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Fire Breaks Out at ThorSport Racing Shop

Officials are still working to contain the fire that broke out in the basement of the ThorSport Racing team shop in Sandusky, Ohio early this morning.

An official statement released by the team on Monday stated the fire started shortly after midnight at the 100,000-square-foot facility; no one was injured. The organization is the longest-tenured of the Camping World Truck Series and currently houses full-time teams for two-time champion Matt Crafton, Ben Rhodes, Rico Abreu and Cameron Hayley.

“We are currently working with the fire department and local officials to contain the blaze, and assess the damage,” the statement read. “We do not expect this to impact the team’s competition schedule. Our next race is at Iowa Speedway in Newton on Saturday, June 18. Further details will be forthcoming.”

Last Friday, ThorSport placed two trucks in the top 10 at Texas Motor Speedway in the Rattlesnake 400.

A local news station captured video of the fire, which can be seen here.

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The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or staff. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement. 

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Three Crew Chiefs Suspended Following Charlotte Weekend

Wednesday evening, NASCAR announced three Sprint Cup Series teams have been issued P3 penalties following the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

The teams that were penalized were the No. 16 (Greg Biffle) of Roush Fenway Racing, the No. 41 (Kurt Busch) of Stewart-Haas Racing, and the No. 47 (AJ Allmendinger) from JTG Daugherty Racing.

Randall Burnett, crew chief for Allmendinger, and Tony Gibson, crew chief for Busch, were both suspended for the upcoming race at Pocono Raceway and fined $20,000 for infractions found in section 10.11.3.4 a of the NASCAR Rule Book.

In that section it reads, “All tires, and wheels, and all five lug nuts must be installed in a safe and secure manner at all times during the Event.”

Allmendinger finished 16th on Sunday and currently sits one point behind Ryan Newman in the battle to secure the final spot in the 16-driver Chase Grid, while Busch finished sixth on Sunday and is second in the Sprint Cup Series point standings.

Biffle’s team received by far the harshest punishment out of the three due to multiple infractions that were found during the post-race inspection. One of the infractions included a body design that was either not submitted to NASCAR for approval or did not comply with the approved body designs.

Brian Pattie, his crew chief, has been suspended for both the Pocono and Michigan races and fined $50,000. 15 driver points and 15 points will also be taken due to the infractions.

Biffle finished 11th in the main event at Charlotte. He will be dropped from 23rd to 24th in the standings due to the penalty.

Though these were the most severe penalties given after the weekend at Charlotte, they weren’t the only ones.

The Stewart-Haas Racing No. 14 (Tony Stewart) was issued a P2 penalty for infractions in body design and surface conformance found during pre-race inspection.  Stewart’s crew chief, Mike Bugarewicz, has been placed on probation through Dec. 31.

The teams for Paul Menard, Matt Kenseth, Aric Almirola, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jimmie Johnson were also issued minor penalties, but with less severe consequences.

Vivian Meza is a POPULAR SPEED Development Journalist

EMAIL VIVIAN AT vivian.meza@popularspeed.com

The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or staff. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement. 

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Fresh Tires Propel Hamlin to NASCAR XFINITY Win in Charlotte

By Reid Spencer (NASCAR Wire Service) CONCORD, N.C. – In an event that bore notable similarities to the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race a week earlier, Denny Hamlin won Saturday’s Hisense 300 NASCAR XFINITY Series race at Charlotte Motor Speedway with a pass on the final lap.

Hamlin’s fresh rubber trumped the old tires of Kyle Larson and Joey Logano, who restarted ahead of Hamlin in overtime at the 1.5-mile track.

In fact, Hamlin restarted sixth on Lap 205 after coming to pit road for four new tires under the eighth and final caution of the race, brought out when polesitter Erik Jones, Hamlin’s teammate, slammed the outside wall and performed the coup de grace on his already wounded No. 20 Toyota.

“It was a second opportunity, obviously,” Hamlin said. “I was hoping for that caution there at the end, and we got it and we were able to get four tires on this Hisense Camry and took off. A little closer than what I thought – I mean, we were just really tight those last couple laps, but what a great day.”

The victory was Hamlin’s first of the year in his only start so far, and it was the fifth this season for the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota, the first four coming with Kyle Busch behind the wheel.

Logano surged ahead of Larson at the restart, but Hamlin gained huge momentum on his new tires from the outside lane. With less than a lap left, Hamlin got past Logano and held on to win the race by .291 seconds over Austin Dillon, who edged Logano for second in the final corner.

Dillon had opted for right-side tires only on his final pit stop.

