see my Dale Earnhardt Tribute Page about the death of Dale Earnhardt
Contract Status: (if known)
Primary Sponsors: National Guard - 2014 and leaves?; AMP/Diet Mtn Dew - 2014; Nationwide 2015-2017;
Crew Chief: 2014 and leaves
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 Earnhardt 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)
Born to Win Print..by Garry Hill:
Dale Earnhardt Jr. In The #8 Dale Earnhardt Inc.
Chevy Takes The Checkered Flag In The
46th Running Of The Daytona 500
"The Great American Race" February 15, 2004
It is with great excitement that we [Garry Hill] present "Born To Win". The artwork captures Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s historic victory in the 2004 Daytona 500,"The Great American Race". 500 prints and 50 artist's proof prints have been produced, each signed and numbered by NASCAR licensed artist Garry Hill. 100 Prints And 50 Artist's Proof Prints are Being Hand Signed By Winner Dale Earnhardt Jr. More info and to see the print, goto garryhill.com.(2-16-2005)
Daytona International Speedway
Daytona Beach, FL
Happy Hour Practice:
Saturday, February 21, 2015, TBA pm/et
Born in NOVEMBER:
26 Dale Jarrett, Chip Bolin, Katie Pearson
27 Billy Standridge, Kate Dallenbach, Ricky Carmichael, Kaitlyn Punch
28 Chase Elliott, Billy Sutphin, Mitch Way, Nelson Stacy, Mason Mingus
29 Bob Dillner, Zach Brewer, Ryan Ellis, Tanner Berryhill
30 Danny Earnhardt, Dave Dion, Dick Hutcherson, Shawna Robinson, Chris Hussey, Andy Kirby, Brittany Glover
Born in DECEMBER:
1 Stanton Barrett Jr, Kenny Francis, David Evans, Danny Gill, Larry Gunselman
2 Erik Darnell, Kelly Kellis, Victoria Trickle
3 Bobby Allison, Cody Cook
4 Dean Johnson, Evelyn Andrews, Doug Keller
5 J.D. McDuffie, Jim Paschal, Jim Hurtubise
6 Stacey Witzke, Christian Elder
7 Geoff Smith, Paul Moore, Richmond Gage
8 Susan Adamczyk (sister), Garry Hill, Kevin Harvick, Ryan Newman, Kerry Earnhardt, Nadine Lubejko, Zachary Jarrett
9 Steve Richards, Coy Gibbs, Brad Teague, Lori Wetzel
10 Mike 'Jimbo' Barrientos, Makayla Ann McSwain, Jerry Honeycut
11 Frankie Adamczyk, Mariah Belber, Eric McClure, Chris Horn, Tony Eury Sr.
12 Ed Watkins, Rick Pennington, Emerson Fittipaldi
13 Army National Guard, Jim Vandiver, Jarrett Andretti, David Stover, Mark Nickels, Michael Mumford
14 NASCAR (meeting at Streamline Hotel), Alan Kulwicki, Hershel McGriff, Darrin Dykes, Steve Hmiel, Bob Tracey, Harry McMullen
15 Lance McGrew, Jeff Beck, Eli Gold
16 A.J. Allmendinger
17 Mike Beam, Dustin Long, Matt Martin, Montgomery Lee Petty, Bobby East
18 Ted Musgrave, Vic Irvan, Tom Polansky
19 Patty Moise, Paul Tracy, Sheldon Schrader, John Monsham
20 Erin Marco, Taylor Nicole Earnhardt, Kinsley Parsons
21 Michael McDowell, Travis Kittleson
22 David Pearson
23 Greg Biffle, Peter Sospenzo, Ray Dunlap, Chris Cook, Addison Frye
24 Fr. Steven Janoski, David Ragan, Krista Marie Allison, Mike Gooch
25 Jesus Christ, Charles Comstock, Randy Earnhardt, Jimmy Buffett, Starr Elliott, Butch Lamoreux, Curtis W. Key, Noel Schafer
26 Blair Makenzie Nemechek, Josh Mick
27 Mike Laughlin, Don Radebaugh
28 Nelson Stacy, Brittany Wallace, Joyce Kearns
29 Waddell Wilson, Boston Reid, Mike Bagley, Owen Kearns Jr., Jessica Stroupe
30 Fred Lorenzen, Donnie Mergard, Ryan Hemphill, Kole Kahne, Cooper Berrier
31 Beth Simons-Dykes, Dorthy Schrader, Riley Craven, Ryan Blaney, Joe Hicks, Benny Ertel