Friday, October 31, 2014

Part of NASCAR's new testing policy still a work in progress

   NASCAR has already announced a ban on all testing next season for its three national series – Sprint Cup, Nationwide and Trucks. 

   However, some of the testing it did hope to allow – more participation for teams in Goodyear tire tests, for instance – may be running into a roadblock. 

   Goodyear officials maintain their portion of tire tests in 2015 will look much like those this year, which is typically a four-team test unless special circumstances dictate otherwise. 

   Roush Fenway Racing owner Jack Roush, in an interview on SiriusXM Radio’s show “Dialed In” this week, said  there was “substantial resistance” from Goodyear in their ability to provide tires to all the teams NASCAR was looking to allow at tire tests. 

   “I’ll be less surprised if it changes then if it stays the way it is,” Roush said.

   NASCAR says it has not yet formalized the testing plan for next season. 

   "When we announced on Sept. 23 the rules package for the 2015 season, we stated that we were eliminating all teams testing and would be working with Goodyear to build a unified testing plan in which the teams could participate," Gene Stefanyshyn, NASCAR's vice president of innovation, said.

   "We currently are working through that process and have had on-going discussions with Goodyear to develop a proposal that we will share with the teams in near future."

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Krista Voda to join NBC Sports' NASCAR broadcast team

    Longtime NASCAR on Fox broadcaster Krista Voda has signed a multi-year agreement to serve as host of NBC Sports’ pre- and post-race NASCAR coverage beginning with the 2015 season.

   In addition to hosting the pre- and post-race shows for the Sprint Cup and what is now the Nationwide series races, Voda's on-air duties will also include regular appearances as host of "NASCAR America" on NBC Sports Network, as well as other assignments across NBC Sports and NBC Olympics. 

   “This role is a dream opportunity for me and I'm honored to be a part of NBC’s return to NASCAR,” said Voda. “We say it often, but it's true: NASCAR is more than a sport, it’s a community. I’ve been blessed, for many years, to stand alongside colleagues who I also consider dear friends. I’m looking forward to this new chapter and the chance to share my knowledge and enthusiasm for storytelling.”

   Voda has served most recently as host of Fox Sports' pre-race show for the NASCAR Truck Series broadcast and as a pit road reporter for its Cup series broadcasts.

    Last year,  NASCAR and NBC Sports Group signed a 10-year agreement granting rights to broadcast the final 20 Cup series races, final 19 Nationwide series events, select NASCAR Regional & Touring Series events and other live content beginning in 2015. 

Friday, October 24, 2014

Danica Patrick: 'I didn't need a program' to get into NASCAR

   During a press conference Friday at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway, Sprint Cup Series driver Danica Patrick was asked about the success of NASCAR's diversity program for minority and female drivers since two teams were honoring NASCAR Hall of Fame nominee Wendell Scott with special paint schemes this weekend.

   Patrick seemed to question the need for the program in a back-and-forth exchange with a reporter.

   "I've never benefited from NASCAR's diversity program," she said. "... Well, clearly, then I wouldn't think there needs to be a diversity program if I'm here and I didn't get in. 

   "It wasn't like they asked me to be in it. They didn't give my team or me any money, they didn't say, 'We'd love you,' you know? So I would say that you have to just make it. I'm not saying that being a girl hasn't helped, but I didn't need a program to make it happen."

   Friday night, Jim Cassidy, senior vice president of racing operations, provided the following statement to the Observer in response to Patrick's comments:

   "We're fortunate that there are many different paths of entry into our sport for our participants. We have seen a growing number of talented diverse and female drivers compete in NASCAR thanks to our Drive for Diversity program started in 2004. We’re very proud of the program, which also recruits and trains pit crew members, and remain more committed than ever to it."


SHR: Danica Patrick and Kurt Busch team swaps 'right thing' for long-term growth

   Many fans of NASCAR driver Danica Patrick were caught off guard by Stewart-Haas Racing's decision this week to swap the road crews and crew chiefs on Patrick and Kurt Busch's teams, especially since Patrick seemed to be making some progress this season. 

   Greg Zipadelli, SHR's competitor director,was asked Friday why the organization would want to upset an arrangement that seemed to be making progress. Here is his response:

   "I think long term it’s the right thing. There might be a step backwards while they get to learn each other and they grow, but long term, a full year, two years from now I think their personalities between Daniel (Knost) and Danica will work together much better. I think at the same time the same thing will happen on the No. 41 car. That is a team that we have to get going immediately. There isn’t a lot of time for growth," Zipadelli said.

   "We know Kurt is kind of in the prime of his career. We know that he can go out and win races and every race track we go to. We have got to give him that and we have to give Danica the ability to continue to grow and build a relationship with somebody, because she plans on being here a while. We just look at that and it’s kind of the best of both worlds right now. We have both people in house.  One thing we don’t like to do is bring people in from the outside and try them. We like to try to promote and give the people at Stewart-Haas the opportunity. That is kind of why we elected to do what we did.”

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Dale Earnhardt Jr. shares his concussion story

   NASCAR's most popular driver, Dale Earnhardt Jr., recounts his personal story of his own battle with a concussion in a video made for the Sports Medicine Concussion Program at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. 

   UPMC on Wednesday launched the website to detail treatments. Featured on the site are Earnhardt and baseball catcher David Ross, who were both treated at UPMC by Dr. Micky Collins, one of the leading experts in athlete concussions.

Read more here:

Read more here:

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Danica Patrick and Kurt Busch to swap teams at Stewart-Haas Racing

   Stewart-Haas Racing teammates Danica Patrick and Kurt Busch will swap teams and crew chiefs beginning with the Nov. 2 Sprint Cup Series race at Texas Motor Speedway, the Observer and have learned.

   An official announcement of the change could come as early as Wednesday, sources said.

   SHR officials did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

   On Saturday, Tony Gibson, who has served as the only crew chief Patrick has had as a fulltime Cup series driver, signed a contract extension with SHR but the organization would not specify what his role was to be in the future.

   Beginning at Texas, crew chief Daniel Knost and the members of Busch's current No. 41 team will move over to Patrick's No. 10. Gibson, along with the members of Patrick's current No. 10 team, will move to Busch's No. 41 team.

   Patrick failed to qualify for the Chase and is 27th in series points, one spot better than she was one year ago at this time. The former IndyCar Series driver has three top-10 finishes this season and finished a career-best sixth at Atlanta on Aug. 31.

   Busch was one of 16 drivers to qualify for the Chase this season thanks to his victory in the spring at Martinsville, Va. He was among the first four drivers eliminated from title cotention after Round 1 of the Chase. He is currently 15th in the series standings.

Kurt Busch to compete in 2014 Race of Champions in Barbados

   NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Kurt Busch has accepted an invitation to compete in the 2014 Race of Champions, which will be held Dec. 13-14 at the Bushy Park Circuit in Barbados, organizers announced on Tuesday.

   Busch, who drives the No. 41 Chevrolet for Stewart-Haas Racing, was one of 16 drivers to qualify for the Chase for the Cup this season, but was among the first group of four to be eliminated from title contention.

   In May, Busch became only the fourth driver in motorsports history to race both in NASCAR’s Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway and the Indianapolis 500 on the same day. His sixth-place finish in his IndyCar Series debut earned him the Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year award. 

   Busch will represent Team USA in the ROC Nations Cup along with this year’s Indianapolis 500 winner Ryan Hunter-Reay. Busch and Hunter-Reay were teammates in this year’s Indianapolis 500, both piloting cars for Andretti Autosport. Team USA last won the ROC Nations Cup title in 2002 with a NASCAR-heavy team of Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon and Colin Edwards.
   This year's ROC lineup features stars from all over the world: nine-time Le Mans 24 Hours winner Tom Kristensen, Formula 1’s Romain Grosjean (the reigning ROC Champion of Champions) and Susie Wolff (Williams development driver), Australian V8 Supercar legend Jamie Whincup and 2014 FIA World Rallycross Champion Petter Solberg are already confirmed. 

   The remainder of the ROC 2014 field will be announced soon.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Former NHRA champion and NASCAR team owner Raymond Beadle dies

   Raymond Beadle, a former three-time NHRA Funny Car world champion owner and owner of NASCAR veteran Rusty Wallace's 1989 championship team, died Monday, Oct. 20, 2014, at Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas. He was 70.

   Beadle ended the four-year championship reign of Don Prudhomme, winning the Funny Car title in 1979, then added crowns in 1980 and 1981 with his vaunted "Blue Max" entries.

   Beadle owned cars for eight seasons in what is now the Sprint Cup Series. The late Tim Richmond drove for Beadle from 1983 to 1985 and Wallace drove for him from 1986 through 1990.

   In his 1989 championship season, Wallace won six races and won the series championship by 12 points over the late Dale Earnhardt Sr.

   Wallace posted the following message on his Twitter account on Monday: "Really saddened by news about Raymond Beadle. Without him, I would have never gotten to where I am today. He will be greatly missed."

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Roger Penske on Brad Keselowski: 'I want him to get mad'

   Team Penske owner Roger Penske was adamant in his defense Sunday of his Sprint Cup Series driver Brad Keselowski, who took heat this week from fans and several of his competitors over his actions following last weekend's race at Charlotte.

   Keselowski had post-race run-ins with drivers Denny Hamlin and Matt Kenseth on the track and in the garage following the race. Keselowski was fined $50,000 by NASCAR and placed on probation for four weeks.

   Following a discussion by Keselowski of how he didn't allow what happened to alter his focus for this week's race, Penske jumped on the chance to defend his driver.

   "Number one, these guys are jealous of the job he's done this year. He's won six races. He's made poles. He's been up front. Nobody likes to see a guy win like that. The fact that he has a little edge on him, he's continually delivering, obviously I think makes a difference," he said.

   "If everybody understood what happened on the race track last week, when you get your rear fender knocked off on a restart, you get your front fender knocked off on a pass‑by, I want him to get mad. I don't want him to take it. 

   "So to me coming back, we talked about it Sunday night, I said, 'Let's just go on, do our test during the week, move on here. Brad, I said, Put it in the rear view mirror.'"

Saturday, October 18, 2014

How NASCAR veteran Terry Labonte learned what not to do

   Two-time NASCAR Cup series champion Terry Labonte is making what he said will be the final start of his career on Sunday. 

   On Saturday, Labonte was asked about his first series start at Darlington, S.C, and he recounted an interesting story on how he learned 'what not to do' at the track to be successful.

   "The good thing about it for me to run my first race there is being from Texas I really wasn’t that familiar with Darlington. If I would have been, I probably wouldn’t have picked that one as my first race. But we went to Darlington and I never will forget doing down there. They had a rookie meeting and they showed a video that they played of all the things not to do. I was sitting there watching that thing and the guy that starred in that video was the guy that drove the car I was driving the year before. So everything he did wrong they pointed out in that video," Labonte said.

   "So I sat there and I thought to myself, ‘Oh my gosh, the car is identical. It’s the same paint scheme, same number, everything.’ So I sat right there and thought, ‘The thing to do is not make next year’s video. Don’t make all the highlights of the things not to do.’ So they had a rookie test and we had to go run around the track and you missed qualifying the first day. You had to qualify the second day, so I qualified and the longest race I think I’d ever run was a 200-lapper around a half-mile track, so I started that race and I just ran and ran and thought, ‘My gosh these guys could wreck down here. Holy smoke.’ They tore up a bunch of cars and it was typical Darlington. It was wild.

   "The race lasted forever.  hat was the longest race I ever ran in my life, so we ran the race and I finally looked up to see how many laps were left. I was trying to figure out how many laps were left and finally the thing ended and I never thought to look at the scoreboard and I finished fourth. I’m going to the garage and Bobby Allison and Donnie Allison came over and congratulated me and I thought that was the coolest thing."

Friday, October 17, 2014

Richard Petty Motorsports needs to find a new home

   Richard Petty Motorsports is in the process of finding a new home for next season after the facility it currently uses in Concord, N.C., has been sold, a team spokesman confirmed.

   RPM, which fields two fulltime Sprint Cup Series teams, is currently housed on Zephyr Place NW near the Concord Regional Airport. The organization moved to its current location from Statesville, N.C., in 2010.

   The organization is in the process of looking at several different facilities, team officials confirmed.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Owners of Carolina Motorsports Park plan to sell

   The owners of Carolina Motorsports Park, a road racing facility located in Kershaw, S.C., announced Wednesday they plan to sell the 280-acre property on U.S. 521. The facility contains a 2.27-mile road course and a .7-mile karting track.
   "The past 15 years have been a lot of fun but our ownership group is at a different life stage now and we think it's time to hand the keys over to the next generation," said Carolina Motorsports Park managing director David Palmer.
  "The facility continues to be financially sound so while bittersweet, it's our goal to find the right person or group to further develop this regional asset."
   The course opened in 1999 and weekdays the road course is primarily used for race team practice, car manufacturer testing, TV show and commercial filming as well as law enforcement training. Weekends are busy with auto and motorcycle races, track time events and driver education. In recent years several NASCAR teams have tested at CMP in preparation for their road course events.
   "It's the only course of its kind in the Carolinas, I think it's the best kept secret around," said retired NASCAR driver Ricky Rudd.
   In 2015, Carolina Motorsports Park will host The Rotax Max Challenge Grand Nationals, one of the premier annual events in Karting. For investor inquiries, email David Palmer

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Darrell Waltrip: 'It's unfortunate (Tony) Stewart got dragged into this'

  On Tuesday, NASCAR fined Brad Keselowski $50,000 and Tony Stewart $25,000 for their respective involvement in the post-race incidents after Saturday night's Bank of America 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

   Stewart's involvement at the time went largely unnoticed considering the fight that subsequently erupted in the garage area between Keselowski and Matt Kenseth. After his car was hit in a bottleneck at the entrance to pit road, Stewart put his car in reverse and drove it into the front of Keselowski's car, doing substantial damage.

   Because of Stewart's involvement in a sprint car incident over the summer that resulted in the death of another driver, mainstream news media has been hammering on Stewart's involvement in this incident since.

   Former NASCAR champion and Hall of Fame driver Darrell Waltrip was asked about Stewart being back in the national spotlight. Here was his response:

   “For all kinds of reasons, it’s unfortunate Stewart got dragged into this. Because of the incident in New York, the media know who Stewart is, saw what happened and jumped to their own conclusions and made judgments," he said. "That’s unfortunate because Stewart had nothing to do with what happened on Saturday night." 

Monday, October 13, 2014

Three NASCAR drivers who've performed best during the Chase aren't in it

  It's not a new phenomenon, but remains an interesting one.

   Three of the drivers in the Top 10 of points scored so far during the 2014 Chase for the Sprint Cup aren't even participating in it.

   Here's the most recent Top 10 of points scored following Saturday night's Bank of America 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway:

Total Points Awarded
Joey Logano
Kyle Larson
Kevin Harvick
Kyle Busch
Jeff Gordon
Martin Truex Jr
Ryan Newman
Brad Keselowski
Carl Edwards
Jamie McMurray

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Statement from ESPN regarding the start of Saturday night's race at Charlotte

   Statement from ESPN regarding the start of Saturday night's Bank of America 500, which was unavailable on TV until Lap 26:

   “We started the race on ESPN3, which is available to 95 million homes. We’re fortunate to have multiple TV networks available, but tonight there were live events on all of them, including an epic football game on ABC and an overtime NBA game on ESPNEWS. We joined the race on ABC at lap 26.”

NASCAR statement regarding the start of Saturday night's race

   Statement from NASCAR regarding the start of Saturday night's Bank of America 500, which was not televised by ABC/ESPN:

   “We are disappointed that our fans were unable to see the start of tonight’s race. We do all we can with the networks to avoid delays when live sports run late. We’re grateful for the passion of our fans and are thankful to those now watching on ABC.”

Friday, October 10, 2014

Dale Junior offers a bold prediction for Saturday's race

   Apparently fans of NASCAR's most popular driver, Dale Earnhardt Jr., shouldn't worry he is in a deep points hole in the second round of the Chase for the Sprint Cup.

   After completing Saturday's first of two practice sessions, a confident Earnhardt offered a bold assessment of his situation:

   "We're going to win this race. I really got a good feeling about it. This is what we've got to do anyway to try to get further points and try to win the championship. I just got a good feeling," he said.

   "The car's been great all weekend. Attitude's good. Everybody's excited. The team’s working well together. The car’s responding well. The car ran some good laps in practice and felt real good."

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Fox Sports' Steve Byrnes takes medical leave of absence

   Fox Sports' Steve Byrnes, who only in January returned to work after one battle with cancer, is taking an indefinite medical leave of absence, the network announced Wednesday. Byrnes has suffered a recurrence of cancer.

   Byrnes most recently has been co-host of "NASCAR Race Hub" and served in various roles with Fox's coverage of NASCAR races.

   Any updates on Byrnes will come at the discretion of the family.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Sam Hornish Jr. to replace Marcos Ambrose at Richard Petty Motorsports in 2015

   NASCAR driver and former IndyCar Series star Sam Hornish Jr. will move fulltime to the Sprint Cup Series with Richard Petty Motorsports, the team confirmed in a news release on Wednesday afternoon. The move was first reported by the Observer and on Tuesday.

   Ambrose is returning to his native Australia.

    “Owners Richard Petty, Andrew Murstein and Doug Bergeron have built this organization into a championship-contending team with world-class sponsors and partners," Hornish said. "Many people have noticed to the progress being made here and I’m ready to build off this momentum. My goal is to put the No. 9 team in victory lane in 2015 and be a competitor in ‘The Chase’.”

   This will be Hornish's second fulltime stint in the Cup series. He struggled in his first go-around which was with Team Penske. In three-plus seasons, Hornish had eight top-10 finishes in 108 starts. In recent seasons he has found success running in the Nationwide Series, where he finished second in points last season and fourth in 2012.

   Hornish, 35, has been running a partial schedule in the Nationwide Series this season with Joe Gibbs Racing. In eight starts, he has one win, four top-five and four top-10 finishes. He's also won two poles.

   The No. 9 team will continue to be led by crew chief Drew Blickensderfer who has three Cup ceries wins to his credit.  

Monday, October 6, 2014

Kristen Yeley fastest so far in 'Better Half Dash' qualifying

    Kristen Yeley, wife of NASCAR driver J.J. Yeley, clocked the fastest time in Monday’s qualifying session and will be among the favorites to win the fourth annual Better Half Dash Thursday night on Charlotte Motor Speedway’s frontstretch quarter-mile oval. 

   “Three years of experience,” she said. “I’m a lot more comfortable. I need to find my groove a little bit It takes me to find my groove, but when I do, I’m completely comfortable and I know my limits.”

   Despite running the only sub 20-second lap, Yeley won’t know until Thursday if she’ll start from the pole when the 25-lap charity race supporting Motor Racing Outreach and Speedway Children’s Charities goes green. That honor will be determined by fan donations. Fans can make a donation to their favorite Better Half Dash driver at The driver with the most individual donations will have the option of choosing her starting spot. 

   Melanie Self, Heidi Stoddard, Ashton Bayne and Karlee Hensley rounded out the top five, while Ashley Deihl Stremme, Ashley Allgaier, Jenna Robinson, Adriene Pattie and Jordan Fish finished 6-10. Amy Reimann did not qualify.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Check out the top performers during the 2014 Chase so far

   Leading the way in the Chase

   Joey Logano has five wins this season and two in the first four races of the Chase for the Sprint Cup. Look who else is running well so far during NASCAR's version of the playoffs:

   Rank     Driver                 Points    Wins in Chase

   1.          Joey Logano          175                  2

   2.          Kyle Larson           164                  0

   3.          Kyle Busch            150                  0

   4.          Kevin Harvick         150                  0

   5.          Martin Truex Jr.      139                  0  

Friday, October 3, 2014

How Clint Bowyer welcomed son, Cash, into the world

   Sprint Cup Series driver Clint Bowyer and his wife, Lorra, welcomed their first child this week, a son, Cash. Bowyer, never short on entertaining stories, had another when describing the day of Cash's birth and what it was like for Bowyer.

   PS - Hearing Bowyer tell it in person was even better, but you'll get the gist.

   Q:What has it been like to become a father?
   Bowyer: First of all, just so happy and proud.What a wild experience - all your friends and family, peers and everybody is trying to warn you and tell you that it's going to change your life. You're like, 'There's no way.' Then all of the sudden that little gremlin comes out of there and you're like, 'Oh my God, this is real.' I was probably not the norm as far as spectator in an event like that. In the room there I was high-fiving people and I was kind of pushing the doctor out of the way at one point because I was trying to get a better view of him coming into the world. Of course the nurses are trying to hold me back and they're like, 'You can't get that close.' I'm like, 'Get the hell out of my way, here he comes.'  It was a lot of fun. We were all laughing. An amazing experience.

   "He's running really good during the day -- you think this is way too easy, this is no problem at all. Then his engine drastically takes a turn for the worst about the time you're trying to go to sleep on that really comfortable couch over in the corner that's about this wide and basically like sleeping right here on this tabletop, he starts really screaming very loud. The nurses tend to come in to do paperwork at 3 a.m., which is really handy. They want to ask you about your education and things like that and you're like, 'Lady, can we wait until daylight maybe -- that would be a good goal,' - 3 a.m. is not a good time in the morning to be talking to me with him screaming, her pissed and now I am. It's been a wild deal and Cash is awesome."

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Ryan Newman: 'We've made a really good living on being ourselves'

   Ryan Newman loves the fact as he enters the second round of the Chase for the Sprint Cup on an even playing field with every other remaining Chase driver even though he has no wins this season and some of his competitors have four or five.

   But if it were up to him, he wouldn't have it that way.

   On Wednesday, Newman said drivers who have already won races should be able to transfer bonus points for those wins into the next round.

   "I don't think it's fair for them for a guy like me who hasn't won a race this year to come in and be equal to them in the next three-race bracket," he said.

   When a reporter pointed out to Newman that other sports' playoff series follow a similar scenario, Newman said, "We're not other sports. We can't lose that fact. We're still not other sports. This isn't stick-and-ball. It's nothing to do with anything like that.

   "I struggle to compare ourselves to other sports. We've made a really good living on being ourselves and we can't lose that fact."