News & Views – Volume 38 – August 6 – 12, 2012

News & Views – Volume 38
For the week of August 6 – 12, 2012

“We were in the right place at the right time. Some people might call that luck. I call that…a hard day’s work of getting into that position for something to go your way and go right.” – Jeff Gordon after winning at Pocono, August 5, 2012

Another race weekend is in the books and the Race to the Chase is heating up!

It was fun to see Joey Coulter in victory lane celebrating his first win in the Camping World Truck Series. How about Elliott Sadler from the black flag at Indianapolis to the checkered flag at Pocono – redemption delivered! And Jeff Gordon picks up a Wild Card at Pocono with his second win of the season! Race fans have a lot to look forward to with five more races until the Chase begins. 

Fan4Racing expresses our deepest thoughts and prayers to the fans, families and friends affected by the lightning strikes following the Sprint Cup race at Pocono on Sunday. There are never the right words to express how deeply any tragedy affects us, but in NASCAR there is an environment of support. We share a bond in our love of this sport that is powerful in times of need and in NASCAR everyone is considered a friend and a valued member of our community. This affects all of us deeply. We will remember our friends at Pocono as this season continues and beyond. 

Next weekend the Nationwide and Sprint Cup teams travel to Watkins Glen International for their races on Saturday and Sunday respectively. The Camping World Truck Series teams return to the track August 18th in Michigan. 

Let’s begin with news for today…
Sunday, August 12, 2012
Put Watkins Glen on your NASCAR bucket list
While going through press releases in the Watkins Glen media center Saturday, I stood next to a reporter/PR rep trio waxing poetic about trips to nearby Cooperstown and the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

When I returned 45 minutes later for another release, they were still going strong.

Read more at NASCAR As the World Turns Left

Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt Jr cry foul over spilled oil
Spilled oil on Watkins Glen International’s 2.45-mile circuit drew the attention – and ire – of several Sprint Cup drivers Sunday.

Among them was Jeff Gordon, who was sent spinning on the final lap of the Finger Lakes 355 while chasing a top-ten finish. He later complained that NASCAR should have thrown a caution flag.

Read more from USA Today

Brad Keselowski says slick track caused him to spin Kyle Busch on final lap at WGI
Brad Keselowski would have preferred to win. Instead, the Penske Racing driver will have to find solace in knowing he played a major role in one of the most spectacular last-lap battles of the season.

The fireworks began on the final lap of Sunday’s Finger Lakes 355 when race leader Kyle Busch got loose in Turn 2 after sliding in oil put down by fellow Toyota driver Bobby Labonte.

Read more from Sporting News

Ambrose, Keselowski fight to the finish
They had a tractor pull at Watkins Glen International on Sunday.

It looked a lot like any other road-course race for 89 laps, but the way it ended is what counted, and will be long remembered for the complete chaos that broke out.

Read more from ESPN

Kyle Busch actually the bright spot for JGR
Oil may have dampened Kyle Busch’s day, but he was still the only bright spot for Joe Gibbs Racing on Sunday.

With several drivers complaining of oil on the track, Busch – then the leader – was hit by Brad Keselowski on the last lap and lost his chance at the win in Sunday’s Finger Lakes 355 at The Glen.

Read more from That’s Racin’

2012 NSCS Finger Lakes 355 at The Glen Race Results

Ambrose celebrates in WGI Victory Lane
Photo – Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images

After starting from fifth, Marcos Ambrose was able to take the lead on the final lap of the NSCS Finger Lakes 355 at The Glen, and held off Brad Keselowski by 0.571 seconds to win his second consecutive series victory at Watkins Glen International.

This was Ambrose’s first series win of the 2012 season, his second series career win and his second series win at The Glen.

Following Ambrose and Keselowski to the drop of the checkered flag were Jimmie Johnson – the new series points leader, 1-point lead ahead of Greg Biffle – finishing in third, Clint Bowyer fourth and Sam Hornish Jr, finished fifth.

Rounding out the top-ten finishing positions were Greg Biffle who finished sixth, Kyle Busch – who led the most laps, 43 out of 90 – seventh, Matt Kenseth eighth, Regan Smith ninth and Martin Truex Jr, finishing in the tenth position.

Race Notes
Average Speed – 98.145-mph
Time of Race – 2 hrs, 14 mins, 48 secs
Margin of Victory – 0.571 seconds
Lead Changes – 10 among 5 drivers
Cautions – 4 for 13 laps
Attendance – 90,000

Race Results
Point Standings

Next Up – The teams return to “the Irish Hills” of Michigan for the 43rd annual Pure Michigan 400 at Michigan International Speedway on Sunday, August 19th, with an approximate start time of 1:20pm ET. Television coverage will be provided by ESPN beginning with their 12:00pm ET “NASCAR Countdown” pre-race show.

From Timing & Scoring provided by NASCARmedia

Kyle Busch in ‘must-win’ mode as Chase nears
Kyle Busch exemplifies the attitude that’s prevailing through the Sprint Cup garage this week at Watkins Glen International: Just win, baby.

Busch finds himself on the outside of a tense wild-card race for the Chase for the Cup, which sets its 12-man field after the next five races. Two wild cards, awarded to the winningest drivers ranked 11th through 20th, join the top-ten in points for the ten-race title run.

Read more from Detroit Free Press

Saturday, August 11, 2012
2012 NNS Zippo 200 at The Glen Race Results

Edwards celebrates NNS win at WGI
Photo – Tom Pennington/Getty Images

Making his return to the NASCAR Nationwide Series for the first time of the 2012 season, Carl Edwards, on a two-lap restart to the finish, held off Brad Keselowski by 1.130 seconds to win the Zippo 200 at The Glen.

Following Edwards – who received his 38th series career victory – and Keselowski – who led the most laps, 44 out of 82 – to the drop of the checkered flag were Sam Hornish Jr, who finished third, Ricky Stenhouse Jr – who now sits in 2nd-place in the point standings, 13-points behind Elliott Sadler who finished 12th – fourth and Ron Fellows finishing in fifth.

Rounding out the top-ten finishing positions were Kyle Busch finishing sixth, Kasey Kahne seventh, Paul Menard eighth, Justin Allgaier ninth and Brian Scott finished in the tenth position.

Race Notes
Average Speed – 91.100-mph
Time of Race – 2 hrs, 12 mins, 19 secs
Margin of Victory – 1.130 seconds
Lead Changes – 13 among 9 drivers
Cautions – 5 for 15 laps
Attendance – 40,000

Race Results
Point Standings

Next Up – The teams will head north into Canada for the 6th annual NAPA Auto Parts 200 on the Circuit Gille Villeneuve in Montreal on Saturday, August 18th, with an approximate starting time of 2:50pm ET. Television coverage will be provided by ESPN beginning with their 2:00pm ET pre-race show.

From Timing & Scoring provided by NASCARmedia

2012 NSCS Finger Lakes 355 at The Glen Starting Lineup
For the second consecutive week and with a new NSCS qualifying track record speed of 127.020-mph, Juan Pablo Montoya captured the 2012 Finger Lakes 355 at The Glen Coors Light Pole Award at Watkins Glen International.

This was Montoya’s second series pole of the 2012 season, his ninth series career pole and his first series pole at The Glen.

Kyle Busch, who last year set the previous series qualifying track record – 126.421-mph – will sit on the outside pole with a qualifying lap speed of 126.928-mph, and will be followed by Jimmie Johnson 126.925 starting third, Brad Keselowski 126.262 fourth and Marcos Ambrose 126.524 will start fifth.

Rounding out the top-ten starting positions will be Ryan Newman 126.312 who will start sixth, Tony Stewart 126.150 seventh, Clint Bowyer 126.061 eighth, Martin Truex Jr 126.049 ninth and Jamie McMurray 125.959 will start from the tenth position.

With only 43 drivers/teams attempting to fill the 43 starting positions, there was no one failing to make the starting lineup.

The 27th annual Finger Lakes 355 at The Glen is set to get underway around 1:20pm ET Sunday afternoon and ESPN will provide television coverage beginning with their 12:00pm ET pre-race show.

Starting Lineup

From Timing & Scoring provided by NASCARmedia

2012 NNS Zippo 200 at The Glen Starting Lineup
Saturday morning, Sam Hornish Jr, with a qualifying lap speed of 122.454-mph, captured his first career NNS pole by winning the 2012 Zippo 200 at The Glen Coors Light Pole Award at Watkins Glen International.

Sharing the front row with Hornish to start second will be Carl Edwards 122.340-mph and they will be followed by Paul Menard 122.105 starting third, Brad Keselowski 122.076 fourth and Kyle Busch 121.931 will start fifth.

Rounding out the top-ten starting positions will be Joey Logano 121.653-mph who will start sixth, current series points leader, Elliott Sadler 121.478 seventh, Justin Allgaier 121.466 eighth, Brian Scott 121.195 ninth and Ricky Stenhouse Jr 121.139 starting from the tenth position.

Failing to make the starting lineup were the #26 driven by John Young; #52 driven by Ryan Ellis; #08 driven by Louis-Philippe Dumoulin and the #00 driven by Derek White.

The 18th annual Zippo 200 at The Glen is scheduled to get underway around 2:15pm ET this afternoon, with ESPN on ABC providing television coverage beginning at 2:00pm ET.

Starting Lineup

From Timing & Scoring provided by NASCARmedia

SRT Motorsports – Dodge – Keys for Success – Finger Lakes 355 at The Glen
Travis Geisler – Directory of Competition, Penske Racing
Color of Success – “Black is good, brown is bad. You can have every strategy – fuel mileage, brake package, transmission success – in the world be right, but if you run off track and lost track position you can’t recover. Track position is key and there are many ways that you can lose it here at Watkins Glen. First thing is having a good, consistent race and staying on track.”

Fuel Mileage – “You need to have your fuel mileage give you the opportunity to pit when you want to and not be dictated by other people when you need to pit. If you can pit earlier than guys and a caution comes out, that can be another huge track position key.”

Mechanical Durability – “You need durability from your engine, drivetrain and brake package. All that stuff is really tested and needs to be with you for the whole race. It sounds simple but it really is key. You can’t break parts. Drivers have to take care of their equipment all race.”

From Darnell Communications for SRT Motorsports – Dodge-PR

2012 NSCS Finger Lakes 355 at The Glen – Sat. Morning Added – Practice Session Speeds
NASCAR officials added an extra NSCS Finger Lakes 355 at The Glen practice session for Saturday morning, after rain on Friday forced the cancellation of one of the two sessions that were originally scheduled. And, at the end of the final session, with a lap speed of 127.458-mph, it was Kyle Busch showing the fastest way around Watkins Glen International.

Juan Pablo Montoya, with a lap speed of 127.446-mph, was second fastest, followed by Carl Edwards 127.412-mph who was third fastest, Marco Ambrose 127.163 fourth and Martin Truex Jr 127.095 was fifth fastest.

Last week’s Pennsylvania 400 winner, Jeff Gordon 126.856-mph was sixth fastest, while Jimmie Johnson 126.832 was seventh fastest, Brad Keselowski 126.630 eighth, Kevin Harvick 126.626 ninth and Greg Biffle 126.584 rounding out the top-ten fastest during “Happy Hour.”

The teams will return later this morning at 11:40am ET for qualifying to determine the starting lineup for the 27th annual Finger Lakes 355 at The Glen – which is set to get underway around 1:20pm ET Sunday afternoon, and ESPN will provide television coverage beginning with their 12:00pm ET pre-race show.

Final Practice Speeds
Qualifying Order

From Timing & Scoring provided by NASCARmedia

Dale Earnhardt Jr looking to gamble for more Sprint Cup wins
With five races until the points are reset for the Chase for the Sprint Cup, points leader Dale Earnhardt Jr and crew chief Steve Letarte are ready to roll the dice.

Earnhardt, NASCAR’s biggest story this year, is a virtual lock to make the 10-race title run that begins Sept 16.

Read more from Detroit Free Press

Friday, August 10, 2012
Rain alters weekend schedule at Watkins Glen
Rain early in the day Friday canceled a scheduled Sprint Cup practice at Watkins Glen International, forcing NASCAR officials to add a final practice for Saturday morning.

The additional practice is scheduled to run from 8 – 9:25am ET at the 2.45-mile road course. It will be followed at 9:35am ET by qualifying for the Zippo 200 at The Glen – the Nationwide Series race that will be run later in the day at 2:15pm ET.

Qualifying for Sunday’s Cup race, the Finger Lakes 355, is scheduled to begin at 11:40am ET Saturday

From NASCAR.com

2012 NSCS Finger Lakes 355 at The Glen First Practice Session Speeds
After morning rains forced the cancellation of what was to be the first NSCS Finger Lakes 355 at The Glen practice session, it was Kurt Busch with a lap speed of 125.055-mph, posting the fastest lap during the afternoon session at Watkins Glen International. Note: NASCAR has added an additional practice session for Saturday morning from 8:00 to 9:25am ET.

Ryan Newman was second fastest with a lap speed of 124.406-mph was second fastest with a lap speed of 124.406-mph, and was followed by Brad Keselowski 124.126-mph, and was followed by Brad Keselowski 124.126-mph who was third fastest, Tony Stewart 124.120 fourth and Jeff Gordon 124.044 was fifth fastest.

Rounding out the top-ten fastest during the practice session were Carl Edwards 124.009-mph who was sixth fastest, Marcos Ambrose 123.948 seventh, Jimmie Johnson 123.781 eighth, Kyle Busch 123.753 ninth and Greg Biffle 123.737 posting the tenth fastest lap speed.

Qualifying is scheduled for Saturday morning at 11:40am ET to determine the starting lineup for the 27th annual Finger Lakes 355 at The Glen – which is set to get underway around 1:20pm ET and ESPN will provide television coverage beginning with their 12:00pm ET pre-race show.

First Practice Speeds

From Timing & Scoring provided by NASCARmedia

2012 NNS Zippo 200 at The Glen Final Practice Session Speeds
Rain tires were brought out for the start of the one and only NNS Zippo 200 at The Glen practice session being held, and at the end of the session it was Brad Keselowski, with a lap speed of 118.250-mph, posting the quickest lap at Watkins Glen International.

Second quickest with a lap speed of 118.237-mph, was Kyle Busch – lost his engine, which brought out the final caution – followed by Ryan Truex 117.381-mph who was third quickest, Justin Allgaier 117.029 fourth and Brian Scott 116.950 who was fifth quickest.

Rounding out the top-ten quickest during the “Happy Hour” – final – practice session were Sam Hornish Jr 116.844-mph was was sixth quickest, Ron Fellows 116.747 seventh, series Sunoco Rookie of the Year contenders, Austin Dillon 116.586 and Cole Whitt 116.399 eighth and ninth quickest respectively, and Miguel Paludo 115.722 posting the tenth quickest lap speed.

The teams return to the track Saturday morning for their 9:35am ET scheduled qualifying session to determine the starting lineup for that afternoon – 2:15pm ET on ABC 18th annual Zippo 200.

Final Practice Speeds

From Timing & Scoring provided by NASCARmedia


Martin Truex Jr says leaving MWR never an option
Martin Truex Jr said he was never about to become a free agent. But he is close to putting pen to paper to make it official. 

Truex, enjoying a career year in NASCAR’s top level, is set to sign a contract extension with Michael Waltrip Racing.

Read more from USA Today

Dodge departure leaves teams searching for manufacturer support
Sprint Cup teams flirting with a move to Dodge will try to land other manufacturer deals for next season now that Dodge has decided to leave the sport after this season.

Richard Petty Motorsports, a Ford team, and Furniture Row Racing, a Chevrolet team, both had contemplated moves to Dodge before the announcement Tuesday that the manufacturer will not field a Sprint Cup car next year.

Read more from Sporting News

Stewart-Haas Racing, Hendrick relationship different
The relationship between Stewart-Haas Racing and Hendrick Motorsports remains strong but it’s not quite what it used to be.

That’s because of the absence of Darian Grubb, a former longtime Hendrick employee that served as driver Tony Stewart’s crew chief until the end of last season.

Read more from That’s Racin’

By the Numbers – Watkins Glen 
For Starters 
3 – Kyle Busch has been passed for the final lead change in the past three Nationwide Series races at Watkins Glen; he’s the only driver to finish in the top-five in the past four races. Busch led a race-high 48 laps last year before being passed by Kurt Busch with eight laps left. Busch, who is still looking for his first win as an owner/driver in the No. 54 Toyota, has finished in the top five in five of his past six NNS starts on road courses, including three top-two finishes.

2 – Kyle Busch has been passed for the final lead change in two of the past three Sprint Cup Series races at Watkins Glen, including with just two to go in 2011; he’s the only driver to finish in the top-ten in the past six races. Busch only has two top-tens in the past nine races this season and has fallen out of Chase position, currently 15th in points and fourth in the wild-card race. Twelve of his 24 wins have come at the next five tracks, including one at Watkins Glen – 2008.

Nationwide Series – Breakout Number
10 – Eleven races in NNS history have been won by foreign-born drivers; 10 of them were won on road courses, including six of the past 11 races and the past two. Ron Fellows – Ontario – and Marcos Ambrose – Tasmania – lead the way with four wins each; both have three victories at Watkins Glen. Foreign-born drivers also have accounted for 11 poles in series history; 10 of them were on road courses, including six of the past ten races. Foreign-born drivers entered in this week’s race: Louis-Philippe Dumoulin – Trois-Rivieres, Quebec; Victory Gonzalez Jr – San Juan, Puerto Rico; Kenny Habul – Etobicoke, Ontario; Daryl Harr – St. Albert, Alberta; Fellows – Mississauga, Ontario; Miguel Paludo – Nova Prata, Brazil; and Derek White – Kahnawake, Quebec.

Track Tidbits
1 – There has been one last-lap pass at Watkins Glen: Dale Earnhardt Jr passed Ron Fellows on the final lap in 1999. That race set records for the youngest winner – Junior was age 24 years, 8 months, 17 days, fewest laps led by a winner – 2 – and most laps led by a non-winner – 52. Fellows became the oldest race winner – 41 years, 9 months, 10 days – in 2001.

6.3 – Brad Keselowski has a 6.3 average finish at Watkins Glen, the best of any driver entered in this week’s race. Keselowski has finished in the top-ten in all three of his starts, with a best of fourth in his most recent race in 2010.

8 – Ron Fellows leads all drivers at Watkins Glen with eight top-tens including the past three races for JR Motorsports – for which he is driving this week in the No. 5 Chevrolet. From 1998-2001, Fellows won three times and finished second driving the No. 87 Chevy of Joe Nemechek. He led all but 11 of his track-best 189 laps led during that four-race stretch.

Recent Trends
1 – Carl Edwards is making his first Nationwide Series start of the season. In his past nine series races he has won three times, finished second three times and finished third three times. Edwards’ 37 wins are tied for third with Kevin Harvick, his 27 poles rank third all time and is 129 top-five finishes rank second all time. The 2007 series champion is a two-time winner on road courses; his best finish in seven Watkins Glen races is third.

3 – The past three races held at Watkins Glen set track records, with Kurt Busch currently holding the mark – 106.582-mph; Busch also set the track qualifying record last year – 123.241-mph. Not including Indianapolis, where NNS competed for the first time, there have been four track records set in 2012: Iowa, Road America, Kentucky and Iowa again.

5 – Richard Childress Racing’s No. 33 car has led the most laps in five different races this season, the most of all cars, but remains winless in 20 races. Paul Menard, entered in the car this week, has led the most laps in two of his three races in the No. 33 this year, including a runner-up finish at Texas after starting from the pole; he has finished in the top-ten in all three races. Menard has three top-tens in six races at Watkins Glen, including a sixth-place finish last year in the 33 when it raced under the Kevin Harvick Inc banner.

6  – Six of the past nine series races on road courses have been won from the front row, including four from the pole. The first road-course race this year, at Road America, was won from the pole. Ten of the 18 races at Watkins Glen have been won from the front row, including the past three; six have been won from the pole, including the past two.

Sprint Cup Series – Breakout Number
7 – Seven of the past 11 road-course races have been won by drivers scoring their first road-course victory. Dale Earnhardt Jr and Matt Kenseth, the top-two drivers in points, each have made 25 road-course starts without a win – Junior’s best finish is third, at Watkins Glen in 2003; he hasn’t finished better than 15th in the past six races. Kenseth’s best is eighth, at Sonoma in ’08; he has not posted a top-five in 12 Watkins Glen starts. In fact, Watkins Glen is one of three tracks at which Kenseth has not scored a top-five, joining Sonoma and Kentucky. Greg Biffle, who is third in points, has made 19 road-course starts without a win; his best is fourth, at Sonoma in 2006. Five of his nine Watkins Glen finishes have been 30th or worse. Carl Edwards, currently out of the Chase, is winless in 15 starts with a best finish of third, at Sonoma in 2011. He has five top-tens in seven Watkins Glen starts.

Track Tidbits
4 – Marcos Ambrose is the only driver to finish in the top-five in the past four races at Watkins Glen. He has one win – 2010, one runner-up and two third-place finishes – 2.25 average – in his four starts there.

5 – Watkins Glen is one of five tracks at which Jimmie Johnson hasn’t won. His best finish in ten races is third in 2007; he has five top-tens. Johnson has started in the top-ten in his past eight races, but only has led 11 laps.

44 – NASCAR Hall of Fame Class of 2013 inductee Buck Baker led all 44 laps in the inaugural race at Watkins Glen in 1957. Baker started from the pole in his own No. 87 Chevrolet and beat Fireball Roberts by .46 of a mile on the then 2.3-mile road course. The win paid $1,000.

Recent Trends
2 – Jeff Gordon only has two top-tens at Watkins Glen in the past ten races since his last win there, in 2001. He has finished worse than 20th five times since.

5 – The road-course races have been swept five times since 1989, when the two current tracks – Sonoma and Watkins Glen – have been on the schedule: Jeff Gordon – 1998, ’99; Robby Gordon – 2003; Tony Stewart – 2005; and Kyle Busch – 2008. 2012 Sonoma winner Clint Bowyer has one top-ten in six Watkins Glen races.

9 – Tony Stewart has finished in the top-two in nine of the past 16 road-course races, including five wins. Stewart has five wins – most of any driver – and two seconds in the past ten races at Watkins Glen.

71 – It’s been 71 races since Juan Montoya’s last win, at Watkins Glen in 2010. It’s the sixth-longest active winless streak in the Cup Series. Montoya has finished in the top-ten in the past four races at Watkins Glen.

From Racing Resources and Services – Statistics Racing Recall/NASCAR

NASCAR CEO to chair luncheon for Mitt Romney donors
Some of NASCAR’s heaviest hitters are going to bat for GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney.

An invitation to prospective Romney donors for a $2,500-a-plate luncheon has been distributed with NASCAR CEO Brian France and his wife Amy, as event chairs.

Read more from USA Today

SEC charges NASCAR stock fund adviser over withholding records
US securities regulators on Friday filed civil charges against an investment manager who advised a NASCAR-related stock fund for allegedly failing to turn over records to examiners.

The Securities and Exchange Commission said it was seeking documents from David W. Dube, 55, and Peak Wealth Opportunities LLC in connection with an examination of a mutual fund the firm advised called the StockCar Stock Index Fund, which is now defunct.

Read more from Reuters

Could NASCAR, Pocono Raceway face lawsuits over fatal lightning storm?
To many, a lightning strike is an act of God. So when it comes to who should bear liability for someone killed or injured in a lightning strike, many believe that no one is responsible.

But the law might be different.

Read more from Sporting News

Miranda Lambert Offers Multiple Ways for Fans to Interact with “Fastest Girl in Town” Video
Miranda Lambert is giving fans multiple ways to interact with her hot new video, “Fastest Girl in Town,” co-starring NASCAR driver Danica Patrick. First off, MirandaLambert.com/interactive hosts a special edition of the video that allows fans to switch between different camera angles during the clip’s car chase scene. Viewers can also unlock bonus content that gives them a chance to win items from the video and additional behind-the-scenes footage.

Read more at Win Country

Thursday, August 9, 2012
Why Dodge Pulled the Plug On Its NASCAR Program
In October of 1999, Dodge held a press conference to announce its re-entry into NASCAR’s top series. The manufacturer had recruited Ray Evernham, the red-hot crew chief for red-hot Jeff Gordon, to head the effort, Dodge – and, in a unique arrangement, its dealer body – would fund Evernham’s brand-new team. Fast-forward 13 years and Dodge now is on its way out of NASCAR at the end of this season. Why? Primarily because the manfacturer failed to duplicate the feat it achieved in 1999 – finding a top-level NASCAR personality like Evernham to spearhead its project.

Read more from Car and Driver

Victims of Pocono storm released from hospital
All nine survivors of the lightning storm Sunday at Pocono Raceway have been released from hospitals, the track announced in a news release Thursday.

A lightning strike seven minutes after the Pennsylvania 400 was halted, killed 41-year-old Brian Zimmerman and injured eight other fans. Another lightning strike later in the night hospitalized an additional victim.

Read more from Sporting News

Roger Penske’s sons arrested
Two sons of NASCAR and IndyCar team owner Roger Penske were arrested Thursday for an alleged break-in at the Nantucket Yacht Club after two women claimed they were assaulted in the club’s parking lot, according to a report in The Inquirer and Mirror of Nantucket.

According to the newspaper, Jay Penske, 33, the CEO of the digital media company PMC who owns the IndyCar racing team Dragon Racing, and his brother Mark Penske, 35, were arrested just before 2am Thursday on South Beach Street.

Read more from ESPN

Former NASCAR Cup driver killed in North Dakota shooting
A former NASCAR driver who finished eighth in the 1974 Southern 500 was shot to death at a worker camp in western North Dakota over the weekend.

Gerald Schild, 57, of Katy, Texas was allegedly shot by co-worker Victor Lamont of Lufkin, Texas. Lamont, 24, has been charged with murder, attempted murder and terrorizing. Travis Lomax, 38, of Fort Smith, Arkansas, also was injured in the shooting.

Read more from Sporting News

2012 NASCAR Weather Forecast for Watkins Glen – Rain to Start the Weekend
Storm system moving out of the Great Lakes will move into Western New York. This will spread showers into the region starting today and continue Friday and Saturday. The system will begin to pull out to the north Saturday night. By Sunday, weather should dry out for the Sprint Cup race but practice and qualifying Friday and Saturday could be in danger because of the weather.

Read more from WX-Man

Wednesday, August 8, 2012
Joey Logano has two Cup offers
Joey Logano is mulling offers for two full-time Sprint Cup rides next year, including one to remain at Joe Gibbs Racing, and expects to make a decision soon.

“I’ve got a couple of offers,” the 22-year-old driver said on Wednesday at Charlotte Motor Speedway, where he was promoting fall events. “I’m just trying to decipher what’s the best for me. What’s going to give me the most trophies and win the most races out of?”

Read more from ESPN

Drivers get first crack at new Sprint Cup car, don’t learn much
Five-time champion Jimmie Johnson had never driven the 2013 Chevrolet SS before Tuesday, so he looked forward to climbing behind the wheel of the new car at Martinsville Speedway.

He didn’t expect to get a real good feel for the car, which has a new body and the same chassis as the current Cup car. And he didn’t. But he at least got a chance to drive it on a 0.526-mile oval where he typically runs well.

Read more From Sporting News

Driver AJ Allmendinger Opens Up About Suspension on NASCAR Race Hub
Driver AJ Allmendinger, who was recently released from Penske Racing after a second positive drug test and admittance into NASCAR’s ‘Road to Recovery’ program, sat down with SPEED NASCAR reporter Bob Dillner on tonight’s NASCAR Race Hub.

He talked about the challenges he’s currently facing and what life has recently been like. The following is Part 1 of a two part interview which concludes tomorrow.

Bob Dillner – Describe the event and the emotions, when NASCAR informed you in Daytona.

AJ Allmendinger – A lot of confusion because, at that point, I went to my knees. I wasn’t going to be in a race car in a couple of hours, and everything else that was going to follow after that.

Dillner – That night, where did you go? What did you do? What were you thinking?

Allmendinger – I drove home. After I talked to the race team, they thought it was the best idea for me to get home. So, I drove home from there from Daytona back to Charlotte. A lot of emotions driving back, a lot of crying, then a lot of ‘what am I going to do next?’ Just trying to figure out what was happening…where everything was going, just, lost at that point.

Dillner – From that point until now, what has this all been like for you?

Allmendinger – For the first few weeks it was basically a step-by-step process. I’m just trying to figure out what it was. I was having everything tested that I had ever taken; work out supplements, Advil PM, Nyquil. At that point, all I knew it was an amphetamine. I’ll be honest; I’m naive to drugs…I don’t even know what that was. Then obviously, after the ‘B’ sample, then figuring out what it was, and retracing my steps to figure out how it got there. Then talking to Mr. Penske about what was going to happen and, obviously, being released from the race team. After that, it was just about soul searching. Figuring out, up until this week, I wasn’t even ready to talk.

Dillner – What was the moment like when you said, ‘Wait a second, maybe it was that?’

Allmendinger – I’ve never done drugs. When I think of drugs, I think of hardcore drugs. That’s never been a want, never been near it, never will be near it. I don’t surround myself with people that do that stuff. So, it was just really trying to figure out what it was, and retrace it back to that night. To know in one way, I was told the wrong thing to what it was, and in another way, it was my fault for making a huge, bad judgement, on my part. One pill that adults and children take as a prescription is what’s gotten me to this place.

Dillner – When you were given that pill, did you ever question, really, I wonder exactly what this is?

Allmendinger – I should have. I know people are going to sit here and watch and go, “God, how stupid can you be as an athlete, to put something that yo don’t have in your own hands, and take that?’ But at that point, I was just really tired. He said it was a workout supplement for energy, which I’ve taken in the past. It was just something that I really should have thought a lot more about, but I didn’t. I just took it, and that was it.

Dillner – Adderall. Would you even know that that was a banned substance by NASCAR?

Allmendinger – No, and that’s the sad thing, is that you could have told me that night that, ‘Hey, this is Adderall.’ I wouldn’t have known what that is. “That’s how naive I am to drugs just because I’ve never been around them. I’ve never taken stuff like that.

Dillner – When we spoke in Kentucky before the race, we talked about stress. What was the stress like?

Allmendinger – Well, I mean, I came into this year, driving for Roger Penske has been my dream come true. That was the guy that, when I was racing go-karts, was the pinnacle of open-wheel racing. That’s who I wanted to drive for, and I was getting that opportunity. And I was so excited. But at the same point, the year wasn’t going the way I had planned – by far. So because of that I was stressed, putting so much pressure on myself to go out there and perform.

Dillner – You said you couldn’t sleep. What would you lie awake and be thinking about?

Allmendinger – There are a thousand things running through my head. Racing, life in general, happiness, and things felt like they were spinning out of control, just not being happy in general, at home, any of it. It wasn’t one thing, but it was a thousand things that kept me awake at night.

Dillner – You reached out to Jeff Gordon and talked to him. What was that conversation like? What did he tell you?

Allmendinger – Its personal stuff that he told me about his life, and stuff that I told him about mine. Honestly, I probably should have asked for advice sooner in my career because…especially guys like Jeff and Tony – Stewart, Jimmie – Johnson, those types of guys. All of them, this sport is so great about the drivers that are at the top level, but will be willing to help you out. Talk to you. I was always afraid to ask them because I didn’t want to seem weak. As I talked to them, it’s not about being weak, it’s about growing up, and we all deal with things as we grow up, especially in a sport as tough as this sport. It’s so tough, every week, it’s part of this sport. Things happen and not be emotional about it.

From SPEED-PR

Tuesday, August 7, 2012
No. 43 NASCAR NNS Team Penalized for Post-Race Infraction at Iowa Speedway
NASCAR has penalized the No. 43 team in the NASCAR Nationwide Series as a result of rule infractions discovered during post-race inspection last Saturday at Iowa Speedway.

The No. 43 car was found to be in violation of Sections 12-1 – actions detrimental to stock car racing; 12-4J – any determination by NASCAR officials that race equipment used in the event does not conform to NASCAR rules; and 20A-12.8 – body height requirements – car failed to meet the minimum front car heights of the 2012 NASCAR rule book.

As a result, crew chief Philippe Lopez has been fined $10,000, while owner Sandra Turner and driver Michael Annett have been penalized with the loss of six championship owner and six championship driver points, respectively. In addition, Lopez and car chief Michael Wright continue to remain on NASCAR probation unti Dec. 31.

From NASCAR-PR

Ralph Gilles, President & CEO of SRT Motorsports, Q&A on Dodge leaving NASCAR in 2013
“Clearly, this is an extremely difficult decision to have to share with you, our media partners, and also our employees, our fans and at-large, the NASCAR community. Anyone, in fact, who likes to see the Dodge presence in NASCAR.

“Following our thorough five month process of evaluating our future involvement in the sport, we have decided to withdraw from NASCAR competition at the end of the 2012 season.

“Following the announcement by Penske on March 1, we set up a detailed evaluation process to determine what prospective new partners, and specifically, what the future would hold for us on and off the race track.

“We were initially pleased to see the vast amount of interest from multiple teams and sponsors that came our way with a lot of interesting packages and ideas. We looked at this process as a multi-piece puzzle. Capacity has shrunk dramatically over the years in the NASCAR world.

“We could not unfortunately put together a puzzle or a structure that made sense to continue our business and competitive objectives for next year. This decision was not based on budgets. Even thought we have diversified in many sports this year, this was really a NASCAR centric discussion.

“It was a case of the different pieces of the puzzle not fitting together to satisfy the structure we needed to fit our overall business and competitive objectives.

“Our team worked diligently to pull this together. In the end, we could not develop the right structure. We are committed to and focused on the 2012 season with Mr. – Roger – Penske and will do everything within our power to secure hopefully a Chase win and championship and also a championship, potentially, in the Nationwide Series.”

Q: Could we see if things all align, the stars align, perhaps a return of Dodge in this series?
A: We are going to keep all options open. It would be imprudent to try to predict the future right now.

Q: And where might Dodge increase its motorsports presence, if now you are withdrawing from Stock Car racing?
A: “No, we are happy with our size right now. We actually,, at the beginning of this year, invested in NASCAR even more heavily. We actually tripled our track side activation, our web content and also PR support of NASCAR.

“So really, we are about where we want it to be. We also have introduced RallyCross and ALMS – American LeMans Series. But again, it’s not a matter of taking NASCAR budget and re appropriating it. They were separate budgets to start with; so it’s really a matter of going and racing at the level and quality that we are accustomed to, not necessarily budget management.”

Q: How much of this had to do with ROI – Return On Investment – versus how much had t do with the teams with which you had the  opportunity to align?
A: “ROI, I wouldn’t even put that on the table right now.

“Really this issue started many, many years ago as we consolidated down to one team. We had a very, I would say, an elegant situation with the Penske group, having a one stop shop, an engine, everything, a very high quality team to work with. 

“When that changed, the equation changed dramatically. As you know, being in this sport over the last few years, just like anything in America, things have consolidated, right.

“So what’s available in North Carolina now is not what was available five, 10 years ago. It’s not as easy as you would think to configure a team at the level that we re accustomed to racing and at the level that we want to perform.

“And everything that we do business in, we like to do it as well as possible. So, not undermining the people that came to talk to us, at the end of the day, it’s really a big machine to put together to do it right.

“ROI is something that we would have to look at. As I said, we are investing more than ever before in terms of track side. We have actually been measuring the data and been very pleased with the amount of leads that we get midway during the races. So that part of it was working well.

“Any motorsport, it’s difficult to measure ROI. It’s how do you extract the best from it as a PR exercise and market exercise. Again, more to do with structure.”

Q: You said that the NASCAR budget is not being re-appropriated for anything else but obviously your funding next year, the question has to be raised: Is there another place to allocate it? Are you looking at other racing venues like Rolex Grand-Am or anything like that?
A: “Not at this time. This decision was made only last Friday, so we really haven’t really thought of it that way.

“Again, that was never the issue. We’ve been treating all of the different motorsports as individual. Usually it’s a nameplace centric exercise; what sport matches a nameplate the best. In the case of RallyCross, again, a very different budget. It’s actually coming from the Dart budget. So certain things are self contained, so that’s the way we look at it.

“Right now the team is very tired after a long process, so we are not looking at anything in the immediate future.”

Q: Did the whole switch to the car of the future and the homogenization of NASCAR factor into this at all?
A: “No, not really. I think NASCAR corrected that. I would say with the 2013 movement, and also what they did in Nationwide a couple of years ago. So that might have been and the fans also feel the same way; that the Car of Tomorrow is a little generic for everybody involved. And that’s been rectified.

“As you know you’ve seen the 2013 Dodge. We responded and took full advantage of that, probably more so than any competitor. So I think that would have been something to talk about two years ago, but no longer true.”

Q: Since the sheet metal has been approved, is there anything to keep a private team from entertaining a Dodge next year?
A: “That’s a very good question. Matter of fact, we had an all-staff meeting this morning and discussed that very thing. We talked about the independents.

“There are a lot of very, very loyal fans and small teams that have been loyal to the fans for years and years and years. That’s something that we are going to have to take internally and review. We’ll probably talk about that shortly in the next couple of weeks.

“Yes, huge support there and it’s obviously relatively doable. It’s something that we are going to have to review and understand how we can make that work but for now, no decision on that.”

Q: So it’s possible there could be a Dodge next year, just without any factory support?
A: “That’s up to NASCAR. We have to understand what that means, because we won’t have a factory sign up, so to speak. So we’ll have to see what that means.

“It’s the first time we’ve been in that situation this way. We’ll have to look at that.

Q: How high up – in the company – was this difficult decision made?
A: “This decision and thank you for recognizing how difficult this has been. You have no idea how much we feel the pain. My emails and Twitter have been blowing up about this subject as people are really passionate and emotional about it. So we don’t take these decisions lightly. Really, really, our concern about our fans, happiness factor so to speak.

“But the decision was made at the committee level, like all decisions are in the company. There’s nobody with the authority, so to speak, to squash the committee. The committee has looked at this very carefully.

“And in all honesty, the whole thing was very complex, more complex than we thought at first to try to put something together again at the level that we would like to be at. It would not make sense to try to hurry a situation together. As you know, some of these things take months and months to put together.

“Back in March 1 when Mr. Penske signed up with Ford, that was an aggressive decision on Ford’s behalf to really have critical mass. That’s one thing that we have to look at in the sport – we have not had critical mass in a while. We have been doing disproportionately well with two cars; very well in fact. If you look at our performance in the last few years, we have been a factor and a thorn in everybody else’s side, so to speak. That’s made us very proud in our corporation. And our management has looked upon that as a huge accomplishment.

“So there’s been a lot of, like I said, we invested even more in racing, and I think there might have been, to be very honest with you, from late last year to the beginning of this year, there was a bit of a revaluation of NASCAR and a decision at the time was to invest in NASCAR.

“We had a chance at the end of last year to kind of scale back, but while we are in the look and see moment is when the decision was made to go with Ford. So, unfortunately that happened, caught us by surprise and we have not recovered since.”

Q: Is it fair to say you won’t be back unless you can find an organization that is at least the caliber of Roger Penske?
A: “I don’t know. Right now we are still in kind of the shock and awe moment. We are still trying to figure out what it means.

“Of course, we’ll never say never. But it’s really scarce right now. It’s a really tough situation in North Carolina. If we did something like that, it would have to be quite a significant effort. So we’ll have to look at that. We’ll get back to you as our plans unfold but for now we are just talking about ’13.”

Q: You mentioned it’s a case of the puzzles not fitting together. Can you be more specific about what pieces didn’t fit? Was it the engine program or not getting a top-tier team?
A: “It was all of the above. Everything from the driver selection, the teams, the shops, the engine, you name it. It’s a very, very complex situation. So we’ll just leave it at that.”

Q: In terms of your relationship with NASCAR, do you have any sort of agreements or sponsorships that will keep you involved in the sport beyond this year?
A: “No, But we are going to see through the end of this season and we plan to be even more intense as we put all of our efforts into this final series of races for the Chase and the championship in both series.

Q: There’s been a lot of chatter looking at the demographics of the sports, the motorsports that Dodge has gotten involved more heavily over the past year with motor cross and rallycross and the demographics of that versus NASCAR. Was there anything that made NASCAR less attractive versus those sports or was it still an attractive property in terms of the fan base and what you were getting on the marketing side?
A: “Just like our portfolio has diversified, again with the new Dart, it is a segment we have not been relevant in for decades.”

“So we had to look at an incremental customer with that particular vehicle and that’s why we went into RallyCross. The Viper, same thing. We pulled out of ALMS racing 10 years ago. With the new car, if you remember back in ’96, we launched the ’96 GTS with a Le Mans effort as well. So it’s a bit of history repeating itself.

“So again, every nameplace has a motorsport that matches, so as the company is re emerging and diversifying, I think personally NASCAR has done a pretty good job; with their social media saviness now and all that stuff, it’s as relevant as it’s ever been. So it’s really unrelated to that.”

Q: You guys introduced a new car months back and the development proceeded along with it. Has that continued up until last week or did you close the door on that weeks ago?
A: “No, We were actually just a few days ago working on data acquisition and all kinds of stuff on that car. We have been developing that car for a few years now and the team is quite passionate about it. It will make a beautiful sculpture. A lot of effort went in that vehicle and a lot of good can came from that vehicle.”

Q: How close were you to thinking that you could pull this off and did Roger Penske see this coming? Or did you depend so heavily on Roger that once he pulled out you didn’t really have an opportunity to do this? And as a follow-up, what would you say to fans who are texting and tweeting and who love NASCAR and who are upset about this?
A: Well, first of all, to the fans that are hopefully listening or will hear of this later, we feel, we feel for you. We feel the same way. Many of our engineers, most, actually the entire motorsports team are fans, as well. And we think exactly like our fans do. We love motorsports and love everything about it.

“We are just as devastated as everyone else. And it’s with a heavy, heavy heart that we hold this conference. It’s with a heavy heart that we feel a little bit like we  disappointed our fans who have been there for a long time through thick and thin. We get it.

“But at the same time, hopefully they understand that we don’t want to show up just to go racing, we want to win.

“Yes, it’s a difficult deal; I’ll be very honest with you. To replace Roger, it’s not easy. As you know, Roger, it took him several years to get to the level where he’s at. These things take a lot of time to develop.

“And of course you have to start somewhere, and starting a third of the way through the season is not easy to do. So that’s pretty much where things were at. I don’t think anyone saw what happened. If you talked to Roger, he would be the first one to tell you this was not in his crystal ball, signing up with Ford at the beginning of last year. It kind of happened.

“Ford has been very aggressive again trying to get critical mass in the sport with some new launches coming up. That’s their strategy. We are not in a position to do the same thing. There’s really no one to do it with. I’ts really a game of musical chairs in NASCAR, is the real deal. They are really shrinking capacity in Carolina.”

Q: Was the 2013 car just the straw that broke the camel’s back?
A: “No, In fact, we were very happy about the 2013 car. The aero testing was positive. I personally thought it was the best looking NASCAR – car – ever. A lot of people, even our competitors were giving us some back slaps about how good the car looked.

“So in that way, I think, again, I have to applaud the teams that are listening to this and our fans that have been really excited to see the 2013 car run. By the way, the Challenger, which I think has done wonders for us in the last few years, looking as good as it has.

“A lot of things are looking  very positive and again, I don’t want to put this on Roger. I think it’s one of those things, it was a very, very long term deal that Ford put in front of them that you couldn’t pass up. We were in a bit of review mode at the time.

“Actually, our intent was to get the best out of NASCAR and really understand how we could get the whole company around it, really get more out of it. That’s always been my goal since taking over motorsports, to really extract the most from these things, because every dollar nowadays has to really be justified.

“So the decision was made at the beginning of this season to put more, I don’t know if you’ve seen our midway activation in the last few races, they have been dramatic. We went from activating six races to over 22 races, which means full displays, car lines; a lot of money was spent on having a bigger presence.

“So unfortunately, the house of cards kind of fell apart. We really apologize to our fans and love our fans. We hope they remain loyal to us as we really make some of the coolest cars on the planet.”

Q: When you knew that Penske wasn’t coming back, did you think you would be able to get this done and are you surprised that you weren’t?
A: “Yeah, we’re all a bit surprised. We worked night and day. I mean, literally, my staff is exhausted from meeting with teams, putting together teams and trying to find the right drivers and everything.

“And at the same time, trying to find new people, incremental people to come to the sport, because again, it’s really tight nowadays. The sponsors are just not as flush as you would think as they used to be.

“So yeah, we had our hopes up just like everyone else, and it was really hard to keep our lips sealed, because the last think we wanted to do was build up expectation and have everything fall apart as it kind of has. We didn’t want this day to come, but it has. And at the same time, we thought we would let our fans know as soon as possible. So we wouldn’t prolong the mystery, so to speak.

“So again, it’s with a heavy heart. I just want to take all of the Dodge fans and give them a big hug, and we can have a beer together, because we are not excited about this but it’s the reality of where we’re at right now.”

Q: When  Dodge first got in, the dealers kind of supported the two Evernham teams. Did you go to them at all to see if there could be that type of arrangement or if you thought about kind of pretty much being the sponsor of a two-car operation just to see if you can get through next year and see if they were making more teams interested?
A: “Yeah, and when you say that, it sounds like you’re talking about cash again. That was not the issue.

“In the past, we had dealers, literally, provided a portion of every car sale to the sponsorship of a team, and that was an experiment. Evernham Racing was there, many others actually, and so that was a pretty exotic set up. We did think about that and some dealers offered that up. But the issue wasn’t that. It’s really, how do you compress time and set up a team from scratch, basically, again, at the highest level of racing in less than seven months.

“so it’s something that, you know, like I said, we are here to win, and just to be frank, that’s what it was about.”

Q: So do you see anybody replacing you as a manufacturer in the sport because if you couldn’t do it who else would be able to do it?
A: “Well, if we knew the answer to that, we wouldn’t be having this phone call.

“Give us time. Again, time changes everything. So we’ll see. No commitments. I know the next questions will be about 2014. Right now we really have to take a deep breath and end the conversations to be fair to all of the people involved so they can move on with their lives and we have to assess everything.

“Again, my apologies to the fans, and really thank them for their support over the years, and hopefully until the end of the season.”

Q: The idea of getting everything turned around from where you got the news with Penske was to a lot of people a long shot. So I guess in some sense there’s no real surprise that you couldn’t put together a great team this year. You almost indicated that you’re going back and hitting the reset button. Are you leaving some of the proposals on the table and trying to pick up from there? Do you have anything, have any offers come in or worked up internally any plans that you can say you can have anything, have any offers come in or worked up internally any plans that you can say well, this is a good starting point and we can at least get a little bit of a leg up seeing where we can go in the future?
A: Wow,, that’s a big question. Very complication situation.

“No, I don’t think I would answer it that way and start building up hope again on various levels. There are a lot of things at play that we have to look at. Right now, it’s more of a situation; we want to let the dust settle. Some of these teams that we are talking with were not exactly sure what they wanted to do themselves, whether they wanted to get in this late, even back in March, things were already late for 2013 in many cases.

“So I would say we are going to whiteboard everything all over again and reassess. It’s just things change, sponsors come and go, and teams come and go, things happen. New drivers show up. Sometimes it’s fun to start fresh but right now, we’ll have to make the best of this time.”

Q: Let’s look at another point, the idea of a privateer. It is very late but you do have a car that you’ve done, as you’ve said, you can develop – so it’s not exactly like you would be starting from scratch. Talk about the possibility that a privateer might come in, especially since you also made a comment everything from driver selection to shops to the engine being stuff that you have to deal with. In one sense you seem to be saying there’s a possibility of a privateer but in the other sense you’re saying there’s a whole bunch of stuff that may make it very difficult.
A: “What I’m saying when I say privateer, I’m talking about the smaller teams that don’t run a full season, that do it for the passion of it. And there’s a lot more than two Dodges running on a given weekend. We sponsor two of them and those are entered through other means. And that’s a different equation.

“That’s something that we have a handful of engines lying around, we have a lot of things related to NASCAR that we have to assess and see if it makes sense to support some of these smaller teams, in kind services, not necessarily cash or big support. But in terms of a factory team, that’s a totally different discussion.

“So, we have to go back and reassess what that means to us. Again, do some due diligence in that. But again out of respect for the people that have been loyal to the brand, we owe it to them to look at what that means for the private teams, the smaller teams.”

Q: What is the potential impact on the Dodge brand conception among consumers and what this might mean in terms of sales?
A: “We don’t know. We have been in this sport since 2001. We’ll have to look at that, we really will.

“I think our cars stand up. I’ve always said this: we make the kind of vehicles that NASCAR is kind of about in a way, rear drive, V8 vehicles. We are one of the most authentic brands out there.  Whether we race or not, our vehicles have credence. We have the hemi, we have the rear-drive, and we have some of the things that are visceral car lovers love. We have a lot of people that drive Dodges and still cheer for Dale Earnhardt.

“There’s a lot of cross pollenization already in that community. So of course it’s something we think about. We know there will be a few fans out there that revold are are upset about this decision and want to go with someone that they see racing. That’s understandable.

“But you know we have to be focused on the business as we always will. We’ll support our dealers and keep making the best cars we know how to make.”

Q: Concerning the announcement, is that leaving NASCAR completely and does that mean that the Dodge support that’s pretty extensive in the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series is gone at the the end of the year as well?
A: “No. This has no impact whatsoever on our Canadian deal. That’s a very, very different deal. That’s a contingency based plan. It’s not even on the magnitude of NASCAR. It’s a very, very different situation. Many, many, private, smaller teams there. That is untouched. Anything we do in ARCA is untouched. So, yeah, we’ll leave it at that.”

Q: As hard as it may be, you still have that opportunity now to throw everything behind Brad Keselowski and Penske Racing’s Chase chances and championship goal. Will you be doing that? And is there any sort of difficulty in doing this because Roger is leaving to go to Ford in 2013?
A: “No, I don’t hold grudges in that way whatsoever. If anything that is the only silver lining here, that our team was split between working on the future car as well as the current situation.

“So of course, now all our efforts are going to be behind Brad and Sam and doing everything in our power to support them. We are doing well. I mean, I’m really proud of what Brad has accomplished and his consistency in the first half of the season. It’s getting really interesting. I think that – championship – would be wonderful. It would be almost a fairy tale story to leave on the highest not possible for now.”

“So thank you, but our commitment to Penske Racing and Dodge brand is unwavering.”

From Darnell Communications for SRT Motorsports – Dodge-PR






Statement From NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France on the departure of Dodge 
“Dodge has been a great partner to NASCAR for many years, and they have been part of numerous memorable moments throughout our history,” said NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France. “They made a business decision not to return in 2013, as they did in 1977 before returning in 2001. We wish them well and hope they again will choose to return to NASCAR at a later date.”

“Our fans have a passion for cars and emotional connections to particular manufacturers, and that’s why in 2013 we will debut new race car designs that are modeled after each manufacturer’s production cars. This change is a direct result of feedback from our fans, who are the most brand loyal in all of sports.”

From NASCAR-PR

SPEED On-Air Analyst Discuss Impact of Dodge’s Exit from NASCAR
Dodge announced today its exit from NASCAR at the conclusion of the 2012 season. SPEED will update this story on tonight’s NASCAR Race Hub at 6pm ET, including an interview with Ralph Gilles, President and CEO, Street and Racing Technology – SRT – Brand and Motorsports.

In the meantime, SPEED on-air personalities offer their perspective below on the news and its impact on the sport and its fans:

“In the Age of the COT,’ the NASCAR role played by Detroit’s ‘Big Three” is nothing like it was in the days when King Richard’s Mopar reigned over stock car racing, and the actual impact on the competition – the only two Dodges on the grid transforming into Fords – will be minimal. But symbolically this is a very big deal; it comes at a very bad time; and it’s a kick in the gut to loyal Dodge fans.”
– Dave Despain, host of Wind Tunnel

“A broad manufacturer base is essential for keeping the sport healthy. It is always sad to see any major backer of the sport leave because of the direct impact on race teams, jobs and fans.

Fortunately, this leaves NASCAR with three very strong manufacturer partners. However, back to the Richard Petty days, a lot of people historically have been Dodge fans, and this will leave a hole in their hearts, and will be a blow to several teams that were hoping for Dodge’s support. Any manufacturer brings technology and support dollars that help strengthen their teams, and absent Dodge, we might have had fewer viable teams in the sport than we have right now.”
-Mike Joy, NASCAR on FOX and SPEED play-by-play announcer and collector car enthusiast

“Dodge leaving is a big deal because it was a big deal when they came back. NASCAR years ago had Ford, Chevy, Buick, Pontiac, Oldsmobile and so forth, but had gotten down to Ford and Chevy. So, when Dodge came back, having a return to ‘The Big Three’ was huge. Therefore, for Dodge to leave now is significant. Sponsorship is down on a lot of cars. Teams running in the back and middle of the field are struggling to find finances and manufacturer support, so with only three manufacturers next year and those three probably entrenched with their current teams, Dodge leaving widens the gap between the ‘haves’ and ‘have-nots.’ When it comes to the fans, there still is a group loyal to particular manufacturers, although that is a small segment. However, whether you’re a Ford, Chevy or Toyota fan, you look at this and figure that if Dodge can pull out, so can any of the remaining three, so this impacts the perception of the sport.”
-Kyle Petty, SPEED analyst and former NASCAR driver

“This is pretty huge. This isn’t years ago when NASCAR had several different manufacturers and if one had pulled out, it wouldn’t have been so noticeable. But in 2012, we only have four, and with one less, this news doesn’t make the right statement about the sport. Anytime a major sponsor of any kind, whether a manufacturer, primary team sponsor or series sponsor packs up and goes home, it doesn’t look good for NASCAR. I don’t think the particular manufacturer’s departure will have much of an impact on the fan base, though, because this isn’t like back in my day when you’d look up in the grandstands and see a Ford hat, a Chevy jacket or a Dodge t-shirt. Back then, a Ford fan didn’t necessarily care who won as long as it was a Ford. We shouldn’t lose fans because of this, whereas 15 or 20 years ago if one of the big ones had left, their fans would have left alongside them.”
-Larry McReynolds, SPEED analyst

“The significance of Dodge’s exit is largely symbolic. Dodge has been the fourth dog in the race for a number of years now. It has had the smallest presence and the fewest number of teams. So in terms of actual impact, it’s not that important, but it’s very symbolic when a manufacturer pulls out because it sends a bad message to fans, sponsors and media. The symbolic impact of this more significant than the actual impact. When it comes to Dodge’s showroom floor, there could be some decline in Charger sales, but that is not the model they really will be pushing with racing. They will be pushing the Dodge Dart and the Viper and SRT Viper.”
Tom Jensen, SPEED.com Editor-in-Chief

From SPEED-Pr

2012 August 7th Martinsville Goodyear Tire Test Q&A with Carl Edwards
Carl Edwards driver of the No. 99 Fastenal Ford Fusion, took part in the test session at Martinsville Speedway today with the recently-approved 2013 NASCAR Fusion. Edwards stopped by the infield media center during the lunch hour to answer questions from the media.

Carl Edwards – “I’m just glad to be here and getting some laps at Martinsville. It’s a track that’s been really, really difficult for me personally and our Roush Fenway team for a couple of years now, so it’s really good for me. It’s nice to get a little extra time to work with Chad and Donnie Wingo and go through some things we’ve always wanted to try here. I guess Goodyear is gonna work with us a little bit more this afternoon and tomorrow. I still haven’t eaten one of those hot dogs yet. I know you’re trying to get me to do that, but I’m trying to get fast without doing that. I like this place. It’s fun to drive. I just want to get faster.

Q: What kind of urgency to you guys have right now?
A: “We are going to every race with one purpose and that is to win that particular race. We watched last weekend. I got a front row seat to watch Jeff Gordon pull it off and do what needed to be done and that’s a motivator right there, to know that we can do this, it can be done, we just have to go out and race these next five races like they’re the most important races in the world – each one of them. I think we made a step towards that last weekend with a fast race car and being a little more aggressive. That last restart, it was frustrating we weren’t able to get up there like the 24 guys did and Jeff did. Hopefully, we can just go out here and have some fun and win a race or two. It would be a huge comeback for us and it would mean a lot.”

Q: Will taking 100 pounds out of the car make a difference?
A: “That’s good. I don’t know if I have this figured out or not, but my theory is – and I think a lot of guys agree – is that we have a very small box that NASCAR has put us in. We have heavy race cars that make a ton of downforce – almost a literal ton of downforce – and a relatively small tire, so Goodyear is put in a very small box where the tires have to make grip, but thy can’t make so much grip and make so much heat that they come apart like they were at Michigan, so something has to give. You either have to make the tires wider and have a bigger contact patch, or the cars have to be lighter, or they have to have less downforce. I think NASCAR recognizes this. They’ve taken the side skirts away and taken a little weight away from the cars and hopefully that will let Goodyear make softer Goodyear tires that fall off more. I know that’s a lot of stuff there, but basically, I’m all for less downforce, tires that fall off, and I really don’t care how heavy the cars are as long as we’re able to race them and the fast cars are able to move through the field. I think that’s a key and I think NASCAR is working really hard. I don’t know how much 100 pounds will make a difference. I don’t know that I really know there is 100 pounds missing out of the car.”

Q: Can you talk about the weather situation on Sunday and if there’s anything more that can be done? Would drivers be in favor of stopping the race and then restarting it after the weather cleared?
A: “I spoke with one of the gentlemen in the hospital up there yesterday that was struck by lightning and he told me the story in detail about what happened to him and his friends and it sounded like a very terrible scene.  I’ve read a little bit about it and I know there’s a lot of discussion about what NASCAR should have done or the track should have done, but I think, at the end of the day, it’s Mother Nature and it’s very difficult for anyone to take responsibility and say, ‘We should have done this or that.’ It’s something that I would have never expected. I walked right of from my hauler to my motorhome in the middle of the rainstorm and I ignorantly didn’t think about the dangers that were there. I think we all maybe take that stuff a little too lightly. I have to tell you that after talking to that gentleman last night, Tony, my thoughts and prayers are with him and his really good friend who is pretty bad off. He’s recovering and that family has lost their father, it’s tragic. I think all of us would be willing to do anything we could do to prevent something like that from happening in the future. At the end of the day, this is sports. It’s suppose to be fun. Everybody is going out there to have a good time and we need to do things the safest way possible. Tony is a really nice guy. To hear what happened at the track is pretty bad.”

Q: Did you talk to him on the phone?
A: “Yeah, I talked to him on the phone. He’s a big 99 fan and the folks at Pocono got me in touch with him. The gentleman that lost his life, that’s just really sad. I believe the way he told the story there were three guys that were injured. Tony, the guy I talked to was injured the least. His one buddy is pretty bad off and his other friend obviously lost his life. From what he told me, I don’t want to speak for him or anything, but it was as big of surprise to him that something like that happened. They didn’t expect that and I don’t think they saw anything coming. They didn’t think they were at that big of a risk. It’s just tragic.”

Q: Should there be more collaboration on something like that between the track and NASCAR?
A: “I don’t want this to come across harsh or anything because I have a huge amount of sympathy for what happened, but at the end of the day every person is responsible for themselves. Now, it is NASCAR and our jobs – if we can, anyone with technology at the track or NASCAR – if we can advise someone and give them information it’s your moral obligation to do that. But I think at the end of the day it’s a good wake-up call for all of us, whether we’re at a race track or walking out of the shopping center to our our cars that they issue storm warnings for a reason. I know myself personally I’ve taken that stuff pretty lightly, even growing up in Missouri with all the severe weather we don’t really think it’s gonna happen to us. But I think at the end of the day it’s each person’s individual responsibility.”

Q: Is there anticipation or eagerness with this new 2013 car?
A: “I’m anticipating the new car. I know walking in the garage and looking at my Ford it looks neat, it looks like a neat race car and that’s part of why I got into racing. I like cars. I like going fast. I like the competition and I really like good-looking race cars. I think it looks a lot better. From a competitive side, it can only be good for us. I feel our team responds really well to changes. With the COT we had a lot of success when it first came on the scene, so I think anything different is good. I think Ford has worked really well with our team so that our car is as good as it can possible be and think it’s gonna be really neat. I think the fans are gonna like it a lot too.”

Q: Any concern about losing something?
A: “No, I’m not concerned about losing anything in the transition. I think the more change on a technical side, if they changed things every week, that would suit me very well. I really like change. I like going to a new track. I like having aerodynamic changes and tire changes – those things are a lot of fun because it’s like everyone is going to a new event and it’s who can figure it out the quickest and that’s something I’ve always enjoyed.”

Q: How frustrating has this season been?
A: “The season has been very frustrating, but the good thing is that we know how fast we can be. We know how good we are. Last season, we performed in that Chase almost flawlessly. We made the very most of everything we could get. We didn’t go out and win any races in the Chase, but we didn’t make any mistakes. I felt we made the absolute most of what we had. Knowing that and knowing that we can do that gives me a lot of hope. If we can just win a race and make this Chase, I feel like we can be as good as anyone. Coming here today it’s pretty cool to see those folks out there. There are folks with 99 shirts  and necklaces and hats. They’re behind us and I think if we can come through for all of our fans and sponsors it would be a huge feeling accomplishment.”

Q: Does it add to the pressure?
A: “I think most of the pressure for me comes from within, so I don’t think anyone could add any pressure to me. I get a lot of pressure that I put on myself every day.”

Q: Thoughts on Penske running Roush Yates Engines and Dodge reportedly leaving NASCAR for next season?
A: “That’s good. The hope is that Penske and Doug Yates can work together and we can have a net positive and our engines can be better. Anytime you bring new people in and you have people working and sharing ideas you have the opportunity for that, so that’s huge. The engine thing could be great for us. When they first announced Penske coming to Ford that’s the first thing a lot of us thought about was, ‘Hey maybe we can work with their engine shop.’ As far as Dodge is concerned, I think they’re making an announcement here in a little while, but at the end of the day every company, corporation, or person has to do what’s best for them. If they decide this is what’s best for their company right now, then I think that’s what they need to do. I have a feeling that they’ll be back. There’s a reason so many people market in NASCAR and so many manufacturers are a part of it because it’s a great way to sell products to people and get the message out to people in a really fun and exciting way. So, hopefully, they’ll be back soon but I wish them all the best in their business and hope whatever they’re working on works out.”

From PCGCampbell for Ford Racing-PR

Pennsylvania 400 Memorial Fund Established
Pocono Raceway has established the Pennsylvania 400 Memorial Fund to benefit the victims of the lightning strike tragedy which occurred following the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Pocono Raceway on Sunday, August 5, 2012.

Donations will be accepted at any PNC Branch or by mailing checks/money orders, addressed to “Pennsylvania 400 Memorial Fund” to the following address:

Pocono Raceway
Attn: Pennsylvania 400 Memorial Fund
1234 Long Pond Road
Long Pond, PA 18334

From Pocono Raceway

Monday, August 6, 2012
Penske Won’t Build Dodge
In an exclusive interview with SPEED.com, Penske Racing President Tim Cindric said Monday afternoon that a potential deal between the team and Dodge to continue building Dodge Sprint Cup engines next year fell apart last week.

As a result, Cindric said, Penske is looking at a variety of options for its Mooresville, NC, engine shop, which currently builds the motors for Penske’s NASCAR Sprint Cup and Nationwide teams. Those options, including building engines for other racing series or selling the engine operation entirely, Cindric told SPEED.com.

Read more from SPEED

NASCAR Driver Parker Kligerman, Brad Keselowski Racing Part Ways
Parker Kligerman and the Brad Keselowski Racing team have parted ways, the driver confirmed to SB Nation on Monday.

Kligerman, who sits sixth in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series point standings entering this weekend’s race at Michigan, told SB Nation via text messae the departure was “a lot to take in.”

Read more from SB Nation

Michael Buffer Lends Voice to Driver Introductions Prior to Irwin Tools Night Race
$10,000 to charity on the line as fans will vote for best intro

Driver introductions for the Sprint Cup races at Bristol Motor Speedway are unique in the sport – and for the upcoming Irwin Tools Night Race, Aug 25, a couple of new twists have been added.

Well-known ring announcer Michael Buffer, whose “Let’s Get Get Ready To Rumble” catchphrase is known world-wide, takes part in driver introductions, adding his distinct voice to each driver’s entrance from a stage in Turn 3 of the track.

Fans have been involved in pre-race ceremonies at BMS before, including introducing themselves before the drivers. This time, BMS guests get to determine who does it best.

Fans will be asked to vote, via the Sprint Unlimited Text to Vote, for the driver’s introduction they like best. The winning driver then will receive $10,000 that will go to his or her favorite charitable organization.

In the distinctive pre-race ceremony at Bristol Motor Speedway, Sprint Cup drivers select a specific song to make their entrance. Many become memorable, including Brad Keselowski’s “Won’t Back Down,” and Tony Stewart’s “How Do You Like Me now?” The highlight of last March’s ceremony featured Denny Hamlin dancing “The Dougie” on his way down the ramp.

Visit BristolTix.com or call toll-free 1-866-415-4158 for ticket information.

From Bristol Motor Speedway-PR

Roush Yates to Provide Ford FR9 NASCAR Engines to Penske Racing
Roush Yates Engines announced today that it will provide Ford FR9 engines to Penske Racing beginning with the 2013 NASCAR season.

Penske Racing announced earlier this year that it would be returning to Ford Racing in 2013 in the Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series.

“It’s truly an honor to provide Penske Racing with Roush Yates Ford engines,” said Doug Yates, CEO of Roush Yates. “I have always admired Roger Penske as a team owner and a respected businessman in our sport and beyond. I am looking forward to many wins, championships, and other successes in supporting the Penske organization.”

Penske Racing fielded Ford entries from 1991 through 2002.

“Ford has been consistent in its belief that we will be stronger with one engine specification rather than continuing with an independent approach,” said Tim Cindric, President of Penske Racing. “Roush Yates has a proven record and we are looking forward to many successes together.”

Penske Racing’s decision effectively reinforces the “One Ford” approach.

“We are very pleased that Penske Racing has decided to use Roush Yates’ FR9 engines as they re-join Ford starting in 2013,” said Jamie Allison, director, Ford Racing. “This aligns well with the spirit of One Ford; having a unified One Ford engine program in NASCAR allows us to apply all of our technical resources into one program benefiting all Ford teams. We believe the FR9 has proven to e a strong engine and by taking the input from our teams and drivers at Roush Fenway, Penske Racing, Richard Petty Motorsports and the Wood Brothers, we know that input, along with the knowledge and technical skills of Ford and Roush Yates, led by Doug Yates, will only make our engine program even more competitive in the future.”

Roush Yates has a history of delivering immediate benefits.

In 2004, Roush and Yates combined their respective Ford engine programs to provide engine packages available to all Ford Racing teams. In its first year of operations, Roush Yates powered Roush Fenway Racing’s No. 97 team to the Sprint Cup Series Championship.

“The ability to work with another championship-caliber organization will take our engine program to a greater level,” Yates said. “We have always prided ourselves in providing consistent power to all of our teams and I am confident that Roush Yates will be stronger as a result of this new relationship.”

From Roush Yates Engines-PR

Pocono: Official Track Statement – Lightning Strike Tragedy
Brandon Igdalsky, President & CEO of Pocono Raceway, Addresses Lightning Strike Tragedy

As reported yesterday, a long time member of our Pocono Raceway family, a spectator has passed away following a lightning strike. According to Monroe County Coroner Robert Allen, the name of the deceased is 41 year old Moosic, Pennsylvania resident Brian Zimmerman. Additionally, nine other individuals were transferred to local hospitals as a results of two separate lightning strikes.

On behalf of the entire staff here at Pocono Raceway, we are deeply saddened by yesterday’s tragic events. As mentioned, our fans are like family to us and we express our deepest condolences to the individuals and families involved, especially Mr. Zimmerman’s.

We work in conjunction with NASCAR regarding safety of fans, teams and other attendees throughout the course of our race weekends. Additionally, we are in constant communication with local and national agencies regarding weather conditions and emergency services.

At approximately 5:01pm Eastern Time, the first lightning strike occurred on property inside our Grandstand Parking area, located near Gate 5A. A Pocono Raceway Grandstand Fire unit was stationed in the vicinity and witnessed the actual strike. The response was immediate as the unit reported the incident to our control tower and advised spectators were injured. CPR was started immediately to Mr. Zimmerman by a friend on the scene.

Within a matter of 3 minutes, medical personnel and additional emergency services reported on the scene and took control of treatment to individuals. EMT responders were approached by additional individuals who reported symptoms related to the lightning strike. Those affected were taken to the Raceway Medical Centers, where they were examined and transported to local area hospitals for treatment and further evaluation. A total of nine individuals were treated as a result of the initial lightning strike.

At approximately 6:35pm Eastern Time, the control tower was notified of a second possible lightning strike in the vicinity near Gate 3. The individual was immediately transported to Pocono Raceway’s Infield Medical Center where they were initially treated for minor injuries before being transported to Pocono Medical Center in Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania for further evaluation.

As stated last night at 7:40 pm Eastern Time, Mr. Zimmerman was confirmed as deceased. Additional information regarding the other nine individuals involved ws not yet available.

At this point in time, the one individual that was in critical condition has now been upgraded to stable. Some have been treated and released. Others involved are pending release as early as today and all are in good spirits. The safety of all guests to Pocono Raceway is of the utmost importance to our entire staff. This tragic event is at the forefront of all of our thoughts and prayers. We will learn from the incident and continue to implement strategies to help ensure the safety of fans and all attendees at future events at Pocono Raceway.

We are in the process of establishing a Memorial Fund for victims of this incident. More information will be released as soon as possible.

From Pocono Raceway-PR

NASCAR Fan identified from Pocono tragedy
NASCAR fans at Pocono Raceway were advised over public address systems and through social media to take cover when lightning and heavy rain hit the track near the end of the race.

The warnings weren’t enough to avoid tragedy at the track on Sunday.

Lightning strikes at Pocono after a rain-shortened NASCAR race killed one fan and injured nine others, one critically, race track officials said.

The Monroe County coroner said Monday that Brian Zimmerman, of Moosic, PA, died as he stood near his car in the parking lot.

Read more from FOX Sports

Sports columnist vacationing in Charleston helps cop subdue suspect
National sports columnist Jerry Bonkowski is tweeting that while vacationing in Charleston this weekend, he helped a cop subdue a man who was breaking into cars.

Bonkowski posted this tweet at 11:39 pm Saturday: “On vaca in Charleston, SC, saw guy break in car and try 2 carjack another. Cop was fighting, so I took guy down, helped arrest. Feelin good!”

Read more from Post and Courier

Johnson’s Smooth Ride Ends in Slide
Sunday’s storyline was developing with near-perfection for Jimmie Johnson at Pocono Raceway.

He had the dominant car in the Pennsylvania 400, seemingly leading laps at will. He had logged 44 laps up front as the field approached what was almost certain to be the day’s final restart with storms approaching from the west.

Read more from SPEED

Busch’s Chase hopes in doubt: Junior maintains points lead
Mechanical failures at Pocono Raceway for Dale Earnhardt Jr and Kyle Busch reaffirmed what both Sprint Cup drivers essentially knew heading into Sunday’s Pennsylvania 400.

When it comes to their Chase for the Sprint Cup bids, the big picture isn’t about points but a push for more victories in the final five races before the “regular season” ends in NASCAR’s premier series.

Read more from USA Today

Thanks for reading, feel free to share your views by commenting below.

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One thought on “News & Views – Volume 38 – August 6 – 12, 2012

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