News and Views – Volume 10 January 24 – 29, 2012

News and Views – Volume 10
For the week of January 24 – 29, 2012

This week’s News and Views brings a new feature to Fan4Racing, with the introduction to Today’s News and Views.  Because there is so much news coming out daily, the weekly consolidation of news had become so much bigger.  With the daily News and Views feature – with the blue logo-  Fan4Racing readers can now catch up on the daily news as it breaks and the feature will be updated throughout the day. The weekly News and Views feature will continue to be updated as well and can be identified with the green logo.   

Now let’s begin with the latest news…

Logano also seeing sports psychologist
Since last season, JGR driver #20-Joey Logano has been seeing sports psychologist Bob Rotella, who also began working with Hamlin last year.  “I was against it at first, thinking, ‘I don’t need a shrink,’” Logano said.  “But it’s not about that, its confidence.  It’s not that you’re screwed up in the head.  It’s not like you’re a weirdo.  I think it’s good for anybody.  I have a whole new outlook.  I’d recommend it to anybody.”

From USA Today
SPEED Annouces changes to NASCAR programs
Several NASCAR on SPEED programs take fresh approaches in 2012, with the network’s longest-running NASCAR program, Trackside, frequently splitting into two 30-minute editions, one on Friday evenings and the second on Saturday.  Krista Voda hosts with Kyle Petty, Rutledge Wood and Marianela Pereyra all returning to the show.  NASCAR Race Day, which saw huge audience increases during last season’s 10-race NASCAR Chase for the Championship, returns with John Roberts as host, Petty, Kenny Wallace and Larry McReynolds providing analysis and Wendy Venturini, Wood and Matt Clark – replacing Hermie Sadler – reporting from the garage. Trotta adds to her responsibilities for 2012, taking on a host role for the popular tech show NASCAR Performance, working with McReynolds, Jeff Hammond and Chad Knaus from SPEED’s Charlotte based studio.  Wind Tunnel with Dave Despain, rolling into its tenth season on SPEED, gets a prime time television look, and the popular post-race show, NASCAR Victory Lane, also takes a new slant, immediately following NASCAR Sprint Cup series races with a second airing in prime time. 


Kyle Busch says he’s learned from mistakes
Kyle Busch has learned from the mistakes he made last season and ready to make a fresh go of it in 2012.  Busch said during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Media Tour he knows he can’t continue to display the kinds of emotional actions that led to so much controversy – and trouble – last year.  “I’ve got fans all the time that tell me they don’t want to see me change,” Busch said. “I’ve tried to keep that, but ultimately, it’s not going to work. If you keep getting in trouble, you’re not going to be here very long. I’m trying to change something.” Although Joe Gibbs Racing management hasn’t officially commented on Busch’s limited Nationwide series schedule this season, which will see time spent in both a Kyle Busch Motorsports entry as well as a JGR ride but not truck series starts, it is speculated sponsor M&M’s also had a say in the decision.  Busch insists he has support from his race team, sponsors and most importantly his family and friends that have helped him work through the situation and concentrate on moving ahead in his life both professionally and personally. 

Appeals court to listen to Mayfield in drug case
A federal appeals panel in Virginia is set to hear arguments in former stock-car driver Jeremy Mayfield’s lawsuit against NASCAR over his suspension for failing a random drug test.  Mayfield is asking the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to reinstate his lawsuit. A federal judge dismissed the suit, ruling that Mayfield signed documents that waived his right to sue. NASCAR suspended Mayfield in 2009 after he failed a drug test at Richmond International Raceway. He sued NASCAR, its owner and the drug testing company for defamation, unfair and deceptive trade practices, breach of contract and negligence. Mayfield has argued that a combination of over-the-counter allergy medication and the prescription drug Adderall led to a positive test. In November, Mayfield was arrested in North Carolina and charged with possessing methamphetamine.

Stewart to run Daytona Nationwide race
Tony Stewart will attempt to win his seventh NASCAR Nationwide series race on the high banks of Daytona International Speedway on February 25. This year Stewart will drive the #33 Oreo 100th Anniversary Chevy fielded by Richard Childress Racing. Stewart has won the last four NASCAR Nationwide season openers at Daytona and hopes to add a fifth-straight victory next month.

From CMS Media Tour Notes

NASCAR’s Tharp honored
Kerry Tharp, NASCAR senior director of competition communications, won the Ken Patterson Helping Others Award during the 2012 National Motorsports Press Association (NMPA) Convention at the Embassy Suites in Concord, NC. The prestigious award, named after the former director of public relations for Talladega Superspeedway, recognizes a public relations representative in the motorsports industry who has “exhibited the kind, generous qualities that Patterson always demonstrated.”  Affectionately and appropriately nicknamed the “Commander,” Tharp leads all competition communications efforts for the NASCAR Integrated Marketing Communications department.  Tharp joined NASCAR in 2005 after a twenty-year tenure as sports information director at the University of South Carolina.

“Kerry is a great communications professional, but more importantly he is a great human being and that is reflected in this award,” said Brett Jewkes, NASCAR vice president and chief communications officer. “He loves our sport and the people in our industry and it shows in everything he does.  We’re very proud of Kerry and grateful to the NMPA for honoring him with this prestigious award.” Sports, has forever fueled Tharp’s passion and career. For twenty-six years, Tharp worked in collegiate athletics, starting in the sports information department at his alma mater, Western Kentucky University before moving to graduate school at the University of Tennessee.  Following UT, Tharp worked for the University of Oklahoma for four years before moving to South Carolina.
Tharp joined NASCAR as director for the sanctioning body’s licensing office in Charlotte in April of 2005. In February of 2006, he moved to his current role as head of competition communications, based out of NASCAR’s Research and Development Center in Concord, NC. Tharp was promoted to his current title of senior director in October of 2010. 

From NASCAR    

No Sponsorship Available at Earnhardt Ganassi
At a time when many NASCAR teams are scrambling to find sponsorship, Earnhardt Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates has no primary sponsorship available for the 2012 Sprint Cup series season.  Team-owner Chip Ganassi congratulated his sales staff as the team’s key members met the media to open day two of the NASCAR Sprint Cup series Media Tour presented by Charlotte Motor Speedway.  The sold-out sign came after the announcement the team has added Belkin, LiftMaster and Banana Boat to its list of sponsors with each taking the primary sponsorship role on Jamie McMurray’s #1 Chevy for one race, while serving as associate sponsors throughout the season.

Chip Ganassi Racing Teams (CGRT) announced that Banana Boat sun care will take on the sun and the speedway for a new partnership. Banana Boat sun care will sponsor the #1 Chevy of Earnhardt Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates and the 2010 Daytona 500 winner Jamie McMurray during the 2012 season. As part of the partnership, Banana Boat sun care will host fan experiences trackside at key races including the Daytona 500, Talladega Superspeedway and others. The sunscreen brand will provide fans with a break from the sun, offering quick relief and sun protection in its CoolZone Pit Stop. Here, fans will have the opportunity to receive a “cool-over” with the new sunscreen, play games and receive fun giveaway items.

From Banana Boat and EGR
Earnhardt Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates and LiftMaster, the number one brand of professionally installed garage doors, announced that LiftMaster will be the primary sponsor on the #1 Chevy driven by Jamie McMurray at the September 23 NASCAR Sprint Cup series race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

From EGR
Bayne may only run Nationwide part-time
Trevor Bayne has a Daytona 500 championship ring, an electric smile, and a bright future in NASCAR’s national divisions. What he doesn’t have right now, though, is a full-time ride in the Nationwide series for 2012. The Roush Fenway driver confirmed his #16 team doesn’t currently have the funding to race full-time on the Nationwide tour, a fact that may limit him to only a partial schedule this season. Bayne, who turns 21 next month, won a race at Texas Motor Speedway last year and finished eleventh in final points despite missing five events because of what he believes was Lyme disease. He would be viewed as a strong contender to challenge teammate Ricky Stenhouse Jr. for the championship this season, but that would require competing in all thirty-three races. And despite winning the Nationwide title last season, Stenhouse does not have full-season sponsorship, although he said the #6 car will run the entire slate with some help from manufacturer Ford.  Bayne said he had not yet decided on whether to compete for championship points in Nationwide or Sprint Cup – under a NASCAR rule enacted last year, drivers must choose one – and would likely wait as long as possible to do so. Bayne’s absence would further shake up a 2012 Nationwide championship race that’s already lost two potential top-ten cars in the shutdown of Rusty Wallace Racing, seen fourth-place finisher Aric Almirola land a Sprint Cup ride at Richard Petty Motorsports, and sixth-place finisher Jason Leffler move to Kyle Busch’s truck. As of now, the top contenders appear to be Stenhouse, 2011 runner-up Elliott Sadler, top-ten drivers Justin Allgaier and Brian Scott, and newcomers Danica Patrick, Austin Dillon and Cole Whitt.

From NASCAR .com 

Richmond partners with local advertising agency
What better way to support the “Buy Local” initiative than to do it yourself? In the spirit of buying local, Richmond International Raceway president Dennis Bickmeier announced a partnership with local advertising agency Barber Martin. A twenty-four-year-old shop located in metro Richmond, Barber Martin is a full service agency that oversees the advertising platform for a wide variety of Richmond based companies including Adolf Jewelers, West Broad Honda, Wealthcare Capital Management, VCU School of Business, Chesterfield Auto Parts, Capitol Region Airport Commission, and Southern States Cooperative. The Barber Martin team will assist RIR with print, television, radio and out-of-home messaging and promotions for the 2012 season.

From RIR

New 2013 Ford Fusion brings the “Stock Car” back to NASCAR
The 2013 Ford Fusion NASCAR Sprint Cup car, unveiled as part of the Charlotte Motor Speedway Media Tour, was worked on by Ford designers in an effort to bring brand identity back to the sport. The result is undeniable with the 2013 Sprint Cup car mirroring the recently unveiled 2013 Ford Fusion production car.  Featuring a completely redesigned sleek new silhouette and fresh face, the 2013 Fusion Sprint Cup car was designed to be the face of a new era of stock car racing. “We wanted Fusion to be the car that helped return ‘stock car’ to NASCAR,” stated Jamie Allison, director, Ford Racing. “I think fans, when they see the car, are just going to smile and cheer.  It is going to reengage them with the sport and make the sport better because there is just something natural about seeing race cars that look like cars in their driveways.”  This marks the third time Ford simultaneously launched production and NASCAR versions of a new model. The first dual launch came in 1968, with the sleek fastback Ford Torino. Legendary NASCAR driver David Pearson drove the Torino to back-to-back NASCAR championships in 1968 and 1969. The second time came in 2006, when the then newly introduced Ford Fusion appeared in showrooms and on the track. Ford took a different approach with the development of the 2013 Fusion racer. Ford Design Center staff, led by Garen Nicoghosian, and Ford aerodynamicist Bernie Marcus, spent the past year doing the early design development, freeing up the Ford race teams to concentrate on weekly NASCAR competition. “This is a seminal moment in the sport where we had a chance to get it right once again and make sure the race cars are race versions of street cars. And I am proud because I believe we have accomplished just that,” continued Allison. “The 2013 Fusion is a stunning car and the 2013 NASCAR Fusion is even more stunning and I can’t wait to see it perform on the track and connect with race fans.
The new 2013 Ford Fusion which will run in Sprint Cup in 2013
(photo from Ford Racing)

Bodine to Red Horse Racing?
Posted on Twitter by @ToyotaRacing: “Check out @Team_Onion, new driver of the @RedHorseRacing #11 Toyota Tundra
Posted by @Team_Onion (Todd Bodine) said: “We have a ride but cannot race ‘til we get sponsorship. Sponsorship is needed for us to run 

Ray Hendrick & Al Pearce honored
Legendary NASCAR short-track star the late Ray Hendrick and long-time motorsports journalist Al Pearce are among the six Virginians selected as the Class of 2012 for the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame and Museum. The Class was introduced to both houses of the Virginia State Legislature in the State Capitol.  In addition to Hendrick and Pearce, this year’s class includes former NFL star and Super Bowl-winning wide receiver Antonio Freeman; former NBA all-star guard and three-time NBA champion Gerald Henderson; long-time University of Virginia women’s basketball coach Debbie Ryan; retired NBA official Jess Kersey; and former MLB all-star lefthander Bill Wagner. The Class will be inducted into the Hall of Fame on Saturday, April 28 in Portsmouth.
Pearce began covering NASCAR for the Times-Herald/Daily Press in 1969 and for AutoWeek magazine in 1972, and is still working for AutoWeek.  He won eight Virginia Press Association awards during his thirty-five years at the Daily Press Inc. and in 2003 earned the prestigious Henry T. McLemore Award for “continued outstanding motorsports journalism.” The McLemore Award brought with it induction into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame at Talladega, AL. The Newport News resident also has been recognized for his work by Martinsville Speedway, Pocono Raceway and Langley Speedway, which named its media center in his honor.

Hendrick was a Modified and Late Model standout during a career that began in the late 1950’s and extended into the mid 1980’s. Records are sketchy, but it’s generally agreed he won upwards of 700 races – including twenty at Martinsville Speedway – on East Coast and Southeastern tracks ranging from a quarter-mile to the 2.66-mile Talladega Superspeedway. He won countless track championships, was top-ten in NASCAR Modified points nine times and twice was top-ten in Late Model Sportsman national points. He also had two top-fives and six top-ten’s in his seventeen Sprint Cup starts. Hendrick was selected to the NMPA Hall of Fame in 1993, was named one of NASCAR’s fifty greatest drivers in 1998, was a charter inductee into the Virginia Motorsports Hall of Fame in 2003, was named one of Modified racing’s all-time top-ten drivers and was a 2007 inductee into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame at Talladega. He died 1990 at age 61.

Jeff Gordon receives Spirit Award
#24-Jeff Gordon is the recipient of the National Motorsports Press Association Speedway Motorsports Spirit Award for 2011 for his work with children’s health issues. Gordon was among four quarterly winners for the award and chosen by NMPA members as the overall winner for the year. The NMPA Spirit Award is designed to recognize character and achievement in the face of adversity, sportsmanship and contributions to motorsports. Gordon has always taken an interest in children’s health issues through his Jeff Gordon Children’s Foundation Pediatric Center Treatment Research, but those efforts expanded in 2011. Gordon brought a hands-on approach to his work with children this summer. Working with the Clinton Global Initiative, Gordon traveled to a refugee camp in the Congo in July in an effort aid with health issues. He witnessed first-hand what children in the area face and offered his personal assistance to the program.


ModSpace to sponsor Front Row Motorsports
Modular construction provider ModSpace will partner with Front Row Motorsports in the 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series for a multi-race primary sponsorship and season-long associate sponsorship of the #38 Ford, driven by David Gilliland. The #34 Ford, driven by David Ragan, will also carry an associate sponsorship from ModSpace for the full season. The new motorsports partnership expands an existing business relationship between the Berwyn, Penn-based company and Front Row Motorsports owner Bob Jenkins. ModSpace is currently working with Jenkins’ quick-service restaurant company to build new Taco Bell/Long John Silver’s locations. The new motorsports partnership will help with another type of “building” – the continued growth of Jenkins’ Sprint Cup team, which is coming off the best season in its young history. The first appearance of the #38 ModSpace Ford is scheduled for the April 14 race at Texas Motor Speedway.  ModSpace is a leading provider of modular buildings, portable storage and services for temporary or permanent space needs.  Building on more than forty years of experience, ModSpace serves a diverse set of customers and markets – including commercial, construction, education, government, healthcare, industrial/energy and special events – through an extensive nationwide branch network throughout the United States and Canada. ModSpace has constructed buildings for renowned clients ranging from the Professional Golf Association (PGA) to General Motors, IBM and the U.S. Army. For for information on the company and is projects, visit

BB&T and RCR Renew Longtime Partnership
Richard Childress Racing announced the extension of its longtime partnership with BB&T Corporation for the 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup series season. The full-service financial institution will serve as primary sponsor for five races on the #31 Chevy and driver Jeff Burton, retaining its status as official bank of the 43-year-old Welcome, NC-based organization. “BB&T has been a great partner of RCR over the years so we’re very pleased to renew our program with them,” said Richard Childress, president and CEO of Richard Childress Racing. “It’s always beneficial working with a partner like BB&T that has strong ties to the area.”
BB&T’s primary race sponsorship occurs within the corporation’s branch footprint, which covers twelve states and Washington DC. The #31 BB&T Chevy will debut in March at Bristol with other appearances coming in April at Martinsville and Richmond and in May at Darlington along with a special edition co-branded paint scheme with Caterpillar at the NASCAR Sprint All-Star race. The newly designed burgundy and gray paint scheme will also adorn the #31 entry at Dover in June.

From RCR 

Sadler Hoping for Daytona 500 Start
Elliott Sadler confirmed that talks are underway to put him in a Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet for the 2012 Daytona 500. “I’ve said before if I got a chance to be in competitive Cup car again, I would jump at the chance, “ said Sadler in an exclusive interview with SiriusXM NASCAR Radio’s Sirius Speedway with Dave Moody. “Richard Childress and I have had some conversations, but what we really need is sponsorship. We’re getting close to getting that done, but there’s nothing done yet. I can’t confirm anything right now, but I am damn sure pulling for it to happen. “RCR will field full-time Sprint Cup series entries in 2012 for drivers #31-Jeff Burton, #29-Kevin Harvick and #27-Paul Menard, but has an additional guaranteed starting spot in the first five races of this season; earned a year ago by Clint Bowyer’s #33 Chevy. Sadler is expected to wheel the #33, if a financial backer can be found.

30-Year Media Tour Veterans Honored
In the 30-year history of the NASCAR Sprint Media Tour hosted by Charlotte Motor Speedway, only seven people have taken part in every event.  Those seven – Bill Funderud, Bruce Martin, Bryant McMurray, Bob Moore, Al Pearce, Thomas Pope and Deb Williams – were honored Tuesday morning during a special breakfast that included discussion of media tour memories.

