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RPM, Empire Racing team up for driver development program
MOORESVILLE, N.C. - Richard Petty Motorsports has announced a driver development partnership with Empire Racing Group for the 2016 season. Empire Racing Group will field a truck in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series with the iconic, stylized No. 43. The truck will run the colors of Petty's Garage as the primary sponsor in the NextEra Energy Resources 250 under the Friday night lights in Daytona. Austin Hill will be the first driver to pilot the No. 43 truck and a roster of various drivers will fill out the remainder of the schedule. The team will be led by Empire Racing Group Crew Chief Michael Cheek. The 2016 season will be the 20th anniversary of Cheek's first run with the No. 43 truck. After leading the team as crew chief for driver Rich Bickle as part of the Petty Enterprises stable, the Petty family and Cheek will once again team up to put the truck on track. "I am excited to once again partner with Richard Petty and his organization to race in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series," said Cheek. "Together, we have the opportunity to put great drivers in this truck and keep our machine at the front of the field. We have a lot of great things planned for this season, and we're excited to see where this program will take both race teams." The No. 43, made famous by "The King" Richard Petty, will adorn the side of the truck in the same style as it has appeared on the historic and current Richard Petty Motorsports race cars. This will be the first partnership in the Truck Series for Richard Petty Motorsports . "This is a great opportunity for Richard Petty Motorsports to develop up-and-coming drivers who will become the future of our sport," said Brian Moffitt, Chief Executive Officer of Richard Petty Motorsports . "It will be great to see the No. 43 return to the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and to have Petty's Garage as the primary sponsor of the race at Daytona. The 2016 season is sure to produce great results for both Richard Petty Motorsports and Empire Racing Group." More information and details about the driver development program will be released at a later date.
Reddick eyes Daytona repeat, fast start in 2016
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Tyler Reddick said he remembers, "looking out my rear-view mirror more than I did my front windshield the whole race it seemed like." That'll be the case when you lead the final 33 laps at Daytona International Speedway , the 2.5-mile superspeedway that plays host to NASCAR’s Camping World Truck Series opener Friday. Keeping tabs on those behind him, hoping for the uneventful as the laps wind down. Reddick, 20, earned his first career victory in the series here last season. Now the driver of the No. 29 Brad Keselowski Racing Ford (he drove the team’s No. 19 last season), Reddick will be looking to score a second consecutive victory in the season-opening event, the NextEra Energy Resources 250 (Friday, 7:30 p.m. ET, FS1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). "It was very nerve-wracking because you're out front and you don't know what’s going on behind you," Reddick said Thursday at Daytona. "Fortunately, I had a really good teammate (in) Austin Theriault ; he did an outstanding job. We worked together really good all race long. … He went for it and it didn't work out for him on the last lap." Theriault will be back as a teammate this season, in a one-race Daytona deal with BKR, while Daniel Hemric also returns and will be in the organization's No. 19 Ford. Reddick, a native of Corning, California, finished second in points to Erik Jones ( Kyle Busch Motorsports) in the NCWTS last season. In addition to his Daytona victory, Reddick also scored a win at Dover International Speedway . The Daytona victory, he said, taught him a lot about racing on the big track. "The biggest thing is you have to qualify (well)," he said. "The qualifying is different. Once again we have to do everything we can on our single-truck run to qualify up front. But also, we have to have clean pit stops. We have to do everything we can to make sure we do not lose positions under caution. It's really hard to gain them back in the Truck Series … unless you get a really good group of guys going on the outside to get up to the front of the pack. "You have to really control your race, not make any mistakes, be passively aggressive I guess. You can't just jump out of line; you have to make sure you have someone to go with you if you want to go to the front. Hopefully we're up front all night long and we don't have to worry about it." A new over-the-wall pit crew will service the No. 29 as last year’s group has been promoted to the XFINITY Series where they will pit Team Penske ’s No. 22 Ford. "It's going to be a learning process," Reddick said. "We're going to have to grow together as a team." Reddick's 2015 victory stopped an eight-race win streak by Toyota teams in the season-opening event. … Former series champion Todd Bodine is the only driver to score multiple wins in the race, winning back-to-back Daytona races in 2008-09. … Friday night's event is scheduled to take the green flag at 7:52 p.m. ET.
NASCAR Next's Austin Hill snags part-time Truck ride
NASCAR Next driver Austin Hill is set for a part-time schedule this season in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. The 21-year-old Georgia native will compete in the season-opening NextEra Energy Resources 250 (Feb. 19, 7:30 p.m. ET, FOX Sports 1, MRN/SiriusXM) at Daytona International Speedway , driving a Ford for Empire Racing Group. Hill will then shift to his family team of Austin Hill Racing for the rest of the season, according to a release provided Monday by his representatives. Hill competed in six Camping World Truck Series events the last two seasons. He also has five victories in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East, where he finished third in the driver standings last year. "We're just trying to step up the ranks," Hill said. "I feel like this move will be a good stepping stone for us as a team, and I want to go out there and prove that we belong in this series." The release indicated that Atlanta, Dover, Kentucky, Bristol, Texas were among the tracks on Hill's partial slate, which is scheduled to span more than half of the season's 23 races. Doug Chouinard, who has worked with Hill in the K&N ranks, will serve as the team's crew chief.
Daytona sells out stadium tickets for 500
RELATED: Buy tickets to Daytona, other races DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Feb. 16, 2016) -- Reserved stadium tickets for the 58th annual DAYTONA 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race, the first following the completion of the $400 million DAYTONA Rising redevelopment project, are sold out. Ticket holders for "The Great American Race" will enjoy 101,500 permanent and wider seats, five expanded and redesigned entrances, 40 escalators and upgraded amenities throughout the 11 football-field sized neighborhoods in the world’s first motorsports stadium. Premium hospitality, infield admissions and Sprint FANZONE/Pre-Race access still remain for the DAYTONA 500 and fans have an opportunity to enjoy the new motorsports stadium during other Speedweeks 2016 events including the PowerShares QQQ 300 , NextEra Energy Resources 250 and the Cam-Am Duel 150-mile qualifying races. Tickets are available at www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com or by calling 1-800-PITSHOP. "We're ecstatic to hold the first DAYTONA 500 since the completion of our $400 million DAYTONA Rising project," said Daytona International Speedway President Joie Chitwood III. "The demand for this historic race has been tremendous, and we look forward to waving the green flag on February 21." This year’s DAYTONA 500 will be attended by fans representing 44 different countries and every state in the U.S.
Stylin' and profilin': Nemechek to sport 'Nature Boy' Ric Flair look
Inside Groove: Racing with an attitude RELATED: Learn more about Nemechek To be the man, you have to beat John Hunter Nemechek ... and his flashy, new Ric Flair-inspired racing helmet. Or something like that. The young Camping World Truck Series driver -- who was born in 1997, during the twilight years of the "Nature Boy's" historic professional wrestling career -- will sport an electrifying helmet in 2016, debuting later this month at Daytona International Speedway for the season-opening NextEra Energy Resources 250 (Feb. 19, 7:30 p.m. ET, FS1). "I always heard dad talk about Ric Flair as one of his idols," John Hunter Nemechek told NASCAR Talk . "A bunch of the guys in the shop … pretty much everyone is a big Ric Flair fan. We're hoping to get him out to a race at one point."
Strategy play on caution clock leads to wreck
RELATED: Full race results DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series' new caution clock rule came into play for the first time in the season-opening race at Daytona International Speedway . Sort of. The NASCAR rule -- new this season for the truck tour -- mandates that the yellow flag fly if a caution period hasn't slowed the event after 20 minutes of green-flag racing. During Friday night's NextEra Energy Resources 250 , it meant teams were watching not only the lap counter but also the new caution clock. After the timer's debut, teams may also be watching for possible rules tweaks. With less than 20 seconds remaining before the clock was set to expire, a handful of teams scrambled to dive to pit road on Lap 42. The strategy would have given the early birds track position over the drivers who stopped during the impending caution. But several trucks made contact trying to slow for the pit entrance, sending Cody Coughlin and Spencer Gallagher spinning. Coughlin smacked the inside retaining wall. Gallagher looped his truck and collided with the pitting truck of Christopher Bell , before nosing into the infield grass. As a result, the 100-lap race's third yellow flag -- with 11 seconds remaining on the caution clock timer -- went into the race's statistics as a naturally occurring caution period. Gallagher, who wound up 21st in the 32-truck field, suggested that competition officials close pit road at a certain point before the clock is set to expire to prevent a recurrence. NASCAR race procedure is to close pit road shortly before a competition caution period begins. "I'm going to be real forthright about it," Gallagher told NASCAR.com. "NASCAR needs to add some kind of shutdown to pit road. I'd say probably even around five minutes before the caution clock is due to hit, just because of that exact reason it happened. It just invites too much gamesmanship with making a green-flag stop and trying to outsmart everyone else. That's what happens. Things get way too crazy." One driver who just missed the carnage was race winner Johnny Sauter , Gallagher's teammate at GMS Racing. Sauter was making his entry to pit road as the bedlam erupted behind him; his No. 21 truck just missed being part of the stack-up. "I knew it was going to be chaos, and I really thought about making the call of pitting the lap before that so we wouldn't be in all that," Sauter said after securing the 11th victory of his truck series career. "I really think it's going to -- I wish they could close pit road a couple, three minutes before the caution clock comes out so we don't have this problem every week at these other racetracks, Texas, Michigan. It'll make it so much nicer. "I know we want to make it interesting for the fans, but we don't want to have tore ‑ up race trucks like we did tonight on a pit stop." Third-place finisher Parker Kligerman , making his first truck start since 2014, attributed part of the frenzy to the lack of hand signaling from high amount of rookie drivers making their first superspeedway appearances. Protocol at restrictor-plate tracks calls for drivers to indicate on the backstretch that they intend to pit. Runner-up Ryan Truex seconded Kligerman's thoughts, saying that he had little indication that so many trucks would be pitting. But he also said he welcomed the provision in the rules change that turns the caution clock off for the final 20 laps. "I think it's different. It spices it up a little bit," Truex said after his career-best truck result. "I'm glad that we got rid of it at the end there and got to run 15 laps straight or whatever it was, 10 laps straight." No other green-flag run in the 100-lap race came close to the caution clock's 20-minute limit.
'Big One' collects multiple trucks at Daytona
RELATED: Gallagher, Coughlin crash early " Full race results DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- The wild and unpredictable Camping World Truck Series lived up to its billing Friday night at Daytona International Speedway , with 18 trucks involved in a crash with less than 10 laps remaining in the NextEra Energy Resources 250 . Then, on the final lap of the season-opening race, another multi-truck incident unfolded, this one seeing the truck of Christopher Bell rolling several times on the frontstretch. Bell climbed from the truck without assistance, although NASCAR officials later said the driver had been transported to a local hospital for further evaluation. At 1 a.m. ET Saturday, Kyle Busch Motorsports tweeted a press release that stated Bell had been evaluated and released. RELATED: 'Big One' strikes again in final lap of Truck Series race Contact between Timothy Peters , Matt Crafton and John Hunter Nemechek appeared to set off the first incident, which unfolded in Turn 1 and brought out the red flag as officials and safety workers attended to those involved. "Not quite sure what happened," driver Cameron Hayley said after being evaluated and released from the infield care center. "Hard racing there, I guess. We just caught bumpers the wrong way … I guess that's Daytona." Rookie Rico Abreu, Haley's teammate at ThorSport Racing, was also among those collected. "Just trying to get the third (outside) lane going," Abreu said. "(You) could get it going at times … just really tried to stay patient all night and it comes down to this." "Definitely an unfortunate day," said Brad Keselowski Racing driver Austin Theriault . "We could make moves, pull really good. … I laid it all out there. It's just sad for the guys. I'm fine, glad I hit the safety barrier." It was the sixth caution in the scheduled 100-lap season-opening event. Caution No. 7 wasn't far behind. After a delay of 27 min., 54 seconds, officials removed the red flag and allowed teams to begin work on repairing those entries able to continue. "The big wreck I expected," third-place finisher Parker Kligerman said. "I was sitting there at the back of the pack … everyone was trying to go three-wide, trying to make the outside line work and it just wouldn't work. "There eventually comes a point in the race where you can see the race kind of take a character … the race takes a shift and everyone's just hitting each other as hard as they can. I could see it happening so I sort of backed off and suddenly the 88 (of two-time series champion Matt Crafton ) gets turned sideways and that big wreck happened." Johnny Sauter (GMS Racing) won the event. It was his second victory at the 2.5-mile track (he also won here in 2013) and the 11th of his career. It was the first Camping World Truck Series win for Chevrolet at Daytona. MORE: Strategy play with caution clock results in wreck
Safelite partners with Rico Abreu, ThorSport
Sandusky, Ohio (February 17, 2016) - ThorSport Racing announced today that Safelite AutoGlass, the nation's largest provider of vehicle glass repair and replacement services, will be the primary sponsor of the No. 98 Toyota Tundra driven by Rico Abreu during his rookie season in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) in 2016. Abreu, the 2014 USAC National Midget champion, open wheel standout, and back-to-back Chili Bowl Nationals winner, recently announced he would join the Sandusky, Ohio based team in 2016, piloting the No. 98 Toyota Tundra as he competes for Sunoco Rookie of the Year honors and the 2016 NCWTS championship. "To be able to partner with a company like Safelite for my first full-time season in the Truck Series is an honor," said Rico Abreu, driver of the No. 98 Toyota Tundra. "Safelite was on my midget for this year's Chili Bowl Nationals, and we had some success finding Victory Lane. I hope to be able to continue that success with them this season as I compete for wins, Sunoco Rookie of the Year honors and the 2016 championship." With nearly 70 years of service, Safelite knows auto glass. Founded at a single location in Wichita, Kansas in 1947, the Columbus, Ohio based company has grown into the largest auto glass specialist in the United States, employing more than 12,000 people in all 50 states. From front and rear windshields to side glass, Safelite's highly trained technicians serve more than 5.4 million customers each year and ensure the highest quality of work on each job they do. "We're honored to support Rico in his rookie season in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, said Renee Cacchillo, Senior Vice President of Customer, Brand & Technology. "Additionally, Safelite AutoGlass is focused on service and quality, so this is an opportunity to align with another greatly admired brand that shares our passion for customer delight." Safelite's TrueSeal™ innovative technology, MobileGlassShops™, caring customer service, experienced technicians, social responsibility, eco-friendly initiatives, and customer-focused culture are just a few reasons to trust Safelite with your auto glass needs. "As an Ohio-based team, we are very pleased and honored to be partnering with a highly respected and recognized brand," said Matt LaNeve, VP of Sales and Marketing at ThorSport Racing. "Although Safelite has a national presence, their home, much like ours, is in Ohio, and Rico (Abreu) and everyone at ThorSport Racing is honored to have them as part of our team in 2016. Through this partnership, Safelite will be exposed to the millions of loyal NASCAR fans across the country, and we are honored to help them continue to build on their nationally recognized brand at the motorsports level." Safelite AutoGlass will make their debut with Abreu in the season-opening NextEra Energy Resources 250 at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway on Friday, Feb. 19. All the action will be televised live on FOX Sports 1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR channel 90 at 7:30 p.m. ET.
Start times for Daytona Speedweeks events set
See the schedule for when NASCAR's national series will kick off in 2015 RELATED: Buy tickets for the Daytona 500 " Buy tickets for other Daytona events Daytona International Speedway released start times Friday for its 2015 Speedweeks slate of events, including a 1 p.m. ET start for the sixth straight year for the 57th running of the crown jewel Daytona 500 on Feb. 22. The start times include no major deviations from the 2014 schedule at the 2.5-mile Florida track. The most significant change is a move for the NASCAR XFINITY Series season opener to 3:30 p.m. ET; last year's first event was scheduled for a 1:15 p.m. ET start. All events will be televised on the FOX family of networks. RELATED: Video preview of 2015 season IMSA TUDOR United SportsCar Championship schedule will get underway Jan. 24 at 2:10 p.m. ET with the 53rd Rolex 24 endurance race (FOX Sports, IMSA.com), the kickoff event for Budweiser Speedweeks. NASCAR racing activity is scheduled to begin Saturday, Feb. 14 with the annual Sprint Unlimited non-points event for the Sprint Cup Series, starting at 8:15 p.m. ET (FOX). The field for the Daytona 500 will be set through Coors Light Pole Qualifying on Sunday, Feb. 15 (1:30 p.m. ET, FOX) and the Budweiser Duel at Daytona qualifying races Thursday (7 p.m. ET, FOX Sports 1). This year, pole qualifying will adopt the knockout-style, group format that was used at every Sprint Cup race except the Daytona 500 last season. The two 150-mile qualifiers will be run at night for the second consecutive year. The season-opening events for all three NASCAR national series kick off Friday night with the Camping World Truck Series' NextEra Energy Resources 250 (7 p.m. ET, FOX Sports 1), continue with Saturday's debut of the newly named XFINITY Series and its Alert Today Florida 300 (3:30 p.m. ET, FOX Sports 1) and culminating with Sunday's main event, the Daytona 500 (1 p.m. ET, FOX). Speedweeks will also offer fans a preview of portions of the Daytona Rising project, with 40,000 new seats available on the track's west side along the short chute to Turn 1. Start times for 2015 Speedweeks events at Daytona (all times Eastern) Saturday-Sunday, Jan. 24-25 -- IMSA TUDOR United SportsCar Championship, Rolex 24 At Daytona, 2:10 p.m. (FOX Sports and IMSA.com) Saturday, Feb. 14 -- ARCA Racing Series, Lucas Oil 200 Presented By American Real MAV TV, 4:15 p.m. (FOX Sports 1); NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, The Sprint Unlimited , 8:15 p.m. (FOX) Sunday, Feb. 15 -- NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, Daytona 500 Coors Light Pole Qualifying Presented By Kroger, 1:30 p.m. (FOX) Thursday, Feb. 19 -- NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, Budweiser Duel At Daytona, 7 p.m. (FOX Sports 1) Friday, Feb. 20 -- NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, NextEra Energy Resources 250 , 7:30 p.m. (FOX Sports 1) Saturday, Feb. 21 -- NASCAR XFINITY Series, Alert Today Florida 300, 3:30 p.m. (FOX Sports 1) Sunday, Feb. 22 -- NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, Daytona 500 , 1 p.m. ET (FOX). FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
'Big One' ruins the night for Peters, Kennedy
Huge wreck comes near midpoint of NextEra Energy Resources 250 Play: NASCAR Fantasy Live DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- The bad luck associated with Friday the 13th had a one-week hangover in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series as a massive 12-truck stack-up thinned the 32-truck field in Friday night's season opener at Daytona International Speedway. Starting off the year on an up note wasn't in the cards for the unfortunate dozen, all of whom had their high hopes derailed near the halfway point of the NextEra Energy Resources 250 . It was the biggest melee in the 100-lap, 250 -mile opener, continuing the trend of especially tense, close quarters racing across all three NASCAR national series at Daytona's Speedweeks. "It's just a product of the racing," said Timothy Peters, fifth in last year's final truck standings but crashed out in 24th place in the 2015 opener. "It's great racing. Just hope there'll be enough trucks on the race track to finish." The truck-swallowing conflagration began shortly after Ben Kennedy's No. 11 truck slowed with damage near the top lane at the end of the backstretch. When the pack stormed past on Lap 49, congestion and a hair-trigger reaction bottled up the single-file scrap among Austin Theriault, Scott Lagasse Jr. and James Buescher, snaring bystanders behind them. A blown tire on Kennedy's truck, battered from an earlier altercation, forced the second-year driver to limp his Red Horse Racing around the 2.5-mile track. With the pack bearing down on him, he was unable to steer to safety on the apron. "It was either wreck it into the pack or wreck it into the wall, and we had pretty much wreck it into the wall at that point," Kennedy said. "Stinks for these guys, it stinks for (sponsor) Local Motors and that's not the best way to start the season, but we'll get them from here." By the time the sparks and smoke died down in Turn 3, Buescher, Peters, Kennedy, John Wes Townley, Ryan Ellis, Spencer Gallagher, Chris Fontaine, Cameron Hayley, Daniel Hemric and Todd Peck had piled in. Theriault and Johnny Sauter also were involved but to a lesser degree. Though several drivers involved made the mandatory trip to the infield care center, all emerged unhurt but with stories of scary views to share. "It was funny. I saw kind of the obvious -- cars starting to collide -- and then I saw my hood all over my windshield for the rest of it," said Gallagher, who started 10th. "Sadly, there wasn't much to be done. … This is but a setback. We know what we are and what we've got for this year." Said Hayley, a product of the NASCAR Next program: "I was following the 05 of John Wes Townley and all I saw was smoke. Just white smoke and I tried to go to the outside and just couldn't get there and next thing you know my hood is crunched and I was sideways." MORE: READ: Latest NASCAR news PLAY: Sign up for Fantasy Live WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView today FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule