Ron Bouchard passes away at age 67
RELATED: Bouchard's standout Modified career Ron Bouchard , winner of the 1981 Talladega 500 and the premier series' rookie of the year that same season, passed away Thursday. He was 67. A family friend and close pal of my fathers Ron Bouchard passed away today. My thoughts and prayers go to his family. — Dale Earnhardt Jr . (@DaleJr) December 10, 2015 NASCAR made a statement on Thursday regarding the news, " Ron Bouchard's passion for racing was evident from his very early years in NASCAR. Competition fueled Ron , whether racing modifieds at short tracks across the Northeast or winning rookie of the year honors in NASCAR's premier series. He loved this sport, and made an indelible mark on it, one that won’t soon be forgotten. "NASCAR extends its condolences to the friends and family of Ron Bouchard , a true racer." A native of Fitchburg, Massachusetts, Bouchard pulled off one of NASCAR's most stunning victories when he shot from third to first on the final lap at Talladega (then known as Alabama International Motor Speedway), passing Darrell Waltrip and Terry Labonte to score his lone premier series victory. The win came in his 11th career start. He was driving the Jack Beebe-owned Race Hill Farm No. 47 Buick, with crew chief Bob Johnson. Bouchard had taken over the ride earlier in the season following the departure of driver Harry Gant. Bouchard became the 13th different winner in the 13-year history of the summer race at the 2.66-mile track. "Coming off the fourth turn … I was behind Waltrip and Terry when Terry decided to pass Darrell on the outside," Bouchard told reporters following his Talladega victory. "When he moved up, Darrell moved up to get in front of him. When I saw that, I just shot down to the inside … and moved up fast." A standout Modified driver, Bouchard won track championships at Stafford Springs, Thompson and Seekonk speedways before moving up to what was then known as NASCAR's Grand National division. He made 160 starts at NASCAR’s top level, finishing a career-best eighth in points in '82. In addition to his one win, Bouchard scored 19 top-five and 60 top-10 finishes. He won the series' rookie title in a class that included Morgan Shepherd , Tim Richmond and Joe Ruttman. Seven years later, his brother Ken Bouchard captured the series rookie of the year award as well.
BK Racing shuffle: Ragan, DiBenedetto won't return
BK Racing will have a significant overhaul to its driver lineup for 2017 with announcements on consecutive days that primary drivers David Ragan and Matt DiBenedetto would not return to the team next season. DiBenedetto, touting the promise of an exciting announcement in the future, announced Thursday night on Twitter that he would not return to the Charlotte-based team. Ragan's departure was the next bit of news, with the Ron Devine-owned organization confirming that transition Friday afternoon. I've decided to go in a different direction next year. Exciting announcements coming soon. It's been a great ride @BKRacing_2383 Thank you! — Matthew DiBenedetto (@mattdracing) December 8, 2016 In two years with the organization, DiBenedetto logged 68 starts with one top-10 finish. That finish, in April 2016 at Bristol, was a sixth-place result -- he finished one spot ahead of 2014 champion Kevin Harvick -- and resulted in an emotional, memorable on-air interview. "I can only say so much at this time," DiBenedetto said Thursday night on SiriusXM Radio. "I've been in talks with BK, and no hard feelings. I'm appreciative of everything they've given me. … Just kind of evaluating the team situation for next year. From my end there's a little too much unknown, so I just had to make that decision. I'm excited about what the future has to hold here still, and obviously everyone will have to stay tuned." Devine confirmed DiBenedetto's parting through a statement released later Thursday evening. "Our 33rd- and 34th-place finishes this year did not produce the results we were hoping to achieve," Devine said. "I am, however, very proud of Matt DiBenedetto and his many accomplishments over the past two years. He is a wonderful driver and a special person. I am confident that Matt will go on to be a very successful NASCAR driver, and I believe it is the right time to release him so that he can pursue other opportunities. "Myself and everyone at BK Racing wishes Matt all the best in his future endeavors. I am looking forward to much success for both Matt and BK Racing ." Devine struck a similar tone in his statement on Ragan's release, hinting at measures to better its results next season. " BK Racing has agreed not to renew David Ragan 's contract for next year," Devine said. "Everyone wishes David the best of luck in his career. BK Racing will continue to restructure as an ongoing effort to improve our on-track performance ... and we will be announcing our 2017 driver lineup in the near future." DiBenedetto and Ragan were the primary drivers for BK Racing in 2016, but the organization also fielded Toyotas in spot duty for Jeffrey Earnhardt , Ryan Ellis , Dylan Lupton , Robert Richardson Jr., and Michael Waltrip. The team has been full time in NASCAR's premier series since 2012, when it debuted as a two-car outfit with drivers Landon Cassill and Travis Kvapil . Ragan, 31, has two victories in NASCAR's top division since he began full-time competition in 2007. He won at Daytona International Speedway driving for Roush Fenway Racing in July 2011 and handed Front Row Motorsports its first victory at Talladega Superspeedway in May 2013. Ragan finished 33rd in the final standings in his only season for BK Racing . His most recent top-10 finish was in March 2015 in a fill-in role for the injured Kyle Busch in Joe Gibbs Racing 's No. 18 Toyota. DiBenedetto missed one race in 2016, at Texas Motor Speedway in November, after not being medically cleared following a wreck in the NASCAR XFINITY Series the day prior. He was cleared from concussion protocol in time for the next race. DiBenedetto, 25, also has 68 career starts in the XFINITY Series. &amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;gt;
Ron Hornaday returns to his racing roots
RELATED: Hornaday among NASCAR's 2017 Hall of Fame nominees MOORESVILLE, N.C. -- Ron Hornaday is currently not competing in NASCAR, but the four-time champion appears to be as busy as ever. And racing remains his focus. Hornaday, winner of a series-best 51 victories in NASCAR's Camping World Truck Series, is more hands-on these days, building dirt Modifieds for grandson Slater McCray and teammate Billy Workman Jr. as well as several other competitors. There are those who kick up the dust and ride the cushion on local tracks in the Carolinas, Kentucky, Indiana and various other venues who put their faith in a Hornaday-built entry. Given their success, it seems that trust has been well placed. A recent Saturday night outing at Fayetteville Motor Speedway indicated as much -- the top three in the Open Wheel Modified division were built by Hornaday Race Cars. "Back to building dirt cars and having fun again," Hornaday said recently from his race shop, surrounded by cars in various states of progress. "Back to doing a little bit of everything, I guess."
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Ron Hornaday Jr. picks up Daytona 500 sponsor
Smokey Mountain Herbal Snuff reteams with four-time Truck Series champ Play: NASCAR Fantasy Live " Vote: Ultimate Daytona Moment Smokey Mountain Herbal Snuff announced Tuesday that it has reached an agreement to sponsor Ron Hornaday Jr . in the season-opening Daytona 500 (Feb. 22, 1 p.m. ET, FOX). Hornaday, 56, is returning to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series for the first time since the 2003 season finale. The four-time champion in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series is scheduled to be the primary driver of The Motorsports Group's No. 30 Chevrolet this season. The Curtis Key-owned team announced earlier Tuesday that veteran wrench Pat Tryson will serve as crew chief. Tryson has eight victories as a crew chief in NASCAR's premier series, the most recent coming with Kurt Busch in 2009 during his tenure with Team Penske . The sponsorship deal marks a reunion for Hornaday and Smokey Mountain. The tobacco-free smokeless brand backed his Truck Series efforts in 2012 and 2013, and most recently adorned ThorSport Racing's No. 98 as a primary sponsor for Johnny Sauter in six races last season. "It's an honor to have Smokey Mountain Herbal Snuff back on board with me in 2015," Hornaday said in a release provided by the team. "Dave (Savoca, company president) and everyone at Smokey Mountain have always been huge supporters of mine and even after our partnership ended in 2013, we continued to stay in touch. To be able to represent their brand as I attempt to make the Daytona 500 is a dream come true for not only Smokey Mountain as a brand, but for me as a driver." Hornaday ranks as the all-time wins leader in the Camping World Truck Series with 51 victories. His only top-10 finish in the Sprint Cup Series was a ninth-place at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in 2001, his only full season at NASCAR's top level, when he drove for car owner A.J. Foyt. As a driver with a start-up Sprint Cup team, Hornaday will be required to qualify for the Daytona 500 (Feb. 22, 1 p.m. ET, FOX) on his speed in Coors Light Pole Qualifying or through his performance in the Budweiser Duel qualifying races. "Everyone at TMG has been working so hard during the offseason to get ready for 2015," Hornaday said. "I know it's a long shot, but I feel confident in what Curtis has put together. I honestly feel like we have a solid shot at making this race. It takes partners like Smokey Mountain to make this work and I'm going to give it everything I've got." FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
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