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Leavine Family Racing secures Sprint Cup Series charter
MORE: Buy tickets for Homestead-Miami Championship Weekend NASCAR Sprint Cup Series team owner Tommy Baldwin said Thursday that this weekend's event at Homestead-Miami Speedway will be the last as a full-time organization for his single-car outfit. The former crew chief said in a post on Facebook that "we felt it's time for a new chapter in our lives and we have sold our charter to a great group of people who will continue to guide our vision." According to a release from Leaving Family Racing , which currently runs under the Circle Sport Leavine Family Racing name, LFR has purchased the charter from Tommy Baldwin Racing . No purchase price was announced. Baldwin's team currently fields the No. 7 Chevrolet with driver Regan Smith . The team was formed following the departure of Bill Davis Racing , for whom Baldwin served as crew chief, in 2009. It has just two top-five finishes in nearly 400 starts, the most recent coming at Pocono this year when Smith finished third. "For the past eight years we've shown up at every race, worked hard to compete at the top level and bring value to our sponsors," Baldwin wrote. "I feel confident that we are moving on having accomplished that. There have been many teams like ours that have come and gone. I'm proud that we have been able to sustain ourselves from the very beginning. … "If you're reading this, you already know that NASCAR is the greatest sport in the world. I have been blessed to have a career in motorsports because of how NASCAR has grown over the years." Baldwin went on to say that he isn't sure what the future holds; fielding a part-time team wasn't mentioned but neither was closing the team entirely. Securing the charter means that the LFR team, which currently fields the No. 95 Chevrolet for driver Michael McDowell , will be guaranteed a starting spot in each race next season. " Leavine Family Racing is committed to continued growth on and off the race track," owner Bob Leavine said. "The charter is a meaningful step forward for our team and provides us further stability as we look towards success in 2017 and beyond. We are confident that the purchase of the charter and continued improvement on the track will lead to increased revenue opportunities."
McDowell to return to Leavine Family Racing full time in '17
CONCORD, N.C. (January 5, 2017) -- Leavine Family Racing (LFR) is excited to announce the return of veteran NASCAR driver Michael McDowell for the 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season. McDowell will once again pilot the No. 95 Chevrolet SS and is signed on to be the primary driver for LFR in all 36 races next season, making the team Chase eligible for the first time since its inception in 2011. Additionally, LFR is excited to welcome back championship winning NASCAR crew chief Todd Parrott for the 2017 season. Parrott, who took on the crew chief responsibilities for the team full time in October of the 2016 season with only seven races remaining, led the No. 95 to earn six Top-25 finishes. "With both Michael and Todd returning to the team this season we are looking to maintain the consistency we found towards the end of last year and continue to push forward and build off the positive momentum," said Jeremy Lange, Vice President of Leavine Family Racing . "We had great performances on the track last year and we're hoping that continuing in that direction will lead to more sponsorships for the team. We do have some partner renewals that we will be announcing soon and are excited to add more." McDowell, who is entering his 10th year competing in NASCAR, earned his first NASCAR national touring series win last year at Road America in the XFINITY Series and recorded 16 Top-25 finishes with LFR in 2016. "I'm excited to be returning full time with LFR for the 2017 season," stated McDowell. "I look forward to continuing to work with Todd as well and kicking off our season with a strong start at the Daytona 500 in February." Crew Chief Todd Parrott echoed his driver's thoughts about the upcoming season. "I can't wait for the 2017 season to get here and look forward to having a great year with Michael and the team," said Parrott. "I'm appreciative of the opportunity LFR has given me to once again assume the crew chief role for the team and am ready to get started on the upcoming season." LFR will kick off the 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season with the 59th running of the Daytona 500 on Sunday, February 26. For real-time updates on and off the track, fans can follow @LFR95 on Twitter and Leavine Family Racing on Facebook.
Leavine Family Racing , Circle Sport merge for full slate
RELATED: See the changes for the 2016 CONCORD, N.C. (January 21, 2016) -- Leavine Family Racing (LFR) will join forces with Circle Sport Racing to run the full 36-race schedule in the 2016 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS). In addition, the race team will enter into an alliance with Richard Childress Racing (RCR) and will make the switch to run Chevrolet SS race cars powered by ECR Engines this race season. Veteran driver Michael McDowell , who is entering his third season driving for Leavine Family Racing , will be the primary driver and compete in at least 26 NSCS races in 2016. RCR driver Ty Dillon , who finished third in the 2015 NASCAR XFINITY Series Championship, will pilot the team's entry for the remaining NSCS races. Specific races for each driver are being determined but both drivers will enter the Daytona 500 . Leavine Family Racing team owner Bob Leavine has been preparing to take the team from a partial schedule to the full series schedule since the team’s inception. The 2016 season proved to be the perfect time to make the leap, thanks in part to the new alliance with Joe Falk's Circle Sport Racing team and technical alliance with Richard Childress Racing . "The manufacturer and alliance switch provides our team with the best opportunity to improve on-track performance and to create long-term sustainability," said Leavine . "This was the right time for us to make this change. We have been turning over every stone looking for the right plan for our team and our people in 2016, and we've finally found a great fit that's going to help us continue to grow both on the track and as an organization." Joe Falk, owner of Circle Sport Racing , had been an owner in NASCAR starting in the late 1990's. Circle Sport competed in its first race in 2012 and has been associated with Richard Childress Racing during that time. "I'm happy to be working with Bob ( Leavine ) and the team to combine our efforts for a successful 2016 and beyond," said Falk. "We've put together a top notch program obtaining all cars and engines from RCR." McDowell is entering his ninth season as a driver in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and is scheduled to make his 200th start in 2016. “This is a big step for our competition program,” said McDowell. “The technical alliance with Richard Childress Racing is a huge asset to our growing team and we’ll have access to some of the top equipment in the Cup Series. This type of alliance has worked really well for single-car teams such as JTG Racing and Germain Racing in the past and I’m excited about what we’re going to be able to do in 2016.” Primary sponsorship of the No. 95 Chevrolet SS will include Thrivent Financial, K-LOVE Radio and Cheerios Brand. Circle Sport - Leavine Family Racing is seeking additional sponsorship to fill out the season. Circle Sport - Leavine Family Racing will kick off their first full season in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series with Daytona Speedweeks in February 2016.
RCR forms technical alliance with Circle Sport-Leavine Family Racing
RELATED: See the changes for the 2016 CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Ty Dillon is set to expand his Sprint Cup Series horizons, signing on to the newly-merged Circle Sport- Leavine Family Racing team in 2016 for an undetermined number of races. Richard Childress Racing , owned by Dillon's grandfather and organizational namesake, and Circle Sport- Leavine Family Racing have agreed to form a technical alliance in NASCAR Sprint Cup Series competition, beginning with the 2016 season with drivers Dillon and Michael McDowell . The partnership includes technology sharing, engineering, research and development provided to Circle Sport- Leavine Family Racing as they switch its No. 95 Sprint Cup Series cars to Chevrolet beginning with the 2016 season. Circle Sport- Leavine Family Racing will also benefit from utilizing ECR Engines. Dillon will run select races, including the Daytona 500 , for Circle Sport - Leavine Family Racing in 2016, while McDowell will be the primary driver for the team. "This is a big step for our competition program," said McDowell in a team release. "The technical alliance with Richard Childress Racing is a huge asset to our growing team and we'll have access to some of the top equipment in the Cup Series. This type of alliance has worked really well for single-car teams such as JTG-Daugherty Racing and Germain Racing in the past and I'm excited about what we're going to be able to do in 2016." For Dillon, a favorite to win his first XFINITY Series championship behind the wheel of RCR's No. 3 entry, it's a chance to expand on a brief Cup slate in 2015 in which he picked up a better finish than his starting position in each of his five appearances. At the very least, it's a chance to expand his overall racing knowledge as he looks to lock up a title he nearly had last year with an eye on a full-time Cup ride in 2017. "Every time I get an opportunity to run the Cup Series, I use it to add notes to my notebook for hopefully a full season to come," Dillon said Wednesday at the NASCAR Hall of Fame as part of Charlotte Motor Speedway Media Tour. "I can't thank the Leavine family and Joe Falk and Circle Sport enough for giving me the opportunity to run some races in the Cup Series this year. I want to do the best I can with them. I want to go out there and take this team and show people what we're made of ... run with it and get some really good finishes. I know I can do it at this level and I'm ready to show people." All of Dillon's seven Cup starts (he made two in 2014) have come with Circle Sport, behind the wheel of the No. 33, so familiarity certainly won't be an issue. Sharing a ride with a fellow driver, however, may be a different story. Luckily the 23-year-old knows the value in the extra feedback that McDowell can give and thinks it can be beneficial to his overall driving ability. "Michael is a great, accomplished racer and he's been running in the Cup Series for a while now," Dillon said. "He's a really, extremely good road racer so hopefully I can lean on him for that a little bit and just grow a relationship that I have with him." According to the team, McDowell is expected to run at least 26 of the season's 36 races, with Dillon's slate expected to be anywhere from six to 16. Both drivers will be in certain races, starting with the season-opening Daytona 500 (Feb. 21, 1 p.m. ET, FOX).
Wally Rogers, Leavine Family Racing part ways
DARLINGTON, S.C. -- Leavine Family Racing announced Friday morning that crew chief Wally Rogers is no longer with the team. The organization did not name a replacement for the No. 95 Ford and driver Michael McDowell . The Bob Leavine -owned team is not participating at Darlington Raceway this weekend, but will return to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series for the Federated Auto Parts 400 on Sept. 12 (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) as part of the team's part-time schedule. "We appreciate everything Wally has done for this organization," Leavine said in a release provided by the team. "I'm committed to growing this race team and improving our on-track performance. Looking ahead to 2016, we are putting the pieces in place to improve the overall performance of this race team." Rogers had been with the team since its Sprint Cup debut in 2011. He helped guide the team to its best-ever finish -- seventh at Daytona in July 2014 -- in McDowell's first season with the operation.
Circle Sport - Leavine Family Racing
Get information on the Leavine Family Racing team and drivers Michael McDowell and Ty Dillon
Leavine Family Racing returns to its shop
After months of repairs, LFR back home at site of May fire Related: Shop fire sees Leavine move to Penske facility " Cleanup continues at LFR shop After a fire significantly damaged the Leavine Family Racing shop in May, the team is finally back in its old stomping grounds after months of repair. For the past few months Leavine Family Racing has been operating out of the Team Penske headquarters in Mooresville, North Carolina after dealing with the aftermath of the May fire that caused some major damages to their shop. Upon their return, the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race team partnered with Monitronics Security, "one of the nation's largest and fastest-growing home security alarm monitoring companies," according to a team release. Monitronics will outfit the shop with a new, state-of-the-art security and fire monitoring system and be featured as an associate on the team's No. 95 Ford Fusion at Chicagoland Speedway in September, Charlotte Motor Speedway in October and Texas Motor Speedway in November. @walr2772 & crew are back at LFR shop. Long process but good to be back. Thank you all for the support #HomeSweetHome pic.twitter.com/RRuFdvNBZb — LeavineFamilyRacing (@LeavineFamily95) July 14, 2015 The team, which fields the No. 95 Ford for driver Michael McDowell , has been a part-time competitor in NASCAR's top division since 2011. No one was hurt in the fire but the race cars weren't so lucky. A total of four backup cars were damaged in the incident. The 14-person LFR team said that most of the damages were in a storage area in the rear of the building, which is where the backup cars and some uniforms were stored. FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
McDowell, Leavine Family Racing on the rise
Organization to utilize Team Penske alliance in 2015 Play: NASCAR Fantasy Live Leavine Family Racing team owner Bob Leavine recalls when he signed his driver Michael McDowell with a fondness that stems from respect on and off the track. "We interviewed four drivers and I had seen Michael in the garage,” Levine said during Charlotte Media Tour on Wednesday. “The time he took with fans was in line with our family values, the way he treated people. “A good driver, and he wasn't driving the best cars in the world. I knew that we didn't have many, but what we were putting on the track was good. So I just thought that it would be a good fit from what we were trying to accomplish." Fast forward a year and the small family -owned Sprint Cup Series team is headed in a direction that both the driver and team are excited about. McDowell, 29, is expected to run a minimum of 20 Sprint Cup Series races in 2015, trumping last year’s number. Last season, he qualified for all but three Cup events that he attempted, nabbing notable finishes at Daytona (seventh) and Bristol (18th), a victory that McDowell said he would have celebrated by popping champagne at his hauler if any had been available. “The thing about that (Bristol) race for us is we ran where we finished most of the day,” McDowell said with a smile. “For a small Sprint Cup team to be in the teens and the low 20s, that’s a great day for us. “For us, to run where we’ve run all night and to finish it off was definitely a confidence builder and momentum for us.” The No. 95 driver appears to be sticking with the big boys for now, despite his strong finishes in the few races run with XFINITY Series in 2014. “I love running in the XFINITY Series. I’ve had a lot of great runs in the last few years,” McDowell said. “… I hope that I’ll have a few opportunities again to run some races, but there’s nothing permanent on the schedule right now. But having a part-time schedule in the Sprint Cup Series gives me a little bit of flexibility. “Now with a tighter alliance with Team Penske and a tighter alliance with Ford, it’s eliminated some of the opportunities with Joe Gibbs Racing and Toyota and those things.” This season marks the second season of the organization’s technical alliance with Team Penske , a partnership that Leavine thinks will aid the 14-person team on improving from last season. “It’s just a different mindset,” Leavine said. “… Roger (Penske) wasn’t willing to accept anything less than perfect. And that’s contagious." The fever seems to have spread to the organization's shop in Concord, North Carolina, as Leavine describes the team’s readiness to improve and be even more competitive next season. And that’s just what McDowell plans to do. “We want to be in the mix and we want to be in the conversation and we feel like at the end of the year last year, we were getting to that point,” McDowell said. “But we’d just like to be able to do that more consistently. And that’s the focus this year. "You can’t always hit home runs, but if we could hit doubles every game and eventually we’re going to get a few home runs in there and that’s really what we’re focused on.” FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Trip to Texas special for Leavine Family Racing
Love for NASCAR blossomed in the Lone Star State RELATED: Play NASCAR Fantasy Live " Sign up for RaceView today Editor's note: Photo courtesy of Leavine Family Racing . Texas Motor Speedway puts the " family " in Leavine Family Racing . Team owners Bob and Sharon Leavine have lived in Texas since 1985, and it's the home of Bob's WRL General Contracts, LTD business. More than that, though, Texas is where Bob Leavine first sat in a NASCAR vehicle at a driving experience. The thrill hasn't left yet. Members of the Leavine family have since completed more than 2,800 laps at the speedway, which is also site of the team's first NASCAR start. Daughter Melynda and grandson Michael often joined Bob Leavine at the driving experience. "I loved driving the stock cars at Team Texas," Bob Leavine said. "My wife and best friend got me a driving experience for my birthday and I immediately fell in love with it. I had my family back there two weeks later so we all could drive. We made some great memories together." The team's first start was in April 2011 at the 1.5-mile track, just 30 days after the group received its first chassis. David Starr qualified for the event that day and finished 38th. Michael McDowell will continue the tradition this year in Sunday's AAA Texas 500 (3 p.m. ET, ESPN), driving the No. 95 Ford. "With that much history at this track, we're striving to have an awesome finish," McDowell said. "We've been working hard in 2014 and I'm really looking forward to solid finishes in these last three races." MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Shop fire sees Leavine move to Penske facility
Team's race shop suffered major damage from last week's fire Photo credit: Leavine Family Racing For at least the next two weeks, Leavine Family Racing will operate out of the Team Penske facility in Mooresville, North Carolina, according to an official with the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series organization. LFR, which fields the No. 95 Ford for driver Michael McDowell , has been forced to relocate due to damage from a fire last week that destroyed much of the back portion of the team's shop, including four of its race cars. Employees discovered the blaze upon their arrival at the shop, which is located behind Charlotte Motor Speedway , Friday morning and immediately notified authorities. The bulk of the race team had already arrived in Kansas City for this past Saturday night's race at Kansas Speedway , where McDowell finished 36th. "We are working out of the Porsche shop at Penske for the short term," Jeremy Lange, LFR vice president, said Monday. "They provided the space for us and it's been very nice of them to come through in a pinch and offer their help. "It's not a long-term solution but it's a short-term fix." Team Penske is housed in a 400,000-plus square foot complex that currently serves as the base of operations for its Sprint Cup , XFINITY Series and IndyCar teams. Lange said that the four vehicles destroyed were the team's back-up cars. Those in the process of preparation for upcoming events at Charlotte Motor Speedway -- this weekend's Sprint Showdown and next week's Coca-Cola 600 -- were among those in the front of the building and were not damaged. "Luckily enough our cars for Charlotte were already put together and wrapped," Lange said. "Now it's going to come down to set-up and dyno and K-rig and getting the car ready for a race, not assembly. Which is a positive. If this had been weeks ago, it might be a different story. "It's never a good time … but we can work out of that shop with (our) resources. Basically what we have working out of there are our guys and the hauler, all the tools and parts and pieces that were in the hauler." Crew chief Wally Rogers' approach to the situation has been, "if we can do it at the race track we can do it in the shop," Lange said. "If we need something, we'll get it (from our shop). We are doing what we can and taking what we need to get the job done for the Showdown and the 600." Lange said a best-case scenario would be for the team to be able to return to its facility the week following the 600. LFR does not run the full 36-race Sprint Cup schedule and isn't slated to compete at the next three races (Dover, Pocono and Michigan) following the Charlotte events. With an off-weekend in the mix, the break should give the team four weeks to prepare for consecutive stops at Sonoma, Daytona and Kentucky. "We were strategic in our approach with the schedule," Lange said. "We knew having those three races off allows Wally and the guys to get Sonoma, Daytona and Kentucky ready, which are three different cars for three different tracks. It's not like we're going to three mile-and-a-half tracks. It's still a challenge but one that as a team … we're not going to bow down to." As news of the fire spread through the garage at Kansas Friday morning, LFR personnel began getting texts from other teams. Fellow owners and crewmen stopped by to personally offer assistance and ask about employees. And it didn't cease when the race was completed and teams headed back to their own headquarters. The entire NASCAR community, Lange said, has reached out to the team. Sponsorship partners K-Love and Thrivent Financial have offered support as well. "It's been tremendous," he said. "Other teams, drivers, just friends in the sport all reaching out, texting, asking a) 'is everyone OK and b) what can we do to help you?' "As a small team, it's nice to know that we still get the same respect and love as the big teams, because as a small team, you're kind of on your own little island in a sense. We don't shy away from that, we like that. We like being under the radar. We also like that underdog role. I think this is no different than not making a race. We will overcome it and get better. "This incident will not define our race team. We're not missing a beat. We could have easily said, 'hey, we're not going to the Showdown.' Wally doesn't want to bow down from the challenge and we're also committed to our partners. We said we're going and we're going to go." FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule