'Be yourself' resonates with young drivers at seminar
CHARLOTTE -- Being a race car driver entails much more than getting behind the wheel. Before the start of a new season, NASCAR walked its younger drivers through different aspects of the sport during its annual Driver Development Seminar. The 2017 edition was held Friday at the NASCAR Plaza in Charlotte, North Carolina. Through guest speakers and breakout sessions, the assembled group was given a chance to hear from some of the most influential individuals in the sport. Among the featured guest speakers were NASCAR Chief Operating Officer Brent Dewar, NASCAR Executive Vice President and Chief Racing Development Officer Steve O'Donnell, NASCAR Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer Jill Gregory, Monster Energy Director of Motorsports Dave Gowland, FS1 broadcaster Adam Alexander, Lauren Murray, social media manager for Jimmie Johnson Racing Digital, and seven-time champion Jimmie Johnson himself. "It really is a pretty comprehensive experience," driver Spencer Gallagher said. "I liked it. It's worth getting up at 7 in the morning for." This was Gallagher's fourth time experiencing the seminar, and the XFINITY Series rookie for GMS Racing called it NASCAR's best one yet. Among the topics broached was a look at the business of NASCAR, as well as a driver's identity. Gallagher pointed out some of the more interesting sessions, such as being given advice on how to get the most out of social media, what goes into a good interview and a driver's style. "It's a really informative event, especially about how we as drivers influence the direction of the series and the sport that we're in and how we can be ambassadors to the outside world," Gallagher said. "People have to want to watch us, and we as drivers play a very big role in that. It's really good to see NASCAR putting forth the effort to help train us. They bring in the best in the business and then tell you exactly how they do it." Matt Tifft was equally impressed. Now a full-time driver in the XFINITY Series for Joe Gibbs Racing , Tifft listened as O'Donnell talked about NASCAR's mission of seeing the sport's next superstar potentially come from the assembled group. With the welcoming of a new premier series sponsor, Monster Energy, Tifft was struck by how NASCAR is looking for drivers to show his or her individual personality this year. Something Tifft, at 20 years old, thinks will not only be a good thing, but also is needed for the sport to grow. "They want us to be ourselves and resonate (with others) and cross promote and bring people in from other interests and things like that," Tifft said. "I think it's a good idea and I think we probably need to do more of that as a sport." Tifft missed a portion of the 2016 season following surgery to remove a brain tumor. During his time away from the track, Tifft said it gave him perspective on how drivers need to step out of the bubble they can become trapped in during a season and take a look at how they can better represent themselves on and off the race track. The seminar drove home that point. Drivers like Myatt Snider and Chase Briscoe were given plenty to digest as each is set to begin the next chapter of his career. Snider will compete part-time for Kyle Busch Motorsports in the Camping World Truck Series, and Briscoe is going full-time with Brad Keselowski Racing. "The biggest takeaway I've heard is they're going to let us kind of be our self a lot more," Briscoe said. "I think that's going to be good for everyone; I think it's going to be great for the sport, obviously. Looking forward to that. "Other than that, it's really cool to see how they're telling us to expand our brand. I feel like as a race car driver your brand is one of the most important things you can do. So building that brand outside what you do in the race car is obviously big and it's big for your future."
