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Gray Gaulding to drive for BK Racing in 2017
RELATED: Full list of 2017 full-time rides RICHMOND, V.A. (January 24, 2017) -- BK Racing is excited to announce that 18 year-old Gray Gaulding will pilot the No. 23 Toyota Camry in the 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series . The team made the announcement today at Richmond International Raceway , home track to BK Racing and Gaulding. Gaulding has been competing in some form of racing since the age of three. Gaulding's rookie season in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series in 2013 started with a bang with a 2nd place finish in the inaugural Battle at the Beach on the Daytona International Speedway 's back straightaway. Gaulding's impressive three year stint in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East and West included 13 top-five finishes, 25 top-tens, and three pole awards. His first pole award was here at RIR in 2013, making Gaulding the youngest driver to do so at 15 years, 2 months, and 15 days. That same year, Gaulding picked up a win at Phoenix International Raceway making him the youngest driver to win in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West at 15 years, 8 months, and 30 days. Gaulding was named as a member of the 2013-2014 NASCAR Next Class, an overachieving industry initiative to help spotlight NASCAR's rising stars and bolster fan recognition around talent that will grow into Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series mainstays. He was in the same class as fellow stand-out drivers Chase Elliott and Daniel Suárez. In 2014-2015, Gaulding moved up to the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series where he made 13 starts with one top-five and two top ten finishes. In 2016, Gaulding furthered his career by making starts in both the NASCAR Xfinity Series and the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup series. "When I first walked into the BK Racing shop I felt at home, it has the perfect mixture of corporate America and the old-school race shop feeling," said Gaulding. "Everyone was elbows deep preparing for Daytona, Atlanta, Las Vegas and the entire season. Ron Devine has invested a lot of time, effort, and equity into BK Racing and it shows as you walk the shop floor. To be back with Toyota is great, I've kept a great relationship with them and they’re a great technical partner. I can’t wait to get behind the wheel and represent everyone at BK Racing and our partners that allow us to be at the track." "I got involved with NASCAR and in ownership the middle of last year because of the opportunity to be a part of the life of a gifted young man, Gray Gaulding ," said Steve Lynn, CEO of GGR Enterprises. "I am honored and pleased that he and we are now partnering with BK Racing . Ron Devine and his BK Racing team are an outstanding place for Gray to grow and learn, as he continues his rise in this wonderful sport." "Over the years, BK Racing has given many talented young drivers the chance to compete in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series and make a name for themselves," said Ron Devine, owner of BK Racing . "We see Gray Gaulding as a potential superstar in our sport." Gaulding's first race in the No. 23 will be the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on March 5, 2017. The team will announce sponsorship for Gaulding at a later date. </p>
BK Racing shuffle: Ragan, DiBenedetto won't return
BK Racing will have a significant overhaul to its driver lineup for 2017 with announcements on consecutive days that primary drivers David Ragan and Matt DiBenedetto would not return to the team next season. DiBenedetto, touting the promise of an exciting announcement in the future, announced Thursday night on Twitter that he would not return to the Charlotte-based team. Ragan's departure was the next bit of news, with the Ron Devine-owned organization confirming that transition Friday afternoon. I've decided to go in a different direction next year. Exciting announcements coming soon. It's been a great ride @BKRacing_2383 Thank you! — Matthew DiBenedetto (@mattdracing) December 8, 2016 In two years with the organization, DiBenedetto logged 68 starts with one top-10 finish. That finish, in April 2016 at Bristol, was a sixth-place result -- he finished one spot ahead of 2014 champion Kevin Harvick -- and resulted in an emotional, memorable on-air interview. "I can only say so much at this time," DiBenedetto said Thursday night on SiriusXM Radio. "I've been in talks with BK , and no hard feelings. I'm appreciative of everything they've given me. … Just kind of evaluating the team situation for next year. From my end there's a little too much unknown, so I just had to make that decision. I'm excited about what the future has to hold here still, and obviously everyone will have to stay tuned." Devine confirmed DiBenedetto's parting through a statement released later Thursday evening. "Our 33rd- and 34th-place finishes this year did not produce the results we were hoping to achieve," Devine said. "I am, however, very proud of Matt DiBenedetto and his many accomplishments over the past two years. He is a wonderful driver and a special person. I am confident that Matt will go on to be a very successful NASCAR driver, and I believe it is the right time to release him so that he can pursue other opportunities. "Myself and everyone at BK Racing wishes Matt all the best in his future endeavors. I am looking forward to much success for both Matt and BK Racing ." Devine struck a similar tone in his statement on Ragan's release, hinting at measures to better its results next season. " BK Racing has agreed not to renew David Ragan 's contract for next year," Devine said. "Everyone wishes David the best of luck in his career. BK Racing will continue to restructure as an ongoing effort to improve our on-track performance ... and we will be announcing our 2017 driver lineup in the near future." DiBenedetto and Ragan were the primary drivers for BK Racing in 2016, but the organization also fielded Toyotas in spot duty for Jeffrey Earnhardt , Ryan Ellis , Dylan Lupton , Robert Richardson Jr., and Michael Waltrip. The team has been full time in NASCAR's premier series since 2012, when it debuted as a two-car outfit with drivers Landon Cassill and Travis Kvapil . Ragan, 31, has two victories in NASCAR's top division since he began full-time competition in 2007. He won at Daytona International Speedway driving for Roush Fenway Racing in July 2011 and handed Front Row Motorsports its first victory at Talladega Superspeedway in May 2013. Ragan finished 33rd in the final standings in his only season for BK Racing . His most recent top-10 finish was in March 2015 in a fill-in role for the injured Kyle Busch in Joe Gibbs Racing 's No. 18 Toyota. DiBenedetto missed one race in 2016, at Texas Motor Speedway in November, after not being medically cleared following a wreck in the NASCAR XFINITY Series the day prior. He was cleared from concussion protocol in time for the next race. DiBenedetto, 25, also has 68 career starts in the XFINITY Series. &amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;gt;
Joey Gase to drive in Daytona 500 for BK Racing
BK Racing has announced a multiple race partnership with Best Home Furnishings to sponsor the No. 23 BK Racing Toyota Camry with driver, Joey Gase . The Best Home Furnishings Toyota will be on track at the Daytona 500 in February, the night race at Bristol Motor Speedway and additional races throughout the 2017 season. The Daytona 500 will be Gase's first race with BK Racing . "We're thrilled to have Joey and Best Home Furnishings, one of the largest furniture manufacturers, join us for the Daytona 500 in February," said BK Racing team owner Ron Devine. "It is the largest race of our series and a wonderful event for Joey to debut his BK Racing relationship. We've been watching Joey's growth for quite some time and looking forward to seeing what he can do behind the wheel of a BK Race car." "I cannot put into words how thankful I am for the opportunity everyone at Best Home Furnishings and BK Racing has given me," said driver Joey Gase . " Racing in the Daytona 500 and the Bristol night race has been a dream of mine since I can remember. It's very exciting to share this experience with everyone at Best Home Furnishings and those who have helped me get to this point in my career." Best Home Furnishings is becoming one of the largest furniture manufacturers in the world. With five locations throughout the US and over 1,000 employees they have a very simple theme, make the best quality product at the most affordable price. "We are thrilled to be partnering with BK Racing and Joey Gase ," said Glenn Lange, CEO of Best Home Furnishings. "Joey is a young, energetic and up-and-coming driver who has shown to be competitive from an early age. His heavy involvement with the non-profit, Donate Life exemplifies our shared values and passion to exude excellence in all facets of our business and personal lives." "Our family has been involved with the collection of classic and sports cars for decades. To have our company's name as a primary sponsor on a Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series car is a dream come true," said Lange. The decision for Best Home Furnishing to enter the sport of NASCAR was quite simple. "NASCAR has some of the most loyal, passionate fan bases amongst the major U.S. sports scenes," Lange said. "The cross section of this fan base also happens to align with our desirable furniture demographic." Gase sums up this relationship perfectly, stating, "It is awesome to say I will be 1 of the 40 drivers in the world racing in the 2017 Daytona 500 driving for BK Racing and Best Home Furnishings." &amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;gt;
Matt DiBenedetto talks about decision to part from BK Racing
Matt DiBenedetto speaks with SiriusXM NASCAR about his decision to part ways with BK Racing , and what his future looks like for 2017.
LaJoie, Kennington race way into Daytona 500 field
BUY TICKETS: See the Daytona 500 live! RELATED: Projected lineup DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Corey LaJoie and DJ Kennington clinched berths in their first Daytona 500 , both racing their way into the field in Thursday night's qualifying races at Daytona International Speedway . LaJoie, 25, will make just his third start in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series in Sunday's race (Feb. 26, 2 p.m. ET, FOX, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). Kennington, a 39-year-old Canadian veteran, also showed his emotions after qualifying for the "Great American Race," just his second start in NASCAR's big leagues.
Get history of BK Racing and full crews
Bristol was 'sixth-place victory' for DiBenedetto, BK Racing
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Matt DiBenedetto 's best day in NASCAR's top series nearly ended with the ultimate buzzkill. Driving back Sunday from Bristol Motor Speedway after salting away a career-best sixth-place finish and becoming the provisional leader for feel-good story of the season, the 24-year-old driver saw flashing blue lights not far from his home in Hickory, North Carolina. "Ah, dang, that sucks after a good day,' " DiBenedetto recalled thinking as he pulled to the side of the road. But DiBenedetto didn't think he was over the posted speed limit, a notion that was confirmed when law enforcement approached him. "The cop comes up to me and says, 'Hey, I have one question for you: I just want to know why you were going so darn slow?'" DiBenedetto said. "So then I realized it was a prank." The best of pranks as it turns out. The second-year driver for BK Racing drove the rest of the way with a police escort and with his parents following him home, where he expected a small, muted observance of his stirring Sunday drive. That didn't happen, either, not with the secretive planning of sponsor and close chum Constantine "Cosmo" Kogan, who rallied DiBenedetto's circle of friends into a boisterous welcoming committee, complete with party favors and uncorked bubbly. "There were probably 30-40 people out in our neighborhood," DiBenedetto said with a smile Monday from his BK Racing shop in north Charlotte. "Silly string everywhere. My car was covered. Champagne, the little party popper things -- it was out of control. It was absolutely hilarious. Only my friends, that's just cool to see how much they care and they were all so excited." DiBenedetto's hard-fought sixth-place finish made its own viral turn Sunday, thanks not only to the underdog rooting interest for one of the circuit's smaller teams but also for the unabashed emotion that the driver showed in post-race interviews. As he watched his family wipe away tears off camera, the tremble in his voice became more pronounced. "I couldn't quite hold back the emotion," DiBenedetto said. "I would be lying if I said that I was fighting off the tears, but unfortunately just couldn't hold it back. That was a dream come true for me. I know it wasn't a first-place finish, but for us that was like a win to finish up there in sixth in the Cup Series, which I've dreamed of racing in since I was 5 years old. Just to be here in the first place is a dream come true." Living dreams Making it to the sport's big leagues seemed like destiny, but so often fate takes the curvier road. DiBenedetto seemed earmarked for stock-car racing glory early on as part of the first NASCAR Next class in 2011, then called the NASCAR Next 9. What followed after a successful first season in the K&N Pro Series was a hodgepodge of spot duty in the XFINITY Series, sitting in the driver's seat one week and out the next. "It seem like it's all kind of gone by in a blur," DiBenedetto said. "I was racing K&N, part of the NASCAR Next and then thought my career was done five times in between then and now. It's been so up and down so many times. For me to be here, it's still surreal to think back." Opportunity for DiBenedetto meant pounding the phones and knocking on doors. His big break came shortly before the 2015 season in the form of a race-to-race agreement with BK Racing owner Ron Devine. DiBenedetto said Devine took a substantial chance in hiring a driver without Sprint Cup experience, but the risk was modestly rewarded -- the week-to-week deal turned into a full season with just one DNF and a return invitation for 2016. "Being a rookie in Sprint Cup is way tougher than I gave it credit for," DiBenedetto said of the learning experience. "It's just a whole different level of racing . You have to be so perfect at every single thing you do, down to the level of not losing a half-second on pit road. You have to drive your tail off every single lap of the race to make sure you stay on the lead lap -- everything." Driving his tail off makes for a suitable description of Sunday's spirited drive at Bristol. Carl Edwards captured the checkered flag and punctuated his celebration with his trademark backflip, but he was also head over heels about DiBenedetto's accomplishments, saying, "They finished sixth? Man, that's unbelievable. That's probably tougher than what we did." The driver of the No. 83 Toyota wasn't about to draw a direct comparison with Edwards' feat, but was quick to spread the credit for a banner day among his BK Racing shopmates. "To win in the Sprint Cup Series among the 40 best is incredibly difficult and that takes an amazing amount of talent like Carl Edwards has," DiBenedetto said. "I don't know if I want to say it was harder than what he did, but we're definitely proud of what we did. I'm more proud of all the guys that work on the team, proud of my crew chief … I'm just more proud of my guys, not myself. They're the ones that deserve that good of a finish. They're the ones that are working late nights and dedicating their lives to doing best job they can and putting a good race car underneath me. "It is lot of hard work like Carl did say. That's a total team effort. That's a lot of hard work by my guys. I was just happy to be the one holding the steering wheel and able to drive it up there for them." The camaraderie among the tight-knit group is what made BK Racing 's post-race cheer all the more jubilant with hugs all around. That celebration spread to the shop Monday, with DiBenedetto springing for pizza during the team's lunch break. "A lot of that emotion is shared by this whole team," said Ryan "Frenchie" Dubois, in his second year as BK Racing 's general manager. "We work really hard here and face a lot of obstacles that a lot of other teams aren't faced with. For us to overcome those obstacles and come out of there with a sixth-place victor-, er, sixth-place finish, it's like a victory for the team right now and what we're trying to do for the future." Dubois caught himself, but "sixth-place victory" has a certain ring to it. "To jump to sixth was great," he added. "If we can back that up next week, that'll be a Cinderella story for sure. We just want to be consistent, do everything right. We've got fast cars this year, that's the positive thing. We've got the right people in place, and it's about putting everything together. Once we do all that, we'll get those outcomes more often than not." It's an opinion shared by veteran crew chief Gene Nead, who began working with DiBenedetto in the second half of last season and was atop the pit box for nine Camping World Truck Series victories with Ted Musgrave at the wheel from 2002-05. "It's a definite David and Goliath story, you know what I mean, for a team this small without enough proper funding," Nead said. "You walk out in the shop, there's 60 people. You go into Gibbs', there's 600. It's pretty hard to do what you did with 10 percent of their people." Basking in Bristol Fittingly enough, DiBenedetto was savoring the moment before ever turning a lap Sunday. The California native decided to have some fun with Bristol Motor Speedway 's unique system of drivers selecting their own music for pre-race introductions, taking a page from his wedding reception last August. During his reception, each member of the wedding party selected their own entrance music. His father's comedic take, entering to ZZ Top's "Sharp-Dressed Man" in full beard, hat, sunglasses and guitar, clearly resonated. With his dad's permission, DiBenedetto reprised the role Sunday with gusto, donning the full costume and earning some of the biggest pre-race laughs. "You've got to enjoy it every step of the way, you've got to do fun stuff," DiBenedetto said. "That's what the fans want to see and to get them riled up before the race. That's what it's about." That spirit has been contagious, one that's extended to all corners of the BK Racing shop and that's helped boost the team's morale. "With Matt, for one his attitude is always positive," Dubois said. "He's a very humble driver and very appreciative of the opportunity that he has. We've seen from the beginning with him that he's constantly improved. He's not plateaued like some other drivers have and so we're constantly building with him. We think he's the future of our team and yesterday was a perfect example of what we see, and hopefully everybody else was able to see that, too." Plenty did, based on the outpouring of support on social media and the congratulations he's received privately from well-wishers. DiBenedetto pulled out his phone to show 202 text messages he hadn't had time to respond to, part of the 300-plus pings he estimated he'd accumulated in less than 24 hours. This season's most improbable finish at one of the series' toughest tracks gave DiBenedetto more than TV time, a police escort and a silly-string serenade. It also gave him the rewarding feeling that comes with taking a dark-horse team into the stratosphere usually reserved for the sport's heavyweights. That's why sixth on Sunday meant so much. "Just because we've worked so hard to get here," DiBenedetto said. "To do this without any major funding behind me or family money or anything of that nature, to do it just based on hard work and what teams thought I could do behind the wheel, that's nearly unheard of. To fight that hard and to get here makes you appreciate it that much more."
BK Racing unveils Darlington schemes for Ragan, DiBenedetto
RELATED: Buy Darlington tickets " '16 throwback schemes SHOP: No. 23 gear A NASCAR 'Throwback' weekend at Darlington Raceway and two Toyota Camrys serve as the perfect canvas for Dr Pepper and Orange Crush to pay homage to their history. David Ragan's No. 23 Dr Pepper paint scheme will echo the iconic "I'm a Pepper" look that we grew up with. Matt DiBenedetto's No. 83 is going to stand out in the Orange Crush paint scheme from the 70s. "We're proud to have both Dr Pepper and Orange Crush featured on our cars for the Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway," said BK Racing owner Ron Devine. "Dr Pepper has been such a loyal partner of ours and we are thrilled to have them bring Orange Crush along for such an iconic race." "We're thrilled to partner with NASCAR and BK Racing in remembering our heritage," says Derek Dabrowski, Senior Director of Brand Marketing for Crush and Dr Pepper. " 'I'm a Pepper' remains one of the most iconic slogans and jingles in U.S. advertising history, and it's a great source of pride for 'Peppers' everywhere. We're looking forward to honoring it with NASCAR fans during this throwback weekend." "We're also excited to pay tribute to the rich heritage of Orange Crush," continues Dabrowski. "We hope by showing off the brand's throwback creative we can tap into the nostalgic feelings race spectators and our longtime Crush fans have for the brand." During the weeks leading up to the race, BK Racing's social media will throwback to the history of the Dr Pepper brand. Fans can participate by using the hashtag #ImAPepper. Fans who participate will be entered to win autographed merchandise. The contest will run from August 18 through the Darlington race weekend.
Waltrip wrestles with emotions as he preps for his last Daytona 500
BUY TICKETS: See the Daytona 500 live! RELATED: Waltrip's Daytona moments " Daytona schedule DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- He's still just "Margaret and Leroy's little boy," but Michael Waltrip is pushing 54 and Sunday he'll be making his final start in the Daytona 500 . "I just thought it was a cool place to run my last race," Waltrip said during Wednesday's annual media day at Daytona International Speedway . It will be his 30th start in a race and at a place that still generates a wide range of emotions for the Owensboro, Kentucky, native. His record of futility was a solid 462 races heading into the 2001 Daytona 500 when he finally made it to Victory Lane in his first start for Dale Earnhardt Inc. Jubilation was short-lived. In a race that crowned a new Daytona 500 champion, the sport lost one of its biggest figures -- team owner and seven-time champion Dale Earnhardt. Waltrip, the younger brother of NASCAR Hall of Fame driver Darrell Waltrip, won the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series biggest race again in 2003. He won the summer race at Daytona in '02 and the fall stop at Talladega the following year. "I try not to get reflective or nostalgic because it's too emotional," he said of his Daytona memories. "Mostly I just think about getting to race the car. Obviously I have faced the range of emotions that humans probably aren't designed to face and it all probably happened within 10 seconds, so that's hard to think about. "But I love coming to Daytona, I've been coming here since I was a kid, so every time you talk about coming to Daytona I get a big smile on my face which is crazy but that's racing I guess." Outside the car, he works as a NASCAR analyst for FOX "and I've got great teammates there," he said. For 32 years he's made at least one start in the series -- the last time he ran a full schedule was '09. He will suit up for a final time with help from long-time sponsor Aaron's -- they've been with him in some form or fashion for nearly two decades -- and Premium Motorsports owner Jay Robinson in the team's No. 15 Toyota . "When we ran last year's Daytona 500 (with BK Racing ) it didn't go well," he said. "We didn't run good and I guess we got in a little bit of a fender-bender and messed up the car. I didn't want to quit like that. So I went to Talladega (with Premium) and we got a 12th-place finish, ran up front a little bit. "Then I decided we would try to have one more competitive run down here. You've got to quit sometime." For Waltrip, sometime comes Sunday. "When we close the books on this it will say 11 XFINITY Series wins and one Camping World Truck win and it will definitely say four Monster Energy NASCAR Cup wins, maybe it will say five," he said. "But I qualified 35th so unless our strategy is we've got 'em right where we want 'em … we might be in a little bit of trouble on this one. "But I'm looking forward to trying." &amp;lt;/p&amp;gt;
DiBenedetto returns to No. 83 for BK Racing
RELATED: Driver Tracker " Offseason moves HUNTERSVILLE, NC (January 25, 2016) - After making his NASCAR Sprint Cup debut with BK Racing in 2015, Matt DiBenedetto will return to pilot the No. 83 Toyota Camry in 2016. Veteran crew chief Gene Nead will return atop the pit box for the 83 team. "Last year I learned a lot from everyone here at BK Racing and I'm looking forward to having a full notebook heading into the season," DiBenedetto said. "Ron, Gene and the team have put in a lot of work over the offseason and we are all looking forward to Daytona." "We're excited to have Matt back with us for 2016," said Devine. "We were very pleased with the progress he made throughout his rookie season and we look forward to continuing down that path." Dustless Blasting Returning to BK Racing for 2016, Dustless Blasting will sponsor Matt DiBenedetto and the No. 83 car in the upcoming Daytona 500 and for multiple races this season. Known as the fastest, most cost effective surface preparation tool on the market, Dustless Blasting's system can remove virtually any type of coating from most substrates very quickly and without creating heat or a dust plume. Benny LeCompte, owner of MMLJ, Inc. is proud to say "this is our third year working with BK Racing through sponsoring key races, like the season opener at the Daytona 500 , for the number 83 car and Matt DiBenedetto ." Dustless Blasting is an MMLJ Inc. Company. The original manufacturer of blast equipment, and still the only to offer lifetime warranty on tank assemblies. Built in America with quality. Cosmo Motors Returns Cosmo Motors returns to the 83 for multiple races in 2016. A family owned and operated business in Hickory, North Carolina, Cosmo Motors is well known for their large selection of high-end vehicles. "We at Cosmo Motors are beyond excited to rejoin BK Racing and Matt DiBenedetto as a sponsor on the No 83 Toyota again for the 2016 race season," said Cosmo Kogan, owner of Cosmo Motors. "We're a smaller family run car dealership in Hickory, North Carolina and are very humbled by the ability to be a part of such a great sport, team, and driver. "Last year was our first year sponsoring a car in NASCAR. It was an amazing experience. Not just working with the team and the driver but overall the entire experience was on a whole other level. We are really looking forward to the upcoming season as we embark on another extraordinary season with Matt and BK Racing ."