- Did you mean:
Being a crew chief 'the next best thing' for Kendrick
RELATED: Complete schedule " See the series standings STATESVILLE, N.C. – There's a huge difference between going fast and racing. Chad Kendrick says he was very good at the former, but the latter took some time to figure out. Today, the split-second decisions he makes come from atop the pit box, where Kendrick is crew chief for driver Daniel Hemric and the No. 19 Ford of Brad Keselowski Racing in NASCAR's Camping World Truck Series. But there was a time at South Boston Speedway when the Late Models were hauling the mail around the 4/10th-mile oval … "It was the best race I was ever having," Kendrick, a native of Durham, North Carolina, said recently. "I was running fifth and Denny was leading. He spun or did something and had to go to the back." "Denny," of course, was Denny Hamlin , this year's Daytona 500 champion and winner of 27 NASCAR premier series races for Joe Gibbs Racing . "He drove right back through the field," Kendrick said. "I'm fourth now (after Hamlin went to the rear); he catches me and he's not wasting time; he just knocks me out of the way. I was so mad … my tongue's hanging out and I'm giving it everything I've got and this kid is just gone. And I can't catch him." Hamlin, Kendrick and a host of others cut their racing teeth on tracks such as South Boston, trying to race their way out of anonymity. South Boston and Langley and Orange County and Southern National have helped make stars and have just as likely crushed dreams. Hamlin might have had a better car on this particular day. But he might have had something else as well. "It kind of hit me then – 'Alright, I don’t have what they have,'" Kendrick said. "I can go run a good lap. But I can't run that lap 150 (times) in a row. I can't do some of the things they can do. "I would love to tell you if I'd had the money … but I don't think so. I maybe could have won a race here or there. But I don't have what Brad (Keselowski) has or Ryan (Blaney) or even Daniel -- I don't have what those guys have. I don't know what it is and I don't know where they get it from, but something's there that just clicks. They have it. This was the next best thing." RELATED: Sustainability goes from top to bottom with Penske, Keselowski Hamlin succeeded, eventually moving on from the small local venues to become a bona fide NASCAR star. Kendrick made his way out, too, but in a slightly different fashion. Kendrick is no anomaly. The NASCAR garage has its share of crew chiefs who raced and then, for one reason or another, eventually hung up their helmets. Crew chiefs Paul Wolfe (Keselowski) and Rodney Childers ( Kevin Harvick ) raced, as did Matt McCall ( Jamie McMurray ) and Greg Ives ( Dale Earnhardt Jr .) There were other stops along the way for most, other tasks to complete and other lessons to be learned. Kendrick's move to the pit box began innocently enough –- Timothy Peters , one of his former rivals from back in the Late Model days – offered him his first crew chief position prior to 2008. The two had worked together previously at Bobby Hamilton Racing (BHR). "I probably learned 75 percent of everything I know about racing from Bobby," Kendrick said of the 2004 Truck Series champion. "He was really good … if you wanted to know, wanted to learn and grow, he was there for you. Very open and just an awesome guy. … "I loved working for him. I actually compare working here to working for Bobby." Other stops followed and their paths wouldn't cross again until Peters called one day with an offer. A partial deal would put Peters on the track and Kendrick on the pit box. "He said, 'By the way, you're going to be the crew chief, the only mechanic, the only guy …" Kendrick said of Peters' proposition. How difficult could that be? Kendrick was about to find out. The two made only a handful of starts in '08 and by the next season, the team added a second truck for a few races just to start and park and stay afloat financially. When NASCAR instituted a new pit procedure rule for the Truck Series in '09, things didn't get any easier. "That was the year that you did pit stops where you couldn't do fuel and tires at the same time," he said. "We never had enough people. I was the crew chief, I would jack on the tire stop, come back, throw the helmet and apron on, and fuel (the truck) during the fuel stop." The saving grace was a midseason call from Red Horse Racing owner Tom DeLoach, who wanted both Peters and Kendrick for his organization. The payoff came a few months later, in late October at Martinsville. Peters led 84 laps en route to his first series victory. It was Kendrick's first win as a crew chief, and remains his most memorable. "One, it was at Martinsville with Timothy," he said. "He and I had been through so much. … Going through all that and to get him his first win just meant a lot. "The win last year (at Bristol Motor Speedway ) with Blaney was the most exciting. It was the most dominant truck I've ever had and special in that as soon as we unloaded for practice, it was 'OK, we’re the truck to beat.' Blaney qualified on the outside of the front row and led the first 37 circuits at Bristol before a penalty for jumping the restart send him to the rear of the field. "Then he drives all the way back through the field and wins the race," Kendrick said. "That one was just really cool. You can be the best truck and you don't win because your crew had a bad stop or something breaks or somebody gets into you … anything. The smallest things can happen. … But Ryan got determined. So that one is up there." Kendrick's six wins have come with five different drivers – Peters, Blaney (2), John King , Parker Kligerman and Joey Logano . "I wanted to give Brad his first (Truck) win," Kendrick said, adding it was a "big battle" between he and fellow Brad Keselowski Racing crew chief Doug Randolph. But it was Randolph calling the shots when the team owner/driver made it to the winner’s circle, also at Bristol in 2014 "Just a couple of weeks ago, Brad gave Joey the truck we won with last year at Martinsville. I told Joey 'Don’t ever run another truck race,'" Kendrick said. "Because I'm probably not going to be known for much of anything, but at least I can tell my grandkids I gave Joey Logano his only truck win.' Doesn’t mean a lot, but …" RELATED: Inside the new Chase format for the series Now, he'll try to add Hemric to his list of winning drivers. Hemric, 25, is in his first season with the organization and sits seventh in points after three races. Teammate Tyler Reddick , 20, is a two-time race winner and driver of the team’s No. 29 with the veteran Randolph calling the shots. He's 16th in points. Next up for the series is the Toyota Tundra 250 at Kansas Speedway (Friday, May 6, 8:30 p.m. ET, FS1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio), the first of a three-week swing that includes stops at Dover International Speedway and Charlotte Motor Speedway . Kendrick said both drivers are ready to get back on the track. Expectations remain high. "At the front end of the year I would have told you we’d have a win by now," he said. "I really thought we would. We've had brand new trucks all three races. "I know we’ll win a race, both of our guys. I don't think stretch to say we'll win 2-3 in a row, between our teams."
Ty Dillon to qualify for Tony Stewart at Talladega
Ty Dillon said Wednesday that he plans to qualify Stewart-Haas Racing 's No. 14 Chevrolet as part of his relief efforts for owner/driver Tony Stewart this weekend at Talladega Superspeedway . Dillon told SiriusXM NASCAR Radio that he's discussed a preliminary game plan with No. 14 crew chief Mike Bugarewicz to split time in the cockpit with Stewart, who made his season debut last Sunday at Richmond after missing the first eight NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races of 2016 with a broken back.
Petty family prepares for Ride Across America
LEVEL CROSS, N.C. (April 21, 2016) -- For the first time in its history, Kyle Petty will be joined by his three sisters and legendary father during the Kyle Petty Charity Ride Across America, one of the most successful and popular charity rides in the country, for its 22nd annual motorcycle trek. Petty will ride alongside his sisters, Sharon, Lisa, Rebecca and father, "The King" Richard during the ride presented by Manheim. The ride engages celebrities, motorcycle enthusiasts, fans, and local communities to raise funds and awareness for Victory Junction, a camp for kids with serious health care needs. Petty will lead his wife, father, sisters and his extended "charity ride family" of approximately 200 riders on a route starting in Palm Springs, California on April 30 and ending in Biloxi, Mississippi on May 6. "We've been doing this for over 20 years and I've never had all my sisters and father with me on the ride," said Petty. "So, that makes this ride even more special for our family. We've all been busy doing different things, but this year we were all able to get this on everyone's calendar. Family, friends, having a good time together and making memories is what this ride is all about and having all my sisters and father with us will make the experience that much better. I'm really looking forward to it." The ride will be supported through social media channels by Richard Petty Motorsports , Richard Petty Museum, Petty Family Foundation and Petty's Garage. Fans can visit these respective Facebook, Twitter and Instagram sites for photos of the ride along its route. Twenty two years ago, Petty combined his passion for helping others with his love of motorcycles to create the Ride. Since 1995, more than 7,750 riders have logged 11.4 million cumulative motorcycle miles and raised $16.5 million for Victory Junction and other children's charities. "The Ride continues to be an overwhelming success thanks to the passion and commitment of our riders and sponsors, a majority of which join in the Ride and support the cause year over year," said Petty. "Thanks to their continued support, the Ride has been able to send more than 7,880 children to Victory Junction at no cost their families." Since its inception by Petty and his family in 2004, in honor of his son Adam Petty, Victory Junction has served as the Ride's primary beneficiary. Located on 84 acres in Randleman, North Carolina, Victory Junction exists to enrich the lives of children with chronic or life-threatening illnesses by creating camping experiences that are memorable, fun, empowering, physically safe and medically sound. Fans and spectators along the Ride's route may contribute to the "Small Change. Big Impact." program, which accepts donations at local stops. To keep up with Petty and the riders live, follow the Ride and Petty on social media: Facebook: www.facebook.com/kpcharityride and www.facebook.com/kylepetty45 Instagram: www.instagram.com/kpcharityride and www.instagram.com/kylepetty Twitter: www.twitter.com/kpcharityride and www.twitter.com/kylepetty For more information about the 22nd Anniversary Kyle Petty Charity Ride Across America or to make a contribution, please visit www.kylepettycharityride.com .
