Saturday, July 18, 2015

First topic at first NASCAR drivers council meeting: 'What makes a good race?'

   It sounds like a simple question, but history shows the answer is far more complicated and varies by perspective: "What makes a good race?"

   According to Dale Earnhardt Jr., and confirmed through other attendees, that was the first topic of the first NASCAR drivers council meeting last month at Dover (Del.) International Speedway. 

   The reason?

   "For the last probably 10 years we didn’t even know what a good show was. The drivers had an opinion what a good show was, NASCAR had an opinion what a good show was and it might not still be the same thing," Earnhardt said Friday in an interview at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
   To address many of the issues facing the sport, Earnhardt said drivers and NASCAR all had to get on the same page as to what each was trying to accomplish. The first starting point was a logical one.
   "The two sides might now be the same, but they were never in a room together years ago. So, we can sit there and talk about aero packages and what kind of racing it might present and now we’re seeing these packages get implemented on the race track, which is pretty crazy," he said. "I never ever thought that they would go allow us to run this low downforce package. I just, we wanted it and asked for it and asked for it and it really never got any legs."
  When the discussion ended on the first topic did drivers and NASCAR find their views on what makes a good race were different?
   "I think so. NASCAR I think wants pack racing and drafting and passing. Tons of passing, tons, tons - if they could pass every straightaway at speed that would a great show for NASCAR, which it would be great to watch," Earnhardt said. 
   "I think the drivers' opinion of what a great show is, is a bit old-school. Something from the '80s and the '90s. Not necessarily in the fact that fifth place was a lap down, because that stuff is not going to happen these days because the sport is too competitive. But off-throttle time, guys sliding around, tires wearing out, tires not making a fuel run, having to really take care of it.That's the kind of thing we want to encourage."

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Kevin Harvick takes home 2015 ESPY award for 'Best Driver'

   Reigning NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Kevin Harvick’s dominating year on the race track earned him an ESPY for ‘Best Driver’ Wednesday night at the 23rd annual ESPY Awards show presented by ESPN. 

   Harvick triumphed over 2015 Indianapolis 500 champion Juan Pablo Montoya, 2014 IndyCar champion Will Power, 2014 Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton and 2014 NHRA champion Erica Enders-Stevens for the win.

   Last season, Harvick earned five victories, six runner-up finishes and 14 top-five finishes en route to his first Cup title, clinched in walk-off fashion in the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway with one of his five wins. Harvick also set six track qualifying records and earned a series-best eight poles.

   Harvick’s career includes 90 wins across NASCAR’s top three series – Cup, Xfinity and Trucks. Now in his 13th year, Harvick joins a list of stock car drivers who have won the title of ‘Best Driver’ since the awards began in 1993 including Tony Stewart, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson, Bobby Labonte and Dale Jarett.

Monday, July 13, 2015

How to compare Kentucky Speedway's passing grade Saturday night

  Sprint Cup Series drivers were overwhelmingly supportive of the new aerodynamic rules package that debuted in Saturday night's Quaker State 400 at Kentucky Speedway.

   In addition to the glowing comments, however, NASCAR had a significant amount of recent data from which to compare that backed up the positive comments. 

   Here's a look at how Kentucky has fared in the passing game since its Cup series debut:

   Track History - Green Flag Passes
   Race Date            Total          
   7/11/2015            2,665              
   6/28/2014            1,147      
   6/30/2013            1,650      
   6/30/2012            1,849      
   7/9/2011              3,216      

   Track History - Green Flag Pass for Lead
   Race Date            Total          
   7/11/2015            22          
   6/28/2014            12          
   6/30/2013            6             
   6/30/2012            9             
   7/9/2011              19          

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Could NASCAR's safety solutions have applications to other professional sports?

   As NASCAR begins its investigation into Monday's last-lap wreck during the Coke Zero 400 that tore a giant hole in the frontstretch catchfence at Daytona International Speedway which left five fans injured, it's possible any new solutions that arise could be applied to other professional sports.

   Steve O'Donnell, NASCAR's executive vice president and chief racing development officer, was asked Tuesday about the work being done on any 'next-generation' catchfence solutions and whether something new was on the horizon.

   O'Donnell opened the door to searching for new technologies that could be applied to any sport with a playing field.

   "I think the catch fence, first and foremost, is there to obviously keep the car from going through, and I think it did that. I think the next iteration that we would look at, it may not be a fence make, but what are the new technologies that are out there," he said.

   "I think this is an area for all sports to look at, with anything either flying away from a playing field or a racing surface. If we can lead in that area, we want to do just that. I wouldn't make it specific to a fence. There could be a lot of new technologies that we could look at collectively with the tracks to make some improvements in that area."

Monday, July 6, 2015

Fan videos of Monday morning's horrific crash at Daytona

   Here's a collection of videos taken from fans in the grandstands at Daytona International Speedway of the last-lap crash in Monday's rain-delayed Coke Zero 400:


Sunday, July 5, 2015

Rico Abreu scores his first NASCAR victory

  Rico Abreu made a name for himself wheeling an open-wheel car on dirt. It hasn’t taken long to get acclimated to stock car racing on asphalt.
   In only his seventh start, the 23-year-old from St. Helena, Calif., earned his first NASCAR win Saturday night in the K&N Pro Series East race at Columbus (Ohio) Motor Speedway. Abreu, who stands 4-foot-4, was born with achondroplasia, a genetic disorder that is a cause of dwarfism.

   With his victory in the NAPA 150, Abreu continues his breakout year that saw him with the prestigious Chili Bowl Nationals sprint car event, make his first stock car start in February, sign with HScott Motorsports with Justin Marks and win his first Coors Light Pole Award in the previous K&N Pro Series East event at Langley Speedway.

   Abreu captured his second Coors Light Pole Award in a row earlier in the evening at Columbus, but it was the decisive pass for the lead that he made on Lap 115 that ultimately delivered his first victory. Abreu just beat Grant Quinlan to the finish line. In his K&N Pro Series East debut, Quinlan battled for – and swapped – the lead eight times with Abreu throughout the 150-lap event. 

   Abreu is following the path that his friend and fellow Californian Kyle Larson – now a full-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series competitor – took in transitioning from dirt to asphalt. Larson’s first NASCAR victory came in his sixth career K&N Pro Series East start in 2012 en route to the championship that season.

   William Byron, who finished 14th Saturday, retained the championship lead by 20 points over Hill with seven races complete.

   The NAPA 150 will be telecast on NBC Sports Network on Friday at 2:30 p.m. ET.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Brian France on franchising: 'It's in our best interest to have healthy team owners'

  Could some form of franchising be in NASCAR's not-so-distant future?
   In an appearance Wednesday afternoon on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio, NASCAR Chairman Brian France seemed to open the door to some sort of franchising model for NASCAR teams that would provide invested team owners with equity outside of the car parts and machine tools that fill their respective shops.

   Asked by Sirius host Dave Moody for his take on the status of talks on the issue, France said, "It's in our best interest to have healthy team owners who have the best opportunity to field quality race teams. That's a goal that we've had for a long time. That remains. In any way we can do to benefit that business model and create more opportunities for ownership, for example, whatever we may be, all of those things are what are being discussed. It's not a new direction. We are taking a little bit more of a formal look at that. Whatever we can come up with that benefits our team owners, their business models and creates a healthier and more competitive NASCAR, that's in our best interest."

   Asked how far along the talks are, France said, "These are complicated matters. They aren't new. What is different a little bit is that we're formalizing these discussions so we can accelerate these ideas. Directionally, in our best interests of course to make sure our team owners are healthy. They've said they have a lot of challenges right now. We're listening to that because they are one of the most important stakeholders in NASCAR."

Saturday, June 27, 2015

NASCAR Chairman Brian France supports 'eradication of the Confederate flag'

Statement from Brian France, NASCAR Chairman & CEO

   DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (June 27, 2015) – “NASCAR will maintain its long-standing policy preventing the use of the Confederate Flag in any official position at our events. In all areas that NASCAR controls on a given race weekend, the flag has no presence. 

   “We have been clear in support of this position throughout our industry and to those across the country who have called for the eradication of the Confederate Flag. We will be as aggressive as possible to disassociate NASCAR events from an offensive and divisive symbol. We are working with the industry right now to achieve that goal.”

Friday, June 26, 2015

Jeff Gordon on Confederate flag: 'I support NASCAR.'

   Jeff Gordon, who grew up in Northern California, will make his final start of his NASCAR career in Sunday's Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway. On Friday, Gordon was asked about his reaction to NASCAR's statement this week that it supported the efforts of S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley and others to remove the Confederate flag from the grounds of the South Carolina Statehouse.

   “As far as the confederate flag I think that… I know how we approach it at Hendrick Motorsports and that is everything that we can control. We have eliminated the ability to use it in anyway or it show up in any of the things that we are involved with.  I think that is the stance I see that NASCAR has taken and have had that stance for several years," Gordon said.

   "To me I’m in support of what they are doing. It’s a delicate balance. We race all over, but the South is an area where we have a lot of fans. Everyone has different opinions and expression of that. I support NASCAR and the stance that they are taking.”

Sunday, June 21, 2015

NASCAR's Jeff Gordon makes a 'homecoming tour' stop in Northern California

   Before competing in next weekend's Sprint Cup Series race at Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway, four-time NASCAR champion Jeff Gordon and his family made a stop on Saturday in Northern California as part of his "homecoming tour."

   Gordon, who grew up in Vallejo, Calif., was joined by his wife, Ingrid, daughter, Ella and son, Leo, and first made a stop at the Rio Linda quarter-midget track where Gordon first raced, as well as the middle school he attended in Vallejo. 

   Gordon announced at the beginning of the year this would be his last as a fulltime competitor in the Cup series. He will begin work next season as a TV analyst for NASCAR on Fox TV. 
   “When you look around Rio Linda, this is really where Jeff got his start, and this is where he came from,” said Gordon, stepfather, John Bickford. “Now, he’s like the ambassador for this sport. Becoming a professional driver is what all of these kids want to do. Every one of these kids racing quarter-midgets today wants to race in Indianapolis or the Daytona 500 someday, and he achieved that.”

   Gordon and his family toured the 61-year old facility, visited with young racers and took part in pre-race ceremonies. It marked the first time Gordon had visited the facility in more than 30 years. His daughter, Ella, is in the early stages of her own quarter-midget racing career.

   “Rio Linda was the first place that I ever drove a race car on the track, and I won a lot of races there and made a lot of friends. I don’t know what life would be like for me today if it weren’t for Rio Linda,” said Gordon.

   Gordon also paid a visit to the former Springstowne Middle School (now Vallejo Charter School) in Vallejo, which he attended. Gordon was born in Vallejo and lived in Northern California until he was 14 years old. He was welcomed by nearly 200 students and their families for a question-and-answer session in the quad of the middle school. 

   Gordon was also presented with proclamations and gifts from U.S. Congressman Mike Thompson (Calif. 5th Congressional District), Solano County Supervisor Erin Hannigan, Vallejo Vice Mayor “Jess” Malgapo and Vallejo City Unified School District Superintendent Dr. Ramona Bishop.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Austin Dillon gets a new crew chief at Richard Childress Racing

   Austin Dillon will have a new crew chief in the Sprint Cup Series beginning with the June 28 race at Sonoma, Calf., although he is not unfamiliar with Richard Childress Racing.

   Richard "Slugger" Labbe will take over as crew chief for Dillon's No. 3 Chevrolet, replacing Gil Martin, who will move into a leadership role within RCR's research and development department. Labbe had worked in the department as well as served as crew chief for Dillon's younger brother, Ty, when he has run the No. 33 for Circle Sport Racing. 

   Austin Dillon, the 2013 Xfinity Series champion, is currently 23rd in the Cup series standings with just one top-10 finish.  

   Labbe's wins include the 2003 Daytona 500 and 2011 Brickyard 400, as part of 433 Cup starts to his credit.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Jeff Gordon explains last weekend's blowup over the radio with his crew chief

   A very frustrated Jeff Gordon and his crew chief, Alan Gustafson, had a very uncharacteristic blowup over their team radio late in last Sunday's Sprint Cup race at Pocono. 

   The exchange got so heated, at one point Gordon's spotter, Eddie D'Hondt, chimed in and said, "Guys, let's just settle down."

   On Friday at Michigan International Speedway, Gordon admitted there had been some built up frustration with how his final fulltime season in the Cup series has been going.

   "It seems like every time we have a car that is capable of either winning or running in the top five some circumstances come about that take us kind of out of that. That is frustrating.  When you are in the closing laps of a race or coming down to the final pit stops, and you are making choices and decisions you are not always going to like those decisions," Gordon said.

   "At that point I think both Alan was frustrated and I was frustrated. The restarts weren’t going great. We took a risk on pit strategy and the caution came out. That blew that strategy and that put us back  We saw how tough it was to pass and track position was really important, especially in that final run. 

   "It is all good. We are big boys. We respect the heck out of one another and we had great conversations this week. I think it’s actually been more positive that we kind of got that out there and had this heated moment. And said some things and got them off our chest. I think it has actually helped us come into this weekend focused, motivated and excited.”

Friday, June 12, 2015

Ross Kenseth wins his first ARCA race in third career start

   Ross Kenseth, the 22-year-old son of NASCAR Sprint Cup Series star Matt Kenseth, won his first Automobile Racing Club of America series race on Friday at Michigan International Speedway in just his third series start.

   Ross Kenseth, driving for Ken Schrader Racing, passed then-leader Grant Enfinger with 13 of 100 laps remaining and held on for the win while also conserving fuel for the final laps. 

   "It was pretty cool. I was glad he won and he did a great job," Matt Kenseth said after the race. "Ross has been working really hard, particularly the last year, to get some opportunities." 

   Ross Kenseth gets another big opportunity next weekend, when he will compete for Joe Gibbs Racing in the Xfinity Series race at Chicagoland Speedway.

   "I'm just happy we got back to racing. I thought they may call it at one point (from the rain)," Ross said. "Grant did a great job racing me and taking my line away. It's been about a year-and-a-half since I won at anything, so this is awesome."

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

NASCAR artist Sam Bass recovering from another severe blood infection

   Sam Bass, NASCAR's first officially licensed artist, continues to recover from surgery for complications resulting from another severe blood infection.  

   A life long Type 1 diabetic, Bass was hospitalized twice in 2014 and spent 10 weeks in treatment as a result of sepsis, a severe blood disorder that often results in loss of limbs or even death.  

   "I tremendously appreciate the prayers and continued support of everyone during this extremely difficult time," Bass said in a statement released Wednesday.

   Bass expects to be released from the hospital later this week to continue his recovery from home.

   Bass' battle with sepsis began in February 2014. Complications with the severe blood infection resulted in multiple surgeries and led to a long road to recovery. Able to return to the track just three months later, Bass suffered another setback in October 2014, when a less severe infection returned to his bloodstream.  

  Located adjacent to Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord, Bass' personal studio and motorsports art gallery is available for group tours, media events, private parties and corporate hospitality.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Michael Waltrip Racing swaps crew chiefs on its two Sprint Cup teams

   Michael Waltrip Racing today announced personnel changes to its two-car NASCAR Sprint Cup operation, which include the reassignment of its crew chiefs.

   Effective immediately, Brian Pattie will become the crew chief for the No. 55 Toyota Camry driven by David Ragan. Billy Scott will become the crew chief for the No. 15 Toyota Camry driven by Clint Bowyer.

   Pattie has been the crew chief for the No. 15 with Bowyer since the team was established in 2012. He has scored three wins with the team, and finished second in the 2012 Chase for the Sprint Cup and seventh in 2013.

   Scott has been the crew chief of the No. 55 since August 2013, and previously served under Rodney Childers as that team’s lead engineer.

   Additional changes include a reorganization of lead, secondary and support engineers for each team. Car chiefs, road mechanics and pit crews will remain with their originally assigned teams.

   “Our goal is to best position the 15 and 55 teams for a berth in the Chase for the Sprint Cup,” said co-owner Rob Kauffman. “MWR has an enormous amount of bright, motivated and quality people working to solve the endless challenges inherent to racing.  We have won poles and races, we have made the Chase and competed for a championship with this core group of personnel.  We just felt it was time to shake things up a bit to try and spark fresh ideas and more consistent results.  There are 12 races left before the 2015 Chase field is set and we plan to be a part of it.”

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Brian France on driver's council: 'Gives everybody a really good seat at the table'

   NASCAR Chairman Brian France spoke briefly with a group of reporters on Sunday before the AXalta 400 at Pocono Raceway and was asked about NASCAR's meeting last weekend at Dover, Del., with a council of Sprint Cup Series drivers.

   Here was his response, in part: 

   "It's great. I've said from the beginning that we're going to improve our communications across the board with all the stakeholders across the board and they are certainly as important as anybody. So, that's consistent. What you're seeing is more formalized conversations. We talk all the time about things that are important to them. We did the same thing with the track operators. We didn't have a formal thing with them. We now do and get together in February. That just gives everybody a really good seat at the table to express what's important to them," he said.

   "When anybody has things that can improve the sport, we're going to be open to that. It doesn't really matter the exact form of communications that happens. What matters is that it does happen. We're getting the stakeholders as close to us as we can because there are a lot of good ideas that come out of these discussions. The driver's with safety. There's a business side to this that they have an interest in. We need to make sure we communicate well with them."

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Who said there was no passing in NASCAR?

   You hear a lot of complaints this season about the difficulty or the lack of passing in NASCAR races.

   But the statistics don't match the rhetoric, although they don't tell the whole story.

   Through the first 13 Sprint Cup Series races of the 2015 season, there have been 55,701 green-flag passes for position on the track. That's the second-highest total through 13 races since the inception of NASCAR's "loop data" in 2005.

   Granted, loop data have not been around forever, but there is now more than a decade worth of data from which to compare - that's certainly a significant sample size.

   So, there is passing on the track. But perhaps the more important question is, where does it take place?

   Through the same 13 races there have been 376 green-flag passes for the lead on the track - that's just the fifth-highest total since 2005. In other words, passes for the lead this season are about average for the last 10 years. 

   Part of the problem is those passes are generally the ones most fans pay the most attention to, and remember. Also, passes for the lead get more attention on TV and radio broadcasts. So, if there are fewer actual passes for the lead, the perception can come across there is less passing in general taking place in the race. 

  The statistics show, however, that's simply not the case.

Read more here:

Friday, June 5, 2015

Kevin Harvick to run Truck race in August at Pocono with JR Motorsports

   Reigning Sprint Cup Series champion Kevin Harvick will enter the Aug. 1 NASCAR Truck series race at Pocono, driving the No. 00 Chevrolet for JR Motorsports, the team confirmed Friday to the Observer. 

   Harvick last competed in the series in 2013, when he ran both races at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway for NTS Motorsports. His most recent win in the series came in 2012 at Martinsville. 

   JRM is fielding the No. 00 for the first time this season. Rookie Cole Custer is running 10 of the races with a handful of other races run with a variety of drivers.

Crew chief Rodney Childers signs multi-year contract extension with SHR

   Rodney Childers, crew chief for reigning Sprint Cup Series champion Kevin Harvick, has agreed to a multi-year contract extension that will keep him with Stewart-Haas Racing through the 2020 season, the organization announced on Friday morning.

   In his inaugural season as Harvick's crew chief, Childers and the No. 4 Chevrolet team won five races, won eight roles and led 2,137 laps en route to the duo's first championship. 
   “Rodney Childers and Kevin Harvick set a new standard of excellence in 2014 that they’ve carried into this season," said SHR co-team owner Tony Stewart. "Keeping Rodney and Kevin together was a high priority, and we’re obviously very happy to have the two of them at Stewart-Haas Racing for many years to come."

   Childers and Harvick haven’t let up in 2015. So far this season, they have two wins and nine top-two finishes. They enjoy a commanding lead in the series standings and have led 1,123 laps - nearly 26 percent of the laps run this season.

   “I knew when I came to Stewart-Haas Racing that this was a special opportunity,” Childers said. “Kevin’s skills have always been evident, and his hunger and desire to be the absolute best he can be in every practice, qualifying session and race motivates our entire team. We have great leadership at Stewart-Haas Racing along with a deep commitment toward success, excellent people and strong partners. If you want to win, this is where you want to be, and I’m happy to be here for a long time.”

Rodney Childers
Rodney Childers during a press conference at Phoenix International Raceway on Nov. 9, 2014 in Avondale, Ariz. (Photo by Todd Warshaw/Getty Images)

Monday, May 25, 2015

Denny Hamlin: 'I was borderline throwing up trying to race for the lead'

   It was quite an eventful final 150 miles or so for driver Denny Hamlin in Sunday night's Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. He went from contending to the win to debating whether he should get out of his No. 11 Toyota. Oh, and he had to pit under green for a loose wheel as well.

   Hamlin ended up finishing eighth as several drivers - including his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate and race winner, Carl Edwards - stretched their fuel without making a final pit stop.

   Hamlin almost immediately was whisked away on a golf cart and taken to the track's infield care center. When he emerged, he was feeling much better and even stopped by Edwards' winner's press conference to congratulate him.

   “It’s tough, I was borderline throwing up trying to race for the lead. You just try to power through it and of course when you run well, you always feel a little bit better, but when the race is over and everything comes to a stop you realize how bad you feel," Hamlin said. "I'm a lot better now with fluids and everything. It was directly related to hydration.

   "I knew when my knee was sore afterwards that it was probably fluids. My off-day was 36 holes of golf and a full tennis match. Probably over did it a little bit this weekend. I think the dehydration led to a migraine and just felt nauseous the last 100 laps or so. Thank goodness, that didn’t cost us the win."

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Panthers' Thomas Davis: 'I'm definitely becoming a big race fan'

   Carolina Panthers outside linebacker, Thomas Davis, was the honorary pace car driver for Sunday's Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Before beginning his "official" duties, Davis and his family got a behind-the-scenes look at NASCAR on Sunday afternoon.

   "I got my kids out here with me now in the infield taking this all in and enjoying the experience. I am definitely becoming a big race fan. This is truly awesome," said Davis, who was named the NFL’s Walter Payton Man of the Year this season.

   "Driving the pace car is going to be the game day adrenaline, I’m sure. I am extremely honored to be the pace car driver for tonight’s race. I am just going to go out there and have fun with it and get it done.”  

   Following his appearance Sunday at the infield media center, Davis met Taya Kyle, wife of famed U.S. Navy SEAL Chris Kyle (upon whom the movie “American Sniper” is based). 

   Kyle was signing autographs for media and took a few minutes to meet Davis. The two exchanged stories, and autographs, before going their separate ways for additional appearances.

Carolina Panthers linebacker Thomas Davis, right, smiles at NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Dale Earnhardt Jr., left, as they prepare to get into a race car and take laps around the track at Charlotte Motor Speedway  on Tuesday, May 19, 2015. Davis went through pace car certification to prepare for his duties as honorary pace car driver for the May 24 Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Afterward, Earnhardt Jr. drove Davis to give him some hot laps in a No. 88 Nationwide Chevrolet. (David T. Foster III,

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Kyle Busch on fatherhood: 'It's a whole new world'

   Sprint Cup Series driver Kyle Busch made his first appearance at the track Thursday since he and his wife, Samantha, welcomed their first child earlier this week. Brexton Busch weighed 7 pounds and 10 ounces and is 21 inches long.

   Kyle was asked if there was a "new" Kyle Busch now that his son had arrived.

   “I don’t know that I’m different, but it’s a whole new world right now for sure. It’s an entirely different feeling. You wonder where the time goes already. I was trying to get ready this morning and Samantha was trying to get ready – she had to take him for an appointment and some other stuff and I’m trying to help out and all of the sudden it’s time for me to leave to come out here to the race track and I’m like, ‘Holy smokes, I have to get ready, I have to hurry up.’ That was different," he said. 

   "It's way different than what it was before he was born. Obviously, Samantha was taking care of him. She had him in her so just taking care of him that way and carrying him around. I didn’t have to worry about anything. I didn’t have to feed him, I didn’t have to change him or nothing like that, but it’s a whole different world now that he’s here with having to take care of him so we both have to spread our time. Obviously, when his favorite thing to do is make stinky diapers, then you’ve certainly got your work cut out for you.”

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Statement from Bruton Smith about being named to NASCAR Hall of Fame

O. Bruton Smith, Motorsports, Inc. executive chairman

   “When I found out that I was nominated, I realized how much this meant to my family and the 15,000 employees that work for my companies.  Now I realize how much it means to me.  It will truly be an honor to be remembered at the Hall of Fame along with people like Dale Earnhardt, Richard Petty, Glen Wood, Junior Johnson, Darrell Waltrip and so many others who helped build this sport. That’s what I’ve tried to do my entire life.  I’m a frustrated builder who had a knack for promoting races, and it’s been fun to always try to push the sport to greater heights for the fans. From the first World 600, I’ve always wanted the fans to leave with something spectacular to remember about their experience.  Even if they don’t remember who won the race, I want them to remember the pre-race show and having the time of their lives. I want fans to know we’re always working to build the best facilities for them and that’s who I really owe this recognition to. The millions of fans who’ve attended our race tracks all of these years are the ones who really deserve to be in the Hall of Fame. They’ve built the sport right along with us, and I want to sincerely say thank you to them and the voting committee.”

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Brandon McReynolds earns his first NASCAR victory

  Brandon McReynolds got his first victory in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West on Saturday night with a major win in the East –West combination race at Iowa Speedway.

   McReynolds, making his 20th series start, took the lead eight laps from the finish and held on following a two-lap overtime to take the victory in the Casey’s General Store 150.

   “I knew that whoever could get a good jump on the last restart was probably going to come out with the victory,” said McReynolds, the son of NASCAR Fox TV analyst and former crew chief, Larry McReynolds. "It was pretty much hammer down there at the end."

   Scoring his first career series win in such a big event is a major boost of confidence, according to McReynolds, who will celebrate his 24th birthday on Thursday. 

   The East-West combination race will be televised on NBC Sports Network on May 21.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

NASCAR upgrades safety rules for pit crew members

   In what appears to be in response to a rash of fuel-related fires on pit road during some recent races, NASCAR on Wednesday issued an email to all pit crew members outlining some new safety requirements which will take effect the first week of June.

   In the email, a copy of which was obtained by The Observer, NASCAR notes that some items which have been recommended for pit crew members will soon become mandatory.

   All pit crew members, whether they fuel the car or not, will be required to wear fire retardant protective gloves, underwear (from the neck to the ankles), head socks (which cover the nose and mouth) and socks.

