|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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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 teamNationwide 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 plansKyle 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!