RELATED: Where does No. 88 team stack up in this week's pit crew rankings? CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Dale Earnhardt Jr . said he doesn't anticipate any further changes to his pit crew even though teammate Jimmie Johnson has been knocked out of this year’s Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup . Earnhardt and fellow Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jeff Gordon advanced into the Contender Round of the Chase, which begins this weekend at Charlotte Motor Speedway . Johnson, a six-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion, did not secure one of the 12 Chase positions, falling by the wayside when a rear axle seal failed during Sunday's AAA 400 at Dover International Speedway . RELATED: Johnson's dream of seventh title in 2015 washed away at Dover Speaking to the media Tuesday at the NASCAR Hall of Fame, Earnhardt couldn't guarantee that there would be no changes in his over-the-wall crew, "but I would like to keep my guys," he said. Earnhardt's last win came in July at Daytona. His pass of Jamie McMurray in the closing laps at Dover vaulted him into the Contender Round, but he and his team had to overcome a loose wheel during the race to put themselves back in contention. A caution allowed Earnhardt to pit and correct the problem and kept him from having to come to pit road under green-flag conditions. "I'll be honest with you. … I don't know what's going to happen. You might find out tomorrow that somebody got changed," he said. "I don't think you build a guy's trust … he needs to know that you believe in him; the same for the driver. The driver needs to know the team believes he can do it. "I think the (tire) carrier, the (tire) changer, all those guys want to think that the driver and everyone involved believes in them when they go over the wall. "If I take the 48 guys because I think they're better, then what am I going to do next year when we have to start from scratch again? All those guys that are on my car now are going to be pissed off because I don't believe in them because I took the 48 guys when the going got tough. "So I don't believe in doing that. I think that my guys can do it; I think we will find the combination that works for us to get to the end of the season and beyond." RELATED: Change made to No. 88 pit crew Earnhardt's No. 88 crew has been retooled in recent weeks, most recently for Dover as front-tire changer Scott Brzozowski replaced David Mayo, who had earlier been replaced by Kevin Novak but had been brought back onto the main crew. The addition of Brzozowski can possibly be a game-changer for the team, according to Earnhardt . "I hope that Scott wants to stick around beyond this season," he said. "I actually talked to him today. "It's not like we need two new (tire) changers. We just need one key guy that can come in and kind of elevate the standard and push everyone. Over the past couple of years when we've had great pit crews, a lot of the guys that we've been working with this year were on those teams. "If you get one guy in there that’s kind of a key player … like a wide receiver or a quarterback is to a football team, he can really elevate the play of everybody around him and boost the entire crew; just the confidence that those guys have going over the wall when he's a part of it changes the whole consistency of the team." Gordon's No. 24 team picked up the services of tire changer Nick Odell recently, which freed up the move for Brzozowski to the 88. Gordon, a four-time champion in his final full-time season, is still searching for his first win in 2015. "We really want Scott to try to wrap his brain around sticking with us," Earnhardt said. "We could really use a guy like him on the 88 car to bring some stability to the rest of the group. I've got a lot of faith in our guys; it's not like we need to go crazy and blow it up, go looking outside our system." Any crew changes for his team, he said, would be orchestrated by crew chief Greg Ives and Hendrick Motorsports General Manager Doug Duchardt. Swapping individual crew members heading into the Chase isn't unusual. There have even been cases of swapping entire crews, in the middle of a race no less, as Johnson and Gordon did in 2010. "I know teams have done that before but I just feel like, yeah you might get somewhere in the short term and get some stability but over the long term you basically have just destroyed the integrity of the team you have," Earnhardt said. "Having those guys back at the beginning of next season is not going to be an option. They're not going to want to work for you once you take them off the car during the Chase."
TaxSlayer.com revealed Dale Earnhardt Jr .'s paint scheme for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race the company will sponsor next year. The bright red look is different from a typical Junior scheme, but the man who drives the No. 88 Chevrolet likes it -- after all, he helped design it, according to the company, and Junior said on Twitter that he was influenced by one of his dad's paint schemes. Earnhardt 1987 https://t.co/FA8pO4Ohi7 — Dale Earnhardt Jr . (@DaleJr) October 5, 2015 TaxSlayer.com is expanding its involvement with JR Motorsports in 2016 while also beginning a new relationship with Hendrick Motorsports . It will serve as the primary sponsor for a total of 10 NASCAR XFINITY Series races in 2016, appearing on the No. 7 JRM Chevrolet currently driven by Regan Smith as well as the No. 88 entry that has been fielded for various drivers this season. In addition to serving as the primary sponsor of Earnhardt Jr.'s No. 88 Sprint Cup entry for one race in 2016, TaxSlayer.com will also be an associate sponsor throughout the year.
Former Joe Gibbs Racing tire changer Nick Odell has signed a deal with Hendrick Motorsports that will make him a member of the No. 24 pit crew, the team confirmed. Odell drew interest from several teams after he was released by JGR last week. He was a longtime front tire changer for the No. 18 Toyota driven by Kyle Busch . Scott Brzozowski was the front tire changer for the No. 24 team. He came to Hendrick Motorsports after working with the No. 39 crew of Ryan Newman at Stewart-Haas Racing . Brzozowski will move from the No. 24 team to the No. 88 team of Dale Earnhardt Jr . as its starting front tire changer. Brzozowski will replace David Mayo, who will return to a backup role. The roster moves are in effect starting at Dover. It's the second tweak to Earnhardt's pit crew in the past month. The changes to the No. 18 team last week came after changes to several teams in Chase contention, including the No. 88 pit crew, the No. 2 crew for Brad Keselowski 's Ford and the No. 78 group that services Martin Truex Jr .'s Chevrolet. For more pit crew information, visit PitTalks.com .
Dale Earnhardt Jr. makes a pass around Jamie McMurray to clinch the 12th position and advance in the 2015 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.
Jeffrey Earnhardt signed a multi-year deal starting with the 2016 season to drive in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series with Go FAS Racing. Earnhardt , 26, will pilot the No. 32 Ford Fusion and Can-Am will be on board to serve as a primary sponsor for 11 events and an associate-level partner for all other events in 2016. "I'm really excited to join GFR," Earnhardt said in a release provided by the team. "I'm thrilled to have Can-Am on board as our partner for 2016. I'm an avid outdoorsman and their products are the gold standard for outdoor sports, so it's a perfect fit. With Can-Am supporting our team we're certain to increase our competitiveness throughout the 2016 season." Earnhardt will compete for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Sunoco Rookie of the Year award. Veteran driver Bobby Labonte will also drive several events in the No. 32 Ford. "We are all really excited about this new partnership with Can-Am and Jeffrey Earnhardt for 2016", team owner Archie St. Hilaire said in a release. "This deal will improve our program and make us much more competitive in the upcoming season while giving Jeffrey all the tools he needs to succeed at this level. 2016 can't come soon enough for myself and everyone at GFR." The Mooresville, North Carolina native made his Sprint Cup debut at Richmond earlier this month, finishing 40th in the Federated Auto Parts 400 . He was on the entry list for the Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway (Sept. 27, 2 p.m. ET, NBCSN, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). For his career, Earnhardt has made 66 starts in the NASCAR XFINITY Series and 10 starts in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. Earnhardt is the grandson of the late Dale Earnhardt , nephew of Dale Earnhardt Jr . and the son of Kerry Earnhardt . Kerry made seven starts in the Sprint Cup Series, 72 starts in the XFINITY Series and 27 starts in the Camping World Truck Series. The Richmond race that Jeffrey ran marked the first time two Earnhardts were competing in the Sprint Cup Series in over a decade. The team also announced in a release that Go Green Racing will be competing under the Go FAS banner starting with Daytona Speedweeks in 2016.
TaxSlayer.com, a primary sponsor of the No. 7 JR Motorsports team with driver Regan Smith , will expand its involvement with the NASCAR XFINITY Series organization in 2016 while also beginning a new relationship with the Hendrick Motorsports Sprint Cup Series group. TaxSlayer.com, which has been affiliated with JRM since 2010, will serve as the primary sponsor for a total of 10 races in 2016, appearing on the No. 7 Chevrolet of Smith as well as the No. 88 entry that has been fielded for various drivers this season. The company will serve as the primary sponsor of Earnhardt Jr.'s No. 88 Sprint Cup entry for one race in 2016, as well as an associate throughout the year. "TaxSlayer is one of our longest-tenured sponsors," Earnhardt Jr. said in a release announcing the sponsorship. "… I'm extremely loyal to them. I hope the fans are, too. We've done great things together and I'm really looking forward to racing a TaxSlayer car in Sprint Cup next year." JRM fields three entries in the XFINTY Series. In addition to Smith's No. 7 and the No. 88 entry, the organization includes defending series champion Chase Elliott in the No. 9 Chevrolet. "It has been a privilege to be associated with Dale Jr. and JR Motorsports for so long," Jimmy Rhodes, TaxSlayer.com President and CEO, said. "And we're excited to add a new chapter with Hendrick Motorsports next season. "We have found an immense loyalty among NASCAR fans, but especially with Dale Jr.'s fans. We want to continue growing this partnership." Smith, a winner at Mid-Ohio earlier this year, is fourth in points as the XFINITY Series prepares to head to Kentucky Speedway for Saturday night's running of the VisitMyrtleBeach.com 300 (8 p.m., NBCSN).
NASCAR fan pops the question at the feet of 12-time Most Popular Driver The green flag for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond International Raceway hadn't even dropped on Saturday night before a wild act ensued on pit road ... and we're not talking about the typical post-race-drivers-yanking-fire-suit-collars fight. We're talking about love, y'all. RELATED: Dale Jr. proposes to Amy Reimann in Germany This pre-race proposal gets @DaleJr 's approval! #AskMRN pic.twitter.com/3ShQJsesgo — Motor Racing Network (@MRNRadio) September 12, 2015 She said yes!! #NW88JR pic.twitter.com/yFAX6r99BG — Nationwide 88 (@nationwide88) September 12, 2015 The man, who has now been identified as Bryan Letchworth, got down on one knee in front of the No. 88 Chevrolet and Mr. Dale Earnhardt Jr . himself and asked his now-fianceé to marry him. RELATED: Chad Knaus marries former Miss Sprint Cup Most people who are about to propose get blessings from their significant other's father, mother, brother, etc., but maybe the Junior stamp of approval is all you really need. We can only hope she said, " Dale , yeah!"
His former crew chief made the move after the 2014 season and one of his teammates will move into the broadcast booth full-time next year. Now comes word that Dale Earnhardt Jr . will be stepping behind the microphone next season – albeit only as a guest commentator. NASCAR's most popular driver and winner of 25 Sprint Cup races isn't ready to hang up his helmet just yet. "I don't know if it's a career path for me – it just depends," Earnhardt Jr. told FOX Sports Live co-hosts Dan O'Toole and Jay Onrait. "I had tweeted that I was interested in doing some XFINITY races, so I think I'd like to try it," he said. "They extended the offer to me that we can give it a shot." Steve Letarte, Earnhardt's crew chief from 2011-14, took a position as race analyst with NBC Sports beginning this season. Teammate Jeff Gordon , retiring from full-time competition at year's end, will move into the FOX Sports broadcast booth in '16. FOX has used Gordon, as well as defending Sprint Cup Series champion Kevin Harvick , Brad Keselowski , Clint Bowyer and Danica Patrick occasionally in the booth as guest analysts for XFINITY Series races this year. "I want to go up there next year and watch a few races, or watch one race, and see what I'm getting myself into," Earnhardt Jr. said. "It looks like a lot of fun. All the drivers (this year) ... looked great, sounded great and the seemed to have a lot of fun doing it." FOX Sports NASCAR race coverage currently consists of the opening 16 Sprint Cup Series points events, the first 14 XFINITY Series races and the entire Camping World Truck Series schedule. NBC's coverage includes the final 20 Sprint Cup races, final 19 XFINITY Series races as well as NASCAR K&N Pro Series and Whelen Modified Tour events.
