RCR, Menards renew partnership in XFINITY Series
BUY TICKETS: See the Daytona 500 live! WELCOME, N.C. -- Looking to continue building success both on and off the track, Menards has renewed its partnership with Richard Childress Racing 's NASCAR XFINITY Series program for a fifth year. Menards will serve as a primary sponsor for select races throughout the 2017 season with Paul Menard and Ben Kennedy driving the No. 2 Chevrolet and Brandon Jones in the No. 33 Chevrolet. "We are excited that the 2017 season is upon us," said Jeff Abbott, Menards spokesperson. "We look forward to once again partnering with RCR, Paul Menard , Ben Kennedy and Brandon Jones in the XFINITY Series, and having three quality race car drivers working hard as teammates and competitors. Our tremendous group of racing partners look forward to seeing Paul, Ben and Brandon in Victory Lane." Menard will be back behind the wheel of the No. 2 Menards/Richmond Chevrolet Camaro for select XFINITY Series races during the 2017 season, while also competing full-time in the No. 27 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series for RCR. The Eau Claire, Wisconsin, native has a strong history of success in the XFINITY Series, having captured three wins, six pole awards, 38 top-five and 93 top-10 finishes. Twenty-year-old Brandon Jones and the No. 33 Chevrolet Camaro also will be carrying the Menards banner again alongside the Menard's No. 2 Chevrolet. The Atlanta native qualified for the inaugural XFINITY Series Chase last season, while securing 17 top-11 finishes, to end 2016 10th in the XFINITY Series points standings and third in the Sunoco Rookie of the Year standings. As RCR's full-time driver of the No. 33 Chevrolet Camaro in the XFINITY Series, Jones is prepared to turn all that he learned and accomplished in his rookie year into consistently high performances throughout his sophomore season. Ben Kennedy , coming to RCR from the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series , also will pilot the No. 2 Menards Chevrolet Camaro at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on July 15. The 25-year-old made his XFINITY Series debut last season with RCR at Iowa Speedway , in which he secured a 10th place finish, and will compete in select races in the No. 2 Chevrolet throughout the 2017 season. "Menards continues to showcase their commitment and dedication to both RCR and the NASCAR XFINITY Series with the renewed support for Paul Menard , Brandon Jones and Ben Kennedy ," said Richard Childress, CEO and Chairman of Richard Childress Racing . "It's great to feature such a winning company and their variety of vendor-partners both on and off the track and we hope to continue their success this season." Since the 1970s, Menards has a strong history as a racing sponsor, which includes a win in the 2011 Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway with driver Paul Menard . A family-owned company started in 1960 and headquartered in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, Menards has 305 retail store locations throughout the Midwest.
Sense of rejuvenation for Ronnie Bassett Jr., team with his first K&N win
BUY TICKETS: See the Daytona 500 live! NEW SMYRNA BEACH, Fla. -- Ronnie Bassett Jr. sat in contemplation last May, having rushed to witness first-hand the devastating fire that tore through his family-owned team's race shop in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. While thankfully no one was injured, the material loss was heavy, with little to salvage in the way of cars, tools, equipment and the team's hauler. Sifting through cinders in the days after the blaze, Bassett said he wondered what would come next for him and his brother, Dillon, a pair of next-generation racers. "We were sitting there scratching our heads," Bassett says. "We didn't know whether we were going to be able to race again the rest of that season or what." Sunday night, nearly nine months after their loss, came victory. The 21-year-old Bassett emerged from a frantic second half of the season-opening Jet Tools 150 to score his first NASCAR K&N Pro Series East victory at New Smyrna Speedway. The win also soothed the heartbreak of last year's K&N opener, where an official scoring check after the checkered flag kept Bassett from Victory Lane. Bassett's convincing victory, which included a late-race stretch of running 1-2 with his brother, belies the adversity that his family has faced. Working with insurance to rebuild their own shop has been a gradual process, and the family racing operation is now spread over three buildings in their hometown -- a small warehouse for primary cars, a shed for parts and another space serving as a makeshift fabrication shop. "We're just trying to make it happen," said Ronnie Bassett Sr., who enjoyed a successful career in the Sportsman division at Bowman Gray Stadium. "They don't have much to work out of. It's a tight spot, I can tell you that." What has helped has been a devoted crew, and fellow racers David Calabrese and Brandon Gdovic lending a hand with equipment to help the team finish out 2016 with a part-time slate. "We just prayed to the good Lord about it to see what needed to be done," Bassett Jr. said. "It kind of worked out. We have more than what we had when we were working out of our other shop. We've been blessed with a lot of great people." Bassett Jr. led the final 42 laps, sweating through a pair of red flags for accidents, including a final stack-up near the front of the field that knocked his brother and NASCAR Next driver Tyler Dippel from contention. It marked the first laps led in a K&N East career that's spanned 40 races since 2013. Though Bassett Jr. amassed a three-second lead on the half-mile track over the closing laps, he and his father remained antsy. Intense racing behind him threatened a late caution, and then there were the reminders of the mix-up from last season. Bassett actually crossed under the checkered flag first at New Smyrna in 2016, emerging from a three-car fracas with Todd Gilliland and Spencer Davis. But race officials determined that an extra lap had been inadvertently run beyond the scheduled distance, handing the victory to Gilliland. There was no doubt Sunday night. "I had a counter in my hand tonight," Bassett Sr. said with a laugh. "We were definitely watching the flagstand, that's for sure. It's all good, though." For his son, the victory was a needed boost after a long dry spell. Bassett had two runner-up efforts sprinkled among his nine previous top-five finishes, including a third place at New Smyrna last year. After leaving the Florida half-mile with trophy in hand, Bassett said the sense of rejuvenation was real. "It's been very, very tough on myself -- I went from running good in Late Model Stocks and then coming to these things, it's like punching myself in the heart," Bassett Jr. said, adding that the family plans a full K&N East schedule in its rebuilding year. "To come back and have a good race car and lead laps tonight, it builds my confidence back to know that I can still do it."
Get ready for the Daytona 500 with driver interviews
BUY TICKETS: See the Daytona 500 live! " Speedweeks schedule Drivers take center stage starting at 8:30 a.m. ET Wednesday for the Media Day live stream presented by NAPA as excitement builds toward Sunday's Daytona 500 . Don't miss any of the stories, banter and laughs as NASCAR.com live streams the event til 3:30 p.m. ET. Watch here . Hosts Jonathan Merryman and Kim Coon will talk with drivers about the Daytona 500 and the 2017 season. Here's the event lineup (all times Eastern): 8:30 a.m.: Aric Almirola 8:40 a.m.: Austin Dillon , Matt DiBenedetto 8:45 a.m.: Chris Buescher 8:50 a.m.: Joey Gase BREAK (35 min) 9:35 a.m.: Michael McDowell , AJ Allmendinger 9:40 a.m.: David Gilliland 9:45 a.m.: Joey Logano BREAK (25 min) 10:20 a.m.: Chip Wile 10:30 a.m.: Brendan Gaughan , Darrell Wallace Jr . 10:35 a.m.: Cole Custer 10:40 a.m.: Blake Koch 10:50 a.m.: Brennan Poole 11:05 a.m.: Dale Earnhardt Jr . 11:10 a.m.: Daniel Hemric , Brandon Jones 11:20 a.m.: Spencer Gallagher , Ben Kennedy BREAK (1 hr. 40 min) 1:10 p.m.: Ryan Blaney 1:20 p.m.: Chase Elliott 1:50 p.m.: Kevin Harvick 1:55 p.m.: Justin Allgaier , Michael Annett 2 p.m.: John Hunter Nemechek , Denny Hamlin 2:10 p.m.: Ty Dillon , Matt Kenseth , Kurt Busch 2:20 p.m.: Landon Cassill , Kasey Kahne BREAK (15 min) 2:45 p.m.: Erik Jones BREAK (10 min) 3:05 p.m.: Ryan Reed BREAK (5 min) 3:15 p.m.: Brad Keselowski
Brandon Jones extends deal with RCR in XFINITY
WELCOME, N.C. -- Brandon Jones , 2016 NASCAR XFINITY Series Chase contender and Rookie of the Year candidate, has signed an agreement to remain with Richard Childress Racing (RCR) as the driver of the No. 33 Chevrolet Camaro in the XFINITY Series for the 2017 season. " Brandon has shown he has the talent behind the wheel to run up front and compete for championships in the XFINITY Series, and we are pleased he will continue to do so in an RCR Chevrolet," said Richard Childress, Chairman and CEO of RCR. "We are proud of everything he has accomplished this season, including leading laps, making the inaugural XFINITY Series Chase and contending for the Rookie of the Year title. Brandon has also been an excellent spokesman for our sponsors and does an exceptional job representing our brand. We can't wait to see what Brandon can do in his second full XFINITY Series season." In his first full year with RCR, Jones has recorded 11 top-10 finishes through the first 26 races and earned a spot in the XFINITY Series Chase. The 19-year-old driver scored an impressive sixth-place finish at Las Vegas Motor Speedway , and also led 36 laps at Talladega Superspeedway in April. "I am honored to return to Richard Childress Racing for the 2017 season," Jones said. "RCR is such a storied NASCAR organization and it's a great opportunity to be a part of the team. Racing full-time in the XFINITY Series this season has been a valuable learning experience. I believe we have what it takes to compete for the championship throughout the Chase this season and make another run at the title in 2017. The teamwork and support from RCR, ECR Engines and Chevrolet have been second to none and instrumental in my development as a driver. I've also enjoyed representing several partners including Menards, Nexteer, Chevrolet, Okuma, Cometic, Roland and Rain-X." Before joining RCR as a full-time driver in 2016, Jones ran five XFINITY Series races in 2015, earning one top-five and two top-10 finishes, along with 16 laps led. The Atlanta, Georgia, native, has 30 starts in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, recording five top-five and 11 top-10 finishes. He also has one NASCAR K&N East Series win and three ARCA Racing Series victories.
Brendan Gaughan is like Brandon Jones' (much older) big brother
Having a little brother can be cool. More often, it's annoying. Little brothers get a kick out of being pests, as 41-year-old Brendan Gaughan is learning this year with his 19-year-old Richard Childress teammate, Brandon Jones . Ready to head out to 2nd practice like pic.twitter.com/7KyKGsvQZn — Brandon Jones (@BrandonJonesRac) November 4, 2016 That's Jones in Gaughan's firesuit ... with perhaps a little extra padding. Gaughan, of course, declared payback is coming. Oh I can't wait... the payback is going to be EPIC! @BrandonJonesRac https://t.co/KDc4guknFx — Brendan Gaughan (@Brendan62) November 5, 2016 Thing is, this isn't the first time Jones has worn a filled-out version of Gaughan's suit over his wiry frame. Ready to carry the @southpointlv colors this weekend at @MonsterMile . @Brendan62 thanks for the suit! #TheChase pic.twitter.com/65lmoZXnHE — Brandon Jones (@BrandonJonesRac) September 26, 2016 And guess what? Gaughan vowed vengeance then, too. Oh you are SO gonna pay for that @BrandonJonesRac ! https://t.co/RaOQojg05L — Brendan Gaughan (@Brendan62) September 26, 2016 That means that Gaughan has had well over a month to plan his payback, which will undoubtedly be awesome. Why? Because -- call it experience -- big brothers always get the last prank.
Chase driver Brandon Jones involved in costly incident
Brandon Jones is involved in a costly incident with Justin Marks, becoming the first Chase driver sent to the garage at Kentucky Speedway.
Brandon Jones excited about partnering with sponsor Nexteer
Brandon Jones talks about Richard Childress Racing's partnership with Nexteer and looking toward a successful future with them on the No. 33 Chevrolet.
What's in a Number? Cole Whitt's No. 72
BUY TICKETS: See the Daytona 500 live! In the game 'Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon,' contestants attempt to link an actor or actress to Kevin Bacon in six movies or less. The game became a fad more than 20 years ago (seriously, it's been 20 years?), but it's still fun to play (perhaps with an updated actor such as Ryan Gosling instead). However, whether you're matching Bacon or Gosling, degrees of separation are fascinating, so when TriStar Motorsports decided to bring back the No. 72 for Cole Whitt for his attempt at running in this year's Daytona 500 , we just had to check out the history of such an intriguing number choice to see what the connections were. So in order to do so, we went to Racing Reference ( racing-reference.info ) and to the bottom of their homepage, under miscellaneous, where you can find a treasure trove of stats categories to explore, including " Stats By Car Number ." Click there and then onto the No. 72 , and this is where the meat of this story (and the smell of Bacon) begins: -- The last time the No. 72 was used in a NASCAR premier series race, it was 2006 in the fall race at Phoenix. -- The driver was Brandon Whitt, who is Cole Whitt 's cousin. Brandon Whitt finished 37th in that race as the car went out after 123 laps because of a rear-end problem. -- Brandon Whitt was born in El Cajon, California, on Oct. 15, 1982. -- Jimmie Johnson was born in El Cajon, California, on Sept. 17, 1975. -- Johnson finished second to Kevin Harvick in the 2006 fall race at Phoenix and took home the first of his five consecutive NASCAR premier series championships. -- Kevin Harvick has the same first name as Kevin Bacon. Winner, winner, BLT dinner! And just look at all the fun we had by wondering, 'What's in a number?'
Brandon Jones, Brendan Gaughan get 'Annoying'
Richard Childress Racing drivers Brandon Jones and Brendan Gaughan are taking their talents to YouTube. The pair of NASCAR XFINITY Series drivers made guest appearances in the hit online show "Annoying Orange," which is certainly among the most unique things you'll ever see. And, well, just watch.
Brandon Jones shows how a 19-year-old does Las Vegas
Imagine you are a 19-year-old NASCAR XFINITY Series rookie spending the weekend in Las Vegas, site of the series' third race of the year, the Boyd Gaming 300 (4:30 p.m. ET Saturday, FS1, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). "Sin City," the "City of Lights," the "Entertainment Capital of the World," except you are not of age to partake in the gambling at Las Vegas' many casinos. Brandon Jones , driver of the No. 33 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet, took to RCR's Twitter account on Friday night to show off how a 19-year-old makes the most out of Nevada's adult playground. What ensued was something you would not have seen in "The Hangover." It was a night that included making it rain… tickets in Skeeball as well as playing "UNO" at a Steak 'n Shake. The real question is who had to Draw Four? The security guard said the next open seat won't be avail for two years. #19inVEGAS pic.twitter.com/dgkEEyxlJM — RCR (@RCRracing) March 5, 2016 Nothing like a nice, strong…Shirley Temple. Make it a double. #19inVEGAS pic.twitter.com/EbAGtp1D2c — RCR (@RCRracing) March 5, 2016 In a busy casino it's always good to find a table…draw four. #19inVEGAS pic.twitter.com/tksrLAdx0k — RCR (@RCRracing) March 5, 2016 Making it rain…tickets. #19inVEGAS #LasVegas #MakeItRain pic.twitter.com/h9j9nEZ7XK — RCR (@RCRracing) March 5, 2016 Told the old lady to find another machine. I'm on a heater. You never walk away when you're on a heater. #19inVEGAS pic.twitter.com/lw21oaIjpA — RCR (@RCRracing) March 5, 2016 #Winning . Now what the hell do I do with this?? #19inVEGAS pic.twitter.com/o1czfyZwda — RCR (@RCRracing) March 5, 2016
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