Tuesday, March 31, 2015

NASCAR levies heavy penalties to Richard Childress Racing's No. 31 team for altering tires

   NASCAR has levied unprecedented penalties to Richard Childress Racing's No. 31 Sprint Cup Series team for altering tires.

   Crew chief Luke Lambert has been fined $125,000 and suspended from the next six Cup races plus any non-points races during that span and placed on NASCAR probation through Dec. 31. James Bender, team tire technician, and Philip Surgen, team engineer, have been suspended from the next six Cup races, plus any non-points races, and placed on NASCAR probation through Dec. 31. 

   Driver Ryan Newman and car owner Richard Childress each have been penalized with the loss of 75 championship driver and championship car owner points. 

   “NASCAR takes very seriously its responsibility to govern and regulate the rules of the sport in order to ensure competitive balance,” said Steve O’Donnell, Executive Vice President and Chief Racing Development Officer. “We’ve been very clear that any modifications to race vehicle tires is an unacceptable practice and will not be tolerated.”

NASCAR statement regarding Indiana's recently enacted 'religious freedom' legislation

Statement from NASCAR Senior Vice President
and Chief Communications Officer Brett Jewkes on the Indiana Legislation

   DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (March 31, 2015) – “NASCAR is disappointed by the recent legislation passed in Indiana. We will not embrace nor participate in exclusion or intolerance. We are committed to diversity and inclusion within our sport and therefore will continue to welcome all competitors and fans at our events in the state of Indiana and anywhere else we race.”

   To read more on the widely-criticized Indiana law, go here.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Joe Gibbs' full statement at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway on Sunday

JOE GIBBS, Team Owner, Joe Gibbs Racing

   "I will address J.D.'s (Gibbs, president, Joe Gibbs Racing) situation. J.D. at our team meeting earlier this week, he got up and basically he said, 'I know God has a plan and God puts us through things for a reason.' I think J.D. gains his strength from the fact that he has a personal relationship with the Lord and I have to tell you that he's my hero. I kind of watch him and I don't know if anybody has ever dealt with anything as crazy as J.D. does. He went through a situation with his son Taylor having leukemia at two and we fought through that for about three or four years. By the way, appreciate all of you all's prayers for Taylor and Taylor's doing great today. Like I said, J.D. through his entire life has probably been the craziest person that I've ever been around or knew. Basically, his situation medically – there's very few answers. We've been dealing with this for about six months and basically what the doctor's say is that they really don't know. J.D. has lived a very active lifestyle. All the things that he's done in his life physically he's loved all sporting events and it's everything from football to snowboarding, racing cars, racing motor bikes – he's lived in a lot of ways for him, he loved all those things. We can't point to any one serious thing that happened to him, certainly any injury is a possibility that led us into some of the symptoms that he's experiencing now. I wanted to address the NASCAR community. I have to tell you that as a group, from all the contact that we've had, the people praying for us and the people reaching out to us, whether it was through Taylor's situation or now through 

   "J.D.'s situation, it's been just unbelievable for us as a family. I include the media in that. All of you have always treated us and J.D. in particular with such a caring attitude and you've always treated us fairly. Certainly everybody in the community out there, we've got so many different things and people praying for us right now, it's real encouragement for us and I think that's one of the thrills that we love about what we do and of being a part of your family. We've been dealing with this for about six months so as far as the management team for Joe Gibbs Racing, we have a senior management team and most of our people have been in place for the full 24 years – it's amazing really. I think very few people have noticed anything or any difference in the way we operate with the race team. The good thing there is that J.D. and I share the same responsibilities. If I'm not there for a particular reason, J.D. will be there and if J.D. is not there for some reason, I'll be there. As he goes through treatment, he will probably be doing less at the race track because he has a full week that demands quite a bit from him as he goes through treatment. You will probably see less of him at the race track, but he'll be there on a day-to-day basis with the race team and be in all of our meetings and all of the key decisions that we make, J.D.'s going to have a huge impact on that. 

   "So for our whole family, Coy (Gibbs), who's primary focus is the motocross team, but Coy also shares a lot with all of our big decisions with any of our racing and he'll have a huge impact on anything we do in the future and working with us and his responsibilities – he has a lot of them, but he's a very big part of our family and our race team and everything going forward. Coy will have a big input on that. I just want to kind of finish by saying this is a personal thing for us. We appreciate the way you guys handle everything and we certainly will appreciate all the prayers going forward. Thank you."

Saturday, March 28, 2015

NASCAR driver Kyle Larson sits out Sunday's race at Martinsville, doctors checking 'heart area'

   Sprint Cup Series driver Kyle Larson will sit out Sunday's STP 500 at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway and will undergo more tests at Charlotte's Carolinas Medical Center after suffering a fainting spell Saturday afternoon during an autograph session at the track.

   A statement from Larson's Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates team on Sunday morning said Xfinity Series regular Regan Smith would drive Larson's No. 42 Chevrolet in Sunday's race.

   "Although all tests came back negative and Larson feels completely fine, the doctors felt he should be held for more testing today," the statement said. Larson, 22, was scheduled to start seventh in Sunday's race.

   In an interview prior to the race with SiriusXM NASCAR Radio's Claire B. Lang, team part-owner Felix Sabates said doctors were "checking the heart area" although he said "nobody thinks it's anything serious because his blood pressure has been pretty normal."

   John Olguin, the team's vice president of communications, told The Observer that Larson fainted during an autograph session and was taken to the track's infield care center. Doctors at the care center suggested Larson go to a local hospital for further evaluation, Olguin said.

   Doctors at Martinsville Memorial Hospital thought Larson should see a neurologist but the hospital did not have one available so he was eventually taken to CMC. 

Friday, March 27, 2015

Dale Jr. on NASCAR safety: 'You never can be safe enough'

   NASCAR's most popular driver, Dale Earnhardt Jr., was asked during his media availability on Friday at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway to assess the safety initiatives by NASCAR and if he were surprised there were still spots at tracks where there was nothing but concrete.

   Here is his complete response:

    “I think that the changes that were made in the last 10 to 15 years to help safety have been great. We put barriers where we felt like were common places the cars hit. But as we found out over the last couple of years, specifically, we’ll find all the empty spots where there aren’t any barriers. And I think that NASCAR is taking some steps to make it right. The tracks are taking some steps to move it along. You never can be safe enough. You never can do enough to be safe and keep the competitors safe and keep the fans safe. You never can do enough. So you shouldn’t ever stop trying. But unfortunately, it takes an accident like that to wake everybody up and make things happen. I know that NASCAR was very disappointed that there wasn’t a SAFER barrier on the wall at Daytona and that Kyle (Busch) was injured. And it’s real unfortunate to have to go through that whole process to really fire this thing kind of back up and get people moving on it," he said.

    “But, at the same time, I appreciate the things that they’re doing. And I know that the tire stuff is temporary. The tires are better than the concrete wall, but at the same time those tires can be a problem when you get into those. There’s no telling what direction that car is going to go when it hits a tire barrier. It’s better than the wall, for sure, but nothing’s better at this point than a SAFER barrier. So I guess their intent, over time, is to get SAFER barriers where they feel like they need it. And until then, we’ll have these tires in those areas. I’m happy with the things the tracks are doing. You look back at the cockpit of these cars when I first started driving them, and look at the advances we’ve made inside the cars and outside the cars, and when I was racing in 1998 and ’99 and 2000; and when I was racing Late Models without headrests and neck restraints, I never once was worried about anything ever happening to me. You get complacent, I think.

   “You look back at how stripped down safety was inside the cars years ago, and we didn’t worry about it then. And I think over time, you kind of get a little complacent. You do a lot to get better and get safer and then maybe you get complacent and you think you have enough. And there’s just never enough, you know? You just always keep trying. It’s evident, unfortunately, when someone is injured. But we’ve done a ton of stuff over the last several years that we need to be proud of and thankful for and appreciative of. But it’s weird how just looking back over time and I never got into a car worried about my safety. And we’ve come a long, long way. We’ve got headrests wrapped around us, and harnesses and six, seven, nine-point harnesses. We’ve got straps going everywhere. We can hardly be comfortable in the cars with so many damn straps down there. But you’ve just got to keep trying, I guess, is the message that we are all learning. We’ve got to keep trying to improve all the time and never really let it plane out; and always keep trying to improve.”

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Could single-car qualifying runs return to restrictor-plate tracks? It's possible

   NASCAR officials confirmed Tuesday that they have not settled on a format for qualifying at the next restrictor-plate race weekend, scheduled May 1-3 at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway.

    A more traditional single-car qualifying format, but run at a much quicker pace, is currently under consideration for the spring Talladega races, multiple sources confirmed to The Charlotte Observer.  

   NASCAR has experienced several problems over the past year adapting its new group qualifying format to restrictor-plate races and used the format for the first time at this year's Daytona 500.

   Since "drafting" at Daytona and Talladega can produce faster speeds, teams have tried to time their appearances on the track together during the different rounds in order to maximize speed. The result has been some wrecks and other teams failing to register a speed during the time limit.

   After the Daytona qualifying event for the Sprint Cup Series, NASCAR made some tweaks to the format for qualifying for the Trucks and Xfinity races - including increasing the number of groups and eliminating waits on pit road - in hopes of preventing some of the issues.     

   Following the Daytona weekend, NASCAR Executive Vice President Steve O'Donnell said the sanctioning body would continue to review the format for future superspeedway events.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Martinsville (Va.) Speedway adding tire barriers for this weekend's NASCAR races

Statement from Martinsville Speedway President Clay Campbell

   MARTINSVILLE, Va. (March 23, 2015) – After a full track evaluation by NASCAR and International Speedway Corporation (ISC), Martinsville Speedway will add to its existing barrier system in advance of the STP 500 weekend March 27-29. Tire pack barriers will be installed on the inside wall at the end of the backstretch, prior to the entrance of pit road.

   “We are committed to the continued safety of the drivers and our fans,” said Clay Campbell, Martinsville Speedway President. “We will continue to collaborate with ISC and NASCAR for additional safety enhancements deemed necessary.”

Sprint Cup Series director Richard Buck addresses late-race cautions for debris at Fontana

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series director Richard Buck addresses the late-race cautions for debris in Sunday's Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway:   
   RICHARD BUCK:  We got multiple reports over the radio and confirmed there was a piece of material, something, in the racing groove.  So we went ahead and called the caution.  By the time we called the caution, somebody hit it. I don't have it back yet, I don't have the piece back yet.  But we always ask the safety and cleanup crews to return that stuff.  But there were multiple reports.  
   We always make our best effort. I mean, safety is number one. We always make our best effort to let it race back. We had well over a mile. The leaders were coming off of (Turn) two. We have multiple people in the tower watching multiple things. We're all communicating very quickly and at a high level. 
   We could see the cars coming off of (Turn) two. We were watching the frontstretch. (Greg) Biffle got it started back up, got it turned around and headed off. We have two folks in the flag stand that were right there on top of it, so we had a bird's eye view from their perspective that there was no debris there and we could let it come back and come back to a natural finish. 
   Q. When you say you had multiple reports, were they from drivers ... 
   RICHARD BUCK:  It's a process during the race. It's pretty consistent. The driver will call it in, then we'll check with our turn spotters. That's heard over the radio, whatever the race control is, with a one or ten, so the teams know in case there is a piece of debris they need to know about for safety reasons. Then we'll confirm it. We've got the pit open and the pit closed folks that are close to that area. We have the caution car. We have spotters on the backstretch and on the entrance to turn three. 
   We'll go through our process quickly and make sure that we have a confirmation that there is debris, if we can identify the debris, where it's at, if it's anywhere in the racing groove. As you know, this place, the racing groove's all the way across. If it's anywhere in the racing groove, we'll have to go to the caution and go get it. 
   Q. Just to confirm so I understand, somebody hit it after it was called in? 
   RICHARD BUCK: Yeah. Well, I don't know. That piece should come back on one of the cleanup trucks because they go out there now. But it was reported multiple times as a piece of metal. 
   Q. One of your officials said they saw something but couldn't tell exactly what it was.  How do you balance trying to find out what it is versus having to throw the caution for safety reasons? 
   RICHARD BUCK:  Safety's number one. If there's any question whatsoever, we'll throw the caution. We want to identify it first, obviously, because there was a lot of paper flying around today, a lot of, you know, paper trash and plastic bags and those kind of things which circulate. But we got definite confirmation on it that it was debris, actually that it was metal. It looked like a piece of metal.
    Q. Obviously you don't have an interest in the race.  I'm sure you might be able to sympathize how much a little thing like that can change the whole course of the race.  Are you cognizant of that when you make those kind of calls? 
   RICHARD BUCK:  No. It's strictly a process that we go through.  You know, we don't have any favorites. We try to keep every emotion out of it. Safety's number one. We have over a hundred years worth of experience in the tower with Mike Helton, Robin Pemberton, David Hoots, myself. Between us we work very closely in a very dynamic way to identify the situation and look for the solution to it, then that solution is backed up by multiple layers. So we feel very, very confident about our actions.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Michael Waltrip Racing statement on Brian Vickers

CORNELIUS, N.C. – Brett Moffitt will drive Michael Waltrip Racing’s No. 55 Toyota in Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif.
The team’s regular driver Brian Vickers informed MWR he has experienced a reoccurrence of blood clots, which will require the 31-year-old driver to begin taking blood-thinning medication and he is not able to race while on the medicine.
“First and foremost our thoughts are with Brian and his family,” said MWR founder and co-owner Michael Waltrip. “He isn’t just our race car driver, he is our friend and we know the NASCAR community will continue to rally around Brian. We are fortunate to have Brett Moffitt in our system and marveled at his great drive in Atlanta three weeks ago, so we know he can get the job done in the No. 55 this weekend. As this news is very fresh and the situation is very fluid, we can only plan for this weekend at this point.”
Vickers missed the season’s first two races recovering from December heart surgery. He finished 15th at Las Vegas and 41st at Phoenix.
“Thankfully, because I recognized the signs and symptoms, the doctors caught this early and I’m going to be ok. I had finished my treatment for the clot I had in my leg back in 2013 and I haven’t needed to be on a blood thinner for a clot in my leg or lung since,” said Vickers. “Now I won’t be able to race because I’ll need to be back on a blood thinner. I’m going to follow doctor’s orders and do everything I need to do to get well.”
“Believe it or not, it’s Blood Clot Awareness Month and I was supposed to be at the track this weekend doing some work with my partners at Janssen focused on getting the word out. I’m disappointed I can’t be there but if there is a silver lining in all of this, hopefully what’s happened to me will help to raise awareness on this important health issue,” said Vickers.
In 60 races driving MWR’s No. 55 Toyota, Vickers scored eight top-five and 19 top-10 finishes. He won the July race at New Hampshire in 2013 and captured the pole at Talladega in October 2014. The 2003 Nationwide champion owns three victories and 12 poles in 318 career Sprint Cup starts.
Moffitt, 22, of Grimes, Iowa, finished eighth at Atlanta on March 1 driving the No. 55. He has also raced twice for Front Row Racing in 2015.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Statement from Talladega Superspeedway on installation of new SAFER barriers

Statement from TSS chairman Grant Lynch

   Following an extensive track review with International Speedway Corporation (ISC), NASCAR and ARCA, Talladega Superspeedway will add SAFER Barrier to its existing barrier system in advance of the May 1-3 NASCAR weekend. The new SAFER barrier will be placed in three locations along the inside wall at entrances to pit road, Turn 1 and Turn 3. Talladega Superspeedway will continue to review its safety initiatives and provide updates as circumstances warrant.

   “We are committed to making Talladega Superspeedway a safe environment for drivers as well as our fans. Safety is our top priority and we will continue to collaborate with ISC, NASCAR and ARCA on any future safety enhancements," Lynch said.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Team Penske's Marcos Ambrose to temporarily step away from V8 Supercars

   Former NASCAR driver Marcos Ambrose has asked to be temporarily relieved as the driver of DJR Team Penske's No. 17 team in Australia V8 Supercars competition saying he needs more time to make an effective transition.

   Scott Pye will take over the driving duties of the No. 17 Ford Falcon beginning with the Tasmania race. 

   "I would like to make it clear that I am fully committed to this team, ” said Ambrose, who won 28 races over five seasons and captured back-to-back V8 Supercars titles in 2003 and 2004. 

   “Although this is a decision which has been hard to make, it has become clear to me over the first two events of the season that I need more experience in these cars to do what is required of the lead driver and to be competitive for the team and our partners."

   Ambrose, who produced a top finish of 12th this season, expects to return to the cockpit this year including serving as co-driver in the 2015 Endurance Series races for the team.

   "Entering the season, Marcos understood that the competition in this series is at a very high level and now realizes that more time is required for this transition," said team co-owner Roger Penske. "This was a difficult decision for Marcos but I appreciate him thinking about the greater good of the team."

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Kurt Busch talks domestic violence with Fox Sports' Chris Myers

   Kurt Busch, who returned to the seat of Stewart-Haas Racing's No. 41 Chevrolet Sunday at Phoenix International Raceway for the first time since his indefinite suspension by NASCAR, sat down with Fox NASCAR Sunday host Chris Myers Sunday to share his thoughts on his suspension, whether he has anger-management issues and other topics. 

    Myers:  There are still people out there who might say, ‘Well, he must have done something.’
   Busch:  “Well, my reply to that would be yes, domestic violence is a serious issue.  The next step is the worst problem with that is when you’re falsely accused of it.  It hurts the real victims.  That’s what I have to say to that.”

   Myers:  There’s a real difference between a personal disagreement versus domestic violence, in your eyes?
   Busch:  “In somebody who has had moments of anger issues, that is one thing when you’re frustrated about a bad finish.  But going to a step to actually hurt a woman or to hurt somebody, that’s not in my realm.  That’s way beyond my reach.”

    Myers:  Do you feel you have anger-management issues?
    Busch:  “I feel like I haven’t handled a lot of the situations in my past to the best of my ability.  As I move forward and as I put things in place, yes, I want to do a better job of coming through this with class and dignity.”

    Myers:  (after reading a statement released by Busch’s ex-girlfriend, Patricia Driscoll, following NASCAR’s reinstatement of Busch).  Your reaction?
     Busch:  “There’s a road to recovery.  I’m following those steps.  I’ve worked with NASCAR through this whole process.  I was led to believe the criminal side would have been where there was a decision made, which is the most important side.  Beyond what the commissioner had to say, the next step is, yes, all these allegations are false.”

    Myers:  Were there some mistakes, if any, you made along the way in this?
    Busch:  One of them is not changing the code to my motorhome door, I mean.  And frankly, choosing the wrong woman to date.  This is a situation that everybody around me and my family has learned from, has been a part of and it’s been not just a tough five months but a tough three-and-a-half years.”

    Myers:  Were you worried about your image, your reputation?
    Busch:  “It’s already taken so many hits and done so many things over the years, that the biggest thing I want moving forward is I want this to be me in that car and not anything else.  Look at the present.  Look at the future.  My signature is above the door.  That’s who I am as a racer.”

   Myers:  You have a fast car here at Phoenix.  It’s a place you have had success before.  Will you be able to focus as much as you always have once you get behind the wheel and race for the win?
    Busch:  “I’ll tell you, I was a little nervous getting in the car Friday and after my first few laps, we were on top of the board and I was like, ‘What do you mean we’re on top of the board? I had no idea I’d be able to get back in the car and go that fast.   I have to do my job now to focus and to be that professional athlete.”

Friday, March 13, 2015

Update on A.J. Foyt's condition: 'I'm looking pretty good'

   A.J. Foyt continues to recover from his triple bypass surgery and subsequent complications at home in Houston. Foyt has been more active since his first return to his IndyCar Series race shop in mid-January. 

   “I’m doing a lot better; every day I’m doing a little bit more,” Foyt said. “I’m getting more of my strength back and I’m eating a better than I was when this first happened. I feel with all of the problems I had I’m looking pretty good. 

   "I’ve been on my bulldozer a couple times. Nothing to brag about, I was very weak and very tired but I have done some stuff with it. I probably should keep that quiet because I’m not sure the doctor would enjoy hearing that.” 

   Foyt, who has lost 50 pounds over the winter, does not expect to make it to a race before May as his current treatment keeps him tied to Houston, but he hasn’t ruled out a day trip. 

   “I may sneak out to a test where I can come and go in the same day. But that’s a call I’ll make based on how I feel that day. I think the new cars look pretty nice," he said. "The engineers are going to have their hands full with all of the trick stuff they came up with on the new aero kit. I’m anxious to hear the feedback from testing.” 

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Patricia Driscoll disagrees with Kurt Busch Chase waiver; intent on "seeking full justice"

Statement from Patricia Driscoll regarding NASCAR's lifting of indefinite suspension of Kurt Busch:

"Even though Kurt remains on indefinite probation under this decision, I’m deeply concerned about the message NASCAR is sending by letting him compete for the championship after he was found by a judge to have committed an act of domestic violence. But I am gratified, at least, that NASCAR’s decision comes with the mandatory condition that he follow through on the treatment he so clearly needs. My work with the Armed Forces Foundation on veteran treatment courts has made me a strong believer in the rehabilitation process. But it has also taught me that rehabilitation takes time and can only come after you’ve taken full responsibility for your actions. Though this continues to be a difficult time for me, I remain committed to standing up for my integrity and seeking full justice."

Chevrolet statement regarding NASCAR driver Kurt Busch

JIM CAMPBELL, Chevrolet vice president of Performance Vehicles and Motorsports

“Now that Kurt Busch has been reinstated by NASCAR and is able to fulfill his obligations associated with our agreement, we have lifted our suspension and will continue to monitor the situation.”

Monday, March 9, 2015

Joey Logano: 'I did a good job of screwing up anytime I could'

   Sprint Cup Series driver Joey Logano had one of the few cars that could keep up with race winner Kevin Harvick early-on during Sunday's Kobalt Tools 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway but by the end of the race he and his No. 22 Team Penske team had fallen out of contention, in part due to a pair of pit road speeding penalties.

   Logano finished 10th and led 47 laps - the second-most of any driver. But he was none-too-easy on himself for Sunday's result.

   "That was a poorly executed race on my behalf. I didn’t do a good job. I did a good job of screwing up anytime I could," Logano said after the race. "The speeding on pit road – I found that. I put us in a hole. Not that we were going to win the race either way because we weren’t fast enough but I maybe cost us two or three positions with what I did. 

   "I don’t know. We have some work to do. I have work to do with myself first and then we have work to do with the car, too.”

Saturday, March 7, 2015

What Erik Jones and Ryan Blaney said about their on-track incident Saturday

  On a restart on Lap 172 of 200 in Saturday's Boyd Gaming 300 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Ryan Blaney and Erik Jones were racing in the top-five for position when Blaney appeared to get loose and got into Jones' No. 18 Toyota. 

   Jones then got loose and looked like he would save the car before it took an abrupt right and into the wall, which was not protected by SAFER barriers. 

   Here is what Jones told Fox Sports 1 after emerging from the infield care center:

   “The 22 (Blaney) just lost it. Obviously not a lot of car control on his end today. Really unfortunate to be taken out that late. Had a strong car, one that I thought could have contended with the 33 (Austin Dillon) for the win," Jones said. "Wish we could have brought them home a better finish. It doesn't take away from our day. We ran up front. Led laps. Had a fast car. The finishes will come. It's a shame that it had to end the way it did.”

   After the race, Blaney - who finished second to Dillon - immediately apologized to his crew and expressed regret for the incident.

  “Yeah, I mean it is a racing incident but you never want to see a wrecked race car and you be a part of it. I know it is a racing deal and you just hate to be in that position," he said. "That is the worst spot to be in, pinned down on the bottom and have someone right on your door. It happens but I don’t like getting into things with people and I hate to see a race car torn up. I hate to see it. I hope he knows I feel bad about it. We have to move on eventually. We will try to do that before tomorrow.” 

Friday, March 6, 2015

Brad Keselowski's crew chief on why the No. 2 team got pulled from the qualifying grid

   Right before the start of Round 1 of Friday's Sprint Cup Series group qualifying at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, NASCAR officials removed Brad Keselowski’s No. 2 Ford from the starting grid and sent it back through inspection.

   An inspector noticed a team member pulling out the fender around the right-rear tire on Keselowski's car. NASCAR announced in the offseason teams would not be allowed to alter side skirts or fenders once cars cleared inspection and reported to the grid.

   "They just wanted to see it pushed in a little bit. I'm not sure (if it was changed)," said Keselowski's crew chief, Paul Wolfe. "The officials were out on the grid after the guys got through inspection to make sure guys don't have their skirts out too far. 

   "They didn't like how wide ours was and we had to come back (through inspection) and push it in and then get on our way."

   Asked if he was expecting any penalties, Wolfe said, "No, I'm not expecting any."

   Keselowski was able to re-pass inspection and still had time to participate in qualifying. He will start 11th Sunday.

Gordon to meet next week with NASCAR over track safety

   Four-time Sprint Cup series champion Jeff Gordon said he has a planned meeting with NASCAR officials next week in Charlotte to discuss the sport’s safety measures, including the progress on expanding the use of energy-absorbing SAFER barriers at tracks.

   “I just reached out to them to discuss some things, that being one of them,” Gordon said. “They have been sharing a lot of information with drivers, a lot more than in the past.”

   Gordon's meeting is scheduled for Tuesday at the research and development center in Concord, N.C.

   Gordon, an outspoken advocate for the use of SAFER barriers at all tracks, was involved in a wreck in last Sunday’s race at Atlanta Motor Speedway and slammed into a wall not covered by protective barriers.

   Cup driver Kyle Busch remains sidelined this season after suffering a broken leg and foot in the season-opening Xfinity Series race at Daytona after hitting an unprotected interior track wall.

   After that race, NASCAR officials vowed to review each track to determine whether additional safety measures can be undertaken. Atlanta brought in additional tire barriers last weekend and Phoenix plans to do the same next weekend.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Statements from Patricia Driscoll and her attorneys on no charges filed

Statement from Patricia Driscoll
    While I respect the process, I am disappointed that full justice was not served here. My family and I take a measure of solace in the Order of Protection From Abuse granted by commissioner Jones, who ruled my account of the facts was the most credible. At great risk to my personal and professional reputation, I have spoken candidly, at length, and on the record, to a variety of outlets in an effort to correct the distortions and sensationalism that have unfortunately marked the coverage of this painful time in my family’s life. I would urge anyone covering this case to stick to the well-established facts. Giving further air to baseless and discredited accusations about me does a disservice to the public and reduces a serious matter for law enforcement into tabloid gossip. In all future developments in this case, I will continue to stand up for my integrity and for justice. But for now, I am focused on my family, my friends, and my important and gratifying work with the Armed Forces Foundation.

Statement from Mark Dycio, attorney for Driscoll
   The decision from the Delaware Attorney General does not deny that the assault occurred, and indicates only that the state’s attorneys lack confidence in their ability to get a criminal conviction. It changes nothing about the established facts of the case. Mr. Busch testified in open court that he squeezed Patricia’s face, and admitted to police that he slammed her head against the wall in the process. Given that these admissions establish an assault took place, and that police recommended Mr. Busch be prosecuted, it seems impossible that the attorney general’s office made this decision on burden of proof grounds. It would be unfortunate, and a terrible precedent for victims of abuse, if the prospect of inviting a media circus fueled by Mr. Busch’s wealth, notoriety, and hostile PR team in any way swayed this decision. We are comforted at least in the knowledge that the judge who did hear the evidence found clear reason to believe Busch committed the assault, and granted the protective order to Patricia and her family. 

   Statement from Carolyn McNiece, attorney for Driscoll
   Patricia and I are very disappointed that Kurt will not be prosecuted for the abusive acts he committed in September. The AG's decision, however, only makes the Order that we received for Protection from Abuse that much more important. As you can see, in some cases, this is the only protection the victim will get. This civil no contact order is a critical tool for protecting victims.

Statement from NASCAR driver Kurt Busch on no criminal charges filed

   Statement from NASCAR driver Kurt Busch

   I am grateful that the prosecutors in Delaware listened, carefully considered the evidence, and after a thorough investigation decided to not file criminal charges against me.  I wish to thank my family, friends, fans, and race team who stood by me throughout this nightmare with their unwavering support.  Thanks also goes to my legal team for making sure that the truth got out and was fully provided to the prosecutors.  As I have said from the beginning, I did not commit domestic abuse.  I look forward to being back in racing as soon as possible and moving on with my life.

   Kurt Busch

Delaware Attorney General: No criminal charges for NASCAR driver Kurt Busch

   Statement from Delaware Department of Justice

   The Delaware Department of Justice has carefully reviewed the complaint made of an alleged act of domestic violence involving Kurt Busch in Dover on September 26, 2014, which was reported to the Dover Police Department on November 5, 2014 and investigated. After a thorough consideration of all of the available information about the case, it is determined that the admissible evidence and available witnesses would likely be insufficient to meet the burden of establishing beyond a reasonable doubt that Mr. Busch committed a crime during the September 26thincident. Likelihood of meeting that high burden of proof is the standard for prosecutors in bringing a case. For this reason, the Department of Justice will not pursue criminal charges in this case.

   Carl Kanefsky
   Public Information Officer
   Delaware Department of Justice

Monday, March 2, 2015

Why Kurt Busch's reinstatement path in NASCAR may not be as easy as it sounds

   While it is true Kurt Busch on Monday agreed to follow NASCAR's recommended guidelines to be eligible for eventual reinstatement, his eligibility for reinstatement may end up being affected by issues outside of his control.

   NASCAR spokesman David Higdon told the Observer the sanctioning body established terms for Busch's possible reinstatement based solely on the facts the sanctioning body has on hands today, in other words on the opinion issued last month of a Kent County (Del.) Family Court commissioner who found Busch committed an act of domestic violence against his ex-girlfriend, Patricia Driscoll, during a confrontation in his motorhome last September.

   Higdon declined to identify the requirements Busch has to meet but said an outside consultant helped design them.

   Even if Busch were to complete all of NASCAR's requirements to its satisfaction, it's still possible Busch could remain indefinitely suspended. That's because the Delaware Attorney General has yet to decide whether to charge Busch criminally for the same incident.

   "Anything from the Attorney General's decision to other information in the days and weeks ahead of course could affect his eligibility for reinstatement," Higdon said.

   So, in effect, Busch remains in suspension limbo because regardless of what Busch does for NASCAR in the coming weeks, the last obstacle to his reinstatement rests in a decision the Delaware Attorney General seems in no hurry to make.