Aspen Dental named 'Official Dentist of NASCAR,' expands SHR partnership
BUY TICKETS: Celebrate Auto Club's 20th anniversary RELATED: Aspen Dental, NASCAR, Patrick grow relationship NASCAR ® and Aspen Dental , one of the largest and fastest-growing networks of independent dental care providers in the United States, announced today a multi-year official partnership, designating the brand as the "Official Dentist of NASCAR." The announcement coincides with the launch of Aspen Dental's "Get Started" awareness building health initiative with NASCAR and Stewart-Haas Racing driver Danica Patrick. "Aspen Dental's level of dedication to drive awareness and educate fans about the importance of dental health, especially as it relates to quality of life for everyday Americans is inspiring and contagious," said Chad Seigler, vice president, business development, NASCAR. "We welcome Aspen Dental to our family of Official Partners and look forward to adding our voice to amplify the important message behind Aspen Dental's 'Get Started' initiative." This partnership is important because nearly 150 million Americans didn't visit a dentist in the past year, due to barriers like access, fears and lack of insurance. For many of these everyday Americans, poor oral health has resulted in chronic pain and inflammation, limiting many from living a healthy life, and sometimes, impacting other health conditions. Aspen Dental's "Get Started" initiative will help NASCAR fans take a simple step to start or restart and gain control of their oral health by seeing a dental professional. Aspen Dental-branded practices offer patients a safe, welcoming and judgment-free environment to get the full range of dental care they need along with the convenience and speed of onsite denture labs. "Our goal is to help race fans through Aspen Dental practices and encourage them through this official partnership with NASCAR to 'Get Started' on their road to better oral health and make dentistry easier," said Bob Fontana, chairman and CEO of ADMI. "Together, with the help of Danica Patrick, we want to tell race fans that all you need to do is 'Get Started' to gain control of their oral health." Aspen Dental has been a partner of Stewart-Haas Racing since 2012 and aligned with Patrick since 2014. This year, the brand will serve as the lead sponsor of Patrick's No. 10 Ford Fusion for a double-digit slate of races. Patrick has shined a spotlight on oral health across multiple channels, promoting Aspen Dental's Healthy Mouth Movement – a community-giving initiative which has delivered more than $7.5 million in donated dentistry for veterans since its inception. Additionally, she has appeared in "A Taste of the Future" – a hidden-camera video campaign designed to raise awareness about the long-term consequences of delaying dental care. "I'm really excited about working with Aspen Dental to support them in breaking down the barriers to better care, better smiles and better lives," said Patrick. "Starts and restarts are part of our sport. The same is true for gaining control of your oral health. Through 'Get Started,' we will encourage NASCAR fans to get started – or restarted – on their own road to better oral health." Fans can visit AspenDental.com/GetStarted to be entered to WIN an all-expense paid, VIP trip experience for two to the 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race November 5, 2017 at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth for a VIP experience and a meet-and-greet with Patrick. The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season will continue with the Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway on Sunday, March 26 at 3:30 p.m. ET on FOX, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.
