Saturday, August 31, 2013

Allmendinger Confirmed To JTG Daugherty Racing

JTG Daugherty Racing made it official today, announcing that AJ Allmendinger will drive the team’s #47 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series entry full-time beginning in 2014, replacing veteran Bobby Labonte.

"For me, it is an amazing opportunity," Allmendinger said. "I looked at this year as a new beginning for me. I have worked hard and feel fortunate about every opportunity this season and I am very grateful. It has been nice to have the chance to really get to know the JTG Daugherty Racing team and the owners Brad (Daugherty), Jodi and Tad (Geschickter). This is the start of something full-time and I look forward to the next full blown chapter of my career with JTG Daugherty Racing."
"We are very thankful to Bobby," said JTG Daugherty co-owner Brad Daugherty. "He did such a great job establishing baselines for our company and we are glad we were able to extend his racing streak as long as we did. He is a champion of our sport and has won 21 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races. He has had a Hall of Fame career and we are very thankful to him and want to work with him in the future with our company. We will try to provide him with best resources to get him to Victory Lane this season."
As one chapter closes for the No. 47 team, a new one begins with Allmendinger. "We are pleased to have an opportunity to work with AJ going forward," Daugherty said. "We think he is up and coming with so much potential in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. We have a great opportunity to get to victory lane. AJ's hungry to compete to win. We are looking forward to the next chapter of our program and he is a big part of it."

Friday, August 30, 2013

Kyle Larson Confirmed To Cup In 2014

Kyle Larson was officially announced today as the 2014 driver of Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing’s No. 42 Target Chevrolet.  

“We believe Kyle is the future of the sport,” said team owner Chip Ganassi in making the announcement. “He is a unique talent… and he was our first choice. We spoke to other drivers, but we did not offer deals to any other drivers.  

“This is a racing decision,” he said. “Kyle the best fit for the short term and long term. There are going to be growing pains, but we think he's ready. This kid is a special kid." 

Despite spending most of his time in Open Wheel Spring Cars and Midgets, Larson’s stock car pedigree is also impressive. In 2012, he became only the third driver in series history to win the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East championship as a rookie. In 23 Nationwide Series starts this season, Larson is eighth in championship points with six Top-5 and 13 Top-10 finishes. In two starts in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, he has a win at Rockingham and a second-place finish at Eldora. 

While admitting that jumping to the Sprint Cup Series after less than 30 NASCAR starts will present challenges, the 21-year old Larson said he is not worried about the pressure. "As long as I'm living up to my expectations and Chip's expectations, that's all that really matters,” he said. “I’m not one to pay attention to hype or pressure that other people put on me. As long as I’m running Top-15 (next season), I’m happy with that, no matter what the fans or media (expect).” 

In a related story, Ganassi said there may be a continuing role for outgoing Target Chevrolet driver Juan Pablo Montoya within the team. "We've enjoyed a lot of success with Juan Pablo,” said Ganassi. "He's a great friend of mine... and we are not counting him out of future opportunities"

 

Hooters Returns To NASCAR, Backing Piquet At Chicagoland

Hooters of America, LLC has announced that Hooters will sponsor Nelson Piquet, Jr.'s No. 30 Chevrolet Camaro in the NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Chicagoland Speedway on Sept. 14. The No. 30 car sponsorship celebrates Hooters 30th anniversary year.

The 27-year-old driver, who is competing in his first full season in the NNS for Turner Scott Motorsports, became the first Brazilian to win in one of NASCAR's top-three national touring series events when he took the checkered flag last year at Road America. Piquet Jr. went on to win two more races in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series in 2012, while also earning the series' Most Popular Driver and Most Improved Driver awards. Piquet Jr. is a former Formula One driver and is the son of three-time Formula One world champion, Nelson Piquet.

"With a talented driver like Piquet, Jr., his international presence and a venue like Chicagoland, Hooters is proud to represent the number 30 car as we celebrate our 30th birthday this fall," said Dave Henninger, chief marketing officer, Hooters of America. "The sponsorship gives us a special opportunity to showcase the contemporary evolution of Hooters, while paying tribute to our rich history that includes a longstanding relationship within the sport of stock car racing."   

Part of the Hooters evolution is the expansion of the casual dining restaurant brand into international markets. Chanticleer Holdings, which secured exclusive rights to operate Hooters restaurants in parts of Brazil earlier this year, plans to announce its first Brazil location in the near future.   

"Hooters is such an iconic brand and has a rich history in the sport of stock car racing," Piquet Jr. said. "It's truly an honor to celebrate Hooters' first 30 years and also the brand's growth in global markets like my home country of Brazil."    

