Monday, January 31, 2011

Bryan Berry To Germain Racing As Gaughan's Crewchief

Bryan Berry has left Tri-Star Motorsports to take a new position as crewchief for Brendan Gaughan’s #62 Germain Racing/South Point Hotel and Casino Toyota on the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series.

Berry and Gaughan have a long history together, with at least three different stints as driver and crewchief. Berry sat atop Gaughan’s pit box at South Point Racing beginning in 2006, and later replaced Tony “Rambo” Liberati in the crewchief’s role, accompanying Gaughan to Circle Bar Racing and then to the NASCAR Nationwide Series with Rusty Wallace Racing.

Gaughan commented on the move today, saying, “I’m extremely happy that the Hillmans chose to reunite me with Bryan Berry. This is definitely our best chance to win together. It should also help us get up to speed faster. We all know that sometimes my car descriptions sound a little odd. Bryan already understands what I’m saying, which should be a huge help.”

Friday, January 28, 2011

Jason White To Team With Lottery Winner For NCWTS Chase

Sirius NASCAR Radio’s Sirius Speedway with Dave Moody has learned that Jason White will run a full championship schedule on the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series this season in Chevrolets fielded by the new Joe Denette Motorsports team, with sponsorship from

Denette’s is a true Cinderella story. A lifelong race fan, the Spotsylvania County resident won $75.6 million in the Virginia Lottery's Mega Millions jackpot on May 1, 2009, just four months after being laid off from his job with a home building company. He opted for a lump-sum cash payout of $47.8 million, and immediately began investigating ways to become more closely involved with his favorite sport.

With the assistance of fellow Virginian Hermie Sadler, Denette began assembling a NASCAR Camping World Truck Series team. “Joe has always wanted to own a NASCAR team, and now he has the resources to do it,” said Sadler. “He came to me for help getting things organized, and we were able to forge a technical alliance with Kevin Harvick, Inc. to build the team’s trucks.”

After finishing 10th in Truck Series points a year ago, Jason White will bring his sponsorship to the team this season, running the full championship schedule. The possibility exists for a second truck in a limited number of events, with a driver to be named later. The team will field its trucks out of the Tri-Star Motorsports Nationwide Series shop in Mooresville, NC. White was unavailable for comment today, but the team is expected to announce its 2011 plans Tuesday.

No Points Swap For Waltrip; TRG Motorsports To Run Full Cup Schedule

Sirius NASCAR Radio’s Sirius Speedway with Dave Moody has learned that Michael Waltrip will be forced to qualify for the 2011 Daytona 500 on speed, after a potential transfer of owner points from TRG Motorsports did not materialize earlier this week. Waltrip will drive a special, black-and-blue NAPA Auto Parts Toyota as he attempts to qualify for the 53rd running of the “Great American Race;” making his 25th consecutive start in the Sprint Cup Series season-opener.

The #71 TRG Motorsports Chevrolets finished 35th in Sprint Cup owner points a year ago, securing a guaranteed starting spot in the first five races of this season. TRG owner Kevin Buckler told Sirius Speedway that his team is geared up to run the entire 2011 championship schedule, and will announce a driver and sponsor lineup next week. “We took a huge leap by jumping into the Sprint Cup Series in this down economy,” he said. “Our goal for the first year was simply to survive, and we did. We showed improvement last season, and this year, we hope to be even stronger.

“I want to prove that the NASCAR model still works; that a guy like me can get involved at the highest level of the sport and build his program gradually over the course of four or five years. We’re not ready to win races yet. In fact, my goal for 2011 is to occupy the middle of the field. But we’re getting there.”

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Drivers Need Not Be Bribed To Win

Not everyone is happy with NASCAR Chairman Brian France’s Wednesday announcement of a new championship point system for NASCAR’s three national series. Truthfully, no system could ever pacify all of NASCAR’s competitors, media members and fans. It’s too diverse a group to ever think – or react – with one mind.

Some have embraced France’s new system, feeling that it honors consistency while still paying a premium for race wins. Others are more critical, complaining that a maximum six-point differential between first and second place is not nearly enough. It’s an honorable debate, and as is usually the case in matters of pure opinion, there are no right or wrong answers.

However, the notion being put forth by some observers that NASCAR should somehow bribe drivers into “trying harder” by heaping huge mountains of points and cash upon race winners is ludicrous. Worse, it is insulting to the drivers. It assumes that Johnson, Harvick, Hamlin and company aren’t giving their all in the pursuit of victory every single week; a premise that holds not a single drop of water.

Some would have you believe that with five laps to go, drivers engage in an internal dialogue along the lines of, “Gee, I really should try to pass the car in front of me and win this race. But it’s risky, and I’m afraid something bad might happen. Maybe I’ll just ride back here and be happy with second place.”

Nothing could be further from the truth.

Drivers don’t advance to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series by settling for second place, or satisfying themselves with “a good points day.” From their earliest starts in go-karts and quarter midgets, drivers like Carl Edwards, Jeff Gordon and Kasey Kahne have been driven to finish first. They’ve spent decades striving for nothing less than complete and total domination, with a “damn the torpedoes” attitude that now leaves them little time for tallying up the potential points at 195 mph.

“It’s crazy,” said former Daytona 500 champion Michael Waltrip today. “Never in my life did I think about finishing behind a guy I thought I could pass. I’m a racer. I want to win, and I don’t care how many points – or how much money – it pays. Winning is the only thing that matters. It’s the only thing that has ever mattered.” Four-time Series champion Jeff Gordon concurred, saying, “No matter what the points, we're gonna race the same. We're gonna race to win."

Don’t believe them? Walk up to Tony Stewart or Kyle Busch after their next runner-up finish and ask if they would have tried harder with more money on the line. Then be prepared to duck and cover.

Since the days when stock car racing was confined to the sands of Daytona Beach and red clay ovals from coast to coast, winning has been the lynch pin of the sport. Winning pays the most money. Winners get to kiss the Trophy Queen and receive the glowing headlines in Monday morning’s newspaper. Winning regularly is also the shortest, most efficient route to the championship under virtually any sane system..

Winning is its own reward, no matter what the naysayers might have you believe.

Edwards Exhausted!

You've got to like the new, exhaust-tip graphics on the rear bumper of Carl Edwards' #99 Aflac Ford. Expect to see identical graphics on all the Ford entries this season!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

France: New NASCAR Point System Rewards Both Consistency and Wins

NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France made it official Wednesday evening, confirming that the sanctioning body will implement a new, simplified point system and a modified Chase for the Sprint Cup in 2011.

