Saturday, December 31, 2011

Black-flagged: Words we don't want to hear in 2012

The end of 2011 brings many things: New Year's resolutions being made - undoubtedly to be broken - and the thing I always chuckle at, the “banned” words for the coming year.

Lake Superior State University recently issued their list of words to banish for 2012, including man cave, occupy, ginormous and thank you in advance, which got me to thinking NASCAR has a few terms that need to go by the wayside in 2012.

We all overuse some words in our everyday life. I am guilty of it. But in NASCAR, they overuse many words. With the help of the Skirts and Scuffs team, I compiled my own list of words to banish in 2012.

The phrase that makes me cringe the most is catbird seat. The term flies way too often. Think about it for a minute … OK, does it make sense to you yet?

As they run is primarily used during the Chase when points matter most,  but it's used too much, The points as they run at Lap 10 do not matter - just let me know where they end up after the race. After all, that is what counts.

I know we cannot control Mother Nature, but rain delay is one of the words that makes any race fan cringe. Given the nickname the drought buster series, it is true, take NASCAR to the Sahara desert and we will get rain. Unlike other sports that play in the rain, it is unsafe for NASCAR to race under these conditions, so the mention of rain brings moans and groans from all involved in the sport.

Sorry to offend Junior Nation, but Junebug makes the list of my banned terms for 2012. According to reports, Dale Earnhardt Jr. himself does not like the term “Junebug,” so why is it so incessantly used?

On the same note, many names and nicknames are overly used by broadcasters. Pastranathon was the word of the summer as Travis Pastrana was set to dominate the Nationwide Series. That fell flat as, well frankly, Pastrana did when he fell and broke some bones. Pastranathon never lived to see the light of day. 

Danica, Danicamania and all words associated – let her drive and prove herself before you give her so much coverage. That being said, I do like the progress she has made and look forward to 2012, but not if the coverage shoves it down our throat every few laps.

The new restrictor-plate racing has been a headache to race fans in terms of “cutesy” terms used to describe the new drafting pairs. Lovebug, two-car tandem, dancing partners - the list is endless with terms that need to go out the window along with last year’s restrictor plates.

Kyle Petty is a gift to NASCAR and Trackside. His frank and honest ways are very refreshing but some (not me) hate the term BS Flag and ask for that to be black-flagged in 2012! Well I call the BS Flag on that!

If I could start a coin jar and make offenders deposit a dollar anytime one of these words or terms were used in 2012, I think I would be rich! Here’s hoping that Junebug’s in the catbird seat as they run with no rain delays while Danica chooses her dancing partner with Pastranthon … wait, I wave the BS flag on all this!

What word or phrase do you think needs to be banned and drives you batty each time you hear it?

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Dover International Speedway announces seat-widening plan to begin in 2012

DOVER, Del. – In an ongoing effort to provide fans with the most exciting and enjoyable race experience in NASCAR, Dover International Speedway is pleased to announce a seat-widening plan for the track’s grandstands beginning in 2012.
The multi-year process, which will take place throughout the entire outdoor grandstands, will begin in all seating sections located in Turns 2 and 3. Additional widening of seats toward Turns 1 and 4 and the frontstretch will begin after the conclusion of the 2012 season. When the process is complete, all seats will have increased from 18” to 22” in size throughout the venue.
“Year to year, we’re always exploring ways to improve the experience for fans who attend our races at the Monster Mile,” said Denis McGlynn, president and CEO of Dover Motorsports, Inc. “Because many seats have already been renewed by our most loyal fans, we don’t want to displace them in an effort to make this change in one fell swoop. We’ll do our best to widen seats this year, and complete the process by 2014.
“By widening our seats we are responding to suggestions from our fans and allowing them to enjoy the race in a far more comfortable setting.”
When the process is complete by 2014, Dover’s new seating capacity will be 113,000.
Dover’s race weekends in 2012 are June 1-3, 2012 and Sept. 28-30, 2012. For more information or tickets, call 800-441-RACE or click here.
-Courtesy of Dover International Speedway Press Release

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Pocono Raceway solar farm hits milestone

Five Million Kilowatt Hours of Electricity Produced

Long Pond, Pa. (December 26 2011) - Slightly more than 16 months after the dedication of Pocono Raceway’s solar farm, the total amount of electricity produced by the 25 acre facility reached the 5,000,000 kilowatt hour (kWh) mark. The Pocono Raceway solar installation consists of 39,960 American made photovoltaic modules that will produce more than 72 million kilowatt hours (kWh) of energy over the next 20 years. The environmental attributes associated with the system will offset more than 3,104 Metric Tons of carbon dioxide annually and will generate enough power to provide the electricity needs for over 500 homes beyond the power needs of Pocono Raceway.

"This is another important milestone for Pocono Raceway," said Brandon Igdalsky, president and CEO of Pocono Raceway. "Pocono Raceway strongly believes in the commitment to operate in a more environmentally responsible way and is proud to be the first race track to power our sport with clean, renewable sunlight with the world’s largest renewable energy project to – power a sports facility. This solar power system, built with timber, steel and solar panels made in the U.S., satisfies all our Raceway’s energy needs, while helping to power local homes. This project demonstrates real sustainability and proves that any business that truly wants to Go Green, can do it."

