NASCAR.com's Holly Cain wins NMPA Spirit Award
DARLINGTON, S.C. -- Veteran motorsports writer Holly Cain has been chosen as the recipient of the National Motorsports Press Association’s annual Spirit Award for 2015. A resident of Lakeland, Fla., Cain has covered motorsports for more than 25 years during which time she has worked for numerous publications, including the Tampa Tribune, Dallas Morning News, Seattle Post-Intelligencer as well as AOL.com and FOXSports.com. Currently a senior writer for NASCAR.com, she has been recognized for her reporting on multiple occasions, earning awards from the Associated Press Sports Editors (APSE) and the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) as well as the NMPA. Diagnosed with breast cancer in July of 2014, Cain has shown tremendous courage and an incredibly positive attitude while engaged in her difficult battle. She has been a long-time supporter of the Susan B. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation and continues to participate in fundraising and other efforts to bring awareness to the fight against breast cancer. The NMPA Spirit Award is designed to recognize character and achievement in the face of adversity, sportsmanship and contributions to motorsports. Each year, the NMPA membership selects four quarterly winners, with an overall winner chosen from the four candidates. Cain was the second quarter recipient of the award. Others recognized with quarterly awards this past year were NASCAR television broadcaster Steve Byrnes (first quarter), IndyCar driver Justin Wilson (third quarter) and four-time premier series champion Jeff Gordon . Cain was presented the award Jan. 17 during the NMPA’s annual convention and awards dinner in Concord, N.C. Overall winners of the NMPA Spirit Award: Year – Recipient 2015 – Holly Cain 2014 – Lynda Petty 2013 – Marcy Scott 2012 – Andy Hillenburg 2011 – Jeff Gordon 2010 – Jim Hunter 2009 – David Poole 2008 – T. Taylor Warren 2007 – Bill France Jr. 2006 – Benny Parsons 2005 – Morgan Shepherd 2004 – Kyle and Pattie Petty 2003 – Bob Latford 2002 – Larry Hicks 2001 – Ricky Craven 2000 – Kyle Petty 1999 – Clay Earles 1998 – Mark Martin 1997 – Dave Marcis 1996 – Dale Earnhardt 1995 – Ernie Irvan 1994 – Ernie Irvan 1993 – Davey Allison and Alan Kulwicki 1992 – Davey Allison Family
Carolina Panthers' Greg Olsen to drive All-Star Race pace car
CONCORD, N.C. (April 26, 2016) -- While many in the professional football world are focused on the NFL Draft, Carolina Panthers Pro Bowl tight end Greg Olsen will lead a different kind of draft when he drives the Toyota Camry pace car prior to the unforgettable, action-packed May 21 NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race during the 10 Days of NASCAR Thunder at Charlotte Motor Speedway . "Since arriving in Charlotte I have developed a great admiration for NASCAR and their athletes," Olsen said. "Their concept of teamwork and commitment to excellence is second to none and I have a great deal of respect for the drivers and their teams. I am honored to be included in such an event and I am looking forward to driving the pace car to kick off the 2016 NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race." Olsen, one of the NFL's premier pass catchers, is no stranger to NASCAR. For the past two years, the Charlotte, North Carolina, resident has participated in fundraising efforts with NASCAR Sprint Cup Series superstar Dale Earnhardt Jr . to support The Dale Jr. Foundation and The Greg Olsen Foundation's HEARTest Yard campaign. Olsen has also attended race events at Charlotte Motor Speedway in the past, but never in a dignitary role. Last season, the veteran tight end earned his second Pro Bowl nod after recording a career-high 1,104 receiving yards and seven touchdowns. Olsen's efforts helped the Panthers finish with a franchise-best 15-1 record in a season that also saw Carolina advance to Super Bowl 50. Olsen joins linebacker Luke Kuechly as the second Panthers player in the last three years to pace the field prior to the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race, a battle among NASCAR's biggest stars for a $1 million prize and the sport's ultimate bragging rights. Frontstretch tickets to the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race start at just two for $99 and include a pre-race concert by triple-platinum recording artist Andy Grammer. Fans can purchase tickets, camping and race-day upgrades to the entire 10 Days of NASCAR Thunder at Charlotte Motor Speedway by calling 1-800-455-FANS (3267) or shopping online at www.charlottemotorspeedway.com .
The Chili Bowl has a way of reeling us in
TULSA, Okla. -- Justin Allgaier drove his race car to his hauler after being eliminated at the Chili Bowl one Saturday years ago and was met by his questioning father. His dad wanted to know what had happened out on the race track. Justin had driven a conservative race, never challenging for position, and allowing, it appeared, other cars to pass him without putting up much of a fight. He had missed transferring to the next race by one spot. With even a little bit of aggression, Justin would have certainly finished higher and gone on to the next race. What, his dad wanted to know, had happened? Still in the cockpit, Justin explained to his dad that the steering was out. To prove it, he spun the wheel. The tires stayed locked, pointed straight ahead. His dad was baffled then, and he remains so today. The question changed from why had Justin driven such a timid race to how had he driven at all? The Allgaiers set up their midget car to drive in a circle if he holds the wheel straight. They hang the body closer to the left-side tires and use smaller tires on the left than on the right -- a configuration for the Chili Bowl's quarter-mile banked track. In the 10-lap race, Allgaier was involved in an accident on the first lap. As he pulled away from the wreck, he realized the steering was broken. He also discovered that if he feathered the brake and the throttle just right, he could circumnavigate the track anyway. For the final nine laps, Allgaier did exactly that. He didn't do well, not by a long shot. But he did well enough that his dad did not know he had no steering until he said so. All of which leaves still one more question -- why did Allgaier stay in a race in which the steering didn't work? "Because it's the Chili Bowl," Allgaier said.
Interviewing Andy Lally ... using voice-to-text
@nascarcasm chats with XFINITY Series driver, gets interesting results RELATED: All content from @nascarcasm " Follow @nascarcasm 2011 Sprint Cup Rookie of the Year Andy Lally returns to the NASCAR circuit this weekend, driving the No. 90 Anderson’s Maple Syrup Chevrolet for King Autosport/SS-Greenlight Racing in the XFINITY Series race at Road America . A veteran sports-car driver with an impressive resume that includes multiple wins in the Rolex 24 at Daytona, Lally hope to improve on last year’s seventh-place finish at at the Wisconsin road course. In the rare moments when he’s not behind the wheel of a race car, Lally trains in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, and is a practicing vegan. We had the opportunity to speak with Andy Lally using only the voice-to-text feature on our smartphones. (NOTE: Unlike previous fictitious text conversations from the author, what follows is the actual exchange with Mr. Lally.)
Lynda Petty named 2014 NMPA Spirit Award winner
Founding member of the Racing Wives Auxiliary honored posthumously
NASCAR Illustrated Champions Tour: Andy Seuss
NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour Champion Andy Seuss talks about his climb to the top of the Whelen Southern Modified ranks.
Myers Brothers Awards: Andy Lally
Andy Lally accepts the 2011 Rookie of the Year Award.
Fan voting opens for 2016 Sprint All-Star Race
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (April 5, 2016) -- NASCAR fans once again have the power to put a driver of their choice in the 2016 NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race. The Sprint Fan Vote is now open, and will send one of 30 drivers into the annual star-studded event on May 21 at Charlotte Motor Speedway . The race will be broadcast live at 7 p.m. ET, on FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. Fans can vote their favorite Sprint Fan Vote-eligible driver into the all-star race by casting votes daily now through 7 p.m. ET on Friday, May 20. Votes shared via Facebook and/or Twitter will count double toward a driver’s total. Fans can vote daily with a maximum of one vote per day per unique email address by downloading the NASCAR MOBILE application or visiting www.nascar.com/SprintFanVote. Among the drivers vying for votes are Danica Patrick -- the first two-time Sprint Fan vote winner (2013, 2015) -- and Sunoco Rookie of the Year candidates Chris Buescher , Ryan Blaney , Chase Elliott and Brian Scott . The 30 drivers (as of April 5) eligible for the Sprint Fan Vote are AJ Allmendinger , Aric Almirola , Michael Annett , Trevor Bayne , Greg Biffle , Ryan Blaney , Clint Bowyer , Chris Buescher , Landon Cassill , Matt DiBenedetto , Austin Dillon , Ty Dillon , Chase Elliott , David Gilliland , Bobby Labonte , Kyle Larson , Michael McDowell , Casey Mears , Paul Menard , Danica Patrick , David Ragan , Robert Richardson Jr., Brian Scott , Regan Smith , Reed Sorenson , Ricky Stenhouse Jr ., Brian Vickers , Michael Waltrip , Cole Whitt and Josh Wise . The winner of the Sprint Fan Vote will be announced in Victory Lane following the conclusion of the Sprint Showdown at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Friday, May 20 (7 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). Any eligible Sprint Fan Vote driver who wins a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race during the 2016 season will automatically earn a spot in the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race and the driver’s name will be removed from the Sprint Fan Vote ballot with their existing votes voided. To engage in the #SprintAllStar Race conversation throughout the #SprintFanVote window, fans are encouraged to follow @MissSprintCup , @CLTMotorSpdwy and @NASCAR on Twitter. Ticket packages for the entire NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race weekend including the Sprint Showdown, Camping World Truck Series N.C. Education Lottery 200, Andy Grammer pre-race concert powered by Rayovac, NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race qualifying and the 32nd running of the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race start at just $99. Fans can obtain tickets by calling Charlotte Motor Speedway at 1-800-455-FANS or visiting CharlotteMotorSpeedway.com .
NASCAR drivers ready to put Rolex in rearview mirror
RELATED: Best photos from Rolex 24 DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- The weekend's Rolex 24 at Daytona was certainly rare of late, in that none of the current NASCAR drivers entered in the great sports car race hoisted an overall winner's trophy. Since Casey Mears became the first full-time Sprint Cup Series driver to score an overall victory in this event in 2006 -- NASCAR drivers have won five more grand Rolex titles, including team owner Chip Ganassi's head-turning sixth overall victory last year. XFINITY Series driver Brendan Gaughan was NASCAR's highest finisher this year, his No. 20 ORECA FLM09 finishing third in the PC class; nine laps behind the class winner and eight laps ahead of the next car in class; 43 laps down to the overall winner. "It was a lot of fun to come back to the 24 -- my average finish is 2 now (he won in GT3 Class in 2011) so I either retire now or come back for another Rolex,’" Gaughan said. "Such a great event and what an honor to be here." Former NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Rookie of the Year (2011) Andy Lally claimed his fifth class win in the GTD classification. But as is sometimes the case in this 24-hour endurance test, some of NASCAR's biggest names didn't end up hoisting trophies, instead finding the value in turning laps on the speedway to feel prepped and ready come stock car's version of Speedweeks here in two weeks. "I'm spending Tuesday with my new spotter and we're going to watch speedway races and intermediate tracks and go over what we expect of each other,'' 2015 race winner Jamie McMurray said. "Once this race is over, your focus just goes to your real job (in NASCAR)." The defending overall Rolex race winning team of McMurray and co-drivers Kyle Larson , IndyCar champion Scott Dixon and former Indy 500 winner Tony Kanaan finished 13th overall, 28 laps down after a crash with approximately three hours remaining thwarted any chance of a podium finish. Larson was driving when the car suffered its second major brake problem of the race, launching the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Rookie of the Year straight into a tire barrier at substantial speed. "That one time, it locked early and wasn't slowing down and I didn't make the corner and I drilled the barriers," Larson said, assuring that he was fine physically. "I've never hit anything like that so I was just hoping it would be soft. It was pretty soft. I'm not hurting at all. Glad I'm going to be here in two weeks in a stock car." His No. 02 Ford prototype suffered multiple nagging problems throughout its title defense this week, forcing time off track to repair and the laps lost -- even earlier in the event -- proved too much to overcome. Still, they finished seventh in class. NASCAR driver AJ Allmendinger was scored 50th in the 54-car field. His No. 60 Honda prototype -- which won the 50th anniversary of this race four years ago -- suffered engine failure about nine and a half hours into the 24-hour affair. The Michael Shank Racing team had hoped to score a victory in honor of their longtime driver Justin Wilson, who was killed competing in an IndyCar race last season. And while the overall race winning Honda team will duly and deservedly earn the world's headlines this week, the new look Daytona International Speedway will also be talked about for a great while. RELATED: Larson, McMurray react to Daytona renovations It proved a wonderful venue for the Rolex and will be packed with fans and VIPs in only two weeks as NASCAR takes over for its 2016 edition of Speedweeks. Having some time to check out the $400 million speedway makeover this week, the drivers were impressed and enthused about the new-look facility. And track executives couldn't be more ready to introduce it to the NASCAR crowd. "The Rolex 24 is a unique event but the focus has always been on the infield,'' Daytona International Speedway President Joie Chitwood said. "We're so excited that Daytona Rising and the Rolex 24 has given fans a chance to check out the concourses, sight lines and seats, but with NASCAR coming to town, we know all the grandstand amenities on the other side of the stadium will be put to their fullest tests because we'll get maximum capacity. "So all those great NASCAR fans that never get a chance to get into the infield are going to enjoy the Daytona 500 and the events with all the great things on the outside -- 1,400 screens, we've got wifi in all concourses, vertical transportation, social zones, you name it. "That's when we'll put the Daytona International Speedway to a true test when we're at max capacity with all those NASCAR fans during Speedweeks."
No. 2 Tequila Patron ESM wins Rolex 24 at Daytona
RELATED: Photos from Rolex 24 at Daytona DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Appropriately enough, after 24 hours of seemingly non-stop action, the fastest car still running was the overall winner of the Rolex 24 at Daytona. Luis Felipe "Pipo" Derani, a baby-faced 22-year-old racing prodigy from Brazil, took the checkered flag on Sunday afternoon in the No. 2 Tequila Patron ESM Honda-powered Ligier JS P2, 26.166 seconds ahead of 2005 overall winner Max Angelleli in the No. 10 Wayne Taylor Racing Corvette DP. Derani brought home victory for teammates Scott Sharp, a Rolex 24 winner in 1996 (partnered, coincidentally, with Wayne Taylor), Ed Brown and Johannes van Overbeek. Derani, who also gave Honda its first win in the season-opening event in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, is the fourth youngest overall winner of the race. "The last two-and-a-half hours were pretty tough, pretty intense, with the Taylor brothers (Ricky and Jordan in the No. 10) pushing us really hard," Derani said. "So to not make any mistakes and increase the gap up to the end was amazing." In the factory-backed GT Le Mans Class, Oliver Gavin held off Corvette Racing teammate Antonio Garcia in a side-by-side battle at the stripe to win the classification by .034 seconds in the No. 4 Corvette C7.R. With two laps left, Garcia passed Gavin to the outside in the tri-oval, but with a deft crossover move, Gavin retook the top spot as the cars entered Turn 1. "To race against Antonio is a pleasure," Gavin said. "He's an amazing teammate, and I knew I was going to have my work cut out to beat him." In GT Daytona, Magnus Racing's Rene Rast nursed his No. 44 Audi R8 LMS GT3 to the finish line to hold off Nicky Catsburg in the No. 540 Porsche GT3 R by 3.048 seconds. Rast's co-drivers were John Potter, Marco Seefried and 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Sunoco rookie of the year Andy Lally , who picked up his fifth class win (and fourth in a GT car) in the Rolex 24. In a gut-wrenching late-race decision by the team, Rast let the No. 28 Lamborghini Huracan GT3 driven by Fabio Babini pass him with eight minutes left, calculating the Lamborghini wouldn't be able to finish the race on fuel. The gamble paid off. But the Audi was short on fuel, too. Rast ran out of gas on the backstretch after taking the checkered flag. "This means my little sister gets a watch," said Lally, who has won a total of eight Rolexes (and given six of the previous seven away) with his five class wins and three series titles. "This was teamwork. This was amazing. ... "We were the little engine that could today. We probably had the slowest top speeds of everybody, but we had a really good-handling car, and we had superstars that were driving this thing who were my teammates." Chris Miller, Stephen Simpson, Misha Goikhberg and Kenton Koch drove the No. 85 JDC-Miller Motorsports Chevrolet-powered ORECA FLM 09 to a convincing four-lap victory in the Prototype Challenge class. Finishing third in PC, nine laps down was the pole-winning No. 20 BAR1 Motorsports team that included full-time NASCAR driver Brendan Gaughan . The No. 60 Michael Shank Racing Ligier JS P2 was the equal of the overall race winner, if not better, but engine failure in the eighth hour sidelined the entry piloted by NASCAR driver AJ Allmendinger , Oswaldo Negri, John Pew and Olivier Pla. In fact, soon after Allmendinger turned over the car to Negri as the clock approached midnight on Saturday, the car expired while leading. The defending overall champion No. 02 Ford Chip Ganassi Racing Prototype raced by NASCAR drivers Jamie McMurray and Kyle Larson and IndyCar stars Scott Dixon and Tony Kanaan suffered brake problems while running second and lost five laps in the eighth hour. But the coup de grace to the team's hopes for back-to-back wins came with 2 hours 50 minutes left, when Larson went off course in the West Hairpin and slammed nose-first into the tire barrier. Again, brakes were the culprit. "The four laps previous we started getting brake issues again," Larson said afterward. "They said it looked like I had just lost all my rear brake, but it was locking my fronts up pretty easy, so I started braking really early. ... "It didn't slow down enough to make the corner, and I drilled the barrier. We didn't have a shot to win anyway, but it does suck that we tore up a race car, and I'm disappointed." The car left the track on a roll-back (though it did return after repairs), but Larson was unhurt in the crash. Now he can turn his attention to his full-time job, competing in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in the No. 42 Ganassi Racing Chevrolet. "I'm going toward the tire barriers really fast, and you're just like, 'I've never hit anything like that,' " Larson said. "So I was just kind of hoping it was going to be soft. It was pretty soft. I don't even remember anything hurting at all or whiplash or nothing. "I'm glad I'm going to be here in two weeks in a stock car." Note: As soon as the race was over, Angelelli was taken to a local hospital for observation and evaluation. Specific information about his condition was not available, other than that Angelelli was "conscious and stable."