The official No. 30 Hooters car design was first revealed to the NASCAR world today via Piquet, Jr.'s Twitter account: @nelsonpiquet. After a series of Hooters clues, Piquet, Jr., unveiled the sleek design that will hit the racetrack in Chicago with the new, modern Hootie owl logo. The design is an intentional nod to the past, painted in the iconic Hooters orange and white color scheme and modeled to pay homage to the famous No. 7 car of the late NASCAR champion and Hooters-sponsored driver, Alan Kulwicki. 

This year also marks 20 years since a tragic airplane accident took the lives of Kulwicki along with Hooters executives Mark Brooks, Dan Duncan and Charlie Campbell. Dedicated to preserving their memory, Hooters will host the 20th annual Hooters Memorial Cup Golf Tournament on Sept. 16, two days after the Chicagoland race, in Marietta, Ga. This special fundraising event has helped generate more than $8 million to-date for the Hooters Community Endowment Fund, which contributes to many of Hooters philanthropic endeavors.

In November 1992, just months before the accident, one of Hooters fondest NASCAR memories occurred as Kulwicki took second place in the season-ending Hooters 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway to clinch the Winston Cup Championship by a mere 10 points, the closest margin in NASCAR history at the time. The race is often regarded as one of the best in NASCAR history, marking the final start in the career of legendary driver, Richard Petty, and series debut for future champion, Jeff Gordon.

Hamlin Reveals Bristol Injury

Add Denny Hamlin to the list of drivers competing with injured hands this weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

The Joe Gibbs Racing driver told Sirius/XM NASCAR Radio’s Dialed In last night that he injured his right hand in the same Bristol Motor Speedway crash that left Truex with a broken a scaphoid bone in his right wrist.

"I couldn't get my finger out of the (steering) wheel quick enough before it spun,” said Hamlin. “It obviously took some ligaments with it.”
 
He said the injury remains painful nearly a week later, adding, “I tested on Monday and Tuesday at Chicago, and I couldn't put my thumb on the wheel."

He said he is wearing a splint on the injured thumb, but downplayed its impact, saying, “"It's just a major jam… ligament stuff. Mine will heal in no time. It's just a different severity (as compared to Truex)."

The injury is the latest in a series of setbacks for Hamlin, who ranks 25th in Sprint Cup Series championship points after missing four races after suffered a compression fracture of his first lumbar vertebra in a March 24 crash at Auto Club Speedway. He will miss the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup for the first time since becoming a full-time series driver in 2006.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Wallendas Attempt Dual Skywalk At Bank Of America 500

CMS Pres. Marcus Smith and BOA's Charles
Bowman with Lijana and Nik Wallenda.
World-famous daredevils Nik Wallenda and his sister, Lijana, will perform a spectacular, death-defying dual skywalk 140 feet above pit road during the pre-race show for the Oct. 12 Bank of America 500.

Nik Wallenda made history earlier this year by successfully walking a wire 1,400 feet across a gorge near the Grand Canyon, live before 21 million viewers on the Discovery Channel. In 2012, Wallenda completed a walk across Niagara Falls from the U.S. into Canada, becoming the first person to do so, and also captivated race fans with a walk from the frontstretch grandstands to Victory Lane at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
“I am very excited to be returning to the Bank of America 500 for the second year in a row. I love the challenge of raising the bar to keep the fans on the edge of their seats,” stated Nik. “Since I come from a family of wire walkers, I figured I would up the ante by inviting my sister to join me high above the track. We are both very proud and honored to be a part of this NASCAR event and the unparalleled history of pre-race entertainment at Charlotte Motor Speedway.”
Prior to the only Saturday night race in the Chase for the Sprint Cup, Nik and Lijana will start at opposite ends of a 460-foot, 5/8-inch wire lifted by two cranes 140 feet above pit road in front of the frontstretch grandstands. They will each walk toward the center and when they meet, Nik will have to cross over Lijana so they both can continue toward the opposite ends of the wire.
In 1977, Charlotte Motor Speedway became the first race track to host elaborate pre-race shows. Through the years, fans have enjoyed a reenactment of the Battle of Grenada; a three-ring circus; numerous world-record automobile stunts; a 5,000-member marching band; professional boxing matches and an assemblage of 5,000 firefighters honoring the heroes of Sept. 11, 2001.
“Extending our tradition of spectacular pre-race entertainment is a challenge we embrace every year for our fans,” said Marcus Smith, president and general manager of Charlotte Motor Speedway. “The Wallendas will take our breath away as daredevils in the air before the world’s best daredevils behind the wheel tangle in a playoff battle on the track. This Bank of America 500 is shaping up to be the most entertaining fall race in our 53-year history.”
Nik and Lijana Wallenda are seventh generation high-wire performers with a legacy of death-defying stunts. Their great-grandfather, Karl Wallenda, brought the act to the United States in the 1928 to perform with the Ringling Brothers Circus. Karl perished during a high-wire act at the age of 73.
Frontstretch tickets with views of the pre-race skywalk and the world’s largest HDTV start at two for just $99 and can be obtained through the Charlotte Motor Speedway ticket office by calling 1-800-455-FANS or online at www.charlottemotorspeedway.com.
 
