- NASCAR will take another look at lug nut rules: In the face of increasing driver criticism about safety, NASCAR Senior Vice President of Competition Scott Miller said Friday afternoon that the sanctioning body will re-examine its lug nut rules. "Until this point, we’ve never really had too much trouble," said Miller. Miller said Friday that NASCAR will continue to engage in discussions with the teams and drivers and decide whether a change needs to be made. "Since the drivers are now questioning it, it’s time for us to kind of re-evaluate our position and work with the community on looking at possibly different ways to enforce the pit-road rules," Miller said. Miller did not off a timetable for evaluating the rules. "The teams are obviously pushing harder than they ever have in this area," said Miller. "And it’s time for us to take a look at it, but we’ll do that as an industry. The open dialog is very good right now between NASCAR and the teams, so we’ll work internally and with them to move forward here."(Fox Sports)(4-22-2016)
- Richmond qualifying rained out; Harvick on pole: #4-Kevin Harvick will start from the pole for the Toyota Owners 400 Sprint Cup Series race at Richmond International Raceway after qualifying was canceled due to persistant rain at the track. The field was set according to the rule book with Friday practice determining the lineup. #22-Logano will start second, followed by #48-Johnson, #19-Edwards, #11-Hamlin, #2-Keselowski, #41-Busch, #5-Kahne, #18-Busch, and #47-Allmendinger.
41 cars were entered, #98-Whitt was the only car to not qualify. He failed to qualify by being the slowest open team during Friday practice.
See the complete starting lineup on the Richmond Starting Lineup page (pdf).(4-22-2016)
- Patrick Carpentier driving 2 races for Go Fas Racing: Go Fas Racing announces that Patrick Carpentier will pilot the #32 Can-Am, Kappa, Cyclops Ford Fusion at Sonoma Raceway in June, and at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in July. Carpentier has 40 starts in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series from 2007-2011. The Ville LaSalle, Quebec native has 2 NSCS starts at Sonoma with a best finish of 11h in 2009, and one start at Indianapolis where he finished 18th.
"Even if I say that I’m retired, I could not miss the opportunity to drive in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, especially on circuits as interesting as those of Sonoma and Indianapolis," said Patrick Carpentier. "I’m really happy to wear the colors of Can-Am, Kappa, and Cyclops Gear because I love to use their products."
"We are very happy with the choice of drivers made by our partner, Archie St.Hilaire of Go FAS Racing," said Jos- Boisjoli President and CEO of BRP. "The decision to entrust the wheel of the Can-Am/Kappa/Cyclops Gear Ford Fusion #32 to Patrick Carpentier for the races in Sonoma and Indianapolis, pleases us very much."(Go Fas Racing)(4-22-2016)
- Hamlin comments on driver council’s reaction to Stewart fine: #11-Denny Hamlin was made available to the media at Richmond International Raceway Friday afternoon.
Q: Why did the driver’s council make the statement supporting Tony Stewart’s comments?
Hamlin: "I think it kind of shows a unity amongst us. It really has nothing to do with lug nuts or no lug nuts or anything like that, it’s more so the drivers believing that they have a right to express their opinion especially when asked in an interview. We try to do our best to give honest answers and sometimes those aren’t always the best thing. I know at times I’ve been very guilty of being too honest at times or too opinionated at times and it costs you a nickel or two. We just think that there should be a little bit of leniency there for someone that knows a lot about our sport and has been in our sport a long time. He gave his opinion and especially when it’s something on safety too. I think it’s pretty important. As far as what we believe, it’s all said in the statement. Everything I’m telling you here is my opinion and my opinion only."
Q: Where is the line when it comes to comments from drivers?
Hamlin: "I don’t know where the line is, I don’t know if there is a line – obviously there is a line, but obviously we just believe that you should be able to express your opinion as long as you’re not just totally trashing the sport itself or anything like that. I think every situation is different, but we’ll just move forward from it."
Q: How has the driver’s council evolved and what is the direction of the council overall?
Hamlin: "I think that the driver’s interests and the owner’s interests is 95 percent aligned most of the time. There’s some things that we feel like we would like to see changed, sometimes it doesn’t align with what NASCAR thinks or what the teams think, but I think that this was a pretty black and white thing from a driver’s perspective to have a guy that’s coming back and is in the middle of an interview and gets asked a question and he responds to the question and gets fined for it. That to us was a moment and I think for us it just shows solidarity that we’re all in this together as the drivers and we want to have one voice because that one voice is obviously a little louder and clearer to NASCAR when we go into meetings talking about where it’s going to head from competition to safety and amongst other things. I think that its grown a lot over the last year and our communication as drivers, the barriers that we have, those have been broken down tremendously over the last year to two. Our meetings with NASCAR have changed the sport and will continue to change the sport for many years. Mostly it’s all positive, every now and then we feel like we should show solidarity to a guy whose done a lot for the sport and we still don’t want to be so politically correct all the time and have to filter our thoughts and think about it because we have sponsors on our cars or owners we have to answer to or NASCAR, sometimes you just want to say what you feel and we feel like you should be able to do that at times."
Q: How did the discussion come about to pay Tony Stewart’s fine?
Hamlin: "I think it’s more of a council thing. Obviously we chat on a daily basis about issues within our sport or things we’d like to work on or change or stay the same. When Tony (Stewart) informed us of the fine, we didn’t agree with it and no one agreed with it and we thought there was something we should do about it. This was a way for us to send a message back to NASCAR, not that we were trying to send any specific message that we just believe that we should have the right to speak our opinion. I don’t know whether everyone agrees with the opinion he had or not, but it doesn’t matter. It’s what he was asked so he answered the question. I think that was the biggest thing for us. We should have the right to speak our opinion."
Q: Have you heard from the series about the statement yet?
Hamlin: "Nothing from the series at all, but I’m sure we’ll all hear something at some point."
- Friday practice for the Toyota Owners 400 Sprint Cup Series race at Richmond International Raceway is over after 62 minutes, the top five, slowest and notes:
slowest: #32-Earnhardt 119.458 & #15-Bowyer 117.842. #46-Annett was the only driver to not complete a lap.
most laps run: #14-Stewart, 38 & #24-Elliott, 37
notes: Practice was cut short by rain.
#46-Annett spun early in the session and made contact with the inside wall on the backstretch. The team will have to go to a backup.
Qualifying is scheduled for 4:15pm/et and will be televised on FS1 and covered via radio by MRN/SiriusXM.
If qualifying is rained out, this practice session will set the field for the race. Practice speeds determine which open teams make the race, so #98-Whitt would be the DNQ if qualifying is not held.
See fastest speeds, laps run, best 10 consecutive lap ave(only 3 drivers) on the Friday Richmond Practice Speeds page (pdf).(4-22-2016)
- Qualifying Order for the Toyota Owners 400 Sprint Cup Series race at Richmond International Raceway is posted. 41 cars/drivers are listed.
The first driver to be lined up on pit road will be #83-DiBenedetto.
The final driver lined up on pit road will be #30-Wise.
The order is set by a random draw, how cars park on pit road before they qualify, held about an hour before the first practice.
After the first round, the cars line up by speed.
See the full qualifying order on Jayski.com’s Richmond Qualifying Order Page (pdf).(4-22-2016)
- Stewart says lug nut rule is a safety issue UPDATES: #14-Tony Stewart is "beyond mad" with NASCAR over the sanctioning body’s lack of lug nut enforcement on pit road, the driver/team owner said Wednesday. NASCAR stopped requiring teams to put all five lug nuts on its wheels at the start of last season, part of a new pit road technology initiative that also saw a reduction of its officiating force. With officials no longer in every pit box, NASCAR said it was up to the teams whether they should put all five lug nuts on the wheel or not. But teams have been pushing the limit by only securing as few as three lug nuts, creating an epidemic of loose wheels in the sport. And Stewart said it’s only a matter of time before that ends badly. "I guarantee you that envelope is going to keep getting pushed until somebody gets hurt," Stewart said. "You will not have heard a rant that’s going to be as bad as what’s going to come out of my mouth if a driver gets hurt because of a loose wheel that hurts one of them. With all the crap we’re going through with all the safety stuff, and for them to sit there and sit on their hands on this one … this is not a game you play with safety and that’s exactly the way I feel like NASCAR is treating this. This is not the way to do this." Stewart said NASCAR overall has done a fine job on safety – such as mandating safety changes to superspeedway cars in technical bulletins – but said "in this one particular area, they are totally dropping the ball and I feel like really made a grossly bad decision on."(USA Today)(4-21-2016)
UPDATE: NASCAR has fined Stewart-Haas Racing driver and co-owner Tony Stewart $35,000 for violations of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Rule Book, the sanctioning body announced Thursday. Stewart’s fine falls under Section 12 of the rule book, specifically member conduct guidelines. According to Section 12.8.1, actions that could result in a $10,000-$50,000 fine include disparaging the sport and/or NASCAR’s leadership, or verbal abuse of a NASCAR Official, media members, fans, etc. Stewart announced earlier Thursday that he would return to the #14 Chevrolet this weekend at Richmond after missing the first eight races due to injury.(NASCAR.com)(4-21-2016)
UPDATE 2: The Sprint Cup Drivers Council released a statement Thursday night on Tony Stewart’s punishment from NASCAR, supporting the three-time champion and announcing it would pay his $35,000 fine. The statement was released exclusively to NBC Sports through Drivers Council member Denny Hamlin. The statement reads:
"We as drivers believe Tony has the right to speak his opinion on topics that pertain to a sport that he has spent nearly two decades helping build as both a driver and an owner. While we do not condone drivers lashing out freely at NASCAR, we do feel Tony was in his rights to state his opinion. We as a Council support him and do not agree with the fine. Therefore, we fellow council members have agreed to contribute equally to paying his fine."
The Drivers Council was formed last year and meets periodically with NASCAR to discuss various issues from competition to safety. It added Brad Keselowski, Jimmie Johnson and Kyle Busch this year to a group that included returning members Hamlin, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Stewart, Kyle Larson, Kevin Harvick and Joey Logano.(NBC Sports)(4-22-2016)
- France comments on search for title sponsor: NASCAR CEO Brian France was among the professional sports commissioners who met with the Associated Press Sports Editors at meetings in New York Thursday. Asked about the status of NASCAR finding a replacement for Sprint at the Cup Series title sponsor, France stated "We’re ahead of schedule, where normally these things take longer to do." France expects [a] decision soon "There’s no playbook when it comes to a billion-dollar sports deal."(4-22-2016)
- MastiClean featured on the #95: The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series will take on Richmond International Raceway this Sunday, with driver Michael McDowell piloting the #95 WRL General Contractors Chevrolet SS for Circle Sport-Leavine Family Racing (CSLFR). As part of the NASCAR Race to Green initiative, CSLFR is highlighting their partnership with MastiClean this weekend at Richmond. MastiClean is a multi-purpose green cleaning solution that works on applications at home or on the job. The race team utilizes the multi-purpose cleaner for oils and grease, a scrubbing wipe for hand cleaning and surface prep, and a glass cleaner in the race shop everyday. MastiClean will be featured on the side quarter panels of the #95 Chevrolet during the Richmond race weekend.(Circle Sport-Leavine Family Racing)(4-22-2016)
- Duracell joins Germain as associate sponsor: Germain Racing announced that battery market leader Duracell has signed on to become an associate sponsor of the #13 GEICO Chevrolet SS and driver Casey Mears in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. Duracell will be a full-season associate sponsor and will appear on the car beginning this weekend at Richmond International Raceway. Germain Racing entered the 2016 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season with a host of sponsor commitments. Most notably was a three-year extension from primary sponsor GEICO that will see the Gecko on the hood of the #13 entry through at least the end of the 2018 season. Now, Duracell will ride along with Mears on the B-post of the GEICO Chevy and will appear on the decklid during the races where the GEICO Military livery adorns the racecar. GEICO and Duracell are both members of the Berkshire Hathaway family of companies. Duracell has a long history with the military and is looking to continue to build upon their relationship through their partnership with Germain Racing and GEICO Military. The trio will be hosting service members at the racetrack during race weekends, while also featuring the #13 GEICO Chevrolet SS showcar at various military exchange and commissary locations.(Player Management International)(4-22-2016)
- Richmond Pole Notes & Facts:
– Buck Baker won the inaugural Coors Light pole at Richmond in 1953 with a speed of 48.465 mph.
– Brad Keselowski leads all active drivers in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in average starting position at Richmond International Raceway with a 8.769.
– Nine drivers posted their first NSCS pole at Richmond International Raceway: Brian Vickers (2004), Ted Musgrave (1994), Bobby Labonte (1993), Alan Kulwicki (1987), Morgan Shepherd (1981), Bill Dennis (1971), Dave Marcis (1971), Ned Jarrett (1960), Russ Hepler (1957)
– 54 drivers have Coors Light poles at Richmond, led by Richard Petty and Bobby Allison with eight each. Denny Hamlin, Jimmie Johnson, Brian Vickers and Joey Logano are all tied for the lead among active drivers with two each.
– Eight drivers have won consecutive Coors Light poles at Richmond. Bobby Allison holds the record for most consecutive Coors Light poles at Richmond with five (1972 – 1974).
– 23 of the 119 (19.3%) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Richmond International Raceway have been won from the Coors Light pole. Only four active drivers have been able to accomplish the feat: Kasey Kahne (2005), Jimmie Johnson (2007), Kyle Busch (2010) and Brad Keselowski (2014).
– The pole starting position is the most proficient starting position in the field, producing more winners than any other starting position at Richmond (23).
– 37 of the 119 (31.1%) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Richmond have been won from the front row: 23 from the pole and 14 from second-place.
– 93 of the 119 (78.1%) NASCAR Sprint Cup races at Richmond International Raceway have been won from a top-10 starting position.
– 13 of the 119 (10.9%) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Richmond International Raceway have been won from a starting position outside the top 20.
– The deepest in the field that a race winner has started at Richmond International Raceway is 31st, by Clint Bowyer in the spring of 2008.
– Qualifying has been cancelled due to weather conditions in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Richmond International Raceway seven times; most recently the fall of 2014.
- XFINITY qualifying canceled at Richmond: Rain washed out both Friday practices for XFINITY Series teams, so NASCAR canceled Saturday’s qualifying session for the ToyotaCare 250 at Richmond International Raceway. Teams will now practice from 9:00-9:50am/et. Both heat races and the main event will run as scheduled.
The field for the two heat races was set by the rule book.
Top 5 starters in the first heat race: #18-Matt Tifft, #88-Dale Earnhardt, Jr., #20-Erik Jones, #1-Elliott Sadler, and #33-Brandon Jones.
Top 5 starters in the second heat race: #2-Austin Dillon, #19-Daniel Suarez, #7-Justin Allgaier, #22-Brad Keselowski, and #3-Ty Dillon.
Result of the heat races will determine the lineup for the 140 lap main event.
Did Not Qualify: None, the #10-DiBenedetto team withdrew so only 40 cars were entered.
See the Heat 1 starting lineup (pdf) and Heat 2 starting lineup (pdf) and .(4-22-2016)
- JR Motorsports and Unilever Extend Partnership: JR Motorsports and Unilever, a team partner since 2009 and one of the world’s leading suppliers of Food, Refreshments, Home and Personal Care products, announced an extension that sees Dale Earnhardt Jr. continue as a brand ambassador for the company through 2018. As part of the agreement, JR Motorsports, the race team co-owned by Earnhardt Jr., will carry Unilever sponsorship on its NASCAR Xfinity Series entries for 20 races in 2017-18. Unilever already stands as JRM’s longest-tenured sponsor, with the 2018 extension taking the pair into their 10th year of partnership in NXS competition. Unilever brands including Hellmann’s, Suave, Degree, and Breyers, will be featured as primary sponsors in 10 NXS races in 2017 and 10 NXS events in 2018. Earnhardt Jr. will drive a Unilever-branded Chevrolet for one event in each of those two seasons. Additionally, Unilever will be a presenting sponsor of a Dirty Mo Radio podcast in 2017. More details on the specific races, driving duties and car numbers surrounding the Unilever extension will be announced at a later date.(JR Motorsports)(4-22-2016)
- Honorary Starter, Grand Marshal announced for Talladega: Talladega Superspeedway announcedthe Grand Marshal and Honorary Starter for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series GEICO 500 on Sunday, May 1.
Master Sergeant Larry D. Nix, Maxwell Air Force Base, AL, will serve as the Grand Marshal and give the most famous words in motorsports, "Drivers, Start Your Engines," bookending pre-race ceremonies at the 2.66-mile superspeedway. Bringing 40 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers to the green flag as Honorary Starter will be Aerospace Medical Services Technician Senior Airman Maxime V. Copley, also from the Maxwell Air Force Base.
MSgt Nix is currently responsible for the training of 1,700 students annually that are commissioned in the Chaplain, Healthcare and JAG Corps. MSgt Nix enlisted in the United States Air Force in 1998. In addition to being awarded the Bronze Star, MSgt Nix has acquired numerous prestigious decorations and awards including: Joint Service Commendation Medal, Air Force Commendation Medal with One Silver Leaf Cluster, Army Commendation Medal and Air Force Achievement Medal with Three Oak Leaf Clusters.
SrA Copley is currently assigned to 42d Medical Operations Squadron and performs a wide range of medical roles. She provides essential care in assisting 5 providers who care for patients in various situations such as immunizations and Pediatric screenings. SrA Copley was awarded the Hard Charger Award, 42d MDOS in 2015. Her other achievements include: 2015 Airman of the Second Quarter, 42d MDOS, 2015 Airman of the Year Award, 42d Air Base Wing and 2015 Airman of the Year, Team Maxwell.(TSS)(4-22-2016)
- Homestead tickets on sale May 4: Last year, the sold-out crowd on hand for the Ford EcoBoost 400 witnessed one of the greatest comebacks in sports history when Kyle Busch earned the first Sprint Cup Series title of his career. This year, Ford Championship Weekend returns to Homestead-Miami Speedway, November 18-20, to once again make its mark on history as NASCAR crowns champions in the Sprint Cup Series, XFINITY Series and Camping World Truck Series. Tickets for the three-day championship event will go on sale to the public starting on Wednesday, May 4. For the first time in Homestead-Miami Speedway history, four drivers will be vying for a championship on Friday in the Ford EcoBoost 200, Saturday in the Ford EcoBoost 300 and Sunday in the Ford EcoBoost 400. With the prominent success of NASCAR’s refurbished playoff format in the Sprint Cup Series, which was instituted in 2014, the XFINITY and Camping World Truck Series have adopted similar Chase formats starting this year, which will also feature four drivers competing for a championship amongst a full field in each series. Ford Championship Weekend will commence on Friday, November 18 at 8:00pm with the Camping World Truck Series championship race, the Ford EcoBoost 200. Then on Saturday, November 19 at 3:30pm, the XFINITY Series will hold its championship finale, the Ford EcoBoost 300.(Homestead-Miami Speedway)(4-23-2016)