Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Charter System Has Owners Examining Their Options

Silly Season is well underway on the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, with a handful of drivers mulling new opportunities for 2017 and beyond.

Baldwin is "exploring all opportunities."
New to the Silly Season dance, however, is the concept of team owners selling or leasing their competition charters to other organizations. As least two NSCS owners are openly discussing the possibility of unloading their charters in coming weeks, with others looking to acquire the guaranteed starting spots and increased purse and point fund payoffs that come with being a chartered team.

Team owner Tommy Baldwin, Jr. is expected to sell his Sprint Cup Series charter to Leavine Family Racing for the 2017 season. Baldwin met with his employees last week to “give them the options if they needed to go find a job,” and multiple published reports have the Long Island, NY native ready to sign documents on the transfer in the coming days.

The former NSCS crew chief-turned owner confirmed that he is “exploring all my opportunities right now… trying to figure everything out.'' Baldwin told NBC Sports he is not interested in shutting down his team, which made its initial Sprint Cup Series start in 2009, preferring instead to sell his charter – and possibly the assets of his team – to another organization.

"The options are (to) keep going, or sell,'' said Baldwin, who has fielded Chevrolets for driver Regan Smith this season en route to 33rd place in the championship standings, with one Top-5 and two Top-10 finishes. Their best finish of the season – a third in the Pennsylvania 400 at Pocono in early August – was not enough to attract additional sponsorship to the team, forcing Baldwin to confront the looming possibility of shuttering or selling the team.

Baldwin has reportedly found a willing buyer in Leavine Family Racing, which currently partners with Circle Sport Racing to field Michael McDowell’s No. 95 Thrivent Financial/K-LOVE Chevrolet. Team owner Bob Leavine has leased a charter from Joe Falk Racing this season, on a one-year basis. NASCAR rules allow such an arrangement for only one year, however, and Falk will be forced to either use his charter in 2017, or sell it outright.

Leavine Family Racing Vice President Jeremy Lange confirmed last week that his organization is, in fact, purchasing a charter for 2017, but would not name the seller.

St. Hilaire (L) is also looking.
While Baldwin and Leavine dot the “I”s on their deal, GoFas Racing owner Archie St. Hilaire is considering his options, as well.

St. Hilaire told reporters last week that he would be willing to lease his charter next season, or partner with another chartered team in an effort to help his operation grow. NASCAR rules state that if a chartered organization finishes in the bottom three (of 36 charter holders) in three consecutive seasons, their charters can be revoked and awarded to another organization.

“Anybody in the bottom three is exploring all their options right now,'' admitted St. Hilaire, who has fielded his No. 32 Ford for a revolving-door lineup of drivers this season, including Bobby LabonteJeffrey Earnhardt, Joey Gase, Jeb Burton, Eddie MacDonald and Boris Said. The team is currently 38th in the championship owner’s standings.

St. Hilaire says he hopes to have a 2017 plan in place within the next 30 days.

While it’s always unfortunate when team owners face the end of the line, Baldwin and St. Hilaire are better off than they would have been as little as two years ago. Prior to the advent of NASCAR’s Charter System, they would have been left with little to sell but a few race cars, parts, pieces and transporters. There is usually not a long line of buyers for older, mid- to back-of-the-pack equipment, however, meaning that both organizations would be liquidated for mere pennies on the dollar.
Now, Baldwin and St. Hilaire own two of just 36 Sprint Cup Series charters, complete with guaranteed starting spots in each race, along with purse and point fund payouts large than those awarded to non-chartered, “open” teams. Depending on demand on the open market, those charters will almost certainly be worth multiple millions of dollars.

With Leavine Family Racing openly looking to buy, Furniture Row Racing expending to a second full-time operation with driver Erik Jones and JTG Daugherty Racing also reportedly planning to expand to a second car in 2017, both Baldwin and St. Hilaire stand to cash a much larger exit check than ever before possible in the history of the sport.

At the very least, they will be able to lease their respective charters for a season, allowing them time to regroup, forge new alliances and court additional sponsorship.

That opportunity has never existed before.

Skinner Round-Up Raises $220,000 For Hope For The Warriors

Last week’s Skinner Round-Up presented by Cessna raised over $220,000 in support of Hope For The Warriors, a national nonprofit dedicated to restoring a sense of self, family and hope for service members, veterans and military families. Held at Mountain Falls Luxury Motorcoach Resort and Burlingame Country Club in Lake Toxaway, N.C., the event included everything from a shooting competition and golf tournament to a hoedown bash and daytime festival for service members, the community and a variety of celebrities.

