Nationwide to give fans inside look at Dale Earnhardt Jr.
NASCAR fans will get an inside look into Dale Earnhardt Jr .'s return to racing beginning next Tuesday thanks to a six-part series provided by Nationwide Insurance. Nationwide is the official primary sponsor of the No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet driven by Earnhardt in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series . "Unfinished Business" documents the offseason preparation and work behind Earnhardt's return to competition following last year's injury-shortened season. NASCAR's most popular driver missed the final 18 races of the year after suffering a concussion. The series is scheduled to go live on the Nationwide 88 Facebook page each Tuesday between Jan. 24 and this year's Feb. 26th running of the Daytona 500 . Two episodes will air the week leading into the season-opening race. A preview (trailer) of the series was posted to the Nationwide 88 Facebook page Thursday just before 6 p.m. ET. "Based on everything that happened last year, we wanted to really capitalize on Dale getting back in the car and all the excitement and interest, just the fans' general hunger for as much Dale Jr. content as we could provide," Jim McCoy, director of sports marketing for Nationwide , told NASCAR.com. "Going into the offseason as we did our production shoot for 2017 as we normally do, we wanted to add on a new layer ... a behind-the-scenes unique look around Dale. The offseason processes around production shoots, around designing the car, all the things that go into getting ready for Daytona. And having a real personal view from Dale conveying that." Each segment of the six-part series is short, informative and entertaining. For 2016, Nationwide produced a successful paint scheme unveil for Earnhardt's No. 88 entry. But following his injury officials wanted to go a little deeper this year. Portions of the series include Earnhardt's wife, Amy, car owner Rick Hendrick and crew chief Greg Ives. "Just the people that are really close to everything ... that fans don't normally get," McCoy said. Earnhardt's prior medical condition didn't hinder the process, but sensitivities surrounding the issue were addressed with the Hendrick organization. McCoy said it is "a very small part of this six-episode series." "This is truly more about getting ready for Daytona; we absolutely touch on the subject of him being out of the car because you have to," he said. "But I would say the majority of it is around what goes into the offseason preparation, why he is even more excited for this year and all that." Among the information provided to fans will be why there may be a different look to this year's No. 88 Nationwide paint scheme. Earnhardt has always been actively involved in determining the appearance of his race cars and coming up with the look for this year's car was no different. "There was a unique little nugget that came out that we'd not heard on him growing up around his grandfather and his dad racing based on the car coming back from the race track," McCoy said. "The lighter cars you could always tell how the race went based on where the tire marks were, the dirt and everything else. On a white car you always had a better sense of that and we've really transitioned to a lighter paint scheme this year with more white mixed into it. "He pulls in some of those personal stories that we hadn't heard and I think the fans will get a really big kick out of learning a little bit more about why he likes lighter paint schemes." Earnhardt has 26 career wins in NASCAR's top series, and his final three -- at Talladega, Daytona and Phoenix in 2015 -- came with Nationwide on the car in a primary role. The company, which previously was the title sponsor for what is now the XFINITY Series, has been affiliated with Earnhardt and his family for many years. McCoy said the series sponsorship, which ran from 2008-14, was crucial in helping to prepare Nationwide for its relationship with Earnhardt. "We learned a lot and we would not have been ready and in position to be able to take over as majority primary (sponsor) of the No. 1 driver in the sport, for the fans' demands and what they would want out of a sponsor," he said. "I think the Nationwide Series allowed us to really learn and do a lot of great things. "But we've taken the program to new levels and heights in partnership with Dale. He's our best customer and we can authentically connect with him and our products and services because it's real. It's been real since he was 16 years old. As we're trying to expand the message of who Nationwide is and what we do, the many sides of our company." &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;
Earnhardts on giving and receiving end of special gifts
It's probably difficult to surprise a driver like Dale Earnhardt Jr . who's used to lightning quick movements in a NASCAR race, but that's exactly what Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, did when it named an activity room after Earnhardt and his wife Amy on Saturday. Both went on social media to share their appreciation for the honor: Blown away by @ Nationwide gift to me and @AmyEarnhardt . They renamed the @nationwidekids Activity Room in our honor. Incredibly humbling. pic.twitter.com/cqBBx3Cfob — Dale Earnhardt Jr . (@DaleJr) January 22, 2017 Humbling to say the very least. Thank you so much for all you do for the many treated @nationwidekids ! We will come back to visit soon! https://t.co/WFMDpYjDGN — Amy Earnhardt (@AmyEarnhardt) January 22, 2017 But that's not all that made it a special weekend for the Earnhardts. Junior auctioned off cars at Barrett-Jackson in Scottsdale, Arizona, and raised $400,000 for @Nationwidekids . That's a lot of zeros and a good weekend of work for the driver of the No. 88 Nationwide Chevrolet for Hendrick Motorsports . A big check with lots of zeros. #ForTheKids #NW88JR pic.twitter.com/gSpytkPAhT — Nationwide 88 (@nationwide88) January 22, 2017
Owen Wilson named Grand Marshal for Daytona 500
MORE: Buy tickets to the race DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Jan. 19, 2017) -- Actor Owen Wilson, the voice of the animated character Lightning McQueen in Disney Pixar's upcoming movie "Cars 3," will serve as Grand Marshal for the 59th annual DAYTONA 500 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race on Feb. 26 at Daytona International Speedway . The Daytona 500 , the season-opening race for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series , will begin at 2 p.m. (TV -- FOX, FOX Deportes; Radio -- MRN Radio, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) following Wilson delivering the famous "Drivers, start your engines" command to the 40-car field. In addition to giving the command, Wilson will ride in one of the Grand Marshal cars during pace laps prior to the green flag of the 200-lap, 500-mile race and attend the drivers meeting. "Cars 3" opens nationwide on June 16. Wilson, who voiced Lightning McQueen in "Cars" (2006) and "Cars 2" (2011), is also known for starring roles in a variety of hit comedy films including "Wedding Crashers," "Meet the Parents," "Zoolander" and "The Royal Tenenbaums." Wilson stars in the upcoming "Wonder" and the Woody Harrelson-directed live film "Lost in London." "Owen Wilson is one of America's most beloved comedic actors and his voice has brought Lightning McQueen to life for millions of movie-goers over the last 10 years," said Daytona International Speedway President Chip Wile. "His star-power, and of course his personality, are perfect fits for 'The Great American Race.' " For more information on "Cars 3" visit http://disney.com/Cars3 . Wilson is the latest name on a long list of actors who have served as Daytona 500 Grand Marshals including Gerard Butler, Vince Vaughn, John Travolta, Ben Affleck, Nicolas Cage and Matthew McConaughey. Tickets for the 2017 DAYTONA 500 and Speedweeks can be purchased online at www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com or by calling 1-800-PITSHOP. Fans can also follow NASCAR on Twitter and stay up to speed on the latest news by using #DAYTONA500 and #SPEEDWEEKS. Stay connected with Daytona International Speedway on Twitter , Facebook , Instagram , YouTube , Pinterest and Snapchat , and by downloading the Speedway’s mobile app, for the latest Speedway news throughout the season. </p>
Hooters to sponsor Chase Elliott beginning in 2017
CONCORD, N.C. -- Hooters has joined 12-time NASCAR Cup Series champions Hendrick Motorsports as a primary sponsor of driver Chase Elliott and the No. 24 Chevrolet SS team beginning in 2017. A casual dining establishment with a deep history in NASCAR, Hooters will be a two-race primary sponsor and full-season associate sponsor of the No. 24 team in both 2017 and 2018. The Hooters Chevrolet SS will debut May 7 at Talladega Superspeedway and appear again during the Chase for the NASCAR Cup Nov. 12 at Phoenix International Raceway . Hooters has been a primary sponsor in more than 150 Cup-level races, notably as the full-season sponsor of 1992 premier series champion Alan Kulwicki. That year, Kulwicki won two races and narrowly edged Elliott’s father, 1989 Cup champion Bill Elliott , by 10 points to win the title. “Twenty-five years after being part of one of the most memorable seasons in NASCAR history, Hooters is excited to support another amazing talent in Chase Elliott and the No. 24 team,” said Carl Sweat, chief marketing officer of Hooters of America LLC. “As the official headquarters of race day, we’re proud that so many NASCAR fans choose to watch the races at Hooters every week while enjoying their favorite wings, ice cold beer and one-of-a-kind Hooters Girl hospitality.” As part of the new relationship, Hooters has launched a full year of promotions, exclusive content and commemorative merchandise for fans at www.hooters.com . Beginning today, fans can register for the chance to win a trip for two to meet Elliott and cheer on the No. 24 team from pit road at the Nov. 12 Phoenix race. Everyone who registers will receive a $5 off certificate toward their next visit to Hooters. For a limited time, the first fans to register can also purchase collectible limited-edition $24 Hooters gift cards commemorating Elliott and the new No. 24 Hooters Chevy. "Hooters started with six people in 1983, and now they’re in 42 states and 28 countries," said Rick Hendrick, owner of Hendrick Motorsports . "They've grown by focusing on the experience, earning the business of their customers and supporting terrific causes like cancer research and our men and women in uniform. NASCAR fans appreciate those things, and we have an opportunity to do some great work together." In 2016, Elliott earned Cup Series rookie of the year honors after posting 10 top-five finishes, 17 top-10s and two pole positions, including the season-opening Daytona 500 . He is a second-generation NASCAR champion, having won the 2014 XFINITY Series title at just 18 years old. Now 21, the Dawsonville, Georgia, native has already earned six wins, 47 top-fives and 84 top-10s in NASCAR national series competition. "Hooters is a place where I can let down my guard and have a good time," Elliott said. "It means a lot to have them support the No. 24 team, and I can't wait to get behind the wheel of their car. Being on the ground level of introducing a new partner to the Hendrick Motorsports family is going to be a lot of fun. Hooters has a historic place in this sport, and I'm glad they're back. Our entire team is looking forward to making the program a success." Fans are encouraged to use the #Hooters24 hashtag throughout the year to share their excitement and engage via social media.
Johnson wins NMPA Richard Petty Driver of the Year
DARLINGTON, S.C. -- Jimmie Johnson , who won a record-tying seventh NASCAR championship this past season, has been voted the winner of the 2016 Richard Petty Driver of the Year Award presented by the National Motorsports Press Association. Johnson, driver of the No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet for Hendrick Motorsports , was named on 62 percent of the ballots cast for the award of the NMPA membership. Others receiving votes were Carl Edwards ( Joe Gibbs Racing ), Martin Truex Jr . ( Furniture Row Racing ), Kevin Harvick and Tony Stewart ( Stewart-Haas Racing ) and Joey Logano ( Team Penske ). Richard Petty, Dale Earnhardt and Johnson are the only NASCAR drivers to win seven titles in what is now known as the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series . The announcement was made during the NMPA's annual Convention and Awards Dinner held in Concord, North Carolina. It marks the seventh time Johnson, 41, has received the Driver of the Year honor. He also won the award in 2004, '06, '07, '09, '10, and '13. Johnson won five races in 2016, including the season-ending Ford 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway that clinched his seventh championship. He ended the year with 11 top-five and 16 top-10 finishes in 36 races. The award is named in honor of Petty, NASCAR's win leader in its top series with 200 victories. It has been presented annually by the NMPA since 1969. Twenty-three different drivers have won the award since its inception. Other awards: Veteran motorsports journalist Al Pearce was named the 2016 recipient of the National Motorsports Press Association's Pocono Spirit Award. Pearce raised more than $13,000 through the auction of a racing helmet bearing the signatures of the 20 living World Driving Champions as well as those of Phil Hill and Sir Jack Brabham prior their passing. Proceeds from the project, which took nearly four years to complete, went to the Victory Junction Gang Camp, the Kyle Petty Charity Ride, the Jimmie Johnson Foundation and the Jeff Gordon Children's Foundation. ... Veteran public relations representative Dave Ferroni was named the 2016 recipient of the Ken Patterson Helping Others Award. Ferroni has been involved in various forms of auto racing for more than 30 years. His company, DMF Communications, currently handles public relations for Furniture Row Racing and driver Martin Truex, Jr. in NASCAR's premier series. ... ESPN.com motorsports writer Bob Pockrass was named the recipient of the National Motorsports Press Association's Joe Littlejohn Award for 2016. The award is named after the former track owner from Spartanburg, South Carolina, and is presented annually by the NMPA in recognition for outstanding service to the organization. Pockrass recently completed his eighth year as secretary treasurer for the NMPA. Richard Petty Driver of the Year Determined by vote of the membership, the Richard Petty Driver of the Year award has been presented annually since 1969 to recognize the season's most outstanding driver. It is named in honor of the seven-time NASCAR premier series champion: 2016, Jimmie Johnson ; 2015, Kyle Busch ; 2014, Kevin Harvick ; 2013, Jimmie Johnson ; 2012, Brad Keselowski ; 2011, Tony Stewart ; 2010, Jimmie Johnson ; 2009, Jimmie Johnson ; 2008, Carl Edwards ; 2007, Jimmie Johnson ; 2006, Jimmie Johnson ; 2005, Tony Stewart ; 2004, Jimmie Johnson ; 2003, Ryan Newman ; 2002, Tony Stewart ; 2001, Kevin Harvick ; 2000, Bobby Labonte ; 1999, Dale Jarrett; 1998, Jeff Gordon ; 1997, Dale Jarrett; 1996, Terry Labonte ; 1995, Jeff Gordon ; 1994, Dale Earnhardt; 1993, Rusty Wallace; 1992, Davey Allison; 1991, Harry Gant; 1990, Dale Earnhardt; 1989, Mark Martin; 1988, Rusty Wallace; 1987, Dale Earnhardt; 1986, Tim Richmond and Dale Earnhardt; 1985, Bill Elliott ; 1984, Terry Labonte ; 1983, Bobby Allison; 1982, Darrell Waltrip; 1981, Darrell Waltrip; 1980 Dale Earnhardt; 1979 Cale Yarborough; 1978 Cale Yarborough; 1977, Cale Yarborough; 1976, Darrell Waltrip; 1975, Richard Petty; 1974, Richard Petty; 1973, David Pearson; 1972, Bobby Allison; 1971, Bobby Allison; 1970, Bobby Isaac; 1969, LeeRoy Yarbrough.
NASCAR TV schedule: Jan. 23-29
Lady Antebellum to perform Daytona 500 pre-race show
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Jan. 23, 2017) -- The multi-platinum trio Lady Antebellum will perform the pre-race-show prior to the start of the 59th annual Daytona 500 on Sunday, Feb. 26 (FOX, FOX Deportes, MRN Radio and SiriusXM Radio), the opening race of the 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season. Honing in on the melodious foundation that first brought Lady Antebellum together, the group returns to radio airwaves with "You Look Good," while concurrently announcing it as the debut single off their sixth studio album Heart Break (Capitol Nashville), to be released June 9. Charles Kelley, Hillary Scott and Dave Haywood simultaneously share plans to return to the road, with more than 65 shows planned in six countries on their You Look Good World Tour, presented by NABISCO. With more than 18 million units sold, seven-time GRAMMY award winning group Lady Antebellum has earned nine No. 1 hits and countless other awards including Billboard Music Awards, People's Choice Awards and Teen Choice Awards, while also taking home ACM and CMA "Vocal Group of the Year" trophies three years in a row. For more information about new music and upcoming tour dates, visit www.ladyantebellum.com . This year's Daytona 500 will be Lady Antebellum's third appearance at Daytona International Speedway . The group performed the 2008 pre-race concert for the Coke Zero 400 Powered By Coca-Cola and most recently at last year’s inaugural Country 500 Music Festival. " 'The Great American Race' will have one of today's great American country music acts front-and-center for our fans to enjoy," said Speedway President Chip Wile. "Lady Antebellum continues a long-standing DIS tradition of attracting major stars from the world of entertainment to the 'World Center of Racing' and the Daytona 500 ." All race fans who purchase UNOH Fanzone/Pre-Race access for the Daytona 500 will be able to view Lady Antebellum's Daytona 500 Pre-Race Show, as well as driver introductions, from the grass tri-oval area. A limited number of Daytona 500 Pre-Race Show ticket packages, available starting at $239, have been designed around Lady Antebellum and include a Daytona 500 ticket, UNOH Fanzone/Pre-Race access and VIP area access to the performance. Race fans who have already purchased Daytona 500 tickets can add UNOH Fanzone/Pre-Race access and VIP area access for $114. All VIP ticket packages are on sale now. Those wishing to attend the 59th annual Daytona 500 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race will need to act quickly. Fans should also note: - Tickets can be purchased by calling 1-800-PITSHOP or visiting www.DAYTONA500.com . - Hospitality and premium seat packages, including the Trioval Club, the Rolex 24 Lounge and UNOH Fanzone/Pre-Race are also available. - For all other Speedweeks events, children 12 and under are $10 in reserved grandstands and free in general admission areas and in the UNOH Fanzone. - Fans can also visit PrimeSport.com, the new official ticket exchange and travel package provider of Daytona International Speedway . Offering multiple options for tickets, lodging and hospitality, https://www.primesport.com/d/daytona-500-tickets is ideal for fans looking for the ultimate racing experience.
Watch FOX's Daytona 500 commercial, Daytona Day clips
It's coming! The Daytona 500 is barely a month away, a fact underscored by FOX's Daytona 500 commercial on Sunday during the NFC Championship Game. You can watch it below, and then read on for other spots from celebrities. The Great American Race is coming. #DAYTONA500 pic.twitter.com/TLy1c1SYjY — NASCAR (@NASCAR) January 23, 2017 Daytona Day is fun, and so is FOX's hit new comedy "The Mick," starring Kaitlin Olson -- and therefore it made perfect sense for her to promo the Super Bowl of NASCAR during the network's coverage of the Atlanta-Green Bay tilt. However, let's hope The Great American Race is more competitive than the 44-21 beatdown the Falcons put on the Packers. (Just ask Denny Hamlin and Martin Truex Jr . about entertaining finishes.) Every family needs a funky aunt like "The Mick" to get the Daytona Day party started: How's your #DaytonaDay party plan going? @TheMickFOX is ready! #DAYTONA500 @DISupdates #NASCAR https://t.co/QuvCLrQycW — FOX SPORTS: NASCAR (@NASCARONFOX) January 22, 2017 Or would Schmidt, played by Max Greenfield on FOX's "New Girl," host the better party? Of course, he thinks so: Make your #DaytonaDay party "THE BEST!" @NewGirlonFOX #NASCAR #DAYTONA500 https://t.co/zzvCalpwxL — FOX SPORTS: NASCAR (@NASCARONFOX) January 22, 2017
Drivers' outlook: 'The best racing you've ever seen'
RELATED: Fast facts on the enhancements CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- NASCAR's top drivers certainly gave the series' newest enhancements a double thumbs-up Monday night as the racing sanctioning body unveiled an exciting new brand of racing. And winning. Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series drivers Dale Earnhardt Jr ., Denny Hamlin and Brad Keselowski joined a Who's Who of NASCAR representatives on stage in downtown Charlotte to formally introduce and strongly endorse the format, which will award points throughout designated portions of the race in addition rewarding the final results. WATCH: New format explained in 1 minute "Every single race matters and not only that, every lap matters," defending Daytona 500 winner Hamlin said. "The old-school fans actually should love this. We're getting back to crowning your champion over 36 races and every single race matters." Added retired driver turned television broadcaster Jeff Burton : "It bridges what it used to be to what it is today." Finding an exciting, sensible and fair way to divvy up points and reward effort was the fundamental reasoning behind the change. And "listening to the fans," was a common refrain throughout the night. NASCAR Executive Vice President and Chief Racing Development Officer Steve O'Donnell reiterated that the sport values its fan feedback and anticipates the new points format as a way to spike interest for the fans and to give the drivers and teams new strategies toward a season championship trophy. WATCH: Junior's take on the format enhancements "It's a real subtle change once you stand back and look at it," Earnhardt said. "A lot of things we do bring fan interest only or driver interest only. And I think this kind of does both." As expected, NASCAR drivers took to social media to offer their reviews of the sport's big change and it was met with resounding encouragement. "Let's see. ... WIN. WIN. WIN. Sounds good to me," reigning seven-time Cup champion Jimmie Johnson posted on Twitter. Stewart-Haas Racing driver Clint Bowyer tweeted, "Digging the new @NASCAR racing format. Going to be interesting to see how these stage points affect the way the teams race the entire race." RELATED: Drivers tweet about 2017 upgrades Certainly the different format -- which will give points to the top-10 finishers in the first two stages, plus points to the ultimate race winner and rest of the entire field -- means new tactics. And new opportunity. As part of the revised format, the regular-season points leader will be honored as the regular-season champion and given 15 playoff points when the standings are reset to start the 10-race playoff run. "Basically you're going to throw two cautions," Earnhardt said, simplifying the in-race changes. "You're going to know when they are, which is actually kind of comforting. "You're going to see basically the same format as far as who wins the race and how the races are decided. The playoff doesn't really change at all. You're just going to have two breaks in every race that are going to be potentially rewarding to your driver. "That, to me, creates interest. " Keselowski said confidently of the new system, "I would tell anybody, when you want to get up at Lap 30 for that bowl of chips, you're not going to want to get up. It's going to be the first segment and you're going to see some great action. "You're going to see a moment like the pass in the grass that's going to be for the end of the first segment. Those are the moments that are going to make you really want to watch and love NASCAR racing for a long, long time. "Wait until you see it on the race track," Keselowski promised, "When you see this on the race track, this is going to be the best racing you've ever seen."
Dale Jr.'s 2017 No. 88 Nationwide scheme unveiled
Dale Earnhardt Jr .'s No. 88 Nationwide Chevrolet for the 2017 season in NASCAR's premier series was revealed on Tuesday via Nationwide 88's Facebook page. BREAKING NEWS: Check out @DaleJr 's 2017 @ Nationwide paint scheme. #NW88JR pic.twitter.com/gB5c3v8Z9q — Nationwide 88 (@nationwide88) November 29, 2016 Earnhardt tweeted out a preview of his car's new paint job a day prior to the unveil. 2017 @nationwide88 production today and tomorrow. Unveiling new car Tuesday. pic.twitter.com/AUAeK4LA2R — Dale Earnhardt Jr . (@DaleJr) November 28, 2016 The company has been a primary partner with Hendrick Motorsports since 2014 and was featured as a primary sponsor on the No. 88 ride for 21 races in 2016. Here is a look at the 2016 scheme on track. Earnhardt, who was sidelined for 18 races in 2016 due to a concussion, is expected to return to make his first start since July in the 2017 season-opening Daytona 500 on Feb. 26. Both the driver as well as team owner Rick Hendrick have expressed their confidence that Earnhardt will be cleared for the start of the season. &amp;lt;/p&amp;gt;