efforts can make a powerful impact on the health of our planet." This cross-platform campaign encouraged fans to engage online by sharing their own green efforts by using #NASCARGreen. Highlights of the industry's efforts during April were featured on a social hub that lived on NASCAR.com/Green. #NASCARGreen was used more than 10x the amount it was used in 2013. As part of the NASCAR Green Clean Air Tree Planting Program Delivered by UPS, a number of NASCAR-sanctioned tracks planted trees in their local communities and helped spread awareness about sustainable behavior including Darlington Raceway, Daytona International Speedway, Martinsville Speedway, Richmond International Raceway and Texas Motor Speedway.(NASCAR)(5-14-2014)
Yates talks about horsepower reduction: Doug Yates from Roush Yates Racing Engines talks about what's coming in regards to reduced horsepower for Cup teams:
Yates: So where we are today is reducing RPM, talking about taking 500 RPM away. Effectively, that reduces speed on the racetrack and goes along with making the parts last longer. Talking about roller cams. The Cup series is the only series that has a flat tappet cam. It is a really hard application and it is probably the only series in the world that has a flat tappet cam. It gets it more like Nationwide and Truck so the parts could be passed down and they would last longer. If we need to reduce power more, we'd do it through a reduced throttle body size, reducing the air flow through the throttle body. Those are the mechanisms that will be utilized to reduce power.
They are [also] looking at [limiting RPM] through gear ratios. We crossed that bridge years ago when we decided to limit the RPMs and they did it with the final drive ratio. It was a really good way to do it. If the engine will achieve more RPM because it is making more power or the driver gets off of the corner better and he achieves more RPM, then so be it. I think the final drive ratio is a good, easy-to-police way to get there. That is the adjustment they'll make. They do the same thing today in Nationwide and Trucks based on the RPM range they want to run. That has been a good, effective way to run.
NASCAR has had more engagement with the engine building community than they ever have before. We've had five meetings now and Gene Stefanyshyn has done a great job leading those meetings. At first, it was a little bit of going through a process to get everyone to talk and open up. Our lives are about competition so those meetings, at first, were a bit of "I can outdo you on this." Everybody has now settled in to try and achieve Brian France and NASCAR's two initiatives of trying to improve racing through a reduction of horsepower and to try and figure out how to save some cost for the teams."(Frontstretch)(5-7-2014)
United States Tennis Association looking at Air Titan: The United States Tennis Association may be looking to an unlikely source to help solve the unyielding issue of rain delays: NASCAR. The Air Titan 2.0 is a track-drying technology that uses compressed air and heat, which NASCAR implemented this season. The device is attached to the back of a car that drives slowly over a wet track to make it safe to drive following rain. Now, the USTA may be considering a similar strategy. "I was just out with the United States Tennis Association because they have a similar issue with all those courts," NASCAR chairman Brian France said Friday at a conference with sports editors. "When it rains, they need about 20 or 30 minutes to dry their courts. This technology is going to have major ramifications. We always believed that it would. It's a green solution. "To give you a little perspective on that, we can clean the area the size of a football field in 20 seconds with this technology, which gives you a certain feel of why the tennis guys are intrigued to know more about this technology." So far this season, NASCAR has used it with success, as five of the first seven races were delayed by rain.(USA Today)(4-26-2014)
NASCAR to announce engine changes by All-Star race: NASCAR's senior vice president of racing operations has said that a formal announcement on engine changes for the 2015 Sprint Cup Series season will come before next month's Sprint All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway. At a sponsor summit for Iowa Speedway, Steve O'Donnell said that the final overall racing package for 2015 would also see changes involving downforce, aerodynamics, and tires. In additional comments to The Des Moines Register, O'Donnell said that teams have already been notified of where NASCAR was going with the changes and that the process of finalizing the 2015 engine package was underway. O'Donnell wouldn't divulge exact details of the package, but did perhaps show a glimpse of how drivers would have to adapt to it. "If you combine the aero package with that [reduction of] horsepower [and] allow some aero changes with the engines going into the corner, drivers have to get off the gas and they're able to maneuver around a little bit more," O'Donnell said according to the Register's Chad Leistikow. "Combine that with Goodyear and a little softer tire, now you're able to move around a little bit more."(NBC Sports)(4-25-2014)
France, NASCAR earn Cynopsis Sports Awards: NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France and NASCAR Fuel for Business were honored at the Cynopsis Sports Awards Thursday at the Yale Club in New York City. NASCAR Sprint Cup Series team owner Rick Hendrick presented France with the Vision Award, which recognizes the executive of the year from a sports league or organization who has demonstrated innovation and transformed an industry. "With all the stakeholders involved in our sport, it takes a leader who is willing to stand tall," Hendrick said. "Brian has revolutionized the sport of NASCAR, working with the entire NASCAR industry -- the teams, tracks and sponsors."
Accepting the award, France said, "One thing that is never lost on me at these types of sports industry gatherings is how lucky we all are to be working in an industry that evokes so much passion from people across the world." NASCAR Fuel for Business (NFFB) earned two awards for B2B Program and Proprietary Asset. Celebrating its 10th anniversary, the NFFB Council is a business-to-business platform that brings together an exclusive group of more than 50 Official NASCAR Partners to buy and sell products and services. Since its inception in 2004, the quarterly meetings have facilitated more than 1,000 "speed meeting" sessions where Official NASCAR Partners meet and do business with one another.
NASCAR earned Honorable Mentions for Brand Activation at Live Events for its NASCAR After the Lap Sponsored by Ford and Coca-Cola; Brand Extensions/Licensing for Touch by Alyssa Milano and Mobile App - Live Streaming for NASCAR Digital Media's NASCAR RaceView Mobile '13. The Cynopsis Sports Media Awards recognize the most outstanding work in the sports industry from the past year with categories that span television, digital, marketing and more.(NASCAR.com)(4-19-2014)
NASCAR birthplace Streamline hotel sold and to be renovated: The Streamline Hotel, the 1940s-era beachside inn known as the birthplace of NASCAR, has sold, and the new owner plans to renovate the property. Eddie Hennessy, son of cosmetic company Pevonia International founders Phillippe and Sylvie Hennessy, bought the property at 140 S. Atlantic Ave. late last month for $950,000. He intends to restore the art deco building and turn the hotel into an upscale South Beach-style boutique inn. "My goal is to clean up the hotel, the block, the drug stuff going around," Hennessy said. "We're bringing the hotel back to its original state, only more modern." Since buying the hotel, Hennessy has installed new management and has started some work on the facelift. He said he doesn't yet know when the major renovation work will begin, but added he looks to get started "as soon as possible." Hennessy said he plans to start the restoration with the hotel's rooftop bar, which is where in 1947 Bill France Sr. met with race drivers and track owners to form NASCAR. The hotel has a second bar on the ground floor that Hennessy said he intends to turn into a NASCAR-themed lounge. The Streamline will stay open while renovation work is done, Hennessy said. After renovating the rooftop bar, Hennessy will start work on the lobby, the hotel's ground-level bar, then the guest rooms. He said he isn't yet sure how much he will invest in the hotel's renovation.(Daytona Beach News Journal)(4-18-2014)
Boeing Built Marines an Osprey Jeep with NASCAR Connection: One of the drawbacks of the Marines' MV-22 Osprey has been its inability to take aboard an all-terrain, multi-role combat vehicle and deliver it to the fight. The vehicle would have to be only five-feet wide to fit the tight confines of the tilt-rotor aircraft and also have enough power to handle the 60 percent grade of the off-on ramp. Boeing and MSI Defense Solutions, of Mooresville, N.C., have developed the Phantom Badger Internally Transportable Vehicle as a solution to the Marines' problem. MSI Defense Solutions worked with NASCAR teams before it started working with the Pentagon. The 60-inch wide Badger has a 240 horsepower multi-fuel engine, can ford 3 feet of water and can hit 80 mph on paved roads, according to the manufacturers. The vehicle is a much easier fit into the more spacious cabins of the CH-47, the C-130 and the C-17. Boeing played up the modularity of the Badger that would allow it to be configured for a range of missions, including reconnaissance, explosive ordnance disposal, mounted weaponry, and combat search and rescue.(defensetech)(4-10-2014)
France says 'significant' engine changes coming: NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France said Tuesday on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio that modifications to the engines -- which would likely bring a reduction in horsepower -- are the next step in further enhancing the sport's on-track product, although he was unsure if such changes would be in place for next season. "We're going to make that happen, and that's part of the overall rules packages that we design that hopefully control costs, hopefully make the racing better," France said. "The engine is an integral part of that. We also have to be in step as much as possible with the car manufacturers and where they're going with technology and different things. It all has to come together, and that's the next significant part of the rules package. ... The engine will get a significant change. I'm not going to say (for) '15, but we are certainly sizing that up. It's very important for us to get that right." According to representatives of NASCAR's three manufacturer partners, who took part in a conference call with reporters Tuesday, a potential reduction in engine horsepower is still in the very early stages. Sprint Cup Series engines generate 850 horsepower, and are built by five manufacturer-specific companies -- TRD and Triad Racing Technologies (Toyota), Roush-Yates Engines (Ford) and Earnhardt Childress Racing and Hendrick Motorsports (Chevrolet). Most of the changes made in recent years have focused on the cars, beginning with the rollout of the more brand-identifiable Generation-6 vehicle for the 2013 season, and an aerodynamic package that was further refined before this year.(NASCAR.com)(4-2-2014)
NASCAR considering reducing horsepower to Cup cars next season UPDATE: NASCAR is planning on making significant engine package changes in 2015 to extend the life of Sprint Cup powerplants and reduce horsepower. And along with engine changes, there likely will be aerodynamic and tire changes for the Cup cars in 2015 as well. That's the word from NASCAR Vice President of Competition and Racing Development Robin Pemberton. Pemberton said the sanctioning body has had four meetings so far with representatives from Chevy, Ford and Toyota and race teams about how to implement those changes. No consensus has been reached yet, according to Pemberton, but discussions are ongoing in advance of making the changes for next year. Although Pemberton declined to specify how many horsepower NASCAR is looking to cut, sources familiar with the discussions said the reduction would be in the neighborhood of 75 to 100 horsepower. Currently, NASCAR Sprint Cup Series engines make about 860-900 horsepower at most tracks. Discussions are still in the early stages, Pemberton said, but given the fact that there are so few engine suppliers now, they will need plenty of lead-time to make changes for next year.
Among the options being discussed are reduction in engine displacement and changes to throttle body size. Sources familiar with the discussions say that Chevy and Toyota are pushing for a reduction to 5.0-liter engines, while the Ford camp is pushing for the use of tapered spacers, such as are used in the NASCAR Nationwide and Camping World Truck Series engines. Pemberton said any change in the engine package likely would necessitate other changes as well.
"It's not fully appreciated the fact that we've had the same engine for basically 25 or 30 years and it's at 850 or 860 horsepower, where it used to be 500," Pemberton said. "And we are at the same race tracks where we used to run 160 (miles per hour) we're now qualifying at 190 and running 213 going into the corners. There's been a lot of engineering and gains made across the board. Goodyear ... we have the same tire patch as when we started.(FoxSports)(3-23-2014)
UPDATE: NASCAR has another meeting scheduled in April with Sprint Cup engine builders to determine possible changes to the engine for next year, said Gene Stefanyshyn, NASCAR vice president of innovation and racing development. NASCAR has talked with teams since late last year about engine changes for 2015 that would reduce horsepower. "We're all working together to find the solution,'' Stefanyshyn told Motor Racing Network on Friday at Martinsville Speedway. "We have to make sure that the little guys, the smaller engine builders are OK with this and we don't hurt them financially. It's a balance, and we've probably got six different alternatives we're looking at. We're going to be needing to get to a decision here pretty soon.'' Engine builders expect NASCAR to reduce horsepower by about 100 or so for next year.(Motor Racing Network)(3-29-2014)
Second Annual NASCAR Race To Green Initiative: Celebrating the sport's commitment to protecting and preserving the environment, NASCAR officially kicked off its second annual NASCAR Race to Green initiative at Martinsville Speedway. NASCAR is sports' sustainability leader and this effort is intended to build awareness around the programs the sanctioning body, industry, and a wide range of partners have in place to help reduce the sport's carbon footprint. A key pillar of the initiative is a call-to-action for fans and the industry to donate trees that will be planted across the country as well as in a number of areas recently devastated by natural disasters. NASCAR fans can visit www.NASCAR.com/green to donate trees - $1 per tree for a 2-3 foot sapling - to be planted in those areas with the support of The Arbor Day Foundation. Fans are encouraged to share their own efforts around green innovation by using the hashtag #NASCARGreen. Social media highlights of the industry's sustainability efforts will be featured on NASCAR.com/Green. NASCAR will go "green" throughout the month-long initiative with visual reminders reinforcing the importance of this campaign. The color green will be prominently displayed on race vehicles and at tracks across the three NASCAR national series, NASCAR Home Tracks and International Series.(NASCAR)(3-29-2014)
NASCAR Unveils Air Titan 2.0: NASCAR introduced an evolution in innovation - the results of which will continue to elevate a fan's race-viewing experience to an even greater level. The Toyota-hauled next generation of Air Titan, the cutting-edge track-drying technology, made its race weekend debut at Martinsville Speedway today. Air Titan 2.0 is a more compact, more nimble and more environmentally friendly version of its innovative predecessor - one that since its introduction in February 2013 has rescued multiple races, including this year's Daytona 500. Air Titan 2.0 signals a major step forward in NASCAR's innovation cycle. It replaces the bulky support vehicles required by Air Titan 1.0 with a single, self-contained unit that's perched on the bed of a Toyota Tundra. By addressing the size of the power source, NASCAR now has the ability to deploy up to 21 units in Toyota Tundras at larger venues and operate more efficiently on smaller tracks. The Air Titan 2.0 more than triples the blade capacity of the original version and deliver 2.6 times more air volume at a speed of 568 mph, while raising the air temperature by 70 degrees over ambient. With the combination of water removal and accelerated evaporation, the ultimate goal is to reduce track-drying time by 80 percent. Air Titan 2.0 will consume nearly 80 percent less fuel and emit 80 percent less carbon dioxides. Air Titan 2.0 works in conjunction with the Eco-Infused Elgin Track Vacuum/Sweeper and existing jet dryers. In coordination with the roll out of the Air Titan 2.0, Elgin has now become the Official Sweeper of NASCAR Green.(NASCAR)(3-29-2014)
Drivers pleased with change to qualifying: Qualifying [at Bristol] went without a hitch. No wrecks, no traffic jams, no apparent problems with cars cooling their engines. Drivers universally praised NASCAR's decision this week to permit cool-down boxes on pit road, eliminating the need for cars to cruise the lower apron of the track at slow speeds in an attempt to cool their engines.
"That rule change has removed danger and replaced it with opportunity," #2-Brad Keselowski said. "Being able to go out there and make multiple runs is a lot more plausible because of that scenario (with additional cooling capability). That rewards the teams and the fans as well."
Asked about the changes, #24-Jeff Gordon, put his hands together as if in prayer and looked toward the heavens. "That's a great move and I think we're all very thankful," he said.
His Hendrick Motorsports teammate #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr. agreed. "Great move by NASCAR," said Earnhardt Jr., who was 14th fastest in the first qualifying round, failing to make the 12-car transfer spot in the knockout format. "Just being able to use the cool boxes, guys weren't out there riding around. I think it's still exciting, still a good format and much safer."
"This is way better," said #9-Marcos Ambrose, who qualified fifth. "I don't miss going out there and shutting myself off and having a car blow by me at full speed. I commend NASCAR for stepping up and making changes."(NASCAR Wire Service)(3-15-2014)
NASCAR to allow cooldown units during qualifying: NASCAR notified its teams this afternoon that effective immediately the following modifications apply to all elements of its national series qualifying including the breaks:
• One cool down unit connected through either the left side or right side hood flap/cowl flap is allowed to cool the engine
• The hood must continue to remain closed
• Plugging in the generator will not be allowed
• Two crew members will be allowed over the wall to support the car and driver
• No cool down laps will be permitted
NASCAR instituted a new group qualifying format for its three national series in January and has continued to evaluate the process through the first three races of the season. The new format has been well-received by fans, competitors, race tracks and other key stakeholders. NASCAR believes that the modifications announced today should help make the qualifying even better and more compelling.
"The qualifying is new to all of us and as we have said over the past several weeks, we are looking at it from all aspects," said Robin Pemberton, vice president of competition and racing development. "Following discussions, both internally and with others in the garage area, we moved quickly to make a few revisions that will be effective starting with our two national series events at Bristol Motor Speedway this weekend. We believe this will only enhance and improve what has demonstrated to be an exciting form of qualifying for our fans, competitors and others involved with the sport. Moving forward we will continue to look at it and address anything else that we may need to as the season unfolds."(NASCAR)(3-11-2014)
Drivers say qualifying format creates dangers UPDATE: NASCAR's new knockout qualifying format has been universally hailed as more exciting and interesting than the old single-car system. But for the second week in a row, drivers also said it's extremely dangerous. Since the only legal way for teams to cool their cars is to drive slowly around the track, there's a dramatic speed difference between drivers making qualifying runs and those driving as if they're in a construction zone.
"Riding around the bottom - we've got to do it, it's the only way to keep the engine cool - but that has got to be the most dangerous thing I've ever done in racing," #55-Brian Vickers said after Friday's session at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. "(#36-Reed Sorenson) went by me at 170 mph faster than I was going. Had he slipped or hit me, I'd be done. It would be so bad."
Teams need to cool their engines between attempts at fast laps in order to keep their cars from overheating. Teams are not allowed to cool their cars on pit road in between runs because it would require opening the hood to attach a cooling box. NASCAR does not want teams to make adjustments on pit road during the knockout sessions and since policing every open hood would be difficult, it is not permitted. As a result, the disparity in speed created some dicey situations - several of which occurred again Friday.
#15-Clint Bowyer, who qualified third, said he nearly collided with #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr. during one run and called for a change due to the "dangerous" difference in speed. "We've got to stop that," he said. "...I about smoked him. That's not the guy you want to hit at a 140 mph deficit. (A collision is) going to hurt me and it might hurt Dale Jr., and that would be bad for business."
#1-Jamie McMurray, who was among the drivers to raise the safety issue at Phoenix, said he texted NASCAR Vice President of Competition Robin Pemberton a few days ago and was told, "Let's give it a couple weeks and just see what plays out." [NASCAR spokesman Kerry] Tharp echoed that sentiment in a statement to USA TODAY Sports on Friday. "We're only two race weekends in with the new qualifying format," he said. "It's something new and it's something that will take time to get used to. We will continue to look at it."(USA Today)(3-8-2014)
UPDATE: NASCAR officials say they don't expect to make any changes to the new qualifying process before NASCAR Sprint Cup Series teams arrive in Bristol next week for the Food City 500 race weekend. Several drivers expressed concerns about close calls with slower cars idling around on the apron to cool their engines during Friday's qualifying here at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. "We're going to sit for a while, field all the questions and see what happens," Robin Pemberton, NASCAR vice president of competition and racing development, said Saturday morning. "It's a very small snapshot of qualifying so far." Pemberton said officials had spoken with drivers that voiced concerns about the process. "We're listening," he said. "We told them it's too early to tell (if tweaks are necessary). "Other than the cars running around on the bottom and you had one or two complain that it was a close call ... again, we're listening to them, but we want to take a better snapshot of it."(NASCAR.com)(3-9-2014)
Drivers want NASCAR to let teams cool cars during qualifying: NASCAR's new knock-out qualifying format is more interesting than its former single-car qualifying format. But it's definitely still a work in progress. For example, one of the more notable instances from [the] session was drivers turning slow laps and cutting their motors on the track in an attempt to cool their cars down enough for one more hot lap. Under the rules of the new format, teams are not allowed to cool the cars down on pit road. The slow laps made for a bit of a lull in the session, but more importantly, they're a potential safety issue. #1-Jamie McMurray, who qualified third on the inside of Row 2 for Sunday's event, believed that the sanctioning body should consider allowing the teams to be able to cool their cars in the pits. Logano, perhaps noting the down time in the session, chimed in as well: "The cars would also go out more often. It takes so long to cool, so if you can do it in five minutes and go back out, there would be more cars on the race track to do a hot lap."
As for NASCAR's viewpoint, vice president of competition Robin Pemberton said that the reason for not having cool-down units used was to ensure that the hoods would stay closed and illegal adjustments to the car would not be made. "Like everything we've been able to do the last 4-6 months, we'll continue to talk to the drivers and teams, and solicit feedback on how, if anything, we can improve," he said. "We heard some of the same [feedback] and we also heard drivers within the last 30 minutes stop by and say, 'Don't let anybody talk you into hooking up the cool-down units.' Because they feel it's part of the strategy of how much tape you run, how many laps you run, how many times you run in the entire session. There are a whole menu of things that people want to work on and not work on."(NBC Sports)(3-1-2014)
NASCAR comments on veto of Arizona bill: Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer vetoed a bill Wednesday that would have allowed businesses that asserted their religious beliefs the right to deny service to gay and lesbian customers. The controversial measure faced a surge of opposition in recent days from large corporations and athletic organizations, including Delta Air Lines, the Super Bowl host committee and Major League Baseball.(CNN)
NASCAR Statement: "We are pleased with Arizona Governor Jan Brewer's veto of SB1062. NASCAR actively strives to promote diversity and inclusion throughout the motorsports industry. NASCAR has a zero tolerance policy against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, race, gender, national origin, age, color, disability, religion, or other factors which deny the essential humanity of all people."(NASCAR)(2-27-2014)
OCESA signs extension to continue operating NASCAR Mexico Toyota Series: For the past decade, NASCAR and OCESA have established the NASCAR Mexico Toyota Series as the national championship for racing in the country. Tuesday's announcement establishes the framework for them to build upon that success. NASCAR and CIE, the leading live entertainment company in Latin America and third biggest live entertainment promoter of the world, have reached a 10-year landmark agreement for the Mexico-based Toyota Series to continue to operate under the NASCAR banner through the 2023 season. The NASCAR Mexico Toyota Series is the premier auto racing series in Mexico. It traditionally runs a 15-race schedule, and for the second year in a row will kick off the season at Phoenix International Raceway. In another significant moment, Deportes Telemundo will air NASCAR Mexico Toyota Series' Toyota 120 live on mun2, a first for NASCAR and the Mexico-based series. The 2014 season will mark the 11th overall for the NASCAR Mexico Toyota Series, which has been a NASCAR-sanctioned series since 2007. The inaugural year featured just one oval, while recent years have had just one or two road courses. This is emblematic of the shift the series has undergone under the NASCAR banner.(NASCAR)(2-26-2014)
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series WINNER Decals New for 2014: Last month, NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France announced that the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series would change its championship format to put an increased emphasis on winning each and every week. Along with the spoils of victory - including a likely spot in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup - the winning driver / team will receive a WINNER decal to display on their car. All NASCAR Sprint Cup Series winners now will receive the decal, to be placed next to the driver's name above the door, following a victory. The first recipient will be the winner of the 56th annual Daytona 500 on Sunday.(NASCAR)(2-23-2014)
NASCAR looking into limiting drivers' double duty: NASCAR said Saturday it is looking at potentially limiting the number of second- and third-tier event Sprint Cup regulars can run during the season. Officials have already talked about a potential rules adjustments. Maybe even a change. "We're definitely aware of the fan messaging we get," said Steve O'Donnell, NASCAR's senior vice president of racing operations. "There's a balance, especially talking to the tracks, of having a Cup driver or two in the Trucks or Nationwide. ... We have had discussions with the race teams about ownership and should Cup drivers get points and we've looked at should they be limited in the number of races. It's something we are really studying."(Associated Press)(2-23-2014)
NASCAR's Highest Paid Drivers 2014: NASCAR driver salaries have been shaved in recent years with fewer dollars available as sponsors cut back on their financial commitments to teams. Drivers that once made $4-6 million in salary are getting re-signed to deals for $3 million in some cases. Guys on poorly funded teams are lucky to make seven figures. Licensing and endorsement money has also dried up for all but the very elite drivers. Endorsement deals that once paid $500,000 a clip are now $250,000 and many have disappeared completely. But for the sport's stars, the paychecks are nearly as big as ever and can reach eight figures in salary alone. The 10 highest-paid drivers pulled down $170 million in 2013 in cumulative salary, endorsements and their share of winnings and licensing income.
Leading the way for the sixth straight year is Dale Earnhardt Jr., who earned $25.6 million in 2013 by Forbes' count. Earnhardt's licensing income is down significantly from five years ago when he was making $30 million a year, but he is still the sport's biggest star with the biggest salary, as well as the top licensing and endorsement income, according to sources. Earnhardt's #88 Chevy carries the most expensive real estate in the sport. The Army National Guard spent $30 million in 2013 on sponsoring 20 races on the #88 car and activating around the sponsorship. Hendrick Motorsports entered the past two seasons with 13 races to sell on Earnhardt's car, but even if owner Rick Hendrick has to pick up the tab on a couple of races, the sponsorship revenue for Earnhardt's car is still the envy of the sport.
