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Sponsor sync: ThorSport, Menards rebuild after fire
RELATED: Full schedule for Daytona Speedweeks ThorSport Racing's 2016 campaign will be remembered as a season of recovery, overcoming the trials of a mid-June fire at its Sandusky, Ohio, headquarters. The blaze sparked a gutsy fight through the balance of the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series schedule, with the four-team operation scrapping and improvising to fulfill its full-season mandate. Little more than seven months have passed since the hardship, but ThorSport is on the verge of seeing the rebuilding effort through to completion. Credit the organization's pluck and perseverance, but also a serendipitous sponsor relationship. Menards , a Midwestern home improvement chain, was instrumental in helping ThorSport's reconstruction project, providing the materials and blueprints for rebuilding a significant portion of the team's 100,000-square-foot home. The Eau Claire, Wisconsin-based business returns for the 13th season of its long-running association with ThorSport's No. 88 Toyota and driver Matt Crafton , a two-time series champion. That sponsor and team coalesce in such a mutually beneficial way has helped the Duke and Rhonda Thorson-owned team operate at virtually full strength with the season just weeks away from kicking off at Daytona. " Menards has always been more than just a decal on the side of my Toyota Tundra," Crafton said in a release provided by the team. "They have been a true marketing partner, and I'm honored to continue this partnership with them for the 13th consecutive season. For them to provide a hands-on approach, and be so involved in the rebuild of our shop, was truly remarkable. "From planning, to execution, to building materials, they have been an asset to the entire project. It speaks volumes on their commitment not only to me, and this No. 88 team, but the entire organization." Crafton had won two races and one pole position in the first seven events of last season, before the fire forced ThorSport to find alternate locations to prep its trucks. The ensuing scramble took its toll, with Crafton admitting, "I knew it was going to hurt us, but I had no idea it was going to hurt us as bad as it did." RELATED: ThorSport drew strength during recovery The organization used a supermarket parking lot as a makeshift workplace for several days and spent time at a trailer manufacturing facility before receiving a helping hand from Ohio sprint car racer Chris Andrews in the form of shop space. All the while, ThorSport and Menards specialists collaborated to restore the most heavily damaged sections of the shop -- a rear portion that housed the fabrication and machine shop departments. George Sharp -- the operations manager for the racing team's parent company, ThorWorks Industries -- said an engineer from Menards was sent to work directly with the team's building contractor. Furthermore, the materials and plans for the rebuilt section of the shop came from a packaged kit available at Menards . "With this happening in the middle of the season, the goal was to get the team back in the shop as soon as possible," Sharp said. "Day by day, the team started moving back into portions of the shop. We expect the rebuild to be completed around the end of January. There is absolutely no way we could have made that happen without the help of Menards ." The restoration has included upgrades -- a more efficient layout and additional windows for improved lighting. Crafton indicated that only final touches remain before ThorSport opens its 22nd season in the Camping World Truck Series, intent on moving forward and ending a winless streak that stretches back to last spring. "It's going to be a huge motivator," Crafton said. &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;
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.
Menards to continue partnership with RCR XFINITY programs
WELCOME, N.C. - Building on the triumphs from 2015, Menards will continue its partnership with Richard Childress Racing 's NASCAR XFINITY Series program as a primary sponsor for select races with both the No. 2 Chevrolet with Paul Menard and the No. 33 Chevrolet with Brandon Jones for the 2016 season. Menards , the third-largest home improvement store in the United States, has been prevalent in RCR's XFINITY Series campaign since 2012. "We are excited to be back for another season of NASCAR XFINITY Series racing with RCR. Last year proved to be a success with Paul Menard 's win in our home state of Wisconsin at Road America along with four top-five and eight top-10 finishes with Menard and Brandon Jones behind the wheel," said Jeff Abbott, Menards Promotion Manager. "We are proud of the caliber of race cars Richard Childress and his team bring to the race track each weekend. We look forward to another exciting season in 2016 with Jones and Menard behind the wheel again." Menard will drive the No. 2 Richmond/ Menards Chevrolet Camaro for select events in 2016, while maintaining a full-time schedule in the No. 27 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series entry for RCR. The Eau Claire, Wisconsin-native is a three-time XFINITY Series race winner with five pole awards, 34 top-five and 87 top-10 finishes. Menard will kick off the season at Atlanta Motor Speedway , making his 200th XFINITY Series start. Danny Stockman will return as crew chief of the No. 2 Richmond/ Menards Chevrolet team with Menard. The duo captured the win at Road America , earning Menard a victory in his home state of Wisconsin in 2015. As previously announced, Jones, an 18-year-old driver hailing from Atlanta, Georgia, will compete on a full-time basis in the XFINITY Series in 2016. Jones made his XFINITY Series debut with RCR at Iowa Speedway in 2015. The rookie driver earned one top-five and two top-10 finishes with a total of 16 laps led in five starts last season. Mike Hillman Jr. has been named crew chief for Jones and the No. 33 team. Hillman Jr.'s 12 years of experience will help guide the young driver in his rookie season in the series. The veteran crew chief joined RCR in 2015 and recorded 18 top-five starting positions, resulting in six top-five and 18 top-10 finishes throughout the 2015 season. Menards will be Jones' primary sponsor at the season opener at Daytona International Speedway on February 20th. " Menards' continued support this season with Paul Menard and Brandon Jones in the XFINITY Series is a true testament to their commitment to RCR and this sport," said Richard Childress, CEO and Chairman of Richard Childress Racing . "The Menards racing team found success last season with Paul winning in his home state of Wisconsin and Brandon's solid finishes on track. We hope to build on that success this year and provide Menards an opportunity to be a winning company both on and off the race track." Menards has a long, successful history as a racing sponsor dating back to the 1970's which includes one of NASCAR's crown jewels, 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 297 retail store locations throughout the Midwest.
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