Thursday, January 29, 2015

NASCAR Hall Of Fame Profile: Rex White

This is the fourth and final installment in a series of profiles on the five members of the Class of 2015 of the NASCAR Hall Of Fame. The five will be inducted in Charlotte, North Carolina, on Friday night, in a ceremony to be broadcast live at 8 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Network, Motor Racing Network Radio and SiriusXM Satellite Radio.
Over the years, NASCAR premier series champions have come in all shapes and sizes – tall, short, muscular and lean.  The single constant? It’s impossible to judge a book by its cover. 
Based upon first impressions, Rex White – at 5 feet 4 inches, weighing just 135 pounds and with his right leg withered by childhood polio – might have seemed the unlikeliest championship contender of all. 
White, however, was tough as nails fearing neither competitor nor track conditions. He won the 1960 premier series title and posted 28 victories over five seasons, finishing among the top five in nearly half of his 233 starts. 
“He looked more like a jockey than a race car driver,” fellow competitor Buddy Baker told the Gaston Gazette, “but he lived large once they started the race. On short tracks, he was very aggressive. He didn’t mind going in the turn with (NASCAR Hall of Famer and three-time premier series champion) Lee Petty and saying, ‘I’m inside and if you come down we’re not going to agree on stuff.’ 
“He raced hard.” 
NASCAR Hall of Famer Bobby Allison, the 1983 premier series champion, said, “I admired Rex as a race driver because he was a little guy. I started out small. Seeing him winning encouraged me to chase my dream.” 
What might have been a handicap to many only served as motivation to White, born Aug. 17, 1929 in Taylorsville, N.C. 
“Most of the lessons I have learned (from childhood illness) have stayed with me all my life,” said White in his autobiography “Gold Thunder,” written with Dr. Anne B. Jones. “The biggest one was how to conquer fear.” 
White learned to drive at age six, driving a neighbor’s truck in surrounding fields. Two years later he was working on his family’s Ford Model T. “I was unaware the car on which I labored represented hope to people around me (and) frustration to those trying to stop illegal moonshine,” said White. “I saw automobiles as transportation, not the symbol of an upcoming billion-dollar sport.”  
White dropped out of school, moving to the Washington D.C., area where he found employment as a cook and, after marriage, a service station job. A poster advertising stock car races took White to Lanham (Maryland) Speedway where he caught on as an unpaid crew member for 1952 NASCAR Modified champion Frankie Schneider. 
A year later, White returned to the track with a 1937 Ford purchased for $600 lettered “X.” He won his heat race, the semi-main and the feature. “I’d never won a trophy at anything,” said White.
White made his premier series debut in 1956 on Daytona’s beach/road course. In 1958, he teamed with crew chief Louis Clements in an “off the books” program by GM’s Chevrolet Division. They won twice in 1958 and five times the following year. The 1959 season also saw the debut of White’s iconic No. 4 gold and white Chevrolet. 
The 1960 season was the first in which White ran a full schedule, going to the post only after he and Clement built a car for a competitor, the sale of which netted $2,000 for their own Chevrolet. 
White won six times finishing 35 of 40 races among the top 10. White’s ninth-place finish at Birmingham, Alabama on Aug. 3 was his worst performance in the year’s final 15 races. The championship was a runaway, White beating NASCAR Hall of Famer Richard Petty by nearly 4,000 points. 
“The thing about Rex is he thinks,” said Clements in a 1960 interview with Sports Illustrated. “When he’s out on the track, he’s planning and figuring out which cars he has to race to stay ahead.” 
Car owner and engine builder Smokey Yunick, quoted in the same article, said, “Rex is not a cautious driver but he know when to use caution.” 
White didn’t disagree. “I couldn’t run quite as fast as some of those other guys,” he said. “So long as I was smart and kept running; if any of those other guys had trouble, I had a chance.” 
White nearly defended his title in 1961 winning seven times but finished second to NASCAR Hall of Famer Ned Jarrett. He added two more top-10 championship finishes before retiring at the conclusion of the 1964 season. Between 1959 and the 1963 seasons, White won more races than any other driver. He won 36 premier series poles – at least one in eight consecutive seasons – and finished second in NASCAR’s Short Track late model championship in 1959. 
In retirement, White has owned an automobile dealership and for 25 years a trucking company, both in the Atlanta area where at age 85 he continues to reside. Named one of NASCAR’s 50 Greatest Drivers in 1998, White holds membership in the International Motorsports Hall of Fame, National Motorsports Press Association Hall of Fame and the Georgia Racing Hall of Fame. 

Chase Elliott To Replace Gordon In 2016

Chase Elliott, who became the youngest national series champion in NASCAR history last season, will join Hendrick Motorsports as a full-time Sprint Cup driver beginning in 2016. Elliott’s No. 24 Chevrolet SS team will be led by crew chief Alan Gustafson, who has earned 19 wins, 18 pole positions, 98 top-five finishes and 165 top-10s at the elite Cup level.

“Chase brings the kind of intangibles that make him the total package as a driver,” said Hendrick Motorsports owner Rick Hendrick, who announced the news this morning during the team’s season kickoff employee event. “Not only is he a special talent inside the race car, but there’s a natural combination of competitiveness, work ethic and smarts that you rarely see. Chase’s personality and demeanor make him popular with fans, teammates and sponsors. He’s a great fit for our organization on many levels, and we feel he and Alan will be a successful combination. There’s a lot to be excited about.”

In preparation for 2016, Elliott, 19, will make his Sprint Cup debut later this year as part of a five-race schedule with primary sponsorship from NAPA Auto Parts . The Dawsonville, Georgia, native will be paired with veteran crew chief Kenny Francis during the limited campaign.

Driving the No. 25 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet SS fielded by Hendrick Motorsports, Elliott will be entered in 2015 Cup events March 29 at Martinsville Speedway, April 25 at Richmond International Raceway, May 24 at Charlotte Motor Speedway, July 26 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Sept. 6 at Darlington Raceway.

“Chase has been a fantastic ambassador for NAPA,” said Gaylord Spencer, senior vice president of marketing for NAPA Auto Parts, which also is primary sponsor of Elliott’s JR Motorsports team in the NASCAR XFINITY Series. “As he embarks on this important next step in his career, we’re proud to support him across both series in 2015 and look forward to an exciting year on and off the track. The NAPA Family is behind Chase 100 percent.”

At the age of 18 years, 11 months and 18 days, Elliott became the youngest champion in any NASCAR national touring series when he won the 2014 XFINITY Series title. The first racer in NASCAR history to win a championship and rookie of the year honors in the same season, he also was voted by fans as the series’ most popular driver.

Elliott’s 2014 season included three wins, two pole positions and 26 top-10 finishes in 33 races. His first victory (Texas Motor Speedway) came in his sixth career series start and made him the second-youngest winner in XFINITY Series history (behind Joey Logano). He completed 99.6 percent of the 6,063 total laps run and became the first driver since 2010 to clinch the championship before the season finale.

Elliott and father Bill are only the fifth father-son duo to win NASCAR national series championships. They are members of an elite group that includes Lee and Richard Petty, Ned and Dale Jarrett, David and Larry Pearson, and Dale Earnhardt Sr. and Dale Earnhardt Jr. Bill Elliott, the 1988 Sprint Cup Series champion, will be enshrined into the NASCAR Hall of Fame tomorrow evening.

“So many people have been behind me, and the first thing I want to do is thank them,” said Chase Elliott, who will run the full 2015 XFINITY Series schedule as the defending champion. “My parents especially have believed in me every step of the way, and I know this wouldn’t be possible without all the sacrifices they’ve made to focus on my racing career. This is such a big week for our family.

“I’m also extremely grateful to Mr. Hendrick and my teammates at both Hendrick Motorsports and JR Motorsports for believing in me. NAPA has been a huge supporter, and I’m honored to represent them on and off the track. Of course the fans have been amazing to me, and I’m so appreciative of that. I know how rare this opportunity is and will work as hard as I can to make everyone proud.”

Hendrick Motorsports will announce sponsorship for Elliott’s 2016 Sprint Cup season at a later date.

Media Tour Filled With Sponsor Announcements

The annual Charlotte Motor Speedway Media Tour rolls on this week, with a number of sponsor announcements highlighting major NASCAR teams.
WIX Filters has announced an extension of its partnership with Richard Childress Racing, including primary branding of select events with the No. 31 Chevrolet and driver Ryan Newman. WIX Filters will also be featured as primary sponsor for one race with the No. 62 XFINITY Series Chevrolet and driver Brendan Gaughan. 
As part of the partnership, WIX Filters continues its technical support of both RCR and ECR Engines by supplying air and oil filters and providing research and development support. All RCR race cars will feature the WIX Filters logo under the hood. Last season, WIX's collaboration with RCR produced a championship-contenting effort with just one-point separating Newman from hoisting the Sprint Cup trophy. Adding to the accomplishment for RCR, Gaughan visited Victory Lane twice in the XFINITY Series. Newman will compete in the No. 31 WIX Filters Chevrolet starting at Bristol Motor Speedway on April 19.

RCR and Grainger have announced a multi-year partnership that makes Grainger the primary sponsor of the No. 31 Chevrolet driven by Newman for select NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races beginning with the June 7 event at Pocono Raceway. Grainger also will be featured as an associate sponsor on the No. 31 for all Cup Series events in which it is not the primary sponsor. Newman earned a second-place finish in the 2014 championship standings, which came down to the final lap of the season.
Visser Precision, LLC will join Furniture Row Racing as an associate sponsor on the team's No. 78 Chevrolet driven by Martin Truex Jr. in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. Headquartered in a state-of-the-art facility in Denver, Colorado, Visser Precision has manufactured products for industries ranging from aerospace and defense to luxury goods since 2011. Visser Precision, owned by FRR owner Barney Visser, operates with cutting-edge technologies in the areas of super alloys, precision machining, amorphous metal casting and 3D metal printing to help solve difficult engineering and manufacturing challenges. The company's president is Ryan Coniam, a former race engineer and crew chief in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. 

"This is an exciting move for not only our teammates at Visser Precision but also for our growing list of domestic and international clients," said Coniam. "With its advanced technologies, Visser Precision shares many of the same attributes found in the high-tech, competitive world of NASCAR. There is definitely some DNA between the two businesses and we are thrilled to be included with Furniture Row Racing." 

Visser Precision joins Furniture Row's specialty stores -- Denver Mattress, Oak Express, Bedroom Expressions and Sofa Mart -- as associate sponsors, with its name to be positioned on the roof of the No. 78 Chevrolet. 

Leavine Family Racing has announced an extended sponsorship with Thrivent Financial for the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season. The financial services organization will be the primary sponsor on the No. 95 Ford Fusion driven by Michael McDowell for 10 races and an associate sponsor for another 10 races. 

Thrivent is a Fortune 500, not-for-profit financial services membership organization that helps Christians be wise with money and live generously. Headquartered in Minneapolis, Thrivent offers a broad range of products and services—including life insurance, annuities and mutual funds—along with guidance from financial representatives nationwide. For more than a century, Thrivent has helped its nearly 2.4 million members make wise money choices that reflect their values and provided opportunities for them to be even more generous.

Thrivent will kick off this season as the primary sponsor on the No. 95 at the 57th annual DAYTONA 500, NASCAR’s season-opener and most prestigious race. Other prominent races for the organization will include Bristol, Indianapolis and Charlotte.

 “Thrivent Financial is a perfect fit for me and our team,” said McDowell.  “I became a Thrivent member last year after learning first-hand about their mission to help Christians strengthen their families and communities.”
Tommy Baldwin Racing will unveil its plans for the upcoming season with the return of #TBR7in7, a grassroots social media campaign pioneered in 2013. The team will be announcing the new driver of the No. 7 Chevrolet SS, as well as sponsors and crew chief for the team. #TBR7in7 launches Friday, and will continue through February 5th. 

"Our first 7 in 7 campaign was a great success for both TBR and our sponsors," said owner Tommy Baldwin Jr. "We are looking forward to seeing the reactions to this year's announcements. We have a great lineup of news coming up throughout the 7 and 7 campaign and are ready for the start of the season." 

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Stewart Says Fans, Friends Have Fueled Recovery

                                                                   Photo: Bob Leverone
Coming off what he called “the worst two years in the history of me,” Tony Stewart said Tuesday that he is on the road to regaining both his physical and mental health, and ready to retake his traditional place at the front of the NASCAR pack.

A shattered right leg suffered in an August 2013 Sprint Car crash in Oskaloosa, Iowa impacted Stewart’s performance for a time. A horrifying accident at New York’s Canandaigua Motorsports Park on August 9, 214 that saw driver Kevin Ward, Jr. die after climbing from his disabled vehicle and being struck by Stewart put the former NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion into an emotional tailspin from which he has admittedly struggled to recover.

Time heals all wounds, however, and Day Two of NASCAR’s annual preseason Media Tour featured a rejuvenated Stewart crediting friends and fans for playing a major role in his recovery.

“My leg is healing very well right now, and my head got a good break during the offseason,” said Stewart in an exclusive interview on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio’s SiriusXM Speedway with Dave Moody. “Typically, I go to a race in Fort Wayne, Ind., between Christmas and New Year’s. I actually stayed home from that this year, then left on the second of January and went to Yuma, Ariz., for the Winter Heat Sprint Car races.

“That was the first time I had been back to a Sprint Car race (since the Canandaigua accident),” said Stewart. “I didn’t even think about it until I got there, but it was the first time I had seen those guys. It was good to be there. I had a lot of fun working with Steve Kinser on his car, then I went straight to the Chili Bowl and spent my time driving a (track preparation) tractor at 1.6 mph for the week.

“I enjoyed it,” he laughed. “I probably could have had a few adult beverages and watched the racing like everyone else, but if I’m not going to be racing, (I would rather) have a job like that where every night, 85 guys are relying on me to do a good job and give them a good race track. It’s a lot of pressure, but I thrive on stuff like that. It was something I really looked forward to.”

Stewart said the reception he received in Arizona caught him by surprise.

“I didn’t realize that I hadn’t seen any of those people since everything happened last year,” he said. “Once I got there and started seeing and talking to everyone, it was so nice. Everyone said how happy they were to have me there, and how they had been thinking about me all summer.

“That meant more to me than I could possibly have imagined. I hadn’t anticipated that aspect of it, but it made a huge impact. The same thing happened in Tulsa the next weekend, with a different set of friends and people that I’m used to being around.

“Those were two really big weeks for my head and my heart, and I’ve had a great 2015 so far. I’m hoping to carry that on.”

Stewart said he was also humbled by the positive reception he received from NASCAR fans when he returned to competition at Atlanta Motor Speedway in late August.

“It helped,” he said. “In a major way, it helped. Sometimes you realize the impact you make as a driver, but you don’t really realize the impact that you have on people as a person.  I hope the fans realize the impact they’ve had on me, helping me feel better about everything.

“Racing is a huge family,” said Stewart. “It doesn’t matter if you’re watching on TV, listening on the radio, or if you’re a car owner or driver; everyone is in this family together.”

The three-time Sprint Cup Series champion also displayed a bit of his customary swagger, promising to “put on a show” at next month’s season-opening Daytona 500.

“I have every intention of running up front this year,” he grinned. “I usually take it easy for the first two-thirds of the race, then make my way forward. But that’s going out the window this year.

“I’m feeling racy, and I’m ready to get out there and make my name known again.” 

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Smokey Mountain Backs Sauter In 2015

Smokey Mountain Herbal Snuff and Pouches has extended their partnership with ThorSport Racing and driver Johnny Sauter for the 2015 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series season. The eight-race partnership kicks-off with the season opener, NextEra Energy Resources 250 at Daytona International Speedway on Friday, Feb. 20.
In 2014, Sauter finished fourth in the final NCWTS driver point standings and collected two Top-5 and four Top-10 finishes while carrying the Smokey Mountain Herbal Snuff colors on the No. 98 Toyota Tundra. 
"Smokey Mountain Herbal Snuff was looking for a competitive team and a specific type of driver to fit our brand identity," said Dave Savoca, president of Smokey Mountain Chew, Inc. "Johnny showed us through our partnership last year that he has the same passion for driving that we have about our product. We believe both ThorSport Racing and Johnny Sauter are a great fit for the Smokey Mountain brand." 
Sauter has a long history of success that spans a decade and includes 152 series starts, 10 wins, five poles, 56 Top-5and 86 Top-10 finishes. In 2015, with guidance from new crew chief Doug George, the Necedah, Wis., native will be a strong contender for the one thing that has eluded his career; a NCWTS championship. 
"Smokey Mountain has been a huge supporter of our series, and every year they are able to increase their presence in NASCAR," said Sauter. "I'm honored they have chosen not only to extend their partnership with myself and ThorSport Racing in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, but to have also increased their presence in 2015.  This kind of partnership is hard to find these days, so I'm honored to be carrying their colors and representing their brand again this season." 
In addition to the season opener at Daytona International Speedway, Smokey Mountain Herbal Snuff and Pouches will also adorn Sauter's No. 98 Toyota Tundra at both Martinsville (Va.) Speedway races (March/October), Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway (May), Dover (Del.) International Speedway (May), Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway (Aug.), Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway (Oct.), and Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth (Nov.).

Yeley To Drive For BK Racing

JJ Yeley will pilot a BK Racing Toyota for the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season, starting at Daytona International Speedway in a few weeks.

Yeley, who filled in for the team at the end of the 2014 season, has signed on for a full 36 race season. Best known for his accomplishments on dirt, Yeley has been involved in NASCAR circuit since 2004, achieving two Top 5's, eight Top 10's and one Coors Light Pole Award.

JJ Yeley commented, "I am looking forward to getting back behind the wheel of my BK Racing Toyota Camry. I filled in for the team at the end of the 2014 season, and I'm glad to be given the opportunity to come back again for another season. I am ready to get the 2015 season started and head to Daytona International Speedway for some restrictor plate racing."

"JJ has been a great asset to the BK Racing team," owner Ron Devine commented. "He has been involved in the motorsports industry for several years now, and has the knowledge and skill to help build this organization."

CONFIRMED: Annett To HScott Motorsports In 2015

HScott Motorsports confirmed today what first reported on Jan. 20, that Michael Annett will join the team at the wheel of a new Chevrolet sponsored by Pilot/Flying J.

Annett will race as a teammate to Justin Allgaier, who will return to the team’s No. 51 BRANDT Chevrolet.

"The addition of a second team increases HScott's overall ability to better utilize its resources at track and at the shop to be even more competitive," said team owner Harry Scott Jr.  "I'm proud to have seen Justin truly mature as a NSCS driver last year, and I can't wait to see what he does this year. Like Justin, Michael is coming off his rookie year following six years of competition in the NASCAR Xfinity Series. Michael is a quality driver with a great future at HScott Motorsports. These drivers complement one another and will make great teammates."

In his rookie season, Allgaier posted 10 Top-20 finishes, including 17th at Bristol; 16th at Michigan and Pocono and 15th-place finishes at Charlotte and Homestead to conclude the 2014 season.

"This is as excited as I've been for a new season, I can't wait to get to Daytona and fire the engines," said Allgaier.  "I'm looking forward to carrying the momentum from the end of last season over to this year.  Michael is a great addition to our organization and I'm glad to have a teammate to compete with each week."  

BRANDT Professional Agriculture, a leading agriculture retailer and manufacturer of agricultural specialty products, returns as the primary sponsor of the No. 51 Chevrolet for 21 races, beginning with the Daytona 500 on February 22.  Auto-Owners Insurance will also be the primary partner on the No. 51 for three races.  

"Justin and the No. 51 team continue to be a great source of pride for BRANDT employees and customers, and we are all looking forward to a great 2015 season," said BRANDT President and CEO Rick Brandt.

Annett competed in all 36 points races during his 2014 rookie NSCS campaign and posted several Top-20 finishes, including 19th at Fontana, 16th at Talladega and 18th at Kentucky. From 2008 through 2013, Annett competed full time in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, where he started 163 races and earned seven Top-5 and 34 Top-10 finishes.  Prior to his NASCAR career, Annett competed in the ARCA Racing Series in 2007 and 2008, winning races at Talladega and Daytona.

"I'm excited for the opportunity to drive for HScott Motorsports," said Annett.  "I am impressed with the way Harry is building his NASCAR teams.  Harry and competition director Steve Addington have a long-term vision and I'm honored to be part of it. I'm also looking forward to having Justin as a teammate."

Pilot Flying J, the largest operator of travel retail centers, will be a primary partner on Annett's car.  Other partners include Cypress Associates, Inc., Allstate Peterbilt Group and Northland Oil.  

Moffitt To Drive For MWR At Atlanta

Michael Waltrip Racing announced today Brett Moffitt will drive the No. 55 Aaron’s Dream Machine Toyota in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Atlanta Motor Speedway on March 1.  
The 22-year-old Grimes, Iowa native replaces Brian Vickers, whose return from December heart surgery begins the following weekend at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.  
“What a great honor and opportunity,” said Moffitt. “I hate that Brian has to miss the first two races of the season, but everyone is glad he is coming back at Las Vegas. My goal is to work closely with (Crew Chief) Billy Scott and the guys and get the most out of the Aaron’s Dream Machine that I can.  
“This is the best car I will have ever driven and I know my role is to leave Atlanta with a result that will make MWR, Aaron’s and the 55 team happy they showed faith in me.” 
Moffitt has worked with MWR and Toyota Racing Development for the past few years as a test and development driver. Moffitt is a nine-time winner in K&N Pro Series East competition and raced in eight NASCAR Sprint Cup races driving the No. 66 for Jay Robinson Racing/MWR in 2014. 
Scott said Moffitt was the team’s clear choice. 
“Brett was the first guy we thought of when we knew we needed a driver for Atlanta. He’s been part of MWR for several years. We’ve worked with him at tests and in the shop. The only thing missing from Brett’s career is an opportunity and I think Atlanta will be a track where he shows everyone how much talent he has.” 
MWR founder and co-owner Michael Waltrip will drive the No. 55 in the 2015 Daytona 500. 

Jarrett Joins NBC Sports' NASCAR Team

Former NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champion and NASCAR Hall of Famer Dale Jarrett will serve as a pre- and post-race analyst during live coverage of select NASCAR Sprint Cup and NASCAR XFINITY Series racing on NBC and NBCSN. 
Jarrett, a three-time Daytona 500 winner, will be among the first to welcome fans to NBC Sports’ 10-year chapter as the home of NASCAR’s championship run when he, Krista Voda and Kyle Petty open up NBC’s live pre-race coverage from Daytona International Speedway this 4th of July weekend.  In addition to handling pre- and post-race coverage, Jarrett will also serve as a booth analyst during select NASCAR XFINITY Series races and contribute to NASCAR AMERICA on NBCSN.         
 “We are excited to welcome Dale and his Hall of Fame credentials to our NASCAR broadcast team,” said Sam Flood, Executive Producer, NBC Sports and NBCSN.  “As a former Champion, his experience and insights will help us set the stage and break down key races throughout the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.” 
The appointment of Jarrett follows previous NBC Sports NASCAR on-air announcements for analysts Jeff Burton, Steve Letarte and Kyle Petty, race announcer Rick Allen, pre- and post-race host Krista Voda and reporters Marty Snyder, Kelli Stavast, Mike Massaro, Dave Burns and Rutledge Wood.
“I'm very pleased and excited to be a part of NBC Sports and their NASCAR coverage,” said Jarrett. “NBC has assembled an All-Star crew for their coverage, and I'm honored to be a part of this group that will bring NASCAR fans inside the sport we all love.” 
Jarrett grew up in and around the sport of NASCAR, eventually turning down a golf scholarship from the University of South Carolina in order to follow in the footsteps of his iconic father, Ned Jarrett, a two-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champion. The Newton-Conover, N.C., native earned his first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series victory in August 1991 at Michigan International Speedway in a car owned by the famed Wood Brothers. In the 10 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series seasons that spanned from 1993-2002, Dale achieved 29 of his 32 victories, three Daytona 500 wins, a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship in 1999, and seven seasons among the Top-5 in points. Jarrett raced in his final full season of NASCAR Sprint Cup Series competition in 2007. He made his final appearance behind the wheel in the 2008 NASCAR Sprint All-Star Challenge race, and was inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame in 2014.  Jarrett joined ESPN full time in 2008, and quickly took over the reins as their lead NASCAR Sprint Cup Series racing analyst, a position he held for the last seven seasons.     
On July 23, 2013, NASCAR and NBC Sports Group reached a comprehensive agreement that grants NBCUniversal exclusive rights to the final 20 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races, final 19 NASCAR XFINITY Series events, select NASCAR Regional & Touring Series events and other live content, beginning this coming 4th of July weekend from Daytona International Speedway.
With this partnership, NBC’s 20 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race schedule includes a designation as the exclusive home to the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, when the elite national series races through its final 10 events of the season. The Chase culminates with the season-ending championship event, which returns to network television in 2015 for the first time since 2009. Of NBC Sports Group’s 20 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series events, seven will be carried on NBC annually, with 13 airing on NBCSN. Four of NBC Sports Group’s 19 NASCAR XFINITY Series races will air on NBC, with 15 airing on NBCSN.

Axalta To Sponsor June Pocono Race

Pocono Raceway and Axalta Coating Systems have announced a multi-year entitlement agreement which includes the renaming of the annual June NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race held at ‘The Tricky Triangle’ as the Axalta “We Paint Winners” 400.  
“We are very excited to share this great news, in cooperation with everyone at Axalta Coating Systems,” said Pocono Raceway President/CEO, Brandon Igdalsky. “They have been a great addition to the Pocono Raceway family, and we look forward to growing this relationship in 2015 and beyond. What makes this even more special is the fact we get to work hand-in-hand with a true global powerhouse who also calls the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania ‘home.’” 

“Axalta is proud of its 22-year motorsports partnership,” said Axalta Vice President and head of its North America business, Nigel Budden.  “As a leader in the US refinish business, our paint graces race cars that burn rubber on the track each season and we proudly support four-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Jeff Gordon.  Now, we are pleased to expand our racing involvement as Pocono Raceway’s title sponsor of the upcoming race on June 7.  We look forward to cheering on Gordon as he vies for a seventh win at Pocono Raceway.” 

Axalta Coating Systems is “The Official Finish” of Stewart-Haas Racing and Hendrick Motorsports, the two most recent NSCS championship organizations. They also sponsor the No. 24 Axalta Coatings Chevrolet SS driven by Jeff Gordon, who is the winningest NASCAR driver at Pocono with six victories (June 1996, June 1997, July 1998, June 2007, June 2011 and August 2012). 

Tickets for the June 7th Axalta “We Paint Winners” 400 start at $45.  Kids, ages 12 and under are eligible for half-price grandstand tickets starting at $22.50. For tickets and more information, visit or call 1-800-RACEWAY (1-800-722-3929). 

NASCAR Announces 2015 Drive For Diversity Lineup

NASCAR Drive for Diversity announced its 2015 class Monday, welcoming four program newcomers to the roster of six drivers striving to transition into the sport’s national series spotlight. Rev Racing, the program’s competition arm, has played a key role in the development of 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Sunoco Rookie of the Year Kyle Larson and NASCAR XFINITY Series drivers Darrell Wallace Jr. and Daniel Suarez.

In alphabetical order, the 2015 NASCAR D4D roster includes:

Devon Amos
Devon Amos: Returning to the team, the 23-year-old Rio Rancho, New Mexico, native will make the jump to the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East after two full seasons in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series.

Jay Beasley: Finishing 13th overall and sixth in a loaded Sunoco Rookie of the Year field in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East last season, the 23-year-old from Las Vegas, Nevada will return for a second season, aiming to best his rookie campaign.

Collin Cabre: After an impressive NASCAR D4D Combine performance, the 21-year-old Thonotosassa, Florida, native will compete in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East in his first year with Rev Racing. Cabre has spent the past five years racing asphalt and dirt sprint cars.

Natalie Decker: A 17-year-old newcomer to the Rev Racing roster from Eagle River, Wisconsin, Decker collected feature wins in a limited late model and super late model, as well as earning Rookie and Sportsman of the Year honors in ARCA SCAG Midwest Truck Tour. She will compete in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series in 2015.

Kenzie Ruston: Entering her third season in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East and first with Rev Racing, the 22-year-old El Reno, Oklahoma, native is also a member of NASCAR Next, an industry initiative to identify tomorrow’s stars. Ruston broke her own record in 2014 as the highest finishing female driver in the K&N Pro Series East with a runner-up finish at Iowa Speedway on her way to finishing ninth in points.

Dylan Smith
Dylan Smith: The 22-year-old from Randolph, Vermont earned a spot with Rev Racing in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series after competing in his own Late Model last year. The Stewart-Haas Racing employee ran 15 races and finished 38th in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Division I national standings.

Rev Racing will field four teams in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East and two in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series.

“Taking steps to find and develop young female and multicultural athletes who could represent the future of NASCAR is at the core of our organization’s mission,” said Jim Cassidy, NASCAR senior vice president of racing operations. “We were impressed by the talent displayed at the Combine (in October of 2014), and are eager to help this group develop their strengths on and off the track.”

Under Rev Racing owner and CEO Max Siegel’s leadership, the development program aligns drivers with a team of executives, athletic directors, crew chiefs and mentors tasked with helping NASCAR D4D drivers achieve career successes; thus, improving their goal of  reaching one of NASCAR's three national series.

“NASCAR Drive for Diversity goes much deeper than putting drivers behind the wheel of race cars,” said Siegel. “The program is all encompassing, providing competition, athletic training and professional development opportunities for drivers who have the determination and talent to reach NASCAR’s top levels. We’ve seen this with Larson, Suarez and Wallace Jr. and are excited about the potential of this talented group of drivers.”

Growth of the program extends to pit crew members under the NASCAR D4D Crew Member Development Program, also managed by Siegel. In 2014, more than 30 multicultural athletes pitted fulltime for teams across all three national series. 

Darlington Unveils Commemorative Retro-Ticket

With the Bojangles’ Southern 500 returning to Labor Day weekend in 2015, Darlington Raceway has announced that it will commemorate its history with a retro-style ticket for the September 5-6 race weekend.

The design will incorporate the look of the 1974 ticket, and features South Carolina and Darlington Raceway legend Cale Yarborough, who was highlighted as the defending champion in 1974 after winning his first career Southern 500 in 1973.

The ticket will also honor last year’s Bojangles’ Southern 500 winner and 2014 defending NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Kevin Harvick, in a similar fashion.

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 races. Tickets are expected to be mailed to all customers beginning in mid-June.

“We announced in December that we would make some exciting announcements each month leading into our race weekend. This new ticket design will be unique for our fans because it captures our storied history with a retro feel and celebrates our defending race champion Kevin Harvick,” said track president Chip Wile. “This is just one of many initiatives we have planned over the next several months as we celebrate the tradition returning to Labor Day weekend in September.”

In addition, Darlington Raceway will introduce a “Fan Hall of Fame” program. The program will honor longtime ticketholders and supporters of the track. A minimum of five fans will be selected in the first year and will be honored during Bojangles’ Southern 500 pre-race ceremonies. Fan Hall of Fame members will be asked to provide feedback and ideas to the track in future years, serving in a Fan Advisory Board capacity.

“We have many loyal race fans who have attended events here for decades, so it only made sense to thank and celebrate them through this new program,” Wile said. “Our fans are the number one reason Darlington Raceway has enjoyed a history steep in tradition. Without them, we would not be in existence today. Their stories are what we need to recognize and honor moving forward.”

Ticket renewals have been mailed, reminding fans to renew their seats for the 2015 Labor Day race weekend. Renewing tickets early guarantees seats at the best prices available prior to the opening of all remaining seats to the general public on February 18.

“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 when NASCAR racing returns to Labor Day weekend at Darlington Raceway. This is going to be one of the most exciting events of the season, and we encourage everyone to get their tickets now and start preparing as the Tradition Returns to Darlington Raceway on Labor Day weekend in 2015!”

Renewing customers receive many great benefits for being a loyal customer, including the raceway’s best pricing for Labor Day weekend.

Renewal benefits include the track’s best prices for the Bojangles’ Southern 500, a flexible, six-part payment plan option, the opportunity to auto-renew for three or five years at 2015 prices, special renewal pricing for Darlington Stripe Zone Hospitality (a $30 savings), special renewal pricing for pre-race pit passes ($5 savings), special renewal pricing for driver intro/pre-race concert access ($10 savings), special renewal pricing for FanVision rentals ($15 savings), special renewal pricing for Racing Electronics scanner rental ($10 savings).

Guests may renew their tickets and campsites by calling 866-459-RACE (7223) or visiting Renewal deadline is Friday, Feb. 6.

Kyle On Media Reports: “It’s The Wrong Brother”

"I think it's stupid..."
Kyle Busch said yesterday that he is bothered by erroneous media reports linking him with a domestic assault allegation involving his brother.

Former NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Kurt Busch – older brother of Kyle – faces possible domestic violence charges after former girlfriend Patricia Driscoll accused him of slamming her head against the wall of his motorhome at Dover International Speedway in late September. A handful of media commentators – including ESPN2’s Keith Olbermann – have misidentified Kurt Busch as his brother in on-air reports.

''I think it's stupid,” said Kyle Busch on the opening day of NASCAR’s annual preseason media tour. “I think people need to do a little bit more background before they write names or say names if they don't know what the heck they are talking about.

''It's not that hard to differentiate between two people that have the same last name. I think people need to do a better job and not be so slackish.''

Busch said he has not spoken to his brother about the case, and has no plans to.

''(I) haven't spoken to him, don't know nothing, trying to stay away from it all and let him handle his business.”
He said the media reports have not created issues for his sponsor, M&Ms.

''It hasn't been bothersome from a sponsorship standpoint yet, that I know of,'' he said. ''(But) I know it could be if it continues. I think the relationship I have with the Mars family is far beyond that, hopefully.''

Monday, January 26, 2015

Motor Racing Network Earns NMPA Honors

Motor Racing Network – “The Voice of NASCAR” – was honored by the National Motorsports Press Association last night with seven awards for radio excellence in 2014, including first place in the Live Event Broadcast category for the second year in a row.

Barney Hall, the legendary voice who has been part of the MRN family since the network’s debut in 1970, was named Broadcaster of the Year and Darrell Smith was honored as Producer of the Year.

MRN’s coverage of the dramatic, season-ending Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway – with Kevin Harvick edging Ryan Newman for the Sprint Cup Series championship -- took top honors in the Live Event Broadcast category.  It was produced by Brian Nelson, and MRN President and Executive Producer David Hyatt accepted the award.

“The 2014 season will be remembered as one of the most thrilling, dramatic years in NASCAR history,” Hyatt said.  “Our team performed exceptionally well in delivering that excitement to our listeners and NASCAR fans across the country.  We humbly accept these accolades from the NMPA.”

In addition to being named Producer of the Year, Smith won two other first-place awards.  He produced a feature on Hall’s retirement from full-time race coverage in July, and was also cited for his work on MRN’s “Talespin,” which features Hall as a master storyteller, spinning some of the sport’s most interesting yarns from years past.  Smith won with a feature titled “Creative Engineering in NASCAR,” which was produced in collaboration with Alex Hayden, Hall’s co-host.  These awards were in Event-oriented Feature Radio and Topic-oriented Feature Radio, respectively.

“Talespin” is available for download at and also at itunes.

Smith and Hall also teamed up to win second place in Topic-oriented Feature Radio with MRN’s pre-season special “1979 Daytona 500: NASCAR Storms America.”

Nelson won second place in Spot News for producing a story which outlined NASCAR’s new qualifying procedures that were put in place for the 2014 season.

“Race teams use success at the end of one year to build momentum for the next season,” Hyatt said.  “We are no different.  All of us at the Motor Racing Network are honored for the achievements of 2014 and eager to get 2015 rolling.”

MRN Turn Announcer Mike Bagley and Pit Reporter Pete Pistone won third-place honors in Event-oriented Feature Radio as co-hosts of SiriusXM’s “Morning Drive.” 

Turn Announcer Dave Moody also won three awards for his work outside the network; second place in Spot News for coverage of the Tony Stewart sprint car accident, fifth place in Race Coverage for Brendan Gaughan’s XFINITY Series win at Road America -- both posted online at -- and third place in Broadcast Spot News for a feature titled “Remembering Lynda Petty” that aired on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio’s SiriusXM Speedway.

Motor Racing Network’s 2015 event broadcast schedule will begin this Friday with exclusive radio coverage of the sixth annual NASCAR Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony from Charlotte, N.C.  Air time will be 8 p.m. (EST), with live streaming at

Coverage of Budweiser Speedweeks at Daytona International Speedway will follow, beginning Feb. 13 and culminating with the 57th running of the Daytona 500 on Sunday, Feb. 22.  Joe Moore and Jeff Striegle will anchor Motor Racing Network’s broadcast of “The Great American Race” starting at 12 p.m., also with live streaming at

Martinsville's Mike Smith Honored By NMPA

Mike Smith, Director of Public Relations at Martinsville Speedway, has always gone the extra mile to ensure everyone leaves the track having a positive experience.
Apparently, his hard work has not gone unnoticed.  
Smith was named the 2014 recipient of the Ken Patterson Helping Others Award by the National Motorsports Press Association at the organization’s annual Awards Dinner last night. 
“Ken Patterson set the standard in working with the media and I’m beyond humbled to receive the award that honors his legacy,” said Smith. “I’m very fortunate to work with a team at Martinsville Speedway that appreciates the media and understands their importance in what we do. When I was in the newspaper business, our track’s founder, H. Clay Earles, always told me that next to race fans, the press were the most important people a track works for. It’s a philosophy that I hold close.” 
Smith’s award was well-received by those who work with him on a daily basis.
 “Mike Smith embodies everything the Ken Patterson Helping Others Award stands for,” said Martinsville Speedway President Clay Campbell. “Not only is he great in his role as the Director of Public Relations, he treats everyone with the highest level of respect and compassion. The NMPA couldn’t have picked a more deserving person and I couldn’t be more proud to have him on my team.”
Smith started work at Martinsville Speedway in 2001, after a long career as the sports editor of the Martinsville Bulletin. It was in this role that he was first introduced to NASCAR, covering the sport for more than 20 years before working in it.  
Named for the former Talladega Superspeedway Director of Public Relations Ken Patterson, the award recognizes a public relations representative in the motorsports industry who has exhibited the kind, generous qualities that Patterson always demonstrated. 
Patterson died in 2004 from complications of myelodysplasia syndrome. 
In addition to the award, Talladega Superspeedway will donate $1,000 in Smith’s name to the Ken Patterson Educational Trust Fund. 

Fronius USA Joins Viva Motorsports

Viva Motorsports has announced a new partnership with Fronius USA for the 2015 NASCAR XFINITY Series Season.

Fronius USA will serve as primary sponsor of the No. 55 Chevrolet Camaro for multiple races this season, beginning in Daytona. In addition to running the Fronius USA colors, Viva Motorsports has been outfitted with the latest welding technology from Fronius.

“We are very proud to be a part of NASCAR,” says Wolfgang Niedrist, CEO of Fronius USA. “This is a new and exciting time for our company. It shows our commitment to the US market. Fronius USA supports Viva Motorsports.”

Viva ended the 2014 NASCAR XFINITY Series season 25th in owner’s points. Crew chief Mark Setzer and crew are busy preparing the No. 55 Fronius USA Camaro for the first superspeedway race of 2015.

“We are thrilled to have Fronius USA on board for the upcoming season, they are an outstanding company with outstanding products. We are excited to grow with them throughout 2015 and into the future,” said team owner Jamie Dick.

A driver announcement for the No. 55 Chevy Camaro will be released at a later date.