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Press Pass: Justin Allgaier
Justin Allgaier talks about finishing third in the Dollar General 200 Fueled By AmeriGas and how this is his strongest start of any season.
Stewart embraced, supported by drivers in return
RELATED: Full Stewart coverage " Drivers react to Stewart's return RICHMOND, Va. -- The feeling around the NASCAR garage at Richmond International Raceway on Friday was both unanimous and magnanimous. Tony Stewart 's return to Sprint Cup Series competition this weekend was the big news of the week, possibly the year and he was greeted by welcome text messages, friendly pats on the back, and lots of smiles and goodwill. NASCAR legend Richard Petty, whose team's car was parked in the garage stall next to Stewart's, sought Stewart out and embraced him. By the time Stewart, 44, climbed into his No. 14 Mobil 1 Chevrolet for Friday morning's opening practice, many of his competitors had stopped by to shake the three-time champ's hand or wish him well in his first racing weekend since the 2015 season finale. Doctors cleared Stewart to compete this weekend after an eight-race absence while his body healed from a broken back -- an injury he suffered during an all-terrain vehicle (ATV) accident just before the season began. RELATED: Stewart's return is the talk of the garage Stewart broke the news of his return himself on Twitter Thursday saying, "Well the long wait is over. I'll be back in my @Mobil1 Chevy this weekend at Richmond. I can't wait to race again." Then he added, "The Dr's said my scans ‘looked much better than they thought they would after 3 months.' So they cleared me." He will start Sunday's Toyota Owners 400 from the 18th-place on the grid -- his position in the only practice on a day shortened because of rain. But the weather was the only downer on a day dominated by a warm and enthusiastic welcome back for Stewart. "I don't know about from the NASCAR standpoint, but from a competitor's standpoint Tony is one of the fiercest competitors in the sport so to have him there and have someone to battle against is fun," Carl Edwards said. Stewart's Stewart-Haas Racing teammate Kevin Harvick won the pole for Sunday's race thanks to a chart-topping run in Friday's only practice and it certainly sets the stage for a grand return of the team's namesake. Stewart's team confirmed their leader is re-energized and enjoying the positive reinforcement throughout the garage and in the grandstands. "It's been interesting just for the fact that I came to Stewart-Haas Racing to race with Tony, and obviously it's been an in-and-out of the car situation for the last two and a half years," Harvick said. "So, to see where he was from a personal standpoint over the time from when he got hurt and everything that happened, and see his interaction from the owner's standpoint over the last several weeks has been very interesting to me, just to see how engaged he was and how excited he was and how relaxed and into what was going on." And his fellow competitors want to see "Smoke" go out strong. "This is a retirement season for him and it was a little bit delayed, but he's now going to some of the these race tracks for the final time and I know just in general , Tony has been around and traveling each week to the race and tracks and been very hands on with his race team," Daytona 500 winner Denny Hamlin said Friday. "It's a great season and I would love to see him make a Chase push if he can and end on a good note."
Humpe back on track at Richmond
Defending NASCAR PEAK Antifreeze Series champion Kenny Humpe ( The TEAM ) found the winner's circle for the first time in 2016, taking the checkered flag at Richmond International Raceway after leading a race-high 88 of 200 laps. Humpe comfortably held-off Allen Boes ( Deadzone ) by 2.8 seconds, while Boes narrowly beat Ray Alfalla ( Slip Angle Motorsports ) for second. Corey Vincent followed the pair in fourth, 4.4 seconds behind the winner, with Matt Bussa rounding-out the top five. Humpe started from the outside of the front row and took the lead from pole sitter Nick Ottinger on Lap 26, shortly after the second caution flag of the race. He continued to lead until Lap 83 when the field headed to pit road for service under caution. Alfalla and Cody Byus had better pit stops than Humpe, relegating him to third on the restart. After the race went back to green Humpe struggled to close on Alfalla and Byus and, instead, settled into third spot. However, as the run wore on Humpe began gaining on Byus and finally passed him on Lap 138. Alfalla had begun to slow by this point and Humpe made his move for the lead on Lap 145 and nearly had a race-ending moment. As the two raced side- by -side through Turn Three, Humpe suddenly decided to pit for tires but overshot pit entry and narrowly avoided the safety barrels protecting the end of pit wall. Although the mistake cost him time, Humpe kept his car in one piece and safely made it to pit road next time around while Alfalla waited another lap before making his final stop. That extra lap proved costly to Alfalla, as he re-entered the track behind Humpe in spite of the defending champion's botched pit entry a couple laps prior. Although Bussa and Boes were ahead of Humpe and Alfalla, Humpe had no trouble dispatching them. The pass on Bussa only put Humpe in eighth, but the seven cars in front of him had yet to make their final stops and were no match for Humpe on fresh tires. He took the lead for the final time on Lap 168 and never looked back. Unsurprisingly, track position was of the highest importance at Richmond as none of the top five finishers started lower than twelfth and none of the top ten worse than fifteenth. Several sim racers in the running for the championship encountered trouble at Richmond, including both of the Stergios siblings. Jake Stergios ( ineX Racing ) was caught up in a crash and finished thirty-eighth while brother PJ sustained damage of his own but was able to continue and salvage a fourteenth place result. Chris Overland also went laps down early but took wave-arounds to get back into contention, finishing a respectable tenth. PJ Stergios' issues enabled Alfalla to leave Richmond with a nine-point cushion at the top of the standings with Boes an additional ten points back. Jake Stergios slipped to fourth, 54 points back after his troubles. Humpe's victory vaulted him to fifth in a dead heat with Overland but, trailing Alfalla by 62 points, he will need more runs like his Richmond win to get himself back into contention. Week Seven takes the NASCAR PEAK Antifreeze Series to Las Vegas Motor Speedway , the first of four consecutive 1.5 mile tracks on the sim racing schedule. Vegas should play-out similarly to the Week Five race at Texas, so look for the Stergios brothers and Alfalla to be at the front. Can Humpe go back-to-back or will Slip Angle and ineX continue their dominance at the downforce tracks? Find out in two weeks on iRacingLive .
Stergios outduels Alfalla in Texas
PJ Stergios (ineX Racing Team) became the first multiple-race winner in the 2016 NASCAR PEAK Antifreeze Series Powered by iRacing by passing Slip Angle Motorsports' Ray Alfalla for the lead with 15 laps to go at Texas Motor Speedway . The two were clearly the class of the field, leading a combined 148 of 167 laps, but Stergios got the best of Alfalla on the long run to the checkers. The battle for third came down to the wire with Nicholas Johnston (HPM) holding-off Jake Stergios by less than two-tenths of a second. Logan Clampitt, making his series debut, finished an impressive fifth. Stergios trailed Alfalla by around half a second after the two made their final pit stops under green but quickly closed to the leader's bumper in only a handful of laps. Stergios hounded the former series champion for nearly 20 laps, waiting for a rare mistake. His chance finally materialized when a lapped car on fresher tires passed Alfalla on the outside entering Turn Three. The pass forced Alfalla to compromise his entry, enabling Stergios to draw alongside down the front straightaway. The pair battled side- by -side for a couple of laps before Stergios cleared Alfalla and began pulling away. "The last stint was pretty crazy with guys on all sorts of different strategies, so well done by everyone for keeping it going for so long despite some very close moments," Stergios said. Alfalla took control of the race early on, needing just six laps to assume the lead from his outside pole grid position. However, the race was not without incident for Alfalla. On Lap 82 he brought his car to pit road for routine service and, since he pitted early in the window, found himself in heavy traffic after returning to the track. Not even a lap later, Dylan Duval got loose and slammed the wall off Turn 4, forcing Alfalla to dive to the grass in avoidance. Fortunately for Alfalla the off-road excursion did not damage his car, but a caution for another crash four laps later robbed him of valuable track position. While Alfalla had unlapped himself after his green-flag stop, having fresh tires was so critical he pitted again under the caution and restarted eleventh on Lap 92. Alfalla had little trouble with traffic and by Lap 126 he was already back in the runner-up spot behind Stergios. Knowing passing Stergios on track would prove difficult, Alfalla chose to pit a lap earlier than his rival. While that enabled Alfalla to take the lead, in the end he could not hold it. Stergios' win broke the tie with Alfalla atop the championship standings. Stergios now leads by three points over Alfalla as the two have begun distancing themselves from the rest of the field. Jake Stergios is third, 21 points back of his brother. He is followed closely by Allen Boes, who is only a single point back in fourth after an eighth place effort at Texas. Chris Overland still holds fifth despite finishing 37th in the Lone Star state, but he is now 58 points behind and just two in front of Andrew Fayash III, who is in the running for "biggest surprise" of the sim racing season thus far. Next up on the NASCAR PEAK Antifreeze Series schedule are the tight confines of Richmond International Raceway . The .75-mile short track is the only venue on the schedule less than a mile in length and will force teams to build a much different setup than the last two races. With the 2016 season quickly turning into the PJ Stergios vs. Alfalla show at the front, can any other sim racers challenge their dominance? The uniqueness of Richmond may play into the field's hands but Stergios and Alfalla will be bringing their A-games to the virtual Virginia track -- as usual. Who will find their way to Victory Lane? Find out in two weeks on iRacingLive!
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 400 coming to Chicagoland
RELATED: Buy tickets for Chicagoland Photo credit: Stewart-Haas Racing 's Twitter account, @StewartHaasRcng NEW YORK – April 26, 2016 – Nickelodeon today announced that it is the entitlement sponsor of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race on Sunday, Sept. 18, dubbed the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 400 at Chicagoland Speedway . Danica Patrick has signed on to drive a special car for the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 400, which will be broadcast on NBCSN at 2:30 p.m. ET, and will feature a weekend of action, activities and fun for the entire family with the iconic Heroes in a Half Shell. NASCAR star Danica Patrick , a Roscoe, Illinois native, helped kick off the partnership in true Turtles style. She unveiled her No. 10 April O’Neil/Nature's Bakery Chevrolet SS at an event at Wrigley Square in Millennium Park with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, then took her car for a spin down Michigan Ave. She will join a number of other drivers with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles paint schemes for the Sept. 18 race. Photo courtesy of Chicagoland Speedway 's Twitter account, @ChicagoIndSpdwy This Sept. 15-18 marks the sixth consecutive year that Chicagoland Speedway will kick off the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup . The Nickelodeon partnership will include sponsorship of the 2017 kickoff race, as well. "We are excited to partner with Chicagoland Speedway to continue sponsoring and participating in marquee racing events that resonate with motorsports fans across the country," said Anthony DiCosmo, Senior Vice President, Sports Marketing and Development, Nickelodeon. "Just as we did with last season's SpongeBob SquarePants 400 at Kansas Speedway , the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 400 will continue to expand our relationship with NASCAR, while working with another best-in-class ISC track to give fans a unique and engaging race experience that the whole family can enjoy." "We are thrilled to partner with a world class brand like Nickelodeon for the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 400 on Sept. 18," said Scott Paddock, Chicagoland Speedway President. "This is an exciting opportunity for us to partner with one of the preeminent youth focused brands on the planet to deliver an unprecedented level of family entertainment while engaging Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles fans of all ages." "It's great to be back in my home state of Illinois to be a part of this exciting announcement for the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 400," said Patrick. "The Nickelodeon-sponsored races are really cool because they truly are fun for the entire family. Nature's Bakery and Nickelodeon have put together an awesome paint scheme and I can't wait to have the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and April O'Neil riding along with me in September." Patrick's unique car was designed by Chicago artist Hebru Brantley, who will also design the race trophy, additional Turtles-branded paint schemes and other visual elements. Brantley breaks down the walls of cultural boundaries through his art and inspired by his 1980s Chicago upbringing, Brantley's work touches on tough subjects in a way that may be easily digestible to the viewer, by telling his stories through youthful characters and their adventures. Brantley’s work can be described as pop infused contemporary art inspired by Japanese anime and the bold aesthetics of street art pioneers Jean Michel Basquiat, KAWS and Keith Haring. During the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 400 race weekend, attendees will be able to enjoy fun family activities in the Nickelodeon Kids Zone, located in Champion’s Park. The area will feature appearances from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles costumed characters, a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles photo station and more. Nickelodeon has a long-standing relationship with NASCAR, teaming up with the motorsports giant on several programming and racing events. On the track, the network has sponsored the SpongeBob SquarePants 400 at Kansas Speedway in 2015; brought the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles to the Atlanta Motor Speedway for the NASCAR XFINITY Series and NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races in 2014; participated in the Bank of America 500 week in 2012; and the SpongeBob SquarePants Movie 300 at Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord, NC in 2004. NASCAR has also contributed talent and content to Nickelodeon programming such as the Kids’ Choice Awards ( Danica Patrick , 2012 and 2013), Kids' Choice Sports Awards ( Danica Patrick , 2014, Ben Kennedy , 2015), Team Umizoomi ( Jeff Gordon , 2012), Hammer Down (2014), which aired on Nicktoon’s NickSports block, and an upcoming Bubble Guppies episode ( Jimmie Johnson , 2015). Currently in its fourth season, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is seen in over 170 countries and territories and translated in 50+ languages. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles follows four mutant turtles—Leonardo, Raphael, Donatello and Michelangelo—trained in the art of ninjutsu by their mutant rat sensei, Master Splinter, who teaches the turtles to battle evil from the New York City sewers. Executive produced by Ciro Nieli and Brandon Auman, the series is created at Nickelodeon Animation Studios in Burbank, Calif. Additionally, this summer the Turtles will once again defend the streets of New York City in Paramount Pictures' highly anticipated theatrical movie, "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows, which arrives in theaters June 3."
Cain: Edwards' move is what racing's all about
RELATED: Re-watch Edwards' bump-and-run from Richmond Carl Edwards was still smiling when he walked into the Richmond International Raceway media center to talk about his thrilling Sprint Cup Series win an hour earlier Sunday afternoon. He surveyed the room of reporters and had a little small talk with his crew chief Dave Rogers and team owner Joe Gibbs. Then, to his credit, he got right to it. "First off, if my cat ever gets sick, I don't care how much it costs, I will take it to the Banfield Pet Hospital if that helps," Edwards said allowing a wide smile after immediately plugging his teammate Kyle Busch 's race sponsor even before his own, XFINITY . Earlier, Edwards landed his trademark victory back flip after the checkered flag. But what happened on the white flag lap with Busch may require some additional cordial contortions as well. And that's OK. That's racing. The kind that pumps hearts and generates excitement. Edwards' bump-and-run pass -- importantly not bump-and-wreck -- of his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Busch on the last lap of Sunday's race capped off an intriguing day of competition and amazingly marked the first time in the Richmond track's long and storied history that a race was won with a final-lap pass. The crowd was thrilled with the finish. The media was abuzz with the drama. And somewhere in heaven, Dale Earnhardt was having a good "attaboy" moment too. Lug nuts, schmug nuts. There was no talk of that Sunday afternoon. The week's earlier dramatic obsession with pit stops was completely overshadowed by what makes this sport so good: actual close and dramatic racing on track. And daring last lap passes as Edwards had just executed. It probably wouldn't have mattered if it were Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski , Greg Biffle versus Ricky Stenhouse Jr . or Jimmie Johnson blowing by Dale Earnhardt Jr . -- well, OK maybe on that one. It was good stuff. The reason people like this sport. So, while Edwards was grinning after the race, his JGR teammate Busch was understandably not, his Toyota having been carefully rearranged by Edwards last charge for a victory. Busch, clearly and understandably unhappy with his "adjusted" finish went into a bit of the NFL' s Marshawn Lynch mode in the media center afterward – repeating the same answer to all the questions about the last lap contact with Edwards. It was the second time in the season's nine races that team owner, Joe Gibbs has had to address this kind of situation -- which, if you think about it, isn't a super bad thing. Denny Hamlin 's win in the season-opening Daytona 500 came on a last lap blow by of JGR teammate Matt Kenseth . Gibbs was honest when asked about the team dynamics after such dramatic finishes between teammates. "It's a tough thing because it's certainly painful for one side," Gibbs said. "You're on such a high with the other side. It's tough. You kind of know what we'll do is kind of go to work and work our way through it." Edwards said he and Busch did not speak after the race, but also anticipated some discussion before this week's stop at Talladega Superspeedway , which interestingly enough so often relies on drafting "partners." "I wish it was anybody but my teammate that we had to race like that with,'" Edwards said. "Big picture to me, we both got wins (already) and we're both in the Chase and it’s fun to race your teammate for the win.'" Edwards' crew chief Dave Rogers -- who is also Busch's former crew chief -- was direct with his assessment. And he said what most race fans feel. "If we look at the big picture, today was a great day for NASCAR," Rogers said, reiterating that he and Busch are still close friends. "Our fans don't want to see teammate orders. They don't deserve teammates to fall in line. They deserve good, hard racing. "So, I think today was a great day for the sport. It stinks that we had to move a teammate. I'm sure (Busch's crew chief) Adam (Stevens) and I will talk about it and Carl and Kyle will talk about it. "But I think it would be very disappointing to our fans if Joe imposed a team order and told us, 'Hey, have a parade instead of a race.'" If Edwards hadn't have made the move, we'd be having a whole different, much more difficult conversation. Instead, NASCAR has another shining example of what draws people to this sport: close racing, dramatic finishes and lots of "can-you-believe-that?" instances. Truly last lap passes are what people want to talk about. Not lug nuts, driver councils or pit road penalties. That's not where the authentic action is. Busch will have a chance to "equal the score." It's called intense competition. Would Busch have done the same thing on Sunday? Of course he would. Will he if some opportunity presents itself in the future? You bet. And Edwards knows its coming. And so do we. That's why people love this sport.
Being a crew chief 'the next best thing' for Kendrick
RELATED: Complete schedule " See the series standings STATESVILLE, N.C. – There's a huge difference between going fast and racing. Chad Kendrick says he was very good at the former, but the latter took some time to figure out. Today, the split-second decisions he makes come from atop the pit box, where Kendrick is crew chief for driver Daniel Hemric and the No. 19 Ford of Brad Keselowski Racing in NASCAR's Camping World Truck Series. But there was a time at South Boston Speedway when the Late Models were hauling the mail around the 4/10th-mile oval … "It was the best race I was ever having," Kendrick, a native of Durham, North Carolina, said recently. "I was running fifth and Denny was leading. He spun or did something and had to go to the back." "Denny," of course, was Denny Hamlin , this year's Daytona 500 champion and winner of 27 NASCAR premier series races for Joe Gibbs Racing . "He drove right back through the field," Kendrick said. "I'm fourth now (after Hamlin went to the rear); he catches me and he's not wasting time; he just knocks me out of the way. I was so mad … my tongue's hanging out and I'm giving it everything I've got and this kid is just gone. And I can't catch him." Hamlin, Kendrick and a host of others cut their racing teeth on tracks such as South Boston, trying to race their way out of anonymity. South Boston and Langley and Orange County and Southern National have helped make stars and have just as likely crushed dreams. Hamlin might have had a better car on this particular day. But he might have had something else as well. "It kind of hit me then – 'Alright, I don’t have what they have,'" Kendrick said. "I can go run a good lap. But I can't run that lap 150 (times) in a row. I can't do some of the things they can do. "I would love to tell you if I'd had the money … but I don't think so. I maybe could have won a race here or there. But I don't have what Brad (Keselowski) has or Ryan (Blaney) or even Daniel -- I don't have what those guys have. I don't know what it is and I don't know where they get it from, but something's there that just clicks. They have it. This was the next best thing." RELATED: Sustainability goes from top to bottom with Penske, Keselowski Hamlin succeeded, eventually moving on from the small local venues to become a bona fide NASCAR star. Kendrick made his way out, too, but in a slightly different fashion. Kendrick is no anomaly. The NASCAR garage has its share of crew chiefs who raced and then, for one reason or another, eventually hung up their helmets. Crew chiefs Paul Wolfe (Keselowski) and Rodney Childers ( Kevin Harvick ) raced, as did Matt McCall ( Jamie McMurray ) and Greg Ives ( Dale Earnhardt Jr .) There were other stops along the way for most, other tasks to complete and other lessons to be learned. Kendrick's move to the pit box began innocently enough –- Timothy Peters , one of his former rivals from back in the Late Model days – offered him his first crew chief position prior to 2008. The two had worked together previously at Bobby Hamilton Racing (BHR). "I probably learned 75 percent of everything I know about racing from Bobby," Kendrick said of the 2004 Truck Series champion. "He was really good … if you wanted to know, wanted to learn and grow, he was there for you. Very open and just an awesome guy. … "I loved working for him. I actually compare working here to working for Bobby." Other stops followed and their paths wouldn't cross again until Peters called one day with an offer. A partial deal would put Peters on the track and Kendrick on the pit box. "He said, 'By the way, you're going to be the crew chief, the only mechanic, the only guy …" Kendrick said of Peters' proposition. How difficult could that be? Kendrick was about to find out. The two made only a handful of starts in '08 and by the next season, the team added a second truck for a few races just to start and park and stay afloat financially. When NASCAR instituted a new pit procedure rule for the Truck Series in '09, things didn't get any easier. "That was the year that you did pit stops where you couldn't do fuel and tires at the same time," he said. "We never had enough people. I was the crew chief, I would jack on the tire stop, come back, throw the helmet and apron on, and fuel (the truck) during the fuel stop." The saving grace was a midseason call from Red Horse Racing owner Tom DeLoach, who wanted both Peters and Kendrick for his organization. The payoff came a few months later, in late October at Martinsville. Peters led 84 laps en route to his first series victory. It was Kendrick's first win as a crew chief, and remains his most memorable. "One, it was at Martinsville with Timothy," he said. "He and I had been through so much. … Going through all that and to get him his first win just meant a lot. "The win last year (at Bristol Motor Speedway ) with Blaney was the most exciting. It was the most dominant truck I've ever had and special in that as soon as we unloaded for practice, it was 'OK, we’re the truck to beat.' Blaney qualified on the outside of the front row and led the first 37 circuits at Bristol before a penalty for jumping the restart send him to the rear of the field. "Then he drives all the way back through the field and wins the race," Kendrick said. "That one was just really cool. You can be the best truck and you don't win because your crew had a bad stop or something breaks or somebody gets into you … anything. The smallest things can happen. … But Ryan got determined. So that one is up there." Kendrick's six wins have come with five different drivers – Peters, Blaney (2), John King , Parker Kligerman and Joey Logano . "I wanted to give Brad his first (Truck) win," Kendrick said, adding it was a "big battle" between he and fellow Brad Keselowski Racing crew chief Doug Randolph. But it was Randolph calling the shots when the team owner/driver made it to the winner’s circle, also at Bristol in 2014 "Just a couple of weeks ago, Brad gave Joey the truck we won with last year at Martinsville. I told Joey 'Don’t ever run another truck race,'" Kendrick said. "Because I'm probably not going to be known for much of anything, but at least I can tell my grandkids I gave Joey Logano his only truck win.' Doesn’t mean a lot, but …" RELATED: Inside the new Chase format for the series Now, he'll try to add Hemric to his list of winning drivers. Hemric, 25, is in his first season with the organization and sits seventh in points after three races. Teammate Tyler Reddick , 20, is a two-time race winner and driver of the team’s No. 29 with the veteran Randolph calling the shots. He's 16th in points. Next up for the series is the Toyota Tundra 250 at Kansas Speedway (Friday, May 6, 8:30 p.m. ET, FS1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio), the first of a three-week swing that includes stops at Dover International Speedway and Charlotte Motor Speedway . Kendrick said both drivers are ready to get back on the track. Expectations remain high. "At the front end of the year I would have told you we’d have a win by now," he said. "I really thought we would. We've had brand new trucks all three races. "I know we’ll win a race, both of our guys. I don't think stretch to say we'll win 2-3 in a row, between our teams."
Carolina Panthers' Greg Olsen to drive All-Star Race pace car
CONCORD, N.C. (April 26, 2016) -- While many in the professional football world are focused on the NFL Draft, Carolina Panthers Pro Bowl tight end Greg Olsen will lead a different kind of draft when he drives the Toyota Camry pace car prior to the unforgettable, action-packed May 21 NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race during the 10 Days of NASCAR Thunder at Charlotte Motor Speedway . "Since arriving in Charlotte I have developed a great admiration for NASCAR and their athletes," Olsen said. "Their concept of teamwork and commitment to excellence is second to none and I have a great deal of respect for the drivers and their teams. I am honored to be included in such an event and I am looking forward to driving the pace car to kick off the 2016 NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race." Olsen, one of the NFL's premier pass catchers, is no stranger to NASCAR. For the past two years, the Charlotte, North Carolina, resident has participated in fundraising efforts with NASCAR Sprint Cup Series superstar Dale Earnhardt Jr . to support The Dale Jr. Foundation and The Greg Olsen Foundation's HEARTest Yard campaign. Olsen has also attended race events at Charlotte Motor Speedway in the past, but never in a dignitary role. Last season, the veteran tight end earned his second Pro Bowl nod after recording a career-high 1,104 receiving yards and seven touchdowns. Olsen's efforts helped the Panthers finish with a franchise-best 15-1 record in a season that also saw Carolina advance to Super Bowl 50. Olsen joins linebacker Luke Kuechly as the second Panthers player in the last three years to pace the field prior to the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race, a battle among NASCAR's biggest stars for a $1 million prize and the sport's ultimate bragging rights. Frontstretch tickets to the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race start at just two for $99 and include a pre-race concert by triple-platinum recording artist Andy Grammer. Fans can purchase tickets, camping and race-day upgrades to the entire 10 Days of NASCAR Thunder at Charlotte Motor Speedway by calling 1-800-455-FANS (3267) or shopping online at www.charlottemotorspeedway.com .
SHR tweaks pit crews of No. 10, No. 14 teams
In an effort to improve pit stops, Stewart-Haas Racing has moved around several crew members between its teams. This past weekend's Sprint Cup Series race at Richmond International Raceway saw different faces on different teams. So let's start with the easy stuff: The No. 4 ( Kevin Harvick ) and No. 41 ( Kurt Busch ) looked to be the same as at Daytona. Both teams have been performing at a top level for years, and we didn't see any changes as of Richmond. Now the fun stuff. The No. 10 car of Danica Patrick had a different front carrier, rear changer, and rear carrier. The team moved rear carrier Matt Holzbaur to the front and added rear changer Jonathan Sherman and rear carrier Jeremy Howard. Both Sherman and Howard came from the No. 38 team ( Landon Cassill ), which is pit supported by SHR. The No. 14 of Tony Stewart got a new front changer in Ryan Mulder. Mulder was moved from the rear of the No. 10 to the front of the No. 14. The No. 38 team got a new front changer, front carrier, rear changer and rear carrier. Bryan Jacobsen moved from the No. 14 is now on the front with Jeff Shoaf, who moved from the No. 10 team. Anchoring the rear are now Chris Jackson and Tyler Bullard, who previously had worked up front on the 38. From what we can tell, no new pit crew members were hired or fired, just a restructuring of crewmen. Sometimes it takes a shake up to get the best crews together and it looks like SHR is trying to find the best combinations for its teams. For more pit crew news, visit PitTalks.com .
How qualifying works at Talladega
Qualifying at Talladega Superspeedway has undergone a few different formats over the past five years. The rules for this weekend's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and NASCAR XFINITY Series races are the same as last year, but different from the procedures at intermediate and short tracks or road courses. There will be two rounds of qualifying with drivers turning one timed lap. The top 12 will advance to the final round. Each driver will take a warm-up lap, the timed lap and a cool-down lap before returning to pit road. Based on a random draw, vehicles will line up on pit road for the first round -- rather than nose in or nose out in a pit stall -- and NASCAR will release drivers at a predetermined interval. The sanctioning body reserves the right to have more than one vehicle on track at a time. It's likely that two vehicles will be on track at the same time, but the second vehicle won't impede or help the one it follows on track. Following each lap, NASCAR will impound vehicles, and there will be a 10-minute break between rounds. Only during that break may teams make adjustments, and they will only be allowed to adjust tape and use a cool-down unit at that time. The final round qualifying order will be set from slowest to fastest speeds in the first round with starting positions 1-12 determined by the fastest laps in that second session.