Thursday, November 20, 2014

Stenhouse Team Sanctioned For Homestead Violation

Roush Fenway Racing’s No. 17 team that competes in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series has been penalized for a rules infraction discovered during pre-qualifying inspection Nov. 14 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

The infraction is a P3 level penalty which is outlined in Section 12-4.3 of the 2014 NASCAR rule book:
Violations resulting in P3 penalties tend to fall between serious and intermediate in nature. While they might include general “categories” of infractions similar to those in P4 (e.g. unauthorized parts; failing to meet specs; etc.), they tend to pertain more to secondary componentry or systems; modifications of lessor significance; go/no-go measurement failures of an intermediate nature. 
This infraction violates Sections 12-1 - Actions detrimental to stock car racing and 20-12 – Suspension: All front end and rear suspension mounts and mounting hardware must not allow movement or realignment of any suspension/drive line component beyond normal rotation or suspension/drive line travel.
As a result of these violations, crew chief Mike Kelley has been fined $50,000 and placed on NASCAR probation for six months, starting Jan. 1, 2015 through June 30, 2015. Additionally, car chief Patrick Magee has also been placed on NASCAR probation for six months starting Jan. 1, 2015 through June 30, 2015.

Cheez-It 355 At The Glen Returns In 2015

Watkins Glen International and the Kellogg Company have announced Cheez-It has renewed as the title sponsor of The Glen’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race. WGI’s marquee event, Cheez-It 355 at The Glen returns August 6-9.

“We’re excited to welcome back the Kellogg Company with Cheez-It® as our title sponsor for the NASCAR event week,” stated Watkins Glen International President Michael Printup. “They have been a great partner and we look forward to continuing the tradition for our fans in 2015.”

This will be the company’s third-consecutive year as the race’s entitlement sponsor, while the iconic snack brand’s parent company, the Kellogg Company, has been involved with NASCAR since 1991.


“NASCAR provides a great way for Cheez-It crackers to reach our fans and Watkins Glen provides an amazing venue that is unlike any other,” said Melissa Pawlowicz, senior director of integrated promotions for the Kellogg Company. “Cheez-It is proud to be associated with ‘The Glen’ and to play a role in bringing the excitement of the Cheez-It 355 to life.”

LiftMaster To Back Kahne In Three 2015 Cup Races

LiftMaster garage door openers will join 11-time Sprint Cup Series champion Hendrick Motorsports beginning with the 2015 NASCAR season, when it will become a primary sponsor of driver Kasey Kahne and his No. 5 Chevrolet SS team.

The new relationship will feature LiftMaster, which is headquartered in Elmhurst, Illinois, as a primary sponsor in three Sprint Cup races annually and as an associate-level partner in all other events. The agreement covers the 2015, 2016 and 2017 NASCAR seasons.

“We’re excited to establish a new partnership with Kasey Kahne and Hendrick Motorsports in 2015,” said Bob Markwart, president of LiftMaster Americas. “Kasey is a threat to win every weekend, and we’re looking forward to joining the No. 5 team’s pursuit of a championship next year.”

In 2015, the No. 5 LiftMaster Chevrolet SS will appear in Sprint Cup Series races May 24 at Charlotte Motor Speedway, July 11 at Kentucky Speedway and Oct. 18 at Kansas Speedway.

“Whether you’re talking products, services or the way customers are treated, LiftMaster has a reputation as the industry leader,” said Rick Hendrick, owner of Hendrick Motorsports and chairman of Hendrick Automotive Group. “Having used LiftMaster both at Hendrick Motorsports and in our dealerships, we know first-hand the emphasis they put on quality and innovation. We look forward to working together to build a NASCAR program that reflects their brand and drives business.”

Since joining Hendrick Motorsports in 2012, Kahne, 34, has earned at least one victory each season while securing three consecutive Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup berths. The Enumclaw, Washington, native has 17 career wins in NASCAR’s top division, including five in three full seasons with the No. 5 team.

“It means a lot to have support from a great company like LiftMaster,” Kahne said. “The No. 5 team has high expectations for 2015, and they’ll be with us as the primary sponsor at three tracks where we’re traditionally very fast. All of us are looking forward to representing them throughout the season and developing a successful long-term relationship.”

Kahne Signs HMS Contract Extension

Hendrick Motorsports and Kasey Kahne have agreed to a three-year contract extension that will keep the driver with the No. 5 Chevrolet SS team through the end of the 2018 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season.

“It’s extremely gratifying to work with a driver like Kasey,” said Rick Hendrick, owner of Hendrick Motorsports. “I think the world of him both as a driver with championship-level talent and an overall terrific young man. Our whole organization has a great deal of respect for how hard he works, the professionalism he displays with our partners and the way he carries himself every day. We’re committed to winning races and competing for titles with him for many years to come.”

Kahne, 34, originally signed with Hendrick Motorsports in April 2010 and officially joined the team’s four-car stable for the 2012 season. Over the past three years (2012-14), he ranks among the top-10 drivers in Sprint Cup wins (5), pole positions (4), top-five finishes (26) and laps led (1,177). The Enumclaw, Washington, native has 17 career wins in NASCAR’s top division.

“I’ve found a home at Hendrick Motorsports,” said Kahne, who since 2012 has earned at least one victory each season while securing three consecutive Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup berths. “We have incredible people and partners supporting us, and I couldn’t be more excited about the direction we’re headed as a team and a company. It’s the right place for me, and I’m looking forward to being here for a long time.”

Kahne’s contract with Hendrick Motorsports was set to expire following the 2015 NASCAR season.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Tyler Walker's Plea Hearing Postponed For 13th Time

Tyler Walker’s endless romp through the American legal system continued today, as the former NASCAR and open wheel Sprint Car driver’s adjudication hearing was postponed for the 13th time.

On January 30 of last year, the 34-year old Walker was arrested near St. George, Utah, after leading authorities on a high-speed chase through in Utah, Nevada and Arizona at speeds topping 140 mph, followed by a brief foot pursuit. His black 2007 BMW stopped only after police laid down spike strips to flatten its tires. When police searched the vehicle, they discovered methamphetamine, marijuana, drug paraphernalia and an open bottle of vodka.

Walker and passenger Raelle McDonald were arrested on multiple charges including evading, possession of amphetamines, marijuana and narcotic equipment, driving under the influence of drugs, open container/drinking in a public place and a liquor license violation. His bail was set at more than $18,000.

Since then, the case has been the subject of repeated delays. Today, Walker’s attorney claimed that paperwork outlining a planned “consent to plea” agreement has yet to be received, prompting Fifth District Judge Eric Ludlow to delay the case yet again. Ludlow denied a defense request that Walker be allowed to sign a copy of the agreement and submit it by mail, saying, “He has until (Dec.) 2nd, then he has to appear in person and we’ll go from there.”

Walker was suspended by NASCAR in 2007 for violating the sanctioning body’s substance abuse policy and has never reapplied for reinstatement. He ran 28 races in NASCAR’s Nationwide and Camping World Truck Series between 2003 and 2007, with a best finish of eighth in a NCWTS event at Martinsville Speedway in 2007.


Photo: Chris Caldwell, St. George News

Stump Named Technical Director At Stewart Haas

Stewart-Haas Racing has hired Rex Stump to serve as its technical director, effective immediately.

Stump comes to Stewart-Haas Racing after an 18-year career at Hendrick Motorsports, where he founded the organization’s research and development program and has been instrumental in chassis design and technology.

“Rex brings a tremendous amount of knowledge and innovation to Stewart-Haas Racing,” said Greg Zipadelli, vice president of competition for Stewart-Haas Racing. “You can never sit still in this business, and Rex’s record of success will help us stay ahead of the curve.”

“Hendrick Motorsports provided me a lot of opportunities to succeed and I wouldn’t be in this position if it weren’t for Rick Hendrick, Ray Evernham and all the talented people I’ve worked with the last 18 years,” Stump said. “I’m proud of my time there, but I’m looking forward to my new role at Stewart-Haas. This is a team that’s accomplished a lot in a very short period of time. There’s a championship to defend and races to win. I’m ready to go.”

Stump graduated from Kettering University (formerly the General Motors Institute) in 1989 with bachelor’s degrees in mechanical and automotive engineering. Upon graduation, Stump worked at General Motors and participated in the Sloan Fellowship program, pursuing a master’s degree in structural analysis from Wayne State University in Detroit. While at General Motors, he began working with the Corvette team in developing the active-suspension of the C5, which was slated to debut in the early 1990s.

When the active-suspension program was canceled and the C5 was delayed, Stump delved into motorsports, becoming a race engineer for Team Penske in 1991. Working with a group of engineers dedicated to improving the performance of the No. 2 team of driver Rusty Wallace, Stump helped advance Wallace from a two-win season in 1991 to a massive, 10-win season in 1993.

By the end of 1993, Corvette had reactivated the C5. Stump returned to General Motors to assist with the project and stayed until the end of 1995, joining Hendrick Motorsports in 1996.

One of Stump’s most memorable achievements at Hendrick Motorsports was the design of Jeff Gordon’s race-winning car for the 1997 NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race. Dubbed “T-Rex” for its Jurassic Park paint scheme that featured a Tyrannosaurus Rex, the car dominated, crossing the stripe with a 1.02-second margin of victory. While the car conformed to NASCAR’s rulebook, the design was so advanced that NASCAR requested the team never bring it to the racetrack again. The sanctioning body amended its rulebook shortly thereafter. Stump continued to build race-winning cars nonetheless, as Gordon captured Sprint Cup championships in 1997, 1998 and 2001.

Francis To New Post At HMS, Rodden Confirmed As Kahne's Crew Chief

Kenny Francis
In preparation for the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season and revised rules that affect race car development and on-track testing, Hendrick Motorsports has named Kenny Francis to the new position of vehicle technical director and Keith Rodden as crew chief of the No. 5 Chevrolet SS team of driver Kasey Kahne. The roles take effect immediately.

Francis, 44, will oversee organization-wide car design and development with day-to-day management of Hendrick Motorsports’ chassis, body, research and development, on-track testing, vehicle engineering and simulation programs. Reporting to general manager Doug Duchardt, he will serve as the primary liaison between Hendrick Motorsports’ crew chiefs and its vehicle group.

Rodden will return to Hendrick Motorsports where he worked alongside Francis in 2012 and 2013 while the lead engineer for Kahne and the No. 5 team. For 2014, he was named crew chief for the No. 1 team at Chip Ganassi Racing where he won the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race, earned two pole positions and helped driver Jamie McMurray set a career-best season in laps led.

“This is a great opportunity for both guys, and it will strengthen our overall organization,” said Rick Hendrick, owner of Hendrick Motorsports. “With the new rules for next year, it’s more important than ever to have a strong vehicle development program. Unifying those efforts for the first time under Kenny’s guidance will be critical to our success. It plays to his experience as a leader, innovative engineer and race-winning crew chief. He’s just tailor-made for it.

“Keith is one of the most talented young crew chiefs in the garage. He already knows our culture and works extremely well with our people. The relationships and familiarity he has with Kenny, Kasey and the No. 5 team will make it easy to hit the ground running. We talk a lot about ‘fit factor,’ and this definitely falls into that category. He’s the right fit.”

A native of Jacksonville, Florida, Francis holds a mechanical engineering degree from the University of Florida. Known as one of the most innovative minds in the NASCAR garage, he worked as a team director, engineer and fabricator before posting 17 wins as a Sprint Cup crew chief. Francis has led Kahne’s efforts since the final race of 2005, earning 16 race wins and five Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup berths. The pair joined Hendrick Motorsports in 2012.