"Fans tell us that winning matters the most, so we're combining the tradition of consistency in our sport with the excitement that comes along with winning," said France. "This makes every race count, leading into the 26th race of the season at Richmond when we set the field for the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup."

Under the new system, Sprint Cup Series race winners will receive 43 points, with the runner-up receiving 42 and the third-place finisher 41. The last place finisher in each event will receive a single point. Winners will be awarded three bonus points, with one additional point awarded for leading a lap and leading the most laps. Under the new system, race winners can earn as many as 48 points, with no one else capable of tallying more than 45. The new point system will be used in all three of NASCAR’s national series.

"Many of our most loyal fans don't fully understand the points system we have used to date," said France. "So we are simplifying the points system to one that is much easier to understand. Conceptually, it is comparable to our previous system, but easier to follow."

France also announced fundamental changes to the 2011 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. The 2011 Chase will once again feature 12 drivers, but only the Top-10 in championship points after 26 races will advance automatically. The other two Chase spots will be filled by the drivers outside the Top-10 who have accumulated the most regular-season wins, provided they rank in the Top-20 in points. The Chase field will be once again be “seeded” following Race 26 based on wins, with each driver receiving three bonus points for each regular-season victory. The point leader following Race 26 will receive no special consideration.

France also confirmed that beginning this season, drivers in NASCAR’s three national series will be required to choose the championship for which they will compete. There will be no restriction on how many races a driver can run, or where, and they will still be allowed to earn points toward each series’ respective owner’s championship.

Other changes announced Wednesday include a new qualifying procedure that will set each week’s qualifying order on practice speeds, with the fastest cars qualifying last. If qualifying falls victim to rain, the final starting lineup will be determined by practice speeds. If weather cancels both practice and qualifying, the starting lineup will be set by driver points.

France also commented on the caliber of competition in 2010, saying the sanctioning body “enters 2011 with positive momentum and a great sense of excitement and optimism. We believe our fans are in store for some of the best racing the sport has to offer."

Evernham Blasts Bailout Owners

Former Evernham Motorsports owner Ray Evernham told Sirius NASCAR Radio’s Sirius Speedway with Dave Moody Tuesday that he is troubled by the ability of NASCAR team owners to pull up stakes and leave the sport without paying their bills.

While never identifying former partner George Gillett by name, Evernham said, “When a company goes out of business or leaves without paying people, it’s not just drivers and crewchiefs (who are affected). There are tons of other people who get hurt. People are allowed to fly back to their lives on private jets, drink champagne and (go) skiing, while other people are left trying to figure out how to put food on the table. That kind of pisses me off."

While Evernham declined to comment on the late-2010 turmoil that surrounded the team now known as Richard Petty Motorsports, sources close to the situation say Gillett effectively walked away from the operation with more than a month remaining, leaving minority owner Richard Petty to keep the team afloat on his own. Petty was eventually able to assemble a new ownership group that includes Medallion Financial President Andrew Murstein and DGB Investments CEO Douglas Bergeron. Gillett now has no ownership stake in the team.

“It’s a shame that there are a lot of really good people who are owed a heck of a lot of money,” said Evernham. “The press releases go out talking about how great everyone is doing now, but that’s not totally true. There are a lot of people who have been left holding the bag, and a lot of people out of work.

“All you can do is hope that what goes around comes around, and that the legal system -- or karma -- takes care of it at some point.”

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

NASCAR Must Join The Digital Revolution

There is a lost generation of NASCAR fans out there; a millions-strong group of men and women who have failed to embrace a sport that continues to captivate their parents and grandparents.

Males between the ages of 18 and 34 were once one of NASCAR’s strongest demographics. Now, multiple studies indicate that young men are no longer spending Sunday afternoons glued to their televisions, watching NASCAR Sprint Cup Series racing. Has that vital demographic truly abandoned NASCAR? Or have they simply discovered ways to access the sport using new technologies that are not measured by traditional yardsticks like the Nielsen TV Ratings?

In this writer’s humble opinion, if NASCAR is looking for its “lost generation” of male race fans, they’ll have to find them online.

The explosion of digital technology in recent years has given fans new choices in how they access the sport. Most televisions sold today are wifi capable, allowing viewers to cruise their favorite websites and pull NASCAR programming and information directly from the internet. Cell phones can also access the worldwide web, putting up-to-the-minute statistics, race results and live streaming video at our fingertips at any time of the day or night. Satellite radio allows motorists to enjoy an entire race – from green to checkers – without the interruptions and terrain-related signal fade that plague traditional terrestrial radio.

With all that new technology at their disposal, many fans now choose to DVR each weekend’s race for later viewing. Others choose to monitor the race on their computer or cell phone, while others are content to watch a Monday morning highlight package on television or the internet.

Sadly, NASCAR’s ability to respond to these changing habits has been handcuffed by two ill-conceived (though well meaning) contracts. The sanctioning body’s long-term pact with Turner Sports has confined all NASCAR-branded internet programming to Turner’s website. Turner has done little with that monopoly, offering fans a meager helping of live race coverage, consisting mostly of its real-time “NASCAR Track Pass” statistics package.

The Turner contract prevents any of NASCAR’s television partners from streaming their race coverage online. It also prevents the sport’s radio broadcast partners – Motor Racing Network, Performance Racing Network and Sirius/XM Radio – from offering an online listening option to their listeners. Sirius/XM is even prevented from offering its weekday NASCAR talk shows online – including one hosted by this writer -- despite repeated good-faith attempts to negotiate such a deal with Turner.

NASCAR’s contract with Sprint also hasn’t helped. While Sprint’s revolutionary Fan View technology has been a boon to fans at the race track, the company has been less aggressive in providing options for fans not in attendance. Worse, other cellular providers are prohibited from providing virtually any form of NASCAR Sprint Cup Series coverage to their subscribers.

That must change if NASCAR is to take its rightful place in today’s digital society.

The need for a new-age NASCAR media plan was never more apparent than during last week’s Sprint Cup Series test at Daytona International Speedway. SPEED-TV covered the action live, but most fans were unable to tune into the weekday afternoon telecasts while at work. For the first time, however, the network also offered live streaming coverage at, and fans took advantage of that online option in staggering numbers; enough to crash the network’s server on at least one occasion.

The message was clear and unmistakable. NASCAR fans are clamoring for more and better ways to enjoy their favorite sport online; just like they can the National Football League, National Basketball Association, Major League Baseball and the National Hockey League. It is up to NASCAR to clear the way.

The sport’s current contracts run through the 2014 season, but NASCAR cannot afford to wait that long to make an important series of changes. It’s time for the sanctioning body to get tough with both Turner and Sprint, demanding concessions and the modification of existing contracts to better serve fans that are no longer willing to remain glued to the boob tube for four hours, or more.

While NASCAR missed the boat in anticipating the digital revolution, efforts are underway to begin the process of catching up. That’s the good news. An immediate, multi-faceted outreach program is needed to recapture the 18-34 male demographic, before they truly become the “lost generation” of NASCAR fans.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Ken Squier and Dave Moody To Announce New Smyrna ACT Events

The American Canadian Tour (ACT) announced today that Motorsports Hall of Famer and former CBS Senior Motorsports Editor Ken Squier will join Motor Racing Network (MRN) and Sirius NASCAR Radio host Dave Moody at the ACT Goodyear Speedweeks Cup events in Florida next month.

Squier, founder and co-owner of Thunder Road Speedbowl in Barre, VT has been synonymous with Daytona Speedweeks since the 1960’s. He was the public address announcer for many years beginning in 1965, and co-founded the Motor Racing Network. He may be most recognized as the person responsible for brokering the CBS television network's first ever live broadcast of the 1979 Daytona 500.

Squier still is active in short track racing and is behind the microphone for many weekly races at Thunder Road. He will continue his work with SPEED next month, bringing historic insight to viewers during 2011 Speedweek events at Daytona. He will also call the first-ever ACT event at the New Smyrna Speedway on Sunday night, February 13.

Moody was the voice of both ACT and Thunder Road for over 25 years. He began his announcing career while still in college and set a national standard for weekly announcing and touring series contests. He was responsible in large part for helping the NASCAR North and the ACT Touring Series become two of the premier touring circuits in the United States and Canada.

Moody is now a senior member of the Motor Racing Network and has become one of the most familiar voices in motorsports as host of Sirius Speedway; a live, daily motorsports talk show on Sirius/XM Radio. He will assume the New Smyrna Speedway announcing duties for the Monday night 100-lap feature event on February 14.

“This certainly adds another dimension to our first-ever Florida visit. Being able to have Ken and Dave leave their duties at Daytona and join us in New Smyrna is really special for our organization,” said Tom Curley, President of the American Canadian Tour. “Both Ken and Dave have been essential ingredients to the success we have enjoyed at both Thunder Road and on our various tours over the past three-plus decades. I know our teams will appreciate their participation at New Smyrna, and the real benefactors will be the fans. It should be a lot of fun both Sunday and Monday night,” concluded Curley.

The first ACT Goodyear Speedweeks Cup will qualify through heats on Sunday, February 13, followed by 100 laps of green flag racing. The field will be inverted for the second 100-lap event on Monday, February 14. The competitor with the best over-all finish in the two events will win the Goodyear Speedweeks Cup and the lion’s share of $36,655.00 in posted awards.

Post time for the World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing is 7:30 each night.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Notes From The Daytona Notebook

NASCAR confirmed today that beginning this season, drivers will be required to declare in which of the three national series they want to earn championship points.

The move will prevent drivers like defending series champion Brad Keselowski and Carl Edwards from contending for the Nationwide Series title while still earning Sprint Cup points. NASCAR President Mike Helton said the move was made in an attempt to set both the Nationwide and Camping World Truck Series apart from Sprint Cup. He said both Keselowski and Edwards asked that the current system be maintained for an additional year, with NASCAR electing instead to make the change for the 2011 campaign.

Helton also said the sanctioning body has not made a decision concerning possible changes to the championship point systems for the 2011 Sprint Cup, Nationwide and Camping World Truck Series. He admitted, however, that the move is receiving serious consideration in an attempt to make those championships simpler for fans to understand. NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France is expected to announce the sanctioning body’s final decision next Wednesday.

Testing All Wet:Today’s scheduled NASCAR Sprint Cup Series test at Daytona International Speedway has been dogged by rain, with periodic showers confining this morning’s on-track action to jet dryers and safety equipment.

The forecast for this afternoon is not encouraging, but cars did make it on-track for the first time at approximately 1:30 PM ET. There has been no official word on reports that NASCAR could push today’s test into the evening hours, under the lights. Testing is scheduled to end with an eight-hour session from 9 AM to 5 PM, weather permitting.

No Injection: NASCAR Vice President of Competition Robin Pemberton revealed that the switch to fuel injection will not take place this season, as planned. Unconfirmed reports had the changeover from carburetors to fuel injection coming in time for the June 5 Sprint Cup race at Kansas Speedway, but Pemberton said, "We've made some great strides in the last 60 days or so, (but) we don't anticipate any points races this year with fuel injection. (This) will be a year dedicated to fine-tuning and getting the process down, whether it be inspection, or the team side of it with building engines. That's going along quite well.''

Front Row Announces Lineup: Travis Kvapil and David Gilliland will return to the Front Row Motorsports NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Fords this season. Kvapil will drive the #34 Long John Silver's Ford, with David Gilliland in the #38 Taco Bell Ford. A third car will complete in selected events with a driver to be announced.

The team has named Derrick Finley Competition Director, with Bill Henderson signing on as crewchief for Kvapil’s #34 team. Finley has worked for Dale Earnhardt Inc., Bill Davis Racing and Petty Enterprises in previous seasons, while Henderson’s resume includes stints at PRISM Motorsports and FitzBradshaw Racing.

Front Row will begin using FR9 engines from Roush-Yates Racing Engines this season and has upgraded its stable with 34 race cars purchased from Richard Petty Motorsports.

It is not known how today's announcement will impact Kvapil's rumored hiring to drive the #5 Camping World Truck Series Toyota for Randy Moss Motorsports. Highly placed sources say Kvapil is set to replace Mike Skinner at the wheel of RMM's #5 machine, but their are conflicts between the Sprint Cup and Truck Series schedules that would presumably prevent Kvapil from running full championship schedules in each series.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Sprint Cup Start Times Still In Limbo

Sirius NASCAR Radio's Sirius Speedway with Dave Moody has learned that standardized starting times for NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races could become a thing of the past this season. A year ago, Sunday afternoon Sprint Cup events took the green flag at approximately 1:18 PM ET. Not all tracks were happy with that standardized starting time, however, and the move was blamed by some for a drop in television ratings.

Sources tell Sirius Speedway that starting times for events in the second half of the 2011 season have yet to be finalized, as NASCAR decides whether to put the decision back into the hands of its individual tracks. It is expected that next month’s season-opening Daytona 500 will once again take the green flag just after 1 PM ET.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Skinner Confirms RMM Split, Looking For New Toyota Truck Ride

After weeks of conjecture, Mike Skinner confirmed today that he will not return to the Randy Moss Motorsports Camping World Truck Series team this season. Skinner told Sirius NASCAR Radio’s Sirius Speedway with Dave Moody that his parting with RMM was amicable.

“I can’t say anything bad about David Dollar or Randy Moss,” he said. “They gave me a chance in 2009 when I didn’t have anything going. We had Cinderella season; winning three races, finishing third in points, and it was great. When (crewchief) Eric Phillips left, the chemistry just wasn’t there anymore. It was no fault of theirs, and no fault of mine. It just didn’t work out.”

The RMM/Skinner tandem slipped substantially in performance last season, finishing eighth in points with only two Top-5 finishes in 25 starts. And Skinner said that slip was attributable to chemistry. “Chemistry is real important in our sport and we just didn’t have it,” he said. “I wish (RMM) a lot of luck. They’ve got a real good operation there, and I look for them to do well in the future.”

Skinner said he is searching for a new ride, and would prefer to remain in the Toyota camp. “I’ve been with Toyota since they arrived in NASCAR,” he said. “They’ve picked me out of the dirt a couple of times, and I would like to stay with them. If I never race again, I’ll be thankful to Toyota for everything they’ve done. And if there’s any way to get back into a Toyota again, I’d like to do it.

“I’m not throwing in towel,” said the former series champion. “I have a hell of a fire in my belly right now; more than I’ve had in years. I’m not ready to hang it up yet. My phone has rung a lot (recently), but I haven’t found a situation I can win with yet. I have no desire to go out and run 12th.”

Skinner said he has spoken to teams in the Sprint Cup garage about serving as a start-and-park driver this season, and has had “a couple of truck teams” approach him, as well.

“I’ve talked to one Truck team that wins 50 percent of its races, and I could drive for them tomorrow if the money was there,” he said. “If I’ve got the bucks in my pocket, I can pick my ride. There are a lot of rich daddys out there who get their kids into good rides simply by writing a big check.

“I’ve got credentials. I don’t have to prove myself, but I need a sponsor to go with it.”

Mears, Germain Team For 2011 Cup Chase

Sirius NASCAR Radio’s Sirius Speedway with Dave Moody has learned that Casey Mears will run at least 20 races – and possibly the full NASCAR Sprint Cup Series schedule – for Germain Racing in their #13 Toyota Camry. “We are running Casey in the #13 car for at least 20 races... maybe full season,” said team owner Bob Germain via email Tuesday. “(We will run) the first six for sure... then will see where we are in points.”

Germain said GEICO will sponsor the car in 18 races -- including the first six -- adding that the team is "working with some other sponsors to try to fill out the schedule." A spokesperson for GEICO confirmed that the company will sponsor Mears in at least 18 races in both 2011 and 2012, with a possibility for additional starts each season.

Mears finished 36th in last year’s Sprint Cup standings, driving for multiple teams. Germain Racing fielded its #13 Toyota with GEICO sponsorship for Max Papis last season, qualifying for a total of 18 races, in addition to five DNQs.

NASCAR's Ramsey Poston Says Sanctioning Body Needs Input

NASCAR Managing Director of Corporate Communications Ramsey Poston told Sirius NASCAR Radio’s Sirius Speedway with Dave Moody that the sanctioning body is mulling a series of possible changes to its points system and the Chase for the Sprint Cup.

"We’ve been better communicators in recent years,” said Poston, “talking to all our teams in a series of Town Hall Meetings. It’s just conversation, nothing formal; just a chance to get eye-to-eye and talk to our teams about the state of the sport. It’s an opportunity to kick around various ideas that we’ve been thinking about. We don’t want to make important decisions in a vacuum, without talking to teams, track operators and broadcast partners. We want to look at all the possible consequences before making any decisions.”

Poston confirmed that NASCAR is considering a new championship point system awarding 43 points to race winners, with one-point decreases through the field. “It’s a way to simplify the system,” he said. “Some of our longtime fans still have confusion about how the current point system works. It might make sense to simplify things.” He said the new system -– if adopted -– will apply to all three of NASCAR’s National Series.

Poston said feedback from teams has been “very positive, so far. (They) have made suggestions about things we may not have thought about, as well. And since this was first reported last night, our fan base also seems to be embracing the idea.

“If we’re not listening to the people who buy tickets, we’re not going to make any real progress,” said Poston. “We’ve made some common sense changes in the last two or three years that have enabled us to begin moving the (competitive) needle. We had the best racing in our history last year, and we want to build on that. Our core product is the racing, and (if) we can continue to make the racing the best it can be, all the other issues will tend to themselves.”

Poston declined to comment specifically on potential changes to the Chase, saying, “Nothing has been finalized. Our competitors and fans seemed satisfied with how it all turned out last year, but we still have a couple of ideas to work through.”

NASCAR President Mike Helton and Vice President of Competition Robin Pemberton are scheduled to take part in a news conference Friday at Daytona International Speedway to address possible changes for 2011, and Chairman and CEO Brian France is expected to make a major announcement during the annual NASCAR Media Tour later this month.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Time For NASCAR To Clean Up Its Annual Owner Points Mess

With a month still remaining before SpeedWeeks 2011 at Daytona International Speedway, the annual outbreak of owner points manipulation has begun.

Sirius NASCAR Radio’s Sirius Speedway with Dave Moody has learned that Steven Wallace will contest the 2011 Daytona 500 in a Toyota fielded by Rusty Wallace Racing. Wallace will use owner points obtained from Penske’s Racing’s #77 Dodge, which finished 30th in owner points a year ago with driver Sam Hornish, Jr. Hornish told Sirius Speedway last week that the team does not currently have the sponsorship necessary to compete on the Sprint Cup Series in 2011.

Speaking on the condition of anonymity, sources close to the situation say a deal has been completed to transfer those points to RWR, making Wallace a guaranteed starter in the Daytona 500. Calls to both RWR and Penske Racing seeking comment were not immediately returned, but Roger Penske confirmed the plan in a Saturday email to

The RWR-Penske deal served as the opening salvo in what has become an annual frenzy of points shuffling that baffles even the most astute observers.

One year ago, team owner Doug Yates announced that he had merged his Yates Racing operation with the team then known as Gillett-Evernham Motorsports. Weeks later, Yates claimed the merger had never occurred at all, handing the 2009 owner points accrued by his operation to Front Row Motorsports for its #37 Ford. Yates "owned" the #37 in name only and played no role in the operation of the race team in 2010. Driver Travis Kvapil, however, received a guaranteed starting spot in each of the first five races of the 2010 campaign.

Latitude 43 Motorsports was also locked into the first five races of 2010, after purchasing Jack Roush's fifth Sprint Cup team just weeks prior to the start of the season. Latitude 43 owner Bill Jenkins had no prior history as a Sprint Cup Series owner, but his new team arrived at Daytona for Speedweeks 2010 knowing it would bank at least $250,000 for a last-place finish in "the Great American Race."

That's not the way it was supposed to work.

NASCAR's Top-35 system was designed to ensure that team owners would retain something of value when drivers departed during the offseason with sponsor in hand. Unfortunately, what once served as a reward for fulltime Sprint Cup supporters has now been manipulated to benefit teams that have never run a single lap in NASCAR's senior series.

The Top-30 owner points program has become a solution in search of a problem, and serves only to confuse fans, who rightly ask, "How did he qualify for the Daytona 500?"

It's time for NASCAR to clean up their mess, ruling that guaranteed starting spots in the first five races of each season will be awarded only to the teams that earned Top-35 Owner Points in the prior campaign.

No more shady deals.

No more phantom owners.

No more rewards for those who have not earned them.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Construction Begins On New Video Board

Construction crews using dump trucks and excavators have begun preparations for the debut of the world's largest HD video board at Charlotte Motor Speedway's 2011 May race events.

Crews from Granite Contracting of Concord, N.C. are using heavy earth-moving equipment this week for initial grading on the speedway's backstretch near Gate 25 where the gigantic, nearly 16,000-square-foot board will be located. Designed and created by Panasonic, the approximately 200-foot wide by 80-foot tall screen will be centered along the backstretch between Turns Two and Three, across from the start/finish line. Fans seated throughout the frontstretch will have clear viewing angles of instant replays, leaderboard updates and interactive entertainment displayed in 720P high-definition visuals. The screen will be illuminated by more than nine million LED lamps.

To prepare the base of the construction site, approximately 18,000 cubic yards of dirt and 3,000 cubic yards of concrete will be removed this month to bring the current grade down to the track wall level. The concrete will be removed during demolition of bleachers that were part of the speedway's original construction in 1960. Later this month, 12 holes will be drilled more than 50 feet into the earth to install the concrete piers that will support the 165,000-pound structure.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

RAB To Race With Triad Power

RAB Racing with Brack Maggard will have engines from Triad Racing Technologies under the hood of their #09 NASCAR Nationwide Series Toyotas this season. Driver Kenny Wallace told Sirius NASCAR Radio’s Sirius Speedway with Dave Moody that the decision was made recently by team owner Robby Benton and crewchief Scott Zipadelli. “I talked to my brother Rusty about Triad, and he absolutely raved about them,” said Wallace. “He said, `Herm, you’ve got to go with Triad or you’re missing the boat.’”

Triad currently supplies engines to four other Nationwide teams in addition to RAB, including Rusty Wallace Racing, Germain Racing, Pastrana-Waltrip Racing and NEMCO Motorsports. “The biggest piece of the puzzle at RAB Racing is to give ourselves all the horsepower we can get,” said Wallace. “Working with TRIAD, I know we will have all the horsepower it takes. That puts my mind at ease.”

Wallace will make his debut in RAB’s #09 Toyota Camry on Saturday, February 19, in the season-opening DRIVE4COPD 300 at Daytona International Speedway. The team currently has 16 races sponsored, with the University of Northwestern Ohio (UNOH) serving as primary sponsor at Daytona. Additional 2011 backers will include Federated Auto Parts and Family Farmers, a coalition of corn and soybean farmers.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

CONFIRMED: Mark Martin To Nationwide and Truck Series With Turner Motorsports

Turner Motorsports announced today what Sirius Speedway first revealed on November 30; that Mark Martin will drive the No. 32 Dollar General Impala in NASCAR Nationwide Series events at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Auto Club Speedway, Michigan International Speedway and Kentucky Speedway with crewchief Trent Owens calling the shots. He will also drive Turner's No. 32 Silverado in NASCAR Camping World Truck Series races at Michigan International Speedway and Pocono Raceway. Reed Sorenson will drive Turner's No. 30 Rexall Chevrolet when Martin is at the wheel of the Dollar General car.

“I’m excited to be running back in the Nationwide and Truck Series again,” said Martin. “Everyone at Dollar General and Turner Motorsports has been great and I’m looking forward to hitting the track with them next year. Working with Turner [Motorsports], I get to extend my relationship with Chevrolet and continue to have Hendrick horsepower under the hood which is really, really good.”

Martin brings unparalleled experience to Turner Motorsports. With a NASCAR career spanning 30 years, he has 40 wins in 794 Sprint Cup Series starts, holds the all-time Nationwide Series records for most wins (48) and most pole positions (30), and seven wins in 23 NCWTS starts. In 2006, motorsports media members acknowledged his accomplishments by naming him the greatest Nationwide Series driver of all-time. Martin continues to compete full-time in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in the No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports machine.

“The races we picked for both series are personal favorites of mine. I’d love to win another truck race, and I’ve got to get back to Victory Lane in the Dollar General car so I can keep Kyle [Busch] from breaking my Nationwide Series record,” laughed Martin.

Martin has experienced tremendous success at the tracks at which he will compete for Turner Motorsports. In five Nationwide Series starts at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, he has three wins, four top-fives, five top-10s and two poles. In only two Nationwide starts at Auto Club Speedway, he has earned one win and a third-place finish. At Michigan International Speedway, he has two wins, eight top-five and nine top-10 finishes and one pole position in 11 starts. Martin will make his Nationwide Series debut when the team travels to Kentucky Speedway in July.

Team owner Steve Turner said he is pleased to add Martin's experience to the team's lineup, and as high expectations for the organization in 2011.

“We are thrilled to announce the addition of Mark Martin to our stable of drivers,” commented Turner. “Mark shares my same passion for helping groom young talent and has expressed interest in helping us get our young drivers to the NASCAR Sprint Cup level. I can’t think of a better mentor than Mark Martin. Everyone at Turner Motorsports knows the value and experience he brings to our organization and we are all delighted to have him join our team. We look forward to getting Mark and Dollar General into the winners circle in 2011.”

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

COMMENTARY: Bud Shootout Needs A Makeover

The annual Budweiser Shootout at Daytona International Speedway is one of the sport’s truly legendary events. Since 1979, the Bud Shootout has produced decades of excitement and top-notch competition, providing an outstanding kickoff to the NASCAR season. Its list of former winners reads like a “Who’s Who” of NASCAR Sprint Cup Series racing, and despite not awarding a single point toward any series championship, its pedigree is second to none. Now, however, it may be time for the Budweiser Shootout to undergo a body-off makeover.

Late week, NASCAR and Budweiser announced a new set of qualifying criteria for this year’s race; the second major makeover in as many seasons. For 2011, event organizers will usher in all 12 of last year’s Chase drivers, former series champions and Shootout winners, former Daytona 500 and Coke Zero 400 winners and "leading rookies from the 2001-2010 seasons," watering down what was once a de-facto all-star race to the point where it is now barely recognizable.

2010 Rookie of the Year Kevin Conway will race in this year’s Bud Shootout, despite having just one Top-20 finish in his entire Sprint Cup Series career. Kasey Kahne, Joey Logano, Juan Pablo Montoya and Regan Smith will be a part of the field, despite finishing 20th, 16th, 17th and 28th in last year’s Sprint Cup championship points. John Andretti is invited, despite making just one Cup series start last season. Geoff Bodine is eligible to compete, after making a single start-and-park appearance in 2010, and only five in the last three seasons. Sterling Marlin and Derrike Cope didn’t run a single Sprint Cup lap in 2010, but they’re in the Bud Shootout too, if they can find a ride.

For the record, I have no quarrel with Conway, Andretti, Bodine, Marlin or Cope. They have all been invited to take part in this year’s race, and have every right to compete. My complaint is with the event itself, which now seems to exist simply because it always has. There used to be a point to the Budweiser Shootout. It provided a much-anticipated tipoff to the season and a tangible reward for winning poles, races and championships. But in recent years – since Budweiser forfeited sponsorship of the Sprint Cup Pole Award to rival Coors -- Daytona’s “value added” bonus for a season of excellence has become a steaming plate of increasingly bland, “who else can we invite” hash.

NASCAR’s perennial Most Popular Driver, Dale Earnhardt, Jr., said recently that he believes our sport suffers from a certain degree of overexposure. He is not alone in that point of view. With 36 point-counting races and two additional non-point events on the Sprint Cup schedule alone, NASCAR has become an All You Can Eat buffet; leaving fans bloated and lethargic, instead of hungry for more. Too much of a good thing is… well… too much, and fans from coast to coast seem finally to have reached the point of satiation.

Not coincidentally, NASCAR officials have begun openly discussing the possibility of trimming the Sprint Cup Series schedule for the first time in the history of the sport. If – at long last -- the sanctioning body is truly willing to consider giving fans less of a good thing, a good place to start would be the Budweiser Shootout. Either give the race a much-needed tune up – restoring it to something approaching its former prominence -- or drop it in the dumpster, once and for all.

Lepage, Rensi Team For Nationwide Effort

Veteran Kevin Lepage will drive full-time for Team Rensi Racing on the 2011 NASCAR Nationwide Series. Lepage told Sirius NASCAR Radio’s Sirius Speedway with Dave Moody, “I’m real excited about it. I talked to several different teams, and Ed Rensi and (GM) Ronnie Russell were absolutely the best fit. They needed a driver in order to negotiate with sponsors, and I needed a team, so we put the deal together at the first of the week. I have a little bit of sponsorship from, and we’re chasing more. We’ve got a lot of things working.”

Lepage made 25 Nationwide Series starts last season for Mac Hill Motorsports; all of them of the “start and park” variety. The Shelburne, VT native said he is looking forward to completing races this season.

“I’m going to be racing all day for the first time since 2008, and I’m looking forward to it,” he said. “It was frustrating to start and park. It hurts to have to race the way we did. We qualified in the Top 20 -- or even the Top 10 -- most weeks, but we couldn’t afford to run the race. I’d qualify the car well, then get told, `We just sold your tires, so run a couple of laps and pull it in.’ We had fast cars, but we never got to show it.

“It ate me apart,” admitted Lepage. “When season was over, I told my wife I wasn’t going to do it again. If there was nothing left for me but `start and park,’ I was ready to pack it in and call it a career.”

The two-time Nationwide Series winner said he and his new team, “want to run hard and get the best finish we can at the end of the day. We’re not guaranteed starters for the first five races of the year, so our main goal is the get the car qualified every week and locked into Top 30.”

Monday, January 10, 2011

Vickers Testing In Florida Today

For sidelined NASCAR driver Brian Vickers, Walt Disney World truly is the happiest place on earth. A number of Sprint Cup Series drivers and teams are set to test at Orlando’s Walt Disney World Speedway today, including Vickers, who climbed behind the wheel of his Red Bull Racing Toyota for the first time in eight months.

Vickers last competed in the Showtime Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway on May 8, finishing 10th before being sidelined the following week by blood clots in his legs and lung. He did not race again in 2010.

"Today was just a huge weight off of my shoulders," said Vickers. "Not only for myself, but for the guys on the team. There were so many rumors, assumptions and speculations about my health and status for 2011, but today hopefully put all of them to rest.

"It felt damn good to get back in the car," said Vickers. "Everything fit. Everything felt right. Everything was just the way I left it last May. Just to fire the car back up was awesome, and then to punch it for the first time was such a great feeling. We are here to get more seat time for me and so I can back in groove with the road crew. I don’t think we are going to learn anything ground-breaking today, but it's really just a great chance for us all to work together, and the bottom line for me is just to get back in a race car and log some laps."

The team has still not made an official announcement on whether Vickers has received approval from his doctors for a return to full-time competition at the wheel of the Red Bull Racing #83 Toyota this season, as a teammate to Kasey Kahne.

Saturday, January 08, 2011

Darkhorse Seahawks Win, Football Fans Demand Changes To Playoff System

The National Football League is bracing for open rebellion by its fan base today, after the Seattle Seahawks' stunning, 41-36 upset of the defending Super Bowl champion New Orleans Saints in Saturday's opening round of the playoffs.

The Seahawks entered the postseason with a 7-9 record, facing a heavily favored New Orleans squad that boasted an 11-5 regular-season mark. But Seattle quarterback Matt Hasselbeck threw four touchdown passes, before Marshawn Lynch iced the victory with a 67-yard run with just 3:22 remaining.

The upset revealed a longstanding flaw in the NFL's playoff system, which allows teams that fail to dominate during the regular season to experience undeserved postseason success and -- in isolated cases -- even contend for the Super Bowl championship. The win has prompted calls from fans around the league for a new playoff format; one that prohibits teams from "stroking" during the regular season only to peak come playoff time.

"It's a joke," complained NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Director Wayne Auton, a lifelong fan of the New Orleans Saints. "My team had a WAY better record through the first 16 games, and the NFL took it all away! We led our division every step of the way, then got beat by a team that clearly wasn't even trying until today. It's not fair!"

Auton said he will demand that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell immediately vacate Seattle's victory and advance New Orleans into next weekend League Championship Series, based on the Saints' better overall won-loss record. In addition, fans have inundated Sirius NFL Radio with demands that the league immediately begin keeping two sets of postseason statistics; one based on the current playoff system and another based on the league's original, 10-game schedule.

"It's the only fair way to do it," argued a listener identifying himself as `Hank in Texas' Saturday evening. "Under the NFL's original 1948 playoff system, the New England Patriots would have accumulated enough wins to clinch the championship three weeks ago. Unfortunately, NASCAR... er... the NFL keeps changing the system, over and over again. And now, the championship has become completely illegitimate."

Commissioner Goodell has declined to comment, but is reportedly planning to add 15 additional teams to the playoff bracket next season in an attempt to ensure that the Cincinnati Bengals make the cut.

Friday, January 07, 2011

NASCAR Not Alone In Fighting Ratings Decline

There has been no shortage of debate and discussion about the 2010 decline in TV ratings for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. Viewership dropped more than 20% in some cases, a decline that many blamed on the sport’s flagging popularity. Some observers have argued that moving late-season races from ABC (broadcast television) in 2009 to the ESPN cable network in 2010 played a major role in that decline; a possibility that was strongly denied downplayed by network spokespersons.

But broadcast ratings for many of the season-ending College Football Bowl Games bore a striking similarity to NASCAR’s late-season numbers. ESPN’s coverage of the Rose Bowl game between TCU and Wisconsin earned an 11.7 overnight rating Saturday, down 15 percent from the 13.8 overnight rating for last year’s Ohio State-Oregon matchup on ABC. The game was still ESPN’s highest-rated non-NFL matchup, but the lowest rated Rose Bowl since 2003.

ESPN is available in 13% fewer homes than ABC, providing one plausible explanation for the ratings decline experienced by both NASCAR and the NCAA this season. Can NASCAR place all the blame its for flagging ratings on a move from broadcast to cable television?

Certainly not.

FOX Sports (broadcast) and TNT (cable) also experienced double-digit ratings declines during the 2010 NASCAR season, and in-person attendance at the tracks was off noticeably. But the struggles experienced by many NCAA Bowl Games -– including the Orange Bowl, which filled only half the 75,500 seats at Miami’s Sun Life Stadium, and the Meineke Car Care Bowl in Charlotte that attracted just 40,000 fans to the 73,000-seat Bank Of America Stadium -– indicate that NASCAR’s downturn in attendance and viewership may be due in great measure to the struggling economy, rather than some deep-seated dissatisfaction with the sport.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

First Look At The New Cars!

Kurt Busch has a new look and a new sponsor in 2011!

Martin Truex, Jr.'s #56 NAPA Auto Parts Toyota from Michael Waltrip Racing. Sharp!

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Baker Refutes Reports Of Team's Demise

Baker Curb Racing co-owner Gary Baker is denying internet reports that his race team is closing its doors, telling Sirius NASCAR Radio’s Sirius Speedway with Dave Moody that he is confident the team will compete at Daytona with at least one -– and possibly two –- cars.

“Are we furloughing some employees? Yes. Are we selling off some obsolete cars and parts? Yes. That’s all true,” said Baker. “But the rumor of our doors being padlocked is reminiscent of when Mark Twain said, `rumors of my demise have been greatly exaggerated.’ We are going full-bore toward finding sponsorship for next year.”

Baker said he was not contacted by anyone to confirm the erroneous reports, adding, “I got a phone call the other night from someone who read on the internet that we were padlocked. At the time, I was in a meeting, talking about our ability to field two cars next year if both the sponsors we are talking to come through. As of today, we do not have a sponsor signed for even the first car. But we are very, very hot in conversation with two prospective sponsors. One of them says it’s a done deal, but I’ve been there before. When the contract is signed and the money is in the bank, then it’s a done deal. Not before."

Based on conversations with those potential sponsors, Baker said it is “above 80% likely that we’ll be at Daytona with one car, and more than 50% likely that we’ll be there with two. But we’ve got to sign something within the next 10 days to make it happen.”

Baker said rumors of his team’s demise make it more difficult to do business. “They’re dangerous,” he said. “That kind of prophecy can be self fulfilling. The last thing you want is for (a prospective backer) to read something on the net that makes them say, `don’t call us, we’ll call you.’

“It takes money to run this business, and our major source of income is sponsorship. Purse money on the Nationwide Series borders on tokenism, so we need sponsors. If we don’t find some money, we won’t be at Daytona. But we’re confident that we will be there.”

Evernham To Hendrick In Non-Racing Role

Ray Evernham has formed a new relationship with former boss Rick Hendrick, but it won’t have anything to do with race cars. Ray Evernham Enterprises has entered an agreement to consult for the Hendrick Companies, overseeing a series of special projects that includes a Hendrick-branded line of high-performance parts and vehicles for street use.

Evernham told Sirius NASCAR Radio’s Sirius Speedway with Dave Moody, "I've missed the relationships I had at Hendrick, and Rick and I talked for a long time about various opportunities that we see out there. Rick has always been good at thinking outside the box, and I’m really looking forward to working with him on these new projects.”

The three-time Sprint Cup championship winning crewchief made it clear, however, that his new role does not include NASCAR. “I feel like a retired athlete,” he explained. “I’ve been there and done that, and I am absolutely not interested in being assigned to a particular race team or driver. Those days are gone.” Evernham said his new relationship with Hendrick will not preclude him from working with other NASCAR teams, but stressed that he currently has no plans to do so.

Evernham has resigned from his analyst’s role at ESPN, calling his business relationship with Hendrick “a potential conflict of interest. I have had a great relationship with the folks at ESPN, and I don't want to put them, Rick or myself in an awkward position (Leaving ESPN) was one of the toughest parts about this decision, but it would have been pretty difficult to call Rick out on the performance of his NASCAR teams and still maintain our business relationship.”

"Ray has been a valuable member of our NASCAR team for the past three seasons, and we wish him all the best in his new role," said ESPN Vice President of Motorsports Rich Feinberg. "If he ever wants to come back, we'd be happy to talk to him."

Evernham will continue to field Sprint Cars for himself and his wife, Erin Crocker Evernham, in addition to owning and operating North Carolina’s East Lincoln Speedway. He has also played a pivotal role in the development of a new, dirt-track Legends car in conjunction with 600 Motorsports and Speedway Motorsports chairman Bruton Smith.

Hendrick said Tuesday that he is happy to Evernham back in the fold. "Hendrick Performance parts and cars will have a racing pedigree, and Ray is someone who will help ensure that on behalf of our customers and dealers,” said Hendrick. “He's assembled a terrific group of people at REE, and I see a lot of opportunities for them to be a valuable resource for our organization on projects like this. I know the kind of high standards Ray sets."

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Another Round Of Mayfield vs Mayfield

The former stepmother of suspended NASCAR driver Jeremy Mayfield says Mayfield provided crystal methamphetamine to his late father.

In documents filed last week as part of an ongoing slander lawsuit, Lisa Mayfield accused her former stepson of sharing methamphetamine with his father, Terry, and selling it to him on numerous occasions. She testified that her husband kept the drug in a film container in his bathroom -- snorting it through a hollowed-out ballpoint pen – and stopped using only after Jeremy Mayfield refused to continue supplying his with drugs after a falling-out. She said Terry Mayfield then turned to alcohol, drinking heavily in the months prior to his death.

She also claimed that Terry Mayfield was employed by his son in exchange for not telling NASCAR about the younger Mayfield’s drug use, and offered to go to rehab for alcohol in January of 2007 if Jeremy went to rehab for crystal meth. She claims that offer was refused.

Jeremy Mayfield denied those charges to’s Bob Pockrass yesterday, saying, “There is no truth or substance to what Lisa has said. It is easy to make these allegations against my father when he is not here to deny these things. Remember, this is the same woman who showed up at my house … after being told numerous times not to ever contact me or my family again, threatening to kill my wife.”

Mayfield has accused his former stepmother of complicity in his father’s death and of having an extramarital affair. Lisa Mayfield has admitted being involved with another man prior to Terry Mayfield’s death, but says the romance ended before Mayfield took his own life on September 5, 2007. She has repeatedly denied involvement in that death, and after re-examining evidence at Jeremy Mayfield’s request, authorities have reaffirmed their previous ruling that Terry Mayfield died of a single, self-inflicted gunshot wound to the chest.

Critical Vote Looms For Nashville Fairgounds Speedway

A vote is scheduled for January 18 that could determine the fate of the historic Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway. Nashville Mayor Karl Dean wants to bulldoze the track to make way for a public park and other development. Race fans began a petition drive to save the track last year, and have collected more than 40,000 signatures to date. The City Council will hold a public hearing on the 18th of this month, before voting on a bill calling for the track to be demolished.

The speedway has experienced decades of financial instability, and multiple promoters have struggled to turn a profit in recent seasons. The city received just $22,600 in rent from the track last season, and a previous promoter still owes $27,500 from the 2009 campaign. The track has also faced consistent noise complaints from neighbors.

In an interview with the Tennessean newspaper, city finance director Rich Riebeling called revenue generated by the track “marginal. There have been three or four operators in the last decade, and none of them have been able to keep it going on a sustainable basis,” he said. “There's not a real market there for (racing)"

Others disagree. Former Daytona 500 champion Sterling Marlin has led the fight to save the historic raceway. Former Sprint Cup driver Chad Chaffin, who began his career at the fairgrounds oval and won two track championships there, called it "the mecca of amateur racing… the finest short track in the entire world.” He told the Tennessean, “Its glory could be restored if the city leaders would just realize what they have and invest in the track."

Monday, January 03, 2011

Papis Will Race In Rolex 24

Max Papis says he expects to compete in next month’s Rolex 24 at Daytona with a still-unnamed team. Papis is set to run the full NASCAR Camping World Truck Series schedule this season in a GEICO-sponsored Toyota fielded by Germain Racing, and he said via Twitter today, “It looks like I will be in the 24 Hours of Daytona with a Top Team. News coming soon.”

Barnwell Set To Head New Team For Junior Johnson

Keith Barnwell has resigned as General Manager of the Tri-Star Motorsports NASCAR Nationwide Series team to accept a similar position with NASCAR Hall Of Famer Junior Johnson.

Barnwell told Sirius NASCAR Radio's Sirius Speedway with Dave Moody, “I’ve come to work with Junior Johnson Racing in Hamptonville, NC. Junior and Lisa are starting up a new race team for their son, Robert, and (Richard Childress Racing’s) Mike Dillon told them I would be a good guy to talk to about helping them with the operation. We’re going K&N Pro Series East racing with a 28-30 race schedule, with some UARA Late Model and NASCAR Whelen All-American Series events, as well.”

Barnwell said his new post is a dream come true. "Back in 1994, I started spotting for Junior when he was fielding cars for Sterling Marlin. We won the Southern 500 with Bill Elliott, and that was Junior’s last win as a NASCAR team owner. This may be the coolest thing I’ve ever done.”

The younger Johnson is a junior at North Carolina’s Forsythe County Day School, and is “a very impressive young man,” said Barnwell. “School comes first, then we’ll go race. We’re looking to progress him up through the ranks, with the eventual goal of taking him to Sprint Cup.”

The team has purchased two of Cole Whitt’s former Red Bull Racing K&N Series Toyotas for next season. “We still have to decide what manufacturer we’ll go with,” said Barnwell. “But when you’ve got Junior Johnson on your team, you have a lot of options come your way in terms of manufacturer affiliation and sponsorship; things like that.”

Barnwell will continue working as a spotter on the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series this season, working with Martin Truex, Jr.’s NAPA Toyota team. “I also want to thank Mark Smith and all the guys at Tri-Star Motorsports," he said. "We worked hard and made it to all the races last year, which was quite an achievement at times. I wish we could have run a little better, but my time with Tri-Star represents a very good chapter of my life.”

Sources tell Sirius Speedway that former Rusty Wallace Racing GM Rick Carpenter will replace Barnwell, with an announcement expected this week.