DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (October 7, 2015) -- Twenty-two drivers have three days to compete for a spot in the motorsport industry's top driver development program, the NASCAR Drive for Diversity (D4D), set to commence at Langley Speedway in Hampton, Va., Oct. 19-21, 2015. Now in its 12th year, the annual Combine invites promising ethnically diverse and female drivers, ages 14 to 26, from across North America to test their skills over a three-day period in order to identify members of the NASCAR D4D Class of 2016. "Finding and developing diverse athletes who will represent the future of NASCAR is at the core of our organization's mission," said NASCAR Senior Vice President of Racing Operations Jim Cassidy. "Every year, the bar is raised with talented applicants who have the potential and determination to succeed. We're proud to watch our graduates in the national series and develop more diverse talent to join them in the years to come." In partnership with Rev Racing, the Max Siegel-owned race team, D4D offers racing opportunities in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East (NKPSE) and NASCAR Whelen All-American Series (NWAAS) for one full season, providing drivers with equipment, mentoring, and competition experience. "We could not be more excited about this year's NASCAR Drive for Diversity Combine to select the 2016 Class of Rev Racing drivers," said team CEO Max Siegel. "Coming off of our sixth consecutive multiple race winning season, we are focused on continuing to make our program and approach world class, as we prepare these young drivers to advance into the national series." The NASCAR D4D Combine has proven successful in identifying and developing future stars of the sport. Current D4D member Collin Cabre secured Rev Racing's second win of 2015 with a victory at the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East season finale at Dover International Speedway . In addition, NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Kyle Larson and NASCAR XFINITY Series drivers Darrell Wallace Jr . and Daniel Suárez, leaders in the series' Sunoco Rookie of the Year standings, are among the graduates of the program. This year's athletes include 13 women, notably the youngest combine participant ever at 14 years old, Macy Causey. Also participating are four stars from the NASCAR Mexico Series: Abraham Calderón, Enrique Contreras, Rubén García Jr. and Santiago Tovar. Returning to defend their spots in the program are current NASCAR Whelen All-American Series drivers Dylan Smith and Natalie Decker. Driver combine participants will be evaluated on their driving skills and will also be tested on a series of strength and agility exercises at Hampton University. Fans can follow the Combine on Twitter at @NASCARDiversity and @RevRacing. Below are invitees to the 12th annual NASCAR Drive for Diversity Combine: First Name Last Name Age City State/Country Hannah Adair 21 Tulsa Okla. Jairo Avila 20 Alhambra Calif. Kayli Barker 18 Las Vegas Nev. Nicole Behar 17 Otis Orchards Wash. Abraham Calderon 26 Monterrey Mexico Macy Causey 14 Yorktown Va. Enrique Contreras 22 San Antonio Texas Madeline Crane 17 Meansville Ga. Claire Decker 20 Eagle River Wis. Natalie Decker 18 Eagle River Wis. Juan Garcia 17 Bogota Colombia Ruben Garcia Jr. 19 Mexico City Mexico Ali Kern 22 Fremont Ohio Enrique Limon 17 Mexico City Mexico Mariah McGriff 20 Vail Ariz. Becca Monopoli 26 Lakeland Fla. Erika Newcome 20 Pickerington Ohio Hannah Newhouse 18 Twin Falls Idaho Vanessa Robinson 25 Las Cruces N.M. Dylan Smith 23 Concord N.C. Walter Thomas 16 Indianapolis Ind. Santiago Tovar 22 Mexico City Mexico In addition to drivers, NASCAR Drive for Diversity has successfully identified and developed pit crew members to find employment opportunities within the sport. The NASCAR Drive for Diversity Pit Crew Challenge Tour will host its final Combine of the year at the NASCAR Research and Development Center on October 9, 2015 in Concord, North Carolina.
NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France said Thursday that meetings about a potential franchise system for participation in its upper series have already taken place, sparking ongoing talks with its team owners about the direction of stock car racing competition. France made the remarks during an afternoon appearance on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio's "Tradin' Paint" program, telling hosts Jim Noble and Chocolate Myers that improving the current framework was crucial to the overall health of the sport. "Any time we can improve the structure for our team owners, that's a good thing," France told SiriusXM. "If we can improve their business model, we can improve their overall structure, then what's going to happen is new owners will be more inclined to look at wanting to participate in NASCAR; that's a good thing. The other good thing is, the level of competition goes up because the more healthy the team owners are, the better we're going to be. "We're working alongside of all the team owners to see what's possible, and we're going to have to go down the road and keep working at it. That's very important to us." France also discussed the soon-to-be-released schedules for all three NASCAR national series, saying that teams and fans alike should not expect a dramatic overhaul to the 2016 racing calendar. "I can tell you that the schedule is not going to change materially at all," France said. "There are things in the sanction agreements with the tracks that are unrelated to the dates that have to be worked out, and that's really what we're doing now. That's taking a little longer than normal. The schedule will look very similar." With tongue firmly planted in cheek, Myers pressed France for an accelerated release of the 2016 schedules on behalf of Dale Earnhardt Jr ., who has expressed his wishes for a prompt announcement so that he might better plan his wedding to Amy Reimann. "I understand," said France, biting on the joke. "That does take precedence, so we'll make sure to put those dates right in front of him so he knows when they are." France also took time to assess the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup after the Challenger Round, the opening three-round series of the postseason. In doing so, France lauded last weekend's clutch victory by Kevin Harvick at Dover International Speedway that kept his repeat title hopes intact. "What you really are seeing is, this is the era of big moments and big performances," France said. "Being consistent and steady, that's important but that's getting pushed to the wayside. It's whoever can step up their performance."
NASCAR.com analysts Chris Rice and Marty Snider talk about Kevin Harvick dominating in Dover to punch his ticket into the Contender Round and explain what it's going to take to win at Charlotte Motor Speedway this weekend.
Relive the 2007 Bank of America 500 where Jeff Gordon held off Clint Bowyer to earn his fifth victory at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
JOLIET, Ill. -- NASCAR officials are expected to meet with auto manufacturers, owners and drivers and others within the industry next weekend at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in an effort to finalize the 2016 rules package. As the sanctioning body kicks off its Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Sunday at Chicagoland Speedway , the aerodynamic package for '16 and next year's schedule remain undisclosed. Representatives of each of the automakers -- Chevrolet, Ford and Toyota -- competing in NASCAR's premier series stopped short of voicing an opinion in favor of where NASCAR will land with the '16 rules when meeting with the media before Sunday's race. "I think (the low downforce package) has a lot of potential," Jim Campbell, Chevrolet's U.S. vice president, performance vehicles and motorsports, said. "But it depends on the track. That's the key, depending on the track configuration I think is where's we're going to directionally head up to get a match on the aero packages without creating some infinite number of packages. "That one, the drivers seem to like it, the fans seem to like it. I think that one has a bright future for sure." Teams began the season with a new rules package that featured less downforce (brought about in part by aerodynamic changes) and less horsepower. It was to be utilized at all tracks except Daytona International Speedway and Talladega Superspeedway . A move to take additional downforce away resulted in a second package used only at Kentucky and Darlington as officials attempted to get a handle on what the '16 package might look like. "We all want the same thing. We want better racing and we want to be as competitive as possible," Dave Pericak, director of Ford Performance, said. "I applaud NASCAR for taking the steps they are taking to figure out how to make it a better race. "At the end of the day ... they've been very inclusive of the OEMs and of the teams. All the right things are happening to end up in the right place for 2016." Stu Grant, general manager of Global Race Tires for Goodyear, said he is hopeful that "by the end of that (New Hampshire) meeting we've landed at a place that we know what the rules package is going to be because by the end of October we're going to be starting to make tires for Daytona in 2016. We're getting into our manufacturing for 2016 pretty darn quick. "So my expectation is we will have dialogue ... to make sure that everybody is all together on the same page and then move forward with the '16 rules package." -- No confirmation about manufacturer movement came out of Sunday's gathering, although it is expected that Furniture Row Racing , with driver Martin Truex Jr ., will switch from Chevrolet to Toyota for next season. "Stay tuned," Ed Laukes, vice president of marketing, performance and guest experience for Toyota Motor Sales USA, said when asked about potential lineup changes. "We're not in a position to comment on the 2016 season," Pericak said of Ford. "We're focused on this season right now."
RELATED: Complete Sunday schedule " Chicagoland starting lineup Race day info What: 15th annual myAFibRisk.com 400 . Where: Chicagoland Speedway , 1.5-mile oval in Joliet, Illinois. " Learn more about the track Green flag time: 3:16 p.m. ET (NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). Forecast: Sunny, high of 71 degrees, 0 percent chance of rain, according to the National Weather Service. National anthem: By tenor Jim Cornelison ( @Anthem_Singer ), longtime singer of "The Star-Spangled Banner" for the NHL's Chicago Blackhawks. Grand marshals: Billie Jean King, 39-time Grand Slam champion in women's tennis; Jerry West, 14-time NBA All-Star. Distance: 267 laps, 400.5 miles. Pit road speed: 45 mph. Caution car speed: 55 mph. Fuel window: 54 laps. On the front row (no qualifying speed; starting lineup determined by NASCAR Rule Book, based on speeds in first practice) 1. Kevin Harvick , Stewart-Haas Racing No. 4 Chevrolet. 2. Joey Logano , Team Penske No. 22 Ford. RELATED: See the full lineup Fastest in practice First practice: Kevin Harvick , Stewart-Haas Racing No. 4 Chevrolet (188.317 mph). " Results Second practice: Martin Truex Jr ., Furniture Row Racing No. 78 Chevrolet (183.312 mph). " Results Final practice: Martin Truex Jr ., Furniture Row Racing No. 78 Chevrolet (184.849 mph). " Results Key story lines 1. Jeff Gordon opens postseason with longevity record in sight 2. What teams, drivers learned from Chase's new format in Year 1 3. NASCAR officials add camera, official dedicated to restart enforcement 4. Finding balance, Logano looking 'at the big picture in life' Former winners in the field Tony Stewart (3); Kevin Harvick , Brad Keselowski (2); Kyle Busch , Dale Earnhardt Jr ., Jeff Gordon , Matt Kenseth , Ryan Newman (1). They said it "The best I know how to deal with things is to speak with your performance and with your car. I am not the wittiest guy out there so I decided to just drive the car and shut up. You just block it out and you drive your car." -- Joey Logano , on defending series champion Kevin Harvick 's pre-Chase gamesmanship.
Chevrolet Vice President of Performance Vehicles and Motorsports, Jim Campbell, talks about the effects that the changing rules packages of the 2015 NASCAR season have had on manufacturers.
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
NASCAR team owner Chip Ganassi had surgery Sunday to repair a broken clavicle – the injury sustained while Ganassi was cycling in his hometown of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on Saturday. The team said the surgery was successful and Ganassi is expected to be in Richmond, Virginia, this weekend for the final race to set the 16-driver Chase for the Sprint Cup playoff field at Richmond International Raceway . Ganassi sent out the following message on social media: "Ok ok. I fell off my bicycle Saturday. Thank you Dr Jim Bradley for putting me back together!" Ganassi driver Jamie McMurray is currently the top-ranked driver without a win and sits 12th in the Chase Grid. Should he qualify for the Chase and he just needs to start the event at Richmond to do that, he would be the first Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates post-season entry since Juan Pablo Montoya made the Chase in 2009. The team's other driver, Kyle Larson , is ranked 19th but could earn an automatic Chase berth with a win in Saturday night's Federated Auto Parts 400 (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM)
Presenting NASCAR content from around the web Editor's note: On Wednesday at noon ET, "High 5" will present some of the best NASCAR-related content from around the web. 1. Ronda Rousey: Fast as...? Undefeated MMA fighter Ronda Rousey made headlines on Saturday when she won the highly anticipated UFC 190 by knocking her opponent Bethe Correia to the ground in a swift 34 seconds. Whoa -- that's fast. But it's not unusual for Rousey, whose last four fights have spanned 130 seconds total, according to ESPN . NASCAR drivers may know a little something about a need for speed. ESPN even called out Sunday's race winner Matt Kenseth in the piece, saying the driver propelled his No. 20 machine around Bristol Motor Speedway at 14.917 seconds to win the pole in April. Kenseth would have to round "The World's Fastest Half Mile" 8.7 times to equal Rousey's 130 seconds. But hey, Matt -- Rousey didn't have an incredible race car propelling her to victory. She got that checkered with her own two feet -- and fists. Props, girl. 2. Look out for the giant...minion? Attention: Minions are indeed taking over the world. Just last month, a few were spotted hanging out with Carl Edwards at Kentucky Speedway. RELATED: The Minions' NASCAR adventure at Kentucky And now, a giant minion was causing all kinds of chaos across the pond in Dublin, Ireland, on Sunday. A giant inflatable Minion flew loose and caused traffic havoc in Santry this afternoon: http://t.co/IjQ5TDdJpC pic.twitter.com/MQbp2xH6zl — TheJournal.ie (@thejournal_ie) August 3, 2015 Good thing the minions at Kentucky weren't that big. Because traffic jams at race tracks aren't ideal, especially ones caused by giant, inflatable objects. Nothing beats this balloon caution, tho pic.twitter.com/joCMzpyGr3 — Jim Utter (@jim_utter) July 26, 2015 Click here to read Mashable's account of the amusing incident. RELATED: Balloon caution? We remember the Tropicana orange 3. All-star status Ever wanted to create your own NASCAR series team, from driver to pit crew to engine builder? Congratulations -- Sports Illustrated's Beyond the Flag has given you that power with its new piece entitled, "Creating the Ultimate NASCAR All-Star team." After making your own selections, the quiz shows viewers which are the most popular picks. The top driver and crew chief -- Jeff Gordon and No. 48 crew chief Chad Knaus -- would certainly make an interesting pair, as Knaus said during January's Charlotte Media Tour that he wanted to be Gordon's crew chief. RELATED: Knaus: I wanted to be Gordon's crew chief Agree? Disagree? Make your own selections here. 4. Got ya! Everyone loves a good prank -- including soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo. The Real Madrid player donned a wig, fake beard and mustache and kicked around a soccer ball in the middle of Madrid. He reveals himself at the end of the video when he signs the soccer ball and gives it to the child. People are going to think that I’m crazy!#LIVELIFELOUDClick here to check out my new brand at ebay.com/roc Posted by Cristiano Ronaldo on Monday, August 3, 2015 All this disguising and pranking reminds us of one of the greatest NASCAR pranksters. Yup, we're looking at you, Tony Stewart . 5. RIP Kermit-Miss Piggy It's a sad, sad day in the world of Muppets. After 40 years, Kermit and Miss Piggy are calling it quits. Kermit and Miss Piggy break up after 40 years of Muppet love http://t.co/ya6MQKId4U pic.twitter.com/kUbiYTddnE — TODAY (@TODAYshow) August 4, 2015 Such true love that ended so arruptly. It breaks our hearts. Guess we better keep the two apart if any of the Muppets decide to participate in raceday activities again. With cars going 200 mph, the race track is probably not the best place for a quarrel. RELATED: Muppet uttered the most famous words in racing