Thursday, January 28, 2016

Darlington Announces Retro Southern 500 Tickets

When fans received their Darlington Raceway tickets in the mail last season, the throwback look commemorating the track’s 1974 ticket was enough to bring back nostalgic memories.  

In the second year of its throwback campaign, Darlington has announced that it will once again commemorate the sport’s rich history with a retro-style ticket for its events on September 2-4, 2016. 

The retro design will mimic the look of the ticket from the 1978 Southern 500. It features South Carolina native and Darlington Raceway legend David Pearson, the track’s all-time leader in  Cup Series wins with 10 victories. Similar to last season, the ticket will also link eras by honoring last year’s Bojangles’ Southern 500 winner, Carl Edwards, in a similar fashion. 

“The retro-style ticket was one of many touchpoints fans enjoyed during last season’s throwback festivities,” track President Chip Wile said. “We felt that it was important to continue to honor our rich history with a tremendous champion like David Pearson, while also celebrating last year’s winner Carl Edwards, on the ticket.” 

These special tickets will be used for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Bojangles’ Southern 500 and NASCAR XFINITY Series VFW Sport Clips Help A Hero 200. Tickets are expected to be mailed to customers in mid-June. 

Ticket renewals have been mailed reminding fans to renew their seats for the 2016 Labor Day race weekend. Renewing early guarantees seats at the track’s best prices prior to the opening of all remaining seats to the general public on February 17. 

“We want our fans to take advantage of all the great pricing and benefits we offer during the renewal period,” Wile said. “This is the best way to guarantee your seats or campsites for Labor Day weekend, which will feature another exciting throwback celebration in 2016.” 

Renewing customers receive a number of benefits, including the raceway’s best pricing for Labor Day weekend. Other benefits include a five-part payment plan, special renewal pricing for Darlington Stripe Zone Hospitality ($30 savings), special renewal pricing for pre-race pit passes ($5 savings) and a $10 savings on all-inclusive driver intros, pre-race concert and pre-race pit road access.  

In addition, renewing fans will receive special pricing for FanVision rentals ($15 savings) and Racing Electronics scanner rental ($10 savings), in addition to an opportunity to purchase NASCAR XFINITY Series VFW Sport Clips Help A Hero 200 tickets for just $25 each when renewing a Bojangles’ Southern 500 ticket package. 

Guests may renew their tickets and campsites by calling 866-459-RACE (7223) or visiting The renewal deadline is Friday, Feb. 5.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

COMMENTARY: Godspeed, Barney Hall

We knew this day was coming. But still, we weren’t ready. 

Barney Hall passed away yesterday from complications following a recent medical procedure. He died in his hometown of Elkin, North Carolina, where he was born and lived his entire life. Barney was a small-town boy in the purest sense of the term, and the values he learned in a town that rarely topped 4,000 residents served him well in his 83 years. 

Barney knew everyone, but his circle of true friends was relatively small. He made a living with his voice, but was shockingly shy and soft-spoken. It took time to get to know Barney, but to be his friend was well worth the wait. In his career as a broadcaster, he earned enough awards and honors to fill a dozen mantels.  

He was one of a handful of broadcasters good enough to be identified specifically with his sport. Like Vin Scully in baseball or the late Dick Irvin in hockey, Barney Hall was NASCAR. 

But as I mourn Barney’s passing today, I don’t think of the awards and honors. 

I think of Barney Hall, the man.

Barney was born to call stock car racing. From his early days on a tiny Elkin AM station to the modern era of NASCAR, his smooth-as-silk baritone and understated style served as safe harbor in a sport awash in hyperbole. He began as a public address announcer at local, North Carolina short tracks, and soon graduated to the PA microphone at Bristol Motor Speedway, pulling down the princely sum of $75 for a weekend’s work.

When Bill France, Jr., needed voices to broadcast the inaugural Daytona 500 on a daisy-chain network of southeastern radio stations in 1959, Barney was one of the first to sign-on. His voice became instantly familiar to race fans across the south – as comfortable as a favorite pair of slippers -- and when the Motor Racing Network was chartered in 1970, Barney was there as its lead turn announcer.

Pick a landmark moment in the history of the NASCAR since then, and Barney Hall was there to provide the sound track.