Eight tweets from around the NASCAR Twitterverse Editor's note: Every Friday, "Tweets You Might Have Missed" will present eight of the best NASCAR-related tweets from the week. 1. Retweet if you agree with Peyton's pick to have @DaleJr win the @NASCAR Sprint Cup in @HomesteadMiami . #GoodLuckDale pic.twitter.com/07CiSbIpo8 — Nationwide 88 (@nationwide88) September 22, 2015 2. Safe-no. Cute-YES! Ella... pic.twitter.com/gqiNtztSeH — Danica Patrick (@DanicaPatrick) September 25, 2015 3. Parking deck hangs...waiting to get the day started. Bout broke his back on that last one.. @Blaney pic.twitter.com/6Ago1EX2Po — Darrell Wallace Jr (@BubbaWallace) September 24, 2015 4. Saw my brother @KerryDEarnhardt tonight at a family deal. I swear it's like talking to the man himself. It's unreal how much he favors him. — Dale Earnhardt Jr . (@DaleJr) September 21, 2015 5. 21 ping pong balls in the jar and I won 3 large goldfish. Seem happy in their new home $160 after a 1am Walmart trip pic.twitter.com/t1BiiiFk2v — Tony Stewart (@TonyStewart) September 17, 2015 6. Small booth. I had burritos for lunch. Phil is disappointed. https://t.co/0DFknLJ33M — Michael Waltrip (@mw55) September 18, 2015 7. This is how my day went. pic.twitter.com/6F9E2o2giY — Kyle Larson (@KyleLarsonRacin) September 20, 2015 8. We time sure does fly by! Already 4 months n such a big personality! Love our Brexton so much! pic.twitter.com/y5hluXrRIo — Samantha Busch (@SamanthaBusch) September 24, 2015 FAN TWEET OF THE WEEK: I had to skip #BloominMonday and go to @jimmyjohns since @JimmieJohnson wrecked @KevinHarvick #blamejj #4thewin pic.twitter.com/oRK4kOXEdP — Josh Kaiser (@JoshHKaiser) September 21, 2015
Standing on stage holding his arms high above his head giving double peace signs, 10-year old Elijah Aschbrenner looked like a rock star – bright red hair, high wattage smile and unmistakable attitude. A year after being diagnosed with a rare childhood cancer, Epithelioid Sarcoma, Elijah struck the pose after joining NASCAR stars such as Dale Earnhardt Jr . and Danica Patrick walking the runway as part of the Martin Truex Jr . Foundation's "Catwalk for a Cause" pediatric cancer fundraiser this past May. Predictably, Earnhardt and Patrick got rousing cheers, but Elijah clearly stole the show -- afterwards be-bopping around the Mooresville, N.C., venue shaking hands with donors, grabbing snacks with his little brother Sam, 9, and posing for photos with the race car drivers. It was difficult to tell who was the celebrity and who was the cause célèbre. That was only five months ago. Unfortunately, a recent CT-scan revealed that despite the chemotherapy and the radiation and the surgeries -- despite great courage and faith -- Elijah's cancer has spread. And after a brief and hopeful time participating in a clinical trial in Atlanta last month, doctors have decided there is no further treatment to prescribe. A hospice nurse visits Elijah every Tuesday at his home outside Charlotte making sure he is comfortable. A hospice social worker also stops by regularly to counsel Sam and Elijah's friends, whom his mom, Becky Hughes, says "are having a real tough time with this." Though Elijah would much rather be riding a Ripstik outside with his brother and friends, he mostly spends his days in a wheelchair building elaborate Lego creations or watching television -- "Wheel of Fortune" is one of his favorites. "My mom and I are really good at it," he says. He loves the occasional trips to Target or Toys "R" Us, and the steady stream of visitors who bring prayers and love. The cancer has taken a real toll on Elijah's young body. His voice is softer and strained, his stamina greatly diminished, but cancer has not sapped his incredible spirit or lessened his intense resolve. "There are so many days I could just cry and let myself get buried in that, but I can't," his mom explained. "Elijah is strong and Sam is strong, always there to make us laugh and smile. "I have prayed to God to just give me this tumor. I would do that in a heartbeat. The worst pain in the world is seeing your child going through something like this, and you can't fix it, you can't do anything. "I could be an emotional wreck, but Elijah only allows me three minutes of crying a day. Some days I don't need it, but if I start to, he'll say, "Three minutes, Mom." Hughes has worked in the racing industry for years both as a driver public relations representative and now with sponsor Great Clips. She has been buoyed by the outpouring of support from the NASCAR community but not surprised. This weekend Elijah and his family will be guests of Ann and Ken Schrader at the Bank of America 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway . After some souvenir shopping -- his favorite part of the day -- Elijah is looking forward to stopping in the garage area and seeing his "friends" from the Catwalk event. So many of them have provided help to Elijah and his family. Drivers have lent their private airplanes to transport Elijah to various doctors around the Southeast. They have donated money to cover the escalating medical bills and sent messages of support using the hashtag #prayersforelijah on social media. More significantly, they have given their time and attention. Truex and his girlfiend, Sherry Pollex, herself undergoing treatment for ovarian cancer, are essentially on speed dial with the family and have been constant support for Elijah. Pollex organizes the Catwalk event and had been raising money ($300,000 this year) for childhood cancer long before she was affected personally by the disease. Team Penske put Elijah's name over the door of both of its Sprint Cup Series Chase contending cars last week. And 2012 Sprint Cup champion Brad Keselowski devoted one of the entries on his popular blogs to remind people about "perspective" in life. He used Elijah as a shining example. Roush Fenway Racing and Richard Childress Racing are among the organizations to publicly offer good wishes -- the entire team from shop foremen to drivers posing with a "Prayers for Elijah" sign. And while it is all a bit overwhelming and "very cool," Elijah joked this week that it does cause a minor problem when it comes to picking a driver to cheer for. "That's the hard part," Elijah said. "They are all so good to me. "The fact they know me is outstanding, I don't know how a kid like me would get that lucky to meet them. Just knowing them means a lot to me." His mother begins to cry when trying to explain the impact of those relationships. "He really looks up to Martin (Truex) and Dale Junior and Kasey (Kahne) and Jeff Gordon and feels like they are all his buddies because they have done events with him," Hughes said. "After the Catwalk, he'll talk about how Dale Junior is his buddy. During a race, he'll ask me to call Dale Jr. and get him to do this or that. I'll laugh. It shows how great these guys have been to Elijah. "Even if they were just with him for half an hour it made such an impact on him and made him feel comfortable and like a friend.That means everything to me. To see how happy he gets thinking he has all these buddies in all these different avenues of sports." Taking the cue from NASCAR's best, other sports have rallied about Elijah, too. WWE wrestling star Titus O'Neil changed a flight to detour to Charlotte and pay a visit to Elijah. Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton surprised Elijah at a block party in his honor -- a Halloween theme because that's Elijah's favorite holiday. News outlets from People Magazine to "The Today Show" shared the story. "I'm in disbelief. Every day we'll hear of another athlete doing something for him, last night someone sent us a picture of Kirk Cameron holding up a sign saying 'Prayers for Elijah,' " Hughes said. "It's just amazing to me, the outreach and the people that have been impacted throughout all this, from NASCAR, to WWE to the Panthers. Everyone's just put their arms around us and are supporting us. "He is definitely a loved little boy, and I am so blessed that God chose me to be his mom. He is the bravest little boy I know and I just pray for many, many more years to watch him grow up." It's not just famous people who have recognized and rallied for Elijah. Classmates from school visit him. The community organized a golf tournament fundraiser, and even local restaurants designated certain nights to donate funds. In some ways, "Prayers for Elijah" has grown from a sentimental hashtag or well wish into a movement. It is a plea for more funding and research into childhood cancers, which currently receive a very small portion of the overall funds. It is an inspiration reminding us if a 10-year-old boy can be this strong and positive despite all he's going through, then we should have great courage and a better attitude, too. It is a lesson in living in the present each day. As a breast cancer patient myself, I feel a special connection to Elijah. I was diagnosed a couple months after him and our chemotherapy treatments and surgeries often coincided. In fact, I had radiation treatment the morning I flew from Florida to Charlotte to attend May's Catwalk event. And I had to leave early the next morning to be back in the cancer center for my next round. That evening I asked Elijah what advice he had for other cancer patients. "Keep fighting," he said. "And breathe." His mom considers that evening a gift -- a time of pure happiness and excitement. How proud to know her son was an inspiration to every soul in the room. And still is. "He was amazing, he just shined that night," Hughes recalled. "It was like, 'Here I am and I'm not going to let cancer get the best of me.' And he's had that attitude from Day 1. "There have been many days when my faith is down and I’m scared and worried and he'll look at me and say, 'Mama, we're going to get through this.' So never once has his faith been in question. A few months ago he coined the phrase, 'Faith and believing are your cure.' And he really means it. "He is amazing and he gives me strength every day." He does the same for all of us.