Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Austin Dillon on last weekend's Martinsville incident: 'I forgive Kevin'


   During his weekly SiriusXM Radio call in on "Tradin' Paint" on Wednesday afternoon, NASCAR Nationwide Series driver Austin Dillon was asked by Jim Noble and Chocolate Myers his opinion of the Ty Dillon/Kevin Harvick Martinsville Speedway incident from last weekend. 
   Here is a complete transcript of his response:

   “For me, I come from a fortunate situation growing up in a family that is in racing. My grandfather has given my brother and I both a great opportunity to go out and take advantage of those opportunities. If anybody out there doesn’t think that I should go after something that is in front of me, I don’t know what to say. I feel like this opportunity has been put in front of me and I am very blessed. I want to go out there and prove myself. I’ve given it everything I’ve had from the very beginning- from dirt racing, bandoleros to legend cars, knowing the whole time that if you don’t have a sponsor you can’t get to the race track the next week and that’s something my grandfather has taught me each and every week. Kevin Harvick is somebody in my family that is a hero. He was a hero and probably still will be. During a tough time when RCR needed someone to step up, Kevin Harvick did. He kept RCR up front in NASCAR for a long time. I’ve learned a lot from him over the years, both good and bad. He’s a great race car driver. No one can not say that he’s a great race car driver. He’s done a lot to teach me about different tracks that we’ve gone to. It definitely hurts to hear those things from him. I watched the race this weekend at Martinsville Speedway and I thought it was hard racing. I thought Ty had a good truck and I thought Harvick had a good truck. They got after it at a place like Martinsville and Ty was racing for points and thought like he needed to get to the next spot. Things are said in the heat of battle. I’ve learned that it’s better to forgive someone for what they’ve said. I’ve forgiven him already. It’s just tough. Going into this year I was thinking that Kevin Harvick was going to be a teammate of mine going into next year and that I was going to be able to learn from him. I wanted us to be able to work together so that we could win championships together at RCR. When we found out he was going to Stewart-Hass Racing, it hurt my feelings. I still knew, though, that we could do it at RCR. We’ve always been able to overcome things. I was going to go into this year, and still am, trying to learn as much as I could from him. I did and still thank him for everything he’s taught me and where I’m at today. My grandfather is the same way. He’s taught me a lot about the way to act and respect people. I forgive Kevin. It definitely hurts to hear some of those things that were said, but at the same time I wouldn’t have ever thought that those things would come out of his mouth because I’ve known him for a long time, played basketball with him, been over to his shop. I played basketball with him for 11 or 12 weeks and really got to know him. It sucks. It’s part of it. I feel like RCR has given Kevin Harvick everything they could to win a championship as far a team, as far as guys, the best pit crew we can put together. When he leaves he will know that we have given him every opportunity that we could as a company and as a family here at RCR to win. That’s all you can ask for as a driver. If he goes to Stewart-Hass Racing and finds what he needs I’ll be happy for him and we’ll move on. I think the biggest thing is to forgive him, move on and learn from it. I’m going on to the next week and trying to win this week at Texas and trying to win a NASCAR Nationwide Series Championship. I’m looking forward to the great things we have going on at RCR. We have a lot of positive things going on here. Right now I’m just happy as a person for everything that RCR has been able to give me and looking forward to trying to kick butt for years to come over here.”
   For a refresher on what happened at Martinsville, go here.

Statement from Christmas Abbott on her departure from MWR

   Christmas Abbott, who in February became the first woman hired by a Sprint Cup Series team as a full-time pit crew member, posted the following statement on her Facebook page on Wednesday. 

   The Observer reported Tuesday night Abbott had left the Michael Waltrip Racing organization and had yet to work during a race this season.

   "To all my fans ... Yes, I did leave MWR to attend to some personal items. While working through these items I kept the intent of returning to racing either with MWR or another team I could start the season with as a tire changer.

   "I am thankful for the time I had with MWR on the pit crew and the great development I had. I will say with conviction that this endeavor was never a publicity stunt for myself or MWR. I am a professional athlete that found pit crewing via the sport of CrossFit. I pursued this because of the challenge it brought and my intrigue to the sport collectively. 

   "Thank you all who have supported this and I continue to advocate women in the sport of NASCAR specifically as a tire changer. Love it or hate it but I will continue to live my life disregarding any limits others put on me and continue to push myself to the highest of my own potential." 

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

First female tire changer on Cup team leaves without changing a tire


   Christmas Abbott, who in February became the only woman employed in NASCAR as a full-time pit crew member, has left her Michael Waltrip Racing team without ever changing a tire in a race.

   Abbott's departure was confirmed on Tuesday night by a MWR spokesman. The team declined to release any other details regarding her departure.

   In February, Abbott, an elite-level fitness athlete whose journey to become a full-time pit crew member has been well-chronicled, was named to MWR's Sprint Cup organization's traveling pit support team.

   "I'm here to do whatever my coaches ask of me, and I don't want any handouts," Abbott said at the time of her hire. "I'm ready to work three races a weekend if that's what it takes to get me where I want to be.

   "I'm in it for thre long haul."

   Abbott, however, never made it into a race with the MWR organization and in recent months wasn't seen at the track on race day. 

   The most recent race Abbott appeared to work in a race was for a noncompetitive Truck series team during February Speedweeks at Daytona International Speedway.

Read more here: our knowledge, the last time Abbott changed a tire was on a non-competitive truck team during February’s Speedweeks in Daytona.

Kyle Petty: 'If the door is open ... it is easier to get here'

   Last Saturday's win by Darrell Wallace Jr. in the NASCAR Truck Series race at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway was important for many reasons, but the most important may yet to be felt.

   Former driver and current Fox Sports 1 analyst Kyle Petty talks about the long-term ramifications of Wallace's victory - the first by an African-American driver in a NASCAR national series race in 50 years.

   "Saturday was a big step for NASCAR, its Drive for Diversity program and the sport in general. No matter how much we want to rewrite history and make it politically correct, NASCAR predominantly was a white, Southern sport for so many years. Only in the last 20 or 25 years has it become more of a national sport," Petty said.

   "The doors don’t seem to have opened as quickly or there haven’t been as many people coming through any open doors. But we’ve been seeing change with Danica Patrick, Johanna Long, Bubba Wallace, engineers and crew members all through the industry. The sport is well on its way to being just a microcosm of any other business.

   "The last barrier to break is the driver barrier. It’s incredibly tough to break that driver barrier because of the sheer numbers. There are 43 Cup drivers, 30 to 40 Nationwide drivers and 30 to 40 Truck drivers. You’re looking at no more than 100 or 125 people, so the numbers are against everyone - not just minorities. But if the door is open and the barrier has been broken, it is easier for people with talent, regardless of race, creed or color, to get here.”

Monday, October 28, 2013

Clint Bowyer: 'The future will be brighter'

   A cheating scandal, the loss of a major sponsor, the loss of a team for next season and most recently the loss of a driver for the remainder of this year. Michael Waltrip Racing has taken its share of hits over the last two months and Sprint Cup Series driver Clint Bowyer has been in the middle of much of it.

   On Monday, he was asked about the morale at MWR right now considering all of the things that have happened of late.

   Here was his response:

   "I guess the biggest thing is we have a good game plan. You've got to be able to come up with a goal, set goals, come up with a plan of where do we go from here? Certainly, man, it's been a day‑by‑day thing," Bowyer said. "No more than I felt like we were turning the corner of trying to get past what happened in Richmond, and Brian out of the blue comes up with his illness. It was like 'Oh, my God, not again. When does it stop?'

   "But, nonetheless, very proud, to be honest with you, of where we're at considering all the circumstances. I mean, we're sixth in points. With all the distractions, all of the melees that have been going on with our organization, it just seems like it would have been very easy to get your eye off the ball and lose focus and not even completely be a factor at all.

   "I'm pleasantly surprised of the dedication and the hard work and the drive of everybody involved.  We've worked hard to get where we're at and the hard work and dedication will get us through all of this. The future will be brighter ahead."

Sunday, October 27, 2013

What Kevin Harvick had to say about Saturday's Truck race one day later

   Sprint Cup Series driver Kevin Harvick spoke to Fox Sports 1's "NASCAR RaceDay" hosts John Roberts, Kyle Petty and Larry McReynolds on Sunday morning about Saturday's incident with Ty Dillon in the NASCAR Truck race.

    What made you angry in yesterday’s incident?
   “I think there was just a lot of emotion involved. I hate it for everybody at RCR. You go back and look at the things that happened, and sometimes you regret the things that you say for sure. Yesterday was definitely one of them. I hate it for my guys, and everybody working on the cars. Obviously, when those emotional situations come about; you say things that you really don’t want to say. I just want to apologize to all of those guys, work hard today and try and do everything we can to win the race."

   Were these comments a result of the frustration and the pressure?
   “I think yesterday was just some frustration on how the race ended. You never want to be in a situation like were in, and obviously, the short-track racing and everything that happened, you try to do the right things, and yesterday I didn’t do the right thing. We just have to do what we have to do today to put ourselves in a position to be as successful as we can.”

   Have you had a conversation with Ty Dillon?
   “No. I think it’s best for all of us to just cool down and have a sensible conversation about things that are going. I wish that’s what I would have done yesterday. It’s one of those situations that you don’t want to be a part of, but I don’t have anybody else to blame but myself.”

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Video of the sledgehammer throwing incident in Saturday's NASCAR race

   Ty Dillon and Kevin Harvick were involved in a late-race wreck on the track that spilled over onto pit road at Martinsville Speedway on Saturday. And then the pit crews got involved, which included a sledgehammer being thrown at Harvick's truck.

   Darrell Wallace Jr. won the race, becoming the first African-American driver to win a NASCAR national series race since Wendell Scott won in Jacksonville, Fla., in 1963.

Former stuntman, NASCAR owner Hal Needham dies

   Hal Needham, a longtime stuntman, movie director and NASCAR team owner, died Friday in Los Angeles. He was 82.
   Needham served as director of “Smokey and the Bandit” and “Cannonball Run” for Burt Reynolds and from 1981 to 1989 he and Reynolds co-owned Harry Gant’s No. 33 with which he won nine races and 13 poles.

   During his Hollywood career, Needham won an Emmy and an Oscar, appeared in 4,500 television episodes and 350 feature films.
   Read more on Needham here.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Jeff Gordon talks about an offer Rick Hendrick may not have known about

   Four-time Sprint Cup Series champion  Jeff Gordon sat down with "NASCAR Race Hub" host Danielle Trotta this week to talk about his career and what big opportunity existed early on that car owner Rick Hendrick may not have known about.

   Here is what Gordon had to say on Thursday’s  edition of the show:

   “When I first started to come into the NASCAR Nationwide Series – I did both (sprint cars & stock cars) because I was still competing for championships in other series. Once I became more established in the Cup Series with (Rick) Hendrick, it really wasn’t something I thought about. I’ve always enjoyed all forms of racing, if I can get the opportunity and drive another car; have a new experience, like I did with the F1 car and the 24 Hours of Daytona," he said.

   "The one thing that went through my head that I don’t think Hendrick even knew about was that I had a potential Formula One offer at one time. But, it was going to race in lower series – maybe even IndyCar. I was established in Cup; very happy with where I was at, things were going extremely well and that was a whole career change for me, in a racing series I knew very little about from a driving stand point, I was always an oval track driver. But that conversation never happened with Hendrick, that was behind the scenes and I made the choice and the decision on my own. We were coming up on some contracts and I chose to stay with Hendrick and won the championship the next year. It was a good choice.”

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Rockingham Speedway will not host NASCAR Trucks race in 2014

   Rockingham Speedway, which began hosting NASCAR races again two years ago after an eight-year absence, will not host a Truck Series race in 2014, speedway owner Andy Hillenburg confirmed.

   The 1-mile track located about 90 miles southeast of Charlotte remains open for track rentals but won’t be hosting any NASCAR events in 2014.

   “We’ve got a number of issues that have to be resolved before we can host races again,” Hillenburg told The Observer on Thursday. “These issues have been mounting over the last two to three years.

   “I’m not giving up on this. My plan is to keep doing it. I want it and NASCAR wants it and I’m determined to have it continue.”

   NASCAR is expected to release its 2014 Truck schedule as early as Monday – the last of its three national series scheduled to be released.

   NASCAR spokesman David Higdon would not speak specifically about Rockingham’s date but said the schedule would be released soon. “We are still finalizing a few last pieces,” he said.

   Rockingham already lost one NASCAR event this season.

   In September, NASCAR officials canceled a K&N Pro Series East race at the track. In a statement announcing the decision, NASCAR said the track failed to meet its financial obligations.

   A permanent loss of the NASCAR event could have serious consequences for the surrounding community.

   When plans for the inaugural Truck race were first unveiled in 2011, city and county officials said the race would bring $4.2 million into the local economy.

   The first race in 2012, won by Kasey Kahne, was considered a success with a near capacity crowd on hand. Attendance was down at this year’s race, won by Kyle Larson, but the venue was still considered to have a home on the series schedule.

   From 1965 through 2004 Rockingham Speedway hosted races in NASCAR’s premier Cup series.

   Hillenburg bought the track in 2007 from Speedway Motorsports Inc., which bought the facility from the International Speedway Corp. in 2004. SMI moved the Cup race from Rockingham to Texas as part of a settlement in an SMI shareholder lawsuit, leaving the track void of NASCAR events.

   “This has been six years of my life and I want to see it succeed,” Hillenburg said.

Denny Hamlin and Michael Jordan team up to go .... NASCAR Truckin'

   The Jordan Brand's iconic Jumpman logo will adorn the No. 51 Toyota Tundra of Denny Hamlin this Saturday as he races for his third-straight NASCAR Camping World Truck Series win at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway for Kyle Busch Motorsports. Hamlin is the two-time defending winner of the Kroger 200 race at Martinsville.

    Hamlin began a relationship with the Jordan Brand in 2011 and wears a Jumpman firesuit and racing gloves.

    "To have the Jumpman on the truck at Martinsville is the perfect fit," said Virginia-native Hamlin, a season ticket holder of Michael Jordan's Charlotte Bobcats NBA franchise. "Michael has expressed interest in taking the next step with their Jordan Brand sponsorship, so what better opportunity than going after three in a row at one of my favorite tracks."

    While this NASCAR race marks the first-ever primary car or truck sponsorship for the Jordan Brand, the shoe and apparel company has a long track-record of supporting Michael Jordan Motorsports, a motorcycle racing team founded by Jordan in 2004 that competes in the AMA Pro National Guard SuperBike Championship series.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

NASCAR penalizes Corey LaJoie for Code of Conduct violation

    NASCAR on Wednesday penalized developmental driver Corey LaJoie for a violation of the sport's Code of Conduct.

   LaJoie, 22, was placed on indefinite probation and ordered to undergo sensitivity training for what NASCAR called an "insensitive and intolerable" communication."

   In a message posted to his Twitter account on Oct. 15, LaJoie rhetorically asked whether it was stereotyping to ask TSA to cavity search a man with a turban. 

   George Silbermann, NASCAR's vice president of Regional and Touring Series, said the tweet had "no place in our sport."

   "Each of NASCAR’s 2013 series-specific Rule Books includes our Code of Conduct that unequivocally states our stance specific to the use of demeaning language. We expect our entire industry to adhere to that Code," he said.

   LaJoie has competed in NASCAR's K&N Pro Series East and the Automobile Racing Club of America series. LaJoie has a development driving contract with Richard Petty Motorsports.

   In a statement, LaJoie said he made "an immature and insensitive comment."

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Todd Parrott: 'I'm not hiding behind anything I've done'


   Sprint Cup Series crew chief Todd Parrott, who was fired Tuesday by Richard Petty Motorsports after failing a NASCAR drug test, called in to "The Late Shift" on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio on Tuesday night to talk with hosts Brad Gillie and Buddy Baker about his suspension and his participation in NASCAR's Road to Recovery Program.

   Here are some excerpts from the interview:

   "It’s part of it, as part of the Road to Recovery, is getting out there and admitting the mistakes and stuff. You know, getting in front it, you know it’s really a load off my shoulders and I’m probably going to wake up in the morning and feel a lot better about this.

  "I’m going to do anything I can. Like I said, talking about it and letting it be known I’m not hiding behind anything that I’ve done is one of the first steps to get started. I’ve got a meeting tomorrow with counselors to get the process started. I’m looking forward to it. First of all, I want to apologize to my family, to everyone at Richard Petty Motorsports, all my friends for being with me while I’m in this position. It’s not something that I’m proud of  but it’s something that I’m going to take time and address and fix. NASCAR has rules and procedures, they’ve administered them and this is where I’m at. I’m ready to take the steps to get back into the sport that I’ve love and been around my whole live. I just want to get started. I just want to get back in that garage and hopefully in time to win another Daytona 500."

Win a VIP package to the 2014 NASCAR Hall Induction Ceremony


   The NASCAR Hall of Fame and Ford Motor Company are offering NASCAR fans the chance to win a trip for two to the 2014 NASCAR Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony in Charlotte on Jan. 29, 2014.

   One grand prize winner and a guest will win tickets to the NASCAR Hall of Fame Induction Dinner and Ceremony, airfare, hotel accommodations, a dining voucher, tours of the NASCAR Hall of Fame, Charlotte Motor Speedway and area race shops, and a VIP meet and greet with a 2014 NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee.

   Five second place winners will win two tickets to the NASCAR Hall of Fame and the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway in May 2014 including a meet and greet with a Ford driver.

   And 100 third place winners will win two tickets to the NASCAR Hall of Fame.

   To enter the sweepstakes, fans can complete an entry form online at or in person at the Ford kiosk at the NASCAR Hall of Fame during regular operating hours (10 a.m. - 6 p.m. daily) by Monday, Dec. 9. All entrants must be 25 years of age or older and a permanent resident of the 48 contiguous United States or the District of Columbia. Only one entry per person is allowed.
   The NASCAR Hall of Fame will conduct a random drawing on Tuesday, Dec. 10 and winners will be announced on Friday, Dec. 13.
   For more details, visit Up-to-the minute updates are available at or by following @NASCARHall on Twitter.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Take a peek at one of Dale Junior's 2014 NASCAR paint schemes

   Check out the Action Racing Collectables diecast of the No. 88 National Guard Chevrolet SS in 2014.

   To see more go here.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Video of violent finish to Saturday's NASCAR Truck race

Video of the violent 12-truck wreck which erupted at the conclusion of Saturday's NASCAR Truck Series race at Talladega Superspeedway.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Is Kyle Busch Motorsports in trouble?

   Following Friday's NASCAR Truck Series qualifying at Talladega Superspeedway, Kyle Busch was asked about plans for Kyle Busch Motorsports in 2014. Busch did not sound very optimistic.

    This was his response:

    "No, unfortunately we don't (know our plans) and a lot of that comes from the unknown with what's going on in the world of sponsorship. For the Truck series it's very tough. For Kyle Busch Motorsports, it's been very tough. You know obviously without the support of Toyota that we get, we probably wouldn't be here, so we appreciate them as much as they do for us, as much as they do for JGR (Joe Gibbs Racing), MWR (Michael Waltrip Racing) and all the Toyota teams," Busch said.

    "It's a little frustrating to not have a better plan organized right now and I'd certainly like to keep it the same if not better than what we've got, but it doesn't look like much is materializing and it's really late in the game. Always is and Trucks especially, it's year to year whether you can keep yourself afloat."

   KBM is located in Mooresville, N.C.

Former 'Legends Million' winner set for NASCAR debut


   Daniel Hemric, a former Summer Shootout champion at Charlotte Motor Speedway, is planning to make his NASCAR debut in the Oct. 26 Truck Series race at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway with Sharp-Gallaher Racing.
   Hemric, 22, has found a lot of success in recent years racing Legends cars, modifieds and Late Model cars.

   “Everyone has really pulled together and put in a lot of last-minute effort to make this a reality, and I cannot thank them enough,” said Hemric, a native of Kannapolis.

   Hemric also won the “Legends Million” and its $250,000 first prize race at CMS in 2010.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

NASCAR indefinitely suspends Sprint Cup Series crew chief Todd Parrott

  NASCAR’s random drug testing policy nabbed its first Sprint Cup Series crew chief on Thursday.
   NASCAR announced Todd Parrott, crew chief for driver Aric Almirola at Richard Petty Motorsports, had been indefinitely suspended for violation of the sanctioning body’s Substance Abuse Policy.

   “We have an expectation of all RPM employees to conduct themselves at the highest level of professionalism and within the competitive confines set forth by NASCAR,” Sammy Johnson, RPM’s vice president of operations and competition, said in a statement.

   “We are very disappointed that one of our employees did not meet our expectations and we completely support NASCAR, their policies and final decisions when it comes to the substance abuse policy.”

   Parrott has indicated he will participate in NASCAR’s Road to Recovery Program and a team spokesman said RPM supports that decision.

   Johns will serve as Almirola’s crew chief on the No. 43 Ford on an interim basis until further notice.

   Parrott won the Cup series championship with driver Dale Jarrett in 1999 when both worked with Robert Yates Racing. He has 31 career wins.

   This season, Almirola is currently a career-best 18th in the Cups series standings with one top-five and six top-10 finishes.

   Soon after the announcement of Parrott’s suspension, Almirola posted the following message on his Twitter account:

   “Todd Parrott is a good crew chief, a good person and a good friend. I’ll be a big cheerleader of his to get thru this difficult time.”

Elliott Sadler to replace Brian Vickers for final four Sprint Cup races in 2013

  Team release:

   CORNELIUS, N.C. – Michael Waltrip Racing announced today that Elliott Sadler will drive the No. 55 Aaron’s Dream Machine Toyota in the 2013 season’s final four NASCAR Sprint Cup races.

   Sadler replaces Brian Vickers who informed MWR on Oct. 14 that he would be unavailable for the remainder of the season due to anti-coagulation medications he will be taking to treat a small blood clot in his right leg. Doctors have told Vickers he will be on the medication at least two months.   

   Sadler, who drives a Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota full time in the NASCAR Nationwide Series, will begin racing the No. 55 at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway on Oct. 27. He will finish the season for the Scott Miller led team at Texas, Phoenix and Homestead.

   “First, I am already a teammate of Brian’s at Joe Gibbs Racing and it is really tough to see him going through this again,” said Sadler. “Both of us have fought hard to get back in a position to win at NASCAR’s highest level.

   "I am honored to have this opportunity to drive for MWR because I know their cars are competitive. I want to thanks Rob Kauffman, Michael and Aaron's for giving me this chance. In the meantime, our thoughts and prayers will be for Brian to have a quick recovery."

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

NASCAR releases 2014 Sprint Cup Series schedule

   NASCAR on Tuesday released its 2014 Sprint Cup Series schedule and as expected it has very few changes from this year.

   The one significant change had already been announced - Kansas Speedway will swap its early April race date with the Mother's Day weekend date Darlington, S.C., has held for nearly a decade.

   The remainder of the schedule is nearly identical to the 2013 schedule.

2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Schedule
2/15       Daytona, Sprint Unlimited
2/16       Daytona, Daytona 500 qualifying
2/20       Daytona Duels
2/23       Daytona 500
3/2         Phoenix International Raceway
3/9         Las Vegas Motor Speedway
3/16       Bristol Motor Speedway
3/23       Auto Club Speedway
3/30       Martinsville Speedway
4/6         Texas Motor Speedway
4/12       Darlington Raceway
4/26       Richmond International Raceway
5/4         Talladega Superspeedway
5/10       Kansas Speedway
5/17       Charlotte, Sprint All-Star Race
5/25       Charlotte Motor Speedway
6/1         Dover International Speedway
6/8         Pocono Raceway
6/15       Michigan International Speedway
6/22       Sonoma Raceway
6/28       Kentucky Speedway
7/5         Daytona International Speedway
7/13       New Hampshire Motor Speedway
7/27       Indianapolis Motor Speedway
8/3         Pocono Raceway
8/10       Watkins Glen International
8/17       Michigan International Speedway
8/23       Bristol Motor Speedway
8/31       Atlanta Motor Speedway
9/6         Richmond International Raceway
9/14       Chicagoland Speedway
9/21       New Hampshire Motor Speedway
9/28       Dover International Speedway
10/5       Kansas Speedway
10/11     Charlotte Motor Speedway
10/19     Talladega Superspeedway
10/26     Martinsville Speedway
11/2       Texas Motor Speedway
11/9       Phoenix International Raceway
11/16     Homestead-Miami Speedway

Monday, October 14, 2013

Fans hit by broken glass Saturday night at Charlotte Motor Speedway

Photo courtesy of Kevin Fox

   Officials at Charlotte Motor Speedway confirmed on Monday that six fans were seen by medical personnel during Saturday night's Bank of America 500 NASCAR race when a pane of glass in an unoccupied suite in Turn 1 broke late in the race.

   "A pane of glass broke inward ... and a few pieces of the broken glass fell forward," said speedway spokesman Scott Cooper. "Six fans were evaluated or treated and released on property and returned to the race."

   Kevin Fox, of Fort Mill, S.C., was sitting in the Grand National Tower South, Section EE, when he heard a lot noise from above sometime after the 200-lap mark of the 334-lap event.

   "I thought someone had fell or dropped a cooler or something and then I started feeling things fall on me and it turned out to be glass," he said.

   Fox said the area was "covered" in broken glass and he and his mom and several other fans suffered minor cuts. He also was struck on the head by what he assumes was a larger piece of glass, but isn't certain.

   "It was very strange. In the heat of the moment it was hard to figure out what was going on," he said.

   Fox said he left his name and number with the track's guest services staff but had not been contacted by the speedway as of Monday afternoon.

   In May, 10 fans were injured during the Coca-Cola 600 when a nylon rope supporting a Fox Sports overhead television camera fell into the grandstands on onto the track surface, delaying the race.

   In the aftermath, NASCAR banned broadcast networks from using the cable-held aerial cameras. That ban remains in place.


Kevin Harvick to run Nationwide races in 2014 with JR Motorsports

   Press release:

   Kevin Harvick, a two-time NASCAR Nationwide Series champion and winner of 76 races in NASCAR's top three touring divisions, has signed with JR Motorsports and will compete in a minimum of 12 Nationwide Series races in 2014.  

   Hunt Brothers Pizza, the nation’s largest brand of made-to-order pizza in the convenience store industry, will be the primary sponsor on Harvick’s Chevrolet for four races.

   While Harvick’s Nationwide Series schedule for 2014 is still being finalized, the races in which Hunt Brothers Pizza will serve as primary sponsor have been set. The Hunt Brothers Pizza scheme will be featured at Bristol Motor Speedway, Charlotte Motor Speedway, and both races at Texas Motor Speedway.

   Harvick will drive JR Motorsports’ No. 5 Chevrolet – a full-season car traditionally shared by multiple drivers on select-race schedules. The driver line-up for that car beyond Harvick is still being determined.

   “This is pretty cool to have Kevin a part of our team,” said owner Dale Earnhardt Jr.  “I’ve known him for a long time.  He’s an incredible racer. He will be a huge asset to JR Motorsports, our sponsors and our fans.  I’m grateful that he wants to drive our cars, and I’m grateful that Hunt Brothers Pizza is committed to Kevin and our race program.  We’re happy to have them.”

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Jared Irvan hoping to follow in dad's NASCAR footsteps

   Jared Irvan, the 15-year-old son of former NASCAR standout Ernie Irvan, will make his fulltime debut in racing next season driving in the Pro All-Star Series South, a late-model series.

   Jared is currently a sophomore at cfa Academy in Concord and has driven go-karts, Midgets and Legends cars. 

   "It’s an honor to be able to follow in my dad’s footsteps," Jared said. "He is not only my dad, but also my coach, and he brings so much knowledges from his years in racing against the best in the sport."  

   Irvan, named in 1998 as one of NASCAR's 50 greatest drivers, retired in 1999 after several accidents that him with prolonged effects from head injury. He won the 1991 Daytona 500 and 14 other races in what is now the Sprint Cup Series. His last victory came at Michigan in 1997.  

   "I'm thrilled to be able to be back at the track and supporting my son Jared," Ernie said, "We all know that competing in racing is not easy, not matter who you are."

Thursday, October 10, 2013

NASCAR, team don't condone actions by Travis Kvapil; he returns to car

   A day after being released from the Iredell County Jail, NASCAR driver Travis Kvapil was back in his race car.

   Kvapil, 37, was arrested on Tuesday night on and charged with one count each of assault on a female and false imprisonment stemming from an altercation with his wife at their Mooresville home.

   While he was allowed to participate in practice and qualifying on Thursday at Charlotte Motor Speedway with his BK Racing team, NASCAR issued a statement saying it did not condone Kvapil’s actions.

   “We are disappointed to learn of this incident. We have been in close communication with the race team and are in the process of gathering as much information as possible, the statement read.

   “NASCAR takes this matter very seriously and will continue to monitor the situation as it moves forward.”

   Kvapil’s next scheduled court date is Nov. 19.

   “BK Racing understands the severity of the situation and we don’t condone the actions that Travis has been accused of,” team co-owner Ron Devine said in a statement. “We feel it’s important to let the system take its course.

   “For that reason, we have elected to support Travis and his family and keep Travis in the car for this weekend’s race.”

Will this be NASCAR's 'most popular' 500th career start?


Could this be the most popular 500th career start in NASCAR history?
Well, it does involve Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Only 33 drivers have started 500 races in their NASCAR Sprint Cup Series careers, but this Saturday in the Bank of America 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway Earnhardt will add his name to that list.
Earnhardt made his debut in the series in May 1999 at Charlotte.The Kannapolis native started eighth and finished 16th. 
Now, 499 starts later, Earnhardt has 19 wins, 111 top fives, 199 top 10s and 13 poles. If Earnhardt, who celebrated his 39th birthday on Thursday, wins this weekend, he would become the third driver to win in their 500th start (Richard Petty in 1970; Matt Kenseth three weeks ago at New Hampshire).
   After a shaky start to the Chase where he finished 35th at Chicagoland, Earnhardt’s come on strong lately with finishes of sixth, second and eighth in the last three races. 

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Crew member indefinitely suspended by NASCAR; loses job

   John Smeltzer, an employee of Hendrick Motorsports who worked most recently as the engine tuner for JR Motorsports' No. 7 team, was indefinitely suspended on Tuesday from NASCAR for violating the sanctioning body’s Substance Abuse Policy.

    The violation occurred on Oct. 4.

    Hendrick Motorsports released the following statement:

    "Our organization respects and fully supports NASCAR’s policies with regard to banned substances. The individual in question is no longer employed by the company."

Monday, October 7, 2013

Tony Stewart undergoes third surgery on injured leg



    Team press release:

   KANNAPOLIS, N.C., (Oct. 7, 2013) – NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Tony Stewart underwent a third surgery on his right leg early on Monday, Oct. 7 to examine and close a wound on his shin stemming from the broken tibia and fibula he sustained in a sprint car crash Aug. 5 at Southern Iowa Speedway in Oskaloosa, Iowa.
   Stewart will remain hospitalized for observation.
   The surgery served as a proactive measure and team officials do not expect it to impact Stewart’s return to the No. 14 Bass Pro Shops/Mobil 1 Chevrolet in 2014. 
   Stewart’s first surgery on Aug. 6 in Iowa served as a preliminary procedure to stabilize and clean the Grade 2 injury. The second surgery on Aug. 8, by a specialist in North Carolina, involved inserting a metal rod inside the tibia, pressing it to its anatomic position.

I thought they said Smoke wasn't in the Kansas race

   From the 'just when you thought you'd seen it all' department: During Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Kansas Speedway, a caution had to be displayed in the second half of the race when smoke started enveloping the Turn 1 area of the track.

   It turns out a small fire had started in the mulch and shrubs near the fencing. It was quickly extinguished but added to the frustration of day already marred with 14 other cautions.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

War of words: Brad Keselowski vs. Kyle Busch

   Motor Racing Network asked Brad Keselowski to talk about his incident with Kyle Busch in Saturday's Nationwide race. Here was his response:

   "I got wrecked by a dirty driver, there is no other way to put it. I have raced him really cool over the last year to be respectful to him and repair our relationship. I’ve watched him wreck my Trucks that cost them from winning races, he put me in fence at Chicago in the Truck race, in the Nationwide race, he’s pulling this crap. It’s not going to last, I can tell you that. I feel bad for the guys next to me who are going to have to fix his (stuff). That’s going to be part of racing. They’re going to have to deal with it.” 

   ESPN talked with Kyle Busch after Saturday's race. He was his take on the Lap 188 incident, which sent Keselowski into the wall:

   "It was hard racing. There were a lot of moments where we got ourselves a little crowded. The contact that ultimately ended it, I just got real tight coming off (Turn) 4 - underneath him, behind him and everything else. I couldn't stay in the gas to get a run on him. I got to his quarter and side-drafted him down the straightaway and I got too tight. We got a little too close there one time and didn't give myself enough room and then had the last restart." 

   Asked if he thought the issue would spill over to Sunday's Sprint Cup race, Busch added: 

   “Well, Brad Keselowski dumped me at Watkins Glen (last year) and I let he and Jimmie (Johnson) battle it out and I had the opportunity a few times to wreck him in the Chase, but I was the bigger man. If he wants to take it over to the other side of the garage area, then whatever. You know what? I’ve got ... I've got more class than that.”

NASCAR TV rights to remain as-is in 2014

   Statement from Steve Herbst, NASCAR Vice President of Broadcasting and Production:

   "Despite speculation over the last month that NASCAR's new television agreement could be pushed up to the start of the 2014 season, NASCAR has informed out broadcast partners today that Fox, Turner and ESPN will finish the current term as originally planned. While we humbled by the desire of NBC and Fox to start 12 months early, we now consider this matter closed and look forward to finishing our current agreement in 2014 with our great partners at Fox, Turner and ESPN."

Friday, October 4, 2013

Who is NASCAR's best 'better half' on the track?

   The better halves of some of NASCAR’s couples will showcase their skills at Charlotte Motor Speedway for the third consecutive season.

   The wives and girlfriends of several NASCAR drivers will compete in the “Better Half Dash,” a 25-lap race in U.S. Legend Cars International Bandoleros around the frontstretch quarter-mile track on Oct. 10 prior to Sprint Cup Series qualifying.

   The race will take place prior to Sprint Cup Series qualifying that night. The winning driver will receive $10,000 to be paid to different charities.

   Some of the drivers include Lyn-z Pastrana, wife of NASCAR driver Travis Pastrana; Jessica Park, wife of NASCAR driver Steve Park; Amy Gordon, wife of NASCAR crew chief Todd Gordon; and Wendy Venturini, motorsports analyst for Fox Sports 1.

Read more here:

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Does NASCAR have a Republican kind of problem?

   John Dick of CivicScience Inc. - a resaerch company that polls millions of consumers each week - believes NASCAR's problems go much deeper than simple economics - but rather to a problem with its demographics:

   In July, author Gregg Gethard wrote an insightful column for The Classical about the precipitous decline of fan interest in NASCAR. Gethard attributed a drop in race attendance to the "Great Recession," which hit NASCAR's middle-class fans harder than most. With less disposal income, these gear-heads are less likely to gas up their RV, take a few days off work, and shell out cash for infield tickets. 

   But is that the full story?

   The consumer data our company collects suggest a deeper and more systemic problem for NASCAR, one that can't be simply blamed on economic cycles. If you look closer, you find an uncanny similarity between NASCAR's eroding fan base and the deteriorating foundation of another, mostly-white, male-dominated establishment -- the Republican Party.

   You can read the rest of his analysis here.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Brad Keselowski, Miller Lite sign contract extention with Penske

   Team press release:
   MOORESVILLE, NC (October 2, 2013) – Penske Racing today announced multi-year extensions of its partnerships with driver Brad Keselowski and long-time sponsor MillerCoors,  two key elements of the organization’s 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) championship.

   “The extensions of our agreements with both Brad Keselowski and MillerCoors put our team in a real position of strength moving forward,” said Roger Penske. “This is an important day as these agreements will allow Penske Racing to invest significantly in our people and our technology, two critical areas to a successful race team.”

   Keselowski, the 2012 NSCS champion, has agreed to an extension that will keep him behind the wheel of the No. 2 Ford Fusion for many seasons to come. The 29-year-old millennial face of NASCAR, Keselowski combines superb driving ability with acute social media prowess that has elevated him to the elite level of the sport.

   “I am fully committed to Penske Racing and Miller Lite,” said Keselowski. “This will allow us to further grow our program and contend for championships on a consistent basis. It’s an exciting time to be a part of this organization and I look forward to a successful future.”

   In 2014, Miller Lite will continue to adorn the side of the No. 2 Ford Fusion for 24 NSCS points-paying races. Miller Lite will maintain a position as a major associate sponsor for the remaining 12 races of the 2014 season.

   This new agreement extends a partnership between Penske Racing and MillerCoors that spans more than 30 years, one of the longest and strongest sponsor-team relationships in all of sports. This includes the 23-year partnership at the Sprint Cup Series level, but it also extends to historical relationships with the organization in IndyCar competition and sponsorships of race tracks formerly owned by Penske Corporation.  

Another NASCAR champ who drove the No. 3 has died

   Rene Charland, the cigar-chompin’ Hall of Famer whose pranks were almost as legendary as his driving ability, died Monday after years of failing health. He was 84.

    Although he won four straight NASCAR national sportsman championships in the early 1960s, Charland is probably best remembered for a fiery, near-fatal wreck at Albany-Saratoga Speedway in 1966. Once he recovered from his injuries, Charland began referring to the accident as “The French Barbecue,” further adding to his own legacy.

    Born in Chicopee, Mass., Charland later settled in Agawam, Mass., and began racing at Riverside Speedway in 1949.

    His familiar No. 3 was a frequent winner at the dirt bullrings in Vermont, New Hampshire and Connecticut.

   To read more from the Schenectady (N.Y.) Daily Gazette go here.