2016 #95 Driver / Sponsors:
1) Daytona - 2/21, Ty Dillon / Cheerios
2nd car, #59, Michael McDowell, Thrivent Financial(2)/K-LOVE
2) Atlanta - 2/28, Michael McDowell, Thrivent Financial(2)
3) Las Vegas - 3/6, McDowell, WRL General Contractors
4) Phoenix - 3/13, McDowell, Thrivent(3)
5) Auto Club - 3/20, McDowell, WRL General Contractors
6) Martinsville - 4/3, McDowell, K-LOVE
7) Texas - 4/9, Ty Dillon(2) / Nexium24
8) Bristol - 4/17, McDowell, K-LOVE
9) Richmond - 4/24, McDowell, WRL General Contractors/MastiClean
10) Talladega - 5/1, McDowell, Thrivent(4)
11) Kansas - 5/7, McDowell, WRL General Contractors
12) Dover - 5/15, McDowell, WRL General Contractors
Charlotte, Sprint Showdown - 5/20, McDowell, WRL General Contractors
13) Charlotte - 5/29, McDowell, Thrivent, patriotic
14) Pocono - 6/5, Ty Dillon(3), Blake's Snow Shack / Breckenridge Village of Tyler
15) Michigan - 6/12, Ty Dillon(4), Red Kap / Nexteer Automotive
16) Sonoma - 6/28, McDowell, KLOVE
17) Daytona - 7/2, McDowell, KLOVE
18) Kentucky - 7/9, Ty Dillon(5), Chevy Summer Sell Down
19) New Hampshire - 7/17, McDowell, Malwarebytes
20) Indianapolis - 7/24, McDowell, Thrivent(6)
21) Pocono - 7/31, McDowell, Malwarebytes
22) Watkins Glen - 8/7, McDowell, Thrivent(7)
23) Bristol - 8/20, McDowell, Thrivent(8)
24) Michigan - 8/28, McDowell, Thrivent(9)
25) Darlington - 9/4, McDowell, Thrivent(10), Childress throwback
26) Richmond - 9/10, McDowell, TBA
27) Chicago - 9/18, McDowell, Thrivent(11)
28) New Hampshire - 9/25, McDowell, TBA
29) Dover - 10/2, Ty Dillon(6) / TBA
30) Charlotte - 10/8, McDowell, Thrivent(12)
31) Kansas - 10/16, McDowell, Thrivent(13)
32) Talladega - 10/23, McDowell, TBA
33) Martinsville - 10/30, McDowell, TBA
34) Texas - 11/6, McDowell, Thrivent(14)
35) Phoenix - 11/13, McDowell, TBA
36) Homestead - 11/20, McDowell, Thrivent(15)
Contract Status: Drivers: 2016; Primary Sponsors: 2016
Hornish to fill in for McDowell in #95 for practice & qualifying at MIS: Circle Sport - Leavine Family Racing (CSLFR) announced that Sam Hornish Jr. will fill in for Michael McDowell on Friday and Saturday during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race weekend at Michigan International Speedway. McDowell is scheduled to race in the NASCAR XFINITY Series at Road America for Richard Childress Racing on Friday and Saturday. He will then travel to Michigan International Speedway and drive the #95 Thrivent Financial Chevy on Sunday in the Pure Michigan 400 for Circle Sport.(Leavine Family Racing)(8-23-2016)
Ty Dillon Says He's Ready To Move to Cup: For Ty Dillon, Friday's Food City 300 at Bristol Motor Speedway marks a milestone in the third-generation driver's NASCAR Xfinity Series career - his 100th start - but it also solidifies his belief he's ready for a full-time Sprint Cup ride. "I'm ready to make that step (into the Sprint Cup Series)," Dillon said. "I feel confident as a driver that I can go and compete inside the top 10, top 15 in the Sprint Cup Series if I get a full-time gig." Dillon has driven a limited schedule in the Sprint Cup Series with #95-Circle Sport-Leavine Family Racing and Stewart-Haas Racing (subbing for Stewart in the #14). "I've had really good talks and there are a lot of positive things coming," Dillon said. "I feel really comfortable with where my future is going as far as my goal of being in the Sprint Cup Series; also, being a part of the Xfinity Series, which is important to me, too. I want to continue to run races in the Xfinity Series no matter where I go or what I do."(RacinToday)(8-19-2016)
McDowell to make 200th Cup start: NASCAR driver Michael McDowell will celebrate his 200th career Sprint Cup Series start when he takes the green flag at Watkins Glen International this Sunday. The nine-year NASCAR veteran will pilot the #95 Thrivent Financial Chevy for Circle Sport-Leavine Family Racing in the Cheez-It 355. McDowell is thrilled to celebrate this milestone at a track filled with such rich racing history and where he has recorded seven starts. Last year he was able to capture his best finish, a Top-20, which he hopes to improve on after the team tested at the track just last week and had fast times on the leaderboard during green flag runs. "Two hundred starts is crazy," said McDowell. "I'm excited for another road course race. We had a great test at Watkins Glen last week, and it was very helpful having the test since they have a new surface at the track now." Thrivent Financial will be the primary sponsor of the #95 Chevy during the Watkins Glen race weekend (CSLFR95 PR), see full all-time list on the All-Time / Consecutive Starts page.(8-4-2016)
McDowell's Darlington scheme to honor Richard Childress: Circle Sport - Leavine Family Racing unveiled its throwback paint scheme for the upcoming Bojangles' Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway. The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series team will honor Richard Childress by running a special #95 Thrivent Financial Chevrolet SS paint scheme saluting Childress' 1973 #3 Kansas Jack car. Childress may be a legendary car owner in NASCAR today, but the Winston-Salem, N.C. native started his career in the drivers' seat and collected six Top-5 and 76 Top-10 finishes between 1969-81. He went on to finish fifth in the NASCAR premier series standings in 1975 before retiring as a driver in 1981.
"Back in those days, the 'independents' like us all worked on our own cars and drove the trucks," recalled Childress of his driving career. "I loved it! I loved the driving part of it. We'd work 60-70 hours a week just to get to drive. I loved Darlington, it was one of my favorite tracks. It was really narrow back then had guard rails around it. I'll never forget being there as a rookie and taking it all in."
CSLFR is a modern-day independent team, running a single-car entry in the NSCS. The team entered a technical alliance with Richard Childress Racing at the start of the 2016 season and is thrilled to represent the newly inducted NASCAR Hall of Fame member with this historical paint scheme at Darlington Raceway.(Circle Sport - Leavine Family Racing), see images of the car on the #95 team paint schemes page.(7-19-2016)
Michael & Jami McDowell adopt son: While NASCAR driver Michael McDowell was at the Richard Childress Racing shop recently, making preparations for an upcoming XFINITY Series start with the organization, McDowell's wife was thousands of miles away. In China. When Jami McDowell returns next week, she will arrive with the newest member of the McDowell household, 3-year-old son Lucas. "I wish I could be there," Michael McDowell said. "I have obligations here and need to make sure I can provide for my family, too." The McDowells already have three children -- Trace, Emma and Rylie -- but were first-time parents when they initially decided to go the adoption route. "That was our plan," McDowell said. "We were going to have one and then we were going to adopt one. We felt like with our lifestyle and travel and everything, two is manageable. But God had other plans, and while we were waiting we had two more, so now we'll be at four. And four is not manageable on the road and all those things. But at the same time, I'm very thankful to be in this sport and have the opportunities that I have." The family's faith started the McDowells down the road to adoption. And while it has taken longer than expected -- six years -- that faith never wavered. Even as their family continued to grow. "Our son Lucas, he's 3 now, but he was left in the street at five days old because he has cleft hand and feet. Something here that would be very small, something that ... you can operate and help them be able to walk and grab and do all the things that your other kids can do. But over there, it's 'Well, he's not perfect. There's something wrong with him.'"(NASCAR.com)(7-13-2016)
Ty Dillon back in the #95 at Kentucky: Ty Dillon will drive the #95 Chevy Summer Sell Down Chevy at Kentucky Speedway. The chassis, prepared by Richard Childress Racing, was previously raced by the #31 Sprint Cup Series team and Ryan Newman. Newman drove chassis No. 504 to a seventh-place finish earlier this season at Kansas. Dillon will be making his Sprint Cup Series debut at Kentucky . A deal as impressive as their award-winning vehicles, head to your local Chevrolet dealership this weekend for the Chevy Summer Sell Down. With a purchase of a new Chevrolet, you get 20% of MSRP cash back. Dillon will be making his eighth start in the Cup Series, and his fifth in the #95 Chevy. Dillon has finished 25th or better in each of his seven starts (RCR / CSLFR), see image of the scheme on the #95 Teams Schemes page.(7-7-2016)
Hillman drops lawsuit: Mike Hillman Racing (#40 Chevy) has voluntary dismissed its lawsuit (indicating a settlement) against Circle Sport-Leavine Familuy Racing (#95 Chevy) over the charter.(ESPN's Bob Pockrass Twitter)(7-1-2016)
New sponsor for the #95 at Sonoma after Malware attack: Circle-Sport Leavine Family Racing (CSLFR) was rear-ended by a ransomware attack in April forcing the team to fork over about $600 to regain access to essential team records. Leavine, which races the #95 Chevy in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, was hit on April 5 with TeslaCrypt which locked up all the files on crew chief Dave Winston's laptop. The data held hostage included car set ups, car part lists, and custom high-profile simulation packages valued at $2 million. The team estimated that to recreate this data, it would have taken the team nearly 1,500 man-hours. Winston said that he had a moment of "pure panic" when he realized something had gone wrong with his computer. The attack took a few hours to unfold with Winston watching as file after file, none of which were backed up, was encrypted. In the end he attempted to open a file and was presented with the ransomware note. "Then we spent 24 hours trying to figure out what happened," Winston said, adding the team's IT person was consulted and they called local computer repair shops. "But we discovered there was nothing we could do." Leavine decided to pay the ransom because the cost and time involved replacing the information would have damaged the team's chances in its upcoming race. The general rule of thumb in the security industry, and one now endorsed by the FBI, is to never pay a ransom because giving in to the criminal's demands does not guarantee the data will be released and the victim could simply be targeted again. This was the greatest fear running through Winston's mind, that even after paying the files would not be released, but in this case almost all were recovered. However, without the data in hand the team would have been at a distinct disadvantage during that week's race.
