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Development Journalists

Highlights of Brian France’s Reign

By Stephanie Adair – Last week marked the ten year anniversary of Brian France serving as Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer of NASCAR. Being a third generation NASCAR Executive has allowed him to continue the legacy of his father and grandfather. During his tenure, we have seen many initiatives and innovations brought to the sport.

Here are five major advancements:

Diversity Program
In 2004, NASCAR launched a diversity initiative “to engage women and people of diverse, ethnic and racial backgrounds in all facets of the NASCAR industry”. Out of this effort has come their driver development program targeting young female and minority drivers ages 16 through 25. Every year over 200 applications are submitted, but after a lengthy evaluation period only six to ten drivers are chosen to compete for Revolution Racing in the K&N Pro Series or Whelen All-American Series.

NASCAR waFraThere is also a pit crew development program as well as an internship program. The internship program helps women and minorities find jobs in NASCAR broadcasting, communications, engineering, marketing, sales, technology and more.

The Chase
In January 2004, the Chase for the Nextel (Sprint) Cup Series was announced. NASCAR never had anything like it, and the fans did not know what to expect. Formats have changed over its ten season history, with the most recent being the addition of the Wildcard positions. Despite tweaks and Jimmie Johnson winning five consecutive championships from 2006 to 2010, there has been some great racing. In 2011, the championship came down to a showdown between Carl Edwards and two-time Cup champion Tony Stewart.

No one knew who would be crowned the champion until the checkered flag flew at Homestead Miami Speedway. In the end Stewart won on a tiebreaker and claimed his third NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship. In 2012 at Texas Motor Speedway, championship contenders Brad Keselowski and Jimmie Johnson battled intensely through the final laps. They bumped, banged, and slid giving everything they could to win the race and gain a few more points. Johnson won the race, but ultimately Keselowski won the championship.

NASCAR Green
Launched in 2008, NASCAR’s Green program leads all other sports in green initiatives. They lead in recycling and renewable energy as well. The tree planting program captures 100% of emissions produced in their races which is a huge undertaking. A few years ago, Sunoco partnered with the American Ethanol industry and produced Sunoco Green E15 fuel. It is a renewable fuel blended with 15% American-made ethanol. Being the Official Fuel of NASCAR, it is run in all three of NASCAR’s premier series.

Safety Innovations
Over the last decade NASCAR has continued to advance the safety of their sport. In 2005, SAFER barriers were installed to all NASCAR Sprint Cup oval tracks. They have also made it mandatory for all drivers to wear a HANS device and a five or six point harness seat belt. In 2007, the “Car of Tomorrow” was implemented. The idea was sparked by Dale Earnhardt Sr.’s tragic death on the last lap of the 2001 Daytona 500. The COT had many new safety innovations, like foam in the doors, steel bars on the driver’s side of the car, and a thicker fuel cell.

Looking back at all the major wrecks that have happened over the last five years, the COT very well may have save many driver’s lives. The one drawback on the COT was that it stepped away from manufacturer identity and was more uniform. This is one of the reasons the “Gen 6” car was implemented this year. Since NASCAR strives to improve the safety of their car, the Gen 6 was actually safer and made the manufacturer identity more prominent.

NASCAR Hall of Fame
In 2010 the NASCAR Hall of Fame was opened. It serves not only as a place to honor NASCAR’s best, but also provides an opportunity to learn more about their career and how they affected the sport. To date, they have inducted five sets of five classes, which includes drivers, crew chiefs, team owners, or someone who has contributed in the sport. Some of these inductees include Dale Earnhardt Sr., Richard Petty, Bill France Sr., Darrell Waltrip, “Fireball” Roberts, Junior Johnson, and Dale Inman.

This is quite an impressive NASCAR legacy and it will be interesting to see what happens in the next decade.

Stephanie Adair is a Popular Speed Development Journalist.

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Development Journalists

No. 3: Retirement or Resurrection?

By Stephanie Adair – Recently there has been a picture circling around the Internet. It is of a yellow and black Gen 6 racecar with the legendary No. 3, synonymous with seven-time NASCAR Sprint Cup champion Dale Earnhardt Sr., on the side of its door. The last name “Dillon” is written across the top of the windshield. Anyone who has followed the up-and-coming driver Austin Dillon, suspected this might be coming.

He has steadily been climbing the NASCAR ranks, starting full time with the Camping World Truck Series in 2010. He drove the No. 3, which is owned by his grandfather and team owner Richard Childress. In 2011, Austin Dillon won the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series championship. The No. 3 moved with the 23 year old to the Nationwide Series last year. This season, he is second in the championship standings, 17 points behind point leader Sam Hornish Jr.

In 2014, there is the possibility the No. 3 may return to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series for the first time since Earnhardt Sr.’s tragic passing on the last lap of the 2001 Daytona 500. Is this the right thing to do? Should Dillon drive Earnhardt Sr.’s No. 3 in the Sprint Cup Series?

Every fan has their own opinion on this. Some think it will be great to see the number back on the track and others think it should be retired. Earnhardt Sr.’s passing rocked the world of NASCAR. What would be most respectful to the late NASCAR legend?

Some feel that Earnhardt Sr. would have wanted his number to be driven and that it would be a way to honor him. Earnhardt Sr.’s son, Dale Earnhardt Jr. made it clear years ago that he is not interested in driving his father’s car number in the Sprint Cup Series. Since Childress has rights to the number, who would be better to put in the car than his grandson?

Others think that it would be more respectful to Earnhardt, Sr. to retire the No. 3. He is the second NASCAR champion to die from a racing related injury while competing in the Sprint Cup Series. The first was Joe Weatherly in 1964 at Riverside International Raceway. Weatherly drove the No. 8 car, which is not retired. If Earnhardt Sr.’s car number were to be retired, wouldn’t it be proper respect to retire Weatherly’s as well?

There are strong feelings on both sides. Either way, fans just want to remember and honor Dale Earnhardt Sr.

Stephanie Adair is a Popular Speed Development Journalist.

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Development Journalists

Chase Drivers Under Pressure to Win at Chicagoland

By Stephanie Adair – This has been a difficult week in NASCAR with all the controversy, but the good news is that the 2013 Chase for the Sprint Cup is finally here. The first race will take place at Chicagoland Speedway this weekend. How each of the Chase contenders compete at the Joliet, Illinois track will give us a glimpse of who we may see battling for the trophy at Homestead Miami Speedway. It will be an important race and one that sets the tone as we go forward over the next few weeks. With that being said, here are some stats about the track and previous race outcomes for some of the contenders.

  • Chicagoland Speedway is a 1.5 mile intermediate track

  • Banking on the turns are angled at 18°

  • Last year’s winner was reigning Sprint Cup champion Brad Keselowski

  • Joey Logano broke the track qualifying record this Friday at 189.414mph.

  • Most track cautions is ten in 2005.

  • The winner of this race for the last two years has gone on to win the championship (Stewart in 2011, Keselowski in 2012).

  • Six of the 12 races ran at Chicagoland have been won by current Chase drivers. (Kevin Harvick – 2, Kyle Busch – 1, Dale Earnhardt Jr. – 1, Jeff Gordon – 1, and Ryan Newman – 1,)

Here are some Chase contenders with interesting stats at this track.

Jimmie Johnson
Johnson has been known to be good in Chase races and that includes Chicagoland. In 11 starts, he has the best average finish at 9.3. He also has scored nine top 10s, which is 81.8% of the time. With stats like that, you wouldn’t expect Johnson to not have wins there. Could this the race where he turns his current bad luck around and clinch a first win at this track?

Clint Bowyer
No matter how you feel about the latest controversy involving Bowyer, he tends to run very well at this track. His average finish is the second best at 10.1. In his seven starts, he has finished in the top 10 six times. That’s 85.7% of the time. Despite this, Bowyer remains winless at this track.

Kevin Harvick
In 12 starts, Harvick has claimed two victories at this track. He also has an average finish of 10.5 and six top 5s. Watch for Harvick to be a dark horse during Sunday’s race. He may strike at the right time and get his third win of the season.

Ryan Newman
Newman’s stats caught my eye. Compared to the drivers previously highlighted they are not stellar, but still good. In 11 starts, Newman has one victory at this track. He also has placed in the top 10 seven times. That’s 63.6% of the time. With Newman getting a spot in the Chase amidst controversy, he will be all the more motivated to push for another win.

We may have had an exhausting week of news, but what we have all been waiting for is finally here. We are more ready than ever. This year’s Chase field is full of talented competitors and I can’t wait to see who is holding up the trophy at the end.

It all starts here at Chicagoland…

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Trucks

Crafton the Man to Beat

By Stephanie Adair – Matt Crafton has led the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series point standings for a majority of this year. His stats have been stellar with one win, five top 5s and no DNFs. In all of the 14 races this season, he has finished in the top 10 every single time. With nine more races to go, he is currently sitting 47 points ahead of second place James Buescher. Can anyone beat Crafton this season?

The NCWTS drivers seeded from second to fifth are currently sitting within 21 points of each other. This group includes James Buescher (-47), Ty Dillon (-63), Jeb Burton (-65) and Miguel Paludo (-68). Many of them have at least one win and several top 10 finishes this season.

Despite those statistics, none of them have been as consistent as Crafton. Additionally, each one of these drivers have at least two finishes outside the top 15 with two having one DNF. Based on these current stats and continued consistency, Crafton could secure his and ThorSport Racing’s first championship.

In the 18 years this race team has fielded cars, their highest finishing position was second with Crafton in 2009. This is shaping up to be the breakout year for both the team and their driver.

In the homestretch of the 2013 season, should Crafton and ThorSport Racing feel relaxed with their lofty points lead? Not exactly. As we have seen in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series this year, a point lead can be dissolved in a matter of a few races. Five-time Cup champion Jimmie Johnson had dominated the series standings all season long.

Four races ago, after Watkins Glen, he led the standings by 75 points. After a small streak of bad luck, his point standings lead has dwindled down to only 28 points. A big lead like Crafton’s could be spent in only one bad finish.

The 13-year NASCAR Camping World Truck Series veteran and his team will have to stay on their toes. When a team runs exceedingly well, they are usually prone to a “slump”, like we have seen with Johnson. If Crafton has a slump then James Buescher, Ty Dillon, Jeb Burton, and Miguel Paludo will be ready to take advantage of it. In the upcoming races, the current point leader will need to balance caution and aggression. If Crafton does this and continues to run well, we might be seeing his name engraved on the trophy at the end of the season.

Stephanie Adair is a Popular Speed Development Journalist. 

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Development Journalists

RCR Pit Crews Working for Food

By Stephanie Adair – Watching a pit crew service their car during pit stops is fascinating. The crew works quickly to get tires, fuel and any adjustments needed done. This usually happens under 14 seconds because they work to get their car out before the other teams. However, the pit crews for Richard Childress Racing are working towards an additional goal. While the clock is ticking on pit road, they are raising money for the Second Harvest Food Bank of Northwest NC.

The rear-tire carrier for the No. 27 Sprint Cup team, Ray Wright, recently started the program “Pit Stops for Poverty.” Partnering with Second Harvest Food Bank of Northwest NC, their goal is to help defeat childhood hunger throughout the state. They believe that in a country as prosperous as America, no child should ever go hungry.

Hunger for families, children and seniors is becoming a major problem in America. The national food insecurity rate is now 16.4%, which equates to about 50 million people. The child food insecurity rate is even higher, at 22.4%. Every state deals with this hidden reality. Specifically, in Northwest NC, one in six citizens face hunger. This is the main reason that the Second Harvest Food Bank of Northwest NC and Pit Stops for Poverty want to do something about it.

Every driver in the RCR organization participates in this program. Some give a donation for every position their team gains on pit road while others give when their team makes an 11, 12 or 13 second pit stop.

The fans have two ways that they can participate in supporting this cause.  You can either donate the same way the RCR organization does or pledge $50 dollars if your favorite RCR driver wins. Additionally, there is donated used pit stop gear available for purchase. The Second Harvest Food Bank of Northwest NC will receive 100% of the proceeds, which serves approximately 355,000 people in 18 counties. Every dollar given provides seven meals.

These pit crew members care about their team performance, but they also care deeply about raising money for a great cause. In an interview with NASCAR Race Hub, Ray Wright said “Seeing the guys when we get on the plane after the race saying ‘How much money did these 11 second stops get us?’ … You know that person on the pit crew better because you begin to see their heart.”

