Jeff Gordon and Junior fans react at Indianapolis
Several Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt Jr. fans offer their reaction to Jeff Gordon substituting for Dale Earnhardt Jr. at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Jeff Gordon's driver introduction at Indy
Watch as Jeff Gordon gets introduced at Indianapolis Motor Speedway as the driver of the No. 88 Chevrolet.
Food City -Bristol partnership roots run deep
RELATED: Bristol quick facts " Full weekend schedule BRISTOL, Tenn. – It began with a promotion to help former series sponsor RJ Reynolds sell product. Today, 25 years later, the Food City sponsorship of Bristol Motor Speedway 's spring NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event is as strong as ever. It is the second-longest race entitlement in NASCAR – trailing only the Coca-Cola sponsorship of the 600-mile May race at Charlotte Motor Speedway . "We started in 1992, followed up the Valleydale 500 ," Steve Smith , Food City President and CEO, said Thursday at BMS. "That was back when it was still Winston Cup. We worked with RJ Reynolds on a promotion ... that was the whole genesis of us getting involved in racing." Initially, it wasn't a long-term deal, but by the time the next season had arrived, officials with the grocery chain were ready and willing to return. "We signed the (initial) agreement and we had a great first race," Smith said. "Alan Kulwicki actually won our first race in 1992; I remember that well. We were off and running." Kulwicki, an owner/driver, went on to win the series title that season. Tragically, the following year he was killed in a plane crash while en route to BMS to defend his Food City 500 title. Smith said his company, founded by his father Jack, became involved at the right time in the sport, when the fan base was on the upswing, TV coverage was gaining traction and sponsorship dollars were flowing. "What happened with Bristol was really indicative of what was happening with NASCAR, it was just growing and growing," he said. "Five years later Bruton (Smith, Speedway Motorsports Inc. founder) bought the track and things just really started to escalate here with the amenities and the things that they did for the race fans. ... Folks love coming here, they love the racing environment, and they love, I think, the southern hospitality. "We try, as a sponsor, to do a lot of things to get them in here a little bit early, whether it's Food City Race Night or other events to really make it a full week of fun for the race fan." In addition to the Sprint Cup race sponsorship, the company also sponsors the August NASCAR XFINITY Series event at Bristol. While there have been times that spending money on race entitlement rights might have been questionable, Smith said "I don't think there's ever been a time when we really thought about dropping the race. "Now, we've negotiated pretty tough with Speedway Motorsports because obviously the fan base dropped a little bit, the viewership dropped a little bit, but when you've got folks like (former BMS General Manager) Jeff Byrd and (current GM) Jerry Caldwell that you know are going to do everything they can to give the race fan, our customers, that experience, it makes it pretty easy to continue to spend the dollars and continue to keep our associates that work in our stores involved in racing, and that's a big part of it, too." The return for Food City , he said, comes in many forms. No. 1 is name recognition. "We're a relatively small regional company -- we're in four states, 135 stores, 16,000 associates," Smith said. "It sounds like a lot but in the scheme of things compared to some of our competition, it's not. But it's a sense of pride for our associates, our customers who know we sponsor racing. "NASCAR fans are very loyal, they're loyal to the brands that are involved whether it's Food City or other consumer products sponsors. We think it helps us sell more products and bring more people in to our stores." In February of 2014, Food City and BMS officials announced a five-year extension for the naming rights of the track's spring Sprint Cup race. "At the end of the day, it's hard to put a financial statement together that proves that it's a great spend, but we've been doing good ever since we been sponsoring racing so we don't want to stop there," Smith said.
Wallace Jr. shows off 'Shredder' scheme for Chicagoland
NEW YORK -- Nickelodeon today announced that it is has teamed up with NASCAR XFINITY Series star "Bubba" Wallace to drive a special No. 6 Shredder Ford Mustang in the XFINITY 300 on Saturday, September 17. Nickelodeon 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. The track will feature a weekend of action, activities and fun for the entire family with the iconic Heroes in a Half Shell. Wallace is in his second full-time season in the NASCAR XFINITY Series for Roush Fenway Racing. His unique race car at Chicagoland will feature Shredder in his iconic helmet on the hood, rear bumper and left rear quarter-panel. The Foot Clan is right there with him, standing watch on the right rear quarter-panel, ready to do battle. Shredder is the commander of an evil ninja army called the Foot Clan, and is one of the deadliest martial artists in the world. He is cold, cunning, ruthless, and obsessed with destroying Splinter, whom he blames for the death of his true love. Shredder’s thirst for revenge has drained him of all compassion, warmth and connection to humanity. Wallace will join a number of other drivers with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles paint schemes for the Sept. 17-18 race weekend. NASCAR Sprint Cup Series star Danica Patrick has already been announced to drive the No. 10 April O'Neil/Nature's Bakery Chevrolet SS in the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 400 . Additional drivers will be announced this summer. "I grew up watching the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Shredder was always a cool character," said Wallace. "It's an honor to partner with Nickelodeon on this program. Hopefully Shredder and the Foot Clan will lead the way to Victory Lane." 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 kick off race, as well. "We are excited to partner with Bubba Wallace and Roush Fenway Racing to showcase Shredder and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles in the NASCAR XFINITY race," 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." 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.
Gordon: SHR reached out before Daytona 500
RELATED: Full schedule for Indianapolis " Gordon through the years SPEEDWAY, Ind. -- Jeff Gordon 's "un-retirement" from competing in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series began in earnest Friday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The four-time Sprint Cup Series champion is filling in for Hendrick Motorsports teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr. at Indianapolis and next weekend at Pocono Raceway while Earnhardt recovers from concussion-like symptoms. Almost as surprising as Gordon's return to the driver's seat -- he retired from full-time competition after the 2015 season -- was his disclosure that he had been approached about filling in for the injured Tony Stewart in this year's Daytona 500 . Stewart, driver of the No. 14 Chevrolet and co-owner of the four-car organization, missed the first eight races after suffering a broken back in an off-road driving incident prior to the start of the 2016 season. Gordon's role as a FOX NASCAR analyst (the network provides coverage of the season's first 16 points races) prohibited him from returning to competition. "The crazy thing about all of this (is) I was asked to drive Tony Stewart 's car in Daytona to start the season," Gordon said Friday. "I wasn't able to do it because of my commitments to FOX. Now Rick (Hendrick, team owner) has some amazing ways to convince people into things that the average person might not be able to. I don't know, maybe he could have called Eric Shanks or something, but no, I don't think so." Shanks is President, COO and Executive Producer of FOX Sports. Stewart is competing in his final season as a driver. Sunday's Crown Royal Presents the Combat Wounded Coalition 400 at the Brickyard will be his final appearance at the famed 2.5-mile track, where he has earned two of his 49 career victories. That Gordon was asked about filling in earlier this season was news to Stewart. "I wasn't (aware)," Stewart said, "but that would have been awesome. That probably would have been one of the coolest things to happen this season. If that happened, I would have been all for it. … "I wasn't aware of that, but that would have been a really cool deal for us." MORE: Dale Jr. out, Gordon in No. 88 at Indianapolis, Pocono
Watch Jeff Gordon climb in the No. 88
Watch as Jeff Gordon climbs inside the No. 88 AXALTA Chevrolet for Hendrick Motorsports. The four-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion is filling in for Dale Earnhardt Jr. at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Brick-by -Brick: Gordon preps for Indy
NASCAR.com’s Jonathan Merryman takes a look at the hard work Jeff Gordon has done to get ready for his substitute role in Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s No. 88 Chevrolet at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Junior ramping up recovery by shooting hoops?
