Sport to honor fallen service members with windshield tribute at Coca-Cola 600 DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (May 18, 2015) — When NASCAR® drivers start their engines for Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway , fans will see familiar names like "Harvick," "Kenseth" and "Almirola" replaced on car windshields with "SGT Mracek," "HM3 Layton" and "CPT Argel" -- United States Armed Forces members who have fallen in service to their country. All 43 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers will participate in "600 Miles of Remembrance" on Memorial Day Weekend to honor military service members and their families, and commemorate the launch of NASCAR: An American Salute ™, the industry's collective expression of reverence, respect and gratitude for those who have served and continue to defend our nation today. Fans can follow stories around the seven-week platform and share their personal expressions of thanks to the military using #NASCARSalutes on social media. "The NASCAR community rallying to honor the U.S. Armed Forces, past and present, has long been part of our sport's heritage," said Brent Dewar, Chief Operating Officer, NASCAR. "As part of NASCAR: An American Salute , 600 Miles of Remembrance represents a special moment in time as we pay tribute to service members who have sacrificed dearly for our freedom." Many of the service members whose names will be displayed on the race cars were chosen by the teams, and some have unique connections to the fallen. Private Dean Van Dyke, who was killed in the Vietnam War, was a relative of No. 16 Roush Fenway Racing driver Greg Biffle . Army First Lieutenant Daniel Hyde, killed during Operation Iraqi Freedom, served alongside Chris Clayton, tire changer on the No. 83 BK Racing team. Many of the families of the service members being recognized will be in attendance on Sunday, and will be introduced alongside the drivers during driver introductions. In addition, Charlotte Motor Speedway will host more than 6,000 active military members at the Coca-Cola 600 in honor of Memorial Day. NASCAR: An American Salute will feature various on- and off-track activities from tracks, teams and partners that show appreciation and support for the troops, and will culminate Independence Day Weekend with the Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway . This weekend, NASCAR together with Honor and Remember, Inc., will display specially prepared Honor and Remember flags representing those who have died in service to our country from each of the 50 United States throughout the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series garage at Charlotte Motor Speedway . Throughout the campaign, NASCAR will host military families at each NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race as part of NASCAR Troops to the Track™ Presented by Bank of America. Toyota will also honor the names of fallen service members on its pace cars for the Coca-Cola 600 as part of 600 Miles of Remembrance. Later in the program, both Chevrolet and Ford will feature patriotic branding on the pace cars for races at Pocono and Michigan, respectively. Many NASCAR Official Partners have mobilized to support NASCAR: An American Salute with military-themed activations, including: • For the sixth straight year, Goodyear is rallying NASCAR fans to support members of the U.S. Armed Forces through its "Goodyear Gives Back" charitable program benefiting the Support Our Troops® organization. To kick off the program, Goodyear will once again transform its NASCAR race tires by replacing the "Eagle" sidewall design with "Support Our Troops" messaging on all tires used during Memorial Day weekend at Charlotte Motor Speedway . This effort coincides with the May 21 launch of Goodyear's charity auction at www.Goodyear.com/GivesBack , which features autographed NASCAR memorabilia, VIP race experiences and rides on the Goodyear Blimp. • Bank of America is the presenting partner of NASCAR Troops to the Track -- a season-long program that honors members of the military and their families for their services, and treats them to a NASCAR race experience. This program is an extension of Bank of America's long-standing commitment to the military, focused on helping veterans and service members’ transition to civilian life. • NASCAR, Coca-Cola, Mars Chocolate North America, and 3M have collaborated to engage shoppers in over 180 military commissaries. On Tuesday, May 19, there will be all-day activation at Fort Bragg Commissary South featuring an appearance by Coca-Cola Racing Family Member Joey Logano , who will be giving away tickets to the Coca-Cola 600 . From May 18 to July 8, commissary shoppers can enter the 2015 Champion's Week Sweepstakes for a chance to win a trip to Las Vegas for NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champion’s Week by texting "NASCARSALUTE" to 313131 or by visiting www.championsweek2015.com . • M&M's will introduce a national letter-writing campaign, in partnership with Operation Gratitude, encouraging fans to send messages of thanks and appreciation to military members. The notes will be included in more than 100,000 Operation Gratitude Care Packages which will be assembled and shipped to Troops deployed in harm’s way and to New Recruits upon their graduation from Boot Camp. • During Daytona International Speedway ’s Coke Zero 400 , all active duty military, veterans and their families can enjoy the Troops Welcome Center Presented by M&M’s. The center, which will be located in the midway, will be fully equipped with food and beverages, allowing service members to take a break and meet NASCAR drivers throughout the weekend. • In honor of the military, Miss Sprint Cup will wear NASCAR: An American Salute fire suits at the Coca-Cola 600 and Coke Zero 400 . This Sunday, NASCAR drivers will discuss 600 Miles of Remembrance on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio (channel 90) during a special military tribute show airing at 1 p.m. ET. The Dialed In Salute to the Troops special, hosted by Claire B. Lang, will feature interviews with several drivers as well as service men and service women from different branches of the military. During the Coca Cola 600 pre-race broadcast (5:30 p.m. ET, FOX), FOX Sports will recognize all service members who have lost their lives in the past year by displaying their names and branch of service on a graphic scroll. This will be FOX’s fifth year in a row dedicating the pre-race show to service members that have fallen in the line of duty. The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series’ Coca-Cola 600 will be broadcast live from Charlotte Motor Speedway at 6 p.m. ET on FOX, PRN and SiriusXM Radio. Additional live coverage can be found on NASCAR.com. To learn more about NASCAR: An American Salute , visit www.NASCAR.com/Salute .
NASCAR executive weighs in on busy racing weekend NASCAR Executive Vice President and Chief Racing Development Officer Steve O'Donnell said Monday on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio that competition officials were working to increase side- by -side racing and passing near the front of the pack after a NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race that heavily favored leading cars. O'Donnell said that the process goes on every day at the sanctioning body's Research & Development Center in Concord, North Carolina, as NASCAR moves closer to making a final decision on the rules package for its premier Sprint Cup Series in 2016. "We actually do that every day," O'Donnell said. "We're focused on the racing, so when you look at particularly that race, we look at that as one of all of our events. We're a third of the way through the season. Lot of really great dialogue going on with the drivers, with the owners, with the race tracks, looking at how does the racing compare really over the last three to five years what, if any, of the levers can we look at as we look to the '16 package. So those discussions take place every day and we'll continue to do that today and heading into the season. "But still a third of the way through, too early to make an overall decision but certainly a lot of dialogue going on." Saturday night, Denny Hamlin claimed the $1 million All-Star prize after his Joe Gibbs Racing crew won the race off pit road before the final 10-lap segment. Once out in clean, non-turbulent air, Hamlin set sail to lead the rest of the way, taking the checkered flag by .923 seconds at Charlotte Motor Speedway . RELATED: Hamlin holds off Harvick to win Sprint All-Star Race The outcome was different than that of Friday night's NASCAR Camping World Truck Series North Carolina Education Lottery 200 at the intermediate-sized track. Eventual winner Kasey Kahne edged rookie Erik Jones in a captivating green-white-checkered finish after the two drivers raced side- by -side for virtually the entire two-lap shootout. O'Donnell said it was difficult to compare the two divisions, but he liked what he saw. "I think the ability to maintain that side- by -side racing is what we want to see," O'Donnell said. "There's a lot of variables with trucks, with aero, the distance of the races, who's in the field, that sort of thing. But certainly thought it was a tremendous race Friday night and of course, ultimately we'd like to see that throughout all of our divisions each and every race." This weekend's racing for all three national series brought some official rulings, both post-race and mid-race. In the truck series' event, Kahne's winning JR Motorsports No. 00 Chevrolet was deemed too low on both sides in the front and too high on one side in the rear after a post-race inspection. RELATED: Kahne wins Truck Series race, but fails post-race inspection Kahne started at the rear of the field after the team made an unapproved shock change before the race. Competition officials are expected to rule on the issue Tuesday, but O'Donnell said all factors will be considered before the final decision. "Every car or truck will have to pass pre-race inspection, so that's something that there's a balance there at the end of the race to make sure certain components aren't being manipulated, and that's our job to look at, but there's also cases where some pieces legitimately break," O'Donnell said. "These vehicles are out there running high 190s to 200 miles per hour, lots of contact especially when you talk truck racing. That's something that we take into consideration when we're evaluating all the vehicles post-race." Also in Saturday night's All-Star Race, a NASCAR spokesperson said that a crew member for the Hendrick Motorsports No. 48 team of driver Jimmie Johnson was under review for potentially altering a body panel late in the 110-lap invitational event. The practice of teams flaring out the side skirts ahead of the rear wheels was outlawed in the offseason. RELATED: Possible infraction for 48 team O'Donnell said that even though the event did not pay championship points, the high stakes would be reflected in how the NASCAR Rule Book is upheld for All-Star violations. "Still evaluating that like we do and if we make a decision to react, that would be on Tuesday, but there's a lot on the line for the All-Star Race," O'Donnell said. "It's not a points race, but certainly we know how much it means to win that race, so hopefully we don't have to make a call on this, but we would maintain the rule book throughout the race." Sunday in the NASCAR XFINITY Series 3M 250 , driver Brendan Poole was parked by NASCAR officials after retaliating in reaction to early race contact with J.J. Yeley at Iowa Speedway . O'Donnell said the immediate decision of race officials was necessary. "In this case when something happens on track, it's our policy to warn both drivers that we're going to be specifically looking at contact between those two," O'Donnell said. "In this case, we saw something that we believed was a move to really take someone out and we had to react. Not something we like doing, but we've got to react in that case and we did in Iowa." FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
18-year-old Canadian rounds out powerful ThorSport team CONCORD, N.C. -- In the dead of winter a little more than two years ago, Cameron Hayley took the route of many so-called "snow birds" from his home country of Canada to ride out the harsh February days in the far more temperate climate of Florida. This particular trip, though, wasn't simply a search for warmer weather. It also managed to launch his spring-loaded NASCAR career. Hayley, an 18-year-old driver from Calgary, Alberta, found pay dirt against top-flight short-track talent that February at Daytona International Speedway , claiming the checkered flag in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series portion of the inaugural UNOH Battle at the Beach tripleheader in 2013. He added his name to a distinguished list of winners, with an up-and-coming Kyle Larson prevailing in the Whelen All- American Series race and former Sprint Cup Series winner Steve Park scoring a resurgent victory in the Whelen Modified Tour event. "It does seem like a long time ago now," Hayley said Thursday at Charlotte Motor Speedway . "I mean, it was only two years ago, but when it comes down to it -- I've done so much since then." Though the race was an exhibition that paid out no points toward the K&N championship, it helped elevate the stature of an otherwise little-known talent from the Great White North. Fast forward, and Hayley's name takes its place on another list altogether -- as a Sunoco Rookie of the Year candidate in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series with ThorSport Racing, the championship team the last two seasons. "I think that's kind of what put me on the map with everybody," Hayley said. "Everyone started knowing my name after that and obviously moving to the K&N East Series last year it kind of got me down into the North Carolina, Charlotte-area and I guess people started to know my name more after that. It was kind of that Battle of the Beach when that really sparked people knowing me more." A pair of runner-up finishes in the K&N Series' title hunt the last two years helped that cause. So did his first ventures into the Camping World Truck Series, where he showed speed and landed two top-10s in his first three starts last season. After attracting the eye of team owner Duke Thorson and landing a seat in ThorSport's third truck alongside veteran teammates Matt Crafton and Johnny Sauter , Hayley has shown steady growth, even while visiting tracks for the first time in his national series career. Despite the unfamiliarity, Hayley has improved his finishing position each week, capped by last weekend's fifth-place effort at Kansas Speedway . More improvement is the target again at Charlotte, site of Friday night's NC Education Lottery 200 (8:30 p.m. ET, FOX Sports 1, PRN, SiriusXM). "It's definitely been tough," Hayley said. "This race is going to be my fifth new track again this year, so adjusting to all the different tracks and having all the tracks being new has definitely been difficult, but ThorSport has given me great trucks week in and week out and, like you said, we've been consistently getting better every single race. And we've had great trucks and had some bad luck, and I think Charlotte is going to be another one where I have lots to learn, but I think we have a great truck here and can do well." The learning curve may have been accelerated by having teammates in Crafton, the two-time defending series champion, and fellow veteran Sauter -- who have a combined 498 truck series starts to their credit. Hayley has 491 starts to catch the two; in the meantime, he's tapping them as a resource for as much advice as he can digest. "Both of them have been a tremendous help for me already," Hayley said. "Like I said, all these tracks have been new to me, so I can study race tapes, videos all I want, but until to you talk to a driver you don't really know a firsthand account of what's happening. Both these guys have helped me a lot. I haven't been quite quick enough to run up beside them during races yet, but I think we're getting there and I think I can learn a lot from that as well." Even though Hayley is still new to the team, Sauter said he likes what he's seen so far in the teenager's composure. "I don't really know him, he's a rookie, new to the deal -- but I think he's got a pretty good head on his shoulders," Sauter said. "I see him doing things that maybe necessarily don't see from a lot of rookie drivers and I think he's taking care of his equipment and showing speed at the same time. I think he’s been top of the board at Atlanta and Kansas, so there's speed there and he's only going to get better, so I think he's doing a great job and I see some things in him that I typically don't see in a lot of young guys at his age and at his experience level." FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Driver actively involved with military causes; will adorn truck at Charlotte Brad Keselowski couldn't have imagined a trip in 2008 to Balboa Naval Hospital in San Diego, California, would still be affecting his life today. But then again, the young driver couldn't have predicted what he would hear, see or experience in that hospital either. "I went through there in the hospital and it damn near made me cry walking past all these other guys," Keselowski recalled. "At the time, I was 23. There were guys that looked like they weren't going to make it and they were my age. "I think that rattles you pretty hard, at least it did me." Less than a year later, another experience with a close friend left Keselowski shaken once more, but a bit more certain of his eventual calling. "I had a friend, a close friend, who I remember spending New Year's with in 2009," Keselowski said. "He got deployed two weeks later, was in the Middle East … and he got blown up within the first month or two. He came back and when I saw him, that's when I knew. "All these things, it felt like kind of karma or the universe was pushing me this direction. I'd say that's what got me to where I am. Once I started the events and spent time with these people, I could relate to them so well." With a nudge from the universe, Keselowski launched the Checkered Flag Foundation in 2010 -- a 501(c)(3) organization that helps support military personnel and hosts various events to raise funds and awareness. • • • His foundation was the reason Keselowski was standing in the middle of the upscale David Yurman jewelry store at SouthPark Mall in Charlotte, North Carolina, on Tuesday night. Proceeds from the store's sales that evening benefited Charlotte Bridge Home, a local foundation that supports veterans and helps former military personnel ease the transition between service and their return home. "Tonight's event is about, one, having fun; two, raising attention; and three, helping to raise funds in the process for Charlotte Bridge foundation, which is a foundation that's dedicated in a very similar fashion (to the Checkered Flag Foundation) to help servicemen, servicewomen here locally in Charlotte … trying to find a home, trying to get back on their feet," Keselowski said, addressing the group on Tuesday night. "It's a cause that we're near and dear to as well, and we're glad and proud to help support them." The night's guests included foundation members, friends, NASCAR personnel and several veterans. One of the attendees was Charlotte Bridge Home's Veteran Outreach Specialist Tommy Rieman, a Silver Star and Purple Heart recipient who Keselowski refers to as a "general badass." "The way (Keselowski) sets himself up above the other drivers by coming out and doing things like this, showing that he cares for veterans, he leads by example," said Rieman, whose military service was recognized by President George W. Bush during the 2007 State of the Union Address. "So every veteran appreciates him … You've just got to love a guy who puts on a NASCAR event at a fine jewelry store." Rieman met Keselowski during one of the ride-alongs that the driver often gave to military personnel in the Checkered Flag Foundation's infancy. Surrounded by spotless glass cases filled with sparkling gems, the pair engaged in a lengthy conversation on Tuesday as the night was winding down. Staying past the event's scheduled hours while working the room, Keselowski seemed to know a little about each of the foundation's members. "He's a veteran who was in the Vietnam Era," Keselowski said, pointing out the organization's founder Thomas Norman with whom he had just exchanged goodbyes. "He was (U.S. Army) Special Forces and for some reason, he got ranked up so quickly they wouldn't send him over because he was too important ... Feels like to me that there's some kind of feeling that maybe he needs to do something back. So he's done all kinds of different things. He started this (foundation) here I would say four years ago -- a lot of growth, right?" With the fame, fortune and stature that arrives with being a professional athlete, Keselowski shares a similar feeling of wanting to give back. "Sports in general is very decadent, it always has been," Keselowski said. "There's something to be said for that, as an escape. But those that live in the escape, I always feel like, maybe have a greater responsibility to do something outside of it. "I sit back and look at the Tom Brady situation from this weekend and how much noise that makes in the media landscape. Then you think of so many other significant things going on the world right now that get zero recognition. So in that sense, I feel like those of us that are fortunate enough to get that recognition -- for good or bad -- always have to spread it to other areas." This weekend, Keselowski's No. 29 Ford in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series featured Careers for Veterans on the hood in Friday night's NC Education Lottery 200 at Charlotte Motor Speedway , in which he finished fifth. For Keselowski, it's another way to raise awareness for the cause that speaks to him. "I read this really great quote -- I think it's from Kevin Spacey, the actor -- about how fortunate he was to ride the elevator up to where he is and how important it is to send the elevator back down," Keselowski said. "And I thought that was really inspiring. "I'm not curing cancer. I make a very good living doing something that's decadent. I couldn't look myself in the mirror every morning, especially as I get older, knowing that I rode the elevator to the top and didn't send it back down with something so decadent as driving a car. "I'm very fortunate to have rode the elevator up." FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Jones, Reddick chasing two-time defending champ in standings Five races into the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series season, the cream is still on top. Matt Crafton ’s third-place finish last Friday in the North Carolina Education Lottery 200 at Charlotte Motor Speedway allowed the series points leader to maintain his top spot. Crafton, driving the No. 88 for ThorSport Racing, now has 217 points on the strength of two wins, four top fives and a series-best five top-10 finishes. The 38-year-old Crafton is trying to three-peat as the Camping World Truck Series points champion. Crafton has 343 Trucks races under his fire suit, starting with the Motorola 200 at Fontana back in 2000. His first-ever win was the 2008 edition of the North Carolina Education Lottery. He has a modest seven career wins, but consistency works in his favor. He’s placed among the top 10 in his Trucks races 57.4 percent of the time (197 out of 343). Erik Jones ’ epic battle with Kasey Kahne , which included side- by -side racing for most of the final lap and a photo finish, is the type of excitement NASCAR officials — and fans — want to see. Kahne won the race by 0.005 (that’s not a typo) of a second. The No. 00 Truck failed the post-race inspection for a ride-height violation. Kahne does, however, get to keep the win. Driving the No. 4 for Kyle Busch Motorsports, Jones led 88 of the 139 laps at Charlotte. Jones, who turns 19 on May 30, ranks second in the points standings. He finished 18th last year. Just two points behind Jones in the standings sits Tyler Reddick , who picked up his fourth top-five finish of the year by placing fourth last week. Driving the No. 19 Truck for Brad Keselowski Racing, Reddick already has one more top-five finish than he had in 16 starts as a rookie in 2014. The 19-year-old placed 12th in the standings last year. More than a decade removed from his rookie season in a NASCAR national series, Johnny Sauter is chasing his first-ever Truck Series title. Sauter, who turned 37 earlier this month, ranks fourth in the current standings. His best season was a second-place finish in 2011, and he placed fourth in the standings the past two years. John Wes Townley moved into the top five with a sixth-place finish at Charlotte. Townley doesn’t have a win in his 74 career starts on the circuit. He was 15th in the final 2014 standings, and his best year was an 11th-place showing in 2013. Up next for the Camping World Truck Series is the Lucas Oil 200 at Dover International Speedway on May 29 (5:30 p.m. ET on FOX Sports 1, MRN, SiriusXM). FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Official partners team up to create NASCAR-themed retail program RELATED: NASCAR Salutes page Shoppers at the Fort Bragg Commissary South were welcomed by a special guest on Tuesday, and an opportunity to win tickets to the Coca-Cola 600 . Joey Logano , driver of the No. 22 Team Penske Ford Fusion and member of the Coca-Cola Racing Family, visited the commissary at Fort Bragg to meet-and-greet shoppers and give away eight tickets to this weekend’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Charlotte Motor Speedway . The appearance was part of a collaboration between NASCAR, Coca-Cola, Mars Chocolate North America and 3M with DeCA (Defense Commissary Agency) to create a NASCAR-themed retail program at over 180 military commissaries across the country, as well as NASCAR: An American Salute. As part of this retail program, commissary shoppers can also enter the 2015 Champions Week Sweepstakes for a chance to win a trip for two to the 2015 NASCAR Champion’s Week in Las Vegas by visiting www.ChampionsWeek2015.com or by texting "NASCARSALUTE" to 313131. FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Hear from all the top finishers from Saturday's American Ethanol 200 from Iowa Speedway.
Four-time champion makes announcement on FOX Sports 1 RELATED: Full coverage of Gordon's final full-time season, announcement CONCORD, N.C. – When Jeff Gordon steps out of the race car and into the television booth next season, he'll still be competing. Only this time it could be with himself instead of 42 other NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers. The four-time series champion and Hendrick Motorsports driver will be an integral part of the FOX NASCAR broadcast team full time next season as a race analyst. Gordon made the announcement Thursday on FOX Sports 1's "Race Hub" prior to LiftMaster Pole Night at Charlotte Motor Speedway . Gordon will join fellow analyst Darrell Waltrip and play- by -play announcer Mike Joy when FOX opens the 2016 season with the coverage of SpeedWeeks from Daytona International Speedway . He will help call races, practices and qualifying sessions for the network. Former crew chief Larry McReynolds, who currently works alongside Joy and Waltrip, will move to the on-site studio, known as the Hollywood Hotel, where he will be paired with Chris Myers and Michael Waltrip . "I will tell you that being up in the booth, there was an adrenalin rush … it's exciting," Gordon said after qualifying 18th for Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600 (FOX, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR, 6 p.m.). "I enjoyed it. The competition might be with myself trying to always improve and be better, do the best that I can and push myself." According to a FOX release, Gordon has agreed to a multi-year contract that begins this season. He will serve as the in-race reporter during select Sprint Cup Series events for the remainder of the '15 season. He is one of four drivers so far to join FOX broadcasters in the booth for XFINITY Series races this season. Gordon's schedule saw him in the booth at Texas, Bristol and Talladega, where he joined host Adam Alexander and Michael Waltrip . "I was very nervous the first race in Texas and I was not feeling well; I was under the weather unfortunately," Gordon said. "That one I was more nervous. The next one (at Bristol) I was a little more comfortable and Talladega, I got to enjoy it. The racing was fun to talk about, and I thought the experience was enjoyable and I was a little more relaxed. I look forward to gaining that confidence and being … more relaxed." SHOP: Gordon gear Gordon will end a stellar driving career at the season’s end, having won premier series championships in 1995, '97-98 and '01. His 92 career victories are tops among active drivers and third on the series' all-time list, trailing only NASCAR Hall of Fame members Richard Petty ( 200 ) and David Pearson (105). In addition to his television work, he is expected to continue to contribute to Hendrick Motorsports , where he has spent his entire Sprint Cup career. "I had already made the decision that I was going to step away (from competing full-time) because I have some good options," Gordon, 43, said, "my role at Hendrick Motorsports , my role with (sponsor) Axalta, not to mention some other partners that have interest. "… I didn't know if it was going to happen to be honest. It was going back and forth for a while whether it was going to happen. Eventually all the right things came together." The relationship with Hendrick won't be an issue, he said, but added, "it's going to be something that I'm going to have to respect. "It's something I would never want to overstep the boundaries. I'm going to be conscious of it. But I also feel like it's going to help me stay current and up to speed on the knowledge of what is going on. As long as I'm not sharing too many details, I think just speaking in general, it's going to be a huge advantage for me to have that tie … to be able to bring some of that to the booth." Erik Shanks, FOX Sports President, COO and Executive Producer, called Gordon "not only a champion but an icon of a racing generation. "We are thrilled he has chosen to become a part of the FOX family and pair his experience with Darrell. "Each is credited with helping elevate NASCAR to the popularity it attained during in his respective era, and alongside Mike Joy, this duo will treat fans to unmatched insights each and every week." Gordon’s familiar red No. 24 Chevrolet will be driven by 2014 XFINITY Series champion Chase Elliott beginning next season. FOX Sports is in the first year of a new, 10-year media rights agreement that consists of coverage of each season's first 16 Sprint Cup Series points races as well as the first 14 XFINITY Series events and all Camping World Truck Series races. NBC holds the rights to the season's final 20 Sprint Cup events. FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Fans, drivers have chance to win $100,000 RELATED: 100,000 reasons to win " Learn more about Dash 4 Cash CONCORD, N.C. -- Roush Fenway Racing 's Chris Buescher picked up his second win in the NASCAR XFINITY Series last weekend at Iowa Speedway and took over the series points lead, but he said Thursday the only regret he had from the performance was that it didn't come this week in the Dash 4 Cash qualifier. Saturday's Hisense 300 (2:30 p.m. ET, FOX, PRN, Sirius XM) at Charlotte Motor Speedway marks the first step in the 2015 Dash 4 Cash as Buescher and other drivers who are eligible for XFINITY Series points will get a chance to race into the program's opener next weekend at Dover International Speedway . The Dash 4 Cash is a yearly contest that sparks excitement in the form of a $100,000 paycheck to the highest-finishing eligible driver in four select XFINITY Series races. This year's Dash 4 Cash includes races next week at Dover, July 25 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway , Aug. 21 at Bristol Motor Speedway and Sept. 5 at Darlington Raceway . "I love short track racing and to have Dover and Darlington and Bristol in there is awesome, because those are three of my top five race tracks," Buescher said. "If we're fortunate enough to qualify in for it, I think the red banner on the windshield and the spoiler will match our paint scheme quite nicely." Yes, the red banner and spoiler on Dash 4 Cash-eligible cars will replace the blue ones that were used last year when Nationwide ran the show. But that isn't the only change Comcast made since taking over the program. The qualifier race is new to Charlotte, as is the finale at Darlington -- last year's finale at Iowa was won by Trevor Bayne -- and the inclusion of Dover and Bristol is also a change. Plus, the schedule is more spread out than usual, allowing Bristol and Darlington to get into the mix. But what remains the same is that fans can enter the NASCAR XFINITY Series $100,000 Sweepstakes at www.nascar.com/Dash4Cash for a chance to take home their own stack of cash if they are paired up with the winning driver at Darlington. "There's a lot of hype around it and it's cool for fan engagement and for the drivers to try and put a little extra pressure on themselves and our teams," Buescher said of the Dash 4 Cash. "It's going to be a little bit more spread out this year, which I think is a good thing. I think it gives a little more time to prepare and plan for it." First, drivers like Buescher need to qualify for the event and that means finishing in the top four among eligible drivers on Saturday. Buescher admitted that will be a tough task, because he said the track at Charlotte changes a lot throughout the weekend. Buescher has had two top-10 finishes in his three XFINITY Series starts at Charlotte, and even though it's a small sample size, it's something to build on for the 22-year-old Texas native. Plus, since he's coming to Charlotte fresh off the win in Iowa, he said he's feeling pretty confident about his chances. "It's been a good start to the season for us, for sure," Buescher said. "We've had new people on board this year, new teammates in Elliott (Sadler) and Bubba (Wallace). I feel like it's coming together quite nicely this year. We have race cars that are coming to the race track a lot quicker than they were at the beginning of last year at this point in time, and we're in a much better points position not missing Daytona for sure and being able to get a win early in the season." It's worth something, in more ways than one, to see if Buescher can carry that momentum into Saturday. For more information on the Dash 4 Cash, go to http://www.nascar.com/dash4cash.html . FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Earnhardt Jr. thirsty for a win in Coca-Cola 600 CONCORD, N.C. -- There's good reason Dale Earnhardt Jr . holds Charlotte Motor Speedway in high regard, much of it owed to the proximity to his family's hometown of Kannapolis, which shares a border to its south with Concord, the track's longtime address. The 10-day stretch of springtime racing that culminates with Sunday's Coca-Cola 600 is often considered a home game for the NASCAR industry with its hub in the Charlotte metro area. But for no other driver does the track hit as close to home as Earnhardt, who wears his North Carolina pride on his sleeve and its flag above his driver's door. Earnhardt aims to fill a major void in his NASCAR Sprint Cup Series resume with a win Sunday in stock-car racing's longest event. Though he's entered Charlotte's Victory Lane as an All-Star conqueror back in 2000 and a winner in the preliminary Sprint Showdown in 2012, his career record stands at 0-for-30 in points-paying races at the 1.5-mile oval. "It's been on my list for a very long time," Earnhardt said Tuesday in a promotional appearance at the speedway. "This is our home track. We live 20, 30 minutes down the road and I've been coming here ever since I was a little kid, and have just dreamed of being able to go into Victory Circle here after that 600 and celebrate. Really working hard and I think we've got a great shot." Earnhardt's earliest memories of coming to the Charlotte track date back to 1981. He was just 6 years old at the time of that year's 600. Earnhardt said his family typically parked on the ridge associated with the track's infield road course, alongside longtime family friends the Eurys, and that he often spent his hours at the track playing by rolling scaled-down plastic Ertl-brand cars -- lookalikes to those driven by names like Allison and Yarborough -- down the hill. As vivid as those childhood remembrances were, Earnhardt's other lasting memories were watching his father -- inaugural NASCAR Hall of Fame class member and three-time Coca-Cola 600 winner Dale Earnhardt -- race in the family's virtual backyard and how difficult victories were to come by . It's a distant memory, but one that still holds true today. "It's such a tough race track," Earnhardt Jr. said. "I learned that watching Dad race here, year after year through the late '80s and into the '90s and it was always kind of a fickle, hit-and-miss kind of thing as far as the balance and the setup of the car and the speed that he would have. Sometimes he would show up and be able to really get relatively competitive and other times they would struggle." Earnhardt Jr.'s own Charlotte troubles have been well documented, none more so than his brush with tough luck in the 2011 running of the 600. In that May classic, the Hendrick Motorsports driver ran out of fuel on the final lap, prolonging a nearly three-year losing skid as Kevin Harvick skipped by for the checkered flag. Bad breaks aside, finding the proper handle might be the more elusive goal for Earnhardt, who has finished no better than third in points-paying events at Charlotte. "Just a real hard track to master as far as a setup and a balance of the race car goes, and it's always kind of been that way for me," Earnhardt Jr. said." We've had some good cars here and we've had some cars that've been a bit of a struggle with. Six hundred miles, so once you're strapped in that thing and it's not working, it's a long night." FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule