See what drivers have to say about keeping friendships on the track RELATED: Subscribe to NASCAR Illustrated Photo credit: Jim Fluharty/NASCAR Illustrated Is it hard for drivers to maintain friendships with one another? Austin Dillon, Sprint Cup Driver, ( @austindillon3 ) "It's harder for some drivers than it is for others. You just have to learn how to have friendships with those guys because you see them so often. There's a balance between being a friend or just a guy that you know. It can be tough to hit that balance." Brian Vickers, Sprint Cup Driver, ( @BrianLVickers ) "It goes both ways. You have this common interest and respect for each other because of what you do. They are also your competitors. You race with them each week and things happen. You get in accidents, you get mad at each other, so friendships come and go. The respect is probably what keeps friendships together." Kevin Swindell, Nationwide driver, ( @KevinSwindell ) "It can be. A lot of guys go off the old adage, 'If you want friends at the race track, bring them with you.' As you get older, your mindset tends to change. You forgive a little quicker and get to thinking that not everyone is out to get you." Elliott Sadler, Nationwide driver, ( @Elliott_Sadler ) "No, not at all. I've got a lot of friends in this sport. It's almost like a traveling family. You're with drivers more than you're with your own family. You might have an issue with somebody, but you're such close friends, you talk it out and work through it." Have you ever been surprised by how a driver you thought was a friend talked about you or raced you on the track? DILLON: "Yes, at certain times, I've gone, 'Wow, I didn't think he'd say something like that.' Or other drivers have done things after the race that left me saying, 'I don't know that guy.' But you always get over it because there are times when all of us act out of character." VICKERS: "For me, what happens on the track is on the track. I may be mad or disappointed about how someone handled a situation, but that's purely for how they handled things on the track. I wouldn't let it change how I felt about them as a friend." SWINDELL: "There's always something, but you've got to stop and ask yourself, 'Would I have done the same thing to them?' If that's the case, you've got to calm down and let it slide." SADLER: "You run into that all the time, but it’s in the heat of the moment. I'd say 75 to 80 percent of the guys out here are great guys who would do anything in the world for you. But you've got to go out there and race hard and know where to draw the line." Have you ever gotten to know a driver for the first time and come away thinking, "That guy is cooler than I thought?" DILLON: "First impressions are big with me. I feel like I know where someone stands pretty early on when I meet them. I have talked to some guys and come away thinking, 'Man, that's a good guy.' I have also thought, 'Man, that guy is a loser,' and then spent 30 minutes with them and come away thinking totally different of them. I've learned that you've got to be open-minded with everybody. You've got to give everyone a chance." VICKERS: "You have perceptions of people and sometimes that changes when you get to know them. With people in the public eye, you're almost forced to make a judgment of them before you really know them based on what you’ve seen of them. Then you meet them and maybe get a different impression." SWINDELL: "Sure. There are always people that have a reputation one way or the other, and you come away surprised that they are different than you thought." SADLER: "I've had that happen a couple of times, and I've talked to drivers I didn't really know and felt like, 'That guy is going to have a tough time.' " SUBSCRIBE NOW!
Follow your favorite NASCAR Camping World Truck Series driver news, media, stats and standings only on the official site of NASCAR.
Description goes here.
Nationwide honors No. 9 JR Motorsports team on Champ's Day COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Nationwide Insurance officials rolled out the red carpet -- OK, make that the blue carpet -- Tuesday as the departing series sponsor welcomed 2014 NASCAR Nationwide Series champion Chase Elliott and the No. 9 JR Motorsports team to its headquarters. Elliott, 18, became the youngest series champion while also earning Sunoco Rookie of the Year honors this past season. He and members of his team spent the day in Columbus visiting the Nationwide Children's Hospital, participating in a Nationwide Insurance "Marketing U" panel discussion and signing autographs, with tours of Nationwide Arena (home of the Columbus Blue Jackets NHL franchise) and Woody Hayes Athletic Complex (at The Ohio State University) taking place as well. The team capped off the day with a return trip to the arena to take in the Blue Jackets' game against the Philadelphia Flyers -- which the Blue Jackets won in a shootout. That the celebration honored his entire team, Elliott said, was important. "I really think, at least as far as my guys -- I don't know about anybody else's -- I know my guys have made me look a lot better than I really am this season," he said. "Take it or leave it, that's the truth. I respect them and all that they do. "I know how much work and effort goes into these cars in trying to improve and make them better each week. All that … plays a role, every little bit counts and those guys know that. Especially the guys that travel on the road and work during the week. They don't get a day off from February through November. People don't realize that. I have all the respect in the world for them." Nationwide Insurance has supported the Children's Hospital for more than 50 years. According to officials, it is the third largest ("and second busiest," Elliott is told) pediatric hospital in the country. The hospital treats approximately 1.1 million patients annually, and its patients come from all 50 states as well as 33 countries. This past season, the NASCAR Nationwide Series returned to Mid-Ohio for the Nationwide Children's Hospital 200. Proceeds from the event benefited the hospital, and 10 "Patient Champions" were featured on various cars in the event. Tuesday, those Patient Champions were treated to a visit from Elliott and the team, posed for photographs and were presented gifts, which included sheet metal from the cars representing each child. The panel discussion at Nationwide Insurance's corporate headquarters, which took place inside the Jeffers Auditorium, touched on a number of subjects, from Elliott's success at such a young age to the value of teamwork. Jim McCoy, director of strategic sponsorships for Nationwide Insurance, noted the company's impending departure, but also stressed that it would remain involved in the NASCAR realm -- as a primary sponsor for Dale Earnhardt Jr . in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series as well as title sponsor of the Mid-Ohio event. "We've made a lot of incredible relationships," McCoy told the group. "First and foremost with JR Motorsports, we've worked with them the last six years and they've been such a big part of the Nationwide Series. "To have them finish with the championship was a great way to cap that relationship. It was … important for us to finish strong, go out with class and style the way that we approached all seven years (of our association). "We couldn't be happier with the way things turned out, not only with Mid-Ohio, but having a young champion represent our last year." During the Blue Jackets' game, Elliott was interviewed between periods by the team's radio host while co-owner Kelley Earnhardt Miller and husband L.W. Miller (director of motorsports at JRM) participated in a game of "Name That Tune" shown on the arena's video screens. And team members were on the ice during a break to help with an ice go-kart challenge race. Elliott, who will return to defend his series title with the team in 2015, said afterward that being able to spend time with his team and take part in the Nationwide visit was special. "I've had fun with it," he said. "You know I spent a lot of time watching these races on TV, sitting home on the couch, more than I have being a part of them. From watching it on TV to being a part of it firsthand, I can really tell you how much Nationwide puts into this. I hate to see them go. I think the sponsor that follows definitely has big shoes to fill. "Just to see their involvement and how much they care this season and the effort they put into everything is far more than I've ever seen before from a sponsor for a series. It's been very cool to see." FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Father of Johnny Sauter made 76 career starts in premier series Jim Sauter, a racer and father of four drivers including NASCAR Camping World Truck Series driver Johnny Sauter , died on Friday night shortly before the conclusion of the Truck event at Texas Motor Speedway , according to ThorSport Racing. He was 71. Sauter competed in 82 NASCAR national series races from 1980 to 2004, including 76 premier series starts. The native of Necedah, Wisconsin, made his final NASCAR Nationwide Series start at the Milwaukee Mile in 2002, racing against his sons Jay, Johnny and Tim. Jim Jr. followed in his father's footsteps as well. In addition to these four sons, Sauter is survived by his wife, Debbie, eight additional children, 51 grandchildren, nine great-grandchildren and two sisters. A two-time champion in the ARTGO Racing Series in the Midwest, Sauter tested International Race of Champions cars with fellow Wisconsin racers Dave Marcis and Dick Trickle. His son, Johnny, learned of his father's passing following Friday's Winstar World Casino & Resort 350. His lone win of 2014 came at Michigan International Speedway , and he acknowledged it was a special victory in his post-race comments that recalled his dad's recollections of the track. "I'm just going to relish in this win because this has been a tough, tough race track for me throughout my career," Johnny said. "My Dad always said, 'That place is easy.' But, I never felt that way. Until today, I mean when you have a truck like this -- it was just awesome." NASCAR issued the following statement on Jim Sauter's passing: "NASCAR offers its deepest condolences to the family and friends of Jim Sauter. A true racer, Jim passed on his passion and competitive spirit to his children and grandchildren. A driver himself with roots in the Midwest, his reach and impact extend across the entire sport." The racing community expressed condolences on social media with a sample included below from Sauter's former competitor Mark Martin ; fellow Wisconsin racer Roy Kenseth, father of Matt; crew chief and former IROC chassis specialist Ray Evernham and NASCAR Senior Vice President, Racing Operations Jim Cassidy. Sorry to hear Jim Sauter died. He was a really good man and a great racer. — Mark Martin (@markmartin) November 1, 2014 Thoughts and prayers go out to the Jim Sauter family today. pic.twitter.com/ydHNAQcXQT — Roy Kenseth (@roykenseth) November 1, 2014 Really sorry to hear about passing of Jim Sauter. Worked with him for many years at IROC. Crew chiefed for him at Pocono 1990 #RIP — ray evernham (@RayEvernham) November 1, 2014 Thinking about the Sauter family. Jim Sauter's contribution to stock car racing and NASCAR will be felt for many generations. Good man. — Jim Cassidy (@jfcassidy) November 1, 2014 MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView
Reps for vehicle manufacturers break down Hamlin, Harvick, Logano and Newman RELATED: Follow your picks in the Chase Battle Grid Presented by Toyota HOMESTEAD, Fla. -- One is said to exude quiet confidence. The other's a leader from the cockpit. Another's laser-focused while the fourth is charging. That's how officials from their respective automakers described this year’s four championship contenders Saturday here at Homestead-Miami Speedway . Denny Hamlin , Kevin Harvick , Joey Logano and Ryan Newman each will head into Sunday's Ford EcoBoost 400 seeking a first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship. The four are all that remain of the original 16 in this year’s Chase for the Sprint Cup field, advancing through three rounds to reach one final stop. The highest-finishing driver leaves with the title, meaning a win isn't necessary. But none of the four wants to go out with anything less than a checkered flag. And the championship trophy. Hamlin's been here before, under somewhat different circumstances. In 2010, he led Jimmie Johnson by 15 points heading into Homestead but by most accounts let the pressure of the title get in his way. Johnson won handily, and Hamlin hasn't forgotten. Dave Wilson, president and GM for Toyota Racing Development USA, said that experience should prove valuable to the 34-year-old Hamlin, as well as other recent near misses for the Toyota camp. "Denny thinks a lot, and he's been here before, and I think that really helps him," Wilson said. "We've, as a manufacturer, been the bridesmaid three out of the past four years; Denny has had a second‑place finish, Clint Bowyer has had a second‑place finish, then of course last year Matt Kenseth . But Denny is comfortable. He's confident, quietly confident I would say." Wilson also noted that Hamlin has enjoyed success on the 1.5-mile track, winning twice in the past five years, including last season. "I think it gives him just what he needs to do the job Sunday," he said. Hamlin ( Joe Gibbs Racing ) won once this year, at Talladega Superspeedway in April. His best Chase finish came last week at Phoenix where he was fifth. He has led multiple laps in five of the nine Chase races. Chevrolet, with Harvick and Newman, is the only manufacturer with multiple representatives going for the title. To some, they represent the most likely and the least likely to emerge with the championship. Harvick ( Stewart-Haas Racing ) has four wins this season while Newman ( Richard Childress Racing ) is winless. Raw speed has been the calling card for Harvick's No. 4 team while Newman has relied on consistency and an ability to avoid the disastrous finish. "Ryan just keeps coming; he keeps getting stronger race after race, and that team has just gotten in a great rhythm ... every single race," said Chevrolet's Jim Campbell, U.S. vice president, performance vehicles and motorsports. "Now, they haven't won a race yet, but they are charging." Harvick, he said, is more representative of his boss, fellow driver and three-time Sprint Cup champion, Tony Stewart . "He's focused, he's mentally tough and he's a leader from the cockpit of the car," Campbell said. "When I think about the last time Stewart-Haas won the championship ... in '11, Tony had a lot of those same attributes. "And so we'll see where these two guys net out. The competition is tough. Anything can happen, and we expect there's going to be some curveballs and surprises in how the teams react. Same focus, calm, and the guys leading from the cockpit with the team is going to have the best chance to win." Logano is in his second season with Team Penske after a four full seasons at Joe Gibbs Racing that produced just two wins and no Chase appearances. He's yet to not make the Chase since joining the Penske organization. Two of his five wins this year have come in Chase races. "Joey Logano, when he came into the sport was billed as a phenom, and indeed he is a phenom," Jamie Allison, director of Ford Racing, said. "He's got the talent, and with the team around him, I think he's very poised to succeed. He is driven and the goal is in sight, and we expect him to succeed. "This is a sport of teams. You've got to put that in context. It's Joey, it's Todd (Gordon, crew chief), it's Penske, it's Ford. When you put that ensemble together, this season has been an absolute standout season." While there is much on the line, none of the three automakers has ramped up its assistance to the individual teams. Instead, most have continued to provide the technical and engineering support that's been the framework of the relationship from the beginning. "There are tendencies in the sport during the race that can be gleaned from mining data that could give a crew chief an opportunity to make a decision based on data rather than just simply on gut feel," said Allison. "The field of analytics is wide open. So really when you're coming down to the final race from a hardware (standpoint), it's largely in the hands of the teams. But in terms of enabling decision making on in‑race situation, that's one scenario." With 19 wins among all Chevrolet teams, and a 38th manufacturer's title in the wings, Campbell said he saw no reason to increase input. "Stick to the fundamentals in terms of providing the right parts, the right engineering people and the right engineering tools and then follow through," he said. Wilson agreed. And while Hamlin likely learned a lesson from his 2010 shortcoming, so too did the manufacturer. "I think we collectively overthought the gravity of it and played from a defensive position," Wilson said. "I think what everyone has seen this year is a different feel. Denny is loose. It's business as usual. The performance that we've collectively brought to the table is what has gotten Denny to this position, and we're just going to execute as a team and see what that brings tomorrow afternoon." MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL CHASE COVERAGE • Chase hub page • Chase Grid games • #MyChaseNation
DRIVE4COPD, NASCAR join forces to increase awareness, get fans screened DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- NASCAR announced today on World COPD Day that it is joining the fight to help NASCAR fans with COPD breathe easier. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), a life threatening lung disease, is the fourth leading cause of death globally and affects more than 300 million individuals worldwide. Within the United States, COPD ranks as the third leading cause of death, with more than 24 million Americans affected and approximately half that number remaining undiagnosed. However, a simple, painless breathing test, called spirometry, can determine whether or not a person has COPD. "DRIVE4COPD's goal to create awareness about COPD is critical to NASCAR as many of our fans, like all Americans, may be affected by it," said Jim O'Connell, NASCAR chief sales officer. "Today, on World COPD Day, we want our fans to learn more about this debilitating disease and encourage them to get screened." DRIVE4COPD has been the Official Health Initiative of NASCAR since 2010 and has been responsible for screening nearly three million NASCAR fans. NASCAR and DRIVE4COPD are embarking on activities this month to help generate awareness and encourage fans to get screened, including: • NASCAR Plaza in Charlotte will be lit orange throughout the remainder of the month • SiriusXM will run PSAs encouraging fans to be screened • NASCAR will recognize World COPD Day across its digital platforms • DRIVE4COPD to host sweepstakes with NASCAR-themed prizing "DRIVE4COPD is proud to partner with NASCAR in the fight against COPD," said John W. Walsh, president and co-founder of the COPD Foundation. "We're pleased with the support of NASCAR in our mission to prevent and cure COPD, which affects many Americans and their families." World COPD Day is an annual global event that aims to raise awareness of COPD. World COPD Day 2014 takes place around the theme "It's not too late." This positive message was chosen to emphasize the meaningful actions people can take to improve their respiratory health, at any stage, before or after a COPD diagnosis. DRIVE4COPD is a public health initiative that aims to help people identify symptoms of COPD and take action by utilizing public health screenings offered by the nonprofit group. For more information about the COPD Foundation and DRIVE4COPD, please visit www.drive4copd.org . MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView