Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Elliott Sadler, Reed Sorenson and others share their thoughts after the OneMain Financial 200 .
DOVER, Del. -- The relationship between veteran drivers Dale Earnhardt Jr . and Elliott Sadler isn't new. Before JR Motorsports was even a thought in Junior's mind, the duo raced against one another in late models years ago and formed a kinship off the track. The pair's relationship added a new facet on Friday, when officials announced at Dover International Speedway that Elliott would drive for Earnhardt-owned JR Motorsports in the NASCAR XFINITY Series in 2016. Earnhardt Jr. broke the news earlier in the day via Periscope. "I'm excited to work with Elliott full-time and give him the best opportunity we can, to put him in the best car we can and to get to work with all our guys," Earnhardt said during the press conference at Dover on Friday. "... It's going to be a lot of fun. Winning races is great, but when you do it with your friends, it's even better." "We've been friends a long time and I feel like we've had each others' backs on and off the track a long time." Elliott added. "I think when you're vested personally like we are, I think to put this group together is going to be very, very exciting. "It makes you want to -- on so many different levels -- to do a good job and perform like you're supposed to. Not only on the race track, but off the race track." Elliott's number and crew chief are yet to be determined, but he will bring long-time sponsor OneMain Financial from his current Roush Fenway Racing ride. In a sport that thrives on sponsorship, a long-term supporter like OneMain Financial gives team owner Earnhardt a sense of steadiness. "Elliott has worked with One Main for a very long time so that's an easy relationship to trust and get behind and be a part of," Earnhardt said. " … I will say when we told our employees on the shop floor, they were ecstatic. It brings stability and those people really depend on that. When they see those cars go out of the shop without a sponsor on them, that makes everybody nervous." JR Motorsports currently fields three cars in the XFINITY Series with reigning series champion Chase Elliott and Regan Smith behind the wheel full-time, and a group of drivers, including Ben Rhodes as well as Sprint Cup stars Earnhardt, Kevin Harvick and Kasey Kahne piloting the third car. For Sadler, who has won 10 races in the XFINTY Series and three times in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, the chance to drive for an established team like JRM is a prime opportunity – one that supersedes getting back into a Sprint Cup car for now. "I want to be competitive in the XFINITY Series. I want to win races," Elliott said. "... There's nothing like leaving your house on a weekend going to the race track, knowing you have the opportunity to lead laps, sit on poles, run up front. "... My goal right now, and my heart and soul, and my passion is still very great when I come to the track. But it's more what I can do on Saturdays and what I can do in the XFINITY Series. If I go out and do a great job and win every race and those ( Sprint Cup ) opportunities come, we'll look at that at that time. "But right now, man, we've got to jump on this -- this is great."
BRISTOL, Tenn. -- The viewing and listening experience for fans attending events at Bristol Motor Speedway is about to get a lot clearer. And larger. A whole lot larger. Officials with the popular half-mile track unveiled plans for the world's largest outdoor suspended digital display Wednesday, a 700 ton marvel of engineering that has already been dubbed "Colossus." This isn't your father's scoreboard. Work on the new piece is scheduled to begin in November and be completed in time for next year's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series weekend in April. Each custom-built screen adorning the four sides of the display is approximately 30 feet tall and 63 feet wide, or twice as high and nearly three times as wide as the video displays atop the scoring pylon currently in the BMS infield. And with nearly 54 million LEDs and 18 million pixels, the picture quality is expected to exceed that of large-scale outdoor displays seen in Times Square. A 540,000-watt audio system featuring 380 3-way loudspeakers and 48 stadium subwoofers will decrease the listening distance (from speakers to fans in the grandstands) from what had been between 200 -400 feet (depending on location) to no more than 90 feet. The new piece will be suspended by cables tethered to four towers located outside the race track. Sightlines for fans in the grandstands will not be impacted, according to track officials. The idea for Colossus came about as track management began working toward next year’s Battle at Bristol, the college football game featuring the University of Tennessee and Virginia Tech that will be played inside BMS. Moving the current scoring pylon in the center of the infield was a must; coming up with suitable viewing screens became necessary. "We studied the football game (plans) for several months before we even went down that path," Jerry Caldwell, BMS general manager, said. "Some options were coming out of that -- we could do this with screens, we could put them in the turns, we could do other things. And then there was a " what if we did this." Then you bring in people like Panasonic and the other companies we met with … and it became more of a reality." It's the way Speedway Motorsports Inc., way, according to Caldwell. "We go after the 'why nots?' " he