 

Allmendinger Slated For Full-Time Sprint Cup Return

Just over 13 months ago, AJ Allmendinger was on the outside of NASCAR, looking in. Saturday, he and JTG Daugherty Racing will announce his return as a full-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver in 2014.

Multiple sources say the California native has accepted a multi-year contract offer from team owners Tad and Jodi Geschickter and Brad Daugherty to drive the No. 47 machine, beginning at Daytona in February of next year. He will replace former series champion Bobby Labonte, who has been invited to remain with the team in a non-driving capacity.

An official announcement will come Saturday at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

In three prior races for JTG Daugherty Racing this season, Allmendinger has recorded an average finish of 17th. Labonte has just four Top-20 finishes to his credit this season, with a best of 15th in the season-opening Daytona 500 and an average finish of 27.7.

Allmendinger’s return to the Sprint Cup Series caps a 14-month period where he was suspended by the sanctioning body for violating the sport’s substance abuse policy. He completed NASCAR’s "Road To Recovery'' program in near-record time and has resurrected his career with a series of competitive Sprint Cup Series outing with JTG Daugherty and Phoenix Racing, and two Nationwide Series wins in as many starts with Penske Racing. He also finished seventh in the Indianapolis 500 for Penske after challenging for the win.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

BREAKING NEWS: Labonte Hurt In Cycling Crash

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Bobby Labonte is currently being treated at a local hospital near his home in Trinity, North Carolina after being involved in an accident while riding his bicycle near his home this morning.

Labonte was transported to the hospital by ambulance where he was diagnosed and is being treated for three broken ribs. There are no other injuries. He is being held overnight for observation.
No further update on Labonte's condition is available, Mike Bliss will replace him in the No. 51 Phoenix Racing entry this weekend in Atlanta.

Johnson, KOMA Unwind Return To SoBo Saturday

Rain, rain go away...
The KOMA Unwind Super Late Model team and driver Jerick Johnson return to the legendary South Boston (VA) Speedway Saturday night, for a second crack at the 150-lap Pro All Stars Series event rained out on August 17th. 

The KOMA Kar was positioned on the starting grid and ready to fire its engine when a steady rain began to fall over the speedway, forcing postponement of the event. 

“It has been an unbelievably rainy summer,” said Johnson. “I think we’ve lost more races to rain than we have run, which makes it tough to get any momentum going. We look forward to getting back to South Boston Saturday night – with a favorable weather forecast – and seeing what we can do.” 

The Koma Unwind/Godfather Motorsports machine is slated to start 19th on the grid Saturday night, after posting a time trail lap in 15.732 seconds before the rains came on August 17.  

Practice for the PASS Super Late Model, Pure Stock, Limited Sportsman and Late Model divisions begins at 2:30 PM Saturday at “America’s Hometown Track,” with time trial qualifying set for 5:30 PM. Pre-race ceremonies get underway at 6:45, with the 150-lap Super Late Model feature leading off the program at 7 PM.

About Godfather Motorsports – Godfather Motorsports is owned by Motor Racing Network and Sirius XM NASCAR Radio personality Dave Moody and enjoys major sponsorship from Bebida Beverage Company’s KOMA Unwind "Liquid Relaxation" drink. The team also boasts a comprehensive list of technological and marketing partners that includes Valvoline Motor Oil, Eibach Springs, ASM Graphics, Race 101, CV Products, ARBodies and Phantom Racing Gear. For additional information on the team and marketing opportunities with Godfather Motorsports, contact Dave Moody -- mrnturn1@hotmail.com. Visit the Godfather Motorsports website at www.GodfatherMotorsports.com.

About KOMA Unwind -- 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 POW*MIA Awareness – Godfather Motorsports is proud to support the POW*MIA Awareness Campaign. Driver Jerick Johnson has long been an advocate for veterans’ rights and the United States military. He is a five-time Distinguished Guest of the American Legion National Convention and has earned numerous awards from other veterans’ organizations. Promoting and increasing public awareness of the POW*MIA issue has become his main goal. `Prisoner Of War: Missing in Action’ refers to any soldier taken prisoner by the opposing side during an action of war. It is not always known whether that solider is alive or dead, only that they are missing. Our goal is to remind our fellow Americans that the greatest tragedy of all is to be forgotten, and honor those who have given so much. Jerick thanks Godfather Motorsports for the opportunity to help increase awareness of this issue by carrying the POW*MIA logo on the No. 30 KOMA Unwind Chevrolet.

Trinity Oaks Ford Returns To Action Saturday Night at South Boston

After suffering through the latest in a summer-long series of rain-related postponements at the legendary South Boston (VA) Speedway two weeks ago, Godfather Motorsports and the Trinity Oaks Ford Fusion team return to “America’s Hometown Track” Saturday night to complete the 150-lap Pro All Stars Series event that was rained out on August 17th, just prior to the command to fire engines. 

“It’s been an eventful couple of weeks,” said Godfather Motorsports owner Dave Moody. “Prior to the rainout, we had a head gasket issue that caused the car to overheat and lose power. It required us to pull the engine and ship it back to the builder for repairs this week, so for once, the rain actually helped us. We’ll be back Saturday night with a rebuilt engine, ready to roll.  

“We will be required to start at the back of the pack, but with 150 laps to work, the Trinity Oaks Ford will have plenty of time to work its way forward.” 

Practice for the PASS Super Late Model, Pure Stock, Limited Sportsman and Late Model divisions begins at 2:30 PM Saturday, with time trial qualifying set for 5:30 PM. Pre-race ceremonies get underway at 6:45, with the 150-lap Super Late Model feature leading off the program at 7 PM.  

About Godfather Motorsports – Godfather Motorsports is owned by Motor Racing Network and Sirius XM NASCAR Radio personality Dave Moody and enjoys major sponsorship from Trinity Oaks Senior Living Community of Salisbury, NC. The team also boasts a comprehensive list of technological and marketing partners that includes Valvoline Motor Oil, Eibach Springs, ASM Graphics, Race 101, CV Products, ARBodies and Phantom Racing Gear. For additional information on the team and marketing opportunities with Godfather Motorsports, contact Dave Moody -- mrnturn1@hotmail.com. Visit the Godfather Motorsports website at www.GodfatherMotorsports.com.

About Trinity Oaks Senior Living Community -- Located in historic Salisbury, North Carolina near the gently rolling hills of the Blue Ridge Mountains and a few hours from the magnificent Carolina beaches. The community is conveniently located near Interstate 85 and midway between two airports, Charlotte and Greensboro, making travel easy. Here, the area is highlighted by gentle changes in the seasons. Trinity Oaks is a continuing care retirement community where those 60 and over focus on enhancing life’s many opportunities. The Trinity Oaks campus has become a Salisbury landmark where traditions of the past blend with the culture of the future. historic Salisbury, NC, Trinity Oaks is a continuing care retirement community where residents age 60 and over enjoy a lifestyle filled with activities, group and individual outings and personal enrichment opportunitie. Its impeccably maintained campus is a Salisbury landmark, blending traditions of the past with state of the art amenities, fine dining and time spent in the company of others who share a passion for life. Learn more about Trinity Oaks at www.trinityoaks.net.

NASCAR's Herbst Says No TV Changes Expected In 2013

NASCAR Vice President Of Broadcasting and Production Steve Herbst has denied published reports that ESPN and Turner Sports are attempting to exit their NASCAR television contracts a year early, selling rights to 2014 Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series broadcasts to FOX and NBC.

“Despite recent reports to the contrary, nothing substantive has been presented to NASCAR regarding broadcast partners’ plans to alter our TV agreement in 2014,” said Herbst in a written statement today. “We’re very happy with our current broadcast partners and fully expect and are excited to be back with FOX, Turner and ESPN next year. These types of discussions happen regularly across the sports television landscape, very rarely resulting in changes to a media rights agreement.”

The sanctioning body recently announced a new 10-year broadcast contract with FOX and NBC that begins at Daytona in February of 2015. Sports Business Journal has reported that ESPN and Turner Sports have inquired about foregoing the final year of their respective contracts by selling the rights to FOX and NBC. While all four networks are reportedly interested in the deal, major road blocks remain concerning compensation.

It's Official! Harry Scott To Purchase Phoenix Racing

Allgaier drives at Chicagoland
Harry Scott, Jr. has finalized his agreement with James Finch to purchase Phoenix Racing. Scott will formally assume ownership of the team on September 10, with Justin Allgaier behind the wheel of the No. 51 Chevrolet in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Geico 400 at Chicagoland Speedway. 

"This is a very proud day for me as I will have the opportunity to compete against the best teams in motorsports in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series as the owner of Phoenix Racing," said Scott. "I am going to build a championship contender with hard work, the right people and the right partners. This team has a great foundation thanks to the efforts of James Finch. There is a lot to build upon and I am looking forward to getting started." 

Scott's role as a co-owner in Turner Scott Motorsports is unchanged and he will continue to take an active role in that team, on and off the track. "I owe a lot of gratitude to Steve Turner for bringing me into the sport as an owner. My experience at TSM will continue to serve me well in this next step," said Scott. 

Driver Justin Allgaier is making the move with Scott from TSM to Phoenix Racing, and will drive the No. 51 Chevrolet in its debut at Chicagoland Speedway, as well as in two additional races this year. Allgaier is currently fifth in points in the NASCAR Nationwide Series and will continue his pursuit of that championship for TSM. 

"I'm thrilled for the opportunity and grateful to Mr. Scott that he's asked me to drive for him in the No. 51. Chevrolet. I love competing in the NASCAR Nationwide Series but I must admit that making my debut in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series will be a special day for me," said Allgaier. 

Scott has signed a deal with BRANDT to be the primary sponsor of the No. 51 for three NSCS races this season. BRANDT, which also sponsors Allgaier in the NNS for Turner Scott Motorsports, will be the primary sponsor of the No. 51 at Chicagoland, Charlotte Motor Speedway and Talladega Superspeedway. Allgaier will be the driver for each of those races. 

"We are celebrating the company's 60th Anniversary and so this move to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series is made even more special because we are debuting at our home track at Chicagoland," said Brandt CEO Rick Brandt.

Phoenix Racing, which was established in 1989, has one win, four Top-5 and 15 Top-20 finishes. The one win was the memorable 2009 victory at Talladega's Aaron's 499 with Brad Keselowski behind the wheel. 

Scott has committed to keeping the Phoenix Racing team intact for the remainder of the season. Allgaier's crew chief will be Nick Harrison. Harrison is a third year crew chief and has worked with several drivers including Kurt Busch, Landon Cassill and A.J. Allmendinger. Phoenix Racing's general manager, Steve Barkdoll, will continue in his role after Scott takes over. 

The team will continue its relationships and alliances with Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports and Earnhardt Ganassi Racing. 

Scott is working with NASCAR for final approval.  

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Truex Injured At Bristol, Will Race At Atlanta

An MRI yesterday has confirmed a scaphoid fracture and sprain of Martin Truex Jr.’s right wrist suffered in Saturday night’s accident at Bristol Motor Speedway.  

Doctors fitted Truex with a special cast today that he will wear indefinitely. The cast will enable him to grip the steering wheel, and he will compete in Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Atlanta Motor Speedway, as well as in the 11 remaining races.
Truex worked closely with NASCAR this week and has been cleared to race.  
A multi-car crash collected Truex on lap 448 Saturday sending his NAPA Auto Parts Toyota into the outside wall. He was treated in the Infield Medical Center and released.  MWR has yet to determine if a stand-by driver is needed for this weekend.  
Truex is 14th in the points and holds the first of two wildcard entries as he seeks his second consecutive berth in NASCAR’s Chase for the Sprint Cup.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Miller Replaces Childers As No. 55 Crew Chief

Childers to sidelines
Michael Waltrip Racing announced today Scott Miller, its vice-president of competition, will oversee the crew chief duties on No. 55 Aaron’s Dream Machine Toyota for the remainder of the 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup season. 

Miller will take the lead role on the No. 55 Toyota team working with driver Brian Vickers. Miller replaces Rodney Childers who remains under contract with MWR through December 31.
Billy Scott, a race engineer with MWR since 2008 and exclusive to the No. 55 the past two seasons, will take an elevated role in car set up and race weekend preparations.  
Vickers will drive the No. 55 in the remaining 2013 races except at Talladega when two-time Daytona 500 champion Michael Waltrip climbs behind the wheel. Vickers won the July 14 race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in the No. 55. The team is 19th in the car owner standings.  
Miller is a 20-year motorsports veteran who joined MWR before the 2012 season and played a major role in bringing the team its first two Chase berths last year. He has served as crew chief for several teams during his career.

Busch's Signing A Match Made In Heaven. Or Hell.

