Monday, May 25, 2015

Denny Hamlin: 'I was borderline throwing up trying to race for the lead'

   It was quite an eventful final 150 miles or so for driver Denny Hamlin in Sunday night's Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. He went from contending to the win to debating whether he should get out of his No. 11 Toyota. Oh, and he had to pit under green for a loose wheel as well.

   Hamlin ended up finishing eighth as several drivers - including his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate and race winner, Carl Edwards - stretched their fuel without making a final pit stop.

   Hamlin almost immediately was whisked away on a golf cart and taken to the track's infield care center. When he emerged, he was feeling much better and even stopped by Edwards' winner's press conference to congratulate him.

   “It’s tough, I was borderline throwing up trying to race for the lead. You just try to power through it and of course when you run well, you always feel a little bit better, but when the race is over and everything comes to a stop you realize how bad you feel," Hamlin said. "I'm a lot better now with fluids and everything. It was directly related to hydration.

   "I knew when my knee was sore afterwards that it was probably fluids. My off-day was 36 holes of golf and a full tennis match. Probably over did it a little bit this weekend. I think the dehydration led to a migraine and just felt nauseous the last 100 laps or so. Thank goodness, that didn’t cost us the win."

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Panthers' Thomas Davis: 'I'm definitely becoming a big race fan'

  
   Carolina Panthers outside linebacker, Thomas Davis, was the honorary pace car driver for Sunday's Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Before beginning his "official" duties, Davis and his family got a behind-the-scenes look at NASCAR on Sunday afternoon.

   "I got my kids out here with me now in the infield taking this all in and enjoying the experience. I am definitely becoming a big race fan. This is truly awesome," said Davis, who was named the NFL’s Walter Payton Man of the Year this season.


   "Driving the pace car is going to be the game day adrenaline, I’m sure. I am extremely honored to be the pace car driver for tonight’s race. I am just going to go out there and have fun with it and get it done.”  


   Following his appearance Sunday at the infield media center, Davis met Taya Kyle, wife of famed U.S. Navy SEAL Chris Kyle (upon whom the movie “American Sniper” is based). 

   Kyle was signing autographs for media and took a few minutes to meet Davis. The two exchanged stories, and autographs, before going their separate ways for additional appearances.

Carolina Panthers linebacker Thomas Davis, right, smiles at NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Dale Earnhardt Jr., left, as they prepare to get into a race car and take laps around the track at Charlotte Motor Speedway  on Tuesday, May 19, 2015. Davis went through pace car certification to prepare for his duties as honorary pace car driver for the May 24 Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Afterward, Earnhardt Jr. drove Davis to give him some hot laps in a No. 88 Nationwide Chevrolet. (David T. Foster III, dtfoster@charlotteobserver.com)

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Kyle Busch on fatherhood: 'It's a whole new world'

   Sprint Cup Series driver Kyle Busch made his first appearance at the track Thursday since he and his wife, Samantha, welcomed their first child earlier this week. Brexton Busch weighed 7 pounds and 10 ounces and is 21 inches long.

   Kyle was asked if there was a "new" Kyle Busch now that his son had arrived.

   “I don’t know that I’m different, but it’s a whole new world right now for sure. It’s an entirely different feeling. You wonder where the time goes already. I was trying to get ready this morning and Samantha was trying to get ready – she had to take him for an appointment and some other stuff and I’m trying to help out and all of the sudden it’s time for me to leave to come out here to the race track and I’m like, ‘Holy smokes, I have to get ready, I have to hurry up.’ That was different," he said. 

   "It's way different than what it was before he was born. Obviously, Samantha was taking care of him. She had him in her so just taking care of him that way and carrying him around. I didn’t have to worry about anything. I didn’t have to feed him, I didn’t have to change him or nothing like that, but it’s a whole different world now that he’s here with having to take care of him so we both have to spread our time. Obviously, when his favorite thing to do is make stinky diapers, then you’ve certainly got your work cut out for you.”

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Statement from Bruton Smith about being named to NASCAR Hall of Fame

O. Bruton Smith, Motorsports, Inc. executive chairman

   “When I found out that I was nominated, I realized how much this meant to my family and the 15,000 employees that work for my companies.  Now I realize how much it means to me.  It will truly be an honor to be remembered at the Hall of Fame along with people like Dale Earnhardt, Richard Petty, Glen Wood, Junior Johnson, Darrell Waltrip and so many others who helped build this sport. That’s what I’ve tried to do my entire life.  I’m a frustrated builder who had a knack for promoting races, and it’s been fun to always try to push the sport to greater heights for the fans. From the first World 600, I’ve always wanted the fans to leave with something spectacular to remember about their experience.  Even if they don’t remember who won the race, I want them to remember the pre-race show and having the time of their lives. I want fans to know we’re always working to build the best facilities for them and that’s who I really owe this recognition to. The millions of fans who’ve attended our race tracks all of these years are the ones who really deserve to be in the Hall of Fame. They’ve built the sport right along with us, and I want to sincerely say thank you to them and the voting committee.”

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Brandon McReynolds earns his first NASCAR victory


  Brandon McReynolds got his first victory in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West on Saturday night with a major win in the East –West combination race at Iowa Speedway.

   McReynolds, making his 20th series start, took the lead eight laps from the finish and held on following a two-lap overtime to take the victory in the Casey’s General Store 150.

   “I knew that whoever could get a good jump on the last restart was probably going to come out with the victory,” said McReynolds, the son of NASCAR Fox TV analyst and former crew chief, Larry McReynolds. "It was pretty much hammer down there at the end."

   Scoring his first career series win in such a big event is a major boost of confidence, according to McReynolds, who will celebrate his 24th birthday on Thursday. 

   The East-West combination race will be televised on NBC Sports Network on May 21.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

NASCAR upgrades safety rules for pit crew members

   In what appears to be in response to a rash of fuel-related fires on pit road during some recent races, NASCAR on Wednesday issued an email to all pit crew members outlining some new safety requirements which will take effect the first week of June.

   In the email, a copy of which was obtained by The Observer, NASCAR notes that some items which have been recommended for pit crew members will soon become mandatory.

   All pit crew members, whether they fuel the car or not, will be required to wear fire retardant protective gloves, underwear (from the neck to the ankles), head socks (which cover the nose and mouth) and socks.

   The underwear, head socks and socks were only recommended for pit crew members who did not actually work with fueling the car. The email noted the rules should go into effect on June 4 and a technical bulletin would likely be issued before then.

   In one of the recent most series incidents, three pit crew members were injured in the April 24 Xfinity Series race at Richmond, Va. A malfunction in the fueling head, which seals the fuel can to the car, caused fuel to spill during a pit stop for driver Brendan Gaughan. Sparks from the car's lug nuts ignited the fuel into a spectacular fire.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Brett Moffitt began 2015 season with one race, now has fulltime Sprint Cup ride


   Brett Moffitt entered the 2015 NASCAR season with one planned race - to drive Michael Waltrip Racing's No. 55 Toyota in the Sprint Cup Series race at Atlanta.

   Now, he has a fulltime ride for the remainder of the season.

   On Wednesday, Front Row Motorsports announced Moffitt would compete with its No. 34 Ford team for the rest of the year. He will remain under contract with MWR for the time being, however. 

   "We're glad to be able to move forward knowing who is going to be in the car on a consistent basis," said team owner Bob Jenkins. "Brett's already got some great experience under his belt, and I think having the same driver-crew chief team working together regularly will bring some stability to our No. 34 team and help Brett with his development as well."

   The team's former driver, David Ragan, has since moved to MWR to fill in for Brian Vickers for the remainder of the season. 

   "The most important thing for me at this point of my career is seat time, going to some of
these tracks that are new to me, and racing around 42 other drivers in race conditions," Moffitt, 22, said. "And the more time I spend in the No. 34 car and with this team, the more competitive we'll get. And I think that consistency will lead to some good finishes."