2016 #95 Driver / Sponsors:
1) Daytona - 2/21, Ty Dillon / Cheerios
2nd car, #59, Michael McDowell, Thrivent Financial(2)/K-LOVE
2) Atlanta - 2/28, Michael McDowell, Thrivent Financial(2)
3) Las Vegas - 3/6, McDowell, WRL General Contractors
4) Phoenix - 3/13, McDowell, Thrivent(3)
5) Auto Club - 3/20, McDowell, WRL General Contractors
6) Martinsville - 4/3, McDowell, K-LOVE
7) Texas - 4/9, Ty Dillon / Nexium24
8) Bristol - 4/17, McDowell, K-LOVE
9) Richmond - 4/24, McDowell, WRL General Contractors/MastiClean
10) Talladega - 5/1, McDowell, Thrivent(4)
11) Kansas - 5/7, Ty Dillon / TBA
12) Dover - 5/15, TBA
Charlotte, Sprint Showdown - 5/20, McDowell, Thrivent(5)
13) Charlotte - 5/29, TBA
14) Pocono - 6/5, TBA
15) Michigan - 6/12, TBA
16) Sonoma - 6/28, McDowell, KLOVE
17) Daytona - 7/2, TBA
18) Kentucky - 7/9, Ty Dillon / TBA
19) New Hampshire - 7/17, TBA
20) Indianapolis - 7/24, McDowell, Thrivent(6)
21) Pocono - 7/31, TBA
22) Watkins Glen - 8/7, McDowell, Thrivent(7)
23) Bristol - 8/20, McDowell, Thrivent(8)
24) Michigan - 8/28, McDowell, Thrivent(9)
25) Darlington - 9/4, McDowell, Thrivent(10)
26) Richmond - 9/10, TBA
27) Chicago - 9/18, McDowell, Thrivent(11)
28) New Hampshire - 9/25, TBA
29) Dover - 10/2, ?Ty Dillon / TBA
30) Charlotte - 10/8, McDowell, Thrivent(12)
31) Kansas - 10/16, McDowell, Thrivent(13)
32) Talladega - 10/23, TBA
33) Martinsville - 10/30, TBA
34) Texas - 11/6, McDowell, Thrivent(14)
35) Phoenix - 11/13, TBA
36) Homestead - 11/20, McDowell, Thrivent(15)
Contract Status: Drivers: 2016; Primary Sponsors: 2016
Ty Dillon still working on Sprint Cup plans: Ty Dillon talked to the media Friday at Talladega Superspeedway;
HOW MUCH DO YOU THINK GETTING CHOSEN FOR THIS HIGH PROFILE JOB REPLACING TONY HAS HELPED YOUR PROSPECTS OF GETTING A FULL-TIME CUP RIDE? WHERE DOES IT STAND WITH WHAT YOU HAVE LINED UP FOR NEXT SEASON?
"I think it's helped a lot. I was hoping to maybe be full-time this year in the Sprint Cup series about this time last year. That is where I kind of had my goals set, my eyes set, but the opportunity didn't come along. I can't thank Stewart-Haas and their organization enough for giving me the opportunity to fill in this year with Tony being out. Not only has it helped me with my career and getting better as a race car driver, but it's helped me show people that I can get the job done in other equipment too."
ANY UPDATE ON NEXT SEASON?
"I can't tell you that (laughs). No, there are a lot of good things going on. That is about as far as I'll take it."
MANAGEMENT TOLD ME LAST WEEK THEY WOULD LIKE TO SEE YOU IN A CUP CAR FULL-TIME, BUT THEY WOULD ALSO LIKE TO FIND SPONSORSHIP THAT WAS SIMILAR TO WHAT CHASE ELLIOTT HAD. WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING AT AS FAR AS SPONSORSHIP GOES?
"Right now anything suits my brand. If we can get that kind of sponsorship I'm fine with supporting anything and exposing anything. That is definitely our goal is for RCR is to find a sponsor that we can grow with over the next couple of years similar to what Chase has done. There are other opportunities that could come along to provide me to be able to run full-time in the Sprint Cup Series. I feel like I'm ready to be in the series full-time as a driver mentally and physically. This year I'm focusing on winning the Xfinity Series championship. Hopefully, make my prospect a little bit better and hopefully that opportunity comes along."(Chevy Racing PR)(4-30-2015)
MastiClean featured on the #95: The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series will take on Richmond International Raceway this Sunday, with driver Michael McDowell piloting the #95 WRL General Contractors Chevrolet SS for Circle Sport-Leavine Family Racing (CSLFR). As part of the NASCAR Race to Green initiative, CSLFR is highlighting their partnership with MastiClean this weekend at Richmond. MastiClean is a multi-purpose green cleaning solution that works on applications at home or on the job. The race team utilizes the multi-purpose cleaner for oils and grease, a scrubbing wipe for hand cleaning and surface prep, and a glass cleaner in the race shop everyday. MastiClean will be featured on the side quarter panels of the #95 Chevrolet during the Richmond race weekend.(Circle Sport-Leavine Family Racing)(4-22-2016)
Ty Dillon returns to the #95 at Texas: The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series switches gears this week, leaving short track racing behind in favor of the 1.5-mile tri-oval of Texas Motor Speedway. Ty Dillon will return to the #95 for his second race of the season with Circle Sport-Leavine Family Racing. Dillon will pilot the #95 Nexium 24HR Chevrolet SS in his Sprint Cup debut at Texas, but is no stranger to racing at Texas. The 24-year-old has never finished outside the top-15 in his 10 Camping World Truck and XFINITY Series starts at Texas, which includes a truck win in 2013. Texas will always be a special race for CSLFR partners Bob and Sharon Leavine, who moved to the state in 1985.(Circle Sport-Leavine Family Racing).(4-7-2016)
Hillman suing Circle Sport over charter: A Sprint Cup team owner's lawsuit seeks the charter NASCAR granted his former partner. Hillman Racing, team owner Mike Hillman and partners Doug Fuller and Matt Miller filed suit Friday in North Carolina Superior Court in Iredell County against former partner Joe Falk, Circle Sport, Leavine Family Racing and Circle Sport-Leavine Family Racing. Hillman Racing and its partners seek a judgment in excess of $25,000, punitive damages, rights to ownership of the #33 team, its charter and all the profits and benefits that Circle Sport-Leavine Family Racing's #95 car enjoys. Falk aligned with Leavine Family Racing before this season to form Circle Sport-Leavine Family Racing. As part of the merger, the No. 95 was maintained but inherited the #33 team's points and performance, making it eligible for one of the 36 Sprint Cup charters NASCAR granted before the season. Hillman Racing's #40 was not granted a charter because it had not competed full-time the past three seasons. The complaint by Hillman Racing states that Falk improperly entered into an agreement with Leavine Family Racing.
Court documents state that for the 2015 season, the partnership [between Hillman and Falk] agreed to divert more resources to the #40 car, making it the flagship car. The partners agreed to allow Richard Childress Racing to operate the #33 car for multiple races in return for a payment of $25,000 for all races except the Daytona 500 (in addition to other details regarding the payment of purse and plan money, etc.). RCR would pay $75,000 for the Daytona 500. The complaint alleges that before the Daytona 500 Hillman "discovered that Falk directed a sponsor for the 40 car to write the sponsorship check (for funds due from the 2014 season) payable to Circle Sport and not Hillman Racing. Of course, the parties had all previously agreed and understood that sponsorship funds were to be utilized to fund racing operations, for which Hillman Racing incurred substantial debt." After the Daytona 500, according to the complaint, Hillman and Falk agreed to terminate their partnership after the 2015 season.
Among the agreements the complaint states is that following the 2015 season, Circle Sport and Falk would "transfer all of their right, title and interest in and to the 33 points, and to all other property acquired by the Partnership to the remaining partners or an entity to be designated by them." In March 2015, then-counsel for Hillman Racing drafted a written "Purchase Agreement" for the termination of the partnership and transfer of assets, including the No. 33 car's points. The complaint states that Falk initially did not respond with any objection but later failed and refused to sign the agreement.
The complaint states that in Oct. 2015 Hillman was informed by NASCAR personnel that material terms of the charter system had been agreed upon. Court documents state that NASCAR informed Hillman that the field would be reduced from 43 to 40 cars and that 36 would receive charters. Hillman was informed that the #33 would receive a charter but not the #40.
In late January 2016, Circle Sport announced its merger with Leavine Family Racing. The complaint states that Hillman and his partners were not included in the discussions with Leavine and that the announcement came as a "surprise." The complaint states: "As a results of the circumstances described ... the 40 points are of negligible value, the Partnership is unable to race full-time during the 2016 race season, Hillman and Hillman Racing have no ability to pay for the significant debt incurred in the 2013, 2014 and 2015 race seasons, and the remaining partners have been forced to liquidate many of the Partnership's remaining assets."
See much more at NBC Sports.(3-23-2016)
Ty Dillon expected to run the #14 starting at Atlanta UPDATE: Ty Dillon is expected to drive the #14 Chevy for Tony Stewart at Atlanta, Phoenix, Auto Club Speedway and Talladega, a source with knowledge of the deal but not authorized to comment told NBC Sports. Nothing has been finalized. Stewart-Haas Racing is not expected to announce who will drive the car at Atlanta until the Wednesday after the Daytona 500. Dillon is expected to drive the races with Bass Pro sponsorship of the #14 car. Bass Pro, which has backed Dillon for years, is scheduled to be a co-primary sponsor with Mobil 1 for the Feb. 28 race at Atlanta, the March 13 race at Phoenix and the March 20 race at Auto Club Speedway. Bass Pro is scheduled to be the car's primary sponsor for the May 1 race at Talladega. Dillon's next race Circle Sport-Leavine Family Racing in the #95 is expected to be at Texas in April. Also, a candidate to drive Stewart's car at Las Vegas is Brendan Gaughan, a Las Vegas native, whose family owned South Point Hotel and Casino backs him. Vickers also is a candidate to drive the car in other races.(NBC Sports)(2-15-2016)
UPDATE: Ty Dillon acknowledged Tuesday that he's had discussions about potentially taking a substitute driving role with Stewart-Haas Racing, filling in for Tony Stewart as the three-time NASCAR champion recovers from a severe back injury. "Obviously that's something that's been talked about a lot," Dillon said. "Nothing has been finalized. Unfortunately, it kind of stinks that we're even talking about that this year." Dillon, who is locked into the Daytona 500 field with Circle Sport-Leavine Family Racing's #95 entry, could take the wheel of Stewart's #14 Chevy in the second Sprint Cup Series race of the season -- at Atlanta. Dillon said no contract has been signed, but that he hoped to have news to report "sooner or later." Negotiations have been positive, Dillon said, adding that he's honored to have his name mentioned as Stewart's interim replacement.(NASCAR.com)(2-16-2016)
UPDATE2: #95-Ty Dillon met with members of the media at Media Day at Daytona International Speedway on Tuesday, a few of the Q&A's:
ON RUMORS HE WILL DRIVE THE #14 CHEVROLET SS FOR STEWART-HAAS RACING:
Dillon: "Obviously it is something that has been talked about a lot, but nothing has been finalized. Unfortunately, it kind of stinks that we are even talking about that down here. I think everybody including myself want to Tony (Stewart) go out the right way and to able to run every single race. To get back to the question - it would be an honor for me to drive Tony's car in his last year, and hopefully do good for those guys. Nothing has been announced yet. I haven't signed anything yet. We've been in talks. Hopefully we will have some news sooner or later, but nothing is finalized yet. But, if the opportunity were to come about, I would be honored to drive the #14 car and represent Tony in his last year."
Q) IS THERE A HOLD-UP?
Dillon: "There have been a lot of stories that have come out premature. It is a slow process. There are a lot of different things that are going on. Hopefully we will have some announcement or news later on. Nothing is set in stone. I don't like to say anything until pen hits paper. Hopefully it turns out good, and like I said, it would be an honor for me to drive the #14 car if the opportunity comes about. Hopefully we will have some news sooner or later."
Q) YOU WERE ALREADY GOING TO DO A FEW CUP RACES THIS SEASON, WOULD YOU WELCOME THE OPPORTUNITY TO DO MORE?
Dillon: "Yes, definitely. As many races as I can run, bring them on. I like to be in as many cars, and especially Sprint Cup Series. It is the highest level of motorsports racing and that is where I want to be. To run it full-time this year was obviously my goal, and it didn't quite work out that way. So the opportunities I get especially with Leavine and Circle Sport Racing to go out there and build my resume and build my notebook for hopefully a next year running full-time is always something I welcome and want to bring on. So anytime any kind of opportunity comes to me to get more laps, more racing in the Sprint Cup Series, I want to take it."
ABOUT OPPORTUNITY IN THE #95 CAR:
Dillon: "It is awesome. And, to be able to represent the Leavine Family and Circle Sport Racing with Joe Faulk and the dedication they put in as team owners, and they have a charter or a medallion, whatever they are calling it out, to be locked into the race is one thing, and to be able to give them an opportunity to run well. I believe we have a shot at. We are in the Daytona 500 and have a chance to win it. For them to bring me on board to run the races I am running I take it as an honor and go out there and show everybody what we are made."
Q) EXACTLY WHERE ARE YOU IN THE NEGOTIATIONS ABOUT YOU DRIVING THE #14 CAR?
Dillon: "There's been conversations. There's been lots of conversation and hopefully we'll have something finalized soon. But, like I said, I hate to be even talking about it because this is supposed to be Tony's day. The fact that he has had such bad luck and hate that he isn't here talking about him running his last 500 and his last year. He is a legend in our sport and unfortunately if I had the opportunity to drive, it would be an honor to drive his car and hopefully it comes along."
Q) DO YOU EXPECT TO BE IN THE #14 IN ATLANTA?
Dillon: "I don't know, we will see."
Q) THE NEXT RACE FOR (#95) CIRCLE SPORT/LEAVINE IS TEXAS, CORRECT?
Dillon: "Yes - Texas. I think it is Texas, Kansas and Kentucky, maybe one more. We are looking at Dover. I think second Dover. I'm not sure."
(full transcript at Team Chevy)(2-16-2016)
Circle Sport-Leavine Family Racing Announces Driver Lineup For Daytona: Circle Sport-Leavine Family Racing announced that it will field two entries in the Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway. The 2016 season is a major one for Circle Sport-Leavine Family Racing, as the team recently announced their plans to run all 36 races with a new Richard Childress Racing Alliance and switch in manufacturer to Chevy. Ty Dillon will be behind the wheel of the #95 Cheerios / Kroger Chevy with Todd Parrott serving as crew chief. In addition, NASCAR veteran Michael McDowell will drive the #59 Thrivent Financial / K-LOVE Radio Chevy with Dave Winston as crew chief.
Circle Sport-Leavine Family Racing partners Joe Falk and Bob Leavine have a strong outlook for Daytona Speedweeks, bringing two Chevrolet race cars to the track with two of the top drivers in motorsports. "I'm looking forward to going to Daytona and finally getting this season under way!" said Joe Falk, partner of Circle Sport-Leavine Family Racing. "It has been a long off-season with lots of changes and it will be great to finally get this season started. I'm excited to have Michael McDowell and Ty Dillon pilot the two CSLFR entries at Daytona."
"We are thrilled with our new alliance with Richard Childress Racing and having the opportunity to run two cars in The Great American Race," said Bob Leavine, partner of Circle Sport-Leavine Family Racing. "This is the ultimate stage in motorsports and I'm proud to have two great drivers behind the wheel of CSLFR race cars for Daytona Speedweeks."
Dillon, from Welcome, N.C., competed in his first Daytona 500 last year, starting 31st and finishing 28th. The XFINITY Series driver, who finished third in series points in 2015, is looking to gain valuable experience in the Cup Series at Daytona as he progresses through the NASCAR ranks. "The Daytona 500 is such a prestigious race and it's an incredible honor to be able to compete on this stage," said Dillon. "Last season I learned a lot and experienced a lot. I got to race up front with the leaders, raced in the back, had some damage we had to repair and eventually finished 28th. This season, we're going to go out there like any other team and try to win the race." McDowell will be running the majority of the 36-race schedule in the #95 Chevrolet for CSLFR, with Ty Dillon competing in a handful of races with the team. Dillon is looking forward to working with his new teammate in 2016. "Michael is an extremely talented race car driver and it's going to be a great opportunity for me this season to learn from him; especially on the road courses," said Dillon. "He's had success in the past and I think the two of us together are going to only get better this season."