"I've always been proud to have my name associated with the Skinner Round-Up each year, and 2016 was no different," said Mike Skinner, 1995 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Champion. "Angie [Skinner, wife] works so hard to plan out every detail of the event, and she has a great team of volunteers behind her helping every step of the way. Between their dedicated effort and the support of some great corporate sponsors like Cessna, Toyota, Bad Boy Off Road and E-Z-GO, we were able to exceed our fundraising goal for our friends at Hope For The Warriors. We had a group of service members present again this year, and we were able to have them golfing side-by-side with accomplished athletes, musicians and business leaders. The relationships that are formed through events like this are instrumental in continuing hope."

Ten years after the first Skinner Round-Up event was held in Daytona Beach, Fla., the event moved to a new venue in 2016 as service members, celebrities, corporate executives and the general public all flocked to Lake Toxaway, N.C., in support of Hope For The Warriors. The funds raised will be used to support Hope For The Warriors' core programs, including health and wellness, sports and recreation, transition services, and community engagement and development.

"Mike and Angie Skinner have been advocates, supporters and friends of Hope, and those we serve, for years," said Robin Kelleher, co-founder and president of Hope For The Warriors. "As we celebrate our 10th anniversary, it's humbling to have them name us as beneficiaries of the 2016 Skinner Round-Up. Their support and the support of all those who attended the Skinner Round-Up will help us serve hundreds in need. We look forward to utilizing the funds raised from this event to empower veterans, service members and military families in our communities."

Countless sponsors joined the effort to make the 2016 Skinner Round-Up presented by Cessna possible, including Mountain Falls Luxury Motorcoach Resort and Burlingame Country Club who graciously hosted the event. The NRA and Bad Boy Off Road joined forces to bring a new element to the Round-Up with the Gunslinger's 30 Shot Competition, while Liberty Coach helped involve the community through the Skinner Corral of HOPE, which was free and open to the public. Thursday night's Hoedown Bash was presented by Cessna, while E-Z-GO presented Friday's Skinner Round-Up Golf Classic. Additional partners supporting the Skinner Round-Up included Black Bear Lodge, Bulova, Calvin and Peggy Braxton, Carrabba's, Chimney Rock Cattle Co., E-Z Line, FocusPoint, Forth Right Wealth Management, Andrew T. Franzone, Sam and Edwina Friedman, Germain Racing, Millennium Luxury Coaches, Molto Bella Boutique, mpower, Suntrust, Toyota, Toyota Racing, Walker Marina and Renee Wampler.

The 2016 Skinner Round-Up once again turned into a reunion of sorts among old friends and competitors from the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, as drivers Rick Crawford, Ron Hornaday, Jack Sprague and Mike Skinner were together for the event. Other NASCAR-related personalities who joined the group included Steve Park, Pat Patterson, Dave Moody and Bill and Gail Davis. Additionally, former NFL punter Chris Mohr and former Washington Redskins offensive linesman Ken Huff were both in attendance. Nashville-based singer/songwriters Billy Austin, Dillon Dixon and D. Vincent Williams, as well as "Nashville Blues Doctor" Stacy Mitchhart and singer/songwriter Teresa Wade, each performed for attendees throughout the event.

To learn more about Hope For The Warriors, apply for services or find out how you can get involved, visit HopeForTheWarriors.org.

Monday, October 17, 2016

NASCAR's “Captain Clutch” Comes Through Again

Kevin Harvick has acquired a number of nicknames over the course of his NASCAR Sprint Cup Series career. Known at various points as “Happy Harvick” and “The Closer,” the 2014 series champion has long been known as a driver capable of delivering clutch performances in times of greatest need.

After Sunday’s “Hollywood Casino 400” at Kansas Speedway, perhaps it’s time to bestow the Stewart Haas Racing driver with a new nickname.

“Captain Clutch.”

For the third time since NASCAR introduced its new Chase elimination format three years ago, Harvick pulled his backside out of the fire Sunday with a victory that guarantees him a spot in the upcoming playoff Round of Eight. 
Harvick came to Kansas in a decidedly precarious position; dead last in the 12-man Chase standings after a disastrous, 38th-place verdict the previous week at Charlotte Motor Speedway. With their backs to the wall and their season in jeopardy, Harvick and his Rodney Childers-led team did what they always seem to do; shrugging off the pressure with a big time performance that renders this weekend’s gut-wrencher at Talladega Superspeedway wholly irrelevant.
Harvick didn’t dominate Sunday’s race, but he never fell far from lead, either. Massaging the handling of his Outback Steakhouse Chevrolet throughout the afternoon, Harvick overcame a pair of shaky pit stops to seize the lead from Carl Edwards on a final, Lap 237 restart, the drove away to a 1.183-second decision that removed him and his team from the Talladega pressure cooker to come.
“When they're in a must-win situation, they seem to find a little more speed," lamented third-place finisher Joey Logano afterward. ""I don't know how, (but) they always seem to have a little extra left in the tank."

“He's tough to beat in these final races," added fellow Chaser Austin Dillon. "There's no doubt about it, he steps up when the pressure is there."

“We prepare this thing for every race,” explained Harvick, following a raucous Victory Lane celebration that included chants of “I believe that we will win” from his crew. “I try every week to find something to motivate myself, and I know these guys do the same thing. It’s hard to keep yourself motivated and continue to perform at a high level. Being able to do it for three years now says a lot about the character of this team and the things that they do.”

Prior to Sunday’s race, Childers admitted that he would prefer to advance in a safer, less dramatic fashion.

“If you keep playing with fire, eventually you get burned,” he said. “We don’t enjoy being in this position, but it is what it is. We just have to perform and persevere.”

In Kansas Sunday, they did just that, punching their ticket to NASCAR’s coveted Round of Eight. 

“These guys are just so good at the details,” said Harvick, who is two-for-two lifetime in Chase elimination races, with wins at Phoenix (2014) and Dover last season. “You put their backs against the wall, and they get better. I’m really proud of them.

“I got two good restarts against (Edwards). He didn’t have a car close to him, and I was able to break the draft before I got to the middle of One and Two. I just needed to go for it, and that’s really the mind-set we go into every race in the Chase (with)… to go for it.

“And we did.”

Locked in – along with Jimmie Johnson -- to the next round of NASCAR’s playoff grid, Harvick can enjoy a pressure-free weekend at Talladega. But questions remain regarding his team’s readiness to win a second Sprint Cup Series championship.

They continue to struggle on pit road, repeatedly forfeiting track position when the pressure is on. It happened again in Kansas – twice – and while the Bakersfield, California, native took the high road in Victory Lane, there is no denying that SHR’s No. 4 Chevrolet team has a major chink in its championship armor. Harvick overcame his team’s pit road shortcomings with a vintage display of balls-out driving, but as the Chase field is narrowed in coming weeks, the margin for error will diminish, as well.

Harvick, however, seems unfazed, convinced that his team’s Al Davis-esque, “Just win, baby” philosophy will continue to carry the day.

"We've won two races in the Chase, and I feel like we won both of them on restarts,” he said. “That's something we've worked on for probably a year now. When we get behind on something, we dive right in and try to make it better."
He also pointed to Childers, a low-key leader who provides the perfect balance to his more mercurial driver.
"We could say `We need to go jump off a cliff in the morning’ and everybody would be there at sunrise saying, 'All right, where do we jump?'" said Harvick Sunday. "That's the kind of group this is. Everybody has got each other's back and nobody takes offense if somebody tells them they need to do something better.
"It's a unique bunch of people, and you're only as good as the people around you. That's true in every business, and it's no different in this garage.
"I had no idea where we were in the points, or how many we were behind," he added. "The only thing we talked about was trying to figure out how to win this race. And if we didn't win this race, what we needed to do at Talladega.
"For us, it's always about reaching for something to motivate us," he continued. "If it's having to win a race, going to a racetrack we haven't won at, or rebounding from a bad week, we've been fortunate to be on the good side of this deal for three years now. We know we can perform, and we know we can perform in good and bad situations."
Just another day in the life of NASCAR’s “Captain Clutch.”

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Newman Returning To Richard Childress Racing

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series veteran Ryan Newman has agreed to a multi-year agreement to remain with Richard Childress Racing as the driver of the No. 31 Chevrolet. The renewal marks Newman's fourth year with RCR and his 16th full season in NASCAR's premier series.

New colors for Newman in 2017
"Ryan's consistency on the track has been a benefit to our organization and this extension solidifies the future of our racing program," said Richard Childress, Chairman and CEO of RCR. "Ryan proved the first year he was here that we could contend for championships and with this continuation, I believe we can fulfill our commitment to winning races and a championship. Ryan has worked hard to represent many of our partners, especially the primary sponsors Caterpillar, Grainger and WIX Filters, helping them to get the most out of their respective racing programs."

Newman's tenure at RCR with crew chief Luke Lambert boasts two-straight Chase appearances including the 2014 effort that culminated in a single point separating the 38-year-old driver from the coveted Cup title and a career-best finish in the Cup point standings. Entering this weekend's Cup race at Kansas Speedway, Newman and his No. 31 team have accumulated 11 top-five, 39 top-10 and 65 top-15 finishes in 102 starts.
"I am pleased to continue driving for Richard Childress Racing," said Newman. "Our goal to win a championship all but turned into a reality during our first year together. I feel like since then, we have some unfinished business to complete. I'm fortunate to have forged a great relationship with my crew chief Luke Lambert, and I very much want to not only help him reach our goal of winning a Cup championship but also getting him his first Cup victory."

Before joining RCR, the South Bend, Indiana native's Cup career spans 17 years and over 540 races totaling 17 victories including the 50th Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway in 2008 and the 2013 Brickyard 400.

Talladega Offers New TallaTaxi Fan Service

Race fans sometimes find themselves in a need of speedy transportation to various locations during a race weekend at Talladega Superspeedway. With that in mind, NASCAR’s Most Competitive track has introduced an all-new TallaTaxi service.

The TallaTaxi golf cart service, from Patron Transportation, will make its Talladega debut during the Alabama 500 and fred’s 250 Powered by Coca-Cola weekend, beginning Tuesday, Oct. 18 and running through Sunday, Oct. 23. For only $5 a seat, TallaTaxi will provide 24-hour transportation to take fans wherever they need to go on speedway property, excluding only the West C campground.

To catch a ride on a TallaTaxi during race weekend, fans can call or text a pick-up request to 205-863-6137, or flag down the unmistakable black and yellow checkered carts while they make their rounds around Talladega’s nearly 3,000 acres.

TallaTaxi offers safe rides to keep guests moving and rested while they enjoy a NASCAR Chase double-elimination weekend for both the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series.

“Creating a one-of-a-kind fan experience has always been an important part of the events at Talladega, and TallaTaxi will provide a premium service to our thousands of fans who normally walk to their desired destinations,” said Talladega Superspeedway Chairman Grant Lynch. “Bringing the largest and most efficient taxi service to the largest and most competitive track made perfect sense.”

The speedway will continue to provide free tram and ADA shuttle services throughout the weekend as well, at select locations.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Tumultuous Charlotte Signals A Return To Chase Drama

Harvick was out early Sunday...
The Opening Round of the 2016 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup was a relatively mundane affair, with drivers utilizing conservative strategies to advance safely – and unremarkably -- to the Round of 12.

Sunday’s Bank Of America 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway was anything but unremarkable, however, with no less than five title contenders suffering major setbacks and finishing in the bottom quarter of the 40-car field.

Defending winner Joey Logano cut a pair of tires Sunday and spent multiple laps in the garage making repairs. Just two weeks removed from a dominant win in New Hampshire, former series champion Kevin Harvick was also a non-factor Sunday, as engine woes ended his day with a 38th-place finish. Now 11th and 12th in the championship standings, Logano and Harvick find themselves teetering on the brink of elimination, just two weeks before the Chase field is trimmed to eight drivers at Talladega.

“I hate it for everybody on our team,” said a disconsolate Harvick Sunday night. “They made some great adjustments today and got our car where we needed to be to run up front. Everything was going fine, (but) lots of things can go wrong. And today, they did.

...as was Logano.
Logano and Harvick weren’t the only ones to find themselves in trouble Sunday.

On Lap 259, Chasers Austin Dillon and Chase Elliott were sidelined in a grinding restart crash triggered when Dillon – who had taken just two tires on a pit stop moments before -- was slow to accelerate, He was clipped by the trailing car of Martin Truex, Jr. and hammered the inside wall, while Elliott got turned into the outside SAFER barrier. They finished 32nd and 33rd, respectively, and also find themselves behind the eight-ball heading to Kansas.
“This has been a troublesome day for a lot of guys,” said Elliott afterward.  “Hopefully, we can have another car like we had today and not make any mistakes next week.”
Denny Hamlin also stumbled Sunday, retiring just 26 laps from the finish when his engine expired while running second. While disappointed with a 30th-place result, the Joe Gibbs Racing driver insisted that he is “not out of it by any means. We just have a little hole we have to dig out of.
“Each race, you’re going to have a handful (of drivers) that are going to have issues,” he said. “I don’t think Kansas will be any different, and Talladega we know will be crazy.”
Hamlin ran well...
With the exception of winner Jimmie Johnson, every Chase contender dealt with some degree of drama Sunday.
Runner-up Matt Kenseth started at the rear of the field after his team made unapproved, post-qualifying adjustments, then overcame a midrace penalty for a crewmember that went over the wall too soon.
Kyle Busch lost a lap after pitting under green with a tire problem, was penalized for a crewman over the wall too soon and an uncontrolled tire, and suffered damage in the Dillon/Elliott melee. He finished sixth.
Brad Keselowski also paid the price for an early-over-the-wall crew, but fought back to seventh at the finish.
Kurt Busch suffered damage same crash as his brother, but recovered to finish eighth.
Truex suffered a clutch failure on his final pit stop while running in the Top-5, stalled the car and eventually finished 13th.
It was as if suddenly, nobody wanted to win the 2016 championship. And in the aftermath of a tumultuous Charlotte race, the stage is set for even more drama in the weeks to come.
...before Johnson prevailed.
With Talladega looming ominously on the horizon, this weekend’s Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Speedway feels an awful lot like an elimination race. For Harvick, Logano, Dillon, Elliott and Hamlin, another poor result in the Jayhawk State will almost certainly push their championship dreams to the brink. There is no room for error, no margin for any further mistakes.
“We’re not out of it by any means,” insisted Logano Sunday. “Things happen. It’s part of racing, but we’re not out. We’re not going to die. This team is resilient. We’ve proved it before and we’ll just have to go out and prove it again. We just have to have two flawless races. It’s something we can make up.”
"We would all love to tell you that we aren't thinking about Talladega,” said Cole Pearn, crew chief for Martin Truex, Jr. “But we definitely know it's out there. You’re never totally in control of what might happen… and at Talladega, you have way less control than anywhere else."
"It's weird how each round of this thing kind of takes on its own personality," said a grim-faced Hamlin  Sunday night. "So many of us moved on into this round because we were consistent. Now, there are so many of us who left early today. Winning becomes even more important than it already was. Some guys will be hanging it out at Kansas."
"We'll see guys making mistakes behind the wheel because they are pressing so hard,” predicted 12th-place Charlotte finisher Carl Edwards. “We'll see pit crews making mistakes… and we'll see equipment breaking down because teams are pushing the limits. I can't imagine what the last lap at Kansas is going to be like. I can't imagine what the last lap of Talladega is going to be like. Every lap matters more than the last one did. It's hard to describe.
“Stress, pressure, fun... I don't know what the right word is."
For drivers, crew chiefs and team members, the next two weeks will be a walking advertisement for Pepto-Bismol.
Fans, however, could hardly ask for more.

Photos: Getty Images/NASCAR

Friday, October 07, 2016

Gragson Tabbed To Replace Byron at KBM

Kyle Busch Motorsports announced today that 18-year-old Las Vegas native Noah Gragson will compete full time in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series next season driving one of the team's Toyota Tundras.

The NASCAR Next product cut his racing teeth on the same grounds as KBM owner Kyle Busch, getting his start at the age of 13 in the Bandoleros division at the Bullring - a 0.375-mile paved oval at Las Vegas (Nev.) Motor Speedway. After finding success in the Bandoleros, Gragson moved up to the Legends division in 2014 where he won the Young Lion Road Course championship and also began racing in the Super Late Model division at the Nevada track.

Gragson graduated to the K&N Pro Series West as a 16-year-old in 2015 and visited victory lane at Tucson (Ariz.) Speedway in just his third start. He went on to earn Rookie of the Year honors after producing two wins, one pole, seven top-five and 11 top-10 finishes in 13 starts while finishing second in the championship standings. In 2016, he has collected a combined four wins, 11 top-five and 18 top-10 finishes across 26 starts while competing in both the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East and Pro Series West divisions.  

"It's hard to believe that about four years ago I toured Kyle Busch Motorsports as a young fan and aspiring driver in awe of the massive trophy collection, how immaculate the shop was and getting the chance to meet Darrell Wallace Jr. -- now just a short time later I'm going to be competing for them full time in the Camping World Truck Series," Gragson said. "The last few years KBM has developed some of the best young talent in all of NASCAR and I know that I'm going to be stepping into fast Toyota Tundras that are capable of running up front, competing for wins and that if I'm able to do my part that I'll be able to add to the trophy cases I gazed into not long ago. As an up-and-coming driver that is all I can ask for as I try to continue my climb up the racing ladder with the ultimate goal of one day following in Kyle's path from Las Vegas to the Cup Series.

"I can't thank everyone at Jefferson Pitts Racing enough for their hard work the past two seasons, without them I wouldn't be in the position I am today. I also have to thank Toyota and TRD (Toyota Racing Development) for welcoming me into their racing family for the next step of my career."

"It's been very rewarding the last few years that Samantha and I have been able to provide an opportunity for young drivers to break into the Truck Series and with Noah being from Las Vegas and getting his start in racing at the Bullring like I did, you could say this one really hits home for me," Busch said. "He's already proven capable of winning races while running in both the K&N Pro Series East and West, so we're looking forward to having him behind the wheel of our Tundras next season."

Gragson's sponsors, truck number and crew chief will be announced at a later date.

Thursday, October 06, 2016

Maaco To Back Truex At Charlotte This Weekend

Martin Truex Jr.’s Furniture Row Racing Toyota carried a new sponsor into the Bank of America 500 at Charlotte, as Maaco, a Charlotte-based company and North America’s No. 1 auto paint and collision repair franchise, was showcased on the rear quarter panels of Truex’s No. 78 Camry. 

“Anytime you can have a Charlotte-based company displayed on your race car, it carries a special feeling of pride,” said Truex. “It is even more special to have Maaco, a leader in its industry, on our car at a Charlotte Motor Speedway race, which is not only their home track but also a home track for the majority of drivers competing this weekend at the historic oval.” 

Furniture Row Racing president Joe Garone also welcomed Maaco, saying, “From a business standpoint, when you have an industry-leading company such as Maaco supporting your team, it can only serve as a resume builder while seeking additional sponsorships. We are thrilled to have Maaco joining our team this weekend and look forward to giving the company a strong performance on the racetrack.”

Atlanta Opens Campgrounds To Hurricane Evacuees

Atlanta Motor Speedway is opening its campgrounds to evacuees fleeing the path of Hurricane Matthew. The speedway will open the Family Campgrounds and bath house facilities free of charge, giving evacuees access to hot showers and restroom facilities.

Those interested in RV or tent camping at Atlanta Motor Speedway should enter the facility at Entrance “A” off Hwy 19/41 at Speedway Boulevard and take the first left at entrance N.  The Family Campgrounds will be on the left.  From I-75 and GA Highway 20, campers should see signs to AMS and follow Lower Woolsey road to Speedway Boulevard.  Turn right on Speedway Boulevard and follow to entrance N.

Atlanta has a history of providing free camping to evacuees.  In September of 2004, more than 30 families took refuge at AMS after evacuating their homes due to Hurricane Francis. The speedway is located approximately 25 miles south of Atlanta on Hwy 19/41 and approximately eight miles west of I-75 off of GA Highway 20.

Skinner Round-Up Returns October 20-21

The Skinner Round-Up presented by Cessna returns in 2016 to benefit Hope For The Warriors, a national nonprofit focused on restoring self, family and hope for post-9/11 service members, veterans and military families. Hosted by 1995 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Champion Mike Skinner and his wife, Angie, the two-day event will feature its traditional Hoedown Bash and golf tournament, along with some new additions; the Gunslingers 30 Shot Competition and the Skinner Corral of HOPE. The two-day event will take place near Lake Toxaway in the mountains of North Carolina on October 20-21.

"Angie and I are so excited to bring the Skinner Round-Up presented by Cessna to the mountains of North Carolina this year," said Mike Skinner. "We discovered Mountain Falls Luxury Motorcoach Resort about five years ago, and we're so excited to have our family, friends and fans here for this year's Round-Up event. We couldn't be more thrilled that all proceeds will be donated to Hope For The Warriors; a military nonprofit that we discovered right around the same time that I retired from full-time racing. Being able to spend time with their staff and service members really helped me through that transition. I'm so thankful to all of our partners for their support and I'm excited to give back to Hope For The Warriors this year."

Numerous sponsors have joined the effort to make the 2016 Skinner Round-Up presented by Cessna possible, including Mountain Falls Luxury Motorcoach Resort and Burlingame Country Club, hosts of this year's event. New in 2016, the Gunslinger's 30 Shot Competition is presented by NRA and Bad Boy Off Road, while the Skinner Corral of HOPE is presented by Liberty Coach. Thursday night's Hoedown Bash is presented by Cessna, while E-Z-GO will present Friday's Skinner Round-Up Golf Classic. Additional partners supporting the Skinner Round-Up include Black Bear Lodge, Bulova, Calvin and Peggy Braxton, Carrabba's, E-Z Line, FocusPoint, Forth Right Wealth Management, Andrew T. Franzone, Sam and Edwina Friedman, Germain Racing, Millennium Luxury Coaches, Molto Bella Boutique, mpower, Suntrust, Toyota, Toyota Racing, Walker Marina and Renee Wampler.

"We have been blessed to have Mike and Angie Skinner as advocates and friends of Hope for a few years now,” said Robin Kelleher, co-founder and president of Hope For The Warriors. “It is an honor to be the beneficiary of this year's Skinner Round-Up in North Carolina. We look forward to utilizing these funds to empower veterans, service members and military families in our communities."

With Mountain Falls Luxury Motorcoach Resort and Burlingame Country Club graciously hosting this year's events, the fun will kick off on Thursday with the Gunslinger's 30 Shot Competition presented by NRA and Bad Boy Off Road. Attendees will also have the opportunity to visit the Skinner Corral of HOPE presented by Liberty Coach on Thursday afternoon, where Skinner will join former NASCAR competitors Ron Hornaday, Jack Sprague and Rick Crawford for an hour-long autograph session. With a championship race truck display, hay rides, food trucks, beverage tastings, and motor coach display, the Skinner Corral of HOPE presented by Liberty Coach is free and open to the public 12 p.m. through 6 p.m.

Later that night, Mountain Falls Luxury Motorcoach Resort will host the traditional Skinner Hoedown Bash presented by Cessna. Featuring live musical entertainment from Nashville singer/song writers D Vincent Williams, Dillon Dixon and Billy Austin, chuck wagon grub stations, and a poker room along with various games of chance and raffles, the Hoedown Bash will raise money for Hope For The Warriors through silent and live auctions before a Hope For The Warriors' Warrior Wish is granted. Taking place at the Mountain Falls Resort Clubhouse from 6:30 p.m. through midnight, individual tickets are still available for $75 with all proceeds benefitting Hope For The Warriors.

On Friday, the action will move to Burlingame Country Club for the Skinner Round-Up Golf Classic presented by E-Z-GO. The 18-hole scramble will pair golfers with a variety of celebrities and U.S. military service members for the tournament.

For schedule details, to purchase tickets or register for any events, please visit mikeskinner.com/roundup. Additionally, fans at home can get involved and show their support for Hope For The Warriors through the silent auction, which will feature online bidding. Bidding will open on Sunday, October 9, with all items available at 501auctions.com/skinnerroundup.

To learn more about Hope For The Warriors, apply for services or find out how you can get involved, visit HopeForTheWarriors.org.

UniFirst To Back Kahne At Hendrick Motorsports

UniFirst and Hendrick Motorsports have reached an eight-year agreement to make the workwear and textile service company a primary sponsor of the No. 5 Chevrolet SS driven by Kasey Kahne through the 2023 season.
As the new Official Workwear Provider of Hendrick Motorsports, UniFirst will serve as primary sponsor in two races both 2016 and 2017, with the relationship increasing to three primary races each year from 2018-2023. In addition, UniFirst will be a full-season associate sponsor of the No. 5 team.
UniFirst will debut with back-to-back races; Oct. 23 at Talladega Superspeedway and Oct. 30 at Martinsville Speedway. As part of the new relationship, UniFirst will supply work clothing and uniforms to Hendrick Motorsports and sister company Hendrick Automotive Group, which is the largest privately held retail automotive organization in the United States.
“UniFirst is excited to be a primary sponsor of Kasey and Hendrick Motorsports,” said Adam Soreff, director of marketing and communications for UniFirst. “This partnership is a great opportunity for our company because Hendrick Motorsports is one of the premier -- and most highly respected -- teams in professional auto racing. UniFirst’s broad customer base, which includes 300,000 business locations across North America, employs thousands of enthusiastic NASCAR fans, so this relationship is a natural fit. We’re extremely proud to have the UniFirst brand represented in such a dynamic atmosphere.”
“When a sponsor feels strongly enough to commit for eight years, it sends a clear message,” said Rick Hendrick, owner of Hendrick Motorsports. “There’s tremendous excitement about the opportunities our team and our sport present for UniFirst. They have a reputation for world-class service, the highest quality products and services, and having incredible people. We share a similar mindset and culture, and we’re looking forward to working together across our entire organization.”
Since joining Hendrick Motorsports in 2012, Kahne, 36, has earned three Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup berths and five race wins with the No. 5 team. The Enumclaw, Washington, native has 17 career victories, 27 pole positions and 166 top-10 finishes in NASCAR’s top division.
"UniFirst will be a great addition to our partners at Hendrick Motorsports,” said Kahne, a 17-time Sprint Cup Series race winner and three-time Chase qualifier. “They’re a reliable company that we’ve worked with at Kasey Kahne Racing for a long time, so I was happy to hear they are coming on board. I’m looking forward to having them as part of the No. 5 team and working with them in the years to come.”

Tuesday, October 04, 2016

Talladega Unveils New “Barney Hall MRN Booth"

MRN Pres. David Hyatt, Earnhardt and
Talladega VP Brian Crichton
Barney Hall, the legendary voice of the Motor Racing Network, who coined the phrase, “They don’t race ‘em anywhere in the world like they do at Talladega,” will forever be a part of the venue with the dedication and naming of the “Barney Hall MRN Booth,” which sits high atop the start/finish line at NASCAR’s Most Competitive track.

When the MRN team of announcers return to Talladega Superspeedway for the pivotal NASCAR Chase Elimination races, they will perform their weekend duties from the all new “Barney Hall MRN Booth,” named in honor of Hall, a long-time supporter of Talladega Superspeedway, who first covered racing events at the 2.66-mile track in 1970.

Hall, who passed away in January at the age of 83, was a giant inspiration among his fellow announcers, providing fans with a smooth, detailed, insightful and folksy style that fit perfectly into what Talladega was all about. His calm demeanor and storytelling were second to none.

“Barney was an incredible friend to this race track, since the beginning,” said Talladega Superspeedway Chairman Grant Lynch. “His honest delivery of words painted an incredible picture of the racing here at Talladega for those who were listening, long before we had television coverage. And, he was right – they don’t race ‘em anywhere in the world like they do at Talladega.”

Last week, six-time Talladega Superspeedway winner Dale Earnhardt Jr. helped cut the ribbon on the “Barney Hall MRN Booth,” which inside features a huge collage of photos of Hall and his memorable, iconic Talladega phrase “They don’t race ‘em anywhere in the world like they do at Talladega.” Earnhardt was joined by MRN President David Hyatt and Talladega Superspeedway Vice President Brian Crichton.

Hall, who many called “the Voice of NASCAR” for more than half a decade, was honored as the National Motorsports Press Association’s Broadcaster of the Year in 2014. He was inducted into that organization's Hall of Fame in 2007. In May 2012, NASCAR and the NASCAR Hall of Fame jointly announced the creation of a new award to honor the media’s contributions to the success of the sport. It carried the names of two legendary MRN broadcasters: Hall and Ken Squier, who were also the first recipients.

While he won’t be competing in the Alabama 500, Earnhardt will be at Talladega, interacting with fans as part of the track’s Fan Driver Question & Answer session on Sunday morning at the start-finish line. The Q&A will also feature Chase drivers Carl Edwards and defending Alabama 500 champ Joey Logano, along with Brian Scott, Michael Annett and 1989 NASCAR Champ Rusty Wallace. To be a part of this event, fans can purchase Talladega’s “Pre-Race Pit Pass Upgrade” for $75 (must also purchase a Sunday admission ticket). The “Pre-Race Pit Pass Upgrade” will be in effect on Sunday, Oct. 23, from 8 a.m. until the conclusion of Driver Introductions. The Alabama 500 gets underway at 1 p.m. CDT. To purchase, call 1-877-Go2-DEGA or visit www.talladegasuperspeedway.com .

Talladega Superspeedway’s weekend schedule kicks off on Friday with practice sessions for both the fred’s 250 Powered by Coca-Cola NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race and the Alabama 500. Saturday’s schedule includes qualifying for the NCWTS fred’s 250 Powered by Coca-Cola (9:30 a.m. CDT), the fred’s 250 Powered by Coca-Cola (the Round of 8 Elimination race in the NCWTS Chase), which gets the green flag at 12 Noon CDT, and Foodland/Food Giant Qualifying for the Sprint Cup Series. Sunday’s Alabama 500, which will see the field of 12 contenders for the title be reduced to eight at the checkered flag, is set for a 1 p.m. CDT start on Sunday, Oct. 23.