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.
NASCAR expands concussion protocol
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Feb. 17, 2017) – NASCAR today announced updates to its concussion protocol for competitors, adding a consistent screening tool for all venues and increasing available neurological support for race event weekends through its new partnership with AMR. "NASCAR has worked very closely with the industry to ensure our concussion protocol reflects emerging best practices in this rapidly developing area of sports medicine," said Jim Cassidy, NASCAR senior vice president of racing operations. "We will continue to utilize relationships we’ve had for years with leaders in the neurological research field who helped to shape these updates." NASCAR's protocol now includes: • As part of the new rule regarding damaged vehicles, a driver whose car sustains damage from an accident or contact of any kind and goes behind the pit wall or to the garage is required to visit the Infield Care Center to be evaluated. • The medical portion of NASCAR's Event Standards now require that Infield Care Center physicians incorporate the SCAT-3 diagnostic tool in screening for head injuries. • AMR will provide on-site neurological consultative support at select NASCAR events during the 2017 season and will work directly with NASCAR in the continued development of concussion protocol. The new protocol goes into effect immediately for all NASCAR national series.
Kyle Busch, Bowman react to final-lap contact
Kyle Busch and Alex Bowman discuss their final-lap contact after The Advance Auto Parts Clash.
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.
Daytona rises even higher from beach sand
Editor's Note: This story was published on February 12, 2016 as Daytona completed work on the Daytona Rising project ahead of the 2016 season. NASCAR.com's Holly Cain has the story of the track's evolution to the first motorsports stadium of its kind. RELATED: Daytona through the years " Full Speedweeks schedule DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Lesa France Kennedy and her uncle Jim France clutched a giant pair of scissors and officially cut the ribbon inside the new-look, re-imagined Daytona International Speedway last month, flashing wide smiles and knowing eyes. When these same International Speedway Corporation executives first broke ground on the $400 million Daytona Rising project more than two years ago, Kennedy promised, "We are truly creating history with this unprecedented endeavor." So even as she and France took their positions and prepared for the ceremonial dedication, the pair couldn't contain their excitement -- it was palpable as they continually stole glimpses across the vast new open-air concourse, out to the track below and even toward the famous beach in the distance where Jim's father and Lesa's grandfather Bill France Sr.'s stock car racing idea first flourished 60 years ago. It was ironic that the actual ribbon cutting on the facility occurred on a rare breezy, rainy, chilly day in Daytona Beach, because the people who attended were joyful and oblivious to the weather. Huge crowds line the dunes to watch Daytona racing in 1949 There was history to make. The Daytona Rising project has been touted as a "re-imagining," and its finished look is nothing short of transformative. Even the new nomenclature of the speedway sounds impressive -- from its "injectors" outside to its "neighborhoods" inside. Previous modifications to the track have been for the thrill of competition and the safety of the racers. This massive investment is foremost for the comfort and pleasure of the loyal fans, and it will be evident this week as people begin arriving for NASCAR's season-opening events at Daytona Speedweeks, which culminate with the Feb. 21 Daytona 500 . Evolution from race track to racing's first sporting stadium is not unlike moving the course from its origins at the beach to a sprawling remarkable speedway. It is the third version of high-end Daytona stock car racing. "I don't know of another speedway in the world that's this nice and this beautiful," racing legend A.J. Foyt declared at the track's Rolex 24 debut the last week of January. And that's high praise for a structure that is simultaneously imposing and inspiring from a racer known and appreciated for his grit and honesty. The Chevrolet Injector at Daytona International Speedway NASCAR team owner Chip Ganassi was in complete agreement with Foyt. "When you first hear they spent $400 million, and you go see the work that's been done, stand on pit lane and look at the grandstand, it looks like $800 million," Ganassi said. "It's really, really something really first class and I think it's going to take our sport to a new level for what fans expect. "This is going to be the Ritz-Carlton of race tracks, there are so many amenities. I couldn't be happier for our fans and what it's going to do for our sport." WATCH: Daytona rises in time lapse video The smiles, the wide-eyes, the enthusiasm that has been brimming under the surface has been notable since this project began more than two years ago. Everyone from the car manufacturers to longtime racing sponsors have gladly joined in the effort. Chevrolet, one of the original and primary corporate sponsors of the new-look speedway, has been eager to support modernization of the facility, recognizing the benefits of balancing modern updates with historic importance. "Chevrolet's commitment to racing originated more than a century ago with Louis Chevrolet and remains strong today as we solidify our presence at the 'World Center of Racing,' " President of General Motors North America Alan Batey said when announcing the company's partnership with Daytona. And for all the attention paid to historic detail, fans will also undoubtedly notice the refined façade outside and appreciate the refinements inside, from larger, more comfortable seating to high-tech huge screens and WiFi availability to the most escalators (40) and newly refurbished restrooms (1,891) of any sports stadium in the country. Artwork in the Sunoco Injector at Daytona International Speedway WATCH: Joie Chitwood III excited to unveil speedway additions Toyota joins Chevrolet as an "injector" sponsor and was actually the first to formally announce its partnership with the new Daytona project more than two years ago. The two manufacturers' efforts at creating welcoming, interesting and exciting interactive elements at the track offer a glimpse of how a far-reaching a corporate plan can be. Creativity is the theme throughout the facility with each of the corporate-sponsored injector entrances from Toyota to Chervolet and from Sunoco to Florida Hospital providing an extensive and interactive "experience" for fans. "Philosophically, I think it demonstrates our commitment to motorsports in general and NASCAR in particular, and like anyone else, we're always looking for a way to engage the fans in a meaningful way," said Toyota's Keith Dahl, general manager for motorsports and asset management for Toyota Motor Sales USA. The Toyota Injector at Daytona International Speedway The bigger-than-life Toyota logo that greets Daytona fans at its injector entrance is the largest commercial logo in the United States, according to Dahl. And the company's historic relationship with NASCAR is immediately evident feet away with five full-size Toyota race car replicas representing the Sprint Cup Series' Camrys fielded by Joe Gibbs Racing , and this year's new addition, Furniture Row Racing . Take the escalator up 35 feet to the main concourse and fans are greeted by the reigning Sprint Cup Series championship No. 18 Toyota similar to the one driven by champion Kyle Busch -- a replica so precise it's adorned with both celebratory confetti and bumper-rubbing scrapes. A Sprint Cup trophy sits encased alongside. The massive concourse called a "neighborhood" is 100,000 square feet and there is a common and connecting theme along the Toyota area -- photos and stories of the company's workers -- from car sales associates to manufacturing plant workers to race shop mechanics. A massive "touchscreen wall" made of eight big screens features humble stories and real-life profiles from the company's employees. The headline "From American Factories to American Roads" greets fans and reminds them of the company's commitment to the ultimate of American sports, stock car racing. And vice versa. "Obviously, as time went by more and more effort got put into this," Dahl said. "We literally would have meetings and throw some ideas out there. I know it's cliché to say it's a 'blank canvas,' but it really is. There are a lot of ideas we wanted to try. "This was a chance to try some things. And what you see today, I would hope is not what you would see in perpetuity. We want to keep things vibrant and relative. We'll have different things going on." For example, the refreshment area in each injector is similar but uniquely decorated. In Toyota's version, there are seats refurbished and retained from the speedway's former grandstands. Toyota Tundra truck tailgates were made into benches for many of the tables. As you walk along the massive concourse, Toyota has an area featuring its latest passenger cars and trucks. Take an elevator up to the next level and you are immediately greeted with a replica of the nose cone of the Space Shuttle Endeavor -- the real spacecraft that a Toyota Tundra famously gave a lift to a museum in downtown Los Angeles in 2012. And winning Toyota race cars and race trucks hang from the ceiling. The Florida Hospital Injector at Daytona International Speedway Stand on a level high atop the grandstands, alongside the luxury corporate suites looking outward from the speedway and you can feel the breeze and see what's coming next. Across the street, tractors and bulldozers are working to build a massive mall and eatery, "One Daytona" for the next phase of the facility's modernization. It will include popular restaurants, a Bass Pro Shops store and famous hotels, plus – importantly -- ease of passage from sidetrack to race track. "As you walk through the stadium, you see the potential for anything," Daytona International Speedway President Joie Chitwood III said proudly, glancing across the street. "For us the goal is to continue to push the envelope. Yes, we're the world center