News and Views – Volume 18 March 19 – 25, 2012

News and Views – Volume 18
For the week of March 19 – 25, 2012

“As far as my reputation goes, I’m not too concerned about that.” – Chad Knaus

Once again, Rick Hendrick and NASCAR presented their point of view as part of the 48 team penalty appeal process. This time they met with the Chief Appellate Officer, John Middlebrook, on Tuesday, March 20th, as all waited and watched with anticipation. 

The sides of this appeal are clearly drawn and like many blogs and media outlets, Fan4Racing is presenting a point of view that will be both supported and challenged. Both sides are presented and fans are encouraged to post their respective point of view for readers to consider. There is also a follow-up after the Appeal announcement. 

Check out our Virtual Parade & Tribute to NASCAR Hauler Drivers. Thanks! 

Let’s begin with the news…

Sunday, March 25, 2012

2012 NSCS Auto Club 400 Race Results

With 71-laps to go past the half-way point in the 2012 NSCS Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway, rains came and forced NASCAR Officials to call the race officially over, giving the defending series champion, Tony Stewart – who was leading at the time of the rain – the victory.

This was Stewart’s second series win of the 2012 season, his forty-sixth career win and his second series win at Auto Club Speedway.

The driver that led the most laps, Kyle Busch (80 laps of the 129 laps) was scored finishing second, following by Dale Earnhardt Jr. third, Kevin Harvick fourth and Carl Edwards finishing in sixth.

Rounding out the top-ten finishers were Greg Biffle (who remains the series points leader – 7-points ahead of Kevin Harvick) finishing in the sixth position, Ryan Newman seventh, Martin Truex Jr, eighth, Kurt Busch ninth and Jimmie Johnson (who suffered engine problems right before the red-flag was shown due to the rain) finishing in the tenth position.

Race Results
Point Standings

From Timing & Scoring provided by NASCARmedia

2012 Auto Club Speedway Weather Forecast: Think We Race Monday

It is going to rain Sunday at Auto Club Speedway thanks to a Pacific storm system that is moving south off of the Northern California coast. I think the rain and possible light drizzle spreads into the area during the morning and increases, with the chance of thunderstorms, for the afternoon. Once the rain arrives it will remain the whole day and continue into the evening and overnight. The probability of racing on Sunday is less than 10% and I were a betting man, I’d bet on a Monday race rather than Sunday.

Read more from WX-man and Get the Latest Updates

Jack Roush questions Hendrick appeal, NASCAR process
If there’s one team owner who seems a bit disgruntled over NASCAR’s penalties and appeals process, it’s Roush Fenway Racing co-owner Jack Roush.

Roush has been critical in the past of NASCAR’s appeals process, which has rarely ruled in his favor. Roush and driver Mark Martin lost the 1990 Cup championship after a controversial penalty and has had other penalties affect his team’s final results over the years.

So what did Roush think of Hendrick Motorsports’ having most of its penalties overturned on appeal to NASCAR’s Chief Appellate Officer John Middlebrook?

“I choose not to comment on that,” Roush said Sunday before the Auto Club 400 in California. “I’ve had multiple problems of my own over the 25 years and my results, given the cast of characters that were the jurists and the arbitrators in my time frame, I was not successful in any of it.”

“I have strong feelings about it, but I choose not to comment on it.”

Read more from Sporting News

VA Tech Band to Perform National Anthem at Martinsville
The Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets Regimental Marching Band will perform the National Anthem prior to Sunday’s Goody’s Fast Relief 500 at Martinsville Speedway, keeping alive the track’s custom of traditional performances of the Anthem. 

The regimental band, better known as The Highty-Tighties, was formed in 1893 and is the oldest collegiate band in the Commonwealth of Virginia. They are a field band, and provide military music for all cadet activities. The band performs in many parades around the country each year, most recently the St. Patrick’s Day parade in New York City two weeks ago.

Read more from Martinsville Speedway-PR

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Joey Logano celebrates in Victory Lane at Fontana
Photo – Getty Images

2012 NNS Royal Purple 300 Race Results

From the pole to victory lane, Joey Logano won the 2012 NNS Royal Purple 300 at Auto Club Speedway Saturday night, and gave Joe Gibbs Racing their eighth consecutive series track win.

Logano, who led the most laps – 92 of the 150 that were run, received his first series win of the 2012 season, his tenth series career win and his second series win at Auto Club Speedway.

Following Logano to the drop of the checkered flag (by 1.066 seconds) was the defending series champion, Ricky Stenhouse Jr, finishing second, Brad Keselowski third, Brian Scott fourth and Sunoco Rookie of the Year contender, Austin Dillon, finishing in fifth.

An impressive run by Brad Sweet resulted in a sixth-place finish, while Kenny Wallace finished seventh, Kyle Busch eighth, the current series points leader, Elliott Sadler (now has a 18-point lead over Stenhouse) finishing ninth and Brendan Gaughan rounds out the top-ten finishing positions.

Race Results
Point Standings

From Time & Scoring provided by NASCARmedia

2012 NSCS Auto Club 400 Final Practice Session Speeds
Once again, it was Denny Hamlin, with a lap speed of 182.034mph, showing the fastest way around Auto Club Speedway during the final NSCS Auto Club 400 practice session.

Second fastest with a lap speed of 181.360mph, was Jeff Gordon, followed by Clint Bowyer (181.214) who was third fastest, Jamie McMurray (181.132) fourth and Kyle Busch (181.050) was fifth fastest.

Rounding out the top-ten fastest during “Happy Hour” were: Jimmie Johnson (180.968) sixth fastest, Kevin Harvick (180.959) seventh, Matt Kenseth (180.637) eighth, Martin Truex Jr (180.505) ninth and Tony Stewart (180.501) posting the tenth fastest lap speed.

The Auto Club 400 is set to get underway around 3:20pm ET Sunday afternoon, and FOX will begin television pre-race coverage at 2:30pm ET.

Final Practice Speeds

From Timing & Scoring provided by NASCARmedia

2012 NNS Royal Purple 300 Starting Lineup
For the second consecutive week, Joey Logano, with a qualifying lap speed of 178.984mph, captured the NNS Coors Light Pole Award, and will start first in the Royal Purple 300 at Auto Club Speedway.

This was Logano’s 2nd series pole of the 2012 season, his 18th series career pole and his 3rd series pole at Auto Club Speedway.

Justin Allgaier will start on the outside pole with a qualifying lap speed of 177.196mph, and will be followed by Brad Keselowski (177.109) starting third, Sunoco Rookie of the Year contender, Austin Dillon (176.926) fourth and the current series points leader, Elliott Sadler (176.904) will start fifth.

Rounding out the top-ten starting positions will be Kenny Wallace (176.255) starting sixth, Brian Scott (176.108) seventh, Brendan Gaughan (176.091) eighth, Trevor Bayne (175.919) ninth and Ricky Stenhouse Jr (175.473) will start from tenth.

No failed to qualify with only 43 drivers attempting to fill the forty-three starting positions.

The Royal Purple 300 is scheduled to get underway at approximately 5:50pm ET this evening, and ESPN will provide television coverage beginning with their pre-race coverage at 5pm ET.

Starting Lineup

From Timing & Scoring provided by NASCARmedia

2012 NSCS Auto Club 400 Practice Session Speeds
The 2012 NSCS Auto Club 400 pole-sitter, Denny Hamlin returned to Auto Club Speedway Saturday for the series second practice session, and with a lap speed of 186.018mph, was at the top of the speed charts once again.

2012 Daytona 500 winner, Matt Kenseth, with a lap speed of 185.209mph, was second quickest, followed by Ryan Newman (184.928) who was third quickest, Tony Stewart (184.554) fourth and Kevin Harvick (184.270) was the fifth quickest.

Rounding out the top-ten quickest during practice were: Kyle Busch (184.139) who was sixth quickest, Brad Keselowski (183.875) seventh, Carl Edwards (183.758) eighth, Jimmie Johnson (183.636) ninth and Kasey Kahne (183.561) posting the tenth quickest lap speed.

The teams will return to the track later this afternoon for their 3:50 – 4:50pm ET scheduled “Happy Hour” (final) practice session.

Practice 2 Speeds

From Timing & Scoring provided by NASCARmedia

2012 Auto Club Speedway Weather Forecast: Pacific rain could arrive later
Small changes have been made to the weather forecast for Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Auto Club Speedway. Over the last twenty-four hours the tendacy of most of the weather forecasts has been slow to the arrival of the Pacific storm and associated rain. As of Friday night, the models showed the rain arrival to be between 2pm EDT (the earliest) and 5pm EDT (the latest).

You may be asking can NASCAR get all 400 miles in during that potential window? If they start the race a little earlier than 3pm EDT and because the race is shorter at 400 miles (average two hours and forty-five minutes) they could easily get past halfway and possibly completed if the rain were to hold off even longer. All of this is dependent on the rain arriving two to three hours after the start of the race.

Read more from WX-Man

2012 NSCS Auto Club 400 Starting Lineup
Denny Hamlin, with a qualifying lap speed of 186.403mph, captured the 2012 NSCS Auto Club 400 Coors Light Pole Award at Auto Club Speedway.

This was Hamlin’s first series pole of the 2012 season, his tenth series career pole and his second series pole at Auto Club Speedway.

Kyle Busch and Mark Martin had the identical lap speed of 185.534mph, and will start second and third respectively, while Greg Biffle and Kasey Kahne had the identical lap speed of 185.510mph, and will start fourth and fifth respectively.

Rounding out the top-ten starting positions will be: Ryan Newman (185328) starting sixth, Kevin Harvick (185.199) seventh, Joey Logano (185.195) eighth, Tony Stewart (185.185) ninth and Jimmie Johnson (185.123) starting from tenth.

Failing to make the starting lineup were the #7 driven by Robby Gordon; #87 driven by Joe Nemechek and the #37 driven by rookie Timmy Hill.

The teams will return to the track Saturday for two more practice sessions (12:30 – 1:20pm & “Happy Hour” 3:50-4:50pm ET) before Sunday’s Auto Club 400, which is set to get underway around 3:30pm ET with FOX providing television coverage beginning with their pre-race coverage at 2:30pm ET.

Starting Lineup

From Timing & Scoring provided by NASCARmedia

Kristy Swanson Honorary Starter for Auto Club 400 
Kristy Swanson, best known for her role as Buffy in the 1992 film Buffy the Vampire Slayer and currently appearing in USA Network’s American detective comedy-drama television series Psych, will serve as Honorary Starter for the Auto Club 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup series race at Auto Club Speedway on Sunday, March 25.

Read more from Auto Club Speedway-PR

Shelea Frazier to perform the National Anthem at Auto Club Speedway
Auto Club Speedway announced Friday, that Shelea Frazier will perform the National Anthem prior to the start of the Royal Purple 300 NNS race at Auto Club Speedway on Saturday, March 24. Shelea’s rendition of the National Anthem and the Royal Purple 300 will broadcast live on ESPN at 2pm PT.

Read more from Auto Club Speedway-PR

Hank Baskett named Honorary Starter for Royal Purple 300 at Auto Club Speedway
NFL and reality start Hank Baskett will serve as Honorary Starter for the Royal Purple 300 NNS race at Auto Club Speedway on Saturday, March 24.

As Honorary Starter, Basket will wave the green flag to get the Royal Purple 300 underway. The event will be televised at 2pm PT on ESPN.

Read more from Auto Club Speedway-PR

Hermie Sadler in the Sprint Cup race at Martinsville
Saturday on SPEED’s NASCAR Live program, John Robert and Hermie Sadler had a conversation revealing Sadler would be in the #33 Richard Childress Racing car for the Sprint Cup series race next weekend at Martinsville Speedway.

From NASCAR Live

Penske undecided on 2013 NASCAR engines
Roger Penske will run Fords in NASCAR’s premier series next season, but the team owner said Saturday his Sprint Cup team still could be building Dodge engines.

Penske, whose team will complete a 10-year run with Dodge this season, hasn’t decided whether to use motors from Roush Yates, which currently supplies all of Ford’s teams in Cup. But Penske said his 70-person engine staff would be unaffected if he elects to align with the motors used by Roush Fenway Racing.

Read more from USA Today

Robby Gordon scaling back Cup program
Robby Gordon said he likely will not race at Martinsville Speedway next week after failing to qualify for the previous three Cup races.

He was too slow to make the field two weeks ago at Las Vegas and then burned an electronic control unit in the new fuel-injection system that resulted in his car never getting on the track at Bristol. He also failed to qualify for the race Friday at Auto Club Speedway.

Read more from Scene Daily

NASCAR’s Sabates threatens to withhold charity if pope goes to Cuba
The outspoken part-owner of a NASCAR team that includes driver Juan Pablo Montoya wants Pope Benedict XVI to rethink his visit next week to the communist island of Cuba.

Felix Sabates, who fled Cuba 53 years ago and has become of the the United States most successful sports entrepreneurs, is so concerned that the Castro regime is using the pope to legitimize its oppressive rule that, Sabates says, he’s rethinking his philanthropy work for the Roman Catholic Church.

Read more from Miami Herald

Rusty Wallace Returning to ASA Roots at Milwaukee Mile
Officials of the ASA Midwest Tour and Rusty Wallace, Incorporated announced today that former NASCAR and ASA Champion, Rusty Wallace, will compete in the June 12 Howie Lettow Memorial 150 at The Milwaukee Mile. The race honors the late Lettow, a former standout ASA crew chief who mentored many young drivers. The event will benefit the MACC Fund, dedicated to childhood cancer and blood disorder research.

Read more from Rusty Wallace Inc-PR

John Wes Townley Returns to RAB Racing’s NASCAR CWTS Entry at Martinsville
RAB Racing with Brack Maggard announced Friday that John Wes Townley will return to the driver’s seat of their No. 09 Toyota Tundra in next weekend’s NASCAR Camping World Truck series event at Martinsville Speedway.

Townley, 22, served an internally imposed one-race suspension following a violation of Section 12-1 (actions detrimental to stock car racing) of the 2012 NASCAR Rule Book. The violation occurred on Feb 7.

Read more from RAB-PR

And: Apology for DUI from John Wes Townley
Townley issued an apology through the team:

“I want to send my deepest apologies to NASCAR, RAB Racing, my fans, sponsors, family and friends,” Townley said. “I made a terrible mistake, but I am now ready, having a renewed relationship with God in my life, to move forward making better decisions.”

“Martinsville will be the start of a new chapter in my life, in more ways than one. My future actions will demonstrate where my heart is, and that I am on a mission.”

Read more from Sporting News

Jeff Gordon’s comments concerning incident with Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Have you spoken with Dale Earnhardt Jr. following Bristol and what was the conversation?
“You know, he reached out to me. It was just a strange situation that happened where we were racing hard, racing for position after a restart and he definitely got into me, but you could do that 100 times and go on about your business, but in this particular case the tailpipe just lined up perfectly on the left rear. Really to me that is the much bigger issue than the contact between me and Junior. I don’t understand why the tailpipes are even capable of getting to the left rear tire. If that happens at a big, fast speedway then that’s a much bigger incident that what that was. I’d like to see that addressed. We talked and I’ve got respect for Dale and I know he has that for me as well. We enjoy being teammates and we I think learned a little bit from that situation about when the time to race hard is and when it isn’t.”

Do you look back on last week and wonder why that had to happen with your teammate?
“Yeah, I mean when you’re at Bristol, especially on the restarts when there’s a big difference in the handling of the cars at the beginning of a restart. Some guys’ cars take off good, some are better five laps into a run, some are better 25 laps into a run and my car was one of those cars that was better the longer that we went. Junior’s was pretty good on the short runs right then. To me, that’s when a lot of us would get side-by-side and I think that you’re always questioning why one person is racing you at that point as hard as they are. Sometimes you’re racing hard because you know your car is really good right then and you want to get the position. That’s all it was. It didn’t have anything to do with teammates. We were just racing hard for position. I think it got a little bit more attention because it was teammates and for us, looking back on it and it makes our Tuesday meetings a little more interesting. I think if that’s for the win or for the position at the end of the race then hey, we get it. I think we both agreed that it wasn’t probably the best thing to do as teammates that early into a restart with 200 laps to go.”

From Team Chevy-PR

NASCAR competitors perplexed by Hendrick ruling
Analyzing the fallout from the shocking decision by NASCAR’s Chief Appellate Officer to rescind severe penalties against Hendrick Motorsports this week might be harder than getting a car though NASCAR inspection.

Drivers and teams are perplexed by CAO John Middlebrook’s decision Tuesday to rescind the six-week suspensions for Hendrick crew chief Chad Knaus and car chief Ron Malec and the 25-point penalty for driver Jimmie Johnson while upholding Knaus’ $100,000 fine.

Just how bizarre was Middlebrook’s decision?

Read more from Scene Daily

Kevin Harvick: NASCAR appeal decision like “watching O.J. go free”
Kevin Harvick wasn’t completely surprised at the Hendrick Motorsports appeal case being overturned and likened the process to other court cases and verdicts.

Read more from CBS Sports

Johnson agrees to disagree with NASCAR President Mike Helton
Johnson said he respectfully disagreed with NASCAR President Mike Helton, who said Friday that the fact that the fine was upheld proves the C-posts were illegal when NASCAR officials confiscated them. NASCAR issued the penalties for an unapproved aerodynamic modification to the C-posts, which run from the roof of the car to the rear quarter panel.

“This is one of the positions where we agree to disagree,” Johnson said. “Through the appeal process, we proved those C-posts were legal. …I can’t explain anything (on the decision), but I can tell you the reason we won the appeal is we proved those C-posts were legal.

“We are agreeing to disagree, respectfully. NASCAR has their side and we have our side. If we didn’t prove those C-posts were legal, we wouldn’t have won the appeal.”

Read more from Scene Daily

2012 NSCS Auto Club 400 Q&A with NASCAR President Mike Helton
The Moderator: Good morning, everyone. We’d like to welcome each of you to Auto Club Speedway. At this time Mike Helton, president of NASCAR has joined us. At this time I’ll return it over to you Mike.

Mike Helton: Thanks.

We thought it would be a good opportunity to close the loop on the appeal process and everything that has been going on since Daytona around one of our cars.

As a reminder, in kind of walking through a timeline, the inspection process in Daytona found issues with a car. NASCAR reacted to that finding. The NASCAR process includes a due process that has two levels to it: an appeal panel and a chief appellate officer. Those elements have been in existence since the beginning of NASCAR in some form or fashion. They exist for the car owners and competitors to have another ear outside of the competition of NASCAR if they don’t agree with our findings or our rulings.

I would tell you, particularly those of you who have been around for a while, I hope you see the difference in NASCAR over the years of us trying to be more clear, more precise about rules and regulations in the event that if something isn’t correct in the inspection process and we do react to it, there’s less gray than there was in the past.

But with all the components in motorsports, particularly in NASCAR’s type of racing, we realize there’s different ways to interpret things. Bill Sr. realized that back in 1948 and had that appeals process as part of our organization.

We take, obviously, very seriously our responsibility to regulate the sport. But if you’re going to regulate it, you also have to enforce it. Every rule in the rule book has a story behind it or an experience to it. That’s how the rule book has been developed over the years, and it will continue to do it that way. We’ll learn every week something that will be applied to us being more relevant and more precise and more accurate.

We believe in our inspectors. We think that the decision that was made this week supports the inspection process because the elements of the penalty that were upheld indicate that the inspection process, or the inspectors, did their job correctly.

I think the debate over the decision this week was more about the decision after that point, of how we reacted to it. That’s as much a bureaucratic decision as it is a competition decision. So we believe very strongly in our inspection process and are very proud of it. So the inspection process is status quo as we go forward.

I would simply say that, again, we take very seriously our responsibility to reuglte the sport in an open way, professional about the debate around our decisions, whether it’s a procedure decision or a rule infraction decision, allow due process so that our community can believe in having a voice or an ear that if they feel they’re wronged doing something, then let those due processes take their course and go on down the road.

When we react to something, it’s for us to react to that. But that reaction also includes a statement, if you will to protect the integrity, try to maintain the cost as best we can, and the safety of the sport. That’s what NASCAR does.

We defend our actions. We’re proud of our inspectors. But we’re also proud of our professionalism when it comes to having a due process system that acts as a check-and-balance. That process and that whole activity is now complete and we’re ready to move on. 

The Moderator: We’ll take as many questions as time permits.

Q. There’s been some criticism of the appellate group and the final apellate judge. Can you address that? And also, if the officials did their job, what exactly did not hold up, and is there any confusion in the garage as to what is legal or is not legal now with this?

Mike Helton: Well, I’m not sure where to start on that list.

I go back to the fact that I think the decision made this week upholds what is right and wrong when it comes to the inspection process and the things on the car because there were elements of the penalty that were upheld relative to parts of the car that did not conform to the rules.

I’m trying to think of your other questions that you threw out there.

You know, I’ve been involved in the rule book directly for over 20 some years now. When I first came to the NASCAR side, I was vice president of competition. Bill Jr. was pretty adamant about me understanding all of our processes and rules and regulations. One of the key parts of that, that his father made sure he was aware of, Bill made sure that I was aware of, this appellate process, because it was important for us to have due process.

The appellate group is reviewed every year. I think it’s 14-2 with that list of names that’s listed. It’s in the rule book. We don’t hide a bunch of guys and gals in a room and pluck them when we need them. There’s a public list as to who that panel could come from.

We have an administrator who is a NASCAR employee who manages the appeal process. When a penalty comes down and a car owner wants to appeal it, they contact him. Three individuals from that list will be chosen to hear the appeal.

That list is made up, and it’s 40 some names on that list, but that list is made up of people who are technically inclined, certainly have experience in motorsorts, maybe even some experience in managing a motorsports sanctioning body. Sot there’s a wide range of talent on that list.

We’re very grateful and thankful for every one of those members that allow us to put them on that list. We believe in every one of them. We believe in that group being a very good group to pull from.

Most of the time it might have to do with scheduling as to who ends up hearing an appeal. Sometimes it may be the issue itself; we want to put someone there that can understand both sides of the story.

Once that process is done, if the car owner doesn’t like the outcome of it, the car owner can take it to the chief appellate officer. The chief appellate officer is appointed by the president of NASCAR. The chief appellate officer is appointed and sets until the next chief appellate officer is chosen.

So that’s kind of a little bit on the background of the appellate.

We believe in the appeals panel members, we believe in the appellate officer. We believe in that process. That process exists. We’ve been through hearings in the past where our decisions have been altered. But that’s what the due process is for.

Q. Is there confusion in the garage?

Mike Helton: You’d have to ask the garage.

Q. Very black and white, you said the president of NASCAR, which is you, so the buck stops there, you’re the one that chooses the chief appellate officer being John Middlebrook. Given Rick’s background off the track and his Chevrolet dealerships, shouldn’t John Middlebrook recuse himself from that situation given their relationship competitively, professionally, all of that? In a unique situation like this, shouldn’t somebody else have the final word, not somebody who’s that tightly close with Rick so there’s no thought of cronyism whatsoever?

Mike Helton: Well, let me answer it this way. When we chose John Middlebrook as our chief appellate officer, we chose him based on our experience with him for several years, his pragmatic approach to business and to his relationship with race teams and with NASCAR.

The reasons that we chose the current chief appellate officer haven’t changed. Our opinion and our belief in our chief appellate officer hasn’t changed.

Q. Given what you’ve already said, if the 48 car shows up at Talladega with the same exact C-post they had at Daytona, will your inspectors take him off again?

Mike Helton: I hope so.

Q. It seems like with John Middlebrook’s unwillingness to give any reasoning in his decision as to exactly why he reduced them, don’t you think it leaves both you and the Hendrick people a little murky as to saying what exactly he said was right and what exactly he said was wrong? Were you surprised he didn’t offer any kind of reasoning?

Mike Helton: When the chief appellate officer is chosen and given the charge of their responsibility, it doesn’t include having to explain their decisions. If they choose to do that, they do, but they’re not obligated to explain their decision.

Q. Would it have helped?

Mike Helton: I’ll leave that up to you all.

Q. Since Middlebrook couldn’t explain it, do you know, and if you do know, could you tell us why did he rescind the suspension in points? And do you expect any change in your inspection process or how you react in the future?

Mike Helton: We do not expect any changes to the inspection process. Quite frankly, I think the decision on Tuesday is in support of our inspection process.

Again, I go back to the fact that the chief appellate officer is not obligated to explain his whole thought process around making his final decision.

Q. Can you tell us exactly when in the inspection process they found the non-conforming C-posts? I think there’s been some talk the reason they appealed was that it didn’t go through inspection, that they were removed before the usual inspection.

Mike Helton: Well, the terminology you use, the normal inspection, the usual inspection… The inspection process starts soon as that car comes off the hauler. The templates are part of the inspection process. But the inspection process begins instantly when the car comes off the hauler the morning or the first morning in Daytona.

So there’s a lot of inspection components that don’t include templates that could prevent a car from getting to the next phase.

Q. So when was it discovered?

Mike Helton: This was discovered, I think right prior to the templates.

Q. When you said earlier there’s some interpretation in the rule book, in the long-term future do you think it’s necessary to rewrite parts in the rule book, some are clearer and easier? How similar are the appeals procedures, because NASCAR also has involvement with the FIA procedure of appealing in Paris? Are there any similarities?

Mike Helton: The last question first.

NASCAR has its own appeals process that’s well-defined in the rule book, and we talked about it today. It may be more unique than IndyCar or any other forms of motorsports, including the FIA.

The first question you had, the rule book is a work in progress. Media that have been around for two or three years understand that we’ll bulletin a rule or we’ll modify on the fly if we feel like we need to.

We’ve tried hard more recently to not do that, especially when it comes to changing something that could throw the car owners into a tailspin or something from making a significant change on a part or piece.

But the rule book is a work in progress. It will continue to evolve. It has to for NASCAR to stay relevant in sports, in motorsports, in its own environment to be sure we do it correctly. It will routinely evolve. By nature it’s going to do that. It’s done it for 65 years and it will not stop evolving.

Q. I think other than the hopeful defendants last Tuesday, the general thought was shock and awe that this was the ruling. I don’t think anybody gave them a 5% chance of it being overruled. What was your personal reaction when you heard the news?

Mike Helton: I’ll keep my personal reaction to myself because I’m the only one that will ever know it. But I got through that in 30 seconds to go on to the fact that we did what we felt was correct. Our inspectors did their job. We colletively made a decision on how to react to it.

The car owner has a due process that they can follow. That due process completes it all. That’s what happened this past week. We’ll go on down the road.

Q. When John Darby first characterized the infraction at Daytona, he basically said, This is typical to Sonoma, work between the templates, perhaps typical also of the Bowyer car at New Hampshire in 2010. Are you concerned without explanation of why the penalties were overturned that there might be a perception of different strokes for differnt folks?

Mike Helton: First of all, I go back to the fact that some of our penalties were upheld. That tells you the inspection process was correct and there was an issue with the car.

The pieces that were not upheld, if there’s a way for NASCAR to be more clear, and we learn every time we go through a process, whether the penalties are upheld or modified, we learn from the process. We should because we’ve worked very hard to do this.

If we can make it more clear, more understandable, more definitive to where it’s more difficult to disagree with it, then we’ll continue to try to do that. In this case, it came out this way.

Q. Those particular penalties seemed appropriate to the type of infraction that occurred at Sonoma or New Hampshire. Without explanation, it’s sort of tough for us to understand why the points and suspensions were totally rescinded, whereas in 2010 the suspension was just reduced and the points were not.

Mike Helton: What I would tell you is, is that I think there’s 46 cars in the Cup garage and 45 cars in the Nationwide garage. Every one of those cars will be equally scrutinized, but all of them will be very closely scrutinized. That’s our job, that’s what we’re suppose to.

If one of them doesn’t fit right, we’ll follow the procedures and processes that we typically do every weekend.

If one of them crosses the line relative to the series director’s interpretation of what is right and wrong, we don’t change any of our processes or procedures.

If through along the way, whether specifically to this situation or any one else that may occur, just like we’ve done in the past, we will continue to strive to be more definitive and more precise so that the ability to argue about it is lessened.

The Moderator: Thank you for your time, Mike. Thanks, everyone, for your questions. We appreciate it.

FastScripts by ASAP Sports


Friday, March 23, 2012

2012 NNS Royal Purple 300 Final Practice Session Speeds
During the only practice session being held for Saturday’s NNS Royal Purple 300, it was Sunoco Rookie of the Year contender, Austin Dillon, with a lap speed of 176.086mph, showing the fastest way around Auto Club Speedway.

Second fastest was Justin Allgaier with a lap speed of 174.541mph, followed by Ricky Stenhouse Jr (174.478) who was third fastest, Brad Keselowski (173.955) fourth and Brad Sweet (173.947) was the fifth fastest.

Rounding out the top-ten fastest during “Happy Hour” were: Joey Logano (173.611) who was sixth fastest, Sam Hornish Jr (173.164) seventh, rookie Cole Whitt (172.944) eighth, rookie Jason Bowles (172.848) ninth and Kenny Wallace (172.824) posting the tenth fastest lap speed.

Qualifying is scheduled to begin at 1:35pm ET Saturday to determine the Royal Purple 300 – which is set to get underway around 5:50pm ET and television coverage will begin at 5pm ET provided by ESPN.

Final Practice Speeds

From Timing & Scoring provided by NASCARmedia

2012 NSCS Auto Club 400 Practice Session Speeds
The NSCS teammates of Michael Waltrip Racing, Clint Bowyer (185.109mph) and Mark Martin (184.322mph) posted the top-two fastest lap speeds during the first Auto Club 400 practice session at Auto Club Speedway.

Kasey Kahne, with a lap speed of 183.946mph, was the third fastest, and was followed by Brad Keselowski (183.290) who was fourth fastest and Denny Hamlin (183.187) was the fifth fastest.

Rounding out the top-ten fastest during practice were: Jeff Burton (183.169) who was sixth fastest, Ryan Newman (183.006) seventh, Greg Biffle (182.894) eighth, Jimmie Johnson (182.880) ninth and Jamie McMurray (182.792) posting the tenth fastest lap speed.

The teams will return to the track later this evening for their 7:10pm ET scheduled qualifying session then return on Saturday for two more practice sessions (12:30-1:20pm & “Happy Hour” 3:50 – 4:50pm ET.

First Practice Speeds
Qualifying Order

From Timing & Scoring provided by NASCARmedia

Mike Helton, NASCAR President defends appeals process
NASCAR president Mike Helton said he believes in the sport’s rules inspectors and the overall appeals process, despite the decision Tuesday that overturned most of the penalties imposed on Jimmie Johnson’s No. 48 Chevrolet from a body-alignment issue at Daytona last month.

Read more and see video from ESPN

Three Stooges serve as Grand Marshals for Auto Club 400
World renowned knuckleheads Larry, Moe and Curley – The Three Stooges – will serve as Grand Marshals for the Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway on Sunday, March 25 at 12pm PT.

As Grand Marshals, The Three Stooges will give the command, “Gentlemen Start Your Engines,” to the 43-car field of the NASCAR Sprint Cup series. The event will be televised at noon on FOX.

Read more from Auto Club Speedway-PR

2012 Auto Club Speedway Weather Forcast: Steady All Day Rain Possible Sunday
The attention for this weekend’s forecast at Auto Club Speedway will be the arrival of a Pacific storm system that is currently in the Gulf of Alaska. This does not look good for racing on Sunday. Rain showers will begin to arrive Sunday morning and will continue through the day and into Sunday night. The system does lift quickly to the northeast late Sunday night and should start to see the rain move out early Monday morning with a better chance of racing on Monday.

Read more from WX-Man

SRT Motorsports (Dodge) Presents The Numbers – Auto Club 400
2 – Races won from the front row at Auto Club Speedway; one from the pole – 2008, Jimmie Johnson
4 – Drivers that have competed in all 22 races at ACS – Jeff Burton, Jeff Gordon, Bobby Labonte and Joe Nemechek
4 – Fewest cautions for a Sprint Cup race – twice, most recently 3/27/11
8 – Jet dryers available fro track drying during race weekend
9 – Most wins by a car owner in previous 22 races – Rick Hendrick
11 – Races won from a starting spot outside the top 10
12 – Most cautions – 2/24/08
14 – Different winners in previous 22 races
15 – Different pole winners
16 – Fewest caution laps – 3/27/11
18 – Fewest lead changes – three times, most recent 3/27/11
33 – Most lead changes – 2/24/08
51 – most caution laps – 9/5/04
120 – Minutes, the amount of time it takes to dry the 2.0-mile track after a significant rainfall
188.245 – MPH, track qualifying record – Kyle Busch 1/25/05
1995 – Year track construction began on site of the former Kaiser Steel Mill; completed in 1996
1997 – Year first Sprint Cup race held at the track – 6/22/97
2008 – Year facility changed name from California Speedway to Auto Club Speedway

2012 Caution Recap
30 – Cautions in the first four Sprint Cup races; 41 after four races last year
16 of 30 – Cautions have been for accidents; 24 of 41 for accidents last year
161 of 1,281 – Laps completed have been under caution; 195 of 1,287 in 2011
217.617 of 1,484.000 – Miles completed have been under caution; 275.881 of 2,499.000 in 2011

BONUS: Although only two tracks currently host NASCAR Sprint Cup series races, 15 California tracks have hosted a total of 131 Sprint Cup races over the years. Riverside International Raceway had the most – 48 – with the last event in 1988. Only Riverside, Ontario Motor Speedway – 9 – and the two tracks currently on the Sprint Cup schedule – Auto Club Speedway – 22 – and Infineon Raceway – 23 – have hosted more than six Cup races.

From Darnell Communications for SRT Motorsports (Dodge)-PR

NASCAR Twitter updates
Commander @cofcompetition: #NASCAR President Mike Helton will be in @ACSupdates media center/deadline room Fri. @10:15 a.m. (PT). 5:05PM-22Mar12

NASCAR @NASCAR: #NASCAR Beat Podcast: Find out which of the 8 California drivers are expected to pace the field @ACSupdates–> 4:27PM-22Mar12

For all #NASCAR TV info throughout the year, be sure to bookmark this page–>  4:18PM-22Mar12

Fri news conf schedule on 1:30pm ET @keselowski, 1:45 @JimmieJohnson, 2:05 @mattkenseth, 2:15 @KevinHarvick cont… 3:59PM-22Mar12

Fri news conference sked cont: 2:30pm ET @TaylerMalsam/Mike Bliss, 3:30 @DanicaPatrick, 4:30 @MartinTruexJr56, 4:45 Edwards #NASCAR cont… 3:59PM-22Mar12

Fri news conference sched cont: 5pm ET @gbiffle, 5:15 @JeffGordonWeb, 5:30 @dennyhamlin #NASCAR 3:59PM-22Mar12

How good is @JimmieJohnson @ACSupdates? He holds track records for Wins (5), T5s (12), T10s (13), Laps Led (840) Avg Finish (5.1) #NASCAR 3:59PM-22Mar12

Kevin Harvick will be inducted into Auto Club Speedway Walk of Fame
As the 2011 Auto Club 400 race winner, Harvick will be inducted into the Auto Club Speedway Walk of Fame on Saturday, Mar 24 at 11:30am PT. The Bakersfield CA native will receive a bronze plaque from track president Gillian Zucker, which will be place in a cemented area along with his footprint, handprint an signature. The induction will be held in the Auto Club Speedway FanZone, located outside gate 12 and is open to the public. 

Read more from RCR-PR

Bruce Jenner to serve as Grand Marshal for Royal Purple 300 at Auto Club Speedway
Bruce Jenner, reality television star and US Olympic Medalist will serve as Grand Marshal for NASCAR’s NNS series race – the Royal Purple 300 – at Auto Club Speedway on Saturday, March 24. As Grand Marshal, Jenner will give the most famous command in racing, “Gentlemen, Start Your Engines.” The NASCAR NNS Royal Purple 300 will be televised at 2:30pm PT on ESPN.

Read more from Auto Club Speedway-PR

Wood Brothers donate winning car to museum
Eddie Wood and Len Wood of the famed Wood Brothers racing team, donated Trevor Bayne’s 2011 Daytona 500 winning Ford Fusion to The Henry Ford museum in Dearborn MI, on Thursday.

The car, exactly as it was after Bayne won at Daytona International Speedway and still covered in celebratory confetti, Gatorade and Coca-Cola will be housed in the museum’s Driving America exhibit, next to Henry Ford’s 1901 Sweepstakes and Jimmy Clark’s 1965 Indianapolis 500 winning Lotus-Ford.

Read more from MIS-PR

Kurt Busch to head to DC after Auto Club 400
Once the checkered flag waves at Auto Club Speedway on Sunday, Kurt Busch will travel straight to Washington, DC, where he will attend the Eighth Annual Armed Forces Foundation Congressional Gala on Tuesday at the Ronald Reagan Building. The event recognizes the nation’s military service members an their civilian supporters.

From Phoenix Racing-PR

AJ Allmendinger to represent Fuel in a Bottle
AJ Allmendinger, a driver for Penske Racing Inc, has landed a deal to represent Fuel in a Bottle, a new brand of energy and protein drinks from BYB Brands, Inc.

Allmendinger drives Mooresville-based Penske’s No. 22 car in the NASCAR Sprint Cup series. He is managed by Walldinger Racing Inc.

 As a brand ambassador, Allmendinger will be part of the company’s marketing efforts through advertising an point-of-purchase promotions.

From AJ Allmendinger-PR

Joey Logano to Debut New Trans-Lux No. 18 Toyota at Fontana NNS Race
Trans-Lux Corporation a world leader in LED video display and LED lighting solutions, has entered into a sponsorship with Joe Gibbs Racing. The sponsorship includes track appearances of the No. 18 Trans-Lux Toyota Camry driven by Joe Logano along with access to NFL football legend and NASCAR pioneer Joe Gibbs for various promotional initiatives. The new No.18 Trans-Lux Camry will make its debut at the NASCAR Nationwide series Royal Purple 300 race with Joey Logano behind the wheel. The race is scheduled to be held March 24, 2012 at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, CA. In the fall of 2012, the Trans-Lux car will move to the Sprint Cup series with the No. 11 driven by Denny Hamlin.

Read more from Market Watch

Jeb Burton to race at South Boston before debut at Martinsville
Jeb Burton has landed a new sponsor for his continuing NASCAR late model effort.

Cherokee Coffee has come on board to sponsor Burton’s late model efforts. Jeb Burton plans to compete at South Boston Speedway in a Jim Dean-HC Sellers-prepared car in late model action this weekend.

Read more from SoVaNow

Daytona International Speedway starting repairs on track
Daytona International Speedway is scheduled to begin repairs Thursday on the infamous Turn 3 track scar that was caused by a frightening crash, fuel spill and blaze during the Feb 27 Daytona 500.

Speedway spokesman Lenny Santiago said preliminary work – collecting measurements and survey data – began Wednesday afternoon.

Read more from Daytona Beach News Journal

Rodney Atkins to Perform during the Aaron’s Dream Weekend at Talladega
Tallaega Superspeedway is proud to announce that country superstar Rodney Akins will perform a Saturday night infield concert May 5 during the 2012 Aaron’s Dream Weekend. All fans with either an Aaron’s 499 race ticket or infield admission can catch the Platinum-selling singer/songwriter’s performance. Come celebrate the world’s largest Cinco de Mayo party with one of the biggest country music artists in the world at the biggest track in NASCAR.

To gain entry to the Saturday night concert, fans must present a ticket for the Sunday race or have an infield admission. The stage will be located near the intersection of Talladega and Eastaboga Boulevars in the infield. The concert will begin at 7:30pm and include an opening act to be announced soon.

From Talladega Superspeedway-PR

Walmart Family Track Pack saves North Carolina Fans more than $100
NASCAR fans in North Carolina can save on tickets to the upcoming Sprint All-Star race on May 19 with the Walmart Family Track Pack. The $99 package gives families four race tickets, four hot dogs, four sodas and one program – a total savings of more than $100.

Read more from Market Watch

Concerts for the Iowa Speedway 2012 Race Season
As part of the initiative to improve the already great fan experience, Iowa Speedway is moving this year’s concert acts to the pre-race festivities – allowing more fans an opportunity to attend. Also new for this year: local bands from around central Iowa region will be performing on the opening night of each event weekend on the Grinnell Mutual Concert Stage.

Read more from Iowa Speedway-PR

Support AARP’s Drive to End Hunger Campaign with Darlington Raceway
Race fans who are interested in supporting four-time NASCAR Cup series champion Jeff Gordon in AARP’s and AARP Foundation’s Drive to End Hunger campaign and in turn  receive a special opportunity to participate in a 15-minute question and answer session with the popular driver, Darlington Raceway has just the ticket.

Darlington Raceway is offering a special AARP Drive to End Hunger ticket package for the upcoming NASCAR Sprint Cup Bojangles’ Southern 500 race on Saturday, May 12.

Read more from Darlington Raceway-PR

Great Seats, Great Packages Remain at Martinsville Speedway
The Goody’s Fast Relief 500 is just a few days away, but its not too late to make sure you are on top of all the action at Martinsville Speedway on April 1.

A year ago the Goody’s Fast Relief 500 saw a record 31 lead changes in a race that was among most media lists of top five races of 2011. Kevin Harvick passed Dale Earnhardt Jr late in that race and wound up in victory lane.

Read more from Martinsville Speedway-PR

NASCAR Camping World Truck series drivers to participate in Free Autograph Session
NASCAR and Dover International Speedway will host a free NASCAR Camping World Truck series autograph session as part of the numerous fan events planned for June 1-3, 2012 NASCAR race weekend at the Monster Mile.

The autograph session is scheduled to take place on Friday, June 1 from 12:30 tp 1:30pm in the Dover FanZone, located outside Turn 4 of the track.

Read more from Dover International Speedway-PR

Thursday, March 22, 2012
Today in NASCAR History
1998 – Dale Jarrett fends off Jeff Gordon’s late charge to win the Transouth Financial 400 at Darlington Raceway. Jarrett leads 68 of the 293 laps to win by .228 seconds. Gordon holds on for second place with Rusty Wallace third. Jeff Burton, who led 195 laps, faded to fifth place by the checkered flag.

From NASCAR .com

Charlotte Motor Speedway to build six mini-suites overlooking pit road
Speedway Motorsports Inc. officials will announce today the construction of six mini-suites overlooking pit road at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

The 15-person outdoor suites, built about 11 feet above the NASCAR pit crew boxes, will be at the center of pit road, on the track’s “50-yard line,” according to CMS Senior VP/Sales & Marketing Dan Farrell.

Read more from Scene Daily

John Wes Townley placed on probation by NASCAR after DUI arrest
Former Nationwide series driver John Wes Townley has been place on probation by NASCAR following his Feb 7 arrest for DUI.

Townley, who was scheduled to race in the NASCAR Camping World Truck series this year, also was place in NASCAR’s substance abuse program and will be subject to random alcohol and drug testing.

Read more from Scene Daily

Gargoyles Performance Eyewear signs Brad Keselowski as Brand Ambassador
Gargoyles Performance Eyewear is happy to announce that Penske Racing driver and BKR team owner, Brad Keselowski is joining its growing team of professional athletes and brand ambassadors. Keselowski, a contender for the 2012 Sprint Cup championship, will appear in Gargoyles advertising campaigns, in addition to working closely with the brand to advance its array of high-performance sunglasses.

A third generation racer following in the footsteps of his father and grandfather, Keselowski is no stranger to performance. Gargoyles’ performance attributes and commitment to creating cutting edge optics are a big part of the 2010 Nationwide series champion’s choice to work with the brand. The brand’s Mission Series Lenses incorporate image-intensifying technologies to provide clearer and sharper vision, without optical distortion.

Gargoyles revolutionized the eyewear industry in 2979 with the invention of the polycarbonate Toric lens, a technology that provides up to 210 degree Vision Shield lens, rubber temple tips, vented corners and adjustable nose pieces.

The Balance: A sport eyewear piece that looks great behind the wheel, around town or on the field.

Gargoyles maintains a team of ambassadors who represent the brand’s commitment to performance, from off-road racers and professional baseball players to former elite members of the United States military and the brand’s own Gargoyles Action Shooting Team. Diverse in nature, the one thing they have in common is that when performance eye protection matters, they choose Gargoyles.

From Sports Management Network for Gargoyles Eyewear-PR & BradRacing-PR

Night Ranger to perform Pre-Race Concert, National Anthem at Fontana
Auto Club Speedway announced today that rock sensation Night Ranger, celebrating their 30th anniversary, will perform on the DiscoverIE FanZone Entertainment Stage (10am) as well as the National Anthem prior to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Auto Club 400 race on Sunday, March 25. Tickets to the Auto Club 400, which include the Night Ranger live pre-race performance, start as low as $30.

Read more from Auto Club Speedway-PR

TV alert – Jimmie Johnson appearing on two TV shows
Today, Jimmie Johnson is scheduled to appear as a guest on The Talk. The show airs at 2pm ET on CBS. Johnson will also be appearing as a guest on Jimmy Kimmel Live later tonight at 12 midnight ET on ABC. 

Kyle Busch Makes Special Appearance at San Jose School
On Wedenesday, Toyota NASCAR driver Kyle Busch visited Williams Elementary School to speak about NASCAR and his racing career and Toyota Racing’s Sponsafier program, as well as participate in a question and answer session with students, as part of the Sponsafier 4 contest grand prize package awarded to David Bulow and his son AJ. The special appearance came at the request of AJ, an avid Kyle Busch supporter, who opted to share part of his grand prize experience – time with his favorite driver – with his fellow Williams Elementary schoolmates.

Toyota Racing launched the inaugural Sponsafier contest at the 2010 Daytona 500, offering fans the opportunity to design and enter their own NASCAR Sprint Cup car for a chance to see their paint scheme come  to life at a NASCAR race track. Since then, four rounds of the contest resulted in more than 200,000 design submissions and over two million public votes. Artwork has ranged from marriage proposal cars and patriotic racers to cause-related designs. Previous grand prize winners include designs titled “Praying for Karson,” “Lou Gehrig aka ALS” and “Chelsea’s Hope.”

The fourth round of the popular Sponsafier contest raised the stakes to give one lucky fan a visit from his or her favorite Toyota NASCAR driver. Motivated by this, Bulow created his “AJBULOWCAR” paint scheme based on design input from AJ. The young NASCAR enthusiast instructed his dad on everything from the racing flames to the checkered flag on the car’s rear bumper. The car prominently features a photo of AJ piloting Kyle Busch’s No. 18 Camry along each side.

Bulow’s artwork triumphed over more than 26,000 entries and was brought to life at Phoenix International Raceway in November. In addition to having his design showcased at track and receiving a 1/12 scale die-cast car of his design and assorted Toyota Racing gear, Bulow was also entitled to a visit from his favorite Toyota driver which he conceded to AJ. The Williams Elementary first-grader elected to have Busch participate in a school-wide assembly and a more casual classroom visit, followed by a one-on-one trip to Dave & Buster’s to play some video games.

“The Sponsafier program was pretty neat and there were quite a few designs that were really, really cool,” said Kyle Busch, who drives the No. 18 Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing. “The winning design was my picture on it and was designed by a six-year-old and his father – which makes me feel good. I met AJ in Phoenix last November and he’s a cool kid and a big race fan. I think it’s great he wanted to share his prize with his entire school.”

Toyota Motor Sales (TMS), U.S.A., Inc. is the marketing sales distribution and customer service arm of Toyota, Lexis and Scion. Established in 1957, TMS markets products and services through a network of nearly 1,500 Toyota, Lexus and Scion dealers which sold more than 1.64 million vehicles in 2011. Toyota directly employs nearly 30,000 people in the U.S. and its investment here is currently valued at more than $18 billion.

From Toyota Motorsports-PR & Infineon Raceway-PR

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

SiriusXM NASCAR Radio to Stream Online
Sirius XM Radio (NASDAQ:SIRI) and NASCAR announced today an agreement to simulcast the programming on the SiriusXM NASCAR Radio channel in its entirety – which includes live broadcasts of every national series race, plus daily NASCAR talk – online for SiriusXM subscribers nationwide.

Starting with this weekend’s races in Fontana, CA (March 24-24), subscribers who have SiriusXM Internet Radio access can listen to live broadcasts of every NASCAR Sprint Cup series, NASCAR Nationwide Series and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race on SiriusXM NASCAR radio channel through their computers at and through the SiriusXM Internet Radio App for smartphone and wireless devices.

Read more from Godfather Motorsports

The Tender Box to Perform at Royal Purple 300 on Saturday, March 24
Race Fans attending the highly competitive racing action that the Royal Purple 300 NNS race offers will also experience the indie rock sounds from The Tender Box. The band is scheduled to perform prior to the Royal Purple 300 at Auto Club Speedway on Saturday, March 24 at 12:30pm on the DiscoverIE FanZone Stage.

Read more from Auto Club Speedway-PR

Montoya Featured on Cover of ESPN Desportes
Earnhardt Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates driver Juan Pablo Montoya graces the cover of the ESPN Desportes La Revista (the Spanish version of ESPN the Magazine) this month. This is he second time the international driver has been featured in the prestigious magazine; he first appeared on the February 2007 issue just before his first full season in NASCAR, ESPN Deportes La Revista is the most culturally relevant sports magazine for the US Hispanic reader. The monthly publication is the only Spanish-language sports magazine in the US and is currently available at newsstands.

Read more from Earnhardt Ganassi Racing-PR

Repairing Crash Damage When Every Point Counts
When Carl Edwards tied in points (losing the tiebreaker) for the 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship, he and the No. 99 team were reminded how important every point is throughout the season. When Edwards’ Cheez-It Ford was severely damaged in an accident on lap 24 during last Sunday’s race at Bristol, the team knew immediately they had to get the car back out on track to gain even a few additional points.

Read more from RFR-PR

Judge dismisses speedway’s lawsuit
After more than four years of wrangling and deal-making, a Superior Court judge has dismissed a lawsuit against Cabarrus County by Bruton Smith, owner of Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Superior Court Judge Robert Ervin dismissed the lawsuit over development incentives Smith says he is owed.

Speedway representatives have 30 days to file an appeal and say they are considering whether to do so.

Read more from Charlotte Observer

Veterans get free tickets for Vietnam homecoming at Charlotte Motor Speedway
Only about 4,000 free tickets remain for the Vietnam Veterans Homecoming Celebration at Charlotte Motor Speedway on March 31.

Entertainment will include Charlie Daniels Band and George Clinton.

Read more from the Fayetteville Observer

Smith Moving Ahead with Plans to Remake Bristol
Speedway Motorsports, Inc., CEO Bruton Smith said yesterday that he is moving ahead with plans to return Bristol Motor Speedway to its previous configuration.

Speaking on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio’s The Late Shift with Buddy Baker and Jim Noble, Smith said feedback from fans has been overwhelmingly in favor of changing the legendary speedway’s layout. “I’d say it’s about 75% from the race fans that they’d like to see us put it back the way it was five years ago,” he said.

Read more from Godfather Motorsports

Reactions to Appeal Announcement
SPEED experts offer their reaction to the Appeal Anouncemnet to overturn the penalty levied against the No. 48 team at Daytona.

From SPEEDtv

NASCAR driver David Ragan visits Greenville hospital
Sprint Cup driver David Ragan stopped by the Shriners Children’s Hospital to speak with some of the patients and their families.

Ragan, the driver of the No. 34 Ford, has been a supporter of the hospital for several years. He named the hospital as his charity of choice in 2008. He has helped raise $150,000 for the facility through his personal donations and help from other charity campaigns.

Read more and see a video at FOX Carolina

Auto Club extends partnership with Penske
Penske Racing and the Automobile Club of Southern California, the nation’s largest member of the AAA federation of motor clubs, announced today that the organizations will extend their current partnership through the 2012 racing season. The multi-year extension of this sponsorship agreement means the Automobile Club of Southern California and its affiliated clubs will continue to sponsor Penske Racing teams competing in both the NASCAR Sprint Cup series and the IZOD IndyCar series.

Read more from Penske Racing-PR

Ford Ecoboost to Sponsor Kenseth’s No. 17 at Fontana
Two-time Daytona 500 Champion Matt Kenseth, will sport the primary colors promoting Ford EcoBoost at Auto Club Speedway this upcoming weekend. This is the first time that the No. 17 entry for Roush Fenway Racing will carry the Ford EcoBoost paint scheme and comes at a track where Kenseth has achieved success at in the past, including three Sprint Cup victories.

Read more from RFR-PR

Mark Martin’s new nickname
Veteran NASCAR driver Mark Martin has become a Twitter addict in the past two months and was looking forward to playing with his new toy during the first off week of the season last weekend.

Instead, Martin, who is running a partial Sprint Cup schedule this year for Michael Waltrip Racing, had his Twitter account hacked, making for a frustrating weekend while his NASCAR friends raced at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Martin, 53, had his Twitter account hacked by someone who changed the account name to “Epic Swag” while also changing Martin’s account settings.

Read more from Sporting News

Edwards to train with SWAT team:
#99-Carl Edwards, known for his strength and conditioning, will receive a different kind of workout with the Fort Worth SWAT (Special Weapons and Tactics) team on Wednesday, March 21st. 

Edwards will be put to the test in a 45-minute training session where he will undergo the same training methods of the Fort Worth SWAT team, which include riding a Bearcat tactics vehicle; rappelling down an eight-story building; situation exercises in a shoot simulator; live range shooting with a variety of firearms including a sniper rifle; and participating with the team in a “live” tactical scenario. 

Following the session, Edwards is scheduled to meet with the media to discuss his experience, along with his season and return trip to Texas Motor Speedway for the April 14 Samsung Mobile 500.


Edwards Goes on the Attack with the Forth Worth Swat Team
Carl Edwards is no stranger to attacking the NASCAR Sprint Cup series competition on the track, but on Wednesday he received a new kind of lesson in taking down the opposition.

Edwards, along with Texas Motor Speedway President Eddie Gossage, took part in a special training session with Sgt. Todd Plowman and members of Fort Worth’s SWAT (Special Weapons And Tactics) team at the Fort Worth Police & Fire Training Center.

Read more from TMS-PR

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Chad Knaus watching practice at Bristol Motor Speedway
Photo – Sam Cranston/NASCAR Illustrate

48 Team Appeal Decision 
On March 20, 2012, the Chief Appellate Office heard and considered the appeal of the penalties resulting from the #48 Hendrick Motorsports NASCAR Sprint Cup Series team. This stemmed from an opening day inspection for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Daytona International Speedway on February 17, 2012.

The penalties concern Section 12-1 of the NASCAR Rule Book “Actions detrimental to stock car racing;” Section 12-4(J): “Any determination by NASCAR Officials that the Race Equipment used in the Event does not conform to NASCAR rules detailed in Section 20 of the NASCAR Rule Book, or has not been approved by NASCAR prior to the Event;” and Section 20-2.1(E): “If in the judgement of NASCAR Officials any part or component of the car not previously approved by NASCAR that has been installed or modified to enhance aerodynamic performance, will not be permitted: Unapproved car body modifications.”

The results of the appeal hearing were as follows:
– Rescinding the loss of 25 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship Car Owner points (for Jeff Gordon).

– Rescinding the loss of 25 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship Driver points (for Jimmie Johnson).

– Rescinding the six (6) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship Events suspension for Crew Chief (Chad Knaus) and Car Chief (Ron Malec), however both will remain on NASCAR probation until May 9, 2012.

– $100,000 fine remains in place for Crew Chief (Chad Knaus).

John Middlebrook – Chief Appellate Officer

From SiriusXM NASCAR – Facebook post

Hendrick Motorsports set to make last-ditch appeal Tuesday
Hendrick Motorsports has won 199 Cup races and 10 championships thanks to quality equipment, incredible perseverance and impeccable preparation that allows it to make the most out of adverse situations.

Whether it can win off the track using the same attitude will be determined Tuesday.

Hendrick will make its final appeal Tuesday over penalties issued for what NASCAR says were illegal C-posts on the car of five-time Cup champion Jimmie Johnson at Daytona.

Read more from Scene Daily

Owner Bruton Smith considers changes to Bristol Motor Speedway
Bristol Motor Speedway owner Bruton Smith is considering about $1 million worth of changes to return his Tennessee track to the way it was before a 2007 reconfiguration.

“We are going to take a very hard look at it this week,” Smith told The Associated Press on Monday. 

Read more from Yahoo Sports

Monday, March 19, 2012
Today in NASCAR History
1967 – David Pearson outruns Cale Yarborough down the stretch to score his first win at Bristol International Speedway in the Southeastern 500. Pearson, driving a Cotten Owens-prepared Dodge, leads 70 of the 500 laps to beat Yarborough by seven seconds. Darel Dieringer finishes third, three laps down. The race is a costly one, attrition-wise – only 11 of the 36 starters are running at the finish.

From NASCAR .com

Lefty to unveil his own Fun Zone during NASCAR’s Auto Club 400 Weekend
He’s overseen every display that has been prepared. He’s taste-tested every apple slice and chicken nugget on the menu at Woodie’s. Heck, he’s even hammered in a nail or two. He’s looked over this Auto Club Speedway project like it’s been his own. And with good reason…it is! He’s Lefty!

As part of its industry-leading youth initiative program, Auto Club Speedway will introduce Lefty’s FunZone on Friday, March 23, at 12:30pm in the DiscoverIE FanZone. With the help of NASCAR driver David Gilliland, Speedway President Gillian Zucker, Nancy Cartwright (the voice of Bart Simpson), Tillman (the skateboarding bulldog from “Who Let the Dogs Out” on Animal Planet and of course plenty of kids, Lefty will unveil his weekend domain as the Auto Club 400 Weekend kicks off.

Read more from Auto Club Speedway-PR

Bristol Notes-n-Nuggets

  • Brad Keselowski claimed his fifth career Cup series victory in his 93rd start
  • Brad Keselowski’s win finished the third set of back-to-back Bristol victories in six of the past seven races – Kyle Busch won both 2009, then 8/20/10 and 3/11, and Keselowski won 8/11 and 3/12
  • This was the second top-five of the season for Brad Keselowski. He was fifth at Phoenix.
  • Brad Keselowski led four times for 231 laps, including the final 111.
  • It was the 72nd Cup victory or Penske Racing, which became the fourth team to win in four races in 2012.
  • Matt Kenseth (second) possted his sixth consecutive top-ten finish at Bristol and is one of two drivers to lead in all four races in 2012.
  • Martin Truex Jr. (third) scored his second top-ten finish of 2012. In 13 Bristol starts, Truex has just two top-tens; both have come in the past two races.
  • Clint Bowyer (fourth) posted his best finish of 2012 and his second top-ten of the year (sixth at Las Vegas).
  • Brian Vickers (fifth) earned his first career Bristol top-ten (15 starts) in his first race of 2012.
  • Jeff Burton (sixth) posted his second top-ten of the season (fifth in Daytona).
  • Michael Waltrip Racing had three cars in the top five: Martin Truex Jr., Clint Bowyer and Brian Vickers.
  • Teammates Jamie McMurray (seventh) and Juan Montoya (eighth) scored their best finishes of the season.
  • Jimmie Johnson (ninth) had his third consecutive top-ten finish since ending up 42nd at Daytona. 
  • Paul Menard (10th) posted his third top-ten in four races in 2012.
  • Kevin Harvick (11th) was involved in the first caution but pitted eight times to repair the damage and rallied back to nearly enter the top-ten. 

NASCAR says Matt Kenseth legally beat Brad Keselowski to line on Bristol restart
Generally, there are two cardinal rules when it comes to NASCAR’s double-file restarts: don’t change lanes before you cross the start/finish line and if you’re in second, don’t beat the leader to the start/finish line.

With 154 laps to go in Sunday’s Food City 500, Matt Kenseth restarted second. The leader, Brad Keselowski, was next to him on the inside line. It was the first time the leader had taken the inside line all day.

Kenseth clearly beat Keselowski to the start/finish line as you can see in the video above, and the two entered turn one side-by-side before Kenseth prevailed and cleared Keselowski a few laps later. Kenseth never conceded the position to Keselowski, nor was he black-flagged by NASCAR.

Why? Because according to NASCAR spokesman Kerry Tharp, race officials deemed that Keselowski hadn’t mashed the gas in the designated restart zone before the start/finish line, allowing the second-place driver – Kenseth – the right of way to accelerate on his own.

Read more and see the video from Yahoo Sports

Dale Earnhard Jr. & Jeff Gordon comment on their slight bump at Bristol
Jeff Gordon, No 24 Chevrolet – sidelined in crash with No 88 Earnhardt, Jr. on lap 359 of the Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. said you guys barely bumped. What is your version of the situation?
“I think we bumped more than we should have is the way it looks like. We definitely didn’t hit in the right location, because I think the tailpipe or something just cut the left-rear (tire) immediately. We didn’t hit that hard. We were a little bit too tight and he was pretty good on the restart there and we were racing hard. I know that it wasn’t intentional, but it certainly ruined our day. I hate it for Drive To End Hunger. I encourage everybody to text ‘hunger’ to 50555. I hate it for this race team. There were times we had the best car out there and I think we could have got back to that before this thing was over.”

What happened out there? Was there contact with your teammate, Dale Earnhardt, Jr.?
“There was contact. Just hard racing here at Bristol. We weren’t very good there on the restart; we were a little bit too tight still. We were making adjustmnets there to fix that. We were really strong earlier in the race. I was looking forward to getting to the end. Junior (Dale Earnhardt, Jr.) got underneath me. When he got into me, it looked like the tailpipe just caught the left rear (tire) and cut the left rear. I don’t know what cut the left front (tire), but something cut the left front too and so around we went. I knew it immediately, and let off trying to keep it out of the wall, but there was no chance. Ruined our day. Hate it for this team. I hate it for Drive To End Hunger, and I want to thank them for everything they do. I want to encourage everyone to text ‘Hunger” to 50555.”

Dale Earnhardt, Jr. No 88 Chevrolet, finished 15th:
What happened there at the end?
“I got busted for speeding on pit road. I really hate that happened. I don’t think I was; but I don’t (think) any driver ever thinks he was speeding. Congratulations to Brad (Keselowski, race winner); he drove a great race. We had a good, fast car. We didn’t have a good car here last year. We’re improving. Things are looking up for our team, and we’ve been running strong this year. I expect more of it. (If) We put cars like we did today on the race track; we’ll get some shots at some wins.”

You said on your radio that you felt responsible for what happened with Jeff Gordon blowing a tire. He said it was one of those racing things:
“I absolutely feel responsible. I got into his door a little bit. We were racing and having a good time, to be honest with you. I put the pipes up against the left rear tire of his car, and knocked the side wall out of it. I hate…I feel bad about that. I’m going to have to do some damage control this week. I know Jeff understands what was going on out there, but his boys work real hard on their car, and they had a good run going. They had a potential win, or good finish going too; and they deserve it.”

Once you guys got some track position, you were pretty much a top-five race car all day. Tell us about your run:
“We were fast all weekend. I’m real happy with the way the National Guard/Diet Mountain Dew Chevrolet ran all day. We sped on that last stop I guess. I came down the back straight-a-way and I had green lights all the way down. I had two red lights on the front straight-a-way.”

“I was told I was speeding on the track, but if anywhere I was speeding on the front. I don’t know. This place is probably hard to tell exactly what is happening. I don’t really trust those timing lines too much. If they say so I guess we were speeding. It’s a difficult way to give up a good finish. We ran hard. We worked hard all day.”

“I hat what happened to Jeff (Gordon). We were racing really hard. It wa fun. If there is a track where you can lean on each other a little bit then this ought to be the place. We just barely rubbed down the back straight-a-way.”

I heard you say (on the radio) ‘I didn’t get into him much’: 
“Well you showed it on TV, I’m sure some people might have thought that was a hard hit. That to me was good hard racing. The (tail) pipes on my car cut the left-rear tire down. I feel terrible about that happening to my teammate. Those guys work really hard and they were running good and happy with their car I’m sure. But, there are four of us out there we are bound to race each other and run into each other every once in a while. Otherwise, I’m just frustrated about the finish, but he did run good. We run better than we run here last year. We run really good pretty much everywhere except for Phoenix. Things are looking up for our team.”

When you look around here, Bristol is usually packed. Do you think this new configuration is why people aren’t here now?
“I think the racing has suffered since the change. Go and watch the first race we had here with this surface. That was a great race. Carl (Edwards) and Kasey (Kahne) battled for the win all night. I remember being up in the middle of that and we were running three-wide for the lead. It’s possible to have an awesome race here. And I think Goodyear could come in here and pull some trickery with the tires and improve the racing. This tire is a great tire. But Goodyear really holds the key I think to improving this surface and this configuration. Aside from digging it up and trying again, they’re going to have to move the tire around a little bit to see if that will affect the racing.”

Are you ticked-off? Or is this just stuff that happens?
“I’m upset that I screwed myself on pit road speeding there; I’m pretty upset about that. Otherwise, I feel bad about running into Jeff’s (Gordon) car and I had a good day other than that. I had a good time. Long green flag run, man. That put us all to the test. I was watching for somebody to fall out of the seat; I don’t know who did and who didn’t, but I’m watching for a couple of them to pull over (laughs).”

How much repair work are you going to have to do with Jeff Gordon?
“I’ll just have to sit down and talk to him and see where he’s at. I’ve got to own up to my responsibility in the situation, which I will, and go from there.

Is it easier to take something like this when you’ve had a pretty decent season so far? Things like getting into your teammate and speeding on pit road?
“I feel bad at what happened to Jeff, but we were just racing. And that wasn’t nothing. We barely touched. That’s just kind of a freak deal. So, I’m not going to beat myself all to hell about it. I feel bad (about) what happened to him and I’m going to tell him about it. But I screwed myself on speeding. And we were running good. I think we were running good as a team. We’re a good team.”

“We’re showing all the signs of these other guys capable of running up front and maybe winning us a race or two this year. We’re going to keep it up. I’m going to take all the positives I can out of this one. We ran good. We didn’t run good last year. We struggled and just kind of limped around and made something out of nothing. Today we ran good; and I feel good about that.”

You ran more green flag laps than probably ever before here today. Kevin Harvick mentioned that it’s ruined what Bristol is all about.
“I don’t think so man. They ran a race here in 1973 that didn’t have any cautions. Cale Yarborough won that and led every lap. I don’t know if that was a boring race. But racing is racing. You line ’em up and let ’em go and I’m glad NASCAR didn’t step in and throw a bunch of debris cautions all day long to try and make a show out of it. Some of the racing is more exciting than others; some tracks are better than others, and that’s just the way it is. Everybody is just going to have to live with it unless somebody wants to spend the money to dig it up and re-do it, we’ve pretty much got what we’ve got.”

Have you ever seen the grandstands this empty before?
“I don’t know. When it was a lot smaller they had a lot less people here (laughs). I don’t know man. It ain’t all the surface of the track. It ain’t. It ain’t the track’s surface and they way the track’s configured. You could say that’s part of it or all of it, but it ain’t. You put the right tire out there; these tires have different configurations on the left and right-sides and different compounds. That changes how you race. It changes the way the cars go around the track. Look at the first race we run here and do your story. That was an exciting race. And it’s the same track.”

From Team Chevy-PR

Keep checking back for updated news throughout the week. Each day’s news stories will be posted here as a digest of NASCAR news for the entire week.

As always, Thanks for reading and participating.  

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