McDowell, a Glendale, Ariz. native, earned his best career finishes at Daytona International Speedway in the NSCS. He finished ninth in the Daytona 500 in 2013 and seventh in the July race at Daytona in 2014. "I think it's a good track in that it allows any team to have a shot at running well. It's one of the 'opportunity' races for our team to run up front and finish well," said McDowell. "The changes that we made in off season -- switching to Chevrolet and aligning with RCR -- has provided us with, by far, the best equipment, car and motor combination that we've ever brought to a superspeedway. It's pretty exciting because we've had good results at superspeedways in the past. Hands down this is the best car we've ever brought to Daytona." McDowell will pilot the #59 Thrivent Financial / K-LOVE Radio Chevrolet SS at Daytona Speedweeks and will have to race his way into the starting line-up for the Daytona 500. "That's the most nerve-racking park of the weekend. I can't say that you ever get used to doing it. But I've never not had to race my way in so this is nothing new to me. It's standard operating procedure. I've made it in more times that I've missed, but there's no guarantee. You have to race hard and give it all you got and see what happens."(CSLFR95)(2-11-2016)
Circle Sport-Leavine Family Racing Names Crew Chief and VP of Operations: Circle Sport-Leavine Family Racing announced that Dave Winston has joined the team as crew chief of the #95 Chevy which will compete full time in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series this season. In addition, Jeremy Lange who oversaw marketing for the team the past two years has been promoted to Vice President of Operations for the Concord-based race team. Dave Winston is a 15-year veteran in NASCAR having started his career at Roush as an engineer and worked with drivers including Greg Biffle, Brian Vickers, Kurt Busch and Jamie McMurray. Winston has been part of 18 wins, 7 poles, 51 Top-5's, 118 Top-10's in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series to date.
"Dave is a perfect fit for our team having worked at both large and small organizations," said Bob Leavine, Partner in CSLFR. "He understands the budget constraints of a small team but knows what is required to make the team more competitive. I really like his engineering background as that is a key factor in our alliance with RCR. Understanding and being able to incorporate setup changes from simulation data is an important part of the crew chief's responsibility. Dave is very organized and has already gained the respect of our staff in a short period of time. I'm really proud to have him on our team."
Jeremy Lange joined Leavine Family Racing in 2013 bringing more than 15 years of experience in advertising, marketing and sales to the team. He has worked in NASCAR for more than ten years, first joining the sport after securing his MBA from the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University. "Over the past two and a half years Jeremy had taken on more responsibility than just his marketing role," said Leavine. "On a small team it's all about having a 'whatever it takes attitude' and Jeremy is the first one to volunteer for extra work. A perfect combination of desire, experience and education makes Jeremy a valuable officer of our growing organization."(Circle Sport-Leavine Family Racing)(1-28-20146)
McDowell back with Leavine Family Racing, switches to Chevy, merges with Circle Sport UPDATE3: Leavine Family Racing is announcing parts of their 2016 season plans. So far the team has announced that driver Michael McDowell will return to drive, that the TEAM will run the full 2016 Sprint Cup Series season and that the team is now known as Circle Sport - Leavine Family Racing (LFR Facebook / Twitter). Joe Falk, owner of the #33 Circle Sport team, has merged / sold the team to Leavine Family Racing, so the #95 team has #33 owners points to be eligible for a charter (when/if NASCAR goes to that ownership system) or be higher in owners points. Also hearing the team will switch manufacturers from Ford to Chevy and Thrivent Financial will return to sponsor the team in an unknown number of races. Another piece is a technical alliance with Richard Childress Racing and Ty Dillon driving in some races (1-20-2016)
UPDATE: Richard Childress Racing and Circle Sport - Leavine Family Racing have agreed to form a technical alliance in NASCAR Sprint Cup Series competition, beginning with the 2016 season. The partnership includes technology sharing, engineering, research and development provided to Circle Sport - Leavine Family Racing as they switch their #95 Sprint Cup Series cars to Chevy beginning with the 2016 season. Circle Sport - Leavine Family Racing will also benefit from utilizing the highly reliable and powerful engines of ECR Engines. Ty Dillon will run select races, including the Daytona 500, for Circle Sport - Leavine Family Racing in 2016. Sprint Cup Series veteran driver Michael McDowell will be the primary driver for the team.
"I admire the hard work, dedication and passion that Joe Falk and Bob and Sharon Leavine have for NASCAR and I know their addition to our RCR alliance teams will be mutually beneficial to both Circle Sport-Leavine Family Racing and our current roster of technical alliance partners," said Richard Childress, Chief Executive Officer of RCR. "I'm looking forward to success in 2016 and beyond."
With their race shop based in Concord, N.C., Circle Sport - Leavine Family Racing has a veteran group of racing personnel and ownership that has been active in the Sprint Cup Series for multiple years. "The resources that Richard Childress and RCR can provide, including ECR engines, the Chevrolet SS and access to shared information and technology will be a tremendous help as we continue to grow as an organization," said Bob Leavine. "RCR has an extremely competitive program with a storied history of winning races and championships and joining that culture of success makes this partnership especially attractive."(Richard Childress Racing)(1-21-2016)
UPDATE2 Leavine Family Racing (LFR) will join forces with Circle Sport Racing to run the full 36-race schedule in the 2016 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS). In addition, the race team will enter into an alliance with Richard Childress Racing (RCR) and will make the switch to run Chevy race cars powered by ECR Engines this race season. Michael McDowell will be the primary driver and compete in at least 26 NSCS races in 2016. RCR driver Ty Dillon will pilot the team's entry for the remaining NSCS races. Specific races for each driver are being determined but both drivers will enter the Daytona 500 (supposedly McDowell in a 2nd car). Leavine Family Racing team owner Bob Leavine has been preparing to take the team from a partial schedule to the full series schedule since the team's inception. The 2016 season proved to be the perfect time to make the leap, thanks in part to the new alliance with Joe Falk's Circle Sport team and technical alliance with Richard Childress Racing.
"The manufacturer and alliance switch provides our team with the best opportunity to improve on-track performance and to create long-term sustainability," said Leavine. "This was the right time for us to make this change. We have been turning over every stone looking for the right plan for our team and our people in 2016, and we've finally found a great fit that's going to help us continue to grow both on the track and as an organization."
Joe Falk, owner of Circle Sport Racing (was #33 Chevy), had been an owner in NASCAR starting in the late 1990's. Circle Sport competed in its first race in 2012 and has been associated with Richard Childress Racing during that time. "I'm happy to be working with Bob (Leavine) and the team to combine our efforts for a successful 2016 and beyond," said Falk. "We've put together a top notch program obtaining all cars and engines from RCR."
"This is a big step for our competition program," said McDowell. "The technical alliance with Richard Childress Racing is a huge asset to our growing team and we'll have access to some of the top equipment in the Cup Series. This type of alliance has worked really well for single-car teams such as JTG Racing and Germain Racing in the past and I'm excited about what we're going to be able to do in 2016."
Primary sponsorship of the #95 Chevy will include Thrivent Financial, K-LOVE Radio and Cheerios Brand. Circle Sport - Leavine Family Racing is seeking additional sponsorship to fill out the season.(1-21-2016)
UPDATE3: Thrivent Financial announced its continuing sponsorship of NASCAR Sprint Cup Series team Circle Sport-Leavine Family Racing and driver Michael McDowell in the 2016 race season. Thrivent, a not-for-profit financial services organization that serves Christians, will be the primary sponsor for fifteen (15) races during the 2016 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series with McDowell behind the wheel. The organization will also serve as a secondary sponsor on 15 additional races.
Thrivent started its relationship with Leavine Family Racing and McDowell in August of 2014. The mutually beneficial relationship expanded in 2015 for a 20-race sponsorship that included 10 primary races. This year, Leavine Family Racing has partnered with Circle Sport to field the #95 in the full 36-race schedule and entered into a new technical alliance with Richard Childress Racing, making the manufacturer switch to Chevrolet.
"We're thrilled to extend our sponsorship with Michael McDowell and Circle Sport - Leavine Family Racing in 2016," said Craig Stacey, Director of Marketing at Thrivent. "We had a tremendous response and reception from NASCAR fans in our first full season as a sponsor. In 2016, we're planning to provide more unique opportunities and content for fans through our social media channels and website. We like to think of our fans as part of our team and it's fun to give them a behind-the-scenes view of Thrivent Racing!"
For Thrivent, the off-the-track integration with McDowell and the race team was just as important as the race weekend competition. In 2015, McDowell and the race team raced go-karts with Wounded Warriors, packed shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child and volunteered alongside Thrivent members to repair homes of those in need through the organization's Thrivent Builds with Habitat for Humanity program. Additionally, by creating a custom, fan-driven online game, Thrivent Financial donated $95,000 to Habitat for Humanity on behalf of NASCAR fans at the end of the 2015 season.
