Tuesday, April 30, 2013

NASCAR suspends two Nationwide Series team members

Two NASCAR Nationwide Series Teams Penalized Following Post-Race Incidents At Richmond International Raceway

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (April 30, 2013) – Penalties have been levied to two NASCAR Nationwide Series teams as a result of their involvement in separate post-race incidents following last Friday’s race at Richmond International Raceway.

Thomas Costello and Michael Scearce, both crew members for the No. 2 team, have each been fined $15,000 and suspended from NASCAR until the completion of the next four NASCAR Nationwide Series Championship events. They have also been placed on NASCAR probation until Dec. 31. Both Costello and Scearce were found to be in violation of Section 12-1 (Actions detrimental to stock car racing. Involved in an altercation with another competitor after the race had concluded).

Drivers Nelson Piquet Jr. (No. 30 car) and Brian Scott (No. 2 car) have been placed on NASCAR probation until June 26 for violating Section 12-1 and their involvement in an on-track altercation with their two cars after the race had concluded.

Crew chiefs Chris Carrier (No. 30 car) and Phil Gould (No. 2 car) have likewise been placed on NASCAR probation until June 26 as a result of the on-track incident between their two drivers.

Monday, April 29, 2013

NASCAR: "We want our athletes and our sport to look like America."

   NBA veteran Jason Collins has come out as first openly gay male athlete player still active in a major American professional sport. Other gay athletes, including former NBA center John Amaechi, have waited until retirement to divulge their sexuality publicly.

   Collins has received mostly positive reaction, from teammates, friends and even former President Bill Clinton.

   Collins' decision sparked discussion on Monday to whether participants in other sports - or the sanctioning bodies themselves - would react in a similar fashion is faced with the same issue.

   NASCAR was asked to provide a statement in that regard. Marcus Jadotte, NASCAR Vice President of Public Affairs and Multicultural Development, responded:

   "NASCAR is a recognized leader in diversity and inclusion initiatives in professional sports and home to the best drivers in the world. We want our athletes and our sport to look like America, and exclusion or intolerance of any kind - whether behind the wheel, on pit road or in the garage - is not a part of that formula."

   In addition, in a published interview last month, reigning Sprint Cup Series champion Brad Keselowski said what matters in NASCAR is if someone can win.
    When asked if an openly gay driver would have more trouble earning acceptance from the fans or their fellow drivers, Keselowski said, "I can't speak for the fans, I can only speak for myself, but in this garage, if you can win, people will want to be a part of what you can do."

Charlotte Motor Speedway launches its version of "American Idol"


  Fans across the Carolinas should start practicing their rendition of the national anthem or “God Bless America” because this May the Charlotte Motor Speedway “Speedway Superstar Tour” presented by Coca-Cola is looking for performers to headline at the 10 Greatest Days in Racing.

    The Speedway Superstar Tour presented by Coca-Cola is open for talented performers to try out May 1 through 15 at a mobile audition studio, as it visits 10 cities throughout North and South Carolina. For the audition, contestants (ages 18 or older) will be allowed to perform an a cappella rendition (without music or instrumental accompaniment) of either the national anthem of the United States or “God Bless America.” Performances will be limited to 60 seconds and videotaped for use on a contest voting website.

“We have thousands of talented race fans and want to get them more involved in being part of the 10 Greatest Days in Racing,” said Marcus Smith, president and general manager of Charlotte Motor Speedway. “We look forward to seeing some great performances around the Carolinas and then having our winners perform at Charlotte Motor Speedway during our spectacular pre-race activities.”

Fans will have an opportunity to vote on their favorite performances from May 1 through May 22 online. For official rules and details, go here.
Five winners will be selected to perform at Charlotte Motor Speedway during the 10 Greatest Days of Racing, including “God Bless America” at the N.C. Education Lottery 200 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race; “God Bless America” at the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race; the national anthem or “God Bless America” at the HISTORY 300 NASCAR Nationwide Series race; or “God Bless America” at the Coca-Cola 600 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race. All winners will also receive two tickets to the race at which they perform.

The Speedway Superstar Tour kicks off on May 1 at Charlotte Motor Speedway, and will then travel to Pineville, N.C. that day. The tour will visit Greenville and Spartanburg, S.C., on May 2; Columbia, S.C., on May 3; Myrtle Beach, S.C., on May 5; Wilmington, N.C., on May 6; Fayetteville, N.C., on May 7; Raleigh, N.C., on May 9; Durham, N.C., on May 10; Greensboro, N.C., on May 11; Winston-Salem, N.C., on May 13; and return to Charlotte on May 14 and 15.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Ten years ago was Jerry Nadeau's last weekend as a NASCAR driver

  It was 10 years ago this race Jerry Nadeau suffered what turned out to be a career-ending head injury in a wreck during a Sprint Cup Series practice session at Richmond. Nadeau, then 32 years old, spent 22 days at Virginia Commonwealth University Medical Center before being transferred to the Charlotte Institute of Rehabilitation for further therapy.

   He had one career victory to his credit (Atlanta, 2000) and would never race in NASCAR again. Nadeau currently lives in Davidson, N.C., with his wife and daughter.

NASCAR's Pemberton: "We're here to regulate the rulebook"

   Robin Pemberton, NASCAR's vice president of competition, addressed the media Friday at Richmond International Raceway about the penalties NASCAR handed down to Matt Kenseth's No. 20 Toyota team earlier this week.
   Here is Pemberton's opening statement:
   "Over the last two or three weeks as everybody knows, we've had some significant penalties and they're in all areas of the rule book.  We're here to not judge these penalties, whether they are performance enhancing, but we're really here just to regulate the rule book.
   "We've got the rules in play. They're put there a lot of times by NASCAR, but with input from the teams, manufacturers and outside experts, and it's our job to manage those rules and manage that rule book as it relates to the garage area. The emphasis, as everyone knows, it's about safety, it's about competition, and it's about cost‑containment.
   "So moving forward it's our job to just regulate the rule book. In the rule book there are different facets and we've put parameters in that are weights, measures, heights, dimensions coordinates to build chassis and bodies, and it's in quite detail. So the teams know where they can and can't go, and there are areas that they can work in. Those are the areas between the measurements where we do give both ends of it, whether it's high or low or heavy or light.
   "That being said, it's like I said, we're not here to judge the performance on any of these.  We are strictly here to regulate the rule book and keep a level playing field for the garage area in which to work and make sure everybody gets a fair chance at competing."


Ryan Gifford earns latest victory for NASCAR's diversity program


    Ryan Gifford converted a little patience into his elusive first NASCAR K&N Pro Series East victory Thursday night at Richmond International Raceway.

   The 24-year-old from Winchester, Tenn., drove away from runner-up Brandon Gdovic and third-place Cole Custer on a late-race restart to take the win in the Blue Ox 100. It was redemption for Gifford, who was in contention last year at Richmond until a cut tire in the closing laps ended his night.

   This time, Gifford qualified 11th, conserved his tires and methodically worked his way to the front.

   Gifford became the fourth different driver to win a race in the series for Rev Racing since the organization began to field cars for NASCAR's Drive For Diversity in 2010. Gifford has been with the team since its first year and was making his 44th career start.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

At what point will Denny Hamlin consider not returning this season?

  NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Denny Hamlin talked about his visit with doctors this week and the determination that he continue to sit out races.

    Hamlin was asked, is there a point where he will consider not returning this season and go ahead with surgery on bulging discs that were already bothering him?

    Here was his response:

    "I think if this goes past Darlington then I don't know what the chances of us making the Chase are even if we were to race this weekend, race next weekend or the one after -- I don't know the chances. There's a lot of good teams that you have to beat to guarantee you're going to win the races. Obviously, if it goes past Darlington our chances are crushed even harder. Eventually you have to have a shutdown point of not going out there and racing for nothing at a point," Hamlin said.

    "I think a recovery on the kind of surgery that I would like to have is about a month-and-a-half or so -- I could potentially come back maybe for the tail end of the year. It wouldn't be a season-ending -- I don't think anything would be season-ending I guess you could say.
Eventually you have to know the point at which you're looking at improbabilities of making the Chase and just being smart about it. If everyone keeps getting these penalties, I'm going to be the points leader soon."

Matt Kenseth's reaction to NASCAR penalties: 'Grossly unfair'

   NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Matt Kenseth took questions on Thursday at Richmond International Raceway prior to participating in the Denny Hamlin Short Track Showdown charity race.

   He was asked several questions about the unprecedented penalties NASCAR levied on his No. 20 Toyota team on Wednesday:

   Q: What was your reaction to the penalties NASCAR announced yesterday?  Do you think they were severe?
   Kenseth: "I think the penalties are grossly unfair. I think it's borderline shameful. There's no argument the part was wrong. They weighed it and it was wrong. However, there is an argument that there certainly was no performance advantage. If you can find any unbiased, reputable, knowledgeable engine-builder and if they saw the facts, what all the rods weighed. The average weight of all the rods was well above the minimum -- 2.5 (grams) above the minimum at least. There was one in there that was way heavy. There was no performance advantage, there was no intent, it was a mistake. JGR (Joe Gibbs Racing) had no control over it. Certainly to crush Joe Gibbs like that -- to say they can't win an owner's championship with the 20 this year is just, I can't wrap my arms around that, it just blows me away. And the same with Jason Ratcliff (crew chief).  I don't feel bad for myself at all, but for Jason and Joe, I just couldn't feel any worse. There's no more reputable, honest hard-working guys with good reputations more so than those two -- I feel really bad for them."

   Q: What affects you the most about the penalties - losing points or damaging your reputation?
   Kenseth: "It's not really about me at all, honestly. I think that certainly, you know it depends, everybody is going to look at it different. You're going to get people that know absolutely nothing about the whole situation and kind of cheer or whatever - I can take all that fan backlash - it doesn't honestly bother me really in the slightest. I feel bad for Joe (Gibbs, owner) and Jason (Ratcliff, crew chief) the most and our partners as well. Even taking away the pole eligibility and all that stuff. Anybody in the garage, and like I said, any knowledgeable, reputable unbiased engine builder -- they know there was no advantage there. There was probably a disadvantage there if nothing else for the stuff being unbalanced. I don't argue, there was a scale and it says it has to weigh 225 grams and if it weighs 224.99, it's illegal. I don't think any of us have any
argument about that. I just think the penalty is way over the top for that. It wasn't anything trying to gain an advantage. It wasn't an advantage and it was a mistake. I think that should have been taken into account."

   Q: How do you overcome the penalties and move forward?
"Well, I don't think there's any more we can do. I think my team has done an incredible job this year as far as performance. We've ran better than I could have ever dreamed. We don't have all the finishes, but yet we do have two wins. I think it's
business as usual. I think we have to -- probably when I walk out of here in 15 minutes or whatever -- pretty much put it behind us and hope the appeals process works and we get some people in there to look at everything that are reasonable and hopefully get the penalties at least reduced some. I think other than that, we put it behind us. Business as usual. I get to work with Jason (Ratcliff, crew chief) this weekend and go out and try to win a pole and try to win the race and just go with that attitude every week and just try to do the things we know how to do and keep trying to grow as a race team, and try to get better."

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Matt Kenseth/Joe Gibbs Racing hit with unprecedented NASCAR penalty

Driver loses 50 championship points; crew chief fined $200,000, suspended six races

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Penalties have been handed down to the No. 20 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series team as a result of rule violations discovered in the post-race engine inspection April 23 at the NASCAR Research and Development Center.
The No. 20 car was found to have violated Sections 12-1 (actions detrimental to stock car racing); 12-4J (any determination by NASCAR officials that the race equipment used in the event does not conform to NASCAR rules); and 20-5.5.3 (E) (Only magnetic steel connecting rods with a minimum weight of 525.0 grams will be permitted; connecting rod failed to meet the minimum connecting rod weight) of the 2013 rule book.

As a result of this violation, NASCAR has assessed the following penalties:

• Crew chief Jason Ratcliff has been fined $200,000 and suspended from NASCAR until the completion of the next six NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship points events (a period of time that also includes the non-points NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race).

• Car owner Joe Gibbs has lost 50 championship car owner points; the first-place finish from April 21 at Kansas Speedway will not earn bonus points toward the accumulated aggregate car owner points total after the completion of the first 26 events of the current season and will not be credited toward the eligibility for a car owner Wild Card position; has had the owner’s license for the No. 20 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series car suspended until the completion of the next six championship points events, therefore being ineligible to receive championship car owner points during that period of time.

• Driver Matt Kenseth has lost 50 championship driver points; the Coors Light Pole award from April 19 at Kansas Speedway will not be allowed for eligibility into the 2014 Sprint Unlimited; the first-place finish from April 21 at Kansas Speedway will not earn bonus points toward the accumulated aggregate driver points total after the completion of the first 26 events of the current season and will not be credited toward the eligibility for a driver Wild Card position.

• The loss of five NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Manufacturer Championship points.

NASCAR hits Truck series points leader with harsh penalty


   NASCAR on Wednesday hit Truck Series points leader Johnny Sauter with one of the series' harshest penalties after it found an altered fuel cell on his No. 98 Toyota last week at Kansas Speedway.

   Joe Shear, crew chief for Sauter's team, has been suspended for the next four races and fined $10,000. Shear was also placed on NASCAR probation through Dec. 31. In addition, Sauter - who won the series' first two races of the season - was stripped of 25 points.

   Sauter, who was the points leader following last Saturday's race at Kansas, is now tied for second with Jeb Burton. Both drivers are 13 points behind new leader, Matt Crafton. Crafton is Sauter's teammate at ThorSport Racing. The No. 98 team was also docked 25 owner points.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Qualifying changes to NASCAR Sprint Cup Series road course events

   From NASCAR:

   NASCAR announced Monday that the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series will implement the group-based road course qualifying procedure used in NASCAR Nationwide and NASCAR Touring Series competition during its road-course events at Sonoma Raceway and Watkins Glen International. Under the new procedure, cars will qualify in groups instead of the traditional single-car qualifying runs held on oval race tracks.
   “The change will add an exciting element to road-course qualifying,” said Robin Pemberton, NASCAR vice president of competition. “Fans will be treated to new strategy and increased competition with several cars on track at once.”

   The new qualifying rules for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at road courses are as follows:

 · Cars attempting to qualify will be divided into groups. The number of groups, and amount of cars in each, will depend on the number of cars that practice for the event.

 · Group assignments will be based on final practice times.

 · Each qualifying group will be on-track for a set period of time, determined by the Series Director.

 · A car’s best lap time during the group session will be the qualifying lap time of record.

 · A group’s time begins when the first car receives the green flag at the start/finish line.

   “This is going to be a terrific new format for our NASCAR weekend,” said Steve Page, president and general manager of Sonoma Raceway. “It will intensify the action, with multiple cars on the track at the same time. It’s a very positive development for our fans.”

    "The new format of qualifying at Watkins Glen International enhances the fan experience which is our top priority,” said Michael Printup, president of Watkins Glen. “Qualifying on Saturday for our Cheez-ItTM 355 at The Glen is even more of a not-to-be missed aspect of a weekend of high-quality racing.”

The new format will debut with the Toyota Save-Mart 350 at Sonoma Raceway on June 23 and will return at Watkins Glen for the Cheez-ItTM 355 at the Glen on August 11.

Have you heard "The Joey Logano Song?" Joey Logano has.

   Megan McCormick, a high school sophomore from Ohio, describes herself as a big stock-car racing fan, a girl who “enjoys the sound of roaring engines.”

    The 16-year-old’s favorite NASCAR driver is Joey Logano and Megan, a singer/songwriter penned "The Joey Logano Song," a sort of sappy, tongue-in-check teen love song.

    Check out the video.

    Also, check here to read the story from The Toledo Blade on Megan getting to meet her favorite driver.

Is solar power on NASCAR's radar? "Absolutely yes" says official

   Dr. Mike Lynch, NASCAR's Managing Director of Green Innovation, recently took part in a question and answer session with Fortune magazine about how NASCAR is "going green."

    During the interview, Lynch was asked about solar power:

    "Do you ever think that NASCAR could exist racing cars that are driven by solar?"

    Here was Lynch's answer:

    "Well, you know, then you're kind of getting into the concept of a very exotic sort of solar car or charging an electric car or plug-in hybrid batteries with solar power. Is that something that we have on our advanced concept radar screen? Is this something that we're actively analyzing? Is this something we're paying real professional attention to? The answer is absolutely yes," he said.

    "Just like with the introduction of Sunoco Green E15 and all the other things that we've been doing, we have - like any other organization - very long lead times of analysis and prudent consideration before we're going to pilot or introduce something, especially when you're talking about something in a core racing series."

    Go here to read the entire interview.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Shall we call this the "Danica Patrick Rule?"

   NASCAR has issued the following bulletin to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series rule book, which makes an update to the section dealing with overall car weight.

    In Section 20-2.2, the rule book has added the following new or altered sections which became effective April 3:

    * The driver's weight will be measured by NASCAR Officials at one (1) or more date(s) and time(s) determined by NASCAR in its discretion. This weight may be added to the left side of the car.

    *The following is a schedule of overall car weight in relationship to the starting driver weight:

    180 lbs. - Above // 3,300 lbs.
    170 lbs. - 179 lbs. // 3,310 lbs.
    160 lbs. - 169 lbs. // 3,320 lbs.
    150 lbs. - 159 lbs. // 3,330 lbs.
    140 lbs. - 149 lbs. // 3,340 lbs.
    139 lbs. and under // 3,350 lbs.

    Previously, the rule book only addressed driver weight down to 140 pounds. The bulletin adds a new "139 lbs. and under" category. In effect, drivers under 140 pounds must now add an additional 10 pounds of weight to their car.

    In February, questions were raised if Danica Patrick could enjoy a weight advantage in her Cup car due to her low weight.

    To read what NASCAR officials said about it at the time, go here.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Dale Earnhardt Day set for April 29

   Dale Earnhardt Inc. and The Dale Earnhardt Foundation are proud to announce the 2013 Dale Earnhardt Day on Monday, April 29, at the DEI Corporate Headquarters on Hwy. 3, Mooresville, NC. The event will run 10 a.m.-6 p.m.
   The annual event in celebration of “The Intimidator’s" birthday is free and open to the public.

   The DEI Showroom will be opening its newest exhibit on Dale Day: “Being Dale Earnhardt”, which highlights the many facets of the life of the seven-time NASCAR Winston Cup champion. The new displays will allow fans to step inside the world of Dale Earnhardt.

   The Grand Showroom will also be open to the public, for the newest Dale Earnhardt Inc. vehicle display. The Grand Showroom is occasionally opened to the public, and this special event will give fans a rare opportunity to see these special vehicles up close.

   Cupcakes will be served in the afternoon – an annual tradition on Dale’s birthday celebration.

   For more information, check www.daleearnhardtinc.com.

Statement from Michael Waltrip Racing regarding NASCAR penalty


   “Michael Waltrip Racing is sensitive to working within the guidelines of NASCAR policy. This infraction clearly occurred as a result of a malfunction caused by race conditions. Therefore, we will not appeal. We thank NASCAR for providing a fair and equitable platform for all of its competitors and respect its decisions.”

NASCAR announces penalties on Nos. 2, 22 and 56 Sprint Cup teams

Three NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Teams Penalized Following Race At Texas Motor Speedway

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (April 17, 2013) – Penalties have been handed down to three NASCAR Sprint Cup Series teams following last Saturday’s race at Texas Motor Speedway.

   The No. 2 and No. 22 cars have been penalized. Both cars were found to be in violation of Sections 12-1; 12-4J and 20-12 (all suspension systems and components must be approved by NASCAR. Prior to being used in competition, all suspension systems and components must be submitted, in a completed form/assembly, to the office of the NASCAR Competition Administrator for consideration of approval and approved by NASCAR. Each such part may thereafter be used until NASCAR determines that such part is no longer eligible. All suspension fasteners and mounting hardware must be made of solid magnetic steel. All front end and rear end suspension mounts with mounting hardware assembled must have single round mounting holes that are the correct size for the fastener being used. All front end and rear end suspension mounts and mounting hardware must not allow movement or realignment of any suspension component beyond normal rotation or suspension travel.)

As a result of this violation and as it pertains to the No. 2 car the following penalties have been assessed:

·          Crew chief Paul Wolfe has been fined $100,000 and suspended from NASCAR until the completion of the next six NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship points events (including the non-points Sprint All-Star Race) and placed on probation until Dec. 31.

·       Car chief Jerry Kelley, team engineer Brian Wilson and team manager Travis Geisler (serves as team manager for both the No. 2 and No. 22 cars) have been suspended from NASCAR until the completion of the next six NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship points events (including the non-points Sprint All-Star Race) and placed on probation until Dec. 31.

·         The loss of 25 championship driver (Brad Keselowski) and 25 championship owner (Roger Penske) points.

As it pertains to the No. 22 car the following penalties have been assessed:

    · Crew chief Todd Gordon has been fined $100,000 and suspended from NASCAR until the completion of the next six NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship points events (including the non-points Sprint All-Star Race) and placed on probation until Dec. 31.

   · Car chief Raymond Fox and team engineer Samuel Stanley have been suspended from NASCAR until the completion of the next six NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship points events (including the non-points Sprint All-Star Race) and placed on probation until Dec. 31.

   · The loss of 25 championship driver (Joey Logano) and 25 championship owner (Walt Czarnecki) points.

   The No. 56 car was found to have violated Sections 12-1 (actions detrimental to stock car racing); 12-4J (any determination by NASCAR officials that the race equipment used in the event does not conform to NASCAR rules); and 20-12.8.1B (the car failed to meet the minimum front car heights during post-race inspection) of the 2013 rule book.

   As a result of this violation, crew chief Chad Johnston has been fined $25,000 and placed on NASCAR probation until June 5. The team has also been docked six championship driver (Martin Truex Jr.) and six championship owner (Michael Waltrip) points.

NASCAR fines Ron Hornaday $25,000, docks him 25 points

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Driver Ron Hornaday Jr. Penalized Following On-Track Incident at Rockingham Speedway

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (April 17, 2013) – NASCAR Camping World Truck Series driver Ron Hornaday Jr. has been penalized by NASCAR following his involvement in an on-track incident last Sunday at Rockingham Speedway.

Hornaday Jr., driver of the No. 9 truck, was found to have violated Section 12-1 (actions detrimental to stock car racing. Altercation with another competitor on the race track during a caution period) of the 2013 rule book.

As a result of this violation, Hornaday Jr. has been fined $25,000, docked 25 championship driver points and placed on NASCAR probation until June 12.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Congressman Pittenger also honors NASCAR champion Brad Keselowski


  Picture of Mooresville Mayor Miles Atkins, NASCAR champion Brad Keselowski, and Congressman Pittenger at White House ceremony

  WASHINGTON –Today, Congressman Robert Pittenger (NC-09) honored Mooresville resident Brad Keselowski and his Penske Racing team for winning the 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup championship. Congressman Pittenger hosted a reception at the U.S. Capitol and later joined Keselowski for a ceremony at the White House.

   “NASCAR is a source of entertainment for millions of Americans, but also a source of jobs to thousands of residents in Mooresville and the greater Charlotte region,”said Congressman Pittenger. “We’re proud that the 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup champion calls Mooresville home, and I congratulate Brad Keselowski not just for his championship, but for his commitment to serving the community.”

   In addition to chatting with Brad Keselowski and his race team, Congressman Pittenger used part of the reception to explain the economic impact of motorsports to other members of Congress.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Did Ron Hornaday get away with one at The Rock?

   After a caution had been displayed late in Sunday's NASCAR Truck Series race at Rockingham Speedway, Ron Hornaday intentionally wrecked driver Darrell Wallace Jr., sending him hard into the wall.

   Hornaday's only punishment at the time was to be put at the tail end of the longest line at the next restart. At least one driver in the past in a similar situation - Kyle Busch - was parked and missed two races for the move.

   NASCAR has said it will review the incident but would anything that came out this week make up for not addressing the issue correctly when it happened?

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Grandson of Bill France Jr. wins first NASCAR race

  Ben Kennedy captured his first career win in dominant fashion - leading the NAPA Auto Parts 150 wire-to-wire as the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East made its inaugural visit to Five Flags Speedway in Pensacola, Fla., on Saturday.
   Earlier in the day, Kennedy established himself as the one to beat at the half-mile track in his home state - topping the speed chart in practice and winning the Coors Light Pole Award in qualifying.

   The 21-year-old from Daytona Beach, the grandson of the late NASCAR Chairman Bill France Jr., held off multiple challenges throughout the 150-lap event and maintained command even after his sizeable lead was erased by a late-race caution.

   "It's so cool to come here to Pensacola and win," said Kennedy. "This is a track with so much prestige and this is phenomenal."

   Fifteen-year-old series rookie Gray Gaulding had to settle for second, with John Van Doorn third. Brett Moffitt came home fourth, followed by Kenzie Ruston. Bryon Ortiz, Dylan Kwasniewski, Sergio Pena, Ryan Gifford and Brandon Gdovic completed the top 10.

   Kennedy, the great-grandson of NASCAR founder Bill France Sr., got his first win last year in the Euro-Racecar Series in Tours, France. This was his first win in the U.S. and came in his 30th NASCAR K&N Pro Series East start. His previous best finish was third (twice).

NASCAR confiscates parts from both Penske cars

   Both Penske Racing cars my face penalties this week after NASCAR confiscated the rear end housing and other parts from both cars before Saturday night's NRA 500 at Texas Motor Speedway.

   Both the No. 2 Ford driven by Brad Keselowski and the No. 22 Ford driven by teammate Joey Logano went through pre-race inspection at least twice on Saturday before NASCAR had both teams remove parts from the rear end of both cars.

   So long as both cars still passed inspection, the drivers would assume their respective starting positions for the start of the race.

   Any NASCAR penalties would generally be released by Tuesday.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Jimmie Johnson on the fine line sports walk when it comes to rivalries

   Five-time Sprint Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson offered an interesting explanation on Friday to the fine line all of sports must walk between encouraging intense rivalries and promoting a rash of fights and punches.

    Johnson was asked why it was good for NASCAR to take - for the most part - a hands-off approach to rivalries. Here is Johnson's answer:

    "I think rivalries are good. That is the fine line that sports walk. Unfortunately, regardless of sport if it’s someone charging the mound like what happened yesterday to drivers charging other drivers that draws a lot more attention to whatever sport it is. There are a small percentage of people that like that and they want to see punches thrown, but I think in general sports fans like rivalries," Johnson said.

   "We all thrive for that moment. That is kind of a line we walk and where the wave crashes. We want the rivalries, we want heated emotions and we want door banging. I don’t think the fans want a sterile environment they want some trash talking. That is the part we want, but we don’t want broken backs. We don’t want drivers injured issues like that. It’s a fine line that our sport walks and all sports walk.”

Want to ask NASCAR star Denny Hamlin a question?

   Five NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stars will participate in a Q & A session with ticket tholds to the Denny Hamlin Short Track Showdown on April 25 prior to the race at Richmond International Raceway.

he Q&A is scheduled for 4:45 p.m. in the Amphitheater and is open to all April 25 ticketholders. Fans can tweet their questions ahead of time to @DHFoundation. Drivers scheduled to participate include: Hamlin (who will not race), Tony Stewart, Kyle Busch, Michael Waltrip and Matt Kenseth.

   This season marks the third year the Denny Hamlin Short Track Showdown will run at Richmond. The race, which typically features a dozen NASCAR drivers and celebrities battling on the ¾-mile track with some of the best local Late Model Stock Car drivers, will serve as a fundraiser for the Denny Hamlin Cystic Fibrosis Research Lab at the Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU.
   In 2012, the Denny Hamlin Foundation committed to a 3-year grant totaling $150,000 for the Children's Hospital of Richmond at VCU (CHoR).  Funds from the grant, which are raised through events like this year’s Short Track Showdown, will help accelerate the Denny Hamlin Cystic Fibrosis Research Lab's ability to bring new therapies to cystic fibrosis patients. In addition, the newly established Denny Hamlin Foundation Summer Scholars program will help train the next generation of CF research scientists.
   Tickets for the event are general admission and $25. Children 12 and younger are free with a ticketed adult. Tickets include the Blue Ox 100 NASCAR K&N Pro Series East race, which precedes the Short Track Showdown. Call (866) 455-7223 to purchase tickets.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Senator asks Fox Sports not to broadast Saturday night's NRA 500

April 11, 2013

Mr. Rupert Murdoch
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer
News Corporation
1211 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY 10036

Dear Mr. Murdoch: 

I write today to urge you to not broadcast NASCAR’s NRA 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on April 13th. This race, which is being sponsored by the National Rifle Association (NRA), is going to take place during the Senate’s consideration of legislation to reduce gun violence. The race not only brings national attention to an organization that has been the face of one side of this heated debate, it also features the live shooting of guns at the end of the race. This celebration of guns is inappropriate in the immediate wake of the Newtown massacre. But most importantly, broadcasting this race, which will highlight the NRA and its radical agenda during this time, sends a harmful signal to the families affected by gun violence, as well as the millions of Americans who support sensible gun control measures and enjoy your sports programming.

The horror that unfolded on December 14th at Sandy Hook Elementary School has sparked a national conversation about the adequacy of our gun laws. You, News Corporation and its subsidiaries, including Fox News, should contribute and continue to cover this discussion. Given that you have been outspoken in your support of gun reform, it is the height of irony that some would perceive that your company would now essentially endorse the NRA’s extreme position against such laws by broadcasting this event.
Shortly after the tragedy in Newtown, you called on policymakers and the President to strengthen our gun laws, asking, “when will politicians find courage to ban automatic weapons?” This valid question will be answered when the Senate considers major reforms to our gun laws in early to mid-April. As a senator, I can tell you that many of us possess the courage, and will strongly advocate for sensible gun reforms to take assault weapons and high-capacity magazines off our streets and require all gun purchasers to submit for a background check. 

You also challenged President Obama to show bold leadership on this issue after he addressed the nation.  I believe that the President has shown incredible leadership since the tragedy by trying to help our country, my state, and the community of Newtown heal in the wake of this terrible event. I would like to make a similar challenge to you.  You should play a constructive role in our national dialogue by refraining from broadcasting the NRA 500.  By airing this race you will be strengthening the brand of a radical organization that is currently standing in the way of meaningful progress on this issue. Today’s NRA bears little resemblance to the one of its founding. It stokes fear and perpetuates a perverse interpretation of the Second Amendment in order to sell more guns and fuel larger donations from gun manufacturers. After the events of Newtown, Aurora, Oak Creek, and so many other senseless tragedies, the NRA continues to say that the only solution to gun violence is more guns. It even disavows common sense measures, like universal background checks for gun purchases - a policy that enjoys the support of 74 percent of its members and that it advocated for in 1999.  

Considering your support of sane gun control measures and the extreme nature of the NRA, I urge you to not broadcast this race on April 13th.  Inserting Fox Sports in this debate at this critical time will give credence to an extreme organization that is opposed to reasonable policies to stem gun violence.  Thank you in advance for your consideration.


Christopher S. Murphy
United States Senator

Mr. Keselowski goes to Washington

   President Barack Obama will honor reigning NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Brad Keselowski next Tuesday at the White House.
   In a departure from recent seasons, only Keselowski and members of his championship-winning team will make the visit to Washington. In recent years, all drivers who qualified for the Chase for the Sprint Cup were invited.

   "Other sports have the priviledge to go to the White House and they don't bring all teams from the Final Four, they bring the championship team, so I think it falls in line with how other sports are treated," Keselowski told The Observer on Thursday.

   "It's always an honor to have the opportunity to go to the White House. It's probably more of an honor to go as the championship team. I really enjoyed going last year even though I wasn't a champion. I kind of feel bad for those who don't get to go who would have otherwise. But I'm going to have fun with it."

   Keselowski said the best part of being a champion is the showing of respect from different arenas, whether it be Washington, other sports stars or people in Hollywood.

   "That perspective from others is something I treasure and enjoy."

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Dale Jarrett, Bruton Smith among NASCAR Hall nominees

   Former Winston Cup champion Dale Jarrett and Speedway Motorsports Inc. chairman Bruton Smith are among the five new nominees for induction to the NASCAR Hall of Fame.

   The list of 25 nominees for the Class of 2014 was revealed Wednesday night and includes the 20 nominees not selected for this year’s class. In addition to Jarrett and Smith, the other nominees eligible for the Hall are Maurice Petty, chief engine builder for Petty Enterprises; five-time NASCAR weekly series national champion Larry Phillips; and the 1960 champion of what is now the Sprint Cup Series, Rex White.

   From the group of 25, five inductees will be elected by the NASCAR Hall of Fame voting panel, which includes a nationwide fan vote on NASCAR.com. Voting day for the 2014 class is set for May 22 at the Hall in uptown Charlotte.

   Jarrett, who was born in Conover, N.C., is the son of Hall of Fame member Ned Jarrett and was nominated in his first year of eligibility. Jarrett won the 1999 Winston Cup series championship and is a three-time winner of NASCAR’s biggest race, the Daytona 500. Jarrett, 56, most recently has worked as a TV commentator for race broadcasts with ESPN.

   Smith, born in Oakboro, N.C., first promoted a stock car event at age 18 in Midland. He currently is chairman of SMI, which owns eight race tracks across the country, including Charlotte Motor Speedway. SMI was the first motorsports company traded at the New York Stock Exchange.

   This round of nominees was selected by a 21-member nominating committee consisting of representatives from NASCAR, the NASCAR Hall of Fame and track owners. The committee’s votes were tabulated by accounting firm Ernst & Young.

   The five member Class of 2014 will be selected by a 54-member voting panel, which includes the entire nominating committee, as well as media members, manufacturer representatives, retired competitors (drivers, owners and crew chiefs) and industry leaders. In addition, the fan vote will result in the final ballot.


The 25 Nominees
 Red Byron: First champion in what now is Sprint Cup series, in 1949.

Richard Childress: 11-time champion car owner in NASCAR’s three national series.

Jerry Cook: Six-time NASCAR Modified champion.

H. Clay Earles: Founder of Martinsville (Va.) Speedway.

Tim Flock: Two-time champ in what now is Sprint Cup series.

Ray Fox: Legendary engine builder, owner of cars driven by Buck Baker, Junior Johnson, others.

Anne Bledsoe France: Helped build the sport with husband Bill France Sr.

Rick Hendrick: 13-time car owner champion in NASCAR’s three national series.

Jack Ingram: Two-time Grand National series champ in what now is the Nationwide series, 3-time Late Model Sportsman champ.

Bobby Isaac: 1970 NASCAR premier (now Sprint Cup) series champion.

Dale Jarrett: 1999 NASCAR premier (now Cup) series champion and three-time Daytona 500 winner.

Fred Lorenzen: 26 wins and winner of the Daytona 500 and World 600.

Raymond Parks: NASCAR’s first champion car owner.

Benny Parsons: 1973 NASCAR premier (now Sprint Cup) series champion.

Maurice Petty: Chief engine builder for Petty Enterprises.

Larry Phillips: Only five-time NASCAR Whelen All-American Series national champion.

Les Richter: Former NASCAR executive; former president of Riverside (Calif.) International Raceway.

Fireball Roberts: 33 wins in what now is Sprint Cup series, including the 1962 Daytona 500.

T. Wayne Robertson: Raised NASCAR popularity as R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. senior VP.

Wendell Scott: First African -American NASCAR premier (now Sprint Cup) series race winner.

Ralph Seagraves: Formed Winston-NASCAR partnership as executive with R.J. Reynolds.

O. Bruton Smith: Builder of Charlotte Motor Speedway and architect of Speedway Motorsports Inc.

Curtis Turner: Early personality, called the "Babe Ruth of stock car racing."

Joe Weatherly: Two-time NASCAR premier (now Sprint Cup) series champion
Rex White: 1960 NASCAR premier (now Sprint Cup) series champion.
   The following is a statement from Speedway Motorsports, Inc. Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of the Board O. Bruton Smith regarding Wednesday's announcement that he was one of five newcomers among the 25 nominees for the NASCAR Hall of Fame Class of 2014:
   "It is a great honor to be nominated as a candidate for the NASCAR Hall of Fame. Bill France Jr. once asked me to help him build NASCAR and I have literally been building monuments to the sport for my entire lifetime. Millions of people have attended NASCAR events at our speedways over the years and we've tried to be creative and innovative in an effort to help push the sport to a higher level. It's always been a perfect fit for me because I love racing and I love NASCAR fans."

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

NASCAR pit crew competition put on hold this season

   The annual NASCAR pit crew competition, which has been a staple of Sprint All-Star weekend activities the past eight years in Charlotte, is going on at least a one-year hiatus due to a lack of sponsorship.

  The event, which included individual and team competition, typically has been held on the Wednesday night prior to the all-star race.

   The winner of the team competition had been awarded the right to pick the first pit stall in the race, which pays $1 million to the winner driver. That selection process will now revert back to its traditional method, which is based on qualifying results.

   “As an industry, we were looking for the most sustainable model for the event,” said NASCAR spokesman Kerry Tharp.

   With no sponsorship and time running out before the typical date of the event at Time Warner Cable Arena, the decision was made to forgo the event this season.

   NASCAR hopes the event will return as early as the 2014 season, Tharp said.

   Sprint was the most recent sponsor of the competition but elected not to renew this year. Previous sponsors include Motorola and Craftsman.

   The biggest losers in the decision are the teams in NASCAR’s Sprint Cup Series.

   The annual competition remains the single biggest event which shines the spotlight on what many call the “unsung heroes” of race weekends – the pit crews.

   “This is a competition that will be greatly missed by all the crew guys,” said Trent Cherry, pit crew coach for Penske Racing and tire carrier for driver Joey Logano’s No. 22 Ford.
   "I was fortunate enough to be part of the winning team in 2007 and it was a great experience. The competition that it generates with all the crew guys was something that we all looked forward to."

   T.J. Ford, the jackman for Jimmie Johnson’s No. 48 team which won the team competition in 2012, called the decision a “heartbreaker.”

   “We obviously love that competition. It would be a shame for all the competitors, as well as the fans, for this All-Star contest to dissolve,” Ford said. “We have to keep it going.”  
   Who’s the fastest?
   Team winners of the annual NASCAR pit crew competition since its debut in Charlotte in 2005:
   Year, team, car
   2005, Evernham Motorsports, No. 9
   2006. Dale Earnhardt Inc., No. 1
   2007, Penske Racing, No. 12
   2008, Red Bull Racing, No. 83
   2009, Richard Childress Racing, No. 31
   2010, Joe Gibbs Racing, No. 11
   2011, Joe Gibbs Racing, No. 11
   2012, Hendrick Motorsports, No. 48