MORE: Latest Dale Jr. updates With Dale Earnhardt Jr. in recovery mode as he works his way back from battling concussion-like symptoms, the No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports driver has a bit of extra time on his hands as he lays low and won't be making a trip to the race track until Watkins Glen, at the earliest. Enter NBA Live. Confessing my addiction to @EASPORTSNBA on my iPad. I'm up at 5:30 cause there's a shooting drill to get done. #LV25 #Hornets #BanksNotOpen — Dale Earnhardt Jr. (@DaleJr) July 25, 2016 5:30 a.m. shooting drills? That's some Kobe-level committment. EA Sports took notice. @EASPORTSNBA I got em all matched up nice, but 2way and Bigs are playing well. — Dale Earnhardt Jr. (@DaleJr) July 25, 2016 Hey, at least he isn't playing "Pokémon Go." RELATED: Hate it or love it, 'Pokémon Go' is the future
Hendrick GM: Jeff Gordon to drive at Indy if Dale Jr. can't
RELATED: Drivers react, offer thoughts on Earnhardt Jr. news Hendrick Motorsports indicated that Jeff Gordon would return to NASCAR Sprint Cup Series competition in place of Dale Earnhardt Jr. next weekend at Indianapolis Motor Speedway if Earnhardt has not fully recovered from concussion-like symptoms. Gordon, a four-time champion in NASCAR's premier series, ended his full-time driving career last season. All of his 93 victories and 797 starts came during his 23-year career with Hendrick Motorsports, which fields four cars including the No. 88 Chevrolet driven by Earnhardt Jr. Hendrick Motorsports announced Thursday that Earnhardt would miss this Sunday's New Hampshire 301 (1:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) with concussion-like symptoms. Earnhardt also missed time in the 2012 season, sitting out two races after sustaining two concussions in a stretch of six weeks. Doug Duchardt, Hendrick Motorsports' general manager, revealed the striking news of Gordon's possible Indy return on July 24 in the Crown Royal Presents the Combat Wounded Coalition 400 at the Brickyard during a press conference Friday morning at New Hampshire. Gordon is NASCAR's all-time winningest driver at the historic Brickyard with five Indianapolis victories on his Hall of Fame-worthy resume. Duchardt said that there was no timetable for Earnhardt's return to competition, reiterating the organization's stance from Thursday's announcement. "I really don't want to speculate past Indy," Duchardt said. "I think we just want to take it one race at a time here. I think putting any speculation past that is assuming that Dale is not going to be ready for that amount of time. We will obviously be thinking about contingency plans, but we don't have anything formalized for sure past Indy." Alex Bowman will be making his first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series start of the season in the Hendrick No. 88 Chevrolet. Bowman, 23, is also a part-time competitor for JR Motorsports in the NASCAR XFINITY Series. Duchardt indicated that Gordon was not strongly considered for this weekend's duty at New Hampshire because before Thursday, all indications were that Earnhardt potentially needed only a relief driver instead of a full-fledged replacement. Additionally, Gordon revealed Thursday that he was currently in France, which would have made for a tight turnaround to prepare for competition in New England this weekend. NASCAR spokesperson David Higdon said that for Earnhardt to return to racing, competition officials would need notice of medical clearance from an independent, board-certified neurologist. Duchardt said that the team would make a determination by the middle of next week for the driver of the No. 88 Chevrolet at Indianapolis. "For (crew chief) Greg (Ives) and the team, certainly the way Jeff sits in the car and what we have to do to prepare the car for Jeff they have to get ready for that," Duchardt said. But, I think I would be looking around Wednesday time frame." Ryan Newman , a 15th-year veteran with Richard Childress Racing, said that a driver of Gordon's caliber would likely be capable of competitively rejoining the series without signs of rust. "Yeah, just because you go to the nude beach for a couple of months doesn't mean you don't know how to put your underwear back on," Newman said, prompting laughter in the NHMS media center. </p>
Kyle Busch, Ryan Newman react to Jeff Gordon's potential return at Indy
Kyle Busch and Ryan Newman react to news of Jeff Gordon's possible return to the drivers seat at Indianapolis Motor Speedway as a potential substitute driver for Dale Earnhardt Jr.