Monday, March 31, 2014

What, No Snow Titan?

More than 80 inches of snow has fallen at Michigan International Speedway this winter. And with just a week to go before NASCAR’s fastest track opens its gates for a Goodyear Tire Test, MIS President Roger Curtis decided it was time to call in the big guns to melt ice and snow from the track.
Michigan International Speedway maintenance crews used old-fashioned know how Monday, enlisting the help of jet dryers to melt snow drifts and sheets of ice on some areas of the racing surface. 
The ice was several feet thick in some places, especially in shaded areas of the track. And while temperatures are expected to be warmer this week and next, it was important to get a jump on melting the ice before cars test.
The jet dryer was first used in the early-70s to melt snow at Michigan International Speedway. It evolved to eventually be the primary means NASCAR used to dry racetracks after rain-delays. Today, jet dryers have been replaced by NASCAR’s new Air Titan 2.0 technology. 

Curtis said he expects all the snow and ice will be gone by next week.

Jimmie Johnson's Brother In Law Killed In Skydiving Incident

The brother-in-law of six-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson was killed Sunday in a skydiving accident near San Diego.

Jordan Janway was killed after apparently suffering a midair collision with his jump partner and being rendered unconscious and unable to deploy his parachute. Janway, 27, was the younger brother of Johnson’s wife, Chandra Janway Johnson.

A statement on Jimmie Johnson’s website confirmed Janway’s passing today, saying, "The Johnsons are saddened by the tragic passing of Chandra’s brother, Jordan Janway. Jordan was an incredible son, brother, uncle and friend and will be dearly missed. Please keep the Janway family in your thoughts and prayers. The family asks for privacy at this time." reported today that Janway, an experienced skydiver with more than 1,000 successful jumps, was training fellow employees of Skydive San Diego, practicing a maneuver called “tracking” when he collided with his jump partner. Each diver’s parachute bag includes a chip that deploys the chute automatically if a jumper’s descent exceeds a certain rate of speed. However, as an experienced skydiver, Janway was not required to carry a chip, and elected not to do so.

He was reported missing at approximately 4:30 p.m. Sunday and his body was discovered less than an hour later. The other involved jumper was uninjured. San Diego County sheriff's deputies are investigating the incident.

Photo Credit:

Newfound Maturity Carries Busch To Victory Lane

Busch (41) and Keselowski battled...
Kurt Busch broke a 12-year Martinsville Speedway winless streak in the STP 500 Sunday, returning to Victory Lane for the first time in 83 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series starts and authoring the latest chapter in his ongoing story of personal redemption.

Busch’s victory did not come without its challenges. Nothing ever does for the 2004 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion. He and Brad Keselowski tangled on pit road in the race’s early laps, after Keselowski ran into the back of Kasey Kahne’s slowing Chevrolet.

“I started to check up and just barely got in the back of (Kahne),” said an angry Keselowski afterward. “Kurt just accelerated and drove through us, absolutely drove through us. (He) tore the whole suspension off the car, so it won’t turn, it won’t do anything.

“I’m about tired of his recklessness,” he said. “If you're going to be aggressive, wreck yourself, don't wreck me. I'll remember that when it's Lap 50 and he needs a break. He'll find his ass turned around in the wall, just like he tore my car up.”

...before Kurt prevailed.
Keselowski and Busch have seldom seen eye-to-eye, even as teammates during Keselowski’s 2010 rookie season at Penske Racing. Busch criticized his teammate at the time, calling him “rough edged” and accusing him of not providing feedback the team needed to improve. Those comments echoed long after Busch left the team in a maelstrom of controversy the following season, and Sunday, Keselowski reacted angrily to what some viewed as a run-of-the-mill case of pit road contact. He returned to the track after lengthy repairs and immediately went after Busch, leaving the No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet with tire marks down its entire right side.

“I can't believe he overreacted and he's as upset as he is," said Busch after the race. "The 5 car was trying to pull into his box and Brad ran into the back of him. I steered right to go around Brad and then he clobbered our left-side door. (I’m) like, `OK, accidents happen on pit road. It's congested.’

