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 .
Keselowski and Hendrick: What might have been
On April 18, 2009, Mark Martin won the Subway Fresh Fit 500 at Phoenix International Raceway . It was the 36th NASCAR premier series win for the 50-year-old driver and his first with team owner Rick Hendrick. A week and a day later, Brad Keselowski won the Aaron's 499 at Talladega Superspeedway . It was the first career win for the 25-year-old, and the first premier series victory for independent car owner James Finch. Two distinctly different races won by two distinctly different drivers. Martin's NASCAR career was beginning to wind down; Keselowski's, on the other hand, appeared to have only just begun. But there was one string that tied the two together -- Hendrick Motorsports . HMS was home to Martin, Jimmie Johnson , Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt Jr . And it was expected by many to be the future home of the up-and-coming kid from Rochester Hills, Michigan. But a collection of factors that came together throughout the course of that season altered the racing landscape as well as the career path of Keselowski. It would be nearly three years before the next driver change at HMS. By then Keselowski had not only found a new home, but he was also on his way to winning the Sprint Cup championship. 'I WAS NOT GOING TO LOSE' The sun was out and the grandstands were packed when the 2009 Aaron's 499, the season's ninth Sprint Cup race, went green for the final time. As race leader Ryan Newman tried to keep Earnhardt Jr., the crowd favorite, in check, Keselowski darted to the inside behind Carl Edwards on the track's massive backstretch. It was a move that didn’t seem to mean much at the time. But at the start-finish line with two laps remaining, Edwards and Keselowski shot to the outside entering Turn 1. "Here they come; look at the 99 and ..." NASCAR on FOX analyst Darrell Waltrip began. " Brad Keselowski ," lead announcer Mike Joy and co-analyst Larry McReynolds chimed in. When the white flag appeared, Edwards and Keselowski had caught and were beginning to pull away from Newman and Earnhardt Jr. Racing back through the tri-oval, Keselowski turned his No. 09 Chevrolet to the outside, and then quickly dropped to the bottom as Edwards moved up to block. Realizing the bottom lane was now open, Edwards reacted quickly -- but not quickly enough. Contact sent the No. 99 Ford spinning. Edwards' car came off the track briefly and was beginning to settle back onto the track it was struck by Newman's Chevrolet. The impact sent Edwards roof-first into the frontstretch catch fence. Meanwhile, Keselowski kept his foot in the gas, racing across the finish line for the win just ahead of Earnhardt Jr. "I was not going to lose," Keselowski said in his post-race winner's interview. "I was not going to lift and (I was going to) hold my ground and consequences be damned." A full-time competitor at the time for JR Motorsports (which, coincidentally, counts Earnhardt Jr. and Hendrick among its ownership group) in what is now the NASCAR XFINITY Series, Keselowski said he didn't know what the future held after his first premier series win. "I know I don't have anything locked in," he said. "That's really all I can say ... I don't have a job secured for next year, and everything to this point has been wait-and-see. I know this certainly can't hurt." But behind the scenes, moves were already underway. Finch's Phoenix Racing, which purchased it engines from HMS, had put Keselowski in the car at the suggestion of Hendrick. And the JRM/Hendrick pipeline, which grooms talent in the lower series to help restock the Sprint Cup program, was taking root. Keselowski had made two starts for Hendrick the previous year, and would make seven all together in '09, in addition to five races with Finch. Perhaps his future wasn't as cloudy as it appeared. "Rick had come out and told me, actually had made it a point to say to the media that he thought I was a future driver at Hendrick," Keselowski told NASCAR.com recently. There was only one problem. SWAN SONG? On July 4, 2008, HMS officials announced that Martin had signed a two-year agreement to drive the organization's No. 5 Chevrolet. According to the news release, Martin, who would run a full schedule in 2009, would "run a partial Sprint Cup schedule ... in 2010, sharing the No. 5 Chevy with a to-be-determined second driver.” By most accounts, that driver was expected to be Keselowski. But in May of '09, less than three weeks after Martin's Phoenix victory, HMS officials announced a revision to the '08 agreement. The veteran driver would return in 2010 to once again run the entire season. With Keselowski waiting in the wings and Martin winning and agreeing to return the following year, "Rick was kind of half pregnant," Keselowski said. "He (was) stuck. "My feeling was, after I had won Talladega, I'm going to get this 5 car ride partially next year, pair it with something else, let's go. I didn't know what it was going to be. We'll figure it out; let's go." A phone call and subsequent meeting with Hendrick, however, changed all that. "I was kind of expecting more of a 'Hey, we're going to expedite the process of clearing out the rest of this,' " Keselowski said of the meeting, "And instead I got a 'Hey, I don't have a ride for you. You need to figure something else out. I'll try to help.' "That was late April, early May of that year. My intent ... was to give him that time to kind of make right on it somehow, find a ride because he had made me the promise that I would have that car. It didn't sit all that well, but I understood the circumstances and so forth." Months passed and Keselowski busied himself with his full-time XFINITY Series effort at JRM while making a handful of Sprint Cup starts for Hendrick and Finch. Hendrick, in the meantime, was exploring the various avenues that might keep Keselowski in the HMS camp. Possible scenarios included Stewart-Haas Racing , at the time a two-team effort, and Red Bull Racing. Consideration was even given to fielding a Sprint Cup entry out of the JR Motorsports shop, according to the owner. But the pieces didn't fit and as the summer wore on, Keselowski's future remained uncertain. "I wanted him to wait a year," Hendrick told NASCAR.com. "... I don't remember all the details, but I do remember that Mark had done so well, and I had tried to talk (Mark) into staying. "I've told all our guys, the first time I sat down with Brad he impressed me because he was so intense about the whole car and wanted to be involved in everything. He was just so committed. I told our guys he's got the right attitude about racing and driving. I just needed him to wait." Waiting, though, wasn't part of Keselowski's plan. "My perception is a driver is a lot like a perishable fruit," Keselowski said. "You've got so much time, then he spoils and goes bad. There are a lot of variables, much like anything." PENSKE COMES CALLING The Keselowski family has always been involved in racing. Brad's father Bob was an ARCA Series standout and a former winner in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. Ron Keselowski, an uncle, scored two top-five finishes in 68 premier series starts while older brother Brian Keselowski has one or more starts in all three of NASCAR's national series. "We knew the Keselowski name from being here in Detroit," Walt Czarnecki, an executive vice president at Penske Corp., said. "His dad, his uncle, all that. They would run out at MIS ( Michigan International Speedway ) when (Penske) owned the track." But it was a business associate, lawyer/agent John Caponigro, who brought up the young driver's name during a conversation in 2009. "We thought he was committed to Hendrick," Czarnecki said. "He'd been on loan to James Finch to run several races. But some things were changing." Conversations with Keselowski ensued, in Michigan as well as Mooresville, North Carolina , where Team Penske is headquartered. "All this time," Czarnecki said, "Still having this somewhat uncertain situation with Mr. Hendrick." Team Penske had grown from a two-team to a three-team organization in '08, fielding cars for drivers Kurt Busch , Ryan Newman and Sam Hornish Jr . In '09 Newman departed to join owner/driver Tony Stewart at Stewart-Haas Racing and 32-year-old David Stremme was brought on board to fill the open seat. But the Keselowski opportunity was intriguing, according to Czarnecki. "We've tried to sign on what we consider to be the best available young drivers with a great deal of potential that we could mold and have them grow in our organization," he said. "And I think that Brad certainly fit that description. "But above and beyond that, he had a bigger vision as to what role he wanted to play in terms of the development of the team. ... Just how he saw different things coming together ... "Some of it may have been a little unrealistic; some of it was certainly the enthusiasm of a young man who had a goal in mind. ... But he had this great enthusiasm and he had this great desire and this great commitment. And that appealed to us." With the Hendrick effort seemingly stalled, Keselowski went back to Penske with a request -- to compete full-time in both the Sprint Cup and XFINITY Series. In addition to its Sprint Cup effort, Team Penske was fielding one full-time XFINITY Series team with driver Justin Allgaier . Expanding that program to two teams running all the races was problematic, given the economy at the time. Told such a scenario was unlikely, Keselowski was left to consider his few available options. But Penske officials continued to work until enough of the appropriate pieces were in place. "Sure enough, Roger called me one night and said 'Alright, I've got it put together,' " Keselowski said. "It kind of caught me off guard. I was sold. That's it; he made it happen." "I couldn't sit around and wait. ... Roger had gone above and beyond to put something together that I felt like was the opportunity I needed. ... The economy was on its way down fast; Roger (through his various businesses) had a lot of immunities to the economy. Rick made it very clear to me that he was not going to invest himself without having a sponsor, and the economy was not in a spot where he could facilitate that." Hendrick had been aware of the Penske interest from the beginning, having had conversations with his fellow team owner about Keselowski's status. "Roger called me and asked me could he talk to him," Hendrick said. "I didn't want to stand in his way. Brad's a hell of a talent. It was a timing issue. "It's worked out for him. At his age it would have been nice if we could have kept him. ... If I got a call from Roger and I was in his spot I would have done exactly what he did." POSTSCRIPT On Sept. 1, 2009, Team Penske officials announced that the organization had signed Keselowski to compete full-time in both the Sprint Cup and XFINITY Series beginning the following season. Since then, Keselowski has won 17 Sprint Cup races, 28 XFINITY Series races and championships in both series. "I don't want to sound mercenary but he brought us our first Sprint Cup championship (in 2012)," Czarnecki said. "Because that vision that he outlined, we tried to work with him and bring people along, bring people into the organization, have him work with people like (crew chief) Paul Wolfe, it was really the realization of that vision. That's what it (has) meant. "And his intensity hasn't changed." Former teammates Busch and Hornish have departed, and fellow driver AJ Allmendinger has come and gone. Keselowski, now 32, is the veteran of a Penske group that now includes 25-year-old teammate Joey Logano . "I wasn’t looking to switch," Keselowski said. "If things would have gone the way they were supposed to go before Mark won that race at Phoenix, I would still be there."
Post-Race Reactions: Good Sam Roadside Assistance 200
James Buescher and Johnny Sauter comment on their strong runs at the Rock, while Nelson Piquet reflects on his pit road mistake.
Theriault, Cindric to take turns in BKR's third truck
Brad Keselowski Racing announced Thursday that it plans to field a third truck in two NASCAR Camping World Truck Series races in May. BKR plans to field the No. 2 Ford for Austin Cindric on May 13 at Dover International Raceway and for Austin Theriault on May 20 at Charlotte Motor Speedway . The two will race alongside the Statesville, North Carolina -based team's two full-time drivers -- Daniel Hemric and Tyler Reddick . The 17-year-old Cindric is scheduled to make just his third Camping World Truck Series start. He was 25th (Martinsville) and 14th (Phoenix) driving BKR's No. 29 Ford in two appearances near the end of last season. "A track called the 'Monster Mile' shouldn't be taken lightly," Cindric said in a news release provided by the team. "They tell me that the two truck races that I was able to do last year at Martinsville and Phoenix were difficult tracks to figure out, and I believe Dover will be the same. As I haven't been able to test, I've been watching as much video as possible while reaching out to as many people as I can to pick their brain about what it takes to be fast at Dover. I'm just going in with no expectations, trying to absorb as much information as possible and have fun with it." Theriault, 22, will be making his second start of the year after placing a crash-related 27th in the season opener at Daytona International Speedway . He also made nine starts for BKR last season, recording two top-five finishes (Daytona, Texas). "I was really proud of the effort at Daytona and how strong our performance was, and I feel like Charlotte won't be any different," Theriault said. "I'm going there with the expectation to win. I know we will have a strong Ford F-150 race truck at Charlotte and we plan to perform well, just like we did earlier this year at Daytona. At the end of the day, we want to win, and we have all the resources here at BKR to do just that at Charlotte."
Ty Dillon ready to relieve Tony Stewart at Talladega
MORE: How qualifying works at 'Dega TALLADEGA, Ala. -- Double duty continues this weekend for Ty Dillon as the Richard Childress Racing driver competes in Saturday's XFINITY Series race and is expected to take over the No. 14 of Tony Stewart at some point in Sunday's Sprint Cup Series event. There's still a bit of newness to the 2016 season but Dillon, 24, has already made 13 starts between the two series. In addition to his full-time role with RCR, he's made three starts in place of Stewart as well as two for Circle Sport- Leavine Family Racing . "I was hoping to maybe be full-time this year in the Sprint Cup Series about this time last year," Dillon said Friday morning at Talladega Superspeedway , site of Sunday's GEICO 500 (1 p.m. ET, FOX, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). "That is where I kind of had my goals set, my eyes set, but the opportunity didn't come along. "I can't thank Stewart-Haas (Racing) … enough for giving me the opportunity to fill in this year with Tony being out. Not only has it helped me with my career and getting better as a race car driver, but it's helped me show people that I can get the job done in other equipment too." Stewart, a three-time premier series champion, missed the first eight races after suffering a back injury in the offseason. He made his first start last weekend at Richmond International Raceway . RELATED: Stewart: Full coverage of injury, comeback Dillon split time with fellow driver Brian Vickers in the car during Stewart's absence. With the potential for multi-car accidents much higher at Talladega, Stewart and Stewart-Haas Racing officials made the call to have Stewart start this week's race and then turn the ride over to Dillon. Dillon is also scheduled to qualify the car on Saturday. Because of his extensive time in the car, the interior will be fitted to address his needs. RELATED: Ty to qualify for Tony at Talladega "I haven’t talked to Tony yet, but I talked with Mike (Bugarewicz, crew chief) and the guys," Dillon said of the interior work. "They said it's just a quarter-inch difference and the belt set is all that we are playing with. So, we've got adjustable belts to make up for that really quickly. "We have had to make a couple of changes to kind of compensate for a little bit of both, but mostly everything in there is built for me and for my comfort, because I will be in it for the longer part of the race." By starting the race, Stewart will be awarded the points earned as a result of Dillon's finishing position. In addition, NASCAR officials said that should Dillon win Sunday's race, it would be counted as a win toward Stewart's Chase eligibility. Stewart would also have to be among the top 30 in points. He currently trails Matt DiBenedetto , in 30th, by 101 points. RELATED: How Stewart will be scored at 'Dega "First of all it would mean I won a Sprint Cup race and I would be pretty excited," Dillon said. "On top of that, to be able to get Tony a step closer to being locked into the Chase would be really cool. … "I haven't started a race without the goal of winning my entire career. That is what my focus is. As soon as I get strapped into that race car I'm planning on going to the front and hopefully winning the race. If it all comes together and we do win the race, I'm sure it will be a heck of a party and everybody is going to be happy." Stewart, who will retire from Sprint Cup competition at season's end, said he was appreciative of the opportunity to contend for a spot in the 10-race Chase, but said he "wouldn’t feel good about" earning a berth based on a win by another driver. "I think for me to make the Chase it needs to be because I ran the whole race and won the race, not started it and somebody else won it for me."
Stewart completes tire test at Indy; Edwards, more join
Four NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers concluded a two-day Goodyear tire test Wednesday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway . For three-time series champion Tony Stewart , it wrapped up what he said would be the final tire test of his career. Stewart joined last weekend's winner Carl Edwards , Aric Almirola and rookie Chase Elliott among drivers involved at the Brickyard, helping Goodyear officials determine the proper tire compound for the Sprint Cup Series' annual visit on July 24. Stewart was fresh from his season debut at Richmond International Raceway , where he placed 19th after missing eight races with a broken back suffered in an all-terrain vehicle incident Jan. 31. As was the case Sunday at Richmond, Stewart was in good spirits as he eased back into full-time racing in what is scheduled to be his final NASCAR season as a driver. RELATED: Stewart eager for more after Richmond return "I'm actually having fun up here," said Stewart, an Indiana native. "This is my last tire test as a driver, so I've been having fun working with the Goodyear guys and it's been kind of fun because three of the main guys here when I started here are at this test, which they don't always get to come to the same test together. It's kind of nice to be working with them one last time. "It's nice to be home and I think any chance, any time that we've had an opportunity to go test here, I always jumped on it. I don't like to go test -- it's boring to me -- but I've always liked any chance I got to come up to Indy and test. That's something I always wanted to do." Stewart's next NASCAR appearance at the venerable Speedway is scheduled this summer, when he'll compete in what will likely be his final Indianapolis race. The 44-year-old Stewart said he's had less chance to reminisce about his memories of the home-state track than to get accustomed to the reduced-downforce aerodynamics package that made its debut this year. "It's probably more just fresh on my mind of being back in the car. I haven't driven with this low-downforce package other than just Richmond last weekend, which you aren't really going to see a big effect of it. Being here and seeing how much different it feels, it's fun to kind of get acclimated again and that's the big thing that I wanted to leave here with was just feeling like that I was up to speed with what the aero package was and knowing what the feel is like." Edwards has won the last two Sprint Cup races, including last Sunday's bump-and-run past Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Kyle Busch to prevail at Richmond. Edwards said he hadn't had a chance to speak with Busch about the incident with his quick transition from the Virginia short track to Indianapolis before heading to Talladega Superspeedway this weekend. RELATED: JGR orders? Edwards-Busch bump say it isn't so Edwards' more immediate focus was to provide feedback to Goodyear engineers after a battery of tests at the historic 2.5-mile track. "There's a lot of stuff to learn here," Edwards said. "This track, it's difficult for a number of reasons, but really for me, just the weather today versus yesterday, it's hard to determine how much of it is the weather. As the track changes, the Goodyear rubber lays down, it changes. The challenge for us is as we make these changes with the car to try to separate the track changes and the temperature changes from the actual changes to the car. "So it's a pretty difficult place to test and to figure things out, but that kind of makes it fun. We've got my crew chief and my team of engineers over there, and I mean they are going through every … I mean, they're really over there thinking and working hard, and those kind of challenges are fun."
Edwards: 'Kyle and I haven't talked' since Richmond
RELATED: No team orders for Edwards, Busch " Vote: Clean or dirty move? TALLADEGA, Ala. -- Following last weekend's thrilling finish to the Sprint Cup series race at Richmond International Raceway in which Carl Edwards bumped teammate Kyle Busch from the lead to pick up his second straight victory, the lingering question in the days leading up to this weekend's events at Talladega Superspeedway was if the Joe Gibbs Racing duo would bury the hatchet. According to Edwards, the two drivers have yet to speak to each other. "No, Kyle and I have not had a chance to talk yet," Edwards said Friday at Talladega Superspeedway . "I was testing at ( Indianapolis Motor Speedway ) for two days. I missed the meetings. This weekend will require us to all get together as a group and work well together. I'm sure we'll have a chance to talk." Much was made of the move that saw Edwards nudge his teammate Busch, the reigning series champion, up the track in Turns 3 and 4 on the final lap to beat him by .675 seconds on the Virginia short track. RELATED: Cain: Edwards' move is what racing is all about Was it clean? Was it dirty? Should it matter that they're teammates? Should it matter that they're both already virtually locked into the Chase for the Sprint Cup by virtue of their early-season wins? (A NASCAR.com poll revealed that 76 percent of our readers deemed it a clean, racing move, for what it's worth.) But it all boils down to how the pair -- who've been racing against each other full-time for over a decade, but have been teammates for just over a year -- will handle things moving forward, both on and off the track. Busch was understandably terse in his post-race press conference at Richmond on Sunday, deflecting questions about the incident and instead noting how good of a car his team gave him. The two-time 2016 race winner has yet to offer any comment since. RELATED: Recap all of Edwards' wins " All of Busch's wins
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."
Petty family prepares for Ride Across America
LEVEL CROSS, N.C. (April 21, 2016) -- For the first time in its history, Kyle Petty will be joined by his three sisters and legendary father during the Kyle Petty Charity Ride Across America, one of the most successful and popular charity rides in the country, for its 22nd annual motorcycle trek. Petty will ride alongside his sisters, Sharon, Lisa, Rebecca and father, "The King" Richard during the ride presented by Manheim. The ride engages celebrities, motorcycle enthusiasts, fans, and local communities to raise funds and awareness for Victory Junction, a camp for kids with serious health care needs. Petty will lead his wife, father, sisters and his extended "charity ride family" of approximately 200 riders on a route starting in Palm Springs, California on April 30 and ending in Biloxi, Mississippi on May 6. "We've been doing this for over 20 years and I've never had all my sisters and father with me on the ride," said Petty. "So, that makes this ride even more special for our family. We've all been busy doing different things, but this year we were all able to get this on everyone's calendar. Family, friends, having a good time together and making memories is what this ride is all about and having all my sisters and father with us will make the experience that much better. I'm really looking forward to it." The ride will be supported through social media channels by Richard Petty Motorsports , Richard Petty Museum, Petty Family Foundation and Petty's Garage. Fans can visit these respective Facebook, Twitter and Instagram sites for photos of the ride along its route. Twenty two years ago, Petty combined his passion for helping others with his love of motorcycles to create the Ride. Since 1995, more than 7,750 riders have logged 11.4 million cumulative motorcycle miles and raised $16.5 million for Victory Junction and other children's charities. "The Ride continues to be an overwhelming success thanks to the passion and commitment of our riders and sponsors, a majority of which join in the Ride and support the cause year over year," said Petty. "Thanks to their continued support, the Ride has been able to send more than 7,880 children to Victory Junction at no cost their families." Since its inception by Petty and his family in 2004, in honor of his son Adam Petty, Victory Junction has served as the Ride's primary beneficiary. Located on 84 acres in Randleman, North Carolina , Victory Junction exists to enrich the lives of children with chronic or life-threatening illnesses by creating camping experiences that are memorable, fun, empowering, physically safe and medically sound. Fans and spectators along the Ride's route may contribute to the "Small Change. Big Impact." program, which accepts donations at local stops. To keep up with Petty and the riders live, follow the Ride and Petty on social media: Facebook: www.facebook.com/kpcharityride and www.facebook.com/kylepetty45 Instagram: www.instagram.com/kpcharityride and www.instagram.com/kylepetty Twitter: www.twitter.com/kpcharityride and www.twitter.com/kylepetty For more information about the 22nd Anniversary Kyle Petty Charity Ride Across America or to make a contribution, please visit www.kylepettycharityride.com .
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 .