Thursday, July 31, 2014

Mark Martin's NASCAR career isn't over just yet

  Mark Martin's competitive driving career in NASCAR may be offer but not his influence.

   Roush Fenway Racing announced on Thursday the NASCAR veteran will return to the organization where he spent the vast majority of his career to become a driver development coach. Martin will work with drivers Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Trevor Bayne, Chris Buescher and Ryan Reed.

   Martin was the first driver hired by team owner Jack Roush when he founded his NASCAR operation in 1988. During his tenure at Roush, Martin won 83 races in various series and finished as runner-up in the Cup series standings four different times.

   “I’m excited to return to Roush Fenway Racing, as it feels like I’m going home to where I belong,” said Martin. “I was fortunate to help build this team from the beginning and it’s very humbling to be a part of Jack’s team again. 

   “Nobody does a better job at developing young talent than Jack Roush. Roush Fenway has an abundance of young, talented drivers and I’m looking forward to working with each of them going forward. I am very proud of what Jack and I were able to accomplish together and I am excited to expand on those accomplishments."

   Roush said Martin "put us on the map" and he was pleased to have him rejoin the organization.

   "Mark is not only a good friend but he’s also a fierce competitor and I truly admire his passion and dedication to racing," Roush said. "I have no question that you will be able to see his influence on our young drivers. He understands what it takes to win and to be able to do that on a consistent basis and he’ll, once again, be a great asset to have back within our organization.”

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

What does Rick Hendrick do when two of his drivers are racing for the win?

   Longtime NASCAR team owner Rick Hendrick found himself holding his breath a little near the end of Sunday's Crown Royal 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Why? Because it looked like two of his drivers - Jeff Gordon and Kasey Kahne - were going to battle down to the wire for the win.

   Gordon passed Kahne on a restart with 17 laps remaining to win for a record fifth time at the Brickyard.

   After the race, Hendrick was asked if he had any conflicting emotions regarding the battle between Gordon and Kahne.

   "When you have that situation, you just hope they don't wreck each other. Two cars, kind of the class of the field at that time. You hold your breath till they get apart," Hendrick said.  "I have a lot of confidence in our guys not to do that intentionally. I know Kasey, he needed a win. He ran awful good. But Jeff had the dominant car, so it all worked out. 

   "It's like having your two kids in a state championship, one is pitching, one is hitting, you go somewhere else than by your wife."

Check out the 2014 Summer Shootout champions at Charlotte Motor Speedway

   Six champions were crowned Tuesday night at the final round of the 21st annual Jack in the Box Summer Shootout Series at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Daniel Hemric, Joshua Brimecombe, Tom Pistone and Carson Ferguson were among the season champions. 
   Hemric, of Kannapolis, N.C., capped the series with his sixth Legend Car Pro division win of the season, charging through the field to claim the lead by Lap 7. He led the rest of the way to drive away from second place William Byron. Hemric clinched his third Pro division championship when he started the feature race.
    Ferguson entered the Legend Car Young Lions division race with a 52-point lead and left with both a victory in the night's race and the division championship. Ferguson, of Charlotte, sparred with Matt Thomas for first place during the first half of the 20-lap race but eventually took over the top spot on Lap 8 and stayed there until the end of the race.
   The Quaker Steak and Lube Legend Car Semi-Pro race was the tightest points competition of the night with three possible champions going into the race. Devin O'Connell led the division by only five points at the start of the night, with Brimecombe and Dillon Faggart close behind. Faggart, of Concord, N.C., took the checkered flag but it wasn't quite enough to edge out Brimecombe, also of Concord, who finished third and ultimately won the division championship.
   In other Legend Car action, Robby Faggart claimed his first win of the season in the Security Force Legend Car Masters division while Tom Pistone, of Mooresville, N.C., who won seven of 10 races, finished second and won his third series championship in a row.
   Jensen Jorgensen, a Stockbridge, Ga., native, began the race with a 17-point lead in the Bandolero Outlaw standings and finished in fourth place to capture his first championship.
   In the LiveWell Homes Bandolero Bandits feature, DJ Canipe, of Fallston, N.C., ruined Chandler Smith's pursuit of perfection, claiming the win for his first victory of the season. Smith, a Jasper, Georgia, native, started the race 54 points in front of Canipe, but his second place finish solidified the points championship for the 12 year-old.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Denny Hamlin's Cup team gets penalized by NASCAR

   NASCAR Press Release


No. 11 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Team Penalized For Rules Infraction At Indianapolis Motor Speedway

Daytona Beach, Fla. (July 29, 2014) — The No. 11 team that competes in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series has been penalized for a rules infraction discovered in post-race inspection July 27 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

This infraction is a P5 level penalty which is outlined in Section 12-4.5 A (9) of the 2014 NASCAR rule book:
Approved parts that fail or are improperly installed to fail in their intended use of great importance (e.g.; rear wheel well panels that fail and allow air evacuation in the trunk area; oil box cover that fails and allows air evacuation in the driver compartment; shifter boot cover that fails and allows air evacuation through the floor pan. 

This infraction violates Sections:
12-1 - Actions detrimental to stock car racing;
20-2.1 – Car body must be acceptable to NASCAR officials and meet the following requirements:
·         K – Any device or ductwork that permits air to pass from one area of the interior of the car to another, or to the outside of the car, will not be permitted. This includes, but is not limited to, the inside of the car to the trunk area, or the floors, firewalls, crush panels and wheel wells passing air into or out of the car;
·         L – All seams of the interior sheet metal and all interior sheet metal to exterior sheet metal contact point must be sealed and caulked. This includes, but is not limited to, floors, firewalls, wheel wells, package trays, crush panels and any removable covers;
20-3.4 - All references to the inspection surface in sub-section 20-3.4 have been determined with the front lower edge of both main frame rails set at six inches and the rear lower edge of both main frame rails set at eight inches. For driver protection, all firewalls, floors, tunnels, and access panels must be installed and completely secured in place when the car is in competition;
20-3.4.5 - A rear firewall, including any removable panels or access doors, constructed using magnetic sheet steel a minimum of 22 gage (0.031 inch thick), must be located between the trunk area and the driver’s compartment and must be welded in place. Block-off plates/covers used in rear firewalls in place of blowers, oil coolers, etc., must be constructed of 22 gauge (0.031 inch thick) magnetic sheet steel. Block-off plates/covers must be installed with positive fasteners and sealed to prevent air leakage. Carbon fiber or aluminum block-off plates/covers will not be permitted.

      Per Section 12-4.5 B, the minimum P5 penalty includes:
·         Loss of 50 championship driver and owner points, regardless of whether the violation occurred during a championship race or not;

·         $75,000 to $125,000 fine;

·         Suspension for the next six series championship races, plus any non-championship races or special events which might occur during that period, for the crew chief and any other team members as determined by NASCAR;
·         Probation through the end of the calendar year for all suspended members, or for a six-month period following the issuance of the penalty notice if that period spans across two consecutive seasons.

Since this infraction is a P5 level penalty and was discovered in post-race inspection, Section 12-4.5 C (1,2) also applies:
·         If the infraction is detected during post-race inspection, then the following penalty elements will be added:
o   Loss of an additional 25 championship driver and owner points; regardless of whether it was a championship race or not;
o   Loss of an additional $50,000.

As a result of these violations, crew chief Darian Grubb has been fined $75,000 plus an additional $50,000 post-race fine for a total of $125,000. Grubb has also been suspended from NASCAR for the next six series championship events, plus any non-championship races or special events that might occur during that time period. Grubb will also be on NASCAR probation for the next six months.
            Car chief Wesley Sherrill has been suspended from NASCAR for the next six series championship events, plus any non-championship races or special events that might occur during that time period and will be on NASCAR probation for the next six months.
            This infraction has also cost the No. 11 team the loss of 50 championship driver and owner (Denny Hamlin and J.D. Gibbs) points plus an additional 25 post-race points for a total loss of 75 championship driver and 75 championship owner points.


Sunday, July 27, 2014

Two NASCAR team planes collide on ground at Concord Regional Airport

   A team Joe Gibbs Racing team plane collided with a parked plane from Stewart Haas Racing at Concord (N.C.) Regional Airport on Sunday night as NASCAR teams were returning to the Charlotte area following Sunday's Crown Royal 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

   A team spokesman for SHR said an empty and parked SHR plane was hit by another plane as that plane was parking. The plane's wing hit the tail of the parked SHR plane. 

   No one was hurt, the spokesman said.

   Several members from various NASCAR teams posted comments about the incident on Twitter, including some pictures (one is posted above).

Ford statement on Carl Edwards leaving Roush Fenway Racing


   JAMIE ALLISON, director, Ford Racing –
“Carl Edwards has been a part of the Ford family for a decade, and it will certainly be tough to see him leave Ford and Roush Fenway Racing. During Carl’s time with Roush, he has represented Ford Motor Company with the utmost class, both on and off the track. We at Ford Racing did everything to facilitate keeping Carl a part of the Ford Racing & Roush Fenway family, but in the end that option did not come to fruition.

   “While we are disappointed in his decision to leave Roush Fenway Racing, we certainly want to extend our appreciation for Carl’s contributions winning races and a NASCAR Nationwide Series Championship in a Ford, and especially for his outreach to Ford fans. That said, with this decision out of the way, our plan for 2014 has not changed. We will go forward strongly with our stated goal of securing a NASCAR championship for Ford.”

Carl Edwards will not return to Roush Fenway Racing in 2015

   Roush Fenway Racing confirmed its 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver lineup on Sunday and as many expected it will not include Carl Edwards.

   Greg Biffle will continue to drive the No. 16 Ford, Trevor Bayne will drive the No. 6 Ford and Ricky Stenhouse will drive the No. 17 Ford. 

   Edwards will not return to the organization but many reports have him joining Joe Gibbs Racing next season with an official announcement coming in the next month or so.

   "I will always be thankful for Carl’s contribution and the role he played in many Roush Fenway wins and championships,” said team co-owner Jack Roush. “We wish him well for the future.  In the meantime, we are excited about continuing our quest for a championship with Carl and the No. 99 team in 2014.”

   Biffle, who has 746 NASCAR starts, first joined Roush Fenway in 1998, and earned the organization its first NASCAR championships in the NASCAR Truck Series in 2000 and in the NASCAR Nationwide Series (NNS) in 2002. He has qualified for the NASCAR Chase for the Sprint Cup in five of the last six seasons; with a runner-up finish in 2005. Of his 55 NASCAR wins, 19 came in the NSCS, including Ford’s 1,000th NASCAR victory last year.

   “I don’t have the words for what Jack Roush has meant to my career,” said Biffle. “During our 16 years together, we have won multiple championships and numerous races on every level.  I am as excited about what the future holds for me here as I am about what we have been able to accomplish in the past."

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Tony Stewart on crew chief Chad Johnston: 'I think the world of him'

   While three-time Sprint Cup Series champion Tony Stewart has gotten off to a slow start this season - he is currently without a win and is 19th in the series standings - there has been much speculation as to the cause, including questions about his new crew chief this year, Chad Johnston. 

   Stewart, who missed the last 15 races of the Cup season last year with two broken bones in his right leg, dismisses that idea outright.

   "Chad and I keep learning each other better and better each week. I really like Chad Johnston. I think the world of him," Stewart said. "I think he's probably been the best match personality-wise of any of the crew chiefs I've had since Zippy (Greg Zipadelli, Stewart's first crew chief in NASCAR).
   "So, I've had four really good crew chiefs now, but I think Chad and I really are kind of on the same page, so I'm excited about that side of it.  We've just got to find that one piece of the puzzle that gets us the rest of the way there."

Friday, July 25, 2014

Goodyear makes some tire changes for the Brickyard

   The annual NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stop at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, which has had issues in the past with tire problems, will see some changes this weekend based on recommendations from Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co.

   While teams in both NASCAR series in action at Indy will run the same right-side tire code (D-4476), they will be on distinct left-side codes. Cup teams have run this right-side tire at Indianapolis since 2012. Compared to last year, Cup teams will be on a different left-side tire code (D-4556), though they have run it at both Dover and Kentucky earlier this season.

   Another change from last year is an increase in the minimum recommended air pressure in all four tires -- up four psi in the left-side tires and up five psi in the right-side tires. The recommended changes in set-up came out of a Goodyear test at The Brickyard on June 16 and 17.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

New winner, lots of controversy at Bowman Gray Stadium

   Bowman Gray Stadium in Winston-Salem, N.C., is no stranger to racing controversy and it recently experienced another bizarre round last Saturday night that has led to a slew of severe penalties and a new winner in the track's 25-lap modified race.

   In a statement released from track officials on Monday, the track's NASCAR Whelen All-American Series officials described the actions taken:

   "After a thorough review and consultation among many officials, NASCAR Officials at the Stadium have determined that Lee Jeffreys of Winston-Salem was indeed involved in the collision with Burt Myers of Walnut Cove, N.C., and Tim Brown of Tobaccoville, N.C. Jeffreys was at first said to have only slowed to avoid the wreckage instead of being caught in it, so he was placed back in the race lead and received the win when the race never returned to green flag racing due to rain. Danny Bohn of Huntersville, N.C. is now declared the race leader at the time and is awarded the victory."

   Officials announced that drivers Myers and Brown were moved to the rear of the field in the finish order, both drivers were placed on probation and each was docked 100 points in the modified series standings.

   “Both the decision regarding Lee Jeffreys as well as Burt Myers and Tim Brown are not decisions we take lightly. We talked with many other NASCAR Officials,” said John Horton, NASCAR’s chief steward at Bowman Gray Stadium. “We believe that these penalties will send a message that this is something we can not tolerate.”

   You can watch a video of the incident above. Read a story from the night of the incident here.

Monday, July 21, 2014

NASCAR Chairman Brian France: Race Team Alliance "not necessary"

   NASCAR Chairman Brian France was a guest Monday afternoon on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio with  hosts Dave Moody and Angie Skinner. Among the topics was France's take on the newly formed Race Team Alliance.

   Here is what he said:
    France: We didn't think it was necessary and we thought the benefits they would arrive at with this association would be much smaller than they do. They're smart guys and they may figure out some things that we're not aware of. But on balance I would say two things - one, the idea that they don't know how many employees they have or what their costs are and this is a way to tackle that, that's terrific. We certainly want them to get those kinds of answers for sure. The one thing that is central to NASCAR though, is when you deal with one voice, that would probably be the worst thing we could ever do - and that's to listen to one voice, even it was a consensus voice. Every decision that we've ever made that was important, the more input, the more people we heard from, the better the result. So, that will never change in the business model of NASCAR. Good ideas come from all over the place and that's the strength that we have. Our communication has never been better. We just have to keep building on that.

   Q: There's a lot of speculation about the RTA's goals. Do you have any insight?
   France: They're smart guys. They are entitled to approach the business in certain ways. We're going to respect that but, you know, we're going to go down the road dealing with all of the team owners - not most of them, not the big ones, but all of them. That's the best outcome we can get. Whenever we do something and we're working on all kinds of things now, these are never simple things. Drivers, crew chiefs, engineers - we always pick their brains on things because it's not always black or white if we go one way or that way on whether it actually lowers costs or it actually improves racing. The last thing we would want to do is not talk to everybody so where we can find where the truth lies.

   Q: With attorneys now involved, do you still fill comfortable talking to owners who are part of the RTA?
   France: Sure, it's business as usual. We're embarking on some big things.    

   Q: It's clear you are making distinction from individual car owners and the RTA. What is the point of communicating with the RTA via attorneys and vice versa?
   France: I don't want to get too technical with legal mumbo jumbo. That doesn't serve anybody. The reality is we need to deal with the owners directly; that's how we've historically done it. If they think there are some benefits, we may not agree, but we'll certainly respect it.

   Q: Is ultimately the goal of the RTA to negotiate new percentages of the TV deal? Are those percentages set?
   France: They're set. It's the right allocation. Everyone would like to have more - that's natural. We're business as usual. The tracks continue to make big investments in their facilities and they need to rely on the fact it's business as usual in NASCAR. We're focused on building better relationships with team owners all the time.

Who was the most-mentioned NASCAR driver of the first half of the season?

Most Mentioned 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Drivers 

Driver                Interviews
                Interview Time  
Harvick, K.
Johnson, J.
Gordon, J.
Keselowski, B.
Earnhardt, Jr., D.
Logano, J.
Kenseth, M.
Busch, Ky.
Hamlin, D.
Edwards, C.

Statistics reflect all live race telecasts and replays of the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season through the July Daytona race (Race #18).

For more than 25 years, Joyce Julius & Associates has been measuring and evaluating corporate sponsorships from our headquarters in Ann Arbor, Michigan. 

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Tony Stewart wins in his first sprint car race since accident

Tony Stewart is certainly no worse for wear when it comes to racing sprint cars despite an accident almost a year ago that left him with two broken bones in his right leg.

Stewart won the feature at Tri-City Motor Speedway in Auburn, Mich., on Friday night - earning a victory in his first sprint car race since his Aug. 5 accident last season that forced him to miss the final 15 NASCAR Cup series races of 2013.

Early Saturday morning, Stewart posted the following message to his Twitter account:

"If you haven't heard already, I ran my sprint car tonight and won! Felt great to run it again. Was a 2nd place car but had a little luck :)"

In May, Stewart tested in a sprint car at Carolina Speedway in Gastonia.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Austin Dillon hopes to double down on his NASCAR dirt experience

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Austin Dillon returns to Eldora Speedway next week as the defending champion of the Mudsummer Classic Truck series race. In 2013, Dillon became the first driver in 43 years to win a NASCAR national series race on dirt. Richard Petty was the last to accomplish the feat in September 1970 at the North Carolina State Fairgrounds in Raleigh. 

In the inaugural event at Eldora, Dillon led a race-high 64 laps, posting a 127.3 driver rating on his way to Victory Lane. He returns to the track with limited seat time in the Truck series, but that has not stopped him in the past. After winning the 2011 NASCAR Camping World Truck series championship, Dillon has made six series starts, posting five top-10 finishes. In three starts this season, he has yet to finish outside the top-10. 

Cup rookies Kyle Larson and Michael Annett have also entered next week's race at Eldora. 

Monday, July 14, 2014

Jeff Gordon: RTA will be 'good for the sport'

   Four-time Cup series champion Jeff Gordon took part in a national teleconference on Monday and was asked his opinion on the nine owners who formed the Race Team Alliance last week.

   Here was his response:

   "Well, you know, I don't really see where things have changed a whole lot other than it's more official. They've been meeting for years to get together and communicate about where the sport is at, things that they can do to strengthen their teams, be more efficient. I think it's really just more of an official way to create that alliance, and I think it's a positive because our sport, in order for it to be strong, the teams need to be strong. They need to be profitable. They need to be able to do business," he said.

   "It's turned into a big business, and it's constantly growing, and so I'm in support of it because if the teams are strong and more successful, then that's good for us that are part of the team and it's good for the sport, it's good for the fans, and so I think that this is definitely going to be something that we're all going to learn from and grow from, but I think it's something that definitely is only going to be good for the sport in general."

    Gordon also said he believed the RTA was more of a team alliance than an alliance of individual owners.

    "To me it's what's going to make the teams more efficient, stronger, more profitable, and to me that includes the drivers. That includes all the employees on each of those teams," he said. "I think that it's in a lot of ways covering us, as well.  We're aligned with the teams. I have a contract with a team and I want that team to be strong because I know if that team is strong, then that secures my position as a driver. It secures our sponsors and only helps us with our partners and our fans."

Saturday, July 12, 2014

If the RTA doesn't seek confrontation, why does it crave attention?

The nine founding team members of the Race Team Alliance announced the formation of their business alliance last Monday through a mass email distribution through the media. In the days since, the RTA's spokesman, Michael Waltrip Racing team co-owner Rob Kauffman, has conducted more than a dozen interviews with various media outlets to talk about an organization which has yet - at least officially - to conduct any business.

Kauffman insists a large part of the reason for the organization’s creation is to help reduce team costs through work on such issues as workman’s compensation and hotel room costs. Assuming that’s true, teams could have done that years ago, and if they did, there would be no reason to announce that effort through a news release, whether successful or not.

The creation of the new organization was announced very publicly and to attract attention. If the goal was simply to accomplish results, that could easily be done behind the scenes. So, whose attention is the RTA attempting to get? Perhaps fans, but whatever cost savings the teams gain do not necessarily transfer to fans. That leaves the media and NASCAR, or more correctly, NASCAR through the filter of the media. Why is that even necessary for a group that claims it does not seek confrontation?

Friday, July 11, 2014

Sprint Experience a 'no show' at New Hampshire

   Sprint, the sponsor of NASCAR's premier Cup series, has recently cut back on the number of tracks at which it will host its nearly 15,000-square-foot Sprint Experience interactive display area.

   Race fans on Friday took to Twitter and other social media sites complaining the popular display was not at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, some blaming NASCAR or the track itself for its absence. 

   Speedway president Jerry Gappens said the track was informed less than two weeks ago that Sprint would not be bringing the Experience this weekend. As of Friday afternoon, Sprint's web site page dedicated to the Experience still said it would be appearing at all 36 Cup race weekends this season.

   "As a promoter, when I got word two weeks ago I was disappointed because it creates a void in the display area that is a featured attraction for fan interaction," Gappens said. "The Sprint display has been a very popular activity for our fans for years.

   "To have that not here, takes away from the experience. Sprint is in a very competitive business and needed to divert some of the money it took to activate it to advertising."

   Gappens said the track - and others coming up including Michigan, Watkins Glen and Atlanta - will still get paid for the display space. "I'd still like to see it here, though," he said.

   When asked about the decision not to bring the Sprint Experience to New Hampshire, spokesperson Kimberly Meesters provided the following statement to The Observer:

   "We have an abbreviated schedule during the summer. It will be at New Hampshire in the fall. Some years we take it to every race. Some years we focus on the markets most important to Sprint corporate priorities. Sometimes we send it every week but send smaller footprints. It varies. We are doing 33 races this season."

   The Sprint Experience is a 14,400-square-foot interactive display that brings fans closer to the sport by offering custom interactive games, driver and celebrity appearances, participation in stage games, and the latest handsets and technologies available from Sprint. 

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Why does Clint Bowyer have a lobster hanging on his wall?

   For the past seven seasons, Sprint Cup Series winners at New Hampshire Motor Speedway have received a unique prize in addition to the traditional winner's trophy. They earn a large rock lobster - some of which look as large as the drivers. 

   Clint Bowyer, who has two wins at New Hampshire, was asked what he did with his lobster and the avid hunter had an appropriate reply.

   “It’s hanging on my wall right next to my trophy animals -- I figure it’s a trophy right. I have four or five deer heads on the wall, a couple elk heads and my lobster," he said. "Everybody is like, ‘I get it, I get it, I get it, why is that there?’  Hey, it’s a trophy.”

Monday, July 7, 2014

NASCAR's response to formation of RTA

   NASCAR response to formation of Racing Team Alliance:
    “We are aware of the alliance concept the team owners have announced, but have very few specifics on its structure or purpose. It is apparently still in development and we’re still learning about the details so it would be inappropriate to comment right now. NASCAR’s mission, as it has always been, is to create a fair playing field where anyone can come and compete. Our job is to support and strengthen all of the teams, large and small, across all of our series and we’ll continue to do that. NASCAR is a unique community with hundreds of stakeholders. They all have a voice and always will.”
   - Brett Jewkes, NASCAR VP/CCO