Johnson sits out qualifying after accident at Auto Club
BUY TICKETS: Celebrate Auto Club's 20th anniversary RELATED: Johnson at 'home track' " No. 48's Auto Club stats FONTANA, Calif. -- Defending race winner Jimmie Johnson did not make a qualifying attempt for Sunday's Auto Club 400, the team announced late Friday afternoon just before qualifying was to begin at the 2-mile track. Johnson's No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet was involved in a single-car incident during practice and the team opted to bring out a backup car. Work on the car was not completed in time for him to turn any laps in the final practice and his Hendrick Motorsports team decided not to participate in qualifying with the car untested. "We had a tough practice session and mid-pack was probably going to be our goal anyway so to take our lumps here at a track that's really wide with a lot of lanes, a long race ... we'll take our lumps and get the car right," Johnson said. "We'll take advantage of the precious minutes we'll have in Saturday's practice session and go from there. "Pit road is going to be a problem," the six-time California winner conceded. "We're not going to have a good pick there. We're definitely not in a position we want to be in, so we're going to take the time now and make sure we get everything right, get the car right." WATCH: Johnson spins in practice " Lineup in photos Said No. 48 crew chief Chad Knaus: "I just felt it was wiser to get the car prepared correctly rather than qualify poorly. I wasn't comfortable putting Jimmie in a position where he would have to hustle a car that he hasn’t turned a lap in yet. "We are all the way out here on the west coast, and brought two race cars. If we were to crash this car, we would have to pull a car from a teammate and it would be a very difficult obstacle to overcome. We want to be prepared to put the best race car on the track for our driver, Lowe's, Chevrolet and all of our sponsors. So, we are going to take the time to do that by working on it this afternoon." Johnson will start 37th for Sunday's race, but he did not seem overly concerned. He started last in the 2016 season finale at Miami and rallied to win the race and his record-tying seventh Cup title. RELATED: Full lineup for Sunday -- Johnson starts 37th "If I was to tear this car up again in qualifying we'd be heading next door to the 88 team to get their backup car, put a wrap on it, change (the) interior," Johnson said. "We just felt it best to get everything right and get prepared for (Saturday). We'll start from the tail end, but I think my history shows I can make up plenty of spots, pass plenty of cars. "We'll just make it exciting coming back." &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;
NASCAR checks in to Hotels for Hope
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- NASCAR announced today a multi-year partnership with Hotels for Hope designating the company as the "Official Hotel Booking Partner of NASCAR®." Hotels for Hope, a hotel inventory brokerage with a philanthropic business model, services large scale consumer events across the country and will now include NASCAR race weekends. As part of the partnership, a landing page on NASCAR.com ( www.nascar.com/hotels ) launches today, allowing the industry and fans to book hotels for upcoming race weekends through its "Raceday Hotels by Hotels for Hope™" platform. For each actualized room night booked through Hotels for Hope, one dollar will be donated to The NASCAR Foundation. "There's really nothing like attending a NASCAR race and partnering with Hotels for Hope will provide our fans with a convenient and streamlined process to book travel," said Chad Seigler, NASCAR vice president of business development. "Hotels for Hope drives awareness and funds for notable charitable organizations and we are proud that The NASCAR Foundation will be represented among them." Hotels for Hope's database of over 600,000 hotel partners are utilized across a wide variety of events including music festivals, food and wine festivals, business conferences, trade shows, and more. With custom branded solutions and room block management, Hotels for Hope's technology will fulfill the hotel accommodations for any type of event. "Hotels for Hope's industry leading technology uses hotel reservations as a vehicle to raise awareness and support nonprofit partners, including The NASCAR Foundation," said Neil Goldman, Hotels for Hope CEO and founder. "Servicing NASCAR.com and the fans allows us to reach a larger audience, and to drive more bookings with meaning through this sport." Similar to The NASCAR Foundation, Hotels for Hope's mission is to improve the lives of children worldwide. All the nonprofits on its preferred list work to help children live happier and healthier lives. The NASCAR Foundation is committed to making children's health and medical needs a top priority. "The NASCAR Foundation is rooted in improving the life and health of children," said Nichole Kreiger, The NASCAR Foundation acting executive director. "We are thrilled to be working with an Official Partner that has the same commitment, and look forward to making an impact together." Through the Speediatrics Children's Fund, the Foundation supports needs for hospitals, clinics, and other organizations providing children's medical care. Since its inception, more than one million children in need have been aided. The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season will continue with the Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway on Sunday, March 26 at 3:30 p.m. ET on FOX, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.
Behind the Hauler: A conversation with Kyle Larson
NASCAR.com’s Jonathan Merryman sits down with Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series points leader Kyle Larson to discuss his hot start to 2017, and his string of three consecutive second-place finishes.
Chad Knaus single-handedly helps Carolina Panthers win football game
RELATED: Johnson pounds the drum at Panthers game All he does is win, win, win no matter what ... sport? Seven-time championship-winning crew chief Chad Knaus was on hand at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, North Carolina on Sunday to help the Carolina Panthers beat the San Diego Chargers, 28-16. Chad Knaus gets the #SDvsCAR game started @BankofAmerica stadium! #KeepPounding pic.twitter.com/O4e8Alwq74 — Hendrick Motorsports (@TeamHendrick) December 11, 2016 It's truly remarkable that all the Hendrick Motorsports wiz had to do was hit this "Keep Pounding" drum during pre-game ceremonies to lead the Panthers to victory. Certainly wouldn't rule it out that Knaus, ever the strategist, gave head coach Ron Rivera a few game plan tips before kickoff, too. Either way, chalk up another W for Knaus. It was all him, and definitely not the touchdowns by Cam Newton, Jonathan Stewart and Devin Funchess. Nope.
Chad Knaus accepts Crew Chief of the Year Award
Chad Knaus, crew chief of the No. 48 team, accepts the Crew Chief of the Year Award at the 2016 Myers Brothers Awards Luncheon.
Could Jimmie, Chad have been split up before the Chase?
Rick Hendrick speaks with the media at Homestead-Miami Speedway about the possibility of Jimmie Johnson and crew chief Chad Knaus being split up during the summer months when Hendrick Motorsports was struggling.
Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg takes spin with Dale Earnhardt Jr.
RELATED: See Zuckerberg's day at the shop and with Dale Jr. at the track CHARLOTTE, NC -- Mark Zuckerberg sits in Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s No. 88 Chevrolet with a huge grin on his face Tuesday afternoon at Charlotte Motor Speedway. The Facebook co-founder and CEO just finished a 175-plus-mph ride around the 1.5-mile track with Earnhardt Jr. as his driver. And he's impressed. "OK, if this is all we get to do in Charlotte, that will be enough," Zuckerberg says via Facebook Live. "What an amazing experience. … I think there were probably millions of people who would die to do what I just did." He certainly looks the part, dressed in a white helmet and blue NASCAR Racing Experience fire suit, the coloring similar to Earnhardt Jr.'s own ensemble. Zuckerberg has a relaxed, easy demeanor about him as he chats with cameramen, crew members and speedway employees. MORE: Learn about the NASCAR Racing experience But those initial laps with Junior behind the wheel were anything but a Sunday morning jaunt. "Holy s---t!" he says, as Junior veers the No. 88 machine around Turn 2 and up the banking. "All right we're a little close to the wall." "I wanted him to get a sense of the speed and the grip and the G-Forces," Earnhardt says on the ride-along. " … I'm sure it was exhilarating. I couldn't imagine getting into a car with a race car driver having never driven before myself." Zuckerberg's foray into NASCAR began with his desire to learn more about the racing community. He has been traveling around the country throughout the year, visiting different states in hopes of learning about the diverse groups of people that make up America. The NASCAR community is one that intrigued him. "NASCAR and driving and sports in general form the basis of a lot of communities," Zuckerberg says. "You think about not only the community of drivers and the families around them, but NASCAR's probably, I think, the biggest sport in the country that people go to and attend live. "… I have this big belief with Facebook and what we're doing to help people try to build community that we all need to be a part of something bigger than ourselves and certainly all the fans -- I think you have three million fans on Facebook who follow Dale Jr. For them, NASCAR's a huge part of their identity and a lot of people pin their hopes on you going out and winning." "They're very supportive," Earnhardt Jr. says of his fans later. But Zuckerberg is privy to Junior Nation: "Well, you have good fans, though," he says with a chuckle. • • • Zuckerberg's quest to learn more about the NASCAR community began earlier that day in a sub-community of racing: The Hendrick Motorsports race shop in Charlotte, North Carolina. He arrived at the Nos. 48/88 shop -- that builds and prepares race cars for Earnahrdt Jr. and reigning Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson -- dressed in a gray hoodie, jeans and Nikes, with an appetite for racing knowledge apparent. Who better to give it to him than No. 48 crew chief Chad Knaus? "The crew captain!" Zuckerberg exclaims as he walks into the shop and shakes Knaus' hand. Knaus is giving Zuckerberg a private tour today. The two walk into the shop, and almost immediately Zuckerberg begins asking questions. His brow furrows and there's a "Wow!" often dancing around his mouth. Knaus leads the group from the shop and into a side room where the 7-post machine is testing one of the unpainted cars. Zuckerberg's face lights up when the car starts to rattle and shake. "Super nice guy, shockingly normal," Knaus tells NASCAR.com after the tour. "Very inquisitive. He was definitely curious about what it is that we do and he had a ton of questions. They were actually very good questions. I was happy to hear that. "... He was asking about what we do, how the cars are built, where we take them, the differences between a short track car and a high speed track car," Knaus continues. "He was asking about the tire stagger, how we choreograph our pit stops." Hendrick Motorsports presents Zuckerberg with a personalized team jersey and signed helmet upon the conclusion of the tour. "Now don't wear that when you're driving your car, that's for display purposes only," Knaus jokes. No matter: In a few minutes, he'll get his own racing-ready helmet anyway. • • • After a few laps with Junior, it's time for Zuckerberg to wheel a race car on his own. He had a few practice laps earlier that day, with Dale Jr. coaching him via in-car radio. "You're going to come down the apron, down pit road," Earnhardt said earlier. "Where's that?" Zuckerberg asked. "Where you came from," Junior said with a smile. "Oh, that's a wall, there's nothing good over there," Zuckerberg said cheerfully, piloting the race car around Turn 4 and down pit road. Now, he's relatively prepared, as he climbs into the car for another run. "I kind of showed you the line," Junior coaches. "Down the front straightaway, nice and broad, good smooth arc down the front straightaway. And then on the back straightaway, you get out against that fence, as close as you're comfortable with." "I think probably a little further away than you were," Zuckerberg says. "You got pretty close there." "I know, I was doing that on purpose, we probably wouldn't race that close," Junior says with a grin. Zuckerberg gets going, hitting 5,000 RPMs soon into his run. He hugs the white line, moving toward the high line later. He seems to grow more comfortable as his run continues. "We're just down here hanging out," he says with a smile. "After driving with you, I don't feel that we're pushing it that hard here." "Get a little more aggressive!" Junior urges, as Zuckerberg hits the rev limiter on the car. "I don't think it wants me going faster than 5,000 RPMs," Zuckerberg says. He takes a couple more laps and then comes down pit road, the grin still plastered on his face. And he's worked up an appetite. He asks about a promised dinner of fried chicken, then invites Junior to join him for a post-race meal. • • • Zuckerberg and Earnhardt engage in a conversation after their ride, a plate of fried chicken and a biscuit sitting by Zuckerburg. They talk for a while quietly, away from the cameras and lights from today. It has been a day of immersion for Zuckerberg, whose knowledge about racing has significantly increased since he arrived in North Carolina. But it was just as beneficial for NASCAR, too, as the worlds of racing and ever-growing social media industry merged on a different front. "When you have someone that has that many touch points, that many people that he influences, having him come and experience what NASCAR was all about is a tremendous opportunity for our sport," Steve Phelps, NASCAR executive vice president and chief global sales and marketing officer, told NASCAR.com. "Watching him ride along with Dale Earnhardt Jr. and the expression on his face and truly to get to experience what it's like to be in car and how fast it is, how loud it is, how much the vibration of the car is. "I think he has a newfound respect and we're trying to get new fans, one fan at a time. Having someone like Mark out here is certainly an opportunity for us to get more than one fan at a time."
Larson catches the bouquet in Phoenix
From Kyle Larson's bridesmaid performance to Six Degrees of Kyle Busch, NASCAR.com's Kim Coon takes a look at this weekend's racing from Phoenix Raceway on this week's Rearview Mirror.
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