Kahne and able: With recent success, Hendrick driver poised for career revival
RICHMOND, Va. -- For the second time in three weeks, Kasey Kahne finished among the top 10 in Sprint Cup Series competition. There was a time in his career that would have been par for the course. Right now, it’s an extremely encouraging sign of renewal. Kahne is coming off his best finish of the still-early 2016 season -- a fourth-place run at Richmond International Raceway on Sunday. And it already equals his top effort of 2015 (three fourth-place showings) and puts him in reasonable position to better the mark of three top-five finishes he scored in both the 2014 and 2015 seasons. Simply put, it appears that Kahne, the 2004 Rookie of the Year, is back on track. His team regained the mojo that he regularly demonstrated just a few years ago with double-digit top-five runs (in 2012 and 2013) and multi-win seasons. It’s the kind of can-do that resulted in him being hired by the esteemed Hendrick Motorsports organization to compete under its banner for the 2012 season. And it’s meeting the high expectations that this powerhouse team has, considering Kahne’s teammates include six-time Cup champion Jimmie Johnson , perennial winner and the sport’s Most Popular Driver Dale Earnhardt Jr . and the sport’s newest whiz kid, Chase Elliott , who replaced retired four-time champion Jeff Gordon ahead of this season. Listen to Kahne speak about the uptick in his finishing order and you might be surprised to hear the driver talk as much about the importance of good kumbaya as the comfort of having the best equipment in the garage. It’s the people that Kahne thinks make the difference. And while that may be a popular catchphrase, Kahne is convinced the belief in his team -- and second-year crew chief Keith Rodden -- truly has restored his course and energized the crew. "It just starts with the attitudes of everybody, from myself to the team," Kahne said. "How we all appreciate each other, work together, know that each particular person is there for a reason and is really good at what each one of us does. I think it’s more being together, being a group, a solid team. To me that started three, four weeks ago, and each week it seems to get better from the previous week. We’re going to keep heading in that direction. "I think the closer you get as a group, the closer you get with your crew chief, your engineers, the guys on pit road, the car chief, the guys building the race car, all of that is communication to me. All of that kind of makes the whole race on Sunday better when you are better in those areas." Judging by the results of Kahne’s No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet team of late, it would be hard to argue with the philosophy. And while next week’s race at Talladega Superspeedway is typically considered a roll of the dice, Kahne has run well there -- even scoring runner-up finishes in 2006 and 2009. And he is even better at Kansas and Charlotte, where the series heads after Talladega. Kahne has four wins at Charlotte -- including a sweep of the 2006 season there -- and Kansas was one of his three top-five finishes in 2015. He has three pole positions in Kansas and five top-five finishes in his last nine races there. Although Kahne is hardly saying his team has "arrived," he does like the direction it has taken. This past weekend at Richmond, for example, Kahne qualified eighth and was second-fastest in final practice -- so the race result was not an anomaly. "When you have each other’s backs, you work together as a team and you keep getting better," Kahne said. "That’s where we’ve been. That’s where we’ve been excelling at. "I think there’s kind of consistency on the whole weekend. There’s more times I look at the scoring pylon and I’m at the top half rather than the bottom half -- whether it’s one of the practices, qualifying or race. "I think it’s a slow process, really. We were so far gone there for a little while, it takes time to start getting back to where we need to be. "We’re heading in that direction now, so it’s really nice.’"
Dale Jr. holds off Ty Dillon for XFINITY win at Richmond
RELATED: Full race results " Updated series standings RICHMOND, Va. -- After a massive late-race wreck scrambled the running order in Saturday's ToyotaCare 250 , Dale Earnhardt Jr . survived a two-lap dash in overtime to win his first NASCAR XFINITY Series race since 2010 and the first in his own JR Motorsports equipment. Earnhardt held off Ty Dillon by .266 seconds in a main event that ran nine laps past its scheduled distance of 140 laps, but Dillon collected the $100,000 Dash 4 Cash bonus available to the two highest finishes among XFINITY Series regulars from each of the two heats that preceded the main event. The victory was Earnhardt's fourth at Richmond -- his first at the .75-mile short track since 2002 -- and the 24th of his career. Earnhardt's last win in the series came in the July 2010 race at Daytona in a No. 3 Chevrolet owned by Richard Childress. Earnhardt has not driven the No. 3, the number closely associated with his father, since that victory. On Saturday, he drove the No. 88 Chevrolet in his last scheduled start of the season for JR Motorsports. Though Earnhardt led 128 of the 149 laps after passing Erik Jones for the top spot on Lap 18, the final two were a challenge, with Dillon restarting beside him for the two-lap overtime. "Those last couple of laps, we were real loose in the corner," Earnhardt said. "I thought Ty was going to get to me -- he tried to get to me. When we got to (Turn 3), we drove into the corner wide-open." But Dillon couldn't pull even with Earnhardt, who cleared Dillon's No. 3 Chevrolet off Turn 4 on the first overtime lap. "We came up a little short, but we're going to get one soon," Dillon said. Dillon wouldn't have had a shot at the win at all, had a nine-car pileup on Lap 134 not bunched the field and necessitated the overtime. The wreck came moments after a restart, with Brennan Poole leading the field to the green. Poole had stayed out on old tires when Earnhardt and the rest of the lead-lap drivers came to pit road for fresh rubber under caution on Lap 127. Earnhardt restarted third behind Poole and JR Motorsports teammate Justin Allgaier , but when Poole spun his tires, Earnhardt dived to the inside approaching Turn 1, creating a three-wide lead group. After side-by-side contact with Earnhardt's No. 88, Poole's No. 48 Chevrolet washed up the track, clipped and turned Allgaier's No. 7 and ignited a chain-reaction wreck that damaged three of the four cars eligible for the Dash 4 Cash bonus – those of Poole, Allgaier and Jones. "When he spun the tires, I had to go to the inside," Earnhardt said. "I tried not to drive up into him – I don't think I got into him. They just kind of came together up there (in the outside lane) and had a heck of a wreck. "I hate that it happened, but, man, I had to do what I had to do to try to get the win. We ran so well and led all those laps." Elliott Sadler came home third, followed by series leader Daniel Suárez, who leaves Richmond nine points ahead of Sadler in second. Austin Dillon ran fifth and Cole Custer sixth in Custer's XFINITY Series debut. Poole brought his damaged car home in 10th.
Stewart eager for more after Richmond return
RELATED: Race results " At-track photos RICHMOND, Va. -- Tony Stewart drove his Chevrolet onto Richmond International Raceway 's pit road this bright, sunny Sunday afternoon and after taking his helmet off and climbing out of the car, was all grins -- proudly declaring he could have raced another 400 miles. Stewart's day -- and his 19th-place finish -- was nothing but encouraging for the three-time champion making his first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series start of the year. "Smoke" missed the first eight races of what is his final season, recovering from a broken back suffered in a pre-season all-terrain vehicle (ATV) accident. RELATED: Full coverage of Stewart's injury, comeback Leaning back against his car, Stewart was upbeat and excited while speaking with reporters at the track post-race. He sipped his Coca-Cola and reflected on his long-awaited, highly anticipated return to the NASCAR driving seat with the kind of positive vibes equal to that of a race winner. "I love this job," he declared. "If you asked me how I felt, I would be perfectly content to have them just line us up and start another 400-mile race right now. I can promise you I can outlast a bunch of these guys. "I could run 800 more laps and still out-race a bunch of these guys. If anyone thinks we've lost something, we haven't lost (expletive)." MORE: Hear 'Smoke' on the radio It was exactly the kind of confidence, high expectation and bravado that has characterized Stewart's storied racing career. It's also why the Richmond crowd gave him a standing ovation during driver introductions and why so many NASCAR fans are counting on the 48-time winner to finish his remarkable career on top. Or at least making a darn good run at it. RELATED: Relive all of Stewart's w ins Stewart described his weekend back behind the wheel as feeling "like an old pair of shoes" and said it only took him about 10 laps "to get reacclimated" with the car and his team. Starting mid-pack, he ended up spending most of the race trying to earn the free pass to get back on the lead lap and, maddeningly, he would be one position shy of the lucky dog spot time-after-time. At one point as he fought hard to stay on the lead lap and dueled with then-race leader -- and eventual Toyota Owners 400 winner -- Carl Edwards to hold onto position. Edwards said after the race that he was impressed with Stewart's effort. "I