How Matt Kenseth helped John Krasinski land role of 'Jim' on 'The Office'
It's nearly impossible to think an actor besides John Krasinski playing the role of 'Jim Halpert' on the American version of "The Office," but it may not have happened without the help of Matt Kenseth . Did that just blow your mind? It should have. Back in 2002 -- a full three years before the NBC premiere of inarguably the greatest comedy series of all time, in my opinion, at least -- a fresh-faced Krasinski appeared in a commercial with Kenseth that caught the eye of future "Office" executive producer, Greg Daniels. The back-and-forth dialogue between last fall's grand marshal at Texas Motor Speedway and Kenseth (more back than forth, knowing the stoic Joe Gibbs Racing driver) and wild antics by the now-36-year-old led to an audition and before long, " Jim " was born. Krasinski recently spoke about it on NPR's Fresh Air podcast with Dave Davies . "I haven't seen or heard that since the time I did it. That is a real send back to memory lane," Krasinski said. " … That was a huge performance and I remember we had a little bit of script and Matt Kenseth had said he doesn't want to have a line in the script. He was very shy and he didn't want ... he just wanted to walk through the commercial. "At the end of the day, they just asked 'Would you just improv and have fun? Let's see what we get' and we just kept going and I think they just watched the dog go off the leash, just improving all this stuff. By the end, Matt said 'Well, now I do want to say some stuff.' So he came in and we were joking around all day. It was probably one of the more fun times I've had, certainly before I got 'The Office . ' " The commercial worked wonders for both men, as Krasinski is now a household name and Kenseth won five races that year, following it up with his only premier series title the following season. Watch the full commercial below.
Jim Giaccone honors brother, other 9/11 victims by aiding others
RELATED: All the Betty Jane France Humanitarian Award finalists The tragedy of Sept. 11, 2001 took so much from Jim Giaccone. But it led him to this: honoring the memory of the brother he lost by helping others affected by that dark day. Giaccone's older brother, Joseph, died in the attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City. Joseph was among the 658 employees of the Cantor Fitzgerald financial services firm who were killed. Devastated by grief, Giaccone somehow found the drive to carry on and honor his brother by giving back to others -- especially children -- who likewise were carrying on in the aftermath of 9/11. During his personal aftermath, Giaccone found his future in the form of Tuesday's Children, an organization dedicated to providing long-term support to those directly impacted by the events of 9/11 and other communities impacted by terrorism and traumatic loss. Giaccone's involvement in Tuesday's Children is multi-faceted, as a fundraiser, through service on the organization's Mentoring Advisory Board and Family Advisory Board and through what is arguably his most significant contribution: serving as a mentor. His works have not gone unnoticed. Giaccone, from Bayville, New York, is one of four finalists for The NASCAR Foundation's 2016 Betty Jane France Humanitarian Award Presented by Nationwide. The award will be presented by France -- The NASCAR Foundation's Chairwoman Emeritus and founder -- on Sept. 27 during the inaugural Honors Gala at the Marriott Marquis in New York City. The foundation will donate $100,000 to the charity represented by the award winner and $25,000 to each of the other three finalists' charities. The award winner will be determined via an online vote now underway and running through Sept. 26 at 5 p.m. (ET) at NASCAR.com/Award . Giaccone, 55, mentors teenage brothers Nicholas and Matthew Reda, who lost their father on 9/11. Suffice to say this is a reciprocal relationship. Giaccone and the boys find healing and comfort in one another. But their time spent together involves more than words. The healing is helped by sharing real-life tasks involving practical skills, such as building rockets and fishing, both activities the boys enjoyed with their father. Said Giaccone: "I am not a man of great wealth where I can personally make a difference financially. My most valuable asset is my time. "It's a delicate balance when I try to explain what I get out of this. But obviously, anything that I've gained over the last 15 years I would trade in a second for my brother's life. But … that's not reality. Through the programs that Tuesday's Children is running and seeing the works that they do … it's almost become a therapy for me, to be honest. When I leave Nicholas and Matthew, it's almost as if I have a 'runner's high.' I feel calmer. If those boys get half of what I get out of this, it's a win-win." More than 10 years and hundreds of hours of service to Tuesday's Children have given Giaccone many rewarding experiences. He wants more, because there is so much more work to do. He has expanded his volunteer efforts to include helping others both domestically and abroad, truly living his life to reflect the organization's motto to "Let Our Past Change the Future." Giaccone is a longtime NASCAR fan, dating to his childhood when enjoying racing was a family tradition. One of his most cherished memories of NASCAR -- and of his life, overall -- is from August 2001 when he and his brother went to Nazareth (Pennsylvania) Speedway to take part in a fan driving experience. "I had gone to Las Vegas and done the Richard Petty Driving Experience twice, so I organized the trip (to Nazareth)." Giaccone said. "It was pretty special ..." As is being a Betty Jane France Humanitarian Award finalist, and representing Tuesday's Children -- in New York City on Sept. 27. "It's very humbling to be considered," Giaccone said. To learn more about this year’s finalists for The NASCAR Foundation’s Betty Jane France Humanitarian Award presented by Nationwide, and to cast your vote today, go to www.NASCAR.com/Award . Voting is open now until September 26 at 5 p.m. ET.
