Thursday, July 30, 2015

COMMENTARY: Kauffman's Decision Bodes Badly For MWR

Kauffman (R) is changing teams
Michael Waltrip Racing majority owner Rob Kauffman will leave that team in the near future, assuming a new, minority ownership role at Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates

No matter how you slice it, that is bad news for MWR, its fans and employees.

No-one on earth – including the team’s namesake – knows more about the inner workings and financial viability of MWR than Kauffman. Michael’s name may be over the door, but since coming aboard as majority owner in October of 2007, Kauffman has effectively run the show. Sources close to the team say the former investment banker has made virtually every critical decision in the past eight years, providing the financing necessary to build new cars, invest in technology and keep the team on-track.

“Without Rob Kauffman,” said one team member on the condition of anonymity, “Michael Waltrip Racing would have been out of business long ago.”

Even with Kauffman’s assistance, it has sometimes been a rocky road.

MWR lost Truex and NAPA
In October of 2013, the team seemed poised to make a multi-car championship run. Heading into the regular-season finale at Richmond International Raceway, Clint Bowyer ranked second in the championship standings, with teammate Martin Truex, Jr. in solid contention for a Chase berth in 13th place. Late in the race, however, Bowyer spun his car under questionable circumstances to bring out a caution flag that benefitted Truex greatly. General Manager Ty Norris then ordered teammate Brian Vickers to pit road just moments before the race’s final restart, allowing Truex to secure the final on-track position necessary to secure a spot in the Chase.

NASCAR immediately investigated, pulling back the curtains on what quickly became a major, on-track controversy. The sanctioning body ultimately fined MWR $300,000 – the largest fine in the history of the sport -- removed Truex from the championship format, placed all three MWR crew chiefs on probation for the remainder of the season and suspended Norris indefinitely.

Even after those crippling blows, the hits just kept on coming.

NAPA Auto Parts left the team, reducing MWR’s roster from three full-time entries to two. Truex was forced to leave due to lack of sponsorship, followed in short order by No. 55 team crew chief Rodney Childers, who went on to superstardom (and a Sprint Cup Series championship) with Kevin Harvick at Stewart Haas Racing.

Vickers then fell by the wayside, as repeated bouts with blood clots forced him to the sidelines on three different occasions.

By virtually any meaningful yardstick, MWR today just a shadow of what it was in October of 2013. Bowyer is currently 15th in points and clinging to the final spot in the 2015 Chase and David Ragan (driving in place of Vickers) ranked 24th.

Longtime sponsor Aaron’s is in the final year of its contract with the team, and should they elect to go elsewhere in 2016 – not hard to imagine based on the instability of its No. 55 entry in recent years -- MWR would almost certainly find itself reduced to a single-car operation.

Rob Kauffman knows all this and more, and his decision to jump ship comprises a stunning `no confidence’ vote for the team he has run for the better part of a decade.

The team issued a somewhat vague written statement earlier today, saying that MWR and Ganassi “will continue to operate separately and compete against each other for the remainder of the 2015 season. They are also currently evaluating ways to field the most competitive race teams possible to provide an excellent platform for their partners and employees for the 2016 season and beyond. More details will follow in due course.”

For those not fluent in corporate fluff, that translates to “we’re racing now, and hope to continue.”

CGR co-owner Felix Sabates offered a slightly clearer view, telling Sirius XM NASCAR Radio's Jim Noble, "I'm not going anywhere.  This is about making our team stronger. A three-car team is stronger than a two-car. But the rumors that Rob is buying me out are not true. My last race will be five years from September 9th. I will be 75 years old then, and will be done."

The third car in the CGR stable next season will almost certainly be Bowyer’s No. 15, transported from Waltrip’s shop in Cornelius, NC to Ganassi’s Concord, NC digs.

Aside from fuzzily worded statements designed to keep the media wolves from the door (at least temporarily), none of the other involved parties are saying much right now, on or off the record. That’s understandable, since multi-million dollar deals of this sort require plenty of I’s to be dotted and T’s to be crossed. When the legal maneuvering is eventually completed, all parties will be free to step in front of the cameras and microphones and explain what’s happening, and why.

We can only hope that when it’s Michael Waltrip’s turn to speak, he is able to deliver some good news.

Photo: Jared Tilton/NASCAR

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Truex Poised For Shot At Pocono Double

Martin Truex Jr. is in position to help Pocono Raceway establish a Super 8 Sweeper’s Club.

No, there is no new hotel being built on the grounds of the Long Pond, Pa. track. Truex has an opportunity Sunday to become only the eighth driver in history to sweep the two Sprint Cup season races at the 2.5-mile triangular venue in the same season.

Truex went to Victory Lane at Pocono in early June, driving the No. 78 Furniture Row/Denver Mattress Chevrolet. A win in Sunday’s Windows 10 400 will place him in the company of some of the sport’s greatest drivers.

The seven drivers who have achieved the Pocono sweep are Bobby Allison (1982), Bill Elliott (1985), Tim Richmond (1986), Bobby Labonte (1999), Jimmie Johnson (2004), Denny Hamlin (2006) and Dale Earnhardt Jr. (2014).

“That’s a stout group of drivers and it would be pretty special to be included with them,” said Truex. “After winning there last month, how can you not feel good and upbeat about returning to Pocono?  We're going to have a big target on our back, but that's ok. We'll use everything we learned last time and more to hopefully achieve a Pocono sweep.”

Truex was dominant in his June the Pocono victory, leading a race high 97 laps and securing a 1.346-second margin of victory. He is well aware, however, that an even better effort will be required for a duplicate performance.

“Our Furniture Row guys have been working hard to find more speed for this weekend,” explained Truex, a native of Mayetta, N.J. “All the teams are also working harder as we get closer to the Chase. The toughest thing about Pocono is to find the right balance for all three corners. The three unique corners at Pocono are all different and the challenge is to figure out a way to make your car work in each of them. Conditions for this Pocono race will most likely be different, especially with the weather being hotter than in early June."
Truex, who is coming off a fourth-place Brickyard 400 finish, has claimed one win, six Top-5 and 15 Top-10 finishes in 20 starts this season. He currently ranks fifth in driver points.

His overall record at Pocono includes 19 starts, one win, three Top-5 and seven Top-10 showings. 

Lally To Road America With Anderson's Maple Syrup


One year after making an impressive return to NASCAR’s XFINITY Series, four-time Rolex 24 at Daytona winner Andy Lally will return to the Road America circuit in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin, driving the No. 90 Anderson’s Maple Syrup Chevrolet for King Autosport/SSGreenlight Racing in the Road America 180 Fired Up by Johnsonville on Saturday, August 29.

“I can’t wait to get back behind the wheel of a NASCAR XFINITY machine,” said Lally. “We showed a lot of speed during last year’s event, and this year we’re coming back with a really strong effort. It’s been unbelievable how supportive Steve Anderson and everyone at Anderson’s Maple Syrup have been since we first came in contact, and we’re doing everything we can to deliver a strong result for them, on and off the track. Additional thanks to Ray Atchinson and everyone at Quicksilver Powersports Lubricants, they’ve been a great new partner as well, and when combined with Bobby Dotter and his crew, this should be a phenomenal opportunity. Bobby and his team are the definition of an underdog team that gets results with a lot of effort and experience. They do so much with so little, and we’re all hoping our trip to Road America, one of my favorite tracks, will be an opportunity for their hard work to pay off.”

Competing last year in the same car, the 2011 Sprint Cup Rookie of the Year teamed with crew chief Jason Miller to run as high as third in the closing laps, only to have a broken track bar bolt to relegate them to seventh place in the final rundown. The team is hoping that past experience and additional sponsorship will move them further up the finishing order this season.

Located in Cumberland, Wisconsin, just a few hours from the circuit, Anderson’s Maple Syrup has been a family-run business for over 80 years. A small, tight-knit organization very similar to King Autosport/SSGreenlight Racing, the company will take part in the “Anderson’s Maple Syrup Fan Appreciation Ride;” an interactive campaign for Lally’s fans and the motorsport community at large.

Lally and his team will give away 90 prizes between now and his Road America return. Hosting a weekly contest that begins today on the Anderson’s Maple Syrup Facebook page, the Georgia resident will give away autographed prizes, free Anderson’s Maple Syrup and the driving gloves used by Lally during the event. Additionally, Lally and Anderson’s will give away an opportunity for all 90 winners to ride along with him, placing every winner’s name on the TV panel of his Chevy Camaro for the race.

The team will receive support from another Wisconsin-based organization, Quicksilver Powersports Lubricants. The company’s line of oils, lubricants and fuel care products for powersports applications, including motorcycles, ATVs, PWCs, snowmobiles, and boating applications, are engineered to meet and exceed OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) testing standards.  These products provide extreme performance and protection in demanding duty cycles in harsh environments.  

Monday, July 27, 2015

Tanya Tucker To Perform National Anthem At Darlington

Country music icon Tanya Tucker will perform the National Anthem for the Bojangles’ Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway on Sept. 6.
“We are excited to have Tanya Tucker perform our National Anthem for the Bojangles’ Southern 500,” track President Chip Wile said. “Tanya has been a mainstay in Nashville since the early 1970’s. Her rendition of the Star-Spangled Banner will be a can’t-miss for our great race fans.”
For four decades, Tucker’s sultry voice and vivacious stage presence have made her one of the most admired and respected female vocalists in country music. Her resume contains groundbreaking songs like Delta Dawn, What’s Your Mama’s Name and Would You Lay With Me (In A Field Of Stone). Her early hits also contained some kick-up-your-heels moments, like Texas (When I Die), San Antonio Stroll, and Here’s Some Love.
With a new album forthcoming, Tucker is set to remind listeners why artists like Miranda Lambert and Gretchen Wilson have called her one of their biggest influences.
Tucker’s anthem performance adds yet another element to an already exciting 1970’s-style pre-race. She will join legendary rock band Grand Funk Railroad, which will perform a pre-race concert prior to the 66th running of the Bojangles’ Southern 500.
Fans have an opportunity to watch the Grand Funk Railroad concert from the front of the pre-race stage. In addition to the purchase of a Bojangles’ Southern 500 grandstand ticket, a pre-race access pass may be purchased for an additional $45. This pass will not only give fans stage front access for the concert, but will also include an up close view of the Sprint Cup Series drivers as they are introduced to the crowd.
Tickets are on sale now by calling 866-459-7223 or visiting www.DarlingtonRaceway.com

Daytona Sign Demolished

The iconic Daytona International Speedway sign on International Speedway Boulevard was demolished last week as part of the DAYTONA Rising project, the $400 million frontstretch redevelopment scheduled for completion in January 2016.

Demolition of the sign -- which was unveiled in January of 1994 and stood 57 feet tall and 48 feet wide -- took only a few hours,

DAYTONA Rising is scheduled for completion in January 2016 in time for the 54th anniversary of the Rolex 24 At Daytona and the 58th annual DAYTONA 500. Five expanded and redesigned entrances, or “injectors,” will lead fans to a series of escalators and elevators, transporting them to three different concourse levels. Each level features spacious social areas, or “neighborhoods,” along the nearly mile-long frontstretch.

At the conclusion of the redevelopment, Daytona International Speedway will have approximately 101,500 permanent, wider and more comfortable seats, twice as many restrooms and three times as many concession stands. In addition, the Speedway will feature over 60 luxury suites with track side views and a completely revamped hospitality experience for corporate guests. The project is expected to create 6,300 jobs, $300 million in labor income and over $80 million in tax revenue, will be completed in time for the 2016 Rolex 24 At Daytona and DAYTONA 500. 

Busch, Dillon, Harvick, Keselowski Set For Pocono Truck Race

Saturday’s Pocono Mountains 150 at Pocono Raceway will feature the stars of the NASCAR Camping World Series, along with NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers Kyle Busch, Austin Dillon, Kevin Harvick and Brad Keselowski.

Busch, who finished second in his previous Truck Series effort at Pocono in 2011, will make his first series start of 2015 Saturday. Dillon, the 2011 Camping World Truck Series champion, returns to “The Tricky Triangle” as the defending Pocono Mountains 150 winner. Harvick, driving the No. 00 JR Motorsports Chevrolet, has two victories at Pocono in Truck competition; as an owner in 2010 and as a driver/owner in 2011. Keselowski, driving his Brad Keselowski Racing Ford, won the 2013 Pocono Truck race as an owner with driver Ryan Blaney in 2013.

Seven different drivers have already punched their tickets to Truck Series Victory Lane this season. Defending series champion – and current point leader -- Matt Crafton has four wins and holds a 14-point advantage over Tyler Reddick in the battle for the series championship.

In addition to the Pocono Mountains 150, on-track events at Pocono Saturday will include Sprint Cup Series final practice, Truck qualifying and the ModSpace 125 ARCA Racing Series event.

On Friday, several NCWTS drivers will participate in an autograph session inside Pocono Raceway’s Fan Fair area at 12:30 p.m. ET. Wristband distribution for the first 150 fans in attendance, will begin at 8 a.m. ET, at the Flag Pole located next to Fan Fair.

For tickets and additional information about the Windows 10 400 race weekend, visit www.poconoraceway.com or call 1-800-RACEWAY (1-800-722-3929).


Indy's High-Drag Rules Package Was... A Drag

“Terrible.”

“Really Bad.”

“Hard to handle.”

 “Horrible.”

The verdict from the driver’s seat was impossible to ignore following the Crown Royal presents the Jeff Kyle 400 at the Brickyard at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. In the opinion of virtually anyone clad in nomex, NASCAR’s new high-drag rules package was… well, a drag.

Winner Kyle Busch, who might have been expected to give the new rules at least a half-hearted endorsement, had little good to say. While happy with his ability to draft on the 2.5-mile IMS layout, Busch said the package failed to produce the “pack racing” found at Daytona and Talladega.

“When you got back in traffic… you were horrible,” he said. “It was so hard to handle in traffic. You don’t want to feel like you’re going off into the corner and going to crash every time. You want to have some sort of security. I think there’s something to be learned from today, (but) I’m not sure it’s the right combination.”

Former series champion Matt Kenseth called it “terrible… the worst thing I ever drove on a big track.”

Ninth-place finisher Kyle Larson called it “really bad,’’ with veteran Greg Biffle adding that the low-drag package utilized two weeks ago at Kentucky Speedway was “way, way better.”

Don’t take their word for it, though. The on-track action told a similar tale. While drivers appeared able to run down the leader with more ease than in past seasons, actually passing that leader remained problematic. Kyle Busch’s decisive pass of leader Kevin Harvick with 11 laps remaining came on a restart, and once the field sorted out to single-file, Busch was able to maintain a comfortable margin to the finish.

Granted, Indy has never produced an abundance of lead changes and three-wide racing. Its flat turns and long, fast straightaways have always been better-suited to open wheeled Indy Cars than heavier, boxier NASCAR machinery, and Sunday’s race did nothing to change that dynamic. It wasn't any worse, but it wasn't much better, either.

Sunday’s nine-inch tall rear spoilers created visibility issues, while new rear-bumper extensions prevented hot air from escaping from underneath the cars. Cockpit temperatures topped 140 degrees as drivers struggled to deal with the heat, and Landon Cassill lost more than 10-percent of his 155-pound body weight during Sunday’s race, despite paying special attention to pre-race hydration and drinking a whopping 80 ounces of additional fluids during the event.

In the words of 10th-place finisher Brad Keselowski, “I didn’t see any significant gains.”

NASCAR withheld comment Sunday, preferring to examine the official loop data before delivering a final verdict. In the aftermath of the Kentucky race -- featuring a 132-percent increase in green-flag passes over the previous season -- Indy paled in comparison.

NASCAR intends to utilize its high-drag package once again at Michigan International Speedway in three weeks. In fairness, the MIS oval is significantly different than the Brickyard, and could provide the kind of Talladega-esque pack racing that Chairman Brian France hoped to see this weekend, but did not.

Joe Gibbs Racing driver Denny Hamlin offered hope of that Sunday, saying, “This package was really intended for a track like Michigan, more than it was here at Indy.”

Drivers and fans can only hope he’s correct.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Busch Appears Ready To Contend For A Title

Kyle Busch’s comeback is now officially the stuff of legends.

He is the Boston Red Sox, overcoming an 0-3 deficit with four consecutive wins to beat the rival New York Yankees for the 2004 American League championship, just days before claiming a long-awaited World Series victory with a four-game sweep of the Cardinals.

He is Willis Reed in Game Seven of the 1970 NBA Finals, hobbling onto the court for the opening tap and gritting his teeth through a badly torn thigh muscle to lead his New York Knicks to the league championship.

He is backup quarterback Frank Reich, replacing Hall Of Famer Jim Kelly and leading the Buffalo Bills out of a 32-point second-half hole, en route to a 38-35 OT win and a spot in their third consecutive Super Bowl.

He is Michael Jordan, returning from a 17-month stint on the baseball diamond to lead the Chicago Bulls to yet another NBA title; all the while looking like he had never missed so much as a shoot-around.

By now, now fans know Busch’s story by heart. He missed the first 11 races of the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series campaign with a compound fracture of his right leg and a broken left foot suffered in a savage XFINITY Series crash at Daytona International Speedway in February. The beneficiary of solid orthopedic surgery, a dedicated rehabilitation program and an uncanny ability to heal on the fly, he returned on May 24 at Charlotte Motor Speedway with a steady – if not spectacular – 1th-place showing. A pair of crashes at Daytona and Michigan slowed his roll temporarily, but an unlikely June 28 win on the Sonoma road course triggered a five-week run of dominance that has seldom been equaled in the history of the Sprint Cup Series.

Four victories in those last five weeks – at Sonoma, Kentucky, New Hampshire and Indy – have boosted Busch from “unlikely longshot” to “championship contender.” Sunday, he became the first driver to win three consecutive Sprint Cup races since Jimmie Johnson in 2007, and if his hot streak continues much longer, he can add the work “favorite” to his resume, as well.

"I can't believe this run,” said a beaming Busch, moments after the customary post-race kissing of the IMS bricks. “I just can't believe what's going on. I’m still in shock. I’m still in shock from last week. It all goes by so fast. Every week, it’s `on to the next (race)… on to the next one.’ I said after New Hampshire that nothing would be more impressive to me than winning with all three different aero packages in as many weeks, and now we did it.”

In the aftermath of his Indianapolis triumph, Busch has now claimed as many checkered flags in just nine starts as multi-time champion Johnson has managed in 20. His four victories are at least twice as many as every other competitor, and he now trails 30th-place Justin Algaier by just 23 points in his quest for the all-important 30th spot and a place in the 2015 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.

The question is no longer “can Kyle Busch crack the Top-30 in points?”

It is now, “will he do it this week, or next?”

“It’s one of the best stories I’ve been around in sports,” said car owner Joe Gibbs, who witnessed a few Cinderella stories in his 16-year tenure as head coach of the NFL’s Washington Redskins. “The agony of the first part of the year, the tragedy he went through; how many guys come back from that? He’s going up against the best people (in the sport) and he’s performing. It’s not often you get to be a part of something like this, and I just thank him for letting us be a part of it.

“We were behind at the start of the season, and we spent half a year getting caught up engine-wise, chassis-wise and aero-wise. But now we’re there.”

Crew chief Adam Stevens agreed, saying the No. 18 Toyota team is ready to contend for the title.
"We've had some good fortune (this season), but today we flat-out earned it," said the rookie pit boss. "It's a championship run. We're transitioning from making the Chase to trying to win the championship."
"Maybe I found my happy place," admitted Busch, his bright red fire suit soaked with a glorious combination of perspiration and Victory Lane Gatorade. "This has been a phenomenal return. I guess I'll take (an) 11-week vacation any year, if it's going to look like this.”


Friday, July 24, 2015

Stanton Barrett Returns At Indy With Zombie Backing

After finishing his latest motion picture, Hollywood stuntman Stanton Barrett carries the adrenaline to Indianapolis Motor Speedway, site of Saturday afternoon’s NASCAR XFINITY Series Lilly Diabetes 250.
Barrett has teamed up with Rick Ware Racing to compete in his third XFINITY Series race of the season. Earlier this year, Barrett competed in events at Auto Club Speedway and Texas Motor Speedway.
Barrett has had to take a short sabbatical from the race track for a life on the road building his “other career” as a top Hollywood stuntman. This weekend though, he makes a grand return to NASCAR with his newest Hollywood credential completed.
“I enjoy and appreciate every opportunity I have to compete in NASCAR,” said Barrett. “I’ve been fortunate enough to be around the sport for a long time, but never race at Indianapolis. I get goose bumps just thinking about it. For me though, Indianapolis is important for many more reasons.”
Barrett will utilize the 18th race of the season to promote the upcoming movie Navy Seals vs. Zombies, which also marks his directorial debut. Coming in the fall of this year, Navy Seals vs. Zombies -- released by Anchor Bay Entertainment -- is an action/horror film starring Michael Dudikoff, Rick Fox, Ed Quinn and Lolo Jones. The film also features actual Navy Seals utilizing realistic tactics.
“We’re real proud of the film,” added Barrett who flew to Indianapolis Thursday after wrapping up post-production obligations of Navy Seals vs. Zombies. “This movie marks my directorial debut and through the hard work and endless efforts of the cast and staff, this fall we’ll have a film that we hope we’ll leave a lot of people satisfied.”
While earning a solid finish in Saturday afternoon’s Lilly Diabetes 250 is a top priority, the Bishop, California native also knows that the NASCAR market is prime source for exposure.
“I’ve been fortunate enough through my NASCAR career to have some great sponsors who have seen tremendous return-on-investment and exposure because of the loyalty from NASCAR fans and the industry as a whole from driver to teams and even race tracks. Several major motion pictures and actors have utilized NASCAR to promote an upcoming film and I’m ecstatic we’re the latest to continue that path.”
While promoting Navy Seals vs. Zombies is important, Barrett isn’t losing focus on another project, 4Caring.org.
Founded by Barrett, 4Caring.org is an organization to reach out and comfort those with personal crisis. The organization’s primary desire is to reach out those in hospital waiting rooms like children’s cancer centers, intensive care units and other related children’s area. However, the organization is not restricted to just children, but people in need for care.
4Caring.org is very important to me,” added Barrett, driver of the No. 15 Navy Seals vs. Zombies/4Caring.org Ford Mustang. “It’s an organization that helps those dealing with crisis situations on a variety of different levels. I’m here to do a job this weekend to do a good job behind the wheel – but spreading the word that there are options for those who need it the most.”
In addition to 4Caring.org, Rick Ware Racing and Barrett welcome ZIPPO as an associate sponsor for Barrett’s 196th career NXS start. 

RTA Engaged For Voter Registration Effort

Co-chairmen and former U.S. Congressmen Heath Shuler (D-NC) and Connie Mack (R-Fla) have announced today that Rev the Vote, a nonpartisan Washington D.C.-based organization, has engaged the Race Team Alliance (RTA) to help promote increased voter registration among racing fans.

Formed in 2014, the Race Team Alliance represents 17 top racing organizations that compete in NASCAR’s Sprint Cup Series. Rev the Vote will leverage the assets and national reach of the RTA membership to amplify the importance of voter registration and participation in local and national elections.    

“This is a first,” said Shuler, a former college football star at the University of Tennessee and NFL quarterback. “While other initiatives have targeted motorsports racing fans in the past, this agreement creates a unique partnership, where the racing industry’s owners and teams will be assisting in delivering the message to its incredibly loyal fans about the importance of civil engagement.”

“This is a significant announcement for the RTA and its members,” said RTA Chairman Rob Kauffman. “The RTA was formed to have a collective voice and it is an honor that Rev the Vote selected the power of that voice to deliver an important message to American racing fans everywhere about registering to vote. We know racing fans like to be heard and we will promote taking that passion to the voting booth.”

This agreement allows Rev the Vote to utilize the broad reach of the RTA Member teams. The teams will provide social and digital outreach, as well as, at-track experiences, like hauler tours, pit box seating, meet and greets, hospitality and activation.

“Today marks a key milepost in our drive to bring the millions of unregistered racing fans into the electoral process,” said Mack, the great grandson of MLB Hall of Famer Connie Mack. “We are determined to play the lead role in making sure race fans, who represent a huge cross section of Americans, are heard as loudly on Election Day as they are on race day. With this important partnership, our mission becomes all the more attainable.”

Shuler, Mack and Kauffman made the announcement at a news conference Friday at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway as NASCAR Sprint Cup teams prepared for Sunday’s Brickyard 400.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

"Ronnie The Limo Driver" To Drive Eldora Pace Truck

Ronnie Mund, also known as “Ronnie the Limo Driver” from “The Howard Stern Show” on SiriusXM, has been selected to drive the Chevrolet Silverado pace truck for the 1-800-Car-Cash Mud Summer Classic NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race Wednesday night at Eldora Speedway.

“I was blown away when I got the invite,” Mund said. “I’m so excited and especially honored that it is at Tony’s (Stewart) track. I can’t wait to experience the legendary Eldora and an event that is becoming a must-see event for NASCAR fans.”

Mund has worked with Stern since 1985. He will work with Stern on Wednesday morning and then fly to Ohio for the race.

“This is a dream come true for Ronnie,” said Roger Slack, general manager of Eldora. “He is a huge NASCAR fan, a big fan of what we do here at Eldora and we’re pumped to have him drive the Chevrolet Silverado pace truck outfitted with SiriusXM in the 1-800-Car-Cash Mud Summer Classic.”

The 150-lap Truck Series race is contested in 60-50-40 lap segments. As is dirt-track tradition, the starting field is set by five qualifying heat races.

For the third straight year, the American Legion Post 648 Honor Guard from St. Henry, Ohio , will present the colors of the United States and the St. Henry (Ohio) High School marching band will perform the National Anthem.

Tickets can be purchased at www.eldoraspeedway.com or by phone at (937) 338-3815.

Pocono Adds Windows 10 Race Sponsorship

Pocono Raceway and Microsoft have announced the renaming of the track’s August NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race as the Windows 10 400. The Windows 10 400 race weekend will take place from July 31st to August 2nd, just two days after the launch of Windows 10. For the first time ever, Microsoft’s operating system will be offered as a free upgrade to customers with qualified Windows 7 and Windows 8 devices.

“Today is an exciting day for us,” said Brandon Igdalsky, Pocono Raceway President/CEO. “Microsoft has been on the cutting edge of technology and innovation since its founding in 1975. The launch of their Windows 10 platform is something Pocono Raceway is extremely proud to promote during our final NASCAR race weekend of 2015. We look forward to celebrating with everyone from Microsoft, NASCAR and, most importantly, the race fans on Sunday, August 2nd.”

Microsoft, an Official Technology Partner of NASCAR, will have device displays and interactive experiences in the Fan Fair and Paddock areas at Pocono Raceway during the Windows 10 400 race weekend. Race fans and members of the NASCAR industry will be able to relax and enjoy Windows 10 devices at these locations. Additionally, everyone is invited to interact on their social media channels using the official race hashtag, #Windows10_400.

Additionally, Hendrick Motorsports driver Dale Earnhardt Jr., the defending winner of the August Sprint Cup Series race at Pocono, will drive the No. 88 Microsoft Chevrolet during the Windows 10 400 race weekend.

Microsoft will also be promoting the Windows 10 free upgrade by “upgrading” some lucky fans’ race experience. Fans are encouraged to visit the Windows 10 experience in the Fan Fair for unique giveaways, and to enter to win an upgraded race day in-field party experience for several fans. Four of those fans are scheduled to get a special VIP experience with Dale Earnhardt Jr. and an opportunity to watch part of the race from the No.88 team’s pit box.

“We’re thrilled to build on our relationships with NASCAR and Hendrick Motorsports by engaging race fans in unique ways,” said Jeremy Korst, GM of Windows Product Marketing at Microsoft. “We’re upgrading their experiences not only at the Pocono Windows 10 400 race, but also off the track with Windows 10. It’s the best Windows ever. In fact, we built it in collaboration with our fans – over 5.5 million Windows Insiders. And we’re excited to offer a free upgrade, so that people all over the world can use Windows 10 to do great things.”

Tickets for the Windows 10 400 on Sunday, August 2nd start at $45 for adults. For kids, ages 12 and under, Sunday Grandstand tickets start at $22.50. Again, fans are encouraged to visit the Windows display in Pocono Raceway’s Fan Fair area and to use #Windows10_400 when interacting on social media. For more information, and to purchase tickets, visit www.poconoraceway.com or call 1-800-RACEWAY (1-800-722-3929). 

Monday, July 20, 2015

NASCAR Will Address Thrown Water Bottles

NASCAR executive vice president and chief racing development officer Steve O’Donnell said today that the sanctioning body will address drivers tossing water bottles out of their cars during races, a practice that appeared to play a role in a pair of caution periods during Sunday’s race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

O’Donnell told SiriusXM NASCAR Radio’s The Morning Drive that while drivers routinely discard empty water bottles while exiting pit road under caution, NASCAR sometimes struggles to determine the nature of debris on the track apron.

“Coming off pit road, sometimes you see (debris) down on the apron where water bottles are discarded,’’ he said. “In this case, we candidly weren’t really sure (what it was). We knew it was potentially one of the (bottles) that are a little bit different with the material they’re made out of.”

Many drivers use Gatorade-branded plastic bottles, which constitute little or no threat when run-over by race cars. Not all bottles, however, are made of the same plastic, creating issues for NASCAR in their attempts to determine whether or not to call a debris caution.

O’Donnell said officials were not able to determine who threw the offending bottles, but promised to address the situation with drivers this weekend at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.


“If someone is purposely trying to manipulate a caution, that’s not something that is going to be tolerated,” he said. “We’ll have to look into that further as we go and we’ll address that with the teams. It’s something that we’ve addressed in the past, and we’ll continue to do that with the drivers.”

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Wallace, Boat Set For Series Debuts

Matt Wallace
A pair of second-generation drivers are set for career landmarks this weekend, with Matt Wallace and Chad Boat making their respective debuts in the NASCAR XFINITY and Camping World Truck Series.

Wallace, son of NASCAR veteran racer Mike Wallace, will make his NASCAR XFINITY Series debut this weekend at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.  The 19-year old racer will drivethe No. 26 Toyota for JGL Racing in the Lakes Region 200.
"This is an absolute thrill and honor," said Wallace.  "I am getting to do what a lot of teenagers in the world today would love to do.  This program came together very quickly and I appreciate the opportunity that everyone at JGL Racing has given me." 
Wallace is currently racing Late Models for his family owned team. He made his ARCA Series debut in May with a 10th-place finish at Toledo Speedway.  After his NASCAR XFINITY Series debut this weekend, Wallace will compete in the ARCA Racing Series at Lucas Oil Raceway in Indianapolis next weekend, before returning to the No. 26 Toyota for JGL Racing the following weekend at Iowa Speedway.
"It is a pleasure to welcome Matt Wallace to the JGL Racing team," added James Whitener, owner of JGL Racing.  "His father Mike has raced for us and it is neat to now put his son into one of our cars.  Our JGL Racing organization has some exciting things happening and it has been fun bringing along young talented racers such as Matt." 
Chad Boat
Boat, meanwhile, will make his NASCAR Camping World Truck Series debut in the Billy Boat Motorsports No. 15 CorvetteParts.net Chevrolet Silverado on Wednesday night at Eldora Speedway. 

After starting his open-wheel racing career at the young age of five, Boat will add a NCWTS race to his 17-career NASCAR XFINITY Series starts.  The 23-year-old’s resume includes over 100-career wins on dirt, including USAC Rookie of the Year titles in both the midget and Sprint Car divisions.  He  also holds the record as the youngest driver in USAC history to win a dirt track Sprint Car race.  
 
“I’m thankful for the incredible opportunity CorevtteParts.net and BBM has given me to be able to get back behind the wheel on dirt next week,” said Boat. “Growing up racing midgets and sprint cars, Eldora will always be one of those tracks that have a certain type of nostalgia when racing there.  For that reason, making my first NCWTS start here is really special.  I look forward to taking my dirt track experience and the progress that BBM has been making on the track to capture a solid finish in the No. 15 CorvetteParts.net Chevrolet Silverado.”

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Driscoll Resigns From Armed Forces Foundation

Patricia Driscoll has resigned from her post as executive director of the Armed Forces Foundation.

The organization’s board of directors placed Driscoll on administrative leave last week, and accepted her resignation Tuesday. She has been accused of financial impropriety in her role at the helm of the veterans’ organization. A May 22 Outside the Lines report by ESPN Senior Writer Mike Fish revealed that FBI and IRS officials are investigating a series of questionable financial practices during Driscoll’s 12-year tenure with the AFF.

A federal whistleblower complaint filed by a former AFF employee alleges that Driscoll was loaned money by the foundation to pay personal expenses, including legal fees associated with a child-custody case, the purchase of security equipment for Driscoll’s home and vacations to Paris and Morocco. Over a 19-month period from 2012 to 2013, the foundation allegedly made 17 monthly payments totaling more than $100,000 on a credit card linked to Driscoll's business, Frontline Defense Systems. Those expenses included grocery bills, medical expenses, massage and dermatologist treatments and toy store bills. Driscoll also allegedly received substantial fundraising bonuses that were not reported by the foundation.

Her attorney issued a statement in the days following the Outside The Lines story, saying his client "unequivocally denied any allegation that she has used AFF funds to pay any of her personal expenses."

During her tenure with the AFF, Driscoll was a fundraising dynamo, increasing donations from roughly $100,000 in 2001 to more than $13 million in 2013. Her high-profile relationship with Busch ended abruptly late last year, when Driscoll accused Busch of choking her and slamming her head against the wall of his motorhome at Dover International Speedway on September 22. 

The former Sprint Cup Series champion denied those charges, saying he merely cupped Driscoll’s face in his hands while repeatedly asking her to leave. His attorney described Driscoll’s allegations as “a complete fabrication by a woman who has refused to accept the end of a relationship.”  

The Delaware Department of Justice announced in early March that no charges would be filed against Busch, citing insufficient evidence of any assault.

On February 20 of this year, Driscoll alleged in a FOX and Friends interview that she is not the only woman to be abused in NASCAR.

“I’ve had a lot of women come forward to me from the NASCAR community, to say they were also abused and that they’re being harassed by other team members,” said Driscoll. She declined to cite specific instances or name names.

Driscoll issued a written statement today, praising the AFF’s efforts without addressing the charges against her or commenting on her resignation. The foundation also issued a statement thanking Driscoll for her work, saying, "We are appreciative of Patricia's 12 years of service to our armed forces, veterans, and their families."

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Watkins Glen Begins Resurfacing Project

Work on a track resurfacing project at Watkins Glen International began today.
Following the track’s recent SCCA U.S. Majors event, the section of the long course known as "The Boot" – a section not used by NASCAR for its Sprint Cup and XFINITY Series events -- was closed. Work has begun to tear up sections of the old asphalt, in preparation for resurfacing.
Work will begin on the remainder of the historic circuit following the completion of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Cheez-It 355 on Sunday, August 9.

Stewart Chides France For Not Taking Part In Meetings

Tony Stewart offered both praise and criticism for NASCAR today, saying the sanctioning body’s openness to working with drivers and race teams is paying dividends.

In recent weeks, NASCAR officials have met with both the Race Team Alliance and the newly formed Drivers Council, soliciting input on topics from aerodynamics and cost containment to the possible franchising of the Sprint Cup Series.

"It (used to be) all right to walk in the trailer and give them an idea, and that's as far as it always went," he said. "Now we're actually having meetings, working hand‑in‑hand with NASCAR. That's something that I've never seen in this sport, which to me is really exciting as a driver and owner. I think it's great."

Stewart stopped short of complimenting NASCAR CEO Brian France, however, chiding the grandson of series founder Bill France, Sr. for not taking part in those discussions.

"I'd love to see Brian France show up at some of these council meetings and stuff," said Stewart, with more than a hint of sarcasm. "But I'm sure he's busy."

Sources close to the situation say France has intentionally stayed away from those meetings, feeling that drivers and team owners are more open, honest and communicative without the boss in the room.