The 5,000,000kWh produced has already impacted the environment. The total energy generated equals the use of more than 30,000 60Watt light bulbs for one year at eight hours per day and represents a savings of more than 400,000 gallons of gasoline with a carbon dioxide (CO2) offset equaling that of 90,000 trees or 143,000 Propane BBQ Grills.

The Raceway has been awarded a number of environmental awards for its sustainable energy efforts including the 2011 Excellence in Renewable Energy Awards, Readers Choice Award presented by and the 2011 Governor’s Award for Environmental Excellence, presented each year by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection. These awards highlight the best in environmental innovation and expertise

The Pocono Raceway Solar Farm is located along Long Pond Road adjacent Pocono Raceway’s storied 2.5 mile Super Speedway. Pocono Raceway will host two NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race weekends in 2012. The 31st annual Pocono 400, June 8-10 and the 39th annual Pennsylvania 400, August 3-5.

- Release courtesy of Pocono Raceway

In the Rearview Mirror: Richie Evans, the “King” of modifieds

Continuing this spotlight on the NASCAR Hall of Fame inductees for 2012, Richie Evans holds the honor to become the first driver outside of stockcars to enter the NASCAR Hall of Fame. Join me in looking back In the Rearview Mirror at the life and career of Richie Evans.
NWMT 60 Richie Evans 02
Credit: Howie Hodge
Richard Petty is known as “The King” of NASCAR but expanding upon that moniker, Richie Evans was the “King” of the modified racing circuit.

Evans, a native of Rome, New York, began racing in 1962 entering hobby stocks before later moving up to the modifieds he became known for.

Right off the bat, Evans was successful in the modified division, winning his very first feature in the season's final night in 1965. From there, Evans never stopped winning.

Claiming his first championship in 1973, Evans was a dominate driver in the modified division, matched only by his rival Jerry Cook. Cook would win six NASCAR national Modified titles in his driving career but Evans won a record-setting nine titles, including eight consecutive from 1978-1985.

The Evans vs. Cook battles became legendary; both drivers were from Rome and would drive by one another’s race shop. With multiple modified races being run in a week, a game of cat and mouse ensued between both drivers. Using “dummy trucks,” decoys would drive by each shop headed in the opposite direction of the intended travel. Cook and Evans usually ended up at the same races and competing against one another.
Credit: Howie Hodge
Evans’ accomplishments were numerous throughout his career. During the 1978-1981 seasons, Evans competed in more than 300 races and won more than half of those races. By 1985 Evans had collected a total of 18 individual track championships.

1985 marked the dawn of the modern era for racing in the modified division with the creation of the Whelen Modified Tour Series. Evans continued his reign and won the first ever Whelen Championship, having the title clenched in the second to last race of the season.

Heading into Martinsville, the final race of the season – Evans was already the champion. Tragically, Evans would be killed in a practice session crash and never get to celebrate that final championship.

Evans may have been lost on Oct. 24,1985 but his memory has not been forgotten. In fact, Evans' impact on NASCAR was such that he will become the first non-stockcar driver inducted into the prestigious NASCAR Hall of Fame in January.

Northeastern Supply to serve as associate sponsor for Allgaier in 2012

Justin Allgaier. Credit: Jason Smith/Getty Images
Northeastern Supply, one of the nation’s leading regional distributors of plumbing, heating, HVAC, air conditioning, water systems and hardware supplies will return to team sponsorship in the NASCAR Nationwide Series for the 19th consecutive year in 2012. The Baltimore, Maryland-based company will return as an associate sponsor with Turner Motorsports for the fourth straight season and in support of the #31 Brandt Farm Equipment team and driver Justin Allgaier.

“Our NASCAR program has grown significantly over the years, and because of the strong support our racing program receives from our customers and vendors each year, it was a no-brainer to make it 19 straight seasons of such activity in 2012,” said Steve Cook, Northeastern Supply’s President and CEO.

During the company’s nearly two decades of NASCAR programming, Northeastern Supply has grown from a business with six branches in two Middle Atlantic States to one operating 32 branches and distribution centers conducting business in Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia and Washington, DC.

“The associate support we have given so many NASCAR teams in the Nationwide Division over the years has been an interesting journey for our company, and because of how they do business and treat their sponsors, it was an easy decision for us to remain with Turner Motorsports for another season,” Cook explained.

“We enjoyed three good seasons backing the efforts of the Great Clips team and drivers Jason Leffler and Kasey Kahne. Now we’ve decided to move over to Justin Allgaier and the #31 Brandt Farm Equipment Chevrolet team in 2012 in hopes of helping them challenge for the championship,” Cook added.

Allgaier is the 25-year-old Riverton, IL driver who in his last two Nationwide Series campaigns has posted two victories and finished fourth and third, respectively, in the 2010 and 2011 driver championship competition. Allgaier’s 2010 effort came while driving a Dodge for Penske Racing before moving over to a Chevrolet at Turner Motorsports last season in which he recorded six top five and 17 top ten finishes in beating everyone in points except for champ Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. and runner-up Elliott Sadler.

Nicknamed “Little Gator” at a young age because of his small size and ferociousness behind the wheel, Allgaier began developing his talents driving quarter midgets and by the time he was 12 had already earned more than 100 feature wins and five championships.

Allgaier steadily progressed up the competition ladder, moving to Late Models at age 13. In 2001, at just 14 years of age, Allgaier made national headlines when he became the youngest driver to ever qualify for the ‘A’ Main in the famed Chili Bowl indoor midget event in Tulsa, OK. That performance enabled Justin to earn a shot to race full bodied stock cars two years later when he debuted in the ARCA RE/MAX Series with a team part-owned by former NASCAR star Ken Schrader. In three starts in this high-level competition that season, Allgaier earned a best finish of 11th and the experience served as a springboard to a full-time ARCA effort in 2006.

In 2007, after returning to the Chili Bowl and earning a third place finish in the ‘A’ Main behind now 3-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Tony Stewart and veteran J.J. Yeley, Allgaier ran all 23 ARCA races and finished fourth in driver points after winning once, posting four top five and 11 top ten finishes. He also found time that year to win five UMP Late Model Series and three midget races, displaying ability to successfully drive pretty much anything on four wheels.

Allgaier raced 21 times in 2008 in the ARCA RE/MAX Series, and at the age of 22 captured the overall championship with a 6-win, 14 top-five and 16 top-ten campaign that directly propelled him to NASCAR and a driver development contract with Penske Racing. He made his Nationwide Series debut for Penske that same year before competing full-time in the country’s second top stock car circuit in 2009.

In 35 starts that season, Allgaier recorded three top five and 12 top ten finishes en-route to a 6th place finish in driver points. Only a lack of sponsorship dollars kept Allgaier from continuing with the Penske organization beyond the 2010 season when Justin had a breakout year that included his first Nationwide Series victory, two poles, an average 11th place finish and a 4th place effort in driver points. Penske Racing’s loss is obviously Turner Motorsports’ gain and now to the benefit of Justin’s newest sponsor, Northeastern Supply.

Allgaier will be the lone Turner Motorsports driver to carry the Northeastern Supply flag in 2012 that will feature the hard-charging chauffeur in various Northeastern Supply promotions conducted throughout the season. Heading these promotions will be a variety of customer-driven events to be held in conjunction with each of the two NASCAR race weekends at the Dover (DE) International Speedway, Northeastern Supply’s “home” race track.

“We’re excited to have Northeastern Supply back in the Turner Motorsports family next year,” Allgaier stated. “The upcoming season will be Northeastern’s 19th consecutive in NASCAR Nationwide Series competition and fourth straight with Turner Motorsports. I know they have several big events scheduled throughout the year and I’m honored to have the chance to be included and play a more integral part in them.”

Allgaier is the latest top name to be added to the impressive list of drivers who have been sponsored by Northeastern Supply over the years. That list includes Leffler, Kahne, Yeley, Mike and Kenny Wallace, Jason Keller, Phil Parsons, Sterling Marlin, Hank Parker, Jr. and Kevin Lepage.

- Courtesy of team release

"Name That Driver" for Richard Petty Motorsports: Aric Almirola has edge over David Ragan

Credit: Jason Smith/Getty Images for NASCAR
Another week goes by and another rumor as to who will be pegged to drive the No. 43 for Richard Petty Motorsports. The latest rumor has the NASCAR fans (and media) buzzing: Aric Almirola is the latest contestant called upon in the game of “Name That Driver” for RPM.

Reports surfaced late last week that Almirola is potentially being tapped to fill the vacant RPM ride and a formal announcement will come after the New Year.

Debates are raging - is Almirola a suitable driver to fill the 43? Why Almirola over David Ragan, who was also a contestant in “Name That Driver”?

Both Almirola and Ragan have made significant gains in their respective careers. For Almirola, he has three wins, one in Nationwide and two in the Camping World Truck Series, along with being a championship contender in the NCWTS in 2010. Almirola also has a pre-existing relationship with RPM after finishing out the year in the No. 9 seat in 2010. The results were pretty good for the team and Almirola: his only top-5 finish in Sprint Cup came at the season finale in Homestead with Richard Petty's team.

Ragan also has equal merit, winning the Coke Zero 400 at Daytona this past summer to clench his elusive first Sprint Cup Series win and also holds two Nationwide Series wins, both occurring back in 2009.

Looking at the stats of Almirola and Ragan, it's a close call as to who would have the upper hand. I know some will argue that Ragan’s stats are in Sprint Cup and Almirola’s are in Nationwide. To that argument I have to add that Almirola has a diversified level of experience, as he has driven in all three series. Ragan has competed in two of the three series full-time, although he did make a handful of starts in the Truck Series. That being said, I am asking you to throw that out the window for argument's sake and just look at the numbers.

In Almirola's five-year Nationwide career, with only one year full-time, he has a total of 73 starts which include one win, 10 top 5s and 28 top 10s. The lone win for Almirola came at the Milwaukee Mile while driving for Joe Gibbs Racing in 2007. Looking at his stats, Almirola has scored his top-10 finishes across a variety of tracks. The young driver found success at intermediates like Charlotte, Chicagoland and New Hampshire Motor Speedway, short tracks including Bristol and IRP and even the superspeedways. Overall, Almirola is a strong driver. Looking at just the 2011 season, he had an average finish of 12.1 for the year.

In comparison, Ragan has been full-time for five years in the Sprint Cup Series and competed in a total of 182 races all with Jack Roush’s Roush Fenway Racing. In that time span, Ragan claims just one win and a total of 12 top 5s and 30 top 10s. Primarily Ragan’s success has come on the restrictor-plate tracks: he collected his first win at Daytona in 2011 and has five total top-5 finishes (of his 12 total) at plate races. Ragan has also found repeat success at the short track of Richmond International Raceway. Intermediate tracks like Charlotte have been a strong area for Ragan but not consistently so. At the end of the 2011 season, Ragan had an average finish of 19.2.

Looking at Texas Motor Speedway, a strong track for Roush Fenway Racing, Ragan’s results are all across the board. His finishes range from a best effort of 7th in the spring of 2011 to a 39th-place finish in 2007. In 10 starts at Texas, Ragan’s average finish is 19.6.

Merely judging by average finish for 2011 alone, Almirola gets the nod for the No. 43 car.

Does it matter that the majority of Almirola’s career has been in NNS while Ragan was in Cup - no! Everyone needs to make the leap sometime, why not now? The Nationwide Series is meant to help develop drivers, so if that is true, Almirola's stats are showing he is ready for a move. 

After a heated discussion among friends, many said that Ragan deserves the ride more because he has Sprint Cup experience, specifically in a Ford, and also a win. That argument becomes mute when you look at the numbers and compare the stats. Racing is a game of numbers, pure and simple, and to sponsors that is what matters. As a sponsor and team weigh their options, they ask themselves, “Who is going to get us the best finishes, the most points and overall will be the most successful for our company?”

Again I defer to the numbers – Almirola finished 4th in the Nationwide Series this season and also was the runner-up for the Camping World Truck Series championship in 2010. On the other hand, Ragan’s finishes in the Sprint Cup points standings have been 23rd (2007), 13th (2008), 27th (2009), 24th (2010) and 23rd (2011) in his time with Roush Fenway Racing.

Numbers win – if it were up to me (thankfully it is not), Aric Almirola would be the next driver in the RPM iconic No. 43 car and the winner of  “Name That Driver!”

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Fast Facts: Glen Wood

Jason Smith/Getty Images for NASCAR
Glen Wood, patriarch of Wood Brothers Racing, is one of five 2012 inductees – along with Cup Series champs Darrell Waltrip and Cale Yarborough, championship-winning crew chief Dale Inman and nine-time NASCAR Modified champ Richie Evans – into the NASCAR Hall of Fame. As part of this historic racing team, Wood was both a winning driver and a smart owner, and with his brothers made one of the biggest innovations in motorsports in the mid-1960s. Here are a few fast facts about the man who began the team that went to victory lane in the 2011 Daytona 500 with Trevor Bayne.
  • Glen Wood was one of five brothers (Leonard, Delano, Clay and Ray Lee were the others) from Virginia who formed the team in 1950, with Glen and family friend Chris Williams serving as drivers. Throughout the 1950s, the team was winning races at Martinsville (VA) Speedway and Bowman Gray Stadium in North Carolina.
  • As the Wood Brothers became more successful, the team became a full-time business, with Glen and Leonard preparing and building cars full-time and Glen taking over driving duties along with a number of other drivers. Glen won four races in his 11-year part-time driving career, adding 34 top 10s to his statistics as well.
  • In 1965, he retired from driving to focus on being a full-time owner, and hired some of the top drivers in NASCAR over the next 45 years: Fireball Roberts, Parnelli Jones, Cale Yarborough, A.J. Foyt, David Pearson, Neil Bonnett and Bill Elliott among them. In more than 60 years of existence, the team has 98 victories as of the end of the 2011 season, and have one at least one race in each of the last six decades.
  • 1965 was a special year for the Wood Brothers for another reason: it was the year that the international racing community began to notice them. The team is credited with being the inventors of the modern-day pit stop, a more efficient method of servicing their race cars and getting back on track in a hurry. When other teams realized the team was winning races due to their quick stops, they began using the Wood Brothers’ techniques. That year, the team was hired to crew the Lotus-Ford of Jim Clark at the Indianapolis 500 – Clark won the race.
  • The Wood Brothers saw their greatest success with Pearson, who won 46 times in 143 races with the team over seven years (1972 to 1979).

Monday, December 26, 2011

Stewart To Lead Chili Bowl ‘Team of Champions’

Credit: Debbie Ross for Skirts and Scuffs

Three-Time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champion Tony Stewart, Chevrolet Set To Make Chili Bowl Return
Alongside NASCAR Nationwide Series Titlist Stenhouse Jr., USAC National Champion Clauson, and Blackhurst

INDIANAPOLIS (Dec. 26, 2011) – Tony Stewart Racing (TSR) announced today that three-time and reigning NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Tony Stewart will return to Tulsa, Okla., to compete in the 2012 Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Midget Nationals, which begin Jan. 10.

Stewart made his most recent appearance in the event in 2008, finishing eighth in the A-main finale. After taking a three-year hiatus from the biggest Midget race of the year, Stewart will return in January behind the wheel of the No. 14 Chevrolet/Chevrolet Performance Parts/Spike.

The 26th annual event inside the typically fan-packed confines of the QuikTrip Center’s Tulsa Expo Raceway will see Stewart join one of the most powerful teams ever assembled for one of racing’s most unique events. Joined by 2011 NASCAR Nationwide Series champion Ricky Stenhouse Jr., 2011 United States Auto Club (USAC) National Drivers champion Bryan Clauson, and 2011 POWRi Rookie of the Year Jake Blackhurst, the formidable foursome is without a doubt the biggest threat to take home the Golden Driller trophy in 2012.

Stewart has two Golden Drillers in his collection after scoring Chili Bowl victories in 2002 and 2007. The newly crowned, three-time NASCAR titlist will lead the four-car “Team of Champions” into the 2012 Chili Bowl behind the wheel of a special edition black, carbon-fiber entry that has been dubbed the “Back in Black” car. He’ll look to give Chevrolet its second Chili Bowl triumph.

Clauson will pilot the No. 39c INDYCAR/Indy 500/Spike/Esslinger for co-entrants Corey Tucker Racing (CTR)/Bryan Clauson, Inc. (BCI)/Curb-Agajanian Racing. The four-time USAC champion has made two A-main starts in the Chili Bowl Midget Nationals. He scored his best finish in 2008, taking the checkered flag in fourth place. Clauson has also won a preliminary A-main in the Chili Bowl in the Tuesday-night 25-lap qualifier last January.

The 22-year-old open-wheel standout has a long list of credentials that includes 23 USAC National Midget Series victories, two USAC National Midget Series championship titles, two USAC Indiana Midget Week titles and two Belleville Midget Nationals triumphs. In addition to being a two-time USAC National Drivers champion, Clauson has also been named National Midget Driver of the Year three times in his young career. IZOD IndyCar Series CEO Randy Bernard recently announced that Clauson will compete in the 2012 Indianapolis 500 as part of his award for wining his second consecutive USAC National Drivers championship.

Recently crowned NASCAR Nationwide Series champion Stenhouse Jr., will compete for the Team of Champions for CTR/BCI/Curb-Agajanian Racing in the No. 39i Curb Records/Spike/Esslinger. Fresh off his championship run, Stenhouse Jr., will look to earn his first Golden Driller trophy. While his full-time efforts in the USAC National Midget Car Series ranks were short term, Stenhouse earned five victories and was named the series’ 2007 Rookie of the Year. He enters this year’s event with one A-main start to his credit and will look to put the Curb Records entry in the show again in 2012.

Blackhurst, the 2011 POWRi Rookie of the Year, will drive the No. 39b Kitchen Cooked/Spike/Esslinger entry for the CTR/BCI team. Blackhurst looks to make his first Chili Bowl start and will be vying for event Rookie of the Year honors, as well as a shot at the Golden Driller. The 16-year-old is no stranger to racing success as he won the 2010 USAC Ford Focus Midget Midwest Pavement Championship.

For more information regarding the 2012 Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Midget Nationals, visit

Information regarding Stewart or TSR can be found at or

For more information regarding Clauson, CTR or BCI, visit

For more information regarding Stenhouse Jr., visit

And for information regarding Blackhurst, visit

Tony Stewart, Owner and Driver of the No. 14 Chevrolet/Chevrolet Performance Parts/Spike for Tony Stewart Racing

You’re making your return to the Chili Bowl Midget Nationals by leading a very powerful lineup of championship-winning drivers. Are you looking forward to the challenge of making Saturday night’s A-main finale?

“Having taken a few years off from competing in the Chili Bowl, I’m really looking forward to returning to Tulsa and the event in 2012. It’s one of the biggest Midget races of the year and it’s just a lot of fun to compete in the Chili Bowl. I’m also glad that we’ll be able to give our partners, Chevrolet and Chevrolet Performance Parts, another shot at a Golden Driller. I think it’s very feasible that we could get four cars in the A-Main on Saturday night. Bryan Clauson and Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. – they’re guys who are going to be a threat in every A-Main they start. It’s going to be a lot of fun to be part of this deal and I think we’re going to have a good chance of putting a car in the winner’s circle.”

Bryan Clauson, Co-Owner and Driver of the No. 39c/INDYCAR/Indy 500/Spike/Esslinger for CTR/BCI/Curb-Agajanian Racing

As a key part of a team that is sure to be a major player in the Chili Bowl Midget Nationals, what part of the event are you looking forward to the most?

“Over the last few years I’ve been fortunate enough to add a lot of marquee wins to my resume, but there’s still one hole I’d like to fill, and that’s the Chili Bowl. We came so close last year before settling for a fifth-place finish. I’m definitely looking forward to returning to Tulsa to chase the Golden Driller and bragging rights. I’m also really flattered to be representing the INDYCAR and the Indianapolis 500 in this year’s race. It’s a great honor to have those names on the side of my car and it will be a lot of fun trying to put a car representing the greatest race in the world in victory lane at the biggest short-track race of the year.

“It’s really exciting to be part owner of a team that includes some of the best in the business. Tony Stewart and Ricky Stenhouse Jr., are definitely guys you want to have as teammates and it’s exciting to see a younger guy like Jack Blackhurst make his first start. Ricky has been a long-time friend of mine and I’m really excited to have him in one of our cars for this year’s race. It’s something we’d talked about for the past few years and, any time you can add the NASCAR Nationwide Series champion to your slate of drivers, it’s a great thing.”

Friday, December 23, 2011

Bass Pro Shops/Tracker Boats to Sponsor Austin and Ty Dillon in 2012

"We are please to once again partner with our good friend and hunting buddy Richard Childress for the 2012 racing season," stated Bass Pro Shops founder Johnny Morris.

WELCOME, N.C. (December 23, 2011) – Bass Pro Shops will continue its partnership with Richard Childress Racing in 2012, serving as a primary sponsor of both Austin Dillon’s No. 3 Chevrolet Impala in the NASCAR Nationwide Series and Ty Dillon’s No. 3 Chevrolet Silverado in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series.

Bass Pro Shops/Tracker Boats will be the primary sponsor throughout the year on the No. 3 truck during Ty Dillon’s first full season in the series. The No. 1 outdoor retailer leader will also be the primary sponsor for five races of Austin Dillon’s rookie season in the Nationwide Series and an associate sponsor throughout the season.

“We are pleased to once again partner with our good friend and hunting buddy Richard Childress for the 2012 racing season,” stated Bass Pro Shops founder Johnny Morris.

“Austin and Ty are both remarkably talented racers with a promising future ahead of them. They are also tremendous ambassadors for the outdoors and hunting and fishing. I look forward to seeing them both race and hopefully spending a little time with them and grandpa out hunting or fishing.” 

The RCR/Bass Pro Shops partnership began in 1998 as an associate sponsor of RCR’s No. 3 GM Goodwrench Chevrolet Monte Carlo with legendary driver Dale Earnhardt. The relationship continued with Kevin Harvick and the No 29 Chevrolet and, in 2004, Kerry Earnhardt, Dale’s eldest son, drove RCR’s No. 33 Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet Monte Carlo in six Sprint Cup Series races. Austin Dillon picked up the mantle in 2010, earning two victories and the Truck Series Rookie of the Year honors before capturing the championship in just his second season in the series. Bass Pro Shops/Tracker Boats also was a sponsor for Ty Dillon’s championship season in the 2011 ARCA Series presented by Menards.

“The continuation of the Bass Pro Shops/Tracker Boats partnership with my grandsons is rewarding, both professionally and personally,” said Richard Childress, president and CEO of Richard Childress Racing. “We are proud to fly the Bass Pro Shops and Tracker Boats banner in the NASCAR Nationwide Series and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and look forward to being successful with both race teams.”

Bass Pro Shops was founded in 1972 and is headquartered in Springfield, Mo. The outdoor retail leader has 58 stores throughout the United States and Canada, serving over 112 million sportsmen a year.

“I’m a hunter and a fisherman so it’s really cool to have the support of Bass Pro Shops and Tracker Boats,” said Austin Dillon. “It means a lot to me that Johnny Morris and everyone at Bass Pro are going to follow me to the NASCAR Nationwide Series. We were able to win some races for them and a championship in theTruck Series so I hope we can find them continued success in the Nationwide Series this year.”

“It’s an honor to be a part of the Bass Pro Shops family,” said Ty Dillon. “I’m really excited that they will be embarking on my first full season in the Truck Series with me. Johnny Morris and Bass Pro Shops/Tracker Boats have been a huge part of my career and my goal is to bring them as much success as my brother, Austin, did these past two seasons.”

Silly season hits insane proportions

AJ Allmendinger poses with the No. 22 ride, his new "office" for 2012.
Credit: Shell Racing US Twitter

Listen up everyone – it’s the week of Christmas! Enough with the breaking news stories, take a break until after the new year!

OK, in reality that is not going to happen. So let’s get silly, err, sillier than we have been the past few months.

This seat-swapping reminds me of a good ole’ hoedown - swing your partner round and round. You don’t know the partner you end up with, but just dance with them anyway.

The most shocking move happened yesterday when Kurt Busch was announced as the new driver for James Finch’s No. 51 at Phoenix Racing. The No. 51 car had an average finish of 28th with driver Landon Cassill during the 2011 season. But with options being slim and Busch looking to find the missing “fun factor,” he and Finch will look for a fresh start come February.

Filling the vacant seat at Penske is a surprising name: AJ Allmendinger! Most would have thought Allmendinger was secure in his ride at RPM after finishing 15th in points, but sponsorship issues changed that. Last week, Best Buy moved their sponsorship to Roush Fenway Racing, leaving the No. 43 team searching for sponsorship. Rumors were flying that Allmendinger was being replaced by Kurt Busch.

For Allmendinger that raised concerns. “When the rumors all started last week about Kurt, that kind of threw like a red flag up in my mind about what was happening, but just like anything, they're rumors, and it really wasn't until the last few days that this has all kind of come to a head and really had a chance of happening,” he said. With that, a last-minute deal came about with Roger Penske to place Allmendinger, a former open-wheel star, into the No. 22 car vacated by Busch.

Confused yet?

Busch to the No. 51 with Finch – no sponsor yet.

Allmendinger to the No. 22 with Penske and Shell/Pennzoil.

The other big “shoe” expected to be announced is David Ragan signing with Richard Petty Motorsports to fill the No. 43. According to Sirius Speedway’s Dave Moody, an announcement may come as soon as today.

Front Row Motorsports drivers David Gilliland, Travis Kvapil and J.J. Yeley are not under contract yet for 2012. Team officials have said they intend to have all three drivers back and expect the lineup to be determined in January.

We're still waiting for news on David Reutimann and Brian Vickers.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Red Horse Racing Signs with Joe Gibbs Racing Engine Program

JGR to Provide Engines and Technical Support for Truck Series Team
HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (December 22, 2011) – Red Horse Racing has signed an agreement to participate in Joe Gibbs Racing’s engine program for its NASCAR Truck Series teams beginning with the 2012 season. As part of the agreement JGR will also provide the Red Horse Racing program with additional technical support.
JGR’s engine program provides engines for NASCAR Truck Series and Nationwide Series teams. JGR has been one of NASCAR’s most dominant teams in the Nationwide Series over the past four seasons with three owner’s championships to its credit (2008-2010). Over that four year span, JGR has won an amazing 59 races, with 143 top fives and 205 top-ten finishes.
“We’re honored to have Red Horse Racing participate in our engine program,” said J.D. Gibbs, president of Joe Gibbs Racing. “Everyone in our Nationwide Series program has done an outstanding job over the past several years and certainly our engine program has been a big part of that success. We look forward to helping teams elevate their programs in both the Truck and Nationwide series through our engine program and added technical support.”
Red Horse Racing enters its eighth year of Truck Series competition in 2012.  Thus far the team has amassed five wins, 46 top-five and 99 top-10 finishes.  With their success Red Horse Racing with its drivers and team members have established themselves as one of the premier Truck Series operation in the garage area.
“We are thrilled to announce we are making the move to use Joe Gibbs Racing engines and receive technical support from such an outstanding organization,” said Red Horse Racing Managing Partner Tom DeLoach. “JGR has established themselves as the leading Toyota team in the NASCAR Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series’.  As we look toward our new relationship in 2012, our goal is for Red Horse Racing to put Joe Gibbs Racing engines in victory lane for the first time in the Truck Series and to compete for the 2012 Truck Series championship.  We are very excited about this opportunity to grow Red Horse Racing and we feel that this new technical and engine relationship combined with the people we have in place is the combination we have been looking for.”

Kurt Busch Joins Phoenix Racing

2004 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champion and 24-Time Race Victor
To Compete in Full 2012 Sprint Cup Season with Car Owner James Finch

CHARLOTTE, N.C., (Dec. 22, 2011) – “I just want to get back to having fun in the racecar.”

Those were the words spoken by Kurt Busch just a few days after the season-ending NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Awards Banquet in Las Vegas. Today, the 2004 Sprint Cup champion is well on his way toward that simple goal as he’s teamed with Phoenix Racing to run the full 2012 Sprint Cup schedule.

“I’m very happy to join Phoenix Racing and after entertaining a lot of quality offers, there’s no better place for me,” said Busch, winner of 24 Sprint Cup races, as well as the 2010 NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race, the 2011 Gatorade Duel and the 2011 Budweiser Shootout. “We’re going to run the full schedule together, and we’re going to have fun doing it.

“It’s going to be old-school racing, where we show up, race hard and go for the win. And if we don’t win, we’ll go back to the shop, work hard and do it all over again next week. That’s the way we all started racing, and it’s great to get back to that.”

James Finch, owner of Phoenix Racing, celebrated his 20th year as a NASCAR team owner in 2011. His Spartanburg, S.C.-based team has won 13 NASCAR races, the most prominent of which was the April 2009 Sprint Cup Series race at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway.

“All we want to do is win,” Finch said. “Winning is why I’ve been in racing for as long as I have, but NASCAR is a very competitive sport, and winning – especially at the Sprint Cup level – is hard. But now with Kurt Busch as our driver, we have a shot to win every week. He’s a past champion and he’s proven he can win everywhere. Our sponsors are looking forward to Kurt representing their brands.

“We have excellent equipment and a hard-working group of guys who want that trophy at the end of every race. Kurt’s the guy who can deliver it to them.”

Busch will drive the No. 51 Phoenix Racing Chevrolet Impala in 2012, and his first race will be the non-points Budweiser Shootout at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway where he is the defending winner.

“James Finch has always had pretty stout cars for the restrictor-plate races and I know we’ll be very competitive at Daytona,” Busch said. “We’ll participate in the test down there in January to get a good handle on our Daytona 500 car, but also to win another Budweiser Shootout.

“Christmas came early for me this year, and I honestly can’t wait for the season to begin.”

The 33-year-old Busch has made the Chase for the Sprint Cup six times since the inception of the Chase in 2004, when he won the series title. His Sprint Cup championship followed the International Race of Champions (IROC) title he won in 2003. And before joining the Sprint Cup ranks in late 2000, Busch was the 1999 NASCAR Southwest Tour champion, where at age 21, he was the youngest driver to win that series’ championship. Originally from Las Vegas, Busch now makes his home in Mooresville, N.C.

Deuces Wild: Dinger deserves the double deuce

Credit: Debbie Ross for Skirts and Scuffs
“I just want to win! I don’t care which race it is. Everything I get into I won then this whole NASCAR thing, it’s quite hard! It feels like every week you get kicked in the stomach, you feel like you are getting in and getting on a roll and then you have a couple of bad weeks and start all over again.” – A.J. Allmendinger in a July 2011 interview with Skirts and Scuffs.

On Wednesday A.J. Allmendinger, a California native with a background in open-wheel racing, made a career move that could put him in victory lane in a matter of months. Signing a deal with Penske Racing to fill the seat vacated by Kurt Busch, Allmendinger looks to capture that elusive first win under the guidance of long-time owner Roger Penske.

When the announcement came earlier in the month that Busch, who had been with the team since 2006, would no longer be the driver of the No. 22 Shell Pennzoil Dodge, speculation began with everyone taking bets on who would fill the seat. Although many believed David Ragan would be the replacement driver, others suggested that David Reutimann or Brian Vickers be given a chance. Ragan, the other front runner for the job, has had five years behind the wheel of  top-tier equipment but has only one win to his name. Would a change in atmosphere really make all that much difference for Ragan? While each driver has merits and could easily have been chosen for one reason or another, the decision to hire Allmendinger is one that makes sense from both a business and racing perspective.

Tim Cendric, President of Penske Racing, said in regards to choosing Allmendinger above the other candidates, "If you look at it, there's nobody there that has a better progression through his career. When you look at the slope of the curve there with the way his statistics are, certainly no one has that type of, I guess, slope if you want to call it that. And obviously we had to sit down and see if he was a good fit for our organization. You can only do so much of that over the phone and in meetings in a short period of time. But really you have to go with your gut and you have to go with what you think will create the right chemistry internally."

Allmendinger has showed in his five seasons of racing that he has the potential to be a star. Although he’s never won a race, the former Red Bull Racing and Richard Petty Motorsports driver has improved each year where the other drivers Penske considered have not. Most recently chosen to drive the iconic No. 43, Allmendinger earned 10 top-10 finishes in 2011 and finished a career-best 15th in the standings. One might argue that his lack of wins should preclude him from the spot at Penske, but when you consider the equipment Allmendinger has had to work with in his short career it’s not really all that surprising he’s never been to victory lane.

During Wednesday’s press conference Allmendinger remarked on the differences he’s seen at the Penske shop in just a few visits saying, “where I'm at and the level of my career, it's do or die. This is the next step to try to be one of those top Sprint Cup drivers, and that's what I want to do. I feel like this is going to be the best place to do it, and just the way this organization is laid out is absolutely amazing. I'm excited. Walking through the shop for the first time and looking at some of the cars and meeting some of the people, just how positive everybody is at this race team is something that is‑‑ just makes me feel good showing up to it.”

We will never know if Ragan would have done better in the No. 22 than in the No. 6. Only time will tell where his career will go, but for those cheering on A.J. Allmendinger, it’s time to start pouring that Pennzoil into your engine and buying your fuel from Shell. Perhaps A.J. will be the next first-time winner. Perhaps he will find that behind the wheel of the Double Deuce he feels more at home than he ever has before. And perhaps he and teammate Brad Keselowski will make 2012 a season we will never forget. All I know is that come February the deuces will indeed be wild and Allmendinger will get his chance to prove once and for all that he’s not just another open-wheel crossover that will never make a mark in stock cars.

IndyCar Announces 2012 Schedule with Texas Motor Speedway Stop for Firestone 550 on June 9

"America's Original Nighttime IndyCar Race" Will Return To Traditional Race Format After Experimenting With Twin Race Concept In 2011"

FORT WORTH, Texas (December 22, 2011) - INDYCAR officially announced its 2012 schedule Thursday and the IndyCar Series will return to Texas Motor Speedway for a 16th consecutive season and a traditional race format on Saturday, June 9, with the Firestone 550.

Firestone 550 2012"America's Original Nighttime IndyCar Race" - a staple of the IndyCar Series since Texas Motor Speedway opened in 1997 - will return to its original single-race format and be rebranded the Firestone 550 after experimenting with a twin-race concept known as the Firestone Twin 275s this past season.

The Firestone 550 will return to a 228-lap, 550-kilometer (342 miles) race that will carry full championship points and purse. The annual June IndyCar Series event, a 500-kilometer race from 1997-2006, was extended to 550 kilometers in 2007 before shifting to twin races in the same evening this year.

Texas Motor Speedway played host to the Firestone Twin 275s, a pair of 114-lap, 275-kilometer full-field races that carried half the points and purse per race. It marked the first time that the format was run in the IndyCar Series and just the 18th time overall for the sport.

"I've said all along that we would be able to work out our business deal with INDYCAR and am glad to report that our deal is done," Texas Motor Speedway President Eddie Gossage said.  "The race will return to its original format of 228 laps and 550 kilometers. We ran twin races this year, but it required more than an hour break between races to allow teams the ability to change engines and make other necessary changes to the cars. In listening to the fans, that hour break was simply too long. We're glad we tried the unique format, but we always listen to the fans' input to hopefully enhance their experience in the future."

Tickets for the Firestone 550, beginning as low as $35 for frontstretch seating, are available by visiting or by calling the Texas Motor Speedway ticket office at (817) 215-8500. The Firestone 550 also is part of the Texas Motor Speedway season ticket package that begins as low as $270.