Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Juan Pablo Montoya's NASCAR career isn't over just yet

   Team Penske announced on Wednesday that driver Juan Pablo Montoya will make two NASCAR Sprint Cup Series starts for the organization in 2014.

   Montoya will pilot the No. 12 Ford at June 15 race at Michigan International Speedway and he also in the July 27 Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

   “Juan is a proven winner in multiple racing disciplines and he is one of the most versatile race car drivers competing today,” said team owner Roger Penske. “Michigan and Indianapolis are two important races for Team Penske. We know Juan has the ability to race for wins in both of those events while still focusing on his full-time program in the Verizon IndyCar Series.”

   A former full-time NASCAR competitor from 2007 through 2013, Montoya earned two wins, 24 top-five finishes and nine poles in his Cup career. He owns career-best finishes of sixth at Michigan and second at IMS. 
   “It has been a good start to the season with Team Penske in the Verizon IndyCar Series and it will be fun to get back behind the wheel of the Cup car,” said Montoya. “It’s hard to believe, but Roger Penske has never won the Brickyard 400.
"I think that Brad (Keselowski), Joey (Logano) and I will give Roger and Team Penske a great opportunity to check that off the list and we should be strong at Michigan as well.”
   To read about what Montoya said about a possible return to NASCAR during this year's Indy Car Series Media Day, go here.

Monday, April 28, 2014

NASCAR's Elliott Sadler joins 'Amazing America with Sarah Palin'

   NASCAR Nationwide Series driver Elliott Sadler is a guest on this week's episode of The Sportsman Channel's "Amazing America with Sarah Palin." The episode airs at 8 p.m. ET Thursday.

   Field host Benny Spies heads to Emporia, Va., to meet up with Sadler who shares a behind-the-scenes look into his off-track life, including his love of hunting. Sadler takes Spies on an intense, fast-paced deer hunt and takes on Sadler one-on-one in a race.

   “I love what I do for a living, but I’m also a big fan of the outdoors,” said Sadler. “I wanted to give Benny, and the viewers, an opportunity to come along for an experience that’s a little on the wild side – especially when it comes to deer hunting.”  

   You can watch a sneak peek of the show here.

   To find Sportsman Channel in your area, visit the Channel Finder.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

NASCAR investigating post-race fight at Richmond

   NASCAR officials are investigating an incident which took place in the garage following the race involving drivers Marcos Ambrose and Casey Mears.

   In a Fox Sports video of the incident, Ambrose and Mears are seen having an animated discussion in the garage. Mears appears to shove Ambrose and Ambrose then punches Mears in the head.

   As Ambrose is leaving the area, a crew member wearing a uniform from Earnhardt Childress Racing Engines appears to sucker-punch Ambrose from behind.

   Any penalties will  be announced early this week.


Friday, April 25, 2014

Richard Petty: 'I am just learning to live all over again.'

   Seven-time NASCAR Cup series champion Richard "The King" Petty is back at the track this weekend for the first time since the March 25 death of his wife, Lynda.

   "I just felt like I needed to sort of had a little time on our own so I have been gone for two or three weeks but I am back in the saddle again now. I am just learning to live all over again," Petty said Friday at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway.

   Petty's typically busy schedule returned to some normalcy this week, with appearances on Monday in Georgia, Tuesday in Tennessee and Wednesday in Wyoming. "The busier they keep me the better off I will be," he said.

   Petty said his life now will be different.

   "After 55 years I have to start all over again. I was fortunate that all the kids came home for Easter. We had all the kids and grand kids home and that really made things work good," he said.

   "It is great that so many people knew Lynda so well. Of course she had been around a long time, too. She never met a stranger. Every once in awhile I would come in the house and see people I didn’t even know. She would invite them in the house to spend the night or whatever. Again, it is just going to be different."

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

JR Motorsports adds another Nationwide Series driver


   Austin Theriault will make his NASCAR Nationwide Series debut this season, as JR Motorsports has signed him to drive three races in the No. 5 Chevrolet.

   Theriault, a 20-year-old late model racer from Fort Kent, Maine, will make his debut on May 18 at Iowa Speedway, driving the No. 5 Chevrolet replete with primary branding from SPY, the eyewear brand behind team co-owner Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s Signature 88 Collection . 

   Nationwide Series races at New Hampshire Motor Speedway (July 12) and Kentucky Speedway (Sept. 20) will fill out Theriault’s three-race schedule. The seat of the No. 5 is filled by multiple drivers throughout the season.

   “Our company is known for putting young talent in cars and giving them a shot on one of NASCAR’s biggest stages, and that is what we are giving Austin with this three-race opportunity,” said Kelley Earnhardt Miller, general manager of JR Motorsports. “This keeps our No. 5 car on the track, and it gives Austin the chance to show what he’s got with a lot more eyeballs taking notice.”

   Theriault was the 2012 Maine Vintage Race Car Association’s Driver of the Year, and he made his NASCAR K&N Pro Series debut after winning “Maine Young Guns” inaugural competition in 2012. It was that same year he became a part-time developmental driver for Brad Keselowski Racing.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Pit crew coach for Hendrick's Nos. 48/88 teams steps down

   Hendrick Motorsports confirmed on Monday that Lance Munksgard, who most recently served as pit crew coach for its Nos. 48 and 88 teams, had stepped down from his position and was moving to Texas to work for a family business.

   A Hendrick spokesman said Greg Morin and Chris Krieg will coach the team until a new head coach is named.

   For more information about Munksgard's decision, you can read an interview with him on here.


Thursday, April 17, 2014

Competition in Sprint Cup Series is off to a strong start

   The first eight races of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season certainly have given the impression the season is off to a very competitive start, but there are some statistics from NASCAR's Loop Data, which provide some strong evidence to back up the claim.

   Among them:

   - All three manufacturers have won races thus far, led by Chevrolet's four victories.
   - An average of 12 different leaders per race, compared to 8.6 at this point last year.
   - An average of 25.6 lead changes per race, compared to 17.4 in 2013.
   - A total of 29,541 green flag passes, compared to 23,178 in 2013.
   - A total of 346 green flag passes for the lead, compared to 181 in 2013.
   - An average margin of victory of 0.588 seconds, the smallest since the start of the 2008 season.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Talladega winners are getting a sharp new trophy

   Track press release

   In support of the United States Military, Talladega Superspeedway is thrilled to announce the “Freedom Trophy,” which will be awarded to every winner of a Sprint Cup Series race at the 2.66-mile grand venue, beginning with the May 4 Aaron’s 499. The special trophy showcases all five branches of the United States military - Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard.

   Military personnel will be on hand at each Talladega Sprint Cup Series race to make the presentation of the Freedom Trophy in Victory Lane. Not only will they be in the winner’s circle to award the coveted trophy, but they will also participate in pre-race ceremonies as well. Each Talladega Superspeedway race weekend, a different United States military base will be given the opportunity to present the Freedom Trophy.

   The creation of Talladega Superspeedway Vice President Brian Crichton, the Freedom Trophy is an honor to all military men and women on behalf of the speedway, a patriotic entity since 1969. Crichton enlisted the assistance of Fast Forward Marketing Owner Mike Barth (Spring, TX), who has custom designed trophies in motorsports since 1996. MTM Recognition in Oklahoma City, OK spearheaded the design.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Three observations from Saturday night's race at Darlington

   Observations from Saturday night's Southern 500:

    -- Congratulations to new Darlington Raceway President Chip Wile. I was among many who were skeptical of the change of Darlington’s race day this season, which coincided with the Master’s and spring football games at South Carolina and Clemson. Thanks to the work of Wile and his staff, Saturday night’s crowd was near capacity. It was a perfect weekend of racing – from the weather down to the action on the track both Friday and Saturday nights. Well done.

   -- A lot was made of the struggles in recent weeks by Kevin Harvick and  his No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing team but any concern that the team would not be able to make the Chase was vastly unfounded. It remains highly improbable there will be 16 different race winners in the first 26 races – Harvick’s win Saturday night is first sign that idea has been wishful thinking at best. The one constant each week by the teams who end up winning multiple times a season is being consistently fast and there are several viable candidates remaining besides Harvick’s team.
   -- Speaking of consistently fast, Dale Earnhardt Jr. already has a win and has now finished third or higher in five of eight races this season. Earnhardt and his No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports team are primed to join Harvick as multiple-time winners this season.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Contract updates on Roush Fenway Racing's Greg Biffle and Carl Edwards

    The contracts of Roush Fenway Racing teammates Greg Biffle and Carl Edwards are both up at the end of the 2014 season and neither has yet re-signed with the organization. Both were asked Friday at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway to address their respective contract status. Here are their responses:

   Q: Are you any closer to a contract extension?
   Biffle: I think so. I think we are getting closer. There are a lot of moving parts to a contract and a lot of new people at 3M but I know the folks are going up there next week to visit some more. I have a feeling it is getting closer. I know there has been a lot of activity. The program works really well for them and we have the America Red Cross on the car this weekend so it is a good program for 3M and I think they are happy and it looks like we are closing in on an announcement. Hopefully here soon we will have something.

   Q: Greg Biffle said he was close on a contract extension. Anything you want to share on that front?
   Edwards: No. I would rather not even talk about it. I have no news and when there is nothing to say all I could do is stir it up. I promise you, no drama. No drama.

NASCAR owner Gene Haas granted Formula One team license

   Team press release:

   Gene Haas, founder of Haas Automation and co-owner of Stewart-Haas Racing in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, has been granted a Formula One license by the FIA.

   The following is his statement.

   “Obviously, we’re extremely pleased to have been granted a Formula One license by the FIA. It’s an exciting time for me, Haas Automation and anyone who wanted to see an American team return to Formula One.

    “Now, the really hard work begins. It’s a challenge we embrace as we work to put cars on the grid.

   “I want to thank the FIA for this opportunity and the diligence everyone put forth to see our license application come to fruition.”

   Founded in 1983 and based in Oxnard, Calif., Haas Automation is the largest CNC machine tool builder in the western world. Stewart-Haas Racing won the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship in 2011.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

New opportunities for NASCAR fans during Charlotte race weeks

   To commemorate its 30th anniversary, the 600 Festival Association, a nonprofit organization aimed at promoting and celebrating motor sports in the Charlotte region, is offering loyal fans the opportunity to customize their event experience with the "Stars, Cars & Guitars" campaign.
   The 600 Festival Association has made premium upgrades available for all four of its May events: "Movies on the Campus" May 9 in Kannapolis, N.C.; "Haulers on Union" May 15 in Concord, N.C.; the "Little 600" May 20 in Mooresville, N.C.; and "Coca-Cola Speed Street Presented by Chevrolet"  May 22-24 in Charlotte, N.C.
   While the 600 Festival Association continues to offer free entertainment to consumers throughout the local region, attendees have the opportunity to upgrade their experience with never-before offered perks such as backstage access, reserved concert seats, introducing artists onstage, serving as honorary starter and more.
   “We wanted to offer fans a new opportunity to enhance their experience at each of the 600 Festival Association events,” said Jay Howard, president of the 600 Festival Association. “Every one of our guests is a VIP and this is an opportunity for them take control and personalize their experience."
   Fans can log on here through April 30 to purchase these exclusive items. To learn more about the Festival, visit

Monday, April 7, 2014

Only 13 laps in and Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s day is done at Texas

   Just 13 laps into Monday's rescheduled Duck Commander 500 at Texas Motor Speedway, Sprint Cup Series points leader Dale Earnhardt Jr. saw his race come to an abrupt end after he slid into the frontstretch grass and the slid up into the outside retaining wall. His No. 88 Chevrolet caught fire but Earnhardt was not injured.

   Earnhardt spoke briefly after the incident:

   Q: What happened?
   Earnhardt : "Just didn't see the grass. Didn't know the grass was down there. With the way the A-post is on these cars you can't really see that good to that angle. I just didn't have a good visual of where the apron and the grass was and got down in there pretty good. You can't run through there they way they have these cars on the ground like that. Just a mistake on my part. I just didn't know I was that close to the grass, and made a mistake."

   "I drove the car down there. I didn't know we were that close the grass and was following the No. 43 (Aric Almirola). I thought I was taking a decent line through the dogleg. We were going low around the No. 42 (Kyle Larson) so I was lower than normal and just misjudged it. It tears the car up pretty good when you run through the grass."

   Q: Was wet track a factor?
   Earnhardt: "It was no factor. I just made a mistake."

Sunday, April 6, 2014

The start of Sunday's NASCAR race at Texas has been delayed by rain

   The start of Sunday's Duck Commander 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Texas Motor Speedway has been delayed by persistent rain showers and thunderstorms across the Dallas-Forth Worth area.

   It's the sixth time in seven NASCAR race weekends this season bad weather has affected some part of the race weekend.

   NASCAR will make every effort to get the race in on Sunday and can go into the night with lights, if necessary. In a message posted to his Twitter account, NASCAR executive vice president of race operations, Steve O'Donnell, said track drying procedures would likely need to be underway by 7 p.m. ET for the race to be held Sunday night.

   If the race cannot be started on Sunday, it will likely be postponed until noon ET on Monday.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Goodyear statement on Kurt Busch tire issue in practice

   Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. issued the following statement regarding an incident in Friday's Sprint Cup Series practice involving Kurt Busch's No. 41 Chevrolet, which had a left-rear tire go down and hit the wall:

   "Late in the Sprint Cup practice the No. 41 car lost a left-rear tire after 19 laps of a run. We eventually got the tire back, and while it was heavily damaged, our initial assessment is air loss due to over-deflection in the sidewall area. We've spoken to the team and got some preliminary information, but we need to talk with them further to get more details to help make a final determination." - Greg Stucker, Goodyear's director of race tire sales

A dozen Sprint Cup teams lose practice time on Friday at Texas

   A dozen Sprint Cup Series teams have been docked 15 minutes of practice time on Friday at Texas Motor Speedway for being late to the qualifying inspection line last weekend at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway.

   The teams of Carl Edwards, Matt Kenseth, Ryan Newman, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Landon Cassill, Cole Whitt, Michael Annett, Martin Truex Jr., Reed Sorenson, Clint Bowyer, Parker Kligerman and Kyle Larson are lost 15 minutes in Friday's lone practice session.

   Teams being penalized practice time for being late to inspection is nothing new, however the number of teams being late on the same weekend is unusual.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Three NASCAR Truck teams penalized

   NASCAR Press Release
   Daytona Beach, Fla. (April 1, 2014)Three teams that compete in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series have been penalized for rules violations discovered during post-race inspection last Sunday (March 30) at Martinsville Speedway.
   All three teams – the No. 31, No. 54, and No. 98 – have been assessed a P3 level penalty for violating Section 20B-12.5 (D) (offset front hubs found in post-race inspection) of the 2014 NASCAR rule book.
   As a result, each team’s crew chief – Michael Shelton (No. 31); Jerry Baxter (No. 54); and Gene Wachtel (No. 98) – have been fined $10,000 and placed on NASCAR probation until Dec. 31.