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Ron Bouchard passes away at age 67
RELATED: Bouchard's standout Modified career Ron Bouchard, winner of the 1981 Talladega 500 and the premier series' rookie of the year that same season, passed away Thursday. He was 67. A family friend and close pal of my fathers Ron Bouchard passed away today. My thoughts and prayers go to his family. — Dale Earnhardt Jr . (@DaleJr) December 10, 2015 NASCAR made a statement on Thursday regarding the news, "Ron Bouchard's passion for racing was evident from his very early years in NASCAR. Competition fueled Ron, whether racing modifieds at short tracks across the Northeast or winning rookie of the year honors in NASCAR's premier series. He loved this sport, and made an indelible mark on it, one that won’t soon be forgotten. "NASCAR extends its condolences to the friends and family of Ron Bouchard, a true racer." A native of Fitchburg, Massachusetts, Bouchard pulled off one of NASCAR's most stunning victories when he shot from third to first on the final lap at Talladega (then known as Alabama International Motor Speedway), passing Darrell Waltrip and Terry Labonte to score his lone premier series victory. The win came in his 11th career start. He was driving the Jack Beebe-owned Race Hill Farm No. 47 Buick, with crew chief Bob Johnson. Bouchard had taken over the ride earlier in the season following the departure of driver Harry Gant. Bouchard became the 13th different winner in the 13-year history of the summer race at the 2.66-mile track. "Coming off the fourth turn … I was behind Waltrip and Terry when Terry decided to pass Darrell on the outside," Bouchard told reporters following his Talladega victory. "When he moved up, Darrell moved up to get in front of him. When I saw that, I just shot down to the inside … and moved up fast." A standout Modified driver, Bouchard won track championships at Stafford Springs, Thompson and Seekonk speedways before moving up to what was then known as NASCAR's Grand National division. He made 160 starts at NASCAR’s top level, finishing a career-best eighth in points in '82. In addition to his one win, Bouchard scored 19 top-five and 60 top-10 finishes. He won the series' rookie title in a class that included Morgan Shepherd , Tim Richmond and Joe Ruttman . Seven years later, his brother Ken Bouchard captured the series rookie of the year award as well.
Daniel Suarez returns home to Mexico a champion
RELATED: ENTRY LIST " SCHEDULE Fresh off his 2016 NASCAR XFINITY Series championship, Daniel Suarez will make his highly anticipated return to Mexico this weekend in the very place his NASCAR career began -- the NASCAR PEAK Mexico Series. The Monterrey native will serve as honorary grand marshal for the series’ exhibition race Sunday at Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez in Mexico City, site of Suarez’s first NASCAR Peak Mexico Series win in 2012. After a year’s hiatus, Mexico’s national stock car championship series will be back on track in 2017 with a full race schedule. The series will celebrate its 10th season with its first year of a multi-year agreement with PEAK as its entitlement sponsor. To get ramped up for the return, the series will compete this weekend in the country’s capital. Nearly 30 drivers have registered for the event, which will be run in two 70-lap segments. Each segment will include a 50-minute time limit. Teams will be allowed to make adjustments in the intermission, and the top 10 positions will be inverted for the second segment. Practice and qualifying will be Saturday. The race is slated to include past champions Abraham Calderón (2014), Rodrigo Peralta (2013), Jorge Goeters (2005, 2012) and Rafael Martinez (2007). Martinez was the first Mexico Series champion under the NASCAR banner. Suarez finished third in the championship in 2012, and was runner-up in 2013 -- missing out on the title by just eight points. Suarez was part of the inaugural NASCAR Next class in 2011, the industry initiative that spotlights the sport’s rising young stars. Three of Suarez’s 10 series wins took place at Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez, which was named after legendary Formula One driver and one of the earliest Hispanic NASCAR drivers, Pedro Rodriguez. Suarez also notched 25 top-five finishes in 58 races over his four seasons competing in the Mexico Series. He moved up to the NASCAR K&N Pro Series, where he won three times driving for Rev Racing and the NASCAR Drive for Diversity program. On November 19, the Joe Gibbs Racing driver became the sport’s first foreign-born national series champion, beating out Elliott Sadler , Justin Allgaier and Erik Jones in the inaugural NASCAR XFINITY Series Chase by virtue of his victory in the series finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway .
Kenseth thankful for successful 2016 season
Matt Kenseth speaks on another successful season with Joe Gibbs Racing at the 2016 NASCAR Sprint Cup Awards Banquet.
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;
Top pit crews of 2016 as voted on by coaches
RELATED: Mechanix Wear Most Valuable Pit Crew When we decided to start the All Pit Road Team five years ago we wanted to make it as legit as possible. In the past, we had crew members vote on who they thought were the best of the best. This year we changed it up a bit and sent out a ballot to each organization and had one coach's ballot turned back in from each organization. We had a great response from the coaches, and below are the crewmen who were selected. Just like last year, only members of the 16 Chase pit crews were eligible for the awards. If there was a tie in voting, the crewman whose team finished highest in the points won. Front Tire Changer First Team: No. 41 Shane Pipala (5) Second Team: No. 2 Hunter Masling (5) Third Team: No. 11 Dustin Necaise (4) Honorable Mention: No. 19 Clay Robinson (3) Front Tire Carrier First Team: No. 19 Kevin Harris (4) Second Team: No. 22 Dylan Dowell (3) Third Team: No. 11 Brandon Pegram (3) Honorable Mention: No. 2 Jeremy Ogles (3) Jackman First Team: No. 22 Ray Gallahan (4) Second Team: No. 11 Nate Bolling (4) Third Team: No. 42 Graham Molatch (4) Honorable Mention: No. 41 Sean Cotten (3) Rear Tire Changer First Team: No. 11 Mike Hicks (7) Second Team: No. 22 Zach Price (4) Third Team: No. 18 Jake Seminara (4) Honorable Mention: No. 19 Kip Wolfmeir (3) Rear Tire Carrier First Team: No. 11 Heath Cherry (4) Second Team: No. 19 Matt Ver Meer (3) Third Team: No. 20 Blake Haugland (3) Honorable Mention: No. 41 Dwayne Moore (3) Gasman First Team: No. 11 Caleb Hurd (4) Second Team: No. 22 Kellen Mills (2) Third Team: No. 18 Tom Lampe (2) Honorable Mention: No. 41 Justin Wilson (2) Pit Crew of the year (Voted on by pit crew coaches) Joey Logano , Team Penske No. 22 (5) Denny Hamlin, Joe Gibbs Racing No. 11 (4) Kurt Busch , Stewart-Haas Racing No. 41 (4) Mechanix Wear Pit Crew of the Year (Voted on by crew chiefs) Jimmie Johnson , Hendrick Motorsports No. 48 For more pit crew news, visit PitTalks.com.
Analysis: Joe Gibbs, Bill Belichick cut from same competitive cloth
RELATED: Full race results " Chase Grid BRUCE: About that JGR strategy ... " NASCAR: JGR did not violate rules Love it. Hate it. Understand it. Disagree with it. The strategy play by Joe Gibbs to have three of his four cars -- the three that were in solid shape based on points of Kyle Busch , Carl Edwards and Matt Kenseth -- ride around in the back for the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Round of 12 finale at Talladega Superspeedway to avoid any potential calamity has brought out a variety of opinions. Denny Hamlin , who needed a strong finish to advance, spent most of the day at the front without the benefit of his teammates drafting with him. Hamlin finished third and advanced to the Round of 8 on a tiebreaker over Austin Dillon . That propelled all four JGR cars into the Round of 8, just as mastermind Joe Gibbs drew it up. Was it cunning? Sure. Was it gamesmanship? Yes. Was it risky? Potentially. Was it within the rules? Absolutely.
Cain: Joe Gibbs Racing Chase strategy may change at Texas
FORT WORTH -- We get the concept. It's the embrace that feels a little tricky. After the race at Talladega Superspeedway two weeks ago, Joe Gibbs Racing drivers Carl Edwards , Matt Kenseth and Kyle Busch emerged from their Toyotas feeling "good" about a mid-pack bumper-to-bumper-to-bumper finish that neither helped nor hurt their points standings to advance in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup championship. It was a well-executed survival gamble. Their JGR teammate, Denny Hamlin , however, was left on his own to race his heart out at NASCAR's biggest track in hopes of earning a spot into the Chase's Round of 8. He did, but only by virtue of besting a tiebreaker thanks to his third-place finish. Last week, the JGR train used a similar format, sticking together nose-to-tail at Martinsville Speedway -- NASCAR's smallest track -- and finishing third through fifth. In both instances, during post-race interviews on pit road -- depending on which JGR driver you were talking to -- they were up to code on praising team orders. But their facial expressions perhaps revealed a little something else. Granted, at Talladega, it's as nerve-wracking to run at the rear of the field as it is to get into the winner's mix. So it was as much a gamble to run together far away from the front as it was to navigate forward. At Martinsville, there appeared to be potential for a different scenario than the Gibbs freight train, but again it successfully took the checkered flag in title contention. The Gibbs team didn't win at either venue, however. So, now that strategy of playing it safe and bonding together has also fundamentally altered the title hopes of at least one member of the four-car JGR contingent, as three championship bids now remain open. Four drivers move forward to decide the trophy at Homestead-Miami Speedway and Sunday's winner at Martinsville, six-time champ Jimmie Johnson , has earned one of those positions. RELATED: JGR denied in quest for Championship 4 sweep Three JGR cars -- Hamlin, Kenseth and Busch -- are ranked second to fourth in the standings. Edwards finished 36th at Martinsville, suffering from a tire problem, and will essentially need to win at Texas this week or at Phoenix next week to earn a championship chance. It will be an interesting subplot to see how JGR strategizes as the series heads to the 1.5-mile Texas Motor Speedway this weekend. Will it continue to expect its four drivers to team up, or will this virtual team restrictor plate come off? Credit goes to the four for so obediently following team orders and thinking about the good of the whole versus the glory of the individual. But playing it safe only goes so far now. All the teammates enthusiastically praised the way they ran at Talladega, even Hamlin who was essentially left to fend for himself. However, Sunday at Martinsville, it appeared that the strategy was wearing a little thinner. Hamlin again led JGR's third-through-fifth place contingent, followed by Kenseth and Busch. And it didn't take a certified psychologist to dissect the post-race vibe. Certainly, reigning Cup champion Busch let on that the team's strategy was perhaps a bit troublesome at Martinsville -- even if he wouldn't just come right out and declare that it's time for every man to fend for himself. "You can't wreck each other and that's all there is to it I guess," Busch said. "We worked so good together that we gave the 48 ( Jimmie Johnson ) car the win today. "That's how good JGR is." There have been arguments made that the JGR pack racing "works" at Talladega because of the nature of restrictor plate pack racing. And obviously, it was effective -- even if if didn't result in a win -- at Martinsville last week. But the Texas high banks present different challenges. And as the opportunity to secure a championship bid diminishes with each race, the JGR drivers may understandably feel more selfish in their pursuit. "I don't think it changes a whole lot, honestly," Hamlin said. "I think that we each still have a shot, there's just one spot taken, so three of us would still be a good number to get in that final group and we'll do everything we can to get that done." It may well be the ultimate Texas Two-Step and it's just a question of who will dance.
Vote for Kenseth/Ratcliff, '16? Joe Gibbs Racing offers options
Hey you -- feeling any anxiety about casting your vote in the 2016 presidential election? Not sure which direction to go? Don't fret, people of America. Joe Gibbs Racing is here to offer the undecided voter some new options just in time for Tuesday's big decision. In case you need some write-in options for #ElectionDay ... we have some suggestions #TheChase pic.twitter.com/33QXwppC3a — Jess Rohlik (@JessicaLRohlik) November 8, 2016 We're NASCAR.com and we approve this message.
Suarez, Sauter honored for titles on special night
RELATED: See the champions celebrate in Miami MIAMI BEACH, Fla. -- Thankfulness for family remained a theme for two NASCAR champions Monday night. One for the strong racing upbringing in pastoral Wisconsin that has sustained him over the course of a veteran's career; the other for the family that encouraged a young star to leave his Mexican homeland to chase his racing dreams in America. Both Daniel Suarez and Johnny Sauter were honored for their crowning accomplishments Monday in the NASCAR XFINITY and Camping World Truck Series awards gala at the Loews Miami Beach Hotel. Their recognition came just days after each sealed their first NASCAR titles during Ford Championship Weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway . Elliott Sadler ( XFINITY ) and Tyler Reddick (Trucks) received the Most Popular Driver Award for each series, graciously thanking fans and their teams for their support. Joe Gibbs Racing 's No. 19 Toyota team ( XFINITY ) and Kyle Busch Motorsports' No. 9 Toyota operation (Trucks) were toasted with team owner championships. Suarez entertained the packed ballroom with stories about the challenges of moving to the United States, learning to break the language barrier while becoming more adept with the nuances of racing and automotive skills. But Suarez also told the crowd about coming of age and becoming more independent in his life in America while his family cheered from afar back home. Saturday, his parents were both at the track for the first time ever to watch him race in the USA. But the gravity of his victory resonated beyond international borders, with Suarez receiving a congratulatory tweet from the president of Mexico as part of the overwhelming reaction. "It really means a lot. As you guys can imagine, it was really a huge deal in Mexico and Latin America," Suarez said after his speech. "Everyone was super, super excited about what happened. It was something historic. It was just something that a lot of people were waiting for and finally we got it done. It was something really cool. I'm ready to come back to Mexico and celebrate with some of my friends down there that didn't get an opportunity to come to my race here in Homestead. I'm just very, very blessed." RELATED: Suarez's path to a championship
Joe Gibbs Racing changes pit crew coach
Joe Gibbs Racing changed its pit crew coach Wednesday, transitioning longtime coach Mike Lepp to the role of senior athletic adviser and placing Matt Osborn in charge of pit crew operations. Lepp joined JGR at the beginning of 2007, and over the past few years, the JGR pit crews have been the ones to beat. Lepp has amassed more than 113 wins in the NASCAR Sprint Cup and XFINITY Series, combined, as well as other awards. He was part of a Sprint Cup championship with the No. 18 team of Kyle Busch last year and was involved in winning multiple XFINITY Series titles. Lepp has played a major role in bringing the JGR teams to the forefront of the pitting world and has two pit crew championships to his credit, with back-to-back wins in 2010 and 2011 with the No. 11 crew of Denny Hamlin . Over the last nine years, the Nos. 11 and 18 crews have been dominant. One of Lepp's most recent accomplishments was assembling the No. 19 crew of Carl Edwards . That pit crew has been a top-three unit since it started with JGR. With his new job, Lepp will assume an increased role in marketing and public relations duties, including public speaking events and actively searching for sponsorship opportunities. "This is the right time for me to make a change and I'm excited about my new role in the organization," Lepp said in a team release. "I'm proud of what we've accomplished on pit road and I know Matt will continue to do a great job going forward." For more pit crew news, visit PitTalks.com .