said. "It's an amazing addition and enhancement for race fans. Both the (video) and the sound are going to take us to a new level." The video display, which will include a circular truss underneath providing pertinent information (such as the running order during races) will be suspended by cables roughly 30 percent thicker than the vertical cables suspending the Golden Gate Bridge, weighing in at approximately 63 pounds per foot. "Suspending a screen like this is quite an engineering feat, challenge," Richard Ballard, a consultant for Panasonic, said. "I quite frankly don't know where one is of this size." Determining how large the screens needed to be for maximum results and optimum quality, he said, was similar to "picking the right size TV for your living room … is it the 50-inch, the 42, the 65-inch model? … You're going to fit that perfectly inside your room. "We did the same thing here -- we took the sizing of the venue, the sight lines, figured out what size would it take to give you that living room experience. What we're doing it trying to give you that experience that you would get at home." Marcus Smith, President and CEO of Speedway Motorsports Inc., said he expects Colossus to "totally transform the experience for Bristol Motor Speedway . "And what it does for us with other events is going to be great," he said. "The football game will have a bigger-than-life feel. We can host huge concerts. Any event that wants to have the biggest event ever, whether it's hockey like the Winter Classic or the world's biggest rodeo, you name it and we can host it." Caldwell agreed. "Really, the sky is the limit," he said. "Some of those things (such as concerts and racing-related events) were possible before; this just makes it a whole lot easier and more cost effective to pull off."
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The next three-race set of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup playoffs comes with a round-capping layer of dread at one of the circuit's most feared tracks, Talladega Superspeedway . The possibility of adding laps under the green-white-checkered finish rules only ratchets up the pressure. Chase-eligible drivers talked Tuesday about the possibility of reducing the specter of overtime, saying that exploratory discussions have been held with NASCAR about potentially limiting the mayhem predicted for the Contender Round finale, the Camping World.com 500 (Oct. 25, 2:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). Drivers in the newly whittled field of 12 competing for the championship spoke favorably about decreasing the number of attempts at a two-lap shootout finish at restrictor-plate venue Talladega and its sister track, Daytona International Speedway . The "green-white-checkered" rule, instituted for NASCAR's premier series in 2004, currently has a cap of three attempts to finish the race under the green flag. Because of the Talladega facility's tendency toward large multicar wrecks, especially in the late stages of its races, decreasing the number of shootout-style finishes has won over some fans among the series' competitors. "I don't think it's a bad thing," 2012 series champ Brad Keselowski said. "We go there and say we're going to run 500 miles. You run 500 miles and it ends under yellow, it kind of feels a little uncomfortable. Give another crack at it and see if you can't finish it off for the fans, and if it doesn't come together, well, we tried. I would feel pretty good about that if I was a fan. And as a team owner, I would feel pretty good about that, too. "I feel like one crack at it kind of feels like, if you've ever been to a concert and the guy gets up there and does an encore, it kind of feels like that. It's like a showing of appreciation and respect toward our fans. But I think one gesture toward it is good." A NASCAR spokesperson said Tuesday that nothing has been decided in terms of changing Talladega's rules. Denny Hamlin , winner of the Chase opener at Chicagoland, said that "another option for sure that's on the table" would alter the restart format altogether. "I actually think the biggest change at Talladega for the finishes would be a single-file restart," Hamlin said. "I think double-file restarts really play into whoever's leading's advantage. Now if you put us all single-file, it forces the people in second, third, fourth, fifth to make a move to try to get the lead. Right now, we're where the leader has such an advantage that he's able to block both lanes, that I think single-file restarts at the end, there's more exciting finishes there than what we've seen in the past. It probably would be safer." Two of the last three Chase events at Talladega have gone into overtime, with one of those green-white-checkered attempts producing one of most frantic crashes in recent NASCAR history -- a race-ending 25-car melee in October 2012. Though there were no major injuries, the toll came in the form of a majority of the field suffering some form of damage. In addition to potentially reducing some of the danger associated with one of NASCAR's fastest tracks, drivers foresee positives in also dialing back any financial destruction. "Just from the standpoint of owners throwing away money for one extra green-white-checker, yeah," Martin Truex Jr . said. "All you do is destroy race cars and when it gets to that point, guys just lost their minds and hold it wide open no matter what the situation. I think it's a good thing. We tear up so much stuff there, it'd be nice for at least half the field to bring home a race car."
GarageCam host Matthew Dillner takes you through the NASCAR XFINITY Series garage at Charlotte Motor Speedway and picks up a sweet gift.
RELATED: Race results " Updated NXS standings DOVER, Del. -- Regan Smith charged from fourth to first during a restart on Lap 121 and stayed there for the rest of the Hisense 200 NASCAR XFINITY Series race at Dover International Speedway Saturday, posting his second victory of the season and working his way back into championship contention. After a 31-minute rain delay, Smith passed Kyle Busch , Denny Hamlin and leader Elliott Sadler on the restart on Lap 121 of 200 , staved off intense pressure from Hamlin midway through the final green-flag run and pulled away as the Joe Gibbs Racing teammates battled for second place. Without a concrete deal in place for next season, Smith won for the first time at the Monster Mile -- in fact, the 80 laps he led were the first circuits he had ever spent out front at Dover. The victory was the sixth of Smith's career, and all of them have come under the JR Motorsports banner. RELATED: Dillon has tire failure as caution waves Hamlin won the fight for the runner-up spot, crossing the finish line .703 seconds behind Smith. Busch led a race-high 110 laps and came home third, followed by Ryan Blaney and Kyle Larson . Austin Dillon ran sixth, one spot ahead of Chase Elliott , who moved into second place in the series standings, 24 points behind leader Chris Buescher , who finished eighth on Saturday. Smith, who rallied from a flat tire in the first third of the race, took over third in points, 36 behind Buescher. "I knew the car was fast, but I didn't know it was that fast until we got out in clean air," Smith said in Victory Lane. "This wasn't a Hail Mary. We came from the back to the front and just had a fast race car. "If we can keep doing that every week, and get another win or two here or there, I don't know what's going to happen. I'm trying to figure out some things for next year, so wins never hurt -- that's never a bad thing going forward." A victory for Smith was not even a remote consideration when a light rain began falling shortly after the halfway point, with the race already under caution for a wreck involving Stanton Barrett and Cale Conley on Lap 106. Sadler, whose 2016 move to JR Motorsports was announced on Friday, took two new tires under the yellow and was first off pit road, leading the race and praying for a monsoon. But the rain abated, depriving Sadler of a going-away present to Roush Fenway Racing , the organization he will leave at season's end. "I've never had much luck with the rain," Sadler said ruefully. "I've always been on the wrong side of that, going back to the 2009 Daytona 500 (where Sadler was fifth with a chance to win when the race was called because of rain after 152 laps)." Note: Ty Dillon cut a tire and hit the outside wall on Lap 24, resulting in a 28th-place finish. He slipped from second to fourth in the series standings, 39 points back of Buescher.
RELATED: Full starting lineup Saturday's Coors Light Pole Qualifying for the NASCAR XFINITY Series was canceled by heavy Friday rain and a shifting weekend schedule at Dover International Speedway , placing Ryan Blaney on the pole for Saturday's race. Qualifying for the Hisense 200 (Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM), the 28th of 33 races this season, was originally scheduled for 12:15 p.m. ET. But a complete rainout of Friday's schedule at the 1-mile track forced NASCAR officials to scramble Saturday's slate, with qualifying for Sprint Cup and K&N Pro Series East cars also being nixed. The washout puts Blaney on the pole for Saturday's 200 -miler by virtue of his Team Penske No. 22 Ford ranking first in the XFINITY owners' points standings. He'll start alongside Kyle Busch , a four-time winner in the series this year, in the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 54 Toyota. Chris Buescher , a two-time winner this season and the leader in the XFINITY drivers' standings, will start third in the Roush Fenway Racing No. 60 Ford. Brothers Ty and Austin Dillon will complete the top five on the starting grid. With 40 cars on site for 40 starting berths in a full field, no teams failed to qualify.
RELATED: See how Blaney won at Kentucky On the surface, it's a bit of an unorthodox NASCAR schedule for Ryan Blaney . The 21-year-old is running part-time in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series with Wood Brothers Racing in the No. 21 Ford and the NASCAR XFINITY Series with Team Penske in the No. 22 Ford, all while making a handful of starts in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series for Brad Keselowski Racing in the No. 29 Ford. "By the time all the races are added up, it's almost a full schedule," Blaney told NASCAR.com last weekend at Kentucky Speedway . "It has its positives and negatives to be running part-time in everything. The great thing is I get to run three great series with amazing race teams that I know will go out and have a fast car or truck every weekend or every time I get in them. Those are big positives that I can drive different things every single week." And the negatives? "It's hard to get in a rhythm of running the same car, so that's kind of tough," Blaney said. "That takes myself and the team time to get back acclimated to the driver and me to the race car. It has its ups and downs, but I'm fortunate to be with three great race teams and be able to do what we love and be competitive." Blaney did not have trouble finding a rhythm as he wheeled the No. 22 Ford to Victory Lane in the XFINITY Series VisitMyrtleBeach.com 300 at Kentucky Speedway . He led a race-high 81 laps and used a strong restart on a green-white-checkered finish to take home the win. The victory was the second time in three years that Team Penske has swept the season's two Kentucky XFINITY races. "Honestly, I've never seen a team be so dominant at a race track," Blaney said after the win. "It feels like every time we come here, the 22 car is one of the favorites to win and usually does it." Greg Erwin, the No. 22 team's crew chief, has noticed Blaney's growth firsthand since seeing him in 2013. In addition to the Kentucky win, Erwin and Blaney teamed up for a win in August at Iowa Speedway . "He's certainly a little more polished," Erwin noted of Blaney's development as a driver. "I think his communication is a little more precise. I think his confidence is certainly high and I think he's got the talent, certainly that it takes, and the rest of that will come with time behind a steering wheel. That's the hardest thing right now I think, is jumping in, running in all three series and getting as much time on the race track as he can." In his young career, Blaney has four wins each in the XFINITY Series and Camping World Truck Series. And in his first part-time Sprint Cup Series season, he scored his best Sprint Cup finish in May at Talladega with a fourth-place result. His Wood Brothers No. 21 team has had speed, but qualifying rainouts have been the bugaboo. RELATED: Blaney discusses 'very frustrating' Cup qualifying rainouts Along the way to becoming a rising young talent in the sport, Blaney has had some guidance, namely from his dad, Dave, as well as 2012 Sprint Cup Series champion Brad Keselowski . "Brad's been one of the biggest mentors for me right after my dad," Blaney said of Keselowski's impact on his career. "He gave me an opportunity in 2012 to drive his trucks for him and I did that for a couple years, which opened the doors at Penske and it opened the doors at the Wood Brothers. He's kind of been the main guy that’s started me off in my career getting racing in the top three series and I can't thank him enough for that. He's taught me so much on the race track, off the race track. He's been really helpful to me. "Brad's a unique teacher. To be able to drive for him has been really cool too, because you can kind of see the owner in him. And then when he would drive the other truck sometimes and I could race against him that was really, really neat. ... You'd ask him a question and he'd give you part of an answer and then you would kind of have to figure the rest of it out, and I really liked that. It's kind of the way my dad did it. "He's obviously one of the smartest racers out there, I feel like, when it comes to strategy and always thinking inside the car. That's something I've tried to take from him. ... Not only on the racing side, just thinking of other things too, whether it's underneath the car to try to make it faster, things like that." Dave Blaney , a veteran of 473 Sprint Cup Series starts and the 1995 World of Outlaws Champion, has impacted his son's career as well. Ryan credits his dad with teaching him a lesson that has become invaluable to him with extended seat time and longer races in the Sprint Cup Series. "Patience is one of the biggest things in racing, especially now that I've gotten started doing some Cup stuff," Ryan Blaney said. "Five-hundred-mile races, one 600-miler that we do ... those are long races. A lot longer than Truck and XFINITY races and that's really been a big learning curve for me of how you have so many opportunities to work on your race car and you have to be really precise with how you change things. "That was the biggest change to me. Running Trucks for a couple of years, the races are so short. You only have a couple of chances to work on your truck, so you take huge swings. In the Cup car, you can't really do that, you have to take littler steps and kind of fine-tune things. That was one of the biggest things he taught me early and now I'm kind of figuring it out for myself." And with silly season talk running rampant throughout the garage and in the media, Blaney remains focused on finishing out 2015 strong. With a Kentucky win in his pocket, Blaney is on the entry list for Saturday's XFINITY Series Hisense 200 at Dover International Speedway (3:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). "Honestly, we'd like to do more races but that's a lot easier said than done," he said. "I think the best thing we can do is try to focus on winning races in this 22 car, try to bring home a (owner's) championship (in XFINITY ) and finishing out the season strong with the Wood Brothers is going to be really big for our cause. We're working on it. Hopefully, we will know something soon."
RELATED: Live weather updates from Dover Saturday morning started out the same way Friday ended, with wet weather canceling NASCAR XFINITY Series opening practice at Dover International Speedway . Practice was scheduled to run from 8:35 a.m. to 9:20 a.m. ET, but Mother Nature had other ideas. Practice for the K&N Pro Series East was also canceled on Saturday morning. Track drying was underway to try to get the K&N race, the Drive Sober 125, on track for a 9:30 a.m. ET start but rain returned shortly after 9 a.m. ET to hinder those efforts and delay the start of that race. The K&N Pro Series East race will now run at 12:30 p.m. ET. Rain returned about 15 minutes into the final practice for the Sprint Cup Series causing that practice to be abbreviated. Final practice ended up running from about 2:05-2:20 p.m. ET before the red flag was displayed for moisture and practice was eventually called. The first Sprint Cup practice was initially scheduled to begin as soon as the track was available from the K&N Pro Series East race and run until 11:55 a.m. ET. That practice was initially scheduled for 11-11:55 a.m. ET with final practice set for 12:30-2:45 p.m. ET. The revised schedule will see cars on track as soon as its ready (close to 11:30 a.m. ET) until 12:15 p.m. ET, and then final practice going from 2-2:45 p.m. ET. The Hisense 200 XFINITY Series race, 3:30 p.m. ET (NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio), will be run with no practice time for those drivers. There will be two competition cautions for that race at Lap 25 and Lap 65, because of the lack of practice time. RELATED: How rain could impact Challenger Round This came after all of Friday's on-track activity for the Sprint Cup Series, XFINITY Series and K&N Pro Series East was wiped out by rain as Hurricane Joaquin churns away from the East Coast. Saturday's Coors Light Pole Qualifying in the XFINITY Series was canceled on Friday to provide the Sprint Cup Series with additional practice time.
RELATED: Complete schedule for Dover weekend As drivers and teams prepare for this weekend's elimination race in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup , they're also bracing for the effects of Hurricane Joaquin as it churns toward the Eastern United States. The storm, rated as a Category 4 hurricane as of 5 a.m. ET Friday, threatens to bring damaging winds, torrential rain and possible flooding to the Mid-Atlantic area and Dover International Speedway , site of this weekend's AAA 400 (2:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM) for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. Races for NASCAR's XFINITY Series and the K&N Pro Series East developmental circuit are also on the schedule. Haulers for both national series were scheduled to load into the 1-mile Delaware track Thursday afternoon, but a hauler parade scheduled to begin at 3 p.m. ET was canceled. Despite the threatening forecast, a NASCAR spokesperson said Thursday morning that series officials would be flexible with any changes in weather conditions. "NASCAR will continue to work closely with Dover International Speedway and monitor the weather for the weekend," the spokesperson said. "At this time, all schedules remain intact." The Dover track, approximately seven miles inland from the Delaware Bay, is among several areas in the state under a coastal flood watch that remains in effect through Sunday. The National Weather Service has predicted gusty winds and major rainfall amounts -- between 5-7 inches over the next five days -- for the Mid-Atlantic area, even if Joaquin's center fails to make landfall. A statement made by the Delaware Emergency Management Agency on Wednesday said that Joaquin's path was uncertain to predict, but that "it is reasonably sure that the tropical system will have an impact of some kind on Delaware over the weekend. It is too early to tell exactly what that impact will be." A tripleheader of racing makes this weekend an especially busy one for the Dover track. Besides staging the third event of the 10-race Chase on Sunday, the Monster Mile will also host the XFINITY Series' Hisense 200 (Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM) and the season-ending Drive Sober 125 presented by the Delaware Office of Highway Safety for the K&N Pro Series East. The track said in a Thursday release that it was "full steam ahead" with preparations for the race weekend. "We work closely with NASCAR, the National Weather Service and our on-site meteorologist to monitor weather during our major events," a track spokesperson said in the release. "We are currently tracking this weekend's weather and will update fans via social media, and our website, as information becomes available." The last time a tropical disturbance dramatically altered a race weekend schedule was in September 2008, when Tropical Storm Hanna and a declared state of emergency in Virginia postponed two days of on-track activity at Richmond International Raceway , forcing a rare Sprint Cup - XFINITY Series doubleheader on a Sunday. NASCAR officials worked with the track, opting to postpone all events early in the interest of safety for campers and other fans. The decision also weighed that law enforcement officials normally involved in security and traffic management at the race track should be dedicated to disaster relief at the height of the storm.