Rick Ware Racing to field Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series team
THOMASVILLE, N.C. -- Officials from Rick Ware Racing (RWR) announced today the team’s intent to compete in the 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series as an "open non-chartered" team beginning with next month's 59th annual Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway . RWR's return to the elite level of NASCAR will have Timmy Hill aboard the No. 51 Chevrolet for Speedweeks with a rotating list of drivers to follow throughout the season including longtime RWR drivers Stanton Barrett , Cody Ware and road course veteran Kevin O’Connell to name a few. "We've been eyeing our return to the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series since the end of last year," said RWR team principal Rick Ware. "We knew with the competition level stronger than ever, we needed to take the steps to make sure we could come to the track and be as competitive as possible, while focused on building our organization as the season presses on.” RWR also announced the team has acquired assets from Tommy Baldwin Racing (TBR) for use this season, including cars, pulldown rig and technology support. Additionally, longtime industry veteran Joe Lax, also previously with TBR will serve as crew chief, while pro-motor engineering (PME) will supply the horsepower during the season. Furthermore, Mike Hillman Sr., a longtime fixture in NASCAR joins RWR in a newly created role as team consultant. "I feel like we've done a great job getting our stars aligned for this year," Ware added. "Between acquiring cars from Tommy Baldwin Racing and having a good open relationship with them, plus being able to bring key personnel aboard who have the desire and drive to make our team the best it's ever been. "One component I'm really proud about is our initiative to bring our body work in-house. We really have hired some talented and experienced personnel overall and I couldn't be more excited to get our season underway." Hill is hopeful to make his "World Center of Racing" debut in next month's Super Bowl event. The 23-year-old hopes to make his 49th Cup race in his first ever Daytona 500 . Despite no Cup starts at Daytona, the Port Tobacco, Maryland native has four XFINITY starts at the 2.5-mile oval with two career top-10 finishes including back-to-back top-10 runs for Rick Ware Racing in 2012 with a career-best seventh in the season-opening race. "I'm thankful to continue my relationship with Rick Ware Racing for the 2017 season," said Hill. "I've always wanted the chance to compete in the Daytona 500 and thanks to Rick and Lisa (Ware), I'll have that opportunity. It won't be easy, but as a team and Joe (Lax) leading the way, we’re focused and will give it all we have and hope we’ll be one of the 40 cars running in the Daytona 500 !" In addition to their effort in the Cup Series, Rick Ware Racing will also compete in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) this season with recently announced driver Spencer Boyd at the wheel. Sponsorship for the team’s Cup entry will be announced at a later date. </p>
Bowman lands first Coors Light Pole at Phoenix
RELATED: Starting lineup " See every car " Points standings " Chase Grid Alex Bowman stormed to his first Coors Light Pole Award in Friday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series qualifying at Phoenix International Raceway . Bowman, prepping for his eighth start in place of the injured Dale Earnhardt Jr ., guided the Hendrick Motorsports No. 88 Chevrolet to a best lap of 140.521 mph around the 1-mile track. The Arizona native's first pole position comes in the 80th start of his Sprint Cup career. "Man, it's amazing," said the 23-year-old from nearby Tucson. "We weren’t really that strong in qualifying trim in practice (earlier on Friday). I don't really know where that came from, but I just can't thank everybody at Hendrick Motorsports enough. "To do this in Phoenix, so close to home, means so much to me. We have had such fast race cars. We haven't had an ounce of luck, but to get a pole here means a lot." Kyle Larson posted the second-fastest lap, turning a 140.263 mph qualifying pass in the final round in the Chip Ganassi Racing No. 42 Chevrolet. He'll start on the front row alongside Bowman in Sunday's Can-Am 500 (2:30 p.m. ET, NBC, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio), the ninth of 10 events in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup playoffs. Rookie Chase Elliott was third-fastest at 140.236 mph, completing a 1-2-3 sweep by drivers out of the eight-driver playoff picture. Sunday's 312-lapper is the final race in the Round of 8 to determine the final four qualifiers for the Nov. 20 Championship 4 finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway . Only Jimmie Johnson , who qualified 17th Friday, and Carl Edwards (11th) have clinched title shots, leaving two open spots up for grabs among the six remaining postseason hopefuls. The rest of the Chase field's qualifying spots: Joey Logano (fourth), Denny Hamlin (fifth), Kevin