In an era when drivers and media members traveled together, shared hotels and patronized the same after-hours establishments, Barney was the ultimate NASCAR insider. He traveled with Hall Of Fame driver David Pearson for many years, riding shotgun in Pearson’s private airplane and eventually becoming an accomplished pilot himself. His relationship with flight service meteorologists around the country made him the go-to guy for the latest race track weather forecast, and his stories of NASCAR “back in the day” were poignant, gripping and often hysterical. Dinner with Barney Hall, especially on a night when he could be convinced to indulge in an amaretto sour or two, were events not to be missed.

MRN president David Hyatt called Barney "perhaps the most trusted reporter of his day.” And in all our years working together, I never knew him to break a confidence. When controversy reared its ugly head – as it often does in professional sports – crewmembers, fans and members of the media would flock to Barney in search of the inside scoop.

“What’s really going on, Barney?” they’d ask.

“Aw, it’ll all come out in the wash,” he’d reply, before slowly meandering away.  Another secret kept safe, forever.

I learned a lot from Barney about how to operate in the NASCAR garage, how to cultivate relationships and treat people properly.

“You talk to a lot of people,” he told me, many years ago. “I see you in the garage. People tell you things because they trust you, and because they know you won’t throw them under the bus to get a scoop.

“That’s a good way to do business,” he counseled. ”A scoop lasts 24 hours, if you’re lucky. But if you ruin a man’s deal by talking about it too soon, he’ll never tell you anything again.”

Barney brokered dozens of deals over the years, matching at-liberty drivers with team owners in search of talent.

“You really should go talk to that guy,” he’d say. And in a matter of hours, the deal was done.

Barney’s impeccable advice made him a mentor to many of us who make our livings covering NASCAR. His soaring example made us better, more conscientious broadcasters; better prepared, always thinking of the listeners, always striving for more.

In recent years, the steady encroachment of age and illness made life on the road difficult for Barney. Commercial air travel – exhausting for people half his age – took a heavy toll, as did separation from his beloved Karen; his chief organizer, supporter, cheerleader and the love of his life for the last 35 years. 

Barney’s impossibly high standards made him his own worst critic, and in recent seasons, he complained privately that while he knew exactly what he wanted to say, the connection between his brain and his vocal chords had slowed. The same words that had flowed so effortlessly -- for so long -- now came more slowly. Or sometimes, not at all. 

Most of us barely noticed. Barney’s “bad broadcasts” were still 50-percent better than we mere mortals could muster. But to him, it was an unconscionable decline. In his final season of 2014, Barney would often seek me out after a race, apologizing for what he considered a sub-par performance.  

“You bailed me out a few times today,” he’d say. “Thank you for that.” 

My response was always the same. 

“Barney, you’ve bailed us out for 50 years. If I can throw you a line every decade or so, it’s the least I can do.” 

Barney called his final race in July of 2014 at Daytona International Speedway, a fitting farewell for a man who – by his own count – broadcast 154 race events at “The World Center of Racing.” In 2003, he missed his first Daytona 500 broadcast when his beloved mother passed away during Speedweeks. When we traveled from Daytona Beach to Elkin to attend her wake and comfort him in his time of grief, Barney was predictably apologetic, feeling he was “letting us down” by missing the biggest race of the year. 

Barney, you never let us down. Not once. 

You were our anchor, our leader and the man we relied upon – in good times and bad – for more than half a century. You steered our ship through sometimes angry seas, charting a course that was unfailingly professional, compassionate, correct and sincere.  

You taught us to pull together, covering each other’s mistakes and making the next man in line look better; all for the good of the broadcast. 

You taught us the value of truth, honesty and respect. Of gentleness, humility and humor. 

You taught us to be better broadcasters, better people and better friends. 

We will never forget you – or the lessons you taught – so long as the roar of racing engines can be heard on the radio dial. 

Thank you, Barney Hall.  

And Godspeed.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Ragan, DiBenedetto To Drive For BK Racing

David Ragan
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series veteran David Ragan will join the BK Racing line-up in 2016, driving the No. 23 Toyota Camry.

During his 15-year career across all three national touring divisions, Ragan has claimed four victories, 33 Top-five and 93 Top-10 finishes. His most recent trip to Victory Lane came at Talladega Superspeedway in the 2013 Aaron's 499. 

"I'm happy to be part of something that has so much growth potential," said Ragan. "Ron Devine has steadily built his program over the last five years. He's made an even greater commitment in 2016 with new cars, equipment, and additional personnel. I feel that we'll be in a position to bring the team to the next level. I'm looking forward to the season."
Team owner Devine said he is confident in his new driver.
"We're very excited to have a driver of David's caliber join our team," said Devine. "In addition to being a race winner, I feel that his input and leadership qualities will benefit the team on many levels. Our entire organization is energized to work with him." 

Dr. Pepper will return to the No. 23 Toyota as a primary sponsor for multiple races throughout the 2016 season. Dr. Pepper associate branding will also appear on all of BK Racing's cars throughout the season. 

Matt DiBenedetto
"We are thrilled to be partnering with BK Racing for the fifth year and excited about the new heights that this team will be able to reach with the addition of David Ragan," said Jaxie Alt, SVP of Marketing for Dr. Pepper. Additional sponsorship for the No. 23 team will be announced in the coming weeks. 

Matt DiBenedetto will return to pilot BK’s No. 83 Toyota Camry as a teammate to Ragan, with veteran crew chief Gene Nead atop the pit box.  

"Last year I learned a lot from everyone here at BK Racing and I'm looking forward to having a full notebook heading into the season," DiBenedetto said. "Ron, Gene and the team have put in a lot of work over the offseason and we are all looking forward to Daytona.” 

Dustless Blasting will sponsor DiBenedetto in the Daytona 500 and in multiple races this season, as will Cosmo Motors of Hickory, North Carolina. 

"We're excited to have Matt back with us for 2016," said Devine. "We were very pleased with the progress he made throughout his rookie season and we look forward to continuing down that path."

Friday, January 22, 2016

TBR Comments On Bowman's Firing Via Twitter

When I pressed `refresh’ on Twitter, it said I was fired.” 
Tommy Baldwin Racing offered an explanation today for the bizarre series of circumstances that resulted in driver Alex Bowman learning of his release from the team on Twitter. 

Bowman told SiriusXM NASCAR Radio late Thursday that he had yet to be officially informed of his release, adding, “There hasn’t been any conversation with Tommy. I talked to him on Monday and everything was good. I talked to him late Wednesday night and everything was good. I went to the gym yesterday morning… and when I pressed `refresh’ on Twitter, it said I was fired.” 

TBR issued a written statement today calling the manner of Bowman’s release “unfortunate and certainly unintentional. The culture of doing business in motorsports has become more complex and involves many parties such as agents, business managers, attorneys and sponsors. A comment in passing may be overheard and subsequently conveyed to the media. 

“Our intention, as it always is, was to follow business protocol and notify Alex and his management of our decision,” said the statement. “Again, it’s unfortunate that confidentiality was compromised, and the news delivered in this manner.” 

The statement continued, saying, “The business of NASCAR is no different than any other professional sport. There are a lot of moving parts and pieces behind the scenes that fans and media don’t see. Decisions are made carefully over a period of time and are influenced by many factors. As the competition and business models change in NASCAR, it’s the responsibility of teams to make decisions accordingly. We felt that we needed to make some changes, and the driver was one of them. 

“Alex Bowman is a talented, young race car driver,” said the team. “He has a good future ahead of him. We appreciate his time with us and wish him well.” 

Bowman, meanwhile, took the high road, saying, “I guess you’ll have that in big-time auto racing. I’m disappointed that it worked out that way, but I’m really appreciative of everything TBR did for me. Tommy and everyone were like a big family to me for a little over a year now.  

“It’s unfortunate that it had to turn out this way, but I’m really looking forward to my nine (FINITY Series) races with JR Motorsports.”  

Smith Salvages Season With TBR Sprint Cup Ride

Seven days ago, Regan Smith was contemplating the prospect of driving nails for a living, instead of race cars. Yesterday, however, the Cato, New York native was announced as the new, full-time driver of the No. 7 Nikko RC/Road Rippers Chevrolet for Tommy Baldwin Racing.

The move, which caught even Smith by surprise, will see him replace Alex Bowman at the wheel of the No. 7 Chevy this season.

"Seeing what they've done to take the program to the next level has been fun for me," said Smith, after announcing his new deal on Sirius XM NASCAR Radio’s SiriusXM Speedway. "Tommy Baldwin is a competitive racer and so am I, so I'm excited to see what we can do together."

He called the prospect of going without a ride in 2016 “terrifying,” adding, “we’ve got a baby at home who turns one next month. I’m only 32-years old, which is still pretty young in this sport, but I had to consider the possibility that there was nothing out there for me.

