Catching up with the NASCAR Next driver
Driver, sponsor 'Go Pink' to support breast cancer awareness RELATED: Subscribe to NASCAR Illustrated Danica Patrick , at just a shade over 5 feet tall, was fidgety. Sitting on a couch overlooking the lobby of Stewart-Haas Racing , her feet failed to touch the ground. But there's no denying the big impact this diminutive driver has had on breast cancer awareness. In her sophomore season as a full-time Sprint Cup driver, Patrick and sponsor GoDaddy continued their "Go Pink" campaign in the fight against the disease. Patrick, as she did last season, competed in a pink No. 10 Chevrolet during the month of October. On a typically busy day, Patrick took time out between photo shoots to talk with " NASCAR Illustrated " about this year's program. NASCAR Illustrated : This has become a special initiative for you and GoDaddy. What are some of the highlights for 2014? Danica Patrick : Well, the same beautiful pink suit is back. I do love the rich pink color of it and what it signifies. If you go to GoDaddy.com/donate, you can donate $10 or more and you can put someone's name on my Martinsville car. To honor someone who's been affected or maybe not made it. It's a good way to donate and help the cause and be part of a NASCAR race. NI: Do you have any friends or family who've been affected by the disease? Patrick: I do. I have a friend who I grew up with who benefitted from the technology of being able to detect the breast cancer gene. She preventively had a double mastectomy in her mid-20s. For me, I'm grateful for everything that people have done for so long with donating and just making the general public so aware of this disease. NI: The pink color really pops and it's synonymous with this cause. How prominent is pink in your personal wardrobe? Is it a color you usually gravitate towards? Patrick: The pink and green go really good together. They're a nice color package. I probably stayed away from pink for a long time at least around racing anyway. It's pretty obvious I'm a girl. I don't need to slap pink on and make it even more obvious. It's kind of funny actually about putting this suit on and it being pink and saying I love it, how I steered away from making it so obvious I'm a girl. It just shows me how much I'm thinking about the cause as opposed to anything else, what it stands for to wear pink in October. I mean, if football players can go out there and wear pink on game day then so can I. NI: Do you get a different type of satisfaction from this compared to a typical sponsor relationship? Patrick: I see it as working with your partners to do more together and deepen that relationship by giving back together. For me, obviously, using the platform of racing and what I do and doing things like this to just having that pride that your sponsor is doing something to give back as well, giving up their whole car livery and color scheme to raise awareness for something else other than them. NI: It would seem one of the big perks of your job is being able to use your celebrity in an effort to help others. How gratifying is that for you on a personal level? Patrick: I feel like it's a responsibility maybe more than anything that so many people pay attention, that there are so many NASCAR fans and fans of mine, I'm very fortunate, and I feel like it's a pretty cool privilege to use that for other things. So I feel a responsibility to it. I feel it's part of the deal. I get so much from so many other people; it's a responsibility to give back. NI: You've done ride-alongs and met a lot of survivors. Has there been one story that's really resonated or is it more just a collective impact? Patrick: With breast cancer, it's just a vibe within the group. They're always in a great mood. They have such camaraderie, such optimism and they do really cool and empowering things along the way like go out and ride 130-140 mph in a car with me around a race track without a helmet on and just a seatbelt. They're doing things that I've been told in the past, that this is stuff that I'd have never done or been brave enough before breast cancer and now I am. It's just stuff to make them happy, smile and get together and have that sense of community around it because they're all going through the same hell, to be honest. There's a certain level of comfort for them to be around other people that are going through it and can share. NI: What's going to make this a successful campaign for you, how will you know you've made the impact you've wanted to? Is it numbers or feelings? Patrick: I've been involved in lots of different awareness campaigns and you don't see the fruits of your labor now, next year or the year after. It's stuff that just over time -- it's a movement. I don't think we're going to see the efforts that we've made in the very moment or right away in the immediate future. I think that's something that you see later on. Probably the most immediate stuff would be the funds raised to do more research and to learn more about the disease and to try and find a cure. But over time, 10 and 20 years later, what did that movement do to the general public and how much of an issue is the disease now? And we can't know that yet. Thanks 4 backing NBCF @GoDaddy Oct. drive 2 ‘Put the Brakes on Breast Cancer’ we raised $29K to add to the big check! pic.twitter.com/gYAH2BnZcs — Danica Racing Online (@danicaracing) October 31, 2014 SUBSCRIBE NOW!
Hendrick Motorsports driver discusses potential changes in 2015
Ray Evernham shows off his collection for NASCAR Illustrated
Q&A with brother of NASCAR Sprint Cup driver Kasey Kahne RELATED: Subscribe to NASCAR Illustrated Hometown: "Enumclaw, Washington, is a great place to live. You are so close to the mountains and the ocean, it makes for lots of very fun activities such as fishing, great seafood, skiing, sledding. It's just a small town at the edge of the foothills. It was really nice to grow up in a small city with not much crime and no gangs." Being a sprint car crew chief: "It's an awesome job. There are lots of things to do and think about. It's a wild life out here, but the feeling I get when we win makes it all worth it. It's very hard to have a good race car every night because all the tracks are different, but that is the challenge and it's what makes it so exciting. One minute I feel happy and proud and the next minute I am depressed and mad. Just lots of emotions in this sport -- good and bad." Life on the road: "It's good when you are racing good, and it's bad when you're not. It's always hard to be away from my wife and my family. But it's part of the job. I love this job and my family understands it." Getting married: "It was the best thing that happened to me. My wife, Michelle, is the greatest person in the world and makes me a better person every day. Can't believe she chose me. Now she is pregnant with our first child, a girl. We can't wait until she is born. We are so excited and can't wait to be great parents." Favorite midnight snack: "I hate eating late at night but if I had to choose, I would say peanuts or beef jerky helps me drive late at night." Favorite app: " 'Race Monitor.' It's how we see our lap times and who finished where in our races." Music that moves me: "I like alternative, rock and some hip-hop. I don't like much country. It just makes me tired and doesn't get me excited. I like music that gets me going in the morning and all day." Favorite websites: "Mostly racing sites and ESPN. I love most sports and like to see what is going on in the sports world. My favorite sports are racing, football, fishing and basketball -- in that order." Travel: "I really like going on vacations with my wife, family and friends. I like to go to the mountains and go skiing, snowmobiling and sledding. I also like warm weather and the beach, hanging by the pool and fishing." Habit I'd like to kick: "I chew my fingernails all the time. It's worse when I'm nervous but it's all the time." Biggest influence in my life: "My parents for many reasons, but most of all how they raised us right and made us into great people. They always tried to do family things like vacations, or races, or even just dinner at home. We always ate dinner together. I can only hope Michelle and I raise our kids as well as our parents raised us." SUBSCRIBE NOW!
Stenhouse shares his first Graceland experience with NASCAR Illustrated
Crew chief of the No. 31 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet RELATED: Subscribe to NASCAR Illustrated Editor's note: Photo by Elmer Kappell October 2, 1982 Born in Mount Airy, North Carolina. "My dad is a car guy. He's always been into racing. He would take me to races, car shows – anything that involved cars. That’s where the passion began." 2001 Graduated from Mount Airy High School. 2005 Graduated from North Carolina State University with a B.S. in mechanical engineering. "When I went to college, I wanted to become a crew chief or a race car driver. And the driving career was a longshot. "I spent the second half of my senior year on a design project that was sponsored by Caterpillar. We designed a granular material spreader for a skid steer loader. I was on the winning team and actually got a job offer from Caterpillar but I was set on racing." 2005-2008 Junior Engineer, Richard Childress Racing. "That job had me doing data acquisition one day then the next, rating a chassis or helping on the seven-post and doing special projects." 2008-2011 Race Engineer, No. 31 RCR Chevy. July 2011 Interim Crew Chief, No. 31 RCR Chevy. Lambert, 28, took over halfway through the season. "I really wanted to be a crew chief and I had set a goal – thinking, 'Man, if I could be a crew chief by the age of 30, that would be awesome.' Obviously, that wasn't in my control. I worked hard for it like a lot of people in this sport do but I just felt blessed to have the opportunity and that it was my responsibility to make the most of it. It was something that was a bit overwhelming but it was exciting." 2012 Crew Chief, No. 2 RCR Chevy Nationwide Series. "(Leaving the Cup team) was bittersweet. I was excited about the opportunity but I was somewhat disappointed not to stay in Cup. In hindsight, it was one of the greatest opportunities I've had in my career." Won first NASCAR race at spring 2012 Phoenix race. "We were fast in practice and I felt like we had a shot. Elliott (Sadler) had typically struggled at that track but we were really fast. We were talking after practice and he was like, 'Man, I'm feeling really good about the car but I'm just nervous because this has not been a great track for me.' And I was like, 'Well, I feel like we're going to make it a good track for you.' " 2013-present Crew Chief, No. 31 RCR Chevy. "For me, to come back to the No. 31 with a lot of the core group still on the team was exciting because it helped me feel like I was coming back home to the team that I had kind of come into the sport with. "I felt like myself and Ryan (Newman) got to know each other pretty rapidly and he gelled with the race team pretty rapidly. It's been a good start to the year. As the year has gone by, I think we've done a good job as a group getting to know each other." SUBSCRIBE NOW!
Host of 'The Amazing Race' talks about NASCAR and more It's hard to imagine CBS could have found a better-suited host for its Emmy Award-winning adventure reality series "The Amazing Race" than 47-year-old New Zealander Phil Keoghan. Keoghan grew up traveling the globe with his parents, and a near-death experience while scuba diving at age 19 inspired him to make exploring outside his comfort zone a way of life. That road began when Keoghan returned to dive the site of his mishap. Since then, he has scuba dived caves, cycled across America, climbed mountains and set a bungee-jumping world record. Keoghan turned his mantra, "No Opportunity Wasted," into a bestselling book that has since expanded to include a television show, energy bar and events that raise money to help fight multiple sclerosis. The 25th season of "The Amazing Race" kicked off with 11 two-person teams in Times Square on Sept. 26. Working for a living "I believe in the idea you should look for a job where you get paid to do the things you love and that your job is something you would want to do regardless if you were paid or not." Modern phonemes "In the beginning, I was asked by the network to tone down my accent. But that was 2000. The world has changed a lot since then. It isn't as big of an issue in 2014." Growing pains "We were in Hong Kong and 'The Amazing Race Asia' contestants were running to catch a flight as our contestants were running through the airport to catch a flight. It was quite bizarre. Anyone watching must have thought, 'What the hell is going on here?'" What comfort zone? "It's inherently human to push yourself outside your comfort zone. All of us have an extreme gene, D4DR. Over the years, we have found ways to protect ourselves from the very things that were inherently part of surviving. Yet, we all crave risk. That's why I think we artificially manufacture risk via shows like 'Survivor' and some of these extreme events." Hurts so good "The pain of completing the book went on longer than the ride across America. The physical suffering of the ride was way worse. One was a sustained pain over a long period of time, and the ride was 40 days of pain." Ballin' "I love rugby. I played and continue to follow it. The New Zealand national team is coming to America in November, and I have an invitation to go to the game." Britten V1000 "I used to be neighbors with John Britten, who was an absolutely revolutionary motorcycle designer whose bike won at Daytona. Unfortunately, he died very young, in his 40s, from cancer." NASCAR "I did the Richard Petty Driving Experience. I was doing a piece with Dr. Phil where I took somebody out to achieve their goal of driving a stock car. I think we got up to 145 mph. I also competed in the Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race." SUBSCRIBE NOW!
3-D printers are transforming the way race cars are put together RELATED: Subscribe to NASCAR Illustrated For a machine that makes science fiction novels seem quaint, the Stratasys Fortus 400mc 3-D printer at Stewart-Haas Racing is a bit of a letdown in person. Tucked away in a second-floor space among overflow souvenir/gift shop merchandise and a workbench for the electrical team, the machine could easily be mistaken for a refrigerator -- or an overbuilt microwave. "People who don't know what the machine is say, 'When are the brownies done?' " said Matt Johnson, senior design engineer for SHR. "If they only knew the capabilities of the machine." So, what does it do? Put simply: Instead of printing ink on paper, a 3-D printer builds three-dimensional objects out of plastic. "Imagine the old dot-matrix printers where you had the little head going back and forth. If you exchange that head with a hot-glue gun, that's essentially what you have for a 3-D printer," Johnson said. Engineers feed the printer detailed digital drawings and the printer makes them real, one layer at a time. A plastic filament that looks like an extra-thick spool of fishing line is fed into the printer head. Then, "as the material passes through the head, it heats it up, liquefies it, lays it down in a layer a 10,000ths-of-an-inch at a time – that's maybe five sheets of paper thick. "It keeps going and going until you have a full part." Johnson printed a plastic version of the Stewart-Haas Racing logo for NASCAR Illustrated in about an hour. Later, he displayed a complex wheel hub prototype about the size of an adult's forearm that required nearly 24 hours to grow inside the magic machine. The printer literally makes dreams reality. And in NASCAR , that counts for a lot. With competitive advantages becoming increasingly slim and short-lived, most major teams are producing more components than ever in-house. That means they can keep their ideas secret and exert finer control over their production. But the downside is they actually have to, you know, make those components. With rows upon rows of CNC lathes and mills booked around the clock, making each minute count is essential for a team's success. "In the machine shop, we are always slammed trying to get all the production out," said Matt Borland, vice president of engineering at SHR. "You don't want to waste any of that time with ideas or prototypes. "(Production) is very time- and cost-intensive. If you can grow the part, see your mistakes, learn from it and make a better final part, it's a big savings." By printing out an idea -- making a prototype in a matter of hours -- teams can diagnose problems or capitalize on opportunities much faster. "It gives something for the engineer to go to the guys working on it and say, 'Hey, what do you think? Let's put this on a car,' " Borland said. "And they might say, 'Man, this thing sucks bolting this thing together. Can you use a different head on this fastener so I can use a different tool?' "You get two or three versions ahead of what you would have done making a production run, running it for a few months and then making the improvements. Now, you're doing it off the prototype." The benefits of having an actual prototype in-hand may seem obvious now, but two years ago, Stewart-Haas Racing officials weren't so sure the six-figure investment would pay off. "When we first started talking about doing it, we had five or six projects on our mind that we thought it would be good for," Borland said. "We got the machine, started to use it and within a month-and-a-half, we had literally thousands of projects we were doing. Within six months, we had 4,000 parts that we had actually 'grown' on it. It prints nonstop." The machine was so busy that not long ago, Johnson had to come in on the weekend to swap parts so it could print while the office was empty (the printer sends Johnson an email when a print job is finished). Most amazingly, the 3-D printer does more than crank out prototypes. Some of the parts come out of the printer and go straight on the car. According to Johnson, a ducting port on the side of the radiator is a perfect example of this application. "Before then, the port might have been hand-fabricated aluminum or someone else's carbon-fiber part that didn't fit the particular application we were looking for," he said. "With (rapid prototyping), we are able to get what we want in the space we want it." One highly visible -- though somewhat less essential -- fruit of the 3-D printer sits between the hood and the windshield of the No. 41 every weekend. Over the past few years, teams have gotten particularly creative with their cowl covers, pieces of metal that sit over the air intake. The No. 41 team needed an icon for the cover and what better than a miniature Haas CNC mill? So, Johnson got digital plans of a real-life mill, shrunk it down and fed the slimmed-down designs to the printer. A few hours -- and a coat of paint -- later, the team's cowl cover was complete with a micro-sized Haas CNC VF4 mill. Given the rapid evolution of 3-D printing (home versions sell for $500 on Amazon.com and will soon be available at Home Depot), the technology is sure to continue spreading throughout NASCAR . On the horizon: the even-more-unthinkable. A 3-D printer that builds objects out of metal instead of plastic. According to Borland: "They have production metal models now. And that's going to take off at some point. … It's right around the corner. … It's going crazy." SUBSCRIBE NOW!
Driver talks past, future in interview RELATED: Subscribe to NASCAR Illustrated AJ Allmendinger has seen his share of adversity during nearly a decade in NASCAR . Two years ago, he hit the lowest point in his career after a failed drug test led him out of Team Penske and into NASCAR's Road to Recovery program. Chastened, the 32-year-old driver kick-started the second chapter of his career by winning two Nationwide races last year for Roger Penske. Allmendinger is now back in the Cup Series trying to push JTG Daugherty's program and his career to the next level. We caught up with Allmendinger a day after the No. 47 was swept up in an early wreck at Daytona. Just two weeks earlier, he'd led a race-high 34 laps at Sonoma before contact with Dale Earnhardt Jr . derailed his shot at for a first Cup victory and the Chase berth that would've come with it. NI: You're known as a strong road racer but what are your thoughts on plate racing? Allmendinger: Out of all the racing we do, it's my least favorite. There's just so much that goes into it. A lot of it's luck, being in the right place at the right time and missing the "big one." The racing can be exciting at times for sure. As a driver, you definitely have to be at full concentration the whole time you're out there when you're in the pack just because one 2-inch mistake can be a big, big crash. Especially if you're the one making that mistake, you feel bad because you wrecked yourself and you've got a lot of competitors that you feel bad about because they're probably pissed off at you. NI: You had a car that could have won at Sonoma before you were taken out. Does it take long to get over that? Allmendinger: I don't know if you ever fully get over it. To a certain degree, in this sport, you gotta be ready to go the next weekend. You can't let a bad weekend carry over into the next weekend. It's tough because I thought we had a shot to win. We were up front, top two cars every practice session and qualifying, led the most laps, played the strategy to what ours was and we just got into an incident. It is what it is. You can't fix it. NI: If you can get that first win, you're all but in the Chase. No added pressure there? Allmendinger: Honestly, I look at it two different ways. The Chase would be great for the fact that our sponsors and this race team being such a small team, to be able to promote that we won a race and are in the Chase, that would be fantastic. But when it comes to, "Do we have to make the Chase for it to be a successful season?" No. We're not a championship-winning team right now. There's no doubt about it. We're a small team, we're trying to grow to that at some point and it's going to be a long process to get there and a lot of hard work. I think with the right effort we can actually get there. NI: It might sound like a strange question but are you almost glad things played out the way they did back in 2012? Allmendinger: Except for the mere fact of having to put Roger Penske through that. Other than that, I'm way happier now than I have ever been when it comes to a lot of things. I still put a lot of pressure on myself racing, so I still have those ups and downs, but it's a different kind of pressure now. The ownership just makes this team such a family. I want to take this team to a new level. That's the pressure I put on myself, to put this team on my back and take it to another level. I feel like they deserve it down from ownership and the team because they work so hard. NI: How has your perspective changed in the past couple of years? Allmendinger: It's a different perspective now. It's not the only thing in the world, you know? There are other things that are important and in the grand scheme probably a lot more important than racing. But obviously when you make your life and you put your heart and soul into it, it feels like the most important thing. I wouldn't change anything that I've had to go through for anything except for disappointing Roger Penske. Hopefully, last year, winning the Nationwide races and having a shot to win Indy made up for it. NI: It's our tailgate issue, so I have to ask about your abilities on the grill. Can we call you a grilling master? Allmendinger: No (laughs). We can lie to everybody and tell them I can grill anything up. Only problem is hopefully I won't get called out on it. I really enjoy grilling because it is so healthy to be able to do that and I'm real health conscious when it comes to what I eat. The sponsors we have on our team are great when it comes to all that. So it makes it a lot easier because we’re stocked with a lot of great things to eat. I live in an apartment right now so it's hard to grill in the corner without a balcony. My girlfriend is really good at grilling so she's shown me some stuff. Hopefully, in the near future, I can have a house and practice up but right now it'd be a stretch to say grilling master. I'd like to be. Let's put it that way. NI: It's hard to believe you've been in NASCAR for almost a decade now. What's been your personal highlight so far? Allmendinger: The Nationwide wins were something I'll never forget, especially with what led to those. I remember making my first race at Bristol -- it took me four tries to finally make a race -- back in 2007 when there were 50 or 60 cars trying to qualify each weekend. Making our first Daytona 500 in 2009 and almost winning the thing. (Allmendinger finished third in the No. 44 Richard Petty Motorsports Dodge.) But I think the highlight is still being here really. This sport is tough. It will bring some guys in, especially with the open-wheel side of it, and spit them back out pretty quick. So to have the commitment level and just the do-or-die work ethic trying to stay in when things were bad and things got better and things got bad again, and keep coming back, I feel very fortunate that people believe in me. Whether it's the "King" or the "Captain" or Tad (Geschickter) to give me another shot to jump in this race car and feel like I can get the job done now. More than anything, just being able to still be a part of it through thick and thin is something that's probably the most special. SUBSCRIBE NOW!