MORE: Burton discusses throwback scheme and more on "Dirty Air Podcast" When Jeb Burton decided to join the wave of throwback paint schemes for Labor Day weekend at Darlington Raceway , he didn't have far to look for inspiration. BK Racing announced Tuesday that Burton's BK Racing entry for the 66th running of the Bojangles' Southern 500 will pay tribute to the career of his father, Ward Burton, a two-time winner at NASCAR's oldest superspeedway. But the tradition-rich race will also feature another notable switch: The Ron Devine-owned team also announced Tuesday that it will make an intrateam driver swap starting at Darlington, with Burton taking over the No. 23 Toyota from J.J. Yeley, who will drive the No. 26 Toyota. RELATED: See all the throwback looks for Darlington The change in driving duties puts the younger Burton that much closer numbers-wise to the Bill Davis Racing No. 22 that his father campaigned during his heyday from 1999-2003. The yellow-and-black paint scheme for team sponsor Estes Trucking -- with its similar corporate colors to his father's longtime sponsor Caterpillar -- leans heavily on his family's racing tradition. "I saw all the throwback stuff and Estes has the same colors as Dad had, so I just thought about the idea and I got the PR team to come up with a design," Jeb Burton said. "I saw it and I thought it'd be a cool idea so we went on with it." Ward Burton caught his first glimpse of the car's vintage look ahead of last weekend's race at Bristol Motor Speedway . The resemblance -- both in colors and its similarly styled numbers -- is uncanny. "It's really cool," the 53-year-old Burton said. "We had a lot of success at Darlington, but more importantly I really appreciate Jeb thinking about me." Ward Burton flew the Caterpillar flag for his most prominent wins in NASCAR's premier series, foremost among them the 2002 Daytona 500 . The yellow-and-black look was also front and center for Burton and crew chief Tommy Baldwin Jr. when the Davis -owned team found a sweet spot at Darlington, yielding two victories at the 1.366-mile track, including the 2001 Southern 500. "Tommy and I'd hit a set-up at Darlington. For about three years there, we were on the top of the board whenever we showed up," Burton said. "Rain got us twice, a wreck got us one other time, a lug nut got us another, but we had the car to beat many times. I liked that place ever since I went there." Jeb Burton , 23, hopes the knack for the "Lady in Black" doesn't skip a generation as he prepares for his first Darlington start. His uncle, Jeff Burton , also won twice at Darlington, sweeping the season's two events there in 1999. The younger Burton got his first taste of driving the treacherous egg-shaped oval in an open test for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series on June 10. "Darlington is its own animal," Burton said. "We went there and tested, and I struggled a little bit and was running the track a little wrong. Right there at the end of the session, I got behind Joey Logano and learned a lot, followed him and actually kept up with him. I thought that was really good, and our team did their best." BK Racing aims to jump-start its performance with next weekend's driver shakeup. Burton's Sunoco Rookie of the Year candidacy has been a rocky path thus far, with the No. 26 missing seven races and cracking the top 30 just twice this season. He ranks 39th in the driver standings. Yeley has run 23 of 24 in the Sprint Cup Series this season but is eligible for championship points only in the NASCAR XFINITY Series. (The team made a driver switch at Richmond with Burton in the No. 23 instead of Yeley.) The No. 23 team stands 39th in the car owner points; BK's No. 26 sits 44th after Bristol. Patrick Donahue will remain the crew chief on the No. 26 team, while Joe Williams will remain the crew chief on the No. 23 team. It's all been a learning process for Burton, who made the jump to Sprint Cup this year after two solid seasons in the Camping World Truck Series. "Coming into it, I didn't think it'd be as tough as it was because I had somewhat success," Burton said, "but in the Truck Series and the ( XFINITY ) Series, the competition level is high up front, but it's … one through 43 in the Cup Series is the best of the best. The best people, the best drivers, the best teams. You've got to be on it and our guys are working hard as a low-budget team. We're getting better every week."
RELATED: MWR won't field full-time entries in 2016 BRISTOL, Tenn. -- Toyota officials made their first official comments concerning the demise of Michael Waltrip Racing Thursday, citing the automaker's long relationship with the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series organization. "We want to thank everyone at Michael Waltrip Racing for a great partnership and for being a part of our 'freshman class' -- one of the race teams that helped us enter the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series nine years ago," Ed Laukes, Vice President marketing, performance and guest experience for Toyota Motor Sales, USA, said in a statement. " Clint Bowyer has been a valuable member of the Toyota Racing family for the past four years, and we will continue to support him, and the rest of the MWR team through the end of the 2015 season. MORE: Bowyer free to pursue other opportunities for 2016 The two-car organization, which currently fields Toyota Camry entries for drivers Bowyer and David Ragan in NASCAR's Sprint Cup Series, announced Tuesday that Bowyer would not return for 2016 and the group would not field a full-time team beyond this season. MWR is co-owned by Rob Kauffman and Michael Waltrip . Its drivers have won seven Sprint Cup Series events with four drivers. Bowyer, who has driven the team's No. 15 entry since 2012, finished a career-best second in the points standings in 2012 and enters this weekend's event at Bristol Motor Speedway 15th in points and looking to secure one of the 16 available spots in this year's Chase for the Sprint Cup . Ragan has been with the organization since May of this season, filling in for former driver Brian Vickers , who has been sidelined this season due to health issues. Toyota made the move into Sprint Cup competition in 2007 and MWR, along with Red Bull Racing and Bill Davis Racing, was one of three organizations to field Toyota entries. The automaker moved into what is now the XFINITY Series in '07 as well. It began competing in the Camping World Truck Series in 2004. "We wish everyone associated with the team the best of luck in the future and we look forward to closing out the season focused on competing for a championship," said Laukes. MWR fielded three full-time Sprint Cup Series teams as recently as 2013. But after the group was penalized prior to the start of the '13 Chase for manipulating the outcome of the final regular-season event at Richmond International Raceway, primary sponsor NAPA departed at the end of the year, forcing the group to scale back to two teams. Toyota has three drivers sitting firmly in the Chase entering Brisol in Joe Gibbs Racing drivers Matt Kenseth , Denny Hamlin and Carl Edwards . Kyle Busch , who has four wins, also is poised to make NASCAR's playoffs as long as he can remain in the top 30 in the drivers points standings. He enters Brisol in 29th place, 23 points ahead of 31st-place driver Cole Whitt . MORE: Updated Chase Grid standings
Carolina Panthers linebacker named honorary pace car driver for Coke 600 CONCORD, N.C. -- Making friends with a member of the NFL's Carolina Panthers on Tuesday wasn't all that easy for Dale Earnhardt Jr ., a diehard fan of the Washington Redskins. The driver's outward allegiance to a rival team wasn't lost on Panthers linebacker Thomas Davis , who rode along with Earnhardt at rapid speed at Charlotte Motor Speedway , shortly after gaining his certification to be the honorary pace car driver for Sunday's Coca-Cola 600 (6 p.m. ET, FOX, PRN, SiriusXM). "It's OK. I mean, we take care of the Redskins, like I said earlier," Davis said, fully aware of his team's three straight victories against Washington. "I'm pretty sure he knows." Davis' crossover into the world of NASCAR was a seamless one, as the 10th-year pro was unfazed as a passenger for Earnhardt's five-lap thrill ride. Part of Davis' nonchalance perhaps stemmed from the similar intensity of his day job, delivering hard hits as part of the Panthers defense. "I ran that thing as hard as it'd go," said Earnhardt, who estimated he approached speeds of nearly 175-180 mph in a Richard Petty Driving Experience machine with his No. 88 colors. "I was watching him over there. He wasn't impressed. He was filming the whole thing with his phone, like he was riding down the interstate." The connection between Earnhardt and Davis reaches further than their common ground as participants in adrenaline-fueled sports. Davis' humanitarian efforts earned him recognition as the 2014 recipient of the NFL's Walter Payton Man of the Year Award, an accolade sponsored by Nationwide -- an Earnhardt sponsor. Those bonds, as well as their mutual affiliation with the Charlotte community, have helped Earnhardt separate his fandom from his personal interactions with Panthers players. "Actually, it's gotten easier," Earnhardt said. "I've got a lot of friends -- real, real close friends -- that are Panthers fans and they make it real hard to pull for the Panthers the way they act and cheer for their team is just … I don't know. Some of my close buddies, they just don't have any class when it comes to the Panthers, especially when they beat the Redskins. I have to hear about it years and years later, and they beat 'em two years ago and I still hear about that. "But I got to get to know (Panthers tight end Greg) Olsen really good, working together with him on some stuff for our charities and he restored my faith in the football team. I really appreciate what they do for the Charlotte community and the area. Obviously, being a business owner in downtown Charlotte with Whisky River, they have a huge influence on our business and our company and the decisions we make, and they're something that we're very proud of. I'll always pull for the Redskins, number one, but I'm definitely warming up to the Panthers after meeting some of the players. They've got some genuine, quality people on their team, and Thomas is one of them." The two athletes exchanged helmets as gifts before their ride-along, but Earnhardt said he hadn't given much thought to making a sports crossover of his own. The 40-year-old driver said he's attended Redskins training camps in the past, but seemed content to limit his football participation to made-for-TV backyard games in Wrangler commercials. "I'm really nervous and shy, so I don't know if I'd want to put myself out there like that," Earnhardt said, noting that he was always too small to suit up in high school. "But just because I'm a fan of a particular sport doesn't mean I think I'm very talented in it at participating. I enjoy the occasional softball game with my buddies or basketball in the gym with my friends. And I love going to the training camp to see the 'Skins and just get an idea of how the team feels and how their morale is and their energy on the field is when they're training, but I don't need to be out there trying to play." Davis' own training exercise Tuesday was slightly less rigorous, but he still earned a thumbs-up from NASCAR official Wayne Auton to lead the 43-car field to the green flag in Sunday's 600-miler, stock-car racing's longest event. In some ways, Davis said, his pace-car duties are nothing new, drawing yet another parallel to Earnhardt's day job. "I'm always ready to perform on Sunday," Davis said. FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Ty Dillon makes veteran-like moves to stay out of a big crash late.
GarageCam host Matthew Dillner gives an all-access tour around the Sprint Cup Series garage at Bristol Motor Speedway and talks to Kyle Larson and Casey Mears in addition to showing off the rainbow paint scheme for Jeff Gordon.
Taryn Davis lost her husband in battle and founded the American Widow Project.
Join GarageCam host Matthew Dillner as he gives an all-access tour around the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series garage at Michigan International Speedway and talks to many drivers including Erik Jones and Matt Crafton.
In this week’s episode the guys cover everything from rain tires to fuel mileage and what got them hooked on NASCAR.
Comparing Earnhardt Jr.'s eight years with each organization Vote: Who will win at Pocono? Stats advance: Dale Jr. attempts to join Allison, Richmond with three in a row at Pocono Editor's note: Last week, Mike Davis , brand director for Dale Earnhardt Jr ., tweeted that the driver was in his eighth year at Hendrick Motorsports after spending eight years at Dale Earnhardt Inc. Hard to believe, but this season marks @DaleJr 's eighth at Hendrick Motorsports , equaling the number of full-time Cup seasons he had at DEI. — Mike Davis (@MikeDavis88) May 26, 2015 Here's a look at how the eight years with the No. 8 and No. 88 compare through the first 13 races of 2007 and 2015.
Earnhardt looks to join select few, will line up 20th on Sunday LONG POND, Pa. -- Dale Earnhardt Jr . is looking to join some rare company in Sunday's Axalta 'We Paint Winners' 400 at Pocono Raceway (1 p.m. ET, FOX Sports 1, MRN, SiriusXM). Fresh of a 2014 sweep of both NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at the Tricky Triangle, Earnhardt is looking to become the third driver to win three in a row at 2.5-mile Pennsylvania track. Bobby Allison and Tim Richmond are the other two to accomplish that with the latter's being the most recent occurrence in 1987. However, the Hendrick Motorsports driver will be starting 20th in his bid to win three straight at Pocono and he explained what led to his worst starting spot since Richmond. "I chopped the entrance to (Turn) 1 on the first lap and that cost us a little bit of time. And then the next run we went into Turn 1 and turned sideways and got loose and just kind of killed the lap. So, we had pretty good speed in practice and just didn't … the driver didn’t do a good job." That qualifying performance led Junior to help his No. 88 team push the car back to the garage. Here @DaleJr helps the @nationwide88 team push the car, saying "It's the least I can do after qualifying 20th." pic.twitter.com/BcFfDohG8X — Mike Davis (@MikeDavis88) June 5, 2015 Earnhardt showed speed in Friday's opening practice, placing fourth in the 85-minute session (176.564 mph). In the second practice, Earnhardt was second on the speed chart (175.596 mph) in the 55-minute session. Still, he understands the difficulty in winning one race at Pocono let alone three straight win. "It's just difficult to win one, you know?" Earnhardt said Friday at Pocono. "It’s difficult to win, period. And there’s so much competition in this series now." Junior will be looking to do something Allison and Richmond did not have to do in their run of three straight victories. He will try and join their club by winning with two different crew chiefs. Greg Ives is on top of the box this season as Steve Letarte, his crew chief for the sweep last year, left to be part of NBC's NASCAR coverage after last season. "Well we won those two races by having some great pit strategy," Earnhardt said on Friday at Pocono. "Steve (Letarte) got real aggressive on his pit calls and I think that is definitely going to be what is going to put you in position to win. You kind of call this race in reverse. "The tire is pretty tough here and durable. There is not a whole lot of fall off. You can call the race sort of like a road course in reverse and put yourself up toward the front like we did last year. It makes it pretty difficult to get around you if you have a good car. I mean we were able to pass some guys that tried to get more aggressive than we were. Everything has kind of got to fall in the right place and allow you to make those choices." The change in crew chiefs hasn't affected Earnhardt's performance this season. Entering Pocono, Earnhardt is fifth in the point standings and scored a win last month at Talladega Superspeedway , his 24th victory in the Sprint Cup Series. He has top-five finishes at all intermediate and restrictor-plate tracks this season (seven in total). Earnhardt is looking to keep the good vibes and good times going with Ives, who worked as a crew chief for two years for Earnhardt's NASCAR XFINITY Series organization, JR Motorsports. "He takes this super, super serious. This is his dream come true to be able to crew chief in the Cup Series, and I want to give him every opportunity to be successful and us as a team, we’re in a good position winning races, running well; we don’t want to take a step back." Hendrick Motorsports has had stretches of dominance at Pocono. The organization's four drivers have won the last five races, Jeff Gordon has the most wins here (six) and Jimmie Johnson swept the 2004 events here. In total, the organization has 17 wins at the Tricky Triangle. Johnson says its hard to win here regularly, making a sweep all that more of an accomplishment. Something only seven drivers, including Junior and Johnson have done. "I kind of put sweeping here in the same box as sweeping at Daytona or Talladega," Johnson said. "There are just so many circumstances out of your control at this track. And those lead to the difficulty in winning often and sweeping, for that matter. "This race, there are always long green-flag runs and varying strategies. The teams that don't have the raw speed to race for the win roll the dice and usually catch cautions and lose track position. Track position is so important. There are a lot of moving targets. It's not just a straight-up downforce-style race. And I think that increases the difficulty to win here regularly." With the success that the four-car stable has had here, Earnhardt's recent run of success here makes him the prohibitive favorite this weekend. In addition to last year's sweep, he posted two top-five finishes in the 2013 races at Pocono and has scored top-10 finishes in seven of his last eight starts there. So what contributes to that dominance for Junior and Hendrick as a whole? "Well, we've got four fast cars," Earnhardt said. "This is a horsepower race track where engines can make a difference. I feel like over the last several years we’ve had one of the best engine programs in the sport. So, I think we’ve just got really good stuff. "Your car really, really shines here; whereas the driver is a little bit of the factor or a lot of the factor, especially on restarts and trying to work that difficult air when you’re behind somebody and make a pass and set it up on a particular part of the race track where it will happen. But the car really shines here and we’ve got some of the best equipment in the garage." FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule