Johnson wins NMPA Richard Petty Driver of the Year
DARLINGTON, S.C. -- Jimmie Johnson , who won a record-tying seventh NASCAR championship this past season, has been voted the winner of the 2016 Richard Petty Driver of the Year Award presented by the National Motorsports Press Association. Johnson, driver of the No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet for Hendrick Motorsports , was named on 62 percent of the ballots cast for the award of the NMPA membership. Others receiving votes were Carl Edwards ( Joe Gibbs Racing ), Martin Truex Jr . ( Furniture Row Racing ), Kevin Harvick and Tony Stewart ( Stewart-Haas Racing ) and Joey Logano ( Team Penske ). Richard Petty, Dale Earnhardt and Johnson are the only NASCAR drivers to win seven titles in what is now known as the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series . The announcement was made during the NMPA's annual Convention and Awards Dinner held in Concord, North Carolina. It marks the seventh time Johnson, 41, has received the Driver of the Year honor. He also won the award in 2004, '06, '07, '09, '10, and '13. Johnson won five races in 2016, including the season-ending Ford 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway that clinched his seventh championship. He ended the year with 11 top-five and 16 top-10 finishes in 36 races. The award is named in honor of Petty, NASCAR's win leader in its top series with 200 victories. It has been presented annually by the NMPA since 1969. Twenty-three different drivers have won the award since its inception. Other awards: Veteran motorsports journalist Al Pearce was named the 2016 recipient of the National Motorsports Press Association's Pocono Spirit Award. Pearce raised more than $13,000 through the auction of a racing helmet bearing the signatures of the 20 living World Driving Champions as well as those of Phil Hill and Sir Jack Brabham prior their passing. Proceeds from the project, which took nearly four years to complete, went to the Victory Junction Gang Camp, the Kyle Petty Charity Ride, the Jimmie Johnson Foundation and the Jeff Gordon Children's Foundation. ... Veteran public relations representative Dave Ferroni was named the 2016 recipient of the Ken Patterson Helping Others Award. Ferroni has been involved in various forms of auto racing for more than 30 years. His company, DMF Communications, currently handles public relations for Furniture Row Racing and driver Martin Truex, Jr. in NASCAR's premier series. ... ESPN.com motorsports writer Bob Pockrass was named the recipient of the National Motorsports Press Association's Joe Littlejohn Award for 2016. The award is named after the former track owner from Spartanburg, South Carolina, and is presented annually by the NMPA in recognition for outstanding service to the organization. Pockrass recently completed his eighth year as secretary treasurer for the NMPA. Richard Petty Driver of the Year Determined by vote of the membership, the Richard Petty Driver of the Year award has been presented annually since 1969 to recognize the season's most outstanding driver. It is named in honor of the seven-time NASCAR premier series champion: 2016, Jimmie Johnson ; 2015, Kyle Busch ; 2014, Kevin Harvick ; 2013, Jimmie Johnson ; 2012, Brad Keselowski ; 2011, Tony Stewart ; 2010, Jimmie Johnson ; 2009, Jimmie Johnson ; 2008, Carl Edwards ; 2007, Jimmie Johnson ; 2006, Jimmie Johnson ; 2005, Tony Stewart ; 2004, Jimmie Johnson ; 2003, Ryan Newman ; 2002, Tony Stewart ; 2001, Kevin Harvick ; 2000, Bobby Labonte ; 1999, Dale Jarrett; 1998, Jeff Gordon ; 1997, Dale Jarrett; 1996, Terry Labonte ; 1995, Jeff Gordon ; 1994, Dale Earnhardt; 1993, Rusty Wallace; 1992, Davey Allison; 1991, Harry Gant; 1990, Dale Earnhardt; 1989, Mark Martin; 1988, Rusty Wallace; 1987, Dale Earnhardt; 1986, Tim Richmond and Dale Earnhardt; 1985, Bill Elliott ; 1984, Terry Labonte ; 1983, Bobby Allison; 1982, Darrell Waltrip; 1981, Darrell Waltrip; 1980 Dale Earnhardt; 1979 Cale Yarborough; 1978 Cale Yarborough; 1977, Cale Yarborough; 1976, Darrell Waltrip; 1975, Richard Petty; 1974, Richard Petty; 1973, David Pearson; 1972, Bobby Allison; 1971, Bobby Allison; 1970, Bobby Isaac; 1969, LeeRoy Yarbrough.