   The underwear, head socks and socks were only recommended for pit crew members who did not actually work with fueling the car. The email noted the rules should go into effect on June 4 and a technical bulletin would likely be issued before then.

   In one of the recent most series incidents, three pit crew members were injured in the April 24 Xfinity Series race at Richmond, Va. A malfunction in the fueling head, which seals the fuel can to the car, caused fuel to spill during a pit stop for driver Brendan Gaughan. Sparks from the car's lug nuts ignited the fuel into a spectacular fire.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Brett Moffitt began 2015 season with one race, now has fulltime Sprint Cup ride

   Brett Moffitt entered the 2015 NASCAR season with one planned race - to drive Michael Waltrip Racing's No. 55 Toyota in the Sprint Cup Series race at Atlanta.

   Now, he has a fulltime ride for the remainder of the season.

   On Wednesday, Front Row Motorsports announced Moffitt would compete with its No. 34 Ford team for the rest of the year. He will remain under contract with MWR for the time being, however. 

   "We're glad to be able to move forward knowing who is going to be in the car on a consistent basis," said team owner Bob Jenkins. "Brett's already got some great experience under his belt, and I think having the same driver-crew chief team working together regularly will bring some stability to our No. 34 team and help Brett with his development as well."

   The team's former driver, David Ragan, has since moved to MWR to fill in for Brian Vickers for the remainder of the season. 

   "The most important thing for me at this point of my career is seat time, going to some of
these tracks that are new to me, and racing around 42 other drivers in race conditions," Moffitt, 22, said. "And the more time I spend in the No. 34 car and with this team, the more competitive we'll get. And I think that consistency will lead to some good finishes."

Monday, May 11, 2015

Who gets paid what in the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race

 Purse breakdown for 2015 NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race

   Racing Purse Breakdown (by race finishing position):
   Total $3,150,588 


   NOTE: In the event any of these awards are not paid, remaining money will be distributed evenly among the field of competing eligible drivers for the NASCAR
Sprint All-Star Race awards.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Dale Junior's philosophy on life: 'You want to love what you do.'

   NASCAR's most popular driver, Dale Earnhardt Jr., was asked Friday at Kansas Speedway whether he was finding himself getting more involved in all of the business opportunities outside racing that he and companies owned by him represent.

   Earnhardt, who has a propensity to take difficult issues and communicate them in a straight-forward, effective manner, did it again, offering a poignant insight to his approach at getting older and closer to the day his career isn't encompassed by driving a race car.

   Here was his response:

   “Yeah, I think so especially as I get older and get closer to understanding that driving race cars won’t last forever. I mean I knew that, but you get closer and closer to the day when you won’t be in the race car anymore. Not only do I need things to keep me busy or keep me excited and motivated to get out of bed every day. You want to love what you do right? Because I’ve had so much fun driving race cars it is going to be a real challenge to find something that I enjoy as much," he said.

   "That is sort of something I take a little more seriously now as I’m getting older. I think the dealerships in Tallahassee (Florida) will be a fun exciting challenge. That was really my career path if I hadn’t been a race car driver, was as a mechanic and into the service department and maybe eventually if it all worked out a general manager or something like that at a store. It’s funny to think about it now, but that was the reality of the situation when I was younger. I feel comfortable there and feel like I understand that business better than anything else."

   It has become evident the care and concern Earnhardt puts into his outside ventures of late matches that on ensuring he is competitive in the race car each week.

   "I’m taking those things very seriously because that is going to be my source of income one day when driving race cars is no longer an opportunity. Definitely take it more seriously and want to make sure that we are doing things right," he said.

   "The production company does really good there are just so many things that we have so much potential with that are looking really good. Hopefully all that stuff works out. Everybody is looking for the (George) Foreman grill and hopefully I’ve got a couple of them in the works.”

Friday, May 8, 2015

Leavine Family Racing shop in Concord, N.C., suffers 'significant damage'

   According to a statement from Leavine Family Racing, an early morning fire in its race shop on Concord, N.C., on Friday did "significant damage" to the back area of the shop where several of its Sprint Cup Series cars were located. 

   "We can confirm there was a fire at our Concord, N.C., shop. Luckily no one was injured," said a statement provided by a team spokesperson. "We are working with the fire department and local officials to determine what happened."

   Late Friday, team officials said the structural damage to the shop may cause the organization to move its racing operations, however they did not believe the change would alter the team's competitive schedule.

    The fire was first reported around 7 a.m. and was brought under control by 8:30 a.m. Four race cars in the building - primarily backup cars - were destroyed, located in an 8,000-square foot section of the shop. A complete investigation of the fire continues by local authorities.  

   Most of the team members were already at Kansas Speedway this weekend as driver Michael McDowell will compete in Saturday night's SpongeBob SquarePants 400.  

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Statement from Richard Childress on losing final appeal of NASCAR tire penalty

   Statement from Richard Childress regarding final appeal ruling on the No. 31 Chevrolet team
   "We do not agree with the final appeal ruling. We feel we had a compelling case and still felt we were in the right and the facts presented today would have proved that. We do appreciate the opportunity to be heard. 
   "We stand behind our suspended team members and look forward to their return. We will now move on and continue or goals of winning races and making the Chase for the Champion."

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Chase Elliott could be a NASCAR all-star before he's a fulltime Sprint Cup driver

   Is it really possible Chase Elliott could be a NASCAR all-star before he's even a fulltime Sprint Cup Series driver?

   We found out Tuesday the answer to that question is "yes."

   During a news conference at Charlotte Motor Speedway, Hendrick Motorsports announced Elliott would enter the May 15 Sprint Showdown preliminary race during all-star weekend. The winner of each 20-lap segment of the race gains entry into the May 16 main event with a chance to earn the $1 million top prize.

   "I couldn't be more excited about the opportunity to run the Showdown. It allows me to gain more experience before we race again at Charlotte a week later," Elliott said in a statement provided by the team. "I'm grateful to Mr. Hendrick and everyone at NAPA for the chance to do it."

   Elliott, who is attempting to win his second consecutive Xfinity Series championship with JR Motorsports this season, is running a partial Cup schedule in preparation for taking over the driving duties of Jeff Gordon's No. 24 Chevrolet next season. Elliott was already scheduled to compete in the May 24 Coca-Cola 600.

   The Xfinity Series is competing next weekend at Iowa Speedway so Elliott will be pulling double-duty while traveling between North Carolina and Iowa.

Monday, May 4, 2015

NASCAR's Steve O'Donnell talks about the caution 'no-call' at Talladega

   While it doesn't appear a caution on the final lap of Sunday's GEICO 500 at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway would have changed the winner - which ended up being Dale Earnhardt Jr. - NASCAR's decision not to throw one as cars were wrecking didn't sit well with some of the drivers involved in the incident, namely Carl Edwards and Matt Kenseth.

   On Monday morning NASCAR Executive Vice President Steve O'Donnell addressed the issue during a weekly appearance on SiriusXM Satellite Radio's "The Morning Drive" show.

   Here are O'Donnell's remarks:
   “It’s going to be a judgment call. We’ve stated that we’re going to make every effort to try to finish a race under green-flag conditions. That’s what the fans want to see. We’ve got to be obviously mindful of what’s occurring on the race track. It’s a split-second decision. So, I think if you go back to Daytona and you saw a driver hit the wall what we thought was fairly hard and wanted to dispatch our emergency crews quickly, we elected to throw the caution. I think yesterday if you look at the circumstances that played out with Carl, when we initially saw him get loose, he was down on the apron. As we made that quick decision, it was ‘OK, he’s clear, we can go.’ Just as you make that, his car slides up across the track. 

   "That’s something you don’t want to see green- or yellow-flag conditions, but, at the time, if we would have thrown the yellow, then it’s too late because he’s already up and across the track. So, we elected to let it play out. We certainly didn’t like to see how Carl came across the track but ultimately we were able to come back under green-flag conditions.

   “People want to point to who’s leading, who’s not leading, what could have happened, what didn’t happen. I know it’s hard to believe for some folks, we don’t think about that. We look at the circumstances of the incident. We’ve got to make that call - just like a 99 mph fastball. The umpire can't think about it for a couple minutes. We’re not always going to be right. We know with each decision we open it up for debate. That’s sports. We’ll talk to Carl and the competitors about that but did like seeing us being able to finish under green."

Saturday, May 2, 2015

When your back’s against the wall, call for reinforcements. 'Dale Call' to be exact.

   The roaring duck call mimicking the sound of the engine from NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s No. 88 Chevrolet shot to fame in a Diet Mountain Dew TV commercial that began airing during Super Bowl XLVIII. 

   A few months later, Dew noticed a lot of chatter on social media from consumers begging for the brand to make the Dale Call widely available. So, they unveiled the Dale Call on Amazon late last year and the entire inventory sold out in less than a day.

   Dew is bringing back the popular Dale Call to e-commerce for $24.99 while supplies last. To celebrate this momentous occasion, Dew has created a brand new ad which will air during the race at Talladega this Sunday immediately following the original Diet Dew ad that made this unique product so popular.