ThorSport draws strength to keep trucking after devastating fire
RELATED: Exclusive look at the ThorSport shop in Ohio SANDUSKY, Ohio -- No matter what happens from here on out, win or lose, championship or bust, ThorSport Racing officials likely will look back on the 2016 season as something of a rebirth. It's been a year in which the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series organization has literally risen from the ashes. Cut short just seven races into the season by a raging fire that damaged much of the team's race shop, the company marched on, spent weeks working piecemeal out of everything from the parking lot of a former grocery store to a section of bays inside a custom trailer manufacturing facility. Each off-site venue was within roughly a five-mile radius of the team's 100,000-square-foot home base. Each was also an example of a small, tight-knit community reaching out to help in any way possible. ThorSport, owned by Duke and Rhonda Thorson, has fielded entries in the Camping World Truck Series since 1996, the second year of the series' existence. Today, four teams run out of the large cream-colored building -- the No. 88 Toyota Tundra of two-time series champion Matt Crafton , the No. 13 of Cameron Hayley , the No. 41 of Ben Rhodes and the No. 98 of Rico Abreu. Rhodes and Abreu are Sunoco Rookie of the Year candidates. But for six weeks, the four teams and approximately 85 employees worked "old school," minus many of the technological necessities prevalent throughout all three of NASCAR's national series. They did so while traveling to and competing at Iowa and St. Louis, Kentucky and Eldora. Walk into the shop today and you might not realize the place had been filled with smoke "so thick you couldn't see your hand in front of your face," one first responder recalled on Thursday, or that water was "up to our knees in most places, and running out of the hauler bays in back like a river," said another. But the smell tells another story. "There were times," said Jim Johnson, captain of the Perkins Township Fire Department, "I thought we were going to lose the entire building." Johnson was the first to arrive on the scene, just after midnight on Monday, June 13. Assuming it was nothing more than a small brush fire out back of the team's headquarters, he said he quickly realized the severity of the situation and alerted departments from nearby townships as well as Sandusky. Three other localities and 47 firefighters quickly responded. The fire, which began outside behind the main building, had spread up the rear wall and then began moving beneath the rubber-sealed roof. The rear portion, which housed a fabrication area and machine shop, had to be knocked down in order for firemen to get to the blaze. Johnson said it took approximately 500,000 gallons of water to finally extinguish the fire. Most equipment was quickly removed from the shop -- a large grassy area outside was soon filled with race trucks, pit boxes and assorted tools. There were no injuries and, surprisingly, no race vehicles were damaged to the extent that they had to be discarded. While ThorSport teams regrouped and continued to focus on racing, workers began the process of renovating the shop. Walls, blackened by smoke and damaged by water, were torn down to the studs and rebuilt. New wiring was installed. Eventually, equipment was brought back in. And what little remained of the destroyed rear portion, about 25,000 square feet of shop space, was hauled away. The organization was slowed, perhaps, but not stopped. "We can't use (the fire) as an excuse to under-achieve," ThorSport General Manager David Pepper said. Today, trucks in various states of assembly sit on the pristine shop floor. Work has resumed in a building, a former slaughterhouse that was first put into use by the group in 2011. "Duke and Rhonda have given us our biggest, best resource you could possibly ask for to win races, and we've proven we can do that from here," Carl "Junior" Joiner, crew chief for Crafton, said. "Not having it, you were lost. "At this level, you need resources like this to win and we didn't have that for a long time." The smell, less strong now, still lingers inside the shop. Inside some of the trucks, too. "We still have to put air fresheners in some of them because of the stench," he said. It is not only a reminder of what happened, but how far the organization has come in such a short period of time. "When something bad happens, my father always told me, 'Well kid, it builds character.' And I know that we're going to be stronger from it," Joiner said. "I know we will." &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;
Seriously? Golfer, noted actor Jim Furyk sets record
Jim , are you serious? Professional golfer Jim Furyk set a Professional Golf Association Tour record Sunday by shooting 58 (12-under par) in the final round of the Travelers Championship. NASCAR fans may best remember Furyk from the 5-hour Energy campaign with Clint Bowyer years ago. Great job to Jim on his performance. Seriously.
College athletes join NASCAR Drive for Diversity Pit Crew Program
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Aug. 17, 2016) – NASCAR and Rev Racing today announced nine former college student-athletes selected to participate in the NASCAR Drive for Diversity (D4D) Crew Member Development Program. The new class of participants received invitations to train with Rev Racing following standout performances at the first national D4D pit crew combine in May. Multicultural athletes starring in football, basketball and softball at the college level will receive expert training as tire changers, carriers and jackmen, with the goal of gaining fulltime employment with NASCAR national series race teams. "We've assembled a very talented group of athletes who we believe has what it takes to excel on pit road in NASCAR," said Jim Cassidy, senior vice president of racing operations. "Each D4D participant will benefit from Rev Racing's best-in-class training program, and we look forward to watching them grow and develop over the next 12 months." This year NASCAR and Rev Racing revamped the crew member scouting process, hosting tryouts at six universities across the country. Eighteen men and women from 12 states and one U.S. territory were selected to compete in the national combine in Concord, N.C. Half earned invitations to join the D4D pit crew program. "We are very excited for the arrival of the new 2016 Drive for Diversity pit crew recruits," said Max Siegel, owner and CEO of Rev Racing. "With the national combine and recruitment effort this past year, we were able to select the top level of athletic talent. We look forward to training these individuals and placing them along pit road in the national series. Our academy-style approach to training continues to show success year after year; this class will not fall short." Among the new D4D participants are three former football players from the University of Kansas, one of the schools to host tryouts. Appalachian State's Jeremy Kimbrough, who spent time with the Washington Redskins, and Joshua Tate, an All-American at Clark Atlanta University, are also looking to transition from the gridiron to NASCAR. A pair of female athletes in former Norfolk State, basketball player Brehanna Daniels and former Alcorn State University softball player Breanna O'Leary, will train as tire changers under the tutelage of Phil Horton, Rev Racing's director of human performance. There are 35 graduates of the D4D Crew Member Development Program currently working in NASCAR. Three alums – Raphael Diaz, Kevin Richardson and Richie Williams – celebrated in Victory Lane as members of Chris Buescher 's pit crew after the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver won his first premier series race at Pocono Raceway on Aug. 1. Last November, Diaz and Roush Fenway Racing teammate Mike Russell became the first D4D graduates to win a national series championship when Buescher clinched the 2015 NASCAR XFINITY Series championship. The new members of the D4D Crew Member Development Program include: First Last Hometown University Primary Sport Brehanna Daniels Norfolk, Va. Norfolk State University Basketball Kapil Fletcher Fort Lauderdale, Fla. University of Kansas Football Tedarian Johnson Jackson, Miss. University of Kansas Football Jeremy Kimbrough Decatur, Ga. Appalachian State University Football Corey King Boca Raton, Fla. University of Kansas Football Lamar Neal Virginia Beach, Va. Norfolk State University Football Breanna O'Leary Amarillo, Texas Alcorn State University Softball Jorden Paige Buffalo, N.Y. Clark Atlanta University Football Joshua Tate Memphis, Tenn. Clark Atlanta University Football The NASCAR Drive for Diversity program, under the leadership of Rev Racing , supports both crew member and driver development opportunities. Driver graduates include NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Kyle Larson , and NASCAR XFINITY Series drivers Daniel Suarez and Darrell Wallace Jr . For more information on NASCAR Drive for Diversity, visit www.NASCARDiversity.com .
Former NASCAR driver Jim Sauter dies at 71
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
Betty Jane France Humanitarian Award finalists named
DAYTONA BEACH, FLA. -- Finalists for The NASCAR Foundation’s Betty Jane France Humanitarian Award Presented by Nationwide were announced on Wednesday night on NASCAR America on NBC Sports Network. The award will be showcased on Sept. 27 at the Foundation's inaugural Honors Gala at the Marriott Marquis in New York City. The award honors volunteers – who are also NASCAR fans – who dedicate themselves to children's causes in their communities throughout the United States. The award winner will be determined via an on-line vote now underway and running through Sept. 26 at 5 p.m. (ET) at www.NASCAR.com/Award . This year's award presentation will be part of the "10 Years of Giving" celebration for The NASCAR Foundation, which has donated $25 million to more than one million children since its inception in 2006. Betty Jane France, founder and chairwoman emeritus of The NASCAR Foundation, will present the award. The NASCAR Foundation will donate a total of $175,000 to the charities represented by the finalists – with the winner's charity receiving a $100,000 donation. This year's finalists include Jim Giaccone of Bayville, New York, representing Tuesday's Children; Andy Hoffman of Atkinson, Nebraska, founder of the Team Jack Foundation; Logan Houptley of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, a founding member of Mikayla's Voice; and Parker White of Greensboro, North Carolina, founder of BackPack Beginnings. "The body of work by this year's four finalists reflects an impressive level of commitment to improving the lives of children," France said. "Their accomplishments likewise reflect The NASCAR Foundation's fundamental ideals and what the Foundation strives to achieve on a daily basis. All four finalists are wonderful representatives of our award process and of the NASCAR community." Following is additional information about the 2016 finalists: Jim Giaccone, Tuesday's Children: Giaccone lost his older brother, Joseph, in the attacks on the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001. Giaccone determined quickly that the best way to honor his brother was by assisting others -- especially children -- who also were affected by the tragedy. That led to Giaccone's involvement with Tuesday's Children, an organization founded in 2001 and dedicated to providing long-term support to those directly impacted by the events of 9/11 and other communities impacted by terrorism and traumatic loss. Jim is involved with many aspects of Tuesday’s Children including raising funds, serving on the Mentoring Advisory Board, serving on the Family Advisory Board and his most significant contribution: serving as a mentor. Andy Hoffman, Team Jack Foundation: In 2011, Hoffman's world was turned upside down when his son, Jack, was diagnosed with a brain tumor. Hoffman soon learned that procedures to treat pediatric brain cancer -- surgery and chemotherapy -- were more than 30 years old. He also learned that less than four percent of federal funding is dedicated to childhood cancer research each year. One year after the diagnosis, Hoffman made T-shirts as a fundraiser for children's brain cancer research; through his efforts he was able to sell 20,000 shirts and raise more than $300,000. Inspired by that success, Hoffman and his wife formed Team Jack Foundation in January 2013. The foundation raises money to fund pediatric brain cancer research and works to create national awareness for the disease. Logan Houptley, Mikayla's Voice: Houptley met a young lady named Mikayla Resh in his third-grade classroom after moving to a new school district in Nazareth, Pennsylvania. Mikayla had profound multiple disabilities that included brain damage, cerebral palsy, seizure disorder, along with facing the challenges of being blind and deaf. At only 10 years old, Houptley was incredibly understanding and accepting, treating Mikayla with love, kindness, and inclusion. Ten years after they met, Houptley has continued his friendship with Mikayla, in the process helping create Mikayla's Voice. Founded in 2010, the organization is dedicated to inspiring children and young adults to embrace individuals of all abilities. The organization promotes cultural change by teaching communities about the importance of inclusion and acceptance. Parker White, BackPack Beginnings: White founded BackPack Beginnings in 2010, driven by a compassion for families struggling to provide for their children on a daily basis. With two young children of her own, Parker understood a mother's desire to see her child be happy and successful. But she also knew that not every family has the means to put enough food on the table or provide basic necessities for their children. That led White to establish BackPack Beginnings, which strives to provide children in the Greensboro and High Point, North Carolina areas with nutritious food, clothing, and other basic necessities. BackPack Beginnings works with local schools to open food and clothing pantries, donate backpacks filled with blankets and school supplies, and provide comfort and hygiene items to children in need. To learn more about The NASCAR Foundation's Betty Jane France Humanitarian Award presented by Nationwide and each of the national finalists, please visit: www.NASCAR.com/Award .
NASCAR, Chevrolet launch diversity scholarship contest
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (July 23, 2016) — NASCAR and Chevrolet today announced the launch of the second annual NASCAR Chevrolet Diversity Scholarship Contest during a press conference at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Through this initiative, NASCAR and Chevrolet continue their longstanding commitment to Science, Technology, Engineering & Math (STEM) education and promoting opportunities for college students pursuing technology related careers. The contest challenges students to identify a technology or innovation within NASCAR and explain how STEM professionals came to its design in 90-second videos submitted on www.chevy.nascardiversity.com . Four winners will receive a total of $20,000 in scholarships and a VIP experience at Texas Motor Speedway during the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup race on November 6, 2016. In what has quickly become an important component of NASCAR's diversity and inclusion platform, the scholarship program helps both organizations attract young, diverse talent to the world of motorsports. "STEM professionals are invaluable to our sport," said Jim Cassidy, NASCAR senior vice president of racing operations. "We're proud to partner again with Chevrolet in supporting talented students who we hope one day will play an important role in our industry." Video submissions will be judged on technical accuracy, creativity and production quality. Examples of science and technology in NASCAR include, but are not limited to: track banking and construction, race car design, SAFER barrier walls, drafting, gas mileage, tire wear, ethanol fuel, pit road officiating and solar energy. Ken Barrett, chief diversity officer for General Motors, announced the scholarship contest today at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. "At General Motors, diversity is our strength and we seek unique perspectives to infuse new ideas into all we do - keeping us on the cutting edge of technological innovation," said Barrett. "Attracting and employing the best and brightest STEM talent from around the world places GM and Chevy in the position to win in the marketplace and the race track." Winners will be awarded a scholarship and an exclusive, behind-the-scenes race experience in Texas, including a tour of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series garage, pace car rides and meet-and-greets with Team Chevy drivers and Chevrolet NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Program Manager, Alba Colon. "We're thrilled to once again offer this scholarship opportunity for talented students," said Colon. "NASCAR is such an innovative sport and this is a great way to get students excited about science and technology." To be eligible for the contest, students must be currently enrolled, at least part-time, in an accredited college or university within the United States, be between the ages of 18 and 25 at the time of entry and submit a YouTube link through the scholarship website. The deadline to enter is October 15, 2016. For more information on the NASCAR Chevrolet Diversity Scholarship Contest, please visit www.chevy.nascardiversity.com .
Logano celebrates Team Penske's first NXS win of 2016
Joey Logano celebrates in Victory Lane after grabbing Team Penske's first NASCAR XFINITY Series win of the year in the Zippo 200 at Watkins Glen International.
Truex Jr. rewrites history, breaks records with Coca-Cola 600 win
RELATED: Truex Jr.'s history when leading 100 or more laps Martin Truex Jr .'s dominating Coca-Cola 600 win on Sunday night at Charlotte Motor Speedway was an important victory for the No. 78 team. It marked Truex's first 2016 win and virtually punched his ticket to the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup . It was also record-breaking -- in more than one category. Below are the feats accomplished by Truex & Co. on Sunday night in North Carolina. • Truex's 588 (of 600) miles led was the most ever in a NASCAR race. • His 392 laps led were the most in a Coca-Cola 600 . Jim Paschal held the previous record with 335 laps in the front of the field during the 1967 World 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway . • The No. 78 driver's dominant win earned him a perfect driver rating of 150.0, a first for any Sprint Cup Series driver at Charlotte. • The race spanned 3 hours, 44 minutes and 5 seconds, marking the quickest Coca-Cola 600 event ever. • Drivers in Sunday's race averaged a speed of 160.655 mph, the fastest average speed for a Coca-Cola 600 event in race history.