NASCAR Hall of Fame Class of 2017 honored, inducted
RELATED: Recap induction night, watch more speeches CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The enshrinement of three car owners of paramount importance to stock car racing, a driver who proved a prolific winner in NASCAR’s top-two series and a former Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion who would become one of the most beloved storytellers in the history of the sport highlighted Friday night’s induction of the Class of 2017 into the NASCAR Hall of Fame. Not only did the emotional proceedings usher one of NASCAR’s first car owners, Raymond Parks, into the Hall. Also recognized were the ongoing accomplishments of two owners -- Richard Childress and Rick Hendrick -- whose efforts have helped to produce a pair of seven-time champions. Friday night also brought the induction of driver Mark Martin, who won 40 races in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series , another 49 in the NASCAR XFINITY Series and who finished second in the championship standings at NASCAR’s highest level no less than five times. WATCH: Martin enters the 'grandest Victory Lane' Perhaps the most gripping moment of the night was the enshrinement of 1973 Cup champion Benny Parsons, a man of indefatigable good humor who flourished after his driving career as one of the most beloved broadcasters the sport has known. Parsons lost his life on Jan. 16, 2007 after a courageous battle against lung cancer. Appropriately, Parks was first to be enshrined. Introduced by Kevin Harvick and inducted posthumously by family friend Kyle Petty, Parks was a close friend of NASCAR founder Bill France Sr. and a pillar of the sport in its formative years. Born in the mountains of north Georgia, Parks shares "moonshine" roots with such NASCAR pioneers as Junior Johnson. Parks later grew successful jukebox and vending machine businesses in Atlanta before venturing into NASCAR ownership. Parks won NASCAR's first two championships, in modifieds in 1948 and in Strictly Stock (NASCAR's top division) with Red Byron behind the wheel and Red Vogt as crew chief. RELATED: 'Lost' films restored, reveal Parks' talent "He put his money where his mouth was, investing in our great pastime as an owner," Harvick said. "The World War II veteran captured NASCAR's first premier series championship in 1949 and nearly 70 years later has earned the highest honor from the sport he always believed in." "Without Raymond Parks, there would be no Richard Petty -- there’s nothing to build on," Kyle Petty said. Introduced by fellow Michigander Brad Keselowski , Parsons won his only championship in 1973, an achievement that came during a string of nine straight years (1972-1980) in which Parsons finished in the top five in the final standings. All told, Parsons won 21 races, including the 1975 Daytona 500 , during a career whose hallmark was remarkable consistency. In 526 starts at NASCAR’s highest level, Parsons finished in the top 10 283 times, an enviable 54 percent. "He's from Detroit, and he came from being a Michigan taxi driver to a NASCAR champion," Keselowski said. "Think about that. That seems like the script from a Hollywood movie. "But that is exactly what Benny Parsons accomplished in 1973." WATCH: Childress says his story's possible 'only in America' Childress’ grandsons, Austin and Ty Dillon -- both of whom are racing in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series this year -- introduced their "Pop Pop," the car owner with whom inaugural NASCAR Hall of Fame class member Dale Earnhardt won six of his seven championships. "My brother and I are so proud and honored to introduce Pop Pop," Austin Dillon said. "There are countless family stories I could share of his true grit, persistence, determination, and love for others." Including Earnhardt’s six with RCR, Childress has won 11 titles combined in NASCAR’s top three touring series, second only to fellow inductee Hendrick’s 15. "I’m honored to go into the NASCAR Hall of Fame with my heroes," said Childress, who was inducted by his wife, Judy Childress. "Just look around this wall and look at the greats that we'll be going in the Hall of Fame with. Unbelievable. And to go in the Class of 2017 with so many great inductees is quite an honor." Seven-time champion Jimmie Johnson and four-time titleholder Jeff Gordon did the introduction honors for Hendrick, their car owner. "The stats speak for themselves: 15 national series championship, 245 Cup wins, certainly impressive numbers, but more important than the wins and the championships is the person behind them," Gordon said. "He's the most loyal man I know. He'll take the shirt right off his back for you. His accomplishments are endless, and his character is unrivaled." Hendrick accepted induction from his wife, Linda Hendrick. WATCH: Hendrick thanks NASCAR family "I humbly accept this tonight, and all the drivers that have been involved in our company, all the mechanics, everybody that's ever been a part of it, I accept this on your behalf, past and present," Hendrick said. "I know my son (Ricky Hendrick, killed in a 2004 plane crash) is watching tonight, and he's so proud. Congratulations to Jimmie for winning No. 7, dedicating it to him … "But I can tell you that the feelings that I have for this sport and for all the people in it, all the sponsors -- and I've got so many here tonight I can't name them all, don't want to do that -- but it's your faith, it's your family and your friends that get you through life, and that's the most important thing. When it's all over, it's the people that you touch and the lives you change that make a difference in this world." Introduced by former Roush Fenway Racing teammate Matt Kenseth and inducted by team owner Jack Roush, Martin chronicled a career that began in 1981 and ended at Michael Waltrip Racing in 2013. In between, Martin finished second in the standings four times with Roush -- the first in 1990 -- and once with Hendrick, in 2009, during Johnson’s run of five straight titles. Martin won 96 races across all three NASCAR national touring series, currently seventh all-time. He credited Roush with giving him a welcome opportunity to drive RFR Fords in 1988, after his career had stalled. "He was hell-bent and determined as I was to make a name for himself winning races and competing for championships at NASCAR's highest level," Martin said. "Jack Roush gave me that second chance." During Friday night’s ceremony, Martinsville Speedway founder H. Clay Earles was recognized with the Landmark Award for Outstanding Contributions to NASCAR. Opened in 1947, Martinsville is the only track to have hosted races at NASCAR’s highest level since the sanctioning body’s formation in 1949. The late Benny Phillips, former reporter and sports editor for the High Point (N.C.) Enterprise received the Squier-Hall Award for NASCAR Media Excellence. Overcoming polio to pursue his career as a journalist, Phillips also wrote for Stock Car Racing magazine for 27 years and spent 12 years covering racing with TBS. &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;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;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;
SHR gives first look at Kevin Harvick's No. 4 Ford
More new looks for the New Year are coming out of Stewart-Haas Racing in Kannapolis, North Carolina, where they rolled out a 360-degree video simulation of Kevin Harvick 's No. 4 Busch Beer Ford. That's right we said Ford, not Chevrolet, which will take some getting used to as the team switches manufacturers for the 2017 season. Take a peek below at the new No. 4, and it sounds like we'll get to see some more of the team's fleet in the near future. Long time coming. We can officially release our 2017 paint schemes! First up. The No. 4 @BuschBeer Ford. New year. New look. #shrFORDward pic.twitter.com/8M3d7Gd5X6 — Stewart-Haas Racing (@StewartHaasRcng) January 2, 2017 </p>
Chip Ganassi Racing No. 42 NXS car chief passes away
Ryan Shea, car chief for the Chip Ganassi Racing No. 42 Chevrolet in the NASCAR XFINITY Series, died Wednesday night at his home in Troutman, North Carolina, according to the team. He was 34. "It is a sad day for our team as we mourn the untimely loss of Ryan," team owner Chip Ganassi said in a team release. "Ryan was a dedicated worker and a great friend to those on our team, as well as others in the garage. Our hearts go out to Ryan’s family and friends during this difficult time." Shea had previously worked at Michael Waltrip Racing before joining CGR in 2015. Kyle Larson and Justin Marks have been behind the wheel of the No. 42 this season. My thoughts on the passing of Ryan Shea: pic.twitter.com/XzKUBibck1 — Justin Marks (@JMarksDE) March 31, 2016 "Ryan was a tremendous asset to Chip Ganassi Racing and the No. 42 team and will be sorely missed," said crew chief Mike Shiplett. "My thoughts go out to his wife, children, family and friends in this time of mourning." Chip Ganassi Racing will communicate further details regarding funeral arrangements and memorials as they become available. A GoFundMe page has been established to take donations for Ryan's family -- go here to see it. Also, CGR cars will have a special decal on their Chevrolets this weekend. The NASCAR community collectively offered its condolences to the team and the Shea family on Twitter: Just heard the news of Ryan Shea passing away in his sleep. A great person and great worker in the industry.. Prayers with his wife & kids — Rodney Childers (@RodneyChilders4) March 31, 2016 Ryan Shea will be greatly missed by this community. He is a model to follow in this sport. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family. — JR Motorsports (@JRMotorsports) March 31, 2016 Wow shocked to hear about the passing of Ryan Shea. He was my car chief in 2006. Thoughts and prayers to Cory and the Shea family. — Kevin Conway (@TheKevinConway) March 31, 2016 Very sad day @CGRnascar as we lost one of our teammates far too soon. Keep Ryan's family in prayers #RIPRyanShea https://t.co/lwHv4UwIUl — Steve Lauletta (@slauletta) March 31, 2016 Thoughts and prayers to Ryan Shea and his family — Jeff Burton (@JeffBurton) March 31, 2016 It takes days like today to remember just how fragile life is. Shea was a great teammate and he is already deeply missed. — Ashley Parlett (@Just_AP) March 31, 2016 Thoughts and Prayers for Ryan Shea, his wife and kids! Such sad news. — Chris Osborne (@crazy_spotter) March 31, 2016
Several drivers on tap for Fan Fest appearances
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Former Daytona 500 champions Jamie McMurray, Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson are among the drivers that will appear at Preseason Thunder Fan Fest at Daytona International Speedway on Jan. 20-21. Preseason Thunder returns in 2011 as Sprint Cup Series drivers will take to the new asphalt at Daytona in a three-day test session Jan. 20-22. Test and Fest set at Daytona Expectations and excitement Order all your Daytona tickets Tickets for Preseason Thunder Fan Fest are $20 and available by calling 1-800-PITSHOP or online at www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com. Ticket-holders for the 2011 Daytona 500 and children 12 and under will receive free admission. Advanced reservations are available (limited to 250 people) for special autograph sessions to be held with participating 2010 Chase drivers and Daytona 500 champions. Additional driver autograph sessions will be held on both days with wristbands available the day of the event. To request access to the special autograph sessions, race fans can call 1-800-PITSHOP or visit the Daytona International Speedway ticket office beginning at 9 a.m. ET Saturday. In addition to viewing the on-track activity from the Sprint FanZone, fans can watch each day's testing at no cost from a section of the Oldfield Grandstands near Turn 4. Drivers currently scheduled to make appearances on Jan. 20, beginning at 6 p.m. ET, are Dale Earnhardt Jr., Brad Keselowski, David Ragan, Kurt Busch, Carl Edwards, Denny Hamlin, Kasey Kahne, Mark Martin, Martin Truex Jr. and Regan Smith. Scheduled to appear on Jan. 21, during the 5-7 p.m. ET session are Johnson, Kevin Harvick, Clint Bowyer, David Reutimann, Casey Mears, Jeff Burton, Joey Logano, Kevin Conway , Kyle Busch, Paul Menard and Ryan Newman. In the 7-9 p.m. ET session, drivers scheduled to appear are McMurray, Gordon, A.J. Allmendinger , Brian Vickers, Greg Biffle, Juan Montoya, Marcos Ambrose and Matt Kenseth. Lastly, race fans will be able to camp in the infield at Daytona for free with their admission ticket during the three-day test inside Turns 3 and 4. Sites will be provided on a first-come, first-served basis. Gates to the infield will open at 8 a.m. ET on Jan. 20. Among the activities planned for both days include: interactive driver question-and-answer sessions on the main stage; show cars, displays, music; photo opportunity with the Harley J. Earl Daytona 500 trophy; and blood drive outside the Turn 4 tunnel. The Roar Before the Rolex 24, the tune-up session for the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series teams in advance of the 49th running of the Rolex 24 at Daytona, is set for Jan. 7-9. Tickets are $15 daily for the Roar Before the Rolex 24, with driver fan forums, tech talks and pit stop demonstrations slated for Saturday. ticket-holders for the 2011 Rolex 24 at Daytona and children 12 and under will receive free admission. Tickets for both the Preseason Thunder Fan Fests and the Roar Before the Rolex 24 are available online at http://www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com or by calling 1-800-PITSHOP.