“When it was clear there was a need for this role, I was very intrigued and felt it would be a great challenge,” Francis said. “It encompasses areas I’m passionate about, and I know we can make a difference for our teams, especially with the new rules for next year. There are a lot of reasons why it feels right at this point in my career, and I’m looking forward to contributing in a new way.”

Rodden, 33, has enjoyed a long relationship with Kahne, having worked with the driver as a team engineer from 2004 until 2013. After graduating from North Carolina State University with a degree in mechanical engineering, his motor sports career began in 2003 with owner Andy Petree. Rodden in 2004 joined Evernham Motorsports to support Kahne’s NASCAR XFINITY Series effort before moving in 2006 to the No. 9 Sprint Cup team, which began an eight-year stint under the tutelage of Francis.

“Opportunities like this don’t come around often,” said Rodden, who grew up in Denver, North Carolina. “The people at Hendrick Motorsports are like my family, especially in the 5/24 shop. I expect we’ll have great chemistry right off the bat, which should make for a smooth transition. I’m looking forward to hitting the ground running with the No. 5 team and everyone who supports us. There’s no better resource than Kenny, so I hope he’s ready for some late-night phone calls.”

Since joining Hendrick Motorsports in 2012, Kahne, 34, has earned at least one victory each season while securing three consecutive Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup berths. The Enumclaw, Washington, native has 17 career wins in NASCAR’s top division, including five in three full seasons with the No. 5 team.

“I’m so grateful to Kenny and happy for him and his family,” Kahne said. “He’s one of my biggest supporters and best friends, and I’m excited about his new role. It’s going to give all four Hendrick Motorsports teams the best possible opportunity to win races and compete for championships.

“Bringing Keith back is big for us. We spent 10 years together, so we have a very strong overall relationship and understanding of how to communicate. There’s a great friendship and a lot of mutual respect, but at the same time I know he’s really going to push me. I trust Mr. Hendrick to put the right people in the right places to make us successful, and I know these decisions will do that.”

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

BREAKING NEWS: Matt McCall Replaces Keith Rodden At Ganassi Racing

Rodden to Hendrick?
While there has been no official announcement of Keith Rodden’s anticipated jump to Hendrick Motorsports next season, Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates gave a strong indication that a move is afoot today.
CGRFS announced this afternoon that Matt McCall will serve as crew chief for Jamie McMurray and the No. 1 team in 2015. McCall will assume the role effective immediately to prepare for the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season.
McCall joins CGRFS from Richard Childress Racing where he most recently has been the race engineer for the No. 31 Chevrolet that made it to the Championship round of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, ultimately finishing the season second in the championship point standings.   
He is also a former driver who has competed in the NASCAR Nationwide Series, NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and ARCA Racing Series. In fact, racing has been in his blood from an early age as he began racing go-karts at age nine and eventually joined the World Karting Association Dirt Series where he would ultimately win the honor of Grand National Champion. He would also go on to race in Super Sport events as well. 
The Denver, NC native graduated from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte with a major in mechanical engineering. The 33-year-old McCall is also passionate about fitness and holds a third-degree black belt in karate. 

McMurray will begin his 13th full-time season in the NSCS in 2015. The 2010 Daytona 500 and Brickyard 400 Winner added another big win to his resume this year with a victory in the 2014 Sprint All-Star race. In nearly 450 career NSCS starts he has accumulated seven wins, 11 poles, 121 Top-10 and 52 Top-5 finishes.
Rodden is expected to replace Kenny Francis at the helm of Kasey Kahne's No. 5 Farmer's Insurance Chevrolet next season.

Evernham's "AmeriCarna LIVE" Set For Nov. 29

Ray Evernham’s  “AmericCarna LIVE” Car Show has announced an initial lineup of celebrity cars and stars expected to join hundreds of classic, custom, and collector cars on the Ingersoll Rand corporate campus in Davidson, N.C. on Saturday, Nov. 29.

Ray Evernham, a former NASCAR championship crew chief, host of “AmeriCarna” on Velocity and founder of IGNITE, hosts the AmeriCarna LIVE Car Show presented by Ingersoll Rand and MSC Industrial Supply Co., along with auto enthusiasts from around the East and some of his NASCAR friends.

This year’s event initial lineup will feature a number of celebrity cars, including Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s 1988 Chevrolet S-10, Joey Logano’s 1939 Rat Rod, Denny Hamlin’s 1967 Lincoln Continental, Kelley Earnhardt Miller’s 1972 Volkswagen Beetle, Rusty Wallace’s 1966 El Camino, Chad Knaus’  1972 Camaro, several cars from the collection of NASCAR team owner Rick Hendrick and cars from Season II of “AmeriCarna.”

Hamlin's `67 Continental
Among the stars expected to appear are Hamlin, Logano, Ryan Newman and No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet car chief Ron Malec, as well as Lou Santiago from Velocity’s “Car Fix.”

“AmeriCarna LIVE” will support IGNITE, an innovative community center in Davidson for young adults with high functioning autism or Asperger's Syndrome.  IGNITE offers activities, skills training, and educational workshops that will foster social, financial, educational, and employment independence for its members. 


The car show is open to the public from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Spectator admission is $5 per person and kids under 10 are free.  The car show awards will be presented at approximately 2:15 p.m. The car show also will feature live music from local bands, Q&A with Ray Evernham and local celebrities, silent auction, food vendors and a celebrity car corral.  The general public can enter their own cars at http://americarnatv.com/americarna-live/2014/.

Borland Named VP Of Technology For SHR, Haas F1

Veteran motorsports engineer Matt Borland has been named vice president of technology for Haas F1 Team and Stewart-Haas Racing. In this role, Borland will serve as a liaison between the two organizations – Haas F1 Team in the FIA Formula 1 World Championship and Stewart-Haas Racing in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.

Haas F1 Team will make its Formula One debut in 2016, becoming the first American-led Formula One team in 30 years. Stewart-Haas Racing is a four-car NASCAR Sprint Cup Series team with drivers Kevin Harvick, Danica Patrick, Tony Stewart and Kurt Busch. Stewart-Haas Racing debuted in 2009 and won the 2011 Sprint Cup championship with Stewart and the 2014 Sprint Cup championship with Harvick.

Borland will oversee the transfer of Formula One technology to Stewart-Haas Racing while providing Haas F1 Team with deep engineering resources. Concurrently, the highly-respected Borland will serve as a gatekeeper, ensuring the privacy of proprietary information respective to each team.

“With his knowledge and work ethic, Matt has helped build Stewart-Haas Racing into the team it is today, and as we build Haas F1 Team and prepare it for 2016, his expertise has already proven to be incredibly useful,” said Joe Custer, chief operating officer, Haas F1 Team and executive vice president, Stewart-Haas Racing. “Matt’s talent as an engineer and manager are augmented by a sterling reputation that is beyond reproach. He is well suited for this dual role that will ultimately lead to the betterment of Haas F1 Team and Stewart-Haas Racing.”

Borland joined Haas CNC Racing, the precursor to Stewart-Haas Racing, in May 2007. He has served in numerous capacities, including crew chief, competition director, technical director and, most recently, vice president of engineering, where he oversaw all of the team’s technical initiatives and research and development projects.

Borland came to Haas CNC Racing with significant NASCAR experience, first with Team Penske from the end of the 1999 season through 2006 and then with Michael Waltrip Racing in 2007. Prior to coming to NASCAR, Borland was the race engineer for driver Mark Blundell at PacWest Racing in Champ Car and before that, Borland was at Pi Research, a well-known engineering organization specializing in motorsports.


“I’m an engineer at heart, so I’m always interested in building things,” said Borland, who in 1994 earned a degree in mechanical engineering from Kettering University (formerly the General Motors Institute). “It’s been very satisfying to help build Stewart-Haas Racing from a two-car team to a four-car team that’s always capable of winning championships. Now I have the best of both worlds, as I can continue to help improve Stewart-Haas Racing while building Haas F1 Team. We work smart and efficiently at Stewart-Haas Racing, and there are best practices we can apply to Haas F1 Team. Eventually, both organizations will make each other better, and I’m proud to be a part of it.”

Monday, November 17, 2014

COMMENTARY: Dear NASCAR...

Dear NASCAR;

Thank you for a wildly entertaining 2014 season.

Strategic rule changes ratcheted-up the level of competition, allowing drivers to race side-by-side – two and three-wide – without falling victim to the dreaded “aero push.” That process will continue in 2015, with a reduction in horsepower, aerodynamic changes and other adjustments, all designed to put more “race” in the race cars.

An exciting crop of hungry young drivers burst onto the scene this season, with names like Larson, Elliott, Dillon, Blaney, Wallace and Buescher ensuring that the sport’s future is in secure and talented hands.

Your new, 2014 Chase format was an unqualified success, delivering a steady diet of drama and intrigue that began with Dale Earnhardt, Jr.’s popular victory in the season-opening Daytona 500 and carried all the way through Sunday’s mind-boggling finale at Homestead Miami Speedway. An increased emphasis on winning got drivers “up on the wheel” like never before and produced fireworks, both on and off the race track. It struck a fair and appropriate balance between winning and consistency, culminating in a late-race Homestead championship duel that pitted one of the biggest winners in the sport against a driver who had not won a race all season.

It brought out the best in your drivers and teams, encouraging hard driving, aggressive strategies and a willingness to roll the competitive dice. It virtually eliminated the term “good point day” from our vocabulary, and made every race worth winning once again.

It provided new challenges that many long-established stars were unable to overcome.

It allowed smaller teams like Richard Petty Motorsports and JTG Daugherty Racing to bask – albeit briefly -- in the championship spotlight, allowing us to root for the underdog in a sport that has traditionally been dominated by high-dollar super teams.

It allowed four hungry drivers to compete for the sport’s ultimate prize in an unprecedented, winner-take-all finale, ultimately crowning a deserving, first-time champion.

It out the passion and emotion back into our sport, prompting drivers and crew members to stand up and fight for what they believe in. We’re not looking for a weekly ration of post-race fisticuffs, but this 2014 season offered a much-needed reminder of how this glorious game – properly conducted – can stir our emotions and command our attention.

It brought fans back to the grandstands, with sold-out crowds at the season’s final two events and increased television ratings for the first time in recent memory. Yes, there were still empty seats at most events and viewership was down for the season as a whole, but an upward trend at season’s end is cause for encouragement, and something to build on.

Just one request, if I may.

Ignore the pleas of those who want to continue “tweaking” the Chase in 2015, especially those poor, misguided souls who would institute a separate points system for Chase contenders. No matter what they say, there is a significant difference between finishing 16th and 43rd. The championship points should continue to reflect that reality.



Please, NASCAR, resist the temptation to do “just one more thing” by micromanaging a system that succeeded beyond our wildest dreams in 2014. Bask in the success of the season just completed, and leave the Chase alone.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Wallace Claims Truck Battle, Crafton Wins The War

Crafton wins his second
Matt Crafton made history Friday night at Homestead-Miami Speedway, as the defending NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion became in the first back-to-back champion in the history of the series.
Crafton is the 13th different driver to win the Truck Series title and the fourth to win multiple crowns. Although the idea of Crafton becoming the first back-to-back series champion since the NASCAR Truck Series inception in 1995 has been circulating for several weeks throughout the NCWTS garages, Crafton said he had banished the thought from his mind. 
“It’s definitely an awesome feeling to say you’re back-to-back champion,” Crafton said. “I definitely didn’t want to talk about it at all the last few weeks. Without a doubt I wanted to go out there and do my job and try to win more races and lead more laps and that’s what we did.”
Crafton’s ninth-place finish secured the top spot over Brad Keselowski Racing driver Ryan Blaney by a 21-point margin. The 2014 season marked Crafton’s 15th in the truck Series, and he leads the series in consecutive starts with 337. 
Wallace win his fourth
Kyle Busch Motorsports took home the NCWTS Owner’s Championship; the team’s second-consecutive and third all-time owner title. KBM is now the second team in NCWTS history to win back-to-back championships. Their third title leaves them tied with Hendrick Motorsports and Kevin Harvick Inc. for the most all-time championships. 
While Crafton claimed the Truck Series championship, Darrell Wallace Jr. won the 19th Annual Ford EcoBoost 200, his fifth victory in 44 NCWTS races. Four of those victories came this season. 
“I can’t thank my guys enough for continuing to come up each and every race and never give up and have that desire to win,” Wallace said. “I told them before the race even started, we want it more than anybody else. We don’t have a shot at the title, but we want this race more than anybody else. Let’s show that. And I had to work for it there. I had to battle off Kyle (Larson) and Kyle (Busch), so a lot of things knocked off tonight in the mile-and-a-half win. We beat the boss finally.” 
The win was bittersweet for Wallace, whose No. 54 ToyotaCare team learned earlier that morning that the

“Eddie, our engineer, lost his mother earlier,” said Wallace. “I wanted to put her name, Alejandra, on the top of our door, and she was our guardian angel, so that’s what got us to Victory Lane.”

KBM Adds Boston, Tifft To Truck Series Lineup

Justin Boston
Kyle Busch Motorsports has announced the addition of Justin Boston and Matt Tifft to the team’s driver lineup for the 2015 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series season.

Boston will run a full-time schedule competing for the Sunoco Rookie of the Year Award, while Tifft will run a six-race schedule and share the driving duties behind the wheel of his Tundra with KBM owner-driver Kyle Busch and Joe Gibbs Racing developmental driver Daniel Suarez competing for the Truck Series Owner’s Championship.

Boston completed his second full-time season in the ARCA Racing Series in 2014, finishing fifth in the championship standings and collecting wins at Toledo (Ohio) Speedway in May and Madison (Wis.) International Speedway in August. In addition to his two wins, he collected three poles, 241 laps led, seven top-five and 13 top-10 finishes resulting in an average finish of 10.6 across 20 starts this year. Overall in two seasons of ARCA action, the Maryland native has posted two wins, five poles, 15 top-five and 29 top-10 finishes across 41 starts and finished inside the top-five in the championship standings both years.

The 25-year-old also made two NASCAR Nationwide Series starts for Joe Gibbs Racing in 2014, finishing ninth in his series debut at Kentucky Speedway in Sparta and following it up with a 12th-place finish at Dover (Del.) International Speedway. He made one Truck Series start this season, but was relegated to a 30th-place finish at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway getting caught up in a late-race accident.

Matt Tifft
“Being able to drive full time in the Camping World Truck Series next season is definitely a big step in my career and I can’t thank everyone at KBM enough for this opportunity,” Boston said. “KBM builds really fast Toyota Tundras and I know that I’m going to be in a position to win races next year -- as a driver that’s all you can ask for. I was only able to make one Truck Series start this year, -- so there are going to be some learning curves -- but I’m confident that my experience running full-time in the ARCA Series the last two seasons has helped me prepare for the challenge.”

Tifft has made 12 ARCA Racing Series starts the last two seasons, registering six top-five and eight top-10 finishes. The Ohio native registered a career-best runner-up finish in this year’s September event at Kentucky Speedway in Sparta. In addition to his time in the ARCA Racing Series, the 18-year-old has competed in the NASCAR K&N East and West Series, posting one top-five and nine top-10 finishes across 24 starts.

The University of North Carolina at Charlotte freshman has competed in two of the last three Truck Series races this season, including an eighth-place finish at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway in September, and is entered in the series finale at Homestead-Miami (Fla.) Speedway this weekend.  

“The opportunity to drive Toyota Tundras for Kyle Busch Motorsports in six Camping World Truck Series races next season is one that I’m extremely proud of being provided with,” Tifft said. “KBM is such a well-respected team in the Truck Series and I’m excited to be able to go out next year and prove what I can do behind the wheel of top-notch equipment. I’m confident that this part-time schedule will allow me to showcase my abilities as I work towards securing a full-time opportunity for 2016.”

“Adding these two talented young drivers to the driver lineup at KBM next season gives us the opportunity to compete for the Rookie of the Year honors with Justin, a Driver’s Championship with Erik (Jones) and the Owner’s Championship sharing a truck between Matt, myself and Daniel,” Busch said. “Justin was able to pick up a couple ARCA wins this season and had solid runs in his starts for JGR in the Nationwide Series. Matt knocked on the door of victory a couple times in the ARCA Series while running a part-time schedule and had a nice run in his Truck Series debut at Martinsville last month. We’re looking forward to seeing both of them behind the wheel of our Tundras next year.”

Announcements on truck numbers, sponsors and crew chiefs for both drivers are forthcoming.

Friday, November 14, 2014

France Says NASCAR Will Wait For Busch Investigation Before Acting

NASCAR Chairman Brian France said today that the sanctioning body will take a tough stand on domestic violence, but not at the expense of due process.

With Stewart-Haas Racing driver Kurt Busch being investigated for domestic assault by the Dover (Del.) Police Department and Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.), calling on NASCAR to suspend him, France told reporters today at Homestead Miami Speedway that the organization will wait until actual charges are filed before acting.

“It's a very sensitive topic today, rightfully so,” said France. “And so, (it’s) not surprising that some members of Congress and other leaders might have some strong views on what we should and shouldn't do.

“We'll stay the course, let the investigation be completed and then we'll react.”

In the aftermath of high-profile domestic violence cases involving NFL players Ray Rice and Greg Hardy in recent weeks, France said the sanctioning body understands the need to send a clear message to its drivers and teams.

“What's not lost on us by any stretch is a rightful, heightened awareness of domestic abuse and violence,” he said. “So you can expect our policies to reflect the understandable awareness that that's not going to be tolerated. It's pretty clear when you see what's happening around the country and in some of the other leagues that our policy will reflect the significance and importance that it should.”

Stewart Haas "Taking Kurt At His Word" In Domestic Violence Case

Stewart-Haas Racing has issued a statement today, in the aftermath of calls by United States Congresswoman Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) that Busch be suspended, pending the outcome of a domestic violence investigation. 

"The allegation made against Kurt Busch is one Stewart-Haas Racing and its partners take very seriously,” said the team. “We have spoken to Kurt in depth regarding this matter and he has vehemently denied that it happened and assures us there is no truth to it whatsoever. We are monitoring this situation closely and will let the authorities continue with their thorough investigation. At this point in time we are taking Kurt at his word and his status with the team is unchanged."

Busch Has Yet To Speak With Law Enforcement, Congresswoman Chastizes NASCAR For Handling

The Dover (Del.) Police Department has yet to interview former NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Kurt Busch, more than a week after former girlfriend Patricia Driscoll accused him of domestic assault.\

Driscoll said Busch grabbed her face and repeatedly smashed her head against the wall in his motorhome at Dover International Speedway on Sept. 26, leaving her with severe pain, difficulty breathing and bruising on her neck. Since those allegations were made public last Wednesday, Dover Police public information officer Cpl. Mark Hoffman said his department has interviewed a number of witnesses associated with to the case, but not Busch.

In his words, “We would like to speak with him, obviously. We're working with Mr. Busch and his legal team to schedule an appointment that we can sit down and talk with him. Whether that's in person or by videophone, we're not completely sure yet. It's just going to depend on their availability at this point.”

Hoffman said the department’s willingness to accommodate Busch’s schedule is not related to "who he is or what he does for a living," adding that the case is complicated by Driscoll’s decision to wait approximately six weeks to file a police report. Driscoll has said her delay stemmed from an ongoing dispute with her ex-husband over the custody of their son.

Busch’s attorney, Rusty Hardin, said last week that his client “will fully cooperate with (the) investigation and expects to be vindicated when the entire truth of the situation comes to light.’ He called Driscoll’s allegations “a complete fabrication by a woman who has refused to accept the end of a relationship.”

In a related story, a member of the United States House of Representatives has criticized both NASCAR and Stewart Haas Racing for failing to suspend Busch from competition until the case is resolved.

SI.com is reporting that Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.), wrote to NASCAR president Mike Helton and Stewart Haas owners Tony Stewart and Gene Haas this week, calling NASCAR and SHR’s response “totally inadequate.

“Despite the severity of the criminal allegations against Mr. Busch,” wrote Speier, “I am disappointed to see that NASCAR and Stewart-Haas Racing have not taken any action.” She said NASCAR’s refusal to suspend Busch and driver Travis Kvapil – who received two years’ probation and community service as part of a deferred domestic assault prosecution agreement in October of 2013 – “calls into question the enforcement policies exercised by NASCAR.


"NASCAR would rather let Mr. Busch drive for the remainder of the racing season than take a stance on violence against women," wrote Speier. "While he rounds the track, the legal processes for his domestic violence charges race forward as well. Until his legal proceedings end, NASCAR should put Mr. Busch's car in park. The charges are horrifying, and NASCAR's inaction sends a clear signal to drivers that owners do not take these violent actions seriously."

She called for NASCAR and SHR to “suspend Mr. Busch from his weekend’s Championship and adopt a policy going forward in all domestic violence cases to suspend drivers until criminal proceedings end, or there is a clear lack of evidence.”

She also requested that she be included in all of internal investigations conducted by the sanctioning body or race team, and requested “a history of sanctions levied by NASCAR and racing teams for domestic violence incidents brought to your attention over the last five years.”



Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Homestead Grandstands, Premium Seating Now Sold Out


As the championship race for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series draws near, the excitement continues to escalate. Homestead-Miami Speedway President Matthew Becherer announced today that the grandstands are sold out for Sunday’s Ford EcoBoost 400. Premium seating areas in Champions Club, Speedway Club and the Pit Box are sold out, as well. 

“The response this year among our fans has been tremendous, both to the new Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup format, as well as the opportunity to come to Miami and witness history,” Becherer said.  “The fans who will be here at our track not only will be treated to a terrific weekend of racing, but also an unforgettable overall experience with all of the entertainment and amenities that we have planned.  For those who want to see some great racing, we encourage people to come out to the Camping World Truck Series race (Ford EcoBoost 200) on Friday night and the Nationwide race (Ford EcoBoost 300) on Saturday.  Many of the drivers who will be competing in the Sprint Cup race on Sunday also will be taking part in the first two races over the weekend.” 
Denny Hamlin, Kevin Harvick, Joey Logano and Ryan Newman each will have a chance to claim the 2014 Sprint Cup Series championship at the Ford EcoBoost 400 as they will compete amongst a full field of 43 cars.  Whichever driver among the Championship 4 finishes the highest on Sunday will be crowned the champion.    
Although the Ford EcoBoost 400 is now sold out, fans of some of the most popular drivers on the Sprint Cup Series circuit will have a chance to see those same drivers earlier in the weekend.  Kyle Busch, Matt Kenseth, Brad Keselowski and Kyle Larson are scheduled to take part in the Ford EcoBoost 300 on Saturday while Busch and Larson will compete in the Ford EcoBoost 200 on Friday.  Fans will also have the opportunity see one of the top young drivers on the NASCAR circuit in the Ford EcoBoost 300 as Chase Elliott takes the wheel for the first time since clinching the Nationwide Series Championship following the race in Phoenix last weekend.  At 18 years of age, Elliott is the youngest champion ever in any NASCAR series.  
Tickets remain available for the Ford EcoBoost 200 on Friday and the Ford EcoBoost 300 on Saturday.  For more information on tickets, call 305-230-5255 or visit www.homesteadmiamispeedway.com.

Logano's Crew Chief Says Cool Heads Will Prevail At Homestead


With just 400 miles between himself and the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship, crew chief Todd Gordon said he, driver Joey Logano and the No. 22 Shell Pennzoil Ford team are not planning any radical changes in strategy for Sunday’s race at Homestead Miami Speedway.


“I think you have to approach this weekend like we did all of the races this year… and continue to race aggressively,” said Gordon. “With the way the format is laid out, you have to be aggressive to reap the rewards. I think you’re going to have to be close to being a winner to take home a championship. 


"We’re going to continue to do the things that we’ve done; not break the format of how our practice flow has worked (and) how our week of preparation has worked.  We had a really good test down there a couple of weeks back and feel good about building off it, coming back to Homestead.”


Gordon said he did not anticipate the level of intensity created by NASCAR’s new Chase format.


“We knew that it brought the intensity of the go or go-home race multiple times within the season,” he said. “We knew there would be a heightened level of effort from every team and instead of slow and steady, it would have peaks every three races. It has definitely lived up to the expectation, if not exceeded it with some of the things that we’ve seen."


Gordon also admitted that the system has not worked exactly the way he predicted it would, saying, “When it was first announced -- and even through the year -- we really thought you were going to have to win one of the three races coming into Homestead -- Martinsville, Texas, or Phoenix – in order to move on. It ended up being the polar opposite. It was a points race, so it changed up the whole last segment. It has proved that even if you anticipate the most, you won’t get what’s going to happen until it happens.”


Gordon said he likes the momentum his team carries to the Sunshine State this weekend, after winning five times already in 2014.


“Everybody here buys in,” he said. “We’re all on the same page and pushing together. Team Penske has done an awesome job of pulling resources. Paul Wolfe and myself work together, and Brad and Joey work together to make sure that we’re prepared for every week. We’ve had success and not lost track with what makes us successful. We make sure we include that every weekend.”


In terms of strategy for Sunday’s race, Gordon said a cool head will likely prevail.


"The great part is you’re not behind and you’re not ahead,” he said. “You’re on an even playing field. We’ve found ways to not lose our cool and continue to race forward.  I think that’s a statement of where this race team is, what they’re made of and how we’ll race forward in this race at Homestead. We’ve come through some rocky roads and some rough situations, and we’ve always figured out how to persevere and have success.


“We’ll look to do that again this weekend.”

Monday, November 10, 2014

Larson On Newman: "I Completely Understand The Situation He Was In"

Kyle Larson commented today on his final-lap clash with Ryan Newman at Phoenix International Raceway, saying that while he was not happy with Newman’s tactics, he understood tem.

Larson was 11th entering Turn Four of the final lap yesterday, with Newman close behind in 12th. Needing one more position to advance to the Championship Round at Homestead Miami Speedway, Newman charged onto the apron and made door-to-door contact with Larson’s Chevrolet. Larson brushed the wall and lost two positions, while Newman finished 11th, edging Jeff Gordon by a single point for the final transfer spot.

"Coming to the finish, there were a lot of cars racing really hard,” said Larson today. “I knew (Newman) was right around me and knew he needed to gain some spots to keep from getting eliminated from the Chase.

“It's a little upsetting he pushed me up to the wall, but I completely understand the situation he was in,” said Larson, “(I) can't fault him for being aggressive there. I think a lot of drivers out here would have done something similar if they were in that position."

Larson Inks 2015 NXS, NCWTS Sponsor

Parker Hannifin Corporation announced today that 2013 NASCAR Nationwide Series Rookie of the Year Kyle Larson, the, will reunite with ParkerStore for a multi-year, multi-series partnership beginning with Friday night’s final NASCAR Camping World Truck Series event of the season, the Ford EcoBoost 200 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

After originally partnering with Larson when he raced midget cars in California, ParkerStore will be the primary sponsor of the No. 42 NCWTS Turner Scott Motorsports entry driven by Larson at Homestead and will be on board the No. 42 NASCAR XFINITY Series entry in 2015. ParkerStore will serve as a primary and associate sponsor for Larson in a number of races throughout the 2015 NXS season.  
"We're looking forward to rejoining our partnership with Kyle and his team," says Brad Fischer, Director of Global Retail Operations at Parker. "Kyle has a bright future in NASCAR and we're happy to be on board." 
"I am really excited to be reuniting with ParkerStore," said Larson. "To be able to team up again with a sponsor from back in my midget racing days is really cool. I think we'll make a great team. I'm really looking forward to working with them on and off of the racetrack. I feel like I have some unfinished business at Homestead in the Truck Series, so I can't wait to get there and see what we can do." 

COMMENTARY: Stop Sissifying My Sport!

For the second week in a row, NASCAR Nation has been overrun by sissies. 

In the aftermath of Ryan Newman’s full-contact pass of rookie Kyle Larson within sight of the checkered flag at Phoenix International Raceway Sunday, internet chat boards and sports talk radio have been inundated with horrified fans who believe contact between racers is somehow unsportsmanlike, unfair, or even dangerous. 

Like they did a week ago with Brad Keselowski, a small-but-vocal contingent of shrinking violets has lambasted Newman, condemning his Neanderthal tactics and calling upon the sanctioning body to penalize him for his blatant, final-lap victimization of Larson.  

Most of these race fans have never scrubbed grease from beneath their fingernails. They have never uttered a four-letter word after busting their knuckles on the underside of a battered Street Stock racer, and are more likely to dine on sushi and pate’ than to partake of a Martinsville Speedway hot dog.

“Kyle was right on (Marcos Ambrose’s) rear bumper and when he went into Turn Three,” explained Newman afterward. “I think he slipped just a little bit and I went to the bottom. I figured, `I’m going to try it and see if it works,’ and it worked. I don’t know how much of it was racing luck, but the old adage of `eight tires are better than four’ was definitely true today.

“I don’t like racing that way,” he admitted, “but there’s a lot on the line here. I tried to keep it as clean as I possibly could. That’s what we’re supposed to do. I didn’t see anybody giving anybody anything (out there). Everybody raced hard. There were guys that could have backed off and not stuck it in there three wide on a restart, but everybody raced hard and everybody raced clean.

“We got beat around a little bit here and there, and we did our own beating around. That’s part of racing at Phoenix. That’s part of the intensity of this Chase. It’s racing, man.”

Correct as they are, Newman’s remarks were almost certainly lost on those who want stock car racing to be polite, genteel and strictly contact-free. That’s not NASCAR, my friends. That’s Formula One, where “avoidable contact” is viewed as a mortal sin, deserving of the most egregious sanctions. 

Stock car racing has never been a game for refined gentlemen in white gloves. If you want to see ballet, go to the ballet and leave stock car racing to those of us who understand the difference between wrecking a fellow competitor and simply “rattling his cage.” There has always been a clear and distinct difference between door-to-door contact and slamming into someone from behind, lifting their rear wheels off the ground and depositing them into the nearest SAFER barrier.
 
Racers understand that difference, which is why Larson has not joined the cacophony of whiners lamenting his treatment at the hands of a fellow racer who had everything to gain Sunday, and nothing to lose. 

This weekend at Homestead Miami Speedway, Ryan Newman will compete for his first career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship. If he prevails, Richard Childress Racing will earn its first Cup title since 1994 with the late Dale Earnhardt; a man who also knew a thing or two about moving competitors out of his way, against their will.  

Likely as not, someone will get their feelings hurt at Homestead. Somebody will get moved over, run over, or knocked aside by a man with a championship to win and no time for niceties. It’s an accepted part of the game, and it should be expected. 

"Wait until next week when the championship is on the line,” promised four-time series champion Jeff Gordon, after viewing a replay of Newman’s last-lap Phoenix pass. “You're going to see a lot more than that.” 

Cover your eyes if you can't bear to watch

Sunday, November 09, 2014

COMMENTARY: Avoid Rushing To Judgment In Busch Domestic Violence Case

The Dover (Del.) Police Department confirmed Friday that it is conducting a criminal investigation into an alleged domestic assault involving former NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Kurt Busch. 

The incident is alleged to have occurred inside Busch’s motorhome at Dover International Speedway on Friday, Sept. 26, but was not reported to law enforcement until last Wednesday. And while the investigation is still in its early stages, the case promises to be explosive. 

The department has not identified who filed the complaint against Busch, but longtime girlfriend Patricia Driscoll has confirmed that she was the complainant. In court documents, Driscoll claimed Busch was "verbally abusive to her and said he wished he had a gun so that he could kill himself” after a poor qualifying effort at Dover.   

Driscoll said Busch called her names and accused her of "having spies everywhere and having a camera on the bus to watch him." The complaint alleges that Busch “grabbed Driscoll’s face and smashed her head against a wall three times.” Driscoll says she pushed Busch away and ran to a nearby motorhome to put an ice pack on her head and neck, and suffered from severe pain, difficulty breathing and bruising.  

Busch’s attorney, Rusty Hardin, vigorously denied those allegations, calling them “a complete fabrication by a woman who has refused to accept the end of a relationship.” He said Busch will cooperate fully with the investigation and “expects to be vindicated when the entire truth of the situation comes to light.”  

There is little or no common ground in the stories told by Busch and Driscoll. With such a gaping disparity in testimony, it’s clear that someone is – at very least – fudging the truth. While it may be tempting to choose between “he said” and “she said,” NASCAR, its fans and media members must avoid the urge to do so. 

Late last week, NASCAR issued a statement saying they are aware of the investigation, “recognize the seriousness of this matter and are actively gathering information from all parties, including law enforcement authorities and Stewart-Haas Racing.”  

In marked contrast to the National Football League -- where Commissioner Roger Goodell has drawn fire for ruling on cases involving Ray Rice, Greg Hardy, Adrian Peterson and Ray McDonald before the facts were known -- NASCAR will remain in the background, allowing law enforcement officials to do their jobs and determine exactly what went down on the evening of September 26.  

Much as they did when driver Travis Kvapil was arrested in October of last year on domestic violence charges, NASCAR will wait to see whether there was actual wrongdoing, or simply accusations. Stewart Haas Racing will do the same, allowing Busch to compete while the accusations against him are investigated.  

“This is an allegation Stewart-Haas Racing takes very seriously,” said the team last week, “but we’re still gathering all of the facts.”  

That is enough, as both team and sanctioning body attempt to balance fairness to Busch with a clear and unquestionable stance against domestic violence. Unfortunately, not everyone is interested in fairness or restraint.
After the tragic death of Sprint Car driver Kevin Ward, Jr. in early August, many fans and media members passed immediate judgment on former Sprint Cup Series champion Tony Stewart, leveling misguided allegations of intentional misconduct, or even outright murder. They ate a healthy portion of crow a few weeks later, however, when a grand jury examined the facts and found Stewart blameless.

Now, many of those same knee-jerk reactionaries are jumping to conclusions again, using Busch’s tempestuous history as grounds for conviction, or citing the six weeks that elapsed between the alleged incident and Driscoll’s police report as proof of a “woman scorned” defense.

Some folks never learn.