of racing, but also the world center of entertainment is very doable." But what is most important to both the executives and definitely the fans is a one-of-a-kind, top-shelf experience at Daytona from thrilling racing on track to thrilling ways to watch the racing on track. The speedway is not only keeping up with the times, it's setting fast time. "Probably what makes me most proud is that the France family entrusted me with their most valuable property," Chitwood said. "Being around Lesa and Jim France and seeing the legacy that Bill France created in the 1950s, we have to live up to that. "This is the Daytona International Speedway and Big Bill built this place and we are not going to misstep. It has to be right. And I'm proud to say, I think we nailed it." WATCH: 'Untold Stories: Daytona'
Elgin Sweeper renews partnership as official sweeper of NASCAR Green
BUY TICKETS: See the Daytona 500 live! ELGIN, Ill. – Elgin Sweeper , the leading manufacturer of street sweepers for general street maintenance, special industrial and airport applications, has renewed its partnership with NASCAR Green™ for three years and will continue to serve as the Official Sweeper of NASCAR Green . "Elgin Sweeper has provided trackside support for NASCAR for more than 15 years. Since we entered into our NASCAR Green partnership four years ago, we have experienced incredible success," said Mike Higgins, vice president and general manager of Elgin Sweeper. "Our company shares NASCAR's passion for, and commitment to, protecting the environment through sustainable practices." "Elgin Sweepers are essential to maintaining a clean and dry surface during our events," said Jim Cassidy, senior vice president, racing operations at NASCAR. "Every race weekend, Elgin Sweepers deliver dependable and clean technology that helps us return to green flagging racing more efficiently." Official Sweeper of NASCAR Green As the Official Sweeper of NASCAR Green, Elgin Sweeper is present at each NASCAR race event weekend to support NASCAR's Air Titan equipment to dry rain-soaked racetracks, saving jet fuel and reduce NASCAR's overall carbon footprint. In addition to supporting the Air Titan equipment with the revolutionary Elgin Crosswind ® Specialty Track Sweeper , the company helps clean and dry the tracks during caution periods when necessary. "For years, most racetracks borrowed a local street sweeper, or used a small machine designed for sweeping parking lots," Higgins said. "As the Official Sweeper of NASCAR Green, Elgin Sweeper has raised the bar in terms of racetrack sweeping, drying and conditioning, mitigating dust left behind from absorbent products used to clean fuel spills on the track, and removing rubber and debris in and around the pit area." Elgin Crosswind Specialty Track Sweeper In 2016, the Elgin Track Sweeper helped with drying rain-soaked tracks and vacuuming up standing water, rubber and debris around the pit area at 76 races of the National Series and more than 200 National Series practice sessions. "Based on our Crosswind GRS unit used to vacuum liquid glycol from airport runways, the Elgin Track Sweeper includes unique technology features developed specifically for a racetrack setting," said James Crockett, product manager at Elgin Sweeper. "These features include a thermal imaging camera that helps the operator locate liquids that may be camouflaged from the naked eye; a side air-blast nozzle capable of moving air at 270 mph for locations such as grass on the inside field, pit areas and weepers; a reverse sweep system equipped with radar; a 20,000 CFM-rated fan; a hydraulically-driven side broom with plastic bristles; and a soft-wall attachment to vacuum out behind the cracks on the racetrack and the soft wall before and after each race. "By speeding up the time it takes to clean and dry the track, the Elgin Track Sweeper assists the overall process of keeping the race event on schedule," Crockett said. "By doing so, the overall operations energy usage around the track – electricity used in the suites, media centers and lighting systems – is also significantly reduced." Crockett added that the powerful and effective technology incorporated in the Elgin Track Sweeper has been used in sweepers purchased globally by military customers to help keep their respective air force and navy runways clean of debris. Shared Power technology The company's proprietary shared technology system diverts the formerly wasted energy from the sweeper's chassis engine back to power the Elgin Track Sweeper itself. "This technology offsets about 16 metric tons of carbon dioxide being put into the environment over the course of a full NASCAR season, which is the equivalent of planting 372 new tree seedlings," Crockett said. Elgin Track Sweeper by the numbers • The first Elgin Track Sweeper was built in 2001 for the Kansas Speedway . • The sweeper picks up to 50 gallons of water per minute. • The sweeper saves roughly one gallon of diesel fuel per hour. • The sweeper's 10-foot sweep path covers the width of 1.5 race cars. • 16 NASCAR-certified drivers operate the Elgin Track Sweeper throughout the race season.
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.
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
NASCAR Drive for Diversity Class of 2017 drivers announced
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Jan. 25, 2017) – After a season of milestones for NASCAR Drive for Diversity graduates competing across NASCAR national series, the industry's flagship development program for multicultural and female drivers has announced that six drivers will join its 2017 class. The drivers were selected after a competitive combine held last October at New Smyrna Speedway and will compete for Rev Racing in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East and NASCAR Whelen All-American Series. The 2017 class features a former NASCAR PEAK Mexico Series champion, the granddaughter of one of the sport's female pioneers, and NASCAR Drive for Diversity's first sibling teammates. The drivers will attempt to follow in the footsteps of program graduates and current national series drivers Kyle Larson , Darrell Wallace Jr ., and 2016 NASCAR XFINITY Series champion Daniel Suárez. "Now more than ever, we're seeing the impact of NASCAR's development program in producing drivers who excel at the highest echelons of our sport," said Jim Cassidy, NASCAR senior vice president of racing operations. "There's a great deal of talent and potential in this year's class. With the strong foundation that NASCAR Drive for Diversity provides, these drivers will have the opportunity to develop the skills needed to elevate their racing careers." The 2017 class is led by four returning drivers, Collin Cabre, Jay Beasley, Madeline Crane and Rubén García Jr., who first competed in stock car racing in his native Mexico. Collin's younger brother, Chase Cabre, joins 16-year-old Macy Causey as this year's NASCAR Drive for Diversity newcomers. Causey's grandmother, Diane Teel, was the first woman to compete in a NASCAR XFINITY Series race in 1982. Rev Racing, the operational arm of NASCAR Drive for Diversity, will field four teams in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East and two in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series. The 2017 NASCAR Drive for Diversity roster features: Collin Cabre: An impressive second year in the NASCAR Drive for Diversity program was highlighted by four top-five and six top-10 finishes and a sixth-place finish in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East championship standings. After winning the 2015 season finale at Dover International Speedway , Cabre was named to the 2016-2017 NASCAR Next class. The 23-year-old from Tampa, Florida, will compete in his third season in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East with Rev Racing. Chase Cabre: Cabre, 20, registered 12 race wins in 21 starts in a 600 Mini Sprint Car and is a two-time Fall Brawl Champion at Florida's Ocala Bullring. In 2016, he averaged a fourth-place finish in races at Hickory Motor Speedway and set two poles during the season. Chase will compete in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East in his rookie season with Rev Racing. Rubén García Jr.: At age 20, the Mexico City native became the youngest NASCAR PEAK Mexico driver to win the series championship in 2015. García was also part of the NASCAR Next program in both 2015 and 2016. He returns to the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East after finishing 10th in the series last season. Jay Beasley: Beasley, 24, made history in 2013 by becoming the first African-American driver to win a Super Late Model race at the Bullring at Las Vegas Motor Speedway . In his first season with the NASCAR Drive for Diversity program in 2014, he earned two top-five and five top-10 finishes in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East. He returns to the series for his third season with Rev Racing. Macy Causey: Causey was honored with the NASCAR Young Racer Award in 2016. The year prior, she won the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Virginia Rookie of the Year Award and earned top rookie honors at Langley Speedway in Hampton, Virginia, where in 1978 her grandmother became the first woman to win a NASCAR-sanctioned race at the track. Causey will compete for Rev Racing in the NASCAR Whelen All American Series. Madeline Crane: The Georgia native began her career racing Bandoleros at Atlanta Motor Speedway at age 10. Crane, 19, moved into Legend cars, and by the time she was 14 had garnered 59 top-five finishes in 82 starts. Returning for a second season with NASCAR Drive for Diversity, she will compete in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series following two top-five and 12 top-10 finishes in 2016. NASCAR Drive for Diversity aligns drivers with a team of executives, athletic directors, crew chiefs and mentors tasked with helping them achieve career successes, and thus improving their goal of reaching one of the three NASCAR national series. Since it began fielding NASCAR Drive for Diversity cars in 2010, Rev Racing has been one of the most consistent teams in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East, registering 17 wins, 65 top-five and 124 top-10 finishes with drivers finishing in the top-10 in points each season. "Each year the applicant pool and talent level rises and our program continues to evolve and create more opportunities for advancement," said Max Siegel, CEO and owner of Rev Racing. "NASCAR Drive for Diversity and Rev Racing are proud of the impact that we have had in the sport and we look forward to graduating the next generation of athletes to the national series." The 2016 NASCAR season was a historic year for NASCAR Drive for Diversity alumni. Larson, who is Asian-American, became the first program graduate to win a race and reach the playoffs in the sport’s premier series, the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series . With his NASCAR XFINITY Series victory at Michigan International Speedway , Suárez was the first Mexican-born driver to win a national series race, and last November he became the first foreign-born driver to win a national series championship. Suárez will make his debut in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series racing for Joe Gibbs Racing in 2017. The 2017 NASCAR K&N Pro Series East season opener will take place on Feb. 19 at New Smyrna Speedway, where Rev Racing scored a win with Suárez in 2014. For more information on NASCAR Drive for Diversity, visit NASCARDiversity.com . &amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;
Nationwide to give fans inside look at Dale Earnhardt Jr.
NASCAR fans will get an inside look into Dale Earnhardt Jr .'s return to racing beginning next Tuesday thanks to a six-part series provided by Nationwide Insurance. Nationwide is the official primary sponsor of the No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet driven by Earnhardt in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series . "Unfinished Business" documents the offseason preparation and work behind Earnhardt's return to competition following last year's injury-shortened season. NASCAR's most popular driver missed the final 18 races of the year after suffering a concussion. The series is scheduled to go live on the Nationwide 88 Facebook page each Tuesday between Jan. 24 and this year's Feb. 26th running of the Daytona 500 . Two episodes will air the week leading into the season-opening race. A preview (trailer) of the series was posted to the Nationwide 88 Facebook page Thursday just before 6 p.m. ET. "Based on everything that happened last year, we wanted to really capitalize on Dale getting back in the car and all the excitement and interest, just the fans' general hunger for as much Dale Jr. content as we could provide," Jim McCoy, director of sports marketing for Nationwide, told NASCAR.com. "Going into the offseason as we did our production shoot for 2017 as we normally do, we wanted to add on a new layer ... a behind-the-scenes unique look around Dale. The offseason processes around production shoots, around designing the car, all the things that go into getting ready for Daytona. And having a real personal view from Dale conveying that." Each segment of the six-part series is short, informative and entertaining. For 2016, Nationwide produced a successful paint scheme unveil for Earnhardt's No. 88 entry. But following his injury officials wanted to go a little deeper this year. Portions of the series include Earnhardt's wife, Amy, car owner Rick Hendrick and crew chief Greg Ives. "Just the people that are really close to everything ... that fans don't normally get," McCoy said. Earnhardt's prior medical condition didn't hinder the process, but sensitivities surrounding the issue were addressed with the Hendrick organization. McCoy said it is "a very small part of this six-episode series." "This is truly more about getting ready for Daytona; we absolutely touch on the subject of him being out of the car because you have to," he said. "But I would say the majority of it is around what goes into the offseason preparation, why he is even more excited for this year and all that." Among the information provided to fans will be why there may be a different look to this year's No. 88 Nationwide paint scheme. Earnhardt has always been actively involved in determining the appearance of his race cars and coming up with the look for this year's car was no different. "There was a unique little nugget that came out that we'd not heard on him growing up around his grandfather and his dad racing based on the car coming back from the race track," McCoy said. "The lighter cars you could always tell how the race went based on where the tire marks were, the dirt and everything else. On a white car you always had a better sense of that and we've really transitioned to a lighter paint scheme this year with more white mixed into it. "He pulls in some of those personal stories that we hadn't heard and I think the fans will get a really big kick out of learning a little bit more about why he likes lighter paint schemes." Earnhardt has 26 career wins in NASCAR's top series, and his final three -- at Talladega, Daytona and Phoenix in 2015 -- came with Nationwide on the car in a primary role. The company, which previously was the title sponsor for what is now the XFINITY Series, has been affiliated with Earnhardt and his family for many years. McCoy said the series sponsorship, which ran from 2008-14, was crucial in helping to prepare Nationwide for its relationship with Earnhardt. "We learned a lot and we would not have been ready and in position to be able to take over as majority primary (sponsor) of the No. 1 driver in the sport, for the fans' demands and what they would want out of a sponsor," he said. "I think the Nationwide Series allowed us to really learn and do a lot of great things. "But we've taken the program to new levels and heights in partnership with Dale. He's our best customer and we can authentically connect with him and our products and services because it's real. It's been real since he was 16 years old. As we're trying to expand the message of who Nationwide is and what we do, the many sides of our company." &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;
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