(NOTE: some older links may not work)
Congress cuts National Guard sponsorship funds: Congress has stripped funding for the Army National Guard's sponsorship of motor sports following revelations that advertising on race cars did little to generate recruits. Lawmakers cut the Guard's advertising budget by $13.8 million, the same amount the service had requested to sponsor race cars, said Maj. Earl Brown, a Guard spokesman. In August, the Guard announced that it was ending its sponsorships of Dale Earnhardt Jr. of NASCAR and Graham Rahal in the Indy Racing League. In 2014, the Guard spent $105 million on advertising aimed at attracting recruits and enhancing its image. That included sponsorships for NASCAR that cost $32 million and $12 million on IndyCar. The Guard has said it sponsorship of NASCAR was aimed at building "brand awareness" for the service.(USA Today)(12-15-2014)
Earnhardt Jr. to flip coin at Tax Slayer Bowl: TaxSlayerBowl Twitter posted: @DaleJr will toss the coin for the #TaxSlayerBowl. Yes, you can win a trip to Jax and a chance to meet Dale. taxslayerplayer.com.(12-9-2014)
Who's pitting for Edwards in 2015? UPDATE: You never know what a team or pit crew will do with a few months to think, but [Pit Talks] have an idea of who might be pitting the 4th JGR car for Carl Edwards next year. This is not official by any means and strictly rumors, but we think it's pretty dang close to being correct.
Pit Talks hears that Front Changer Clay Robinson and Front Carrier Kevin Harris will be coming over to JGR from [Hendrick]. Both guys were on the front of Dale Jr.'s #88 last year and will be sticking together at Gibbs next year.
Pit Talks also hear that Jackman Trey Burklin will be coming back to JGR after leaving a year ago to go jack the #5 at Hendrick. Trey was the back up at JGR a few years back and jacked the NNS cars for Gibss before heading over the HMS to jack the #5 this year.
On the rear will be Changer Kip Wolfmier and Matt Ver Meer. Wolfmier was the old rear changer for the #5 car of HMS this year before being replaced by Jeremy Fuller. Matt Ver Meer was on the #88 of Dale Jr. and had been for the last few years.
The gas man will be Kenneth Purcell. Kenneth has been at JGR for years now as a NNS jackman and back up Cup guy. Kenneth won 4 championships as a jack man on the #48 and has been with JGR for the last 4 or so years. Now, he is converting to a gasman for this 4th team.(Pit Talks)(11-23-2014)
UPDATE: Earnhardt will lose his car chief as well as at least three of his over-the-wall crew members. His car chief has his blessing, considering Jason Burdett will move to JR Motorsports to crew chief an Xfinity Series car for Regan Smith. Earnhardt acknowledged Thursday that crew members leaving after their contracts expire is part of the business. "It is a business, and those guys saw an opportunity to do something else elsewhere," Earnhardt said following a NASCAR awards luncheon at the Encore in Las Vegas. "We had a great run together. They were the best team on pit road for the last two years. I never once felt at a disadvantage when I pulled on to pit road. It's going to be a challenge to replace those guys." Hendrick Motorsports has several over-the-wall crew members on contract and training to replace those leaving. "We've got a lot of great potential crew members that are training every day," Earnhardt said. "I was over there Tuesday, and they were working their guts out. We've got guys in the wings ready to move up, ready for that challenge. It's going to be a difficult challenge to replace the talent we have because those guys were amazing." In addition to having new over-the-wall crew members and a new crew chief, Earnhardt will have a new car chief. Travis Mack, car chief this year for Greg Ives on the Nationwide Series championship car driven by Chase Elliott, will move with Ives to the Hendrick Cup car with Earnhardt. "Burdett has been looking for that opportunity for a really long time," Earnhardt said. "The deck sort of got shuffled there at the last minute and it opened the door for Burdett and it also opened the door for Travis Mack. ... We were excited, really, to give both of them the opportunity they wanted. Burdett wanted the opportunity to crew chief and Mack wanted the opportunity to move into a car-chief role at the Cup level. So both of these guys get what they want." Earnhardt emphasized that having engineer Kevin Meendering returning is the key to having a smooth transition with the crew-chief change. Ives and Mack will get their first chance to work with Earnhardt in their new roles Tuesday and Wednesday at a Goodyear tire test at Charlotte Motor Speedway.(Sporting News)(12-6-2014)
Dale Earnhardt Jr. is Most Popular Driver: during the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Awards, it was announced that #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr. won the 2014 NMPA Sprint Most Popular Driver Award. Dale Earnhardt Jr., has won the MPD award for the past 12 seasons. Only NASCAR Hall of Famer Bill Elliott has more MPD awards with 16. The Sprint NMPA Most Popular Driver Award is the only major NASCAR award determined solely by fan vote. For info on the award and past news, see Jayski.com's Most Popular Driver page.(12-5-2014)
Earnhardt, Jr. wins at Martinsville: #88-Dale Earnhardt, Jr. won the Goody's Headache Relief Shot 500 Sprint Cup Series race at Martinsville Speedway for his 4th win of the season, 1st at Martinsville and his 23rd career win. He took the lead from #14-Stewart with 3 laps to go. Stewart had stayed out after a late race caution while Earnhardt and most of the leaders pitted.
#24-Gordon finished 2nd followed by #31-Newman, #14-Stewart, #22-Logano, #20-Kenseth, #15-Bowyer, #11-Hamlin. #47-Allmendinger, and #34-Ragan.
Polesitter #1-McMurray finished 16th.
Among the Chase drivers, #4-Harvick suffered damage after contact with #20-Kenseth. He had to go behind the wall for repairs and finished 33rd. #2-Keselowski broke an axle with less than 70 laps to go and finished 31st.
There were 24 lead changes among 11 drivers. There were 15 cautions for 105 yellow flag laps. The race was red flagged twice, one on lap 436 for nearly 11 minutes and on lap 490 for almost 9 minutes, both for track cleanup after accidents.
The average speed was 70.725mph.
See unofficial race results, awards, money won, laps led, cautions and more on the Unofficial Race Results page (pdf) and check out the Penalty Report (pdf) and Lap Summary Report (pdf).
See UNOFFICIAL drivers championship points standings on the Unofficial Drivers Points Standings (pdf).
See the UNOFFICIAL owner points standings on the Unofficial Owners Points Standings page (pdf).
Earnhardt, Jr. helping raise concussion awareness: #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr. knew immediately something was wrong during a 2012 crash at Talladega, where his car was hit hard from behind. He was asked on his radio if he was OK, and it was clear Earnhardt was not. "I don't know. I mean, I don't know how many of them hits like that I can take," NASCAR's most popular driver told his crew. He recounts the crash in his personal story of his own battle with a concussion in a video made for the Sports Medicine Concussion Program at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. UPMC on Wednesday launched the website ReThinkConcussions.com to detail treatments. Featured on the site are Earnhardt and baseball catcher David Ross, who were both treated at UPMC by Dr. Micky Collins, the clinical and executive director of the Concussion Program. Collins is considered one of the leading experts in athlete concussions. A 30-second version of Earnhardt's video will air nationally during the upcoming NASCAR races at Martinsville and Homestead. It will also be shown regionally during the World Series and evening news broadcasts. Other pro athletes who will be featured in the ReThinkConcussions.com initiative include quarterback Brady Quinn, second baseman Brian Roberts and Tyler Hansbrough of the NBA.(Associated Press)(10-23-2014)
The Four drivers eliminated from Chase...comments:
#88-Dale Earnhardt, Jr:
TELL US ABOUT YOUR AFTERNOON AND WHAT ULTIMATELY HAPPENED OUT THERE?
"I still really don't know. I haven't had a chance to look at it. Got with the #16 (Greg Biffle) a little bit. I don't know if I came down on him or what it. I thought I was holding my line, but we were all kind of tight back there."
INCREDIBLE SEASON, BUT NOW HEARTBREAK, DESCRIBE YOUR THOUGHTS NOW:
"The race is over, it's time to go home."
ON THE RACE IN GENERAL
"We worked real hard all day long trying to run up front. I knew we needed to be up front all day long. We got shuffled to the back. I made a move trying to get up front and it didn't work out. So, we lost a lot of track position and never got it back."
WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON NOT MOVING ON IN THE CHASE?
"Well we will just go try to win some more races before the year is out. That is all we have left."(Chevy Racing PR)(10-20-2014)
2015 team sponsorships coming together: Some top NASCAR Sprint Cup teams have sold their primary sponsorships for all of next season, but space remains on the cars of #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr., #5-Kasey Kahne, Carl Edwards and #15-Clint Bowyer four months before the 2015 season begins. Among the teams that have sold all their primary sponsorship for next year are #24-Jeff Gordon, #48-Jimmie Johnson, #22-Joey Logano, #4-Kevin Harvick, #20-Matt Kenseth, #18-Kyle Busch and #11-Denny Hamlin. "It's certainly not easy finding a sponsor, but there was an abundant amount of interest in our sport and in our team," said Dave Alpern, chief marketing officer at Joe Gibbs Racing, which expands to four cars next season. Steve Newmark, president of Roush Fenway Racing, says that the three-car organization has fewer primary sponsorship openings then it did at this time a year ago. Ben Schlosser, chief marketing officer at Richard Childress Racing, says that his three-car organization also is ahead in selling sponsorships, noting some companies were willing to start negotiations earlier. "I think the climate is getting better," Newmark said. "It's not where we need to be, but I think the whole sport is doing a better job of marketing." Newmark credits more collaboration with NASCAR compared to when he arrived at Roush four years ago. Newmark also said that the team has made many changes to better serve sponsors. See more team-by team info at Motor Racing Network and check out the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Team / Driver Chart.(10-16-2014)
ESPN employees visit Hendrick Motorsports: Five years ago, Rich Feinberg - ESPN vice president, motorsports, production - came up with an idea. "At ESPN, we cover all sports, but it's a very stick-and-ball culture," Feinberg explained. So he brought a concept to ESPN management and eventually NASCAR management. Why not gather a group of ESPN employees and bring them inside the world of NASCAR? "By immersing people in it, they learn about it, they have a new respect for it, and when it comes down to working on it, they do better," he said. ESPN and NASCAR loved the idea, and for five years, Feinberg has hand-picked a group to make the trek to Hendrick Motorsports headquarters in Concord, North Carolina. In the 2014 version of the immersion program, that certainly proved true. In addition to NASCAR and Hendrick Motorsports employees, among the participants were SportsCenter anchors Jay Harris, Chris Hassel, Darren Haynes, Lisa Kerney and Jaymee Sire in addition to ESPN Radio host Freddie Coleman, executive producers Mike Shiffman and Andy Tennant, senior news editor Jodi Herbert and Director of Talent, Planning and Development Chris Duffy. Included in the immersion was an overview of the human performance element of the race teams, featuring a tour of the training field, gym and pit pad. At the pit pad, the group got a chance to take a shot at changing a tire, splitting into two teams racing against the clock for the win. After the competition, the group went on to tour the engine shop and the race shops for the #5, 24, 48 and 88 teams. Finally, the group got to take an exclusive tour of Hendrick Motorsports Owner Rick Hendrick's Heritage Center, featuring his extensive car collection. It was just part of their immersion, as the group later got the chance to take in the Bank of America 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.(Hendrick Motorsports)(10-15-2014)
Earnhardt Jr. comments about his tire issue at Kansas: #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr. experienced a tire failure while leading the Hollywood Casino 400 Sprint Cup Series race at Kansas Speedway on lap 122, his comments:
Q) WHAT HAPPENED?
Earnhardt Jr.: "I was going into Turn 3 and the surface of the tire unwound all the way across the surface. And I don't know; just the whole surface of the tire unwound like a string. It just came off the tire and it popped off the corner. I felt it coming apart through the corner and the surface of the tire is gone. The whole cap came off. Must have been a recap (laughs). But I've got to hand it to the guys. Man, that was a great race car. We hadn't been running very good the last several weeks. But man, when we came in here with a great attitude and a great fast car; this is the car that we won Pocono with both times. It's a good car. Hopefully we didn't hurt it too bad and we'll just try to go to the next one. This is going to hurt us in the points, obviously, but we've got a lot of racing left and a lot of racing to win. We're running good."
Q) WHAT HAPPENED OUT THERE?
Earnhardt Jr.: "The tread unwound off the tire going into (turn) three all the way through the middle of the corner. I felt the tire unwinding and the surface of the tire was gone by the time I got to the exit of the corner and it blew."
Q) WE WERE TOLD IT WOULD BE ON THE EDGE TODAY DID YOU NOTICE ANY OF THAT?
Earnhardt Jr.: "No, my car was good it was turning. Really wasn't running that hard. Sometimes the tires just unwind. I don't know why they do that. We have had it happen a couple of times this year. It just happens every once in a while. We haven't had any tire wear. We didn't wear the inside edge out down to the cords and pop the tire, the tread just came off." Q) WHAT ABOUT THE CHASE IMPLICATIONS? NOT THE WAY TO START THIS ROUND:
Earnhardt Jr.: "Yeah, the points - it's going to hurt. It is what it is. We just have to go to the next race and try to win."(Team Chevy)(10-5-2014)
Earnhardt Jr. may race for his own team in the future: #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr. met with members of the media at Kansas Speedway and discussed many topics, including:
Q) WHAT ARE YOUR HOPES AND FUTURE PLANS FOR JR MOTORSPORTS WITH REGAN SMITH STAYING AT LEAST THROUGH NEXT YEAR? HAVE YOUR PLANS CHANGED? IS IT EVOLVING AND WILL WE SEE DIFFERENT THINGS THERE? WHAT DO YOU LOOK AHEAD TOWARDS?
Earnhardt Jr.: "Well the Nationwide Series is a year to year deal. Our sponsorships are short term compared to the Cup level so our relationships with our drivers have to fit in those windows as well. That is nothing unusual about going year to year or every two years with a driver contract. We do the same thing with the sponsorships as well sometimes. We would love to have longer agreements, but that just depends on the money just like every other piece of the puzzle. The money really has a big effect on it. I am really happy that we are basically going to have a carbon copy of what we did this year next season. We have had a lot of success and I think we can build on that and everything is going to stay in place and we are going to go on down the road. On down the road is just 12 months. When you talk about the Cup Series you look a little further. I would like to race for that company one day, so I hope to keep it healthy until that opportunity presents itself. Whenever I'm done Cup racing to jump in a Nationwide car and do that for a couple of years in my own shop."(Team Chevy)(10-5-2014)
Regan Smith re-signs with JR Motorsports, but still eying Cup career: Though Regan Smith re-upped for a season of Saturdays, he still wants to be a Sunday driver. In the midst of a championship battle against teammate Chase Elliott, the driver of the #7 JR Motorsports Chevy recently agreed to another one-year deal with the Nationwide Series powerhouse owned by Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kelley Earnhardt Miller and Rick Hendrick. Smith's longer-term goal is to return to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, where he last raced full-time in 2012 before losing his ride in the #78 Furniture Row Chevy to Kurt Busch. That's one reason why Smith signed a one-year deal with JR Motorsports. "I definitely want to get back to Cup," said Smith, who trails Elliott by 26 points with five races left in the Nationwide Series schedule. "I don't think I've ever denied that or said that I don't. That's the goal. I want to prove that I belong there and get to race on Sunday's and get to run the longer races again." Though there are several seats in the Cup series that have yet to be filled for next year, Smith wanted to get his 2015 plans squared away before the 11th hour. "Naturally, there are some openings-on paper, it would appear-on that (Sprint Cup) side," said Smith, who notched his only Cup victory in the 2011 Southern 500 at Darlington. "I think a lot of thing would still have to play out on the Cup side, and a lot of things look like they're still taking place over there, and some quality race teams that are still trying to figure out what they're going to be doing. But at the time, I just felt like it was time to go ahead and start trying to solidify some things for next year and know, generally speaking, where I'm going to be."(NASCAR Wire Service)(10-4-2014)
Earnhardt Jr.'s Steering Wheel breaks during practice: #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr. had an unusual occurrence in second practice at Dover International Speedway when he reported a broken steering wheel. "The steering wheel broke internally," Earnhardt said. "I heard you say that, that's not cool," replied his crew chief Steve Letarte "I'll take a look at it." "Yeah," Earnhardt said with a laugh. "I'd be in trouble." Before the issue with his steering wheel, he told the crew, ""The right rear shock tightened it up right before the second compression. The sway bar seems to his the center real hard since we put it in."(Motorsport)(9-27-2014)
Nationwide expands sponsorship of the #88 Chevy: Nationwide has expanded its three-year relationship with Hendrick Motorsports to become the majority sponsor of driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. and the #88 Chevy team beginning with the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season. Nationwide, which in May announced it will join Hendrick Motorsports as a corporate partner, will increase its primary sponsorship of Earnhardt to 21 Sprint Cup events, including the Daytona 500, for each of the next three seasons. The revised agreement provides Nationwide with nine additional primary races in 2015 and eight additional primary races in both 2016 and 2017.
"We're thrilled to be deepening our partnership with the Hendrick Motorsports team," said Matt Jauchius, chief marketing officer at Nationwide. "We look forward to seeing Nationwide on the #88 for NASCAR's biggest races over the next three seasons." Nationwide is making an early debut as Earnhardt's primary sponsor during this weekend's Sprint Cup event in Richmond, Virginia, where it is previewing the 2015 #88 Nationwide Chevy paint scheme.
"That Nationwide has already elected to grow the sponsorship sends a clear message about the opportunities they see and how well our teams are working together," said Rick Hendrick, owner of Hendrick Motorsports. "It's quickly become a strong relationship, and we're committed to building on that foundation and delivering results in every facet of the program."
"I know the people at Nationwide extremely well and truly appreciate how invested they are in our team and our sport," said Earnhardt, whose family has been insured by Nationwide for more than 35 years and who has been featured in its national advertising since 2009. "It's extremely gratifying that they recognize so much value in the partnership and want to do more. Having this kind of support and seeing so many positive things happening around the team feels really good."(HMS)
see an image of the car on the #88 Team Schemes page.(9-5-2014)
Update about the National Guard sponsorship of the #88 in 2015: The following is a team statement from Hendrick Motorsports regarding its continuing relationship with the Army National Guard: "Representing the National Guard and its Citizen Soldiers is an extraordinary honor and source of pride for our entire organization. Communication is ongoing with regard to the future of the sponsorship, which is contracted through the 2015 season."(Hendrick Motorsports)(9-5-2014)
Nationwide to sponsor the #88 at RIR UPDATE: When Dale Earnhardt Jr. races Sept. 6 at Richmond International Raceway, Nationwide will be on his side as the company makes an early debut as a primary sponsor of the #88 Chevy team in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. Nationwide, which in May announced it will join Hendrick Motorsports next season as a primary sponsor, will preview Earnhardt's 2015 paint scheme during the race weekend in Richmond, Virginia, where he has three career Sprint Cup victories. Fans also will get a sneak peek at the new design next week via social media.
"Dale is having a season to remember, and Nationwide is excited to launch our new long-term relationship as a primary sponsor this season as he pursues the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship," said Matt Jauchius, chief marketing officer at Nationwide. "We think fans will like the new look of the No. 88 car when they see it hit the track next week in Richmond."
Earnhardt worked with Nationwide on the design of the car, which will race next season and is scheduled to make its only 2014 appearance at Richmond. A first look at the #88 Nationwide Chevrolet SS will be given to fans Sept. 3 at 1:00 pm/et via the new @Nationwide88 Twitter account that will provide updates related to Earnhardt and his Hendrick Motorsports team.
"Dale puts his trust in Nationwide to protect the things that matter most to him," Jauchius said. "We put our trust in Dale to come up with a design that would showcase the Nationwide brand in a way that reflects our values, and we think he did just that."
"I've worked with Nationwide for years, but never as a primary sponsor," said Earnhardt, whose family has been insured by Nationwide for more than 35 years and who has been featured in its national advertising since 2009. "Having them on board with Hendrick Motorsports and the No. 88 team is a big opportunity, and I really appreciate them inviting me to help design the car. I'm excited for the fans to see it and look forward to kicking off the relationship at one of my favorite racetracks."(HMS)(8-29-2014)
IMAGE see an image of the car on the #88 Team Schemes page.(9-3-2014)
Hendrick Motorsports tests at Martinsville...comments: Martinsville Speedway's position as the first race in the Eliminator Round of the Chase for the Sprint Cup has the track's most successful drivers understanding the importance of the Goody's Headache Relief Shot 500. #24-Jeff Gordon and #48-Jimmie Johnson, who lead all active drivers with eight Martinsville wins apiece, spent the past two days testing at the iconic half-mile speedway. The two were joined by their Hendrick Motorsports teammates, #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr. and #5-Kasey Kahne.
"You want to give yourself every opportunity to win at every race that's in the Chase to guarantee yourself moving forward," said Gordon. "We know that Martinsville is a great track for us. I think all of Hendrick Motorsports understands that we've had great success here and we have confidence here and we can run really well here, and it's important. It's in the Chase."
"We haven't tested here in a long, long time, so as a group we kind of sat in a room and raised our hands as to what tracks in the Chase we wanted to test at and the majority wanted to come to Martinsville," said Johnson. "We're not reinventing the wheel while we're here, but we're certainly learning a lot and are hopeful to strike when we come back in the Chase."
Some of Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s biggest wins have come on NASCAR's largest tracks. But it is the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series' shortest track ... Martinsville Speedway ... that is a sentimental favorite for Earnhardt. Part of that sentiment stems from Earnhardt's love for the roots of racing, and no track has deeper roots in NASCAR than Martinsville Speedway. And some of that sentiment comes from Earnhardt's great success on the half-mile oval. Earnhardt Jr. doesn't have a Martinsville win or one of the iconic grandfather clock trophies in his house, but his driver rating at Martinsville is consistently among the top two or three in the sport. He has 11 top-five finishes and 16 top-10 finishes on the difficult short-track and has finished second twice and third four times. While some drivers don't especially look forward to 500 laps on the tight confines of Martinsville Speedway, Earnhardt relishes the two trips a year to Martinsville.
"I just love short-track racing. I don't really like running into people, but I like rubbing," Earnhardt said during his lunch break Tuesday. "I can appreciate someone using the bumper to get a spot without really causing too much of a problem for the guy who gets moved out of the way. I can respect that because you have got to do that sometimes. I feel like you come to expect that at this particular track. Since we're all fighting to get around the bottom, you can only wait so long behind a guy before you have to get creative and get physical with the race car. I can take it as well as I can dish it. I do enjoy racing here. The success we have here just comes from a lot of testing, a lot of practice," said Earnhardt, who finished third in the STP 500 at Martinsville last spring. "When we first started racing here, I wasn't very good and I remember coming several times and testing the first couple of seasons I was in the Cup series and that seemed to get us in a good direction. We got some good balance on our cars and what we need to get a car around this place and keep the tires on it."(Martinsville Speedway)(8-29-2014)
Earnhardt Jr. comments on Bristol wreck: #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr., involved in an on-track accident on lap 160 when #4-Harvick got into #11-Hamlin, who was leading at the time. Hamlin slid into the inside wall, came back on the track and collected the #88.:
Q) WHAT HAPPENED IN THAT ACCIDENT?
Earnhardt Jr: "I couldn't see what happened to Denny (Hamlin), but he got turned around or something and was coming up the track. There was a lot of smoke so I couldn't really judge the speed of his car to know whether I needed to be going up there and go around him on the top. I had to make that choice. I just went ahead and went to the top and ended up getting into him. It wasn't too hard of a hit just did a lot of damage and tore the lower (control arm) off the left-front. We are going to have our hands full when we get it back out there. We are going to try to fix it, but I don't know. Obviously we are many laps down. We will see if we can run a decent speed."
Q) IT SEEMS LIKE IT IS VERY HARD TO PASS AND GET PAST THAT LAP TRAFFIC:
Earnhardt Jr: "It's just like every time. I don't think it's any different. It's like it's always been. It's hard."
Q) ARE YOU DONE?
Earnhardt Jr: "We are working on it, but I mean I don't know. I would like to be out there, but we will just have to see. It's tore up pretty bad. The left-front lower is tore off the car and it's not going to drive very good. There is really one groove out there so if we get out there we might be in everybody's way."
Q) DID YOU SEE WHAT THE HELL HAPPENED IN THAT?
Earnhardt Jr: "No, the first thing I saw was the #11 (Denny Hamlin) hitting the inside wall. I don't know how it started. There was a little bit of smoke so it was tough to judge the speed of his car coming back up the track. I thought I could go around the top and be alright, but I guessed wrong."
Earnhardt, Jr. talks about National Guard sponsorship: Dale Earnhardt Jr. said Friday he hoped to continue representing the National Guard despite the organization announcing Wednesday it will pull its $32 million sponsorship. Hendrick Motorsports, Earnhardt's team, said it has not heard from the Guard directly and plans to honor a contract which goes through next season. "We really don't have any details on anything, and that's between the Guard and HMS to sort all that out," Earnhardt said prior to practice at Watkins Glen International. "I've really enjoyed working with them over the last seven years and I hope to be able to continue to represent them. It's been a huge honor." Earnhardt was asked if he was surprised by the news, which came on the heels of his third victory of the season - the most in a single season since 2004. "You know, there's been the debate in Washington for several years," he said. "Hopefully, we'll be able to continue to represent them. I really have enjoyed it, and it's been a great, great seven years. It's been a great partnership and I think it's been very effective. Hopefully we can continue to do that."(USA Today) (8-9-2014)
National Guard to end motorsports sponsorships: After undergoing an intensive internal review, the Army National Guard is set to make changes to its sports sponsorship approach to recruitment marketing. These substantial changes include an end to its sponsorship of NASCAR driver #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Graham Rahal in the Indy Racing League (IRL). "Significantly constrained resources and the likelihood of further reductions in the future call for more innovative and cost-effective ways of doing business," said Maj Gen Judd H. Lyons, acting Director of the Army National Guard. The Army Guard spent $32 million on its NASCAR sponsorship and $12 million on its IndyCar sponsorship for 2014. Future programs will rely on much smaller budgets. And while sports sponsorships have played an important role in helping the Guard build strong brand awareness, existing Army National Guard sponsorship contracts with NASCAR and IRL are set to expire at the end of the current season, he said. "Our NASCAR sponsorship was principally a marketing program, intended primarily to build awareness of the National Guard as a career option" said Johnson. "The NASCAR sponsorship allowed the National Guard to leverage a 77 million fan base and the sport's most popular driver." Motorsports sponsorships are not the only programs to be impacted by decreasing budgets. Since 2012, the Army Guard has reduced sports sponsorships from six-including professional fishing and motorcycle racing-to just the NASCAR and IndyCar sponsorships. In fiscal year 2015, the Army Guard's marketing budget is expected to be about half of what it was just three years ago in fiscal year 2012.(Army National Guard)
Hendrick Statement: "Our team has a contract in place to continue the National Guard program at its current level in 2015. We have not been approached by the Guard about potential changes and plan to honor our current agreement."(Hendrick Motorsports)(8-6-2014)
Earnhardt, Jr. wins at Pocono: #88-Dale Earnhardt, Jr. won the GoBowling.com 400 Sprint Cup Series race at Pocono Raceway for his 3rd win of the season, 2nd win at Pocono [both coming this year], and 22nd career win.
Earnhardt, Jr. took the lead with 14 laps to go when he passed Biffle and withstood a late race caution to take the win. It's the second time in his career that he has swept 2 races at a track in 1 year. He did it in Talladega in 2002.
#4-Harvick finished 2nd followed by #22-Logano, #15-Bowyer, #16-Biffle, #24-Gordon, #1-McMurray, #31-Newman, #11-Hamlin, and #5-Kahne.
Pole winner #42-Larson finished 11th.
There was a large wreck on lap 117. #11-Hamlin got loose off of turn 1, #55-Vickers checked up behind him, but ran into #20-Kesenth and a total of 13 cars were involved.
#24-Gordon (2 wins) keeps the points, but it falls to 17 points over #88-Earnhardt Jr.
#88-Earnhardt, Jr. now leads the Chase Grid with 3 wins and 2nd in points followed by #2-Keselowski with 3 wins, 3rd in points.
There were 15 lead changes among 10 drivers. There were 8 cautions for 35 yellow flag laps.
The average speed was 127.411mph.
See unofficial race results, awards, money won, laps led, cautions and more on the Unofficial Pocono Race Results page (pdf) and check out the Pocono Penalty Report (pdf).
See UNOFFICIAL drivers championship points standings on the Unofficial Drivers Points Standings (pdf).
See the UNOFFICIAL owner points standings on the Unofficial Owners Points Standings page (pdf).(8-3-2014)
Michael Baker International Partners with Earnhardt Jr. at Pocono: Michael Baker International, the number-one ranked engineering firm in Pennsylvania and a strong supporter of the National Guard Youth Foundation, will partner with Hendrick Motorsports and NASCAR star Dale Earnhardt Jr. to bring awareness to the high school dropout crisis and help high school dropouts get back on track to become productive members of their communities. The company will debut its new logo on the hood of Earnhardt's #88 Chevrolet SS during the August 1-3 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series weekend at Pocono Raceway, symbolizing the consolidation of several legacy firms, which have joined forces to combine innovation and technology to help clients meet critical infrastructure requirements. This event marks the beginning of the celebration of the company's 75th anniversary in 2015 and its commitment to Pennsylvania, the clients and communities Michael Baker International serves throughout the U.S. and internationally.(BusinessWire)(7-31-2014)
Greg Ives named crew chief for Earnhardt, Jr. in 2015: Crew chief Greg Ives will rejoin Hendrick Motorsports following the 2014 NASCAR season to lead the #88 Sprint Cup Series team of driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. Ives, 34, was race engineer for Jimmie Johnson's historic run of five consecutive Sprint Cup championships (2006-2010) with the #48 Hendrick Motorsports team. He will work alongside Johnson's crew chief, Chad Knaus, in the shop shared by the #48 and 88 Chevy SS teams.
"Greg was our number-one choice," said Rick Hendrick, owner of Hendrick Motorsports. "This is a talented guy who already has a terrific rapport with Dale Jr. and is a fit with the organization. He and Chad had a lot of success together, and all of our crew chiefs think the world of him and what he's accomplished. Greg's proven that he can win races, and he has all the tools to do big things."
Since his debut as a crew chief for JR Motorsports in 2013, Ives has won five NASCAR Nationwide Series races including three this season with rookie and current points leader Chase Elliott.
A native of Bark River, Michigan, and graduate of Michigan Technological University, Ives joined Hendrick Motorsports as a mechanic in 2004 before moving into an engineering role on the #48 team in 2006. In seven years working with Knaus, he contributed to 42 wins, 113 top-five finishes and 21 pole positions in the Sprint Cup Series. In November 2012, Ives transitioned to JR Motorsports as crew chief for driver Regan Smith. The duo won two races and finished third in points in 2013 before Ives was named Elliott's crew chief prior to this season. JR Motorsports works closely with Hendrick Motorsports and is owned by Earnhardt in partnership with Rick Hendrick.(HMS)(7-30-2014)
Latest news on #88 crew chief for 2015: #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr. met with members of the media at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Saturday and was asked about crew chief possibilities for 2015, the transcript in part:
Q. Talk about how special winning your last Brickyard with Steve on the box would be. And are there any names being thrown around for next year? DALE EARNHARDT JR.: "We're always -- everybody is talking a little bit. We haven't really sat down in a room and got down to a real serious discussion about it. But I think that the people involved in the decision making have some great ideas, and the conversations are starting to happen, so we'll see how that sort of works itself out. Yeah, I mean, any race I win with Steve this year is very special because of his last year. So yeah, we'll take anywhere. We'll take a win anywhere. This weekend would be -- he's one of the guys that's one of the best on the box when it comes to strategy, and this style of race and the way the tires are going to play into that. This is right in his wheelhouse. I think he's going to give us a great opportunity.(Team Chevy)(7-27-2014)
Earnhardt Jr. visits Indiana Army National Guard: It wasn't the ground-shaking boom of an M119 Howitzer that moved #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr. on Wednesday; it was the line of six Indiana Army National Guard soldiers with raised right hands in that same grassy field. Earnhardt, in Indiana to compete in this weekend's Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, shared in the re-enlistment ceremony of the half dozen soldiers. IndyCar Series driver Graham Rahal, whose motor sports program is also sponsored by the National Guard, also was there. "That was really overwhelming because I'm sure that opportunity will never come again," Earnhardt said with a shaken voice. "I (once) had the privilege of swearing in new recruits and they were scared to death - it was a unique experience - but to have some guys who want to add more years to what they're doing, that says a lot about how much they believe in what they're doing." Earnhardt and Rahal didn't just meet soldiers, they got to engage with them. Both got to fire the Howitzer on Range 43, ignite ditch-creating C4 artillery on Range 44 and shoot an M4 rifle on Range 12. They even rode out in a Blackhawk. The Howitzer has a range of nearly 10 miles, and it had both drivers shaking.(see full story and images at the USA Today)(7-24-2014)
Earnhardt, Jr., Danica among most popular sports figures: The battle for number one continues with a change on top. As many have asked the LeBron James versus Michael Jordan question, we may not know how they would compare on the basketball court, but this year, James overthrows Jordan and is America's favorite sports star. Last year, the reverse was true and Michael Jordon was number one while LeBron James was number two. As he makes his farewell tour around baseball fields this summer, New York Yankee Derek Jeter moves up three spots and is in the third position this year. Rounding out the top five is quarterback Peyton Manning, remaining at number four this year, and in a tie for the fifth spot on the list is another basketball star, Kobe Bryant, moving up from number seven, and NASCAR star Dale Earnhardt, Jr., moving up from number ten last year.
She may have had some health issues while playing at Wimbledon, but for the fifth year in a row, Serena Williams is the Favorite Female Sport Star. Race car driver Danica Patrick remains at number two, while Venus Williams remains number three. Another tennis star, Maria Sharapova, is at number four again this year, while soccer legend Mia Hamm remains at number five. These are some of the results of The Harris Poll of 2,241 adults surveyed online between June 11 and 16, 2014.(Harris Interactive)(7-19-2014)
Earnhardt Jr. & Danica up for kids awards: #88-Dale Earnhardt, Jr. has been nominated for a Kids' Choice Sports Best Male Athlete award more info and to vote at nick.com. Danica Patrick has been nominated as Best Female Athlete, vote at nick.com(7-9-2014)
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)
Johnson, Earnhardt, Jr. nominated for ESPYs: Teammates #48-Jimmie Johnson and #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr. have something else in common now. Both are among the driver nominees for this year's ESPY awards. Johnson is on the ballot in two categories -- for best championship performance for his sixth NASCAR Sprint Cup title and for best driver. Other nominees in the best championship performance category are: NBA Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard of the San Antonio Spurs; UConn's Shabazz Napier, who helped the Huskies upset Kentucky to win the men's NCAA tournament; and David Ortiz of the World Series champion Boston Red Sox. Joining him in the best driver category are: Hendrick Motorsports teammate Earnhardt Jr., 2013 IndyCar champion Scott Dixon, 2014 Indianapolis 500 champion Ryan Hunter-Reay and 2013 NHRA Funny Car titlist John Force.(USA Today)(6-25-2014)
New look for the #88 at Sonoma: Kelley Blue Book, the vehicle valuation and information source trusted and relied upon by both consumers and the automotive industry, will adorn the hood of Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s #88 Chevy this weekend at Sonoma Raceway (HMS), see images of the car on the #88 Team Schemes page.(6-20-2014)
Hendrick Motorsports stretches win streak to five races: #48-Jimmie Johnson's performance at Michigan marked Hendrick Motorsports' fifth consecutive points-paying Sprint Cup win of 2014. #24-Jeff Gordon kicked off the current streak with his Kansas victory on May 10, which was followed by Johnson winning on May 25 at Charlotte and June 1 at Dover. #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr. kept the trend going with his first-place finish at Pocono Raceway on June 8. It is the third time Hendrick Motorsports teams have combined to win at least five consecutive points races, including the 2007 Sprint Cup season when the organization posted separate win streaks of five races and a NASCAR modern era (1972-present) record of six races. The all-time NASCAR record of 16 consecutive Cup-level points victories was recorded in 1956 by car owner Carl Kiekhaefer with a combination of four different drivers.(HMS)(6-18-2014)
Superman returns to the #88 at Michigan: Superman, the world's first and most recognized Super Hero, will be featured again on Dale Earnhardt's #88 Chevrolet SS this weekend at Michigan. He also ran this paint scheme at the 600-mile race at Charlotte in May. The Superman-themed paint scheme will pair the Army National Guard with the Superman Hall of Heroes, a new online gift-giving portal that empowers consumers to honor their personal heroes; those who have made a positive impact on their lives or the lives of others.(HMS), see images of the car/scheme on the #88 Team Scheme page.(6-12-2014)
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)
Earnhardt Jr. wins at Pocono: #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr. won the Pocono 400 Sprint Cup Series race at Pocono Raceway for his 2nd win of 2014, his 1st win at Pocono and his 21st career win. It is the first season that Earnhardt Jr. has had multiple wins since 2004. The last four races at Pocono have been won by a different Hendrick Motorsports driver [6/2014-EarnhardtJr, 8/2013-Kahne, 6/2013-Johnson, 8/2012-Gordon]
#2-Keselowski finished 2nd [for the 2nd race in a row] followed by #41-Busch, #11-Hamlin (pole sitter), #42-Larson, #48-Johnson, #31-Newman, #24-Gordon, #78-Truex, Jr. and #1-McMurray.
Pole sitter, #11-Hamlin, led five laps and finished 4th.
#20-Kenseth, who came into the race as the points leader, finished 25th with a lot of front end damage, lost the points lead to #24-Gordon, who leads by 16 points over Kenseth.
#88-Earnhardt Jr. leads the Chase Seeding with two wins, highest in driver points at 3rd. #48-Johnson is second, also with 2 wins, but 4th in points. #22-Logano has 2 wins and is 9th in points. #4-Harvick has two wins and is 12th in points.
There were 21 lead changes among 10 drivers and there were 7 cautions for 26 yellow flag laps.
The average speed was 139.440mph.
See unofficial race results, awards, money won, laps led, cautions and more on the Unofficial Pocono Race Results page (pdf) and check out the Pocono Penalty Report (pdf).
See OFFICIAL race results & points standings on the Official Pocono Race & Points Report (pdf).(6-8-2014)
NASCAR reporter breaks his ankle while interviewing Earnhardt Jr.: MRN reporter Dustin Long was interviewing #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr. at Pocono Friday when a terrible accident temporarily derailed his weekend. Long fell off one of the scales that NASCAR uses to weigh cars and broke his ankle. Long posted a gruesome photo of the injury on his Twitter account. Earnhardt took the blame for the accident, saying he led Long through the scales as a shortcut.(USA Today)(6-7-2014)
Superman featured on the #88 at Charlotte: Superman, the world's first and most recognized Super Hero, will be featured on Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s #88 Chevrolet SS this weekend at Charlotte Motor Speedway. The Superman-themed paint scheme will pair the Army National Guard with the Superman Hall of Heroes, a new online gift-giving portal that empowers consumers to honor their personal heroes; those who have made a positive impact on their lives or the lives of others. More info at supermanhallofheroes.com (HMS), see a teaser image on the #88 Team Schemes page.(5-21-2014)
Earnhardt Jr. not in a rush to push Elliott to Cup: #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr met with media on Friday at Charlotte Motor Speedway and was asked about Chase Driver who drives for JR Motorsports in the Nationwide Series:
Q) REGARDING CHASE ELLIOTT, DO YOU FEEL YOU NEED TO SPEED UP HIS PREP BASED ON WHAT HE HAS BEEN DOING, OR DO YOU FEEL YOU NEED TO SLOW DOWN HIS PREP?
Earnhardt Jr.: "I don't think you do either one. I think you just set a plan from the start, and you stick with it. We have like a two-year plan I suppose, that he runs in the Nationwide Series and I think you just stick with the plan regardless of the success he is having. You have the commitments in line with sponsors and what have you, so I think it will suit him well to relax and not have to worry about that and just follow the plan that he has had in front of him from the start. He is really young too, so he has a lot of time on his hands and time to get to Cup level to realize that potential, one day. But yes, I think he can just sit there and relax knowing what we tried to set out to do from the start and not really adjust."(Team Chevy)(5-18-2014)
Warner Bros/DC Entertainment join forces with Hendrick Motorsports: Warner Bros. Consumer Products (WBCP), in conjunction with DC Entertainment (DCE), has joined forces with Hendrick Motorsports in a unique three-year agreement that will allow the team and its partners to develop consumer promotions and original content to engage youth, drive fan excitement and energize licensed merchandise initiatives. WBCP and DCE will work with Hendrick Motorsports and its partners to build on- and off-track programs teaming drivers #5-Kasey Kahne, #24-Jeff Gordon, #48-Jimmie Johnson and #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr. with the most recognized characters in Super Hero lore, including Batman, Superman, The Flash and Green Lantern.
Potential programs include co-developed car paint schemes, comic books and digital content incorporating DC Comics Super Heroes and illustrated likenesses of Hendrick Motorsports drivers. Team partners will have exclusive opportunities to align with upcoming Warner Bros. Consumer Products and DC Comics-inspired programming and releases.
The first joint program will come to life around upcoming Sprint Cup events at Charlotte Motor Speedway (May 25) and Michigan International Speedway (June 15) where Superman, the world's first and most recognized Super Hero, will be featured on Earnhardt's #88 Chevy. The Superman-themed paint scheme will pair the Army National Guard with the Superman Hall of Heroes, a new online gift-giving portal that empowers consumers to honor their personal heroes; those who have made a positive impact on their lives or the lives of others. The #88 National Guard/Superman Chevrolet SS will be unveiled May 21. Fans can learn more by following Hendrick Motorsports on Facebook and Twitter.(Hendrick Motorsports)(5-15-2014)
National Guard NASCAR sponsorship examined by Congress UPDATE: The National Guard spent $26.5 million to sponsor NASCAR racing in 2012 to bolster its marketing and recruitment but failed to sign up a single new soldier to its ranks, according to data provided to USA Today. Even though the Guard spent $88 million as a NASCAR sponsor from 2011 to 2013, it is unclear how many new recruits, if any, signed up because of it, according to documents. The Guard on Wednesday would not confirm the figures on prospects and recruits developed through its NASCAR sponsorship. Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., who will hold a hearing on the recruitment program Thursday, assailed the Guard for "wasting a bunch of money on a very expensive sports sponsorship." The Guard received 24,800 recruiting prospects from the program in 2012, documents show. In those cases, potential recruits indicated the NASCAR affiliation prompted them to seek more information about joining. Of that group, only 20 met the Guard's qualifications for entry into the service, and not one of them joined. In 2013, the number of prospects associated with NASCAR dropped to 7,500, according to briefing materials for the Senate subcommittee on Financial and Contracting Oversight led by McCaskill. The National Guard needs 1 million leads to meet its annual recruiting goal of 50,000 soldiers. The NASCAR initiative, along with the $38 million spent on an IndyCar racing sponsorship, over the same period, will be the target of the hearing led by McCaskill. Rick Breitenfeldt, a National Guard spokesman, said 90% of Army National Guard soldiers who enlisted or re-enlisted from 2007 to 2013 indicated that they had been exposed to information about the service through NASCAR-related recruiting and retention materials. Sponsoring NASCAR and driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. puts the Guard's name in front of 77 million fans, he said.(USA Today)(5-7-2014)
UPDATE: Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., questioned the Army National Guard's sponsorship in NASCAR and IndyCar during a subcommittee hearing Thursday afternoon, and the official overseeing those programs said he planned to evaluate them. The National Guard will sponsor Dale Earnhardt Jr. for 20 Sprint Cup races this season. Military contacts are done on a yearly basis. Sen. McCaskill said that the National Guard's budget for NASCAR amounts to $32 million from a sports marketing budget of more than $56 million. The National Guard does not differentiate between what goes to the team and what goes toward activation. No decision has been set by the National Guard for next season. "I will be ... reviewing all these programs in the next, probably, month," Maj. Gen. Judd Lyons, acting director, Army National Guard, said during the hearing.
At one point during the hour-long hearing Sen. McCaskill said: "I don't understand ... how you can justify the fact that nobody is getting recruited from the NASCAR. The facts speak for themselves. the data is very clear. You're not getting recruits off NASCAR. This is data you gave us. The reason we know is this because you told us."
Said Maj. Gen. Lyons: "I'm trying to analyze these programs for exactly the reasons that you're saying. Are they achieving the intended affect? Are they the best use of our our taxpayer dollars? Is that the right thing to be doing? These are things I'm considering as the acting director as a path forward."(Motor Racing Network)(5-9-2014)
Earnhardt Jr. squashes marriage rumor: #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr. met with members of the media at Talladega Superspeedway and discussed a few things, among them was marriage/weddings. The transcript in part:
Q) FROM EVERYTHING I UNDERSTAND YOU ARE A PRETTY FRUGAL GUY SO COULD YOU EVER IMAGINE IF YOU WERE EVER TO GET MARRIED THAT YOU WOULD SPEND TWO MILLION DOLLARS LIKE THE NATIONAL ENQUIRER SAYS THAT YOU ARE GOING TO BE DOING LATER THIS YEAR?
Earnhardt Jr.: "I definitely would have a hard time writing that check (laughter)."
Q) WOULD YOU DO IT AT DAYTONA?
Earnhardt Jr.: "No of course not. I would not force everybody to go down to Daytona for my wedding. I probably would just have it right there in the back yard, but whatever is easiest. That was funny. I read that and it was a roller coaster of an article. Pretty good."
Q) DID YOU KNOW YOU WERE GETTING MARRIED?
Earnhardt Jr.: "I didn't. So we just skipped the engagement I guess, went right to the wedding."(Team Chevy)(5-3-2014)
Nationwide Insurance to sponsor Earnhardt Jr.: The #88 Hendrick Motorsports team will "Join the Nation" in 2015 thanks to a new three-year partnership that will pair Nationwide Insurance, a leading insurance and financial services organization, with driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. As the exclusive insurance and retirement planning sponsor of Earnhardt's #88 Chevy, Nationwide Insurance will be a primary partner for 12 Sprint Cup races in 2015 and 13 events in both 2016 and 2017. The company also will be an associate-level sponsor of the #88 race cars throughout all three seasons.
"The Earnhardt family has trusted Nationwide for their insurance needs for more than 35 years, and Dale Jr. has a positive impact on our brand's reputation and brings pride to Nationwide members and our associates," said Matt Jauchius, chief marketing officer for Nationwide Insurance. "Expanding that relationship to incorporate the prestigious operations at Hendrick Motorsports and collaborating with Rick Hendrick and his team is a great fit for Nationwide Insurance."
Hendrick Motorsports will work with Nationwide Insurance to support consumer, business and employee offerings in the auto, home, life and classic car insurance and retirement categories. NASCAR fans can immediately benefit through insurance discounts offered via the free JR Nation fan club. Membership is available by visiting www.jrnation.com.
"Nationwide is always top of mind when you think of companies that truly leverage the power of NASCAR," said Rick Hendrick, owner of Hendrick Motorsports. "We're proud to welcome them to the #88 team and grow their relationship with Dale Jr. Working together, we'll build another program that moves the needle for their business. The opportunities are endless."
"I've always enjoyed working with Nationwide and really believe in their products and services," said Earnhardt, who Nationwide Insurance has featured in national advertising since 2009. "It'll be fun to work with them in a new way, and I know everyone on the team is looking forward to the partnership. They've invested in our sport and built a strong reputation with NASCAR fans, and this opens up doors to do even more great things."(HMS)
AND Hendrick Motorsports teammate #5-Kasey Kahne is sponsored by Farmers Insurance. Hendrick Motorsports issued a statement regarding Farmers' status: "Our team has a terrific relationship with the people at Farmers Insurance, and we're having positive discussions about the future. The announcement regarding the #88 team does not impact our ability to continue the partnership beyond 2014."(MRN)(5-2-2014)
Earnhardt Jr. voted first quarter Driver of the Year: Two-time Daytona 500 winner, #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr., was named winner of the first quarter Driver of the Year Award 2014. NASCAR's perennial fan favorite won title in the voting by an elite panel of American broadcasters and journalists Ending an almost two-year winless drought Earnhardt took the checkered flag in the season opening, and rain-delayed, Daytona 500. In the first quarter, which ended with race in Darlington, he added three second-place and one third-place finishes. In the voting Earnhardt, who drives the #88 National Guard Chevy for Hendrick Motorsports, had seven first-place ballots and totaled 88 points according to the Driver of the Year points system. Kevin Harvick, who drives the #4 Budweiser Chevy in NASCAR, and Australia's Will Power who drives the #12 Verizon Dallara-Chevrolet for Team Penske tied for second place with 80 points. Harvick had five first-place votes and Australia's Power had three. Chase Elliott burst into the limelight scoring 37 points, one first-place vote and finished fourth, in the ballot driving for Earnhardt's JRM Nationwide Series team. And Kyle Busch also garnered one first-place vote A total of 20 drivers scored points in the first quarter voting. In its' 48th year, the Driver of the Year title is unique. The panel of 17 leading journalists and broadcasters from across the U.S. determines the winner. In quarterly voting, points are awarded on a declining 9, 6, 4,3,2,1 basis. Earnhardt will receive a trophy and a Tissot wristwatch to be presented at a race weekend at to be determined.(DOTY)(5-1-2014)
Hendrick pit coach is leaving for a job outside of racing UPDATES: One of the best pit coaches in NASCAR is leaving racing for work outside of the sport. As of Darlington two weeks ago, Hendrick Motor Sports pit coach Lance Munksgard will no longer be at HMS. Munksgard will be taking a new job in McGregor, Texas at Fourseventy Claim Management. Pit Talks talked with Coach Munksgard, he had this to say. "I was blessed to have been able to live a dream of working with the best mechanics and pit crew members in NASCAR over the years which was an unforgettable experience. I couldn't have asked for a better organization than HMS to finish my NASCAR career. HMS is a truly professional company that starts from Mr. Hendrick down through the management, crew chiefs, and through the pit crews. It was a true pleasure to work with a strong coaching staff and pit crew members at HMS and watch them progress each week. I will truly miss the competition on pit road each week and wish all the guys on pit road the best of luck."(Pit Talks)(4-21-2014)
UPDATE: Greg Morin, who has been pit crew coach for the teams of Kasey Kahne and Jeff Gordon, and Chris Krieg, the assistant coach to Munksgard, will oversee the pit crews for Earnhardt and Johnson until a full-time replacement is hired.(MRN)(4-22-2014)
UPDATE 2: Greg Morin and Chris Krieg were the 2 assistants for the #48/#88 pit crews will now be sharing duties until a replacement is hired for Munksgard. The #5/#24 pit coaches will remain the same.(4-23-2014)
Earnhardt Jr. heads to school in Kansas: #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr. will be in Topeka May 8th for an appearance at Seaman High School. Seaman athletic director/assistant principal Brad Dietz confirmed the appearance of Earnhardt Jr., who is scheduled to be at the school from approximately 1 to 3 p.m. on the 8th and sandwich visits with two groups of students around an all-school assembly. Earnhardt will be in Kansas for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race on Saturday, May 10th at Kansas Speedway.(Capital-Journal)(4-20-2014)
Earnhardt, Jr. Scores First Last-Place Finish Since 2007: #88-Dale Earnhardt, Jr. picked up the 7th last-place finish of his NASCAR Sprint Cup Series career in Monday's Duck Commander 500 at the Texas Motor Speedway when his #88 National Guard Chevy was involved in a scary single-car accident after he completed 12 of the race's 340 laps. The finish was Earnhardt, Jr.'s first of the 2014 season and his first while driving for Hendrick Motorsports. It is also his first last-place finish in 225 Cup Series races, dating back to November 11, 2007 and the Checker Auto Parts 500 at Phoenix. That day, in his next-to-last race in DEI's #8 Budweiser Chevy, Earnhardt, Jr. was taken out in another single-car crash after he completed 118 laps. He has never finished last in 130 NASCAR Nationwide Series races. After seven Cup Series races, we now have seven different race winners, seven different pole winners, and seven different last-place finishers.(see full post and stats at Lastcar)(4-8-2014)
Earnhardt Jr. comments on his lap 12 wreck at Texas: on lap 12 of the Duck Commander 400 Sprint Cup Series race at Texas Motor Speedway, #88-Earnhardt Jr. went low on the front stretch, getting into the grass, which was wet. The left front of the car buckled and the left front tire blew sending the #88 up the track and into the outside wall hard. The car caught fire but Earnhardt Jr. got out and was fine. The car was not and retired from the race. Earnhardt Jr. comments via a Team Chevy transcript:
Q) ON WHAT HAPPENED:
Earnhardt Jr. "Just didn't see the grass. Didn't know the grass was down there. With the way the A-post is on these cars you can't really see that good to that angle. I just didn't have a good visual of where the apron and the grass was and got down in there pretty good. You can't run through there they way they have these cars on the ground like that. Just a mistake on my part. I just didn't know I was that close to the grass, and made a mistake."
Q) WHAT HAPPENED?
Earnhardt Jr. "I drove the car down there. I didn't know we were that close the grass and was following the #43 (Aric Almirola). I thought I was taking a decent line through the dogleg. We were going low around the No. 42 (Kyle Larson) so I was lower than normal and just misjudged it. It tears the car up pretty good when you run through the grass."
Q) SOME DRIVERS WERE COMPLAINING OF A WET TRACK AT THE OUTSET. WAS THAT A FACTOR?
Earnhardt Jr. "It was no factor. I just made a mistake."(Team Chevy)(4-7-2014)
Under Armour enters NASCAR with Hendrick & MWR: The sporting goods company, Under Armour, has signed multiyear sponsorships with Hendrick Motorsports and Michael Waltrip Racing. It becomes the official apparel provider for both teams, outfitting everyone from the pit crew to the front office in Under Armour-branded apparel. The deals don't include the teams' drivers, and financial terms weren't available. Last year, Under Armour signed a one-year, trial sponsorship with Hendrick Motorsports and outfitted the team's pit crews. It opted to expand that deal this year with a three-year extension that will see it outfit not only the pit crews but the rest of Hendrick's 500 employees. It provides everything from footwear and hats to polos and pullovers. It also has branding on Hendrick pit crew members' fire suits (Under Armour does not produce fire suits) and on the team's pit wall banners, haulers, pit box and pit toolbox. The deal doesn't include Hendrick's drivers - #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr., #24-Jeff Gordon, #48-Jimmie Johnson or #5-Kasey Kahne - but Under Armour does have rights to use their likeness as well as the likeness of their car and number, which it could use on apparel.
