TaxSlayer.com [1 race] is scheduled to be the primary sponsor at the following races in 2016:
Daytona, Sprint Limited* - 2/13
Nationwide Insurance [22 races] is scheduled to be the primary sponsor at the following races in 2016:
Daytona, Budweiser Duel* - 2/18
Daytona - 2/21
Atlanta - 2/28
Las Vegas - 3/6
Auto Club - 3/20, Batman
Martinsville - 4/3
Texas - 4/9
Bristol - 4/17
Talladega - 5/1
Dover - 5/15
Charlotte - 5/29, patriotic
Daytona - 7/2
Kentucky - 7/9, Nationwide's Children
New Hampshire - 7/17, Alex Bowman driving
Pocono - 7/31, Jeff Gordon driving
Darlington - 9/4, Buddy Baker tribute, Jeff Gordon driving
New Hampshire - 9/25, Alex Bowman driving
Dover - 10/2, Jeff Gordon driving
Kansas - 10/16, Alex Bowman driving
Martinsville - 10/30, Jeff Gordon driving
Texas - 11/6, Alex Bowman driving
Phoenix - 11/13, Alex Bowman driving
Axalta [13 races] is scheduled to be the primary sponsor at the following races in 2016:
Phoenix - 3/13
Kansas - 5/7, CARSTAR
Pocono - 6/5
Michigan - 6/12
Sonoma - 6/26
Indy - 7/24, Jeff Gordon driving
Watkins Glen - 8/7, Gordon
Bristol - 8/20, Gordon
Michigan - 8/28, University of Michigan, Bowman
Richmond - 9/10, Jeff Gordon driving
Chicago - 9/18, Alex Bowman driving
Charlotte - 10/8, Alex Bowman driving
Homestead - 11/20, Alex Bowman driving
Mountain Dew [3 races] is scheduled to be the primary sponsor at the following races in 2016:
Richmond - 4/23
Charlotte, All-Star race* - 5/21
Talladega - 10/23, Alex Bowman
see Jayski.com's Dale Earnhardt Tribute Page about the death of Dale Earnhardt
Contract Status: (if known)
Driver: 2017; Primary Sponsors: Nationwide 2017; Axalta 2018; Diet Mountain Dew 2016; Kelley Blue Book 2015
Earnhardt voted Most Popular Driver for 14th consecutive year: Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s hot streak in Las Vegas continued Friday night. The driver of the #88 Chevy was named the National Motorsports Press Association Sprint Most Popular Driver for the 14th consecutive year, extending his record streak. "That's pretty cool," Earnhardt said to open his acceptance speech. Earnhardt's 14 consecutive wins mark the longest streak since the award was first presented in 1953. Bill Elliott -- Chase's father -- holds the record for all-time Most Popular Driver honors with 16. He was presented with the award at the black-tie NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Awards held at Wynn Las Vegas. The award is determined solely by fan voting, and Earnhardt said it was especially touching to know that his fans supported him even during a year in which he missed the second half of the season due to a concussion. "This year was a difficult year for us and our team," Earnhardt said. "You think you know just how incredible the NASCAR fans are and how supportive they are. You see them support the drivers through victories and through defeat. But when you go through recovery from an injury or maybe the loss of a loved one or something like that, you really get to the core of what's great about our fan base." Earnhardt's 2016 season came to an end when he was sidelined after the race at Kentucky Speedway in July. In the 18 races in which he participated, he earned five top-five finishes -- including four runner-up results -- and six top-10s. "I want to thank the fans for all the support and all the well-wishes," he said. "It really motivated me to get healthy and it also motivated me to come back. I'm looking forward to next year."(Hendrick Motorsports)(12-3-2016)
Dale Jr. wedding date announced: While in Las Vegas for the Sprint Cup Series Awards ceremony in Las Vegas, #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr. confirmed when he and fiancée Amy Reimann are tying the knot. The longtime couple are set to wed on New Year's Eve. No wedding location was revealed.(NASCAR.com)(12-3-2016)
Earnhardt Jr. close to returning after worrying 'I may never race again': A few months from believing he "may never race again" in NASCAR, Dale Earnhardt Jr. now believes he is only a few weeks from being cleared to return. The Hendrick Motorsports driver, who missed the last half of the 2016 season after suffering a concussion, said he hopes to turn laps in a December test and again in a January session before racing his #88 Chevy in the season-opening Daytona 500 on Feb. 26. Earnhardt declined to specify where the tests would occur but intimated they were the final steps he alluded to last week on his podcast. "Basically, the test in December would be the final box checked," he told NBC Sports in a Tuesday interview at Hendrick Motorsports, where he unveiled a new paint scheme he designed with primary sponsor Nationwide for the 2017 season. "Once that's done, I am jumping into the hamster wheel again. I'm excited." In his first extensive comments since a late August news conference to announce he would miss the rest of the 2016 season, Earnhardt revealed the depths of his long recovery from a concussion that he sustained in a June 12 wreck at Michigan International Speedway. It was at least the fifth concussion that Earnhardt has sustained during his NASCAR career, but the severity of the symptoms were enough to worry the 13-time most popular driver that his career was over. "I mean I went through some really doubtful moments with this whole process when I was not doing well and my symptoms were really, really bad, and they lingered," he said. "I'd never had the symptoms stay that long. I was thinking, 'I may never race again. I don't know how this is going to end.' So I went from not knowing if I could do it to having to build my confidence back one little Lego at a time." Earnhardt said the symptoms, which centered on problems with balance and vision (known as "gaze stability"), began to dissipate over the past month. During the photo shoot Tuesday, he wasn't wearing the thick, black glasses that he often wore in public during his recovery.(see more at NBC Sports)(12-2-2016)
Earnhardt Jr. plans to get in a car soon and test: #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr. discussed Monday -- one day into the 2016 NASCAR offseason -- his plans to get back inside the race car on the Dirty Mo Radio podcast. "We're going to go testing this offseason," he said. "Obviously I need to get in a race car. I'd love to get in a car and go run a little bit somewhere just to shake the rust off and get some confidence. I can do the basics before we ever go to Daytona. We'll go do that sometime this offseason. We have to squeeze it in there somewhere because I'm getting married and have my honeymoon, and I have to certainly devote proper time to (fiancée) Amy (Reimann). But it'll be no problem. ... All signs point to us being in the car for Daytona." The Hendrick Motorsports wheelman, who was sidelined for 18 Sprint Cup Series races this year due to a concussion, has not stepped inside his #88 Chevrolet since July.(NASCAR.com)(11-22-2016)
Earnhardt Jr. nears final clearance from concussion: Rick Hendrick expects #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr. to receive his final clearance from doctors in the next six weeks, which will allow him to return to Sprint Cup racing in February. "Sometime in December, the doctor is going to give him final clearance, and then we'll get him in a car," Hendrick said Friday at Homestead-Miami Speedway. "He feels great. Everything is on track." Earnhardt, who will miss his 18th straight race this weekend as he recovers from vision and balance issues caused by a concussion suffered in June, has repeatedly said that his rehabilitation and recovery have been on track for a February return. NASCAR will allow Earnhardt to participate in a private test to allow doctors to approve his return to racing. "Every step that we supposedly need to go through, we've gone through. I don't see anything holding us back," Hendrick said. "I think we've just got a couple of more hurdles."(ESPN)(11-19-2016)
Bowman talks about 2017 prospects: #88-Alex Bowman, met with members of the media Friday at Phoenix International Raceway. He discussed his role driving the #88 Chevy, his future plans in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and other topics. The transcript in part:
Q) DO YOU HAVE A DRIVE IN PLACE FOR 2017?
Bowman: "No, I'm still waiting for the right opportunity to come along. There's nothing that has really fit that has come along. I'll still probably have my day job at Hendrick Motorsports driving the simulator. We'll go from there."
Q) THIS SEASON, STEPPING INTO THE NO. 88 CHEVROLET WASN'T THE EASIEST SITUATION TO STEP INTO BUT YOU'VE GOTTEN SOME SIGNIFICANT SEATTIME IN A QUALITY RIDE. WHAT HAVE YOU LEARNED THE MOST IN THE WHOLE PROCESS OF DRIVING THE #88 CHEVROLET?
Bowman: "Really it's been a big learning process on how Hendrick Motorsports works - the process on doing things, how they operate as a team. It's been incredible to be a part of it, and I feel like I've learned a lot doing it. It's been a lot of fun and a huge blessing in my life to do this. I'm trying to make the most of it but at the same time trying to have as much fun as I can. You never know when this is going to end or if you're ever going to get an opportunity like this again. So it's been a lot of fun."(Team Chevy)(11-12-2016)
Dale Jr. making plans for 2017: #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr. met with members of the media Sunday:
Q: In your conversations with sponsors have you start committing to things for next year?
Earnhardt, Jr. "My intentions are to race and that is the plan that we have going forward so we are booking things as normal per usual. We are doing all our photoshoots and everything with anticipation of our sponsors marketing me as the driver of the #88 car. I think that is perfectly on track and a reasonable goal to be in the car and be competing in Daytona. We can't sort of sit and wait. We've got to make a decision. Those types of things have to be decided quite early. So, we are moving forward with the plan to be in the car and I don't see anything that says that is not going to happen. Things are good."(Team Chevy)(10-31-2016)
Gordon's final race? UPDATE: Sunday will mark four-time champion Jeff Gordon's final scheduled NASCAR Sprint Cup Series start. Gordon will be driving the blue-and-silver #88 Nationwide Chevrolet SS this weekend. His career began on Nov. 15, 1992, at Atlanta Motor Speedway in Richard Petty's final start. From 1992 through 2015, Gordon made 797 consecutive starts and racked up 93 wins, 325 top-five and 475 top-10 finishes in addition to his four championships. This weekend's race at Martinsville Speedway will be his eighth race filling in for Dale Earnhardt Jr. in 2016. On Nov. 1, 2015, Gordon led the final 22 laps at Martinsville Speedway en route to his ninth win at the Virginia short track and his 93rd career Cup victory. The defending race winner leads all active Cup drivers in wins (nine, third on the all-time list), poles (seven, second on the all-time list), top-five finishes (29), and laps led (3,779, second on the all-time list). He is tied with Richard Petty for the most top-10 Cup finishes of all time with 37, and holds the all-time record for lead-lap finishes (38) and for the least DNFs, having been running at the finish in every single one of his 46 races at the half-mile paperclip.(Hendrick Motorsports)
AND: If Gordon leads 64 laps on Sunday, he will become only the sixth NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver all-time to lead 25,000 or more laps, joining NASCAR Hall of Famers Petty, Cale Yarborough, Bobby Allison, Dale Earnhardt and David Pearson.(NASCAR)(10-27-2016)
UPDATE: Gordon talked to the media Friday at Martinsville Speedway and was asked if this was his final race;
Gordon: "Your guess is as good as mine. I can promise you I had no intentions of this happening, but here I am. Never say never is all I know what to say. I really don't think that I will be getting back in the Cup car again, but go ask Rick Hendrick. That really has more to do with him than anything else. I hope in the future that the drivers don't have a situation like what we had with (Dale Earnhardt) Junior where they need somebody to fill in for them. This little bit of experience has been kind of good for me, good for the organization and we have had a little bit of fun with it as well. If I had to do it, then certainly I would, but I don't anticipate it."(Team Chevy PR)(10-29-2016)
Earnhardt Jr. Joins MRN for Talladega Broadcast: Dale Earnhardt Jr. will return to Talladega Superspeedway this weekend - not behind the wheel of a racecar but behind a Motor Racing Network microphone. "Junior" will join "The Voice of NASCAR" during the first half of Sunday's Hellmann's 500 broadcast - teaming up with MRN anchors Joe Moore and Jeff Striegle in the newly christened "Barney Hall MRN Booth." Hall of Fame driver Rusty Wallace joins Moore, Striegle and Earnhardt with analysis of the sixth race in this year's Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. Fans who are unable to attend Sunday's race can find their local Motor Racing Network affiliate by visiting www.MRN.com and clicking on the "STATIONS" link. This weekend at Talladega Superspeedway Chevrolet in partnership with the American Cancer Society will campaign a pink Chevrolet SS pace car in support of Breast Cancer Awareness month. For every pace lap the pink Chevrolet SS leads, Chevrolet will donate $350 to the American Cancer Society's Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Program. On Saturday morning, Chevrolet will host a group of 25 survivors and their guests in a hospitality area and give them pace car rides with drivers Kevin Harvick, Jamie McMurray and Kasey Kahne.(MRN)(10-21-2016)
Dale Earnhardt Jr. acquires roof from dad's 1982 car: Dale Earnhardt Jr. is continuing to build his collection of meaningful memorabilia during his time off from NASCAR. In a Twitter post on Tuesday, the driver posted a photo of a roof from a dirt car his father drove in 1982 that he's adding to his collection.(USA Today)(10-21-2016)
Earnhardt Jr. joins the Cup broadcast booth for next two races: NBC Sports announced that Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of Hendrick Motorsports' #88 Chevy, will join the NBC Sports broadcast booth for portions of two upcoming Sprint Cup broadcasts. Earnhardt, who has not raced since July as he recovers from a concussion, will lend his expertise as an analyst during NBCSN's coverage this Sunday from Talladega Superspeedway, as well as the following Sunday from Martinsville Speedway. Inside the NBCSN broadcast booth, Earnhardt will reunite with his former crew chief Steve Letarte, and work alongside race announcer Rick Allen and fellow analyst Jeff Burton. Sunday marks Earnhardt's first ever NASCAR Sprint Cup broadcasting assignment. "I'm excited to see these races from a different vantage point and hopefully offer some insight to the viewers," said Earnhardt. "I thoroughly enjoyed my opportunity to broadcast the XFINITY race at Michigan earlier this year, so I expect getting to spend time in the booth with the NBC team to be just as fun."(NBC Sports)(10-20-2016)
Earnhardt Jr. says he will race the #88 in 2017: Dale Earnhardt Jr. reiterated on Wednesday that he continues to have every intention of returning to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series to drive the #88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevy in 2017, beginning with the season-opening Daytona 500 next February. Earnhardt, who has been sidelined since early July because of a concussion and will not return for the remainder of this season, spoke at a promotional event (Jeansboro Day) Wednesday at the corporate headquarters of Wrangler.(FoxSports)(10-19-2016)
Camo on the #88 at Talladega: There's no hiding the new paint scheme that Alex Bowman will pilot next weekend at Talladega Superspeedway. The design of the #88 Mountain Dew Take it Outside Chevrolet SS was unveiled Wednesday on Hendrick Motorsports' Facebook page. In addition to the brand new design, fans will soon be able to see a new Mountain Dew commercial as well.(Hendrick Motorsports) see an image of the car on the #88 team paint schemes page.(10-12-2016)
Stewart subs for Earnhardt Jr. in Charity event: Dale Earnhardt Jr. was at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Tuesday for a Dale Jr. Foundation charity ride-along event. The problem: Earnhardt Jr. has not been cleared to drive by his doctors as he recovers from concussion-like symptoms. The event raises "quite a bit of money," Junior said in a video posted to Twitter. Never fear, 'Smoke' is here. The three-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion volunteered to fill the seat so Tuesday's event could go off without a hitch. Earnhardt Jr. posted a thank-you video, calling Stewart a "good dude" for filling in.(see video at NASCAR.com)(10-5-20106)
Earnhardt Jr. driving simulator but not ready for a race car: Dale Earnhardt Jr. has driven a racing simulator as part of his rehabilitation for a concussion, and he said Saturday that the next eventual step would be to get into one of his late model stock cars. When that would be has not been determined as the Hendrick Motorsports driver continues to recover from a concussion suffered June 12 at Michigan that has kept him out of the car since July 9 at Kentucky. "I'm not ready [to get in a car]," Earnhardt said Saturday. "I know that. I'll know when I'm ready and it's not one of them things that has a schedule. You don't know when you're going to be, 'All right, I'm good, let's go do this.'
"I have been driving a simulator a little bit. That is not the same thing as driving a real race car, but it does challenge me mentally and does challenge the issues and symptoms."
Earnhardt is attending the Sprint Cup practices and Xfinity race Saturday as well as the Cup race Sunday at Dover. The noises and the commotion of a race weekend is part of his rehab to see whether it will trigger the balance issues he continues to battle. "Walking through the garage and signing autographs is tough," Earnhardt said as he walked through the Sprint Cup garage Saturday and down pit road to check on his Xfinity Series team. "My balance gets bad. You've got a lot of things happening in your peripheral [vision] and stuff -- that is something that is going to challenge it. That's pretty much it. My eyes have gotten a lot better. I don't really notice issues with my eyes quite as much anymore. But the balance stuff is still needing some work." At the point where he can walk through the garage and not have a reaction, Earnhardt said he would feel 100 percent normal. And then he would work on having the reaction time needed to race. "I feel so much better than I did five weeks ago," Earnhardt said. "I would have never thought about coming to the race track five weeks ago."(ESPN.com)(10-2-2016)
Earnhardt, Jr says he's improving; will be at Dover: Dale Earnhardt Jr. won't be back in the car this weekend, but he'll return to the track to cheer on his NASCAR teams at Dover International Speedway. Earnhardt, who is out for the season after being sidelined since mid-July with a concussion, said on his Dale Jr. Download podcast Monday that he will be watching the Xfinity and Sprint Cup races from the pit box Saturday and Sunday. "It's going to be different and tough and maybe not a ton of fun," he said. "It's a bit weird to not be in the car but at the track. When you're a driver, you don't know what to do with yourself. I'll try to support the guys and learn a thing or two. Excited to see how Jeff [Gordon] does, he usually runs great at Dover. It's going to be different. We'll see how it goes." During the podcast, the Hendrick Motorsports driver also provided an update on his health, which he said is improving. Earnhardt suffered from vision and balance problems since sustaining a concussion in a June crash at Michigan International Speedway. He said the vision issues mostly had subsided, and his rehabilitation exercises no longer are provoking symptoms that they are designed to cause.(NBC Sports)(9-27-2016)
Earnhardt Jr continues to feel better: An animated and upbeat Dale Earnhardt Jr. spoke with NASCAR on NBC analyst Steve Letarte, his friend and former crew chief, about his concussion and recovery in a candid, in-depth interview. The full version of the interview will air during Saturday's NASCAR America. The show airs at 5:00pm/et on NBCSN. "I feel better," Earnhardt told Letarte. "I've made some huge gains over the last five weeks. We've worked really, really hard to get there, and there's still a lot of work to do. I still don't feel like a regular person. The race car driver is even much further, the things that I need to tune and improve and fix are far beyond just getting where I can feel normal every day." Earnhardt also told the story about his improvement. "For a while I had the issue with my gaze stability, which means while I'm walking, riding in a car, anytime my head is moving, objects off in the distance are going to shake and bounce," he said. "For weeks and weeks it didn't improve, but we were fixing my balance. My balance was getting better and better and better. I'm calling the doctor every other day, I'm like 'Doc, my balance is getting better but my freaking eyes, man, give me some stuff to work these eyes.' He's like just be patient." Earnhardt also shares an element of his treatment that is important to his recovery.(NBC Sports)(9-10-2016)
Earnhardt, Jr on College GameDay Saturday: Who better than Dale Earnhardt Jr. to pick the winner of the inaugural Battle at Bristol college football game at Bristol Motor Speedway? Earnhardt Jr. will join ESPN's College GameDay broadcast live this weekend from the .533-mile Bristol Motor Speedway in Bristol, Tenn., where he will be the celebrity guest picker for games this weekend. The last game he'll pick will be Battle at Bristol, where the 17th-ranked Tennessee Volunteers will take on the Virginia Tech Hokies on a specially constructed playing surface in the middle of the famed venue. Earnhardt Jr., recovering from a concussion sustained earlier this summer, will join GameDay host Rece Davis, former college coach Lee Corso, former players Kirk Herbstreit, Desmond Howard and David Pollack and contributor Samantha Ponder on the set. It's a place he's very familiar with, having started 33 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races there. In those starts, Earnhardt Jr. has a victory in the fall of 2004, eight top-five and 16 top-10 finishes, and finished second in the spring race there earlier this season. The 8:00pm/et game on ABC between border-state rivals should reset the record for attendance at a single college football game, too. BMS has a seating capacity of more than 150,000, far greater than the current record of 115,109 set in 2013 at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, Mich., when the Wolverines played Notre Dame. Earnhardt Jr. is the first NASCAR driver to appear as a guest picker on the long-running show, but some of the previous guests have ties to the sport. Roger Staubach, the 1963 Heisman Trophy winner out of Navy and Dallas Cowboy legend, was a co-owner of Hall of Fame Racing with former Cowboy quarterback Troy Aikman. Willie Robertson and his brother Jase, of the Duck Dynasty clan, have both appeared as guest pickers, prior to their company, Duck Commander, sponsoring NASCAR Sprint Cup races at Texas Motor Speedway, and Will Ferrell was the star of the NASCAR-themed movie Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby.(DaleJr.com)(9-9-2016)
Earnhardt, Jr. gives medical update: #88-Dale Earnhardt, Jr. met with members of the media Sunday afternoon at Darlington Raceway. He was joined by team owner Rick Hendrick and Dr. Mikey Collins. Some notes:
Recovery is going good and he's noticing improvements.
His balance is miles better than it was.
He's looking forward to getting well and definitely on the right track.
He expected a shorter recovery time, but says he still doesn't belong in a racecar by any stretch of the imagination.
There's no reason to risk getting back in the car and getting into a situation where all the hard work is reversed.
He is doing all sponsor commitments. The only thing he can't do is race.
"I haven't really put a lot of thought into the future until I get well. My heart wants me to continue. I'm only 41. I have some good years left. I'm as good as I've ever been, inside the car."
Concussion research has come a long way. When he first saw Earnhardt, Jr. he "was pretty sick", but he has been a model patient.
Earnhardt, Jr. is feeling better and having fewer symptoms, but is not back to normal.
Taking him out of the car the rest of the year will reduce stress. "Stress and concussion don't get along well.
They are starting to see a lot of progress since the decision was made to sit out the remainder of the season.
He says, "I am positive we will get Dale back to being a race car driver."
"We're excited about Dale Earnhardt being in the car at Daytona," and the team is looking forward to long future with him.
There's a lot of time between now and Daytona, when it comes to figuring out the future of the #88.
Sponsors have been good to work with. They care about Earnhardt, Jr. personally and want to see him get better.
Transcript see a full record of the press conference on the Dale Earnhardt, Jr. press conference transcript page.(9-4-2016)
Gordon explains #88 driver schedule for rest of year: Sunday's race will mark the fifth for Jeff Gordon in place of Dale Earnhardt Jr., who is out for the rest of the season while recovering from a concussion. Hendrick Motorsports announced Friday the #88 Chevrolet will be split for the final 12 races between Alex Bowman and Gordon. The four-time series champion will race Earnhardt's car in the next two races at Darlington and Richmond before turning the car over to Bowman for 10 of the last 12 races. Gordon will race again at Dover and Martinsville - tracks where he has combined for 14 victories. Though the schedule lines up well with his strengths, Gordon said it wasn't solely set by his preference. Bowman will race New Hampshire Motor Speedway because he already filled in for Earnhardt there in July. Because of schedule conflicts, Gordon can't race at some 1.5-mile tracks, so it made more sense to keep Bowman at all of them.
"It'd be best for the team for him to be in all of those," Gordon said. "We know he's a talented driver, too, and want to see what he's capable of doing. He does a lot of work in the simulator for us. Matching up actual race data and conditions to the simulator helps us develop the simulator, too." Making the schedule was a collaborative effort involving The input from multiple sources. "It's a combination of what's best for the team, what's best for the sponsors and sort of Junior's wishes as well," Gordon said. "He's big on Alex Bowman, and the team has really enjoyed having him in the car. We want to make sure our sponsors are getting everything out of it as well. They do a lot for us.(NBC Sports)(9-4-2016)
Earnhardt, Jr. to miss remainder of the season: Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 Chevrolet SS for Hendrick Motorsports, has not been medically cleared to compete for the remainder of the 2016 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season as he continues to recover from a concussion. Earnhardt has missed the last six Sprint Cup races while undergoing treatment. He has been regularly evaluated at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Sports Medicine Concussion Program under the direction of Dr. Micky Collins and with Charlotte neurosurgeon Dr. Jerry Petty.
"I wish I could return to the #88 team this season," Earnhardt said. "To say I'm disappointed doesn't begin to describe how I feel, but I know this is the right thing for my long-term health and career. I'm 100 percent focused on my recovery, and I will continue to follow everything the doctors tell me. They're seeing good progress in my test results, and I'm feeling that progress physically. I plan to be healthy and ready to compete at Daytona in February. I'm working toward that.
"The support from both inside and outside the race team has been overwhelming. Everyone has been so encouraging and positive, from my teammates and sponsors to my family, friends and fans. It's motivating and humbling at the same time."
Jeff Gordon and Alex Bowman will drive for the #88 team in the season's 12 remaining races. In Earnhardt's absence, four-time Cup Series champion Gordon, 45, filled in at Indianapolis, Pocono, Watkins Glen and Bristol. Bowman, 23, drove at New Hampshire and Michigan.
"I know how hard Dale has worked and how frustrating this is for him," said Rick Hendrick, owner of Hendrick Motorsports. "He wants to be back, and we want him back, but we want it to be for the long haul. We've had incredible support from everyone involved with the team, including all of our sponsors. They've put Dale's health first every step of the way."
"Jeff and Alex will give us a great opportunity over the rest of the season. Jeff is one of the best of all time and knows our system. He brings things to the table that no one else can. Alex is a young driver with a lot of talent, and he will give us a fresh perspective. We know they're not only capable of running up front and giving us a chance to win, but they'll help us get better."(Hendrick Motorsports)(9-2-2016)
Bowman grateful for a chance to drive: Though he would prefer to be in a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series car under other circumstances, Alex Bowman hopes to make the most of his second chance to drive the #88 Chevy of Dale Earnhardt Jr., who is still awaiting medical clearance after suffering concussion-like symptoms that have kept him out of the car. Bowman subbed for Earnhardt at New Hampshire in July, running in the top 10 for much of the race, before a crash relegated him to 26th. Jeff Gordon took over the seat for the next four races, but a scheduling conflict kept Gordon out of the car at Michigan and gave Bowman his second shot. "Honestly, for me being as close of friends as I am with Dale, I have just been hoping he gets to feeling better more than anything," Bowman said Friday at Michigan. "Obviously, I'm more than happy to fill in whenever I can. New Hampshire was a lot of fun. Obviously, we ran a lot better than we finished. I hated that the race team didn't get the finish they deserved. Everybody at Hendrick Motorsports and Chevy and everybody-they have been so welcoming and easy to work with. It's just been fun. Off the truck today we were really fast (14th in opening practice) and didn't really get the qualifying run speed that we really wanted. But I feel like we have a good shot at it this weekend. It's just so much fun to be able to come to a (Sprint) Cup race and be able to say that. I'm just really enjoying it and trying to make the most out of it."(NASCAR Wire Service)(8-27-2016)
University of Michigan scheme on the #88 at MIS: Alex Bowman will return behind the wheel of the #88 Axalta/University of Michigan Chevy this weekend. The 23-year-old will fill in for Earnhardt for the second time this weekend in Michigan. He previously subbed for Earnhardt at New Hampshire and was running solidly inside the top 10 before a flat tire relegated him to a 26th-place finish. Axalta and the University of Michigan recently partnered to support engineering and business students in addition to coatings research and other projects, leading to a joint paint scheme that Bowman will run this weekend at Michigan. The maize and blue #88 Axalta/University of Michigan Chevy was unveiled in June at Axalta's Mt. Clemens manufacturing plant in honor of the organization receiving the General Motors Supplier of the Year award for the second consecutive year.(HMS), see images of the scheme on the #88 Team Schemes page (8-25-2016)
Earnhardt Jr. to miss next two races: Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 Chevy for Hendrick Motorsports, has not been cleared by physicians to compete in at least the next two NASCAR Sprint Cup Series events as he continues to recover from a concussion. Earnhardt, who will miss the races at Michigan (Aug. 28) and Darlington (Sept. 4), underwent further evaluation today at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Sports Medicine Concussion Program. "We know how hard Dale is working to get back," said Rick Hendrick, owner of Hendrick Motorsports. "He's following what the doctors are saying, to the letter, and doing exactly what he needs to do. Everyone wants to see him in a race car, but his health is first and foremost. We're behind him." Alex Bowman, who drove the #88 Chevrolet in Earnhardt's absence July 17 at New Hampshire, will be the team's substitute driver this weekend at Michigan. He has four career Sprint Cup starts at the track. Four-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Jeff Gordon will return to the #88 team at Darlington, where his seven wins lead all active drivers. Gordon has driven the last four races for Earnhardt -- at Indy, Pocono, Watkins Glen and Bristol.(Hendrick Motorsports)(8-24-2016)
Rick Hendrick is pleased with Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s progress UPDATE: Team owner Rick Hendrick made two things abundantly clear during a press conference at Bristol Motor Speedway on Saturday afternoon to discuss the signing of NASCAR Camping World Truck Series leader William Byron. First, Hendrick had no specific update as to the status of Dale Earnhardt Jr., other than to say that Earnhardt is progressing in his recovery from concussion-like symptoms and wants to return to the #88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet as soon as possible. "Dale looks great," Hendrick said. "I had lunch...he and the road crew went to lunch on Wednesday - and I think you've seen the (video) of him playing basketball. We are taking extra effort with the doctors, making sure he's going to be 100%. He's got a doctor's appointment next week. He's doing great, and he wants to get back in the car. Beyond that, I don't know anything to tell you about him."
Second, Hendrick stressed that the signing of Byron to drive for JR Motorsports in the NASCAR XFINITY Series next year was not a reaction to the uncertainty of Earnhardt's timetable for a return to racing. "William has nothing to do with Dale at all," Hendrick said. "William has all to do with our future, down the road. What's going to happen three to five years from now, nobody knows." Hendrick confirmed that, if Earnhardt is unable to compete next weekend at Michigan, Jeff Gordon will not be in the #88 Chevy because of a prior commitment. If Earnhardt is not cleared to drive, Alex Bowman will fill seat for a second time, having driven in Earnhardt's stead at New Hampshire in July.(NASCAR Wire Service)(8-21-2016)
UPDATE - No announcement about a driver for MIS before Wednesday: Hendrick 88 Team tweeted this: "We don't expect to make an announcement regarding @MISpeedway before Wednesday afternoon."(Hendrick 88 Team Twitter)(8-22-2016)
Gordon will not race at Michigan: NBC Sports Dustin Long tweeted that Jeff Gordon says he will NOT race the #88 car next week at Michigan because of a prior commitment.
UPDATE: Jeff Gordon says he will not drive the #88 Chevy for Dale Earnhardt Jr. next weekend at Michigan because of a prior commitment. "I didn't know I was going to be doing all of this," Gordon said. Gordon would not say what the commitment was but said he would only be at Michigan on race day. Hendrick Motorsports confirmed that Alex Bowman will drive the #88 at Michigan if Earnhardt is unable to race. Bowman drove for Earnhardt last month at New Hampshire and finished 26th. Earnhardt has not said what his status for Michigan is. Thursday, Earnhardt posted a series of pictures and videos on his Instagram account showing some of the physical and mental exercises he is doing to aid his recovery. Gordon said it's simple why he's not driving at Michigan. "I can't be there all weekend," he said. Gordon said he would be available to run in the Southern 500 at Darlington if Earnhardt was still unable to be back in the car by the Sept. 4 race.(NBC Sports)(8-19-2016)
Earnhardt Jr. shares detail on concussion treatment: #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr. will miss his fifth consecutive race this week as he recovers from a concussion, and he gave his Instagram followers a peek into his rehab Thursday. Earnhardt posted a series of videos that he said are to help with his balance and gaze stability -- the ability to focus on an object in the distance while moving his head. One of the videos shows him doing steps as well as having someone throw a ball at a wall behind him, and then he turns and catches the ball on the rebound. In the post showing some of the physical exercises, Earnhardt wrote: "Simple stuff but it's really helping." Other posts included eye charts he is supposed to read while shaking his head -- "Bout got them memorized," he wrote in a post -- and in another, he talks about a computerized three-dimensional program, which crosses his eyes and trains his eyes to work together. The results are sent to his doctors online. Earnhardt is expected to see doctors next week, which could determine when he returns to racing. See full article at ESPN.com.(8-19-2016)
Earnhardt Jr. still recovering, Gordon in the #88 at Bristol: Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 Chevy for Hendrick Motorsports, will miss his fifth consecutive NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event as he continues to recover from a concussion. He was not cleared by physicians to compete in this weekend's event at Bristol Motor Speedway. Another update will be provided by Hendrick Motorsports next week. Jeff Gordon will continue to drive the #88 Chevy for the fourth race in a row. Gordon has earned five victories at the 0.533-mile short track, placing him in a three-way tie for first among active drivers with #41-Kurt Busch and #18-Kyle Busch.(HMS)(8-18-2016)
Hendrick helps Summer Camp Fund reach its goal: NASCAR team owner Rick Hendrick has donated $34,000 to The Charlotte Observer's Summer Camp Fund, the amount needed to help the fund reach its goal to give more children a chance to go to camp next year. Hendrick, last year's honorary chairman of the annual fundraising drive, said he came to realize how important it is to give children from low-income families the experience and opportunities that summer camp offers. "Over the last few years, our family has learned so much about issues impacting our young people," Hendrick said in a statement. "The success of the Summer Camp Fund really highlights the generosity and compassion of our community, and we've been proud to join with so many of our neighbors in supporting it." As of Friday, the Summer Camp Fund received donations totaling more than $190,000, which enables the non-profit to qualify for an additional $25,000 grant from the Leon Levine Foundation.(Charlotte Observer)(8-6-2016)
Earnhardt Jr. to meet with the media at Watkins Glen UPDATE2: Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 Chevy, is scheduled to meet with the members of the media on Friday, Aug. 5, at 12:00pm/et in the Watkins Glen International media center. Earnhardt Jr. has missed the last three races, suffering from a concussion.(HMS)
UPDATE: Dale Earnhardt Jr. talked to the media at Watkins Glen to answer questions about his situation, missing races and getting back in the car. He said it is great to be back at the track and see everybody and is super nervous coming back but haven't been to the track and miss my team. DaleJr says his intentions are to get cleared and get back in the car, but no set timeline yet. He would like to get in a racecar once cleared from concussion symptoms, maybe a late model or whatnot, and run for a day, before he deals with a race weekeend. He is surprised he has missed this many races. Earnhardt says he is not read to quit or stop racing but he will not get back in a car until his doctors clear him. He plans to stay thru practices visit his team and head back home today.(8-5-2016)
UPDATE2: Dale Earnhardt Jr. made it clear on Friday. He doesn't want to talk about the "R" word, as in retirement. Earnhardt's recent struggle with concussion-like symptoms, a malady that will cause him to miss at least five NASCAR Sprint Cup races this season, has fueled speculation that concern over health issues might persuade him to exit the #88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevy permanently. But Earnhardt had an emphatic reply when that issue was raised in a question-and-answer session with reporters on Friday at Watkins Glen International, host venue for Sunday's Cheez-It 355. "I have every intention of honoring my current contract (which runs through 2017)," Earnhardt said. "I sat with (team owner) Rick (Hendrick) before this happened a couple of months ago to talk about an extension. That's the direction that we are going. As soon as I can get healthy and get confident in how I feel and feel like I can drive a car and be great driving it, then I want to drive. I want to race. I miss the competition. I miss being here. I miss the people and, as Rick likes to say, 'We've got unfinished business.' I'm not ready to stop racing. I'm not ready to quit. It's a slower process, I wish it wasn't. I don't know how long it's going to take."
Until Earnhardt receives medical clearance, he won't be allowed to race, and he's working diligently with his doctors to suppress the symptoms that forced him out of the car for the mid-July Sprint Cup race at New Hampshire and will keep him on the sidelines at least through the Aug. 20 event at Bristol Motor Speedway. "I'm not going to go in the car until the doctors clear me," Earnhardt said. "The doctors won't let me race. This is not my decision, but it's the right decision, and I trust what my doctors are telling me. When they say I'm good to go, I believe them. If they say I'm healthy and I can race, I'm going to race."
Doctors concluded that the onset of Earnhardt's concussion-like symptoms, which involve issues with gaze stability, dizziness and balance, began with a wreck at Michigan in mid-June, though Earnhardt said the intensification of the symptoms was gradual. After he raced at Kentucky Speedway on July 9, Earnhardt sought medical attention, and what he thought might be a sinus infection instead resulted in the diagnosis that forced him out of the car. Earnhardt receives medical evaluations every two to three weeks and will continue to do so until he is symptom-free. In the meantime, doctors are encouraging him to participate in higher-stress public situations-such as a press conference-to exacerbate the symptoms with an eye toward getting them under control.
"That's just part of the process," Earnhardt said. "You don't want to go anywhere where you're going to feel worse. And this situation, my doctor tells me, is good therapy to go somewhere that makes you feel worse. Go in there and get exposure and then get out and go somewhere where you can kind of get calmed back down and then repeat the process. And so, I've been going and eating and having lunch with my family. I go to (sister) Kelley's house and get in the living room with her kids; boy that drives up the symptoms pretty good. But, it's been great to spend time with them." But it's all with one thing in mind.
"I just want to get better," Earnhardt said. "Our intentions are to get cleared and get back to racing. We are just taking it one evaluation at a time. It's frustrating to have to do it that way, but that's the process, and we hope and expect that, when we go back for the next evaluation, we are symptom-free and can start to see a timeline develop."(NASCAR Wire Service)(8-6-2016)
Dale Earnhardt Jr. Watkins Glen Press Conference Transcript: #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr., met with members of the media at Watkins Glen International to discuss his health, a potential timeline of his return to racing and many other topics. Full Transcript:
ON BEING BACK AT THE TRACK:
Earnhardt Jr.: "It is great to be back and seeing everybody. I'm super nervous coming back. Hadn't been to the track. I miss my team and my teammates. Amy (Reimann, fiancé) is gone on a trip for the weekend, so I was at the house by myself and was just looking for some things to do. Figured coming to the track wasn't a bad idea. Get to hang out with my guys a little bit. It just felt so weird not being there, so here we are."
Q) IS IT POSSIBLE YOUR DOCTORS WON'T BE ABLE TO GIVE YOU CLEAR DIRECTIVES SO THAT YOU WILL HAVE A BIG DECISION TO MAKE ON YOUR OWN FOR YOUR LONG TERM HEALTH?
Earnhardt Jr.: "I think my doctors have a good understanding of my history and what I have been through and with their own personal knowledge that they have throughout their careers to give me a clear understanding of when I will be ready to go back and get into a race car. Our intentions are to get cleared and get back to racing. We are just taking it one evaluation at a time. It is frustrating to have to do it that way, but that is the process, and we hope and expect that when we go back for the next evaluation that we are symptom free and can start to see a timeline develop. Until then, we are just taking it one evaluation at a time. Those are typically every two to three to four weeks."
Q) YOUR FANS WANT TO KNOW IF THIS HAS BEEN TOUGH EMOTIONALLY ON YOU BECAUSE YOU HAVE SEEMED SO STRONG THROUGH THIS:
Earnhardt Jr.: "I just want to get better. You put everything... nothing else is really a priority except for just getting the symptoms to clear up and get back to feeling like yourself. That is all that I am thinking about. The process isn't as fast as you would like it to be. I talk to my doctor every other day, sometimes for an hour or two about the psychological side of it because it can become very frustrating and obviously being a race car driver, we don't have a lot of patience to begin with. This is a challenge. But we've got some great doctors, and I really believe and trust what they are telling me. I am confident and positive that they tell me without question that we are going to get back to normal. I just have to do what they tell me. There are a lot of activities every day. There is about two to three hours' worth of physical and mental therapy that I do each day. Not a lot of fun. Probably some of it, just trying to describe it, it pretty mundane. But they really stress your symptoms, and that is what they want. They want you to do things that really push your mind, and bring out the symptoms. So, in the last evaluation, we really ramped up the therapy to make it a little more strenuous. We will continue to work. I will work every day and listen to my doctors and hopefully continue to see progress."
Q) SINCE THIS PROCESS FIRST STARTED, HAVE YOU PERSONALLY CONSIDERED WHETHER YOU SHOULD CONSIDER RACING, OR HAVE THAT DISCUSSION BETWEEN YOU AND AMY, OR EVEN WITH JUST YOURSELF?
Earnhardt Jr.: "No. My doctor thinks that to get through the therapy and to get through the symptoms you don't need to be adding stress to your life. The stress will slow down the process. So, going into those kinds of conversations aren't even necessary at this particular point. The point right now is just to get healthy. Just to get right. I'm not thinking about the what-ifs. I'm just listening to my doctors. We went into this with the intentions of getting back in the car when we get cleared. I think that is a possibility and so do my doctors. So I am excited about that. Whenever it happens; it happens. It is frustrating that we've had to miss this many races. When we first went into the doctor's office, we never anticipated being out this long. Unfortunately it is a slower process. There are no guidelines or rule book, or consistent history on how long this stuff really takes to clear up. So, we just have to be patient. My doctors feel great about the opportunity that I will not only be healthy again, but they can actually make my brain stronger to be able to withstand these common events. The event that I had at Michigan which they have tied this concussion to I shouldn't have had a concussion from. I should be able to get through events like that without having any issues. So, they are not only working to get me healed up, but are working to make it to where I can compete and go through events like that without any concern."
Q) ON GETTING CORRECT INFORMATION ABOUT HIS CONDITION TO EVERYONE:
Earnhardt Jr.: "I think the podcast was just a great outlet for us to give updates. People are wondering; people are curious so that was a great avenue for us. It is effective. I don't mind being honest about what is going on and I think that is maybe helped some people to when they are going through the same situation. The one thing I worry the most about and I think I said on the podcast is that I don't like people to make assumptions on where I am at and how I am doing and what I am up to. So it is best for my peace-of-mind to give me peace of mind and to bring down any stress and anxiety through the process is to just open up and be honest about what is going on and how we are doing. That is what we've done. It is just a coincidence and a fortunate situation to have that avenue. So we will probably continue to use that."
Q) CAN THEY NOT SET A TIMELINE UNTIL YOU ARE SYMPTOM FREE?
Earnhardt Jr.: "Yes, because you don't when they are going to quit. You just don't know when the symptoms will stop. Every day I am doing these exercises to sort of retrain the brain to fix the issues that I have with the balance and to gain stability. It will fix itself when it decides to. There is no common history that will tell you that 'man, this is going to last a month', or this is going to last...because I've had situations that...and I've talked to other people with this history that didn't last this long. That is why it is frustrating. My past history didn't take this long and cleared up... and you could see the progress, feel the progress every day. It is a little bit different. The symptoms I am having this time are different, but not uncommon. So my doctor is very positive and I feed off of that. I talk to him every other day like I said for him to keep reinforcing that positive energy so I can get in there and believe in the rehabilitation and the work I'm doing because it is really tough for me to get in there and do it. I just don't want to do it, but I know I have to. I just don't know when this is going to stop; and when things are going to fix themselves. That's why it has to be from one evaluation to the next. That is the best I can do for everybody."
Q) IS IT YOUR EXPECTATION TO BE BACK IN THE CAR AS SOON AS YOU ARE SYMPTOM FREE?
Earnhardt Jr.: "I don't know what the doctor would choose there. Whether you could go symptom free and go immediately back in the car. Or if they would maybe want you to be symptom free for a week or two weeks. I don't know what he will do. We haven't really talked about that. I personally would like to get in a race car and drive it at a closed course somewhere. Whether that is one of my late models, or if NASCAR would lift the restrictions on the testing policy to go to Gresham or someplace I want to get in the car and run for a day. I think I should do that. That would be the smartest thing to do before actually trying to accomplish an entire race weekend."
Q) CAN YOU TALK ABOUT HOW FRUSTRATING THE ANXIETY-SIDE OF THIS HAS BEEN? ALSO, HOW HAS THE SUPPORT OF YOUR FANS HELPED YOU?
Earnhardt Jr.: "I'd love to speak on the support. It's been awesome. All the NASCAR fans are supportive of all the drivers when they find themselves in situations that are challenging. It's been no different. That's helped me a lot and gave me a lot of motivation to get back and get back in the car. Even hearing from not only the fans, but also the other drivers and my peers is such a positive motivation. The more of that I see, the better. I think it helps me keep going and keep working hard and take my therapy seriously. As far as anxiety, with 2012 it was just about resting and not doing anything that would drive the symptoms and really letting your mind and your head rest to heal. For whatever reason, my doctor wants to push me into situations that drive the symptoms and that's basically going somewhere that I'm not familiar with, or being in busy places. Going out to eat or going to lunch or coming here, my doctor calls that 'exposure'. This is probably the worst situation (laughs) as far as making my symptoms go haywire, but that's what he wants. He wants me to do anything whether it's going places and pushing myself to get into areas that give me anxiety and drive the symptoms. All the rehab drives the symptoms. They want me to push the symptoms so my body gets used to them and they become suppressed and then it's no longer an issue.
I kind of had the same thing with the old concussion. I could go places. The anxiety was bad and it would drive up the symptoms, too. That's just part of the process. That's a common occurrence with situations like this. You don't want to go anywhere where you're going to feel worse. And this situation, my doctor tells me, is good therapy to go somewhere that makes you feel worse. Go in there and get exposure and then get out and go somewhere where you can kind of get calmed back down and then repeat the process. And so, I've been going and eating and having lunch with my family. I go to Kelley's house and get in the living room with her kids; boy that drives up the symptoms pretty good (laughter). But, it's been great to spend time with them. It's unusual, the time that I've been able to spend with them since we're not racing.
There are six types of concussions as far as what part of the body they really affect. Mainly I've got ocular imbalance issues. They are all connected. And so, you can have an injury to the ocular or the balance and it will affect the emotion. And it is all sort of tied together. So, if you injure one part of your brain, all of them get deficient in some way, shape, or form. So, you have all these other symptoms. And you've just really got to corral and fix that one area and it stops affecting the rest of it. So, we're working on it."
Q) YOU'VE BEEN A BIG ADVOCATE FOR PEOPLE WITH CONCUSSIONS IN THE SPORTS WORLD. DO YOU HAVE ANY ADVICE FOR OTHER DRIVERS THAT MIGHT HAVE THE SAME SYMPTOMS BUT ARE AFRAID TO STAND UP TO IT?
Earnhardt Jr.: "It's really hard, as a driver, to say that you've got a problem. And it's hard to tell someone what to do in that situation. If you're not feeling good; for me, I was sort of scared straight into getting checked out. When I got hurt in 2012, it was so severe and my body changed and my mind changed so much, I just had to get it looked at. I couldn't go every day trying to self-manage my issues. And I just feel like, hopefully, anytime anybody gets dinged-up, or realized that they're just not right, or they're foggy, or whatever their symptoms are, that they would reach out to a neurologist and get checked out. And there's easy access with our sport. We've got a lot of great people that are part of the sport and who have been part of the sport for a long time, that handle those issues and can get you to the right people.
It's hard because you basically put yourself out there to be pulled out of the car. But man, your quality of life is so important. Your health beyond your driving career is so important. If you plan on having a family, or have a family already, those things are going to be a priority. There are so many reasons to do the right thing and go ahead and get the help you need and get back in the car, when you're healthy. I've learned a lot through this experience in the last three or four years and feel like it's a hard decision to make. And I feel like it would be even harder, the younger you are, and the situation you're in when you're trying to get a career going and just trying to make a living driving cars, it would be tougher. Being in the situation I'm in now, having ran for so long, maybe it wasn't as challenging or as hard a decision to make, to make the right choice. But if I was 21 and just getting started or very young, it would be so hard to make that decision. So, I can definitely understand the point of view from the drivers."
Q) OUTSIDE OF NASCAR, HAVE ANY OTHER PROFESSIONAL ATHLETES REACHED OUT TO YOU TO TALK ABOUT CONCUSSIONS? DO YOU FEEL LIKE MAYBE YOU OPEN A DOOR FOR OTHER SPORTS TO MAYBE LOOK AT CONCUSSIONS MORE SERIOUSLY FOR OTHER ATHLETES?
Earnhardt Jr.: "I don't know. I just know I'm trying to take care of myself. I've talked to a lot of drivers. I've talked to a lot of people. You get in this situation and a lot of people reach out and a lot of people have their own experiences that they want to share. And when you're going through that, you definitely want to share your experience with people who have had a common experience. It's so frustrating trying to explain your symptoms to somebody who's never had a concussion. And it's so frustrating trying to explain to somebody what just regular day-to-day life is like when you've got these symptoms. Nobody can see it. You can't scan and see it. Doctors can't see it. They really rely on the patient to be honest and upfront. So, when you can talk to someone who has been through it, it's a great experience and it helps both of you, to be honest with you. So, there's been a lot of that. And I really appreciate those calls and relationships I have with those guys."
Q) IS IT AMAZING TO YOU HOW FAR WE HAVE ADVANCED MEDICALLY?
Earnhardt Jr.: "I think about that. I'm so thankful that there is knowledge and there is rehabilitation that is specific to what I have going on. There is just not this umbrella of treatment that they sort of give to everybody. They have specific ways to help and heal specific types of concussions and certain symptoms. That is why I think I enjoy talking to my doctor so often and going to see him so often is because you have so many questions. Every day you get a new concern or a new question and you really can't wait to get in the room and be able to talk to him about it. For them to have the knowledge they have today versus where we were 10 or 20 years ago is something I am very thankful for and I feel very fortunate when I got to see my doctor he will put me in front of four or five different specialists that handle a lot of different things as far as my rehabilitation and medication and so forth. There is so much to grab on to. There is so much to learn and so much positive things to take back from the evaluations when you are able to get in front of all those people and hear all the specific things that are happening to you and what you need to do and why it's happening and how you can help it. We didn't know all that stuff before and there is still a lot to be learned. I like to see my doctor and I like to get in there and learn as much as I can and try to understand the progress we are making and what to expect. There is still a lot to be learned though. There have been so many advances and I feel so fortunate to have the treatment and the access to the treatment that I have."
Q) IN TALKING TO YOUR DOCTORS HAS IT ALWAYS BEEN WHEN YOU ARE HEALTHY AND SAFE TO GET BACK IN? OR HAVE THEY AT ANY POINT INTRODUCED AN ELEMENT OF IF?
Earnhardt Jr.: "No that is not the conversation your doctor is going to have with you when he is trying to get you right. You are just worrying about getting normal. You go in there and you see your doctor and all you and him talk about and all he cares about is fixing you. He doesn't care about my racing or whatever I do as a profession. He is just trying to fix what is wrong with me. That is his job. He is not a counselor or a psychologist. That is not his profession so he is just telling me do this treatment, take these medications, do this every day and I promise you we are going to get you right. And that is not the conversation you are going to have in the middle of treatment with someone who is suffering or someone who is going through that process. The conversations I have had with him is that he believes we are going to fix it. He believes that he can make me stronger and that I will be able to pick up where I left off."
Q) HOW LONG ARE YOU HERE FOR? WILL YOU GET INVOLVED WITH TALKING TO JEFF (GORDON) AND GREG IVES ABOUT THE RACE/COMPETITION?
Earnhardt Jr.: "I doubt I will get too in depth with that. I just wanted to come and see everybody. I got to go see my guys they would be really upset if I didn't. I am real happy to see all you guys and just whoever I run into on the way from A to B. It's been so weird not to be at the track. You don't really realize how many relationships and friendships you have and how much you appreciate them until you are not able to have access to it. Just to be able to come to the track was something I was excited about. I'm going to go into the garage to the hauler and I will stick around until after practice is over and things kind of calm down, so I can see my guys when they are not working. Then I'm probably going to go back home."
Q) YOU'VE HAD A GREAT CAREER IF IT CAME TO THAT WOULD YOU CONSIDER? HAVE YOU THOUGHT ABOUT IT FROM THAT PERSPECTIVE?
Earnhardt Jr.: "What? You didn't say the word. (Laughs)"
Earnhardt Jr.: "When I went to see Dr. Petty for the first time in 2012 and then he set me up with the guys in Pittsburgh (Pennsylvania) they told me that our process was to get better and go back to racing. This one is no different. When I first went to see my doctor in this particular instance it was I need to get right because I need to get back in the car as soon as I can. I'm surprised that I've missed this many races. I never thought this would take this long. I didn't have a massive accident and I didn't have really crazy symptoms. This thing happened so awkward where we had the accident in Michigan and then the symptoms crept in very slowly like two weeks later. I didn't think this was that serious, but it had gotten to a point to where I definitely didn't need to be in the racecar. At that point you've got to go get checked out and get ahold of it and figure out how to fix it. But, from the very onset of this it was 'man this will go away in a couple of weeks. I'm going to have to miss a race or two and we will get back in the car and we will get going again.' I'm thinking about, well it's going to put more pressure on me to win a race to get in the Chase and all that stuff. I have every intention of honoring my current contract. I sat with Rick (Hendrick) before this happened a couple of months ago to talk about an extension. That is the direction that we are going. As soon as I can get healthy and get confident in how I feel and feel like I can drive a car and be great driving it then I want to drive. I want to race. I miss the competition. I miss being here. I miss the people and as Rick likes to say 'we've got unfinished business.' I'm not ready to stop racing. I'm not ready to quit. It's a slower process, I wish it wasn't. I don't know how long it's going to take. As impatient as I am I worry about everyone else's patients as well. But, I'm not going to go in the car until the doctors clear me. The doctors won't let me race. This is not my decision, but it's the right decision and I trust what my doctors are telling me. When they say I'm good to go I believe them. If they say I'm healthy and I can race I'm going to race."(Team Chevy)(8-5-2016)
Gordon to make 800th Cup start: Jeff Gordon, who will be driving the #88 Axalta Chevy at Watkins Glen, will make his 800th career NASCAR Cup Series start this weekend, which is 9th all-time. He has made all 799 of his career Cup starts while driving for car owner Rick Hendrick. In addition to his four championships (1995, 1997, 1998 and 2001), Gordon has earned 93 Cup victories, which ranks him third on the all-time wins list. He's a three-time Daytona 500 winner, a record five-time Brickyard 400 winner and has seven wins at Darlington Raceway. He has racked up 81 poles, which also ranks him third on the all-time pole award winner's list, 325 top-five finishes, 475 top-10s and has led a total of 24,929 laps in his 24-year career.(HMS), see full all-time list on the All-Time / Consecutive Starts page.(8-4-2016)
Earnhardt, Jr believes concussion happened at Michigan UPDATE: #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr. said his doctors believe his concussion-like symptoms started with his June 12 crash at Michigan International Speedway. "Obviously with my history of concussions, knowing the event I had in Michigan, that wreck right there is where they believe I picked up this issue," Earnhardt said Monday night on his weekly Dale Jr. Download podcast. "I didn't feel anything that next week. The off week, I went to Germany (on vacation), went to Sonoma, ran good, felt awesome. It was strange these symptoms came out of nowhere. But we started doing a lot of digging, and they seem to feel confident this occurred in Michigan."
"This is scary for me because of the way it's been different. I'm having balance issues. I've never had balance issues before. The eye issues with the stability, I've never had that before. It started very slowly, gradually and continued to progress until it stopped and stayed where it is. I don't know what tells me about how long this process is going to be. I felt I had a good understanding of concussions in the past, but this is certainly a new one. They all have different symptoms and own time and length of recovery is different."(NBC Sports)(8-2-2016)
UPDATE: Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 Chevy for Hendrick Motorsports, has not been cleared by physicians to compete in at least the next two NASCAR Sprint Cup Series events as he continues to recover from a concussion. He will miss the races at Watkins Glen International (Aug. 7) and Bristol Motor Speedway (Aug. 20). Earnhardt underwent further evaluation today at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Sports Medicine Concussion Program. The driver said Monday on his weekly "The Dale Jr. Download" podcast that he continues to experience issues with balance and gaze stabilization. "We have a break in the schedule after Watkins Glen, so the extra week of recovery time will certainly be a benefit," said Rick Hendrick, owner of Hendrick Motorsports. "Dale will be back when he's ready, and we're looking forward to that happening, but the priority continues to be his health and well-being. We'll keep our focus on that and let the doctors guide us." Jeff Gordon will be the team's substitute driver at the Watkins Glen road course, where he will make his 800th career NASCAR Cup start, and Bristol. He is NASCAR's all-time leader with nine road course victories, including four at Watkins Glen. The four-time series champion, who has five wins at Bristol, has made all 799 of his career Cup starts while driving for car owner Hendrick.(HMS)(8-2-2016)
Gordon unsure what caused seat belt problems: Jeff Gordon was looking for a good finish in the Pennsylvania 400 subbing for Dale Earnhardt Jr. in the #88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet when his day came undone. Literally. Gordon had overcome a pit-road speeding penalty at Pocono Raceway and was restarting in seventh-place on Lap 110 when he had an extremely unusual problem: His right-side seat belt came undone in the cockpit of his racecar. With no choice other than to slow way down to fix the problem, Gordon fell all the way from seventh back to 27th as he reached around to connect the errant belts in his car. And that's where he finished.
"It's the first time I've ever had that happen with this type of mechanism where you just plug it in and it latches," said Gordon. "I thought I had it latched because it happened actually on pit road one time," said Gordon. "And I got it latched and lost some time. And then we were in a pretty good position on the restart and went to take off and as soon as I went into second (gear) and third, just that little bit of a side movement just pulled it out. It would go in and sort of latch, but when you wiggled it from left to right, it would pop right out."
"I knew I couldn't go down into Turn 1 on these crazy restarts without a right-side seat belt," said Gordon. "So, I came in under that stop. We worked on it and now it's good. I have no clue. It's unfortunate."(Fox Sports)(8-2-2016)
Earnhardt, Jr. says "no change lately": #88-Dale Earnhardt, Jr. tweeted Saturday morning, "Update: No change lately. Symptoms have plateaued over the last week. Balance/Gaze Stabilization are only issues. Docs preaching patience."(7-30-2016)
Gordon says he will remain in #88 if needed: Jeff Gordon met with the media at Pocono Raceway Friday morning:
How long are you prepared to fill-in? Is there a plan for Watkins Glen
Gordon: "Well, we have to cross that bridge when we get there. It seems like... it was great last Friday to see him say 'hey I feel good today and made some progress.' We want to just keep going with how he is feeling. The doctors are evaluating. I'm not speculating anything at this time. I wouldn't be here in Pocono if I wasn't committed to be there for Hendrick Motorsports and this team in any way that they need me. I think there is a balance between trying to make this transition. First of all you want Dale to have the comfort of knowing that somebody is there for him. He doesn't have to worry about that aspect of it through this process. Just get well at the pace that is the right pace to do it. So, nobody is putting any pressure or time frame on that. He may be putting that on himself more than anybody else. Then there is the side of who is the best person to be in the car to get the most points. And then there is the sponsorship side of it as well. So far from what Rick (Hendrick) is telling me that seems to be me. That is why I was at Indy and that is why I'm here. I thought Alex Bowman did an excellent job at New Hampshire. I tell you after going through what I went through at Indy I have a much greater appreciation for him because that was one of the toughest things I ever did. Not just getting in the race car after eight months, but trying to fill-in for Dale Earnhardt, Jr. knowing the kind of attention that it gets. My heart was beating out of my chest because of the pressure and the eyes that were on you as much as just not being in the car. Great job to Alex. I will be here as long as they need me. I say that very loosely." (Chevy PR)(7-29-2016)
NASCAR's #88 driver Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and Carolina Panthers #88 tight end Greg Olsen - together with presenting sponsor New Era - have teamed up to raise money for the Levine Children's Hospital in Charlotte, North Carolina. Now in its third year, the fundraiser is appropriately dubbed "Weekend with the 88s," and offers one lucky winner and their guest an unprecedented experience in sports spectating. "Greg is a standup guy," Earnhardt Jr. said. "What he does on the field is incredible, and the work he does off the field to raise money and awareness for Levine Children's Hospital makes him that much more impressive. We have enjoyed being able to team up with him and his foundation for the past few years. This year, having the race in Charlotte on Saturday night and the Panthers playing on Monday Night Football will be a very unique experience for the winner."
"Weekend with the 88s" runs Friday, Oct. 7 through Monday, Oct. 10. The winning fan and their guest will experience a world-class weekend in sports:
Friday, Oct. 7
Behind-the-scenes tour of JR Motorsports
$200 gift certificate for the JR Nation retail store
Swag bag with NASCAR gear
Two garage passes and two Grandstand tickets to the Drive for the Cure 300 NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Charlotte Motor Speedway
Saturday, Oct. 8
Behind-the-scenes guided tour of Bank of America Stadium
Meet and Greet and photo opportunity with Greg Olsen
Assorted Carolina Panthers gear for two
Two garage passes and two Grandstand tickets for the Bank of America 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Charlotte Motor Speedway
Meet and Greet and photo opportunity with Dale Earnhardt Jr. at Charlotte Motor Speedway
Sunday, Oct. 9
Two tickets to the NASCAR Hall of Fame
VIP Booth at Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s Whisky River restaurant and bar
$100 gift card to Whisky River
Monday, Oct. 10
Premium Tickets to Carolina Panthers Monday Night Football game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Parking pass at Bank of America Stadium
Pre-game sideline passes to watch the Panthers warmup in close-up action
Double-occupancy room at The Ritz Carlton in Charlotte, N.C., for three nights
$100 gift card to BLT Steak Charlotte Restaurant
"I'm excited to team up with Dale Jr. again to give another fan a full-throttle, over-the-top weekend of their life," Olsen said. "The best part about this event is that all proceeds benefit Levine Children's Hospital - a place very near and dear to my heart and that of our greater Charlotte community." Only 8,888 raffle tickets valued at $18.88 will be sold. The raffle kicks off at 10 a.m. ET, July 27 and runs through Sept. 18 at 11:59 p.m. ET. The winner will be drawn on or about Sept. 20. All proceeds will benefit the Levine Children's Hospital. Fans can learn more about the raffle or purchase a ticket at www.weekendwiththe88s.com.(7-27-2016)
Top-20 drivers in merchandise sales released: This race weekend at Pocono Raceway marks the first anniversary of the Fanatics Trackside Superstore - the reimagined and improved at-track shopping experience. The Trackside Superstore offers fans a one-stop-shop every race weekend with the largest selection of in-store NASCAR merchandise in the world. Halfway through 2016, photo finishes, side-by-side racing and record passing as the Chase spots are clinched has driven interest in the telecast and engagement on digital and social as well as in driver merchandise sales. NASCAR fans take pride in flying the colors of their favorite drivers and the first-half merchandise sales results are officially tallied. The top three drivers are no surprise with #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr. leading the rankings, followed by six-time Sprint Cup Series champion #48-Jimmie Johnson and defending champion #18-Kyle Busch. With rising stars like Austin Dillon, Kyle Larson, Joey Logano and Sunoco Rookie of the Year contenders Chase Elliott and Ryan Blaney, there are currently five drivers in the top-20 list who are 26 years of age or younger. The most popular products available at the Trackside Superstore include apparel, headwear and novelty items. Lionel's 1:64 scale die-casts are up 77 percent year-over-year, one of the largest growth trends across all categories at the Trackside Superstore.(NASCAR) The top 20: #88-Earnhardt, Jr., #48-Johnson, #18-Busch, #24-Elliott, #4-Harvick, #14-Stewart, #10-Patrick, #19-Edwards, #2-Keselowski, #5-Kahne, #22-Logano, #11-Hamlin, #20-Kenseth, #78-Truex, Jr., #41-Busch, #42-Larson, #31-Newman, #3-Dillon, #21-Blaney, #1-McMurray.(NASCAR)(7-27-2016)
Earnhardt, Jr gives update on his status: Dale Earnhardt Jr., on his weekly The Dale Jr. Download, said "I miss the people more than the driving" while sitting out with concussion-type symptoms such as balance issues and nausea. He said he has been working on the physical and mental exercises for 2-2.5 hours a day. "This process is going to take a little bit longer. ... With my history, I don't need to get cute (in returning)," said Earnhardt, who indicated he will see doctors soon to make a determination about Watkins Glen next week. He said it must have been a challenge for Jeff Gordon because of the changes to the cars since Gordon last drove them. On Kyle Busch's win: "You have to hand it to Gibbs. Good Lord, their stuff is so fast."(ESPN.com)(7-25-2016)
Hendrick Motorsports looking for 1000th top-5 UPDATE: Cars fielded by Hendrick Motorsports have recorded 999 top-five finishes since the team was founded by Rick Hendrick in 1984. The owner's first Sprint Cup top-five also was his first win -- with driver Geoff Bodine on April 29, 1984, at Martinsville Speedway. This season, the organization has recorded 19 top-fives among its four drivers. Hendrick Motorsports posted a team record 57 top-five finishes in 2007.(Hendrick Motorsports)(7-21-2016)
UPDATE: #48-Jimmie Johnson's 3rd place finish at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Sunday was Hendrick's 1000th top-5.(7-25-2016)
Earnhardt Jr. sensing improvement: #88- Dale Earnhardt Jr. indicated Friday he is feeling a little better as he battles balance issues and nausea believed to be from concussions. Earnhardt, who has been working with doctors for the past 10 days, will miss his second consecutive race this weekend. "Today is the 1st day in many that I sensed improvement," Earnhardt tweeted Friday morning. "Seen small gains during my physical therapy as well. Light at the end of the tunnel." Earnhardt was replaced by one his Xfinity Series drivers, Alex Bowman, last week at New Hampshire and will be replaced by four-time Sprint Cup champion Jeff Gordon this weekend at Indianapolis and next week at Pocono. There is no timetable for Earnhardt's return.(ESPN.com)
AND: Hendrick Motorsports held a press conference Friday morning at Indianapolis Motor Speedway with Jeff Gordon and Rick Hendrick. A few notes:
• Gordon says he has done everything he can do to prepare for the race this weekend. Heat will a concern, but he feels ready.
• Hendrick says Earnhardt, Jr. is "getting antsy" but he is going to follow doctor's orders.
• Gordon say he "didn't have to think twice" about filling in for the team.
• Gordon has not made a commitment for any races beyond Pocono. They will wait and see Earnhardt, Jr's status.
• Gordon was asked to fill in for Tony Stewart at Daytona, but could not do it because of his commitment to Fox.
• The biggest issue for Gordon will be to remember to pull into the #88 pit on Sunday and not into the #24 out of habit.
• Gordon had planned to drive the pace car on Sunday before the opportunity to drive came up.
Gordon's return could impact Hall of Fame admission: Jeff Gordon's return to Sprint Cup racing could impact his NASCAR Hall of Fame eligibility. He was on track to be nominated, after the required two years of retirement for a driver under 55, in 2018 for the 2019 class. NASCAR will have to determine if this two-race (at least) substitute role in place of Dale Earnhardt Jr. will push him into first being eligible to be nominated in 2019 for the 2020 class.(ESPN.com)(7-21-2016)
Earnhardt, Jr. to miss at least two more races; Gordon to sub: Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 Chevrolet SS for Hendrick Motorsports, has not been cleared by physicians to compete in at least the next two NASCAR Sprint Cup Series events as he continues to recover from concussion-like symptoms. He will miss the races at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Pocono Raceway. Four-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Jeff Gordon will be the team's substitute driver at Indianapolis and Pocono. He most recently raced in the 2015 Sprint Cup season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Gordon, who grew up in Pittsboro, Indiana, ranks third all-time with 93 career victories in the series, including six at Pocono and five in the Brickyard 400 - both records. Earnhardt underwent further evaluation Tuesday at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Sports Medicine Concussion Program. The driver said this week on his "The Dale Jr. Download" podcast that he has been experiencing issues with balance and nausea. He will not travel to Indianapolis or Pocono. "Our focus is giving Dale all the time he needs to recover," said Rick Hendrick, owner of Hendrick Motorsports. "There's nothing we want more than to see him back in the race car, but we'll continue to listen to the doctors and follow their lead. What's best for Dale is what's best for Hendrick Motorsports and everyone involved with the team. We're all proud of him and looking forward to having him racing soon." Gordon, 44, has made all 797 of his career Cup starts for car owner Hendrick. He competed in his 23rd and final full-time Sprint Cup Series season in 2015. "Jeff's a team player," Hendrick said. "I know he'll be ready, and I know Dale has incredible trust in him. It's going to be an emotional weekend (at Indianapolis) with Dale not being there and seeing Jeff back behind the wheel. Greg (Ives) and the team did a great job at New Hampshire, and they have the full support of our organization."(Hendrick Motorsports)(7-20-2016)
Earnhardt Jr. battling balance, nausea issues: #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr. is suffering from balance issues and nausea, but a test that measures his cognitive function showed optimistic results, the Hendrick Motorsports driver said Sunday night. Earnhardt, speaking on his weekly race recap podcast "The Dale Jr. Download" released Monday, described what kept him out of the race car this past weekend at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. He did not give a timetable for his return from concussion-like symptoms, possibly caused by wrecks June 12 at Michigan and July 2 at Daytona. Earnhardt said the results of his ImPACT test, a 20-minute test that measures memory, reaction time, attention span and other cognitive skills, have matched his baseline, so that is encouraging.
"My results matched my baseline, which made me feel confident that my brain is pretty sharp; it feels good," Earnhardt said. "The symptoms I have are balance and nausea. I struggled with my balance over the last four, five days and I definitely wouldn't be able to drive a race car this weekend."
"They can give me a lot of exercises that retrain my brain to handle what I need to handle -- it's just going to take a lot of patience," Earnhardt said. "I take my health and quality of life as a top priority. ... I am going to take this slow and strictly take the advice of my doctors."(ESPN.com)(7-18-2016)
Hendrick talks about Earnhardt, Jr.: Hendrick Motorosports' owner Rick Hendrick met with media prior to the start of the New Hampshire 301 to talk about Dale Earnhardt, Jr's possible concussion:
CAN YOU TELL US HOW DALE EARNHARDT JR IS DOING? HAVE YOU BEEN ABLE TO FIGURE OUT IF HE HAS HAD A CONCUSSION, OR NOT?
"I'm not a doctor, but he's running through a bunch of tests and he's going to have some more tests the first of the week. He's doing good. He wants to be in the car. The doctors are going to tell him when it's okay for him to be back. And so, I know he's anxious. We want him back as soon as the doctors give him clearance."
DO YOU IMAGINE JEFF GORDON WOULD CONTINUE IF JUNIOR'S PROBLEMS CONTINUE?
"I would think so. I haven't talked to him about it. We're just taking it a week at a time. Hopefully Dale's going to be back next week and it's not even something that we really think is going to happen. But if it does, Jeff is a team player and he wants to support the organization, and I'm sure he'll do whatever he has to do."
SINCE THIS IS THE SECOND TIME THAT DALE HAS HAD TO GET OUT OF THE CAR FOR THIS ISSUE, IS THERE ANY CONCERN ON YOUR PART THAT SOMETHING MORE SERIOUS WOULD GO ON THAT WOULD CURTAIL OR SHORTEN HIS CAREER?
"I don't think so. He and I talked about years beyond next year. And just around, I guess it was Daytona, if there was something major wrong, I think they would have seen it already. So, I'm very hopeful and he's very hopeful. And I think the doctors want to err on the side of being sure because we want him for a long time. He loves the fans. He loves the sport. He loves to race."
IS THERE A TIMETABLE FOR A DECISION ON INDIANAPOLIS?
"I think probably by late Tuesday afternoon, Wednesday morning we've got to know. So, we will get that decision then and then we will go to plan B."
See the full interview transcript on the Rick Hendrick transcript page. (Chevy Racing PR)(7-18-2016)
Hendrick Motorsports talks about Dale Jr's status: Hendrick Motorsports general manager Doug Duchardt, #88-Crew Chief Greg Ives and Alex Bowman talked to the media at New Hampshire Motor Speedway Friday morning. Some notes:
After Earnhardt, Jr. continued to feel bad last weekend at Kentucky, the initial plan was for him to start this weekend's New Hampshire race and be relieved by Alex Bowman;
Friday afternoon it was determined that Earnhardt, Jr. would not be able to race at all this weekend;
Duchardt says they won't speculate on the long term impact of this on Earnhardt, Jr's career;
Should Earnhardt, Jr. not be able to race next week, Jeff Gordon will drive the #88 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway;
The #88 driver after Indianapolis (if needed) has not been determined. A decision will be made around Wednesday next week.;
Earnhardt, Jr. will need approval from a independent, board-certified neurologist before he is allowed to return.(7-15-2016)
Dale Earnhardt Jr. will not race at New Hampshire: Dale Earnhardt Jr. will not compete in the July 17 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event at New Hampshire Motor Speedway after experiencing concussion-like symptoms. Earnhardt, driver of the #88 Chevrolet for Hendrick Motorsports, was evaluated this week in Charlotte and today was not cleared by physicians to race. Alex Bowman will be the team's substitute driver this weekend at New Hampshire.
"I wasn't feeling great the week going into Kentucky (Speedway) and thought it was possibly severe allergies," Earnhardt said. "I saw a family doctor and was given medication for allergies and a sinus infection. When that didn't help, I decided to dig a little deeper. Because of my symptoms and my history with concussions, and after my recent wrecks at Michigan and Daytona, I reached out and met with a neurological specialist. After further evaluation, they felt it was best for me to sit out."
"I'm disappointed about missing New Hampshire this weekend. I'm looking forward to treatment with the goal of getting back in the race car when the doctors say I'm ready."
A timetable for Earnhardt's return has not been established. Hendrick Motorsports will provide an update next week regarding plans for the July 24 event at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
"I'm proud of Dale for standing up," said Rick Hendrick, owner of Hendrick Motorsports. "The number-one priority is his health, so we're going to give him all the time he needs. We completely support the decision by the doctors and will be ready to go win races when he's 100 percent. In the meantime, we have full confidence in Greg (Ives) and the team, and we know they'll do a great job."(Hendrick Motorsports)(7-14-2016)
Special scheme for Earnhardt Jr. at Kentucky: Dale Earnhardt Jr. will drive the #88 Nationwide Children's Hospital Chevy this weekend at Kentucky Speedway. The special paint scheme features the Nationwide Children's Hospital (NCH) logo as well as the names of fans (on the hood) who donated to the hospital through a special fundraising platform. The blue car will be adorned with butterflies, as they are recognized as the hospital's ambassadors of hope and optimism. As America's largest pediatric hospital and research center, NCH is dedicated to making sure that all patients are given the care they need, regardless of the family's ability to pay. Families travel from around the nation - and some even come from other countries - to gain access to the Columbus, Ohio-based hospital's life-saving treatments. On race day, Earnhardt and Nationwide will host the Patient Champions and their families at the track to show appreciation for the bravery the kids show as they battle their illnesses. As previously announced, The Dale Jr. Foundation has partnered with Nationwide and NCH on the Driven to Give Gloves program and has dedicated four pairs of Earnhardt's gloves to four different Patient Champions at NCH. The money raised from those four pairs of gloves will go to NCH to support their mission of helping kids everywhere. More than 1,000 Nationwide associates will be in attendance at Kentucky Speedway on July 9 to support the Patient Champion Program.(HMS), see image of the scheme on the #88 Teams Schemes page.(7-7-2016)
The Sprint Cup Drivers Council meets Thursday night: The Sprint Cup Drivers Council will meet Thursday night with large packs and safety on the agenda. That might seem appropriate at Daytona International Speedway, but this discussion with NASCAR officials won't center on the tight clusters of cars clogging the banking of the 2.5-mile track. The topic, instead, will be the large throngs of people mingling in the pits before Saturday night's Coke Zero 400 in the wake of a prerace pit atmosphere at Sonoma Raceway that seemed less than orderly for some. "I thought that the security on pit road (at Sonoma) was pretty bad during prerace, and we'll talk about that some," council member Dale Earnhardt Jr. said Thursday afternoon before practice. "Some of the drivers were concerned with how messy that's getting, considering what's going on and when we're trying to get in the cars. It was pretty crazy down there. It's great to see that much energy, but some tracks seem to be able to corral it and control it better and give the crews their space to work around the cars and so forth. So that's something I think some of the drivers are real concerned with; nothing too out of the ordinary that is going to change the sport too much."
Fellow Drivers Council member Denny Hamlin also said that Sonoma "was a mess to say the least. It was hard to even just walk to your car, and it's a very small pit road. There's some things that definitely could get done. I think really each team should have a 10-foot square space around their car that is designated for just driver and team. I think we definitely could work on that. I think a lot of tracks are working on that." Hamlin raised the possibility that a fan could put a car out of compliance in a manner that NASCAR might suspect a team intentionally had done.
Earnhardt said there weren't any "big-ticket" items to be hashed out at the meeting, which was the first since April 29 at Talladega Superspeedway. Also on the docket are the future of the Sprint Unlimited (the preseason exhibition event at Daytona will have a new name at a minimum in 2017 because of a new title sponsor) and the Sprint All-Star Race format (which was met with mixed reviews last month).(NBC Sports)(6-30-2016)
Earnhardt Jr. looking to repeat at Daytona: #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr. is the defending champion of the Coke Zero 400. Earnhardt Jr. will try to join the back-to-back club of Coke Zero 400 champions including Fireball Roberts (1962-63), A.J. Foyt (1964-65), Cale Yarborough (1967-68), David Pearson (1972-74) and Tony Stewart (2005-06).(NASCAR)(7-2-2016)
Earnhardt Jr.'s #88 to run Michigan scheme in August: The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series just finished up its first trip to Michigan International Speedway of the season last weekend. And when the series returns MIS in August, Dale Earnhardt Jr. will have a special scheme on the #88 Chevy. Monday (6/13) afternoon, Axalta unveiled the joint paint scheme it will share with the University of Michigan. The unveil came at an event at Axalta's Mt. Clemens manufacturing plant in honor of the organization receiving the General Motors Supplier of the Year award for the second consecutive year. In addition, Axalta and the University of Michigan recently partnered to support engineering and businesses students in addition to coatings research and other projects. The #88 Axalta-University of Michigan Chevrolet SS will hit the track for the Aug. 28 race at Michigan.(HMS), see images of the scheme on the #88 Team Schemes page (6-15-2016)
Earnhardt, Jr. says drivers want more practice time: #88-Dale Earnhardt, Jr. finished 2nd Monday at Pocono Raceway. After teh race he talked about the team's need for more practice time:
Earnhardt, Jr. "[I] Don't really know exactly how much better we got it compared to the competition, but we certainly made it more competitive. We just didn't get any practice. The drivers have been asking NASCAR to take away the morning practice and add a little bit to the second one to make that Saturday practice an hour and a half, and we didn't - it was just an hour. It takes you a minute to run around this track. You can't get but 13 damned laps in practice. I don't know how you're supposed to figure out what your cars are doing. So we came into this race with no idea. We made a lot of changes last night. We basically put in an old setup that worked in the past, and it started off missing the mark pretty bad, but we worked on it and got it better, and we'll take the points. We've had a rough month, so this is a decent finish for us.(Chevy PR)(6-7-2016)
Earnhardt, Jr. comments on his contract:
Q: As you get older in your career, you see guys like Tony Stewart, Jeff Gordon, your contemporaries calling it quits. Do you see yourself racing past your current contract with Hendrick Motorsports once it expires after 2017?
Earnhardt: Well, I think that I have some interest to do that. It's something that we haven't started to sit down and talk about. We will see what Rick wants to do with his direction, what his future is for the team. We will see if that lines up with what I want to do. I don't think I will race as long as my dad did, but I have been having a lot of fun over the past couple of years. I would hate to walk away from such a good opportunity prematurely, but when it comes down to it, Rick is the boss and what his future and direction of the team is important to me. I'm sure we will get talking about what we want to do past this contract in the next six months.
Q: I know before you've mentioned that you would like to race XFINITY and Trucks once you walk away from Cup. Do you still want to do that?
Earnhardt: I want to run in the XFINITY Series for JR Motorsports as long as it helps the company. I think it would be racing a late model race here and there with the late model program. That's reasonably affordable and would probably enjoy doing that on and off into my 50s and 60s if that's what you wish. I think if I had an itch to scratch, that would be a good way to do it. (Frontstretch)(6-4-2016)
Drivers ranked on ESPN World Fame 100: It started off with a simple question: Who's the most famous athlete in the world? Ben Alamar, ESPN's director of sports analytics, devised a formula that combines salary and endorsements with social media following and Google search popularity to create the ESPN World Fame 100 rankings. The names might be familiar, but where the planet's biggest stars land on the list could surprise you. The #1 athlete is soccer player Cristiano Ronaldo. Motorsports drivers on the list include:
57. Dale Earnhardt Jr. (NASCAR)
58. Jimmie Johnson (NASCAR)
59. Lewis Hamilton (Formula 1)
63. Danica Patrick (NASCAR)
75. Fernando Alonso (Formula 1)
77. Tony Stewart (NASCAR)
94. Kyle Busch (NASCAR)
97. Kimi Raikkonen (Formula 1)
Dale Earnhardt Jr. takes a side in family feud: #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr. is not happy with his stepmother - again. Earnhardt told Scott Fowler as part of an exclusive Charlotte Observer interview Thursday that he was siding with his half-brother over his stepmother in a legal dispute. The issue: Whether Kerry Earnhardt can use his last name to market homes that he and his wife Rene helped design as part of a series of houses to be built by Schumacher homes. "Obviously, I'm in support of my brother," Dale Earnhardt Jr. said. Kerry Earnhardt plans to call the homes "The Earnhardt Collection." Teresa Earnhardt - Kerry and Dale's stepmother and the widow of Dale Earnhardt Sr. - doesn't want that name used because she believes it could be confused as an endorsement or sponsorship by the estate of her late husband. A legal fight has dragged on for several years about this. Teresa Earnhardt's lawyers recently filed an appeal in federal court after a U.S. Patent and Trademark Office ruling denied Teresa Earnhardt's challenge to the "Earnhardt Collection" trademark applied for by Kerry Earnhardt. Dale Earnhardt Jr. said that Kerry deserves to be able to use his own last name on the line of homes. "This is a business venture that he's put a lot of effort and heart and soul in that I think he deserves," Dale Jr. said of Kerry. "So in this particular case, I side with my brother and his belief to be able to use the name as is - without any alterations or changes."(See full article / interview at the Charlotte Observer)(5-28-2016)
Hendrick Family Foundation to launch with event: Rick and Linda Hendrick have established the not-for-profit Hendrick Family Foundation, which is rooted in the belief that people working together can transform the lives of those in need and have a meaningful impact on our communities. The sold out "Learn Live Hope" celebration will represent the new foundation's first formal fundraising initiative. Scheduled for May 22 at The Fillmore in Charlotte, North Carolina, the annual charity event will benefit Be The Match, Levine Children's Hospital and Together We Feed Charlotte. In 2015, Learn Live Hope generated more than $1.6 million to support multiple organizations. The Hendrick Family Foundation will consolidate the philanthropic efforts of the Hendrick organization, including Hendrick Motorsports and Hendrick Automotive Group. It will absorb the Hendrick Marrow Program, which Rick Hendrick founded in 1997 and has raised more than $15 million in partnership with Be The Match to support patients in need of life-saving marrow or cord blood transplants. The Hendrick Family Foundation will continue to work with Be The Match.(Hendrick Motorsports)(5-21-2016)
UPDATE: Last weekend's sold out "Learn Live Hope" event was the first formal fundraising initiative for Rick and Linda Hendrick's not-for-profit Hendrick Family Foundation. The annual event was held May 22 at The Fillmore, with Bank of America returning once again as the title sponsor. Among the guests were drivers Kasey Kahne, Chase Elliott and Jimmie Johnson, broadcasters Jeff Gordon and Darrell Waltrip, and former New York Yankees slugger Reggie Jackson. The beneficiaries were Be The Match, Levine Children's Hospital and Together We Feed Charlotte. And "Learn Live Hope" raised $1.3 million in 2016 - one year after generating more than $1.6 million to support multiple organizations in 2015 when a golf tournament was featured as a portion of the event. The golf tournament was not held in 2016 as the course was under construction. At this year's function, Bank of America Chief Administrative Officer Andrea Smith presented Hendrick with a $100,000 donation. Bank of America has supported "Learn Live Hope" for more than a decade as its title sponsor.(HMS)(5-28-2016)
Earnhardt Jr. discusses the new All-Star race format: #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished 3rd in the Sprint All-Star race at Charlotte Motor Speedway, Earnhardt Jr. comments after the race;
Q). NASCAR kind of wanted to change the format to try to increase excitement. Did you feel you increased excitement? There seemed to be a lot of confusion out there about exactly how things would work, and then with only two cars on old tires on that last
Earnhardt Jr.: "Yeah, wasn't -- you know, I think that the intent was really positive, and the ideas were great. But I think the simpler we make it, the easier it is to follow. You just have to worry about rooting for your guy. I was pretty confused right up until it was 13 laps to go, and then I knew, well, we're racing from here to the end, and this is all the normal rules. But everything before that was really out of my -- I was out of my element. But NASCAR did a good job making sure -- even though all the pitting was confusing and how the lap cars were pitting with the leaders, people weren't really where they were supposed to be, NASCAR did make sure all the lineups were correct before we went back to green. So you can't really complain about that too much. It was just an unorthodox way of doing it. I don't know. I think they ran into some scenarios tonight that they didn't really anticipate and got caught off guard. I think the 20 obviously not pitting, however that worked out, that threw them for a loop and everybody was confused from that minute on."
Q. What made you think if the All-Star Race became a race of innovation and you guys just raced whatever you brought to the track?
Earnhardt Jr.: "Well, I don't know. We probably wouldn't pass too much because we'd all be wide open. We would all be full throttle. I just think they ought to go back to the original formats that they started with that are simple and make the cars race better, you know? Gimmicks and all that stuff, trying to trick up the race is going down the wrong path. The way to make the racing exciting is to make the cars exciting.
Q). Along those lines, the changes that were implemented, could you tell from the driver's seat, did they have much effect in this race on the racing in general?
Earnhardt Jr.: "There was a lot of -- yeah, I mean, we gained some track position somehow. You know, all the mandatory stops during the segments, then the mandatory stops in between the segments. Somehow or another Greg did some magic and got us into the top 5. Guys were struggling, and I don't know. You know, it came down to the 22, the 42. That was pretty exciting, and I don't think that had anything to do with any format, so that was just two guys going at it, and that's what you really want."(Team Chevy / ASAP Sports)
Q) WE HEARD YOU ON THE RADIO EARLIER REMINDING YOU OF THE FIRST TIME YOU FLEW A REMOTE CONTROL HELICOPTER. WAS THAT THE KIND OF CRAZY DAY THIS WAS?
Earnhardt Jr.: "Yeah, I didn't know what way up and what way was right and left. Lap-down cars were pitting with lead-lap cars and wave-by cars were up front and in the middle. NASCAR did a good job of sorting the lineups out. Everybody was where they were supposed to be when we went back to green so you can't complain. They were doing it unlike any other way they were doing it before. I'm sure they ran into some scenarios they weren't really anticipating. That really was probably part of it; guys getting caught a lap down, the 20 not pitting within the first 50 laps. They weren't anticipating all that. As far as our Mountain Dew and Nationwide Chevy, we got it better. A lot of the setup is new and some stuff we're trying to find some speed with. We still have some gains to make. We didn't win the race but we outran a lot of guys who had been outrunning us the last few weeks. We didn't get to practice so we worked really hard during the race changing a lot of stuff, and I hope Greg (Ives) learned a lot. Next weekend we'll actually get to practice some and make some changes to see if we can't get our car better for the 600. I'd love to win that race before I retire."(Team Chevy / ASAP Sports)(5-22-2016)
Hendrick Family Foundation to launch with event: Rick and Linda Hendrick have established the not-for-profit Hendrick Family Foundation, which is rooted in the belief that people working together can transform the lives of those in need and have a meaningful impact on our communities. The sold out "Learn Live Hope" celebration will represent the new foundation's first formal fundraising initiative. Scheduled for May 22 at The Fillmore in Charlotte, North Carolina, the annual charity event will benefit Be The Match, Levine Children's Hospital and Together We Feed Charlotte. In 2015, Learn Live Hope generated more than $1.6 million to support multiple organizations. The Hendrick Family Foundation will consolidate the philanthropic efforts of the Hendrick organization, including Hendrick Motorsports and Hendrick Automotive Group. It will absorb the Hendrick Marrow Program, which Rick Hendrick founded in 1997 and has raised more than $15 million in partnership with Be The Match to support patients in need of life-saving marrow or cord blood transplants. The Hendrick Family Foundation will continue to work with Be The Match.(Hendrick Motorsports)(5-21-2016)
Kerry, Teresa Earnhardt in battle over last name UPDATE: Teresa Earnhardt, known for being staunchly protective of the Dale Earnhardt brand and marks, is trying to keep a couple from using "Earnhardt" in the name of homes they developed. That couple? Dale Earnhardt's son Kerry Earnhardt and Kerry's wife, Rene. Teresa Earnhardt, Kerry's stepmother and Dale's widow, doesn't want the couple to use the name Earnhardt Collection and filed an appeal last week in federal court over a U.S. Patent and Trademark Office ruling that denied Teresa's challenge to the "Earnhardt Collection" trademark applied for by Kerry Earnhardt Inc.
"Rene and I have worked extremely hard to develop the Earnhardt Collection brand and make it uniquely ours," Kerry Earnhardt said in a statement to ESPN.com "I chose to leave a successful career in racing and could not be happier with what we've been able to achieve in the five years we've been building our home lifestyle brand inspired by our love of the outdoors."
Teresa Earnhardt didn't testify in the [trademark] case but states in her appeal that the name Earnhardt Collection is likely to deceive or cause confusion among people that the homes and products are endorsed by Dale Earnhardt or by her. Kelley Earnhardt-Miller, daughter of Dale and second wife Brenda Jackson, testified that no one has confused the Earnhardt Collection of being associated with her brother, Dale Earnhardt Jr.(ESPN.com)(5-7-2016)
UPDATE: Teresa Earnhardt has battled for four years to try to get her stepson Kerry Earnhardt to change the name for a collection of homes Kerry and his wife design and promote through the "Earnhardt Collection" brand. Why? Her attorneys issued a statement approved by Dale Earnhardt Inc., which has been solely owned by Teresa since the seven-time Sprint Cup champion's death on the final lap of the 2001 Daytona 500. "The naming of any project called 'Earnhardt Collection' causes confusion as being associated with Dale Earnhardt, as the Dale Earnhardt brands and marks are so diverse across multiple industries and philanthropic causes. ... [And it] could be used to exclude Dale Earnhardt Inc., the designated steward of Dale's legacy, from the same use," law firm Alston & Bird said in its statement. It went on to say it has not requested any payment from Kerry Earnhardt. "By not coordinating these [trademark] activities rightfully, these individuals and entities fail to recognize the true legacy of Dale Earnhardt," the statement said about anyone who attempts to use the Dale Earnhardt and Earnhardt marks. Could there be a settlement? Well, take this for what it's worth: A Kerry Earnhardt filing Thursday stated that Kerry and his wife are open to mediation. Teresa? Her filing states: "The parties have to date been unable to settle their dispute. Further mediation would not be fruitful."(ESPN.com)(5-14-2016)
Special Mountain Dew scheme for Earnhardt, Jr. in All-Star Race: When the lights go on at Charlotte Motor Speedway for this year's NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race, Dale Earnhardt's Jr.'s Chevy will have a brand new look. The #88 Mountain Dew Chevrolet SS will sport a patriotic paint scheme for the event with a $1 million payday. As a race-winner in 2015, Earnhardt is already qualified for the All-Star Race, which will undergo a format change this year. Teammates Kasey Kahne and Jimmie Johnson are also eligible to participate, while Rookie of the Year contender Chase Elliott is vying for a shot to race via fan vote.(Hendrick Motorsports), see an image of the car on the #88 team paint schemes page.(5-10-2016)
Earnhardt Jr. won't race "Amelia" again: Earnhardt's favorite car, which he drove to wins at both Talladega and Daytona in 2015, will rest on his property in the woods with a collection of torn-up race cars he has collected from his team and others over the years. Earnhardt said Tuesday that the car, which he also drove to finishes of second and third in the other two points events, was damaged beyond repair in two accidents on Sunday at Talladega. "Amelia's done," Earnhardt said of the car, which he named after Amelia Earhart. As far as the wrecks Sunday, Earnhardt said the threat of rain throughout the race forced drivers to race with greater intensity and that that likely added to the number of crashes. He said drivers are not in an uproar over two cars getting upside-down. "One thing I think is true is none of us know what we would do to change it, and I don't think anybody in the sport does," Earnhardt said. "We've altered the package over the years a hundred different teams and never really seen a big, big difference in the type of racing we see there."(ESPN.com)(5-4-2016)
Special look for Earnhardt, Jr at Kentucky: Earlier Tuesday morning, Kasey Kahne revealed a brand new paint scheme for the #5 Chevrolet SS. Tuesday afternoon, #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr. got in on the action. The driver of the #88 Chevrolet SS unveiled a new scheme of his own -- this one for the race at Kentucky Speedway. The #88 will feature Nationwide Childrens Hospital.(Hendrick Motorsports), see an image of the car on the #88 team paint schemes page.(5-4-2016)
NASCAR will examine Talladega accidents; Dale Jr's steering wheel: NASCAR is looking into what led cars to get airborne Sunday at Talladega Superspeedway and will investigate what caused Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s steering wheel to detach after his second wreck, a NASCAR executive told "The Morning Drive" on Monday. "Some really intense racing all throughout the day, and some things we didn't like with cars getting up in the air and we're already fast at work at the R&D Center, looking at all the video we have," Steve O'Donnell, NASCAR executive vice president and chief racing development officer told SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. "We'll reach out to the teams to see what we can do to immediately take some action to work towards correcting that." Chris Buescher's car tumbled down the backstretch after being hit by another car, and Matt Kenseth's car was sent airborne after contact turned his car sideways and the air picked his vehicle up. Neither driver was injured in the separate incidents. "You never want to see that," O'Donnell told SiriusXM NASCAR Radio about those incidents. "So you immediately work on is everybody safe, did the safety equipment do it's job and what we can learn from that. The immediate steps are to review all the media shots that we have of those incidents, work with the race teams and then look at what may or may not be different from when we've been not only at Talladega but any other race track.
"That will be all of our process in sitting down and reviewing that," O'Donnell told SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. That also will include looking at what happened to Earnhardt's steering wheel. Earnhardt's teammate, Jimmie Johnson, had a steering wheel come off at Phoenix, leading to his crash in qualifying there. O'Donnell was asked if Earnhardt's issue was isolated or something more.
"Even if it is an isolated incident, we'll look at it," O'Donnell said. "It could be something that could cause issues down the road if it was a trend. We'll talk to (Earnhardt) and his team and make sure hopefully that was just what you said initially an isolated incident and go from there, but if there is anything we can take from that, we will certainly communicate that to all the teams. It's not something you want to see, especially potentially at speed."(NBC Sports)(5-2-2016)
Earnhardt, Jr. loses steering wheel during second accident: Dale Earnhardt, Jr's day at Talladega ended for good after an accident with Carl Edwards on Lap 110. He finished the race in 40th. During the accident, the steering wheel came off.
"Yeah, the steering wheel came off and I was trying to get it back on and the car was headed toward the wall. Well I wasn't going to let it hit the wall so I grabbed the column and steered it with that. Tore my hands all up, but didn't hit the wall. We have to look at something to keep that from happening anymore. We were just out there riding around and something broke on the #19 and he came over and got into us. We just had no luck this weekend."(Chevy Racing PR)(5-2-2016)
Hendrick named Charlotte Chamber 2016 Citizen of the Carolinas: The Charlotte Chamber has named local car dealer and NASCAR team owner Rick Hendrick its 2016 Citizen of the Carolinas. The chamber said that Hendrick was chosen for the honor for his contributions to Charlotte's business community, his influence within NASCAR and his work with local organizations, including Levine Children's Hospital and Together We Feed Charlotte. "Rick embodies the collaborative spirit that sets Charlotte apart from any other major city in the United States," chamber CEO and President Bob Morgan said in a statement. Last year, the chamber gave the award to former White House chief of staff Erskine Bowles. Other past honorees include former Federal Reserve Chair Ben Bernanke, Carolina Panthers owner Jerry Richardson and Charlotte Hornets owner Michael Jordan. Hendrick, at age 26, became a Chevrolet dealer in 1976 with his first franchise in Bennettsville, S.C. By 1978, he moved to Charlotte and purchased City Chevrolet, which now serves as the flagship location for Hendrick Automotive Group. The privately-held dealership group employs more than 10,000 people and operates more than 130 retail franchises across 14 states. In a statement, Hendrick said he was humbled to receive the award. "We've been fortunate to call Charlotte home for nearly 40 years," he said. "It's been such a wonderful place for our family, and now our grandchildren are growing up here. I cannot imagine a more giving community or a better city to live and do business." The chamber will present Hendrick with its most prestigious honor at the organization's annual meeting in December.(Charlotte Business Journal)(4-30-2016)
"Amelia" returning for Earnhardt, Jr at Talladega: It's official: one of Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s favorite cars will make its return this weekend. "Amelia" is back. In 2015, Amelia earned three wins -- a Duel at Daytona International Speedway, the May race at Talladega Superspeedway and the July race at Daytona - in addition to a third-place finish in the Daytona 500 and a second-place result in the second Talladega race. Earnhardt's average finish of 1.75 while driving Amelia in the four superspeedway points races last season led all competitors. So it was no surprise that the chassis would make its return this season for the Daytona 500 this season. It looked like another successful run was in the works, but as Earnhardt looked to jump back into the top five with 30 laps remaining, the #88 Chevy SS was caught up in an incident that sent him to a 36th-place finish. Last month, Earnhardt hinted that it was posible Amelia could make a comeback for Talladega Superspeedway, but it was up to #88 crew chief Greg Ives and the team whether the car would be the backup or the primary. Ives answered that question Monday morning.(Hendrick Motorsports)(4-26-2016)
Special Mountain Dew schemes at RIR for 3 Hendrick cars: This summer, Mountain Dew is bringing back two all-time fan favorite flavors -- Pitch Black and Baja Blast. It's up to America to decide which flavor will take the honors. There are three ways to vote online -- cast your vote at MountainDew.com/DEWcision, complete one of DEW's video and photo challenges or simply tweet #VotePitchBlack or #VoteBajaBlast (HMS) The cars of #5-Kasey Kahne, #24-Chase Elliott and #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr. will all run special Mountain Dew paint schemes at Richmond International Raceway in the Toyota Owners 400 Sprint Cup Series race this coming weekend. See images of the cars on the #5 Team Schemes page, #24 Team Schemes page and #88 Team Schemes page.(4-18-2016)
Earnhardt Jr. finishes runner-up for 2nd straight race: Dale Earnhardt, Jr.'s second straight NASCAR Sprint Cup Series runner-up effort in the #88 Nationwide Chevrolet SS was impressive, but didn't come easy at Bristol Motor Speedway. Earnhardt suffered an issue with the ECU unit right after the start of the race and lost two laps to the leaders. But by lap 146, he had moved back to the lead lap in 27th position. "Junior" methodically made his way back to the front and had a shot at the win in the waning laps before finishing second. This was the fifth top 10 finish in eight races so far for Earnhardt and the #88 team. Some Q&A's:
THE MODERATOR: "We are also joined by our second-place finisher, Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the No. 88 Nationwide Chevrolet for Hendrick Motorsports. This is second runner-up finish. Could you talk a little bit about that great come back?"
DALE EARNHARDT JR: "Yeah, we got the Roush system on our cars for the stuck-throttle issue, and just warming the brakes up, I engaged that system to kill the throttle. I was warming the brakes up like I always do, and apparently I applied too much pressure and it killed the motor. We'll work on that and maybe raise that threshold a little bit because I wasn't really using the brake that much. So I just needed to cycle the ECU, reset that, came to pit road and did that. I probably could've done it on the track and saved ourselves a lot of trouble, but you don't know what's going on at that particular point, and you listen to the first thing anybody tells you when it comes to direction, and the first thing that my spotter said was that if I need to pit, I need to come on now. We got on pit road, cycled it, lost a couple laps. Greg did a good job getting the wave-arounds and knowing when to take them and stuff, and we got back on the lead lap. We had about a 10th-place car. We weren't really that good all day. We tried a setup that we've never really ran here before, just trying to learn a little something going forward, and we'll go home and science it out a little bit. We got real lucky the last three restarts to be on the outside line. We restarted 10th, 6th and 4th, and when you restart 4th you're typically going to come out in second place after that. I was hoping we didn't have any more cautions after that. So it was good. We'll take it.
Q. So it's a system where if you brake really hard, it kills the engine?
EARNHARDT JR.: "Yes. If your throttle is stuck and you mash the brake to a certain, you're going to mash the (expletive) out of that brake when the throttle sticks, it'll shut the motor off. That's a system, that's one of the two systems that you have to choose from in this sport. The other is a button on the steering wheel. I don't like the button on the steering wheel, because when the throttle sticks, I ain't going to think mash a button. I'll be in the fence before it's over with. So the brake thing works too good."
Q. How did you keep yourself from just panicking when you had the problem and you tried several times to get a lap back and it took several times?
DALE EARNHARDT JR.: "Yeah, I turned 40. Quit panicking. It is what it is these days. You know, as I got older, I tried harder to enjoy what I'm doing, and not get really upset and too out of shape when things aren't going our way, plus I know Greg and them guys are on the pit box trying everything they can, and for me to -- they're the only ones I'm going to be able to yell at, so for me to -- it doesn't do any good to be hollering at them or upset or just lose your mind, and the over-the-wall guys especially, we don't really spend a ton of time with the over-the-wall guys, and they're real sensitive. They're big ol' guys and athletes, but they've got big hearts, too, so you can't be screaming and coming unglued because they don't want to work for people like that."(Team Chevy)(4-18-2016)
Autistic child's name featured on #88 car: Through The Dale Jr. Foundation's Driven to Give Gloves program, 8-year-old Aiden VanWagner will have his name featured above the passenger door of Dale Earnhardt's #88 Nationwide Chevy this weekend. Aiden was diagnosed with autism at an early age but under the care of Nationwide Children's Hospital's (NCH) Center for Autism Spectrum Disorders, Aiden has received individualized and comprehensive interventions and is enjoying school in a mainstream classroom. The Driven to Give Gloves program has been revamped for 2016 and focuses on four NCH Patient Champions. This month, Earnhardt is wearing gloves accented in blue, representing autism. Earnhardt's race-worn gloves will be auctioned off to raise funds for NCH's clinical and research programs. NCH is America's largest pediatric hospital and research center with all care provided regardless of a family's ability to pay. All four 2016 NCH Patient Champions will be attending the Kentucky Speedway race as special guests of Earnhardt and the #88 team.(HMS)(4-17-2016)
CARSTAR North America partners with Axalta, to be featured on #88 at Kansas: CARSTAR North America, the continent's largest network of collision repair shops and a member of the Charlotte-headquartered Driven Brands family, will make its debut in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Kansas Speedway this May. This opportunity is thanks to a joint promotion with CARSTAR's new paint partner Axalta Coating Systems. The #88 Axalta/CARSTAR Chevy, driven Dale Earnhardt Jr., will race on Saturday, May 7, in Kansas City, KS. The CARSTAR logo will be featured prominently on the car. "I've enjoyed working with Axalta this season," said Earnhardt. "It's great to see how they've rallied behind the 88 team and how they are bringing new partners like CARSTAR into the sport. I'm looking forward to having CARSTAR on our Axalta Chevy at Kansas. I expect to run very well there, so we'll do our best to give the CARSTAR folks plenty to cheer for." As part of the race weekend, Axalta and CARSTAR will host top CARSTAR franchisees from across North America, along with prospective franchisees and corporate team members.(VMG PR), see images of the scheme on the #88 Team Schemes page (4-15-2016)
Dale Jr. says he'll be nervous to meet Peyton Manning: #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr. has met Peyton Manning before, but that doesn't mean he won't get nervous when he meets the recently retired Super Bowl champion quarterback Sunday. Manning is scheduled to join Earnhardt during driver introductions before the Sprint Cup Series race at Bristol Motor Speedway. Just like fans often get when they meet NASCAR's most popular driver, Earnhardt expects to get a little tongue-tied when around Manning as they ride around in the pickup truck waving to fans following driver introductions. "We'll see how that goes," Earnhardt said Wednesday. "That will be pretty interesting to have him there in that process and ride around in the back of the truck. I'm sure I'll lock up and get stage fright and get all nervous around him -- that's normally what I do around celebrities." Manning will be an honorary race official for the Food City 500 as the track tries to cross-promote the race as well as the Sept. 10 football game between Tennessee and Virginia Tech. Earnhardt and Manning both are spokesmen for Nationwide.(ESPN)(4-14-2016)
Three drivers appear on "Dude Perfect" tonight: Texas Motor Speedway will serve as the backdrop for the NASCAR-themed episode of Thursday evening's The Dude Perfect Show on CMT. The Dude Perfect crew of Tyler Toney, Garrett Hilbert, Cody Jones and twin brothers Coby and Cory Cotton filmed at Texas Motor Speedway during last November's AAA Texas 500 NASCAR tripleheader weekend that included guest appearances by drivers as well as Dude Perfect in an honorary race role. The episode, which airs at 9:30pm/et, is the second in the show's debut season for the five Texas A&M University friends that became YouTube sensations over seven years ago with incredible basketball trick shots. This episode revolves around Dude Perfect being named by Texas Motor Speedway to drive the honorary pace car for the O'Reilly Auto Parts Challenge XFINITY Series race on Saturday, Nov. 7, 2015. With only one seat up for grabs, Toney and Hilbert have some fierce competition to determine who will drive the Chevrolet Camaro official pace car that will lead the XFINITY Series field to the green flag. Hilbert ultimately prevails, but the Camaro has a stick shift and he needs to enlist the likes of NASCAR drivers Chase Elliott and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. to get him situated for his honorary role.(TMS)(4-14-2016)
Dale Jr. unveils special Buddy Baker scheme at Darlington UPDATE: Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Nationwide unveiled a #88 special paint scheme for the Bojangles' Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway on Wednesday, April 13th. Earnhardt will drive a paint scheme version of Buddy Baker's #28 Gray Ghost car that Baker drove in 1980, winning the Daytona 500. Earnhardt ran a similar scheme to pay tribute to the National Guard and Baker's "Gray Ghost" car in the 2008 All Star race. See images of the 2016 scheme on the #88 Team Schemes page (4-13-2016)
UPDATE: In partnership with Darlington Raceway, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Nationwide revealed the #88 Nationwide Insurance Gray Ghost Chevy that Earnhardt will drive in the Southern 500 during Labor Day weekend in September. The 2016 throwback car design honors Buddy Baker's #28 Gray Ghost paint scheme, which was made famous by Baker when he won the 1980 Daytona 500. "The track is the perfect place to unveil our throwback weekend paint scheme. This place has so much history and has served our sport so well," said Dale Earnhardt Jr. "I appreciate Nationwide's enthusiasm to be involved and their appreciation for the history of the sport as well. It certainly shines through with this paint scheme. It's my favorite paint scheme."
While Earnhardt uses this opportunity to honor NASCAR's storied heritage, this paint scheme is also a way for Nationwide to pay homage to its own past. This year, Nationwide celebrates its 90th anniversary on April 14. Earnhardt's throwback paint scheme for the Southern 500 features colors and logos used by Nationwide during the same time that Baker's original Gray Ghost was on the track, keeping in line with this year's Darlington throwback theme. The orange Nationwide Insurance logo with the "Nationwide is on your side" tagline was used in the late 1970s and early 1980s, and also matches up with the original orange logo from the Gray Ghost that ran during the same time period.
"Nationwide is excited to take part in this year's throwback paint scheme program," said Jim McCoy, Director of Sports Marketing for Nationwide. "We hope it reminds people that Nationwide has a long history of being there for our members when they need us most. We take great pride in being able to protect their needs just as we protect the needs of Dale and the Earnhardt family. We look forward to seeing the Gray Ghost on the track, and hopefully in Victory Lane, on September 4." This year's Southern 500 will focus on the 1975-84 era of NASCAR, a revolutionary time period when iconic drivers such as Baker, Bobby Allison, Cale Yarborough, Dale Earnhardt Sr. and Darrell Waltrip left their imprints on stock car racing. "We're so appreciative of Dale, Nationwide and Hendrick Motorsports for their support of our throwback race weekend," Darlington Raceway President Chip Wile said. "Dale's Gray Ghost paint scheme is a wonderful reminder of our sport's storied history. To honor a NASCAR legend like Buddy Baker in this way is what our Tradition Continues throwback weekend is all about."(PR)(4-13-2015)
Hendrick Motorsports and Hexagon Manufacturing Intelligence partner up: Hexagon Manufacturing Intelligence and Hendrick Motorsports announced a landmark technology partnership. The two-year agreement effectively merges metrology expertise and technology with the brightest engineering minds in auto racing. The relationship will expand Hendrick Motorsports' in-house capabilities with additional measurement systems, training and expert technical support. The team is a longtime user of ROMER Absolute Arms and GridLOK volume-expansion systems, as well as Hexagon coordinate measuring machines. These solutions are used to inspect and assemble auto bodies, chassis and engine components for pre-race fine tuning and post-race evaluation. Hexagon Manufacturing Intelligence will partner in collaborative technology development and problem solving with Hendrick Motorsports' engineering team. As Hexagon Manufacturing Intelligence develops new concepts in metrology, Hendrick Motorsports will have the opportunity to preview those advancements before the technology reaches the marketplace. The team will also have the option to participate in beta testing and provide user feedback during the course of development projects. With multi-disciplinary expertise, Hexagon Manufacturing Intelligence will benefit from those early stage metrics and gain valuable insight into the intricate performance and manufacturing challenges found in NASCAR.(HMS)(4-13-2016)
Earnhardt Jr. to donate brain for concussion research UPDATE: Following in the footsteps of many NFL players and extreme sports athletes, Dale Earnhardt Jr. said Saturday [via Twitter]
he plans to donate his brain for concussion research. It's a major announcement, because Earnhardt is NASCAR's most popular driver - and has been the past 13 years. Earnhardt, 41, like many veteran NASCAR drivers, is no stranger to hard crashes and head injuries similar to what football players endured before being diagnosed with Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) post-mortem.(Sporting News), Earnhardt missed two races in October 2012, at Charlotte and Kansas after being diagnosed with a concussion following the Oct. 7, 2012 race at Talladega.(3-27-2016)
UPDATE: #88-Dale Earnhardt, Jr. discussed his decision more in-depth Friday at Martinsville:
AS FAR AS THE TWEET ABOUT DONATING YOUR BRAIN TO SCIENCE, IS THAT SOMETHING YOU KNEW YOU WERE GOING TO DO? OR IS THAT SOMETHING NEW? WHAT WOULD YOU HOPE PEOPLE WOULD LEARN FROM YOUR BRAIN?
Earnhardt, Jr. "Hopefully, they don't have to look at my brain whenever I pass away they have learned enough science to study the brains of living adults. Hopefully, the science has advanced enough to where they no longer need to be poking around inside my brain. I was inspired really by Brandi Chastain (professional soccer player) and the Raiders guys that donated their brains in honor of their teammate. I went through my experience in 2012 and met some amazing doctors at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center; Mickey Collins was one of those guys. They gave me the confidence going through that process that I could be successful and get through it. I have. I have been healthy and successful and I learned a ton. I may be even a better race car driver today and I'm definitely getting the results on the track that I've always wanted. I will be donating or pledging my brain is what they like to say to the Concussion Legacy Foundation. They are in partnership with Boston University where the brain bank is. I was a donor already for many years, as my driver's license would attest. It seemed like a reasonable thing to do for me. Anything that I can do to help others, but hopefully the science has advanced far beyond where it is today and they don't need it. It was something that I didn't have to ask myself whether I wanted to do it or not. Going through that process in 2012 I learned so much and have so much respect for the work that those doctors are doing and really were inspired by some of the athletes that have pledged their brains before me."
WAS YOUR TWEET THE OTHER NIGHT A SPUR OF THE MOMENT THING?
Earnhardt, Jr. "I saw a story, we obviously had the week off, and I was just sitting around reading Twitter and saw that story about the Raiders donating their brains. I just thought that was amazing that those guys did that in honor of their teammate. I read where Brandi (Chastain) had done that maybe a month ago. That just was really inspiring and I saw someone mention, I don't even know what the context of the Tweet I was responding to was. I probably should have, Mike Davis (JR Motorsports Public Relations) would prefer me to have done that in a more put together fashion where we could have put together a release or whatever. I just was in the moment of conversation and that is sometimes the comfort that you find yourself in on Twitter sometimes and I didn't expect it to turn into the story it did, but by all means if it raises more awareness and inspires people to donate their brains and pledge their brains. They don't need just athletes. They need everybody. I'm going to give up all the organs that are worth anything when it's over with. They can have it all."
"I got in touch with the Concussion Legacy Foundation and they help me understand exactly what the process is and it's very straight forward. You get a card, basically like you would carry around a driver's license where it says you are a donor on the license. There will be a card in your pocket that you carry like your driver's license. Your family can refuse. Nothing is binding so it's really just a promise in a way."(Chevy Racing PR)(4-2-2016)
NASCAR's Richest Teams and Drivers: Forbes has released its annual ranking of Sprint Cup teams and drivers based on earnings. Once again, Hendrick tops the charts. The top 10 teams and drivers and their estimated value:
Highest earning NASCAR teams:
Hendrick Motorsports $375 million
Joe Gibbs Racing $256 million
Stewart-Haas Racing $195 million
Richard Childress Racing $175 million
Roush Feneway Racing $155 million
Team Penske $140 million
Chip Ganassi Racing $75 million
Richard Petty Motorsports $55 million
Front Row Motorsports $26 million
BK Racing $24 million
Highest earning NASCAR drivers:
#88-Dale Earnhardt, Jr. $23.5 million
#48-Jimmie Johnson $22.2 million
Jeff Gordon $21.6 million
#4-Kevin Harvick $15.5 million
#11-Denny Hamlin $15.1 million
#18-Kyle Busch $15.0 million
#10-Dania Patrick $13.4 million
#14-Tony Stewart $12.8 million
#19-Carl Edwards $12.1 million
#20-Matt Kenseth $11.9 million
Total earnings equals salary/winnings plus endorsements and licensing
In addition, Forbes estimates the actual cash value of a NASCAR charter to be $15-$17 million.(Forbes)(4-1-2016)
Special Axalta scheme for Earnhardt, Jr. at Michigan: Four-time Sprint Cup Series champion and FOX NASCAR analyst Jeff Gordon visited the University of Michigan on Wednesday to announce a new research partnership between the school, Axalta Coating Systems and Hendrick Motorsports. The partnership is a five-year agreement will allow students of the Walter E. Wilson Student Team Project Center to explore the professional racing world, as well as conduct research involving the coating industry. The research will be financially supported by Axalta, which will give students the chance to learn more in-depth about various elements of coating technology. The partnership will be officially launched when NASCAR visits Michigan International Speedway in August. Dale Earnhardt Jr. will also drive a special Michigan Wolverines-themed paint scheme sponsored by Axalta for that race weekend.(FoxSports)(4-1-2016)
Earnhardt, Jr. adds to his car graveyard: On Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s return from the #NASCARGoesWest tour, he lit up Twitter with a marathon Q&A session with fans. When asked about his race car graveyard at Dirty Mo' Acres - Earnhardt's compound north of Mooresville, N.C. The driver revealed the recent acquisition of two new wrecks:
"I just got the @PhoenixRaceway @JimmieJohnson qualifying car. @KyleBusch sent me the 4 truck from @DISupdates"
The last time we saw the remains of the #4 Kyle Busch Motorsports Tundra, it was on a tow truck. Fortunately, Christopher Bell climbed out of his vehicle after flipping nine times down the front stretch entering Turn 1 on the final lap of the Camping World Truck Series season opener on Feb. 19. Earnhardt's latest contribution came from his own teammate - Jimmie Johnson. The freshly wrecked #48 Chevy did not make it through Friday at Phoenix International Raceway following the six-time champion's mishap in time trials.(Motorsport)(3-27-2016)
Sports Business Journal Awards have several NASCAR nominations: NASCAR has been nominated in multiple categories in the Sports Business Journal's ninth annual Sports Business Awards. The sanctioning body has been nominated for "Sports League of the Year" with the American Athletic Conference, MLB, MLS, NBA and PGA Tour.
NASCAR CEO and Chairman Brian France has been nominated for "Sports Executive of the Year." The other nominees are Stan Kroenke from Kroenke Sports and Entertainment; Joe Lacob, owner of the Golden State Warriors; Rob Manfred, commissioner of Major League Baseball and Mark Parker, CEO of Nike.
Dale Earnhardt Jr., the 13-time most popular driver, is a nominee for "Best in Sports Social Media." Last May, Earnhardt became the second NASCAR driver after Danica Patrick to reach 1 million followers on Twitter. They have both since been passed by Jimmie Johnson.
Daytona International Speedway is nominated for "Sport Facility of the Year" along with Avaya Stadium, Bill Snyder Family Stadium, Kyle Field and Petco Park. Daytona unveiled its completed $400 million "Daytona Rising" renovations in February in time for the 58th running of the Daytona 500.
Both Toyota and Xfinity from Comcast were nominated for the "Sports Sponsor of the Year." The awards will be presented May 18 in New York City.(NBC Sports)
AND: Darlington Raceway's successful 2015 Bojangles' Southern 500 Tradition Returns throwback event is among the final nominees for "Sports Event of the Year." The throwback campaign was a collaborative industry-wide effort to celebrate the history and heritage of the sport and featured a celebration of the early 1970's (1970-74). The nominees were announced by SportsBusiness Journal and SportsBusiness Daily, one of the most respected business publications in sports. Winners will be announced LIVE at the Sports Business Awards on May 18 in New York City. Other nominees for "Sports Event of the Year" are the 2015 Belmont Stakes, 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup Final, Mayweather vs. Pacquiao, and Super Bowl 50. Launched in 2008, the Awards were established by SportsBusiness Journal and SportsBusiness Daily to celebrate and recognize the leaders, visionaries and day-to-day practitioners who personify excellence in the business of sports.(Darlington Raceway)(3-15-2016)
Earnhardt, Jr. featured on 'Treehouse Masters' Friday night: This Friday, #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s very own getaway-in-the-sky will be featured on "Treehouse Masters," the very show from which he gleaned the inspiration for his project. Earnhardt revealed his plans for the project following the end of the 2014 season and the construction was completed in time for the beautiful summer months. To catch Earnhardt's episode of "Treehouse Masters" and get an inside look at his handiwork, tune in to Animal Planet Friday, March 11 at 10:00pm/et.(Hendrick Motorsports)(3-11-2016)
Axalta debuts on the #88: Axalta Coating Systems will make its debut as primary sponsor of Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and the Hendrick Motorsports #88 team this weekend at Phoenix, marking the first time the new red, orange and yellow "Solar Flare" paint scheme will be featured on the #88 Axalta Chevrolet SS. Axalta Coating Systems, a leading global manufacturer of liquid and powder coatings, is continuing its longstanding, 24-year partnership with Hendrick Motorsports after a contract extension that expanded its presence and takes one of the longest sponsorships in NASCAR through 2018.(Hendrick Motorsports), see an image of the car on the #88 team paint schemems page.(3-9-2016)
Hendrick plane makes emergency landing in Memphis UPDATE: A plane headed from Las Vegas to Charlotte, North Carolina made an emergency landing in Memphis. The plane belonged to Hendrick Motorsports and was carrying team members home from the NASCAR race in Las Vegas. A Hendrick Motorsports representative said the plane landed safely in Memphis after someone noticed smoke in the cabin. No one was injured or breathed in too much smoke. The plane is being evaluated for issues. The passengers will return to Charlotte on another flight.(WMC Action News)(3-7-2016)
UPDATE: Just hours after smoke in the cabin forced a Hendrick Motorsports plane to make an emergency landing early Monday morning, a passenger on the aircraft discussed the situation with SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. Earl Barban, the spotter for Hendrick Motorsports driver Jimmie Johnson, was one of multiple passengers on the plane, which was en route back to Charlotte, North Carolina from Sunday's race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. None of Hendrick's drivers were on board the aircraft, and there were no injuries. Speaking with SiriusXM on Monday after returning home to Charlotte, Barban described the events that led to the emergency landing in Memphis after the plane had made a fuel stop in Oklahoma City.
"On our second leg we had like an hour and 50 minutes left and had a little smoke in the cabin there and they decided they should probably land, and we landed in Memphis, and they got us off the airplane and all the procedures and safety stuff was done," Barban told SiriusXM. "After they checked it out and things were good, we got all our stuff off the plane, sat in the FBO for a couple hours until our other plane could get refueled back in Concord (N.C.) and come get us, so it was a little bit of a delay getting home, but everybody was safe."(Fox Sports)(3-9-2016)
Atlanta Post-Event Penalties announced: NASCAR released the Post-Event Penalty & Warning Report from Atlanta on Wednesday, among the penalties announced:
#78 Furniture Row Racing crew chief Cole Pearn has been fined $50,000, suspended from the next NSCS championship event [Las Vegas] and remains on NASCAR probation through Dec. 31; team has been assessed with the loss of 15 championship owner and 15 championship driver [Martin Truex Jr.] points for a roof flap violation at Atlanta.
#78 Team Statement: The following statement is attributed to Joe Garone, president of Furniture Row Racing. "Due to the severity of the P3 penalty levied against Furniture Row Racing and its crew chief Cole Pearn today (Wednesday), the #78 Sprint Cup team has informed NASCAR it will appeal the decision. The infraction, which was immediately corrected following technical inspection at Atlanta Motor Speedway last week, was safety related and not competition related. We sincerely appreciate that NASCAR has an appeal process so we can review the level of the penalty. The one-race suspension to Cole Pearn and monetary fine are temporarily deferred until the conclusion of the appeal hearing (FRR).
#47 JTG Daugherty Racing crew chief Randall Burnett has been fined $15,000 and placed on NASCAR probation through Dec. 31; team has been assessed with the loss of 10 championship owner and 10 championship driver [AJ Allmendinger] points for illegal body attachment mounts/supports.
Crew chiefs from the #3 (Slugger Labbe), #27 (Jason Alexander) & #31 (Luke Lambert) Richard Childress Racing teams and #95 Circle Racing - Leavine Family Racing team (Dave Winston) have been fined $15,000 and placed on NASCAR probation through Dec. 31; teams have been assessed with the loss of 10 championship owner and 10 championship driver (Austin Dillon, Paul Menard, Ryan Newman, Michael McDowell) points for illegal body attachment mounts/supports.
#32 Go Fas Racing team of Jeffrey Earnhardt failed template inspection three times, pre-qualifying and received a written warning/loss of 15 min. practice time.
#83-Matt DiBenedetto, #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr. and #98-Cole Whitt failed template inspection twice, pre-qualifying and received a written warning.(NASCAR)
Pearn has appealed the suspension and will be at Las Vegas this weekend.
see full report on the Atlanta Post-Event Penalties Page (pdf).(3-2-2016)
Bosch renews Hendrick partnership: Bosch Automotive Aftermarket North America has announced a multi-year renewal of its technical partnership with 11-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champions Hendrick Motorsports. Dating back to 2001 with an agreement to supply spark plugs to the racing powerhouse, the scope of the relationship has since expanded to include alternators, starters, oxygen sensors, fuel injectors and fuel pumps. Entering its 16th season, this partnership has yielded seven Sprint Cup Series championships and a wealth of knowledge and insights. Hendrick Motorsports engine builders have worked closely with Bosch engineers over the years to develop some of the most powerful vehicles on the track.(Hendrick Motorsports)(3-1-2016)
Positive response to aero package from drivers: For a race with a mere three cautions, #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr. found Sunday's event with the new low-downforce competition package exhilarating. "I loved it," Earnhardt said. "We were sliding around and driving the hell out of the car. I had a blast! I had some good races there on the track with the #2 (Brad Keselowski) and the #18 (Kyle Busch) and a bunch of guys. Man, it was so much fun. And I post old pictures online all the time of the '80s and '90s, and that's when racing was racing. That's when it was good. That's what they saw today."
Ninth-place finisher Brad Keselowski echoed Earnhardt's sentiments. "I loved the way the cars drive," said Keselowski, who had the top-finishing Ford. "I understand that it takes more than my opinion to make the sport go round, but I thought it was awesome."
#19-Carl Edwards, a long-time advocate of the new aerodynamic package, would like to see NASCAR take even more downforce away. "They just need to keep taking more," said Edwards, who drove his No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota to a fifth-place result. "This is real racing. We're driving hard. You can see the guys out here just digging for everything they're worth. I'm worn out. That's a tough race and just a lot of fun. I just can't thank NASCAR enough and Atlanta - don't ever pave this place - it's a perfect race track. I hope the fans enjoyed the show. The thing is, just know that in that car we're driving as hard as we can."(NASCAR Wire Service)(2-29-2016)
Hendrick will not look to replace Stewart-Haas business: Hendrick Motorsports won't look to replace the engine lease program and the chassis business it will lose when Stewart-Haas Racing moves to Ford starting next season, but it also does not plan to lay off any employees. Team owner Rick Hendrick said Sunday that the decision "kind of caught me by surprise" but it was no surprise that another manufacturer would go after SHR. It will make for an interesting year as SHR remains a customer but one that will start building its own chassis and leasing engines from Roush Yates Engines next year. Hendrick, speaking prior to the Sprint Cup race at Atlanta Motor Speedway, said his team is committed to working with SHR this year and will move on after the season. That doesn't mean looking for new people to sell chassis and lease engines. HMS leases engines to two-car organizations HScott Motorsports and Chip Ganassi Racing. It also supplies engines and support to JR Motorsports in the Xfinity Series. HScott Motorsports plans to remain a Hendrick affiliate next year, said team owner Harry Scott, whose team also has an affiliation with Stewart-Haas Racing this season. "We've been pretty much taxed to keep up with all the customers we have," Hendrick said. "I think what we're going to do now is turn our efforts inward and do more R&D and give us a chance to do more, really, research and development than we've been doing in the last couple of years because our guys have been flat-out. While the team will fulfill the terms of its contracts with SHR, Hendrick said he expects SHR to begin the process of working on its own chassis this year. Losing the SHR business likely would cost Hendrick tens of millions of dollars, but Hendrick said his company has the ability to compensate for the lost business.(ESPN.com)(2-29-2016)
DHS And NASCAR Release New "If You See Something, Say Something" PSA: The Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) "If You See Something, Say Something" public awareness campaign and NASCAR today released two new Public Service Announcements (PSAs) and new campaign materials. The new PSAs, which feature Kyle Busch and Dale Earnhardt Jr., will be on display this weekend at the Daytona 500 International Speedway. Fans using their smart phones will also see messaging that highlights the individual role of everyday citizens to protect their neighbors and the communities they call home, by recognizing and reporting suspicious activity when using mobile applications. In addition to these efforts, the "If You See Something, Say Something"" campaign will also display public awareness materials at the Daytona Beach International Airport, on billboards throughout the area, and at gas stations around Daytona Beach, FL. Since 2011, DHS has partnered with NASCAR to create public service announcements and digital awareness products through the "If You See Something, Say Something" campaign. This year, fans can see the "If You See Something, Say Something" message in English and Spanish at the track. Previously, DHS and NASCAR created two public service announcements featuring NASCAR drivers Jeff Gordon and Matt Kenseth. For more information, watch these public service announcements by Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Kyle Busch or visit www.dhs.gov.(DHS)(2-21-2016)
Goodyear, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Expand Relationship: The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company announced that #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr. will be the featured expert who chooses Goodyear tires on and off the track in a series of broadcast, digital and print ads. "We've already had a relationship due to the confidence that I have in Goodyear tires on the track with the 88 car and on the street with my own personal car," said Earnhardt Jr. "There's a huge trust factor that we've had for a really long time, so this feels like a continuation of something that has been going on for a while." Earnhardt Jr., NASCAR's most popular driver 13 years running and one of America's favorite athletes, has accomplished his significant racing achievements on Goodyear tires including his first NASCAR Sprint Cup victory in 2000 and Daytona 500 victories in 2004 and 2014. The creative materials draw on Earnhardt Jr.'s deep personal connection with the Goodyear brand. In the television spot, through a heartfelt message about hard work, tradition and pride, Earnhardt Jr. highlights the tenets of Goodyear's involvement in NASCAR - the continuous learning that is achieved through all of the drivers and the ability to deliver superior performing tires both on and off the track. Goodyear will amplify the creative with a robust media plan and social media support.(Goodyear)(2-20-2016)
Earnhardt Jr. wins first Can-Am Duel 150: #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr. won the first Can-Am Duel 150 Qualifying race for the Daytona 500 Sprint Cup Series race at Daytona International Speedway followed by #22-Logano, #21-Blaney, #4-Harvick, #5-Kahne, #16-Biffle, #34-Buescher, #17-Stenhouse Jr., #3-Dillon, #6-Bayne, #2-Keselowski, #59-McDowell, #7-Smith, #23-Ragan, #30-Wise, #15-Bowyer, #32-Labonte, #44-Scott, #27-Menard and #98-Whitt.
#21-Blaney was the highest finishing Open Team (non-chartered team), finishing 3rd. The other three Open teams: #59-McDowell finished 14th, #30-Wise finished 17th and #98-Whitt finished 22nd/last, after spinning out and leaving the race. #21-Blaney gets in the race as the highest finishing Open team and will start 7th. #59-McDowell gets in the race via his qualifying speed. #30-Wise and #98-Whitt will not make the race.
There were two incidents, on lap 43, #98-Whitt was trying to pass #59-McDowell and spun out, doing enough damage to the car that he could not finish. As the leaders were coming to the checkered flag, #44-Scott spun and was credited with 20th, the team will go to a backup car, so Scott will have to start at the rear of the field on Sunday.
The finishers of the 1st Can-Am Duel 150 will line up on the inside (odd number) line. #24-Ellott starts on the pole and #88-Earnhardt Jr. will start 3rd. #59-McDowell, in on speed, will start 39th.
See results on the First Can-Am Duel 150 Results page (pdf).(2-18-2016)
NASCAR's Highest-Paid Drivers: NASCAR has undergone big changes over the past decade with how the sport crowns a champion, sells its merchandise and broadcasts its races on TV. The latest overhaul is a "charter" system that transforms 36 Sprint Cup teams into franchises, with similarities to other sports leagues liked shared revenue. The new system means adjustments to how drivers are paid. Drivers traditionally received a salary, as well as a percentage of the race purse winnings. But purse winnings will no longer be publicly released weekly with charter teams now guaranteed a certain amount of money annually distributed from a fund. Owners are currently reworking driver contracts and are expected to cut deals where the drivers won't lose money under the new charter system.
Leading the way for the eighth straight year is #88-Dale Earnhardt, Jr. who made an estimated $23.5 million in 2015. Second was #48-Jimmie Johnson at $22.2 million and Jeff Gordon at $21.6 million. Rounding out the top five are #4-Kevin Harvick at $15.5 million and #11-Denny Hamlin $15.1 million.(See full story and more at Forbes.com)(2-18-2016)
TaxSlayer.com debuts for Earnhardt Jr in the Sprint Unlimited: Dale Earnhardt Jr. is slated to drive the red-and-black #88 TaxSlayer.com Chevy in Saturday night's Sprint Unlimited at Daytona International Speedway. TaxSlayer.com marks the company's first race as a primary sponsor in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series with Earnhardt, and associate brand placement on the #88 Chevy throughout the remainder of the year (HMS), see images of the car on the #88 Team Schemes page (2-11-2016)
Earnhardt, Jr's car chief delivers his own daughter: When you sign up to be the car chief for Dale Earnhardt Jr. 's #88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet, there's quite a bit of understood pressure that comes along with the job. Sometimes there's even more pressure that comes along with being a husband, as Travis Mack learned early Wednesday morning. According to Mhis Twitter account, Mack, who heads into his second season as Earnhardt's car chief under crew chief Greg Ives, delivered his own baby girl at 3:15 a.m. in his home bathroom. "I delivered my baby girl at 3:15 this morning in our bathroom! Amazing experience. #GodIsGood My Wife is so strong." Mack tweeted.(NASCAR.com)(2-4-2016)
Retirement not on the radar for Earnhardt Jr.: Despite his peers Jeff Gordon and Tony Stewart announcing their own retirements, #88-Dale Earnhardt's improvement on the track makes it difficult to answer one of the biggest questions that confronts the 41-year-old driver: When will he hang up his fire suit for good? For Earnhardt, it's a delicate balance. "I don't want to be here too long, (but) I don't want to (retire) too early," Earnhardt said. " You want to feel like the time's right. "(Gordon and Stewart) felt like the time was right. And hopefully I'm in the same position. I've said before, that you want it to be your decision. You don't want to be fired out of the sport. You want it to be on your terms." Earnhardt's own terms deem that the retirement process also be steady, well thought-out -- he wants to avoid saying "what if?" when the curtain does eventually fall. "I'd be a fool to turn this off right now," Earnhardt said. "To slow down this machine would take about a two-year plan. I will talk to Jeff and I'll talk to Tony about how they went about that decision and structured it. "But I can't even imagine when that would be because things are going so well ... We've got a job to do. Every year we keep getting better, we're racing better, we're winning. I feel like I've got to be here in that next step. If it flat lines, or I feel like I've flat lined or I feel like I'm part of the problem or I'm holding the team back, then we've got to start thinking about it. But everything's going in the right direction right now." The day Earnhardt decides to step aside from racing is yet to be determined. But it doesn't appear to be happening any time soon.(NASCAR.com)(1-23-2016)
Hero Face Off: #48 and #88 cars to feature Batman and Superman UPDATE: images started popping up on some websites (then were taken down) but lived on Twitter. The images were grainy images of the #48-Lowes / Superman and #88 Nationwide / Batman schemes. Hendrick Motorsports tweeted that "The masks will come off Jan. 19." Also Lowe's Racing and Nationwide each made a tweet on the subject. The images can be seen on the #48 Team Schemes page and the #88 Team Schemes page.(1-18-2016)
UPDATE: Warner Bros. Consumer Products (WBCP) and 11-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champions Hendrick Motorsports today unveiled the latest pairing in their ongoing partnership, featuring two special paint schemes for drivers Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jimmie Johnson, to promote the upcoming and highly anticipated Warner Bros. Pictures film "Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice." Batman will be represented on Earnhardt's #88 Nationwide Batman Chevy and Superman will be featured on Johnson's #48 Lowe's Superman Chevy when the teammates square off during the March 20 Auto Club 500 Sprint Cup Series race in Fontana, CA. The "Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice" paint schemes were co-developed by Warner Bros. Consumer Products and Hendrick Motorsports. Earnhardt's paint scheme will showcase the Batman emblem and textures of the Caped Crusader's suit, while Johnson's car will feature the iconic S-shield and Superman suit textures. Additionally, Earnhardt and Johnson will wear custom-designed fire suits during the race weekend that feature the respective Super Hero logos.
"Hendrick Motorsports is the ultimate team in racing, with championship-caliber drivers and a proven track record of success, and we are thrilled to continue working with them to build out innovative activations that pair their drivers with the world's most recognized Super Heroes," said Dave Hedrick, senior vice president, Global Promotions, Branded Foods, Studio Licensing, Warner Bros. Consumer Products. "Fans of Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jimmie Johnson will love seeing their heroes face off as they take on the personas of DC Comics' legendary characters from 'Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.'"
Hendrick Motorsports, along with its partners Nationwide and Lowe's, have also teamed with WBCP to create "Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice" at-track activations for fans of all ages during the California race weekend. In addition to giveaways and themed activities, select costumes from the film will be on display. Licensed merchandise featuring the "Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice" paint schemes for the #48 and #88 cars will be available at participating retailers and online beginning Jan. 22.
"Nationwide is excited to join forces with Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Batman, two iconic figures in their respective worlds, to create this incredible duo," said Mike Boyd, Nationwide's senior vice president of marketing. "We're looking forward to seeing our #88 Nationwide Batman paint scheme on the track and are sure it will be big fun for millions of race and Batman fans alike." As part of its involvement, Nationwide is offering one lucky fan a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to attend the premiere of the film. The prize package includes airfare, lodging, two tickets to Sunday's race, a meet-and-greet opportunity with Earnhardt, two tickets to the red carpet premiere and more. Fans can visit nationwidebatman88.com to enter the contest.
"Jimmie has long been a Super Hero to the 265,000 Lowe's employees nationwide," said Lawrence Lobpries, Lowe's vice president of consumer marketing. "In addition to putting a bold, unique paint scheme featuring Superman, one of the world's greatest Super Heroes, in front of our passionate Team 48 fans, this partnership allows us to engage a new audience by bringing the thrill and action of the movie and NASCAR to our stores across the country."
On March 24, the eve of the "Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice" release, Lowe's stores nationwide will host a free Superman-themed Build and Grow clinic, where families can build a wooden replica of Johnson's Superman race car. Parents can register their children at lowes.com/buildandgrow beginning in March.
Announced in 2014, WBCP and Hendrick Motorsports are engaged in an ongoing strategic partnership to build on- and off-track programs teaming star drivers Kasey Kahne, Chase Elliott, Johnson and Earnhardt with the most recognized characters in DC Comics Super Hero lore. Team partners have exclusive opportunities to align with Warner Bros. Consumer Products and DC Comics-inspired releases. Collaborations have since taken place around Sprint Cup events at Charlotte Motor Speedway and Michigan International Speedway.
"Delivering more value to our relationships is something we think about every single day," said Patrick Perkins, Hendrick Motorsports' vice president of marketing. "The ability to bring together tremendous partners like Lowe's and Nationwide and align them with arguably the year's biggest action adventure film is an extraordinary opportunity. It creates ways to excite and entertain our current fans, reach new audiences and build special programs around everything from licensed merchandise to sweepstakes. When we began working with DC Entertainment, this is exactly the type of program we all envisioned, and we're proud to be involved."(Hendrick Motorsports)(1-19-2016)
WIX Filters joins Hendrick as technical partner: WIX Filters has joined Hendrick Motorsports as a key technical partner with an agreement that will supply innovative filtration products and provide critical development support to the 11-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champions through 2019. With a four-year pact, WIX's air and oil filters will be used in competition by the four Sprint Cup Series teams of Hendrick Motorsports with drivers Kasey Kahne, Chase Elliott, Jimmie Johnson and Dale Earnhardt Jr. Its logo will be featured on team equipment, transporters and underneath the hood of Hendrick Motorsports' Chevrolet SS race cars. "Since the early 1960s when Richard Petty began using our filters, generations of motor sports champions have driven to victory lane with WIX," said Jennifer Gibson, brand manager for WIX Filters. "Adding a team like Hendrick Motorsports only further positions us as the number-one filter in motor sports, and we couldn't be more excited to see what that means on the track this season."(Hendrick Motorsports)(1-19-2016)
Mountain Dew sponsoring Earnhardt, Kahne, Elliott: Fans will be seeing a lot more Mountain Dew at the racetrack starting this season. Thanks to a three-year extension of PepsiCo's longstanding partnership with 11-time Sprint Cup Series champions Hendrick Motorsports, Mountain Dew is continuing as a primary sponsor of #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr. and welcoming drivers #5-Kasey Kahne and #24-Chase Elliott to its lineup beginning in 2016. The next phase of PepsiCo's racing program comes after 15 seasons of partnership with Hendrick Motorsports, including eight years of Earnhardt paired with Mountain Dew. In an unprecedented move, 2016 marks the first time the DEW brand will field a three-driver lineup. Mountain Dew will be primary sponsor of Earnhardt's #88 Chevrolet SS team for three races each season through 2018. Alongside him will be Elliott, whose #24 team will feature Mountain Dew as primary sponsor in two races annually. Kahne's #5 Chevy will have Mountain Dew as a primary sponsor in one race per year. All three teams will also showcase DEW as an associate-level sponsor. More details about the partnership and the 2016 race schedule will be shared in the coming weeks.(Hendrick Motorsports)(1-16-2016)
Grubb talks about leaving Gibbs: Darian Grubb told SiriusXM NASCAR Radio on Thursday that he was surprised that he wasn't back as #19-Carl Edwards' crew chief at Joe Gibbs Racing. "I guess fifth in points just wasn't good enough in some people's eyes and five points away from running (for the title at) Homestead," Grubb said on the show "Tradin' Paint." Grubb said he was told during last year's Chase that changes could be coming, nearly mirroring a situation he had in 2011. He was told during that year's Chase that he would not return as Tony Stewart's crew chief. Grubb then went on to help Stewart win the title, beating Edwards. "I was somewhat surprised," Grubb said on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio about finding out his position could be in jeopardy last year at JGR. "The first conversation I had was one weekend of the Chase I was told at that point that I needed to get nine more solid weeks in, and I was like 'I've been through this before.' Last time it was six weeks. This time was nine. I knew something was going to come up with the change. I knew I was going to be making some changes. I didn't know what it was going to be. Then went on and found out it wasn't going to be a crew chief position, so I had to explore some options." Joe Gibbs Racing replaced Grubb with Dave Rogers, who moved over from #11-Denny Hamlin's team. Hamlin's new crew chief is Mike Wheeler. Those moves led Grubb, who has 23 career Sprint Cup wins as a crew chief, back to Hendrick Motorsports. Grubb's new role is as vehicle production director at Hendrick Motorsports. He'll have responsibility for production operations in the chassis and body groups and work alongside technical director Kenny Francis.(NBC Sports)(1-8-2016)
Darian Grubb returns to Hendrick Motorsports: Hendrick Motorsports has named Darian Grubb to the newly created role of vehicle production director, where he will oversee every aspect of race car manufacturing for the 11-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champions, effective immediately. Grubb, 40, assumes responsibility for production operations in the Hendrick Motorsports chassis and body groups. He will work alongside vehicle technical director Kenny Francis to support and grow the company's overall car development capabilities while collaborating across vehicle engineering, vehicle production and four Sprint Cup teams. Both Grubb and Francis report to general manager Doug Duchardt.
"We're excited to welcome Darian back to Hendrick Motorsports," Duchardt said. "His résumé speaks for itself, and he already has a deep understanding of our people, processes and culture. Teaming him with Kenny on our vehicle efforts mirrors the management structure of our engine operation, which has been very effective, and it adds more depth to the organization as a whole. Darian brings a wealth of knowledge and experience, and we know he will make us stronger."
A native of Floyd, Virginia, with a mechanical engineering degree from Virginia Tech, Grubb originally joined Hendrick Motorsports from Petty Enterprises in January 2003. He served as lead race engineer for the #48 Sprint Cup team from 2003-2006 and was interim crew chief during the first four races of its 2006 championship-winning campaign, leading Jimmie Johnson to a pair of victories, including the Daytona 500.
Grubb earned one win as crew chief for driver Casey Mears (#25 Chevy) in 2007 before being named engineering manager for the #5 and #88 Hendrick Motorsports teams for 2008. In 2009, he moved into a crew chief role at Stewart-Haas Racing, where in three seasons he won 11 races and the 2011 Sprint Cup championship with #14-Tony Stewart. Grubb then joined Joe Gibbs Racing, winning nine races with multiple drivers from 2012-2015. As a crew chief, he has 23 career Sprint Cup victories.
"It means a lot to come back to Hendrick Motorsports," Grubb said. "This is a role that will allow me to contribute to the success of the entire organization, which was very important to me. Kenny is someone I greatly respect, so the chance to work side-by-side with him was a big factor. Everything is familiar, and I think that will make for a smooth transition. The more we talked about the opportunity, the more it felt right. I'm ready to get started."(Hendrick Motorsports)(1-4-2015)
Dale Jr. heads to TaxSlayer Bowl UPDATE: #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr. will once again head to the TaxSlayer Bowl in Jacksonville, Fla. to participate in the coin toss to begin Saturday's [Jan 2nd] game between the Georgia Bull Dogs and Penn State Nittany Lions. TaxSlayer.com is beginning its seventh year as a sponsor at JR Motorsports and will extend that relationship to the Sprint Cup Series with Hendrick Motorsports in 2016. "I enjoy working with TaxSlayer and I think it's neat where we cross promote and sort of mix the two together where their involvement with the Bowl brings me to the Bowl," Earnhardt Jr. said. "I get to enjoy that experience. I had never been to any college games in my life until I started going to the TaxSlayer Bowl, even being a fan of the sport. It's fun for me and we are typically in the neighborhood that time of year being on vacation."(MRN)(1-2-2016)
UPDATE: It may be the NASCAR offseason, but Hendrick Motorsports and Dale Earnhardt Jr. were busy this weekend, taking part in the Tax Slayer Bowl between Penn State and Georgia on Saturday afternoon. The #88 TaxSlayer.com Chevy was on hand for fan photos, while Earnhardt took part in a Q&A outside the Jacksonville, Florida stadium. Prior to the game, Earnhardt took in the attention before driving onto the field to perform the opening coin toss.(FoxSports)(1-3-2016)
#88 team gets new chief engineer: Hendrick Motorsports confirmed the hiring of Tim O'Brien as the new engineer of the #88 Chevy for Dale Earnhardt Jr next season. O'Brien joined Hendrick in late November after a stint at Michael Waltrip Racing, which included serving as the lead engineer for the #55 Toyota this season. The Fort Wayne, Indiana native joined MWR and driver Clint Bowyer in 2012 after a healthy tenure at Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates from 2005 to 2011. He earned a mechanical engineering degree from Purdue University and soon joined Ganassi's IndyCar program before leaping to his XFINITY Series program with driver Reed Sorenson. He has worked alongside veteran crew chief Brian Pattie for the past 10 seasons. O'Brien replaces Kevin Meendering who left HMS for a crew chief role at JR Motorsports and driver Elliott Sadler next season.(Catchfence)(12-15-2015)
Dale Earnhardt, Jr. wins Most Popular Driver Award: #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr. collected his 13th consecutive NMPA Sprint Most Popular Driver award Friday during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series' annual Awards Ceremony held at the Wynn Las Vegas. Earnhardt is the only driver to have won the award since 16-time winner Bill Elliott was named the recipient at the conclusion of the 2002 season. Earnhardt was awarded the trophy and the National Motorsports Press Association will donate $10,000 in Earnhardt's name to the charity of his choice. NASCAR fans cast 410,000 votes during the year's 11-week voting window that ended with the Sprint Cup Series finale race at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 22. The NMPA Sprint Most Popular Driver award completed its 63rd season, making it one of the oldest awards presented in NASCAR. The fan-driven contest is the only major award in NASCAR determined solely by race fans. "NASCAR fans are the greatest in all of sports," said NMPA President Brian Nelson, "and I'm delighted that Sprint and the NMPA have given them an opportunity to voice their support. The fans spoke loud and clear, and it's obvious they support Dale Jr." Voting totals increased 14 percent over 2014 in spite of a shorter voting window, and more than 40 Sprint Cup Series drivers received one or more votes this season. Race fans were encouraged to vote daily online and using the NASCAR Mobile app. "It is our duty as an organization to provide NASCAR fans with the best possible platform in which to participate, and to provide them with the best possible experience," said Nelson. The award is sponsored by Sprint, the entitlement sponsor and official wireless partner of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.(NMPA)(12-5-2015)
Dale Jr.'s wedding will be after 2016 season: Dale Earnhardt Jr. won't be having a June 2016 wedding. Although NASCAR's Most Popular Driver tried to use his influence with the sanctioning body to expedite the release of the 2016 Sprint Cup schedule to select a date for his upcoming nuptials, Earnhardt and his fiancee Amy Reimann are likely looking at a winter wedding. "We haven't set a date," Earnhardt told Motorsport.com. "We know what time of year we want to do it - and it's probably going to be in next year's off-season. We have a long-time to plan things out. We've just kind of small-talked some venues - where and when - but we haven't sat down and talked about real plans. We've got to start soon though because it's going to be here before you know it. We were thinking about doing it next summer but then the schedule changes every year and we didn't want the race to fall on our anniversary. So we're going to do it in the off-season so we'll have the opportunity to celebrate it however we want."(Motorsport)(12-5-2016)
Hendrick Motorsports receives MAHLE Engine Builder of the Year Award: The NASCAR NMPA Myers Brothers 2015 Awards Luncheon was a big one for Hendrick Motorsports. First, Jeff Gordon was presented with the very first Chevrolet Lifetime Achievement Award. #88 crew chief Greg Ives was then named the MOOG Steering and Suspension Problem Solver of the Year. In between both awards, Hendrick Motorsports was honored with the MAHLE Engine Builder of the Year Award for the 19th time. In particular, engine assembler Sam Vernatter was singled out as the winner of the award. Points toward the Engine Builder of the Year Award were granted after every race based on qualifying and finishing position, with bonus points for the team that led the most laps. "Randy Dorton started the legacy of Hendrick Motorsports and it lives daily in Jeff Andrews, Jim Wall, Scott Maxim and David Evans," Vernatter said. "Their leadership paves the way for our success." Hendrick Motorsports engines powered five of the top 12 finishing teams at the end of the 2015 season, including two of the top three.(Hendrick Motorsports)(12-4-2015)
Greg Ives receives MOOG 'Problem Solver of the Year' Award: Greg Ives, crew chief for Dale Earnhardt Jr. and the Hendrick Motorsports-owned #88 Nationwide Chevrolet SS, received Federal-Mogul Motorparts' prestigious MOOG "Problem Solver of the Year" Award - including a handcrafted MOOG ball joint trophy and a check for $100,000 - during the NASCAR Sprint Cup NMPA Myers Brothers Awards Ceremony in Las Vegas. Ives is the eighth recipient of the award, which honors the crew chief with the best overall performance during the Sprint Cup season. MOOG is the Official Steering and Suspension of NASCAR. Ives won the year-end MOOG award after earning a series-leading five weekly MOOG "Problem Solver of the Race" Awards. The weekly Problem Solver award is presented to the crew chief whose car delivers the greatest second-half improvement in average lap time while finishing on the lead lap. Runner-up for the Problem Solver of the Year award, with four weekly MOOG wins, was Justin Alexander, crew chief for Paul Menard and the #27 Chevrolet SS. A record 20 different crew chiefs won at least one weekly Problem Solver award. The MOOG brand, celebrating its 50th year of Cup racing, is the preferred choice of professional technicians and NASCAR crew chiefs. In recognition of the vital importance of steering and suspension components in overall vehicle safety and performance, NASCAR now mandates that Cup teams use MOOG Problem Solver parts, specifically ball joints and tie rod ends.(Federal-Mogul Motorparts)(12-4-2015)
Hendrick Motorsports names new Manager of Aerodynamics: Diane Holl is the new manager of aerodynamics for Hendrick Motorsports. Holl, 51, joined HMS last month after eight seasons at Michael Waltrip Racing where she served as Director of Vehicle Design. After earning her degree in mechanical engineering, the Guildford, England native's career started in Formula 1 with Ferrari as a chassis designer in 1987. Holl returned to England in 2002, where she worked with the McLaren Group as Principle Engineer. She returned to the U.S. five years later to join MWR. Holl replaces Kurt Romberg, who has since taken a similar role at Roush Fenway Racing.(Motorsports)(12-3-2015)
Axalta to sponsor Dale Jr. in 2016 IMAGE: Axalta Coatings Systems will continue its long-standing partnership with Hendrick Motorsports after agreeing to a contract extension that will expand its presence and take one of the most enduring sponsorships in NASCAR through 2018. Beginning in 2016, Axalta will become a primary sponsor of the #88 Chevy team of driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. for 13 Sprint Cup Series races annually, an increase of three per season. Axalta will also be featured as a major associate sponsor during all non-primary events.
The agreement extends a multi-faceted partnership -- now in its 23rd full season -- that began in November 1992 when the company (as DuPont) first sponsored driver Jeff Gordon and the #24 Hendrick Motorsports team. Gordon, who is in the midst of his final full-time Sprint Cup campaign, will continue to work with Axalta as a spokesperson and global business advisor. The multi-year relationship was announced earlier this year.
"We began a journey 23 years ago with Hendrick Motorsports and a young driver named Jeff Gordon. Eighty poles, 92 wins and four championships later, we are proud of the run we've had with Jeff," said Nigel Budden, Axalta vice president and head of its North America business. "Now, we are delighted to continue our relationship with Hendrick Motorsports and to adorn the hood of Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s #88 Chevy SS with the Axalta logo in 2016. As our slogan says, 'We Paint Winners,' and by joining Dale we will continue to do so for years to come."
On the racetrack, Axalta's relationship with Hendrick Motorsports has yielded four Sprint Cup Series championships and 92 victories. Axalta has hosted thousands of customers at events and fashioned some of the most iconic paint schemes in NASCAR history. Earlier this month, the two companies broke ground on Axalta's 45,000-square-foot Customer Experience Center that will be located on the Hendrick Motorsports campus in Concord, NC.
"Axalta has built a model sponsorship program," said Rick Hendrick, owner of Hendrick Motorsports. "For 23 years, they've recognized the opportunities NASCAR provides and understood how it drives value for their business. It's a unique relationship that's evolved with the times and has been consistently effective. We're very proud of what we've accomplished as partners and look forward to more successes together with Dale and the #88 team."
"Axalta and Hendrick Motorsports have an incredible story," Earnhardt said. "For me, it's meaningful to work with a sponsor that's been so committed to our sport and has such a rich history in NASCAR. Continuing the partnership is special for all of us, and I'm already excited about what the car will look like. I'm really looking forward to the opportunity."(Hendrick Motorsports)(10-6-2015)
IMAGE Axalta Racing debuted the #88 Axalta Chevy Tuesday afternoon at the Cromwell in Las Vegas. See images of the car on the #88 team paint schemes page.(12-2-2015)
Teammates to pay tribute at Homestead with 'Jeff Gordon yellow' numbers: Sunday will mark a momentous occasion in the history of Hendrick Motorsports and NASCAR as a whole. Jeff Gordon will make his final start behind the wheel of the #24 Chevy. To honor the event, Axalta has provided a special paint scheme for Gordon to drive as he attempts to win a fifth NASCAR Cup Series championship in the final race of his final full-time season. But the remaining three Hendrick Motorsports cars will also celebrate the close of an iconic career.
In a collaboration Hendrick Motorsports owner Rick Hendrick announced Tuesday morning on Twitter, Gordon's teammates and their partners worked together to run the familiar "Jeff Gordon yellow" for the car numbers on the #5, #48 and #88 Chevy as well. See the behind-the-scenes gallery of the application of the yellow numbers inside the race shops.(Hendrick Motorsports) and see images of the four cars on Jayski.com's:
#5 Team Schemes page;
#24 Team Schemes page;
#48 Team Schemes page;
#88 Team Schemes page.(11-17-2015)
Earnhardt Jr. wins at Phoenix: #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr. won the Quicken Loan's for Heroes 350(k) Sprint Cup Series race at Jeff Gordon Raceway (Phoenix International Raceway) for his 3rd win of the season, 3rd win at Phoenix and 26th career win. Earnhardt Jr. led 22 of the 219 laps.
The race was rain delayed for over six hours, getting the command to start engines at 9:00pm/et and taking the green flag at 9:27pm/et. During a late race caution on lap 195, it started raining again, just after NASCAR red flagged the event at 11:30pm/et on lap 219, the rain came down hard. With more rain in the forecast, NASCAR decided to call the race and made it official. It is only the second Sprint Cup Series race at Phoenix in 39 races to be rain shortened and the first since October 25, 1998 when Rusty Wallace won a race shortened to 257 of 312 laps.
#4-Harvick finished 2nd (for the 12th time in 2015 and 43rd runner-up finish in his career) followed by #22-Logano, #18-Busch, #48-Johnson (pole winner), #24-Gordon, #41-Busch, #11-Hamlin, #2-Keselowski and #43-Almirola.
The four drivers advancing to the CHAMPIONSHIP RACE of The Chase at Homestead-Miami Speedway are:
#24-Jeff Gordon (4 Championships)
#4-Kevin Harvick (1 Championship)
#18-Kyle Busch (0 Championships)
#78-Martin Truex Jr. (0 Championships)
Four drivers failed to win or score enough points during the Eliminator Round(3) to advance to the Championship Race:
There were 8 lead changes among 7 drivers and only 2 cautions for 29 yellow flag laps.
The average speed was 106.512mph.
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 OFFICIAL race results & points standings on the Official Race & Points Report (pdf). (11-15-2015)
Hendrick Motorsports and Freightliner Trucks extend deal: Freightliner Trucks has announced a five-year contract extension with 11-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champions Hendrick Motorsports. In addition, the company announced a new five-year contract with defending NASCAR XFINITY Series champions JR Motorsports. Both racing teams now have agreements with Freightliner through the 2020 NASCAR season. With the Hendrick Motorsports partnership renewal, the team's over-the-road drivers will continue to stay behind the wheel of their custom Freightliner trucks to carry race cars, supplies and equipment to Sprint Cup events across the United States.(HMS)(11-14-2015)
Dale Earnhardt Jr. could be offered F1 ride: Tavo Hellmund who helped bringing Formula One racing back to the United States and his hometown of Austin, TX and to his father's homeland, Mexico, is now involved with a pair of F1 projects. If he and his group of investors succeed in acquiring a struggling F1 team, Manor Marussia, Hellmund said he'll offer a ride to none other than NASCAR's ultrapopular Dale Earnhardt Jr. He's also involved in a plan to create an F1 track in California, a project different from the urban street race in Southern California that Hellmund said F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone is currently pursuing. Hellmund's investor group is looking to purchase at least a controlling interest in the Manor Marussia race team from British businessman Stephen Fitzpatrick. If that does happen, a big goal of the team would be to put an American driver on the grid. Hellmund said he's serious about his first choice being Dale Jr., even if that seems like a pie-in-the-sky idea. A more realistic option would be his second choice, Alexander Rossi. He raced in the U.S. Grand Prix this year and has competed successfully in a couple of series that are considered steppingstones to F1.(Culled from an article at the Austin American-Statesman)(11-13-2015)
Meendering leaving Earnhardt's Cup team to crew chief in XFINITY: Kevin Meendering currently serves as the chief engineer on Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s No. 88 Sprint Cup Series team. In 2016, he will move to the Xfinity Series next season as a crew chief. Meendering will serve as crew chief for driver Elliott Sadler next season at JR Motorsports, sources familiar to the move confirmed. Sadler, 40, joined Roush Fenway Racing this season after spending the two previous seasons with Joe Gibbs Racing. He is currently sixth in the series standings with four top-five and 10 top-15 finishes in 30 races.(Motorsport)(11-8-2015)
Earnhardt Jr comments on final restart: #88-Dale Earnhardt, Jr. met with the media after Sunday's race at Talladega:
Walk us through the final restart and your take on it:
Earnhardt, Jr. "I couldn't believe he (Joey Logano) gave me the bottom. I was like 'man this is a gift.' I was going to win the race for sure, but that caution came out. I'm fine with the new rule. Everybody is going to debate that we were thinking before the race that they made a good change on the green-white-checkered to go to one and I still feel that way. Per the rules we run second. I can live with that. The #22 (Joey Logano) did a great job. He had a hell of a round winning all three races. If he wins the championship he can look back on this round here as the one that set him up."
"I'm proud of what we did today. We did everything we needed to do, just fell about the width of the splitter. You know how I hate that splitter, so, another reason (laughs)."
Should NASCAR have let you run longer under that green-white-checkered before throwing the caution?
Earnhardt, Jr. "Another 100 yards I would have been in the lead, but NASCAR makes the calls. They are the governing body and I have 100 percent faith in the choices that they make. I'm not going to be too upset about it. I did everything I could. I'm proud of myself. I'm proud of my team. My guys did a good job on pit road. We had a little issue, but if this group sticks together we are going to do great things next year. I believe in all of them. I'm proud of what we did. We can sit here and pout about this day, but we didn't do good enough in the first two races of this round. If we had done better in those first two races of this round we would not be worried about losing by a splitter. We didn't do a good job in those first two races. We've got to try to win another race before the year is out, have some fun. Martinsville is coming up. I'm excited about that. We've got a great team. This is my first year with Greg and we are just going to get better. He is just going to get better. We've got a lot to look forward to. It's disappointing, but I'm proud of the car. We really worked hard and we did a hell of a job today."(Chevy Racing)(10-26-2015)
College athletes on pit road: So who and how many college athletes are now on NASCAR's pit road? As the pit crews evolves so do the athletes that pit. That being said, the influx of college athletes to pit road has been a huge topic of conversation over the last few years. Getting the exact names and numbers of the guys on pit road is an extremely hard stat to get. The turnover is high so no stat is going to be 100% correct. So here ya go...the most in-depth article you'll find on ex college athletes on pit road circa Fall of 2015.
The best way to start this is to give some basic facts. We based our stats off of 39 full time running Cup teams. That gives us a total of 234 total crewmen on pit road. Out of those 234 total crewmen, 62 of them played college ball. That's a total of 26%. That number might seem low for what you were thinking, but we think it's right on track. If we were to do that same stat for developmental crewmen then we're guessing it would be more into the 80% range. Taking those 62 pit crew members and breaking them down into what position they pit looks like this. Leading the way is the Carriers with 21 at (34%), followed by Jackmen 16 (26%), Gasmen at 16 (26%), and Changers with only 9 representing 15%. The interesting thing about this is that your Changers are the most important position on pit road and they have the least amount of college athletes.
Looking into these stats even more we find that 49 (79%) played football followed by Baseball with 8 (13%). Basketball, Wrestling, and Soccer make up the remaining 8%.
As far as where these athletes pit, the breakdowns look like this. HMS leads the way with 16 (26%) followed by JGR with 8 (13%). The next two companies with the most would be SHR and MWR with 5 each representing (8%) for each company. Take into consideration we are comparing some 4 car teams to those with 2 or 3 cars so the stats might look a little skewed but the numbers are what they are.(PitTalks)(10-26-2015)
Warnings issued after Kansas: NASCAR handed out warnings to teams Wednesday afternoon for issues discovered in technical inspection last weekend at Kansas Speedway, where the Sprint Cup Series competed in Race #2 of three in the Chase Contender Round. Of the four teams issued a warning, only one -- the Hendrick Motorsports team of driver #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr. -- is in the Chase. Earnhardt's #88 group received its warning for twice failing pre-race inspection for Sunday's Hollywood Casino 400. The non-Chase team of driver #7-Alex Bowman was given a warning for likewise flunking pre-race inspection twice. The #83 team of driver Matt DiBenedetto, meanwhile, was given a warning for failing pre-qualifying inspection twice at Kansas. The #21 Wood Brothers Racing team of part-time Sprint Cup driver Ryan Blaney was hit with a warning for failing to comply with Section 10.7.2.b of the NASCAR rulebook. This is the second consecutive week that NASCAR has issued a written warning to the teams of Earnhardt and Blaney.(Fox Sports)(10-22-2015)
Earnhardt Jr. looking to tie record at Talladega: When #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr. takes the green flag in the CampingWorld.com 500 on Sunday, Oct. 25, he'll not only be looking to sweep into Victory Lane at the Talladega Superspeedway for the second time this season, he'll also be trying to write his name into the track record book in a special way alongside his Dad - Dale Earnhardt Sr. - and Pete Hamilton. With a win, Earnhardt Jr. would join the duo as the only drivers in NASCAR history to win three of the four races run at NASCAR's "Super" superspeedways - Talladega and the Daytona International Speedway - in a single season. Earnhardt Jr. finished third in the season-opening Daytona 500, but won the GEICO 500 at Talladega in May after leading 67 of 188 laps and the Coke Zero 400 at Daytona in July to set up his shot at racing history. He'd love nothing more than to join the elite company of his father (accomplished feat in 1990), who was driving for Richard Childress Racing, and Hamilton (1970), who was driving for Petty Enterprises.
Hamilton and Earnhardt Sr. both came close to achieving NASCAR's version of a Grand Slam only to have strange strokes of misfortune cause them to come up just short. In 1970, Hamilton won the Daytona 500, swept the two races at Talladega and had a competitive car in the early going in the July 4th Firecracker 400 at Daytona before a strip of insulation broke loose and went down the carburetor, choking the life from the engine and putting him out of the race after only 46 laps. Twenty years later, Earnhardt Sr. appeared well on his way to winning his first Daytona 500 when he, while leading, ran over some debris and cut a tire going into Turn 3 on the last lap and Derrike Cope sailed by for the victory. Earnhardt Sr. went on to sweep the two Talladega races and the July race in Daytona in 1990 to come oh-so-close to perfection.
Earnhardt Jr. holds the mark for consecutive victories at NASCAR's biggest, baddest track with wins in four straight races from 2001 to 2003, including a sweep of both races in 2002. He has six wins at the track in 31 career starts and has recorded 11 top-five finishes and 15 top-ten finishes. The six wins tie him with Jeff Gordon for second on Talladega's all-time victory list behind only Earnhardt Sr. (10).(TSS)(10-22-2015)
New look for #88 Nationwide Chevy in 2016 UPDATE: Dale Earnhardt Jr. is in the midst of the Contender Round of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. But that doesn't mean it's too early to look ahead to the 2016 paint scheme for his #88 Nationwide Chevrolet SS. Nationwide did just that, surprising 10 fans with the experience of a lifetime. See the video on the Hendrick Motorsports website and see an image of the car on the 2016 #88 team paint schemes page.(10-13-2015)
UPDATE: A late friend will be honored by the newly released paint scheme on Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s #88 Chevy for the 2016 NASCAR season. The side panels of Earnhardt's #88 Chevy will be painted gray - a nod to the car known as the "Gray Ghost" once driven by Buddy Baker. Baker, who died in August, won the 1980 Daytona 500 in an Oldsmobile painted gray, silver and black - hence its nickname. "It's my all-time favorite paint scheme," Earnhardt said recently at his Hendrick Motorsports shop. "So we've put a touch of the 'Gray Ghost,' on this car. With Buddy's passing, it made me want to do it even more, to acknowledge him and what he's done. It turned out to be a good-looking car. It looks good on paper, but you never know until it's on the track."(Charlotte Observer)(10-15-2015)
Earnhardt Jr. says no retaliation against Edwards: If you thought #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr. was considering any sort of payback on #19-Carl Edwards for a racing incident Sunday at Charlotte Motor Speedway, you thought wrong. Earnhardt used his forum on the "Dale Jr. Download" - a weekly podcast on the driver's Dirty Mo Radio network - to explain to fans why he won't be retaliating against Edwards. "A lot of people want me to go wreck Carl," he said. "I'm not going to do that, because if I'm trying to wreck Carl, I'm not winning Kansas, I'm not winning Talladega. You can't go chase after a guy and put him out of the race and accomplish what your goals are. Our goals are to go to those races and win, that's what we're going to do." Two laps prior to the incident, Earnhardt had thrown a big block on Edwards while racing for position. Earnhardt said he didn't want to give up a spot in the Chase, and was racing hard at that point in the race. But when he tried it again two laps later, Edwards held his ground. The cars made contact and Earnhardt hit the wall, but Earnhardt said it was "both of our responsibility." "We're not going to worry about Carl or start some (bull) show between me and him," he said. "It's over and done."(USA Today)(10-13-2015)
Drivers not happy with track cleanup UPDATE NASCAR comments: #18-Kyle Busch and #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr. were angry at NASCAR for what they felt was a lousy job cleaning up the track in the top of the groove between Turns 1 and 2 from a #51-Justin Allgaier oil spill on lap 182 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Both drivers hit the wall as they tried to put themselves in position to finish on the lead lap. Earnhardt, one lap down, ended up in the wall shortly before lap 200 and wound up four laps down in 28th. Busch hit it about 15 laps later, finishing one lap down in 20th. "You can't pass anybody -- it's a single-lane race track and then [a driver] put oil on the top lane [where we] to try to make anything happen and then you put yourself in the fence -- so thanks to NASCAR for cleaning that up," Busch said sarcastically.
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series director Richard Buck said NASCAR had cleanup workers actually walk the areas where drivers complained about oil, and they felt no oil, just the kitty litter-type absorbent. Earnhardt said NASCAR might have missed the oil because of shadows on the track, but Buck said workers and the pace-car driver did not feel any oil. "I've raced this [stuff] for 20 years," Earnhardt said. "I know what oil and [the absorbent] Speedi Dri is. We hit fluid, flew into the freaking wall hard. That's not Speedi Dri. There was oil up there. ... I hit the f---ing wall. I know I hit oil. I hit it. I promise. I'll argue with them all day long because I know I'm right."(ESPN)(10-11-2015)
UPDATE: A NASCAR executive said Monday that officials will talk to Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Kyle Busch about their insistence they hit oil in Sunday's Bank of America 500 after the track surface had been examined. Steve O'Donnell, NASCAR executive VP and chief racing development officer, addressed the matter on "The Morning Drive" on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. "In this case, we did not see oil,'' O'Donnell said. "I can't debate Kyle and (Earnhardt), they're in the race cars. If they say they hit it, it's not something that we saw out there. We'll continue to talk to them and see what maybe we can improve on in the future. We had personnel even out on the track, getting down on almost their hands and knees to make sure there wasn't any.'' O'Donnell said series officials thoroughly examined the track during the cautions. "Under any caution and condition, we obviously send out all the safety equipment to look and see if there is any oil from their perspective on the track,'' O'Donnell said. "We did that in this case. We had (pace car driver) Brett Bodine run through it multiple times and confirm back up to race control that the track was in good shape to go ahead and restart. Hopefully, there wasn't any. We go out there and we go check and did our process multiple times and they did not see any. Ultimately, we're not in the car and driving the car. From our view, the race was in good shape to get restarted and it always has to be before we go back green. That's where we were and felt like we did everything we could to ensure that the race track was in a safe condition.''(NBC Sports)(10-13-2015)
Earnhardt Jr. WAS going for a win on his birthday BUT...rain: #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr. turn 41 today, October 10th. He will attempt to become only the 4th driver to win a Sprint Cup Series race on their birthday. Cale Yarborough, Kyle Busch and Matt Kenseth are the only NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers to ever win a points paying race on their birthday. Yarborough's birthday March 27, won in 1977 at North Wilkesboro Speedway and a second time in 1983 at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
Kyle Busch won at Richmond on May 2, 2009, to become only the 2nd driver to win on their birthday, and only the third time ever.
Matt Kenseth won at Las Vegas on March 10, 2012, to become only the 3rd driver to win on their birthday, and only the 4th time ever.(10-10-2015)
BUT with the race being postponed by rain until Oct 11th, this will not happen.(10-11-2015)
Special Halo schemes at Kansas for #1 & #88: Guardians having gone gold, Microsoft's marketing efforts for the blockbuster shooter are shifting into high gear--literally. Microsoft and 343 Industries have announced that two cars in next weekend's Hollywood Casino 400 NASCAR event in Kansas City will be decked out with Master Chief and Spartan Locke paint jobs. #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr. will drive the Chief car, while #1-Jamie McMurray rides with Locke. The Hollywood Casino 400 race takes place on Sunday, October 18. The battle between Chief and Locke is at the heart of Halo 5's galaxy-changing story. "We have many NASCAR fans at the studio--myself included--and we're excited to see both cars compete at Kansas Speedway," 343 boss Kiki Wolfkill said in a statement. This is the first event in NASCAR history that Halo has sponsored. But it's not the first time video games have showed up on the race track, as Nintendo promoted Mario Kart with a custom car, while retailer GameStop regularly sponsors drivers.(GameSpot), see images of the schemes on the #1 Team Schemes page and #88 Team Schemes page.(10-8-2015)
Earnhardt Jr. wants to keep pit crew for 2016: When it comes to keeping his pit crew intact throughout the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr. is a strong proponent of the status quo. Never mind that Earnhardt's #88 team picked up front tire changer Scott Brzozowski from Jeff Gordon's #24 squad after the 24 hired free agent Nick O'Dell, late of Joe Gibbs Racing. That change aside, Earnhardt wants to keep his over-the-wall gang as is-for strong reasons-even though some have suggested Earnhardt might benefit from the temporary reassignment of some of Jimmie Johnson's crew, with Johnson eliminated from the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup in last Sunday's AAA 400 at Dover International Speedway. "I really would like to keep my guys-I'll be honest with you," Earnhardt said on Tuesday during a Chase Contender Round question-and-answer session with reporters at the NASCAR Hall of Fame heading into the round's opener Saturday night at Charlotte Motor Speedway. "I don't think you build a guy's trust ... he needs to know you believe in him. The same way for the driver. The driver needs to know the team believes he can do it. I think the carrier, the changer, all those guys want to know that the driver and everybody involved believe in them when they go over the wall. If I take the 48 guys because I think they're better, then what am I going to do next year? I'll have to start from scratch again. All those guys that are on my car now are going to be (ticked) off because I didn't believe in them, because I took the 48 guys when the going got tough. So I don't believe in doing that. I believe that my guys can do it. I think that we'll find a combination that works for the rest of the year and beyond."
Now that Brzozowski is on his team, Earnhardt would prefer to keep him, too. The front tire changer has been a mainstay on Gordon's team since 2013. "I hope that Scott wants to stick around beyond this season," Earnhardt said. "I actually talked to him a bit today. It's not like we need too many changes. We just need one key guy that can come in and elevate the standard and push everyone. Over the past couple years, when we've had great crews, a lot of the guys that we've been working with this year have been on those teams. But if you get one guy in there who's kind of a key player, or a bit of a superstar, like a wide receiver or a quarterback is to a football team, he can really elevate the play of everybody around him and boost the entire crew-just the confidence those guys having going over the wall when he's a part of it changes the whole consistency of the team. We really want Scott to wrap his brain around staying with us."(NASCAR Wire Service)(10-7-2015)
2016 #88 TaxSlayer.com scheme unveiled: Last month, TaxSlayer.com announced that it had expanded its relationship with Dale Earnhardt Jr. to include an affiliation with Hendrick Motorsports. As part of the partnership, TaxSlayer.com will receive primary placement on Earnhardt's #88 Chevy for one NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race next season. The Sprint Cup race in which Earnhardt will drive the #88 TaxSlayer.com Chevy is still to be determined. But the brand new paint scheme for 2016 has been revealed. The red and black design received a makeover, and Earnhardt himself spearheaded the redesign. To celebrate the occasion, fans will have the opportunity to win a limited-edition, vintage Earnhardt and TaxSlayer T-shirt (more info at HMS site), see an image of the car on the 2016 #88 Team Schemes page.(10-7-2015)
Late caution saves Earnhardt, Jr's. Chase chances: #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr. and #1-Jamie McMurray had a "game seven" moment in the third race of the Chase for the Sprint Cup. Earnhardt Jr. outran McMurray in a late-race battle that could be the dividing point between an ultimate payday of millions of dollars. Earnhardt Jr. finished third and McMurray fourth in the AAA 400 at Dover International Speedway, and that one position kept Junior in the running for the championship and closed the door on McMurray. Earnhardt Jr. passed McMurray on the outside on the race's final restart and stayed in front of him the rest of the way to drive into the 12th and final Chase spot going into Race Four next weekend at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Earnhardt Jr. and McMurray tied in points (2,098) after the first three Chase races, but Junior won the tiebreaker (best finish in the round). The last green flag flew on lap 377 (of 400) after a caution for oil on the track. Twenty laps earlier, Earnhardt Jr. got a season-saving break when #34-Brett Moffitt hit the wall and caused the race's next-to-last caution. Junior had reported a loose wheel to his pit and later said he would have had to pit under green if the caution had not flown. "The left rear was falling off," Earnhardt Jr. said. "I was a couple laps from coming in. It was shaking real bad in the corner, and it started shaking on decel(eration), and I knew it was a matter of time before it was coming off. It wasn't going to make 50 laps. We had 50 to go at that point, and I wasn't going to bash my head against a concrete wall somewhere for a damn loose wheel, so we just came in sooner than later."(USA Today)(10-5-2015)
#18 JGR team makes pit crew change UPDATES: The #18 Joe Gibbs Racing team and longtime front tire changer Nick Odell have parted ways. Odell was changing this past weekend in the Chase opener at Chicagoland in a race in which Kyle Busch finished ninth. This is an unusual development considering the timing and that the #18 pit crew has been intact for eight years and is a tightly knit group. This has been regarded as one of the best pit crews for years, and Odell is a great talent.
Josh Lesley will replace Odell as the front changer this weekend in the second race of the Challenger Round at New Hampshire (NASCAR.com/PitTalks)(9-22-2015)
UPDATE Odell to the #24? Ex #18 Joe Gibbs Racing tire changer Nick Odell is close to a deal with Hendrick Motorsports and the #24 team. After the news last Monday that Odell had been released by JGR, almost every team on pit road had some level of interest in talking with him. After sitting out Loudon, PitTalks sources say Odell is very close to finalizing his deal with HMS. If this deal goes down, then front tire changer Scott Brzozowski of the #24 becomes the man in question. Brzozowski came over to HMS a few years back after spending time on the #39 of Ryan Newman. HMS has four teams and Brzozowski is a top talent, seeing where he fits in will be the next piece in the puzzle. As far as when Odell starts changing tires for the #24, no idea. Supposedly the deal is almost done but we have not confirmed with HMS to verify.(PitTalks)(9-29-2015)
UPDATE 2: Nick Odell, who had served as #18-Kyle Busch's longtime front tire changer, will be #24-Jeff Gordon's front tire changer this weekend at Dover International Speedway. Front tire changer Scott Brzozowski, who had been on Gordon's team, moves to #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s pit crew. Brzozowski replaces Dave Mayo, who returns to a backup role. Mayo was elevated to Earnhardt's pit crew before the Chase.(NBC Sports)(10-3-2015)
Different look for Earnhardt, Jr. at Dover: Nationwide is the exclusive insurance partner of Plenti, the rewards program that lets consumers earn Plenti points at one place and use them at another, all with a single rewards card. Anyone who joins Plenti is able to collect and combine points across brands, making it easier and faster to earn and use rewards points. For a limited time, Plenti members can earn 888 points for completing an eligible auto quote in participating states. The Plenti campaign will also highlight Nationwide's Race to Vegas promotion so fans can enter to win a trip to the 2016 Las Vegas race weekend, where they will attend the race and meet Earnhardt. Visit nationwide.com/NW88JR for offer and program details. The #88 Nationwide Plenti car and campaign are examples of how Nationwide is leveraging the sponsorship to promote key initiatives that are important to growing its business and delivering tangible, distinct benefits to its members. Earnhardt has one win at the "Monster Mile," which came in the 2001 fall race, when he led the final 39 laps en route to victory. He's earned four top-five finishes and eight top-10s at the concrete oval since his trip to Victory Lane in 2001, and had a notably good weekend in the fall of 2013, starting from the pole and finishing second.(Hendrick Motorsports), see an image of the car on the #88 team paint schemes page.(9-30-2015)
Dale Jr. to serve as TV analyst for XFINITY Series in 2016 UPDATE oops: During an interview with "FOX Sports Live" co-hosts Dan O'Toole and Jay Onrait, #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr. revealed he'll join the FOX NASCAR team in the booth as a driver analyst for FOX Sports' coverage of the NASCAR XFINITY Series in 2016. "I had tweeted that I was interested in doing some XFINITY races, so I think I would like to try it," Earnhardt said in a video posted in "The Jay and Dan Podcast. (FOX) extended the offer to me that we can give it a shot. I want to go up there next year and watch a few races, or watch one race, and see what I'm getting myself into. It looks like a lot of fun." Sprint Cup drivers Jeff Gordon, Kevin Harvick, Brad Keselowski, Clint Bowyer and Danica Patrick have all taken turns behind the mic for FS1's XFINITY Series coverage this season. "All the drivers who did it ... looked great, sounded great, and they seemed to have a lot of fun doing it," Earnhardt said. "I don't know if it's a career path for me -- it just depends -- or whether I even have any talent in the booth."(FoxSports)
UPDATE: Clarification from FOX Sports Regarding the Possibility of Dale Earnhardt Jr. Working as a Race Analyst in the NASCAR XFINITY SERIES Booth in 2016: While FOX Sports has had informal conversations with Dale Earnhardt Jr. about joining the FOX Sports NASCAR XFINITY Series booth in the future, as several of his fellow racers did in 2015, nothing has been determined. FOX apologizes for the confusion.(FoxSports)(9-24-2015)
Hendrick Motorsports newest class of pit crew recruits announced: Wednesday afternoon on the Hendrick Motorsports campus in Concord, NC, the organization held its very first Signing Day ceremony to celebrate the newest class of pit crew recruits. "It's really neat to be a part of the first Signing Day ever for Hendrick Motorsports for the pit development program," Hendrick Motorsports President Marshall Carlson said. "It's a tradition in other sports. If you look at what we tried to do over the last few years really elevating our whole athletic department and these athletes - bring them in and trying to get out to a wider range of recruits - the investments we've made in coaching, the facilities, it's really fitting that we would start to do some of the traditional things that other sports do to celebrate the success that the coaches and the recruiting class are bringing to our company."
Director of Human Performance Andy Papathanassiou introduced the new athletes, several of whom had brought family and friends to take in the ceremony. "In this particular class, we brought in seven athletes," Papathanassiou said. "Our classes have ranged from seven to about a dozen. Year after year we start recruiting, gathering 50 names, knock that down to about 30 that we see in person, and we physically evaluate them. We bring in 20 for a two-day minicamp where we put pit crew equipment, pit stop stuff in their hands and then pick our recruiting class from there. These are the winners of a very long and arduous process." The pit crew recruits: Spencer Bishop, Tire Carrier; Ryan Cheek, Jackman; Rod Cox, Tire Changer; Matt Lehman, Fueler/Jackman; Mike McClure, Fueler/Jackman; Roman Perryman, Tire Changer; Max Thomusseit, Tire Carrier. More info and a quick glance at the newest developmental pit crew members at HMS site)(9-24-2015)
Earnhardt's TaxSlayer.com relationship expands to Hendrick Motorsports: TaxSlayer.com, which provides quick and affordable tax-filing solutions to its customers, announced today it has extended its partnership with driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. and his company, JR Motorsports, and expanded it to include an affiliation with Hendrick Motorsports. TaxSlayer.com will receive primary placement on Earnhardt Jr.'s #88 Chevrolet SS for one Sprint Cup Series race in 2016 and associate-brand placement through the remainder of the year with his Hendrick Motorsports team. Additionally, TaxSlayer.com will begin its seventh year as a key primary for JR Motorsports, the company owned by Earnhardt Jr. that competes primarily in the NASCAR Xfinity Series. TaxSlayer.com will receive primary placement on the #7 and #88 Chevrolet Camaros for 10 races next season.
"It has been a privilege to be associated with Dale Jr. and JR Motorsports for so long, and we're excited to add a new chapter with Hendrick Motorsports next season," said TaxSlayer.com President and CEO Jimmy Rhodes. "We have found an immense loyalty among NASCAR fans, but especially with Dale Jr.'s fans. We want to continue growing this partnership."
TaxSlayer.com has been involved in NASCAR team sponsorship since 2009. It began its affiliation with JR Motorsports in 2010, becoming the cornerstone partner for the company. Since then, JR Motorsports has won multiple races with TaxSlayer.com, including Regan Smith's popular victories at Talladega and Michigan in 2013. "TaxSlayer is one of our longest-tenured sponsors at JR Motorsports," said Earnhardt Jr. "It's quite incredible how both of our companies have grown in that time. I'm extremely loyal to them. I hope the fans are, too. We've done great things together, and I'm really looking forward to racing a TaxSlayer car in Sprint Cup next year."
The Sprint Cup race in which Earnhardt Jr. will drive the #88 TaxSlayer.com Chevrolet SS is still to be determined. The 2016 season will be Earnhardt Jr.'s 17th in Sprint Cup and ninth at Hendrick Motorsports. He has 25 career victories, eight of which have come under the Hendrick Motorsports banner, and has been voted NASCAR's Most Popular Driver 12 consecutive years.
"When a partner has success and wants to do even more, it's gratifying for everyone involved," said Rick Hendrick, owner of Hendrick Motorsports and a partner in JR Motorsports. "The TaxSlayer program has been incredibly effective, and all of us are committed to building on that foundation together. We're looking forward to seeing them across both series next season."
To celebrate the extension, TaxSlayer's red and black paint scheme will receive a makeover, as Earnhardt Jr. himself spearheaded a redesign for the 2016 season that will apply to both series. The paint scheme will be revealed Oct. 5. The 2016 campaign will mark the 12th season of Xfinity Series competition for JR Motorsports. The company has garnered 25 victories and one championship during that time.(JRM/HMS)(9-23-2015)
Pit crew changes to the #88 team: The #88 Hendrick Motorsports team has made a couple of recent changes to its pit crew. David Mayo is back as the team's front tire changer after being replaced earlier in the season by Kevin Novak. Mayo is a longtime changer replacing Novak, who spent time at Roush Fenway Racing and then the #38 car this year before getting a shot with the #88 team at Darlington and Richmond. To go along with the change made on the front, there was a change made in the rear. In late summer, Devin DelRicco replaced rear changer Joe Slingerland. DelRicco will continue in that position heading into the Chase.(PitTalks / NASCAR.com)(9-16-2015)
Earnhardt Jr. will 'step up' throwback game next year: #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr. said during Tuesday's edition of the "Dale Jr. Download" podcast on Dirty Mo Radio there's plenty of work still to do when it comes to keeping pace in embracing Darlington Raceway's throwback theme. Earnhardt enjoyed not only the fruits of a grueling weekend at the historic track, but all of the vintage touches from an industry-wide retro event. His Hendrick Motorsports #88 crew joined in the fun with a paint scheme paying tribute to Cale Yarborough in his Valvoline years, but Junior said more can be done to prepare for the next Bojangles' Southern 500. "I hope that the throwback idea at Darlington is going to stick," Earnhardt said. "I'm pretty sure it will after this weekend. There was a lot of teams that went the extra mile -- Larson and his guys, the 3 group, the Petty group did an awesome job, the Wood Brothers, they looked great. Think we're going to see this every year. At least I hope that the teams come back harder next year. I know we've got to step our game up to compete with some of these guys on the throwback schemes, so it's going to be a lot of fun. Hopefully this is something that is a bit more of a tradition over the years for Darlington."(NASCAR.com)(9-9-2015)
Earnhardt, Jr. waiting on 2016 schedule to set wedding date: Dale Earnhardt, Jr. has said he and Amy Reimann plan to wed next summer after getting engaged June 17 in Germany. With NASCAR racing nearly every weekend, there will be few options for them to choose a summer wedding. Earnhardt will be in a friend's wedding this weekend - the final off weekend of the Sprint Cup season - and is looking forward to his wedding. "I'm probably going to be doing it this time next year," Earnhardt said. "Once we get that damn schedule. I've been asking (NASCAR Vice Chairman Mike) Helton since New Hampshire what's going on." NASCAR's officials have suggested that the 2016 schedule should be released in early September.(NBC Sports)(8-30-2015)
Earnhardt Jr. to run Valvoline throwback scheme at Darlington: #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr. may be driving the Valvoline car on Sept. 6, 2015, at Darlington Raceway, but thanks to a "throwback" paint scheme, his fans will likely feel as if they're watching a race more in line with his father's early career and track opponents. Earnhardt and Valvoline's presence on the Darlington track at the upcoming NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event will pay homage to the brand's storied history in motor sports with an early-1980s look inspired by Valvoline cars driven by some of the era's racing icons, including Cale Yarborough, Ron Bouchard, Neil Bonnett and Buddy Baker. "I love the history of the sport and really enjoy paint schemes from the past," said Earnhardt, NASCAR's 12-time most popular driver. "To be able to run a car inspired by many of my racing idols is pretty special. Valvoline has been involved in NASCAR for a long time, and it's awesome they wanted to do a program like this at Darlington."
The one-race sponsorship of Earnhardt's #88 Chevy marks an elevated partnership between Hendrick Motorsports and Valvoline, which in September 2013 announced a four-year agreement that kicked off last season. The new sponsorship at Darlington represents Valvoline's first primary paint scheme since that time. "As Valvoline approaches its 150th anniversary, we are proud to support Hendrick Motorsports and Dale Earnhardt Jr. at the upcoming 'throwback' Southern 500 by paying tribute to the legendary drivers who have contributed to the legacy of Valvoline racing," said Sam Mitchell, Valvoline president. "We look forward to being part of yet another exciting competition at Darlington for the history books."
"I remember our first Southern 500 win back in 1986," said Hendrick Motorsports owner Rick Hendrick, whose teams have earned a record 14 Sprint Cup victories at Darlington. "It was an incredible era that featured some amazingly talented drivers, and it's exciting to see Valvoline recognize them with this paint scheme. We're extremely proud of our partnership and delighted to see it grow with this program."
In addition to the 1980s-inspired red and blue paint scheme, Earnhardt's fire suit will pay homage to this specific era of racing history. The two-time Daytona 500 winner helped design Valvoline's "throwback" look after reviewing the various styles of legacy cars and drivers. He also worked alongside performance and protective footwear and apparel designer Alpinestars to develop a suit that would take NASCAR fans back 30-plus years. The Darlington paint scheme also sets the tone for Valvoline: LEGACY, a program ahead of the brand's 150th anniversary celebration in 2016 designed specifically to tell the story of its motor sports history, commitment to excellence and dedication to developing cutting-edge motor oil. As part of Valvoline: LEGACY, NASCAR fans will soon have access to a special video series, which will be available via the Valvoline YouTube channel, in advance of the Sunday, Sept. 6 race. These LEGACY videos will feature Earnhardt, as well as Yarborough (1982 Darlington winner, NASCAR Hall of Famer and past Valvoline driver) and Ray Evernham (three-time Sprint Cup Series champion crew chief, television broadcaster and NASCAR Hall of Fame nominee). Additionally, a limited-edition die cast replica of Earnhardt's No. 88 Valvoline Chevrolet SS will be available in participating Wal-Mart stores across the United States beginning on Aug. 31.(Hendrick Motorsports / Valvoline PR), see images of the car on Jayski.com's #88 Team Schemes page.(8-24-2015)
Bus company suing Hendrick: The trustee for bus company DesignLine is suing to recover $300,000 from car dealer Rick Hendrick and his NASCAR race team, according to a bankruptcy court filing. DesignLine issued Hendrick three payments of $100,000 each in 2011 and 2012 after the company's chairman borrowed $800,000 from Hendrick in 2010. Buster Glosson, a retired Air Force lieutenant general, borrowed $800,000 from Hendrick in February 2010. The suit states DesignLine "received no benefit" from the borrowed money. The remaining $500,000 owed was amended to a promissory note in 2012, according to the suit. Glosson and his son, former DesignLine CEO Brad Glosson, bought and moved the bus company to Charlotte in 2006. Elaine Rudisill, the trustee for DesignLine, could not be reached Tuesday afternoon. In the suit, she refers to a DesignLine memo in 2011 calling for monthly payments of $100,000 to Hendrick for design, testing and advice on suppliers. DesignLine records "do not reflect that (Hendrick) provided any of the ... assistance" and "later reflect an amended memorandum ... that HMS is owed monies from the 2009-10 time period." A Hendrick spokesman declined to comment.(Charlotte Business Journal)(8-14-2015)
Congrats to Ray & Erin Evernham on the birth of their daughter, Cate Susan Evernham, Saturday morning. Evernham works at Hendrick Motorsports.(7-25-2015)
Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. [the band] changes name: After years spent named after the nonexistent son of a famous race car driver who himself is already the son of yet another famous driver, the band Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. has decided to change its name. According to a post on its website, the group will now be known as JR JR, with its two members claiming they've grown out of the gimmicky moniker. With a new album on the way in the semi-near future, the move could be a smart one. Then again, changing a band's name midway through its career might also be confusing to its already existing fans. In its Facebook post, the group makes it clear that the name change has nothing to do with the actual Dale Earnhardt Jr., choosing to include a letter he sent them in 2011 where he says he's not only cool with their name, but actually enjoys their music.(A.V. Club)(7-16-2015)
Earnhardt, Jr. receives ChalleNGe Champion Award: Prior to Saturday night's at Kentucky Speedway, Dale Earnhardt Jr. received a special award. It was the 2015 ChalleNGe Champion Award from the National Guard Youth Foundation. The National Guard Youth Foundation is a non-profit organization dedicated to addressing the nation's school dropout crisis by giving youth a second chance through the National Guard. The National Guard Youth ChalleNGe Program is conducted at 35 academies across the country and consists of a five-and-a-half month residential phase and a 12-month post residential phase during which mentors continue to provide guidance and support to graduates. In July 2013, Earnhardt raced with the NGYF logo on his car at Kentucky and invited a few NGYF cadets to attend the race. They received special tour of Hendrick Motorsports and a VIP experience at the track.(Hendrick Motorsports)(7-13-2015)
Dale Earnhardt Jr. wins at Daytona: #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr. won the Coke Zero 400 Sprint Cup Series race at Daytona International Speedway in a Green-White-Checkered finish for his 2nd win of the season, 4th win at Daytona, 10th restrictor plate race win and 25th career win. Earnhardt Jr. led the most laps at 96.
There was a big wreck at the end of the race when #11-Hamlin and #4-Harvick made contact, turning the #11. #3-Dillon's car hit the #11 and launched over the field of cars and into the catchfence. The catchefence was damaged but kept the car on the track. Reports had three fans suffering minor injuries. The #3 Chevy was destroyed, the engine ended up in the grass, but Dillon was uninjured, waving at the crowd after exiting the car.
Unofficially #48-Johnson finished 2nd [his 45th career 2nd place finish] followed by #11-Hamlin, #4-Harvick, #41-Busch, #24-Gordon, #3-Dillon, #31-Newman, #6-Bayne and #15-Bowyer.
The race was rain delayed until it started 11:42pm/et.
The first wreck was on lap 3 when #38-Gilliland, who was running 4th, came down in front of #15-Bowyer, touching the nose of the #15 and spinning the #38. Others involved trying to avoid the #38 were: #9-Hornish Jr., #10-Patrick, #16-Biffle, #22-Logano, #26-Burton, #32-Labonte, #46-Annett and #62-Gaughan.
Harvick increases the drivers points lead to 63 points over #88-Earnhardt Jr., who moved to 2nd. #78-Truex Jr. who came into the race in 2nd place, fell to fifth, after wrecking and finishing 38th during one of the big wrecks.
#18-Busch wrecked early but recovered got two free passes and finished 17th.
Busch is 128 points out of 30th (to get in the Chase) and needs around a 13th average finish to crack the top 30 in the 9 races before the Chase.
There were 22 lead changes among 12 drivers. There were 9 cautions for 43 yellow flag laps.
The average speed was 134.941mph.
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 OFFICIAL race results & points standings on the Official Race & Points Report (pdf).(7-5-2015)
Earnhardt Jr. and Gordon comment on the Confederate flag issue: #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr. and #24-Jeff Gordon met with media and discussed many issues, including thoughts about the Confederate flag, the transcripts in part:
Q) WHAT'S YOUR TAKE ON THE STATEMENT NASCAR ISSUED THIS WEEK ON THE CONFEDERATE FLAG?
Earnhardt Jr. "I've made my comments on the Confederate Flag several times and I stand behind NASCAR's stance to remove it. I think it is offensive to an entire race. It really does nothing for anybody to be there, flying. It belongs in the history books and that's about it."(Team Chevy)
WHAT WAS YOUR REACTION TO NASCAR'S STATEMENT THIS WEEK REGARDING THE CONFEDERATE FLAG?
Gordon: "As far as the confederate flag I think that... I know how we approach it at Hendrick Motorsports and that is everything that we can control. We have eliminated the ability to use it in anyway or it show up in any of the things that we are involved with. I think that is the stance I see that NASCAR has taken and have had that stance for several years. To me I'm in support of what they are doing. It's a delicate balance. We race all over, but the South is an area where we have a lot of fans. Everyone has different opinions and expression of that. I support NASCAR and the stance that they are taking."(Team Chevy)(6-27-2015)
Earnhardt welcomes leadership role: As a member of NASCAR's newly formed drivers' council, #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr. has had the ears of the fans, drivers and NASCAR in the past four weeks. And now that he's more comfortable than ever about giving his views on the sport, Earnhardt appears to relish his place on the council, which met with NASCAR executives for the first time May 30. At a promotional appearance on a hot midweek afternoon a couple of weeks ago for Amp energy drinks, one of his sponsors, Earnhardt acknowledged that he's more opinionated now than he was when he started racing. "All the drivers have very strong opinions, and we all feel like we have a handful of answers of things that we could change to make this sport better," Earnhardt said before going onstage. "I don't know that my ideas are better than anyone else's. We all sort of get together and talk it over."
Being elected as an inaugural member of the council shows that Earnhardt could fill the role that his father once played in the garage as the person who can walk into the NASCAR hauler and truly have the ear -- and respect -- of NASCAR brass. Jeff Gordon somewhat assumed that role in the 2000s. Earnhardt isn't necessarily ready to fill that role when Gordon retires after this season, nor does Earnhardt feel that one driver should have that role. The council membership is designed to change year to year; it includes the top driver from each manufacturer, some past champions, the top rookie and other members selected to represent a cross section of the standings. "You take a little pride in that your peers respect you," Earnhardt said about his selection to the council. "I think we all share that respect for each other and won't be on the council every year. The way the voting is with the points and everything and the way the guys are kind of chosen and locked in, it will change every year, which is going to be good because it will get fresh guys in there with new ideas."
"There's a lot of guys that are not on the council that probably belong on the council," Earnhardt said. "There's more drivers, certainly, qualified, deserving and smart. There's a lot of guys with a lot of amazing ideas that should be in that room. But NASCAR thought it would be good to sort of keep it down to a small number so the conversations are reasonable." Earnhardt isn't sure what impact the council will have this year. He believes this group is laying the foundation. "It won't really bear fruit right off the bat," Earnhardt said. "It will take a few meetings. Let's get down the road several months so we can understand how to talk to each other and how to work together. Then this next crop of guys, whoever comes in the council next year, will be more productive then."(see full article at ESPN.com)(6-23-2015)
Microsoft Windows 10 to Sponsor Earnhardt Jr.: A global leader in technology and innovation, Microsoft has ramped up its involvement in NASCAR with new multi-year official agreements with both the sanctioning body and 11-time Sprint Cup Series champions Hendrick Motorsports. The collaborations designate Microsoft as an Official Technology Partner of NASCAR and a major technology partner of Hendrick Motorsports.
Hendrick Motorsports will adopt the Windows 10 platform and Microsoft Azure to deliver technology solutions to help improve performance on and off the track. In addition, Microsoft will support the upcoming launch of Windows 10 with primary sponsorship of Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s #88 Chevrolet SS at Sonoma Raceway on June 28 and Pocono Raceway on Aug. 2. Windows 10 will be the Official Operating System of Hendrick Motorsports.
"NASCAR and Hendrick Motorsports are perpetual innovators in motorsports," said Steve Guggenheimer, Corporate Vice President, Developer Experience and Evangelism at Microsoft. "This sport demands constant innovation, to have its boundaries pushed, so that the sport delivers the exciting experiences expected by fans. The Windows mobile inspection application we launched last year is a great example of how innovative solutions can push boundaries and make the racing experience even better. We're looking forward to the next solutions that we can deploy with both NASCAR and Hendrick Motorsports to push each of our organizations forward."
Microsoft will utilize two-time Daytona 500 champion Earnhardt as a spokesperson to promote Windows 10, which will be available July 29 as a free upgrade for qualified Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 devices.* In addition, its new multi-year partnership with Hendrick Motorsports will incorporate technology solutions and training across the team, including competition, business and IT functions.
"I'm a big technology user and really enjoy Microsoft products," said Earnhardt, who is NASCAR's 12-time most popular driver. "Kicking off the Hendrick Motorsports relationship with Windows 10 is a unique opportunity, and there's no doubt our ongoing technical partnership will help us raise the bar in many areas. It's great to see Microsoft is having such a positive experience with NASCAR and wants to do more across the sport. We're excited to be a part of that."(HMS), see image of the scheme on the #88 Team Schemes page.(6-22-2015)
Congrats - Dale Earnhardt Jr.: #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr. announced on twitter that he and girlfriend Amy Reimann are engaged. No date or details mentioned.
While vacationing in Germany learning about his ancestors during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series off-week, Dale Earnhardt Jr. proposed to long-time girlfriend Amy Reimann. And she said "yes."(HMS)(6-17-2015)
Earnhardt Jr. comments on retirement: After watching #24-Jeff Gordon compete in his final season in NASCAR, #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr. says his final lap around the NASCAR circuit may soon follow. "I'm turning 41," he said Friday in a press conference at Michigan International Speedway. "So it's on the horizon, as far as my retirement."
"I have to watch Jeff (Gordon) and talk to Jeff (Gordon)," Earnhardt said. "(I have to) talk to other drivers, like Dale Jarrett - guys that I trust - about their decisions and what they would have done differently and what to keep your eye on, be prepared for, what shocked them or what they weren't prepared for. You know, what was their decision like years later? Do they feel like they made the right decision?"
"Do you run as long as you possibly can, even stay longer than you should? Do you go out on top when you feel like you're competitive? Those are questions that a lot of drivers have to answer eventually for themselves."(Sporting News)(6-14-2015)
Drivers met with NASCAR on Saturday UPDATE:In a first of its kind, NASCAR met with a group of Sprint Cup drivers for about two hours Saturday night, discussing safety, competition, attendance and more. #11-Denny Hamlin, #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr., and #4-Kevin Harvick confirmed they were among about eight drivers in the meeting, which was held in the Kent Room at the Dover Downs Hotel & Casino. It marked the first time that a council of drivers - selected by their peers - had met with NASCAR in such a formal setting. "The drivers got together and organized a vote and all the drivers voted for the guys they wanted on this council," Earnhardt said before Sunday's race at Dover International Speedway. "NASCAR asked us to do that so we could get together and just have a better ability to communicate. It's just a better way to have discussions." A source told NBC Sports that NASCAR was represented by Mike Helton, vice chairman, and Steve O'Donnell, executive vice president and chief racing development officer, among others. "The drivers, we always talk amongst ourselves anyway, but having that open line of communication to NASCAR has never been this open before," Hamlin said before Sunday's race at Dover International Speedway. "You look around the room and you're like, 'Wow, this is a monumental time to where you've got the powers that be and some of the greatest drivers talking about how we can make this sport better." The meeting comes after a recent spat of complaints from drivers about the rules and racing. So what was discussed? "There was talk of competition," Earnhardt said. "What we think about the new package and the direction that they want to go and what we're doing with tires and testing." NASCAR recently came out with a rules update eliminating the 2016 tire testing at all Goodyear tire tests until October. Hamlin said safety was a big topic discussed. "We talked about a lot of safety issues we want to see changed at various racetracks," Hamlin said. "We went racetrack by racetrack, and I feel like we're going to make our sport better." NASCAR did not offer details of the meeting. Brett Jewkes, NASCAR senior vice president and chief communications officer, issued a statement: "NASCAR meets with drivers frequently on a wide range of topics. As part of our ongoing commitment to foster dialogue between all stakeholders, we've met formally with drivers on several occasions this season, including here at Dover. We'll meet with them again later in the season as normal course of business. The meetings have been productive and we find the dialogue very valuable." Hamlin said he's unsure how often the group will meet but expected it would be "at least a few times a year."(NBC Sports)(5-31-2015)
UPDATE: Three-time NASCAR champion #14-Tony Stewart confirmed he was among a group of drivers that met with NASCAR officials for about two hours Saturday evening at the Dover Downs Hotel and Casino adjacent to Dover International Speedway. Stewart came away impressed by the intent and encouraged by the content of the discussions. He said it was the first time in his 17 years in NASCAR racing he can remember this kind of informal get-together session between the sanctioning body and a group of drivers that also included Denny Hamlin, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kevin Harvick and Greg Biffle among others. "They want to sit down, and they want to listen," Stewart told NASCAR.com on Sunday just prior to the FedEx 400 Benefiting Autism Speaks. I think it's just everyone staying on the same page which is good. It was a good thing, it was positive and makes me feel good about our sport that they want to keep everyone staying on the same page. I'd call it very, very positive."(NASCAR.com)(6-1-2015)
Hendrick enshrined in North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame: Friday night [May 15] in Raleigh, North Carolina, Rick Hendrick was honored as a Hall of Famer. Along with nine other inductees, the owner of Hendrick Motorsports and Hendrick Automotive Group was enshrined in the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame. "It's such an honor for me to be here tonight," Hendrick said on stage after being introduced by fellow North Carolina Sports Hall of Famer Woody Durham. Joining Hendrick in the Class of 2015 were Jeff Bostic, Joe Bostic, John Clougherty, Freddie Combs, Gene Littles, Jerry McGee, Lenox Rawlings, Charlotte Smith and Andrea Stinson. "Congratulations to all the inductees here tonight," Hendrick said. "I feel kind of humbled, because most of you folks have earned your status on your own. You are great ball players, great referees, and with me, I take a team. I have to rely on a lot of people." He then asked his "teammates" from both Hendrick Automotive Group and Hendrick Motorsports to stand and be recognized. Under his leadership, Hendrick Motorsports has grown from five employees to more than 600, while Hendrick Automotive Group has expanded from nine employees to 10,000.(HMS)(5-17-2015)
Dale Earnhardt Jr. wins at Talladega: #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr. won the GEICO 500 Sprint Cup Series race at Talladega Superspeedway for his 1st win of the season, 6th win at Talladega and his 24th career win. The win is the first Sprint Cup Series race win for #88 crew chief Greg Ives.
#48-Johnson finished 2nd [the 45th 2nd place finish of his career] followed by #27-Menard, #21-Blaney (best career finish), #78-Truex Jr., #31-Newman, #9-Hornish Jr., #4-Harvick, #11-Hamlin and #98-Wise (his career best finish).
Harvick maintains the points / Chase lead with 394, 40 points over #78-Truex Jr.
Pole winner #24-Gordon led 47 laps and ran up front most of the race until late in the race when he sped on pit road and had to start at the rear, then was caught up in #19-Edwards wreck at the end of the race.
There were 27 lead changes among 15 drivers. There were 6 cautions for 23 yellow flag laps.
The average speed was 159.487mph.
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 OFFICIAL race results & points standings on the Official Race & Points Report (pdf).(5-3-2015)
Earnhardt, Jr. talks about safety efforts:
What are your thoughts on the new tire barriers right in front of pit road? are you surprised that there are still spots in some tracks where there is absolutely nothing but concrete in places where drivers could potentially end up?
#88-Dale Earnhardt, Jr. "I think that the changes that were made in the last 10 to 15 years to help safety have been great. We put barriers where we felt like were common places the cars hit. But as we found out over the last couple of years, specifically, we'll find all the empty spots where there aren't any barriers. And I think that NASCAR is taking some steps to make it right. The tracks are taking some steps to move it along. You never can be safe enough. You never can do enough to be safe and keep the competitors safe and keep the fans safe. You never can do enough. So you shouldn't ever stop trying. But unfortunately, it takes an accident like that to wake everybody up and make things happen. I know that NASCAR was very disappointed that there wasn't a SAFER barrier on the wall at Daytona and that Kyle (Busch) was injured. And it's real unfortunate to have to go through that whole process to really fire this thing kind of back up and get people moving on it.
"But, at the same time, I appreciate the things that they're doing. And I know that the tire stuff is temporary. The tires are better than the concrete wall, but at the same time those tires can be a problem when you get into those. So I guess their intent, over time, is to get SAFER barriers where they feel like they need it. And until then, we'll have these tires in those areas. I'm happy with the things the tracks are doing. You look back at the cockpit of these cars when I first started driving them, and look at the advances we've made inside the cars and outside the cars, and when I was racing in 1998 and '99 and 2000; and when I was racing Late Models without headrests and neck restraints, I never once was worried about anything ever happening to me. You get complacent, I think.(Chevy Racing)(3-28-2015)
Earnhardt Jr. tops NASCAR's Highest-Paid Drivers: #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr. ranks as the NASCAR's top earner for a seventh straight year with earnings of $23.8 million (Jeff Gordon was the last driver to finish ahead of Earnhardt in 2007). NASCAR's licensed merchandise sales have plummeted, but Earnhardt remains the sport's biggest star and top seller. His 2014 Daytona 500 Race Win die-cast was the best-selling die-cast in the history of Lionel Racing. Earnhardt had five of the top six selling model cars last year. Forbes earnings estimates include salaries and endorsements, as well as the drivers' share of winnings/bonuses and licensing income for the 2014 season. The top 12 banked $187 million last year, versus $192 million in 2013. There is a dramatic drop in driver earnings after the top 12 with sponsorship money and the best drivers flowing to the elite teams in recent years. #48-Jimmie Johnson ranks No. 2 with earnings of $22.5 million last year. Johnson is in the final year of his contract with Hendrick Motorsports, but is working on an extension through 2017 to match the term of his car sponsor Lowes.
#24-Jeff Gordon banked $18.6 million last year, third best in the sport, and his merchandise sales were the second highest. Expect a bump this year after Gordon announced in January that 2015 would be his last year driving full-time in NASCAR. Rounding out the top five earners are #4-Kevin Harvick ($15.5 million) and #11-Denny Hamlin ($15.2 million). #10-Danica Patrick ranks No. 8 with earnings of $13.8 million.(see full story and list at Forbes.com)(2-19-2015)
NASCAR's Most Valuable Teams: NASCAR's most valuable team, Hendrick Motorsports, is now worth $350 million, and it boasts the sport's most valuable sponsorship portfolio. Last year the team collected nearly $120 million from sponsors alone, while only two other teams generated that much in total revenue. The biggest source of that earning power is the four stars that Hendrick has behind the wheel: #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr., #24-Jeff Gordon, #48-Jimmie Johnson and #5-Kasey Kahne.
Second behind Hendrick and closing the gap is Joe Gibbs Racing, up 18% to a value of $201 million this year. Gibbs has maintained strong relationships with companies like FedEx, Dollar General and Mars, which sponsors Kyle Busch's famous M&Ms car. And in 2015 the driver lineup of #18-Kyle Busch, #11-Denny Hamlin and #20-Matt Kenseth will be joined by #19-Carl Edwards as Gibbs expands to four cars. It will be only the third team to do so this year, joining Hendrick and Stewart-Haas, which went to four last season.
And Stewart-Haas, now at a value of $186 million, is third on the list. That 26% surge in value over last year should be little surprise to fans of the sport. The team has been consistently improving, and revenue has climbed from $68 million in 2010 to $120 million last year. The most recent increase was thanks in large part to Kevin Harvick, who joined the team last year. Harvick not only brought a 22-race sponsorship with Budweiser over from Richard Childress Racing - last year the team ranked second in total sponsorship income with around $87 million - but he also then won the 2014 Sprint Cup in the premier of NASCAR's new Chase format. Harvick's stellar season was worth $12.8 million in total winnings; only one other driver managed to break $9 million.(see full story and list at Forbes.com)(2-19-2015)
Earnhardt Jr. having too much fun to think about retiring: With Hendrick Motorsports teammate #24-Jeff Gordon ready to call it quits at the end of the upcoming season, #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr. was asked Thursday about his own eventual retirement. After all, Earnhardt is only three years younger than Gordon. Will the 40-year-old still be racing past the age Gordon is now? "Jeff made his decision based on factors in his life, whether it be his health or his kids," Earnhardt said. "... I don't have any back issues and I don't have any kids on the way. I don't have any factors." Right now, Earnhardt said he can't think about quitting because he's enjoying his job so much. He said the last five years have been the most fun he's ever had driving a race car. "I didn't even know I could have this much fun," he said with a grin. "Last year, I felt like a kid. I had the same feeling I had when I would drive down to Myrtle Beach with my Late Model. We were just on top of the world having so much fun. That freedom came back in the last couple years to just enjoy it and just release the pressure. So that's made me really think I can do this a lot longer. I think I'll stop racing when my health is an issue or I don't feel like I'm in a competitive car or I feel like I've lost a step."(USA Today)(1-30-2015)
Earnhardt Jr. interested in driving in Truck Series race: #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr. on Thursday admitted an interest in making at least one start for JR Motorsports' new Camping World Truck Series program, which will field a part-time entry for 17-year-old Cole Custer this season. "I've never driven a truck before and I've always had that interest to race in the truck," Earnhardt Jr. said. "I'd tell you I would run Martinsville, today, but Cole's going to get all the shorter tracks due to his age, and we need to get him that experience when we can, and it's a great opportunity at Martinsville for him to run. So if I run a race, it'll be at a bigger track where Cole's not quite cleared to run through NASCAR's process. It ain't going to be Daytona."(FoxSports)(1-30-2015)
Congress cuts National Guard sponsorship funds: Congress has stripped funding for the Army National Guard's sponsorship of motor sports following revelations that advertising on race cars did little to generate recruits. Lawmakers cut the Guard's advertising budget by $13.8 million, the same amount the service had requested to sponsor race cars, said Maj. Earl Brown, a Guard spokesman. In August, the Guard announced that it was ending its sponsorships of Dale Earnhardt Jr. of NASCAR and Graham Rahal in the Indy Racing League. In 2014, the Guard spent $105 million on advertising aimed at attracting recruits and enhancing its image. That included sponsorships for NASCAR that cost $32 million and $12 million on IndyCar. The Guard has said it sponsorship of NASCAR was aimed at building "brand awareness" for the service.(USA Today)(12-15-2014)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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 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)
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)
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, go to garryhill.com.(2-16-2005)
Daytona International Speedway
Daytona Beach, FL
Sunday, February 19, 2017, 3:00pm/et
Happy Hour Practice:
Saturday, February 25, 2017, TBA
Born in DECEMBER:
4 Dean Johnson, Evelyn Andrews, Doug Keller
5 J.D. McDuffie, Jim Paschal, Jim Hurtubise
6 Stacey Witzke, Christian Elder
7 Geoff Smith, Dylan Lupton, Paul Moore, Richmond Gage
8 Susan Adamczyk (sister), Garry Hill, Kevin Harvick, Ryan Newman, Kerry Earnhardt, Jason Ratcliff, Nadine Lubejko, John Cohen, Zachary Jarrett
9 Tomy Drissi, Coy Gibbs, Brad Teague, Steve Richards
10 Mike 'Jimbo' Barrientos, Makayla Ann McSwain, Jerry Honeycut
11 Frankie Adamczyk, Mariah Belber, Eric McClure, Chris Horn, Tony Eury Sr., Jon Bernal
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 Jeff Beck, Eli Gold, Lance McGrew
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 Monsam
20 Erin Marco, Taylor Nicole Earnhardt, Kinsley Parsons
21 Daniel Knost, Travis Kittleson, Michael McDowell
22 David Pearson, Owen Larson
23 Fr. Steven Janoski, Greg Biffle, Peter Sospenzo, Ray Dunlap, Chris Cook, Addison Frye
24 David Ragan, Mike Curb, Krista Marie Allison, Mike Gooch
25 Jesus Christ, Charles Comstock, Randy Earnhardt, Jimmy Buffett, Starr Elliott, Butch Lamoreux, Curtis W. Key, Noel Schafer
26 Ben Kennedy, Blair Makenzie Nemechek, Josh Mick
27 Mike Laughlin, Don Radebaugh
28 Jack Ingram, Nelson Stacy, Brittany Wallace, Joyce Kearns
29 Waddell Wilson, Boston Reid, Mike Bagley, Owen Kearns Jr., Hal Martin, Jessica Stroupe, Harold Smith, Ray Kelly
30 Fred Lorenzen, L.D. Ottinger, Donnie Mergard, Ryan Hemphill, Kole Kahne, Cooper Berrier, Shane Huffman, Burt Myers
31 Ryan Blaney, Riley Craven, Benny Ertel, Joe Hicks, Dorthy Schrader, Beth Simons-Dykes, John Wes Townley