- Penske fines and points penalties upheld; suspensions reduced UPDATE: According to media at the NASCAR Research & Development Center, Chief Appeallate Officer John Middlebrook has upheld the fines and penalties to the Penske Racing #2 & #22 teams, but has reduced the suspensions from 6 races to 2 races (plus the All-Star race) for the crew chiefs, car chiefs, and team engineers on both teams, as well as #2 team manager Travis Geisler. See complete information on the original penalties on the NASCAR Penalties, Fines & Suspensions page. (5-7-2013)
UPDATE: Penske Racing won a partial victory Tuesday in its final appeal to have penalties against the Sprint Cup teams of Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano overturned or reduced. NASCAR chief appellate officer John Middlebrook upheld all the fines and point penalties, but he reduced the suspensions of seven crew members from six races to two races. The crew members still will be suspended for the May 18 All-Star race. A week ago, the National Stock Car Racing panel unanimously upheld NASCAR’s penalties, sending the final decision to Middlebrook. As a result, the 25-point deductions for Keselowski and Logano in the driver and owner standings stand. So do the $100,000 fines for crew chiefs Paul Wolfe and Todd Gordon. But the suspensions for Wolfe, Gordon, chiefs Jerry Kelley and Raymond Fox, engineers Brian Wilson and Samuel Stanley and competition director Travis Geisler were reduced by four, which team owner Roger Penske considered a victory. The suspensions will begin this weekend at Darlington Raceway and include the May 26 Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Those suspended will return for the June 2 race at Dover.(ESPN.com)(5-7-2013)
UPDATE 2: On May 7, 2013 the Chief Appellate Officer heard and considered the appeal of the penalties from the #2 and #22 Penske Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series teams. These penalties stemmed from pre-race inspection for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Texas Motor Speedway April 13. The penalties concern Sections 12-1: Actions detrimental to stock car racing; 12-4J: Any determination by NASCAR Officials that race equipment used in the event does not conform to the NASCAR rules detailed in Section 20 of the NASCAR rule book, or has not been approved by NASCAR prior to the event; and 20-12: All suspension systems and components must be approved by NASCAR. Prior to being used in competition, all suspension systems and components must be submitted in a completed form/assembly to the office of the NASCAR competition administrator for consideration of approval and approved by NASCAR. Each such part may thereafter be used until NASCAR determines that such part is no longer eligible. All suspension fasteners and mounting hardware must be made of solid magnetic steel. All front end and rear end suspension mounts with mounting hardware assembled must have single round mounting holes that are the correct size for the fastener being used. All front end and rear end suspension mounts and mounting hardware must not allow movement or realignment of any suspension component beyond component normal rotation or suspension travel.
The results of the Chief Appellate Officer hearing were:
– Upholding the fines and points penalties that were originally assessed.
– Reducing the suspensions of the seven team members from six NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship points events (plus the non-points NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race) to two NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship points events (plus the non-points NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race).
The seven team members in question will be suspended for the next three upcoming NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race weekends at Darlington Speedway and Charlotte Motor Speedway. They will return for the race weekend at Dover International Speedway. They remain on NASCAR probation until Dec. 31.
"After looking at all the facts and data and interpretations from the rule book, I have decided to uphold the original fines and points penalties," said John Middlebrook, Chief Appellate Officer. "However, I have decided to reduce the suspensions of the seven team members involved from six points races and the all-star race to two points races and the all-star race."(NASCAR)(5-7-2013)
- Phoenix Racing to exit NASCAR: Unable to find a long-term sponsor for his #51 Sprint Cup team, James Finch is eyeballing an exit from racing all together. "I’m contemplating finishing up this year, and I don’t know if I want a sponsor," Finch said Monday. "Sunday was my 776th start in NASCAR between the Nationwide and Sprint Cup. That’s a lot of weekends. I’m considering pulling the plug later in the summer." Finch, 62, said Phoenix Racing will not enter any races after the Brickyard 400 scheduled for July 28 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. He said he intends to wrap up team operations before the Chase for the Cup begins in September. "I have not been able to get the right amount of funding, the economy is pretty bad, and a lot of people don’t want to do it," Finch said of his team’s fruitless search for a permanent sponsor. "I’m getting kind of burned out. I think it is time for me to do something else." Finch’s decision comes in the midst of one of his most successful seasons as an owner. Finch currently is tied for 13th in NASCAR’s owner points standings with 276 points, just a handful of points outside the Top 10. Phoenix Racing enjoyed a fourth-place finish with Kurt Busch behind the wheel for the Nationwide race at Talladega this past weekend, and Regan Smith steered the team’s #51 car to a sixth-place finish in Sunday’s Aaron’s 499. The team’s success, which includes a pair of Top-10 finishes and five Top-15 results, did not appear to help the team find a full-time sponsor, however. The team has found sponsors for individual or small blocks of races, but the lack of a permanent sponsor has forced Finch to cover his team’s considerable costs on his own. "I don’t want to lose everything I’ve got trying to outrun people," Finch said. "I can’t do that. It’s time to do something else and go from there. I’ve still got some cars I haven’t torn up. And I don’t want to build any new ones." Finch said he will help his 18 employees find work with other racing teams if they want to remain in the sport.(News Herald)(5-7-2013)
- Jeff Gordon to make 700th career start…all consecutive: It may not be tame or the same, but respect is what #24-Jeff Gordon will give Darlington Raceway as he prepares for his 700th career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series start this Saturday night in the Bojangles’ Southern 500. Darlington Raceway has earned a few monikers since it opened in 1950. "The Track Too Tough to Tame" and "The Lady In Black" are two of those, and drivers tend to use the term "respect" when describing how they attack the 1.366-mile South Carolina track. A new element – the Generation-6 car – will be added to the mix this weekend, but a winning recipe will still include respect. Saturday’s race marks Gordon’s 700th start – all consecutively – in NASCAR’s premier series. The four-time NASCAR Cup Series champion comprehends the milestone, but does not focus on it. "I’ve been fortunate to race this long and have the type of career I’ve had," said Gordon. "It’s really cool to see that this will be my 700th start, but it’s not something I really paid attention to. It’s hard to believe I’ve run that many – especially consecutively."(Performance PR Plus)(5-7-2013)
- Newman’s comments after Talladega under review by NASCAR: NASCAR will likely review comments made by Stewart-Haas Racing driver #39-Ryan Newman following a Lap 183 crash in Sunday’s rain-marred Sprint Cup race at Talladega Superspeedway. Any potential fine that could come from the comments likely would be made on Tuesday or Wednesday, per NASCAR’s history. Earlier, it was reported that NASCAR would definitely review his comments, but a spokesperson clarified that there are a variety of things that will be reviewed over the course of a race weekend. Newman finished 32nd after the crash in which Kurt Busch’s #78 car barrel-rolled and landed upside down on the hood of the #39 car Newman had in position for a top-10 finish or win with five laps left in regulation as darkness approached. NASCAR fined #11-Denny Hamlin $25,000 earlier this year for perceived negative comments about the new "Gen 6" car and the quality of racing at Phoenix International Raceway.(ESPN)(5-7-2013)
- Kurt Busch, Trevor Bayne to test at MIS on May 14-15: NASCAR’s new Gen-6 Car has drawn rave reviews from drivers and fans alike after the first 10 races in 2013. On May 14-15, the car will make its debut at Michigan International Speedway when two teams conduct a test. And fans are invited to watch free of charge. Speedway officials will open the Turn One grandstands from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm. May 14 and May 15 to watch testing. So far, #78-Kurt Busch and #21-Trevor Bayne are the only drivers schedule to test those days. "It will be exciting to finally see the Gen 6 Car at Michigan International Speedway," track President Roger Curtis said. "We became NASCAR’s fastest track in 2012 during the Quicken Loans 400. So far in 2013, the new cars have been posting record qualifying speeds so it will be fun to see how fast they go here."
Last year, Marcos Ambrose posted a track qualifying mark of 203.241 mph for the Quicken Loans 400. That speed was the 11th-fastest pole-winning speed in NASCAR Sprint Cup Series history and the first time the pole winning speed was faster than 200 mph at a track other than Talladega Superspeedway and Daytona International Speedway. Dale Earnhardt, Jr. pulled into victory lane for his first win since June of 2008, also at MIS. Testing times, track schedule and drivers are subject to change due to weather or other circumstances. Fans are asked to park in Lot 10 off US 12 and enter the grandstands through Gate 17, just behind the water tower. The restroom facilities will be open. Fans are also allowed to bring in coolers that meet the MIS grandstand gate policies for any race weekend. MIS is once again host to a pair of NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races in 2013. The top series comes to the Irish Hills for the Quicken Loans 400 on Sunday, June 16 and returns just two short months later for the Pure Michigan 400 on Sunday, August 18. Tickets are on sale at MISpeedway.com or by phone at 800-354-1010.(MIS)(5-7-2013)
- Overnight TV Ratings Talladega: A NASCAR overrun powered Fox to a victory Sunday. The network averaged 5.8 million viewers and a 2.1 in the adults 18-to-49 demographic after NASCAR delayed prime time by 25 minutes. The rating was 2.3 with 7.6 million viewers.(TV Guide)
AND Even with rain delaying the finish into primetime, overnights for Sunday’s Sprint Cup race from Talladega were the lowest since FOX began televising the race in 2001. The NASCAR Sprint Cup Aaron’s 499 from Talladega earned a 4.4 overnight rating on FOX Sunday, down 6% from last year (4.7), and down 4% from 2011 (4.6). The 4.4 overnight is the lowest for the race since it moved to FOX in 2001. Sunday’s overnight only includes race action from 1:15-3:15 PM ET and 7:00-8:15 PM. Rain-delay coverage was excluded. Overall, the 4.4 overnight is tied as the fourth-highest of the season for the NASCAR Sprint Cup series, trailing only Fontana, Phoenix (5.3) and Daytona (10.0). NASCAR earned the third-largest overnight of the weekend for a sporting event on broadcast, trailing only a Pacers/Knicks NBA playoff game on ABC (4.9) and the Kentucky Derby on NBC (10.4).(Sports Media Watch/Sports Business Daily)(5-7-2013)
- Top 12 Driver Rating at Darlington:
#24-Jeff Gordon………………………… 111.8
#16-Greg Biffle………………………….. 110.5
#11-Denny Hamlin………………………. 109.5
#48-Jimmie Johnson…………………… 105.7
#18-Kyle Busch…………………………. 102.3
#5-Kasey Kahne………………………… 98.3
#39-Ryan Newman……………………….. 97.6
#56-Martin Truex Jr………………………. 95.2
#99-Carl Edwards………………………… 93.9
#88-Dale Earnhardt Jr…………………… 90.4
#14-Tony Stewart…………………………. 90.0
#20-Matt Kenseth………………………… 86.5
Note: Driver Ratings compiled from 2005-2012 races (8 total) among active drivers at Darlington Raceway
Formula combining the following categories: Wins, Finishes, Top-15 Finishes, Average Running Position While on Lead Lap, Average Speed Under Green, Fastest Lap, Led Most Laps, Lead-Lap Finish. Maximum: 150 points per race.(5-7-2013)
- Facts, Notes and Stats – Darlington Raceway:
· Darlington Raceway was built as a 1.25-mile paved superspeedway in 1949-1950.
· Darlington Raceway hosted the first 500-mile race in NASCAR history and the first on asphalt on Sept. 4, 1950 – won by Johnny Mantz.
· The track was re-measured to 1.375 miles in 1953.
· The track was re-configured to 1.366 miles following the spring race in 1970.
· The track was repaved in 1995.
· The 2005 race was the first Saturday night race at Darlington.
· The track was repaved again prior to the 2008 season.
· There have been 109 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Darlington Raceway. The 1.366-mile track has hosted the fourth most NASCAR Sprint Cup points paying races.
· 700 drivers have competed in at least one NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Darlington Raceway; 423 in more than one.
· NASCAR Hall of Famer Richard Petty leads the series in starts at Darlington with 65. Terry Labonte leads all active drivers with 54 starts; followed by Mark Martin with 46.
· Curtis Turner won the inaugural Coors Light pole at Darlington in 1950 with a speed of 82.034 mph.
· 47 drivers have Coors Light poles at Darlington, led by David Pearson with 12. Kasey Kahne leads all active drivers with four.
· Nine drivers have won consecutive Coors Light poles at Darlington. David Pearson holds the record for most consecutive poles at Darlington with five (1975 -1977).
· 45 different drivers have won at Darlington Raceway, led by David Pearson with 10. Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers with seven.
· Hendrick Motorsports has the most wins at Darlington in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series with 14.
· 11 different manufacturers have won in the NSCS at Darlington; led by Chevrolet with 40 victories; followed by Ford with 28.
· 19 of the 109 (17.4%) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Darlington have been won from the Coors Light pole; the most recent was Dale Jarrett in 1997.
· The pole starting position is the most proficient starting position in the field, producing more winners (19) than any other starting position at Darlington. The outside front row (second-place) has produced the second most wins (17).
· 36 of the 109 (33.0%) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Darlington have been won from the front row: 19 from the pole and 17 from second-place.
· 94 of the 109 (86.2%) NASCAR Sprint Cup races at Darlington have been won from a top-10 starting position.
· Six of the 109 (5.6%) NASCAR Sprint Cup races at Darlington have been won from a starting position outside the top 20.
· The deepest in the field that a race winner has started at Darlington was 43rd by Johnny Mantz in 1950 – the inaugural NSCS event. The furthest back an active winner has started was 23rd by Regan Smith (2011).
· Buddy Baker and Richard Petty are tied for the series most runner-up finishes at Darlington with eight each. Mark Martin leads all active drivers in second-place finishes at Darlington with six; followed by Jeff Gordon with four.
· Richard Petty leads the series in top-five finishes at Darlington with 25. Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers with 18.
· Bill Elliott leads the series in top-10 finishes at Darlington with 35. Mark Martin leads all active drivers with 26.
· Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in average starting position at Darlington with a 6.719.
· Denny Hamlin leads all active drivers in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in average finishing position at Darlington with a 5.857.
· Three active NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers have an average finish in the top 10 at Darlington: Denny Hamlin (5.8), Jimmie Johnson (9.1) and Brad Keselowski (9.2).
· 13 drivers in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series have posted consecutive wins at Darlington; Dale Earnhardt (1989-1990) and Jeff Gordon (1995-1996) are tied for the series lead in consecutive wins at Darlington with three each.
· All 10 active NASCAR Sprint Cup Series winners at Darlington Raceway participated in at least two or more races before visiting Victory Lane. Among active drivers, Kyle Busch won at Darlington in the fewest previous appearances (three).
· Mark Martin competed at Darlington Raceway 15 times before winning in 2009; the longest span of any of the 10 active NASCAR Sprint Cup Series winners.
· Among the 10 active NSCS Darlington winners Mark Martin (15), Bobby Labonte (14) and Jeff Burton (10) all made 10 or more attempts before their first win.
· Since the advent of electronic scoring the closest margin of victory in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Darlington Raceway was the (3/16/2003) race won by Ricky Craven with a MOV of 0.002 second – the MOV is tied with the 2011 Talladega race as the closest finishes in the NSCS using electronic scoring.
· There have been three NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races resulting with a green-white-checkered finish at Darlington Raceway: 2005 (367/370), 2011 (367/370) and 2012 (367/368).
· Eight of the 109 races at Darlington Raceway have been shortened due to weather conditions; the most recent was the fall race of 2000.
· Qualifying has been cancelled due to weather conditions in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Darlington Raceway five times; most recently was the fall race of 2004.
· Kurt Busch (9/2/2001) and Clint Bowyer (5/13/2007) posted their first NASCAR Sprint Cup Coors Light poles at Darlington.
· Regan Smith (5/7/2011) and Terry Labonte (9/1/1980) posted their first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series wins at Darlington.
· Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in laps led at Darlington with 1,720 laps led in 32 starts.
· Three female drivers have competed at Darlington Raceway in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series –
o Janet Guthrie – (9/5/1977) – starting 26th and finishing 16th
o Shawna Robinson – (3/17/2002) – starting 42nd and finishing 42nd
o Danica Patrick – (5/12/2012) – starting 38th and finishing 31st (NASCAR)(5-7-2013)
- Sad News – Frederick Hmiel: Frederick J. Hmiel, 87, of Colonie, NY, passed away on Friday, May 3, 2013 at the Hospice Inn at St. Peter’s Hospital surrounded by his loving family. He was a World War II Navy veteran serving on the USS Midway. Frederick was the father of longtime NASCAR crew chief Steve Hmeil and grandfather to former NASCAR driver Shane. More info on my Sad News page.(5-7-2013)
- Allgaier has new sponsors on #31 at Darlington: This week the #31 Turner Scott Motorsports Chevy Camaro welcomes aboard Wolf Pack Energy Services and AccuDoc Solutions. Wolf Pack Energy Services is a diversified company supplying a wide range of products and services to the oil and gas industry – from top-quality wellsite accommodations to oil and gas industry rental equipment and pipe storage, inspection, threading and refurbishing. AccuDoc Solutions is based in Morrisville, NC and provides billing-statement printing and processing to hospitals and hospital-based physicians. In addition to paper-based billing statements, ADS enables patients to choose electronic statement delivery and make payments through secure online payment portals.(Turner Scott Motorsports)(5-7-2013)
- Wallace running Eldora: Add veteran Kenny Wallace to the list of names planning to enter the lone Camping World Truck Series race on dirt this summer. Wallace said in an interview his plans for the season include eight Nationwide Series race and one Truck Series race, the Inaugural Mudsummer Classic, at Eldora Speedway on July 24. Wallace explained, "The dirt racing experience doesn’t really help me in the Nationwide Series races. I’m running about eight Nationwide races this year and one Truck race (on dirt at Eldora), and to me dirt racing is like restarting your career. I should’ve done dirt racing in the beginning of my career. I just love it because it’s really fun." (Rant Sports)(5-7-2013)
- Gresham adds primary for two races: Eddie Sharp Racing announced a new partnership today at the National Hardware Show in Las Vegas with NLKUSLLC that will showcase Trimmer Assist on the #8 Chevy for Max Gresham in two Camping World Truck Series races. The agreement will feature Trimmer Assist, a revolutionary new string trimmer and blower suspension system, and will be the first venture into NASCAR sponsorship for the Georgia-based company. Gresham will kick off the partnership by competing in the May 17 North Carolina Education Lottery 200 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Later, Trimmer Assist will adorn the #8 Chevy as the primary sponsor with a full paint scheme at Dover Speedway on May 31. (Eddie Sharp Racing PR)(5-7-2013)