“It's not a place to race, because of all the pit crew guys down there. I didn't think much of it, (but) once we were back running, he targeted us. He was aiming for us. He tried to flatten all four of my tires.”

In the past, those altercations would have derailed Busch mentally and ended his chances of winning the racer. Sunday, however, the Stewart Haas Racing driver kept his cool and maintained his competitive focus, displaying what longtime girlfriend Patricia Driscoll later termed “clarity of mind.” There was no lengthy, obscenity-laced radio tirade -- though Busch did promise to "go #@$%& that dude's face up" -- no temper tantrum and no time wasted on thoughts of revenge.

Busch passed Johnson with 10 laps to go.
Displaying none of his former petulance, Busch kept his eyes on the prize, working with his team to fine-tune his race car and beginning a climb back through the pack that ended with an unlikely trip to Victory Lane.

“This is an unbelievable feeling,” said Busch after claiming a .263-second victory over eight-time Martinsville winner Jimmie Johnson. “To get back to Victory Lane after this tour that I’ve been on, to find this opportunity with Stewart-Haas and to win, it means the world to me.”

Only after victory was secured did Busch allow himself to think about – and comment on – his clash with Keselowski, calling the on-track contact “a punk-ass move" before vowing, “He will get back what he gets back when I decide to give it back.”

Keselowski responded in kind, saying Busch “does awesome things for charity and he's probably the most talented race car driver.

“He's also one of the dumbest."

Post-race posturing notwithstanding, however, Busch displayed a level of maturity and restraint at Martinsville Speedway yesterday that has not often been seen during the 14 Sprint Cup Series seasons that preceded it.

Apparently, two years spent rebuilding his competitive stock and resurrecting his off-track reputation at Phoenix Racing and Furniture Row Racing have been time well spent.

RPM Enjoys Solid Day At Martinsville

Richard Petty Motorsports celebrated the life of Mrs. Lynda Petty Sunday, paying tribute to the matriarch of the Petty family by claiming a pair of Top-10 finishes in the STP 500 at Martinsville Speedway.

Marcos Ambrose and the No. 9 DEWALT Ford team finished fifth, while Aric Almirola raced the famous STP colors and the No. 43 Ford to an eighth-place finish.  The results marked the 100th and 101st Top-10 finishes in RPM's relatively short history. In 516 starts with seven different drivers since 2009, RPM has averaged a Top-10 finish every five races. 

Ambrose and Almirola account for 41 of those Top-10s, and have finished in the Top-10 four times this season. Ambrose was especially strong Sunday, leading a total of 22 laps.

"We spent a lot of money and a lot of effort in getting Richard Petty Motorsports back on the map and I think you're seeing the results," said Ambrose. "We've been fast for about four weeks in a row and we're just starting to hit our stride.  We're going to win one of these soon, lock ourselves in the Chase and feel good about our chances.

“We've had a really tough week (after) we lost Miss Lynda,” he said. “We really wanted to win for (the Petty family), but we'll take a Top-5. Our guys had their best day on pit road in a long time and Drew Blickensderfer and Derek on the pit box made great calls late in the race.  If we would have had another round of pit stops, we might have had something for them."  

As RPM closes out the month of March, Ambrose is currently 14th in the championship standings and in position for a Chase birth. Almirola has rebounded after a costly wreck at Auto Club Speedway in California last week, and is only 20 points out of the Top-15 in championship standings.
This is the best start since the ownership of Richard Petty, Andrew Murstein and Doug Bergeron took control of the company.  


Saturday, March 29, 2014

Truck Qualifying Rained Out At Martinsville

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series qualifying has been rained out this morning at Martinsville Speedway.

As a result, the field for this afternoon’s Kroger 250 will be set by combined practice speeds from Friday afternoon. Darrell Wallace Jr. will start on the pole after posting the fastest practice time. Wallace won here at Martinsville in October, after starting third.

Unofficial Starting Order
Pos         #              Driver
1                54            Darrell Wallace Jr.
2               29            Ryan Blaney
3                17             Timothy Peters
4               51             Erik Jones
5               30             Ron Hornaday Jr.
6               31             Ben Kennedy #
7                7                Brian Ickler
8               77             German Quiroga
9               00            Cole Custer
10             88            Matt Crafton
11             20            Gray Gaulding #
12             32             Ben Rhodes
13             92            Ross Chastain
14             98            Johnny Sauter
15             9               Chase Pistone #
16             5               John Wes Townley
17             19             Tyler Reddick #
18             21             Joey Coulter
19             35             Mason Mingus #
20            8               John Hunter Nemechek
21             33             Brandon Jones
22            13             Jeb Burton
23             02            Tyler Young #
24            74             Alex Guenette
25            23             Spencer Gallagher
26            75             Caleb Holman
27             99            Bryan Silas
28            68            Clay Greenfield
29            07             Ray Black Jr.
30             56            Raymond Terczak Jr.
31             63             Justin Jennings
32             66            Josh Williams
33             50            Travis Kvapil
34             08            Korbin Forrister
35             57             Norm Benning

36             10             Jennifer Jo Cobb

Friday, March 28, 2014

Gordon Hoping For More Martinsville Success

Jeff Gordon summed up his long record of success at Martinsville Speedway today in just six words.
“Great race cars, great race teams.”
The Hendrick Motorsports driver is an eight-time winner at Martinsville, along with recording 27 Top-5 and 34 Top-10 finishes in 42 career starts. Those numbers rank him among the best ever at the Virginia short track, and the credit, said Gordon, goes to his team.
“Hendrick has always given us great cars, even when I started coming here,” he said. “I found something that worked for me and not a lot has changed (over the years). This weekend is the most drastic change I have seen in a long time, because of the new ride-height rules. But for the most part, not a lot has changed as far as how the cars are set up and how you drive the track since I first started coming here. 
“It’s nice to have something… that has worked and can be a constant you can come back with and make work over and over again.”
Gordon said new 2014 rules have changed some of the particulars on his race car’s set-up, and also impacted the way he drives the car.
“Whether it’s rolling out of the brakes sooner, getting on the gas sooner or harder, or not slowing the car down as much getting in the corner… usually the grip of the car tells you that. You are constantly seeking the limit of the car and finding that edge. There is more grip in the car because of the spoiler and ride heights, (but) nothing has changed.
“The teams have made the cars faster and you are always having to push yourself and the car.”
Still seeking his first win of the 2014 season, Gordon said he is anxious to make it to Victory Lane and punch his ticket to the Chase.

“There are a lot of guys are out there that haven’t won yet, and are really hungry to get that win because we see how important it is. It’s not just important to lock yourself in the Chase, we are all here to try and win the championship. (Winning) is a huge step forward to winning the championship, because of how you approach each race after you have gotten a win.” 

Defiant Hamlin Says "My Health Is My Business"

Hamlin unhappy with speculation
Denny Hamlin explained today why the ailment that sidelined him from last Sunday’s race at Auto Club Speedway took so long to clarify.
In short, it’s none of your business.
A defiant Hamlin took aim at rampant internet and garage-area gossip mongers today, telling reports that, “My health is my business.’’
Joe Gibbs Racing announced Sunday that the Fed Ex Toyota driver would not compete in the Auto Club 400 due to sinus-related vision problems. After four days of uninformed and sometimes malicious speculation, JGR revealed this week that Hamlin’s malady was no more serious than a sliver of metal in his eye.
Hamlin said the metal was removed from his eye on Monday, but that rust surrounding the wound could not be extracted until it hardened two days later.
“I didn’t want to be speaking out of line and not know exactly what I’m talking about,’’ said Hamlin. “We didn’t know until Wednesday. I don’t need to justify a lot to a lot of people. The important people are NASCAR and my team guys.
“My health is my business.’’
Hamlin is a former Martinsville winner
Hamlin then lambasted rumors that his absence from last Sunday’s race was due to a more serious medical condition, or even drugs.
“People who think negatively of me, or think we sidestepped (a) drug test is ridiculous,” he said. “I’m in one of the top three cars. I would have to be an absolute moron... to risk that. I have a daughter I have to provide for, for a long time. For people to question who I am -- inside and outside the race car -- I’ve never done anything to put that in question.”
Hamlin said that while he is a public personality, he does not deserve the sort of harmful scrutiny he received this week.
“I go to Bobcat games,” he said. “I go out and hang out with friends in public. I don’t stay tucked in my motorhome (and) I don’t stay tucked into my house. It’s not what I like to do. Because I’m out there a little bit, people think I go out and I party.
“I don’t drink hardly at all (and) I’ve never done drugs. I’m as clean as they come. I don’t know why people question who I am outside the racetrack, because I worked too hard to get here… to throw it all away.
“If anyone has any questions about that, they can ask me directly.”
He then threw down a bold prediction for Sunday’s race at Martinsville Speedway, saying, “I’m going to win it this weekend. I promise you that.’’

Edwards Optimistic About Martinsville Chances

With a win to his credit two weeks ago at Bristol Motor Speedway, Carl Edwards said today that he comes to Martinsville Speedway more confident than ever before.
“This is the most fun I’ve had coming to Martinsville for a while,” he said. “We’ve basically got no pressure. We got to try a bunch of stuff in practice… and our Fastenal Ford was pretty good. We laid down what I thought was a pretty good lap in qualifying trim, but it didn’t seem very good. So we’re going to swing for the fence in qualifying and hopefully have a good, solid lap to get us through that first round.”
Despite a mediocre track record at the Virginia oval, the Roush Fenway Racing driver said he enters the weekend with confidence.
“I’m an eternal optimist when it comes to Martinsville, but it doesn’t seem to work out,” he said. “But I feel like we have an opportunity to try some things because of our position in the points (and) already having a win. Jimmy (Fennig) and the guys are making bigger adjustments than we normally make. If we get to practice tomorrow -- if the weather holds off -- the reason I’m optimistic is because we can try all those things and (maybe) find something. If we were a little more nervous, we would be more reluctant to take big swings at it. We’re not worried about wasting time. We’re not worried about making mistakes. We’re just going to go out and be extremely aggressive. That’s a fun way to be able to come to a race at Martinsville.”
While Roush Fenway Racing has never prospered at Martinsville Speedway, Edwards said the organization got an eye-opener last season when Matt Kenseth contended for the win.
“At first, it was a little embarrassing for our whole company.” He admitted. “It’s like, ‘Man, we need to do a better job. All of us do.’ But then (Robbie) Reiser and I talked about it, and it was the best thing that could happen for us. It reminds us that we can do it. 
“I can’t speak for Matt, but listening to him talk, I don’t think he thought he was very good at Martinsville. That’s how I felt for a long time, but seeing him do (what he did) made me realize that maybe I am able to do it.
“Maybe I just need to communicate better. Maybe we need to work with the engineers better. Maybe I need to pay more attention to the other cars.  It’s a pretty good motivator, and we talked about it a lot at the shop. It shows us that it can be done, that we can go do it.”
Edwards also admitted studying tape of rivals Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon, hoping to gain an edge that could carry him to Victory Lane Sunday.
“I don’t want to say specifics, but those guys are very good here. I’ve talked to Jimmie a little bit about it and he just says, ‘You’ll figure it out.’ He’s really nice about it and then changes the subject. Those guys are spectacular here. They’ve very good. In my first few years, I would get out of the car and go watch Jeff Gordon. The way he drives around here is just so smooth and precise. They’re able to do things that I’m not able to do, so I’ve just got to keep working on it.”
Edwards added that he is anxious to secure a second win as soon as possible, since he believes more than 16 drivers will visit Victory Lane in the first 26 races. 
“It feels that way,” he said. “It feels like there are more competitive cars. The disparity throughout the field is smaller between the cars, so it’s not just the win that has us feeling like we can be aggressive. It’s our points position. 
“If we were 20th in points right now, we would feel a lot different,” he said. “If we were to have trouble the next couple weeks and fall in points, we would go back to racing more conservatively, so that we didn’t fall any farther. I feel like if we can go another month or month-and-a-half and we’re still leading the points or close, we’ll be locked in. The easiest way, though, is to just go win another race.
“We’re going to go for it and try to get that win while we have the points to lose.”
Edwards also expressed happiness with NASCAR’s new Chase system, saying, “I was one of the biggest skeptics of the point system and the changes to the car and all of that stuff, but it’s really proven to be better. I hope it continues for the rest of the season. 
“It’s easy for me to say that with the position we’re in. We’re leading the points with a win and our season is going as planned. But it appears to be pretty entertaining (and) I hope the fans are enjoying it.”

Harvick Honors Firefighters Who Saved His Home

Four months after Kevin Harvick and his wife DeLana awakened to the sound of their home’s smoke detector, the driver of the No. 4 Budweiser Chevrolet SS visited the Oak Ridge (NC) Fire Department to thank the firefighters that helped saved his home.

“If it weren’t for these guys, I wouldn’t have a house,” said Harvick who brought his 18-month-old son Keelan to tour the fire station on Thursday with Chief Steve Simmons. “We didn’t think anything was actually on fire, because we couldn’t see any flames and figured the smoke was coming from the fireplace.”

Members of the Oak Ridge Fire Department were dispatched to the Harvick family’s home in the early morning hours of November 27, 2013. With the help of thermal imaging cameras, the unit was able to locate the fire, which was located between the basement ceiling and main level of the house.

“Chief Simmons and his guys knew exactly what to do and were able to contain a small mess that could have been a very big mess,” said Harvick. “We’re very fortunate.”

“I cannot think of better example of how smoke detectors save lives than Kevin and DeLana’s story,” said Simmons. “They have a very nice home and lots of nice things, but the best investment they made in that house was the smoke alarm.”

In addition to this week’s firehouse visit, Harvick and the No. 4 Budweiser Chevrolet team will host five members of the Oak Ridge Fire Department at Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway. Chief Simmons and four additional firefighters will serve as honorary crew members in appreciation of their efforts last November.   
The No. 4 Budweiser Chevrolet will also carry a special decal this weekend to recognize the members of the Oak Ridge Fire Department who responded to the emergency call. The decal features the Oak Ridge Fire Department’s badge and the words “Smoke detectors save lives.” It will be located on the C-post of the car.

Harvick and his family are currently living with his mother-in-law, Joyce Linville, in nearby Kernersville, N.C., while repairs continue on their primary residence.

NASCAR Debuts Air Titan 2.0

NASCAR introduced the Toyota-hauled next generation of Air Titan today at Martinsville Speedway.

Air Titan 2.0 is a more compact, more nimble and more environmentally friendly version of its predecessor; one that since its introduction in February 2013 has rescued multiple races, including this year’s Daytona 500.

Air Titan 2.0 replaces the bulky support vehicles required by Air Titan 1.0 with a single, self-contained unit  perched on the bed of a Toyota Tundra pickup. By addressing the size of the power source, NASCAR now has the ability to deploy up to 21 units simultaneously at larger venues and operate more efficiently on smaller tracks.

The Air Titan 2.0 more than triples the blade capacity of the original version, delivers 2.6 times more air volume at a speed of 568 mph and raises the air temperature by 70 degrees over ambient. With the combination of water removal and accelerated evaporation, the ultimate goal is to reduce track-drying time by 80 percent.

Air Titan 2.0 will consume nearly 80 percent less fuel and emit 80 percent less carbon dioxide. It will work in conjunction with the Eco-Infused Elgin Track Vacuum/Sweeper and existing jet dryers. In coordination with the roll out of the Air Titan 2.0, Elgin has now become the Official Sweeper of NASCAR Green.  

“Developed by our engineers at the NASCAR R&D Center, Air Titan 2.0 will help us more quickly return to racing, which serves our most important mission – the enjoyment of our fans,” said Brian France, NASCAR chairman and CEO. “It’s faster, more agile and eco-friendly. The new Air Titan creates the ultimate win-win-win for our sport, our fans and our environment.”

In 2012, France challenged the NASCAR R&D Center to develop a system to significantly reduce track-drying time to enhance the fan experience. The initial Air Titan configuration debuted during Daytona Speedweeks in 2013.

“The first phase of the Air Titan system has been an overwhelming success,” said Gene Stefanyshyn, NASCAR vice president, innovation and racing development. “Based on our experience and learning, the staff at the NASCAR R&D Center has worked tirelessly to develop Air Titan 2.0. We will continue to innovate and develop the technology to further increase its efficiency and sustainability.”

“The Air Titan 2.0 is the latest example of NASCAR making substantive changes to our operations and business practices to help reduce the environmental impact of our sport,” said Dr. Mike Lynch, NASCAR vice president of green innovation. “We welcome Elgin to the consortium of more than 20 Official NASCAR Green Partners that utilize the platform as a proving ground to validate its green technologies.”  

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Goodyear Completes Sonoma Tire Test

Five NASCAR Sprint Cup Series teams completed a rain-dampened two-day Goodyear tire test at Sonoma Raceway yesterday.

Intermittent rain fell at the raceway both Tuesday and Wednesday, but Marcos Ambrose, Kyle Busch, Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart and Brian Vickers were able to log approximately nine hours of track time over the two days.

“Goodyear had a pretty stout tire here last year, and they want to improve on it if they can. They came here with some different compounds to try, and a good mix of teams and drivers to get feedback,” said Ambrose, who started from the pole in Sonoma in 2012. “We also get a chance to set up the car up with the new technical regulations, which is helpful for the team. Ninety-five percent of the time was getting tires dialed in for Goodyear, and then the rest of the time was for us to see what we’ll need when we come back.”

The two-day test marked the first Goodyear Sprint Cup Series tire test of the year, and is currently the only scheduled road-course test.  Goodyear worked closely with the teams and drivers to develop a durable race package while giving teams the appropriate amount of grip.

“It’s always great to do some type of preparation for road racing. Typically we do it at tracks back east that are fun and give us some information, but not accurate information like the track we actually race on in Sonoma,” said Gordon, who has posted five Sonoma victories. “This is definitely something that we’ve been looking forward to because I love the road courses, but any kind of data and information we can get before we come to the race is always beneficial.”

NASCAR returns to Sonoma Raceway June 20-22 for the Toyota/Save Mart 350. For more information, visit or call 800-870-RACE.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Hamlin Cleared To Race At Martinsville

Joe Gibbs Racing driver Denny Hamlin will race this weekend at Martinsville Speedway, after NASCAR received official confirmation from his doctors that he has been medically cleared to return to regular racing activities. 

Hamlin first visited the infield care center at Auto Club Speedway Saturday night, bothered with an irritation in his eye. He returned to the Infield Care Center again on Sunday morning because his condition had worsened. It was at this time that it was determined by the medical team onsite that he would not be allowed to race due to a sinus infection that was impacting his vision. The doctors at the Care Center referred him to the local hospital for further evaluation. 
During the evaluation at the hospital. a small piece of metal was also found to be in Hamlin’s eye. Doctors were able to remove the sliver of metal and Hamlin felt immediate improvement to his condition. A CT Scan did not find any other complications and thus it is believed that the metal was actually the source of Hamlin’s vision issues. He was released from the hospital Sunday afternoon and was given the doctor’s approval to fly home. 

Hamlin was then evaluated by a doctor in the Charlotte area on Monday and was sent home to rest. He was instructed to return Wednesday for a follow-up examination.  Following today’s examination, his doctors provided the necessary approval for Hamlin to resume all racing activity without restriction. NASCAR has received official confirmation from his doctors clearing him to resume racing this weekend at Martinsville Speedway.

Hamlin is scheduled to meet with the press in the media room of Martinsville Speedway this Friday at 2 PM ET.

Stremme To Drive For Circle Sport Racing At Martinsville

Circle Sport announced today that that NASCAR veteran David Stremme will return to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series this weekend at Martinsville Speedway in Martinsville, Va., driving the No. 33 Mace Chevrolet in Sunday's STP 500. 
Mace is a manufacturer and provider of personal defense, safety and electronic security products for home, school, business and law enforcement use. 
"I am excited to return to racing in the Sprint Cup Series," stated Stremme. "The Circle Sport team has done a great job in building their race program and the success of the No. 33 car.  And to be able to partner with Mace Brand and their charity initiatives this week makes it even more special.  They support very worthy organizations which falls in line with what I have been involved with in my years of NASCAR racing.  I look forward to a very successful weekend with this No. 33 Mace Chevrolet."   
Stremme has 340 starts in NASCAR's top three Series with 190 starts in the Sprint Cup Series. He last raced for Swan Racing in the Sprint Cup Series during the 2013 season. 
Mace formed the Mace Cares program in 2013 as a way to provide support and assistance for individuals at risk throughout our communities.  In recognition of this program, the sponsorship will feature ribbons on the No. 33 Chevrolet honoring the National Center for Victims of Crime, Casting for Recovery and The Centers for Families and Children. 

"We are honored to represent Mace in their first involvement in NASCAR," added Circle Sport owner Joe Falk.  "They are a tremendous company and their support of great causes and desire to feature them on the car shows you what kind of people they are.  We are also excited to welcome David Stremme to the team and his past involvement with like-minded charities completed the perfect match for us.  We look forward to a strong showing on Sunday in Martinsville and showing the Mace folks what NASCAR is all about."

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

No. 39 Nationwide Team Sanctioned By NASCAR

The No. 39 team that competes in the NASCAR Nationwide Series has been penalized as a result of a rules violation committed during last week’s event at Auto Club Speedway. 

During post-race inspection on March 22, the No. 39 car driven by Ryan Seig incurred a P3 level penalty by violating Sections 12-1 (actions detrimental to stock car racing) and 20A-12.8.1C (car exceeded maximum rear body height requirement during post-race inspection) of the 2014 NASCAR rule book. As a result, crew chief Kevin Starland has been fined $10,000 and placed on NASCAR probation until Dec. 31. In addition, car chief Timothy Brown has also been placed on NASCAR probation until Dec. 31.

Lynda Petty Dies At Age 72

Lynda Petty, wife of NASCAR Hall Of Famer Richard Petty and matriarch of stock car racing’s most legendary family, has passed away today at the age of 72.

Lynda Owens and Richard Petty were married on July 22, 1958, while she was a 17-year old High School student and he was in the earliest days of his stock car racing career. They eloped to South Carolina and kept their marriage a secret for three months, until Richard could raise enough money to afford a proper wedding ring.
“I brought her home (and) dumped her out in the middle of town,” said Richard Petty in a 2009 SPEED TV interview. “She went into her house and I went home. I took me three or four months to get a diamond for her, and by the time we got the money, I bought a diamond and told everybody we were married.”
As Petty’s driving career flourished, he and his young wife agreed on a division of responsibility that held for the remainder of their lives. Richard ran the race team and Lynda ran the household.
“We sat down and said, ‘This is how it’s going to be,’” recalled Richard. “`I’m going to be gone racing, but I’m going to make the living. You bring the kid (Kyle) and make sure he’s fed. You do your part and pay the bills. I’ll bring the money in and throw it on the table. You take care of everything.’

“That’s the way it worked,” he said. “She had her responsibilities and I had mine.”
Richard and Lynda Petty 
It was a role Lynda willingly accepted, even when required to be the disciplinarian of the family.

“Ask Kyle, ‘Did your daddy ever whip you?’ and he’ll say, ‘No, but my mother wailed the daylights out of me,’” said Lynda in that 2009 interview. “I disciplined (the children) and never even bothered Richard with it. I took care of them and they loved him to death.

“They still do.”

Lynda was diagnosed with a brain tumor and cancer of the central nervous system in 2010, and while she eventually beat the cancer, the treatments took a heavy toll. She suffered numerous small strokes in recent years which severely impacted her mobility, memory and quality of life.

“It was time for me to slow down and start taking care of her,” said Richard Petty in early 2012. “She’s been taking care of me all these years, (and) everyone adapted to make things a little easier for her. It was hard on me and hard on the family, but it was hardest on her.”

Daughter Lisa Petty Luck said her parents maintained a deep bond, even as Lynda’s health failed.

“They’ve always had an ability to communicate,” said Luck. “He still calls her twice a day if he travels, and even though she can’t really remember that he’s called, she always lights up when she hears his voice on the phone. He always says, ‘I love you,’ and she says, ‘I love you too.’

“Even though there isn’t a lot they can communicate about these days, they always tell each other they love each other.”

Lynda Petty leaves her husband of 55 years and four grown children; NASCAR driver-turned television analyst Kyle Petty, Sharon Petty Farlow, Lisa Petty Luck and Rebecca Petty Moffit, in addition to 12 grandchildren.

A private memorial service for family and friends will be held at Reverie Place in Randleman, North Carolina which Pastor Kenny Crosswhite will officiate. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Petty Family Foundation, 311 Branson Mill Road in Randleman, N.C. 27317.  

A public memorial service will not be held and the family asks for privacy at this time. The family offered a  statement to the public, saying, "We wish to sincerely thank everyone who has supported us and our family throughout the years and at this time. We will forever love and miss a wife, mother, grandmother, great grandmother and friend."

Photo Credit: Chris Keane, Petty Images for NASCAR

Monday, March 24, 2014

Turner Scott To Run Rhodes In Five NCWTS Races

Turner Scott Motorsports has announced that Ben Rhodes will run five NASCAR Camping World Truck Series races during the 2014 season in the No. 32 Alpha Energy Solutions Chevrolet Silverado, beginning at Martinsville Speedway. The 17-year-old is currently competing full time in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East for TSM and has received three pole awards and one win in four starts this season.

A native of Louisville, Kentucky, Rhodes made his TSM debut last year when he ran a partial NKNPSE schedule and received two Top-5 and five Top-10 finishes in seven starts. He was also selected as a member of the 2013 NASCAR Next class, a select group chosen by the sanctioning body that spotlights NASCAR’s rising stars with the most NASCAR Sprint Cup Series potential. Most recently, Rhodes claimed his first NKNPSE victory at Greenville-Pickens Speedway.

“I’m really thankful for this opportunity,” said Rhodes. “I can’t thank Harry Scott and Steve Turner enough for giving me this chance to gain valuable experience behind the wheel of one of the best trucks in the Truck Series. I also appreciate the ongoing support from Alpha Energy Solutions this season and hope I can make everyone proud. I’m really excited to start off at Martinsville, since I’ve got short-track racing experience and plan to carry momentum from my K&N win over to the No. 32 truck. Turner Scott Motorsports is a top-notch organization and I hope to learn a lot this year from both my Truck Series team as well as my K&N team.”

Rhodes will be under the direction of three-time NCWTS championship-winning crew chief Mike Hillman Jr. throughout the five races. In 2013, Hillman directed the No. 4 truck driven by NCWTS Rookie of the Year contender Jeb Burton and claimed one victory, seven pole awards and finished the season in fifth place in the NCWTS standings. Hillman and Rhodes will team up for the following races:

3/29 -- Martinsville Speedway
5/30 -- Dover International Raceway
8/20 -- Bristol Motor Speedway
10/25 -- Martinsville Speedway 
11/7 -- Phoenix International Raceway

“Ben is a very talented and deserving driver,” said TSM co-owner Harry Scott, Jr. “I’ve enjoyed watching him grow as a racer, as well as a young ambassador of the sport. Ben has proven to be a pleasure to work with and I look forward to his continued success within our organization.”