The guys you see performing on pit road week after week might look tough but they have big hearts. Together, they are teaming up to make a difference.

If you want to learn more about this program, you can visit their website at:

www.pitstopsforpoverty.com

You can also follow them on Twitter and Facebook:

Twitter: @stops4poverty

Facebook: Pit Stops for Poverty

Stephanie Adair is a Popular Speed Development Journalist.

 

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Development Journalists

Michigan Advantage to Hornish

By Stephanie Adair – With 11 races to go, NASCAR Nationwide Series driver Sam Hornish Jr., is in a great position to win his first series championship. He currently sits second, just three points behind standings leader Austin Dillon.

Much like last year, Hornish has had a great season, but this year may prove to be his best yet. He has already led 420 laps, almost 300 more than his previous best of 134. He is also close to breaking his record for most top 5s and top 10s. Hornish and the No. 12 Penske Racing team are showing they are a real threat for the championship. Could this be their year to win it all?

Hornish certainly has an invaluable advantage against his current first place opponent; seven years of experience, which gives him a broad knowledge base that Dillon doesn’t have in just his second year. There are three other drivers in the top five that would have this same advantage as well: Regan Smith, Elliott Sadler, and Brian Vickers. With 18 points separating them from the lead, this keeps pressure on Hornish.

Clinching another win is what Hornish needs to do now. With only one victory this year at Las Vegas and five second place finishes, he has been there to challenge for the checkered flag. Competing at his home track this weekend, Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course would be the ideal place for Hornish to capture his second victory of the season. While he has never raced at this track in the Nationwide Series; Hornish did race there in the IZOD IndyCar Series. In 2007 he competed in the Honda 200, finishing 14th. His road course stats in the NASCAR Nationwide Series have been stellar. In six road course race starts, Hornish has five top 5s that include two runner up finishes!

Hornish could very well get a win this Saturday and clinch the points lead, proving he is a true contender for the NASCAR Nationwide Series championship. Keep an eye on him because he might be the driver who is hoisting up the trophy in Homestead this year.

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Development Journalists Editorial

Has Tony Flipped Out?

By Stephanie Adair – The NASCAR community woke up Tuesday morning to find a shocking news story. Three-time Sprint Cup champion Tony Stewart broke his right leg in two places (tibia and fibula) following a 360-winged sprint car crash late Monday night in Iowa. Now that this news has settled in, let’s look at the weeks leading up to the event. Stewart was previously involved in two other sprint car crashes, approximately a week apart, that involved five flips. After the second crash occurred, concern was sparked among fans and media.

Weighing in on the publicly voiced concerns, the multi-series champion explained to the media that the wreck where he flipped was normal for sprint car racing and not a big deal. That statement is actually true. It is very normal for sprint cars to flip multiple times and there have been far worse crashes in those types of racecars. With this third crash, that injured him, some people think that Tony Stewart should give dirt racing up. Would he? Should he? Those two questions are somewhat interconnected.

Here are my thoughts.

Stewart is truly a driven racer whether competing on asphalt or dirt tracks. He worked his way up through the ranks in dirt racing. He still has a passion for it just as much as he does for competing in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. By participating, he has helped sell out dirt events like World of Outlaws Series legends Sammy Swindell, Steve Kinser and Donny Schatz have done – which can help a tracks bottom line. In doing this, he gives back to the type of racing that helped him get to where he is now.

He isn’t the only driver who feels this way either. Kyle Larson, a talented NASCAR Nationwide Series rookie, finished second in Monday night’s event and shares the same passion that Stewart does. This is a true illustration of the love for this type of racing that spans from the veterans to the rookies.

Telling dirt racers to not dirt race is like telling a runner not to run or a surfer not to surf. It’s what they love to do and it’s how they are wired. Think about this, we love watching NASCAR. We gravitate to it. We live it. We breathe it. Every off-season, we all groan about how much we miss our sport and count down the days until Speedweeks at Daytona. That is what it is like for these racers too.

Now there is a point when enough is enough. Something can become too dangerous and too much of a risk that you make a decision to stop, even though it’s your passion. This point is different for everyone, especially for an athlete. Bottom line, Tony Stewart loves all forms of racing, and I don’t think that this broken leg is going to slow him down. He will probably continue to accept the risk that comes with all of the types of racing he participates in.

Now let’s get to the story inside the story: the safety of dirt cars, in particular, Sprint Cars. This discussion was in the spotlight about two months ago when Jason Leffler tragically died from injuries sustained in an accident while racing this type of car. With both Leffler’s death and that of Sprint Car legend Kramer Williamson on Monday, there have been a total of seven drivers this year who died from sprint car related injuries. Could this bring about another look at the safety measures of the Sprint Car?

It very well might. The two deaths mentioned shocked the dirt racing community but this recent injury of Stewart’s has elevated this issue to a new level. Something could very well be done to improve Sprint Car safety and I wouldn’t be surprised if Stewart leads the march. It would be good if he did. His personal insight would be invaluable and the media coverage of his message might give this need a stronger voice.

All sprint car series’ now require roll cages, dirt shields, fire suits, gloves, full coverage helmets and head restraint nets on the right side. They do not require HANS devices, five or six point safety harness or full headrests. Also, most sprint cars run cars with “winged” and “non-winged.” Wings help absorb the impact of violent flips or crashes.

Maybe wings should be mandatory, along with HANS devices and headrests on both sides. There are probably some other things that should be done, things that only people very familiar with the car and racing series would be able to determine.

The people involved with this racing series who have already helped make sprint cars safer should be commended for their contributions. There is still more work to do and there is always room for improvement, the time to improve is now.

14-year-old Stephanie Adair is a development journalist for Popular Speed

 

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Tales of The Trickiest Track

Pocono Raceway has to be one of NASCAR most unique tracks, but how much do you really know about it? There is a 42 year history behind the “Tricky Triangle,” as well as a lot of interesting stats. Here is an analysis of the three-turn track.

The Track

The 2.5 mile Pocono Raceway is known for being triangle shaped, but there is more uniqueness to the three turns then you might think. Each one is modeled after another race track. Turn 1 was modeled after Trenton (New Jersey) Speedway and has 14 degrees of banking. Turn 2 was built to resemble Indianapolis (Indiana) Motor Speedway, and banks at 8 degrees. Turn 3 was made similar to the Milwaukee (Wisconsin) Mile, and has 6 degrees of banking. Pocono is like a combination of three completely different tracks, both in size and shape, mixed into one. The angle of each turn is sharp, but different than the other. Low banking and very long straightaways make this track even more of a challenge. Because of this odd design, drivers have to shift coming in and out of the corners all race long. Depending on their driving style, drivers either love or hate this Pennsylvania track.

Stats
Pocono opened in 1971. NASCAR ran on it for the first time in 1974, with Richard Petty winning the inaugural event. Here are 10 stats from Pocono since then.

  • Jeff Gordon holds the record for most wins all-time with six, but his teammate, Jimmie Johnson has the best average finish at 9.0.

  • Hendrick Motorsports holds the record for most wins for organization, at 14 Cup victories.

  • The track record was set by Joey Logano last summer with 179.598

  • Bill Elliott and Ken Schrader hold the record of most poles there at five each.

  • Denny Hamlin is the only driver to have his first Sprint Cup career victory come from Pocono Raceway.

  • In 1982 Bobby Allison was the first to sweep both spring and fall races at Pocono. He was later followed by Bill Elliott, Bobby Labonte, and Denny Hamlin.

  • In 1982-83, Bobby Allison became the first driver to win three consecutive Pocono races. A few years later, Tim Richmond did the same.

  • Mark Martin has placed 2nd seven times, which is a record, but has never gotten a win at Pocono.

  • The most cautions ever held in this race is 16, which happened in 1990 and 2005.

  • The first 5 winners at Pocono Raceway were already or would become series champions.

Solar Farm

Pocono has something else unique than just the three turns: a Solar Farm. It sits adjacent to the track, sprawling across 25 acres. Built in 2010, the three megawatt solar farm with almost 40,000 solar modules sustains the entire track’s energy needs. This makes Pocono the largest renewable-energy sports facility in the world, twice as big as the next largest. It also helps the local power grid by powering some of the homes near the area. Every year, they lower CO2 emissions by 2,370 metric tons with this project and have won many awards for their environmental efforts.

Although fans have complained at times about lackluster racing at Pocono, the track should be recognized for its uniqueness as well as the challenges it presents to drivers.

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Development Journalists

We’re More Than Just a Sport

NASCAR is a great sport. Chances are, if you’re reading this article, you think the same. It’s a unique sport, which is one of the many reasons why I love it. What is it that makes NASCAR so great? Here are my thoughts.

Competition

Competition has been closer than ever in NASCAR. So many aspects go into winning just one race. Yes, your car has to be performing well but so does the rest of your team. The driver has to have mental focus, know how to drive the track and be aware of everything that is going on around him/her. At the same time, the crew chief plays strategy all throughout the race. Should they take two tires or four? Can they conserve fuel allowing them to skip a pit stop? The driver and crew chief have to work well together as well as the pit crew. They can easily make or break your race day. All pit stops must be executed well to give you an advantage over the competition. The spotters have to be alert and on their game as well. You also have the factor of luck. These are just a few highlights of the many aspects of what makes a successful team, and no doubt, what it takes to win a race. It is much more than what it might seem. The complexity and toughness of competing in this sport makes success the accomplishment that it is.

Supporting the Troops

Most sports in America include the singing of the National Anthem before their event. No sport supports the troops like NASCAR does. In this sport, they run patriotic paint schemes on every patriotic holiday. They bring fans that have served or are currently serving in the military to the track. There are even races dedicated to them, the Coca-Cola 600. NASCAR makes sure that the troops receive the respect and thanks they deserve, which is commendable.

Green Initiative

NASCAR leads all other sports in their green initiative. Compared to others, they’re recycling and renewable energy program is the largest. In partnership with American farmers and Sunoco, they have created an All-American 15% ethanol fuel, which they use for every race. One of their tracks, Pocono Raceway, relies completely on solar power. In addition, they have teamed up with the Arbor Day Foundation and have located five areas in need of reforestation. Fans can make a contribution to this program as well. NASCAR is five years into this initiative and they have already gone above and beyond in their effort to help keep the environment healthy and clean. That is something to be proud of.

The Many Twists and Turns

You never know what is going to happen when the race begins or who is going to win until the checkered flag waves. How many times have we seen a strong contender blow an engine or run out of fuel? We’ve even seen a team dominate a race but when the race comes down to a green-white-checkered, another team ends up with the victory! This usually comes after an intense one-on-one battle for the lead that everyone talks about the next week. Sometimes, it’s from a problem on pit road, like it was this week for the Brickyard 400. Jimmie Johnson seemed to have had the race won with 27 laps to go. Due to a long pit stop for the five-time champion, Ryan Newman was able to gain the lead and win the race. Don’t forget about the unpredictable stuff that happens too like a jet dryer exploding or overhead camera line snapping. These events can completely change the race. Not a year passes by without some intense or unexpected moments to reminisce on.

Charitable Work

NASCAR takes charitable work to a new level. Like many sports, NASCAR has a foundation which supports many charities. In addition to that, many drivers, past and present, have foundations of their own. Causes range from helping children in need, animal shelters and enhancing educational opportunities (i.e. providing scholarships). Even team sponsors will reach out and help as well in a time of need. Most recently, to help the Oklahoma tornado victims, Lowe’s matched Jimmie Johnson’s race winnings for the Coca-Cola 600. This shows how much NASCAR and their sponsors care and it makes you feel good to support them.

Togetherness

Jason Leffler, NASCAR Nationwide Series driver, passed away tragically in a dirt car racing accident seven weeks ago. When this happened, many drivers put a tribute decal on their car. On Twitter, they started to talk about creating an auction, similar to what was done when IndyCar driver Dan Wheldon passed away in a racing accident. For the Dan Wheldon Family Trust Fund, many drivers from both IndyCar and NASCAR, donated race-worn helmets, fire suits, and more. They ultimately raised $600,000. A few months ago, the Charlie Dean Discretionary Trust Fund was established for Leffler’s son. Currently, there is an auction with all the proceeds going to the fund. This past Saturday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Turner Scott Motorsports driver, Justin Allgaier, drove his No. 32 car with a Jason Leffler Tribute paint scheme during the Nationwide Series race. This is an example of how close the people who work in NASCAR are. They are truly like family, from the board of directors, to the teams, to the fans. It has been shown throughout the years, many a time. When someone is in need, we always seem to band together and help out. We’ve even seen it reach across other forms of motorsports. It’s something no other sport has, and I’m glad to be a part of it.

These are just some highlights of the many reasons I love this sport. We have something special in it, and I hope we always keep it.

Stephanie Adair is a 14-year-old Popular Speed Development Journalist

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Development Journalists

Will TV Deal Help NASCAR Branding?

Last week, NASCAR made a huge announcement concerning their TV deals. NBC outbid ESPN and TNT, gaining a 10 year deal for a large amount of NASCAR TV rights starting in 2015. Things are starting to look very similar to what NASCAR had in 2001-2006. Coverage was split between two different networks, NBC and FOX. With this deal, it looks like the full NASCAR schedule will be split up between the same two networks, and distributed through three channels: NBC, NBC Sports Network (NBCSN), and Fox Sports 1 (FS1).

All of FS1’s broadcasting rights will start this August. In 2015, the TV schedule should look like this:

Surprisingly, The NBC network has scored the majority of NASCAR TV broadcasting rights. They will cover 20 Sprint Cup races with 13 being shown on NBCSN, and 7 on NBC. FS1 is scheduled to show 13 races, and is expected to pick up the last three, which do not have a provider yet. On the Nationwide Series side, NBC network is slated to cover the final 19 races, 15 on NBCSN, and four on NBC. Who will cover the beginning of the Nationwide Series schedule has not been announced yet. It is highly expected to be FS1, especially after Brain France “slipped up” and said there would be Nationwide Series races on that channel.

FS1 will also have all of the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series races. NBC picked up the broadcasting rights to some regional touring series, including the NASCAR K&N Pro Series, NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour, and NASCAR Toyota (Mexico) Series. Additionally, NBC will cover the NASCAR Hall of Fame Ceremonies and season-ending banquets. They also have obtained the rights to air their series coverage on Spanish broadcasting and “TV Everywhere”, which is a live-streaming platform they own. Finally, whichever channel provides race coverage will also show practice sessions and qualifying.

The NBC announcement had mixed reactions and many concerns. Some think this wasn’t a good move at all. I disagree. In the end this very well might be a smart move.

Here are my thoughts.

The biggest concern about NASCAR’s announcement is the availability of NBCSN. Some cable providers only carry NBCSN on more expensive packages. In today’s economy, some people won’t be able to afford these premium packages or be able to watch races that way. This is incredibly unfortunate, and hopefully they can find an alternate way to watch. I don’t think this issue will last, though. I saw a tweet from NASCAR.com writer David Caraviello, which really caught my eye. He said: “This is similar to what ESPN did to build ESPN2. Started placing premier events there, forced providers to lift it out of cable wilderness”. This might be NBC’s goal. By placing multiple races on NBCSN, they might very well get cable companies to place the channel on cheaper packages. I can’t say this dilemma isn’t a concern of mine, but I think in the end, it will all work out.

With that being said, I think NBCSN has major potential for great branding. With this channel already covering IndyCar, F1, and motocross, this could easily become the “motorsports hub” with the new addition of NASCAR! This would be great for all four series. When fans of one series have an off-week and they are craving some racing, they might try watching another series with the possibility of creating an increased fan base. We could have die-hard NASCAR fans watching F1 or IndyCar fans watching NASCAR. It would be beneficial to the whole world of motorsports!

There is also another plus in this deal: Less confusion. Fans will now know that anything NASCAR will be on one of three channels. Right now, we have practices and qualifying, on SPEED or ESPN, depending on the series. When it comes to races, it’s either on FOX, TNT, ABC, ESPN, or sometimes even SPEED. At times, I get confused with this. With this new deal, the race, practices, and qualifying will be all on one channel each week. This will make it much easier on the fans.

There might be some bugs to work out with this new deal. In the end, this might be a great opportunity for not only NASCAR, but all of motorsports. I’m looking forward to it.

Stephanie Adair is a Popular Speed Development Journalist