Monday, January 31, 2011

Mears Expecting Second Child

casey mears In 2010 Casey Mears bounced around from one team to another like a pinball. First driving for Keyed-Up Motorsports before moving onto Tommy Baldwin Racing and Red Bull Racing, Mears finally found a home at Germain Racing for the final races of the season. In 2011 Mears returns to the Germain Racing Team as pilot for the #13 Geico Toyota. According to an interview on Race Hub the team has funding for 18 races and hopes to pick up additional sponsorship as the season progresses.

That wasn’t all Mears had to share on Monday’s edition of Race Hub. We also learned that the 32 year old Bakersfield, CA native and his wife Trisha will be welcoming another child to their family in 2011. The couple welcomed a daughter, Samantha, in October 2008. This time around they are expecting a son.

Congratulations to the Mears family from the entire Skirts and Scuffs family.

Toyota All-Star Showdown: Results and Pastrana's Impressive Debut

Jason Bowles celebrates his NASCAR
Toyota All-Star Showdown victory on
Saturday night.
(Todd Warshaw/Getty Images)
As we count down the final days to the Daytona 500, you may have missed a race that satisfied a bit of the urge for those of us who have the need for speed.

The NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown took place Saturday night at Irwindale Speedway, and among the featured drivers we got to see the debut of motocross and supercross X Games gold medalist Travis Pastrana. Pastrana raced alongside Toyota drivers from all forms of the NASCAR circuits, including the K&N Pro Series, Nationwide Series and Canadian Tire Series, to name a few. The race, which fields 40 cars, is 225 laps and is broken down into three segments. The first segment is 100 laps, followed by a 10-minute break, another 100 laps and 10-minute break, then a final shootout of 25 laps.

The race itself was crash-filled, with a total of 11 cautions and three red flags which found few drivers unscathed at the end of the evening. Auggie Vidovich (who we have seen in the Nationwide Series as a fill-in for Carl Edwards at times and currently drives in the K&N Pro Series West division) was the first caution after his car burst into blames. Sergio Pena and Darrell Wallace Jr., who are bright, young rising stars to keep your eye on, were taken out early with engine issues.

Halfway through the race, Derek Thorn led but was in a close battle with Andrew Myers. Pastrana was on the lead lap but back in 19th position at this point. With a five-second lead over the second-place car of Paulie Harraka, Andrew Myers pulled onto pit road with a flat tire, leaving Harraka to assume the lead. On lap 206, Harraka was still leading when he was hit by Thorn. Harraka and Thorn both suffered damage in the wreck and Thorn was also penalized for aggressive driving. Travis Pastrana was running in ninth as of this caution - keep in mind this is his stockcar debut.

Jason Bowles, the 2009 NASCAR K&N Pro Series West champion, restarted the race in first, but was closely challenged by Greg Pursley and on the final caution Pursley had the upper hand, restarting in first. Upon the restart, Pursley was off the pace due to a tire issue, and Bowles took the lead and never looked back. Bowles had a .320-second lead over the second-place car of DJ Kennington, who had attempted to dive under Bowles but was unsuccessful.

The winner of the 2011 NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown was Jason Bowles. "This is the biggest win of my career," Bowles said.

Travis Pastrana, right, and business partner and NASCAR
Toyota All-Star Showdown Grand Marshal Michael Waltrip.
(Todd Warshaw/Getty Images)
The race was exciting, but I have to admit the most exciting part for me was the debut of Travis Pastrana. We have witnessed other motorsports crossovers before, some successful, some not so much. Dario Franchitti, who is a great IRL driver, attempted NASCAR but with little success. If you have remotely heard of Travis Pastrana, you know he is an extreme sports icon, let alone gold medalist in the X Games, and you probably wonder how he is going to fare in NASCAR. Well, one race is not much to judge on, but I have high hopes for him. He finished in sixth place after starting in 20th and pretty much avoided all the accidents. The only damage on his 99 car at the end of the night was some right front fender damage, but considering all the cautions and crashes, that was an amazing feat.

Although pleased with his finish, Pastrana knows there is still a lot to learn, saying "I'm under no false pretense. We got lucky. I'm really excited just to be out there learning every lap."

Look for Pastrana to make his Nationwide debut on July 30 at Lucas Oil Raceway (formerly O'Reilly Raceway Park).

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Fast Facts: Daytona International Speedway

· Daytona International Speedway opened in 1959, built by NASCAR founder Bill France Sr. 42,000 spectators witnessed the first Daytona 500, held on February 22nd, 1959.
· In addition to the 2.5-mile tri-oval where NASCAR and ARCA races take place, there is a 3.56-mile road course (used for the 24 Hours of Daytona), a 2.95-mile motorcycle road course, and a 0.25-mile karting and motorcycle flat track. Lake Norman, found on the infield, has also hosted powerboat races in the past.
· The Sprint FanZone, opened in 2004, features many ways for fans to get close to the action in the pits. The FanDeck, on top of the garages, allows fans to view track and garage activities, and they can also watch NASCAR tech inspections. The garages include windows and slots for autographs, and the area also features entertainment, food and beverages, and other interactive displays and activities.
· The NASCAR Sprint Cup qualifying record was set by Bill Elliott in his #9 Ford in 1987 (210.364 mph). Elliott returns to Daytona in 2011 and will attempt to make his 29th Daytona 500 start in the #09 Chevrolet of Phoenix Racing.
· The 1979 Daytona 500 was the first live telecast of the race, and what a race it was: the last lap featured the famous fight between Cale Yarborough and Donnie and Bobby Allison.
· The late Dale Earnhardt raced for the Daytona 500 trophy 19 times before finally winning on his 20th attempt in 1998. That wasn’t his first victory at the track however – he had won numerous Gatorade Duals, Bud Shootouts, IROC races, and Coke 400s during his impressive career.
· Find out more about Daytona International Speedway at its website,


Biffle, Edwards to appear on tonight's 'Extreme Makeover: Home Edition'

With the Daytona 500 less than a month away, get ready to see your favorite NASCAR drivers making the rounds on TV to help promote "The Great American Race." Tonight Greg Biffle and Carl Edwards team up to help warn against dangers of texting and driving.

Concord, N.C. (Jan. 28, 2011) -- Roush Fenway Racing teammates Greg Biffle and Carl Edwards will appear on “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” to demonstrate the dangers of texting and driving. The show will air tonight, Jan. 30, at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.

"Texting while driving is incredibly dangerous and I think it's an extremely important message to get out to everyone right now but especially teenage drivers,” Biffle said. “While Carl and I had a lot of fun taping the segment for ‘Extreme Makeover: Home Edition,’ it is a very serious issue. Being a part of the show really opened my eyes to the dangers of texting while driving and I'm sure it will do the same for all of the viewers.  Ford has a great program to educate teenagers about safe driving skills and you can get more information at ("

The RFR teammates’ appearance is in support of the Brown family of Wellman, Texas, who lost their daughter in a tragic auto accident involving texting and driving. Since the accident the family has dedicated their lives to communicating the dangers of this practice. Biffle and Edwards are joined by Justin Beiber and Emma Roberts on the show.

Edwards on during Pro Bowl: In addition to "Extreme Makeover," fans can tune in to see Carl Edwards during tonight's Pro Bowl coverage. The driver of the No. 99 Aflac Ford will appear as a guest commentator during the pre-game show as well as half-time. The Pro Bowl will be broadcast live at 7 p.m. ET on FOX from the Aloha Stadium in Honolulu, Hawaii.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Speak Your Mind: Final take on changes to points system, Chase

Out with the old, in with the new. This seems to be NASCAR's mantra as the sanctioning body this week announced a slew of changes for the 2011 season. There's a new points system, new provisions to the Chase and even a new qualifying procedure. Fans, insiders and media have all weighed in with their opinions, especially about the new points system, including our writers when the changes were first proposed.

Now that the changes are official, the ladies of Skirts and Scuffs give their final take:

Holly Machuga: I like the new points system. It's easier to learn and explain. However, I'm interested in seeing how this changes the teams' approaches. For example, would you risk crashing to win the race, or would you just race to hold your position to gain points that way? Tony Stewart doesn't seem to think that winning is how you will win the championship. Maybe he's right, maybe he's wrong. We'll see how it plays out after the first couple races. 

Paula Thompson: I think the points changes are great, but I was somewhat surprised they didn't add in a "pole point" a la IndyCar. The Chase change will bring an emphasis on winning to the top 12 (remember 2009 when Kyle Busch won four races and missed the Chase?). I'm still most excited about the "choose your championship" rule and the emphasis placed on the up-and-coming drivers, while the rainout qualifying rule change will make for an interesting discussion when the series heads to the road courses. All in all, I think NASCAR did a good job with the changes.

Summer Dreyer: While I don't have a huge problem with NASCAR's new points system, I would have liked to have seen bigger points margins between positions rather than smaller ones. However, this system really isn't going to be much different than the last one as it rewards consistency. I also would have wanted a cut-off point in the results ... like drivers 30th or worse (or something like that) aren't awarded points or it's all the same amount after that. That would discourage starting and parking and it would also keep damaged racecars from returning to the track to earn points. Sometimes they seem to present more of a hazard when they are out there.

As far as the changes to the Chase, I still think 12 drivers are too many for a Chase. Seriously, are we going to have 12 drivers/teams truly capable of winning the championship? Highly doubtful. Regardless, I'm definitely excited to see how this year plays out and what I'm sure will be an exciting year for racing.

Rebecca Kivak: I like the new provisions in the Chase that allow the two drivers with the most wins (who are not already in the top 10 spots but are in the top 20) to make the Chase. I also like that the two wildcards will not receive the bonus points for wins and will be seeded 11th and 12th. This actually makes sense: the new provision rewards drivers for wins by allowing them into the Chase, but because they didn't have consistency, they start at the bottom when the points are reshuffled. Now that those drivers will be in the Chase, it's up to them to climb the points ladder by winning and showing they can be consistent in these 10 races.

While the Chase changes put more emphasis on winning, the new points system does not, and I wish it did. The ratio between 1st and 2nd in the new points system is basically the same as that in the old system. Since NASCAR was going to the change the system anyway, why not make wins count more? I'm not saying to toss out consistency, but after all, the point of racing is to win. But NASCAR has traditionally favored consistency over wins, and that didn't change with the new system. With that being said, I still wish there were a bigger points margin between 1st and 2nd, as well as bigger margins between the top 10 positions. The way the new system appears to work, a bad finish can destroy you, which means there might be less incentive to take those risks to try and win the race if you might finish 35th instead of third. It'll be interesting to see how teams' strategies play out as they try to work toward a championship.

Despite my reservations, I do like the simplicity of the new points system - easier to explain to non-fans and easier to calculate. And I'm excited to see how the new points system and other changes play out this season.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Lionel NASCAR collectables launches new website, social media presence

Concord, N.C. (January 28, 2011) – Today Lionel NASCAR® Collectables (LNC), the official die-cast of NASCAR®, announced the re-launch of which can also be reached through

 The launch is the first phase of a multi-step web rollout that will give die-cast collectors enhanced functionality and the opportunity to interact with Lionel NASCAR® Collectables via the company’s new social media presence.

 “It’s definitely a new day at Lionel NASCAR®,” said Howard Hitchcock, vice president of LNC.

“We’re excited that it will now be easy for NASCAR® fans and collectors to pre-order the official die-cast of NASCAR® and to explore the Racing Collectables Club of America.”

Beginning today, customers can visit the newly designed site, browse through existing product, and pre-order 2011 die-cast cars with ease.  More products will be added in the coming weeks, with the new site becoming fully integrated by mid-March.

A key part of the site is the Racing Collectables Club of America (RCCA), which offers its members access to the most highly detailed and collectable die-cast in the market. RCCA offerings include premium finishes that are unavailable anywhere else, highly limited production runs and exclusive promotions.

Added functionality will also be built into the site, including a corporate blog and links to the company’s new Facebook and Twitter pages. The site will also feature promotions and special offers, such as The Speedweeks Sweepstakes, which is going on now.

“The past few years NASCAR® fans have really embraced social media outlets like Facebook and Twitter.  And, because of our partnership with NASCAR® Team Properties, we’re in a position to give fans unique information that they can’t get anywhere else,” Hitchcock said.

To that end, Lionel NASCAR® Collectables recently hired Michelle Fannin as social media manager. Fannin was previously a product development manager for a collectables company, and also the creator, managing editor and writer of – a popular NASCAR blog written from a fan’s perspective.

In her newly created role, Fannin will oversee the company’s social media presence across a variety of channels – including Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and the new corporate blog.

“I couldn’t be more excited to be working for Lionel NASCAR® Collectables,” Fannin said.

“I’m looking forward to interacting with fans and collectors and creating excitement about the best die-cast offerings on the market.”

“Michelle brings a unique skill set to LNC and really expands our reach directly to the collector and end consumer,” Hitchcock said. “Her involvement keeps us focused on thinking about the collector in everything we do.  We are excited to have her as part of the team.”

“I feel like we now have all the pieces of the puzzle in place to make LNC a true success and a hit with collectors and NASCAR® fans,” Hitchcock said. “It’s going to be a whole new customer experience.”

For more information, please visit or Follow Lionel NASCAR® Collectables on Facebook at and Twitter @LionelNASCAR.

About Lionel NASCAR® Collectables

The official die-cast of NASCAR, Lionel NASCAR® Collectables is the leader in the design, promotion, marketing and distribution of licensed die-cast race cars. A joint venture with the NASCAR® Team Properties and Lionel Electric Trains, LNC makes and sells replica die-cast race cars through a variety of channels, including Corporate, National Accounts, trackside, online, a network of specialty dealers and the Racing Collectables Club of America (RCCA). Made up of a group of experienced merchants, artists, sales people and support staff, LNC has its pulse on the racing community and is committed to giving fans the very best in die-cast collectable cars.  For more information about Lionel NASCAR® Collectables, please visit the Web site at and

Miss Sprint Cup Unveiled

The 2011 Miss Sprint Cup lineup
Miss Sprint Cup held an unveiling party at Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s bar Whisky River in Charlotte, N.C., on Wednesday night to announce the lineup for the upcoming season.

A week earlier, Paige Duke had announced on Facebook and Twitter that she would be returning for her second year. SB Nation writer Jeff Gluck had written an article that Amanda Wright would not be returning, and everyone was left to guess if Monica Palumbo would return - most assumed she wouldn’t.

Each girl was introduced separately at different times of the night, giving them a chance to interact with fans.
First was Paige Duke; we were then treated to a video with pictures of her while Gwyneth Paltrow's song "Country Strong" played. Paige is a country girl straight from Lancaster, S.C. She attended Clemson University and graduated magna cum laude and is still a proud die-hard Tigers fan. She loves animals and during her off-season works at a veterinarian's office. She likes fishing, even for sharks, but her favorite is hunting for deer. There were a few pictures of her riding a bull in her video, and the night's host, Sprint Experience emcee Daryl Motte, dared her to ride the bull at Whisky River. She went for the ride and stayed on for 22.6 seconds. She challenged fans to beat her time and no one was able to do it.

The second Miss Sprint Cup girl introduced is the newest member, Kim Coon, an Orlando, Fla., native and Miami University graduate who went on to get her master's degree from the University of Alabama. AC/DC's song "Thunderstruck" played during her video, which showed us pictures of her ziplining, as well as with her dog, friends and cheerleading. She spent two seasons cheering for the Carolina Panthers and worked in corporate marketing before joining the Miss Sprint Cup team. Kim informed me that she had not met any of the drivers yet; she looks forward to meeting them and all the fans at the Sprint Experience and can't wait to get to Daytona.

The biggest secret and most exciting surprise to all of us was the introduction of the third Miss Sprint Cup, Monica Palumbo. When she walked through the door and out onto the stage, the crowd cheered loudly in excitement - she is coming back for her fourth season. Keeping this a secret was hard for her; she said everyone thought she wouldn’t come back but inside (herself), she wanted to say, “Yes, I’m coming back!” Her video was filled with pictures of memories of her last three seasons as Miss Sprint Cup as the song "American Girl" by Tom Petty played. Monica mentioned that she loves meeting all the returning fans; she remembers faces but not names. She's built a good repertoire with the fans. Lindi Bess wrote an amazing article about Monica last year for Skirts and Scuffs.

Miss Sprint Cup started in 2007 and the representatives are the three ladies whose job is heavily focused on the fans. They keep their 300,000 followers on Facebook and Twitter up to date on current news in the garage. They can be found at the Sprint Experience at every race, where they have contests and give away prizes, including new cell phones. Paige and Monica agree that the most fun part of their job is the chance to hang out in Victory Lane with the winner. Monica advised newcomer Kim to be careful around the Gatorade bottles because they sometimes get hit in the head, and she told her that the champagne was good for her hair.

The first 200 guests to arrive at Wednesday night's event received a gift from Sprint, which was two tickets to the All Star Race this May. Throughout the night, there were contests and raffles where fans either won a cell phone, passes to the Charlotte Motor Speedway - Speedway Club also for the All Star Race, and one lucky man won an autographed helmet by Kurt Busch.

The evening ended with an autograph and photo session for fans.

You can follow Monica Palumbo, Kim Coon and Paige Duke on Twitter.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Charlotte Motor Speedway – Sprint Media Tour Notes and Quotes, Thursday, Jan. 27 Revs Up Performance
The final day of the annual NASCAR Sprint Media Tour hosted by Charlotte Motor Speedway kicked off with an announcement from that focused on improved services catering to race fans.
The site’s current Race Buddy and new NASCAR Fantasy Live programs will feature more detailed data available to NASCAR fans.

“The changes and additions we are implementing are geared toward making the NASCAR fan as excited and engaged in the sport as possible,” said Jason Williams, general manager of

“We see as the 24/7/365 presence of this sport. It’s always on, and it’s always available. And in some cases, it’s the first interaction a new fan has with NASCAR. So, we need to consistently deliver every single product available. It gets them more deeply engaged in the sport, or maybe even introduces them to something they have never experienced before.

“Our redesigned home page will have a lot of new data. Fans can actually watch it change during the race to reflect the status of the race. Our Truck Buddy partnership has continued to grow with SPEED. Every (NASCAR Camping World Truck Series) race will have a Truck Buddy this year. For our Race View product, it will be absolutely the most in-depth and in control a fan can get with both the action on track and some of the data.” is also launching the sport’s first fantasy product with live data through NASCAR Fantasy Live.

“This is a great move and a great innovation,” said Williams, “This is a partnership with NASCAR and a lot of the folks behind the data that comes out of a race. We can utilize the in-race data in a way that engages fans in real time.”

NHRA To Celebrate 60 Years; Muldowney to Greet Fans at 4-Wide Nationals
2011 Shirley Muldowney - Photo Credit: Harold Hinson Photography (HHP) for Charlotte Motor Speedway
The National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) will celebrate its 60th anniversary in 2011. NASCAR Sprint Media Tour participants visited with guests from that sanctioning body on Thursday.

The panel included NHRA President Tom Compton, Charlotte Motor Speedway President and General Manager Marcus Smith, 2010 NHRA Top Fuel Champion Larry Dixon and drag racing legend Shirley Muldowney.

“It’s hard to believe it’s been three years since we sat here and talked about building the Bellagio of drag racing,” Compton said. “At our awards ceremony last November, we presented Bruton [Smith, chairman of Speedway Motorsports, Inc. (SMI)] with a ‘Wally’ trophy for what he’s done for our sport. We’ve never honored a non-driver like that before.”

Compton said that the NHRA will celebrate its 60th season in 2011 with “an homage to hot rods and our fans.” The celebration will include a number of special events, such as vintage car shows, cacklefests, tribute car races, meet-and-greets with legends and displays of the most famous cars to ever run in NHRA competition.

“The NHRA Legends program is how we will introduce our young fans to the glory of the past at races,” said Compton. “Those Legends will participate in special media events before and during races. A very special one is the Walk the Track program, where a lucky group of fans will get to walk the track before final eliminations on Sunday with one of the legends of our sport.”

The 60th anniversary celebration will begin in Pomona, Calif., at the 51st running of the Feb. 24-27 Kragen O’Reilly Auto Parts Winternationals. At that race, Don “The Snake” Prudhomme will be honored and a collection of his race cars will be on display in “The Snake Pit.”

“This year, we have compiled a list of the 60 greatest moments in NHRA history in chronological order,” said Compton. “We’re going to ask our fans throughout the season to exercise their expertise and passion to come up with the ranking of items on this list.”

Compton said Muldowney is on the list of 60 highlights. This summer marks the 35th anniversary of her becoming the first woman to win in Top Fuel in NHRA competition, which she did in Columbus, Ohio, in 1976.

“It wasn’t as hard as people might think [to be a woman in NHRA] because NHRA was the first sanctioning body in any sport to accept women as equal to men,” Muldowney said. “The media supported me from day one. I can’t even remember a bad experience with any member of the media.”
Muldowney will be the featured legendary driver at zMAX Dragway’s NHRA Four-Wide Nationals April 14-17. She will sign autographs and there will be more than 20 historic race cars on display.

Dixon turned in a perfect final-round record on his way to becoming the 2010 champion. He commented on the buildup to the championship.

“It was certainly more than you can ever expect or imagine,” Dixon said. “I really didn’t think about it too much until we got to Indianapolis for the U.S. Nationals. We were nine for nine at that point. I thought, ‘Gosh, if I lose this one, nine out of 10 isn’t bad,’ but I did not want to lose Indy. We had the best light of the day and took it.

“My dad raced Top Fuel cars, not on the full tour like Shirley and Snake and Garlits. Ever since I was a little kid, all I wanted to do was drive Top Fuel cars. I was in Columbus watching when Shirley won her first race. I thought, ‘How cool is that? Not have to have a real job?’ That’s what I was about.”

A reporter asked Marcus Smith how his father Bruton got involved in building dragstrips for NHRA competition.

“He loves cars,” Marcus said. “He loves racing. Jeff Byrd [former general manager of Bristol Motor Speedway] was probably the reason he got involved in drag racing – he had all that experience with NHRA. When we bought Bristol, Byrd said we ought to build a dragway. Dad did it. They built Thunder Valley. Ever since then, it’s become another love of his in racing.

“I grew up in the NASCAR world, but now, it’s fantastic [to be involved with NHRA]. If you haven’t been there, you have to experience it. I haven’t been to a cacklefest before, so I’ll have to see one of those.

“We see the fan base. We see the excitement of the racing. There has been a lot of growth in the last 10 years. SMI has invested hundreds of millions of dollars in NHRA.”

Compton also announced the creation of a limited-edition pewter version of the Wally trophy that will be awarded during the 60th anniversary season.

Roush Gives Team Overview for 2011
Roush Fenway Racing founder and co-owner Jack Roush gave a preview of the 2011 season and his views on the state of NASCAR during the final day of the NASCAR Sprint Media Tour.

Roush noted that 2011 marks the 45th year he has been associated with Ford Motor Company. He also talked about his team’s relationships with its sponsors.

“All of our sponsors agree they continue to see NASCAR as the sport that’s very important to their marketing efforts,” he said. “They see Roush Fenway as an organization that’s a terrific investment and for good reason. For 2011, every Cup program has all new cars built. We have realigned our engineering department and we have new software to run our programs on.”

Roush said that the team’s NASCAR Sprint Cup cars are fully funded for 2011 and that the Nationwide Series entry to be fielded by Carl Edwards is sponsored for about half of the races.

“The economy is getting better,” Roush said. “The challenge now is to bring new partners into the sport.” Roush was joined on the media tour stop by Roush Fenway Racing’s four NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers: Greg Biffle (No. 16 3M Ford), Carl Edwards (No. 99 Aflac Ford), Matt Kenseth (No. 17 Crown Royal Ford) and David Ragan (No. 6 UPS Ford).

Roush Fenway Racing Taking Green Initiative To Heart
2011 Roush Fenway Racing Team - Photo Credit: Harold Hinson Photography (HHP) for Charlotte Motor Speedway
Roush Fenway Racing is becoming more environmentally friendly. According to new team President Steve Newmark, the company has already started enjoying a cost and energy savings and reducing the amount of waste generated by all the race teams.

In 2010, Roush Fenway Racing recycled 96 percent of the race cars it used during NASCAR Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series events. The organization also recycled 200,000 pounds of steel, 66 tons of waste and reduced energy consumption by using new lighting. Roush Fenway Racing is also not burning any fuel to heat its shops, as the company has incorporated a solar panel system that heats the floors of their buildings.

Company founder and co-owner Jack Roush hopes that the “green” efforts will encourage others to follow their lead.

“We want to lead by example,” said Roush. “What we are doing is only a small part in the scheme of things but we hope to change the culture and make for more awareness for energy reduction and recycling. In 2011 our initiative is for air cleaning. We have replaced our paint system with a water based system. There will be no fluorocarbons going into the air. We will also have a no-idling policy for our employees in starting their cars. It’s a small impact, but we are getting the message out. We are reducing our operating costs.”

Ford Racing Presents Special Award to Kennedy
The Ford Motor Company presented the Spirit of Ford Award to Kevin Kennedy, director of Ford Racing public affairs for PCGCampbell, during the NASCAR Sprint Media Tour visit to Roush Fenway Racing.

The presentation marked just the 25th time in the 110 year history of Ford that the award had been given out. Previous winners include Jack Roush; NASCAR’s Bill France Sr. and Bill France Jr.; and racing legends Mario Andretti, John Force and Richard Petty.
Kennedy was moved by the honor.

“I am humbled by this award because of all of those who have won it before,” he said. “I am really blessed that I have been surrounding by great PR people in my career at PCGCampbell. We work as a team and this is as much theirs as it is mine. It’s an honor to represent the Ford Motor Company.”

AFLAC Russ Catlin Award Winners Announced
In a ceremony held Thursday during the NASCAR Sprint Media Tour visit to Roush Fenway Racing, five motorsports journalists received the Russ Catlin Award during the 26th annual Aflac Motorsports Journalism Awards of Excellence presentation.

The awards represent excellence in journalism covering motorsports and are named in honor of former newspaper writer Catlin, who was one of the first writers to cover NASCAR racing.

The Indiana School of Journalism judged the entries in five categories. Each award winner received a trophy and a $1,000 scholarship in their names to the schools of their choice.

The award recipients were: Daily News – Nate Ryan of USA Today; Other News – Chris Johnson of NASCAR Illustrated; National Broadcasting – Lauren Stovall of ESPN; Local Broadcasting – Brian Kessler of Fox News in Denver, Colo.; and Photo-Journalism – Marl Rebilis of US PRESSWIRE.

Joe Gibbs Racing Celebrates 20 Years in NASCAR with Special Guests
The NASCAR Sprint Media Tour stopped at Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) for a presentation celebrating that team’s 20-year history in NASCAR competition.

“Twenty years ago,” JGR owner Joe Gibbs said, “we had 16 employees working in a small leased building. Today, we have more than 400. This is a good time for us. We’ve had two of our most important sponsors re-up in the middle of this financial situation. We’re also adding a Nationwide team this year.”

Gibbs introduced Jimmy Makar, his team’s first crew chief and current vice president of racing operations. The former Washington Redskins coach described Makar as the architect who helped build his team.

“People ask me all the time why I went to work for a football coach who had never owned a race team,” Makar said. “At the time, their driver, Dale Jarrett, had never won a race. I was leaving a team owned by one of the most successful guys in NASCAR, Roger Penske, and their driver, Rusty Wallace, who had a championship and many wins.

“We bought a bunch of stuff from Rick Hendrick so we could get started. We had to design, find, and build a race shop. We had a few things working against us, but we got it together quickly.” Gibbs’ first driver in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series was Jarrett, who brought the team its first Daytona 500 victory. Jarrett appeared at the Media Tour stop by video.

“What a day that was in 1993 at the Daytona 500,” he said, “bringing Joe Gibbs and Jimmy Makar their first and my first Daytona 500 victory. We started preparing for that victory in 1991 getting ready for the 1992 season. No one envisioned that in a little over a year we would be sitting in victory lane at Daytona International Speedway. Later, I got a call from Joe Gibbs telling me before we got to Richmond that he would be quitting his job as coach of the
2011 Tony Stewart with Joe Gibbs - Photo Credit: Harold Hinson Photography (HHP) for Charlotte Motor Speedway
Washington Redskins. I wasn’t sure if one victory was enough to make him give up his job. I got letters from a lot of people who thought it was my idea that he should quit his coaching job.”

Bobby Labonte drove for JGR from 1995 to 2005, during which time he won the 2000 NASCAR Sprint Cup championship.

“What made the team click for that 2000 championship?” Labonte asked. “A lot of things were responsible, but Jimmy Makar and I were very tight. That had a lot to do with it.”

Tony Stewart came on board with JGR in 1997. On Stewart’s reputation for run-ins with NASCAR, Joe Gibbs said, “There were only a few times that were a little bit, uh. then, he became an owner and not one ripple. He doesn’t call Goodyear names, nothing. I wondered, ‘has he had a lobotomy?’ Then, two weeks ago, he came back [referring to Stewart's well-publicized altercation in Australia].

Stewart said, “Hey, I didn’t want you to think I was too far away.”

The 2011 JGR NASCAR Sprint Cup Series line-up includes Denny Hamlin (No. 11 FedEx Toyota), Kyle Busch (No. 18 M&M’s Toyota), and Joey Logano (No. 20 Home Depot Toyota). Brian Scott was recently added to drive a full season for JGR in the NASCAR Nationwide Series.

2011 Miss Sprint Cup Lineup Announced
Sprint unveiled its 2011 Miss Sprint Cup lineup Wednesday night in Charlotte, N.C.
Miss Sprint Cup Lineup: (L-R)-Monica Palumbo, Paige Duke, Kim Coon

Returning Miss Sprint Cup representatives Paige Duke and Monica Palumbo were joined by newcomer Kim Coon. The trio was introduced to a crowd of race fans and motorsports media during the NASCAR Sprint Media Tour at the popular Whisky River nightclub.

Duke has returned for a second season. Palumbo is back for a fourth year.

In addition to making appearances at charity events and NASCAR sponsors’ functions, the three Miss Sprint Cup representatives serve as the “fans’ friend on the inside,” offering behind-the-scenes access through regular video, photo and text updates to their social media followers on Twitter, Facebook and the “Community” page. The Miss Sprint Cup lineup also greets thousands of race fans each weekend at the Sprint Experience, the mobile marketing display Sprint brings to every NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event.

Quotes of the Day
Jack Roush on his 45-year relationship with Ford:
“No matter how old you get, there is somebody that is older that has done more. I think I have been associated with Ford longer than anyone except the Wood Brothers. I am very proud to be associated with Ford all these years.”

NHRA legend Shirley Muldowney on her racing career: “It is amazing where this sport has taken me. Literally everywhere – at least 10 times. I was able to go to Japan for NHRA, where I ran the fastest times they have ever seen in a Top Fuel dragster. I’m told that record still stands. It’s given me a lifestyle, wonderful friends, people that I’ve relied on. To be part of the NHRA’s 60-year anniversary is an honor.”

J.D. Gibbs, president of JGR, on hiring Tony Stewart: “For 1997, we wanted to form a second team. We asked all the guys to write down the name of the driver they wanted the most and put it in a hat. There was one name on every piece of paper. That was Tony Stewart.”

Start times pushed back for Sunday Chase races

The 2010 Chase for the Sprint Cup field. ( Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images for NASCAR)

In the wake of falling ratings and competition from the NFL, NASCAR will push back the start times for the Sunday races in the 2011 Chase for the Sprint Cup, according to a report on

The new start times for the races at Chicagoland, New Hampshire, Dover, Kansas, Talladega and Martinsville will be at 2 p.m. ET, while the races at Texas, Phoenix and Homestead-Miami will start at 3 p.m. ET. Charlotte is a Saturday night race.

In 2010, six of the 10 races in NASCAR's playoffs started at 1 p.m. ET Sunday, which conflicted with the kickoff times for the early afternoon NFL games. The NFL has the highest ratings of any televised sports.

Last year was the first that ESPN broadcast the nine Sunday races in the Chase, which were previously carried by ABC. The ratings for those nine races were down at least 15 percent from the previous year. Overall ratings fell by more than 20 percent for seven races.

ESPN will remain the home of the nine Sunday races in the Chase for 2011.

In a move said to satisfy its fans, NASCAR implemented consistent start times for the race broadcasts in 2010, promoting the "1-3-7:30" logo throughout the season. Sunday races at East Coast tracks started at 1 p.m. ET and those at West Coast tracks began at 3 p.m. ET, with Saturday races starting at 7:30 p.m. ET.

The "1-3-7:30" start times are expected to remain the same for the 2011 regular season races.

Baby Boom at Roush-Fenway Racing

biffle The boys at Roush-Fenway racing have been drinking the NASCAR baby boom water again. Today we learned that three of the four Sprint Cup Series drivers who call RFR home are expecting children this season.

Matt and Katie Kenseth who welcomed a daughter, Kaylin Nicola in July 2009, are expecting their second child. There is no report as the the sex of the child, only that Katie is expected to give birth early in the season. Kenseth has a son, Ross, from a previous relationship.

Carl and Kate Edwards are also expecting a second child. Edwards became a father for the first time in February 2010 when the couple welcomed daughter Anne.

Becoming parents for the first time this season are Greg and Nicole Biffle. The Biffles, who married in October, are expecting in July. After meeting with the doctor today, the proud father-to-be tweeted:
@gbiffle - Its a girl!!!! Barbie doll not a fishing rod
When asked about the baby boom at Roush-Fenway Racing, teammate David Ragan joked, saying, “I don’t even know how to make babies.”

Is a sponsorship from Babies 'R Us in Roush-Fenway’s future? Will Jack build a daycare center at his Concord shop? All joking aside, we’d like to congratulate the Kenseth, Edwards and Biffle families on their good news.

NASCAR.COM Launches Season Long Truck RaceBuddy for Bonus Coverage of the Entire NASCAR Camping World Truck Series

Truck RaceBuddy to Provide Bonus Live Video for all
Twenty-Five Truck Series Races starting Feb. 18 in Daytona


NASCAR.COM announced today that Truck RaceBuddy, the award-winning multiplatform experience, will offer live complementary video of the entire NASCAR Camping World Truck Series season.  For all twenty-five races, Truck RaceBuddy will provide an immersive experience to complement televised coverage of the event, carried live and exclusively on SPEED™.  Coverage will be from the drop of the green flag to victory lane with four customizable camera angles including the In-Truck Camera and Battle Cam enhancing the fans’ television viewing experience and bringing them closer to all the race action.

Truck RaceBuddy will provide live feeds of the racing action from four different camera angles and the mosaic view, all featuring the natural sounds of the at-track action:
  • Backstretch Cam: Through the Backstretch Cam, fans can view feeds from cameras positioned around the track
  • In-Truck Cams: In-Truck Cams will allow fans to watch and listen-in on all the action from inside the vehicle.
  • Battle Cam:  With this view, fans will experience the most intense head-to-head competitions between drivers on the track throughout the race.
  • Mosaic View: This camera allows fans an opportunity to view all four streams at once
Truck RaceBuddy also gives fans a chance to connect with other NASCAR Camping World Truck Series enthusiasts through social networking sites with an online real-time chat.

“For select races the past couple seasons, RaceBuddy on NASCAR.COM has provided fans with an interactive, complementary viewing experience to enhance and create greater engagement with the TV broadcast,” said Matthew Hong, senior vice president and general manager of sports operations, Turner Sports. “We are delighted to work with our friends at SPEED and announce a season-long Truck RaceBuddy which will make this product available to fans for every Camping World Truck Series race in 2011.”

NASCAR Sprint Media Tour Notes and Quotes - Wednesday, Jan. 26, 2011

NASCAR Restructures Point System and Method for Setting Chase Field

NASCAR announced Wednesday it would restructure the way it awards points and how it sets the field for the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup in 2011.

Brian France, NASCAR chairman and chief executive officer, made the announcements at the NASCAR Hall of Fame during the annual NASCAR Sprint Media Tour hosted by Charlotte Motor Speedway.

The new points system – which applies to all NASCAR national series – will award points in one-point increments. As an example, in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, race winners will earn 43 points, plus three bonus points for the win. Winners also can earn an extra point for leading a lap and leading the most laps, bringing their total to a possible maximum of 48 points.

All other drivers in a finishing order will be separated by one-point increments. A second-place finisher will earn 42 points, a third-place driver 41 points, and so on. A last-place finisher – 43rd place – earns one point. In the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, the last-place finisher receives eight points, to account for that series’ 36-driver race field.

When addressing the 2011 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, France indicated the 12-driver Chase field will remain intact, however the final two spots will be determined by the number of wins during the first 26 races. The top 10 in points following Race No. 26 – the “cutoff” race – continue to earn Chase berths. Positions 11 and 12 are “wild card” qualifiers and will go to non-top-10-ranked drivers with the most wins, as long as they’re ranked in the top 20 in points. The top-10 Chase drivers will continue to be seeded based on wins during the first 26 races, with each win worth three bonus points. The wild card drivers will not receive bonus points for wins and will be seeded 11th and 12th, respectively. It’s a move aimed towards rewarding winning and consistency during the regular season.

“The fans tell us that winning matters the most with them, so we’re combining the tradition of consistency in our sport with the excitement that comes along with winning,” said France. “This makes every race count leading into the 26th race of the season at Richmond, when we set the field for the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.”

Marcus Smith, president and general manager of Charlotte Motor Speedway, weighed-in on the changes.

“I think it makes for a simpler system,” he said.” I like a lot of other fans had to break out the book to figure it out, to see how the points worked. Even with years and years of being involved in the sport it was difficult to know exactly how the points would shake out to be in a given race. Now we know it’s very simple. The margin of points has not changed a tremendous amount, but they have put more emphasis on winning which as a fan I love and I think all of the fans out there will really like it as well.”

Other announcements made by NASCAR Wednesday include:

Pick a Series – Drivers in all three national series now must select the series where they’ll compete for a driver championship. Drivers still may compete in multiple series and help their teams win owner titles in series where they’re not competing for a driver title. The move helps spotlight young talent in the NASCAR Nationwide and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series.

New Qualifying Procedure – The qualifying order will be set based upon slowest to fastest practice speeds.
Inclement Weather Qualifying – If bad weather cancels qualifying, the final starting lineup will be determined by practice speeds. The same rule book procedures will be used to determine eligibility to start a race. If weather cancels practice sessions, then the starting lineup will be set by points, per the rule book.

Tire Rules Revision – NASCAR Sprint Cup Series teams now are allowed five sets of tires for practice and qualifying instead of six. They must return four of those sets to Goodyear in order to receive their race allotment, and may keep one set of practice/qualifying tires. Tire allotments for race weekends will vary according to historical performance data.

Closed Loop Fueling System – Introduced in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, this goes into effect for all three national series in 2011. It combines a more efficient fueling system with the elimination of the catch-can man, considered the most “vulnerable” pit-crew member. Teams now will use six, rather than seven, over-the-wall pit-crew members.

Evolution Of NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Car – NASCAR continues to work with the manufacturers and teams to enhance the look of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series car. The cars have new fronts this season and the body makeover will continue to help appeal to fans and aid manufacturer identity.

Furniture Row Racing Details Season Plans At New Retail Store

The third day of the annual NASCAR Sprint Cup Media Tour hosted by Charlotte Motor Speedway began with a breakfast visit to the Charlotte, N.C., area’s new Furniture Row retail store and its NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race team. This marked the first time in the 29-year history of the tour that participants visited a retail store for a presentation.

Regan Smith, 2008 Sprint Cup rookie of the year, will drive Furniture Row Racing’s (FRR) No. 78 Chevrolet Impala. Smith was the first rookie in Cup history to finish every race he started.

FRR is based in Denver, Colo., far removed from most of the other NASCAR Sprint Cup teams. General Manager Joe Garone noted the reason the team is located there.

“Barney Visser, the company owner, lives in Denver, and the company headquarters is located there,” said Garone. “It just made sense to start racing right there. The first couple of years were just about trying to get it all done. We worked out all the bugs so we could make that happen. The biggest thing is in preparation. We have to be prepared. The other big challenge is moving all the pieces around. We have to get chassis and engines and all the parts. At the end of the day it’s about trucking.”

Garone spoke of the team’s 2011 season plans.

“We wanted to get one team working very well. We feel that with the addition of the guys we have, we are getting there. And, we would really like to get a second team going. One of the biggest advantages for us is that we are a fully funded race team, but we are actively seeking sponsorship to get a second team going.”
Mark McArdle is FRR’s managing director of competition and related how the team has progressed.

“I think we have the perspective of what a race team can accomplish,” said McArdle. “We are going forward, and we have everything in place to take the team to the next level of competition.”

Pete Rondeau will resume his role as crew chief for 2011.

“I’m relating better to Regan,” said Rondeau. “We have a good relationship and are working to get better. We just need to keep on with the way we ended last year, and that is with consistency. We are working harder at getting the most from the race car.”

Twenty-seven-year-old driver Smith has come a long way with the team and thinks the new year has promise.

“From my standpoint and the team’s standpoint, if we can continue to build on the way we finished last year, that is what our goals are,” said Smith. “We want to make the same level of progression this year and step up. I think the team can run in the top 10 consistently. That’s exciting for us. I have been here three years now and saw where we came from to where it is today. It’s been a lot of hard work, I know. It’s been kind of neat to see this whole program grow.”

Richard Petty Motorsports Addresses Financial Issues, Optimistic About 2011

During a press conference in Charlotte Motor Speedway’s NASCAR Nationwide Series garage, representatives from Richard Petty Motorsports (RPM) and Ford Racing made 2011 season sponsor announcements and gave 100 lucky race fans track rides in Ford Mustangs.

Richard Petty opened by thanking the fans in attendance and his sponsors, briefly referring to the financial problems that beset RPM throughout 2010 and led many to speculate Petty had seen his final season as a car owner. The seven-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion joined with two investment companies toward the end of 2010 to buy RPM’s assets; he now serves as chairman of the reorganized group.

“We had a pretty rough time last year,” Petty said, “but everybody stayed with us. The sponsors stayed with us through the winter and came back on board for the new season. I have to give our crew a lot of credit. For the last five or six races, they didn’t know if they were going to have a job the next week, but they stepped it up, the drivers stepped it up, and we ended up with a pretty good season.

“As everybody knows, we had four cars last year; we’re going to have two cars this year.”

Stanley Tools, which has been involved with RPM since 2005, is returning as a sponsor of the No. 9 Ford Fusion driven by Marcos Ambrose. The tool-maker and DeWalt, which returns to NASCAR action for 2011, will serve as primary sponsors.

A.J. Allmendinger will pilot the No. 43 Ford Fusion, which will have Best Buy sponsorship for 24 races, with Valvoline, U.S. Air Force, WIX Filters, Reynolds, and Paralyzed Veterans of America filling out the package.

Andrew Murstein, president of Medallion Financial, spoke about his company’s investment in RPM.

“My father got his start in 1937 as a taxi driver in New York City,” Murstein said. “He began buying taxi medallions [city-issued licenses] and eventually acquired hundreds of them that now trade for $800,000 each. That’s the way we view all investments. Like with those medallions, I hope that 70 years from now my children are involved just like Richard’s family is involved in his business.”

Since going public with its stock in 1996 (Nasdaq symbol: TAXI), Medallion has invested more than $3.5 billion in companies such as RPM.

“All of our companies fit the same model we have here – a great tradition and great integrity. The board of directors of my company includes Hank Aaron – another ‘King’ of his sport – who reminds me a lot of Richard. Both are very humble men and legends who have transformed their sports.”

Director of Ford North America Motorsports, Jamie Allison, spoke about Ford’s commitment to Petty’s team.

“We at Ford really believe in the new RPM. RPM is very important to us. We have a long and illustrious tradition in the sport. We have a great team between Roush Fenway Racing, RPM, and the Wood Brothers and we stick with our teams. When Richard reached out to us last year, there was not a moment of consideration on our part. Our chairman, Edsel Ford – the chairman of Ford Racing – absolutely felt in his heart that it was the right thing to do, to make sure the legacy of Richard Petty continues.

“It is the steady hand of Robbie Loomis [RPM’s director of competition] that will guide this team. He is very tenured, very accomplished, and we are looking forward to going where he has been – on championship row.

“And let’s not forget the guys who are going to pilot these cars. A.J. Allmendinger is returning for his second year with the team. We are thrilled to have that. Marcos Ambrose, a champion from Australia, is here to make his claim on NASCAR. We are energized and very excited.”

A.J. Allmendinger was very positive about the new organization.

“I think the team has a ton of potential,” he said. “Mike Shiplett, my crew chief, is sitting right here, although I think he should be working right now. I promise you guys that Mike is going to be one of the greatest crew chiefs in this sport, because I see that from him on a daily basis. The work ethic he puts into the job trickles down to the rest of the race team.

“Marcos, I’m excited to have you on this team. I’m looking forward to being your teammate. Maybe you won’t run into me as much now.”

Marcos Ambrose spoke for a few minutes about his place on the NASCAR learning curve, but could not resist a playful jab at Allmendinger.

“If I was running into A.J. on the track, he was probably going too slow. I’m also looking forward to having him as a teammate.”

Bobby Allison with media Wednesday
at Charlotte Motor Speedway
Hall of Fame’s Kelley Recognizes Ford Racing Tie with 2011 Induction Class

Winston Kelley, executive director of the NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte, N.C., welcomed NASCAR Sprint Media Tour participants to a Ford Racing-sponsored lunch at The Speedway Club at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

“We are honored at the Hall of Fame,” Kelley said, “to have entertained and educated more than 200,000 guests since opening in May of last year and we are on track to have higher numbers than any other sports Hall of Fame in North America other than the [National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y.].

“We have annual members from 44 states and five countries. They travel an average of 300 miles, and 57 percent said they came to Charlotte specifically to visit the Hall of Fame. We’re happy to be here with one of our strongest partners, Charlotte Motor Speedway, which contributes more than $400 million to the economy.

“The 2011 NASCAR Hall of Fame induction class has a definitive Ford tie - four of the five with long and strong ties to the company,” Kelley continued. “If you add in Richard Petty’s current relationship, all five have been tied to Ford. Each has played an integral role in the 110 years of Ford Racing. We hope all of you will join us at the May 23 induction ceremony.”

The 2011 class comprises Ned Jarrett (Ford’s first NASCAR Cup champion and all-time winningest driver in Ford’s NASCAR history), Bobby Allison (third on the all-time NASCAR Cup victories list), Bud Moore (whose cars finished in the top 10 in half of their 959 starts), Lee Petty, and David Pearson.

Hendrick Motorsports Driver/Crew Chief Changes in the Spotlight for 2011

Wednesday afternoon saw the NASCAR Sprint Media Tour hosted by Charlotte Motor Speedway make a stop at Hendrick Motorsports where the team’s drivers and crew chiefs discussed their 2011 season plans. The team has new driver/crew chief combinations, making personnel adjustments to three of the four teams. Only driver Jimmie Johnson and crew chief Chad Knaus remain together as the 2011 season gets underway.

Team owner Rick Hendrick talked about his state-of-the-sport views and their expectations for the year.

“It’s awesome to start the new year,” said Hendrick. “I don’t think as an organization we were as strong as the competition. We were thinking about it during the year and selecting the lineup. We didn’t want to go outside the walls. All of our employees show and do their best. I think we will have a good year and that we will all work together, and I will be happy. I have a lot of confidence in the organization.”

Hendrick also feels that the sport is rebounding from the bad economic conditions.

“I feel like we are coming back now,” said Hendrick. “The automobile business is selling more cars. The economy feels better. I have to say that NASCAR has gone above and beyond to reach out and work with all the teams, the drivers, and the crew chiefs and listen to the fans. I just feel better about our sport in general. I think the competition is there.”

NASCAR veteran Mark Martin, driver of Hendrick’s No. 5 Chevrolet, said, “I will absolutely, without a doubt, be driving race cars next year. I am not going to be in any hurry to worry about that. I’m focused on 2011 and really enjoying being a part of Hendrick Motorsports. We have a really strong team and Lance [McGrew, Martin’s crew chief] is really a smart guy. This is the fun stuff right here in front of us. Hopefully, we can realize our potential.”

Four-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champion Jeff Gordon, driver of Hendrick’s No. 24 Chevrolet, said, “I’m really excited to have Drive to End Hunger as a sponsor as well as continuing with DuPont for 13 races. We have a great lineup. I think our team at Hendrick Motorsports is capable of having a strong season.”

Driver of the No. 88 AMP Energy Chevrolet Dale Earnhardt Jr. said, “I’m thankful to have the opportunity in this sport that I have. This is the best of my career. I’m looking forward to just getting started. We had a good Daytona test in January. We have seen all the teams practice well. A lot of the work goes on in the shop, and you don’t see it, so I think we have a good opportunity. I think the more we are around the race car, the better we can be for the season. We have to understand what makes each of us tick a little better.”

Five-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champion Jimmie Johnson, driver of the No. 88 Lowe’s Chevrolet, said, “We have some great fun and have a great relationship with Lowe’s. We are all proud of Hendrick Motorsports and all we have accomplished. It’s been amazing. It’s all work. Yes, there is change in the organization, but we all work together. We are trying to do a better job with this. There are just a lot of hungry people walking around here.”

ESPN Starts Fifth Year of Sprint Cup Coverage
At a dinner hosted by ESPN Tuesday evening, Andy Hall, manager, media relations for ESPN, announced the network was excited about starting its fifth year of an eight-year deal to broadcast NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and Nationwide Series races with only minor changes to the program.

“We’ll pretty much have the same schedule we’ve been running since we started this contract in 2007,” Hall said. “Our NASCAR races are a strong property, and we are looking forward to the season.

“Ray Evernham won’t be with us any more because he went back to work for Hendrick [Companies]. That just means a little more work for Ricky Craven, who is going to be doing booth analysis for seven Nationwide races and will continue his role with our studio programming.”

Hall also noted that ESPN has extended Rusty Wallace’s agreement through 2014. Wallace is an analyst for ESPN’s NASCAR studio programs, including NASCAR Countdown and NASCAR Now.

Red Bull Racing Welcomes Back Vickers, Prepares for One Year with Kahne

Jay Frye, general manager of Red Bull Racing (RBR), introduced the team’s 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers – Brian Vickers and Kasey Kahne – who visited with the media in a one-on-one format on the second day of the NASCAR Sprint Media Tour.

Vickers is returning to the No. 83 Red Bull Toyota for the 2011 season after an extended medical break from racing. Since May, 2010, Vickers has been treated for blood clots in his legs and lungs, received two surgeries to mend a hole in his heart, and had a stent inserted into his left leg. The 27-year-old driver was cleared to race without limitations at the end of last 2010.

“It was obviously a long process,” Vickers said. “Not only finding out what happened, but how to solve it. Going through the surgeries, having the heart surgery. Training again to get back in the routine. Going back to my first steps. Going through the first steps at Disney [testing at Walt Disney World Speedway in Orlando, Florida] was a really big moment. Being back in the car… I wasn’t sure if I was ever going to race again.
“How tough is it to watch racing and not be racing? I find racing very entertaining,” Vickers said. “Watching a Cup race you are supposed to be in sucks! It is just horrible. I talked to some other guys who experienced that. I talked to Kyle Petty, who was out of his car for a period of time. It’s painful. I didn’t go to all of the races because of that. When I was there, I was just miserable.

“What do I expect from the Daytona 500 next month? To win the race.”

Kahne comes to RBR for a unique one-year-only contract after a disappointing partial 2010 season with Richard Petty Motorsports. His ride for 2011 is the No. 4 RBR Toyota – a number the team was able to “borrow” through NASCAR from Morgan-McClure Motorsports, which used the number from 1983 through 2009. The number, which is significant to Kahne’s open-wheel racing history, will return to Morgan-McClure in 2012 when Kahne begins driving the No. 5 Chevrolet for Hendrick Motorsports.

Like his teammate, but to a lesser extent, Kahne experienced some health issues toward the end of 2010. The long-distance running enthusiast had painful knee problems when the plica in his kneecap became inflamed. Arthroscopic surgery two days after the end of the 2010 season gave the 30-year-old full use of his legs.

“I don’t even feel them when I’m sitting in the race car,”  Kahne said. “They feel better now than they felt at the end of last year. From what I understand, we are all born with plica but it usually goes away. Mine didn’t, so it rubbed on my joints. Then, I tore the meniscus on my right knee and had to live with it all year. I was lucky it didn’t affect me enough to slow me down. I just kept going.

“The toughest part [of working with RPM] was going into the year [2010]. I was pretty excited. Then, it really fell apart pretty quickly. I broke a ton of parts. I lost brakes several times [including during the Bank of America 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway in October]. There were a lot of little things like that. I was worn out. Some other stuff happened later in the season. I made my mind up that I needed a change. I was happy I moved on when I did.

“All they’ve (RBR) done is work to build the best cars. They are working on stuff to have the right cars and win races. The best part about it is to know I’m with a stable team, and I’m with a stable group of people who want to win races and won’t take shortcuts.”

Quotes of the Day

Brian France, NASCAR chairman and chief executive officer, on the points restructuring: “Many of our most loyal fans don’t fully understand the points system we have used to date,” he said, referencing the system that has been in use since 1975. “So, we are simplifying the points system to one that is much easier to understand. Conceptually, it is comparable to our previous system, but it is easier to follow.”

Marcus Smith, president and general manager of Charlotte Motor Speedway, on the points restructuring: “I think it makes for a simpler system,” he said.” I like a lot of other fans had to break out the book to figure it out, to see how the points worked. Even with years and years of being involved in the sport it was difficult to know exactly how the points would shake out to be in a given race. Now we know it’s very simple. The margin of points has not changed a tremendous amount, but they have put more emphasis on winning which as a fan I love and I think all of the fans out there will really like it as well.”

Director of Ford North America Motorsports, Jamie Allison, on Ford Racing’s rich tradition: “We like reaching milestones at Ford. The first is that this is Henry Ford’s 110th anniversary of racing. Ford himself raced once and won the race he entered. That win attracted the investors he needed to start Ford Motor Company. We have 599 Cup wins – The King (Richard Petty) is responsible for nine of those – so, obviously, we’re going for the 600 club very soon. We want it bad and we want it at Daytona. Destiny is on our side, legend is on our side, and the future is on our side.”

Rick Hendrick on the driver/crew chief changes at Hendrick Motorsports: “We just felt a realignment would get us smart and some synergy. It’s not like these guys haven’t worked together. So far in practice, I think we are poised for a very good year. I will really be surprised if all four teams are not better going in to 2011 than we were in 2010. Our goal, as always, is for all four teams to get in The Chase [for the Sprint Cup], win races, and compete for the championship.”

Ken Howes, vice president of competition at Hendrick Motorsports, on starting the 2011 season: “You get a little nervous this time of year because you don’t know what the other teams have figured out. We are still learning about the cars, and it’s an ongoing thing. We do our final preparations and go with what we have and know. You never get ready; it’s just time to go.”

Brian Vickers on what it was like to sit out part of the 2010 season: “I’ve used this quote several times, and I have to give Dale Earnhardt credit for it: He said being out of the car was like watching his wife cheat on him. Sitting on top of that box, I know exactly what he went through.”

Kasey Kahne on his decision to leave Richard Petty Motorsports in 2010: “I didn’t really have a next step for 2011, but this whole Red Bull thing came together, and it’s as good as anything I’ve ever had – if not the best thing I’ve ever had. It’s pretty exciting. I look forward to the whole season."

- Release courtesy of Charlotte Motor Speedway

Drive for Diversity Introduces Drivers for 2011

2011 Charlotte Jan Media Tour Drive For Diversity Class Photo CHARLOTTE, N.C. (Jan. 26, 2011) – NASCAR and Revolution Racing announced the 2011 driver lineup – the eighth season for the Drive for Diversity (D4D) program – tonight during NASCAR’s annual Charlotte Media Tour at the NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte, N.C.

This year, the D4D initiative looks to build upon its success in 2010. Ten drivers will participate in the 2011 Drive for Diversity Program – four in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East and six in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series.

Last year, former Dale Earnhardt Inc. President Max Siegel created the Revolution Racing team along with former DEI and Robby Gordon Motorsports executive John Story. All 10 drivers will race for the team, which is headquartered in Mooresville, N.C.

The NASCAR K&N Pro Series East teams are operated under the direction of four-time K&N Pro Series champion Andy Santerre, and the six NASCAR Whelen All-American Series teams are led by former Greenville-Pickens (S.C.) Speedway track champion Blair Addis.

Revolution Racing is a minority owned NASCAR franchise whose mission is to develop minority and female drivers, pit crew members and mechanics through an “academy-style” training model. All D4D competitors relocated to Mooresville and entered the development program under the single team ownership structure.

“As team owners, John Story and I appreciate the commitment and support NASCAR has given our academy-style training model,” Siegel said. “Revolution Racing’s historic on-track performance last year validates our driver development model. I am proud to be able to provide opportunities for minority and female drivers, crew members and mechanics.”

Entering its eighth season, Drive for Diversity is NASCAR’s leading on-track diversity initiative. The program is designed to give young minority and female drivers opportunities to compete with established NASCAR teams at the grassroots level. Since 2004, 42 drivers have competed in Drive for Diversity, winning 38 races.

“We are proud of the progress this important initiative and its drivers have made over the past eight years,” said Marcus Jadotte, managing director of public affairs for NASCAR. “We look forward to the continued leadership of Max Siegel, which is bringing Drive for Diversity to the next level.”

This year’s class represents drivers from across North America. Six drivers will return from 2010.

Last year, the eleven drivers combined for five wins. African-American driver Darrell Wallace Jr., who will return for his second year, earned rookie-of-the-year honors. He became the youngest to ever win the award in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East. Hispanic driver Sergio Peña won the pole for the Toyota All-Star Showdown at Toyota Speedway in Irwindale, Calif., then finished second to 2009 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Rookie of the Year Joey Logano.

Over 200 minority and female drivers applied to be part of the 2011 Drive for Diversity class. Thirty-six of those applicants were invited to tryout at the NASCAR Drive for Diversity Combine presented by Sunoco last October at Motor Mile Speedway in Radford, Va. Drivers were selected by Revolution Racing and NASCAR officials based on their on-track performance and off-track interviews.

NASCAR and Revolution Racing selected the following 10 drivers to compete in the program:
  • Jorge Arteaga of Aguascalientes, Mex. will race in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series. Arteaga made three starts in the 2010 NASCAR K&N Pro Series including a 10th-place finish in his debut at Lee USA Speedway on July 30th. He won the 2010 NASCAR Mexico Series Most Popular Driver Award.
  • Mackena Bell of Carson City, Nev. returns to the Drive for Diversity Program for a second season, and will race in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series. In 2010, three of her five starts in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series were top fives, while her best finish came on Aug. 20 where she finished second.
  • Jessica Brunelli of Hayward, Calif. will race in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series. Her 2010 season included six top-five and 10 top-10 finishes. She returns to the Drive for Diversity program for a second season.
  • Michael Cherry of Valrico, Fla. returns to the Drive for Diversity Program for a third season and will race in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East. Last year he competed in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series, becoming the first African-American to win a late model race at Tri-County Motor Speedway in Hudson, N.C. The win also was his first career late model stock car victory.
  • Trey Gibson of Easley, S.C. will race in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series. In 2010, Gibson ran a full schedule of late model stock cars at Greenville-Pickens Speedway where he had two poles, two wins, 11 top fives and 20 top 10s. He made history by becoming the youngest driver to win a late model race at the historic Greenville-Pickens Speedway.
  • Ryan Gifford of Winchester, Tenn. returns to the Drive for Diversity Program for a second season, racing in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East. Last year, Gifford became the first African-American in NASCAR K&N Pro Series East history to win a pole position, on June 6. Gifford ran 10 races for Revolution Racing in 2010 in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East, recording four top-five finishes, one pole and a 10th-place finish in season points.
  • Tayla Orleans of Randleman, N.C. will race in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series. From age 7, in her first 120 races she recorded 31 wins and 92 top fives. Since that time, she has won numerous karting championships and honors that include becoming the youngest stock car winner in the history of Waterford (Conn.) Speedbowl history.
  • Bryan Ortiz of Bayamon, Puerto Rico will race in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series. In 2010, Ortiz drove for Sterling Marlin Racing in the Sunoco National Tour, recording a pole and four top-three finishes in seven races. He won rookie-of-the-year honors after capturing rookie of the race awards in all seven starts.
  • Sergio Peña of Winchester, Va. returns to the Drive for Diversity Program for a second season, and will race in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East. He entered his first NASCAR K&N Pro Series race at last season’s Toyota All-Star Showdown at Toyota Speedway in Irwindale, Calif., winning the pole, and finishing second to 2009 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Rookie of the Year Joey Logano.
  • Darrell Wallace Jr. of Mobile, Ala. will race in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East, and returns to the Drive for Diversity Program for a second season. Wallace was the youngest and first African-American to win a race androokie-of-the-year honors in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East. He captured two victories in the series last season – the most of any Drive for Diversity driver last year.

About Drive for Diversity
Drive for Diversity develops minority and female drivers in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series and NASCAR Whelen All-American Series. Since the creation of the Drive for Diversity program in 2004, 42 drivers have competed, winning 38 races. Drive for Diversity also supports pit crew athletes each year in the Drive for Diversity Crew Member Program presented by Sprint. Much of the success of the Drive for Diversity initiative is a result of support from key sponsors and involved team owners.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Changes to the Chase for the Sprint Cup Announced is reporting that the Chase for the Sprint Cup will continue to have 12 drivers, but the way in which the field will be set will change this year.

Sources have told that in tonight’s press conference with NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France—which will be streamed live online at—the new Chase system, along with a new points structure, will be announced.

After 26 races the top 10 drivers in the standings will be locked into the Chase, plus the two drivers outside the top 10 who have scored the most wins.

A new 43-to-1 point system will be announced as well, with first place scoring 43 points, second place scoring 42 points, decreasing one point for each position all the way down to one point for finishing 43rd.

Along with scoring two or three Chase bonus points for regular season race wins, drivers will also be awarded one bonus point for leading a lap in a given race.

Watch the official “State of the Sport” address from the NASCAR Hall of Fame live on tonight at 6:30 PM ET and on SPEED Channel around 7 PM ET as part of NASCAR Race Hub.

Wallace Receives Contract Extension with ESPN

2010 Daytona April NASCAR Day Rusty Wallace media Champion NASCAR driver Rusty Wallace, ESPN’s lead studio analyst for auto racing, has reached a new contract extension to remain with ESPN through the 2014 season, it was announced by Norby Williamson, ESPN executive vice president, production.

"Rusty Wallace is a NASCAR legend,” Williamson said. “We’re very happy that he will continue to share his knowledge and experience with our viewers for the remainder of our current relationship with NASCAR. It’s a very strong property and we look forward to the next four years."

Wallace joined ESPN after retiring from driving following the 2005 NASCAR season. A 55-time winner in NASCAR’s top series and the 1989 NASCAR Sprint Cup champion, Wallace is lead analyst for ESPN’s NASCAR studio programs, including NASCAR Countdown and NASCAR Now. Wallace also contributes NASCAR analysis to SportsCenter, First Take and ESPNEWS and calls selected NASCAR Nationwide Series races from the booth. He spent the 2006 season as an analyst for ESPN’s coverage of the IndyCar Series before moving to NASCAR in 2007 as the stock car racing series returned to ESPN. 

“ESPN has given me the opportunity to do a lot of great things,” said Wallace. “I got to call two Indianapolis 500s, call a lot of races from the booth and be on SportsCenter. Now I’m at home in the pit studio and I love working with Allen Bestwick and Brad Daugherty and all of the people at ESPN. I’m glad to be able to be a part of it for the next four years.”

Wallace, whose 706th career start ended his 2005 season-long “Last Call” tour, led nearly 20,000 laps in his 25-year career. The 1984 Rookie of the Year ended his 22nd consecutive full-time Sprint Cup season eighth in the standings, the 17th time he finished among the top 10. At the time of his retirement, Wallace ranked as one of the top five money winners in NASCAR history, with nearly $50 million in career winnings.

In his last year on the NASCAR circuit, every race facility honored Wallace and nine race tracks now on the NASCAR schedule offered permanent dedications. More than a dozen state, city, and county seats of government declared race day as an officially recognized Rusty Wallace Day. In addition, bestowed upon Wallace were Delaware's Order of the First State and North Carolina's Order of the Long Leaf Pine, the highest civilian honors in those states.

In 1998, NASCAR named the St. Louis area native one of its 50 greatest drivers of all time and he is a member of the National Motorsports Press Association (NMPA) Hall of Fame. Wallace is owner of Rusty Wallace Racing, which fields a NASCAR Nationwide Series car driven by his son, Steve Wallace. In addition, he helped design Iowa Speedway in Newton, Iowa.

Charlotte Motor Speedway – Sprint Media Tour Notes and Quotes – Tuesday, Jan. 25, 2011

Michael Waltrip Unveils New Book About 2001 Daytona 500
2011 Charlotte Jan Media Tour Michael Waltrip During breakfast on the second day of the 2011 NASCAR Sprint Media Tour hosted by Charlotte Motor Speedway, two-time Daytona 500 winner Michael Waltrip introduced his new book to the motorsports press.

“In the Blink of an Eye: Dale, Daytona, and the Day that Changed Everything” tells Waltrip’s story as he experienced the highest and lowest points of his career within a matter of minutes on February 18, 2001. Written by Waltrip and New York Times Bestseller Ellis Henican, the memoir takes readers through Waltrip’s early career and into Daytona International Speedway’s victory lane after 462 failed attempts at a NASCAR Sprint CupSeries win. Over the span of just a few moments, the Owensboro, Ky., native won the Daytona 500 then learned that his friend, mentor, car owner and seven-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champion Dale Earnhardt Sr. was killed during a crash on the final lap of the race.

How Earnhardt’s death affected Waltrip and the NASCAR community is the subject of the final third of the book.

“When I started writing the book,” Waltrip said, “I thought it would be therapeutic and I would come out of it with a better grasp of that day. I think it is healthy to delve into things from your past that hurt, and I did that. Even after going through this experience, I still can’t explain how that day turned out the way it did. That’ll be a question I’ll find out when I’m not on this earth anymore.”

Knowing the 10th anniversary of that victory/tragedy was coming up, Waltrip wrote “In the Blink of an Eye” to anticipate the questions people would have for him.

“Going back [to race the Daytona 500] in 2011 is another chance for me to celebrate Dale’s life and the fact that he believed in me like he did,” Waltrip said. “NAPA Auto Parts believed in me and gave me the opportunity to race a championship-caliber car like I got to drive for Dale.”

Waltrip also unveiled a commemorative paint scheme he designed for the No. 15 NAPA Toyota he will drive in the 2011 Daytona 500 on Feb. 20.

“It honors both Dale and the sponsor that is still with me in 2011,” Waltrip said.

NASCAR Nationwide Series Features New Challenges For Teams
The second day of the annual NASCAR Sprint Media Tour hosted by Charlotte Motor Speedway featured a discussion of the new challenges and rules faced by teams and drivers in 2011 in the NASCAR Nationwide Series.

To open the event, Nationwide announced that returning for 2011 will be the company’s Code Spotter Sweepstakes program where fans recognize codes given at track and during the race broadcast and can register to win prizes. Nationwide will also continue with the Dash 4 Cash program for drivers at select speedways and events. New this year however will be the Nationwide Spotlight program, which will feature a topic of interest to fans through chat and video.

NASCAR Nationwide Series Director Joe Balash gave an overview of the new 2011 challenges.

“I’m very excited to be the steward of the NASCAR Nationwide Series,” said Balash. “We have a great partner in Nationwide that allows us to reach out to fans, which are the core of what we do. We have a number of things that are happening, changes coming to the sport. First of all, there has been a lot of talk about the drivers having to select the series that they were going to run for the championship. There has been a lot of involvement with the teams, the drivers and the sponsors. It really adds emphasis to the Nationwide Series, putting that emphasis back on the Nationwide drivers.

“Next is the new Nationwide car. We ran it in four events last year and it was very, very successful. Now, we will be able to showcase the car in each and every event in 2011. The drivers really hone their skills in this series and will have their work cut out for them.

“There will also be a change in qualifying in the Nationwide Series. We are speeding up our qualifying sessions, paralleling with our friends in the (NASCAR Camping World) Truck Series with a quick qualifying process. I think this will really offer a lot of excitement to the series and to our fans.

“We also have changes in our fuel system in all three of our series. The E15 fuel is a very important step in what we are doing. It will also make some changes on our crew rosters as we will no longer have a catch can man on pit road.” Drivers are also excited about the new things the series has to offer.

“Either way you still have to go out and beat everybody,” said Ricky Stenhouse, current Nationwide Series Rookie of the Year and driver of the No. 6 Ford for Roush Fenway Racing. “We have a great group of guys here. The championship is going to be just as tough whether the Cup guys are running it or not. I think it is going to make it a little bit more interesting. It’s a good thing for the series.”

“You still have to go out and run good,” said Elliott Sadler, driver of the No. 2 CitiFinancial Chevrolet for Kevin Harvick Incorporated. “You still have got to get all the points you can every weekend. I just saw a perfect fit with Kevin and Delana Harvick and racing for the championship. We think we have something here and can make this happen.”

Charlotte Motor Speedway Gives World’s Largest HDTV Construction Update
NASCAR Sprint Media Tour participants visited the future site of the world’s largest high-definition video board on the backstretch of Charlotte Motor Speedway’s 1.5-mile tri-oval Tuesday afternoon.

When completed, the structure will tower 110 feet above the track and measure 200 feet wide by 80 feet tall. The steel frame alone, which will be supported on 12 concrete piers anchored 50 feet into the ground, will weigh 500,000 pounds. Adding the 165,000-pound 720p high-definition screen means the whole project will weigh as much as a fueled Boeing 747 aircraft.

Earth-moving equipment has been working since mid-January and will ultimately relocate 18,900 cubic yards of dirt and 3,000 cubic yards of concrete. The screen will replace bleachers that were first used during the speedway’s inaugural 600-mile race in 1960.

Charlotte Motor Speedway President and General Manager Marcus Smith spoke about the addition of Panasonic’s 16,000-square-foot “flat screen to end all flat screens.”

“With more than nine million LED lamps, this video board will give people the benefit of being at the race – having the whole race experience – and getting to see replays and important events up close,” Smith said. “I can’t wait to see it. Every time I look out of my office window, I wonder, is it here yet?”

NASCAR television commentators Jeff Hammond and Mike Joy helped Smith with the presentation.

Hammond said, “Bruton, Marcus, and the speedway are always raising the bar. Once again, here it is. My question is, will guys going down the back straight try to look up to see how good they are doing?”

Joy said, “This is a fantastic project. A lot of ballparks put in big screens so fans don’t miss replays of important events. This is a groundbreaking project. No fan is ever going to miss the action because it will be right here.”

Members of the speedway’s Fan Council, whose ideas and suggestions drove the project to reality, were in attendance. Daniel Sain, of Maiden, N.C., and Helen Bailey, from Cornelius, N.C., were on hand to inspect the screen’s progress.

“I’ve been coming to the races here for 15 years,” Sain said. “I watched my first race from the infield, where the view isn’t so good. This screen will give those folks an experience they’ve never had.”

“This is the biggest Fans First initiative we have ever undertaken,” said Scott Cooper, vice president of communications for Charlotte Motor Speedway. “The Fan Council is a key part of everything we do here. We will work with them throughout the year to find out what we can do to benefit our fans even more.”

2011 Charlotte Jan Media Tour Bowyer RCR Features Drivers and Announces New Sponsor
The Tuesday afternoon NASCAR Sprint Media Tour visit to Richard Childress Racing (RCR) in Welcome, N.C., featured the team’s driver lineup for 2011 and a new sponsor for the organization.

All of the RCR drivers were on hand to talk about their upcoming seasons. Among those attending were Childress’ grandsons, Austin and Ty Dillon, along with development drivers Tim George Jr., Joey Coulter and Michael Selt. Most of the attention however focused on RCR’s four NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers, Clint Bowyer, Jeff Burton, Kevin Harvick and new addition Paul Menard, who are each trying to win the NASCAR Sprint Cup championship in 2011.

“I’m proud of all three of our guys and then having Paul Menard come over with the fourth team,” said Childress. “This time we are ready for it. I couldn’t be happier with what we came out of there with (in 2010). This year is the year to kick Jimmie off that throne. We were close with Kevin last year. This is the year to do it. It’s going to be RCR I feel certain. Is that putting too much pressure on anybody?”

RCR announced that sandwich chain Jimmy Johns will serve as a primary sponsor for six races and an associate sponsor for the remainder of the season on the No. 29 Chevrolet driven by Harvick.

“It’s great to see the progression of that sponsorship from the Nationwide Series,” said Harvick. “People get their feet on the ground, and to see it move to the Cup car is great for not only RCR but me as well.”

Harvick’s car will primarily be sponsored by Budweiser in 2011.

“We had a good 2010 season with two wins,” said Bowyer, driver of the No. 33 Chevrolet. “But that is all in the past. You are only as good as your last race, your last performance. We just got back from Daytona and we are ready for them. Our cars are fast. Going through the motions, we found gains and we things that could make it better. It’s important to get that out of the way now.”

“To compete on a week to week basis was very important to us,” said Harvick. “I’m glad we had that experience. Hopefully, we can build upon that and make things better. I’m proud of the job everyone has done. I’m just ready to race. As we go into the year, we want to be as good as we were last year. We want that trophy. And that’s what we’re out to get.”

“We put ourselves in the position to win a lot of races early in the year,” said Jeff Burton, driver of the No. 31 Caterpillar Chevrolet. “We just never were able to execute on that. A lot of ways last year was the most fun I have ever had and also the most frustrating I have had. This year I feel good about everything the team is doing.”

Childress Wins “Sporting News” Owner of the Year Award
Richard Childress was also presented with the “Sporting News” Owner of the Year Award for the third time Tuesday afternoon during the NASCAR Sprint Media Tour.

“I’m really excited about this,” Childress said. “Each time I have been fortunate enough to get this award it’s not about Richard Childress. This is for all our people at RCR, our drivers, our teams and our sponsors. My name is on it but this belongs to RCR.”

Penske Racing Unveils 2011 Sponsor Lineup
Penske Racing unveiled its 2011 NASCAR driver lineup and sponsor lineup during the NASCAR Sprint Media Tour. Penske Racing patriarch Roger Penske started the Media Tour stop with a state of the sport address. Last season Penske Racing amassed nine NASCAR wins, including Kurt Busch’s victory in the NASCAR Sprint All-Star race at Charlotte Motor Speedway, as well as 10 poles and the NASCAR Nationwide Championship with Brad Keselowski.

Penske then outlined several position swaps within the organization for 2011 and thanked the organization’s sponsors. He noted that while Penske Racing downsized from three NASCAR Sprint Cup teams to two, the organization expanded its engineering and technical departments and personnel.

“You know this was a vision of mine, to consolidate our race teams under one roof,” said Penske. “And I think we have seen the success over the last three or four years. We have had the opportunity to move our people from one area to another with in the sport. As we go into 2011 I feel a lot better because the economy certainly is stronger. You can see that in our businesses.

Team owner Roger Penske speaks to the media, during the NASCAR Sprint Media Tour hosted by Charlotte Motor Speedway, held at Penske Racing on Monday in Mooresville, N.C. - Photo Credit: Jason Smith/Getty Images for NASCAR
“The job for our drivers is to drive race cars, and for crew chiefs to work on them,” said Penske. “Making the Chase (for the NASCAR Sprint Cup) last year and having a competitive Nationwide Series car was very important to us.” Penske driver and 2004 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champion Kurt Busch said he is excited about the new season with his new sponsor, as he takes over the No. 22 Shell/Pennzoil Dodge.

“We are proud of the cars that we put out there on the track,” he said. “We have beautiful cars with the Shell Pennzoil colors. Of course we’ve done things internally to continue to get stronger, with different personnel changes including key people we have added to teams. Going into my sixth year, this is the strongest I have felt going into the season. So, I’m really looking forward to hitting the track at Daytona and get the season underway.”

For the reigning NASCAR Nationwide Series Champion Brad Keselowski, expectations are again high, particularly as he takes over the No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge for the Penske organization.

“We are real proud of what we have here, having nicer stuff and stuff we can win with,” said Keselowski. “It’s all possible because of the progress we have made. Having our Nationwide sponsors return is a tremendous help for us. We are looking forward to starting the year here at Penske Racing.”

Keselowski will again pilot the No. 22 Discount Tire/Ruby Tuesday Dodge in the NASCAR Nationwide Series.

In additional sponsor news, Penske announced that driver Sam Hornish Jr. will race the No. 12 Dodge and compete full time in the Nationwide Series with new partner Alliance Truck Parts.

AAA will sponsor driver Helio Castroneves in select events in the Izod IndyCar Series. Coca-Cola will also join Penske Racing and Kurt Busch will serve as one of the drivers in the Coca-Cola Racing Family. Another partner coming on board with Penske is Kimberly-Clark with its WYPALL brand.

This season marks the ninth year Dodge has been with Penske Racing.

Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 22 Shell/Pennzoil Dodge, speaks to the media during the NASCAR Sprint Media Tour hosted by Charlotte Motor Speedway, held at Penske Racing on Monday in Mooresville, N.C. - Photo Credit: Jason Smith/Getty Images for NASCAR

Kurt Busch to race in NHRA Pro Stock
Kurt Busch announced he is planning to race in select NHRA Pro Stock drag racing events in a Shell Pennzoil Dodge. Busch will field vehicles out of his own shop through an association with Alan Johnson Racing.

“For me the drag racing thing caught on when I got to hang out with Don Prudhomme up at the U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis a few years back,” Busch said. “At the same time they built zMAX Dragway here in my back yard. Last year going to the Gator Nationals and running in the sportsman ranks in Super Gas, we got rained out the whole weekend. Yet the pro divisions were still out there running. And I was like, man, if I am going to do this, I am going to the pro division. So I got a Pro Stock car. It is definitely over my head right now. It’s a tough challenge. The testing has been going really well. If we hit our marks and do the right things, we can make the show at the Gator Nationals. That’s my objective.

“It’s a great way to cross promote and have some fun. I’m doing this all in house and not with Penske Racing. I also went through all the schools and with Roy Hill. I plan on testing a couple more times.”

SPEED to Honor Earnhardt with “The Day: Remembering Dale Earnhardt”
To recognize the 10th anniversary of Dale Earnhardt Sr.’s death in the 2001 Daytona 500, SPEED announced it would broadcast a one-hour special titled “The Day: Remembering Dale Earnhardt” on Feb. 11 at 7:30 p.m. EST. The program will reflect on the tragic events of that Sunday from sunrise to sunset and focus on how that moment forever changed NASCAR. The Day: Remembering Dale Earnhardt, will mark the first time Michael Waltrip, who won the 2001 Daytona 500, will give a television interview to discuss the death of his former car owner, friend and mentor.

SPEED Prepares for 100 Hours of Speedweeks Coverage
SPEED will broadcast more than 100 hours of programming from Daytona Speedweeks this year, highlighted by live coverage of the Gatorade Duel at Daytona on Feb. 17 at 2 p.m. EST and the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series season opener Feb. 18 at 7:30 p.m. EST.

SPEED will open its Daytona Speedweeks lineup with coverage of NASCAR Media Day on Feb. 10 at 7 p.m. EST, followed at 8:30 p.m. EST by the series premiere of The 10, a fast-paced list program highlighting the best of the best from the world of NASCAR, whose premiere counts down “NASCAR’s Closest Calls.”
NASCAR RaceDay Built by The Home Depot returns for its sixth season in 2011 starring John Roberts, Kyle Petty, Kenny Wallace, Hermie Sadler and Wendy Venturini. The cast will deliver a special three-hour edition on Feb. 20 at 9 a.m. EST, leading into NASCAR on FOX coverage of the Daytona 500.

Quotes of the Day
Michael Waltrip on the 2001 Daytona 500: “I basically was in a fog for a few months after Dale’s death. Getting back [to Daytona] in July of 2001 was a really important event for me. That was the best night in my racing career. Leaving Daytona that night, I thought, ‘Good, we can move on.’ That obviously wasn’t the case, because part of me still feels like Dale’s death happened just yesterday.”

NASCAR Nationwide Series Director Joe Balash: “2011, we think, will be the most competitive season the NASCAR Nationwide Series has seen.”

Elliott Sadler on a Nationwide Series-only driver running for the championship in 2011: “I do think it is a big deal to Nationwide. They want their own Nationwide champion. It’s good for the fans. It gets us back to the grass roots of racing. There is going to be some great racing. There are a lot of good guys up here.”

Jason Leffler, driver of the No. 38 Great Clips Chevrolet for Turner Motorsports: “One thing that I am proud of is that we have a series sponsor that cares enough about the series to want to stimulate change. It’s great for a sponsor like we have in Great Clips who is a Nationwide sponsor and not in the Cup series. I’m very excited about it.”

Richard Childress on the 2010 season had by his drivers:
“We had what I thought was a good 2010 season. The only guy who had a better season was Jimmie Johnson because he won the championship. I am really proud of what every one of these guys have done. This is still a great sport and I’m proud to be a part of it. I feel I am the luckiest car owner out there to have the drivers and talent we have here, and to be able to
run for that championship.”

- Charlotte Motor Speedway, Press Release