G&K Services returning as a primary sponsor for the No. 01 team Landon Cassill will have a familiar sponsor returning to the fold for the 2015 XFINITY Series season with his JD Motorsports ride. G&K Services will be back on the No. 01 Chevrolet as a primary sponsor for multiple races as well as a full-time associate sponsor ship. "We've had a great partnership with the folks at G&K," said team owner Johnny Davis in a release. "Their participation with our team has been beneficial to both sides, and it really showed this year as we ran well in so many races. We're looking forward to what the future holds." The 25-year-old Cassill ran a full Nationwide Series slate in 2014 as well as 34 of 36 Sprint Cup Series races. In the Nationwide Series, Cassill had three top-10 finishes en route to a 12th-place finish in the final standings. The 2015 season marks the sixth season that JD Motorsports and G&K Services have been partners. MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Driver to join TriStar Motorsports for full XFINITY Series slate TriStar Motorsports announced Thursday morning that Cale Conley will make the jump to a full-time ride in the NASCAR XFINITY Series next season. Conley, 22, competed in 11 races last season in the Nationwide Series -- which is transferring title sponsorship to Comcast's XFINITY brand in 2015. His best finish in Richard Childress Racing 's No. 33 Chevrolet was sixth at Kentucky Speedway in September. "I am looking forward to working with people that are excited to work with me and help me mature as a driver and competitor in this series," Conley said. "I am grateful to Mark Smith and TriStar Motorsports for being willing to take a chance with me and let me race weekend after weekend after weekend, so I can get one step closer to my ultimate dream of being a NASCAR Sprint Cup champion." TriStar, owned by Mark Smith, fielded 13 drivers in its four-car operation last season, with Mike Bliss , Eric McClure , Blake Koch and Jeff Green making the majority of the starts in the team's Toyotas. Mooresville, North Carolina-based team's best finish was a ninth-place from David Starr at Talladega Superspeedway in the spring. A spokesperson for TriStar said that more announcements regarding the team's driver lineup for 2015 were coming in the next two weeks. Conley brought his rich sprint-car background to NASCAR competition in 2011, gaining experience in the K&N Pro Series before venturing into Nationwide races. The West Virginia native notched his first victory on the K&N circuit at Columbus Motor Speedway in 2012. In addition to his growth on the track last season, Conley made waves off the track when he settled a bet with Emma Blaney by wearing a dress . The campaign to add to Conley's Twitter following and the ensuing pictures prompted the social media hashtag #DriverInADress. Conley is scheduled to appear as a guest on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio (Channel 90) on Thursday at 4:30 p.m. ET. FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Nationwide Series champion, team to spend Tuesday in Columbus, Ohio NASCAR Nationwide Series champion Chase Elliott and members of the No. 9 JR Motorsports team will be on the road Tuesday as they travel to Columbus, Ohio, home of the series sponsor, to be honored for their 2014 efforts. The day-long schedule will include a visit to the Nationwide Children's Hospital, a Marketing University panel discussion, autograph session, broom ball at Nationwide Arena, team dinner and taking in the Columbus Blue Jackets-Philadelphia Flyers NHL contest. Elliott, who turned 19 on Nov. 28, became the youngest driver to win the series title this season. The Sunoco Rookie of the Year winner, Elliott scored his first series win at Texas Motor Speedway , and came back a week later to win his second race, at Darlington Raceway . He added a third victory later in the season at Chicagoland Speedway . With crew chief Greg Ives leading the team, Elliott ended the year with 16 top-five and 26 top-10 finishes. He and teammate Regan Smith placed 1-2 in the series’ points standings. JRM, which fields three teams in the series, is co-owned by Sprint Cup Series driver Dale Earnhardt Jr ., sister Kelley Earnhardt Miller and Sprint Cup team owner Rick Hendrick. Elliott wrapped up the title with one race remaining, thanks to a fifth-place finish at Phoenix International Raceway . "It's just been a very, very fun road," Elliott said. "I feel very fortunate to have not just this year with Greg and with Dale and Kelley and Mr. Hendrick, and just honestly, the best group of people that you could possibly have surrounding you in racing in the past five years that I've been short track racing and whatnot. "I feel like I've had the absolute best possible people there, too, and I feel like all these people along the way have made me look a heck of a lot better than I really am. It's been an honor to work with these guys, and not just this year, but all along the way." Nationwide Insurance, which has served as series sponsor since 2008, will be replaced by XFINITY beginning in 2015. However, the company will remain involved in the sport through team sponsorship with Earnhardt Jr. as well as sponsor of the series’ race at Mid-Ohio. "What they've done with this series … (it’s) in a whole lot better place than it was when they started," Earnhardt Jr. said of Nationwide’' involvement. "They've done a wonderful job being a part of our sport and representing our sport. They really love this series, and this series fit them very well." Ives, who will move over to become crew chief for Earnhardt Jr.'s No. 88 Sprint Cup team, and Earnhardt Jr. will be unable to join the team on the trip to Columbus due to their participation in a Goodyear tire test at Charlotte Motor Speedway scheduled for the same day. MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Young driver finished in fourth place in NASCAR Whelen All-American Series standings CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Dillon Bassett has proven to be a quick study. Yes, racing runs deep in his bloodlines, but the 17-year-old from Winston-Salem, North Carolina has seen the start of his NASCAR racing career get off to a soaring start. Bassett was among the drivers honored at Friday night's NASCAR Whelen All-American Series banquet in the Crown Ballroom of the Charlotte Convention Center. The evening recognized champions and rookies of the year on the state and provincial level as well as track champions, the top three finishers in the national title and a handful of other awards. RELATED: Anders honored as 2014 national champion " Awards photo gallery In his first full season, Bassett rolled off an impressive 13 wins, 31 top-five finishes and 35 top-10 finishes in 37 starts while finishing fourth in the final NASCAR Whelen All-American Series standings. He also finished second in the state championship standings to Lee Pulliam, the two-time national champion. Bassett received the inaugural UNOH Youth Achievement Award, which recognizes the top driver 17-and-under in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series. "This is the first year I ran a full NASCAR series schedule and I think to win 13 races in your first year is pretty exciting," Bassett said. "I know after I clicked off like three in a row or something I was getting pumped up. And to finish the season with 13, I feel like it's a pretty good accomplishment for us." Among the tracks Bassett competed at this season included: Motor Mile Speedway, Anderson Motor Speedway, Southern National Motorsports Park, Hickory Motor Speedway, Caraway Speedway, East Carolina Motor Speedway and Langley Speedway. Hickory, where Bassett scored several victories this year, was one track that really stood out. "It's a local short track. A lot of good racing. We've been there quite a few times this year and it doesn't matter where you were at on the race track, it seemed like there was always racing going on. It's pretty fun. It had to be fun for the fans just to watch. You know, sometimes you go to tracks and you only have three or four cars racing; when we went to Hickory it just seemed like everybody was racing." At a young age, Bassett found great success in Bandolero Bandits. He won a national championship in 2006 and three national championships in 2007. When he moved to Legends cars in 2009, he won more national championships. Upon moving to limited late models in 2010, he won a track championship the following year. Dillon's father, Ronnie Bassett Sr., was a past NASCAR Whelen All-American Series track champion with a 1997 title in Stadium Stocks at Bowman Gray Stadium. His older brother, Ronnie Bassett Jr., just completed his first full season in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East and finished 11th in the final standings. Ronnie Jr. also was a Bandolero Bandit national champion in 2006 and won track and state championships. Of his family's history in the sport, Dillon says, "It gives you something to shoot for . "Right now I'm at an equal level of where my dad was running late models." In 2015, the plan is for Dillon to move up the NASCAR ladder. "Next year, me and my brother and going to run the (NASCAR) K&N Pro Series East. We're trying to step up as much as we can," Dillon said. He added that the goal was to run the full schedule, plus a handful of NASCAR K&N Pro Series West races as well, if the schedule permits. In addition to his strong 2014 season, Dillon turned some heads with his participation in the 2013 Denny Hamlin Short Track Showdown. He scored the pole for the event before finishing seventh in a race that included NASCAR Sprint Cup Series regulars Kyle Busch , David Ragan , Kyle Larson , Matt Kenseth , Ricky Stenhouse Jr . and Tony Stewart . "It was fun to get out there and race with those guys. You are going to learn a ton considering they run in NASCAR's top series. It was a blast. Look forward to hopefully doing it some more. I know they changed tracks to South Boston this year and we didn't run it. The timing didn't work out. But hopefully, we can run it some more in the future." If Dillon Bassett continues to be a quick study as he moves up the ladder, he may find himself racing against some of those names a little more frequently. MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView
Driver's back not healed 100 percent, but Gordon feels just fine in the car Had it been spoken in more than a mostly joking manner, Jeff Gordon 's off-the-cuff statement back in January that he'd ride off into stock-car racing retirement if he won his fifth title in NASCAR's premier series would likely have been the bombshell of the year. "I wish I was standing here with that issue right now," Gordon said after accepting sixth-place honors at last week's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Awards show in Las Vegas. After coming oh-so-close to cashing in on that big if, a rejuvenated Gordon said that his heart was never in it to walk away and close the books on his Hall of Fame-worthy career. After enjoying a season with four wins and a championship bid that thrived until the next-to-last race, the 43-year-old veteran is eager to keep the momentum -- and a near-record streak -- rolling next year in what will be his 23rd season at NASCAR's top level. "I never had any intentions of doing that," Gordon said at mention of the word retirement. "I love this sport, I love being competitive. Yeah, I had that health scare with my back in May but was able to pull it all back together and go on and have a great year and not have to miss that race. I was asked that question and I answered it as honestly as I could, but also I'm having some fun with it, and I'd have liked to have had that issue, like I said. "Don't worry, I'll be back next year. Maybe I'll say the same joke in January and we'll see where it goes." The Hendrick Motorsports driver has a streak of consecutive starts that currently stands at 761. He is expected to tie the all-time record of 788 set by Ricky Rudd next season in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup playoffs opener Sept. 20 at Chicagoland Speedway ; he'd break the mark the following weekend at New Hampshire Motor Speedway . But the back ailment Gordon referenced threw that ironman streak into peril last spring, when spasms during Coors Light Pole Qualifying caused him to sit out practice on the eve of the Coca-Cola 600 , the series' longest race. Gordon eventually completed all 600 miles. His back, though, still isn't quite without lingering pain. "No -- 100 percent? That was a long time ago," Gordon said. "But it doesn't seem to affect me inside the car and that's the most important thing. It hurts afterward, it hurts during the week, but once I'm inside the car, I'm able to focus on what I need to do." While Gordon drew a fair amount of teasing because of his age during some of Champion's Week's more candid moments, his stature among his peers was unquestioned. During the NASCAR After the Lap tell-all, all 16 Chase qualifiers were asked if they were fans of Gordon as they took their first steps into the sport; nearly every hand went up. "It was humbling, I'll be honest," Gordon said. "Maybe even if they were (fans), they might not want to admit it. The fact they were admitting it means a lot to me." MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Dylan Kwasniewski will also get behind wheel of No. 42 Team owners Chip Ganassi and Harry Scott Jr. announced a formal merger of their partnership in the NASCAR XFINITY Series on Thursday, forging a single-car team under the new name of HScott Motorsports with Chip Ganassi for 2015. The team announced that Kyle Larson , the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Sunoco Rookie of the Year, and NASCAR Next alumnus Dylan Kwasniewski will be among the drivers of the No. 42 Chevrolet. Mike Shiplett -- who has worked as a crew chief and car chief for Richard Petty Motorsports , Turner Scott Motorsports and Gillett Evernham Motorsports -- will be the team's crew chief. Larson, 22, scored two wins for the team last season under its former Turner Scott Motorsports umbrella, breaking through at Auto Club Speedway in his home state of California for his first victory in the Nationwide Series, which will be backed by XFINITY in 2015. Larson prevailed again at Charlotte Motor Speedway in May. Kwasniewski competed in a full rookie season on the Nationwide Series circuit last year, driving 28 of 33 races in Turner Scott's No. 31 Chevy and the rest in the No. 42. The 19-year-old Las Vegas native won the pole position for the season opener at Daytona International Speedway and wound up 11th in the final 2014 standings. Ganassi, a former IndyCar driver who became a team owner in the premier NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in 2001, fielded teams in what is now the XFINITY Series from 2004-08, netting six wins among four drivers -- Reed Sorenson , Jamie McMurray , Casey Mears and Juan Pablo Montoya . The team will operate out of the Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates race shop in Concord, North Carolina. Scott also announced a partnership with road racer Justin Marks for a four-car operation in the developmental NASCAR K&N Pro Series East. HScott Motorsports with Justin Marks will field entries for returning driver Scott Heckert and three rookie contenders -- William Byron, 17; J.J. Haley, 15; and Dalton Sargeant, 16. MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
See what drivers have to say about keeping friendships on the track RELATED: Subscribe to NASCAR Illustrated Photo credit: Jim Fluharty/NASCAR Illustrated Is it hard for drivers to maintain friendships with one another? Austin Dillon, Sprint Cup Driver, ( @austindillon3 ) "It's harder for some drivers than it is for others. You just have to learn how to have friendships with those guys because you see them so often. There's a balance between being a friend or just a guy that you know. It can be tough to hit that balance." Brian Vickers, Sprint Cup Driver, ( @BrianLVickers ) "It goes both ways. You have this common interest and respect for each other because of what you do. They are also your competitors. You race with them each week and things happen. You get in accidents, you get mad at each other, so friendships come and go. The respect is probably what keeps friendships together." Kevin Swindell, Nationwide driver, ( @KevinSwindell ) "It can be. A lot of guys go off the old adage, 'If you want friends at the race track, bring them with you.' As you get older, your mindset tends to change. You forgive a little quicker and get to thinking that not everyone is out to get you." Elliott Sadler, Nationwide driver, ( @Elliott_Sadler ) "No, not at all. I've got a lot of friends in this sport. It's almost like a traveling family. You're with drivers more than you're with your own family. You might have an issue with somebody, but you're such close friends, you talk it out and work through it." Have you ever been surprised by how a driver you thought was a friend talked about you or raced you on the track? DILLON: "Yes, at certain times, I've gone, 'Wow, I didn't think he'd say something like that.' Or other drivers have done things after the race that left me saying, 'I don't know that guy.' But you always get over it because there are times when all of us act out of character." VICKERS: " For me, what happens on the track is on the track. I may be mad or disappointed about how someone handled a situation, but that's purely for how they handled things on the track. I wouldn't let it change how I felt about them as a friend." SWINDELL: "There's always something, but you've got to stop and ask yourself, 'Would I have done the same thing to them?' If that's the case, you've got to calm down and let it slide." SADLER: "You run into that all the time, but it’s in the heat of the moment. I'd say 75 to 80 percent of the guys out here are great guys who would do anything in the world for you. But you've got to go out there and race hard and know where to draw the line." Have you ever gotten to know a driver for the first time and come away thinking, "That guy is cooler than I thought?" DILLON: "First impressions are big with me. I feel like I know where someone stands pretty early on when I meet them. I have talked to some guys and come away thinking, 'Man, that's a good guy.' I have also thought, 'Man, that guy is a loser,' and then spent 30 minutes with them and come away thinking totally different of them. I've learned that you've got to be open-minded with everybody. You've got to give everyone a chance." VICKERS: "You have perceptions of people and sometimes that changes when you get to know them. With people in the public eye, you're almost forced to make a judgment of them before you really know them based on what you’ve seen of them. Then you meet them and maybe get a different impression." SWINDELL: "Sure. There are always people that have a reputation one way or the other, and you come away surprised that they are different than you thought." SADLER: "I've had that happen a couple of times, and I've talked to drivers I didn't really know and felt like, 'That guy is going to have a tough time.' " SUBSCRIBE NOW!