A team spokesperson said they were unaware Teslacrypt had been rendered useless at that time and that decryptor keys were available. CSLFR is now working with Malwarebytes to promote ransomware awareness. The team's car will sport a Malwarebytes' logo as an associate sponsor for the next few weeks and then the company will come on board as a full-time sponsor at a few races in 2016, including New Hampshire in July (SCMagazine.com and see more at NASCAR.com, Forbes.com and BusinessWire.(6-24-2016)
RCR XFINITY sponsors set up to Cup with Ty Dillon at Michigan: Ty Dillon will pilot chassis #491 for this weekend's Firekeepers Casino 400 at Michigan International Speedway. This Chevrolet SS was prepared by Richard Childress Racing and has been previously raced by the #27 and #31 teams, including a top-10 finish at Texas Motor Speedway in April 2015. Dillon made his Sprint Cup Series career debut at MIS last season driving the #33 Nexium 24HR Chevrolet SS to a 14th-place finish. Dillon has made several starts in NASCAR's two other premier series, including one top-10 finish in two starts in the XFINITY Series and one top-five and two top-10 finishes in the Camping World Truck Series. Sponsors at Michigan will be Nexteer Automotive and Red Kap. Dillon counts on Nexteer Automotive's steering technology to deliver precise, high-performance under intense conditions. Mere seconds can mean the difference between winning and losing, so Richard Childress Racing chooses Nexteer - renowned for exceptional handling, performance and safety. Nexteer provides electric and hydraulic power steering systems, steering columns, driveline systems, advanced driver assist systems (ADAS) and autonomous technologies to global manufactures. Red Kap, the official work wear provider for RCR and ECR Engines employees, has been in business since 1923.(Circle Sport - Leavine Family Racing), see an image of the car on the #95 team paint schemes page.(6-8-2016)
Circle Sport-Leavine Family Racing raising awareness for special needs at Pocono: A young businessman from Sanger, Texas will have his snow cone business alongside Fortune 500 companies in the upcoming NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Pocono Raceway, as the #95 Chevrolet of Circle Sport-Leavine Family Racing will showcase two small businesses with causes close to their hearts this weekend. Blake Pyron became the youngest business owner in Sanger, Texas when he opened Blake's Snow Shack in early May of this year. Blake, who has Down Syndrome, made national headlines and has been featured on ABC News, Huffington Post and USA Today. The story reached the desk of Circle Sport-Leavine Family Racing team owner Bob Leavine, who calls Tyler, Texas home, along with his wife, Sharon and daughter, Melynda both of whom hold roles with the race team. The Leavine family connected with the story not only due to their Texas roots, but also on a much more personal level. "There is a place in Tyler, Texas - Breckenridge Village of Tyler - that our family has supported for a long time because of the work they do and the people there," said Leavine. "We never thought about Tanner going there - but they have taken that young man and helped him grow and contribute. Tanner has learned skills from cooking to making candles and selling them. And now he's on the waiting list to live there." Blake's story and Tanner's involvement at Breckenridge Village put the Leavine family into action. Within just a few days, they had created a new paint scheme for the #95 Chevrolet at Pocono that will promote these two companies and elevate the stories behind them. Blake and his father will attend the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race in Pocono on Sunday, June 5. The #95 crew will wear purple Blake's Snow Shack t-shirts during the race weekend - the same t-shirts that Blake wears for his business.(Circle Sport-Leavine Family Racing), see an image of the car on the #95 team paint schemes page.(6-2-2016)
Circle Sport-Leavine Family Racing: updates to Camp95: In preparation for the second annual CAMP95, in which high school students will learn about the depth of careers in NASCAR, Circle Sport-Leavine Family Racing (CSLFR) is pleased to announce the following updates for the June 28-29 session: Alan Cavanna will emcee the event and moderate the panels and guest Q&A's. The two-day line-up currently includes interviews with NASCAR drivers Michael McDowell and Ty Dillon, a Pit Crew demonstration, PR & Social Media panel, a discussion with an ECR engine specialist, inside look at race team operations and a sponsorship session. Wingate by Wyndham in Concord, N.C. will have a special rate for CAMP95 attendees and their families, offering a discounted rate for a double-bed room. The Checkered Flag Crew, comprised of 14-year-old NASCAR enthusiasts, will be on-site to interview speakers and campers and bring insight to the experience across their social media platforms, as well as "taking over" the CSLFR race team channels for the event. Queen City Q, a favorite Charlotte restaurant serving North & South Carolina-style BBQ, will provide meals both days of the camp. Students interested in attending can fill out the application at cslfr95.com/camp95. Applications are due on Monday, May 30 and only 25 campers will be chosen to participate.(CSLFR)(5-27-2016)
Special patriotic scheme for McDowell at Charlotte: Michael McDowell will run a Thrivent Financial patriotic scheme on the #95 Circle Sport - Leavine Family Racing Chevy in the Coca Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway (CSLFR Facebook), see an image of the car on the #95 team paint schemes page.(5-24-2016)
Circle Sport-Leavine Family Racing announces return of CAMP95: Circle Sport-Leavine Family Racing announced the return of CAMP95, a unique summer camp designed to provide high school students with an exclusive behind-the-scenes look at the different types of careers in NASCAR. The camp, which launched in 2015, will be expanded into a two-day program and provide an in-depth view of jobs in the racing industry with more hands-on activities and speakers. CAMP95 was designed by CSLFR to help students become more knowledgeable about racing-related careers, thereby helping to foster the connection between NASCAR and the next generation. The team hopes the guidance and advice students receive at the two-day program will help them as they reach a time in their lives where they are expected to starting making career decisions. Throughout the camp, students will have the opportunity to explore careers based in the areas of competition, sponsorship, public relations, engineering and more. Members of the race team, including drivers Michael McDowell and Ty Dillon, along with key figures from the NASCAR community will be on-hand to speak with the campers about their career paths in racing and how they got started. After attending CAMP95, campers will be invited to enter an essay contest explaining what they learned from the program for a chance to win an opportunity to shadow the team at an upcoming Sprint Cup race of their choice. Thrivent Financial, a primary sponsor of the #95 Chevrolet SS, will sponsor the winner and chaperone's travel to the race. The 2016 session of CAMP95 will be held on Tuesday, June 28 and Wednesday, June 29 at the team's race shop in Concord, N.C. Students interested in attending can fill out an application.(Circle Sport-Leavine Family Racing)(5-1-2015)
Ty Dillon still working on Sprint Cup plans: Ty Dillon talked to the media Friday at Talladega Superspeedway;
HOW MUCH DO YOU THINK GETTING CHOSEN FOR THIS HIGH PROFILE JOB REPLACING TONY HAS HELPED YOUR PROSPECTS OF GETTING A FULL-TIME CUP RIDE? WHERE DOES IT STAND WITH WHAT YOU HAVE LINED UP FOR NEXT SEASON?
"I think it's helped a lot. I was hoping to maybe be full-time this year in the Sprint Cup series about this time last year. That is where I kind of had my goals set, my eyes set, but the opportunity didn't come along. I can't thank Stewart-Haas and their organization enough for giving me the opportunity to fill in this year with Tony being out. Not only has it helped me with my career and getting better as a race car driver, but it's helped me show people that I can get the job done in other equipment too."
