Saturday, November 30, 2013

No Tony Stewart at the NASCAR banquet, but he's still going 'live'

   Three-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Tony Stewart will host a special edition of his show "Tony Stewart Live" on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio on Tuesday, December 3 (7-9 pm/ET), at the start of NASCAR Champions Week.

    Stewart and co-host Matt Yocum will broadcast live from Charlotte where they will review the year that was in NASCAR. Stewart will share his thoughts on the most memorable moments of the year on the track and off, talk live with 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson about his sixth career title, and discuss Stewart-Haas Racing's prospects for 2014 and his recovery from the accident that sidelined him earlier this year.

    Fans can call in to the show to talk live with Stewart and Yocum (1-800-PIT-LANE) or share their thoughts on the season by tweeting @SiriusXMNASCAR and using hashtag #TSL.

Friday, November 29, 2013

A slew of NASCAR celebrities' cars on display this weekend in Davidson

   Hundreds of classic, custom, and celebrity cars will roll into the Ingersoll Rand corporate campus in Davidson, N.C. on Saturday, Nov. 30 of Thanksgiving weekend for the inaugural AmeriCarna LIVE Car Show presented by Ingersoll Rand and MSC Industrial Supply Co.

   A celebrity car show to support IGNITE, a new community center in Davidson for young adults with high functioning autism (HFA) or Asperger's Syndrome (AS). IGNITE, founded by former championship crew chief Ray Evernham, offers activities, skills training, and educational workshops that will foster social, financial, educational, and employment independence for its members.

   The featured cars include:
   · Dale Earnhardt Jr. - 1977 Oldsmobile Cutlass 442
   · Tony Stewart – 1956 Chevrolet Custom Pickup Truck
   · Jimmie Johnson – 1967 Chevrolet Camaro
   · Kasey Kahne – Sprint car driven by Daryn Pittman that won the 2013 World of Outlaws Championship
   · Rusty Wallace – 1978 Chevrolet Corvette
   · Jeff Gordon – 2013 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1
   · Rick Hendrick – 1970 Chevrolet Chevelle SS
   · Ray Evernham – 1940 Ford Moonshine Car, 1964 Plymouth Belvedere Fury, 1969 Dodge Daytona Charger, Marty Robbins’ 1964 Plymouth Late Model Belvedere Fury

   Some of the celebrity owners, including Evernham and Rusty Wallace, will attend the event. The celebrity car show also will feature live music from local bands. Other event features include silent auction, local food vendors, and activity area for kids.

   The car show is open to the public from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Spectator admission is $5 per person. The car show awards will be presented at approximately 2:30 p.m. 

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Talladega Superspeedway cutting capacity to 80,000 in 2014

   Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway, which once boasted some of the largest crowds to see NASCAR races, will see its seating capacity reduced to approximately 80,000 seats by next season, tracks officials confirmed on Wednesday.

    The largest change will come from the recent demolition of the Allison Grandstands, a large swath of seats located on the backstretch of the 2.66-mile speedway which had a seating capacity this season of 18,000.

    In recent seasons, many of the track’s frontstretch seats have been tarped over while the speedway still sold tickets - usually at lower price - for the backstretch.

    “The changes are simply a reflection of our current attendance trends,” track spokesman Russell Branham told The Observer. “The goal will be a better fan experience and that will be entirely on the frontstretch from now on.”

    As recently as 2007, track attendance estimates had more than 307,000 fans attending Talladega’s two Sprint Cup Series race weekends. At the time, the track’s listed capacity was 147,000 grandstand seats. This season, the track’s listed capacity was listed at 109,000.

    In the coming months, Talladega will make several additional improvements to the frontstretch, including better sightlines and upgrades to its Sprint Vision capabilities - the portable giant TVs which provide closeups and replays to fans in attendance.

    While the grandstands named after the Allison family are gone, the track will unveil a special tribute to the family and the “Alabama Gang” in the coming months.

    “The Allison family and Alabama Gang have always been a part of our Talladega family and they always will,” Branham said.

    The move by Talladega and its parent company, International Speedway Corp., is the latest by several tracks to reduce capacity while also improving the fan experience for those in attendance.

    Daytona International Speedway is currently in the midst of a two-year renovation project which will reduce capacity and vastly improve the comforts of its primary frontstretch seating area. Other tracks, such as Phoenix, have reduced capacity in recent seasons because of attendance declines.

Sprint Cup Awards to be a little bit country, little bit rock 'n roll


   Musicians John Mellencamp, Dierks Bentley and Sara Bareilles will take the stage, and comedian, actor and radio personality Jay Mohr will host this year's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Awards at the Wynn Las Vegas.

   The event will begin at 8 p.m. ET on Friday, Dec. 6, and will crown six-time Cup series champion Jimmie Johnson and honor the remaining top 10 drivers in this season's Chase for the Cup. The event will air on FOX Sports 2 and beginning at 9 p.m. ET, with Motor Racing Network and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio also providing coverage starting at 8 p.m. ET.

   “It may be just a coincidence, but I hosted the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Awards in 2006 when Jimmie Johnson won the first of his five straight titles,” said Mohr. “Now, I’m back again to officially crown him champion for a sixth time."

   To get the night started, NASCAR fans will be treated to a special performance by John Mellencamp. With 22 top 40 hits to his credit, Mellencamp has been nominated for 13 Grammy Awards. Later in the evening, Dierks Bentley, one of contemporary country music’s biggest stars, keeps his NASCAR performance streak rolling following his act at the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Additionally, three-time Grammy-nominated singer, songwriter and pianist Sara Bareilles will perform a song from her fourth studio album, The Blessed Unrest.

   The 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Awards will re-air on FOX Sports 1 at noon ET on Sunday, Dec. 8.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Hey, Mr. DJ ... Jimmie Johnson ?

   The 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champion Jimmie Johnson, shortly after winning his sixth career title, was in the SiriusXM studios in New York for a guest DJ session on SiriusXM’s The Spectrum channel.

   Johnson's song selections will begin airing Wednesday, Nov. 27, at noon ET on The Spectrum (SiriusXM channel 28) and can be heard throughout the Thanksgiving holiday and through Friday, Nov. 29

   Johnson’s playlist includes songs from a wide variety of artists including: Bob Dylan, Imagine Dragons, Jack Johnson, Jane’s Addiction, The Lumineers and The Rolling Stones.

Monday, November 25, 2013

JTG Daugherty changes manufacturers, joins alliance with RCR


   JTG Daugherty Racing not only has a new driver for its Sprint Cup Series team next season, but it will change manufacturers as well.

   On Monday, the team announced it had joined in a technical alliance with Richard Childress Racing that will include receiving ECR Engines and engineering services during the 2014 Cup season with driver A.J. Allmendinger behind the wheel of its No. 47 entry. The alliance will include JTG Daugherty moving to the Chevrolet camp from Toyota.

   "We certainly appreciate all the support that TRD (Toyota Racing Development) has provided to JTG Daugherty Racing for five years and we are great fans of their business model,” team co-owner Tad Geschickter said. "As a single-car team, we feel that aligning directly with a successful multi-car organization like Richard Childress Racing is what will work best for us in 2014."

   After nearly 15 years of success in the Nationwide Series, JTG Daugherty Racing ventured into the Cup series with driver Marcos Ambrose at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in July 2008. Most recently, former Cup champion Bobby Labonte served as the team's driver.

   Allmendinger drove a handful of races for the team in 2013 and will be its fulltime driver in 2014. "With our RCR alliance and A.J. behind the wheel, we are looking forward to a fresh start in 2014,” Geschickter said.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Will Donovan McNabb accept this racing challenge?


   Press release

    MILLVILLE, N.J. – Last week on Fox Sports 1, former Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb riled NASCAR fans, and the motorsports community at-large, by saying drivers aren’t athletes.

    McNabb was asked to rank the most dominant athletes over the last decade; when asked about now six-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson, he said “Do I think he’s an athlete? Absolutely not,” McNabb said.

   “He’s not an athlete,” he continued. “[Johnson] sits and a car and drives. That’s not athletic. What athletically is he doing?”

   Now, New Jersey Motorsports Park would like to offer McNabb a chance to experience the vocation first-hand, with a “Day in the Life” of a driver.

   “We’d like to have Donovan visit NJMP and learn a bit about what goes into being a driver – the training, the skills necessary – just the whole package,” said Brad Scott, New Jersey Motorsports Park general manager/COO. “It’ll give him the opportunity to gain some first-hand experience as far as what being a driver is all about.”

   The Park is looking to reach out to a member of McNabb’s representation team to discuss the potential experience.

    New Jersey Motorsports Park, located in Millville, has hosted the Grand-Am Rolex Sportscar Series, GEICO Motorcycle AMA Pro Road Racing, and the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards. In addition to the two world-class road courses on the property, the renowned F1 Karting facility offers eight dramatic configurations, over a mile in total length.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

East Carolina Motor Speedway joins NASCAR


   East Carolina Motor Speedway and NASCAR announced Saturday night that the Robersonville, N.C., track will join the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series for 2014.

   The .375-mile high-banked paved tri-oval will feature NASCAR Late Model Stock cars as its premier division, and will be the only Friday night NASCAR Whelen All-American Series track in North Carolina.

   The track is located in eastern North Carolina, about 90 miles east of Raleigh, N.C., or 20 miles north of Greenville, N.C. It is owned by Wayne Perry and operated by his son, track president Chris Perry.
   “East Carolina Motor Speedway is a perfect fit for the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series,” said Bob Duvall, NASCAR senior director, business development. “Wayne and Chris Perry are committed to providing a home for great Friday night racing and family entertainment.”
   Established in 1982, the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series is NASCAR’s national championship program for weekly short track auto racing. More than 50 paved and dirt tracks throughout the United States and Canada participate.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Donovan McNabb goes 'all in' on drivers-aren't-athletes comments

   Former NFL quarterback Donovan McNabb went one-on-one with Mike Hill on Fox Sports during a segment of "Keep it Real with Mike Hill" and repeated and defended his assertion that NASCAR drivers aren't athletes, although he tried to claim his comments weren't directed specifically to Jimmie Johnson.

   The discussion of the Johnson comments begins at the 3:10 mark of the video.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

NASCAR driver Clint Bowyer is in the hunt ... for mountain lions

   NASCAR driver, Clint Bowyer, joins Tom McMillan on an exciting Arizona hunt for mountain lion – North America’s biggest cat. After a long hunting season, Tom pursues a life-long dream of hunting lions with his buddy Clint Bowyer. How will these Kansas guys fair? Tune in and find out the details on this week’s "Meet the McMillans," airing on Sportsman Channel on Sunday, Nov. 24 at 8:30 p.m. ET/PT.

    McMillan and Bowyer share a passion for adventure as they navigate through the rugged Arizona terrain, but their confidence is shaken as they close in on some deadly prey. “Mountain lions can be pretty unpredictable,” admitted McMillan, host of Meet the McMillans. “There’s always a possibility of something going wrong if we don’t get the right shot.”

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Guess who in NASCAR bumped up ESPN SportsCenter's ratings?


   The first athlete ever to guest host ESPN’s flagship news and information program "SportsCenter" also brought some added viewers to the show.

   Six-time NASCAR Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson was guest host on the 6 p.m. ET SportsCenter on Tuesday, Nov. 19, and the special edition of the program earned a 0.7 U.S. household rating - 17 percent higher than the 0.6 average rating for the Tuesday program so far this fall.
   Viewership was up 22 percent with an average of 931,021 tuned in during the one-hour program. The average so far this fall for the 6 p.m. program on Tuesdays has been 760,448.
   Johnson joined regular anchors John Anderson and Lindsay Czarniak and performed all of the duties of a SportsCenter host, including presenting news and highlights and conducting interviews. During the show, Johnson interviewed Oklahoma football coach Bob Stoops and Boston Red Sox catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia, and asked questions of ESPN NFL analyst Tedy Bruschi. He also narrated a NASCAR-themed “Not Top 10” list.
   Johnson was only the third celebrity to guest host in the program’s 34-year history, joining actors Billy Crystal and Ken Jeong. 


Sports car testing halted at Daytona because of airborne wrecks

   Statement from International Motor Sports Association:

   DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Nov. 20, 2013) – Officials from the International Motor Sports Association (IMSA) and Continental Tire have jointly decided to suspend on-track testing of TUDOR United SportsCar Championship Prototype (P)  and Prototype Challenge (PC) race cars after issues were discovered during testing at Daytona International Speedway on Tuesday.

   MSA and Continental Tire are analyzing the situation and working toward a solution. On-track testing will continue at Daytona on Wednesday for the GT Le Mans (GTLM) and GT Daytona (GTD) classes. On-track testing of the DeltaWing DWC13 prototype – which utilizes a unique tire and technical package – will also continue as scheduled.

   Coverage of the incidents can be found here.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

U.S. Rep. Robert Pittenger congratulates Jimmie Johnson

   WASHINGTON – On Sunday, Ninth District resident Jimmie Johnson won the NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship, his sixth championship in just eight years.

   “Jimmie Johnson is a remarkable race car driver, but I’m even more impressed with his work off the track,” commented Congressman Robert Pittenger (NC-09). “Since 2006, the Jimmie Johnson Foundation has contributed more than $5 million to charity, with a special focus on improving K-12 education in North Carolina, Oklahoma, and California.

   “Jimmie Johnson is a champion both on and off the track, and while his racing exploits will one day be memorialized in the NASCAR Hall of Fame, his quiet, off-the-track efforts to improve education will be his most significant, lasting legacy.”

   Congressman Pittenger will soon give a speech on the House floor to honor Jimmie Johnson’s community involvement, and also plans to extend an invitation to Jimmie Johnson and his No. 48 Lowe’s team to attend a special Congressional reception in honor of their championship season.

Monday, November 18, 2013

It's official: Jamie McMurray has a new crew chief

   Earnhardt Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates (EGR) announced Monday that Keith Rodden has been named crew chief for Jamie McMurray and the No. 1 Chevrolet SS. Rodden will assume the role effective immediately to prepare for the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season. 

   The Observer first reported the crew chief change on Nov. 5.

   "We are very happy to get a crew chief that is the caliber of Keith,” said EGR owner Chip Ganassi. “He brings a lot of great experience with him to our organization. We are building the foundation for what we believe will be long-term success in our NASCAR operation and Keith fits into those plans perfectly. I look forward to having him in the organization and leading the No. 1 team.”

   Rodden joins EGR from Hendrick Motorsports where he was most recently in the role of lead engineer for the No. 5 Chevy and driver Kasey Kahne. In his two seasons as the lead engineer on the No. 5, the team won four races and made the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup in both seasons.

   “I am excited and appreciative for this opportunity and can’t wait to be just a small piece of an excellent team that Earnhardt Ganassi Racing is building,” said Rodden. “Chip has quality people and is also building great race cars. This team has shown that they can win races and compete at the highest level of this sport and I look forward to working with Jamie and everyone on the team as we work to prepare for the 2014 season.”

Forget NASCAR history, Jimmie Johnson is set to make TV history

   Newly crowned six-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson will become the first athlete to guest host ESPN’s flagship news and information program "SportsCenter."

   Johnson will join regular anchors John Anderson and Lindsay Czarniak for the 6 p.m. ET show on Tuesday, Nov. 19, on ESPN.

   Billy Crystal and Ken Jeong are the only other celebrity guest hosts of SportsCenter in the show’s 34-year history. Crystal was the first in 2012 and Jeong hosted earlier this month on Nov. 1.

   “We’re always looking for opportunities to change it up and give SportsCenter viewers a different take on the day’s news, have some fun and do some memorable television,” said Jack Obringer, SportsCenter senior coordinating producer. “And having a six-time champion like Jimmie Johnson on your set is pretty cool.”

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Interest high in entitlement sponsorship of NASCAR Nationwide Series

   NASCAR is receiving high interest in the entitlement sponsorship of its Nationwide Series including several familiar companies already involved in the sport.

   Nationwide Insurance Co., which is in its sixth season sponsoring NASCAR's No. 2 series, announced in September that next season will be its last in that role. The company is expanding its presence in NASCAR and will sponsor a car in the premier Sprint Cup Series.

   Subway, KFC and Dunkin' Donuts were all companies involved the last time the series sponsorship became open, several sources confirmed to The Observer.

   In addition to companies that previously expressed interest, others involved include existing NASCAR sponsorship "partners;" as well new brands in specific categories that cater to NASCAR's target demographics, such as an auto parts chains, quality service restaurants and technology and innovation companies, sources said.

   "The NASCAR Nationwide Series is one of the smartest and most effective spends in all of sports,” NASCAR chief sales officer's Jim O'Connell, said in a statement provided to The Observer.

   "We expect there to be very strong interest in this entitlement position and are highly confident a great replacement will be found."

   NASCAR officials hope to have an announcement made of the new series sponsor sometime next year.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

NASCAR's explanation for not throwing red flag in Saturday's race

   Rather than display the red flag and bring Saturday's Ford 300 NASCAR Nationwide Series season finale to a halt, NASCAR elected to keep the race under caution for 12 laps while it cleaned up a three-car wreck that began on Lap 184 of 200.

   With so few laps left in the race, NASCAR has many times displayed the red flag to preserve as much of the race as possible.

   After Saturday's race, Robin Pemberton, NASCAR's vice president of competition was asked why no red flag was used. Here was his response:

   "It really looked like it was going to be a typical clean-up, a typical wreck. You know, you had two cars that had a lot of damage and both of them dumped quite a bit of oil. There was no need to throw a red. We felt like we could get it in normal lap segment of that. You know, unfortunately there was a lot of oil – it looked like it kept either seeping back up out of the race track or whatever from the car that was on the outside of the wall. And you know, we went one to go a handful of times trying to get back racing as soon as we can, but you know, when you’re in situations like that the most important thing is getting the track race ready. You know, you can look at you can use your hindsight every chance that you want to, but in this particular time we did the best we could to do and it was more important to get the track ready."

Yes, Donovan McNabb said Jimmie Johnson is 'absolutely not' an athlete

   The video speaks for itself, but Fox Sports Live guest Donovan McNabb said Friday night that five-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson was 'absolutely not' an athlete.

   Needless to say the remarks did not go over well among the NASCAR fan base.

   And Saturday morning, Johnson himself weighed in on his Twitter account: "I choose to be respectful. There is way too much venom spewed these days."

Friday, November 15, 2013

Who thinks Jimmie Johnson will reach eight NASCAR championships?


   Jimmie Johnson is very close to earning his sixth Sprint Cup Series championship, which he can do in Sunday's Ford 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

    That would put him one away from tying the record of seven which is held by Richard Petty and the late Dale Earnhardt.
   Some might be surprised who is among the group who thinks Johnson will have no trouble setting the new record in NASCAR - Petty himself.
   "They’ve shown (they are capable) in the past," Petty said Friday. "If you look back and look at how long Petty Enterprises lasted and won championships and won races for a lot of years, right now and from the beginning of racing the Hendrick operation is the only one that’s done that good and lasted that long to compete with what they did with Petty Enterprises."

Thursday, November 14, 2013

NASCAR Hall of Fame selection process, eligibility to change


   NASCAR spokesman Brett Jewkes announced during Thursday's press conference with this season's NASCAR championship contenders that there will be "significant changes" made to the NASCAR Hall of Fame selection process and eligibility requirements.

    The changes will be formally announced during Champions Week next month at Las Vegas.

    However, Jewkes did unveil one change on Thursday.

    "As we meet to select the 2015 Hall of Fame class this May, NASCAR will become the first major sport to include a current competitor on the voting panel," he said. "Moving forward, the reigning Sprint Cup Series champion will have a vote for the NASCAR Hall of Fame."

NASCAR rising star Ryan Blaney to return to Trucks in 2014

   NASCAR rising star Ryan Blaney, who won his first Nationwide Series race earlier this season with Penske Racing, will return as a fulltime driver in the NASCAR Truck Series in 2014 with Brad Keselowski Racing.

    BKR made the announcement on Thursday while also noting that sponsor Cooper Standard had signed a contract extension to remain primary sponsor of Blaney's No. 29 Ford.

    Blaney, 19, has won a Truck series race with BKR in each of the last two seasons and won the Nationwide Series race at Kentucky in June.
With one Truck race left this season, he is sixth in the series standings.

    Blaney is the son of NASCAR veteran Dave Blaney.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

What did Matt Kenseth's crew chief find inspiring in Sunday's race?

   On Tuesday, Jason Ratliff, crew chief for NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Matt Kenseth, was asked about how calm and collected Kenseth appeared to be following what was likely one of his more disappointing days at the race track this season.

   Kenseth finished 23rd at Phoenix and has fallen 28 points behind Jimmie Johnson with just one race remaining. In the hours after the race, Ratliff was able to find something inspiring.

   Let him explain:

    "It was something that after I was away from the racetrack for a few hours thinking about, okay, what could we do better, how can we prevent those types of days from happening, especially in these types of situations where we're battling for championships, the one thing that struck me - after I was away from it for a little bit, that I was most impressed with was exactly what you just mentioned, and that is how Matt is able to keep his composure, and even though I know he's in that car just ready to chew the steering wheel off the thing because I know he's frustrated as the rest of it, he's as competitive as the rest of us, very disappointed, had high expectations going into Phoenix, and we still do going into Homestead," Ratliff said.

   "But he was very rational, even though he's disappointed. He keeps his composure and does a really nice job of putting things into perspective. I think a lot of that, again, is from his experience, but at the same time I think that's Matt's personality. I think he takes things in and thinks through them very well, and in the end he knows that nothing positive is going to come from me getting out of the car and stomping my feet, even though that's really what I want to do. So how do we take this situation, pull something positive from it, learn from it so we can be better in the future?

   "That was something for me as a crew chief, I've worked with a lot of different drivers, and that's something that was very inspiring for me as well as this race team. When you have a driver like that, I mean, that leads by example with that type of composure in the midst of adversity, it just goes a long way, you know."


Former Daytona 500 winner Trevor Bayne diagnosed with multiple sclerosis

   Former Daytona 500 winner Trevor Bayne, who is competing fulltime in NASCAR’s Nationwide Series this season, has been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.

   MS is an autoimmune disease that affects the brain and spinal cord that can produce a wide range of signs and symptoms including both physical and mental and varying in degree.
   “I’ve never been more driven to compete,” Bayne said in a statement released Tuesday. “My goals are the same as they’ve been since I started racing. I want to compete at the highest level and I want to win races and championships. I am in the best shape I’ve ever been in and I feel good,” added Bayne.
   “There are currently no symptoms and I’m committed to continuing to take the best care of my body as possible. I will continue to trust in God daily and know that His plan for me is what is best."

   Bayne, who won the 2011 Daytona 500 while driving part-time for the Wood Brothers, was sidelined for over two months later that season with various symptoms, including nausea, fatigue and blurred vision.

   Bayne began feeling better after he received treatment for Lyme, a bacterial infection spread through the bite of the black-legged tick. He missed several races while undergoing multiple tests last summer and doctors searched for a cause.

   In January 2012, Bayne told reporters doctors believed he had contracted Lyme disease from an insect bite.

   Bayne returned to racing in June 2011 after missing five races and won the Nationwide race at Texas Motor Speedway on Nov. 5 of that season.

   Last season, Bayne ran partial schedules in both the Nationwide and Cup series. This year, he returned to a fulltime ride in Nationwide and with one race remaining this season, has one win, six top-five and 20 top-10 finishes and is sixth in the series standings.

   Bayne, 22, has also made 11 Cup starts this season with the Wood Brothers with a best finish of 16th at Charlotte Motor Speedway in May.

Monday, November 11, 2013

X-Games star Travis Pastrana leaving NASCAR competition

   X Games star Travis Pastrana, who has been running a full season in the NASCAR Nationwide Series this season, posted a message to his Facebook account on Monday saying he would not be competing in NASCAR after this season.

   Here is the entire message:

   This past season of NASCAR has been an awesome experience. I have made a lot of great friends, had a lot of fun and gained a new appreciation for all aspects of this sport. Jack Roush and everyone at Roush Fenway Racing have gone above and beyond to try and help me succeed and I am truly grateful for their support. I would like to thank them and all of the other people who stuck behind me during the last two years as I tried to learn how to make a successful career in NASCAR. Its tough to step back now and prove the critics were right, but unfortunately my results were not good enough to get the sponsors I needed to appropriately fund next season. 
   My wife Lyn-z has been more then supportive of my foray into NASCAR, often times being my biggest source of encouragement and support. But as my wife had to take a step back from being a professional skater to let me chase my goals in racing, I too need to take a step back and look at my situation as a father and husband. The NASCAR schedule is grueling and takes enormous sacrifices from those you love to make work. With a lack of funding next year, now is my opportunity to sit back and offer support as she chases her goals. 
   I hate to quit and I hate to fail, but sometimes things work out as they should. I've never been able to figure out the finesse required in pavement racing and that is disappointing, but I'm looking forward to driving more rally and racing more off-road trucks and there will be some announcements on those fronts shortly! My wife is excited to get back to skating on the Nitro Circus Live Tour and I'm excited to spend some quality time with my girls. 
   Thank you to all my fans for the support and I hope to see each of you at an event in the near future.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Carl Edwards did everything right. Well, almost.


   Carl Edwards and his No. 99 Roush Fenway Racing team had seemingly played the perfect strategy in Sunday's AdvoCare 500k at Phoenix International Raceway. The team got was running up front and when it came time for a final round of green-flag pit stops, Edwards short-pitted and was among the first to fill up with gas.

   When the green-flag stops had cycled through, Edwards was the leader and it appeared he had a victory in the bag. He did - but was a little over a lap short, as he ran out of fuel as just as he was about to take the white flag which signals the start of the final lap.

   After the race, Edwards was asked about the race's conclusion and if he had any indication he was close on fuel.

   Here was his answer:

   "I did not think we were that close. I saved just a little bit, but Kevin (Harvick) was catching me just a little bit too much and I thought I better just keep going. In hindsight, I definitely should have tried to save more, but we thought we were a lap to the good," he said.

   "It's gonna take me a little while to get over this one. We did everything right, we just didn’t calculate the fuel correctly and I’m as big a part of that as anyone. We’re all in this together, so we’ll just go to Homestead and win it.

   "Jimmy (Fennig, crew chief) talked to me about saving a little bit to have some extra, and I did that a couple of laps, but Kevin closed in and was obviously not saving fuel. There at the end we were a lap-and-a-half short or so and that’s tough, but we had an awesome car.  We did everything right, we just miscalculated that one part and that’s NASCAR. You’ve got to be perfect."

Friday, November 8, 2013

NASCAR says no penalty likely after confrontation in Truck series practice

   NASCAR does not plan to issue a penalty to Truck series driver Darrell Wallace Jr. for physically confronting fellow driver Chad Frewaldt after a wreck in Thursday night’s practice session and slapping at his helmet while Frewaldt sat in his truck.

   Frewaldt met with Truck series director Chad Little after the incident while Wallace met with both Little and Robin Pemberton, NASCAR’s vice president of competition.

   Wallace had just passed the much-slower moving Frewaldt exiting Turn 4 when Frewaldt hit Wallace in the left-rear. The contact resulted in both drivers wrecking. Wallace immediately walked over to Frewaldt’s truck, reached in the window and struck Frewaldt.

   “Tempers were flaring,” Pemberton said. “We’ve talked to both drivers and feel like the situation is resolved.”
   You can see a video of the incident here.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

No joke: Could former NASCAR driver Kyle Petty run for Congress?

   According to an article on, former NASCAR driver and now Fox Sports TV analyst Kyle Petty could be a candidate for U.S. Congress in 2014 in North Carolina.

   The district would be the one currently represented in North Carolina by Republican Howard Coble, who announced Thursday this would be his last term.

    In the article, Petty is listed among several possible Republican candidates for the seat. Petty's father, seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Richard Petty, lost a race for N.C. secretary of state in X1996.

   UPDATE: A representative for Petty called Roll Call on Friday morning and said the former NASCAR driver was not planning to run for the U.S. House District 6.

   You can read the entire article here.

How Brad Keselowski helped jump start Carl Edwards' 2013 season

   NASCAR drivers Brad Keselowski and Carl Edwards have never been the best of friends. In fact, they have a very public feud in 2010 that resulted in several nasty wrecks as part of on-track incidents.

    The dynamic between the drivers was bound to be tested this season when Penske Racing moved to the Ford camp, where Edwards makes his home at Roush Fenway Racing. At the least, the two drivers would be involved in some information sharing.

    As the Sprint Cup Series sets to return to Phoenix International Raceway this weekend, Edwards was asked about his victory in the spring race at the track. And some of the credit for the win went to an unexpected source.

    "The biggest thing that helped us at Phoenix was our pit crew. We had awesome pit stops and kept coming out three or four spots ahead of where we were running and that ultimately is what won us the race," Edwards said. "The other thing that helped was Brad Keselowski on that last restart really pushed me out there. That was the second race in a Ford for Brad and for him to do that and give us that little bump it really meant a lot.”

   Asked how his relationship with Keselowski has evolved this season, Edwards said: "I think, not just between me and Brad, but between me, Brad, Joey - all the Penske guys and Roush - it has been a good relationship. At the end of the day, we have seen that we can all benefit by helping one another and that is huge. The more we can work together, the better off we will be.”

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Jamie McMurray to get a new crew chief in 2014


   Keith Rodden, currently race engineer for Kasey Kahne's No. 5 Chevrolet at Hendrick Motorsports, will become Jamie McMurray's new crew chief in the Sprint Cup Series beginning with the 2014 season, The Observer and have learned.

   Rodden will leave the No. 5 at season's end, several sources confirmed on Tuesday. Rodden would replace Kevin "Bono" Manion, who also is expected to remain with McMurray's No. 1 Earnhardt Ganassi Racing team the season's final two races.

   This is Rodden's second season as the No. 5 team's race engineer. The N.C. State University graduate has spent a decade working in racing.

   When asked for comment on Rodden's move to the No. 1 team, EGR spokesman John Olguin said, "We are currently still working on our 2014 plans."

   Manion has worked with McMurray since the start of the 2010 season. The duo have four wins together, including a victory this season at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Richard Petty Museum is returning home to Level Cross, N.C.

   After 10 years of being located in downtown Randleman, N.C., the museum that holds memorabilia and personal collections of the most decorated American stock car driver in history is going back home to Level Cross. The Richard Petty Museum will be located on the site of the original Petty Engineering and later Petty Enterprises race shop. The site currently is the home of Petty's Garage and the Petty Family Foundation.
   The Museum was founded at the race shop in Level Cross in 1988 by Lynda Petty but moved to Randleman in 2003 after space demands of the expanding race operation. Randleman, the neighboring city where Richard Petty went to high school, then became the home of museum. With the race operation, Richard Petty Motorsports, now operating in Concord, N.C., it was decided to move the museum back to its original location.

   "We are really grateful for everyone in Randleman for allowing us to move the museum there when our race shop had to grow. We now have the opportunity to move it back to where it all started, and I think everyone agrees that's where it belongs," said Richard Petty.

   "We want people to come and see the history on the same ground where it all happened. We're going to take the time to make it even better too. It's exciting for our family, and we hope everyone will enjoy it with us."

   After it's relocation and renovation, the museum will not only recover its spot in the building first built to house Kyle Petty's race program but will eventually expand to include the "Reaper Shed," first home of Petty Engineering where Lee Petty found the family dynasty. The museum will also include the Dodge Barn, built in the days of the team's close connection to Dodge and Plymouth.

   Finally, fans will be able to also visit the Lee Petty House, birthplace of both The King and his brother Maurice. The new-look museum will also feature exhibits of the Petty family's four members in the Hall of Fame (Lee, Richard, Dale Inman and Maurice), of "Mr. and Mrs. The King" from the Pixar film "Cars" and of the family's many contributions to the sport of stock car racing.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

What makes a championship special? Beating Jimmie Johnson

   Carl Edwards, who starts from the pole in Sunday’s AAA 500 at Texas Motor Speedway, says one of the things that makes this year’s championship battle special is the fact the winner will have to beat Jimmie Johnson to claim the sport’s top prize.

   “If it’s Matt Kenseth or Jeff Gordon or Kevin Harvick or even somebody further back. I know we’re still mathematically able, and that’s what you want – that’s what I would want,” said Edwards, who is 10th in the series standings.

   “I would want to beat a guy like Jimmie and I’d want to beat him and Chad (Knaus, crew chief) and those guys when they’re on their game. So it is amazing what they’re able to do.

   “Someone put it really well the other day. They said, ‘The best rivalry that’s gone on the last decade has been the field vs. Jimmie Johnson,’ and that’s where we’re at right now.  Those guys are really good.”

Friday, November 1, 2013

Martin Truex Jr. has a new NASCAR home at Furniture Row Racing

   Team release:

   Furniture Row Racing general manager Joe Garone announced today that the Denver, Colo.-based organization has entered into a multiyear agreement with Martin Truex Jr. to drive the team’s No. 78 Chevrolet, beginning with the 2014 Sprint Cup Series season.
   Garone, sitting alongside Truex, made the announcement during a news conference at Texas Motor Speedway, site of Sunday's AAA Texas 500. 
   “We couldn’t be happier to have landed one of the top drivers in NASCAR,” said Garone. “Martin’s talents – both on and off the track -- have been well documented and everyone at Furniture Row Racing feels that he is an excellent fit to continue the success that we have enjoyed this season." 
   Truex, a 33-year-old native of Mayetta, N.J., is currently in his eighth season as a full time Sprint Cup competitor. He joined NASCAR’s premier series in 2006 after claiming back-to-back Nationwide Series season championships in 2004 and 2005.
   His Sprint Cup history includes four full seasons with Dale Earnhardt Inc and Earnhardt Ganassi Racing (2006-2009) and four with his current team Michael Waltrip Racing (2010-2013).
“Furniture Row Racing has been high on my radar,” said Truex. “The team has done a great job this year. It’s a talented organization and it has been impressive to see what they’ve accomplished over the past few seasons. What influenced my decision is team owner Barney Visser and that the team really wants me as its driver. Everything else is important, but I really felt like Furniture Row Racing genuinely wanted me to drive for them."