Kenseth: If Tom Brady can win Super Bowls at 40, I can drive fulltime at 45
BUY TICKETS: See the races at Bristol RELATED: Kenseth, JGR nab new sponsor in Circle K CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The Matt Kenseth Retirement Tour hit a major snag Wednesday when the 2003 NASCAR champion showed up to help announce a new primary sponsor for his No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota. Kenseth, the 2003 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion, will be supported in a primary role by the convenience store chain Circle K for six races this season, part of a multi-year sponsorship agreement unveiled by JGR and Circle K officials at the NASCAR Hall of Fame. When JGR officials announced a week ago that the organization was holding a press conference with Kenseth and team owner Joe Gibbs, there was speculation that it was to announce Kenseth's retirement. "I'm just glad I'm still driving tomorrow," Kenseth cracked when Circle K sponsorship was unveiled. At 45, Kenseth is the oldest active full-time competitor in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. His 38 career victories include two Daytona 500 titles and he's won at all but five of the current tracks on the series schedule (Sonoma, Watkins Glen, Martinsville, Indianapolis and Atlanta). "I didn't realize they put out a release that we were having this press conference today," he said, adding that he began getting texts from folks wanting to know if rumors of his retirement were accurate. "I had no idea what they were talking about," he said. "As long as you guys have known me, if I was going to do something like that I wouldn't call a press conference. I probably just wouldn't show up at Daytona and everybody would say, 'Is Matt racing this year?' Or (I would) send out like a four-word tweet." Retirement's not something he's put much thought into lately, he said, joking that he plans to drive for "15 or 20 (more years). "If (New England Patriots quarterback) Tom Brady can play football at 40 and still win Super Bowls, I think 45 is pretty young to try and win races." Through the season's first seven races, Kenseth has three top 10s as well as three finishes of 36th or worse. He's 22nd in points heading into Sunday's Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway (2 p.m. ET, FOX, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). Gibbs, whose organization also fields entries for Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin and Daniel Suarez, said he hopes Kenseth remains at JGR "into the future." "That's kind of our game plan," Gibbs said. "I've got to tell you, right now I look at him and he's on that bike all the time now, he's in probably as good of shape as he's ever been in his life and I know he has a burning desire to keep driving." &amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;gt;
Larson, McMurray surge as CGR work bears fruit
BUY TICKETS: See the races at Bristol A strong finish to the 2016 season and an equally impressive start to 2017 has placed the two-team effort of Chip Ganassi Racing squarely in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series spotlight. These are heady days for drivers Jamie McMurray and Kyle Larson, crew chiefs Matt McCall and Chad Johnston, and the dozens upon dozens of support personnel surrounding the No. 1 and No. 42 teams. Not that you would know it from speaking with the principals. "No, I think that's what we expected," Johnston said of the organization's rise up the competitive ladder. Johnston's driver, Larson, is the series' points leader heading into Monday's Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway (1 p.m. ET, FOX, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR). "I think it catches some people off guard and I think it's gotten a lot of hype, but we felt like we were pretty good last year toward the end of the year; we weren't as consistent as we wanted to be. "But performance-wise we felt like we were pretty good. We also knew we needed to continue to work hard to keep gaining on it through the offseason. I think anything less than what we started off would have been a disappointment for all of us." McCall said the resurgence is more than lip service. The results back up the attention being paid to the Ganassi organization this year. "Because you know how it is, everyone always claims they're working hard, working hard and that's the case," he said. "But until you actually have something to show for it, you really don't get to show the world that. "It's good for everyone that works here, a lot of long hours, to get a little recognition for all the work that's been put in." RELATED: Penske, Ganassi battle for early season supremacy The explanations run the gamut, from the obvious to the intricate. "I don't know what the difference ... is, but our race cars are just way faster," said Larson, who has banked one win and four runner-up finishes after seven races. "I think after we struggled so bad through this point of the season last year, (Chad) got really aggressive on what changes he wanted done in the race shop and with the race cars, with the bodies. As soon as he got his bodies and chassis built, we had a great test at Pocono (in April 2016), then we went to Dover, almost won that race; came to Charlotte, won the Showdown, almost won the All-Star Race. "Really since that point, we've had a lot of speed in our cars and we've just built on that and made them better and better." There's been no magic bullet, according to McMurray, who sits eighth in points and has four top-10 results this season. Instead, he said, it's a combination of things that have, in some cases, taken years to develop and implement. Better cars, better personnel, better decisions. The organization has been a contender before, but it's also had its share of expectations that failed to pan out. "It's been kind of years in the process of getting every department just a little bit better," McMurray, 40, said. "I think taking everybody's ideas from engineering, from the guys on the shop floor that have grown up racing, taking all that and combining it and it's all added up to a really good performance." McMurray has been "on both sides" of the situation -- those times when you show up at the track confident that you will contend and those times when you know there's still plenty of work to be done just to survive. "The frustrating part is that you know it's not one little piece," he said. "It's a lot of little, small things that are going to add up to getting you there. "(From) 2010 being as high as you can get to, by 2012 it was horrible. It was super frustrating to go every week and know that if you did everything right you were maybe going to run 20th. Super frustrating weekends." McMurray won the Daytona 500, the Brickyard 400 and the Charlotte fall race in '10. He also won four poles. Two years later, he had only three top 10s and finished outside the top 20 in points. "But right now we are back on top and it's so much fun to show up every weekend and know that even if your car doesn't drive great that you're going to run really well and hopefully have a shot to win," he said. Two Teams, Two Styles, One Goal There's a 16-year difference in ages between McMurray and Larson, and nearly as large of a gap in their approach to racing. Now in his fourth full season in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, Larson's approach is simple: "I show up and drive ," he said. McMurray, however, is a product of his past, having arrived on the scene at a time when "guys that were big into setups and how do you make your car drive better," he said. "I was raised with that mentality of kind of understanding the car and trying to make the right adjustments to it to make the car faster. Where Kyle really doesn't know anything about cars. He doesn't really give suggestions of what he thinks you need on the car to make it faster. He just searches around. A lot of times that works out well for him, so that's opened my eyes up to maybe not trying to make the car perfect but maybe just search around and try to find something on the track." Larson calls his teammate "a very underrated driver" with a ton of experience. "He's won every big race on our circuit," Larson said of McMurray. "I can go to him ... and just pick his brain and get any bits of advice I could, look at his data and compare it to mine. "I feel like we are very similar drivers and the way we use our hands and feet and how aggressive we are, so we mesh well together. I love working with Jamie; I hope he stays around for a long time and we can work together for a long time, as well, and have a lot of success together." While the drivers come from different backgrounds and developed different approaches, the crew chiefs come from similar backgrounds. Both McCall and Johnston had driving careers and served at one point as engineers for other teams. While experience behind the wheel has been helpful, understanding the methodology behind making a car go fast has been more crucial as the two made the move atop the pit box. "I think the driving part, that sort of changes week to week," McCall said. "Especially every time you change a package and the tires change. ... "The other side (of that) is the managing skills, the people skills -- there's no experience for that so that's definitely different on the crew chief side." Johnston said the "other side of the steering wheel pays a lot better but it comes with a lot more hassles, too." "The engineering side and just knowing all the nuances, the aerodynamics ... things like that probably helped me more than anything," he said. The two teams work as one, with key personnel working out of one trailer every week at the track. That promotes open dialogue, with both teams knowing what each is doing at any given time. The differences in the cars and their setups are minor, tweaked to suit each driver's individual needs. And their driving styles really aren't that different. While some folks make much over Larson's high-groove, sideways-here-I-come approach, Larson said it's certainly not by design. Changes in the aero package and the loss of downforce, he said, have actually hurt him as much as anyone. RELATED: Larson fast, atop the standings and having fun "Everybody thinks that because I grew up dirt racing that I like the car sideways and all this and that," he said. "But I don't. Stock car sideways is a way different feeling, a bad feeling, compared to Sprint cars. When you're sideways in a Sprint car, you still have grip; you're making more grip, to a certain point. Where with stock cars, you've got to worry about tire management so much and all that. "If anything, I would honestly say less downforce is bad for me. In 2014, my first year in Cup, we had the most downforce we've had since I've been in NASCAR and I ran really well that year. That's been my best season up until this year. I know last year we won a race and made the (playoffs) and all that, but consistently (2014) was our best up until this season. "Lower downforce, the racing is better but I wouldn't say it suits my driving style any better than it suits anybody else." Having been in the spotlight before, McMurray isn't fazed by the recent surge in attention paid to the Ganassi operation. He's just happy to be a part of the process. "I don't know that when you're on the inside that you view it that differently," he said. "When I think about our shop I know all the sacrifice and the work that's gone into this and sometimes you don't get rewarded for that. Sometimes you put all that time and effort in and it doesn't translate to speed. "But when you're on the inside, you know everything that's happened and why it is. I'm just thankful for it."
Bank of America 500 moving to Sunday afternoon
BUY TICKETS: See the races at Charlotte "Daylight Racing Time" is back for the Bank of America 500 as the race returns to a Sunday afternoon start time in 2017, Charlotte Motor Speedway announced on Thursday. The fourth race of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series playoffs and first race in the Round of 12 will now be held on Sunday, Oct. 8 at 2 p.m. ET with TV coverage on NBC -- instead of the initial announced date of Saturday, Oct. 7 -- in a move geared for on-track competition and a more family-friendly schedule over a three-day weekend. "Charlotte's so tricky, especially when the sun's out," seven-time Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion and defending Bank of America 500 winner Jimmie Johnson said in a track release. "And, the track's finally aging and getting to a place with a lot of character (so) that a day race will allow us to run so many more lanes and, I think, create such an entertaining and compelling race ... I'm really excited for a hot, slick, day race." The past two years have seen the race moved from Saturday to Sunday due to inclement weather. The race has not been scheduled for the daytime since 2002. The fall race weekend schedule at Charlotte had been set up to be a Thursday-Friday-Saturday affair in recent years. This year's schedule will also include: Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series qualifying held on Friday, Oct. 6 at 7 p.m. ET, and the XFINITY Series Drive for the Cure 300 presented by Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina at 3 p.m. ET on Saturday, Oct. 7, televised on NBCSN. That race is an elimination race in the XFINITY Series playoffs as the postseason field will shrink from 12 drivers to eight following the event. "We've heard from fans and from several drivers about how much fun it is to race during the daytime at Charlotte Motor Speedway," Marcus Smith, speedway president and general manager, said in the release. "A return to 'Daylight Racing Time' also builds on our commitment to being 'FANS FIRST' by providing families with affordable, world-class entertainment on a Sunday afternoon. Everyone should set their clocks for 'Daylight Racing Time,' because it's going to be an unforgettable weekend of racing." In other programming news: the fall race at Martinsville is now scheduled for a 3 p.m. ET start; and the fall Texas race will be broadcast on NBCSN.
NASCAR Drive for Diversity Class of 2017 drivers announced
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Jan. 25, 2017) – After a season of milestones for NASCAR Drive for Diversity graduates competing across NASCAR national series, the industry's flagship development program for multicultural and female drivers has announced that six drivers will join its 2017 class. The drivers were selected after a competitive combine held last October at New Smyrna Speedway and will compete for Rev Racing in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East and NASCAR Whelen All-American Series. The 2017 class features a former NASCAR PEAK Mexico Series champion, the granddaughter of one of the sport's female pioneers, and NASCAR Drive for Diversity's first sibling teammates. The drivers will attempt to follow in the footsteps of program graduates and current national series drivers Kyle Larson , Darrell Wallace Jr ., and 2016 NASCAR XFINITY Series champion Daniel Suárez. "Now more than ever, we're seeing the impact of NASCAR's development program in producing drivers who excel at the highest echelons of our sport," said Jim Cassidy, NASCAR senior vice president of racing operations. "There's a great deal of talent and potential in this year's class. With the strong foundation that NASCAR Drive for Diversity provides, these drivers will have the opportunity to develop the skills needed to elevate their racing careers." The 2017 class is led by four returning drivers, Collin Cabre, Jay Beasley, Madeline Crane and Rubén García Jr., who first competed in stock car racing in his native Mexico. Collin's younger brother, Chase Cabre, joins 16-year-old Macy Causey as this year's NASCAR Drive for Diversity newcomers. Causey's grandmother, Diane Teel, was the first woman to compete in a NASCAR XFINITY Series race in 1982. Rev Racing, the operational arm of NASCAR Drive for Diversity, will field four teams in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East and two in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series. The 2017 NASCAR Drive for Diversity roster features: Collin Cabre: An impressive second year in the NASCAR Drive for Diversity program was highlighted by four top-five and six top-10 finishes and a sixth-place finish in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East championship standings. After winning the 2015 season finale at Dover International Speedway , Cabre was named to the 2016-2017 NASCAR Next class. The 23-year-old from Tampa, Florida, will compete in his third season in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East with Rev Racing. Chase Cabre: Cabre, 20, registered 12 race wins in 21 starts in a 600 Mini Sprint Car and is a two-time Fall Brawl Champion at Florida's Ocala Bullring. In 2016, he averaged a fourth-place finish in races at Hickory Motor Speedway and set two poles during the season. Chase will compete in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East in his rookie season with Rev Racing. Rubén García Jr.: At age 20, the Mexico City native became the youngest NASCAR PEAK Mexico driver to win the series championship in 2015. García was also part of the NASCAR Next program in both 2015 and 2016. He returns to the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East after finishing 10th in the series last season. Jay Beasley: Beasley, 24, made history in 2013 by becoming the first African-American driver to win a Super Late Model race at the Bullring at Las Vegas Motor Speedway . In his first season with the NASCAR Drive for Diversity program in 2014, he earned two top-five and five top-10 finishes in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East. He returns to the series for his third season with Rev Racing. Macy Causey: Causey was honored with the NASCAR Young Racer Award in 2016. The year prior, she won the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Virginia Rookie of the Year Award and earned top rookie honors at Langley Speedway in Hampton, Virginia, where in 1978 her grandmother became the first woman to win a NASCAR-sanctioned race at the track. Causey will compete for Rev Racing in the NASCAR Whelen All American Series. Madeline Crane: The Georgia native began her career racing Bandoleros at Atlanta Motor Speedway at age 10. Crane, 19, moved into Legend cars, and by the time she was 14 had garnered 59 top-five finishes in 82 starts. Returning for a second season with NASCAR Drive for Diversity, she will compete in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series following two top-five and 12 top-10 finishes in 2016. NASCAR Drive for Diversity aligns drivers with a team of executives, athletic directors, crew chiefs and mentors tasked with helping them achieve career successes, and thus improving their goal of reaching one of the three NASCAR national series. Since it began fielding NASCAR Drive for Diversity cars in 2010, Rev Racing has been one of the most consistent teams in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East, registering 17 wins, 65 top-five and 124 top-10 finishes with drivers finishing in the top-10 in points each season. "Each year the applicant pool and talent level rises and our program continues to evolve and create more opportunities for advancement," said Max Siegel, CEO and owner of Rev Racing. "NASCAR Drive for Diversity and Rev Racing are proud of the impact that we have had in the sport and we look forward to graduating the next generation of athletes to the national series." The 2016 NASCAR season was a historic year for NASCAR Drive for Diversity alumni. Larson, who is Asian-American, became the first program graduate to win a race and reach the playoffs in the sport’s premier series, the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series . With his NASCAR XFINITY Series victory at Michigan International Speedway , Suárez was the first Mexican-born driver to win a national series race, and last November he became the first foreign-born driver to win a national series championship. Suárez will make his debut in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series racing for Joe Gibbs Racing in 2017. The 2017 NASCAR K&N Pro Series East season opener will take place on Feb. 19 at New Smyrna Speedway, where Rev Racing scored a win with Suárez in 2014. For more information on NASCAR Drive for Diversity, visit NASCARDiversity.com . &amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;
NASCAR Drive for 2017 racing season
RELATED: NASCAR Drive NASCAR Drive is back for 2017 NASCAR Drive is the ultimate, live, race-day experience. With in-car video and lap-by-lap commentary, you can follow along with the 40-car field in one place all for FREE. Access driver stats, follow the social conversation and never miss a minute of race day. NASCAR Drive is available in 2017 on your desktop and mobile device during each Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race and select XFINITY Series races. It’s also available inside NASCAR Mobile, the official app of NASCAR.
Suarez reflects on impact of Drive for Diversity
NASCAR.com's Kim Coon discusses the impact of the Drive for Diversity program with alumnus Daniel Suarez on the heels of the Class of 2017 announcement.
Jeff Gordon to drive Camaro pace car at Daytona 500
BUY TICKETS: See the Daytona 500 live! DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Three-time Daytona 500 winner and four-time Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion Jeff Gordon will lead the field to the start of Sunday's Daytona 500 (2 p.m. ET, FOX, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) behind the wheel of the new 2017 Camaro ZL1 pace car. "Chevrolet and I have a great history at the Daytona 500 and it's an honor to drive the 650-horsepower Camaro ZL1 pace car for the largest, most historic race of the season," Gordon said. Chevrolet will also pace the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Nextera Energy Resources 250 with a 2017 Silverado on Friday evening. A 2017 Camaro SS -- featuring a new Krypton Green exterior color -- will pace the NASCAR XFINITY Series Powershares QQQ 300 on Saturday. "Chevrolet is proud to pace the 'Great American Race' on the high banks of the iconic Daytona International Speedway ," said Steve Majoros, director of marketing, Chevrolet Cars and Crossovers. "The Camaro ZL1 delivers unprecedented levels of technology, refinement and track capability." Gordon has plenty of experience leading the field at Daytona. In addition to winning the Daytona 500 in 1997, 1999 and 2005, he shared the overall win last month at the Rolex 24 at Daytona. All three Chevrolet pace vehicles share graphic theme highlights in silver and black, along with selected accessories and personalization features. &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;
Suarez emphasizes importance of Drive for Diversity
Daniel Suarez discusses the importance of NASCAR Drive for Diversity and how the program influenced his successful NASCAR career.
Ty Dillon to drive No. 13 Germain Racing Chevy in 2017
Germain Racing announced Monday that Ty Dillon will jump full-time into NASCAR's premier series next season, taking the reins of its No. 13 Chevrolet. Dillon replaces Casey Mears , who had driven the No. 13 GEICO-sponsored entry since the second half of the 2010 season. The 24-year-old Dillon has made 18 Sprint Cup starts over the last three years, including a relief stint for the injured Tony Stewart during the early stages of last season. In a Monday morning appearance on SiriusXM NASCAR's Radio's "The Morning Drive " program, Dillon indicated that an agreement with Germain Racing came together earlier in the year. The challenge, he said, was staying mum until this week. "The questions kept coming and coming," Dillon told SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. "The cool thing is that I knew what I was doing; I just didn't say anything. It's kind of like having an awesome secret that you want everyone to know, but you kind of had to hold it back. I guess all good things are worth waiting for. I'm just excited for what's to come."
Alex Bowman to drive No. 88 in The Clash
Hendrick Motorsports announced that Alex Bowman, Phoenix pole award winner in November, will drive the No. 88 at Daytona International Speedway in The Clash on February 18, 2017.
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