Under Armour signed with Michael Waltrip Racing because it saw similarities between its identity as an upstart brand that's challenged established apparel companies and the team's identity as a relatively new, gritty team that's pushing its way into the upper echelon of NASCAR. Terms of the two-year sponsorship are similar to the deal with Hendrick. Under Armour will supply pit crew apparel and team and executive apparel and receive the same mix of pit assets it is getting from Hendrick. It also will become the presenting sponsor of a new athletic facility and gym that MWR built at its headquarters in Cornelius, N.C., which has been branded as the MWR Performance Center Presented by Under Armour. The deal is the first apparel sponsorship for MWR. The team previously bought its apparel from Oakley.(SportsBusiness Journal)(4-1-2014)
Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s Daytona 500 win available On DVD: On Tuesday, April 1, 2014, fans will be able to relive Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s second Daytona 500 win via a limited collector's edition DVD, produced by NASCAR Productions. The DVD highlights the #88's path to victory, overcoming obstacles such a long rain delay and a late caution flag to set up a frantic finish, ultimately resulting in Earnhardt Jr. hoisting the Harley J. Earl trophy in Victory Lane. The DVD will be available for purchase on the NASCAR.com Superstore.(4-1-2014)
Earnhardt, Jr, Graham Rahal interested in ride swap UPDATE2: Verizon IndyCar Series driver Graham Rahal believes the timing and circumstances are just too perfect not to do the much-ballyhooed car swap with his National Guard NASCAR counterpart, Dale Earnhardt Jr. Rahal attended the Auto Club 400 in Fontana on Sunday afternoon with girlfriend Courtney Force and her father, 16-time NHRA Funny Car champion, John and reached out to Earnhardt after the race, via Twitter, about the possibility of swapping rides somewhere down the line. For his part, Earnhardt seemed agreeable. Rahal says the Twitter exchange was calculated but "100 percent authentic" and something that the second-generation IndyCar ace has wanted to do for quite some time. "I wouldn't have said it if I didn't want it to happen," Rahal told Popular Speed. "Dale and I share a sponsor now (National Guard) and my dad (three-time champion, Bobby) and Rick (Hendrick) have always had a great relationship." Rahal believes the shared National Guard sponsorship makes for a great marketing opportunity for both himself and Earnhardt, allowing for Rahal to knock a machine off his personal bucket list - the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series car. Rahal, who is pushing for the car swap to take place on the road course at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, is just looking forward to potentially hanging out with Earnhardt, believing that their similarities could establish a fast friendship.(Popular Speed)(3-25-2013)
UPDATE: Dale Earnhardt Jr. said Tuesday he wants to swap race cars with Graham Rahal, but believes it won't be possible because they drive for rival manufacturers. Both drivers are sponsored by Army National Guard this season. Rahal reached out to Earnhardt on Twitter after Sunday's NASCAR race at Fontana, proposing they swap cars in an exhibition. Only Earnhardt drives a Chevy in NASCAR, and Rahal's car in IndyCar is a Honda. Because Chevy and Honda are direct competitors in IndyCar, and Earnhardt is so closely associated with Chevy, he said he doesn't think the swap is doable. "Well, he drives a Honda, which is more than just a speed bump," Earnhardt said during an appearance at Charlotte Motor Speedway. "If I wanted to drive an Indy car, I'm sure I could get with Penske or somebody who owned a Chevy and take a couple laps somewhere. But it would have been fun to do that with Graham because of the relationship with our sponsor and the history of our families. I look forward to meeting him one day, but I think the fact he has a relationship with a different manufacturer is going to make it challenging - if not impossible - for me to drive that particular car."(Associated Press)(3-26-2014)
UPDATE 2: Chevy has not received an official request from Dale Earnhardt Jr. to swap race cars with Honda driver Graham Rahal. Jim Campbell, the U.S. Vice President Performance Vehicles and Motorsports for Chevy, said Saturday the manufacturer would consider any proposal to drive an Indy car from Earnhardt but until then, any talk about a manufacture conflict is premature. "If we get a proposal, we'll take a look at it and we'll look at it with an open set of eyes. The rest is hypothetical," Campbell told The Associated Press. "Broadly speaking about any Chevy driver that is currently on our roster, if they decided to go race in another category or series, of course we'd love to see them in Chevys. There's no doubt about that. In some cases it works out like that, and in some cases it doesn't." Kurt Busch, who currently drives a Chevrolet for Stewart-Haas Racing in NASCAR, will drive a Honda for Andretti Autosport in the Indianapolis 500. He was encouraged by Chevy before completing the deal with Andretti to work with a Chevrolet team for Indy, but the manufacturer ultimately agreed he could drive for Andretti.(Associated Press)(3-30-2014)
30th anniversary of Hendrick's first win: 30TH ANNIVERSARY: In 2014, Hendrick Motorsports is celebrating its 30th anniversary in NASCAR. The organization began in 1984 with five employees and 5,000 square feet of work space. It has grown to more than 500 employees with a 430,000-square-foot facility that sits on 140 acres. Driver Geoff Bodine won the Martinsville Speedway spring race on April 29, 1984, marking Hendrick Motorsports' first victory in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.(Hendrick Motorsports)(3-28-2014)
Earnhardt, Jr. wants NASCAR to address Hamlin's issue: #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr. wants to know why there hasn't been more information about what caused #11-Denny Hamlin to miss Sunday's race at Auto Club Speedway. Hamlin was taken to a local hospital shortly before the race with what Joe Gibbs Racing said was a sinus infection that affected his vision. But Earnhardt wondered aloud why there has been no official NASCAR statement or further explanation from Hamlin on what happened. No further updates were expected from NASCAR or Joe Gibbs Racing on Tuesday and Hamlin has not been officially cleared for this weekend's race at Martinsville Speedway. Earnhardt said there were questions because he'd never heard of a driver being pulled from the race shortly before the start after not being cleared to race by NASCAR. "I'm worried the perception is bad for NASCAR and the perception is bad for Denny," Earnhardt said Tuesday. "... If Denny didn't race because his vision is blurred and he had a sinus infection, NASCAR should put out a release and say, 'This is the timeline of the events and this is why we made this choice and this is the protocol for going forward.' That answers everybody's questions. Don't you have questions? I have questions. We shouldn't have questions. We should all feel pretty comfortable with what happened." Hamlin is expected to see doctors in Charlotte this week. He cannot race until he is cleared by a NASCAR-approved doctor. If he does not qualify Friday at Martinsville or race on Sunday, he would need another medical exemption from NASCAR in order to remain eligible for the Chase for the Sprint Cup.(USA Today)(3-26-2014)
Earnhardt Jr. off to hot start: According to MRN's Dustin Long, #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr joins Richard Petty (1969, 1974), Cale Yarborough (1977), Dale Jarrett (1996) and Jimmie Johnson (2006) as drivers to start the season with three straight top-two finishes.(3-14-2013)
Special scheme for Earnhardt, Jr.: #88-Dale Earnhardt, Jr. will sport a Mountain Dew Kickstart paint scheme and firesuit this weekend at Las Vegas Motor Speedway to introduce two new flavors - Black Cherry and Limeade. These beverages combine the great taste of Mountain Dew with 5 percent real fruit juice, electrolytes for taste and just the right amount of kick to get you ready for whatever the night will bring.(Hendrick Motorsports), see an image of the car on the #88 team paint schemes page.(3-6-2014)
New Chase format making drivers take more risks? Just two races into the Sprint Cup season, NASCAR's emphasis on winning has made an impact. #22-Joey Logano was more aggressive on a late-race restart, and Daytona 500 winner #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr. was more comfortable with a fuel gamble during Sunday's race at Phoenix International Raceway. "It's all about the win, right?" Logano said after his daring restart backfired. Yes it is. It always has been that way but now there's more incentive for drivers and teams to take risks. "Third place really doesn't mean anything,'' Logano said. "Last year, you may have taken a third place and the points, but this year it's like, "hey, go for it.' "
Harvick's dominance didn't keep others from trying different strategies. Dale Earnhardt Jr. was going to be short on fuel after his last pit stop before all the cautions but crew chief Steve Letarte told his driver not to worry about saving fuel. "We're here to try to win," Letarte told Earnhardt on the radio. "The gamble was not as nerve-racking and not as a big a gamble for us considering the circumstances," said Earnhardt, who finished second. "The new system definitely allowed us to be more carefree about that and not have to really think it over."
Now Harvick and crew chief Rodney Childers will have the opportunity to gamble over in the next 24 races since they have a victory. "It allows (Childers) to stretch fuel windows and do things and do a few things," Harvick said. "For the guys in the shop, it allows them to really broaden their horizons. You can really get aggressive on really everything."(Motors Racing Network)(3-3-2014)
Earnhardt, Jr. to have different spotter this week UPDATE: Daytona 500 winner #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr. will have a different spotter this weekend at Phoenix International Raceway. Earnhardt tweeted that spotter T.J. Majors will miss this weekend because of "personal reasons" and that Majors "Will be back ASAP. Will miss ya buddy. #getwell." Bill Elliott will spot for Earnhardt in today's practice session, crew chief Steve Letarte said. Letarte said he might spot for Earnhardt during Friday's qualifying session. If so, Letarte would have to be in the spotter's stand instead of on pit road. Letarte said he might spot qualifying to have a better perspective and understanding of the new qualifying format. Elliott likely will spot for Earnhardt for Saturday's practice sessions although rain is scheduled most of Saturday. For the race, Jeff Dickerson will spot for Earnhardt. Dickerson, who formerly spotted for Jeff Gordon, filled in last year for Majors when he was out because of sickness.(Motor Racing Network)(2-28-2013)
UPDATE: "TJ is good," Earnhardt replied when asked about his spotter's health. "He had some issues with his intestines last year that caused him to miss the Atlanta race. Some of those issues cropped back up - just a small infection. He's back home now. He's out of the hospital, so he's fine. He just hates having to miss it. He's a huge part of our team. We have such great chemistry. It's going to be a difficult situation not having him, but we've got Bill Elliott, of all people, (who) is going to fill in during practice. That's going to be pretty awesome."(NASCAR Wire Service)(3-1-2014)
Earnhardt Jr's die-cast set to become best seller: The Daytona 500 Win Version of Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s National Guard Chevy is predicted to be the best-selling die-cast car since Lionel Racing became The Official Die-Cast of NASCAR in 2010. Just 12 hours after Earnhardt took the checkered flag in the sport's biggest race of the season, sales of the die-cast were more than double the first full day's sales of any previous win car - including Earnhardt's "The Dark Knight Rises" Michigan Win car from 2012. The Monday after the Daytona 500, Lionel Racing was selling Earnhardt's Raced Win car through its direct-to-consumer channel at a rate of more than 100 per hour. The company's distributor and dealer orders are also trending at record levels.(Lionel Racing Collectibles)(2-28-2014)
France discusses Earnhardt, Jr's win; running Daytona 500 at night: #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr. winning the Daytona 500 is considered a good thing for NASCAR. Its most popular driver the last 11 years winning its most prestigious event certainly should generate interest in the sport. But NASCAR Chairman Brian France says it's not just the Earnhardt win that could help the sport. "The really great thing is how authentic he's been throughout the week here as he's doing (the media tour)," France said in a phone interview Wednesday. "That's great. We'll have to see (on the impact)." Earnhardt won the Daytona 500 for the second time, with the first coming in 2004 before the world of Twitter and in the infancy of social media. Now, Earnhardt is tweeting photos during his winner's media tour and that has gotten an already enthusiastic Junior Nation looking forward to the rest of the season even more. The victory also all but guarantees him a spot in the Chase. "Anytime his fanbase gets revved up, that's a good thing," France said. "That's good for him, and that's good for us."
With rain pushing the Daytona 500 to night for the second time in the last three years, it brings up the question of whether NASCAR would consider a move to night for that race. France says the sanctioning body already has considered it but Fox and the racetrack would also want to move it for it to happen. "We have considered it and for lots of reasons have not done that," France said. "But it's always a consideration. Of course, it's not just our decision. Fox has to believe that's the right time and all the rest."(Sporting News)(2-27-2013)
Patrick passes 1 million Twitter followers: Daytona 500 winner #88-Dale Earnhardt, Jr. may be known as NASCAR's most popular driver, but when it comes to Twitter, he's got some catching up to do. #10-Danica Patrick became NASCAR's first driver with over 1 million Twitter followers in the days leading up to Sunday's big race, ranking her among the top racing drivers and female athletes in the world. Of course, Dale Jr. didn't even have a Twitter account before the Daytona 500, but celebrated his second win there by opening an account and quickly attracted over a quarter of a million followers. The 1 million mark easily tops all NASCAR drivers. Next highest is six-time champion #48-Jimmie Johnson's 530,000 followers. Juan Pablo Montoya leads all IndyCar drivers with just under 800,000. Patrick's boyfriend, fellow NASCAR driver Ricky Stenhouse Jr., has 126,000 followers.(Associated Press)(2-26-2014)
Dale Earnhardt Jr. wins the Daytona 500: #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr. won the 56th Daytona 500 Sprint Cup Series race at Daytona International Speedway fir his 2nd win in the Daytona 500 (2004) and his 20th career win. There was a 6 hour and 22 minute red flag for severe weather and rain starting just after 2:00pm/et on lap 38. It was the 8th Daytona 500 win for Hendrick Motorsports. Earnhardt Jr. also led the most laps with 54 of 200.
#11-Hamlin finished 2nd followed by #2-Keselowski, #24-Gordon, #48-Johnson, #20-Kenseth, #17-Stenhouse Jr., #16-Biffle, #3-Dillon (pole winner) and #13-Mears.
Outside pole winner, #78-Truex Jr had an engine let go after only 30 laps and finished 43rd/last.
There was a big wreck on lap 146 when #4-Harvick and #33-Scott made contact, moving the #33 into #43-Almirola, who bounced off the wall, came back down into the #3-Dillon and #10-Patrick. Patrick then shot up the track into the wall nose first, but she walked away and is fine. Other cars involved were #5-Kahne, #9-Ambrose, #17-Stenhouse Jr., #27-Menard, #38-Gilliland, #51-Allgaier, #66-Waltrip and #98-Wise.
A few laps later, on lap 162, #3-Dillon got loose and into #42-Larson, who spun, collecting #5-Kahne, #7-Annett, #9-Ambrose, #31-Newman, #33-Scott, #52-Labonte and #55-Vickers. There was a wreck just behind the leaders that collected #18-Busch, #9-Ambrose, #22-Logano, #4-Harvick and #99-Edwards among others.
Rookie report: #3-Dillon finished 9th, #23-Bowman 23rd, #51-Allgaier 27th, #26-Whitt 28th, #30-Kligerman 29th, #7-Annett 37th (accident), #42-Larson 38th (accident) and #83-Truex DNQ.
There were 42 lead changes among 18 drivers and there were 7 cautions for 39 yellow flag laps.
The average speed was 145.290mph.
See unofficial race results, awards, money won, laps led, cautions and more on the Unofficial Daytona Race Results page (pdf) and check out the Daytona Penalty Report (pdf).(2-23-2014)
See OFFICIAL race results & points standings on the Official Daytona Race & Points Report (pdf)
Earnhardt Jr. installs the winning #88 National Guard Chevy at DIS: Two-time Daytona 500 champion Dale Earnhardt Jr. is ready to tell the world the story of his epic victory in Sunday night's 56th annual Daytona 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series victory at Daytona International Speedway. Running on only one hour of sleep, Earnhardt Jr. embarked on his week-long whirlwind media tour Monday morning after installing his #88 National Guard Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet inside the Daytona International Speedway Ticket and Tours Building. The car will be part of the Daytona International Speedway tours program and will be returned to the team at the 2015 Daytona 500, a tradition that has been in existence since 1996. Earnhardt, crew chief Steve Letarte, team owner Rick Hendrick and the crew of the #88 car enjoyed a breakfast with the media and participated in interviews and pictures on Monday morning.
"I was taking pictures and doing media until about 3 a.m.," Earnhardt Jr. said. "The team was having most of the fun. When I got over there, they were out of spirits so we found some more and we just sat around and talked about how cool it was - just punching each other in the shoulder until about 4 a.m. and then I had to hang it up."
During the Champion's Breakfast, Speedway President Joie Chitwood presented all three Daytona 500 champions with their leather jackets, Hendrick with his Harley J. Earl Daytona 500 trophy and Letarte with the Cannonball Baker trophy. Chitwood and Earnhardt Jr. also unveiled the logo for next year's 57th annual Daytona 500.
The Champion's Breakfast isn't the only obligation that comes with winning "The Great American Race." Earnhardt Jr. will fly across America making stops in places such as New York City, ESPN in Bristol, Connecticut and Los Angeles.
"I'm looking forward to it and I want to enjoy it," said Earnhardt Jr., who will be appearing on the Late Show with David Letterman on Monday night. "We won a big race, we put a lot of effort into it and I'm going to make sure everybody hears about it."
"This race is such a big deal," said Letarte. "The whole thing felt pretty surreal. What races do you still celebrate the next day? You have a breakfast and keep getting trophies and jackets. I'm proud of the team we've assembled. They're a great group of guys and deserve most of the credit. They built a great race car, Dale drove a great race and we're excited."
"That was a perfect race," agreed Hendrick, who is enjoying his eighth Daytona 500 win as an owner. "That was a perfect race. Dale - I've never seen anybody drive a car (like that). He drove the wheels off the car every lap. Stevie called a perfect race, pit stops were perfect and TJ (Majors) did an unbelievable job up there spotting. I'm so proud."
Earnhardt Jr. was asked to sum up the feeling of winning the Daytona 500 for a second time. "This place just has a lot of great history," Earnhardt Jr. said. "It's a great race track. You drive into it and you get a special feeling you don't get anywhere else. As soon as you drive through the tunnel you know where you're at. There are some great facilities and unique tracks and places we go that I have a lot of appreciation for, but nothing like Daytona. Once you win it, it's like a color TV - once you watch color TV for the first time, you don't want to go back to black and white. When I won it for the first time (in 2004), I just couldn't wait to get back to Victory Lane."(DIS)(2-24-2014)
Earnhardt Jr. off on Daytona 500 media tour: 2014 Daytona 500 winner, #88-Dale Earnhardt heads to New York City on Monday to be on the "Dan Patrick Show," Jay Mohr's radio show and "Late Night with David Letterman". The media tour will also see Earnhardt Jr. visit the ESPN headquarters in Bristol, CT on Tuesday to appear on a variety of programs, and then Los Angeles on Wednesday for FOX Sports 1 and other appearances on local shows.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. will visit ESPN's campus on Tuesday, Feb. 25, and appear on a variety of ESPN platforms. NASCAR's Most Popular Driver will talk about his second win in the "Great American Race" on SportsCenter, Mike and Mike, NASCAR Now and more.(2-24-2014)
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)
Earnhardt Narrates Story of Cancer-Stricken NASCAR Fan: On SportsCenter the morning of the Daytona 500 [Sunday, Feb. 23rd], #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr. will narrate the SC Featured story of cancer-stricken NASCAR fan Mitch Zanette. A year ago and knowing he had only days to live, Zanette chose to fulfill his wish of visiting the Daytona International Speedway for the Daytona 500. He drove himself from Pennsylvania to Florida and died during the visit in the speedway infield. SportsCenter airs at 10:00am/et on Sunday, Feb. 23.(ESPN)(2-22-2014)
Ambrose takes blame for late wreck in Sprint Unlimited: #9-Marcos Ambrose - "We were actually in a pretty good position. I was trying to help Junior there and ended up hurting him and hurting myself. I feel bad for Junior, but we finished the race with the Stanley car, but we were just a little disappointed with our effort."
Q) DID HE SURPRISE YOU WITH HIS MOVE INSIDE?
Ambrose: "Yeah, I was trying to push him and there was a little bit of a zig and a little bit of a zag and the next thing you know I helped him in the fence. I apologize to Junior. I'll try and find him later on if he wants to talk to me, but that's just what happens here. You've got 10 laps to go in a race that only counts to win and I'm trying to push him to the front. Unfortunately, it was just a bad day."
Q) HE SAID HE WAS HAVING FUN WHEN HE HIT YOU ON THE BACKSTRETCH. I ASSUME YOU DIDN'T THINK IT WAS FUNNY.
Ambrose: "It's OK. He's entitled to do that. At the end of the day we didn't end up in the fence, so put the blame on me for that. We'll go to the next one and try not to make the same mistake."
Q) DALE JUNIOR SAID THERE WILL BE A LOT OF WRECKING IN THE 500 BECAUSE THE SIDE DRAFT STALLS THE CARS OUT. CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THAT?
Ambrose: "Yeah, it certainly does. If you can get your nose to the guy's right-rear or left-rear quarter, you pull him back and you actually give yourself a little boost. It's like a little shot of nitrous and it can really make you run, so it makes cars really move around a lot trying to do that. I think he was trying to side draft someone came back across when I was trying to help push him and that's what happens."(Ford Racing)(2-16-2014)
New sponsor for Dale Earnhardt Jr.: Kelley Blue Book, the vehicle valuation and information source trusted and relied upon by both consumers and the automotive industry, has joined Hendrick Motorsports as a primary sponsor of the #88 Chevrolet SS NASCAR Sprint Cup Series team with driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. in 2014 and 2015. The two-year agreement includes full-season associate sponsorship, which provides Kelley Blue Book prominent brand placement on the #88 race cars throughout the Sprint Cup schedule, and primary sponsorship of Earnhardt in one event annually. The 2014 season will be the first as a NASCAR team sponsor for Kelley Blue Book, a subsidiary of AutoTrader Group.
"Kelley Blue Book's sponsorship in NASCAR is the next step in communicating our brand strength and recognition as a vehicle valuation pioneer and leader for new-car shopping and research," said Steve Lind, vice president of operations for Kelley Blue Book. "By supporting successful race car driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Hendrick Motorsports, coupled with NASCAR's brand equity, we will reach even more consumers with our message-providing helpful, transparent information on KBB.com to help car shoppers make the best decision possible."
"I'm looking forward to our partnership with Kelley Blue Book," said Earnhardt, who will drive the #88 Kelley Blue Book Chevrolet SS at Sonoma Raceway on June 22. "As a car enthusiast and dealership owner, I've trusted them for years for vehicle valuation and information. It's exciting to work with a partner that's new to the sport, and I'm proud Kelley Blue Book will be on board with the #88 team for their debut season in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series."
Through its website, KBB.com, Kelley Blue Book is changing the way people shop for a new car. It now offers the KBB.com Price Advisor, which features a new range-based pricing layout, including the Kelley Blue Book Fair Purchase Price, which shows the average price other customers in the same area paid for the same vehicle. Other resources include 5-Year Cost to Own data, and consumer and expert reviews and ratings.
In addition to individual consumers, Kelley Blue Book's various products and services are available to car dealers, auto manufacturers, finance and insurance companies, and governmental agencies. Partners include Hendrick Motorsports' sister company, Hendrick Automotive Group, which operates more than 120 automotive retail franchises across the United States.
"On the dealership side, we've worked with Kelley Blue Book for many years," said Rick Hendrick, owner of Hendrick Motorsports and chairman of Hendrick Automotive Group. "NASCAR is a terrific marketing platform for their products and services, and it presents new opportunities for our companies to work together. We're excited to welcome a new partner and team them with an incredible spokesperson in Dale Jr. It's a great combination with the potential to grow even more."(Hendrick Motorsports), see an image of the car on the #88 Team Schemes page.(2-13-2014)
Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jimmie Johnson team up with Valvoline for Reinvention Project: Valvoline and Hendrick Motorsports announced a first-of-its-kind consumer challenge called the Reinvention Project. Valvoline is working with NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers Jimmie Johnson and Dale Earnhardt Jr. to secretly reinvent two classic Chevy trucks and will be keeping them under wraps to give fans a chance to get in on the action. Car enthusiasts everywhere can put their know-how to the test in an attempt to guess the various features of Earnhardt Jr.'s and Johnson's creations. A virtual garage hosted at www.ReinventionProject.com invites consumers to select the parts that the drivers hand-picked for their high-performance trucks, from Chevrolet Performance* engines, to American Eagle* wheels and Goodyear* tires. More info at Hendrickmotorsports.com.(HMS)(2-12-2014)
Hendrick Motorsports profiled on Showtime show Wed night: In a sport where their performance has to be 12 seconds or less, every tenth of a second can make the difference between victory or defeat. That's why NASCAR pit crews are so important to auto racing and why teams like Hendrick Motorsports are using athletes from college programs to make their pit crews the best they can be. CBS News correspondent on assignment, Jeff Glor, profiles a Hendrick team for the next edition of 60 Minutes Sports premiering tomorrow/Wed., Feb. 5, at 10 p.m. ET/PT on Showtime.(PR)(2-5-2014)
NASCAR pit crews help renovate homeless shelter: Some of NASCAR's biggest musclemen are helping make sure a Charlotte homeless shelter gets a much needed makeover-- 40 years in the making. They are used to hard work and heavy lifting, but carrying 200 pound consoles up three flights of stairs is not how Jimmie Johnson and Dale Juniors' pit-crews usually spend their Mondays. "Normally go in and do some light duty stuff like some yoga and some rehab, but today's not quite like that," T.J. Ford says laughing. Instead they are getting in a workout helping with a long overdue makeover at Charlotte's Rescue Mission. "Yeah, you can tell I'm out of breath right now; carrying those 200 pound consoles upstairs takes teamwork-- just like pit-stops." The men at the Rescue Mission have spent the last two months sleeping in the gym so the 1930s building can be completely redone. Everything at the mission had been here since the 60s. Reverend Tony Marciano runs the mission and says, "The building had really deteriorated over that time; the furniture itself was probably 30, 40 years old, so we really needed to renovate everything." They're completely re-configuring the men's dormitory. It was military barracks style, but now they're going to have four guys sleeping in the same area. The idea is to build a bond between the men. Marciano says there's a good reason. "So if one is thinking of quitting there's three other men that if he has a relationship with that will encourage him to stay within the program. For addicts, finishing something is very difficult." They're hoping fresh paint, new floors and furniture will help the men realize they're worth a fresh start. "The old system reinforced the fact that they had messed up their lives; I hate to say that. With the new furniture it says your best days truly are ahead of you," Marciano said. The men are supposed to be able to move from the gym to the newly redone dorms later this week. The renovations cost $400,000 and come from donations and from part of the non-profit's operating budget.(NBC Charlotte)(2-5-2014)
Dale Jr. staying out of crew chief hunt: The only certainty about Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s next crew chief after Steve Letarte? He won't be chosen by the driver. "I won't make any suggestions at all," Earnhardt said in putting the decision in the hands of Hendrick Motorsports owner Rick Hendrick and general manager Doug Duchardt. "I don't really want to have any influence on the choice. It was Rick and upper management that decided to put me with Steve. I didn't know how that was going to work out, but I just wanted to trust their judgment, and that's what I'm going to do."(USA Today)(2-4-2014)
Super Bowl commercial takes Dale Earnhardt to unusual place: #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr. does a burnout as part of his Super Bowl commercial for Diet Mountain Dew, but the sport's most popular driver is in a place where you wouldn't expect to see his famous racecar. But thanks to the art of cinematography, he's in a familiar environment and appears to be using his No. 88 Chevy for a unique purpose. Diet Mountain Dew is part of PepsiCo, whose agreement with Hendrick Motorsports includes primary sponsorship for five Cup races with Earnhardt this year. Earnhardt is one of at least two NASCAR stars who will star in Super Bowl commercials on Sunday. Danica Patrick will star in her record 13th Super Bowl commercial for sponsor GoDaddy.(Sporting News)(2-2-2014)
New points system, Earnhardt Jr. would had won championship in 2013: In announcing major changes to the Chase for the Sprint Cup on Thursday, NASCAR chairman Brian France touted an emphasis on winning as a primary reason behind the format. But it turns out last year's champion, if the new rules were applied, would have been #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr., who didn't win a race. According to economist Andrew Maness, who runs the nascarnomics.com site, Earnhardt would have made the final race along with Jimmie Johnson, Kevin Harvick and Jeff Gordon. NASCAR's Mike Forde confirmed the lineup. The driver who won the most races last season, Matt Kenseth with seven, would not have been eligible for the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway.(USA Today)(1-31-2014)
Hendrick still looking for sponsorship for Earnhardt Jr. UPDATE: Car owner Rick Hendrick says that he's not worried that Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s #88 team does not have sponsorship for 13 races less than a month before the Daytona 500. "We've talked to a lot of people,'' Hendrick said Tuesday during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Media Tour. "I want a long-term deal that fits and isn't a conflict with the other guys.'' He's said that they've had potential sponsors who have conflicted with sponsors already with Hendrick Motorsports. "We will listen to anybody, and we're always looking, but there's no like, golly we've got to find somebody,'' Hendrick said. National Guard returns and will be Earnhardt's sponsor for 20 races. PepsiCo's brands will serve as a primary sponsor for five races, leaving 13 races (36 point races and two non-points races).(Motor Racing Network)(1-29-2014)
UPDATE: Rick Hendrick will wait patiently for the right sponsor to come along for Dale Earnhardt Jr., spending his own money or leveraging other business partners to fill the races for the sport's most popular driver. Hendrick has routinely said he wouldn't discount the price for Earnhardt, the son of the NASCAR Hall of Famer and the winner of the most popular driver award in each of the last 11 seasons. He emphasized that the Hendrick Motorsports team has no timetable or deadline to land a new deal. "We will listen to anybody and we're always looking, but there's no (feeling of), 'Golly, we've got to find somebody,' because we've got two really good sponsors," Hendrick said. "I'm wanting a long-term deal that fits that isn't a conflict with the other guys. We don't put any timetable on it. We have plenty of time."(Sporting News)(1-30-2014)
Hendrick wants Earnhardt's input on new crew chief: Although #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr. says he doesn't need to give car owner Rick Hendrick any input on his 2015 crew chief, Earnhardt might not have a choice. Hendrick is planning on demanding that Earnhardt play a role in who will replace Steve Letarte when Letarte goes to NBC after this season. Earnhardt told the media the day after Letarte's announcement that he had confidence in Hendrick and his Hendrick Motorsports executives to make the right choice and that his input wasn't needed. "He told you that, but I'm sure at the end of the day, he'd say, 'Why did you pick him?'" Hendrick said with a laugh Tuesday during the Sprint Media Tour. "He has a lot of confidence in us to make the right decision. But at the same time, the chemistry has got to be there. We want him involved. We're going to get him involved."(Sporting News)(1-29-2014)
Dale Jr's Whisky River Jacksonville closes: Whisky River, the St. Johns Town Center-area restaurant/nightclub owned by NASCAR's Dale Earnhardt Jr., has closed. Doors at the restaurant were locked during a visit at 1:30 p.m. Friday. And though lights were off inside the restaurant, one of four flatscreen TVs on the restaurant's emptied patio was on, tuned to ESPN. By mid-afternoon, Whisky River's Facebook page had been removed and the restaurant's website simply read "Whisky River Jacksonville has closed." Bar Management Group, which operated the restaurant for Earnhardt, issued the following statement to Times-Union news partner First Coast News: "After four years, the management company behind Whisky River Jacksonville has decided to close this location, and is working with the landlord with respect to its closing."(Florida Times-Union)(1-18-2014)
Earnhardt Jr. talks about Letarte leaving after 2014 season: #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr., met with members of the media at Daytona International Speedway Friday morning and discussed the departure of Steve Letarte as crew chief in 2015. The transcript in part:
Q. Obviously with Steve just leaving, can you talk about your thoughts, and how long have you known, and what you think about the situation?
DALE EARNHARDT JR.: Yeah, it's definitely a unique situation. He actually included me in on the discussion before the end of last year, and I had a pretty good understanding, whether he knew or not, what he was going to do. I had a pretty good understanding what his decision was going to be when I left Homestead. So I've had time to really wrap my brain around it. It was hard because we are such good friends, and I really do enjoy working with him a lot. But at the same time I'm happy for him because it gives him the opportunity to spend time with his family. It's something that's really important to him, and the way these races are broadcast and how they're presented to the fans is a big part of how the sport remains healthy, and I think that he's going to be incredible in that role. I think that he'll -- I think that he'll be really good. I'm excited for him because I know he's really looking forward to it. You can tell when he talks about it how genuinely enthused he is about the opportunity. And at the same time, you know, I'm not worried about this season and how focused we may be. I know that he's really good at separating things and keeping things compartmentalized, as Jeff Gordon likes to say about Steve. I know that we're going to be fine as far as how we'll compete this year and how dedicated and how we might move through the process of the season. I expect us to do nothing less than improve on what we've been doing and steadily keep moving toward our goals. But it's definitely going to be emotional and difficult at times, just because we really enjoy working together. But I'm excited about the year. I'm excited about our chances as a team. We've got a great group of guys. Steve is a great crew chief that's going to get us a good opportunity to try to win some races. And I think that the team, just based on the personalities and how well we all get along and mesh and how much fun we really had last year, I think that everybody can buckle down and do their jobs, and I think we can do well.
Q. What do you fear the most about losing Steve as a crew chief? In other words, kind of what are such his strengths that you're like, man, how are we going to do this without him?
EARNHARDT JR.: Yeah, I think the one thing that I fear is just trying to get a guy in there that's equally as talented. I think -- I'm not really -- Steve is a great cheerleader and definitely built up my confidence and changed me as a race car driver and as a person. Working with him has really helped me grow. I think you guys have all seen that over the last several years. I think I can carry that with me, what I've learned about myself and what I've learned about the job and what my job is and what my responsibility is to Steve and the crew chief. I think I can carry that with me - hopefully I can at this age. Hopefully I've learned something and learned enough to do a better job for the next guy. I think that my fear is just can we replace Steve. It's a guy that's going to be hard to replace. I'm not worried about the specific qualities that Steve has, but just will we be able to get a guy in there of equal talent, and how well will we be able to make that transition seamless. It's going to be a real challenge to do that, and I guess that's my only concern.
Q. At this stage in your career how much input do you want to have on who your next crew chief is? Will you make suggestions? Will you have say in the final decision? How will that work?
EARNARDT JR.: I won't make any suggestions at all. I will leave that up to Rick, Doug. I would love to have input from Chad Knaus and Steve. I think that Steve knows what makes this teamwork. Steve knows how I can be successful and how the individuals within the team can be successful. I think he'd be a good guy to sort of pick at and hope that Doug and Rick would include him in that conversation at times. I think it's important that Chad has got a lot of influence because he knows how well the shop works together and what the culture is in the shop and how a guy, a particular guy may mesh in that environment. But I don't really want to have any influence on the choice. I want -- I think that those guys are the ones that can make the choice and have the most success with that decision. I'll just kind of -- it was Rick and upper management that decided to put me with Steve. I didn't know how that was going to work out. I didn't know much about Steve. I knew him and Jeff were not really clicking at that point in time in their careers, so I didn't know exactly what was going to happen, but I just wanted to trust their judgment, and that's what I'm going to do.(Team Chevy)(1-10-2014)
NBC Sports Group adds Crew Chief Steve Letarte to NASCAR Broadcast Team: NBC Sports Group's upcoming NASCAR coverage continues to take shape as another prominent figure from the sanctioning body's elite series joins NBC and NBCSN's expanding broadcast team. Current Hendrick Motorsports crew chief Steve Letarte, who once stood at the helm of Jeff Gordon's famed #24 race team, and now leads the crew behind the ultra-popular #88 car driven by Dale Earnhardt Jr., has reached an agreement to join NBC's multi-platform NASCAR coverage beginning in 2015. The announcement was made today by Sam Flood, Executive Producer, NBC Sports and NBCSN, and will be discussed in further detail at a Media Conference scheduled for 8:30am/et tomorrow [Jan 10, 2014] at Daytona International Speedway. "I've always been impressed with Steve Letarte's interviews, and feel smarter after hearing him break down the crucial elements of each race," said Flood. "It wasn't long into our first meeting about this potential role on our broadcast team when I realized that Steve is going to be 'Must See TV.'" Letarte will join fellow analyst Jeff Burton and race announcer Rick Allen across NBC Sports Group's exclusive coverage of NASCAR's Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series action on NBC and NBCSN, which includes races, pre- and post-race shows, qualifying, and studio programming.
"As soon as I met with Sam Flood and his team at NBC Sports it became obvious to me how excited they are to be covering NASCAR in 2015 and beyond. Their excitement, along with my love for racing, solidified my decision to move away from the pit box and into the broadcast booth," said Letarte. "I want to thank Rick Hendrick and everyone at Hendrick Motorsports for the opportunities they have given me over the last 18 years, and I want to reaffirm my commitment to Dale Jr. and the entire 88 team to go win races and challenge for the championship in 2014."
Letarte has worked for Hendrick Motorsports since he was just 16 years old. In 1996, after graduating from high school early, Steve started traveling with the No. 24 race team, driven by Jeff Gordon, as a full-time mechanic and tire specialist. His impressive work ethic moved him up the ranks quickly, assuming the role of car chief in 2002, and then crew chief for the four-time NASCAR Cup Series champion in 2005 when Steve was 26. After five successful seasons with the No. 24 team and Gordon, Letarte embarked on a new challenge and joined Hendrick's No. 88 team driven by Dale Earnhardt Jr. Letarte and the No. 88 team started the 2011 season strong by capturing the pole at the Daytona 500, and went on to qualify for the Chase, the first time for Earnhardt since 2008. In 2012, Letarte and Earnhardt combined for their first win together, on Father's Day at Michigan International Speedway. Throughout the 2013 season, the No. 88 team solidly remained in the Top 10 in points and made the Chase for the Sprint Cup yet again. Steve and his wife, Tricia, live in North Carolina with their two children.
On July 23, 2013, NASCAR and NBC Sports Group reached a comprehensive agreement that grants NBCUniversal exclusive rights to the final 20 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races, final 19 NASCAR Nationwide Series events, select NASCAR Regional & Touring Series events and other live content beginning in 2015.
With this partnership, NBC's 20 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race schedule includes a designation as the exclusive home to the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, when the elite national series races through its final 10 events of the season. The Chase culminates with the season-ending championship event, which returns to network television in 2015 for the first time since 2009. Of NBC Sports Group's 20 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series events, seven will be carried on NBC annually, with 13 airing on NBCSN. Four of NBC Sports Group's 19 NASCAR Nationwide Series races will air on NBC, with 15 airing on NBCSN.
In addition to NASCAR's Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series races, NBC also obtained exclusive rights to practice and qualifying sessions for NBC's national series events during their portion of the season, as well as rights to broadcast the NASCAR K&N Series, NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour, NASCAR Toyota (Mexico) Series, the NASCAR Hall of Fame induction ceremony and NASCAR's season-ending banquets. Further, NBC is granted Spanish-language rights, certain video-on-demand rights and exclusive TV Everywhere rights for its NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and NASCAR Nationwide Series events.(NBC)(1-9-2014)
Statement from Rick Hendrick, owner of Hendrick Motorsports: "You never want to see a talented and all-around quality person like Steve (Letarte) move on, but we understand this is an exciting opportunity for him and his family. He has all the tools to be a terrific broadcaster, and I know our fans will enjoy hearing his perspective. We're looking forward to a successful year in 2014 with Steve and Dale (Earnhardt Jr.) leading the #88 together. They have some of the best chemistry in the garage, and we know they'll build on last season and continue to be a championship-contending team. We don't expect to address the crew chief position until after the season. Everyone with the team is focused on 2014 and committed to having another great year."(Hendrick Motorsports)(1-9-2014)
Letarte Heading For TV Booth In 2015 UPDATE: Dale Earnhardt, Jr. will have a new crew chief in 2015. GodfatherMotorsports.com has learned that crew chief Steve Letarte will relinquish his spot atop the #88 team's pit box at season's end to accept a new position as a television analyst with NBC and NBC Sports Network, beginning in 2015. Multiple sources say Letarte will join Rick Allen and driver Jeff Burton in the broadcast booth for the final 20 races of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season, as well as the final 19 NASCAR Nationwide Series events. The network also holds rights to select NASCAR Regional Racing Series events, Mexico's NASCAR Toyota Series, the annual NASCAR Hall of Fame induction ceremony and various post-season awards banquets. Letarte has served as crew chief for NASCAR's Most Popular Driver since 2011, with one win, 24 Top-5 and 54 Top-10 finishes in 106 starts. Earnhardt finished fifth in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship standings last season, despite failing to win a race. He recorded Top-5 finishes in five of the final eight races and is expected to challenge for the 2014 title. An official announcement of Letarte's new position is expected this week in Daytona Beach. Reached for comment, Letarte said, "I will be the crew chief for the #88 Chevrolet in in 2014. That's all I know right now."(Godfather Motorsports)(1-9-2014)
#88 team wins Mechanix Pit Crew of the Year: During the championship week in Las Vegas the #88 of HMS was awarded the pit crew of the year award. All year long the #88 has been a strong team and whats more impressive was they did it with 3 rear tire changers. As the season went on they lost their starter, Joe Slingerland to a wrist injury and then David Mayo to a knee injury. In steps the 3rd string changer Steven Tautges and the team continued on with consistent stops The other members of the team are as follows.
Front Changer: Clay Robinson, Front Carrier: Kevin Harris, Jack Man: Nick Covey, Rear Changer: Joe Slingerland, David Mayo, Steven Tautges, Rear Carrier: Matt Ver Meer, Gas Man: Caleb Hurd. (Pit Talks)(12-6-2013)
Dale Earnhardt, Jr. wins 11th Most Popular Driver Award The National Motorsports Press Association announced that Dale Earnhardt Jr. is the recipient of this year's NMPA NASCAR Most Popular Driver Award. It is the 11th consecutive year Earnhardt Jr. has been selected through a vote of the fans, breaking a tie with Bill Elliott for most consecutive awards received. Elliott continues to hold the overall mark, having been named the series' most popular driver 16 times. "I don't really keep track of the stats or the score, but Bill was a great driver and ambassador for the sport," Earnhardt Jr. said. "He represents the sport really well to this day, as does his son Chase, who's coming up and carrying on the family name. But, I've always looked up to Bill as a driver so it's pretty neat." More than 1 million votes were tallied for 39 eligible drivers from this year's first race to the last at the site www.MostPopularDriver.com. Fans voted once per day with Earnhardt Jr. collecting more than 700,000 votes. The award was presented to the Hendrick Motorsports driver today during the annual NMPA Myers Brothers Luncheon, a part of the season-ending Champions Week activities in Las Vegas. The final top-10 drivers, in order of votes received were: Earnhardt Jr., Kasey Kahne, Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart, Danica Patrick, Jimmie Johnson, Kevin Harvick, Matt Kenseth, Kyle Busch and Carl Edwards. Earnhardt Jr. is still honored to receive the trophy.(NMPA)(12-5-2013)
No Crew Chief Changes for Hendrick: Team owner Rick Hendrick said before Sunday's race at Phoenix that there's no basis to rumors of impending crew chief changes among his four NASCAR Sprint Cup teams. "That's right -- no changes," said Hendrick, who swapped crew chiefs among three of his teams at the end of the 2010 season, leaving only the combination of driver Jimmie Johnson and crew chief Chad Knaus intact. "I don't know where any of that came from, but there's not going to be any changes. Nobody's even discussed anything. Everybody's pretty happy with what we've got... good momentum in the Chase and winning races. Take the things like blown tires and engines out of the equation, and it's one of the best Chases we've had, so there's no reason to change anything."(NASCAR Wire Service)(11-12-2013)
Earnhardt going gold at Texas: Dale Earnhardt's #88 Chevy will have gold and black paint scheme this weekend to honor his fellow AMP Energy athletes who will be hitting the slopes and going for gold in the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games. AMP Energy Gold is a new, apple-flavored beverage that will be available on shelves nationwide from Nov. 4 through January 2014.(Hendrick Motorsports), see an image of the car on the #88 team paint schemes page.(10-30-2013)
Hendrick hosts Randy Dorton Hendrick Engine Builder Showdown: Despite rules to restrict engine development, today's NASCAR engines are more intricate and detail-oriented than ever. A testament to that trend was revealed during the 12th annual Randy Dorton Hendrick Engine Builder Showdown last week. Jay Wiles, a dyno technician inside the Hendrick Motorsports engine department, teamed up with Robert Marock, who works out of the Hendrick Automotive Group's Honda dealership in Concord, North Carolina, to win the competition by assembling a Chevy R07.2 engine in 24 minutes and 38 seconds. Wiles is a repeat winner, having captured the inaugural competition in 2002. The showdown was renamed a few years later to honor Randy Dorton, the chief engine builder for Hendrick Motorsports who died in a 2004 plane crash. Wiles and Marock survived a one-minute penalty for a loose bolt on the intake manifold to win the final round by just 14 seconds over Van Nguyen, a valvetrain technician at Hendrick Motorsports and Brad Lyne of Hendrick's Chevy dealership in Merriam, Kansas. The competition pairs 12 master technicians from the Hendrick Automotive Group with 12 members of the engine team at Hendrick Motorsports. After qualifying rounds over two days, the two teams with the best preliminary engine-build times go head-to-head in the championship round. The overall goal is to have the fewest errors in the quickest time. All teams are required to assemble 358ci Chevy R07.2 engines designed with 12:1 compression ratio and electronic fuel injection. Components include Bosch spark plugs and ignitions, Purolator filters and GM Racing block, heads and intake manifold. Last year's winning time was 27 minutes, 46 seconds. 2012 was also the first time that engine builders worked with EFI, which slowed down the winning time about six minutes from the previous year when a single 4-barrel carburetor was used.(Engine Labs)(10-26-2013)
National Guard extends sponsorship of Earnhardt, Jr.: The Army National Guard will continue as the majority sponsor of the #88 Sprint Cup Series team with driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. after extending its relationship with Hendrick Motorsports through the 2014 NASCAR season. The National Guard will receive primary paint schemes in 20 Sprint Cup races, including the 2014 Daytona 500, and prominent brand placement during all non-primary events. "NASCAR is a critical marketing platform for the National Guard," said Lt. Col. Michael Wegner, marketing branch chief, Army National Guard. "This program touches recruiters, influencers, our own Citizen Soldiers and those interested in the Guard's many career opportunities and benefits. NASCAR fans in our target demographic are twice as likely to consider the military as a career option, and the overall fan base strongly advocates for military service. It's the right place for the Guard and has helped us recruit more than 400,000 Citizen Soldiers since 2007."
"It's an incredible privilege to work with and represent the Guard," Earnhardt said. "We have the opportunity to interact with those who serve our country and many who are considering military careers. I'm personally in awe of their sacrifices and feel a tremendous amount of pride in our relationship with them. The entire #88 team is looking forward to another season together."
PepsiCo's continuing support of the #88 Hendrick Motorsports team includes five primary races annually through the 2015 Sprint Cup season. Additional sponsorship will be announced at a later date.(Hendrick Motorsports)(10-25-2013)
Hendrick to receive Lifetime Achievement Award at The Washington Auto Show: Rick Hendrick, tireless philanthropist, creator of an automotive empire and the most successful NASCAR owner of the modern era, has been named the 2014 recipient of the Keith Crain/Automotive News Lifetime Achievement Award, presented at The Washington Auto Show. "Rick has become an auto industry icon through his charity, hard work, grit and determination," said Keith Crain, Chairman of Crain Communications and Editor-in-Chief of Automotive News. "He has achieved unimaginable success as an automotive dealer and NASCAR owner and he has persevered through unspeakable grief and continues to give back and that combination makes him unique and the perfect recipient of the lifetime achievement award." The Keith Crain/Automotive News Lifetime Achievement Award will be presented at the close of the 2014 Washington Auto Show Public Policy Preview Day. Previous recipients of the Keith Crain/Automotive News Lifetime Achievement Award include: Edsel Ford II, Roger Penske, Carroll Shelby, Ralph Nader and Congressman John D. Dingell (D-MI). The 2014 staging of the 71st Washington Auto Show in Washington, DC, known in the industry as "The Public Policy Show", will offer a showcase of more than 700 vehicles from over 42 domestic and import manufacturers and a special exhibit of the world's most luxurious rides.(Washington Auto Show PR)(10-22-2013)
Students get NASCAR engineering lesson:
About 25 Charlotte middle school students got a hands-on lesson in engineering - NASCAR style - when they visited the headquarters of racing giant Hendrick Motorsports on Tuesday. The students, from Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School, were guests of the racing operation as part of Time Warner Cable's STEM in Sports campaign, designed to increase interest by young people in science, technology, mathematics and engineering. NFL player Victor Cruz, professional golfer Ian Poulter and NASCAR drivers Kasey Kahne and Jeff Gordon are teaming with Time Warner in promoting the program.(Charlotte Observer)(10-10-2013)
Earnhardt Jr. Set To Make 500th NASCAR Sprint Cup Start: Only 33 drivers have started 500 races in their NASCAR Sprint Cup Series careers, but this Saturday in the Bank of America 500 at Charlotte #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr. plans to add his name to that elite list. Fourteen years ago in May 1999, the Kannapolis, N.C., native made his series debut at his home track. The then-24-year-old driver started eighth in the No. 8 Chevrolet owned by his father, seven-time champion Dale Earnhardt - who, it so happens, also made his series debut at the 1.5-mile track. The younger Earnhardt finished the 1999 Coca-Cola 600 16th, three laps off the lead lap. Earnhardt also scored his first career pole at CMS, in 2000.
Now, with 499 races in the books, he's compiled 19 wins, 111 top fives, 199 top 10s and 13 poles. If Earnhardt, who celebrates his 39th birthday on Thurs., Oct. 10, wins this weekend, he would become the third driver to win in their 500th start (Richard Petty in 1970; Matt Kenseth three weeks ago at New Hampshire).(NASCAR)(10-9-2013)
Valvoline returns to sponsor Hendrick teams: Valvoline, a leading marketer, distributor and producer of quality branded automotive and industrial products and services, will be reunited with Hendrick Motorsports after finalizing a multi-year sponsorship agreement that will kick off next season. The Official Lubricants Partner of Hendrick Motorsports beginning in 2014, the Valvoline brand will be featured as a major associate sponsor of the team's full stable of Chevrolet SS race cars through the 2017 NASCAR campaign. The company will utilize Sprint Cup Series drivers #5-Kasey Kahne, #24-Jeff Gordon, #48-Jimmie Johnson and #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr. as spokespeople to promote Valvoline premium motor oil products and services. In addition, Valvoline will be the preferred oil poured by Hendrick Motorsports' sister company, Hendrick Automotive Group, which operates 87 auto dealerships across the United States. The dealerships also will use Valvoline professional series, a line of fuel system preventive maintenance products that increase fuel economy and drivability, and Valvoline antifreeze. Both product lines contain patented technology that provides exceptional performance. Beginning in 2014, Hendrick Motorsports will use Valvoline products in its Chevrolet R-07 racing engines in the elite Sprint Cup Series. Valvoline was a partner of the team from 1993-95, supplying lubricant technology that contributed to the organization's first Cup championship with Gordon.(Hendrick Motorsports), Valvoline will replace Quaker State Oil at HMS.(9-24-2013)
Drivers react to adding Gordon to Chase: After NASCAR stunned the garage by installing #24-Jeff Gordon as the 13th playoff driver in the Chase for the Sprint Cup - a position which did not exist before Friday - drivers reacted with a mix of shock and confusion. "I'm very happy that Jeff is in the Chase," Hendrick Motorsports teammate #48-Jimmie Johnson said. "But in my opinion, there should be 12 cars. One in, one out should be the deal. It's not."
When NASCAR Chairman Brian France awarded Gordon an extra spot - he said Friday he believed Gordon was the victim of foul play and was at a disadvantage during Saturday night's Chase-setting race at Richmond International Raceway - no one was quite sure how to take it. Except #56-Martin Truex Jr.
"I'm not even sure what to say at this point," he said. "I'm kind of at a loss for words. They kick me out to make a spot for somebody and then they don't do the same for the other guys. It's just unfair and (there's) nothing I can do about it."
Gordon's Hendrick Motorsports teammate #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr. seemed confused. "I was probably just as surprised as anybody that anything happened, because we're so far into the week," Earnhardt Jr. said. "It's just really extraordinary and unprecedented. I don't know what's fair anymore, you know what I mean?" he said.
Johnson wondered why the penalties to MWR were "far different" than the probation given to Front Row Motorsports and Penske Racing for what he believed were similar actions. "Through all of this, we're all just looking for consistency," he said.
Defending Sprint Cup Series champion Brad Keselowski said the decision "hasn't sunk in yet," but added he was "not shocked." "I don't know if that's good or bad that I'm not shocked," he said. "But at some point, you expect the unexpected."(USA Today)(9-14-2013)
Dale Jr's tire changer out with broken wrist: This past Tuesday night the #88 Hendrick Motorsports team of Dale Earnhardt Jr. suffered a big blow to the pit crew. Rear Tire Changer Joe Slingerland was injured during a team outing and ended up with a broke wrist and concussion. It all went down at the U.S. National White Water Center in Charlotte on Tuesday night. During one of the events, the low ropes course, Tire Changer Joe Slingerland jumped from a log and went for the Cargo Net. "I had just gotten to the end of the log and when I went to jump for the Cargo Net I missed. My feet went through the net and my when I put my wrist down to break my fall it broke." Not only did Joe break a small bone in his wrist, but when he fell back wards he hit his head on a tree root and it knocked him out. The injury is not good but there might be some hope after all. Joe plans on seeing a doctor Friday and will get a better idea of the time table he's looking at. It could be as early as 3-4 weeks if things go good. Taking his place is veteran Tire Changer David Mayo. David was on the #48 HMS team during the middle of the year and spend 5 years with Penske Racing before that. The #88 team is a very good pit crew but rest easy Jr. fans, Mayo is a good veteran Changer and will be just fine during the Chase.(Pit Talks)(9-13-2013)
Time Warner Cable to sponsor #88 and adds to #5 package: Time Warner Cable Inc. will be the primary sponsor in more NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races after broadening its relationship with Hendrick Motorsports. The expanded partnership makes Time Warner Cable primary sponsor of the #5 Chevrolet SS team with driver Kasey Kahne for six races in 2013 and five races in both 2014 and 2015. Previously, Time Warner Cable committed to sponsor four primary events per season from 2013 through 2015.
In addition, Time Warner Cable will be a primary sponsor of the #88 Hendrick Motorsports team with driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. for five events in 2013, including four during the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. The #88 Time Warner Cable Chevrolet SS will appear Sept. 7 at Richmond, Sept. 15 at Chicago, Sept. 22 at New Hampshire, Oct. 6 at Kansas, and Oct. 12 at Charlotte.
"We've been extremely happy with the results from our NASCAR initiatives," said Jeffrey Hirsch, Time Warner Cable's executive vice president and chief marketing officer, Residential Services. "The on-track performance of Hendrick Motorsports is well documented, but they've also put significant resources into building a world-class marketing operation. It's been a team effort, and we're seeing terrific exposure and return." As part of the new sponsorship agreement, Time Warner Cable will collaborate with Hendrick Motorsports' sister company, Hendrick Automotive Group, as a marketing partner. The organizations will work together to develop marketing solutions specific to the automotive industry using Time Warner Cable product offerings.
"We are excited to expand our partnership with Hendrick Motorsports," said Joan Gillman, Time Warner Cable Media's executive vice president and chief operating officer. "With this relationship, we will work together with Hendrick Automotive Group to develop innovative marketing solutions that will be valuable to the entire auto industry. Our teams could not be more engaged to take full advantage of this proving ground with our multi-screen digital solutions and enterprise services that include research, production, promotions and client solutions." The partnership with Hendrick Motorsports, which promotes Time Warner Cable's video and Internet services, began in 2006. It incorporated on-car branding for the first time in 2012.
"This is the second time in the last year that Time Warner Cable has expanded its commitment to Hendrick Motorsports and NASCAR," said Rick Hendrick, owner of Hendrick Motorsports. "We're now leveraging more of our assets, from both Hendrick Motorsports and Hendrick Automotive Group, to drive even greater value into what's been a very effective program. It's a terrific partnership that works on multiple levels." With the expanded Time Warner Cable relationship, all remaining primary sponsorship inventory for Kahne's #5 Chevrolet SS team has been filled for the 2013 and 2014 seasons.(Hendrick Motorsports), see an image of the car on the #88 Team Schemes page.(9-4-2013)
Special scheme for Dale Jr. at Atlanta: #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr. will run a National Guard / Race2Achieve scheme at Atlanta this coming weekend as the National Guard has partnered with Hendrick Motorsports and certified educators to create Race 2 Achieve, a free high school math curriculum that focuses on how the engineers at Hendrick Motorsports utilize key concepts found In Algebra II And Trigonometry, and applies them to real-world scenarios. See an image of the scheme on the #88 Team Schemes page.(8-26-2013)
Earnhardt Jr. does burnout in Chicago street: #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr. took Chicago by storm on Monday, performing a celebratory burnout on State Street in front of the legendary Chicago Theatre before travelling to Millennium Park to greet a crowd of adoring fans. Earnhardt Jr., currently sixth in the point standings, will return to Chicagoland Speedway on Sept. 15 for the GEICO 400, the first race in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. The GEICO 400 is part of a triple-header weekend of action at Chicagoland Speedway Sept. 13-15, including NASCAR Sprint Cup qualifying on Friday afternoon, the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race Friday night, Saturday's Dollar General 300 Powered by Coca-Cola and Sunday's GEICO 400, the start of NASCAR's playoffs. "Chicago is a great town with great fans. It's fun for us to get out there and do something different, so to put a Cup car on State Street made for a cool day," said Earnhardt Jr., driver of the No. 88 National Guard ride for Hendrick Motorsports. "We appreciate everyone coming out to see us and we're looking forward to putting on another great show in September." Following the burnout, Earnhardt Jr. visited fans in Millennium Park's Wrigley Square for a question-and-answer session lead by Miss Sprint Cup, Jaclyn Roney. Roney, a native of Ann Arbor, Mich., and graduate from Eastern Michigan University, has held the title of Miss Sprint Cup since 2011.(Chicagoland Speedway)(8-15-2013)
Dale Earnhardt's Grandson Arrested On DUI Charge: The grandson of the late Dale Earnhardt was arrested in Charleston on Monday (Aug 12th) on a drunken driving charge. Bobby Dale Earnhardt was charged with aggravated DUI. Charleston police said they heard tires squealing about 11:40 p.m. Monday on Washington Street on the city's West Side. They said they saw a car driving fast and making turns too wide. Charleston police were able to pull the car over and said Earnhardt failed a field sobriety test. He was arrested at the scene. Earnhardt was being held in the South Central Regional Jail awaiting arraignment. Aggravated DUI is a misdemeanor. Aggravated DUI means a person's blood alcohol is above 0.15. Police didn't indicate what Earnhardt's blood alcohol level was. Earnhardt is currently driving in the ARCA Truck Series.(WCHS-TV8)(8-13-2013)
Hendrick drivers to test at New Hampshire: After battling each other for the win this past Sunday, #5-Kasey Kahne and teammate #24-Jeff Gordon will visit New Hampshire Motor Speedway as part of a Hendrick Motorsports test session on Tuesday, Aug. 13 and Wednesday, Aug. 14. The two-day test session is in preparation for the return of NASCAR's playoffs to the Magic Mile for the SYLVANIA 300 on Sept. 22. Five-time champion #48-Jimmie Johnson and the decade-long reigning "Most Popular Driver" in NASCAR, #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr., will join their Hendrick teammates at the test. The grandstands will be open free of charge to the public from 9:00am - 5:00pm both days. The test session will come a little more than a month before NASCAR returns to New Hampshire Motor Speedway for the SYLVANIA 300, the second stop in the 10-race Chase for the Sprint Cup championship.(NHMS)(8-7-2013)
Teams compromising on test sessions: If anything fosters cooperation between race teams in a single organization, it's the testing policy NASCAR instituted this season. With four tests available at tracks that host NASCAR events, drivers and crew chiefs must agree on which four tracks are optimum for testing, and that involves no small degree of give and take. With two drivers solidly in the Chase field--#48-Jimmie Johnson and #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr.--and two on the bubble--#5-Kasey Kahne and #24-Jeff Gordon--Hendrick Motorsports has opted to use one of its tests at a track the Sprint Cup will visit before the Chase (Richmond) and three that are Chase tracks (New Hampshire, Texas and Homestead). According to Gordon, the choice of tracks was a collaborative decision. "We discuss it in our Tuesday meetings, and I think all the crew chiefs get together in Monday meetings, and they come up with the race tracks they would like to go to," Gordon said. "They talk to their drivers and get that kind of information, and then on Tuesday, we come up with the best scenario that works for all of us. For me, I think we have a good game plan that works for all of us. Again, I said earlier that it's a compromise with the organization. When you have four teams, not everybody is going to be perfectly suited. But in this case, I think it suits our needs to get ourselves in the Chase, and if we get in the Chase, then it suits our teammates to be very competitive in the Chase."(NASCAR Wire Service)(8-4-2013)
Duchardt named General Manager of Hendrick Motorsports: Doug Duchardt, who joined Hendrick Motorsports as an executive in 2005, has been elevated to the newly created position of executive vice president and general manager, effective immediately. He will report to team owner Rick Hendrick and company president Marshall Carlson. In his expanded role, Duchardt, 49, will direct all racing operations for Hendrick Motorsports, which fields four cars in the elite NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. He also will manage technical relationships -- encompassing engine leases and chassis purchases -- while serving as primary liaison between Hendrick Motorsports and NASCAR's competition group. Duchardt's responsibilities now include oversight of all competition-related personnel and departments, including teams; engines; race car construction (chassis and bodies); research and development; human performance (pit crews); and engineering. Longtime Hendrick Motorsports executive Ken Howes will continue to serve as vice president of competition, a role he assumed in January 2005. He will report to Duchardt.(Hendrick Motorsports)(7-30-2013)
Sad News - Randy Earnhardt: Randy Earnhardt, one of four siblings of seven-time Cup champion Dale Earnhardt Sr., has died. He was 60. His nephew, Dale Earnhardt Jr., said in September that Randy had recently been diagnosed with cancer.(Sporting News), will post service info when available.(7-28-2013)
Latest on Earnhardt Jr.'s new sponsor: #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr. spoke with the media at Indianapolis and one of the questions was about his new sponsor that has not been announced:
Q) FANS AND PEOPLE IN THE INDUSTRY SEEM VERY CONCERNED THAT YOU HAVEN'T ANNOUNCED ANY SORT OF SPONSORSHIP FOR THE RACES THAT ARE STILL OPEN. ARE YOU CONCERNED AT ALL?
Earnhardt Jr.: "Yeah, I think that we have had a lot of good conversations with a few potential partners about what we can do in 2014 and beyond. Anybody who has got any sense about how the corporate world works knows that it's too late into the season, too late in the year to expect to put together a package for the rest of the season that is going to turn into a multi-year deal. It's just all the dollars and cents are accounted for at this point in the year. That doesn't mean we can't put some things together and do some creative stuff with some people and some partners that we already have or whatever. I don't think it should be a cause for concern. We are in really good shape regardless with our partner National Guard and the races that Diet Mountain Dew has on the schedule. We are in pretty good shape there. It is important to try to fill out what we have this season and we will. I don't have any doubt at all that we will get that done. I think we almost have to look forward beyond that to try to find out who is going to be the partner that we can put a long term deal together that matches up with what we want to do in the future."(Team Chevy)(7-27-2013)
Dale Jr on TV Thursday morning: #88-Dale Earnhardt, Jr. is scheduled to appear Thursday (July 25th) morning on NBC's Today Show where he'll discuss this weekend's race at Indy.(HMS Facebook)(7-25-2013)
Earnhardt Jr. talks about the #3 possibly returning to Sprint Cup in 2014: #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr.met with media at Daytona and discussed the #3 car, the Team Chevy transcript in part:
Q) ALL THINGS SEEM TO INDICATE THAT THE NO. 3 CAR WILL RETURN IN CUP NEXT YEAR. OBVIOUSLY WE HAVE SEEN IT RUN IN OTHER SERIES. WHAT WILL IT MEAN TO SEE IT IN CUP NEXT YEAR AT THIS TRACK?
Earnhardt Jr.: "I think it will be great. It was an iconic number for my father and it means a lot to a lot of his fans. This sport doesn't really retire numbers and all the numbers have history tied to them for several different reasons. The #3 is no different. I think that for Austin (Dillon) a kid like Austin in this regard any kid that wants to come up through the ranks and he drove the #3 in dirt racing and he drove the #3 in his Truck series and Nationwide series. He has earned the right to run that number as long as he wants. It could have been anybody, but it's Austin. It could have been any kid coming up through the ranks that had ran that number and that's his number. Maybe he's not even an Earnhardt fan maybe that is just his number. He wants to run it I think it's not really fair to deny somebody that opportunity. I'm okay with it. I know that might not be the way a lot of people feel or some people feel, but I'm sure it's the minority that feels that way. I think that a lot of people will be telling Austin positive things about it."(Team Chevy)(7-5-2013)
Special scheme for Earnhardt Jr. at Kentucky: The National Guard Youth Foundation will adorn the hood of Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s blue-and-white #88 Chevrolet SS this weekend in Kentucky. The National Guard Youth Foundation assists adolescents, who drop out of school, with the opportunity to improve their life skills, education and employability, creating the next generation of skilled workforce in America. The Foundation also works to raise awareness of the growing dropout crisis in the nation and its impact on our economy and national security.(Hendrick Motorsports), see an image of the scheme on the #88 Team Schemes page.(6-27-2013)
New NASCAR related clothes: Burn Rubber Productions and JRM Licensing announced the exclusive launch of the Dale Earnhardt Jr. Original Burn Rubber Tee Shirt. Printed using Burn Rubber's Patent Pending process, the lineup includes shirts in several "paint scheme" designs - each screen printed with authentic Dale Jr. race used tire rubber. The first of its kind, the Original Tee takes being a race fan to a whole new level.(Burn Rubber Productions)
AND Actress Alyssa Milano, who started her own clothing line about six years ago: "I'm doing NASCAR. ... We're launching NASCAR in a couple of weeks, which I'm really excited about," she told talk show host Jimmy Fallon last week. NASCAR will begin selling her products next week on its website and it also will be available at the tracks on race weekends. The launch will feature all female tops and the product line will include 10 drivers-Kyle Busch, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Carl Edwards, Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson, Kasey Kahne, Matt Kenseth, Brad Keselowski, Danica Patrick and Tony Stewart.(Sporting News)(6-27-2013)
Earnhardt's engine problems not related: While Toyota has taken a public relations hit over the last month from multiple engine problems, #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished 39th at Charlotte and 37th last weekend at Michigan after engine failures knocked NASCAR's Most Popular Driver out of contention in both races. Team owner Rick Hendrick said both failures were "random" issues and "unrelated." The engine at Michigan was valve train-related while the issue with the Charlotte engine was a piston problem. "It started with a valve spring - just one of those valve spring problems," Hendrick said of Junior's engine which expired after he led 34 laps at Michigan. "It's the only one we had, but it's kind of the Achilles' heel in most of your engine problems. You break a valve spring and then you drop the valve. There's nothing you do about it. You try to get the best parts and pieces, the best batch numbers but that track is so hard on equipment because you're on the throttle so much and have little time for the engine to breathe.(Fox Sports)(6-23-2013)
New sponsor for Earnhardt Jr? UPDATE: #88 Team owner Rick Hendrick on Monday said Hendrick Motorsports was "very close" to a new multi-year sponsorship deal for Dale Earnhardt's #88 ride in the Sprint Cup Series. "I've not been worried about it because we could sell it if we wanted to piecemeal it. We've been looking for the future," Hendrick told the Charlotte Observer. "We don't want to get into (sponsor relationships) where you see somebody one time and you don't seem them anymore after that. I am very confident that in the next couple of weeks we should have not only this year (covered) but we should have a lot done for next year, too." The majority of the #88's season is currently sponsored by the National Guard, Diet Mountain Dew and AMP Energy.(Charlotte Observer)(6-10-2013)
UPDATE: The sponsor Hendrick Motorsports is close to signing to a multiyear deal for Dale Earnhardt Jr. will be new to NASCAR. HMS owner Rick Hendrick said the deal likely won't be completed in time for the sponsor to be on the hood for the July 6 race at Daytona International Speedway -- the first race in which the #88 was unsponsored. Hendrick said National Guard likely would be on the car at DIS. "We're going to have to switch some stuff around,'' Hendrick said before Sunday's Sprint Cup race at Michigan International Speedway. NASCAR's most popular driver entered the season with 13 unsponsored races. Hendrick insisted in February there was plenty of interest and he was looking for a long-term fit for the #88 and not a quick fix for this season. "This will be a pretty neat deal when we get to announce it, but I think we're in good shape,'' said Hendrick, not naming the sponsor other than to say it is new to the sport. "There hasn't been a lot of new sponsors in the sport just because of the economy and the way people go to market, a combination of a lot of things. [But] there's always been a lot of interest in him.''(ESPN)(6-17-2013)
Earnhardt Jr. discusses engine failure at MIS: #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr was sidelined with engine failure on lap 132 at Michigan, from Team Chevy Driver Race Quotes transcript:
Q) HOW DISAPPOINTING IS IT TO BE RUNNING UP FRONT WHEN AN ENGINE LET'S GO?
Earnhardt Jr. "Yeah, that is worse than if it happens when you're running in the back. I'm real proud of the car. We were really struggling in practice and I'm just real proud of (crew chief) Steve (Letarte) and the whole team. They made a lot of great changes. And that car was just flying at the end there. I don't know if we had as good a car as Jimmie (Johnson), but we had certainly made some gains on it, even in the last stop. So, I'm just real proud of my team. I hate to run into trouble. They'll figure it out and we'll get it sorted and we'll be able to come back here and expect to run strong again. I just hate it. Hendrick Motorsports, they work harder than anyone in the business. They're the best company in the business and we ought to be out there running up front still, but we'll get it eventually."
Q) WAS THERE ANY WARNING WHEN THE ENGINE LET GO?
Earnhardt Jr. "No there was no warning at all even after I think we lost a cylinder. The gauges all looked really good. Flipped all the switches I could flip and nothing was really making a difference. We just had something come apart in the motor. Really happy though with the engine. Happy with the way the car performed. Weren't really happy with the National Guard Chevrolet yesterday. Made a lot of changes last night. Steve Letarte (crew chief) and the whole crew made some great changes last night. We had such an awesome car. Look forward to coming back here and try to get a win."
Q) YOU TALKED QUITE AWHILE WITH YOUR CREW CHIEF ONCE YOU CLIMBED OUT OF THE CAR. WHAT WERE YOU DISCUSSING?
Earnhardt Jr. "I was just telling him how proud I was of him and the team because we were really frustrated yesterday after practice. Really frustrated with how the car was driving and where our speed was. Just telling them guys to hold their head up they did a great job overnight getting the car competitive. We had a first or second-place car right there." (Team Chevy)(6-17-2013)
Keselowski says rivals stole Ford employees, information: #2-Brad Keselowski met with Ford Motor Co. employees in Dearborn on Thursday and signed autographs and answered questions. The defending NASCAR Sprint Cup champion also found time to chat with reporters and take a sharp jab at Chevrolet-backed Hendrick Motorsports and Joe Gibbs Racing, which runs Toyotas. Keselowski criticized Hendrick and Gibbs for "stealing away" employees and information from Ford Cup teams, including his own Penske Racing outfit and Roush Fenway Racing. Keselowski didn't mince words about Hendrick and Gibbs' recruitment techniques when he was asked by the media about the recent efforts of Ford teams like Penske and Roush coming together and sharing information. "There are little things you can do," Keselowski said of Ford-backed teams opening up lines of communication in an effort to improve performances on the track. "What keeps it from going too far is the fact that Hendrick and Gibbs have this nasty little habit of going to other teams and outbidding other people and taking those employees and stealing our information, and, when that happens, that puts walls up between the camps because you are giving up more than one piece of information - you are giving up two companies' information and trying to protect yourself against that, it forces you to put up walls.It doesn't necessarily lend itself to working together. But still, we are going to put in a valiant effort where we can and where it makes sense to put Ford in a position to have the best results possible."Keselowski cited two incidents where he claimed Hendrick and Gibbs - who between them run the likes of series points leader and five-time Cup champ Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon, Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin and Dale Earnhardt Jr. - lured away Ford team employees with big offers."Gibbs stole the Roush aero director and took all the information," said Keselowski. "And Hendricks took three employees from our Chase-winning team last year."(USA Today)(6-14-2013)
GIBBS STATEMENT: Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) released the following statement from Owner Joe Gibbs in response to the recent comments made by driver Brad Keselowski: "We were surprised to read the recent comments and accusations made by Brad Keselowski. Clearly those comments are misguided and irresponsible. Brad's candor is well documented, but he would do well to only speak to subjects on which he is properly informed. Obviously NASCAR is a very competitive environment and we take our hiring processes seriously at JGR. The individual he referenced in his comments was working outside of the sport of NASCAR at the time we hired him. We have a great deal of respect for Roger Penske and his organization and I feel like I have always had a good personal relationship with Roger. We look forward to competing with Brad on the racetrack, but hope that he will use better judgment in the future before making such misinformed claims and accusations."(JGR)
HENDRICK STATEMENT: HMS owner Rick Hendrick also took offense to what Keselowski said. "The comments Brad reportedly made were misinformed,'' Hendrick said. "The truth is that we hired one tire changer, who was a backup for Penske and whose contract was up. We also brought over one mechanic from their Nationwide program and, when the Penske engine shop was closing, added a few of those people. What Brad left out was that his organization also hired one of our tire changers. All of this was above board and is part of doing business in a competitive environment. I take no issue with any of it, and I expect Roger [Penske] would say the same. Brad misrepresents the facts and spends a lot of time making insinuations and accusations about other teams when he should be focused on his own program and competing at a high level. I hope he figures that out and begins representing himself and the sport with more class."(ESPN)(6-15-2013)
McCollum amendment to ban military sponsorship fails: An amendment to cut off government spending on sponsorships of NASCAR and pro wrestling events sponsored by Rep. Betty McCollum, DFL-Minn., fell short in the U.S. House on Friday. McCollum, who sits on the powerful appropriations committee, has been trying to highlight Pentagon spending she considers wasteful. Her biggest target: money the National Guard spends on pro sports sponsorships which the Guard says helps with recruiting. "The fact that $53 million in taxpayers' funds is going to sponsor some of the most violent and sexist entertainment on television and NASCAR racing teams that results in zero recruits is a waste of money," McCollum said. The amendment was defeated by a wide margin. Rep. Richard Hudson, R-N.C., represents a district with a big NASCAR track. "We would be stealing from our nation's military and hard-working taxpayers if this amendment were to pass," Hudson said.(MPR News)(6-14-2013)
Special "Man of Steel" paint scheme for #88 at MIS: Dale Earnhardt Jr. will drive the #88 National Guard "Man of Steel" Chevy on June 16 at Michigan International Speedway. Superman's values align with National Guard values. Both are citizens who put on their uniforms when their communities need them. More info at soldierofsteel.com.(HMS), see images on the #88 Team Schemes page.(6-10-2013)
Study Confirms Value of Sports Sponsorships to National Guard Recruiting: A respected independent research firm has confirmed the value that professional sports sponsorships provide the National Guard in recruiting and retaining high-quality soldiers. Alan Newman Research of Richmond, Va., found that 90% of Army National Guard soldiers who enlisted or re-enlisted since 2007 were exposed to the Guard through recruiting or retention materials featuring NASCAR cars and/or drivers. Of those who enlisted or re-enlisted during that time period, 85 percent agree that professional sports are beneficial to attracting and retaining good soldiers. The survey also found that racing fans are an especially receptive group for the Army National Guard. NASCAR enthusiasts aged 18 to 34 - the Guard's target recruiting audience - are twice as likely to consider a military career than nonfans. The Army National Guard turned to professional sports sponsorships in 2007 when traditional, more expensive recruiting efforts were failing to attract enough quality applicants. The force has since seen a surge in recruiting with some units having to turn away potential enlistees. See full (pdf) report at Enlisted Association of the National Guard of the United States site.(5-28-2013)
HMS cars to carry special decal: All four Hendrick Motorsports cars: #5-Kahne, #24-Gordon, #48-Johnson & #88-Earnhardt Jr., will carry the above special decal at Kansas Speedway honoring those effected by the Boston Maraton Bombings this past Monday.(HMS Facebook)(4-21-2013)
Brother of HMS Machinist killed in Cambridge: Hendrick Motorsports Statement: The thoughts and prayers of everyone at Hendrick Motorsports are with Andrew Collier and his family. Andrew, a machinist in the Hendrick Motorsports engine department, tragically lost his brother, Officer Sean Collier, last night in Cambridge, Mass. We ask that the family's privacy be considered during this difficult time. Andrew, 25, joined Hendrick Motorsports in September 2008.(HMS)(4-19-2013)
Hendrick makes another big purchase at Barrett-Jackson: Rick Hendrick has done it again. The famed NASCAR team owner, who bought the rights to the very first 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray coupe at Barrett-Jackson Scottsdale in January, has doubled down by winning the Palm Beach bidding for the first 2014 Stingray convertible to be produced. The price tag: $1 million. Although, every penny of the charity sale goes to benefit the Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute . Hendrick, a familiar face as a regular buyer and seller at Barrett-Jackson auctions, paid $1.1 million for the coupe in Scottsdale. So it was widely speculated that he would vie for the convertible. Now, he has a pair of No. 1 2014 Corvette bookends costing a total of $2.1 million. Barrett-Jackson charges no auction fees for charity sales. "I paid a little more than I wanted for that car," Hendrick said in a classic understatement. "But I owe so much to Corvette for getting me into the car business in the first place." Part of the deal from General Motors for the first Corvette convertible is a ceremony that will take place at the factory when Hendrick will start up the freshly built Stingray for the first time at the end of the assembly line.(SPEED)(4-7-2013)
600th NASCAR start for Earnhardt, Jr: This weekend's race will mark Earnhardt's 475th start in a sanctioned Sprint Cup points-paying event and his 600th overall in NASCAR competition. He also has tallied 125 starts in the NASCAR Nationwide Series. In those 599 starts, Earnhardt has 42 wins, 167 top-five finishes, 267 top-10s, 21 pole positions and 10,540 laps led. With 19 Cup wins, Earnhardt is tied for 38th on the all-time Sprint Cup winner's list and ranks 11th among active, full-time drivers. In 474 Cup starts, Earnhardt also has 108 top-five finishes, 187 top-10s and 11 pole positions.(Hendrick Motorsports)(4-4-2013)
Dale Jr recommends small change to Auto Club Speedway: from a Team Chevy post race press conferences transcript, #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr. was asked:
Q. A lot has been said this weekend that the track hasn't been resurfaced or redone in a while. Some people are calling it character like Fenway Park or Wrigley Field. What's your take?
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.: I think it's great. Do everybody a favor, whoever owns this place, and pave the back straightaway. If you pave the back straightaway, there's some real bad bumps, we all watched it on TV in the Nationwide race and I'm sure you saw it today. It's just going down the back straightaway. It probably doesn't cost much to pave the two lanes that we race in, and that would really cure any complaints that I got. I think the corners are perfect. I wouldn't pave anything or change anything about the turns. This place has got -- this is the age of asphalt that I think tracks strive for. This is what places like Michigan and Phoenix look forward to, you know, when they get a good 10, 15 years on their asphalt. This is really right in the ballpark, right in everybody's wheelhouse. I think everybody that runs in the Cup garage really likes the surface. It's just real bumpy down the back straightaway for some reason, and it doesn't have to be, and I think they can fix that with a couple lanes of asphalt on that outside toward the wall, and like I said, the corners, man, you couldn't ask for a better racetrack."(Team Chevy)(3-25-2013)
Earnhardt Jr., Kahne and Stewart to guest on The Cleveland Show UPDATE: NASCAR stars #88-Dale Earnhart Jr., #5-Kasey Kahne and #14-Tony Stewart will guest-voice on Fox's The Cleveland Show next season. In the episode, Cleveland (voiced Mike Henry) convinces Donna (voiced Sanaa Lathan) to lighten up and have a few drinks when she takes her run for local office way too seriously. "Unfortunately, they party way too hard - and wake up on the infield of a NASCAR track. It's up to guest stars Earnhardt, Jr., Stewart and Kahne to race Donna and Cleveland home," executive producer Rich Appel says.(TV Guide)(4-27-2012)
UPDATE: are scheduled to be voicing their characters' roles on Fox is scheduled to air "The Cleveland Show" on Sunday, March 17th at 7:30 pm/et in which NASCAR drivers #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr., #5-Kasey Kahne and #14-Tony Stewart are featured.(Charlotte Observer)(3-15-2013)
Hendrick Motorsports still most valuable team according to Forbes: Hendrick Motorsports is NASCAR's most valuable team with a value of $357 million, up 2%. Hendrick is worth twice as much as second-ranked Joe Gibbs Racing. Hendrick is the only four car Sprint Cup team left and brings in $125 million in sponsor revenue a year. Lowe's extended its deal last month through 2015 as the primary sponsor of Jimmie Johnson's #48 car. Earnhardt Ganassi (ranked #8 with a value of $72 million) announced it would switch engine suppliers from Earnhardt Childress Racing to Hendrick starting in 2013. This will add to Hendrick's coffers, which are already full as NASCAR's most profitable team with an estimated operating income of $16.6 million in 2012.
Gibbs, worth $168 million, leapfrogs Roush Fenway Racing. Gibbs got a huge boost in 2013 with the addition of 2003 Sprint Cup champ Matt Kenseth, who replaced Joey Logano in the #20 car. Gibbs has been one of the most consistent teams when it comes to selling sponsorships with all paint schemes sold ahead of the season start in 2012 and 2013. JGR signed a 30-race renewal with FedEx last year on the #11 car.
The value of Roush is down 10% to $166 million. The team has struggled to sell sponsorships in recent years and lost Kenseth to Gibbs. Richard Childress Racing ranks No. 4 with a value of $139 million, down 6%. Childress is at a crossroad as it prepares to lose its top driver, Kevin Harvick, who signed a deal to race for Stewart-Haas Racing starting in 2014. Still to be determined is if long-time sponsor, Budweiser, will follow Harvick out the door.
The value of Stewart-Haas is up 14% to $123 million and ranks fifth. Tony Stewart and Gene Haas are building one of the top teams in NASCAR.
NASCAR's top nine teams are worth $143 million on average, up 1% over last year. Each of these teams are profitable by our count (some just barely) with team's cutting budgets in cases where sponsor shortfalls arise. Earnings are down 10% overall compared to 2011.(see more details and the complete list at Forbes)(3-14-2013)
Forbes names highest paid drivers: #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr. is the highest-paid driver in the sport for the fifth straight year with total earnings of $25.9 million in 2012 by our [Forbes] count. We estimate that Earnhardt earned $12.9 million in combined salary and his share of prize money, which is split with Hendrick Motorsports. Earnhardt signed a contract extension with Hendrick in 2011 that will keep him part of NASCAR's most valuable team through at least 2017. But what really separates Earnhardt from the rest of NASCAR's top drivers is his off-the-track earnings, which were $13 million last year. While Earnhardt's licensing income is down like all drivers (some as much as 80%), he still generated the most licensing dollars in the sport last year.
Another Hendrick driver, #48-Jimmie Johnson, ranks #2 with earnings of $23 million. In fact, all four Hendrick drivers are among the 10 highest paid with Jeff Gordon #4 ($18 million) and Kasey Kahne at #9 ($12 million). Johnson barely missed his sixth Sprint Cup title in 2012, but it was still a banner year on the track, as he earned a NASCAR-high $8.1 million in race winnings for the #48 car. His "Special Awards" and Sprint Cup bonuses added another $2.3 million.
#10-Danica Patrick, ranks #7 with earnings of $12.9 million in 2012. Her merchandise was NASCAR's ninth best seller in 2012, according to Fanatics.com, one of the largest online retailers of officially licensed sports merchandise. But that ranking will jump this year, as she only raced in 10 Sprint Cup races last year and will be running a full-time Sprint Cup schedule in 2013 for the first time.(see more details and the complete list at Forbes)(3-14-2013)
Earnhardt Jr., Kahne and Stewart to guest on The Cleveland Show UPDATE: NASCAR stars #88-Dale Earnhart Jr., #5-Kasey Kahne and #14-Tony Stewart will guest-voice on Fox's The Cleveland Show next season. In the episode, Cleveland (voiced Mike Henry) convinces Donna (voiced Sanaa Lathan) to lighten up and have a few drinks when she takes her run for local office way too seriously. "Unfortunately, they party way too hard - and wake up on the infield of a NASCAR track. It's up to guest stars Earnhardt, Jr., Stewart and Kahne to race Donna and Cleveland home," executive producer Rich Appel says.(TV Guide)(4-27-2012)
UPDATE: are scheduled to be voicing their characters' roles on Fox is scheduled to air "The Cleveland Show" on Sunday, March 17th at 7:30 pm/et in which NASCAR drivers #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr., #5-Kasey Kahne and #14-Tony Stewart are featured.(Charlotte Observer)(3-15-2013)
New look for the #88 at Las Vegas: #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr, will carry an orange, white and black AMP Energy Chevy at Las Vegas this weekend. AMP and Diet Mountain Dew are scheduled to be the primary sponsor for five races on the #88 in 2013. See an image of the scheme on my #88 Team Schemes page.
UPDATE Dale Earnhardt Jr. will drive the #88 AMP Energy Active Orange Chevrolet SS in the Kobalt Tools 400 Sprint Cup Series race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The new sleek paint scheme features an electric vibe. Shying away from the normal AMP Energy green car the AMP Energy Active Orange gives the Generation 6 Chevy SS a bold design with orange-and-black scheme. The back of the car features the "orange is back" slogan while the hood features the AMP Energy logo.(Lionel NASCAR Collectables)(3-4-2013)
Hendrick willing to help delvelop better fence tech: Winning Daytona 500 team owner Rick Hendrick wants to find out what allowed the front clip of Kyle Larson's car to be sheared off in Saturday's Nationwide Series race. He is willing to work with NASCAR to develop technology that will help prevent another such incident that left 28 fans injured when debris flew into the stands. Larson's car went airborne into the catch fence on a horrific last-lap crash. The engine, built by Hendrick Motorsports, was separated from the car and landed on the concrete in front of the Campbell grandstands between sections H and I. One of the tires with the hub attached sailed over the fence and hit two fans, sending both to nearby Halifax Heath with critical injuries, one life-threatening. Both, according to a hospital representative on Monday, are stable and no longer critical. "I think the fence did its job,'' Hendrick said during Monday's Daytona 500 champion's breakfast for driver Jimmie Johnson and the No. 48 team. "I've never seen the clip come off before. They say they haven't found parts of the transmission. "What happened to the clip, there might be something else we can do. I've never seen that happen.''(ESPN)(2-25-2013)
Earnhardt Jr. loses engine in first practice on Wednesday: #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr. comments following engine failure during practice for the Budweiser Duel at Daytona Qualifying Races:
Q) WHAT HAPPENED?
Earnhardt Jr: "We broke a motor, it's as simple as that. They'll figure out what happen. I'm sure there is some logical explanation as to what happened, but, we'll just put a new one in and start at the back of the Qualifier tomorrow, and race up through there."
Q) WILL YOU GO TO BED A LITTLE WORRIED TONIGHT?
Earnhardt Jr: "No, it's just part of racing."
Q) IS THIS ANY SORT OF A SETBACK?
Earnhardt Jr: "Not really. Everything is good. We were just making some single car runs by ourselves. Everything seemed like it was working. Just trying to find a little more speed, and we found a few things that seemed to help the car. We'll try to get out in this next practice, and see what else we can learn, but everything should be fine."
Q) DID YOU HAVE ANY WARNING THAT IT WAS GOING?
Earnhardt Jr: "No."
Dirty Mo Radio Set to Launch Feb. 18: Dale Earnhardt Jr. and JR Motorsports announced today the birth of Dirty Mo Radio, an online home for radio-style podcasts centrally themed around NASCAR's 10-time most popular driver. Dirty Mo Radio will be based at Earnhardt Jr.'s official site, www.DaleJr.com, but its podcasts will also be available free-of-charge on common podcasting outlets such as iTunes. More info at dalejr.com.(2-14-2013)
2013 silly season notes for #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr / Hendrick Motorsports:: Earnhardt Jr. is signed thru 2017. The National Guard signed up for another season, being the primary sponsor for 20 races in 2013. Pepsi/Diet Mountain Dew dropped their sponsorship down to five races with Earnhardt Jr and the #88 (Diet Mountain Dew and Amp), two races with Jeff Gordon (Pepsi) and one with Kasey Kahne (brand TBA). This leaves the #88 Chevy without a primary sponsor for 13 races. Team owner Rick Hendrick doesn't seem concerned and has said there has been plenty of interest from sponsors and that he is more concerned with finding a match that will work beyond 2013. In 2012 Diet Mountain Dew was contracted for 16 races in 2012 with Pepsi having the sponsorship rights for 20 races, AMP was the sponsor the other four races. See images of the National Guard, Diet Mountain Dew schemes on my #88 Team Schemes page. See more about other teams on my 2013 Team / Driver Silly Season Chart.(2-8-2013)
Hendrick not interested in the Batmobile: Rick Hendrick bought several vehicles and spent well over seven figures at last month's Barrett-Jackson Collectible Car Auction in Scottsdale, Arizona. Some cars are for his business or personal collection while over a million dollars of cars purchased benefited charities. At the auction the original Batmobile from 1966 sold for 4.2-million dollars; however the Chevy team owner had no interest in making a bid. "Hell no, no sir", said Hendrick. "What would I want with the Batmobile? And I'm a Batman fan but I wouldn't know what to do with that car." Hendrick joked, "I wouldn't have hauled that thing home if they gave it to me!" Hendrick said the Batmobile is not his style, but another reason might be that it was also originally a concept car built by Ford.(PRN's Garage Pass)(2-5-2013)
PETA asks for space on Earnhardt, Jr.'s #88: It's been wildly reported that Dale Earnhardt Jr. is still looking for some sponsors. In fact, Hendrick Motorsports, Earnhardt's team, has yet to find sponsorship for 13 Sprint Cup races (although with an owner that just spent a million on a Corvette, it's unlikely Earnhardt Jr. is going to miss any races). Anyway, apparently the folks over at People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals heard about the open space on Earnhardt Jr.'s car. And they want some of it...for free. The animal rights organization wrote the driver a letter on Thursday, asking him to consider putting the campaign's logo on his #88 car. "I'm writing today after reading that sponsorship this season is at a low because I hope that you'll consider using the available space on your beautiful car as an opportunity to spread a lifesaving spay-and-neuter message that would spare countless dogs and cats in your home state tremendous suffering," wrote Michelle Cho, PETA's associate director. Hendrick Motorsports had no official comment on the PETA request.(AutoWeek)(1-31-2013)
#88 unsponsored for 13 races: NASCAR's most popular driver will enter the 2013 season with 13 unsponsored races. But team owner Rick Hendrick doesn't seem concerned that Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s #88 has open inventory. Hendrick said there has been plenty of interest from sponsors and that he is more concerned with finding a match that will work beyond 2013. "We've got a lot of good opportunities," Hendrick said during Wednesday's stop of the Sprint Media Tour. "The way we're positioned, the car is covered until the end of the summer. I don't have a deadline [for a deal]. I'm not looking at a timeline. I'm looking at the right deal." Hendrick said he was close on two or three deals, but "we haven't put any line in the sand." It was announced last year that National Guard would be on Earnhardt's car for 20 races in 2013. Diet Mountain Dew was contracted for 16 races in 2012 with PepsiCo having the sponsorship rights for 20 races..(ESPN)(1-23-2013)
Hendrick Motorsports Notes from the NASCAR Sprint Media Tour:
All Hendrick cars are fully-funded except Dale Jr.'s #88. But Rick Hendrick says there's interest and he has no sponsorship worries, the #88 is 13 races short.
. Dale Earnhardt Jr. on Daytona testing wreck. "I thought long and hard, and that's probably the most embarrassed I've ever been."
Chase Elliott will run in five ARCA and nine Series races in 2013, his Truck number will be #94, Hendrick Motorsports will field the entries. Elliott's scheduled Truck races: Martinsville (both). Iowa (both), Rockingham, Dover, Bristol. Mosport/Canada and Phoenix.
#24-Jeff Gordon on Gen-6 car :"I'm a big fan, I love it. I like the body style & I think the teams and crew chiefs feel the same thing."
#5-Kasey Kahne says he's an "underdog" compared to those who have Cup titles, but says this is his best shot yet in 2nd season, Kahne is sporting a new hair style. (from many Twitter reports/feeds)(1-23-2013)
The King & Dale Jr. team up: Dale Earnhardt Jr., the most popular driver in NASCAR racing today, is joining Goody's longtime spokesman, Richard "The King" Petty, in a new multi-media campaign that will introduce consumers to the fast-dissolving headache remedy. Beginning in early 2013, the driving duo's radio, television and digital campaign will tell fans how to be unstoppable with Goody's. Goody's Powder will be the title sponsor for the Goody's Fast Relief 500, the October 27 Sprint Cup Series race at Martinsville. Goody's also will continue its longstanding tradition of sampling the product at racetracks and, to the delight of fans, bring Earnhardt and Petty together for personal appearances. "This partnership is unprecedented," said Joseph Juliano, Brand Director, Goody's. "It is the first time that these two NASCAR legends have worked together. Each of them has a huge fan base, and they are both synonymous with the sport of auto racing. Goody's is all about speed, and nobody personifies the idea of speed better than Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt Jr."
"I am really looking forward to working with Dale Jr. on the new campaign for Goody's, which will introduce the product to a whole new generation," Petty said. "He is a great driver and a smart businessman, and nobody is more popular with NASCAR fans."
"Richard Petty is a role model for me and every other driver in NASCAR," Earnhardt said. "I am honored to be working with him and thankful Goody's brought us together. I signed on with Goody's in part because of their long-term commitment to NASCAR. They helped start the trend of non-car companies coming into the sport. In my mind, they are synonymous with NASCAR racing. I am also a big fan of their product because it works so fast."(JR Motorsports)(1-22-2013)
Hendrick to appear on CBS Sunday Morning with Charles Osgood Jan 20th: CBS News correspondent Lee Cowan gets a sneak peek at of Chevrolet's totally redesigned 2014 Corvette Stingray and talks with NASCAR team owner and Corvette collector Rick Hendrick about the prized vehicles this weekend on CBS Sunday Morning with Charles Osgood. "The Corvette was just the ultimate car," Hendrick tells Cowan. "I mean, it was - you had the styling, the power, all the girls liked them." Timed to the car's 60th birthday, Chevrolet has redesigned the vehicle for 2014 and brought back the legendary Stingray name. Hendrick, a top NASCAR team owner, has one of the largest private Corvette collections in the world, with nearly 150 in his stable. He said he met his wife, Linda, while driving a Stingray. Hendrick, a Chevy dealer, can't wait to get his hands on one of the new Corvettes, Cowan reports. "I think this car will probably be one of the most sought-after cars that we've seen in a long time," Hendrick tells Cowan. Cowan's report on the new Corvette is scheduled to be broadcast Sunday, Jan. 20, 2013 on CBS Sunday morning at 9:00am/et on the CBS Television Network.(CBS)(1-19-2013)
Dale Earnhardt Jr. potato chips: KLN Family Brands, the Minnesota company that makes Barrel O'Fun snacks, announced a new partnership with NASCAR driver #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr. that will begin with the launch of four flavors of potato chips. KLN and Earnhardt formed Dale Jr. Foods, which will launch four flavors: Crispy Original, Carolina Barbecue, Creole & Green Onion, and Zesty Jalapeno. The Barrel O'Fun snacks distribution area is predominately in the Midwest, however the Dale Jr. chips will be available nationwide. The bags will be sold in various sizes, including an 8 ounce grocery store version that has a suggested retail price of $3.79. The chips will be available starting in February.(Minneapolis / St. Paul Business Journal)(1-11-2013)
Study names NASCAR's Social Media Leaders: Joe Gibbs Racing, Hendrick Motorsports, and #48-Jimmie Johnson are among NASCAR's strongest and most engaging users of social media, a new social media study of the NASCAR industry finds. The study - conducted by Tuckahoe Strategies, a strategic communications firm - scored drivers, teams and select NASCAR sponsors and partners on a 20-point scale. Joe Gibbs Racing topped the charts with a Social Media Score of 15 points, Hendrick trailed by one point at 14 points and Johnson scored 13 points.
Gibbs' online accounts comprise one of the broadest social media strategies for reaching fans of the sport. The team site, www.joegibbsracing.com, is up to date with timely features, and the homepage points to six social media platforms, including a mobile app for iPhone, Blackberry or Droid. The team maintains active social media accounts on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, Instagram and FourSquare. Hendrick also has an active and diverse menu of social media platforms including a mobile app. Gibbs' social media score bested Hendrick's by a single point because of its slightly more effective home page promotion of its social media platforms.
Johnson is the most comprehensive user of social media among drivers. He reaches his audience on a broad array of platforms including: Facebook, 657,062 page likes; Twitter, 348,402 followers; YouTube, 265 subscribers; and Instagram, with an industry-leading 60,618 followers. Johnson's social media reach (the sum of all social media followers across platforms) is 1,066,347. This veritable "media machine" has a following larger than the circulation of the Los Angeles Times, which is the fourth largest newspaper in the country.
The sport's largest audience holder and content curator across the board is NASCAR. The sanctioning body regained a voice and a direct connection to its fan base this year after repossessing control of its online assets in a January 2012 agreement with Turner Sports Interactive. NASCAR's total social media reach is an astronomical 5,044,070, more than double the daily circulation of the largest U.S. newspaper, The Wall Street Journal. In fact, NASCAR commands the industry's top position in terms of audience on Facebook likes (3,239,504), Twitter followers (841,027) and YouTube subscribers (5,430). The sanctioning body also has 1,420 followers on Pinterest and a staggering 956,689 circles on Google+.(Tuckahoe Strategies)(1-10-2013)
2012 Sponsor Schedule:
Bud Shootout, 2/18, National Guard
Daytona, 2/26, Diet Mountain Dew
Phoenix, 3/4, National Guard
Las Vegas, 3/11, National Guard
Bristol, 3/18, National Guard
Auto Club, 3/25, Diet Mountain Dew
Martinsville, 4/1, AMP Energy
Texas, 4/14, Diet Mountain Dew / Seven Eleven
Kansas, 4/22, Diet Mountain Dew / AMP
Richmond, 4/28, National Guard
Talladega, 5/6, National Guard
Darlington, 5/12, Diet Mountain Dew / AMP
All-Star Race, 5/19, Dale Jr. Foundation
Charlotte, 5/27, National Guard / NASCAR Unites
Dover, 6/3, AMP Energy
Pocono, 6/10, National Guard
Michigan, 6/17, Diet Mountain Dew/Batman
Infineon, 6/24, Diet Mountain Dew
Kentucky, 6/30, Diet Mountain Dew
Daytona, 7/7, National Guard / NASCAR Unites
New Hampshire, 7/14, National Guard
Indianapolis, 7/29, AMP Energy
Pocono, 8/5, Diet Mountain Dew
Watkins Glen. 8/12, National Guard
Michigan, 8/19, National Guard
Bristol, 8/25, Diet Mountain Dew
Atlanta, 9/2, National Guard
Richmond, 9/8, Diet Mountain Dew
Chicago, 9/16, AMP Energy/Seven Eleven
New Hampshire, 9/23, Diet Mountain Dew
Dover, 9/30, National Guard
Talladega, 10/7, Diet Mountain Dew / Paint the 88
Charlotte, 10/13, AMP Energy
Kansas, 10/21, National Guard
Martinsville, 10/28, Diet Mountain Dew
Texas, 11/4, National Guard
Phoenix, 11/11, Diet Mountain Dew
Homestead, 11/18, National Guard - 2013 scheme
The Dale Jr. Foundation Continues Fundraising Success in 2012: The Dale Jr. Foundation (TDJF) announced the successful conclusion to its year-long fundraising efforts, which raised more than $280,000 to benefit non-profit organizations and charities on a national scale. TDJF utilized a trio of major initiatives to raise the funds, including the "Driven to Give" event, the "Win Dale Jr.'s Ride" raffle and ride-along experiences with Earnhardt Jr. "It was another great year," said Earnhardt Jr. "The people who work for TDJF are some of the hardest-working people in my entire company, and I want to thank them first and foremost. I also want to thank anyone who contributed to the raising of funds this year, whether it was through in-kind donations, purchasing raffle tickets, or bidding on auction items. All of it contributed to helping us achieve our goals." More info at thedalejrfoundation.org.(Dale Jr. Foundation)(12-25-2012)
Earnhardt Regrets Hiding Injury: In part, the 2012 Cup season will be remembered for Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s exit from the #88 Chevy because of a concussion. In retrospect, Earnhardt regrets not taking a hiatus from competition sooner than he did. On Aug. 29, during a tire test at Kansas, Earnhardt sustained a concussion in a hard crash. He knew he was hurt but decided to keep the severity of his injury to himself. A subsequent crash at Talladega caused a second concussion and forced Earnhardt from the car for two races. "I think I should have taken the first concussion more seriously," Earnhardt said Thursday, after being honored as the sport's most popular driver for the 10th straight year. "I think I should have been smarter about it the first time, when we crashed at Kansas. I didn't feel good, and I started getting nauseous after that. I knew right then, for damn sure, that I had a really bad concussion. I wish I would have taken that more seriously. I don't know if it would have changed anything. It's a tough decision to make, going into the Chase. I'd dealt with concussions before, and I thought that I'd just drive through it, and it's be over in a couple of weeks...But I wasn't lucky enough to avoid another accident, so I feel foolish in that regard, that I was careless." Missing two races cost Earnhardt any possibility of winning his first championship and dropped him to 12th in the final standings.(NASCAR Wire Service)(12-1-2012)
Dale Earnhardt Jr. Again a Winner with NASCAR Fans: The National Motorsports Press Association (NMPA) announced, on behalf of all NASCAR fans who voted, #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr. has been crowned the 2012 NASCAR NMPA Most Popular Driver. The award, given annually since 1956, is Earnhardt Jr.'s 10th consecutive honor and was presented to him today during the NASCAR NMPA Myers Brothers Luncheon at The Encore at Wynn in Las Vegas, Nev. This now ties him with Bill Elliott as the only other driver to be presented the award 10 consecutive years. Elliott is still the all-time leader with 16 overall. After fans voted from February to September, the top 10 drivers that earned the most votes were reset to zero. Drivers Kyle Busch, Earnhardt Jr., Carl Edwards, Jeff Gordon, Kevin Harvick, Jimmie Johnson, Kasey Kahne, Matt Kenseth, Bobby Labonte and Tony Stewart were all finalists who fans voted for during the final 10 weeks of the NASCAR Sprint Cup season. After more than 934,000 votes were cast this season, Earnhardt Jr. proved once again to be the fans' favorite.
Completing the voting, in order, were Gordon, Kahne, Stewart, Johnson, Harvick, Kyle Busch, Edwards, Kenseth and Labonte. Earnhardt Jr. has now won the award since 2003, and with Elliott and Richard Petty, are the only drivers to receive it at least five consecutive times. "It was an honor to hear that I won this year and am now tied with Bill (Elliott) for 10 in a row," Earnhardt Jr. said. "I've enjoyed this award because it's a testament to my fans. I appreciate their loyalty and dedication. It was great to get back in Victory Lane this year for my team and for my fans. I'm looking forward to a successful 2013, and am proud to accept this award on behalf of all the fans that voted." Once again the NMPA was proud to support one of NASCAR's oldest and most prestigious awards during Champion Week in Las Vegas. "Each year, NASCAR fans show their passion for their favorite driver in the NMPA NASCAR Most Popular Driver voting," said Rea White, president of the NMPA. "This award is not only for the driver, but also for the fans as something they can claim as their own at the end of each season. We're proud we can continue this tradition and once again the fans have spoken, selecting a great representative in Dale Earnhardt Jr."(Breaking Limits)(11-30-2012)
Earnhardt family has new champion: Karsyn Elledge was just 5 months old when the seven-time champion was killed while racing in the 2001 Daytona 500. Recently, Elledge, 12, won her first Mini Outlaw title in Box Stock division at Millbridge Speedway in Salisbury, N.C. - a one-sixth mile dirt track about one hour north of Charlotte. Two days later, Elledge's accomplishment had yet to set in. As she finished her homework outside of her mother Kelley Earnhardt-Miller's office at JR Motorsports, Elledge had mixed emotions about winning the championship but losing the season finale to 17-year-old Ford Martin.(much more at FoxSports)(11-24-2012)
Hendrick seeking first Sprint Cup Series win at Homestead: Hendrick Motorsports has yet to win a Sprint Cup race at Homestead-Miami Speedway despite having five-time Champion Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon and some of the top drivers in the sport since the first Sprint Cup Series visit to HMS in 1999. Adding further to this challenge is that fellow Hendrick teammates Kasey Kahne and Dale Earnhardt, Jr. are also winless at Homestead-Miami Speedway. All told Hendrick Motorsports is 0-51 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Gordon has claimed one Homestead-Miami victory but it was in the NASCAR Nationwide Series in 2000. Four-time NASCAR Champion Jeff Gordon has yet to win on just two tracks...Kentucky and Homestead-Miami Speedway.(HMS)(11-16-2012)
New look for Dale Jr's car at Homestead: For this weekend's race, Dale Earnhardt Jr. will use the canvas of his #88 Chevy to debut the 2013 National Guard paint scheme. Earnhardt helped design the blue-and-white look that will adorn the soon-to-be unveiled 2013 Chevrolet SS. The new Chevrolet model will be revealed on Nov. 29 during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champion's Week in Las Vegas.(HMS), see an image of the car on the #88 Team Schemes page.(11-14-2012)
Rick Hendrick talks business with students: Students filled up Nelson Auditorium Wednesday night when Rick Hendrick, owner of Hendrick Motorsports and chairman of Hendrick Automotive Group, spoke to members of the N.C. State community. Though geared toward students in the University's Poole College of Management, all N.C. State community and business members could attend the event for free as part of the Wells Fargo Executive Series. The series is intended for business leaders at the national and global levels to share with students their approaches to business, as well as the challenges they face in their respective industries, according to PCOM. Hendrick's message was consistent throughout the night - that a successful business entails teamwork, taking care of all people involved in a company, and possessing the willingness to change at any given moment in time. Hendrick said he grew up on a farm unaware of what he wanted to do as an adult, but knowing that it would not be farming. Hendrick said since the age of 8 he raced cars, and learned how to fix farm equipment from his dad.(see full story at CSU Student Media)(11-10-2012)
Earnhardt, Jr. happy to be back in car: #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr. never seriously thought about missing the rest of the Sprint Cup season after being forced to sit out the last two races with symptoms of a concussion. But NASCAR's most popular driver is glad he made the decision to tell doctors about the headaches and other symptoms that parked him, and assured he will be more proactive in sharing those symptoms in the future. Earnhardt hasn't experienced the headaches he had when he first saw neurosurgeon Dr. Jerry Petty on Oct. 12, the day after Petty announced Earnhardt would not be cleared to drive for two weeks. "I felt like I could race at Kansas for sure, probably ran at Charlotte with no problem," Earnhardt said. "I felt kind of foolish sitting at home and feeling OK and not being in the car. If the doctors said it's OK, I wanted to be in the car." Speaking publicly for the first time since Petty parked him, Earnhardt said he can't wait to race. He'll do so with a new Stilo Motorsports Helmet instead of the Impact Racing helmet he's been using, but made it clear he was considering this before his head injuries. "It was really hard to see your car running around without you in it, so that was difficult," Earnhardt said, adding he understands now more than ever that he made the right decision. He hopes other drivers treat concussions more seriously because of his situation.(ESPN)(10-26-2012)
Regan Smith without a ride at Martinsvile: Regan Smith experienced two weeks that most racecar drivers would love to experience, and he will follow that with a weekend few would enjoy. After a two-week stint as the substitute driver for Dale Earnhardt Jr., Smith is without a ride for the Sprint Cup Series race Sunday at Martinsville Speedway. Smith said Tuesday he plans to go to the track but does not have a ride as Earnhardt has been approved to race after having to miss the last two weeks because of a concussion. On Tuesday afternoon, Smith found out that, as expected, Earnhardt was cleared to race this weekend at Martinsville. Phoenix Racing already had decided to keep AJ Allmendinger in the car after a promising two weeks with him as its last-minute replacement. Smith said he held no hard feelings toward Phoenix for not giving him an opportunity in the car this weekend and there is a chance he could race that car later this year. He couldn't commit to the team before Tuesday and the team had to make plans for Martinsville.(Sporting News)(10-24-2012)
Earnhardt, Jr. cleared to race at Martinsville?: UPDATES - Cleared: ESPN's Dr. Jerry Punch interviewed Rick Hendrick before the Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Speedway and Hendrick stated that #88-Earnhardt, Jr. has been medically cleared to race next weekend at Martinsville.(10-21-2012)
UPDATE: "He's been cleared to race at Martinsville, so we're excited to get him back," Hendrick said during an interview on pit road after driver introductions. "He came through with flying colors. Everything is great," Hendrick stated. "He can't wait to get back in the car. He's really anxious -- and we're anxious to get him back. So, next week he's been cleared to race Martinsville. So we're excited, excited to get him back. Dale is a good friend. He means so much to the sport. He means so much to our company. And I care about him. But he's the sparkplug for this sport and our organization too. It just shows you how fragile things are and how you can get hurt in these cars. As much as we do to make them safe, things can happen. The doctors, we've done everything they've said and he's checked out. Everything is 100 percent clear and ready to go, so we're just really happy," Hendrick commented. "I hated for him to miss these two races as good as the season is going. But the good news is he's ok. He's good. He's excited. He feels great - no headaches. He's a racer and he wants to get back in the car."(NASCAR Wire Service)(10-21-2012)
UPDATE 2: Hendrick later clarified his remarks;
MR. HENDRICK: "I want to apologize to all you guys (the media). I gave you a little bad information out on pit road today. I've been out here at the dealerships and I did talk to the doctor (Dr. Jerry Petty, neurosurgeon) with Dale (Earnhardt Jr.) and he said everything looked good and everything was fine. However, I didn't know until (HMS PR director) Jesse (Essex) informed me that I had gotten ahead of myself and that there is a closed test Monday that Dr. Petty will attend. Dale will be back in the car (for that test) and he'll make the decision with a final test on Tuesday. So, we don't foresee any problems but I didn't read my emails this morning and I kind of got ahead of myself. I talked to the doctor myself and everything went good in Pittsburg (PA, tested Tuesday Oct. 16th)) and Dr. Petty felt real good about it. And I did know that they were going to shake down a car, but I didn't know that the doctor was going, and that he would actually be evaluating him Tuesday (two separate tests/evaluations). I apologize for that. The test (next) Tuesday is in his (Dr. Petty's) office. The test Monday is in the (race) car."
ARE YOU STILL FEELING VERY POSITIVE THAT HE'LL BE BACK IN THE CAR AT MARTINSVILLE?
"I will be shocked if he's not in the car. Everything looks good. His attitude and the way he feels; he's had no headaches since Thursday or Friday of Charlotte; and the tests have gone real well. I think Dr. Petty is just being super-cautious and I applaud him for that. I think the sequence is that he (Dr. Petty) will be with him at the test Monday; they will evaluate him in his office Tuesday, and then he will notify NASCAR if he's okay. Maybe I just heard what I wanted to hear when I talked to (Dr.) Petty because everything in Pittsburg was good."(Chevy PR)(10-21-2012)
UPDATE 3: Steve Letarte, Earnhardt, Jr's crew chief tweeted Monday evening, "Back in Concord after a great day of testing with #DaleJr. Looked great and ran some awesome laps."(10-23-2012)
UPDATE 4 - Cleared: Dale Earnhardt Jr. will return to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series this weekend at Martinsville, Va., after being medically cleared for competition. Since being diagnosed with a concussion following the Oct. 7 race at Talladega, Ala., Earnhardt has participated in a rehabilitation program directed by Charlotte neurosurgeon Dr. Jerry Petty. Throughout the process, Petty consulted with Dr. Micky Collins, director of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Sports Medicine Concussion Program. "Dale Jr. has done everything asked of him," Petty said. "He hasn't had a headache since Oct. 12, and we have not been able to provoke any symptoms since that time. I have informed NASCAR and Hendrick Motorsports that he is medically cleared for all NASCAR-related activity." Earnhardt was evaluated by Collins on Oct. 16 in Pittsburgh. On Monday, Earnhardt ran 123 laps in a Sprint Cup car during a test session monitored by Petty at the half-mile Gresham Motorsports Park in Jefferson, Ga. Petty cleared the driver Tuesday morning following a final neuropsychological evaluation in Charlotte. (Hendrick Motorsports)(10-23-2012)
Regan Smith expected in the #51 if Earnhardt, Jr. cleared to race: UPDATE: Don't expect Phoenix Racing to jump the gun in announcing its driver lineup for this weekend. However, should Earnhardt Jr. be cleared, Regan Smith will drive the # 51 Chevy. Smith posted his fourth top-10 finish of the season on Sunday subbing in the #88 Hendrick Motorsports car. General manager Steve Barkdoll said Monday morning that the commitment had been made to Smith before AJ Allmendinger filled in. Still Barkdoll, who spotted for Allmendinger during throughout Smith's absence, described the experience as fun. "The way AJ performed the last two weeks, he deserves to be in a full-time ride," Barkdoll said.(Fox Sports)(10-23-2012)
UPDATE: AJ Allmendinger will drive the #51 Phoenix Racing Sprint Cup car Sunday at Martinsville Speedway. Allmendinger, who was suspended earlier this season for violating NASCAR's substance abuse policy, has driven the past two races at Charlotte and Kansas, where he finished 24th and 35th, respectively. General manager Steve Barkdoll said the decision to go with Allmendinger was based on how he has performed over the past two weeks. Barkdoll said it remains a race-by-race decision. He said Regan Smith would have been in the car for the rest of the year had he not been called on to replace Dale Earnhardt Jr. in the #88 the past two weeks. Barkdoll did not rule out the possibility that Smith could be in the car in two weeks at Texas. Earnhardt is awaiting word later Tuesday on whether he will be cleared to return from a concussion to race at Martinsville this weekend.(ESPN) (10-23-2012)
Diet Mountain Dew cutting back sponsorship of Earnhardt, Jr.: UPDATE: #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr. won't have Diet Mountain Dew as a sponsor for as many races in 2013 as he did in 2012, but he's not worried about Hendrick Motorsports finding sponsors for those races. NASCAR's most popular driver will have sponsorship from the Army National Guard for 20 races next year and Diet Mountain Dew for an unspecified number. Mountain Dew sponsored 16 races this year while another Pepsi product, Amp, sponsored four. The National Guard had 18 races this year. Earnhardt is not worried about having an unsponsored car at Hendrick. The organization has had Hendrickcars.com on Kasey Kahne's car for select races this year when it didn't sell sponsorships. "We have more demand than we have supply pretty much," Earnhardt said. "We've got a majority of the season with the Guard and Diet Mountain Dew is going to back off a little bit and that makes it a bit of a challenge to fill that small of a gap. If it were a bit larger gap, it would be easier to fill."(Sporting News)(9-14-2012)
UPDATE: Dale Earnhardt Jr. and his Hendrick Motorsports team are losing 15 races of sponsorship next season as PepsiCo plans to cut back its sponsorship, according to the SportsBusiness Journal. PepsiCo committed to sponsoring Earnhardt for 20 races in 2012. PepsiCo is working on a $10 million deal with Hendrick Motorsports that would include five races annually with Earnhardt (Diet Mountain Dew and Amp), two races with Jeff Gordon (Pepsi) and one with Kasey Kahne (brand TBA). The beverage company had sponsored Earnhardt and his #88 team for 20 races and Gordon's #24 team for two in each of the past five years. This season, the 20 Earnhardt races were split between Diet Mountain Dew (16 races) and Amp (four races).(Sporting News)(10-22-2012)
Earnhardt Jr. visits concussion experts: UPDATE: #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr. met with renowned concussion specialists at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center's sports medicine concussion program Tuesday. Earnhardt was not given medical clearance to participate in this past Saturday's Sprint Cup race at Charlotte Motor Speedway or this week's race at Kansas after suffering multiple concussions over the past six weeks. He was accompanied to Pittsburgh by NASCAR primary physician Dr. Jerry Petty as a part of the original rehabilitation plan that was put in place last week. Earnhardt met with Dr. Michael Collins, the executive director of the concussion program that helped developed the ImPACT baseline test used in the IndyCar series and other contact sports.(ESPN)(10-16-2012)
UPDATE: Kelley Earnhardt Miller posted an update about Earnhardt, Jr. on the JR Nation website: "Dale has been following the doctor's orders to rest up. The doctor did relax his orders a little last week and allowed him to watch some television and play a little video games. He's not suppose to "stress" his brain, LOL. We spent the day Tuesday in Pittsburgh at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center with a great team of doctors led by Mickey Collins. Dale spent most of the day doing different therapies and exercises. We got back yesterday afternoon and Dale has some different therapies to do at home as he consults with the doctors each day. If all goes according to plan, and he continues to improve to 100%, he will test a race car early next week to be cleared for Martinsville. This has definitely been an eye opening experience and one that I hope we don't revisit in his career."(JR Nation)(10-17-2012)
Earnhardt Jr. visits concussion experts: #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr. met with renowned concussion specialists at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center's sports medicine concussion program Tuesday. Earnhardt was not given medical clearance to participate in this past Saturday's Sprint Cup race at Charlotte Motor Speedway or this week's race at Kansas after suffering multiple concussions over the past six weeks. He was accompanied to Pittsburgh by NASCAR primary physician Dr. Jerry Petty as a part of the original rehabilitation plan that was put in place last week. Earnhardt met with Dr. Michael Collins, the executive director of the concussion program that helped developed the ImPACT baseline test used in the IndyCar series and other contact sports.(ESPN)(10-16-2012)
Smith comments on his run in the #88 at Charlotte: Regan Smith, temporary substitute driver for Dale Earnhardt Jr. in the #88 AMP Energy / National Guard Chevy was sidelined on lap 61 with engine failureL
Q) DID YOU HAVE ANY INDICATION OF WHAT HAPPENED TO THE ENGINE?
Smith: "No, we are still looking at everything. I think the important part was is that we had a really fast race car. We had a good first adjustment there, went just a little too far with it and got a little too free. Needed one more stop and I think we would have had it dialed in and then just chased the weather from that point on. It's disappointing. It's a good team, it's a good car and everybody at Hendrick Motorsports does a great job. I'm looking forward to next week. We get three days to test when we get there to Kansas and we will see if we can get the AMP Energy/National Guard Chevrolet up front there. I feel confident we will have the same speed we had here. "(Team Chevy)(10-13-2012)
A couple streaks end - no Earnhardt and no North Caolina driver in the race:
Saturday night's event at Charlotte Motor Speedway brings a rarity in NASCAR -- a premier-series race without a driver named Earnhardt in the starting field. #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr. is sitting out this weekend's event at Charlotte, and will also skip next Sunday's race at Kansas Speedway, as he deals with the effects of two concussions suffered within six weeks of one another. The Bank of America 500 will be the first event in what's now known as the Sprint Cup circuit without an Earnhardt in the field since September 3, 1979, and the last of four races Dale Earnhardt missed because of injuries suffered in a crash. Prior to Saturday, the last Cup-level race without an Earnhardt was at Darlington on Labor Day weekend in 1979 (NASCAR.com).
AND With Dale Earnhardt Jr. (Mooresville, N.C.) sidelined with a concussion and Scott Riggs (Bahama, N.C.) failing to make the field, the green flag will wave on a field without a driver from North Carolina for the first time since May 27, 1961, at Ascot Stadium in Los Angeles.(FoxSports)(10-13-2012)
Eanrhardt Jr. will not race at Charlotte or Kansas: Dale Earnhardt Jr. will not compete in the upcoming NASCAR Sprint Cup Series events at Charlotte Motor Speedway and Kansas Speedway after being diagnosed with a concussion following the Oct. 7 race at Talladega. Earnhardt, driver of the #88 Chevrolets for Hendrick Motorsports, was diagnosed Wednesday afternoon in Charlotte. Regan Smith will be the team's substitute driver at Charlotte and Kansas.(Hendrick Motorsports), no word who will drive the #51 Chevy that Smith was scheduled to drive at Charlote.(10-11-2012)
Dale Earnhardt Jr. press conference transcript: #88-Dale Earnhard Jr. met with media to discuss the fact that he will not be competing at this weekend's race at Charlotte Motor Speedway nor at next week's race at Kansas Speedway after being diagnosed with a concussion following the Oct. 7 race at Talladega Superspeedway. Also included in the discussion: Rick Hendrick, Owner of Hendrick Motorspots, Steve Letarte, Crew Chief, and Dr. Jerry Petty, neurosurgeon. The Full Transcript:
KERRY THARP: Joining us up front we have Steve Letarte, crew chief of the No. 88; Dale Earnhardt, Jr., driver of the No. 88; team owner Rick Hendrick; and Dr. Jerry Petty, neurosurgeon. At this time I'm going to call on Dale Earnhardt, Jr., who has some things he'd like to share with everyone.
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.: I guess I'll just start out with where this all kind of began. We had a test at Kansas about five weeks ago, and we blew a right front tire going into Turn 1, and I remember everything about that accident and everything after that accident, but I knew that I didn't feel -- you know your body, and you know how your mind works, and I knew something was just not quite right. But I decided to just try to push through and work through it. I'd had concussions before and knew exactly kind of what I was dealing with. I felt pretty good after a week or two and definitely 80, 90 percent by the time the Chase started, and by the time we got to Talladega I felt 100 percent, felt really good. And then the accident at the end of that race, I was hit in the left rear quarter panel, and it was sort of an odd kind of a collision where the car spun around really quick and just sort of disoriented me, and I knew that I had sort of regressed and had a bit of a setback and knew -- again, you know how your body is and you know when something is not quite right, and I knew as soon as it happened that I had reinjured myself, for lack of a better way to describe it. It didn't feel -- it was not even half of the impact that I had at Kansas, but it was enough to cause me some concern.
So I went a couple days wondering how my body would react and sort of waiting for it to process what was happening. About Wednesday I was still having some headaches, just that was really the only symptoms that I was having was the headaches. So I took it upon myself to -- I contacted my sister, and we talked about seeing a neurosurgeon, and we ended up getting steered toward Dr. Petty. Met with him, ran through a couple tests, everything was checking out, and did an MRI, everything looked good there. But I was really honest with him about how I felt and honest with him about the whole process from Kansas all the way on.
He spent the night thinking about what we discussed and everything that we did on Wednesday and couldn't clear me to race this weekend. I trust his opinion. That's why I went to see him. He's been a good friend of mine for a long time and has helped me through a lot of injuries before, so I believe when he tells me I don't need to be in the car and I need to take a couple weeks off that that's what I need to do.
That's pretty much the extent of it. I got a lot of support from my team. I'm excited about their opportunities the next couple weeks with Regan, and just looking forward to getting this cleared up and getting back in the car as soon as I can so I can get back to work with my team and getting back to competing on Sundays.
Q. Dale, did you see anyone for the Kansas -- the issues you had at Kansas, and if you knew immediately that something was off on Sunday, why did you wait until Wednesday? DALE EARNHARDT, JR.: No, I didn't see anybody at Kansas. I was -- I regret not seeing somebody after that happened. I was stubborn, and I'd had concussions before and knew what I was -- thought I knew what I was dealing with and felt like that I was capable of doing my job.
I had called Steve. We talked about how I was feeling, and I told him that I really -- I felt pretty good, but I really wouldn't know if I would be able to compete until I got into the car. When you have a concussion, the symptoms can be really mild, and then they'll typically go away after a couple days and you feel perfectly normal. But then when you get in a car and you go around the track at a high rate of speed, you start to understand that some things just aren't quite where they need to be and some reactions just aren't as sharp.
You really can't get a measurement of that until you're in the car. You can't even -- there's just no way of knowing until you can drive. I wasn't willing to -- with the Chase coming up, I didn't know how difficult -- if I was to volunteer myself to medical attention and be removed from the car, I didn't know how difficult it would be to get back in. But I was honest with Steve and told Steve, I said, when we get to Atlanta and if I don't feel good, I'm going to be honest with you and tell you that we need to have something as a backup plan for me to get out of the car. I wasn't going to drive the car if I felt like I was going to deal my crew chief and my team a shorthand that weekend.
That's kind of the same reason I waited until Wednesday. The shot at Kansas was -- I think we got the data, but it was around 40 G's, and the shot at Talladega was only around 20 G's. It wasn't really that big of a wreck, and the fact that I felt the way I did was what concerned me after the accident at Talladega because it wasn't that hard of a hit. I wanted to process how I felt over a couple days. I went to the doctor Tuesday, actually. Anyways, we -- you know, I just wanted to process what was happening, and I knew having them two concussions back-to-back was not a good thing. So I needed to go see somebody regardless of whether I wanted to get out of the car or not. Just for my own well-being, I couldn't -- if I didn't need to go get in a race car and get hit again, I needed somebody to tell me that because I was going to have a hard time making that decision for myself. I feel perfectly fine, but I don't want to keep getting hit in the head.
Q. Because you drove your car away at Talladega, you weren't required to go to the care center. We've come a long way from where drivers would lie and not say that they have concussions or Ricky Rudd taped his eyes open. What do you feel about concussions in general, and do you think you wouldn't have made the decision yourself to have it checked out because you were able to drive your car away at Talladega?
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.: I just felt like that once -- if you have more than one in a small period of time, you need to take that quite seriously. That's how -- I mean, I had -- the one in Kansas was really bad, and then to get shaken up so quickly over something to kind of trivial. That accident was -- I've been through tons of last lap wrecks at Daytona and Talladega, and that one shook me up, and I just thought maybe I should take this seriously.
Q. Dr. Petty, Dale has been saying he kind of knows what he's dealing with as far as concussions. What is he dealing with and what does he need to do to be cleared to race?
DR. PETTY: So far what we've done is Dale -- the first thing he had was an impact test, which is a test that we've been using more and more with drivers. His exam was entirely normal except that his main thing -- we were seeing him for symptoms. He had very few signs at that time. In other words, his neurological exam was normal. We wanted to get an MRI scan, and we did an MRI that following morning, a special MRI. I think we had to wait a while to get it because we wanted to get a special method they have of looking for previous injuries and so forth. That was entirely normal. The whole -- that was very encouraging.
Then we talked to Dale, and he -- I couldn't give you a better history than he just did. He had no amnesia on either side of either of the incidents, which is very important, and I think that there's every reason to expect -- what we'll do now is we want him to have four or five days after he has no headache, and then we'll give him some sort of test like to get his pulse rate up, see if we can provoke a headache, and then if we can't, we'll let him go out and drive a lap or two and see how that goes, and if that goes well, we'll probably clear him to race.
Q. For Mr. Hendrick, you've been racing a long time and you've done it with a whole lot of different men. What level of courage does it take for someone to take it upon themselves at the highest level, when all of them talk all the time about how terrified they are that somebody is going to take their wheels, for him to walk in and admit that he had this pain?
RICK HENDRICK: Well, I think that's one thing everybody admires about Dale is how honest and up front he is. He cares a lot about the team, his fans, and the sport in general. But when he knew that there was something not right, he went to see Dr. Petty here, and I admire him. I think a lot of guys would try to play hurt, but when the doctor tells you if you get hit again like right away, it could be catastrophic, so I think this deal has worked out extremely well as it could. I mean, we were so happy yesterday that the MRI was completely normal, no damage. We don't have a problem there. And for these two guys to have the kind of year they've had, to lead the points and get in the Chase, we've got a lot of years left to race, I always want to be on the side of safety, and I applaud Dale for raising his hand and going in there and getting checked out.
Q. For Dale, you said you've had other concussions in the past. We know there was the one in 2002. Have there been others in between then and now, and have there been other instances where you haven't gotten it checked out and you've just known that the symptoms were going to clear and you're going to be okay once you get back in the car?
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.: Well, I can't really recall precisely every run I've had. Me and Dr. Petty were trying to count them the other day. But those were really mild and you were fine in 48 hours. For whatever the reason the wreck at Kansas was just really severe and really surprised me how tough it was to get past that. I thought I was in the clear, but just that little accident at Talladega, I started having headaches and stuff immediately after the wreck, and then into the next day and into Tuesday, and I thought, man, this is pretty soon after the other accident in Kansas. I should probably take this really seriously and seek some professional opinions on this. Typically they only last 24 to 48 hours and go away, and sometimes you don't even -- sometimes to be honest you don't even really know you have a mild concussion.
Q. Concussions have been in the news quite a bit lately, particularly with the NFL. In light of that how much of a concern is this for your long-term health, and did that kind of play into it at all?
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.: I think that you just -- I don't think that it played into it a whole lot. When something happens to your body, I want to live a healthy life so I'm going to make sure that I'm doing the right thing, and that's all I felt like I was doing here. I think if I give myself time to get healed up, I can race for as long as I want to race, and that's my objective.
RICK HENDRICK: I think the real good news is it has come to light with the NFL and Dr. Petty handles NFL guys with the Panthers, too, and there's another doctor here, too, with him, and there's some things they can do to help it along and protect him, and he was explaining all that. So the good news is it's -- this is kind of preventative maintenance not to take a chance and there's no damage.
But I think when you find out that you're okay, but if you were right away to have another one, it could be a big problem, then I think guys are going to have to pay attention to it, just like the NFL, just like I heard on SportsCenter talking this morning about two or three different people they were waiting to get cleared to play this weekend.
So as Dr. Petty said, he can't drive until these things happen. I think it's good that it's -- all the safety stuff we have in the cars today, this probably was a lot of -- I can remember in my career broken legs, broken arms, guys sitting out for different stuff, and we don't have that. I remember Terry Labonte having to sit out when he had that inner ear problem, and I think the good news is the cars are so safe, the medical field is so advanced, and if we do what they tell us, we shouldn't have any trouble.
Q. For Dr. Petty, it seems like a lot of people when we talk about concussions make it seem to be a cut-and-dry thing, but in this instance, Dale Jr. talked about the tests being normal, and a lot of it seems to be him telling you the symptoms that he's experiencing. I was just wondering in your dealing with athletes, is it mostly listening to them tell you the effects of after an incident, or is it a combination generally of test results and them telling you what's going on?
DR. PETTY: It's a combination in some regard. If an MRI scan or a CT scan is abnormal, then it's no longer a concussion, it's a hemorrhage or a contusion. By definition it's not a concussion. So some of the testing that's done like the impact tests that Dale had, those are tests that we can follow, and if he should have an injury again in the future, we can use that as a baseline. What we'd want to make sure is that baseline doesn't start to fall off and even fall off without being tested.
The period of -- what he has is really called a diffuse axonal injury, and it's something that does not show on scans, and we don't have test that will show that other than symptoms and signs. Sometimes there will be some residual signs left over, but Dale had none of those. He had no -- his eyes did what they were supposed to do; his balance tests and so forth are perfect.
The biggest -- the one test, the one symptom that is more important than all the tests is headache, and as long as there's any headache, the brain is not healed, and until that's healed and had some time to rest and then you provoke it again and can't make it happen again, then that's -- then you feel like you're on the road to recovery.
Q. When you look at Eric McClure, his concussion, you look at your concussions, Brad Keselowski broke his ankle, are the cars not as safe as they need to be right now?
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.: Oh, the cars are fine. There's just some things that you can't control. I don't know that you can have a race car that's completely 100 percent safe. But there's been so much -- so many advances in the last 10 or 12 years that have made this sport incredibly safe. So I have no worries about that.
Q. Dale or Rick, was there any consideration of having you possibly set out the rest of the season as opposed to just Charlotte and Kansas at any point in time?
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.: No, not really. I would love to race this weekend, and I feel perfectly normal and feel like I could compete if I were allowed to compete this weekend. But I think that the basis of this whole deal is that I've had two concussions in the last four to five weeks, and you can't layer concussions. It gets extremely dangerous. So I really don't want to -- I think that we could easily have chosen to do that, but I'd like to get back in the car and compete as soon as I can, as soon as the doctors feel like I'm able to do that.
Q. Dale, what's your situation going to be like in the next two weeks? Are you going to be keeping the same role as a driver and working with Regan any since he's taking over the car? What's your role going to be like? Is it going to change any?
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.: Well, I really don't know. I probably need to rest and relax as much as I can, allow my brain to take a break and get some healing done. You know, Regan doesn't need any tutoring or anything like that. He's ready to go. He's going to do a great job. I'm excited for his opportunity. He's a really good guy, been a good friend of mine for a long time. Under the circumstances I think this is a really, really neat opportunity for him, and I think that Steve and the guys will enjoy working with him.
Q. Considering the incredible season you were having, did it make it even more difficult to make this decision the first time, the second time, and is it just frustrating because of how well you and Stevie were working together?
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.: It's frustrating. I really didn't get to make the decision. I left it in the hands of the Docs, and I'm going to do what they tell me to do. But it's frustrating; I just enjoy driving cars week in and week out. I enjoy being at the racetrack with Steve, so I'm going to really miss that.
Q. I know in the NFL if you have a concussion they make you sit out six or seven days before you go back in. NASCAR drivers have kind of hid this fact like Dale did after the Kansas incident. Does there need to be more stringent rules that would prevent drivers from being on the track with concussions?
DR. PETTY: We've patterned our rules after the NFL to a degree. We would do the same procedure about giving them five or six days without a headache and then doing provocative tests. I don't think that, so far as I know, they're not allowed to go back any earlier than some of the NFL guys are allowed to go back.
Q. Dale, one question for you: I know you said you have to rest up a little bit, but will you come to the race this weekend to support the team? And for Steve Letarte, what have you had to do to the car to prepare for Regan Smith to race this weekend?
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.: Yeah, I don't have any plans of being here this weekend. I think that I'd be more of a distraction to the team and their efforts in the race. I think they've got a good opportunity to have a good run this weekend, and I feel like that -- to minimize the distraction would help them out.
STEVE LETARTE: As far as preparing for the car for Regan, there's not a whole lot to do. He's been at the shop early this morning just to sit in his seat versus Jimmie's. We have a lot of options at the company, and he found the one that fits him the best, so we'll probably change the seat, the pedals, just adjust things to his driving style. He'll probably have to get on the race track to really fine-tune everything like he really wants it. They're reasonably close to the same size, so it shouldn't be much of a problem at all.
Q. This is for Steve: When this happened at the tire test, it sounds like there wasn't a lot of medical staff or he didn't go to a care center. Is that standard for these tire tests; and is that something that you think should be changed? How does that usually work?
STEVE LETARTE: Well, there was a medical staff there, and he was seen in the ambulance after his accident. I think he was seen there. As far as the care center and what should be standard, I kind of leave that to the experts above me. I stick with crew chiefing and race cars. I don't know if I'm really the guy that can answer that question. I think injuries are complicated, and I think every situation can be different. We test all over the country, whether it's a tire test or whether we're by ourselves at a straight-line test or Nashville, any type of cars on track there's a risk of injury. I don't know if there's any real -- I wish it would be a cut-and-dry answer, but I don't really think there is a cut and dry answer.
Q. Rick, can you give us a precise as best you can remember timeline on when the decision was made yesterday, what time of day, when did you contact Regan? Kind of give us not a minute by minute but maybe an hour by hour progress of how all this came about?
RICK HENDRICK: Let's see. Dale went in to have the -- I talked to Dr. Petty Tuesday night. He had -- Dale had an examination Tuesday. Wednesday he had an MRI. I went down with Stevie and Kelly to his office and saw the MRI, and it was normal. At that point Dr. Petty had already said to me in the morning, that morning that he was not going to clear Dale to drive. But we were wanting to know if there was any damage or injury. Then because Kelly has been working with Regan and junior, I called James Finch last night about 10:00 and asked him could we use Regan. He agreed, and that's -- told Stevie last night at 8:00. So this morning he called Regan and we told him we'd had it cleared with James, and that's where we are right now.
Q. I was there when you went into the corner. Can you just talk about that track and the rebanking of it, and is it safe, and what should we look for next weekend?
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.: I think it'll be a great race. I think they did an awesome job on the track. I had a lot of fun when we were testing up there until the accident. I think they did a good job in Turn 1 and 2, sort of changing the banking of the track, and 3 and 4 seems relatively the same as it was before. But I really think it's going to be a great racetrack. It was a good track beforehand, but I think they improved it.
Q. You're not blaming the track?
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.: Absolutely not.
Q. Just going back to the Regan Smith decision, I'm sure you had other choices. Why Regan, and what might be the future for him in your organization?
RICK HENDRICK: Well, I think we've been talking about running him in the Nationwide car for a championship. He's a good driver, and again, Dale likes him, and we're familiar with him. So that was just -- we knew he was going to be in James' car. And that was just -- it just seemed to fit. They're about the same size.
STEVE LETARTE: I don't really know if I'm the guy -- Mr. Hendrick makes those decisions, but I agree that Regan is a great guy with a great attitude. Seems to be a remarkable talent. He's part of the Chevrolet family, which obviously helps when he comes and drives our car. We were just looking for someone that could come in and do a great job, and we feel he can, and the fact that Dale believes in him so much really made the decision that much easier.
Q. What are your emotions right now? We've seen drivers on the verge of tears when they've had to give up their cars in mid-race and some very emotional feelings. How are you coping with that?
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.: I'm really going to feel pretty odd not being in the car. I'm anxious, real, real anxious just to get back into the car and get back to -- I think you learn not to take things for granted, and I just hate that this has caused such a fuss.
Q. Dr. Petty, when it comes to concussions, are you more susceptible to them going forward when you get one?
DR. PETTY: Yes.
Q. And secondly, how much of diagnosing all this hinges on individual admission?
DR. PETTY: 90 percent of a concussion probably depends on individual information. The headache -- people around you might notice that you're different. By and large it's a patient's -- the history that the patient gives is the thing that tells you that they've had a concussion. A concussion can be seeing stars. A concussion can be just being addled for a minute. Any time the brain is not doing what it's supposed to be doing after an acceleration or deceleration, that's a concussion.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you very much for being in here today, and good luck the rest of this season.(Team Chevy Transcript)(10-11-2012)
Earnhardt Jr. not happy with race package at Talladega: #88-Dale Earnhardt, Jr. discussed the wreck at the end of the Talladega race:
HOW WOULD YOU DEFINE THAT RACE IT WAS JUST CRAZY AT THE END?
"If this is what we did every week I wouldn't be doing it I will just put it to you like that. If this is how we raced every week I would find another job."
WHAT WAS THAT LAST LAP LIKE? NORMALLY YOU GUYS ARE THREE-WIDE BUT THIS TIME YOU WERE FOUR AND FIVE WIDE?
"That is what the package is doing. It's really not racing. I don't know it's a little disappointing how that all went down. That cost a lot of money right there. If this is how we are going to race and that is how we are going to continue to race and nothing is going to change I think NASCAR should build the cars. It would save us a lot of money."
YOU'VE RACED A LOT OF CRAZY TALLADEGA'S WHAT MAKES THIS ONE DIFFERENT? YOU USED TO LOVE RACING HERE:
"You just can't get away from each other that good.
MEDIA: "I know it sucks for you guys but for the fans it's awesome to watch."
DALE EARNHARDT JR.: "Really? It's not safe. Wrecking like that is ridiculous. It's blood-thirsty if that is what people want. It's ridiculous."
WHAT CHANGES WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE?
"The way we are going ain't the right direction. There are plenty of engineers out there I'm just a driver. There are plenty of smart people out there that can figure something out where when one guy gets in trouble we don't have 30 cars tore up at the expense of it. I mean it's awesome in a word and everybody can get on the chip about it and get excited about all that which just happened, but for the longevity of the sport that aint healthy. I don't care what anybody says for the good of the sport I mean it's good for the here and now and it will get people talking today, but for the long run that is not going to help the sport the way that race ended and the way the racing is. It's not going to be productive for years to come. I don't even want to go to Daytona or Talladega next year, but I ain't got much choice."(Chevy PR)(10-8-2012)
Earnhardt, Jr. denies he's getting married: Don't send those wedding gifts to Dale Earnhardt Jr. just yet. NASCAR's most popular driver says he's not getting married, no matter what the National Enquirer says. The National Enquirer posted a story online Wednesday saying that Earnhardt is expected to marry girlfriend Amy Reimann by the end of the year. Earnhardt, says, not so fast. "Totally false," Earnhardt said when asked about the report Wednesday during media day for the Chase for the Sprint Cup, which starts this weekend at Chicagoland Speedway. Earnhardt has dated Reimann for more than two years, and they have appeared in public more in the last year.(Sporting News)(9-12-2012)
Dale Earnhardt Jr. Visits ESPN for Pre-Chase Carwash: NASCAR's Most Popular Driver, Dale Earnhardt Jr., will be at ESPN headquarters in Bristol, Ct., on Tuesday, Sept. 11, and will appear on a variety of ESPN programs and platforms to discuss the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. Earnhardt, who is seeking his first NASCAR Sprint Cup title, will start his day on Mike and Mike In the Morning on ESPN Radio and ESPN2 at 9:45am/et. He also is scheduled to appear on SportsCenter, First Take, NASCAR Now, SportsNation, NFL Live, PTI and ESPN Radio's Scott Van Pelt Show.(ESPN)(9-10-2012)
Earnhardt Jr. wrecks in Kansas testing, is OK: #88-Dale Earnhardt, Jr., was treated and released from the Infield Care Center at Kansas Speedway this morning [Wednesday, August 29], after a hard crash during the second day of a scheduled Goodyear tire test at the speedway. Earnhardt's Hendrick Motorsports Chevy reportedly suffered a right-front tire failure and made heavy contact with the outside wall. The car was severely damaged, but Earnhardt walked from the Infield Care Center under his own power. He is one of eight drivers testing on the newly repaved 1.5-mile tri-oval today, as Goodyear researches a new tire compound for use at the speedway. In addition to replacing the track's aging asphalt, crews reworked its 15-degree banking to new, variable degree banking ranging from 17-20 degrees.(Godfather Motorsports)(8-29-2012)
A Yankees Lifer in NASCAR: With 10 championships and 206 victories in 29 seasons of racing, Hendrick Motorsports is sometimes called the Yankees of NASCAR. And now that Hendrick has a Yankees lifer on its staff, it would be hard to argue the point. For those who did not notice, that was Gene Monahan standing alongside team members at the finish line as Jimmie Johnson and his #48 crew celebrated their Sprint Cup victory July 29 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Yes, Monahan knelt down and kissed those bricks with everyone else as part of the traditional victory celebration there. This is what Monahan, 67, had in mind when he retired as the head trainer of the Yankees last fall after 49 years with the organization. A lifelong racing fan going back to his days growing up in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Monahan moved from his two-bedroom condominium in Hackensack, N.J., to a 3,300-square-foot house near a lake in Mooresville, N.C., last November to be close to most of the teams that compete in NASCAR. Appropriately enough, he became a consultant for Hendrick. Monahan works about 15 hours a week for Hendrick, serving as an athletic trainer for the 45 or so pit crew members employed by the race team. "Why a guy like Gene?" said Andy Papathanassiou, a Hendrick director who oversees the recruiting, development and training of pit crews. "Because as we strive to keep these crews performing at the top level of their game in the pit stop world, injury and recovery is a big part of that equation. And that's where someone like Gene, with his expertise and background and his enthusiasm for what he does, is invaluable." It was a longtime friend, Jay Frye, a former vice president and general manager of the Red Bull race team who became a consultant with Hendrick in January, who suggested Monahan to Hendrick officials. "I always felt there was a need for injury prevention and training, basically the same thing any other professional sports franchise does," Frye said. "There was always an open invitation from me to him, if he retired and moved down here, we would find something for him to do." Monahan began working with Hendrick's pit crews in April. Although he does not work with drivers, he has become friendly with Johnson, an occasional visitor at Yankee Stadium over the years. Monahan said Johnson reminded him of Derek Jeter.(New York Times)(8-24-2012)
NASCAR: Rear housing devices legal: NASCAR officials said mechanical devices the Hendrick Motorsports teams and other organizations in the Sprint Cup Series are using to gain a competitive advantage in the rear housing are legal -- today. "We watch it weekly because it has ramped up the last couple of months,'' series director John Darby said on Friday at Bristol Motor Speedway. "If it stays pretty level we'll probably leave it alone the rest of the year. "If there is a higher extreme somebody takes it to that could create issues we don't want to see, then we'll react to that.'' The HMS cars in May were the first this season to develop devices that allow the rear axle to turn slightly to follow the front, creating more speed particularly in the corners. "Where we're at today, right now, there is no illegal procedures going on,'' Darby said. "Obviously, there was one we found Tuesday that was questionable. But the mechanical devices, the way they're using them, there's a clear understanding of what the teams are doing.'' Darby said teams are using different methods to create a "hook and ladder fire truck effect that allows the rear axle to turn so the rear of the car follows the front.'' He said there's nothing in the current rulebook that doesn't allow that, but he didn't rule out that changing in 2013. "It's just a direct everybody has gone to maximize, optimize,'' Darby said. "Right now it's pretty level throughout the garage. If you take the most extreme to the least developed, it's not a huge difference.''(ESPN)(8-24-2012)
Keselowski says Hendrick teams may be bending rules UPDATE: #2-Brad Keselowski believes Penske Racing's refusal to bend the rules contributed to him not being able to challenge #48-Jimmie Johnson for the lead Sunday Michigan. Johnson was leading Keselowski with six laps remaining when his Hendrick Motorsports engine blew. #16-Greg Biffle won the race and Keselowski finished second. During the race, Keselowski made reference to Hendrick's "tricks" with their cars. Hendrick's Kasey Kahne and Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished third and fourth, respectively. The Hendrick cars appear to have different rear suspension setups than other cars, especially at intermediate tracks such as Michigan, Indianapolis and Pocono. "There's part and pieces on the car that are moving after inspection that makes the cars more competitive," Keselowski said after the race. "Some guys have it, some don't. There's a question as to the interpretation of the rule. Penske Racing errs on the safe side because we don't want to be the guys that get the big penalty." Keselowski said Penske will need to re-evaluate its setups. "As a group at Penske Racing, we have not felt comfortable enough to risk that name and reputation that Roger has over those parts and pieces. Others have, which is their prerogative," Keselowski said. "I'm not going to slam it. But it's living in a gray area. ... We have to make a re-evaluation of that internally to decide if that's the right way to go."(Sporting News)(8-20-2012)
UPDATE: #2-Brad Keselowski stressed Thursday night that he wasn't accusing Hendrick Motorsports of cheating with his comments last week at Michigan International Speedway. Keselowski said last week that the some teams were using some "tricks" with the rear suspensions on their cars and working within a gray area of the NASCAR rulebook. He said his Penske Racing team has been reluctant to push the envelope in such areas over fear of getting caught cheating. Keselowski said he took great care not to mention Hendrick Motorsports by name last week and has spent the last week on Twitter trying to clarify any misunderstandings. Other competitors in recent weeks have alluded to an advantage Hendrick teams may have with the way they are setting up the rear of their cars. Keselowski talked to the media Thursday night during an unveiling of a retro paint scheme to honor former Penske driver Rusty Wallace's 50th career victory. Keselowski insisted that he wasn't accusing anyone of cheating. "I didn't appreciate how those words were twisted into calling out a specific team," Keselowski said. "I made it a point to not call out a specific team and I think I said in a sense, 'there is a half-dozen to a dozen cars that are running those things,' and with the exception of maybe the TV broadcast I hadn't pointed out which ones they were."(Sporting News)(8-24-2012)
Gordon unhappy with Earnhardt, Jr. UPDATE: The Pure Michigan 400 had some shocking moments Sunday, including a verbal feud between Hendrick Motorsports teammates #24-Jeff Gordon and #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr. "Tell the f------ 88 he can thank me later for not wrecking him," Gordon said on his radio during the race. "That was f------ stupid." Earnhardt had moved in front of Gordon midway through the race with a pass Gordon felt was a little risky. Team owner Rick Hendrick sided with Earnhardt: "Man, you didn't do anything. Just drive that thing to the front." Earnhardt finished fourth. Gordon finished a disappointing 28th after an engine failure, but later talked about the incident in the garage. "He took me four-wide, then slid up in front of me in Turn 2," Gordon said of Earnhardt's pass. "I had to check up and it could have wrecked all of us. It wasn't the smartest thing to do, especially to a teammate. But he chose to do it and it all worked out. I don't care who does it, I'm going to show my displeasure if they do something like that."(ESPN)(8-20-2012)
UPDATE: #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr. has no regrets about how he drove against #24-Jeff Gordon on a restart Sunday at Michigan International Speedway, but NASCAR's most popular driver laments how radio chatter turned a difference of opinion between the Hendrick Motorsports teammates into a firestorm. "I personally carried on a little bit on the radio about it; just curious about it," Earnhardt told USA TODAY Sports during a Tuesday interview at Hendrick Motorsports. "In retrospect, to try not to let ESPN or anybody like that make a big deal out of it, I should have not said anything at all so there wouldn't be any footage worth editing. But truth be told, the fact that we were teammates allowed that conversation to happen. If it was Brad Keselowski and me, I would have never known he was mad. I would have never cared that another driver was upset with me because for the most part what happened between me and Jeff happens dozens of times in one race, but the drivers never play it out like me and Jeff did because the radio conversations and lines of communication aren't there." Earnhardt said he and Gordon are "fine" with each other and sorted it out with a text exchange after Sunday's Pure Michigan 400, and they met again at Hendrick's campus Tuesday for the team's weekly debriefing of drivers and crew chiefs.(USA Today)(8-22-2012)
Earnhardt Jr. wins vote to be on video game cover: The face of NASCAR's new video game also happens to be the face of NASCAR. But that might not be the primary reason that Dale Earnhardt Jr. is a natural choice as the cover star of NASCAR The Game: Inside Line. "Even though I drive cars for a living, it's fun to do it with a reset button," Earnhardt told USA TODAY Sports about his avid interest in video gaming. "It's definitely not foreign to me, and you can see me just as easily picking up a controller and playing. It's comfortable and something I'll be able to speak intelligently about if I was in a room full of gamers. I think it's a good fit." Earnhardt was chosen as the game's primary ambassador via an online poll that drew more than 750,000 votes through heavy promotion in social media. He will be the focus of a marketing campaign launching next month before the game's November release.(USA Today)(8-22-2012)
National Guard extends sponsorship of Earnhardt, Jr.: The Army National Guard will continue as a primary sponsor of the #88 Sprint Cup Series team and driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. after extending its relationship with Hendrick Motorsports through the 2013 NASCAR season. The National Guard will receive primary paint schemes in 20 Sprint Cup races, including the 2013 Daytona 500, and prominent brand placement during all non-primary events. The National Guard's association with Hendrick Motorsports began with sponsorship of the #25 Sprint Cup team for the 2007 season. Its most recent contract, which included 18 primary paint schemes per year with the #88 team, was set to expire at the end of 2012. "It's an honor to be associated with the National Guard and its Citizen Soldiers," said Rick Hendrick, owner of Hendrick Motorsports. "Like many of the world's most innovative marketers and leading brands, the Guard sees the opportunities that our sport presents, and they have built a strong effort around it. As we go into 2013 together, we'll continue to focus on the performance of the program both on and off the racetrack." Additional sponsorship for the #88 Chevy will be announced at a later date.(Hendrick Motorsports)(8-17-2012)
Earnhardt, Jr. opens car dealerships in Florida with Hendrick Automotive Group: #88- Dale Earnhardt Jr. has opened two auto dealerships in Tallahassee, Fla. The dealerships are the first for Earnhardt, who owns the stores in partnership with Hendrick Automotive Group Chairman and Hendrick Motorsports Owner Rick Hendrick. Dale Earnhardt Jr. Chevrolet (3127 W. Tennessee Street) and Dale Earnhardt Jr. Buick GMC Cadillac (1850 Capitol Circle NE) officially opened under the Earnhardt name Monday. The acquisition from longtime owner Larry Strom was finalized over the weekend. "This is something Rick and I have talked about doing ever since I came to Hendrick Motorsports, but we agreed it had to be the right situation," said Earnhardt, who drives the #88 Diet Mountain Dew/National Guard Chevys for Hendrick Motorsports. "I'm honored to work with everyone at Hendrick Automotive Group and have this opportunity in a great market like Tallahassee. I was a mechanic in a Chevy store before I started racing, and I've always loved General Motors products and been interested in the dealership business. So it's exciting for me, and I hope it's going to be exciting for the people in the Tallahassee area." The dealerships are the first in the Tallahassee market for Hendrick Automotive Group, which will manage the stores. The company operates 84 dealerships across the country, including the Earnhardt locations. Both facilities will undergo renovations to modernize their appearances and amenities.(Hendrick Automotive Group)(8-15-2012)
Earnhardt, Jr. to be ESPN In-Race Reporter: #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr., the leader of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series standings, will be ESPN In-Race Reporter during the telecast of Sunday's 400-mile race at Pocono (PA) Raceway, continuing an element of ESPN's NASCAR telecasts that has been in place since 2007. Earnhardt will speak with ESPN analyst and 1999 NASCAR Sprint Cup champion Dale Jarrett on the race's pace laps and during caution periods, bringing viewers the unique perspective of a driver competing in the race. In addition, ESPN analyst Andy Petree, a two-time NASCAR Sprint Cup champion crew chief, will speak with Earnhardt's crew chief, Steve Letarte.(ESPN)(8-3-2012)
Four NASCAR drivers in top 50 sports money earners: For the first time since SI.com began publishing the Fortunate 50 in 2004, Tiger Woods is not No. 1. He's not even No. 2. That honor goes once again to Phil Mickelson. The new No. 1 (for now) is Floyd Mayweather, who was unranked a year ago but scored two huge pay-per-view paydays to earn $85 million without a single endorsement. [SI's] findings consisted solely of salary, winnings, bonuses, endorsements and appearance fees. NASCAR has 4 drivers on the list. #88-Dale Earnhardt, Jr., with a total of $28,164,690 in salary/winnings and endorsements, ranks 8th, #24-Jeff Gordon is 18th, #14-Tony Stewart is 29th, and #48-Jimmie Johnson is 33rd.(Sports Illustrated)(7-21-2012)
Military sponsorships will be allowed to continue: NASCAR and bass fishing can count on the military to keep the sponsorship money coming. The House voted Wednesday night to continue spending millions for the military to back sports to attract recruits for the all-volunteer force. On a vote of 216-202, the House rejected an amendment by Reps. Jack Kingston, R-Ga., and Betty McCollum, D-Minn., that would have trimmed $72.3 million for sports sponsorships from a $608 billion defense bill for fiscal 2013. The measure had targeted the money the National Guard spends to sponsor Dale Earnhardt Jr., NASCAR's most popular driver, as well as IndyCar Series driver JR Hildebrand. It also would have cut money the Army spends on the National Hot Rod Association drag racing, funds the Marine Corps uses for the Ultimate Fighting Championship and money spent on bass fishing. The House spent most of the day and night debating the far-reaching defense legislation that provides money for war, troops and weapons next year. Yet talk of Earnhardt's #88, bass fishing and NASCAR dominated the discussion. Kingston, a Georgian who says he hails from NASCAR and military country, insisted the sponsorship money was ineffective, attracting few recruits,and made no sense as the Army shrinks from a peak of 570,000 to 490,000 and the Marine Corps drops by 20,000, to 182,000. The end of the Iraq war, the drawdown in Afghanistan and the nation's fiscal woes have reshaped the defense budget, which has nearly doubled in the last 10 years.(Associated Press/ESPN)(7-19-2012)
National Guard indicates plans to stay as a sponsor: The National Guard Association of the United States today released the following statement by retired Maj. Gen. Gus L. Hargett Jr., the association president: "There is an effort underway in Congress to prohibit the U.S. military from sponsoring professional motorsports as part of military recruiting. On the surface, this may seem like a good idea in the face of current fiscal challenges. But a closer look reveals that such a ban would provide no real savings and only serve to hinder Defense Department efforts to reach the most qualified potential recruits. Recruiting for our all-volunteer force isn't what it used to be. Only one in every four young people is even eligible to join. And television advertising no longer carries the payoff it once did. Today, you have to know how smart, fit young people think, where they live and play, and go to them. The Army National Guard learned these lessons a few years ago. Traditional recruiting approaches no longer worked and our troop strength was shrinking. So we abandoned convention and focused our limited resources on an innovative marketing mix that linked recruiting messages to popular musicians and motorsports. It was a bold move, but it paid off. Recruiting steadily improved, both in terms of the quantity and quality of the applicants. Today, the Army National Guard has the fittest, most intelligent force in its history. Other military services noticed and have taken similar approaches. The link between military recruiting and motorsports is temporary. The results prove it's a match that works today. It may not in the future when other approaches may provide a better payoff. And that's the point. We applaud lawmakers like Rep. Jack Kingston, R-Ga., and Rep. Barbara McCollum, D-Minn., for asking tough questions about how and where scarce defense dollars are spent. But we believe military marketing experts should evaluate return on investment and determine without restriction where best to put increasingly scarce recruiting dollars."(National Guard Association of the U.S. / Digital Journal)(7-13=2-2012)
Army to leave NASCAR as sponsor after 2012 season: The U.S. Army has decided not to renew its sponsorship with Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) in 2013 as a primary sponsor of the #39 Chevy driven by Ryan Newman due to a reallocation of its marketing budget that will not include a presence in NASCAR. SHR is actively pursuing a strong brand to partner with the team and its roster of sponsors that also includes Office Depot, Mobil 1, Quicken Loans, GoDaddy.com, Haas Automation, Chevrolet, WIX Filters, Outback Steakhouse, Aspen Dental, Tornados, Coca-Cola, Oreo, Ritz, Bass Pro Shops and Code 3 Associates.
Brett Frood, Executive Vice President, Stewart-Haas Racing: "The U.S. Army has been a great partner of Stewart-Haas Racing since the team's inception. It has been a mutually beneficial relationship, with the U.S. Army introducing training regimens that improved our pit crews while instilling the mental, physical and emotional strength of the U.S. Army Soldier in all of us. We remain very proud of our representation of the U.S. Army and its brave Soldiers who are 100 percent committed to our country. We will continue to activate on behalf of the U.S. Army for the rest of 2012, while also growing our other dynamic partnerships at Stewart-Haas Racing for the future."
John Myers, Director, Marketing Support Element, Army Marketing and Research Group: "The U.S. Army has worked with Stewart-Haas Racing in a mutually beneficial and highly successful relationship for the past four seasons, and they've performed superbly as our partner on and off the track. The same can be said of other members of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series family we have sponsored during the past 10 seasons. The sport, our drivers and the passionate NASCAR fans embraced the Army's participation and created a tremendous opportunity for Americans to learn more about the profession of the Army Strong Soldier."(SHR)(7-10-2012)
U.S. Rep. McCollum Comments: U.S. Rep. Betty McCollum has won her two-year fight to get the Army to "stop wasting taxpayer dollars" on sponsoring a NASCAR racing team. The Army announced Tuesday that it would stop sponsoring the Stewart-Haas Racing team. The sponsorships were supposed to be a recruiting tool, but McCollum had argued it's an ineffective one. See McCollum's press release on the issue at the Pioneer Press and another at USA Today.
Army to return to NHRA Army officials are in the process of signing a contract extension with Don Schumacher Racing through 2013 to continue the long-running sponsorship of the Top Fuel dragster for seven-time NHRA champion Tony Schumacher. "That's our intent," said John Myers, director of marketing support for the Army Marketing and Research Group. "The NHRA is a valuable part of our motorsports outreach portfolio. We are working on an agreement through 2013. The NHRA gives us a great return on our investment."(ESPN)
AND U.S. Rep. Betty McCollum (D-Minn.) plans to meet today with National Guard officials "to discuss their backing" of the Hendrick Motorsports #88 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Chevy driven by Dale Earnhardt Jr.(in part from Sports Business Daily)(7-11-2012)
Patriotic paint scheme returns for Earnhardt, Jr: In honor of National Guard Soldiers and Independence Day, the #88 Chevy will carry a patriotic paint scheme this weekend at Daytona International Speedway as part of the NASCAR Unites- An American Salute program. For a six-week period (May 27 through July 7), the NASCAR industry will lend its support and raise awareness for the needs of military members in very important ways. As the nation's oldest Armed Forces component, the National Guard and its Citizen Soldiers play a vital role in protecting the freedoms Americans hold dear.(Hendrick Motorsports), see an image of the car on the #88 team paint schemes page.(7-5-2012)
Earnhardt Jr. wins at Michigan: #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr. won the Quicken Loans 400 Sprint Cup Series race at Michigan International Speedway for his 1st win of the year, 19th career win and first win in 143 races [Michigan June 2008].
#14-Stewart finished 2nd followed by #17-Kenseth, #16-Biffle, #48-Johnson, #24-Gordon, #15-Bowyer, #42-Montoya, #9-Ambrose [pole sitter] and #29-Harvick.
There were 8 cautions for 39 yellow flag laps. There were 27 lead changes among 16 drivers.
The estimated attendence was 82,000, down from 88,000 in 2011 but MIS has downsized grandstand seating from 108,000 to 84,000 since last season.
See race results, awards, money won, laps led, cautions and more on the Michigan Race Results page (pdf) and the official rundown on the Official Race Report.(6-17/18-2012)
The Dark Knight scheme for Dale Jr.: Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Mountain Dew have teamed up with the summer blockbuster "The Dark Knight Rises" to race a specially-wrapped #88 Batman-themed Chevy at Michigan International Speedway. The winning paint scheme was one of four voted on by DEW Crew members in late May, and features the iconic Batman logo on the hood and the faces of the two leading characters, Batman and Bane, on each side. Earnhardt's June 15, 2008, victory at Michigan International Speedway was his first win in a points-paying event for Hendrick Motorsports and his most recent win in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. Earnhardt started the race third and led 14 laps on his way to the checkered flag (HMS), see images of the scheme on the #88 Team Schemes page.(6-15-2012)
Earnhardt Jr. unveils winning Batman scheme: Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s #88 Chevy went "dark" thanks to fans of The Dark Knight Rises and Mountain Dew. Following a week and a half of voting at DEWCrew.com, Earnhardt revealed which "Dark Knight"-inspired paint scheme will be featured on the hood of his #88 Chevy in Michigan next month [June 17]. In addition to the Bat Shield on the hood, the redesign features Batman and Bane, Gotham City's newest villain, on either side of the car. The unveiling continues to drive anticipation for Warner Bros. Pictures' and Legendary Pictures' The Dark Knight Rises, before the film's opening day, July 20. "DEW and 'Dark Knight' fans have spoken, and it's pretty cool that the paint scheme they picked is the one I helped create," remarked Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 Chevy for Hendrick Motorsports. "Now that the winning design has been selected, I can't wait to see how fans will react to the car on the track in Michigan." Members of the DEW Crew were given the option of four different paint schemes to vote on, with each capturing a different element featured in the third and final installment of Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy. The winning design was revealed by Earnhardt and select DEW Crew members at the Hendrick Motorsports Fan Fest in Concord, N.C.(WeberShandwick), see images of the winning scheme on my #88 Team Schemes page.(5-27-2012)
Hendrick Motorsports celebrates 200th win: Hendrick Motorsports owner Rick Hendrick, team employees, families and other special guests joined together the evening of Tuesday, May 22 at The Fillmore in Charlotte, N.C., to celebrate the organization's 200th victory in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.
Country music superstar Brad Paisley played a private show for an audience of more than 1,100, which included past and present Hendrick Motorsports drivers.
Hendrick Motorsports Sprint Cup winners who attended the event: Geoff Bodine, Kyle Busch, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson, Terry Labonte, Mark Martin, Jerry Nadeau, Joe Nemechek, Ricky Rudd, Ken Schrader, and Darrell Waltrip. Tim Richmond was represented by his sister, Sandy Welsh.
Current Hendrick Motorsports driver Kasey Kahne was in attendance, along with winning drivers from the Nationwide Series and Camping World Truck Series: Brett Bodine, Jack Sprague and Tony Stewart.(HMS)(5-25-2012)
Earnhardt Jr. wins the Sprint Showdown: #88-Earnhardt Hr, led all 40 laps to win his first Sprint Showdown at Charlotte Motor Speedway to transfer into the Sprint All Star Race. #22-Allmendinger, who started on the pole, finished 2nd after having a flat left front tire at the start of the race. Allmendinger will also transfer into the All Star race. #1-McMurray finished 3rd after starting from the rear due to an unapproved adjustment after qualifying, followed by #56-Truex Jr., #42-Montoya, #20-LOgano, #43-Almirola, #31-Burton, #83-Cassill and #93-Kvapil. #47-Bobby Labonte, the 2000 Sprint Cup Champion, finished 12th but won the Sprint Fan Vote and will race in the Sprint All-Star Race. There were no accidents and seven cars took their cars to the garage before the end of the race.
See results and notes from each segment on my Sprint All Star Race & Sprint Showdown Info page.(5-19-2012)
Dale Jr. talks about a bill that could ban military spending in sports: #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr. met with members of the media at Charlotte Motor Speedway and discussed many things including Military sponsorships in the sport, the transcript in part:
Q) THERE'S A BILL THAT JUST PASSED THE APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE IN THE HOUSE THAT INCLUDES AN AMENDMENT TO BAN MILITARY SPENDING FOR SPORTS SPONSORSHIPS. AS SOMEBODY THAT REPRESENTS A MILITARY BRAND, WHAT WOULD YOU TELL THOSE IN CONGRESS THEY SHOULD BE LOOKING AT OR THINKING ABOUT AS OPPOSED TO BOTTOM-LINE ISSUES?
Earnhardt Jr.: "I think the Republican from Georgia that is heading the bill hasn't even been to a NASCAR race. At least it states that in the article today. I would encourage them to do more homework, get more facts, understand the situation a little more. I know just talking to the (National) Guard, and we went through this before, and talking to them, they can't express to me enough about how much this program helps their recruiting. They are committed to the belief it has a profound effect on their recruiting and their ability to recruit. It's important for them to be visible and to push their brand, and work on their brand giving people an opportunity to learn more about how to get involved in the military. I think their NASCAR sponsorship is a great way to reach a lot of people. We are one of the biggest sports. We've got more people attending races and attending our sport than a lot of other avenues they could be going. I think it's good and healthy for them to be here. I think it works for them or they wouldn't be a part of it."
Q) WOULD YOU INVITE THAT REPUBLICAN FROM GEORGIA TO A RACE?
Earnhardt Jr.: "Yeah, just because he's a Republican from Georgia he should have seen a NASCAR race by now (laughter)."
Q) WHAT WOULD YOU WANT HIM TO SEE?
Earnhardt Jr.: "He could come along and visit with the Guard and talk with the Guard. Talk to the people that are at the particular races and see what the experience is like for them. See how the guard utilizes their program and they're marketing within the sport. If he hasn't been to a race, he's not seen it firsthand. Then he can make his decision."(Team Chevy)(5-19-2012)
Military sponsorships could go away..if: The sponsorships of #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr. [National Guard] and #39-Ryan Newman [U.S. Army] (as well as the Air Force deal with #43-Aric Almirola) could be in jeopardy as military sponsorships of motorsports have come into question in the U.S. House of Representatives. The House Appropriations Committee approved an amendment Thursday to the 2013 defense appropriations bill that would prohibit funding of sponsorships of professional sports or sporting events. The amendment, passed by a voice vote and sponsored by Jack Kingston (R-Ga.) and Betty McCollum (D-Minn.), states that: "None of the funds made available in this act may be used to sponsor professional or semiprofessional motorsports, fishing, wrestling or other sports." The bill still needs to be passed by the House and then the provision would have to make it through any negotiations with leaders from the Senate and its defense appropriations bill. Last year, McCollum introduced an amendment banning motorsports sponsorships on the House floor and it was voted down 281-148.(Sporting News and USA Today)(5-18-2012)
Hendrick Motorsports 200th Cup Win: With Jimmie Johnson's win Saturday night in the #48 Lowe's Kobalt Tools Chevy at Darlington Raceway, Hendrick Motorsports recorded its 200th points-paying victory in NASCAR Sprint Cup Series competition, marking a major milestone for the organization and car owner Rick Hendrick.
STAT LEADER: When it comes to NASCAR's modern era (1972-present), Hendrick Motorsports leads all Sprint Cup teams in wins (200), top-five finishes (818), top-10s (1,352) and pole positions (181). Hendrick is NASCAR's all-time leader in poles and top-10s, while ranking behind only Petty Enterprises in Cup wins. The Petty team recorded 268 Cup victories in more than half a century of competition. Hendrick Motorsports' first season was 1984.
MILESTONE WINS: Hendrick Motorsports' first win came April 29, 1984, at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway with Geoff Bodine at the wheel. Jeff Gordon notched the team's 50th on March 24, 1996, at Darlington Raceway and its 100th on June 10, 2001, at Michigan International Speedway. Jimmie Johnson scored the 150th Cup win for Hendrick Motorsports on March 11, 2007, at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
FIRST-TIME WINNERS: Eight drivers recorded their first career Cup wins while driving for car owner Rick Hendrick: Bodine, Kyle Busch, Gordon, Johnson, Casey Mears, Jerry Nadeau, Ken Schrader and Brian Vickers. Gordon and Johnson have raced for Hendrick for their entire Cup careers.
DRIVERS AND TRACKS: Since being founded in 1984, Hendrick Motorsports has sent 15 Cup drivers to Victory Lane at 25 different racetracks (see full lists below). The organization has scored double-digit Cup wins at nine tracks, including a team record 18 at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway. Hendrick has won at four inactive Cup racetracks: Nashville, Tenn., North Wilkesboro, N.C., Riverside, Calif., and Rockingham, N.C.
WINNING WAYS: Hendrick Motorsports has posted at least one Cup-level win in 28 straight seasons (1986-2012), the longest active streak in NASCAR. The streak began Feb. 16, 1986, when Bodine won Hendrick's first Daytona 500. Bodine won three races in 1984 before scoring three runner-up finishes but no wins in 1985.
TWO LEFT: There are only two active tracks on the Sprint Cup circuit where Hendrick Motorsports has yet to reach Victory Lane. Those venues are Homestead-Miami Speedway, which hosts the Sprint Cup season finale, and the newly added Kentucky Speedway.(Hendrick Motorsports)(5-12-2012)
Hendrick Motorsports Reaches Historic 200th Win: Every big stage, every big moment, every crown jewel - Hendrick Motorsports owns them all. The Daytona 500? The team boasts six trophies from The Great American Race. The Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway? Seven wins. The Coca-Cola 600? Nine. Add another storybook accolade to the list: 200 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series victories. It comes in grand fashion, in yet another of NASCAR's crown jewel races. With its 14th victory at Darlington Raceway, by Jimmie Johnson, Hendrick Motorsports reached historic NASCAR Sprint Cup Series win #200, further solidifying its status as one of the greatest teams in NASCAR history.
Hendrick Motorsports has evolved from its modest beginnings as a single-car outfit in 1984. Its current form: A four-car powerhouse that topples records on a yearly basis. Two seasons ago, Jimmie Johnson won his unprecedented fifth consecutive NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship. In doing so, Hendrick Motorsports - behind owner Rick Hendrick - nabbed its 10th NASCAR Sprint Cup owners championship, breaking the all-time record previously shared with Petty Enterprises. Petty leads all teams in career race wins, with 268.
Now, Hendrick reaches a milestone befitting its brilliant consistency. Since joining the series in 1984 as All-Star Racing (the team changed its name to Hendrick Motorsports in 1985), Hendrick has won at least one race in all but one season (1985).
Below is a timeline of Hendrick's notable and milestone victories on its way to 200:
1 - On April 29, 1984 at Martinsville Speedway, Geoff Bodine earned Hendrick Motorsports' first victory. He led 55 laps in the event.
4 - HMS won its first Daytona 500. Geoff Bodine started on the front row (second), leading 101 laps on Feb. 16, 1986.
10 - HMS won its first Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway. Tim Richmond helped Hendrick reach double-digits in victories with his "crown jewel" win from the pole on Aug. 31, 1986.
16 - HMS won its first Coca-Cola 600. With 41-year-old Darrell Waltrip driving, Hendrick nabbed its first win in NASCAR's longest race on May 29, 1988.
36 - HMS won its first Brickyard 400. In the inaugural NASCAR Sprint Cup race at historic Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Jeff Gordon, then 23, won his second career race on Aug. 6, 1994.
50 - Jeff Gordon, whose 85 victories are more than any other Hendrick driver and third-most on the all-time list, won at Darlington Raceway on March 24, 1996.
61 - At the time, Gordon became the youngest winner in Daytona 500 history at 25 years, six months, 12 days on Feb. 16, 1997. His record was later broken in 2011 by Trevor Bayne (20 years, one day).
100 - Gordon won another milestone race, this time at Michigan International Speedway on June 10, 2001. Gordon would go on to win his fourth series championship that season.
150 - Jimmie Johnson captured victory on March 11, 2007 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Later that season, Johnson would win his second-consecutive championship.
196 - On April 17, 2011, Jimmie Johnson edged Clint Bowyer to the finish line by a miniscule .002 seconds, matching the closest margin of victory in series history.
198 - In a race delayed two days because of inclement weather, Gordon captured historic win ##85 on Sept. 6, 2011 at Atlanta Motor Speedway to move into third on the all-time series wins list.
Below lists the number of wins per driver, crew chief and track for Hendrick Motorsports.
HMS Wins By Driver
Driver Wins Jeff Gordon 85
Jimmie Johnson 56
Terry Labonte 12
Darrell Waltrip 9
Tim Richmond 9
Geoff Bodine 7
Mark Martin 5
Ken Schrader 4
Kyle Busch 4
Ricky Rudd 4
Brian Vickers 1
Casey Mears 1
Dale Earnhardt Jr. 1
Jerry Nadeau 1
Joe Nemechek 1
HMS Wins By Crew Chief
Crew Chief Wins
Chad Knaus 54
Ray Evernham 47
Robbie Loomis 23
Alan Gustafson 12
Harry Hyde 11
Gary DeHart 10
Steve Letarte 10
Jeff Hammond 9
Waddell Wilson 4
Darian Grubb 3
Richard Broome 3
Andy Graves 2
Brian Whitesell 2
Dennis Connor 2
Gary Nelson 2
Jim Long 1
Lance McGrew 1
Peter Sospenzo 1
Randy Dorton 1
Tony Eury Jr. 1
Tony Furr 1
HMS Wins By Track
Auto Club 9
New Hampshire 8
Watkins Glen 6
Las Vegas 5
North Wilkesboro 4*
Nashville Fairgrounds 1*
(* not an active Sprint Cup Series track)
Hendrick Motorsports By The Numbers
6 - Different Hendrick car numbers with wins. The list: #24, 85 wins; #48, 56 wins; #5, 32 wins; #25, 17 wins; #17, nine wins; #88, one win.
8 - Number of seasons Hendrick won double-digit races, with the most coming in 2007 (18).
8 - Number of drivers who scored their first win with Hendrick Motorsports: Geoff Bodine, Ken Schrader, Jeff Gordon, Jerry Nadeau, Jimmie Johnson, Kyle Busch, Brian Vickers and Casey Mears.
15 - Number of different drivers who have won with Hendrick.
18 - Wins at Martinsville Speedway, Hendrick's most prolific track.
20 - Age in years of the youngest Hendrick Motorsports winner: Kyle Busch, who won on Sept. 4, 2005 at Auto Club Speedway.
21 - Number of different crew chiefs who have won with Hendrick Motorsports.
25 - Number of different tracks at which Hendrick has won.
34 - Number of wins from the pole by Hendrick Motorsports.
37 - Starting position of Jimmie Johnson in the 2003 Coca-Cola 600, the deepest in the field a Hendrick winner has started.
50 - Age in years of the oldest Hendrick Motorsports winner: Mark Martin, who won on Sept. 20, 2009 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
150 - A Hendrick driver has scored perfect Driver Rating of 150.0 twice, both by Jimmie Johnson. The first came at Auto Club Speedway on Aug. 31, 2008; the second at Dover International Speedway on May 31, 2009.(NASCAR)(5-13-2012)
Drive to End Hunger Charlotte 1 Million Coming to Hendrick Motorsports Fan Fest: NASCAR fans and volunteers will be able to compete alongside Hendrick Motorsports pit crews in meal packaging races on May 25 through the Drive to End Hunger Charlotte 1 Million.
As part of its upcoming Fan Fest, Hendrick Motorsports is hosting the last stage of the Charlotte 1 Million. AARP Foundation's week-long series of volunteer-driven events will package and donate one million meals to help hungry older North Carolinians. Up to 200 volunteers will be needed to help package an expected 50,000 meals on the Hendrick Motorsports campus. Twelve lucky volunteers will win the opportunity to package meals alongside pit crew members from the #24 Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet, #5 Farmers Insurance Chevrolet, #48 Lowe's Chevrolet and #88 Diet Mountain Dew/National Guard Chevrolet as they compete in head-to-head races.
The centerpiece of the Charlotte 1 Million will be a two-day meal packaging event at the Charlotte Convention Center on May 24-25, where volunteers will be able to see and work alongside stars including four-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Jeff Gordon, tennis legend Martina Navratilova, host of "CBS NFL Today" James "JB" Brown, Miss Sprint Cup and others.
With two weeks left until the event starts, the #24 Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet will race in Darlington this weekend with a paint scheme that includes the Charlotte 1 Million logo on the TV panel and rear quarter panels. The TV panel will also promote DrivetoEndHunger.org/Meals, where fans can visit to find additional information and sign up to volunteer.(AARP/Drive to End Hunger)(5-12-2012)
Hendrick Motorsports Fan Fest May 25th: Hendrick Motorsports will host a fan appreciation day on Friday, May 25 during Charlotte Motor Speedway race weeks. The Hendrick Motorsports Fan Fest will be held at the team's Concord facility and feature an array of family-friendly activities, including scheduled appearances by NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers Kasey Kahne, Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson and Dale Earnhardt Jr. Free and open to the public, the Hendrick Motorsports Fan Fest will run from 11 a.m. until 7 p.m. ET.
In addition to driver appearances, the Hendrick Motorsports Fan Fest will feature activities for children, interactive sponsor displays, food vendors and a stage with live music and question-and-answer sessions. The Hendrick Motorsports crew chiefs and teams will be on hand for autographs and athletic demonstrations.
Throughout the event, the Hendrick Motorsports Museum and Team Store will offer merchandise discounts and feature special displays. Fans will be invited to visit the race shops of Kahne, Gordon, Johnson and Earnhardt, who are scheduled to take questions and be available for autograph sessions.
Autograph session wristbands will be distributed at 11 a.m. the day of the event on a first come, first served basis. A maximum number of 225 wristbands will be available for each driver (one autographed item per wristband; one wristband per person).
Fan Fest parking will not be available on the Hendrick Motorsports campus. Free parking will be at Lot Z off Bruton Smith Boulevard in Concord, courtesy of Charlotte Motor Speedway. Shuttles will offer roundtrip transportation to Hendrick Motorsports from Lot Z beginning at 9 a.m.
More Hendrick Motorsports Fan Fest information -- including maps, parking directions, schedules, autograph session details and additional event announcements -- will be available at www.HendrickMotorsports.com/FanFest and via social media.(HMS)(5-12-2012)
Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s #88 will feature Dale Jr. Foundation at All-Star race: The Dale Jr. Foundation will commemorate its five-year anniversary with a special paint scheme on Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s #88 Diet Mountain Dew/National Guard Chevy for the Sprint Cup All-Star race weekend at Charlotte Motor Speedway. This marks the fourth consecutive year that Earnhardt Jr.'s primary sponsors, Diet Mountain Dew and National Guard, have donated its primary space on the #88 Chevy to The Dale Jr. Foundation. This year the #88 car will feature orange, black and white colors with TDJF's theme, "Driven to Give: 5 Years of Giving" on the hood. "What The Dale Jr. Foundation has been able to accomplish since we started in 2007 has exceeded my expectations," Earnhardt Jr. said. "Thanks to the generosity of many people, we've been able to make a difference and donate to a lot of great foundations. I'm especially grateful to the folks at Diet Mountain Dew and National Guard who have given the Foundation this paint scheme again. It means a lot to me to have their support."(JR Motorsports), see an image of the car on the #88 team paint schemes page.(5-11-2012)
Hendrick in longest winless streak since 2002: More than a decade has passed since Hendrick Motorsports slogged through this kind of drought. Back in 2001, Hendrick went the final eight races without a win. Then in 2002, the squad went the first nine winless. That 17-race drought ranks as the team's sixth-longest in an NSCS history that began in 1984. The seventh longest? This one. Right here, right now. Sixteen races have passed since Hendrick's last win, but one of its top tracks awaits - Darlington Raceway. Hendrick has 13 victories at The Track Too Tough To Tame, most by any owner all-time. On Hendrick's personal wins list, Darlington ranks tied for third with Dover behind only Martinsville (18) and Charlotte (16).(NASCAR)(5-9-2012)
Earnhardt Jr., Kahne and Stewart to guest on The Cleveland Show: NASCAR stars #88-Dale Earnhart Jr., #5-Kasey Kahne and #14-Tony Stewart will guest-voice on Fox's The Cleveland Show next season. In the episode, Cleveland (voiced Mike Henry) convinces Donna (voiced Sanaa Lathan) to lighten up and have a few drinks when she takes her run for local office way too seriously. "Unfortunately, they party way too hard - and wake up on the infield of a NASCAR track. It's up to guest stars Earnhardt, Jr., Stewart and Kahne to race Donna and Cleveland home," executive producer Rich Appel says.(TV Guide)(4-27-2012)
Dale Earnhardt Day 2012: Dale Earnhardt Inc. is proud to announce the 2012 Dale Earnhardt Day on Sunday, April 29th, at the DEI Corporate Headquarters in Mooresville, NC. A celebration of the extraordinary life and legacy of Dale Earnhardt, this event is held annually on his birthday. Fans will be treated to special access to the Grand Showroom, only opened once a year on Dale Day, including a display of DEI Championship cars and other special vehicles. The DEI Museum will be opening a new display on that day: "Dale Earnhardt Inc. - A Racing Heritage". This new exhibit highlights the early beginnings of Dale and Teresa Earnhardt, and how their separate racing backgrounds combined brought great success. Photos and displays from the early days of racing show how the sport has changed and grown through four generations of Earnhardt racers. More info on my Racing Charities page. Dale Earnhardt Day 2012 will run from 1pm until 6pm, on Sunday, April 29th. Admission is free, and plenty of parking is available. Dale Earnhardt Inc. is located at 1675 Dale Earnhardt Highway #3, outside of Mooresville, NC.(4-20-2012)
Hendrick's Returns To Site 199th - And Last - Win and: Thirteen races have passed since Hendrick Motorsports last victory, and though it doesn't seem like a big number, for Hendrick it is. Its last win came at Kansas Speedway (by Jimmie Johnson), site of Sunday race. That's the longest drought Hendrick has had since the end of 2002 and the beginning of 2003 when it went 15 races without a win. Coincidentally, that streak began after a Kansas win as well. Rick Hendrick has attended all 13 races since then but hasn't been able to celebrate his organization's 200th win in NASCAR's premier series. Hendrick holds more wins than any other owner at Kansas with four.(NASCAR)(4-18-2012)
UPDATE: Hendrick Motorsports will reach and surpass its 3,000th Cup start when its teams line up for Sunday's race at Kansas. The organization, which is the first to reach the start milestone in Cup history, will leave Kansas with 3,003 career starts.(HMS)(4-19-20012)
Special NASCAR Unites schemes to run UPDATES & Images: as part of the NASCAR Foundation's NASCAR Unites program, a few drivers will run special paint schemes at various races including #47-Bobby Labonte, #48-Jimmie Johnson, #55-Mark Martin, #56-Martin Truex Jr. and #99-Carl Edwards at Charlotte in May;
#2-Brad Keselowski (no image), #29-Kevin Harvick (no image) and #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr. at Charlotte in May and Daytona in July;
#16-Greg Biffle at Michigan in June. See links to the images of the schemes on the Paint Scheme Gallery page.(4-9-2012)
UPDATE: NASCAR announced the launch of "NASCAR Unites - An American Salute," a patriotic initiative uniting the NASCAR industry and fans this summer to celebrate America and support U.S. military families. NASCAR Nation will be covered from head to toe - and from splitter to spoiler - in red, white and blue to highlight the summer season, starting and ending at two traditionally patriotic summer NASCAR events held at Charlotte Motor Speedway (Memorial Day Weekend, May 26-27) and Daytona International Speedway (Independence Day Weekend, July 5-7). Additional activities related to the six-week initiative will take place between these "tent-pole" events, including retail programs and other sponsor promotions.
To launch the initiative, the "NASCAR Unites - An American Salute" paint scheme for Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s #88 National Guard Hendrick Motorsports Chevy was revealed today in the nation's capital for more than 30,000 children and their guests attending the 134th Annual Easter Egg Roll event at the White House.
Among those NASCAR drivers already committed to "NASCAR Unites - An American Salute" paint schemes are Earnhardt, 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion #14-Tony Stewart, #16-Greg Biffle, Danica Patrick, #2-Brad Keselowski and #99-Carl Edwards. As part of the program, NASCAR and The NASCAR Foundation will work with charities to fund initiatives that support military families. A social media promotion utilizing a #NASCARUnites hashtag will highlight track activations as well as patriotic activities from teams, broadcast partners and sponsors.(NASCAR)
AND In the Nationwide Series, #88-Cole Whitt, will run in the Kentucky race in June and #7-Danica Patrick will run in the Nationwide race at the Daytona race in July. See images of the cars on the #7 NNS team paint schemes and #88 NNS paint schemes page.(4-9-2012)
Hendrick Motorsports retires #48 Daytona car: In case you're wondering whether Chad Knaus and Jimmie Johnson will bring the infamous C-post Daytona 500 car to Talladega Superspeedway next month, let me help. No. Team owner Rick Hendrick told [ESPN's David Newton] on Sunday at Martinsville Speedway the #48 car that NASCAR deemed illegal, the one that cost him 30 days of "hell'' fighting the penalties, will be laid to rest in the woods surrounding Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s property in Cleveland County, N.C. It'll be in Junior's car graveyard with the mangled #42 that Juan Pablo Montoya drove into a jet dryer to cause a two-hour delay in the Daytona 500 and more than 50 other cars Earnhardt calls "yard ornaments." So is this an admission that the car was illegal, even though chief appellate officer John Middlebrook overturned the 25-point deduction for Johnson and six-week suspensions to crew chief Knaus and car chief Ron Malec? No. Hendrick's just not willing to test the governing body and possibly create another 30 days of turmoil.(ESPN)(4-6-2012)
Gordon-Earnhardt Jr. are OK with each other after Bristol incident: from a Team Chevy Driver(s) Press Conference Transcript, in part. Both #24-Jeff Gordon and #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr. were asked about the incident between them at Bristol Motor Speedway last week when the #88 got into the #24 which cut down a tire and crashed late in the race:
Q) DID YOU TALK OR TEXT WITH JEFF (GORDON) AT ALL ABOUT LAST WEEK (BRISTOL RACE)?
Earnhardt Jr,: "We talked and I feel pretty good about how that went. We should have no problem going forward. It was an unfortunate situation, especially for him. I'm sure it stings a little bit for him and the team. We will just see."
Q) WHEN SOMETHING AS 'FREAKY' AS THAT HAPPENS, DO YOU LOOK BACK AT THE REPLAYS AND SEE WHAT IN THE WORLD DID THAT? BECAUSE YOU SAID THE CONTACT WAS NOT THAT MUCH.
Earnhardt Jr,: "It was just a freak situation and you kind of got to remember that, you know, and not really beat yourself up too much about it. Jeff (Gordon) has a good reputation in this sport. I've got a lot of respect and enjoy being his teammate. I've learned a lot from him even before we were teammates, just racing him over the years. He has been here a long time and I think we will be able to race each other without any problems. I think he respects me and I respect him. We will be able to move forward without any problems."
Q) HAVE YOU SPOKEN WITH DALE EARNHARDT JR. FOLLOWING BRISTOL AND WHAT WAS THE CONVERSATION?:
Gordon: "You know, he reached out to me. It was just a strange situation that happened where we were racing hard, racing for position after a restart and he definitely got into me, but you could do that 100 times and go on about your business, but in this particular case the tailpipe just lined up perfectly on the left rear. Really to me that is the much bigger issue than the contact between me and Junior. I don't understand why the tailpipes are even capable of getting to the left rear tire. If that happens at a big, fast speedway then that's a much bigger incident than what that was. I'd like to see that addressed. We talked and I've got respect for Dale and I know he has that for me as well. We enjoy being teammates and we I think learned a little bit from that situation about when the time to race hard is and when it isn't."
Q) DO YOU LOOK BACK ON LAST WEEK AND WONDER WHY THAT HAD TO HAPPEN WITH YOUR TEAMMATE?:
Gordon: "Yeah, I mean when you're at Bristol, especially on the restarts when there's a big difference in the handling of cars at the beginning of a restart. Some guys' cars take off good, some are better five laps into a run, some are better 25 laps into a run and my car was one of those cars that was better the longer that we went. Junior's was pretty good on the short runs right then. To me, that's when a lot of us would get side-by-side and I think that you're always questioning why one person is racing you at that point as hard as they are. Sometimes you're racing hard to protect the position because you think your car is going to come in and other times you're racing hard because you know your car is really good right then and you want to get the position. That's all it was. It didn't have anything to do with teammates. We were just racing hard for position. I think it got a little bit more attention because it was teammates and for us, looking back on it and it makes our Tuesday meetings a little more interesting. I think if that's for the win or for the position at the end of the race then hey, we get it. I think we both agreed that it wasn't probably the best thing to do as teammates that early into a restart with 200 laps to go."(Team Chevy)(3-24-2012)
Dale Jr. takes responsibilty for wreck with Jeff Gordon: #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr. talks about his incident with teammate #24-Jeff Gordon at Birstol Motor Speedway, from a Chevy Racing post race transcipt in part:
Q: YOU SAID ON YOUR RADIO THAT YOU FELT RESPONSIBLE FOR WHAT HAPPENED WITH JEFF GORDON BLOWING A TIRE. HE SAID IT WAS ONE OF THOSE RACING THINGS:
Earmhardt Jr.: "I absolutely feel responsible. I got into his door a little bit. We were racing and having a good time, to be honest with you. I put the pipes up against the left rear tire of his car, and knocked the side wall out of it. I hate...I feel bad about that. I'm going to have to do some damage control this week. I know Jeff understands what was going on out there, but his boys work real hard on their car, and they had a good run going. They had a potential win, or good finish going too; and they deserve it. I hate what happened to Jeff (Gordon). We were racing really hard. It was fun. If there is a track where you can lean on each other a little bit then this ought to be the place. We just barely rubbed down the back straight-a-way."
Q: I HEARD YOU SAY (ON THE RADIO) 'I DIDN'T GET INTO HIM MUCH':
Earmhardt Jr.:"Well you showed it on TV. I'm sure some people might have thought that was a hard hit. That to me was good hard racing. The (tail) pipes on my car cut the left-rear tire down. I feel terrible about that happening to my teammate. Those guys work really hard and they were running good and happy with their car I'm sure. But, there are four of us out there we are bound to race each other and run into each other every once in a while. Otherwise I'm just frustrated about the finish, but we did run good. We run better than we run here last year. We run really good pretty much everywhere except for Phoenix. Things are looking up for our team."
Q: HOW MUCH REPAIR WORK ARE YOU GOING TO HAVE TO DO WITH JEFF GORDON?
Earmhardt Jr.: "I'll just have to sit down and talk to him and see where he's at. I've got to own up to my responsibility in the situation, which I will, and go from there."
After running near the front of the field the majority of the race, #88-Dale Earnhardt, Jr., had to settle for the 15th finishing position when a late-race pit road speeding penalty put him deep in the running order.(Chevy Racing)(3-19-2012)
Earnhardt Jr. has Montoya's Daytona 500 Car: A (mangled) piece of racing history has landed in the woods surrounding Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s property in Cleveland, N.C. Thanks to a familiar connection, NASCAR's most popular driver recently acquired the destroyed Juan Pablo Montoya's #42 Chevy that famously slammed into a jet dryer under caution during the Feb. 27 Daytona 500. Collecting crashed race cars is a hobby of Earnhardt's, and the latest addition is the only one that's caused a fiery on-track explosion and a two-hour delay in NASCAR's biggest race. And when Earnhardt found it through Chris Heroy, a former Hendrick Motorsports engineer who is the first-year crew chief for Montoya, he jumped on getting it imprecisely added to his car graveyard, adjacent to his backyard replica Western town known as Whisky River.(USA Today)(3-10-2012)
Congrats Kelley Earnhardt Miller: JR Motorsports co-owner Kelley Earnhardt Miller gave birth to a baby boy Thursday afternoon. Wyatt Wayne Miller was born at 1:43 p.m. and weighed 8 pounds, 13 ounces and measured 19.5 inches, according to a post on the team co-owner's Facebook fan page. Mother and son are doing well. It is the third child - the first son - for the daughter of seven-time Cup champion Dale Earnhardt. Kelley Earnhardt Miller manages the career of brother Dale Earnhardt Jr. and oversees day-to-day operations of the JR Motorsports two-car Nationwide organization. This is the first child for Kelley and her husband, Modified driver L.W. Miller, who were married in January 2011.(SceneDaily)(2-17-2012)
France talks NASCAR Issues: NASCAR CEO Brian France recently sat down for an interview with Broadcasting & Cable that covered a variety of subjects:
You say you're pretty aggressive about what your TV partners need to do for NASCAR. What do you want from them?
We are always the sport that is under-covered given the ratings and size of the events. In particular, ESPN. They just have so many platforms. So we are pushing real hard with them to have a more integrated approach. We have hired people to service them better, so we can help them accomplish that. They have the most assets to be deployed; it doesn't mean everyone else doesn't have some big ones and good ones. We are going to work to make them a better partner.
Your TV deals are up in 2014, but when do your negotiating windows open with your current partners?
Not for a little while, but we are having conversations, because a lot of our partners have been clear they would prefer to renew. All things being equal, our first hope is that the incumbents do renew. . . I think [talks] could heat up at any time, that's my sense. It's not cold now, we are having conversations, my sense is things will happen sooner rather than later, and sooner than they normally would in a cycle of renewals.
Are you going to change the post-season Chase format?
I think I'd be shot if I changed the format, frankly. We are not going to change the format.
How much does it hurt that Dale Earnhardt Jr., your most marketable driver, doesn't win races?
It hurts. It hurts. He is trying to win and get his team to have the confidence to not only win one but rip off more. He did improve and made the Chase, he's a big franchise, he's the most popular driver in NASCAR, so it would help us if he would win.
Everyone talks about creating superstars, but does your sport need villains?
I think some version of a villain, yeah. I think you need people that no one cheers for, I think that's healthy. But there are limits to that. It's great when there is someone that acts different, has a little bit of bravado, that typically is good.(Broadcasting & Cable)(1-18-2012)
Team cap would prevent Earnhardt, Jr. from operating Cup team: Whenever there was talk about JR Motorsports possibly moving to Sprint Cup, team officials noted that not only would Rick Hendrick have to divest his interest in the team because of NASCAR's four-team cap, but possibly so would Dale Earnhardt Jr. NASCAR President Mike Helton confirmed that Friday at Daytona International Speedway, saying that if a driver owns a team but drives for another organization, then the total number of cars for both organizations counts toward the four-team cap. With Hendrick Motorsports already having four cars, Earnhardt Jr. cannot own a non-Hendrick Cup car. JR Motorsports is owned by Earnhardt Jr., Hendrick, Kelley Earnhardt and Tony Eury Jr. Earnhardt Jr. signed a contract extension with Hendrick last year. "It comes down to any attachments to more than four cars. ... Dale Jr. with JR Motorsports, he drives for a four-car team, so a driver from a four-car organization can't fill a car," Helton said. "That would be considered a fifth car. Helton addressed the issue after Michael Waltrip expressed interest in competing in the Daytona 500 but possibly with another organization. Waltrip said earlier this week that if he wanted to drive for another organization, he would have to do it with a single-car team because he already owns three Cup cars.(Scene Daily)(1-14-2012)
Kenseth loses bet with Dale Jr.: Matt Kenseth grew a beard during the offseason-and it cost him. At Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s 1970s-themed New Year's Eve party, Kenseth was sporting a Fu Manchu and mutton-chop sideburns. Earnhardt bet Kenseth he wouldn't keep the beard through this week's Preseason Thunder test sessions at Daytona. Through a series of subsequent text messages between the drivers, the ante grew to $2,500. "I was actually going to (keep the beard), and it looked really stupid, but I hate losing any money, and he kept upping the money and upping the money until finally I said, 'OK.' I checked first to make sure I didn't have any photos, and then I get a call saying that I had a photo shoot here and an interview there--and anyway I guess I lost. "Although technically this should count," Kenseth added, stroking the stubble on his chin. "It is three days old." That's not the way Earnhardt sees it. "He shaved his beard," Earnhardt said. "You guys can remind him. I told him to go to the bank, but maybe he forgot. "I want my $2,500."(NASCAR.com)(1-12-2012)
Frye ends up at Hendrick UPDATE: Hearing that former Red Bull Racing General Manager and Vice President Jay Frye is now working at Hendrick Motorsports as a consultant in a variety of roles.(1-4-2012)
UPDATE: Jay Frye and Rick Hendrick have been friends since the 1980s, when Frye was a rep for first Budweiser and then Valvoline, and Hendrick was an ambitious car dealer trying to gain a toehold in NASCAR. So when Red Bull Racing closed its doors at the end of 2011, it made sense that Frye, the former team's vice president and general manager, would turn to Hendrick. On Wednesday, Hendrick Motorsports announced that Frye will work with the team as a consultant for 2012, focusing on business development. "Jay is one of the most well-connected people in the sport, and he's going to be a great resource to help develop strong partnerships," said Marshall Carlson, president of Hendrick Motorsports. "We've known him for a long time, so there's an immense level of trust and respect between us. The opportunity to work with Jay again and have the benefit of his experience is something we're excited about." In NASCAR parlance, "business development" means helping the team find sponsorship and build relationship with sponsors. Frye's long friendship with Hendrick, as well as his familiarity with former Red Bull driver Kasey Kahne should benefit the team hugely in that department.(SPEED)(1-5-2012)
Evernham settles lawsuit with Gillett: Ray Evernham has settled his lawsuit against George Gillett over money owed from the 2007 sale of his Sprint Cup organization. Evernham, the former owner of Evernham Motorsports and a three-time Cup champion as the crew chief for Jeff Gordon at Hendrick Motorsports, was seeking $19 million from Gillett. The case was settled outside of court and dismissed last week. No details of the settlement were released.(ESPN)(1-3-2012)
2011 Sponsor Schedule:
Bud Shootout, 2/12, National Guard
Daytona, 2/20, AMP Energy
Phoenix, 2/27, National Guard
Las Vegas, 3/6, AMP Energy
Bristol, 3/20, National Guard
Auto Club, 3/27, AMP Energy
Martinsville, 4/3, AMP Energy
Texas, 4/9, AMP Energy
Talladega, 4/17, National Guard
Richmond, 4/30, National Guard
Darlington, 5/7, AMP Energy
Dover, 5/15, AMP Energy
All-Star Race, 5/21, Dale Jr. Foundation VH1 Save The Music
Charlotte, 5/29, National Guard
Kansas, 6/5, AMP Energy
Pocono, 6/12, National Guard
Michigan, 6/19, AMP Energy
Infineon, 6/26, AMP Energy
Daytona, 7/2, National Guard Heritage
Kentucky, 7/9, Mountain Dew Retro
New Hampshire, 7/17, National Guard
Indianapolis, 7/31, AMP Energy
Pocono, 8/7, AMP Energy
Watkins Glen. 8/14, National Guard
Michigan, 8/21, National Guard
Bristol, 8/27, AMP Energy/50th BMS anniversary
Atlanta, 9/4, National Guard / Military Intelligence
Richmond, 9/10, AMP Energy
Chicago, 9/18, AMP Energy
New Hampshire, 9/25, AMP Energy
Dover, 10/2, National Guard
Kansas, 10/9, National Guard
Charlotte, 10/15, AMP Energy
Talladega, 10/23, AMP Energy
Martinsville, 10/30, AMP Energy
Texas, 11/6, National Guard
Phoenix, 11/13, AMP Energy
Homestead, 11/20, National Guard
Dale Jr. to flip the coin at Bowl game: #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr. is scheduled to perform the opening coin toss at the TaxSlayer.com Gator Bowl next Monday, Jan. 2, 2012 at 1 pm/et on ESPN2. The Florida Gators will face off against the Ohio State Buckeyes.(Dale Jr Facebook)(12-29-2011)
AMP returns to #88 at Martinsville: #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr. is scheduled to run a green AMP Energy paint scheme on the #88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevy at Martinsville in April and supposedly run a slightly different version for three races later in the season. AMP Energy has been the primary sponsor for the #88 since Earnhardt Jr. started driving the car. In 2012, the #88's primary sponsors will be Diet Mountain Dew and the Army National Guard. See an image of the scheme on my #88 Team Schemes page.(12-28-2011)
Earnhardt Jr. Wins Ninth Straight Most Popular Driver Award: Junior Nation has spoken once again. Fans of Dale Earnhardt Jr. voted the Sprint Cup Series driver the NASCAR NMPA Most Popular Driver for the ninth straight year. Earnhardt Jr. earned the award after receiving the most online fan votes among all eligible drivers throughout the 2011 racing season. The trophy was presented by award sponsor Wheaties FUEL to Earnhardt Jr. at the National Motorsports Press Association's Myers Brothers ceremony Thursday in Las Vegas.
Fans cast nearly 1.5 million total votes throughout the 2011 campaign, voting up to once per day for their favorite driver at www.WheatiesFuelMostPopularDriver.com. The field was narrowed to 10 finalists and the vote counts were reset to zero for the final 10 races of the season. The nine other finalists were (in alphabetical order): Kyle Busch, Carl Edwards, Jeff Gordon, Kevin Harvick, Jimmie Johnson, Kasey Kahne, Matt Kenseth, Bobby Labonte and Tony Stewart.
"It's a big honor. My fans have been real supportive throughout my career," Earnhardt Jr. said. "This has been a little bit of a turnaround year from the last couple of years, and we want to keep getting better on the racetrack and give our fans what they expect. We've got a lot of momentum going into 2012, and I'm proud to accept this award on behalf of all the fans who voted." Bill Elliott holds the record for most consecutive Most Popular Driver wins with 10, and he also holds the record for total wins with 16. He removed himself from voting after earning the honor the 16th time. "Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s fans showcase the passion NASCAR drivers can instill," said Rea White, president of the National Motorsports Press Association. "The NMPA appreciates all the fans who vote to make this award an important part of NASCAR." Since 1956, the NASCAR NMPA Most Popular Driver Award, now sponsored by Wheaties FUEL, has recognized NASCAR's most beloved Sprint Cup driver. The award has been won by champions such as Dale Earnhardt, Bobby Allison, Richard Petty and Darrell Waltrip. It is still the only NASCAR award determined solely by the fans. The contest once was decided by a poll among the drivers taken at the end of the season. Later, only the press was able to vote for the winner. Today, race fans from all over the world make the ultimate decision. General Mills became involved with the award in 2001 and today the Wheaties FUEL brand is the presenting sponsor.(Breaking Limits)(12-1-2011)
Rick Hendrick talks to media: Rick Hendrick held a teleconference Monday and discussed a wide variety of issues:
About Darian Grubb:
A: I have had discussions with Darian. When he left (at the end of 2008), we told him we'd always have a place for him if he wanted to come back. Darian is a very smart guy. I know he's entertaining a lot of offers out there. We don't have a crew chief role. We have an engineering role that we think Darian would be really good in. But at the end of the day it's got to be what Darian wants to do. I know he is close to all of our people and our guys are close to him. We'd love to have him back in the organization, but I quite honestly don't know where he's going to end up. We would like to have him, but whether or not he's going to decide he wants to be in the role we've offered him or he wants to do something somewhere else, I'm just not sure.
Crew chiefs for 2012:
A: Yes. [All teams will have the] Same crew chief-driver combination.
The plane wreck:
A: We were going into Key West (Fla.), and some kind of failure with the brakes, and we went off the end of the runway. Of course, you don't remember everything exactly how it happened, but somehow, my seat belt was on, and something came lose in the seat itself. I hit the bulkhead and my wife. I think my chest and head went into the seat in front of me, and that's where I got my (broken) ribs and had a concussion. Broke four ribs and my clavicle. We were very fortunate. We were glad that it wasn't any worse than it was. We're healing up, and we don't have any of the answers yet on exactly what happened there, but a lot of smart people are involved, so we'll get that figured out here pretty soon, I hope.(Chevy PR)(11-29-2011)
Dale Jr. has no problem with the #3 being used: #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr., recently met with members of the media at Homestead-Miami Speedway and discussed a few topics, including Austin Dillon in the #3 and the history of the number, from the transcript in part:
Q) RICHARD CHILDRESS TELLS US THAT HE ASKED YOU AND (SISTER) KELLEY IF IT WOULD BE ALL RIGHT IF HIS GRANDSON RAN THE #3 IN THE NATIONWIDE SERIES NEXT YEAR. WHAT WOULD YOU SAY IF IN THREE OR FOUR YEARS HE SAID HE WANTED TO MOVE AUSTIN DILLON UP TO SPRINT CUP RACING AND HE'D LIKE TO TAKE THAT #3. WOULD YOU BE COOL WITH THAT?
Earnhardt Jr. "Yeah, I would. Austin has ran that number and I'm not real sure; I just look at it differently. I don't look at the numbers tied to drivers as much as just the history of the number. The number is more of a bank, you know, that you just deposit history into. It doesn't really belong to any individual. Austin's ran that number and you can't really deny him the opportunity to continue to run it. It just wouldn't be fair. Dad (Dale Earnhardt Sr.) did great things. He was a great ambassador for the sport and we're still as a whole, reaping the benefits of all he accomplished and what he did that put us in front of a lot of people. But even before that, the number was Richard's. Richard drove it. And someone else drove it before then. There's a lot of guys in the fifties and sixties that ran that number with success. So the number is really kind of like a bank and you deposit history into and they don't really belong to the individuals. It's iconic when you put the colors and the style with it; it's a little bit iconic to the sport. Austin is a good kid, He seems to have a great appreciation for what's happening to him and what's going on around him. And I would be happy if he wanted to keep doing that. He kind of had to know when he first started to run that number if he got this far into the deal, he would have to cross a few bridges like that and that was a tough decision I guess at first to start running the number for him; knowing what kind of pressures he might face down the road. But I think it would be fine by me for him to do that. I think that it's got to get back on the race track one of these days. It just can't be gone forever you know?"(Team Chevy)(11-20-2011)
Dale Earnhardt Jr. to take part in Daytona EFI test: NASCAR has scheduled a special test for Nov. 15 at Daytona International Speedway to find ways to eliminate the two-car drafting that has become prevalent at restrictor-plate tracks. Six to eight teams will be in attendance and NASCAR spokesman Kerry Tharp said the teams will work on a variety of combinations of restrictor plates and spoilers to give teams a good baseline package to bring back for the preseason test in January. Among the drivers participating will be #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr. and one other driver from Hendrick Motorsports. "Apparently, they put this test together last minute for a reason," Earnhardt said on Tuesday from the NASCAR Hall of Fame. "We'll go down there and they'll let us know exactly what they're wanting to do, what they're trying to accomplish, what they're trying to try. I want to be able to give them the best feedback I can to give them the solutions they're looking for so that we can, with confidence, go into Daytona in February and expect to put together a great show for the fans that will be there and that will be watching on TV." Earnhardt expects much of the emphasis to be on running with a smaller spoiler, which several drivers said made the two-car draft more difficult during a recent fuel injection test at Talladega Superspeedway.(ESPN)(11-9-2011)
Rick Hendrick released from hospital: According to Hendrick Motorsports, "Happy to report Mr. Hendrick is now resting at home. He was released from the hospital [Monday] afternoon.(11-8-2011)
NTSB issues preliminary report on Hendrick plane crash: The plane carrying Hendrick Motorsports owner Rick Hendrick and his wife, Linda, crossed a 600-foot overrun, impacted the far side of a ditch, crossed a dirt road, cleared another ditch and came to a stop 820 feet from the departure end of the runway when the brakes failed Monday in Key West, according to the National Transportation Safety Board. The NTSB preliminary report, released Thursday evening, said the Gulfstream G150, manufactured by Israel Aircraft Industries, sustained "substantial damage" after it lost its brakes and the nose landing gear collapsed. The flight originated in Stuart, Fla., at 7 p.m. and the accident happened at 7:40 p.m. The NTSB will continue its investigation and considers all of its current findings "preliminary" until its investigation is complete.(Scene Daily)(10-5-2011)
"Trained by Tradition" scheme for the #88: Dale Earnhardt Jr. will run a camouflaged #88 National Guard "Trained by Tradition"/AMP Energy Chevy this weekend in Texas. The National Guard is honoring the men and women who joined in one of the career fields identified in the "Trained by Tradition" campaign between July 1 and Sept. 28 by featuring their names on the #88 Chevy this weekend in Texas.(Hendrick Motorsports)(11-3-2011)
Rick Hendrick's plane runs off runway: UPDATES: Early Monday evening, a Gulfstream G150 aircraft operated by Hendrick Motorsports ran off the runway after experiencing braking issues upon landing at Key West International Airport in Key West, Fla. There were no serious injuries to any of the four people on board, including two pilots, Hendrick Motorsports owner Rick Hendrick and his wife, Linda Hendrick. All four were taken to a local hospital for evaluation. Hendrick Motorsports is gathering additional information on the incident.(Hendrick Motorsports)(10-31-2011)
UPDATE: A private G150 Gulfstream jet containing four people missed the runway while landing at Key West International Airport and ran into the salt ponds at 7:45 p.m. No one was seriously injured. The airplane was co-owned by Jimmie Johnson Racing II Inc. and Hendrick Motorsports LLC of Charlotte, N.C. Some officials said it did not appear that the NASCAR driver was on board, but that has not been officially confirmed. Everyone was taken by ambulance to Lower Keys Medical Center for evaluation. Only two complained of injuries: one for neck pain and one for shortness of breath/heart palpitations, according to Monroe County Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Deputy Becky Herrin. There were two pilots and two passengers, but it was unclear who was injured. The airport was closed for about an hour, but has reopened. Some fuel spilled, but it was unknown how much. (Key West News)
AND Jenna Fryer, of the Associated Press, posted a photo from the sheriff's office.(10-31-2011)
UPDATE 2: A small jet carrying the owner of NASCAR's top team and his wife lost its brakes and crash landed at a Key West, Fla., airport Monday evening, and the couple suffered minor injuries, officials said. According to the Monroe County Sheriff's Office, the pilot and co-pilot radioed that the plane had no brakes upon landing in Key West. Horton said the plane ran off the runway, and then 100 feet beyond a 600-foot safety area that was finished in May. "If we hadn't done that, it likely would have been a different story," Horton said of the safety area that is meant as a runway overrun space. The National Transportation and Safety Board will investigate the cause of the crash.(Associated Press/ESPN)(11-1-2011)
UPDATE 3: All four people on board - Hendrick Motorsports owner Rick Hendrick, his wife, Linda Hendrick, and two Hendrick Motorsports pilots - were released from Lower Keys Medical Center early Tuesday morning. Rick Hendrick was diagnosed with a broken rib and a broken clavicle, and Linda Hendrick was treated for minor cuts and bruises. Both pilots were evaluated and released without injury. All four have safely returned to North Carolina. The aircraft, which is joint-owned by Hendrick Motorsports and Jimmie Johnson Racing, remains in Key West.(Hendrick Motorsports)(11-1-2011)
UPDATE 4: Upon returning home to Charlotte, N.C., on Tuesday, Mr. Hendrick was further evaluated as a precautionary measure by his personal physician. He was diagnosed with four broken ribs (previously stated as one broken rib), a broken clavicle (as previously stated) and bruising. No other injuries have been identified. Due to discomfort from the injuries, Mr. Hendrick was admitted Tuesday afternoon to a medical facility in the Charlotte area, where doctors believe the pain can most effectively be managed. He is in good spirits and is expected to be released by the end of the week.
Rick Hendrick, owner of Hendrick Motorsports: "Linda and I have been overwhelmed by all the words of encouragement and genuine concern we've received. We are blessed to have such a wonderful support system, and our family is extremely grateful for the thoughts and prayers. We extend our sincere thanks to everyone. I'm so proud of how our pilots handled the situation, and we're extremely appreciative of the folks in Key West who went above and beyond to help us. It's good to be back in Charlotte as we regroup and focus on our family."(Hendrick Motorsports)(11-2-2011)
Lucky Fan Receives Keys to Earnhardt Jr.'s 2011 Chevy Camaro: Gale Fontaine has worked at the Roanoke, Va., Department of Motor Vehicles for 31 years. But because of a single $25 raffle ticket she purchased as part of the "Win Dale Jr.'s Ride" promotion, the vehicle she now drives is the envy of most motorists who visit her workplace on a daily basis. Fontaine's ticket was randomly selected among thousands, making her the new owner of the 2011 Chevrolet Camaro SS that Earnhardt Jr. drove off the line at the General Motors plant in Oshawa, Ontario, Canada. She arrived with her husband, Carle, at JR Motorsports last Tuesday to take ownership of her grand prize. What she did not expect was that it would be Earnhardt Jr. himself handing over the keys. The "Win Dale Jr.'s Ride" promotion raised more than $144,000. A large part will be devoted to help combat child hunger. David Kelsoe of Alvin, Texas won the runner-up prize, which includes roundtrip airfare for two and admission to The Dale Jr. Foundation's "Driven To Give" event hosted by Jeff Foxworthy on Oct. 17 in Charlotte, N.C. Deborah Claycamp from Jefferson, Ind., won a VIP package to the Dollar General 300 NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Oct. 14.(JR Motorsports)(10-7-2011)
the 2012 #88 Diet Mountain Dew / National Guard scheme was unveiled today [Sept 21st] on ESPN's SportsCenter at 1:40pm/et. See images of the car and other 2012 schemes on the Paint Scheme Gallery and/or 2012 Paint Schemes page.
Diet Mt. Dew replacing Amp on Earnhart, Jr's car: Four years after making waves in NASCAR by signing on as the primary sponsor of Dale Earnhardt Jr., Amp Energy is phasing its brand off the car of the sport's most popular driver. PepsiCo is expected to announce this week that Diet Mountain Dew will replace its Amp Energy brand as Earnhardt's primary sponsor for 16 races in 2012. The company has the primary sponsorship rights for 20 total races on the #88 car, and Amp will serve as an associate sponsor while also appearing on the hood for the other four races. The shift is a major downsizing in the sponsorship between Amp, an upstart energy drink, and Earnhardt, the sport's biggest driver. Pepsi, which owns Amp and Mountain Dew, has one year left on its contract with Earnhardt and Hendrick Motorsports, and the company's executives believe that Diet Mountain Dew, which is one of the fastest-growing soft drinks, stands to benefit more from Earnhardt than Amp. Pepsi and Hendrick Motorsports are expected this week to unveil a new paint scheme for the #88 car for next year's Daytona 500.(Sports Business Journal)(9-19-2011)
HMS teams running 9/11 decals at Richmond: In remembrance of Sept. 11, all four Hendrick Motorsports Chevys will carry a special decal at Richmond. The black, white and gray decal features the phrase, "Never Forget 9.11 2001-2011" and will be placed on the roof near each driver's name on the car: #5-Martin, #24-Gordon, #48-Johnson & #88-Earnhardt Jr.(HMS)(9-9-2011)
Special scheme for Dale Jr. at Atlanta: This weekend Dale Earnhardt Jr. will drive a blue-and-white #88 National Guard Military Intelligence/AMP Energy Chevy. Today's Military Intelligence professionals are highly trained soldiers who provide their commanders with relevant intelligence and electronic warfare support. Working behind the scenes, these soldiers can be tasked to research and analyze information on almost any topic, interview enemy combatants or interpret the foreign languages spoken on the battlefield. Visit www.NationalGuard.com/TrainedbyTradition and search "Military Intelligence" to learn more.(HMS), see an image of the scheme on the #88 Team Schemes page.(9-2-2011)
Dale Jr. re-signs with Hendrick thru 2017: Hendrick Motorsports and driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. have agreed to a five-year contract extension that will keep Earnhardt behind the wheel of the #88 Chevys through the end of the 2017 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season. "We're excited to have everything formalized and announced," said Rick Hendrick, owner of Hendrick Motorsports. "Junior and I had a handshake agreement months ago, and we let other people work out the finer points from there. It was as simple and smooth as it gets. My feelings haven't changed since the day he first signed with us. I'm committed as ever to putting him in the best possible situation to be successful and compete for wins and championships."
Earnhardt, 36, has earned 18 Sprint Cup race wins since joining the circuit full-time in 2000. The Kannapolis, N.C., native has won the Daytona 500, the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race and two Nationwide Series championships. In NASCAR's national touring series, he has a combined 41 points-paying victories. "It's great to have it all wrapped up so quickly and far in advance," said Earnhardt, who currently is ninth in the Sprint Cup standings. "Rick and I were on the same page from the first time we talked about it, so there wasn't any sense in waiting. There were never any questions or hesitations from either of us. It was just, 'Yeah, let's do it.' I'm really happy at Hendrick Motorsports and enjoy working with everyone here. The team's been very competitive this season, and we're all excited about the direction of things. I want to make sure we're giving our fans something to cheer about for a long time." Earnhardt originally signed with Hendrick Motorsports in June 2007 for the 2008 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season. That contract was set to expire at the end of 2012.(Hendrick Motorsports)(9-1-2011)
Earnhardt Jr. expects contract extension in "next few days": #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr. said he expects to have the extension of his NASCAR Sprint Cup contract with Hendrick Motorsports completed in the next few days. "I feel pretty good where I am at and really happy who I am working with," Earnhardt said. "You have to be comfortable in your work environment, and I feel good with the people that I'm around. I trust (team owner) Rick (Hendrick). My sister (Kelley Earnhardt), who's a bit of my business manager, she gets along with everybody working there. They're working through a new contract, and all that stuff should be done in the next few days." The new contract is expected to be for five years, which would carry Earnhardt through the 2017 season. The driver affectionately known as Junior would be 43 at the end of that term.(Fox Sports)(8-29-2011)
Evernham returning to NASCAR garage: Former championship-winning crew chief and Sprint Cup Series team owner Ray Evernham told Sirius XM NASCAR Radio's Sirius Speedway with Dave Moody that he will return to the NASCAR garage next season in an unofficial capacity with Hendrick Motorsports. Evernham has spent this season away from the NASCAR garage, working as a consultant for the Hendrick Companies overseeing strategic initiatives for Hendrick's auto dealerships and aftermarket retail business, while driving his own Sprint Car in a limited schedule of events, He said his driving career could come to an end in the near future, however, as he transitions back to NASCAR in 2013. "I've got six or seven more Sprint Car races before the end of the year, then I'm probably going to have to make a decision about how much I'm going to race next year," said Evernham. "I'd like to get back to the (NASCAR) race track more in 2012, so I think my Sprint car racing is going to suffer." Evernham said he has no desire to return to the crew chief ranks, saying his role will be unofficial and undefined. "I will have no real official capacity, other than being a part of Hendrick Motorsports," he said.(Sirius-Speedway)(8-24-2011)
Dale Jr. protests finishing spot, but loses appeal: #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr. was adamant that he should have finished 14th instead of 15th in Monday's Sprint Cup race at Watkins Glen International. NASCAR didn't agree. After protesting the order of finish for nearly 15 minutes, Earnhardt emerged from the NASCAR hauler giving the thumbs down signal to crew chiefs for Ryan Newman, David Ragan and Brian Vickers, who also questioned the results. The biggest issue was whether Richard Childress Racing driver Clint Bowyer improved his position after the caution flag came out on the final lap to secure Marcos Ambrose's first Cup win. NASCAR officials told Earnhardt that Bowyer did not improve his position and awarded him 11th. Earnhardt, who is fighting to stay in the top 10 in points, stayed at 15th. "I thought the 33 (Bowyer) was in the accident and that we should be positioned in front of him,'' Earnhardt said. "Points are points, man. They're real important. But they said he maintained reasonable speed and was positioned to finish in front of me, which I can't argue with them.''(ESPN)(8-16-2011)
Earnhardt, Jr. to drive Bristol 50th Anniversary car: Bristol Motor Speedway amps up its year-long celebration of its 50th anniversary with a specially designed paint scheme featured on the car of NASCAR's most popular driver at the IRWIN Tools Night Race Aug. 27. Dale Earnhardt Jr., helps celebrate the iconic track's 50th anniversary by driving a golden Amp Energy/National Guard car that also features Bristol Motor Speedway's anniversary logo. Earnhardt Jr., who grew up watching his father, Dale Earnhardt, race and win nine times at the World's Fastest Half-Mile, and who swept the weekend races in August of 2004, looks forward to helping Bristol celebrate the special occasion.(BMS), see an image of the car on my #88 team paint schemes page.(8-10-2011)
Earnhardt, Jr. designs Hot Wheels car: Beware of the Hammerhead - no, not the shark, but the new Hot Wheels dream car designed by Dale Earnhardt, Jr. Just in time for back-to-school, Hot Wheels has teamed up with the NASCAR superstar to design his ultimate dream car, along with a corresponding line of licensed apparel. It's the first time the Designed By program has expanded beyond toy to include a line of licensed apparel and accessories for a celebrity-designed lifestyle experience. The "Hammerhead," one of Earnhardt Jr.'s nicknames, features classic '50s hot rod meets '60s muscle car styling - with an edge. The suggested retail price of the vehicle is $1.09 and the clothing line ranges from $7-$12.99, and is available exclusively at Wal-Mart stores nationwide.(Ketchum / Hot Wheels PR)(8-10-2011)
Special scheme for Dale Jr. at Atlanta: #88-Dale Earnhardt is scheduled to race a one-time paint scheme at the September 4 race at Atlanta Motor Speedway to honor the men and women who serve in Military Intelligence, The car features the Military Intelligence logo on the side panels and the "Always Out Front" motto on the hood. See an image of the scheme on the #88 Team Schemes page.(8-5-2011)
Earnhardt Jr. and Hendrick close to extension deal: #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s contract extension with Hendrick Motorsports is expected to be signed within the next 30 days, his team owner, Rick Hendrick, said Wednesday. Hendrick said he and Earnhardt should have an formal contract extension completed within 30 days although he believes it is, for intents and purposes, already done. "It will be a multiyear deal. We haven't been in a hurry because we both have taken it for granted that we're doing it," he said. "It's almost a foregone conclusion. We've been busy and there are a lot of contracts with sponsors. A handshake works with him and he and I have a handshake, and that's all he and I really need."(Charlotte Observer)(8-4-2011)
Hendrick to sponsor Charlotte schools: Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools announced Wednesday a $250,000 sponsorship deal with Hendrick Automotive Group that will allow the district to offer a full slate of middle school sports for 2011-12. CMS had said it would have to curtail the lineup of middle school sports due to budget cuts, but the Hendrick sponsorship, combined with a gift from an unidentified donor, gives the school system enough to pay for the full slate of 13 sports at all 32 middle schools. The agreement designates HendrickCars.com as an official sponsor of CMS athletics. It gives the company naming rights when statistics are announced during breaks at high school sports events, recognition as a title partner in announcements at the end of high school events, and the right to display its signs at middle and high school events. "This doesn't mean student-athletes' uniforms will look like NASCAR cars," said Hendrick Automotive Group chairman Rick Hendrick, who also owns arguably NASCAR's most prominent racing team. "There won't be decals on those uniforms. It will be more like having a sign at the field -- something like that."(Charlotte Observer)(8-4-2011)
Dale Jr. has no idea what Danica's plans will be: #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr. met with members of the media at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and discussed the status of Danica Patrick at JR Motorsports and much more. The transcript in part:
Q) WHERE DO THINGS STAND WITH JR MOTORSPORTS AND DANICA (PATRICK)?
Earnhardt Jr.: "I don't know. I haven't heard anything. I feel confident that she's content where she is and happy with what we're doing and I think things are looking positive for us to put something together. I would like for her to run full time and I'm sure she is considering that and I think she would enjoy it. She seems to really enjoy driving stock cars and racing in the Nationwide Series. We just have to see but I haven't heard anything about it."
Q) HOW WOULD YOU RATE HER PROGESS AS FAR AS TRANSFERRING OVER?
Earnhardt Jr.: "I think she's doing great. She's way ahead of the curve. We've had the opportunity to put several drivers in that car and her performance is right on par with all those drivers. We started out struggling and she had a steep, steep climb to go and she's really come a long, long way. I'm excited about what the potential is with her going forward. I'm really excited about that."(Team Chevy)(7-30-2011)
Hendrick cars to run special Chevy schemes: Hendrick Motorsports has been driving Chevrolets to Victory Lane since 1984. As a salute to Chevrolet's 100th Anniversary, our four race teams will run commemorative paint schemes on Oct. 15. In addition to awarding daily prizes for 100 days straight, HMS is also going to be giving away a 2012 Hendrick Motorsports VIP Racing Experience in Charlotte, N.C., to tour the Hendrick Motorsports facilities, meet your favorite Hendrick Motorsports driver and see a race in-style.(Hendrick Motorsports), see images of the cars on the #5 Team Schemes page, #24 Team Schemes page, #48 Team Schemes page and/or #88 Team Schemes page.(7-28-2011)
Dale Jarrett talks about Dale Jr.: on Tuesday, ESPN held a media conference call to kick off its coverage of the final 17 races of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season, which launches with the Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Sunday, July 31. Analyst Dale Jarrett was asked about #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Q - Dale, I want to ask about among the bigger story lines you'll be focusing on is Junior, as well. How troublesome is it in the big picture for the sport that he's fallen off and risking falling out of the Chase field?
DALE JARRETT: "Well, we'll start with Junior. I thought five weeks ago, six weeks ago that I was really seeing Junior and his race team getting themselves prepared to go to victory lane. I mean, I really felt that they were making strides and gains each week. Exactly what's happened over the last four or five weeks, you get in slumps as a race team just like a hitter in baseball or something, and sometimes it's hard to get out of. You're not exactly sure where to put your finger and to try to turn things around.
It would be beneficial to our sport to have our most popular driver to be a part of the Chase and get in that mix and challenge for wins. It's not that we're not -- nobody is going to make that happen in any way; it's that race team that has to do it. But it sure would be beneficial. You always want, whether it's the Boston Red Sox and the Yankees playing, that's always a big attraction. Well, we have our biggest star; the people that vote for the most popular driver, that's who they choose is Dale, Jr., so yeah, we would like for him to be a part of that. Hopefully they can get that turned around. This is a difficult racetrack when you're struggling to kind of get things turned around, but they're going to have to right their ship very quickly.(in part from an ESPN Media Conference Call Transcript)(7-27-2011)
Earnhardt Jr. wants to stay at HMS: Although #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr., 36, has another year remaining on his deal with Hendrick Motorsports, he didn't want the next contract to become a distraction. That's why he enlisted his sister/confidant/business manager, Kelley, to expedite the process. I'm not in the middle of it," Earnhardt said. "Kelley and Marshall (Carlson, HMS president and Chief Operation Officer) are talking it out. I haven't even been in discussions. I called Rick and I said, 'Let's get this going,' and he said, 'Cool.' I told him, 'I'm going to let Kelley do my end,' and he said, 'I'm going to let Marshall do my end,' and they're handling it. I'm fortunate that I have good people around me that I trust enough to handle those kind of things. I could let Kelley do it from the ground up and not even worry about it, just not even have any questions or doubts. Even when she's finished with everything, I don't go in there and go, 'Man, I would have done this different,' or "I think this number should be different or should be better or worse.' She comes to me and tells me what's going on and I say, 'That sounds great! Keep going,' (laughs). They're obviously one of the best places in the garage - if not THE best team in the garage to be with - and I wouldn't want to be anyplace else. No way." Junior said there's no set timetable to wrap up the contract. He'd just like to have it in place before the end of the season so his concentration remains on competition and not external distractions. He understands firsthand - and from watching other drivers - how disruptive and damaging the uncertainty of a driver's status can be to teams and sponsors. The rumored five year extension would cover Earnhardt until he's 42. "I just want to get it done before we get into the offseason," Earnhardt said. "I have another year to go, but I was sitting there and seeing how Carl (Edwards) and those guys - seeing how much attention it draws to Carl and those guys - and me, when I was in my last contract year. I was like, 'Hey, Rick, let's knock this out and we won't have to worry about it next year. You just tell me what you want to do. If you want to keep me as your driver, I'm happy to stay. I'm really happy where I'm at and if that's the way you feel, let's go ahead and do it. Why wait until next year? 'Cause the press wants to know what's going on and we won't have to worry about that.'" Earnhardt says there is "no pressure" with the current negotiations. Very humbly, he said the decision for him to remain in the Hendrick Motorsports stable was dependent on "Mr. H."(in part from FoxSports and PRN's Garage Pass)(7-11-2011)
Dale Earnhardt Jr. not happy: #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr. was not happy after he finished 18th in Saturday's 400. NASCAR's most popular driver does not like tandem racing, not one bit. "It is weird racing," Earnhardt said. Last week Earnhardt said he didn't like the fact he had to depend on another driver in order to be competitive at Daytona. He would rather have his destiny in his own hands. "What kind of move can you make?" Earnhardt groused. "I mean, man. What kind of move can you make in racing like this? There ain't no move you can make. You just hold it on the mat and try not to wreck into each other. You see how good we are at that." The more questions he was asked about tandem style racing, the more aggravated Earnhardt became. "I don't know what to say," he said. "I don't know. You guys need to get your own opinions and write what you all think about it. I think it is probably pretty damn close to mine. Stop putting my damn mouth with y'all and getting my (butt) in trouble. Y'all write what y'all think, man. Come on, y'all are good. Y'all have an opinion about it. I read y'all's stuff. You put us in the damn crow's nest."(Daytona Beach News Journal)(7-4-2011)
Dale Jr. to carry special scheme at Daytona: Since 2008, the National Guard and the #88 Hendrick Motorsports team of Dale Earnhardt Jr. have run a camouflaged paint scheme for the July race at Daytona International Speedway. The paint scheme honors Independence Day and the men and women who have served in the National Guard. This year's #88 National Guard Heritage/AMP Energy Chevy will continue the tradition by featuring the modern uniform pattern that currently is being issued to Guard Soldiers serving in Afghanistan. The Guard offers many rewards for one's service, like providing excellent educational and financial benefits and paid specialized training in more than 200 career fields (Hendrick Motorsports), see an image of the scheme on the #88 Team Schemes Page.(6-30-2011)
Earnhardt, Jr. contract renewal in final stages: Rick Hendrick said he's down to the final paperwork on signing #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr. to an extension of three to five years. The owner of Hendrick Motorsports isn't sure when the announcement will be made, but he said Earnhardt wants to keep it low-key.(ESPN.com)(6-28-2011)
Kyle Busch is the Most-Mentioned in Sponsor Exposure: Even before his most recent dustup, #18-Kyle Busch had been the center of attention during this year's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series broadcasts. Interviewed longer and mentioned more frequently than any other driver on the circuit during the first 12 event telecasts of 2011, Busch parlayed the spotlight into $28.4 million of exposure value for his sponsors-some $6.5 million more than the next most sponsor-potent driver, #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr.
According to research conducted by Joyce Julius & Associates, Inc. -- which has monitored every NASCAR race telecast over the last 27 seasons -- Busch's sponsors, with logos appearing on his car, uniform and pit crew, etc., were monitored for eight hours, 30 minutes, 39 seconds (8:30:39) during live and replayed coverage of NASCAR's Daytona 500 through last month's Coca-Cola 600. Additionally, Busch and the FOX TV crew verbally mentioned his sponsors on 95 occasions.
Earnhardt Jr.'s cumulative exposure value ranked him second among all drivers with $21.8 million, based on 5.5 hours of on-screen time for his sponsors and 18 brand mentions. The popular driver was third in interview durations (0:13:07), but interestingly, Earnhardt Jr. sat just seventh in total driver mentions (1,140).
Meanwhile, Trevor Bayne, despite starting only eight of the first 12 points races this year, rode the wave of his Daytona 500 win to earn $12.3 million of exposure value for his sponsors, the seventh-most among the drivers. Bayne placed 20th in terms of cumulative sponsor on-camera time and 22nd in driver mentions. (for charts and more, go to Joyce Julius & Associates)(6-15-2011)
Stats a reason for optimism by Earnhardt, Jr.:
There's good reason for optimism for Dale Earnhardt, Jr. His 2011 season is looking much like his 2008 season - the last in which he won a race and made the Chase. Just as encouraging: This season looks nothing like 2009-10 when he finished the season 25th and 21st in points, respectively. Some facts to back up the optimism ...
• Earnhardt's six top 10s this season already surpasses his five from all of 2009. Last season he had eight. His two top fives match that of 2009, and are one short of last year's total.
• Earnhardt's average finish of 11.0 ranks third in the series behind points leader Carl Edwards (8.0) and five-time defending series champion Jimmie Johnson (10.9).
• He has completed more laps - 4,073 - than anyone in the series. He has finished off the lead lap twice this season: Daytona (202 of 208 laps) and Richmond (398 of 400).
• His consistency - as illustrated by his Driver Rating - is up. This season, Earnhardt has scored a Driver Rating over 90.0 in eight of the 12 races. In 2010, he did that in five of the first 12. In 2009, just three of the first 12.
• His fourth-place points position is his highest after 12 races since 2008, when he was third. Last year after 12 races, Earnhardt was 16th in points. In 2009, he was 19th.(NASCAR)(6-2-2011)
Hendrick & Penske...in Indycar?: Spotted on the grid of the Centennial Indy 500 were Hendrick Motorsport decals on the wings of two Team Penske Racers. The decals were on the inside rear wingplate on Will Power's #6 Dallara Honda and #12 Ryan Honda. This leads to speculation of an alliance of Penske and Hendrick in IndyCar especially due to the entry of Chevrolet engines into the open wheel series in 2012. Penske officials are keen to add Simona de Silvestro to their team but are having financial issues with three cars and would not comment on the why HMS decals were on the two cars. An alliance with Hendrick, a big Chevrolet dealer, could help.(see image at Auto123)(5-30-2011)
Earnhardt, Jr. close to contract extension: Hendrick Motorsports is close to finalizing a multiyear extension with Dale Earnhardt Jr., team owner Rick Hendrick said Saturday at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Hendrick hopes to announce the deal within the next month. He would not give specifics, saying most of the major points are agreed on and the extension would keep NASCAR's most popular driver at HMS for another three to five years after the current five-year deal that expires in 2012. "We know we want to be together and we just want to get this over with," said Hendrick, who told ESPN.com last year he was working on the extension. "It shows I'm committed to him and he's committed to us."(ESPN.com)(5-22-2011)
Dale Jr. to run special scheme at All-Star race: Through the VH1 Save The Music Foundation, The Dale Jr. Foundation is providing a $30,000 grant to Neal Middle School in Durham, N.C., to enhance its music program and give its students the opportunity to excel musically. The partnership between The Dale Jr. Foundation and the VH1 Save The Music Foundation will be celebrated on Earnhardt Jr.'s #88 AMP Energy/National Guard Chevy during the NASCAR Sprint All-Star race weekend at Charlotte Motor Speedway, as primary sponsors AMP Energy and National Guard have donated the paint scheme of the #88 car to TDJF for the third consecutive year. With the donation, Earnhardt Jr.'s Hendrick Motorsports Chevy will feature bright red, orange and yellow coloring with music notes accentuating the side panels. The one-off paint scheme will appear in the May 21st Sprint Showdown with the opportunity to advance into the Sprint All-Star Race by winning the Showdown or fan vote. Pre-orders for the collectable diecast and apparel items related to The Dale Jr. Foundation/VH1 Save The Music paint scheme are being accepted now at ShopJrNation.com. A portion of the proceeds from merchandise sales will be donated to The Dale Jr. Foundation in continued support of non-profit organizations such as Victory Junction, Make-A-Wish and Blessings In A Backpack.(JR Motorsports), see an image of the car on my #88 Team Schemes page.(5-19-2011)
Dale Earnhardt Jr. calls team meeting, apologizes: #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr. called a team meeting following Saturday night's Sprint Cup race at Darlington Raceway and apologized for his pit road mistake that cost the team a top 10 finish -- and possibly a win. Earnhardt was running sixth coming to pit road with 38 laps remaining when he came in too fast and hit the commitment cone, knocking it onto the track. Because he wasn't all the way inside the cone, Earnhardt Jr. most popular driver was given a pass-through penalty under green conditions, dropping him to 21st. Despite rallying to finish 14th and maintaining his position of fourth in the points standings, Earnhardt felt bad enough about his mistake to gather his team and apologize. "It was a good thing to do, especially immediately after the event, to clear the air," Earnhardt said on Tuesday during a demonstration at Charlotte Motor Speedway to show off the world's largest HD screen. "That way nobody goes home wondering what anyone's thinking. They know how I feel and I know how they feel. It was just a good way to put it behind us as quick as we could." Earnhardt knew the penalty was coming as soon as he hit the cone. He said crew chief Steve Letarte and the rest of his team told him post-apology that they "were fine and they understood."
"We hold team meetings every day in the hauler and before the races," Earnhardt said. "Steve does all the talking and I really don't talk that much. So I felt like I needed to get vocal right there for a second. I made a mistake getting on pit road and I wanted to tell the guys that my focus was strong, it wasn't because there was a lack of focus or lack of concentration, [and] that I'll try to minimize my mistakes going forward and to continue working hard and loading up great race cars."(ESPN.com)(5-11-2011)
Johnson named America's most influential athlete: #48-Jimmie Johnson, NASCAR's Sprint Cup Series champion every year since 2006, isn't particularly charismatic. But he's great at what he does. He's also appealing to many fans because he seems to be just like them--the guy next door who just happens to double as the best driver on the NASCAR circuit. That's among the reasons why Johnson rates as America's most influential athlete this year.
After a prolonged slump, "NASCAR has had a bit of resurgence, people are becoming more aware of the drivers this year," says Gerry Philpott, CEO of Encino, Calf.-based E-Poll Market Research, which co-conducted the poll of influential athletes our list is based on. While the sport is still lagging behind the glory days of the early 2000s, television ratings are up 6% this year, according to NASCAR Chief Marketing Officer Steve Phelps, who credits competitive early races this season with drawing interest. "It helps drive story lines," says Phelps. The first nine races of the 2011 season have produced seven different winners. #24-Jeff Gordon, a longtime fan favorite, got a nice boost from making it into the winner's circle in Phoenix in February, his first victory in two years.
Combined with the retirement of Lance Armstrong, the diminished reputation of Tiger Woods, and the fading of interest in 2010 winter Olympians like Apolo Anton Ohno and Shaun White, the mini-rally has launched three NASCAR drivers into the ranks of the most influential athletes. #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr., who certainly is charismatic, and Gordon, a steady and likeable presence since the early 1990s, join Johnson in the top 10 in third and eighth place, respectively.
E-Poll and Nielsen Media Research surveyed over 1,000 adults as to the athletes they considered influential, while also assessing their likeability and awareness levels. Only those known to at least 20% of the respondents were considered. (That eliminated boxer Manny Pacquiao, who scores the highest influence numbers of anyone but who's familiar to only 12% of the population. What does it say about boxing that its most exciting champion toils in near anonymity?)(Forbes.com) see Full List: The Most Influential Athletes.(5-11-2011)
Earnhardt Jr. not concerned about All-Star race: #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr. was asked about the All-Star race during a press conference at Richmond:
Q) BASICALLY THERE ARE THREE RACES LEFT FOR YOU TO WIN AND QUALIFY FOR THE ALL-STAR RACE, PROBABLY PRETTY GOOD CHANCE YOU GET IN ON THE FAN VOTE, BUT IS IT IMPORTANT TO YOU TO QUALIFY BY WINNING THE RACE?
Earnhardt Jr. "No, not really. That weekend...I don't take it for granted that we'll get the fan vote; anything can happen. So, we're just going to go and enjoy that weekend. That weekend is pretty fun. I would rather, personally make it through the fan vote because the qualifying procedure is a little bit of a pain in the tail, but, from a driver's standpoint anyways, I'm sure that is probably not everybody's opinion. Having to qualify and then sit around and wait for everybody else to qualify and run up and down pit road like hooligans is not a lot of fun. The most important thing is just focusing on the points races, the races that matter toward the championship. When we get to All Star weekend, however things are lined up is how things are lined up. That is just a fun weekend regardless. It will be interesting being on the other side of the fence, trying to find a way into the race and going through that experience myself personally to have an appreciation for what that is like versus just showing up and being locked in. It could be interesting and good for me to have that experience as well."(Team Chevy)(4-30-2011)
Earnhardt Jr. winless streak at 100: Dale Earnhardt Jr. has a perfectly round winless drought: 100 races. That's a career-long stretch for a driver with a hefty 18 career wins. He owns the statistics that make him a favorite at the 2.66-mile track: five wins, a second-best Driver Rating of 92.7 and laps led in the last 10 races, and in 20 of 22 career starts overall. The last 100 races have not been kind to Earnhardt, but 2011 has a different feel. Earnhardt has finished in the top 10 in two consecutive races, and four of the last six. He is currently sixth in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series points standings, the highest he has been this late in the season since 2008. That season, he won his last race, and made his last Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.(NASCAR)(4-14-2011)
Sugar Free scheme for Dale Jr: #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr. is scheduled to run a AMP Energy Sugar Free special paint scheme at the Darlington and Dover NASCAR Sprint Cup races in May. See an image of the car on the #88 Team Schemes page.(4-7-2011)
Dale Jr. to run special VH1 scheme in All-Star race: #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr. is scheduled to run a special Dale Jr. Foundation VH1 Save The Music paint scheme in the Sprint All-Star race at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 21st. Unless Earnhardt Jr. wins in one of the five remaining races before the event, he will have to race in to the All-Star race via the Sprint Showdown [being the winner or 2nd place car] or being voted in by the fans. Earnhardt Jr. has run every All-Star race since his rookie season, when he won the event in 2000. For more info on the event, see my 2011 All-Star race page. To see an image of the scheme, see the #88 Team Schemes page.(4-5-2011)
Earnhardt Jr. has no plans to tweet: Many NASCAR drivers have gotten involved with Twitter, some extensively, tweeting practically from the moment they wake up in the morning. #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr. isn't one of them. Certainly, he understands Twitter's usefulness and his team's use of it, but he just can't get into it. "I used to have a Myspace.com page and I used to have a Facebook page, (but) I don't anymore because it was just too much responsibility," he said. "I felt like you had to plug in and be involved with it so much and I thought personally I don't need to do it. I understand we use it on the business side of it and how it works for JRM, but personally, you know, it would be fun for about a month and then I would start to feel like it was a job where people expected me to do it."(Associated Press)(3-27-2011)
Special scheme for Dale Jr. at Daytona:Dale Earnhardt Jr. is scheduled to drive the #88 National Guard Heritage Special paint scheme at Daytona on July 2, 2011, see an image of the scheme on the #88 Team Schemes page.(3-16-2011)
Forbes names most valuable NASCAR teams & highest paid drivers: The weak economy has pummeled NASCAR over the past three years, with sponsorships, merchandise sales, race winnings and subsidies from automakers falling. Fans have tuned out, sending TV ratings down 24% since 2006 and leaving more than 40,000 empty seats at some races last year. One of its longest-tenured teams, Richard Petty Motorsports, was scrambling for cash on a week-to-week basis so it could race on weekends last fall. Is NASCAR headed for a full-blown meltdown? Hardly. Yes, the value of the top 10 teams slid 5% in 2010, on average, to $136 million by [Forbes] count, as prize money dropped and sponsors dialed back their commitment, but a rebound in 2011 for the sport is a strong possibility. NASCAR's strongest and most valuable team remains Hendrick Motorsports. With a valuation of $350 million on revenues of $177 million in 2010, Hendrick is worth 56% more than the next-highest-grossing team, Roush Fenway Racing, which [Forbes] value at $224 million on revenues of $140 million last year. Hendrick earned a NASCAR-high $18 million in operating income (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization) in 2010. Richard Childress Racing was third on the list, followed by Joe Gibbs Racing and Penske Racing. Rounding out the top 10: Stewart-Haas, Michael Waltrip Racing, Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing, Richard Petty Motorsports, and Red Bull Racing.
AND: Despite his lack of success in recent years on the track, Dale Earnhardt Jr. remains NASCAR's highest-paid driver, earning $29 million in 2010 thanks to merchandise sales that are the best in the sport and reportedly account for one-third of all NASCAR licensed merchandise sales. Other income streams include an annual salary from Hendrick and a 50% share of his $4.9 million in winnings and bonuses in 2010 from Sprint Cup races. Earnhardt also has a bevy of personal endorsements, including Chevrolet, Nationwide and Wrangler. Hendrick teammate Jeff Gordon follows Earnhardt in the NASCAR money standings with earnings of $25 million last year. It is a clean sweep for Hendrick at the top with five-time Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson, the third-highest-paid driver at $24 million. The rest of the top 10: Tony Stewart, Kevin Harvick, Carl Edwards, Kyle Busch, Kasey Kahne, Denny Hamlin, and Matt Kenseth.(Forbes)(2-24-2011)
Career start #400 for Dale Jr.: The Daytona 500 on Feb. 20 will mark Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s 400th NASCAR Sprint Cup Series career start. The 36-year-old driver of the #88 AMP Energy/National Guard Chevy began his Cup career in 1999, and since then has amassed 18 wins, 91 top-five finishes, 150 top-10s and nine pole positions in 399 starts. He's gone to Victory Lane twice at Daytona International Speedway. He won the prestigious Daytona 500 in 2004 and took the checkered flag in the July 2001 event. Earnhardt earned the pole position for Sunday's race during qualifying on Feb. 13, but will be reassigned to the rear of the field after being involved in an accident during the Feb. 16 practice session.(HMS)(2-19-2011)
Minnesota Congresswoman wants to ban military from NASCAR sponsorships UPDATE: Rep. Betty McCollum wants to put the brakes on the Defense Department's 10-year sponsorship deal with NASCAR racing teams, saying the multimillion-dollar recruiting effort is a waste of money. The Minnesota Democrat is also dubious that stock car sponsorship has much to do with enlistment numbers or troop readiness. "This is not only putting a sticker on the car. This is paying for a racing team," Ms. McCollum's chief of staff, Bill Harper, told Washington Wire. "That doesn't contribute to military readiness." The amendment is one of more than 400 that lawmakers want attached to Rep. Paul Ryan's spending bill to fund the government through Sept. 30. Ms. McCollum's office estimates the Pentagon has spent more than $100 million on its own NASCAR teams. Col. Derik Crotts, director of the army's sponsorship, told Washington Wire in an email that the Army spends $7 million a year on its racing team, and finds it valuable. "Youth surveys show that motorsports is a passion point for young Americans," wrote Col. Crotts. "It is critical that the Army use these passion points to communicate with prospects and their influencers." He continued, "In a 2009 among nationwide fans, 37% feel more positive about the Army due to its involvement in motorsports."(Wall Street Journal)(2-16-2011)
UPDATE: Congresswoman Betty McCollum's amendment to ban military sponsorship of NASCAR teams suffered a defeat Friday night but she is pressing forward with the amendment. After a brief period of debate on the amendment, which McCollum introduced Monday, a voice vote was held with the no votes prevailing. McCollum (D-Minn.), however, "demanded a recorded vote and the Chair postponed further proceedings on the question of adoption of the amendment until a time to be announced,'' according to the website for the Office of the Cleak for the U.S. House of Representatives. So, the matter is not dead. In essence, she wants everyone's vote to be recorded publicly instead of hidden behind a voice vote.(Virginian Pilot)(2-18-2011)
Death Threat: Democratic U.S. Rep. Betty McCollum received a death threat on Wednesday over her proposal to end Pentagon funding for NASCAR. McCollum said she thinks the army-sponsored car is a waste of taxpayers' money and should be eliminated. The fax received by her office contained vulgar language directed at the congresswoman, telling her to shut her (expletive) "pie hole," and featured a cartoon of President Barack Obama's head being pulled behind a truck in a noose. The letter also called for the deaths of all Marxists, and referred to the president, McCollum and Attorney General Eric Holder as "Marxist thugs." The violent imagery and phrases come just one month after Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was shot at a campaign rally, despite public campaigns for more reasoned and respectful political discourse.(myfoxtwincities.com)(2-18-2011)
Lawmakers reject congresswoman's effort to stop NASCAR sponsorship: The House has voted to let the Pentagon continue using taxpayer dollars to sponsor NASCAR race teams. By a 281-148 vote, lawmakers rejected an effort by Minnesota Democratic Rep. Betty McCollum that would have ended the practice. McCollum aides said the Army is spending $7 million on a sponsorship this year, and the Air Force and National Guard are spending additional money. Most Democrats backed McCollum's effort, while Republicans voted overwhelmingly against it.(Associated Press)(2-18-2011)
PTI: Dale Jr's Daytona 500 fixed?: Co-host Tony Kornheiser intimated on ESPN's Pardon the Interruption that NASCAR had helped Earnhardt turn the fastest lap in qualifying. Kornheiser said a longtime NASCAR reporter told him there was a 60% chance that Earnhardt's car might not be legal. "There are people in and around the NASCAR world, not just drivers but people who cover the sport, who are winking at this one," Kornheiser said. "Who are wondering if this wasn't a setup because it's the pole position." The reporter was The Washington Post's Liz Clarke, who covered NASCAR for more than a decade for four newspapers and also wrote a book about the sport. Earlier Tuesday, Clarke had appeared on Kornheiser's ESPN 980 radio show in Washington. During a discussion about Earnhardt's pole position, Clarke said, "people who covered racing for a long time, a lot were just laughing when they heard Junior won the pole because of the rich NASCAR tradition of ginning up storylines and outcomes. There's a lot of questions still about Richard Petty's 200th win, which came the day Ronald Reagan was there. Everything Americana happened to fall into place that particular day."
Noting that PTI does a segment called "Odds" in which situations are assigned a 1-100 percentage, Kornheisesr asked Clarke, "what are the odds that NASCAR rigged this" so Earnhardt would start first? "I'd say better than 60%," Clarke said. "I'm trying to think, 'Will I regret saying that?' No, it's more likely than not. But he drives for the best, best team with the best cars and smartest mechanics. This is an awesome team. He's had the best equipment." During a Wednesday morning appearance on Sirius NASCAR Radio, Clarke said she regretted assigning a percentage to such a scenario.
ESPN vice president of motorsports Rich Feinberg said, "that's a show of opinion, and they are entitled to their opinion. And I can tell you for sure that ESPN doesn't agree with his opinion yesterday, but that's the nature of commentary, and not all the time are we going to get a rosy picture when people are offering their opinions."
After Nationwide practice Wednesday, Earnhardt told reporters Kornheiser's comments didn't bother him because "those two guys that do that show don't know much about racing." Kornheiser was contrite about his NASCAR comments during Wednesday's PTI show. The featured interview was five-time champion Jimmie Johnson, who jokingly invited Kornheiser to a NASCAR race "to keep you from saying stupid things." See full story at the USA Today, along others from the Virginian Pilot and SceneDaily.(2-17-2011)
Earnhardt Jr. wrecks in practice, goes to backup car: during the rain delayed 1st practice on Wednesday, #48-Johnson and #88-Earnhardt Jr. were drafting in a two car pack, just behind them was another 2 car pack, #56-Truex Jr and #83-Vickers. #48-Johnson lifted as he came up on a slower pack of cars, Earnhardt got into Johnson, who got loose but recovered, Truex had no place to go and got into Earnhardt, sending both the #88 and #56 sliding thru the grass with the #88 hitting the inside SAFER wall, bouncing off and back into Truex. So both are going to backup cars. Since Earnhardt Jr.'s starting spot was locked in, he will have to go to the rear of the field before the start of Gatorade Duel 1 and the Daytona 500. Truex Jr. will start at the rear of the Gatorade Duel but starting where he qualifies with his Gatorade Duel result. Whichever driver starts 3rd in the Daytona 500 [to be determined in the Gatorade Duels] will start first in the Daytona 500.(2-16-2010)
Hendrick signs Bill Elliott's son Chase: Hendrick Motorsports has signed Chase Elliott to a multi-year driver agreement. Elliott, the son of 1988 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Bill Elliott, will continue to compete for his family-owned team until meeting age requirements for entering NASCAR national series events. Bill Elliott Racing, based in Dawsonville, Ga., will field Chevrolets with support from Hendrick Motorsports. "The apple hasn't fallen far from the tree with Chase," said Rick Hendrick, owner of Hendrick Motorsports. "I've always admired Bill's ability in a race car and how he handled himself with the fans. I see those same traits in Chase, with his natural driving talent and an awareness of what he needs to do away from the track to be successful. He comes from a great racing family, and it shows. We think it's a terrific situation. Chase already has a strong support system in place (in Dawsonville) that will allow him to focus on his education and grow as a driver, and Hendrick Motorsports will provide whatever kind of assistance the Elliotts need in any area."
A 15-year-old freshman in high school, Elliott already has competed against some of the best short-track racers in the United States. In 40 late model starts last season, he posted 13 victories, 27 top-five finishes and 37 top-10s. "I've always been taught that teamwork and people are important, and that's something Mr. Hendrick really believes in," Elliott said. "Everyone at Hendrick Motorsports has high standards and takes a lot of pride in what they do. Racing with all of their support, and the support of my family, is going to be incredible. I'm going to work really hard to make them proud and make the most of this opportunity."
In 2010, Elliott became the youngest driver to win the Blizzard Series at Five Flags Speedway in Pensacola, Fla., the Miller Lite Series at Mobile (Ala.) International Speedway and the overall Sunoco Gulf Coast championship. The Dawsonville native also posted victories in the prestigious Winchester 400 and at the re-opening of historic North Wilkesboro (N.C.) Speedway. Elliott already is two-for-two in 2011 after sweeping the Speedfest late-model features last month at Lanier National Speedway in Braselton, Ga. This season, he plans to enter a combination of super late model, pro late model and NASCAR regional touring series events.(HMS)(2-16-2011)
Earnhardt Jr. wins Daytona 500 pole: #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr. won the pole for the Daytona 500 Sprint Cup Series race at Daytona International Speedway with a lap of 186.089 mph for his first Daytona 500 pole and 10th career pole. Earnhardt Jr. is the 36th driver to win the Daytona 500 pole. #24-Gordon will start 2nd, only he and Earnhardt Jr. have secured their exact starting spot. #21-Bayne was 3rd fastest, followed by #27-Menard, #33-Bowyer, #31-Burton, #39-Newman, #5-Martin, #16-Biffle and #14-Stewart. Earnhardt Jr. and Gordon swept the front row for Hendrick Motorsports, the third time HMS has done it. Earnhardt will start from the pole in the first Gatorade Duel and Gordon will start 1st in the 2nd Gatorade Duel. #09-Elliott (17th), #38-Kvapil (20th) and #87-Nemechek (21st) all earned spots in the race as the three fastest drivers among those required to qualify on speed. #32-Terry Labonte will also start the race since he has a past champions provisional to use unless he races his way into one of the two spots available in the Duel he races. With the exception of the front row, the starting lineup will be set by the Gaterade Duel races on Thursday, swcheduled for Thursday, February 17th at 2:00pm/et on SPEED. See the qualifying results on the Daytona 500 Qualifying page(2-13-2011)
Hendrick Building Training Facility: Hendrick Motorsports is building an outdoor pit-crew training facility that will include a six-lane, 60-yard track where crew members can work out doing sprints and shuttle runs. The facility will include a 75-yard AstroTurf field and a 40-by-40 foot sand pit for outdoor strength and conditioning training for explosiveness and endurance.(SceneDaily)(2-9-2011)
Hendrick Motorsports rent CMS for pit practice: Hendrick Motorsports held a fully suited dress rehearsal for its pit crews at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Thursday. Apparently the organization rented the track for a closed session for all four NASCAR Sprint Cup teams. The four cars used for the exercises include two #5's (of Mark Martin), the #48 with Jimmie Johnson behind the wheel and the #88 Chevy with Dale Earnhardt Jr. behind the wheel. The #24 team of Jeff Gordon was pitting the second #5 car. The drivers were running different sequences and pitting in every other pit with the pit stops being filmed from the flagstand, according to a source who attended the test. The session lasted less than three hours (FoxSports)
UPDATE: the HMS test was a pit road practice only. At no time did a car leave pit road. CMS has availability next week 2/6-10/11 for any other NASCAR Series team who would like to practice team pit stops. Charlotte Motor Speedway track rentals info at charlottemotorspeedway.com.(CMS)(2-4-2011)
Johnson, Earnhardt to have 3 pit crews available: #48-Jimmie Johnson will have a primarily new pit crew as part of a plan by crew chief Chad Knaus to shore up depth on the teams of Johnson and #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr. Knaus and Steve Letarte, the crew chief for Earnhardt Jr., will take three pit crews to the track each weekend. That will give them a talent pool of 18 crewmen to draw on if they encounter injuries of performance problems. The lack of pit crew depth at HMS came under the spotlight during the Chase at Texas when Knaus swapped pit crews with Jeff Gordon's team in the middle of the race after the four-time champion crashed out. Knaus said four of the members of the #48 team before the swap remain in the mix for his crew, adding he has not finalized anything and probably won't have a set six for the entire season. The others have moved on to other organizations. The #24 team of Gordon and #5 of Mark Martin will work under a slightly different system, with six full-time crewmen for each car and another four to share between them for depth.(ESPN.com)(1-27-2011)
2010 Scheduled Sponsor / Paint Scheme for the #88
Feb 6 Bud Shootout/Daytona, National Guard
Feb 14 Daytona - AMP Energy Drink
Feb 21 California - AMP Energy JUICE
Feb 28 Las Vegas, National Guard
Mar 7 Atlanta - AMP Energy Drink
Mar 21 Bristol, National Guard
Mar 28 Martinsville - Sugar Free AMP Energy Drink
Apr 10 Phoenix - National Guard
Apr 18 Texas - AMP Energy Drink
Apr 25 Talladega - National Guard
May 1 Richmond, National Guard
May 8 Darlington - AMP Energy Drink
May 16 Dover - AMP Energy Drink
May 22 Charlotte All-Star Challenge - Dale Jr. Foundation
May 30 Charlotte, National Guard/Honoring Soldiers
Jun 6 Pocono, National Guard
Jun 13 Michigan - AMP Energy Drink
Jun 20 Infineon - AMP Energy Drink
Jun 27 New Hampshire, National Guard
Jul 3 Daytona, National Guard
Jul 10 Chicago - AMP Energy Drink
Jul 25 Indianapolis - AMP Energy Drink
Aug 1 Pocono - AMP Energy Drink
Aug 8 Watkins Glen - National Guard
Aug 15 Michigan - National Guard
Aug 21 Bristol - AMP Energy Drink
Sept 5 Atlanta - National Guard
Sep 11 Richmond - AMP Energy Drink
Sep 19 New Hampshire - AMP Energy Drink
Sep 26 Dover- National Guard
Oct 3 Kansas - National Guard
Oct 10 California - AMP Energy Drink
Oct 16 Charlotte - AMP Energy Drink
Oct 24 Martinsville - AMP Energy Drink
Oct 31 Talladega - AMP Energy Drink
Nov 7 Texas - National Guard
Nov 14 Phoenix - Diet Mountain Dew
Nov 21 Homestead - National Guard
SportsCenter Special: My Wish, Friday: ESPN in collaboration with the Make-A-Wish Foundation will air a 30-minute SportsCenter Special: My Wish on Friday, Dec. 24 at 11:30 pm on ESPNEWS that will run continuously through Saturday, Dec. 25 at 2:00 pm. Emmy Award-winning reporter Chris Connelly will host, as ESPN chronicles the sports-themed wishes and feature updates on three of kids from 2010: 10 year-old Jailen Cooper, who wished to be an Oakland Raider for the day, 15-year-old Jeffrey Buzell who raced go-karts against Dale Earnhardt Jr. and 13-year-old Anna Schmidt who wished to spend the day with Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers. Connelly: "It's a great time of year to revisit these stories that touch so many people, and we're pleased to have some updates on Anna, Jalen and Jeffrey."(video at ESPN)(12-23-2010)
Hendrick Buys First Volt Offered for Public Sale: Rick Hendrick, owner of Hendrick Motorsports and chairman of Hendrick Automotive Group, has purchased the first Chevy Volt offered for sale. Proceeds will benefit science, math, engineering, and technology education initiatives through the Detroit Public Schools Foundation. The vehicle, bearing the vehicle identification number BU10002, was sold for $225,000 through an online auction that closed Tuesday, Dec. 14. "This was an opportunity to own a piece of history while giving back to the community," said Hendrick, an avid car collector. "I have been a Chevy dealer for more than 30 years, and the Volt is one of the most exciting and important new cars since we opened our first dealership in 1976." The Chevy Volt is an electric vehicle that can operate under a range of weather climates and driving conditions with little concern of being stranded by a depleted battery. The Volt has a total driving range of up to 379 miles, based on EPA estimates. For the first 35 miles, the Volt can drive gas- and tailpipe-emissions-free using a full charge of electricity stored in its 16-kWh lithium-ion battery. When the Volt's battery runs low, a gas powered engine/generator seamlessly operates to extend the driving range another 344 miles on a full tank. Chevy began shipping Volts from Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly this week. Hendrick will take delivery of his Volt later this month.(Chevy Racing/HMS)(12-17-2010)
Dale Jr. working on extension: Despite #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s struggles on the track, Hendrick Motorsports has begun negotiating a contract extension for NASCAR's most popular driver. Team owner Rick Hendrick told ESPN.com of his plans Thursday after Earnhardt was named the sport's most popular driver for the eighth straight year during the National Motorsports Press Association Myers Brothers luncheon at the Bellagio. "We're looking at extending it," Hendrick said of Earnhardt, who just completed the third year of a five-year deal that ends in 2012. "I really like him. I think the world of him. I know he can do it. We just have to get the right combination in, and I think we're going to have it. I hope we get to race together until he retires ... until I retire. I'll retire first," he said. Extending the contract would end any speculation that Earnhardt might move his Nationwide Series program to Sprint Cup after 2012 and drive for himself or go to another team. But Earnhardt's first priority is making sure the next time he returns to Las Vegas for the season-ending banquet it is as a member of the Chase field and not just to get a popularity award. "The only person that can truly help me get where I need to go starts with me, then it goes to Rick, Steve [Letarte] and those guys in your inner circle every week and in your corner every week," said Earnhardt, who finished 21st in points. "My biggest problem, I think, is my confidence," he said.(ESPN)(12-3-2010)
Most Popular Driver Award winner named: And the streak goes on. Dale Earnhardt Jr. today collected his eighth consecutive NASCAR NMPA Most Popular Driver Award after receiving the most online fan votes among all eligible drivers throughout the 2010 racing season. He joins Bill Elliott as the only drivers to win the award at least eight years straight. The trophy was presented by Hamburger Helper to Earnhardt Jr. at the National Motorsports Press Association's Myers Brothers ceremony Thursday in Las Vegas, Nev. For the first time in award history, a fan was also involved with the presentation ceremony. Rachel Didat, winner of the Hamburger Helper "Most Passionate Fan" Contest, was on stage to help present the award. Fans cast more than 1.5 million total votes throughout the 2010 campaign, voting up to once per day for their favorite driver at www.helpersmostpopulardriver.com. Earnhardt Jr. beat out nine other finalists (in alphabetical order): Kyle Busch, Carl Edwards, Jeff Gordon, Kevin Harvick, Jimmie Johnson, Kasey Kahne, Matt Kenseth, Bobby Labonte and Tony Stewart. "It was pretty cool to hear that I was eight in a row just like Bill (Elliott)," Earnhardt Jr. said. "I've enjoyed winning it - my fan base has stayed strong. It's become an important honor each year for me. I'm glad that fans still feel their support for me. I appreciate their dedication and loyalty."
"The legend of Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s fan support grows each year he wins this award," said Dustin Long, President of the National Motorsports Press Association. "The NMPA is appreciative of the fans who vote and continue to make this award a part of the sport's fabric." Elliott holds the record for consecutive Most Popular Driver wins with 10, and he also holds the record for total wins with 16. He removed himself from voting after earning the honor the 16th time.(General Mills / Breaking Limits)(12-2-2010)
Dale Jr's struggles no only reason for HMS changes: The ongoing struggles of #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr. were not the sole reason for the sweeping changes made at Hendrick Motorsports. A day after Rick Hendrick shuffled the driver and crew chief lineup for three of his race teams, the team owner said the entire organization had grown complacent because of all its success. Even Jimmie Johnson and Chad Knaus, fresh off their fifth consecutive championship, were "off this year," Hendrick said. "This was not a Dale Earnhardt - not a move that we made, this major of a move, because of Dale or his situation," Hendrick said Wednesday. "I am excited about making all four teams better. We need to be better across the board. We are not going to leave any stone unturned."
Hendrick said he called a companywide meeting after the Nov. 7 race at Texas, where Johnson's crew was benched in the middle of the event and Denny Hamlin outran the No. 48 team to take the lead in the championship standings. No personnel decisions were made during the meeting. "No one suggested in that meeting that we shift people around," Hendrick said. "It was about how each individual could make this organization better." In the two weeks after the meeting, there were discussions between Hendrick and his management team, and the shakeup was revealed Tuesday afternoon. "A tremendous amount of thought went into it, and it was not a (decision) from the hip," Hendrick said. "It's not one of those things that you can vote on; it's one of those things you have to pull the trigger and go do it." The owner said he has now matched driver and crew chief based on personality fits. "I think everybody was excited last night, and it sparked a new amount of energy in our company," he said.(in part from the Associated Press)(11-24-2010)
New crew chiefs for Gordon, Martin & Earnhardt Jr.: Hendrick Motorsports has made personnel adjustments in preparation for the 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season, with drivers Mark Martin, Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt Jr. being teamed with new crew chiefs. Below are the driver-crew chief pairings for each Hendrick Motorsports car, effective immediately:
#5 Chevy, driver: Mark Martin, Crew Chief: Lance McGrew
#24 Chevy, driver: Jeff Gordon; Crew Chief: Alan Gustafson
#48 Chevy, driver: Jimmie Johnson; Crew Chief: Chad Knaus
#88 Chevy, driver: Dale Earnhardt Jr.; Crew Chief: Steve Letarte
The cars of Martin and four-time Sprint Cup champion Gordon will be fielded out of the same facility, now known as the 5/24 shop. Earnhardt Jr.'s Chevys will be prepared out of the renamed 48/88 shop alongside those of five-time and defending Cup champion Jimmie Johnson. "This will improve us as an organization, across the board," said Rick Hendrick, owner of Hendrick Motorsports. "We had a championship season (in 2010), but we weren't where we wanted and needed to be with all four teams. We've made the right adjustments, and I'm excited to go racing with this lineup."(Hendrick Motorsports)(11-23-2010)
Evernham back to Hendrick? Ray Evernham is talking to ESPN about continuing his career as a television analyst, but he's also exploring other options in NASCAR. And he plans to meet with Hendrick about a potential return to the organization where he won three championships as Jeff Gordon's crew chief in the 1990s. "Rick and I just have to meet and discuss things," Evernham said. "I'm interested in a lot of things Rick is doing, on a global basis." Evernham isn't interested in being a crew chief again, and he doesn't sound particularly enthusiastic about the idea of trying to straighten out Dale Earnhardt Jr. and the struggling #88 team. Instead, Evernham hopes to talk to Hendrick about working on big-picture projects related to Hendrick's worldwide business interests. "I want to be a project guy -- on a project, see results, move on," Evernham said.(Associated Press)(11-21-2010)
Latest on possible crew chief change for Dale Jr.: #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr. says it's not a no-brainer that he gets a new crew chief before the 2011 season and that no one person is responsible for this season's failures. "I'm not certain what's going to happen," Earnhardt Jr. said after Friday's qualifying for the season finale at Homestead. Earnhardt is 19th in points, having missed the Chase for the second straight year and third time in the past four seasons. He has only three top-5s and eight top-10s a year after recording a career-worst two top-5s and five top-10s. Earnhardt has only one win since Lance McGrew was named his crew chief in the middle of 2008, at Michigan. He is mired in a career-worst 92-race losing streak. But Earnhardt believes this season has been better than last year's which he called the worst of his career before this race. He's just not sure what has to happen to turn things around. "It's pretty obvious we aren't very good and we need to do some things to get better,'' Earnhardt said. "It's obvious that's where we are. I don't think it needs to be over-analyzed or anything like that.'' Earnhardt said he asked team owner Rick Hendrick to let the season end before making a decision on any potential changes to his team. Even then, Earnhardt doesn't know how much input he'll personally give. "I've dove into those deals headfirst in the past,'' Earnhardt said. "I'm not doing it this time. I obviously haven't had too good of an effect on the last couple of changes I've made. Maybe I'm not the person to be in there making those kinds of decisions. I don't want to have any effect on whatever that decision is. I've enjoyed working with Lance. I've enjoyed working with this team. We try really hard. They try really hard. No one person has failed this season.''(ESPN)(11-20-2010)
Dale Jr.'s crew chief status an offseason decision: Dale Earnhardt Jr. doesn't want to think about personnel issues with his #88 team until the end of the season. That includes a decision about the status of crew chief Lance McGrew. "I ain't really making any decisions on that until after the season's over with," Earnhardt told Sporting News. "I asked (team owner) Rick (Hendrick) and everybody in the corporation if I could just not consider any options for next year or any ideas until we're done racing-that I wanted to focus on what we're doing. I just wanted to get all I could out these last two races before I started thinking about that. I will say this about Lance: I've really enjoyed working with him. I've enjoyed even more so becoming his friend and getting to know him as well as I have. I have a lot of respect for him, and he's put up with a lot of crap this year and last year, trying to help get this thing going. He gave me his best effort to try to help each weekend, and I've just got a lot of respect for him." Since McGrew replaced Tony Eury Jr. as crew chief in mid-2009, the results have been disappointing. Earnhardt hasn't won a race since June 2008, and this year he failed to make the Chase for the second straight season. Earnhardt, who started 31st and finished 14th Sunday, isn't laboring under any illusions when assessing the overall performance of the #88 team. "I think I can say that what's going on on the racetrack is a fair assessment," he said. "It's had its ups and downs this year, but here lately we've struggled quite badly. It's been unfortunate, and you really can't visually see what our issues are. It's a moving target for us."(Sporting News)(11-15-2010)
Contest winner designed Dale Jr.'s PIR scheme: Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s #88 Chevy will have a different look this weekend at Phoenix International Raceway. The Diet Mountain Dew Paint the 88 contest gave fans the chance to design and submit their own original paint schemes online during a five-week period. Earnhardt chose the winning paint scheme, which was a green-and-white design created by fan Jason Corino, of Colorado Springs, Colo. Earnhardt made the selection from almost 10,000 submissions. Earnhardt will unveil his special paint scheme at Diet Dew Race Night on Friday, when the Phoenix Coyotes face off against the Calgary Flames in Glendale, AZ. Earnhardt, McGrew and the #88 team will make a special appearance on the ice with the car during the first intermission of the game. Prior to the game, Earnhardt will answer questions from fans during a special Race Night Town Hall for 100 lucky fans who purchase a special $88 VIP ticket. For more information call 480-563-PUCK or visit PhoenixCoyotes.com.(HMS), see images of the scheme on the #88 Team Schemes page.(11-11-2010)
Special scheme for Dale Jr. at PIR: #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr. will run at Diet Mountain Dew scheme at Phoenix in November. See an image of the scheme on the #88 Team Schemes page.(10-30-2010)
New crew chief for Dale Jr.? UPDATE: A once debatable decision as to whether to keep #88 crew chief Lance McGrew for next season is becoming cut and dry. Leading just three laps since the start of the season's second half, Dale Earnhardt Jr. has just two top-15 finishes over the last 13 races. He and McGrew argue more than the other three Hendrick Motorsports drivers and their crew chiefs combined, yet smile in front of the cameras, pretending it's all OK. While the Hendrick line continues to be McGrew and Earnhardt together in 2011, garage talk has indicated a private shift is in the works. The rumor mill is all over the place with potential replacements, the hottest new name mentioned being Jimmie Johnson's current car chief, Ron Malec. Another name in the mix has been Mark Martin's crew chief, Alan Gustafson (denied) as the school of thought is Hendrick will look internally for a replacement. Who will emerge from the fray is unclear, but with Earnhardt's team no better off than they were one year ago, it's certain his current crew chief's days are numbered.(Sports Illustrated)(10-22-2010)
UPDATE: Rick Hendrick was asked about the #88 team on Wednesday during a press conference:
Q: Where are you with evaluating the teams and the 88? Is that now or in offseason?
HENDRICK: "We don't try to make any changes until we get to the end of the year and we look at everything. We all agree. We're just trying to focus on what we've got to do, finish these four and then we'll take a look at where we are."(10-27-2010)
Dale Jr. and DW to appear in film about Talladega IMAGE added: Award-winning filmmaker Terry Gilliam will premiere his short film The Legend of Hallowdega starring David Arquette and Justin Kirk with special appearances by Dale Earnhardt Jr., Darrell Waltrip and more on Oct. 31st.
The film, produced by AMP Energy Juice and @radical.media, will premiere on Halloween Sunday with the first chapter to debut on ESPN just prior to the start of the AMP Energy Juice 500 at Talladega Superspeedway. Starting Halloween night, the film will be available in its entirety on www.LegendofHallowdega.com. The Legend of Hallowdega is the first short film for both Gilliam and AMP Energy Juice.
The comedy, The Legend of Hallowdega, explores the mysteries around Talladega Superspeedway as the host of an investigative news show (Justin Kirk) joins forces with a techno-geek paranormal expert (David Arquette) to dodge close calls and chase crazy leads to get to the bottom of The Legend of Hallowdega.(NASCAR.com)(10-17-2010)
IMAGE see an image of the special paint scheme that Dale Earnhardt Jr. will run at Talladega to promote this short film on my #88 Team Schemes page.(10-21-2010)
Danica to run K&N Pro Series East race at Dover: Danica Patrick will attempt to tackle the monster twice with the announcement of her intent to enter the "Sunoco 150" NASCAR K&N Pro Series East race at Dover on Sept. 24. Patrick will behind the wheel of the #83 JR Motorsports entry in the Friday afternoon race. The Sunoco 150 at Dover serves as the season finale for NASCAR's top developmental series, and a champion will be crowned when the checkered flag falls. Patrick will also race the #7 GoDaddy.com Chevy for JR Motorsports in the 200-mile NASCAR Nationwide Series event on Saturday, Sept. 25. Prior to the event, Patrick will participate in a free question-and-answer session on the base of the Monster Monument at Victory Plaza. NASCAR returns to the Monster Mile on Sept. 24-26, 2010. For more information, or to purchase tickets, call 1-800-441-RACE or visit DoverSpeedway.com.(Dover International Speedway)(9-17-2010)
What Dale Jr. had to say about Richmond: from a Team Chevy Transcript, #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr. comments on his and his team's performace at Richmond, after finishing 34th: "That was one of my worst performances, I believe. We were trying something new and it just didn't work out. We'll keep working at it. I don't think it's something we're going to give up on. We ran a rear spring package we've never run before, front spindles we've never run before; just trying to find something to help us get better. Running like we've been running all year long ain't good enough, so we figured we'd try to go in a different direction, and it was a bad choice tonight. We're going testing on Monday, and we'll do as much testing as we can do the rest of the year to figure out what's wrong and to get a package that will work."(Team Chevy PR)(9-13-2010)
No plans for changing Earnhardt Jr's crew chief: from a Team Chevy Press Conference Transcript, Rick Hendrick, owner of Hendrick Motorsports:
Q) A FEW YEARS AGO WHEN JEFF GORDON DIDN'T MAKE THE CHASE, YOU MADE A CREW CHIEF CHANGE AT THE START OF THE CHASE. LOOKS LIKE DALE EARNHARDT JR IS NOT GOING TO MAKE THE CHASE. WHAT OPTION IS THAT FOR A POSSIBLE CREW CHIEF CHANGE THERE?
Hendrick: "Actually, I'm pretty happy with the chemistry there now. Maybe some of you guys don't agree but I'm around them and I'm in the shop during the week and the Tuesday meetings and I talk to Dale and I talk to Lance (McGrew) and I talk to them both after they've been testing. And we had some good momentum going and then we kind of fumbled the ball a little bit here right before the Chace. If you can't pinpoint where your problem is, then the whole organization needs to be better. We're working hard but we're not as sharp as we want to be with all four cars. But the guys are working hard and working together. If you miss the Chase and you just decide that you're going to change something to be changing it, I think that's a mistake. I've never tried to do that. I keep my options open, but at the same time if the driver and the crew chief are getting along and they're working together and they're trying, that's all I can ask for. It's pretty darn competitive here in the garage. Guys get on a streak and then guys fall back a little bit. We're not happy with where we are as an organization, but we're working on it. And nobody is blaming anybody and nobody is giving up. So we're getting ready for the Chase. We're trying a lot of stuff and we're all over the map here this weekend, but we're trying some things. We know we've got to get better. And I'm really happy with my whole group and the way they work together and of course we'd like to win more races and you like to dominate, but it's hard in this sport. You look at the guys up there now and they get a streak and then they cool off. That's probably a 10-minute answer to a short question."
Q) SO IT SOUNDS LIKE YOU PLAN TO KEEP LANCE MCGREW AND DALE EARNHARDT JR. TOGETHER THROUGH THE CHASE AND GOING INTO NEXT YEAR. YOU ARE NOT PLANNING ON A CHANGE AT THIS POINT?
Hendrick: "That's correct. We make decisions as things develop during the season. And right now we've got a game plan and we're sticking to it. Next week and going into the Chase and during the Chase, our plans are for those two guys to be together."(Team Chevy)(9-5-2010)
Earnhardt "Drive the Guard" scheme at Michigan: Dale Earnhardt, Jr. will show his support for the National Guard's "Drive the Guard" program by showcasing a red, white and blue paint scheme on his #88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevy in this Sunday's Sprint Cup Series event at Michigan. The "Drive the Guard" program is an enlistment option offered to new recruits and current National Guard Soldiers interested in obtaining their commercial driver's license (CDL) while performing their regular duties in the National Guard. Learn more by visiting www.NATIONALGUARD.com/DrivetheGuard.(Hendrick PR), see an image of the car on my #88 team paint schemes page.(8-11-2010)
Earnhardt, Jr. making 500th NASCAR start: Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 National Guard/AMP Energy Chevy, will make his 500th start in a NASCAR-sanctioned points-paying event this weekend. Earnhardt will be making his 385th NASCAR Sprint Cup Series start when he lines up Sunday at Watkins Glen International. He also has tallied 115 starts in the NASCAR Nationwide Series.(Hendrick PR)(8-5-2010)
Mountain Dew scheme at Phoenix: Mountain Dew kicks off the Paint the 88 program. Kroger consumers and Earnhardt fans can visit www.Paintthe88.com to create and submit their favorite custom paint out. Earnhardt will select one special paint scheme for the #88 Diet Mountain Dew/National Guard Chevrolet he will drive in Phoenix. The website is accepting submissions until Monday, Aug. 9th.(7-31-2010)
MAF Honors NASCAR Teams' Response to Haiti Quake: In the aftermath of the catastrophic Jan. 12, 7.0 earthquake that destroyed the capital of the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, two renowned NASCAR auto racing teams shuttled relief workers and supplies into Haiti and transported evacuees, rotating workers and quake victims to the United States. This week at their respective shops in North Carolina, MAF (Missionary Aviation Fellowship) President John Boyd presented Hendrick Motorsports and Joe Gibbs Racing with special service awards for their work in Haiti.
In the crucial days following one of the world's greatest disasters, the teams generously provided aircraft from their fleets. The Hendrick and Gibbs crews worked with MFI (Missionary Flights International) and MAF to shuttle planes between Fort Pierce, Fla., and Port-au-Prince, Haiti, enabling the rotation of high-impact volunteer medical teams and humanitarian workers. The planes also evacuated adopted orphans to their American homes. In addition, the aviation crews offered care, personal concern and warm fellowship to the MAF missionary pilots and ground workers as they toiled amid heat, chaos, suffering and death.
"With these awards, we at MAF want to express our sincere gratitude to Hendrick Motorsports and Joe Gibbs Racing for their support of the MAF team in Haiti," Boyd said. "We honor two fine motorsports teams for their selfless actions, and for the special blessing they were to us during a very trying time." Boyd also invited the two teams' aviation staffs to participate in one of the MAF advanced mountain training workshops at the ministry's headquarters in Nampa, Idaho.
MAF has served the missionary community and the people of Haiti since 1986. Eight MAF missionary families and seven Haitian staff members provide air service with three bush aircraft that fly to 16 remote airstrips from Port-au-Prince. Within the first three months of its disaster relief efforts, MAF had partnered with dozens of relief agencies, including the United Nations. In addition to having coordinated the flights of 3,500 international passengers and 1.5 million pounds of cargo between Florida and Port-au-Prince, MAF logged 1,037 flights within Haiti, transported 1,801 relief workers, missionaries, patients and medical staff in and out of inland towns and villages urgently needing help, and delivered 315,498 pounds of urgent relief and medical cargo. MAF continues its disaster response work in Haiti, having now shifted from the crisis-relief phase to a rebuilding stage that is expected to last several years.(MAF PR)(7-29-2010)
HMS names president: Rick Hendrick this week elevated Marshall Carlson to the role of president and chief operating officer of Hendrick Motorsports. Hendrick made the announcement Tuesday to more than 500 people at the organization's quarterly employee meeting. The position of Hendrick Motorsports president most recently was held by Hendrick's late brother John Hendrick, who assumed the title in 1998. It has remained vacant since his passing in October 2004. "Marshall has the ability to plug into every aspect of our industry, from competition to marketing, at an extremely high level," said Hendrick, owner of Hendrick Motorsports. "He's versatile from a business perspective, and there's a high degree of respect for him throughout the organization because of the way he treats people. We're very fortunate to have someone of his considerable talent help guide us into the future." Carlson, 37, will continue to oversee the day-to-day operations of Hendrick Motorsports, which has earned four NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championships since he assumed the role of executive vice president and general manager on Jan. 24, 2005. "Hendrick Motorsports is a family, and it's been one of the great privileges of my life to work with these amazing people," Carlson said. "This opportunity comes with the highest commitment to serve my teammates and support their continued success." Carlson started his Hendrick Motorsports career sweeping floors as part of a chassis department summer internship. After earning a degree in business administration in 1996 from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, he served as engineer for the organization's fledgling Camping World Truck team, which earned the first of three series championships in 1997. Following the 1998 season, Carlson was reassigned to focus on Hendrick Motorsports' sponsorship and marketing efforts as director of marketing services. In 2000, he managed a $10 million facilities effort, which included the design and construction of racing operations space now housing the Sprint Cup Series teams of Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson. From 2002 until 2004, Carlson oversaw more than $200 million in real estate projects as vice president of corporate financial management with Hendrick Automotive Group, one of the largest automotive retail operations in the United States. A native of Charlotte, N.C., Carlson was named to the 2009 Street & Smith's SportsBusiness Journal "Forty Under 40" list, which spotlights the 40 top executives in sports under 40 years of age.(HMS)(7-28-2010)
Hendrick plane has problems, all OK: As a precaution, one of Hendrick Motorsport airplanes returned to Concord Regional shortly after takeoff Sunday morning due to a maintenance advisory light. Passengers were switched to another aircraft and traveled safely to Indianapolis. The plane has already been evaluated and returned to active status.(7-25-2010)
Dale Jr. Featured on SportsCenter My Wish July 19: #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr. recently brightened the day of an ill 15-year-old Maine boy through the Make-A-Wish Foundation, and highlights of the boy's day with Earnhardt will air Monday, July 19, on the 6 p.m. edition of ESPN's flagship news and information program SportsCenter as part of the SportsCenter "My Wish" series. Jeffrey Buzzell of Hermon, Maine, who has Alport syndrome, wished to meet Earnhardt and learn about the inner workings of a NASCAR team. The wish was granted May 20-22 around the NASCAR Sprint Cup All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Buzzell and his family were given a tour of JR Motorsports, a 66,000-square-foot facility that serves as the nucleus of Earnhardt's racing operation and business interests. Afterwards, they went to Earnhardt's home and raced on his private go-kart track. Before the All-Star race, Buzzell took a tour of the garage and pit area, took part in driver introductions and then watched Earnhardt and the other NASCAR drivers battle it out from a private suite at the speedway.
Buzzell on his wish with Dale Earnhardt Jr.: "A few seconds after getting out of the limo, I saw Dale come out of his garage and walk towards me. I didn't know what to do or think. All I remember was putting one hand on my chest and shaking his with the other. I had the time of my life and I will never forget my amazing trip or the amazing people I met."
The 2010 edition of the critically acclaimed SportsCenter "My Wish" series in collaboration with the Make-A-Wish Foundation will debut Sunday, July 18, during the 10 a.m. SportsCenter. The series will continue Monday through Thursday with a new wish each day during the 6 p.m. edition. In addition to Earnhardt, Wishes include the three-time Super Bowl champion Oakland Raiders (Sunday, July 18), three-time National League MVP Albert Pujols of the St. Louis Cardinals (Tuesday, July 20), supercross and motocross athlete Travis Pastrana (Wednesday, July 21), and New York Jets running back LaDainian Tomlinson (Thursday, July 22). Emmy Award-winning reporter Chris Connelly will host for the fifth straight year as ESPN chronicles sports-themed wishes granted by the Make-A-Wish Foundation to children with life-threatening medical conditions.
ESPN starts its coverage of the final 17 races of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series with the Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Sunday, July 25.(ESPN)(7-17-2010)
No Cup team for JR Motorsports in 2011: JR Motorsports is not considering is a move to the Sprint Cup Series. "No Cup plans," team co-owner Kelley Earnhardt said on Wednesday. "No Kasey Kahne. No Mark Martin. Nothing for JR Motorsports. At this point, we would need to get started on that, and it's definitely not in our future for 2011." Instead, Earnhardt and her brother, Dale Earnhardt Jr., need to find sponsorship and drivers for their Nationwide Series cars for next year. She knows Danica Patrick will drive in 13 races in a GoDaddy.com-sponsored car and that Grand Touring Vodka will sponsor 15 races with a driver to be determined. But that doesn't even fill one full season for an organization that plans to have two Nationwide cars again next year. Kelley Earnhardt said the organization needs to know a little more about NASCAR's plans to change the Nationwide Series rules to help promote younger drivers. She needs to know, she said, if there will be limits on Cup drivers and what programs are in place to help young drivers so the team can convince a sponsor to support an up-and-coming driver. "It would be nice to know specifically what we're working with and what we can sell and do," Kelley Earnhardt said. "In the environment that we're in from the economic standpoint, it takes a personality to sell a sponsor. Performance and being up front and somebody they can market and somebody the consumer is going to recognize and want to be a part of whatever they're doing is so important." Sponsors are hesitant to go with a young driver, she said.(SceneDaily)(7-15-2010)
Dale Jr.'s Daytona winning #3 to the NASCAR Hall of Fame: The NASCAR Hall of Fame now is the temporary home of one of the most talked about race cars of 2010. Beginning July 14, included with the price of admission, guests can get a close-up look at the #3 Wrangler Chevy that Dale Earnhardt Jr. drove to victory in the NASCAR Nationwide Series race July 2, 2010 at Daytona International Speedway. The car carries the same design of the race cars Earnhardt Jr.'s father, Inaugural NASCAR Hall of Fame Inductee Dale Earnhardt, made famous in the 1980s. This #3 Wrangler Chevy was built and prepared by JR Motorsports and entered in the Daytona race by legendary owner Richard Childress. The combination of Earnhardt Jr., Dale Earnhardt Inc. and RCR has a very brief yet shining history on the track. In only two races together, Earnhardt drove the #3 Chevy to victory on both occasions (February 2002 and July 2010 NASCAR Nationwide Series races at Daytona International Speedway). On loan from JR Motorsports, the race car is on exhibit in the Great Hall of the NASCAR Hall of Fame until Sunday, Sept. 19, 2010. More info on the NASCAR Hall of Fame on my NASCAR Hall of Fame News and Links page.(7-15-2010)
NASCAR featured in Transformers 3 movie: NASCAR style racecars adorned in the colors of Juan Pablo Montoya, Jimmie Johnson and Dale Earnhardt Jr. were competing in downtown Chicago in a little race of their own; complete with armor and machine guns. Filming for the third installment of the wildly popular Transformer movies was taking place over the course of the last week and although the exact plot hasn't revealed, it would appear that NASCAR will be playing a role. Fans who were at the location sent snapshots of cars painted to resemble the Chevy's of the #42, #48 and #88. The cars were morphed and included loads of heavy weapons. Last year the cars of #24-Jeff Gordon and #39-Ryan Newman bore special paint schemes of the movie during the fall race at Charlotte, but there has been no word on the exact involvement of NASCAR.
The areas in Chicago that saw filming included LaSalle Street, Michigan Avenue, Bacino's of Lincoln Park at 2204 North Lincoln Avenue and around the "Sears Tower". According to fans on location the Michigan Ave scene where the NASCAR style cars were spotted was filled with crashing and explosions.
The final film in the live action Transformers series it is directed by Michael Bay and produced by Steven Spielberg. It is the sequel to Transformers and Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen and is scheduled for release on July 1, 2011 in Real D 3D theaters nationwide and in IMAX 3D.(NASCAR Examiner) and see some images at www.tfw2005.com.(7-12-2010)
Dale Jr. doesn't plan to drive #3 after Daytona NNS race: UPDATE: On Friday evening, #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr. will slide through the window and into the seat of the #3 Wrangler Chevy for 300 miles of Nationwide Series racing at Daytona International Speedway. Until that moment, he cannot know how that car number on his door, and that blue and yellow paint before him on the hood, and memories of his father's win-at-all-costs attitude while driving them may affect him. Especially at that track. But he is fairly certain about one thing: July 2, 2010 will be the last time he drives a race car with the #3 on the door. "I just want to go to the racetrack and run it once before I retire, and this will probably be it," he said. "After this, I'll probably never drive a car with a 3 on it again. I can pretty much say I'm 99% sure that will never happen again." This is a stark revelation, especially for long-suffering Earnhardt fans who dreamed Junior would close out his career in a black #3. Junior, too, once thought that was his destiny. No more. "It's not [my number] to take and use whenever I feel like using it," he said through a sheepish grin. "You just don't grab the car keys off the counter and go run out the door and haul down the road with your dad's car. I didn't do it when he was alive, and I won't do it now. I'm borrowing it once, and then maybe sometime down the road some kid will come up, and he'll have a connection to the 3 -- whether it's through my father or whether it's what his number's been since he was playing teeball. Whatever, you know, that will be his. It will be someone else's." The current Wrangler program is a dual initiative -- partly to honor Big E, partly out of necessity. Junior's sister, Kelley Earnhardt, Sprint Cup team owner and owner of the #3 trademark Richard Childress, and Teresa Earnhardt all played a role in putting the deal together, and wanted to tie it into Dale Earnhardt's Hall of Fame induction.(see full story ay ESPN)(6-27-2010)
UPDATE: After winning the Nationwide Series race Friday night, Earnhardt spoke about the #3 car: "I will never do it. I'll never rethink it. I'll never consider it. I think that it's important for everybody to know that that's as concrete as it gets. I'll never do it again. So I enjoyed it. It's hard for me. It's a balancing act between you and the public and myself and my own feelings. I mean, I kind of, you know, look to what you guys are putting out there to kind of get a temperature of how the public's feeling. It's such a tough deal. It's real emotional for me preparing for it and putting it together. Is Rick okay with it? Did Rick mind? Is Richard happy with his role? Is Teresa truly okay? It's just so damn hard to know how everybody feels about it. Hell, I just want to come race. I just like cool-looking cars. This was a helluva cool-looking car. I always loved the scheme. That's all that mattered to me, was just the scheme. I just love the car. I wanted to race it once, and I did. I'd run the number before in this series, so I didn't really put a lot of stock in the fact that the 3 was coming back like a lot of people did. I didn't approach it that way mentally, where everyone else was thinking, you know, 3 is back, Earnhardt's 3 is back. But when I started hearing all that, you know, how everybody was making such a big deal about it, I was like ... man, this is like pressure, man, this is a big deal. So I was a little nervous. But I don't know if I'd have liked that or not. Regardless of whether I did or not, I made my life pretty much driving that 8 and now the 88. It doesn't make sense for me to do this again. I think in the Nationwide Series, it makes enough sense, and I really wanted to do it, and I've done it. I don't ever want to do it again. And I'll never change my mind, ever."(NASCAR Media transcript)(7-3-2010)
8 Soldiers, 8 Missions on the #88: Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s #88 National Guard "8 Soldiers 8 Missions"/AMP Energy Chevy will feature a special camouflage paint scheme this weekend at Daytona in honor of the eight National Guard Soldiers and eight missions in which they served. These eight Soldiers served in domestic and overseas missions for their country. #88 Chevy was designed to commemorate the heroic efforts and service of these Soldiers and the other men and women who serve in the National Guard. The eight soldiers Earnhardt will recognize are Staff Sgt. Ryan Brubaker with the Montana Army National Guard, Staff Sgt. Daniel Caldwell with the Alabama Army National Guard, Sgt. 1st Class Chris Dempsey with the Arizona Army National Guard, Spc. Tabitha Foster with the Kentucky Army National Guard, Spc. Richard Ghent with the New Hampshire Army National Guard, Staff Sgt. Justin Lampert with the North Dakota Army National Guard, 1st Lt. Reed Preece with the Pennsylvania Army National Guard and Spc. Joseph Ruiz with the New York Army National Guard.(Hendrick PR), see an image of the car on my #88 team paint schemes page.(7-1-2010)
Kelley Earnhardt named bank chairman: Mooresville-based Blueharbor Bank said that a member of one of racing's first families, Kelley Earnhardt, has been elected chairman of the board. Earnhardt, whose late father was NASCAR Hall of Fame driver Dale Earnhardt Sr. and whose brother is current driver Dale Earnhardt Jr., was a founding board member of the community bank that opened in 2007. She is general manager and co-owner of JR Motorsports in Mooresville and serves as a director of the Dale Jr. Foundation. Earnhardt moved from the vice chairman role as part of a planned rotation, the bank said. Attorney Bill Pope is the new vice chairman.(Charlotte Observer)(6-30-2010)
Johnson's idea is the winner of the Pepsi Refresh Grant: The votes are in and more than 500,000 racing fans have spoken: Jimmie Johnson is the winner of a $100,000 Pepsi Refresh Grant that will help Be The Match Foundation provide financial relief to pediatric bone marrow transplant patients. For the past three weeks, Johnson and fellow Hendrick Motorsports drivers Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt Jr. were campaigning for their ideas and fans had the opportunity to vote for the idea they believed should be awarded a grant from the Pepsi Refresh Project. The drivers' passion for their individual ideas was evident and although they didn't receive the most votes, Pepsi will donate a $25,000 Pepsi Refresh Grant to both Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt Jr. to aid in implementing their projects for the Children's Advocacy Center (CAC) at Jeff Gordon Children's Hospital and supporting technology needs at Shepherd Elementary School in Mooresville, NC for Earnhardt.(Pepsi)(6-27-2010)
Junior & Shaq Set For Head-to-Head Race at Concord Speedway: The challenge has been issued and accepted. Four-time NBA champion Shaquille O'Neal has swapped his size-23 basketball shoes for racing Velcro; traded his breezy, cool basketball jersey for a heavy, fire-retardant driver's suit; forgone the familiarity of basketball hardwood for the cramped quarters of a stock-car cockpit - all 7-foot-1, 325 pounds of him. His reason: challenge NASCAR's most popular driver and winner of more than 40 NASCAR-sanctioned races, Dale Earnhardt Jr., to a one-on-one race in a test of skill, endurance and speed. The competition will be featured in the second season of Shaq Vs., the popular television series that is part of ABC's new summer season. The show's premise is simple: O'Neal takes his top-level skills and athletic prowess from the basketball court and transfers it to a different and unfamiliar sporting event. The first season pitted Shaq in a head-to-head match-up against Albert Pujols in a homerun-hitting contest, Michael Phelps in a swimming race, Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh in beach volleyball, and Oscar de la Hoya in a boxing match. The race between O'Neal and Earnhardt Jr. will take place at 4:00pm/et on Wednesday, June 23, at Concord Speedway, a tricky, half-mile tri-oval that features some of the best weekly racing in North Carolina. The event is open to the public free of charge. Gates will open at 1:00pm/et. No cameras or phones will be allowed inside the facility. Terms of the race will be negotiated by O'Neal and Earnhardt Jr. on the day of the race. Shaq Vs. will premiere its second season on ABC Tuesday, Aug. 3.(JR Motorsports)(6-18-2010)
Special scheme Hendrick teams: Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s #88 Chevy will feature an "Honoring Our Soldiers" paint scheme for the May 30 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event at Charlotte Motor Speedway. All four Hendrick Motorsports teams will sport special patriotic paint schemes for the Memorial Day weekend race to honor the men and women who serve in the armed forces. As the nation's oldest Armed Forces component, the National Guard and its Citizen Soldiers play a vital role in protecting the freedoms Americans hold dear. Since 1636, the Guard has brought glory and honor upon itself and its Soldiers through quiet and selfless service. There is a long and noble history of the National Guard serving at home and abroad to ensure the safety and freedom of their fellow citizens. When celebrating Memorial Day, take a moment to thank a member of the nation's military for their service to the United States and recognize the sacrifices they make on a daily basis to defend America's interests. Become a fan of the National Guard on Facebook, by visiting www.facebook.com/NationalGuard. To learn more about becoming a Citizen Soldier, visit www.NATIONALGUARD.com.
Jeff Gordon will drive a specially-painted #24 DuPont Stars & Stripes Chevy during the Memorial Day weekend event.
CARQUEST Auto Parts, a major sponsor on the #5 Hendrick Motorsports Chevy since 2005, will be back on the hood this NASCAR Sprint Cup Series weekend at Charlotte. The red, white and blue paint scheme will be featured in a total of eight races this season. Martin's #5 Chevy will feature a patriotic theme this weekend in tribute to the United States military. Diecast and apparel featuring the #5 paint scheme will be available for purchase, and a portion of the proceeds benefits the Children of Fallen Soldiers Relief Fund. Martin's Hendrick Motorsports teammates also will sport special patriotic paint schemes for the 600-mile event.
Jimmie Johnson and the #48 Lowe's Chevy will have a special patriotic paint scheme in recognition of Memorial Day that features donation information during the May 30 event. In support of the Memorial Day holiday, Lowe's will offer a 10% discount to all active, reserve, honorably discharged, and retired military personnel and their immediate families. Lowe's also has a year-round 10% discount those with a military-issued photo ID. Lowe's and Team 48 driver Jimmie Johnson are hosting a special concert starring country music star Darius Rucker in support of the United Services Organization (USO) and the newly created Lowe's USO Family Fund on SPEED Channel at 7 p.m. on May 29. The concert will highlight ways to support the newly created Lowe's USO Family Fund, proceeds of which will support USO family programs that help deployed service members and their families stay connected.(HMS/Team Lowe's), see images of the cars on my #5 Team Schemes page, #24 Team Schemes page, #48 Team Schemes page and #88 Team Schemes page,(5-27-2010)
Earnhardt Jr. To Reach Make-A-Wish Milestone at Charlotte: #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr. began his relationship with Make-A-Wish Foundation in 1999 as a driver in the NASCAR Nationwide Series. Now more than 10 years later, the seven-time NASCAR Most Popular Driver is closing in on his 200th wish granted, a milestone shared only by a handful of America's top athletes. Earnhardt Jr. will facilitate No. 200 at Charlotte Motor Speedway during Sprint All-Star Race weekend. "To meet these kids and families is a privilege," Earnhardt Jr. said. "A lot of times the Make-A-Wish meeting is the best part of the whole weekend. It's amazing that when you talk to the kids and learn about their lives, you learn a lot about yourself as well." To commemorate Earnhardt Jr.'s 200th wish milestone, AMP Energy and the National Guard have donated the hood of the #88 Chevy to The Dale Jr. Foundation for the Sprint All-Star race on May 22. The predominantly black paint scheme was designed by Earnhardt Jr., and it prominently features the logo of The Dale Jr. Foundation. "I want to thank AMP Energy and the National Guard for donating the hood of the car," Earnhardt Jr. said. "It's their advertising space, they pay for it, and for the second year in a row they were gracious enough to give us prime location on the car and help bring exposure to my foundation and the charities we support, like Make-A-Wish. I think the fans will embrace the paint scheme and help us continue to grant wishes for kids dealing with these medical setbacks, whether it's sending them to Hawaii, hiking the Grand Canyon, or getting a computer to stay connected with their friends. Whatever they want, they should get." In conjunction with the All-Star paint scheme, TDJF is ramping up fundraising initiatives and calling on fans to raise awareness and money for Make-A-Wish Foundation.(JR Motorsports) for more info see my Racing Charities page and see an image of the scheme on my #88 Team Schemes page.(5-5-2010)
Earnhardt Jr.'s Crew Captures Tissot Pit Road Award in Texas: Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s over-the-wall crew won the Tissot Pit Road Precision Award in Monday's (April 19) rain-delayed Samsung Mobile 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup race at the lighting-fast Texas Motor Speedway. The #88 crew's solid performance helped Earnhardt earn an eighth-place finish at the 1.5-mile quad-oval. Earnhardt's Amp Energy/National Guard Chevrolet spent the least amount of time on pit road - 275.470 seconds - during the 334-lap, 501-mile event. Race winner Denny Hamlin's FedEx Ground Toyota was second (285.035) and Kurt Busch's Miller Lite Dodge was third (288.512). Earnhardt's over-the-wall crew consists of: Adam Emmert (front-tire changer), Ben Fischbeck (front-tire carrier), Kip Wolfmeier (rear-tire changer), Matt Myers (rear-tire carrier), Mark Jacobs (jackman), Chris Fasulka (gasman) and Jason Dalrymple (catch can). The team's pit crew coaches are Mark Mauldin and Walt Smith. The winning pit crew in each Sprint Cup race will earn $5,000 and a Tissot V8 Quartz Chronograph watch. The team with the most Tissot Pit Road Precision Award wins at the completion of the 36-race schedule will receive a $105,000 bonus plus Tissot watches for the over-the-wall crew members and driver. #56-Martin Truex Jr.'s team continues to lead the Tissot standings with two wins after eight races. Six teams remain in second place with one win.(Tissot)(4-23-2010)
Dale Jr. to run #3 car at Daytona NNS race? If arrangements go as planned, Earnhardt will run the #3 Wrangler Chevrolet for JR Motorsports at Daytona International Speedway in the NASCAR Nationwide Series race on July 2. Sources have told FOXSports.com that Earnhardt will revive his father's famous #3 in a collaborative effort initiated by JR Motorsports with Richard Childress Racing and Dale Earnhardt Inc. A formal announcement is expected on April 29. According to team sources, a Hendrick Motorsports engine will power the car. Earnhardt Jr. currently has a personal services contract with Wrangler, continuing a family legacy between the brands. Wrangler first sponsored his father for the final race of his 1980 Cup championship season and the following year with Rod Osterlund for the first 16 races. (4-22-2010)
Kahne to Hendrick in 2012 UPDATE 2 HMS PR: #9-Kasey Kahne, the hottest potential free agent in NASCAR entering the season, has signed a multiyear agreement to join Hendrick Motorsports in 2011, multiple sources close to negotiations confirmed to ESPN.com Tuesday. The details of the deal, such as which car Kahne will drive, are still being finalized, sources said. The prevailing thought is Kahne will occupy the #5 car currently driven by Mark Martin, sources said. Martin signed a contract extension last year through the 2011 season. There is room for Martin and Kahne in the Hendrick family. Stewart Haas Racing receives chassis, engines and technical support from HMS. So Kahne could be housed there until Martin's contract was up, if necessary. In 2008 Dale Earnhardt Jr. signed a five-year deal with Hendrick. Jimmie Johnson last year signed an extension through 2015, and Jeff Gordon has a lifetime contract. Kahne is in the final year of his contract with Richard Petty Motorsports, and plans to finish the season in the #9 Ford, sources said. It is unknown whether Kahne's sponsor, Budweiser, will accompany him to HMS [which sponsored Hendrick's #25 Chevy for years]. Hendrick Motorsports officials had no comment. Calls placed to Kahne, who turned 30 last weekend, and to his agent were not returned.(ESPN)
UPDATE: Richard Petty Motorsports announced that driver Kasey Kahne has informed the team he will not renew his contract at the conclusion of the 2010 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season. Kahne, driver the #9 Budweiser Ford Fusion, has been with RPM since entering NASCAR's premier series in 2004. "Kasey is a very talented driver and I have enjoyed watching him race. We all wish him nothing but the best and hope he succeeds in anything he chooses to do," said team owner Richard Petty. "Drivers like Kasey Kahne are the very reason we got into this sport. Kasey has helped us get to where we are today," George Gillett, owner of Richard Petty Motorsports said. "We wish him well in his future however we have the rest of this season to race together and we're looking forward to a successful remainder of the year."(RPM)(4-13-2010)
MORE: It was reported initially that Kahne's deal with Hendrick would begin in 2011. A source close to the situation told ESPN.com that Kahne will take over the #5 car for the 2012 season, but his 2011 plans are still undecided. "I've actually thought a lot about that but I'm not sure what I'm going to do next year," Kahne said after taking batting practice with the San Francisco Giants at AT&T Park on Tuesday. "I've given it some thought though." Sources confirm that Mark Martin will drive the #5 car through the 2011 season. There is room for Martin and Kahne in the Hendrick family. Stewart Haas Racing receives chassis, engines and technical support from HMS. So Kahne could be housed there until Martin's contract was up. Kahne is in the final year of his contract with Richard Petty Motorsports, and plans to finish the season in the No. 9 Ford, sources said. It is unknown whether Kahne's sponsor, Budweiser, will accompany him to HMS. Mark Wright, vice president of media, sports and entertainment marketing for Anheuser-Busch, Inc., said Budweiser is currently focused only on the current season with Kahne. "There have been no discussions relative to our sponsorship as of yet. We look forward to having those at the appropriate time," Wright said.(ESPN)(4-14-2010)
UPDATE2 - HMS PR: Beginning with the 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season, Kasey Kahne will drive the #5 Chevys of Hendrick Motorsports after signing a long-term contract with the organization. Mark Martin, 51, the current driver of Hendrick Motorsports' #5 team, will complete the 2010 and 2011 seasons. When Kahne takes over in 2012, he will join teammates Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson and Dale Earnhardt Jr. in Hendrick's four-car stable. "In Kasey, we saw an opportunity to cement a big piece of our future," said Rick Hendrick, owner of Hendrick Motorsports. "He possesses incredible talent and a tremendous dedication to his craft, and we know he'll be a great fit within our company. Kasey has earned the respect of his future teammates by the way he's handled himself on and off the racetrack, and we know he'll be a contributor to the success of Hendrick Motorsports for many years to come. To have someone of his caliber join our team is an unbelievable opportunity for us."
"I have a comfort level with Mr. Hendrick, my future teammates and the culture of the organization," said Kahne, whose contract with Hendrick Motorsports will run through the 2015 Sprint Cup season. "For me, it's the right fit on every level, and I think it gives me a great chance to win races and compete for championships. "Determining the next step in my career has been an important process, and I'm excited and relieved to have the decision made and announced. Now it's my responsibility to put all of my energy into winning races and having a successful 2010 with my current team and our sponsors." Although 2012 and beyond has been solidified, Kahne is not scheduled to drive a Hendrick Motorsports entry in 2011 due to NASCAR's four-car limit. While who he will race for has not yet been determined, Kahne intends to drive a full Sprint Cup Series schedule next season. "If this opportunity was going to happen, I knew having some unanswered questions would be part of the scenario at this stage," Kahne acknowledged. "Hendrick Motorsports has a commitment to Mark Martin that they want to fulfill, and that's important. It's part of what attracts me to the team."(Hendrick Motorsports)(4-14-2010)
Highest paid NASCAR drivers: #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr. is NASCAR's highest-paid driver for a second straight year with earnings of $30 million in 2009. Earnhardt has had little racing success the past two years, with only one win at the track. He finished a disappointing 25th in the Sprint Cup standings last year, but was voted NASCAR's most popular driver for a seventh straight year. Forbe's earnings estimates include salaries, endorsements and the drivers' share of track winnings and licensing income. Earnhardt's immense popularity translates into big dollars in each of these areas outside of track winnings. "Nascar needs Dale Jr. to be competitive, because he is so closely associated with the success of the sport. [As] go the fortunes of Junior, so goes Nascar," says Ardy Arani, managing director of Atlanta-based Championship Group, a motor sports marketing consultancy. The top 10 list from forbes.com:
No. 1 Dale Earnhardt Jr. Earnings: $30 million
No. 2 Jeff Gordon: Earnings: $27 million
No. 3 Jimmie Johnson: Earnings: $23 million
No. 4 Tony Stewart: Earnings: $19 million
No. 5 Carl Edwards: Earnings: $14 million
No. 6 Kevin Harvick: Earnings: $13 million
No. 7 (tie) Kyle Busch: Earnings: $12 million
No. 7 (tie) Kasey Kahne: Earnings: $12 million
No. 9 (tie) Matt Kenseth: Earnings: $11 million
No. 9 (tie) Mark Martin: Earnings: $11 million
(full article and more at Forbes.com)(3-25-2010)
Hendrick Motorsports still deemed most vaulable: Forbe's reports that the average NASCXAR Sprint Cup team generated $92 million in revenue last year, a drop of 4%. Teams were hurt by a 19% decline in Nascar licensing revenue. Total retail sales of licensed merchandise were $1.63 billion in 2009 compared to $2 billion the prior year, according to License Global magazine. The economic downturn and a saturated licensing market helped spur the decline. Another factor was the near bankruptcy of leading Nascar merchandise company Motorsports Authentics. Despite the revenue drop, the average operating income (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization) for the top teams was flat at $7 million. Teams have trimmed budgets by reducing head count, tracking inventory more closely and cutting travel budgets. One area that has not yet been affected is driver salaries--but those cuts will come once contracts start to expire.
NASCAR's top team remains Hendrick Motorsports worth $350 million, the same as last year. They are the New York Yankees, Los Angeles Lakers and Manchester United rolled into one. They dominate on and off the track with the best drivers (home to the top three finishers in the 2009 Sprint Cup) and the most popular racers (three of the four best-selling drivers for licensed merchandise). Hendrick Motorsports is worth 47% more than the second most valuable team, Roush Fenway Racing. The gap in value between the two top teams is similar to baseball with the Yankees (64% more valuable than the Mets) and ManU in soccer (38% more than Real Madrid).
Hendrick is the sports leader when it comes to sponsorship revenues, thanks to the success and popularity of its drivers. Its four cars generate an estimated $115 million in sponsorship revenue annually from the likes of DuPont, Go Daddy, Lowe's, the National Guard and PepsiCo. Hendrick cars have the highest budgets in Nascar, but the huge sponsorship haul allowed Hendrick to turn an operating profit of $20 million last year, the highest in the sport. The value of Stewart-Haas has risen 23% to $98 million, which ranks seventh overall. It is one of only three teams to see an increase in value over last year.
Top NASCAR Teams: No. 1: Hendrick Motorsports, Current value: $350 million, One-year value change: none
No. 2: Roush Fenway Racing, Current value: $238 million, One-year value change: -12%
No. 3: Richard Childress Racing, Current value: $153 million, One-year value change: -8%
No. 4: Joe Gibbs Racing, Current value: $144 million, One-year value change: none
No. 5: Richard Petty Motorsports, Current value: $124 million, One-year value change: -6%
No. 6: Penske Racing, Current value: $110 million, One-year value change: -1%
No. 7: Stewart-Haas Racing, Current value: $98 million, One-year value change: 23%
No. 8: Michael Waltrip Racing, Current value: $88 million, One-year value change: -12%
No. 9: Earnhardt Ganassi Racing, Current value: $71 million, One-year value change: 1%
No. 10: Red Bull Racing Team, Current value: $59 million, One-year value change: 7%
(See more at Forbes.com)(3-25-2010)
DW says Dale Jr. should run some truck races: in a Q&A, 3-time Cup Champ and FOX broadcaster Darrell Waltrip said of Dale Earnhardt Jr.: "Expectations are so high with him that if he's not winning, then the world is not right and so I think they're making baby steps to get him back to where he needs to be. I told (car owner) Rick (Hendrick) and I really, honestly believe this, I'd run him in some truck races. He needs to get somehwere where he can win, and I'd get him in a truck. Not a Nationwide car, a truck. They're fun to drive, have a good time in the truck series. If I was Junior, I'd go talk to (Kevin) Harvick and ask him if I could drive that 2 truck. I'd go out, and I'd win me a couple of races and I think that's what he needs, it would really help his confidence, and I think his fans would enjoy seeing him do that. I think it would be a win-win."(Virginian Pilot)(3-23-2010)
McGrew and Dale Jr. on the radio at Bristol UPDATE: Crew chief Lance McGrew didn't hold back the tough love with driver #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr. on Sunday.
The first snipe came after Junior complained about a loose car following pit stops during the fifth caution on Lap 205. McGrew replied, "Yes, but you're eight positions better than you were." When the seventh caution was called on Lap 324, the #88 was up to sixth and was busted by NASCAR for "excessive speed entering the pits" and was forced to drop back to 26th. McGrew coached his driver with a "lots of laps man, we can get this back." But Earnhardt sounded dejected on the radio. He was furious at the sanctioning body and its pit-road scoring system. "Well, anyhow. To get busted at Bristol for (expletive) speeding by what-the-(expletive)-ever it was and when I didn't (expletive) gain nothing on nobody, it's not the way it should be," exlaimed Earnhardt. "There should be a different way of doing it. You bust your (expletive) to get up there. Now they can't be (expletive) (expletive) about every (expletive) little nitpickin' (expletive) thing. We're out here racing our (expletive) off." And with Earnhardt deep in traffic, he radioed the car was "pushing like a truck." That's when McGrew let loose.
"Don't lay down on me, bud," McGrew screamed. "I can't lay down here," Earnhardt replied. "This is Bristol. I don't ever (freakin') lay down. Don't ever say that again on the radio. Don't need the whole world hearing that." While little was said between driver and crew chief following the heated exchange, Earnhardt collected himself and salvaged a seventh-place finish that enabled him to jump five positions to eighth in the point standings. Although Earnhardt was not available for comment after the race, team owner Rick Hendrick seemed pleased with the #88 team's improvement. "They've worked really hard," Hendrick said. "Lance and Dale have great chemistry. I think if you listen to them on the radio, they're working well together. Dale had a great car. He would have been in the top five or had a real shot at it himself had he been able not to have that speeding penalty."(FoxSports)(3-22-2010)
UPDATE: Dale Earnhardt Jr. says his profanity-laced rant at Bristol Motor Speedway stemmed from frustration from a speeding penalty. Earnhardt had just cracked the top five in Sunday's race when NASCAR flagged him for speeding on pit road. He vented over his radio for several minutes, and snapped at crew chief Lance McGrew's attempt to calm him down. The penalty dropped Earnhardt to 26th, but he rallied to finish seventh. He moved up five spots in the standings to eighth. Earnhardt says the speeding penalty infuriated him because he had worked so hard to crack the top five.(Associated Press)(3-23-2010)
Special scheme for Dale Jr at Martinsville: Dale Earnhardt Jr is scheduled to drive the #88 AMP Energy Sugar Free Lightning Chevy at Martinsville Speedway on March 28, 2010. See image of the scheme on my #88 Team Schemes page.(3-20-2010)
Special Patriotic schemes for Hendrick cars UPDATE: The four Hendrick Motorsports drivers are scheduled to drive special "Honoring Our Soldiers" patriotic paint schemes on Memorial Day weekend in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 30, 2010.(2-24-2010)
UPDATE: Added images of the cars with the spoilers and not the wings. See my #5 Team Schemes page, #24 Team Schemes page, #48 Team Schemes page and #88 Team Schemes page for images of the schemes.(3-17-2010)
Win #190 for Hendrick: With #48-Jimmie Johnson's win last weekend at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Hendrick Motorsports now has 190 wins in the Sprint Cup Series, which is the most in the modern era and second all-time [to Petty's].(HMS)(3-3-2010)
Hendrick concerned about axle problem: There is some concern at Hendrick Motorsports that the broken axle that left #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr. with a 32nd-place finish on Sunday at Auto Club Speedway could be a more widespread problem. Earnhardt's crew chief, Lance McGrew, said the axle of race winner Jimmie Johnson was about six laps from breaking and that issues were discovered on other HMS cars during Saturday's final practice. "Oh, absolutely," McGrew told ESPN.com on Tuesday. "I'm sweating this weekend along with Atlanta, which is historically really bad on axles. To say there's not a stir about it would be an understatement." McGrew said so far no explanation has been found for the extreme wear. He said the problem first surfaced during Saturday's final practice when the left rear axle on Mark Martin's car, which shares a shop with the Earnhardts, looked "really bad." He said all four HMS teams replaced the axles before the race. "Ours wore out and [Johnson] barely finished the race," McGrew said. "There's no smoking gun, which is aggravating for us. But we'll get to the bottom of it."(ESPN.com)(2-23-2010)
Special scheme for Dale Jr. at Auto Club: #88-Dale Eanrhardt Jr. is scheduled to run an AMP Energy Juice scheme on his Hendrick Motorsports Chevy at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, CA on February 21, 2010.(1-16-2010
See images of the scheme on my #88 Team Schemes page.(2-17-2010)
Disney's "Handy Manny Big Race" with Dale Earnhardt Jr: Playhouse Disney's hit Emmy-nominated series "Handy Manny" puts the pedal to the metal with the premiere of the series' second primetime special, "Handy Manny Big Race," starring Wilmer Valderrama and guest starring #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr. and N'Sync's Lance Bass, Saturday, March 20, 7:00-7:25 pm/et/pt on Disney Channel. In this exciting primetime event for preschoolers and parents, Manny and the tools hit the motor speedway as a pit crew for the highly anticipated Wood Valley 500.
Earnhardt said: "My 4- year-old niece is a huge 'Handy Manny' fan, so when Disney Channel approached me about doing this role, I did it with her in mind. It was fun doing it, and being 'Chase Crawford' for a while. I know Kennedy will enjoy seeing me on her favorite cartoon."
Valderrama said: "Like NASCAR racing, 'Handy Manny Big Race' is something the entire family can enjoy together. I am so excited that we incorporated one of America's favorite pastimes and the legendary Dale Earnhardt, Jr. into the world of 'Handy Manny."
In the special, Valderrama, Bass (who recurs on the series as surfer-dude Elliot) and the cast of Tools perform the new song "One Step at a Time." A music video for the song will premiere Saturday, March 6 on Disney Channel and online at Disney.com/HandyManny. In addition, PlayhouseDisney.com will give preschoolers the opportunity to decorate their own race car for the chance to have it featured on air during the premiere broadcast of "Handy Manny Big Race."
In "Handy Manny Big Race," Manny and the tools help Elliot fix up his used race car to enter the big Wood Valley 500 race. The car turns out better than expected and everyone is ready to race - except Elliot, who's too nervous to drive. Famous race car driver Chase Davis (voiced by Dale Earnhardt, Jr.) steps in to help, but Elliot's nerves get the best of him. With the tools as his pit crew, Manny gets behind the wheel in an attempt to win the race for the entire team. "Handy Manny" airs weekdays at 9:00 am/et/pt and weekends at 8:30 am and 10:30 am during Disney Channel's Playhouse Disney programming block for preschoolers. The series carries a TV-Y parental guideline.(ESPN/Disney)(2-13-2010)
Danica Patrick to make NASCAR debut at Daytona: Danica Patrick will make her NASCAR Nationwide Series debut in the #7 GoDaddy.com Chevy this Saturday at Daytona International Speedway, JR Motorsports general manager Kelley Earnhardt announced. Patrick, Earnhardt, and team officials convened Sunday following the ARCA event at Daytona, in which Patrick raced to a sixth-place finish in her stock-car debut. The decision for Patrick to compete in the Daytona Nationwide Series event is supported by sponsor GoDaddy.com and JRM co-owners Dale Earnhardt Jr., Tony Eury Jr., and Rick Hendrick. "To be the one driving that Go Daddy car at Daytona means a lot to me," Patrick said. "Racing in the Nationwide Series race was my goal during this entire two-month preparation process, but we wanted to make sure it was the right thing to do. The ARCA race was a blast, and I'm not ready for my first Daytona Speedweeks to end just yet. I want more racing." Patrick's entry in the Drive4COPD 300 puts her in a JR Motorsports tandem with Dale Earnhardt Jr., who will drive the #88 Hellmann's Chevy. Patrick will continue her Nationwide Series schedule on Feb. 20 at Auto Club Speedway and Feb. 27 at Las Vegas. Patrick is guaranteed starting positions in all three races based off JRM's acquisition of points from CJM Racing's #11 team, which finished 15th in the 2009 Nationwide Series owners point standings. GoDaddy.com will be the primary sponsor for 11 of Patrick's 13 Nationwide Series races in 2010. She started 12th in the Lucas Oil Slick Mist 200 and finished sixth, including a late rally from 23rd position all the way to the front pack in just under 20 laps.(JR Motorpsorts)(2-8-2010)
Seven Cup drivers on America's 100 Most Powerful Athletes list: What is power? In athletics it is usually thought of as bulging muscles and dominating performance. But in sports today, power has a different meaning, as well: the earning potential of athletes, owners, agents, communities, and brands, ranging from breakfast cereal to beer. To determine who the 100 most powerful athletes are on and off the field, Bloomberg BusinessWeek teamed with CSE, an integrated sports and entertainment company that connects brands with fans, and Bloomberg BusinessWeek columnist Rick Horrow, to create the 2010 version of the Power 100. Unlike previous Power 100s, this year's ranking would focus only on the athletes-not the owners, the agents, the commissioners, or the coaches. On-field metrics included athletes who scored the best on the field (or the rink, the greens, or the court) over a two-year period. The more popular the sport, the more weight those achievements garnered.
Drivers on the list: Jimmie Johnson, 21st; Jeff Gordon, 28th; Mark Martin, 41st; Dale Earnhardt, Jr. 45th; Tony Stewart, 48th; Carl Edwards, 67th; and Kyle Busch, 70th. Danica Patrick also made the list at 88th.(Business Week)(1-28-2010)
Two NASCAR drivers in Top 50 athlete earnings: For the sixth consecutive year, Sports Illustrated has compiled a list of the 50 top-earning American athletes in salary, winnings, endorsements and appearance fees. And for the first time, the average earnings of those on the list fell -- down $1.5 million per athlete to $23.6 million. That falloff is mostly due to lower earnings for No. 1 Tiger Woods and No. 2 Phil Mickelson, both of whom saw their on-course income shrink while also losing key endorsement deals. This year's list features 22 basketball players (a record nine who earned more than $20 million), 14 major leaguers, nine football players, three golfers and two NASCAR drivers. The two NASCAR drivers are #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr. at 13th and #24-Jeff Gordon at 21st. #48-Jimmie Johnson, who won his 4th NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship in a row, is not on the list.(Sports Illustrated)(1-25-2010)
Dale Jr.'s nightclub expanding: Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s wildly popular nightspot, Whisky River, is expanding beyond its North Carolina roots with a second location slated to open in Jacksonville, Fla., this spring. Now, Earnhardt Jr. and NASCAR fans throughout northeast Florida and its surrounding beaches have a place to experience the very best nightlight in the area at Whisky River - a venue renowned for its electrifying blend of live music performances, celebrity guests and dynamic DJs spinning everything from rock to country and more. Info at www.WhiskyRiverJacksonville.com.(1-24-2010)
Hess, Parker receive Papa Joe Hendrick Award of Excellence: Hendrick Motorsports employees Lynn Hess and Richie Parker were named recently as the 2009 Papa Joe Hendrick Award of Excellence recipients. The award embodies the spirit of Rick Hendrick's late father Joe Hendrick and is voted upon annually by Hendrick Motorsports employees. Hess and Parker were recognized during the company's Christmas party on Dec. 18. Inclement weather kept Hess from attending the event, but that didn't dampen her excitement. Hess has worked at Hendrick Motorsports fulltime since October 1999 as the administrative assistant for the #24 and #48 team shop, while also serving as the scorer some race weekends for the #24 team. Parker was on hand to receive the honor on Dec. 19, but the award wasn't the only thing that surprised the 2005 Clemson graduate. Parker, who started working at Hendrick Motorsports fulltime in 2005 as an engineer, was surprised to find his parents in attendance for the party.(HMS)(1-12-2010)
#88 scheduled 2009 sponsor schedule
Feb 7 Bud Shootout/Daytona, National Guard
Feb 15 Daytona - AMP Energy Drink
Feb 22 California - AMP Energy Drink
Mar 1 Las Vegas, National Guard
Mar 8 Atlanta - AMP Energy Drink
Mar 22 Bristol, National Guard
Mar 29 Martinsville - AMP Energy Drink
Apr 5 Texas - AMP Energy Drink
Apr 18 Phoenix - National Guard
Apr 26 Talladega - National Guard
May 2 Richmond, National Guard - Drive the Guard
May 9 Darlington - Mountain Dew Special
May 16 All-Star Challenge, LMS - National Guard/Dale Earnhardt Jr Foundation
May 24 Charlotte, National Guard
May 31 Dover - AMP Energy Drink
Jun 7 Pocono, National Guard
Jun 14 Michigan - AMP Energy Drink
Jun 21 Infineon - AMP Energy Drink
Jun 28 New Hampshire, National Guard
Jul 4 Daytona, National Guard/Camo/Serving America
Jul 11 Chicago - AMP Energy Drink
Jul 26 Indianapolis - AMP Energy Drink
Aug 2 Pocono - AMP Energy Drink
Aug 9 Watkins Glen - National Guard
Aug 16 Michigan - National Guard
Aug 22 Bristol - AMP Energy Sugar Free Drink
Sept 6 Atlanta - National Guard
Sep 12 Richmond - AMP Energy Drink
Sep 21 New Hampshire - AMP Energy Drink
Sep 28 Dover- National Guard
Oct 4 Kansas - National Guard
Oct 11 California - AMP Energy Drink
Oct 17 Charlotte - AMP Energy Drink
Oct 25 Martinsville - AMP Energy Drink
Nov 1 Talladega - AMP Energy Drink/JR Nation names
Nov 8 Texas - National Guard
Nov 15 Phoenix - AMP Energy Drink
Nov 22 Homestead - National Guard
Hendrick Motorsports VP receives honorary degree: Doug Duchardt, a 1987 graduate of Missouri University of Science and Technology, will be one of 10 alumnae awarded an honorary professional degree on Saturday during the school's winter commencement ceremonies. Currently the Vice President of Development for Hendrick Motorsports, Duchardt earned a Bachelor of Science in mechanical engineering from the university in 1987. During his undergraduate career, he joined General Motors as a co-op student. That relationship grew over time, and after achieving a master's degree in mechanical engineering from Purdue in 1992, Duchardt went on to become the director of GM Racing in 2003 and work closely with NASCAR teams. In 2005, he was named a vice president at Hendrick Motorsports, where he currently oversees race car design, engineering and production in the chassis, body and engine areas. "I appreciate my alma mater recognizing what's happened in my career, but it's really the result of being surrounded by talented people at General Motors and Hendrick Motorsports," Duchardt said. "There are a lot of distinguished alumnae from Missouri University of Science and Technology, and it's humbling to see the list of people being honored and the previous honorees. It's also encouraging that colleges and universities are paying attention to what happens in NASCAR and that our industry is relevant with any other mainstream business."(HMS)(12-28-2009)
Hendrick honored with Bill France Award of Excellence: Rick Hendrick, owner of Hendrick Motorsports was honored with the Bill France Award of Excellence at the 2009 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Awards Ceremony. The award was presented to Hendrivk by Betty Jane France, wife of the late Bill France Jr., who guided the sport from 1971-2003. "I wasn't expecting this one," Hendrick said during his acceptance speech at the Wynn Las Vegas. "This award means so much to me because of the relationship I had with Bill France and the respect I had for him." The award is not handed out annually by the France family, which has owned and operated NASCAR for 61 years. Named for NASCAR founder Bill France Sr., the award is presented when the NASCAR leadership believes someone is worthy of the recognition for contributions to the sport. "NASCAR has had many iconic figures throughout its rich history, and Rick Hendrick certainly falls into that category," Betty Jane France said. "Through the years, he has not only won our respect but our hearts as well." Hendrick did not know that Betty Jane France was at the banquet and the award was not listed in the agenda for the evening that celebrated Jimmie Johnson's fourth consecutive title in a season where Hendrick drivers swept the top three spots in the standings. "I've never seen him where he's in a position where he couldn't say what was on his mind," Johnson said after the ceremony. "It really got him. ... For a minute there, I thought he was going to need to sit down and start over and come back to the podium. It's amazing. It means so much to Rick because of his friendship with Bill. I could only imagine how much that means to him. And then this year, you look at the 1-2-3 and all the success. You roll it all up in one, he's going to remember 2009 forever."(SceneDaily)(12-6-2009)
HMS adds engineer to #88 from #5, teams work together: Rick Hendrick is hoping that what made the #5 team of Mark Martin so good in 2009 can help the #88 team of Dale Earnhardt Jr. get better. The two teams, housed in the same building at Hendrick Motorsports, are becoming "one big team with two cars" and Martin lead engineer Chris Heroy will now work with Earnhardt Jr. "They're making a lot of changes and a lot of suggestions that sound really good to make the team have a little more substance throughout the entire roster of the members that make it up," Earnhardt Jr. said Thursday. "I feel great about the changes. We started to work with some of these guys at the tail end, the last two or three races, and I hope it makes us better. It should make us better. I think as an entire unit, the 88 car could have been stronger and we had the resources, but there was a broken link here and there. Hopefully we've got that fixed and we will see the results on the race track."
"That whole team over there is still trying to find its way; and by team I mean the whole 5-88 shop," said Johnson crew chief Chad Knaus. "Once they get that, and they're getting it ... they're going to be better next year."(SceneDaily)(12-5-2009)
Earnhardt says Danica talks still ongoing: Negotiations to bring Danica Patrick to NASCAR are ongoing with Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s race team, but the driver said he has not participated in the talks and isn't certain she will drive for his Nationwide Series team. JR Motorsports is co-owned by Earnhardt and Rick Hendrick, and both said the Patrick talks are being handled by Earnhardt's sister, Kelley. Earnhardt announced Thursday that Kelley Earnhardt and his cousin, Tony Eury Jr., have been given ownership stakes in the organization. Kelley Earnhardt has been the driving force in the team's bid to bring Patrick to a part-time NASCAR ride. "It's still sort of in the negotiation stages," he said. "Her and my sister are, I guess, managing that entirely. I have not been in any way, shape, or form involved." Asked what the odds are of Patrick signing a deal, Earnhardt didn't pick a number. "She's going to drive stock cars for somebody, someday," Earnhardt said. "It's just too much of a -- look at all the Formula One guys over here checking (NASCAR) out -- the writing is on the wall for her and several other guys. I think it's exciting. She would be great for our sport. She wants to see what's up."(Associated Press)(12-4-2009)
Earnhardt Jr. Scores 7th NMPA Chex Most Popular Driver Honor: #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr. was awarded his seventh consecutive NASCAR NMPA Chex Most Popular Driver award Thursday in Las Vegas, announced at the NASCAR NMPA Myers Brothers Awards event at The Venetian Las Vegas Hotel Casino. The result was determined by online voting during the course of the 2009 NASCAR Sprint Cup season. The award comes one week after Brad Keselowski was named Most Popular Driver in the NASCAR Nationwide Series, giving the JR Motorsports owner/driver tandem its second consecutive sweep of most popular awards.
Earnhardt Jr. joins Bill Elliott and Richard Petty as the only drivers to win the award at least seven times. His seven in a row falls short only to Elliott, who won 10 straight from 1991-2000. Earnhardt Jr. now sits behind Elliott (16) and Richard Petty (9) for most total awards.
"I'm extremely honored to win this award again, and I'm happy for Brad to be able to win it again in the Nationwide Series," said Earnhardt Jr., who drives the #88 Amp Energy/National Guard Chevy for Hendrick Motorsports. "As always, I want to thank the fans. They've stuck with us, and I'm always humbled by that. We didn't have the year we were expecting on the Cup side, but Brad and Tony Eury Sr. and everyone at JR Motorsports did a great job this year on the Nationwide side, scored a bunch of wins, and I'm proud of all of them."(JR Motorsports)(12-4-2009)
Hendrick misses Homestead race UPDATE: A family emergency will keep team owner Rick Hendrick from celebrating a record-tying ninth Sprint Cup championship for Hendrick Motorsports on Sunday at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Hendrick's 29-year-old niece Alesha Gainey, the daughter of John Hendrick who was killed in the 2004 plane crash near Martinsville Speedway, is undergoing an emergency liver transplant in North Carolina. "Rick obviously wishes he could be here . . . [but] Rick's priority at this point is to support his family at this crucial time," Hendrick Motorsports general managers Marshall Carlson said.(ESPN)(11-22-2009)
UPDATE: As much as Rick Hendrick wanted to be a part of Jimmie Johnson's record-breaking run on Sunday at Homestead-Miami Speedway, his family's needs were more important. Instead of watching Johnson win his fourth straight Sprint Cup title, Hendrick was at hospital in North Carolina as his 29-year-old niece, Alesha Gainey, underwent a liver transplant. Gainey is the daughter of Hendrick's brother, John, who, along with two other daughters, was killed in a 2004 Hendrick Motorsports plane crash on the way to Martinsville Speedway. Hendrick said the surgery went well and Gainey, although not completely out of the woods, is in stable condition and recovering in intensive care.(ESPN)(11-24-2009)
One track left with no win for Hendrick: Homestead-Miami Speedway is the only racetrack on the current Sprint Cup schedule where Hendrick Motorsports has not won a race. The organization, which will wrap up its 25th anniversary season this weekend, has recorded eight top-five finishes and 16 top-10s in 10 Cup events (39 starts) there (HMS). It is also the only race track that #24-Jeff Gordon has not won a Sprint Cup race and for #48-Jimmie Johnson, Homestead is one of six race tracks on the Cup circuit he has not won at [the others being Watkins Glen, Infineon Raceway, Chicago, Michigan and Bristol.(11-19-2009)
Hendrick denies having a deal with Danica: Rick Hendrick said Sunday he has no deal to bring IndyCar superstar Danica Patrick to NASCAR, and there's no certainty she'll even be driving stock cars next season. "I just think that they are not even close to making a decision on whether to even do it this year or next year," Hendrick said of Patrick and her representatives at IMG. "You never know until it's done. You never know until it's signed. And anybody can change their mind. When you get down to the nitty gritty of any deal, it's always complicated. There can always be someone who comes back and says `I can't do it because of this.' So until it's done, it's not done. And that's the honest truth." Patrick is reportedly in the final stages of a contract that would partner her on a limited Nationwide Series schedule with JR Motorsports, the team owned by both Hendrick and Dale Earnhardt Jr. But speaking before Sunday's race at Phoenix International Raceway, Hendrick called the reports "premature" and insisted nothing is imminent. "I think everything is an option, and it's just too early to really comment on it," he said. "I can't give you anything concrete, because there isn't anything concrete right now. Nothing is imminent until it's signed. Too many things can happen." Hendrick, who just returned from a weeklong vacation in Israel, said there have been no new developments in talks with Patrick and that IndyCar remains her first priority. Existing contracts she has in that series could also complicate a potential venture into NASCAR. Patrick has said very little about her 2010 plans, including an apparent contract extension to stay with Andretti Green Racing. Part of that holdup is a pending change of team ownership, which is expected to be transferred solely to Michael Andretti.(in part from the Associated Press)(11-15-2009)
Earnhardt crew treated after wreck: Six pit crew workers for #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr. were involved in a car accident Sunday morning on the way to Phoenix International Raceway, but all of them are expected to work the Checker Auto Parts 500 Sunday afternoon, team officials confirmed. All six men were treated and released at the PIR Infield Care Center after their vehicle was T-boned at an intersection near the track. Crew chief Lance McGrew was not in the accident and didn't want to speak about the incident Sunday morning when approached at the #88 AMP Energy Drink/National Guard Chevy hauler in the Sprint Cup garage. Earnhardt will start 18th in Sunday's race.(ESPN)(11-15-2009)
Danica to JR Motorsports? Maybe Not: Dale Earnhardt Jr. says a deal to put Danica Patrick in his Nationwide Series car isn't imminent, and even if it were, JR Motorsports wouldn't necessarily have the funding for the IndyCar Series' most popular driver. Multiple media outlets have reported in recent weeks that Patrick was on the verge of signing with JRM for a part-time Nationwide schedule next season while continuing to run the Indy Racing League. Patrick and JRM share a sponsor in GoDaddy.com, but Earnhardt says it doesn't make the deal a cinch. "We've had a relationship with GoDaddy, so that makes us look like a nice fit, but they're moving (next year), so we don't really have it anymore," Earnhardt said after Sprint Cup practice Friday at Phoenix International Raceway. "We're having to search around." JRM's #88 Chevy currently driven by Brad Keselowski is sponsored by GoDaddy.com, but the company will move to Cup next year to back the #5 Chevy of Mark Martin at Hendrick Motorsports, which has an alliance with JRM. Earnhardt says JRM has only "three-quarters to half a season" of sponsors for the #88 in 2010. Earnhardt says the lack of funding is what's driving JRM's interest in Patrick, who also has been pursued by Roush Fenway Racing and Michael Waltrip Racing. Patrick also has met with Joe Gibbs Racing and Richard Childress Racing, and Earnhardt says he's talked to her along with Tony Stewart and Kevin Harvick. Patrick lives in the Phoenix area, but offseason sponsor commitments are expected to keep her from attending Sunday's Checker O'Reilly Auto Parts 500. "She's very interested in trying NASCAR, and a lot of people weren't sure whether she was serious or not, but she is serious," Earnhardt said. "There's a lot to learn there for her. She's got to get in the cars. She's got a lot of (stuff) to do before she ever takes the green flag for anything. But she's talked to a lot of people. I've spoken with her a couple of times just about the lifestyle and the difference in the series vs. what she does now." Besides GoDaddy, Patrick has sponsorship ties to Motorola's Boost Mobile brand and Tissot. Earnhardt believes she might be able to bring those companies to NASCAR, though without some TV advertising campaigns that could be considered risqué.(in part from the USA Today)(11-14-2009)
Make-A-Wish helping boy meet Dale Jr.: Life hasn't always been easy for 4-year-old Bryce Tory, a Simi Valley youngster born with a congenital heart defect. But on Sunday, Bryce was all smiles when he learned his ultimate wish, to meet his favorite professional race car driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. in Texas this week, had been granted by the Make-A-Wish Foundation of the Tri-Counties. The foundation surprised Bryce and his parents, Yvonne and Dave Tory, on Sunday with a party at MB2 Raceway in Newbury Park to announce the news. Bryce and his family will be given a police and firefighter escort as they leave their home in Simi Valley for the airport on Thursday. Once in Texas, they will catch a helicopter ride to the racetrack to meet NASCAR driver Earnhardt Jr. and possibly see his #88 race car.(see full article at the Ventura County Star)(11-3-2009)
Delphi continues relationship with Hendrick Motorsports: Delphi announced that it will continue its associate sponsorship of Hendrick Motorsports during the 2010 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season. The announcement was made at a press conference held at the Automotive Aftermarket Products Expo (AAPEX) in Las Vegas. Delphi will be the primary sponsor for two Sprint Cup races with driver Mark Martin in the #5 Delphi/GoDaddy.com Chevy. The race details will be announced in the near future. Additionally, Delphi will be an associate sponsor of all Hendrick Motorsports 2010 Sprint Cup entries. Delphi will continue to be featured on the uniforms of all Hendrick Motorsports drivers for the 2010 season, including four-time Sprint Cup champion #24-Jeff Gordon, three-time defending Sprint Cup champion #48-Jimmie Johnson, #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr. and #5-Mark Martin. "Our long-standing relationship with Delphi has been fantastic," said Rick Hendrick, owner of Hendrick Motorsports. "The association has been incredibly important to our company from both a quality and technology standpoint, and we look forward to having Delphi continue as a key partner for the 2010 season."(HMS)(11-3-2009)
McGrew will stay with Earnhardt, Jr.: Hendrick Motorsports owner Rick Hendrick has named Lance McGrew the full-time crew chief of the #88 AMP Energy/National Guard Chevys driven by Dale Earnhardt Jr. in the Sprint Cup Series. The 41-year-old McGrew assumed the role May 28 on an interim basis. "I have total faith in Lance and what he's capable of accomplishing with Dale Jr.," Hendrick said. "There was a lot of pressure with how he came into this deal, and the way he's handled it has been extremely impressive. Lance is confident in himself and in his decisions, and all the outside distractions aren't going to faze him. He's a strong-willed guy who will keep his eye on the ball and not settle." McGrew will complete the final four races of the 2009 schedule, beginning with this weekend's AMP Energy 500 at Talladega, Ala., and return in 2010, which will mark the 11th full-time Sprint Cup season for Earnhardt.(Hendrick Motorsports PR)(10-30-2009)
Steve Addington looking at options: Steve Addington said he was "surprised" by the change that will put replace him as Kyle Busch's crew chief and plans to explore all options inside and outside of Joe Gibbs Racing. On Tuesday, JGR announced that Dave Rogers, who has worked in JGR's Nationwide Series program will take over as crew chief of the #18 following Sunday's race at Tallaadega Superspeedway. Is it possible that Addington will leave JGR for another Sprint Cup Series team? "That would be ironic," Addington said Friday morning at Talladega. "Yes, I'm going to look at everything." One of those options could be the #2 Penske Racing car of Kurt Busch, which is losing Pat Tryson to Michael Waltrip Racing after this season. #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr. also could be in the market for a new crew chief, but Addington said he has yet to be contacted by anyone high up at Hendrick Motorsports.(ESPN.com)(10-30-2009)
"Get on the 88" scheme at Talladega: Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s #88 AMP Energy/National Guard Chevy will have a different look this weekend, thanks to the "Get on the 88" promotion from AMP Energy. More than 105,000 fans signed up to put their names on the #88 Chevy or pit wall banner for this weekend's AMP Energy 500 at Talladega Superspeedway. The #88 Chevy will feature more than 70,000 names on its black-and-green paint scheme for this weekend's race, while the additional names will appear on the pit wall banner. The fans who signed up to "Get on the 88" can go to www.AMPEnergy.com to find out if their names are on Earnhardt's Chevrolet or pit wall banner. By entering the same e-mail address used during registration, fans can search a grid on the car to see where their names are located. Earnhardt Jr. has led all but two of the 19 Sprint Cup races he has entered at Talladega for a total of 655 laps. Interim crew chief Lance McGrew and the #88 engineers have chosen Hendrick Motorsports Chassis No. 88-475 for this weekend's 500-mile event at Talladega. Earnhardt Jr. last drove this chassis to a 39th-place finish Daytona in July after being in involved in a mid-race accident. Before that, Earnhardt Jr. raced this chassis to a season-high second-place finish at Talladega in April.(HMS), see images of the "Get on the 88" scheme on my #88 Team Schemes page.(10-29-2009)
Earnhardt Jr. presenting at CMA Awards: #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr. will make a pit stop with country's finest when he appears as a presenter at the Nov. 11 Country Music Awards, the Nashville-based CMA tells People Magazine. Earnhardt is part of a round of presenters announced by the CMA for ceremony, which will air on ABC. Others include LeAnn Rimes, Kellie Pickler, Julianne Hough, and nominees Randy Houser (for new artist and video of the year) and Jake Owen (for new artist), along with the network's Robin Roberts and the stars of ABC's Wednesday night comedy The Middle, Patricia Heaton and Neil Flynn.(People.com)(10-28-2009)
Danica and JR Motorsports/MWR? ESPN.com has confirmed that IndyCar Series driver Danica Patrick is talking with JR Motorsports and Michael Waltrip Racing about running a limited schedule of about eight Nationwide Series races -- plus a few Truck and maybe ARCA events -- in 2010. Kevin Harvick Inc. could be a player. But sources say those aren't the only options as Patrick begins preparing for a potential NASCAR career after her IndyCar career is over.(see more at ESPN Insiders)(10-21-2009)
Jr. Nation fans to have names on the #88: At this year's AMP Energy 500 at Talladega Superspeedway, thousands of members of JR Nation will see their names on Earnhardt's #88 AMP Energy/National Guard Chevy as part of the AMP Energy "Get on the 88" promotion, which has ended. See an image of the scheme on my #88 Team Schemes page.
The more than 70,000 fans who signed up to "Get on the 88" can go to www.AMPEnergy.com to see where their names will be on the No. 88 AMP Energy "Get on the 88"/National Guard Chevrolet that Earnhardt will drive Nov. 1 at Talladega Superspeedway. AMP Energy unveiled the special paint scheme at www.AMPEnergy.com last weekend.(10-19/20-2009)
Hendrick leans toward keeping McGrew: Rick Hendrick is committed to Lance McGrew remaining #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s crew chief for the rest of the Sprint Cup season and appears to be leaning toward keeping them together in 2010. "My philosophy has always been if you can fix something rather than start all over then I'd whole lot rather fix it," the owner of Hendrick Motorsports said before Saturday night's Sprint Cup race at Lowe's Motor Speedway. "When I see the car as the best car out there in my group for two or three of the races and then just have crappy luck, it's almost like, 'Hey, let's focus on the little things that can make it better.' " Hendrick's comments came 24 hours after Earnhardt expressed frustration with how his season has gone since switching from long-time crew chief Tony Eury Jr. to McGrew in June. Hendrick said he is encouraged with the performance of the team, noting again bad luck has contributed to six straight finishes of 17th or worse that has Earnhardt buried at 22nd in points. Hendrick said Earnhardt's struggles have made it tough for him to enjoy the success of his other three drivers. Jimmie Johnson entered Saturday's race first in points, followed by Mark Martin in second and Jeff Gordon in fifth. Hendrick said he has no timetable for when he will make a decision on Earnhardt's crew chief for next season. He wasn't quite sure what his driver meant when he said he needed a "dictator" like he had when Tony Eury Sr. was his crew chief in the Nationwide Series and early in the Cup series. But Hendrick didn't sound like a man that was ready to make a major change. "All I can look for in a team is we're getting better rather than backing up, and we're getting better," he said. "This is a hard deal. Sometimes, when you start to doing good and then you have a problem, it's worse than when you're steady Eddie. We haven't made any decisions other than we're going to try to do the best we can."(ESPN.com)(10-18-2009)
Dale Jr. feels he's at 'end of my rope': #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr. didn't sound like a driver who was sure Lance McGrew should be his crew chief in 2010. In fact, he didn't sound like a driver who was sure about anything: "I'm about to the end of my rope," he said. NASCAR's most popular driver, who for months has been upbeat about the progress he was making under McGrew, appeared as low as he's been all season Friday at Lowe's Motor Speedway. "Yeah, I feel like I don't have any control, you know," Earnhardt said before practice for Saturday night's Sprint Cup race at Lowe's Motor Speedway. "[Rick Hendrick has] put me in a great position, but I haven't made the most of it or for whatever reason we're just not getting it done. I don't know what to do. We were top-15 in practice and we go out to qualify and we were one of the worst cars here. ... It's like really encouraging one day and the next day it's equally discouraging. That gets really old. I'm about to the end of my rope on it." Earnhardt isn't in favor of switching crew chiefs during the last six races, but he didn't give McGrew the ringing endorsement he has in the past. Hendrick recently said he planned to meet with his driver about the crew chief following this weekend's race. "I don't have the credentials to make the call," said Earnhardt, who made the switch to McGrew at midseason after a struggling start with Tony Eury Jr. "If I told you that I wanted to be with Lance next year I wouldn't be telling you that out of my knowledge of expertise and talent. I'd be telling because it's fun hanging out with him. Hell, you don't even know if Lance wants to do it. Hell, I wouldn't want it. It's a tough job." Earnhardt said whomever he works with needs to be a dictator like Tony Eury Sr., who was his crew chief for 16 of his 18 victories. Asked if McGrew wasn't that type of crew chief, Earnhardt said, "I didn't say that." Earnhardt added that Eury Sr. would have no interest in moving from his job as the crew chief for the #88 Nationwide Series team at JR Motorsports. Earnhardt is 22nd in points. His teammates are first (#48-Jimmie Johnson), second (#5-Mark Martin) and fifth (#24-Jeff Gordon). They have 11 wins among them. He has none.(see full story at ESPN.com)(10-16-2009)
Dale Jr. still leads drivers in sales: Danica Patrick has won just 1 of 81 IRL races (1.23%). But Dale Earnhardt Jr. has Patrick easily beat on that winning percentage. "Little E" has won 1 of the last 129 Sprint Cup races (0.77%) and he's 0 for the last 51.
Yet, Earnhardt seems to be humming along in the business world. This week, Nationwide announced this week it was renewing its deal with him and we just got the NASCAR.com SuperStore sales rankings and guess what? Earnhardt is in his familiar No. 1 spot. Here's the list of the Top 10 best-selling drivers on the Web site:
Top 10 Best-Selling Drivers
1. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
2. Tony Stewart
3. Jeff Gordon
4. Jimmie Johnson
5. NASCAR-branded items
6. Kyle Busch
7. Carl Edwards
8. Kasey Kahne
9. Mark Martin
10. Dale Earnhardt Sr.(CNBC.com)(10-14-2009)
Earnhardt Jr. hopes to sign Danica: Dale Earnhardt Jr. said Friday he has the utmost respect for Danica Patrick, the driver he hopes to sign to race a few Nationwide Series events next season for his JR Motorsports team. "I like Danica a lot," Earnhardt said. "I consider myself friends with her. It's interesting to see her interest in NASCAR. It's interesting for all of us. If we're a piece of that and we play a part in that, we'll have to see going down the road." Earnhardt said it is all in the hands of his sister, Kelley Earnhardt Elledge, his business manager. "Kelley's been managing the conversations between Danica and our team," Earnhardt said. "It's still in the early stages. I haven't really gotten in the middle of it." JR Motorsports is trying to reach a deal for Patrick to drive in eight to 10 Nationwide races next year. She is expected to continue to race full-time in the IndyCar Series for Andretti Green Racing.(ESPN.com)(10-10-2009)
Dale Jr. expects crew chief to stay same in 2010 UPDATE: from a Chevy Racing transcript, #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr. was asked:
Q) ON WORKING WITH LANCE MCGREW, HAVE ANY DECISION BEEN MADE ABOUT HIS COMING BACK NEXT YEAR AS CREW CHIEF?
A) "Well, I just want to make it clear, I guess, that the decision is Rick's (Hendrick) and his management team. I like working with Lance. I get along great with Lance. We have had some great runs and I feel like I can build on that type of success and it happened more often, more consistently with Lance. And I hope that we're successful the rest of the year and that we go into next season with the same group of guys. But the decision isn't mine, and never will be mine. So, I hope that we'll have more success and continue to give Rick and the people that do make those types of decisions good reason to keep us as a team and keep us working together because I really do enjoy working with him. I feel like I'm a different race car driver than I've been over the last several years; just my temperament and my disposition throughout the races and the weekend. I still have to check myself every once in a while; I get a little angry, but just during practice and stuff when something you do to these cars can frustrate you. But for the most part, Lance is really great at controlling the situation and controlling our team and directing our team throughout the weekend and the races themselves. I've enjoyed the experience working with him."(Chevy Racing)(10-3-2009)
UPDATE: Hendrick Motorsports officials will sit down and determine whether Lance McGrew will remain as Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s crew chief probably in the next couple of weeks, team owner Rick Hendrick said Sunday.(SceneDaily)(10-5-2009)
Danica talking to Hendrick about NASCAR ride: Danica Patrick and Dale Earnhardt, Jr., may soon be involved in a limited NASCAR arrangement, NASCAR team owner Rick Hendrick confirmed to SI.com. The other side of the Patrick puzzle may soon fall into place as Hendrick said Sunday afternoon that Patrick's agent at IMG has met with the team about a limited schedule of ARCA and NASCAR Nationwide Series races to go along with the IndyCar Series contract she signed to remain at Andretti Green Racing. According to Hendrick, the plan would be to put Patrick in the JR Motorsports team that is owned by Hendrick driver Earnhardt, Jr. with sponsorship from GoDaddy.com. "We have no deal but she has spoke with Kelley Earnhardt [Dale Jr's sister who handles that teams business affairs] about a limited number of NASCAR races in that car," Hendrick told SI.com. "I have had some conversation and Kelley Earnhardt has had some conversation with that but Kelly is heading that up. GoDaddy.com would be involved because of their involvement with Danica and with JR Motorsports. Kelley talked to her in the last week. We are looking at how it matches up with her IndyCar schedule. We are interested and think it would be neat but it has to work out for both sides." Patrick signed a three-year IndyCar Series contract with team owner Michael Andretti two weeks ago but has remained quiet on that subject because of sponsor demands who want to have a major press conference to announce the signing. According to IndyCar Series sources, one of Patrick's sponsor contracts in IndyCar is about to expire so that announcement will not be made until the sponsor is ready to make the announcement. "She has signed the contract, they just want to make sure the sponsor is ready to make the announcement," said an IndyCar Series official Saturday afternoon. While details of Patrick's new contract have not been disclosed, Andretti indicated there are limits to how much racing she can do outside of IndyCar. Andretti wants his high-paid driver to focus on what he signed her to do -- try to become the first female driver ever to win the Indianapolis 500 and the IndyCar Series title. So if Patrick signs with JR Motorsports or another team, look for her to run in fewer than 10 stock car events next season. In fact, five races next season would probably be a nice, logical step for her before she attempts to increase that schedule in 2011, if she likes the progress she is making.(SI.com)(10-5-2009)
Gordon, Earnhardt, Jr. lay wreath at Arlington: In the humid stillness of Arlington National Cemetery on Thursday afternoon, #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr., #24-Jeff Gordon and team owner Rick Hendrick solemnly walked down a set of stairs toward the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. They lined up, along with a member of the military honor guard who ceremonially patrol the tomb, and then stepped forward together to place a wreath in front of the giant marble structure. Hands over their hearts, they stood silently amidst the quiet of the cemetery where more than 330,000 men and women are buried. A few minutes later, in the basement of a nearby building just down the hall from the guards' quarters, the two National Guard-sponsored drivers reflected on the magnitude of what they had just experienced. "I was just nervous," Earnhardt Jr. said. "I get real nervous around appearances, but this one was real heavy. There's a lot of responsibility, and that was definitely the case for this." Like Earnhardt Jr., Gordon had never visited Arlington before and said he regretted not doing so earlier. "This is something I think every American should experience," Gordon said. "The peace, the security that we feel in the safety of our country is because of the men and women here at Arlington."(SceneDaily)(9-25-2009)
PRS Guitars donates guitars to drivers: This year's Chevy Rock & Roll 400 marks the fifth year that one winning NASCAR driver will walk away with a four foot tall, fifty pound trophy custom designed and built by PRS [Paul Reed Smith] Guitars from Stevensville, Maryland. In addition, this year six drivers will leave the track with their own PRS guitar that will help aid many more people down the road.
Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kevin Harvick, and Clint Bowyer have each won a race in Richmond under the domain of Chevrolet. To honor their success and their efforts, PRS held a special press conference Friday at Richmond International Raceway, during which PRS President, Jack Higginbotham presented the aforementioned drivers with a PRS Corvette guitar for their individual charities. Jack Higginbotham, President of Paul Reed Smith Guitars, said, "It is our hope that each of these guitars will develop its own story and have a positive effect on the lives of others. Whether it is cancer research, shelter for the needy or assistance for underprivileged children, each driver has a passion for their cause, and we are honored to help them in their mission."
PRS's extensive involvement in racing began with a sponsorship of the world dominating factory Corvette C6.r racing team in 2003. During the past six years, PRS's involvement in racing has ranged from being a part of large-scale NASCAR events to its own grassroots "Laps For Life" charity event helping support the Kimmel Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore, Maryland.(PRS Guitars site)(9-12-2009)
Dale Jr. and Jeff Gordon visting National Guard Unit: Before heading to Richmond, #24-Jeff Gordon and #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr. will stop in Nashville, Tenn., to attend the 131st National Guard Association of the United States conference. Gordon and Earnhardt Jr. will meet with top leadership, including the National Guard's first four-star general, Gen. Craig R. McKinley.(HMS)(9-10-2009)
Tom Cruise to narrate Hendrick Documentry Film: "TOGETHER: The Hendrick Motorsports Story," NASCAR Media Group's documentary-style film chronicling the history of the eight-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship team, will air Sunday, Oct. 11 at 1:30pm/et on ABC prior to the network's Pepsi 500 race coverage from [Auto Club Speedway] Fontana, CA. Narrated by three-time Academy Award nominee Tom Cruise and presented by Pepsi, "TOGETHER" employs exclusive interviews, never-before-seen archival footage, thrilling racing sequences and rare family photography to detail the personal relationships and emotional events that have shaped one of NASCAR's most decorated organizations. The official "TOGETHER" trailer is available at www.refresheverything.com/hendrick. The Web site will feature regular updates of content from the film and provide fans the opportunity to upload video messages about their favorite Hendrick Motorsports moments. Select fan-generated clips will be shown during the Oct. 11 broadcast on ABC. The full-length version of "TOGETHER" with bonus material will be released Oct. 31 on DVD, and it will become NASCAR Media Group's first officially licensed title available on Blu-ray Disc. A portion of Hendrick Motorsports' proceeds from those sales will benefit the Levine Children's Hospital in Charlotte, N.C. Cruise, an auto racing enthusiast who starred in the 1990 NASCAR-themed motion picture "Days of Thunder," completed the narration work for "TOGETHER: The Hendrick Motorsports Story" in Los Angeles last month. The script was co-written by Emmy Award winners Shawn Truax and Ray Didinger. Film director Rory Karpf has spearheaded such projects as the Dale Earnhardt biopic "DALE," now the best-selling sports DVD in history, and the critically acclaimed "Ride of Their Lives." The NASCAR Media Group production team responsible for "TOGETHER: The Hendrick Motorsports Story" earned back-to-back Sports Emmy Awards in 2006 and 2007 for "Beyond the Wheel" and "Quest for the Cup."(HMS)(9-2-2009)
Keselowski officially signs with Penske for 2010: Penske Racing announced that Brad Keselowski will compete for the team full-time, beginning with the 2010 NASCAR season. Keselowski, a 25-year-old native of Rochester Hills, Mich., will drive the #12 Penske Dodge in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series next season. He will also run a full-season schedule in the 2010 NASCAR Nationwide Series, where he will compete for a championship with the team. "We are very excited to welcome Brad to the Penske Racing family," said Roger Penske. "Brad has shown terrific success on track the past several years and has quickly established himself as one of the top young stars in racing. He comes from an impressive family background in motorsports. He is a proven winner and a welcome addition to our team."
A third-generation driver, Keselowski has won at every level in which he has competed. He is currently ranked third in the Nationwide Series standings with three wins to his credit in 2009, including a dramatic victory in August at his home track at Michigan International Speedway. Keselowski also scored his first Cup Series win earlier this year at Talladega Superspeedway and he has produced three top-10 finishes in just eight Cup Series starts this season.
"Penske Racing is one of the top teams in all of motorsports and I am honored to join Roger Penske's organization and compete for wins with his Cup and Nationwide Series teams," said Keselowski. "This is a great opportunity for me to continue competing in the Nationwide Series and to run my first full season in the Cup Series with a strong and experienced team."(Penske Racing), no word on Stremme's plans for 2010.(9-1-2009)
Dale Jr. looking for Brad K's replacement: JR Motorsports President Kelley Earnhardt confirmed that Kelly Bires is on the list of possible replacements for Brad Keselowski should the company and the driver part ways. Many in the garage have called Bires, who turns 25 Tuesday, the front-runner for the #88 Nationwide Series ride.(FoxSports)(8-24-2009)
Different look for Dale Jr.'s car at Bristol: Dale Earnhardt's #88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevy will feature a different look at Bristol Motor Speedway with a special AMP Energy Sugar Free/National Guard silver paint scheme. AMP Energy Sugar Free offers all the power of AMP Energy without the sugar or the calories (HMS). See an image of the scheme on my #88 Team Schemes page.(8-17-2009)
Dale Jr. thinks racing can be improved: Dale Earnhardt Jr., #88 National Guard /Amp Energy Chevy met with media and discussed various things, including improving the racing:
WHAT WERE YOU GETTING AT WITH RECENT COMMENTS ABOUT NASCAR ENGINEERS COULD DO MORE TO MAKE THESE CARS COMPETITIVE? "I just think, that everyone needs to..., what I am getting at is I think we need to open our eyes a little bit, everyone. I think media could address it a little stronger. I think that the drivers could be a little more vocal about it. I think NASCAR could probably be a little more urgent in improving our product. With the ultimate result is great, exciting racing that the fans will enjoy. That the drivers enjoy and so everyone is happy. That should be our quest always, even when things are good. I feel like especially right now, we need to really, really try to turn over every stone. That includes where we are with this COT and where we feel like its development is. And where we feel like its future goes and where we feel like this car goes; how it evolves. I just have a sense of urgency over the last couple of weeks I guess to see if we can't do better. I feel like, I just remember how the other cars drove. I liked how they drove and I like how this car is safe but I want to be able to race it like we raced the other cars. NASCAR is open to all of the drivers. I was just asked a question and gave an answer. I'm not trying to start a crusade against nobody or cause anybody problems. We all, I think, the drivers, myself included, we all work together with NASCAR to do this. I am just trying to remind everyone of the optimal goal and prize for us is to have better racing. Even when things are good, we shouldn't rest on any success we may be having. We are not really where we want to be, I don't think, as a sport. We need to do thinks to excite corporate America. Excite the fans. We need to get proactive immediately to make that happen."(Chevy Racing)(8-15-2009)
350th start for Dale Jr.: #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr. will make his 350th NASCAR Sprint Cup Series start when he lines up for Sunday's CARMAX 400 at Michigan International Speedway. Since making his Cup debut on May 30, 1999, at Lowe's Motor Speedway, Earnhardt has scored 18 wins, eight pole positions, 87 top-five finishes and 140 top-10s. He ranks fifth among active full-time drivers with 6,473 laps led.(HMS)(8-15-2009)
Dale Jr's name off race track project: Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s name has been dropped from the planned $640 million motorsports park off Interstate 65 in Prichard, whose investors now plan to use a new 5-cent sales tax to help develop the complex, according to investors in the project. "Dale is focusing on racing, and his sponsor demands have gone up incredibly," Bill Futterer of PSE-3 and Futterer Partners said Tuesday evening. Futterer's Raleigh, N.C., marketing firm is working on what had been called Alabama Motorsports Park, A Dale Earnhardt Jr. Speedway. "We have agreed not to extend his personal services agreement," Futterer said. Also gone are agreements with Earnhardt's sister, Kelly Earnhardt Elledge, and his race-driver brother, Kerry Earnhardt, Futterer said. He added, "we're not upset, and they are not angry." An effort Tuesday evening to reach Earnhardt through his Hendrick Motorsports race team was unsuccessful. Gulf Coast Entertainment, the group of 30 or so investors in the project, want a name that will fit what they see as a total entertainment complex, not just a race venue, he said. The project includes three tracks - a seven-tenths-mile oval with 75,000 seats, a karting track, and a road course - plus an RV park and basic infrastructure at the 2,400-acre site along Ala. 158. But developers envision their project as a draw for hotels, entertainment and retail venues that others will develop on the property. When fully built out, developers estimate the complex could create 4,800 jobs.(Alabama Live)(8-13-2009)
Dale Jr. not feeling well: The rain may be a good break for #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr., who is being treated for flu-like symptoms. Earnhardt was an on IV at the infield medical center on Friday and team officials have put Brad Keslowski on standby as a backup driver. Keselowski is competing at nearby O'Reilly Raceway Park in Saturday night's Nationwide Series race. Crew chief Lance McGrew said Saturday morning that Earnhardt had a fever overnight, but Earnhardt feels the fever broke.(ESPN)(7-25-2009)
At this year's AMP Energy 500 at Talladega Superspeedway, thousands of members of JR Nation will see their names on Earnhardt's #88 AMP Energy/National Guard Chevy as part of the AMP Energy "Get on the 88" promotion. Race fans can enter by simply logging on to www.AMPEnergy.com. The first to sign up will see their names on Earnhardt's car and others will appear on the team's pit wall banner. Participants will be notified before the Nov. 1 race with a confirmation of where their names landed. This marks the second year of the hugely popular program. A brand new AMPEnergy.com Web site has been launched. The site features an online magazine with the latest content, events and experiences surrounding Earnhardt and AMP Energy Racing. Its dynamic content is constantly changing, and the integration of Twitter, YouTube and Flickr feeds provides up-to-the-second updates. Check out the new site, including the "Shotgun" video directed by Stacy Peralta, at www.AMPEnergy.com.(1-5-2009)
An interview with:
DALE ERNHARDT, JR. and TONY EURY, JR.
KERRY THARP: We'll roll into the winner of today's first Gatorade Duel and his crew chief, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. driver of the No. 88 AMP Energy Drink National Guard Chevrolet, his crew chief Tony Eury, Jr.
Congratulations, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. Talk about your victory out there this afternoon.
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.: You know, first off I got to thank the engine guys, because we had a little problem yesterday and they worked overnight to really get us the package that was durable and also competitive, and it was good enough to win the race. Can't thank those guys enough.
The team worked hard to get that motor changed, to get the car set up right. The setup was good. Started to race a little loose. Listed right rear tire, so Junior told me. Just tried to keep the lead. We was up there on top sliding around a little bit. The cars are pretty much a handful after about 25 laps, but that makes for good TV, I think.
I just, you know, got the next set of tires. We made some judgments. We got a little bit too far on adjustment, but the car was better. I don't know really, I can't remember everything that was going on at the end. So many position changes we were having to make, being forced to make (laughter).
We got up to about the bottom trying to take the lead, got shuffled back to about eighth, got to the top, got back to third. Tried to lay back a little bit, get a run. Got a run put together that made it happen. We got underneath the 12. I don't know if I forced him into lifting or whether we just cleared him or not, but we were able to get by him, try to keep the lead for the rest of the race.
It was fun. Real proud of my team. Proud of the effort. That was a good work ethic right there. Just a good day.
KERRY THARP: Tony, your thoughts?
TONY EURY, JR.: I mean, it was a pretty awesome deal. We was kind of worried yesterday. But like he said, the guys done a really good job of preparing the car last night. Kind of worried about how the car was going to get, if it was going to get too tight or whatever. We freed it up a little this morning. Had him too free at the start of the race. He could still handle it.
When he told me we had that tire problem, he told me he felt a vibration, so we stopped early and got that handled, just tightened him up a little bit. It was all Dale Jr. at the end. He put a move together that basically won us the race. The team couldn't be prouder. We got to build good cars, but you also have to have a great driver to be able to do that.
Q. Do you dare consider yourselves the favorite for the 500?
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.: Dare? Hmm, that's funny (laughter). I feel like we got a shot, you know what I mean? Nobody's boastful enough, I don't think, personality wise to come in here and claim that. I wouldn't expect anybody to do that.
But I thought we got a great shot. We've won some races down here, so we got to be in the group if there's a group of them.
Q. Long almost two year drought that you had, now you come out two for two. Obviously you had high expectations coming to Hendrick. Did you think you'd be this good right out of the box?
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.: Well, we got to remember we're at Daytona, too. We've had a lot of wins here. We can't really, you know, sing a whole lot of praise right just yet. We got a lot of racing left to do, a lot of tracks to go to, a lot of work in front of us.
We just got to, you know, think now. We got to think right now, What do we got to do to win the 500? We got to keep the same attitude, keep the same work ethic, take everything one at a time. We should be fine. I'm real proud and happy to have the talent that I've got on my team. The depth that I've got in the whole organization over at Hendrick is a pleasure.
Sure has to make a driver's job a lot easier. I'm just looking forward to enjoying that and being involved in that all season. We'll see what happens. We're going to work hard. We're going to keep working hard. If we're lucky and the good Lord thinks we're deserving, we should have some success.
Q. Dale, a few years ago you came through here and just won everything: Shootout, Duel, even the Nationwide race. With each win you almost dreaded it more in the sense of you hated what was going to come up for the 500, everything is going to go against you. You're starting to put together a streak like that now. How does it feel and compare to a few years ago? Seems different.
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.: Yeah, it seems different. I don't know why. I'd have to think about that one. When we were down here a couple years ago winning a lot, you could look at each other and see that me and the team were sort of like, Okay, what's going to happen? When is something going to happen that keeps us from winning the next one?
I don't know what happened. We done that a couple times. We've come down here and won a couple things, felt like the favorite, and either finished well in the 500, top five, or had blown tires and stuff like that happen to us, too. But the 500, I don't feel like that this time. As I win, as I do more winning, you guys do more writing, and there's a lot of attention and pressure comes with that attention, when people are watching, people are knowing, up to date on everything, and you're at the front, you carry a lot of attention into the next event, into the next time you perform.
But the Daytona 500 is a long, long race, and so many things happen in that race to every team, good and bad. You overcome things. You get through things. You work through things. You have more happen. You work through it. And you just have to take it best you can and hope that nothing's gonna take you out of the race.
You can think about a 70 lap race and go, Hey, man, this is what we need to do. This is the strategy. Pit stop, where we're going to stop. This is how quickly you need to be in front. You can do things to have a better shot at winning.
But the 500, you just got to run all day long. You're going to get passed. You're going to pass people. And you just got to be there at the end. It's just very hard to do. So many variables.
So I don't feel pressure as we continue to have success this week. I don't feel that pressure mounting 'cause I know how tough it is to win that race, and I just have to go in there when the race starts and do what we need to do and hopefully we have good luck.
Q. Junior, when people talk about a race car being racy, I guess they mean you can pass at will and go two and three wide. Would you call this car that, "racy", yet?
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.: No, that car in the Shootout was. It was cool. We had grip. At lap 25 or 30 on the tires today, I got very loose and I got very slick and the track was very slick and we were all having difficulty. I had Ryan kind of pinned on the bottom one time as he was challenging to take the position. He got loose or lost grip and almost come up inside of me. I had to make a little bit of a move up the racetrack that upset my car and we all come off the corner sideways.
After a while, the cars are just sliding everywhere. You can't gain overall grip. There's nothing I can ask Tony, Jr. to do that's going to give me overall grip. I think we've got everything we can maximized at this point. We can move the car from too loose to too tight and back and forth and find that happy medium, but I don't think I can gain grip.
It's kind of fun, I think. It's kind of fun to have the car moving around, sliding around. But that wouldn't be my opinion if I was running 20th in a 43 car field. That would not be fun. Hopefully we don't have ourselves in that situation on Sunday.
Q. Short of winning the pole, I think things couldn't have gone any better for you to start the deal here with Hendrick. Going into Sunday, is it hard not to think, Everybody has to beat us? Or knowing what you just said about the race, do you try to downplay the fact you look like the overwhelming favorite going into the race?
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.: I don't feel like our car looks to me or appears to be strong enough to have that kind of confidence going into the race. It's a good car, and we won today. We seem to have a great package.
But I would have to be a little bit stronger personally and then I would have that type of confidence that, you know, it's my race to lose.
I'm talking Dale Jarrett, Bill Elliott dominance, you know, where you're just fast, nobody can pass you, you lead every lap. We don't have that, not with these cars, not with the ability these guys have to make slingshot moves and runs and get runs on you.
I made a bad move in the middle of that race. Luckily, we were only in about a 20 car at that point it was about an eight car pack. That move might have cost me 20 positions on Sunday where I only lost eight today.
You know, it's a totally different race. I got to do everything right. Team's got to have good stops. A lot of variables.
Q. Junior, have you ever had a car that felt like that, where you felt you could pass any time you wanted here? Secondly, Tony, Jr. said a move you made won the race. Explain that move, please.
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.: Tony, Jr.?
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.: He's going to leave if you don't have any more questions for him.
Q. My question is for you. I was next in line.
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.: Competition out here. Whoa! Competitive. Eight person field here. Y'all run a hard race all day long, don't you (laughter)? That's fun to see. Let's see some more.
Are y'all going to release Tony, Jr. 'cause he's got work to do?
KERRY THARP: A couple people have questions for him.
Q. Today was a pretty cool day. The forecast is for pretty warm weather Sunday, close to 80 degrees. Tire concerns? Not making a full fuel run now. Hair pulling over the next couple days, concerns? Also from a driver standpoint, Dale?
TONY EURY, JR.: It's definitely in my eyeballs. You know, we looked at the temperature today. That's why we kind of run pretty close to our Shootout setup. It worked out good. We freed the car up just a little bit. It was a little bit freer.
But you're right, you're probably looking at 10 degrees hotter on Sunday, which is going to be totally a lot less grip. So I might have to tighten the car up quite a bit. But I can't overtighten the car because if I do I'm going to blister a right front.
So it's like he said, you got to find that balance. That's all we're going to be working on Friday afternoon, Saturday afternoon, we're going to work on the balance of the car, try to get a little bit more grip in it. We can do a few things.
You can put all the grip in the world, but your car is going to slow down. You have to find that happy medium and figure that out. We know that's coming and it's going to be a totally different race from what you had today when it comes Sunday.
Q. How was Sea World?
TONY EURY, JR.: Sea World was great.
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.: He don't never go nowhere. I was calling him, What's up, man? Now you're having fun. I'm proud of him.
TONY EURY, JR.: Never been down to anything like that. I'm either at home are at work. The wife was happy, so I'll be good for a couple more weeks.
KERRY THARP: Tony Eury, Jr., thank you. We'll release you.
Q. How important was it to bring Eury with you over to Hendrick? I assume some of the success you're experiencing this week was a result of being able to bring him with you.
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.: We have a really good, close, strong relationship that goes beyond the racetrack. As we get older and understand how important that is, we take better care of it and we want it to last. You know, we have family and aunts and moms and stuff like that that are important to us. Mine and his relationship is, you know, it's important that we keep it, and it's strong.
I like Tony, Jr. a lot. I like to be a part of his life and do things that he does and help him do things, help him acquire things.
Q. You were talking about having a car like Dale Jarrett and Bill Elliott had back in the day, could pass anybody. Have you ever had that car here? Secondly, Tony, Jr. said a move you made won that race. Could you explain that?
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.: Yeah, I don't think I've ever had that car down here. We had a real good one when we won it. I had another car that I thought would have won the race hands down when it got rained out. Michael won. We had a battery issue. We were making laps up. I thought we were going to go right by the field no problem, win that race.
The move that we made was the one I was talking about how it was like 12 to go or something, coming 10 to go maybe. 12 was leading, 41 was second. I run about four laps behind them, wasn't going to make any gains or runs on them that way, so I moved back a little bit and tried to get some people packed up behind me. I had Casey back there. Don't know who was behind him. We really couldn't get packed up behind each other, get to pushing each other. There was about 20 laps on our tires at that point. They were starting to get slick.
So he couldn't really give me a great shove like I was hoping to make happen. But I got it backed up there pretty good, come off of two and let it rip. Lifted often the brake, just let the car do whatever. I just wanted to see what it would do. I didn't think it was going to be a pass. I didn't think it was going to try to make a pass because I didn't think I'd get that good of a run.
We got down into three. We'd been running at the top. So everybody drove into the top of the racetrack. I had a pretty good run. I just made that mistake about 10 laps before that of going to the bottom and ended up by myself down there, lost a lot of spots. I just almost didn't do it. But I wanted to try to win. Thought maybe I don't know, I drove down there. I didn't think I was going to clear him. I looked up in the middle of the corner. I didn't think I was going to clear him, but I did.
Q. No driver has ever pulled off the Trifecta here by winning the Shootout, the Duel and 500. What would it mean for you to be able to do that?
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.: It would mean we have a good race car. It would mean that we have some awesome stuff down here. I'm just going to try to do whatever I can to win that race. It's going to be hard to win it, but it's going to be hard for everybody.
Q. Do you feel like your new teammates are envious at all, you coming in and doing well right away?
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.: I haven't talked to them. I don't think so. You're envious of people that win. That's common. Human nature. I would be envious. I wouldn't be jealous. I'd be proud and happy knowing that I had the same opportunity and was given the same opportunity.
Envy is fine. I think that's human nature and not necessarily a bad thing in the right situation.
Q. They haven't expressed that to you?
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.: Jeff and those guys, I would be envious if Jimmie or Jeff were winning all the races. I would be happy, too, you know, because it's my team. I drive for them. That's my job. Some way, somehow, even if you don't drive for the car that goes to Victory Lane, you have some indirect effect on getting it there.
So still you take a little pride and a little joy any time a teammate of yours wins a race.
Q. Are you now comfortable with the engines? The problems have passed, you're confident going in?
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.: I am now. I was surprised at the way they went back and responded to that. We had a problem in the test. They responded like it was some kind of emergency. They were all over the motors. Did the same thing down here. We had a problem, they got all over the engines, found out what the problem was. Within two hours they were already working on the remedies, fixing what we needed to fix so it wouldn't happen again.
I feel bad for them because they don't they don't anticipate having those problems. To have to deal with it, it was really a four alarm fire there for a second. I'm glad they got through it for their sake. Happy for them that we were able to give them some success today, give them some good confidence on what they did going into the 500. I don't want them guys sweating bullets. When the race starts, I want them to enjoy it. Hopefully we can get up front and stay there.
Q. The "mistake" that you were referring to earlier had to be when you got hung down low and the seven cars were up above you. Typically at this race they blow by you. You hung by yourself down there with that pack for quite a while. That's got to make you feel pretty good about what's underneath you right now.
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.: Yeah, it does. It's not fun, though, having to stay there and look in the mirror and see nothing's going to come to change the situation and what's happening to you.
But, yeah, I'm glad that I've got a car that can maintain, if anything, sit there, sit there, aggravate those guys as long as I can until someone comes. But at that point the tires were so used and worn, everybody was going to stay at the top. That's the smart thing to do.
Jimmie did the same thing. He got down there and ended up getting trained by all of us. You could see it in this race here, too, the top is the way to go. After the tires get used up, you can't make any moves on the bottom. It's too slick.
Q. How important is it to be flexible at this racetrack? Seems more than any other place, you have to go with what's either behind you, in front of you, below you? Is it more true here than any other racetrack?
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.: The big part of having decent success here is the talent of your spotter. I tell T.J., who is my spotter, that he needs to tell me what's happening behind me as if he had just gotten home Monday and was telling his girlfriend how the race unfolded. This guy's doing this, then this guy did that, then this guy lined behind him, then this guy did that. That's how I want him to explain it to me so I don't have to look in the mirror. I don't have to focus so much in the mirror because he's telling me the race, how everything's going. He's painting that picture for me as best he can paint it.
It helps me know before they get the run, whichever lane, if it's outside or inside, it helps me know which lane's going to come before it gets there. And if he says, The 41 is a car length off the 12, the guy behind him is pushing the 41, then I know in a matter of another straightaway and a half the 41 will get to the 12 and push him, so the 12's going to have a run probably in three quarters of a lap. I can kind of plan out what I'm going to be doing at that point to fix that and stop it and counter it.
But T.J. is learning a lot. He's drove cars before. That also helps. That's why you see a lot of drivers, exdrivers, that are spotters because they know what you want to hear. When you're up there spotting, as a driver, you know what you want to hear as a driver. It's real easy for those guys to do well at that job.
That's really important. That sort of helps me understand how the race is playing out behind me so I know what to do.
Q. During practice weeks, even when you weren't driving, you were smiling a lot. Now you're smiling a lot. Does the mood have something to do with the performance or with your team?
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.: Well, I think everybody knows if you go into something with a poor attitude, you typically have poor results or you have a miserable time anyways.
That ain't saying that I go to all these tracks with a smile on my face. But I do enjoy being in Daytona. I have enjoyed this relationship. Up to this point, it's been great, more than we ever could have dreamed of as far as the success we're having. I'm proud. I'm just happy that we're able to have this and thankful for it.
But, yeah, good attitude's important. I try to make sure, more importantly than my attitude, I try to make sure my team has one. I try to keep my guys pumped up because they're the ones putting that car underneath me. That matters probably more, their attitude, their anticipation and how they look forward to the event.
Q. It was mentioned earlier that the track was really beat up and tough running on. How do you feel about the track, the condition of it?
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.: The bumps aren't so severe right now that I would ask for it to be fixed. I mean, it can be improved or it can be fixed, but it's not so extreme bump wise. The surface is worn and the tires are taking a beating and you're blistering tires. But that will go away. We always see that at the beginning of the week.
But as we rubber the track up with the Nationwide race and Truck race, the track seems to do a better job of taking care of the tires in the 500.
I would say that this car makes it a little bit more challenging. After 20 laps, it was definitely more challenging to drive the car, even running out front and up high. You're correcting the car, sliding the right rear into the corner, backing into the fence, into the entrance of every corner. It gets a little loose off, too.
It's way easier to do that when you're leading than when you're running second or third. I was behind Newman as our tires started to fade. Good Lord, it's tough. I know what those guys are going through when they're behind me now. It makes me feel better about that, about being able to hold my position as I'm leading the race, knowing how difficult it is running second or third. I can't imagine running 20th with still 20 more cars behind you, pushing you down in the corner, you got no air on the car because of the field in front of you. It's going to be a challenge.
The track itself is all right. It's hard to pave a place like this. I wouldn't anticipate them doing it for another five or so years.
KERRY THARP: Dale Jr., congratulations. Appreciate your time.
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.: Thank you.