Tuesday, September 30, 2014

RPM development driver Corey LaJoie to run four of final Nationwide races

   Team press release

   Richard Petty Motorsports (RPM) and Biagi-DenBenste Racing announced today they will partner to enter Corey LaJoie in four of the final five NASCAR Nationwide Series races this season.  LaJoie will pilot the No. 98 Medallion Financial Ford owned by Biagi-DenBenste Racing in the events at Kansas Speedway, Charlotte Motor Speedway, Texas Motor Speedway and Homestead-Miami Speedway.

   LaJoie, who is a development driver for RPM, is a proven talent behind the wheel.  He has one win in the NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Series, five wins in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East and three wins in the ARCA Racing Series.  The son of NASCAR champion Randy LaJoie, Corey has five starts in NASCAR's three national series with a Top-10 finish in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series earlier this year at Bristol.  The four events this year in the Nationwide Series will give him his most starts in the Nationwide Series. 

   "I have to thank both RPM and Biagi-DenBenste Racing for giving me the opportunity to put four races together in the Nationwide Series," said LaJoie.  "This is a very good car with good people supporting it.  They are a proven team that is capable of finishing in the Top-Five.  These races will be another great opportunity to advance my learning curve on the bigger tracks and with cars with more horsepower."

   Biagi-DenBeste Racing has made 11 starts with a best finish of fourth scored by David Ragan.  RPM driver Aric Amirola has most recently raced the car at Chicagoland and Dover. LaJoie has one start with the team this season and finished 15th at the Kentucky Speedway in only his second Nationwide Series start.

   "Corey has shown that he learns very quickly on the track," said Fred Biagi Co-Owner of Biagi-DenBeste Racing. "Our first race together we finished 15th in only his second Nationwide Series start.  We feel that we can compete in the Top-10 and Top-Five in these four races with Corey and that's our goal."

   LaJoie's first race will be this Saturday in the Kansas Lottery 300 at the Kansas Speedway.  The race will be televised live on ESPN2 at 3:30 p.m. ET.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Denny Hamlin says Sunday's race is the 'most significant' of his career

   The 2014 Sprint Cup Series season has been full of ups and downs for driver Denny Hamlin, beginning early in the year when he missed the race at Fontana, Calif., with an eye infection.

   Hamlin earned a win at Talladega, Ala., to become eligible for the Chase and appeared to get his performance back up to par in time to begin the Chase and a chance to win his first series championship. Unfortunately, a fuel-intake problem and subsequent accident last weekend at New Hampshire leaves in a precarious position as one of the four drivers who could be eliminated from title contention after Sunday's AAA 400 at Dover.

   After being asked about whether he will be paying attention to other drivers in the Chase during Sunday's race, Hamlin explained how important this race is to him:

   "Short of just winning the race, it matters what other guys do. For us, we don't control our own destiny unless we win.  I really don't want to know. Honestly, this will be the hardest race I'll definitely ever drive for 400 miles. I'm just going to be as aggressive as I can, not put myself in a bad position," he said.

   "This is the most important race of my career because it's the most significant of my career at this point. We got to get the job done and I'm going to do my part to try to make sure we're successful."

Friday, September 26, 2014

Ross Kenseth to run next week's ARCA race at Kansas

   Ross Kenseth, the son of NASCAR Sprint Cup Series veteran Matt Kenseth, will attempt to make his first start of the season in the Automobile Racing Club of America series in the Oct. 3 season finale at Kansas Speedway.

   Ross, 21, will drive the No. 3 Chevrolet for RACE 101 and it will be his first career start on a track 1-mile or more in distance. Kenseth has made one previous ARCA start, winning the pole and finishing sixth last year at Madison, Wisc.

   "I think Kansas presents a lot of challenges for us with this being our first race together. We’re all going in with realistic expectations, but I’m certainly going to do whatever I can to make the most of this opportunity and get this team the best finish possible," Ross said.

   Ross Kenseth has won over 30 late model races throughout the country over the past six years, including the prestigious Winchester 400 and All-American 400 in 2012. He’s currently second in the ARCA/CRA Super Series championship standings with two races remaining in that series' season.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Joey Logano signs multi-year contract extension with Team Penske

   As if his season couldn't get any better, Sprint Cup Series driver Joey Logano agreed to a multi-year contract extension with Team Penske on Thursday, the organization announced. 

   Logano has four wins this season - one more than his previous career total entering the season - and has already advanced to the second round of the Chase, which determines the series season champion.

   “Joey Logano has been everything we hoped he would be, both as a driver and as a representative of our organization and for our partners,” said team owner Roger Penske. “He continues to put points on the board for us and the continuity and chemistry he has developed within the team has been terrific. We believe he can be a leader and championship-level driver for Team Penske for years to come.”
    Since joining Team Penske at the start of the 2013 NASCAR season, Logano has enjoyed the best two-year stretch of his young career, earning five Cup wins and three Nationwide Series victories.
   “I am fortunate and excited to be a part of Team Penske for the foreseeable future,” said Logano, currently ranked second in the Chase standings after his victory last weekend at New Hampshire. “Mr. Penske gives us everything we need to keep our eye on the prize and compete for wins and championships. I think that is clear by the number of wins we have across the board this year."

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

NASCAR statement on grand jury's decision regarding Tony Stewart

   "There are no winners in tragedy. Our thoughts and prayers remain with the Kevin Ward Jr. family and Tony Stewart as they all cope with this tragic incident at Canandaigua Motorsports Park. This has been a difficult time for everyone involved and we have respected the local authorities responsible for reviewing this case.”

Tony Stewart statement on grand jury's decision

   The following is a statement from Tony Stewart regarding the grand jury’s decision.

   “This has been the toughest and most emotional experience of my life, and it will stay with me forever. I’m very grateful for all the support I’ve received and continue to receive. 

   “I respect everything the District Attorney and Sheriff’s Office did to thoroughly investigate this tragic accident. While the process was long and emotionally difficult, it allowed for all the facts of the accident to be identified and known.  

   “While much of the attention has been on me, it’s important to remember a young man lost his life. Kevin Ward Jr.’s family and friends will always be in my thoughts and prayers.”

Statement from Ontario County (NY) district attorney's office regarding Tony Stewart

DATE: September 24, 2014

This week an Ontario County grand jury has been meeting to hear testimony and review evidence gathered in the Tony Stewart matter, relating to the death of Kevin Ward at the Canandaigua Motor Speedway on August 9, 2014. The grand jury has completed its investigation.

During the course of the grand jury presentation, approximately two dozen witnesses testified. These included a number of race car drivers, racetrack employees and volunteers, two accident reconstruction experts, medical personnel, and a number of police officers. In addition, the grand jury reviewed a number of photographs and video recordings, as well as other documentary evidence. After listening to and questioning all of the witnesses, and reviewing all of the evidence, the grand jury has determined that there is no basis to charge Tony Stewart with any crimes; his case was “No-Billed” by the grand jury.  

Michael Tantillo
Ontario County District Attorney

Report: Grand jury begins to hear testimony in Tony Stewart case

   According to a report in the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle, the grand jury in Ontario County (N.Y.) began hearing testimony on Tuesday regarding the Aug. 9 incident at Canandaigua (N.Y.) Motorsports Park involving NASCAR driver Tony Stewart that resulted in the death of fellow driver Kevin Ward Jr.

   Stewart was driving a sprint car that struck and killed the 20-year-old Ward while he was walking on the track while the race was under caution. Ward and Stewart had been involved in a prior accident on the track.

   Among the first witnesses, according to the report, called was Chuck Hebing, who was driving the car in front of Stewart and passed Ward without incident.

   To read more on grand jury proceeding, go here.

   There is no timetable for grand jury; it could be days or weeks before it decides whether to charge Stewart in the incident.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

NASCAR to air replays of Sprint Cup races on its YouTube channel

   For the remainder of NASCAR’s postseason, fans will be able to view full-length replays of Sprint Cup Series races on NASCAR’s official YouTube channel, free of charge.

   Complete race replays of each Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup race broadcast will be available at www.youtube.com/NASCAR each week following the event. Fans may visit the playlist entitled, “Full NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Race Replays – 2014” on the channel’s landing page to access the videos. 

   “Enhancing the fan experience through NASCAR’s digital properties is at the core of everything we do, and providing free, full-length race replays on YouTube gives our fans another easy way to interact with the sport,” said Colin Smith, managing director of NASCAR Digital Media.

   Race No. 3 of the Chase is the AAA 400 at 2 p.m. Sunday at Dover (Del.) International Speedway.


Friday, September 19, 2014

Bank set to take 'immediate and exclusive custody' of Rockingham Speedway

    A Richmond County Superior Court judge will hear a motion next week which, if granted, will allow The Finley Group - a managing agent for Farmers and Merchants Bank - to "take immediate and exclusive custody" of Rockingham Speedway.

   The Salisbury, N.C.-based bank is also seeking a temporary restraining order to prevent the track's current co-owners Andy Hillenburg and Bill Silas from accessing the property. The bank claims Rockingham Racing Park LLC, co-owned by Hillenburg and Silas, owes more then $4.5 million.

   The motion is set to be heard on Sept. 25. 

   Hillenburg and Silas purchased the then-dormant track for $4 million in 2007 from Speedway Motorsports Inc. The track served as a testing site for NASCAR teams and hosted several lower-level series until 2012 when NASCAR's Camping World Truck Series debuted at the track. The series hosted another event in 2013 before the track was dropped from the series schedule.

   In an interview with the Observer in 2013, Hillenburg said, "We've got a number of issues that have to be resolved before we can host races again. These issues have been mounting over the last two or three years."

Read more here: http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2013/10/24/4412907/rockingham-loses-truck-series.html#storylink=cpy

   The Pee Dee Post first reported the bank's court motion on Wednesday.  You can read it here

   To read more on NASCAR's return to 'The Rock' in 2012 from the Observer, go here.


Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Richard Petty Motorsports committed to running two fulltime Cup teams in 2015

   Despite losing driver Marcos Ambrose and sponsor Stanley Tools at the end of the season, Richard Petty Motorsports said in a statement on Wednesday that it remains committed to fielding two fulltime Sprint Cup Series teams in 2015.

   The organization said it will also remain with Ford and continue its alliance with Roush Fenway Racing.

   Twisted Tea Brewing Company will continue their primary sponsorship of the No. 9 team in 2015 as the RPM marketing and new business team continues various discussions with several companies.

   "First, we want to wish Stanley Black and Decker the best," commented Brian Moffitt, President and CEO of Richard Petty Motorsports. "Their commitment and support has been a critical component to the success of RPM. As with all good partnerships, we are proud that the Stanley and RPM partnership has benefited both companies. We are grateful for their support and they will always be a part of our family.

   "Today, we are excited to build new partnerships on the No. 9 team. We have a vision that our ownership group and sponsors support and believe in. We have built upon that vision in two short years to become championship eligible."


Sunday, September 14, 2014

Marcos Ambrose will be Penske's newest driver - in Australia

   Not long after Team Penske's Brad Keselowski opened the 2014 Chase for the Sprint Cup with a victory at Chicagoland Speedway, the organization released a statement announcing current Cup driver Marcos Ambrose would drive for the organization's new V8 Supercar team in 2015.

   Penske will form a partnership with Dick Johnson Racing, the longest-established motor racing team in Australia, to compete with Ford Falcons in the 2015 V8 Supercars Championship with Ambrose, who is leaving Richard Petty Motorsports at the end of the season.

   Ambrose is a two-time V8 Supercars champion; winning back-to-back titles in 2003 and 2004. He transitioned to a winning career in NASCAR where he has earned seven wins and eight poles while competing in Cup, Nationwide and Truck series over the past nine seasons.

   “Team Penske is excited to partner with Dick Johnson Racing to compete in the V8 Supercars Championship starting next season,” said Roger Penske. “We believe in building our businesses through racing and our success on the track.

   "With our new business ventures in Australia, it makes sense to showcase our brands through the V8 Supercars Championship and the opportunity to work with DJR and Marcos Ambrose convinced us to go forward.”

   Ambrose, a native of Launceston, Tasmania, is one of the most successful drivers in the history of the V8 Supercars Championship. In the 65 rounds in which he competed from 2001 to 2005, he won 28 individual races.

   “This is a great opportunity to return home to a place that I love in a Series where I’ve experienced a lot of success,” said Ambrose, who earned two Cup wins. “It will be an honor to race for two motorsport legends in Roger Penske and Dick Johnson.”

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Marcos Ambrose will not return to Richard Petty Motorsports next season

   Team press release

   Richard Petty Motorsports announced Saturday the No. 9 team will move forward with a new driver in 2015. Marcos Ambrose, who has been with RPM since 2011, has informed the organization that he will return to his native home of Australia in 2015.  This was a personal decision by Ambrose. 

   At this time RPM is currently evaluating several driver opportunities to help drive the No. 9 team forward and will make a future announcement at the appropriate time. 

   Richard Petty, co-owner of Richard Petty Motorsports, is thankful for Ambrose and his dedication to the team. 

   “Marcos will always be a part of our extended racing family,” said Richard Petty, co-owner of Richard Petty Motorsports.   “He came over to the United States with his family and dedicated his time here to giving it the best he had each week.  I couldn’t ask anything more from Marcos and his commitment on and off of the track to our race team and our partners.  Away from the track, he’s a family person first.  That’s something I respect and we’ll miss Marcos, Sonja and their children.” 

   Ambrose will depart the team as one of the most successful drivers to ever race under the Petty banner.  His NASCAR legacy will be cemented as one of the greatest to ever wheel a stock car on road courses, specifically the course at Watkins Glen International where he has six NASCAR wins.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Trouble ahead on DWTS? Michael Waltrip: 'I've never been a dancer'

   The newest season of ABC's "Dancing with the Stars" was already going to take on a unique look with the addition of NASCAR driver and team owner Michael Waltrip among the hopefuls. It could prove even more interesting following Waltrip's admission on Friday that he has "never been a dancer."

    "I never have been a dancer and got into it that much, but over the last two weeks I’ve taken a crash course and it’s a good thing for my partner Emma (Slater) that the sheet was blank," Waltrip said.

   "The thing that I know for sure, when the music starts and it’s time for me to start dancing, I can’t take three or four steps and say, ‘Hold on a minute.’ It’s live and real, it’s just like a NASCAR race - when they throw the green, you’ve gotta go.”

   And you never know what's going to  happen.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Helmet ruled the culprit for Johnson's dehydration

A defective cooling system in Jimmie Johnson's helmet was determined to be the cause of the six-time Sprint Cup champion's severe dehydration following Saturday night's race at Richmond, Va.

"The team found an issue with the cooling system for my helmet. Basically, it was blowing warm air," Johnson said. "It’s nice to have a good idea as to what went wrong and why I got so hot in the race car. It’s a newer system that we’ve implemented, so we’re just going back to our old faithful system that’s worked for years and years. We should have the problem rectified.”

An earlier post-race analysis by Hendrick Motorsports on Johnson's No. 48 Chevrolet used in the race had found all of the car's components were functioning properly.

After exiting his No. 48 Chevrolet on pit road after his eighth-place finish Saturday night, Johnson said he began to cramp and slumped to the ground. He stood back up and began to get dizzy, so he laid back on the ground near his car.

Medics took Johnson to the infield care center where he was released about an hour-and-a-half later after receiving five liters of intravenous fluids.

"I feel much better. I felt a lot better Saturday evening after the infield care center," Johnson said. "I attended the triathlon that my foundation put on Sunday morning (in Davidson) and then headed down to Charleston for a buddy’s wedding. But I’m doing much better and feeling good.”


Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Jimmie Johnson's dehydration incident remains somewhat a mystery

   A post-race analysis by Hendrick Motorsports on Jimmie Johnson's No. 48 Chevrolet used in Saturday night's Sprint Cup Series race at Richmond, Va., found all of the car's components were functioning properly, a team spokesperson confirmed on Tuesday morning.

   The spokesperson also said she had exchanged text messages with Johnson on Monday evening and he said he was feeling much better. 

   Johnson is scheduled to take part in NASCAR's "Chase Across North America" tour and planning to visit New York City as part of the media tour.

   After exiting his No. 48 Chevrolet on pit road after his eighth-place finish Saturday night, Johnson said he began to cramp and slumped to the ground. He stood back up and began to get dizzy, so he laid back on the ground near his car.

   Medics took Johnson to the infield care center where he was released about an hour-and-a-half later after receiving five liters of intravenous fluids.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

It's party time - or rather a DigiBash - at Chip Ganassi Racing

   Chip Ganassi Racing will be holding a unique social media event for millennials at its  Concord, N.C. race shop on Monday night. And while the event is invitation-only, you can still catch on streaming video.

    NASCAR drivers Kyle Larson (22) and Dylan Kwasniewski (19), along with IndyCar Series driver Sage Karam (19), will host the 'Ganassi Sound Garage': A DigiBash, a private, invitation-only event for young, social media influencers featuring a concert by Cassadee Pop, Big Machine Label Group artist and former winner of the hit NBC show The Voice.
   Guests will have the opportunity to walk the red carpet and show off their footwear on the “kicks cam”, be their own paparazzi and take selfies with Cassadee and the drivers, and have their #soundgarage posts shared on the 20-foot tall HP social media wall.

   The event will be hosted by Fox Sports 1 TV personality Kaitlyn Vincie, and will be live-streamed beginning at 8:30 p.m. ET on nascar.com, indycar.com and chipganassiracing.com.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Jimmie Johnson treated for dehydration after Richmond race

   Jimmie Johnson, already locked in the Chase for the Sprint Cup with three victories, never got the chance to join his fellow 15 competitors on stage after Saturday night's Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond International Raceway.

   After exiting his No. 48 Chevrolet on pit road after his eighth-place finish, Johnson said he began to cramp and slumped to the ground. He stood back up and began to get dizzy, so he laid back on the ground near his car.

   Medics took Johnson to the infield care center where he was released about an hour-and-a-half later after receiving five liters of intravenous fluids.

   "I got dehydrated in the car and I'm not exactly sure what led to it. We need to see what happened," Johnson said. "I started cramping when I got out of the race car and when I was cramping I was trying to stand up and I got dizzy, so I sat back down.

   "I was hot in the car, so I need to make sure the fans were working and stuff like that. It was a scary moment. I'll have to learn from it and make sure it doesn't happen again."

Friday, September 5, 2014

Nationwide is on Dale Junior's side (even more)

   Nationwide Insurance announced Friday it has expanded its three-year relationship with Hendrick Motorsports to become the majority sponsor of driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. and the No. 88 Chevrolet team beginning with the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season.

   In May, Nationwide announced it would become a part-time primary sponsor of Earnhardt's team but has now increased its sponsorship to 21 Sprint Cup Series events, including the Daytona 500, for each of the next three seasons.

   Nationwide is also sponsoring Earnhardt's No. 88 Chevrolet in Saturday night's Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond International Raceway.

   The extra races became available when current sponsor National Guard announced it was discontinuing its motorsports sponsorships in NASCAR and IndyCar next season.

   “Representing the National Guard and its 'Citizen Soldiers' is an extraordinary honor and source of pride for our entire organization. Communication is ongoing with regard to the future of the sponsorship, which is contracted through the 2015 season," HMS said in a statement.  

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

NASCAR, Xfinity sign 10-year deal to rebrand Nationwide Series

NASCAR and communications company Comcast announced a 10-year partnership Wednesday that will rebrand the Nationwide Series as the Xfinity Series.

Xfinity is the third title sponsor in the history of NASCAR’s secondary circuit. Originally called the
Grand National Series, it was known as the Busch Series from 1986-2006, before Nationwide took over in 2007. Nationwide Insurance announced in 2013 it wouldn’t renew its contract with NASCAR.

Xfinity is Comcast’s residential service brand, including video and high-speed Internet.

“We’re trying to embrace technology and innovation wherever we can to either lower costs or make the experience for our fans a better one,” said NASCAR CEO Brian France at the announcement, which took place at the NASCAR Hall of Fame in uptown Charlotte.

Financial terms of the deal weren’t announced. The new new goes into effect for NASCAR’s 2015 season. -- David Scott

Is NASCAR team owner Michael Waltrip ready to put on his dancing shoes?

   According to the New York Daily News, Michael Waltrip Racing co-owner Michael Waltrip will take part in season No. 19 of ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars” when it debuts on Sept. 15.

   Among the other participants are runner Lolo Jones, comedian Tommy Chong and “Duck Dynasty” star Sadie Robinson.

   A MWR team spokesman said he was not at liberty to comment on the report at this time.

   To ready the full story at the Daily News go here.