Busch To SHR In 2014
Kurt Busch confirmed today that he has signed a multi-year contract to drive for Stewart Haas Racing in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, beginning next season. 

That signing – while technically not official until a 2 pm ET announcement by the team tomorrow – sets up a powerhouse lineup that includes a pair of former series champions in Busch and Tony Stewart, a perennial title contender in Kevin Harvick and much-heralded sophomore Danica Patrick. 

It’s a match made in heaven.  Or hell.  We’ll just have to wait and see. 

In Busch, Stewart and Harvick, SHR has assembled three thoroughbred talents; elite drivers who have always been – and expect to be – the lead driver in their operation’s respective lineup. There’s an old adage that says, “If you’re not the lead dog, the view never changes,” and it will be interesting to see how SHR handles three drivers who have grown accustomed to that lead-dog view.  

Busch and Harvick will talk more next year.
While Stewart and Harvick are close friends off the race track, neither man is thought to be especially close with Busch. His hiring has already caused some awkward moments inside the walls at SHR when Stewart declared, "We are not ready to expand to a fourth team,” just days before discovering that his partner, Gene Haas, had already committed to doing so. 

Those speed bumps will be smoothed over quickly, if they haven’t been already, and history indicates that off-field closeness is not a requirement for on-track success. 

Former Oakland Raiders owner Al Davis made a career of melding a rogue’s gallery of malcontents and rebels into winning, cohesive teams. The Boston Red Sox experienced success in the 1980s despite a contentious clubhouse lineup that inspired the phrase, “25 players, 25 cabs.” 

They don’t have to like each other, they just have to win. 

On paper, the 2014 Stewart Haas Racing lineup seems certain to do just that. Not all preseason powerhouses experience success, however.  

In 1987, team owner Rick Hendrick hired champion driver Darrell Waltrip and teamed him with renowned crew chief Waddell Wilson to form what many called NASCAR’s “Dream Team.” The tandem failed to mesh, however, with Waltrip going winless through the first 12 races of the season before Wilson was replaced by Jeff Hammond in one of the greatest disappointments in the sport’s modern era. 

“Waddell Wilson was one of those things I felt strongly about,” said Waltrip, years later. “When I got Waddell, I thought we could put together a team that could be as dominant as anything anyone had ever seen. But the ‘Dream Team’ turned out to be a nightmare.” 

"This is the kind of situation every driver wants to be in and I'm grateful to Gene Haas and Haas Automation for providing me this opportunity," said Busch to The Associated Press today. "Gene wants to win, and wants me to go out there and perform to the best of my abilities." 

Hopefully, that will be enough.

 

Stewart Haas To Announce Busch's Signing Tomorrow

Busch and Stewart; teammates in 2014
Haas Automation founder and co-owner of Stewart-Haas Racing Gene Haas will join SHR competition director Greg Zipadelli at a press conference announcing the signing of former NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Kurt Busch to a multi-year contract tomorrow at 2 PM ET at the SHR complex in Kannapolis, NC. 

SHR did not mention Busch by name today, saying only that tomorrow’s Press Conference will deal with “future expansion of Stewart-Haas Racing.”  

The team confirmed recently that they have made an offer to field a fourth SHR Chevrolet for Busch next season, sponsored primarily by Hass. Busch’s current team, Furniture Row Racing, offered to extend Busch’s current contract late last week, but sources say the single-car team’s offer it fell far short of what SHR was able to put on the table. 

Busch told FOX Sports NASCAR writer Lee Spencer today, “it’s inked.” 

With Busch now headed to Stewart Haas, Furniture Row Racing finds itself in the market for a new driver. Sources say they have reached out to two-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series winner Juan Pablo Montoya, who learned earlier this month that he will not return to Chip Ganassi Racing’s No. 42 Target Chevrolet in 2014. Busch is currently 12th in points – just six out of the Top-10 – after a right-rear hub failure relegated him to a disappointing, 31st-place finish at Bristol Motor Speedway Saturday night.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Logano Primed For Another Shot At Victory

Logano won big at Michigan
Joey Logano comes to Bristol Motor Speedway this weekend gunning for his second consecutive Sprint Cup Series win, after claiming the checkered flag last Sunday afternoon at Michigan International Speedway.

Logano said his Michigan score “was huge. Obviously, it couldn’t come at a better time and at a better race track to keep our Chase hopes going.  I felt like our two best shots were last weekend and this weekend. We capitalized 100-percent last week with the pole, leading the most laps and winning the race, and I feel like we’ve got another really good shot at it this weekend after seeing the way we ran here in the spring. 
“We’ve got a notebook to go off of now that we’ve come here for the second time.”
Despite the win, he said he will approach Saturday night’s race the same way he has approached them all in recent weeks.
“Over the last few weeks – ever since the All-Star Race – this team has been really good and really consistent and making up a lot of points. When we had an opportunity to win, we were able to capitalize on it last weekend.  I think we’ll do the same thing (at Bristol). 
“We still can’t afford to have a bad race,” said Logano, who is 17 points outside the Top-10 and in solid contention for a Wild Card selection to the Chase. “These are three very, very important races.  I think our goal is to get in there on points right now (and)  I think if you have two wins, you’re pretty confident you’re gonna be in it.
“If we can get that win, it would be huge. If not, we’ll have some points we’ve got to make up. But this team can do it.  I’m very confident coming into this weekend, for sure.”
While not necessarily predicting this kind of success in his first year with Penske Racing, Logano said he is not surprised, either.
“The cool thing about racing is you never know what’s going to happen. That’s the cool part about life; you never know.  You just kind of go with the flow. The way I live life is, I just go with it. 
“This year has had a lot of ups-and-downs and about every situation you can go through in one season, so I look at it as being pretty entertaining and a lot of fun.  I think this team has been very strong, and the chemistry between Todd Gordon and myself has been growing. We’ve been making faster and faster cars, and everyone at Penske Racing is too. Brad and myself have been working great together. 
“I think everything is going as planned at the beginning of the season.” 
Logano said despite joining a team that already featured the defending Sprint Cup Series champion, he felt immediately at home at Penske Racing.
“Anytime you come into a new company and your teammate has just won the championship, it makes it very hard to be the lead dog,” he admitted. “But Roger (Penske), Walt (Czarnecki) and all the guys at Penske Racing have done a great job of making us equal and valuing my opinion.
“Obviously, if you tell them what you want and need in your race cars, it’s your job to go out there and produce after you get that. That’s what we were able to do and that’s what raises your value up and raises your voice up also when you’re in there talking. 
“That win was big for a lot of reasons, believe me.”
After being waist-deep in the Silly Season discussion a year ago, Logano said drivers in that situation must work hard to retain their focus in the final races of the year.
“Oh yeah, it’s a distraction,” said Logano. “I can tell you that much. It really sucks, to be honest with you, so it’s nice to be in the position I’m in now with a great company and a great sponsor like Shell and Pennzoil.  I’ve been through it in multiple years, and when you’re trying to make the Chase, you’ve got to have 100-percent focus.  That’s what you’ve got to have, but, at the same time, you can’t afford to not think about what your future is and where you’re going to go and what’s going to happen. 
“You have to compromise and you’re going to take something away.  You’re going to take some of that concentration away from the racing side, to make sure you have a secure future for the next year.  You can’t give up what you’ve got, but you’ve got to do both somehow, and it’s hard to do both.”

Stewart's Injury Caused By Broken Torque Tube

Stewart Haas Racing driver Mark Martin and Competition Director Greg Zipadelli said today that the injury that sidelined Tony Stewart for the remainder of the season was caused when his Sprint Car’s torque tube broke loose on impact and broke his leg.

“Evidently, the rear ends can’t come back because they hit the fuel cell,” said Martin, who spoke with Stewart earlier this week and discussed the crash. “When the car went upside down, the rear end was able to get below the fuel cell and it was able to pull like the drive shaft (torque tube)… yoke out of the front side. That is what got him.
“Technically, I shouldn’t even answer that question because I’m an idiot,” said Martin. “I haven’t ever been closer than 10 feet to a Sprint Car, so I don’t know what I’m talking about.”  
 Zipadelli confirmed Martin’s explanation, saying, “The torque tube came out and hit (Stewart). There is protection, but obviously that hoop that is there is not enough to contain it.  I think that is the area they are working in.”
Asked about Stewart’s recent pledge to return to Sprint Car racing in 2014, Zipadelli said, “I think it’s too early to get into that stuff.  He needs to go through his (rehabilitation) process right now and we need to go through ours. We need to spend time talking, honestly. 
“I don’t think you can take Tony Stewart and tell him he can’t drive other cars.  That is what makes him who he is.  Can we get him to cut his schedule back? Can we get him to look at things; can we help him with this movement of making the cars safer for everybody, including himself?  I think those will be the things that come in the next couple of months.”

Zipadelli Explains Timeline On Kurt Busch Offer

"We are working on it..."
Stewart Haas Racing Competition Director Greg Zipadelli eliminated all doubt today, confirming that the tram is pursuing former series champion Kurt Busch to drive a fourth SHR Chevrolet in 2014.

