Monday, November 28, 2011

Jeff Burton gets new crew chief

    Richard Childress Racing has named Drew Blickensderfer as the crew chief for the No. 31 Caterpillar/Wheaties Racing team with driver Jeff Burton for the 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season.

   Luke Lambert, interim crew chief during the latter part of the 2011 season for the No. 31 team, will assume a yet-to-be announced new position at RCR.

   Blickensderfer begins his RCR career after nearly a decade with Roush Fenway Racing. He spent the 2011 Cup season leading the No. 6 team and has been a crew chief, in the Cup and Nationwide Series, since 2007.

   "I'm excited about the move to RCR and the opportunity to help lead Jeff Burton and the Cat/Wheaties Racing team back into Chase contention," said Blickensderfer. "I was around Jeff briefly at RFR and always admired and liked him. He's a very talented driver and I look forward to working him and the rest of the No. 31 team in 2012."

   Burton qualified for the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup from 2006-2008 and 2010. He finished 20th in the final 2011 point standings.

   "Drew is a strong leader and will be a great complement to the Caterpillar/Wheaties Racing team," said Childress. "He's won some big races, including the 2009 Daytona 500, his first race as a Sprint Cup Series crew chief. There's every reason to believe the combination of Jeff and Drew will be a successful one."

He knew Darian Grubb when ....

   As the talk continues about where champion crew chief Darian Grubb will land, following are some comments on Grubb’s career growth from Jerry Freeze, general manager of Front Row Motorsports. Freeze hired Grubb at Petty Enterprises for his first racing job.

   “We hired Darian at Petty Enterprises for a shop-based job in our engineering department in the early 2000s, I think it was. He was working for a trucking company, I believe, but he was looking to get into racing. He was a Virginia Tech graduate with a mechanical engineering degree, but he had a lot of local short-track racing experience. So he was really what you look for in an engineering candidate. And he just hit the ground running. He didn’t stay in the position that we hired him into for very long. We knew pretty quick, within four or six months, that he was pretty special," Freeze said.

   “We started taking him to a few tests. He was putting data systems on the car, and he gave the crew chiefs a lot of good information. He was really wise with the tools we had, but he also understood the practical side because he had that racing experience. He became part of the group there with the crew chief and the car chief that made the decisions on the 43 car, really taking on a leadership role. You knew from the start that this guy was going to be a crew chief some day.

   “At the end of the 2003 season, we talked about making him the crew chief on Kyle Petty’s car. He had all the knowledge and the aptitude, even if he didn’t have the experience. But we really believed in him. But at that same time, he’d been talking to Hendrick when they were starting up the 48 car. And he wound up going over to be the engineer for Chad Knaus.”

Friday, November 25, 2011

Statement from Shell-Pennzoil on Kurt Busch

   Shell Pennzoil released the following statement on Friday evening in light of NASCAR's decision to penalize driver Kurt Busch.

   “Shell and Pennzoil are disappointed with recent actions by driver, Kurt Busch, at the final race of the 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race season. His actions are in no way consistent with the way we want our brands represented and we have expressed our disappointment and concerns directly to Penske Racing.”

NASCAR fines Kurt Busch $50,000

NASCAR Fines Kurt Busch For Actions At Homestead-Miami Speedway

November 25, 2011
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Nov. 25, 2011) – NASCAR has fined Kurt Busch $50,000 for his actions during the Nov. 20 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
   NASCAR determined that Kurt Busch violated Section 12-1 (actions detrimental to stock car racing – inappropriate hand gesture; abusive language) of the 2011 NASCAR Rule Book.
   In issuing the penalty, NASCAR cited Kurt Busch's "poor judgment in making an inappropriate hand gesture" when he drove his car into the garage early in the race after it experienced transmission problems. In addition, NASCAR said Kurt Busch showed "disrespect towards a media member," an incident that followed similar inappropriate media confrontations earlier in the season.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

RCR makes crew chief change official

    Richard Childress Racing formally announced on Wednesday new roles for Shane Wilson and Gil Martin in prepartion for the 2012 NASCAR season.

   As the Observer first reported on Friday, Wilson is the new crew chief of the No. 29 Chevrolet team and driver Kevin Harvick. Wilson spent the past three seasons with RCR's No. 33 team. He replaces Martin, the No. 29's crew chief since May 2009. Martin has been named director of team operations, reporting to director of competition Kent Day.

   "Kevin came to me after the Phoenix race a couple weeks ago and asked for a change in the leadership of his team for the 2012 season," said Richard Childress, president and CEO of Richard Childress Racing. "The expectations at RCR are to win championships so the decision was made to move Shane Wilson to the No. 29.

   "Shane did a great job for RCR in the Nationwide Series when he first got here, and built on that success the past three seasons with our No. 33 team, so we feel he will continue do a great job with the No. 29 team."

   This is not the first time Wilson and Harvick have worked together. They joined forces in 2006 to earn 10 wins, 24 top-five and 31 top-10 finishes on the way to that season's NASCAR Nationwide Series championship. The team's 824-point margin of victory is a series record.

   "Shane is a good friend of mine and we had a lot of success together in the NASCAR Nationwide Series," said Harvick. "He has a lot of experience now in the Sprint Cup Series and I look forward to working with him again."

   Further personnel changes within RCR's competition department will be announced in the coming weeks.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Who scored most points in the Chase?

   It should come as no surprise Tony Stewart scored the most points in the 10-race Chase for the Sprint Cup, coming out with a scant three-point advantage over runner-up Carl Edwards. Stewart won his third Cup title in a tiebreaker over Edwards.

   The surprise was two drivers not in the Chase - Kasey Kahne and Clint Bowyer - ranked in the top five of points scored in the last 10 races.

   Here's a look at the top five:  

2011 Chase Points
Starting Driver
Tony Stewart
Carl Edwards
Kasey Kahne
Kevin Harvick
Clint Bowyer

Monday, November 21, 2011

2012 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series schedule


Date Site Network

2/24 Daytona International Speedway SPEED

3/31 Martinsville Speedway SPEED

4/15 Rockingham Speedway SPEED

4/21 Kansas Speedway SPEED

5/18 Charlotte Motor Speedway SPEED

6/1 Dover International Speedway SPEED

6/8 Texas Motor Speedway SPEED

6/28 Kentucky Speedway SPEED

7/14 Iowa Speedway SPEED

7/21 Chicagoland Speedway SPEED

8/4 Pocono Raceway SPEED

8/18 Michigan International Speedway SPEED

8/22 Bristol Motor Speedway SPEED

8/31 Atlanta Motor Speedway SPEED

9/15 Iowa Speedway SPEED

9/21 Kentucky Speedway SPEED

10/6 Talladega Superspeedway SPEED

10/13 Las Vegas Motor Speedway SPEED

10/27 Martinsville Speedway SPEED

11/2 Texas Motor Speedway SPEED

11/9 Phoenix International Raceway SPEED

11/16 Homestead-Miami Speedway SPEED

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Dale Junior's thoughts on a No. 3 car in the Sprint Cup Series

   On Saturday at Homestead-Miami Speedway, Dale Earnhardt Jr. was asked what he thought if three or four years down the road Austin Dillon, who will drive the No. 3 Chevrolet in the Nationwide Series next season, wanted to move to the Cup series and drive the No. 3.

   A No. 3 car has not appeared in a Cup series race since Dale Earnhardt Sr. was killed in a last-lap wreck in the 2001 Daytona 500.

   Dillon, the grandson of Earnhardt Sr.'s team owner Richard Childress, won the 2011 Truck series championship on Friday night.

   "I just look at it differently. I don’t look at the numbers tied to drivers as much as just the history of the number. The number is more of a bank, you know, that you just deposit history into. It doesn’t really belong to any individual. Austin’s ran that number and you can’t really deny him the opportunity to continue to run it. It just wouldn’t be fair," Earnhardt Jr. said.

   "Dad (Dale Earnhardt Sr.) did great things. He was a great ambassador for the sport and we’re still as a whole, reaping the benefits of all he accomplished and what he did that put us in front of a lot of people. But even before that, the number was Richard’s. Richard drove it. And someone else drove it before then. There’s a lot of guys in the fifties and sixties that ran that number with success. So the number is really kind of like a bank and you deposit history into and they don’t really belong to the individuals.

   "It’s iconic when you put the colors and the style with it; it’s a little bit iconic to the sport. Austin is a good kid. He seems to have a great appreciation for what’s happening to him and what’s going on around him. And I would be happy if he wanted to keep doing that. He kind of had to know when he first started to run that number if he got this far into the deal, he would have to cross a few bridges like that and that was a tough decision I guess at first to start running the number for him; knowing what kind of pressures he might face down the road. But I think it would be fine by me for him to do that. I think that it’s got to get back on the race track one of these days.

   "It just can’t be gone forever you know?”

Friday, November 18, 2011

Kyle Petty on NASCAR secret fines

   SPEED analyst Kyle Petty shared his views regarding NASCAR's practice of punishing drivers for what it deems to be publicly disparaging remarks about the sport.  

   Do you agree or disagree with the practice of NASCAR imposing secret fines o n drivers?
   Petty: “I definitely, strongly disagree with the practice of imposing secret fines on drivers or anyone in the sport. If you’re going to fine an athlete in any sport for something that a sanctioning body perceives as derogatory to the sport in any way, it’s because they obviously made a public comment. And if it’s so derogatory and it’s publicly made, then it should carry a public fine and be publicly reprimanded. I definitely disagree with the secrecy here.”

   Do you think secret fines compromise the sanctioning body’s credibility?
   Petty: “I think it infringes on NASCAR’s credibility a bit. As a fan watching the sport, how do you know what these guys are being told, what they’re being fined for, what is being said behind closed doors? You don’t know. When drivers begin to talk and say things, you wonder if those thoughts are their true feelings or if it’s just political speak and something they’ve been told to say. At the same time, I totally agree with NASCAR that competitors should not slam the sport. It’s our sport, it’s a sport we all try to build and that we all try to build up. But I don’t see where Brad (Keselowski) said anything against the sport itself. He just said he didn’t like EFI (electronic fuel injection).”

A Q&A with NASCAR's Brian France

An interview with: BRIAN FRANCE

BRIAN FRANCE: In addition to an exciting weekend, the industry is really celebrating the fact that they're here in South Florida, and doing some great things. So with that I'm happy to take some questions.

Q. Brian, in particular light to your comments about the winning. Eight years ago Matt Kenseth won the championship before the Chase, had one win for the season which seemed to cause an uproar, and thus the Chase format was developed. Carl has an opportunity on Sunday to again win a championship with only one race week win in the entire season. Why should that be looked on any different as what Matt Kenseth did in 203?
BRIAN FRANCE: Because we didn't change the point system because somebody had one win or a few wins. That was never the emphasis. The emphasis was that we could create bigger moments if we had a more playoff style atmosphere as opposed to a complete consistency model in the years past. And we've achieved that goal, not all the time because it's obviously out of our control.

I would tell you the one win that Carl had might make the difference though. He only leads by three points. The one win in Las Vegas may well make the difference tomorrow. I don't know.

Clearly we cannot make winning the only thing. There are 43 teams racing at every weekend. So this is not ‑‑ however, we can make sure that we emphasize that. We can make sure that we reward that. And we're pretty happy that that translates into better racing.

 Q. Not taking anything away from Jimmie's great accomplishments of five straight there. How much do you think an uptick of interest that there's been to have a new face fighting out for the championship this year?
BRIAN FRANCE: I don't know. But I do know that this will mark the end of one of the historic runs in all of sports with five consecutive championships. I would have never thought I would witness that.

Jimmie it's just a marvelous achievement, and Carl and Tony both are very popular, so they're creating new moments and we'll have to see how it all plays out.

Q. There's been an uptick in the television ratings. I'm wondering is that what you expected? Is that a slow surge to what you think will be more? Is it less than you thought it would be? What are you working on in the off‑season that would be your main goals for next year?
BRIAN FRANCE: We've always said that ratings go up and down because of many, many things. The things we can control are showcasing the racing, telling our story, and giving the drivers some big moments to race for. That will help us. You never know how it all percentage‑ wise what really matters the most.

But we know that that's the NASCAR we want. We want to see these elevated performances, and they're just fun to watch. We want to see what's happened. I'm confident if we do that, and do a lot of other things, we will have better ratings and better attendance.

Q. NASCAR has fined, at least four times that we know of, drivers for disparaging remarks they've made, and NASCAR did not go public with those fines. Other leagues do. They do publicly say you can't talk about the officials. You can't talk about this or the league. Why does NASCAR take the position that these matters should be private and not public? Are there others that we don't know about?
BRIAN FRANCE: There could be. That's why they're private, right? Well, let me tell you what we've done in the last couple of years. In the last couple of years we've taken a position that drivers are going to be able to speak their mind and criticize the sport way more than any other sport would allow. So let's start with that.

However, there have to be some limits. We thought those limits were being exceeded in the last couple of years because you can't denigrate the sport. You just can't do that. We're not going to accept that.

You know what is interesting, almost every driver has come up to me at one time or another and said I'm glad you did that, because I don't like it when somebody just says something that is irresponsible about the sport.

Let me say one other portion of this. They are perfectly fine to criticize anything we do, any call we make. They can say they don't like it, they disagree with it. We didn't make the right call. That's fine. But we're not going to let anyone denigrate the sport, and that's going to continue.

Whether we make the fines public or private, we didn't see a benefit to making them public. If there is some benefit to that, we'll take a look at it. But that is the reasoning behind the penalties.

Q. But don't you think there is harm when it comes out after and fans take the stance of why did they do this in secret? What else are they doing in secret? In fact we're talking about secret fines today instead of your big game seven moment?
BRIAN FRANCE: That's up to you to what to write and be interested about. I can only tell you that I take every question. I never say no comment. I've explained it. If there's a better way ‑‑ sort of this idea that there are a bunch of things going on behind the curtain. We've never been more transparent. We've never had more of anything, and that is the way it should be.

If there's a benefit to announcing them to the public and the media, we'll take a look at them. We just didn't see a benefit at the time. Maybe there is a benefit.

Q. How much did the Kyle Busch situation at Texas concern you? How do you balance boys‑have‑at‑it in retaliation with what appears to be a non‑definitive line?
BRIAN FRANCE: That's not accurate. It was very concerning to all of us. There was a swift and very is he penalty on that as you know. There is a line and the drivers, and they may walk around and say sometimes that they're not clear about it, but they know the line.

We have these conversations with them all the time. What you've got to remember is this is a contact sport. So you're going to ‑‑ we thought a couple years ago that we were overregulating the events. We wanted to give more authority back in the drivers' hands, and that's been good for NASCAR.

But there is always a limit. You can't do anything you want. We will look at it. We talked to the drivers. If they're close to the line, we have a conversation that day. If they go over the line, we'll deal with that too.

So this idea that there is no ‑‑ nobody knows where the line is, not true. Not accurate.

Q. Brian, corporations all across the United States have been raising funds for the last years or so while you guys are looking for sponsorships. What is NASCAR doing to get corporate treasurers to open up the purse strings and become sponsors at a time when NASCAR really needs the employment?
BRIAN FRANCE: If the President of the United States is not getting them to do that, I'm not sure what we're going to be able to do to figure that out. But having said that, obviously we just held a green summit. We were doing things that attract new companies, new technology to validate in our sport. We're renewing a lot of companies, and some companies ‑‑ and it happens all the time, every year for us, will pull back their sponsorship or commitments or leave all together.

That is just the reality of having hundreds of companies involved in this sport. But we're working harder than ever with the teams and their business groups to tell the NASCAR story and the value that it brings to sponsors. We're having success with that.

I think if you ask the individual team owners, we've never had a more offensive strategy doing it together to bring in as many new companies as possible.

Q. After the test you ran this week in Daytona, what are the goals you're looking for for Daytona in February, and is one of them a virtual complete elimination of the tandem drafting? Is that one of the things you're after?
BRIAN FRANCE: It is one of the things we are after. We would prefer to eliminate tandem racing in the manner it exists today. There is no question about that. We are working on rolling back the clock to traditional Daytona, Talladega races. We'll have to see how that goes. I think the majority of fans would like to see that and so would we.

Q. You mentioned that you answer every question and you don't duck anything. There was a time when your grandfather and your father attended every race. They did these press conferences almost every Saturday or Sunday behind the hauler or whatever. We don't see you very often. We wonder why is it that you think the sport that you're not needed at every weekend or just why are you not around more often for these press deals?
BRIAN FRANCE: I frequently say, and I've said this before, if I thought that I was the last one out of every event and I turn the light off on the way out that that would grow the sport in some way, I would do it.

What we have is a different sport than it was 10, 15 years ago, and that's real clear. I don't publish my schedule, but it's pretty busy. We feel like we're managing the sport. We know we're managing the sport the best way that we need to to grow the sport.

Q. Could there come a time in the future where all the penalties are transparent? That they're all black and white so it can be reported as normal rather than just finding things out on the internet secondhand? Secondly, Bob earlier mentioned the Kyle Busch incident. Can you explain to me other than Brian Vickers' situation last week where he was not under caution as Kyle Busch was with Ron Hornaday at Texas, why Brian Vickers, something wasn't done about him when he, in fact, just came out of nowhere and plowed into Matt Kenseth for no apparent reason other than retaliation?
BRIAN FRANCE: Well, there is something being done about that. We're having a conversation about that, and they are very different circumstances. One was on a mile and a half track, a lot faster. One was under caution, which is very significant different.

Racing accidents under green are always subjective. Even though you may say this one wasn't, but typically there is always a debate about who went where. Ron Hornaday was racing for a championship, and you know we value that greatly.

So there are lots of differences. It doesn't mean though that we didn't think the line was almost met or somewhat close, whereby, we would have a conversation to explain that. We will be having a conversation with both Brian and Matt regarding really what happened in Martinsville the week before, which is a short track.

A lot of contact happened in that particular race. Like I said earlier, there is a line. The drivers know where the line is. If we should be guessing about that for some reason, we're happy to sit down and walk them through it.

Q. Ricky Stenhouse is probably going to win the Nationwide championship tomorrow. The decision NASCAR made to limit drivers to one championship run, has NASCAR gotten what they want out of that or is that policy going to be reviewed at any point?
BRIAN FRANCE: All policies are reviewed, but I think it's worked the way we want it to. We want to showcase the young drivers in their own series and still have the participation with drivers with a lot of experience. That's exactly what we've gotten.

I think it's been good for the young drivers to get some different notoriety. The honor and prestige of winning a championship and the money that comes with that and all the rest has been a good thing.

Q. Going back to the driver fines things. When you say you don't see a benefit to that, can you explain why there is no benefit to that? It would seem like if you're punishing somebody for disparaging the sport, you would want to let people know we're punishing this guy because we don't like what he said. In this room, you're monitoring social media, all the fans want to know more about it and want to understand why. It just feeds to the perception that you're an autocratic regime that doles out punishment in a capricious manner. Why would you not want to tell people here's why we're doing it?
BRIAN FRANCE: Sure. I'll explain it. We went for 50‑something years and never had a system to fine anybody for disparaging remarks in the sport. We're the only sport on the planet that had that. So we simply really in the last couple of years changed that policy because we thought we needed to.

. So it's a new policy. It's not something that's been around for a long time. But like I said, we're happy to look at that in the off‑season. See what benefit there would be. When it comes to social media, nobody is investing more, doing more, encouraging the drivers and everybody in the industry to participate on social media. Say what you want and all the rest.

So, you know, we ought not look at one policy and try to define how NASCAR approaches things.

Q. What's the primary benefit to not telling people?
BRIAN FRANCE: The way we looked at it, what would be the benefit? The drivers know exactly what we're after. We have these annual meetings with them, right? And then we have semi‑annual meetings with them, and we meet with them every weekend at the track. We have formal meetings in the off‑season.

So they know exactly what we expect out of them. When they don't handle that, the only way we can control that is obviously a fining system. But look, don't panic over this. We'll look at it in the off‑season, if we need to change it, we'll change it. Not a big deal.

Q. You mentioned earlier about the Chase format and that you're always adjusting. Is there a good chance that the Chase format will be tweaked yet again for the following season?
BRIAN FRANCE: It's possible. I don't know. We take those ideas throughout the year. We really look at them as carefully as we can. Then what we do is we run them past the team owners and drivers and other ‑‑ everybody else in the industry in the off‑season before we would do anything, and that's exactly what we did last year going into this year.

We looked at all kinds of things and settled on this as a nice step forward to simplifying the point system. Hopefully getting what we have, which is a more competitive Chase, and we'll look at it again. I don't know where we'll end up.

Q. As far as the Chase goes, it's been a really exciting Chase. As far as when you came up with the idea of the chase and then you tweaked it. Did you expect that kind of result what do you feel about the future?
BRIAN FRANCE: I actually expected more years like this, frankly. I couldn't imagine somebody as incredibly dominating as Jimmie has been in a five‑year run, so you have to give him an enormous amount of credit.

But our expectation is that given the balance of things that we have 43 cars at every event and given the nature of auto racing and how it unfolds and some of the traditions that you have to obviously respect, I think the current system and more tweaks will always come and we'll just have to see what they are.

Q. We're here for the first time actually, so we're growing interesting in NASCAR covering, and I would like you to talk about the growing of NASCAR in other countries than the USA, like Brazil with Nelson Piquet and Miguel Paludo?
BRIAN FRANCE: I think it's great. I was in Singapore Wednesday and Thursday working on that very issue. We've got a Hispanic driver from Mexico running in the truck race this weekend. Our diversity program is focusing on that.

So any time we are able to attract a talented driver, Juan Pablo being an example or anyone else, I think that broadens up the sport. Makes us more relevant to whatever home country that they're from, and we view that as a very good thing.

Q. Specifically in terms of what Brad said as far as EFI goes, what was it about that that NASCAR thought crossed the line? It wasn't a case of what Denny did in impugning the integrity of the sanctioning body, but more or less expressing opinion on the technological direction of the sport at that particular point. Could you at least elaborate on that?
BRIAN FRANCE: I can't elaborate on that because we didn't issue a public fine on that. You can read into what people say just like I can. When you cross a line that denigrates the direction of the sport or the quality of the racing, we're not going to accept that. Not going to accept it.

Happy to have any other criticism, any other complaint, happy to hear them all. If I own a restaurant and I say you know what, the food in my restaurant is not very good, we're not going to accept it. It's as simple as that.

Q. In light of that, will you be issuing a secret fine to Jaime Allison of Ford Motor Company for saying almost the exact same thing as Brad Keselowski did this week?
BRIAN FRANCE: Jaime Allison doesn't participate in NASCAR. I mean, he does in his corporate role, but come on.

Q. Sort of following up on that. One of the problems with the EFI, the electronic fuel injection topic, I think is the economy's bad and it's going to be expensive or be another expense. I think that's what Brad was talking about and we've been talking about in here and engine builders have been talking about. It is an extra expense at a bad time. Is it something that could be postponed for another year or so? Does it have to be right now?
BRIAN FRANCE: Well, we announced it several years ago. These are not the things that you can just pull off the shelf and put them back on and off. We have agreements with suppliers that have to be met.

You've got to remember why are we doing that? Because we want to be more relevant to the car manufacturers and other green technologies as well. We always said that we will do that in a balanced way. We're not going to be like some other divisions around the world that are heavily emphasized on that on technology.

But we're going to have to do more than we did in the past. It's not because we feel like doing it or want to put additional costs on anyone, but because they're accepting a lot of money from the car manufacturers, and that's what's under the hood on cars today, and we have to be mindful of that as we make policy.

Bowyer, Harvick set to get new crew chiefs for next season

HOMESTEAD, Fla. - The 2011 Sprint Cup Series season is not quite over but a litany of crew chief changes for next season is already in the works.

Brian Pattie, who spent most of the past four seasons as crew chief for Juan Pablo Montoya until he was replaced in July, will become the crew chief for driver Clint Bowyer at Michael Waltrip Racing and its No. 15 Toyotas, multiple sources confirmed to the Observer and have learned.

Pattie has remained under contract with Earnhardt Ganassi Racing since he was released as Montoya crew chief but is expected to move to MWR as early as the beginning of next month, sources said.

A MWR spokesman declined to comment on the report but said the team would announce its choice “soon.”

In addition, it appears Kevin Harvick, who is currently third in the Cup series standings but out of title contention, will have a new crew chief next season as well, sources said.

Shane Wilson, who worked with Harvick in the Nationwide Series and currently serves as crew chief for Bowyer, is expected to take over crew chief duties for Harvick next season, sources said.

   Harvick's current crew chief, Gil Martin, is expected to take another role invthe RCR organization.

“Any changes Richard Childress Racing makes will be announced in due time,” RCR team spokesman David Hart said.

Asked on Friday whether he expected personnel changes on his No. 29 Cup team next season, Harvick said anticipated some changes.

“Well there’s definitely a lot of things happening at RCR with the one Cup team going away. We’re adding three Nationwide teams and a Truck team so obviously there’s going to be some personnel changes and I think if we had gone out and won a championship you’d say you probably don’t need to do anything,” he said.

“But if we sit on our hands and don’t evaluate everybody’s position at this particular point I think we’d be fools.”

In addition to those teams, changes are expected on Tony Stewart's No. 14 Stewart-Haas Racing team and Kurt Busch's No. 22 Penske Racing Dodge team.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Look who's coming to Sunday's race

Notable Celebrities Expected to Attend the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford 400:

(subject to change)

First Lady Michelle Obama

Dr. Jill Biden (spouse of Vice President Joe Biden)

Mario Lopez (TV’s EXTRA)

Christian Slater (movie actor)

Dwight Howard (NBA’s Orlando Magic)

Pia Toscano (19/Interscope Records, American Idol finalist)

Sgt. Slaughter (WWE Hall of Famer)

Gaby Sanchez (MLB’s Miami Marlins)

Michael Moorer (former Heavyweight Champion)

Evelyn Lozada (TV’s VH-1 Basketball Wives)

DJ Irie (Miami-based DJ)

Jack Carl Skille (NHL’s Florida Panthers)

Keaton Ellerby (NHL’s Florida Panthers)

Jim Jonsin (music producer)

Chris Bosh (NBA’s Miami Heat)

Gene Monahan (former New York Yankees athletic trainer)

Mick Jones (Founder of the rock group Foreigner)

Roman Jones (Mick’s Son and Major Club Promoter in Miami)

Kelly Hansen (Lead Singer of Foreigner)

Phil Carson (Foreigner Manager)

Sebastien Marcovici (Principal Dancer, New York City Ballet)

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

David Poole among those honored

   Bruton Smith and the late David Poole are among those who will be honored by The North Carolina Motorsports Association during its Sixth Annual North Carolina Motorsports Industry Awards in January in Concord, N.C.
   Smith, ownerof Speedway Motorsports Inc., will receive the 2012 Achievement in Motorsports Tribute Award.

   In addition to Smith, Poole, the long-time Charlotte Observer motorsports writer, will be honored with the Media Recognition Award.

  The event will also recognize seven industry organizations for their 2011 accomplishments and positive impacts on the motorsports industry in North Carolina.

   2012 North Carolina Motorsports Industry Awards:
  • Bruton Smith, Achievement in Motorsports Tribute Award
  • David Poole, Media Recognition Award (Posthumously)
  • G-Force Racing Gear
  • Industrial Hard Carbon
  • JRi Shocks
  • Lake Norman Elementary School Pit Crew
  • NASCAR Whelen All-American Series
  • Racing Electronics
  • Richmond County Tourism Authority

Monday, November 14, 2011

Who needs to do what to win NASCAR championships this weekend

Sprint Cup: Only one finish guarantees Carl Edwards his first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship – a victory in Sunday’s season-finale Ford 400. Just three points separate points leader Carl Edwards and second-place Tony Stewart, a margin so tight, no other finish would clinch the title for Edwards regardless of where Stewart finishes.

Stewart owns the tie-breaker (best finishes), and therefore could tie and win his third series championship. All other drivers are officially eliminated from championship contention. Edwards’ three-point lead roughly translates to 13 points under the previous points system.

Nationwide Series: Ricky Stenhouse Jr. will clinch the Nationwide Series championship with a finish of 37th or better; or 38th or better with at least one lap led; or 39th or better with most laps led at Homestead.

Only one point separates the points leading No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota and the No. 60 Roush Fenway Racing Ford in the Nationwide Series owners standings. Only one finish guarantees the No. 18 a championship – a victory in Saturday’s Ford 300.

Both teams have eight wins on the season, but the No. 60 has nine second-place finishes (the No. 18 has five) – giving the No. 60 the tie-breaker. The No. 60 would win the owners title by gaining one or more points on the No. 18 on Saturday.

Truck Series: Austin Dillon owns a 20-point lead over Johnny Sauter heading into the Camping World Truck Series finale. James Buescher also remains in title contention, 28 points behind Dillon. Ron Hornaday Jr., 48 points behind Dillon, will be eliminated as soon as Dillon starts at Homestead.

Dillon guarantees himself his first championship by finishing 16th or better; or 17th or better with at least one lap led; or 18th or better with the most laps led in Friday night’s Ford 200.

Kevin Harvick Inc.’s No. 2 Chevrolet clinched the 2011 owners championship last week at Texas Motor Speedway. It was KHI’s third owners title.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Can Kyle Busch learn Kevin Harvick's life lesson?

   While there is no love lost between Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch, the two drivers do share some similarities when it comes to rocky starts to their respective Sprint Cup Series careers.

   In his second Cup season in 2002, Harvick missed the spring Cup race at Martinsville, Va., when he was parked the day before during a Truck series race for wrecking another competitor and disobeying the request of a NASCAR official.

   The incident vastly changed Harvick's approach to the sport and he has become one of the most talented and respected drivers in the garage.

   Many believe Busch faces a similar defining moment after NASCAR parked him and forced him to miss last weekend's Nationwide and Cup races at Texas. Busch was parked in the Truck race for intentionally wrecking another competitor under caution.

   On Friday at Phoenix, Harvick was asked about his experience and whether he believed Busch could change.

   “When I went through that situation I had two people in the whole sport; obviously Richard (Childress) was one; but I had Dale Jarrett and Rusty Wallace. Those were the only two guys who reached out and said, 'You know, I’ve been there before and here’s what you need to do and you need to move on.' But it’s a game-changer as far as how you look at the sport and how you feel about things," Harvick said.

   "The bottom line is, when you’re in a competition and when things are competitive, you’re going to do things that you’ll look back on and you say, man that was pretty bad there. I shouldn’t have done that or I should have done this a different way. The one thing that we try to do is when we make a mistake or I make a mistake or somebody makes a mistake in the company, you try not to do it twice. You try to learn from that and you try to move on. And you hope as this situation moves forward you hope that you take something from it and learn something from it.

   "This sport is a lot like life. You go from year to year and you learn and you hopefully learn from your mistakes and you get older and you mature as a person. So hopefully those go hand-in-hand as you move on in your career and things become more clear. So, it’s a tough sport. And the hardest part about this sport is not NASCAR, it’s not your sponsors, it’s really the part that governs it the hardest are the competitors because they look at it as a disrespect to the sport that they’ve been a part of building for a long time and that’s the hardest part is to come back and be able to look everybody in the eye and them believe that you actually respect the sport.”

Thursday, November 10, 2011

M&M's Mars statement on Kyle Busch


Busch Removed From Driving M&M’S® Car for Remaining 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Races; Set to Return as Mars Driver in 2012

   Hackettstown, NJ, November 10, 2011…Mars, Incorporated announced today that they will be removing Kyle Busch from driving the M&M’S® car for the remaining two races of the 2011 NASCAR season as a result of the incident during last Friday’s NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Texas Motor Speedway. The car will not run with the M&M’S® paint scheme until 2012, at which time Kyle Busch will be the driver with the expectation that no future incident take place.

    “As a proud member of the racing community, Mars and the M&M’S® brand strongly support the partnership we have with Joe Gibbs Racing and are committed to NASCAR. Yet, Kyle’s recent actions are unacceptable and do not reflect the values of Mars,” said Debra A. Sandler, Chief Consumer Officer, Mars Chocolate North America. “While we do not condone Kyle’s recent actions, we do believe that he has shown remorse and has expressed a desire to change. We believe our decision will have a positive impact on Kyle and will help him return next season ready to win.”

    “We strongly support Mars’ decision,” said Joe Gibbs, owner of Joe Gibbs Racing. “This gives us all time to work together to foster a positive change where Kyle can continue racing in a way we can all be proud of.”

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Who's earned most points in the Chase?

Chase Points
Pnts In Chase
Carl Edwards
Tony Stewart
Kasey Kahne
Matt Kenseth
Kevin Harvick

Sprint Cup Series points leader Carl Edwards and Tony Stewart have both earned exactly 313 points since the Chase started. The reason for Edwards' current three-point advantage? The three bonus points he received by winning one race in the regular season.

After the two title contenders Kasey Kahne - who is not in the Chase - has earned the most points at 284. That comes in part from five finishes of sixth or better in his last six races.