Monday, December 21, 2015

Tommy Baldwin Racing Announces Personnel Moves

Tommy Baldwin Racing has announced major changes within the organization for the 2016 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season. 

Francois "Frankie" Bergeron joins the team from Joe Gibbs Racing, where as Fabrication Shop Manager, he oversaw the construction of their cars for the past five years. Now, he will assume the same role at TBR. 

"Frankie brings with him a resume full of race wins and experience," said team owner Tommy Baldwin. "His knowledge and leadership will be an invaluable asset to our program. We're excited to have him join us." 

Chad Walter, who worked at Michael Waltrip Racing for the past three years, will lead the race engineering efforts. At MWR, he served as an engineer and R&D Manager. Walter will flank Ed Nathman, who has assumed the role of Simulation and Vehicle Dynamics Manager. 

Veteran Mike Brill joins TBR as Car Chief of the No. 7 Chevrolet. Most recently at Richard Childress Racing, Brill has been a fixture in the NASCAR garage for many years. He takes over for Ken Davis, whose focus will be at the shop as a chassis specialist and mechanic. 
TBR’s newly revamped body shop will benefit from the addition of two other former MWR employees. Both Doug Trader and Brent Patzack bring a wealth of experience to TBR and will complement the existing staff.

Additionally, longtime TBR team member Jamie Tomaino has been promoted to Shop Foreman. 

"This is probably the most excited about a season than we've ever been," said Baldwin. "I feel that we've put together a team capable of bringing us to the next level of competition. This business is all about the people and I think we've assembled some of the best."

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Busch Undergoes Successful Surgery

Kyle Busch, driver of the No. 18 Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) and current NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champion, had successful surgery this morning to remove two metal plates in his left foot and a metal rod and screws in his right leg. Busch is expected to make a full recovery in time for the start of the 2016 NASCAR season in February.

The scheduled offseason surgery removed the plates, rod and screws that were used to help stabilize his foot and leg following injuries suffered in an accident at Daytona International Speedway in February 2015.  

Today’s surgeries were performed by Dr. Robert Anderson of OrthoCarolina and Dr. Stephen Sims of Carolinas Healthcare System.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Darlington's "Throwback Campaign" Will Return In 2016

Another historic celebration of the sport is in store for Darlington Raceway in 2016. 

The track has announced the return of its award-winning throwback campaign for the Bojangles’ Southern 500 race weekend on Sept. 2-4, 2016. As the tradition continues in 2016, the track will celebrate the 1975-84 era of the sport; a time of exceptional growth and exposure for NASCAR. 

“The track will be celebrating the 1975-84 time period of the sport during our throwback weekend in 2016,” said Darlington Raceway President Chip Wile today. “We had tremendous response from the industry last season, which included the race teams, NASCAR, NBC, Goodyear and the NASCAR Hall of Fame, to name a few. This is a fun and unique way to honor the history and heritage of NASCAR racing at one of the sport’s most iconic tracks on Labor Day weekend.” 

As the sport moved into the modern era, champions such as Cale Yarborough, Bobby Allison, Dale Earnhardt and Darrell Waltrip, among others, made a tremendous impact on NASCAR and will be celebrated during the Labor Day weekend festivities. 

The honoring of champions from 1975-84 is just one part of the track’s overall strategy to celebrate its history, which enters its second year. Darlington Raceway’s throwback campaign focuses on specific eras plus the historic moments and drivers that made impacts at the track Too Tough to Tame. 

A number of exciting announcements surrounding one of the “crown jewel” events on the NASCAR schedule will be made over the next several months. 

Last year’s throwback campaign last season featured a celebration of the early 1970’s (1970-74) including 32 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series teams competing with throwback paint schemes for the Bojangles’ Southern 500, Goodyear reverting to the original white lettering on its race tires, honoring 14 NASCAR Hall of Fame members including Cale Yarborough, Richard Petty, Rusty Wallace, Rex White, Dale Jarrett and Ned Jarrett, unique food offerings from the early 1970’s – including pimento cheese sandwiches, sausage perlo and fried green tomatoes – a pre-race concert by rock legends Grand Funk Railroad and a national anthem performance by Nashville recording artist Tanya Tucker and the return of the Southern 500 parade, which took place on Saturday night from downtown Darlington to the track. 

Ticket renewals will be mailed in January, so fans should check their mailboxes in the coming weeks to renew their tickets and/or camping for 2016.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Nikko RC/Toy State To Back Tommy Baldwin Racing

Nikko RC/Toy State will become the majority sponsor of Tommy Baldwin Racing, driver Alex Bowman and the No. 7 Chevrolet team for the 2016 season. Team owner Tommy Baldwin was joined on stage at the NASCAR Hall of Fame by Toy State President Andy Friess and driver Alex Bowman for today’s announcement. 

NASCAR fans were first introduced to Toy State's extensive portfolio as the No. 7 Tommy Baldwin Racing Chevrolet featured their flagship Road Rippers and Nikko brands during the 2015 season. The company boasts brands that include Hot Wheels, WWE and James Bond 007 "lights & sound" and radio controlled vehicles, as well as Cat and Cat Preschool construction toys. 

The partnership between Nikko RC/ Toy State and Tommy Baldwin Racing will feature their brand as a primary sponsor of the No. 7 team in 13 NASCAR Sprint Cup races during the 2016 season and as an associate-level partner in 14 other races.  

"Nikko RC/Toy State's level of commitment to our team during the 2015 season allowed us to strengthen our program. The multi-year partnership has enabled us to set realistic goals and expectations for towards our continued growth," said team owner Tommy Baldwin. 

"2015 was a great experience for Toy State as a first-time team sponsor with Tommy Baldwin Racing," said Andy Friess, President of Toy State. "We are thrilled to announce this multi-year sponsorship with the team. The growth potential of TBR and Toy State is limitless and we're excited about the many business opportunities throughout NASCAR as a whole." 

Roush Fenway Announces New Hires

Roush Fenway Racing has announced three personnel additions to its NASCAR team, with Kurt Romberg, Dr. Kent Day and Vojin Jaksic each assuming high-level roles within the team.

“It takes great talent to win in this sport and we are very pleased with the additions we have made on the competition front,” said team owner Jack Roush. “We recognize the importance of putting the appropriate personnel into place, as we continue our relentless pursuit to put the best and most competitive race teams on the track.” 
Romberg, who spent the last 15 years heading up aerodynamics at Hendrick Motorsports, joins the team as the Technical Director of Aerodynamics. He worked with General Motors and Petty Enterprises before becoming the chief aerodynamicist at Hendrick.  
Day will serve as Manager of Simulation. Day, who holds a Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from Clemson University, brings over two decades of experience to Roush Fenway and has held technical director positions with Team Penske and RCR and most recently specialized in vehicle dynamics at MWR. 
Jaksic returns to Roush Fenway Racing as the research and development/special projects manager after serving in similar positions at MWR and Joe Gibbs Racing.  Jaksic previously worked at Roush Fenway Racing from 2005 until 2011. 
The additions are part of a strategic plan to expand organizational capabilities and follows the hiring of industry veterans Mark McArdle and Kevin Kidd to lead engineering and Sprint Cup competition last season.  

Rhodes Tabbed For ThorSport Truck Series Entry

Former NASCAR K&N Pro Series East champion Ben Rhodes has signed with ThorSport Racing for the 2016 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series season. The 18-year old Kentucky native will drive the team’s No. 41 Alpha Energy Solutions Toyota in search of Sunoco Rookie of the Year honors and the series’ championship. 

Rhodes, the 2014 K&N Pro Series East champion, Rookie of the Year, and Most Popular Driver, is looking forward to competing with a championship-caliber organization in 2016. 

“I’m grateful for the opportunity to race full time with ThorSport Racing next season,” said Rhodes. “I was excited when I received the phone call. The team has won two out of the last three Truck Series championship titles, went to Victory Lane many times this year and all three trucks were within the Top-6 in points. I feel confident I am joining a team that will be able to produce top-notch Toyota Tundras for me to contend for poles, race wins, Rookie of the Year honors and the championship.” 

Rhodes raced a part-time, 10-race schedule in the 2015 NASCAR XFINITY Series, earning his first NASCAR national series pole in just his seventh start at Road America in Elkart Lake, Wisc, and picking up a series-best seventh-place finish in his first series start at Iowa Speedway. 

“The 2015 season was a great way to get my feet wet in the upper levels of NASCAR,” said Rhodes. “I gained a lot of knowledge on how things work, and I feel as though I’m ready for a full-time ride.  That is why I’m looking forward to the 2016 season with ThorSport Racing. I will have a crew chief that I can work closely with week to week and a team that knows what driver will be in the seat every race. We can focus on being successful, starting at Daytona and ending at Homestead.” 

Based out of Sandusky, Ohio, ThorSport Racing is the longest-tenured NCWTS team, competing annually since 1996, and NASCAR’s only full-time team based in Ohio. 

“We are thrilled to have Ben join our team behind the wheel of the No. 41 Alpha Energy Solutions Toyota Tundra in 2016,” said Matt LaNeve of ThorSport Racing. “Ben’s experience and success in the K&N Pro Series East, coupled with his NASCAR XFINITY Series starts, have produced a fruitful start to his racing career and we are honored to have him competing for ThorSport Racing next season. Ben is an outstanding, hands-on driver, with a ‘go-getter’ attitude, and we look forward to him leading laps, winning races, and contending for a championship title. We are confident he will represent ThorSport Racing, Toyota and Alpha Energy Solutions with pride.” 

Rhodes is not new to the Truck Series. He made four starts in the series in 2014, picking up three top-10 finishes, including a series-best fifth-place finish at Phoenix International Raceway. 

“I’m looking forward to returning to the Truck Series,” explained Rhodes. “With only 10 races in the NASCAR XFINITY Series and four in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, this is a huge step forward for me. The Truck Series is extremely competitive, and I am up for the challenge.” 

Alpha Energy Solutions, a commercial and industrial mechanical self-performing service provider based out of Rhodes’ home-town of Louisville, Kentucky, will continue to support Rhodes as primary sponsor on his Toyota Tundra in 2016. A familiar number will also adorn the quarter panels during his rookie season, the No. 41, a number Rhodes utilized in two seasons of NKNPSE and NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Late Model Stock competition. 

“I have to thank Alpha Energy Solutions for continuing to support my racing career. Also, we will be running the No. 41 on our Toyota Tundra, which is the number I used throughout most of my NASCAR career and the number I used in the K&N Pro Series East when I became the 2014 series champion. 

“We have the team, the number, and the sponsor to be successful this year. I am very eager to get to Daytona with ThorSport Racing and race the No. 41 Alpha Energy Solutions Toyota Tundra.” 

Rhodes’ crew chief, additional sponsors, and the paint scheme will be revealed in January.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Remembering Ronnie Bouchard

Former NASCAR Winston Cup Series Rookie of the Year and Modified great Ron Bouchard will be laid to rest today in his hometown of Fitchburg, Mass., after losing a lengthy battle with cancer Thursday, at the age of 67.  

For most fans, Bouchard is best remembered for an upset victory in what is now the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Talladega Superspeedway in 1981. But for those who knew him best, the Massachusetts native will forever be recalled for his competitive spirit, unquestionable talent at the wheel of a race car, and his ever-present smile. 

Bouchard exploded onto the northeast racing scene at the tender age of 14, climbing behind the wheel of his father’s Late Model at the long-shuttered Brookline Speedway in 1963, when its regular driver fell ill and was unable to compete. From those humble beginnings, Bouchard quickly became one of the hottest young talents in New England stock car racing. 

“The first time he showed up at Seekonk Speedway, he asked his car owner, `Who’s the hot dog around here?’” recalled northeast Modified great and lifelong Bouchard golf buddy George Summers. “His crew pointed to me, and for the next few weeks, he was always the first one strapped in for practice. He would follow me onto the track and shadow my every move. When I went high, he’d go high. When I went low, he’d follow me.  

“I didn’t mind it, really. In fact, I took it as a compliment. But after a few weeks, I realized that the kid was better than me. I told him, “I’m not here to give you a free education, go follow somebody else! 

“That was the start of a 50-year friendship.” 

In short order, Bouchard became one of New England’s biggest winners, wheeling ground-pounding modifieds for legendary car owners like Bob Johnson, Bob Judkins, Len Boehler and Marvin Rifchin to more than 400 feature wins and multiple track championships at Seekonk, Stafford and Thompson Speedways. Tabbed “The Wasa Wasa Kid” by track announcers Jack Arute and Mike Joy – a nickname that Arute reveals “meant absolutely nothing, but sounded good” – Bouchard forged an open wheel resume that ultimately resulted in an invitation from Connecticut school bus magnate Jack Beebe to replace the departing Harry Gant at the wheel of his No. 47 Race Hill Farm Winston Cup Buicks. 

“Jack had approached me once before,” recalled Bouchard in a 2014 interview, “but between running the modified five nights a week and working in the family business, I was doing so good that I turned him down. After Harry left, he called me again, and I decided to give it a try.” 

In typical Bouchard fashion, he wasted little time making an impression. 

In just his 11th career start, he stunned the Winston Cup regulars by winning the 1981 Talladega 500, slipping past eventual NASCAR Hall of Famers Darrell Waltrip and Terry Labonte within sight of the checkered flag to claim a Cinderella victory by less than two feet at the line. 

"Coming off the fourth turn, Terry decided to pass Darrell on the outside," said Bouchard in Victory Lane. "When he moved up, Darrell moved up to get in front of him. When I saw that, I just shot down to the inside… and moved up fast." 

“Terry and I got a little too caught up in racing each other, laughed Waltrip last week. “We forgot all about Ron, and as we crossed under the checkered flag, I looked to my left and realized he had snookered us both, but good! 

“I asked, “Where did HE come from?” on my in-car radio, only to be told, `You damned fool, he’s been back there for the last 400 miles!’” 

Bouchard claimed the Winston Cup Rookie of the Year award that season, outdistancing a class that included the late Tim Richmond, Morgan Shepherd and Joe Ruttman. He made 160 Cup Series starts between 1981 and 1987, amassing 19 Top-5 and 60 Top-10 finishes, along with three poles. He also collected 20 starts on the then-NASCAR Busch Series, with two victories and eight Top-5 finishes along the way. 

Bouchard left Beebe’s team at the end of the 1985 campaign, after infighting between crewmembers threatened the team’s stability. He ran a part-time schedule in team owner Mike Curb’s Valvoline-sponsored Pontiacs in `86, then made five starts for veteran Hoss Ellington the following year before abruptly walking away from the sport. 

“It just wasn’t what I was used to,” said Bouchard of his final seasons. “I had an opportunity to go home and start my own business, and at 40-years old. I knew I wasn’t going to race much longer, anyway.”  

Bouchard experienced similar success in his “second career” as an automobile dealer. His “Ron Bouchard’s Auto Stores” franchise eventually expanded to sell the Acura, Chrysler, Dodge, Honda, Kia, Nissan and Ram brands at multiple dealerships in two different states. The business allowed him to satisfy his competitive nature, while also maintaining long-term relationships with fans and customers. 

"The people and customers are my friends," he said. “I talking with them, earning their friendship and helping them out.” 

Sadly, Bouchard was diagnosed with lung cancer a few years ago. He kept that diagnosis secret from all but his closest friends and family, taking part in groundbreaking ceremonies for the planned North East Motorsports Museum on the grounds of New Hampshire Motor Speedway last summer, and working tirelessly alongside Paula -- the daughter of modified legend Ed Flemke and his wife of more than 30 years -- to open his own RB Racing Museum on the grounds of his Fitchburg dealership. 

“That museum became very important to him,” said Bouchard’s brother-in-law, modified driver and chassis builder Ed Flemke, Jr. “I think he knew there was not much time left, and he wanted to see it completed. He and Paula were such a tremendous team. They did everything together. They were the perfect married couple, right to the end.” 

NASCAR commented on Bouchard's passing last week, saying in a written statement, "Ron Bouchard's passion for racing was evident from his very early years in NASCAR. Competition fueled Ron, whether racing modifieds at short tracks across the Northeast or winning rookie of the year honors in NASCAR's premier series. He loved this sport, and made an indelible mark on it, one that won't soon be forgotten.

"NASCAR extends its condolences to the friends and family of Ron Bouchard, a true racer." 

"It was a tough battle," said Flemke, choking back tears as he recalled Bouchard’s final weeks. "It was difficult at the end, but he fought a good fight, as he always did."  

Now, as checkered flag flies over the career of one of the northeast’s most beloved racers, we are left to embrace his loving family and share the memories of an amazing talent, and an amazing man. 

Rest in peace, Ronnie. We will never forget you.


Friday, December 11, 2015

Mars Presents Busch, JGR With Championship Mural

To congratulate Kyle Busch, Joe Gibbs Racing and the No. 18 team on an amazing season culminating in Busch capturing his first-ever NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship, Mars Inc. presented the team with a mural, created entirely from the Mars products that have gone along for the ride on the No. 18 this season.  
Crafted from thousands of M&M’S, Skittles, Snickers and Pedigree products, the seven-foot mural took more than 80 hours to create and replicates an iconic image captured immediately after Busch clinched the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The mural was presented to Busch and the JGR team on Thursday evening, to commemorate the team’s first Sprint Cup Series Championship.  
“From running on the M&M’S “Crispy Edge” for the win at Kentucky, to tasting the rainbow of victory with Skittles at Indianapolis to the final weekend in Miami, this has been a season Mars will never forget,” said William Clements, Vice President of Sponsorships for Mars. “It has truly been an honor for Mars to be a part of the team and join in tasting the success of the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship.” 
The mural will take up permanent display at the Joe Gibbs Racing shop in Huntersville, NC. 

Scott Confirmed To Richard Petty Motorsports

Richard Petty Motorsports confirmed today that Brian Scott will drive the team’s No. 9 Ford Sprint Cup Series Ford in 2016.

"We're happy to welcome Brian to the team," said team patriarch Richard Petty. "Our team has worked very hard to continue our winning tradition and building consistency. We feel Brian is a great addition to that. He's made a steady progression through the ranks, and now, we feel he's ready to compete in the Sprint Cup Series."

The 27-year old Idaho native has been a Top-10 point driver in the NASCAR XFINITY Series in each of the last five years, despite being winless in 208 career starts. He replaces Sam Hornish, Jr., who finished
26th in last year’s Sprint Cup standings, with just three Top-10 finishes in 36 starts.

"I am thrilled to go Sprint Cup Series racing full time next year and to do it with such an iconic team," said Scott. "When you think NASCAR racing, you think Petty. I'm glad to now be a part of that legacy. I feel like we are in a good position to compete for the Rookie of the Year next year and continue the consistency that RPM built over the last few years."

No information was released concerning sponsorship, but announcements are expected in the near future.
“I started dreaming about being a Sprint Cup driver a long time ago and I’ve always wondered what that would look like and what the future held,” said Scott. “Never did I ever think that I’d get to drive for an iconic organization like Petty. I actually have gotten to drive for two iconic organizations, and that has surpassed any dreams that I was able to set as a kid.  I’m so excited to be here and to be a part of the growth.  Since I found out that this deal was coming about and been able to spend the last couple of days in the shop with the guys, I’m pumped. I’m excited. I really like the group of people that they’ve assembled here and I know that we’re capable of great things. I’m looking forward to putting in the work and to proving that on the race track.”

Scott said his part-time schedule of Sprint Cup races last season have prepared him for what lies ahead.
“I really liked being able to compete in races that were in the Chase,” he said. “Before that, I had done some (Cup racing) and the level is really elevated. I think I showed at Texas and Kansas, running in the Top-15 and racing into the Top-10 a good portion of the race -- really affirmed me in my ability. I think it opened the doors (and) ultimately led to having talks with Richard Petty Motorsports and being able to put this deal together.”

Scott also addressed previous on-track disagreements with his new RPM teammate, Aric Almirola, saying, “It’s no secret that Aric and I have had run-ins in the past in the XFINITY Series, but it really is ancient history. I feel like we put a lot of that behind us a while back. We work out at the same place with different trainers in the same buildings (and) we saw each other a lot when we had our differences.  It was a week before the July Daytona race last year that we kind of pulled each other aside in the corner of the workout room and kind of hashed it out. 

“We said, ‘How are we going to deal with this and what are we going to do, going forward?’ I think a lot of Aric Almirola, his ability in a race car, what he’s done for the 43 and what he’s done for Richard Petty Motorsports in building this team and improving performance year in and year out. I look forward to working with him. We’ve already had conversations (and) we’re excited to be teammates.  We’re excited to work together and learn from each other.”

Thursday, December 10, 2015

JTG Daugherty Racing Adds Cope, Burnett

Ernie Cope
JTG Daugherty Racing made it official today, announcing the addition of Ernie Cope as Director of Competition and Randall Burnett as Crew Chief of the No. 47 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series entry driven by AJ Allmendinger.

“With both Randall and Ernie coming on board, it gives us more than anything new ideas,” Allmendinger said. “Ernie has a ton of experience when it comes to this role from all the years he was at Harvick’s shop and with the RCR (Richard Childress Racing) alliance. That’s going to help us immediately with having an even better relationship with RCR. Then what I really like about Randall is that, even though he hasn’t been a crew chief, he’s done every role you can ask for  - - whether it’s as a driver (Late Model), car chief, engineer, test team or building race cars. I think we are going to speak the same language pretty quickly.  I know his knowledge is going to help us. I really look forward to getting the year kicked off and seeing where we are at as a team.”

Cope returns home to JTG Daugherty Racing, transitioning from JR Motorsports where he was crew chief for 2014 NASCAR Xfinity Series champion Chase Elliott. In 2015, Elliott collected one win, 11 top-five and 27 top-10 finishes and finished runner-up in the championship standings with Cope at the helm.

“I worked for JTG Daugherty Racing years ago and when I left, Tad (Geschickter) and I stayed in close contact because we knew we would eventually end up back together when the time was right,” Cope said. “In between there, it worked out good because I got a lot of experience with big teams, won a lot of races and learned things that will help us here. I see the atmosphere that Tad has built and I wanted to be a part of that. We’ve got a good group of people and I think if we put the whole package together for AJ, he will go out there and compete on a weekly basis. I honestly think he is a top top-10 driver.”

Before Cope’s time at JR Motorsports, his journey included six seasons working with Kevin Harvick Inc. (KHI) and Richard Childress Racing (RCR). He racked up nine victories in the NASCAR Xfinity Series (NXS), including eight with Harvick. During his tenure at KHI in the NXS, he also led teams to 79 top-five and 120 top-10 finishes. Over 13 seasons, Cope earned 15 victories in the NXS and nine in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series.

During his time at JTG Daugherty Racing, Cope was a crew chief with drivers Stacy Compton and Marcos Ambrose in 2006 and 2007. Before that, he was a driver himself competing in the NASCAR Southwest Series, NASCAR K&N Pro Series West (two wins), NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and he also made an appearance in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.   Now, the Tacoma, Washington-native will be responsible for base product development and all car production-based operations.

“As the competition director, I’ll oversee the car development and production process, look after the budget and make sure we have everything we need in the right areas and get the most out of what we have,” Cope said. “I’ll make sure our new crew chief, Randall, has exactly what he needs to be competitive. It’s going to be his first shot at being a crew chief and he’s the right guy for the position. I feel 100% in my heart that he is going to succeed and I’m going to help him succeed.”

Burnett was hand selected by Allmendinger and JTG Daugherty Racing team officials to lead the team as they vie for a coveted spot in the 2016 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Chase for the championship.

“This came together quickly,” Burnett said. “When I met with AJ and Tad, we just hit it off and I’ve always wanted to help a team grow into something bigger. There are a lot of good people here and some of which I’ve worked with before. I know the quality of work they do and the level they hold themselves to bringing a lot of good things to the company. Also, working with AJ is going to be exciting for me. We kind of grew up with the same background. AJ obviously has a tremendous amount of talent and is very passionate and very vocal about his passion.”

Burnett has been a racer all his life whether it was building and racing his own cars on a local level or holding a leadership role as a team lead engineer in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. He joins JTG Daugherty Racing after a 10-year stint at Chip Ganassi Racing.

During his early years at Chip Ganassi Racing, he was a 7-post analysis engineer, a lead test team engineer and a data acquisition engineer. In 2010, during his first year as team lead race engineer for the No. 1 car, Burnett visited Victory Lane three times with driver Jamie McMurray, with big wins in two “crown jewel” races - the Daytona 500 and the Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. That same year McMurray won four pole awards, posted nine top-five and 12 top-10 finishes with Burnett as lead race engineer.

In 2013, the Fenton, Missouri-native  moved to the No. 42 team to become the lead engineer for Juan Pablo Montoya, who posted four top-five and eight top-10s that season in the No. 42 car. Montoya came close to victory a few times that year producing his best result of second-place at Dover International Speedway.

2014 was a big year for Burnett as rookie Kyle Larson landed the No. 42 ride. With an inexperienced NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver, Burnett helped the team earn eight top-five finishes and 17 top-10 finishes and came close to victory several times. Larson had runner-up finishes at both Auto Club Speedway and New Hampshire Motor Speedway and also scored a pole award at both Richmond International Raceway (4/26/14) and Pocono Raceway (8/3/14) along the way. For their efforts, Larson earned the 2014 Sunoco Rookie of the Year honors.  Burnett continued his work with Larson throughout 2015.

Burnett received a mechanical engineering degree from UNC Charlotte. His engineering skills, leadership abilities, knowledge and experience from inside a race car and atop the pit box make him a great fit at JTG Daugherty Racing as the team looks to achieve their performance goals moving into 2016 and beyond.

“The people that come to JTG Daugherty Racing stay here,” Burnett said. “That’s attributed to how Tad and Jodi (Geschickter) treat their people and run their operation. They will add a few more quality people in addition to the great people they have in place to help take this place to the next level and be successful for our brands.”

Buescher To Sprint Cup With Front Row Motorsports

Roush Fenway Racing has announced an enhanced technical alliance with Front Row Motorsports, with the championship organization now providing engineering, equipment and driver support to Front Row in 2016.  

As a key part of the alliance, 2016 NASCAR XFINITY Series Champion and Roush Fenway driver Chris Buescher will drive the No. 34 Front Row Ford Fusion in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series during the 2016 season, with the team receiving full engineering and pit support from Roush Fenway.  
“We are thrilled to announce this alliance,” said Roush Fenway President Steve Newmark.  “Not only will it foster increased communication within the Ford camp, it will allow our newest champion Chris Buescher to continue to hone his skills with substantial seat time behind the wheel in the Sprint Cup Series in top-grade equipment.  
“We look forward to working more closely with Front Row on many levels and we believe it is a relationship that will be mutually beneficial for both parties,” added Newmark. 
Buescher, in only his second season of full-time NASCAR racing in 2015, powered his way to the XFINITY Championship and added to his list of accomplishments that already included becoming the youngest driver to ever win an ARCA title in 2012. Buescher scored his first NASCAR win last season at Mid-Ohio and followed up his rookie-year performance with wins at Iowa and Dover this season en route to the championship.
Buescher never ranked lower than third in the driver championship standings, and the Prosper, Texas native completed the season with zero DNFs. He finished inside of the top-20 in all of the 33 races on the season, completing 99.9 percent of the laps during the 2015 campaign, while leading a total of 263 laps. 
“We’ve grown a lot and accomplished a lot as an organization in our six years of full-time Sprint Cup racing, and I’m proud of our progress,” Front Row Motorsports owner Bob Jenkins said. “We’re ready for the next step, and this partnership with Roush Fenway Racing is going to take us there. Chris Buescher is a champion, and he’s a driver that we’ve worked with already and have great respect for, so he’s the perfect guy to bring into our line-up.”
Plans for Front Row Motorsports’ second Sprint Cup Series entry will be announced at a later date.

Thursday, December 03, 2015

Darlington Earns 2015 NMPA Myers Brothers Award

Darlington Raceway moved forward by going back in 2015.

NASCAR’s first paved superspeedway paid homage to stock car racing’s past when it launched a “throwback” campaign for this year’s Bojangles’ Southern 500, and the move proved to be one of the most talked about, most popular events of the year. So much so that the program has earned the track the National Motorsports Press Association’s 2015 Myers Brothers Award.

The award was presented Thursday during the annual NASCAR NMPA Myers Brothers 2015 Awards Luncheon at the Wynn Las Vegas.

Given annually by the NMPA, the Myers Brothers Award is named in honor of former NASCAR competitors Billy and Bobby Myers. Its’ purpose is to recognize individuals and/or groups who have provided outstanding contributions to the sport of stock car racing.

Others receiving votes for this year’s award were four-time series champion Jeff Gordon and 2015 Sprint Cup champion Kyle Busch.

Darlington Raceway has hosted one or more NASCAR premier series events since 1950. The Southern 500, which returned to its long-held Labor Day weekend date this past season, is considered one of the series’ “crown jewel” events.

More than 30 cars in this year’s 43-car field featured throwback schemes, honoring everything from long-time sponsors to drivers and popular paint schemes from the early 1970s. Several teams got in the act by wearing crew uniforms similar to those worn at the time; concession stand fare included items that were offered at the time and tickets in some sections were even priced similar to that specific time period.

Track President Chip Wile said at the time that the throwback program is “a five-year platform; this isn’t a one-year deal. 

“We felt like if we could get eight or 10 teams on board to really showcase what we’re trying to accomplish, we felt like in 2016 we could get more, in 2017 we would get more and so on,” he said. “But the response that we’ve gotten from everyone in the industry has been incredible. It was a fully integrated plan that made our event something special for the fans.”

Myers Brothers Award Winners: 2015, Darlington Raceway; 2014, Dale Earnhardt Jr.; 2013, Tony Stewart; 2012, Jeff Gordon; 2011, Drs. Joseph & Rose Mattioli; 2010, Jim Hunter; 2009, Barney Hall; 2008, T. Taylor Warren; 2007, Bill France Jr.; 2006, Benny Parsons; 2005, Rusty Wallace; 2004, Kyle and Patti Petty;  2003, R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co.; 2002, Mike Helton; 2001, Dale Earnhardt; 2000, Kyle Petty; 1999, Junie Donlavey; 1998, T. Wayne Robertson; 1997, R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co.; 1996, Rick Hendrick; 1995, TNN: The Nashville Network; 1994, Brickyard 400/Indianapolis Motor Speedway; 1993, Goody’s Manufacturing Co.; 1992, Richard and Lynda Petty; 1991, Harry Gant; 1990; Dick Beaty; 1989, Bill France Jr.; 1988 Richmond International Raceway; 1987, ESPN; 1986, Hayride 500; 1985, R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co.; 1984, Charlotte Motor Speedway; 1983, CBS-TV; 1982, MRN; 1981, Junior Johnson; 1980, STP & Champion Spark Plug Co.; 1979, R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co.; 1978, Busch Beer; 1977, First National City Travelers Checks; 1976, Junior Johnson; 1975, Bill France Sr.; 1974, H. Clay Earles; 1973, Wood Brothers; 1972, Winston Cigarettes; 1971, Richard Petty; 1970, Richard Howard;  1969, David Pearson; 1968, Wood Brothers; 1967, Richard Petty; 1966, Norris Friel; 1965, Ned Jarrett; 1964, Richard Petty; 1963, Marvin Panch; 1962, Hank Schoolfield; 1961, Ned Jarrett; 1960, Russ Catlin; 1959, Lee Petty; 1958, Bob Colvin.

Martinsville's Clay Campbell Honored With Buddy Shuman Award

Martinsville Speedway President Clay Campbell was honored today as the 2015 NASCAR Buddy Shuman Award recipient at the annual NMPA Myers Brothers Awards Luncheon in Las Vegas.  

The award was established in 1957 and named for racing pioneer Buddy Shuman. The Buddy Shuman Award is given to annually to recognize individuals and organizations that have played vital roles in the growth of professional stock car racing. Past recipients have included Bill France Sr., Richard Petty, Ken Squier, and Rick Hendrick. 
“All I can say is I am quite honored to be among the list of recipients of this award,” Campbell said. “When I was young I remember seeing the passion people like my grandfather (Martinsville Speedway Founder H. Clay Earles), Bill France Sr. and Richard Petty had for our sport. I got a lot of my passion for NASCAR from them and I just hope that I have been able to share it with others.”  
Starting at a young age, Campbell could often be found at the speedway following in his grandfather’s footsteps. When he graduated high school he started working full-time at the track and was named track president in 1988. 
Martinsville Speedway was founded in 1947 and is the only remaining track from NASCAR’s original schedule.  
“Nearly 70 years since its founding, Martinsville remains a cornerstone of Cup racing, an impressive feat that is largely due to Clay Campbell's visionary leadership and relentless focus on the fan experience," said Michael Proud, director of marketing, North America, Federal-Mogul Motorparts, the award sponsor. "We are proud to celebrate his significant contributions to our sport through this prestigious award.” 
NASCAR returns to Martinsville Speedway April 1-3, 2016 for the STP 500 race weekend, beginning on Friday, April 1, with Virginia Lottery Pole Day and the Camping World Truck Series will return on April 2. The STP 500 is on April 3.

The race will mark the first short-track on the schedule and is the first race back on the east coast after the “west-coast” swing. Tickets are on sale now and can be purchased by calling 877.RACE.TIX or online at

Richmond, Hensley Joins GMS Racing

Marcus Richmond
GMS Racing has announced the addition of crew chiefs Marcus Richmond and Jeff Hensley for the 2016 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series season, bolstering the previously announced signing of NCWTS driver Johnny Sauter to the Statesville, N.C.-based organization.

Richmond will serve as crew chief for Sauter, while Hensley will help with the development of Spencer Gallagher in his second full-time NCWTS season. Gallagher’s former crew chief, Jeff Stankiewicz, will return to GMS Racing as crew chief for Grant Enfinger, who will pilot a third GMS Racing Truck Series entry.

“I can’t explain how excited I am for the 2016 season and to get to work with Johnny Sauter and the rest of the GMS Racing team,” said Richmond, who joins GMS Racing after spending the previous two seasons at Red Horse Racing as crew chief for Timothy Peters. “This is a strong organization that has the ability to compete for a title. I look forward to working with Jeff Hensley and Jeff Stankiewicz and building off of the experience we all have. We have three drivers that will be able to learn a lot from each other and contribute to the overall success of GMS Racing.”

Hensley’s crew chief experience spans 12 seasons and 283 races, 13 of which resulted in victories. He most recently served as crew chief at ThorSport Racing with Sauter and Cameron Hayley. The Ridgeway, Va., native also spent 15 years as crew chief in the NASCAR XFINITY Series (427 races, 11 wins) following a four-year driving career.

Jeff Hensley
“The chance to come aboard at GMS Racing is a great opportunity for me in 2016. I’ve been fortunate to work with a lot of great drivers and teams in this series, and to be a part of GMS Racing’s growth is exciting. I’m looking forward to working with Spencer,” says Hensley. “He’s a kid with raw speed, and with a year under his belt, I think we can contend for race wins next season and make him a weekly contender. We have the tools here at GMS Racing to put a successful season together and be a contending team on a weekly basis.”

The ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards championship duo from 2015 will be kept intact , as Stankiewicz and Enfinger elevate their partnership to the next level.

“GMS Racing has put together a great lineup for 2016,” said Stankiewicz. “I’m happy that Grant Enfinger will have the opportunity to show his talent in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. He’s incredibly focused and such a hard worker, and having teammates that can provide guidance and support will help him develop into an even better driver. With Johnny Sauter joining the team, he knows what it takes to win and will contribute a great deal to the development of our program. We had a solid 2015 with strong finishes, a couple of pole awards and a win. It’s time for us to build on that and we’ll be able to do so with the help of Marcus (Richmond) and Jeff (Hensley).”

Wednesday, December 02, 2015

Miller Confirmed As New NASCAR Senior VP

NASCAR announced today that Scott Miller has joined the organization as Senior Vice President of Competition, responsible for managing all competition efforts related to technology, inspection, rule development and officiating across NASCAR’s wide portfolio of racing.  
Miller will report directly to Executive Vice President and Chief Racing Development Officer Steve O’Donnell, and work closely with Senior Vice President of Innovation and Racing Development Gene Stefanyshyn. All three are based at NASCAR’s Research & Development Center in Concord, N.C.  
Miller most recently served as Executive Vice President of Competition at Michael Waltrip Racing. There he was responsible for managing all areas of competition. During his four-year tenure, MWR teams qualified for the Chase for the Sprint Cup in 2012, 2013, and 2015.  
“We’re pleased to have Scott, an executive with a wide range of racing experience, join our team,” O’Donnell said. “He will be an immediate asset to NASCAR, our teams and each of our national series. Scott has worked in a collaborative spirit throughout his career, and represents the forward-looking approach we celebrate within our competition team.”  
A respected leader within the garage area, Miller has more than two decades of NASCAR experience. Prior to his stint at MWR, he served in competition leadership roles at Richard Childress Racing. There he also helped lead teams into The Chase as both a crew chief and while serving as the Vice President of Competition. As a crew chief, Miller enjoyed his most successful season in 2008 when he called veteran Jeff Burton to two wins, seven top-five and 18 top-10 finishes en route to a sixth-place championship points finish. In all, the Bardstown, Ky., native has six NASCAR Sprint Cup Series wins as a crew chief.  
“I’m looking forward to using the experience I’ve gained working within teams in an entirely new way at NASCAR,” Miller said. “Our sport has evolved quickly over the last several seasons through advanced technology and its creative application in the garage area. We will strive to continue this forward momentum while assuring a level playing field and competitive racing. It’s a challenging opportunity and a logical next step for me. I can’t wait to get started.”  
Prior to his focus on the mechanical side of motorsports, Miller got his start as a motorcycle racer, eventually advancing to the national level in AMA Motocross. He made the transition to race cars in 1981 and was competing in NASCAR shortly after. In 1983, he was an owner/driver in the NASCAR Winston West Series. He spent five seasons in IndyCar where he worked as a chief mechanic before joining Tri-Star Motorsports in 1995, competing weekly on the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series circuit. 

Tuesday, December 01, 2015

Quicken Loans To Back Kahne In 2016

Quicken Loans has announced that it will join Hendrick Motorsports in 2016, serving as a three-race primary sponsor of the No. 5 Quicken Loans Chevrolet SS driven by Kasey Kahne in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. The company will be an associate sponsor for all remaining races.
“We are excited to be joining forces with the talented team at Hendrick Motorsports,” said Jay Farner, President and Chief Marketing Officer of Quicken Loans. “The organization has an undeniable record of winning and performance on the racetrack, and represents some of the preeminent brands in the country, who we look forward to working alongside.”
One of Quicken Loans’ primary sponsorship races will include a joint promotion with Hendrick Automotive Group, the largest privately held operator of auto dealerships in the United States.
Kasey Kahne
“It’s evident from meeting the Quicken Loans team that both of our organizations share a passion for competition,” said Rick Hendrick, Owner of Hendrick Motorsports and Chairman of Hendrick Automotive Group. “Quicken Loans has a reputation for exceptional client service, something we take to heart across all of our own businesses. We look forward to working together to achieve great things in 2016.”
 “Having an engaging and supportive brand like Quicken Loans backing the No. 5 Chevy gives us even more reason to think 2016 will be a great year for our team,” said Kahne, a 17-time winner in NASCAR’s top division. “Quicken Loans has made a big name for itself in our sport, in its industry and certainly in the Motor City. Good partners are important to succeed in racing, and we’re thrilled about building this new relationship with Quicken Loans.”
Quicken Loans’ move to Hendrick Motorsports comes after serving as a primary sponsor of the No. 31 Chevrolet and driver Ryan Newman for two seasons at Richard Childress Racing, as well as the two years prior at Stewart-Haas Racing.
“Ryan has been a terrific ambassador for our company and helped us to take our first steps into NASCAR,” added Farner. “He and Richard Childress Racing have helped us accomplish tremendous things during our time together, and we’re proud to have been a part of their team. We are grateful for their guidance and support and we look forward to competing alongside them next year.”

NASCAR's Pemberton To Step Down At Year's End, Miller To Become New Sr. VP of Competition

Robin Pemberton
NASCAR announced today that Senior Vice President of Competition Robin Pemberton will leave the organization at the end of 2015.
Though no announcement of a successor has been made, multiple sources say former Michael Waltrip Racing Executive Vice President of Competition Scott Miller will replace Pemberton.
With a racing career that has spanned five decades, Pemberton joined the sanctioning body in August of 2004. Since then, he has overseen all areas of NASCAR competition and been credited as a key component in bridging the gap between the sanctioning body and the racing community. 
“Robin has left an indelible mark on the sport while at NASCAR,” said NASCAR Vice Chairman Mike Helton. “He joined us at a critical time and very quickly gave our highly visible competition group the credibility and confidence it needed to be successful with the industry. He traded a successful career as a competitor to help lead the sport for 12 seasons. We’re extremely grateful for his many contributions.” 
Scott Miller
During Pemberton’s tenure, NASCAR has seen a great number of technical and safety advancements. Against the backdrop of the massive NASCAR Research & Development Center, Pemberton’s Competition team overhauled the inspection and rules process and procedures for all vehicles racing in the national series. He oversaw the transitions of NASCAR to Electronic Fuel Injection (EFI) and to race fuels with blended Sunoco E15.  
Among the largest undertakings under his purview was the launch of the acclaimed Generation 6 style car in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in 2013. That style just completed its third season of on-track racing. 
“I’m proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish during my time at NASCAR,” Pemberton said. “This sport has been my entire professional career and working with all the competitors and the auto manufacturers for the last 12 seasons has been a thrill. I feel good knowing that the work this team has done has had a positive impact on the sport. 
“I look forward to the next challenge.” 
Pemberton will help in the transition to a new competition lead for the balance of the year.