Truex Jr. Hopes to Re-sign with MWR
#56-Martin Truex Jr. knows it will take a trip to Victory Lane in order to keep sponsor NAPA and perhaps in order to keep his job at Michael Waltrip Racing. Truex enters the 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup series season faced with increased pressure to perform, in perhaps a now-or-never situation with a contract that expires at the end of the year. “I’m not here to float along and hang around if I’m not competitive,” Truex said. “I know what I can do in a race car. And that’s all that matters to me. This year is obviously very, very important with NAPA keeping them happy and hopefully keeping them here. For now, it’s just about getting it done. We can do it. There’s no doubt in my mind.” Truex refused to call 2012 a “make-or-break season” because, he said, every season is that way.  There’s always pressure to perform, always expectations. But the 31-year-old driver acknowledged this season is crucial in deciding the future for both himself and MWR. “I mean, I want to be here next year,” he said. “We both have to wait and see how all that goes. But I feel good about this year. I really do. Time will tell.”

From SB Nation 

Petty discusses Robbie Loomis
Richard Petty said chief operating officer, Robbie Loomis was not fired, that his contract simply expired, and he still maintained a “personal” relationship with the organization that has struggled financially the past few years. Loomis had been in charge of turning around Richard Petty Motorsport’s on-track program for the past six years. He previously was at Hendrick Motorsports, where he was the crew chief for Jeff Gordon when he won the 2001 Sprint Cup title. Petty said the decision not to offer a new deal had nothing to do with Loomis being outspoken about want to sign 2004 Cup champion Kurt Busch after Busch was released from Penske Racing. “That was the business part of it,” Petty said of Loomis’ departure. “Personally, nothing has changed. Anything we do at the shop, we call him and let him know. He’s up on the very latest thing we do at the shop.” Petty said all of Loomis’ responsibilities at the track and shop have been re-assigned to other people. He did not rule out Loomis returning at some point, if it is financially feasible. “He has a personal connection to Richard Petty Motorsports,” Petty said. “Right now, that’s all it is.”

From ESPN  

2013 cars to be tested at Homestead
All four 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup series car models are scheduled to be tested at Homestead-Miami Speedway February 1st in a test that will apparently be closed. That may be the first time crewmen get to see all four models. Why is NASCAR, and its big marketing operation, taking such a seemingly low-keyed approach?  Apparently it’s because the sanctioning body has not yet ‘aero-matched’ the four models in the wind tunnel. Ford is billing its new model as a Fusion (not Mustang, as once planned), and when the car maker officially unveiled its 2013 street version, it was then free to take the wraps off the NASCAR version which is decidedly different from the current Sprint Cup model, the still controversial and not greatly liked by many car-of-tomorrow. Chevrolet, for example, still hasn’t officially named its model for its 2013 NASCAR Cup car.

Kroger-USE to sponsor #47 Toyota in Daytona 500
Kroger will have a major presence during the Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway, returning as primary sponsor of JTG Daugherty Racing’s #47 Toyota Camry of Bobby Labonte. “We are pleased to have Kroger helping us kick off our season at Daytona again,” Labonte said. “They are a great partner of JTG Daugherty Racing. They enjoyed the race last year and we were in the hunt for the win. We were able to stay out of trouble to be in contention on the final lap. If we can be that fortunate this year and put ourselves in position again, anything can happen.” Once again, the Kroger car will carry the USO logo in the Daytona 500. In 2011, the Kroger family of stores expanded its partnership with the USO through Honoring Our Heroes, a year-long campaign to support members of the armed forces and their families. With the help of customers, associates and key partners, the program generated $1.5 million to assist the USO’s programs to support troops and families. Kroger will present these funds to the USO during pre-race ceremonies at the Daytona 500. This company-wide campaign with the USO will continue in 2012. The USO is the nations’ leading organization providing morale-boosting programs and services to enhance the quality of life for troops and their families around the world. Kroger and JTG Daugherty Racing also will thank the hundreds of Kroger associates from across the country on active duty and reservist members of our armed forces. They are paying special tribute by placing the names of these men and women on the hood of the car for the Daytona 500.


BUBBA burger to sponsor Labonte for two races
JTG Daugherty Racing revealed BUBBA burger has signed on with the racing organization as a primary sponsor for Bobby Labonte’s #47 Toyota Camry during the 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup series. BUBBA burger is scheduled to have prominent position on Labonte’s car during the Pocono 400 at Pocono on June 10 and at Chicago on September 16. “BUBBA burger is excited to return as a sponsor of JTG Daugherty Racing, “according to Billy Morris President/CEO of BUBBA foods. “NASCAR Fans have grown to be great fans of BUBBA burger at the track and at home. It was an easy decision for our Racing Season is Grilling Season promotion. Together we will win on the track and off the track.”  Additionally, BUBBA burger is scheduled to have a presence on Labonte’s machine as an associate sponsor for the full season. BUBBA burger is an obvious fit for JTG Daugherty Racing’s retail theme ‘Racing Season is Grilling Season.’ “BUBBA burger has activated a lot in our sport and it’s great to hear they are sponsoring our Toyota Camry this year,” said Labonte. “BUBBA burger used to be JTG Daugherty Racing’s partner and I know Tad (Geschickter) is happy to have them back. They fall right into the team’s marketing theme and they are the #1 branded frozen burger in the United States.

Roush plans to expand back to a four-car team
Team owner Jack Roush said despite the “economic pressures” that forced his organization to shrink from four to three Cup teams this season, he is looking to expand back to a quartet when possible. “The plan is to go back to that four-car stable…yes,” Roush said. “In the meantime, we’ve been able to reposition personnel and resources within the organization because of the downsizing that I think will make us very strong.” Roush also confirmed that his team will run Ricky Stenhouse Jr. for the full Nationwide series schedule this season and is still working on sponsorship to run Trevor Bayne for a complete campaign.

Furniture Row Racing announces associate sponsorships
Coming off its most competitive season in the NASCAR Sprint Cup series, #78 Furniture Row Racing is enjoying similar success on the sponsorship side with the addition of CSX Transportation and its railroad crossing and pedestrian safety campaign for the 2012 season. CSX Transportation, the largest railroad in the East and third largest in the United States, joins Chevrolet and Argo-Culture Liquid Fertilizers in the associate sponsorship role with all three companies complementing the team’s primary sponsors Furniture Row and Denver Mattress. Headquartered in Jacksonville, FL, CSX Transportation maintains a more than 21,000-mile freight rail network serving twenty-three states and portions of Canada. Building upon several years of its innovative safety communications campaign, CSX will utilize the Furniture Row Racing sponsorship as part of the “Play it Safe” campaign to urge pedestrians and motorist to exercise caution around railroad tracks.

Yeley to drive for Robinson-Blakeney
Newly established Sprint Cup team Robinson-Blakeney Racing has tabbed JJ Yeley to drive its #49 Toyota for the 2012 season. In addition, Yeley will be reunited with crew chief Tony Furr, who has been hired to coordinate and direct the upstart endeavor. “I am energized and looking forward to working with (owner and manager) Jay Robinson and our team beginning at Daytona in the Duel 150 race and building success all the way to Homestead,” said Yeley, who has eleven top-ten finishes in his Cup career. “I have enjoyed a good working relationship in the past with Tony Furr as my crew chief and am happy to be partnered with him again on this team.” Furr brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the team and has the tools available to formulate a competitive effort at Robinson-Blakeney Racing. “I am excited to again be working with a talented driver like JJ as well as the rest of the team and owners at Robinson-Blakeney Racing,” Furr said. In addition to its first year in Cup, Robinson-Blakeney Racing returns for its twelfth season of competition in the Nationwide series in the #28 car. “We are preparing the team for a very successful 2012 season and we are pleased to announce our partnerships with Tony and JJ.” Robinson said.

Gaughan to run limited schedule for RCR
Brendan Gaughan will compete in four races on the 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup series schedule, driving Richard Childress Racing’s #33 South Point Hotel & Casino Chevrolet Impala in addition to his previously announced eighteen-race NASCAR Nationwide and NASCAR Camping World Truck series schedule with the Welcome, NC based race team. Leading the effort for the #33 team will be veteran crew chief Gil Martin, RCR’s Nationwide series program team manager. Martin has been at RCR since 2000 and has served as crew chief for Kevin Harvick, Clint Bowyer, Casey Mears, Kerry Earnhardt and Robby Gordon. He is one of a select few crew chiefs to win races in NASCAR’s Sprint Cup, Nationwide and Camping World Truck series. “The opportunity to run four races for Richard Childress in the Sprint Cup series is truly amazing,” said Gaughan. “RCR has top-notch equipment and teamed me with a winning crew chief in Gil Martin. Everyone deserves a second chance and I am ecstatic that my second chance in the Sprint Cup series is in the #33 Chevrolet with RCR.” Gaughan’s four-race Sprint Cup series schedule will start at Phoenix in March at the 2nd race of the season, followed by the next three races of the season at Las Vegas, Bristol and Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, CA. RCR’s No. 33 team finished thirteenth in final 2011 owner point standings and is locked into the first five races of the season.

From RCR  
Sadler to run Daytona 500 for RCR
General Mills and The Kroger Co. announced it will partner with Richard Childress Racing and veteran driver Elliott Sadler on the #33 Chevy for the 54th annual Daytona 500 on February 26, 2012 at Daytona International Speedway. “It’s great to be back in the Daytona 500. I’ve had a lot of success in this race in the past and want to thank General Mills, Kroger and Richard Childress for this opportunity,” said Elliott Sadler. “When we started putting this program together the first thing that came to mind is how strong RCR’s plate program has always been. We’re going to go out and have a legitimate chance to win the race. Speedweeks can’t get here soon enough!” General Mills, entering its fourth year of partnership with the Welcome, NC-based organization, is teaming up with The Kroger Co. for a special paint scheme celebrating the great brands from both organizations. The special red, white and blue paint scheme adorning Sadler’s Chevrolet for “The Great American Race” will feature the Kroger Co. Family of Stores, Fred Meyer Jewelers and several General Mills brands. The Minneapolis, MN-based General Mills also sponsors RCR’s #31 Wheaties Chevy with driver Jeff Burton. Leading the effort for the #33 team will be veteran crew chief Gil Martin, RCR’s NASCAR Nationwide series program team manager. Martin has been at RCR since 2000 and has served as crew chief for Kevin Harvick, Clint Bowyer, Casey Mears, Kerry Earnhardt and Robby Gordon. He is one of a select few crew chiefs to win races in NASCAR’s Sprint Cup, Nationwide and Camping World Truck series. Childress a two-time Daytona 500 champion car owner, will use owner points accumulated during the 2011 Sprint Cup series season to field the #33 Chevrolet entry as the team finished thirteenth in the final 2011 owner point standings.

From RCR  
Trevor Bayne says he had Lymes
Daytona 500 winner #21-Trevor Bayne says there are no after-effects from Lyme disease which sidelined him for two months last season. Bayne is less concerned about his health than with having the sponsorship that would allow him to compete for the Nationwide series title. Roush Fenway Racing president Steve Newmark said he should know in a few weeks if that will happen.  Doctors never officially called Bayne’s illness Lyme disease, referring to it instead as an inflammatory condition. But the 20-year-old driver said during the Sprint media tour that he since has been told it was Lyme.  “They wouldn’t (confirm) because it’s such a hard thing to define,” Bayne said. “All you can look at with Lyme is a rash. I had already had medication for it, so it can hide. Lyme is…something that hides in your bloodstream. It is hard to diagnose. To me, if they treat it and it goes away, to me that seems like a pretty good answer.”

From ESPN 

Chastain to SS Green Light Racing and Rookie of the Year candidate
SS Green Light Racing is pleased to announce that 19-year-old Florida late model standout Ross Chastain will join the team for 2012 NASCAR Camping World Truck series season. Chastain will pilot the team’s Toyota Tundra beginning with the NextEra Energy Resources 250 at the famed Daytona International Speedway under the guidance of longtime driver, owner and crew chief Bobby Dotter. Ross began his racing career at age twelve running the Fastkids trucks in his native state and has accumulated over fifty feature wins as he advanced through the ranks to late models. The Alva, FL native was the late model champion at the prestigious World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing at New Smyrna Raceway in 2011. Ross ran five NCWTS races in 2011 finishing tenth in his first ever start at Lucas Oil Raceway and completed an impressive 98.5% of the laps in the five races with an average finish of 18.8. Returning to its familiar #08 for the 2012 season, Chastain and the team SS Green Light team are guaranteed a starting spot for the first four races of the campaign. Sponsorship for the south Florida farmer is currently being finalized with multiple agricultural based businesses and will be announced at a later date. The team is also actively pursuing additional marketing partners for select races in the twenty-two-race NCWTS schedule. The SS Green Light team has one of the longest tenures in the NCWTS with 270 consecutive starts dating back to 2001. The team is planning to run the #07 and #08 Toyota Tundra entries utilizing horsepower from Mark Smith’s Pro Motor Engines. SS Green Light Racing and Chastain plan to run the full NCWTS schedule and compete for Rookie of the Year honors.

Snyder named crew chief for Gresham
Joe Denette Motorsports is pleased to announce that Terry “Richie” Snyder has been named crew chief for the #24 Made In USA Brand Chevrolet of Max Gresham for the 2012 NASCAR Camping World Truck series season. Snyder got his start working on late models and has a background in racing that spans more than ten years. With extensive experience building suspension, Snyder also served as a fill-in truck chief on Johnny Benson’s 2008 Championship winning team. He was also the truck chief for Timothy Peters during the 2009-2010 NCWTS seasons and for Jason White in 2011. Over the past seven years, Snyder has contributed to fifteen wins, seven pole awards and 65 top-five finishes in the NCWTS.

Las Vegas race fans can get a free night of lodging at the Stratosphere
Las Vegas is a city known for its “comps” and “deal-making” and the Stratosphere Las Vegas has an incredible offer for race fans. With the Buy Two and Get One Free promotion, anyone who buys weekend tickets for the March 9-11 NASCAR Weekend at Las Vegas Motor Speedway will get one night of the three-night hotel stay paid for by Stratosphere in addition to many other benefits. The Stratosphere will be sponsoring its second annual Pole Day qualifying on March 9 at LVMS. Pole Day kicks off the three-day weekend that includes the Kobalt Tools 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup series race. The free night’s lodging is just the beginning of the perks Stratosphere is offering race fans. Race cans taking part in this offer will receive free acces throughout the race weekend to the 113-story Stratosphere Tower, one free entry into a Speedway of Cash slot tournament being held during race week, two-for-one tickets to the stage show BITE, $10 off tickets to headliner Frankie Moreno Live at Stratosphere and discounts in the salon and spa. Beginning Wednesday, January 25, 2012, any race fan purchasing a weekend package to the NASCAR Weekend in either the Petty or Earnhardt Terraces at LVMS is eligible for the free night at the hotel. In addition to the tickets, the Stratosphere package is $299 and includes the lodging as well as the other amenities. Race fans can choose to stay either Thursday-Saturday or Friday-Monday. To take advantage of this offer, please call the LVMS ticket office at 1-800-644-4444. This offer is only available over the phone and will be in place as long as rooms remain available.


Blake Shelton to perform Pre-Race Concert at All-Star Race
Blake Shelton, three-time Grammy nominee, CMA’s reigning Male Vocalist of the Year and coach on NBC’s “The Voice,” will perform a pre-race concert for the 2012 NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race, May 19, at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Presented by Target, the concert will take place in the infield between turns one and two. Admission to the show is free with the purchase of a ticket to the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race. Fans can purchase a special Golden Ticket upgrade for just $20 to secure a prime location with special access to a reserved area directly in front of the stage. CMS Season Ticket holders will have first opportunity to purchase the upgrade before it opens to the public on Wednesday, January 25 at noon. Approximately 2,000 Golden Tickets are available and can be purchased online at or by calling the speedway ticket office at 1-800-455-FANS (3267). In February, Shelton will perform a duet of “America the Beautiful” with his wife, Grammy award-winning artist, Miranda Lambert, at SuperBowl XLVI.

From CMS

Latest on a track in Minnesota
Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton says even if a new Minnesota Vikings stadium is not built in Arden Hills, he is still interested in cleaning up the old Army munitions site. So, how might the site be developed? Sources tell 5 EYEWITNESS News a $300 million NASCAR motor-sports complex is being discussed. Ramsey County Commissioner Tony Bennett confirms commissioners have had meetings with NASCAR backers. Bennett also says several entities have shown interest in building casinos on the property. Despite all the interest, the county and the Vikings still prefer to build a stadium on the site.

From KSTP .com 

Ryan Truex & Bobby Santos to drive for Tommy Baldwin
Tommy Baldwin Racing expands its Nationwide series program with the addition of Ryan Truex and Bobby Santos, who will split driving duties with Ryan Blaney. Truex will compete in the DRIVE4COPD 300 at Daytona International Speedway, February 25. Santos will race in the Subway Jalapeno 250 at DIS July 6. Blaney will run six NNS events with TBR, debuting April 27 at Richmond International Raceway. Truex will make his first superspeedway start in the NNS season-opener. The 19-year-old racer made his NNS debut in 2010 at Gateway International Raceway and made twenty-four starts in the 2010 and 2011 seasons. He compiled five top-ten finishes including a third-place finish at Kansas Speedway. Truex competed in the NASCAR K&N Pro series East in 2009 and 2010 and won the championship both years with a top-ten average finish. Santos has competed under the TBR Development banner since 2010. He competed in the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour (NWMT) in 2010 and 2011 and won the championship in his first season in the series. The 26-year-old won the inaugural USAC National Pavement Sprint Car series championship last season in a family-owned car. Santos made five starts in the NNS since 2007. His last start was t DIS February 2011 wehre he finished seventeenth in a JR Motorsports-prepared Chevy.

From Tommy Baldwin Racing

Harvicks expecting a baby
#29-Kevin Harvick said his wife is fourteen weeks pregnant. Harvick announced DeLana Harvick’s pregnancy during a media event at Richard Childress Racing.  The couple closed their race team at the end of last season and said they were excited to use all the free time they were about to acquire. Motorsports Journalism Awards of Excellence Announced and Charlotte Motor Speedway announced the winners of the 27th Annual Motorsports Journalism Awards of Excellence in honor of Russ Catlin presented by Charlotte Motor Speedway. This year marked the most competitive contest to date, as a record-setting 200 entries were submitted. The 2011 honorees were Don Coble – Morris News Service/Florida Times-Union, David Caraviello – NASCAR .com, Alan Cavanna – WSOC, Justin Burnett – SPEED, and Will Lester – Inland Valley Daily Bulletin for outstanding motorsports coverage in 2011. To view the winning entries, visit CMS. The Mtorosports Journalism Awards of Excellence recognize the best motorsports coverage in five categories: Daily and Other Writing, Local and National Broadcast and Photojournalism. Entries are open to all forms of motorsports coverage, and no affiliation or membership is required for participation. As in years past, the Indiana University School of Journalism judged the award entries. The recipients were honored at a ceremony held in conjunction with the NASCAR Sprint Media Tour hosted by Charlotte Motor Speedway. Winners received a trophy and $1000 scholarship from in their names to the school of their choice. Their names were also added to a perpetual trophy housed at Charlotte Motor Speedway that lists all past winners.

From CMS

Caterpillar to sponsor Burton for 24 races
Caterpillar will be the primary sponsor on Jeff Burton’s #31 Chevy for twenty-one of the thirty-six Sprint Cup races in 2012. Caterpillar also will sponsor the #31 car in three non-points events, the Budweiser Shootout and Gatorade Duels at Daytona and the Sprint All-Star Race in Charlotte. In all other races, Caterpillar will still have a major presence on the car. Included in the Caterpillar races are both Talladega dates, Las Vegas, both Texas races, the June race at Michigan, the night race at Bristol, Watkins Glen and Chicago. Caterpillar will be the primary sponsor for eight of the 10 Chase races. “We’re very pleased,” said Greg Towles, Caterpillar’s NASCAR program director. “We got the races we wanted. “Not on the schedule is the Brickyard 400, which Caterpillar has often relinquished to other primary sponsors in the past. Towles said that race is a tough sell to Caterpillar’s dealers and customers because hospitality is costly. The twenty-one races will include specialty paint schemes, including a patriotic theme for the All-Star Race. In past years, the company has used the car to showcase different divisions such as Cat Rental, Cat Financial and, last year, Cat Global Mining, and Towles said that program will continue. With the departure of Clint Bowyer from Richard Childress Racing, General Mills’ Wheaties brand also will be a primary sponsor for Burton this year. And it was also announced that BB&T, another one of Bowyer’s former sponsors, will be the primary for five of Burton’s races in 2012.

Bill Elliott and Walmart team up for Daytona in July
Walmart announced they will expand their merchandise program in 2012, the 50th anniversary of the retail giant. While the merchandise partnership isn’t new, Walmart will take to the track for the first time with a Chevy built by Turner Motorsports and driven by Bill Elliott. However the effort as of now, is for only one race; the Coke Zero 400 at Daytona in July. The company wanted to get on the track this year with the #50 Chevy and Elliott to help celebrate the 50th birthday of the company in July and just wants to ‘have a lot of fun with it,’ said Rand Waddoups, senior direct Entertainment Properties and Brands for Walmart. The company has no shop has hired no personnel and has no plans beyond the single race. ‘But we have six months yet,’ Waddoups added.
From NASCAR Examiner  

Speed and #95 team plans to run 16 races
Scott Speed will drive a partial Sprint Cup series schedule for Leavine Family Racing this season, focusing mostly on the 1.5-mile tracks and road courses. Team owner Bob Leavine was impressed with Speed’s ability to out-qualify his car last season with inferior equipment and decided to give the ex-Formula One racer a shot. The team plans to avoid start-and-parking if possible and run the full races it enters, beginning with the Texas Motor Speedway race in April.  “You can make more money doing (start-and-parks), for sure, but that’s not what Bob wants to do,” Speed said.  “We want to be professional about it. We’re going to look good, we’re going to have all of our stuff right and represent our brand and what we’re doing the right way and not just be another start-and-park team.” Leavine gets its engines from Roush Fenway Racing (on a lower tier) and buys used Roush cars to field its #95 entry (which David Starr drove last season). “We’re going about it the right way as much as you can be,” Speed said. “We’re not a fully-funded team that’s running a full year. But instead of doing a lot, we’re doing what we can and doing it right. If we’re running well, the pedal is to the floor.” The team won’t run the superspeedway races, because that requires buying a special car and hoping it survives a crapshoot race. But it will purchase a car for the road courses, Speed said, because those events are “probably more in our control.”

From SB Nation  

“There are a lot of great drivers who don’t have a ride,” said Speed. “It’s a tough time in our sport and I am lucky to have the opportunity here at Leavine Family Racing because it’s one of the good ones out there. We are doing sixteen races and we are going to do them right including the two road course races. We are going to go out and race when we have the ability to run and run it right.”

From CMS Media Tour Notes

NASCAR and MillerCoors extend partnership
NASCAR, MillerCoors and Penske Racing jointly announced multi-year partnership extensions for the brewer’s two biggest brands. For MillerCoors, the deals with the sanctioning body and one of the sport’s most respected teams solidify its status among the most committed sponsors in NASCAR. In addition, MillerCoors has alliances with seven tracks that host NASCAR races. Coors Light is extending its sponsorship as the Official Beer of NASCAR.
MillerCoors Chief Marketing Officer Andy England said the renewals point to the value of NASCAR as a powerful way to connect with legal-drinking-age consumers. “We don’t make investment decisions like this without having a great sense of exactly what the alliance will deliver for our brands,” England said. “That’s why I’m so excited about our continued partnerships with NASCAR and Penske Racing. NASCAR fans are among the most passionate and loyal fans in all of sports, and they love Coors Light or a great tasting, never watered down Miller Lite. Our distributors and retailers know that, which is why they’re so supportive of our leadership in the sport.

The Coors Light partnership with NASCAR includes the Coors Light Pole Award for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, NASCAR Nationwide and NASCAR Camping World Truck series’, which rewards the driver with the fastest qualifying time each week. It also includes the exclusive right to use NASCAR marks on retail point-of-sale and merchandising materials, in advertising and digital marketing, and through other marketing tools.

Coors Light brings special insight to race fans through its Miss Coors Light program, which began at the start of the 2010 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup and continued throughout the 2011 season. Miss Coors Light, who will be back in 2012, presents the Coors Light Pole Award to the winning driver, makes appearances during race week at local bars and provides her perspective on NASCAR activities via the Miss Coors Light Facebook page.
“The return of MillerCoors to NASCAR not only ensures that the company will bring back compelling activation that continues to engage and excite our fans, but it also benefits our ecosystem as a whole, which is comprised of tracks, drivers and teams,” said Steve Phelps, NASCAR chief marketing officer. “As a sanctioning body, NASCAR is proud to have Coors Light as part of our stable of Official Partners for whom we create exclusive assets and platforms to drive their respective businesses. NASCAR is the sport that works for business, and we’re pleased to see it working so well for MillerCoors.


Miller, Keselowski and Wolfe signed through 2015
#2-Brad Keselowski’s extension with Penske Racing is for two years, with an organization option for a third year in 2015, team sources confirmed. Keselowski was entering the last year of his initial three-year deal with Penske. The team had announced Dec. 1 that an extension was signed, but no terms were disclosed. Crew chief Paul Wolfe and sponsor Miller Lite also have re-signed through 2015.

From ESPN .com  

AND Miller Lite has renewed its partnership with Penske Racing. Miller Lite will continue as the season-long primary sponsor of Penske’s #2 Dodge driven by Brad Keselowski, building upon an alliance that began in 1991. For Miller Lite, its sponsorship extension with Penske and Keselowski comes after an amazing 2011 season, Keselowski’s second full year on the NASCAR Sprint Cup circuit. Keselowski and his Miller Lite team surged from deep in the driver standings as late as mid-July to win three races, qualify for the Chase and finish fifth in the championship standings. Keselowski and the Blue Deuce are featured throughout the year in Miller Lite-branded point-of-sale materials displayed in on-and off-premise retail accounts across the country, as well as in advertising and digital marketing. Keselowski and members of his crew also make special appearances at retail accounts to visit Miller Lite customers throughout the season. “The #2 Miller Lite Dodge is coming off a very successful season on the racetrack – one where we reached Victory Lane for a sixth-consecutive season while qualifying for the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup,” said Roger Penske. “The continued support of MillerCoors will ensure that this long-standing partnership will remain one of the strongest bonds in professional motorsports. With Miller Lite, we are proud to have one of the few full-season sponsors in the NASCAR Sprint Cup series. That continuity is one of the many reasons Brad and the team are primed for another great season.

From Penske Racing  

Dr. Joseph mattioli, Pocono Raceway Patriarch, Passes
Dr. Joseph Mattioli, Pocono Raceway Founder and Chairman of the Board, passed away January 26th at the Lehigh Valley Hospital Center surrounded by his loving family, following a lengthy illness. He was 86. “Doc” as he was known to friends and associates, was one of the most respected and admired men in automotive racing. He founded Pocono Raceway in the early 1960’s and has been at the helm of Pocono ever since. Under his leadership, the track grew in stature and has hosted sixty-eight very successful NASCAR Sprint Cup series events. His passion and drive helped Pocono Raceway to succeed when other tracks fell by the wayside. Pocono Raceway is the only remaining family owned and run track on the NASCAR Sprint Cup series schedule. He was always concerned that race fans and race car drivers and their families were treated with the utmost respect and constantly upgraded procedures and Raceway facilities to meet that goal.

He kept his fingers on the pulse of stock car racing and read everything printed concerning the sport. He was in the office daily, until last fall, and oversaw all aspects of the Pocono Raceway operations. At age 83, Dr. Mattioli spearheaded an ambitious solar energy project. He built a three megawatt photovoltaic solar energy system on twenty-five acres at Pocono Raceway. It is the world’s largest solar-powered sports facility, making Pocono Raceway a leader in the renewable energy and environmental fields.
Dr. Mattioli was also well respected in the community. In 2009, he received the Philanthropic Lifetime Achievement Award presented by the Association of Fundraising Professionals for his generous and continuous contributions to local civic organizations, hospitals, schools, and charities. He served on the board of directors of numerous organizations and was dedicated to improving the quality of life in Northeastern PA.

He served in the Pacific during World War Two as a Navy medic. Using the GI bill, he enrolled in the dentistry program at Temple University (where he met his soon to be wife, Rose). Upon graduation, he developed his dental practice into a very lucrative business by working twelve to fourteen hour days, six and sometimes seven days a week. He then began investing in and developing properties in Philadelphia and Northeastern Pennsylvania where he became involved in the start up of Pocono Raceway. Dr. Mattioli is survived by his wife of sixty-three years, Dr. Rose, daughters Louie and Michele and son Joseph Mattioli III, seven grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. His passing leaves a void in the NASCAR community and especially to his family and extended “Pocono Raceway” family. Service arrangements for Dr. Joseph Mattioli are incomplete at this time.

From Pocono Raceway

Richard Petty Motorsports forms NNS team for Annett
Richard Petty Motorsports announced today the formation of a new NASCAR Nationwide series team with driver Michael Annett and his long-time partner Pilot Flying J. The team will be run out of RPM’s Concord, NC race shop and will vie for the NASCAR Nationwide series championship. Annett, a native of Des Moines, Iowa, comes to Richard Petty Motorsports after spending last season at Rusty Wallace, Inc. He has posted thirteen top-ten finishes in 105 Nationwide series starts and drove to a ninth-place finish in the championship points standings last season.  Pilot Flying J the driver driven company, is headquartered in Knoxville, Tennessee, and has more than 500 retail locations across North American. 

From Richard Petty Motorsports pr

The car number will be #43. 

Snap-On to sponsor #22 in Four races
One of Penske’s Racing’s longest-tenured sponsors is building on its relationship with the organization in 2012. Entering its 30th year as a Penske Racing sponsor, Snap-On Tools will enhance its role with the organiztion to serve as primary sponsor of the #22 Dodge Challenger in the NASCAR Nationwide series for four races this season. Snap-on’s colors and branding will adorn the #22 car driven this season by both former Nationwide series champion Brad Keselowski and rising star Parker Kligerman in races at Darlington Raceway, May 11, Dover International Speedway, June 2, New Hampshire Motor Speedway, July 14, and Richmond International Raceway, September 7. Snap-on will continue to be an associate sponsor on all Penske Racing cars competing in the NASCAR Sprint Cup and Nationwide series this season as well as its IndyCar series teams. Building on a strong and productive relationship that enters its third decade, Penske Automotive Group and Penske Truck Rental also continue to use Snap-on products across all levels of their respective businesses. 

From Penske Racing

Efland to drive for Sinica Motorsports at Daytona
Danny Efland Racing and Sinica Motorsports Inc. will team up for the DRIVE4COPD 300 at Daytona International Speedway for February 25, 2012. 

From Sinica Motorsports

Veteran crew chief Wauters turns team owner with Rookie Harraka
Veteran NASCAR crew chief Richie Wauters takes the leap into NASCAR Camping World Truck series team ownership forming Wauters Motorsports which in 2012 will be driven by Sunoco Rookie of the Year contender Paulie Harraka. Wauters’ career began at tracks around his hometown Green Bay, Wisconsin and quickly moved into the NASCAR Touring series. Wauters crewed successful NASCAR Sprint Cup teams with drivers Kenny Wallace, Elliott Sadler, Robert Pressley and Jeff Green. Wauters, in his tenure as a crew chief in the NASCAR Camping World Truck series, led teams to eighteen victories from 2004-2010 with drivers Shane Hmiel, Kyle Busch and Aric Almirola. Former NASCAR Drive for Diversity driver Harraka will take the wheel of the Ford F150 Camping World truck. Most recently, Harraka posted three victories in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West. Harraka, a senior at Duke University has also scored the Championship in NASCAR’s Whelen All-American series, and posted two different NASCAR Rookie of the Year titles: NASCAR Whelen All-American series and NASCAR Camping World Series West (Now K&N Pro Series West). The Wauters Motorsports F150 NASCAR Camping World Truck series truck will be utilizing Doug Yates and Roush Racing Engines in their debut at Daytona International Speedway for the running of the NextEra Energy Resources 250, Friday, February 24th.

From Wauters Motorsports PR and NASCAR .com

Kentucky Speedway Infrastructure Improvements Outlined
Kentucky Speedway officials presented national reporters an overview of infrastructure projects in progress at the 107,000 capacity Sparta, KY facility during the annual NASCAR preseason media tour. Outlined projects will be complete before Kentucky Speedway opens its five-race 2012 schedule with a NASCAR triple-header weekend featuring the Sprint Cup series “Quaker State 400,” Nationwide series “Feed the Children 300,” and Camping World Truck series “UNOH 225” June 28-30. The speedway will play host to a second 300-mile NASCAR Nationwide series event on September 22 and a 225-mile NASCAR Camping World Truck series race on September 21.

This season, Kentucky Speedway will feature…
Expanded Parking: Kentucky Speedway purchased two large land parcels adjacent to the north side of Kentucky Highway 35 which will be converted to expansive new parking fields. Kentucky Speedway also repurposed portions of its original acreage for additional parking.
Easier Facility Access: The state of Kentucky has committed to widening the Interstate 71 exit ramp at Ky. 35, widening Ky.35 to seven lanes at points where it services the speedway and constructing a pedestrian tunnel which will safely connect new parking fields to the Kentucky Speedway grounds.
A New Traffic Plan: Kentucky Speedway will execute a new pedestrian and automotive traffic plan. Infrastructure Improvements: Kentucky Speedway will construct an overpass to its infield tunnel road that will separate tram traffic and infield traffic. The speedway also will expand restrooms. 
Improved Campsites: Expanded campgrounds will feature enhanced campsites, many with access to electric service.

“We want the chance to prove ourselves. You’ll see when you come back, all the improvements,” Speedway Motorsports, Inc (SMI) Chairman and CEO Bruton Smith said. Five-race season ticket plans, a three-race June Weekend Ticket Package that includes a 1:24 scale Dale Earnhardt, Jr., die-cast collectible along with season and weekend campsites are available now at  859-578-2300, or by going to, The Kentucky Speedway corporate offices at 1 Speedway Drive, Sparta, KY, 41806 off of Interstate 71, Exit 57 and State Highway 35. 

From Kentucky Speedway

Andretti’s team up for Daytona 24
The worlds of NASCAR, IndyCar, USAC and the Rolex series will come together next week as part of the No. 36 Yellow Dragon Motorsports Mazda RX-8 driver line-up for the 50th running of the Rolex 24 at Daytona. The father and son team of John and Jarett Andretti highlight the entry and will race together for the first time. Joining them will be Mazda sports car racing veteran Taylor Hacquard, and promising Mazda open-wheel driver Anders Krohn, forming Yellow Dragon’s most impressive Rolex 24 driver squad to date. With twelve Indy 500 and fourteen Daytona 500 starts to his credit, John Andretti is one of America’s most accomplished racers, and as the overall winner of the 1989 Rolex 24 at Daytona, returning to race at the storied endurance event with his son Jarett – and with the support of Window World – was an opportunity he couldn’t pass up. “This will be my fourth Rolex 24, and the opportunity to race with Jarett was the deciding factor,” he said. “The 50th Anniversity of the race is also a major motivation, and I’m looking forward to working with Window World, the team and other drivers in this historic event with a winning manufacturer like Mazda.” After earning a USAC championship in 2011, Jarett Andretti is poised to show the kind of versatility that has become synonymous with his last name. Trading midget racing for the wail of a triple-rotor Mazda RX-8, the teenager will draw from the experience of his father and teammates during his professional road racing debut.

Ward and Jeb Burton to race in Truck series
After a five-year absence from competing in a NASCAR race, Ward Burton will drive at Daytona in February in the NextEra Energy 250 NASCAR Camping World Truck series event. Burton and his 19-year-old son, Jeb, have teamed with Hillman Racing in the Truck series to run the #27 Chevy this season. Burton, the 2002 Daytona 500 winner and brother of current Richard Childress Racing team member Jeff Burton, stepped away from the sport in 2007 to help Jeb’s racing career as well as work with the Ward Burton Wildlife Foundation. Burton had five career wins in the NASCAR Sprint Bup series and four in the Nationwide series. Jeb moves up from the NASCAR Whelen All-American series to the Truck series. Ward will race at Daytona because Jeb is not yet qualified to run at Daytona. Burton also will make select starts throughout the truck series schedule. The younger Burton will make his debut behind the wheel in the Kroger 250 at Martinsville on March 31. Atop the pit box for the #27 will be Richmond native Trip Bruce, who worked with Burton in his Sprint Cup days at Bill Davis Racing.
From Richmond Times Dispatch and HillmanRacing .com

UPDATE – Hillman Racing has formally announced that 2002 Daytona 500 Champion Ward Burton will make his NASCAR Camping World Truck series debut behind the wheel of the #27 Hillman Racing Chevrolet with funding from State Water Heaters in next month’s season-opening NextEra Energy Resources 250 at Daytona International Speedway. Hillman Racing is making its NASCAR debut this season, but the organization is anything but new to the sport. Team owner Mike Hillman Sr. played a key role in the founding of Germain Racing and was the architect of the group’s two NASCAR championships in 2006 and 2010. Hillman acquired the championship-winning NASCAR Camping World Truck series assets following the conclusion of the 2011 season and is set to embark as the owner and general manager of Hillman Racing for the 2012 season. In addition to Burton, a driver development program is being established for Jeb Burton, the 19-year-old son of Ward. Since making his last NASCAR start, Burton has been using tht time to focus on helping his son Jeb develop his racing career and his conservation efforts with The Ward Burton Wildlife Foundation.  “State Water Heaters and Ward Burton have been partners since 2007,” stated Jeff Storie, Senior Marketing Manager for State Water Heaters. “We realized early on that Ward has a natural connection with our wholesalers and contractors. Because of that connection, Ward is a great ambassador for the State brand. We’re thrilled that our 2012 partnership is moving back on the track with both Ward & Jeb. 

From Hillman Racing

NASCAR’s Brian France says ‘Sport is in a very good place.”
NASCAR and its stakeholders intend to build on the success of 2011 as the new season begins with the February 26 Daytona 500 and other Speedweeks events at Daytona International Speedway. In his State of NASCAR remarks delivered during the NASCAR Sprint Media Tour hosted by Charlotte Motor Speedway, NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France said, “The sport is in a very good place and we’re going to work even harder to achieve the very best things for the sport of NASCAR well into the future.” France pointed to initiatives begun a year ago, a simplified points structure in all three national series and a “Wild Card” twist in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup that placed a greater emphasis on race victories which culminated in what France called “a championship battle that will be talked about for decades to come.” While the 2012 season will be one of continuity rather than major change, NASCAR will introduce electronic fuel injection into the NASCAR Sprint Cup series and implement rules designed to restore traditional “pack racing” at Daytona International Speedway and Talladega Superspeedway. “We have a breathtaking number of close finishes at those tracks, but the fans want a mixture of styles including a return to a more traditional ‘pack racing’ and that close side-by-side competition that’s unique to Talladega and Daytona,“ France said. “NASCAR and the teams are working hard on this and based on the test earlier this month, we’re encouraged that we’re making progress.” France also said the sanctioning body continues to operate on a more collaborative method of maintaining and growing the industry by taking into consideration the thoughts and needs of teams, tracks, media partners and especially its fans. “The goal of this effort is to help us better serve our great fans, grow our audience and ensure that our sport stays relevant, vibrant and highly-valuable to sponsors and other partners critical to the health of NASCAR,” said France. “The industry has never been more united in growing the sport.” France said the organization is “very encouraged” by increased television ratings across the three national series NASCAR Sprint Cup, Nationwide and Camping World Truck series’. He also pointed to attendance gains at a number of venues. “While we are still in a tough economic climate that is still difficult, we are pleased with some positive steps we say last year,” he said. France and Robin Pemberton, NASCAR’s vice president, completion and racing development, touched on EFI and the introduction in 2013 of re-styled NASCAR Sprint Cup cars from Chevrolet, Dodge, Ford and Toyota will make the sport more relevant to manufacturers and technology companies. “EFI excites the manufacturers and technology companies,” said France, responding to questioning about NASCAR’s embrace of technology. “To attract new companies (to the sport), we’ve had to take a little different view of that.” Ford earlier this week unveiled its 2013 Fusion prototype with the other OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) to follow in the near future. A closed test of the cars is scheduled early next month with additional testing to follow before final specifications are drawn.


NASCAR to re-evaluate ‘boys have at it’ policy
NASCAR officials plan to re-evaluate its “boys have at it” policy going into the 2012 season and could strengthen its stance against drivers retaliating on the track. NASCAR loosened the reins on drivers in 2010, allowing them to police themselves on the track and retaliate when they believed another driver had intentionally wrecked them. The incidents intensified in 2011, and NASCAR officials acknowledged that things might have gotten out of hand near the end of the season. “We reflect on that at the end of the year and the season hasn’t started yet, but there are some things that a group of us will sit down and talk about, and that is one of them,” NASCAR Vice President of Competition Robin Pemberton said. “There were times that it got out of hand, and we’re going to discuss what out of had really is moving forward.” Pemberton said he doesn’t believe the trend of retaliation in general got out of hand, although specific incidents may have crossed the line. Pemberton, who coined the phrase “boys have at it” in 2010 believes NASCAR’s original position of allowing drivers to police themselves still works. “It’s working pretty well. It goes in stages,” he said. “It works pretty well, then somebody gets outside the box and everybody gets the message and it goes back to working pretty well. But we can’t take all of that for granted.”

From Scene Daily 

Racing great AJ Foyt in hospital
AJ Foyt has been hospitalized in Houston for complications from knee surgery and will skip the 50th anniversary of the Rolex 24 at Daytona. The 77-year-old Foyt had knee surgery two weeks ago, and an infection sent him to the hospital Wedensday. A spokeswoman for the four-time Indianapolis 500 winner said Friday that Foyt may stay in the hospital through the weekend. She said he had been up and walking since the surgery but developed an infection this week. Foyt is the only driver to win the Indianapolis 500, the Daytona 500, the 24 Hours of Daytona and the 24 Hours of LeMans. Foyt was scheduled to be the grand marshal Saturday at Daytona International Speedway.

From Associated Press/ESPN .com

Newt Moore name crew chief for Wallace
JD Motorsports has been a whir and blur of activity the last few weeks at their South Carolina shop. Johnny Davis, #01 team owner, has hired on some key personnel to build on the achievements from the teams’s 2011 season. Mike Wallace, entering his fourth season driving for the team, has been a solid competitor during his tenure. The new addition to the team is veteran crew chief Newt Moore. Davis has 411 NASCAR Nationwide Series starts as an owner. Wallace has 416 NNS starts as a driver. Moore has 408 combined NASCAR starts atop a pit box. That makes for a good combination of experience between the three. They, and their refurbished team, are all hoping their merged know-how leads them to more success in the 2012 season.

From JD Motorsports

Roush Fenway to Commemorate “25 Winning Years” in 2012
Coming off one of the strongest seasons in its quarter-decade history, Roush Fenway Racing will commemorate 2012 by celebrating its 25th Anniversary of racing at NASCAR’s highest levels. Roush Fenway kicked off its “25 Winning Years” program this week on Charlotte Motor Speedway’s annual media tour, where they asked media to name what it considers the top moment of the organization’s celebrated 24-year racing history. “We’ve had a number of critical milestones since we started in 1988,” said team co-owner Jack Roush. “I looked around the room at the media tour at all the trophies we had on display and there is a great deal of emotion that comes to mind when I see each piece. Each trophy has a different story and represents a different milestone and sacrifice. From the first win with Mark Martin at Rockingham in 1989 to our 299th win last season with Trevor Bayne in Texas, they all mean something. Along the way we’ve won multiple championships in all three NASCAR series, with Greg (Biffle) getting the first two and Matt Kenseth getting our first Cup championship in 2003.” Since founding the company in 1988, Jack Roush has seen the organization amass a record 299 victories. Roush Fenway currently boasts 125 Sprint Cup wins and is the winningest team in both NASCAR’s Nationwide and Truck series’. To properly commemorate the season, Roush Fenway will celebrate four specific areas vital to the organization’s success in 2012; performance, people, partners and innovation. 

Speedway official: Judge overturned jury verdict
A Superior Court judge has overturned a jury verdict that would have forced New Hampshire Motor Speedway to pay nearly $1 million in damages to the Motor Racing Network, Inc., according to the speedway’s general manager. “We really feel like we went through the legal system and that justice was done,” Jerry Gappens, who also is the speedway’s executive vice president, said. In late September, a Merrimack County Superior Court ordered the speedway to pay Motor Racing Network $993,724 in damages for an alleged termination of a broadcasting agreement without three years’ notice. Judge Richard B. McNamara had ruled prior to the trial that the agreement between the parties was not an enforceable contract, but allowed the case to go to trial solely on the issue of whether New Hampshire Speedway made a promise to Motor Racing Network, that the radio broadcaster relied on that promise and incurred damages as a result of its being broken. The speedway immediately appealed the jury’s verdict to McNamara; on Thursday he reversed it, Gappens said. “I was stunned in September. I walked out of the courtroom in disbelief,” he said. “I wasn’t surprised today, but I’m certainly very pleased.” According to court records, Motor Racing Network broadcast races at the speedway from approximately 1990 through 2008. Speedway Motorsports Inc. bought the track in January 2008 and replaced Motor Racing Network with its own radio network, Performance Racing Network, according to court records. 

Open testing for repaved tracks
NASCAR said there will be open tests at Michigan International Speedway, Pocono Raceway and Kansas Speedway, all of which are being repaved this year. The sessions will occur a few weeks before the event or on the Thursday before the race.

From USA Today read further within the article for information.

No more ‘secret’ fines by NASCAR
UPDATE – NASCAR CEO Brian France said Thursday the sanctioning body still would fine its members for disparaging the sport in the wake of abolishing its policy of private punishments. “If you challenge the integrity of the sport, we’re going to deal with that,” France said. “What’s really interesting is I can’t tell you how many owners or drivers come up to me and say, ‘Thanks for doing that because some of these comments were irresponsible and unhelpful to growing the sport.’ Now having said that, you can be critical of things you don’t think we’re doing well, in particular a race call. You can say, ‘I don’t think I was speeding; I disagree with that.’ We understand that. It’s when you go after the integrity of the sport is where we will step in, and they will be public.” In the past two years, Denny Hamlin, Brad Keselowski and Ryan Newman were punished for making comments (or in Hamlin’s case, posting on twitter) that NASCAR deemed detrimental to its brand. Keselowski privately was fined $25,000 for criticizing the switch to fuel injection during a fan forum at the NASCAR Hall of Fame last November. When news of the penalty leaked, it drew plenty of derision from fans and news media. “In terms of going public with it, we didn’t have a real strong position on that,” France said. “It seemed to bother some people in November when we talked about this. So we didn’t feel strongly (about the fines being private). If (making them public) is something that people think is a good thing, we were happy to do it.”

From USA Today

WIX Filters to sponsor Newman
WIX Filters announced plans to be the primary sponsor for Ryan Newman of Stewart-Haas Racing for four races during the 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup series season. WIX Filters will debut its primary sponsorship of Newman and his #39 Chevy at the season kick-off Budweiser Shootout at Daytona International Speedway on February 28. WIX will be Newman’s primary sponsor for three additional NASCAR Sprint Cup series events this year at Phoenix on March 4, Darlington on May 12 and Michigan on August 19. “Ryan Newman, Stewart-Haas Racing and their fans bring tremendous enthusiasm and excitement to the racing season,” said Mike Harvey, brand manager for WIX Filters. “We can’t wait to be onboard with them again in 2012. Our partnerships with Stewart-Haas Racing and Ryan have been some of our most successful in racing thanks to the support offered by the team and the way Ryan’s fans have embraced our brand.” WIX has been the Official Filter for Stewart-Haas Rcing since the team’s creation in 2009. In three starts with WIX Filters on the hood of the #39, Newman has three top-ten finishes a sixth-place effort at Bristol Motor Speedway in August 2010, a third-place finish in last season’s Budweiser Shootout in Daytona International Speedway and a fifth-place effort at Michigan International Speedway in August 2011. “I’m excited to have WIX Filters back as a partner in 2012,” said Newman. “They have a great support program, find cool ways to get fans involved and most importantly provide us with superior filters to protect our engines.” 


Wurth Group joins #2 as associate sponsor
Penske Racing welcomes a new partner to its NASCAR Nationwide series program in 2012 as the Wurth Group will sponsor the Dodge Challenger driven by Sam Hornish, Jr. The #12 Wurth Dodge will be featured as primary sponsor in seven races as it marks the beginning of a multi-year partnership between Wurth and Penske Racing. Wurth will also be an associate sponsor for the remaining twenty-six Nationwide series races and also as an associate sponsor of the #2 Miller Lite Dodge in the Sprint Cup series. A leading supplier of high-quality automotive and industrial parts, cabinet supplies and fasteners, Wurth has more than 40,000 customers across the nation. With Wurth on board as a sponsor for 2012, Hornish and the #12 team will compete for the full Nationwide series season, racing with Alliance Truck Parts as a partner as well.

From Penske Racing

UPDATE – After only running a hand of events in the NASCAR Nationwide series in 2011, Sam Hornish Jr. will run the entire schedule in 2012 thanks to increased support from Alliance Truck Parts and a new Partnership with Wurth Group. Alliance Truck Parts will increase its primary sponsorship role on the #12 Penske Racing Dodge Challenger from six to twenty-six events in 2012. Wurth Group, a German-based automotive and industrial supply company, will be the primary sponsor of the car in seven events and an associate sponsor in the other twenty-six. 

From Charlotte Motor Speedway Media Tour notes

Sad News – Harold Pearson
Harold D. Pearson, 78 of Chesterfield, VA passed away on Tuesday, January 24, 2012. He is survived by his loving wife, Diane C. Pearson; son, Christopher (Michelle) Pearson; sister Shirley (Jimmy) Mayes; granddaughters, Pauline and Nora; grandson, Atticus; and a niece, Jackie Putnam. Harold was a retired sportswriter for the Richmond Times-Dispatch. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests memorial contributions be made to the Richmond Animal League, 11401 International Dr., Richmond, VA 23236 

From Richmond Times-Dispatch

Lanny Wadkins dealt with hundreds of journalists on a regular basis during his illustrious professional golf career. One of them, former Richmond Times-Dispatch staffer Harold Pearson, stood out to Wadkins. “I don’t think, with all of the sportswriters I’ve met or come across, I’ve ever felt like I trusted someone as much as I did Harlod,”  Wadkins, a Richmond native, said.  “He knew when I’d had a bad day, give me a little space. He understood. There aren’t many (sportswriters) I considered friends. I definitely considered Harold a friend.” Mr. Pearson, a Times-Dispatch sports staffer from 1965 to 1996, died Tuesday evening at 78 after a period of declining health. In addition to NASCAR and golf, sports on which his work focused, Mr. Pearson wrote about college and high school athletics. “During my time at the T-D, Harold was an integral part of our sports coverage,” said Bill Millsaps, Times-Dispatch sports editor from 1973 to 1991. “He had good contacts in his areas of responsibility golf and NASCAR and he used them to educate and entertain our readers.” Millsaps added that Mr. Pearson “was a kind and caring man,” a compliment seconded by Wadkins. For decades, Mr. Pearson reported on elite professional golf events, and is remembered by Wadkins as “someone who cared about the game of golf. More importantly, he cared about the people he wrote about, which made him truly special. “He left a nice legacy, he really did.”  Following his time at the Times-Dispatch, Mr. Pearson edited Virginia Golfer, the official publication of the Virginia State Golf Association.

From Richmond Times-Dispatch

Harold Pearson was part of the “in crowd” in NASCAR when I first showed up at Daytona in 1980. He was a good friend of recent Hall of Fame inductee Tom Higgins, then the dean of stock car sports writers, and his close corhort, Steve Waid, also a Hall of Famer in my book. These guys knew just about everything there was to know about what was then a southern sport. They knew the drivers, crew chiefs, car owners and most of the secrets. To become a functioning writer in those days, you had to get to know the insiders and, somehow, become one of them. Harold Pearson, who worked for the Richmond  Times-Dispatch, was one of the first of that crowd to accept me as a colleague and give me the kind of guidance that I needed. He was a fine writer and, beyond that, Harold was fun to be around. 

From Mike Harris/Racin Today

Hendrick says deal with #51 team doesn’t circumvent four-team cap
Rick Hendrick bristled at the suggestion that his Hendrick Motorsports team might be seen as gaining an unfair advantage through its relationship with #51 Phoenix Racing and owner James Finch. Hendrick, who says Finch has been a “good friend and a good engine customer” through the years, scoffed at the idea that the single-car team is a satellite operation of his own four-team program and might be seen as a fifth entry for the ten-time championship group. “Every car he runs, he owns, “Hendrick said of Finch. “Every motor he gets, he pays for.” Phoenix Racing is a single-car operation in NASCAR’s Sprint Cup series, and has typically fielded cars for select evetns each season. The Spartanburg, SC-based team, which has purchased chassis and leased engines from Hendrick in the past, did compete in all thirty-six races in 2011, however, with four drivers. Now that Kurt Busch, the 2004 Cup champion, has joined the #51 team, Hendrick said the change could result in a move to a more proven product as far as engines are concerned. Since 2006, NASCAR has allowed team owners to field no more than four full-time teams, with an exception for an organization that seeks to field a fifth car on a limited basis for an up-and-coming driver. Organizations such as Hendrick, Richard Childress Racing and Roush Fenway Racing (through its Roush Yates Engines group) provide such assistance, at a price. In return, in addition to any monetary profits (such as any vendor would receive) such programs can provide feedback and validation for the hardware being supplied. Owners cannot receive financial consideration based on the performance of those cars to which they provide services, and they may not have an ownership stake in the team or teams. NASCAR can ask to look at contracts and other financial documentation that show the pricing is legitimate.

From Scene Daily

Allmendinger wins Rolex 24 at Daytona
On his ninth attempt, team owner Michael Shank finally captured America’s most prestigious sports car race, the 50th Anniversary Rolex 24 at Daytona. The team of Oswaldo Negri, John Pew, AJ Allmendinger and Justin Wilson in the #60 Michael Shank Racing with Curb-Agajanian Ford Riley survived a tight battle for the lead in the final hours to take home the grueling twice-around-the-clock challenge. Finishing a few seconds behind the #60 Ford was the pole-winning #8 Starworks Motorsport Ford Riley and Ryan Dalziel, Alex Popow, Lucas Luhr, Allan McNish and Enzo Potolicchio. Shank Racing took the final spot on the podium with the #6 Ford Riley with Michael McDowell, Jorge Concalvez, Gustavo Yacaman and Sunoco Rolex 24 Driver Challenge winner Felipe Nasr. In the competitive GT class, the #44 Magnus Racing Porosch with John Potter, Andy Lally, Richard Lietz and Rene Rast were victorious.

From Daytona International Speedway 

As we realign the daily and weekly feature of News and Views, this volume covers January 24th through January 29th. And the weekly feature will now run from Monday through Sunday.  Next week’s volume 11 will begin with Monday, January 30th’s news.  

As always, Thanks for reading and participating.  

The pendulum swings for NASCAR and the Burton family

Have you ever had the feeling of the pendulum swinging too far right or left?  And then as the pendulum hits its limit on either side, and begins the swing back in the opposite direction, there’s that brief moment in the center when all is right with the world.

That’s the feeling that appears to be permeating within the NASCAR world this year. There are a lot of unknowns with the upcoming season as the pendulum makes its way to the other side. Fans have certainly witnessed many changes occurring within NASCAR, and perhaps some of these changes are adjusting the sport with it’s past.

The Media Tour this week has presented many exciting news events, including the introduction of the 2013 Ford Fusion looking more like the street car version and returning the true sense of the term “stock car” to racing is just one example. Actually, when you think about it, the idea of NASCAR encouraging the manufacturers to bring back the concept of “stock car” is a good example of blending the past with the future and of the pendulum swinging ever so gently within the sport of NASCAR racing. 

For some fans, that “all is right with the world” feeling was realized upon hearing the news of Ward Burton’sreturn to the track in the Camping World Truck series at Daytona. It will indeed be heart-warming to see him again in the sunshine state as a former Daytona 500 winner, but also as Richard Childress Racing driver Jeff Burton’s brother and 19-year-old Jeb Burton’s dad. Coincidentally, this announcement comes 31 – Jeff’s car number – days prior to the 500, which Ward won ten years ago, also driving a car sponsored by Caterpillar. 

Again, you get the sense of the past meeting up with the future because along with the announcement of Ward racing in Daytona, is the news of his son Jeb Burton debuting his NASCAR career in the Camping World Truck series later in the season. Ironically, Ward will be racing in the “NextEra” Energy 250 truck series event at Daytona. 

A very happy Ward Burton
(photo from Richmond Times Dispatch )
“I am real excited about the things we have going on with Mike Hillman Sr. and his program.  I think this is a real good thing for Jeb and his career,” Burton said in a statement. “Hillman Sr. is building a great team of people and we are hoping that we can bring some additional marketing partners on board with us to make this program a huge success.”

On the pit box for the #27 will be Richmond native Trip Bruce, who worked with Ward at Bill Davis Racing in the Sprint Cup series. For the season, Ward and Jeb will share the ride at Hillman Racingwith Ward making some starts throughout the truck series schedule. Jeb Burton will find himself behind the wheel in his first Camping World Truck series race, the Kroger 250 at Martinsville on March 31st. 

Jeb Burton after his August 2011 Win
(photo from Short Track Action)
“I’m excited to race in the truck series,” Jeb Burton said in a statement. “This is a big step from the NASCAR Whelen series but I’m ready for it. I am comfortable with my crew chief Trip Bruce and team of guys here at Hillman Racing.”

The NextEra Energy 250 is February 24th at Daytona. As the NASCAR pendulum continues its transition, so will the transition continue for the Burton family.  

There is no family relationship between the author and the Burtons’ referenced in this blog. 
Thanks for reading.

Daytona 500 will be won by tandem style racing

Unless more changes are implemented by NASCAR, it’s fair to say that tandem style racing will be a part of the season opening Daytona 500. During preseason testing at Daytona, teams were still working in tandem, despite off-season changes to the cars. Restrictor plates, spoilers, cooling systems, and softer rear springs have been altered for the purpose of breaking up the tandem style racing.

Car-to-car communication has also been banned in 2012 to make the strategy involved more difficult. Ultimately though, teams were still able to run in tandem, only under more difficult circumstances. NASCAR’s changes have made the pushing car run hotter in a shorter amount of time than in previous races. This creates the need for cars to change positions more often thus making the tandem less effective. However, even if only for a couple of laps, tandem racing can be done. In fact, even racing in tight packs throughout the race may also cause heating problems, meaning the field may be rather spread out at times.

Pre-race planning will take an even greater role. While teams have always planned things out ahead of time, it will be even more important given the limited radio communication. Teams will need to utilize practice time to work with their selected drafting partners to find out what works well and what doesn’t as far as who the better pusher is, how long they can stay in tandem, and timing for working their way through the pack. This way, the drivers can discuss their strategy prior to the race since they won’t be able to during the race.

Spotters at work in Daytona
(Photo from Getty Images)

Spotters and pit road members will play an even greater role as well. If drivers need to communicate with each other, they will have to have their messages relayed. This means team members will spend a lot of time running up and down pit road and have their spotters most likely positioned next to their partners’ spotter. Teams were already doing this, but it’s of even greater importance now, especially in the event that one of the cars in the tandem falls out of the race. Spotters will need to scramble and help find their driver a new drafting partner. Ultimately, this would throw all pre-race planning out of the window, but at least still give teams a chance late in the race. Another form of communication likely to be used will be hand signals, which will be one of the quickest ways to send a message to the driver of the pushing car.

Given all of these changes, it’s likely that the 2012 Daytona 500 will have pack racing for most of the event, which is the hope of NASCAR and many fans. However, there’s no question that tandem racing is still the fastest way around the track, meaning it will be what needs to be done to win the race. In the late stages of the event, cars will most likely be in tandem, pushing steam, and running on edge. At that point, it’s all about winning the Daytona 500, and tandem racing is still the best way to get it done. Will there be more changes? Most likely, however it’s going to be difficult to completely eliminate the tandem racing.

News and Views – Volume 9

For the week of January 23 – Volume 9

This week’s News and Views is packed with entries throughout the past week.  So we’ll get right to the news without much ado.

For the coming week watch for more news forthcoming from the Media Tour taking place in Charlotte NC this week and announcements from Ward and Jeb Burton on Thursday, January 26th. 

Now on to the past week’s news… 

Engine builders pleased with fuel injection results from Daytona test
There wasn’t much talk about fuel injection during the three-day test last week in Daytona International Speedway.  And for NASCAR officials, that’s a good thing.  After more than a year of work, they hoped that teams are comfortable with the new system, which will debut in the Daytona 500 and be used throughout the 2012 season.  It appeared that for the most part, Sprint Cup teams were comfortable with their base packages during the three-day test.  

The test last week also brought to light some fuel injection rules:

·       Teams have the option of whether to use an electric or cable fuel pump. The Fords are using a cable while other manufacturers are using electric fuel pumps. NASCAR also recently increased the number of electric lift pumps inside the fuel tank from one to two, making it easier to fuel the car while it is on heavy banking.

·        If teams have problems in race conditions, they will not be allowed to plug their computers into the system on pit road.  They will have to go to the garage. NASCAR Vice President of Competition, Robin Pemberton said it would be a safety issue to have teams plug into the systems on pit road.

·        Teams, as well as NASCAR, will be allowed to tap into the information throughout the race weekend.  After each race weekend, NASCAR will distribute information on all teams’ maps.

NASCAR family member (JC France) sued for $18,000 vet bill
A Port Orange, FL veterinary clinic is suing race car driver JC France, grandson of NASCAR’s founder, for an $18,000 vet bill they say is owed, even though France’s dog died.  Phantom was a 2-year-old boxer taken to Ravenswood Veterinary Clinic on Clyde Morris Boulevard on August 17, according to court records. The dog had eaten “a shish kabob stick,” France’s lawyer Dave Robinson said.  In spite of surgery and other medical care that ran up a bill of nearly $30,000, Phantom died.  A member of the France family paid $10,000 with a credit card on August 25, records show.  But the Ravenswood clinic and Mark C. Anderson, the veterinarian, claim they are still owed the rest.  Last month, James Hattaway, a lawyer from Longwood representing the vet clinic, wrote JC France saying the “appreciated” the partial payment.  But, Hattaway added, the clinic wants the rest of what is owed.  The five-page complaint was filed in circuit court last week.  France’s lawyer, Robinson insists the vet bill is high, especially considering the outcome.

Cambensy takes it to the next level with Level 1 Motorsports for 2012
Level 1 Motorsports is pleased to announce its new driver in the NASCAR Camping World Truck series, Tucson, AZ’s Cody Cambensy.  Level 1 Motorsports will be taking the track in 2012 with their newly developed team.  He has one prior start in the Camping World Truck series. Level 1 Motorsports is owned and operated by James Martin and Jim Blankenbaker.  Between the both of them they bring over 40 years of racing experience and have been a mainstay in NASCAR racing for quite some time. Cambensy will be taking the wheel of the #53 truck starting with Martinsville Speedway in March. Level 1 Motorsports plans to run as many races possible with Cody in 2012 to prepare for 2013. Level 1 Motorsports and Cody Cambensy will be working to announce their sponsors, manufacturer and schedule for 2012 in weeks to come.

Texas Motor Speedway creating Fan Council
Texas Motor Speedway will bolster its communication with its guests by creating the speedway’s first fan council and utilizing their feedback and recommendations to enhance future experiences for all patrons at the world-class motorsports facility. The Texas Motor Speedway Fan Council will consist of twenty to thirty fans that will be active in providing constructive feedback with speedway management throughout the upcoming race season. The fan council will be comprised of a diverse group that includes PSL holders, individual ticket purchasers, suite holders, campers, etc. ranging from the veteran fan to the novice. An online application will be available on Texas Motor Speedway website for fans interested in being a candidate for the TMS Fan Council.  Fans also can print and mail the application to the speedway and should be mailed no later than February 6, 2012 to ensure arrival by the February 10th deadline.  Selections will be made February 15thand members will be notified no later than February 17th.  Fan Council members for 2012 will serve a term from February 17 – November 15, 2012.  Once the term expires, new members will be chosen for the following season.

Key Motorsports announces some 2012 plans
The Motorsports Group announced the availability of several positions as the team prepares for the rapidly approaching NASCAR Nationwide series season.  The four-car operation will race in all thirty-three scheduled events with drivers Josh Wise, Chase Miller, Erik Darnell and Scott Speed piloting Chevy Impalas. Veteran NASCAR crew chief Gary Showalter is overseeing day-to-day activities of the organization and is seeking qualified mechanics, fabricators and truck drivers who are ready to start work immediately.  Showalter says the company will hire at least ten additional people during the next few days. 

From TheCatchfence  

Bruton Smith Honored at 2012 NC Motorsports Industry Awards
Bruton Smith, founder and CEO of Speedway Motorsports, Inc., was honored Monday evening with the 2012 Achievement in Motorsports Tribute Award from the North Carolina Motorsports Association. The honor was given to Smith before a large crowd of motorsports industry professionals at the 6th Annual North Carolina Motorsports Industry Awards presented by Senn Dunn Insurance at the Embassy Suites and Convention Center in Concord.  Smith joins previous Tribute Award recipients, Bill France Jr., Benny Parsons, Richard Petty, Richard Childress, Dale Earnhardt Sr., and Junior Johnson.  David Pools, longtime Charlotte Observer motorsports writer, was honored (posthumously) with the Media Recognition Award. The award was accepted by Poole’s widow Katy (Poole) and Mike Persinger, Executive Sports Editor for the Charlotte Observer. 
In addition, seven industry companies were awarded for their 2011 accomplishments and positive impacts to the Motorsports Industry:
Bruton Smith, Achievement in Motorsports Tribute Award, David Poole, Media Recognition Award, G-Force, Racing Gear, Industrial Hard Carbon, JRi Shocks, Lake Norman Elementary School Pit Crew, NASCAR Whelen All-American Series, Racing Electronics, Richmond County Tourism Authority


Sports Clips to sponsor Hamlin at Darlington
Sports Clips Haircuts will sponsor a total of eight races during the 2012 NASCAR season, including the Sprint Cup series race in Darlington with the #11 Sports Clips Toyota driven by Denny Hamlin nd seven additional Nationwide series races.  This is the fourth year Sports Clips has been a sponsor with JGR and the eight total races (seven Nationwide and one Cup) is the most the organization has ever sponsored in a single season.  In addition to the Darlington Sprint Cup series race, Sports Clips will appear on JGR’s #18 and #20 Nationwide series Toyota a total of seven times in 2012 with drivers Denny Hamlin and Joey Logano.

From Scene Daily   
Watch for this announcement at Joe Gibbs Racing
NASCAR Chief Breaks some News in B&C Cover Story
NASCAR CEO Brian France recently sat down for an interview with Broadcasing & Cablethat covered a variety of subjects:
You say you’re pretty aggressive about what your TV partners need to do for NASCAR.  What do you want from them?
We are always the sport that is under-covered given the ratings and size of the events. In particular, ESPN, they just have so many platforms. So we are pushing real hard with them to have a more integrated approach. We have hired people to service them better, so we can help them accomplish that.  They have the most assets to be deployed; it doesn’t mean everyone else doesn’t have some big ones and good ones. We are going to work to make them a better partner.
Your TV deals are up in 2014, but when do your negotiating windows open with your current partners?
Not for a little while, but we are having conversations, because a lot of our partners have been clear they would prefer to renew. All things being equal, our first hope is that the incumbents to renew…I think (talks) could heat up at any time, that’s my sense.  It’s not cold now, we are having conversations, my sense is things will happen sooner rather than later, and sooner than they normally would in a cycle of renewals.
Are you going to change the post-season Chase format?
I think I’d be shot if I changed the format, frankly. We are not going to change the format.
How much does it hurt that Dale Earnhardt Jr., your most marketable driver, doesn’t win races?
It hurts. It hurts. He is trying to win and get his team to have the confidence to not only win one but rip off more.  He did improve and made the Chase, he’s a big franchise, he’s the most popular driver in NASCAR, so it would help us if he would win.
Everyone talks about creating superstars, but does your sport need villains?
I think some version of a villain, yeah. I think you need people tha no one cheers for, I think that’s healthy. But there are limits to that. It’s great when there is someone that acts different, has a little bit of bravado, that is typically good. 

Patrick, Bayne still among those who don’t have Daytona 500 spot
The big question that continued throughout testing was whether or not Danica Patrick would be locked into the Daytona 500, or Mark Martin, or Trevor Bayne.  It likely will be a few weeks before teams know the answer.  With Red Bull Racing having closed, there could still be a deal done for the points earned by the #4 car (14th) and the #83 (25th) last year. If those points aren’t used, next in line is the closed TRG Motorsports #71 car. If it does not enter and a deal is not done to use those points, next in line are the Woods Brothers #21 car (Trevor Bayne) and Robby Gordon Motorsports #7 car, which Gordon will drive in the Daytona 500. Among those looking for points are Stewart-Haas Racing and Michael Waltrip Racing.  There has been speculation that Stewart Haas would put together a deal with Tommy Baldwin Racing, possibly for points from the #36 car (33rd in 2011 owner points) to be transferred to Patrick.  But it also could include a partnership where TBR would field a #10 car for David Reutimann in the 26 races in which Patrick doesn’t compete, thus allowing that car to continue to earn owner points all season.  MWR attempted to purchase Red Bull for the points and equipment, but that deal fell through. Team co-owner Michael Waltrip said last week no final determination of which two of his three drivers would have the MWR points from 2011, but it is expected those would go to the two drivers competing for the drivers’ championship – #56-Martin Truex Jr. and #15-Clint Bowyer – while #55-Mark Martin would have to get in the race on speed.  It appears that Richard Childress Racing will enter a fourth car for the Daytona 500 and use its points from the #33 car last year.  That fourth car would only run a handful of races throughout the year, possibly with Austin Dillon for select events although RCR could put in a more experienced driver such as Elliott Sadler or Brian Vickers for the Daytona 500.

Kurt Busch will run for 2012 Cup championship
Despite recent speculation to the contrary, Kurt Busch confirmed Tuesday he will compete for the Sprint Cup championship under the Phoenix Racing banner.  Some reports suggested that Busch, 33, was considering racing for the Nationwide series championship rather than the Cup title.  Busch will also run a limited Nationwide series schedule for Phoenix Racing in 2012.

Rice name as crew chief for Townley’s truck series team
RAB Racing with Brack Maggard has named Chris Rice as crew chief for John Wes Townley’s #09 Toyota Tundra for the 2012 Camping World Truck series season. Rice, a former race-winning crew chief in the NASCAR Nationwide series has experience atop the pit box in all three of NASCAR’s top divisions since 2003.  In his most recent stint serving as crew chief for a Camping World Truck series team, Rice garnered one top-five and two top-tens in fifteen starts with driver Shelby Howard in 2008.

From SpeedTV  
Charlotte Season Ticket Package offers Fans unmatched value
Charlotte Motor Speedway is launching its new NASCAR season ticket package for 2012 and fans who attend the NASCAR Preview 2012 presented by Sprint in Charlotte, NC on Saturday, January 21 will have the first opportunity to purchase the new package and learn more about the speedway’s 2012 fan amenities. 

Poynt returning to Rick Ware Racing, one of America’s fastest growing free mobile apps will be returning to RWR for the full 2012 NASCAR Nationwide series. “Poynt came on board the last eight races of the season and we are proud to be part of their growth.  They were part of te history with Timmy Hill winning the Sunoco Rookie of the Year battle.  Timmy Hill will also be returning to the series he found breakout success in during the 2011 season. Timmy ran thirty-two races without a crash, all of the time showing impressive speed and a quick learning curve.  He is ready to contend for top-fives and soon enough wins.  2012 is going to be a great year for everyone at RWR” stated Rick Ware.  RWR will be announcing the remainder of its NASCAR series line up including other drivers and schedules later this week.

Watch for more announcements from Rick Ware Racing
Carpentier would consider running Montreal race
Patrick Carpentier’s Nationwide debut at Montreal’s Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in 2007 saw him start on pole but finish second to Sprint Cup regula Kevin Harvick.  A year later he was runner up again, this time to Mississauga, Ontario’s Ron Fellows. He also tried Sprint Cup in 2008 with Gillett Evernham Motorsports but the team struggled to get into the top-twenty on most days, although Carpentier did take a pole for the team in Loudon, NH.  And while he is officially retired, Carpentier wouldn’t rule out racing in Montreal this summer in the August NAPA Auto Parts 200. Should he return to the cockpit for the Nationwide series race, it would be to raise cash for research into neonatal disorders, which has been the beneficiary of his track efforts of late.  “Montreal would be the only race I would do and I would give most of the money to children’s charities, St. Justin’s Hospital (Montreal) helped Anais quite a bit when she was young and I want to give back,” said Carpentier, whose daughter was born with a malformed pancreas but now lives a normal life due to the work of her doctors.  “If the TV show works out, it will be part of that too.  And it looks like it is going to happen, so I will probably race in Montreal, but that would be the only one.”

Gresham to promote Made in USA debuts at Daytona with ARCA & Trucks
NASCAR driver Max Gresham today announced a promotional association with the Made in USA Brand Certification Mark for the 2012 racing season.  Gresham who will compete for Rookie of the Year honors in the NASCAR Camping World Truck series this season, indicated the association will debut at Daytona International Speedway next month.  Developed by Marcie Gabor, President, Made in USA Brand, a principal at Conrad Phillips Butech, a branding and marketing firm located in Columbus, OH, the Made in USA Brand Certification Mark is the only certification mark for identifying goods either made or grown in the United States registered with the United States Patent and Trademark Office.  According to Jim Vutech, principal at Conrad Phillips Vutech, the association with Gresham will provide the Made in USA Brand Certification Mark an opportunity to build awareness of the symbol among millions of patriotic businesses and fans that support American motorsports.  Race fans interested in pledging, along with Max, to purchase made in USA manufactured goods, can log on to Pledge for USA. Gresham will open his 2012 racing season when he wheels the #9 Made in USA Brand Chevrolet in the Automobile Racing Club of America (ARCA) Lucas Oil Slick Mist 200 at Daytona International Speedway on Saturday, February 18. The event will tke the green flag at 4:30 pm ET and will be shown live on SPEED. Gresham will then turn his sights to the NASCAR Camping World Truck series where he will pilot the #24 Made in the USA Brand/Joe Denette Motorsports Chevrolet Silverado in a 250-mile test at Daytona.

Bayne, Wood Brothers plan less than 20 races for 2012
Just as it was a year ago, Bayne’s Cup outlook consists of fewer than twenty scheduled starts with a tem that continues to refuse to extend itself without the proper funding, choosing quality rather than quantity when it comes to opportunities at the race track.  The 2011 Daytona 500 victory opened doors – Bayne and the team eventually made a total of seventeen starts las year – but success didn’t follow.  While he qualified well on the big tracks, Bayne scored no more top-tens and finished only one other race, at Talladega, in the top-fifteen.  A member of the Roush Fenway Racing stable, where he competed for the Nationwide series title in 2011, Bayne closed the year uncertain of his future as sponsorship concerns muddied the racing waters for the Roush Fenway program and left his status for 2012 questionable.

Bristol Fan Advisory Board accepting new member applications
Bristol Motor Speedway, the first NASCAR Sprint Cup series sanctioned facility to institute an advisory group made up of fans, now is taking applications for its Fan Advisory Board. Formed in 2006, Bristol’s Fan Advisory Board is a group of loyal fans who provide feedback and new ideas that aid in the growth and development of the Speedway, and its ability to exceed expectations by delivering the ultimate fan experience. Fans may apply online through Tuesday, January 31, 2012. Via online communication and annual meetings, the Fan Advisory Board targets visible issues, identifies challenges and presents ideas to enhance and better the “Bristol Experience.” The board is comprised of thirty-forty members, consisting of a demographic cross-section of fans.  Correspondence and meetings include Bristol senior level management to ensure action items are fulfilled and executed in the vision of the board.  Board members serve a “rotational” term that includes three NASCAR race weekends at Bristol Motor Speedway. After serving for three NASCAR race weekends, members rotate off, and new members are appointed.

From BMS   

Turn One Racing to field Cup team
Turn One Racing announced they will field a Sprint Cup series car in 2012, starting with the Subway Fresh Fit 500 at Phoenix International Raceway on Sunday, March 4th. The team is building on the experience earned over the last three years of competition in the Camping World Truck series, where the team earned a ninth place finish in the 2011 standings with driver Cole Whitt. “This is a great opportunity for Turn One Racing,” said team owner, Stacy Compton. “It has always been our objective to grow the team and this is just the next step in that plan. We have a great group of partners behind us and feel like we are talking all the right steps to build a very competitive Sprint Cup team.” Compton’s team has purchased cars from Richard Childress Racing and plans are in the works to race eight to ten events in their freshman year. The team will attempt the remaining races, excluding the 200-lap Daytona 500.  “We have partnered with one of our long-time supporters to run a handful of races this year.  We’re also working on additional sponsorship that would enable us to run more races thoughout the year.”

On January 21st, Compton confirmed that he has formed an alliance with Richard Childress Racing that could result in a minimum eight-race schedule. “I know we’re going to run Kentucky,” Compton said.  “We’re going to run Indianapolis for sure at this point. And we’ve got our eye on Texas as well.” Compton has been in communication with RCR general manager Mike Dillon in his efforts to create a Cup program, with the idea of starting small and growing as sponsorship money becomes available. Compton’s goal at this point is to concentrate on short tracks – namely Martinsville, Bristol, Richmond and Dover. Compton said at least one sponsor is on board with the project, but he declined to identify it at this point. “It’s a partner that we’ve had in the past and has supported me for many years,” Compton said. “They want to make sure they get their ducks in a row first before we make any announcements on it.” If more sponsorship can be obtained – and Compton indicted there were talks under way – the team could run as many as fifteen races. So who will be behind the wheel? Compton said that’s still to be determined.

McDowell to announce 2012 plans soon
Announced January 10th, Michael McDowell plans to moonlight in the Rolex 24 at Daytona.  The current entry list includes, Jamie McMurray, Juan Pablo Montoya and AJ Allmendinger in Daytona Prototypes and Michael Waltrip in a GT-class Ferrari.

McDowell says he’ll be back in the #18 car in 2012 for five Nationwide races with plans for him to race at Road America, Watkins Glen, Michigan and Iowa twice.  On the Sprint Cup side, McDowell says he’ll be back full-time with Phil Parsons Racing (formerly HP Racing). He isn’t sure what number he’ll have this year, but he does know that they are making change to Ford this coming season, powered by Roush-Yates engines.  And they have found enough sponsorship to race the first five races of the season, rather than resorting to a start and park situation.

According to the #46 Whitney Motorsports facebook page on January 21st , “Whitney Motorsports has joined forces with Phil Parsons Racing to field a Sprint Cup car for Michael McDowell, we are remaining with Ford and are hoping for a great season and some sponsorship to join us here in 2012.
Go Green Racing Signs Paul and Tim Andrews in forming a Cup Team
Go Green Racing announced the addition of Paul and Tim Andrews to an already impressive list of talented crew members to Go Green Racing for the 2012 NASCAR season.  Paul Andrews, a former NASCAR Sprint Cup series champion crew chief will lead the #19 Go Green Racing Ford Fusion in the Cup series beginning at Bristol Motor Speedway on March 16th.  Bristol Motor Speedway will also mark the first Sprint Cup series attempt for Tim Andrews.  Following Bristol, the team expects to compete in an additional ten NSCS races.  Tim Andrews is also scheduled to compete in select Nationwide series races as driver of the #37 Go Green Racing Ford Mustang.  Calling the shots as crew chief on the #37 will be Dave Ingram.  Ingram joins Go Green Racing after serving as crew chief for MacDonald Motorsports last season.  Go Green Racing has purchased their NSCS cars from Roush Fenway Racing and will run the Roush/Yates FR9 motor at all 2012 Cup races.

From Rotoworld 
Danica informed Andretti she was leaving IndyCar a year ago
Andretti Autosport was far more prepared for the exodus of driver Danica Patrick than most anyone expected.  At a pre-season IndyCar test at Sebring International Raceway on Tuesday, team owner Michael Andretti said Patrick, as required by the terms of her final contract with his team, informed him early last year that she would not return. “January of ’11 she had to let us know what she was doing for ’12,” Andretti said.  “We purposely put it in the contract so in case she decided to leave, we had time. I’m glad we did that.” Ptrick signed a two-year deal with Andretti Autosport in 2009.  It contained a mutual option for 2012.  She asserted throughout the summer, with cover from Andretti, that her business team was exploring “all options,” including returning to Andretti and IndyCar.

Carmichael, “Rug Pulled Out from Under” in KBM/Monster Energy deal
Multi-time AMA Motocross and supercross champion-turned NASCAR driver Ricky Carmichael says he is uncertain of his plans for 2012, after sponsor Monster Energy elected to back brothers Kyle and Kurt Busch in a new Nationwide series effort. In an exclusive interview on Sirius XM NASCAR Radio’s SiriusXM Speedway with Dave Moody, Carmichael said he initially was assured the Monster Energy sponsorship would remain with him in 2012, and the twenty Nationwide series races announced for Kurt Busch were suppose to be his. “I had a handshake with the CEO of Monster Energy,” revealed Carmichael. “But the weekend of Texas (Motor Speedway), it went away. We were good to go, but when Kyle had his issue (at Texas), it all went sideways.” Carmichael said he believes his shot at retaining the Monster Energy sponsorship disappeared for good when Kurt Busch parted company with Penske Racing after the conclusion of the 2011 campaign.  Gradually, Carmichael said he realized KBM was not the right place for him. Carmichael said he feared his image would suffer from signing with Busch, adding, “I had a feeling that if I went there, I would lose fans. I was afraid people would say, ‘I used to like Ricky Carmichael, but now I don’t because he races for Kyle.’ I felt it wasn’t right for me. I need everything to be positive, and nothing negative. “I have no disrespect for Kyle Busch,” insisted Carmichael. “He’s a heck of a driver and he’s going to win a lot of races. I haven’t really come close to winning in NASCAR, so I’ve got no leg to stand on. I can’t complain about the decision. (Kyle and I) just have a different way of racing.” Carmichael said he maintains a friendly relationship with Monster Energy, and could continue with them in some capacity this season. “I have no issues with Monster whatsoever,” he said. “I’ll be part of their family forever. I feel like I played a huge (role) in bringing Monster to NASCAR in the first place.  They gave me the money and said, ‘Go find your best NASCAR deal.’ We won two or three Supercross titles together, and two or three outdoor championships.  They gave me some awesome opportunities over the years. I have nothing bad to say about them, they’ve been behind me 100% and always will be.” The former supercross champion said while he is trying to assemble a limited schedule of NASCAR racing for this season, his involvement will be “somewhat limited. It’s tough when you get the rug pulled out from under you in late December,” he said. “There’s not much to fall back on. It’s going to take some time to get things nailed down again, but hopefully, we can come back in 2013 and do it right. “Things happen for a reason,” said Carmichael. “Hopefully, this will open up some other avenues for me.”

Las Vegas race date changed
This year’s NASCAR Camping World Truck series event at Las Vegas Motor Speedway has been rescheduled for Saturday, September 29. The event was originally set for October 13. The date change was made due to the cancellation of the IndyCar event scheduled for October 14. “Running the race on October 13 would have necessitated a daytime event in order not to go head-to-head with the Saturday-night Sprint Cup race in Charlotte on the same day,” said LVMS president Chris Powell. “The date switch allows us to run the event under the lights, and that allows more people to attend the race. We appreciate NASCAR’s working with us to make this change.” The start time for the September 29 event is to be determined, but the event will run in the evening hours. The date change also returns the event to its more traditional late September slot on the series schedule.

From LVMS .com 
Darlington and California security teams receive award
One of the top priorities for Darlington Raceway each year is to make sure its race fans, competitors, media and others attending the NASCAR Sprint Cup series Southern 500 race weekend every May have a safe and enjoyable experience when they visit the track “Too Tough to Tame.” That priority did not go unnoticed by NASCAR as Darlington Raceway and its security director Mike Richardson, were honored by receiving the sanctioning bodies “Excellence in Service Award” for its top notch security efforts for the 2011 season.  Darlington was one of two tracks to accept NASCAR’s highest honor for its security efforts along with Auto Club Speedway in California

NASCAR welcomes 2012 Hall of Fame members
During an emotional induction ceremony Friday night at the NASCAR Hall of Fame, a pair of three-time champion drivers, racing’s quintessential crew chief, a founding father of the sport and the hands-down best modified driver who ever lived all took their rightful places among NASCAR’s elite. The third class of five NASCAR Hall of Fame inductees evidences no fall-off in quality from the two classes that preceded it in 2010 and 2011.  In fact, some would argue that the 2012 inductees all boast credentials worthy of consideration for an earlier welcome to the Hall.

Darrell Waltrip, for instance won three Sprint Cup titles and is tied for fourth on the career win list with eighty-four victories.

Cale Yarborough, the only driver to win three straight Cup titles before Jimmie Johnson equaled and then eclipsed the feat in the first decade of the 21st century, is sixth in all-time wins with eighty-three. As far as championships are concerned, Dale Inman is the most prolific winner among NASCAR crew chiefs, having accumulated seven Cup titles during his pioneering run at Petty Enterprises and a series-record eighth with driver Terry Labonte and owner Billy Hagan in 1984.

Glen Wood, who with brother Leonard Wood founded the most enduring team in the sport’s history, was an innovator who nurtured the careers of a litany of elite drivers, most notable among them Hall of Famers Yarborough and David Pearson.

Richie Evans, a nine-time modified champion, simply was without peer.  The “Rapid Roman” clinched his first NASCAR National Modified title in 1973. On October 24, 1985, a week after securing his ninth modified championship, Evans was killed in a crash during practice at Martinsville Speedway.  He was 44.

From NASCAR Wire Service

Army Veteran to Star in Sprint All-Star Race Commerical
For former drill sergeant and United States Army all-star, Derek Heavener, of Huntington, W.VA, the dream of being a NASCAR All-Star has come true thanks to Charlotte Motor Speedway.  Heavener, who wrote an essay detailing why he should be considered for the “Be an All-Star” Facebook contest, was selected as the grand-prize winner from more than 500 entries. “I’ve served my country honorably in the United States Army for nineteen years.  I’ve been deployed to Iraq, Afghanistan and Kosovo and have stood shoulder to shoulder with some of the greatest all-stars of our time; the American soldier,” wrote Heavener.  Heavener won two tickets to the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race on May 19, pre-race pit passes, VIP parking for the race and a role in CMS’s 2012 NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race commercial.  He will join NASCAR stars Mark Martin, Paul Menard, Junior Johnson and the 2011 NASCAR Sprint All-Star race winner Carl Edwards on the set for a behind-the-scenes look at one of NASCAR’s most creative commercials, shot in a replica Wild West town.  2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup series champion Tony Stewart, SPEED TV personality Jeff Hammond and NASCAR Hall of Famer Darrell Waltrip also will star in the commercial.

From CMS  

Pollen promoted to Director of Marketing at Infineon Raceway
Rachael Pollen has been promoted to Director of Marketing at Infineon Raceway, raceway officials announced.  In her new role, Pollen will help oversee the planning and execution of all marketing initiatives at the raceway, including the annual NASCAR Sprint Cup series, NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing series and IZOD IndyCar series race weekend. Pollen, 31, has been employed at Infineon Raceway since 1999, serving as Senior Manager of Marketing since 2006. 

From Infineon Raceway 

2012 Miss Sprint Cup Lineup Introduced
Thousands of fans met the 2012 Miss Sprint Cup lineup during the NASCAR Preview Presented by Sprint in Charlotte, NC. Sprint announced that returning members Kim Coon, Orlando FL and Jaclyn Roney, Ann Arbor, MI have been joined by newcomer Kristen Beat of El Cajon, CA. Coon, Roney and Beat make up the most geographically balanced Miss Sprint Cup lineup since the program’s inception in 2008, representing the Southeast, Midwest and West Coast. Miss Sprint Cup represents the Sprint brand around the track and in Victory Lane wherever the NASCAR Sprint Cup series competes.  The three representatives also serve as fans’ “friend on the inside,” delivering via Facebook and Twitter behind-the-scenes updates, pictures and video, while highlighting Sprint products and offers. Beat adds a Southern California flare to the Miss Sprint Cup lineup. The former Fuel TV on-air talent and extreme sports reporter grew up racing motocross bikes and was a big supporter of her brother’s pursuit of a professional racing career.  When she isn’t at the racetrack, Beat enjoys surfing, working out and honing her culinary skills with healthy recipes.  After receiving her communications degree from the University of San Diego, Beat pursued her dream of a career in broadcasting, eventually becoming the youngest credentialed reporter in the X-Games history.  Coon returns for her second season as Miss Sprint Cup, which makes the former marketing and public relations professional the veteran member of this year’s lineup.  Rounding out the 2012 lineup is Roney, who is entering her first full season as Miss Sprint Cup. The Eastern Michigan University grad joined the program in July 2011 as is looking forward to attending her first Daytona 500 next month.

From Sprint PR

American Ethanol to sponsor Austin Dillon in Cup race
In a nod to its commitment to the sport, American Ethanol announced at the NASCAR Preview fan event in Charlotte, NC, that it will continue relationships with Richard Childress Racing and RAB Racing for the 2012 season. Austin Dillon, 2011 NASCAR Camping World Truck series champion, will drive the iconic #3 Chevy during the 2012 Nationwide series season with American Ethanol serving as the primary sponsor for six races as well as one race in the Sprint Cup series in 2012.  Dillon’s #3 American Ethanol Chevy paint scheme was unveiled at the event. In addition to American Ethanol’s partnership with Dillon, the organization will serve as an associate sponsor with the entire RCR family of drivers.  Team owner Richard Childress as well as RCR’s Sprint Cup series veterans Kevin Harvick, Jeff Burton and Paul Menard will also serve as spokesmen for the cause. Kenny Wallace, who notched eleven top-ten finishes last year, will drive the #09 Toyota Camry in the NASCAR Nationwide series for RAB Racing.  American Ethanol will partner with Wallace for the Sprint Cup series Daytona 500, as well as five races in the Nationwide series.

RAB Racing to attempt Sprint Cup debut in Daytona 500 with Kenny Wallace
RAB Racing with Brack Maggard announced they will attempt to make their Sprint Cup series debut in the 54th-annual Daytona 500 on February 26, with driver Kenny Wallace behind the wheel of their #09 American Ethanol Toyota Camry. “Corn farmers are excited to continue our relationship with RAB Racing and Kenny Wallace in 2012,” said Garry Niemeyer, National Corn Growers Association president. “Kenny is a fan favorite and one of the most visible drivers in the sport. He has been an outspoken supporter of ethanol and Sunoco Green E15. He comes from the Midwest, so he truly appreciates the important role corn farmers play in providing consumers with a fuel that is made in America and provides jobs here at home.” Wallace will attempt to make his eleventh Daytona 500 start. His last start in the Great American Race came in 2008, when he raced his way into the starting lineup via an eighth-place finish in the first Gatorade Duel. With Wallace behind the wheel of their NASCAR Nationwide series Toyota in 2011, the #09 team finished seventh in the series driver championship standings, a career-best for the Concord, NC-based team, after posting eleven top-ten finishes.  The crew chief for the #09 team will be announced at a later date.

From RAB Racing 
Loomis out at Petty Motorsports
Richard Petty Motorsports has elected not to renew Robbie Loomis’ contract for 2012.  Loomis who was most recently listed at Chief Operating Officer for RPM, first joined Petty Enterprises as a crew chief in 1991 at the end of the King’s driving career. “I’m taking some time off,” Loomis said. “My contract was up in December and I’m looking to explore what’s next. Richard is still family – so is everyone else at Richard Petty Motorsports.  The future is exciting because it’s unknown but there’s still a lot of uncertainty in what the future brings.”  Loomis wouldn’t acknowledge whether or not he would continue on as a consultant for the team but added that he’d “Do anything to help Richard Petty Motorsports be in a better place.” But with Best Buy pulling out of RPM and Smithfield signing up for a limited schedule on the #43 Ford, it’s becoming increasingly clear that the company could no longer afford Loomis’ reported seven-figure salary.  While no successor for Loomis has been named, certainly with twenty years of racing experience, Sammy Johns, RPM’s director of operation, is more than capable of overseeing the competition department.

From Fox Sports   

Bristol going green with Danica for St. Pats Day
Bristol Motor Speedway is “Going Green” in a big way with Go Daddy Girl Danica Patrick during a special St. Patrick’s Day celebration for the Nationwide series event March 17th. Breaking a long-standing tradition of eschewing green, once a much-maligned hue in the NASCAR garage, the World’s Fastest Half-Mile is embracing the color, right along with Patrick who will be driving a special St. Patrick’s Day paint scheme in the 300-lapper that day. Patrick pilots the shamrock covered ride for JR Motorsports and makes her second start at BMS. As part of the celebration, fans can purchase a special ticket package for the race which also gives them access to a question and answer session with Patrick at Bristol on the morning of March 17th. Fans will also receive a limited edition Danica/St.Patrick’s Day event t-shirt, featuring the shamrock-themed #7 car.  In addition, one lucky fan who purchases the package wins two hot passes and the opportunity to view the race from Patrick’s pit box.  Fans may visit a special website,, which will keep them up to date with all the current news surrounding Patrick, tickets and the St. Patrick’s Day celebration at BMS. The St. Patrick’s Day celebration is hosted by George Wendt, known for his eleven-year role of beer-drinking Norm Peterson on the television series Cheers.  A post-race pit party also is on tap in the hospitality area with live music. In addition, the creek that runs through the property at BMS will be dyed green for the race and the lights that illuminate the stadium at night all will be green.  The Patrick ticket package is available for $67 and includes a limited edition t-shirt, a $10 coupon to the JR Nation retail store at JR Motorsports, admittance to the question and answer session and the opportunity to be upgraded with pit passes courtesy of BMS.  Children’s ticket packages also will be available for $37.50 and will include a child’s size t-shirt.

From BMS 
O’Reilly Auto Parts becomes Official Auto Parts Retailer at Talladega
Talladega Superspeedway announced that O’Reilly Auto Parts will be an official sponsor in 2012.  The multi-year agreement gives O’Reilly the distinction of Official Auto Parts Retailer of Talladega Superspeedway.  “We’re excited to welcome back O’Reilly Auto Parts to the Talladega Superspeedway team of sponsors,” said Talladega Superspeedway chairman Grant Lynch.  “Having worked together in the past, it’s extremely rewarding to do business with a company that has a deep understanding of our sport and the best way to leverage their exposure.  We look forward to sharing their brand with the thousands of loyal Talladega Superspeedway fans.

From TSS  

Aspen Dental to sponsor Newman in two races
Aspen Dental, one of the largest and fastest growing networks of dental care providers in the United States, has reached a multi-year agreement with Stewart-Haas Racing.  The Syracuse, NY-based company, with more than 330 locations in twenty-two states, will be the primary sponsor of SHR’s #39 team with driver Ryan Newman at the July Sprint Cup race at Daytona International Speedway and the September event at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.  When not serving as primary sponsor, Aspen Dental will be an associate sponsor with placement on the lower-rear quarter panel of the #39 Chevy and on the upper chest of Newman’s uniform. The company also secured rights to utilize Stewart promotionally.

From True Speed Communications

NASCAR Sprint Media Tour this week
More than 230 motorsports journalists from around the globe will descend upon the heart of NASCAR country for the 30thannual NASCAR Sprint Media Tour hosted by Charlotte Motor Speedway.  What started as a 1983 “experiment” with a handful of media that struggled to fill one charter bus, the four-day tour has evolved into the nation’s premier pre-season media event in professional sports. “The NASCAR Sprint Media Tour is four days of non-stop news and a great way for fans to hear the latest about their favorite teams just a few weeks before the start of the season,” said Marcus Smith, president and general manager of Charlotte Motor Speedway. “It’s the tour’s 30th year and it’s stronger than ever, with a record number of media coming to this year’s event that features more than twenty stops throughout the four days. We’re excited to host to such a fantastic and meaningful event.” More than twenty stops will keep the participating media busy over the four-day tour including visits to Hendrick Motorsports, Michael Waltrip Racing, Richard Childress Racing and the NASCAR Hall of Fame. Defending NASCAR Sprint Cup series champions Stewart-Haas Racing, plus Joe Gibbs Racing and Roush-Fenway Racing are among the many teams that will also be making announcements.

From CMS 
MaxQ Motorsports considering several drivers
Larry Gunselman’s MaxQ Motorsports, which ran the #37 last season, indicated late in 2011 the team would run full-time with Josh Wise vying for the 2012 Rookie of the Year. In an email, Gunselman tells News/Talk WSB the team still plans to run, but is now considering three or four drivers, including Wise.  Wise start-and-parked the No. 37 three times and the #66 one time last season.

From WSB Radio 

NASCAR starting Speedweeks with restrictor plate that ended test
NASCAR will return to Daytona International Speedway in February with the same restrictor plate that it left with when testing ended earlier this month.  Teams were informed of the rules configuration for Daytona, with includes a restrictor plate with holes 29/32nds of an inch in diameter.  In hopes of limiting the use of the two-car draft used by the Sprint Cup cars during the Daytona 500, NASCAR officials have made changes they hope would result in overheating if the two-car draft is used for an extended period of time during the race. The biggest change is the rear bumper has been moved two inches closer to the ground. Teams will have a front grille opening of 50 square inches – it was 40 square inches by the time testing ended last week in Daytona. The radiator pressure release valve will be set at 25 psi, the same as it was when teams left Daytona on the final afternoon of testing.

Stewart named NMPA Driver of the Year
Sprint Cup champion Tony Stewart was named the NationalMotorsports Press Association’s 2011 Richard Petty Driver of the Year.  Stewart who had a mediocre regular season, nevertheless made the Chase for the Sprint Cup field – an then performed with near-brilliance, winning five of the final ten races of the season and edging Carl Edwards for the series championship. The title was the third for Stewart but his first racing for his own team, Stewart-Haas Racing.

Cockrum to run Daytona for Sieg Racing
Chris Cockrum’s father, Lynn, confirmed on the phone with News/Talk WSB yesterday they have forged a partnership with RSS Racing (Ryan Sieg Racing) to run the #93 truck at Daytona and possibly more races. The #93 ended 2011 ranked high enough in the points to be locked into the field at Daytona, assuming Cockrum and sponsor Advanced Communications Group (his father’s company) a spot in the race.

From News/Talk WSB   
Ultimate Access, Value with Track Pass for 2012 Race Season at Infineon Raceway
Race fans who have dreamed about taking a heart-pounding lap around the Infineon Raceway road course or getting a behind-the-scenes glimpse at the stars of NASCAR during the Toyota/Save Mart 350 can make those dreams a reality in 2012.  If all-access and value is what you crave, then Infineon Raceway’s 2012 Track Pass is the ticket package for you.  You’ll secure the best seats for all seven major events during the 2012 Big O Tires Racing season, including NASCAR (June 22-24), NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing (July 27-29), IZOD IndyCar series (Aug. 24-26), the U.S. debut of the FIA World Touring Car Championship (Sept. 21-23), motorcycles, historic car racing and more.  The Track Pass is valued at more than $1,000, but the raceway is selling them for just $425.  That’s a savings of more than 50-percent.

From InfineonRaceway   

Danica will run Coke 600 and skip Indy 500
Danica Patrick has added the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway to her 2012 Sprint Cup schedule, eliminating any possibility she will run in the Indianapolis 500. “I’m not going to do the Indy 500,” the former IndyCar series driver said…kick-ff the 2012 Sprint Media Tour.  “I hope to do it in the future. Maybe it’ll be a double.  But at this point in time, after a lot of conversations, it’s just going to be the Coke 600.  It’s going to be a big challenge.” Patrick, who is running a full Nationwide series schedule at JR Motorsports and part-time Cup schedule for Stewart-Haas Racing as she makes the transition from open-wheel racing to stock cars, said it was a business decision to run NASCAR’s longest race that is held on the same day as the 500 in May.

From ESPN 

Busch would have trouble moving team to Cup with team limits
Kyle Busch will team with his brother Kurt at KBM this year in the Nationwide series.  “I was feeling pretty good about our ownership chances in Nationwide, that’s going to be hard to beat,” J.D. Gibbs said about the Busch brothers pairing. Joe Gibbs said he wasn’t in the discussions of Kyle racing for his own team. “I will say that I as not in that meeting or we would not be doing this, ” Gibbs said.  “These two (Busch and J.D. Gibbs) got together and somehow we are now racing against him.”  As for the day when KBM might be elevated to a Sprint Cup operation, Busch sees it down the road because of all the current complications associated with such a move.  “That’s obviously something I look forward to doing,” Busch said. “The Cup side is kind of difficult just due to the constrictions that NASCAR puts on all of us with me driving for Joe Gibbs Racing.  Essentially I could have one team, but if JGR ever went to four teams I would have to shut mine down so that makes it tough.”

From Motor Racing Network

As more news comes in for today, updates will be posted. Anything beyond today will be posted next week in volume 10.

QUESTION for this week!  With so much news coming in on a weekly basis, should Fan4Racing post the News and Views feature twice per week?

Let us know you views to our QUESTION as well as the News! 

As always Thanks for reading and participating!

Pre-season Thunder Testing at Daytona yields compelling results

By Casey Sutton 

Casey Sutton is a rookie blogger. His favorite drivers are Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano and Tony Stewart. His home track is Darlington Raceway. Casey is 19 years old and a full-time student at Clemson University majoring in pre-veterinary medicine while following NASCAR on the side. Casey has been an avid fan just since October 2010 after he went to his first LIVE race at Charlotte Motor Speedway. He was always a casual fan because of regional influence, but never an avid fan until he went to his first race. Now, he lives and dies by NASCAR, and pretty much plans life around it. Casey’s friends may think he’s crazy, but Casey is proud to call himself a NASCAR fan!

2012 Winter Testing at Daytona International Speedway
(photo by Jerry Markland/Getty Images)

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. –– This year’s Winter Testing at Daytona could have been described as the most crucial in our sport’s history. In a poll taken by NASCAR and track promoters, an overwhelming majority of fans said they disapproved of the two-car tandem style of drafting currently being used by drivers at the superspeedways. The primary goal of this season’s testing was to reduce the effectiveness of the two-car tandem draft and to appease disillusioned fans.

In a valiant effort to minimize the influence of two-car tandem drafting at the superspeedways, NASCAR officials facilitated a series of tests over the course of three days at Daytona International Speedway. During this three day trial, NASCAR officials worked closely with race teams, car owners, drivers and crew chiefs to hear their concerns associated with the regulations being tested.

Testing consisted of single-car, two-car, and mass-draft test sessions while using a series of changes implemented by NASCAR. These changes included a smaller rear spoiler, a larger restrictor plate, a smaller grill opening moved up to the center of the bumper, lessened radiator capacity, reduced capacity in the radiator overflow can, lowered pressure sensitivity on the radiator pop-off valve, softer rear springs and a ban on driver-to-driver communication. All of these changes were aimed at reducing the amount of time two cars could stay together in a tandem draft.

3-Wide Racing at Daytona Testing
(photo from – Joey Logano Fan Website)
The effects of these changes were apparent by the second and third days of testing. NASCAR officials experimented with the size of the restrictor plate, settling upon 29/32nds of an inch which kept speeds within the desired range of 195 – 200 mph. Officials indicated they were comfortable with these speeds because they implemented a larger “shark fin” to raise speed at which a car can take flight. By the third day of testing, grill openings were so small and pop-off valves so sensitive that many drivers experienced ejection of water from their radiators during even single-car runs.

Officials and race teams alike discovered after three days of testing that there is no practical way of eliminating the two-car tandem draft. After asking drivers to participate in mass-drafting sessions on the second and third days, officials collected data which will be used in determining the rules package for Speedweeks 2012. The prospect of the mass-draft style of racing returning to the superspeedways garnered much fan and media attention. However, no one really knows what type of racing we will see during Speedweeks at Daytona.

NASCAR is trying to do their best to create the most exciting racing possible for the fans to continue a steady path for growth as a sport and industry. But, one thing is certain: NASCAR must make the 2012 Daytona 500 a successful event. The very future of the sport may well depend on it. Let us hope they get it right.

Readers can follow Casey Sutton on twitter @caseysutton93

News and Views – Volume 8

For the week of January 16, 2012 – Volume 8

News and Views, Volume 8 brings a week of news, Pre-Season Thunder testing, the Chili Bowl and the premier of Fan4Racing’s new feature series, ‘Fan at the Track.’ Leave a comment with a warm welcome to our first ‘Fan’ at the track! There’s a promise from another ‘Fan’ to share their ‘Chili Bowl’ experience, so watch for that blog sometime this week.  

Coming up this weekend is the first annual NASCAR Acceleration from January 20 – 22, 2012. This promises to be an exciting Fan experience.  If you are in the Charlotte area this weekend, be sure to check the DRIVER APPEARANCES tab, to prepare for your visit and see your favorite drivers. And even though, it’s not a track experience, the invitation to write about your Fan experience stands firm here at Fan4Racing. 

Now, let’s get into the News… 

MWR efforts to purchase Red Bull Racing assets falls through
Michael Waltrip’s Red Bull Racing negotiation efforts to acquire more equipment and secure owner points to ensure all three of his Sprint Cup teams have a guaranteed spot in the Daytona 500, came to an end this week with no deal.  Among his priorities is finding points so all three MWR teams automatically qualify for the Daytona 500 in February. In Daytona and at the track on Wednesday, Waltrip said, “We tried to buy them (Red Bull Racing). We felt it would be a way to make our team stronger.  We always look at accomplishing just that.” MWR will look to get points through another partnership.  The catch is that no owner can have a stake in more than four teams, so with three teams already, it limits the organization’s options.”

Read more from Scene Daily 

NASCAR limits driver radio communications between teams
NASCAR has mandated drivers and spotters will not be allowed to communicate with other drivers over their in-car radios in an on-going effort to eliminate tandem racing at restrictor plate tracks. The decision was confirmed Thursday as teams prepared for three days of testing at Daytona. Over the past few years, as teams have refined their ability to team up with other cars to create more speed, drivers and spotters have had the ability to talk to multiple teams over their radios.  This was especially helpful in coordinating which cars would pair up and to help drivers swap positions within their pairs. By eliminating radio communications, NASCAR hopes teams will have a more difficult time making deals and remaining in pairs.  This effort from NASCAR is based on fan and driver responses to tandem racing, giving rise over the past year.

Read more from ESPN

Smithfield Foods to sponsor #43 team
Smithfield Foods, Inc., and Richard Petty Motorsports announced Wednesday they have entered into a multiyear partnership starting this year.  Smithfield will be a primary sponsor for RPM in 15 NASCAR Sprint Cup series events this season.  Helping Hungry Homes, a Smithfield initiative, is the primary sponsor for the Daytona 500. Aric Almirola is the driver for the #43 car.

Read more from Richard Petty Motorsports 
Hamilton Jr. files for bankruptcy
Former NASCAR Sprint Cup driver Bobby Hamilton Jr. has filed for bankruptcy to reorganize his debts, according to the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Tennessee.  Hamilton Jr. filed the Chapter 11 bankruptcy papers last week.  Hamilton Jr. and his wife are listed as debtors, as is his company, Hamilton Entertainment.  According to the filing, Hamilton Jr. lists assets of $551,825 and liabilities of $1,293,543.  More than $929,00 of the liabilities are property mortgages or loans, while he also lists owing the Internal Revenue Service $198,000 for 2005 taxes. 

Read more from Scene Daily 

Lucas named crew chief for #18 Nationwide team
Matt Lucas has been named crew chief for Joe Gibbs Racing’s #18 Nationwide series team.  Lucas, who has spent the past two seasons as the race engineer for the #18 team, replaces Jason Ratcliff, who was named crew chief for JGR’s #20 NASCAR Sprint Cup series team last month. 

Read more from Joe Gibbs Racing 

Pastrana debut pushed back to Richmond
Travis Pastrana has gotten back into a race car to test, and while he gets back into shape after suffering a broken ankle last year, his 2012 NASCAR schedule is still coming together.  The action sports star was originally going to run seven Nationwide series races in 2011 and the twenty in 2012.  But after shattering his right ankle at the X-Games two days before his Nationwide debut last July, his 2012 plans have been tentative.

Read more from Scene Daily 

Stewart looking at options to lock Patrick into Daytona 500 field
Defending Sprint Cup champion, Tony Stewart is still deciding whether to assign his points from last season to teammate Danica Patrick to assure her entry in the Daytona 500.  The top 35 drivers by points from the previous year are guaranteed entry into the first five races of the season.  Patrick will attempt ten Cup races, along with her full-time Nationwide schedule.  She would otherwise need to earn a spot in the race by qualifying time or in qualifying races.  Stewart said, “I think we’re still trying to figure that equation out, but the good thing is looking on the sheet today, the car seems to have good speed.  I’ve got the utmost confidence that even in the worst case scenario that we’ve got the right driver that can get this car in the race, no problem.  But we’re working through that and trying to get that finalized and trying to figure out our options to make sure we give her the best opportunity to get in the Daytona 500 and get her all the experience that we can get her.”

Read more from Sports Illustrated (scroll to Points to Ponder section)
Geoff Bodine looking for 2012 ride
The 1986 Daytona 500 winner, Geoff Bodine said Wednesday he still hopes to have a deal in place to compete in NASCAR’s premier race on February 26, as well as the invitation-only Budweiser Shootout that will be held eight days earlier.  During a stop in Jacksonville, as he was driving back to his Melbourne, FL home from Charlotte, NC, Bodine said, “We are cautiously optimistic we will be racing at Daytona.”

Read more from Elmira Star Gazette 

NASCAR makes more rule changes with testing in Daytona
NASCAR’s objective to eliminate tandem drafting at restrictor-plate tracks, proved to be a work in progress based on Thursday’s first Pre-Season Thunder test session in Daytona.  Accordingly, in a meeting with crew chiefs around 5:30 pm Thursday, NASCAR announced additional modifications to a restrictor-plate competition package that has already undergone major changes in the off-season. The sanctioning body increased the diameter of restrictor-plate openings 1/32nd of an inch to 15/16thinches, adding an estimated 26 horsepower to the engines.  In addition, NASCAR has lowered the pressure relief valve settings from 30 pounds per square inch to 25 psi and narrowed the grille openings of the cars, thereby decreasing airflow to the engine.  Both measures are designed to decrease the number of laps one car can push another without overheating.

Read more from Sporting News 

After a second day of testing in Daytona on Friday, NASCAR announced more changes for Sprint Cup series teams. Teams will receive a smaller restrictor-plate with an opening of 29/32nd of an inch, down from 15/16th, to decrease the amount of air intake to the engine.  The radiator opening was shrunk down from 3.5-by-18 inches to 2-by-20 inches, or from 63 square inches to 40.  And the pressure relief valve is now 21 pounds per square inch from the 25 psi they used Friday.

Read more from Fox Sports 

Robby Gordon racing in Dakar Rally
Follow Robby Gordon’s team journey to compete in the Dakar Rally at any of these sites:,, and
Petty says sponsors didn’t want Kurt Busch
Richard Petty said the reason Kurt Busch wasn’t hire to drive his famous #43 was “personality.” “Sponsorships,” Petty said during a break in Thursday’s test session at Daytona.  “Nobody at the time wanted to pay the bill for him.  That’s how simple it was.”  Petty said, Best Buy, which left the #43 to join Roush Fenway Racing as a sponsor, had the same concern.

Read more from ESPN 
In between talking about how much fun he’s having “old school” racing and how he needs to learn how to better handle adversity, Kurt Busch let it be known that he’s focused on the big “prize”: 2013. “Yes, 2012 is going to be a unique year for somebody such as myself,” Busch said Friday at Daytona.  “But to take a step back for me personally and look at all of this, this is what I need. And all along we’re going to keep our eyes on the prize in 2013.” According to Busch, he could have several quality options. 

Read more from Yahoo Sports

Team cap prevents Earnhardt Jr. from operating Cup team
Whenever there was talk about JR Motorsports possibly moving to Sprint Cup, team officials noted that not only would Rick Hendrick have to divest his interest in the team because of NASCAR’s four-team cap, but possibly so would Dale Earnhardt Jr. NASCAR President, Mike Helton confirmed that Friday at Daytona, saying that if a driver owns a team but drives for another organization, then the total number of cars for both organizations counts toward the four-team cap. 

Read more from Scene Daily 

Short fields, not expected by Mike Helton, NASCAR President
Thirty-two cars participated in the test at Daytona International Speedway.  That number does not include some teams that folded during the off-season (Red Bull Racing), some smaller outfits (Front Row Motorsports) and some that decided not to test (JTG Daugherty Racing). Helton said he didn’t think the number of teams participating in the test portended short fields for the regular season.  “I think there is a good deal more activity out there than is represented by testing and some of the other things,” he said, “and the fact that there will be in excess of forty-three cars trying to make the Daytona 500…and we’ve been through cycles, particularly when we get to the June, July stretch, where we may only have forty-three cars show up at the race track. But I don’t see us going below forty-three this year. I may be surprised, but I think just knowing the chatter and the conversations that we’ve had with race teams and organizations that either have participated or are going to participate, that we’ll have full fields.”

Read more from NASCAR .com 

NASCAR moving forward with 2013 cars
The 2012 season hasn’t even started, but the move toward new car models in 2013 is well under way. Manufacturers that compete in NASCAR’s premier series have targeted next year to roll out new vehicles that will provide the carmakers with more brand identity on the race track.  That process will gain speed during the next month or so, beginning with wind-tunnel tests and eventually an on-track session sometime later in 2012, according to the sanctioning body. 

Read more from NASCAR .com 

Townley returning to truck series as Rookie of the Year candidate
RAB Racing with Brack Maggard announced Friday that John Wes Townley will compete for 2012 Rookie of the Year honors in the NASCAR Camping World Truck series, driving its Toyota Tundra.  Townley, 22 has made seven starts in the Camping World series, most recently at Phoenix International Raceway in November 2008.  Townley joins teammate Kenny Wallace, driver of the #09 car in the Nationwide series.

Read more from RAB Racing 
Clements plans full season effort in Nationwide series
Jeremy Clements Racing has announced it will be running the full 2012 Nationwide schedule.  Sponsorship is actively being pursued for the family owned and operated Clements Racing Engines #51. Therefore, the official announcement is not yet posted at their site.  

Watch for the official announcement at Jeremy Clements Racing
Max Papis to drive Legends car
Bruce Silver Racing announced that NASCAR driver Max Papis will be driving the #54 Racing Electronics Legends car in the Masters Division this weekend at Charlotte Motor Speedway.  In a business meeting earlier this week, Max mentioned to Bruce that he really wanted to drive a Legends car on the road course.  He had driver a Legends car once before on an oval.  Wednesday evening, Max was fitted into the #54 car at 860 Motorsports, which sets up the cars for Bruce Silver Racing. 
On Saturday, January 14th, 2012, the Winter Heat series round two action took place at Charlotte Motor Speedway on the road course. Max Papis, in his first road course Legends start, won the Legends Masters feature, his first-ever win at CMS.

Read more from Legends Nation 

David Ragan to Front Row Motorsports
Jim Utter is reporting David Ragan, who spent the past five seasons driving for Roush Fenway Racing, will drive for Front Row Motorsports in the Sprint Cup series in 2012. An official announcement is scheduled for early this week, sources said.  It remains unclear which team Ragan will drive for at Front Row, which fielded Ford teams last season for #34 of David Gilliland and #38 of Travis Kvapil and a limited schedule with the #55.

Gilliland will be driving the #38 car, while David Ragan will be driving the #34 car. Both drivers are locked into the Daytona 500 field.

Apparently, Jay Guy will be the crew chief for David Ragan. Competition Director Derrick Finley will fill in as crew chief on an interim basis for the #38 team and David Gilliland.  The team continues to look for a permanent replacement for former crew chief Peter Sospenzo, who is no longer with the team. 

Read more from Lucky Dog 

Watch for an official announcement at Front Row Motorsports 

Daytona Testing  links from Jayski’s

Read Casey Sutton’s blog Pre-Season Testing yields compelling results 
(will be posted by Monday evening)

Swindell wins Chili Bowl with Stewart placing 10th
NASCAR champion Tony Stewart returned from two days of testing at Daytona to finish 10thin the Chili Bowl Midget Nationals, while Kevin Swindell led wire-to-wire in the 55-lap main event en route to his third consecutive title Saturday night. A record crowd of 17,227 watch Swindell, from Germantown, TN, easily edge father Sammy Swindell, a five-time champion, in the indoor Midget event on the 1/5-mile dirt oval at QuikTrip Center.  Nationwide series champion Ricky Stenhouse Jr. finished  9th .  Chili Bowl coverage will air on CBS at 2pm CT April 24th.  

The main event scheduled for 50 laps, was extended an additional five to honor Donnie Ray Crawford’s #55.  Crawford, a Broken Arrow, OK resident was scheduled to compete in the Chili Bowl on Saturday night, but was killed in a domestic dispute.

Read more from Associated Press

Michigan International Speedway, MEDC announce Pure Michigan 400
With the success of 2011, two of Michigan’s best-known brands – Michigan International Speedway and Pure Michigan – are again teaming up to host the Pure Michigan 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup series race at MIS on Sunday, August 19. 

Read more from Michigan Speedway 
Las Vegas Motor Speedway holding auction for National Anthem singer
For the fourth consecutive year, one local singer will receive a one-of-a-kind opportunity to perform before the start of the Sam’s Town 300 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.  Race sponsor Sam’s Town Hotel and Gambling Hall, KVVU-Fox 5 and LVMS are staging an open audition call Speedway Superstar to find a vocalist to sing the national anthem prior to the March 10th NASCAR Nationwide series event. The first auction will be conducted Saturday, Jan. 21 at Sam’s Town on Boulder Highway. 

Read more from Las Vegas Motor Speedway 

Brennan named Director of Media Relations at Infineon
Diana Brennan has been promoted to Director of Media and Community Relations at Infineon Raceway.  In her new role, Brennan will help oversee the planning and execution of all media and community relations events at the raceway. 

Read more from Infineon Raceway 

NASCAR close to finalizing Daytona package
Sprint Cup Pre-Season testing ended at Daytona Saturday afternoon with NASCAR saying it has a good handle on a workable rules package for February Speedweeks.  Officials made numerous modifications during three days of testing at the 2.5-mile track with the intention of lessening driver dependence on the tandem drafting that have ruled racing at Daytona and Talladega in recent events.  Expectations are that Speedweek events – particularly the featured February 26, Daytona 500 – will see more traditional pack racing and less tandem drafting, although the cars’ setups remain such that the two-car draft could decide the race over the closing laps.

Read more from SPEED 

Thunderbirds to perform flyover for 2012 Daytona 500
The world-renowned U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds will provide race fans with the flyover during the National Anthem for the 54th annual Daytona 500 on February 26th.  It is the third time the flying team, officially known as the U.S. Air Force Air Demonstration Squadron, will perform the flyover for the Daytona 500.

Phoenix  International Raceway names Director of Communications
PIR, President Bryan R. Sperber announced that Dave Lockett has been named Director of Communications.  Lockett, who most recently directed public relations for the Pittsburgh Steelers, will oversee all communications for PIR effective immediately.

Edwards not planning to run Nationwide in 2012
After competing the past seven years for Roush Fenway Racing in the Nationwide series, all while running a full Cup series schedule, Carl Edwards has decided not to run any Nationwide races in 2012. “The way we’re approaching this season is, I’m not committing to any races right now,” Edwards said.  “And as the season goes, if I decide I’m just a nervous ball of energy on Saturdays and I can’t function without going and racing – because that might be the case – then we’ll work to try to go (Nationwide) racing.  We could get ten races in (to the season) and I could say ‘Hey, I’m better off racing on Saturdays.’ Then it would be on me to go look for some way to put something together so that we could go race.”

Read more from NASCAR .com 

Keselowski to run some trucks in 2012; New crew chief for Kligerman
Brad Keselowski Racing will make its next transitional step in 2012 as the team owner will run a handful of Camping World Truck series races – including the Daytona season opener – as a teammate to Penske Racing development driver Parker Kligerman. 
In addition, Keselowski has hired veteran crew chief Doug Randolph to head Kligerman’s progam.  Randolph last year worked on Rusty Wallace Racing’s Nationwide series program with Steve Wallace that finished tenth in the series, but recently closed its doors.  Keselowski’s races will be managed by Jeff Stankiewicz, who in 2011 led Kligerman’s team to eleventh in the Truck series.

Read more from NASCAR .com 

Harvick, Biffle and NASCAR Fan to appear on ‘Dog Whisperer’
In a sport where drivers are constantly striving to be leaders of the pack, a few NASCAR Sprint Cup series stars – and one lucky NASCAR Fan – are taking a back seat to learn a thing or two about how to control their pets. “Dog Whisperer with Cesar Millan,” airing on Nat Geo WILD, is going all-NASCAR when they bring the show to Daytona Beach, Florida this February to shoot an upcoming episode.  This episode, which will be filmed around Daytona 500 events on February 17-18, will feature NASCAR drivers Greg Biffle and Kevin Harvick for two of the first three segments.  For the final segment, Millan will work with a NASCAR Fan who will be chosen.  Any NASCAR Fan with a dog in need of help who lives in the Daytona area, or will be in the Daytona area during the time of shoot, and wants to star in an episode of “Dog Whisperer with Cesar Millan” should visit Cesarsway’s website for information on how to submit an audition video.  After collecting auditions, the “Dog Whisperer” staff will determine one lucky winner to appear in the NASCAR episode. 

Will the lucky NASCAR Fan be YOU?  Let us know if you submit a video or are selected for this honor. 

Jay Robinson, Nationwide owner forms a Cup team
Nationwide series veteran owner, Jay Robinson will enter into his 12th year in the series and has partnered with Troy Blakeney of Houston, TX to form Robinson-Blakeney Racing, LLC and will field a Sprint Cup series car with Toyota as it’s manufacturer.  The new team intends to run full-time in both series this year. Team owner Jay Robinson says, “I am very excited about our new venture into the Cup series.  We have all of the cars and equipment in place.  We will be running engines prepared by Race Engines Plus and are hoping to hire a driver very soon.” The #28 Nationwide car will continue into the 2012 season with a variety of drivers throughout the season.  Jeff Spraker and his Spraker Racing Enterprises group has been hired to head up the Nationwide efforts.  Troy Blakeney, with offices in Houston and Fort Worth, TX is relatively new to the sport and brings a wealth of business knowlege and experience which will certainly prove to be an asset in the venture. Robin-Blakeney Racing  will run Toyotas from their Monroe, NC based facility. The team will soon be announcing their drivers, crew chiefs and sponsorships.

Read more from NASCAR .com

Kyle Busch Motorsports scrambling to finalize 2012 Nationwide, Truck plans
Kyle Busch Motorsports General Manager Rick Ren has spent the last few weeks scrambling to rebuild his driver and sponsor lineups after team owner Kyle Busch was asked not to compete in the NASCAR Camping World Truck and Nationwide series’ in 2012.  Ren and Busch had assembled a sponsor lineup that included Dollar General, Traxxas, Toyota and others for the 2012 season, with Busch scheduled to play a leading role in both the Nationwide and Truck efforts.  Sources close to the team say virtually all the team’s sponsors signed on believing that Busch would drive their entries in a significant number of events this season, only to learn last month that Joe Gibbs Racing had asked Busch to dramatically trim his involvement in all but the headline NASCAR Sprint Cub series. KBM is expected to announce it’s finalized Nationwide sponsor and driver lineups this Thursday.  It is possible that Busch could compete in at least part of the Nationwide slate, but sources say he is unlikely to equal the twenty starts he made in NASCAR’s second division a year ago.

Read more from Sirius Speedway

News from today will be added throughout the day. Anything after today will be in next weeks’ News and Views, Volume 9.  

Read other blogs from Fan4Racing this past week…

As always, THANKS for reading and participating…we welcome your comments!