NASCAR SPRINT CUP NEWS ARCHIVE
DECEMBER 2011

Go to a certain date in this month:
1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15,
16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30 and 31


    News from December 30, 2011

  • #43 driver to be announced? UPDATE3 Almirola and sponsor? Sources say David Ragan is likely to replace A.J. Allmendinger [who went to the #22 Penske Dodge] in the #43 Richard Petty Motorsports Ford, with an announcement possible as soon as tomorrow [Friday].(Sirius Speedway)(12-23-2011)
    UPDATE: Aric Almirola, who finished fourth in points in the Nationwide Series this season, has emerged as the leading candidate to take over the #43 Ford for Richard Petty Motorsports in the Sprint Cup Series in 2012. The deal, which has come together very quickly, will be officially announced after the Christmas and New Year's holidays and will include a sponsor announcement. Almirola, was set to begin his second full season with JR Motorsports' #88 team in 2012, but his move to the Cup series now leaves his future with that organization unclear. A spokesperson for RPM said Friday night the organization did plan to make a driver announcement for the #43 after the holidays but would have no other comment at this time.(Charlotte Observer)(12-24-2011)
    UPDATE 2: David Ragan and Cole Whitt are the leading candidates to replace Aric Almirola in JR Motorsports' #88 Nationwide team in 2012, sources said. A decision is expected early next week, around the time Almirola's move to the Sprint Cup Series and Richard Petty Motorsports' #43 Ford should be officially announced.(Charlotte Observer)(12-29-2011)
    UPDATE 3: Aric Almirola is the top candidate to take over the seat of the famed #43 car with Smithfield Foods as his sponsor at Richard Petty Motorsports. Fourth in the Nationwide Series points standings in 2011, Almirola had another year left in his contract with JR Motorsports but could obtain his release, according to sources, to go to RPM. A JR Motorsports spokesman would not comment on Almirola's status with the team and an RPM spokesman did not return requests for comment. Almirola would not be able to drive for RPM, which Ford has heavily invested in, and continue to drive for the Chevy-backed JRM at the same time. The Almirola-RPM deal is not complete, sources said, but JRM already has talked to drivers about his replacement for the Nationwide Series ride. David Ragan, Reed Sorenson and Cole Whitt are among the top candidates. Air Force and Smithfield Foods are expected to sponsor races on the #43 car next year.(SceneDaily)(12-30-2011)

  • Brian Pattie more than ready to go after break: Brian Pattie was in street clothes at Indianapolis in mid-summer, and said then that his agreement with owner Chip Ganassi was keeping his activity pretty low-key. But at his first test earlier this month, with his new Michael Waltrip Racing driver #15-Clint Bowyer, Pattie made no bones about how he really felt at being back in harness. "The last three months changed me, in the fact that I'm recharged and ready to go, like I never have been," Pattie said. "I'm excited about racing again. You get in those low moments and it's just a struggle. [The split from Earnhardt Ganassi Racing] really was a blessing in disguise for me. But coming [to the test at Walt Disney World Speedway] ... if I could scream, I would; it's that exciting."(NASCAR.com)(12-30-2011)

  • Speed settles lawsuit: Scott Speed has settled his lawsuit with Red Bull Racing over his firing that followed the 2010 season. Speed had field a lawsuit in North Carolina Superior Court in Statesville, N.C., in December 2010. He asked that Red Bull Racing pay him $6.5 million for the salary he would have received from 2011-2013 in addition to a $500,000 reduction of his 2010 salary that he accepted in January 2010. According to court documents, the two sides met Nov. 30 in a settlement conference where they came to an agreement on all issues. Speed filed the dismissal documents Dec. 19. No terms of the settlement were disclosed.(SceneDaily)(12-30-2011)

  • Seven drivers to be inducted into Canadian Motorsport Hall of Fame: Seven more Canadian organizers and competitors will be inducted into the Canadian Motorsport Hall of Fame at a gala ceremony in Toronto in April, it was announced Monday. Richard 'Dick' Foley of Montreal, the first Canadian to race in the Daytona 500 [& NASCAR Sprint Cup starts from 1957-1960, best finish 12th in a 1960 Daytona 500 Qualifier and 19th at the Daytona Beach course in 1958], leads the list that includes sports car racer Rudy Bartling of Courtice, rally competitors Robin Edwardes of L'Orignal, Ont., and Paul Manson of Toronto, Calgary organizer Ben Docktor, supermodified and stock car racer Norm Ellefson of Edmonton and Spokane, WA [NASCAR K&N Pro Series West], and Maritimes stock car champion Greg Sewart of Halifax. They will officially be welcomed into the hall at the 18th annual gala banquet and ceremony April 21 at On The Park in Toronto. The Hall of Fame was first organized in 1993 and now has more than 100 inductees from across Canada as well as several in the International Category that was added two years ago.(Toronto Star)(12-30-2011)

  • Kahne sorry for breastfeeding comments: #5-Kasey Kahne has apologized for comments he made on his Twitter account about public breastfeeding. According to multiple media reports, Kahne posted messages on his account that he saw a mother breastfeeding a child in a supermarket, calling it "nasty" and saying he didn't "feel like shopping any more or eating." After apparently deleting the offending posts from his Twitter feed, Kahne posted an apology on his Facebook page Wednesday, saying it wasn't his intention "to offend any mother who chooses to breastfeed her child, or, for that matter, anyone who supports breast feeding children. I want to make that clear." Kahne said he understands his comments were "offensive to some people" and apologized.(AP, see many posts about this on the Article Links page)(12-30-2011)

  • Dover International Speedway announces seat-widening plan to begin in 2012: In an ongoing effort to provide fans with the most exciting and enjoyable race experience in NASCAR, Dover International Speedway is pleased to announce a seat-widening plan for the track's grandstands beginning in 2012. The multi-year process, which will take place throughout the entire outdoor grandstands, will begin in all seating sections located in Turns 2 and 3. Additional widening of seats toward Turns 1 and 4 and the frontstretch will begin after the conclusion of the 2012 season. When the process is complete, all seats will have increased from 18" to 22" in size throughout the venue. "Year to year, we're always exploring ways to improve the experience for fans who attend our races at the Monster Mile," said Denis McGlynn, president and CEO of Dover Motorsports, Inc. "Because many seats have already been renewed by our most loyal fans, we don't want to displace them in an effort to make this change in one fell swoop. We'll do our best to widen seats this year, and complete the process by 2014. "By widening our seats we are responding to suggestions from our fans and allowing them to enjoy the race in a far more comfortable setting." When the process is complete by 2014, Dover's new seating capacity will be 113,000. Dover's race weekends in 2012 are June 1-3, 2012 and Sept. 28-30, 2012. For more information or tickets, call 800-441-RACE or click here.(Dover Intl Speedway)(12-30-2011)

  • Indoor races return in February to Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City: Indoor midget auto racing will return to Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City for the 10th consecutive year next Feb. 3-4., and tickets go on sale Wednesday, August 10th. Ted Christopher, of Plainville, Conn., will return to defend the "Gambler's Classic" title, which he won in January at Boardwalk Hall in the Three-Quarter Midget Division. Three-Quarter Midgets reach speeds of more than 70 mph on the Boardwalk Hall layout. Feature events have a minimum of 24 cars taking the green flag. The Champ Kart and Slingshot divisions also will return to compete. Tickets will go on sale Wednesday [Aug 10th] at Ticketmaster outlets, the Boardwalk Hall box office and at PressofAC.com/tickets.(Atlantic City Press)(12-30-2011)

  • Sydlowski named VP of Sales and Marketing at MIS: Michael Sydlowski has joined Michigan International Speedway as vice president of Sales and Marketing, speedway President Roger Curtis has announced. He begins Jan. 3. Sydlowski, 41, brings a tremendous amount of professional sports sales and corporate partnership experience including jobs at Learfield Sports/Rocket Sports Properties in Toledo, Ohio, the NBA's Detroit Pistons and Palace Sports and Entertainment, Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Va., the University of Nebraska at Omaha and Kent State University in Ohio. He was with the Detroit Shock when it won the WNBA Championship in 2003, and the Detroit Pistons for the NBA Championship in 2004. Most recently, Sydlowski worked for Alternative Revenue Development in Troy, Mich., as the vice president of sales. The start-up entity assisted Michigan schools with incremental revenue streams through the formation of sponsorships to assist them with their funding problems. The best, guaranteed lowest prices in 2012 will go to customers who make a $10 goodwill deposit. New customers can log onto MISpeedway.com or call 800-354-1010 to leave a deposit by Jan. 31. That deposit ensures race fans get the best pricing for 2012. All other tickets go on sale Feb. 1.(MIS)(12-30-2011)


    News from December 29, 2011

  • #43 driver to be announced? UPDATE2 - No; Almirola? Sources say David Ragan is likely to replace A.J. Allmendinger [who went to the #22 Penske Dodge] in the #43 Richard Petty Motorsports Ford, with an announcement possible as soon as tomorrow [Friday].(Sirius Speedway)(12-23-2011)
    UPDATE: Aric Almirola, who finished fourth in points in the Nationwide Series this season, has emerged as the leading candidate to take over the #43 Ford for Richard Petty Motorsports in the Sprint Cup Series in 2012. The deal, which has come together very quickly, will be officially announced after the Christmas and New Year's holidays and will include a sponsor announcement. Almirola, was set to begin his second full season with JR Motorsports' #88 team in 2012, but his move to the Cup series now leaves his future with that organization unclear. A spokesperson for RPM said Friday night the organization did plan to make a driver announcement for the #43 after the holidays but would have no other comment at this time.(Charlotte Observer)(12-24-2011)
    UPDATE 2: David Ragan and Cole Whitt are the leading candidates to replace Aric Almirola in JR Motorsports' #88 Nationwide team in 2012, sources said. A decision is expected early next week, around the time Almirola's move to the Sprint Cup Series and Richard Petty Motorsports' #43 Ford should be officially announced.(Charlotte Observer)(12-29-2011)

  • Biffle Selected as Fourth Quarter Spirit Winner: Members of the National Motorsports Press Association have selected NASCAR Sprint Cup driver Greg Biffle as the fourth quarter winner of the NMPA Speedway Motorsports Spirit Award. The award is designed to recognize character and achievement in the face of adversity, sportsmanship and contributions to motorsports. Each year, quarterly winners are selected, and an overall winner is determined by a vote of the National Motorsports Press Association membership. Biffle teamed with several partners to provide Charlotte-area children the opportunity to receive free dental care during the October race weekend at Charlotte Motor Speedway. The Give Kids A Smile program was aimed at helping more than 200 young fans. Also receiving votes were: Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Kevin Harvick, Juan Pablo Montoya and Ryan Newman. JTG Daugherty Racing won the award in the first quarter, Jamie McMurray was honored in the second quarter and Jeff Gordon took the honor in the third quarter.(NASCAR)(12-29-2011)

  • Dale Jr. to flip the coin at Bowl game: #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr. is scheduled to perform the opening coin toss at the TaxSlayer.com Gator Bowl next Monday, Jan. 2, 2012 at 1 pm/et on ESPN2. The Florida Gators will face off against the Ohio State Buckeyes.(Dale Jr Facebook)(12-29-2011)

  • Allmendinger Returns to Kart Action at Daytona: AJ Allmendinger returns to WKA Manufacturer's Cup competition this week as he travels south for the WKA Daytona Kartweek event which takes place on the 0.7-mile sprint track located inside the famous Daytona International Speedway oval. Allmendinger last competed in the WKA Manufacturer's Cup in March when the series raced at Carolina Motorsports Park in Kershaw, SC. As he raced against some of the country's most talented karters, Allmendinger drove to a second place finish in both the TaG 1 and Parilla Leopard classes and earned sixth in the TaG 2 event. He will participate in those same three categories this week and will run the #29 Arrow provided by KartSport. The TaG 1 and Parilla Leopard finals take place on Thursday, December 29 with the TaG 2 final on Friday, December 30. Allmendinger, who was recently signed to drive the #22 Shell-Pennzoil Dodge for Roger Penske, has been keeping busy in the off season with a pair of previous karting outings at PRI and the Indy Motorsports Show.(ajallmendinger.com)(12-29-2011)


    News from December 28, 2011

  • AMP returns to #88 at Martinsville: #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr. is scheduled to run a green AMP Energy paint scheme on the #88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevy at Martinsville in April and supposedly run a slightly different version for three races later in the season. AMP Energy has been the primary sponsor for the #88 since Earnhardt Jr. started driving the car. In 2012, the #88's primary sponsors will be Diet Mountain Dew and the Army National Guard. See an image of the scheme on my #88 Team Schemes page.(12-28-2011)

  • Stewart to race in 'Rumble in Fort Wayne' and Chili Bowl: #14-Tony Stewart will return to his roots to race an open-wheeled midget car in the 14th annual Rumble in Fort Wayne at the Memorial Coliseum Expo Center. Stewart has entered his black #2 Munchkin car for both days of the indoor event on Friday, Dec. 30 and Saturday, Dec. 31. He has won a record seven times on the 1/6-mile track but will be appearing at Fort Wayne for the first time since 2008. More information is available at www.rumbleseries.com.(TonyStewart.com)
    AND #14-Tony Stewart will return to Tulsa, Okla., to compete in the 2012 Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Midget Nationals it was announced Monday. Joining Stewart on his Tony Stewart Racing team at the annual event will be NASCAR Nationwide Series champion Ricky Stenhouse Jr., USAC champion Bryan Clauson and 2011 POWRi rookie of the year Jake Blackhurst. The Chili Bowl, held at the QuikTrip Center in Tulsa, Okla., begins Jan. 10. More info at chilibowl.com.(RacinToday)(12-28-2011)

  • Former NASCAR Exec opens communications firm: Ramsey Poston, who led the communications efforts at NASCAR since 2004, announced the opening of a strategic communications firm, Tuckahoe Strategies. The business, which for the time being will consist of only Poston, will manage a select number of clients including NASCAR. The company will provide clients with strategic counsel to positively move brands forward while supporting their marketing and overall communications efforts. Poston will draw from his experience at NASCAR where he set the strategic vision on a day-to-day basis, which included supporting the sport's marketing initiatives and those of its key sponsors.(Tuckahoe Strategies)(12-28-2011)

  • Sweet wager: Martinsville squares off against Michigan in Sugar Bowl bet: Next Tuesday's Sugar Bowl will pit two legendary programs against one another – Martinsville Speedway and Michigan International Speedway. The top dogs for the two NASCAR racetracks will square off head-to-head, each backing his state's marquee football team. MIS boss Roger Curtis will cheer for the legendary University of Michigan, while Martinsville boss Clay Campbell has picked Virginia Tech to win. Here's the bet: If the No. 11 Hokies win, Curtis will travel to Martinsville, Va., in April for that track's NASCAR event and serve the half-mile track's Famous Martinsville Speedway Hotdog to media. Curtis will wear something in Chicago maroon and burnt orange, likely emblazoned with the Hokie Bird or the famous "VT." If the No. 13 Wolverines win, Campbell will visit MIS in June during MIS' NASCAR event and serve MIS' signature Coney Dogs to the press. Coney dogs were invented in Jackson., Mich., just 15 miles north of MIS. Oh, and Campbell will also be outfitted in something special should the University of Michigan win. This is the first time the two track presidents – and the schools – will face off. Virginia Tech, 11-2 on the season, is the only team in the country to win 10 games for eight straight seasons. The Hokies have also been to 19 consecutive bowl games. This will be Michigan's 41st trip to a bowl game. The school has an 18-3 all-time record against ACC schools. The Sugar Bowl is one of the most successful college football bowl games of its kind, played annually in New Orleans since 1935. The Sugar Bowl will be broadcast live on ESPN.(Martinsville Speedway / Michigan International Speedway)(12-28-2011)


    News from December 27, 2011

  • Finch Talks About Hiring Kurt Busch: Phoenix Racing made a big hire on Wednesday night as team owner James Finch reached an agreement with 2004 NASCAR champion Kurt Busch. Busch agreed to drive the #51 car for Phoenix Racing in the 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup and Nationwide series. Busch has had his share of embarrassments in the last few months, getting into a heated argument with a reporter, amongst other things. That led to his departure from Penske racing, and the opening for him to sign with Phoenix. After a few weeks of talks, and a meeting in Charlotte Wednesday, Finch and Busch agreed to a deal. Now Phoenix Racing has a cup champion, and a chase driver behind the wheel. Finch says has already talked with Busch about his past. "He lost a job and he's lost several million dollars, and so I think that's been a wake up call. I told him, I said Kurt it's about winning racing. you need to watch your temper and your mouth," Finch said. "I hired him for his foot and not his mouth. hopefully we can get him controlled. He's got a long way to come. He's got to show people he's going to be a driver. And show NASCAR that he's a driver, and he's going to do what's expected as a driver."(more at WJHG.com.(12-27-2011)

  • Roush Yates teams up with Impact: Roush Yates Performance Products has reached a distribution agreement with Impact by MasterCraft Safety to create a 1,500 square foot safety center within Roush Yates Performance Products' Mooresville, N.C. retail center. This partnership will continue Roush Yates' goal of offering "one stop" shopping for drivers and pit crews throughout the racing spectrum. "We're very proud to be associated with a great company like Impact," said Roush Yates CEO Doug Yates. "This new partnership certainly broadens our reach and product offerings as a whole, which should further underscore the fact that Roush Yates Performance Products is truly a complete solution center for any racer of any caliber or series." The safety center will be staffed with personnel well versed in the intricacies of critical safety matters such as helmet fitment, custom race suit measurements, and choosing the proper restraints for specific genres of racing. "We couldn't be happier," said MasterCraft Safety president Robbie Pierce. "While our product lines are different, both Roush Yates and Impact offer premium racing products with absolutely no compromises."(Roush Yates Performance Products/Impact by MasterCraft)(12-27-2011)

  • University Of Central Florida Named 'Top Team' In NASCAR Kinetics: The 2011 fall semester of NASCAR Kinetics: Marketing in Motion was dominated by the University of Central Florida (UCF). In the largest NASCAR Kinetics class to date, 19 colleges and universities competed for the coveted title of top team and the opportunity to attend last month's Ford Championship Weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway at NASCAR's season finale. This semester, the UCF NASCAR Kinetics Team placed first on the two assigned case studies, which focused on developing a comprehensive social media strategy for Michael Waltrip Racing – including creating a promotion around the team's partnership with Aaron's – and developing a retail, at-track, and digital program to highlight NASCAR's official partnership with Dodge. The student team was also tasked to plan and execute an M&M'S Makes Race Day More Fun Viewing Party for nearly 200 guests. During the trip to Homestead-Miami Speedway, the UCF NASCAR Kinetics team met with industry professionals from NASCAR, International Speedway Corporation, Homestead-Miami Speedway, NASCAR Media Group, Michael Waltrip Racing, and the sports marketing agency Octagon. The team was also able to get a behind-the-scenes look at the production of the NASCAR pre-race ceremonies, NASCAR on ESPN, the Sprint Experience, Gatorade Victory Lane and the 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship celebration.
    The UCF NASCAR Kinetics team is comprised of the following five students within the DeVos Sport Business Management Undergraduate Program at UCF: Kaitlyn Blizzard (Spring Hill, Fla.), Jaime Fox (Wellington, Fla.), Hannah Meyers (Jacksonville, Fla.), Bill Morrison (Soderville, Minn.) and Brandon Vinieratos (St. Petersburg, Fla.). "Being a part of the UCF NASCAR Kinetics team this semester has been an incredible learning and rewarding experience for each member of the team," said Team Leader Jaime Fox. "Working on industry-related case studies for Michael Waltrip Racing and Dodge has allowed our team to not only further our knowledge about the sport but also provide us with valuable hands-on experience within the motorsports industry." NASCAR developed the NASCAR Kinetics: Marketing in Motion program in 2009 with the mission of exposing college students to and educating them about the NASCAR brand and its industry partners. The program hopes to expand to 25 schools for the spring 2012 semester.(NASCAR)(12-27-2011)

  • Auto Club Speedway Holiday Ticket Packages expire on Dec 30: Purchasing Auto Club Speedway's Holiday Ticket Packages should be a no brainer for those special NASCAR and INDYCAR fans in your life. With the highly anticipated return of 5-wide NASCAR racing and the thrill of record-setting INDYCAR open-wheel racing under the lights, the Holiday Ticket Packages offer some of the best deals around for Auto Club Speedway's 2012 NASCAR and INDYCAR races. But you must act now! The holidays are fast approaching and these deals are set to expire on December 30, while supplies last. For more information or to purchase the best seats available visit the Auto Club Speedway ticket office, located at 9300 Cherry Ave. in Fontana, call 800-944-RACE (7223) or log on to autoclubspeedway.com/holiday.(ACS)(12-272011)

  • Pocono Raceway solar farm reaches milestone:- Slightly more than 16 months after the dedication of Pocono Raceway's solar farm, the total amount of electricity produced by the 25 acre facility reached the 5,000,000 kilowatt hour (kWh) mark. The Pocono Raceway solar installation consists of 39,960 American made photovoltaic modules that will produce more than 72 million kilowatt hours (kWh) of energy over the next 20 years. The environmental attributes associated with the system will offset more than 3,104 Metric Tons of carbon dioxide annually and will generate enough power to provide the electricity needs for over 500 homes beyond the power needs of Pocono Raceway. The 5,000,000kWh produced has already impacted the environment. The total energy generated equals the use of more than 30,000 60Watt light bulbs for one year at eight hours per day and represents a savings of more than 400,000 gallons of gasoline with a carbon dioxide (CO2) offset equaling that of 90,000 trees or 143,000 Propane BBQ Grills. The Raceway has been awarded a number of environmental awards for its sustainable energy efforts including the 2011 Excellence in Renewable Energy Awards, Readers Choice Award presented by RenewableEnergyWorld.com and the 2011 Governor's Award for Environmental Excellence, presented each year by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection. These awards highlight the best in environmental innovation and expertise. The Pocono Raceway Solar Farm is located along Long Pond Road adjacent Pocono Raceway's storied 2.5 mile Super Speedway.(Pocono Raceway)(12-27-2011)


    News from December 26, 2011

  • Front Row still working on driver lineup: Last season, Front Row Motorsports team owner Bob Jenkins and general manager Jerry Freeze put together a team of #34-David Gilliland, #38-Travis Kvapil and #55-J.J. Yeley and were able to deliver solid efforts for the NASCAR team located in Statesville, NC. Gilliland drove in all 36 Cup races last year in the #34 Taco Bell Ford with one top-five finish -- an impressive third-place in the season-opening Daytona 500 -- and two top-10 finishes. Kvapil competed in 29 races in the #38 Long John Silver's Ford [and a few in the #55] car but did not crack the top 10. Yeley ran a limited schedule for the team [in the #38 and #55. None of the three drivers are under contract for 2012, but Freeze said the team intends to have all three back because they are the type of drivers the team needs at this stage of its development. "All three drivers have been really good for Front Row Motorsports," Freeze said. "They all fit the same profile. They are drivers with five or six years of Cup experience. They were all champions in another form of racing but haven't made their mark yet in Sprint Cup racing. They are all really hungry to make their mark. We aren't quite set to announce our formal driver lineup yet ... but our plan is to run the #34 and the #38 car along with a third car [which won't use #55 at MWR is running that car number in 2012] that will make some other appearances for us."
    There are several high-profile drivers without a ride, and Freeze said with their uncertain lineup, Front Row Motorsports has explored the free-agent market. "We've talked to [David] Ragan and [David] Reutimann," Freeze admitted. "Ragan has been in the Ford family and we talked to him after the season was over out of respect for Ford because they really liked him and wanted to see if there was a fit there. We've talked to David Reutimann, too. If there is a place where he might fit along with a sponsor, we could be an option there. But it's been more casual conversations with those guys and our focus has been on David and J.J. and Travis and [working] on the packages that we have discussed with them."(in part from Sports Illustrated)(12-26-2011)

  • Motorsports Hall of Fame announces 2012 finalists: Finalists for the next enshrinees into the Motorsports Hall of Fame have been determined. The class of 2012 Inductees will be announced early in the year. Who will be selected? In the Open Wheel category, nominees on the ballot include veteran driver and official Wally Dallenbach, four-time Indy winning owner Chip Ganassi, American auto racing impresario Carl Haas, and two-time Indy 500 winner "The Flying Dutchman" Arie Luyendyk, Other names being considered by the Voting Panel are Pat Patrick who served as the first president of CART and whose teams won 3 Indy 500s, Danny Sullivan who "spun and won" at Indy in 1985, and Alex Zanardi who captured CART titles in 1997 and 1998.(12-26-2011)

  • Nashville Superspeedway will be available for race team testing in 2012: Dover Motorsports, Inc. has announced that Nashville Superspeedway, the company's track in Lebanon, Tenn., will be available for race team testing beginning in January 2012. The 1.33-mile, concrete oval played host to 21 NASCAR Nationwide Series races, 13 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series races and eight IndyCar Series races from 2001 to 2011. "Nashville Superspeedway is a world-class facility and lies within driving distance of most race teams' headquarters in Charlotte, N.C.," said Denis McGlynn, president and CEO of Dover Motorsports, Inc. "We anticipate strong interest in the facility as a test venue." Nashville Superspeedway will begin taking reservations for testing in 2012 immediately more information at nashvillesuperspeedway.com.(12-26-2011)

  • Pocono Raceway Executive Honored By U.S. Air Force: Air Force Recruiting Squadron (314th RCS) recently held its annual training conference at the Resorts Hotel and Casino, Atlantic City, NJ. This year's annual event was jammed packed with innovative training workshops, command key speakers and awards presentations. A special award was presented to Bob Pallo, Pocono Raceway Vice-President, for his efforts in bringing together two great organizations… the U.S Air Force and Pocono Raceway. Lt. Col. Ricardo Trimillos, the 314th RCS Commander, bestowed the title of "Honorary Commander" of the 314th RCS upon Mr. Pallo. Pallo has forged an irreplaceable bond with the members of the 314th RCS Eagles. He has partnered with their booster club and created the opportunity for unit members to volunteer time working various booths throughout the raceway. The booster club retains a portion of the proceeds and those proceeds contribute to 75% of the booster club's annual operating budget. By indoctrinating Bob Pallo into the Air Force culture, Lt Col Trimillos has capitalized on a lucrative future venture with Pocono Raceway. The combined outputs of these two great organizations are certain to yield winning results for both the U.S. Air Force and Pocono Raceway.(Pocono Raceway)(12-26-2011)

  • Family Camping Expanding at Watkins Glen: Watkins Glen International announced that due to demand and fan feedback, the family camping area that was introduced during the 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series weekend will expand in 2012. The popular area will nearly double in size and continue to feature reserved weekend campsites while offering a quieter, more laid back and family friendly experience. This camping option will only be available during the 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at The Glen event weekend, August 9-12.
    Just a short walk from the McDonald's Family Grandstand and Kids' Zone, guests staying in Family Camping can expect strict enforcement of the standard quiet hours (11:00 PM – 6:00 AM) and more regular patrols by WGI staff and security. The family camping area features non-trackside reserved sites located just outside the East Tunnel along the backstretch of the historic road course. There are a limited number of sites available and at the advanced sale price of $225, which is the same as any non-trackside reserved campsite elsewhere around the historic road course, they will go quickly.
    . More infor about tickets for the 2012 race season at Watkins Glen International by calling the WGI ticket office at 866.461.RACE (7223) or logging on to www.TheGlen.com.(WGI)(12-26-2011)

  • Foreigner set to return to Texas in April: Legendary rock-n-roll band Foreigner will make a return trip to Texas Motor Speedway as the group will headline the pre-race show for the Samsung Mobile 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race Saturday, April 14. Foreigner, who performed in its first NASCAR pre-race show during the 2009 Samsung Mobile 500, collaborated on a remix of the band's hit song "Hot Blooded" that incorporates lyrics supporting the speedway's "No Limits" marketing campaign and NASCAR. The song, "Hot Blooded-No Limits," will serve as the theme song for Texas Motor Speedway and will be one of the many hits fans will hear prior to the Samsung Mobile 500. Fans can purchase a special "mosh pit" ticket for to catch all the excitement of the pre-race show. The $79 "mosh pit" ticket provides exclusive front-stage access for the concert, driver introductions and all pre-race festivities. A "mosh pit" ticket must be accompanied by a Samsung Mobile 500 race ticket. Tickets can be purchased by calling the Texas Motor Speedway ticket office at (817) 215-8500 or by visiting www.texasmotorspeedway.com.(TMS)(12-26-2011)


    News from December 25, 2011

  • Harvicks Lend Helping Hand To Martinsville Speedway Toy Drive: The Kevin Harvick Foundation donated about 125 toys to the Martinsville Speedway Toy Drive on Tuesday, Dec 21st. Those toys will be distributed to needy youngsters by Christmas Cheer of Martinsville and Henry County (VA). The Harvicks live about 35 miles south of Martinsville Speedway and often refer to Martinsville Speedway as their "home track." They have partnered with Martinsville Speedway on several events, but the toy donation is their way of giving back to the Martinsville and Henry County area. The Kevin Harvick Foundation and radio station 93.1 The Wolf sponsored a month long toy-drive and fundraising concert last week at Johnny and June's in Winston-Salem, NC, featuring country music stars Jake Owen and the Eli Young Band. The main beneficiaries of the successful event were foster children in Guilford and Forsyth counties, but the Harvicks made sure some of the toys made their way to Martinsville and Henry County.(Martinsville Speedway)(12-25-2011)

  • UnDeck the Hall Returns to the NASCAR Hall of Fame: Visitors can continue to celebrate the holidays while helping undecorate the NASCAR Hall of Fame beginning Monday, Dec. 26 at the facility's second annual UnDeck the Hall. Choosing from a display of festive Christmas trees in the Great Hall, each guest can take home one NASCAR-themed item until all are gone. The HALL-iday trees are decorated with NASCAR-themed items including autographed souvenirs and memorabilia, NASCAR-themed ornaments, die cast cars, secret surprises and more. UnDeck the Hall begins Monday, Dec. 26 and continues through the week while supplies last. For tickets, updates and details about the NASCAR Hall of Fame, go to NASCARHall.com.(NASCAR HOF)(12-25-2011)

  • Watkins Glen driver donors to Food Bank: Over the course of the last week, Watkins Glen International has provided a little extra incentive for residents of the Twin Tiers to support the Food Bank of the Southern Tier and the response has been remarkable. Starting on December 13, any person that made a donation of at least $5 to the Food Bank received a voucher for one free Thunder Road Tour and over the course of the next seven days the promotion resulted in nearly $900 being donated to the hunger-relief organization. A total of 100 vouchers, each a $25 value, were distributed and will allow the recipients to challenge the twists and turns of The Soul of American Road Racing in their own vehicles during the 2012 season. The Thunder Road Tours provide fans with the opportunity to take three placed laps around the legendary road course. All vouchers distributed through the Food Bank of the Southern Tier will be honored beginning Monday, April 23, through the end of the 2012 season at The Glen. Fans are encouraged to verify availability and times prior to their arrival by calling The Shop at 607.535.2338. Tickets for the 2012 race season at Watkins Glen International are on sale now! Fans can purchase their tickets and camping by contacting the WGI ticket office at 866.461.RACE(7223) or visiting the official website, www.TheGlen.com.(WGI)(12-25-2011)

  • MIS serves as community fund-raising platform: The spirit of giving isn’t just a seasonal belief at Michigan International Speedway; it’s the racetrack’s way of life, providing a valuable fund-raising platform for the community. In 2011 alone, Michigan International Speedway and its catering and concession partner Americrown donated or paid out more than $618,000 to local charities and service groups through cash donations and work programs. The speedway and Americrown annually work with service groups, church groups, Kiwanis, Rotary and Lions clubs, masons, high school sporting clubs and a host of other non-profit organizations to provide a platform for those groups to earn money for their causes and programs during the racetrack’s events. Service groups annually and frequently assist MIS in a number of ways including tram drivers, car parkers, ticket stubbers, program sellers, T-shirt folders, gate staffers, hamburger flippers and soda jerkers. Additionally, MIS Cares, the speedway’s charity arm, recently awarded $75,000 in cash donations to local charities through its annual grant program. Another $50,000 was awarded through sponsorships and tickets that groups raffle off, also to raise money for their clubs. More info about assisting at MIS for future events, groups looking for grants or financial assistance or for tickets to races in 2012, go to MISpeedway.com.(MIS)(12-25-2011)


    News from December 24, 2011

  • #43 driver to be announced today? UPDATE - No; Almirola? Sources say David Ragan is likely to replace A.J. Allmendinger [who went to the #22 Penske Dodge] in the #43 Richard Petty Motorsports Ford, with an announcement possible as soon as tomorrow [Friday].(Sirius Speedway)(12-23-2011)
    UPDATE: Aric Almirola, who finished fourth in points in the Nationwide Series this season, has emerged as the leading candidate to take over the #43 Ford for Richard Petty Motorsports in the Sprint Cup Series in 2012. The deal, which has come together very quickly, will be officially announced after the Christmas and New Year's holidays and will include a sponsor announcement. Almirola, was set to begin his second full season with JR Motorsports' #88 team in 2012, but his move to the Cup series now leaves his future with that organization unclear. A spokesperson for RPM said Friday night the organization did plan to make a driver announcement for the #43 after the holidays but would have no other comment at this time.(Charlotte Observer)(12-24-2011)


  • No Trucks or Nationwide races for Kyle Busch in 2012? #18-Kyle Busch is unlikely to compete in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series in 2012, at the request of Joe Gibbs Racing and their Sprint Cup Series sponsor, M&Ms. Kyle Busch Motorsports General Manager Rick Ren confirmed today that there is "a high probability" that Busch will withdraw from the 2012 Truck Series. "That topic is being discussed almost constantly around here right now," he said, adding, "It is not necessarily something that Kyle chose. If he doesn't run Trucks this year, it will be at the request (of JGR). Not by demand, but by request. Things change on an hour-by-hour basis, but if I had to answer you right now, I'd say he will probably not race in the Truck Series next year. There is a possibility of him running no Nationwide races under certain circumstances, as well. There are a lot of things being discussed right now, which makes it pretty tough on me. I've been trying to figure out whether Kyle's going to be available to run our Trucks and Nationwide cars, then determine whether the individual sponsors will stay around without him behind the wheel. I believe Kyle will drive a KBM Nationwide Series Toyota in a certain number of races next year," said Ren. "I can't swear to it, but that's what it look like today."(Sirius Speedway)(12-24-2011)

  • Belk Bowl players lap Charlotte Motor Speedway: Football players from N.C. State and Louisville got a taste of the difference on Friday as members of both teams took turns taking mock qualifying runs around Charlotte Motor Speedway in cars provided by the Richard Petty Driving Experience. Friday’s laps, pit stop practice and racing video games were the first of several activities for N.C. State and Louisville, which meet in the Belk Bowl on Tuesday night at Bank of America Stadium [in Charlotte NC]. Both teams practiced Friday at Charlotte area high schools. Head coaches and some players from each team will visit Levin Children’s Hospital on Saturday morning to meet with sick children and spread some holiday cheer. For many players, the visit to CMS was their first up-close experience with NASCAR. Belk Bowl officials said as of Friday afternoon approximately 58,000 tickets had been sold for Tuesday night’s game. The game is on track to be the highest attended non-sellout (the game sold out in 2002, 2004 and 2008). N.C. State has sold approximately 24,000 tickets to the game through the school.(Charlotte Observer)(12-24-2011)

    Sandy the dog the late great Barnee
    Sandy Barnee
    10/29/1998 4/1992
    12/16/2010 12/12/2007

  • Charlotte Motor Speedway Ticket Office Salesperson of the Year: Concord, N.C., resident, Jenni Bowden was named 2011 Salesperson of the Year in an awards ceremony that recognized sales representatives for their achievements in the Charlotte Motor Speedway ticket office. Bowden, a San Jose, Calif., native, has served in numerous positions at the speedway since getting her start in the ticket office in 1993. In her current position as Speedway Club sales account executive, Bowden sells Speedway Club memberships, as well as servicing current Speedway Club members with their ticket requests. As 2011 Salesperson of the Year, Bowden has earned a monetary prize, a trophy and a vacation package for two. The winner of the Salesperson of the Year Award was determined by a points system that awards employees for their ticket sales each month. At the end of the year, the points are added up and the individual with the highest total in each category wins the award.
    Six other ticket office sales representatives received awards for their efforts in 2011. Amy Drake was named the Ticket Operations Employee of the Year. The Concord, N.C., native, has worked in the ticket office for 13 years and is currently the director of ticket operations.
    The award for the Most Speedway Club Membership Sales went to Tabitha Bowden. A West Brookfield, Mass., native, Bowden got her start at the speedway in 2004 working in the Speedway Club.
    The award for Most Up-Sells went to Kannapolis, N.C., resident, Jamie Johnson, who has been working at the speedway since 2008. The award recognizes the individual responsible for selling the most race day experience upgrades including pit passes, hospitality packages, driver introduction passes and more.
    Charlotte, N.C., native, Angela Crisco was awarded the trophy for Most Outbound Call Dollars, which awards the individual who brought in the most money from outbound call sales. Crisco started working for the speedway in 1992 in the guest services and logistics department and has been working for the ticket services department for the past 13 years.
    Ashley Helms, of Monroe, N.C., took home the award for Most Outbound Calls, which involves calling customers on behalf of Charlotte Motor Speedway. Helms has been with the speedway since 2007.
    The Most Part-Time Outbound Call Dollars award went to Clarksville, Md., native, Bradley Carpenter. Carpenter started working part-time at the speedway in 2010 while he attends Belmont Abbey College as a motorsports management major.
    Fans interested in purchasing tickets for 2012 events at Charlotte Motor Speedway can visit the award winners or any of the ticket office sales representatives located on the second floor of Smith Tower. Tickets are also available by calling 1-800-455-FANS (3267) or by going online to charlottemotorspeedway.com.(CMS)(12-24-2011)

  • DIS Promotes Two Long-Time Executives: Daytona International Speedway announced today the promotion of two long-time executives at the “World Center of Racing.” Pete D’Agresta has been named Senior Director of Facility Operations and John Power has been named Senior Director of Security. Both executives report to Daytona International Speedway Vice President of Operations Andrew Gurtis. The promotions became effective earlier this month. Information on all Daytona International Speedway events is available online at daytonainternationalspeedway.com or by calling 1-800-PITSHOP.(DIS)(12-24-2011)


    News from December 23, 2011

  • Kurt Busch gets ride for 2012 UPDATE2 more: Kurt Busch will drive the #51 Chevy for Phoenix Racing in 2012. Busch put the handshake deal together with team owner James Finch on Wednesday night. "I went to the shop, and on the Christmas tree was a sign that read, 'All we want from Santa is a winning driver,' " Finch said. "We will be at the Daytona test next month and start with the Shootout." The decision comes just weeks after Busch left [#22 Dodge] Penske Racing in a mutual parting. Upon his departure, Busch said he "wanted racing to be fun again." Phoenix Racing runs Hendrick Motorsports cars and engines. Said Finch: "I told Kurt, 'I won't fire you, and you won't quit. We'll do whatever it takes — roll in the mud if we have to to win. I've worked construction all my life just so I could race and have a good time. I've worked with iron workers, I worked with construction workers, so working with a driver is not going to be a problem. As I said earlier, all we want to do is win". Landon Cassill most recently piloted the #51 for Finch last season. Finch finished 30th in owner points.(FoxSports)(12-22-2011)
    UPDATE: Phoenix Racing General manager Steve Barkdoll said Busch has a one-year deal to drive the car, which finished 30th in points last season with Landon Cassill driving most of the 36-race schedule. He agreed that Finch won't tolerate Busch's behavior, adding the deal will be good for both sides. "I talked to Kurt a few times," Barkdoll said. "He just wants to get back to where he's having fun again and earn his respect back again. If you ask anybody in the garage where you can have the most fun, it's racing for James Finch." Nick Harrison will serve as Busch's crew chief for the organization that has 18 employees. Because Phoenix Racing gets its engines and chassis from Hendrick Motorsports, it is considered one of the best rides without a big-time driver. "Kurt needed a good ride and with Hendrick Motorsports behind us we can give him one,'' Barkdoll said.(ESPN)(12-23-2011)
    UPDATE 2: "I just want to get back to having fun in the racecar." Those were the words spoken by Kurt Busch just a few days after the season-ending NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Awards Banquet in Las Vegas. Today, the 2004 Sprint Cup champion is well on his way toward that simple goal as he's teamed with Phoenix Racing to run the full 2012 Sprint Cup schedule. "I'm very happy to join Phoenix Racing and after entertaining a lot of quality offers, there's no better place for me," said Busch, winner of 24 Sprint Cup races, as well as the 2010 NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race, the 2011 Gatorade Duel and the 2011 Budweiser Shootout. "We're going to run the full schedule together, and we're going to have fun doing it. It's going to be old-school racing, where we show up, race hard and go for the win. And if we don't win, we'll go back to the shop, work hard and do it all over again next week. That's the way we all started racing, and it's great to get back to that."
    James Finch, owner of Phoenix Racing, celebrated his 20th year as a NASCAR team owner in 2011. His Spartanburg, S.C.-based team has won 13 NASCAR races, the most prominent of which was the April 2009 Sprint Cup Series race at Talladega Superspeedway. "All we want to do is win," Finch said. "Winning is why I've been in racing for as long as I have, but NASCAR is a very competitive sport, and winning – especially at the Sprint Cup level – is hard. But now with Kurt Busch as our driver, we have a shot to win every week. He's a past champion and he's proven he can win everywhere. Our sponsors are looking forward to Kurt representing their brands. We have excellent equipment and a hard-working group of guys who want that trophy at the end of every race. Kurt's the guy who can deliver it to them."
    Busch will drive the #51 Phoenix Racing Chevy in 2012, and his first race will be the non-points Budweiser Shootout at Daytona International Speedway where he is the defending winner. "James Finch has always had pretty stout cars for the restrictor-plate races and I know we'll be very competitive at Daytona," Busch said. "We'll participate in the test down there in January to get a good handle on our Daytona 500 car, but also to win another Budweiser Shootout. "Christmas came early for me this year, and I honestly can't wait for the season to begin." The 33-year-old Busch has made the Chase for the Sprint Cup six times since the inception of the Chase in 2004, when he won the series title. His Sprint Cup championship followed the International Race of Champions (IROC) title he won in 2003. And before joining the Sprint Cup ranks in late 2000, Busch was the 1999 NASCAR Southwest Tour champion, where at age 21, he was the youngest driver to win that series' championship. Originally from Las Vegas, Busch now makes his home in Mooresville, N.C.(True Speed Communication / Phoenix Racing)(12-23-2011)

  • Kurt Busch still expected to drive for Kyle: On Thursday, Phoenix Racing announced it had hired [Kurt Busch] to drive for its #51 Chevy team next season. The #51 entered every Cup race in 2011 with several different drivers. The news release announcing Busch's move said he would drive a "full schedule" with the team. Busch is also expected to join forces with his younger brother, Kyle, and drive for Kyle's Nationwide series team in 2012. One option being considered is for Kurt Busch to run the full Nationwide schedule and compete for the series championship, multiple sources said. Under NASCAR's current system, Busch will only be able to earn driver points in only one series. It remains unclear what effect Thursday's Cup announcement will have on the Nationwide plans. A spokesman for Kyle Busch Motorsports said Friday the team was still finalizing its driver lineup and would not have any official announcements until after Jan. 1. (Charlotte Observer)(12-23-2011)

  • Tony Stewart and Rick Eckert voted EMPA Drivers of the Year: By a vote of the membership, NASCAR Sprint Cup champion Tony Stewart and World of Outlaws Late Model Series titlist Rick Eckert have been elected Drivers of the Year by the Eastern Motorsport Press Association (EMPA). The awards will be presented at the group's annual Convention set for January 6-8, 2012 at the Crowne Plaza Valley Forge in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania. Stewart, who won the Sprint Cup title in dramatic fashion, will receive the EMPA/Al Holbert Memorial National Driver of the Year award, while Eckert, a winner in both sanctioned and independent 2011 races, has earned the EMPA/Richie Evans Memorial Northeast Driver of the Year accolades.
    In other announced awards, IZOD IndyCar head Randy Bernard was chosen T. Wayne Robertson Newsmaker of the Year; NASCAR Modified sensation Jason Bonsignore will receive the John Blewett III Young Guns Award presented by New England Race Fuels; and longtime midget racing supporter Stan Lobitz will be presented with the Junie Donlavey Spirit of the Sport award. New this year, race track promoter Alan Kreitzer has been named the recipient of the inaugural Jerry Reigle Outstanding Contribution to Sprint Car Racing Award presented by the World of Outlaws. New inductees into the EMPA Hall of Fame include previously announced NASCAR executive Jim Hunter, sportswriter Frank Blunk, and retired Modified driver Jack Johnson. Also elected to the EMPA Hall of Fame are driver Merv Treicher, speedway owner Jack Arute Sr., and racing announcer Bill Singer. EMPA member awards and journalism contest winners will be announced during annual EMPA/NASCAR Hall of Fame Banquet Saturday evening during the Convention.(Eastern Motorsport Press Association)(12-23-2011)

  • Infineon Raceway Recycles More Than 58 Tons of Materials in 2011: Infineon Raceway has reaffirmed its position as an industry leader in recycling, collecting more than 58 tons of materials during the 2011 Big O Tires Racing Season. The raceway partnered with the Conservation Corps North Bay to collect 116,881 pounds of materials during the 2011 season, which included the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series, IZOD IndyCar® Series and AMA Pro Road Racing event weekends. The raceway has collected more than 267 tons of materials (534,815 pounds) since the inception of its recycling program in 2004.
    Below is a breakdown of the recycling totals from 2011:
    · Aluminum: 560 pounds
    · Cardboard: 48,720 pounds
    · CRV (glass, aluminum, plastic beverage containers): 21,961 pounds
    · Metal debris: 16,820 pounds
    · Mixed paper: 10,820 pounds
    · Tires: 18,000 pounds
    Infineon Raceway also recycles all used motor oil, used oil filters and brake and transmission fluids used at the raceway through Safety-Kleen, a leading provider of environmental services, oil re-refining and responsible cleaning solutions, which resides year-round at the Sonoma Valley facility. Infineon Raceway's recycling efforts are part of a larger Accelerating Sustainable Performance program, which was officially launched in November, 2010, through a partnership with Panasonic Corporation of North America. The partnership included a solar installation which provides for 41-percent of the raceway's overall energy use, as well as a dual-sided, solar-powered LED board on Highway 37 outside the raceway.
    The facility will also feature clean-racing technologies on the racetrack at some of its major events in 2012, including the West Coast Moto Jam, May 5-6. For the third consecutive year, the weekend will feature the TTXGP U.S. Championships, which showcases the best in electric motorcycle racing. The raceway will also host the second Accelerating Sustainable Performance Summit, a day-long forum for innovators and thought-leaders from the business, engineering and research communities to explore prospects for sustainable automotive and performance development, and performance-oriented marketing of green cars. For more information about Infineon Raceway's sustainability efforts, visit www.infineonraceway.com/sustainability.(Infineon Raceway)(12-23-2011)


    News from December 22, 2011

  • Allmendinger-Penske: Longterm or one-year? a transcript in part from Wednesday's Penske Racing media teleconference with AJ Allmendinger, new driver of the #22 Shell-Pennzoil Dodge, and Tim Cindric, Penske Racing President. No terms were made public in the announcement that A.J. Allmendinger was named the new driver of Penske Racing's #22 Shell=Pennzoil Dodge for 2012, the question was asked in the teleconference:
    MERRILL CAIN: Good afternoon everyone and thank you for joining us on this special Penske Racing media teleconference. I'm Merrill Cain with Penske Racing, and we were excited to make the announcement earlier today that AJ Allmendinger has joined Penske Racing and he will take over as driver of the #22 Shell-Pennzoil Dodge Charger in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in 2012. It's certainly an exciting announcement for AJ and for Penske Racing, and we're happy to be joined today by AJ as well as Penske Racing President, Tim Cindric.
    Q. You guys have made a couple references to how quick this all happened. Can you detail exactly how quick it did happen as far as when was the first time you talked or made contact or anything like that?
    TIM CINDRIC: "I'd have to go back and try and understand the past 48 hours to give you a detailed minute by minute. From A.J.'s perspective, it's certainly been a situation in which he knew that a lot of things were really centered around whether or not his existing team could put a program together. You know, as far as putting a deal together, that's all transpired in the last 24 hours at the most. The rest of it was just the same noise that you guys have heard and him really trying to find out what their direction was within the 43 program. All that happened in a very short period of time."
    Q. And then I understand this is a one-year deal. What are the expectations as far as whether the relationship would continue? Does AJ need to make the Chase or need to win races or anything like that that you feel you need to see from him to keep going in 2013?
    TIM CINDRIC: "I'm not sure where you heard it was a one-year deal or who said that. But from our perspective, any of these programs as we look at them – this is a performance business. Within every organization I think you set up gates and different areas that you have to get through from a performance perspective. As AJ said, there's a lot of things that really weigh into that decision, and for us we want nothing more than to go forward on a long-term basis and have the two guys we have drive for us for a long time. We're not going to get into exactly what all those gates are, but his program is certainly set up for the long-term, and if we realize our potential, I think he'll be our driver for more than one year. We just need to continue to build on the successes we had before and ensure that we can give he and Brad the kind of equipment that they need to run up front, and I think the rest of it will take care of itself.(Penske Racing, see full transcript at dingerworld.com)(12-22-2011)

  • Geoff Bodine, sponsor have big Sprint Cup plans for 2012: In an industry that relies heavily on sponsors, the tough economy has brought uncertainty among many NASCAR drivers and teams this off-season. That's not the case for veteran driver Geoff Bodine, who has developed a bond with emerging 2011 stock car sponsor Luke & Associates Inc., which is looking to broaden its exposure in Sprint Cup. At 62, the Chemung native made a comeback of sorts this past season, competing in four of his six Sprint Cup races with sponsorship from Luke & Associates. "I'm very thankful that they gave me this opportunity," Bodine said Wednesday from his Melbourne, FL home. The Florida-based health care provider to the U.S. military is stepping up its program in NASCAR in 2012 and beyond, with Bodine as its initial driver. "There's teams out there that want us and would like to work with us and we're happy about that," Bodine said. Bodine has sponsorship for a minimum of 15 Sprint Cup races next season. He said he and his sponsor are not just shopping this deal around to teams but instead want a partnership. "They are serious about it and they want some ownership with a team," Bodine said. "A little bit this year (2012), and next season a little bit more." Bodine has been working with Serena Brock of Charlotte, a marketing representative with Luke & Associates who has previous experience in NASCAR racing. "We've got a lot of data from different teams and we're looking through it so that we can try to make the best decision, business-wise and performance-wise," he said. Bodine said while it won't be a top-tier team, it will be a competitive team that already runs multiple cars. Bodine said a deal could be struck as early as the end of this week, but "for sure before New Year's." Depending on the team deal, Bodine could race fewer than 15 events himself or even a full season if more sponsors come aboard. Driving for Tommy Baldwin Racing this year, Bodine had a best finish of 30th in his four starts. "I had no problem as far as endurance," Bodine said. "I felt great. The only problem I had was I didn't go fast enough. That was strictly related to the vehicle." Baldwin is a small, relatively new team, and Bodine knows he can do better with the right equipment. "I'm thankful for what Tommy did for us last season, but I'm hoping next season we get in a better opportunity where I can show whether I can do a good job or can't do a good job," he said. "I think I can do well." Bodine said he would prefer to run a full season.(see full post at the Elmiria Star Gazette)(12-22-2011)

  • Computer theft compromises NASCAR driver & crew info: NASCAR has informed more than 1,000 drivers and crew members that a laptop computer containing social security numbers, driver's license numbers and other personal information was stolen last month from an employee of Aegis Laboratories, the company that oversees the sanctioning body's substance abuse testing program. Aegis administers planned and random drug tests to NASCAR license holders throughout the season, screening samples for banned substances and reporting back to the sanctioning body. The laptop computer was reported stolen on November 22nd, but many licensees were not informed of the theft until this week. NASCAR Director of Communications Kerry Tharp said the stolen laptop contained no medical or lab records, only driver's license and Social Security numbers. He said there have been no reports of any identity theft, adding, "in all likelihood, the person who stole the laptop sold it at a local Pawn Shop without ever knowing what was on it." Since the computer file in question was created in 2009, NASCAR and Aegis have instituted a new data-processing system that prevents such an incident from happening again. Aegis is revising its security procedures, encrypting data on laptop computers, and retraining affected employees on confidentiality and security procedures. Aegis has also agreed to supply all involved parties with two years of complimentary credit monitoring. NASCAR said it "apologizes to the affected individuals for this unfortunate incident involving one of our vendors, and we are pressing Aegis to do everything necessary to mitigate this situation."(Sirius Speedway)(12-22-2011)

  • Could Kurt Busch run Nationwide for Kyle? Word is Busch declined RPM's offer to be considered for the # 43 ride ending speculation the controversial driver would bounce back from his Penske departure with at least a 1A-type team ride. Busch has remained publicly quiet on what exactly he does have up his sleeve for next year and behind. He went on a very aggressive media blitz immediately after he and Penske parted ways and assured everyone there was interest on many fronts for his talents. There is speculation he is indeed following through on his thought of walking away from NASCAR for at least a year and running an NHRA Pro Stock car for the 2012 season, an off-shoot of his enjoyable time at last year's Gatornationals. But with little brother Kyle's Nationwide Series ride still open, many believe the Busch boys will indeed team up for next season in a combined NWS-truck series program out of the KBM stable.(Motor Racing Network)(12-22-2011)

  • Bruno Senna considering NASCAR? Bruno Senna is considering NASCAR as a back-up option should his F1 journey end for now. That is the claim of the Italiaracing website, in the wake of the Brazilian's loss of his Renault/Lotus race seat. It is rumored Senna, 28, could return to the team's reserve role for 2012, but Italiaracing said NASCAR is another option, where his countryman Nelson Piquet Jr headed after his own F1 career foundered in 2009. Senna's fabled uncle Ayrton was F1's last fatality in 1994, when Bruno was 10.(SPEED)(12-22-2011)

  • "The Loopies": The Fifth Annual Best-Of Loop Data For 2011 #6: For the fifth consecutive season, NASCAR Integrated Marketing Communications combed through the statistics to hand out a number of awards celebrating the best – and worst – Loop Data performances of 2011. The sixth award goes to:
    "Lifetime Achievement" Award: As this is the milestone Fifth Annual Loopies, we felt it necessary to commemorate the occasion with a special award: The Stefan Kretschmann Lifetime Achievement Award. Kretschmann, the godfather of Loop Data, works for our partners at Stats Inc. in Chicago, Ill. He's the man behind the Loop Data, originating each statistic and inventing the involved formula for Driver Rating. It's only fitting this award be named after him. And the winner of the first ever Stefan Kretschmann Lifetime Achievement Award Loopie is … Jimmie Johnson. Johnson's championship reign ended in 2011, but his assault of the stats page continues. NASCAR started collecting Loop Data in 2005. Since then, Johnson has compiled a Loop Data-lifetime Driver Rating of 104.8, the only driver eclipsing the 100.0 barrier. Second-best is Jeff Gordon, with a 98.3.(NASCAR)(12-22-2011)

  • Sad News - Johnny Hayes: Former NASCAR team owner and sponsor Johnny Hayes died in a single-vehicle accident Wednesday afternoon on Burton Lane in Denver, NC. Hayes, who owns a house on Webbs Chapel Church Road not far from the wreck scene, apparently lost control of his vehicle about 1:15 p.m., hit some trees and then was pinned inside until Denver firefighters were able to extricate him. It is believed the accident was the result of a medical problem. Hayes, 68, also had a home in Rockbridge Baths, VA. Hayes owned the Skoal bandit race team in the 1980s whose primary drivers were Phil and Benny Parsons and Harry Gant. Hayes later was a spokesman for Skoal and was involved in the US Tobacco racing team for many years where he was vice president of motorsports. He was a member of the North Carolina Auto Racing Hall of Fame in Mooresville, NC. Among his survivors are his wife, Elizabeth Ann; a daughter, Kristen; two sons, Scott and Zach; his mother, Corrie of Denver; and a brother, Don M. Hayes of Dalton, GA.(denverncnews.com)(12-22-2011)

  • Sad News - Ricky Miller: Richard M. (Ricky) Miller, Jr. of Lynbrook, New York, passed away of Dec. 20th after a long illness. He was 63 years old. For over 30 years, he wrote columns about Long Island Racing for Gater Racing Photo News. He is survived by his wife, Karen and a brother, Roy. He served as a member of the Lynbrook Fire Dept. for 45 years. More info about servvices and memorial contributions at the Perry Funeral Home webiste.(12-22-2011)

  • John's March Against Gastric Cancer at Infineon Raceway on January 7: Cancer picked the wrong guy, and now that man will lead the charge in a charitable fundraiser at Infineon Raceway. John Cardinale, a long-time employee at Infineon Raceway, was diagnosed with gastric cancer in March, 2011, and he will lead "John's March Against Gastric Cancer" on Saturday, Jan. 7, at the raceway. This unique fundraiser offers the public a chance to help raise funds for the Gastric Cancer Fund (www.gastriccancer.org) and enjoy a symbolic "march" around the raceway's 12-turn, 2-52-mile road course. The public can participate in the event for a suggested minimum donation of $40, which will include the chance to walk/run a lap around the 2.52-mile road course. A shorter, less hilly course will also be available for those who cannot complete the 2.52 miles. Registration begins at 8 a.m. on Saturday, Jan. 7, and the march will begin at 10 a.m. No advance donation/registration are required; just show up the day of the event.(Infineon Raceway)(12-22-2011)


