Wednesday, February 29, 2012

How NASCAR helped solve cold case

   The following press release was distributed on Wednesday:

   NASCAR driver Kevin Conway learned this week that through his involvement with the ‘ExtenZe Local Hero’ race program, a four-year-old unsolved homicide hit-and-run case has finally been solved. The Joliet Police Department informed Conway and a member of his executive team at eXclaim Marketing via email the suspect in the Melissa Lech case that was featured on his No. 87 NEMCO Motorsports car for the September 17, 2011 NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Chicagoland Speedway finally turned himself in this past Sunday, February 26.

   Authorities say that 27-year-old David McCarthy of Naperville showed up on the doorstep of Melissa Lech’s sister’s house on Sunday morning to finally come clean about the hit-and-run accident he caused that took Melissa’s life in August 2008. Lech’s sister also told authorities that McCarthy admitted to her that he would think about the night he hit Melissa every time the case was in the news with the most recent significant impact coming in September 2011 when Conway’s car featured Melissa’s photo and a plea for information in a nationally televised NASCAR race at Chicagoland Speedway.

   “We feel confident that the extensive media coverage in the Melissa Lech investigation helped bring this case to a successful conclusion,” said Chief Michael P. Trafton, Joliet Police Department. “The Joliet Police Department would like to give special thanks to NASCAR Driver Kevin Conway, eXclaim Marketing, and the NEMCO Motorsports racing team for keeping this case in the spotlight.”                       

   In 2010 Conway, through his company eXclaim Marketing, wanted to create a cause-marketing campaign tied back to his race program that would really give back to the communities and markets NASCAR races in. From support from ExtenZe the ‘Local Hero’ program was formed. At first the campaign paid tribute to people who had gone to great lengths to make a difference in their communities and those selected typically had faced danger, sacrificed their own safety for others or in some way displayed leadership that changed their community for the better.

    It was the September 2010 Kansas race where the program took a bit of a different turn and started featuring unsolved homicide or missing persons cases on the car’s rear decklid. In total the program has featured nine unsolved cases across Kansas, Martinsville, Fontana, Nashville, Daytona, Bristol, Chicago, and Homestead-Miami with the Melissa Lech case out of Chicago being the first one solved due to the efforts of Conway and eXclaim Marketing.

   For more on the story, read this.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Elliott Sadler talks about his wreck with Jimmie Johnson

   During Tuesday night's edition of NASCAR Race Hub on Speed, Elliott Sadler, driver of the No. 2 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet, re-capped his incident with five-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion, Jimmie Johnson. He spoke with host Danielle Trotta about what happened.

   “I just kind of got into the back of Jimmie, it was 100-percent my fault,” said Sadler, describing the incident that started as the field had just entered the race’s second lap. “It got other cars involved like you see in a lot of the restrictor plate races. We were coming into the outside lane, through the tri-oval, the 78 (Regan Smith) and the 48 (Jimmie Johnson) kind of get bunched up a little bit. They came down and its 100-percent my fault in getting into the back of Jimmie.

   “We were kind of bogged down, everyone was side-by-side and I didn’t check up in time, and I got into the left-rear quarter (panel) of Jimmie. It was just a little bit, but that is usually all it takes at these types of speeds. It’s a bad way to get started.”

   Sadler also talked about the phone call he made to Johnson Tuesday morning.

    “You never want to be involved in a situation like this. Being good friends with Jimmie, and his crew, (as they) actually pitted my truck last year in Bristol (Tenn.). I saw his guys last night at the airport, and I apologized to all of them. I called Jimmie the first thing this morning just to say to him, ‘Look. And explained to him what happened. I was sorry. I had no excuses. It was 100 percent my fault.’ I just probably really shouldn’t have been racing that hard, that soon. I snuck up on him a lot quicker than I thought," Sadler said.

   "Jimmie handled it like he handles everything else. He’s just a class act and a good guy. I also called Chad Knaus also. We reached out to those guys as well. It was just a tough way to get the racing season started.”

Three days' worth of the Daytona 500


NASCAR and its tracks have all kinds of contingency plans for various emergencies. But sometimes you just have to learn from experience. It seems save to say that all the work that went into dealing with the crumbling of asphalt and the pothole that emerged during the 2010 Daytona 500 played a role in NASCAR and Daytona International Speedway's ability to deal with the jet dryer explosion and resulting fuel spill on the track this year. So in a sense, while the 2010 race may have been a black-eye, what was learned from it helped allow the 2012 version of the race from becoming a bigger one.

It was somewhat surprising to see how little a factor Tony Stewart and Carl Edwards were in this year's 500. The two drivers who battled down to the wire for the 2011 Sprint Cup title had shown to have fast cars at Speedweeks. Edwards won the pole for the 500 while Stewart won his Gatorade 150-mile qualifying race. Both eventually got involved in late-race accidents in the 500 but were rarely up front.

I don't know if Danica Patrick is going to be a great NASCAR driver. At this point, neither does anyone else. What she deserves is the opportunity to find out – and without unrealistic expectations lofted on her from the get-go. What she also doesn't need are TV announcers who constantly try to bolster her "case" by making outrageous claims. Examples: Claiming Patrick, who had yet turned a lap in the a Cup race, is now the "face" of NASCAR. Another: Suggesting that same driver was one that could teach others like five-time series champion Jimmie Johnson. Johnson has done quite well on his own before Patrick's arrival. That kind of talk enrages far more NASCAR fans than it engages.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Daytona 500 postponed until 7 p.m. tonight

The Daytona 500 - which had never been postponed in its history - has been delayed again.

NASCAR was going to try a noon Eastern start today for 2012's biggest Sprint Cup Series race but has now rescheduled the season opener for 7 tonight. It will be broadcast live on Fox.

Rain continues to fall in the area.

NASCAR President Mike Helton said there was a "reasonable expectation" the race can begin by 7 p.m.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

NASCAR update on rain delay

   NASCAR President Mike Helton provided Fox Sports an update on Sunday's rain-delayed 500:

   Q: The cars cannot race in the rain. We have been rain-shortened, we have been rain-delayed but we've never rained out. With all of the information available to you, what are we looking at? What is the contingency right now?
   It's one of those days here in Daytona where it pops up and falls off and pops up and falls off. But as the day progresses, we think the chances of the pop-ups diminish quite a bit. Hopefully this will be the last big cell we see and things will start falling apart and we can get the track dry and go on and get finish and run the Daytona 500 today.

   Q: I understand your crew has an unprecedented amount of equipment, jet dryers and other machinery to get the track as raceable as quickly as possible once the rain stops.
   HELTON: That is it needsto stop before we can begin the process of drying. So we areequipped. The International Speedway, the Daytona International Speedway, has every drying piece of machinery they got across the country here today, because we know that the fans at home and the fans here in Daytona want to see the race run, and we do, too. The sooner, the better.

It's raining at Daytona

  It's approximately 90 minutes before the green flag is scheduled to drop on the Daytona 500 and right now the only thing dropping is rain.

   That's no surprise. It's been predicted for a while and, say what you will about weather forecasters, but they got it right this time.

  The question is when will it stop raining. It will eventually stop. It always has.

  NASCAR will do its best to get its biggest race in today, studying radar images in NASA-like detail, looking for a window to get in at least 100 laps (250 miles). With lights at Daytona, no one's going anywhere for a while.

   At the moment, ponchos are obscuring the multi-colored t-shirts so popular among race fans and there are tarps over the set that rocker Lenny Kravitz is scheduled to use for his pre-race concerts. Kravitz did stop into the infield media center earlier for a quick question-and-answer session and said he's pulling for Danica Patrick today.

   Wearing a heavy jacket, a brown scarf around his neck and Tom Cruise/Top Gun-style shades, Kravitz looked like he was ready for a winter walk in Paris rather than the infield at a stock car race.

   Presidential candidate Mitt Romney stopped by to campaign today and, at the drivers meeting, said the Daytona 500 combines "two of the things I like best -- cars and sports."

   While Romney showed up in person, Rick Santorum's name showed up on the side of Tony Raines' race car. The Florida primary has come and gone but the campaign continues.

   So, for the moment, does the rain.

-- Ron Green Jr.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Keselowski talks late-race cautions

   NASCAR had a quick trigger finger when it came to throwing a caution for a last-lap wreck in Thursday's first Gatorade 150-mile qualifying race.

   In Saturday's Nationwide race, a 14-car wreck off Turn 4 of the last lap saw no caution flag until the race winner reached the finish line.

   Brad Keselowski, who could have won the race depending on the timing of the flag, was asked about last-lap caution decisions and how drivers respond to them.

   "You know, I think that I walk a fine line with the comment there, obviously. I think there is no doubt to me the most dangerous aspect of our sport that’s left is the yellow flag situation in the closing laps of a race. And I make those comments not in regard to the fact that if the yellow came out a little earlier I would have won the race, in no way do I make those comments in that regard. I make those comments in regards to the fact that if you’re running 25th, five or six seconds behind the pack when the wreck happened, the yellow didn’t come out for about six seconds from what I can estimate. And obviously there was a lot of attention on that area so I’m pretty sure it was seen," he said.
   "So the question is what is the appropriate amount of time? I think it’s very much a judgment call. With the wreck, I think it was in the Shootout, I think I would rather lean to the cautious side. It’s tough for NASCAR, obviously, to wave the yellow early and then take all the criticism from fans that didn’t see their driver win if the yellow wouldn’t have come out that early. So I can see that side of it, but I think that when I look at the sport and I look at the most dangerous frontier, it’s not the head and neck system or anything like that. It’s getting hit from a car that is six or seven second behind a wreck, but has to keep going because the yellow is not out. 

   "Eventually it will happen where they’ll hit a very, very slow car at a very high rate of speed and it will not be good. So I think that that’s an area that is still loosely defined and I’m not sure how to define it because I understand the difficulties that remain in that area to make those decisions. When I think of what I’m most nervous about, I’m most nervous about the last lap, being in the front pack, being wrecked and stopped in the middle of the field and some guy from 35th, knowing that the yellow is not going to come out for another six seconds, whales me going 180 when I’m going five or 10 or maybe stopped. That’s certainly an area that I think about for sure.”


Attention on Danica Patrick irks Robinson

   Apparently the first woman driver to win a pole in the NASCAR Nationwide Series is not all that happy with the attention being lauded on the most recent.

    On Saturday, Shawna Robinson, who became the first woman to win a pole in March 1994 at Atlanta, posted the following message on her Facebook page:

    "OK I've held it in long enough!!! It's not that hard to qualify at Daytona or Talladega!! Race, draft yes …qualifying is CAR! If only POLAROID would have been the event sponsor and I was driving for Tony!!"

     Robinson was referring to Danica Patrick, who won the pole for Saturday's series season opener at Daytona International Speedway. Her reference to Tony Stewart is likely related to Patrick's Sprint Cup Series team, but in the Nationwide series Patrick drives for JR Motorsports, owned in part by driver Dale Earnhardt Jr.

    In fairness Patrick did assign much of the credit for the pole-winning run to crew chief Tony Eury Jr. and her team for building a fast car.

    Robinson made 61 starts in what is now the Nationwide Series, winning one pole and one Top-10 finish, a 10th in 1994 at Watkins Glen, N.Y.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Budweiser's role at Daytona grows

    Budweiser and Daytona International Speedway announced on Friday the beer brand will take on an enhanced role in NASCAR’s season opening festivities.

   Beginning with the 2013 season, Budweiser will become the official title sponsor of Speedweeks – the 10-day stretch of stock-car races from the Shootout to the Daytona 500. Budweiser also will secure entitlement of the Budweiser Duel at Daytona, the two 150-mile qualifying races that determine the starting lineup for the Daytona 500. These enhancements to Budweiser’s partnership with DIS will replace the brand’s existing entitlement of the season-opening, non-points Shootout, which concluded this season.

   “Speedweeks at Daytona International Speedway marks the official start of the NASCAR season, and the opportunity to expand our presence throughout the ten-day event puts Budweiser even more in the thick of it all,” said Brad Brown, vice president of sports & entertainment marketing, Anheuser-Busch. “The Shootout has been an important element of our NASCAR program for 34 years, but this opportunity to enhance our partnership makes Budweiser even more relevant to our consumers as well as the fans of the Daytona 500.” 

   As part of the sponsorship, Budweiser will also receive the presenting sponsorship of the Daytona 500 pre-race broadcast show. The brand will also receive increased access for consumer hospitality events, including naming rights to the 5th Turn hospitality area throughout Speedweeks.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Trevor Bayne lends an assist

   The Daytona 500 qualifying process of late has brought out the best in some NASCAR drivers.

   Last year, it was Brad Keselowski who drafted with his older brother, Brian, in a two-car tandem, helping Brian claim a transfer spot and making the field for the Daytona 500.

   On Thursday, Michael McDowell got a serious boost in his Gatorade qualifying race to earn a transfer spot as his friend and last year's 500 champion, Trevor Bayne, worked with McDowell for a large portion of the race.

   McDowell said Bayne was "absolutely the reason" he is in the 500 this season.

   "Trevor is obviously a close friend of mine and for him to take the unselfish route and help me out means a lot to me," McDowell said. "There’s been a lot of ups-and-downs for him in his career as well, so it’s just cool we’ve been able to go through those together and for him to push me into the 500 is definitely pretty special."

   Working with a small team (Phil Parsons Racing), McDowell knew the road was going to be tough to make another 500 field.

   "I had to qualify in and I’ve been on the outside looking in too, so just know that this is extremely special not just for me and my family, but for our whole team," he said.

   "We’ve got six guys back at the shop that worked really hard in the off-season to give us a fast car and it’s just cool to be able to carry the Curb-Agajanian brand, the 98 car, and to have K-LOVE radio – a Christian radio network on the car – and to have Curb Records as well is a good start for us. This is the start of big things for us.”

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Dale Junior on what it means to win the Daytona 500

   Dale Earnhardt Jr. was well aware of how long it took his father to win his first and only Daytona 500.
   But he said he still never realized what it meant to win NASCAR's biggest race until he did himself.

   “I had no idea what winning that race would feel like until I won it. I didn’t know what to compare that to. When you win that race it is really hard to explain. It’s just really hard to explain. All the things that you want out of life and all the pressures you put on yourself or you feel from other people all the things you want to accomplish; everybody sort of has this mountain in front of them that they put in front of themselves that they want to climb," Earnhardt said.

   “For a moment or for a day you are at the top of that mountain. Nothing matters, all your wants and needs, all the problems you have little petty things that bother you everything goes away. You just feel like you have realized your full potential. Everything is sort of just maxed out for the day. All the things that you wanted to achieve. Obviously you set a lot of goals for yourself and that is just one of the goals. But just for a moment, just for that one day whether it is thirty minutes or an hour after you cross that finish line you feel like it can’t get any better than this. It is a pretty incredible emotion. I feel so lucky to have had that opportunity to experience it. It is such a special moment."

   Earnhardt said all the memories and feeling come flashing back any time he sees a replay of his 2004 500 victory.

   "Every time I see that I just think about how fortunate I feel to have won that race. Some of the greatest drivers come through this sport and don’t win it. It just doesn’t seem right, but only certain ones get that opportunity," he said.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Dodge will unveil 2013 car at Vegas

   The 2013 Sprint Cup Series model of the new Dodge Charger will be officially unveiled on March 11 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway,

   The reveal will take place in the speedway's Neon Garage at 10:30 a.m. Local prior to the running of the Kobalt Tools 400. Along with the 2013 Cup car will be a production 2012 Dodge Charger R/T, giving fans and media an opportunity to see the many features of the production Charger that have been incorporated into the new race car.

   In October 2009, Dodge introduced the Challenger R/T as the “new car” for the 2010 NASCAR Nationwide Series season.

   “The reception for the Dodge Challenger was simply outstanding,” said Ralph Gilles, president and CEO. “It’s been another remarkable effort by our SRT Motorsports design and engineering teams and Penske Racing, working together with NASCAR, to achieve a Dodge Charger that embodies so many of the characteristics of the production version. 

   "Our team is confident, that even with the iconic design features incorporated into the Sprint Cup car, there has been no compromise in the area of competition.”

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Tony Stewart's excellent explanation

   Three-time Sprint Cup Series champion Tony Stewart wasn't always a fan of the big pack racing at Daytona and Talladega, but given the choice between that and the two-car tandem racing which has dominated those tracks the past two seasons, he prefers the former.

   Saturday night after finishing second in the Budweiser Shootout, Stewart offered a very comprehensive explanation as to why he would rather run in the packs and why Saturday night's race may have been a lot more wild than what will take place in next Sunday's Daytona 500.

   "My point is this is better than having to sit there and stare at the back of a spoiler for 500 miles and not be able to see where you're going half the race. We had control of what lane we got to run in. We got to move whenever we wanted. You didn't have to not move because you had a guy behind you that you had to rely on making your decision on what he had to do also. We had more control as drivers today," Stewart said.
    "Look at the history of this race. They always crash here. Go to Talladega, they crash cars there. It's a yard sale every time we go to a restrictor

   "It's not that bad. It's the Bud Shootout. Everybody pushes the envelope. Everybody tries to see what that limit is, what that boundary is. When it comes to Sunday, you have to race 500 miles, you have to make it last till the end. It's not that they're not conscious of the fact you have to make it to lap 75 tonight, but you have the flexibility of not worrying about points standings and not worrying about the 500 title, losing it if you make a mistake tonight.

   "The competition is so tight, you have to try things tonight. If you don't, somebody else is and they're going to learn from it whether it's right, wrong or indifferent. You had to be aggressive tonight and you had to see what you can get away with. You have to try things. It's a great opportunity for trial and error.

   "As you saw tonight, it worked out sometimes and it didn't work out a lot of times. The guys that crashed, it didn't work out, there's something they took away from it and said, That didn't work out so well. Just like last night when I crashed Kurt (Busch), that wasn't even close to what I had in mind for practice, but that's what happened. It's part of the trial and error process. You have to go through that.

"Forty-three cars can win this race a week from tomorrow. If you don't push yourself into figuring out what you can or can't do, I would rather do it with my Shootout car than I would with my 500 car."

Friday, February 17, 2012

Former 'Dukes' star blasts NASCAR

    Former Georgia congressman Ben Jones, who starred as ace mechanic "Cooter" Davenport on the hit television series "The Dukes of Hazzard", issued a statement on Friday criticizing NASCAR for its decision to prevent the use of the popular "General Lee" 1969 Dodge Charger at the Phoenix Sprint Cup race in March.  
   "At a time when tens of millions of Americans are honoring their Union and Confederate ancestors during this Sesquicentennial of the Civil War, NASCAR has chosen to dishonor those Southerners who fought and died in that terrible conflict by caving to 'political correctness' and the uninformed concerns of corporate sponsors," Jones said in a release.

   "This is also an extraordinary insult to rural Southerners, who are NASCAR's oldest and most fervent fan base, and it sends a message against inclusion and against the need for diversity.  Many of us who are descended from ancestors who fought for the South see this as a crude dishonoring of our kinfolks and our heritage. Our ancestors were proud Americans who had fought for our Nation before the Civil War and have served honorably in every conflict since then.

   "The Confederate Battle Flag is on display at many National Battlefields and is displayed by countless historical and heritage groups who are descendants of those who fought in that crucible of the American experience.  'The Dukes of Hazzard' remains a beloved classic television show which is watched by Americans of all races and regions and is watched internationally as an upbeat reflection of the American Spirit. It is also watched by our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan and around the world.

   "While it is true that the Confederate Battle Flag has been used by extremist groups like the KKK, these groups also display the American Flag and the Christian cross in their rituals. However, the vast majority of the display of the St. Andrews Cross Flag is in a benign spirit of remembrance and reverence. I am a veteran of the Civil Rights Movement, a Life Member of the NAACP, and a proud member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans. 

   "As a cast member of 'The Dukes of Hazzard' and the owner of several 'General Lees', I can attest that the car and our show reflect the very best of American values, and that Hazzard County was a place where racism was not tolerated. This action by NASCAR  is a provocative and unnecessary over-reaction to a problem that doesn't exist.  It is a disgraceful and gratuitous insult to a lot of very decent people. It is prejudicial toward those good-hearted folks who, like Uncle Jesse Duke, are in fact 'never meanin' no harm'."

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Daytona or Phoenix? Where is Dale Junior more likely to win?

   Daytona or Phoenix?

   Where does Dale Earnhardt Jr. think he is more likely to win? The answer could well surprise you.

   Earnhardt offered his opinion during Thursday's Media Day at Daytona International Speedway while discussing the uncertainty of how the racing will unfold the next two weeks at Daytona.

   "This weekend will be enjoyable but I am looking forward to going to Phoenix because I know I have better odds of winning there. I look forward to going to tracks where I’m driving the car, where I can make a difference. I don’t know what is going to happen in the Daytona 500, I don’t even have a clue what the race is going to be like now and that’s frustrating but that’s just the way it is," Earnhardt said.

   "We’ll go through Shootout practice tomorrow and get the chance to practice a little bit and see what works and doesn’t work. Then we’ll run the Shootout and really see some people play their hand and see what we’re capable of doing and after that race we’ll have a pretty good idea of what to expect the rest of the week. Right now, I have no knowledge and it’s frustrating as a driver to go in a situation like that.

   "Everything we’re going to have to learn, we’re going to have to learn really fast in just a few hours of practice. Just waiting to get that going, waiting to get that practice started and see what kind of racing we are going to be doing.”

   For the record, Earnhardt has two career Sprint Cup wins at both tracks.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

M. Waltrip gets Daytona 500 ride

   Add the Daytona 500 to Michael Waltrip's busy Speedweeks schedule.

   Hillman Racing and Aaron’s Inc. announced Monday two-time Daytona 500 champion Michael Waltrip will drive the No. 40 Aaron’s Dream Machine Toyota in the 2012 Daytona 500 for the organization. The race will mark Waltrip’s 75th start at Daytona in one of NASCAR’s top three series - Sprint Cup, Nationwide and Camping World Trucks, the most of any driver.

   “Aaron’s really does make your dreams come true,” said Waltrip. “When I was a kid thinking about racing in Daytona I never dreamed I would start more NASCAR races there than anyone. That’s amazing.”

   Waltrip said it takes many factors for success.

   “You have to have a great sponsor to race and Aaron’s has been a great sponsor for a long time.” Waltrip said. “I appreciate what the folks at Hillman Racing including Joe Falk are putting together. Hopefully my experience at Daytona will help them get out of the gate strong with their new team.”

   Waltrip will race the No. 55 Aaron’s Dream Machine Toyota in the Feb. 18 Budweiser Shootout, oversee his three Cup teams at Michael Waltrip Racing and host several top executives from corporate America attending the races with the team. He will also continue his television work serving as a commentator for Speed's Truck series broadcasts and begin his new role as an analyst for the Fox NASCAR Sunday broadcasts, joining his brother and Hall of Fame member Darrell Waltrip.

Monday, February 13, 2012

2012 Budweiser Shootout entries

   Entries filed as of Monday for Saturday night's Budweiser Shootout at Daytona International Speedway:

   Car, driver, make
   No. 1, Jamie McMurray, Chevrolet
   No. 2, Brad Keselowski, Dodge
   No. 5, Kasey Kahne, Chevrolet
   No. 9, Marcos Ambrose, Ford
   No. 11, Denny Hamlin, Toyota
   No. 14, Tony Stewart, Chevrolet
   No. 15, Clint Bowyer, Toyota
   No. 16, Greg Biffle, Ford
   No. 17, Matt Kenseth, Ford
   No. 18, Kyle Busch, Toyota
   No. 20, Joey Logano, Toyota
   No. 22, A.J. Allmendinger, Dodge
   No. 24, Jeff Gordon, Chevrolet
   No. 27, Paul Menard, Chevrolet
   No. 29, Kevin Harvick, Chevrolet
   No. 31, Jeff Burton, Chevrolet
   No. 34, David Ragan, Ford
   No. 39, Ryan Newman, Chevrolet
   No. 42, Juan Pablo Montoya, Chevrolet
   No. 48, Jimmie Johnson, Chevrolet
   No. 51, Kurt Busch, Chevrolet
   No. 55, Michael Waltrip, Toyota
   No. 56, Martin Truex Jr., Toyota
   No. 88, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Chevrolet
   No. 99, Carl Edwards, Ford

Friday, February 10, 2012

RAB Racing suspends NASCAR driver John Wes Townley

   RAB Racing issued a statement on Friday saying it was replacing driver John Wes Townley until "his return is deemed appropriate" following Townley's arrest Tuesday for drunk driving in Georgia.

   You can read details of Townley's arrest here.

   "Obviously, this is an unfortunate situation," said team owner Robby Benton. "However, we have to react to the severity of the incident accordingly. His actions do not reflect those of RAB Racing, nor the sponsors associated with the team.

   "John Wes has accepted full responsibility, and will take the necessary personal steps in order to correct his actions, among other internal sanctions. We stand by John Wes, and will welcome him back to the team at the appropriate time."

   Townley was planning to run fulltime for RAB Racing in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series this season.

   No replacement driver has been named at this time. 

   NASCAR spokesman Kerry Tharp said the sanctioning body has been in close communication with the team and will continue to monitor the situation until if - or when - the team decides to bring Townley back as its driver.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Lenny Kravitz to perform at the 2012 Daytona 500

   Rock superstar Lenny Kravitz will perform the Daytona 500 Pre-Race Show, the pre-race extravaganza leading up to the start of “The Great American Race” at Daytona International Speedway on Sunday, Feb. 26.

   Kravitz, who has sold more than 35 million albums and is the only musician in history to win the Grammy for best male vocals in rock music four times consecutively, will perform three songs prior to the start of the 54th annual Daytona 500 – the season-opening event to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.

   Allfans that purchase a Pre-Race/Sprint FANZONE access pass for the Daytona 500 will be able to view Kravitz’s Daytona 500 Pre-Race Show, as well as driver introductions, from the grass tri-oval area.

   "Lenny Kravitz is an iconic performer and multi-talented musician - he will deliver a rousing performance prior to the start of the 54th Daytona 500,” Daytona International Speedway President Joie Chitwood III said. “Race fans will experience a first-class, heart-pounding pre-race show that will serve as the perfect prelude to what will be an historic and thrilling afternoon of NASCAR racing on the high banks of Daytona.”

   In addition to his Daytona 500 Pre-Race Concert, a special ticket package designed around Kravitz has been created that includes a Daytona 500 ticket, Pre-Race/Sprint FANZONE access and VIP area access to Kravitz’s performance. Packages start at $164.

   For more information on tickets for the 54th annual Daytona 500 and Sprint FANZONE/Pre-Race access, race fans can go online at or call 1-800-PITSHOP.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Is Kurt Busch NASCAR's most disliked driver?

   The results of a Forbes poll of America's Most Disliked Athletes included one NASCAR driver - Kurt Busch came in at No. 10.

   NFL quarterback Michael Vick and golfer Tiger Woods tied at the top spot in the poll. About 60 percent of fans polled disliked Vick, but more people expressed a strong dislike for Vick compared to Woods.

   The survey was conducted by Nielsen and E-Poll Market Research. Scores were derived from the total percentage of fans that claim their view of an athlete is "dislike"; "dislike a lot" or "dislike somewhat." The field is limited to those registering at least 10% awareness with the general public.

   Busch's score came in at 42 percent.

   Since Busch was the only NASCAR driver to crack the poll, he unofficially picks up the title of NASCAR's most disliked driver. At least for the time being.

   To see more of the Forbes poll, go here.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

NASCAR on Fox 2012 schedule

NASCAR on FOX 2012 Schedule

Date Track Event Coverage Begins

Sat. Feb. 18 Daytona Int’l Speedway Budweiser Shootout 8 PM

Sun. Feb. 19 Daytona Int’l Speedway Daytona 500 Qualifying 1 PM

Sun. Feb. 26 Daytona Int’l Speedway Daytona 500 Noon 

Sun. March 4 Phoenix Int’l Speedway Racing from Phoenix 2:30 PM

Sun. March 11 Las Vegas Motor Speedway Racing from Las Vegas 2:30 PM

Sun. March 18 Bristol Motor Speedway Racing from Bristol 12:30 PM

Sun. March 25 Auto Club Speedway Racing from Fontana 2:30 PM

Sun. April 1 Martinsville Speedway Racing from Martinsville 12:30 PM

Sat. April 14 Texas Motor Speedway Racing from Fort Worth 7:00 PM

Sun. April 22 Kansas Speedway Racing from Kansas City 12:30 PM

Sat. April 28 Richmond Int’l Raceway Racing from Richmond 7:00 PM

Sun. May 6 Talladega Superspeedway Racing from Talladega 12:00 PM

Sat. May 12 Darlington Raceway Racing from Darlington 6:30 PM

Sun. May 27 Charlotte Motor Speedway Racing from Charlotte 5:30 PM

Sun. June 3 Dover Int’l Speedway Racing from Dover 12:30 PM

All times Eastern; Schedule subject to change

Monday, February 6, 2012

WWE's John Cena to start Daytona 500

   WWE Superstar John Cena will wave the green flag as honorary starter of the 54th annual Daytona 500 on Sunday, Feb. 26 at Daytona International Speedway. Cena was invited to participate in this year’s race by 2011 title runner-up Carl Edwards during the broadcast of Monday night's "Raw" show on USA Network.

   During the scene, Edwards got out of his official No. 99 Fastenal Ford and told Cena, “NASCAR asked me to come to Monday Night Raw and personally invite you to drop the green flag and officially start the Daytona 500 on February 26.” An appreciative John Cena enthusiastically accepted with an emphatic “Yes!” 

   "John Cena is the greatest Superstar in WWE today,” Daytona International Speedway President Joie Chitwood III said. “We look forward to seeing him on the flag stand waving the green flag to start ‘The Great American Race’ and kick off the new NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season.”

   Cena, who made his WWE debut in 2002, is a 10-time world champion. He can be seen each week on the hit cable series Monday Night Raw on USA Network. The avid NASCAR fan will headline WrestleMania against The Rock at Sun Life Stadium in Miami on Sunday, April 1, 2012.  

   Cena, like many NASCAR drivers, has a long standing relationship with the Make-A-Wish Foundation. He is on pace to grant his 300th wish, making him the first celebrity wish granter ever to reach that goal. The Make-A-Wish Foundation recently dedicated a room to WWE at the foundation’s headquarters in Phoenix in honor of Cena’s dedication to children with life-threatening medical conditions.

NASCAR drivers looking for votes

   Carl Edwards and Trevor Bayne, race winners in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, could soon add “Dance Machine” and “Gnarliest Newb” to their respective resumes.

   Edwards and Bayne have been nominated as part of Cartoon Network’s second annual Hall of Game Awards, which air Monday, Feb. 20 at 7 p.m. ET. Five-time Cup Series champion and 2011 “Dance Machine” nominee Jimmie Johnson will also present “The World’s Fastest Award” with a special cameo appearance.

   The show, hosted by former NBA star Shaquille O’Neal, is a high-energy, off-the-wall, multi-platform experience that lets viewers vote and honor their favorite sports stars and sports moments of the year.

   Edwards and Bayne have been nominated to compete in the “Dance Machine” and “Gnarliest Newb” categories. Edwards’ signature victory celebration, a backflip from his car, catapulted him to be a finalist in the “Dance Machine” category. Bayne’s improbable Daytona 500 victory as a 20-year-old in only his second Cup start propelled him to compete in what is essentially the “Rookie of the Year” category in this year’s awards.

   Fans can vote for Edwards and Bayne on now through Friday, Feb. 17.