Liberty National to sponsor Trevor Bayne, Roush Fenway in 2017
Roush Fenway Racing announced Wednesday that Liberty National Life Insurance Company will sponsor the No. 6 Ford driven by Trevor Bayne next season in NASCAR's premier series. Liberty National will be a primary sponsor on Bayne's No. 6 in the second race of the year, the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 scheduled March 5. Roush Fenway indicated that the McKinney, Texas-based insurance provider will also be a "major associate sponsor" in multiple races in 2017. "We are excited to have Liberty National on board next season," Bayne said in a release provided by the team. "They are an extremely well respected brand that has been providing valuable services since 1900. It's the kind of brand that we are proud to have an association with and I can’t wait to see the No. 6 Liberty National Ford on track. Our goal is to put our car up front and compete for race wins." Bayne, the 2011 Daytona 500 winner, returns for his third full season with Roush Fenway Racing in 2017. AdvoCare also returns to the RFR No. 6 operation as a primary sponsor this season. Bayne finished 22nd in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series standings with two top-five finishes (fifth at Bristol in April, third at Daytona in July) last season. He also raced his way into the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race by winning a segment of the preliminary Sprint Showdown by .005 seconds over Chase Elliott .
Dale Jr. wins NMPA Sprint Most Popular Driver Award
MORE: Junior through the years " Relive all of Dale Jr.'s win s DARLINGTON, S.C. -- Although he missed one half of the 2016 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season due to injury, race fans still overwhelmingly selected Dale Earnhardt Jr . as the National Motorsports Press Association Sprint Most Popular Driver. Earnhardt's selection was announced Friday during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Awards program at the Wynn Las Vegas. A $10,000 donation to the charity of his choice will be made on behalf of the NMPA. It is the 14th consecutive season Earnhardt has been voted the series' MPD. The award is the only major NASCAR honor to be determined solely by fan vote. Only one other driver, Bill Elliott , has won the award more often. Elliott was named the series' most popular driver 16 times between 1984 and 2002. Earnhardt, driver of the No. 88 Chevrolet for Hendrick Motorsports , was sidelined at midseason after suffering concussion-like symptoms following on-track incidents at Michigan International Speedway and Daytona International Speedway . He is expected to return to competition for 2017. RELATED: Junior injury timeline "The Most Popular Driver Award is always very humbling to receive, even more so this year with my injury and time out of the car," Earnhardt Jr. said. "The fans continue to amaze me with their loyalty and the support they've shown throughout my career no matter the circumstance. "I try not to think about winning or losing the Most Popular Driver award; it's a bit of a gift, you know. Whether we win the award or not, we get a lot of great support from our fans all season long. I certainly got some extra support this year through the injury and all that stuff; it's unfortunate to be in that position but the fans were great. That was an incredible motivator for me during my recovery to get healthy. Not a lot of people that go through those types of support groups, but the fans really made a world of difference. "I was pretty open and transparent in sharing the process and they were certainly open and honest replying and wishing us well. It made the bad days better and once I started feeling good about coming back it gave me a lot of motivation, maybe a reminder I guess of why I want to be back in the car. You race to have fun and win races, but it wouldn't even be worth making the trip if the fans didn't show up. They're a huge reason why we want to get back in the car and be back at the track next year." Junior also tweeted a message to his fans after receiving the award. Thank you fans! You guys are such a huge part of our team and help motivate us in so many ways. pic.twitter.com/hvEek8hkux — Dale Earnhardt Jr . (@DaleJr) December 3, 2016 Sprint has been the presenting sponsor of the Most Popular Driver Award program since 2014. Forty drivers received one or more votes from fans during this year's 12-week voting period. Aside from Earnhardt Jr., others finishing in the top 10 in vote totals were (in alphabetical order): Kyle Busch , Carl Edwards , Chase Elliott , Jimmie Johnson , Kasey Kahne , Matt Kenseth , Danica Patrick , Tony Stewart and Martin Truex Jr . The Most Popular Driver Award has been presented annually since 1953 and the recipient was originally determined by a poll of competitors. It became a fan-driven program in 1984 under the guidance of the NMPA. &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;
Michael Phelps introduces Jimmie Johnson at Sprint Cup Awards
Two of sports' greatest collided Friday evening at the Sprint Cup Awards as Michael Phelps made a surprise appearance to introduce 2016's Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson in his official coronation. "Seven-Time," the man of the hour, received congratulations the entire evening, from Hendrick Motorsports owner Rick Hendrick to every Chase driver, but it was Phelps that took the driver by surprise. The most-decorated Olympian of all time took the stage to introduce Johnson -- from one champion to the next -- to the Las Vegas crowd. Once Johnson got to the mic for his highly-anticipated champion speech he was indeed shocked. "It's still sinking in," he confessed. "It's mind blowing." &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;
Paul Menard wins pole for Sprint Showdown
Greg Biffle will start on front row for Friday's night event RELATED: Learn more about the Sprint All-Star Race MORE: Full qualifying results Paul Menard took the pole for Friday night's Sprint Showdown (7 p.m. ET, FOX Sports 1, MRN, SiriusXM) at Charlotte Motor Speedway . Menard used a fast lap of 189.673 mph in the second of two round of group qualifying to take the top spot. Joining Menard on the front row will be Greg Biffle (189.660 mph). The Roush Fenway Racing driver topped the opening round at 189.960 mph. The second row will be made up of Michael Waltrip Racing teammates David Ragan (189.049 mph) and Clint Bowyer (188.298 mph). Bowyer won last year's Sprint Showdown . Second-year drivers Austin Dillon and Kyle Larson will make up the second row. Starting in the first three rows has been a theme of success in recent Sprint Showdowns. Eight of the past 11 winners of this event have started in the top six. The lone exceptions being Martin Truex Jr . (started 11th in 2007 win and started 20th in 2010 win) and Sam Hornish Jr . (started 8th in 2009 win). Truex will start seventh while Hornish will be starting 13th on Friday night. Danica Patrick will start 8th as she looks to race her way into the Sprint All-Star Race. Chase Elliott will start 11th as he attempts to get a fifth Hendrick Motorsports car into the field for the Sprint All-Star Race. Should he make the race, it will be a busy weekend for the defending XFINITY Series champion as that series competes at Iowa Speedway with practice and qualifying on Saturday and the 3M 250 on Sunday (2 p.m. ET, FOX Sports 1, MRN, SiriusXM). The Sprint Showdown will be on Friday night at 7 p.m. ET (FOX Sports 1, MRN, SiriusXM). The two winners of each 20-lap segment will advance to Saturday night's Sprint All-Star Race (9 p.m. ET, FOX Sports 1, MRN, SiriusXM). The winner of the first segment will report directly to the garage at the conclusion of the first segment. The Sprint Fan Vote winner will round out the field for the Sprint All-Star Race.
Chase Elliott to run in Sprint Showdown
XFINITY Series champ will look to race his way into Sprint All-Star Race Chase Elliott will attempt to make next weekend's Sprint All-Star Race by running in the Sprint Showdown on May 15 (7 p.m. ET, FOX Sports 1), Hendrick Motorsports announced on Tuesday. Elliott must win one of the two 20-lap segments in the No. 25 Chevrolet SS to make the Sprint All-Star Race on May 16. "I couldn't be more excited about the opportunity to run the Showdown ," Elliott said in a release provided by the team. "It allows me to gain more experience with my NAPA Auto Parts team before we race again at Charlotte a week later." The 19-year-old will be busy the weekend of the Sprint Showdown as the NASCAR XFINITY Series will be at Iowa Speedway that weekend as well. Elliott will go back-and-forth between Iowa and North Carolina that weekend. "I'm grateful to Mr. Hendrick and everyone at NAPA for the chance to do it," he said. Elliott has made two Sprint Cup Series starts already with a third coming the week after the All-Star Race in the Coca-Cola 600 on May 24. "Those additional laps will be a tremendous benefit when it's time to run 600 miles," Elliott said. The defending XFINITY Series champion is also slated to make starts this summer at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Darlington Raceway . Hendrick's four full-time drivers: Jimmie Johnson , Jeff Gordon , Dale Earnhardt Jr . and Kasey Kahne are already locked into participating in the Sprint All-Star Race. FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Austin Dillon tops Sprint Showdown practice
Biffle and Truex Jr. finish second and third in 100-minute session RELATED: Learn more about the Sprint Showdown MORE: Full practice results Austin Dillon topped the lone practice for Friday night's Sprint Showdown (7 p.m. ET, FOX Sports 1, MRN, SiriusXM) at Charlotte Motor Speedway . Dillon turned a fast lap of 189.288 mph at the 1.5-mile track during the 100-minute session. Greg Biffle (188.910 mph) was the second-fastest in the session, followed by Martin Truex Jr . (188.798 mph). The Sprint Showdown consists of two segments of 20 laps each, with the winner of each segment advancing to Saturday night's NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race. The winner of the first segment will not race in the second segment. Biffle has not missed an All-Star Race since 2004. Truex Jr. is currently second in the Sprint Cup Series point standings with 10 top-10 finishes in the first 11 events, but has not qualified for the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race. Paul Menard (188.758 mph) and Danica Patrick (188.613 mph) rounded out the top five in Friday's practice. Clint Bowyer , who won last year's Sprint Showdown , finished seventh in practice. Chase Elliott , who has made two Sprint Cup starts this season, finished 10th in practice (187.533 mph) and logged the most laps (53) in the session. Elliott is attempting to give Hendrick Motorsports five cars in the field for the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race on Saturday night (9 p.m. ET, FOX Sports 1, MRN, SiriusXM). He is also slated to compete in this weekend's NASCAR XFINITY Series 3M 250 at Iowa Speedway . Qualifying for the Sprint Showdown will take place at 4:15 p.m. ET Friday on FOX Sports 1. It will be a two-round session, with the opening round being 20 minutes and the top 12 advancing to the second round for a five minute session to determine the top 12 starting spots. FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Austin Dillon tops Sprint Showdown qualifying
Rookie will be joined by Allmendinger on the front row for Sprint Showdown
Sprint Showdown pit stall assignments
See where the drivers will line up on pit road for the Sprint Showdown
Sprint Fan Vote: Current top 10 revealed
RELATED: Cast your vote now The Sprint Fan Vote is underway, and now, we have updates on (perhaps) your favorite driver. There's still plenty of time left to vote but, so far, the top-10 vote-getters are as follows, in alphabetical order: AJ Allmendinger , Trevor Bayne , Ryan Blaney , Clint Bowyer , Matt DiBenedetto , Chase Elliott , Kyle Larson , Casey Mears , Danica Patrick and Brian Vickers . Patrick, who won the Sprint Fan Vote last year and in 2013, is the first two-time Sprint Fan Vote winner. Elliott and Blaney are the current leaders in the Sunoco Rookie of the Year competition. Fans are able to vote daily by downloading the NASCAR Mobile App or visiting www.nascar.com/SprintFanVote. Votes that are shared on Facebook or Twitter will count for double, so make sure to post on your social media channels. So if you're voting for one of the 10 drivers above, get to it! If your driver isn't on the list, don't worry -- there's still plenty of time to help him or her catch up. Fans have until 5 p.m. ET May 20 to cast their votes. NASCAR will announce the winner of the Sprint Fan Vote in Victory Lane after the Sprint Showdown at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Friday, May 20 (7 p.m. ET, FS1/MRN/Sirius XM NASCAR Radio). The NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race is scheduled for May 21. If any of the Sprint Fan Vote candidates wins in the races leading up to the Sprint All-Star Race, he or she will automatically earn a spot in the race and their name will be removed from the Sprint Fan Vote ballot. To purchase ticket packages for the Sprint All-Star Race weekend -- which includes the Sprint Showdown , NASCAR Camping World Truck Series N.C. Education Lottery 200, Andy Grammer pre-race concert powered by Rayovac and the Sprint All-Star Race and qualifying -- call Charlotte Motor Speedway at 1-800-455-FANS or visit CharlotteMotorSpeedway.com . Fans wishing to engage in the #SprintAllStar Race conversation through the #SprintFanVote window are encouraged to follow @MissSprintCup, @CLTMotorSpdwy and @NASCAR on Twitter.
Chase Elliott wins Sprint Fan Vote
The fans have spoken. Chase Elliott is headed to the Sprint All-Star Race as the Sprint Fan Vote winner. Danica Patrick finished in second place and also transfers into the Sprint All-Star Race to complete the 20-car field. "The biggest thing is just very fortunate to have some great fans," Elliott said after coming up just short of racing his way into the field with runner-up finishes is Segments 1 and 3. "Definitely really appreciate everybody voting and taking time out of their day to vote for us and get us in this race. Obviously wish I could've gotten us in racing our way, but fortunately have some great fans to do that for us." Patrick was appreciative of the fan support as well as she will make her third Sprint All-Star Race start. "First and foremost, thank you to the fans," Patrick said. "The only thing that would make this any better is if I could deliver a great finish for them and an exciting race and pass cars and make the car better for next week. "... It’s just even that much better to know that I have incredible fans that always come through. Don't think that I don’t see social media fans. And I see all the times that people said they voted for me. So, thank you very much." The Sprint All-Star Race, scheduled for 9 p.m. ET Saturday night, awards $1 million to the winner. The annual rite of spring boasts an impressive history and plenty of elite drivers. The 2016 version is televised on FS1 with radio coverage on MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. Fifteen drivers had qualified for the event heading into Saturday morning's Sprint Showdown by virtue of either winning a points-paying race in 2015 or thus far in 2016, having won a previous Sprint All-Star Race or being a former series champion. Three drivers qualified from the Sprint Showdown's three segments: Trevor Bayne , Greg Biffle and Kyle Larson . The top five vote-getters heading into the final week of voting were, in alphabetical order: Ryan Blaney , Matt DiBenedetto , Chase Elliott , Kyle Larson and Danica Patrick.