#48-Jimmie Johnson, ranks No. 2 with estimated earnings of $24.8 million last year. Johnson won his sixth Sprint Cup title, which carried bonuses and special awards of $5.8 million. Johnson's total prize money haul of $14.7 is twice as much as Earnhardt, but Johnson's endorsements and licensing income lag behind. #24-Jeff Gordon in third earning $18.2 million in 2013. His merchandise was the sport's second best seller, behind Earnhardt, in 2013, according to multiple sources. Gordon also benefits from his ownership stake in the #48 car. NASCAR's golden girl, Danica Patrick, ranks No. 9 with earnings of $13.5 million. See full report at Forbes.com.(2-22-2014)
The Most Valuable NASCAR Teams 2014: Thirty years ago Rick Hendrick launched All-Star Racing with five employees and 5,000 square feet of workspace. Geoff Bodine raced the fledgling outfit's sole NASCAR Cup entry in the #5 car and finished ninth in the season long standings, including three victories. The company was rebranded Hendrick Motorsports the following year and a racing dynasty was born. Hendrick Motorsports today carries more than 500 employees in 430,000 square feet of workspace across a 140 acre campus in Concord, N.C. It has racked up 218 victories and a record 11 season titles in Sprint Cup, plus an additional 52 wins and four championships in the Nationwide and Truck series. The success has propelled Hendrick to the top of the NASCAR food chain. The team is worth $348 million, by Forbes' count, twice as much as any other NASCAR squad.
Joe Gibbs Racing ranks No. 2 with a value of $171 million, up 2% from last year. Roush Fenway Racing ranks No. 3 with a value of $157 million, down 6%. The team making the biggest jump is Stewart-Haas Racing, which ranks fourth with a value of $148 million, up 20%. #5 is Richard Childress Racing at $128 million; #6 is Team Penske at $108 million; #7 is Michael Waltrip Racing at $80 million; #8 is Chip Ganassi Racing at $69 million; #9 is Richard Petty Motorsports at $50 million. See full report at Forbes.com.(2-22-2014)
NASCAR Rule Book Reveals More on Infractions: The new NASCAR Sprint Cup Rule Book provides more details on what type of infractions can lead to particular penalties and includes a list of members of the Appeals Panels that reveals four new members. This year's Rule Book is 208 pages, 16 pages more than last year's version. The book lists 34 people in the pool for the appeals panels. There were 48 in the pool last year. The Rule Book also provides more explanation of its penalty structure. NASCAR's new deterrence system divides infractions into warnings and penalties labeled from P1 (least severe) to P6 (most severe). The Rule Book states that if a team receives two warnings during an event or two warnings during two consecutive events, then that may result in a P1 penalties that could include the team having the last choice in pit selection, reduction of track time in practice or qualifying or be selected for post-race inspection, among various possibilities. See full report and much more info at Motor Racing Network.(2-13-2014)
NASCAR Taps Military Veteran As Director, Touring And Weekly Communications: NASCAR announced several personnel moves within its Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC) department, including the hiring of Tom Bryant, a 20-year U.S. Army veteran, to a new position of Director, Touring and Weekly Communications. Bryant is a recently retired Lt. Colonel, who completed his service after a decorated career in the Infantry and Special Operations. He most recently served as director of public relations for the U.S. Special Operations Command in Kabul, Afghanistan.
"Tom brings a wealth of communications experience under a variety of different environments to NASCAR," said Brett Jewkes, NASCAR chief communications officer. "He grew up around short tracks and has a life-long passion for racing. As we increase our focus on the grassroots racing programs that are so instrumental to developing the next generation of drivers and fans, securing a leader for this position was our top offseason priority. Given NASCAR's long-standing commitment to the U.S. military, we're proud to add Tom to our team."
Bryant, an Alabama native, officially begins March 3 and will be based out of the Daytona Beach, Fla., office. He will report to David Higdon, managing director, integrated marketing communications, and work closely with George Silbermann, NASCAR vice president of touring and weekly series, as well as a number of other NASCAR executives whose business units directly are impacted by the touring and weekly series.
Prior to his most recent service in Afghanistan, Bryant held the following positions with the U.S. Army:
ˇ 2010-2012 - Director of Public Relations, U.S. Army Special Operations Command, Fort Bragg, North Carolina
ˇ 2008-2010 - Director of American Forces Network South, Vicenza, Italy
ˇ 2006-2008 - Chief of Media Relations and Public Information, U.S. Military Academy, West Point, New York
ˇ 2004-2006 - Director of Public Relations, 101st Airborne, Ft. Campbell, Kentucky
ˇ Prior to 2004 - Infantry Officer, U.S. Army
In addition, NASCAR announced the hiring of Adé Herbert as coordinator, Fan and Media Engagement Center. A graduate of Fordham University in New York who served in the U.S. Navy from 1993-97, Herbert participated in the NASCAR Diversity Internship Program and worked with Rev Racing for three years on its marketing and public relations initiatives. Herbert will be based in NASCAR's Charlotte, N.C., office.
NASCAR also made several Integrated Marketing Communications promotions heading into the 2014 season:
Kurt Culbert has been promoted to senior director, stakeholder communications
Jayme Avrit has been promoted to senior manager, stakeholder communications
Matt Nordby has been promoted to senior manager, broadcast and entertainment communications
Alex Moore has been promoted to senior coordinator, content communications
NASCAR evaluates sponsorship: NASCAR has transformed its research and insights capabilities, giving the racing-car circuit's commercial partners - like Coca-Cola - a deeper insight into return on investment than ever before. Sean Doherty, NASCAR director/digital and social-media engagement, told an American Marketing Association (AMA) webcast audience: "The Coca-Cola Co. came to us and wanted a brand analysis for each of their drivers. They wanted share for each driver; how each one engaged with fans; and the size of their social footprint. They wanted to be able to activate their brand against a track, a race, or off site as well." Stepping up to that challenge, said Doherty, "We had to transition from a PR department to a fully-integrated marketing communications model. We took a deep dive into the industry's position relative to digital and social media. We researched the way that fans experienced our events. And we looked at the way people consumed other sports and entertainment properties. We searched for growth markets to attract new fans to the sport. And we also took a critical look at our current portfolio of drivers." NASCAR found a partner to give it the tools required to make this transition, as information technology group Hewlett-Packer designed and created the Fan and Media Engagement Center. This research facility features 13 screens of 46 inches in size, as well as three work stations and the analytical tools NASCAR needs to help race-car teams, tracks, sponsors, broadcast partners process more data faster. The facility provided Coca-Cola with the insight it needed, as well as securing engagement from a group of other Fortune 100 companies, including Sprint, Goodyear Tires, MillerCoors and ExxonMobil.(Warc)(2-11-2014)
NASCAR and ACORE Announce Partnership: At the Lockheed Martin Global Vision Center in Arlington, Va., NASCAR and the American Council On Renewable Energy (ACORE) announced a multi-year partnership that designates the Washington, D.C.-based non-profit as NASCAR's newest Official Green Partner. A member-based 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization, ACORE is dedicated to building a more secure and prosperous America with clean, renewable energy. With a focus on technology, finance and policy, ACORE promotes all renewable energy technologies for the production of electricity, fuels, heat and hydrogen. Lockheed Martin is sponsoring ACORE in this partnership; the companies share a commitment to promoting energy innovation, sustainability and careers in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields.
"Our new partnership with ACORE exemplifies NASCAR's commitment to expand the reach and scope of our Green platform," said Dr. Mike Lynch, NASCAR vice president of green innovation. "This collaboration will allow us to implement forward-thinking initiatives that are designed to educate our industry and fans about the benefits of putting environmentally responsible practices in place."
NASCAR now boasts the three largest green programs in sports: renewable energy, recycling and clean air. According to a 2013 study conducted on the Official NASCAR Fan Council, three out of four avid NASCAR fans are aware of "NASCAR Green" (72%) and recognize it as showing NASCAR cares about the environment (77%).
On the renewable energy front, NASCAR surpassed five million competition miles last year across its three national series on Sunoco Green E15, a biofuel blended with 15 percent ethanol made from American-grown corn. A study commissioned by NASCAR and conducted by Toluna in 2013 shows avid NASCAR fans are nearly +50% more likely than non-fans to understand ethanol is a renewable resource. NASCAR also has the largest renewable energy stadium project in the world, Pocono Raceway, which powers more than 250 homes in the region.
"America has always thrived on innovation and grit, and the renewable energy industry in particular has had dramatic successes, building up a new energy infrastructure, and bringing down costs in a short period of time," said ACORE CEO and President Michael Brower. "Through the educational outreach of this partnership, we want to ensure the next generation of skilled workers in renewable energy is well equipped to create a more prosperous American future built on clean, renewable energy."