"I love working with Thrivent! Their mission to help Christians be wise with money and live generously is really a good fit with my personal values," said McDowell, who became a member of Thrivent in 2014. "We were able to team up and do some great things last year with race fans and Thrivent volunteers - especially at the Habitat events and speaking with Thrivent members nationwide. This is a perfect partnership and I'm excited to have Thrivent back as a sponsor in 2016."
This season, Thrivent will be featured as the primary sponsor at major NASCAR events and tracks including the Daytona 500, Talladega, Charlotte, Bristol, Indianapolis, Darlington and Homestead. Formed in 2016, Joe Falk, owner of Circle Sport Racing and Bob and Sharon Leavine, owners of Leavine Family Racing teamed up to compete in the 2016 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season as Circle Sport - Leavine Family Racing. The team will field the #95 Chevrolet SS, which will be driven by Michael McDowell as well as Ty Dillon in select races. The team operates out of their Concord, N.C.-based race shop with a veteran group of racing personnel and is driven by several core principals including Value, Integrity, Flexibility, Opportunity, Access and Experience.(Circle Sport - Leavine Family Racing), see images of the schemes on the #95 Team Schemes page (1-21-2016)
McDowell and crew make charitable pit stop: NASCAR Sprint Cup driver #95 Michael McDowell and his team made a pit stop on Friday in front of the Rowan County Department of Social Services, and the result was help for families in need. The event was sponsored by the Piedmont Regional office of Thrivent Financial, which is located in Salisbury. Thrivent Financial is one of the sponsors of the #95 Ford that McDowell drives. Thrivent Financial clients adopted families in need and purchased gifts and groceries for them. On Friday, a big haul of goodies was unloaded from a trailer by McDowell and his crew, Thrivent Financial employees, and workers with Rowan DSS. Those DSS workers will distribute the items to the families.(WBTV)(12-19-2015)
2016 plans uncertain for Leavine Family Racing: #95-Leavine Family Racing set out to compete in 20 races this season. They raced in 16 events with an average starting position of 29.3 and an average finish of 30.6 across the season; the average finish of the team an improvement from 2014. The uncertainty of the future of the NASCAR ownership model has been a struggle for Leavine Family Racing as they work to attract personnel and partners leading into the 2016 season. While bigger, established teams have started preparing for Daytona, Leavine Family Racing is in a standstill - awaiting decisions by NASCAR in order to move forward. "Thanksgiving is still going to be pretty thought provoking because we have about eight different scenarios that our team could go in next year," said team owner Bob Leavine. "It's going to be a challenging off-season, we've talked about maybe getting contract labor to work later at night and have another shift at the shop to get the cars done. Committing to your first season as a full-time team is a big deal. You don't go from 20 to 36 races without some planning."
Michael McDowell and the team are looking forward to continuing the growth in 2016 and beyond. "This year has had its challenges - we've had set backs with fires and things like that - but overall I feel that we've persevered," said McDowell. "You know we are a small team, and we've accomplished some of the goals that we wanted to accomplish and we have to accomplish more still yet. It's been a slow process, but we knew it was going to be that way. We are all really looking forward to next year and continuing that growing process."(Leavine Family Racing)(11-26-2015)
Driven To Thrive - To 95! promotion results announced: Officials from Thrivent Financial, Leavine Family Racing and Habitat for Humanity International along with Michael McDowell, driver of the #95 Thrivent Financial Ford, announcened that the Driven To Thrive - To 95! promotion has culminated with a $95,000 donation to Habitat for Humanity. Kris Werges from Decorah, Iowa, won the Grand Prize of a trip for two to the championship race at Homestead-Miami Speedway including the opportunity to meet McDowell and the LFR race team. Throughout the race season, McDowell and the Leavine Family Racing team had the chance to participate in Thrivent Builds events in race markets by helping with critical home repairs for an elderly homeowner in Hickory, N.C. and a Habitat family in Indianapolis. Thrivent is the largest non-governmental supporter of Habitat through a unique partnership called Thrivent Builds with Habitat for Humanity. The online game rewarded fans for playing by triggering a donation from Thrivent Financial to Habitat for Humanity, awarding instant win prizes like autographed hero cards and diecast cars and entering all players into the Grand Prize sweepstakes (LFR95PR)(11-22-2015)
NASCAR warnings from Texas issued: NASCAR issued written warnings to five teams from last weekend's Sprint Cup inspections at Texas. #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr. lost his pit stall selection for Sunday's AAA Texas 500 because of the warning for failing the laser inspection twice in prequalifying inspection. Since NASCAR revamped its warning system in August, a fourth cumulative warning results in loss of pit selection. Earnhardt's cumulative warnings total has been reset to zero after the penalty.
The teams of #23-Jeb Burton (failing prerace laser inspection twice), #32-Joey Gase (failing prequalifying laser inspection three times), #95-Michael McDowell (failing prequalifying laser inspection twice) and #98-Ryan Preece (failing prequalifying laser inspection four times) also received warnings. The teams of Gase and Preece will be held out of practice for 15 minutes at Phoenix. There were no problems discovered with the cars taken to the R&D Center after Sunday's race (race winner #48-Jimmie Johnson, runner-up #2-Brad Keselowski, #3-Austin Dillon).(NBC Sports)(11-11-2015)
Sponsor making first 2015 appearance on #95: Making their 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series debut, Tommy Williams Drywall will appear as the primary sponsor on LFR's #95 Ford Fusion at Texas Motor Speedway. The Texas-based drywall company adds a new blue, white and silver paint job to the #95 Ford. Leavine Family Racing, founded and owned by Tyler, Texas-based businessman Bob Leavine and his wife Sharon, are returning to what the team considers its home track. The Leavine family got their first taste of racing when they participated in one of the speedway's stock car driving experiences. The family went on to accumulate over 2,800 laps at the speedway and eventually created their own NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race team in Leavine Family Racing. Leavine Family Racing will be making its sixth Cup Series start at Texas Motor Speedway this weekend. Both the team and driver Michael McDowell's best finish at the track is 30th. McDowell, who has 12 starts at the 1.5-mile oval, has qualified as high as 17th at the track.(Leavine Family Racing), see an image of the car on the #95 team paint schemes page.(11-5-2015)
Thrivent Financial Celebrates 10th Anniversary Partnership with Habitat for Humanity at CMS: Thrivent Financial will celebrate its 10th Anniversary of partnering with Habitat for Humanity at the hometown race for Leavine Family Racing and NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Michael McDowell. During the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race weekend occurring Oct. 8-10 at Charlotte Motor Speedway, the #95 Thrivent Financial Ford Fusion will have a fan favorite celebratory paint scheme honoring this long-time partnership between Thrivent and Habitat known as Thrivent Builds with Habitat for Humanity.
"We know the NASCAR community - including the drivers, teams and race fans - are very active in giving back to the community, and we're proud to be able to extend what we do with Habitat and involve the NASCAR community," said Craig Stacey, Director of Content Marketing at Thrivent Financial. "Not only did race fans pick this special 10th Anniversary Thrivent Builds paint scheme for the Charlotte Motor Speedway race, they also have clicked to contribute $65,000 and counting to Habitat for Humanity just by playing our online game at www.ThriventRacing.com that triggers donations from Thrivent."
The game and paint scheme are a continuation of the multi-year, multi-million dollar mission partnership between Thrivent Financial and Habitat for Humanity International. Through the three Thrivent Builds programs, Thrivent Builds Homes, Thrivent Builds Worldwide and Thrivent Builds Repairs, Thrivent members and other volunteers help build or repair homes in partnership with Habitat families across the U.S. and abroad. The programs are designed to involve Thrivent members and other Christians in providing a "hand up" to families in need of safe, decent, affordable housing, and offering them a path to greater economic independence.
Thrivent is Habitat's largest nongovernmental supporter. Since 2005, Thrivent members have constructed or repaired more than 4,000 homes around the world and committed more than $213 million and 4.4 million volunteer hours. In 2015, Thrivent has pledged $12 million to build 121 homes, repair up to 450 homes and support 120 Thrivent Builds Worldwide trips for volunteers to build homes in countries around the globe.
"We could not be more excited about this weekend's Charlotte Motor Speedway race, and we're firmly in the corner of Michael McDowell and Leavine Family Racing," said Larry Gluth, senior vice president, Habitat for Humanity International. "Seeing the Habitat colors on his #95 Thrivent Financial Ford Fusion is exciting, an honor and we couldn't be more thrilled. Thrivent Financial has been such an integral part of Habitat's success over the years, and we're so happy to be associated in the NASCAR community by McDowell and Leavine Family Racing."
Leavine Family Racing and McDowell have participated in two Thrivent Builds projects in local race markets alongside partner families and volunteers from Thrivent and the local community. The team visited Hickory, N.C. in April to build an access ramp for a local homeowner and volunteered to make critical repair to a home in Indianapolis prior to the Brickyard 400 race. McDowell, a Thrivent member himself, has joined the more than 200,000 Thrivent members who have volunteered and changed lives through Thrivent Builds with Habitat for Humanity and is honored to run this celebratory paint scheme.
"We travel all across the country during the race season and it's great to come alongside Thrivent and Habitat to serve the community," said McDowell. "When you go and do a community project or you go and serve, you always feel like you're going to help someone or bless somebody but you always get blessed in the process. I'm honored to be able to participate in the Thrivent Builds program and share this celebration with NASCAR race fans during the Charlotte race weekend."
Race fans have until Oct. 15, 2015 to participate in the Driven To Thrive - To 95 online game* that benefits Habitat for Humanity. By playing the online game, participants will trigger donations to Habitat from Thrivent. All players will be entered to win the grand prize - a VIP trip for two to the championship race in Homestead, Fla. For official rules and to play, visit www.ThriventRacing.com.() see images of the scheme/car on the #95 Team Schemes page.(10-7-2015)
Teams penalized practice time at Chicago: The BK Racing team with driver #23-Jeb Burton will be docked 30 minutes of practice time Friday at Chicagoland Speedway for being late to qualifying and race inspection last weekend at Richmond International Raceway, NASCAR confirmed Tuesday night. NASCAR typically docks a team 15 minutes of practice time for being late to inspection. That penalty was doubled for BK Racing because the #23 team was late to two inspections. Three other teams - the #7 of Alex Bowman, the #26 of J.J. Yeley and the #95 of Michael McDowell - will be docked 15 minutes of practice time Friday for being late to qualifying inspection at Richmond.(NBC Sports)(9-16-2015)
McDowell hits safety truck, all are OK: #95-Michael McDowell clipped a safety truck on the high side of the track on Lap 291. He was a lapped-down car, and as the leaders dove down pit road, McDowell didn't know that the safety truck was on the track. The safety crew reported to NASCAR race control that they were not injured. "I jumped on the brakes and started to slide, and then [the cars in front of me] all pulled down, and it was just too late for me," McDowell said. "I had no idea the safety truck was there. I think a lot of guys were trying to pull up to get to pit road, and a lot of lapped guys jumped on the brakes. It was just my mistake, obviously. I'm driving it. I take full responsibility for it. But it definitely caught me off guard. ... I'm thankful nobody got hurt. I'm embarrassed for my team."(ESPN), McDowell's car was damaged badly, with the right rear quarter panel and back bumper cover torn from the car. McDowell didn't finish the race, being scored 41st. McDowell, chis crew chief and spotter were called to the NASCAR hauler after the incident.(9-13-2015)
McDowell returns to RIR, with new crew chief: "Kevin Walter will be the interim crew chief for the #95 team while we actively seek a replacement. We're thankful to have additional engineering support from Team Penske during this time as we make changes to improve overall performance and prepare for the 2016 season." --- Bob Leavine, #95 team owner. Michael McDowell has nine Sprint Cup Series starts at Richmond International Raceway with a best start of 19th and a best finish of 20th. McDowell says, "We didn't race at Richmond last year with Leavine Family Racing team, so I'm excited to get back to this track. With the personnel changes, we'll have additional support from Penske on the competition side and I'm certainly looking forward to having back-to-back race weeks and securing solid finishes for our team." LFR team sponsor Thrivent Financial has announced an interactive online game where race fans can be part of a $95,000 donation from Thrivent Financial to Habitat for Humanity. The next race for the #95 team will be at Chicago.(LFR)(9-9-2015)
Wally Rogers out as McDowell's crew chief Ownership of Leavine Family Racing has made a personnel change and crew chief, Wally Rogers, is no longer with the organization. "We appreciate everything Wally has done for this organization," said team owner Bob Leavine. "I'm committed to growing this race team and improving our on-track performance. Looking ahead to 2016, we are putting the pieces in place to improve the overall performance of this race team." The team will race at Richmond International Raceway as scheduled with Michael McDowell piloting the #95 Ford entry in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event.(Leavine Family Racing)(9-4-2015)
Leavine Family Racing would like to go full-time: Michael McDowell is in his second year driving the #95 Ford for Leavine Family Racing, and it's surely been a difficult road. The team is running a limited schedule of 20 races with an eye on racing full-time in the future. "If you look at NASCAR, the top 25 cars are probably the top five or six teams," team owner Bob Leavine said. "It's tough to break into that. It was important to us to run quality races because we could have taken that money and scattered it out and ran a full year, but that wouldn't have gotten us to where we want to get." The family paid for the first four years of racing in an attempt to show a prospective partner that it was growing and trying to get better. Leavine said he didn't want to ask somebody for money to start the team. "That isn't us," Leavine said. "We want to raise the bar and say, 'If you help us, we can run better and be better.' We know we can." Leavine said his team's partnership with Penske Racing, which began two years ago, has been a lifesaver and is still developing. The team has bought its shop in North Carolina and is in the process of upgrading the facility. That means Leavine and his wife also will be moving from Texas into a rented townhouse in Concord. "I want to be close to the race team for the rest of this year to meet with our partners and try to achieve our goal," Leavine said. "I feel good about where we can go, and I'm excited about the fact that we can get there with help. We can't do it on our own."
"We're building and I think our biggest struggle and biggest fight we're up against is just being part-time," said McDowell, whose signature NASCAR moment was a violent crash during Cup qualifying at Texas in April 2008. "We'll go two weeks and have three weeks off. The development is happening so fast. For us, the next step and the big goal for our team is to not just run better, but to run every weekend."(Associated Press)(8-9-2015)
Leavine Family Racing partners with Monitronics Security: As Leavine Family Racing resumes operations in its shop following a fire that caused significant damage in early May, the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race team is pleased to announce a partnership with Monitronics Security, one of the nation's largest and fastest-growing home security alarm monitoring companies. Monitronics will outfit the refurbished facility with a new, state-of-the-art security and fire monitoring system. In addition, Monitronics will be featured as an associate on the team's #95 Ford Fusion at Chicago, Charlotte and Texas NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race weekends. Four race cars were destroyed in the fire at the LFR shop along with a 3,000 square-foot room full of parts and equipment. No one was injured in the fire, and the team's primary cars were located in another part of the race shop, allowing driver Michael McDowell and the #95 team to continue to race. Monitronics has provided home security and monitoring for more than 20 years, and has rapidly become an industry leader in home automation. It's the second-largest residential security and home automation provider nationwide, with more than 1 million customers. The new system at Leavine Family Racing will include cameras throughout the facility, video recording, fire and heat detection, and 24-hour monitoring.(Leavine Family Racing)(7-16-2015)
Leavine Family Racing hopes to be back in shop soon UPDATE: The Leavine Family Racing team (LFR), which campaigns the #95 Ford in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, expects to move back to their Concord, NC shop after the Kentucky race on July 11, according to driver Michael McDowell. "We are still working out of Team Penske right now," said McDowell. "We probably will for at least the next two or three weeks. But we're getting closer to being able to move back into our shop. It won't be like how it was. We lost a good portion of the shop that's gonna take months and months to rebuild, but we have enough space up front to operate out of our shop again. Our plan is to move back in after Kentucky. It's been a mess and Wally Rogers and all the guys have been working hard on that, too. And I'd say that's where it's affected us the most it's just been a distraction. It's taking a lot of our key people out of working on race cars and trying to get us back into a shop."(Lastcar)(6-30-2015)
UPDATE: Leavine Family Racing tweeted Tuesday, "[Wally Rodgers] & crew back at LFR shop. Long process but good to be back. Thank you all for the support #HomeSweetHome.(7-15-2015)
Driven to Thrive to 95: Through a new interactive game introduced by Thrivent Racing, fans not only have the chance to win prizes, they also can be part of a $95,000 donation from Thrivent Financial to Habitat for Humanity. Plus, just by playing,they will also be entered into a grand prize drawing for a VIP trip for two to the championship race weekend on Nov. 22 in Homestead. Thrivent Racing represents the partnership of not-for-profit financial services organization Thrivent Financial, Leavine Family Racing and NASCAR driver Michael McDowell. Thrivent Financial is a primary sponsor of Leavine Family Racing's #95 NASCAR Sprint Cup car and McDowell for the 2015 NASCAR race season. Their relationship has been extended to include fans through ThriventRacing.com, a microsite that brings fans under the hood of a growing race team and offers real-time updates and access to behind-the-scenes action with McDowell. Now through Oct. 15, fans can engage even further by playing the Driven to Thrive-to 95! game for the chance to win prizes and live generously through Thrivent's contribution to Habitat for Humanity.
"This game is a fun way for us to engage with NASCAR fans and let them experience Thrivent's mission to live generously while benefitting a cause that's especially meaningful to us," said Craig Stacey, Thrivent Director of Marketing. "Habitat for Humanity is an organization Thrivent has partnered with for many years, and now we welcome the NASCAR community to join us. Plus, we are giving fans a chance to win #95 merchandise and even a trip to the championship race in Miami where the lucky winner will get to meet our driver, Michael McDowell."
After launching the online game at ThriventRacing.com., participants will click to uncover each of nine tiles to reveal "hidden" game symbols. By matching three like symbols, the player wins one of the various prizes. Uncovering one special tile will unlock a donation by Thrivent to Habitat for Humanity in an amount ranging from $1 to $95*. Thrivent Racing prizes include #95 diecast cars, branded koozies, autographed hero cards and more. All players will be entered to win the grand prize - a VIP trip for two to the championship race in Homestead. No purchase is necessary to participate and fans will have the choice to add their own contribution to Habitat for Humanity to the Thrivent donation, or express interest in volunteering for a Habitat build, if desired.
The game furthers Thrivent's commitment to Habitat for Humanity and offers race fans a chance to participate in the effort. Thrivent is the largest non-governmental supporter of Habitat through a unique partnership called Thrivent Builds with Habitat for Humanity, which is in its 10th year. More than 4,000 homes have been built or repaired in the U.S. and abroad as part of Thrivent Builds, and 4.4 million volunteer hours have been contributed by Thrivent Financial member volunteers through this program. Leavine Family Racing and Michael McDowell recently participated in a Thrivent Builds with Habitat for Humanity Repairs project in North Carolina alongside Thrivent Financial representatives and members.
"I'm really glad that Thrivent is able to bring what they do with Habitat to the NASCAR community," said McDowell. "We really enjoyed being hands on and giving back at the Thrivent Builds event and I'm thrilled that we can bring a part of that to NASCAR fans who can help us donate $95,000 to this great cause and have a chance to attend the championship race weekend in Miami." A digital speedometer housed on the Thrivent Racing website will track progress toward the $95,000 commitment to support Habitat for Humanity's mission of bringing people together to build homes, communities and hope. After completing the game, players can earn bonus entries into the grand prize drawing for each friend that enters through a link they share via Facebook and Twitter. The online game launches on June 22, 2015 and ends Oct. 15, 2015. For official rules and more information, please visit www.ThriventRacing.com. Race fans can like or follow Thrivent Racing on Facebook (facebook.com/ThriventRacing) and Twitter (@ThriventRacing) for the latest news, photos and videos from the team. * Thrivent will make a $95,000 contribution to Habitat for Humanity International in connection with this Promotion. Unlocking a tile is for entertainment purposes only and will not affect Thrivent's contribution amount.(LFR)(6-24-2015)
High School Students Take An Inside Look At NASCAR with Camp 95: Leavine Family Racing kicked off the start of summer by holding the debut session of Camp 95, a summer camp program designed to give high school students a behind-the-scenes look at the world of NASCAR. The camp, attended by 19 students, was held on Tuesday, June 16 at Roush Yates Engines and offered campers an in-depth exploration of the career options available in racing. "Giving back to the community is something that is embedded in our race team," said Bob Leavine, owner of Leavine Family Racing. "Creating the opportunity to open up these students' minds to all the different career possibilities in NASCAR is extremely rewarding for our team." Nineteen high school students from cities across the United States attended the camp, with some traveling from as far as New Mexico, Wisconsin, Louisiana, Florida and New Jersey. Cameron Hawkins, a senior from Louisville, Kentucky, traveled to Mooresville, N.C. for this once-in-a-lifetime experience.
"The camp was a fantastic experience! It's hard choosing a favorite part, but I loved talking with Wally Rogers (crew chief) and hearing him explain how the cars work and all of that," said Hawkins. "Camp 95 helped solidify my decision of what I want to do. This is something I definitely want to pursue and it helped me see how to start out towards it. I saw the camp advertised on the home screen of NASCAR.com, and I thought it was a fantastic opportunity to see what goes on behind-the-scenes in a race shop."
Hawkins, who has been a race fan his entire life, says just getting to sit and talk with drivers Michael McDowell and Trevor Bayne is an experience he will remember for years to come. Michael McDowell, driver of the #95 Ford Fusion, spoke to the campers about his path to NASCAR and provided encouragement as these students seek our their dreams.
"I'm just really excited and blessed to extend this offer to these students and help them to explore more of the sport than what they see on TV," said McDowell. "This camp is something the team put together, and it's a great opportunity for us to give back to the community and help the sport grow. We want Camp 95 to open up these students' minds to just how big this sport is and all the different career options there are in it. There's not just one path into the sport and so if we can help these kids see some of the different entry points, I think we are headed in the right direction."
A LinkedIn group was created to allow the students to remain connected to each other and the camp's speakers following the event. In addition, one camper will receive the opportunity to shadow a LFR crew member at an upcoming 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup race based on their experiences and feedback at the camp. "Camp 95 is the first camp of its kind, and the reception it got from the NASCAR community has been tremendous," said Jeremy Lange, Vice President of Leavine Family Racing. "The team definitely foresees growing it into an annual event and expanding it to include even more speakers and opportunities."(LFR)(6-18-2015)
McDowell and Leavine Family Racing to run patriotic scheme at CMS: A patriotic paint scheme will adorn the #95 Thrivent Financial Ford of Michael McDowell this weekend for the Coca-Cola 600. In addition, the team is participating in the "600 Miles of Remembrance" NASCAR program. Leavine Family Racing is proud to honor two of our own who have served in the U.S. military. Car Chief, Kenneth Roettger Jr. served Active U.S.M.C. 1993-97 and Bob Moore, Parts Requisition for LFR, served Active Army 1976-80. Charlotte Hornets Power Forward Cody Zeller will be a guest of Leavine Family Racing at the Coca-Cola 600 this Sunday. Zeller attended his first NASCAR race last fall at Charlotte Motor Speedway on behalf of the #95 team and "live-tweeted" the Daytona 500 cheering on the #95 earlier this season.(LFR), see images of the car on the #95 Team Schemes page.(5-24-2015)
Fire damages Leavine Family Racing shop UPDATE4: Firefighters were busy Friday morning putting out flames at a NASCAR team's race shop in Harrisburg. Crews from Harrisburg and Concord were called to #95-Leavine Family Racing's shop on Victory Lane around 7:00am and encountered flames and smoke coming from the building. Fire officials said crews were able to get the fire under control around 8:30am. Officials with the race team confirmed there was a fire at their shop and that nobody was hurt.(WSOC)
UPDATE: The cause of the blaze is not yet known. LFR field a single-car effort in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, the #95 Ford that is piloted by Michael McDowell. "Everyone is safe and cars were involved," McDowell told Motorsport.com. When asked by Lee Spencer if the cars were a 'total loss,' he replied via text, "We are not sure yet ... Still working through all that. Majority of our team is here. We only have two people that stay back at shop."(Motorsport)
UPDATE 2: WSOC has updated their original story: The fire marshal told Channel 9 that they did not know how the fire started but that four race cars in the building were destroyed and there was extensive damage to an 8,000-square foot section of the shop. Officials with the race team confirmed there was a fire at their shop and that nobody was hurt.
UPDATE 3: Statement from Leavine Family Racing: "After receiving more information from a restoration company that inspected the fire damage at the shop today, we were informed that structural damage may cause us to move our racing operations. We are currently exploring all options. We do not anticipate this to impact the team's competition schedule. Our next race is the Showdown at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Four race cars were damaged in the fire - these were primarily back-up cars. A complete investigation is taking place to access the overall damage and cause of the fire.(Leavine Family Racing)(5-8-2015)
UPDATE 4: Four of the team's 12 cars were destroyed. Tools, parts and pieces were ruined. Ash and soot covered cars and equipment. Heat from the fire had melted windshields and popped tires. Yet, Leavine Family Racing will compete this weekend in the Sprint Showdown at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Unable to work in its 20,000-square foot shop, Leavine Family Racing is preparing its cars for this weekend at Team Penske in an area formerly used by its Porsche racing program and not far from where the Sprint Cup cars of Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano are prepared. Leavine Family Racing is aligned with Team Penske. Friday's fire was contained to the back of Leavine Family Racing's shop and Lange said he's hopeful to be back working in the shop shortly after the Coca-Cola 600. The team, which is running a partial schedule, already had planned to race at Charlotte the next two weekends and skip races at Dover, Pocono and Michigan before returning at Sonoma in late June. The fire does not change that schedule. Lange said the cars destroyed were to be used as backup cars for upcoming races - the primary cars are located elsewhere in the building and were not damaged by the fire. One of the cars destroyed had been used at Sonoma previously but the team was planning on a new car for that race.(NBC Sports)(5-12-2015)
Leavine Family Racing announces summer camp: Leavine Family Racing announced its inaugural session of CAMP 95, a summer camp program designed to provide high school students with a behind-the-scenes look at the NASCAR racing industry. The camp will provide students with a chance to explore the many different careers available in racing, from engineering and building race cars to marketing and sponsorship roles. "An important part of our Leavine Family Racing team is focusing on the racing community and our local community," said Bob Leavine, team owner. "I am thrilled to give back to the community by using the organization as a way to provide these students with a look at some different career opportunities available to them." CAMP 95 is designed to help the team foster valuable connections with the younger generation of race fans. Leavine Family Racing looks to provide students with career advice and guidance during a period of time where they are expected to make life-changing decisions. With an inside look at the race team, Leavine Family Racing hopes the campers participating will recognize career options that they may not have previously thought of.
"I'm very excited to have the opportunity to show these students how many different roles there are in NASCAR in a hands-on environment like CAMP 95," said Wally Rogers, crew chief. "I hope that by explaining how I got started in the industry I can somehow make an impact on how they look at their future careers." The one-day camp will be held on Tuesday, June 16 at the race team's headquarters in Concord, N.C. The day will include a shop tour with crew chief, Wally Rogers, who will explain the team's start in NASCAR and the competition side of racing. Students will also gain insight into the engineering and technology side of the sport, as well as marketing and sponsorship roles found at every race team. Several key members of the NASCAR industry will also visit the campers. These speakers will share their experiences on how they got started in NASCAR and provide advice to the students as they begin to plan their careers. Students interested in CAMP 95 can find applications at www.lfr95.com. Applications are due by May 25 and only 30 campers will be selected to participate. These campers will be notified of their acceptance via email by June 1.(LFR)(5-2-2015)
Nickelodeon announces driver lineup for SpongeBob SquarePants 400 weekend: Nickelodeon's SpongeBob SquarePants will take over Kansas Speedway, for the SpongeBob SquarePants 400 weekend, May 8-9. The world's most famous sponge and his Bikini Bottom friends will take an adventurous ride on the cars of four NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers, all vying to win the coveted SpongeBob SquarePants 400 trophy. The SpongeBob SquarePants 400 will feature an all-star NASCAR Sprint Cup lineup including:
Greg Biffle, driving the #16 Cheez-It/ Patrick Star Ford Fusion
Michael McDowell, driving the #95 WRL/Larry the Lobster Ford Fusion
Casey Mears, driving the #13 Squidward Tentacles Chevrolet SS
David Ragan, driving the #55 Aarons/SpongeBob SquarePants Toyota Camry
NASCAR driver Ben Kennedy will join in on the fun when he takes out his #11 Local Motors/ SpongeBob SquarePants Toyota Tundra for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Kansas Speedway on Friday, May 8. Additionally, NASCAR XFINITY Series star Bubba Wallace will pilot the #6 SpongeBob SquarePants Ford Mustang for the Winn-Dixie XFINITY Series race on Saturday, May 2. His Ford machine will feature SpongeBob SquarePants and his friends Patrick, SquidWard, Mr. Krabs and Sandy Cheeks.
"It's really fun to be part of the Nickelodeon lineup for the Kansas race and get to feature Patrick Star and Cheez-It on our No. 16 Ford," said Biffle, who boasts a pair of victories on the 1.5-mile oval at Kansas. "Nickelodeon does a lot to bring sports to kids, which is something that is important and I'm glad to be a part of it. Kansas is a good track for us and Saturday night races are always exciting. Hopefully we can get another Kansas win."
Also at the speedway, attendees will be able to enjoy some pre-Mother's Day fun in the Nickelodeon Kids Zone, which will be located in the Kansas Speedway Fan Zone. The area will feature appearances from the SpongeBob SquarePants costumed characters, a SpongeBob SquarePants photo station and more.
On Wednesday, May 13, Nickelodeon will air episodes of Hammer Down, a docu-series produced by NASCAR Productions, in a special racing-themed night during the NickSportsprogramming block on Nicktoons. Hammer Down is an original, four-episode series featuring four of NASCAR's rising stars--Kyle Larson, Ryan Blaney, Darrell Wallace Jr. and Kenzie Ruston-that give fans an all-access pass into the young athletes' lives as they aspire to become elite NASCAR drivers, while also enjoying time with friends and coming of age as young adults. The NickSports programming block airs every Wednesday, from 9:00-11:00 pm (ET/PT).(Nickelodeon/VMG)(5-1-2015)
McDowell's sponsor makes donation in honor of Steve Byrnes: The NASCAR community often has a way of coming together in times of need unlike any other sport out there. That is evident this weekend at Bristol Motor Speedway where the track, teams and drivers alike are honoring FOX Sports' own Steve Byrnes. However, Thrivent Financial, sponsor on Michael McDowell's #95 Levine Family Racing Ford has taken their support of Byrnes to the next level. Inspired by the powerful NASCAR community, Thrivent Financial will donate $9,500 to Stand Up To Cancer in honor of Byrnes. Greg Stacey, director of content marketing for Thrivent Financial, said the organization is proud to be part of the NASCAR community during times like this and hopes the donation will bring both awareness and help to all of those impacted by cancer. For McDowell, it is special to have a sponsor that is willing to go above and beyond to help out a member of the NASCAR community.(FoxSports)(4-19-2015)
K-LOVE Radio launches digital racing game: Through its partnership with NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Michael McDowell and Leavine Family Racing, K-LOVE Radio has launched a digital racing game featuring the #95 Ford. The K-LOVE RACING game is an interactive game that features live action play along with educational "pit stops" where players answer questions to improve their race car performance. Correct answers during "pit stops" allow a player to increase the car's endurance and power, allowing them to race faster and earn more rewards. K-LOVE Radio is in its second year of partnership with Leavine Family Racing and sixth with McDowell. The Christian music network is the primary sponsor of the #95 Ford in five NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races this season. The game can be accessed online at http://www.kloveracing.com.(Leavine Family Racing)(3-27-2015)
K-LOVE returns to sponsor McDowell at Vegas: The blue and black colors of K-LOVE Radio will take over the #95 Leavine Family Racing Ford Fusion of Michael McDowell this weekend at LVMS as the contemporary Christian radio network will be the primary paint scheme on the #95 for the first time this season. Leavine Family Racing continues its partnership with the Monte Carlo this weekend in Las Vegas as the hotel will be featured on the decklid and rear quarter panel of the #95 Ford (LFR), see images of both cars on the #95 Team Schemes page.(3-6-2015)
Pieter's Pals featured on the #95 at Daytona: the #95 Leavine Family Racing Ford will carry a Pieter's Pals logo on the car in the Daytona 500. The #95 team first featured Pieter's Pals at Charlotte in October. Michael McDowell's son Trace went to school with Pieter Swart, a 5 year old with cancer who passed away in September 2014. Today [Feb 22nd] would had been Pieter's 6th birthday. The team is also celebrating by asking fans to participate in the Lego drive to honor Pieter.(LFR Facebook)(2-22-2015)
Leavine Family Racing extends relationship with Thrivent Financial: Leavine Family Racing has announced an extended sponsorship with Thrivent Financial for the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season. The financial services organization will be the primary sponsor on the #95 Ford Fusion driven by Michael McDowell for 10 races and an associate sponsor for another 10 races . Thrivent is a Fortune 500 not-for-profit financial services membership organization that helps Christians be wise with money and live generously. Headquartered in Minneapolis, Thrivent offers a broad range of products and services-including life insurance, annuities and mutual funds-along with guidance from financial representatives nationwide. For more than a century, Thrivent has helped its nearly 2.4 million members make wise money choices that reflect their values and provided opportunities for them to be even more generous.
"It's clear we've aligned with the right race team and the right driver," said Craig Stacey, a Thrivent spokesperson. "The success of this relationship is rooted in the fact that Michael and LFR have strong values that align well with our mission. We're confident this sponsorship is helping us tell our story to more Christians who want to hear about our blend of faith and finances."
Thrivent will kick off this season as the primary sponsor on the #95 at the 57th annual DAYTONA 500, NASCAR's season-opener and most prestigious race. Other prominent races for the organization will include Bristol, Indianapolis and Charlotte. "We're thrilled to continue our partnership with Thrivent and extend it to 20 races this season," said Jeremy Lange, Vice President at Leavine Family Racing. "Last year we were able to share unique opportunities through our race team and within the sport. We're looking forward to continuing the momentum in 2015." Thrivent was introduced to NASCAR last year when they teamed with Leavine Family Racing for a multi-race sponsorship of the #95 including a primary sponsorship of the team at Bristol Motor Speedway in August where McDowell secured an 18th-place finish.
(Leavine Family Racing)
BOB LEAVINE, owner, Leavine Family Racing - YOU HAD A NICE YEAR LAST YEAR, TELL US ABOUT WHERE YOU EXPECT TO GO THIS YEAR WITH THE TEAM? "It was an exciting year. First I would like to thank the Wood Brothers for sharing the stage with us this year. This is very cool. 2014 was an exciting year for us. We made some gains and advances and as always sometimes it is one step forward and two steps back but we are excited about what we did. We had some personal bests including Daytona where Michael (McDowell) finished seventh and obviously it was our best finish also. We had solid finishes in Bristol with an 18th and 21st at Homestead. We are excited about that and the steps that we made. In 2015 the momentum is really built off of what we didn't get done last year. That is motivation. The successes are okay but if you don't learn from what you did wrong you aren't going to get any better. Our team is motivated by getting better. We are obviously a small team but a team with a lot of heart. I really appreciate the family, my wife and I, this group has become family to us and that is important to us. They really, really give it their all. Wally Rodgers has assembled a great group of guys and the desire and determination they show is awesome. We are going to run a minimum of 20 races this year and we are excited about our partners which you will hear about."(Ford Racing)
See images of the car/scheme on the #95 Team Schemes page.(1-28-2015)
McDowell and #95 LFR Team honors all 2014 sponsors on the car at Homestead: The 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season was an important one for Leavine Family Racing. The growing single-car race team fielded the #95 Ford in 19 races this season, seven more races than 2013. Highlights of the season included a team-best 7th-place finish at Daytona and a hard-fought 18th place finish at Bristol. Heading to Homestead-Miami Speedway for the season finale race on Sunday, Michael McDowell and the LFR team continue their course of action and plan to push forth, in spite of any challenges, toward a solid finish for the 2014 season. "This has really been a growing year for us and we really want to work hard at Homestead and finish off this season strong," said McDowell. "We have an awesome group of sponsors behind us and our entire team is appreciative for their support and glad we can showcase all of them at the season finale race." The #95 paint scheme will sport colors from all of Leavine Family Racing's sponsors this weekend as a 'Thank You' for another great year of growth. Sponsors include: KLOVE, Thrivent Financial, TWD, JTS, Triangle Office Equipment and E6 apparel. The Parts House joins Leavine Family Racing as a new sponsor at Homestead and will be featured on the car with Parts Plus. The Parts House (TPH) is a warehouse distributor of premium automotive and heavy-duty truck parts and accessories for the automotive repair industry. Following Homestead, McDowell and the Leavine Family Racing team will join forces with Thrivent Financial and pack gifts for Operation Christmas Child, a Samaritan's Purse project, on Thursday, Nov. 20 from 5:30pm to 7:30pm at Christ Lutheran Church in Charlotte, NC.
As for 2015: "Wešre excited to have Michael McDowell back with Leavine Family Racing next year and wešre currently working to finalize our races and sponsors for the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup season."(LFR), see an image of the car on the #95 Team Schemes page.(11-13-2014)
Leavine Family Racing to hold a special presentation at Phoenix: #95-Michael McDowell will be returning to his hometown this week as the Leavine Family Racing team heads to Phoenix International Raceway for the Quicken Loans Race for Heroes 500. McDowell was born in Glendale, Arizona and grew up racing BMX bicycles and karting. He won the World Karting Association Championship and back-to-back International Kart Federation championships before moving on to Formula racing and eventually entering NASCAR. "I always enjoy going to Phoenix and spending time with family," said McDowell. "We tested at PIR last month with some of the Chase contenders, so from a competition standpoint, I'm feeling confident for this race."
In honor of Veterans Day, Leavine Family Racing wants to thank the following #95 team members for their service to our country: Kenneth Roettger Jr., Active U.S.M.C. 1993-97; Bob Moore, Active Army 1976-80; Brad Carson, National Guard.
Leavine Family Racing will hold a special presentation in the media center at Phoenix International Raceway on Sunday at 10:30am featuring Michael McDowell, Thrivent Financial and Operation Heal Our Patriots. Thrivent Financial will donate $10,000 to Operation Heal Our Patriots, a Samaritan's Purse program designed to strengthen the marriages of wounded members of the U.S. Military. The check presentation will include guests of honor Johnny and Shannon Montoya, a married couple from Prescott, Ariz., who is participating in the Operation Heal Our Patriots program. Johnny served in the Marine Corps from 2004 to 2008.(LFR)(11-8-2014)
New sponsor for Leavine Family Racing debuts at Bristol: Not only is it one of the most anticipated races of the season for NASCAR race fans, but Leavine Family Racing and Michael McDowell, driver of the #95 Thrivent Financial Ford Fusion, are also eager to return to Bristol Motor Speedway for the IRWIN Tools Night Race this Saturday, Aug. 23. McDowell and the #95 team had a very strong run during the spring Bristol race that ended abruptly in an accident. After two rain delay periods, McDowell had climbed his way up to the Top-15 when an on-track accident occurred causing heavy damage to the No. 95 and relegating the team to a 37th place finish. McDowell's #95 Ford Fusion will have a new paint scheme this weekend - a white and red scheme featuring Thrivent Financial, a new sponsor for LFR and the organization's first time in NASCAR. Leavine Family Racing recently created a time-lapsed video that documented the transition to the new paint scheme. A Bristol tradition, drivers get to choose their entrance song for driver introductions during the pre-race ceremony. In honor of the new sponsorship, McDowell has chosen "Thrive" by Casting Crowns. McDowell will have an extended role in the Bristol Motor Speedway ceremonies and will give the invocation prior to the start of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race. As part of its sponsorship with the team, Thrivent Financial is running a #DrivenToThrive sweepstakes and giving away McDowell's Thrivent firesuit and pieces of the #95 race car to fans who enter to win at www.thrivent.com/driventothrive. For each entry, Thrivent will donate $1 to support wounded veterans through the Operation Heal Our Patriots program. Thrivent will donate up to $10,000 as part of this initiative and its mission to live life generously.(LFR), see an image of the car/scheme on the #95 Team Schemes page.(8-21-2014)
Congrats to Michael & Jami McDowell: #95-McDowell tweeted Tuesday that his wife Jami had given birth to a daughter, "Rylie Kristine McDowell is a 8.1 lbs healthy sweet girl. [Jami] pulled last minute audible and went natural."(5-28-2014)
McDowell, Leavine Racing have sponsor: Leavine Family Racing is looking to make headway in 2014. The team enters its fourth season in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series with a new driver, Michael McDowell, and a renewed focus on ensuring strong qualifying sessions to make it into the 43-car Sprint Cup Series field in all 20 of its scheduled races this season. "I'm not even sure I'm allowed to say this, but I'm glad I don't have to start and park anymore," said McDowell. "We really need to find out what works best for us in qualifying and we'll get that figured out. But running 20 races will allow us to really manage our program and build to the future." As will its alignment with K-Love, a contemporary Christian music radio programming service that can be heard by over 12 million listeners over 440 FM stations and 47 states. K-Love will sponsor all 20 races for the #95 Ford this season. "To be able to have that kind of fan base and the values of their programming really speaks to me on a personal level," said McDowell. "Not only does it fit into my beliefs, but that connection is important to building existing and future partnerships, too."(Charlotte Motor Speedway Media Tour Notes)(1-28-2014)
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