Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Former NASCAR driver Robby Gordon ready for his 10th Dakar Rally


   Former NASCAR driver Robby Gordon will begin his 10th Dakar Rally in Rosario, Argentina on Sunday as one of 149 international competitors. He will again attempt to become the first American to win the most extreme and demanding motorsports event in the world.  

   Widely regarded as one of the world’s best off-road racers, Gordon’s previous attempts at overall Dakar Rally victory have resulted in an amazing nine stage victories, however, the overall title has eluded him. In 2005, his initial Dakar Rally effort, he become the first American to win a stage in the race which began in 1979.

   Entering its 35th edition, Frenchmen have dominated the Rally, taking 19 overall victories. Finland has produced five race winners, Japan three, Germany two and one each from South Africa, Belgium, Qatar, Spain and Sweden.

   “I feel more prepared than in any of our previous trips to the Dakar Rally,” Gordon said. “Since our first race in 2005, where we accomplished our goal of becoming the first American to win a stage, our focus has been on winning the overall title. I believe with the experience we have, and the new car we have built, this year could be our time.”

Friday, December 27, 2013

What's on tap for Charlotte Motor Speedway in 2014

The 2014 Charlotte Motor Speedway schedule:

March 15
King of the Track
zMAX Dragway

April 3-6
Charlotte Motor Speedway

April 11-13
NHRA Four-Wide Nationals
zMAX Dragway

April 17-20
Ford Mustang 50th Anniversary Event
zMAX Dragway and Charlotte Motor Speedway

April 25-26
TORC Off Road Series
The Dirt Track at Charlotte

May 3-4
Carolina Rebellion
Charlotte Motor Speedway

May 16
North Carolina Education Lottery 200
Charlotte Motor Speedway

May 17
NASCAR Sprint All–Star Race
Charlotte Motor Speedway

May 22
LiftMaster Pole Night
Charlotte Motor Speedway

May 23
May Showdown
The Dirt Track at Charlotte

May 24
Charlotte Motor Speedway

May 25
Coca-Cola 600
Charlotte Motor Speedway

Summer Shootout Series (Race Nights TBD)
Charlotte Motor Speedway

June 7
Hot Rod Power Tour
zMAX Dragway

June 21
Faith, Family and Freedom Concert
zMAX Dragway

August 9
Back-to-School Monster Truck Bash
The Dirt Track at Charlotte

September 11
Laps for Life Blood Drive
Charlotte Motor Speedway

September 12-14
NHRA Carolina Nationals
zMAX Dragway

September 18-21
Charlotte Motor Speedway

October 9
Bojangles’ Pole Night
Charlotte Motor Speedway

Southern Slam 150- NASCAR Southern Modifieds
Charlotte Motor Speedway

October 10
NASCAR Nationwide Series 300
Charlotte Motor Speedway

October 11
Bank of America 500
Charlotte Motor Speedway

October 24-26
Goodguys Southeastern Nationals
Charlotte Motor Speedway

November 6-8
World of Outlaws World Finals
The Dirt Track at Charlotte

Nov. 21-Dec. 30
Speedway Christmas
Charlotte Motor Speedway

November 28
Souvenir Blowout
Charlotte Motor Speedway

*Schedule Subject to Change

For a detailed listing of events and for more information on tickets and pricing, visit www.charlottemotorspeedway.com; or call the speedway’s ticket office at 1-800-455-FANS (3267).

Monday, December 23, 2013

NASCAR alters Sprint Cup Series rules for 2014 Speedweeks

   This was posted to the NASCAR Twitter feed on Monday afternoon:

    NEWS: #NASCAR notified Sprint Cup teams today that the spoiler size for the January DIS test and the 2014 Daytona 500 event week, including the Sprint Unlimited, will be 4.5 inches tall. This is .5 inches taller than previously. NASCAR says the taller spoiler size should allow for a little more rear down force which should make the cars a little more stable.

    As recently as the Charlotte test earlier this month, NASCAR officials had said they expected no changes to the Daytona rules package.

ARCA testing speeds from Daytona

Final ARCA testing speeds from Daytona International Speedway 
Combined Test Results (12-20/21/22-13)
125Justin Boston49.019183.602
215John Wes Townley49.046183.501
388Justin Allison49.053183.475
423ASpencer Gallagher49.057183.460
522ATyler Reddick49.068183.419
655Leilani Munter49.099183.303
735Michael Self49.105183.281
823Scott Sheldon49.152183.105
922Austin Wayne Self49.163183.064
102Thomas Praytor49.206182.905
1139BAlex Guennet49.224182.838
1239AMario Gosselin49.246182.756
1382BJacob Engle49.250182.741
1412Kody Weisner49.268182.674
1522BShannon McIntosh49.270182.667
1612AJared Marks49.276182.645
1777Tom Hessert49.299182.559
1838Clay Rogers49.304182.541
1982ACole Powell49.313182.508
2023BJoey Coulter49.330182.445
2148Sean Corr49.336182.423
2275Benny Chastain49.342182.400
2356Derrick Lancaster49.342182.400
2498Mason Mitchell49.342182.400
2569AWill Kimmel49.346182.386
265Bobby Gerhart49.399182.190
2786Bobby Grewohl49.472181.921
289Chase Elliott49.515181.763
2975BScott Green49.525181.726
3099Buster Graham49.530181.708
312Josh Williams49.543181.660
3240CKelly Admiraal49.613181.404
3397EFriday Hassler Jr49.678181.167
3457Bryan Dauzat49.713181.039
3590Grant Enfinger49.721181.010
3612CTanner Berryhill49.769180.835
3797Dominick Casola49.776180.810
3840BJustin Lloyd49.806180.701
3954Matt Kurzejewski49.854180.527
4011Travis Braden49.854180.527
4168Michael Lira49.907180.335
4269BChris Bailey Jr49.928180.260
4340ARick Clifton49.939180.220
445BScott Hubler49.961180.141
4557AAndy Seuss49.962180.137
465BScott Edwards49.982180.065
4754Mark Thompson50.004179.986
4832Mason Mingus50.015179.946
4940GMark Meunier50.024179.914
5032John Hunter Nemechek50.036179.870
5140Josh Reeves50.061179.781
5232Terry Jones50.120179.569
5340EAlx Danielsson50.141179.494
5457ADoug Barnes Jr50.229179.179
555cJacob Severen50.256179.083
5697DJami Weimer50.259179.072
575AMichael Lia50.269179.037
5839Darin Matthews50.331178.816
595ACasey Hillenburg50.460178.359
6069EBrian Finney50.484178.274
6169CSara Elrod50.496178.232
6240DJosh White50.509178.186
6311BDave Darland50.554178.027
6497BKris Martin50.618177.802
6597BJerry Tunney50.683177.574
6610BEd Pompa50.739177.378
6710Ethan McMillian50.766177.284
683BTim Viens50.805177.148
6910ARichard Doheny50.886176.866
7011ADan Fredrickson50.903176.807
717Brent Cross51.107176.101
723AKevin Powell51.110176.091
7310CTyler Speer51.117176.067
7497AAndrew Portter51.205175.764
753Sarah Cornett-Ching51.242175.637
763CKarl Weber51.274175.528
7797CDavid Sear52.730170.681
7812BRachel Marks53.901166.973

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Check out Danica Patrick as you've never seen her before

   Danica Patrick, now a fulltime driver in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, has made a name for herself over the years doing commercials for her sponsor, GoDaddy.com, particularly those aired during the Super Bowl. No doubt this one will leave people talking as well.

Brian Vickers gets a new crew chief for 2014 NASCAR season


   Michael Waltrip Racing announced Thursday that Billy Scott will serve as driver Brian Vickers’ crew chief on the No. 55 Aaron’s Dream Machine Toyota in the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup season. Scott has served as lead engineer for the team the past two seasons.

   “Billy was the unanimous selection by everyone here at MWR including the crew, drivers, and ownership,” said team co-owner Michael Waltrip. “We feel like engineering is one of our strongest assets and with that type of talent in house it was easy to promote from within. Billy has earned this opportunity because he has helped develop and refine the engineering tools that we use every day to make our cars faster.”

   Scott, 36, began racing motorcycles as a 5-year-old and stock cars when he turned 15. He worked in the Truck series as a mechanic before he returned to college to obtain an engineering degree. After graduating in 2005 Scott worked at Robert Yates Racing and began as an engineer at MWR in 2008.

   “I’m honored, but I also know this is a big responsibility,” said Scott on the announcement. “We have very high expectations for the Aaron’s Dream Machine in 2014. Brian has been incredible to work with and is a winner, so we can’t wait to get 2014 started.”

   Scott Miller, who took over as crew chief on the No. 55 when Rodney Childers left the organization, will return to his previous duties as MWR’s executive vice president of competition.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Ken Schrader Racing hires Martinsville (Va.) Speedway president as driver


   Ken Schrader Racing will field a fulltime entry in 2014 in the Automobile Racing Club of America series and owner Ken Schrader has hired Martinsville (Va.) Speedway president Clay Campbell to drive two races for the team.

   Schrader will drive the No. 52 Federated Auto Parts car in 10 races, while Matt Tifft, of Hinckley, Ohio, will be behind the wheel of the No. 52 for eight events. 

   Campbell will drive the No. 52 Federated Auto Parts car in the Feb. 15 series season opener at Daytona International Speedway and the May 3 event at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway.

   Campbell, a 25-year veteran of NASCAR’s Late Model series, raced at Daytona and Talladega in 2013. Since 2011, Campbell also has competed whenever possible in NASCAR’s K&N Pro Series East.

   “Growing up in this sport like I have, obviously, I’ve known Ken Schrader and followed his career for a long time and have tremendous respect for him,” Campbell said. “To now drive for him in the Federated Auto Parts No. 52 is really a highlight of my life.

    "Ken loves racing and has a passion for it just like I do. He knows both sides of this business by being a driver as well as a track owner. I’m the same way, just the exact opposite."

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

NASCAR delivers 2014 competition rules package to teams

   Press release

   NASCAR delivered the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series rules package to race teams today, following collaborative development by the industry.

   “It was important to get the final pieces of the rules package to teams as quickly as possible following the final tests last week,” said Gene Stefanyshyn, NASCAR vice president of innovation and racing development. “Throughout the process, we gained valuable data that informed many of the changes for 2014. This data will prove useful as we continue to evolve the racing product into the future.”

   Changes to the package include statically setting the race car ride height and eliminating the pre- and post-race front height rules and inspections. Additionally, the 2014 package includes a square leading edge on the splitter, side skirt and rear fascia adjustments and an eight-inch rear spoiler. Finally, a 43-inch by 13-inch radiator pan will round out changes for 2014.

   “We looked at a number of important factors when finalizing what the 2014 version of the race package will look like,” Stefanyshyn said. “The Gen-6 car has been a great asset to our sport. As we continue to improve and develop the racing product, we’ll rely significantly on the critical data that has been generated by the entire industry over the last several weeks. We’re extremely appreciative of those efforts.”

   The first race featuring the new package will be at Phoenix International Raceway on March 2. This package will not be utilized for restrictor-plate races, including the 2014 Daytona 500 on Feb. 23.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Bill France Sr.'s great-grandson will be a fulltime NASCAR driver in 2014

   Team release 

   MOORESVILLE, N.C. (December 16, 2013) – Turner Scott Motorsports is pleased to announce the addition of Ben Kennedy to its 2014 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series roster. 

   The 21-year-old will drive a fulltime campaign while competing for Sunoco Rookie of the Year honors behind the wheel of the No. 31 Chevrolet Silverado. Michael Shelton, who led the No. 31 team to TSM’s first championship in 2012 with driver James Buescher, will continue his role atop the pit box. 

   Kennedy made his NCWTS debut for TSM in 2013, earning a best finish of fourth at Martinsville Speedway. Kennedy, who began his racing career on the short tracks of central Florida, has Pro-Truck championship titles at both Orlando Speedworld and New Smyrna Speedway, which he earned in 2009, followed by the Super Late Model championship at Orlando Speedworld in 2010. 

   The great-grandson of NASCAR founder Bill France, Sr., Kennedy made his touring series debut in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East in 2010. In 2013, he finished fourth points standings on the strength of two wins, one pole, three top-five and nine top-10 finishes in addition to being crowned as the series’ Most Popular Driver. The Daytona Beach, Fla. native is also completing his sports management degree at the University of Florida.

   "I’m really excited about the opportunity to be in Turner Scott Motorsports’ No. 31 truck for 2014 and to be able to work alongside Michael Shelton and a very talented crew,” said Kennedy.

   “It will be a great year and I hope to really learn a lot in the series and compete for wins and Rookie of the Year. It’s going to be a blast to work with such great people; I can’t thank everyone I’ve worked with in the past enough for getting me to this point in my career. A big ‘thank you’ to all my fans for always sticking behind me.”

What were Joe Gibbs Racing's Top 5 NASCAR moments of 2013?


   Joe Gibbs Racing decided to rank its own Top 5 moments of the 2013 NASCAR season.

   Here's its list:

   1. Matt Kenseth's first win with JGR, at Las Vegas in March.

   2. Darrell Wallace Jr.'s first NASCAR victory, which came in the fall Truck series race at Martinsville, Va.

   3. Kyle Busch takes sponsor Interstate Batteries to Victory Lane at Texas in April.

   4. Denny Hamlin wins the Sprint Cup Series season finale race at Homestead, Fla.

   5. JGR drivers finish 1-2-3-5 in the Nationwide Series race at Darlington, S.C.

   To see a video tribute to each moment created by JGR go here.

Friday, December 13, 2013

James Buescher is changing teams and NASCAR series in 2014


   RAB Racing announced on Friday it had signed 2012 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion James Buescher to a multi-year deal to compete fulltime in the NASCAR Nationwide Series in the No. 99 Toyota.

   Buescher has competed fulltime in the Truck series the past three seasons with Turner Scott Motorsports, winning the title in 2012. Buescher also won the 2012 Nationwide series season opener at Daytona.

   "My first couple of years in NASCAR have been a dream come true, and I can't thank Turner Scott Motorsports enough for the opportunity they have given me to develop my skills," said Buescher. "I am very excited to be able to take the next step in my career, and I couldn't be more thrilled about the opportunity that RAB Racing is giving me to run full time in the Nationwide Series.

   "I am really excited to get back behind the wheel of a Toyota and I am looking forward to driving their cars next year.  RAB Racing is a solid organization with great people; I can't wait to get to work with them."

   Buescher will have veteran crew chief Chris Rice on top of the pitbox for the 2014 season. In 2013, Rice, lead the No. 99 team to two poles, two top-five and six top-10 finishes.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Gil Martin talks about crew chiefing the No. 3 car and Austin Dillon


    Gil Martin, who most recently served as crew chief for Kevin Harvick in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, was officially named Wednesday as crew chief for 2014 Cup rookie Austin Dillon, who will drive the No. 3 Chevrolet for Richard Childress Racing.

   Martin talked about his newest role at RCR:

   "Since I came to RCR in 2000 I've worn many hats since I've been there and I've had the opportunity to be in all kinds of different and successful situations," he said. "I have to say this is probably the most excited I've been since I've been there for the simple that I've watched Austin since he was probably eight years old - go karts, Bandaleros, Legends cars.

   "What an awesome talent. He's won championships through all of that. To get to be a part of watching where he's going to go in the Cup series is a tremendous thing for me. I'm really excited about it. I want to thank Richard for letting me be a part of it."

Monday, December 9, 2013

NASCAR postpones scheduled test Monday at Charlotte Motor Speedway

   Due to rain Monday and another bad forecast for Tuesday as well, NASCAR has postponed its planned Sprint Cup Series test at Charlotte Motor Speedway until Wednesday.

   The test will now run 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Wednesday. Between 20 to 30 teams are planning to participate as NASCAR tests new ideas to help make the improve the racing on 1.5-mile speedways.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Blizzard: Chase Elliott DQ'd from Snowball Derby; Erik Jones wins

   Hendrick Motorsports development driver Chase Elliott appeared to become the first driver in history to win both the Snowflake 100 and the Snowball Derby at Five Flags Speedway in Pensacola, Fla., on Sunday.

   That was until post-race inspection was completed.

   Elliott was disqualified from the Snowball Derby for having a prohibited tungsten part on his car. Runner-up Erik Jones, who won last season's Snowball Derby, was named the winner. Elliott was relegated to last place in the running order.

   Elliott, the 18-year-old son of former NASCAR Cup series champion Bill Elliott, started from the pole in both events. He won the Snowflake 100 on Saturday for the third consecutive season, a record.

   Here are the official results.

46th Annual Snowball Derby Results
Finish, car number, driver

1 51J Erik Jones            
2 90 Grant Enfinger            
3 29T Austin Theriault          
4 18 Hunter Robbins          
5 8 John Nemechek         
6 11 David Rogers            
7 71 Kyle Benjamin            
8 25 Ross Kenseth            
9 12 Derek Thorn            
10 2W Donnie Wilson            
11 29C Landon Cassill            
12 96 Ben Kennedy            
13 42 Chad Finley            
14 21 Cale Gale            
15 99 Casey Smith            
16 10 Johanna Long            
17 7 Paul Shafer Jr.           
18 22 Jeremy Pate         
19 45 Clay Rogers         
20 98 Daniel Hemric          
21 51N Stephen Nasse        
22 49 Josh Hamner           
23 15 Mason Massey          
24 129 Spencer Davis         
25 29B Anderson Bowen      
26 11 Logan Boyett          
27 91 Zac Hausler         
28 77 David Ragan         
29 98 Mason Mingus         
30 26 Bubba Pollard         
31 74 Preston Peltier          
32 14 Chris Davidson          
33 41 T.J. Reaid            
34 53 Boris  Jurkovic            
35 1 Mike Garvey            
36 112 Augie Grill            

37 9 Chase Elliott  

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Surprise! Dale Jr. is NASCAR's most popular again


   On Thursday, Dale Earnhardt Jr. was announced as the 2013 NMPA NASCAR Most Popular Driver at the Myers Brothers Awards Luncheon in Las Vegas.

    It's the 11th straight year that Junior has won the award, a NASCAR record. He was tied with Bill Elliott for the most consecutive wins in a row.

    Elliott won the award from 1991 through 2000. Elliott is also the last driver outside of Earnhardt Jr. to win the award, having done so in 2002. (In 2001, the year he died at Daytona, Dale Earnhardt Sr. won the award.)

    Final order of vote totals:
    1. D. Earnhardt Jr.
    2. Kasey Kahne
    3. Jeff Gordon
    4. Tony Stewart
    5. Danica Patrick
    6. Jimmie Johnson
    7. Kevin Harvick
    8. Matt Kenseth
    9. Kyle Busch
    10. Carl Edwards.

Changes made to NASCAR Hall of Fame nomination and eligibility rules

   Summary of changes made to NASCAR Hall of Fame nomination and eligibility rules:

   Driver Eligibility  
   -Drivers who have competed for a minimum of 10 years and reached their 55th birthday on or before Dec. 31 of the year prior to the nominating year are immediately eligible for the NHOF. Also, any competitor who has competed for 30 or more years in NASCAR competition by Dec. 31 of the year prior to the nominating year is automatically eligible, regardless of age. 

    Nominating Committee Will Select Five Fewer Nominees for Enshrinement
   -Throughout its history, the NHOF Nominating Committee has selected 25 nominees each year to be discussed and voted on for NHOF enshrinement. That number will be reduced to 20 starting with the selection process for the 2015 class.

    Landmark Award for Outstanding Contributions to NASCAR
   -Beginning with the 2015 class, a new award – Landmark Award for Outstanding Contributions to NASCAR – will be initiated to honor significant contributions to the growth and esteem of NASCAR. 

   Nominating Committee to Meet, Vote on 20 NHOF Nominees / Five Landmark Award Nominees
   -For the first time, the Nominating Committee will meet in person to discuss, debate and vote to create two ballots – the NHOF ballot and the Landmark Award for Outstanding Contributions to NASCAR ballot. The Nominating Committee will meet during Speedweeks at Daytona on Friday, Feb. 21, 2014.

    Nominees To Be Recused From the Nominating / Voting Process
   -Any member of the Nominating Committee or Voting Panel who appeared on the previous year’s ballot or current year’s ballot will now be recused from participating in the nominating and / or voting process for as long as he / she appears on the ballot. 

    Reigning NASCAR Sprint Cup Champion Added To Voting Panel
   -As was already announced on Nov. 14 at Homestead-Miami Speedway during the annual NASCAR Championship Contenders Press Conference, the reigning NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion will be added to the following year’s voting panel.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Dakoda Armstrong joins Richard Petty Motorsports for 2014 season


   Richard Petty Motorsports announced on Wednesday it has signed 22-year-old Dakoda Armstrong, who will drive the organization's No. 43 Ford Mustang in the NASCAR Nationwide Series next season.

   Armstrong signed a multi-year contract with RPM. WinFieldTM, Armstrong's primary sponsor during his tenure with Turn One Racing and Richard Childress Racing, will continue its sponsorship of the driver for the majority of the 2014 season; Fresh From Florida will sponsor the remaining three races.

   The team's current crew chief, Philippe Lopez, will remain in the same role with Armstrong, who finished 12th in the Truck series standings this season.

   Michael Annett most recently drove the No. 43 in the Nationwide Series but will move to the Sprint Cup Series in 2014 with Tommy Baldwin Racing.