Thursday, April 24, 2014

Train To Perform At NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race

Prior to the drop of the green flag for the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race on Saturday, May 17, fans can enjoy a performance by GRAMMY Award-winning pop rock group, Train, as part of Time Warner Cable and Fox Sports 1 All-Star Night at Charlotte Motor Speedway.The concert will take place between qualifying and the start of the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race.

The San Francisco-based group has achieved much success since originally forming in 1994, winning three GRAMMY Awards and two Billboard Music Awards. Some of their biggest singles include, “Drops of Jupiter (Tell Me),” “Hey, Soul Sister,” “Calling All Angels,” “Marry Me” and “If It’s Love.” Their sixth studio album “California 37,” released in 2012, produced their latest hits “Drive By” and “Bruises,” featuring country music artist Ashley Monroe.

For just $99, fans interested in taking in an entire weekend of racing can get a NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race weekend ticket package with a frontstretch ticket to the race on Saturday, May 17, plus a ticket to the North Carolina Education Lottery 200 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race and Sprint Showdown on Friday, May 16. The special also includes your choice of a race scanner, a ticket to the NASCAR Hall of Fame or a trackside tram tour of Charlotte Motor Speedway. Tickets can be purchased by calling the speedway ticket office at 1-800-455-FANS (3267) or online at www.charlottemotorspeedway.com.


Connect with Charlotte Motor Speedway by following on Twitter at www.twitter.com/CLTMotorSpdwy or become a Facebook fan at www.facebook.com/charlottemotorspeedway.

Report: NASCAR Set To Announce More Rule Changes

NASCAR's Steve O'Donnell
Major changes are once again on the NASCAR horizon, and sooner than most would have believed.

In comments to the Des Moines Register today, NASCAR senior vice president of racing operations Steve O'Donnell said the sanctioning body will announce significant changes to engines, downforce, aerodynamics and tires, prior to the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 17.

NASCAR has gathered input from drivers, teams, engine builders and manufacturers in recent weeks in an effort to trim 25-100 horsepower from Sprint Cup Series engines in time for the 2015 season. O'Donnell said the sanctioning body met with teams at its Concord, N.C., Research & Development facility this week to update them on the progress of proposed changes to “the whole package.”

Speaking at an Iowa Speedway sponsor summit, O’Donnell said those proposed changes are focused on one goal; bolstering on-track competition. He called racing on NASCAR’s 1.5-mile speedways "better" in 2014, but added, "We've still got work to do. Brian (France) has talked about more and more lead changes (and) that's the end goal.

"If you combine the aero package with that (reduced) horsepower (and) allow some aero changes… going into the corner, drivers have to get off the gas,” O’Donnell said. “Combine that with Goodyear and a little softer tire, now you're able to move around a little bit more."

O’Donnell said Goodyear will play a major role in the 2015 changes, building tires that are softer than those currently being used.


"If you watched last year … 50 laps into a run, 10 laps to go, nobody (pitted) for tires," said O'Donnell. "And if one guy did, it didn't matter. You think, 'Wait a minute, that's not right.' So tires are a big part of this as well, in getting (the package) right."

Cole Whitt Set For BK Racing Debut

As BK Racing embarks on this weekend's Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond International Raceway, the team will have several new additions to the fray, including the addition of Scorpyd Crossbows as a two-race primary sponsor for Richmond and Talladega.

BK Racing's newest driver, Cole Whitt, will drive the No.26 Scorpyd Crossbows Toyota Camry as he competes for Sunoco Rookie of the Year in his debut race under the BK Racing flag. 

Scorpyd Crossbows and Reverse Draw Technology are both creations of Crossbow innovator Jim Kempf and feature product lines such as the Velocity, the Ventilator, the VTEC, and the ORION.  

The Scorpyd Crossbows announcement comes on the heels of Anthony Marlowe's No. 26 Toyota team joining BK Racing as a third entry. Marlowe's operation was merged with BK Racing earlier this week, following the shutdown of Swan Racing. Cole Whitt will remain behind the wheel of the No. 26, with crew chief Randy Cox making the calls from atop the box. 

"I acquired the No. 26 NASCAR Sprint Cup team and merged my ownership with BK Racing," said Anthony Marlowe. "I look forward to being part of Ron Devine's amazing ownership group and vision. Cole Whitt will continue behind the wheel of the No. 26 and is off to the Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond International Raceway this weekend along with our new teammates, Alex Bowman and Ryan Truex." 

"This is truly an exciting day for BK Racing," said team owner Ron Devine. "I am thrilled to continue growing our organization into a top contending NASCAR Sprint Cup Series team. Cole is a very talented driver and Randy as his crew chief make a great combination and I'm excited to have them both in our stable." 

"We are extremely excited to be a sponsor in NASCAR and partner with BK Racing for select races in 2014," said Scorpyd Crossbows President and CEO Jim Kempf.  "I have been a big fan of NASCAR ever since I was a kid, this is a dream come true, and Scorpyd Crossbows has a lot in common with the BK Racing team. Scorpyd Crossbows makes the world's fastest, highest performance crossbows, and we look forward to aligning ourselves with crossbow hunter and NASCAR driver Cole Whitt." 

"I'm really excited to get on the track for BK Racing,” said Whitt. “It was a lot of work this past week with the team swap, but I'm so thankful for the opportunity that Anthony and Ron have given me. Being an avid outdoorsman, it's really cool to represent a brand like Scorpyd. I can't wait to hit the track this weekend in Richmond."

Truex Ready For Richmond Turnaround

Martin Truex Jr. says his Furniture Row Racing team is overdue to show its talent on a short track.

The next opportunity for the Denver-based team to reverse its short track woes comes Saturday night in the Toyota Owners 400 at the 0.75-mile Richmond International Raceway.

“We threw two strong performances and a lot of points out the window in the last two short track races,” said Truex. “We had a couple of things happen to us that knocked us from bringing home solid finishes at both Bristol and Martinsville.”

At the half-mile Bristol Motor Speedway in mid-March, Truex’s Furniture Row/Denver Mattress Chevrolet was 14th and charging in the late stages of the race. But a broken track bar mount sent him to the garage for repairs and an eventual 36th-place finish.

“Our Furniture Row Chevrolet kept on getting better and better at Bristol and I was confident that we had a potential Top-10 performance, before the breakage,” said Truex.

Two weeks later at the half-mile Martinsville Speedway, Truex saw another strong performance go for naught. After taking a couple of hard hits at the crowded flat track, Truex kept plugging through the damage and was moving forward. But a speeding penalty while running in the Top-10 sent him to the rear of the field just past the halfway point. He attempted another late-race charge, but a spin sent relegated him to a disappointing, 21st-place finish.

“Martinsville was just another bad deal,” recalled Truex. “But the finishes we are capable of having are coming, and hopefully it will start this weekend at Richmond. From the way we ran at Bristol and Martinsville, we should be running up front on Saturday night.”

Truex has always had a fondness for the Richmond short track, where he has posted three career Top-10 finishes.


“Richmond is just a fun racetrack to go to and try to get a win,” he said. “Without a doubt, the whole track is difficult. It’s hard to get a car working good there. You have to turn in the center and have forward drive. Finding that balance to get the car rolling in the center and try to take care of that forward bite is something you really have to work on at Richmond.”

Talladega Announces "Big One On The Blvd."

NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers, a moonpie eating contest, BBQ sauce wrestling; these are just a few of the items on the docket for Talladega Superspeedway’s first ever “Big One on the Blvd.,” a Friday night parade celebrating the wild side of the track’s infamous infield. Talladega Blvd. is considered NASCAR’s “Party Capital,” making it the perfect place to kick off the Aaron’s Dream Weekend on May 2-4).
When the parade gets rolling at 6:45 pm CT Friday at the north end of Talladega Blvd., Sprint Cup drivers Clint Bowyer, Kevin Harvick, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Austin Dillon will be atop the lead float throwing out swag and welcoming fans to NASCAR’s version of Mardi Gras. The parade will make its way down the Blvd., building excitement as it passes the most colorfully decorated campsites in NASCAR. At the south end of the Blvd. the parade will come to a halt, and from there the party begins.  
Following a brief driver Q&A with by ESPN NASCAR Analyst Marty Smith, who will be on hand with local radio personalities detailing the storylines of the Aaron’s Dream Weekend, Talladega’s hungriest fans will battle it out in the track’s inaugural Moonpie Eating Contest. Participants will consume as many of the delicious cakes as they can in a few minutes time.
And just as those fans are cleaning the chocolate and marshmallow from their faces, things will get even stickier. In a pit filled with barbecue sauce, Talladega’s bravest fans will have a chance to brawl in the world’s first ever BBQ Sauce Wrestling match. After four rounds of smoky-flavored smackdown, the victors will join the Moonpie Eating Champion on stage to be honored and interviewed. 
“Of all the new additions to this year’s Aaron’s Dream Weekend, ‘The Big One on the Blvd.’ has to be one of the most exciting, because it brings attention to one of the most extraordinary camping areas in the whole sport,” said Talladega Superspeedway Chairman Grant Lynch. “For years, drivers have loved coming out to Talladega Blvd. What better way to start off an event weekend at the biggest and baddest racetrack on the planet, than to hold the craziest parade the sport has ever seen.” 
The craziness continues throughout the Aaron’s Dream Weekend. Saturday, May 3 will go down as one of Talladega Superspeedway’s most eventful days. There will be two races—ARCA’s International Motorsports Hall of Fame 200 (10 am) and the Nationwide Aaron’s 312 (2 pm)—what basically amounts to another race—the all new “Knockout” Sprint Cup qualifying format (12:10 pm)—and the Saturday Night Infield Concert featuring country star Randy Houser and NASCAR favorite Tim Dugger. The main event Aaron’s 499 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race will close out the incredible weekend on Sunday, May 4 at noon. 

The track has ticket options for fans of all ages, as well as hundreds of acres of free Camping. To find out more, call the Talladega ticket office at 1-877-Go-2-DEGA.

What If Yankee Michael Pineda Was A NASCAR Driver?

New York Yankees pitcher Michael Pineda was ejected in the second inning of his start against the rival Boston Red Sox last night, after umpires discovered pine tar smeared across the side of the 25-year old hurler’s neck. 

Pineda’s use of the substance violated Major League Baseball Rule 8.02(b), which states, "The pitcher shall not ... have on his person, or in his possession, any foreign substance."

Pine tar is generally used to improve a pitcher’s grip on the baseball, increasing both velocity and control, especially in cold weather. Pineda is also believed to have used pine tar in his previous outing against Boston, but Red Sox manager John Farrell elected not to press the issue at that time. Wednesday, Pineda’s violation of the rules was so blatant that Farrell had little choice but to point it out to plate umpire Gerry Davis.

Pineda was immediately tossed from the game, and almost certainly faces a hefty fine and suspension from MLB.

What if Pineda were a NASCAR driver, instead of a Major League Baseball pitcher? Past history suggests that things would have gone much differently.

First, Yankee manager Joe Girardi would have exploded from the dugout to defend his pitcher, immediately denying any and all wrongdoing. “It’s not pine tar,” he would insist. “It’s an antihistamine ointment prescribed by our team physician to treat a severe case of poison oak.

“I asked Michael just an inning earlier, `Does your arm itch? Are you sure your arm doesn’t itch? Because if it does, that could impact your control.’

“The ointment was there to ensure the safety of Boston’s batters,” Girardi would claim, “and I cannot image how a league that claims to care about the health and safety of its players could possibly rule against us in this matter.”

When laboratory analysis subsequently proved the offending substance to indeed be pine tar, Girardi would immediately change his story, saying the club purchased 1,200 cases of antihistamine ointment from an aftermarket supplier, but mistakenly received pine tar instead.

“We cannot be responsible to testing every single tube of antihistamine ointment,” he would huff. “This is a manufacturer issue that we should not be held responsible for.”

Pitching coach Larry Rothschild would claim that even though pine tar was present, it provided Pineda with “no significant competitive advantage.

“It was just a tiny little smudge,” Rothschild would howl, with indignation. “By our estimation, it was less than an ounce of pine tar, and our experts all agree that it would have taken at least three quarts of pine tar to make any real difference in the effectiveness of his anemic curve ball.”

General Brian Cashman would then follow with a tersely-worded press release, claiming the pine tar had been applied by an unnamed equipment manager without the knowledge, consent or approval of the Yankees’ front office.

"However," Cashman would say, "We stand behind him 100%"


Photos: Jared Wickerham/Getty Images North America, ESPN

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

BREAKING NEWS: Swan Racing Announces Ownership Shuffle

Swan Racing's Brandon Davis
Swan Racing announced today that it has successfully restructured the company by finding solutions for the Nos. 26 and 30 teams in an attempt to save the jobs of the crews, the drivers, and to keep those teams competing throughout the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. 

As a result, Anthony Marlowe has merged his ownership of the No. 26 team into BK Racing, effective immediately. Cole Whitt will remain behind the wheel of the No. 26.

The No. 30 team has been sold to John Cohen of XxxTreme Motorsports, who will operate the team going forward with veteran driver J.J. Yeley. Stephen “Bones” Lane will serve as crew chief, joined by several other former Swan Racing crewmembers. 

Driver Parker Kligerman remains under contract with Swan Racing, which will seek to identify options for him to get back on track.  

Team owner Brandon Davis commented on the move, saying, “I want to first thank our employees, fans, and others in the NASCAR industry for their patience and understanding over the past several days while we work out the future of Swan Racing. 

“As previously stated, the team is restructuring due to a lack of additional funding.  However, over the past couple weeks, we worked tirelessly to find an alternative to ending operations. Fortunately, we were able to find a home for the No. 26 team and the No. 30 team, thanks to Anthony Marlowe and Jonathan Cohen respectively. 

Anthony Marlowe
“Anthony and Jonathan are both young and ambitious NASCAR enthusiasts.  It is important to keep them in the sport for the long term.  I am very relieved to know that the Nos. 26 and 30 teams will be in good hands and will continue to compete the remainder of the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season.  Most importantly, most of the team members have the opportunity to continue their employment in the sport and to support their families.  This was critically important to me. 

“Swan Racing is exploring any and all options to keep Parker Kligerman on track throughout the season.  We are encouraged by the response we have received from interested parties. Parker continues to be one of the most talented young drivers in NASCAR. He brought this racing team one of its strongest results in his first race with us, and we are certain of his success in the future.
  
“We will provide updates as new information and facts are established.” 

“I respect Brandon Davis and everything he has done for the Swan Racing Company,” said Marlowe today.  “Looking forward, my mission is to ensure Cole Whitt races in every NASCAR Sprint Cup event this season. I am thrilled about the No. 26 team merger with my new partners at BK Racing. My friend Ron Devine and the BK Ownership group really stepped up to enable me to keep the No. 26 on the track. Cole and Randy are off to an auspicious start in 2014 for a new Cup Team and we are gearing up for Richmond. In addition to the No. 26 team’s performance so far this year, the new ‘win and you’re in’ system and qualifying rules were motivating and positive factors in my continued investment in NASCAR."

“I’ve always had a good relationship with Brandon and always said if we can help each other or work together when the time is right that we should do it,” said Cohen.  

“I’m grateful for the opportunity Anthony Marlowe is giving me to continue the NASCAR Sprint Cup season,” said Whitt. “I want to thank Brandon Davis and everyone at Swan Racing for the opportunity they gave me to race for the team.”


“Although it's unfortunate we are having to scale back, I look forward to the future and the exciting things that I'm confident we will accomplish at Swan Racing or with another team,” said Kligerman.  “I value the relationship that I've had with Brandon Davis and am very grateful for him giving me an opportunity to compete in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.  Whether I continue to race with Brandon and Swan Racing or end up with another team, I will always give it my all on and off track to be the best I can be.”  

Bubba Wallace To Run Nationwide At Talladega

Darrell Wallace, Jr. will make his first NASCAR Nationwide Series start of the 2014 season at Talladega Superspeedway on Saturday, May 3, driving the No. 20 ToyotaCare Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing.  The start will mark the 20-year-old’s fifth-career start in the series.

“We’re excited to be able to provide this opportunity for Darrell in Talladega,” said J.D. Gibbs, president of Joe Gibbs Racing. “He has been doing a great job in the truck series with his KBM team and we want to make sure he continues to gain experience in our Nationwide Series cars as well.”

In his previous four starts in the Nationwide Series, Wallace earned one pole (Dover International Speedway) and three top-10 finishes in 2011. His worst finish in those four starts is 12th at Dover after contact on the last restart late in the race took him out of contention for a top finish. 

“It’s good to be back behind the wheel of a Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing in the Nationwide Series,” said Wallace. “I’m excited to work with Kevin Kidd and all the guys on this Nationwide Series team. I know they have a good Toyota Camry and Matt (Kenseth) has been running it all season long and posted good finishes. Hopefully we can go out there, stay out of harm’s way and add to that by posting a good, strong finish at Talladega for the No. 20 ToyotaCare team.”

Wallace currently competes full time in the No. 54 Toyota Tundra for Kyle Busch Motorsports (KBM) where after two races this season, he has one second-place finish and is eighth in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) point standings.

In his only start at Talladega Superspeedway during the 2013 NCWTS season, Wallace started the race in his No. 54 Toyota Tundra from the 10th position and was poised for a solid finish before being caught in the ‘Big One’ on the final lap exiting turn four. Wallace took the white flag from the fifth position, but once the dust settled from the last lap incident, he was credited with a 17th-place finish. 


Wallace joins Matt Kenseth and Daniel Suarez, who is set to make his series debut at Richmond International Raceway on April 25, as drivers of the No. 20 JGR Toyota in the NASCAR Nationwide Series.

Escalators Going In At Daytona International Speedway

DAYTONA Rising, the $400 million frontstretch renovation project at Daytona International Speedway, reached an important milestone on Wednesday morning as the escalator installation process began.  
The first escalator was raised and installed on the West end of the frontstretch. The new frontstretch grandstands will feature 40 escalators, which tops the nation in the number of stadium escalators. 

“Having the escalator installation process begin is another important milestone in the DAYTONA Rising project,” Daytona International Speedway President Joie Chitwood III said. “Vertical transportation is a key ingredient in this massive project and the escalators will help guests easily navigate the new venue so they can enjoy all the new amenities.” 

Watkins Glen Expands Camping Options

Every year, reserved camping for the Cheez-It 355 and Zippo 200 at Watkins Glen International sells out, prompting track officials to expand their offerings. This year, WGI has announced the expansion of Pit Road RV Camping.

“We look to continuously improve the fan experience and enhance tradition,” said Michael Printup, president of Watkins Glen International. “Camping onsite has always been a fan favorite and expanding Pit Road Camping is something we have been considering for a couple of years. We are thrilled to offer this to our fans this season.” 

After selling out in 2013, the expansion of the coveted Pit Road RV camping provides fans with the opportunity to camp on the infield of Watkins Glen International during the Cheez-It 355 at The Glen. Located behind the Pit Terrance Grandstands, spots in this area are available with 50 amp electrical and water hook-ups for $1,315. Tents are not permitted. The weekend price is at a premium as Pit Road camping is the only paved campsite area available and in a prime location. Campers looking to enhance their Pit Road camping experience can also opt for the Pit Road RV Camping package which includes the typical Pit Road RV Camping amenities as well as four Pit Terrace Grandstand seats, four FanVision rentals, and four Sunday Fan Walk passes for $1,995. 

In addition to the newly expanded Pit Road RV Camping, Family Camping is still available and is highly recommended for guests with families who are interested in staying at The Glen and appreciate a quieter experience. Quiet hours are strictly enforced in this area to ensure a family friendly environment. Launched in 2011 and located outside the track, the Family Camping area has sold out each season for the Cheez-It 355 at The Glen and continues to grow in popularity. Spots in this area can be reserved for $350 and do not have electric or water hook-ups. 


Mark your calendars for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series weekend at The Glen August 7 - 10. Start the weekend with NASCAR K&N Pro Series East race Friday, August 8, followed by the NASCAR Nationwide Series Zippo 200 Saturday, August 9, and NASCAR Sprint Cup Cheez-It™ 355 at The Glen Sunday, August 10. The Shop is open Monday-Friday 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. Tickets are also available by calling 866.461.RACE and online at www.TheGlen.com

Laukes Named To TRD Board Of Directors

Ed Laukes, vice president of marketing, performance and guest experience at Toyota Motor Sales USA, Inc., has been named to the Toyota Racing Development USA board of directors.

Laukes is widely acknowledged to have been the driving force behind Toyota’s support of NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Kyle Busch and his Kyle Busch Motorsports Nationwide and Camping World Truck Series teams. Most recently, he was responsible for managing advertising for all Toyota cars, trucks and sport utility vehicles, as well as motorsports public relations and marketing operations. He will continue to oversee the company’s motorsports activities, including strategy, research, sponsorship, advertising and merchandising activation.

“This change will better align our technical racing programs directly to the marketing department and their various initiatives,” said Bob Carter, TMS senior vice president of automotive operations. 

“We have a great group of TRD associates in Costa Mesa (Calif.) and Salisbury (N.C.), and the entire organization does an outstanding job of working together with all our race team partners,” said Laukes.  “We look forward to continued success with our many motorsports activities and earning more accolades in NASCAR, NHRA and other racing series.”

Since joining Toyota in 1989, Laukes has held various positions in both the Lexus and Toyota divisions.  He first served as district service and parts manager for the Lexus Central Area and held a variety of additional management positions in the field.  Subsequently, he held the positions of sales and production planning manager and sales administration manager at TMS headquarters in Torrance, Calif.

In 1998, Laukes was promoted to assistant general manager and later became general manager for the Lexus Southern area.  In that role, he was responsible for directing sales, service, parts, marketing and customer relations activities for the area.  Laukes also served as general manager for the Toyota New York region.
Under his guidance, Toyota and TRD have won the 2003 Indianapolis 500 with Gil de Ferran; recoded multiple victories in the Daytona 24 Hours and the 12 Hours of Sebring endurance races; won the Pikes Peak Hill Climb, Baja 500 and the Baja 1000. Toyota has also earned manufacturer’s and driver’s championships in the Indy Racing League, NHRA, Grand-Am, CART, IMSA, SCORE, USAC, MTEG, CORR, TORC and LOORRS.  In stock car competition, Toyota has earned six NASCAR Camping World Truck Series manufacturer’s championships (2006-2010 and 2013) and three consecutive Nationwide Series manufacturer’s titles (2008-2010).


As part of the change, David Wilson, president and general manager of TRD, will now report directly to Laukes. 

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Daniel Suarez To Make JGR Nationwide Debut

Add caption
Daniel Suarez will make his NASCAR Nationwide Series debut at Richmond International Raceway on Friday, driving the No. 20 Silent Circle/Telcel Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing.  
Suarez is a part of the NASCAR Drive 4 Diversity program, as well as an alumnus of the NASCAR Next program. He is currently running a full season in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East for Rev Racing and the NASCAR Toyota Series in Mexico.  He opened this season with wins at New Smyrna Speedway (FL.) and Daytona International Speedway in February, and is currently second in points following the first four races of the 2014 NASCAR K&N Series East season. He also has two wins in the first three races of the 2014 NASCAR Toyota Series season and currently leads the point standings.   
“I’m excited for the opportunity to make my NASCAR Nationwide Series debut,” said Suarez. “I want to thank Telcel and Silent Circle for believing in me and making this a reality. I can’t wait for Friday night in Richmond.” 
Suarez made his K&N Pro Series debut in 2011 competing in seven of 12 races while also competing full time in the NASCAR Toyota Series. He returned to the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East to run nine of 12 races in 2012. His first East Series’ win came last season at Columbus Motor Speedway (Columbus, Ohio) and he went on to  finish the 2013 season with six top-five and nine top-10 finishes in 14 races to earn third place in the final point standings.  
While making his mark on the NASCAR K&N East Series, Suarez continued to run full time in the NASCAR Toyota Series in Mexico after earning Rookie of the Year honors in 2010 with one top-five and four to-10 finishes. During the 2011 season, Suarez earned seven top-10 finishes to secure ninth place in the final point standings. He finished the 2012 season third in points with two wins and topped his success the next season finishing second in the final point standings with three wins. 
“Daniel is certainly someone that has proven to have a lot of talent and we are thrilled this was able to come together and allow him to make his debut at Richmond,” said J.D. Gibbs. “I think it’s exciting when you look at the young talent our sport has right now and we certainly feel that Daniel is going to be part of the future for NASCAR.”  

It will be a busy weekend for Suarez, who will pull double duty at Richmond International Raceway competing in the K&N Pro Series East race immediately following the Nationwide Series race on Friday night. He will then drive back to Charlotte to board a plane to Monterrey, Mexico to compete in the NASCAR Toyota Series, hoping to make practice on Saturday afternoon before competing in the race on Sunday afternoon. 

Patrick To Award Coca-Cola Zero Tailgate Championship Trophy At Talladega

The new Talladega Superspeedway tradition of the Coca-Cola Zero Tailgate Championship on world famous Talladega Boulevard will continue during Aaron’s Dream Weekend (May 2-4), and NASCAR driver Danica Patrick will once again present the coveted winner’s trophy. 

One year ago Patrick, driver of the No. 10 GoDaddy Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing, walked Talladega Boulevard – the infamous strip of land in Talladega’s infield known as NASCAR’s “Party Capital” – and handed out the first ever Coca-Cola Zero Tailgate Champion trophy to the best decorated campsite.

On Saturday, May 3, Patrick will once again take to The Boulevard to check out the campsites, meet fans and make the 2014 trophy presentation. 

“There’s no place on the NASCAR circuit quite like Talladega Boulevard,” says Patrick. “It has a fun, party atmosphere, and it’s easy to see the passion these fans have for NASCAR and Talladega when you take a walk down The Boulevard. 

“Getting to pick my favorite tailgate at Talladega last year, thanks to Coca-Cola Zero, was pretty cool, and I’m looking forward to seeing what the fans can come up with this year to impress me. There’s an abundance of creativity out there. And for me, it’s fun spending time with the fans and getting to check out where they party. I’m ready for the second annual Coca-Cola Zero Tailgate Championship at Talladega Superspeedway. I hope the fans are, too.” 

The most notorious strip of real estate in the sport, Talladega Boulevard, has been a mainstay in NASCAR circles since the track was built in 1969. Its Mardi Gras-type atmosphere, complete with beads and shenanigans, is a NASCAR tradition that separates Talladega from other venues. The colorful creativity on display in all the tents, RVs, trucks and trailers on Talladega Boulevard is a much-anticipated part of any Talladega race weekend. 

“We love the passion Danica has for our fans on Talladega Boulevard,” says Talladega Chairman Grant Lynch. “She continues to take a tremendous liking to what the Boulevard is all about, and we can’t thank her enough. We encourage our fans to really dress up their area and get ready for a party. The Coca-Cola Zero Tailgate Champion trophy presentation is now a tradition and part of the lure of Talladega.” 

The naming of the Coca-Cola Zero Tailgate Champion is not the only thing happening on Saturday of the Aaron’s Dream Weekend. The day will kick off at 10 am with the ARCA Racing Series International Motorsports Hall of Fame 200, followed by “Knockout” group qualifying for the Aaron’s 499 NASCAR Sprint Cup race, and the Aaron’s 312 NASCAR Nationwide Series event. The day will end with Talladega’s legendary infield concert, featuring country star Randy Houser, which fans can attend with a Sunday grandstand ticket.  


Tickets are available at www.talladegasuperspeedway.com or by calling 877-Go2-DEGA.  

Timothy Peters Added To Denny Hamlin Shootout Field

Timothy Peters, driver of Red Horse Racing's No. 17 Toyota Tundra in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, will return to his Late Model roots and compete in the seventh annual Denny Hamlin Short Track Showdown on Thursday, April 24 at South Boston (Va.) Speedway. The veteran driver will be behind the wheel of the No. 17 Autos by Nelson Toyota Camry at a track where he's found much success. The team will be led by Marcus Richmond, Peter's childhood best friend, and his current crew chief in the Truck Series. The duo won the Track Championship at South Boston Speedway in 2004, and multiple races at the South Boston, Va. race track since then. 

"The (Short Track) Showdown should be a lot of fun." said Peters. "I love that it's at South Boston Speedway this year because it's a home track for me. I'm really looking forward to racing the No. 17 Autos by Nelson Camry. Marcus (Richmond) designed it just for this event so it should be good!" 
The Late Model that Peters will be driving was custom designed for short track racing by crew chief Marcus Richmond, and built by local company A&E Race Cars, owned by Allen and Earl Rice. 
"Everyone that competes [in the Short Track Showdown] puts a lot of time and effort into the race," said Richmond "Not only is it a fun race because of all the different drivers who show up to race, but it also supports a great cause."  
The Denny Hamlin Short Track Showdown began in 2008 at Southside Speedway, a local short track near Hamlin's hometown of Chesterfield, Va., outside of Richmond, before moving to Richmond International Raceway in 2011. For its seventh year in 2014, the race moves just over 100 miles to the southeast of Richmond to another short track with a long history in stock car racing, South Boston Speedway. 
The celebrity Late Model race features a collection of NASCAR veterans and local Late Model stars racing for bragging rights and to raise awareness and funding for the Denny Hamlin Foundation, which supports the Cystic Fibrosis Research Lab at The Children's Hospital of Richmond at VCU. 
Advance tickets to the Short Track Showdown are available by calling the track ticket hotline at 1-877-440-1540. General admission is $20 Advance/$25 Race Day for Adult; $10 Advance/$15 Race Day for Youth (ages 12-17); and Free for Children ages 11 and under (with an Adult ticket purchase). Season passes are not honored for this special event. 
Peters currently leads the championship point standings in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, which returns to action at Kansas Speedway on Friday, May 9.

Austin Theriault Inks Three-Race JRM Nationwide Deal

Austin Theriault will make his NASCAR Nationwide Series debut later this season as part of a three-race deal with JR Motorsports and its No. 5 Chevrolet. 

Theriault, a 20-year old Late Model racer from Fort Kent, Maine, will make his debut on May 18 at Iowa Speedway, driving JRM’s No. 5 Chevrolet with primary sponsorship from SPY Eyewear. The upper-rear quarter-panels of the car will carry the logo of Dirty Mo Radio, the internet home for Dale Earnhardt Jr.-related podcasts throughout the NASCAR season. 

“SPY is happy to offer continued support to the JR Motorsports team and be a part of the exciting Nationwide Series debut of Austin Theriault,” said Michael Marckx, SPY CEO and president. “On the heels of our commitment to Dirty Mo Radio, this is only the beginning of the excitement SPY looks to bring to NASCAR, and we’re happy to do it with JR Motorsports. 

Nationwide Series races at New Hampshire Motor Speedway (July 12) and Kentucky Speedway (Sept. 20) will fill out Theriault’s three-race schedule.  

“Our company is known for putting young talent in cars and giving them a shot on one of NASCAR’s biggest stages, and that is what we are giving Austin with this three-race opportunity,” said Kelley Earnhardt Miller, general manager of JR Motorsports. “This keeps our No. 5 car on the track, and it gives Austin the chance to show what he’s got with a lot more eyeballs taking notice.” 

Theriault was the 2012 Maine Vintage Race Car Association’s Driver of the Year and he made his NASCAR K&N Pro Series debut after winning “Maine Young Guns” inaugural competition in 2012. He also became a part-time developmental driver for Brad Keselowski Racing that season. 

In 2013, Theriault won three Super Late Model race son the Pro All Star (PASS) Series, including the Rumble in the Pines at Southern National Motorsports Park, the South Carolina Clash at Dillon Motor Speedway, and the PASS 400 Championship Race at Beech Ridge Motor Speedway. He finished the season with three wins and eight Top-10 finishes in 25 starts. 

“I am excited to be continuing my professional development with JR Motorsports in the Nationwide Series,” Theriault said. “I have been working hard for this opportunity, and to be associated with JR Motorsports and SPY is a dream come true.” 

SPY is the presenting sponsor for two of Dirty Mo Radio’s weekly programs—The Monday Recap and The Dale Jr. Download. Dirty Mo Radio is housed at DaleJr.com but also available free of charge on iTunes, TuneIn Radio and other major podcasting outlets. 

Through seven races, the No. 5 team ranks fourth in the Nationwide Series owner standings on the strength of five top-five finishes, led by drivers Earnhardt Jr. and Kevin Harvick.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Keselowski Recalls Sting Of Hendrick Rejection

A little-known 2012 interview with former NASCAR Sprint Series champion Brad Keselowski resurfaced last week, shedding light on just how close the Michigan native came to being a Hendrick Motorsports Sprint Cup driver and how disappointed he was when that opportunity escaped him.

In episode of the syndicated show “In Depth with Graham Bensinger” that re-aired last week, Keselowski spoke candidly about team-owner Rick Hendrick’s decision to keep veteran Mark Martin in his No. 5 Sprint Cup Series Chevrolet for 2010, despite previously promising the ride to Keselowski.
Keselowski spoke about a meeting with rival team owner Roger Penske two years earlier, intended to gauge his interest in joining Penske Racing.
“He wanted to know what my situation was,” recalled Keselowski. “I knew I wanted to do the Hendrick (deal) and go for that. But this is Roger Penske! How can I say `no’ to a chance to meet him? So I met him in a Conference Room in 2008. I sat in that office and he talked to me. I just wanted to hear him talk. I didn’t know what he (would have) to say.
“At the end, he asked me a very simple question. ‘Are you interested?’ I told him I’m a loyal guy (and) I’ve already made another commitment (to Hendrick).
“I had agreed to race for Rick Hendrick,” said Keselowski. “He had just signed Mark Martin, and I was ready in the wings, so to speak. I wasn’t just ready (in terms of) the sport, I was ready mentally. But obviously, it didn’t play out.”  
Keselowski and Hendrick in happier times
Hendrick spoke openly at the time of keeping Keselowski close at hand, saying, “We're looking at different options… external situations with other teams” like Stewart Haas Racing and Phoenix Racing, in addition to a full-time return to the JR Motorsports Nationwide operation. “He wants to do something associated with our company and we're working on it,” said Hendrick. “He'll be running Cup (in 2009). Whether he'll be running them all or 75 percent of them or what, I don't know."
Keselowski chose to remain with JR Motorsports in 2009, believing he would replace struggling Casey Mears at the wheel of Hendrick’s No. 5 Sprint Cup Series Chevrolet the following season. He made 12 Sprint Cup starts with HMS and Phoenix Racing that season, but realized early in the season that his promised ride might not be his, after all.
“As soon as Mark Martin won (at Phoenix in April of 2009), I knew what it meant,” he recalled. “As soon as he won that race, I knew I wasn’t going to get the ride at Hendrick Motorsports in 2010: the one essentially we’d talked about and I’d been promised.”
One week later, Keselowski took car-owner James Finch to Victory Lane at Talladega Superspeedway. “I was driving with a chip on my shoulder, trying to put (the rejection) in the background,” he said. And while he initially hoped the victory would be enough to retain his promised spot in the Hendrick stable, Keselowski soon received a telephone call from the HMS owner.
“I know what (the call) was, but I didn’t want to believe it,” he recalled. “As soon as he won Phoenix, (Martin) walked up to Mr. Hendrick and said he wanted to drive the car for the next year or two. Which essentially (meant) there was no spot for me.”
Martin proved difficult to ignore, teaming with crew chief Alan Gustafson to win five times during that decisive 2009 season. It was a fairytale matchup, and given the choice between an established veteran and a largely unproven rookie, Hendrick elected to retain the hot hand.
Asked if he felt betrayed by the decision, Keselowski said, “I never really thought of it as betrayal. (Or) maybe I did, I don’t know.
“I was more heartbroken… chippy. Maybe that’s something that comes from a sense of betrayal, but that’s a strong word. I would say it definitely added fuel to the fire of who I am and my desire to be the best.”