NASCAR executive weighs in on busy racing weekend NASCAR Executive Vice President and Chief Racing Development Officer Steve O'Donnell said Monday on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio that competition officials were working to increase side- by -side racing and passing near the front of the pack after a NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race that heavily favored leading cars. O'Donnell said that the process goes on every day at the sanctioning body's Research & Development Center in Concord, North Carolina , as NASCAR moves closer to making a final decision on the rules package for its premier Sprint Cup Series in 2016. "We actually do that every day," O'Donnell said. "We're focused on the racing, so when you look at particularly that race, we look at that as one of all of our events. We're a third of the way through the season. Lot of really great dialogue going on with the drivers, with the owners, with the race tracks, looking at how does the racing compare really over the last three to five years what, if any, of the levers can we look at as we look to the '16 package. So those discussions take place every day and we'll continue to do that today and heading into the season. "But still a third of the way through, too early to make an overall decision but certainly a lot of dialogue going on." Saturday night, Denny Hamlin claimed the $1 million All-Star prize after his Joe Gibbs Racing crew won the race off pit road before the final 10-lap segment. Once out in clean, non-turbulent air, Hamlin set sail to lead the rest of the way, taking the checkered flag by .923 seconds at Charlotte Motor Speedway . RELATED: Hamlin holds off Harvick to win Sprint All-Star Race The outcome was different than that of Friday night's NASCAR Camping World Truck Series North Carolina Education Lottery 200 at the intermediate-sized track. Eventual winner Kasey Kahne edged rookie Erik Jones in a captivating green-white-checkered finish after the two drivers raced side- by -side for virtually the entire two-lap shootout. O'Donnell said it was difficult to compare the two divisions, but he liked what he saw. "I think the ability to maintain that side- by -side racing is what we want to see," O'Donnell said. "There's a lot of variables with trucks, with aero, the distance of the races, who's in the field, that sort of thing. But certainly thought it was a tremendous race Friday night and of course, ultimately we'd like to see that throughout all of our divisions each and every race." This weekend's racing for all three national series brought some official rulings, both post-race and mid-race. In the truck series' event, Kahne's winning JR Motorsports No. 00 Chevrolet was deemed too low on both sides in the front and too high on one side in the rear after a post-race inspection. RELATED: Kahne wins Truck Series race, but fails post-race inspection Kahne started at the rear of the field after the team made an unapproved shock change before the race. Competition officials are expected to rule on the issue Tuesday, but O'Donnell said all factors will be considered before the final decision. "Every car or truck will have to pass pre-race inspection, so that's something that there's a balance there at the end of the race to make sure certain components aren't being manipulated, and that's our job to look at , but there's also cases where some pieces legitimately break," O'Donnell said. "These vehicles are out there running high 190s to 200 miles per hour, lots of contact especially when you talk truck racing. That's something that we take into consideration when we're evaluating all the vehicles post-race." Also in Saturday night's All-Star Race, a NASCAR spokesperson said that a crew member for the Hendrick Motorsports No. 48 team of driver Jimmie Johnson was under review for potentially altering a body panel late in the 110-lap invitational event. The practice of teams flaring out the side skirts ahead of the rear wheels was outlawed in the offseason. RELATED: Possible infraction for 48 team O'Donnell said that even though the event did not pay championship points, the high stakes would be reflected in how the NASCAR Rule Book is upheld for All-Star violations. "Still evaluating that like we do and if we make a decision to react, that would be on Tuesday, but there's a lot on the line for the All-Star Race," O'Donnell said. "It's not a points race, but certainly we know how much it means to win that race, so hopefully we don't have to make a call on this, but we would maintain the rule book throughout the race." Sunday in the NASCAR XFINITY Series 3M 250 , driver Brendan Poole was parked by NASCAR officials after retaliating in reaction to early race contact with J.J. Yeley at Iowa Speedway . O'Donnell said the immediate decision of race officials was necessary. "In this case when something happens on track, it's our policy to warn both drivers that we're going to be specifically looking at contact between those two," O'Donnell said. "In this case, we saw something that we believed was a move to really take someone out and we had to react. Not something we like doing, but we've got to react in that case and we did in Iowa." FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Kyle Busch will lead off the start of the North Carolina Education Lottery 200
NASCAR Executive Vice President & Chief Racing Development Officer, Steve O’Donnell, discusses the possibility of running the Kentucky race package at Darlington.
Oliver Rivera and Andy Moran talk about how NASCAR and Mobil 1 are active with supporting the military and how their former military service has helped them in their NASCAR careers.
18-year-old Canadian rounds out powerful ThorSport team CONCORD, N.C. -- In the dead of winter a little more than two years ago, Cameron Hayley took the route of many so-called "snow birds" from his home country of Canada to ride out the harsh February days in the far more temperate climate of Florida. This particular trip, though, wasn't simply a search for warmer weather. It also managed to launch his spring-loaded NASCAR career. Hayley, an 18-year-old driver from Calgary, Alberta, found pay dirt against top-flight short-track talent that February at Daytona International Speedway , claiming the checkered flag in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series portion of the inaugural UNOH Battle at the Beach tripleheader in 2013. He added his name to a distinguished list of winners, with an up-and-coming Kyle Larson prevailing in the Whelen All-American Series race and former Sprint Cup Series winner Steve Park scoring a resurgent victory in the Whelen Modified Tour event. "It does seem like a long time ago now," Hayley said Thursday at Charlotte Motor Speedway . "I mean, it was only two years ago, but when it comes down to it -- I've done so much since then." Though the race was an exhibition that paid out no points toward the K&N championship, it helped elevate the stature of an otherwise little-known talent from the Great White North . Fast forward, and Hayley's name takes its place on another list altogether -- as a Sunoco Rookie of the Year candidate in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series with ThorSport Racing, the championship team the last two seasons. "I think that's kind of what put me on the map with everybody," Hayley said. "Everyone started knowing my name after that and obviously moving to the K&N East Series last year it kind of got me down into the North Carolina , Charlotte-area and I guess people started to know my name more after that. It was kind of that Battle of the Beach when that really sparked people knowing me more." A pair of runner-up finishes in the K&N Series' title hunt the last two years helped that cause. So did his first ventures into the Camping World Truck Series, where he showed speed and landed two top-10s in his first three starts last season. After attracting the eye of team owner Duke Thorson and landing a seat in ThorSport's third truck alongside veteran teammates Matt Crafton and Johnny Sauter , Hayley has shown steady growth, even while visiting tracks for the first time in his national series career. Despite the unfamiliarity, Hayley has improved his finishing position each week, capped by last weekend's fifth-place effort at Kansas Speedway . More improvement is the target again at Charlotte, site of Friday night's NC Education Lottery 200 (8:30 p.m. ET, FOX Sports 1, PRN, SiriusXM). "It's definitely been tough," Hayley said. "This race is going to be my fifth new track again this year, so adjusting to all the different tracks and having all the tracks being new has definitely been difficult, but ThorSport has given me great trucks week in and week out and, like you said, we've been consistently getting better every single race. And we've had great trucks and had some bad luck, and I think Charlotte is going to be another one where I have lots to learn, but I think we have a great truck here and can do well." The learning curve may have been accelerated by having teammates in Crafton, the two-time defending series champion, and fellow veteran Sauter -- who have a combined 498 truck series starts to their credit. Hayley has 491 starts to catch the two; in the meantime, he's tapping them as a resource for as much advice as he can digest. "Both of them have been a tremendous help for me already," Hayley said. "Like I said, all these tracks have been new to me, so I can study race tapes, videos all I want, but until to you talk to a driver you don't really know a firsthand account of what's happening. Both these guys have helped me a lot. I haven't been quite quick enough to run up beside them during races yet, but I think we're getting there and I think I can learn a lot from that as well." Even though Hayley is still new to the team, Sauter said he likes what he's seen so far in the teenager's composure. "I don't really know him, he's a rookie, new to the deal -- but I think he's got a pretty good head on his shoulders," Sauter said. "I see him doing things that maybe necessarily don't see from a lot of rookie drivers and I think he's taking care of his equipment and showing speed at the same time. I think he’s been top of the board at Atlanta and Kansas, so there's speed there and he's only going to get better, so I think he's doing a great job and I see some things in him that I typically don't see in a lot of young guys at his age and at his experience level." FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
From bizarre red flag conversations to race altering pit road miscues, check out the best in-car audio from Sonoma Raceway.
This week's edition of GarageCam is full of Camping World Truck Series drivers preparing for the North Carolina Education Lottery 200 .
Driver actively involved with military causes; will adorn truck at Charlotte Brad Keselowski couldn't have imagined a trip in 2008 to Balboa Naval Hospital in San Diego, California, would still be affecting his life today. But then again, the young driver couldn't have predicted what he would hear, see or experience in that hospital either. "I went through there in the hospital and it damn near made me cry walking past all these other guys," Keselowski recalled. " At the time, I was 23. There were guys that looked like they weren't going to make it and they were my age. "I think that rattles you pretty hard, at least it did me." Less than a year later, another experience with a close friend left Keselowski shaken once more, but a bit more certain of his eventual calling. "I had a friend, a close friend, who I remember spending New Year's with in 2009," Keselowski said. "He got deployed two weeks later, was in the Middle East … and he got blown up within the first month or two. He came back and when I saw him, that's when I knew. "All these things, it felt like kind of karma or the universe was pushing me this direction. I'd say that's what got me to where I am. Once I started the events and spent time with these people, I could relate to them so well." With a nudge from the universe, Keselowski launched the Checkered Flag Foundation in 2010 -- a 501(c)(3) organization that helps support military personnel and hosts various events to raise funds and awareness. • • • His foundation was the reason Keselowski was standing in the middle of the upscale David Yurman jewelry store at SouthPark Mall in Charlotte, North Carolina , on Tuesday night. Proceeds from the store's sales that evening benefited Charlotte Bridge Home, a local foundation that supports veterans and helps former military personnel ease the transition between service and their return home. "Tonight's event is about, one, having fun; two, raising attention; and three, helping to raise funds in the process for Charlotte Bridge foundation, which is a foundation that's dedicated in a very similar fashion (to the Checkered Flag Foundation) to help servicemen, servicewomen here locally in Charlotte … trying to find a home, trying to get back on their feet," Keselowski said, addressing the group on Tuesday night. "It's a cause that we're near and dear to as well, and we're glad and proud to help support them." The night's guests included foundation members, friends, NASCAR personnel and several veterans. One of the attendees was Charlotte Bridge Home's Veteran Outreach Specialist Tommy Rieman, a Silver Star and Purple Heart recipient who Keselowski refers to as a "general badass." " The way (Keselowski) sets himself up above the other drivers by coming out and doing things like this, showing that he cares for veterans, he leads by example," said Rieman, whose military service was recognized by President George W. Bush during the 2007 State of the Union Address. "So every veteran appreciates him … You've just got to love a guy who puts on a NASCAR event at a fine jewelry store." Rieman met Keselowski during one of the ride-alongs that the driver often gave to military personnel in the Checkered Flag Foundation's infancy. Surrounded by spotless glass cases filled with sparkling gems, the pair engaged in a lengthy conversation on Tuesday as the night was winding down. Staying past the event's scheduled hours while working the room, Keselowski seemed to know a little about each of the foundation's members. "He's a veteran who was in the Vietnam Era," Keselowski said, pointing out the organization's founder Thomas Norman with whom he had just exchanged goodbyes. "He was (U.S. Army) Special Forces and for some reason, he got ranked up so quickly they wouldn't send him over because he was too important ... Feels like to me that there's some kind of feeling that maybe he needs to do something back. So he's done all kinds of different things. He started this (foundation) here I would say four years ago -- a lot of growth, right?" With the fame, fortune and stature that arrives with being a professional athlete, Keselowski shares a similar feeling of wanting to give back. "Sports in general is very decadent, it always has been," Keselowski said. "There's something to be said for that, as an escape. But those that live in the escape, I always feel like, maybe have a greater responsibility to do something outside of it. "I sit back and look at the Tom Brady situation from this weekend and how much noise that makes in the media landscape. Then you think of so many other significant things going on the world right now that get zero recognition. So in that sense, I feel like those of us that are fortunate enough to get that recognition -- for good or bad -- always have to spread it to other areas." This weekend, Keselowski's No. 29 Ford in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series featured Careers for Veterans on the hood in Friday night's NC Education Lottery 200 at Charlotte Motor Speedway , in which he finished fifth. For Keselowski, it's another way to raise awareness for the cause that speaks to him. "I read this really great quote -- I think it's from Kevin Spacey, the actor -- about how fortunate he was to ride the elevator up to where he is and how important it is to send the elevator back down," Keselowski said. "And I thought that was really inspiring. "I'm not curing cancer. I make a very good living doing something that's decadent. I couldn't look myself in the mirror every morning, especially as I get older, knowing that I rode the elevator to the top and didn't send it back down with something so decadent as driving a car. "I'm very fortunate to have rode the elevator up." FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Check out the post-race reactions from Matt Crafton and Brad Keselowski at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Host Matthew Dillner takes you through the NSCS garage at Sonoma Raceway while trying to dodge birds in this edition of GarageCam.