Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Sadler Still Talking About Cup Return, Should Know Plans In "2-3 Weeks"

Elliott Sadler told Sirius NASCAR Radio’s Sirius Speedway with Dave Moody Tuesday that he expects to know his future plans within the next 2-3 weeks.

Sadler is unlikely to return to Richard Petty Motorsports in 2011, after co-owner Richard Petty said the team is likely to scale back to just two cars next season with drivers AJ Allmendinger and Marcos Ambrose. Sadler's current sponsor, Stanley Tools, will back Ambrose next season.

“I have really enjoyed running up front in the Nationwide and Camping World Truck Series’ these last few weeks,” said Sadler, “and I’m hopeful that within the next couple of weeks, I can say, `Dave, this is what I’m going to do in 2011.’ I’m not necessarily saying I’ll be in the Nationwide or Trucks, though. I am also talking to Sprint Cup team that is looking at the possibility of expanding with an additional car next season. We’ll see what happens.”

Monday, August 30, 2010


Alex Hayden -- the Mary Poppins of Motorsports -- takes cover beneath his manly parasol during Sunday's race at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal.

How Martin Truex, Jr., Spent His Weekend Off

FISH ON! Truex hits `em hard on the Outer Banks.

One in the boat, one on the line!

Martin and Captain Jack with Truex's Amberjack.

Even In Defeat, Max Papis Is A Winner

It takes 3/10ths of a second to blink an eye. Sunday in Montreal, Max Papis’ dream slipped from his grasp in less than half that time.

After making a name for himself in Formula One, Champ Car and Sports Car competition, Papis has devoted the last five years of his life to becoming a winner in NASCAR, overcoming numerous setbacks with a boundless, unfailing enthusiasm that has made him a favorite in the Sprint Cup Series garage. Sunday, at Montreal’s legendary Circuit Gilles Villeneuve road course, Papis made his strongest bid yet for NASCAR victory in the Nationwide Series “Montreal 200.”

The race appeared to belong to Robby Gordon, but Gordon sputtered out of fuel on a green-white-checkered-flag restart, handing the lead to Boris Said. Bidding for a career-defining NASCAR win of his own, Said looked unbeatable until the race’s final turns, when Papis made a vintage, testosterone-rich move, out-braking one of the best road racers on the planet to snatch the lead away.

But Papis’ advantage would not last. A victim of its own momentum, his Kevin Harvick, Inc. Chevrolet slid up the track in the final turn, opening the door just enough for Said to counterattack. The two raced neck-and-neck down the final straightaway, as a huge and raucous Montreal crowd roared its approval. Trying to milk every ounce of horsepower out of his engine, Papis briefly hit the rev chip on his way back through the gearbox, crossing the finish line .012 seconds – about four inches – behind Said.

It was the fifth-closest finish in Nationwide Series history and the closest ever on a road course. The difference between victory and defeat was half the blink of an eye. And for Papis, it was another case of “so close, yet so far.”

“I was ahead, I was behind. I was ahead, I was behind,” said Papis of the race’s final turns. “At the end of the day, it was an amazing race. I had a blast. It came down to a green-white-checker. This is maybe the first time I’ve had the chance to sit in a car that legitimately can win, and it came down to the last corner.

“I’m really proud. I know it’s a second-place finish, but it’s equal to any of my best wins.”

After spending the last two seasons as a part-time Sprint Cup competitor in Germain Racing’s #13 GEICO Toyota, Papis will yield his seat to veteran Casey Mears beginning this week at Atlanta Motor Speedway and race full-time on the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series in 2011. Most racers would consider that move a demotion, but Papis is devoid of such ego. He says -- and genuinely seems to believe -- that the decision gives him an opportunity to race more often and more competitively in 2011.

It is a move he says he welcomes.

“I’m super excited about the opportunity to drive the GEICO Tundra in the Truck Series next year,” insists Papis. “We thought about how best to build our program, and instead of running the last four or five Cup races this season, I thought it would be better to start focusing right away on our Truck program for next year; working for the future.

“I’m excited because I have always wanted to run a full season in any NASCAR Series. That is the only way to learn and improve as a driver. Germain Racing has a lot of experience and winning equipment (in the Truck Series), and it’s an opportunity that I couldn’t turn down. This is what I came to America for; to be successful and win races in NASCAR.”

Papis said he has enjoyed his time in the Sprint Cup Series and cherishes the milestones that he and his team achieved.

“In just 30 Sprint Cup races – 18 last year and a dozen or so this year -- I was able to race my way into the Daytona 500 on the final lap of my qualifying race, drive in the Brickyard 400 and spend some time running in the Top-10,” he said. “We did a lot, and I’m proud of how far we came. But it’s tough to race for two weeks and sit out for two. It’s difficult to improve when you’re doing a `start and park,’ instead of running the entire race. Now, I’m excited to continue my adventure in the Truck Series. We’ll be running full races -- up front with a chance to win -- and I’ll have an opportunity to learn and improve at a much faster rate.

“This is a good thing for me. This is what I want.”

In February of 1996, Papis burst onto the national scene with a stunning drive in the 24 Hours of Daytona. Driving the final stint of the annual, round-the-clock affair in a battered Ferrari held together with duct tape, Papis unlapped himself by passing leader Wayne Taylor, then strung together one “fastest lap of the race” after another, before coming up just short of Taylor in the final rundown.

Massimiliano Papis – native son of Como, Italy -- became “Mad Max” that day in Daytona Beach, Florida. And in the years that followed, the son-in-law of open wheel legend Emerson Fittipaldi has proven his willingness to do whatever it takes to be a NASCAR star. He failed to grab the brass ring Sunday, falling short by the smallest of margins. But make no mistake about it, Max Papis' day will come.

He is unwilling to accept anything less.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Keselowski: "I'm Going To Make It Here, Whether People Want Me To Or Not."

Brad Keselowski said he does not regret his recent on-track skirmishes with Carl Edwards and Kyle Busch, and feels his aggressive driving style has allowed him to make his mark in the highly competitive world of NASCAR.

Commenting on his skirmish with Busch on the final lap of Friday night's NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Bristol Motor Speedway, Keselowski told Sirius NASCAR Radio's Sirius Speedway with Dave Moody, "I dont think I could have avoided it, but I could be wrong. Kyle got a great run underneath me in Turns One and Two, and actually had me cleared by one or two inches. But he wasn't sure he was clear, so he stayed in the bottom lane. When he realized he was clear by that inch or two, he came up, but with such an abrupt manuever that he lost distance to me (causing contact). It was such an abrupt manuever that I don't feel like there was anything I could have done. But that's up for debate."

After taking the lead on the final lap, Keselowski said he "absolutely" expected retaliation from Busch, saying, "Kyle Busch never does anything that's his own fault."

The following night, Keselowski seized the microphone during pre-race driver introductions and announced, "I'm Brad Keselowski, and Kyle Busch is an ass." Asked if those comments were premeditated or spontaneous, Keselowski said, "Did I think about it all night long? Absolutely not. Did I think about it a minute beforehand? Yes.

"I was talking about it backstage with Juan Pablo Montoya and Martin Truex, and it just came out," he said. "It was all in good fun. I had fun with it, and I think at least 150,000 fans had fun with it, too."

The Nationwide Series point leader admitted that he, Edwards and Busch have a great deal to lose by allowing their personal animosity to impact their respective championship chases. "There's a lot at stake for all of us," he said. "I've got some thoughts on how I'm going to proceed moving forward, but I'm not necessarily going to share them right now.

"To be honest, there's a level of pride that the run-ins I'm having are with some of the best drivers in the sport," said Keselowski. "Kyle and Carl are two of the best drivers in NASCAR, and they're angry with me because I'm running up there with them and pushing and shoving them back. I don't think it's anything to be ashamed of, but by the same token, it's something that I have to be very smart with."

Keselowski said he is not interested in altering the hard-charging style that carried him to the top levels of NASCAR and made him a consensus pick for the 2010 Nationwide championship. "It's something that I've put a lot of thought into," he said. "I have definitely blazed a path that has gotten me attention; both positve and negative."

Keselowski said he paid special attention to the recent comments of former crewchief Ray Evernham, who helped guide Jeff Gordon through a spate of on-track incidents with the late Dale Earnhardt early in his career.

"I thought about (Ray's comments) for quite a while," said Keselowski. "His theory was that if you fight with a guy like Big E, it's going to end badly whether you win or lose. Ray made some great points... but I don't really think it applies to where I'm at.

"Look at the sport right now," he explained. "There are things you have to look at before you can comment on me, or the things I've done. Look where I'm at, how I got here and who else is making it in this sport. In the last three or four years, only two drivers have made it to the Sprint Cup level; me and Joey Logano. Does the path that Jeff Gordon, Denny Hamlin and Carl Edwards took to the top of this sport still apply? Does it still work today? The answer is `no.' It doesn't work today.

"With the testing ban that's in effect, the financial constraints that make sponsors unwilling to take chances on new drivers, and team owners who don't have the money to take chances on new drivers, you have to do something to set yourself apart. You have to stand out if you're going to make it at this level."

Keselowski said he realized early in his career that the only way to make it as a Sprint Cup driver was to "dig in, put my foot in the ground and say `I'm going to make it here whether other people want me to or not.' That's why I made it to the Sprint Cup level when other drivers with similar talent have not.

"It's easy to say, `The way Brad has done it is wrong,'" said the Michigan native. "But the sport has changed radically in the last three or four years. What Jimmie Johnson, Denny Hamlin and Jeff Gordon did to get themselves in the door won't get you in now."

The second-generation driver said that even with a 313-point lead in the Nationwide standings and a solid Sprint Cup ride with Penske Racing, he still worries that his NASCAR career could slip away. "On the Nationwide side, I guess I'm established," he said. "But in Sprint Cup, by no means (am I secure). I've only won one race, and I've got a lot more work to do before I become an established driver on the Cup side."

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

McDowell In, Yeley Out Of Whitney Motorsports #46

Michael McDowell will replace JJ Yeley in the #46 Whitney Motorsports Sprint Cup Series Dodge, effective immediately.

McDowell has been driving for Prism Motorsports, qualifying the team's #55 Toyota for 17 of 24 races in primarily been a start-and-park effort. He currently ranks 45th in championship points, and told Sirius NASCAR Radio's Sirius Speedway with Dave Moody that the opportunity to run complete races for Whitney Motorsports was a major factor in his decision to change teams.

"That’s the main factor for me," he said. "Prism Motorsports was great and I appreciate everything they’ve done for me this year. But Dusty’s program will allow us to run full races, and that’s huge. We’ll run four or five full races the remainder of this season –- most likely Atlanta, Phoenix, Texas, Talladega and Homestead -- and we’re committed to run 15 full races next year. We’ll almost certainly run the first five races in 2011, then keep going as long as the sponsorship holds out, starting and parking when we’re not fully funded.

"I'm happy to join up with Dusty and Whitney Motorsports again," he said. "We worked together in the Nationwide Series last season and got along really well, so when he called and asked if I would be interested in driving his Cup car I jumped at it. He has a good group of guys and I can't wait to get to the track and work with Tony Furr. It's always good to be able to work with someone who has as much experience and has had the success Tony has."

McDowell said team owner Dusty Whitney will partner with Earnhardt-Childress Racing Engines for this season's remaining intermediate track events, fielding Chevrolet Impalas at Atlanta, Kansas, California, Charlotte, Talladega, Texas, Phoenix and Homestead. The team will continue to run Dodge Chargers at Richmond, Loudon, Dover, and Martinsville. Whitney Motorsports has been campaigning Dodges purchased from Richard Petty Motorsports this season, and has run most weeks without the benefit of major sponsorship. They recently secured a four-race sponsorship from Cash America International, Inc.

"We've got a Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet in the shop right now, and the deal is made to have ECR power under the hood. Horsepower has been an issue for the team this year, and they've moving to fill that void."

Yeley expressed unhappiness with the way the change was implemented, writing via Twitter, "I was happy with the 46 car and the crew guys were awesome. Everyone involved was great, just not happy with the way things have been handled. I know I have missed some races, but Whitney knew we were way short on power. Went and got my stuff today from the shop. Never heard from the owner at all."

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Starr Parked For Next Two Races As Randy Moss Motorsports Regroups

David Starr’s #81 Randy Moss Motorsports Toyota will be sidelined for at least the next two races, as the team attempts to regroup.

Speaking on the condition of anonymity, a team source told Sirius NASCAR Radio's Sirius Speedway with Dave Moody that Starr will not compete in the next two events at Chicagoland and Kentucky Speedways, with a possible return at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on September 18.

The team has suffered a number of crashed trucks in recent weeks -- most recently in a 23rd place finish at Bristol Motor Speedway -– and with Starr’s Zachry sponsorship covering only part of the season, the team has fallen behind financially and in terms of equipment. Some members of the #81 team were laid off this week, but others have been retained in hopes of returning to competition later this season.

Mike Skinner's #5 Toyota remains fully funded, and will not be effected by the decision.

Monday, August 23, 2010

COMMENTARY: Boo If You Want To, Kyle Busch Just Doesn't Care

Love him or hate him, Kyle Busch doesn’t care. He just wants to win.

NASCAR’s resident Peck’s Bad Boy did a lot of winning last weekend at Bristol Motor Speedway, becoming the first driver to sweep the Camping World Truck, Nationwide and Sprint Cup races in the same week. And through it all, he confounded NASCAR Nation by thumbing his nose at fellow drivers and fans alike.

Wednesday night, Busch started his own Kyle Busch Motorsports Toyota Tundra last on the grid after a leaking valve cover forced him to forfeit the pole position. It was a minor setback at worst. He took the lead on Lap 91 and dodged a record 13 cautions to claim his third Truck Series win of the season, before delivering his now-trademark flourishing bow as the Bristol grandstands erupted in boos.

Friday night, he riled up the boo-birds once again, repaying a late race bump-and-run from Brad Keselowski by dumping the Nationwide Series point leader with 30 laps to go, then driving away to his ninth Nationwide win of the season. After the race, Busch and Keselowski lobbed verbal salvos at each other on radio, television and public address, raising the decibel level in the Bristol grandstands to levels unheard since the late Dale Earnhardt rattled Terry Labonte’s cage in October of 1999.

The verbal jousting continued during Saturday night’s Sprint Cup Series driver introductions. Greeted by another torrent of catcalls, Busch spread his arms wide and announced, ”Y'all are so loving… I'm ready to win it again!" Four drivers later, Keselowski grabbed the microphone and declared, "I’m Brad Keselowski… and Kyle Busch is an ass," sending the Thunder Valley faithful into fits of delirium.

The party didn’t last long, however. Kyle made sure of that, leading 282 of 500 laps -- including the final 72 — to complete his historic, three-race sweep. “I’ve been trying to do this since I got to NASCAR,” said Busch in Victory Lane. “Fortunately, tonight I was able to get it done (and) be the first one to do it. I’m the first in a lot of things,” he quipped, summoning forth another thundering chorus of boos.

Busch seems not to mind the hatred that spews forth from the grandstands each week. Instead, he appears to channel that tidal wave of negative energy into the motivation needed to accomplish what other drivers never dream of. With 78 career victories in his first seven NASCAR seasons, Busch ranks far ahead of modern-day benchmarks Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson -- who won 47 and 40 times in their first seven seasons – and light years ahead of legends Richard Petty (37) and Dale Earnhardt (17).

He is without question the best pure wheelman in the sport today. Part Rembrandt, part Rocky Marciano, he can finesse his way to Victory Lane with amazing feats of car control, or stick you in the fence without a single qualm of conscience.

So go ahead and boo, if it makes you feel better. Roar your disapproval to the heavens, write a poison-pen letter to the editor, cuss him out on national radio shows and call him any name you like; drivers and fans alike. Knock yourself out, but don’t delude yourself into thinking your opinion matters. Kyle’s going to win, and when he does, he’s going to celebrate just long enough for photographers to capture it on film before turning his attention to what comes next.

“I'm hard on myself and I might be hard on my guys,” admitted Busch after his historic Bristol three-peat. “But it boils down to the desire to win, wanting to win, and just trying to work more towards our goal.”

Just moments after making history at Thunder Valley, Busch was already looking ahead to Atlanta Motor Speedway and his next challenge. “It's going to be a test for us to see how good we are at the mile and a half stuff,” he said. “Then we go to Richmond, another one of the racetracks that I tend to run well at. Then the Chase starts. We hit reset and we've got ten weeks to show what we've got.”

“Hopefully it's enough.”

"Kyle is one of the most awesome talents," said Hendrick Motorsports owner Rick Hendrick in 2007, not long before his relationship with Busch came unglued (in part) because of Kyle’s challenging personality. "I compare Kyle to Tim Richmond, and that's saying a whole lot about car control. He's got that desire to win. He doesn't like to run second; he doesn't want to wait.”

Nationwide crewchief Dave Rogers called Busch, “a special driver and in my opinion the most talented driver on the circuit. There's a lot of fans out there booing him and some wise guys saying things that are somewhat unprofessional, but it's an absolute honor to work with Kyle Busch.”

As Busch completed his historic trifecta Saturday night, spotter Eddie D’Hondt quipped, “We are in the presence of greatness.”

Truer words were never spoken.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

CONFIRMED: Papis Back To Trucks In 2011, Mears Takes Over Cup Ride at Atlanta

Max Papis confirmed today what Sirius Speedway first reported more than a week ago, that he will drive a #9 GEICO Toyota Tundra full-time in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series beginning in 2011. Papis has been racing for Germain Racing on the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series this season, but has struggled to gain experience in a campaign filled with start-and-park efforts. He notched his first career Sprint Cup Series Top 10 with an eighth-place finish at Watkins Glen International last year.

Papis will turn his attention to the #9 GEICO Toyota Tundra effective immediately, beginning tonight at Bristol Motor Speedway. He will compete in three additional Camping World Truck Series races this season, in an effort to lay a solid foundation for 2011. The Truck Series effort will also be fielded by Germain Racing, which currtently fields Toyota Tundras for point leader Todd Bodine.

"Since I came to NASCAR, one of my goals has been to have the opportunity to run a complete racing schedule," said Papis, whose resume includes wins in the 12 Hours of Sebring, Petit Le Mans and CART (three times), two wins in the prestigeous Rolex 24 at Daytona and the Grand-Am Rolex Series championship in 2004. "When GEICO and Germain Racing approached me with an offer to represent them for a full season in the Camping World Truck Series, I saw it as a unique opportunity that I simply could not turn down.

"I want to take this opportunity to express my appreciation to all the fans, both new and old, who have supported me throughout my career and who are an important part of the success I have experienced. I am very excited by this opportunity and you can bet on my doing everything I possibly can to bring success to GEICO and Germain Racing."

Casey Mears will take over the #13 GEICO Sprint Cup Toyota beginning at Atlanta Motor Speedway on September 5.

Almirola Signs With JRM, Sources Say No Chase Coming For Nationwide

JR Motorsports announced today that Aric Almirola has signed a multi-year contract to drive the team’s #88 NASCAR Nationwide Series Chevrolet beginning next season. The 26-year old Almirola is currently second in NASCAR Camping World Truck Series points, driving for Billy Ballew Motorsports, and has 32 career Nationwide starts. He resume includes one Nationwide win, after he started a race before giving way for driver Denny Hamlin, who went on to take the checkered flag.

JR Motorsports co-owner Kelley Earnhardt called Almirola “a quintessential JR Motorsports driver,” saying he meshes well with the team and its sponsors.

No NatWide Chase: ESPN.com is reporting that NASCAR officials are considering a Chase-style playoff for the NASCAR Nationwide Series that will exclude Sprint Cup drivers. Sources tell Sirius Speedway, however, that such a system has been considered, but will not be adopted.

NASCAR President Mike Helton met with owners, drivers and crewchiefs Monday here in Concord, N.C., to discuss possible changes to the series. But sources say those talks centered mostly on cost-containment – specifically limiting the number of team members allowed to travel each week -- and ways to insure that new drivers are allowed to develop and flourish. The possibility exists for NASCAR to stop awarding Nationwide championship points to any driver who ranks in the Top-35 in Sprint Cup points, beginning next season.

More Schedule News: Texas Motor Speedway’s spring Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series events will go under the lights on April 8 and 9, 2011. The track’s November race weekend will continue to feature day racing for the Cup, Nationwide and Camping World Truck Series’ November 3-6. Track President Eddie Gossage hailed the advent of night racing in the Lone Star State, saying, "I’ve been around NASCAR racing at night my entire life — from attending night races in Nashville to promoting night races at Bristol and Charlotte — and I’ve always found them to be electric. We’ve always wanted one here and this year NASCAR presented us with the opportunity.”

Officials at Iowa Speedway have confirmed that they will host a pair of Nationwide Series races next season; on Sunday, May 22 and Saturday night, August 6. U.S. Cellular, which served as title sponsor for the track’s lone Nationwide races in both 2009 and 2010, will put its name on the August event, while a new sponsor being sought for the May race.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Budweiser, Childress, Harvick Team For 2011 Cup Chase

Anheuser-Busch made it official today, confirming that its iconic Budweiser brand will sponsor Kevin Harvick's #29 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolets on the 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.

"It’s a great brand to be associated with," said Harvick today. "(It's) something that we’re really proud of, and says a lot about the job everybody’s done at RCR."

"Budweiser's involvement in NASCAR dates back more than three decades, and we're excited to have as successful a driver as Kevin Harvick to usher in a new era for Budweiser," said Mark Wright, Vice President of Media, Sports and Entertainment Marketing for Anheuser-Busch. "Kevin also benefits from the support of a highly respected owner in Richard Childress and the great people of Richard Childress Racing, who will help put the #29 Budweiser Chevy in a position to challenge for Sprint Cup championships."

The new, three-year pact will see Budweiser serve as primary sponsor on the #29 Chevrolet for 22 races, including the non-point Budweiser Shootout and Gatorade Duel at Daytona, as co-primary sponsor of the Sprint All-Star Race and associate backer for the remaining 16 events.

CONFIRMED: Ambrose To RPM In 2011

Richard Petty Motorsports confirmed today what Sirius Speedway first reported on July 27, that Marcos Ambrose will drive the team's #9 Fords beginning in 2011, with sponsorship from Stanley Tools. Ambrose replaces Kasey Kahne, who will drive for Red Bull Racing next season before moving to Hendrick Motorsports in 2012.

The former Australian V8 Supercar champion announced last month that he would not return to JTG Daugherty Racing next season, and said his decision to join RPM will "eliminate any question marks I’ve got about stuff around me and people around me. Hopefully, we will jell together well. All you can ask is to put yourself in these opportunities. If I can get in Victory Lane... there will be no question marks left. It’s very, very simple.

"I never thought for one moment that I would ever have a friendship with The King or drive for him," said Ambrose. "It's a dream opportunity for me to solidify myself in NASCAR as a premier driver."

He said RPM offers an opportunity to succeed on all kinds of race tracks; something he lacks in his current ride. "We haven’t been fast enough (or) consistent enough on the intermediate ovals," he said. "That’s a primary reason why I thought I needed to make a change. I believe I’m as good as anybody out there and can win four championships just like Jimmie Johnson has done. Until you get to the point that you can prove or disprove what you’ve got, it’s very hard to be sure. We’ll find out in 2011.”

Ambrose said his is the latest in a series of announcements to come from the Petty camp in coming weeks. "I feel very secure in RPM and where they’re heading and the direction they’re taking. I’m just one of many good news stories that is going to come out of here in the next little while. (RPM is) definitely moving in the direction I want to head, and there’s no reason why we can’t be a major force in 2011."

His signing fills a second void in RPM's 2011 driver lineup, with two other slots still in doubt. AJ Allmendinger recently signed a two-year contract extension to remain in the #43 Ford, but both Kahne and Paul Menard are headed elsewhere in 2011 and Elliott Sadler said he has had no conversations with team officials about returning for next season.

Monday, August 16, 2010

GM Rep: Still No Plans For Camaro In NASCAR

Despite the positive buzz associated with the new Ford Mustang and Dodge Challenger NASCAR Nationwide Series cars, Chevrolet officials said yesterday they remain firm in their decision to keep the new Camaro out of NASCAR, at least for now.

NASCAR encouraged Chevrolet to utilize the Camaro in the Nationwide ranks, but the automaker declined, feeling the race version of the car would not look enough like the stock, street edition.

General Motors Racing Director Mark Kent reaffirmed that view yesterday, saying, “NASCAR expressed an interest in having the Camaro, and we looked very hard at running the Camaro in Nationwide. But we have two cars within the Chevy lineup that have iconic lines: the Camaro and Corvette. We didn't want to take away from that by forcing (the Camaro) into a car that didn't meet our requirements."

He said GM will continue to work with NASCAR on future models, and would like to see more brand identity, particularly when viewed from the side.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Chitwood New Boss At Daytona

Joie Chitwood III has been named President of Daytona International Speedway, effective immediately. He replaces Robin Braig, who spent the last eight years at the helm of the speedway. Chitwood previously served as Vice President of Business Operations for International Speedway Corporation, and was previously responsible for the day-to-day operations of Indianapolis Motor Speedway as President and Chief Operating Officer. Prior to that, he managed and oversaw the construction of Chicagoland Speedway.

