Sunday, March 31, 2013

Edwards' Car Heading For White House

The 135th Annual White House Easter Egg Roll will kick off Monday, with Roush Fenway's No. 99 Fastenal Sprint Cup Ford Fusion featured at The Ellipse in the nation’s capital.

The 2013 Easter Egg Roll, which takes place on the South Lawn of the White House, is focused on promoting health and wellness with the theme, “Be Healthy, Be Active, Be You!” The event features live music, sports courts, cooking stations, storytelling and, of course, Easter egg rolling. The activities encourage children to lead healthy, active lives in support of the First Lady’s Let’s Move! initiative.
“It will be an honor to have the No. 99 Fastenal Ford Fusion on site at the White House,” said Pat Resch, Fastenal’s VP of Marketing. “We’re looking forward to being a part of this Easter tradition and presenting the Fastenal brand to 30,000-plus attendees.”
Fastenal, a Winona, Minn. based Fortune 500 company and North America’s largest fastener distributor, will debut a military-themed paint scheme over Memorial Day weekend for the Coca-Cola 600 on Carl Edwards' No. 99 Ford, as well as the No. 16 and No. 17 Sprint Cup cars driven by Roush Fenway Racing teammates Greg Biffle and Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
“This is a great opportunity to show a sign of respect for all branches of the military, and all of the men and women who’ve sacrificed for the freedoms we sometimes take for granted,” said Resch, a former member of the US Navy and National Guard. “We’re proud of all of our employees, but leading up to Memorial Day we’re especially proud of the hundreds of current and former military personnel who are part of our Fastenal Blue Team.”

Vickers Will Drive For Gibbs After Martinsville

Brian Vickers will replace the injured Denny Hamlin in Joe Gibbs Racing’s No. 11 FedEx Toyota, beginning on April 13 at Texas Motor Speedway.

The team had previously announced that veteran Mark Martin would be behind the wheel of the No. 11 Toyota while Hamlin recovers from a fractured L1 vertebra suffered in a last-lap crash at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Cal. Last week. Martin will still drive the car at Martinsville Speedway, with Vickers taking over the duties beginning in Texas.
“Obviously, having to find someone to fill in for Denny is not an ideal situation to have to be in,” said JGR president J.D. Gibbs. “When you start a process like this, you obviously begin to look at the drivers that are not only available, but also able to drive for your race team and manufacturer. We were a bit premature in determining Mark’s status past Martinsville, (but) we’re real happy to have the opportunity to get Brian in our Cup cars. With him driving Nationwide for us, we think we have some continuity there that is beneficial.
“We really appreciate everyone at Michael Waltrip Racing and Toyota for working with us through this process,” added Gibbs. “The good thing for us is that we have drivers the caliber of Mark and Brian to help fill in until Denny comes back.”
Vickers is currently driving JGR’s No. 20 Dollar General Toyota in the NASCAR Nationwide Series. He has recorded two Top-10 finishes through the first five races of the season.
He has 264 career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series starts over his 11-year career, with two wins, 24 Top-5 and 63 Top-10 finishes. He has one start this season, finishing eighth in at Bristol Motor Speedway for MWR. Last season, Vickers made eight starts for MWR, with three Top-5 and five Top-10 finishes.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Hold The Phone! Martin To JGR For Just One Race

Michael Waltrip Racing announced today that Mark Martin will fill in for injured Joe Gibbs Racing driver Denny Hamlin only in next weekend's race at Martinsville Speedway, and not for the duration of Hamlin’s injury, as had previously been announced.  

Yesterday, a media release from Joe Gibbs Racing indicated that Martin would make his “first start” for MWR at Martinsville, with team president J.D. Gibbs saying, “we are really pleased to have someone of the character and caliber of Mark Martin to fill in while Denny is out. Obviously, we’re not exactly sure how long that is going to take, but Mark’s career speaks for itself and our team knows it will have the opportunity to compete for a win every week.”
Today, however, Michael Waltrip Racing made it clear that Martin will compete for MWR in just one race.
"Martin will return to the No. 55 Aaron's Dream Machine Toyota Camry at Texas Motor Speedway on April 13 and resume his previously scheduled run of events with MWR for the remainder of the 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup season," said the release from the team.
"I think it is great that a driver of Mark’s caliber is available to support our fellow Toyota team during this difficult time for them,” said MWR founder and co-owner Michael Waltrip. “Mark is a big part of our organization and is committed to our sponsors, especially Aaron’s and Toyota. We have a lot of goals yet to reach this year and we are very focused on accomplishing them."
As previously announced, Brian Vickers will race MWR’s No. 55 Jet Edge Toyota Camry for MWR at Martinsville.

Tracy Hines Joins ThorSport For Eldora Truck Race

Two-time USAC open-wheel champion Tracy Hines will drive a Toyota Tundra for ThorSport Racing at Eldora Speedway's inaugural NASCAR Camping World Truck Series dirt-track race in July.

When NASCAR scheduled its first national series' dirt race since 1970, it anticipated an all-star cast of dirt-track specialists. Hines, 40, of New Castle, Ind., brings much more than a notable dirt pedigree to his ThorSport entry in the July 24 mid-week NCWTS round at the half-mile speedway in Rossburg, Ohio.
"We're excited to have a driver with Tracy's ability in one of our trucks for a truly unique event that we feel will really highlight what he's done at that venue as well as what he can do in the series' first dirt race," ThorSport general manager David Pepper said. "We're looking at Tracy to be a positive influence on our entire organization through his experience as a top-level dirt car owner and driver, but especially through the insight he'll be able to offer his teammates."
"The realization that a major NASCAR series is going back to dirt is super exciting," Hines said. "What is it going to be? I don't think anybody knows, until we run under that checkered flag, what we're actually going to see. So that's definitely huge."
Hines has 52 career Truck Series starts -- 48 of them for ThorSport in 2004-2005 -- but he's been an ace on dirt, where he's won 85 main events across USAC's three primary divisions, putting him fourth on USAC's all-time wins list. Those victories include Hines' 12th career Eldora win, in a USAC sprint car in September 2012. Hines' next Eldora start will come in a USAC sprint car on April 20 -- an event he won a year ago.
Hines won championships in USAC's two most high-powered series, the 2000 Silver Crown Series and two years later in the National Sprint Car Series. He started the 2013 season with two USAC National Sprint Car Series wins at Bubba Raceway Park in Ocala, Fla., in February.
Hines made his NASCAR debut in 2003, with four Truck Series starts for owner Jim Smith before he raced two seasons in trucks with ThorSport. Hines had a best start of fourth for Smith in 2003 at Texas and fifth for ThorSport in 2005 at Daytona and a best finish of fifth, at Mansfield, Ohio in 2004 and Richmond in 2005.
In all, Hines has 69 career starts between the Truck Series and the NASCAR Nationwide Series, where he made 17 starts for four owners between 2004-2006, with a best finish of 13th at Bristol in 2006, for Armando Fitz.
"(The year's been) pretty good so far (and) we won both races at Eldora (in 2012) so who knows?" Hines said while taking a break from car preparation in his Indiana shop. "You know you're only as good as your last race, so we'll see."
Hines' next race of about 80 he'll race in USAC this season is a Sprint Car Series event at Lawrenceburg, Ind. -- ironically the same day the NASCAR Truck Series races at Martinsville. April 12-13 Hines races a USAC midget at Kokomo (Ind.) before he's back in a sprint car April 20 at Eldora.
"We've had a lot of success over the years at Eldora, in many different types of cars," said Hines, who has 12 career victories at the fast half-mile, putting him one win behind legend Jack Hewitt on Eldora's all-time wins list. "I've ran modifieds over there so I have some bigger car experience and I'm excited to see how my 52 Truck starts and my wins at Eldora can hopefully add up to success in the Truck Series."

 

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Danica Named White House Guest Reader

The White House announced today that NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Danica Patrick will serve as a “guest reader” at the annual White House Easter Egg Roll on April 1.

The Stewart Haas Racing driver has had a rough start to the 2013 season, ranking 29th in championship points after five races. She will join NFL star Adrian Peterson, child star and Academy Award nominee Quvenzhan√© Wallis and characters from Sesame Street and the Super Sprowtz on the list of celebrities scheduled to read to youngsters on the White House’s South Lawn. This year’s 135th annual event also features youth sporting events, music, food and the highlight of the day, the Easter Egg Roll. It is expected to attract a crowd of more than 30,000 people.

Additional readers will be announced each day this week on the White House’s “Let’s Move!” twitter account and Facebook page.

Roush To Be Honored By TX Motorsports Hall Of Fame

Jack Roush's success at Texas Motor Speedway has become a part of the speedway's history. Roush was the first team owner to sweep both events at the track, during its inaugural season in 1997. Since then, Roush has won 18 races as a car owner across NASCAR's top three national series at Texas Motor Speedway, including a record nine victories in NASCAR Sprint Cup Series competition.

His dominance at TMS has earned Roush the honor of becoming the 15th member inducted into the Texas Motorsports Hall of Fame. He will be honored Thursday, April 11, during the Texas Motorsports Hall of Fame Gala benefitting Speedway Children's Charities that will be held in The Speedway Club's Grand Ballroom.
Roush's induction culminates an evening that celebrates the accomplishments of motorsport's most talented drivers and contributors. Other honorees will be five-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson; 2004 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Kurt Busch; IZOD IndyCar Series driver Graham Rahal; and legendary motorsports journalist Chris Economaki posthumously.
Roush has helped establish one of the most successful organizations in motorsports in Roush Fenway Racing. The organization stands as the winningest team in NASCAR history and boasts the most victories in both the NASCAR Nationwide and Camping World Truck Series. With Roush at the helm, Roush Fenway Racing has captured seven championships across NASCAR's three major series, including two Sprint Cup Series championships in 2003 and '04.
Texas Motor Speedway has become the "House of Roush" with his nine Sprint Cup Series wins and 18 in Sprint Cup, Nationwide and Camping World Truck Series competition. His Sprint Cup Series victory total is more than double the next closest owner - which is Rick Hendrick with four - and his most recent win came in last April's Samsung Mobile (now NRA) 500.
Roush joins an accomplished list of individuals that have been inducted into the Texas Motorsports Hall of Fame since it was established in 2003. He joins previous inductees A.J. Foyt (2003), Johnny Rutherford ('03), Terry Labonte ('04), Lee Shepherd ('04), Kenny Bernstein ('05), Jim Hall ('05), Eddie Hill ('06), Mark Martin ('07), Jim McElreath ('07), Bobby Labonte ('08), Bruton Smith ('08), Joe Gibbs ('09), John Force ('10) and Lanny Edwards ('11).
Johnson, who turned in his most dominating season at Texas Motor Speedway in 2012 with a victory in the AAA Texas 500 and runner-up finish in the Samsung Mobile 500, will receive the Texas Motor Speedway Racer of the Year award. In the AAA Texas 500, Johnson became just the second driver to win from the pole for his second career victory at Texas Motor Speedway. His win followed his previous performance during April's Samsung Mobile 500 where he led a race-high 156 laps en route to a runner-up finish behind Greg Biffle. In all, Johnson led a total of 324 of 669 laps in the two 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at "The Great American Speedway!"
Busch has been instrumental in helping Speedway Children's Charities-Texas Chapter raise funds to benefit children in North Texas. He will be recognized as this year's recipient of the Maj. General Thomas Sadler Award. Busch has hosted some of Speedway Children's Charities biggest fundraising events that include the Kurt Busch Celebrity Bowling Tournament and Busch-Whacked Mud Run. In all, Busch has helped Speedway Children's Charities-Texas Chapter raise more than $40,000.
Rahal will receive the Texas Motor Speedway Sportsmanship Award for displaying a demeanor both on and off the track that exemplifies the meaning of sportsmanship. In June, he appeared headed to his second career IZOD IndyCar Series victory before his car brushed the wall and the bobble handed the lead and eventual victory over to Justin Wilson. Following the race, Rahal handled defeat as a true professional. His sportsmanship has been demonstrated off the track through his work with the Graham Rahal Foundation and his efforts to help the family of the late Dan Wheldon in 2011 by generating an auction that raised more than $600,000.
Economaki, motorsport's most noted and accomplished journalist, will be honored posthumously with the Bruton Smith Legend Award. Economaki left a lasting impact on the motorsports community through his work as both an editor and publisher forNational Speed Sport News and television commentator. His passion for racing helped him earn the title, "Dean of American Motorsports." His 74-year career as a journalist helped capture the early history of motorsports, covering premier events in NASCAR, INDYCAR and Formula One, among others.
A special VIP reception will be held prior to the awards ceremony beginning at 6:30 p.m. CT, followed by dinner beginning at 7:15 p.m. Fans can join in honoring the recipients by purchasing sponsorship or individual tickets to the Texas Motorsports Hall of Fame Gala.
Table sponsorships, beginning at $1,200, and individual tickets ($150) are available by calling the Speedway Children's Charities office at (817) 215-8421 or for more information, visit www.scctexas.org.

Sport Clips, VFW Team To Back Darlington Nationwide Race

Sport Clips Haircuts and the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States have announced the return of the VFW Sport Clips Help a Hero 200 NASCAR Nationwide Series event at Darlington Raceway on Friday, May 10, 2013. It is the second consecutive year the two organizations have partnered to sponsor the Nationwide Series event at Darlington.

Sport Clips and the VFW will continue to use their NASCAR partnership to raise awareness about the struggles many military families are facing and the VFW’s mission to support active-duty military, veterans and their families.
As the “Official Haircutter” of the VFW, Sport Clips has donated almost $2 million to the organization’s Operation Uplink free call days program through its annual “Help a Hero” campaign. Since the first contribution of more than $80,000 was made in 2007, Sport Clips’ donations have increased annually. The company’s most recent donation of a record-breaking $500,000 was presented to the VFW at the national headquarters on December 10, 2012.
To raise funds, Sport Clips locations nationwide collect donations at check-out during October and November and donate $1 from every hair care service on Veterans Day, November 11 – what the company calls “The Biggest Haircut Day of the Year.” “We look forward to this year’s Help A Hero campaign, and expanding our support of the VFW and its work to serve those who so honorably serve our country,” said Sport Clips CEO and Founder Gordon Logan. To learn more about Help A Hero, visit www.sportclips.com/hero.
Founded in 1899, the VFW is America’s largest major combat veterans’ organization. The VFW offers several assistance programs to lessen the burden on active-duty military, veterans and their families; offers counsel and assistance to military veterans to navigate VA entitlement and disability claims; and actively lobbies Congress and the administration on issues that impact the lives of our nation’s veterans.
“As a veteran of the Air Force, I understand first-hand the value of having a support system while serving abroad and at home. The VFW was then, as it is now, a very important part of my life,” said Logan. “Sport Clips is proud to join forces with the VFW for a second year to communicate its important mission through the VFW Sport Clips Help a Hero 200.”
“We’re tremendously pleased to have such a wonderful opportunity to help inform and educate other concerned citizens about the needs of those who deserve it most,” said VFW National Commander John E. Hamilton. “As an organization of combat veterans, VFW deeply appreciates Sport Clips’ continuing efforts and their assistance in helping to raise public awareness as it relates to the needs of those who serve our country.”
Sport Clips is also a partner of Joe Gibbs Racing and will sponsor a total of nine races during the 2013 NASCAR season, including both the Nationwide and Sprint Cup Series races at Darlington with Elliott Sadler and Denny Hamlin, respectively.
With many surrounding bases in South Carolina, Darlington Raceway has been a proud supporter of the military since its doors opened in 1950. Many military personnel and their families attend racing events each May at Darlington and the track recognizes the importance of assisting the men and women of the United States armed forces that have fought and dedicated their lives to protecting our country and its freedoms.
The track offers all current and retired military personnel a half-price ticket for any adult admission to either the VFW Sport Clips Help a Hero 200 or NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Bojangles’ Southern 500 by calling 843-395-8802 or visiting the ticket office during normal business hours.
“Having Sport Clips and the VFW partner together to sponsor our Nationwide Series race shows you the commitment both groups are making to honor and help our military personnel who have protected our country here and abroad,” Darlington Raceway president Chris Browning said. “We are proud of the fact that Sport Clips and VFW view Darlington Raceway as a continued opportunity and platform to raise awareness for our military heroes. Many military veterans and their families, as well as our troops who are currently fighting overseas, have given their lives to protect the freedoms of this country and we will make sure they are recognized during the race weekend here in May!”

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Keselowski Launches New BradRacing.com Website

Defending NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Brad Keselowski has launched a new, innovative version of his website, BradRacing.com, designed to provide fans with increased access to the Penske Racing driver and Brad Keselowski Racing team owner. The state-of-the-art redesign allows visitors to access the website through any platform – desktop, laptop, tablet, or mobile – for the optimal user experience and includes a variety of features unlike any other driver site.

The website captures the raw power and excitement of racing as well as behind-the-scenes, off-track activity while chronicling the full NASCAR season of the Rochester Hills, Mich. native. All races in which Keselowski competes will feature a detailed mini-site, which includes comprehensive news updates and exclusive, high-quality multimedia content such as videos, images, stories, and analysis generated by fans, sponsors, and the driver himself. Additionally, social media aspects are integrated throughout the site, and fans are able to share content via their social channels.
“We’re fortunate to compete in a sport with such a large and loyal fan base,” said Keselowski. “This site is designed to be at the forefront of digital media and primarily with the fans in mind as a platform for them to engage and interact with me and each other in new and different ways.”
Keselowski’s followers receive exposure to aspects of his Penske Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and NASCAR Nationwide Series teams in addition to his own Brad Keselowski Racing team that competes in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. Within these sections, profiles highlight all of the vehicles Keselowski drives or owns in NASCAR’s three major series.
Fans will also have the opportunity to contribute to a unique, interactive multimedia platform that rewards participants with exclusive prizes, including the chance to win a paid trip to the 2014 Daytona 500 as Keselowski’s guests, for posting content specific to the NASCAR star both on and off the race track. The challenge begins Friday, April 5th, and details will be provided by @Keselowski via Twitter.

KOMA Unwind Backs Godfather Motorsports In 2013

Officials from Statesville, North Carolina-based Bebida Beverage Company (BeBevCo.) announced today that their KOMA Unwind relaxation beverage will serve as major sponsor of the Godfather Motorsports Super Late Model team and driver Jerick Johnson in 2013.

Johnson has an extensive, winning resume in Late Model, Super Late Model, ARCA and NASCAR competition. He is a former Rookie of the Year and Late Model track champion on the fast, 3/8-mile asphalt Mizzou (MO) Speedway, and claimed ASA National Late Model Series "Rookie of the Year" honors in 2009. He finished third in the highly competitive "World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing" at Florida's New Smyrna Speedway in 2011, claiming six wins, 12 Top-10 and 14 Top-10 finishes that season. The Minnesota native has made seven career starts on the NASCAR Nationwide and Camping World Truck Series, along with 17 career ARCA starts, highlighted by a ninth-place finish at Toledo (OH) Speedway in 2010.
"I'm thrilled to be driving for Godfather Motorsports and KOMA Unwind," said Johnson. "I drove the KOMA Unwind Chevrolet Silverado in two Camping World Truck Series races in 2010, and thoroughly enjoyed my time with them. I'm excited to begin this new chapter of our relationship on Saturday at Hickory Motor Speedway; a track where I have lots of experience."
Jerick Johnson
"We're thrilled to be associated with Jerick Johnson and Godfather Motorsports," said BeBevCo CEO Brian Weber. "Jerick is a talented young driver from a great racing family, and with the help and support of people like Godfather Motorsports owner Dave Moody, we think the sky is the limit."
In addition to the Pro All Stars Series program, KOMA Unwind has partnered with Johnson with his No. 76 POW / MIA Freedom car to participate in Military appreciation events throughout the country, giving back to those who have sacrificed for our freedom.
Johnson, Godfather Motorsports and the No. 30 KOMA Unwind Ford will make their 2013 debut in Saturday's "Easter Bunny 150" at North Carolina's legendary Hickory Motor Speedway. Time trial qualifying is scheduled to begin at 3 pm ET, with racing to begin at 6 pm.
Developed by BeBevCo., KOMA Unwind relaxes those who drink it; improving the duration and quality of their sleep with both flair and favor. KOMA Unwind is formulated to relax the body, mind and soul. It is the perfect lifestyle beverage for those who want to reduce stress and anxiety, and get a great night's sleep. The relaxation or "anti-energy" drink category is fairly new to the beverage industry. KOMA Unwind is dedicated to helping consumers achieve a level of relaxation without the use of pills or alcohol, fueling a "relaxation revolution" of consumers determined to chill without a pill.
Unite with KOMA Unwind for its "relaxation revolution" by joining us on Facebook (www.Facebook.com/KOMAUnwind) and following us on Twitter @KOMAUnwindNews.

About BeBevCo
BeBevCo (Bebida Beverage Company) develops manufactures and markets liquid relaxation products including KOMA Unwind "Liquid Relaxation" (TM), KOMA Unwind Sugar-free "Liquid Relaxation" (TM) and KOMA Unwind "Liquid Relaxation" Shot (TM) as well as POTENCIA Energy, POTENCIA "BLAST" energy shot, Relax 5 shots and Piranha Water. Corporate websites accessible at BeBevCo.com, Relaxfive.com and KOMAUnwind.com. 

About Godfather Motorsports 
Godfather Motorsports is owned by Motor Racing Network and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio personality Dave Moody. Known as "The Godfather of Motorsports," Moody serves as lead turn announcer for Motor Racing Network's award-winning radio broadcasts of NASCAR Sprint Cup, Nationwide and Camping World Truck Series racing, and hosts his own daily, four-hour national motorsports talk show, SiriusXM Speedway, on SiriusXM Satellite Radio. The team competes on the Pro All Stars Series (PASS) Super Late Model Series, with a comprehensive list of technological and marketing partners that includes Eibach Springs, CV Products Inc., ARBodies and ASM Graphics. Visit the Godfather Motorsports website at www.GodfatherMotorsports.com.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

No NASCAR Penalties For Logano, Stewart, Or Teams

NASCAR's John Darby
NASCAR says there will be no sanctions imposed in the aftermath of Sunday’s Auto Club 400 in Fontana, California.

NASCAR Director of Communications Kerry Tharp confirmed earlier today that no penalties will be levied for the last-lap crash involving Joey Logano and Denny Hamlin, a profanity paced post-race interview by Tony Stewart, or a pit road dustup between Stewart, Logano and their teams that resulted in at least a few punches being thrown.”


Sprint Cup Series Director John Darby explained the sanctioning body’s decision not to penalize, saying, “A few years ago, we backed away from micromanaging drivers' emotions. You would hope in today's world that if somebody didn't win a race, they would be upset about it, for whatever reason. That's what our drivers do. They try to win races.
“(There are) checks and the balances, but a couple of drivers arguing a little bit at the end of the race doesn't create a foul in our world,” he said. “The crews did a great job of managing their drivers to make sure it didn't cross the line to where there was physical violence or anything like that.”
Darby said NASCAR remains committed to its “boys have at it” policy, and has no desire to begin sanctioning drivers for blocking or on-track contact.
“There are not any conversations internally -- inside of NASCAR -- to look at blocking as a violation or a penalty type situation (as) some other forms of motorsports do,”he said. “We are going to have close racing; close side-by-side racing and close front-to-rear racing… that's just part of competition. As good as the racing has been and as exciting as it's been, I don't think we need to jump in the middle of that and screw it up.”
Photo: Jason Smith/Getty Images

Monday, March 25, 2013

Hamlin Diagnosed With Fractured Lumbar Vertebra

Joe Gibbs Racing confirmed moments ago that driver Denny Hamlin suffered a compression fracture in his first lumbar vertebra, an injury that could sideline the Virginia native from the next Sprint Cup Series race in Martinsville, Va., in two weeks.

Denny Hamlin suffered a compression fracture following an accident on the final lap of Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway,” said the team in a written statement. “Hamlin hopes to be released today to fly to his home in North Carolina where he will be evaluated by Dr. Jerry Petty of Carolina Neurosurgery & Spine Associates later this week.”
Hamlin has experienced lower back issues for some time, but it is unknown whether that pre-existing condition played a role in Sunday’s injury. Hamlin tangled with rival Joey Logano while racing for the win on the final lap at Auto Club Speedway Sunday, and hit a non-SAFER barrier equipped concrete  wall on the inside of the track’s fourth turn. He exited the car under his own power, but quickly slumped to the ground and was attended to by track emergency personnel. He was airlifted to a local hospital to avoid post-race traffic tie-ups, and remained there overnight for observation.

Logano Standing His Ground, On And Off The Track

Five years into his NASCAR Sprint Cup Series career, Joey Logano is finally drawing his line in the sand.

Logano (22) and Hamlin crashed Sunday
Since joining NASCAR’s senior circuit with Joe Gibbs Racing in 2009, the Connecticut native has struggled to find his place in NASCAR’s competitive hierarchy, never quite living up to his “best thing since sliced bread” billing. Logano was thrust into Cup competition a year earlier than planned, after multi-time series champion Tony Stewart jumped JGR’s ship to accept a lucrative, owner-driver position with the team now known as Stewart Haas Racing.
Since then, Logano has struggled to emerge from Stewart’s long shadow. His race cars were Stewart’s cars. His crewchief, Greg Zipadelli, was Stewart’s crew chief. His team was Stewart’s team. All parties did their level best to make the arrangement work, but in the end, the message was always the same.
“Gee, Joey, that’s not the way we did things when Tony was here…”
During the off-season, Logano made a move of his own, joining the potent Penske Racing stable as a teammate to 2012 Sprint Cup Series champion, Brad Keselowski.
At Joe Gibbs Racing, Logano earned his chance simply by being next in line. At Penske, however, he was the team’s first choice. Team owner Roger Penske rebuilt the No. 22 Ford team around him, rather than simply hammering a square peg into a round hole. The on-track results were disappointing at first -- 21st at Daytona, 32nd at Phoenix and 21st in Las Vegas – but even while struggling, Logano showed a level of confidence unprecedented in his NASCAR career. He was a contender for the win at Bristol two weeks ago before a dump-and-run move by Danny Hamlin left him with a damaged race car and a disappointing, 17th-place finish.
Logano stood his ground against Stewart
At Auto Club Speedway Sunday, he was once again a major player. Logano raced near the front of the pack throughout the day, and when the chips were down, he made it clear that he is no longer the timid 18-year old known – sometimes derisively -- as “Sliced Bread.”
On the day’s final restart, he blocked a charging Stewart all the way to the infield grass in an effort to protect his lead. Moments later, he used Hamlin’s Toyota as a guardrail while racing for the Auto Club 400 win, displaying a level of aggression seldom – if ever – seen in his previous five years on the circuit. Both he and Hamlin crashed, but after limping his battered Ford home in third place, Logano said he is no longer going to be pushed around within sight of the checkered flag.
“After the way (Hamlin) raced me last week, that’s what he gets,” said Logano, without a hint of remorse. “It was the reverse of last week, the opposite of what he did.”
After the race, an angry Stewart came calling, fists raised and ready to rumble. Logano did not back down, throwing at least one punch in the resulting melee before rifling a water bottle in Stewart’s direction.
“I had to throw the block,” said Logano of the final restart. "I was racing hard, trying to make sure I protected my spot. I knew if he put me three-wide, that would be the end of my race. I wouldn’t win (and) I was smart enough to realize that. I had to do what I had to do to get to the front and try to win the race.”
“He has that right (to block),” said Stewart in response. “He has the choice to do that. He’s in control of his car. But if he ever turns down in front of me again, I don’t care what lap it is, he won’t make it through the other end of it.
“I’m tired of guys doing that stuff; especially out of a kid that’s been griping about everybody else,” Stewart said. “He’s sent Denny (Hamlin) to the hospital and screwed our day up. He’s talked the talk, but he hasn’t walked the walk yet. He’s always got his crew guys walking the walk for him. It's time he learns a lesson.”
While it’s a stretch to say Logano intentionally wrecked Hamlin on the final lap Sunday, he clearly drove his car past the edge of control, knowing that his rival was alongside and likely to pay the price for any mistake. Logano did the competitive math, then decided to race Hamlin as aggressively as Hamlin had raced him just seven days before. That’s a different, more aggressive Logano than we have seen in the past, and after the race, team owner Penske made it clear that he has his driver’s back, every step of the way.
"I'm 150% behind my driver,” said Penske to USA TODAY Sports Sunday evening. “I think he's a real star on the team.” He called Stewart's criticism "unwarranted,” adding, "I've watched him from the spotter's stand quite a bit, and I think Stewart is one of the best in the business at blocking. Anyone is going to protect the bottom."

In the last two weeks, Logano has stood his ground with a combative former teammate, proving that he’s willing to give, as good as he gets. He has stood up to a three-time Sprint Cup Series champion, trading haymakers both on and off the track.
If the last 14 days are any indication, it appears that Logano is finally coming of age in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Busch Wins Amid Fontana Fireworks

Right place, right time for Kyle Busch
Prior to Sunday, Joe Gibbs Racing and Toyota had never won a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Auto Club Speedway. Kyle Busch changed that in dramatic fashion, coming from behind when leaders Joey Logano and Denny Hamlin crashed in the final turn to claim a spectacular victory in the Auto Club 400.

Busch dominated for much of the day, leading a race-high 176 laps. With a lap to go, however, the race seemed destined to come down to Logano and Hamlin, the former teammates turned bitter rivals who have lobbed verbal hand grenades at each other since the season began at Daytona more than a month ago.
The pair ran side-by-side into the final set of turns, until Logano drifted up the track and bounced off Hamlin’s Toyota. Hamlin crashed hard into a concrete retaining wall on the inside of the track, while Logano hit the outside wall. As they tangled, Busch sailed past on the outside, taking the checkered flag in front of Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Kurt Busch, Carl Edwards and Greg Biffle. 
“They forgot about me,” said an elated Busch afterward. “I knew they were going to. I really wanted to get by before (Logano and Hamlin) wrecked. When they both went to the bottom in Turn Four, I thought, `Oh man, this is golden. I’ve got something for them up here!’ We had a good run on the top side, and they were messing with each other so bad that they took each other down. I was just hoping I could get by before they took me with them."
Logano and Hamlin clashed again Sunday
“It’s so fun to come out and perform like this and finally win (at Auto Club Speedway). We finally got a home win for Toyota, finally got a home win for Joe (Gibbs). Joe, this one’s for you.”

"I knew the third place guy was going to win,” said Edwards afterward. “I could feel the tension between Joey and Denny.''
Logano limped his battered ford home sixth, then admitted racing Hamlin harder in the aftermath of last week’s race at Bristol Motor Speedway, when his Shell Pennzoil Ford spun off Hamlin’s front bumper while contending for the win. “(It was the) reverse of last week, the opposite of what he did," said Logano. “After the way he raced me last week, that’s what he gets.”
Hamlin climbed from his demolished racer under his own power, but immediately slumped to the ground. He was immediately attended to by track safety workers and transported to the track’s Infield Care Center, where he was reported to be awake and alert.
For the second week in a row, Sunday’s fireworks did not end with the drop of the checkered flag. Former series champion Tony Stewart confronted Logano immediately after the race, upset with a blocking maneuver on the race’s final restart. A handful of punches appeared to be thrown by the drivers and their crews, and afterward, Stewart pulled no punches in criticizing Logano’s tactics.
Stewart: "I'm going to bust his ass."
“That little sonofabitch ran us clear down to the infield,” said Stewart, who faded to 22nd at the finish. “He wants to bitch about everyone else, but he’s the one who drives like a little prick. I’m going to bust his ass.”
"I was racing really hard, trying to make sure I protected my spot,” explained Logano. “I had to throw the block there. That was a race for the lead. I felt like if the 14 had gotten underneath me, that was the end of my opportunity to win the race. I was just trying to defend then spot I had. I’ll talk to him about it and see what happens.”
Busch's 25th career Sprint Cup Series victory ended a 31-race winless streak dating back to last April at Richmond International Raceway. He also completed a sweep of the Fontana weekend, after prevailing in Saturday’s Nationwide Series event.
Earnhardt’s runner-up finish came after a botched final pit stop dropped him back to 22nd place, and pushed him into the championship points lead with five races complete.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Patrick Says "We Are Just Missing It"

Danica Patrick said today that the key to improving her early season performance is to find more speed in practice and qualifying.

“I think I have actually been a little bit surprised how we unload,” said Patrick. “We have been closer unloading than I would have expected, (but) instead of progressing or staying there, we have kind of fallen off throughout the weekend.
“I think we need to strike a good balance when it comes to qualifying and the race,” she said. “Qualifying is the first step. I have been loose every single time in qualifying (and) that puts you in the back. You are already starting off down in the race. I have been loose every race except for the last one, where we were really tight. We kind of anticipated it, then we found out after we got done that the right-front toe was out pretty far from a hit really early in the race. That explains some of our challenges last weekend at Bristol.
“We just have to get the car balanced right when it counts, which is qualifying and race.”
Asked about the struggles experienced by the entire Stewart Haas Racing stable this season, Patrick said, “I don’t have a great feel for it. I feel like Tony or Ryan would have a far better answer for you. We were really good when it came to speed and the speedway. Then we went testing at Charlotte and all of a sudden it kind of switched, so I don’t know. Maybe we just need to find some grip. We are good when it comes to going fast, but when it comes to getting the car locked down on the track, maybe we need to find some downforce.
“I think the last few weeks have been very important,” she said. “That is the bulk of the season, to be honest. I’m not the best at this kind of stuff; all I know is that as a team, it’s not for a lack of trying. We will figure it out. For me and the No. 10 car, I know we need to get the car much closer when it counts.”
Patrick admitted that identifying the problem may be easier than solving it.
“If I had the answer of how to turn it around, we would just do it,” she said. “Obviously, it’s not that easy. We got to Phoenix, unloaded well and went into qualifying trim. (Then) all of a sudden the car was bouncing around and we never really got it back. In Las Vegas, we had a lot of testing and the car unloaded okay. Then it was really tight the first day (and) really loose the second practice day. We were loose in qualifying and extremely loose in the race.
“We are just missing it.”
Patrick said she works hard to avoid becoming frustrated, adding, “Every weekend, there is good and bad to it. You are going to remember the end of it the most. You can’t let it get you down, and you can’t be mad. I know I have a lot to learn, and I know that as a group we have a lot to learn together to figure out where the car is best for me, so we can be closer more of the weekend.
“But we will get it,” she said. “I’m not discouraged or afraid at this point. This is just the process that we go through. We will be fine.”
Photo: Kevin Liles-USA TODAY Sports

Carl Long Returns With KOMA Unwind Sponsorship


Carl Long will race in Fontana
In an 11th hour agreement, Bebida Beverage Company announced today that investors of the KOMA Unwind Liquid Relaxation brand and supporters of NASCAR driver Carl Long have agreed to sponsor the No. 23 Ford Mustang in tomorrow’s Royal Purple 300 at California’s Auto Club Speedway.

The partnership reunites Long with KOMA Unwind for the first time since 2010 when Long scored his career-best finish in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series of 11th at Dover International Speedway.
In addition to its role with Long in the No. 23 KOMA Unwind Liquid Relaxation Ford Mustang, the popular-growing brand is also sponsoring activities at Southern National (NC) Motorsports Park Saturday afternoon, which includes a 150-lap NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour race. With a presence on both the East and West coast, KOMA Unwind continues to fuel a “relaxation revolution” in a way to chill without a pill.
Developed by BeBevCo., KOMA Unwind relaxes those who drink it. It also helps them improve both the duration and quality of their sleep with flair and favor. KOMA Unwind is formulated to relax the body, mind and soul. It is the perfect lifestyle beverage for those who can appreciate extreme relaxation. The relaxation or “anti-energy” drink category is a new category to the beverage industry. This type of drink is dedicated to helping consumers achieve a level of relaxation without the use of pills or alcohol.
BeBevCo. CEO Brian Weber said, “Undoubtedly, this is a very exciting weekend for us. We’re excited about our first-ever NASCAR sponsorship at Southern National Motorsports Park, but we’re equally thrilled about reuniting with Carl for the NASCAR Nationwide Series race in California. With our product now having a global presence, we are now pushing ever more to introduce to not only race fans, but people in a general about a new way to chill.”
The Royal Purple 300 is the fifth race on the 2013 NASCAR Nationwide Series schedule. The green flag is scheduled to waive shortly after 2:00 p.m. local, 5:00 p.m. Eastern, with live coverage on ESPN, MRN Radio and SiriusXM Satellite Radio Channel 90.
The first-ever KOMA Unwind Relaxation 150 is set for Saturday, March 23. Gates are tentatively scheduled to open at 11:00 a.m., with an on-track autograph sessions etched in at 1:30 p.m. with pre-race ceremonies set to commence at 1:55 p.m. and racing lifting off at 2:00 p.m.
Unite with KOMA Unwind for its “relaxation revolution” on Facebook (Facebook.com/KOMAUnwind) and on Twitter @KOMAUnwindNews.

RCR Honors Warner Hodgdon This Weekend

Richard Childress Racing will honor former NASCAR track and team owner Warner Hodgon with a memorial decal at this weekend’s events at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif.

Hodgdon died March 20 after several weeks of declining health, at age 80. During the height of his NASCAR career, he owned or co-owned six different race tracks, sponsored events at Riverside International Raceway and North Carolina Motor Speedway in Rockingham, N.C., and sponsored Neil Bonnett's car in the then-NASCAR Winston Cup Series. He was also president of Black Gold Oil Company, which sponsored the No. 3 Chevrolet that Richard Childress owned and drove in the late 1970s.
“Warner was a great friend and partner who helped change the landscape of NASCAR team ownership in the late 1970s,” said Childress. “I learned a lot about business from the advice he gave me over the years. He was there to help me with sponsorship from Black Gold when I really needed it. Warner was an entrepreneur with a great vision for where stock car racing could go and we stayed in touch long after his time in racing ended. He was a great friend and will be missed.”

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

NASCAR, NHRA Stars Square Off In Charity Match

Drivers from the uniquely exciting motorsports worlds of NASCAR and NHRA will find common ground on Wednesday, April 17, when they square off to raise money for charity in a slow-pitch softball game, slated for 7:00 p.m. at CMC - Northeast Stadium in Kannapolis, N.C. In addition, popular country recording artist Darrell Harwood will sing the national anthem prior to the game, and will then be the star of a post-game concert.

Currently, a bevy of popular drivers have committed to participate in the charity softball game, while additional players may be added in the near future.
The star-studded NASCAR team includes Kurt Busch, Martin Truex Jr., Clint Bowyer, Kasey Kahne, Matt Kenseth, Michael Waltrip, Darrell Waltrip, David Ragan, Brad Sweet, and Parker Kligerman.
The big names from the NHRA include Top Fuel Dragster stars Tony Schumacher, Brandon Bernstein, Antron Brown, JR Todd, Shawn Langdon, Clay Millican, and Bob Vandergriff. They will be joined by a number of the brightest Funny Car competitors in the sport, including Courtney Force, Ron Capps, Del Worsham, Chad Head, and Matt Hagan.
Proceeds from the event will be donated to charities specifically selected by each team. The NASCAR drivers have selected The Armed Forces Foundation, while the NHRA team has designated Children's Healthcare of Atlanta.
NHRA Top Fuel driver Bob Vandergriff and NASCAR star Kurt Busch hatched the plan to set up the game, as a way to raise money for their favorite causes while giving the fans of both the circle-track and straight-line versions of auto racing a chance to see their favorite drivers up-close, in a totally different setting.
"A lot of us on the NHRA and NASCAR sides of racing know each other, but our hectic racing schedules don't allow us to get together very often," Vandergriff said. "Kurt and I started talking about this, and before you knew it we had a plan, then we were talking to our fellow drivers in each series, and it all started to come together. Early on in the process, the Kannapolis Intimidators minor league baseball team came on board, and once we had a professional venue in place we knew we could make this happen. Our NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing series will be at zMAX Dragway, in Concord, on April 19-21, for the Dollar General 4-Wide Nationals, so that gave our drivers a chance to all come in a little early to do this, have some fun, raise some donations, and promote our sport.
"It will be great to generate some money for two good causes, but on top of that it's going to be a lot of fun to square off against those guys in the game and I know it's going to be great for the fans, at least in a comedy sense. We're going to have an autograph session before the game, and with the Darrell Harwood concert afterward it will be a great night for everyone in attendance. I do think our NASCAR brothers have one built-in advantage, though, because they already know how to keep turning left until you get back home. I'm going to have to make sure my guys don't just keep on going straight, all the way to the right field fence."
Tickets are $20 for reserved seats, $15 for general admission, and are on sale now at www.intimidatorsbaseball.com/nhra
Schedule of events:

Wednesday - April 17, 2013
CMC - Northeast Stadium in Kannapolis, N.C.
5:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. - Autograph session with the drivers
6:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. - On-field warm-ups
7:00 p.m. - National Anthem followed by first pitch
Post-game - Concert by Darrell Harwood

Charity links:
The Armed Forces Foundation: http://www.armedforcesfoundation.org/
Children's Healthcare of Atlanta: http://www.choa.org/