Friday, November 30, 2012

NASCAR to celebrate Vegas-style at Sprint Cup Series Awards ceremony

2011 Sprint Cup champion Tony Stewart speaks at last year's awards ceremony
at the Wynn Las Vegas. Credit: Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Glitz. Glamour. Black tie.

After 10 months of racing, it’s time to celebrate – Vegas style.

Instead of firesuits, NASCAR’s top drivers will break out their tuxes and suits for tonight’s annual Sprint Cup Series Awards ceremony in Las Vegas. The show will be broadcast at 8 p.m. ET on SPEED.

It’s a rare chance to see the drivers, their wives or girlfriends and others in the industry dressed to the nines.

The Wynn Las Vegas, which has hosted the banquet since 2009, offers a luxurious setting and party atmosphere to honor first-time Cup champion Brad Keselowski and Penske Racing team owner Roger Penske, also winning his first Cup title in a motorsports career spanning decades. The remaining top 10 drivers in the final standings will also be lauded. As is tradition, each will give a speech onstage, which promises to provide a mix of emotional and comical moments.

The awards ceremony also wields its share of star power. This year’s host is “America’s Got Talent” judge Howie Mandel, who follows recent hosts Reba McEntire, Frank Caliendo and Jay Mohr. The show also features a strong entertainment lineup: Train, Lifehouse, Natasha Bedingfield, Phillip Phillips and entertainers from The Beatles LOVE.

The awards ceremony tops off Champion’s Week, a weeklong slate of activities where the Chase drivers and fans celebrate the season that was. Events included the fourth annual Fanfest, which featured the drivers playing “Are You Smarter than a 5th Grader?”; the Myers Brothers Awards, including the fan-voted Most Popular Driver award; the NASCAR Victory Lap down the Las Vegas Strip, a new fan favorite; and After the Lap, where the drivers open up with often hilarious results.

The Sprint Cup Series Awards ceremony reruns at midnight ET on SPEED, immediately following the initial broadcast.

Brad Keselowski - A fan's perspective of the 2012 Sprint Cup Series Champion

Keselowski's win at Kansas in 2011 was an important milestone in this fan's life.
Credit: Lacy Keyser

2012 marked the start of something big: we saw a hot young gun take home the Sprint Cup Series championship. For the first time since 2004, the champion wasn't Jimmie Johnson or Tony Stewart. 2012’s champion isn't just any hot newcomer to the series - he’s been turning heads since his debut in the Nationwide Series.

I started liking Keselowski when everyone hated the young driver. His aggressive style is what caught my eye. In ways he reminded me of Dale Earnhardt. I liked how he wouldn't back down - how he wouldn't let others run him over. He stood up for himself, which is something I truly admired.

When Keselowski announced he was moving to Penske Racing for the 2010 season, I felt two different emotions. One feeling was happiness that he was finally getting the chance to move up and race for a big team, but I was also sad. Dale Earnhardt Jr. gave him a shot when no one else would. If it wasn’t for JRM, I doubt we would have ever heard much about young Keselowski.

Keselowski’s first year of Cup may not have been to the standards some had hoped for, but it did however have exciting moments: the Carl Edwards feud, and of course no one can forget the “Kyle Busch is an ass” comment at Bristol. But the most important outcome of his first season with the team was getting Roger Penske his first Nationwide Series championship.

2011 saw the emergence of a new Brad Keselowski. Moving to pilot the Blue Deuce, a car that had a long history of pride and winning drivers, Keselowski became the focus of everyone’s attention. Unfortunately, his newfound fame became somewhat of an issue for me. As someone who had followed him since his first days at JRM, I became annoyed with the bandwagon fans who suddenly started singing his praises once he was winning. The fans who were cheering for him on Sunday were the same folks who had hated him in his early days in NASCAR. Even though I never quit on something or give up on people, I started to pull back my support for the driver I once considered one of my favorites.

2011 may have been a big year for Keselowski, but it was also a very big milestone for me. I was a recent high school graduate, and my gift was tickets to the June race at Kansas. Bringing my best friend Molly just added to the excitement of the race. The smell of oil and burning rubber makes me feel like I’m where I belong - at the track. It was at that race my thoughts toward Keselowski returned to the good. Being in attendance for a Keselowski win made me realize that no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t stop pulling for him to succeed in Sprint Cup racing. Watching him do the victory burnout with the American flag was beautiful and made my heart soar. Seeing him win in person made me realize I shouldn’t stop liking him as a driver just because he was now on everyone’s radar. If anything, I should be proud to have been a fan before he was in the spotlight.

Seeing a driver I liked win a race was an amazing feeling, but it had no hold compared to seeing him win the 2012 Sprint Cup championship. It was an emotional roller coaster and I felt the tears. The “I told you so” feeling just made me remember those good ol’ JRM days. The days of the goatee, the thrilling wild Talladega finish with James Finch and Phoenix Racing. But let’s not forget the broken ankle, the full on emotional Pocono win, and from there history. A broken ankle couldn’t stop Brad Keselowski last year, and nothing was going to stop him this year from taking that championship home - not even Johnson’s failed attempts at mind games. Many said Keselowski would choke, that he’d have to lose it before he could win it. But losing just isn’t in his vocabulary.

I knew I saw something in Keselowski the first time the announcers said his name. The talent and passion he shows behind the wheel are only a few of the things that make him a champion. Or maybe it’s just his attitude of never backing down that makes him a true champion in my eyes.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Jeff Gordon receives 2012 NMPA Myers Brothers Award

Credit: Patrick Smith / Getty Images for NASCAR

Four-time NASCAR Sprint Cup champion Jeff Gordon is the recipient of the National Motorsports Press Association’s Myers Brothers Award.

The award, named in honor of former NASCAR competitors Billy and Bobby Myers, was presented Nov. 29 at the NASCAR NMPA Myers Brothers Awards event at the Encore Theater at Wynn Las Vegas.

Gordon began his full-time Cup racing career in 1993, winning the championship in 1995, 1997, 1998 and 2001. He has 87 career wins in his 20-year career, all with Hendrick Motorsports. His contributions to the sport, though, go beyond on-track accomplishments. He formed the Jeff Gordon Foundation in 1999 to aid children battling cancer. Through the foundation, he supports the Jeff Gordon’s Children’s Hospital in Concord, N.C., and has committed to help children fight cancer in Africa. He also, with sponsor AARP’s Drive to End Hunger program, works to bring attention to hunger among Americans 50 and older.

“Jeff Gordon is an ambassador for NASCAR,” NMPA President Rea White said. “He has not only brought excitement to the sport on the track, but has brought awareness and aid to the children who most need it. He is truly a champion in every respect.”

Voted on each year by members of the National Motorsports Press Association (NMPA), the Myers Brothers Award recognizes individuals and/or groups who have provided outstanding contributions to the sport of stock car racing.

Richard Childress was also a finalist for the award.

The award, presented annually since 1958, honors Billy and Bobby Myers, racers who competed in the Carolinas and Virginia. They passed on a legacy of racing to their families that spans three generations.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. wins 10th consecutive Most Popular Driver Award

Credit: John Harrelson / Getty Images for NASCAR

Streak ties Earnhardt. Jr. with Bill Elliott

DARLINGTON, S.C. (November 29, 2012) – The National Motorsports Press Association (NMPA) is proud to announce, on behalf of all NASCAR fans who voted,  Dale Earnhardt Jr. has been crowned the 2012 NASCAR NMPA Most Popular Driver. 

The award, given annually since 1956, is Earnhardt Jr.’s 10th consecutive honor and was presented to him today during the NASCAR NMPA Myers Brothers Luncheon at The Encore at Wynn in Las Vegas, Nev.  This now ties him with Bill Elliott as the only other driver to be presented the award 10 consecutive years.  Elliott is still the all-time leader with 16 overall.

After fans voted from February to September, the top 10 drivers that earned the most votes were reset to zero.  Drivers Kyle Busch, Earnhardt Jr., Carl Edwards, Jeff Gordon, Kevin Harvick, Jimmie Johnson, Kasey Kahne, Matt Kenseth, Bobby Labonte and Tony Stewart were all finalists who fans voted for during the final 10 weeks of the NASCAR Sprint Cup season. After more than 934,000 votes were cast this season, Earnhardt Jr. proved once again to be the fans favorite.    

Completing the voting, in order, were Gordon, Kahne, Stewart, Johnson, Harvick, Kyle Busch, Edwards, Kenseth and Labonte.  Earnhardt Jr. has now won the award since 2003, and with Elliott and Richard Petty, are the only drivers to receive it at least five consecutive times.

“It was an honor to hear that I won this year and am now tied with Bill (Elliott) for 10 in a row,” Earnhardt Jr. said. “I’ve enjoyed this award because it’s a testament to my fans. I appreciate their loyalty and dedication. It was great to get back in Victory Lane this year for my team and for my fans. I’m looking forward to a successful 2013, and am proud to accept this award on behalf of all the fans that voted.”

Once again the NMPA was proud to support one of NASCAR’s oldest and most prestigious awards during Champion Week in Las Vegas.

"Each year, NASCAR fans show their passion for their favorite driver in the NMPA NASCAR Most Popular Driver voting,” said Rea White, president of the NMPA. “This award is not only for the driver, but also for the fans as something they can claim as their own at the end of each season. We’re proud we can continue this tradition and once again the fans have spoken, selecting a great representative in Dale Earnhardt Jr.”

For more information fans should log on to www.MostPopularDriver.com.

2013 NASCAR Chevrolet SS Unveiled



Will Debut at the 2013 Daytona SpeedWeeks in February

LAS VEGAS – Chevrolet today opened a new chapter in its storied racing history, unveiling its eagerly anticipated 2013 NASCAR Chevrolet SS race car. Powered by the legendary small block V-8 engine, the rear-wheel drive performance sedan will be Chevrolet’s newest entry in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, beginning with the 2013 SpeedWeeks in Daytona, Fla.

The new NASCAR race car closely resembles the all-new rear wheel drive V-8 Chevrolet SS performance sedan that will debut early next year.

“As a passionate race fan, the debut of the SS NASCAR race car is a genuinely exciting moment for me,” said GM North America President Mark Reuss. “With the SS, Chevrolet is delivering a true rear-wheel-drive NASCAR race car that is very closely linked to the performance sedan that will be available for sale, ensuring that our most loyal enthusiasts will have the opportunity to experience the same thrill every day on the open road that our race car drivers enjoy on the track on race day.

“The Chevrolet SS also demonstrates how we are able to leverage our global product portfolio to deliver a unique performance experience,” Reuss said. “The specialized development and testing work done for the race car will certainly benefit the entire Chevrolet product lineup.”

The Chevrolet SS is the next in a long line of famed nameplates that Chevrolet has campaigned in NASCAR. It replaces Impala, which scored 152 wins from 1959-64 and 2007-12.

“We are looking forward to another exciting year of NASCAR competition and expect that the new SS race car, with some of the most skilled drivers on the circuit behind the wheel, will distinguish itself on the track,” said Jim Campbell, U.S. vice president of Performance Vehicles and Motorsports.

The Chevrolet SS will be a derivative of the award-winning global rear-wheel-drive architecture that spawns performance vehicles like Chevrolet Camaro and Holden’s upcoming VF Commodore. The limited production version of the Chevrolet SS will be a 2014 model and will arrive in dealer showrooms in late 2013. It is the first time in 17 years that Chevrolet will offer a rear-wheel-drive sedan for sale in the United States.

Chevrolet has long used the SS (Super Sport) designation on high-performance models of some of its most enduring nameplates. The SS designation first appeared in 1957 on a Corvette prototype race car built under the guidance of Zora Arkus-Duntov with the plan to enter it in the Le Mans 24-hour race.

The first production vehicle to be offered with an SS optional package was the 1961 Impala – 453 were built with the performance upgrades, which included a modified chassis and suspension, power brakes, a steering column mounted tachometer and unique wheels and tires. The SS designation returned to the Chevrolet lineup in 2010 with the debut of the fifth-generation Camaro.

Chevrolet has 702 victories in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, more than any other manufacturer. Fonty Flock earned the manufacturer’s first win on March 26, 1955, at Columbia, S.C. Five-time series champion Jimmie Johnson achieved Chevrolet’s 700th victory earlier this month at Texas Motor Speedway.

Chevrolet was America’s best-selling performance car brand in 2011 with Camaro and Corvette accounting for one out of every three sports cars sold in the United States. The addition of the SS to the lineup is expected to further strengthen Chevrolet’s position as a leading performance brand.

What they’re saying about the Chevrolet SS:

JIM CAMPBELL, U.S. VICE PRESIDENT PERFORMANCE VEHICLES AND MOTORSPORTS:
“It’s exciting to finally lift the camouflage off the 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Chevrolet SS. It’ll be great to be racing a Chevy small block V-8, rear-wheel drive car on the race track and selling a Chevy small block V-8, rear-wheel drive Chevrolet SS in the showroom. The SS has a great history – it stands for Super Sport – and I can’t wait to see the Chevrolet SS on the opening lap of the Daytona 500 and for the rest of the 2013 season.”

MARK KENT, DIRECTOR CHEVROLET RACING:
“It’s going to be exciting to see the new Chevrolet SS on track, continuing our quest for more product relevance. We have bio fuels, fuel injection and now we have a car that is closely tied to its production counterpart. So, it’s going to be exciting to see these cars on track. We think the fans are really going to enjoy seeing the new car, and we think it is going to be great for the racing. The new car is an example of how the manufacturers working hand-in-hand with NASCAR resulted in a product that we are very proud of. It’s going to be not only product relevant, but also very exciting on the track.”

PAT SUHY, NASCAR GROUP MANAGER CHEVROLET RACING:
“It was a great opportunity to have my group work on a race car design, and use the same tools and methodologies that we use on production cars. We used math to develop it, built the prototype, tested it in the wind tunnel, got feedback from our leadership on the styling, and got feedback from our teams on the aero performance. We had a really good time working with all of the people from our teams and NASCAR really pushing the envelope much further than we ever thought we could.”

JIMMIE JOHNSON – NO. 48 HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS:
“It’s been a huge effort, and the times that I have driven the 2013 Chevrolet SS race car, I’ve been very impressed. I’m excited for Chevrolet, and really for all the manufacturers to have such a cool looking race car. The cars look sharp; they look good; I think the fans are going to be excited to go to the showrooms and buy these vehicles. We have been able to work on them from an aero balance. I know that my friends at GM are awfully smart, and are going to give me a great car to go race with.”

KASEY KAHNE – NO. 5 HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS:
“I think the car is going to be great. They just have to figure out the final touches are that they put on it for everybody. When I tested it at Homestead at the start of the year, and then the Talladega test, both times I was really happy with what we had. When I was in the car I felt like it was really nice and it drove really good.”

KEVIN HARVICK – NO. 29 RICHARD CHILDRESS RACING:
“I think it’s one of the most important moves that NASCAR and the manufacturers have made in a very long time. Just for the fact that the cars on the race track will be very significant in looking like the cars on the showroom floor. I think from a manufacturer’s standpoint it’s probably the most important move that has happened in I don’t even know how long, but a really long time. For the fans to have that relevance from the race track to the showroom is important.”

TONY STEWART – NO. 14 STEWART-HAAS RACING:
“The new SS looks awesome. That’s the great thing – it’s back to looking like a production car again. It’s a design that I really like. It’s got the perfect blend of having a race car look, but a street car look at the same time; and that’s hard to do. No matter what you’re a fan of, you’re going to be able to pick out your favorite brand of car and see it from the stands.”

JEFF GORDON – NO. 24 HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS:
“I’m really excited about the new Chevy SS. It looks great and drives great. There is still some development work to do to fine-tune everything, but I can’t wait to get in that car for next year.”

DALE EARNHARDT, JR. – NO. 88 HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS:
“I’ve had the opportunity to see the Chevy SS and it’s really an incredibly good-looking race car. It looks like it’s ready to go fast; it looks like it’s going to be competitive, and it looks like it’s going to be a lot of fun to drive. It looks like something Chevrolet should be proud of.”

JEFF BURTON, NO. 31 RICHARD CHILDRESS RACING:
“First of all the car is beautiful. I think the new design of really making a race car look like a street car is a huge step in the right direction, especially when the street car looks good. It really is a good-looking race car. It gets us more to where we need to be from an aesthetics standpoint. From a competition stand point NASCAR is really working hard to not just make this about aesthetics, but to make 2013 about better racing, closer racing, more fun to watch, more fun to do by the way. I’m real excited about that. In the testing that I have done with them we have done things that didn’t work and we’ve done things that did work. They have a lot of information to go on now and really that is what I’m most excited about. I think our fans want us racing closer. They want better action. We have to work really hard at it because we run a lot of 1.5-mile race tracks and it’s hard to have good close racing on 1.5-mile tracks. The concept of making the car so that we can race better together I’m a big proponent of, and I think that is going to be hugely positive.”

JAMIE MCMURRAY, NO 1 EARNHARDT GANASSI RACING:
“We’ve done a lot of testing with the 2013 Chevy and it seems to have a lot of speed. It handles really well and I’m looking forward to getting to all the rest of our testing and then getting to Daytona and actually getting to see all the cars painted up for the first time.”

JUAN PABLO MONTOYA, NO. 42 EARNHARDT GANASSI RACING:
“I think it looks amazing. From what I’ve seen, I did the photo shoot already with the car, the race car looks amazing. It looks great. I think it has a lot of personality. It looks like a proper Chevy that I think is great. Knowing that the street car is going to be close to that, I can’t even wait for it.”

KURT BUSCH, NO. 78 FURNITURE ROW RACING:
"I am excited about the new look of the Chevrolet SS -- the SS name symbolizes sportiness and speed, and to wrap that into a 4-door rear-wheel drive sedan will be exciting to see the final product. Overall, the way the identity of the brand, the Chevrolet and SS, will now be promoted in NASCAR is the look that we've been needing."

CHAD KNAUS, CREW CHIEF, NO. 48 CHEVROLET SS:
"We are very excited about the new ‘13 Chevy SS race car, and can't wait to get it on-track full-time next year. At Hendrick Motorsports, we have been involved in the development process and have worked closely with the Chevy engineers. There will be some challenges, but I enjoy a good challenge. I do think it will create good racing on the track. In typical Chevrolet fashion, it has high-qualify parts and is definitely a great looking car!”

KENNY FRANCIS, CREW CHIEF, NO. 5 HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS:
“I think the new race car will be an interesting new challenge. The rules are quite a bit different than what we have been working with lately. The aerodynamics are going to be a lot different. It’s a lot cooler looking car compared to what we have now. Everybody is excited about that. It’s going to present a unique opportunity and some challenges for everyone. We are just looking forward to it.”

GIL MARTIN, CREW CHIEF, NO. 29 RICHARD CHILDRESS RACING:
“I’m just excited about it because it’s a completely different look than what we have had in the past. I think it’s going to offer us a lot more opportunities for aerodynamic changes on the car. I think the fans are going to be able to relate to it because it looks like something they can get in the showroom. The car seems like it’s going to be a lot more stable in race traffic. The handling characteristics of the car is that it has a lot more grip, so the cars are going to handle a lot better. I think that is going to promote a lot better racing than what we have had in the past. I’m looking forward to it and it’s going to be fun.”

SLUGGAR LABBE, CREW CHIEF, NO. 27 CHEVROLET SS:
“ I've been part of four of the ‘13 tests. My first one was at Texas. To see where they started to where they are today is a huge improvement. You’ve got to give NASCAR credit for working with the manufacturers and the teams to make it better. Obviously, if we didn’t do all that testing we might have started the season off not as good as what we had hoped. It took a lot of effort from a lot of people to get to that point. They are still tweaking on the rules a little bit, but I think for the most part they feel confident that we have a really good package. The rules that they are going to make are really small. I’m really excited about it. They seem to race better now, more so than what we have today. With what we have done at the tracks, but we went to Charlotte Motor Speedway two weeks ago and we ran 740 miles. Jeff Burton was worn out. He did a lot for us. We definitely learned a lot. Again, you just have to compliment NASCAR for really reaching out and saying ‘hey look guys let’s make this the best we can be.’ They really haven’t done that in the past.”

TODD BERRIER, CREW CHIEF, NO. 78 FURNITURE ROW RACING:
“Obviously the ’13 race car has a lot of style and a lot of things the current race car doesn't have. It’s nice to have a car that has some character built in it instead of something that looks the way the current car we have does. That part of it is really encouraging. I think the car is appealing to look at compared to what we had before. That part makes it a lot of fun. There are a lot of shapes and things that maybe will allow us to work in areas that we have not worked in the past. There are now at least some differences in the brands and difference in things like that, which will maybe cause some disparity across the field that will enable us to pass and have good racing.”

JIM POHLMAN, EARNHARDT GANASSI TEST TEAM COORDINATOR:
“I think having a new style car is what we have needed for a while here in NASCAR. I think it gives a little brand identity back, which is going to be huge for our fans. So that we can get them back in touch with the race cars; it’s going to be a big deal for us. I like a lot of things about the car. I really love the clear shark fin. I think that really helps with the brand identity. I like the shape of the car, the slope of the front windshield, and the rear glass. I love how they have put all the character back into the car with the wheel flares, and the body character in the nose and tail. I really think that those details are the kind of thing that fans are looking for to reconnect with the car.”

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Retrofitted: Eldora, Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, Give Trucks Throw-Back Feel

New Additions, Classic Look For 2013 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Schedule

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (November 28, 2012) – NASCAR today announced the 2013 schedule for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, a slate that includes two exciting firsts: the series’ first race on dirt and its inaugural international event.

On July 24, the trucks will make their dirt debut at Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio, the.5-mile track owned by three-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Tony Stewart. This event will be the first of two Wednesday night races for the series, joining Bristol Motor Speedway’s popular mid-week race on Aug. 21.

“We’ve had talks about getting the trucks on dirt in the past,” said Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR senior vice president of racing operations. “The door-to-door racing that our truck series is known for plus Eldora’s popularity and Tony’s dedication to putting on great shows for the fans is a perfect fit. We’ll have a maximum starting field of 30 trucks at Eldora. More details on the race format are still being developed.”

Canadian Tire Motorsport Park (CTMP), a 2.459-mile, 10-turn road course in Bowmanville, Ont., will host its inaugural truck event on Sept. 1, becoming the first road-course track for the series since 2000, and ensuring a NASCAR national series presence in Canada for a seventh-consecutive season.

“It’s very important that we maintain our national series presence in Canada,” O’Donnell said. “We’ve accomplished that goal while also bringing a world-class venue like Canadian Tire Motorsport Park on board. The Canadian fan base is so passionate and has a high regard for NASCAR. We’re excited to increase our role with our great partners at Canadian Tire while also introducing the truck series to our fans in Canada.

CTMP, which has hosted NASCAR Canadian Tire Series events since 2007, becomes the fifth different track to hold a NASCAR Camping World Truck Series road-course event, and first since Watkins Glen International on June 24, 2000.

Also beginning in 2013 as was recently announced by NASCAR, at road courses and tracks measuring 1.1 miles in length or less, the driver age restriction will be lowered to 16 years old. Currently, the minimum age to compete at the national series level is 18. 

The balance of the 2013 NASCAR Camping World Truck schedule, the series’ 19th season,maintains a familiar feel, opening with Daytona International Speedway on Feb. 22 and culminating on Nov. 15 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Next year’s schedule also includes a return to Rockingham Speedway for the second consecutive season. Earlier this season, Rockingham re-joined NASCAR national series competition for the first time since 2004.

See below for the current version of the 2013 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series schedule.


 2013 NASCAR CAMPING WORLD TRUCK SERIES SCHEDULE
Date                 Site

2/22                  Daytona International Speedway
4/6                    Martinsville Speedway
4/14                  Rockingham Speedway
4/20                  Kansas Speedway
5/17                  Charlotte Motor Speedway
5/31                  Dover International Speedway
6/7                    Texas Motor Speedway
6/27                  Kentucky Speedway
7/13                  Iowa Speedway
7/24                  Eldora Speedway
8/3                    Pocono Raceway
8/17                  Michigan International Speedway
8/21                  Bristol Motor Speedway
9/1                    Canadian Tire Motorsport Park
9/8                    Iowa Speedway
9/13                  Chicagoland Speedway
9/28                  Las Vegas Motor Speedway
10/19                Talladega Superspeedway
10/26                Martinsville Speedway
11/1                  Texas Motor Speedway
11/8                  Phoenix International Raceway
11/15                Homestead-Miami Speedway

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Fast Facts: 2012 Nationwide Series champ Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

Jack Roush and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. with the 2012
Nationwide Series championship trophy
Credit: Getty Images for NASCAR/Chris Graythen
Roush Fenway Racing driver Ricky Stenhouse Jr. will have some big shoes to fill in 2013 – he’s replacing 2003 Cup Series champion Matt Kenseth in the Roush Fenway Racing No. 17 Ford Fusion in the Sprint Cup Series. He’s heading to the car on a high note – he backed up his 2011 Nationwide Series title with a second one in 2012. Here another look at Stenhouse Jr., featuring the 2012 chapter of his career, in this week’s Fast Facts.

  • Ricky Stenhouse Jr. was born October 2, 1987 in Olive Branch, Mississippi. He began racing go karts at age 6; by age 15, he had collected 47 A-Main wins and more than 90 podium finishes. In 2003, he switched to 360 winged sprint cars, winning the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame Driver Poll and Dirt Winged Sprint Car Rookie of the Year, as well as the Memphis (Tenn.) Motorsports Park Rookie of the Year.
  • Stenhouse Jr. spent the next few years driving winged and noon-winged sprint cars in various series including USAC, ASCS, and USCS. In 2007, Stenhouse Jr. got a call from Tony Stewart Racing to replace Tracy Hines in the team’s USAC Sprint and Midget cars after Hines was injured in an off-track incident. In his second start with TSR, Stenhouse Jr. earned the win in the USAC National Midget Car Series competition at Tri-State Speedway. He went on to win the 2007 Rookie of the Year awards in both the USAC Sprint and Midget Car Series.
  • In 2008, Stenhouse Jr. joined Roush Fenway Racing in the ARCA Racing Series, earning two wins and 14 total top 10 finishes in just 21 starts, finishing fourth in final points after leading the series for 13 weeks. In 2009 and 2010, he raced partial Nationwide Series schedules; in 2010, he competed in enough races to earn the Nationwide Series Rookie of the Year title.
  • In 2011, Stenhouse Jr. won the Nationwide Series title by 45 points over second-place Elliott Sadler; he won twice and earned 26 top 10 finishes. He also made his Sprint Cup Series debut at Charlotte Motor Speedway in the Coca Cola 600 in May, substituting for Trevor Bayne in the Wood Brothers Racing entry and finishing 11th.

  • In 2012, Stenhouse Jr. repeated as Nationwide Series champ, this time by 23 points over Sadler; he won six times and earned 26 top 10s. In Sprint Cup Series competition, he ran for Roush Fenway four times and had a best finish of 12th at Dover in September.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Why I Love NASCAR: Championship Weekend by Chief 187™

Another NASCAR season is put to rest. A champion was crowned, a team rejoiced, and a field of teams went back to the drawing board to figure how they could be the victors next year.

For the first time in my life I was afforded the opportunity to attend the championship races for all three of NASCAR’s top series. I was able to cover all of the races as a member of the NASCAR media, this time as a radio personality instead of a writer. The following are my impressions, opinions, and observations of my time at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Friday – The Trucks. Friday was the day I felt I had the most access and the people were most available. I wandered the pits, the garage area, the haulers, and ran into such NASCAR greats as Richard Petty, Richard Childress, and Rusty Wallace.

Speaking to Richard Petty
Credit: Andy Delay
What was most fun and telling, however, was my time walking down the pits during the NCWTS practice. The accessibility of these young drivers was vast and they were all approachable. There was no wall between me and the drivers. They were happy to talk to me.

The trucks do a one day show at Homestead-Miami Speedway. They practice, qualify, and run all in the same day. Upon completion of the race the teams all leave for another venue or, in this case, home.

Camping World Truck driver Dakoda Armstrong speaks to Candice.
Credit: Andy Delay
 Some do not follow the trucks; others do not see these competitors as stars. They are the real deal and, as their championship race proved again on Friday night, they offer the best racing in any of NASCAR’s top series. Cale Gale racing Kyle Busch hard and winning by .014 seconds for his first win was as heart-pumping, adrenaline-fueled as racing can be.

James Buescher won the championship and is sure to be a name in Cup one day. But all of the drivers I spoke to – Timothy Peters, Joey Coulter, Parker Klingerman, Ross Chastain, Dakoda Armstrong – will be superstars in the sport in the near future. To me they already are.

Saturday – Nationwide. Saturday was far more crowded at the track than Friday with throngs of fans filing in to spectate.

Speaking with Brendan Gaughan, who drove RCR's Nationwide No. 33 entry at Homestead.
Credit: Andy Delay
Some Nationwide racers were as generous with their time as the truck drivers whereas others were too busy or distracted to talk to the media.

A vibe was different on Saturday. Jovial moods were replaced with focused minds. Immediacy was ever-present in the garage-area. There was a definite feeling of edginess and an overwhelming desire to compete. Waiting, it seems, is the hardest part for some.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. won the Nationwide championship for the second year in a row. He is off to Cup to run for Roush-Fenway Racing in NASCAR’s top series.

Unlike the majority of the NCWTS, the Nationwide Series is filled with drivers who may never get to – or get back to – Cup. It is littered with a hodgepodge of drivers in different stages of their career.

I was fortunate to have a good smattering of drivers talk to me within the Nationwide Series, but the access was far more difficult than the trucks.

Sunday – Cup. If Saturday was crowded then Sunday was wall-to-wall people. I arrived early and was able to amble around the pits and garages of the Cup teams. I was unable to speak to any drivers – I understood as it was race day – but some of the team members talked to me and I was able to speak to Roger Penske and Jack Roush as well as NASCAR Hall of Famer and eight-time champion crew chief Dale Inman.

What was the most pervasive thought within the garage was that this was the end of a very long season.

Thirty-six points races, 10 months of work (12 really), and a laborious routine that tasks the best takes its toll.

Brad Keselowski won the NASCAR Sprint Cup championship giving his team owner, Roger Penske, his first Cup in his long career in NASCAR.

Sticking around until late on that championship night gave me my just rewards. For the second time in the weekend I was able to talk to the newly crowned champion. The second time he also shook my hand.

Overall I had the time of my life reporting on the top three NASCAR series championships. I met incredible people, future stars, and NASCAR legends.

Mostly I got to do my job at the races – something every NASCAR journalist/columnist hopes to do. I am as enamored as ever with NASCAR.

Candice speaks with Kenny Wallace (l) and Darrell Wallace Jr. (c) and Sergio Pena, (r).
Credit: Andy Delay 
Attending the championship NASCAR races at Homestead-Miami Speedway and experiencing the sights, sounds, and feel of the weekend are yet more huge reasons why I love NASCAR.


Chief 187™ is a writer, columnist, and blogger as well as creator of the widely popular Chief 187™Chatter. Her column “Why I Love NASCAR” and other articles are featured on Skirts and Scuffs. She can be reached via Twitter by following @Chief187s. To find out more please visit http://Chief187.com.




Sunday, November 25, 2012

2012 Brazilian Grand Prix: Button Wins GP- Vettel Wins Championship!


Three-time Drivers Champion Sebastian Vettel
Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images
A dramatic race filled with rain, no rain, pouring rain, a multitude of pit stops and tire changes. Full-on, wheel-to-wheel racing resulting in retirements and a host of minor collisions. As a series finale, the Brazilian Grand Prix did not disappoint Formula One fans and many drivers as Red Bull's 25-year-old Sebastian Vettel finished sixth and drove on to his third consecutive Drivers Championship. In doing so, Vettel joins the elite company of Michael Schumacher (2001-2004) and Juan Manuel Fangio (1954-1957). He is also the youngest to win the title since Ayrton Senna in 1991 at the age of 31. Senna also won three Championships, but his were not consecutive. 

His only rival for the Championship, Ferrari's Fernando Alonso, finished second behind race-winner Jenson Button of McLaren. Felipe Massa stood next to his Ferrari teammate to accept the third place trophy. 

''I want to congratulate the whole team. This is the perfect way to end the whole season and it bodes well for 2013,'' exclaimed Button.

It was a day filled with tension as eyes were on the race leaders as well as the two Championship contenders. Some focused on Michael Schumacher who, retiring from Formula One, drove his final Grand Prix today. F1 fans also focused on the rain which only intensified the atmosphere and wreaked havoc with those driving the last Round of the season. Many of the drivers found it difficult navigating through a circuit that is not only curvy with elevation but is known to be extremely slick in the wet. As is so often the case at Interlagos, the safety car was out several times due to collisions and debris. In fact, the race was won under yellow.

Vettel got off to a poor start and dropped several grid places only to be clipped by Bruno Senna and it was feared the contact might interfere with Vettel's race. His team radioed that there was nothing to be done about the damage to floor and left rear of his car, and he was told to carry on. So he did after having to restart from the back.

The first few laps were complete chaos: Grosjean spun off track and hit the wall- he was out. Up front, the McLarens battled each other for position. Meanwhile, at about the same time, Alonso locked up and went spinning off track handing third place to Nico Hulkenberg, Kimi Raikkonen pitted for intermediate tires and Button overtook polesitter Lewis Hamilton. There was so much to watch the first few laps it was almost too difficult to keep track of, but was certainly exciting!

Button and Hulkenberg were the only two to stay on dry tires; a formidable strategy considering the light rain at the beginning of the race. It was one that proved smart as other drivers pitted to change again back onto the hards. This enabled Hulkenberg to take the lead at Lap 19- a small victory for Force India but one that was soon to be taken away when the safety car came out yet again as debris was cleared from the track. The drivers were given a chance to bunch up once more and as the safety car came in, their front-running advantage was erased. 

Soon after re-start, Hulkenberg clipped Hamilton resulting in Hamilton's retirement. Certainly a sad finish to Hamilton's career at McLaren but in spite of him moving to Mercedes next year, he received a standing ovation by his team as he walked back to pit row. Button took the front of the pack and he retained first throughout the rest of the race. Alonso passed teammate Massa to take second place. 

Lap 69 was the fulcrum that nailed the championship. Paul di Resta crashed into the wall and out came the safety car. No more overtaking. The racing was done. The Championship won and the order of finish was set. It was a bit of an anti-climactic finish but there was no way to clear the car and allow for more racing with such a short amount of time left. With Vettel's sixth-place finish, Alonso needed to win the race to win the Championship. It was over.

So it was Button in first, Alonso second on the podium as well as in the title run. Given the car and the conditions Alonso did well with what he was given this year. Massa was very emotional as he took third place on the podium on his home turf. 

Congratulations go to all three of today's winners as well as the Drivers Champion, Sebastian Vettel. Michael Schumacher deserves accolades as well for finishing in the points in his last Formula One race. 

Here is the full list of drivers in order of finish:

 1- Jenson Button (McLaren)
 2- Fernando Alonso (Ferrari)
 3- Felipe Massa (Ferrari)
 4- Mark Webber (Red Bull)
 5- Nico Hulkenberg (Force India)
 6- Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull)
 7- Michael Schumacher (Mercedes
 8- Jean-Eric Vergne (Toro Rosso)
 9- Kamui Kobayashi (Sauber)
10- Kimi Raikkonen (Lotus)
11- Vitaly Petrov (Caterham)
12- Charles Pic (Marussia)
13- Daniel Ricciardo (Toro Rosso)
14- Heikki Kovalainen (Caterham)
15- Nico Rosberg (Mercedes)
16- Timo Glock (Marussia)
17- Pedro de la Rosa (Cosworth)
18- Narain Karthikeyan (Cosworth)
19- Paul Di Resta (Force India)
Ret- Lewis Hamilton (McLaren)
Ret- Romain Grosjean (Lotus)
Ret- Pastor Maldonado (Williams)
Ret- Bruno Senna (Williams)
Ret- Sergio Perez (Sauber)

2012 FIA Formula One World Championship™ results:

1 Sebastian Vettel
2 Fernando Alonso
3 Kimi Raikkonen
4 Lewis Hamilton
5 Jenson Button
6 Mark Webber
7 Felipe Massa
8 Romain Grosjean
9 Nico Rosberg
10 Sergio Perez
11 Nico Hulkenberg
12 Kamui Kobayashi
13 Michael Schumacher
14 Paul di Resta
15 Pastor Maldonado
16 Bruno Senna
17 Jean-Eric Vergne
18 Daniel Ricciardo
19 Vitaly Petrov
20 Timo Glock
21 Charles Pic
22 Heikki Kovalainen
23 Jerome d'Ambrosio
24 Narain Karthikeyan
25 Pedro de la Rosa 

This website is unofficial and is not associated in any way with the Formula One group of companies. F1, FORMULA ONE, FORMULA 1, FIA FORMULA ONE WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP, GRAND PRIX and related marks are trade marks of Formula One Licensing B.V.   

Texas Motor Speedway offers exclusive Cyber Monday deal: FREE PIT PASS package


FORT WORTH, TX (Nov. 25, 2012) - If you didn't find the perfect gift for the race fan on your gift list, don’t despair. Texas Motor Speedway races to the rescue with a Cyber Monday deal you won’t want to pass up. You'll want to grab this one for yourself, too!

TMS president Eddie Gossage works to keep ticket prices affordable and Cyber Monday gives him and the crew at Texas Motor Speedway the chance to give fans a special offer. As a Skirts and Scuffs reader, you're getting advance notice.
A man who obviously has a pit pass takes a photo of
Jeff Gordon on pit road before the 2012 Texas 500.
Credit: Lisa Janine Cloud/Skirts and Scuffs
Between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. Central Time, Monday, TMS will be offering a free pit pass for anyone who purchases the "2 for $99" frontstretch ticket package for the Saturday night, April 13 running of the Texas 500 at the Great American Speedway. 

That’s a value of $125 on the surface, but if you've ever been in the pits at a Sprint Cup race, you know that putting a dollar value on the experience is next to impossible. Once you've been on pit road pre-race, you'll never want to be anywhere else. Once you've watched the crews from behind the pit boxes during the race, you'll want pit passes every time you go to the track.


With pit passes, you see see special moments like this,
Tony Stewart and Steve Addington confer.
Credit: Lisa Janine Cloud/Skirts and Scuffs
The link to this terrific offer is www.texasmotorspeedway.com/cyber-monday and the promo code is TMScyber. It won't be live until the the offer is, so be sure to save it! 

You can buy up to four packages (eight tickets with four passes) while supplies last. Customers who purchase the "Cyber Monday" deal may also purchase an additional pit pass with each package for $125.

That means for just $224, you and a friend or significant other get frontstretch tickets to the Wild Asphalt Circus that is night racing at Texas Motor Speedway AND you get unparalleled access to the drivers and crews.

Remember: Cyber Monday. 9am - 9pm Central Time. Be there or wish you had!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

2012 Brazilian Grand Prix: Hamilton Takes Pole While Alonso Hopes for Rain

SAO PAULO, BRAZIL - NOVEMBER 24: Pole sitter Lewis Hamilton (C) of Great Britain and McLaren celebrates with second-placed Jenson Button (R) of Great Britain and McLaren and third-placed Mark Webber (L) of Australia and Red Bull Racing following qualifying for the Brazilian Formula One Grand Prix at the Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace on November 24, 2012 in Sao Paulo, Brazil. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
For the first time since Canada 2010, McLaren dominated Q3 as teammates Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button locked out the two Championship contenders with Hamilton taking pole. Hamilton set a time of 1:12.458s, just .055 quicker than Button. In Round 20, the final race of the 2012 Formula One season, Red Bull's Driver Championship contender Sebastian Vettel starts in fourth. Challenger Fernando Alonso of Ferrari qualified eighth, but Romain Grosjean's 10-grid penalty for receiving his third five-grid penalty of the season moves Alonso up to seventh, just three grid spots behind rival Vettel.  

Red Bull secures second row with Mark Webber in third. When asked pointedly if he would help his teammate win a third consecutive title, Webber replied, ''I think that we'll focus on ourselves tomorrow. The weather will maybe be tricky and its a long Grand Prix, so Ill just focus on my efforts and try to get to the finish as quickly as possible.'' He added, ''In the last race of the season it would have been good to get pole, but fair play to McLaren.''  

Third row with grid spots five and six go to Felipe Massa and Nico Hulkenberg respectively. Alonso, as mentioned above, sits in seventh directly behind teammate Massa with Lotus' Kimi Raikkonen on the inside. Massa has out-qualified his teammate several times this year and is on home turf. A podium here, though unlikely, would be a boon to the Brazilian.

Rounding out the top ten grid spots at ninth and tenth are Nico Rosberg (Mercedes) and Paul de Resta (Force India).

The final starting grid spots in order are:

11- Bruno Senna (Williams)
12- Sergio Perez (Sauber)
13- Michael Schumacher (Mercedes)
14- Kamui Kobayashi (Sauber)
15- Daniel Ricciardo (Toro Rosso)
16- Pastor Maldonado (Williams)
17- Jean-Eric Vergne (Toro Rosso)
18- Romain Grosjean (Lotus
19- Vitaly Petrov (Caterham)
20- Heikki Kovalainen (Caterham)
21- Timo Glock (Marussia)
22- Charles Pic (Marussia)
23- Narain Karthikeyan (HRT)
24- Pedro de la Rose (HRT)

Conditions at Interlagos can be tricky. Qualifying started with rain and ended with a warm sunny finish. The forecast for tomorrow is for rain as well. You can check for hourly conditions here.

Formula One math for the Drivers Championship: 
  • If Sebastian Vettel comes in fourth or higher, he will win the Championship even if Alonso wins the race. 
  • If Vettel comes in fifth through seventh and Alonso does not podium, Vettel wins.
  •  If Alonso fails to podium, Vettel wins.
  • If Vettel finishes eighth or ninth and Alonso fails to podium, the Championship goes to Vettel.
On the other hand: 
  • If Alonso wins the race and Vettel comes in fifth or lower, Alonso wins the Championship. 
  • If Alonso is second and Vettel comes in eighth or lower, Alonso wins. 
  • If Alonso podiums at third and Vettel comes in tenth or lower, again, the Championship will go to Alonso. 
There are so many different scenarios that can be affected by so many different factors: weather, reliability, collisions, a good break at the starting grid - it is impossible to predict who will win the Drivers Championship. I do know that it should be an exciting race whether wet or dry and whether Vettel or Alonso emerges with the coveted title.

Racing begins at 10:00 Central on November 25th. Please look to SkirtsandScuffs.com for your race results, quotes and race recap.

This website is unofficial and is not associated in any way with the Formula One group of companies. F1, FORMULA ONE, FORMULA 1, FIA FORMULA ONE WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP, GRAND PRIX and related marks are trade marks of Formula One Licensing B.V. 

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

2012 Brazilian Grand Prix- Race Preview

F1 Drivers Championship Trophy/http://saanaslogbook.blogspot.com/2012/07/fox-silver-ltd.html
Red Bull Racing wrapped up the Constructors Championship last weekend in Austin during the United States Grand Prix. This leaves the total focus on the Drivers Championship as all eyes turn to Interlagos in São Paulo, Brazil to see whether Sebastian Vettel of Red Bull or Fernando Alonso of Ferrari will be taking home the coveted title and trophy. This will be Round 20 and the final Grand Prix of the 2012 season.

At one time, the Brazilian Grand Prix was held at the beginning of the season. Since being moved to the last Round of the Formula One season it has become a race of drama and excitement as a number of Championships have come down to the last race. This season proves no different as Vettel and Alonso race for the final time this year to decide the Drivers Championship. Both are seeking to become a three-time world Champion as they drive head-to-head around the Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace. The stakes could not be higher for either driver. 
Interlagos/FIA

Interlagos is an interesting circuit that has provided quality racing entertainment. It is a counter-clockwise circuit that was built to follow the existing terrain making it quite hilly and somewhat bumpy. It also demands more power from the cars as they maneuver hills and power out of turns that seem more like a roller-coaster than a Formula One circuit. This does, however, provide excellent overtaking opportunities while at the same time, braking zones that are both uphill and downhill create plenty of room for error- something neither of the prospective Champions wants, or can afford to make. The weather has often played a large part in this race with the safety car being deployed frequently in recent years. In fact, there are showers scheduled for Sunday along with a 15=degree drop in temperatures from practice and qualifying days. In short, Interlagos is a perfect venue for a Championship showdown. For up to the minute weather, you can check here.

Circuit Data:
  • Length of a lap: 2,677.49 miles
  • Lap record: 1:11,473 (Juan Pablo Montoya, Williams, 2004)
  • Total number of race laps: 71
  • Total race distance: 190.077 miles
Changes to the circuit since 2011:
  • New debris fences have been installed on both sides of the track between turns three and four
  • A curb has been installed on the apex of turn 15
  • Tube inserts have been placed in the tire barrier on the end of the wall at the pit entry.
Please join us as we follow the conclusion of the 2012 Formula One racing series.
For broadcast times see FORMULA ONE on SPEED's schedule here.


This website is unofficial and is not associated in any way with the Formula One group of companies. F1, FORMULA ONE, FORMULA 1, FIA FORMULA ONE WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP, GRAND PRIX and related marks are trade marks of Formula One Licensing B.V.  

Jeb Burton and Turner Motorsports reach two year contract


MOORESVILLE, N.C. (November 21, 2012) - Turner Motorsports has announced the signing of Halifax, Virginia native Jeb Burton. Burton has signed a two-year contract with Turner Motorsports to run a full-time NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) schedule and a limited NASCAR Nationwide Series (NNS) schedule in 2013 and 2014.

Burton, who made his first Truck Series start at Martinsville Speedway this past March, has a total of five starts in the NCWTS. In those five starts, Burton has recorded one top-10 finish.

"I'm really proud that I can race for Turner Motorsports over the next two years," said the 20-year-old Burton. "This team has had so much success, and I'm happy to have the opportunity to work with such a quality team."

Steve Turner, who has been known to give opportunities to up-and-coming stars, said "I'm really excited that we will have Jeb under the Turner Motorsports umbrella. Everyone at Turner Motorsports feels he has the skills to be successful in NASCAR and we are eager to welcome him to our team." Turner, also noted, that he is proud to have Jeb's father, Ward Burton onboard to assist with driver development at Turner Motorsports.

More information for Burton will be released in the near future.

About Turner Motorsports: Turner Motorsports, LLC, established in 1999, has completed its third season of NASCAR competition. Owned by Texas businessman Steve Turner, the organization expanded in 2011 from a two-truck operation in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) to become the largest stand-alone multi-series team in NASCAR's top-tier touring series. Turner Motorsports operates out of an 110,000 square-foot state-of-the art facility in Mooresville, N.C.  The Chevrolet-backed team has created alliances with General Motors' powerhouse team Hendrick Motorsports, which provides engine support for both its NNS and NCWTS programs, and Earnhardt Technology Group for drive train and suspension technology assistance. Turner Motorsports' marketing partners include Great Clips, BRANDT, Exide, AccuDoc Solutions, Wolfpack Rentals, Fraternal Order of Eagles ABF Freight, Qualcomm, Duroline Brakes, and KoikeAronson Ransome. For more information on Turner Motorsports, visit www.turnermotorsportsllc.com.

Jeff Burton Has Successful Minor Wrist Surgery

Jeff Burton
Credit: Debbie Ross for Skirts and Scuffs
 
WELCOME, N.C. (Nov. 21, 2012) - Richard Childress Racing driver Jeff Burton had successful, minor wrist surgery Tuesday afternoon to alleviate symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome.

"After feeling some reoccurring symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome, my physician and I decided routine surgery would be best for this situation," said Burton, who was back at home soon after the outpatient procedure. "There is no such thing as an offseason in this sport so I wanted to get it done as soon as possible to be ready for my Caterpillar Visitors Center appearance with Richard (Childress) early next month. Plus, we have many test sessions planned in December with the No. 31 Chevrolet team in preparation for the 2013 season with my new crew chief Luke Lambert. I will be ready to go."

The 2013 Sprint Cup Series season will be Burton's 20th fulltime year in NASCAR's premier division. The South Boston, Va., native has amassed 21 wins, 132 top-five finishes, 248 top-10 finishes, six pole awards and led 6,513 laps during his illustrious career. Burton finished 19th in the 2012 Sprint Cup Series driver championship point standings with two top-five and six top-10 finishes. The RCR veteran driver qualified for the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup from 2006-2008 and in 2010 with 14-time NASCAR championship winning car owner Richard Childress.
 
***

Faith on the Frontstretch: Repair the damage and finish the race

Crew members work on Jeff Gordon's car
after practice at Dover, Sept. 2012.
Credit: Beth Bence Reinke for Skirts and Scuffs  
“...and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” Hebrews 12:1b

Has someone ever bothered you so much that you finally lost it and did something rash? Maybe you lashed out with spiteful words or took actions that damaged the relationship. Then afterwards, you agonized over what happened, feeling guilty one moment and self-righteous the next.

It appears that Jeff Gordon understands those emotions. A week after he purposely crashed Clint Bowyer at Phoenix, Gordon talked about his feelings in his post-win presser at Homestead. Apparently Gordon spent the week since the crash stewing over his actions. Here’s what he said:

“… You can try all you want to try to move past the moment, but man, it just ate me up inside all week. I just keep going back and forth about the decisions that I made and wishing I had made different decisions, to backing up reasons why I made the decisions I made, and I just kept going back and forth from being disappointed, being angry, feeling that I had a right.”

But then Gordon admitted, “I didn't have a right. So that just ate me up all week.”

When something “eats you up,” that’s guilt and it’s normal in the aftermath of conflict. Remorse helps us recognize our wrongdoing. It helps us realize that we’re capable of doing and saying some pretty rotten things.

In a way, guilt is like a remedy to keep us from doing the same dumb thing again. But it is meant to be a temporary catalyst for repentance and change. It reminds us to apologize and ask for forgiveness. Then it’s time to move on with life.

But sometimes we make guilt a way of life and it mutates into an unhealthy emotion called shame.

God knows all of us have made poor decisions and done stupid stuff. Oftentimes we have to live with the natural consequences of our sins. But the last thing He wants is for us to wallow in shame and be weighed down by guilt. Instead, God wants us to be free from shame and self-condemnation. He even made a way for anyone to have that freedom.

If there was a wreck in your past that’s left you damaged by guilt, maybe it’s time to let God fix your crumpled heart. God is like a mechanic on standby in the garage on race day. He’s waiting for you to let Him repair the damage and send you back out to get the best possible finish.

Talk to God about what you’ve done that makes you feel ashamed. If you are truly sorry, tell Him, then ask Him to forgive you. Most importantly, thank Him for sending Jesus to take the punishment for your wrongdoings. Accepting Jesus as your Lord and Savior means you don’t have to feel that guilt anymore.

Let God repair your damage. Finish the race guilt-free.

Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord.” And you forgave the guilt of my sin. ~ Psalm 32:5
--------------------------------------------

Want more racing devotions? When you donate $25 to Skirts and Scuffs, we’ll send you a complimentary copy of Beth’s book, Race Fans’ Devotions to Go, a month-long, pocket-sized devotional book for female racing fans.

“Faith on the Frontstretch” appears every 1st & 3rd Wednesday and explores the role of faith in motorsports. Comments or twitter follows welcome: @bbreinke. See you on the Frontstretch!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Penske Racing Names Greg Erwin Crew Chief of No. 12 Nationwide Series Ford Mustang

Credit: Charlotte Bray for Skirts and Scuffs 
MOORESVILLE, N.C. (November 20, 2012) – Penske Racing has added Greg Erwin as crew chief of the No. 12 Ford Mustang driven by Sam Hornish, Jr. in the NASCAR Nationwide Series. Erwin joins the Penske Racing team after most recently serving as the crew chief for Richard Petty Motorsports’  No. 43 Ford Fusion in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.

The move will give Hornish a veteran’s perspective as he competes in his second full season in the Nationwide Series. The native of Defiance, Ohio finished fourth in the Nationwide Series standings in 2012 after recording 10 top-five and 22 top-10 finishes in 33 starts.

Erwin comes to Penske Racing with vast experience with some of NASCAR’s top teams including Roush Fenway Racing where he teamed with Greg Biffle to win five (5) races and qualified for the Chase for the Sprint Cup in three (3) consecutive years.

“It is an honor to be selected as the crew chief of the No. 12 Ford Mustang,” said Erwin. “I would like to thank Roger Penske and everyone at Penske Racing for the opportunity to be a part of this championship-caliber team. I look forward to working hard to build a team that consistently wins races and competes for championships.”

“We are excited about having Greg as he brings a great deal of knowledge and experience to Penske Racing,” said Tim Cindric, President of Penske Racing. “We are confident that he will be able to take the No. 12 Nationwide Series program to another level.”

Fast Facts: 2012 Sprint Cup champ Brad Keselowski

Tom Pennington/Getty Images for NASCAR
Brad Keselowski proved he was tough in 2011 when he drove his No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge at two of the Sprint Cup Series most challenging tracks, Pocono and Watkins Glen, with a broken ankle, then won at Bristol. One year later, he became the Sprint Cup Series champ in just his third full-time season in the series. It’s time to revisit the career of young Mr. Keselowski with a new chapter – the road to the 2012 championship.
  • Bradley Keselowski was born February 12th, 1984 in Rochester Hills, Michigan. He is the son of former ARCA Racing Series and Truck Series driver Bob Keselowski and nephew of former Cup Series driver Ron Keselowski. His older brother Brian also competes part-time in the Cup, Nationwide, and ARCA Racing Series.
  • Keselowski began racing quarter-midgets at age 14; at age 16, he moved up to the Factory Stock division at local tracks in Michigan. In 2004 at age 20, he made his Truck Series debut in the family-owned #29 entry, moving from part-time to full-time in the series in 2005. In 2007 he moved up to the Busch (now Nationwide) Series, driving first for Keith Coleman Racing, then Germain Racing, and ending the season with Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s JR Motorsports, where he stayed in 2008 and 2009.
  • In 2009, driving part-time in the Sprint Cup Series for Phoenix Racing, Keselowski won his first race in just his fifth start, leading the only lap the counts – the last one – at the Aaron’s 499 at Talladega Superspeedway in April of that year.
  • In 2010, Keselowski signed with Penske Racing to race in the Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series. He earned the Nationwide Series title that year with six wins and 29 top 10 finishes while finishing 25th in Cup Series points. In 2011, he earned three wins and a fifth-place finish in the Chase for the Sprint Cup; he also won five times in the Nationwide Series.
  • In 2012, Keselowski earned five wins in Cup Series competition, including two in the Chase on the way to the title. During the Chase, Keselowski never ranked lower than second, and his worst finish in the 10-race Chase was 15th in the season finale at Homestead-Miami. In 36 starts, he completed 98.9-percent of the laps (10,329 of 10,442) and led 735 laps. In Nationwide Series competition, Keselowski competed in 21 races, winning three times and earning one pole at New Hampshire in July.
  • He started Brad Keselowski Racing in 2007, competing in the Camping World Truck Series beginning in 2008. In 2012, 18-year-old Ryan Blaney won his first race in his third start in the Truck Series at Iowa Speedway driving the BKR No. 29. With the win, Blaney became the youngest winner in series’ history.
  • Fast Fact on Keselowski’s crew chief, Paul Wolfe – as a driver, Wolfe competed in the Busch North (now K&N Pro Series East) and Busch (now Nationwide) Series. Among the teams he drove for: Evernham Motorsports (2005).

MWR Weekly Wrap-Up: Clint Bowyer finishes 2012 on a high note

Who'd have thought that Michael Waltrip Racing's Clint Bowyer would finish second in the points?
Credit: Debbie Ross/Skirts and Scuffs
Years from now we will look back at 2012 and say that was the year that Michael Waltrip Racing became legitimate NASCAR championship contenders.

Throughout the ups and downs of the season, MWR remained one of the most consistent teams in the garage area. Let's look at the numbers:

Driver Wins Top 5 Top 10 Points
Clint Bowyer 3 10 23 2nd, -39
Mark Martin 0 4 10 26th (p/t)
Martin Truex Jr. 0 7 19 11th
Brian Vickers 0 3 5 35th (p/t)
2012 Totals:  3 24 57

Clint Bowyer's move to MWR late last year was met with much criticism, saying his career was over. No one would have guessed that in their freshman season together, Bowyer would finish second in the points, win three races and together with teammates Mark Martin, Martin Truex Jr. and Brian Vickers, put MWR on the map as legitimate race contenders.

Asking his feelings post-race, Bowyer answered honestly, “Frustrated and bummed out. I would've loved to have won that race, especially to beat him (Jeff Gordon). To end up second and second in points. There were several points in that race where I thought we were good and then we lost all of those positions on pit road and the 5 (Kasey Kahne) car was leading and I was like, ‘Well, there goes third. Now where is fourth? How am I going to lose fourth?’ To be able to bounce back through all of the adversity and overcome all of that and finish second is just a great feeling. I’m proud of Brian Pattie (crew chief) and all of the guys on the 5-hour ENERGY Toyota. They work hard and they deserve good finishes like this.”

After the race, Bowyer tweeted, "Can't believe we ended up 2nd. I didn't even know it was mathematically possible. Lol. Awesome job to everyone@MWRteam and my 15 guys!!!" As the stress of the season faded, he tweeted, "And now, now it's time for some down time. Pretty sure ima have a drink in my hand next several days. This shit's stressful!!!!!!!!!!!"

Not to just single out Bowyer, the entire MWR organization has grown leaps and bounds from years past. Status quo for 2013, I fully expect the team to be in the same and if not better situations throughout the season.

Thanks for following the MWR Weekly Wrap-Up this season, they have certainly provided me with a lot to talk about each week.