Sponsored by Lockheed Martin, ACORE will activate its NASCAR partnership with selected at-track activities in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Daytona International Speedway in July; Chicagoland Speedway in September; and Kansas Speedway in October. ACORE will provide educational tools about renewable energy and sustainability and an on-site membership registration. ACORE will also play a role in NASCAR's month-long Race To Green Campaign in April, which will highlight the accomplishments of green programs that NASCAR, the industry and a wide range of partners have in place to help reduce the environmental impact of the sport.
"At Lockheed Martin, we've been committed to providing innovative energy solutions for decades; we are thrilled to now work alongside ACORE and NASCAR to educate and inspire fans to go green," said Frank Armijo, vice president of energy solutions at Lockheed Martin. "By helping fans learn more about renewable energy, we can help build a strong, sustainable future."(NASCAR)(2-10-2014)
Sprint Cup officials explain rule changes ahead of Daytona 500: On Thursday, NASCAR competition officials held their version of "Meet the Press" at the NASCAR R&D Center in Concord, N.C. The atmosphere was cordial and conducive to discussion. Some of the more important explanations included the claim that the new Chase points system was more than three years in the making. Bonus points after Richmond count only in the first round of the Chase. Thereafter, pre-Chase bonus points will not be counted after each of the final resets. Awarding more points to winners was considered and discarded because it might create a runaway situation. In other words, NASCAR didn't want the Sprint Cup title to be clinched at any point before the series finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
As for the new qualifying rules, announced before last week's media tour, we learned that, at first, many crew chiefs were against permission to make any changes to the cars in between sessions. But, after careful consideration, they lobbied for certain concessions, like changing tape (changing downforce), wedge alterations (for handling) and other minor changes. Flat tires in qualifying? NASCAR officials said one scuff (or scuffed-in) tire, not a matched set.
Also, though the qualifying schedule runs less than one hour when you add up the length of the knockout sessions, if all things go smoothly in the three-segment shootout, the television window will more likely go 90 minutes to account for breaks. One journalist asked about explaining to fans what happens in the case that the fastest lap is set in segment one -- perhaps even a track record -- but someone else gets the pole? NASCAR said it's the media's job to explain that.
As for the penalty system -- now known as the deterrent system -- the graphics published last week are a guide, but not a final, final answer. NASCAR always reserves the right to invoke its "EIRI" rule, also known as "except in rare instances."
Speaking of rules, at some point this year the rules will go electronic, meaning all teams will have instant access to technical updates.(AutoWeek)(2-7-2014)
NASCAR Installs Five Eaton EV Charging Stations At Charlotte Offices: At the NASCAR Plaza in Charlotte, N.C., today, officials from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), NASCAR and Sprint Corp. announced the companies' participation in the Department's Workplace Charging Challenge - a collaborative effort to increase the number of U.S. employers offering workplace charging. The Challenge also supports the broader efforts of the Department's EV Everywhere Grand Challenge to make plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs) affordable and convenient for the American family.
"As the market for electric vehicles continues to grow, partners in the Workplace Charging Challenge are giving drivers more transportation options that save money and benefit the environment," said Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy David Danielson.
As part of today's announcement, NASCAR unveiled five Eaton Level 2 electric vehicle (EV) charging stations at its Charlotte location, bringing the total number of EV charging stations to 20 across NASCAR facilities located in Daytona Beach, Concord, Charlotte and at Michigan International Speedway. The charging stations power electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles of NASCAR employees and guests. Last year, NASCAR entered a Memorandum of Understanding with the DOE to jointly promote clean, efficient energy technologies that strengthen U.S. competitiveness. NASCAR's participation in the Workplace Charging Challenge is the latest example of these ongoing collaborative efforts to build a cleaner, more sustainable energy economy.
"Working with the Department of Energy to help build out an EV charging infrastructure was critical given its benefits which include lowering greenhouse gas emissions, improving public health, increasing energy security and lowering operating cost per mile," said Dr. Mike Lynch, NASCAR vice president of green innovation. "Our commitment to better the environment has positioned NASCAR as the leader in sports sustainability, and we hope to influence other partners to follow our lead by joining the challenge."
Through the Workplace Charging Challenge, Sprint is installing an electric vehicle charging station in each of the 14 parking garages on its headquarters campus in Overland Park, Kansas. Each station will have the capability to charge two cars at once and will be available to Sprint employees, contractors, campus tenants and visitors. Additionally, four of the stations, funded by Kansas City Power & Light, will be available for public use. Installation has already begun and all of the stations should be ready to use by the end of March.
"Sprint is proud to support the U.S. Department of Energy's EV Everywhere vision by joining The Workplace Charging Challenge. It is also a pleasure to make this announcement today with fellow challenge member and long-term partner, NASCAR," said Gene Agee, Sprint vice president of procurement and real estate. "This year, more than a dozen electric vehicle charging stations will be installed at Sprint's headquarters campus, benefiting employees, contractors, campus tenants and visitors. The stations are enabled by Sprint's mobile broadband technology to monitor and control use."
More than 55 employers have already committed to the Workplace Charging Challenge, including a number of NASCAR Official Partners such as 3M, Coca-Cola Company, Ford Motor Company and General Motors. Find additional information on the Workplace Charging Challenge at www.electricvehicles.energy.gov.(NASCAR)(2-7-2014)
NASCAR Announces Chase For The NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship Format Change: NASCAR announced a new championship format today that will put greater emphasis on winning races all season long, expands the current Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup field to 16 drivers, and implements a new round-by-round advancement format that ultimately will reward a battle-tested, worthy champion. "We have arrived at a format that makes every race matter even more, diminishes points racing, puts a premium on winning races and concludes with a best-of-the-best, first-to-the-finish line showdown race - all of which is exactly what fans want," said Brian France, NASCAR chairman and CEO. "We have looked at a number of concepts for the last three years through fan research, models and simulations, and also maintained extensive dialogue with our drivers, teams and partners. The new Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup will be thrilling, easy to understand and help drive our sport's competition to a whole new level."
Changes announced by France to the championship format include:
- A victory in the first 26 races all but guarantees a berth in the 10-race Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup - a change that will put an unprecedented importance on winning a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race all season long
- Expanding the Chase field from 12 to 16 drivers, with those drivers advancing to what now will be known as the NASCAR Chase Grid
- The number of championship drivers in contention for the NASCAR Sprint Cup championship will decrease after every three Chase races, from 16 to start in the Chase Grid; 12 after Chase race No. 3; eight after Chase race No. 6; and four after Chase race No. 9
- The first three races of the Chase (27-29) will be known as the Challenger Round
- Races 30-32 will be known as the Contender Round
- Races 33-35 will be the Eliminator Round and race No. 36 will be the NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship
- A win by a championship-eligible driver in any Chase race automatically clinches the winning driver a spot in the next Chase round
- Four drivers will enter the NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship with a chance at the title, with the highest finisher among those four capturing the prestigious NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship.
Eligibility for the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup: The top 15 drivers with the most wins over the first 26 races will earn a spot in the NASCAR Chase Grid - provided they have finished in the top 30 in points and attempted to qualify for every race (except in rare instances). The 16th Chase position will go to the points leader after race No. 26, if he/she does not have a victory. In the event that there are 16 or more different winners over 26 races, the only winless driver who can earn a Chase Grid spot would be the points leader after 26 races.
If there are fewer than 16 different winners in the first 26 races, the remaining Chase Grid positions will go to those winless drivers highest in points. If there are 16 or more winners in the first 26 races, the ties will first be broken by number of wins, followed by NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver points.
As was implemented in 2011, prior to the start of the Chase, all Chase Grid drivers will have their points adjusted to 2,000, with three additional bonus points added to their total for each win in the first 26 races.
Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Structure After the third Chase race, the Chase Grid will be left with 12 drivers. After the sixth Chase race, the field will drop to eight drivers, and following the ninth Chase race, only four drivers will remain in championship contention for the NASCAR Sprint Cup title.
The first round (races 27-29) will be called the Challenger Round. If a driver in the Chase Grid wins a Challenger Round race, the driver automatically advances to the next round. The remaining available positions 1-12 that have not been filled based upon wins will be based on points. Each will then have their points reset to 3,000.
The second round (races 30-32) will be called the Contender Round. Likewise, if a driver in the top 12 in points wins a race in the Contender Round, the driver automatically advances to the next round. The remaining available positions 1-8 that have not been filled based upon wins will be based on points. Each will then have their points reset to 4,000.
The third round (races 33-35) will be called the Eliminator Round. If a driver in the top eight in points wins a race in the Eliminator Round, the driver automatically advances to the next round. The remaining available positions 1-4 that have not been filled based upon wins will be based on points. Each will then have their points reset to 5,000.
Additionally, drivers who are eliminated in the Contender and Eliminator Rounds will have their points readjusted. Each eliminated driver will return to the Chase-start base of 2,000 (plus any regular season wins bonus points), with their accumulated points starting with race No. 27 added. This will allow all drivers not in contention for the NASCAR Sprint Cup title to continue to race for the best possible season-long standing, with final positions fifth-through-16th still up for grabs.
Four Drivers, First-to-the-Finish Championship Finale The 36th and final race of the season will be the NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship. Simply stated, the highest finisher in that race among the remaining four eligible drivers will win the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series title. Bonus points for laps led will not apply in the season finale, so the official finishing position alone will decide the champion.
All rules outlined above also apply to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series owner championship structure.(NASCAR)(1-30-2014)
Chase For The NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship Format Change FAQ: NASCAR Q&A about the new Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup:
Q. Does this new Chase format emphasize winning?
A. Absolutely. The easiest way to make the new Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup is to win. And winning is also the fastest way to advance in the Chase and become one of the four drivers competing in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Q. How will the Chase Grid drivers be selected?
A. Positions 1-16 on the Chase Grid will be determined by the drivers with the greatest number of NASCAR Sprint Cup Series wins after the first 26 races. However, the 16th position is reserved for the points leader if he/she does not have a win.
Q. How will the Chase Grid be seeded?
A. All drivers will have their points total reset to 2,000 points. Drivers receive 3 additional bonus points for each win during the fir st 26 races.
Q. Is there a minimum points standing that a driver who records a win during the first 26 races must achieve to make the Chase Grid?
A. Yes. A driver must be in the Top 30 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series points following the first 26 races AND have attempted to qualify for all of the first 26 races.
Q. What if a driver is prevented from competing in one or more of the first 26 races due to injury or illness?
A. NASCAR, for rare instances, can waive the requirement of attempting to qualify for all of the first 26 races as long as the driver is in the Top 30 in points.
Q. Which races are the advancement races?
A. Once the field is reset after the 26th event, there are advancement races following the 29th event (Dover); 32nd event (Talladega); and 35th event (Phoenix). There will be four drivers competing for the Sprint Cup Championship at Homestead.
Q. Will lap leader bonus points still be applied?
A. In all but the final race, bonus points for laps led still will be awarded in the Challenger, Contender and Eliminator Rounds. However, at the NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship, the four drivers will start the race tied and there will be no bonus points .for laps led, etc. The highest finisher among that group will be the champion.
Q. What happens to a Chase Grid driver's points if he/she doesn't advance to the next round?
A. Drivers who don't advance to the next round will have their point totals reset to the Chase-start base of 2,000 (with any regular-season wins bonus points), plus the additional points they've earned during the Chase.(NASCAR)(1-30-2014)
Sprint Media Tour kicks off Monday: After a week of industry news and media opportunities with teams, tracks, sponsors and drivers, the Sprint Media Tour Hosted by Charlotte Motor Speedway culminates with NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France's State of the Sport on Thursday in the Great Hall of the NASCAR Hall of Fame. "This four-day event provides media outlets across the country and around the world with newsworthy content as fans gear up for the 2014 NASCAR season," said Marcus Smith, president and general manager of Charlotte Motor Speedway. "It takes a lot of support and cooperation from Sprint, the race teams and NASCAR to make it possible, and we've been proud to produce this preseason kickoff for more than 30 years. I'm always as excited as our fans to hear what the drivers and owners have to say about the upcoming season." The schedule is:
Monday, Jan 27: Press conferences by Stewart-Haas Racing, Leavine Family Racing and JTG Daugherty Racing
Tuesday, Jan 28: Press conferences by Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates, Richard Childress Racing, Furniture Row Racing, and Hendrick Motorsports
Wednesday, Jan 29: Press conferences by Roush Fenway Racing, Richard Petty Motorsports, Front Row Motorsports, Wood Brothers Racing, and Team Penske. That evening is the NASCAR Hall of Fame post-induction ceremony
Thursday, Jan 30: Press conferences by Michael Waltrip Racing and Joe Gibbs Racing, followed by NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France's State of the Sport.(NASCAR.com), Events will be streamed live at NASCAR.com.(1-27-2014)
Auto Racing is fourth most popular sport: Pro football is the most popular sport in America for at least the 30th straight year. That's according to a survey taken this month by the Harris Poll, which has been asking adult fans, ages 18 and over, about their favorite sport since 1985. In 2014, 35 percent of fans call the NFL their favorite sport, followed by Major League Baseball (14 percent), college football (11 percent), auto racing (7 percent) [not specifically NASCAR], the NBA (6 percent), the NHL (5 percent) and college basketball (3 percent). In 1985, the first year the poll was taken, the NFL bested MLB by just one percentage point (24 to 23 percent), but since then interest in baseball has fallen while the NFL has experienced a huge rise in popularity. Nine percent fewer fans call baseball their favorite sport over the 30-year span, the biggest drop of any sport. The polling numbers suggest that the sport hasn't been able to recover from a popularity standpoint from 1994, when a strike forced the cancellation of the World Series. One other significant drop was in professional golf. Throughout Tiger Woods' pro career, which began in 1996, no less four percent of the U.S. adult population called golf their favorite sport. But since 2010, the first year after Woods' extramarital affair scandal, only two percent of Americans have called it their favorite sport.(ESPN.com)(1-27-2014)
New Qualifying Format announced: In a move aimed toward enhancing the fan experience watching at the track and at home, NASCAR has announced a new group qualifying format for its three national series that is more compelling, more closely emulates actual on-track competition and underlines the sport's on-going commitment to innovation.
At tracks measuring 1.25 miles in length or larger, qualifying for the Coors Light Pole Award will consist of three rounds:
• The first qualifying elimination round will be 25 minutes in duration and includes all cars/trucks. The 24 cars/trucks that post the fastest single lap from the first qualifying round will advance to the second round.
• The remaining cars/trucks will be sorted based on their times posted in the first round of qualifying in descending order.
• The second qualifying elimination round will be 10 minutes in duration and the 12 cars/trucks that post the fastest single lap time will advance to the third and final round. The fastest remaining cars/trucks earn positions 13th through 24th based on their times posted in qualifying in descending order.
• The third and final qualifying round will be five minutes in duration and the fastest single lap time will determine positions 1st through 12th in descending order.
• There will be a five-minute break between each qualifying round.
At tracks measuring less than 1.25 miles, qualifying for the Coors Light Pole Award will consist of two rounds:
• The first qualifying elimination round will be 30 minutes in duration and includes all cars/trucks. The 12 cars/trucks that post the fastest single lap time from the first qualifying round will advance to the second and final round.
• The remaining cars/trucks will be sorted based on their times posted in the first round of qualifying in descending order.
• There will be a 10-minute break between the two qualifying rounds.
• The second and final qualifying round will be 10 minutes in duration and the fastest single lap time posted will determine positions 1st through 12th in descending order.
The new qualifying format does not apply to the Daytona 500, which will preserve its historic and unique qualifying format. Additionally, it does not apply to non-points NASCAR Sprint Cup Series events or the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series event at Eldora Speedway. NASCAR previewed the concept of group qualifying with its national series teams late last fall and expects the new format will be a well-received improvement by its fans, competitors, tracks, sponsors and media partners. "We believe the timing is right for a new qualifying format across our three national series," said Robin Pemberton, vice president for competition and racing development. "This style of group qualifying has all the makings of being highly competitive and more engaging to our fans in the stands and those watching on television and online. For the drivers and teams, we believe this new qualifying will fuel even greater competition leading into the events. Additionally, it provides our tracks, broadcasters and other key partners with a greater opportunity to develop more entertaining content for our race weekends."(NASCAR)(1-22-2014)
NASCAR considering changes to the Chase, points system: NASCAR is planning a vast restructuring of the points system in its premier Sprint Cup Series that would greatly emphasize winning races and feature eliminations in its Chase playoff system, according to multiple sources briefed on the plan this week. In addition to expanding the Chase field from 12 to 16 drivers, a win in the season's first 26 races would virtually ensure a driver entry into the championship Chase. If there were more than 16 winners, the 16 with the most wins and highest in points would gain entry.
Once the Chase field was set, a round of eliminations - similar to the NCAA tournament - would take place after the third, sixth and ninth race of the Chase, culminating with the championship determined by a winner-takes-all season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Under the proposed system - which could still change before an expected announcement later this month - winning would become virtually a necessity to make the Chase and win the championship.
According to sources briefed on the proposal on Friday, 16 teams would make the Chase, with positions first going to full-time series contenders who won a race through the first 26 races of the season. Should 16 drivers not win races, the remaining slots would be filled by the drivers highest in points.
Once the field is set for the Chase and re-seeded, the four lowest in points among Chase contenders would be eliminated from title contention after the third, sixth and ninth race in the Chase. The four remaining contenders would enter the season finale reset with the same amount of points. The driver who earned the most points in the season finale would be the series champion.
Participants have been told changes could still occur in the format but the proposal addressed this week was the direction NASCAR was now seemingly headed.(Charlotte Observer)
NASCAR Statement: "NASCAR has begun the process of briefing key industry stakeholders on potential concepts to evolve its NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship format. This dialogue is the final phase of a multi-year process that has included the review of extensive fan research, partner and industry feedback and other data-driven insights. NASCAR has no plans to comment further until the stakeholder discussions are complete. We hope to announce any potential changes for the 2014 season to our media and fans very soon."(NASCAR)(1-18-2014)
NASCAR, manufacturers talk tech at Detroit auto show: NASCAR, manufacturers and teams have collaborated to make a handful of changes to their cars for the coming season, and though many of the tweaks may be small -- they could wind up paying big dividends. Gene Stefanyshyn, NASCAR vice president of innovation and racing development, said cars will be closer to the ground at all but the fastest of tracks the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series visits. He was among the panelists for Wednesday's Tech Talk forum at Cobo Center, home of the 2014 North American International Auto Show. Other changes include a steeper rear spoiler, squaring of the front splitter and slightly higher trim of the rear fascia, but Stefanyshyn said those alterations probably will be harder to spot.
The lack of severe changes comes a year after the series began running the Gen-6 race car, the result of a collaboration between NASCAR and the three manufacturers that field NASCAR Sprint Cup cars. Jamie Allison of Ford Racing, David Wilson of Toyota Racing Development and Jim Campbell of Chevy Performance Vehicles and Motorsport also were panelists, and all three said that sense of collaboration still exists -- even though all three nameplates want to be first to the checkered flag.
Two of the most enlightening tidbits from the discussion included Allison noting that a lack of testing time means simulators are used more and more to prepare cars for different tracks. In many cases, he said, the driver's first time in the car on a new track is with a setup prepared with extensive computer help.
A variety of metrics, Stefanyshyn added, also are used to measure the flow and general competitiveness of a race. A variety of factors, including the number of passes for the lead and the distance between the first and fifth, 10th or 15th cars in the running order, are among the factors NASCAR uses to grade the overall entertainment factor in a race.(NASCAR Wire Service)(1-16-2014)
NASCAR-themed car wash: A business with a name tied to high-speed auto racing is scheduled to open this month in Elmwood Park, IL, hoping to attract lots of cars to looking for a speedy wash. The owners of NASCAR Car Wash, located at 7525 W. Grand Ave., are hoping their business will capitalize on the high traffic along Grand Avenue. Dean Tomich, who runs the day-to-day operations of NASCAR Car Wash, headquartered in Joliet, thinks they made the right choice. He said after looking at several communities, Elmwood Park seemed like a good location to expand the business. The company has other NASCAR Car Washes in Illinois and Michigan and is planning to expand into other states. The NDP Group holds the license to build the NASCAR Car Wash brand.(Elm Leaves/Sun-Times)(1-14-2014)
Changes Coming to Cup qualifying: The Nationwide and Camping World Truck Series each will change its qualifying format this season, doing away with single-car runs, NASCAR confirmed Friday. Robin Pemberton, vice president of competition, announced the change but would not reveal details. He said that format changes will be announced later this month - among several moves NASCAR is expected to announce throughout January. Pemberton said that the changes in both series qualifying formats would include the season-opening races at Daytona International Speedway. NASCAR won't say if the format will change to qualifying races, group qualifying, the knock-out qualifying system used in Formula 1 or some other format instead of running one car at a time on the track. The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series also is expected to have changes made to its qualifying procedure this season. Pemberton said the Daytona 500 qualifying format for the Cup series will remain the same with single-car runs on Feb. 16 on the Budweiser Duel at Daytona on Feb. 20.(Motors Racing Network)(1-11-2014)
NASCAR Names Richard Buck NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Managing Director: NASCAR has named Richard Buck as NASCAR Sprint Cup Series managing director. Buck will serve in the role held the past 12 years by John Darby, who will remain at NASCAR as managing director, competition. Buck and NASCAR's two other national series managing directors - Wayne Auton (NASCAR Nationwide Series) and Chad Little (NASCAR Camping World Truck Series) - now will report directly to Robin Pemberton, NASCAR vice president, competition and racing development. Buck currently serves as vice president, racing operations for the International Motor Sports Association (IMSA), a role he will maintain through the 2014 Rolex 24 At Daytona (Jan. 25-26), at which time he will assume his new position. In addition to his role with IMSA, Buck has been serving as the managing director of NASCAR's Touring Series, the all-important grassroots racing program that has developed numerous top-flight NASCAR drivers over the years.
"Richard Buck has demonstrated a deep and unique knowledge of motorsports, and his versatility and innovative approach to competition should serve the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series garage extremely well," said Mike Helton, NASCAR president. "His wide range of expertise will be of great benefit to our premier series. NASCAR is in the midst of exciting change in the Competition area, and Buck will be instrumental in providing us with fresh insights and implementing many of the changes in the years ahead."
A native of Phoenix, Buck worked from 1980-2000 as a crew chief, team manager and director of operations with open-wheel racing teams. As a crew chief, he is a multiple-time winner of the Indianapolis 500. Prior to joining NASCAR in January 2005, Buck worked with teams in all three NASCAR national series.
"I'm eager and ready to pursue this unique opportunity to serve as the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series managing director," said Buck. "I appreciate the faith that NASCAR's management team has entrusted in me for this role. As we prepare to launch the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season, I'm thrilled to expand my role in the sport of NASCAR, and I look forward to helping the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series competition team continue to produce the best racing in the world."
Buck will maintain his current role as IMSA prepares to hold the 2014 Rolex 24 At Daytona during the inaugural TUDOR United SportsCar Championship season. With his pending departure, IMSA will realign its competition structure, with Scot Elkins, IMSA vice president, competition and technical regulations, to work even more closely with NASCAR's top executives in racing, including Steve O'Donnell, executive vice president, racing operations; Gene Stefanyshyn, vice president, innovation and racing development; and Pemberton. They will form a joint NASCAR / IMSA Competition Committee to meet routinely to share ideas, best practices and resources on innovation and development regarding the two different types of racing. Additionally, as Buck has been serving as NASCAR's managing director of its Touring Series, he will relinquish that role and NASCAR will promote Brad Moran to that position. Moran has been serving as the Touring Series director.
Darby will retain responsibilities as managing director, competition, helping to transition the NASCAR Competition model as it evolves to incorporate more technology and innovation originating at the NASCAR Research & Development Center. Over the past 12 years, Darby has been an instrumental part of a significant number of enhancements for NASCAR, including the introduction last year of the Gen-6 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series car and an innovative laser inspection process.(NASCAR)(1-9-2014)
France Answers Fan Questions on 'NASCAR Live': NASCAR Chairman Brian France says he'd like to see more primetime races, that series officials want to find ways to make winning more valuable and he's looking forward to the #3 returning to the Sprint Cup Series this season. France made those comments Tuesday night on Motor Racing Network's "NASCAR Live" show. France spent an hour with host Eli Gold and took phone calls from fans throughout the country.
France said there have been discussions with the TV networks about start times. "If anything, we're trying to go a little bit later,'' France said. "We're, obviously, trying to get more prime-time events and be in the widest possible audience that's available on television, although I certainly understand that creates some hardships as well with people trying to get back.''
Another topic was related to the points. France told the media in December that he wanted to find ways to incentivize winning. He mentioned that notion again during his "NASCAR Live'' appearance when asked about the length of races. "We're working on the (race) format of the future, maybe it's a little bit different, maybe it's more than a little,'' he said. "We also, I would tell you, we are not satisfied that we have the exact balance we want with winning, consistency, points, running for a championship. (see full story at Motor Racing Network)(1-8-2014)
NASCAR changes spoiler height for Daytona: NASCAR tweeted Monday afternoon that they have altered the spoiler size that teams will use February in Daytona.
"NASCAR notified Sprint Cup teams today that the spoiler size for the January DIS test and the 2014 Daytona 500 event week, including the Sprint Unlimited, will be 4.5 inches tall. This is .5 inches taller than previously. NASCAR says the taller spoiler size should allow for a little more rear down force which should make the cars a little more stable."(12-24-2013)
NASCAR Delivers 2014 Competition Package to Teams UPDATE: NASCAR delivered the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series rules package to race teams today, following collaborative development by the industry. "It was important to get the final pieces of the rules package to teams as quickly as possible following the final tests last week," said Gene Stefanyshyn, NASCAR vice president of innovation and racing development. "Throughout the process, we gained valuable data that informed many of the changes for 2014. This data will prove useful as we continue to evolve the racing product into the future."
Changes to the package include statically setting the race car ride height and eliminating the pre- and post-race front height rules and inspections. Additionally, the 2014 package includes:
a square leading edge on the splitter;
side skirt and rear fascia adjustments;
an eight-inch rear spoiler;
a 43-inch by 13-inch radiator pan.
"We looked at a number of important factors when finalizing what the 2014 version of the race package will look like," Stefanyshyn said. "The Gen-6 car has been a great asset to our sport. As we continue to improve and develop the racing product, we'll rely significantly on the critical data that has been generated by the entire industry over the last several weeks. We're extremely appreciative of those efforts." The first race featuring the new package will be at Phoenix International Raceway on March 2. This package will not be utilized for restrictor-plate races (Daytona/Talladega), including the 2014 Daytona 500 on Feb. 23.(NASCAR)(12-17-2013)
UPDATE on Tuesday, December 17th, the NASCAR Teleconference had NASCAR's VP of Innovation and Racing Development, Gene Stefanyshyn do a Q&A with media about the 2014 Competition Package announced earlier in the day. Some items discussed included impact speeds on the racetrack, downforce and presumably higher cornering speeds, are you going to have to do anything different tire-wise, how the changes in downforce will effect the tires, throttling back RPMs, the radiator pan, the size of the spoiler and more, View the full transcript.(12-17-2013)
France touches on a variety of topics at press conference: NASCAR continues to work on improving its on-track product, an endeavor chairman Brian France takes so seriously he plans to attend Monday's test at Charlotte Motor Speedway. The test at Charlotte will be the second as NASCAR continues to seek a rules package that could enhance the competition. "Obviously, we want to get more lead changes, we want to get closer, tighter competition," France said Thursday in a briefing with reporters. "I'd love a photo finish every weekend. The point is that we're going to be working all the time on (improving) the competition and ... lead changes are going to be a huge part. Once that Charlotte test is complete and NASCAR has a better grasp of its 2014 rules, the focus could be turned to other areas of the product: France hinted Thursday there could a larger emphasis placed on winning and changes coming to the qualifying process. For qualifying, NASCAR told competitors it is considering moving away from single-car qualifying for the group formats used on road courses. France also downplayed an overhaul to the 2015 Sprint Cup schedule when NBC takes over the second half of the NASCAR television package. "Most tracks with a couple of exceptions don't like to give up a date that's worked for them and so on that they've had for a long time," he said. "So there might be a change or two, but I wouldn't predict any significant changes." Other topics covered by France:
-The Richmond scandal: France said he was personally "pissed off, to be honest" when it became clear that Michael Waltrip Racing had manipulated the end of the regular-season finale in its attempt to get Martin Truex Jr. into the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship field. -Formula One's scheduled race in Austin, Texas: The F1 schedule released this week placed the U.S. Grand Prix in Austin on Nov. 2 - the same day as the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, a three-hour drive from Austin. "Well, I wouldn't have done that myself," he said about F1's race date. "I'm sure they had the same kind of scheduling challenges that we do. They go all over the world, and that was what they chose. It wouldn't be my first choice."
-Iowa Speedway: NASCAR last week announced it had purchased the track, but has no plans to add a Sprint Cup race to Iowa. The track has hosted Nationwide Series and Truck Series races since 2009, and IndyCar also races at the facility. France said NASCAR's ownership gives the track some stability.(Associated Press), see a transcript of the press conference on the December 5 NASCAR Teleconference transcript page.(12-6-2013)
NASCAR adopts new race sponsorship guidelines: NASCAR has set a new guidelines that will govern and require approval for race naming rights sold by racetracks starting in 2014. Call it "The NRA Rule." The new policy - established about six months after the National Rifle Association sponsored the Sprint Cup race at Texas Motor Speedway - was revealed in sanction agreements filed Friday by Dover Motorsports Inc. with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. "As part of the normal course of annually reviewing our sanction language, there are some changes that take place," NASCAR spokesman David Higdon said Monday. "This is one of those situations. We previously said we'd take a look at this area of the sanctioning agreements, adjust as needed, and that's what we've done." TMS officials have indicated the NRA will not return as the race sponsor. Whether NASCAR would now reject the NRA was not immediately clear since NASCAR has not received a request. But what is clear is that it would face more scrutiny in the past when NASCAR's sanction agreements did not require formal approval and simply said, "NASCAR reserves the right to approve or disapprove any advertising, sponsorship or similar agreement in connection with the event." The 2014 sanction agreement now states that tracks must submit for approval all race entitlement sponsors. "(NASCAR) will disapprove a prospective entitlement sponsor only if such prospective entitlement sponsor's brand has been tarnished by, controversy, crisis or circumstance such that its association with the event would damage the NASCAR brand or the image of the sport or ... it would damage the (broadcasting) network's ability to sell advertising," the sanction agreement states.
The other major change in the sanction agreement is that NASCAR says it will pay for the use of its new Air Titan track drying system at events, but it can require its use. In the past, tracks were responsible for all jet fuel used for jet driers.(Sporting News)(11-26-2013)
Preseason media tour getting a change in 2014: Charlotte Motor Speedway's annual preseason NASCAR media tour, which has brought hundreds of motorsports journalists to the Charlotte area each January for three decades, will undergo a facelift next season. The media tour, typically held over four days in mid-January, will be repackaged and consolidated in 2014 and center around the annual NASCAR Hall of Fame induction ceremony held in uptown Charlotte. In 2014, the tour will begin Tuesday, Jan. 28, and conclude on Thursday, Jan. 30. The Hall of Fame induction ceremony is scheduled for Wednesday night, Jan. 29. Most events on the tour will take place in and around the Hall of Fame. Most years the tour has been based at a hotel near the speedway. The Hall will also host a fan-focused event on Feb. 1, called "NASCAR Fan Day at the NASCAR Hall of Fame." The details of the day's activities will be announced at a later time.(Charlotte Observer)(8-1-2013)
NASCAR to unveil changes on Monday UPDATE: NASCAR is set to unveil a set of initiatives on Monday which will include several changes to its research and development and competition areas, sources familiar with the changes told the Observer. NASCAR has scheduled briefing with members of the media on Monday at its research and development center in Concord in which it is expected to address the changes. According to sources, among the changes to be adapted include ending the practice of NASCAR inspectors being assigned to specific series; a change to the process for approval of parts; and a change to the process of how and how often cars are inspected each weekend at the race track. A reshuffling or reclassification of some responsibilities of personnel is also likely, sources said.(Charlotte Observer)(7-15-2013)
UPDATE: NASCAR plans to automate its rule book and revamp its appeals process in a wide-ranging effort to bring more clarity to race teams and fans. The governing body outlined several initiatives Monday it expects to implement in its three major series before the start of the 2015 racing season. The effort started eight months ago and will be an ongoing process to keep up with technology and fan interests, said Steve O'Donnell, NASCAR senior vice president of racing operations.
That includes converting its rule book from a word document to computer automated-design drawings that can be easily accessed by race shops to see what's allowed and what isn't. Penalties will be specifically spelled out for each type of infraction. When a rule is broken and a team appeals, NASCAR wants more experts on the panel instead of some who might not have as strong a background regarding the infraction.
O'Donnell also discussed innovations geared to the racing fans. He said NASCAR wanted to keep in synch with what people drive on the streets so their experience can match somewhat with their favorite Sprint Cup driver on the track.
Another area was shifting more inspection responsibility to NASCAR's Research & Development operation away from the track, freeing up more time for race teams to practice instead of waiting to have their cars looked at. NASCAR inspectors, who are assigned to individual series, in the future would be trained to handle all events, either in Sprint Cup, Nationwide or Camping World trucks.
There might also be locked-in times for on-track inspections, meaning fans would know when their favorite cars are getting put under the microscope and be on hand to watch.
O'Donnell said NASCAR would also improve information fans can access about pit stops, although he wasn't yet sure if it would be limited to online access, a component at each track for fans at the stands, or both.(Associated Press)(7-15-2013)
Watkins Glen International
Watkins Glen, NY
Happy Hour Practice:
Friday, August 7, 2015, 4:40 pm/et
TV: NBCSN 4:30pm/et