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2013 NASCAR Hall Of Fame Inductee: Cotton Owens
Cotton Owens may have only had nine wins as a driver, but he was known for being a team owner for a group that included David Pearson and Junior Johnson. Owens died just days after he was announced as a member of the 2013 class.
O'Donnell addresses updated post-race LIS procedures
NASCAR's Executive Vice President and Chief Racing Development Officer, Steve O'Donnell addresses recent updates to NASCAR's post-race laser inspection penalties.
How does a doll fit into Darlington's history?
DARLINGTON, S.C. -- NASCAR competitors have driven with good luck charms for probably as long the sanctioning body has been in existence. A rabbit's foot here, a four-leaf clover there, lucky shoes for some, specific pre-race rituals for others. The lucky penny that rode with Dale Earnhardt to his lone victory in the Daytona 500 in 1998 can still be found glued to the dash of the familiar black No. 3 Chevrolet. After winning back-to-back Daytona 500 titles in 1994-95, former driver Sterling Marlin refused to vary from his pre-race routine leading up to the season-opening event. Marlin stayed in the same hotel, in the same room, wore the same T-shirt under his uniform and dined on the same pre-race meal -- a bologna sandwich and soft drink. More of an early marketing stunt than an attempt to reverse his fortunes on the race track, former series champion Tim Flock raced with a monkey named Jocko Flocko riding shotgun for several races in 1953. Which brings us to this weekend's Bojangles’ Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway (Sunday, 7 p.m. ET, NBC, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio), and the Stock Car Racing Museum located on the grounds of the historic track. Among the several cars on display inside the museum is the race-winning entry from the very first Southern 500 held in 1950. Johnny Mantz, an open-wheel racer who made just 12 NASCAR starts between '50-'56, piloted the black No. 98 Plymouth. Burlington, North Carolina, businessman Hubert Westmoreland was the car's owner. Riding along with Mantz in the car that Labor Day was a child's doll that belonged to the daughter of Alvin Hawkins, a race promoter and flagman. According to reports, the team wanted to remove the doll before the start of the race -- how it got in there in the first place isn't known -- but Lottie Westmoreland, Hubert's wife, convinced them to leave it in the car for good luck. Mantz, in just his third NASCAR start, won by nine laps in a 75-car field that included future Hall of Famers Fireball Roberts, Lee Petty, Cotton Owens and Flock. The doll was taken out and placed in storage following the race, where it stayed forgotten for several years. When track officials donated the car to the museum in 1965, the story of the doll resurfaced; it was located and returned to its rightful place inside the car where it has remained all these years. An arm is missing and the shoes have disappeared as well. Time has taken its toll, understandable given her age. Sixty-five years after Darlington Raceway ushered in a new era in NASCAR and Johnny Mantz roared to a surprising victory, a child's toy is a silent reminder of yesterday.
A Hall of Fame night
Herb Thomas, Leonard Wood, Rusty Wallace, Cotton Owens and Buck Baker are selected for the 2013 NASCAR Hall of Fame.
Almirola gets new crew chief on No. 43 team
MOORESVILLE, N.C. (September 13, 2016) - Richard Petty Motorsports today announced more competition changes in a continued effort to improve their on-track performance. Effectively immediately, Drew Blickensderfer will take over the crew chief responsibilities for the No. 43 Ford Fusion previously held by Trent Owens . Owens will be reassigned a position within the company. Late last month, RPM leadership started an aggressive strategy to improve speed, performance and future growth of RPM. The goal is to improve on-track results from 2016 and to capitalize on the progress made in previous seasons. Blickensderfer, who most recently served as Director of Research and Development with RPM, has a proven history of winning and been a valued employee at RPM for the last four years. Blickensderfer, who brings nine years of Crew Chief experience in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, made his Crew Chief debut in 2009 at Roush Fenway Racing in the NASCAR XFINITY Series. Since that time, he worked with 13 different drivers in both series and tallied 15 wins, including a Daytona 500 win in 2009, 16 Top-Five finishes and 104 Top-10 finishes. "We are continuing to analyze every part of our organizations and make adjustments where needed," said Brian Moffitt, Chief Executive Office, Richard Petty Motorsports . "We've made significant investments in both teams, and the results for the No. 43 team have not been what we expected. By making this change now, we hope that Drew (Blickensderfer) can begin momentum to improving on-track performance and get the team in a good place for the 2017 season. Trent Owens has been a valued member of our organization and will continue to play a significant role with Richard Petty Motorsports ." The No. 43 team and Aric Almirola have seen success on the track in recent seasons with the team's most consistent season together and highest average finish to date in 2015. They were also a race winning team in 2014 and competed in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup . Blickensderfer will begin his duties at the track in Chicago this weekend.
Top 10 debuts with new teams
Matt Kenseth's 2013 run with Joe Gibbs Racing among best starts with new teams
Pearn bummed after failing inspection
Cole Pearn reacts after failing post-race laser inspection after winning at Chicagoland Speedway on Sunday.
Almirola meets with NASCAR officials at Bristol
BRISTOL, Tenn. – NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Aric Almirola and crew chief Trent Owens met with NASCAR officials after the completion of Sunday's Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway . The post-race meeting was at the sanctioning body's request. Almirola and Owens met with officials to discuss a Lap 437 accident involving the Richard Petty Motorsports driver, Austin Dillon ( Richard Childress Racing ) and Martin Truex Jr . ( Furniture Row Racing ). Almirola's No. 43 Ford eventually came to rest after being struck by the Truex entry. But rather than drop his window net to signify that he was not injured, Almirola apparently no longer had reverse gear in his car and wanted a push from the emergency crew. Almirola eventually finished 34th. He and Owens and others that met with officials left without commenting to the media. NASCAR officials would only say that the reason for the meeting was the driver's "failure to follow proper protocol following his incident on the track."
Almirola hopes late-season momentum carries over
KANSAS CITY, Kan. -- Post a couple of top-10 finishes and folks call it a coincidence. String several together, however, and it begins to look like a trend. That's what NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Aric Almirola is counting on these days. The Richard Petty Motorsports driver has posted four top-10 finishes in his last five outings, including a pair of top-five results. Almirola, 31, enters Sunday's Hollywood Casino 400 (2:15 p.m. ET, NBC, MRN, SiriusXM) at Kansas Speedway having failed to qualify for this year's Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup . But he's not out of contention for possible race wins. His recent efforts in the familiar No. 43 Ford have told him as much. A fourth at Richmond, 10th at Chicagoland, fifth at Dover and 10th again at Charlotte with only a 43rd-place finish at New Hampshire marring an otherwise consistent string of finishes. So do Almirola and his team see the competitive turn as a trend? "I do," he said Friday just before qualifying got underway. "I feel like we've really hit on some stuff that's really working for me, the cars have been driving good, we've had real good long-run speed for the last six weeks and that's paid off for us. "We still have to work on our cars to find some short-run speed, and really run some fast laps but ... the way our cars have been racing has been really good. I think we're on to something." Although he narrowly missed qualifying for the 10-race Chase, Almirola sits 17th in points -- highest among those who failed to earn one of this year's 16 berths. He finished 11th at Kansas when the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series visited the 1.5-mile track earlier this season. Talladega, Martinsville, Texas, Phoenix and Homestead round out the remaining races on this year's Sprint Cup schedule. "You hope it's a trend, right?" said crew chief Trent Owens . "Recently I think we've gotten maybe just a little bit more speed in our cars. It's not necessarily one thing I'm doing. "I think we were really bummed we didn't get in the Chase because we felt like we were in all year. We felt like we did what we were supposed to do to earn a spot on points if we didn't win. We had an unfortunate engine situation at Pocono, and a crash at Indy. ... A couple of events just put us out." Darlington, where Almirola finished 11th, was good even though it was with an aerodynamic package that won't be used again until 2016. At Richmond "we put our best effort in there," and scored a top-five, Owens noted. That momentum carried over into a test at Kansas where he said the team "found a few items that might help our cars on the mile-and-a -halves." Chicago was solid as was Charlotte, where the team had struggled. "That kind of said, 'yeah, we might be doing the right thing,' " said Owens . Beyond the Team Penske entries of 2012 champion Brad Keselowski (one win) and teammate Joey Logano (four wins), the 2015 season hasn't been particularly memorable for many of those in the Ford camp. Roush Fenway Racing failed to place one of its three teams in the Chase for the first time since the format debuted in 2004. And Sam Hornish Jr ., Almirola's teammate, has only three top-10 results on the year. Almirola's improved finishing positions have yet to include a surge in leading laps -- he's led only three all season. But he knows his team is getting better each week. "Honestly, you just compare yourself to the competition, right? And I think even the best car in the field probably has some issues. He's probably a little tight in the center or what have you," Almirola said. "But he's doing it running faster than everyone else. ... "I think relative to the competition we have improved the handling of our cars and the way our cars are performing ... during race conditions." The simple answer, Owens said, is that the team needs faster race cars to lead laps and to "get to that next level." "If you asked someone to name the race teams in order, we are a middle-of-the-road race team when you talk about people size, money, resources," he said. "It's hard to make that jump all the way to first. You can make that jump from 20th to 10th. But to get to fifth and to get to first, dominate races and lead laps, that's a pretty big step, not just people-wise, but money-wise and resources." Almirola will start 23rd Sunday. It's been 48 races since his last, and so far only, victory in the Sprint Cup Series. Progress has come slowly. But expectations are rising for Almirola and everyone on the team. "When you go through a stretch where you run 20th and you just can't seem to find the speed, every weekend you go to the airport and you're ... not necessarily excited but you're kind of hopeful," he said. "It's like, 'I'm not sure if Santa is real, but I hope he is.' "Then when you start running good, you get excited to get on the plane on Thursdays and go to the race track because you've got some momentum on your side. "You feel like you're just maybe a few small things away from being able to go up there and compete to win races."
Byron lends a hand to GarageCam in Michigan
Host Matthew Dillner is joined by guest co-host NASCAR Camping World Truck Series rookie William Byron as they take you through the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series garage at Michigan International Speedway.