Harvick (sixth), Matt Kenseth (10th), Kurt Busch (12th) and Kyle Busch (19th). Harvick, who tops the series with eight Phoenix victories, has won five of the last six races for the series on the Arizona oval. Fourth on the grid wasn't what Logano wanted in his quest to make the Championship 4 at Homestead, but his position on the outside of the second row could be an advantage at the start of the race. "No, it's not first, right?" said Logano, who is tied for third in the Chase standings with Kyle Busch . "We had a fast Shell Pennzoil Ford again in qualifying and didn't get the pole. That part is frustrating. The good part is we are fourth and not that far back, and the outside lane is usually a good place to be here at Phoenix on the restarts. "Usually the leader takes the outside, and that works out pretty well. Overall, we should get a decent pit stall and be able to race toward the front. I'm frustrated because I am not first, which I guess is a good thing -- but it kind of stinks." The Chase drivers aside, the story in qualifying was Bowman, who ran a third lap after posting his fast time in the second, not knowing he had run fast enough to secure the pole. Earnhardt, who watched from pit road, was elated at the success of his relief driver. "This is his hometown, kind of, so it's awesome that all his friends are around to see him do this," Earnhardt said. "This is great for his career. This is exactly what we were hoping to happen for him. Hopefully, he can put it together on Sunday." Austin Dillon was second-fastest in the opening round of qualifying, but committed a "blend-line" violation with an improper merge onto the race track early in the second round. It mattered little as last weekend's pole winner at Texas wound up seventh in Friday's qualifying in the desert. Martin Truex Jr ., whose Chase hopes ended in the Round of 12, will start last in the 40-car field after his Furniture Row Racing No. 78 Toyota failed to make a lap. After a wreck with its primary car in Friday practice, the team had difficulties getting its reserve through inspection. The backup car cleared with roughly one minute left in the opening 20-minute round, and time ran out before Truex could get buckled in. Tony Stewart , scheduled to run his final Sprint Cup race at Phoenix, just missed a chance at advancing past the first elimination in qualifying. His 137.825 mph lap was just .014 seconds slower than Casey Mears , who took the 24th and final spot in the first round. Contributing: Reid Spencer , NASCAR Wire Service &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;
Logano: New Hampshire win bigger than Daytona 500
EDITOR'S NOTE: The following is a first-person account from NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Joey Logano about his childhood memories attending New Hampshire Motor Speedway , as well as his successful career at his home race track. New Hampshire will host Sunday’s Sprint Cup race, the Bad Boy Off Road 300 (2 p.m. ET on NBCSN, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). I remember the first time I went to New Hampshire was in 1997, when I was seven years old. My family camped out by Turn 2, back there behind all the midway activities for the weekend. We were there for the weekend and watched the modified race, the Busch North race -- at the time that's what the K&N Pro Series East was called -- and the Sprint Cup race. My family actually still has a photo album of the trip. I got pictures of the cars when they came out and practiced. Looking back on it, I guess that really was my first memory of NASCAR racing. It's cool that I remember it, but I think everyone remembers the time you go to your first NASCAR race. One thing I remember is when I got to meet Jeff Gordon that weekend, which was awesome because I grew up a huge Jeff Gordon fan. He was leaving an appearance and I was one of those people that kind of sat there on the side, waiting for him to come out. There he was and I got a picture with him. It's funny -- I still have the picture. We talked about it and showed it on a couple of NASCAR shows last year when Jeff was doing his farewell tour. My Mom's thumb got over the lens of the camera, so it's one of those pictures with a thumb in it. My Mom got Jeff to sign the photo a couple of years back and she framed it for me with another photo of Jeff and I sitting on the pit wall before driver intros. It's a pretty cool memento and something that links one of my first memories with where I am today. To me, New Hampshire is something special. Really special. Every driver out there has their favorite track and a place that means more to them than others, even if they don’t always tell you. New Hampshire is that place for me. I guess it started when I was just a fan and I went to that race and met Jeff Gordon . Then, when I moved into driving, things still just happened there. I started my first Sprint Cup race there in the No. 96 car back in 2008. Then I won my first Sprint Cup race there the next year in the No. 20. But the most memorable moment to me was when we won there a couple of years ago