Drivers get real at NASCAR After the Lap
All 16 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers let loose during NASCAR's After the Lap in Las Vegas and a surprise guest shows up to help send Tony Stewart off in style.
NASCAR , Monster Energy announce premier series entitlement partnership
RELATED: Official NASCAR release " NASCAR Nation reacts to news LAS VEGAS – NASCAR announced on Thursday at Wynn Las Vegas a multi-year deal that will make Monster Energy only the third entitlement sponsor in premier series history. The length and terms of the deal were not disclosed, but both parties hailed the partnership as the perfect fit for both brands. "Monster Energy is a brand built on excitement and enthusiasm, qualities that align with NASCAR ," said Brian France, NASCAR Chairman and CEO. "This sponsorship position is the most unique in all of sports and entertainment, and we are thrilled to have a partner that will help us further elevate the series. Today's announcement is the culmination of a thorough search, one that resulted in the right partner at this important time in our sport’s history." Monster Energy has existing sponsorships with a number of motorsports sanctioning bodies, athletes and teams, but the NASCAR deal signals the biggest sponsorship step in the company's history. "Monster has built its brand on racing and motorsports, and NASCAR is the pinnacle of motorsports in America," said Mitch Covington, vice president of sports marketing at Monster Beverage Company. "It's American racing; we're an American brand that's a global company, and NASCAR is, too. When the opportunity came along to further associate yourself with a sport like NASCAR , it was the perfect fit for us. … NASCAR is just a hard-hitting, close-racing, fun property to be associated with." Along with naming rights to NASCAR's top series, Monster Energy will also hold race sponsorship to the NASCAR All-Star Race and become the Official Energy Drink of NASCAR . Monster Energy also said it will continue to sponsor Stewart-Haas Racing 's No. 41 car. Thursday's announcement is the culmination of a lengthy and thorough search by NASCAR to find the successor to Sprint , whose entitlement sponsorship will end on December 31, 2016. Steve Phelps, NASCAR executive vice president and chief global sales and marketing officer, said that the sanctioning body spoke with numerous companies throughout the process, ultimately choosing Monster Energy for a number of reasons, not the least of which was its lifestyle culture. "We have the good fortune of finding a brand that we believe works for our sport," Phelps said. "They're going to bring their lifestyle to their activation. … They're going to bring their brand, their excitement, their energy to this partnership, and the fans are going to be the winners. It's all about engaging the fans and having the fans have unique, fun experiences whether at the race track or through different mediums, through social, digital, content." Phelps said a number of ancillary details will be announced in the coming weeks. Among those still under discussion is the name of the series, the series mark and the championship trophy. Under the agreement, energy drink sponsors already involved in NASCAR may remain in place. Potential sponsors from the energy drink category will not be eligible for future sponsorship if not already involved in the sport.
NASCAR reveals multi-year partnership with Monster Energy for Premier Series Entitlement
RELATED: NASCAR , Monster Energy announce deal " NASCAR Nation reacts DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- NASCAR and Monster Energy announced today a multi-year agreement for the premier series entitlement as well as the prestigious annual NASCAR All-Star Race. Monster Energy, which will begin its tenure as naming rights partner on Jan. 1, 2017, will become only the third company to serve as the entitlement sponsor in NASCAR premier series history, following RJ Reynolds and Sprint /Nextel. As part of the agreement, the brand also becomes the Official Energy Drink of NASCAR . "Monster Energy is a brand built on excitement and enthusiasm, qualities that align with NASCAR ," said Brian France, NASCAR Chairman and CEO. "This sponsorship position is the most unique in all of sports and entertainment, and we are thrilled to have a partner that will help us further elevate the series. Today's announcement is the culmination of a thorough search, one that resulted in the right partner at this important time in our sport’s history." NASCAR premier series races long have been a bucket-list destination for sports fans throughout the country, and starting next season, Monster Energy will elevate the event experience to an even higher level. As part of the agreement, Monster Energy will engage with fans in creative, innovative ways at all race tracks where the premier series will race. " Monster Energy has an established and versatile history in motorsports, and we’re thrilled to take this historic next step," said Rodney Sacks, Monster Beverage Chairman and CEO. "We feel strongly that our brand is a perfect fit for this sport and its star athletes. We look forward to interacting with the millions of passionate NASCAR fans week-in, week out."
Preview Show: NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race
Denny Hamlin, driver of the No. 11 FedEx Toyota, joins Marty Snider and Chris Rice on the Preview show Presented by FedEx to help break down the changes for the upcoming NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race.
Race Rewind: NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race in 15
Relive all the moments from the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway in just 15 minutes.
Race Rewind: 2015 NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race in 15
Watch a condensed version of the 2015 NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race where a final pit stop sets up Denny Hamlin's run to the $1 million prize.
NASCAR's Champions Week 2016: A look behind the scenes
Editor's note: This story contains some strong language. Rick Hendrick stands onstage in a ballroom at the Wynn Las Vegas casino and hotel several hours before the 2016 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Awards banquet on Friday. He is wearing an untucked dress shirt, dress pants and sneakers. In front of him sit 144 tables, each full of glasses and plates and surrounded by empty chairs. A couple dozen chairs hold cardboard pictures of who will sit in them tonight. Tony Stewart 's picture -- on table 14, like his car number for his Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet -- is directly in front of Hendrick. In the back of the hall, Hendrick's speech scrolls by on a giant teleprompter. Hendrick reads along. The microphone is not on, and though I'm standing only 10 feet from him, I can barely hear him. He is practicing modulating his voice so he doesn't yell into the microphone during his speech 10 hours from now. As owner of Hendrick Motorsports , this is his 12th premier series championship, so he has the hang of this whole speech-giving thing. To Hendrick's right, Tony Stewart -- the man, not the cardboard picture -- enters. He struts past tables, emphasis on strut. Every time I see Stewart at 2016 NASCAR Champion's Week events, he bounces around like a caged man about to be set free after his last banquet as a NASCAR driver. He interrupted an interview I was doing with Denny Hamlin yesterday to report to Hamlin that he had 29 hours left ... but who's counting? It's in the 50s outside, but Stewart is wearing black shorts and a gray T-shirt. His scruff looks like what another man's would if he hadn't shaved in a week. For Stewart, that's probably 30 minutes. All in all, he looks incredibly spry considering last night he repeatedly slugged heaping gulps from a bottle of tequila. As he nears the stage, Stewart sees Hendrick speaking. "Hurry up!" Stewart says and throws his arms up in mock frustration. Hendrick doesn't hear him, so Stewart repeats this as he gets closer to the stage. Stewart climbs the stairs to give Hendrick a hug. They stand with their arms around each other for a minute or two. Perhaps aware he looks like he came from the gym, Stewart assures Hendrick that physical contact is OK. He is not soaked in sweat. He is dressed like that, he says, because he hasn't gone to bed yet. It is 10:30 a.m. If Stewart ever had a Give A Rip gene (doubtful), it turned dormant this week. He has been in peak Stewart form, messing with everyone about everything and dropping smart aleck comments like confetti everywhere he goes. But in a few hours, Stewart will return to this stage and leave it almost speechless. Of all the big surprises in this three-day celebration of the 2016 NASCAR season, that might be the biggest. • • •
Dale Earnhardt Jr. cleared to resume NASCAR competition
RELATED: Dale through the years " Recovery timeline CAIN: Dale Jr.'s strong stand makes him, sport better NASCAR premier series driver Dale Earnhardt Jr . has received medical clearance to resume his racing career, Hendrick Motorsports announced Thursday. Earnhardt Jr., 42, was sidelined for the final 18 races of the 2016 season after suffering a concussion. On Wednesday, he participated in an on-track testing session at Darlington Raceway under the supervision of Charlotte neurosurgeon Dr. Jerry Petty. Earnhardt was cleared by Dr. Micky Collins, medical director of the UPMC Sports Medicine Concussion Program in Pittsburgh. Collins, who consulted with Dr. Petty following Wednesday's on-track activity, has overseen Earnhardt's rehabilitation program and also treated him for a similar injury in 2012. "I expected things to go really well yesterday, and that’s exactly what happened," Earnhardt said of an afternoon spent behind the wheel at the 1.366-mile South Carolina track. "Actually getting in a race car was an important final step, and it gives me a ton of confidence going into 2017." Earnhardt completed 185 laps in his No. 88 Chevrolet during the course of the nearly five-hour session. Crew chief Greg Ives was on hand to oversee his driver’s efforts as well. Earnhardt, recently voted the series most popular driver for the 14th consecutive season, said he expects to do more testing in January "to help knock the rust off." RELATED: Junior wins NMPA Sprint Most Popular Driver Award "When it's time to go to Daytona, I' ll be ready," the winner of 26 premier series races said. The 2017 racing season officially gets underway with the 59th running of the Daytona 500 , scheduled for Sunday, Feb. 26 (2 p.m. ET, FOX, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). Earnhardt will not compete in the annual non-points, season-opening race, The Clash at Daytona International Speedway (Feb. 18, 8 p.m. ET, FS1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). Instead, HMS officials said Alex Bowman , who filled in for Earnhardt in 10 of the final 18 races of 2016, will drive the team's No. 88 entry. Bowman won the pole at Phoenix in November, his first in the series. "Everyone agreed that he more than earned (the opportunity)," Earnhardt said, "and (sponsor) Nationwide was 100 percent on board." RELATED: NASCAR community reacts to Junior's return It's possible Earnhardt could participate in up to two additional tests – Hendrick Motorsports is one of four teams expected to take part in a Goodyear tire test scheduled for Jan. 10-11 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway , and the season's first organizational test is tentatively scheduled for Jan. 31/Feb. 1 at Phoenix International Raceway . Collins called Earnhardt "one of the hardest-working patients I've ever encountered." "He's done everything we've asked, and we believe he is ready to compete at a professional level again and can withstand the normal forces of a race car driver," Collins said. "Dale has been very open with us, and we've had plenty of time for his treatment, so we feel very good about his long-term prospects and how this has been managed by everyone involved." Team owner Rick Hendrick said he's proud of Earnhardt "for listening to his body and standing up to take responsibility for his health. "He's worked extremely hard and set a terrific example for others," Hendrick said. "It's great news as we go into the offseason, and we can't wait to see him back on the race track at Daytona." In addition to Bowman, four-time series champion Jeff Gordon also drove for the team in eight starts during Earnhardt's absence. Earnhardt was 13th in points with six top-five finishes before being sidelined prior to the July race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway and wound up 32nd in the final standings. The 2012 injury forced him to miss two races; he finished 12th in points that season. &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;
One crew member reinstated, one suspended by NASCAR
NASCAR reinstated crew member Michael Casto on Tuesday after he successfully completed NASCAR's Road to Recovery Program. Casto was a crew member with Stewart-Haas Racing 's No. 4 team and driver Kevin Harvick when he was suspended after the Cheez-It 355 at The Glen, the August Sprint Cup Series race at Watkins Glen International . Ryan D. Hess, a crew member with BK Racing , was placed on indefinite suspension on Tuesday by the sanctioning body.
Best in-car audio from the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race
Go inside the cars and listen in on team communications as Chase Elliott and Danica Patrick get voted in, Tony Stewart races his final all-star event and Joey Logano takes home a cool $1 million in the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race.