News and Views – Volume 4

For the week of December 5, 2011 – Volume 4

With Champions Week completed, drivers are now back home or on their holiday vacations. Fan4Racing wishes everyone a joyful holiday season as we continue our off-season wait for the new season to begin.But while we’re waiting, fans are encouraged to express your feelings and thoughts within any of our Fan4Racing articles. In this weeks’ News and Views we are encouraging you to tell us your favorite Champions Week moment. There are quite a few to choose from with the drivers enjoying the festivities throughout the week. We won’t soon forget Jeff Gordon break dancing, Dale Jr. finally talking about his “future wife”, or Ryan Newman’s alphabet comments. So while you’re reading the news, consider what stands out for you in recalling the week that was in Las Vegas?

Were you one of the fans in Las Vegas for this week’s activities? Or were you at the Christmas parade in Columbus, Indiana, this weekend honoring their native son Tony Stewart during their annual Festival of Lights Parade? Or perhaps, you are a community volunteer with a passion for the group you support. If so, Fan4Racing would love for you to be a guest blogger and tell us your story. Visit the SUGGESTION BOX tab for contact information to express your interest. Thanks!

Tony Stewart announces 2011 ‘Stewie Award’ winners
A fan favorite event during champions week is Tony Stewart’s ‘Stewie Awards’ announced on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio, late Thursday night at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino with a studio audience. Winners are decided by fans voting for the best, boldest and funniest moments of the NASCAR season. ‘The Stewies’ will be rebroadcast on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio several times over the coming weeks, so check the schedule to catch the fun. Fans can see the event photos and the award winners list on

Of this year’s ‘Stewie Awards’ winners, which is your favorite and why?

Robert Weaver Wins Inaugural Betty Jane France Humanitarian Award
The NASCAR Foundation’s Founder and Chairwoman, Betty Jane France presented the award during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Banquet in Las Vegas. Betty Jane France said, “There was a clear common thread with not only our finalist but every single one of our nominees. All of them had made a significant impact on the lives of children through volunteerism or charitable work during the past five years. There also was another important thread: All of our nominees love NASCAR. The fans have chosen Robert Weaver, a man who really personifies what this award is all about. It is a true honor to announce Robert as our inaugural Betty Jane France Humanitarian Award winner.”

Robert Weaver, an 83-year old Alabama native, is known across the Talladega region as the “Ice Cream Man” because of the many treats he delivers to deaf, blind and multi-disabled students. Weaver said, “I am extremely honored and humbled to have been selected the inaugural recipient of the Betty Jane France Humanitarian Award and thank NASCAR, The NASCAR Foundation and the France family for making this possible. I have often said that I don’t hit home runs; I just do little things. It is the little things that matter so much in people’s lives. As I look back over my own life, working with the children of Alabama Institute for Deaf and Blind, has been part of my calling, it is why I was put on this earth. I encourage everyone to find something they are passionate about and commit to making a difference you’re never too young or old to start.”

Mr. Weaver received an expense-paid trip to the 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champion’s Week in Las Vegas, a 2012 Ford Explorer from Ford and $100,000 from The NASCAR Foundation for the Alabama Institute for the Deaf and Blind Foundation, his children’s charity of choice.

Are you a volunteer in your community? If so, be a guest blogger and tell us about your volunteer experience and why it is your passion.

Brad Keselowski and Crew Chief Paul Wolfe extend with Penske Racing
After a successful season, the combination of Keselowski and Wolfe will continue as Penske Racing announced this week they have agreed to a multi-year contract extension with the duo. Team owner Roger Penske said, “The winning combination of Brad Keselowski and Paul Wolfe has been terrific for Penske Racing and we are excited to announce that they will continue to work together. With one NASCAR championship and numerous wins in both the Nationwide Series and the Cup Series to their credit, this has proven to be a special pairing. Although Brad, Paul and the #2 team fell short of winning the Cup Series title this season, we know they will continue to be championship contenders for years to come.” Working together since 2010, Keselowski and Wolfe have earned six wins and five poles on their path to winning the Nationwide Series championship for Penske Racing. The team also earned a new series single-season record with 26 top-five finishes and completed all but one lap of competition throughout the 2010 season.

Will this pairing be Chase championship contenders again in the 2012 season? Do you think they will out-perform their 2011 fifth-place standing?

Dale Jr. Wins his Ninth Consecutive Most Popular Driver Award
Junior Nation has once again spoken loud and clear, by voting Dale Earnhardt Jr. as the Sprint Cup Series Most Popular Driver for the ninth consecutive year. In the 2011 season, fans submitted 1.5 million votes up to once per day for their favorite driver. Online voting takes place throughout the NASCAR season and the driver receiving the most online votes receives the award at the National Motorsports Press Association Myers Brothers ceremony each year.

This year the award sponsor Wheaties FUEL presented the award to Earnhardt Jr. in Las Vegas. Dale Jr. said, “It’s a big honor. My fans have been real supportive throughout my career. This has been a little bit of a turnaround year from the last couple of years, and we want to keep getting better on the racetrack and give our fans what they expect. We’ve got a lot of momentum going into 2012, and I’m proud to accept this award on behalf of all the fans who voted.”

Bill Elliott holds the record for winning the Most Popular Driver Award 16 times, with 10 consecutive awards. Elliott removed himself from voting after earning his 16th award.

Is there any doubt by anyone that Dale Earnhardt Jr. will one day break this record?

Kurt Busch is seeing a sports psychologist
Reports this week indicate that Kurt Busch driver of the #22 car is now working with a sports psychologist to address his anger issues leading to a $50,000 fine by NASCAR after the Sprint Cup Homestead race finale. With his crew chief, Steve Addington leaving the team and going to Stewart-Haas Racing, Busch is also looking for a new crew chief. Busch says he is looking for someone who will “be able to put me back in my box if I get out of it.” Busch went on to say, “I need somebody that respects what I’ve done but also can control me in a way that is also positive. I need to be a better person on the radio, to the team, as a leader. I’m actually working with a sports psychologist to try to help me work through that.” Busch was asked if his sessions with the sports psychologist dealt with anger issues. His response, “It’s personal, of course. Working with a sports psychologist, I’ve gotten a small grasp, but there’s, obviously bigger things I have to accomplish. Things can’t happen overnight.”

Will working with a sports psychologist during the off season mean fans will see a new Kurt Busch in the 2012 season? Or, will fans still see some anger management issues manifested in the new season?

Kurt Busch & Penske Racing parting ways & Ragan possible replacement
Kurt Busch and Penske Racing have officially announced they are ending their partnership in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. Both issued statements of appreciation for their partnership over the last six years, but have mutually agreed to separate.

Following the announcement, it was also reported that several sources are confirming David Ragan is the anticipated replacement for the Penske Racing team with Shell/Pennzoil being the sponsor. Other names have been mentioned, including David Reutimann, Brian Vickers and Sam Hornish, Jr. however, David Ragan appears to be the top candidate for the open position. While some are reporting that Penske is expected to make an announcement later today making it official, others are indicating an announcement may not be made for several days.

With Kurt Busch without a sponsor or team, this late in the season, do you think he will be with a NASCAR team by the 2012 Daytona 500 green flag? 
If not, where do you think Kurt Busch will be racing in 2012? 
Who do you think will ultimately take the open position with Penske Racing?

Brian Pattie announced as crew chief for Bowyer at MWR
In July, this season Brian Pattie was released as Juan Pablo Montoya’s crew chief.  Announced by Michael Waltrip on Monday, December 5th, Brian Pattie is the new crew chief for Clint Bowyer, who left Richard Childress Racing at the end of the season and is now at Michael Waltrip Racing.

Will this pairing work for the best for all parties involved? Will we see the Bowyer/Pattie team competing for the championship in 2012?

Sprint extends their partnership with NASCAR
Sprint CEO Dan Hesse announced at the Sprint Cup Awards Banquet “…that Sprint and NASCAR have agreed to an extension of our relationship, ensuring that through at least the 2016 season, every Champion crowned will be a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champion.” In their press release, CEO Dan Hesse also said, “NASCAR fans are great customers who reward us with their loyalty, we’re very pleased to continue to have our brand associated with the most competitive and exciting form of racing in the world.”

NASCAR’s chairman and CEO, Brian France said in the same press release, “Sprint has been very successful in using our sport as a platform to enhance its brand and drive their business. They have been a fantastic partner and we are immensely pleased to continue with Sprint as the entitlement partner for our premier series. This new agreement aligns perfectly with our aggressive five-year plan, which is laser-focused on continuing to improve our product, keep our existing fans engaged, and reach new fans.”

What is your reaction to this announcement at the Sprint Cup Awards Banquet?

Your views are always encouraged in response to any of the above news items. And with this volume, we’d like for you to tell us your favorite 2011 Champions Week moment in Las Vegas. 

As always, Thanks for reading and sharing!

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