    News from December 21, 2011

  • Allmendinger to Penske? Ragan to the #43? UPDATES: Rumors floating around that A.J. Allmendinger could be headed to the #22 Penske Dodge and David Ragan to the #43 RPM Ford. If true Allmendinger moves over from the #43 RPM ride and Ragan moves from the sponsorless possibly closed up #6 Roush Fenway Racing Ford.(12-21-2011)
    UPDATE: AJ Allmendinger will be named the driver of the #22 Sprint Cup car at Penske Racing on Wednesday, a source close to the situation told ESPN.com. Allmendinger finished 15th in points this past season driving the #43 Ford for Richard Petty Motorsports. He became available after RPM lost primary sponsor Best Buy to Roush Fenway Racing. Allmendinger will replace 2004 Cup champion Kurt Busch, who reached a "mutual'' agreement to leave Penske Racing after a 2011 season in which he had several profanity-laced run-ins with the media and his team. He was picked over David Ragan, who interviewed with the Dodge team and sponsor Shell Pennzoil shortly after Busch was released. Ragan could be a candidate for the 43. He also could drive for Phoenix Racing, with which he had a tentative agreement before pursuing the 22.(ESPN)(12-21-2011)
    UPDATE 2: Penske Racing has named AJ Allmendinger as the driver of the team’s #22 Shell-Pennzoil Dodge Charger for the 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. Allmendinger, who has competed in the Cup Series since 2007, is coming off a strong season that saw him finish 15th in the series standings while battling for a position in the Chase for the Championship. The 30-year-old native of Los Gatos, Calif., earned one top-five, 10 top-10 and 22 top-15 results in 2011 while driving the #43 car for Richard Petty Motorsports.
    “AJ is a very talented and motivated driver and we believe he will be a terrific fit with our team,” said Roger Penske. “He has shown great promise and consistent results on the track over the last few seasons and working with Todd and the Shell-Pennzoil Dodge team will allow him to take the next step and compete for race wins and a spot in the Chase in 2012.”
    “Shell and Pennzoil are extremely pleased by Penske Racing’s selection of AJ Allmendinger to drive the No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil Dodge,” said Lisa Davis, President of Shell Oil Products U.S. “AJ has consistently demonstrated great potential and continuous improvement as a driver, and with Penske’s track record, our employees and customers can look forward to seeing him contending for wins and ultimately a championship in the NASCAR Cup Series. We know he will represent our brands well on and off the track and we look forward to a successful 2012 with AJ behind the wheel.”(Penske Racing)(12-21-2011)
    UPDATE 3: Statement from Richard Petty Motorsports: “Richard Petty Motorsports has released AJ Allmendinger to pursue other opportunities within the sport,” stated team Chief Executive Officer Brian Moffitt. “AJ is a talented driver whom we all enjoyed working with and we wish him the best.” Our plan remains to run a two-car team in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in 2012 and we are continuing down that path,” said Moffitt. “We believe there are several very talented drivers who are still available and would embrace the opportunity to get behind the wheel of the legendary No. 43 Ford Fusion. We continue to move forward and are optimistic about the future of this race team.”(RPM)(12-21-2011)

  • Max Jones joining Earnhardt Ganassi: UPDATE: Max Jones is joining Earnhardt Ganassi Racing. Jones most recently was president and general manager at Richard Petty Motorsports but left RPM in the fall of 2010. He is expected to serve as team manager at EGR, a role previously held by Tony Glover from 2000 until he was released at the end of the 2011 season. Jones was a longtime general manager at what is now Roush Fenway Racing and before then had a successful road-racing career. He was also a former co-owner of Yates Racing.(Fox Sports)(12-20-2011)
    UPDATE: Earnhardt Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates announced that long-time NASCAR veteran Max Jones has been named team manager of the organization’s NASCAR operation. Jones takes over the role effective immediately in preparation for the 2012 season. Most recently Jones was president and general manager at Richard Petty Motorsports for two years from 2009 through 2010 where he oversaw the transition and successful partnership between Richard Petty Enterprises and Yates Racing which would ultimately become Richard Petty Motorsports.(Earnhardt Ganassi)(12-21-2011)

  • “The Loopies”: The Fifth Annual Best-Of Loop Data For 2011 #5: For the fifth consecutive season, NASCAR Integrated Marketing Communications combed through the statistics to hand out a number of awards celebrating the best – and worst – Loop Data performances of 2011. The fifth award goes to:
    “Irregular Season” Award: Season-to-Date Loop Data is what it says -- a statistical representation of the entire season. That’s why you’ll find Kyle Busch -- winner of this Loopie -- at the top of so many Loop Data charts, but at the bottom of the Chase standings. Busch led 10 different Loop Data categories this year: Average Running Position (10.4), Driver Rating (104.1), Fastest Early in a Run (average rank of 5.9), Fastest Late in a Run (average rank of 7.8), Green Flag Speed (average rank of 6.1), Laps in the Top 15 (79.6%), Laps Led (1,455), Mile Leaders (1,777.77), Quality Passes (2,219) and Speed in Traffic (average rank of 9.3). So why the 12th place finish for Busch? The answer: Another subpar Chase. During the 26-race regular season, Busch had a Driver Rating of 108.4. In the nine races he ran in the Chase, his Driver Rating was 91.6.(NASCAR)(12-21-2011)

  • Daytona teams up with Harvick and the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation for special Daytona 500 offer: Daytona International Speedway has once again joined forces with the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation (NFFF) for a special ticket package that will deliver the excitement of NASCAR's most prestigious race - the Daytona 500 - as well as benefit an important cause. And this year, Daytona has upped the ante by also partnering with 2007 Daytona 500 Champion Kevin Harvick. The NFFF ticket package, which starts at $119 for adults and $79 for children 12 and under, includes a race ticket to the 54th annual Daytona 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race on Sunday, Feb. 26, admission to the FIRE STATION 500 hospitality tent, and an appearance by Harvick. A portion of the proceeds from each NFFF ticket package purchase will be donated to the National Fallen Firefighter Foundation, a tax-exempt, non-profit organization created by the United States Congress to lead a nationwide effort to remember America's fallen firefighters. Since 1992, NFFF has developed and expanded programs to honor fallen fire heroes and assist their families and co-workers. To purchase this special package, race fans should call 1-877-306-RACE or visit www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com/nfff. For more information on the Foundation, visit www.firehero.org.(DIS)(12-21-2011)


    News from December 20, 2011

  • Best Buy to sponsor Kenseth?: UPDATE: Roush Fenway Racing and #17-Matt Kenseth appear to be well on their way to securing the Best Buy sponsorship for 2012, according to sources familiar with the situation. The Roush organization has pledged to run Kenseth, the 2003 Cup champion, without sponsorship but has been working hard to find funding for the driver coming off a three-win season where he placed fourth in the Cup standings. Kenseth's primary sponsor Crown Royal opted not to sponsor a race team in 2012. Best Buy's sponsorship of #43-AJ Allmendinger at Richard Petty Motorsports was for 24 races in 2011. RPM has not announced any sponsorship for the #43 car for next season. An RPM spokesman said the team would have no comment on its sponsorship search.(SceneDaily)(12-15-2011)
    UPDATE: Best Buy Co., Inc. announced a new sponsorship deal for the 2012 Sprint Cup Series Season. Best Buy will serve as primary sponsor of Carl Edwards' #99 Ford for two races and the Matt Kenseth #17 Ford for nine races. In addition, Best Buy will serve as associate sponsor for each. "Best Buy is thrilled to announce this new NASCAR sponsorship deal with Roush Fenway Racing," said Drew Panayiotou, senior vice president of marketing for Best Buy. "Roush Fenway Racing is a great fit for Best Buy Racing. NASCAR continues to be a relevant way for us to connect with our customers. Our goal is to reach our target audiences in a meaningful way, while maximizing the value of our marketing and sponsorship investments." Best Buy has been a NASCAR sponsor for the past 7 years.(Best Buy)(12-20-2011)
    AND: Richard Petty Motorsports statement: “We have had a successful and rewarding relationship with Best Buy for the past few years and appreciate all they have done for us,” stated Richard Petty, co-owner of Richard Petty Motorsports. “Although it is very disappointing that Best Buy is changing directions at this late date, we wish all of our friends there the best in their future endeavors. Our plan has always been to run a two-car team in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in 2012 and we are continuing down that path,” said Petty. “We have several partners that remain committed to the #43 team. We will move forward and explore all of our options in regard to the #43 program in the coming weeks.”(RPM)(12-20-2011)

  • NASCAR looking to regain digital rights: NASCAR is close to reaching an agreement to buy its digital rights back from Turner Sports, a move that could see the sanctioning body manage its own digital business as soon as 2013. Specific terms of the pending agreement were not available, and sources said the deal is not expected to be official until next year. It's not clear how much NASCAR will pay to reclaim its rights, but sources said it would be in the mid-eight figures. The move puts NASCAR in a stronger position to sell its media rights, which are expected to go on the market next year. NASCAR's current eight-year, $4.48 billion media deal with Fox, ESPN and Turner ends in 2014. The company is preparing to put those rights up for sale, and its executives know that any network that bids on TV rights will also want digital rights to stream races online. Though NASCAR is moving now to reclaim its rights, Turner will continue to run NASCAR.com for at least a year. That will give NASCAR time to build up an infrastructure that can support and manage its digital assets independently. The group will hire staff to oversee the site and likely base the group in Charlotte. NASCAR has been looking to reclaim its digital rights for some time. The sanctioning body sold its interactive rights to Turner in 2000. In 2008, it extended that partnership through 2014. But in recent years, NASCAR officials began to regret taking a big paycheck from Turner rather than controlling the sport's digital future. During the last few years, senior NASCAR officials, who declined to speak on the record, complained that the deal was so restrictive that even simple digital initiatives were difficult to undertake. For example, if NASCAR wanted a Facebook page or Twitter handle, it had to get Turner to create or approve them. The sport and its tracks also couldn't create mobile applications without Turner's approval.(Sports Business Daily) - subscription required.(12-20-2011)

  • Max Jones joining Earnhardt Ganassi: Max Jones is joining Earnhardt Ganassi Racing. Jones most recently was president and general manager at Richard Petty Motorsports but left RPM in the fall of 2010. He is expected to serve as team manager at EGR, a role previously held by Tony Glover from 2000 until he was released at the end of the 2011 season. Jones was a longtime general manager at what is now Roush Fenway Racing and before then had a successful road-racing career. He was also a former co-owner of Yates Racing.(Fox Sports)(12-20-2011)

  • Ackerson named interim president of SPEED: FOX Sports Media Group has announced Emmy Award winning producer Scott Ackerson will serve as interim president of SPEED, beginning Jan. 1. Ackerson currently serves as Executive Vice President and Executive Producer for FSMG and will continue in that role. He previously was Coordinating Producer for FOX NFL SUNDAY. Ackerson joined FOX Sports in 1994, leading FOX NFL SUNDAY to its 17-year run as America's most-watched NFL pregame show. Under his direction, the network's signature studio program won four Emmy Awards for Outstanding Studio Show and became a cultural phenomenon watched by millions nationwide every Sunday. Its continuous run at the top places it alongside such iconic programs as "Today" and "60 Minutes."(Fox Sports)(12-20-2011)

  • “The Loopies”: The Fifth Annual Best-Of Loop Data For 2011 #4: For the fifth consecutive season, NASCAR Integrated Marketing Communications combed through the statistics to hand out a number of awards celebrating the best – and worst – Loop Data performances of 2011. The fourth award goes to:
    “Rope-A-Dope” Award: Attention NASCAR Hall of Fame: Richard Petty’s plaque needs a re-write -- he has just won a Loopie. The King’s two drivers, A.J. Allmendinger and Marcos Ambrose, ranked 1-2 in the “Closer” statistic -- the number of positions gained or lost in the last 10 percent of races. Allmendinger gained a whopping 134 spots as races winded down; Ambrose improved 85 spots. In case you’re wondering, Kevin Harvick (aptly nicknamed “The Closer”) ranked third, with 78 positions improved.(NASCAR)(12-20-2011)

  • Auto Club Speedway Holiday Ticket Packages expire on December 30: Purchasing Auto Club Speedway's Holiday Ticket Packages should be a no brainer for those special NASCAR and INDYCAR fans in your life. With the highly anticipated return of 5-wide NASCAR racing and the thrill of record-setting INDYCAR open-wheel racing under the lights, the Holiday Ticket Packages offer some of the best deals around for Auto Club Speedway's 2012 NASCAR and INDYCAR races. But you must act now. The holidays are fast approaching and these deals are set to expire on December 30, while supplies last. The Holiday Ticket Packages include:
    Holiday NASCAR Hot Lap Pack- $74 (a $134 value)
    • One (1) - Lower reserved grandstand seat (rows 1-14) to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Auto Club 400 race on Sunday, March 25, 2012
    • One (1) - Richard Petty Driving Experience Ride-Along where you'll ride shotgun in a 2-seat NASCAR race car driven by a professional instructor for a 3-lap qualifying run.
    INDYCAR Holiday Offer - $55 (an $85 value)
    • One (1) - GA ticket to the IZOD IndyCar Series Race on Saturday, Sept. 15, 2012
    • One (1) - Weekend Pit/Paddock Pass
    • One (1) - Scanner rental
    (Auto Club Speedway)(12-20-2011)


    News from December 19, 2011

  • "The Loopies": The Fifth Annual Best-Of Loop Data For 2011 #3: For the fifth consecutive season, NASCAR Integrated Marketing Communications combed through the statistics to hand out a number of awards celebrating the best – and worst – Loop Data performances of 2011. The third award goes to:
    "Nice Guys Finish Not First" Award: We hate to give this award out, but no one ever said The Loopies were easy. Fans place a certain level of trust in The Loopies board of directors. This one is given to the driver with the largest drop in Driver Rating. This unfortunate award goes to Jeff Burton, whose 96.2 Driver Rating in 2010 fell to 78.7 in 2011 -- a decline of 17.5 points. The personable Burton need not worry too much. Optimism reigns in the #31 shop, as the team scored four top-10 finishes in the final five races.(NASCAR)(12-19-2011)

  • Keselowski hopes to field a car for some Cup races in 2012: The 2011 season proved to be a tough year for Brian Keselowski, owner of K-Automotive Motorsports and the #92 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series team, but he is not about to give up or call it quits. Instead, K-Automotive Motorsports is moving their shop from their Statesville, NC location to a new facility in Mooresville, NC this January and will expand the company into the ARCA Racing Series to help new and upcoming drivers break into this ever growing sport. Keselowski is excited about kicking off the 2012 season as an owner in the ARCA Racing Series and looks forward to working with these new drivers. "I concentrated on my Cup racing all year and we've seen how that went. It was very hard to do with little sponsorship and as an owner I want to keep my company going and I'd like to be able to keep racing my Cup car too. I think expanding the company will be the way to do it. I really enjoyed my time when I raced in the ARCA Series and I'd like to help new drivers who are looking to get into this sport, the chance to be able to do it too. I have the cars and parts and they will not help me by sitting on a shelf or under a car cover. They are here to be raced, so let's go racing" stated Keselowski.(K-Automotive Motorsports)(12-19-2011)


    Santas Sleigh

    2012 Crew Chief Silly Season Chart
    Car# 2012 Driver 2011 Team Crew Chief 2012 Plans 2012 Team Crew Chief 2011 Team
    5 Kasey Kahne Lance McGrew Chase Elliott, K&N Pro Series Kenny Francis #4 Red Bull Racing, closed
    6 TBA-closed? Drew Blickensdefer #31 RCR - Jeff Burton TBA-closed? TBA-closed?
    11 Denny Hamlin Mike Ford unknown plans Darian Grubb #14-SHR - Tony Stewart
    won championship
    14 Tony Stewart Darian Grubb #11-JGR - Denny Hamlin Steve Addington #2 Penske Racing - Kurt Busch
    15 Clint Bowyer new team new team Brian Pattie #42-EGR, Montoya - mid season
    20 Joey Logano Greg Zipadelli SHR Competition Director Jason Ratcliff #18 JGR Nationwide team
    22 TBA Steve Addington #14 SHR-Stewart Todd Gordon Penske Racing #22 NNS Team
    29 Kevin Harvick Todd Berrier #47 JTG Daugherty - BLabonte Shane Wilson #33 RCR team/closed
    31 Jeff Burton Luke Lambert RCR NNS team Drew Blickensdefer #6 Roush Fenway Racing - Ragan
    42 Juan Pablo Montoya Jim Pohlman re-assigned within EGR Chris Heroy Hendrick Motorsports Engineer
    47 Bobby Labonte Frank Kerr Shop Foreman Todd Berrier #31 RCR Crew Chief

  • Petty Garage adds Mustang to Stable: Loyal fans of the King, Richard Petty, know his championship heritage isn't limited to Chrysler products. Back in the '60s the King was racing and winning with Fords, and the NASCAR team he leads today races under the Blue Oval exclusively. So it's only natural that Petty's Garage has expanded its lineup of high-performance street machines, which already features the Signature Series Dodge Challenger and Superbird, to include a hot new Ford Mustang as well. The Richard Petty Signature Series Mustang is a limited edition build powered by a supercharged 624-hp, 5.0L V8 engine package factory-engineered by Ford Racing and coupled to a 6-speed manual gearbox. More info at Petty's Garage.(Petty Garage)(12-19-2011)

  • Watkins Glen teams up with Food Bank for Holidays: Watkins Glen International is encouraging residents of the Twin Tiers to get into the spirit of giving this holiday season and is even providing a little incentive. In partnership with the Food Bank of the Southern Tier, The Glen is offering a voucher for one free Thunder Road Tour to any person that makes a donation of $5 or more to the hunger-relief organization between Tuesday, December 13, and the close of business on Tuesday, December 20. "The Food Bank of the Southern Tier plays such a huge role in hunger-relief for our area and we are thrilled to be partnering with them during the holidays," said Michael Printup, President of Watkins Glen International. "Their ability to reach so many people throughout the region and the positive impact they have on their lives is truly remarkable. I invite all of our great fans to do their part to support this incredible organization and look forward to seeing them at The Glen for their Thunder Road Tours in 2012." More info at theglen.com.(12-19-2011)

  • Darlington Raceway event help Toys for Tots: Fans of Darlington Raceway were in a giving mood this holiday season with several hundred participants donating a toy or $20 donation during the track's Toys for Tots Drive recently. The event, which gave fans the opportunity to take their personal vehicles for laps around the historic Darlington Raceway for a donation, generated over $5,000 worth of toy and cash donations for the local U.S. Marines Toys for Tots program just in time for the holidays. The collection, the largest for the area's U.S. Marines Toys for Tots program, will benefit five local counties surrounding the track, including Darlington, Dillon, Florence, Marion and Williamsburg, respectively.(Darlington Raceway)(12-19-2011)


    News from December 18, 2011

  • Book coming out about Trevor Bayne: After winning the Daytona 500 in 2011, twenty-year-old Trevor Bayne became a role model for NASCAR fans everywhere. Now you can read his inspiring story in the new biography, DRIVEN BY FAITH: The Trevor Bayne Story (Zonderkidz; $6.99; January 2012) by award-winning Motorsports journalist Godwin Kelly. The youngest winner ever of the Daytona 500, Bayne candidly shares the story of his faith-driven racing career with NASCAR enthusiast Kelly. Kelly's undeniable love of the sport shines through as he details each crowning moment of Bayne's young life—how the child attached to his toy cars went on to win three WKA national and world championships, and NASCAR's highest honor, the Daytona 500. More info and links on the Book News page (12-18-2011)

  • "The Loopies": The Fifth Annual Best-Of Loop Data For 2011 #2: For the fifth consecutive season, NASCAR Integrated Marketing Communications combed through the statistics to hand out a number of awards celebrating the best – and worst – Loop Data performances of 2011. The second award goes to:
    "Where Did He Come From" Award: Better known as the "Most Improved Driver" Award, this award goes to the driver who had the biggest gain in Driver Rating from 2010. Brad Keselowski, please accept your welldeserved award. Keselowski entered 2011 mostly as an afterthought. He finished the 2010 season -- his first with Penske Racing -- with a 25th-place points finish and a Driver Rating of 65.1. Still fresh to the series, most expected those growing pains to continue. But Keselowski scoffed at any low expectations with a quick win at Kansas. Then he won at Pocono on a broken left ankle. A few weeks later, he won the Bristol Motor Speedway night race. And soon after that, he made the Chase for the Sprint Cup, taking advantage of the new Wild Card berth. Keselowski finished the season fifth in points, with a Driver Rating of 87.1 – an improvement of 22.0 points, best in the series.(NASCAR)(12-18-2011)


    News from December 17, 2011

  • Zippy back with Stewart? UPDATE 4 as Competition Director: hearing that Greg Zipadelli, currently the crew chief for #20-Joe Logano, could be headed to Stewart-Haas Racing in the future. Greg Zipadelli would take over as the crew chief for #14-Tony Stewart, who he won two Sprint Cup titles with [2002, 2005]. Current #14 crew chief, Darian Grubb, would move into Bobby Hutchens old position of director of competition [NOTE: Grubb didn't and left the team and is now at JGR as #11-Hamlin's crew chief]. Hutchens and Stewart-Haas recently parted ways. Hutchins was Stewart-Haas Racing's Director of Competition and Stewart said they are looking for a replacement. Matt Borland was promoted to vice president of competition and is serving as Stewart-Haas Racing's interim director of competition. Stewart said recently that "once that position is filled, the director of competition will report to Matt."(6-21-2011)
    See past denials and news on my #20 Team News page.
    UPDATE 3 - Zipadelli Named Competition Director for Stewart-Haas Racing: Greg Zipadelli, winner of two championships and 34 victories as a crew chief in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, has been named competition director at Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR). He will work with Vice President of Competition Matt Borland and oversee the #14 and #39 teams, while also building the #10 team for which Danica Patrick will run a 10-race Sprint Cup schedule with in 2012. Zipadelli comes to SHR from Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) where he served as crew chief for the #20 team since 1999. It's where the 44-year-old from Berlin, Conn., began a 10-year tenure with Tony Stewart, the co-owner of SHR along with Gene Haas, founder of Haas Automation. From 1999 through 2008, Zipadelli was Stewart's crew chief, with the duo winning Sprint Cup titles in 2002 and 2005 while claiming 33 victories and 10 poles. When Stewart left JGR following the 2008 season to form SHR, Zipadelli stayed and spent three years as the crew chief for Joey Logano, where he helped deliver Logano's first career Sprint Cup victory on June 28, 2009 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon. "We're very proud to have Greg Zipadelli join Stewart-Haas Racing," said Stewart, the three-time and reigning Sprint Cup champion. "Greg and I have a long and successful history together. I know him and he knows me, and we both know what it takes to build race teams. We took our time in searching for a competition director because it's an important role with a lot of responsibility. Greg knows all that goes into the job, understands the importance of teamwork and communication across all levels of the organization, and is ultimately someone I have a great deal of trust in."
    The addition of Zipadelli to the SHR family is a reunion on two fronts – Stewart, of course, but also with Steve Addington, who spent 2004-2008 at JGR and is now Stewart's crew chief at SHR with the #14 team. (Tony Gibson serves as crew chief for the #39 team and driver Ryan Newman.)
    "Joe Gibbs always says that you win with people, and Tony Stewart is a winner," Zipadelli said. "We won a lot together at Joe Gibbs Racing, and it was a sad day when he left. But Tony had an unbelievable opportunity with Stewart-Haas Racing, and he's obviously made the most of it. To become a part of what he's already built, but to do it in a new role with a new set of responsibilities, was a challenge I wanted. I really appreciate Joe and J.D. Gibbs for all that that they've given me over the years and for allowing me to seize this opportunity."(Stewart-Haas Racing)(12-16-2011)
    AND And he'll get to continue for a bit as crew chief - running Patrick's team to prepare for her Daytona 500 debut in February. "That helps with the withdrawal of being off the box," said Zipadelli, who added he might crew chief all 10 of Patrick's Sprint Cup Series races next season if the right candidate is not available for the job.(Associated Press)(12-17-2011)

  • "The Loopies": The Fifth Annual Best-Of Loop Data For 2011: For the fifth consecutive season, NASCAR Integrated Marketing Communications combed through the statistics to hand out a number of awards celebrating the best – and worst – Loop Data performances of 2011. The first award goes to:
    "Still The Most Awesome Sport Ever" Award: This one goes to NASCAR. Congrats again, us. For the second consecutive season, the world's best racing boasted numbers never before seen in its six-decade-plus history. According to the Loop Data, there were 131,989 green flag passes this season, the most since NASCAR started recording the stat in 2005. Though not Loop Data, there were also an average of 27.1 lead changes and 12.8 leaders per race, both Cup Series records.(NASCAR)(12-17-2011)


    News from December 16, 2011

  • New Crew Chief for Logano: Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) announced that Jason Ratcliff has been named crew chief for its #20 Sprint Cup Series team, replacing Greg Zipadelli who is leaving the organization to pursue an opportunity with Stewart-Haas Racing [Competition Director]. "We appreciate everything Greg has done for us here at Joe Gibbs Racing. He has been a big part of our success, but we felt the timing was right to make this transition for our race team which allows Greg the opportunity to pursue a director of competition position with Tony (Stewart)," said Joe Gibbs, owner of Joe Gibbs Racing. "We also felt that the timing was right to bring Jason (Ratcliff) to our Cup operation. He is a proven leader with a tremendous track record in our Nationwide program and we think he and Joey will work well together."
    Ratcliff spent the previous seven years as crew chief for JGR's #18 Nationwide Series team. No team has been better over the past three seasons as the team won two consecutive NASCAR Nationwide Series Owner's Championships in 2009 and 2010. They narrowly missed out on a third consecutive title this past season finishing just a few points off the pace in second. Over the past three seasons JGR's #18 Nationwide Series team has won an incredible 30 races, with 68 top-five, and 85 top-ten finishes. In addition, they have led an astonishing 6,124 laps over that time.
    "I'm excited about the opportunity to join our Cup operation and work with Joey and everyone on the 20 team," said Ratcliff. "There is a great history with this program and we have two of the best sponsors in the sport with The Home Depot and Dollar General. I've had the opportunity to work with Joey a few times now on the Nationwide side so there is a familiarity there, but I'm looking forward to getting started fulltime and working alongside Dave (Rogers) and Darian (Grubb)."
    Zipadelli has been the crew chief for JGR's No. 20 program since the team was formed in 1999. Over the 13-year span he has won 33 total races and two NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championships with driver Tony Stewart (2002 and 2005). He was also on top of the pit box for Joey Logano's first career victory in 2009 which made him the youngest driver ever to win on the Cup level. Zipadelli is leaving JGR to pursue an opportunity with Stewart-Haas Racing.(Joe Gibbs Racing)(12-16-2011)

  • Zippy back with Stewart? UPDATE 3: hearing that Greg Zipadelli, currently the crew chief for #20-Joe Logano, could be headed to Stewart-Haas Racing in the future. Greg Zipadelli would take over as the crew chief for #14-Tony Stewart, who he won two Sprint Cup titles with [2002, 2005]. Current #14 crew chief, Darian Grubb, would move into Bobby Hutchens old position of director of competition [NOTE: Grubb didn't and left the team and is now at JGR as #11-Hamlin's crew chief]. Hutchens and Stewart-Haas recently parted ways. Hutchins was Stewart-Haas Racing's Director of Competition and Stewart said they are looking for a replacement. Matt Borland was promoted to vice president of competition and is serving as Stewart-Haas Racing's interim director of competition. Stewart said recently that "once that position is filled, the director of competition will report to Matt."(6-21-2011)
    See past denials and news on my #20 Team News page.
    UPDATE 3 - Zipadelli Named Competition Director for Stewart-Haas Racing: Greg Zipadelli, winner of two championships and 34 victories as a crew chief in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, has been named competition director at Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR). He will work with Vice President of Competition Matt Borland and oversee the #14 and #39 teams, while also building the #10 team for which Danica Patrick will run a 10-race Sprint Cup schedule with in 2012. Zipadelli comes to SHR from Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) where he served as crew chief for the #20 team since 1999. It's where the 44-year-old from Berlin, Conn., began a 10-year tenure with Tony Stewart, the co-owner of SHR along with Gene Haas, founder of Haas Automation. From 1999 through 2008, Zipadelli was Stewart's crew chief, with the duo winning Sprint Cup titles in 2002 and 2005 while claiming 33 victories and 10 poles. When Stewart left JGR following the 2008 season to form SHR, Zipadelli stayed and spent three years as the crew chief for Joey Logano, where he helped deliver Logano's first career Sprint Cup victory on June 28, 2009 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon. "We're very proud to have Greg Zipadelli join Stewart-Haas Racing," said Stewart, the three-time and reigning Sprint Cup champion. "Greg and I have a long and successful history together. I know him and he knows me, and we both know what it takes to build race teams. We took our time in searching for a competition director because it's an important role with a lot of responsibility. Greg knows all that goes into the job, understands the importance of teamwork and communication across all levels of the organization, and is ultimately someone I have a great deal of trust in."
    The addition of Zipadelli to the SHR family is a reunion on two fronts – Stewart, of course, but also with Steve Addington, who spent 2004-2008 at JGR and is now Stewart's crew chief at SHR with the #14 team. (Tony Gibson serves as crew chief for the #39 team and driver Ryan Newman.)
    "Joe Gibbs always says that you win with people, and Tony Stewart is a winner," Zipadelli said. "We won a lot together at Joe Gibbs Racing, and it was a sad day when he left. But Tony had an unbelievable opportunity with Stewart-Haas Racing, and he's obviously made the most of it. To become a part of what he's already built, but to do it in a new role with a new set of responsibilities, was a challenge I wanted. I really appreciate Joe and J.D. Gibbs for all that that they've given me over the years and for allowing me to seize this opportunity."
    Zipadelli's career began humbly. His first job in racing was working on a NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour car owned by his uncle at age seven, and by age 14, he was preparing racecars for his family-owned Sherwood Racing Team. By the time he was 20, Zipadelli was a championship-winning crew chief, leading Modified Tour driver Mike McLaughlin to the series title on the heels of five wins and 15 top-five finishes. When McLaughlin moved up to the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East with prominent New England car owner Mike Greci, Zipadelli followed and the tandem recorded five wins between 1990 and 1993.
    McLaughlin departed Greci's operation at the end of the 1993 season, but Zipadelli stayed with the team and worked with a handful of drivers in 1994 and 1995. Zipadelli's perseverance paid off in 1996 when driver Mike Stefanik joined the team. While no wins were recorded that year, eight top-five and nine top-10 finishes made way for a championship season in 1997. Stefanik marched to the series title that year riding a wave of consistency with two wins, 14 top-five and 16 top-10 finishes, giving Zipadelli his second NASCAR touring series championship in less than a decade.
    With two championship rings before age 30, Zipadelli headed south in January 1998 to join Roush Fenway Racing's Sprint Cup operation as the chassis specialist for the No. 99 team of then driver Jeff Burton. As Burton won two races, earned 18 top-five and 23 top-10 finishes and finished fifth in points, Zipadelli's talent was noticed. In late 1998 when team owner Joe Gibbs began laying the groundwork for a second team with Stewart behind the wheel, he tabbed Zipadelli to be the No. 20 team's crew chief. Now, after 13 highly successful years at JGR, Zipadelli's career ascension continues with his new role as competition director at SHR.(Stewart-Haas Racing)(12-16-2011)