“We are very fortunate to have a seasoned executive of Joie’s proven ability to step into this important position as President of Daytona International Speedway,” said ISC Chief Executive Officer Lesa France Kennedy. "Joie is highly respected throughout the industry and brings a lifetime of motorsports entertainment experience to Daytona. We will certainly benefit from his experience and knowledge of the motorsports industry which he has proved in his successful work over the years.

“I would also like to thank Robin for his passion and dedication to the speedway and to promoting motorsports. I wish him much success in his future endeavors.”

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Red Bull VP Jay Frye: "This Team's Not Going Anywhere."

Red Bull Racing Vice President and General Manager Jay Frye told Sirius NASCAR Radio’s Sirius Speedway with Dave Moody that there is no truth to rumors that Red Bull owner Dietrich Mateschitz may pull the plug on the team.

“There is a huge commitment from Austria to this program,” said Frye. “Red Bull came here in 2006 as an owner and a sponsor, and they have done everything right. It’s become a joke in our team meetings every month. I usually have to say, `Everything’s fine, don’t believe the rumors.’ I guess it’s a compliment that they’re talking about us, but it’s also bothersome.

"There is a long term commitment by Red Bull to doing this program," Frye said. "They want to win and compete at a high level. That’s their expectation, and we feel the same way. We still young with a ways to go, but getting a guy like Kasey Kahne -- even for one year -- makes us better. This team isn’t going anywhere.”

Frye also said that options exist for the team to field three Toyotas for Kasey Kahne, Brian Vickers and Scott Speed, if necessary. Vickers is still months away from knowing whether he will be able to return to the cockpitin 2011, and Frye confirmed that the team is still evaluating Speed's performance, before making a final decision on his status for next season.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Menard Jumps To RCR In 2011

Paul Menard made it official today, confirming that he will leave Richard Petty Motorsports at season’s end to drive for Richard Childress Racing in 2011.

The move will bring RCR back to the NASCAR-mandated maximum of four NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Chevrolets, after sclaing back to three cars this season due to lack of sponsorship. Menard called the decision “a no-brainer," and said he is looking forward to joining teammates Kevin Harvick, Jeff Burton and Clint Bowyer; all of whom are either qualified for or battling for a spot in the 2010 Chase. He is currently 23rd in championship points, with 51 top-10 finishes in 152 career Sprint Cup starts.

His decision is a blow for Richard Petty Motorsports, which is already set to lose lead driver Kasey Kahne at the end of this season. Elliott Sadler’s status remains uncertain, while AJ Allmendinger recently signed a contract extension that will keep him with the team through the 2012 campaign. RPM is believed to be close to a deal to put Marcos Ambrose in the #9 Fords next year.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Stremme Quits Latitude 43 Motorsports

David Stremme has quit his ride with Latitude 43 Motorsports, alleging that team owner Bill Jenkins has failed to meet his financial obligations and is doing little to help the team improve.

“We’ve been trying to put that program together,” said Stremme. “We always had to do more with less, but in the last month and a half, ownership hasn’t really wanted to make things better. Bill Jenkins has not been willing to make the correct decisions, and it has affected the performance of the team. We’ve barely been making it to track the last few weeks. At Pocono, we didn’t even know if we were going to have tires to race on.

“I went to Bill and said `If things aren’t going to change, I don’t think I want to stay involved.’ We discussed a timeline for him to find another driver and agreed that we would look at things again after Bristol. But he immediately started calling around trying to replace me. He apparently wanted to find someone else right now, and that’s fine. It’s his choice.”

Jenkins admitted his first-year team has struggled to find sponsorship this season, saying, “We are in a funding fight every day, and we haven’t been able to fund the team at the level David expected. We’ve had some good things happen, and some bad things. We had to pull a sponsor off the car two weeks ago (GTW GPS) after a conflict emerged between their products and Sprint. We were counting on them to help get us over the hump, but those are the bumps in the road that you hit.”

Last week, former Latitude 43 Motorsports driver Boris Said revealed that he is unhappy with the way he was treated by Jenkins. “There’s no real polite way to say this, but Bill Jenkins owes me a bunch of money,” he said. Asked if he expects to have any relationship with the team going forward, Said replied, “(Jenkins) hasn’t returned my phone calls, so I guess not. It's a bad deal for me.”

Asked if he is owed money by Latitude 43, Stremme said, “There are obligations to both me and the team that have not been met, and that was a big part of my decision to leave. I don’t want to be involved with something like that. I dealt with (Jenkins) with respect, and was straightforward with him at all times. I didn’t get that in return.”

Jenkins declined to discuss Said and Stremme’s allegations, saying, “I don’t agree with them at all, but I’m not going to pursue that in the press. It’s not the right place. The best thing for me to do at this point is to not preclude David from pursuing any future opportunities. I have all the respect in the world for him. He is a great guy and I wish him all the best.”

“I had a lot of fun working with Frank Stoddard and the guys on that team,” said Stremme. “They’re honest, hard-working guys, and they have accomplishing a lot with nothing. But we missed Indy and Pocono, and it was not getting any better. It got to the point where I wasn’t having fun, so it’s time to do something different.”

Jenkins said Latitude 43 will likely put Patrick Carpentier in the #26 Ford this weekend at Michigan International Speedway, and vowed to run every race for the remainder of the season. “We absolutely will complete for the rest of this year, in every race. We will not start and park. We are here to race.”

Stremme, meanwhile, said he will begin his search “for whatever comes next,” with no apologies for his time with Latitude 43. “I was trying to make the team better,” he said, “but I don’t think the owner is trying. He has two investors he’s brought in, and they’re getting a bad taste of NASCAR because of the way things are being done.”

Monday, August 09, 2010

Papis Out, Mears In GEICO Toyota At Atlanta: Mad Max To Trucks In 2011

Sirius Speedway has learned that Casey Mears will replace Max Papis in the #13 Germain Racing GEICO Sprint Cup Series Toyota, beginning at Atlanta Motor Speedway September 5.

Speaking on the condition of anonymity, a source close to the team said the deal should be complete and contracts signed within the next 48 hours. The car will “start and park” at both Michigan and Bristol with drivers TBA, before Mears takes over at Atlanta. He will also drive the car in the full 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series schedule.

Papis will run the full NASCAR Camping World Truck Series slate next season in a GEICO-sponsored Toyota, also out of the Germain Racing stable. Papis has also been tabbed to drive Kevin Harvick, Inc.’s #33 Nationwide Series Chevrolet at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal later this month. “Mad Max” won the inaugural race at the Montreal course and is also a former winner on the road course at Watkins Glen.

The Trouble With Junior

Dale Earnhardt, Jr. fans, it wasn’t supposed to be like this.

After an abysmal 2009 campaign that saw him finish 25th in points while his Hendrick Motorsports teammates claimed the top three spots in the championship standings, 2010 was supposed be a season of vindication for the man known simply as “Junior.” Team owner Rick Hendrick made “fixing the 88 team” his number-one offseason project, and when the AMP Energy/National Guard Chevrolet began the season with a runner-up finish in the Daytona 500, it looked like he had made good on that promise.

Since then, however, it’s been one long, downward spiral for NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver. With just four races remaining until the 2010 Chase field is set, it’s becoming clear that Earnhardt will once again be on the outside, looking in. With just two Top-5 and six Top-10 finishes in 22 starts this season, he left Watkins Glen 16th in points; 121 behind 12th place Mark Martin. Based on the performance of his #88 team lately, it’s an insurmountable deficit.

A month ago, there seemed to be a chance. Back-to-back Top-10 finishes at New Hampshire and Daytona provided a brief infusion of momentum and inspired hope that Earnhardt and crewchief Lance McGrew could rally the troops for a late drive to the Chase. Ignore the fact that his Daytona finish came only after a late-race melee eliminated a dozen cars and elevated him from the mid-teens to fourth. A lackluster 23rd at Chicagoland brought the team back to earth, and was followed by 27th-place showings at Indianapolis and Pocono and a woeful 26th last week at Watkins Glen after qualifying 40th.

“We’re not a good race team,” said Earnhardt recently, voicing an opinion the rest of NASCAR Nation adopted some time ago.

How things have changed since the start of the season, when Earnhardt expressed confidence, optimism and an air of bravado that energized his fan base. "Our goal is to win as many races as we can, win a championship, challenge for the championship," said Earnhardt at the time. "I think anything less than three (wins) this year, I'd be a little disappointed."

Disappointment doesn’t begin to describe it.

Earnhardt drove like a beaten man Sunday, calling his car “the worst I have ever driven." He jousted feebly with drivers like Travis Kvapil, David Gilliland and Regan Smith; all of whom have a tiny fraction of his financing, manpower and resources at their disposal. He looked like a man counting the days until another nightmare season can be put in the rearview mirror, not the man who vowed before a fawning SpeedWeek crowd to be “ruthless from the first lap to the last."

Diehard Earnhardt fans insist that his 16th-place championship standing is nine positions better than a year ago. And that, they say, qualifies as progress. But when your name is Earnhardt, “better” isn’t good enough. Nothing short of “best” will do.

A long line of scapegoats has walked the plank on Earnhardt’s behalf in recent seasons. It began with Teresa Earnhardt, the Evil Stepmother who refused to provide him with the resources necessary to win. The DEI engine department took its share of the blame after a slew of motor failures prevented Junior from taking his rightful place at the head of the NASCAR class. Tony Eury, Jr., was pilloried for his inability to provide Earnhardt with winning racecars, much the way McGrew is criticized today. Even Hendrick himself is now subject to scrutiny, as fans wonder how their driver can continue to struggle so horribly.

"I don't really put a whole lot of pressure on myself,” said Earnhardt once. “I've already accomplished more and gotten further in the sport than I ever dreamed." And on that point, perhaps he is correct.

Perhaps there’s nothing wrong with being a 12th to 15th-place driver at the highest level of the sport, even if your name is Earnhardt. Perhaps it’s okay to be a two-time NASCAR Nationwide Series champion, rather than a seven-time Sprint Cup king.

Maybe the problem isn’t Dale Earnhardt, Jr., after all.

Maybe the problem is us, and our expectations.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Golly, What Could It Mean??

The Kentucky Speedway website now includes a not-so-subtle hint on what Monday's Press Conference might be about.

CONFIRMED: Atlanta Motor Speedway To Lose Sprint Cup Race In 2011

Officials at Atlanta Motor Speedway confirmed today what Sirius Speedway first told you back on the 29th of June; that the track will host only one NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race in 2011.

Atlanta will retain its fall race weekend on September 2-4, with its other date going to another Speedway Motorsports, Inc. facility; reportedly Kentucky Speedway. SMI will hold a press conference Monday at Kentucky, and Chairman Bruton Smith said this week that he is confident that the track will be on the 2001 Sprint Cup Series schedule.

Atlanta Motor Speedway has a pair of Sprint Cup events each year for more than half a century. Track President Ed Clark said of the move, "Atlanta Motor speedway has provided top-quality racing entertainment to spectators from across the nation and around the world for 50 years. While our schedule will change, our commitment to the racing fans who have been the heart and soul of Atlanta Motor Speedway through these years will be stronger than ever. Our entire staff will be even more driven to produce the top annual sporting event in Georgia for many years to come."

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Former Owner: Ambrose Return Down-Under Is "Real Long Shot."

Marcos Ambrose says he still has no deal in place to remain in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series next season, but his former Australian V8 Supercar team owner told a Brisbane (AUS) newspaper that Ambrose is unlikely to return to his native Australia and is close to signing with another NASCAR team.

Sirius Speedway first reported on July 27 that Ambrose was close to a deal to drive the #9 Ford for Richard Petty Motorsports in 2011. Ambrose insists that no deal is imminent with RPM or anyone else, but his Australian media manager, Mark Walker, seemed to confirm the Sirius Speedway report this week. “The hot tip is that he could sign with Richard Petty Motorsports replacing Kasey Kahne or Elliott Sadler,” said Walker. “We'll be talking about it in the next couple of weeks.”

Ambrose won the 2003 and 2004 Australian V8 Supercar championships with Stone Brothers Racing, and team manager Ross Stone told the Brisbane Courier-Mail it is “highly unlikely” that his former driver will race down under next season. “I believe he's close to signing with another team (in the United States),” said Stone. “I'm going over in two weeks and I'm pretty sure the next deal is done over there. I think (Ambrose returning to Australia) is a real long shot.”

Allmendinger Re-Ups With Richard Petty Motorsports

Sirius NASCAR Radio’s Sirius Speedway with Dave Moody has learned that Richard Petty Motorsports will announce later this week that AJ Allmendinger has signed a new contract to remain with the team through the 2012 season.

The two-year pact was finalized earlier this week, with an official announcement to come on Friday at Watkins Glen International. A Richard Petty Motorsports spokesman confirmed that a press conference will be held Friday at 10 AM in the Watkins Glen Media Center, but declined to comment on the specifics of the announcement.

Allmendinger is currently ranked 22nd in Sprint Cup Series points with a pole and three Top-10 finishes this season, coming off a 24th place showing last weekend at Pocono Raceway. His signing frees the team to ramp-up negotiations with current sponsor Best Buy, which reportedly underwent a change in upper management recently and has not yet finalized its plans for the 2011 NASCAR season.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Said: Latitude 43 "A Bad Deal For Me."

Boris Said says he does not expect to drive the #26 Latitude 43 Motorsports Fords again this season. Said will drive the #83 Red Bull Racing Toyota in Sunday’s Heluva Good! Sour Cream Dips at The Glen, and told Sirius NASCAR Radio’s Sirius Speedway with Dave Moody, “There’s no real polite way to say this, but (team owner) Bill Jenkins owes me a bunch of money. I got a better offer from Red Bull, so I took it.”

Asked if he expects to have any relationship with Latitude 43 Motorsports going forward, Said replied, “(Jenkins) hasn’t returned my phone calls all week, so I guess not. It's a bad deal for me, but it's a great deal for David Stremme. He's a good racer and a nice guy, so I hope it works out for him."

Sources: NASCAR Nationwide Series Schedule Could Drop As Low As 30 Races In 2011

Sirius NASCAR Radio’s Sirius Speedway with Dave Moody has learned that the NASCAR Nationwide Series schedule could include as few as 30 races next season, a dramatic drop from the current slate of 35 events. NASCAR is expected to announce the 2011 schedules for its top three national series’ in the next 3-4 weeks, and its appears that the total number of races will drop to between 30 and 32. NASCAR President Mike Helton said recently that the idea of a reduced Nationwide Series schedule “has been bounced around. Obviously, there's players that have to be talked to in regards to that,” said Helton, “(including) Nationwide, ESPN, promoters and the competitors. There's a lot of movement going on in the three national series this year, trying to sort it all out."

Reliable sources say Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California will lose its February NASCAR race weekend to Kansas Speedway in 2011, eliminating that race from the Nationwide schedule. Gateway International Raceway announced recently that it will not host any Nationwide or Truck Series events next year -- trimming two more events from the Nationwide schedule – while sister track Nashville Superspeedway experienced extremely poor attendance at both of its races this season, putting at least one of its 2011 dates in jeopardy.

There are options to replace at least some of the lost events, if NASCAR chooses to do so. Iowa Speedway Vice President Craig Armstrong said this week that while his track has not formally requested a second NASCAR Nationwide Series race for 2011, he would take one if asked. "If a second race is offered to us, we will certainly consider it,” said Armstrong. “It is entirely NASCAR's decision, and we respect that."

In addition to a shorter schedule, expect a number of venue and date changes next season. Officials at Indianapolis Motor Speedway say they may ask NASCAR to move the Nationwide Series date currently belonging to O'Reilly Raceway Park to IMS next season, in an attempt to boost flagging attendance for their Brickyard 400 weekend. It initially appeared that New Hampshire Motor Speedway’s June NASCAR date might move to Las Vegas Motor Speedway in 2011, but sources say that move has now been tabled until at least 2012, keeping the Nationwide Series in the Granite State for at least another year. There is also a possibility of weeknight racing on both the Nationwide and Camping World Truck Series’ in 2011.

Monday, August 02, 2010

COMMENTARY: Pocono Crash Shows There's Still Room For Improvement

NASCAR has made great strides in recent seasons to ensure the safety of its drivers. The sanctioning body’s new Sprint Cup Series car is a quantum leap forward in terms of safety, with a larger driver’s compartment and impact absorbing door foam among the most obvious improvements. Major advances in seat technology have further safeguarded the athletes, as have the HANS and Hutchens devices. Speedways hosting events in NASCAR top three national series have all installed SAFER barriers on their outside retaining walls, providing an impact absorbing surface where before there was immovable concrete and steel.

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series teams are not allowed to “pick and choose” when it comes to safety. Their cars are constructed according to a strict series of safety guidelines, with seats, helmets, firesuits and other driver safety apparel also checked by NASCAR on a regular basis. HANS devices are mandatory, not recommended.

Unfortunately, NASCAR has not always held its host speedways to the same high standard. While all tracks in the Sprint Cup, Nationwide and Camping World Truck Series have installed SAFER barriers on their outside walls, a few -– Pocono Raceway among them -– have lagged behind when it comes to protecting drivers from inside wall contact. Elliott Sadler’s horrifying crash Sunday provided graphic proof that there is room for improvement.

"I'm a little sore from where the belts grabbed me,” said Sadler in the aftermath of a crash that saw him hurdle head-on into an immovable steel ARMCO barrier (backed with tons of earth) at over 160 mph. The impact tore the engine from his US Air Force Ford and demolished the car from the firewall forward. “It knocked the breath out of me pretty good,” said Sadler, who has been upside-down twice at Talladega in recent seasons. “It's definitely the hardest hit I've ever had in a race car.”

Drivers have long been critical of the grassy runoff areas and ARMCO barriers lining the inside of Pocono’s backstretch. As far back as 2001, drivers decried the dangerous conditions there, after drivers Steve Park and Dale Earnhardt, Jr., rode out a savage encounter with the antiquated Pocono steel. “He slammed into that damn guard rail,” said crewchief Todd Parrott after Sadler’s crash. “But the car obviously did its job. I just walked out of the infield care center with a guy that four or five years ago wouldn’t have lived through the wreck. Elliott is a very lucky man from everything I can see.”

Last month, Pocono president Brandon Igdalsky announced plans to add inside SAFER barriers at the track in time for the 2011 season. “We’re making the changes,” said Igdalsky. “We announced in June we were making the changes, and that’s all there is to it. We know it’s something that’s outdated and we’re stepping up and making the changes like we need to do.”

Unfortunately, Pocono is not the only track with room for improvement. Talladega, Daytona, Las Vegas and many other Sprint Cup Series venues still afford drivers an opportunity to hit immovable concrete walls at high speed. Perhaps it’s time for that situation to change.

Elliott Sadler’s crash proved just how far NASCAR has come in terms of safety. It also showed that there is still some work to do.

Silly Season Now Underway In Earnest

Kasey Kahne kicked off the 2011 edition of NASCAR Sprint Cup Silly Season more than a month ago, announcing that he will leave Richard Petty Motorsports at season’s end to fill an as-yet-unnamed seat in 2011, before replacing Mark Martin at the wheel of the #5 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet the following year. Now, a number of other dominos are beginning to fall.

Rick Hendrick said last week that he intends to honor the final year of Martin's contract, but would not rule out Kahne driving the #5 Chevrolet next season. "If I tell you what I will do, (then) do something different because I haven't thought about it, you'll think I lied to you,” said Hendrick last week. “I'm keeping all options open (and) trying to make everybody happy.” Martin has repeatedly stated that he will return to the #5 car next season, and Hendrick said of Martin’s status, “Right now it's his seat and it's his call. Mark has made a heck of a contribution to our organization and I wish he could drive four or five more years."

He also apologized publically to Martin for igniting a storm of speculation about Martin’s future that has angered the veteran driver. "It pissed Mark off, and I take 100 percent (of the blame). I never signed a driver this early and you've got to make everything fit with the sponsors and everything else. It's a very complicated deal, (but) I've got ideas and I want to make it best for everybody involved.''

Marcos Ambrose announced last week that he will leave JTG Daugherty Racing at the end of the 2010 campaign. "After five years, I personally felt it was time for a change,” said Ambrose. “We haven’t had the year we wanted to have, and I felt stale in what we were doing. I don’t want to impede JTG’s progress. I want to get out of their way and let them transition to their next driver with plenty of time left this year.” Ambrose said he has no “Plan B” in place for 2011 and could even return to his native Australia if another Sprint Cup opportunity does not surface, but multiple sources say a deal with Richard Petty Motorsports is nearly complete to put the popular Aussie in the #9 Ford next season, replacing Kahne.

Ford Racing Marketing Manager Tim Duerr declined to comment specifically on the report, but said the automaker has longstanding ties with Ambrose. “Marcos started with Ford and Ford brought him to NASCAR,” said Duerr. “He bleeds Ford blue, and we would love to see him back in a Ford next season. I don’t think that Marcos has a signed Sprint Cup ride for next season at present. It all depends on him, a sponsor and a team putting something together, but I am optimistic that we will see Marcos back in a Ford next season.”

A spokesman for Richard Petty Motorsports declined to comment, calling the report “speculation.”

Bobby Labonte will replace Ambrose at JTG Daugherty next season, after finalizing a deal with the team last week. Ambrose says he expects to finish the season in the #47 Toyota, but would step aside early, if asked to do so.

RPM has three additional holes to fill, with drivers AJ Allmendinger, Paul Menard and Elliott Sadler all in the final year of their respective contracts. Sadler has said he does not expect to be a part of the team’s lineup next season, though RPM Executive Director of Racing Operations Robbie Loomis said recently that Sadler is still on the team’s list of potential drivers for 2011.

Allmendinger, meanwhile, is believed to be close to a new, multi-year deal that will keep him in the team’s legendary #43 Ford in 2011 and beyond. “I have had some great conversations with the people here at Richard Petty Motorsports, and with other organizations,” said Allmendinger. “I’m confident that I’ll have something to announce in the fairly near future.”

Menard also has multiple options for next season. Richard Childress said this week that he is “looking at” the possibility of expanding to a four-car Sprint Cup operation again next year, after being forced to downsize to three cars when a sponsor could not be found to retain Casey Mears for 2010. He refused to comment on the possibility of signing Menard, but admitted that a fourth team is once again possible, pending sponsorship. Menard obviously comes fully sponsored, and is reportedly negotiating with both RCR and RPM.

Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing is working hard to sign Jamie McMurray to a new contract. The Daytona 500 and Brickyard 400 winner signed a one-year deal with EGR during the offseason after leaving Roush-Fenway Racing, and when asked if he hoped to sign McMurray to a new, long-term pact, team owner Chip Ganassi joked, "I'm going to fire him. What do you think?" Bass Pro Shops founder Johnny Morris has said that he is happy with both McMurray and the team, and expects the company to return as sponsor next season.

Finally, Red Bull Racing General Manager Jay Frye says a decision on the future of driver Scott Speed will be announced within the next month. Speed is currently ranked outside the Top 25 in championship points, with only two Top-10 finishes this season. Sources close to the team say the former Formula One driver has been informed that he must produce tangible results soon to save his job.

Frye admitted unhappiness with Speed’s performance recently, saying, "We need to perform. We need to do better. We started the year off pretty strong, (but) we kind of regressed.” Asked about his contract status, Speed said, "I don't know if I'm allowed to talk about it.”

Sunday, August 01, 2010

SMI Expected To Announce Kentucky Sprint Cup Race August 10

Speedway Motorsports, Inc. CEO Bruton Smith said this week that a “big press conference” is scheduled for August 10 at Kentucky Speedway. Sources tell Sirius Speedway that the track will announce that the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series will compete at the Sparta oval next season.

Smith declined to discuss the specifics of the announcement, telling reporters, "Don’t try to get me to hold that press conference now. We’ll have a lot of things to announce when we’re there; lots of the changes that we’re making." Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear and former NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Darrell Waltrip -- both leading players in the construction of the speedway -- are expected to be in attendance, as is former track owner Jerry Carroll.

Carroll also declined to confirm a 2011 Sprint Cup race in advance of the official announcement, but said, "If Bruton Smith is coming all the way up here and the governor is coming all the way up here, they’re not going to tell people bad news. Figure it from there."

NASCAR Vice President Steve O'Donnell confirmed last month that SMI has requested that NASCAR relocate at least one of its races next season, and last week at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, NASCAR Chairman France said the 2011 schedule should be announced within the next two weeks. Kentucky Speedway would be the first new addition to the schedule since the Chicagoland and Kansas Speedways in 2001.

Multiple sources tell Sirius Speedway that a second race will be transferred from Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California to Kansas Speedway next season; both International Speedway Corporation properties. ISC will reportedly not be able to add a second Sprint Cup date at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, however, after NASCAR was unable to coordinate multiple date and venue changes to the satisfaction of all parties. That move will reportedly wait for at least another year, with SMI
transfering a single date from Atlanta Motor Speedway to Kentucky in 2011.

That would be good news to fans at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, who have been bracing for the possible loss of a race to Las Vegas.