Ford expects to come out firing with SHR in mix
RELATED: Stewart at ease in new role at SHR CONCORD, N.C. -- With the start of the 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series little more than one month away, Stewart-Haas Racing teams continue to work through the switch to a new manufacturer, Ford officials now have "more bullets" in their chamber and Clint Bowyer can't wait to make his first official start for SHR. Those were the key takeaways from Wednesday's gathering of Ford and SHR folks held at the Ford Performance Technical Center here in Concord, North Carolina. After years of fielding Chevrolet entries, SHR announced last February that the four-team organization would make the swap to Ford for '17. That's increased the workload somewhat at the team's Kannapolis, North Carolina, headquarters, but preparing for a new season always keeps teams busy. "Every offseason, we start the year and don't feel like we're ready, don't feel like we're quite where we want to be," said co-owner Tony Stewart . "This winter has been a big challenge obviously, but we were prepared for it. … "The team has done a great job. The great thing is their spirits are high and they're really excited about the switch to Ford. You can tell there's a lot of work to be done and a lot going on but ... I'm really proud of our guys and how dedicated they've been to this process." Dave Pericak, Global Director of Ford Performance, said the quickness with which SHR has progressed off the track has been impressive. "The level of collaboration has been fantastic and the speed at which these guys implement and get things done, these guys are racers and there's no messing around," he said. "When there is something that we all know is the right thing to do, just the speed at which Stewart-Haas gets things done is pretty amazing." Stewart ended his NASCAR driving career in '16 with three championships and 49 victories. Bowyer, following a one-year stint at the former HScott Motorsports , will take over Stewart's familiar No. 14 entry. Kevin Harvick , the 2014 champion, returns as do Danica Patrick and 2004 champ Kurt Busch . Not surprisingly, after a season that saw him finish a career-low 27th in points with just three top-10 results, Bowyer admitted he is "champing at the bit." "Pretty damn hard not to be," Bowyer said when asked if he felt rejuvenated by the opportunity. "The thing about it, they're just racers," Bowyer said of the SHR group. "Everybody's working ... just head down, working hard, trying to get better, trying to get faster. They don't take second as an option. It's not an option. They go and work hard and figure out how to win these races. "It doesn't matter what it takes to do it. You have those resources put in place." For Ford officials, the addition of SHR "will raise the level for all of us," according to Raj Nair. Nair, Executive VP for Global Product Development and Chief Technical Officer for Ford Motor Company, said "you can't argue with the results out of Stewart-Haas." "So we're all going to learn a lot just by that association." Team Penske , Roush Fenway Racing , Wood Brothers Racing , Richard Petty Motorsports and Front Row Motorsports formed the bulk of the Ford armada in '16. While the Penske teams of Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano have been title contenders since making the move from Dodge to Ford in 2013, no Ford team has won the championship since Busch won the title in 2004. The company's last manufacturer's title came more than a decade ago as well, in 2002. "It's no secret that (the addition of SHR) brings more bullets to our gun as well," Nair said. "We've got more cars that will be running up front and a bigger chance to win. Sometimes in this sport you're playing the odds a little bit. You can have the fastest car but sometimes stuff happens. So having more faster cars up there is going to increase our chances to make sure the blue oval is in Victory Lane." &amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;gt;
Stewart at ease with new role at SHR, in NASCAR
RELATED: SHR, Ford expect fast start " Stewart's 2016 year in review CONCORD, N.C. -- Tony Stewart remembers standing on the floor of the Stewart-Haas Racing shop in mid-December. All around him, across the shop floor, were race car chassis. No body, no paint, no decals -- Just skeletons of race cars-to-be. It's part of a long process for Stewart-Haas Racing , as the team transitions from Chevrolet to Ford for the 2017 NASCAR season. "This has been a really, really tough offseason for these guys," Stewart said Wednesday at the Ford Performance Center. "…To think how far these guys have come in such a short amount of time, I mean, I'm really proud (of them). Especially the fab shop -- Those guys really deserve a big pat on the back because it has been a huge undertaking to get so many cars ready in such a short amount of time. "And when I say they're getting them ready, they didn't throw them together; the same level of quality that they always do. I'm really proud of what they've produced so far." His team isn't the only one making a huge transition this season; Stewart begins the new year as a freshly retired Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series driver, having raced his final season in 2016. This marks the first season in 18 years where Stewart won't be prepping for a season in NASCAR's premier series. RELATED: Rock star surprises Stewart in Las Vegas Does he miss it? "It will be nice to be at the track and not be sore and not be uncomfortable sitting on the pit box," said Stewart, who battled back from a severe back injury at the start of his final season. "I'll actually be able to really focus on what's going on and … move around and listen to each car and what they're fighting during the day and hopefully being able to have some input that can help." But "Smoke" fans, never fear: Stewart will still be at the race track. The three-time champion NASCAR driver plans on racing nearly 80 late model, sprint cars and three-quarter midget races this season, along with managing his race team, co-owned with Gene Haas. Stewart expects to attend nearly all the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup races in 2017, where he’ll be able to offer guidance to the teams of Kevin Harvick , Kurt Busch , Danica Patrick and Clint Bowyer , the new driver of the No. 14 ride. RELATED: Top moments in SHR history Wearing a large smile on Wednesday, Bowyer’s high spirits conveyed his excitement about racing the No. 14 car -- and his new team owner. "To be honest with you, it's been a breath of fresh air," Bowyer said on having Stewart as his car owner. "I didn't know what he was like as an owner, I only knew what he was like as a person hanging out and things like that. "But man, I'm telling you, at the shop at the Christmas party this year -- he showed up as Santa Claus, by the way, and the outfit fit him perfect -- but Santa Claus interacted and made everyone feel at home. Those are his people and he treated them as his people and it showed me, you could just see how much they embraced that and enjoyed that interaction with him and what it meant to them." The NASCAR world has known that Bowyer was next in line for the No. 14 crown since the end of Sepember 2015. But that reality seemed to sink in when Bowyer's name glistened above the door of the new No. 14 Ford today -- No more "Smoke." Tony's OK with that. "It's not that weird, honestly," Stewart said. " … I'm proud to see his name above the door and proud to see what he can do. The part that's been shocking is going back to my sprint car shop and seeing them put my name on cars this week because they're decaling our cars for the season. I haven't been used to that for a couple years now, so I'm excited about both sides of it." It's a ground of familiarity for Stewart, whose background is rooted in dirt track racing. But as he hasn’t driven a sprint car in two and a half years, the 45-year-old isn't sure what to expect of his results on track this season. Dare he say he's like a rookie again? "I know it sounds like I'm a rookie driver, but I kind of feel like one," Stewart said. "(My schedule) depends on how I'm progressing really … I think there's going to be some races that we are going to announce coming up pretty soon that are races that I've been looking forward to going to that I've not had a chance to run before. So there's a bunch of tracks and a bunch of events that I've not raced at before that I'm going to finally get to go to." RELATED: SHR transition among key story lines to watch for in '17 Where the long-term future holds for Stewart the driver is yet to be seen, as he jokes that he's thrown a curveball in probably every offseason since joining forces with Haas. But right now, it's about his team. "I'm going straight to the shop from here," Stewart said. "I'm excited to see how much is done versus the last time I was there. Everybody says we have a long way to go, but we've come a long way. I think I'm going to be very pleasantly surprised when I get there." &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;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;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;
Rick Ware Racing to field Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series team
THOMASVILLE, N.C. -- Officials from Rick Ware Racing (RWR) announced today the team’s intent to compete in the 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series as an "open non-chartered" team beginning with next month's 59th annual Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway . RWR's return to the elite level of NASCAR will have Timmy Hill aboard the No. 51 Chevrolet for Speedweeks with a rotating list of drivers to follow throughout the season including longtime RWR drivers Stanton Barrett , Cody Ware and road course veteran Kevin O’Connell to name a few. "We've been eyeing our return to the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series since the end of last year," said RWR team principal Rick Ware. "We knew with the competition level stronger than ever, we needed to take the steps to make sure we could come to the track and be as competitive as possible, while focused on building our organization as the season presses on.” RWR also announced the team has acquired assets from Tommy Baldwin Racing (TBR) for use this season, including cars, pulldown rig and technology support. Additionally, longtime industry veteran Joe Lax, also previously with TBR will serve as crew chief, while pro-motor engineering (PME) will supply the horsepower during the season. Furthermore, Mike Hillman Sr., a longtime fixture in NASCAR joins RWR in a newly created role as team consultant. "I feel like we've done a great job getting our stars aligned for this year," Ware added. "Between acquiring cars from Tommy Baldwin Racing and having a good open relationship with them, plus being able to bring key personnel aboard who have the desire and drive to make our team the best it's ever been. "One component I'm really proud about is our initiative to bring our body work in-house. We really have hired some talented and experienced personnel overall and I couldn't be more excited to get our season underway." Hill is hopeful to make his "World Center of Racing" debut in next month's Super Bowl event. The 23-year-old hopes to make his 49th Cup race in his first ever Daytona 500 . Despite no Cup starts at Daytona, the Port Tobacco, Maryland native has four XFINITY starts at the 2.5-mile oval with two career top-10 finishes including back-to-back top-10 runs for Rick Ware Racing in 2012 with a career-best seventh in the season-opening race. "I'm thankful to continue my relationship with Rick Ware Racing for the 2017 season," said Hill. "I've always wanted the chance to compete in the Daytona 500 and thanks to Rick and Lisa (Ware), I'll have that opportunity. It won't be easy, but as a team and Joe (Lax) leading the way, we’re focused and will give it all we have and hope we’ll be one of the 40 cars running in the Daytona 500 !" In addition to their effort in the Cup Series, Rick Ware Racing will also compete in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) this season with recently announced driver Spencer Boyd at the wheel. Sponsorship for the team’s Cup entry will be announced at a later date. </p>
Childress' Hall of Fame career: 'only in America'
Richard Childress talks about living the American dream during his induction speech at the NASCAR Hall of Fame.
Ford Performance announces NASCAR driver development program
Ford Performance announced Thursday another major push in its NASCAR initiative, launching a driver development program ahead of the 2017 season. The first phase includes an agreement with Brad Keselowski Racing, placing new Ford signee Chase Briscoe in a full-time ride in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series . Ford Performance indicated that other stages of the driver development program would be announced at a later time. The program is designed to cultivate home-grown talent for all Ford teams in NASCAR. According to the news release, current teams will be consulted about driver selection and placement, but their contractual ties will reside with Ford, which will also use signees in product development and testing. "We're making a commitment to win long-term in NASCAR," Dave Pericak, Ford Performance's global director, said in a release provided by the manufacturer. "We have been increasing our engineering support and our technological development at the team level, and now we're looking to work with our teams to find the best available drivers coming up in the sport." The move further strengthens the ties with the automaker and team owner Brad Keselowski , which will field Ford trucks full-time for Austin Cindric and now Briscoe this season. Briscoe, a 22-year-old Indiana native with a rich sprint-car racing pedigree, landed the ARCA championship in 2016, riding a six-win season to the series crown. "This is a big day in the history of BKR," Keselowski said in the news release. "To be recognized as a true partner to Ford and Ford Performance and what they are trying to do speaks directly to the hard work our team has put in over the last several years. It is an honor, frankly, and it is really what BKR is all about -- providing young, talented drivers with championship-caliber equipment to continue to hone their craft and showcase their talents. "We have been fortunate to have had a lot of success together with Ford across the three major NASCAR touring series and to now elevate that relationship in an official capacity is a testament to what we set out to do." The move marks the second significant boost for Ford's racing program ahead of the season. Stewart-Haas Racing 's four-car organization has joined the Blue Oval camp for 2017, helping Ford Performance increase its numbers in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series garage. That expansion also included the birth of a NASCAR XFINITY Series program for SHR, with Cole Custer competing full-time and Kevin Harvick driving on a part-time basis. </p>