Aaron's, which has been a Michael Waltrip Racing sponsor for 15 years, confirmed to Sports Business Daily that it would not sponsor a NASCAR team in 2016. MWR had previously announced it would not field a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series team next year. It currently runs the No. 15 Toyota for Clint Bowyer and No. 55 Toyota for David Ragan . "We have decided to take some time off from a team sponsorship for the 2016 season," the company wrote in a statement. "The NASCAR fan base is an important audience for us and we have built substantial equity over the past 15 years. We are exploring creative ways to continue to participate in the sport in 2016 including media, brand relationships and track activation."
Meet Abraham Calderon, winner of the 2014 NASCAR Mexico Toyota Series from Monterrey, Mexico.
Debating 'Smoke's' reported retirement after 2016, No. 4 team's strategy RELATED: Subscribe to NASCAR Illustrated " Harvick shoves Johnson post-race MORE: Stewart to retire from Sprint Cup action after '16 " Bowyer tabbed for No. 14 Tony Stewart 's reported retirement following the 2016 season was big news this week. Jimmie Johnson heading back to Dover, where the No. 48 team has been dominant in recent years, will headline the weekend. And come next Monday, four drivers will have fallen out of the Chase. Will defending champion Kevin Harvick be among them? We cover all of that and more in this week’s installment of Herman Unplugged. NASCAR ILLUSTRATED: Tony Stewart 's retirement after next season means two of our biggest champions will be gone from the competitive landscape in the span of a year. How will losing that amount of star power impact the sport and should NASCAR be concerned? HERMAN: "I think from the standpoint that Dale Jr. is gonna be 41 here in no time. We're looking at our sport's biggest stars by far and we're in that time where these drivers are not racing into their 50s no more. I see the new era of drivers quit in their mid-40s, because all these guys like Jeff, Tony and Dale, started as teenagers. Look at a Harry Gant or drivers back in the day that started in their 20s. It makes sense that these current guys who started young and came in at the right time making millions of dollars a year are leaving earlier. Their bodies have a lot of wear and tear. NASCAR knows we have to put a really big emphasis on Joey Logano now and guys like Brad Keselowski . Whether we like it or not, these guys are our next big superstars." NI: Speaking of Keselowski, his comment about NASCAR being an entertainment sport and not a fair sport after getting black-flagged on the restart was entertaining itself. Was it a case of sour grapes or did he have a beef there? HERMAN: "We always have conspiracy theories. I like Richard Buck, I've talked to him and he's invited me into the NASCAR trailer. I truly believe that Brad was just the first one; I don't believe that NASCAR made an example out of him. He was just the first one. If that's being made an example of, so be it. But that had major implications. This was not a normal race; it had championship implications. That's not an easy one to swallow. And when you get out of the race car like that, I think NASCAR recognized that you can't take what he said wholeheartedly even if he meant it. You gotta give that guy a break. It hurt and he was able to overcome it somewhat but he probably lost 5-8 points and that's a lot." NI: Kevin Harvick now faces a must-win scenario at Dover to advance in the Chase. Point blank: Should Rodney Childers have taken a more conservative approach at New Hampshire? HERMAN: "Because I'm a racer, I'm never gonna second guess. All I'm gonna say is this: They ran him out of gas at Watkins Glen and at New Hampshire and that could have meant bonus points. It is true that he shouldn't have run out of gas at either place. But I think what I've learned is why cut it so close because he's so fast and can pass people at will? I'm sure that they've learned that we'll never do this again." NI: Jimmie Johnson has won seven of the last 13 races at Dover. Does he get another victory in his 500th career start on Sunday? HERMAN: "I'm going on the record and picking Harvick to win Dover right now. He did a walkoff twice last year. He had to win Phoenix and he did. Then he went to Homestead and he won again. They're gonna lose a lot of sleep between now and Dover but I think he wins it. I'm going out on a limb. If Kevin Harvick does not move out of the first round, this will be one of the biggest upsets in the new modern era Chase format. I think Harvick will put the bumper to Jimmie to get it. If you look at the last two races there, Harvick should have won this fall race last year and then he ran second earlier this year. The one race he was dominating he lost a valve stem in the wheel. I just see Harvick doing whatever it takes." SUBSCRIBE NOW!
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Sept. 8, 2015) –- NASCAR and USA TODAY Sports today launched the first-ever NASCAR Fan Index , a digital index that combines social media activity and online fan voting to determine which Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup ™ driver has the greatest "fan nation" in this year's "Battle of Nations." Beginning this week and running through the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship race at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Nov. 22, the NASCAR Fan Index will rank the top driver fan bases based on aggregated social chatter and weekly online voting. The index is measured based on the social activity of each Chase driver’s nation, including sharing photos and videos, as well as the voting results across fan-friendly themes such as best driver nickname and best paint scheme. " NASCAR has one of the biggest fan bases in sports, and its fans are famous for their loyalty to their favorite drivers," said Dave Morgan, President, USA TODAY Sports Media Group. "As 16 Challengers battle it out in the Chase, the NASCAR Fan Index will quantify the passion their respective fan bases generate off the racetrack to ultimately determine which Chase driver has the most passionate nation." NASCAR fans can vote an unlimited number of times for their favorite drivers in the weekly polls at nascarfanindex.usatoday.com . Additional themes will include best helmet design, best warm-up song, best race win burnout and best driver tweet of the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season. The NASCAR Fan Index will monitor social activity across Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Google+. Fans can help their drivers' nations score higher in the Fan Index rankings by posting driver-related content and using hashtag #FanIndex. Social chatter is tracked weekly, with rankings released each Friday at the end of the voting period for each week's poll theme. Results will then be added up into a final cumulative Fan Index at the end of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup . The NASCAR Fan Index is one of several components of the sport's "Battle of Nations" marketing campaign, a massive, industry-wide effort to promote The Chase and encourage fans to rally around their favorite Chase driver nations. Fans can join the battle by visiting NASCAR .com/Chase . The next NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race will be the Federated Auto Parts 400 from Richmond International Raceway on Saturday, Sept. 12 at 7:30 p.m. ET. The race will be broadcast live on NBCSN, MRN, and SiriusXM Satellite Radio, with additional coverage on NASCAR .com.
RELATED: See the full weekend schedule " NBC Sports Live Extra All times ET Monday, Oct. 5 6 a.m., NASCAR Victory Lap (re-air), NBCSN 7 a.m., NASCAR Victory Lap (re-air), NBCSN 8 a.m., NASCAR Victory Lap (re-air), NBCSN 2:30 p.m., NASCAR 120, NBCSN 5 p.m., NASCAR America Live, NBCSN 6 p.m., NASCAR Race Hub, FS1 2 a.m., NASCAR Race Hub (re-air), FS2 Tuesday, Oct. 6 6 a.m., NASCAR America (re-air), NBCSN 7 a.m., NASCAR America (re-air), NBCSN 5 p.m., NASCAR America Live, NBCSN 6 p.m., NASCAR Race Hub, FS12 a.m., NASCAR Race Hub (re-air), FS2 Wednesday, Oct. 7 6 a.m., NASCAR America (re-air), NBCSN 7 a.m., NASCAR America (re-air), NBCSN 5 p.m., NASCAR America Live, NBCSN 6 p.m., NASCAR Race Hub, FS1 2 a.m., NASCAR Race Hub (re-air), FS2 Thursday, Oct. 8 6 a.m., NASCAR America (re-air), NBCSN 7 a.m., NASCAR America (re-air), NBCSN 1:30 p.m., NASCAR Sprint Cup Series practice, NBCSN 3 p.m., NASCAR XFINITY Series practice, NBCSN 4 p.m., NASCAR K&N Series East: Dover International Speedway (tape), NBCSN 5 p.m., NASCAR America Live, NBCSN 5:30 p.m., NASCAR XFINITY Series final practice, NBCSN 7 p.m., NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coors Light Pole Qualifying, NBCSN Friday, Oct. 9 2:30 p.m., NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour: Stafford Motor Speedway (tape), NBCSN 3:30 p.m., NASCAR Sprint Cup Series practice, NBCSN 4:30 p.m., NASCAR XFINITY Series Coors Light Pole Qualifying, NBCSN 6 p.m., NASCAR America Live, NBCSN 6:30 p.m., NASCAR Sprint Cup Series final practice, NBCSN 7:30 p.m., NASCAR XFINITY Series Countdown to Green, NBCSN 8 p.m., NASCAR XFINITY Series Drive for the Cure 300 Presented by Blue Cross , NBCSN Saturday, Oct. 10 3:30 p.m., NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coors Light Pole Qualifying (re-air), NBCSN 4 p.m., NASCAR RaceDay, FS2 5 p.m., NASCAR America Saturday, NBCSN 6 p.m., NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Countdown to Green, NBCSN 7 p.m., NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Bank of America 500 , NBC 11 p.m., NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Post-Race, NBCSN 11:30 p.m., NASCAR Victory Lap, NBCSN 12:30 a.m., NASCAR Victory Lane, FS1 Sunday, Oct. 11 11:30 p.m., NASCAR Victory Lap (tape), NBCSN &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;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;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;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;nbsp;
NASCAR Executive Vice President Steve O'Donnell talks about the No.78 team making post-inspection adjustments to the side skirts of the car at Dover International Speedway. Martin Truex Jr. was penalized and started the race at the back of the field.
CONCORD, N.C. -- Traces of confetti were still stuck to Carl Edwards ' No. 19 Toyota and Dash 4 Cash bogus bills littered the hood of the entry of fellow Joe Gibbs Racing driver Daniel Suarez . Crewmen that had arrived at the NASCAR Research and Development Center in Concord, North Carolina, earlier that September morning began their assigned tasks promptly at 8 a.m. ET. Edwards' group, along with those from the Team Penske Ford of Brad Keselowski and the No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports team for driver Kasey Kahne , were the first to begin. They worked quietly and efficiently, removing specific parts from each entry and delivering them to a predetermined area nearby. NASCAR officials then began the process of inspecting the individual pieces, measuring and examining each one before moving on to the next . It's the final stop in the inspection process for NASCAR's Sprint Cup Series, and occasionally the XFINITY and Camping World Truck Series. While entries that qualify for a NASCAR event typically go through four separate inspections the previous race weekend (pre-qualifying, qualifying, pre-race and post-race), the winning and second-place entry, as well as a randomly selected car, arrive here at the R&D Center, where a final teardown takes place. "It's primarily the suspension officials, which are chosen by their supervisor … and the same with the engine group," NASCAR's Chad Little, Managing Director, Technical Inspection/Officiating, said. "Sometimes we do a detailed template inspection as well. But primarily it's suspension and engine." According to Little, teams whose cars are taken to the R&D Center (the cars are transported by NASCAR employees) after an event are officially notified by email following the race. The final post-race inspections are held on the following Tuesdays, and once teams arrive, they are given a detailed list of what specific parts are to be removed from each entry. "The team will go to work in pulling the engine and pulling those parts off the car," Little said. "The officials will inspect them and make sure they comply with the rules. It's usually all done by about 10:30 a.m. "We tear the car completely apart -- all the primary suspension parts come out." Engines are completely disassembled, fuel cells are removed, measured and checked and the transmissions are inspected as well. Before NASCAR began taking cars back to the R&D center, final post-race inspections were completed at the track following the event. Officials say bringing the cars back here provides a better environment and allows for a more detailed inspection. Weather is not longer a concern while officials and crewmen for the cars inspected no longer must spend hours after the race completing the various tasks. There is no limit to the number of employees a team may bring to complete the teardown as the center, "as many as they need," Little said. "And it's an open-door policy. "So any other team can come and observe. … They're parked right next to each other just like they are in the garage; nobody covers anything up. When the parts come off they're laid there for anybody else to see." If there is an issue, the series director is notified and the information moves up the management chain. "Before we issue (a penalty)," Little said, "it's thoroughly thought out." Almost one hour after work began, Edwards' Southern 500 winning car and Keselowski's No. 2 Ford have been checked and are rolled out of the main area. Kahne's entry isn't far behind and joins the JGR entry in the chassis room, where officials go over each with a Romer Absolute Arm, a computerized device that takes precise chassis measurements at various points on each car. It's a slow process for those who have other items on their agenda. Darian Grubb, crew chief for Edwards, had already been in three meetings with various JGR personnel before the teardown process got underway. Watching as crewmen went through their assigned tasks, he waited patiently until the inspection had been completed. That the winning car would be in pieces when it finally returned to the team's headquarters in nearby Huntersville wouldn't be an issue. "We'd normally go through all those things after getting the car back to shop anyway, so they'd have to come off," Grubb said. "That car will be turned around and we'll start to get it ready for Dover as quick as we get it back." By 10:40 a.m., the inspection process for Edwards' car has been completed, Keselowski's has already been loaded up and Kahne's Chevrolet is nearly finished. Meanwhile, on the other side of the building, the work had already begun on the XFINITY Series entries of Suarez and race winner Denny Hamlin .
TaxSlayer.com revealed Dale Earnhardt Jr .'s paint scheme for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race the company will sponsor next year. The bright red look is different from a typical Junior scheme, but the man who drives the No. 88 Chevrolet likes it -- after all, he helped design it, according to the company, and Junior said on Twitter that he was influenced by one of his dad's paint schemes. Earnhardt 1987 https://t.co/FA8pO4Ohi7 — Dale Earnhardt Jr . (@DaleJr) October 5, 2015 TaxSlayer.com is expanding its involvement with JR Motorsports in 2016 while also beginning a new relationship with Hendrick Motorsports . It will serve as the primary sponsor for a total of 10 NASCAR XFINITY Series races in 2016, appearing on the No. 7 JRM Chevrolet currently driven by Regan Smith as well as the No. 88 entry that has been fielded for various drivers this season. In addition to serving as the primary sponsor of Earnhardt Jr.'s No. 88 Sprint Cup entry for one race in 2016, TaxSlayer.com will also be an associate sponsor throughout the year.
Dale Earnhardt Jr . has picked up a new primary sponsorship for 2016, although the brand is hardly new to Hendrick Motorsports . Axalta, a longtime sponsor of Jeff Gordon 's No. 24 Chevrolet, will switch its primary support to the No. 88 of Earnhardt Jr. next season with Gordon retiring. The coatings company also expanded its number of races as primary sponsor from 10 to 13, and the deal between the two has been extended to 2018. "Axalta and Hendrick Motorsports have an incredible story," Earnhardt Jr. said in a Hendrick release. "For me, it's meaningful to work with a sponsor that's been so committed to our sport and has such a rich history in NASCAR . Continuing the partnership is special for all of us, and I'm already excited about what the car will look like. I'm really looking forward to the opportunity." The partnership between Axalta and Hendrick is in its 23rd full season. "We began a journey 23 years ago with Hendrick Motorsports and a young driver named Jeff Gordon . Eighty poles, 92 wins and four championships later, we are proud of the run we've had with Jeff," said Nigel Budden, Axalta vice president and head of its North America business via a Hendrick release. "Now, we are delighted to continue our relationship with Hendrick Motorsports and to adorn the hood of Dale Earnhardt Jr .’s No. 88 Chevy SS with the Axalta logo in 2016. As our slogan says, 'We Paint Winners,' and by joining Dale we will continue to do so for years to come." Chase Elliott , the 19-year-old defending NASCAR XFINITY Series champ, will take over Gordon's car next year.
RELATED: Latest Chase Grid " Full 2015 schedule " See all the 2015 winners Elimination-style playoffs return for the 2015 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup , and excitement is building. If you forgot exactly how Kevin Harvick made his way to the title in 2014, we're here to help with a quick refresher on how the Chase Grid system works. THE SEEDING Each of the 16 drivers who qualifies for the Chase Grid starts with 2,000 points, plus three points for each win earned during the first 26 regular-season races. After the bonus points for wins are added, drivers are ranked in order of the reset points. See the updated standings . THE ROUNDS Challenger Round : The 16 drivers will take to the track at Chicagoland Speedway , New Hampshire Motor Speedway and Dover International Speedway for the 12 spots available in the next round (Contender). A win at any of the three races equals advancement into the next round. The rest of the field of 12 will be determined by order of points scored in the three races. After this round, each advancing driver will be reset to 3,000 points. Points note: Bonus points for laps led will still be awarded in the Challenger, Contender and Eliminator Rounds. However, at the NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship, the four drivers will start the race tied and there will be no bonus points for laps led, etc. Tiebreaker: If any position comes down to a tiebreaker, only the three races in the Challenger Round matter. Wins and finishes in the regular season won't, so these nine drivers will need to run up front to challenge for the win. If they can't win, they'll need to have more second-place finishes, third-place finishes, etc. than their competitors in order to break the tie and advance. If two drivers have the exact same finishes, the tiebreaker then goes to the driver who scored the best finish first. Contender Round: The 12 drivers will battle at Charlotte Motor Speedway , Kansas Speedway and Talladega Superspeedway for the eight spots available in the next round (Eliminator). A win at any of the three races equals advancement into the next round. The rest of the field of eight will be determined by order of points scored in the three races. After this round, each advancing driver will be reset to 4,000 points. Tiebreaker: If any position comes down to a tiebreaker, only the three races in the Contender Round matter. Wins and finishes in the regular season won't, so the drivers will need to run up front to challenge for the win. If they can't win, they'll need to have more second-place finishes, third-place finishes, etc. than their competitors in order to break the tie and advance. If two drivers have the exact same finishes, the tiebreaker then goes to the driver who scored the best finish first. Eliminator Round: The eight drivers will battle at Martinsville Speedway, Texas Motor Speedway and Phoenix International Raceway for the four spots available in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship. A win at any of the three races equals advancement into the next round. The rest of the field of four will be determined by order of points scored in the three races. After this round, each advancing driver will be reset to 5,000 points . Tiebreaker: If any position comes down to a tiebreaker, only the three races in the Eliminator Round matter. Wins and finishes in the regular season won't, so the drivers will need to run up front to challenge for the win. If they can't win, they'll need to have more second-place finishes, third-place finishes, etc. than their competitors in order to break the tie and advance. If two drivers have the exact same finishes, the tiebreaker then goes to the driver who scored the best finish first. THE NASCAR SPRINT CUP CHAMPIONSHIP The final race is all about order of finish. No bonus points for laps led, etc. The four finalists will start the race tied, and the highest finisher among them at Homestead-Miami Speedway will win the NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship.