Thursday, January 29, 2015

Statement by IndyCar Series on cancellation of its 2015 season opener in Brazil


   INDIANAPOLIS - Today's announcement by BAND that the March 8 INDYCAR race in Brasília was cancelled was both unexpected and disappointing. INDYCAR had received every indication that the race was already a success: Two-thirds of the seats available for the event had already been sold; a title sponsor for the event (ITAIPAVA) was announced yesterday; hospitality was sold out; and track construction was progressing and scheduled to be complete in time for the event. 
   Although we have not received formal confirmation from our partners in Brazil regarding the cancellation, economically INDYCAR is protected and the paddock is protected from such action.

Chase Elliott to take over Jeff Gordon's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series ride beginning in 2016

Team release

   CONCORD - Chase Elliott, who became the youngest national series champion in NASCAR history last season, will join Hendrick Motorsports as a full-time Sprint Cup driver beginning in 2016. Elliott’s No. 24 Chevrolet SS team will be led by crew chief Alan Gustafson, who has earned 19 wins, 18 pole positions, 98 top-five finishes and 165 top-10s at the elite Cup level.

   “Chase brings the kind of intangibles that make him the total package as a driver,” said Hendrick Motorsports owner Rick Hendrick, who announced the news this morning during the team’s season kickoff employee event. “Not only is he a special talent inside the race car, but there’s a natural combination of competitiveness, work ethic and smarts that you rarely see. Chase’s personality and demeanor make him popular with fans, teammates and sponsors. He’s a great fit for our organization on many levels, and we feel he and Alan will be a successful combination. There’s a lot to be excited about.”

   In preparation for 2016, Elliott, 19, will make his Sprint Cup debut later this year as part of a five-race schedule with primary sponsorship from NAPA AUTO PARTS. The Dawsonville, Georgia, native will be paired with veteran crew chief Kenny Francis during the limited campaign.

   Driving the No. 25 NAPA AUTO PARTS Chevrolet SS fielded by Hendrick Motorsports, Elliott will be entered in 2015 Cup events March 29 at Martinsville Speedway, April 25 at Richmond International Raceway, May 24 at Charlotte Motor Speedway, July 26 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Sept. 6 at Darlington Raceway.

   “Chase has been a fantastic ambassador for NAPA,” said Gaylord Spencer, senior vice president of marketing for NAPA AUTO PARTS, which also is primary sponsor of Elliott’s JR Motorsports team in the NASCAR XFINITY Series. “As he embarks on this important next step in his career, we’re proud to support him across both series in 2015 and look forward to an exciting year on and off the track. The NAPA Family is behind Chase 100 percent.”

   At the age of 18 years, 11 months and 18 days, Elliott became the youngest champion in any NASCAR national touring series when he won the 2014 XFINITY Series title. The first racer in NASCAR history to win a championship and rookie of the year honors in the same season, he also was voted by fans as the series’ most popular driver.

   Elliott’s 2014 season included three wins, two pole positions and 26 top-10 finishes in 33 races. His first victory (Texas Motor Speedway) came in his sixth career series start and made him the second-youngest winner in XFINITY Series history (behind Joey Logano). He completed 99.6 percent of the 6,063 total laps run and became the first driver since 2010 to clinch the championship before the season finale.

   Elliott and father Bill are only the fifth father-son duo to win NASCAR national series championships. They are members of an elite group that includes Lee and Richard Petty, Ned and Dale Jarrett, David and Larry Pearson, and Dale Earnhardt Sr. and Dale Earnhardt Jr. Bill Elliott, the 1988 Sprint Cup Series champion, will be enshrined into the NASCAR Hall of Fame tomorrow evening.

   “So many people have been behind me, and the first thing I want to do is thank them,” said Chase Elliott, who will run the full 2015 XFINITY Series schedule as the defending champion. “My parents especially have believed in me every step of the way, and I know this wouldn’t be possible without all the sacrifices they’ve made to focus on my racing career. This is such a big week for our family.

   “I’m also extremely grateful to Mr. Hendrick and my teammates at both Hendrick Motorsports and JR Motorsports for believing in me. NAPA has been a huge supporter, and I’m honored to represent them on and off the track. Of course the fans have been amazing to me, and I’m so appreciative of that. I know how rare this opportunity is and will work as hard as I can to make everyone proud.”

   Hendrick Motorsports will announce sponsorship for Elliott’s 2016 Sprint Cup season at a later date.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

GoDaddy pulls Super Bowl ad featuring puppies and NASCAR driver Danica Patrick

   After an outcry from animal rescue activists,, a privately held internet domain registrar and web hosting company, decided Tuesday night to pull its planned Super Bowl commercial which features puppies and NASCAR driver Danica Patrick. 

   The company sponsors Patrick's No. 10 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet in the Sprint Cup Series. 

   The ad, which debuted Tuesday on the "Today" show, is entitled "Lost Dog" and shows a puppy that falls out of a truck and then eventually finds its way back home. Upon arrival the puppy discovers its owner used GoDaddy to set up a Web site to sell the dog to a new owner. Patrick drives the van which carries the puppy to its new owner. 

   The company released the following statement on Tuesday night: 

   "This morning we previewed GoDaddy’s Super Bowl spot on a popular talk show, and shortly after a controversy started to swirl about 'Buddy,' our puppy, being sold online. The responses were emotional and direct. Many people urged us not to run the ad.

   "We’ve made a tremendous amount of progress over the past two years, advancing the GoDaddy brand as a company that cares a great deal about small business and is in their corner to help them succeed. People increasingly know who we are, what we do and who we do it for.  At the end of the day, our purpose at GoDaddy is to help small businesses around the world build a successful online presence. We hoped our ad would increase awareness of that cause. However, we underestimated the emotional response. And we heard that loud and clear. 

   "The net result? We are pulling the ad from the Super Bowl. You’ll still see us in the Big Game this year, and we hope it makes you laugh. Finally, rest assured, Buddy came to us from a reputable and loving breeder in California. He’s now part of the GoDaddy family as our Chief Companion Officer and he lives permanently with one of our longtime employees."

   The original ad has since been removed from YouTube.

   A petition started on asking GoDaddy to pull the ad received over 42,000 signatures before the company made its decision Tuesday night.

Start times for all 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races

2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series schedule and race start times

Feb. 14 – Sprint Unlimited at Daytona, 8 p.m. ET (Fox)
Feb. 19 – Budweiser Duel at Daytona, 7 p.m. ET (Fox Sports 1)
Feb. 22 – Daytona 500, 1 p.m. ET (Fox)
Mar. 1 – QuikTrip Folds of Honor 500, Atlanta, 1 p.m. ET (Fox)
Mar. 8 – Kobalt 400, Las Vegas, 3:30 p.m. ET (Fox)
Mar. 15 – 500, Phoenix, 3:30 p.m. ET (Fox)
Mar. 22 – Auto Club 400, Auto Club Speedway, 3:30 p.m. ET (Fox)
Mar. 29 – STP 500, Martinsville Speedway, 1 p.m. ET (Fox)
Apr. 11 – Duck Commander 500, Texas Motor Speedway, 7:30 p.m. ET (Fox)
Apr. 19 – Food City 500, Bristol Motor Speedway, 1 p.m. ET (Fox)
Apr. 25 – Toyota Owners 400, Richmond, 7 p.m. ET (Fox Sports 1)
May 3 – Talladega 500, Talladega Superspeedway, 1 p.m. ET (Fox)
May 9 – Kansas Speedway, 7:30 p.m. ET (Fox Sports 1)
May 15 – Sprint Showdown, Charlotte, 7 p.m. ET (Fox Sports 1)
May 16 – Sprint All-Star Race at Charlotte, 7 p.m. ET (Fox Sports 1)
May 24 – Coca-Cola 600, Charlotte Motor Speedway, 6 p.m. ET (Fox)
May 31 – Dover International Speedway, 1 p.m. ET (Fox Sports 1)
June 7 – Axalta “We Paint Winners” 400, Pocono, 1 p.m. ET (Fox Sports 1)
June 14 – Quicken Loans 400, Michigan, 1 p.m. ET (Fox Sports 1)
June 28 – Toyota/SaveMart 350, Sonomam Calif., 3 p.m. ET (Fox Sports 1)
July 5 – Coke Zero 400, Daytona, 7:45 p.m. ET (NBC)
July 11 – Quaker State 400, Kentucky, 7:30 p.m. ET (NBC SportsNetwork)
July 19 – New Hampshire Motor Speedway, 1:30 p.m. ET (NBCSN)

July 26 – Brickyard 400, Indianapolis, 3:30 p.m. ET (NBCSN)
Aug. 2 – Pennsylvania 400, Pocono, 1:30 p.m. ET (NBCSN)
Aug. 9 – Cheez-It 355 at the Glen, Watkins Glen, 2 p.m. ET (NBCSN)
Aug. 16 – Pure Michigan 400, Michigan, 2:30 p.m. ET (NBCSN)
Aug. 22 – Irwin Tools Night Race, Bristol, 7:30 p.m. ET (NBCSN)
Sept. 6 – Bojangles’ Southern 500, Darlington, 7 p.m. ET (NBC)
Sept. 12 – Federated Auto Parts 400, Richmond, 7:30 p.m. ET (NBCSN)
Sept. 20 – 400, Chicagoland, 3 p.m. ET (NBCSN)
Sept. 27 – Sylvania 300, New Hampshire, 2 p.m. ET (NBCSN)
Oct. 4 – AAA 400, Dover, 2:30 p.m. ET (NBCSN)
Oct. 10 – Bank of America 500, Charlotte, 7 p.m. ET (NBC)
Oct. 18 – Hollywood Casino 400, Kansas Speedway, 2:15 p.m. ET (NBC)
Oct. 25 – GEICO 500, Talladega, 2:30 p.m. ET (NBCSN)
Nov. 1 – Goody’s 500, Martinsville Speedway, 1:15 p.m. ET (NBCSN)
Nov. 8 – AAA Texas 500, Texas Motor Speedway, 2 p.m. ET (NBC)
Nov. 15 – Quicken Loans 500, Phoenix Raceway, 2:30 p.m. ET (NBC)
Nov. 22 – Ford Ecoboost 400, Homestead, 3 p.m. ET (NBC)

Monday, January 26, 2015

NASCAR bans flaring of fenders and side skirts during races

   NASCAR announced Monday teams will no longer be able to bend or manipulate fenders or side skirts during pit stops and if a team is caught doing so, it will be directed back to pit road to correct the issue and lose their track position. Additional penalties could also be imposed.

   Teams repeatedly turned to the practice to help gain an aerodynamic advantage last season.

    Robin Pemberton, NASCAR's vice president of competition, said NASCAR needed to police the practice because NASCAR had no way to account for the added aerodynamic advantage in testing.

   “We know that when we go to the Goodyear tire test, the cars aren't tested (with changed fenders), so that is not something that is modeled (in our simulations) in any way shape or form,” he said. “To be correct with the entire garage area and our venders and suppliers, and other people that we work with, it is best to regulate that and keep it in the box if we can.”

   NASCAR was aware of the issue last season but did not want to make a rules change while the championship Chase was underway.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Jeff Gordon's NASCAR TV career will begin this season

   Jeff Gordon may not be quite done competing on the track but his career as a NASCAR TV commentator will get a head start this season with Fox Sports.

   As part of the new 10-year NASCAR TV deal, Fox will broadcast the first half of the season of the Xfinity, formerly Nationwide, Series and the network plans to rotate Gordon and a handful of other Sprint Cup Series champions as analysts in the booth during broadcasts.

   Joining Gordon taking turns in the Fox booth will be former champion Brad Keselowski and reigning Cup champion Kevin Harvick. Both Keselowski and Harvick have also won titles in the Xfinity Series.

   Gordon, 43, announced last week the 2015 season would be his last as a fulltime competitor and when asked if working in TV was in his future coyly told SiriusXM NASCAR Radio, "I'd entertain it."

   Fox plans to officially unveil its talent lineup for the 2015 season on Monday, the first day of the annual Charlotte Motor Speedway Media Tour in Charlotte.

   Fox Sports 1 will televise 12 Xfinity races this season while the main Fox network will televise two - Phoenix and Talladega, Ala. Adam Alexander will do play-by-play for the races alongside NASCAR team owner Michael Waltrip and the rotation of Cup champions.

   Mike Joy, Hall of Famer Darrell Waltrip and Larry McReynolds will return to the booth for Fox's Cup series broadcasts this season. They will be joined on pit road by reporters Matt Yocum and newcomers, Jamie Little and Chris Neville.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Reaction in NASCAR to Jeff Gordon's announcement 2015 will be his last fulltime season

Mark Reuss, General Motors executive vice president
of global product development, purchasing and supply chain

   “Jeff Gordon is an incredible competitor, leader and ambassador for Chevrolet and motorsports. He has contributed so much – not only on the track with his 92 wins and four championships, but also away from the track as a businessman, with the Jeff Gordon Children’s Foundation, and more importantly, as a husband and father. He is a champion, and he has been a great friend. We are proud of our relationship with Jeff, and, just like all of his fans, we look forward to watching him compete for one more championship. We wish Jeff and his family – Ingrid, Ella and Leo – all of the best.” 

NASCAR Statement from Brian France, NASCAR Chairman

and Chief Executive Officer, on Jeff Gordon
   DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (January 22, 2015) – “Jeff Gordon transcends NASCAR and will be celebrated as one of the greatest drivers to ever race. We have all enjoyed watching his legend grow for more than two decades, and will continue to do so during his final full-time season. His prolonged excellence and unmatched class continue to earn him the admiration of fans across the globe. Today’s announcement is a bittersweet one. I’ll miss his competitive fire on a weekly basis, but I am also happy for Jeff and his family as they start a new chapter. On behalf of the entire NASCAR family, I thank Jeff for his years of dedication and genuine love for this sport, and wish him the very best in his final season.”

Darrell Waltrip, NASCAR on FOX analyst
  Four-time NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES champion Jeff Gordon announced today that 2015 will be his final, fulltime season behind the wheel.  Below, NASCAR on FOX analyst and Hall of Famer Darrell Waltrip and Larry McReynolds react to the news:

   “Jeff’s accomplishments off the track are impressive, but his numbers on the track are unbelievable.  I call him the ‘GOAT’ – the Greatest of All Time.  I believe he is the greatest NASCAR driver there has ever been. What he has done outside the sport has grown the sport’s popularity immensely.  I give Jeff a tremendous amount of credit for the youth movement in NASCAR.  A lot of people think NASCAR started in 1992, because that’s when he came on the scene and brought in a new, young audience because he appealed to the 18-35-year-old demographic.  We didn’t really have a driver at the time who could do that. 

   “I think Jeff has something left to prove in 2015. I think he’d like to win 100 races, but he knows that might be a stretch. It’s hard to win four in a season, let alone eight.  And of course, he’d like to another championship. A part-time Jeff Gordon behind the wheel isn’t a bad thing, either.  When I was at the end of my career, there were some tracks I still enjoyed competing on – and even would today.  Jeff has stayed with Rick his entire career and has been committed to that organization.  Their relationship has paid huge dividends.  Jeff has driven the same number with the same team for his entire career, a continuity that reminds me a lot of the Petty era.”

 Larry McReynolds, NASCAR on FOX analyst
   “I applaud the fact he is going out as a competitive race car driver.  He won’t be out there just riding around to finish out his career. We all know Jeff Gordon well enough to know he wants to win more races and maybe another Daytona 500 and another Brickyard 400.  As close as he came last year in the championship, you know he wants to be a player in the championship when we get to Homestead this year.

   “Jeff changed the personality and perception of a race car driver in NASCAR.  Before he came along, the perception was more about the good old Southeastern boy wearing blue jeans, big belt buckles and boots.  But he created a new buzz in our sport because he looked like he stepped off the cover of a GQ magazine.  Dale Earnhardt was a huge watershed in our sport because he showed everyone that while NASCAR is what he does on the track, it’s also a big business because people wanted to buy his merchandise. Then Jeff Gordon came along and created a new mark as far as the perception of what a driver is. He has made so many strides outside the race car for this sport, not the least of which is his charitable work over the years.  That part definitely won’t stop when he gets out of the car. Nor will his tremendous legacy.”


   FORT WORTH, Texas (Jan. 22, 2015) - Statement from Texas Motor Speedway President Eddie Gossage on the announcement that 2015 will be Jeff Gordon's last season as a full-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver. 

   "I've known Jeff since he was a teenager with a really bad mustache. It has been thrilling to watch him develop from a promising Busch Series driver into perhaps the greatest professional our sport has ever seen. Jeff showed last season that he still has a burning desire to win races and championships. You won't find a finer professional, person or charitable athlete.  We have been fortunate to be associated with him for all of these years. I'm sure all fans, even of the other drivers, will want to show their appreciation to Jeff this year."

Martinsville Speedway President Clay Campbell
   “I think with the announcement of 2015 being Jeff Gordon’s last full-time year behind the wheel, we all need to stop and say ‘thank you Jeff’. His contributions to this sport are so numerous it would be a blanket ‘thank you’ for everything.

   “Primarily he helped to take NASCAR to another level. He was a young kid from the Midwest with a lot of potential, coming in here in 1993, starting his career when our “King” was winding his up. He arrived on the scene at a perfect time.

   “I looked at his stats here at Martinsville and was truly shocked. I knew he was good here but not until I saw his record did I realize just how good he is here. Forty-four starts, eight wins, 35 top 10s, 28 top 5s, no DNFs and out of the 44 starts he led in 34 of them. That is an amazing record. Jeff Gordon is a class act and I wish him the best this year as well as whatever the future holds for him.”

 Sonoma Raceway President and General Manager Steve Page
   “As promoters we are supposed to be neutral observers, but given his local roots and the tremendous success he’s had at our track, I must admit Jeff Gordon has always been looked upon as the home team around here.  If he were to win our race in June on his way to his fifth Sprint Cup Series championship, it would likely be a huge cause for celebration among our local race fans.  We look forward to helping Jeff celebrate the culmination of a remarkable sports career.”

    "Not only is Jeff one of the greatest drivers to ever race, he's one of the classiest guys in the sport. I will always remember having dinner with him one night in Jackson, just talking about our families and swapping racing stories. Even for me, as a 20 plus year veteran in the sport and a track president, it is a memory I will never forget. He embodies everything that's right in NASCAR and a true champion. I wish him and Ingrid the very best as they plan the next chapter, and look forward to one last season with him before he retires."