Monday, May 25, 2015

Denny Hamlin: 'I was borderline throwing up trying to race for the lead'

   It was quite an eventful final 150 miles or so for driver Denny Hamlin in Sunday night's Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. He went from contending to the win to debating whether he should get out of his No. 11 Toyota. Oh, and he had to pit under green for a loose wheel as well.

   Hamlin ended up finishing eighth as several drivers - including his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate and race winner, Carl Edwards - stretched their fuel without making a final pit stop.

   Hamlin almost immediately was whisked away on a golf cart and taken to the track's infield care center. When he emerged, he was feeling much better and even stopped by Edwards' winner's press conference to congratulate him.

   “It’s tough, I was borderline throwing up trying to race for the lead. You just try to power through it and of course when you run well, you always feel a little bit better, but when the race is over and everything comes to a stop you realize how bad you feel," Hamlin said. "I'm a lot better now with fluids and everything. It was directly related to hydration.

   "I knew when my knee was sore afterwards that it was probably fluids. My off-day was 36 holes of golf and a full tennis match. Probably over did it a little bit this weekend. I think the dehydration led to a migraine and just felt nauseous the last 100 laps or so. Thank goodness, that didn’t cost us the win."

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Panthers' Thomas Davis: 'I'm definitely becoming a big race fan'

   Carolina Panthers outside linebacker, Thomas Davis, was the honorary pace car driver for Sunday's Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Before beginning his "official" duties, Davis and his family got a behind-the-scenes look at NASCAR on Sunday afternoon.

   "I got my kids out here with me now in the infield taking this all in and enjoying the experience. I am definitely becoming a big race fan. This is truly awesome," said Davis, who was named the NFL’s Walter Payton Man of the Year this season.

   "Driving the pace car is going to be the game day adrenaline, I’m sure. I am extremely honored to be the pace car driver for tonight’s race. I am just going to go out there and have fun with it and get it done.”  

   Following his appearance Sunday at the infield media center, Davis met Taya Kyle, wife of famed U.S. Navy SEAL Chris Kyle (upon whom the movie “American Sniper” is based). 

   Kyle was signing autographs for media and took a few minutes to meet Davis. The two exchanged stories, and autographs, before going their separate ways for additional appearances.

Carolina Panthers linebacker Thomas Davis, right, smiles at NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Dale Earnhardt Jr., left, as they prepare to get into a race car and take laps around the track at Charlotte Motor Speedway  on Tuesday, May 19, 2015. Davis went through pace car certification to prepare for his duties as honorary pace car driver for the May 24 Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Afterward, Earnhardt Jr. drove Davis to give him some hot laps in a No. 88 Nationwide Chevrolet. (David T. Foster III,

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Kyle Busch on fatherhood: 'It's a whole new world'

   Sprint Cup Series driver Kyle Busch made his first appearance at the track Thursday since he and his wife, Samantha, welcomed their first child earlier this week. Brexton Busch weighed 7 pounds and 10 ounces and is 21 inches long.

   Kyle was asked if there was a "new" Kyle Busch now that his son had arrived.

   “I don’t know that I’m different, but it’s a whole new world right now for sure. It’s an entirely different feeling. You wonder where the time goes already. I was trying to get ready this morning and Samantha was trying to get ready – she had to take him for an appointment and some other stuff and I’m trying to help out and all of the sudden it’s time for me to leave to come out here to the race track and I’m like, ‘Holy smokes, I have to get ready, I have to hurry up.’ That was different," he said. 

   "It's way different than what it was before he was born. Obviously, Samantha was taking care of him. She had him in her so just taking care of him that way and carrying him around. I didn’t have to worry about anything. I didn’t have to feed him, I didn’t have to change him or nothing like that, but it’s a whole different world now that he’s here with having to take care of him so we both have to spread our time. Obviously, when his favorite thing to do is make stinky diapers, then you’ve certainly got your work cut out for you.”

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Statement from Bruton Smith about being named to NASCAR Hall of Fame

O. Bruton Smith, Motorsports, Inc. executive chairman

   “When I found out that I was nominated, I realized how much this meant to my family and the 15,000 employees that work for my companies.  Now I realize how much it means to me.  It will truly be an honor to be remembered at the Hall of Fame along with people like Dale Earnhardt, Richard Petty, Glen Wood, Junior Johnson, Darrell Waltrip and so many others who helped build this sport. That’s what I’ve tried to do my entire life.  I’m a frustrated builder who had a knack for promoting races, and it’s been fun to always try to push the sport to greater heights for the fans. From the first World 600, I’ve always wanted the fans to leave with something spectacular to remember about their experience.  Even if they don’t remember who won the race, I want them to remember the pre-race show and having the time of their lives. I want fans to know we’re always working to build the best facilities for them and that’s who I really owe this recognition to. The millions of fans who’ve attended our race tracks all of these years are the ones who really deserve to be in the Hall of Fame. They’ve built the sport right along with us, and I want to sincerely say thank you to them and the voting committee.”

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Brandon McReynolds earns his first NASCAR victory

  Brandon McReynolds got his first victory in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West on Saturday night with a major win in the East –West combination race at Iowa Speedway.

   McReynolds, making his 20th series start, took the lead eight laps from the finish and held on following a two-lap overtime to take the victory in the Casey’s General Store 150.

   “I knew that whoever could get a good jump on the last restart was probably going to come out with the victory,” said McReynolds, the son of NASCAR Fox TV analyst and former crew chief, Larry McReynolds. "It was pretty much hammer down there at the end."

   Scoring his first career series win in such a big event is a major boost of confidence, according to McReynolds, who will celebrate his 24th birthday on Thursday. 

   The East-West combination race will be televised on NBC Sports Network on May 21.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

NASCAR upgrades safety rules for pit crew members

   In what appears to be in response to a rash of fuel-related fires on pit road during some recent races, NASCAR on Wednesday issued an email to all pit crew members outlining some new safety requirements which will take effect the first week of June.

   In the email, a copy of which was obtained by The Observer, NASCAR notes that some items which have been recommended for pit crew members will soon become mandatory.

   All pit crew members, whether they fuel the car or not, will be required to wear fire retardant protective gloves, underwear (from the neck to the ankles), head socks (which cover the nose and mouth) and socks.

   The underwear, head socks and socks were only recommended for pit crew members who did not actually work with fueling the car. The email noted the rules should go into effect on June 4 and a technical bulletin would likely be issued before then.

   In one of the recent most series incidents, three pit crew members were injured in the April 24 Xfinity Series race at Richmond, Va. A malfunction in the fueling head, which seals the fuel can to the car, caused fuel to spill during a pit stop for driver Brendan Gaughan. Sparks from the car's lug nuts ignited the fuel into a spectacular fire.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Brett Moffitt began 2015 season with one race, now has fulltime Sprint Cup ride

   Brett Moffitt entered the 2015 NASCAR season with one planned race - to drive Michael Waltrip Racing's No. 55 Toyota in the Sprint Cup Series race at Atlanta.

   Now, he has a fulltime ride for the remainder of the season.

   On Wednesday, Front Row Motorsports announced Moffitt would compete with its No. 34 Ford team for the rest of the year. He will remain under contract with MWR for the time being, however. 

   "We're glad to be able to move forward knowing who is going to be in the car on a consistent basis," said team owner Bob Jenkins. "Brett's already got some great experience under his belt, and I think having the same driver-crew chief team working together regularly will bring some stability to our No. 34 team and help Brett with his development as well."

   The team's former driver, David Ragan, has since moved to MWR to fill in for Brian Vickers for the remainder of the season. 

   "The most important thing for me at this point of my career is seat time, going to some of
these tracks that are new to me, and racing around 42 other drivers in race conditions," Moffitt, 22, said. "And the more time I spend in the No. 34 car and with this team, the more competitive we'll get. And I think that consistency will lead to some good finishes."

Monday, May 11, 2015

Who gets paid what in the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race

 Purse breakdown for 2015 NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race

   Racing Purse Breakdown (by race finishing position):
   Total $3,150,588 


   NOTE: In the event any of these awards are not paid, remaining money will be distributed evenly among the field of competing eligible drivers for the NASCAR
Sprint All-Star Race awards.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Dale Junior's philosophy on life: 'You want to love what you do.'

   NASCAR's most popular driver, Dale Earnhardt Jr., was asked Friday at Kansas Speedway whether he was finding himself getting more involved in all of the business opportunities outside racing that he and companies owned by him represent.

   Earnhardt, who has a propensity to take difficult issues and communicate them in a straight-forward, effective manner, did it again, offering a poignant insight to his approach at getting older and closer to the day his career isn't encompassed by driving a race car.

   Here was his response:

   “Yeah, I think so especially as I get older and get closer to understanding that driving race cars won’t last forever. I mean I knew that, but you get closer and closer to the day when you won’t be in the race car anymore. Not only do I need things to keep me busy or keep me excited and motivated to get out of bed every day. You want to love what you do right? Because I’ve had so much fun driving race cars it is going to be a real challenge to find something that I enjoy as much," he said.

   "That is sort of something I take a little more seriously now as I’m getting older. I think the dealerships in Tallahassee (Florida) will be a fun exciting challenge. That was really my career path if I hadn’t been a race car driver, was as a mechanic and into the service department and maybe eventually if it all worked out a general manager or something like that at a store. It’s funny to think about it now, but that was the reality of the situation when I was younger. I feel comfortable there and feel like I understand that business better than anything else."

   It has become evident the care and concern Earnhardt puts into his outside ventures of late matches that on ensuring he is competitive in the race car each week.

   "I’m taking those things very seriously because that is going to be my source of income one day when driving race cars is no longer an opportunity. Definitely take it more seriously and want to make sure that we are doing things right," he said.

   "The production company does really good there are just so many things that we have so much potential with that are looking really good. Hopefully all that stuff works out. Everybody is looking for the (George) Foreman grill and hopefully I’ve got a couple of them in the works.”

Friday, May 8, 2015

Leavine Family Racing shop in Concord, N.C., suffers 'significant damage'

   According to a statement from Leavine Family Racing, an early morning fire in its race shop on Concord, N.C., on Friday did "significant damage" to the back area of the shop where several of its Sprint Cup Series cars were located. 

   "We can confirm there was a fire at our Concord, N.C., shop. Luckily no one was injured," said a statement provided by a team spokesperson. "We are working with the fire department and local officials to determine what happened."

   Late Friday, team officials said the structural damage to the shop may cause the organization to move its racing operations, however they did not believe the change would alter the team's competitive schedule.

    The fire was first reported around 7 a.m. and was brought under control by 8:30 a.m. Four race cars in the building - primarily backup cars - were destroyed, located in an 8,000-square foot section of the shop. A complete investigation of the fire continues by local authorities.  

   Most of the team members were already at Kansas Speedway this weekend as driver Michael McDowell will compete in Saturday night's SpongeBob SquarePants 400.  

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Statement from Richard Childress on losing final appeal of NASCAR tire penalty

   Statement from Richard Childress regarding final appeal ruling on the No. 31 Chevrolet team
   "We do not agree with the final appeal ruling. We feel we had a compelling case and still felt we were in the right and the facts presented today would have proved that. We do appreciate the opportunity to be heard. 
   "We stand behind our suspended team members and look forward to their return. We will now move on and continue or goals of winning races and making the Chase for the Champion."

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Chase Elliott could be a NASCAR all-star before he's a fulltime Sprint Cup driver

   Is it really possible Chase Elliott could be a NASCAR all-star before he's even a fulltime Sprint Cup Series driver?

   We found out Tuesday the answer to that question is "yes."

   During a news conference at Charlotte Motor Speedway, Hendrick Motorsports announced Elliott would enter the May 15 Sprint Showdown preliminary race during all-star weekend. The winner of each 20-lap segment of the race gains entry into the May 16 main event with a chance to earn the $1 million top prize.

   "I couldn't be more excited about the opportunity to run the Showdown. It allows me to gain more experience before we race again at Charlotte a week later," Elliott said in a statement provided by the team. "I'm grateful to Mr. Hendrick and everyone at NAPA for the chance to do it."

   Elliott, who is attempting to win his second consecutive Xfinity Series championship with JR Motorsports this season, is running a partial Cup schedule in preparation for taking over the driving duties of Jeff Gordon's No. 24 Chevrolet next season. Elliott was already scheduled to compete in the May 24 Coca-Cola 600.

   The Xfinity Series is competing next weekend at Iowa Speedway so Elliott will be pulling double-duty while traveling between North Carolina and Iowa.

Monday, May 4, 2015

NASCAR's Steve O'Donnell talks about the caution 'no-call' at Talladega

   While it doesn't appear a caution on the final lap of Sunday's GEICO 500 at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway would have changed the winner - which ended up being Dale Earnhardt Jr. - NASCAR's decision not to throw one as cars were wrecking didn't sit well with some of the drivers involved in the incident, namely Carl Edwards and Matt Kenseth.

   On Monday morning NASCAR Executive Vice President Steve O'Donnell addressed the issue during a weekly appearance on SiriusXM Satellite Radio's "The Morning Drive" show.

   Here are O'Donnell's remarks:
   “It’s going to be a judgment call. We’ve stated that we’re going to make every effort to try to finish a race under green-flag conditions. That’s what the fans want to see. We’ve got to be obviously mindful of what’s occurring on the race track. It’s a split-second decision. So, I think if you go back to Daytona and you saw a driver hit the wall what we thought was fairly hard and wanted to dispatch our emergency crews quickly, we elected to throw the caution. I think yesterday if you look at the circumstances that played out with Carl, when we initially saw him get loose, he was down on the apron. As we made that quick decision, it was ‘OK, he’s clear, we can go.’ Just as you make that, his car slides up across the track. 

   "That’s something you don’t want to see green- or yellow-flag conditions, but, at the time, if we would have thrown the yellow, then it’s too late because he’s already up and across the track. So, we elected to let it play out. We certainly didn’t like to see how Carl came across the track but ultimately we were able to come back under green-flag conditions.

   “People want to point to who’s leading, who’s not leading, what could have happened, what didn’t happen. I know it’s hard to believe for some folks, we don’t think about that. We look at the circumstances of the incident. We’ve got to make that call - just like a 99 mph fastball. The umpire can't think about it for a couple minutes. We’re not always going to be right. We know with each decision we open it up for debate. That’s sports. We’ll talk to Carl and the competitors about that but did like seeing us being able to finish under green."

Saturday, May 2, 2015

When your back’s against the wall, call for reinforcements. 'Dale Call' to be exact.

   The roaring duck call mimicking the sound of the engine from NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s No. 88 Chevrolet shot to fame in a Diet Mountain Dew TV commercial that began airing during Super Bowl XLVIII. 

   A few months later, Dew noticed a lot of chatter on social media from consumers begging for the brand to make the Dale Call widely available. So, they unveiled the Dale Call on Amazon late last year and the entire inventory sold out in less than a day.

   Dew is bringing back the popular Dale Call to e-commerce for $24.99 while supplies last. To celebrate this momentous occasion, Dew has created a brand new ad which will air during the race at Talladega this Sunday immediately following the original Diet Dew ad that made this unique product so popular.