Smith revealed that he was contacted by Tommy Baldwin Racing only on Tuesday of this week.

“Obviously, it came together fast,” he said. “Faster than I have ever seen something like this happen.”

In a written release, team owner Tommy Baldwin said, “This is a really great time for us. Having a driver with Regan's credentials further elevates our program. He's a seasoned driver and a proven race winner. We're really looking forward to 2016."

Stewart: “I Want To See Brian France At The Track"

“I think that’s where he needs to be..."
Tony Stewart offered a blunt assessment of NASCAR’s chairman and CEO yesterday, saying Brian France needs to spend more time at the race track and less in the board room.

Speaking in an exclusive interview on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio’s SiriusXM Speedway Thursday, Stewart said, “I want to see Brian France at the track more. I want to see him walking through the garage. I want to see him being more active than just showing up, patting the sponsors on the back and going up to the suite. I want to see him down there in the trenches with everybody, understanding what’s truly going on.

“I think that’s where he needs to be for a while."

France has traditionally been less visible in the NASCAR garage than his grandfather and father before him, leaving race day decisions to his officials while concentrating on marketing, sponsorship and his long-term vision for the sport. Stewart said that approach sometimes results in France being out of touch with the sport’s grass roots.

"I would like for him to be there,” Stewart said. “I want to know before I leave the room that he understands (what we’re saying). I want to see he cares enough to be there, not get a report from somebody.”

NASCAR Chairman Brian France
Stewart recounted an incident last season at Pocono Raceway when he had “a disagreement” with France over a proposed, low-downforce aerodynamic package for NASCAR’s Sprint Cup Series. Stewart was in favor of the change, while some NASCAR officials — including vice president of racing development Gene Stefanyshyn — advocated adding additional downforce. A high-downforce package was ultimately utilized at Michigan International Speedway later in the season, with disappointing results, prompting a bit of an “I told you so” from Stewart.

"I sat (at Pocono) thinking, 'Wait a minute. You’re standing up for a guy (Stefanyshyn) who’s never worked on a race car, never been on a race team and now is making decisions on what the rules package is going to be, versus guys who have been driving a race car for 20 or 30 years,’” said Stewart. "You’re telling us that guy is smarter than we all are? That’s where Brian France and I disagree, a lot.

You never see Brian," added Stewart. "He shows up at the drivers' meeting and you never see him after that. But I picked up what Brian was putting down. He's right, it's their series and they've got to make the decisions. Just because it's my idea doesn't mean it's the right idea.

“But I would like to think that in the 37 years I've been in racing, I've learned a thing or two."

The three-time Sprint Cup Series champion claimed to be the only driver willing to tell France when he is wrong, adding, "that’s the problem.

“Nobody wants to disrupt the apple cart, nobody wants to make Brian mad. But we’re all in it together,” said Stewart. “I’m not trying to pick a fight with him. (But) if it doesn’t work for one, it doesn’t work for all of us.

“I don’t care what the repercussions are. I’m saying it because I care.”

Stewart admitted that NASCAR’s new Driver’s Council has improved communication between the sanctioning body and its competitors in recent weeks.

"It's getting better,” he admitted. “It's much, much better. Now, we meet with NASCAR more frequently and (Stefanyshyn) has been a part of those meetings. The whole demeanor of those meetings is totally different than when Gene started; when he had his idea… and all of us were telling him we thought it needed to go a different direction."

Stewart made it clear, however, that he wants to speak directly to France -- rather than his underlings – to ensure that his message gets delivered accurately.

"I know Brian France cares,” said Stewart. “But I think there are a lot of things that get lost in translation between a driver going to talk to somebody in the (NASCAR) trailer and the time it gets to him. Who knows what it sounds like by the time it gets up there, or if it even gets up there at all?

“He doesn’t have to say anything,” said Stewart. “We just want to know that he’s hearing what we’re saying."

NASCAR Hall Of Fame Induction Ceremony Postponed

Due to the inclement weather conditions in the Charlotte region, the NASCAR Hall of Fame has amended its Induction Ceremony and NASCAR Fan Appreciation Day activities this weekend.

The NASCAR Hall of Fame will remain open today (Friday). Due to the anticipated ice and snow accumulations during the course of the day, the venue will close early at 2 p.m. ET. 

The Induction Ceremony scheduled for this evening will be moved to tomorrow (Saturday, Jan. 23) beginning at 2:30 p.m. ET, airing live on NBCSN, Motor Racing Network and SIRIUS XM NASCAR Radio. The event will also stream on NBC Live Extra.  

The Induction Dinner will be adjusted to a luncheon format on Saturday at the Charlotte Convention Center, beginning at 1 p.m. ET. Activities that were scheduled for today leading up to the Induction Ceremony -- including Hall of Famer autograph sessions and the Red Carpet event -- will be canceled altogether.

In addition, Fan Appreciation Day activities including autograph sessions and programs will be canceled for Saturday at the NASCAR Hall of Fame. The venue will have a delayed opening at 12 p.m. ET and will honor the free admission that Fan Appreciation Day offers guests. The venue will close at 5 p.m. ET.

For those guests who secured autograph session tickets, the venue is exploring options to accommodate fans, which will be announced by the end of next week. Due to the complexity of NASCAR and driver schedules, the Hall will not be able to reschedule a complete day of Fan Appreciation Day programming.

For more details, visit Updates are available at or by following @NASCARHall

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Bass Pro Shops Joins Martin Truex, Jr.

Bass Pro Shops will serve as a primary co-sponsor on Martin Truex Jr.’s Furniture Row Racing Toyota Camry during the 2016 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season. The announcement was made today at NASCAR's Media Tour in Charlotte. 

The partnership calls for nine primary Bass Pro Shops paint schemes on Truex’s No. 78 Toyota, beginning with two races during Daytona Speedweeks; the 150-mile qualifying race on Thursday Feb. 18 and the season-opening Daytona 500 on Sunday Feb. 21.

Bass Pro Shops’ remaining seven primary races on the No. 78 will be at Phoenix (March 13), Fort Worth, Texas (April 9), Talladega, Ala. (May 1), Kansas City, Kan. (May 7), Charlotte (May 29), Daytona (July 2), Bristol, Tenn. (Aug. 20) and Homestead, Fla. (Nov. 20). Bass Pro Shops will have an associate sponsorship status when it’s not a primary on the No. 78 Furniture Row Racing Toyota.

The partnership represents an expansion of Bass Pro Shops longstanding relationship with Truex, an avid outdoorsman, who was previously sponsored by the Springfield, Missouri-based company from 2004 through 2009 when he drove for Dale Earnhardt Inc., which resulted in two Xfinity Series Championships (2004, 2005).  Bass Pro Shops was the primary sponsor of these two championships.

NASCAR Announces Changes To Dash For Cash, Truck Series Caution Clock

NASCAR's Steve O'Donnell
NASCAR Executive Vice President and Chief Racing Development Officer Steve O’Donnell announced today several racing-related innovations to the NASCAR XFINITY Series and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, beginning with the 2016 season, designed to ignite and energize the growth of each series.

In the NASCAR XFINITY Series, each event in the annual Dash 4 Cash program will now be comprised of Two Heats and a Main Event. Drivers who win two of the four Dash 4 Cash bonuses are also virtually guaranteed a spot in the 2016 NASCAR XFINITY Series Chase. 

In addition, the rugged NASCAR Camping World Truck Series races now will feature a Caution Clock, which will be triggered at the start of each green-flag run. When the green flag is displayed, 20 minutes will be placed on the clock. If/when the clock expires, a caution will be thrown. 

“These innovations contain the elements of racing that our fans want the most,” said O’Donnell. “The enhancements put a premium on in-race strategy, and will create an unprecedented level of excitement as teams make tactical decisions that could impact their spot in the Chase.”
The NASCAR XFINITY Series Dash 4 Cash will be comprised of Two Heats and a Main at four tracks: Bristol Motor Speedway (April 16), Richmond International Raceway (April 23), Dover International Speedway (May 14) and Indianapolis Motor Speedway (July 23). 

Qualifying for each Dash 4 Cash event will set the 40-car field and the starting positions for the Two Heats with the fastest qualifier awarded the Coors Light Pole Award. Odd-numbered qualifiers (1st, 3rd, 5th, etc.) will start in the first Heat in respective order, while even-numbered qualifiers (2nd, 4th, 6th, etc.) will start the second Heat in respective order. 

The Two Heats will set the starting positions for the Main with the top two NASCAR XFINITY Series regulars in each Heat becoming eligible for the Dash 4 Cash bonus. The highest finishing driver among the four Dash 4 Cash eligible drivers will be awarded a $100,000 bonus. If any driver wins two of the four Dash 4 Cash bonuses available, he/she is all but guaranteed a spot in the 2016 NASCAR XFINITY Series Chase. In short, two Dash 4 Cash bonuses are equivalent to one race win in the new NASCAR XFINITY Series Chase format.  

Drivers must have declared to earn NASCAR XFINITY Series points in order to be eligible for the NASCAR XFINITY Series Dash 4 Cash bonus.  

In addition, a Caution Clock will be utilized in each NASCAR Camping World Truck Series event (except for Eldora Speedway). The clock will be set to 20 minutes and triggered at the start of each green-flag run during race events. When the clock counts down to zero, a caution flag then will be displayed and no beneficiary will be awarded. A caution occurring before time expires resets the clock when the subsequent green flag is displayed and the first truck a lap down will be the beneficiary.  

The caution clock will be turned off with 20 laps to go at all events in the series, with the exception of Canadian Tire Motorsport Park and Pocono Raceway, where the clock will be turned off with 10 laps remaining.

NASCAR Announces Chases For XFINITY, Trucks

Using the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup format introduced in 2014 as a guidepost, NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France announced today the implementation of a playoff system in both the NASCAR XFINITY Series and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. 

On the heels of a 2015 Chase that saw the highest season-finale viewership in nearly a decade, the NASCAR XFINITY and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series will each feature a seven-race Chase to decide its respective championships, starting in 2016.  

“Fans, partners and the industry have embraced the new Chase format like nothing we’ve seen in the sport’s history,” said France. “Winning never has been this important, and the excitement generated the past two seasons in the Sprint Cup Series has led to this implementation of the Chase format in all three national series. Competition in both the NASCAR XFINITY Series and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series will undoubtedly elevate to new heights and shine a spotlight on the rising stars of our sport.” 

The NASCAR XFINITY Series and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series will implement seven-race, three-round Chase formats with unique characteristics but very much in the same spirit of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. All three series will conclude the Chase with a Championship 4 race at Homestead-Miami Speedway to crown a champion. However, all three will begin at different tracks: Chicago (Sprint Cup Series), Kentucky (XFINITY Series) and New Hampshire (Camping World Truck Series). 

Drivers still must declare a series in which they will earn points, and will only be eligible to compete for a championship in that series. The 16 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers who qualified for the 2015 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup will be ineligible to compete in the 2016 NASCAR XFINITY Series and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Championship 4 races at Homestead-Miami Speedway. 


The seven-race NASCAR XFINITY Series Chase will begin at Kentucky Speedway on Sept. 24, and feature 12 drivers and two elimination rounds, with four drivers competing in the Championship 4 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. 

A win in the first 26 races all but guarantees a driver entry into the NASCAR XFINITY Series Chase, provided the driver is in the top 30 in points and has attempted to qualify for each race. Drivers who win two Dash 4 Cash bonuses are also all but guaranteed a Chase berth. 

The first round, called the Round of 12, consists of the races at Kentucky, Dover and Charlotte. All drivers will start with their points adjusted to 2,000, with three additional bonus points added to their total for each win in the first 26 races. If a driver wins a race in the Round of 12, the driver automatically advances to the next round. The remaining available positions (1-8) that have not been filled by wins will be filled on points.  

Each driver who advances to the Round of 8 (Kansas, Texas, Phoenix) then will have their points reset to 3,000. Drivers who win a race in the Round of 8 automatically advance to the Championship 4. The remaining available positions (1-4) that have not been filled by wins will be filled on points.  

The four drivers who advance to the Championship 4 at Homestead will have their points reset to 4,000. The highest finishing Championship 4 driver will be crowned the NASCAR XFINITY Series champion. 


The seven-race NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Chase will begin at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on Sept. 24. It will feature eight drivers and two elimination rounds, with four drivers competing in the Championship 4 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. A win in the first 16 races all but guarantees a driver entry into the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Chase, provided that the driver is in the Top 30 in points and has attempted to qualify for each race.  

The first round, called the Round of 8, consists of the races at New Hampshire, Las Vegas, and Talladega. All drivers will have their points adjusted to 2,000, with three additional bonus points added to their total for each win in the first 16 races. If a driver wins a race in the Round of 8, the driver automatically advances to the next round. The remaining available positions (1-6) that have not been filled by wins will be filled on points.  

Each driver who advances to the Round of 6 (Martinsville, Texas, Phoenix) then will have their points reset to 3,000. Drivers who win a race in the Round of 6 automatically advance to the Championship 4. The remaining available positions (1-4) that have not been filled by wins will be filled on points.  

The four drivers who advance to the Championship 4 at Homestead will have their points reset to 4,000. The highest finishing Championship 4 driver will win the championship. 

All rules outlined above also apply to both series’ owner championship structure.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Small In Stature, Abreu Poised For Big NASCAR Season

Abreu scored at the Chili Bowl Nationals
Rico Abreu is not your standard-issue race car driver.
At 4’4” tall and weighing just 95 pounds, Abreu is unique in the world of motorsports. Born with achondroplasia, a genetic disorder that is the most common cause of dwarfism, the California native is believed to be the only “little person” competing in the uppermost levels of motorsports.
Last Saturday night, he claimed his second consecutive victory in Oklahoma’s storied Chili Bowl Nationals, passing leader Bryan Clauson with just 10 laps remaining to claim a wildly popular win over a star-studded, 24-car field (out of 350 that attempted to qualify) that included NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stars Kyle Larson, Kasey Kahne and Ricky Stenhouse, Jr., as well as a “Who’s Who” of top dirt-racing talent.
Abreu’s post-race burnout saw his Keith Kunz-owned midget racer execute a series of high-speed donuts with its front wheels nearly three feet in the air; a maneuver that threatened to blow the roof off an already raucous Tulsa Expo Center.
Abreu is no stranger to popular wins.
A former USAC Midget national champion, Abreu has won virtually every major event that division has to offer. In addition to his two Chili Bowl crowns, he has won the prestigious Belleville Midget Nationals, the Four Crown Nationals at Eldora and the USAC Gold Crown at Tri City Speedway. He is also a winner on the World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series, before graduating to the stock car ranks last season.
Despite having virtually no experience in full-fendered race cars, Abreu finished fifth in NASCAR’s K&N Pro Series East standings in 2015, earning three poles, leading 119 laps and tallying four Top-five and eight Top-10 finishes along the way. In July, he claimed his first career NASCAR win at Columbus (OH) Motor Speedway, in just his seventh start. He also earned the circuit’s “Most Popular Driver” award in a landslide.
How, Abreu is ready to step up again, after being tabbed for a full season of NASCAR Camping World Truck Series competition. He will drive for ThorSport Racing in the team’s No. 98 Curb Records Toyota Tundra, and for a young driver like Abreu, a chance to drive for a multi-time championship team like ThorSport is rare indeed. His rookie campaign will be guided by veteran crew chief Doug George, an opportunity he calls, “one of the best I have been given.

"Competing in the NASCAR K&N East Series prepared me the most for this opportunity," he said. "My first time being in stock cars and getting a full season under my belt helped me understand how to race and put together full races; longer races than I was used to running in open wheel cars.

"Running the last two Camping World Truck Series races of 2015 was a huge help," he added. "I know what to expect now, compared to last year when I had no experience on tracks bigger than one mile." 

As always, ThorSport Racing will modify the cockpit of its Toyota Tundra racers to accommodate Abreu’s small stature. Extender blocks will be placed on the gas, brake and clutch pedals, with the steering column and ignition switches also extended to accommodate his diminished reach. 

It’s all standard procedure for Abreu, who jokes that his only true limitation is not being tall enough to board all the rides at Disneyland.

"I appreciate the support and the hard work that everyone at ThorSport Racing and Curb Records has put into all of this for me to live my dream,” he said. “My team, sponsors and fans will know that I'm giving a 100% effort every time I'm on the track. My goal is to get the most out of every lap and every opportunity this season.”
Nobody who has seen him race expects anything less.





Friday, January 15, 2016

NASCAR Hall Of Fame Profile: Terry Labonte

This is the latest in a five-part series of stories detailing the careers of members of the NASCAR Hall of Fame Class of 2016, all of whom will be inducted on Friday, Jan. 22 at 8 p.m. ET, live on NBCSN, Motor Racing Network and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

By Owen A. Kearns
NASCAR Wire Service 

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Some label Terry Labonte the NASCAR premier series’ least flamboyant champion.

Perhaps it just seemed that way, when measuring Labonte alongside such colorful contemporaries as NASCAR Hall of Famers Dale Earnhardt and Darrell Waltrip. 

His calm, quiet demeanor at least partially explains why Labonte became known as “The Iceman.” 

The Corpus Christi, Texas driver may not have personified flash, but Labonte got the job done.

He won his first of two championships in 1984 and figuratively fell off the radar for a dozen years before resurfacing to claim a second title driving for Hendrick Motorsports. His 22 premier series victories don’t accurately measure the breadth of Labonte’s career. Consistency is a much better measure: 17 different seasons among the top 10 in the championship standings along with 361 top-10 finishes, the latter ranking 10th all-time. Labonte also won in the NASCAR XFINITY and Camping World Truck Series, as well as the International Race of Champions (IROC) and shared the GTO class-winning entry in the 1984 24 Hours of Daytona.  

Rick Hendrick believed Labonte’s attitude – which often put others first – may have kept him from winning more frequently.  

“Terry could’ve accomplished even more in his career had he been a little more selfish,” Hendrick told The Associated Press in 2006. “But there’s not a selfish bone in his body. He’s a great talent, but he’s just a great human being.  

“He’ll always do what’s best for the team, even if it puts him in an awkward spot.”  

Labonte will be inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte, North Carolina on Jan. 22, along with the other four members of the Class of 2016: Jerry Cook, Bobby Isaac, O. Bruton Smith and Curtis Turner.  

Born Nov. 16, 1956 and raised in south Texas, Terrance Lee Labonte was introduced to racing by his father, who worked on race cars for friends. He was a quarter-midget champion by age nine and won stock car titles in Corpus Christi, Houston and San Antonio from 1975 to 1977. 

Labonte met Louisiana oilman and sports car racer Billy Hagan, who fielded the NASCAR premier series team that carried Skip Manning to the rookie of the year title in 1976. Labonte joined the Stratagraph Racing team for the final five races of 1978 and became Hagan’s permanent driver the following season in which he finished 10th but lost rookie of the year honors to Earnhardt. 

Labonte notched his first premier series victory in the 1980 Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway. With sponsorship from Piedmont Airlines, Labonte, Hagan and NASCAR Hall of Fame crew chief Dale Inman captured the 1984 championship with victories at Bristol Motor Speedway and the Riverside (Calif.) International Raceway road course. 

Success, however, was fleeting. 

“We weren’t supposed to win it and we didn’t know what to do with it,” said Inman, who left the team to rejoin Richard Petty. 

Labonte agreed, reminiscing after his second title, “I thought it was a pretty neat deal and we’d win it the next year. Next year took a long time coming.” 

Labonte departed the Hagan outfit for Junior Johnson’s Budweiser team, then went to Precision Performance followed by a second stint with Stratagraph. He joined Hendrick Motorsports in 1994.  

“I looked at his statistics early in his career and I couldn’t believe how well he’d run with the equipment he was in,” Hendrick later told The Associated Press. 

Labonte responded by winning the 1996 championship, edging Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jeff Gordon by 37 points. His younger brother, Bobby, won the season-ending NAPA 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway and the two celebrated together. Bobby Labonte became a NASCAR premier series champion himself in 2000, making the pair the first brothers to win a title in the top division. 

Terry Labonte continued fulltime with the Hendrick team through the 2004 season, winning for the final time at Darlington in 2003. He continued to race on a part-time basis, calling it an 890-race career at Talladega Superspeedway on Oct. 19, 2014. 

Labonte has said his two favorite victories were those in his home state – at Texas Motor Speedway. But he may be better-remembered for a pair of slam-bang races at Bristol battling the late Earnhardt. In 1995, Labonte won a final-lap duel despite a shove by Earnhardt that sent his car into the wall. Fast-forward to 1999, when Earnhardt spun and wrecked Labonte on the final lap and famously said in Victory Lane, he was “just trying to rattle his cage.”  

The driver – and his fans – were livid, but Labonte admitted 15 years later in a Popular Speed Magazine interview that he was at least partially to blame for the ruckus.  

“If I had gotten into the corner at a better angle then he wouldn’t have got the chance to hit me. But I was passing him low and couldn’t carry the speed into the corner and he took advantage of it,” Labonte said. “I don’t think he really intended to wreck me. He wanted to move me out of the way. That was his only shot. I had four new tires and he didn’t. 

“It was just one of those deals.”  

Limited quantities of tickets are available for the NASCAR Hall of Fame Induction Dinner and Ceremony. Individual ticket and ticket packages are available at, the NASCAR Hall of Fame Box Office or by calling 800.745.3000.