ANY UPDATE ON NEXT SEASON?
"I can't tell you that (laughs). No, there are a lot of good things going on. That is about as far as I'll take it."
MANAGEMENT TOLD ME LAST WEEK THEY WOULD LIKE TO SEE YOU IN A CUP CAR FULL-TIME, BUT THEY WOULD ALSO LIKE TO FIND SPONSORSHIP THAT WAS SIMILAR TO WHAT CHASE ELLIOTT HAD. WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING AT AS FAR AS SPONSORSHIP GOES?
"Right now anything suits my brand. If we can get that kind of sponsorship I'm fine with supporting anything and exposing anything. That is definitely our goal is for RCR is to find a sponsor that we can grow with over the next couple of years similar to what Chase has done. There are other opportunities that could come along to provide me to be able to run full-time in the Sprint Cup Series. I feel like I'm ready to be in the series full-time as a driver mentally and physically. This year I'm focusing on winning the Xfinity Series championship. Hopefully, make my prospect a little bit better and hopefully that opportunity comes along."(Chevy Racing PR)(4-30-2015)
MastiClean featured on the #95: The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series will take on Richmond International Raceway this Sunday, with driver Michael McDowell piloting the #95 WRL General Contractors Chevrolet SS for Circle Sport-Leavine Family Racing (CSLFR). As part of the NASCAR Race to Green initiative, CSLFR is highlighting their partnership with MastiClean this weekend at Richmond. MastiClean is a multi-purpose green cleaning solution that works on applications at home or on the job. The race team utilizes the multi-purpose cleaner for oils and grease, a scrubbing wipe for hand cleaning and surface prep, and a glass cleaner in the race shop everyday. MastiClean will be featured on the side quarter panels of the #95 Chevrolet during the Richmond race weekend.(Circle Sport-Leavine Family Racing)(4-22-2016)
Ty Dillon returns to the #95 at Texas: The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series switches gears this week, leaving short track racing behind in favor of the 1.5-mile tri-oval of Texas Motor Speedway. Ty Dillon will return to the #95 for his second race of the season with Circle Sport-Leavine Family Racing. Dillon will pilot the #95 Nexium 24HR Chevrolet SS in his Sprint Cup debut at Texas, but is no stranger to racing at Texas. The 24-year-old has never finished outside the top-15 in his 10 Camping World Truck and XFINITY Series starts at Texas, which includes a truck win in 2013. Texas will always be a special race for CSLFR partners Bob and Sharon Leavine, who moved to the state in 1985.(Circle Sport-Leavine Family Racing).(4-7-2016)
Hillman suing Circle Sport over charter: A Sprint Cup team owner's lawsuit seeks the charter NASCAR granted his former partner. Hillman Racing, team owner Mike Hillman and partners Doug Fuller and Matt Miller filed suit Friday in North Carolina Superior Court in Iredell County against former partner Joe Falk, Circle Sport, Leavine Family Racing and Circle Sport-Leavine Family Racing. Hillman Racing and its partners seek a judgment in excess of $25,000, punitive damages, rights to ownership of the #33 team, its charter and all the profits and benefits that Circle Sport-Leavine Family Racing's #95 car enjoys. Falk aligned with Leavine Family Racing before this season to form Circle Sport-Leavine Family Racing. As part of the merger, the No. 95 was maintained but inherited the #33 team's points and performance, making it eligible for one of the 36 Sprint Cup charters NASCAR granted before the season. Hillman Racing's #40 was not granted a charter because it had not competed full-time the past three seasons. The complaint by Hillman Racing states that Falk improperly entered into an agreement with Leavine Family Racing.
Court documents state that for the 2015 season, the partnership [between Hillman and Falk] agreed to divert more resources to the #40 car, making it the flagship car. The partners agreed to allow Richard Childress Racing to operate the #33 car for multiple races in return for a payment of $25,000 for all races except the Daytona 500 (in addition to other details regarding the payment of purse and plan money, etc.). RCR would pay $75,000 for the Daytona 500. The complaint alleges that before the Daytona 500 Hillman "discovered that Falk directed a sponsor for the 40 car to write the sponsorship check (for funds due from the 2014 season) payable to Circle Sport and not Hillman Racing. Of course, the parties had all previously agreed and understood that sponsorship funds were to be utilized to fund racing operations, for which Hillman Racing incurred substantial debt." After the Daytona 500, according to the complaint, Hillman and Falk agreed to terminate their partnership after the 2015 season.
Among the agreements the complaint states is that following the 2015 season, Circle Sport and Falk would "transfer all of their right, title and interest in and to the 33 points, and to all other property acquired by the Partnership to the remaining partners or an entity to be designated by them." In March 2015, then-counsel for Hillman Racing drafted a written "Purchase Agreement" for the termination of the partnership and transfer of assets, including the No. 33 car's points. The complaint states that Falk initially did not respond with any objection but later failed and refused to sign the agreement.
The complaint states that in Oct. 2015 Hillman was informed by NASCAR personnel that material terms of the charter system had been agreed upon. Court documents state that NASCAR informed Hillman that the field would be reduced from 43 to 40 cars and that 36 would receive charters. Hillman was informed that the #33 would receive a charter but not the #40.
In late January 2016, Circle Sport announced its merger with Leavine Family Racing. The complaint states that Hillman and his partners were not included in the discussions with Leavine and that the announcement came as a "surprise." The complaint states: "As a results of the circumstances described ... the 40 points are of negligible value, the Partnership is unable to race full-time during the 2016 race season, Hillman and Hillman Racing have no ability to pay for the significant debt incurred in the 2013, 2014 and 2015 race seasons, and the remaining partners have been forced to liquidate many of the Partnership's remaining assets."
See much more at NBC Sports.(3-23-2016)
Ty Dillon expected to run the #14 starting at Atlanta UPDATE: Ty Dillon is expected to drive the #14 Chevy for Tony Stewart at Atlanta, Phoenix, Auto Club Speedway and Talladega, a source with knowledge of the deal but not authorized to comment told NBC Sports. Nothing has been finalized. Stewart-Haas Racing is not expected to announce who will drive the car at Atlanta until the Wednesday after the Daytona 500. Dillon is expected to drive the races with Bass Pro sponsorship of the #14 car. Bass Pro, which has backed Dillon for years, is scheduled to be a co-primary sponsor with Mobil 1 for the Feb. 28 race at Atlanta, the March 13 race at Phoenix and the March 20 race at Auto Club Speedway. Bass Pro is scheduled to be the car's primary sponsor for the May 1 race at Talladega. Dillon's next race Circle Sport-Leavine Family Racing in the #95 is expected to be at Texas in April. Also, a candidate to drive Stewart's car at Las Vegas is Brendan Gaughan, a Las Vegas native, whose family owned South Point Hotel and Casino backs him. Vickers also is a candidate to drive the car in other races.(NBC Sports)(2-15-2016)
UPDATE: Ty Dillon acknowledged Tuesday that he's had discussions about potentially taking a substitute driving role with Stewart-Haas Racing, filling in for Tony Stewart as the three-time NASCAR champion recovers from a severe back injury. "Obviously that's something that's been talked about a lot," Dillon said. "Nothing has been finalized. Unfortunately, it kind of stinks that we're even talking about that this year." Dillon, who is locked into the Daytona 500 field with Circle Sport-Leavine Family Racing's #95 entry, could take the wheel of Stewart's #14 Chevy in the second Sprint Cup Series race of the season -- at Atlanta. Dillon said no contract has been signed, but that he hoped to have news to report "sooner or later." Negotiations have been positive, Dillon said, adding that he's honored to have his name mentioned as Stewart's interim replacement.(NASCAR.com)(2-16-2016)
UPDATE2: #95-Ty Dillon met with members of the media at Media Day at Daytona International Speedway on Tuesday, a few of the Q&A's:
ON RUMORS HE WILL DRIVE THE #14 CHEVROLET SS FOR STEWART-HAAS RACING:
Dillon: "Obviously it is something that has been talked about a lot, but nothing has been finalized. Unfortunately, it kind of stinks that we are even talking about that down here. I think everybody including myself want to Tony (Stewart) go out the right way and to able to run every single race. To get back to the question - it would be an honor for me to drive Tony's car in his last year, and hopefully do good for those guys. Nothing has been announced yet. I haven't signed anything yet. We've been in talks. Hopefully we will have some news sooner or later, but nothing is finalized yet. But, if the opportunity were to come about, I would be honored to drive the #14 car and represent Tony in his last year."
Q) IS THERE A HOLD-UP?
Dillon: "There have been a lot of stories that have come out premature. It is a slow process. There are a lot of different things that are going on. Hopefully we will have some announcement or news later on. Nothing is set in stone. I don't like to say anything until pen hits paper. Hopefully it turns out good, and like I said, it would be an honor for me to drive the #14 car if the opportunity comes about. Hopefully we will have some news sooner or later."
Q) YOU WERE ALREADY GOING TO DO A FEW CUP RACES THIS SEASON, WOULD YOU WELCOME THE OPPORTUNITY TO DO MORE?
Dillon: "Yes, definitely. As many races as I can run, bring them on. I like to be in as many cars, and especially Sprint Cup Series. It is the highest level of motorsports racing and that is where I want to be. To run it full-time this year was obviously my goal, and it didn't quite work out that way. So the opportunities I get especially with Leavine and Circle Sport Racing to go out there and build my resume and build my notebook for hopefully a next year running full-time is always something I welcome and want to bring on. So anytime any kind of opportunity comes to me to get more laps, more racing in the Sprint Cup Series, I want to take it."
ABOUT OPPORTUNITY IN THE #95 CAR:
Dillon: "It is awesome. And, to be able to represent the Leavine Family and Circle Sport Racing with Joe Faulk and the dedication they put in as team owners, and they have a charter or a medallion, whatever they are calling it out, to be locked into the race is one thing, and to be able to give them an opportunity to run well. I believe we have a shot at. We are in the Daytona 500 and have a chance to win it. For them to bring me on board to run the races I am running I take it as an honor and go out there and show everybody what we are made."
Q) EXACTLY WHERE ARE YOU IN THE NEGOTIATIONS ABOUT YOU DRIVING THE #14 CAR?
Dillon: "There's been conversations. There's been lots of conversation and hopefully we'll have something finalized soon. But, like I said, I hate to be even talking about it because this is supposed to be Tony's day. The fact that he has had such bad luck and hate that he isn't here talking about him running his last 500 and his last year. He is a legend in our sport and unfortunately if I had the opportunity to drive, it would be an honor to drive his car and hopefully it comes along."
Q) DO YOU EXPECT TO BE IN THE #14 IN ATLANTA?
Dillon: "I don't know, we will see."
Q) THE NEXT RACE FOR (#95) CIRCLE SPORT/LEAVINE IS TEXAS, CORRECT?
Dillon: "Yes - Texas. I think it is Texas, Kansas and Kentucky, maybe one more. We are looking at Dover. I think second Dover. I'm not sure."
(full transcript at Team Chevy)(2-16-2016)
Circle Sport-Leavine Family Racing Announces Driver Lineup For Daytona: Circle Sport-Leavine Family Racing announced that it will field two entries in the Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway. The 2016 season is a major one for Circle Sport-Leavine Family Racing, as the team recently announced their plans to run all 36 races with a new Richard Childress Racing Alliance and switch in manufacturer to Chevy. Ty Dillon will be behind the wheel of the #95 Cheerios / Kroger Chevy with Todd Parrott serving as crew chief. In addition, NASCAR veteran Michael McDowell will drive the #59 Thrivent Financial / K-LOVE Radio Chevy with Dave Winston as crew chief.
Circle Sport-Leavine Family Racing partners Joe Falk and Bob Leavine have a strong outlook for Daytona Speedweeks, bringing two Chevrolet race cars to the track with two of the top drivers in motorsports. "I'm looking forward to going to Daytona and finally getting this season under way!" said Joe Falk, partner of Circle Sport-Leavine Family Racing. "It has been a long off-season with lots of changes and it will be great to finally get this season started. I'm excited to have Michael McDowell and Ty Dillon pilot the two CSLFR entries at Daytona."
"We are thrilled with our new alliance with Richard Childress Racing and having the opportunity to run two cars in The Great American Race," said Bob Leavine, partner of Circle Sport-Leavine Family Racing. "This is the ultimate stage in motorsports and I'm proud to have two great drivers behind the wheel of CSLFR race cars for Daytona Speedweeks."
Dillon, from Welcome, N.C., competed in his first Daytona 500 last year, starting 31st and finishing 28th. The XFINITY Series driver, who finished third in series points in 2015, is looking to gain valuable experience in the Cup Series at Daytona as he progresses through the NASCAR ranks. "The Daytona 500 is such a prestigious race and it's an incredible honor to be able to compete on this stage," said Dillon. "Last season I learned a lot and experienced a lot. I got to race up front with the leaders, raced in the back, had some damage we had to repair and eventually finished 28th. This season, we're going to go out there like any other team and try to win the race." McDowell will be running the majority of the 36-race schedule in the #95 Chevrolet for CSLFR, with Ty Dillon competing in a handful of races with the team. Dillon is looking forward to working with his new teammate in 2016. "Michael is an extremely talented race car driver and it's going to be a great opportunity for me this season to learn from him; especially on the road courses," said Dillon. "He's had success in the past and I think the two of us together are going to only get better this season."
McDowell, a Glendale, Ariz. native, earned his best career finishes at Daytona International Speedway in the NSCS. He finished ninth in the Daytona 500 in 2013 and seventh in the July race at Daytona in 2014. "I think it's a good track in that it allows any team to have a shot at running well. It's one of the 'opportunity' races for our team to run up front and finish well," said McDowell. "The changes that we made in off season -- switching to Chevrolet and aligning with RCR -- has provided us with, by far, the best equipment, car and motor combination that we've ever brought to a superspeedway. It's pretty exciting because we've had good results at superspeedways in the past. Hands down this is the best car we've ever brought to Daytona." McDowell will pilot the #59 Thrivent Financial / K-LOVE Radio Chevrolet SS at Daytona Speedweeks and will have to race his way into the starting line-up for the Daytona 500. "That's the most nerve-racking park of the weekend. I can't say that you ever get used to doing it. But I've never not had to race my way in so this is nothing new to me. It's standard operating procedure. I've made it in more times that I've missed, but there's no guarantee. You have to race hard and give it all you got and see what happens."(CSLFR95)(2-11-2016)
Circle Sport-Leavine Family Racing Names Crew Chief and VP of Operations: Circle Sport-Leavine Family Racing announced that Dave Winston has joined the team as crew chief of the #95 Chevy which will compete full time in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series this season. In addition, Jeremy Lange who oversaw marketing for the team the past two years has been promoted to Vice President of Operations for the Concord-based race team. Dave Winston is a 15-year veteran in NASCAR having started his career at Roush as an engineer and worked with drivers including Greg Biffle, Brian Vickers, Kurt Busch and Jamie McMurray. Winston has been part of 18 wins, 7 poles, 51 Top-5's, 118 Top-10's in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series to date.
"Dave is a perfect fit for our team having worked at both large and small organizations," said Bob Leavine, Partner in CSLFR. "He understands the budget constraints of a small team but knows what is required to make the team more competitive. I really like his engineering background as that is a key factor in our alliance with RCR. Understanding and being able to incorporate setup changes from simulation data is an important part of the crew chief's responsibility. Dave is very organized and has already gained the respect of our staff in a short period of time. I'm really proud to have him on our team."
Jeremy Lange joined Leavine Family Racing in 2013 bringing more than 15 years of experience in advertising, marketing and sales to the team. He has worked in NASCAR for more than ten years, first joining the sport after securing his MBA from the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University. "Over the past two and a half years Jeremy had taken on more responsibility than just his marketing role," said Leavine. "On a small team it's all about having a 'whatever it takes attitude' and Jeremy is the first one to volunteer for extra work. A perfect combination of desire, experience and education makes Jeremy a valuable officer of our growing organization."(Circle Sport-Leavine Family Racing)(1-28-20146)
McDowell back with Leavine Family Racing, switches to Chevy, merges with Circle Sport UPDATE3: Leavine Family Racing is announcing parts of their 2016 season plans. So far the team has announced that driver Michael McDowell will return to drive, that the TEAM will run the full 2016 Sprint Cup Series season and that the team is now known as Circle Sport - Leavine Family Racing (LFR Facebook / Twitter). Joe Falk, owner of the #33 Circle Sport team, has merged / sold the team to Leavine Family Racing, so the #95 team has #33 owners points to be eligible for a charter (when/if NASCAR goes to that ownership system) or be higher in owners points. Also hearing the team will switch manufacturers from Ford to Chevy and Thrivent Financial will return to sponsor the team in an unknown number of races. Another piece is a technical alliance with Richard Childress Racing and Ty Dillon driving in some races (1-20-2016)
UPDATE: Richard Childress Racing and Circle Sport - Leavine Family Racing have agreed to form a technical alliance in NASCAR Sprint Cup Series competition, beginning with the 2016 season. The partnership includes technology sharing, engineering, research and development provided to Circle Sport - Leavine Family Racing as they switch their #95 Sprint Cup Series cars to Chevy beginning with the 2016 season. Circle Sport - Leavine Family Racing will also benefit from utilizing the highly reliable and powerful engines of ECR Engines. Ty Dillon will run select races, including the Daytona 500, for Circle Sport - Leavine Family Racing in 2016. Sprint Cup Series veteran driver Michael McDowell will be the primary driver for the team.
"I admire the hard work, dedication and passion that Joe Falk and Bob and Sharon Leavine have for NASCAR and I know their addition to our RCR alliance teams will be mutually beneficial to both Circle Sport-Leavine Family Racing and our current roster of technical alliance partners," said Richard Childress, Chief Executive Officer of RCR. "I'm looking forward to success in 2016 and beyond."
With their race shop based in Concord, N.C., Circle Sport - Leavine Family Racing has a veteran group of racing personnel and ownership that has been active in the Sprint Cup Series for multiple years. "The resources that Richard Childress and RCR can provide, including ECR engines, the Chevrolet SS and access to shared information and technology will be a tremendous help as we continue to grow as an organization," said Bob Leavine. "RCR has an extremely competitive program with a storied history of winning races and championships and joining that culture of success makes this partnership especially attractive."(Richard Childress Racing)(1-21-2016)
UPDATE2 Leavine Family Racing (LFR) will join forces with Circle Sport Racing to run the full 36-race schedule in the 2016 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS). In addition, the race team will enter into an alliance with Richard Childress Racing (RCR) and will make the switch to run Chevy race cars powered by ECR Engines this race season. Michael McDowell will be the primary driver and compete in at least 26 NSCS races in 2016. RCR driver Ty Dillon will pilot the team's entry for the remaining NSCS races. Specific races for each driver are being determined but both drivers will enter the Daytona 500 (supposedly McDowell in a 2nd car). Leavine Family Racing team owner Bob Leavine has been preparing to take the team from a partial schedule to the full series schedule since the team's inception. The 2016 season proved to be the perfect time to make the leap, thanks in part to the new alliance with Joe Falk's Circle Sport team and technical alliance with Richard Childress Racing.
"The manufacturer and alliance switch provides our team with the best opportunity to improve on-track performance and to create long-term sustainability," said Leavine. "This was the right time for us to make this change. We have been turning over every stone looking for the right plan for our team and our people in 2016, and we've finally found a great fit that's going to help us continue to grow both on the track and as an organization."
Joe Falk, owner of Circle Sport Racing (was #33 Chevy), had been an owner in NASCAR starting in the late 1990's. Circle Sport competed in its first race in 2012 and has been associated with Richard Childress Racing during that time. "I'm happy to be working with Bob (Leavine) and the team to combine our efforts for a successful 2016 and beyond," said Falk. "We've put together a top notch program obtaining all cars and engines from RCR."
"This is a big step for our competition program," said McDowell. "The technical alliance with Richard Childress Racing is a huge asset to our growing team and we'll have access to some of the top equipment in the Cup Series. This type of alliance has worked really well for single-car teams such as JTG Racing and Germain Racing in the past and I'm excited about what we're going to be able to do in 2016."
Primary sponsorship of the #95 Chevy will include Thrivent Financial, K-LOVE Radio and Cheerios Brand. Circle Sport - Leavine Family Racing is seeking additional sponsorship to fill out the season.(1-21-2016)
UPDATE3: Thrivent Financial announced its continuing sponsorship of NASCAR Sprint Cup Series team Circle Sport-Leavine Family Racing and driver Michael McDowell in the 2016 race season. Thrivent, a not-for-profit financial services organization that serves Christians, will be the primary sponsor for fifteen (15) races during the 2016 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series with McDowell behind the wheel. The organization will also serve as a secondary sponsor on 15 additional races.
Thrivent started its relationship with Leavine Family Racing and McDowell in August of 2014. The mutually beneficial relationship expanded in 2015 for a 20-race sponsorship that included 10 primary races. This year, Leavine Family Racing has partnered with Circle Sport to field the #95 in the full 36-race schedule and entered into a new technical alliance with Richard Childress Racing, making the manufacturer switch to Chevrolet.
"We're thrilled to extend our sponsorship with Michael McDowell and Circle Sport - Leavine Family Racing in 2016," said Craig Stacey, Director of Marketing at Thrivent. "We had a tremendous response and reception from NASCAR fans in our first full season as a sponsor. In 2016, we're planning to provide more unique opportunities and content for fans through our social media channels and website. We like to think of our fans as part of our team and it's fun to give them a behind-the-scenes view of Thrivent Racing!"
For Thrivent, the off-the-track integration with McDowell and the race team was just as important as the race weekend competition. In 2015, McDowell and the race team raced go-karts with Wounded Warriors, packed shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child and volunteered alongside Thrivent members to repair homes of those in need through the organization's Thrivent Builds with Habitat for Humanity program. Additionally, by creating a custom, fan-driven online game, Thrivent Financial donated $95,000 to Habitat for Humanity on behalf of NASCAR fans at the end of the 2015 season.
"I love working with Thrivent! Their mission to help Christians be wise with money and live generously is really a good fit with my personal values," said McDowell, who became a member of Thrivent in 2014. "We were able to team up and do some great things last year with race fans and Thrivent volunteers - especially at the Habitat events and speaking with Thrivent members nationwide. This is a perfect partnership and I'm excited to have Thrivent back as a sponsor in 2016."
This season, Thrivent will be featured as the primary sponsor at major NASCAR events and tracks including the Daytona 500, Talladega, Charlotte, Bristol, Indianapolis, Darlington and Homestead. Formed in 2016, Joe Falk, owner of Circle Sport Racing and Bob and Sharon Leavine, owners of Leavine Family Racing teamed up to compete in the 2016 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season as Circle Sport - Leavine Family Racing. The team will field the #95 Chevrolet SS, which will be driven by Michael McDowell as well as Ty Dillon in select races. The team operates out of their Concord, N.C.-based race shop with a veteran group of racing personnel and is driven by several core principals including Value, Integrity, Flexibility, Opportunity, Access and Experience.(Circle Sport - Leavine Family Racing), see images of the schemes on the #95 Team Schemes page (1-21-2016)
McDowell and crew make charitable pit stop: NASCAR Sprint Cup driver #95 Michael McDowell and his team made a pit stop on Friday in front of the Rowan County Department of Social Services, and the result was help for families in need. The event was sponsored by the Piedmont Regional office of Thrivent Financial, which is located in Salisbury. Thrivent Financial is one of the sponsors of the #95 Ford that McDowell drives. Thrivent Financial clients adopted families in need and purchased gifts and groceries for them. On Friday, a big haul of goodies was unloaded from a trailer by McDowell and his crew, Thrivent Financial employees, and workers with Rowan DSS. Those DSS workers will distribute the items to the families.(WBTV)(12-19-2015)
2016 plans uncertain for Leavine Family Racing: #95-Leavine Family Racing set out to compete in 20 races this season. They raced in 16 events with an average starting position of 29.3 and an average finish of 30.6 across the season; the average finish of the team an improvement from 2014. The uncertainty of the future of the NASCAR ownership model has been a struggle for Leavine Family Racing as they work to attract personnel and partners leading into the 2016 season. While bigger, established teams have started preparing for Daytona, Leavine Family Racing is in a standstill - awaiting decisions by NASCAR in order to move forward. "Thanksgiving is still going to be pretty thought provoking because we have about eight different scenarios that our team could go in next year," said team owner Bob Leavine. "It's going to be a challenging off-season, we've talked about maybe getting contract labor to work later at night and have another shift at the shop to get the cars done. Committing to your first season as a full-time team is a big deal. You don't go from 20 to 36 races without some planning."
Michael McDowell and the team are looking forward to continuing the growth in 2016 and beyond. "This year has had its challenges - we've had set backs with fires and things like that - but overall I feel that we've persevered," said McDowell. "You know we are a small team, and we've accomplished some of the goals that we wanted to accomplish and we have to accomplish more still yet. It's been a slow process, but we knew it was going to be that way. We are all really looking forward to next year and continuing that growing process."(Leavine Family Racing)(11-26-2015)
McDowell returns to RIR, with new crew chief: "Kevin Walter will be the interim crew chief for the #95 team while we actively seek a replacement. We're thankful to have additional engineering support from Team Penske during this time as we make changes to improve overall performance and prepare for the 2016 season." --- Bob Leavine, #95 team owner. Michael McDowell has nine Sprint Cup Series starts at Richmond International Raceway with a best start of 19th and a best finish of 20th. McDowell says, "We didn't race at Richmond last year with Leavine Family Racing team, so I'm excited to get back to this track. With the personnel changes, we'll have additional support from Penske on the competition side and I'm certainly looking forward to having back-to-back race weeks and securing solid finishes for our team." LFR team sponsor Thrivent Financial has announced an interactive online game where race fans can be part of a $95,000 donation from Thrivent Financial to Habitat for Humanity. The next race for the #95 team will be at Chicago.(LFR)(9-9-2015)
Fire damages Leavine Family Racing shop UPDATE4: Firefighters were busy Friday morning putting out flames at a NASCAR team's race shop in Harrisburg. Crews from Harrisburg and Concord were called to #95-Leavine Family Racing's shop on Victory Lane around 7:00am and encountered flames and smoke coming from the building. Fire officials said crews were able to get the fire under control around 8:30am. Officials with the race team confirmed there was a fire at their shop and that nobody was hurt.(WSOC)
UPDATE: The cause of the blaze is not yet known. LFR field a single-car effort in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, the #95 Ford that is piloted by Michael McDowell. "Everyone is safe and cars were involved," McDowell told Motorsport.com. When asked by Lee Spencer if the cars were a 'total loss,' he replied via text, "We are not sure yet ... Still working through all that. Majority of our team is here. We only have two people that stay back at shop."(Motorsport)
UPDATE 2: WSOC has updated their original story: The fire marshal told Channel 9 that they did not know how the fire started but that four race cars in the building were destroyed and there was extensive damage to an 8,000-square foot section of the shop. Officials with the race team confirmed there was a fire at their shop and that nobody was hurt.
UPDATE 3: Statement from Leavine Family Racing: "After receiving more information from a restoration company that inspected the fire damage at the shop today, we were informed that structural damage may cause us to move our racing operations. We are currently exploring all options. We do not anticipate this to impact the team's competition schedule. Our next race is the Showdown at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Four race cars were damaged in the fire - these were primarily back-up cars. A complete investigation is taking place to access the overall damage and cause of the fire.(Leavine Family Racing)(5-8-2015)
UPDATE 4: Four of the team's 12 cars were destroyed. Tools, parts and pieces were ruined. Ash and soot covered cars and equipment. Heat from the fire had melted windshields and popped tires. Yet, Leavine Family Racing will compete this weekend in the Sprint Showdown at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Unable to work in its 20,000-square foot shop, Leavine Family Racing is preparing its cars for this weekend at Team Penske in an area formerly used by its Porsche racing program and not far from where the Sprint Cup cars of Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano are prepared. Leavine Family Racing is aligned with Team Penske. Friday's fire was contained to the back of Leavine Family Racing's shop and Lange said he's hopeful to be back working in the shop shortly after the Coca-Cola 600. The team, which is running a partial schedule, already had planned to race at Charlotte the next two weekends and skip races at Dover, Pocono and Michigan before returning at Sonoma in late June. The fire does not change that schedule. Lange said the cars destroyed were to be used as backup cars for upcoming races - the primary cars are located elsewhere in the building and were not damaged by the fire. One of the cars destroyed had been used at Sonoma previously but the team was planning on a new car for that race.(NBC Sports)(5-12-2015)
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