was real happy he was back until about five laps into that battle," Edwards said smiling. "Let me tell you, the guy is competitive. I was thinking during that, what a heckuva run to have (the) first time back in the driver's seat. It's great to have him back." "I made it interesting for him for about 15 laps," Stewart proudly told his team on the radio after being lapped by Edwards a quarter of the way into the 400-lap event. After the race Stewart said, "I felt like we ran a good race. "It's so chaotic on the re-starts and I had a plan and I would try to execute my plan, but I zigged when I should have zagged every time for about four straight re-starts. "You just didn't know exactly where you needed to be, but that stuff will come." It wasn't just Stewart's first time turning laps this year, it was also his first time working with his new crew chief Mike Bugarewicz and the No. 14 driver seemed encouraged about that relationship too after the race. "Being on the pit box with him and listening to him communicate really helped a bunch," Stewart said of his time spent out of the car this season. "I think being as active with him as I could up to this point, really shortened the learning curve up. "I know he's going to sit there when we're done and wonder, 'what could I have done to communicate different?' Really it was nice and just felt like it clicked so I don't think there's a big learning curve there. We get this car a little better and we're going to have a lot of fun with it." Stewart said that -- shortly after his comeback announcement -- he won't compete in the full 500-miler at Talladega Superspeedway next weekend, per doctor's orders. But he will qualify the car, start the race and then hand over the steering wheel to Ty Dillon , who made three starts in Stewart's Chevrolet while the veteran was recovering. From there, it's all Stewart, all the time. And he proved Sunday that he is not only back, but very glad to be back. "I felt like I was doing everything I needed to do," Stewart said. "And I bet you go up and down this pit road and ask those guys if they think I'm back and they'd be shaking their heads and going, 'I don't think that he was ever gone.' " MORE: Stewart granted Chaise wa iver
Amelia flies again: No. 88 car restored for 'Dega
Amelia is back. The No. 88 Chevrolet for Dale Earnhardt Jr ., a car so good on superspeedway tracks that it earned its own name, has apparently been restored from a Daytona 500 wreck. According to team crew chief Greg Ives, she'll be back on the track this weekend. For all those asking, it is time. Amelia will be making her return to the track this weekend. @TeamHendrick did a great job fixing her up. — Greg Ives (@Ives_Greg) April 25, 2016 Amelia -- formally known as Chassis No. 88-872 -- has been Earnhardt Jr.'s primary car for the past five races at Daytona and Talladega. In 2015, Earnhardt Jr. won twice in four restrictor-plate events, with one win at Daytona and one at Talladega. He finished third ( Daytona 500 ) and second in the fall Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Talladega. In the 2016 Daytona 500 , Earnhardt Jr. was charging toward the front of the field when his car whipped around on him and smashed the inside barrier, crumpling sheet metal and denting the frame. He would finish 36th in the race. “We're going to have Amelia ... I’m excited about that," Earnhardt said in this week's "The Dale Jr. Download" on Dirty Mo Radio. "We know how she ran last year. We've just got to run Talladega like we have to win it, just like we did the last time we were there. We did a good job. "If we run it like that, we'll be up front at the end." WATCH: Daytona wreck cripples car Amelia, named after Amelia Earhart, became something of a Junior Nation sensation when Dale Jr. revealed he had named the car. "A car gets named when you drive it long enough to see a personality, typically," Earnhardt said earlier in 2016. "… The fact that we're going to keep running it, I said, 'We gotta name it' and we were thinking of a woman who has accomplished something that was an awesome person that was something we could be proud of. "Amelia Earhart was the first thing that came to my mind."
Perfect conditions for a Smoke-show at Richmond
Tony Stewart talks about his return to the Sprint Cup Series as he prepares to race for the first time in 2016.
Five to Watch: Sleepers for the GEICO 500
Five drivers who could pull a spring upset at Talladega Superspeedway
Junior's sandwich project raises nearly $160K total
Dale Earnhardt Jr .'s infamous banana-and-mayo sandwich turned into a $159,935.33 fundraising endeavor. The No. 88 driver announced on April 7 that JR Motorsports would be turning his favorite lunch sandwich into an opportunity to raise money for Blessings in a Backpack, a nonprofit organization that raises funds to help provide food for hungry elementary school-age children across America. After nearly three weeks of donations to the fundraiser's website DaleJrSandwich.com , Junior took to Twitter to announce the total amount raised. That banana sandwich raised $159,935.33 total. Thanks to all who donated. @BlessinBackpack @Hellmanns — Dale Earnhardt Jr . (@DaleJr) April 26, 2016 This announcement comes on the heels of Earnhardt's XFINITY Series win at Richmond International Raceway , when he took the checkered flag driving the No. 88 Hellmann's Chevrolet. Earnhardt toasted the win in Victory Lane by chowing down on a banana-and-mayo sandwich. Donations to the Dale Junior Foundation will continue to be accepted at thedalejrfoundation.org . WATCH: Junior eats favorite sandwich in Victory Lane