in the fall race of 2014. That win was hands down the coolest win of my career. The Daytona 500 was neat. I mean who doesn't grow up wanting to be a racecar driver and not want to win the Daytona 500 ? But the New Hampshire win beats it in my opinion. I think you can start to see why. For one, it's my home track. Any win any driver gets at their home track is special. That is why my teammate Brad Keselowski wants to win at Michigan so bad. It's on every driver’s bucket list. On top of that, it was the most challenging, most difficult track I went to as a driver. I sucked there. I literally did not know how to go fast. I remember one time we unloaded there and I started complaining about how bad the car was. Then, I look up and we were P1 on the board. I said, "I don't know how to do this then. I don't know what to tell you, because to me, it drives awful and we’re fast." So over time, I started figuring out that I need this and I need that, and got the car kind of feeling the way it's supposed to. I had a lot of conversations with my crew chief Todd Gordon and we've worked together to make it better. Eventually, we conquered the hardest track for me -- and my home track -- so it's all just worked out and it showed on the track. That win in 2014 was just awesome for me personally. I don't ever get out of the car at the start finish line (after a win). I just want to get to Victory Lane and celebrate with the team. But that was one of those moments where I thought: "I'm getting out of the car, I'm standing on top of it, I'm going to enjoy this moment. It's going to be hard to have a win that’s larger than that." Something else that I love about New Hampshire is the fans. They love NASCAR racing and racing in general in the Northeast. It's what got me to be a fan of the sport. I hope they grab some tickets and come out for an amazing weekend of racing when we go back up there this weekend. You go to Loudon as a New England guy and those are your people. So we try to take advantage of every situation when we're up there to look for ways to help, especially with the "Chasing Second Chances" initiative through the Joey Logano Foundation. We did our golf tournament in Connecticut with the spring race, and a lot of people were able to come to it. To me, all of this racing stuff is great and all, but it's a platform to change people's lives. I feel like it's my calling. I'm supposed to use that. It's a privilege to have that opportunity to do what you're supposed to do in this world. So, yeah, I want to win races and I want to win championships, but I want to do something more with the platform that God’s given me. So through the Joey Logano Foundation and through the Chasing Second Chances program, we're trying to give people another shot at life in the New England area who were the victims of something out of their control or just made a bad decision and are working to make their life better. In all honesty, the whole Chasing Second Chances throughout the next nine weeks (of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup ) is a big deal. A lot of cool things for the next nine weeks. For more on Chasing Second Chances, click here . As told to the NASCAR Wire Service's Reid Spencer .
Weather cancels final Sprint Cup practice, postpones XFINITY race
RELATED: Live weather updates " Weekend schedule After spotty rain affected events all day Saturday at Dover, NASCAR postponed the XFINITY Series' Drive Sober 200 until 10 a.m. ET Sunday (CNBC, MRN, SIRIUS XM). The second race of the NASCAR XFINITY Series Chase was set to be the capstone to a day of action at Dover International Speedway . Fans with tickets to either race will be admitted for both. Tickets are available here . Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers Kyle Busch , Joey Logano and Austin Dillon all were entered in both races and faced the prospect of 600 high-speed laps at the Monster Mile in a single day Sunday with the schedule change. Thus, Ryan Blaney now is scheduled to wheel the Team Penske entry for Logano, Regan Smith will replace Dillon and Drew Herring will drive for Busch. Saturday's on-track action started well for the second Sprint Cup practice at Dover . But sprinkles turned to heavier rain with 15 minutes left in that practice, bringing out the red flag after 45 minutes of the 55-minute session. XFINITY Series qualifying was also off to a good start, but was scrapped after just one round, handing Erik Jones the pole position. Final Sprint Cup practice was set for 1:30 p.m. ET, but ultimately was canceled due to inclement weather. Friday's Sprint Cup Coors Light qualifying also was canceled due to persistent rain. The field was set by owner standings, allowing Brad Keselowski to start P1 for the second time this year. The Sprint Cup Series will return to the track tomorrow for the Citizen Soldier 400 at 2 p.m. ET (NBCSN/NBC Sports App). * Contributing: Reid Spencer from the NASCAR Wire Service &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;
Kenseth holds off Larson, wins at chaotic Dover
RELATED: Race results " Updated series standings " SHOP: Kenseth gear Matt Kenseth roared to victory Sunday afternoon at Dover International Speedway , holding off a hard-charging Kyle Larson to score his first win of the season in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. Kenseth led 48 of 400 laps in the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 20 Toyota. His triumph in the AAA 400 Drive for Autism was his third at the 1-mile track and the 37th of his Sprint Cup career. But the victory also helped stem a rough start to the 2016 season as he virtually clinched a berth in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup playoffs. "It all worked out for us, kind of the opposite as I feel like it's been going the last couple months," said Kenseth, who has just one other top-five run this year -- a fourth place last weekend at Kansas. "We've had really fast race cars. We've been in position to win a lot. This wasn't our fastest car by any means. But we were able to be there at the end of the race and pull it off." RELATED: See all of Kenseth's wins in the sport's top series Larson, seeking his first premier series win, held on for second in the Chip Ganassi Racing No. 42 Chevrolet. He led 85 laps and wound up just .188 seconds behind at the checkered flag after a stirring challenge for the lead down the stretch. Sunoco Rookie of the Year candidate Chase Elliott surged within striking distance of the front-running pair, but settled for a career-best third-place finish. Kasey Kahne and Kurt Busch completed the top five in a topsy-turvy day. A massive, 18-car crash brought out an extended red flag on Lap 354, thinning the field of contenders. After a stoppage of 11 minutes, 22 seconds, the race restarted on Lap 360, with Kenseth leading. But on the restart lap, contact from Larson's No. 42 Chevrolet sent Carl Edwards ' No. 19 Toyota spinning hard against the inside wall. That set up the final restart on Lap 366, with Kenseth and Larson coming to the line side-by-side. On Lap 381, Elliott passed Larson for second but surrendered the position in traffic three laps later. During the final five laps, Larson pulled alongside Kenseth but couldn't complete the pass from the inside lane. "I had gotten close to his bumper a couple times. I may have even got into him once," Larson said of his close-quarters battle with Kenseth. "I didn't want to do anything dirty. I respect Matt Kenseth a lot. He's definitely in my eyes the cleanest racer out there. He always races me with respect. I try to do the same with him." Two pre-race favorites -- Jimmie Johnson and Kevin Harvick -- had rallied from their share of issues at the Monster Mile, including their involvement in the event's sixth yellow flag before the fateful 11th caution period and ensuing red flag. RELATED: Botched restart sets off 18-car wreck Johnson's No. 48 Chevrolet suffered a mechanical failure trying to get up to speed on a restart, with Martin Truex Jr ., Harvick and others piling in behind him. The chain reaction blocked the frontstretch, collecting several other cars in the melee. Harvick had started from the pole position and led three times for a race-high 117 laps, but lost ground on a series of early pit stops. "We just keep getting further and further back," Harvick radioed his Stewart-Haas Racing No. 4 Chevrolet crew on Lap 172, during the fourth caution period. Johnson, a 10-time Dover winner, started 21st in the 40-car field, but gradually moved up in the running order. But Johnson spun during the sixth caution, looping his Hendrick Motorsports No. 48 Chevy after Reed Sorenson 's spinning car dropped fluid through the first and second turns on Lap 212. Johnson avoided contact, catching a fortunate break when Harvick slowed his car to a halt just shy of a collision. Those strokes of luck for the two favorites went for naught after the large pileup nearly 140 laps later. Brad Keselowski , a winner two weeks ago at Talladega, led once for 49 laps Sunday, but dropped from contention after crunching into Austin Dillon 's slower car, damaged from an earlier wreck. Keselowski made multiple pit stops for repairs and rallied for a sixth-place finish. Tony Stewart finished 34th in just his fourth start of the season since missing the first eight Sprint Cup races with a back injury. His hopes were dimmed by a mechanical failure -- a broken track bar that punctured the oil tank -- that caused his Stewart-Haas Racing No. 14 Chevrolet to slow in the 341st lap. The result kept him 37th in the driver standings. He needs to finish the regular season 30th or better in the rankings and post a victory to qualify for the 10-race Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup playoffs. The series returns Saturday night for its traditional mid-spring invitational, the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race (9 p.m. ET, FS1, MRN, SiriusXM) at Charlotte Motor Speedway . Note: Kahne's No. 5 Chevrolet failed post-race laser inspection station and will be taken to the NASCAR Research and Development Center in Concord, North Carolina, for further evaluation. If penalties are warranted, they will be announced later this week. Contributing: Reid Spencer , NASCAR Wire Service
Spencer Gallagher moving up to XFINITY with GMS Racing
Statesville, N.C. (December 1, 2016) – Statesville-based GMS Racing (GMS) announced that, beginning in 2017, the team will compete full-time in the NASCAR XFINITY Series (NXS) with driver Spencer Gallagher . The Las Vegas native will continue to the pilot the No. 23, a number that he has raced since 2006 in honor of former NASCAR driver TJ Clark and his son, Spencer Clark. Gallagher began racing at the age of 12 in Legends Cars at the Las Vegas Bullring to kick off his climb through the racing circuit. Gallagher has been with GMS since 2014, first competing in the ARCA Racing Series and most recently the NCWTS. Over three seasons and 58 starts, Gallagher earned three top-fives, 15 top-10 finishes, and two pole awards. The 27-year-old made his NXS debut this past season, earning a best finish of eighth place at Daytona International Speedway in July. The team debuted the GMS Chevrolet Camaro at Phoenix International Speedway with a goal of building the program in preparation of running a full-time season in 2017. "I am really excited about running full-time in the XFINITY Series," said Gallagher. "I made my XFINITY debut this year and we learned a lot as an organization. Though I have raced against some of these drivers, I know the competition is going to be much more competitive so I need to be focused and on my "A" game all year. For next year my plan is to continue and grow this program, be consistent and make the Chase." Additional details regarding sponsorship and crew chief will be announced at a later date. </p>
Carl Edwards leaves JGR: What they're writing
WATCH: 'Not saying the R-word' " Reasons behind decision The media center can be a tough place for drivers -- or a place to celebrate. Reliving the key moments of a thrilling victory. Hard questions on hard days. Carl Edwards ' decision to leave Joe Gibbs Racing and step aside from competing full-time in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series brought a little of both at Wednesday's press conference at the team's shop. And it was his own quote, published by NBC Sports' Nate Ryan on Tuesday, that made Edwards choke up and tearfully whisper, "I just want to be a good person." The quote from Ryan's story was: "For me, the Midwestern mentality is pretty simple. It's just do your job, do your work, be kind to people. Your reputation will follow. I'm really proud to be from Missouri." It's an accurate self-description, per the lauds from NASCAR writers and broadcasters heaped upon Edwards upon his exit. Here are some of the sentiments shared in print and online. Tom Jensen of FOX Sports initially broke the story of Edwards' imminent departure and wrote, "Whatever his next move, Edwards certainly has established an impressive body of work in NASCAR. He owes no one in the racing community anything, and his choice to step away -- whether temporarily or permanently -- that's his right. And he's exercised it. Good luck in the future, Carl. We'll miss you." " Read more Ryan added: "You always know what you will get in an interview with Carl Edwards -- a professional take on whatever the question is, and answered with the measured intelligence and perspective of a man who once taught high school on the side." " Read more Bob Pockrass, ESPN: "(Edwards) likes his business to be handled neatly, and he believes any friction should be handled privately, leading to criticism that he wasn't as genuine as other drivers. But that also has given him the persona as the ultimate professional publicly, and that is what has attracted fans and has allowed him to be a favorite of talk show hosts looking for a driver who can relate to fans and nonfans alike." " Read more Jordan Bianchi, SB Nation: "As private as Edwards is, he is also among the more personable drivers in the garage. Any interview with him began with him removing his sunglasses so he could look the interviewee and camera straight in the eye. The gesture became such a trademark, sometimes other drivers would good-naturedly mock it." " Read more The finish at Homestead repeatedly came up in conversations this week. One of the most illustrative moments in Carl Edwards ' racing history was the way he left what may be his last race. After a heartbreaking wreck involving the No. 22 Team Penske car with 10 laps to go that cost him the 2016 NASCAR Chase championship, Edwards shook hands with Joey Logano 's crew chief Todd Gordon and team members, rallied his own family and reached out to fans. Jeff Gluck of USA Today told the tale on Nov. 20: "On his way out of the garage, Edwards spotted one of his longtime fans. Rhianne Mitchell was standing silently nearby, with tears in her eyes. Edwards stopped in his tracks, turned around and returned to give her a hug. He pumped his fist at his loyal supporter, as if to try and pick up her spirits. "This kind of exceptional conduct in the face of deep disappointment was something everyone in all walks of life should cherish. And NASCAR fans should certainly be proud Edwards is one of their own." " Read more Lee Spencer of Motorsport.com reached farther back in her own memories to share a story that paints a picture of who Edwards was when he entered the sport, and who he remained. It occurred after Edwards' victory in the 2004 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series opener at Daytona International Speedway . "But it was after that Daytona win that Edwards would forever endear himself to this writer. After a typical, hectic Speedweeks, I was battling the flu and was forced to leave the track and follow the race on TV. Edwards was kind enough to call me from Victory Lane to offer fresh quotes for my story. Edwards' graciousness was not lost on me." " Read more &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;
Spencer Gallagher officiates wedding at Michigan
Spencer Gallagher is a man of many talents. A race car driver and newly discovered wrestler/dancer/hugger (for reference, see his "fight" with John Wes Townley ), Gallagher is also an officiant in race track wedding ceremonies. Nope, not kidding. Surrounded by guests and a bridesmaid doning a Kasey Kahne T-Shirt, Gallagher performed a marriage ceremony for a couple in Victory Lane at Michigan International Speedway on Thursday afternoon. They even got to ride away in a pace car. . @23SpeedRacer performing a ceremony in @Gatorade Victory Lane @MISpeedway ✔️ Congrats to the newly weds! pic.twitter.com/BRh5rPk6GV — GMS Racing (@GMSRacingLLC) August 25, 2016 The event was documented via NASCAR Snapchat (username: nascar) and is available for viewing for 24 hours. Congrats to the happy couple!
NASCAR digital and social media numbers continue to grow in 2016
During his State of the Sport press conference prior to the Championship 4 race at Homestead-Miami Speedway earlier this month, NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France relayed an anecdote about watching a scaled-down, highlight-driven Duke college basketball game on his laptop. The story painted a broad picture of the shift in fan consumption habits. And for NASCAR, that has meant a shift in strategy to serve fans who want an immersive experience, whether attending live in-person, watching on TV, or engaging with sports at home or on the go. By all metrics, NASCAR’s digital and social media numbers have shown strong growth over the 2016 season, validating a strategic choice to reach race fans in the multifaceted ways they opt to consume NASCAR content. Consider these numbers: Overall, NASCAR drew 256 million social engagements across all its digital platforms, an 87 percent increase year-over-year, and a massive increase of video content views. NASCAR saw a 14 percent growth in followers across its social and digital platforms. Of particular note was a spike in the growth of Snapchat followers after NASCAR announced its partnership with that platform in February. NASCAR competitors and fans provided live content from four races, starting with the Daytona 500 , under the aegis of "Snapchat Live Story." The Daytona 500 itself saw a 63-percent increase in race day impressions, while engagement with NASCAR content tripled. "It’s been fantastic," said Jill Gregory, NASCAR senior vice president and chief marketing officer. "I think that what it has done is validated our strategy that we set out at the very beginning of this season, when we talked about leading with digital and social and really trying to talk to our fans where they were and going to reach them at all the places they consume NASCAR. "We started that with our 'Ready.Set.Race' campaign and the Hashtag 500 around the Daytona 500 , and it’s really just continued to build throughout the whole season." The Hashtag 500, the race to win Dale Earnhardt Jr .'s firesuit, generated 13,000 NASCAR-related mentions in a single minute, a high-water mark for NASCAR content since the advent of the sanctioning body’s Fan and Media Engagement Center. Central to the success of the 2016 digital and social media campaign was heavy promotion of #TheChase across all platforms, leveraging Twitter, Vine, Periscope, Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat to engage fans throughout the 10-week playoff. Capturing the drama of the Chase, which concluded with Jimmie Johnson claiming his record-tying seventh NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship, was the digital film series "Ready.Set.Chase." All told, the five-film series garnered more than 13 million views. "I think we’re seeing it at NASCAR, and obviously we see it happening across the sports and entertainment landscape, that fans want to customize their experience regardless of what they’re watching or looking at," Gregory said. "If we want to talk to those fans, we have to go places that are convenient for them. "If they’re watching on their mobile app, if they’re watching via NASCAR.com, if they’re watching on television, it’s our job as the league to provide all of that great content in all of those places and then make sure that we deliver the right experience for each of those platforms."