Saturday, June 27, 2015

NASCAR Chairman Brian France supports 'eradication of the Confederate flag'

Statement from Brian France, NASCAR Chairman & CEO

   DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (June 27, 2015) – “NASCAR will maintain its long-standing policy preventing the use of the Confederate Flag in any official position at our events. In all areas that NASCAR controls on a given race weekend, the flag has no presence. 

   “We have been clear in support of this position throughout our industry and to those across the country who have called for the eradication of the Confederate Flag. We will be as aggressive as possible to disassociate NASCAR events from an offensive and divisive symbol. We are working with the industry right now to achieve that goal.”

Friday, June 26, 2015

Jeff Gordon on Confederate flag: 'I support NASCAR.'

   Jeff Gordon, who grew up in Northern California, will make his final start of his NASCAR career in Sunday's Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway. On Friday, Gordon was asked about his reaction to NASCAR's statement this week that it supported the efforts of S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley and others to remove the Confederate flag from the grounds of the South Carolina Statehouse.

   “As far as the confederate flag I think that… I know how we approach it at Hendrick Motorsports and that is everything that we can control. We have eliminated the ability to use it in anyway or it show up in any of the things that we are involved with.  I think that is the stance I see that NASCAR has taken and have had that stance for several years," Gordon said.

   "To me I’m in support of what they are doing. It’s a delicate balance. We race all over, but the South is an area where we have a lot of fans. Everyone has different opinions and expression of that. I support NASCAR and the stance that they are taking.”

Sunday, June 21, 2015

NASCAR's Jeff Gordon makes a 'homecoming tour' stop in Northern California

   Before competing in next weekend's Sprint Cup Series race at Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway, four-time NASCAR champion Jeff Gordon and his family made a stop on Saturday in Northern California as part of his "homecoming tour."

   Gordon, who grew up in Vallejo, Calif., was joined by his wife, Ingrid, daughter, Ella and son, Leo, and first made a stop at the Rio Linda quarter-midget track where Gordon first raced, as well as the middle school he attended in Vallejo. 

   Gordon announced at the beginning of the year this would be his last as a fulltime competitor in the Cup series. He will begin work next season as a TV analyst for NASCAR on Fox TV. 
   “When you look around Rio Linda, this is really where Jeff got his start, and this is where he came from,” said Gordon, stepfather, John Bickford. “Now, he’s like the ambassador for this sport. Becoming a professional driver is what all of these kids want to do. Every one of these kids racing quarter-midgets today wants to race in Indianapolis or the Daytona 500 someday, and he achieved that.”

   Gordon and his family toured the 61-year old facility, visited with young racers and took part in pre-race ceremonies. It marked the first time Gordon had visited the facility in more than 30 years. His daughter, Ella, is in the early stages of her own quarter-midget racing career.

   “Rio Linda was the first place that I ever drove a race car on the track, and I won a lot of races there and made a lot of friends. I don’t know what life would be like for me today if it weren’t for Rio Linda,” said Gordon.

   Gordon also paid a visit to the former Springstowne Middle School (now Vallejo Charter School) in Vallejo, which he attended. Gordon was born in Vallejo and lived in Northern California until he was 14 years old. He was welcomed by nearly 200 students and their families for a question-and-answer session in the quad of the middle school. 

   Gordon was also presented with proclamations and gifts from U.S. Congressman Mike Thompson (Calif. 5th Congressional District), Solano County Supervisor Erin Hannigan, Vallejo Vice Mayor “Jess” Malgapo and Vallejo City Unified School District Superintendent Dr. Ramona Bishop.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Austin Dillon gets a new crew chief at Richard Childress Racing

   Austin Dillon will have a new crew chief in the Sprint Cup Series beginning with the June 28 race at Sonoma, Calf., although he is not unfamiliar with Richard Childress Racing.

   Richard "Slugger" Labbe will take over as crew chief for Dillon's No. 3 Chevrolet, replacing Gil Martin, who will move into a leadership role within RCR's research and development department. Labbe had worked in the department as well as served as crew chief for Dillon's younger brother, Ty, when he has run the No. 33 for Circle Sport Racing. 

   Austin Dillon, the 2013 Xfinity Series champion, is currently 23rd in the Cup series standings with just one top-10 finish.  

   Labbe's wins include the 2003 Daytona 500 and 2011 Brickyard 400, as part of 433 Cup starts to his credit.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Jeff Gordon explains last weekend's blowup over the radio with his crew chief

   A very frustrated Jeff Gordon and his crew chief, Alan Gustafson, had a very uncharacteristic blowup over their team radio late in last Sunday's Sprint Cup race at Pocono. 

   The exchange got so heated, at one point Gordon's spotter, Eddie D'Hondt, chimed in and said, "Guys, let's just settle down."

   On Friday at Michigan International Speedway, Gordon admitted there had been some built up frustration with how his final fulltime season in the Cup series has been going.

   "It seems like every time we have a car that is capable of either winning or running in the top five some circumstances come about that take us kind of out of that. That is frustrating.  When you are in the closing laps of a race or coming down to the final pit stops, and you are making choices and decisions you are not always going to like those decisions," Gordon said.

   "At that point I think both Alan was frustrated and I was frustrated. The restarts weren’t going great. We took a risk on pit strategy and the caution came out. That blew that strategy and that put us back  We saw how tough it was to pass and track position was really important, especially in that final run. 

   "It is all good. We are big boys. We respect the heck out of one another and we had great conversations this week. I think it’s actually been more positive that we kind of got that out there and had this heated moment. And said some things and got them off our chest. I think it has actually helped us come into this weekend focused, motivated and excited.”

Friday, June 12, 2015

Ross Kenseth wins his first ARCA race in third career start

   Ross Kenseth, the 22-year-old son of NASCAR Sprint Cup Series star Matt Kenseth, won his first Automobile Racing Club of America series race on Friday at Michigan International Speedway in just his third series start.

   Ross Kenseth, driving for Ken Schrader Racing, passed then-leader Grant Enfinger with 13 of 100 laps remaining and held on for the win while also conserving fuel for the final laps. 

   "It was pretty cool. I was glad he won and he did a great job," Matt Kenseth said after the race. "Ross has been working really hard, particularly the last year, to get some opportunities." 

   Ross Kenseth gets another big opportunity next weekend, when he will compete for Joe Gibbs Racing in the Xfinity Series race at Chicagoland Speedway.

   "I'm just happy we got back to racing. I thought they may call it at one point (from the rain)," Ross said. "Grant did a great job racing me and taking my line away. It's been about a year-and-a-half since I won at anything, so this is awesome."

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

NASCAR artist Sam Bass recovering from another severe blood infection

   Sam Bass, NASCAR's first officially licensed artist, continues to recover from surgery for complications resulting from another severe blood infection.  

   A life long Type 1 diabetic, Bass was hospitalized twice in 2014 and spent 10 weeks in treatment as a result of sepsis, a severe blood disorder that often results in loss of limbs or even death.  

   "I tremendously appreciate the prayers and continued support of everyone during this extremely difficult time," Bass said in a statement released Wednesday.

   Bass expects to be released from the hospital later this week to continue his recovery from home.

   Bass' battle with sepsis began in February 2014. Complications with the severe blood infection resulted in multiple surgeries and led to a long road to recovery. Able to return to the track just three months later, Bass suffered another setback in October 2014, when a less severe infection returned to his bloodstream.  

  Located adjacent to Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord, Bass' personal studio and motorsports art gallery is available for group tours, media events, private parties and corporate hospitality.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Michael Waltrip Racing swaps crew chiefs on its two Sprint Cup teams

   Michael Waltrip Racing today announced personnel changes to its two-car NASCAR Sprint Cup operation, which include the reassignment of its crew chiefs.

   Effective immediately, Brian Pattie will become the crew chief for the No. 55 Toyota Camry driven by David Ragan. Billy Scott will become the crew chief for the No. 15 Toyota Camry driven by Clint Bowyer.

   Pattie has been the crew chief for the No. 15 with Bowyer since the team was established in 2012. He has scored three wins with the team, and finished second in the 2012 Chase for the Sprint Cup and seventh in 2013.

   Scott has been the crew chief of the No. 55 since August 2013, and previously served under Rodney Childers as that team’s lead engineer.

   Additional changes include a reorganization of lead, secondary and support engineers for each team. Car chiefs, road mechanics and pit crews will remain with their originally assigned teams.

   “Our goal is to best position the 15 and 55 teams for a berth in the Chase for the Sprint Cup,” said co-owner Rob Kauffman. “MWR has an enormous amount of bright, motivated and quality people working to solve the endless challenges inherent to racing.  We have won poles and races, we have made the Chase and competed for a championship with this core group of personnel.  We just felt it was time to shake things up a bit to try and spark fresh ideas and more consistent results.  There are 12 races left before the 2015 Chase field is set and we plan to be a part of it.”

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Brian France on driver's council: 'Gives everybody a really good seat at the table'

   NASCAR Chairman Brian France spoke briefly with a group of reporters on Sunday before the AXalta 400 at Pocono Raceway and was asked about NASCAR's meeting last weekend at Dover, Del., with a council of Sprint Cup Series drivers.

   Here was his response, in part: 

   "It's great. I've said from the beginning that we're going to improve our communications across the board with all the stakeholders across the board and they are certainly as important as anybody. So, that's consistent. What you're seeing is more formalized conversations. We talk all the time about things that are important to them. We did the same thing with the track operators. We didn't have a formal thing with them. We now do and get together in February. That just gives everybody a really good seat at the table to express what's important to them," he said.

   "When anybody has things that can improve the sport, we're going to be open to that. It doesn't really matter the exact form of communications that happens. What matters is that it does happen. We're getting the stakeholders as close to us as we can because there are a lot of good ideas that come out of these discussions. The driver's with safety. There's a business side to this that they have an interest in. We need to make sure we communicate well with them."

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Who said there was no passing in NASCAR?

   You hear a lot of complaints this season about the difficulty or the lack of passing in NASCAR races.

   But the statistics don't match the rhetoric, although they don't tell the whole story.

   Through the first 13 Sprint Cup Series races of the 2015 season, there have been 55,701 green-flag passes for position on the track. That's the second-highest total through 13 races since the inception of NASCAR's "loop data" in 2005.

   Granted, loop data have not been around forever, but there is now more than a decade worth of data from which to compare - that's certainly a significant sample size.

   So, there is passing on the track. But perhaps the more important question is, where does it take place?

   Through the same 13 races there have been 376 green-flag passes for the lead on the track - that's just the fifth-highest total since 2005. In other words, passes for the lead this season are about average for the last 10 years. 

   Part of the problem is those passes are generally the ones most fans pay the most attention to, and remember. Also, passes for the lead get more attention on TV and radio broadcasts. So, if there are fewer actual passes for the lead, the perception can come across there is less passing in general taking place in the race. 

  The statistics show, however, that's simply not the case.

Read more here:

Friday, June 5, 2015

Kevin Harvick to run Truck race in August at Pocono with JR Motorsports

   Reigning Sprint Cup Series champion Kevin Harvick will enter the Aug. 1 NASCAR Truck series race at Pocono, driving the No. 00 Chevrolet for JR Motorsports, the team confirmed Friday to the Observer. 

   Harvick last competed in the series in 2013, when he ran both races at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway for NTS Motorsports. His most recent win in the series came in 2012 at Martinsville. 

   JRM is fielding the No. 00 for the first time this season. Rookie Cole Custer is running 10 of the races with a handful of other races run with a variety of drivers.

Crew chief Rodney Childers signs multi-year contract extension with SHR

   Rodney Childers, crew chief for reigning Sprint Cup Series champion Kevin Harvick, has agreed to a multi-year contract extension that will keep him with Stewart-Haas Racing through the 2020 season, the organization announced on Friday morning.

   In his inaugural season as Harvick's crew chief, Childers and the No. 4 Chevrolet team won five races, won eight roles and led 2,137 laps en route to the duo's first championship. 
   “Rodney Childers and Kevin Harvick set a new standard of excellence in 2014 that they’ve carried into this season," said SHR co-team owner Tony Stewart. "Keeping Rodney and Kevin together was a high priority, and we’re obviously very happy to have the two of them at Stewart-Haas Racing for many years to come."

   Childers and Harvick haven’t let up in 2015. So far this season, they have two wins and nine top-two finishes. They enjoy a commanding lead in the series standings and have led 1,123 laps - nearly 26 percent of the laps run this season.

   “I knew when I came to Stewart-Haas Racing that this was a special opportunity,” Childers said. “Kevin’s skills have always been evident, and his hunger and desire to be the absolute best he can be in every practice, qualifying session and race motivates our entire team. We have great leadership at Stewart-Haas Racing along with a deep commitment toward success, excellent people and strong partners. If you want to win, this is where you want to be, and I’m happy to be here for a long time.”

Rodney Childers
Rodney Childers during a press conference at Phoenix International Raceway on Nov. 9, 2014 in Avondale, Ariz. (Photo by Todd Warshaw/Getty Images)