  • Changes for restrictor plate racing at Preseason-Testing: Preseason Thunder Testing for the Sprint Cup Series is Jan. 12-13-14 at Daytona International Speedway for final preparations for 2012 Speedweeks, in particular, the running of the 54th annual Daytona 500 – Sunday, Feb. 26, 2012. Rules package is a result of information gathered during recent tests at Talladega (October) and Daytona (November) the new rules package includes:
    Smaller radiator - Maximum of 2 gallon capacity
    Smaller overflow tank - Maximum capacity of ½ gallon
    Radiator inlet is moved up closer into the front center bumper area
    Rate reduction in the springs – softer springs
    Smaller rear spoiler
    Base line restrictor plate of 29/32 inch (1/64 inch larger than plate size for the 2011 Daytona 500)(NASCAR)
    AND NASCAR has issued a new technical bulletin to its Sprint Cup teams, detailing major changes to cooling systems for 2012 Speedweeks at Daytona International Speedway in an effort to better regulate tandem drafting. According to Chris Paulson, president and owner of C&R Racing Inc. -- which manufactures nearly all of the radiators used in NASCAR's premier series -- the sanctioning body will be significantly reducing the size of the radiators and changing the location of the grille openings before the cars return for Daytona testing in January. "[Sprint Cup Series director] John Darby is implementing a two-gallon maximum radiator size," Paulson said. "So in other words, the big, huge five-gallon radiators everybody's running will be down to two. And that accumulator can was a one-gallon max volume. It's going down to a half-gallon-sized can." The idea is to make the cooling systems less efficient, Paulson said, forcing the cars to run in open air to keep water temperatures down. "We'll probably see some result from that, but it's not going to be huge, mainly because they've got these things figured out now," Paulson said. "But it's still going to have an effect. The bigger effect is going to be moving the grille opening up to the bumper fascia area. Because now when they're tucked up behind another car, they're really going to kill all the air. So I think they're on the right track with that. They'll get the result that way."(NASCAR.com)(12-16-2011)

  • 2011 Season Winnings
    Rank Driver Race Winnings Special Awards NASCAR/Sprint Season Total
    1 Tony Stewart $6,567,771 $310,500 $5,792,800 $12,671,071
    2 Carl Edwards $8,490,064 $416,600 $2,445,300 $11,351,964
    3 Kevin Harvick $6,201,219   $1,871,150 $8,072,369
    4 Matt Kenseth $6,187,659 $100,000 $1,613,750 $7,901,409
    5 Brad Keselowski $5,087,744   $1,415,700 $6,503,444
    6 Jimmie Johnson $6,312,034   $1,287,000 $7,599,034
    7 Dale Earnhardt Jr. $4,171,588   $1,158,300 $5,329,888
    8 Jeff Gordon $5,919,159 $75,000 $1,132,560 $7,126,719
    9 Denny Hamlin $5,471,868   $1,106,820 $6,578,688
    10 Ryan Newman $5,307,098   $1,081,080 $6,388,178
    11 Kurt Busch $5,942,791   $772,200 $6,714,991
    12 Kyle Busch $6,165,098 $100,000 $894,945 $7,160,043
    13 Clint Bowyer $5,678,026   $643,500 $6,321,526
    14 Kasey Kahne $4,781,481   $617,760 $5,399,241
    15 A.J. Allmendinger $4,829,639   $592,020 $5,421,659
    16 Greg Biffle $4,322,128   $566,280 $4,888,408
    17 Paul Menard $3,860,013   $540,540 $4,400,553
    18 Martin Truex Jr. $3,959,638   $514,800 $4,474,438
    19 Marcos Ambrose $4,754,464   $489,060 $5,243,524
    20 Jeff Burton $3,807,776   $463,320 $4,271,096
    21 Juan Pablo Montoya $5,024,851   $257,400 $5,282,251
    22 Mark Martin $3,834,983   $231,660 $4,066,643
    23 David Ragan $4,203,663   $218,790 $4,422,453
    24 Joey Logano $3,856,013   $205,920 $4,061,933
    25 Brian Vickers $4,301,877   $193,050 $4,494,927
    33 Andy Lally (A) $2,868,218 $59,000   $2,927,218
    36 Michael McDowell (B) $2,475,317   $9,295 $2,484,612

    (A) rookie of the year
    (B) ran a race in the #18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota. See more on my 2011 Cup Awards page.(12-16-2011)

  • Slight Increase In Cautions During 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup Season: The 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season had an increase in the number of cautions compared to 2010, but less than the 2009 total. There were 278 cautions during the 36-race Sprint Cup season just completed compared to 265 in 2010. The 2009 total was 305. All 36 races reached the scheduled distance with seven extended by late-race cautions which set up a green-white-checkered finish. Here’s a caution breakdown for the last three years provided by Darnell Communications for Dodge Motorsports.
    SPRINT CUP SERIES
    Season, 2011, 2010, 2009
    Cautions: 278; 265; 305
    Caution Laps: 1358; 1,325; 1,447
    Laps Run: 10,550; 10,778; 10,492
    Miles Run: 14,236.738; 14,537.508; 14,107.391
    Miles Under Caution: 1,813.507; 1,839.510; 1,972.568
    Most Cautions in a Race
    2011 – 18 (Martinsville2)
    2010 – 15 (Martinsville2)
    2009 – 17 (Darlington)
    Fewest Cautions in a Race
    2011 – 3 (New Hampshire2)
    2010 – 3 (Richmond2)
    2009 -- 3 (Michigan1, Indianapolis)
    Most Caution Laps in a Race
    2011 – 108 (Martinsville2)
    2010 – 103 (Bristol2)
    2009 – 73 (Martinsville1)
    Most Miles Under Caution
    2011 – 150.000 (Daytona1)
    2010 – 100.000 (Daytona1)
    2009 – 99.718 (Darlington)
    Race Extended Due to Caution
    2011 – 7
    2010 – 7
    2009 – 5
    Races Shortened Due To Weather
    2011 – 0
    2010 – 0
    2009 – 3
    Caution Breakdown
    Seasons, 2011, 2010, 2009
    Cautions, 278, 265, 305
    Accident, 139, 140, 146
    Spin/Stalled, 47, 46, 53
    Debris, 59, 49, 70
    Oil/Fluids, 17, 16, 14
    Rain, 9, 5, 12
    Competition Yellow, 6, 6, 9
    Other, 1, 3, 1
    (Darnell Communications for Dodge Motorsports)(12-16--2011)

  • Tickets for 2012 Race Season at Infineon Raceway On-Sale: Infineon Raceway officially opened its ticket office on Thursday, Dec. 15, for the 2012 Big O Tires Racing Season, highlighted by the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series, IZOD IndyCar Series and AMA Pro Road Racing. It's one of the most comprehensive motor-racing schedules in the country. The Toyota/Save Mart 350 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series highlights the upcoming race season, June 22-24, as NASCAR returns for the 24th year to tackle the twisting road course. Tempers and sheet metal are sure to fly. In addition to individual race tickets, the raceway will offer a variety of ticket packages to NASCAR, including the Save Mart Supermarkets 2-Pack, which boasts two reserved race-day tickets for just $99. You can also get up close to drivers during pre-race festivities with a Pre-Race Pit & Track Pass for just $75. Race fans can also check out great race-weekend camping options. Fans can purchase individual or weekend tickets as well as special ticket packages for all 2012 major events by calling 800-870-RACE (7223), visiting an account representative at Infineon Raceway or by purchasing tickets online at infineonraceway.com/tickets. Camping is also available for all major events.(Infineon Raceway)(12-16-2011)

  • Martinsville Speedway's Campbell Named Promoter Of The Year: Martinsville Speedway President Clay Campbell was recently named the promoter of the year by the Old Timers Racing Club. The award was presented to Campbell for his tireless effort to treat drivers in every division at Martinsville Speedway fairly and equally. Campbell, who is a driver himself, was selected from a large group of promoters, past and present, which included his late grandfather and founder of Martinsville Speedway, H. Clay Earles. The group of nominees also included Bruton Smith, CEO of Speedway Motorsports, Humpy Wheeler, former promoter of Charlotte Motor Speedway, the late Enoch Staley, founder of North Wilkesboro Speedway and the late Paul Sawyer, founder of Richmond International Raceway. "It is an incredible honor to be picked from this group. Just to be mentioned in the same breath with my grandfather and all of these other gentlemen," said Campbell. "I thank the Old Timers Racing Club for this award and for what they do to help our sport." The Old Timers Racing Club was formed in 1991 to offer aid to former drivers with its Medical Hardship Fund. The club has more than 400 members and has helped dozens of retired drivers over the past two decades.(Martinsville Speedway)(12-16-2011)


    News from December 15, 2011

  • Best Buy to sponsor Kenseth?: Roush Fenway Racing and #17-Matt Kenseth appear to be well on their way to securing the Best Buy sponsorship for 2012, according to sources familiar with the situation. The Roush organization has pledged to run Kenseth, the 2003 Cup champion, without sponsorship but has been working hard to find funding for the driver coming off a three-win season where he placed fourth in the Cup standings. Kenseth's primary sponsor Crown Royal opted not to sponsor a race team in 2012. Best Buy's sponsorship of #43-AJ Allmendinger at Richard Petty Motorsports was for 24 races in 2011. RPM has not announced any sponsorship for the #43 car for next season. An RPM spokesman said the team would have no comment on its sponsorship search.(SceneDaily)(12-15-2011)

  • Keselowski, Logano Visit Guantanamo Bay On NASCAR/USO Tour: #2-Brad Keselowski and #20-Joey Logano, brought holiday cheer, smiles and good times to troops and their families on the NASCAR-USO/Armed Forces Entertainment tour at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba during their NASCAR-USO visit Dec. 12-14. The tour of Guantanamo Bay was part of an ongoing partnership between NASCAR and the USO to strengthen a connection between the military and motorsports in an effort to help boost the morale of U.S. troops and their families stationed around the world. The partnership also included NASCAR and the USO hosting a group of wounded warriors at the 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Awards Ceremony in Las Vegas. During the visit, Keselowski and Logano visited hundreds of sailors and coast guardsmen and their families. The pair also dined with troops, visited the U.S. Navy Hospital, signed autographs and patrolled the waters with service members. This was the first USO tour for Keselowski and Logano, who are avid supporters of the military community. Both have visited Walter Reed Army Medical Center, now known as Walter Reed National Medical Center, and spent quality time with wounded warriors.(NASCAR), see quotes on the #2 Team News page.(12-15-2011)

  • TAG Heuer Eyewear sticks with Kurt Busch:
    TAG Heuer Eyewear announced Thursday that it has re-signed 2004 NASCAR Sprint Cup champion Kurt Busch to a multi-year contract extension in his role as an ambassador for the company and its eyewear products. Busch, who joined the TAG Heuer family at the beginning of 2010, works effectively to bring exposure to the brand and its products as well as aid in retailer development. Busch exclusively wears TAG Heuer sunglasses and is featured in Eyewear print, billboard, in-store and Internet advertisements. He will continue to display the TAG Heuer Eyewear logo on the racing helmet that he wears in NASCAR competition (as well as in other forms of motorsports). In 2011, TAG Heuer created a Kurt Busch collector edition sunglass that was made available at U.S. retailers. "Kurt has truly been an excellent ambassador for the TAG Heuer Eyewear brand," said Guillaume Pottecher, president of Premiere Vision, the U.S. distributor for TAG Heuer Eyewear. "TAG Heuer is affiliated with leading personalities and properties around the sports and entertainment world and Kurt fits that role perfectly. He is unquestionably one of the premier talents in NASCAR and in his work for us on every occasion he has gone above and beyond what we could expect of him. We very much look forward to the future together with Kurt."(SPEED)(12-15-2011)

  • Kellogg's returns as a primary sponsor of #99 Ford: Roush Fenway Racing and Kellogg Company have announced the multi-year extension of their NASCAR partnership. Kellogg will serve as a primary sponsor of the #99 Ford for four (4) Sprint Cup races in 2012, teaming its famed Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes cereal and Cheez-It crackers with perennial championship contender and fan favorite Carl Edwards.
    Kellogg has been involved with NASCAR for many years, including serving as a primary sponsor of the #99 Ford with Roush Fenway for the past two seasons. “It’s an honor to be involved with Kellogg,” said Edwards. “They have tremendous commitment to quality in everything they do and racing fans love their products. They are a fun partner to go racing with and I’m excited about continuing the relationship.”
    “Our involvement with racing gives us a great opportunity to interact with our consumers in a fun, exciting environment,” said Brad Davidson, president, Kellogg North America. “We are thrilled to extend our relationship with Carl and Roush Fenway Racing, and we look forward to seeing Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes and Cheez-it crackers on the #99 car next season.”(Roush Fenway Racing), see images of the 2012 schemes on the #99 Team Schemes page.(12-15-2011)

  • Whitney Motorsports moves, will have new crew chief: On #46 Whitney Motorsports Facebook it was announced that the team has parted ways with crew chief Tony Furr and moved to a new shop in Huntersville, NC and the team is in huge overhaul for preparation of the 2012 NSCS Season. Driver Scott Speed recently signed on with the #95 Leavine Family Racing Ford team to run 15 races for them in 2012.(12-15-2011)

  • Congrats - Ragan gets engaged: David Ragan made one thing certain this offseason – his love for Jacquelyn Ann Butler. The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver recently proposed to his longtime girlfriend and the two have set a 2012 wedding date of Dec. 15 at a Charlotte-area church. Butler and Ragan met Sept. 6, 2006 on the UNC Charlotte campus not far from Charlotte Motor Speedway and the two have been fixtures at the racetrack ever since. Ragan just completed his fifth full year in the Sprint Cup Series and is currently in negotiations with teams in regard to his 2012 season.(FullCircle Ventures)(12-15-2011)

  • #93 team releases driver: Sinica Motorsports Inc. has decided to release rookie driver Grant Enfinger. The future of the team is critical and everyone felt it was the best decision to be made at this time. Enfinger who had been hired on only made one attempt to qualify which came at the final race of the 2011 season at Homestead-Miami Speedway. "We wish Grant success in his future career. Sinica Motorsports would like to thank all of its sponsors including Hewe's Concrete Polishing, Wixe Radio, Sterler Productions, and Ham Insurance Agency for their support" Since the release of Enfinger the team has spoken to several drivers including 2004 Sprint Cup Champion Kurt Busch who was recently released by Penske Racing.(Sinica Motorsports PR)(12-15-2011)

  • NASCAR looking at banning driver-to-driver communications: NASCAR is expected to revise its policy on in-car radio communications, including a possible ban on drivers communicating with other drivers over their in-car radios for at least restrictor-plate events in 2012. The sanctioning body is reviewing its current policy, which does allow driver-to-driver radio contact, a series spokesman said, and expects to have a revised policy in place in 2012. The practice was used heavily during the restrictor-plate races as drivers worked in two-car tandems. The drivers would use one spotter and be able to communicate with each other. NASCAR is expected to make other rule changes in hopes of getting rid of the two-car drafts at Daytona and Talladega. Smaller spoilers and different cooling systems are the most likely changes.(SceneDaily)(12-15-2011)

  • Biffle to be in the 2012 Rose Bowl Parade: #16-Greg Biffle will help Natural Balance Pet Foods make a “splash” in the upcoming 123rd Rose Parade on January 2nd, 2012. In 2010 the Natural Balance float rolled into the Guinness Book of World records as the world’s longest float and in 2011, took the record for the world’s heaviest float. This year the Natural Balance float will be 116 feet long and feature a tropical floral setting. After extensive training, the dogs on the float will actually surf on 65-foot long waves in over 6,600 gallons of water on a float weighing more than 100,000 pounds. A specially designed “wave” machine is incorporated into the design of the float and creates a wave every minute. The Rose Bowl Parade will air live from Pasadena, Calif. on ABC at 11:00 am/et. Check out Biffle and Tillman, the World’s Fastest Skateboarding Bulldog at www.GregBiffle.com and get a sneak peek at the building of the float at www.naturalbalanceinc.com.
    “I can’t wait to see the float,” said Biffle. “I’ve heard a lot about this year’s float and I’ve seen video of the floats from the last couple of years. Tillman came to our shop at Roush Fenway Racing last month and we got to see him skateboard. I heard he’ll be surfing on the float this year so I can’t wait to see that. It was definitely an honor to be asked to ride on the Natural Balance float because we share the same passion for the well-being of animals.” In addition to the ABC broadcast, the 123rd Rose Parade will be broadcast on the Hallmark Channel, HGTV, KTLA (Tribune), NBC, RFD-TV and Univision. The Parade is also seen in more than 200 international territories and countries. The Natural Balance float is 54th out of 91 parade entries. It is preceded by a high-school band and succeeded by the Southern California Peruvian Paso Horse Club Riders. The parade will make an unprecedented pause for 45 seconds when the Natural Balance Float, a float of "high visual interest", passes the viewing stand, in order to ponder "dogs that surf". For the very first time in Rose Parade history there will be a robotic camera on the float. The Natural Balance Float is powered by Ford's latest version of the 6.8L 3v engine which will be available this April in the new Ford F-650 Super Duty Truck.(Roush Fenway Racing)(12-15-2011)

  • Lender begins foreclosure proceedings on Mayfield's property: Suspended NASCAR driver Jeremy Mayfield’s financial troubles got worse this week as his mortgage lender has begun foreclosure proceedings on his approximately 400-acre property in North Carolina. Mayfield took out a $3.1 million mortgage in July 2006, and his lender alleges that he has failed to make his payments, according to the foreclosure filed Tuesday in North Carolina Superior Court in Newton, N.C. That has resulted in the lender, Carolina Farm Credit, to call on Mayfield to pay the balance of $2.387 million plus more than $340,000 in interest and fees, according to the filing. A hearing on the foreclosure is set for Feb. 7.(more at SceneDaily) and see past news on the Jeremy Mayfield page.(12-15-2011)

  • Richie Evans to be featured in one-hour special: He wasn’t born and raised in the South like several of his NASCAR Hall of Fame predecessors. The majority of his racing took place in the Northeast and he wasn’t a household name like many NASCAR legends, but New York’s Richie Evans will be immortalized alongside those stock car heroes in the 2012 class of the NASCAR Hall of Fame.
    Evans, recognized as the “king of Modified racing,” captured nine NASCAR Modified championships in 13 years, including a streak of eight consecutive beginning in 1978. He won an estimated 475 feature races, earning him multiple track championships throughout the Northeast. Evans’ life and career was cut short, however, when he was fatally injured in 1985 during a practice session at Martinsville Speedway. Afterward, the 44-year-old’s #61 became the first and only car number retired in any NASCAR division.
    SPEED and NASCAR Media Group celebrate the life and accomplishments of “The Rapid Roman” in a one-hour biography special premiering Friday, Dec. 16 at 8 pm/et. Evans will be inducted into the third class of the NASCAR Hall of Fame on Jan. 20 alongside Cale Yarborough, Darrell Waltrip, Dale Inman and Glen Wood.(much more at SPEED)(12-15-2011)

  • CMS and USO of NC to Host Inaugural Vietnam Veterans Homecoming Celebration: More than 216,000 North Carolina residents served in Vietnam, and some 1,600 made the ultimate sacrifice in that war. Now, the USO of North Carolina and Charlotte Motor Speedway, with support from the North Carolina Association of Broadcasters, will honor their service with an incredible Vietnam Veterans Homecoming Celebration for the military members and their friends and families at the Speedway Club at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Thursday, December 15, at 11 am. Vietnam veterans never received the type of homecoming celebration that today's troops receive as they return from service. To honor those who served and the military members who returned from combat, the USO of North Carolina is holding a long, overdue homecoming celebration. Hosted by the USO of North Carolina and Charlotte Motor Speedway, the Vietnam Veterans Homecoming Celebration 2012 is set to be an unforgettable experience featuring live entertainment, displays and demonstrations, military salutes, and much more!
    Mr. David Kennerly, Pulitzer Prize Winning Vietnam Combat Photographer
    Lt. Gen. Tom Waskow, Air Force, (Retired), Forward Air Controller, Republic of Vietnam
    Col. Quincy Collins, Air Force, (Retired), Vietnam POW
    Col. Charles Williams, U.S. Army, (Retired), Artillery Battery Commander and
    Battalion Operations officer, 101st Airborne Division, Republic of Vietnam
    Lt. Col. John Falkenbury, U.S. Army (Retired), President, USO of North Carolina
    Danny Highsmith, President, North Carolina Association of Broadcasters
    (VMG PR)(12-15-2011)

  • Chicagoland Speedway announces new president...for a day: Chicagoland Speedway president Scott Paddock is relinquishing his seat at the helm of the Speedway while Comcast SportsNet's Chicago Tribune Live host, David Kaplan, proudly steps in to serve as Chicagoland Speedway's president for the day. In what originally started off as a friendly bet between Paddock and Kaplan on their weekly Comcast SportsNet show, quickly turned into a season-long point's competition for bragging rights and a day that will turn out to be one of the best days for NASCAR fans in the Chicagoland area.
    "Sure, Scott Paddock has made many steps in the right direction since taking over last year, but it's not every day I get to be president of the state's largest sporting facility," said Kaplan, the only broadcaster in Chicago to host a daily radio show, TV show and write a regular column in a major newspaper simultaneously. "As president of Chicagoland Speedway for the day, I want to do something that really gives back to race fans and helps them enjoy their favorite sport up-close-and-personal. That's why I'm implementing special advance ticket pricing so fans that purchase early will have access to even more affordable pricing. And for the first time ever, I'm also going to allow every fan that purchases a ticket to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race to experience the banking of Chicagoland Speedway first hand by allowing all fans on the track for a post-race track walk."
    With Kaplan's announcement, for the first time in Chicagoland Speedway history the track will offer advanced ticket pricing. From February 26-April 28, fans can purchase tickets to the two 2012 NASCAR race weekends in advance for the lowest rate of the season—guaranteed—with single day tickets starting at $25 for the July race weekend and $45 for the September Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup weekend. Also, for the first time in the track's history fans will have the opportunity to walk the race track immediately following September's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race.
    In addition to Kaplan's fan first-ever fan initiatives he's implementing, he also has changes for the staff at Chicagoland Speedway, "To my loyal Chicagoland Speedway employees, please leave the office by 3:00 p.m. and enjoy the rest of your afternoon!" Catch Kaplan on Comcast SportNet's Chicago Tribune Live to see his day at Chicagoland Speedway.(more info on contests and tickets at Chicagoland Speedway webiste)(12-15-2011)

  • Auto Club Speedway askes for support with the Kazoo: Did you know that the kazoo was invented over 160 years ago in the USA? Ever since then fans young and old have been campaigning to make it the official musical instrument of America. Now is the time to step-up and do your part. By participating in "$35 Ticket Tuesdays" in January Auto Club Speedway will hand over a FREE kazoo, but it is up to you to tell the world how awesome it is!
    In addition to National Kazoo Day in January, Auto Club Speedway will celebrate National Bubblegum Day in February and National Make Your Own Holiday Day in March. Each Tuesday during the months of January, February and March, Auto Club Speedway will give away "extra goodies" to anyone who mentions "Ticket Tuesday" when purchasing a $35 ticket to the Auto Club 400 on March 25. But hurry, these extra incentives are sure to go quickly.
    Beginning Tuesday, Jan. 3, be the first to take advantage of one of the most unique and what has become one of the most talked about ticket promotions. These offers are sure to be all the rage among NASCAR fans and will be available for a limited time only. Get your goodies – while supplies last – by calling 800-944-RACE (7223) or visiting the Speedway ticket office on Tuesday's between 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
    During the month of January, to celebrate National Kazoo Day on January 28: Buy a $35 ticket on any Tuesday in January and you will get your very own kazoo - feel free to start your own band. When you are a big-time kazoo playing star don't forget who got you started. During the month of February, to celebrate National Bubblegum Day on February 3: Buy a $35 ticket on any Tuesday in February and receive a pack of bubblegum. Did you know that according to the Guinness Book of World Records the largest bubblegum bubble ever blown is 20 inches in diameter?
    · During the month of March, we celebrate National Make Your Own Holiday Day on March 26: Buy a $35 ticket on any Tuesday in March and receive our assurance that we will fully support a special day of any kind or any holiday you decide to make up (within reason) – especially if you make the day "National Auto Club Speedway Day!"(ACS)(12-15-2011)

  • Speedway Children's Charities Atlanta Chapter Awards Grants: The Atlanta chapter of Speedway Children's Charities held its annual Jingle Mingle awards ceremony on December 6 and awarded $117,615 to 24 different organizations throughout the state of Georgia. Speedway Children's Charities mission is to care for children in educational, financial, social and medial need in order to help them lead productive lives. The Atlanta chapter was formed in 1994 to raise funds for qualified children's charitable organizations. To date, SCC Atlanta has distributed over $3.3 million to its charities. Each year the money is raised in a variety of ways, through events such as a golf tournament, motorcycle run, clay shoot and auctions.
    Organizations that received grants for the 2011 fiscal year include: A Friend's House, Advo-Kids CASA, Arts Clayton, Bert's Big Adventure, Calvin Center, Camp Kudzu, Camp Sunshine, Carrie Steele-Pitts Home, Children's Miracle Network Hospitals, Connecting Henry, CURE Childhood Cancer, FHL Football League, Flint River Council, FOCUS, Foster Care Support Foundation, Haven House, Henry County Parks & Recreation Special Olympics, Henry Medical Center, Honey Creek Youth Ranch, Nacolby's House, The People First of Henry County, Royal Family Kid's Camp of Clayton County, Southwest Christian Hospice/Hope House and Project Linus.
    Also, SCC Atlanta Chapter Director Ginger Moats was awarded a signed commendation by Governor Nathan Deal for her work with SCC and her community involvement. SCC gives special thanks for the Jingle Mingle event to AngusBest.com, Bruster's of Griffin and Wrecker 1.(AMS)(12-15-2011)


    News from December 14, 2011

  • Penske names new crew chief for #22 Dodge: Penske Racing announced that Todd Gordon is the new crew chief of the #22 Shell/Pennzoil Dodge Charger in the NASCAR Cup Series. The internal move comes on the heels of a successful 2011 NASCAR Nationwide Series (NNS) campaign, during which Gordon led the #22 Discount Tire Dodge Charger to six wins and six pole positions. “Our first priority is always to look within the walls of Penske Racing when making personnel decisions,” said Roger Penske. “We want to reward success. The path we are taking with Todd mirrors what we did with Paul Wolfe who led the #2 Miller Lite Dodge to a Chase berth in 2011. We think Todd can get the job done in the same manner.” Gordon made the move to Penske Racing in January of 2011. He and Brad Keselowski quickly developed a driver-crew chief rapport that resulted in another successful season, helping make the #22 Dodge one of the premier entries in NNS competition. “I can’t thank Roger and everyone at Penske Racing enough for this vote of confidence,” said Gordon. “It’s an honor to step into a race-winning team. We have a lot of work ahead of us, but this is an organization full of talented people that know how to get the job done. I look forward to getting the Shell/Pennzoil Dodge back in Victory Lane.” Penske Racing continues to evaluate drivers to fill the seat of the #22 Shell/Pennzoil Dodge.(Penske Racing), could the driver be Sam Hornish Jr.? as he is now listed as a Sprint Cup driver on his Penske Racing driver page.(12-14-2011)

  • Eligible drivers announced for the Bud Shootout: NASCAR announced today the list of eligible competitors for the 2012 Budweiser Shootout. The 34th annual season-opening event launches Speedweeks at Daytona International Speedway on Saturday, Feb. 18 with start time set for 8:10 pm/et. FOX Sports and MRN Radio will broadcast live nationally. Criteria for the non-points race are based upon the following qualifications, with eligibility based on a driver having been active in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series during the 2011 season:
    • The highest ranked 25 competitors in 2011 Driver Points
    • Previous winners at Daytona, including the Daytona 500, Coke Zero 400 Powered By Coca-Cola, and Budweiser Shootout events (not already in by being in top 25]
    “The criteria for the 2012 Budweiser Shootout ensures race fans that the best NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers will battle for a coveted victory on the historic high banks,” Daytona International Speedway President Joie Chitwood III said. “Throughout its long history, the Budweiser Shootout has produced plenty of fireworks on the track and race fans can expect another exciting star-studded night of racing as we kick off the new NASCAR season.”
    “By taking the top 25 competitors in last year’s driver points and combine that with former race winners at Daytona, you have all the ingredients for an extremely deep and talented field of drivers for the 2012 Budweiser Shootout,” said Robin Pemberton, NASCAR vice president of competition. “When you take a look at the roster of drivers that this entails, I have to believe this is one of the most competitive fields that have ever been assembled for this event.”
    The race distance will again be 75 laps (187.5 miles), consisting of two segments – 25 and 50 laps. Both green-flag laps and yellow-flag laps will count. Between segments there will be a 10-minute pit stop allowing teams to pit to change tires, add fuel and make normal chassis adjustments. Crews will be permitted to work on cars and will be allowed to perform functions they would do on a normal pit stop in a regular NASCAR Sprint Cup event. All work must be performed on pit road or in the garage. Changing of springs, shock absorbers or rear-ends will not be permitted. Starting positions will again be determined by a blind-draw at the annual Budweiser Shootout Draw Party on Friday, Feb. 17 at 8 pm/et on the SPEED stage in the Midway, outside Turn 4.
    The Budweiser Shootout was first held in 1979 and was originally known as the Busch Clash. Kurt Busch is the defending race champion.
    Tickets for the Budweiser Shootout start at $39, with special advance pricing available for tickets purchased in Janaury, and admission is free for children 12 and under. Tickets can be purchased for all 2012 Speedweeks events including the Budweiser Shootout online at www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com or by calling 1-800-PITSHOP.
    Drivers eligible for the 2012 Budweiser Shootout include:
    2011 Top 25 Driver Points #14-Tony Stewart
    #99-Carl Edwards
    #29-Kevin Harvick
    #17-Matt Kenseth
    #2-Brad Keselowski
    #48-Jimmie Johnson
    #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr.
    #24-Jeff Gordon
    #11-Denny Hamlin
    #39-Ryan Newman
    #?-Kurt Busch
    #18-Kyle Busch
    #15-Clint Bowyer
    #5-Kasey Kahne
    #43-A.J. Allmendinger
    #16-Greg Biffle
    #27-Paul Menard
    #56-Martin Truex Jr.
    #9-Marcos Ambrose
    #31-Jeff Burton
    #42-Juan Pablo Montoya
    #55-Mark Martin
    #?-David Ragan
    #20-Joey Logano
    #?-Brian Vickers
    Others (criteria in parentheses)
    #?-Bill Elliott (Daytona 500, Coke Zero 400, Budweiser Shootout)
    #?-Geoff Bodine (Daytona 500, Budweiser Shootout)
    #?-Derrike Cope (Daytona 500)
    #?-Michael Waltrip (Daytona 500, Coke Zero 400)
    #1-Jamie McMurray (Daytona 500, Coke Zero 400)
    #?-Trevor Bayne (Daytona 500)
    #?-Terry Labonte (Budweiser Shootout)
    #?-Ken Schrader (Budweiser Shootout)
    (DIS), see eligible drivers, links and past news on the 2012 Budweiser Shootout page and for 2011, see my 2011 Budweiser Shootout page and 2011 Bud Shootout Results page.(12-14-2011)

  • RPM considering Kurt Busch in #43 car? UPDATE Sirius XM NASCAR Radio's Sirius Speedway with Dave Moody has learned that in an effort to retain sponsor Best Buy, Richard Petty Motorsports has proposed replacing AJ Allmendinger as driver of the legendary #43 Ford with Busch. RPM struggled to re-sign Best Buy a year ago, negotiating until early January before inking a one-year contract. The electronics retailer served as major sponsor of the #43 team in 26 events this season.
    Richard Petty Motorsports Chief Operating Officer Robbie Loomis confirmed today that discussions have been held regarding Busch, saying, "Best Buy has been a great partner for a long time, and AJ Allmendinger has done a fantastic job for us. He's coming off his best season yet, but I can tell you there is a lot of interest on our part in having Kurt Busch in the fold. It makes sense to have Kurt with our team, if we can make it work.
    "Our main focus is to continue building on what we finished the season with last year," said Loomis. "But right now, I feel like I'm running down two different sets of train tracks. From a personal standpoint, nothing has excited me more than when I heard Kurt had become available. I'm excited about the opportunity to add a driver like Kurt Busch to Richard Petty Motorsports. I would mortgage my house to make Kurt a part of this team. We value what he has done on the race track. He has won a (Sprint Cup) championship and worked for a first-class operation like Penske Racing. Guys like that don't come along every day."
    Allmendinger finished 15th in 2011 Sprint Cup Series championship points, with one Top-5 and 10 Top-10 finishes. His best finish was a fifth in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway in late May. Busch won a pair of races this season at Infineon and Dover en route to 11th in points, tallying eight Top-5 and 16 Top-10 finishes. He parted company with Penske Racing earlier this month, in the aftermath of a much-publicized verbal confrontation with ESPN pit reporter Dr. Jerry Punch during the 2011 season finale at Homestead Miami Speedway (Sirius Speedway).
    AND no word what Allmendinger would do IF this happens; and not too sure Jack Roush [who Busch drove for before Penske and had issues with], who team supplies cars and engines to RPM would allow this to happen.(12-13-2011)
    UPDATE: RPM struggled to re-sign Best Buy a year ago, negotiating until early January before inking a one-year contract. The electronics retailer served as major sponsor of the #43 team in 26 events this season. RPM did not release an official statement on the speculation that either Allmendinger had been released or if Best Buy was ready to remain with the team for 2012. The possibility of adding Busch as a third entry has also been discussed but contingent on finding additional sponsorship.(CBS Sports)(12-14-2011)

  • Scott Speed Joins Leavine Family Racing: Scott Speed has joined Leavine Family Racing (LFR) for a limited 15-race NASCAR Sprint Cup Series schedule for 2012 in the #95 Ford. A veteran of all three of NASCAR's premier national touring series, Speed joins Leavine Family Racing after making 13 Sprint Cup starts with Whitney Motorsports' in the #46 Ford. Speed will be competing in his fifth Sprint Cup Series season. The California native competed full-time with Red Bull Racing in 2010; earning two top-10 finishes and leading 21 laps. "We are pleased to have Scott Speed join our team," team owner Bob Leavine said. "We, as a team, want to give Scott the equipment and the resources he needs to win – and that is what I believe he will do for us in return. Scott is a proven driver. He was the first American to race in Formula One since Michael Andretti and has a lot to offer our program as a teammate and a competitor."
    Speed has made 18 starts in the Nationwide Series and 16 starts in the Camping World Truck Series over the past four years. He posted a truck series win at the Dover International Speedway in 2008. His best Nationwide Series finish came on the road course at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve last year where he placed sixth. Speed earned career first pole in the series in 2009. Speed began his racing career in Karting at the age of 10. Making his way through the open-wheel racing ranks throughout the West Coast, he made his Formula One debut in 2001. From there he has successfully competed in Formula One making 28 career starts before making the transition to stock-car racing in 2007 with the ARCA Racing Series.
    The 28-year-old driver is thrilled to have the opportunity to compete with Leavine Family Racing. "I am excited to team up with Bob Leavine and his guys at Leavine Family Racing," Speed said. They have a solid group of guys working on the team and I think it will be a real fun deal. Our goal is to build this race team to become competitive. We know it will be baby steps, but we are all excited to get it rolling."(Leavine Family Racing)(12-14-2011)

  • Erwin re-ups with RPM: #43 crew chief Greg Erwin has re-signed with Richard Petty Motorsports. Erwin joined the #43 team prior to the Brickyard 400 in July and led Allmendinger to a career-high 15th-place finish in the points standings.(FoxSports)(12-14-2011)

  • Bill France Jr. Inducted Broadcasting Hall of Fame: Bill France Jr., who served as head of NASCAR from 1972 to 2003, was be inducted into the Sport Video Group's Sports Broadcasting Hall of Fame Tuesday night in New York City. In addition to Bill Jr., this year's class includes legendary broadcaster Jack Buck; former NBC executive Dick Ebersol; NEP Supershooter's Deb Honkus and George Hoover; IMG founder Mark McCormack; NFL Films great Steve Sabol; and visionary audio mixer Ron Scalise, a lynchpin at ESPN. Elected by a group of 80 past and present industry leaders, the 2011 class will be the fifth in SVG's Sports Broadcasting Hall of Fame and will join such luminaries as Roone Arledge, John Madden, Don Ohlmeyer, Pete Rozelle, Vin Scully, Charlie Steinberg, George Wensel, and more than 30 other industry legends. NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France accepted the Sport Video Group's Sports Broadcasting Hall of Fame induction on behalf of his father Bill France Jr.(12-14-2011)

  • Martinsville Speedway Toy Drives Brings Christmas Cheer To 200 Children: Hundreds of people turned out Saturday for hot laps around Martinsville Speedway, really hot laps in the pace car with Martinsville Speedway President Clay Campbell, and most importantly to donate hundreds of toys and money to the 15th Annual Martinsville Speedway Toy Drive. Almost 1,000 toys were donated along with an additional $2,500. The toys will be distributed to needy families in the Martinsville and Henry County area by the Grace Network, an organization of almost 100 area churches. Those toys will go to help about 200 children in the Martinsville and Henry County area have a brighter Christmas morning. People donated $10 to drive their cars around the historic half-mile oval while the more adventuresome donated $25 to take hot laps in the Martinsville Speedway pace car with Campbell behind the wheel. The Grace Network will use all money collected in the toy drive and from concession sales to purchase additional toys. The staff of Martinsville Speedway donated their time Saturday to man the infield concession stand to cook and sell hot dogs, coordinated the hot laps and pace car laps with Campbell.(Martinsville Speedway)(12-14-2011)

  • Random Acts of Kindness Night at Bristol: It was an early Christmas for those who chose to visit AutoTrader.com Speedway In Lights powered by TVA at Bristol Motor Speedway on Sunday evening. For the second season, all visitors were admitted free to the holiday light show as part of Random Acts of Kindness Night in memory of Jeff Byrd, the longtime general manager and president of Bristol Motor Speedway and Dragway who passed away in October of 2010. Byrd, whose 62nd birthday would have been this past weekend, was a strong advocate of providing a helping hand to anyone who needed it. To honor him, a number of the Speedway's partners again offered support for what certainly was one of his favorite gestures. At the end of the night, more than 1,100 vehicles passed through the lights and benefited from the act. Random Act of Kindness Night was made possible through the support of Baker's Construction Services, Can Do Enterprises, Corporal Clean, Express Signs, First Tennessee Foundation, Foster Signs, Green Acres, IT Decisions, JANPAK and Universal Printing. Proceeds from Autotrader.com Speedway In Lights powered by TVA benefit the Bristol Chapter of Speedway Children's Charities, a non-profit organization dedicated to raising funds for children's agencies in Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia. The Bristol Chapter of SCC has raised in excess of $6.5 million since 1997. Speedway In Lights is open nightly 6-10 p.m. through Jan. 7. Tickets, which may be purchased at the gate, are $10 for cars Sunday through Thursday, and $12 Friday and Saturday. Activity van tickets are $15 each night and bus tickets are $65 each night.(BMS)(12-14-2011)

  • Clay Campbell Spends Day On Sign, Nets Children's Foundation Over $25,000: Clay Campbell could have made an early descent from atop the Martinsville Speedway entrance sign Friday afternoon, but he knew the longer he stayed up in the air meant more money to help needy children in the Martinsville and Henry County area. Campbell, the president of Martinsville Speedway, had vowed to stay perched some 38 feet in the air until he raised $20,000 for the Martinsville Speedway Children's Foundation. That total was hit by mid-afternoon, but Campbell made the easy decision to stay put, even as temperatures dropped later in the afternoon. By the time Campbell descended at 4 p.m. contributions had topped $25,000.(Martinsville Speedway)(12-14-2011)

  • Mansfield Motorsports Park sale delayed until after appeals court ruling: The court order to sell Mansfield Motorsports Park at a sheriff's sale has been stayed until an appeals panel rules on a legal question. At issue is whether owners of the racetrack on the city's north end facility can retroactively challenge MMP's property tax assessment through the court system, bypassing usual processes set up under state law. The Fifth District Court of Appeals will hear that dispute in Mansfield on Jan. 12. Richland County Treasurer Bart W. Hamilton filed in September 2010 to foreclose against MMP for past-due property taxes. Since that time, total delinquency has climbed to $262,000, according to the treasurer's office. Mansfield Motorsports Park then separately filed a court action against the Richland County auditor and state tax commissioner, asking Richland County Common Pleas Judge James DeWeese to intervene to provide tax relief.(full story at Mansfield News Journal)(12-14-2011)


    News from December 13, 2011

  • Stewart wins 2011 Driver of the Year Award: #14-Tony Stewart was voted both 2011 Driver of the Year and Fourth Quarter winner, respectively, by an elite panel of broadcasters and journalists. Unlike this year's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship, decided in a tiebreaker, the voting in the Annual - as well as the fourth quarter - were landslides. Stewart was also voted Driver of the Year in 2005 after his second NASCAR Sprint Cup title. The Columbus, Ind., native put on a performance not seen before in the Chase with five wins in the season's final 10 races in the #14 Office Depot/Mobil 1 Chevy. Stewart, who in his third season as co-owner Stewart-Haas Racing with Haas Automation founder Gene Haas, was quick to credit his team for the title at NASCAR's Award banquet. Upon learning of taking both the final quarter and the coveted Driver of the Year AWARD for the second time Stewart said, "I have a lot of pride in this. This is an award that comes from a highly esteemed group. These are the awards that mean the most." Commenting on the Chase Stewart added "The last quarter was a history maker, for sure. There are so many champions honored this way (the Award). It's just amazing I don't know how to put it words. It's truly an honor."
    It's certainly ironic that last year's vote involved a spirited debate, but this year's was a slam dunk," said Driver of the Year president Barry Schmoyer. "Stewart's come from behind victory at Homestead will thrill fans for ages," Schmoyer added. Journalist and broadcasters, who voted in a secret ballot for a single driver, gave Stewart 15 votes, Carl Edwards, Dario Franchitti, Jason Meyers and Del Worsham all received one vote. In the quarterly voting Stewart beat Edwards and Meyers (162-73-51, respectively) getting all but one of the first place votes.
    In its' 45th year, the Driver of the Year title is unique because it is the original award of its' type that encompasses all of the racing series and all of the drivers in the United States. A panel of 20 leading journalists and broadcasters from across the U.S. are eligible to vote. One vote was not tabulated this year. Stewart will receive his trophies and Tissot wristwatches at presentations at places and times to be announced later.(DOTY)(12-13-2011)

  • NASCAR will use HD instant replay system: Telestream, the leading provider of video transcoding and workflow automation systems, announced that it has created a new High Definition (HD) instant replay system for NASCAR race control officials. Developed for the start of the 2012 racing season, Telestream's new Replay multichannel video player combines with its Pipeline HD video capture system to provide instant capture and display of 18 high definition 720p camera feeds. This allows race officials to instantly see detailed information to make rapid decisions about on-track aspects of the race. Telestream's Pipeline HD video capture system simultaneously acquires multiple camera feeds in high-quality Apple ProRes 720p as well as other HD and SD formats. Video feeds are delivered to shared storage where they are available for immediate playback, editing during capture, or transcoding to other file formats. Telestream's Replay multichannel video player provides instant, synchronous multichannel playback of multiple HD camera feeds for simultaneous review and analysis of incidents from different camera angles. The player also allows officials to easily locate any camera and scrub forward or backward through any portion of the event video.(Telestream)(12-13-2011)

  • Top 10 diecast of 2011: Jeff Gordon's #24 AARP/Drive to End Hunger Chevy and Kevin Harvick's #29 Budweiser Chevy were the best-selling 1:24 scale die-cast cars of 2011, according to a top 10 list released by Lionel NASCAR Collectables. However in a surprise showing, Daytona 500 winner Trevor Bayne clinched the third sport as his #21 Motorcraft Daytona 500 Win Ford made the cut. While Gordon's AARP Chevy was the best-selling die-cast car, Dale Earnhardt Jr. tops the list as the driver garnering the most die-cast sales in 2011. Earnhardt cars claimed spots four, seven and nine. Another Earnhardt also made the list of heavy hitters. Dale Earnhardt's #96 Cardinal Tractor Ford was introduced in July as the first release in the company's NASCAR Classics line - a series of historical die-cast which have never before been made. The result? Collectors loved the #96 car so much; it shot to the sixth spot on the list of 2011 best-sellers. The Top 10 Die-Cast Cars of 2011 are listed below.
    1. Jeff Gordon #24 AARP/Drive to End Hunger Chevy
    2. Kevin Harvick #29 Budweiser Chevy
    3. Trevor Bayne #21 Motorcraft Daytona Win Ford
    4. Dale Earnhardt Jr. #88 Amp Energy Chevy
    5. Tony Stewart #14 Mobil 1 Chevy
    6. Dale Earnhardt #96 Cardinal Tractor Ford
    7. Dale Earnhardt Jr. #88 National Guard Heritage Chevy
    8. Tony Stewart #14 Office Depot Chevy
    9. Dale Earnhardt Jr. #88 Dale Jr. Foundation/Vh1 Save the Music Chevy
    10. Kevin Harvick #29 Budweiser Military Tribute Chevy
    See images of many of the cars on the 2011 Sprint Cup paint scheme pages.(Lionel Collectibles)(12-13-2011)

  • France named one of most influential people in sports business: Sports Business Journal has named its annual list of 50 most influential persons in sports business and the only representative from motorsports is NASCAR CEO Brian France. He is 17th on the list, moving up from 18th last year. According to Sports Business Journal, "No sport was punished more by the recent recession than NASCAR. Attendance, TV numbers and sponsorship declined. But France is charting the way forward with a five-year plan designed to build the sport's young and multicultural fan base, improve its digital and social media offerings, raise its driver profiles and enhance the race-day experience."
    #1 is Steve Burke, President & CEO of NBCUniversal Holdings followed by MLB Commissioner Bud Selig then ESPN's George Bodenheimer and John Skipper.(Sports Business Daily)(12-13-2011)

  • President of SPEED resigns from network: Hunter Nickell, President of SPEED, is leaving the network at years end. During Nickell's tenure, SPEED reached several significant milestones, adding nearly 16 million homes to its current Nielsen Household reach of 84 million homes in North America. Nickell will finish several projects with SPEED over the next few months and continue to explore opportunities within the FOX Sports Media Group. An interim replacement will be named shortly. Increasing its relationship with NASCAR under Nickell's leadership, SPEED added several high-profile events to its programming lineup, including the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race, the NASCAR Hall of Fame Induction ceremonies and all three of the NASCAR post-season awards banquets. Nickell also generated increased SPEED programming and marketing presence at every NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race on the circuit, giving SPEED unmistakable leadership in on-site network visibility. Nickell came to SPEED in 2005 after 12 years as general manager of FSN South, where he oversaw the nation's largest regional sports television network.(SPEED)(12-13-2011)

  • Bowyer will test at Walt Disney World Speedway: Michael Waltrip Racing's new #15 5-hour ENERGY team is ready to hit the track this week in preparation for the NASCAR Sprint Cup season. New driver Clint Bowyer and crew chief Brian Pattie will visit Walt Disney World Speedway in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. to test the #15 5-hour ENERGY Toyota Camry on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. It marks the first test for the new driver-crew chief combination. The test also begins a busy off season for the team that will test at New Smyrna Speedway and Daytona International Speedway in January.(MWR)(12-13-2011)

  • Sad News - Joy Fair: Joy Fair, a Michigan native and legendary stock car driver who won numerous championships at Midwest tracks, has died, Dave DeHem, president of the Michigan Auto Racing Fan Club, said Saturday. Fair was 81. Fair, who began his racing career in 1949, competed at many tracks, including Mount Clemens and Flat Rock. He drove in several different series, including ones sanctioned by NASCAR, USAC, ASA and ARCA. "Joy was a legend not only in Michigan but also in the entire Midwest as the driver of the school bus-yellow #1 car," DeHem said. Arrangements were unknown early Saturday afternoon (). Fair ran two races in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, both in 1956 at Daytona Beach and Chicago [at Soldier Field] where he had his best finish of 9th.(12-10-2011)
    SERVICES info on my 2011 Sad News page.(12-13-2011)

  • Jeff Byrd named to Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame: Former Bristol Motor Speedway president and general manager Jeff Byrd will be inducted posthumously into the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame in 2012. Byrd, who passed away in October of 2010, is among 10 inductees who will be enshrined at the annual Hall of Fame banquet in Nashville May 19. A native of North Carolina, Byrd moved to Bristol in 1996 to take the helm at BMS after a lengthy and extremely successful career at R.J. Reynolds. The gregarious Byrd was part of a core group of bright, young people who worked at R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. from the 1970s to the 1990s, helping to transform NASCAR into one of the premier spectator sports in the world. Under Byrd's leadership and guidance, Bristol Motor Speedway grew from a 70,000-seat facility to one of the five largest stadiums in the country in terms of permanent seating with approximately 160,000 seats. Byrd's attention to guests - and his mantra of Exceed Expectations - made the race track a fan-favorite and one of NASCAR's most popular venues. During his tenure, Byrd also oversaw the transformation of Bristol Dragway into one of the country's premier NHRA facilities.(BMS)(12-13-2011)


    News from December 12, 2011

  • Driver appearances set for NASCAR Preview 2012 Presented by Sprint: Driver appearance times for many of the most popular NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers have been confirmed for the inaugural NASCAR Preview 2012 Presented by Sprint preseason fan event scheduled for Jan. 21 in Charlotte, N.C. #48-Jimmie Johnson, #24-Jeff Gordon, #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr. and 11 other top drivers of the sport join previously announced 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion #14-Tony Stewart in a star-studded lineup of NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers scheduled for two-hour appearances at the fan-centric, all-day event located inside the Charlotte Convention Center. The driver appearances will include driver autograph and on-stage question-and-answer sessions.NASCAR Preview 2012 Presented by Sprint is a new addition to the annual calendar. Reminiscent of popular season-preview events of the past, the festival-like event will feature driver and show car appearances, simulators, games, prizes and a host of other fan-friendly and interactive activities. The event is part of the three-day NASCAR Acceleration Weekend from Jan. 20-22 in Charlotte, N.C. that gives race fans an unprecedented experience through a combination of events and activities featuring the legends of the sport and stars of today. Additional driver appearances from the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, NASCAR Nationwide Series and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, plus all four living NASCAR Hall of Fame members inducted the previous night, will be announced at a later date. For additional information, visit www.NASCARAcceleration2012.com.(NASCAR)(12-12-2011)

  • Tony Stewart wins Indy Karting Classic: Before Sunday's Indy Karting Classic, Tony Stewart declared that he wouldn't have an advantage because he'd be the heaviest driver in the field. He didn't need any advantage. Smoke won the Indy Karting Classic at Conseco Fieldhouse, beating fellow IndyCar and NASCAR drivers to the checkered flag. IndyCar driver Alex Tagliani was second and John Andretti was third. Stewart made his eventual race-winning pass on Camping World Truck Series champion Austin Dillon.(Yahoo Sports)(12-12-2011)

  • Hunt Brothers associate sponsor of Harvick: Hunt Brothers Pizza will sponsor two of Richard Childress Racing's NASCAR Nationwide Series teams as well as the #29 Sprint Cup Series team with Kevin Harvick through a multi-year partnership agreement that begins in 2012. Hunt Brothers Pizza will be the primary sponsor for three NASCAR Nationwide Series races on the #33 Chevy when Harvick is the driver. The #2 Chevy, with driver Elliott Sadler, will carry the Hunt Brothers Pizza primary sponsor paint scheme for the NNS event at Chicagoland. In addition, the Nashville, Tenn.-based company will be an associate sponsor throughout the NNS season for the #2 and the #33 Chevy teams. Hunt Brothers Pizza will also continue its season-long associate sponsorship of Harvick and RCR's #29 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series team, beginning with the Daytona 500 in February.(Richard Childress Racing)(12-12-2011)


    News from December 11, 2011

  • SAFER barrier tethers need inspecting: The Steel and Foam Energy Reduction barrier system currently in place at all NASCAR facilities has significantly reduced driver injuries, but the aging nylon tethers may need to be replaced soon, according to the man who developed it. Dr. Dean Sicking, director of the Midwest Roadside Safety Facility at the University of Nebraska, said the SAFER barriers have three major components: structural steel tubing, closed-cell polystyrene foam blocks and nylon retention tethers. The foam blocks begin to lose their effectiveness for dissipating energy after about five years, Sicking said. But the nylon tethers are also affected by the elements, particularly sunlight. And since most of the tracks installed their SAFER systems between 2003 and '04, the tethers are now in need of inspection. "Almost all of the tracks have replaced the foam once," Sicking said. "I've informally inspected the tethers during my walks around the tracks. And the tethers are now reaching a point where they need to be looked at." Sicking said tracks shouldn't be overly concerned about tether replacement, but they should be aware that it could become an issue in the future. Because the tethers help hold the SAFER barrier in place, Sicking said the failure of multiple tethers could result in a disastrous situation, particularly if it happened during a race weekend. For example, a track the size of Daytona may have several thousand tethers in place -- and if they failed, it could create chaos. The good thing? Tethers are relatively inexpensive, Sicking said. And it's something each track can budget for in advance.(NASCAR.com)(12-11-2011)

  • Media votes top 10 moments of 2011: Members of NASCARMedia.com voted in a week-long poll, casting ballots for the top-10 moments from the just-completed NASCAR season. Tony Stewart's walk-off win in the season finale, however, didn't exactly prevail in a landslide among voting by members of the news media. Trevor Bayne's historic Daytona 500 victory - which opened the year on a spectacular note at Daytona International Speedway - barely missed out on the #1 spot.
    #1 - Tony Stewart's Homestead-Miami win to clinch the Championship
    #2 - Trevor Bayne's Daytona 500 Win
    #3 - Brad Keselowski's win at Pocono after breaking his left ankle in a testing accident
    #4 - Jeff Gordon's 85th NASCAR Sprint Cup Win
    #5 - Regan Smith's Darlington Southern 500 Win
    #6 - Jimmie Johnson's .0002 second margin of victory in the Aaron's 499 at Talladega
    #7 - Paul Menard Holds Off Jeff Gordon to Win Brickyard 400
    #8 - Austin Dillon Becomes Youngest NASCAR Camping World Truck Champion
    #9 - Danica Patrick Posts Best Finish in NASCAR by a Female Driver with 4th place at Las Vegas
    #10 - 2010 Sunoco Rookies Stenhouse and Dillon win 2011 Nationwide and Craftsman Truck Series Championships(NASCAR)(12-11-2011)


    News from December 10, 2011

  • Keselowski, Logano Visit Guantanamo Bay On NASCAR/USO Tour: #2-Brad Keselowski and #20-Joey Logano, brought holiday cheer, smiles and good times to troops and their families on the NASCAR-USO/Armed Forces Entertainment tour at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba during their NASCAR-USO visit Dec. 12-14. The tour of Guantanamo Bay was part of an ongoing partnership between NASCAR and the USO to strengthen a connection between the military and motorsports in an effort to help boost the morale of U.S. troops and their families stationed around the world. The partnership also included NASCAR and the USO hosting a group of wounded warriors at the 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Awards Ceremony in Las Vegas. During the visit, Keselowski and Logano visited hundreds of sailors and coast guardsmen and their families. The pair also dined with troops, visited the U.S. Navy Hospital, signed autographs and patrolled the waters with service members. This was the first USO tour for Keselowski and Logano, who are avid supporters of the military community. Both have visited Walter Reed Army Medical Center, now known as Walter Reed National Medical Center, and spent quality time with wounded warriors.
    “This was a once in a lifetime experience and I am so glad to be a part of it,” said Keselowski. “I hope to go back on another USO Tour. After meeting the men and women in Guantanamo Bay, I cannot imagine the sacrifices and experiences they have to go through during their time there. It was an amazing experience and I am so grateful that I was invited to go.”
    “It was awesome to learn more about Guantanamo Bay and what the mission is down there and how it works,” said Logano. “It was great to meet and talk to the troops, and it was one heck of an experience. We get to see a lot of troops at the race track, but to see them in action and doing their jobs…I am so impressed and have such a high amount of respect for each and every one of them and what they do.”
    “NASCAR is honored to work with the USO and be a part of bringing this tour to our men and women in Guantanamo Bay,” said NASCAR President Mike Helton. “We hope this tour has lifted the spirits of troops and their families; we are honored to have the opportunity to show our support and show how much our troops mean to NASCAR and its millions of fans around the world.”
    "NASCAR and its drivers bring excitement to the track week after week and we are honored to have two of NASCAR's biggest names join us on a USO tour,” said USO President Sloan Gibson. “I can't think of a better, more suitable place for this tour to bring a touch of home than to NASCAR fans stationed in Guantanamo Bay.”(NASCAR), see quotes on the #2 Team News page.(12-15-2011)

  • TAG Heuer Eyewear sticks with Kurt Busch:
    TAG Heuer Eyewear announced Thursday that it has re-signed 2004 NASCAR Sprint Cup champion Kurt Busch to a multi-year contract extension in his role as an ambassador for the company and its eyewear products. Busch, who joined the TAG Heuer family at the beginning of 2010, works effectively to bring exposure to the brand and its products as well as aid in retailer development. Busch exclusively wears TAG Heuer sunglasses and is featured in Eyewear print, billboard, in-store and Internet advertisements. He will continue to display the TAG Heuer Eyewear logo on the racing helmet that he wears in NASCAR competition (as well as in other forms of motorsports). In 2011, TAG Heuer created a Kurt Busch collector edition sunglass that was made available at U.S. retailers. “Kurt has truly been an excellent ambassador for the TAG Heuer Eyewear brand,” said Guillaume Pottecher, president of Premiere Vision, the U.S. distributor for TAG Heuer Eyewear. “TAG Heuer is affiliated with leading personalities and properties around the sports and entertainment world and Kurt fits that role perfectly. He is unquestionably one of the premier talents in NASCAR and in his work for us on every occasion he has gone above and beyond what we could expect of him. We very much look forward to the future together with Kurt.”(SPEED)(12-15-2011)

  • Logano & Brad Keselowski to Visit Troops & Families at Guantanamo Bay: #20-Joey Logano and #2-Brad Keselowski, are scheduled to be part of a NASCAR-USO/Armed Forces Entertainment tour to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, Dec. 12-14. As part of the NASCAR-USO trip, Logano and Keselowski will share stories of life on the track, sign autographs, pose for photos and spread holiday cheer to hundreds of troops and military families. Logano and Keselowski have participated in charitable races benefiting America’s Armed Forces and are avid supporters of the military community. Both drivers have also visited Walter Reed Army Medical Center, now known as Walter Reed National Medical Center, and spent quality time with wounded warriors. This tour of Guantanamo Bay is part of an ongoing partnership between NASCAR and the USO to strengthen a connection to the military and help boost the morale of U.S. troops and their families stationed around the world.
    Joey Logano: “I jump at every chance I get to show my appreciation to our nation’s Armed Forces and I look forward to my upcoming USO trip to Guantanamo Bay. Our service men and women and their families are doing an amazing job.”
    Brad Keselowski: “Traveling with the USO and getting the chance to spend time with our troops is something I wish everyone could do. To see what they do day-in and day-out and hear their stories is an opportunity of a lifetime and something I will never forget.”(NASCAR)(12-10-2011)

  • #78 Car to be featured at Bronocos game: Though it's the offseason for NASCAR, the Denver [Co.]-based Furniture Row Racing is looking for some of the recent magic by the Denver Broncos and Tim Tebow to rub off on the Sprint Cup team as it prepares for February's season-opening Daytona 500. Prior to Sunday's Broncos-Chicago Bears NFL game at Sports Authority Field at Mile High, Regan Smith's #78 Furniture Row Chevy will be parked on the southwest corner near Gate 10. Fans can stop by to see the race car and receive a Furniture Row Racing hero card from 8 am to 2 pm. The Broncos (7-5) are tied for first place with the Oakland Raiders in the American Football Conference West Division with four regular season games remaining. "It's been so exciting to follow the Broncos and watch in amazement the winning leadership of Tim Tebow," said Smith, a Denver-area resident. "This is a great opportunity to have our Furniture Row race car on display for Colorado sports fans. The way the Broncos are playing as of late it's like taking the lead during the closing laps of a Sprint Cup race and holding off the competition to the checkered flag. It's been an exciting but nerve-racking season for all Broncos fans." Furniture Row Companies and its specialized bedding retailer Denver Mattress recently announced a fund-raising affiliation with The Tim Tebow Foundation, which devotes a significant effort to serving orphanages around the world.(FRR)(12-10-2011)

  • Lorenzen honored by Illinois General Assembly at Chicagoland Speedway: Elmhurst, Ill. native and 1965 Daytona 500 winner, Fred Lorenzen was honored by the Illinois General Assembly Wednesday at Chicagoland Speedway for his accomplishments as a NASCAR driver between 1958-1972. "Fred Lorenzen was an icon of NASCAR and the racing world," Illinois State Representative, Dennis Reboletti said. "He is an Illinois sports legend and we recognize him for his lifetime of accomplishments."
    "Fred Lorenzen is a true NASCAR and Illinois sports legend, and we're thrilled to be a part of today's presentation honoring his accomplishments," said Scott Paddock, Chicagoland Speedway president. "Fred was one of the first pioneers of NASCAR and his contributions have helped to make it the great sport that is today."
    Also in attendance at today's press conference, were two of Lorenzen's old friends from his days at Holman-Moody Racing - Charlie 'Slick' Owens and Waddell Wilson. Owens had this to say about Lorenzen's impact in the world of racing and NASCAR, "Freddie knew every piece of the race car. He worked on it, cleaned it and he never bragged about anything. He just went out and did what he had to do, and that was race." Wilson added, "Freddie taught me great ethics about racing. He was one of the highlights of my life. I look back at all the great things we've done, and even before I worked for him, I idolized him. He was my hero; he still is."
    Earning the nicknames "Fearless Freddie" and "Golden Boy," Lorenzen recorded 26 wins in his NASCAR career and is still the only NASCAR driver to win 20 races in their first 100 starts. He also became the first driver to earn more than $100,000 in winnings in a single season, claiming $113,570 driving for the legendary Holman-Moody team in 1963. Lorenzen is a member of more than one motorsports hall of fame including the National Motorsports Press Association's Hall of Fame, the International Motorsports Hall of Fame and the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America. Lorenzen has been nominated for the NASCAR Hall of Fame twice previously, but as the spring of 2012 approaches, Lorenzen fans want to not only see him nominated but inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame with the class of 2013.(Chicagoland Speedway)(12-10-2011)

  • Sad News - Joy Fair: Joy Fair, a Michigan native and legendary stock car driver who won numerous championships at Midwest tracks, has died, Dave DeHem, president of the Michigan Auto Racing Fan Club, said Saturday. Fair was 81. Fair, who began his racing career in 1949, competed at many tracks, including Mount Clemens and Flat Rock. He drove in several different series, including ones sanctioned by NASCAR, USAC, ASA and ARCA. "Joy was a legend not only in Michigan but also in the entire Midwest as the driver of the school bus-yellow #1 car," DeHem said. Arrangements were unknown early Saturday afternoon (). Fair ran two races in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, both in 1956 at Daytona Beach and Chicago [at Soldier Field] where he had his best finish of 9th.(12-10-2011)

  • Dennis Worden named Dir. Of Public Relations at Darlington: Darlington Raceway President Chris Browning announced the hiring of Dennis Worden as the track's Director of Public Relations. Worden begins his position immediately and will be responsible for coordinating all media relations efforts for NASCAR's original superspeedway. Worden spent the last 6 ½ years as the manager of public relations for Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, Mich. He coordinated the media relations efforts for MIS, as well as maintaining the track's website and its video and photography needs, among other duties. Overall, he brings nearly 12 years of media relations experience to Darlington Raceway with past stops at Hillsdale College (Mich.), Wayne State University in Detroit, Mich. and the University of Texas in Austin. In addition to the hiring of Worden, Browning has also announced the promotion of Sarah Hill as the track's new Consumer Marketing Coordinator. Hill will serve in the track's public relations department overseeing all social media initiatives and coordinating marketing and e-mail campaigns, among other duties.(Darlington Raceway)(12-10-2011)


    News from December 9, 2011

  • Ford out as Hamlin's crew chief: UPDATE 3 - Grubb in: Mike Ford was let go Tuesday as crew chief for #11-Denny Hamlin after a disappointing season in which the duo failed to contend for the championship. "I'm kind of relieved," Ford told The Associated Press. "It had been dragging on for so long, I'm actually relieved there's finally a resolution." Joe Gibbs Racing team owner Joe Gibbs met with championship-winning crew chief Darian Grubb [formerly of #14-Tony Stewart] last week in Las Vegas, the day after the season-ending awards ceremony. Grubb has also toured the JGR facility. Ford said JGR officials made no mention of Grubb in telling Ford he was out late Tuesday.(Associated Press), no word on Mike Ford's plans.(12-6-2011)
    UPDATE: Joe Gibbs Racing announces that Mike Ford has been released from his duties as crew chief for its #11 Sprint Cup Series team. "Everyone at Joe Gibbs Racing appreciates what Mike has done for our organization over the past six seasons as crew chief with our #11 team," said Joe Gibbs, owner of Joe Gibbs Racing. "We've decided it was best to make a change with the team now to allow Mike the opportunity to pursue other opportunities." There will be no immediate announcement regarding a replacement crew chief for the #11 team.(Joe Gibbs Racing)(12-6-2011)
    UPDATE 2: Darian Grubb says he's close to announcing his plans for 2012. The 2011 Sprint Cup championship crew chief attended Tuesday night's Stocks-for-Tots fundraising event at the NASCAR Technical Institute and said he hopes to reveal his plans by the end of the week. "I'm hoping to get it all ironed out by the end of the week because we have to get things rolling for 2012, and get things going no matter where I go." With today's announcement of the departure of Mike Ford as crew chief for the No. 11 FedEx Toyota and driver Denny Hamlin, the open slot at Joe Gibbs Racing is one possibility for Grubb. "It's all still rumors at this point," Grubb said. "I've talked to a lot of people and I have narrowed down my list a little bit and I still haven't made any decisions myself. Hopefully, by the end of the week we'll have some decisions made and get some announcements out there."(Motor Racing Network)(12-7-2011)
    UPDATE 3: Joe Gibbs Racing announced that Darian Grubb has been named crew chief for its #11 FedEx Toyota NASCAR Sprint Cup Series team. "Darian is a great addition to our organization and person to lead our #11 FedEx team," said Joe Gibbs, owner of Joe Gibbs Racing. "Obviously he has proven the ability to guide a team to a championship and we are excited to have him working with Denny (Hamlin) toward achieving that goal here at Joe Gibbs Racing." Grubb is coming off an impressive championship run with driver Tony Stewart at Stewart-Haas Racing which included winning five of the 10 Chase races en route to capturing the 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series title. He spent the past three seasons as crew chief for Stewart on the No. 14 car after the driver left JGR to start his own race operation. Prior to joining Stewart-Haas Racing, Grubb spent six years with Hendrick Motorsports; rising through the organization's engineering ranks and gaining invaluable crew chief experience. "I'm thrilled to join Joe Gibbs Racing," said Grubb. "The chance to work with Denny is something I'm excited about. When you sit down with Joe and J.D. Gibbs you can't help but be excited about this opportunity and the team aspects of JGR. There is no question about the level of support you get here and I'm looking forward to working with everyone across the entire organization."(Joe Gibbs Racing)(12-9-2011)

  • David Ragan named guest of honor for ARCA Awards Banquet: David Ragan will be the Guest of Honor at Saturday's ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards Championship Awards Banquet at the Northern Kentucky Convention Center in Covington, Ky. Ragan made 31 ARCA starts between 2003 and 2008, and won at Lanier National Speedway in Georgia on May 28, 2005. He made his Sprint Cup debut for Roush Fenway Racing in 2006, began racing full-time for the team in 2007, and won at historic Daytona International Speedway for the team this July. Series champion Ty Dillon, Rookie of the Year Chris Buescher, other drivers from the top 20, and the top 10 car owners will be honored Saturday in a program that also features special award winners. In an interesting connection, Ragan is a mentor to and has spotted for Buescher in ARCA competition. Ragan drove for Roulo Brothers Racing while in ARCA, preceding Buescher's tenure with the team.(ARCA)(12-9-2011)

  • Yates / ECR engines honored: MAHLE Clevite Inc. recently announced the 2011 MAHLE Engine Builders of the Year for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, Nationwide Series and Camping World Truck Series. The Engine Builder of the Year award is presented to the top engine builder in each of the NASCAR series who has accumulated the most MAHLE Clevite points based on qualifying, laps led and finishing position.
    Doug Yates of Roush Yates Engines was awarded the 2011 MAHLE Engine Builder of the Year title for both the Sprint Cup Series and the Nationwide Series. The award for the Sprint Cup Series was based on the outstanding performance of the #99 Aflac Ford Fusion, driven by Carl Edwards who completed the 2011 season without a single DNF and won three poles. The award for the Nationwide Series stemmed from his work on the #60 Ford Fusion, also driven by Carl Edwards. "It is a great honor to receive the MAHLE Clevite Engine Builder of the Year award, and to receive recognition for our work in both the Sprint Cup Series and Nationwide Series makes me especially proud of what we've accomplished this year," said Yates. "Many thanks to MAHLE Clevite for consistently providing unprecedented technical support and quality products that continue to out-perform year-in and year-out."
    Earnhardt Childress Racing Engines (ECR) was awarded the MAHLE Clevite Engine Builder of the Year for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series based on the performance of the #2 Bad Boy Buggies Chevy driven by Clint Bowyer. Kevin Harvick, driver of the #29 Budeweiser Chevy accepted the award on behalf of Earnhardt Childress Racing.(MAHLE Clevite)(12-9-2011)

  • APEX is a unique, exciting race camping option at MIS for 2012: Camping has always been an important part of the Michigan International Speedway experience, so racetrack officials have unveiled plans for a truly unique campground that will open in 2012. APEX is a deluxe trackside campground of 20 spaces, giving camping guests the best, most exciting view of the racetrack – all from the apex of Turn 3. Each trackside campsite is 20- x 55-feet wide and has water and electric hookups, a picnic table and grill. The sites overlook Turn 3, so guests will be able to feel the surge of 43 NASCAR stock cars at speeds of close to 200 mph. A concierge service for guests of the campground will be offered – an exclusive opportunity for fans who stay there to be pampered and catered to by a professional butler. A concierge will assist guests with anything they need to enjoy a race weekend in the Michigan. Need a tee time before the race? Need a ride to the garage? Where’s the best place to dine? Need ice? Just ask the concierge for advice, guidance and assistance for most of your MIS camping and weekend needs.
    Admission to APEX is $1,600 per site, plus $250 per person for the weekend, up to 10 people per site. Each guest will receive a scanner rental and weekend pit access. Two people per site will also receive NASCAR garage passes for the weekend. Guests interested in camping in APEX should call MIS ticket agent Ian Kirkpatrick at 517-592-1285 for details. Because of the limited number of sites, spaces will be sold on a first-come, first-served basis to renewal guests and then to deposit guests. All RVs in APEX must be self-contained. APEX will open on Thursday of race week, and remain open until the Monday after the race. Renewals for 2012 are under way. Guests have until Nov. 18 to ensure they get their seats, the best pricing for next season and be automatically entered for a trip to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Awards Ceremony in Las Vegas on Dec. 2.(MIS)(12-9-2011)


    News from December 8, 2011

  • New look for #24 DuPont scheme: DuPont released some inages of the new look for Jeff Gordon in the #24 DuPont Chevy for 2012, with a 20 Year Logo commemorating DuPont, Jeff Gordon and Hendrick Motorsports partnership. The #24 Drive to End Hunger Chevy is a little different looking in 2012 also. See images of the schemes on the #24 Team Schemes page.(12-8-2011)

  • New look for the Aaron's car: The #55, which has run the #00 for many years with Michael Waltrip Racing, will have a different look in 2012. In the 25 races the Mark Martin is scheduled to driver the car will be blue sides and white roof/hood and in the 5-7 races that Michael Waltrip is scheduled to run the car it will have a blue rood/hood and white sides. No word if the scheme changes when the other driver(s) run the car in the remaining races that Martin or Waltrip do not run. See images of the schemes on the #55 Team Schemes page.(12-8-2011)

  • SPEED to air biography series on 2012 Hall Of Fame Inductees: A biography series of all five 2012 NASCAR Hall of Fame inductees will air on SPEED beginning this Friday, Dec. 9 with back-to-back shows featuring Cale Yarborough at 8 p.m. ET and Dale Inman at 9 p.m. ET. The remaining biographies, also produced by NASCAR Media Group, will air on SPEED throughout December and January 2012: Richie Evans on Friday, Dec. 16 at 8 p.m. ET; Darrell Waltrip on Friday, Jan. 6 at 8 p.m. ET and Glen Wood on Friday, Jan. 13 at 8 p.m. ET. Each year five NASCAR legends are inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame, beginning with the inaugural class of 2010. These five outstanding individuals make up the third class and will be officially enshrined at the third annual NASCAR Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony on Friday evening, Jan. 20 in the Charlotte Convention Center's Crown Ballroom at the NASCAR Hall of Fame.(NASCAR)(12-8-2011)

  • Red Bull Racing closes Thursday: Red Bull Racing's five-year run as a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series team will come to an end [Thursday], when the last of approximately 150 employees will be laid off and the competition shop shut down, presumably for good. After 284 Sprint Cup starts, over 106,000 competitive laps and two victories, the team informed its remaining employees this week that Thursday will be the final day of operation. A memo was distributed by the team's Human Resources Manager outlining severance procedures and establishing a schedule for exit interviews. After a brief team meeting …. the team will raffle off sheet metal, mementos and photos that have hung at the Red Bull shop and distribute cases of Red Bull to departing employees. "We know it will be a difficult day for everyone," said the memo, "as a large number of employees will be exiting the facility."(Sirius Speedway)(12-8-2011)

  • Leavine Family Racing expands 2012 schedule; Starr won't return: Leavine Family Racing will start its season at Bristol Motor Speedway in March, and then embark on an ambitious schedule of at least 15 selected Sprint Cup Series races during the 2012 season. The Leavine Family Racing schedule includes races at Bristol, Texas, Richmond, Darlington, Charlotte, Pocono, Kentucky, Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Michigan, Atlanta, Chicago, Dover and Homestead-Miami. The team is continuing to evaluate its options for the driver of its #95 Ford in the Sprint Cup Series, while David Starr seeks new opportunities. In 2011, Leavine Family Racing competed in four NASCAR Sprint Cup Series events with Starr. He posted the team's season-best finish of 27th at Bristol Motor Speedway in August. Veteran Wally Rogers returns to crew chief the #95 machine in 2012. In addition to Rogers, the entire shop returns as well along with the same management and administrative staff.(Leavine Family Racing)(12-8-2011)

  • TRG Motorsports would be intersted in Busch: #51-Phoenix Racing, which finished 30th in the owner points this season with Landon Cassill as its primary driver, and #71-TRG Motorsports, which finished 36th in owner points, don't have a driver signed for 2012. Owned by James Finch, Phoenix has one Cup victory with Brad Keselowski at Talladega in 2009. A spokesman for Phoenix said the team was keeping its options open. TRG is interested in Busch, and a spokesman said owner Kevin Buckler hopes to meet with Busch.(Sports Illustrated)(12-8-2011)

  • Red, White, and Blue Grandstands at Watkins Glen come down: The combination of wind, rain, snow and fog could not prevent the capital improvement project at Watkins Glen International from marching forward on Wednesday. Silverline Construction, based in Burdett, NY, demolished the final portion of the Red, White and Blue Grandstands as the next step in the $1.5 million project that will result in three new grandstands at The Glen in 2012. Removal of the plank bench seats in the Red, White and Blue Grandstands began on the first of December and the Red and White sections were brought down over the past few days. Demolition of the Blue section began at 10 a.m. and was wrapped up before 5 p.m. Located at the base of the famed Esses, the Red, White and Blue Grandstands were completed in 1969 and were placed at the original site of the start-finish line. Once the area outside Turn 2 is cleared, E&D Specialty Stands, Inc. will excavate and install the foundations as well as build the new grandstand. The North Collins, NY based company has already completed approximately 80-percent of the new McDonald's Family Grandstand and almost 50-percent of the Ninety Grandstand. E&D is the same company that installed the new Turn 10, Turn 11, Green and Silver Grandstands before this past season.(WGI)(12-8-2011)


    News from December 7, 2011

  • Ford out as Hamlin's crew chief; Grubb in?: UPDATE 2: Mike Ford was let go Tuesday as crew chief for #11-Denny Hamlin after a disappointing season in which the duo failed to contend for the championship. "I'm kind of relieved," Ford told The Associated Press. "It had been dragging on for so long, I'm actually relieved there's finally a resolution." Joe Gibbs Racing team owner Joe Gibbs met with championship-winning crew chief Darian Grubb [formerly of #14-Tony Stewart] last week in Las Vegas, the day after the season-ending awards ceremony. Grubb has also toured the JGR facility. Ford said JGR officials made no mention of Grubb in telling Ford he was out late Tuesday.(Associated Press), no word on Mike Ford's plans.(12-6-2011)
    UPDATE: Joe Gibbs Racing announces that Mike Ford has been released from his duties as crew chief for its #11 Sprint Cup Series team. "Everyone at Joe Gibbs Racing appreciates what Mike has done for our organization over the past six seasons as crew chief with our #11 team," said Joe Gibbs, owner of Joe Gibbs Racing. "We've decided it was best to make a change with the team now to allow Mike the opportunity to pursue other opportunities." There will be no immediate announcement regarding a replacement crew chief for the #11 team.(Joe Gibbs Racing)(12-6-2011)
    UPDATE 2: Darian Grubb says he's close to announcing his plans for 2012. The 2011 Sprint Cup championship crew chief attended Tuesday night's Stocks-for-Tots fundraising event at the NASCAR Technical Institute and said he hopes to reveal his plans by the end of the week. "I'm hoping to get it all ironed out by the end of the week because we have to get things rolling for 2012, and get things going no matter where I go." With today's announcement of the departure of Mike Ford as crew chief for the No. 11 FedEx Toyota and driver Denny Hamlin, the open slot at Joe Gibbs Racing is one possibility for Grubb. "It's all still rumors at this point," Grubb said. "I've talked to a lot of people and I have narrowed down my list a little bit and I still haven't made any decisions myself. Hopefully, by the end of the week we'll have some decisions made and get some announcements out there."(Motor Racing Network)(12-7-2011)

  • Kenseth expects team to find sponsorship: Even in a tough economy, the fact that Matt Kenseth is riding into the off-season with a blank quarter-panel is a mystery. With Crown Royal's last sponsorship dollars having been poured from the glass, Kenseth's #17 Roush Fenway Racing team is looking toward 2012 from a rather lonely position. The team does not have a major sponsor for next season, and time is rapidly running out. Kenseth said he remains hopeful that his Fords will carry major sponsorship when the team reports to Daytona International Speedway in February. "I think they'll find something," he said. "I think we have too competitive of a team to be unsponsored. From my standpoint, it's frustrating because I don't know how the whole process works. But, from a driver standpoint, if you perform well and don't act like an idiot too much, things are good.(SPEED)(12-7-2011)

  • Sad News - Walt Green: Mr. Walton Clarence Green passed away Wednesday, November 30, 2011. Mr. Green enjoyed a 35-year career with Eastern Airlines in various cities mainly in the capacity of Manager/Director of Passenger Services. He served his country by participating with the Military Aircraft Command sponsored by Eastern Airlines. Upon retirement with Eastern Airlines, he was a consultant with various airlines for a 10-year time span as well as a successful 2nd career with NASCAR. A memorial service will be conducted Saturday, December 10, 2011 at 2:00 p.m. at Sparta United Methodist Church with Rev. Bob Miller of Sparta United Methodist Church and Rev. Richard L. Walton of Christ Episcopal Church of Sparta officiating. Burial will follow at Christ Epsicopal Church. The family will receive friends immediately following the memorial service at Sparta United Methodist Church. The family requests that memorials be made to High Country Hospice of Alleghany County, PO Box 1287, Sparta, NC 28675 or Sparta United Methodist Church, PO Box 697, Sparta NC 28675. More information available at Elkin Funeral Service.(12-7-2011)


    News from December 6, 2011

  • Ford out as Hamlin's crew chief; Grubb in?: UPDATE: Mike Ford was let go Tuesday as crew chief for #11-Denny Hamlin after a disappointing season in which the duo failed to contend for the championship. "I'm kind of relieved," Ford told The Associated Press. "It had been dragging on for so long, I'm actually relieved there's finally a resolution." Joe Gibbs Racing team owner Joe Gibbs met with championship-winning crew chief Darian Grubb [formerly of #14-Tony Stewart] last week in Las Vegas, the day after the season-ending awards ceremony. Grubb has also toured the JGR facility. Ford said JGR officials made no mention of Grubb in telling Ford he was out late Tuesday.(Associated Press), no word on Mike Ford's plans.(12-6-2011)
    UPDATE: Joe Gibbs Racing announces that Mike Ford has been released from his duties as crew chief for its #11 Sprint Cup Series team. "Everyone at Joe Gibbs Racing appreciates what Mike has done for our organization over the past six seasons as crew chief with our #11 team,” said Joe Gibbs, owner of Joe Gibbs Racing. “We’ve decided it was best to make a change with the team now to allow Mike the opportunity to pursue other opportunities.” There will be no immediate announcement regarding a replacement crew chief for the #11 team.(Joe Gibbs Racing)(12-6-2011)

  • Kurt Busch Statement: Kurt Busch issued the following statement Monday regarding the news that the 24-time NASCAR Sprint Cup winner and 2004 Cup champion had reached a mutual agreement with Penske Racing to leave the team: "I am grateful to Penske Racing for six very productive years. Together we won a lot of races — 16 in all. I'm proud that we won on a variety of tracks and this past season reached Victory Lane four times. Another highlight was pushing my teammate to a Daytona 500 win. I also appreciate the lasting friendships I've made while working with our great sponsors through the years, including Miller Lite, Shell and Dodge.
    Coming to a mutual agreement to go our separate ways is a positive step for me. Over the Thanksgiving holiday I took time to reflect on what is most important to me and realized I need to find a way to put the fun back into racing. It's time for a fresh start. Leaving a great organization and a lucrative contract is not easy, but it allows me to take a deep breath and work on things that can make me a better driver and a better person.
    I recognize the passion and emotion that have helped me succeed on the track need to be better channeled off the track. The past few months I began working with a sports psychologist to help me better deal with my emotions, especially following moments of frustration during competition. I never want to take for granted that it's a privilege to earn a living as a NASCAR driver. As I begin this new chapter in my career, I'm excited about the future and committed to making the changes necessary for me to enjoy racing again, to compete for championships and to better represent NASCAR, my sponsors, my team and my fans. I want to personally thank Roger Penske for the opportunity he gave me and for his friendship, which will continue long into the future."(KurtBusch.com)
    More quotes by Busch at the Associated Press and SPEED.(12-6-2011)

  • Penske Racing president comments on Kurt Busch parting: Penske Racing had stood by Kurt Busch despite an array of emotional outbursts in recent years. And Busch didn't think Penske was improving its performance as he finished outside the top 10 in points in three of the last four years. And that meant it was time for both sides to move on, Penske Racing President Tim Cindric said. Busch is no longer the driver of Penske's Shell/Pennzoil-sponsored #22 car in a move that Busch and the team said was by mutual consent. "A lot of things that we've gone through weren't new discussions," Cindric said Monday afternoon in a phone interview. "Roger is the last one that wants to admit failure. It's difficult to know that what you set out to do, you didn't do in terms of finishing out Kurt's career in a good way and have something that ends on a good note. Roger is as loyal as they come, in my opinion. He's someone that is certainly there to try and help. It just got to the point where we didn't feel like we were really helping him progress and obviously he didn't feel we were progressing at the right rate. So it was time to move on." Cindric said Shell executives did not force the firing. As far as who will replace Busch, Cindric said the job is open and he wants to hire a new driver as soon as possible. He said there has been no decision on who will drive the car next year. Cindric said he has talked to David Ragan, one of several free agents looking for rides on a list that includes Brian Vickers and David Reutimann. "He is somebody that we would consider," he said. "He certainly is not someone that has the job by any means. But he's one of a handful that's out there that is a quality driver."(much more at SceneDaily)(12-6-2011)

  • ESPN2 to Air NASCAR Sprint Cup, Nationwide Series Season Reviews: With one of the most competitive NASCAR seasons in history now in the record books, ESPN2 will take a look back at the 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series seasons in a pair of programs to air later this week.
    The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season, which ended with Tony Stewart winning his third championship in a hotly-contested battle that went to the final lap of the final race, will be reviewed on Friday, Dec. 9, at 3 pm/et.
    The NASCAR Nationwide Series season, in which Ricky Stenhouse Jr. won his first NASCAR championship, will be reviewed on Thursday, Dec. 8, at 3 pm/et.
    Both 30-minute programs, produced by the NASCAR Media Group, will feature highlights and interviews with drivers and other newsmakers who contributed to the competition in 2011. In 2012, ESPN networks will again televise the final 17 races of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season, including all 10 races in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. In addition, ESPN networks will again be the home of the NASCAR Nationwide Series all season. NASCAR Now, ESPN2's daily NASCAR news and information program, will return in February. All NASCAR programming on ESPN and ESPN2 throughout 2012 will be available on computers, smartphones and tablets through WatchESPN.com and the WatchESPN app.(12-6-2011)

  • Kyle Busch Led NASCAR Drivers in Securing TV Exposure for Sponsors: #18-Kyle Busch's memorable 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series campaign led to $68 million of television exposure for his sponsors, a figure higher than any other driver managed to generate this past season, and nearly $1.7 million more than Series Champion Tony Stewart. According to research conducted by Joyce Julius & Associates, Inc. — which has monitored every NASCAR race telecast over the last 27 seasons — Busch's sponsors as a group appeared for 27 hours, 23 minutes, 10 seconds (27:23:10) during live and replayed telecasts of the season's 36 points races. When also factoring in verbal mentions (292) of Busch's sponsors, the 12th-place driver amassed more than $68.3 million of in-broadcast exposure value for his backing brands.
    Joyce Julius calculates television exposure value by comparing the in-broadcast visual and verbal exposure to the estimated cost of a national commercial during the telecast and applying Joyce Julius Recognition Grading — which takes into account such factors as size and placement of the image on screen, as well as brand clutter and integration of the brand into the activity. While Busch hung on to lead the driver exposure battle wire-to-wire, Stewart's stellar run during this year's Chase may be more impressive, as the newly crowned champion moved up from 9th to 2nd in cumulative sponsor brand exposure, improving from $30 million at the start of the final 10 races to $66.7 million by season's end. Stewart's dominance during the Chase race broadcasts is further evidenced by the attention paid to him by the TV announcers. Stewart began the Chase 6th in individual driver mentions, but ended the season on top, collecting 57% of his driver mentions for the entire season during the final 10 races. Stewart also amassed the most interview time of any driver, appearing on camera for more than one hour, 20 minutes throughout 2011. Series points runner-up Carl Edwards managed to accrue the most mentions for his sponsors (610), while he was also interviewed most frequently (75 times) of any other driver. Not surprisingly, Stewart was the top exposure-gathering Chevrolet driver, collecting $6.3 for the auto brand. Edwards led the Ford drivers, delivering $8.1 million of in-broadcast exposure, while the attention Busch drew during 2011 race broadcasts led to $11.9 million for Toyota.(Joyce Julius & Associates)(12-6-2011)

  • RCR Racing Operation to Conduct Surplus Auction TODAY: Iron Horse Auction Company, Inc. of Rockingham, N.C. will conduct an auction of surplus racing equipment for the Richard Childress Racing Organization on December 6, 2011 at 10:00 am. The auction will include racing cars, racing engines, parts, accessories, equipment and much more. The auction will be held on site at RCR Racing Complex. Iron Horse Auction Company, Inc. and its principals are recognized on an international level for their knowledge and experience in the sale of NASCAR racing equipment. For further information, go to ironhorseauction.com(Iron Horse Auction Company)(11-30/12-6-2011)

  • Sad News - Gordon Cade:Gordon Cade, 75, of Dunnellon, Fla., passed away on Tuesday, December 6th. He was the father of Ricky Cade, a longtime NASCAR crew member who is currently the car chief for the #66 Rusty Wallace Racing NASCAR Nationwide Series car driven by Steve Wallace. There are no scheduled services at this time. Please keep Ricky and the Cade family in your prayers.(12-6-2011)


    News from December 5, 2011

  • Kurt Busch out at Penske? UPDATE mutual agreement to part ways: Penske Racing officials are meeting Monday to determine the future of driver #22-Kurt Busch. Penske officials were contacted by ESPN.com on Sunday, but would not confirm or deny the meeting over Busch's status, while the Charlotte Observer reported that Busch has been fired. Busch has been involved in several behavior incidents on the track this season, including the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Busch made an obscene hand gesture leaving the track after his transmission failure early in the race. He also had a profanity-laced tirade at ESPN's Dr. Jerry Punch and his camera crew in the garage moments later, which went viral on YouTube. NASCAR later penalized Busch $50,000 for the two incidents. Penske officials, along with team sponsors Shell Pennzoil, publicly reprimanded Busch afterward. Sources confirmed that Shell Pennzoil officials have spoken with team owner Roger Penske and expressed concerns about Busch continuing as the driver. Penske spokesman Bud Denker and Walt Czarnecki, the executive vice president of Penske Corportation, said they will stand by their comment made after Busch was fined by NASCAR that they will not comment further until their internal review is complete. Kurt Busch had an earlier incident with reporters this season at Richmond in September, the final event before the Chase started. He had to be restrained from a NASCAR.com reporter on pit road. Busch also tore another reporter's interview transcript in half after being questioned about recorded comments that he denied making. Last week in Las Vegas, Busch said he was seeing a sports psychologist to deal with his anger issues.(ESPN)
    AND Speculation points to David Ragan as the leading candidate for the job. Ragan spent the 2011 season with Roush Fenway Racing, but his future has been in doubt since the team lost sponsorship for next season. He earned his first career Sprint Cup victory this season, at Daytona International Speedway. Other candidates for the job include David Reutimann and Brian Vickers — two drivers who drove in the Sprint Cup Series this past season but are without a ride for 2012 — and Sam Hornish Jr., who has previously driven for Penske at the Sprint Cup level.(FoxSports)(12-4-2011)
    UPDATE Penske Racing announced today that it has reached a mutual agreement with driver Kurt Busch to end its driver/race team relationship, effective immediately. The team will evaluate its options for the driver of the #22 Sprint Cup Series car in the future while Busch will seek new opportunities with another race team. "I appreciate the victories that Kurt has brought Penske Racing and our sponsors over the past six years," said Roger Penske. "While I am disappointed that Kurt will not be racing for our team in the future, both Kurt and I felt that separating at this time was best for all parties, including our team and sponsors. I wish Kurt the best in his future racing endeavors."
    "I am grateful to Penske Racing for six very productive years," said Busch. "Together we won a lot of races -16 in all. Leaving a great organization and a lucrative contract is not easy, but it's an important step for me and allows me to take a deep breath to work on things that can make me a better driver and a better person. I want to personally thank Roger Penske for the opportunity that he has given me."(Penske Racing)
    AND been told Ragan has been released by Roush Fenway Racing and Ford to pursue other oppurtunities. Supposedly he was in line to run the #51 Chevy in 2012, but now hearing he will sign a one-year deal to run the #22 Dodge for Penske.(12-5-2011)
    AND III: Penske was out of the country and unavailable to comment directly. But Bud Denker, a senior vice president for Penske Corporation, said the split was best for all parties. "Kurt had some concern with our performance,'' Denker told ESPN.com. "Obviously, we had concerns with his on and off the track behavior. We agreed to take the high road for both of us. We agreed that separating at this time was best for all parties, including Kurt and the sponsors.'' Denker would not comment on whether Penske Racing had to meet any financial obligations to Busch, who had several years left on his contract. But he said "we have no further obligations, financially or contractually.'' Denker said while Shell Pennzoil was consulted in the decision, "it was ultimately our decision.'' "It's important for people to understand the nature of what we've done,'' Denker said. "It's a mutual separation. Kurt came to the conclusion and we have as well that it's time to move on. Kurt has been a terrific driver for us. He's a friend. We have been working with problems and issues in the past. It's well documented by everyone. As we looked at 2012 and beyond it was time to move on based on that incident at Homestead.'' Denker said it was a difficult decision, noting Busch has done a great job promoting sponsors for Penske Racing.
    One of the criteria Shell Pennzoil had when it signed with Penske Racing last season was to have a championship-caliber driver. That prompted the move of Busch from the #2 Miller Lite car to the #22. Denker said Busch's replacement "may not be a championship driver right now,'' but said Shell is behind anybody they choose. He acknowledged that David Ragan, who won at Daytona in June, might be a possibility. Ragan remains under contract with Roush Fenway Racing, but he doesn't have a ride for 2012 because he lost sponsor UPS. Initial inquiries, multiple sources said, have been made. "It could be David, it could be others,'' Denker said. "We have not started that process yet.''(ESPN)(12-5-2011)

  • TV NOTE: SPEED will air a special edition of SPEED Center tonight at 6 pm/et, co-hosted by Adam Alexander and Steve Byrnes, to wrap up the Kurt Busch situation.(12-5-2011)

  • Ragan in line for the #22 ride: been told Ragan has been released by Roush Fenway Racing and Ford to pursue other oppurtunities. Supposedly he was in line to run the #51 Chevy in 2012, but now hearing he will sign a one-year deal to run the #22 Dodge for Penske.(12-5-2011)
    AND David Ragan was given his release from Roush Fenway Racing on Monday, opening the door for him to possibly replace 2004 Sprint Cup champion Kurt Busch at Penske Racing. Ragan said he asked for his release Monday morning, after learning that Busch and Penske Racing had mutually agreed to split. He then talked to Penske Racing president Tim Cindric to express an interest in the vacant #22 ride. "I want to be in consideration for that car," Ragan said. Ragan said he had been disappointed when UPS informed Roush Fenway during the season that it was not returning to the #6 car as a sponsor. "Sometimes crazy things happen for a reason. I feel I've got a good shot to have a sit-down talk with the guys at Penske," Ragan said. "We haven't discussed that, but I have reached out to them and hopefully later on in the next week or two we'll have more to talk about." Although Ragan didn't have a Sprint Cup Series ride with RFR for 2012, he remained under contract until he was given the release. The move now clears him to pursue the Penske opening, as well as other potential vacancies in Sprint Cup and the Nationwide Series.
    Penske Racing executive Bud Denker acknowledged that Ragan "and others" would be considered to replace Busch, whose behavior on and off the track led to the split. He did not give a timetable, but indicated it could be several weeks, as the process has just begun and sponsor Shell Pennzoil will have to approve the winning candidate. Others drivers who might be considered include David Reutimann and Brian Vickers. Reutimann was released from Michael Waltrip Racing, while Vickers was a part of Red Bull Racing, which is folding its NASCAR operation. Denker said that Sam Hornish Jr. will not be under consideration, as Penske wants the former IndyCar Series champion to focus on a full Nationwide Series run in 2012 before returning to Cup. Hornish drove full time in the Cup Series for Penske from 2008 through 2010, recording only two top-5 finishes and never finishing better than 28th in points.(ESPN)(12-5-2011)

  • Pattie named Bowyer's crew chief UPDATE 3 and Red Bull crew? Brian Pattie is expected to be named crew chief on Dec 1st for the #15 Toyota that Clint Bowyer will drive for MWR in 2012. As far as a pit crew is concerned, a deal is in the works that would bring one of the Red Bull Racing squads to MWR for Bowyer's team if investors can't be found to salvage that company.(FoxSports)(11-16-2011)
    UPDATE: Sources report Brian Pattie will be named #15-Clint Bowyer's crew chief as early as Monday [Dec 5th]. The former Earnhardt Ganassi Racing crew chief for Juan Pablo Montoya will assume the same role at Michael Waltrip Racing calling the shots for newcomer Bowyer. Speculation of the Pattie-Bowyer pairing has been ongoing in recent weeks since the Ford 400 season-ending weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway.(Motor Racing Network)(12-4-2011)
    UPDATE Expect an announcement this week that Brian Pattie will serve as crew chief for Clint Bowyer's new #15 5-Hour Energy Toyota at Michael Waltrip Racing. Many of the crew members under his watch will come from Red Bull Racing [#4 & #83], which is not expected to return in 2012. Red Bull Racing’s #83 Sprint Cup Series team pitted Johanna Long’s Super Late Model entry at this weekend’s Snowball Derby at Five Flags Speedway in Pensacola, Florida, and many went directly to work at Michael Waltrip Racing today [Monday Dec 5th]. Unofficially, seven over-the-wall crewmembers from Red Bull Racing are expected to work for MWR in 2012. Five of them will crew Bowyer’s #15 Toyota, including the front tire changer, front tire carrier and gas man from Kasey Kahne’s former #4 team, along with the jack man and rear tire changer from Brian Vickers’ #83. Two other former Red Bull crewmen will work on MWR’s #56 and #55 Toyotas. Other former Red Bull team members have found work at JTG Daugherty Racing and Hendrick Motorsports.
    Sources with Red Bull Racing said crewmembers were originally forbidden to talk to other teams until the end of their current contract in early December. Red Bull reportedly issued an amendment to that ruling 3-4 weeks ago, allowing crewmen to seek immediate employment in exchange for forfeiting their severance pay if Red Bull closes its doors. It is expected that Red Bull will releasing the balance of its Competition Department at the end of business today.(Sirius Speedway)(12-5-2011)
    OFFICIAL: Michael Waltrip Racing today announced that Brian Pattie will serve as crew chief for Clint Bowyer’s #15 5-hour ENERGY Toyota Camry in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series beginning in 2012. “Brian is someone whose been on our radar for a very long time,” said Waltrip. “He brings a strong technical background, along with great leadership and Chase experience. We have high hopes for Brian, Clint and the 5-hour ENERGY team heading into 2012 and we think this is the perfect mix of talent, experience and leadership.” Pattie joins the team after 18 victories in a long Nationwide Series career with a variety of drivers and a Sprint Cup stint at Earnhardt Ganassi Racing as crew chief for Juan Pablo Montoya. He guided the former open wheel driver to a spot in the Chase in 2009 and a victory at Watkins Glen in 2010. “Michael Waltrip Racing is an up-and-coming team making improvements every day,” said Pattie, a Zephyrhills Fla. native who began his duties at MWR on Dec. 1. “I know how close it is to joining the upper echelon of the Sprint Cup Series. When I started talking with Michael about opportunities at MWR I really did my research and was impressed by their commitment to getting to the top of the sport. I feel like this is a great opportunity to join a new team with a new driver and start building something special. Clint’s proven how good he is and I know that will get even better in 2012.”
    Bowyer said the key to any good driver-crew chief relationship is communication. He and Pattie already have a head start in that area. “I’ve known Brian Pattie for a long time and the thing that impresses me the most is how he calls a race and his knowledge of racecars,” said Bowyer. “We both grew up working on dirt cars and have pretty similar backgrounds. We understand each other and I think we speak the same language. I know once we get together and start working we’re going to see great results.”(Michael Waltrip Racing)(12-5-2011)

  • Kyle Busch to present award at American Country Awards Tonight: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Kyle Busch will present the award for Female Artist of the Year at the second annual American Country Awards tonight, Monday, Dec. 5, at the MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas. The awards show will air live on FOX from 8-10pm/et. The five nominees for Female Artist of the Year are Sara Evans, Alison Krauss, Miranda Lambert, Taylor Swift and Carrie Underwood.(NASCAR)(12-5-2011)


    News from December 4, 2011

  • Stewart returns for Festival of Lights in hometown: There was only one thing that NASCAR driver Tony Stewart said would have pulled him away from Las Vegas: the opportunity to celebrate in his hometown. Stewart, a Columbus native, won his third Sprint Cup title Nov. 20 in a championship that came down to the last race at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Florida. He jetted back from a Vegas awards show to Columbus Saturday night to take part in the city's annual Festival of Lights Parade. "I love it," Stewart said of the parade. "I'm really appreciative that they asked me to be the grand marshal, and I'm very honored to be back home." Stewart's fans were equally happy to see their hometown hero.(Columbus Republic)(12-4-2011)

  • NASCAR hopes to keep Sprint Cup ceremony in Vegas: As invitees filed out of the Sprint Cup awards ceremony on Friday, it marked not only the end of the event, but also the end of the three-year deal that brought NASCAR's Champion's Week to Las Vegas. The week-long championship celebration moved to the desert in 2009 after a long stint in New York, where the event often struggled for recognition. In Las Vegas, NASCAR has found that and more -- strong crowds attended events such as the Victory Lap show car parade down the Strip, which even attracted news helicopters hovering overhead. As this Champion's Week concluded, indications were that the event would return to Las Vegas, although no formal announcement of such has yet been made. An agreement between NASCAR and the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority brought the event to the city. "We certainly have a desire to come back. There's a desire I think from them to have us back," Steve Phelps, NASCAR's chief marketing officer, said Friday. "I think we're just trying to figure out, what are the right assets that work for them? What is the best way to engage with the fan base and bring as many people to the city as possible? But we're excited about the possibilities of getting something renewed. We don't have anything right now. There are discussions that are going on."(NASCAR.com)(12-4-2011)

  • Watkins Glen helps spread Christmas cheer, tickets on sale Dec 5th: One of the most popular activities during the holiday season is driving throughout the Southern Tier looking at the beautiful light displays that celebrate this special time of year. In completion of its pledge in 2010, Watkins Glen International presented a $500 donation to Charlie and Debbie Santi of Horseheads, NY. The donation allowed the Santis to add more to their annual Christmas display that is a mainstay of the area. The display was vandalized following Christmas 2010. A tradition for the Santi family, the display was started by Debbie’s late mother, Loretto Chapman, numerous years ago and continues as a tribute to her.
    “I really cannot thank Watkins Glen International enough for their donation,” said Charlie Santi. “A lot of people stop to see our display every year so it seems to mean a lot to the community. We enjoy putting it up and are really excited to be able to make it even bigger this Christmas because of WGI’s support.”
    The $500 donation allowed Santi to purchase an inflatable Frosty the Snowman that illuminates at night, several golden reindeer and hundreds of additional lights. The full display is near completion and will be up through the New Year. In addition to the extensive light display, Santa Claus will be making stops at the Santi household every Friday, Saturday and Sunday between now and Christmas. Families can swing by 6 Hickory Grove Road in Horseheads between 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. during those days to meet Santa and enjoy a candy cane.
    Tickets for the 2012 season at Watkins Glen International will go on sale to the general public on Monday, December 5. Fans won’t want to miss the chance to SAVE up to $15 when they purchase their tickets in advance to experience some of the best racing, fastest cars and finest wine in the world. Fans can learn more about the upcoming race season by calling the WGI ticket office at 866.461.RACE (7223) or logging onto the official website. www.TheGlen.com.(WGI)(12-4-2011)

  • Kentucky season ticket holder Richard Petty tireside chat Jan 31st: Customers who purchase or renew season tickets for Kentucky Speedway’s five NASCAR event 2012 campaign on or before Wednesday, January 18, 2012 will be automatically entered to receive one of 250 invitations for two to an exclusive “Tireside Chat” with Hall of Fame NASCAR legend Richard Petty at Belterra Casino Resort & Spa in Vevay, Ind., on Tuesday, Jan. 31. The seven-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion and Richard Petty Motorsports (RPM) team owner known as “The King”, will relay his career experiences and answer Kentucky Speedway season ticket customer questions during the “Tireside Chat.”
    Season tickets for the 107,000-capacity facility’s 13th season start at $179 and include significant benefits such as an opportunity to purchase as many as 12 additional tickets to the June 30 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series “Quaker State 400” before they go on sale to the general public.
    Season Tickets and season campsites can be purchased by logging on to kentuckyspeedway.com/tickets, calling 859-578-2300 or visiting the speedway corporate offices.(Kentucky Speedway)(12-4-2011)


    News from December 3, 2011

  • Sprint - NASCAR extend partnership: Transcript: Sprint CEO Dan Hesse from 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Awards Banquet:
    Good evening. I agree with many of you. This was the best Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup ever. Congratulations to all of the drivers and teams who contributed to the excitement of this amazing series. Your passion for the sport and commitment to excellence continue to "wow" us.
    I am privileged to be among those recognizing Tony Stewart and the number 14 team for their third NASCAR Sprint Cup championship – joining the ranks of legendary drivers Darrell Waltrip, Cale Yarborough, David Pearson and Lee Petty, who all hold three Cup titles. Tony's down-to-the-last second duel with Carl Edwards was a stunning example of the competitive spirit that drives the sport and why we love NASCAR.
    Tony would not be here without the exceptional support of the Stewart-Haas Racing organization, including co-owner, Gene Haas, crew chief Darian Grubb, and other number 14 crew members here tonight.
    Tony, on behalf of Sprint, I want to thank you for everything you do to support our brand. You deliver value to your sponsors, which is evident in the great relationships you and your team share with Chevy, Office Depot and Mobil 1. Of course, tonight would not be possible without the resolute leadership of NASCAR. They have made a number of bold changes over the past 18 months, from adding Chase "wild card" spots, to revising the points system, to allowing NASCAR drivers to BE NASCAR drivers. This leadership creates an environment that allows the best drivers, crew members and engineers in the world to deliver racing excitement that captivates us every week.
    So, I could not be more pleased than to announce and celebrate tonight, that Sprint and NASCAR have agreed to an extension of our relationship, ensuring that through at least the 2016 season, every Champion crowned will be a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champion.
    I would like to wish everyone in the audience, and watching at home, a very happy and safe holiday season. And Tony, I have a gift for you – one that should make your holiday brighter. On behalf of everyone at Sprint, I am proud to present this check for $5.8 million to our 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champion, Tony Stewart.(NASCAR)
    UPDATE NASCAR and Sprint (NYSE:S) have signed a multiyear agreement for Sprint to remain the entitlement partner of the sport's premier series. The extension keeps NASCAR and Sprint as partners through 2016, and ensures that the No. 1 finisher in the sport's top series will be a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series™ champion. The agreement coincides with NASCAR's Five-Year Industry Action Plan, which is designed to help grow the sport and reach new audiences.
    "Sprint has been very successful in using our sport as a platform to enhance its brand and drive their business," said Brian France, NASCAR chairman and CEO. "They have been a fantastic partner and we are immensely pleased to continue with Sprint as the entitlement partner for our premier series. This new agreement aligns perfectly with our aggressive five-year plan, which is laser-focused on continuing to improve our product, keep our existing fans engaged, and reach new fans."
    "NASCAR fans are great customers who reward us with their loyalty," said Dan Hesse, Sprint CEO. "We're very pleased to continue to have our brand associated with the most competitive and exciting form of racing in the world."
    Since Sprint became the title sponsor in February 2004, it has activated the sponsorship in a number of creative and innovative ways, including the introduction of NASCAR Sprint Cup Mobile, the exclusive application that allows millions of Sprint customers to keep up with every lap of NASCAR action on their wireless devices each year; the Sprint Experience mobile marketing display, which entertains more than 500,000 fans each year at NASCAR Sprint Cup Series events across the country; and the introduction of Miss Sprint Cup, a fan favorite who boasts more than 1.2 million followers in the social media space on Facebook and Twitter.(Sprint)(12-3-2011)

  • Andy Lally honored as Sprint Cup rookie of the year: Andy Lally was in an odd position this year as the only Sprint Cup driver eligible for NASCAR's annual rookie of the year award. Lally had a clear path to the title, yet that, he said, brought more pressure than if he had competed against other drivers. "It has been kind of an odd pressure this year of being the only rookie eligible for this deal," said Lally, who was honored Thursday as the Sunoco Rookie of the Year for the Sprint Cup Series. "I think it was actually more pressure doing it this way than having to beat two or three other guys because I knew we didn't have much to compare to and we were going to be compared to the other 42 superstars that compete week in and week out and trying to go for those top-10s, which were so far away, and try to qualify as good as we could every weekend so I could try to earn the respect of the 12 guys in this room and the others guys. [That] was a monumental task and something that I really wanted to achieve so I could earn their respect." Lally, who was driving for TRG Motorsports, didn't score any top-10 finishes and finished in the top 20 only once. He made 30 of the 36 races, failing to qualify three times and wasn't entered in three races. Lally, a three-time Grand-Am Rolex Series champion and former Nationwide and Truck Series driver, got his first opportunity to run in the Sprint Cup Series this year.(SceneDaily)(12-3-2011)

  • MWR and Waltrip to run in Daytona Rolex 24: Michael Waltrip Racing owners Rob Kauffman and Michael Waltrip announced today that they will race in the 50th annual Rolex 24 at Daytona on Jan. 26-29. The AF Waltrip entry is a joint project of multiple sports car championship winning AF Corse and Michael Waltrip Racing. Joining the pair behind the wheel of the new Grand Am version of the Ferrari 458 GT will be action sports star and four-time North American rally champion Travis Pastrana and world-renowned road racing veteran Rui Aguas. "My racing career will forever be linked to Daytona, because it was defined on those high banks," said Waltrip, a two-time Daytona 500 champion. "I've raced at Daytona for 25 years and I can't wait to turn left at the end of pit road and race through the infield for the first time. It will be special to share this experience with Rob, Rui and Travis." The AF Waltrip team will be working in close collaboration with the Italy based AF Corse sports car team which fielded Ferraris for Waltrip and Kauffman at the 24 Hours of Le Mans last June. Kauffman previously joined Justin Bell and Aguas in a podium third-place finish at Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta in October.(Michael Waltrip Racing)(12-3-2011)

  • Daugherty Stands Tall In Martinsville Speedway Truck Test: Brad Daugherty has watched lots of races at Martinsville Speedway, as a fan, car owner and TV analyst for ESPN. After last month's TUMS Fast Relief 500, he knew he had to turn some laps himself on the historic oval. And that's what he did most of Wednesday, run laps at Martinsville Speedway, in a race truck, specially modified to allow plenty of room for his 7-foot-1 frame. The former NBA All-Star recorded some pretty good times, too, clocking in laps of under 22 seconds, which is within shouting distance of the qualifying speed for a NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race at Martinsville. "This is a great track. I think the biggest thing for Andy Petree (former Sprint Cup Series championship crew chief and fellow ESPN analyst) and I was the last race here," said Daugherty, explaining why he picked Martinsville to test. "I thought it (TUMS Fast Relief 500) was the best race we had all year, including the Homestead race, which was great … watching Carl and Tony battle. But that race we had here was just the best we had all season long. And when we left here, Andy was like, 'we got to bring our stuff back here and runs some laps.' This place is just cool." Petree, who has actually run a couple of NASCAR Camping World Truck Series races at Martinsville, was back behind the wheel in his own truck Wednesday, helping show Daugherty the ropes. Not that he needed a lot of help. He's been involved in racing since he was a teenager and driven in several different divisions over the years. "I've been racing a little here and there, at Hickory, at Myrtle Beach (speedways). Probably over the last eight or nine years, I've raced more and more," said Daugherty, a former All-American at the University of North Carolina. "I've raced for quite a while, but I've always just dabbled. I've never been able to do a lot because of basketball and the TV work I do." Daugherty plans on running much of the National Auto Sport Association Southeastern Regional schedule in a truck next season. That's the reason he built the truck he had at Martinsville, one with an interior designed for his size. "We took the oil cooler out from behind the seat and moved it up to the right front corner of the truck and moved the seat and cab back about 14 inches," said Daugherty, who will have to do a little offseason work on the truck after scrubbing the wall late in Wednesday's test. "It's the first time I've ever had this much room in anything I've raced."
    Racing returns to Martinsville Speedway with the Kroger 250 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race on March 31 and the Goody's Fast Relief 500 on April 1. Tickets are on sale and may be purchased by calling 877.RACE.TIX or online at www.martinsvillespeedway.com.(Martinsville Speedway)(12-3-2011)

  • #99 Team Claim 2011 Mechanix Wear Most Valuable Pit Crew: There's no insurance for good finishes like a great pit crew. And the pit crew for the #99 AFLAC Ford Fusion of Carl Edwards did just that – delivering the best average finish of 4.9 for the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup and Edwards' second place finish in the final standings. That hard work, flawless performance and strong motivation earned them the Mechanix Wear Most Valuable Pit Crew for 2011 and a $100,000 bonus. The Mechanix Wear Most Valuable Pit Crew Award, which is determined by a vote of each team's crew chief, is given quarterly to the top-performing pit crew in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. The four quarterly winners are eligible for the year-end Mechanix Wear Most Valuable Pit Crew Award presented during Champion's Week in Las Vegas – and the $100,000 grand prize. This year celebrates the 10th annual Mechanix Wear Most Valuable Pit Crew Championship – the only authentic competition voted on by crew chiefs – as well as the safety innovator's 20th year in the sport. Mechanix Wear, the #1 glove in racing, is the Official Glove of NASCAR® used by nearly all pit crew members in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.
    That's why Mechanix Wear is proud to announce that the #99 AFLAC pit crew from Roush Fenway Racing is the winner of the Mechanix Wear Most Valuable Pit Crew Award for the 2011 season. The #99 AFLAC pit crew was selected for its fast pit stops, flawless performance and incredible effort over the 38-race season. The team also won the Mechanix Wear Most Valuable Pit Crew Award for the fourth quarter. The #99 AFLAC pit crew joined Edwards in Las Vegas as part of their award to be honored at the annual NASCAR Sprint Cup celebration, where they took home the Mechanix Wear Most Valuable Pit Crew trophy and the $100,000 grand prize.
    Members of the #99 pit crew include.
    · Gas man - Joe Karasinski, Spotswood, N.J.
    · Rear tire carrier - Jody Fortson, China Grove, N.C.
    · Rear tire changer - Dwayne Ogles, Hoover, Ala.
    · Jack man - Dennis Killian, Wentzville, Mo.
    · Front tire carrier - Alan Troutman, China Grove, N.C.
    · Front tire changer - Kale Uphoff, McFarland, Wis.
    · Pit crew coach - Andy Ward, Kannapolis, N.C.
    · Trainer -- Les Ebert
    (Mechanix Wear/Victory Management Group)(12-3-2011)

  • Robert Weaver Wins Inaugural Betty Jane France Humanitarian Award: The NASCAR Foundation announced today that Robert Weaver, an 83-year old Talladega, Ala.-native, has won the inaugural Betty Jane France Humanitarian Award. The announcement was made by The NASCAR Foundation Founder and Chairwoman, Betty Jane France, during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Awards Ceremony at Wynn Las Vegas on Friday, Dec. 2, culminating the Champion's Week celebration in Las Vegas. “There was a clear common thread with not only our finalists but every single one of our nominees,” said Betty Jane France. “All of them had made a significant impact on the lives of children through volunteerism or charitable work during the last five years. There also was another important thread: All of our nominees love NASCAR. The fans have chosen Robert Weaver, a man who really personifies what this award is all about. It is a true honor to announce Robert as our inaugural Betty Jane France Humanitarian Award winner.” Weaver, who is known across the Talladega region as the "Ice Cream Man" because of the many treats he delivers to deaf, blind and multi-disabled students, received the most votes among four finalists during a NASCAR nationwide fan vote on NASCAR.com and the mobile voting site developed by Sprint. “I am extremely honored and humbled to have been selected the inaugural recipient of the Betty Jane France Humanitarian Award and thank NASCAR, The NASCAR Foundation and the France family for making this possible,” said Weaver. “I have often said that I don’t hit home runs; I just do little things. It is the little things that matter so much in people’s lives. As I look back over my own life, working with the children of Alabama Institute for Deaf and Blind has been part of my calling – it is why I was put on this earth. I encourage everyone to find something they are passionate about and commit to making a difference – you’re never too young or old to start.”
    As the winner of the inaugural Betty Jane France Humanitarian Award, Weaver received an expense-paid trip to the 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champion's Week in Las Vegas, a 2012 Ford Explorer from Ford and $100,000 from The NASCAR Foundation for the Alabama Institute for the Deaf and Blind Foundation – his children’s charity of choice.(NASCAR) for full PR and more info on 2012, see my Racing Charities page.(12-3-2011)


    News from December 2, 2011

  • Day 4: Stewart All Smiles As Champion’s Week Comes To A Close: Each crew member from the #14 Office Depot/Mobil 1 Chevrolet team lined up inside the media room at the Wynn Las Vegas where championship photos were being taken. Each waited his turn to pose with the gleaming NASCAR Sprint Cup Series trophy from Tiffany & Co. – and the boss, new three-time series champion, Tony Stewart. Stewart’s smile never vanished, even as the number of shots from Friday’s Champion’s Week finale crept into the hundreds. Why? Well, for one, these were his guys, and Stewart had said that this final night of NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champion’s Week was all for his team. And two, he was having too good a time to do anything BUT smile.
    “This is by far the most fun from start to finish of any championship week I’ve ever been a part of,” Stewart said prior to tonight’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Awards Ceremony, the official end to Champion’s Week in Las Vegas. “I love Vegas a lot. There’s just so much you can do, so much to see.”
    This week was an eventful and memorable one for Stewart. He started the week on Tuesday, running through a number of media hits, including the Landmark Photo Shoot which including photos taken at the Welcome to Las Vegas sign, the iconic lion at the MGM Grand Hotel and, finally, the Foundation Room at Mandalay Bay. To view and download the photos from Tuesday’s shoot, click here.
    Wednesday began with an honor befitting a champion: a call from the President of the United States Barack Obama congratulating him on his impressive feat. Stewart’s roll continued later in the day, as he and Stewart-Haas Racing teammate Ryan Newman won a NASCAR-themed version of the Newlywed Game, which was held on Fremont Street for the fans.
    On Thursday, Stewart took home four awards at the annual NASCAR NMPA Myers Brothers Luncheon before taking part in a number of fan-focused events: the NASCAR Victory Lap, the NASCAR After The Lap, and the Stewies – a light-hearted awards show on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.
    Friday evening’s awards ceremony will feature a star-studded entertainment lineup, with host Reba, and performances by Kid Rock, Ella Mae Bowen and Broadway sensation the Jersey Boys. The winner of the Betty Jane France Humanitarian Award will also be announced during the ceremony. The awards ceremony will be broadcast live on SPEED, Sirius XM NASCAR Radio and MRN Radio at 9 pm/et.(NASCAR). See more day to day events and links on my 2011 Sprint Cup Awards News and Links page.(12-2-2011)

  • Stewart Announces 2011 ‘Stewie Award’ Winners on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio: Winners of the fifth annual ‘Stewie Awards’ were announced last night by 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champion Tony Stewart live on Sirius XM Radio and in front of a studio audience at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas. The ‘Stewie Award’ winners were decided by fans who voted for the best, boldest and funniest moments of the NASCAR season. Listeners around the country tuned in to experience the event live on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio, channel 90 on Sirius and XM Premier (formerly known as “The Best of Sirius”). ‘The Stewies’ will be rebroadcast on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio several times over the coming weeks, including this Saturday, Dec. 3 (3:00 pm/et) and Sunday, Dec. 4 (6:00 pm/et).
    Guests on last night's program included: NASCAR President Mike Helton, Carl Edwards, Jimmie Johnson, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jeff Gordon, auto racing legends A.J. Foyt and Leonard Wood, and celebrities Jerry Springer and Robin Leach. Video highlights of the event are available now at siriusxm.com/stewieawards. See winners in my Awards News page - Stewie Awards section.(12-2-2011)

  • Top-12 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Drivers Hold Nothing Back: The 2011 top-12 NASCAR Sprint Cup SeriesTM drivers held nothing back today at the third annual, fan-favorite NASCAR After The Lap held at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Las Vegas and sponsored by Coca-Cola and Ford. ESPN pit road reporter Jamie Little hosted the event along with co-host Miss Sprint Cup Monica Palumbo. A list of the top-10 unfiltered, driver “tell-all” comments are outlined below.
    Top-10 List
    Number 1
    · Ryan Newman was asked if he purchased his boss (2011 Champion Tony Stewart) anything special after winning the championship.
    · “No!”
    · Jamie Little followed with “Ryan, you told me earlier there was a waxing appointment but that no appointment was long enough to cover Tony’s needs.”
    Number 2
    · Question for Kyle Busch: “Kyle, we hear your wife cooked her first Thanksgiving this year…How did she do?”
    · Response: “It was good. That’s what she said.”
    Number 3
    · Comment from host Little: “There are a lot of single women in Vegas.”
    · Response from Stewart: “Why do you think I’m just happy to be here?”
    Number 4
    After comments about brothers Kurt and Kyle Busch dressing alike and being confused for each other, Kurt Busch responded:
    · “When the fine comes in the mail, they know how to spell our name right.”
    Number 5
    · Question: What if Delana Harvick (wife of Kevin Harvick) showed up (to the race) without a fire suit?
    · Special guest and Blue Comedy Tour comedian Bill Engvall responded: “We talking no suit at all? Cus, that would be awesome.”
    · Harvick followed with “If she walked out without a fire suit and I missed the race, you’d know why.”
    · “At least for the first 10 laps…” said Matt Kenseth.
    Number 6
    · Earnhardt Jr. was asked about his future wife…
    · “Yea, she’s real,” said Earnhardt Jr.
    · “Not real’s a blow-up doll.” Engvall
    · Little asked if she was a blonde.
    · “She’s like Snooki ... he hasn’t noticed,” said Gordon. Earlier in the show, Stewart had commented that “For the first three episodes, I didn’t even know Snooki had a head.”
    Number 7
    · Stewart was positioned in a chair next to Little who was standing nearby. “Why do you think she sat me next to her? Always sit the fat kid next to the tall girl.”
    Number 8
    · Kurt Busch noted that he was “camera shy. I think the best form of communication is cussing.”
    Number 9
    · “I felt uncomfortable today for the first time in a long time because I was changing next to Carl.” Stewart
    · “You’ll always have me beat with that back hair.” Carl Edwards
    · “Hey, I’m out here working hard to represent all fat kids.” Stewart
    Number 10
    · Four-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champion Gordon break dancing for fans at NASCAR After The Lap.
    (NASCAR)(12-2-2011)

  • 2011 Championship "Tire Specialist" award announced: Champion Tire & Wheel has announced the recipient of the 2011 Sprint Cup "Consistently Smooth" award is Stewart-Haas Racing's, Aaron Kuehn. The award recognizes the skill and effort of the team's tire specialist in overseeing the #14 teams' tire and wheel program. The tire specialist is an important piece in the performance formula for a championship effort as it requires managing a program of over 2,500 tires and wheels throughout the full Sprint Cup season. When the call for a pit stop comes, the efforts to find the right combination of tires, wheels, and air pressure is critical in the overall handling and performance of the race car. The lead crystal trophy will be presented to Kuehn at the team's shop in Charlotte, NC with Owner/Driver -Tony Stewart, Vice President of Competition - Matt Borland, and Crew Chief - Darian Grubb. In addition to the Sprint Cup series recipients, Champion Tire and Wheel will also present Roush-Fenway Racing's Kevin Kramzer, the Championship tire specialists award for the Ricky Stenhouse driven Nationwide Series team, and Dustin Keath, the tire specialist for Richard Childress Racing and the Austin Dillon driven Camping World Truck Series Championship effort.(Champion Tire and Wheel PR) (12-1-2011)

  • Hamilton Means Racing plans to make Cup debut in 2012: Hamilton Means Racing, a team created by four principal owners with various levels of involvement in NASCAR, have announced their intentions to go NASCAR Sprint Cup Racing in 2012. Dell Hamilton, Jimmy Means, Arash Khorsandi and Kelly Owen will team up and look to make their first start in the Cup series at Daytona in February. The team is still reviewing their options for the driver of their newly formed #52. Recruiting talented individuals available in NASCAR and obtaining additional equipment vital to the team’s effort, is the focus of the group at this point. Their plans are to operate from Means Motorsports race shop located in Forest City, NC alongside his fulltime Nationwide team. Means, no stranger to the NASCAR scene, has many years of experience as a Driver/Owner with 455 starts in the Cup series dating back to 1973. He has also owned and managed the #52 Nationwide team for the past 10 season since retiring as a driver. Hamilton Means Racing is hoping to secure additional partnerships and sponsors based on the relationships that Means, aka “Smut”, has developed within the sport.
    Hamilton, a businessman from Chattanooga Tennessee, operates Crusader Staffing who has been, and will continue to be, a longtime supporter of MacDonald Motorsports in the NASCAR Nationwide Series. Hamilton is excited about his role in the startup of HMR Racing, and stated “after researching what it takes to be competitive in NASCAR’s top series, we are ready to get going and establish our team in the series.” Owen and Khorsandi, Floridian natives, longtime friends and fans of the sport, see this opportunity as a way to fulfill a lifetime dream of being involved in the operations as well as creating new relationships in the sport of NASCAR. Owen entered the sport as a sponsor and has been involved with operations at Means Motorsports dating back to the summer of 2010. The two say they are aware of the obstacles ahead of them but look forward to the challenge.(Crusader Racing PR)(12-1-2011)

  • Mattiolis honored: Drs. Rose and Joseph Mattioli, of Pocono Raceway, received the National Motorsports Press Association's Myers Brothers Award last night. The award, presented during season-ending NASCAR festivities in Las Vegas, recognizes individuals and/or groups who have provided outstanding contributions to stock car racing. The Mattiolis have owned Pocono Raceway since it opened in the late 1960s. Finalists for the award included Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson and the Wood Brothers. "[The Mattiolis] represent the true heart and spirit of NASCAR," said NMPA president Rea White. "They always recognized that NASCAR was more about people than anything else." Billy and Bobby Myers were former NASCAR competitors.(Philadelphia Daily News)(12-2-2011)

  • Papis brings NASCAR to Monza Rally Show: This past weekend, Max Papis Racing gave Italian fans and racing enthusiasts a little taste of NASCAR at the historic track of Monza in Italy during the Monza Rally Show. The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series 2-seater car, provided by Joe Gibbs Racing and driven by Italian, Max Papis, quite simply, "stole the show." The Monza Rally Show included 9 special stages, in which racing celebrities such as Sebastien Loeb, Valentino Rossi, Dindo Capello, amongst others, competed in the historic event which attracts tens of thousands of fans. Max Papis was the "opening act" during each special stage, showing off his NASCAR Sprint Cup Series car and thrilling the crowd with the almost 800-horsepower Toyota Camry.(Max Papis Racing)(12-2-2011)

  • Penske Racing teams up with ADP: ADP, a leading provider of human resource outsourcing, payroll services, benefits administration and integrated computing solutions for vehicle dealers, announced it has teamed up with Penske Racing to become an official sponsor of that winning organization. One of the world’s largest providers of business outsourcing solutions, ADP will become the official payroll service of Penske Racing under the terms of the new agreement. With over half a million clients across the globe, ADP plans to take full advantage of its new partnership with Penske Racing to entertain its customers at both NASCAR Cup Series and Nationwide Series, as well as IZOD IndyCar Series, events beginning next season.(Penske Racing)(12-2-2011)

  • Mayfield gets court date in quest against NASCAR: Jeremy Mayfield’s next day in court – against NASCAR – is set for Jan. 24 in the U.S. Court of Appeals in Richmond. A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit will hear the appeal. The panel will decide whether Mayfield has enough evidence for the case to continue. Neither NASCAR nor Mayfield will know which appeals court judges will hear the case until the morning of the hearing. Mayfield has not competed in NASCAR since the May 2009 drug test, which Mayfield claims was a false positive resulting from a combination of prescription medication for adult-deficit hyperactivity disorder and over-the-counter allergy medication. U.S. District Court Judge Graham Mullen dismissed Mayfield’s claims in May 2010, ruling that Mayfield could not sue because of waivers that he had signed in order to compete in Cup. The judge also questioned the strength of Mayfield’s evidence.(SceneDaily)(12-2-2011)


    News from December 1, 2011

  • Day 3: Grubb Stands Tall; Stewart Gets Call: Darian Grubb spoke for mere minutes at Thursday’s NASCAR NMPA Myers Brothers Awards Luncheon, but the words that tumbled from the champion crew chief’s mouth were a good two months in the making. Prior to October’s race at Charlotte Motor Speedway, Grubb learned that his tenure as Tony Stewart’s crew chief would end after the season. Then, six races and three victories later, Grubb won an improbable NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship atop the pit box for the #14 Office Depot/Mobil 1 Chevrolet. A few days later, the move was confirmed. Grubb was out, Steve Addington was in as Stewart’s crew chief in 2012. That draining sequence of events framed the highlight of Thursday’s traditional NASCAR NMPA Myers Brothers Awards Luncheon at the Bellagio – Grubb’s acceptance speech as champion crew chief. With emotion in his voice, Grubb thanked Stewart for the opportunity – and his friendship. During the post-event media availability, Grubb explained his feelings from the roller-coaster ride. “It’s just tough,” Grubb said. “It’s just awkward because we want to enjoy it, but we know things are changing. So we’re trying our best to enjoy the championship and everything we’ve earned and deserved and go from there.”
    Stewart, who filled his expanding trophy case with four more awards on Thursday, continued a dream week. Enjoying the spoils as guest of honor during NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champion’s Week, Stewart picked up the phone on Wednesday morning to speak with President Barack Obama – calling from Air Force One. “It is a huge honor to get a call from the President of the United States,” Stewart said. “I was more nervous that I wasn’t going to be able to hear on the phone very well, being from Air Force One, but they got great service up there. He just congratulated us on a great season. … The First Lady was giving him updates from the track, so I was really proud that he was following our sport and cared enough to call yesterday.”
    A number of postseason awards were given out during the luncheon, the last of which was the event’s namesake: the NMPA Myers Brothers Award. This year, the honor was given to former CEO of Pocono Raceway Dr. Joe Mattioli and his wife Rose. Also announced today was the Wheaties Fuel Most Popular Driver Award, given to Dale Earnhardt Jr. for the ninth consecutive year.
    At the event’s conclusion, the top-12 drivers hit The Strip for what has evolved into one of the most hotly anticipated events of Champion’s Week: the NASCAR Victory Lap. For the third consecutive year, thousands of fans lined The Strip to watch the top 12 roar down The Strip. Starting at Planet Hollywood and ending at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, celebratory burnouts smoked the closed streets of Las Vegas. A large crowd also enjoyed a Q&A session with the top 12 at the popular NASCAR After The Lap, held at the Hard Rock. The tell-all format has gained mass appeal, as drivers show fans a more personal side.
    Here is the complete list of Thursday’s award winners from the NASCAR NMPA Myers Brothers Awards Luncheon:
    Myers Brothers Award: Drs. Joe and Rose Mattioli
    NASCAR Foundation Track of the Year Award: Michigan International Speedway
    Wheaties Fuel Most Popular Driver Award: Dale Earnhardt Jr.
    Buddy Shuman Award: Richard Childress
    NASCAR Marketing Achievement Award: Toyota
    Sunoco Rookie of the Year Award: Andy Lally
    Growth Energy American Ethanol Green Flag Restart: Matt Kenseth
    Coors Light Pole Award: Carl Edwards
    Mobil 1 Driver of the Year Award: Tony Stewart
    DIRECTV Crew Chief of the Year Award: Bob Osborne
    MOOG Chassis Part Problem Solver of the Year Award: Alan Gustafson
    O’Reilly Auto Parts Position Improvement Award: Tony Stewart
    Mechanix Wear Most Valuable Pit Crew Award: Roush Fenway Racing #99
    Mahle Engine Builder of the Year Award: Roush Yates Engines #99 (Doug Yates)
    Goodyear Gatorback Belts & Hoses Fastest Lap Award: Kyle Busch
    Sunoco Diamond Performance Award: Tony Stewart
    Goodyear Tires Award: Tony Stewart
    Champion Sponsor Award: Office Depot and Mobil 1
    Champion Crew Chief: Darian Grubb
    Following is a rundown of tomorrow’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champion’s Week activities.
    Friday, Dec. 3
    2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Awards Ceremony: The big show starts at 6 p.m. (9 p.m. ET), crowning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Tony Stewart and team Stewart-Haas Racing, and honoring the other drivers who finished in the top 10 in the final series standings. The star-studded entertainment lineup for the ceremony includes country music icon Reba as host, a performance by Grammy-award winning rocker Kid Rock, as well as performances by two recent additions: up-and-coming country artist Ella Mae Bowen and Broadway sensation Jersey Boys. SPEED, SIRIUS XM NASCAR Radio and MRN Radio will broadcast the event, live at 9 p.m. ET.(NASCAR). See more day to day events and links on my 2011 Sprint Cup Awards News and Links page.(12-1-2011)

  • Kurt Busch seeing sports psychologist: #22-Kurt Busch is working with a sports psychologist to help him with anger issues that led to a $50,000 fine by NASCAR after the final Sprint Cup race at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Busch also is looking for a new crew chief that will "be able to put me back in my box if I get out of it.'' Busch said the most likely scenario is his new pit boss will be hired from within Penske Racing. "I need somebody that respects what I've done but also can control me in a way that is also positive,'' the 2004 Cup champion said. "I need to be a better person on the radio, to the team, as a leader. I'm actually working with a sports psychologist to try to help me work through that." Asked if his sessions with the sports psychologist dealt with anger issues, Busch said, "It's personal, of course. Working with a sports psychologist I've gotten a small grasp, but there's obviously bigger things I have to accomplish. Things can't happen overnight.' Busch said he doesn't believe former crew chief Steve Addington's decision to leave the team had as much to do with his behavior as it did Addington being offered to become Tony Stewart's crew chief.(ESPN)(12-1-2011)

  • Earnhardt Jr. Wins Ninth Straight Most Popular Driver Award: Junior Nation has spoken once again. Fans of Dale Earnhardt Jr. voted the Sprint Cup Series driver the NASCAR NMPA Most Popular Driver for the ninth straight year. Earnhardt Jr. earned the award after receiving the most online fan votes among all eligible drivers throughout the 2011 racing season. The trophy was presented by award sponsor Wheaties FUEL to Earnhardt Jr. at the National Motorsports Press Association's Myers Brothers ceremony Thursday in Las Vegas.
    Fans cast nearly 1.5 million total votes throughout the 2011 campaign, voting up to once per day for their favorite driver at www.WheatiesFuelMostPopularDriver.com. The field was narrowed to 10 finalists and the vote counts were reset to zero for the final 10 races of the season. The nine other finalists were (in alphabetical order): Kyle Busch, Carl Edwards, Jeff Gordon, Kevin Harvick, Jimmie Johnson, Kasey Kahne, Matt Kenseth, Bobby Labonte and Tony Stewart.
    "It's a big honor. My fans have been real supportive throughout my career," Earnhardt Jr. said. "This has been a little bit of a turnaround year from the last couple of years, and we want to keep getting better on the racetrack and give our fans what they expect. We've got a lot of momentum going into 2012, and I'm proud to accept this award on behalf of all the fans who voted." Bill Elliott holds the record for most consecutive Most Popular Driver wins with 10, and he also holds the record for total wins with 16. He removed himself from voting after earning the honor the 16th time. "Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s fans showcase the passion NASCAR drivers can instill," said Rea White, president of the National Motorsports Press Association. "The NMPA appreciates all the fans who vote to make this award an important part of NASCAR." Since 1956, the NASCAR NMPA Most Popular Driver Award, now sponsored by Wheaties FUEL, has recognized NASCAR's most beloved Sprint Cup driver. The award has been won by champions such as Dale Earnhardt, Bobby Allison, Richard Petty and Darrell Waltrip. It is still the only NASCAR award determined solely by the fans. The contest once was decided by a poll among the drivers taken at the end of the season. Later, only the press was able to vote for the winner. Today, race fans from all over the world make the ultimate decision. General Mills became involved with the award in 2001 and today the Wheaties FUEL brand is the presenting sponsor.(Breaking Limits)(12-1-2011)

  • President Obama calls Tony Stewart to congratulate him: On Wednesday, November 30th, President Obama called #14-Tony Stewart to congratulate him and the entire Stewart-Haas Racing team on winning the 2011 Sprint Cup Series Championship and on the incredible season they had. The President said he was impressed that Mr. Stewart was able to come from the back of the pack to edge out Carl Edwards for the win. The President said that the First Lady and Dr. Biden enjoyed being at Homestead for the Ford 400 and how grateful they were to have NASCAR honor military families. The President commended Mr. Stewart and the other drivers for being such positive role models and great ambassadors for NASCAR, and said that he looks forward to congratulating Mr. Stewart in person at the White House next year.(White House)(12-1-2011)

  • Keselowski and Wolfe get extensions from Penske Racing: One of the most successful combinations in NASCAR will continue for years to come at Penske Racing as the organization announced today that both driver Brad Keselowski and crew chief Paul Wolfe have agreed to multi-year contract extensions. Keselowski and Wolfe will continue to lead the #2 team as it pursues the NASCAR Sprint Cup championship in 2012 and beyond. “The winning combination of Brad Keselowski and Paul Wolfe has been terrific for Penske Racing and we are excited to announce that they will continue to work together,” said Roger Penske. “With one NASCAR championship and numerous wins in both the Nationwide Series and the Cup Series to their credit, this has proven to be a special pairing. Although Brad, Paul and the No. 2 team fell short of winning the Cup Series title this season, we know they will continue to be championship contenders for years to come.”
    In their first season of working together in 2010, Keselowski and Wolfe teamed up to produce six wins and five poles on their way to winning the Nationwide Series championship for Penske Racing. That team also established a new series single-season record with 26 top-five finishes and completed all but one lap of competition throughout the 2010 season.(Penske Racing)(12-1-2011)

  • ‘Fearless Freddie’ Lorenzen Honored With Resolution: State Representative Dennis Reboletti (R-Elmhurst, Illinois) sponsored a resolution to honor lifelong Elmhurst resident and NASCAR driver Fred Lorenzen. Also known as Fearless Freddie, Lorenzen began his racing career with a home-built speedster with a lawn mower-powered engine he would race down the streets of Elmhurst. His very first race at a demolition derby at Soldier Field in a 1941 Plymouth landed him his first win and his success only escalated ever since.
    Lorenzen’s accomplishments throughout his racing career include:
    Being the first person to win $100,000 in a single season
    The only NASCAR driver to win 20 races in his first 100 starts
    Twice-voted NASCAR’s most popular driver
    Named one of NASCAR’s 50 Greatest Drivers in 1998
    Upon finishing his racing days, Lorenzen returned back home and resides in Oak Brook where he led a happy life with his family and had a successful career in real estate. “Fred Lorenzen was an icon of NASCAR and the racing world,” Reboletti said. “He is an Illinois sports legend and we recognize him for his lifetime of accomplishments.” Lorenzen has been nominated for the NASCAR Hall of Fame for 2013. A press conference to present the resolution to the Lorenzen family will take place at 3:30 pm Dec. 7 at the Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet.(12-1-2011)

  • 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup Yearbook on sale: NASCAR Fans will once again have the opportunity to purchase the Official NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Yearbook as Round 5 Books announced that the 2011 edition is now available for pre-ordering at Round5Books.com. The Yearbook which ships in early December 2011 is the same book presented to championship winning drivers, team owners, and race team members for over 20 years.(12-1-2011)

  • Sad News - Dave Mitchell: David Andrew Mitchell, age 44 passed away unexpectedly Tuesday, November 29, 2011 at his residence in Thomasville, NC. David was currently employed in the Marketing Dept. with Rick Ware Racing Enterprises. He was a devoted member of the NASCAR racing community and his team recently won NNS Rookie of the Year. For more info, the obit and services, see my 2011 Sad News page.(12-1-2011)

  • Become a Watkins Glen International Fan Ambassador: Watkins Glen International is once again in search of passionate and dedicated fans who are interested in becoming a part of the WGI extended family as Fan Ambassadors. Launched in 2011, the program provides fans with the unique opportunity to show their support of the legendary road course. Those interested have the chance to obtain a behind-the-scenes look at all of the events held at The Glen during the 2012 season while sharing their enthusiasm with fellow fans throughout event weekends. Fan Ambassadors will have the opportunity to join the WGI staff in a variety of roles and handle a wide range of duties, including, but not limited to: escorting corporate partners and VIP guests on garage and pit tours, greet guests and provide assistance in The Glen Club as well as other hospitality areas, assist pace car ride participants, assist pre- and post-race ceremonies in Gatorade Victory Lane as well as much more! This is the best opportunity for fans to become part of the fun and excitement during every event weekend at Watkins Glen International without being in the stands. Ambassador’s will also have a chance to enjoy a variety of exclusive incentives including, but not limited to, weekend admission to all WGI events, receiving track press releases thus being some of the first people notified of the happenings at The Glen, event polo’s, appreciation parties, and special event access such as cold pit passes. Fan Ambassadors are needed, although not required, at the three largest 2012 events at Watkins Glen International, including: Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen, June 29-July 1; Finger Lakes Wine Festival presented by Yancey’s Fancy New York’s Artisan Cheese, July 13-15 and NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at The Glen, August 9-11.
    Fans interested in joining the WGI team as part of the Fan Ambassador program must fill out an application and participate in an interview process, more info and to download an application, go to theglen.com.(12-1-2011)

  • Marlin leads group to save Fairgrounds Speedway; GM hired: Two-time Daytona 500 champion Sterling Marlin from Columbia, TN has joined two other former NASCAR drivers in leading an effort to save the Fairgrounds Speedway. Marlin aalong with Chad Chaffin and Mike Alexander have joined with several other racers and businessmen to form Tennessee Racing Association, LLC, with the single mission of procuring the rights to continue the history of automobile racing at the Tennessee State Fairgrounds. “The history of the Nashville track is known nearly around the world,” said Marlin. “And we’re committed to seeing that continue in a positive way.”
    Marlin, a two-time winner of the Daytona 500, is also a three-time track champion at Nashville and a long history of success in farming, automobile sales and real estate endeavors. Another member of the group is Johnny Turner, owner of Crown Jewelry and Gifts in Franklin, a company he founded in 1998. Turner raced at the Fairgrounds thoughout the 1980’s. “I believe that with the strength of this group we have formed (Tennessee Racing Associates, LLC), there is enough business background, passion for and dedication to racing, that we can, and will, bring racing back to the Nashville Fairgrounds as the great facility it once was,” said Turner. The group of ten individuals brings more than 250 years of racing experience and more than 50 championships from across the southeast, but more importantly more than 300 years of successful business operation in multiple fields.(Columbia Daily Herald)
    AND:Tennessee Racing Associates, LLC today announced the hiring of Nashville native and Fairgrounds Speedway Hall of Fame member Joe T. Williams as general manager of the group's efforts to secure the racing lease at the Tennessee State Fairgrounds for 2012. Williams brings an eclectic history to the task, including radio and television, race track management and public relations, writing and industrial health and safety. He has had success in both the private and governmental sectors. Williams was also one of the architects of the facility's resurgence in the mid '80's when it became the top weekly track in the country, averaging over 11,000 fans per event, after losing two NASCAR Cup dates in a bankruptcy fiasco.(TRA)(12-1-2011)


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