Betty Jane France named Myers Brothers Award Recipient
RELATED: Full schedule for Champion's Week DARLINGTON, S.C. (Thursday, Dec. 1, 2016) – Betty Jane France, whose philanthropic endeavors away from the race track rivaled those of the well-known family business of NASCAR, has been chosen as the 2016 recipient of the National Motorsports Press Association's prestigious Myers Brothers Award. France, who passed away Aug. 29, 2016, is the mother of NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France and International Speedway Corporation CEO Lesa France Kennedy. She was the widow of former NASCAR Chairman and CEO William C. France. While auto racing has been the cornerstone of the family profession, Betty Jane France's reach far exceeded the boundaries of the track. Kind and compassionate, France was the guiding force behind the formation of the NASCAR Foundation, the charitable arm of the sanctioning body that seeks to improve the lives of children most in need. She served as chairwoman of the Foundation upon its inception more than a decade ago and was later named chairwoman emeritus. In 2011, the Betty Jane France Humanitarian Award, presented by Nationwide, was established in her honor. Each year, the award recognizes outstanding charitable and volunteer efforts of NASCAR fans. Active in her Daytona Beach community as well as abroad, France also helped establish the Speediatrics children's care unit at Halifax Health in Daytona Beach as well as Homestead Hospital in Homestead, Fla. The Myers Brothers Award is named in honor of former NASCAR competitors Billy and Bobby Myers. Determined by a vote of the NMPA membership, it recognizes individuals and/or groups who have provided outstanding contributions to the sport of stock car racing. It has been presented annually since 1958. Myers Brothers Award Winners 2016, Betty Jane France; 2015, Darlington Raceway ; 2014, Dale Earnhardt Jr .; 2013, Tony Stewart ; 2012, Jeff Gordon ; 2011, Drs. Joseph & Rose Mattioli; 2010, Jim Hunter; 2009, Barney Hall; 2008, T. Taylor Warren; 2007, Bill France Jr.; 2006, Benny Parsons; 2005, Rusty Wallace; 2004, Kyle and Patti Petty; 2003, R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co.; 2002, Mike Helton; 2001, Dale Earnhardt; 2000, Kyle Petty; 1999, Junie Donlavey; 1998, T. Wayne Robertson; 1997, R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co.; 1996, Rick Hendrick; 1995, TNN: The Nashville Network; 1994, Brickyard 400/ Indianapolis Motor Speedway ; 1993, Goody's Manufacturing Co.; 1992, Richard and Lynda Petty; 1991, Harry Gant; 1990. Dick Beaty; 1989, Bill France Jr.; 1988 Richmond International Raceway ; 1987, ESPN; 1986, Hayride 500; 1985, R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co.; 1984, Charlotte Motor Speedway ; 1983, CBS-TV; 1982, MRN; 1981, Junior Johnson; 1980, STP & Champion Spark Plug Co.; 1979, R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co.; 1978, Busch Beer; 1977, First National City Travelers Checks; 1976, Junior Johnson; 1975, Bill France Sr.; 1974, H. Clay Earles; 1973, Wood Brothers; 1972, Winston Cigarettes; 1971, Richard Petty; 1970, Richard Howard; 1969, David Pearson; 1968, Wood Brothers; 1967, Richard Petty; 1966, Norris Friel; 1965, Ned Jarrett; 1964, Richard Petty; 1963, Marvin Panch; 1962, Hank Schoolfield; 1961, Ned Jarrett; 1960, Russ Catlin; 1959, Lee Petty; 1958, Bob Colvin. Here is the complete list of Thursday’s award winners from the NASCAR NMPA Myers Brothers Awards Luncheon : · NMPA Myers Brothers Award: Betty Jane France · Buddy Shuman Award: Jack Roush · NASCAR Marketing Achievement Award: Comcast XFINITY · Chevrolet Cross Flags Award: Tony Stewart · American Ethanol Green Flag Restart Award: Kevin Harvick · Coors Light Pole Award: Carl Edwards · Duralast Brakes "Brake in the Race" Award: Kyle Busch · Goodyear NASCAR Series Champion Award: Jimmie Johnson · Ingersoll Rand Power Move Award: Dave Rogers, Joe Gibbs Racing No. 19 Crew Chief · MAHLE Clevite Engine Builder of the Year Award: Scott Vester, Hendrick Engines No. 4 team · Mechanix Wear Most Valuable Pit Crew Award: Hendrick Motorsports No. 48 team · Mobil 1 Driver of the Year Award: Kyle Busch · MOOG Steering & Suspension Problem Solver of the Year Award: Alan Gustafson, crew chief No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports team · Sherwin-Williams Fastest Lap Award: Kyle Busch · Sunoco Diamond Performance Award: Jimmie Johnson · Sunoco Rookie of the Year Award: Chase Elliott · Champion Sponsor Award: Lowe's · Champion Crew Chief Award: Chad Knaus · Betty Jane France Humanitarian Award Presented by Nationwide: Andy Hoffman &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;
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.
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.
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.
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
Watch: Custer-Nemechek scrap, as called by Jim Ross
MORE: Custer tackles Nemechek post-race at Mosport
McDowell teams up with 'The Rookie' for celebrity baseball game, project
Former Major League Baseball player Jim "The Rookie" Morris recalls walking into O.D. Wyatt High School in Fort Worth, Texas, last year for the first time. He was amazed at what he saw. "I was shocked at just the lack of everything basically with the baseball program," Morris told NASCAR.com of the school's lack of equipment and facilities. "I want everybody to have a level playing field. I want a safe haven for kids to go to after school where they're not on the streets, they're actually doing something and being coached by people who love them." So Morris decided to do something about it: With the help of a group of sponsors, including Thrivent Financial -- a organization that helps Christians manage their finances -- Morris and NASCAR driver Michael McDowell will host a celebrity softball game at the school on Saturday prior to Sunday's race at nearby Texas Motor Speedway . Volunteers, alumni, students and teachers will be afforded the opportunity to play and during the game, plans for the school's baseball field renovations, as well as new batting cage, equipment and uniforms, will be unveiled. Despite his lack of baseball experience, McDowell -- who says lightheartedly that he has "no abilities, no skills" in that area -- is excited to be a part of an event that will be impactful for the school and the Fort Worth community. "Just like any other thing we do with Thrivent -- to live generously and to give back to our community is a really important part and we have a great opportunity with the platform that we have to make a difference in communities," said McDowell, who also works with Habitat for Humanity, Samaritans Purse, The Wounded Warrior Project and other organizations through primary sponsor Thrivent Financial. "To get people to rally together and to do that is really cool." He'll also be able to learn a little more about baseball, thanks to a stout teacher in Morris: The inspiration for Disney's 2002 film "The Rookie," Morris went from a 35-year-old high school teacher to a Major League Baseball pitcher in a three-month span after making a bet with his high school players that he would try out for the major leagues if they won the District Championship. He pitched for the Tampa Bay Rays and then the Los Angeles Dodgers before retiring in 2001. Now, Morris' mission in life is to help underprivileged children and communities through his Jim "The Rookie" Morris Foundation and give them the same opportunities he had growing up. Giving these students new equipment and a revamped facility is the start of helping reform their life, he explained. "My father and I didn't get along, rough life -- he was in the Navy, he moved around constantly," Morris said. "Baseball was the one constant I had in my life. In between the white lines of that baseball field, I could be the kid I was supposed to be. "… There is no color in baseball. The baseball's white, the bats are different colors, the gloves are different colors, the players are different colors -- they come from different backgrounds, different countries. I want these kids to see that, that they can go out and reach their dreams as much as we can." McDowell sees parallels between his racing career Morris' rise to the big leagues, as he's persevered through the NASCAR ranks and finally earned his first major series victory this season at Road America in the NASCAR XFINITY Series. "When I came into the sport, I had high expectations and I was young and I had won in everything else I'd done and then I got to NASCAR and it was a very humbling experience," McDowell recalled. "I really struggled to perform and after I lost my job at MWR ( Michael Waltrip Racing ), I sort of just found where I am with sort of underfunded race teams and single car teams, start and parking and just driving whatever I could just to stay in the sport. Definitely trying to just persevere through that. "Luckily I got a break in 2011 and got to drive for Joe Gibbs Racing in the XFINITY Series. Only got to do a handful of races but those went well and that kind of put me back on the map of somebody that could do it and had the ability to do it … but I never got that first win until (this year at Road America ). "Just a story of sticking to it and fighting hard and I feel like I've had some great opportunities the last few years and that's allowed me to stay in the sport and I'm very thankful for that." Morris will also join McDowell at the race track for Sunday’s AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway (2 p.m. ET, NBC/NBC Sports App), along with a group of local children. "I've never been a NASCAR fan, but I've never had the opportunity to go, so this is great big deal for me, this is a great big deal for the kids and the coaches," Morris said. "At least for a little while, they can leave the life they were stuck in and go out there and watch race and just have fun." The Celebrity Softball Game will take place on Saturday, Nov. 5 at O.D. Wyatt High School in Fort Worth, Texas, from 3:30-6 p.m. local time. The event is open to the public.
NASCAR updates driver participation guidelines
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- In an announcement that will put an even brighter spotlight on the next generation of stars and bolster the identity of all three of its national series, NASCAR announced on Wednesday driver participation guidelines for the 2017 season. The new guidelines limit the number of events a premier series driver can race in the NASCAR XFINITY Series and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. Starting next season, premier series drivers with more than five years of full-time experience will be eligible to compete in a maximum of 10 races in the XFINITY Series and seven races in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. Additionally, drivers with more than five years of full-time premier series experience will be ineligible to compete in the final eight races in each series, as well as the Dash 4 Cash races in the NASCAR XFINITY Series. The final eight races are comprised of the regular-season finale and the entirety of the Chase in each series. Drivers earning premier series points in 2017 also are not eligible to compete in the 2017 NASCAR XFINITY Series and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Championship Races at Homestead-Miami Speedway . "The updated guidelines will elevate the stature of our future stars, while also providing them the opportunity to compete against the best in professional motorsports," said Jim Cassidy, NASCAR senior vice president of racing operations. "These updated guidelines are the result of a collaborative effort involving the entire industry, and will ultimately better showcase the emerging stars of NASCAR." Drivers with more than five years of full-time experience in the premier series still can run for an XFINITY Series or Camping World Truck Series championship, provided they have declared for championship points in the respective series. Wednesday's announcement signals the next step in NASCAR's driver participation guideline evolution. Prior to the 2016 season, NASCAR announced that members of the 2015 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup field would be ineligible to compete in the 2016 Championship Race in both the NASCAR XFINITY Series and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. In 2011, NASCAR implemented a rule requiring drivers to select one of the three national series in which to collect championship points.
Breakdown: Which drivers are most impacted in 2017
RELATED: New guidelines put limits in place CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- When a driver has accomplished as much as Kyle Busch has across all three NASCAR national circuits in his career, new participation guidelines might naturally seem to be tailored to "Busch-proofing" the XFINITY Series and Camping World Truck Series. Instead, the intent -- according to NASCAR Senior Vice President of Racing Operations Jim Cassidy -- is not to single out one driver or team, but to broaden the reach of the sport's up-and-coming stars as they climb the developmental ladder. "Certainly, we're not going to focus on any one participant and make a rule based upon that. That's certainly not our approach to rule-making," Cassidy said. "What our approach is in this case is making sure that the brands of these drivers have a chance if they are successful on-track, that people understand who these drivers are and that they continue to have a chance to build their brands." NASCAR announced updated guidelines for driver participation in 2017 on Wednesday, releasing rules that place limits on the amount of races drivers with more than five years of experience in its top series can enter in the two other national divisions. The rules establish a maximum for those Cup Series veterans of 10 additional races in the XFINITY Series and seven additional events in the Camping World Truck Series. Busch has won six or more XFINITY Series races in eight of the last nine seasons, including nine victories in 16 starts this season. While the reigning Sprint Cup champion might be the most prolific driver competing across multiple series, he's not the only one. A total of nine full-time Cup Series drivers -- Busch, Joey Logano , Austin Dillon , Dale Earnhardt Jr ., Chase Elliott , Michael McDowell , Denny Hamlin , Kyle Larson and Aric Almirola -- have combined to win 19 of the 30 XFINITY races so far this year. Of that list, Dillon, Elliott and Larson would not be subject to participation caps next year based on their experience levels. Similarly, this season a total of six full-time Sprint Cup drivers -- Busch, Logano, Dillon, Larson, Brad Keselowski and Matt DiBenedetto -- have competed in 10 or more XFINITY events. Of those, only Busch, Logano and Keselowski -- all with a full-time tenure of five or more years in NASCAR's premier series -- would be affected by the restrictions under the 2017 guidelines. A total of six XFINITY Series regulars finished second this year in races won by full-time Sprint Cup drivers. In those events, Joe Gibbs Racing 's Erik Jones was a runner-up five times with JR Motorsports teammates Justin Allgaier and Elliott Sadler each finishing second twice. While it might be overly simplistic to chalk those second-place finishes down as wins under the new system, the guidelines theoretically stand to create more opportunities for developmental drivers. The updated guidelines likely have a greater impact on the XFINITY Series, where double-duty participation by Sprint Cup Series drivers is higher, than on the Camping World Truck Series. On the truck tour this season, only three of the 19 races thus far have been won by full-time Cup Series drivers, with Kyle Busch prevailing twice and Larson once. No full-time Sprint Cup drivers have competed in more than seven truck races this year; Busch and Reed Sorensen have four starts each. Cassidy said in both series' cases, the experience component was an important link to the ceiling on driver starts. "Quite frankly, that's what you see some of the limitations tied to five years of experience so that some of the drivers that are still building can continue to build on and off the track in more than one place," Cassidy said. "The ultimate goal is to strengthen the entire sport and by having a driver base that fans are familiar with and that they can attach to. From a fandom standpoint, it's really the overarching opportunity here."
NASCAR, Chevrolet reveal diversity scholarship winners
From left to right: Michael Sanchez, Joy Kaseke, Nicole Dequina and Rachael Frost. DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- NASCAR and Chevrolet today announced the winners of the second annual NASCAR Chevrolet Diversity Scholarship Contest during a press conference at Texas Motor Speedway . Four undergraduate students from across the country were awarded a total of $20,000 in scholarships and treated to a VIP experience at today’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race, the AAA Texas 500 . The contest challenged students to identify a technology or innovation within NASCAR, then explain how STEM professionals came to its design in 90-second videos. Video submissions were judged on technical accuracy, creativity and production quality. Rachael Frost, a mechanical engineering student at James Madison University, earned first place and a $10,000 scholarship by explaining the physics of drafting in her video submission. University of Houston student Nicole Dequina won $5,000 for her video on the innovations of Safer Barrier walls. Florida A&M University student Michael Sanchez and Brigham Young University student Joy Kaseke took third and fourth place, respectively, earning $2,500 scholarships each. "Together with Chevrolet, we’re proud to support great talent and recognize these students with a unique, behind-the-scenes NASCAR experience," said Jim Cassidy, NASCAR senior vice president of racing operations. "We received several impressive submissions and we're thrilled to see so many students interested in the science and technology behind the sport." 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. "There's never been a more exciting time to be in the STEM field," said Ken Barrett, chief diversity officer for General Motors. "At GM, we know diversity is our strength, and having diverse talent in the STEM pipeline keeps both the automotive and racing industries on the cutting edge of innovation." Before taking in the AAA Texas 500 , the students had the chance to meet with Hendrick Motorsports driver Chase Elliott and Richard Childress Racing driver Ryan Newman , who graduated from Purdue University with an engineering degree. The VIP experience also included pace car rides, garage and pit road tour, and a meet-and-greet with Chevrolet’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Program Manager Alba Colon.