But for a timely caution, however, Hamlin would not have had the opportunity to win the race. As they had done a week earlier in the All-Star race, Larson and Logano swapped the lead, with Logano powering past Larson’s No. 42 Chevrolet on lap 166 of a scheduled 200, and Larson regaining the top spot with five laps left in regulation.

But when Jones slammed into the wall on Lap 199, Hamlin had the chance to come to pit road for tires under caution, while Larson and Logano stayed out to preserve their track position.

With just two cars up front on old tires, as had been the case for the final restart in the All-Star race, Hamlin made short work of the cars in front of him.

It was the third last-lap pass for the win in the XFINITY Series this season.

Hamlin and crew chief Chris Gayle conferred before the final pit stop and ultimately opted for the fresh rubber.

“It was a collaborative call,” Hamlin said. “He (Gayle) leaned towards staying out, but I thought that I could get around those guys in just two laps even though we were way faster on that last run. I thought tires were the thing.

“I knew if I could start on the outside that I wanted new tires and it just worked out on pit road where I came out on the outside. It all worked out and it was very exciting in that last corner, a little more exciting than what I expected.”

Hamlin desperately needed the final caution because his No. 18 team had drawn a penalty for an uncontrolled tire on a pit stop under yellow on Lap 160.

Hamlin restarted mid-pack instead of at the rear of the field as the violation requires, because according to NASCAR, the cars at the rear of the field failed to pass Hamlin’s No. 18 Camry before the green flag waved on Lap 164.

Hamlin said he left a large buffer for the laps-down car to pass him before the restart, but that they declined to do so.

By the time Jones hit the wall, Hamlin had driven to third place, trailing only Larson and Logano.

The similarities to the finish of the All-Star Race were not lost on Logano.

“I thought it was kind of supposed to be like what the All-Star Race was with old tires and new tires, but the (my car) was the fastest it’s been all year,” Logano said. “We can’t hold our heads down about it. We had a car that was capable of winning if circumstances went right. I felt like I was going have a good restart next to Kyle.

“I felt my restarts were a little better than his all day, and I thought, ‘OK, if I can clear him,’ which we did I was like, ‘Alright, we’ve got a shot,’ but it was really hard to hold off those four tires. What a fun race. It got really exciting there at the end. I got passed on the top by Denny and then Kyle just kept ripping up top and had a big run into the corner, so it was fun to watch that. I was hoping they would get into each other, and I would sneak one out.”

NASCAR XFINITY Series Race – Hisense 4K TV 300

1. (3) Denny Hamlin(i), Toyota, 206.
2. (4) Austin Dillon(i), Chevrolet, 206.
3. (7) Joey Logano(i), Ford, 206.
4. (11) Cole Custer(i), Chevrolet, 206.
5. (8) Justin Allgaier, Chevrolet, 206.
6. (5) Kyle Larson(i), Chevrolet, 206.
7. (12) Brandon Jones #, Chevrolet, 206.
8. (10) Ty Dillon, Chevrolet, 206.
9. (14) Brennan Poole #, Chevrolet, 206.
10. (17) Brendan Gaughan, Chevrolet, 206.
11. (27) Jeb Burton, Ford, 206.
12. (2) Daniel Suarez, Toyota, 206.
13. (19) Ryan Sieg, Chevrolet, 206.
14. (18) Blake Koch, Chevrolet, 206.
15. (31) Garrett Smithley #, Chevrolet, 206.
16. (13) Ryan Blaney(i), Ford, 205.
17. (16) Ross Chastain, Chevrolet, 205.
18. (20) Drew Herring, Toyota, 205.
19. (15) Ryan Reed, Ford, 204.
20. (21) Jeremy Clements, Chevrolet, 204.
21. (23) Dakoda Armstrong, Toyota, 204.
22. (26) Ryan Preece #, Chevrolet, 203.
23. (25) JJ Yeley, Toyota, 203.
24. (40) Harrison Rhodes, Chevrolet, 203.
25. (30) BJ McLeod #, Ford, 202.
26. (35) Martin Roy, Chevrolet, 202.
27. (9) Darrell Wallace Jr., Ford, 201.
28. (6) Elliott Sadler, Chevrolet, 200.
29. (22) Spencer Gallagher(i), Chevrolet, 200.
30. (34) Carl Long, Toyota, 200.
31. (1) Erik Jones #, Toyota, Accident, 197.
32. (37) Derrike Cope, Chevrolet, 183.
33. (36) Timmy Hill(i), Chevrolet, Suspension, 130.
34. (29) Jeff Green, Toyota, Fuel Pump, 127.
35. (38) Mike Harmon, Dodge, Accident, 91.
36. (33) Joey Gase, Chevrolet, Transmission, 84.
37. (32) Ray Black Jr. #, Chevrolet, Oil Line, 27.
38. (39) Cody Ware #, Ford, Accident, 12.
39. (28) Josh Wise(i), Chevrolet, Rear Gear, 5.
40. (24) Matt DiBenedetto(i), Toyota, Vibration, 3.

