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Being a crew chief 'the next best thing' for Kendrick
RELATED: Complete schedule " See the series standings STATESVILLE, N.C. – There's a huge difference between going fast and racing. Chad Kendrick says he was very good at the former, but the latter took some time to figure out. Today, the split-second decisions he makes come from atop the pit box, where Kendrick is crew chief for driver Daniel Hemric and the No. 19 Ford of Brad Keselowski Racing in NASCAR's Camping World Truck Series. But there was a time at South Boston Speedway when the Late Models were hauling the mail around the 4/10th-mile oval … "It was the best race I was ever having," Kendrick, a native of Durham, North Carolina, said recently. "I was running fifth and Denny was leading. He spun or did something and had to go to the back." "Denny," of course, was Denny Hamlin , this year's Daytona 500 champion and winner of 27 NASCAR premier series races for Joe Gibbs Racing . "He drove right back through the field," Kendrick said. "I'm fourth now (after Hamlin went to the rear); he catches me and he's not wasting time; he just knocks me out of the way. I was so mad … my tongue's hanging out and I'm giving it everything I've got and this kid is just gone. And I can't catch him." Hamlin, Kendrick and a host of others cut their racing teeth on tracks such as South Boston, trying to race their way out of anonymity. South Boston and Langley and Orange County and Southern National have helped make stars and have just as likely crushed dreams. Hamlin might have had a better car on this particular day. But he might have had something else as well. "It kind of hit me then – 'Alright, I don’t have what they have,'" Kendrick said. "I can go run a good lap. But I can't run that lap 150 (times) in a row. I can't do some of the things they can do. "I would love to tell you if I'd had the money … but I don't think so. I maybe could have won a race here or there. But I don't have what Brad (Keselowski) has or Ryan (Blaney) or even Daniel -- I don't have what those guys have. I don't know what it is and I don't know where they get it from, but something's there that just clicks. They have it. This was the next best thing." RELATED: Sustainability goes from top to bottom with Penske, Keselowski Hamlin succeeded, eventually moving on from the small local venues to become a bona fide NASCAR star. Kendrick made his way out, too, but in a slightly different fashion. Kendrick is no anomaly. The NASCAR garage has its share of crew chiefs who raced and then, for one reason or another, eventually hung up their helmets. Crew chiefs Paul Wolfe (Keselowski) and Rodney Childers ( Kevin Harvick ) raced, as did Matt McCall ( Jamie McMurray ) and Greg Ives ( Dale Earnhardt Jr .) There were other stops along the way for most, other tasks to complete and other lessons to be learned. Kendrick's move to the pit box began innocently enough –- Timothy Peters , one of his former rivals from back in the Late Model days – offered him his first crew chief position prior to 2008. The two had worked together previously at Bobby Hamilton Racing (BHR). "I probably learned 75 percent of everything I know about racing from Bobby ," Kendrick said of the 2004 Truck Series champion. "He was really good … if you wanted to know, wanted to learn and grow, he was there for you. Very open and just an awesome guy. … "I loved working for him. I actually compare working here to working for Bobby ." Other stops followed and their paths wouldn't cross again until Peters called one day with an offer. A partial deal would put Peters on the track and Kendrick on the pit box. "He said, 'By the way, you're going to be the crew chief, the only mechanic, the only guy …" Kendrick said of Peters' proposition. How difficult could that be? Kendrick was about to find out. The two made only a handful of starts in '08 and by the next season, the team added a second truck for a few races just to start and park and stay afloat financially. When NASCAR instituted a new pit procedure rule for the Truck Series in '09, things didn't get any easier. "That was the year that you did pit stops where you couldn't do fuel and tires at the same time," he said. "We never had enough people. I was the crew chief, I would jack on the tire stop, come back, throw the helmet and apron on, and fuel (the truck) during the fuel stop." The saving grace was a midseason call from Red Horse Racing owner Tom DeLoach, who wanted both Peters and Kendrick for his organization. The payoff came a few months later, in late October at Martinsville. Peters led 84 laps en route to his first series victory. It was Kendrick's first win as a crew chief, and remains his most memorable. "One, it was at Martinsville with Timothy," he said. "He and I had been through so much. … Going through all that and to get him his first win just meant a lot. "The win last year (at Bristol Motor Speedway ) with Blaney was the most exciting. It was the most dominant truck I've ever had and special in that as soon as we unloaded for practice, it was 'OK, we’re the truck to beat.' Blaney qualified on the outside of the front row and led the first 37 circuits at Bristol before a penalty for jumping the restart send him to the rear of the field. "Then he drives all the way back through the field and wins the race," Kendrick said. "That one was just really cool. You can be the best truck and you don't win because your crew had a bad stop or something breaks or somebody gets into you … anything. The smallest things can happen. … But Ryan got determined. So that one is up there." Kendrick's six wins have come with five different drivers – Peters, Blaney (2), John King , Parker Kligerman and Joey Logano . "I wanted to give Brad his first (Truck) win," Kendrick said, adding it was a "big battle" between he and fellow Brad Keselowski Racing crew chief Doug Randolph. But it was Randolph calling the shots when the team owner/driver made it to the winner’s circle, also at Bristol in 2014 "Just a couple of weeks ago, Brad gave Joey the truck we won with last year at Martinsville. I told Joey 'Don’t ever run another truck race,'" Kendrick said. "Because I'm probably not going to be known for much of anything, but at least I can tell my grandkids I gave Joey Logano his only truck win.' Doesn’t mean a lot, but …" RELATED: Inside the new Chase format for the series Now, he'll try to add Hemric to his list of winning drivers. Hemric, 25, is in his first season with the organization and sits seventh in points after three races. Teammate Tyler Reddick , 20, is a two-time race winner and driver of the team’s No. 29 with the veteran Randolph calling the shots. He's 16th in points. Next up for the series is the Toyota Tundra 250 at Kansas Speedway (Friday, May 6, 8:30 p.m. ET, FS1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio), the first of a three-week swing that includes stops at Dover International Speedway and Charlotte Motor Speedway . Kendrick said both drivers are ready to get back on the track. Expectations remain high. "At the front end of the year I would have told you we’d have a win by now," he said. "I really thought we would. We've had brand new trucks all three races. "I know we’ll win a race, both of our guys. I don't think stretch to say we'll win 2-3 in a row, between our teams."
Ricky Stenhouse Jr's Crew Chief Suspended
NASCAR.com's Jonathan Merryman brings you Up To Speed on the suspension of Nick Sandler, Crew Chief for Ricky Stenhouse Jr ., after the race at Richmond International Raceway.
Are Dale Jr . and 'Amelia' a Fantasy Live must have?
Marty Snider and Chris Rice tell you if Dale Earnhardt Jr . and 'Amelia' are a sure bet on your NASCAR Fantasy Live roster, after the car was repaired from a crash in the Daytona 500, and look at Matt Kenseth's chances at another Talladega victory.
Dale Jr .'s victory celebration? A banana-mayo sandwich, of course
Photo courtesy of Richmond International Raceway 's Twitter account RELATED: Dale Jr . shows how to make the sandwich " Dale Jr . wins at Richmond Thanks to a tweet heard 'round the NASCAR Nation, we all know about Dale Earnhardt Jr .'s favorite sandwich, bananas and mayo. The driver turned the much-discussed tweet into a charitable endeavor with the funds raised going to Blessings in a Backpack. Kelley Earnhardt Miller, Dale Jr .'s sister and the co-owner/general manager of JR Motorsports, said after the Richmond win that all told, fans have donated over $55,000, while Hellmann's and Dale Jr . will each donate $50,000. Driving the No. 88 Hellmann's Chevrolet, Earnhardt Jr . won the ToyotaCare 250 to score his first win behind the wheel for the team he co-owns, JR Motorsports. And if you are wondering how he celebrated in Victory Lane, just remember it was a little after lunchtime of a 149-lap race, so the man was hungry. RELATED: JRM extends relationship with longtime partner That led to a banana-mayo sandwich for the victor to enjoy. A and a #DaleJrSandwich in Victory Lane. pic.twitter.com/jg3djblM5R — JR Motorsports (@JRMotorsports) April 23, 2016 A celebratory #DaleJrSandwich , anyone? pic.twitter.com/C3dRIegUJe — Richmond Raceway (@RIRInsider) April 23, 2016
Bobby Pierce earns first career pole at Eldora
The 18-year-old will be making his first Truck start in tonight's event RELATED: Qualifying race lineups " Qualifying results After recording top-five speeds in both practices today, newcomer Bobby Pierce earned his first career 21 Means 21 Pole Award on Wednesday, using a high speed of 86.889 mph to bring his No. 63 MB Motorsports Chevrolet owned by Mike Mittler to the top of the leaderboard. It also was Mittler's first pole. Pierce, an 18-year-old dirt Late Model driver, will be making his first Camping World Truck Series start in tonight's 1-800-CarCash Mud Summer Classic (9 p.m. ET, FOX Sports 1). His qualifying effort tonight made him the fifth driver in Truck Series history to win the pole in his first start. He joins former series champions Ron Hornaday Jr . (Phoenix, 1995) and Bobby Hamilton (Martinsville, 1996) as well as Kerry Earnhardt (Daytona, 2005) and Alex Tagliani (Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, 2014). After sustaining damage in the second practice, Johnny Sauter rebounded, posting the second-fastest speed (84.818 mph) on the leaderboard in his No. 98 ride. Ray Black Jr . was third on the leaderboard, his No. 07 Truck recording a high speed of 84.567 mph. Cameron Hayley (84.380 mph) and John Wes Townley (84.309 mph) rounded out the top five. The top five from this evening's single truck qualifying willl start on the pole for each of the five qualifying races, which will determine the rest of the field for tonight's 1-800-CarCash Mud Summer Classic (9 p.m. ET, FOX Sports 1, MRN, SiriusXM). Beyond the pole, the random draw will decide the order of the qualifying races. RELATED: Learn more about Eldora race format Sprint Cup Series Brad Keselowski will be making his dirt track debut in tonight's Mud Summer Classic. After a brush with the wall, Keselowski's No. 29 BK Racing Truck picked up the 21st-fastest spot on the leaderboard. Former Sprint Cup Series driver Ken Schrader -- who was the first pole winner for the annual Eldora race -- ranked 18th on the leaderboard in his own No. 52 Toyota. Wednesday's opening qualifying session provided the drivers with plenty of challenges associated with dirt track racing. JR Motorsports' Cole Custer took a hard hit to the wall in his first qualifying run, damaging his No. 00 Chevrolet and giving him a flat tire. The incident left him with a 34th qualifying spot. Ty Dillon 's No. 33 GMS Racing truck made contact with the wall on his first qualiyfing run, giving him a 20th qualifying position for tonight's five-race event. Madeline Crane's No. 80 truck -- which took on damage in the second practice -- also hit the wall in Turn 1 early in the qualifying session, which qualified her 33rd. Matt Tifft -- who qualified 27th -- spun out in his second lap, but didn't make contact. The Camping World Truck Series is back on track for the first qualiyfing race at 7 p.m. ET (FOX Sports 2). FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
JR Motorsports, Unilever extend partnership
MOORESVILLE, N.C. (April 22, 2016) – JR Motorsports and Unilever, a team partner since 2009 and one of the world’s leading suppliers of Food, Refreshments, Home and Personal Care products, announced today an extension that sees Dale Earnhardt Jr . continue as a brand ambassador for the company through 2018. As part of the agreement, JR Motorsports (JRM), the race team co-owned by Earnhardt Jr ., will carry Unilever sponsorship on its NASCAR XFINITY Series (NXS) entries for 20 races in 2017-18. "Unilever has been an incredible supporter of our program for a long time," said Earnhardt Jr . "That type of dedication is good for the health of our race team and the health of our sport. I am very appreciative of their commitment and what they have brought to JR Motorsports as a partner since 2009. We look forward to continuing that relationship and growing our partnership in the future." Unilever already stands as JRM’s longest-tenured sponsor, with the 2018 extension taking the pair into their 10th year of partnership in NXS competition. Unilever brands including Hellmann’s, Suave, Degree, and Breyers, will be featured as primary sponsors in 10 NXS races in 2017 and 10 NXS events in 2018. Earnhardt Jr . will drive a Unilever-branded Chevrolet for one event in each of those two seasons. "We are thrilled to extend our relationship with JRM and Dale Earnhardt Jr .," said Kevin Flagg, Director Shopper Marketing and Marketing Activation, Unilever U.S. "His influence among our retail partners and our consumers continues to be critical both on and off the track. Dale embodies our core mission and values, and his work with us helps improve the lives of others. His impact on successful activation over the past eight years has made our decision to continue our work together an easy one across our top-tier brands." Additionally, Unilever will be a presenting sponsor of a Dirty Mo Radio podcast in 2017. Now in its fourth season, Dirty Mo Radio includes a line-up of eight diverse programs, which appeal to different audiences with unique, on-demand content. Dirty Mo Radio podcasts are available free of charge on DaleJr.com as well as all major podcasting outlets such as iTunes, Stitcher and SoundCloud. "When JR Motorsports first put an Xfinity car on the track in 2005, we weren't sure where it would take us," said Kelley Earnhardt Miller, general manager of JR Motorsports. "With the addition of Unilever to JRM in 2009, it helped pave the way and bring stability to our organization. We will always be grateful for that. We've been fortunate to grow over the years with Unilever as a cornerstone partner and we’re thrilled to be with them again in multiple capacities." More details on the specific races, driving duties and car numbers surrounding the Unilever extension will be announced at a later date.
Dale Jr . holds off Ty Dillon for XFINITY win at Richmond
RELATED: Full race results " Updated series standings RICHMOND, Va. -- After a massive late-race wreck scrambled the running order in Saturday's ToyotaCare 250 , Dale Earnhardt Jr . survived a two-lap dash in overtime to win his first NASCAR XFINITY Series race since 2010 and the first in his own JR Motorsports equipment. Earnhardt held off Ty Dillon by .266 seconds in a main event that ran nine laps past its scheduled distance of 140 laps, but Dillon collected the $100,000 Dash 4 Cash bonus available to the two highest finishes among XFINITY Series regulars from each of the two heats that preceded the main event. The victory was Earnhardt's fourth at Richmond -- his first at the .75-mile short track since 2002 -- and the 24th of his career. Earnhardt's last win in the series came in the July 2010 race at Daytona in a No. 3 Chevrolet owned by Richard Childress. Earnhardt has not driven the No. 3, the number closely associated with his father, since that victory. On Saturday, he drove the No. 88 Chevrolet in his last scheduled start of the season for JR Motorsports. Though Earnhardt led 128 of the 149 laps after passing Erik Jones for the top spot on Lap 18, the final two were a challenge, with Dillon restarting beside him for the two-lap overtime. "Those last couple of laps, we were real loose in the corner," Earnhardt said. "I thought Ty was going to get to me -- he tried to get to me. When we got to (Turn 3), we drove into the corner wide-open." But Dillon couldn't pull even with Earnhardt, who cleared Dillon's No. 3 Chevrolet off Turn 4 on the first overtime lap. "We came up a little short, but we're going to get one soon," Dillon said. Dillon wouldn't have had a shot at the win at all, had a nine-car pileup on Lap 134 not bunched the field and necessitated the overtime. The wreck came moments after a restart, with Brennan Poole leading the field to the green. Poole had stayed out on old tires when Earnhardt and the rest of the lead-lap drivers came to pit road for fresh rubber under caution on Lap 127. Earnhardt restarted third behind Poole and JR Motorsports teammate Justin Allgaier , but when Poole spun his tires, Earnhardt dived to the inside approaching Turn 1, creating a three-wide lead group. After side-by-side contact with Earnhardt's No. 88, Poole's No. 48 Chevrolet washed up the track, clipped and turned Allgaier's No. 7 and ignited a chain-reaction wreck that damaged three of the four cars eligible for the Dash 4 Cash bonus – those of Poole, Allgaier and Jones. "When he spun the tires, I had to go to the inside," Earnhardt said. "I tried not to drive up into him – I don't think I got into him. They just kind of came together up there (in the outside lane) and had a heck of a wreck. "I hate that it happened, but, man, I had to do what I had to do to try to get the win. We ran so well and led all those laps." Elliott Sadler came home third, followed by series leader Daniel Suárez, who leaves Richmond nine points ahead of Sadler in second. Austin Dillon ran fifth and Cole Custer sixth in Custer's XFINITY Series debut. Poole brought his damaged car home in 10th.
Dale Jr . brings ‘Gray Ghost’ back to life in Darlington unveil
Dale Earnhardt Jr . unveils his ‘Gray Ghost’ inspired paint scheme for the throwback weekend at Darlington Raceway for the Bojangles’ Southern 500.
Junior's sandwich project raises nearly $160K total
Dale Earnhardt Jr .'s infamous banana-and-mayo sandwich turned into a $159,935.33 fundraising endeavor. The No. 88 driver announced on April 7 that JR Motorsports would be turning his favorite lunch sandwich into an opportunity to raise money for Blessings in a Backpack, a nonprofit organization that raises funds to help provide food for hungry elementary school-age children across America. After nearly three weeks of donations to the fundraiser's website DaleJrSandwich.com , Junior took to Twitter to announce the total amount raised. That banana sandwich raised $159,935.33 total. Thanks to all who donated. @BlessinBackpack @Hellmanns — Dale Earnhardt Jr . (@DaleJr) April 26, 2016 This announcement comes on the heels of Earnhardt's XFINITY Series win at Richmond International Raceway , when he took the checkered flag driving the No. 88 Hellmann's Chevrolet. Earnhardt toasted the win in Victory Lane by chowing down on a banana-and-mayo sandwich. Donations to the Dale Junior Foundation will continue to be accepted at thedalejrfoundation.org . WATCH: Junior eats favorite sandwich in Victory Lane
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 .