“We are working on it,” said Zipadelli, “and if we can get it all worked out, we are going to head that way.
“We are looking to expand,” he continued. “We are looking to do whatever we can to make Stewart-Haas a better place to race (and) give our drivers better resources.  Our goal is to give our teams better product to race every week, going into Daytona.  With four good drivers next year, I think that it gives us that opportunity. Our owners are aggressive. It’s kind of exciting. In a time where everybody is kind of going the other way, we’ve got owners that are committed to stepping up and hopefully making Stewart-Haas a bigger and better place in the future.”
He also explained the sequence of events that led to Busch’s offer, just days after Tony Stewart had insisted that the team was not looking to expand.
“Gene Haas is obviously a partner, and started this many years ago,” said Zipadelli.  “He has always liked Kurt. We had talked about Kurt last year -- putting him in the No. 39 (instead of Newman) – but things just didn’t work out. 
“It’s really nothing that Ryan did wrong,” Zipadelli said. “He’s done a great job. He’s a good guy, a heck of a driver. This just kind of got sprung on us 14 days ago or less. Gene showed some interest and (has) the ability to put something together. Without getting into a ton more details, that is really all it is. 
“It’s something we are working on, (but) I don’t know that it will all come together,” he cautioned. “It’s going to take an awful lot.  It is kind of late.  We didn’t think we would have all the pieces to put together at Loudon, and felt like it was the best thing for Ryan to give him a fair shot at securing something for himself.”

Martin "A Little Bit Nervous" About Substitute Role

Despite being one of the most experienced and respected drivers in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series garage, Mark Martin said today that he is feeling the pressure of replacing Tony Stewart in the No. 14 Chevrolet.

“I’m a little bit nervous,” admitted the 31-year Sprint Cup Series veteran. “Today is going to be action packed, with a short amount of practice to qualify and get ready to race tomorrow night; all packed into one day. I’m excited about the challenge and I’m extremely committed to do a good job for this race team, for this group, for Tony and hopefully turn his car back over to him in as good or better standing than when it was turned over to me.”
SHR Competition Director Greg Zipadelli made no attempt to hide his happiness with obtaining Martin for 12 of the final 13 races, saying, “For us it’s a homerun. Obviously, he has big shoes to fill (taking) Tony’s seat and there are not many guys in the garage who could do that. We all agreed that if there was any way to get Mark Martin, he was the guy that would do us the best job.
“We said we were going to take our time and try to be as calculated as we could. We felt like it was the best opportunity for the No. 14 car to perform on a weekly basis and do our sponsors the justice that they deserve.”
Martin said he visited Stewart in person earlier this week, joking, “I couldn’t get a word in edge wise. That tells you what two weeks of bed rest does for you.  He went into great detail about the accident, what caused the injury and the fix for that particular freak accident. All the stars had to line up just perfectly for that to happen where it injured him. He went through in great detail how they were going to address preventing that from ever happening again in Sprint Car racing. He talked a lot about Sprint Cars, a lot about safety in Sprint Cars and we talked some about injuries. 

“Finally, after about an hour of Tony never taking a breath, I got a chance to talk a little bit. I had some injury stories for him. We had the biggest laugh. I thought he was going to start crying once, (we were) laughing so hard. I told him about when I had my foot and ankles broken... the story about when Darrell Waltrip drove my car at La Crosse, Wisconsin.  We had a really good time (and) we did talk a little bit about the No. 14 car and about Cup racing.  We had a really good time and he was in really good spirits.”
Martin said last week’s announcement that Brian Vickers will drive Michael Waltrip Racing’s No. 55 Aaron’s Toyota full-time next season, “obviously opened the door for this to happen. It’s been a work in progress since Brian’s win up at New Hampshire. Getting Aaron’s re-signed, getting Brian signed, getting all those parts and pieces of the puzzle together… it was just a matter of timing.  Once they got that done, signed and announced, it was a win/win for everybody.  It’s a win for Brian, it’s a win for Michael Waltrip Racing, and it’s a win for myself to have the opportunity to be a small part of Stewart-Haas. 
“I’m not sure I can describe what it means to me that Tony wanted me to do this,” said Martin. “He is definitely one of my heroes. I’m a little bit nervous about today, because I feel like it is an extraordinary challenge. I see a lot of faces I’m not sure I can put names to just yet.  This is going to be an action-packed two and a half hours (of practice) today, then we are going testing next week at Richmond. I think that will help us start getting in the groove, and as we go forward I think things will smooth out.  It’s been pretty intense so far this week.”