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NASCAR Announces 2017 National Series Schedules

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (May 5, 2016) – NASCAR today announced the 2017 schedules for its three national series, giving fans and stakeholders a significant head start in planning for next season’s thrilling slate.

A credit to unprecedented industry collaboration, specifically the five-year sanctioning agreement between NASCAR and its tracks, the sanctioning body finalized its 2017 schedules months ahead of previous years’ release.

The result: Three unique schedules featuring race tracks that have hosted record-setting races already this season, with the majority of the slate still remaining.

A notable change in the 2017 NASCAR Cup Series schedule includes a date swap between a track that just hosted one of the most competitive races in its history, and one that will showcase the lower downforce competition package this coming weekend.

Talladega Superspeedway, which last Sunday had the second-highest total of green flag passes for the lead ever recorded (213), will become the second race in the Round of 12 in 2017 (Oct. 15). Kansas Speedway will now become the third and final race in that round (Oct. 22).

“Announcing the 2017 national series schedules this early in the season is another example of the collaborative spirit across the NASCAR industry,” said Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR executive vice president and chief racing development officer. “It is an exciting time in NASCAR, with some of the most intriguing racing we’ve seen in years. With the 2017 schedule solidified, the industry can now concentrate on the remainder of this season, while planning for the future much earlier than in previous years.”

Texas Motor Speedway’s spring Cup race shifts to Sunday (Apr. 9), a  move expected to produce great racing action like that seen after Richmond International Raceway switched to a Sunday race for the 2016 season. Other changes in the NASCAR Cup schedule include Dover International Speedway’s spring date move to June 4, a week after the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway (May 28). Michigan International Speedway’s second race will return to its traditional early August slot, on Aug. 13.

The NASCAR Cup Series 2017 schedule opens with The Great American Race, the Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway, scheduled for Sunday, Feb. 26. The season culminates with the NASCAR Cup Series Championship Race at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Nov. 19.

The NASCAR XFINITY Series will kick off at Daytona on Feb. 25, and crown its champion at Homestead on Saturday, Nov. 18. Its schedule features four standalone events – Iowa Speedway (July 29), Mid-Ohio (Aug. 12), Road America (Aug. 26) and Kentucky Speedway, the first event in the NASCAR XFINITY Series Chase (Sept. 23). For the second consecutive season, Iowa will host a NASCAR XFINITY Series-NASCAR Camping World Truck Series companion weekend on June 23-24.

The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series opens its season at Daytona on Feb. 24, and culminates at Homestead on Nov. 17. Five standalone races are included among the 2017 lineup: Texas Motor Speedway (June 9), Gateway Motorsports Park (June 17), Eldora Speedway (July 19), Canadian Tire Motorsport Park (Aug. 27) and Las Vegas Motor Speedway (Sept. 30). The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Chase once again begins at New Hampshire Motor Speedway (Sept. 23).

All races will air on either the FOX or NBC family of networks, MRN, PRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

See below for all three NASCAR national series schedules.

2017 Sprint Cup Series Schedule

2/18 Daytona International Speedway (Unlimited)
2/19 Daytona International Speedway (Daytona 500 Qualifying)
2/23 Daytona International Speedway (Duel)
2/26 Daytona 500
3/5 Atlanta Motor Speedway
3/12 Las Vegas Motor Speedway
3/19 Phoenix International Raceway
3/26 Auto Club Speedway
4/2 Martinsville Speedway
4/9 Texas Motor Speedway
4/23 Bristol Motor Speedway
4/30 Richmond International Raceway
5/7 Talladega Superspeedway
5/13 Kansas Speedway
5/20 Charlotte Motor Speedway (NASCAR All-Star Race)
5/28 Charlotte Motor Speedway
6/4 Dover International Speedway
6/11 Pocono Raceway
6/18 Michigan International Speedway
6/25 Sonoma Raceway
7/1 Daytona International Speedway
7/8 Kentucky Speedway
7/16 New Hampshire Motor Speedway
7/23 Indianapolis Motor Speedway
7/30 Pocono Raceway
8/6 Watkins Glen International
8/13 Michigan International Speedway
8/19 Bristol Motor Speedway
9/3 Darlington Raceway
9/9 Richmond International Raceway
9/17 Chicagoland Speedway
9/24 New Hampshire Motor Speedway
10/1 Dover International Speedway
10/7 Charlotte Motor Speedway
10/15 Talladega Superspeedway
10/22 Kansas Speedway
10/29 Martinsville Speedway
11/5 Texas Motor Speedway
11/12 Phoenix International Raceway
11/19 Homestead-Miami Speedway

 

2017 XFINITY Series Schedule

2/25 Daytona International Speedway
3/4 Atlanta Motor Speedway
3/11 Las Vegas Motor Speedway
3/18 Phoenix International Raceway
3/25 Auto Club Speedway
4/8 Texas Motor Speedway
4/22 Bristol Motor Speedway
4/29 Richmond International Raceway
5/6 Talladega Superspeedway
5/27 Charlotte Motor Speedway
6/3 Dover International Speedway
6/10 Pocono Raceway
6/17 Michigan International Speedway
6/24 Iowa Speedway
6/30 Daytona International Speedway
7/7 Kentucky Speedway
7/15 New Hampshire Motor Speedway
7/22 Indianapolis Motor Speedway
7/29 Iowa Speedway
8/5 Watkins Glen International
8/12 Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course
8/18 Bristol Motor Speedway
8/26 Road America
9/2 Darlington Raceway
9/8 Richmond International Raceway
9/16 Chicagoland Speedway
9/23 Kentucky Speedway
9/30 Dover International Speedway
10/6 Charlotte Motor Speedway
10/21 Kansas Speedway
11/4 Texas Motor Speedway
11/11 Phoenix International Raceway
11/18 Homestead-Miami Speedway

 

2017 Camping World Truck Series Schedule

2/24 Daytona International Speedway
3/4 Atlanta Motor Speedway
4/1 Martinsville Speedway
5/12 Kansas Speedway
5/19 Charlotte Motor Speedway
6/2 Dover International Speedway
6/9 Texas Motor Speedway
6/17 Gateway Motorsports Park
6/23 Iowa Speedway
7/6 Kentucky Speedway
7/19 Eldora Speedway
7/29 Pocono Raceway
8/12 Michigan International Speedway
8/16 Bristol Motor Speedway
8/27 Canadian Tire Motorsport Park
9/15 Chicagoland Speedway
9/23 New Hampshire Motor Speedway
9/30 Las Vegas Motor Speedway
10/14 Talladega Superspeedway
10/28 Martinsville Speedway
11/3 Texas Motor Speedway
11/10 Phoenix International Raceway
11/17 Homestead-Miami Speedway

 

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Austin Dillon Wins Fontana Pole as Track Record Falls

By Reid Spencer (NASCAR Wire Service) FONTANA, Calif. – Austin Dillon delivered a parting shot that turned out to be a called shot.

After taking questions from reporters after Friday’s opening NASCAR Sprint Cup Series practice at Auto Club Speedway, Dillon paused to watch the last minute of Middle Tennessee State’s upset victory over Michigan State in the NCAA basketball tournament.

On his way out the door, Dillon was asked about his prospects for Sunday’s Auto Club 400 (3:30 p.m. ET on FOX) at the two-mile track.

“Ask me tomorrow (after practice),” Dillon said. “But I think we’ve got a shot at the pole today.”

Dillon’s parting comment proved prophetic. In the money round of knockout qualifying, the driver of the No. 3 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet toured the abrasive track in 38.200 seconds (188.482 mph) to earn the top starting spot for Sunday’s race.

The Coors Light Pole Award was Dillon’s first since he topped qualifying for the season-opening Daytona 500 in his 2014 rookie season.

“I’m not (just) a Daytona 500 polesitter now—I got a pole somewhere else,” Dillon said. “And to do it at a driver’s race track like this here at Fontana means a lot to me.

“I’m just proud of this American Ethanol team. We’ve had fast cars all year long, and I knew going into that third session, if I didn’t make mistakes I would have a shot. I just stayed with it off of (Turn) 4. … It worked out for us.”

Dillon edged last week’s Phoenix winner, Kevin Harvick (188.329 mph), by .031 seconds. Denny Hamlin qualified third after leading the second round with a track-record run at (188.511 mph), breaking the mark of 188.245 mph set by current Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Kyle Busch in 2005.

Conserving his equipment for the final run, Dillon adhered to a blueprint devised by his engineers.

“We wanted to be from 13th to 24th in that first (round),” Dillon said. “We were 13th (tied with Kyle busch) on the front side of that. On the second run I was a little tight. We just kept freeing the car up a little bit there to help ourselves in that third run and it all worked out.”

Ryan Newman earned the fourth spot in the grid, followed by Carl Edwards, Kyle Busch, and Trevor Bayne.

Harvick lost time through the first two turns on his final-round lap.

“Each round was a little bit different,” said the 2014 series champion. “The second round, I had a little traffic getting onto the race track. The first round was pretty clean. I didn’t really change anything. (In the third round) I think I caught the inside of that seam with the right-side tires a little more than I wanted to through (Turns) 1 and 2 and it just started to step out and I had to pedal it three or four times down there because it was loose.

“Pretty good through (Turns) 3 and 4, but, all in all, a good day for our team, and hopefully we can cap that off with a win when we get done on Sunday.”

Notes: Dillon’s Daytona 500 pole was also the last pole for RCR. … Jimmie Johnson qualified 19th, and Dale Earnhardt Jr. will start 27th after failing to advance past the first round. … Chase Elliott qualified eighth, six spots ahead of fellow rookie Ryan Blaney.

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Qualifying – Auto Club 400
Auto Club Speedway
Fontana, California
Friday, March 18, 2016

1. (3) Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, 188.482 mph.
2. (4) Kevin Harvick, Chevrolet, 188.329 mph.
3. (11) Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 187.637 mph.
4. (31) Ryan Newman, Chevrolet, 187.276 mph.
5. (19) Carl Edwards, Toyota, 187.222 mph.
6. (18) Kyle Busch, Toyota, 187.212 mph.
7. (6) Trevor Bayne, Ford, 186.916 mph.
8. (24) Chase Elliott #, Chevrolet, 186.795 mph.
9. (22) Joey Logano, Ford, 186.557 mph.
10. (1) Jamie McMurray, Chevrolet, 186.345 mph.
11. (47) AJ Allmendinger, Chevrolet, 185.687 mph.
12. (5) Kasey Kahne, Chevrolet, 187.642 mph.
13. (27) Paul Menard, Chevrolet, 187.495 mph.
14. (21) Ryan Blaney #, Ford, 187.480 mph.
15. (2) Brad Keselowski, Ford, 187.232 mph.
16. (34) Chris Buescher #, Ford, 187.154 mph.
17. (78) Martin Truex Jr., Toyota, 187.028 mph.
18. (17) Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Ford, 186.528 mph.
19. (48) Jimmie Johnson, Chevrolet, 186.297 mph.
20. (20) Matt Kenseth, Toyota, 186.268 mph.
21. (44) Brian Scott #, Ford, 186.176 mph.
22. (16) Greg Biffle, Ford, 186.075 mph.
23. (13) Casey Mears, Chevrolet, 185.773 mph.
24. (14) Brian Vickers, Chevrolet, 185.581 mph.
25. (43) Aric Almirola, Ford, 186.398 mph.
26. (41) Kurt Busch, Chevrolet, 186.095 mph.
27. (88) Dale Earnhardt Jr., Chevrolet, 186.080 mph.
28. (7) Regan Smith, Chevrolet, 185.696 mph.
29. (15) Clint Bowyer, Chevrolet, 185.639 mph.
30. (95) Michael McDowell, Chevrolet, 185.486 mph.
31. (10) Danica Patrick, Chevrolet, 185.099 mph.
32. (42) Kyle Larson, Chevrolet, 184.990 mph.
33. (83) Matt DiBenedetto, Toyota, 184.611 mph.
34. (38) Landon Cassill, Ford, 184.186 mph.
35. (23) David Ragan, Toyota, 183.052 mph.
36. (98) Cole Whitt, Chevrolet, 182.348 mph.
37. (30) Josh Wise, Chevrolet, 181.951 mph.
38. (46) Michael Annett, Chevrolet, 180.610 mph.
39. (32) Jeffrey Earnhardt #, Ford, 180.415 mph.

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NASCAR, France, Earnhardt Jr. Nominated for SBJ Awards

The Sports Business Journal announced the nominees for their ninth annual Sports Business Awards on Monday, which included Brian France, NASCAR and others.

There are 17 different categories, six of which featured a NASCAR nod, including the sanctioning body being nominated for Sports League of the Year. The Best in Sports Social Media category, where Dale Earnhardt Jr. is nominated, is one of three new awards.

Earnhardt Jr. exploded onto the Twitter scene following his 2014 Daytona 500 victory and became the second NASCAR driver – behind Danica Patrick – to reach 1 million followers.

NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France is nominated for Sports Executive of the Year. The third-generation leader of NASCAR’s founding family has served in the position since 2003 when he took over for his father, Bill France Jr.

Daytona International Speedway and Darlington Raceway also received nominations. After receiving a $400 million facelift, called Daytona Rising, the facility has been nominated for Sports Facility of the Year. Darlington is nominated for Sports Event of the Year following the well-received Bojangles Southern 500, which featured throwback paint schemes and logos.

Lastly, Toyota and XFINITY are both nominated for Sports Sponsor of the Year. Toyota has invested a large amount in NASCAR while Comcast is in the second year of its 10-year partnership as the title sponsor of the XFINITY Series.

Sports League of the Year

American Athletic Conference

Major League Baseball

Major League Soccer

NASCAR

National Basketball Association

PGR Tour

Sports Event of the Year

2015 Belmont Stakes

2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup Final

Bojangles Southern 500

Mayweather vs. Pacquiao

Super Bowl 50

Sports Executive of the Year

Brian France, NASCAR

Stan Kroenke, Kroenke Sports and Entertainment

Joe Lacob, Golden State Warriors

Rob Manfred, Major League Baseball

Mark Parker, Nike

Sports Sponsor of the Year

American Express

Anheuser-Busch InBev

FedEx

State Farm

Toyota

XFINITY from Comcast

Sports Facility of the Year

Avaya Stadium

Bill Snyder Family Stadium

Daytona International Speedway

Kyle Field

Petco Park

Best in Sports Social Media

Chicago Blackhawks – #WhatsYourGoal

Clemson University

Dale Earnhardt Jr.

National Basketball Association

U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team

The winners will be announced on May 18 in New York City.

EMAIL KELLY AT kelly.crandall@popularspeed.com

FOLLOW ON TWITTER: @KellyCrandall

The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or staff. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement. 

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Pearn Suspended; Five Others Penalized Following Atlanta

Crew chief of Furniture Row Racing’s No. 78 Toyota, Cole Pearn, has been suspended by NASCAR for one Sprint Cup Series point race and fined $50,000 for a rules violation that occurred last weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

Driver Martin Truex Jr., who finished second to Denny Hamlin at Daytona and seventh in Atlanta, has also been penalized 15 championship driver points while team owner Barney Visser has also been penalized 15 championship owner points in connection to the violation.

The infraction involving the roof flap(s) was found during pre-race inspection for the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500.

Pearn, 33, was already on probation through Dec. 31, 2016, after the Daytona 500 also for a roof flap(s) infraction found during qualifying. Furniture Row Racing will appeal the penalty and NASCAR has temporarily deferred the suspension and points penalty, which will allow Pearn to join the team this weekend at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

“Due to the severity of the P3 penalty levied against Furniture Row Racing and its crew chief Cole Pearn today (Wednesday), the No. 78 Sprint Cup team has informed NASCAR it will appeal the decision,” Joe Garone, president of Furniture Row, said in a statement.

“The infraction, which was immediately corrected following technical inspection at Atlanta Motor Speedway last week, was safety related and not competition related. We sincerely appreciate that NASCAR has an appeal process so we can review the level of the penalty. 

Other penalties from Atlanta include Randall Burnett, crew chief of the No. 47 JTG Daugherty entry with driver AJ Allmendinger, who was penalized for rear wheel crush panel issues found during pre-qualifying inspection. 

Richard Childress Racing crew chiefs Slugger Labbe (No. 3), Justin Alexander (No. 27), Luke Lambert (No. 31), and Leavine Family Racing crew chief Dave Winston (No. 95 Circle Sport) being fined $15,000 and placed on probation until Dec. 31. Each team also lost 10 championship owner and driver points for violating rule 20.4 e – “Unless otherwise stated, all body attachment mounts and supports used to connect body components to the chassis must be constructed of magnetic steel round tubing with a minimum outside diameter of 0.168 inch and a maximum outside diameter of 0.5 inch. All body attachment mounts and supports must be non-adjustable and completely welded at both ends” 

Four additional teams (Nos. 32, 83, 88 and 98) received warnings from officials at NASCAR for failing template inspections on multiple occasions.

Vivian Meza is a POPULAR SPEED Development Journalist

EMAIL VIVIAN AT vivian.meza@popularspeed.com

The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or staff. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement. 

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Roush, Rudd, Hornaday, Wilson, Squier Added to NASCAR Hall of Fame Ballot

By Reid Spencer (NASCAR Wire Service) Four nominees renowned for their competitive spirit and one of the most talented broadcasters in NASCAR racing were added to the list of nominees for the 2017 NASCAR Hall of Fame.

Drivers Ricky Rudd and Ron Hornaday Jr., team owner Jack Roush, engine builder Waddell Wilson and legendary play-by-play man Ken Squier are the five new nominees announced by NASCAR on Wednesday.

They join 15 nominees who appeared on the ballot last year, and collectively they comprise the 20 individuals eligible for Hall of Fame consideration this year.

A relentlessly feisty driver from Chesapeake, Virginia, Rudd posted 23 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series victories  during a career that spanned 33 years. Over the 16-year period from 1983 through 1998, he won at least one NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race per year.

But Rudd is perhaps best known for his Iron Man mark of 788 consecutive starts, a record that stood until Jeff Gordon broke it last season in the fall race at New Hampshire.

Though Hornaday competed in all three of NASCAR’s top national series during his 24-year career, he enjoyed the most success in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, winning 51 races and four championships — both series records.

Known as a master of restarts, Hornaday also won 27 poles in the Truck Series and collected 234 top 10s in 360 career races.

Nicknamed the “Cat in the Hat,” Roush Fenway Racing team owner Jack Roush boasts 322 NASCAR national series victories — more than any other car owner. A master at discovering young driving talent, Roush won consecutive NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championships in 2003 and 2004, the first with Matt Kenseth and the second with Kurt Busch in the first year of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.

In aggregate, among all his drivers, Roush has 3,343 Sprint Cup races to his credit, 135 of which have ended with a Roush Ford in Victory Lane.

Waddell Wilson still enjoys the well-deserved reputation as one of the foremost engine builders in the history of NASCAR racing. Though engines were his forte, Wilson’s talents didn’t stop there. He won three Daytona 500s as a crew chief, in 1980 with fellow NASCAR Hall of Fame nominee Buddy Baker and in 1983 and 1984 with NASCAR Hall of Famer Cale Yarborough.

The final new 2017 nominee never competed on the track or in the garage, but no one was better at describing the action than Ken Squier, who served as the lap-by-lap announcer for NASCAR on CBS from 1979 through 1997. (The full list of Class of 2017 nominees appears below).

Squier is also a returning nominee for the Landmark Award for outstanding contributions to the sport, joining Martinsville Speedway founder H. Clay Earles, champion car owner Raymond Parks and former R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company executive Ralph Seagraves.

The one new addition to the list of Landmark Award nominees is Janet Guthrie, the first female driver to compete in a superspeedway race at NASCAR’s highest level. Guthrie made her Sprint Cup debut in the 1976 World 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway and went on to run 33 races, with her best finish a sixth at Bristol in 1977.

The potential Hall of Famers and Landmark Award winners were selected by a nominating committee consisting of representatives from NASCAR and the NASCAR Hall of Fame, track owners from both major facilities and historic short tracks, and the media. The committee’s votes were tabulated by accounting firm Ernst & Young.

From the list of 20 NASCAR Hall of Fame nominees, five inductees will be elected by the NASCAR Hall of Fame Voting Panel, which includes a nationwide fan vote on NASCAR.com. Voting Day for the 2017 class is Wednesday, May 25.

The following are the 20 nominees for induction into the NASCAR Hall of Fame’s 2017 class, listed alphabetically:

Buddy Baker, won 19 times in NASCAR’s premier (now Sprint Cup) series, including the Daytona 500 and Southern 500

Red Byron, first NASCAR premier series champion, in 1949

Richard Childress, 11-time car owner champion in NASCAR’s three national series

Ray Evernham, three-time NASCAR premier series championship crew chief

Ray Fox, legendary engine builder, crew chief and car owner

Rick Hendrick, 14-time car owner champion in NASCAR’s three national series

Ron Hornaday, four-time NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion

Harry Hyde, 1970 NASCAR premier series championship crew chief

Alan Kulwicki, 1992 NASCAR premier series champion

Mark Martin, 96-time race winner in NASCAR national series competition

Hershel McGriff, 1986 NASCAR west series champion

Raymond Parks, NASCAR’s first champion car owner

Benny Parsons, 1973 NASCAR premier series champion

Larry Phillips, only five-time NASCAR weekly series national champion

Jack Roush, five-time car owner champion in NASCAR’s three national series

Ricky Rudd, won 23 times in NASCAR’s premier series, including the 1997 Brickyard 400

Ken Squier, legendary radio and television broadcaster; inaugural winner/namesake of Squier-Hall Award for NASCAR Media Excellence

Mike Stefanik, winner of record-tying nine NASCAR championships

Waddell Wilson, won three NASCAR premier series championships as an engine builder

Robert Yates, won NASCAR premier series championship as both an engine builder and owner

The five nominees for the 2017 Landmark Award, listed alphabetically, are as follows:

Clay Earles, founder of Martinsville Speedway

Janet Guthrie, the first female to compete in a NASCAR premier series superspeedway race

Raymond Parks, NASCAR’s first champion car owner

Ralph Seagraves, formed groundbreaking Winston-NASCAR partnership as executive with R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company

Ken Squier, legendary radio and television broadcaster; inaugural winner / namesake of Squier-Hall Award for NASCAR Media Excellence

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Childress Swaps Crew Chiefs Between XFINITY Teams

To continue improving the performance of the organization, Richard Childress Racing announced Tuesday they have swapped the No. 3 and No. 33 XFINITY Series crew chiefs, effective immediately.

“Like many teams this time of year, we are making some mid-season personnel changes to improve the overall performance of our teams this season,” said Richard Childress, Chairman and CEO of Richard Childress Racing. “This will also give us an opportunity to get an early look at what our personnel lineup might look like for the 2016 season.”

Nick Harrison will begin working with @tydillon and the No 3 team, beginning with Daytona next weekend.

In the season’s first 14 races, Harrison had worked with @austindillon3, @BrandonJonesRac and Paul Menard, leading the team to a pair of victories with Dillon and 11 top-10 finishes. Harrison has been part of the Childress XFINITY program for the past three seasons with four wins and 26 top-fives to his credit in 56 races atop the pit box.

Ty Dillon currently sits second in points with 10 top-10s in 14 races but has yet to visit Victory Lane, boosting a second-best finish of third at Daytona and Atlanta.

Danny Stockman, who has worked with Ty Dillon to this point, will become the crew chief for the No. 33 team. The car will see Austin Dillon fill out the majority of the schedule, with Menard and Jones filling in the gaps.

Stockman has been with Richard Childress Racing for the past four years, leading Austin Dillon to an XFINITY Series championship in 2013. He led Ty Dillon to a fifth place finish in points last season.

EMAIL ASHLEY AT ashley.mccubbin@popularspeed.com

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Ragan Named Driver of No. 55 for Remainder of 2015 Season

@DavidRagan is on the move again this time headed for Michael Waltrip Racing.

Ragan was announced early Tuesday morning as the driver of the No. 55 Aaron’s Dream Machine for the remainder of the 2015 Sprint Cup Series season. His tenure with the team will start at Kansas Speedway on May 9 as team owner @MW55, who drove the car in the Daytona 500, will again pilot it this weekend at Talladega Superspeedway. @Brett_Moffitt had driven the Toyota Camry in six of the season’s first nine races.

“Life has thrown a lot at MWR the first part of this racing season, but our team has stood tall and worked through it,” Waltrip said. “Our original plans for the No. 55 team have been challenged since December and we felt it was important for our employees and our sponsors to solidify the remainder of the 2015 season.

“The opportunity to bring David Ragan into the team is incredible for a number of reasons. He will bring experience, consistency and a lot of confidence based on how he has been running with our Toyota teammates at Joe Gibbs Racing. He also puts the No. 55 team and Aaron’s right back into the Chase for the Sprint Cup contention, which is a very positive turn of events for that team.”

The organization was left to make these moves when Brian Vickers announced he had a reoccurrence of a blood clot in his lungs the weekend of Fontana, which would relegate him to the sidelines for at least three months. Vickers cannot race while on blood thinners. The 31-year-old also missed the first two races of the year following offseason heart surgery.

There is no timetable on Vickers return to competition.

“There is absolutely no question about Brian Vickers’ ability, but there remains a question of his availability. We are going to remain very close with Brian while he works on his plan to return,” Waltrip continued. “We have told him that MWR is here when he has a clear picture about what the future holds, but we don’t need to add any timeline pressures. He is working with a lot of medical advisors and once he has established his plan, we will sit down and discuss next steps.”

The 22-year-old Moffitt will now move back to the sidelines. As a development driver for Michael Waltrip Racing, Moffitt ran seven races for the organization in 2014 before being given the opportunity to take over Vickers ride early this season. He finished a career-best eighth at Atlanta Motor Speedway in February.

“I’m really proud of the incredible job Brett Moffitt has done for us in the 55. He has been a big part of this organization for the last couple of years and he will continue in that role,” said Waltrip. “With the limited number of starts Brett has in this industry, he has proven that he has the talent to be a full-time NASCAR Sprint Cup driver and we are still committed to helping him get that opportunity.”

Ragan now joins the fold with ten years of Sprint Cup Series experience alongside fellow veteran Clint Bowyer. At 29 years old, Ragan has two career Sprint Cup Series wins and moves to a third different seat this year. He had started the year driving for Front Row Motorsports, whom he’s been with for the past four years.

When @KyleBusch was injured in the XFINITY Series race at Daytona, however, Ragan was called upon to take over the No. 18 M&M’s Toyota starting in Atlanta. Ragan currently sits 19th in the Sprint Cup Series point standings.

“The only way I can repay all the people I have to thank for making this happen is to go out and win races and get MWR, Aaron’s and Toyota in the Chase,” said Ragan. “It’s going to be awesome knowing when I climb in the No. 55 at Kansas that car will be mine the rest of the season. I look forward to working with (teammate) Clint Bowyer, the crew and shop employees at MWR. It’s tough what’s happened to them this year but I hope I can come in and make 2015 something special.”

EMAIL KELLY AT kelly.crandall@popularspeed.com

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